Thursday, November 28, 2013

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - Black Friday Edition

I almost wasn't going to post at all since I'm home with the family, but it is Black Friday so I slapped together the following list of great holiday sales and some of my own picks. I'm sure I'll be shopping myself throughout the day, and I'll add any other finds I come across, so keep checking back for updates! (SEE UPDATES AT END OF POST)

Tie Society Annual Sale (no code needed):
For a limited time, Tie Society is offering a free month when you purchase a gift subscription or sign up for a new membership. On top of that, the first ten customers each day will receive a custom Tie Society flask.

You can check out our review of Tie Society here, but I'll tell you right now it's a helluva service. At its simplest, it's the Netflix of ties, but it's so much more. Head over and check it out, the offer stands through 12/2/13.

25% off at Beckett Simonon (code TURKEY):
Dub-monks are still all the rage in the menswear world, but it can be tough to find a decent pair without handing over your firstborn child. Enter Beckett Simonon, who offers Goodyear-welted shoes at a relatively-unheard of price of just $140, and their 25% Black Friday discount drops them down to a hella-affordable $105.
Hoyt Double Monk Straps | Beckett Simonon
The Beckett Simonon Hoyt Double-Monk features a rounded toe box with a cap-toe and semi-brogue detailing for a perfect balance of style and subtlety. Grab a pair, or check out their other, equally dashing options.

50% Off Sitewide at Express (through 12:00 PM 12/29):
Express is offering an awesome half-off sale on absolutely everything in their inventory. I don't shop at Express all that often, but they remain one of the few stores that offers truly fitted shirts that even super-scrawny folks like myself won't need to take to the tailor. I'm a big fan of this Tartan Plaid shirt, which is perfect for the holiday season.

Fitted Tartan Plaid Shirt | Express
Dress it down with jeans, or throw on a wool tie for some cozy biz-casual. At this point, the deal ends at noon on Black Friday, but I'm sure it will be replaced by something new. If I have the time and presence of mind, I'll check it out and keep you posted.

Five Days of Style - Frank & Oak's Black Friday Event (no code needed):
Frank & Oak only has sale items intermittently, and they usually have some great deals when they do, so I'm always sure to at least give them a look. This holiday, they have a lot of great shirts, many in seasonable flannel or chambray fabrics. I always tout their shirts, though, but this year my eye has really been drawn to their bags, and a few of those landed in this sale as well.

Hyde Mountaineering Backpack | Frank & Oak
I'm especially digging this 'mountaineering' pack. It's made of durable canvas with a drawstring closure and leather straps. I have a great brief-case-type bag for days in the office, but I'd love one of these when I'm lugging junk around on a weekend or a trip home to see the folks.

40% Off and Free Shipping (no minimum) at Levi's (code SAVE40):
Unless your a denim-head on the hunt for some crazy $200+ selvedge jeans, it's hard to argue with a pair of Levi's to meet all of your denim needs. On top of that, they have the quintessential denim trucker and a pretty solid line-up of non-denim duds as well.

513 Slim Straight Jeans in Bastion | Levi's
The Black Friday sale drops this pair of dark rinse jeans down to only $32, and free shipping is always a huge plus in my book. I actually just bought this same pair at a Nordstrom Rack sale and this price is even better than the steal that I found (and FYI, the jeans look and feel fantastic).

And on that note, my folks are calling my name for pie and to light the Menorah (in my wonderful multi-cultural home we are loving our Thankschristmukkah celebration while we are together) and dig into some pumpkin pie now that I've started to digest the T-day feast. Good luck shopping tomorrow, be sure to share any deals you find in the comments below!

A few more sales I've come across through the day:

Jack Spade: Up to 75% Off - These guys make some of the best outerwear and bags in the game.
Club Monaco: Extra 30% Off Sale Items + Free Shipping (code THANKS30) - Tons of good finds here, but I've especially had my eye on their sweaters.
Esquire: $5 Subscription Special - Always some good reading material.
Gap: 50% Off Sitewide (code BLKFRIDAY) - Again, lots to choose from, but I usually go for their slim Chinos.
J.Crew: 30% Off Sitewide (code HOLIDAY) - Can't go wrong with the Crew.
J.Crew Factory: 50% Off Sitewide (prices as marked) - if J.Crew itself is a bit rich for your blood.
Original Penguin: 40% Off + Free Shipping (code OPTHANKS40) - OP can be a little hit or miss, style-wise, but when they are on, boy are they on.
Florsheim: 20% Off Sitewide - Some solid shoes, I'm a big fan of their wingtip brogues, and the Gaffney boots look like they'd look great with some dark jeans and a blazer.
Pact: 30% Off Sitewide, up to 60% Off Sale Items, + Free Shipping (prices as marked) -  I love these socks, and my girlfriend does too. I'll definitely be gifting a few pairs of these this year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

5 Menswear Staples To Be Thankful For This Holiday

This post was originally going to fall in the regular M-W-F schedule and go up tomorrow, but it's a great list of Thanksgiving gear and I wanted to get it to all of you in time to actually put it to use! Also, I'll be driving alllll day tomorrow (hopefully not through a snowstorm, but probably). 

This is a guest post from the brothers behind The Sharp Suit, Matthew and Steven McConnell.  They focus on helping guys express their personal style through their site’s blog and their menswear product, the wooden pocket square.  They would love to hear from you on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest; any feedback is always welcome! Keep an eye out for my own guest post up on their site in the upcoming month or so (I'll keep you updated). 

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving, eat lots of turkey, and try not to spill any on your fresh duds. Alright, over to Matthew and Steven:

You hear it every year – Thanksgiving is about spending time with family and enjoying great food.  While that’s certainly true, some guys might have other reasons they want their 2013 Thanksgiving to be memorable.  Perhaps it’s their first Turkey Day with the in-laws, or maybe they’ll be celebrating Friends-giving and want to impress that girl they know will be there, too.  Whatever the reason, The Sharp Suit understands and we want to help.  Below are 5 menswear staples that would be a stylish addition to any great Thanksgiving outfit.

The Sweater:
Sweaters are great Thanksgiving staples for 2 reasons: 1) they’re warm, and 2) they come in an unlimited variety of colors, patterns, and materials.  And you definitely don’t have to spend a fortune on something cashmere to keep warm and make a style statement.  A light zip-up adds style without making you too warm indoors, while a chunkier button-up works perfectly in colder climates.  Sweaters are extremely versatile and easy to pair with jeans, chinos, and even the next item on the list.  This V-neck merino wool sweater from J.Crew Factory comes in at $42.50.

Merino V-Neck Sweater | J.Crew Factory

The Corduroy:
Tired of wearing the same old jeans or khakis to Thanksgiving dinner?  Change up this year’s outfit by swapping in some corduroys.   The unique texture floats above the standard looks you’ll find in an ocean of jeans and chinos.  Available in a variety of autumn colors, some brands of these pants even have a slight stretch (which you’ll appreciate after an evening of devouring turkey and potatoes).  The straight fit cords from Gap are on sale for only $29.

1969 Five-Pocket Cord (Straight Fit) | Gap
The Boot:
Just like sweaters and corduroys, boots come in a seemingly unlimited variety of textures and colors, making them an easy addition to any outfit.  Some guys might prefer the chukka over a leather boot, but each option says the same thing: I know a little something about Thanksgiving style. These suede Michael Shannon chukkas from Off Broadway are a steal at $35.  Steven has been wearing these exact shoes this fall and they have easily become his go-to footwear choice (sorry, canvas sneakers).
Asheville Chukka | Michael Shannon via Off Broadway
If you wanted to customize your boots a bit, just swap out the standard laces for some fall-colored ones and show off just how sharply dressed you can be.  The Tie Bar has a great deal on colored laces at 5 pairs for $12. 

The Watch:
Sure, everyone nowadays carries a cell phone in their pocket.  So what’s the point of wearing a watch when your phone tells time?  Many guys simply wear a watch for the aesthetic benefits.  If you think a watch makes sense for your Thanksgiving outfit, look for something simple with a leather band.  The leather is definitely an autumn texture and will tie together all your holiday attire elements.  Although watches tend to be one of the more pricey elements of an outfit, this Timex watch is slightly more reasonable at $65.
Easy Reader | Timex via Nordstrom

The Socks:
Socks are the easiest way to add your personality to any outfit without being too showy or over the top.  A nice pop of color peeking out from under your boots is a great style touch.  Urban Outfitters has some socks that are both comfortable and durable for $8 each or 3 pairs for $20.  But the beautiful thing about socks is that they can be as crazy and fun as you want them to be.  Since they’re often covered by pant legs they won’t detract from your overall holiday attire.  But entertaining turkey or football-themed socks can go a long way towards showing off a little of your personal style.

Classic Nep Sock | Urban Outfitters

Granted, Thanksgiving is right around the corner so you might not be able to add all these elements to your wardrobe in time for Thursday.  However, we at The Sharp Suit (and Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets!) believe it’s important for every guy to discover his own personal style.  And we believe our humble suggestions above provide easy additions that any guy can include in a Thanksgiving outfit that will bring a little extra touch of style to their celebration of the holiday.

We hope that everyone has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dive Back In

After taking a look through my closet, I felt inspired to do a post on the value of doing just that. More specifically, the value of looking back through the things you tossed aside as useless just a few seasons (or years) ago. Especially for those of us relatively new to the game, you'd be surprised how many things you thought were 'uncool' a year ago that could fit your wardrobe perfectly now. This goes doubly for those of us recently out of school, as we grow from campus clothes to business wear, clothes that were too formal or fuddy-duddy to wear at a tailgate might be perfect for the office.

Here are a few examples from my own closet:

Adidas Indoor Soccer Shoes:
Sorry, I'm not sure what the actual name of these shoes is (I'm sure I could find it pretty easily, but it's besides the point). I actually got these back in high school at the very tail end of my soccer playing days. In the rapid-fire changing ways of teen style, I was suddenly off the athletic wagon and onto the streetwear wagon, and I think these shoes got one wear before they got thrown in the back of my closet. Then, last time I went to visit my parents, I was digging around for something or other in my old room and came across these beauties. With today's aesthetic of a slim, sharp sneaker to go with a pair of Chinos (I could even see these with a summer suit), along with some bright-but-not-obtrusive (and pretty American) colors, I threw these shoes right back into my rotation, and a week hasn't gone by that these haven't gotten at least a little bit of wear.

In general, I struggled for a while before I found the right fit of dress/chino pants for myself. When I was in the very early stages of my sartorial reinvention, I only got it half right. I went slim right off the bat, but was so reluctant to give up the 'pooling at the ankles' or 'stacked' look that I was comfortable with in college. As a result, some trousers with the perfect minimal break were unduly retired as 'too short.' When my girlfriend and I moved this fall, I came across a pile of these, and was surprised at how wonderfully some of these pants actually did fit, now that I know exactly how they should fit. Boom, 2-3 more pairs of pants, back in the pot.

Tailoring! It's Real!
Even as I dove into my style education, I was slow on the uptake when it came to alterations and tailoring. It's just something I'd never done before. Not only was I lacking in the kind of confidence that can only come from experience, I was intimidated by the whole process (especially the oft-lacking pricing structures....big pet peeve of mine is not knowing what I'm spending way before I commit to spending it). Now that I've dabbled and experimented, I'm again amazed by how many great pieces of clothing I have that I was ready to toss in the 'Goodwill' pile just because the trouser legs were a bit long, or the body of the shirt a bit wide. Now, I have a pile of old clothing, and I try to take one piece in each paycheck for an alteration. This way, in a few months I'll have a completely refreshed wardrobe without having to buy a single brand-new piece (although I'm sure I will anyway, because that's what style bloggers do).

My final suggestion is to take one last look at anything you're getting rid of and consider how you could repurpose it into something else to get just a bit more use out of it. I'm not full of life-hacks to give you here, but I can tell you that you probably don't have to worry about buying another pocket square for the rest of your life. A widely touted trick is to take an old tie (or steal one from your dad), maybe one that's too wide, or has a tear or stain near an end, or is otherwise unusable but largely in good shape. Chop off the ends as you see fit, fold that bad boy up, and voila, instant pocket square. I've recently started doing this with my shirts as well. I have a bunch of old shirts from high school that have great patterns but have ugly branding (ahem, American Eagle) or I have outgrown to the point that no alterations can help. Instead of tossing them, I'm destroying them! Ha, well, I'm cutting a square out of the back of each one. At some point, I'll learn how to use a sewing machine and 'hem' the edges (or whatever you would call it in this case), but in the meantime I simply utilize a fold that keeps the edges hidden. Just like that, I've cleared out a bunch of unused shirts and expanded my pocket square collection exponentially at the same time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 11/22/2013

Back at it again. To recap: "Every Friday, check in on the blog for a collection of the best (read: my favorite) deals and steals on the interweb for some quality shopping over the weekend. Have any to add? Share them in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. Also, if you're biting on any of these hooks, I'd love to hear about it!"

This weeks Deals and Steals:

Lived-In Slim Moleskin Pants by Gap
Damn, I'm really happy I found this one, might be scooping it myself. I've been on the hunt for an affordable pair of moleskin pants, these might be the ones. Moleskin is a fantastic cool-weather fabric. It's warmer than flannel, with a similar 'brushed' texture, but much more durable. Think canvas, if it was as soft and fuzzy as flannel.

From the looks of the site, these will fit similar to the slim chinos, which are my go-to from Gap. The current 40% off regular styles with code GAPEARLY knocks these down to under $40, which is great for ANY pants. Sign up for the credit card (no commitment as far as I can tell, I did this for a deal earlier this year), and get a full 50% off. The code is site-wide on full-price items, so browse around.

Suede Norbeck Boot by Ralph Lauren
More boots, more Ralph Lauren. Deal with it. I actually saw this on, in all fairness, but I'm horribly tempted to buy these, and probably will. I've been looking for a pair of semi-casual boots for dealing with Chicago winters, and these may fit the bill. I love the moc toe, the color will go great with dark jeans, and the $90 price tag (down from close to $200) can't be beat.

My only hesitation is suede and wintry weather can sometimes be at odds. But really, I can waterproof and winterize these puppies and just stick to something else on really nasty days. Anyone else have any thoughts on them? The rest of the deets: this discount is part of their Thanksgiving sale, which also includes free shipping (extra bonus point to RL).

Quilted Layering Vest by J.Crew Factory
Ok, I definitely was all about this just two days ago in our most recent post, but I didn't realize just how discounted these were right now until I was wrapping that post up. This vest has been such a huge item for me, I had to include it here and bring to y'alls attention again.

You can get all the juicy details and styling suggestions here. Beyond that, All you need to know is that this beauty is also offered in grey and is currently part of the everything included in their '40% off everything sale,' which brings this vest, originally $74.50, down to only $44.50, and for some context, I paid $60 for mine and still thought it was a great deal. Yup, wore mine today.

Tweed Jacket/Blazer by UNIQLO
Honestly, I would have included this one even if it was at full price. $100 for a tweed jacket is fantastic, $80 is even better. I had great luck with a Uniqlo blazer over the summer and would expect nothing less from one of these.
GQ even gave this some play very recently, so it's endorsed by the pros, it's THE all-time fabric for fall and winter, and it's dirt cheap. What's not to love?

Last but not least:

The Gentleman's Deck by Frausto & Co.
Not a sale, but still a steal. This is a perfect gift for your sartorially inclined friend that you don't want to spend $60+ on for a nice tie, but who you know will be able to recognize and be disappointed by anything remotely subpar. These cards are exactly what they are called:

Classy, informative, and a nice touch for a dapper dude to pull out on a guys night. And after all, that's what all of this is all about, right? Being a gentleman? Swing this gift for a mere $15.95, game over.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quilted Vests - The Ultimate Layering Piece

I've been spending the past few weeks working on a larger project for some collaborative work (more details to come), and have been focusing on cold-weather apparel. For obvious reasons, this has resulted in me spending a lot of time considering outerwear options facing the dapper dude as the temperatures continue to dip. While this year I'm really looking to grab my first quality topcoat, I keep coming back to what I see as the one outerwear piece you absolutely need. Yep, believe it or not, it's really that simple. The icing on the cake is you can get this item for a cool $50 if you know where to look, and try saying that for a wool topcoat or down parka.

Here, I'm talking about the quilted vest. It's the ultimate layering piece, and with one (just one!) in your closet, you can go seamlessly from crisp fall days to the coldest of the winter months and right back into spring without missing a beat. Case in point: I have now gone three brutal Chicago winters with no real outerwear to call my own, instead relying on an interchanging collection of thicker wool blazers, sweaters, fall jackets, and my go-to quilted layering vest.

For the most part, I started out just wearing this underneath a blazer. It added an insulating layer
without adding any unseemly bulk to my profile, which I like to keep slim, even in the winter.

This year, I've begun wearing it over top of some of my more form-fitting blazers. It's a look I wasn't 100% sure about at first but am really coming to love, and get compliments on all the time. The vest and blazer combo on it's own isn't terribly warm, but once you add some gloves, a hat and a scarf, the whole outfit gets nice and toasty.

My styling here is limited to my biz-casual work outfits, but you can work this into more casual
outfits just as easily (I do it all the time, but have yet to snap some pics). The vest is short and trim enough to wear underneath my Member's Only jacket, but still roomy enough to wear over a chunky cardigan. Bottom line, the versatility this piece offers makes it irreplaceable.

So, grab one of these for yourself, ASAP, I promise you won't regret it. Mine is from J.Crew Factory and is currently only $44.50, which leaves it under the $50 mark with shipping included. If you want a little more color, check out this gilet (gilet = vest for those across the pond) in navy and white.

Ed. Note: Due to a combination of crappy weather, earlier nightfall, and hectic schedules, my photographer (i.e. girlfriend) and I have been struggling to schedule photo shoots, and I hope you'll understand our being forced to rely on archived pictures and old selfies for this post.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Introducing Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets on Pinterest

Hopefully by now you are all following Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Just in time for the holidays, I'd like to introduce the Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets Pinterest account.

I've actually had this up and running for a while now, but keep forgetting to actually make it public. This is largely due to the fact that I'm not a huge Pinterest user. It's definitely one of those platforms I dove into for about a week and then forgot about. However, I do find it hugely useful in compiling shopping lists, or even better, holiday gift wishlists (hint hint, friends and fam).

Beyond that, my boards are really pretty self explanatory. I try to limit this to affordable pieces that I would buy myself, and even if some of the items are out of my current budget, they are at worst splurge-worthy, and never extravagant (save for the occasional drool-worthy shoe-porn pin). Use this as you please, for inspiration, for shopping ideas, for a better idea of my style, it's up to you. I'll do my best to keep it up-to-date, and if I'm posting anything wow-ing I'll go ahead and highlight it here on the blog as well!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 11/15/13

We're back with more! A recap from last week: Every Friday, check in on the blog for a collection of the best (read: my favorite) deals and steals on the interweb for some quality shopping over the weekend. Have any to add? Share them in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. Also, if you're biting on any of these hooks, I'd love to hear about it!

For this weekend:

J.Crew Cord in Vintage 484 Fit
Ok, first of all, just check out the entire J.Crew sale. Through the 18th, they are offering 40% off all sale items with code STYLETIME, and some of the deals have been ridonkulous (sp?). They've even been peppering in free shipping codes over the past few days, so keep an eye out. One of my favorite picks are these apple-red cords.

If you haven't been following the 'fall essentials' buzz that everyone preaches this time of year, cords are all over everyone's lists. This pair is especially festive, but I personally don't think they are too loud for regular wear. The 484 fit is supposedly one of the most flattering fits out there, and it's high on my to-do list to check them out (plus they have tons of sizes available). The sale drops these from an original $75 down to JUST $39! Damn, just had to read that again and pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

Polo Ralph Lauren Casserton Suede Chukka Boot
Chukka suggestions two weeks in a row? You bet your boots! See what I did there? All kidding aside, this is another pair of really sharp desert boots, and at $79.99 (down from $109), the price can't be beat. The suede has a lovely rich nap, and I'm especially partial to this brown version, but the blue and green options would make for stand-out but still classy footwear).

The rubber outsole won't dirty as quickly as the crepe soles that come on a lot of Clark's, and I'd say the profile is a little sleeker as well. I already have a pair of chukkas, but I'm damn tempted to get these, and they are at the very least making my holiday wish-list.

Banana Republic Grey Donegal Topcoat
Still shopping around for your winter outerwear? You're running out of time fast, but don't worry, cuz so am I. Banana Republic is running one of their (relatively common) 30% off codes (valid only on full-priced items), which knocks this Donegal wool topcoat down to around $208 from an original $300.

$208 is still not pocket change, but a topcoat is something worth investing in, and this particular one has gotten tons of good press, including several GQ mentions. I actually will be featuring it as well in a post that is part of an upcoming project with Cladright (a course-based menswear program by Barron Cuadro of Effortless Gent). Keep an eye out for more info (ONE eye, since I'm catching up wit the Governor in The Walking Dead as I write this).

Pretty much anything from the new SuitSupply Outlet
SuitSupply makes some gorgeous suits, and has a great rep in the menswear world, but most of their stuff is just a tad bit out of my price range. Enter their outlet store, JUST launched last week. I'm not picking out a single recommendation per se, but only because (as an outlet store), availability comes and goes pretty quick and is very dependent on your sizing. My current favorite, however, is this Copenhagen suit in navy plain linen:

Linen? In winter? Yes, because, kind of by definition, the outlet offers off-season items at a huge discount. Use code EARLYACCESS to gain entry and check out the selection in your size, and try not to blow through your life savings buying everything they offer. Suits run around $250 (which is un-freakin-believable), and blazers are around $150, but they also have shirt, sweater, outerwear, and accessory offerings as well. Be sure to take advantage of their very comprehensive fit guide when ordering.

The Icon Blazer by Almond Surfboards & Designs
First off, gotta give props to Well-Spent for finding this sucker. Yeah, it's a pretty casual blazer, but damn is it cool. Made out of Denim French Terry, Almond says this will age and develop patina just like your favorite pair of jeans. The slightly rougher fabric, combined with the unstructured, unlined construction give a blazer a touch of work-wear attitude that I can totally get on board with:

This one isn't on sale, but still clocks in at an incredibly affordable $98.00. Beware the combined alpha-sizing and lack of sizing chart...I'd say try to shoot them an e-mail before buying to make sure you get your fit right. Also, I'm guessing the Terry cloth will give this a bit of a stretch, plus the unstructured cut will form to your body, so I'd steer slim on this, for sure.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The To-Do List: Setting Goals and Meeting Them

I was sorting through some old drafts and documents on my computer the other day and ran across an old list of sartorial goals. I was originally going to write a post based on this list when I first wrote it, pointing out that, while I'm here dispensing advice to you folks, I have a lot of improvements I want to make myself. The article never really came into fruition, and I honestly kind of forgot about the 'to-do' list that I had made. Stumbling upon it again now, it's actually really encouraging, because, for the most part, even without looking at it every day, I lived up to my goals and can cross most of these items off:

  • Tie a good tie with a strong dimple at the right length in less than 20 minutes. - Boom. I've got my tie-tying down to an art. I actually had one of my best friends come visit the other week, and we got all inebriated and had a tie-the-knot drinking game/contest (at 2 in the morning on a Tuesday, much to my girlfriend's dismay). I have some awesome and ridiculous pictures from the night, which I'll share someday.

  • Don't somehow, mysteriously, fuck up my shoes every time I wear them on things like, no joke, cracks in the sidewalk. - This one I honestly still struggle with, haha, but I'm not exactly sure how to work on it. I will say that, in general, as I've dressed better and better, I've really noticed myself moving with more care and purpose. I think I can safely say that I'm a generally less sloppy person, in large part because it's hard enough to afford to buy clothes (and shoes) once, let alone replace them because of my own damn clumsiness. So, I'm gonna call this one a win too.

  • Don't get stuck on one outfit that worked really great, and then wear it over and over. - Another one I think I pass with flying colors. In fact, I may have taken this into problem territory on the other end of the spectrum. Instead of struggling with wearing the same things, I struggle with a need to wear something new or different every day, whether it's a whole new piece or even just a new combination, and it's become a bit of an insecurity in it's own regard. Brian Sacawa  of He Spoke Style started his own blog with the idea of wearing a 'uniform' every day for a year, and I think that challenge takes a whole different level of confidence.  
  • Find a really good fitting jean. - I give myself a half-check on this goal. I've gotten a better fitting jean, but still don't have that one, high-quality, perfect-fitting piece of denim that denim-heads tend to gush over. I'm giving myself a pass though...I purposefully held off on this all summer just waiting for the weather to cool down a bit so I could justify buying some mid-weight denim that isn't really hot-as-sin-and-humid-as-all-getout compatible. Now that the temps are cooler, as soon as my bank account can handle it I'll be grabbing pair, probably from Gustin or Dyer and Jenkins.

  • Find a great tailor and build a relationship with him. - Alas, I can't really check this bad boy off the list, which is sad, because it's probably the most important item on here. Like I say all the time, fit is everything, and a tailor is the best way to get that perfect fit on every item of clothing you wear. Right now, I'm struggling with Chicago's selection of tailors...too many expensive options that get less-than-desirable reviews. Unfortunately, I don't have the spare funds (or clothing) to really dive into the trial-and-error fiasco that finding a solid tailor can be. The Peter Field seamstress gets my whole-hearted endorsement for alterations like taking in a shirt, and I have a last-ditch high end fella that I take more complicated work to if need be, but I still am looking for someone to fill that middle ground.

  • Wear a blazer/jacket on a daily basis (and not just for warmth). - When I first started taking my daily wear to the next level, I limited myself to shirts and ties, and really only threw a blazer on as an extra layer in colder months. I'm proud to say that I am now comfortable wearing a blazer on a day-to-day basis as a part of my basic outfit. I honestly think I've actually evolved sartorially past this step by recognizing that nothing should be an every-day-no-matter-what necessity, and instead dress on a day-to-day, by-the-occasion basis. Happily though, these days this involves a blazer more often than not.

  • Wear pocket squares (with confidence). - Man, I was so very timid when first stepping into the pocket-square game, and unnecessarily so. I now have a small but decent selection and try to wear one as often as I wear a blazer. I've even started experimenting with throwing them into less formal outfits, tossing one in the back pocket of my pants, or the breast pocket of a shirt or casual jacket. Instead of being an element that makes me nervous and hesitant, I now accessorize with confidence.

The whole point: not only is it great to have a list of goals to pursue, it's also great to recognize when you've achieved some of those goals and allow yourself a good pat on the back. Now it's time for me to create a new list, tuck it away somewhere for a few months, and see if I live up to my own aspirations and expectations. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Investment Pieces

I'm really happy to finally be at the point in my life where I can start thinking about investment pieces. These are pieces where it is 100% worth it to not bargain hunt your way into a product, to find the cheapest bang for your buck, or go for quantity over quality. Rather, these are pieces where you want to splurge, because you buy ONE, and that one item will never go out of style and never wear down on you.

Now, when I say I'm at the point in my life where I can start thinking about these things, I mean two things. First, I don't necessarily have the money to go out and buy and investment jacket and investment boots and investment yadda yadda yadda right now (this is still Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets), but I do have a little padding with each paycheck that I can put towards saving up for those really worthwhile purchases.

Perhaps even more important, I am confident enough in my personal style as well as my own sartorial education to be able to pick out pieces that I know I will want to wear forever, and will look good forever. After all, it's pretty pointless to shell out for an expensive, durable jacket, only to have it go out of style and out of favor in a year.

I also have to include a small caveat. These are all items that are worth investing in if you have the money to invest in them. For example, later I'll discuss denim as an investment piece, but if you need a pair of dark blue jeans and only have $40 in your budget to cover them, don't freak out, open a line of credit, and go into debt to get that awesome pair of $100 (or $200) jeans. Shop within your means.

OK! All that out of the way, here is the list of investment pieces going onto my wish/save list:

Boots - This is probably first on my list, but largely because I have an almost fetishistic obsession with these Allen Edmond's Dalton boots. They are just so perfect that I can't bring myself to settle for even a temporary inexpensive alternative. Nope, I'm holding out for the real deal, and baby, this is it.

Dalton by Allen Edmonds | $395.00 at Nordstrom

Coat - A good winter coat is an easy choice for the 'investment piece' list. First, the truly classic styles have never gone out of favor. Your pea coats and chesterfields will be as safe as a purchase now as they were ten years ago and will be ten years from now. On top of that, a winter coat is an item where style and functionality are equally important and equally hard to find at lower price points. If you want to stay warm (especially in a city like Chicago), and not look like you're wearing a glorified garbage bag, you're going to have to shell out a few bucks.

Grafton Coat by Rag & Bone | $895

Shoes - Another easy addition to the list. I've done great for a while grabbing some fantastic used shoes off of eBay, but at some point I'd really like to purchase at least two pairs of brand new, high quality dress shoes. Why is brand new important? There is a layer of cork between the insole and actual sole of every shoe (well, to my understanding), and this layer forms to your foot over time, like memory foam, but more permanent. If you buy used, no matter how nice of condition the shoe is, that cork layer is going to be formed to someone else's foot. Why is high quality important? Much like a good coat, a solid pair of shoes from a renowned brand like Allen Edmonds or Alden will never go out of style and will last you a decade.

Limited Edition Alden Cadet Cordovan Bluchers | $657.00 at J. Crew

Jeans - One of the biggest eye openers for me as I learned about menswear was the realization that holy hell people pay $200 for a pair of jeans! Even more importantly, I realized that there's actually a difference between a $200 pair of jeans and one that only costs $50. Again, this comes down to two things: the right $200 pair of jeans will 1) never go out of style; and 2) last forever - are you noticing a theme here?

A.P.C. Petit Standard Slim-Fit Dry Selvedge Denim Jeans | $205 at Mr. Porter

Watch - I've never been a watch guy myself, but even I can tell the difference between a cheap Timex and something of more esteemed quality. Don't get me wrong, a Timex will serve my purposes nine times out of ten, but one day I want to own one nice timepiece that I can bust out on special occasions when I really want to look and feel like a boss.

Burberry Silver Ceramic and Stainless Steel Watch, 42mm | $795.00 at Bloomingdale's

A Bespoke Suit - Notice how I said 'A.' That means one. Sure, someday it'd be killer if I could afford to have all of my suits made custom, but even if I never reach that sort of baller status, I'd like to own at least one fully bespoke suit before I die. As a menswear enthusiast, I can't tell you how many articles I've read reveling in the pure joy, comfort, and confidence that comes from having a suit of the finest fabrics cut and sewn for you alone, and that's a feeling I want. Now, due to the nature of 'bespoke,' I obviously can't pick out an online example for you, but you can imagine it...I'm thinking a warm brown, in a wool-cashmere blend, peak lapels, brown nut buttons...ah I could go on and on...

I'm sure there's more to this list, and hopefully I continue to improve my socio-economic status throughout my life and in turn get to add more items to this list, but right now, these are the things I'm ready to save and splurge on.

What's on your list? Any overlaps with my list? Anything you'd add or remove? Share in the comments!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 11/8/13

Oh happy day! Announcing and presenting a new recurring post. Every Friday afternoon, check in on the blog for a collection of the best (read: my favorite) deals and steals on the interweb for some quality shopping over the weekend. Have any to add? Share them in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. Also, if you're biting on any of these hooks, I'd love to hear about it!

For this weekend:

Brooks Brothers: The Great Gatsby Collection Supima Cotton Slim Fit Button-Down Oxford Solid Dress Shirt
Damn, that name is a mouthful. But everyone (EVERYONE) should own a go-to white OCBD, and Brooks Brothers' are widely renowned as the best OCBD's out there. Normally, Brooks Bro's goods are a bit out of my price range, but these are dropped down to only $31.80 (down from $79.50).

This is part of the Brooks Brothers' Veterans Day sale, so check out their other offerings (also including free shipping for a limited time).

J.Crew Factory Thompson Suit Pant in Flannel
This one isn't SUPER cheap, and sizes are a bit limited, but flannel trousers are the shit in the winter...both warm and dapper as all get-out. Normally it's impossible to find pants like these under $100, but the final sale price on these puts them at a very-reasonable $78.99 (down from $158.00). (UPDATE: J. Crew Factory just added an 'Extra 30% Off' code, which drops these down to just $55.00. Hot damn. Code is BIGSALE)

Keep in mind that these are final sale, so be confident in your sizing before you bite.

Frank and Oak Elias Wool Crew in Mahogany
Frank and Oak didn't use to have a standing sale section, instead going with just a few seasonal sales each year, but they did some work on their layout/web design following their recent mid-season fall sale, and it looks like the sale section is sticking around now. This sweater hits all the right notes: 100% wool; nice earthy brown color for fall; slim fit. All for $35.00 (down from $50)? Yes please!!shopid=saleitems

Again, it looks like these are final sale. If you aren't sure of your fit, maybe try getting ahold of customer service to get some advice. I personally wear a small, and am a 36' chest, 30' waist.

John Varvatos Sid Softy Chukka (on
Man, if I didn't already have a nice pair of Clark's, I'd be all over these at just $99.00 (down from $228). Classic chukka style with a few updates. Most notable is the cap-toe detailing, which break up the field nicely (I'm a sucker for a good cap-toe). Also, these look to have a narrower profile than Clark's, which lends to a bit dressier and more modern look. Finally, the moss color is perfect for the cooler weather, much like a forest green.

MyHabit has the unexpected bonus of free shipping, which is always a huge perk in my book. Plus, unlike a lot of flash-sale items, these are returnable through January 31st, so it's a relatively risk-free purchase!

Holiday Knit in Midnight Navy/Clover by The Tie Bar
OK, so this one isn't a sale, but at $15.00, all of the ties from The Tie Bar qualify as a steal. I've mentioned before that I like to do something special with my outfits for the holidays, but always make a strong effort to keep it subtle and classy. This tie fits that bill perfectly.

No loud colors, the patterns play off of classic fair-isle and Nordic traditions, and of course, gotta love that it's knit. Snag one now and you'll have it in time for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah AND Christmas!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Suiting Patterns and Fall Ties

I've been all over topics relating to the changing seasons as the temperatures have been dropping, and here's another one for you. Along with the new season comes a lot of new trends, and there's one in particular that I've been pretty geeked out about. I'm seeing more and more designers and labels offering ties made from traditional suiting patterns. I'm sure this isn't an entirely new phenomenon, but something about these patterns goes perfectly hand in hand with wool ties. Wool ties go hand in hand with fall, so now ties with suiting patterns go hand in hand with fall (math, transitive property of equality and all that).

What do I mean by 'suiting patterns?' Quite simply, patterns that are traditionally reserved for suits. Easy 'nuff. My standout favorite as of late has been the glen plaid pattern. Plaid suits are all the rage this season, and the look lends itself just as sharply to a good wool tie. I recently scored this beauty from The Tie Bar and love wearing it under a flannel blazer. The brown foundation keeps it classic and classy, but the blue and orange lines give it some more visual depth and variety.
Fall Wool Plaid by The Tie Bar - $15
Another pattern I've been loving this year is hounds-tooth. It's such a great mixture of bold and subtle...the contrast between the light and dark abstract checks lends the perfect level of boldness while, once again, the traditional nature of the pattern never strays too far from a vibe that's pure refined elegance. Bold, but elegant. Perfect balance. Check out the Syderstone by Peter Field - definitely on my 'To-Buy' list:[auto_group1]/1/
The Syderstone by Peter Field - $65


Monday, November 4, 2013

Hucklebury Shirts - In-Person Review

About two weeks ago we featured a brand spotlight on Hucklebury, an up-and-coming men's shirting company with a current campaign on Kickstarter. Parag followed up with me and sent me a shirt to see and test for an in-person review, and the results are in! Check out the brand background over here, and get the lowdown on the shirts below:

Quality of Construction:

The main thing to stress here is the fantastic quality. First of all, the 100% Egyptian Cotton fabric is comfortable as hell and drapes wonderfully when wearing. The collar is a workhorse, and will definitely never flop, with a tie or undone for some drinks after work. Personally, I prefer a bit softer of a collar, but I know menswear aficionados all over the net clamor for stiffer, heartier collars, and they won't be disappointed here.

Other small details continue to point to the high quality of construction. The pattern matching down the sides of the shirt is pretty damn perfect, the mother-of-pearl buttons are a classy touch (and more durable than cheap plastic alternatives), and the single-needle stitching, especially on the placket, offers a sleeker, more streamlined look than standard double-needle work.

Contrast stitching on bottom 
There are just a few areas I found slightly lacking. At this price point, I would hope for a split yoke along the shoulders, but it's definitely not a deal-breaker (for the record, a split yoke allows for greater freedom of movement in a shirt, but is much harder to construct as it not only adds an extra seam, but also an entire new dimension of pattern-matching). Additionally, the stitching on the contrasting bottom button-hole seemed a little rough, and it would have been nice to have gussets at the side seams for extra durability, but the 365 day guarantee (which is such an awesome promise, and worth mentioning again) pretty solidly negates the need.


As fantastic as the construction of the shirt is, I have to admit I'm not entirely blown away by the fit. From my understanding, the shirts are still in pre-production, so Parag didn't have a ton of sizes sitting around to send me. Therefore, I had to settle for a trial shirt a bit off of my sizing, and went with a 15' neck, rather than my usual 14.5'. Knowing this, I reasonably expected the whole shirt to run a bit big and definitely took this into consideration during the review. Take a look at the pictures:

Honestly, everything is so close. I do love that the shirt comes already darted...a lot of shirt-makers refrain from doing this as it adds yet another seam that, if not made entirely straight, throws off the pattern on the back of the shirt.
Can you pick out the darting seems at the sides of the pictures? Subtly well done.
Hucklebury does a great job here, and the darts definitely add a taper to the shirt that most off the rack shirts do not have. For a size too big, this shirt fits way better along the waist than I would have expected...
Fit at the waist (front).

Fit at the waist (side).
...and that's gotta be due to those darts. Nice touch, Hucklebury!

Also, take a look at the armholes, and the mobility around the shoulders.

Once again, for a shirt admittedly a size large, the armholes are very reasonably high and fitted, and there's no unseemly bunching or movement of the rest of the shirt when I raise my arms.

Really, my hesitation when it comes to fit results largely from the fact that, while those areas mentioned above are close enough that a size down would more than likely alleviate any concerns, I'm not sure I'd be able to make that switch. The collar and the shoulder seams on this size are a pretty exact fit for my body, and I'd worry that sizing down would make those areas too small. At the same time, a few other areas, such as the sleeves and looseness at the upper chest make this size too large for me to wear. I'll have to give the 14.5' neck a try to see if I can make it work, because damn, I want to make these work!

Another shot of the fit (keeping in mind this is a size too large):
Close to perfect in the waist.
Great fit at neck and shoulders.
A bit too roomy in the sleeves and chest.

The Bottom Line:

Undoubtedly, Hucklebury offers an incredible deal when it comes to quality for the price. The construction and fabric alone are enough to make these shirts worth buying at $78. As for the fit, the darting and resulting taper in the body are there, as are the higher armholes. If you're a super-skinny guy like me, you may still need some tailoring or alterations to get the perfect fit, but someone with a bit more meat on their bones will more than likely be very pleased with the dimensions. If the fit works for you, this is a helluva buy. If you want to get in on the introductory pricing and support their kickstarter, head over here to for more information regarding contribution options.