January 29, 2014

Quick Tip: Choosing Your Fragrance

It seems like everyone is trying to get in on the money to be found in men’s fragrance. Not only are there the dozens of offerings from fashion labels who license out their name, now celebrities are getting in on the action. Luckily Justin Bieber has stuck with women’s perfume for the time being, but Adam Levine and Jay-Z, among others, now have fragrance offerings to titillate your senses.

Some of the men's fragrance counters at Macy's Herald Square

Most men’s colognes highlight woodsy, musky, and other traditionally ‘masculine’ scents. There is nothing wrong with them, they just aren’t my cup of tea – but it took me a little bit of experimentation to figure out what I preferred in their place. Personally, I have always favored lighter scents. I wore Gucci Pour Homme II and Versace Man Eau Fraiche for years while I was finding my style and developing my image.  

Before that, when I was much younger, I wore whatever colognes I was given as gifts, assuming that other people knew what would smell nice. As I became more comfortable, I began to branch out, looking for scents that I enjoyed, which is how I came upon Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.  At the time it was only a woman’s scent, but it was light and crisp and almost every time I wore it I received compliments. So I continued looking into scents that may not be marketed specifically to me, but which I could wear and enjoy without feeling like a 1980’s Brut ad.

Then, a few years ago, I discovered Jo Malone. As a fragrance company, their focus is entirely on scents and how they pair with one another. For me, this just made sense. When buying specialty clothes (running, snowboarding, etc) and skin care I look to companies that specialize in those things, so why not do the same with fragrance?

The Jo Malone counter at Macy's Herald Square

Since all fragrances smell differently on each individual because of body chemistry, it allowed me to customize a scent that was exactly what I wanted. Even better, I can change what I wear easily every single day based on my mood, or the season, or whimsy. The scents themselves are neither specifically ‘feminine’ nor ‘masculine’, but together make complex layers that I am constantly complimented on and asked about. There are about two dozen different scents, plus seasonal and limited edition options, so there is never a shortage of choices. 

Now, the point of this is not to write an advertisement for Jo Malone, but to demonstrate that, like your style, your scent should be something personal and carefully chosen. That’s not to say that you can’t buy a bottle off the shelf if you enjoy it, but that advertising shouldn’t limit your choices.

If you like a scent, wear it, whether it is marketed towards men or women, or even unisex. If you aren’t satisfied with the scents someone else is making, try creating your own (in the aforementioned Jo Malone sense, not the create your own chem lab sense). Like the outfit you wear, the way you smell is an impression you make on the world. Let that impression be a good one.

Stay stylish,

January 20, 2014

Style Feature: The Uncommon Jacket

Not all sport jackets are created equal and every so often, amid the sea of navy, grey, and black two-button notch lapel jackets you will run across a piece that is a little more interesting. Unique details, even simple ones, can really set your outfit apart and it is those details that constitute what I call an uncommon jacket.

1. Color

A colored jacket is something that should be worn judiciously. Simply being a non-basic color means that you will be making a statement with it, so balancing the rest of your outfit in neutral colors is an easy way to make sure you don’t look like you’re wearing a costume. The patch pockets on this jacket also add that extra detail to help it stand out.

Extra Tip : Despite appearing solid purple, this jacket is actually a purple and grey herringbone which keeps it from being too much of one color and makes it easier to pair with a neutral base.

Jacket by Scott James; Trousers by Express Studio;
Sweater by Nautica; Shirt by Uniqlo;
Shoes by Johnston & Murphy; Tie by Penguin;
Pocket square by Giorgio Armani;
Gloves (in pocket) by French Connection

2. Collar

Sometimes even a simple grey jacket can prove itself uncommon with the right touches. In this instance, the shawl collar makes the jacket a little unique but the knit lapel is what really sets it apart. The slightly higher 3-button stance adds a bit of English flair without feeling dated and the contrast stitching on the buttons give a little pop without being ostentatious.

Extra Tip : An added benefit to having a shawl collar is that you can pop it in place of a scarf if the wind unexpectedly picks up.

Jacket by Ted Baker; Cord pants by Gant Rugger; Shirt
by Uniqlo; Boots by AllSaints; Tie by Band of Outsiders;
Belt by Nautica; Gloves by French Connection;
Pocket square by Ted Baker (part of pocket lining)

3. Silhouette

Most modern jackets you will find are two or three button with a low stance. What I like about this one is the almost Edwardian silhouette. The self-covered buttons, hidden placket, contrast collar, and ticket pocket all serve to make this more than your run-of-the-mill blazer, despite its rather subdued pattern.

Extra Tip : Though you may have to pay more for an abundance of detail, it usually translates into a better quality piece since the designer invested the time in adding them in.

Jacket and tie by Alexander McQueen; Trousers and
boots by John Varvatos; Vest by J. Crew; Shirt and
belt by Ted Baker; Pocket square by Burberry

Pushing the boundaries of your personal style doesn’t need to consist of a drastic change or require you to step outside of your comfort zone. Introducing unique details into your tailored garments lets you stand out from the everyday and express a little more of your own personal style, while still feeling appropriate for whatever occasion you may be dressing for.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

January 11, 2014

Style Feature: The Weekend Getaway

I’ve done posts on vacation wardrobes before, here and here, but they were both for weeklong excursions. I have gotten pretty good at editing what I pack for a longer vacation, but usually have a hard time with weekend trips. I always find myself over packing to make sure I have sufficient options for whatever my itinerary or the weather may throw at me, but also to keep some visual interest and versatility in what I wear. For my most recent trip to upstate New York, I wanted to challenge myself to pack everything (footwear, accessories, toiletries, etc) into one moderately sized bag.

This is everything that I packed for a relaxing weekend out of the city (excluding my dopp kit and undergarments). There was nothing really on the agenda except relaxing, so I wanted to have a good mix of casual pieces with the option to dress it up a bit if the situation warranted.

Day 1

Sweater by Nautica; Shirt by Gant Rugger; Denim by PPD;
Sneakers by AllSaints; Scarf by Burberry; Hat by Prada;
Tote c/o Nautica

As it turns out, it’s a good thing I packed so light on this trip because the rental car company decided to give me a subcompact instead of an economy so space was definitely a commodity. It was snowing for the trip up, but the forecast wasn’t too frigid and I didn’t really plan to go out too much so I didn’t bring a coat. Instead, I relied on my extra long cashmere scarf and a chunky sweater to keep me warm.

Day 2

Shirt by Gant Rugger; Henley by Odin New York for Target; Denim by PPD;
Sneakers by AllSaints

Since it was still, you know, winter, I offset the lighter weight of the woven shirt by layering a henley underneath. I love the versatility that a henley provides because I could just have easily flipped the shirts and worn the woven underneath the henley for a completely different look.

Extra Tip : If you are going to wear canvas sneakers in the winter, warm socks are a must. I discovered J Crew’s camp socks on an unexpectedly cold trip to Vermont a few years back and they have since become a winter staple for me.

Day 3

Sweater by Nautica; Shirt by Uniqlo; Chinos and shoes by AllSaints;
Tie by Ben Sherman; Socks by J. Crew; Laces by Allen Edmonds

The last day entailed a nice brunch, so I wanted to dress a little nicer. The nice thing about this outfit is that, while it is dressy enough for casual entertaining or a nice brunch, it is still comfortable enough to travel in.

The most important thing to remember when packing for a weekend trip is to keep it light but functional. Neutrals and basics will give you more versatility in mixing pieces over different days, but keep in mind your planned activities. A weekend trip to a business convention is going to have different requirements than a getaway to the rural countryside.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

January 1, 2014

Year In Review: 2013

This past year was another crazy one, both for me and for The Shy Stylist. So many new opportunities presented themselves and hopefully I’ll have more to share with you in 2014! The downside to how busy I found myself is that I didn’t get nearly as much content posted as I had hoped and planned to. With this post to kick off the new year, I’m going to make a concerted effort to post more regularly and consistently.

My DIY series has produced some of my most popular posts, so expect to see more of that. If there is a DIY project you want me to tackle, shoot me an email at and maybe you’ll see it on the blog! There will also be lots more Style Features to help inspire your own looks this coming year and of course I’ll have some In Review and Favorite Finds posts to share some new and cool things with you.

As has become my new year’s tradition, in no particular order, here are my five favorite looks from 2013. And if you want to check out the original post, just click the title.

Boots by L.L. Bean; Jacket by C'N'C Costume National; Sweater by Ben Sherman;
Shirt by Nautica; Chinos by Gant Rugger; Belt from Gap;
Pocket square by Thomas Pink; Sunglasses by Bulgari

What I love about this look is that it shows some of the versatility that a utilitarian piece, like L.L. Bean’s Bean Boot can have.

Sweater by Rag & Bone for Neiman Marcus & Target; Shirt by Uniqlo;
Cords by Gant Rugger; Boots by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Tie by Band of Outsiders; Tie bar by Link Up; Sunglasses by Bulgari

I think one of the reasons I liked this shoot so much is because I got to wear some of my favorite pieces all at once, and it looked good. Don’t be afraid of mixing textures and patterns, the right combination can really set you apart.

Jacket by Ted Baker; Trousers by Fink Clothing; Shirt by Uniqlo; Shoes by AllSaints;
Bow tie by Liberty London; Tux scarf by Dior; Pocket square by Salvatore Ferragamo;
Socks by Tom Ford; Laces by Allen Edmonds; Watch by Bulova

This post was just fun. I like getting dressed up, but rarely get the occasion to wear my tux scarf. The list is pretty much limited to formal galas, opening night of the opera, and fancy New Year’s Eve parties, so I will take any excuse I can get. This look was also a great example of having a look come together almost on it’s own. I’ve had the pants for years, so when I brought home the jacket and found that it matched almost perfectly, I was super excited!

Jacket and bag by AllSaints; Shirt and cords by Gant Rugger; Boots by John Varvatos;
Scarf by rag & bone; Watch by Nautica; Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

This was an easy one to shoot because sometimes an outfit just comes together and colors play perfectly against each other. This whole post challenged me a little though because most people have seasonal outfits, so finding stylish ways to mix seasons took some creativity, but a well-curated wardrobe definitely helps.

Jacket, shirt, pants, shoes, pocket square, & lapel pin by Ted Baker;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

I like doing head-to-toe posts because it makes me take a fresh look at my wardrobe. More often than not, a label with a clear design aesthetic will do most of the work for you. Pieces from different seasons and years apart will complement each other like they were sent down the runway together. Ted Baker is also one of my favorite labels because not only do the pieces have fun design quirks, but their jackets are some of the few that fit me well without any alterations needed.

Denim vest by Levis (customized); Leather jacket from thrift (customized);
Time Again band tee; Denim by Kill City; Boots by Altama; Hat from thrift;
Bandana, studded belts, leather bracelet from unknown/unbranded

I wanted to include this bonus look because I just really like it. I spent hours making this vest and years wearing it, so I'm glad that I got to share it on the blog.

I hope you all had a great 2013 and that 2014 is even better! I love getting your emails, so keep them coming!

Have a stylish new year,

- JJ