Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Tip Of The Hat To…TSBMen.com

It’s been a while since we tipped our hat to any of the great blogs out there on the world wide interweb, so we’re back with a new recommendation. This time, we are taking a look at TSBMen.com (The Style Blogger), which is honestly one of my favorite menswear blogs to follow, for a variety of reasons.

First, a little background: The blog was founded by Dan Trepanier in 2009. Dan is a Columbia grad, and along with leading the TSB team, is “a Senior Advisor for Michael Andrews Bespoke, a brand ambassador for Gillette, a guest writer for EnRoute magazine and a freelance consultant for a number of other menswear related brands” (from TSBMen.com). To put it simply, this guy is a pro. He was even named Esquire magazine’s “Best Dressed Real Man in America,” which I think is a pretty darn good description. This combination of technical expertise and down-to-earth (but still fly as hell) style is one of the things that keeps me coming back to the site. The rest of the team is made up of Alex Crawford, Townsend Smith, Wesley Dimagiba, and the most recent addition, John Crossley. They each have their own specialty (Alex is listed as the Art Director and Photographer, Towni as the Chief Marketing Officer, etc.), but they all regularly contribute to the articles, which is another thing that I really love about TSB. Each member brings their own style, and the result is a diverse (and once again, always fly) selection, from Alex’s more rugged Americana looks, to Towni’s New England prep, to Wes’s street-wear influences and John’s great laid back interpretations of business casual. At the same time, you won’t see those ‘street style’ peacock-ing looks (at least not too much) as these guys have a deep respect for both traditional, classic styles as well as the everyday man just trying to look good.

The TSB team puts up a variety of styles of posts. Feature articles tend to center around a theme (for example, bomber jackets), which they showcase through a number of looks, all illustrated with pretty top-notch photography (hats off to Alex). Another thing I love is the high frequency of guest appearances. The guys really seem to enjoy exploring and sharing the unique styles of their friends (and acquaintances and professional contacts). Filling in the time between features, daily posts look at smaller issues (one of my favorites has been the ‘Garment Doctor’ series which as focused on common tailoring and fit issues as well as their remedies). In addition to the blog, they recently added a shop featuring revolving items from their posts, as well as a few other features including an interactive style guide.

I find TSB to be an incredible source of inspiration. They do tend to feature items that are pretty far out of my budget, as well as one-of-a-kind pieces that you won’t be able to just go snag right off the internet, but they are a great source for sartorial style. A lot of those outfits can be recreated using much more affordable alternatives. Instead of looking at it as something to copy, look at it as something to try to imitate or replicate using pieces of your own choosing. If you ask me, this is even better than the sites that lay out exact selections of clothing. The TSB approach keeps you from relying 100 percent of the style and preferences of others and instead really helps you start to think for yourself. You get a good template, so you aren’t trying to pull everything together from scratch, but then you get to go and find the matchingi tems and in doing so can apply the nuances of your own style. For example, the picture below (courtesy of TSBMen.com) is from a post titled ‘A Smart In-Vest-Ment’ which looks into three ways to incorporate a suit-vest into your wardrobe.

Now, you might not have the money to go out and buy a bespoke vest, and that leather jacket is vintage, so you probably can’t even find an exact replica, but you can definitely take the inspiration and put together a similar look on your own. The goal here isn’t to be able to look just like Dan, but instead to like you, at your best.

I also love this site for the competitions, both internally and externally. The have an ongoing daily #WIWT competition amongst their staffers. It’s fun to see how these guys dress up on a day to day basis. They are definitely stylish guys, but even the classiest of fellas probably won’t be wearing a three piece bespoke suit every single day. This gives you a glimpse into what you wear between those days to give your wardrobe a break while still looking damn good. This is also a really fun place to read the comments. Readers on this site tend to give great feedback regarding looks they love, looks they don’t, and how they would handle each approach. This comments sections is also a great place to start exercising your own sartorial voice. Put in your two cents!

Their ‘open to the public’ competitions are great too. They might be a little intimidating to enter as a beginner (these people entering have some pretty impressive swag, and some great photographers). Once again, use it as a source of inspiration as well as a forum to discuss trends and styles and really get a feel for what you like, and eventually you will get to the point of entering yourself. For example, I myself read their blog for months before I felt I had a ‘look’ that was up to the challenge. As I’ve been tuning up my personal style, and getting better at taking good pictures featuring that style, I finally feel up to the task and will be entering in the next competition. On the plus side, the prizes are BOSS, so once you’ve reached that level you could be up to win some great stuff.

Read, comment, participate.

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