July 4, 2014

Fourth of July Sales

It’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be doing any shopping today, but I couldn’t help but notice all the sales going on this weekend. I’m generally not a big fan of holiday sales but I will admit that they can be a good opportunity to purchase seasonally relevant clothing before the weather begins to change. Here are a few quick picks:

Read More

April 24, 2014

Three Mid-Season Sales

There are a few noteworthy mid-season sales that began today, which makes this a good time to grab things that you can use right away; end-of-season sales can sometimes have better prices, but the sizes are usually limited and you often have to wait until the weather turns to wear what you bought. Here are some personal favorites.

Read More

March 17, 2014
Loafers for Spring and Summer
After recently writing an article on my favorite spring items, I decided to delve in to a few specific pieces that are worthy of their own conversation. One of these items is the loafer, which can be an attractive and versatile addition to any shoe wardrobe. I generally wear loafers as a replacement for sneakers, when I have a casual outfit that I want to polish up a bit. Loafers can certainly be worn with more formal clothes, but I like them best with heavily worn chinos or denim and button-down collar shirts.
My preferred loafer is of American or English descent; I enjoy the comfortable and casual sensibility that they evoke, and I am not particularly fond of the more aggressively styled Italian loafers I see out there. Although there are many derivations of loafers on the market these days, I will focus on tassel and penny varieties (both of which have a rich history in the US). I feel that the penny loafer is easier to wear (and therefore a better first purchase), but tassels are certainly having a moment right now and have more than earned their reputation as a “classic” over the years. The list below highlights the best manufacturers and models for those looking to add to their footwear selection this Spring.
[[MORE]]
Of course, buying high quality footwear is a worthwhile but expensive endeavour; if these prices are higher than your budget allows I highly suggest combing ebay for the models below. As long as you know your size well it can be a great place to stock up on well-made shoes for a reasonable price.
Alden: Nobody makes American loafers better than Alden (and the price reflects that, unfortunately). Noteworthy loafer models: cordovan tassel, calf tassel, suede tassel, cordovan penny, unlined suede and calf penny. If you’re in the Bay Area I’d highly recommend stopping by the Alden store in San Francisco, whether you’re in the market to buy or not.
Allen Edmonds: AE makes a wide range of loafers, but they are not all made to the same standard of quality (and some are much more attractive than…others). Here are their classic models: “Grayson” tassel in calf and cordovan, “Patriot” classic penny in calf, suede, and cordovan, and “Randolph” full-strap penny loafers in calf and cordovan. The price for AE calf shoes is significantly cheaper than Alden, whereas their shell is comparable in price. However, AE will hold regular sales when Alden does not.
Ralph Lauren: There are a few noteworthy shoes from RL, the most impressive of which are the “Marlow” penny and tassel cordovan loafers. These are part of a wider collection made exclusively for RL by Crockett & Jones. They are made out an exceptionally beautiful deep brown shade of Horween cordovan that can not be found on any other shoes (that I am aware of). They are incredibly expensive, but can usually be had for a (still incredibly expensive) price of $500-600 during seasonal sales. RL also carries loafers made by Allen Edmonds, but it’s usually worth going directly to AE unless these pairs are on deep discount (which happens occasionally).
Brooks Brothers: Like Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers has a few classic models made by high-end shoemakers that can sometimes be bought at good prices during sales. Their cordovan tassel and unlined penny are made by Alden, and are sometimes included in the 30% off corporate discount sales (see here; next one is on 3/20/14). They also carry these handsome calf penny loafers made by C&J; they’re the ones in the photo above. Brooks Brothers has many more models but a good portion of them are unattractive or not of good quality.
Carmina: This Spanish shoemaker has a wildcard option: the extremely popular string tie loafer. It may not have the historical significance of the penny and tassel, but has the same casual elegance. They also have more traditional models like this one.
Meermin: This blogger favorite is easier on the wallet and has many tassel and penny loafers in a variety of colors and materials. I prefer the styling of Meermin’s tassel loafers over the penny, but both are a good buy at about $225.
Jack Erwin: Another wallet-friendly option is Jack Erwin, a young company offering simple shoes for under $200 (free shipping and returns included). I have no experience with them, but their penny loafer could be a good option for the price. Some notes - the shoe is Blake welted and features a slightly sleeker last when compared to the sturdier and rounder goodyear-welted shoes featured above. This is not a bad thing, just a difference in construction and styling. The shoe does look a bit more “Continental” because of this, but is still simple enough to be a versatile choice.
There you have it - any of these options will keep your feet handsome and happy in the warm months ahead (whether you wear socks or not is completely up to you). If you know of another model that should be mentioned, please let me know in the comments below!

Loafers for Spring and Summer

After recently writing an article on my favorite spring items, I decided to delve in to a few specific pieces that are worthy of their own conversation. One of these items is the loafer, which can be an attractive and versatile addition to any shoe wardrobe. I generally wear loafers as a replacement for sneakers, when I have a casual outfit that I want to polish up a bit. Loafers can certainly be worn with more formal clothes, but I like them best with heavily worn chinos or denim and button-down collar shirts.

My preferred loafer is of American or English descent; I enjoy the comfortable and casual sensibility that they evoke, and I am not particularly fond of the more aggressively styled Italian loafers I see out there. Although there are many derivations of loafers on the market these days, I will focus on tassel and penny varieties (both of which have a rich history in the US). I feel that the penny loafer is easier to wear (and therefore a better first purchase), but tassels are certainly having a moment right now and have more than earned their reputation as a “classic” over the years. The list below highlights the best manufacturers and models for those looking to add to their footwear selection this Spring.

Read More

January 9, 2014

It’s Back on Sale: Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is continuing their winter clearance sale, and today they introduced an additional tiered discount - $20 off $100, $50 off $200, and $150 off $500. 

The cable knit sweaters I mentioned earlier we a big hit, and the price has been further reduced. With the sweater alone, the price is $196 - $20 = $176, but if you add some cheap socks (or another inexpensive item), the price goes down to $153, which is lower than what I mentioned before. There are also V-neck options as well. Neutral colors are getting a bit scarce, but there are still some good options available. 

There are also some made-in-USA suede loafers available for the same price; again, with the addition of some cheap socks the price is $153 (from $475). My understanding is that these are made by Allen Edmonds. Lots of sizes and two colors available. A great price for a well-made, classic shoe.

If you have a bit of cash left over from the holidays and are looking for a classic tuxedo, the Polo Ralph Lauren double-breasted option comes down to $550 after the discount. Pricey, to be sure, but this is the real deal, and it costs less than a made-in-China option from Suitsupply (and has much more classic details). Original price is $1750 - wow. Currently, most standard sizes are available. Grossgrain peak lapels, welted pockets, suspender buttons and no belt loops on a classic rise, and “alterations available in Ralph Lauren stores,” apparently. A fantastic option for the guy who needs a tux and looks great in double-breasted suits. There is also a flannel tuxedo (an odd choice) and a flannel chalkstripe suit available for the same price. Again, certainly a lot of money, but now we’re getting down to Suitsupply prices. 

All discounts are applied during checkout; no code needed. Sale ends January 13th. 

Edit: this tiered sale has ended, but prices have been further reduced and you can take an additional 20% off with the code “FROST20”. Still some good deals to be had, although some sizes are becoming scarce.

December 26, 2013

Post-Christmas Sales - Some Quick Picks

I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of post-Christmas sales, but I can’t deny the fact that there are some good deals to be had. There are many sales going on right now, so if you’ve been eyeing something online it may be worth looking to see if the price has dropped. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some items that caught my eye:

Ralph Lauren - 25% off sale items with MERRY25

The famous cable-knit cashmere sweater is on a surprisingly deep discount ($158 from $398). Lots of colors and sizes available. I own this one and I can say that in my experience it is higher quality than the similar offerings at J. Crew and Brooks Brothers. Expensive, but a good deal; this is the lowest that I have seen them go.

Also, these suede jodphur boots ($112 from $198) were popular last time they went on sale, and they’re $5 less now. Jodphur boots are definitely an acquired taste, but if you’re into them then this is a great deal.

Howard Yount - sale prices as noted

Stock and available sizes are all over the place, but there are some good finds. Some of the flannel trousers are priced at or below $165, which is as low as they will go. I’m a big fan - you can see my review of Howard Yount flannels here.

Mr. Porter - up to 50% off

Most of Mr. Porter’s offerings are too rich for my blood, but some of their accessories can come down to accessible prices during sales. For instance, this navy/white dot shantung silk tie by Drake’s ($85 from $170) would make a great staple tie.

Brooks Brothers - End-of-season Sale + 15% kicker

As I’ve mentioned before, using the multi-buy discounts can be beneficial here; oxford shirts come down to $51 (from $95) if you buy three. Also, check out the sale section for other items with large reductions (like these Supergas at under $50).

April 22, 2013
I have a feeling that I’ll be wearing some slight variation of this almost every day for the next four months (if the weather continues to cooperate, that is).

I have a feeling that I’ll be wearing some slight variation of this almost every day for the next four months (if the weather continues to cooperate, that is).

February 5, 2013

Business Casual Basics, Part III: Shoes

Previously: Part I, Part II. This is the third installment for my fellow white collar ballers.

If you’ve spent any time learning about men’s clothing (be it from family, friends, or the internet) you’ve probably heard a disproportional amount of talk about shoes. Shoes are a huge part of what dressing well is about (both in cost and importance), even though they take up a fairly small amount of space on your body. It can’t be stressed enough; shoes are often what separate the men from the boys, and business casual workplaces are notorious for bad shoe choices. A little bit of knowledge here will go a long way. Shoes are also the foundation of your outfit in stylistic and structural terms; if you buy well and take care of your purchases they will in turn keep you comfortable and stylish for decades.

1. Save up some money.

This one has the potential to get expensive. Accept the fact that high-quality shoes will be expensive if bought new, and can even be pricey when bought secondhand. Thrifting can be a good option here as well.

2. Learn the differences between “real shoes” and bad shoes.

High-quality shoes are expensive for many reasons, but the biggest two are material quality and construction. These qualities are much more important with shoes than they are in a shirt or pair of pants because shoes need to stand up to a tremendous amount of wear. Read Kiyoshi’s post and Put This On’s article to get a sense for what I’m talking about. If you buy a high-quality welted shoe that fits well and is well taken care of it will last for decades. Trust me.

Need some help finding out which brands can be trusted for high quality shoes and which can’t? I’ve included a short list at the bottom of this post, but my rule of thumb (toe?) is this: don’t buy shoes from any manufacturer that can’t tell you what last their shoes are made on. Any respectable shoe maker will have products on a range of last choices and will be able to tell you about them.

3. Understand the different styles and their applications.

Ready for some shoe terminology? This should be enough to get you started.

Read More

January 7, 2013
Business Casual Basics, Part II: Dress Pants 
After some positive feedback from my first business casual post (I see you, Reddit) I’ve decided to continue the series for my fellow white collar ballers (being a baller is not actually required). Again, this may be old hat to some, but for those that are interested – read on. 
[[MORE]]
1. Please stop buying black dress pants.
Just stop it. Right now. Unless you’re a classical musician or a waiter there’s really no need to go there. 
2. Assess your needs.
First, learn how people in your office dress and what the official stance on business attire is (if there is one). Some easy questions to ask yourself: does everyone have their pants creased or are they unpressed? Do you see wool slacks or cotton chinos or denim? If your office is anything like mine then all of these are perfectly acceptable, leaving the decisions to you. In my mind, business casual pants fall into three broad categories:
“Trousers.” This is a bit of a catch-all term, but in my mind it signifies pants made from a dressy fabric (usually some weave of wool, but any fiber will do) and with creases running up the legs. They will also have more formal details like slanted pockets, buttoned back pockets and hidden seams. These would be the equivalent of the bottom half of your suit, but without a matching jacket (you have a suit, right?).
Chinos. Named after the twill fabric that they are usually manufactured from, these bad boys are casual in nature but have become perfectly acceptable in most offices. These feature external stiching, rugged fabric, and a lack of creasing (or any pressing).
 Denim. Now before you get too excited, this isn’t a free pass for jeans in the office. I’m talking about dark, unadorned, slim/straight denim with no rips and holes. When done right this can work well with casual fabrics like oxford cloth and tweed.
Once you figure out what your office’s feel is and where your personal tastes lie you can start looking to purchase. Try to keep things consistent with the rest of your outfit; if you wear spread collars, ties and blazers you’re going to need trousers for just about every day. If you wear button down oxford shirts, sweaters, and loafers then you can roll with just chinos and denim. 
3. Figure out how these things should fit.
Now, this will depend on several things, namely your body shape, the pant style and your personal preferences. Much like shirts, the general concept is to find something that flatters your shape without pulling or looking constrictive. However, I believe that the fit should vary between the type of pants.
Trousers: due to their formal nature, I tend to lean towards classic proportions here. The nicer fabric will allow them to drape in an attractive manner and this is lost when they become overly snug. I don’t wear trousers tapered past 8” and I look for a rise that will allow them to sit above my hips.
As the intermediate choice, chinos can land anywhere on the spectrum. I prefer to keep mine on the slim side but make sure that my legs aren’t tapered past 7.5-8” (and I’m a lanky guy).
Denim can be worn slimmer than the other two styles, but within reason. I keep my denim snug in the thigh and waist as it tends to stretch with wear. I usually have a taper of about 7.5”.
Learning what pant fit suits you best will take some time and experimentation, but at the very least be conscious of the choices you make in this area so you can adjust in the future if need be. More information on fit can be found here and here. 
4. Gray, gray, gray, and then something close to gray (but still not black).
Gray is a great (gray-t?) color for trousers because it provides a solid foundation for the rest of your outfit without detracting from it. It’s hard to think of a traditional shirt or blazer color that won’t look good with gray pants (with the exception of gray, of course). Embrace the color and make it the cornerstone of your collection; your brown, tan and navy blazers will thank you. Add variety by using different shades and fabrics. Of course, denim is best in navy and chinos are classic in khaki, but stick with gray trousers until you’re well on your way to a full wardrobe.
5. Experiment with materials and texture rather than colors.
Wild colors can be fun but I find that diversifying with different fabrics is a more versatile way to expand your daily choices. Worsted wool is a standby for trousers, but consider flannel, tweed, moleskin, linen, tropical wool or cotton canvas depending on your climate.
6. Pleats: the ultimate divider
Pleats got a bad reputation when they became the go-to for guys giving PowerPoint presentations. I grew up in a world of relaxed fit triple-pleat Dockers and it was not pretty. However, there is a time and place for pleats. When worn correctly (up on your hips and not pulled open) they can help create a smoother appearance of the lines in your pants, especially for men with larger seats and thighs. However, if you don’t know much about how pleats operate I would suggest avoiding them until you know if they’ll be beneficial to you. More information can be found here.
7. Break it up.
The break of a pant leg is a crucial but often ignored aspect of fit. The term “break” refers to how far the pants extend down your leg before ending. A “full break” will involve the pant leg folding upon itself several times over the shoe, whereas no break implies that the pants end before even touching your feet. A medium break is an easy choice, but current trends favor slight/no break (as do I). Narrower pant legs will look best a bit shorter, and vice versa. More information here and here. 
8. Care for your clothes.
Take care of your clothes. Trousers should be hung and aired out before thrown in a closet. Dry clean only and do it as little as necessary. Chinos can usually be washed in a machine, and I prefer to hang dry mine. Iron if needed. Denim should stay out of the dryer and washed infrequently; the specifics beyond that vary depending on who you ask.
9. Make a list and stock up.
Pants for work can be found almost anywhere, but here is a short list (not complete by any means) that may help narrow your search.
Trousers: Howard Yount, Epaulet, Brooks Brothers, Land’s End
Chinos: Epaulet, Bonobos, J. Crew, Land’s End Canvas, Ralph Lauren
Denim: Levi’s, Gustin, 3Sixteen, A.P.C.
There rest of the Business Casual Basics series can be found here.

Business Casual Basics, Part II: Dress Pants 

After some positive feedback from my first business casual post (I see you, Reddit) I’ve decided to continue the series for my fellow white collar ballers (being a baller is not actually required). Again, this may be old hat to some, but for those that are interested – read on. 

Read More