Friday, March 29, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets is proud to announce our very first promotional giveaway! We’ve partnered up with Tie Society in conjunction with our recent review and will be awarding one lucky reader a free month subscription to Tie Society’s wonderful services. To win, use the widget below to gain entries by following us on Twitter, tweeting about the contest, and/or ‘Liking’ our Facebook page (do all three for the best chance to win). A winner will be chosen when the contest closes at midnight (CST) on Thursday, March 28th, takes home the gold. Good luck!
Tip: When entering by tweeting about the giveaway, click the little ‘tweet’ picture. Rafflecopter, our host for the giveaway, does not make that very clear.
Brand Background: Have you heard of Netflix? I hope so, or you’ve been living under a rock. Well, Tie Society offers a very similar service adapted to provide neckties for the well-dressed gentleman instead of DVD’s. Founded by Zac Gittens and Otis Collins, the idea started as a simple tie-swap among friends and has developed into the next big thing in menswear subscription services. With three pricing tiers, you can opt to ‘borrow’ one, three, five, or ten items at a time, with subscriptions starting at a very affordable $10.95/month. After you build your ‘Closet’ (very similar to a Netflix ‘queue’) from their extensive collection featuring a variety of designers, widths, patterns, and materials, Tie Society will ship your first selection off to you. Whenever you have had enough of your current selection, you just ship it on back in their pre-paid packaging and they send you the next item on your list. I believe they started out just offering ties, but they’ve been diligently developing their service and now offer a variety of other accessories such as pocket squares, tie bars and cuff links. Their newest service allows you to sell your quality ties back to them to be entered into their ever-expanding rotation (and I’ve heard lots of rumors that they have big plans for the future).
Customer Service: I think this is where Tie Society really shows it’s worth. Their customer service is incredible. I’ve never not once gotten the wrong tie, and all my orders are processed quickly. Over the Christmas holiday, I had picked out a green knit tie to wear Christmas day and there was a shipping delay returning my previous tie. I was worried I wouldn’t get the green tie before we left for vacation, so I got ahold of the customer service team and they not only hustled the tie into the mail for me, they sent it to my vacation address just to make sure I’d have it for Christmas day. Even better is their ‘advice’ feature. They have dedicated an e-mail account to giving tie-related advice, and in this aspect they truly excel. The first time I wrote, I had just gotten a dark blue plaid shirt from Ben Sherman and was new to the tie game and unsure how to match with it, so I shot them an e-mail. I was expecting a quick “try grey, maybe something in wool” type of response, but Jake sent a fully personalized, page long e-mail. Not only did he give color and material pointers, he picked out a few example from their website and sent me links, telling me why he liked each one and how he would wear it. Even more surprising and appreciated was the fact that he also recommended a few ties that Tie Society didn’t even offer as kind of ‘templates’ for what to look for if I was out shopping for myself. Since then I’ve written to Jake countless times, he’s a great guy and gives solid (and friendly) advice every single time. Definitely take advantage of this feature, I think it’s part of what sets Tie Society apart.
What’s To Love: Personally, I think if you read ‘Netflix for Ties’ and don’t see what’s to love, you’ve got some issues. Really though, this is an incredible service for the young gent trying to expand and develop his personal style. It’s a great opportunity to be a little bolder with your tie selection than you might be comfortable with when making permanent purchases. Order something exciting! If it’s too much, your worst case scenario is to send it back and move on to the next one. Combine this with their ‘advice’ service and you have an incredibly stress-free method to stepping outside your personal fashion boundaries and exploring textures, colors and patterns that will help you stand out amongst your peers as a truly dapper dude. I also am a big fan of the fact that they call your selection your ‘Closet’ because ‘queue’ is an obnoxious word that always takes me ten tries before I get the spelling right.
What’s Not To Love: Honestly, not a lot to put here. It can be a pain to build an extensive closet only to have ties go out of availability before they reach the top of your queue, but if you’re patient it’s not too much of an issue. I’ve also just gotten in the habit of only having 5 or 6 things in my closet instead of picking out every single thing that I like. Every time I return a tie, I just add one more thing to the list, and that’s kept me pretty happy so far. My only other beef is really more of a beef with USPS, as sometimes it seems like the shipping takes forever. Really though, I notice this way more when I’m sending stuff back, and don’t think there’s anything Tie Society could do to make it any better, as they seem to be pretty on top of processing orders and getting the shipments out. I’m sure they could use a faster shipping service, but the price would probably come back to the customer and as of now they offer free shipping both ways, so I really can’t complain about their methods.
So that wraps it up! If you are interested in Tie Society, be sure to check out our giveaway to win a free one-month subscription!
Monday, March 25, 2013
The button-down collar has been around for a long time, but was originally used only in sportingwear, and wasn’t adapted for the menswear fashion world until the late 1800’s. Legend has it that John Brooks (of the Brooks Brothers family) took a trip to the UK in 1986 and saw the collars being used by polo players. Tradition required the players to wear collared shirts, but they had found the collars to have a tendence to flap around and be quite a visual distraction while they were playing. Buttoning down the collars was simply a practical solution to a logistical problem. John Brooks took a liking to the style of the shirt and brought it back to the States when he returned, introducing it to the Brooks Brothers lineup and creating an American prep classic. Pictured here is my OCBD from Frank and Oak (one of my favorite shirts):
Just a short little story, but I love knowing these things, and it tends to boggle people’s minds when I can pull random tidbits like this out over drinks, which is always fun too!
Friday, March 22, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Take this look I wore today. You will find (almost) nothing but grey in this outfit. Charcoal grey pants, light grey sweater, mid-grey shirt, grey tie. All one color, and arguably the least ‘exciting’ color out there. The difference lies in the attention I paid to the textures of each individual item. You won’t see a similar textured piece of clothing next to another anywhere in this outfit. The cotton, dark grey trousers cozy up with the thicker, light grey cotton knit v-neck, which lays nicely over the grey chambray shirt which stands out with a hint of sheen, but is balanced again by a thick, robust wool tie.
I topped it off with just the subtlest pops of color…it might be hard to see in the picture, but the tie has ‘cornflower’ blue pin stripes, and I threw on a pair of grey socks with similarly light blue stripes as a bit of a visual surprise if you get a glimpse between my cuff and shoe.
Like I said, what keeps this outfit from blending into a big grey mush is the texture variation (one more time - cotton twill to knit cotton to chambray to thick wool). Even the black belt, when you can see it under the sweater, helps to break up the outfit into very distinct pieces.
I have a special place in my heart for this outfit right next to my special place for all things grey. Something about the color just appeals to me, fashion-wise (might have something to do with my longstanding love affair with Tweed). I’m often frustrated with the problem of too many grey items of clothing and therefore am giddy as a school girl when I can find a way, like this, to throw on all the grey layers I can think of and make it really work. Far from blending into the background with this outfit, I actually get more compliments with this combination than many of my brighter, preppier looks. On top of that, I feel much more weather-appropriate wearing this on a cold windy Chicago day that I do putting on that pastel tie I have set aside for the upcoming spring warmth.
The whole point is, think outside the box! If you want a more interesting outfit, don’t automatically grab the brightest color in your closet! Experiment, try different things out, and see what works. For all the ‘rules’ of menswear that I love so much, there are a million ways to break and bend them and look great. By the way, I love these socks. So much that I took extra pictures of them. And posted them to Instagram earlier today. $4.00 at Nordstrom Rack, thank you very much!
Today’s Outfit (I think I forgot this section in the last WIWT post):
Shirt: Frank and Oak
Sweater: American Eagle
Tie: The Tie Bar
Pants: Frank and Oak
Socks: English Laundry
Shoes: Allen Edmonds
Monday, March 18, 2013
So what are your options?
The first (and most versatile) knot you should know is the Four-In-Hand. I know I said there is no ‘go-to’ knot, but this one comes close. This knot is on the smaller side and markedly asymmetric. With the growing trend in menswear to try to look dapper without being over-polished, stylish without looking too damn perfectly put together, this knot is a great way to tavoid that ‘perfect-triangle,’ Dorito-lookin tie knot that can make you look like you just rolled off a factory line of Donald Trumps, cheesy politicians and used car salesmen. The small nature of this knot makes it perfect for point-collar shirts and button-down collars. It also is one of the few knots that looks naturally proportional with a skinnier tie. Like I said, I’m a big fan of this one and use it almost every day. The biggest trouble I run into with this knot is that it doesn’t take up much of the tie length, and I am often left with a too-long-tie. The quick solution to this is to throw in one more loop and turn the knot into a Double Four-In Hand, a knot used extensively by some of the more fashion-forward Italian gentlemen, and one I have become a huge fan of lately. It adds some nice heft to lighter ties (such as cotton, linen, or thin twill), and comes out with a really nice looking knot that just hints at luxury. See below:
And the Half Windsor:
Friday, March 15, 2013
When given the freedom to dress without a dress code, my style of choice is a dressed up casual. Monday through Thursday my work requires strict business casual (no jeans), but even on casual Friday I like to keep myself looking sharp. Today I really wanted to rock these new Tod’s loafers I picked up on eBay about a week ago for a cool $50.
I’ve been looking for this exact shoe for weeks and finally found it - I wanted a slender brown penny loafer with a long vamp (the ‘tongue’ part of the shoe) as a short vamp looks slipper-ish and outdated. There are countless brown loafers on eBay, but most of them are pretty out of style with low vamps and either too round or too square of toes, or they are a different variation on the loafer (tassels or horsebits), which I am just generally less confident about wearing. Anyway, I was overjoyed when I saw these, which were exactly what I was looking for.
When they arrived, I was a little disappointed at first, not due to quality or condition, but because they fit just a little loose. I was hoping to be able to wear these sockless as it warms up, and these are just a tad too big to comfortably do so. My immediate reaction was to decide to re-sell them on eBay and hopefully turn a profit, but just today I slipped them on with a pair of thicker socks and they fit and looked great, so I’m holding onto them as a winter shoe and will look for something else to solve my warm-weather needs.
Along with the aforementioned socks ($15, thick cotton socks from J. Crew), I picked a pair of great Hurley jeans I snagged from Nordstrom Rack for a paltry $20. These jeans are dark enough to look dressy while still meeting the ‘casual’ requirement of a casual Friday outfit. The shirt and tie combo not only dresses things back up a bit, but also let me throw in a little kick of green since we had a small St. Patrick’s day party at work today and I wanted to look the part (more on dressing for St. Patrick’s day here).
Thursday, March 14, 2013
After some weather-related shipping delays, my Frank and Oak crate arrived today. Included in my items was this green chambray button-down shirt that I ordered as a nice St. Patrick’s day treat for myself. St. Patty’s is one of those holidays that is too easy to go way overboard with. All green outfits abound, including ridiculous stockings and shamrock shorts and garishly green ties and bright top hats and t-shirts with stupid slogans and the list goes on and on. As ‘grandfather-ish’ as I may sound saying this, a lot of folks could stand to look a little more grown up on March 17th. However, as I’ve written before, I do like to do something on the holidays and won’t turn down an opportunity to be a little festive. All these things in mind, my general rule is to never buy anything for St. Patty’s day that I won’t continue to wear the rest of the year. The idea is to get something fun but not a costume. This shirt, for example, more than fills the ‘wear something green’ rule, but also just generally makes a nice springtime piece that will bring some color to my wardrobe as the weather warms up. The green isn’t too in-your-face and the gingham pattern is a classic that has been especially popular in the past year or two (one of my favorites). I’ll probably wear this with jeans this weekend, but I can easily pair it with some light grey pants and a dark tie to wear to work.
What do you think? How do you pick your St. Patrick’s day style?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Ladies and gents, proud to present the first ‘WIWT’ post from Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets. For those of you new to the lingo, WIWT = What I Wore Today, and is, well, if you don’t get it I’m not sure I can help you. Anyway, I figured I may as well put the new camera to use, so these should become a regular feature (and the photo quality will get better as I figure out all the tricks on this camera and set up some better shooting locations).
I also really wanted to show off this tie, which very well may be my favorite that I’ve gotten from Tie Society (Tie Society review forthcoming). I’ve been really digging the dots lately and love the shiny-light blue/raised white dot combo, plus the tie is just darn well made, you can tell from the way it knots and hangs….just look at that dimple. Golden. Also notice the tie length (previously addressed in this ‘Fashion Faux Pas’ article)- hits right at the belt - muy bueno.
I will say that I need to have the shirtsleeves taken in a bit as they are a bit long and loose, but it hasn’t bugged me enough to actually take them to a tailor yet. So get off my back already.
Pants: Frank and Oak
Shirt: J. Crew
Tie: Bear vs. Bull (courtesy of Tie Society)
Shoes: Allen Edmonds
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
One other note before the review - I’m getting pretty excited about some upcoming improvements to the blog. We recently registered the domain name ‘WideEyesTightWallets.com’ (goodbye pesky tumblr address) and at some point may be ditching tumblr altogether for something with more customizable options. In the meantime, we are working on a custom theme that should be a vast improvement (along with some other suprises)! Long story short: be excited.
OK. Review time. In the past month or two I have purchased two new belts that have turned out to be pretty durn worthy purchases. Basically, I had previously been buying all my belts at Target or Sears and ending up with these crappy, bonded leather belts that fall apart after like, a month of wear. The leather ‘cracks’ and loses its already lacking luster, and the buckles detach (once in public, it was wonderful). I finally got fed up with it and sought out a good, quality leather dress belt. I landed on a belt from Everlane due mostly to the myriads of great reviews and the simple fact that it looked nice on their website (don’t ask me to elaborate on that, it just looked like it was gonna kick ass). I picked black with a silver buckle, but definitely plan on hitting up the other options now that I have the most basic of basics covered. Because the belt is awesome:
The leather is soft but sturdy and at 1” thick it’s the perfect width for a pair of dress pants. The belt features a unique buckling system that shows just one hole and one length of ‘leftover’ belt past the buckle, but remains fully adjustable. I think this looks great…it’s just much more simple and you never have a floppingly (yupp, invented word) long strap hanging off the buckle. The only downside is that it takes a little getting used to and is slightly less intuitive than a standard buckle (but only when attaching, and you should really only be in a hurry to get those pants OFF, not on). Right now Everlane only offers the 1” option, which is a little narrow for casual pants or jeans, but I did ask them about other widths and they are considering them for the future. Also, I recommend sizing down. I wear a 30” waste, which would fall under a Medium according to their sizing chart, but the medium was too loose even at the tightest setting. Overall though, they did a helluva job…good enough to have me set on trying out their other products.
The second belt was actually more of an impulse buy. Levi’s had it on sale for something like $15 and were offering free shipping for one day so I jumped on it. I’ve been seeing these bright, D-ring belts popping up all over the place and have been digging it. I really like any way to pop a little bit of color into any outfit, and I think this is a great way to do it. With spring coming up, I really wanted to give it a shot, so voila. Green belt = mine.
The belt itself is obviously of solid quality, coming from Levi’s. Nylon strap (1.5” wide) and solid D-rings to hold it in place, the thing is pretty damn tough. Holds your pants up just fine. Really, it’s the color and concept that I’m reviewing, and I highly recommend a bright belt as a spring accessory.
Alrighty, off to fiddle with the new camera! Hopefully I will learn how to take awesome pictures and won’t break it the first day I have it.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets is now on Facebook! Like the page and drop a line.
Friday, March 8, 2013
However, I won’t leave you with nothing at all, since I know so many of you depend on my daily posts like it’s a matter of life or death (if you were wondering, that was sarcasm).
This is the first of a few posts I will share regarding my process in naming ‘Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets.’ The name is really growing on me, but it wasn’t my first choice, for a variety of reasons.
In fact, my first choice was ‘Tie One On’ and I REALLY still wish I could use that name, but, alas, it was already taken (all the good ideas are, right? Well, for my sake, I hope not…). First off, it’s a pun, that involves drinking, and ties, which are two of my favorite things in life. More seriously, I think taking the leap to wearing a tie on a day to day basis is when I really turned the page in my sartorial story (there I go, being pretentious again, coincidentally another part of my naming process). It’s not that all of the sudden I was the most stylish man around, but that’s when I really started caring about how I looked and started to enjoy looking good. I had taken some brief forays into the stylish world of menswear before then with a few good pieces like a pair Chukka boots or some nice-lookin’ (but cheap) brogues, but when I started wearing ties (and loving it), my whole sense of style took a drastic turn.
On top of that, once you start wearing a tie you open up so many sartorial options, it’s enough to make a style-blogger giddier than a schoolgirl at Christmas. From the numerous knots to different fabrics to tie bars to texture matching, the opportunities are endless.
With that in mind, I will be following this up with many, MANY posts illustrating all the above, reviewing tie manufacturers/retailers (hello TheTieBar.com) and more (once again, after I get my camera). Get ready to get yo’ knot on! Also, coincidentally, it’s #NeckTieFriday over at Frank and Oak, let’s see those submissions! If you’re posting something you’re proud of, tag me or send it my way, I love to see what everyone comes up with. Here is my submission this week:
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Button-up refers broadly to buttoned shirts. This encompasses dress shirts, sport shirts, hidden plackets, french cuffs, all collar styles, you name it. As long as it buttons shut and is a shirt, it is a button-up shirt.
A button-down shirt is an altogether more specific term and refers to the collar of the shirt, not the closure. Seen most commonly on oxford-cloth shirts, button-down collars are attached to the body of the shirt with - you guessed it - buttons at the points of the collar. GQ actually just published an article about the history of this style (something to do with Polo players and their collars flapping about all nimbly-pimbly), but all I really care about is that you don’t mix the two up.
I bring this up so heatedly because I was just browsing the American Eagle selection (actually, due to another GQ post featuring some of their bright, spring-appropriate OCBD’s) and noticed that they call ALL of their dress shirts ‘button-down shirts.’ Bull. Shit. You people are paid (probably very well) to know what the hell you are talking about. Do your homework, and get it right (and maybe fire that copy-writer and hire this guy? eh? haha).
On a more cheerful note, a little hint of exciting things to come: I just FINALLY ordered a camera capable of producing professional-quality pictures! That means a brighter, better-illustrated Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets coming soon to an internet near you! Who knows, maybe I’ll even go back and update old posts as well. Be excited!
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
- Sometimes (for those harder-to-find three-button jackets)
- Always (middle, top, or only button)
- Never (bottom button, as long as there’s more than one, durr)
Monday, March 4, 2013
Friday, March 1, 2013
EDIT: We recently provided an update to this review, 'Frank and Oak - Reviewed and Revisited,' which can be found here. Enjoy!
As promised, here is Wide Eyes, Tight Wallet’s first full-length brand review. More to come in the future!
Frank and Oak is an online-only men’s clothing start-up service based out of Montreal, Canada. Their goal has been to offer stylish, modern, quality clothing at an affordable price by effectively cutting out the middle man. Instead of having a designer sell clothing designs to manufacturer, who then sells to a retailer (at a profit), who then sells to the consumer (at a bigger profit, those bastards), Frank and Oak does the whole process in house. The result (originally) was that nothing they sold cost over $50. More and more they have been surpassing that price point, but with the goal of offering some higher end clothing (their United Tailor collection is pretty damn sharp), and a wider range of articles (i.e. blazers, jackets, etc.). However, thus far their pricing has remained very manageable on all fronts. Frank and Oak are proud to make every effort toward sustainability, including using recycled goods for packaging and keeping a small selection to avoid overstock and wasted materials. They are also proud of their diverse backgrounds, stating on their website “We are you. We are designers, web geeks, architects and artists with a simple goal: to create high quality clothing and accessories and share them at a remarkable price.” Frank and Oak actually just celebrated their one-year anniversary this past month, so they are still just a bunch of young pups and I’m sure will continue to develop as time goes on.
What I’ve Bought:
- Light Blue Oxford-Cloth-Button-Down (OCBD)
- Red Chambray Dress Shirt
- Charcoal Chambray Button-Down
- Charcoal Taylor Trousers
- Brown Wool Blazer
- Cotton Tie
I have to preface this section by admitting that I am no master clothier. I don’t know the difference between types of stitches, and I couldn’t pick out a fused collar at a glance, but I do think I recognize a quality garment. In my honest opinion, Frank and Oak really delivers when it comes to quality for the price you are paying. Everything I’ve bought just feels sturdy. Well-made. Like it won’t fall apart after a few washes, or split at the seams in the middle of my workday (I’ve had this happen with a pair of H&M pants and will never go back there again). The OCBD seems especially rugged, and is the one garment I’ve bought that seems borderline coarse (personally, I’m not complaining, I love the shirt, but if you want something lightweight, look elsewhere. Then again, if you want something lightweight, and OCBD probably isn’t your best bet to begin with). While this isn’t bespoke, hand sewn, custom-cut clothing, it beats the hell out of anything your going to get for the same price at a mass-produced joint like Express. I’d put fabric quality on-par with what I’ve purchased from J. Crew, but the prices are much more reasonable (and I’m so much more of a fan of Frank and Oak’s fit).
As of yet, I haven’t had any big issues to test out Frank and Oak’s customer service, but what interactions I have had have yielded no complaints on my end. The only mistake they made was they (once) sent me the wrong shirt as part of a Hunt Club crate selection. They offered to extend my selection deadline and send the correct shirt, but it was honestly something I was just trying on for fun, wasn’t going to buy, and liked the shirt they sent me instead anyway. I’ve contacted them a few times with minor questions about sizing and they have always been quick and friendly with their responses.
Also (and I’m not sure if this belongs in the ‘Customer Service’ section of the review), but they do go beyond just selling clothing, which is fun. Their main page every month includes a section called ‘The Edit’ which is along the lines of a monthly blog and includes interviews with a variety of people (from other players in the menswear world to musicians), lookbooks for some of that month’s selection, videos, and more. They also host a weekly #NecktieFriday competition on Twitter and Instagram that I have a blast participating in every week (in fact, I love it so much I already wrote about it)!
Anyway, sign up here (http://vnlink.co/SK2IDBd) and shop away! I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Has anyone else tried Frank and Oak? What did you think?