Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Style Featuring G.H. Bass Weejuns

Just a quick one for you all this New Year's Eve. G.H. Bass was kind enough to send me a festive pair of Mapache Weejuns as a gift to style for the holiday. I was going to dress em' up, wear em' out, and post my outfit but a) we have a winter storm coming here in Chicago that might limit photo shoot options, and b) I wanted to give you some inspiration in time to dress up yourselves. So, voila, here's my 'fit broken down to it's elements, and look out for in-action pictures on Instagram tonight, or on the blog later this week!

The Shoes:

G.H. Bass's Weejuns are the epitome of classic prep. While loafers had been around for a while, when G.H. Bass starting producing their signature Weejuns in 1934, they added the strip of leather across the vamp, and penny loafers were born. This particular pair eschews the standard polished brown or black leather in favor of a rusty red that is festive and fun without being in-your-face or tacky. As you all know, I'm a big fan of doing something special for a holiday, spicing things up a bit, and these are a perfect instrument to do so. Still, the color is subdued enough that I'll be using these to inject some color into my looks throughout the year, holiday's be damned. 

The Rest of the Outfit(s)
I'm actually rocking two different outfits through the day today, mainly because I have some down-time between work and festivities and didn't want to be dressed to the nines all day. For the few annoying hours I have to be mentally present at work this morning, I donned something a bit more casual, but still sharp and festive:

The red sweater matches great with the shoes with a similar dark, rusty shade. I tend to avoid items that are too 'matchy,' but the variety in texture between the wool and leather, along with the spacial distance, broken up by the dark blue jeans, allows these reds to play off each other nicely. Since the red shoes (and sweater) are a bit bolder of a look, I kept the rest simple with dark jeans, a white shirt, and neutral socks. A little color goes a long way.

Now, of course when I go out for New Year's Eve debauchery, I'll be dressing things up just a bit more. I'm making a few new moves this year, first with the colorful shoes, but also by rocking my very first bow-tie. I'm not sure it's 'my look' on a day-to-day basis, but it's another fun and classy way to spice things up for the holiday.

This look is very similar to my Holiday Concert Outfit featured earlier this month, with some key changes. First, the grey chinos add some class (instead of denim) to the outfit. I especially love this pair for the occasion because they look snazzy but feel tough, and will be able to hold up as I hop in and out of cabs, dance to Pickwick, and pick up all sorts of salt and snowy sludge as I trek through the city. The custom shirt in a luxurious twill from Modern Tailor steps things up from the OCBD I wore earlier, and like I said, the bow-tie is the icing on the cake (if I can ever get it tied).

How about you? Feel free to share your NYE outfit picks in the comments below, or shoot me an e-mail at wideeyestightwallets@gmail.com! Have a fun, safe New Year's Eve and here's to another incredible year in 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Made-To-Measure on a Budget: Tailor4Less Reviewed

A few weeks ago, a company called Tailor4Less approached me out of the blue about reviewing a blazer from their Made-To-Measure collection. I had never heard of the brand before, and some quick research didn't bring up anything too impressive, but I'm a big fan of the growing availability of custom (or closer to it) clothing for men, so I wanted to give them a try. I went ahead and ordered a blazer, sat back and waited for it to arrive. Honestly, when it came, I was pleasantly surprised! Based off of the fabric descriptions, low prices, and general lack of a preceding reputation, my expectations weren't very high, but the blazer I got fit fantastically, wore very comfortably, and has been earning me compliments left and right. Here are the details:

The Site and Ordering Process:
This is all pretty similar to any online MTM brand. The site isn't mind-blowing, but they are in the apparel business, not the web design business, so that gets a pass. It does automatically direct you to their Spanish(?) language site when you go to Tailor4Less.com, but switch over to English (or your chosen language) and things move along easily. My only complaint here is that they ask you to pick you details before you pick you fabric. This might just be a personal thing, but I tend to base my style customizations pretty heavily off of the fabric I'm using. For example, a thicker wool fabric with a plaid pattern will probably get more casual detailing, where a slicker fabric with more of a sheen to it might be styled up for a more formal situations. What I ended up doing was throwing in some random customizations just to get to the fabric menu first, and then going back and altering my decisions. No biggie, just slightly inconvenient. 

Customization Options:
I'll preface this section with the fact that the blazers start at just $159 (compare to $300 at Indochino, or $379 at DragonInside). Therefore, the fact that the customizations are relatively limited, when compared to those other options, is pretty acceptable in my book. You still get all the basics (peak vs. notch lapels, 1 or 2 vents, 1 to 4 buttons, pocket styles, functioning cuffs, etc.). However, there is no choice for half-lining, slim/wide lapels, hacking pockets, or pick stitching. They may accommodate these types of requests via e-mail though, as they were able to switch button colors for me that way (although I ended up sticking with their standard per their recommendation).

For the record, I went with a single-breasted jacket, slim-fit, peak lapels, 2 buttons, a breast pocket, 2 double-welted pockets, side vents and non-functioning buttons.

Fabric Options:
Here is where the low price point comes into play again. I was on the hunt for a winter wool blazer, and it is damn hard to find one in their selection that is 100% wool. Most have a pretty decent percentage of polyester or other artificial fabric. However, there are many more 100% compositions available in linen and cotton. I ended up settling on a dark green (seasonal, eh?) wool/terylene blend called 'Glenmore,' which started at $195 (note, this is also where the price starts to creep up). I had actually never heard of terylene before, so I shot them an e-mail to inquire and they told me "This 10% of terylene (or polyester in other cases) adds wrinkle free properties to the garment, as it remains smooth even if you wear it all day long and it is much more easier to iron. Moreover, this material makes the product more resistant."

Ivory lining and monogram.
Final Customizations:
After picking your fabric, Tailor4Less gives you the chance to add a few more personalizations. Unfortunately, these all come at an extra cost that can quickly negate the originally 'bargain' price point. Picking a specific lining color, which is often included is an extra $17 or so. A monogram is $13, and a felt lining under the collar is another $5. Since I was getting mine on the house, I got all the accoutrements, with an ivory lining (all linings come in polyester, rather than bemberg), and a monogram and neck lining in matching (or as close as I could get) colors. You can also add elbow patches for $17, a pocket square for $13, or colored button holes for $5, but I passed on those. 

The Price:
Honestly, the starting price of $159 for a MTM is pretty unheard of, so I wasn't surprised that there would be a bit of a bump in order to get a decent fabric (not 100% polyester) and a few of my personalizations, but by the time I was done my blazer rung in at $229. Again, this is significantly less that the starting prices at Indochino or DragonInside, but it's starting to get a bit beyond true budget-range. That said, it's still a good enough price to make me happy, as long as the jacket itself doesn't fall in true budget-range quality.

The Measurement Process:
Everything standard here. Enough measurements to be thorough, but nothing too crazy where you're going to need to be up all night with a team of assistants and 10 measuring tapes covering every nook and cranny of your body. To be honest, I was in a bit of a rush so I just used my measurements from my recent DragonInside order and decided to hope for the best.

The Result:
Ugh, impossible to get good lighting in the winter.
Well first of all, stupid me, I didn't write down the date I received the blazer, so I'm not 100% sure how long the wait was, but it wasn't bad at all. Granted I wasn't hanging on the edge of my seat, or on a deadline to wear it for a specific event, but I do know I didn't feel like I was waiting unreasonably long. So here we go: Off the bat, the fit was pretty darn impressive. Maybe next time I'll add a cm or so to the sleeves, but they are perfectly fine as is. The jacket is slim but not tight, and lays nicely on my shoulders and chest. The collar may be a bit high in the back too, but it doesn't bunch and it really just is extra help in avoiding collar gap. Again, something I may adjust ever-so-slightly on a future order, but will serve me just fine as is.

Despite the artificial-fiber component of the fabric, the hand of the jacket is quite luxurious. It's not quite as thick as I was hoping for as a winter wool, but the green is rich, the jacket is soft, and, in the few times I've worn it so far,
Maybe a tad long in the sleeves?
it has yet to develop any of the standard signs of cheap fabric (shininess where it rubs, pilling, etc.). Also, I didn't have high hopes from a 100% polyester lining, but it too is soft and the whole combination makes it actually one of my most comfortable jackets.

The styling came out great. I mentioned my individual specs previously, but the big picture look I wanted was winter-appropriate with a bit of a formal edge. I stuck with a heartier winter-weight wool in a very seasonable dark green, both of which might initially lean casual. However, I kept a dressy aspect with welted pockets and peak lapels. The ivory lining definitely, when seen, definitely lends to the classiness of the whole jacket as well. So far, I've worn it to two holiday concerts, with fantastic results, and I actually am probably going to wear it again this New Year's Eve, as my suits are at the tailor (woops, bad timing).

Peak lapels.
Double-welted pockets.
Evenly-spaced buttons and clean stitching on the button-holes.
Tailor4Less branding inside the collar.

Bottom Line:
Overall, my low expectations were definitely exceeded. I'm not sure I would choose T4L over DragonInside or even a decent OTR jacket from Frank and Oak. However, if you're a guy on a strict budget and non-standard proportions (or just eager for that customized fit), this may be the way to go. My own jacket creeped up in price, but there are definitely some extras I could have done without that would have left this closer to the $200 mark. I have yet to try any of their other many options (coats, suits, shirts, etc.), but it's definitely a MTM option to keep in mind. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Get Your Eggnog Coat On!!

Ok, I'm gonna come right out and admit that this is a slack-off post, but I don't even feel bad about it because I'm curled up on the couch at my girlfriend's parents house and really enjoying my laziness, which is kinda what Christmas is all about, right? Sure!

Anyway, didn't wanna leave the blog hanging the whole week, so I'm at least giving you all a lil' sumpin sumpin for the holidays.

Esquire 'Nog
I've always loved eggnog, but will be the first to admit that sometimes that store-bought stuff can be a little sickly-sweet, even with a healthy dose of your preferred spirits. This year, over thanksgiving, we decided to make our own, and I'm really glad we did. The resulting beverage was much lighter and absolutely delicious, even with some tweaks we had to make due to missing ingredients (damn grocery stores, never open on the holidays...ok more like, damn my procrastination). I'll put it this way: no one in my family 'likes' eggnog, and our pitcher was gone in about 20 minutes.

We used this recipe from Esquire, which seems to be pretty standard to me. I actually first saw it in (I believe) the November magazine, which also mentioned some alcohol alternatives like sherry or tequila, which sounds weird as hell to me, but I love experimenting with food and beverages, so I'm going to have to try it out sometime. When we made this, we didn't have any rum or cognac, so we used Irish whiskey instead. It definitely lent to a sharper taste, as the rum does a lot to sweeten the nog, but it was still fantastic. Serve some up! And have a very merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 12/19/2013

First, the spiel: "Every weekend, 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!"

Comin' at you a bit early this week, as I will be spending all day Friday driving from Chicago to Philadelphia. Fun!

This week:

Johnston & Murphy 30% Off Sale:
J&M has a ton of stuff in their sale section, marked down to up to 30% off. Definitely take a few minutes to browse through, as this is going to be kind of hit-or-miss based on your personal preferences. Personally, I turn to Johnston & Murphy for stylish but not outrageously expensive shoes, so this pair of Westmore wingtips caught my eye, marked down to $120 (originally $175):
Westmore Wingtip in Burgundy Italian Calfskin | Johnston & Murphy
The burgundy color is so in right now (haha), and is incredibly versatile. I have a pair very similar to these that I snagged off eBay, and I wear them equally well with jeans as a suit. Plus, these guys have a rubber sole, which may be a detractor for some but is pretty appealing to me after walking home through the salt-and-sludge-filled sidewalks of Chicago. 

Also, their clothing section is worth taking a look as well. I can't personally speak to the quality as I have yet to try their attire myself, but they have some attractive options, such as this textured shawl-collar sweater:
Textured Shawl Collar Sweater | Johnston & Murphy
I think I've announced my love of shawl collars enough times here for you to get it, and this guy looks especially cozy. In addition to the shawl, I've been all about the interesting knits (cable knit, waffle knit, or a unique look like this one). This sweater is knocked down from $140 to $90, which isn't pocket change but is a good start for a chunky sweater. The cotton/wool blend (with a hint of nylon) will be warm like wool but a bit easier to maintain, thanks to the cotton.

Dockers 30% Off Sitewide (Code GIFT30):
I've been hearing rave things about the Dockers Alpha Khakis for a while now, and finally got to pick up a pair a few weeks ago. Damn, do they ever live up to the hype. Dressy as chinos but with a durable, denim-like hand, these are easily becoming one of my favorite pairs of trousers. Normally $68, the code knocks these down to under $50, and it looks like Dockers is shipping everything free at the moment.
Original Slim Alpha Khaki in Midnight | Dockers
I got mine in grey, but if I didn't already have a pair of navy chinos I would have grabbed these. Honestly though, there are a bunch of equally versatile colors available. I go with the original slim fit, which I think has the perfect amount of taper through the leg. 

Again, haven't personally tried their other apparel, but if their khakis are any indication, I'd say go for it. I browsed the rest of their collection, and saw this flannel overshirt, another piece I've been on the hunt for:
Flannel Overshirt in Carbon Heather Herringbone | Dockers
Ok, I wouldn't wear it like the guy in the picture, but as a casual 'shacket,' this looks pretty great, especially for under $50 (regularly $68). There's also a damn fine looking toggle-closure shawl cardigan that I'm only not listing because I've already got the shawl collar covered above.

Bonobos Extra 30% Off Holiday Styles (Code SNOWEDIN):
I make a rule NOT to buy anything for myself in the week before Christmas, but I might make an exception for this shirt. If you're like me and have been tempted to dip your toes in the color-blocking trend but haven't bit the bullet yet, Bonobos is giving a hella good chance to do so on the cheap:
Double Major Slim Colorblock | Bonobos
Available in their slim fit, this OCBD comes in a few colorways, but this is probably my favorite. Best part, with the 30% off, the shirt is only $27! Bonobos always ships and returns free, so this is hugely risk-free.

While you're at it, Bonobos is really known for their pantaloons. Along with Dockers Alpha Khaki, their chinos are among my favorites with an absolutely impeccable fit. They have a ton of colors available at a range of prices, but these brown cords are a steal at $35 after the discount:
French Corders in Brown | Bonobos
The warm brown corduroy fabric is perfect for the fall/winter season, and like I said, impeccable slim-straight fit. 

Word. Notebooks:
This one isn't a sale, per se, but these are cheap to begin with ($10 for a 3-pack), and therefore make the perfect stocking stuffer. These notebooks are cool enough just in design, with a variety of colors available, but the real gem is their bullet system that takes the to-do list to a whole new level.

Word. Notebook in Green Leaf | Word. Notebooks
I bought a few of these for my girlfriend as a birthday gift last year, and now she swears by them. Her endorsement has been so enthusiastic that these are high on my own list this year, and if none pop up in my stocking I'll be sure to grab a few for myself. 

The company also offers these very cool pocket journals for $11, or $45 with a monogrammed leather cover:
The Standard Memorandum | Word. Notebooks
The company description says it better than I could:

"The project began after Jon discovered his wife's great-grandfather's pocket journals from the early 1900's that basically recreated what his life was like. Born out of a desire to start doing this himself, Jon partnered with Word. Notebooks to create a journal like the ones he found. The Standard Memorandum is that journal."

This last one is a shout-out to my good friends in the Kalob Griffin Band (or the KGB). Eric Lawry, the drummer for the band, has been one of my best friends since freshman year at PSU. He's always been making music, and in our senior year he hooked up with Kalob (another solid dude) and I've been rockin' out to their jams ever since.

June Found A Gun | The Kalob Griffin Band
KGB plays an awesome mix of rock, blues, folk and americana music that's irresistibly booty-shakin'. Their debut album, June Found A Gun is available on iTunes and Spotify, but their live show is where it's really at. We actually plan our trip back to Philly every year around their holiday concert, which is a helluva party and always a highlight of my year. If you can make it (or gift a ticket to a friend or family member), it's on the 21st at World Cafe (a great venue as well), and you can get tix here for $15.

On that note, have a great holiday and safe travels! I'll check back in with a short post early next week!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Concert Outfit

First, a quick heads up: what with the holidays coming up on top of an already-busy schedule, we're toning down Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets back to two posts a week for just a week or two. That means look for your weekend Deals and Steals a day early on Thursday!

Anyway, this weekend my girlfriend and I had tickets to see Dawes (one of our favorites) play the WXRT holiday show at the gorgeous Chicago Theater (along with The Head and the Heart). I of course took the opportunity to dress up a little bit, and since it's been so long since I've done a proper outfit post, well, here you go.

I wasn't sure of venue rules regarding cameras, so I left the camera at home and everything here was shot with my trusty iPhone. That in mind, I apologize if any pictures came out sub-par, but I'm sure you'll get over it.

Since this was the holiday concert, I wanted to dress at least a little festively, so I planned my outfit around incorporating some green and red. This turned out to be a perfect opportunity, because I just got this dark green wool blazer from Tailor4Less for an upcoming review (more details to come, but I'll say now I was actually pretty impressed). 

With the green element underway, I had to add a touch of red as well, which came via my go-to dark red/burgundy knit tie by The Tie Bar. With the blazer and tie together, I had my green and red without being too garish or bold. The darker, muted tones, chosen over brighter alternatives, invoke images of a cozy fire-side drink rather than say, drunken TBOX revelry, which suited my tastes and the occasion just fine.

The rest of the outfit came together easily. The specs I picked for the blazer nicely blend dressy and casual, with a definitely laid-back fabric, but sleek silhouette with the jetted pockets and peak lapels. I continued this through the rest of the look, holding down the dressier end of things with a white dress shirt and a silver tie clip, as well as my oxblood brogues.

Shined these bad boys up for the night.
However, I maintained the weekend-casual vibe by wearing jeans instead of dress pants, and picking an OCBD over a dressier cavalry twill option.

Of course, being in Chicago, in December, it was a chilly night, and I bundled up with my new awesome Gloverall duffle coat and a wool scarf from Frank & Oak. This coat is freakin' incredible, and goes just as well over a blazer as it does a crew-neck sweatshirt. And it's warm. Boom.

Cheesin' in the cold.

We had an incredible night, the show was awesome, and hey, I made a blog post out of it! Not too shabby for a Sunday night!

The show was our Hanukkah present to each other, well spent.
Dawes, rockin' out.

Outfit Details:
Blazer: MTM via Tailor4Less
Pocket Square (that you can barely see, shit): Stepped Wool by The Tie Bar
Shoes: Bostonian Oxblood Wingtips via eBay
Scarf: Wool Scarf by Frank and Oak

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 12/12/2013

First, the spiel: "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 week's Deals and Steals:

J.Crew Anonymous Ism Fair Isle Socks:
Ok, J.Crew has a fantastic 30% off everything sale (code GIFTNOW), with free shipping and no minimum. This pick is probably (read: definitely) not the best deal available (for that, take a look at the Ludlow blazers, this English Tweed number drops to under $200 with the sale), but for some reason it's the one that stuck with me the most. Maybe it's because my feet are cold and these socks look so damn awesome:

Anonymous Ism Fair Isle Socks | J.Crew
The pattern is the perfect fix for my fair-isle addiction, and I would wear these with jeans or a grey flannel suit, no problem. These are running $13 after the sale, or, for a little more ($17 after sale), you can get this much warmer-looking but slightly less festive pair made by Scott-Nichol:

Scott-Nichol Woolsthorpse Socks | J.Crew

Club Monaco Hooded Parka:
This one comes courtesy of Valet's deal of the day (Valet is an awesome resource, I check it out daily). I actually just picked up a great Gloverall wool duffle coat from Gilt (see below), or I'd order this bad boy myself. Actually, if my size wasn't the only one sold out, I probably still would. Dammit.

Hooded Parka | Club Monaco
Club Monaco's outerwear tends to run out of my price range, but they have this hugely marked down and it's going for only $139. If you're looking for a practical, casual winter jacket that still pops with style, this will be a solid choice. While you're at it, Club Monaco is another good shop to check back in the clearance section every so often. I might just pick up this Ringer Henley, marked down to $29.00.

Ringer Henley | Club Monaco
Granted, a casual short-sleeve might be a little out of season, but come spring Henley shirts are a solid go-to, and the contrast collar/placket on this shirt make it stand out from your run-of-the-mill options.

Gloverall Duffle Coat via Gilt:
As mentioned before, I'm recommending this one based on personal experience. First off, I'm sometimes leary of flash sale sites because they tend to take forever to ship, but I ordered one of these from Gilt on Sunday and it arrived today. Not bad. It's not exactly cheap, but it's a huge discount on a $500+ coat at $290, and it's entirely worth it. From what I've read, Gloverall bought out the supply of the British Navy(?)'s duffle coats after WWII and sold them to the public. They were such a big hit that when they sold out, they started manufacturing more themselves and have been ever since.

Navy Duffle Coat | Gloverall via Gilt.com
I mentioned a good coat as a worthwhile investment piece and this is a perfect example. It fits great, looks incredibly sharp, and is so warm. I wore it on a walk with the dog in cold-as-all-get-out Chicago tonight and was warm...not just not cold, but warm. I haven't had a good coat in years, so I'm already loving this. I grabbed mine in navy, but they have a variety of colors, and a few other styles on sale as well.

Sir Jack's Smart Turnout Royal Air Force Watch Strap:
I never really checked out Sir Jack's before, but I was browsing their sale section today and spotted this watch strap. It's on sale for a reasonable $23, and I love the color choices. I have a nice-looking but inexpensive Timex that this would go great with.

Smart Turnout Royal Air Force Watch Strap | Sir Jack's

Navy is such a versatile color, my wardrobe is full of it, and the burgundy is a great color for the season. With the light blue, it's a classy wintery combination. The rest of the store is nice too, definitely worth a look.

Creature Comforts Bowser Bones via Barneys:
I gotta put these in because they are made right up the street from me and would make a perfect gift for any pet owner/lover (or your own pet). At $14 with free shipping they're easy on the wallet and are 100% natural.

Bowser Bones | Creature Comforts via Barneys
The classy package is the icing on the cake. I'm for sure ordering a few of these tonight!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Staying Sharp - A Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets Endorsement

It's been a busy week (I know, I know, what else is new?) so this will be a brief post, but it's perfect time for the holidays! Whether you want to look fresh and well groomed for your family visit or are looking for a great gift for a dapper dude, we've got you covered.

The side-part, or some variety of it, is pretty much the go-to haircut for a 'grown-up' man. It has been for ages, and probably always will be. We aren't going to go far down the road of how to get a great cut, or whether or not it really is the best cut to get, but we've found the key to keeping that side part on point.

Most guys these days are seriously trying to channel the Mad Men vibe, slicked back and impeccably combed, but even if you are trying something a bit looser, pomade is going to be your hair product of choice. The right pomade will inject your hair with that desirable shine while maintaining enough hold to keep your hair in place without turning it into a freakin' helmet. Unfortunately, most pomades will also leave your head and anything it touches (pillow, sheets, hands, face, you name it) sticky and greasy. Some of those bad boys even have black ink in them, and unless you're OCD-levels careful, you will ruin everything you own. Not so with Baxter of California's Soft Water Pomade.

It's a water-based pomade, with the same sleek shine, but minus the grease. Instead of sticking to everything and NEVER COMING OUT, water-based pomade is really pretty harmless, and washes out with a quick rinse. Boom. Pomade problems solved.

Plus, if you ask me, the level of hold is perfect...my hair is kind of thin and mid-length. Usually I struggle between pomades that stick my kinda-thin hair right to my head, or ones that can't handle the length and everything just falls in my face. Baxter's Soft Water Pomade keeps everything in place, but is light enough to let me comb a little lift into my 'do. 

Baxter of California | Soft Water Pomade - $18 via Barneys

You can find some other water-based pomades out there, and I have tried a few (LayRite in particular wasn't too shabby), but Baxter's is by far the best I've found. Grab some for yourself, or wrap up a jar to toss in some lucky fella's stocking.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Refreshing My Look

I've been wanting to do something new with my 'look' lately, and haven't really felt up for a new haircut or anything that bold. Instead, I went with a new pair of specs, which is pretty much the safest way to reboot your image, since you can just take them off. At the same time, a bold new pair of glasses will inject your style with a completely new edge.

Now, even with good vision insurance, new glasses tend to be pretty damn expensive. Fortunately, the trend that's taking over the apparel industry of cutting out the middle-man, taking everything in-house, and offering products at minimal markup costs has hit optics as well. Warby Parker has quick become one of my favorite eyewear designers, with classic 'bookish' styles as well as bold modern frames, and the best part is they manufacture and retail their products themselves. This lets them offer all of their frames (with prescription lenses included) at a steal of $95. 

You've all seen my glasses before, clocking in with a smaller, rectangular shape. I decided to grab two pairs, and tried to go for something that kept my aesthetic but added a fresh factor. For the first pair, I kept the same 'scale' for the frames...not much thicker, not much bigger on my face, but went for a rounder shape with the Preston frame.

Preston in Whiskey Tortoise | Warby Parker
I love the kind of 'professorial' look these frames lend, and I haven't had round frames in forever. Since the change of shape is a bit more up-front, I went with the subtler 'Whiskey Tortoise' color choice.

For the second pair, I kept the rectangular shape, but shook up the scale and went with something a bit bigger and bolder. The Beckett frames are slightly thicker than my own, but more noticeably are significantly taller.

Beckett in Striped Evergreen | Warby Parker
I think these are a great balance between a kind of vintage, Buddy Holly look and something more modern and up-to-date (especially with the 'Striped Evergreen' color choice).

My order went in yesterday, so they should be here soon! Check out the whole selection at Warby Parker, they have everything, acetate frames, metal frames, round, square, big, small, all at unbeatable prices. Fan-freakin-tastic customer service as well, which goes a long way for a Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets endorsement!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 12/6/2013

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 week's Deals and Steals:

Faribault Woolen Mills Scarves via Sierra Trading Post:
Now hot damn, this is a good deal. STP is one of those places that can be pretty shitty with just one look-through, but if you consistently browse through their constantly changing products, prices and discount codes, you can stumble across some fantastic finds. Like these scarves! Faribault Woolen Mills makes a variety of wool goods, with their throw blankets getting a lot of hype.

Awning Stripe Scarf | Faribault Woolen Mills
Personally, I think their line of scarves is a knockout (and would all make good gifts). Enough color and pattern to never be boring, but in classic and subtle presentations that will go with anything you're bundling yourself up in. The regular $55 price, while not astronomical, can be a turn-off, but STP has them down to just around $14, aaaaand I'm about to buy every single damn one. Get on this one, it probably won't last long.
Ed. Note: My friend Rachel Dunbar (the gal behind Style Steno) found code SFBTD12113 which drops these down to under $10. Thanks Rachel!!!

Bonobos Extra 25% Off Holiday Sale (code SPRUCEDUP):
Of course, there are a ton of good options here, so take some time and browse through. Bonobos does do sales every so often, so if you don't see something you like, come back later. Personally, there's plenty for me to like. I'm especially digging this brown cords, which (sale included) drop down to a mere $42 or so (plus free shipping, as always from Bonobos).

French Corders | Bonobos
The color is fantastic for the season. Plus, I've recently been turned into an avid fan of Bonobos Chinos, and if these fit as well as my chinos do, I'll never be unhappy with them. No experience with tops from Bonobos, but they seem to know what they are doing, so it could be worth checking out.

The Tie Bar via Nordstrom:
I shop The Tie Bar all the time. Sure, they aren't made by hand, or in America, and sure, some of the designs are a bit tacky. But they have a solid selection of 100% natural-fiber (read: no polyester) ties, all at $15. Add to that a slew of tie bars and clips, socks, scarves, shoelaces, cuff links, money clips, holy heck I can't even remember what else, and it's hard to resist. ANYWAY, point is, I stumble across some of their offerings at Nordstrom.

Winter Ties (my picks) | The Tie Bar via Nordstrom
Pricing is all comparable, if not exactly the same, so it may not seem like a big deal. BUT! First of all, lovely Nordstrom offers free shipping, so you can get these to your door without spending an extra dime. On top of that, I'm pretty sure some of the current offerings on Nordstrom are no longer available through The Tie Bar, so, boo ya.

So J.Crew and their Factory Outlet have been getting all sorts of creative with their codes these days. Right now, JCF is offering 50%-60% off EVERYTHING, plus an additional 15% off and free shipping with code 12DAYS. With all that stacking up, there's plenty worth shopping here.

Warmspun Colorblock Raglan Sweater | J.Crew Factory
This factory warmspun color-block sweater ($38 after discount) caught my eye and is now dangling in my cart...to buy or not to buy. I think the color-blocking definitely gives it a more casual edge, probably not appropriate under a suit or with a shirt and tie. For a casual piece, though, it's damn sharp (mmmm....burgundy....Homer Simpson noise...), and could give a huge boost to any other-wise lackluster weekend outfit. Plus it looks cozy, and the heat is off as I type this so...yup. 

Have yet to take a bite with this brand, but I've heard some good things and their stuff looks very stylish. It's all modern, but not as trendy, flashy or 'euro' as things from H&M or even ASOS. Right now their entire November Collection is heavily discounted. The selection isn't huge, but there are some solid picks, like this Slim-Fit Check Shirt down to $40 (I've been on the hunt for a over-sized plaid/check shirt myself):
Slim-Fit Check Shirt | H.E. By Mango
Also have had my eye on their outerwear. Most of it didn't make this sale, but for a casual but cozy look, I could see myself in one of these puffer jackets, down to $60:
Foldable Feather Down Coat | H.E. by Mango

So what are you waiting for, get shopping!!! And really, share any more good finds in the comments, I'd love to find MORE things to spend my money on!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

An In-Person Review of Proper Socks

Justin Schachner of Proper Socks reached out to me a little bit before Thanksgiving to share their Kickstarter campaign. After a few e-mails back and forth, he was kind enough to send me a pair of socks for an in-person review. After giving them a try, I'm ready to report:

The Brand:

First, some background from the brand: 

"Proper Socks is the brainchild of Midwest-native Justin Schachner. As a management consultant in Washington, DC, Justin practically lives in his dress shoes and his socks are his way of interjecting person style into his business dress. Unfortunately, spending 12+ hours in unsupportive footwear took a toll on his feet. One night after a 10 hour work day, Justin traded his thin dress socks for a pair of his high-performance running socks to sooth his feet. Instantly feeling the difference, Justin began his search for dress socks with the same technology. After weeks of searching department stores and the Internet, Justin came up empty handed. With that, Proper Socks was born."

It's become the classic genesis story of menswear start-ups today: unable to find the perfect product, resourceful entrepreneurs set out to make it themselves. And so far, Proper Socks seems to be doing quite well at it, with their early-bird $20 three-pack offering selling out in just hours. Lucky for you folks, other offerings are still available through their Kickstarter, starting at $29 for three. 

The Socks:
After a solid day wearing these bad boys, I'm pretty impressed. First off, the fabric itself is definitely an improvement from my pairs from stores like J.Crew, The Tie Bar or Gap. Where my other pairs are thin and often not very stretchy, these are soft, plush, and slightly but noticeably thicker than your standard dress sock.

However, these aren't a hefty winter sock, by any means. In fact, their ventilated toe box is designed to keep your feet fresh and un-swampy through the day. I can't say I noticed the ventilation itself, but my feet have definitely not been roasting all day, as tends to happen when I wear my thick wool or ragg cotton pairs.

Proper Socks kicks up the comfort level another notch by adding right-vs-left-specific arch support and targeted padding that provides extra cushioning specifically where your feet tend to take the most abuse. Again, I didn't necessarily feel the padding, but the arch support is definitely welcome, and after a full work day (and a lunch-break running around Chicago completing errands), I think I can safely say my feet feel somewhat less of the standard strain.

As far as style goes, Proper Socks currently offers three different 'lines': the Washington in dots; the Brooklyn in stripes, and the Chi-Town in solid/color-blocked. 

One of each 'line'.

The options are solid...stylish but subtle. Nothing crazy out-of-the-box, but there's definitely been much more attention paid to the aesthetics than your average performance socks. My pair is the pink/blue Brooklyn design, and I'm a big fan (I love stripes, I love blue, these will fit my wardrobe excellently).

My only complaint is that the sock seems a tad big on first wear, and there is only one size offered.

Honestly, the only reason I even noticed was the contrasting heel sits high, as you can see in the picture above. It's barely an issue at all, however, and I'm pretty sure a run through the dryer will fix it right up.

All in all, it's a bit hard to judge socks after just a wear or two (definitely can't say anything at this point regarding durability, which can be a big factor). That said, these socks definitely have the potential to be big winners in my book. On top of that, $29 for three pairs is a pretty darn reasonable price, even for socks that do a helluva lot less for your feet. 

The final Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets judgment: I say go for it! Good price, comfortable socks, and a couple of every-day folks trying to make a positive impact on men's feet everywhere. What's not to like?

Contribute to the Proper Socks Kickstarter campaign and score some socks for yourself here!

Do you have a product you'd like to see highlighted and reviewed here on Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets? Check out the submission guidelines here and shoot me an e-mail!

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 Proper Socks. While I love to be given products to review, don't worry, I will never endorse a product I wouldn't wear myself.