Friday, March 29, 2013

Fabric of the Season - Chambray

At some point I’d love to have an ‘expert’ help us write a post about all the different fabric choices that are out there, from twill to poplin to oxford cloth, but for now I’m going to focus on one fabric that I’ve been addicted to lately and is definitely my go-to this spring; chambray.

Chambray is a relatively lightweight fabric woven with a white weft and colored warp (weft refers to the horizontal threads that are woven through the vertical warp), which results in a texture very similar to denim.


Traditionally, chambray is a blue color, once again much like denim, but these days you can find it in a variety of colors (I have blue, dark grey, and red). Personally, I love this fabric in the spring because I think it’s a great way to incorporate lighter spring colors like a dusty red or faded blue without sacrificing any manly ruggedness or falling into Easter bunny territory. Like linen and other more textured fabrics, it even looks good slightly rumpled.

I also love chambray because of how well it works in both formal and casual wear. Originally, denim and, likewise, chambray, were reserved for casual clothing and work-wear, but recently with the so-called ‘rules’ of men’s fashion being challenged and the boundaries stretched, it is more and more acceptable to wear chambray formally. If you want to dress up a chambray shirt, look for something with a narrower collar and no chest pockets. In addition to now being used for dress shirts and even blazers, there are a lot of chambray ties and pocket squares that look great paired with other cross-genre fabrics and patterns like gingham shirts or tweed jackets.

On top of all that, the stuff is damn comfortable! Think the ruggedness of denim with a more lightweight, soft cotton feel. Perfect for those spring days that aren’t too cold or too hot. My favorite chambray shirts both come from Frank and Oak and go for a mere $45 (sign up for Frank and Oak with my referral link for $5 off), but I’ve seen some strong offerings from J. Crew, like the red shirt shown below, among others, and I’d expect to see chambray options popping up at most menswear brands this spring.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tie Society Giveaway!

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tie Society Reviewed

Welp, we are back with a brand new review! Today’s subject is Tie Society, and is coordinated with Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets’ first ever promotional giveaway

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).

What I’ve Bought: Obviously, I haven’t actually bought anything (although you do have the option of purchasing the ties for something like 40%-60$ off MSRP), but I have borrowed a wide variety of ties. As far as I know, there isn’t a list of your borrowing history, so I’m writing this completely off of memory, but some of my favorites have included the Bloom Minidot by Bear vs. Bull, which I actually just (very reluctantly) sent back this weekend. I also really liked the Raven Stripe by Laurant Bennet, and the Mosaic plaid ties are all awesome, although they run a bit long for my body type. My only disappointment really was one tie that was a silk/polyester blend. I hate polyester in ties, but honestly I just missed the inclusion of polyester in the description when I was ordering, so that one’s on me. Here are some of my past choices:





Quality: Every tie I’ve gotten has been of solid quality. While you can tell that some of them have been used and washed, nothing that I’ve recieved has looked ‘old’ or worn out to the point where I wouldn’t be proud wearing it. Like I mentioned before, I wasn’t real impressed with the one polyester blend tie I borrowed, but they had noted that in the description so I could really only blame myself. Additionally, these ties are made by very reputable designers and manufacturers. Most of these would run in the $75 range if bought new and are all very well made. When I buy ties, I usually spring for the $15 ties from, which I love, but you can really tell the difference in quality when you hold one of those ties up next to a Charles Tyrwhitt or Bruno Piatelli that dimples just right and hangs like a dream. So yep, I’m a fan of the quality.

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

Origins - The Button-Down Collar

One of the things about menswear that I have come to love is learning the stories behind the origins of classic staples. I’ve mentioned why suit jackets and blazers are designed to leave the bottom button unbottoned, and briefly touched on the history of the button-down shirt, but it’s a topic that fascinates me enough that I’m going to start writing dedicated posts to the history of men’s style items and terms. First on the list, we will return to the button-down so I can give the whole story:

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

It's Not ALL About What You Wear...

I’m super excited (and now sounding a bit like a valley girl or something) to have gotten a signed copy of Michael Hainey’s memoir, After Visiting Friends through a giveaway from GQ. For those of you who don’t know, Michael Hainey is the Deputy Director of GQ (wow, would I love to have that job), but rather than a chronicling of his journey through the fashion industry, his memoir focuses on the mysteries surrounding his family life and, in particular, the death of his father. I have yet to read the whole thing but I did peruse some samples before I got my copy and am really looking forward to sitting down with it. So much, in fact, that I was inspired to write a post lauding the joys and values of reading in general.


So I tell you all, pick up a book! When it comes down to it, the effort to dress well, at least for me, is all a part of the pursuit of all those ineffable qualities that makes a man a gentleman. I don’t dress up for the ladies (or the fellas), I don’t do it to get attention, I don’t do it to try to fit an image. I do it for the same reason I have started to try to eat healthy, that I hold the door open and say please and thank you, that I talk to my mother at least once a week. I do it because I think it’s part of an overall package that makes me a better man. With all this effort that your putting into your outward appearance, sometimes it’s easy to forget to keep those mind-grapes of yours well fed and exercised. I think being well-read is an inherently vital factor of being a true gentleman. I know this is a fashion-focused blog, but I have to take this opportunity to promote the value of a rounded and balanced reading diet.

The key is to cover a variety of genres. First, keep up on a variety of general non-fiction. The daily news is an obvious go-to here, but go beyond that and read some books on science, or design, or history. These books will you keep feeling and sounding as smart as you look, and will give you interesting (key point here, interesting) things to talk about with all those people who are going to strike up a conversation with the well-dressed gentleman in the room. To keep things from getting too dry, try to pick something with a fresh and entertaining perspective. John Stewart’s Earth and America, for example put a wholly entertaining spin on world and national history, or Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt puts often overlooked aspects of the moden world into a whole new light.

image  image

A little more specifically, try out some solid memoirs or Biographies. Even if I’m not sure exactly how, I do know that I want to be considered a great man someday. Now, I won’t be heartbroken by a happy average life, but it’s a constant goal in the background of what I do, to achieve greatness, and nothing is more inspiring than the lives of other great men and women. Earlier this year I read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and have been talking big ideas and design ever since. Now I’m working my way through Jungleland, and am just about ready to drop my life and become an explorer in the jungles of the Amazon.

image  image

Next, give yourself a healthy dose of culture. Don’t be that ‘too-cool-for-school’ guy who rejects anything that might have shown up on a summer reading list as old and stuffy. Some of my favorite books are classics. They are considered that for a reason, and have stood the test of time. You might not apply anything from these books to your daily life, but the language and prose and spirit in those books will last and hopefully eventually reflect itself in you. My reccomendations here include Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby, which cover both the grit and the glamour of America in the early 1900’s.

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Lastly, never underestimade a good, pulse-pounding modern fiction. After you give your brains all that aforementioned exercise, let them run rampant a bit. These are the books that will keep your imagination ready for that day you come up with the next big idea, or you need to entertain a small child, or just want an adventure for yourself. I cannot reccomend Prepare To Die, by Paul Tobin highly enough. It’s Superman meets Fight club, with a gritty combination of comic-book action and sexy intrigue.


I’ll also give a moment’s praise to the epic series. These include titles like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, my most recent obsession, or Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, and, while not for everyone, are awesome for the fact that there’s always the next book to look forward to (until you reach the end, at which point it is more than appropriate to wallow in a pit of despair for a few days).

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Voila, my recipe for a hearty life-long literary meal. Doctors orders. Read up.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WIWT - 3/20/2013

In fashion, there tends to be a misconception that, in order for an outfit to be interesting, it has to be colorful. Not only does this lead to some crazy color combinations (contrast can be good folks, but everything in moderation), it also tends to lead to a general neglect of the use of texture to give depth to an outfit. True, a combination of ‘all monos’ - monochrome, monotone, monotexture, tend to fall pretty flat and can fail to make any sort of statement whatsoever. However, you can create an interesting, maybe even exciting outfit just by playing with textures.


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

Tying the Knot(s)

As promised, I’m going to keep delving into the wonderful world of the necktie. I’ve written about tie knots before, but this post goes into more detail on all the knots that are available and when to use them. covers all the instructional bases much better than I’d be able to, so I will refrain from trying to repeat the innumerable tutorials that are already out there, and this post will be less of a ‘how-to and more of a ‘how to do it right.’

First it’s important to understand that there are certain times to use or not to use each of these knots, no single one can serve as a go-to in every situation. The biggest factor in determining which knots you can use is going to be the style of the collar of your shirt. In this area, proportion is your biggest measuring tool. Spread collars leave a lot of room between the collar points in which you can easily fit a double-windsor, while a traditional point collar will swallow a wide knot and is more appropriately paired with a four-in-hand knot. There are a few other factors as well, but for the most part they come down to personal taste.

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:

The next knot I would say you should know is the Double Windsor, more because it is a classic staple that a lot of other knots are based off of than because of any recommendation of mine to actually wear the thing. This is where you get that big triangle Dorito look I always complain about. However, the Double Windsor does have it’s place, mainly among power suits and super-spread collars. It’s a very in-your-face knot, often associated with Wall Street boys and Hollywood Agents (I think Ari of Entourage fame always wore a nice, big Double Windsor). Don’t even try this knot with a point collar, as either the shirt will swallow the knot, or the knot will push at your collar in a most unseemly way (see, somehow even writing about the Double Windsor makes me a little pompous, I apologize). I also apologize that this isn’t the greatest looking knot in the picture, but I rarely use this knot, so I’m not a pro. Deal with it:image

My suggestion, if you want something with a bit more heft and formality than the Four-In Hand, would be to go for a Half-Windsor or a Shelby/Pratt knot. Both of these knots essentially take out a loop of the Double Windsor, simultaneously making it a bit smaller and more approachable while adding a touch of asymmetry to keep it interesting. These two (in my opinion) are pretty interchangable, but I’ve found the Half Windsor to work better with wider ties while the Shelby/Pratt gives you a nice wide knot on a skinny tie without looking silly. The Shelby/Pratt is my go-to when wearing a spread collar, as most of my ties are on the skinnier end. It’s also a slightly more formal knot, so I tend to wear it when I am dressing up for a special occaision. It can be a bit tricky at first, because it’s one of the few knots that requires you to start with your tie essentially ‘inside-out,’ but you get the hang of it after a few tries. Here is the Shelby:


And the Half Windsor:


After these four options, there are literally countless variations, many of which I can’t even tell the difference between, but these are the four basics that most other knots are derived from. Sit in front of a mirror and practice these until they are ingrained in your memory and you will be prepared for pretty much any occasion that calls for neckwear. And please, by all means, avoid those goddamn novelty knots.

Friday, March 15, 2013

WIWT - 3/15/13


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).


In the final details, the tie bar hints at formality while the belt remains dressed-down, once again comfortably straddling the lines of formality.

To wrap it up, this whole outfit is about balancing casual and dressy in a way that works well together. I started dressy with loafers over sneakers, then brought it to the casual side with jeans instead of slacks. Shirt and tie ups the formality, while the wider, well-worn belt anchors the look with another touch of casual. Like I said, if I was given the choice, this is about what my daily wear would look like.


How do you define your style? In a world without dress code expectations, would you be dressing differently on a day-to-day basis? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Irish-ing Myself

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

WIWT - 3/13/2013

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.

Todays ensemble:

Pants: Frank and Oak
Shirt: J. Crew
Tie: Bear vs. Bull (courtesy of Tie Society)
Socks: H&M
Shoes: Allen Edmonds

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Quick Review - Keep Your Pants On!

First off - good news! My camera finally arrived! In fact, this is the first post with the new and improved pictures in action. However, I hope you will all understand if I keep it short so I can play with my new toy!

One other note before the review - I’m getting pretty excited about some upcoming improvements to the blog. We recently registered the domain name ‘’ (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.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What Might Have Been...

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m keeping posts short and sweet until I get my camera (scheduled to arrive Monday!) at which point I will return to full-length ‘feature’ posts, but now with pictures! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes I don’t even write that many, so it’s bound to be an improvement.

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 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

Musical Interlude - David Bowie x Paul Smith

David Bowie has always been one of my favorite musicians. I remember belting out ‘Starman’ with my best friend in middle school while everyone else was rocking hard to P.O.D. and Limp Bizkit. Thus, you can imagine my excitement when I heard his new, ‘come-back’ album Next Day and it kicked oh so much ass. Harkening back to the style of his 70’s ‘Berlin’ recordings (i.e. Low, Lodger, and Heroes), the album showcases what Bowie does best, which is mashing together the classic with the experimental and coming out with something beautiful as a result.

Icing on the cake? Bowie just announced an upcoming collaboration with men’s fashion great Paul Smith. Now, I’m not sure if Bowie has ever released a fashion line before, but in the same way that he has always been a force in cutting edge music, his style has been alternately breaking the mold and redefining timeless classics. As of now, they have only announced a pretty predictable album-cover T-shirt, but anything from the man that brought you this: 

and this:


and this:


is bound to be exciting, if nothing else.

What are your thoughts? Will David Bowie x Paul Smith be classic and dapper or experimental and daring?

Also, be sure to check out the visually stunning video for his new single ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’ which is a fashion smorgasbord all of it’s own!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Setting It Straight - Button-UP vs. Button-DOWN

This is one of my all-time biggest fashion related pet peeves because you have NO idea how many professionals I see screwing this one up. Button-down shirts and button-up shirts are two entirely different terms, and are NOT to be interchanged.

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

Fashion Faux Pas - Sometimes, Always, NEVER.

Welcome to the second edition of Fashion Faux Pas, where once again I will be cheerfully telling you how to avoid looking foolish in those fancy clothes of yours. Today we look at blazers and their buttons: 

Never button that bottom button. This is an always rule. True, at one point in history there was no rule to how one buttoned one’s blazer or suit. Ya just did whatcha felt like, or what worked. The way the story goes, King Edward VII (England, 1900’s), was just too damn fat to fit in his fully-buttoned jacket. And where the King goes, others follow. At first in an effort not to offend the king, the habit of leaving the bottom button undone soon became the standard custom across the world.

These days, blazers are actually specifically designed to leave the bottom button open. In fact, closing it causes the jacket to rest unnaturally and pull in areas, becoming unsightly, uncomfortable, and constricting.

An article I read on the Brooks Brothers blog used this picture of the Kennedy’s (courtesy of Wikipedia) to illustrate the issue. Notice that John is the only one with the both buttons closed. See the unsightly way his jacket pulls at the button and bulges at the lapel? Blech. For a more natural, relaxed look, follow his brothers’ suit (ho ho, a pun). *On a side note, JFK is also suffering from the dreaded disappearing pocket square. May he rest in peace.* Really, these days, there shouldn’t be a debate. Buttoning that button is just plain wrong.

Now that top (or middle on a three-button suit) button should stay shut, at least when you are standing. Of course, there are exceptions (feel free to open that sucker up when you sit down, or if you are engaging in some crazy physical activity, which we all try to do in our suits/blazers as much as possible, and need the extra freedom. Always sacrifice style before ripping that beautiful jacket of yours).

Generally, this is the rule to live by, top to bottom:
  1. Sometimes (for those harder-to-find three-button jackets)

  2. Always (middle, top, or only button)

  3. Never (bottom button, as long as there’s more than one, durr)
Get it? Got it? Good. Don’t fuck it up.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why Care? - My Manifesto

As I keep encouraging any readers to take the time to learn how to dress well and look better in your day to day life, it’s good to remember why I have found this to be so important. As someone who just a year ago was wearing square-toed comfort loafers, baggy pants and ill-fitting shirts as my ‘business casual’ uniform, I can confidently tell you that making this change will make a positive difference in your life. This section may come across as a little ‘life-coachy,’ so, yeh, sorry, but I’m right. I hate preaching or telling people what to do to make their lives better (like I know what I’m talking about), but I place my faith in this principle whole-heartedly. So how does dressing well make your life better?

The first way is a simple one that your wallet (those damn, tight wallets) will appreciate. As you start caring more about what you are wearing, you start to take better care of your clothes. Ever since I started to actually like the clothes I bought, I paid a lot more attention to the washing instructions, I learned to shine my shoes, I bought hangers that wouldn’t ruin my clothing, I found gentler stain removers, I bought woolite and started washing my sweaters by hand. Before, I didn’t give a shit and would just toss it all in the laundry and hope that most of it would come out in wearable condition.

To move closer to a personal level, you also take better care of your clothes while you are wearing them, and in turn take better care of yourself. My slob factor dropped when I started wearing nice clothes and I starting conciously avoiding messy foods, grass stains, salt stains in the winter, and was more careful to steer clear of snags and other damaging factors. As a result, I was looking and acting a lot more like an adult (which is an important transition to start making after you graduate college)!

Beyond the practical lies so much more. The biggest, biggest thing is your confidence. I am huge believer in the idea that confidence gets you everywhere in life (or nowhere, if you lack it). Whether it be scoring with the opposite sex or landing that dream job, either is so much more attainable if you believe you can attain it (see what I said about getting all life-coach on you folks? Deal with it! See, I’m confident haha).

It’s simple, once again. Dress nice, and you feel good about the way you look. You carry yourself more confidently, present yourself to those around you just a little bit more boldly, and people will notice. People talk about you, they comment on your clothes, and you just stand out from the crowd a bit (once again, in a world run by competition, this is never a bad thing). Then YOU notice the difference, and the confidence just keeps growing. You start to act more important, and are more confident in knowing what you want and making sure you get it. The big point here is that, when you first start to make the change, you may not feel like you fill those proverbial shoes of the dapper man, but you will grow into it, and it feels good!

And I will attest, people really do notice. I really have noticed this change make a tangible difference on several specific occasions.

For example, a few weeks ago our Administrative Executive traveled to our office in Chicago (yep, I have a day job). I had the chance to meet him and introduce myself and chat a bit, but only very briefly. After he left, my manager pulled me aside and told me that the Executive had specifically told her how impressed he was with me. Now, I do think I am good at my job, and (clothing aside), present myself well, but in that short of a span, I guarantee that a big reason I stood out to him was the fact that, even in a law firm, I am one of the few people that comes to work in a tie, everyday. Not only that, but my clothes are well coordinated, fit well, and convey general ‘put-together-ness’ into my overall appearance. If you look like you are an important person, people tend to treat you that way, regardless of your actual position.

Another example: Just today, I was part of a panel interviewing some new potential employees at my place of business. Both candidates were well put together and had similar resumes, but the one guy came in looking sharp, and therefore looking (and probably feeling) more confident (I think he even mentioned his tie at one point, which shows he was aware of his attire and knew that we noticed as well). By no means would I reccomend hiring someone based just on their suit, I did immediately like that guy, and paid more attention to what he had to say. And I would DEFINITELY not hire someone if they looked like a schlub - if you are that careless about something so basic as your clothing, how careless will you be on the job? If you care that little about the way you present yourself to the world, are you going to care about the you present you workplace or company to the rest of the world? First impressions are as important as everyone says, and it helps to come accross as someone who really knows and appreciates that.

Lastly, probably the most immediately enjoyable bonus, is you are gonna have to learn how to react to being complimented (and often)! And I hope this is something no one is upset about having to be used to. If you are, you should probably be following a different blog (or I need to seriously reconsider my fashion taste).

I’ll wrap it up with the final testament that, as I started writing this, I planned on making one of my short blurb-ish posts, and it turned into this rambling edict purely because I kept thinking of more and more reasons that I am glad that I finally started putting some effort into my clothes and appearance, both professionally and casually. It’s a neverending list, and I’d love to hear some of your reasons….let me know what you think! Why do you care about how you look? Why do you think it’s important to care?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Frank and Oak Reviewed

Before I Begin: 

If this post inspires anyone to give Frank and Oak a try, feel free to use my referral link: (you’ll get $25 credit for signing up, can’t complain about that).

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!

Brand Background:

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.

In addition to standard online shopping, Frank and Oak offers a monthly trunk or ‘crate’ service called ‘The Hunt Club,’ of which I am a proud member. Honestly, this service is great. They do a much better job of explaining it on their ‘How It Works’ section, but here’s the gist: Every month you get to pick out three items, which they ship to you free of charge. You get to try on the clothes, decide what you want to keep, and send the rest back, at which point they charge you for the selections you’ve made. Not only does this give you a great, commitment-free way to try new clothes, they throw free shipping on all orders (crate and otherwise), which makes the whole thing worth it regardless of the crate in my book. I love free shipping. Some people worry with these kinds of services that you will be duped into buying things without realizing it, but Frank and Oak is great at keeping you on top of selection and return deadlines through great e-mail contact, and in the few cases where I’ve had issues with timing they’ve been more than forgiving. Final kicker? Hunt Club members receive 8% of every order back in store credit.

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).

Customer Service:

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)!

These guys are so great, in honor of their anniversary they made every competitor from that week a winner (which is how I scored that great cotton tie seen above).

What’s To Love:

The first thing to love about Frank and Oak is their price/quality ratio. By cutting out the middleman and encompassing the design, manufacture, and distribution of their products, they are able to offer high quality clothing at incredible prices. Blazers are the only thing that will cost you more than $50, and even those top out at little over $100. Even better, price aside I would still take one of their $45 shirts over a $75 shirt from J. Crew. As this blog focuses a lot on how to improve your wardrobe without breaking the bank (hence the Tight Wallets moniker), this is a huge plus in my book.

The biggest reason I personally love Frank and Oak is that everything fits me. Perfectly. I have never had this happen at any clothing company, and in fact I usually struggle to find brands where anything fits me great right off the rack. The dress shirts especially fit like a glove. I’m a pretty skinny guy and often suffer from shirts ballooning at the waist and through the arms (even from mid-high range brands like J. Crew and Ben Sherman), but I have none of those problems here. Everything seems very true-to-size and is cut with a modern, slim fit that is hard to find from any similar-priced store.

Additionally, the Hunt Club service is a huge benefit for a guy like me. I love shopping online (almost obsessively), but have a hard time committing to buying anything due to my afore-mentioned issues with fit from most brands. Being able to try things on risk-free gives me so much more confidence when making purchases and makes my shopping experience so much more stress-free.

Lastly, some might complain about the limited selection, but I think it’s another great part of what sets Frank and Oak aside. Sometimes, I find shopping from stores like J. Crew or other big-name brands to be overwhelming. With pages and pages of options in every category, it can be a chore to browse through a selection of pants just to decide there isn’t anything that happens to catch your eye. With the smaller, rotating selection that Frank and Oak offers, it is so much easier to take in the entire selection and make a quick decision about whether or not I want to make any purchases. Nine times out of ten there are still plenty of things I want, and that one time that there isn’t, I know it’s a mere 30 days until I have a whole new pool of items to pick from.

What’s Not To Love:

I personally have very few complaints when it comes to Frank and Oak. I have read that some customers have been displeased with variations in fit between similar garments. I will say that I have noticed this, but only very slightly. For example, my small OCBD fits a little bit looser than either of my small chambray shirts. However, the difference is small enough that I’ve still been very happy with the fit on all three shirts. I will be keeping an eye out for this issue as I continue to order, and if my opinion here changes I’ll be sure to mention it.

Another issue mentioned by other customers and noticed by myself is processing time. This seems (to me) to especially be an issue at the beginning of each month as Hunt Club orders are processed. Sometimes it has taken up to a week between submitting my selection and getting a shipment notice. However, I am very forgiving in this area. I think the benefits of the Hunt Club service more than make up for any wait time issues, plus I am inclined to be pretty forgiving as I keep in mind that this is a small startup with quickly growing clientele, and that’s half of what I love about them.

A final aspect that I have seen other customers take issue with is the fact that you have to sign up in order to browse the selection. If you ask me, this is a really silly gripe. There is no obligation in signing up, they don’t spam your e-mail address, and you can cancel at any point. So really, all you have to complain about is that hard, hard work you are going to put in typing your e-mail address and contact information. I know this can be exhausting, but I promise, it will be worth it.

Beyond that, I’ve noticed a few loose stitches here and there, but always in hard to see places and never to an extent that I feel significantly affects the integrity of any given item.

Luck Day! Bonus Section:

Conveniently, today Frank and Oak released their March selection, so I’ll let you all know what I’m ordering in my crate (whenever it comes I’ll give an update on how everything turns out):

Definitely getting the Newport Chinos in Olive. I checked with their customer service, and this is indeed more of a khaki color than olive (my new Olive Chukkas are more of a dark green). They did say it is a darker khaki, so hopefully it will be what I’m looking for. I’ve been needing a pair of khakis for way too long and have been waiting every month for Frank and Oak to offer their Chinos in the color I want.

I’m also going to get the Valmont Shirt in Pearl. This is another one I’ve trying to find for a while - a nice, great-fitting white shirt. It’s one of the most versatile items a guy can own, but while I do have a white shirt, I’m not a fan of the fabric or the way it fits, so I never wear it.

Lastly I want to try the Crosstown Bomber in Khaki. Honestly, I probably won’t keep this one. It’s a little out of my price range and not exactly what I’m looking for, but I’ve started keeping an eye out for a lighter spring jacket that I can wear with my office clothing, so I figured I’d at least give this a try.

Honestly, my selection is a little boring this month. I usually take advantage of the Hunt Club to try on things I wouldn’t normally wear. However, there are just those standards that I’ve been hunting for that have finally popped up, so I can’t resist and will have a lot more flexibility in my choices next month. I will say I was very tempted by the color selection for the Taylor trousers. I love my pair in charcoal and would have really liked some more colors, but the Chinos came in top priority. I also wish there had been a blazer that caught my eye, but not this month! Hopefully they have some nice lightweight ones coming up soon for the summer. They also (as always) have a great selection of ties and pocket squares, but I already have a go-to source for those that is a tad easier on the wallet (I’ll fill you in later).

Let me know what you think of my choices! I’m not ordering until tonight (gotta let the the girlfriend peruse the selection first), so you might be able to convince me to get something else (if you really care about what I’m wearing that much, sheesh. Just kidding, I love suggestions).

Anyway, sign up here ( and shop away! I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Has anyone else tried Frank and Oak? What did you think?