From Squalor to Baller

Apr 24

[video]

Apr 23

The Joys of a Well-Organized Closet
I love organizing stuff. I wouldn’t go as far as to call my behavior OCD, but I do have an affection for things in their right place, whether it’s a tidy desk drawer, a well-organized suitcase, or a collection of largely unused neckties. To me, the appearance of well-thought out organization is greater than the sum of the parts, and this is especially true with closets. Closets and clothing storage have the potential to become a centerpiece in the room if you let them, but they can also become a nightmarish mess if ignored. I’m nowhere near Vox-status when it comes to clothing storage, but I do make an honest effort with the limited space (and funds) I have. Here are some of my strategies for keeping the small amount of closet space I have as tidy and effective as possible.
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1. Upgrade your hangers and other storage tools. There is no place for wire and plastic hangers in a well-organized closet. Wooden hangers don’t have to be expensive, and they’re much better than wire and better looking than plastic. Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project makes the best ones out there; his suit and jacket hangers are especially great (although they are expensive and do take up quite a bit of room). Wooden Hangers USA is also a good source, but their hangers don’t come in different sizes like Kirby’s. For shirt hangers I just bought a pack of these from Amazon a few years ago and haven’t looked back.
2. Cull the herd. As much as I like to pride myself on being selective and particular with my purchases, I still seem to accumulate more than I need. Unused items need to be removed; it’s that simple. If an item just needs a week at the tailor to join your regular rotation, go ahead and make the investment. If it’s damaged, get rid of it. Otherwise, donate or sell. If you have some high-quality items and are looking for a consignment service, get it over to Luxeswap for a painless and profitable experience. And moving forward, consider utilizing a one-in, one-out policy to keep your purchases in check.
3. Utilize shelves and drawers for non-hanger clothes. Whether it’s making a few shelves for your shoes or having wicker baskets for your sweater collection, these tools will help keep things organized and reduce clutter. I still have a ways to go on this front, but I’m making progress.
4. Find a separate home for seasonal clothes. Many of us living in big cities don’t have this luxury, but if you can move your seasonal items into a different closet you will reduce overcrowding and make it easier to find what you’re looking for. If you don’t have a spare closet in the hallway, consider getting an airtight container for under your bed. This will get seasonal clothes out of the way and help protect them from dust and pests.
5. Put that thing back where it came from (or so help me). Having an organized closet only works if you take the time to put things back on their hangers when they’re ready for storage. I can’t help you if you just throw your clean clothes on the floor.
Those are my thoughts on the matter. Do you guys have any tips for keeping your closet in check? Let me know in the comments below.

The Joys of a Well-Organized Closet

I love organizing stuff. I wouldn’t go as far as to call my behavior OCD, but I do have an affection for things in their right place, whether it’s a tidy desk drawer, a well-organized suitcase, or a collection of largely unused neckties. To me, the appearance of well-thought out organization is greater than the sum of the parts, and this is especially true with closets. Closets and clothing storage have the potential to become a centerpiece in the room if you let them, but they can also become a nightmarish mess if ignored. I’m nowhere near Vox-status when it comes to clothing storage, but I do make an honest effort with the limited space (and funds) I have. Here are some of my strategies for keeping the small amount of closet space I have as tidy and effective as possible.

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Apr 21

What I Wore this Weekend - the California Tuxedo (not to be confused with an actual tuxedo)

Blazer - Boglioli | Chinos - J. Crew | Popover - Proper Cloth | Shoes - Brooks Brothers (ebay) | Watch - Omega

What I Wore this Weekend - the California Tuxedo (not to be confused with an actual tuxedo)

Blazer - Boglioli | Chinos - J. Crew | Popover - Proper Cloth | Shoes - Brooks Brothers (ebay) | Watch - Omega

Apr 14

Product Review: Warby Parker Eyeglasses and Sunglasses
One of the common frustrations in my day-to-day life is the fact that I have bad eyes. They are weak in the sun, dry at night, and aren’t particularly good at seeing things that are close by or far away. It’s been a constant source of annoyance over the years, but I’ve quickly found that the best way to manage them is to take good care of them. Of course, anyone with a prescription knows the out-of-control cost of glasses these days; as you can probably imagine, that’s where Warby Parker comes into play.
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For those that don’t know, Warby Parker entered the eyewear business several years and has since become the go-to place for affordable, attractive, and well-made glasses. I would take a moment to explain Warby Parker’s business model, but it has become so well-known that I now seen other companies referred to as “the Warby Parker of _____” It goes without saying that their “cut-out-the-middleman, try-on-at-home” philosophy has been extremely successful; if you’re not familiar with how it works, read here and here.
Warby Parker’s business model is certainly interesting, but it becomes much more so with a good understanding of the eyewear market. For instance - if you’re not already familiar with the brand Luxottica, they’re essentially a huge behemoth of a company that owns all the glasses manufacturers and retailers you can think of (yeah, all of them). Essentially, this means that if you’re not buying glasses from a small handful of companies - like Moscot, Garrett Leight, Randolph Engineering, and a few others - you’re stuck sending your money to an enormous corporation that has an incredible amount of control over the price of glasses. Warby Parker is a breath of fresh air in this regard, and I’m sure that one of the ways they can offer such a great price is the fact that they are not connected to Luxottica or one of the other major eyewear companies.
As for my two pairs, I own the "Lyle" prescription frames and the "Sinclair" sunglasses (currently only available as optical). The sunglasses are about two years old now, and the optical frames are fairly new. Neither have had any mechanical problems with loose screws or hinges, and the acetate has no signs of age beyond the expected amount of wear. 
I’ve accumulated some dings and scratches on the sunglasses, but I’m honestly surprised they’re aren’t worse off given how hard I use them. I also just learned that WP will replace scratched lenses for free within the first year, which is more than reasonable (lenses can be replaced for a small fee after one year). These shades are with me every time I leave the house, and have seen a lot of action over the past two years. I’d like to expand my sunglasses collection a bit so that I have a few options, but for the time being these have been lifesavers.
Besides having the standard UV protection, all of WP’s sunglasses are also polarized; this makes a huge difference, and also usually incurs a large price increase. For those that aren’t familiar, polarized lenses reduce glare and increase clarity by filtering out horizontal light - this makes them great for water-related activities like sailing (although it will make the screen of your iphone look weird). The shape of the Sinclair frames is simple and unassuming, along with being slightly narrow for my small head. The burgundy fade colorway is a nice subtle bit of distinction, too.

My “Lyle" frames are quite new, but I have had no problems with the prescription lenses or hardware. I was able to take a quick photo of my prescription card and attach it to my order, and the rest was taken care of. Pretty simple, really. I opted for the high-index lenses, which cost an additional $30 - a very reasonable upcharge. Their high-index frames are also ashperic, and both of these upgrades decrease lens weight and distortion (which is great on a hefty prescription like mine).

Of course, Warby Parker glasses do have their shortcomings, but these are small compared to the overall value of the product. To me, the biggest issue is that the frames do not come in varying sizes, which limits options; there are many pairs that I loved the styling of but were too big for my small head and therefore not an option (I probably had three home-try-ons for each pair purchased, but this didn’t seem to be a problem with WP). And although I think WP’s retro-inspired frames are definitely attractive, I do think that some other high-end brands have slightly more refined designs (for instance, compare Warby Parker’s Downing to Garret Leight’s Hampton or Olver People’s O’Malley - the differences are subtle, but I find the styling on the latter two a bit more appealing). And although the material and construction quality is relatively high, I don’t think it’s quite at the level of more expensive brands. For instance, my opticals have a bit of a creaky sound to them - not from the hinges, but from the lenses rubbing against the frame. 
These comments definitely aren’t to say that I think Warby Parker glasses are a bad deal, though; the fact that I’m comparing them to glasses 3-5x their price should be an indicator of that. This blog focuses on products that provide a great value for their relative cost, and Warby Parker excels in that regard.
So if you’re optically challenged like myself or just need a go-to pair of shades for the upcoming summer, I highly recommend looking into Warby Parker if you haven’t already. I don’t think you’ll find better quality, styling, or customer service for under $100 anywhere else.

Product Review: Warby Parker Eyeglasses and Sunglasses

One of the common frustrations in my day-to-day life is the fact that I have bad eyes. They are weak in the sun, dry at night, and aren’t particularly good at seeing things that are close by or far away. It’s been a constant source of annoyance over the years, but I’ve quickly found that the best way to manage them is to take good care of them. Of course, anyone with a prescription knows the out-of-control cost of glasses these days; as you can probably imagine, that’s where Warby Parker comes into play.

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Apr 08

Reader Questions

My tumblr inbox is starting to get full again, so here’s another slew of questions from my readers and my best attempts to answer them. 

If you have a question, the best way to get an answer is through the Disqus comments on the bottom of the pertinent article; this helps reduce the amount of questions that are asked over and over again and adds to the great conversations already happening there. If that’s not to your liking, you can hit me up on twitteremail, or the ask box (but the latter will take the longest time for a response).

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Apr 07

What I Wore This Weekend - Billionaire Birthday 




How often do you get the opportunity to attend a wildly extravagant birthday party in City Hall? Well, once every year - if you know the guy. 
Tuxedo - Suitsupply (more coming soon) | Shirt - Proper Cloth | Grosgrain bowtie - The Tie Bar | Square - Kent Wang | Velvet slippers - Church’s for Brooks Brothers | Cufflinks - gift | Suspenders (not seen) - vintage | Socks - Pantherella | Glasses - Warby Parker

What I Wore This Weekend - Billionaire Birthday 

How often do you get the opportunity to attend a wildly extravagant birthday party in City Hall? Well, once every year - if you know the guy. 

Tuxedo - Suitsupply (more coming soon) | Shirt - Proper Cloth | Grosgrain bowtie - The Tie Bar | Square - Kent Wang | Velvet slippers - Church’s for Brooks Brothers | Cufflinks - gift | Suspenders (not seen) - vintage | Socks - Pantherella | Glasses - Warby Parker

Apr 03

FStB is on TSB
A few weeks ago I had the good fortune of meeting up with Dan and Alex of TSBMen and working with them to create an editorial discussing my personal style. On the off chance that you aren’t familiar with TSBMen (formerly The Style Blogger), the site was created by Dan Trepanier about 5 years ago and has since grown into one of the largest men’s style sites in the world. I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with their site if you haven’t already.
The TSB site has often taken a different path than the hundreds of men’s style blogs out there, but I have always appreciated that they have remained an independent voice on men’s clothing in a scene overwhelmed with groupthink and re-hashed content. The TSB team has continually churned out original writing and photography on their site, which is something that is surprisingly rare these days. 
On top of that, Dan and Alex are two very entertaining and down-to-earth guys; it was great to spend some time getting to know them and working with them on this editorial. 
As you would probably expect, I used this opportunity to talk about the merits of a small, simple wardrobe and how I’ve used that as a foundation for my own personal style. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks again to Alex and Dan for making me look cool, and for including me in their great library of work.
Check out the article here. 

FStB is on TSB

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune of meeting up with Dan and Alex of TSBMen and working with them to create an editorial discussing my personal style. On the off chance that you aren’t familiar with TSBMen (formerly The Style Blogger), the site was created by Dan Trepanier about 5 years ago and has since grown into one of the largest men’s style sites in the world. I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with their site if you haven’t already.

The TSB site has often taken a different path than the hundreds of men’s style blogs out there, but I have always appreciated that they have remained an independent voice on men’s clothing in a scene overwhelmed with groupthink and re-hashed content. The TSB team has continually churned out original writing and photography on their site, which is something that is surprisingly rare these days. 

On top of that, Dan and Alex are two very entertaining and down-to-earth guys; it was great to spend some time getting to know them and working with them on this editorial. 

As you would probably expect, I used this opportunity to talk about the merits of a small, simple wardrobe and how I’ve used that as a foundation for my own personal style. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks again to Alex and Dan for making me look cool, and for including me in their great library of work.

Check out the article here

Mar 31

The Search for the Perfect Breton
Over the years there have been a few items that I have attempted to add to my wardrobe, only to be thwarted by unexpected problems. In these cases, I have spent hours trying to find the perfect item, only to discover issues with fit, style, or material. It is a frustrating experience and one that I’m sure many of you have had in one form or another.
One such item for me is the Breton - a classic men’s and women’s garment that, like so many others, began as a military uniform. The Breton was invented by Saint James for the French Navy in the 1850s; the classic navy/white stripes were supposedly used to help locate sailors that fell overboard. Since that time, the garment has become a symbol of casual elegance all over the world.
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There are many modern iterations of the classic Breton, several of which come from Saint James. The Binic II is the classic button-shouldered sweater, and the Meridien II is the traditional boatneck long-sleeve shirt. I have been looking to add something similar to the Meridien II to my summer wardrobe for years now, but a few things have been stopping me from purchasing the original. For starters, it’s a bit expensive (it’s just a shirt, after all), and the fit information is also ambiguous due to the unisex sizing. For these reasons, I decided to expand my search. 
My first attempt was off a tip from Put This On, who suggested looking into deadstock Soviet Telnyashkas. This military uniform is based off the French naval one, so the designs are essentially the same. I decided to give it a shot and picked one up on ebay for about $25. Unfortunately, the strange fit made the garment virtually unwearable, and the white stripes had a pink tinge to them, indicating a wash with something red in a past life. Strike one.
Now slightly jaded, I decided to go with something more familiar and searched the sale circuit for brands I was more comfortable with. I ended up finding a Breton from Gant on a discount site and picked it up. This time, though, the aggressive boatneck, 3/4 sleeves, and super-tight fit made the garment too effeminate to wear comfortably. Moreover, the shirt was made from a thin t-shirt cotton, rather than the heavy carded cotton used in the original. Good for some, perhaps, but not for me. Strike two.
At this point I was faced with a classic dilemma - give up my search and take my previous purchases as a loss, or persevere, carrying the guilt of previous unsuccessful purchases with me. I decided to end my search prematurely, and had to suffer through the summers of 2012 and 2013 without a Breton (I survived, somehow). 
I could drag this story on further, but I’ll wrap it up and say that the perfect Breton was hiding in plain sight the whole time, at the Uniqlo on Powell Street (and online). It was exactly what I wanted - a comfortably slim long-sleeve shirt with bold navy/white stripes and heavy cotton fabric. The Uniqlo model features a standard crewneck instead of the traditional boatneck, but this makes the garment a bit less bold and easier to “pull off” for the average man. The fit is true-to-size; I took my normal size (small) and it is a slim and comfortable fit. 
The best part? This Breton comes in at under $20 - the cheapest of the three I tried. Although I’m sure the quality isn’t quite on par with the traditional model, it’s plenty good for a simple cotton shirt. I plan on wearing mine like you see above - with beat-up chinos and loafers. If I’m feeling adventurous, I might even slip it on under a lightweight navy blazer. I might also sport it on my next sailing trip, just in case I tumble overboard after a few too many PBRs. 
EDIT: some readers mentioned a couple more great places to purchase inexpensive Bretons - MUJI and Armorlux. Both brands have a solid reputation and make great replicas of the original style. Thanks, guys!

The Search for the Perfect Breton

Over the years there have been a few items that I have attempted to add to my wardrobe, only to be thwarted by unexpected problems. In these cases, I have spent hours trying to find the perfect item, only to discover issues with fit, style, or material. It is a frustrating experience and one that I’m sure many of you have had in one form or another.

One such item for me is the Breton - a classic men’s and women’s garment that, like so many others, began as a military uniform. The Breton was invented by Saint James for the French Navy in the 1850s; the classic navy/white stripes were supposedly used to help locate sailors that fell overboard. Since that time, the garment has become a symbol of casual elegance all over the world.

Read More

Mar 27

I’m heading to Vegas tomorrow to check out the recently completed Vegas High Roller. It’s the world’s largest observation wheel at 550 feet, and I had the pleasure of working for the firm that designed it. One of the best things about being a structural engineer is seeing the projects you’ve worked so hard on become a physical reality - there’s nothing quite like it.
Here’s what I’m bringing:
Navy suit with white linen pocket square
White spread-collar shirt
Simple navy tie
spread-collar oxford shirt
Chambray shirt
Chinos
a brown leather belt
Swim trunks for the hotel pool
Navy cotton blazer
Black oxfords for the evening
loafers for loafing
sneakers for…sneaking
See the rest of my packing posts here.

I’m heading to Vegas tomorrow to check out the recently completed Vegas High Roller. It’s the world’s largest observation wheel at 550 feet, and I had the pleasure of working for the firm that designed it. One of the best things about being a structural engineer is seeing the projects you’ve worked so hard on become a physical reality - there’s nothing quite like it.

Here’s what I’m bringing:

See the rest of my packing posts here.

Mar 25

Chinos for Spring and Summer
Like I mentioned in my "Spring Selections" post, chinos are a great item to have on hand when the weather starts to warm up (and they’re much more affordable than loafers, too). Like many other popular men’s garments, chinos have a military background but have become immensely popular with civilians over the decades. They offer a casual alternative to denim, and are equally appropriate in business casual offices and summer beach houses. I generally look for chinos in the off-white, grey, and khaki spectrum, but there are plenty of companies offering them in bold colors. The choice is up to you.
I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite models below; any half-decent men’s store should have plenty this time of year, but these are the ones that I’m most familiar with. 
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Uniqlo: This Japanese retailer has become popular for its inexpensive basics, and their chinos are some of the most celebrated. Their Vintage Chinos are accessible in both price and fit; they come in at $40 and are a fairly classic fit with a very slight taper. I have these in a size 31 and the leg opening is about 8” across. The material is not great - it’s rather flat and dull, but at $40 or under they’re fairly priced. They also have a slim fit model, but these are VERY slim and are much too tapered for my tastes, even for casual use. All told, though, the Vintage Chinos are a decent buy for the price.
J. Crew: J. Crew has a variety of cuts for chinos, but I’m most familiar with the Urban Slim Fit. This fit has a bit more taper below the knee than the Uniqlo Vintage Chinos - my size 31Urban Slims measure 7.5” across the hem - but the thigh and rise are somewhat similar (i.e. not aggressively slim and low). There is a big jump in material and construction quality between the two, and these can often be had for $50 or less during sales.
Club Monaco: This mid-tier retailer, owned by Polo Ralph Lauren, is surprisingly new to the online retail game. Their aesthetic is certainly similar to J. Crew, and I find most of their products to be comparable in cost and quality. Their "Davis" slim fit is my personal choice, and is similar in price and fit to the J. Crew Urban Slim (CM does have two other fits, in case you want something skinnier or fuller). I don’t think there’s a huge difference between these and J. Crew’s, but I’ve found that Club Monaco’s clothes tend to go on deeper discount during sales.
Brooks Brothers: BB has a few different options; their Milano chino is a fairly office-ready style of chino, but is reasonably slim through the thigh and calf. They also have a new line of aptly-named "Slim Fit" chinos from their youthful Red Fleece line. I have not tried these on, but my hunch is that they’re a bit slimmer than the Milano and feel more casual due to the garment-washed fabric.
Epaulet: Epaulet’s offerings seem to expand every time I look at their site, but chinos and trousers have been one of their classic items from the beginning. Their Rivet Chinos are a big step up from the mass-produced items above - they’re made in the USA by a highly regarded company, and the material and construction quality are very good. Prices vary from $135 to $165, which is a reasonable price for what they’re offering. I would try to describe the fit myself, but you’d be much better off just reading their product measurements on the site.
Bonobos: I say this with a bit of hesitation, since I think Bonobos has changed as a company quite a bit in the past few years (I don’t think I’ve bought anything from them since 2011). Their fits have evolved a bit since I was buying chinos there, but they offer a solid product with a slightly different shape (usually a bit slimmer in the thighs and seat - see measurements here). Personally, I find their aggressive use of patterned liners a bit annoying, but it can look fine if you only have one pair. They also have some other options without the “statement pockets.” I think their stuff is too pricey at full retail, but they can become a good option during sales.
Dockers: Another popular budget option (from the infamous source for multi-pleat chinos) is the Dockers Alpha Khaki. These tend to run quite slim, and feature a lower rise and casual detailing. For that reason, I think they’d be more at home with a polo or casual shirt rather than an OCBD and blazer. They can also be found on Amazon for prices as low as $20.
Incotex and Mabitex: I am not personally familiar with these two Italian companies, but their names always come up when people talk about chinos (and I’ve seen many great photos of them in the past few years). The quality of their garments is supposedly high, but the fit varies considerably depending on the model. If you want to check them out, here’s what they have on YOOX.  
As always, there are many great options that I have inevitably left out. Who makes your favorite pair of chinos? Let me know in the comments below.

Chinos for Spring and Summer

Like I mentioned in my "Spring Selections" post, chinos are a great item to have on hand when the weather starts to warm up (and they’re much more affordable than loafers, too). Like many other popular men’s garments, chinos have a military background but have become immensely popular with civilians over the decades. They offer a casual alternative to denim, and are equally appropriate in business casual offices and summer beach houses. I generally look for chinos in the off-white, grey, and khaki spectrum, but there are plenty of companies offering them in bold colors. The choice is up to you.

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite models below; any half-decent men’s store should have plenty this time of year, but these are the ones that I’m most familiar with. 

Read More