Thursday, October 31, 2013

My First Suit (Part Two)

I've been a little slow getting this post up, but my first dive into made-to-measure suiting (and suiting in general) has come into fruition, and I'm ready to share the results! 
(Ed. Note: Not sure what is going on with the picture quality here, having some uploading bugs. I'll be working to fix it, but in the meantime, sorry!)

First, a quick rundown of the final customizations I made:
  • As previously discussed, I went with Dragon Inside for my first suit.
  • I chose a single-breasted, three piece suit in navy wool with the following features:
    • Half-lined jacket in dark blue

    • Peak lapels

    • Functioning boutonniere

    • Pick stitching

    • Functioning buttons on the sleeves

    • Brown corozo buttons (as opposed to standard black)

    • No monogram (probably would have gotten one, but honestly forgot)

    • Wool back to the vest (as opposed to matching the back to the lining of the jacket)

      • Flat front pants

      • 1.5" cuff

      • Extra taper to the pants from the knee down (and by extra, I mean 1 cm narrower of a leg opening. I got that picky)

    So how did it turn out? Off the bat, I'm pretty damn happy with the suit. A lot of things came out perfectly, and the few that didn't won't ruin the suit, by any means, and should all be easily addressable.

    Here are the details:

    The Good:
    • Customer Service: Bobby was incredible throughout the whole process. Always easily reachable, and perfectly happy to meet pretty much every picky request I had. I really appreciate the fact that, despite being a lower-priced suit to begin with, they weren't resistant to my customization at all, even though I'm sure it would have been easier for them to produce with their standard options. On top of that, he seemed genuinely and personally interested in making exactly the suit I wanted, and has followed up several times since delivery to make sure I was happy.
    • Customization Options (and accuracy): Like I said, they were just great about this. Compared to other MTM suiting sites, Dragon Inside offers at least as many customization options as you pick out your suit on their website. After that, I kept throwing more and more requests their way and wasn't denied once. Basically, if you want it, they'll make it (to a reasonable extent, to be sure). For the sake of full disclosure, the options I requested that weren't available with the standard form were: brown buttons; tapered leg opening (a slight taper is standard, I requested slightly more of a taper); wool backing to the vest; specific cuff width.
    • Body Fit (Chest/Shoulders, Waist/Thighs): I'd say that the fit of the most important parts of the suit (the ones a tailor cannot easily alter) are spot on. I am a pretty skinny guy, and blazers and jackets tend to run on the baggy side for me, even when I get the chest measurement right.
      In this case, not only was the chest just comfortably snug, the arms were slim (but not tight), the shoulder width was perfect, and the waist was nipped perfectly for a modern (but once again, not tight) look. Same goes for the pants...I opted to keep the belt loops but I really wouldn't need them, as the fit at the waist, butt and thighs is as close of a match to my body as I expect to get from a MTM service.
    • Construction: I'm no expert on tailoring (remember, this is my first suit), but I have no complaints about the construction. The stitching all seems straight and neat (while I'm picky about my options, I have no interest in counting stitches, sorry). Even with just the half lining, the jacket feels substantial enough that I'm not worried about it falling apart, and the fabric doesn't wrinkle or mis-shape easily, which is often a sign of a cheaper suit.
    The Bad:
    • Armholes: I've been struggling with whether or not this concerns me, but the armholes do seem a tad low. When I raise my arms, there is considerable movement in the rest of the jacket, which is something you want to avoid if possible. 
      I'm not expecting anything incredible here (all of my jackets do this to an extent), but this particularly bothered me when I was sitting in a chair with higher-than-usual armrests, as it was impossible to sit comfortably without the jacket This may just be something I have to accept for the price point, but I plan on asking my tailor about it.
    • Sleeve Length: The sleeves are a tad bit short, which is really my fault (I leaned towards shorter sleeves in an effort to avoid too long of sleeves, and may have went too far). This could be a bigger issue since I opted for functioning button-holes, but really the sleeves are barely too short.
      I'm still debating if I even want to alter them at all, but if I do, it would only be by a centimeter or so, and the buttons might be fine as is.
    • Pant Length: Same goes for the pant legs, but here I may just be being overly nit-picky. I wanted just the slightest break in the front, which they did perfectly, but I wish the cuffs would touch my shoes in the back. 
      Once again, I'm not even sure I want to get this altered (the shorter look is in at the moment), but it's an easy, inexpensive fix that can be made at any time.
    • Collar Gap: This is probably my only real area of consternation, as collar gap is pretty unsightly and is usually damn hard to fix. However, once again, the incongruity here is barely noticeable. If I stand naturally, I tend to slouch just the slightest bit, and mostly just in my neck, and that's when I can see probably a centimeter or less of gap between my shirt collar and jacket collar. 
      If I consciously straighten up, the problem all but disappears. Additionally, after the few times I've had to wear the suit pre-alterations, it seems like it has started to conform to my body a bit more, and the gap is even less noticeable. Since I'm not an expert though, this is definitely something I will have my tailor take a look at as well.
    Which brings us back to one more item to add to the 'Good' list: $75 tailoring credit. I think this is pretty standard for an online MTM suiting company, but it's still worth mentioning. Dragon Inside offers $75 in credit to put towards any alterations that might be required to finalize that perfect fit. Since I'm kind of unsure as to whether or not I want to make any alterations at all, having this financial wiggle room leaves me entirely comfortable with taking my suit in to a well-reputed tailor and getting his expert opinion. I'm all set to go this weekend, so I'll report back with the results.

    Also worth mentioning, in another testament to the great customer service from Dragon Inside: if any of the alterations required are beyond the scope of a professional tailor, Dragon Inside will remake the jacket, free of charge, as long as the issues were not cause by a measuring error on my own part. Policies like this take a lot of the gamble out of the purchase, which is hugely important when dealing with online customized garments.

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

    How to Rock It (featuring Past the Pocket)

    Last month, Past the Pocket was kind enough to send us one of their fabulous pocket squares for a review. This month, we're bringing their square back to the blog as we feature it in two different outfits. Hopefully these styling examples will give you some inspiration for rocking a similar square yourself. If you like what you see, pick up the 'Some Kind of Blue' chambray pocket square from Past the Pocket for the everyday low cost of $10.

    In last month's review, I expressed my opinion that "the best thing about a solid chambray pocket square is it's versatility." With that spirit in mind, I wanted to show you just how versatile this square is by working it into both an all-decked-out ensemble and a laid-back-casual 'fit, side by side.

    Admittedly, some chambrays are inherently more rough and rugged, but that's what I love about this fabric from Past the Pocket. It's just soft and luxurious enough that it doesn't look out of place when worn next to sleeker, dressier fabrics like the white twill shirt and blue wool suit.

    I picked the wool tie to give this a more seasonal feel (photographed on a beautiful fall day) and to accompany the heartier textural element that the square brings to the look. Also, the sky-blue pin stripes really add to the blue theme of the look. The suit is actually my new made-to-measure number from Dragon Inside (further review to come), and the shirt is another new purchase from Modern Tailor (always highly recommended, use this link for $20 off your first purchase). I'd feel comfortable wearing this to a business meeting, a posh dinner date, or even a wedding.

    Not headed to a business meeting, posh dinner date, or a wedding? Dressing for casual Friday in the office, or a trip to that new craft beer bar? No problemo. The square is just as easy to dress down. I picked a simpler fold and tucked it into the pocket of my brown blazer from Frank and Oak.

    This blazer can be dressed up as well, but the flecked coloring does lend well to a more casual feel. To keep it dressed-down, I skipped the tie and wore this dirt-cheap Target OCBD, which as actually become one of my wardrobe favorites (despite some previously-mention issues with the armholes). The stripes play well with the color of the pocket square, while the fabric choice helps nudge the square towards casual territory. Not shown in the picture, I rocked this with a simple blue-jeans and boat shoes combo, which is my go-to casual gear. Piece of cake.

    How would you wear it? Share your thoughts in the comments, or shoot me an e-mail!

    Thursday, October 24, 2013

    Brand Spotlight - Hucklebury

    First off, sorry for the radio silence coming from the blog for the past week or so, I was off gallivanting around Colorado with my girlfriend (and, more importantly, celebrating her brother's wedding). But now I'm back! While I was out of town, I was introduced to the co-founder of Hucklebury, Parag, through a mutual friend. Hucklebury has a Kickstarter campaign running and they reached out to me for help spreading the word. I've heard of Hucklebury before, and they have a solid reputation in the menswear industry. We e-mailed back and forth over the weekend and chatted on the phone yesterday, and while I haven't gotten to try one of their shirts out yet, I'm loving what I'm hearing and am happy to help him get the word out.

    Parag is going to be sending me a sample shirt in the next few weeks so that I can do an in-person review, but these Kickstarter campaigns don't wait around, so I'm throwing a introduction your way now. Before even having a shirt in hand, there's a lot to love about Hucklebury:

    1. All of their products are 100% Made-In-America. For me, this is a huge deal. Not only does this almost always mean higher quality standards, but in today's day and age the availability of 'ethical' businesses and brands, there isn't really an excuse for failing to be an 'ethical' shopper.
      Buying goods made in the U.S. ensures that proper labor conditions are met and pumps money back into our own economy (which is good for all of us). This isn't always easy for companies to do, and usually comes with a higher overhead attached, so it's always impressive to see companies taking the made-in-America route instead of opting for an easier, cheaper alternative.

    2. Similar to brands like Frank and Oak, Everlane, Gustin and Warby Parker, Hucklebury has adopted a top-to-bottom business model that cuts out all of the middlemen traditionally associated with apparel retail. If you ask me, this business model is the future of the fashion world. With the Internet at your fingertips the need for brick-and-mortar stores has become largely irrelevant, and by avoiding all of those in-between steps, Hucklebury is able to offer their high quality (made-in-America) goods at a helluva good price. They explain it best themselves via the following infographic:

    3. And that's the real kicker. Hucklebury is all about cutting the cost to the consumer without cutting the quality of their goods. Their shirts are made from the finest Egyptian cotton, which usually is only available at price points that make the every-day man cringe. Not here. Only $78 gets you a shirt that promises to be as soft and comfortable as the sheets at the Ritz. It's practices like this that make the recent revival of men's style possible by making these high-quality, stylish clothes available to guys who aren't driving around in a Benz (yep, name-dropping like Hov).

    4. Lastly, some Kickstarter campaigns seem like a thrown-together-at-the-last-minute whim of their creators, but Parag (co-founder of Hucklebury) has grown up in the biz, and I think it's safe to say this isn't just a passing interest or a brand that's going to fall off your radar anytime soon.

    5. Icing on the cake: The shirts are darn stylish, with a wide variety of ginghams (my favorite) and stripes in your choice of spread or button-down collars.
      Great fall colors
      Each shirt is only $78 (as mentioned), is accompanied by a 365 day guaranty. This is pretty unheard of in the apparel industry, and not only shows their dedication to customer satisfaction, but also their confidence in the quality of their products. On top of all that, each shirt purchased through the Kickstarter campaign comes with a $20 subscription to our friends, The Tie Society (check out our review of their awesome services here).

    Now, of course, without a shirt in hand, I can't personally say anything about the fit or feel of the shirts, but the word on the net is extremely positive. Sabir Peele of Men's Style Pro gives a rave review on his blog, and my friends in the industry have been just as enthusiastic. I personally can't wait to get my hands on one myself, at which point I'll give you the full low-down. So go ahead, get in on the ground floor, support a responsible company and get your hands on a great shirt! Check out their Kickstarter for all the info I didn't give, as well as options to contribute.

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    WIWT - 10/15/2013 (Putting It All Into Practice)

    Remember that lovely post last week about incorporating fall colors into your outfits? Through my work with some other style blogs and my own constant browsing of the menswear universe, I know that folks like to see these tips, rules and other advice actually put to action. With that goal, I picked out my 'casual Monday' (thank you, day-job, for making that a thing) outfit yesterday with my self-prescribed directions in mind.

    Remember, we were focusing on two main colors: burgundy (or oxblood, or maroon, or whatever you want to call it), and dark (or forest, or hunter, or whatever you want to call it) green. Remember also that I discussed mixing these colors into your accessories, so that the clothes that you wear all year look like they were picked out just for that season.

    Here was my endgame:

    Neighbors had some killer Halloween decorations up.

    Look familiar at all? It should, it's very close to this outfit, which I featured a few months ago as a spring outfit. And that's what I love about this method of dressing seasonally. Change just a few, inexpensive items and all of the sudden that spring/summer look fits perfectly into the fall/winter palette.

    First, I swapped out the fun, polka dot tie from the spring for a burgundy knit tie. Not only is burgundy one of our fall colors, I also think knit ties fit the season incredible well, with a slightly more rustic look.

    If you peek below, you'll see that I'm wearing burgundy socks as well. Normally, I don't like wearing completely matching items. However, socks get a bit of a pass, since you don't see them much. Even better, though, are the textural differences between the knit tie and the ribbed dress socks. Nowhere near the identical-tie-and-pocket-square matchy-matchy problems.

    The spring post featured some Clarks chukkas as well, which would have been equally appropriate in the fall, but I stuck with my boat shoes because I wanted to illustrate their versatility as well. A lot of people only turn to them as a sockless option in the summer, but I think they look great year-round and fit the rugged/rustic look of this outfit perfectly (and show a little sock at the same time).

    OK, so all good on the burgundy front. How about some green? I was happy to snag this camo pocket square from the Peter Field studio, and I think it balances the rich reds of the burgundy pieces with some more down-to-earth coloring. The camo trend is a highly disputed one, and one that I'm not 100% on, but I do like small touches of the pattern, as I mentioned last week. I think the pocket square is the perfect amount of camo...enough to be noticed but not enough to be gauche. You can pick one up for yourself over at the Peter Field website, or, if you're in Chicago, swing by the studio and meet Nick (founder) and maybe catch me there as well.

    The shirt is a chambray number from Frank and Oak, and I see chambray as another great year-round fabric. This particular shirt is a little thicker, so once again it works really well for these color, between-season days. On top of that, the light green hit that mint motif that was so popular last spring, but still plays great with more earthy greens that are 'in' this fall.

    The weather today probably would have allowed for a wool blazer, but I'm wearing the hell out of this cotton one while I still can (weather-wise, mainly, but I'm also noticing that it's starting to wear thin, which is what you get from a $60 blazer). I also think the camo square may have been a little too camouflaged in with a brown wool blazer, and this way it has a bit more visual pop to it.

    Notice that the 'staples' of this outfit remained exactly the same across the two seasons. Of course, a nice pair of dark blue jeans looks good any time of year, but I think they lend themselves best to the in-between-times, before it's too hot for heavy denim in the summer or cold enough for thick flannels and tweeds in the winter. Easy choice.

    Has anyone taken my advice from last week and worked these colors into their own outfits? I'd love to hear about it, or see some pictures! Share in the comments below, or shoot me an e-mail at

    The Details:
    Cotton/Linen Blazer by Uniqlo
    Chambray Shirt by Frank and Oak
    Silk Knit Tie by The Tie Bar
    Tie Bar by The Tie Bar
    Pocket Square by Peter Field
    Jeans by Hurley (via Nordstrom)
    Socks by Frank and Oak
    Shoes by Sperry (via Mr. Porter)

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    eBay Risks (a.k.a. Who Wants To Buy These Shoes?)

    Welp, this one's going to be a quickie, it's been a super busy week for me. You folks may have seen my feature on Effortless Gent, and I've been continuing to do some work helping Barron out. He's launching his Cladright program soon and I encourage you all to check it out. Barron's a great source of information and inspiration, and I'm really excited to see how Cladright develops. Learn more about Cladright here, and be sure to read up at Effortless Gent as well.

    I've also had the pleasure of joining the team at Peter Field, a menswear startup here in Chicago. I'll be sharing more information on Peter Field soon, but in the meantime, check out the website and the current collection of awesome custom ties (sourced and handmade in the good old U.S. of A. That's right, responsible business practices). Check me out in a Peter Field tie here, no joke, they rock, and there's lots more to come. My recommendation is to snag a wool tie in time to be seasonally fashionable as fall finally sets in.

    OK, on to the meat of this post. I laud the glories of shopping eBay for shoes all the time, and have plenty examples of incredible finds that have worked out impressively well for me. However, all of those happy endings should come with the disclaimer that, while often rewarding, shopping on eBay is always at least a bit of a gamble. Case in point: I have a navy suit on the way from Dragon Inside, and really wanted a pair of oxblood dress shoes to wear with it. After a couple days of scouring eBay, I found a hella-nice looking pair of Johnston & Murphy cap-toes with a Buy-It-Now price just below $40, shipping included.

    Apologies for the poor lighting.
    Lately, I've had a few pairs of 10D shoes that felt a bit wide, and these puppies came in 10B (narrow), so I hoped they'd be spot on. Woops.

    Five days later, my feet were killing me as I tried to go a day squeezed into these shoes. The fact that the shoes themselves were in damn fine condition, and exactly the style I wanted, just made them hurt that much more. Sad face. The moral of the story here, however, is not to scare you away from eBay. It's just a reminder to shop smart. While these shoes aren't going to work out for me, and I can't return them, I didn't save up or spend a paycheck to get them. Worst case, I'm out $40. Even better, I bought a popular brand and a popular style that I knew I could sell back if I needed to, which is exactly what I'm going to do.

    You can look for these on eBay in about a week, but I'll give you all the chance to scoop them up without getting in a bidding war. Like I said, size 10 B, and definitely narrow, but in damn good shape. They retail for $175 (see them new here) and look like they've only been worn for about a week. Interested? Shoot me an e-mail, I'll part with these for just $30, including shipping. No bites in a week and they'll go up on eBay. See more pictures below:
    Uppers in great condition, minor creasing, no scuffs or blemishes.
    Minor wear to soles and heels, still have lots of life.
    Inners in pretty perfect condition. From the Johnston & Murphy Optima line.
    Size 10 B (narrow).


    Tuesday, October 8, 2013

    Incorporating Fall Colors

    Every year, the style world decrees a color or two as The Color of the fall. On top of that, you have a small handful of staple seasonal colors that just work best in these cooling months. Now, you might think that working these colors into your every-day wear is easy, but I personally find it helpful to stick to at least some semblance of a method. Mainly, I try to keep purely seasonal selections away from my closet staples. Instead, I prefer to have a solid foundation of year-round foundation pieces (i.e. trousers and dress shirts), and then use my accessories and embellishments to turn those foundation pieces into a seasonal outfit. To help you folks do the same, I put together the following suggestions for incorporating two key colors into your wardrobe:

    Forest Green - The Fashion World's Favorite Fall Color (this year):

    This year, the aforementioned Color of the Season has been widely proclaimed to be a dark, woodsy green. Now, I do have a pair of forest green chinos that have actually turned out to be pretty versatile year-round, but when it comes to this particular fall favorite I tend to turn to layering options. Something about a dark green canvas jacket, cardigan, or shawl neck sweater is perfect for getting your office-ready outfit to exude a vibe that's a bit more campfire and bit less conference-call.

    A pricier option, but this olive cable-knit is exactly what you're looking for.
    The Green Byrne Shawl Sweater by Ledbury | $225 

    You can keep these items versatile past the edges of fall, which is nice as well. When we start getting snow falling instead of leaves, layering is still your friend, if not more so. Come spring, you'll be back in transition mode and some green in your gear will help you look forward to fresh spring foliage.

    Want something a bit subtler, and perhaps easier on the wallet? Try some knit gloves, scarves or hats.

    Titletown Wool PLaid INset Gloves by Lands End | $80.00 $24.99
    I tend to struggle picking these items out, as I don't want my gloves looking like an extension of my coat (in grey, brown or black), but also don't want to look like I have clown hands (bright colors, stripes, etc.). Here, I've found that a dark green is the perfect balance.

    Other ideas: Been interested in trying out that camo trend? Get a subtle piece in a dark green motif to satisfy both leanings. I'm not big on the camo look myself, but I can be sold on certain pieces.

    Camo Belt by J. Crew Factory | $29.50 $24.50
    A slim tie, for example, or canvas belt, or nylon watch strap, can all be great touches to rough up a sharp casual look. Just keep it small and subtle.

    I've also been dying to grab a dark green pocket square, and have one on the way from J. Crew right now. My preferred jacket colors come in various shades of brown and blue, both of which could benefit from a hint of forest green to bring the look down to earth.

    (EDITORS NOTE: Forgot to mention, Peter Field also offers a great camo pocket square. Check it out here)

    Burgundy - My Favorite Fall Color (every year):

    As I've written in previous posts, my personal favorite fall color goes by many names: burgundy, oxblood, maroon, cordovan, etc. I love the warmth of this color, especially on cool fall days. Green evokes images of camping, blue of cool collegiate tailgates, but burgundy brings to mind that cozy feeling that you can't really get all summer without suffocating in the sweltering heat.

    Anyways, my favorite way to incorporate this into an outfit is through your leather wear, largely because you can. Trying to get out of browns and blacks with shoes can be tricky. You can find some grey suedes, and these days navy blue leather is starting to pop up more often, but it's really hard to wear these as regularly as you would your standard leathers. Enter a pair of oxblood cap-toes (or even better, cap-toe boots).
    The Melton Cap-Toe by Johnston & Murphy | $175.00
    Not far enough from brown to stick out like a sore thumb, but just red enough to not fade into the woodwork, you also get the added benefit that oxblood shoes pair with a navy suit better than any other color leather. With my first navy suit on the way, a pair of oxblood Johnston & Murphy's was an easy choice for me this year. I found a pair just like the ones above for $30 on eBay. Woop woop.

    If shoes are a bit out of your budget (even on eBay), scale down to a belt. This point may be arguable, but I don't find it entirely necessary to match oxblood leather with oxblood leather the same way I would brown or black shoes and belt.

    Bernard Slim Belt by Frank and Oak | $45.00
    Personally, I would have no problem wearing black shoes with a burgundy belt, or vice versa. The trick is to find two leathers that compliment but don't blend. You want contrast without clashing. Your best bet is trial and error...just keep trying combos until you find something that looks good. Sometimes it's just that simple.

    Other Ideas:

    I recently dove into the colored-laces world, and pretty quickly stepped back out. I think I caught the tail end of the trend and it's starting to feel overplayed. However, burgundy laces still find their way into my rotation pretty often.
    Burgundy Shoelaces by The Tie Bar | $3.00

    I think they look great with a pair of lighter-brown shoes. Once again, it's in the way the colors work together. The burgundy (as opposed to say, orange, or lime green) laces don't distract, but they give some visual variety. At the same time, they are just different enough from the brown leather to actually be noticeable, and not look like you're trying (but failing) to match.

    If you're looking for something a bit more formal, just grab a burgundy tie and socks. Preferably a knit tie. I got one from The Tie Bar last fall, and never stopped wearing it. The very best kind of seasonal accessory: one you can wear all year long.

    My final suggestion: Mix and match these two colors! Try oxblood shoes and belt, with a green tie or (or, not and) pocket square.

    What are your go-to fall colors? Have any great seasonal buys on the way? Share in the comments!

    Thursday, October 3, 2013

    Past The Pocket - Reviewed

    Before diving into this post, I just want to point you all to Effortless Gent is a great blog and a fantastic resource, and I'm honored to be doing some work with Barron (founder) and helping out with the blog. To kick things off, EG is featuring a guest post by yours truly on picking the right undershirt. Check it out, and keep following Effortless Gent, Barron's got some great stuff coming up.

    OK! On to the review: A few weeks ago, Ebony of up-and-coming accessories label 'Past the Pocket' was kind enough to send a pocket square my way for an in-person look. Not only was I pretty darn pleased with the square, Past the Pocket really piqued my interest as a brand, so I figured I'd feature them in a quick review here on the blog.

    The Brand:

    Past the Pocket is the baby of founders Ebony Brown and Corder Hudson, and is based out of Orange County, CA. The site sells exclusively pocket squares, and Ebony personally picks out every fabric herself. Rather than having a continuous stock of each square, Past the Pocket offers a quickly rotating selection, with new fabrics released every day and usually only offered for 24 hours. A select collection of more popular/staple squares are available permanently in what they call the 'Timeless Collection.' This rapid-fire rotation, along with the low $10.00 price-point makes Past the Pocket a great resource for adding some variety to your pocket square collection. There's always something new to check out, and you aren't making a big financial gamble if you decide to grab some patterns or colors outside your regular comfort zone.

    Another aspect of Past the Pocket that really grabbed my attention is their partnership with charity group, 'Working Wardrobes.' Ebony explained to me that, "Working Wardrobes helps people who are unemployed get back to work by providing them with proper interview attire, and interview coaching along with many other essentials required to get back into the workforce," and a portion of the profits from every square sold is donated to the cause. These days, social responsibility goes hand in hand with brand's success, and it's awesome to see even a smaller, boutique label doing their part!

    The Square:

    Ebony sent me a pocket square out of their 'Timeless Styles' permanent collection. I let her pick one out for me, and she selected the 'Some Kind of Blue' square in a fantastic blue chambray cloth.

    The fabric itself is great, super soft with a rich hue. I honestly wish I could wear it as a shirt. As a pocket square, it hits all the right notes. The best thing about a solid chambray pocket square is it's versatility. The slightly rougher texture makes it easy to dress down and wear with a sport coat and jeans. At the same time, this particular fabric is still a luxurious enough fabric to be paired with a suit.

    My only complaint is that the needlework at the edges is a bit rough in some places, but honestly, at $10.00 a square, this complaint is pretty negligible.

    I just fold it in a way that the edges aren't showing, and it looks great.

    I've been wearing this pocket square almost every day for a week now, whether it's with a blue unstructured summer blazer (still warm here in Chicago), or my more formal brown wool blazer.

    Some of my other favorites include the 'Hansel and Gretel' square, with a subtle tan landscape printed on a white background:

    or the 'Black and Tan' with it's classic gingham pattern (in black and tan, duh):


    Keep your eyes open for this square to be featured later this month in a 'how-to-wear-it' post. If you have a product or brand you would like to see featured on the blog, just shoot me an e-mail at!

    This was a sponsored review, and the products reviewed were provided to me free of charge. The article, however, remains objective and unbiased and is published without prior editing or review by Past the Pocket. While I love to be given products to review, don't worry, I will never endorse a product I wouldn't wear myself.

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    Shopping for Stylish Tech Accessories

    I'll start off with a little background: As you all know, iPhone 5S came out recently, and the lines were out the doors and the shipping times through the roof. I was perfectly content to wait out the rush and buy mine in good time....until my iPhone 4 decided to stop charging. One day after all the new iPhones went out of stock. Long story short, I was stuck with a little candybar go-phone with no camera, no music, no keyboard, and feeling a lot like Stringer Bell with a burner (boom, 'Wire' reference). Fortunately, ATT way overestimated the time it would take to get me my phone, and a mere week later I had it in my hands.

    Since I had the phone shipped to me, I didn't get a chance to pick out a case in the store. Lucky for me, I didn't have to look to hard to find one online. I bought my girlfriend a nice leather case from J. Crew last year, and I've been admiring their iPhone 5S cases for a hot minute, and voila, same day I get my phone, J. Crew Factory does a flash sale (something like 30% extra sale plus free shipping). Needless to say I was on that case like rainbows on an oil spill (I heard that line in Malcom in the Middle the other week and have been using it every chance I get). I ended up with this beaut of a case in navy leather:

    From J. Crew Factory 
    Pretty much two minutes later, one of my coworkers came over to announce he had just ordered his phone, and started to lament about his own search for a case. We quickly got into a conversation about how lame all of the go-to options are. If you walk out of Best Buy or and Apple Store with an iPhone case, chances are pretty good your phone is going to be twice as big, five times uglier, and look like it's wearing crocs. Somewhere along the line, all the big tech companies decided that everyone wanted their phones padded and wrapped in the ugliest rubber boxes money could buy.

    So, the point is, these aren't your other options. If you know where else to look, you can get a functional and fashionable case, which is so nice, since your phone is one of those things you ALWAYS have and people are bound to see. Here are my suggestions:

    First and foremost, don't look at companies dedicated to tech accessories. Their expertise is in making things work, not necessarily making them look good. They might try, but that's not where their training lies. And honestly, it's not that hard to make a case that works. Instead, go to the people who are experts at looking good. In other words, go to your favorite fashion and apparel sources. Nine out of ten apparel stores has an 'accessories' section, and if they do, you're bound to find some iPhone cases.

    J. Crew, obviously, is one of my favorite sources. They have a good selection of classy and well designed cases for both men and women. On top of that, they are very reasonably priced (rarely higher than one of those ugly boxes from the super-store), and very often go on sale (or show up on the Factory outlet shop). I suggest picking one out online and then stopping by your store to pick it up (unless you get lucky with a free-shipping code like I did).

    Jack Spade is another great option. They are already very well known for their protective but styling outerwear, bags, and luggage, so it only makes sense that they'd be able to do the same for phones. Their options run a tad bit higher, at about $40 a pop, but are still very reasonable. My favorite is this one in a 'book cloth' material (whatever that means, it looks nice).

    From Jack Spade

    If you want something with a print on it, try this guy from Original Penguin. Yeah, it's the logo, but I love penguins so I had to pick this one. I'm sure you can find some other options as well. This lil guy sells for around $40 also:
    From Original Penguin

    Back to leather, you can get a even classier with one of these options from Bonobos, which are made from Italian leather and have a great luster and depth to them (if that's your thing), but clock in over the $60 mark. These are currently only available in the iPhone 4 dimensions, but I'd expect to see options for the 5 and 5S arriving shortly:

    From Bonobos

    Keep shopping around and the opportunities are endless. You can even find cases in the uber-luxurious $300+ range from designer brands like Burberry and Saint Laurent (check out Mr. Porter for some of these as well). Have something really specific in mind? Last year I was trying to find a tweed covered case, searched all over in stores to no avail, only to find dozens of options on Etsy. I ended up sticking with the case I had for one reason or another, but I always keep Etsy in the back of my mind as another option.

    Do you have the cajones to go case-less? If not, how do you protect your phone? Is your priority style and looks or functionality and ruggedness? Tell us about it in the comments!