Monday, December 29, 2014

MTailor Made-To-Measure Shirting Reviewed

Howdy folks! After a brief hiatus, we've taken advantage of some down-time from the daily grind to finally get this piece ready to publish. MTailor is one of the newer made-to-measure brands to hit the scene, and co-founder Miles got in touch with way back before I moved from Chicago to NYC to set us up for an in-person review. Here we go:

The Brand: As usual, we asked the brand to provide us with a little background. From Miles:

"At MTailor, we are bringing professional quality custom shirts into the modern era. We make it easy, convenient and fast while maintaining an amazing fit and quality shirts.

To do that, we measure you with your phone's camera using the latest in machine learning algorithms. We're 20% more accurate than a professional tailor. There's no tape measure involved (no need for a second person or second guessing yourself on all the measurements), and you're done in less than 5 minutes.

While we officially launched June 28, we've been working on MTailor since September 2012. Right now, we're just 2 people: Miles and Rafi. We spent over a year developing the core technology to make the measurement process easy and accurate. We then spent months testing over a dozen suppliers and shipping lots of beta shirts to customers, and we only launched once we and our customers were satisfied.

We really stand behind our shirts: if you dislike an MTailor shirt for any reason (not just fit), we'll remake it for free or issue a full refund, no questions asked."

The Ordering Process: This is probably the coolest feature of MTailor - or at least the feature with the highest coolness potential. Where other made-to-measure services require you to either measure yourself or a shirt you already own, MTailor uses a cellphone app to digitally scan your body type, requiring no actual measuring at all. Pretty damn snazzy, right? And the feature is really cool - it takes a few minutes to set up, and took me a few tries until I got myself framed properly in the camera (the process involves propping your phone to fit the image of your body inside an on-screen frame), but it was painless and actually kinda fun.

Now, all that said, there are a few things I wish were a little different - the largest of which being that MTailor is only available via app. As in, you can't browse the fabrics or customization options on your computer. I'd imagine there's an iPad version as well, which would be better, but as I just have an iPhone, I was limited to selecting a fabric off of my small phone screen. Not the worst thing in the world, but it would have been great to be able to check out some larger pictures. I'd also love to see a wider range of casual fabrics, although there is something to be said for simplicity as well!

To that point, I actually enjoyed the more limited variety of customizations that were offered - seemed to cover all the bases without overwhelming you with a million choices. In the end, I ended up choosing a dressier fabric in a blue and brown small-scale tattersall, with a widespread collar, one button cuff, the longer 'tucked' cut, and a slim fit. Though MTailor was kind enough to provide the shirt free of charge for this review, the final price would have been just $69 (their base rate), which is really quite reasonable (and affordable).

The Fabric and Construction: Starting off on a very good note, the fabric and construction are pretty entirely beyond reproach. As a matter of fact, I'd consider this one of the best fabrics I've gotten for a made-to-measure shirt. Even my Thomas Mason fabrics have come just a bit stiff and...shiny - but this shirt feels far softer and just more natural, as I'd expect a 'luxury fabric' to feel. The weight is perfect for a relatively year-round shirt. It's not flimsy by any means, but not a heavy robust flannel either.

As for construction, the bases are all hit - smooth stitching, clean button-holes, sturdy and well-attached buttons, removable collar stays and stitched (as opposed to fused) collar and cuffs.

The Fit: To be perfectly honest, when it came to fit, I was a bit disappointed when I first received the shirt. The MTailor app lauds itself as 20% more accurate than a professional tailor, and with promises like that, I expected a darn-close-to-perfect shirt on the first try. Things weren't horrible, by any means, but just not quite up to snuff. Thankfully, MTailor offers a complementary remake of your first shirt in order to nail your pattern.  This is pretty common with MTM shirtmakers, and I've actually come to kind of expect to have to tweak things throughout the first order - and for any other company, I wouldn't have been as upset. It's just that those promises made by the high-tech scanning system were so...promising! Ah well, not the end of the world, but just know their model has some kinks to be worked out.

Anyway, back to the specifics. Mainly, the cut was just a bit big throughout, with slightly long sleeves, and too low of armholes.

Just a bit too big throughout, and some funky draping.
The sleeves in particular were long and baggy.
Low armholes definitely contributed to the draping and general fit being off.

Now that we were past using the digital scanning, I decided to compare the shirt with another custom shirt of my own in order to give Miles the most precise directions for adjustments.

After sending him some measurements and talking things over, we settled on the following changes for the second time around:
  • Shoulders: -.5 inches
  • Sleeves: -.5 inches (-.75 inches net with shoulders)
  • Chest: -2 inches for full circumference (-1 inch when flat)
  • Waist: -2 inches for full circumference (-1 inch when flat)
  • Hips: -2 inches for full circumference (-1 inch when flat)
  • Biceps: -2.25 inches for full circumference
  • "We have edited how we calculate biceps and this is the new measurement we would make you. The shirt we sent you must have been way too big in the biceps! Shrinking this will tighten the armholes and the forearms."
The Fit (Part 2): And here's the good news, fit-wise! After a remake, the shirt fits almost perfectly. Nice and trim through the body and waist, sleeves falling at just the right length, and a comfortably snug collar and cuffs. Boom. 

Much trimmer, an a far better drape.
Sleeves hit right at the wrist without excess pooling fabric.

My only complaint is that the armholes are still just the slightest bit restricting - minor enough that I wouldn't complain for an OTR shirt, but a bit too noticeable for a custom shirt. Really, you can't even notice it with my hands at my sides - just when I raise my arms, the fabric pulls from the armpit across the chest.

Still some slight tightness across the chest.
The Customer Service: Gotta say, I was pretty blown away by just how attentive Miles was throughout the ordering process. I'm usually all over shipping tracking myself, but he saw that the shirt was scheduled to be delivered before I did, and shot me an e-mail to make sure delivery went smoothly. When my post office mixed things up, he stayed right on top of everything until the package was in my hands. Even more importantly, he seemed eager to hear my impressions and feedback, and legitimately interested in leaving me with a great shirt, rather than just making another buck. Two thumbs, way up. Beyond that, processing and shipping came in at just under 3 weeks (not exceptionally short, but also not exceptionally long), and all communication was quickly and promptly responded to by either a customer service agent, or more often Miles himself.

In Conclusion: All around, I'd say MTailor is definitely worth a try. The ordering process is admittedly cool, and if they can continue to work out kinks in their digital-fitting model, it could end up being one of the more convenient options available. Past ordering, the customer service and product quality leave these guys right up with some of the best shirts that I've had, and all with a price point that isn't too painful.

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

Updates - NOLA with Bonobos, 'Gift Guide', The Future, Effortless Gent, and More!

Wow, the past few weeks have been a crazy and exciting time at the new job with Bonobos. We've been gearing up for a big marketing shoot, and I jet off to New Orleans this week to help make it all go down. It's been an awesome experience, but has left me with very little time to tend to the blog! A few technical difficulties on top of that, and I'm a bit behind in my posting. Oops!

SO, although I don't have a full post ready to rock at this time, I figured I'd just drop in with some quick updates:
First on the list, we've never really jumped on the bandwagon of putting together a formal gift guide for y'all - and we still aren't really. BUT - we have added a 'Gifts' board to our always-growing Pinterest account. Anyone looking for some gifting inspiration should head over and take a look, there's some really nice things in there. Also, in the spirit of crowdsourcing, feel free to leave any gift suggestions in the comments, and if we dig em as much as you do, we'll ad them to the mix!

Also, always adding to our standard Pinterest boards, so click around, and maybe you'll spot something you like.

In other news, we hope you liked the article that Rickey wrote a few weeks back, as it sounds like he might become a regular contributor. Hopefully we'll be able to put up another post from him before the holidays, but if not, definitely keep an eye out in the new year.

On the subject of future posts, as we wrap up the year, I'd love to hear what you guys want to see coming from us. With more limited time, and therefore a more selective publishing schedule, I want to make sure we are putting out content that is helpful, entertaining, and informative for you! Sound off in the comments, or shoot me an e-mail. We do have a few things in the works, including some reviews that I'm excited about, as well as some more editorial pieces that we hope will spur some good discussions. Again, keep an eye out!

Last, just wanted to point you over to a new article on Effortless Gent - I've had the pleasure of working with Barron for just about a year now, and just helped him put together a follow-up to my previous review of Gagliardi sport coats. A few months ago, I got to check out one of their summer blazers, and they followed up with both of us this fall to style some of their more wintry products.

He and I each put together a look featuring a cozy wool blazer, and I think it turned out pretty awesome. Find the article here, and give a shout to Barron and I in the comments!

With that, I'm off to NOLA - I'll be doing my best to post some of the excitement on my personal Instagram, so follow along there!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Where To Shop This Black Friday

Easy answer: nowhere.

At least, nowhere in person. Black Friday is for crazy people, who don't give a damn about the workers who are forced to abandon their families on a holiday to stock the shelves, and really don't give a damn about the complete loss of dignity that is inherent to elbowing someone in the face just to grab that last big screen TV.

Instead, be a decent human bean and wait for Cyber Monday, at which point we give you free reign to shop 'til you drop from the comfort of your keyboard.

Meanwhile, enjoy some quality time with your friends, family, and loved ones. Maybe peruse some online Black Friday sales while you're at it (bonus: most companies these days aren't limiting their sales to just Black Friday itself, and instead offer week-long, or sometimes even month-long sales, just widening your shopping window).

To be honest, the pressure of both managing a budget and snagging all the great deals is a bit much for myself, so instead of going all-out, I just keep my eye on a few stores, and maybe have a few pieces in mind that I'd like to pick up.

This year, I'll be browsing the deals from Frank and Oak and Bonobos, keeping an eye out for some tasty sneakers from the likes of Adidas, New Balance and Nike, and hoping to find a nice pair of gloves from a department store like Nordstrom or Bloomingdales - but my priority is going to be quality time (and food) with my darling puggle and lovely girlfriend!

All that said, here's a list of some great online sales to check out over the next few days. I'll be doing my best to keep this updated, so check back for new additions, and let me know in the comments if I'm missing anything good!

2(X)IST: 30% off sitewide (Fri-Sun)
Alternative Apparel: 30% off $75 or more - code THANKFUL (through Sun)
American Eagle Outfitters: 40% off, free shipping (through Sun)
Bonobos: Up to 30% off (through Sun)
Brooks Brothers: 15% off sitewide (Fri & Sat)
Club Monaco: Up to 30% off (Fri-Mon)
Dockers: Up to 50% off (Thurs-Mon)
East Dane: Up to 25% off (through Mon)
Florsheim: 20% off sitewide - code TGIVING (through Fri)
Frank & Oak: Up to 50% off select items (through Sun) Get $25 credit when signing up with our referral link.
Gap: 50% off sitewide (Thurs-Fri)
Grayers: 25% off sitewide (through Mon)
Haberdash: 25% off sitewide (starting Fri, 8AM)
J.Crew: 30% off full-price styles, extra 40% off sale styles - code HOLIDAY (through Fri)
J.Crew Factory: 50% off sitewide, free shipping over $50 - code THANKS (through Sun)
Levi's: Up to 40% off (through Sun)
Mr. Porter: 30% off Fall/Winter items (through Mon)
NeedSupply: Extra 30% off sale items - code EXTRA30 (through Sun)
New Balance: 15% off sitewide, free shipping (Fri-Sun)
PACT: 40% off sitewide - code OHWHATFUN (through Mon)
Tie Society: $150 valued Holiday Pack for just $100


50% off sitewide, free shipping
Frank and Oak: Extra 25% off discounted sweaters and sweatshirts - code EXTRAGRAVY25
Hickoree's: 30% off sitewide - code BLACKFRIDAY (through Sun)
The Knottery: 25% off sitewide - code GOBBLE (through Mon)
Modern Tailor: Up to 45% off select fabrics - enter code BLACK7 in upper right corner to view savings (through 12/4)
Nordstrom: Up to 40% off select styles
Original Penguin: 40% off sitewide, code OPSITE40 (through Sun)
Zara: 30% off sitewide

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Go eat some Turkey!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Your Thanksgiving Cocktail

We're not ashamed at all to admit we're fans of alcohol - but not vodka-cranberries or Bud Light. No sirree, we stick to the classy stuff, as indicated by our previous posts on boozy Egg Nog and Old-Fashioned cocktails. This holiday, we're on to another classic (and delicious) winter beverage - the Hot Toddy.
Photo via Andrea Beaman
As you can guess from the name, this is a hot beverage, which is perfect for these cold temps that are hitting us in NYC just in time for Thanksgiving. Alongside good old hot cider with whiskey, a Hot Toddy is probably one of my favorite steamy drinks.

Half of the charm of a Hot Toddy lies in it's simplicity - at first glance, it's merely liquor and hot water. But, like many things menswear, it's the little touches that make the drink so comforting; the slight sweetness of the sugar cubes, the cinnamon that gives it such a comforting, spicy fragrance, the brightness lent by the lemons, even the traditional glass mugs that say cozy, but refined.

OK, I'll stop waxing poetic. Here's how you make one:


  • 2 sugar cubes
  • 4 lemons
  • 1 quart rye whiskey
  • 2 quarts water
  • cinnamon sticks

I like to follow the directions given by the folks at Esquire, who suggest starting off by rubbing the sugar cubes against the rinds of two of the lemons, infusing the sugar with the citrusy zest and oils. Next, squeeze the other two lemons and combine the juice with the 1 quart of whiskey (NOTE: big bonus here, you can substitute your favorite whiskey varietal, be it bourbon, scotch, etc., or opt for Jamaican rum or brandy for a sweeter flavor and a cocktail custom-made for your tastes). Combine this mixture with two quarts of boiling water. Serve in glass mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick and a clove-studded lemon slice if you're feeling fancy. Serve piping hot!

Obviously, this recipe is written for a large batch, perfect for a holiday get-together (don't try drinking this all on your lonesome). However, Esquire also kindly points out that you can make a single-serving: "Muddle a lemon-rubbed sugar cube in a double-shot of your favorite hooch, toss in a bit of broken-up cinnamon stick, and top off with boiling water to taste."

So have at it - don't drink too much - or do! After all, you hopefully have a few days off to nurse that hangover. Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Seeking Suede

Didn't have much time to put together anything lengthy this week, but wanted to take a quick look at one of my (recurring) obsessions: suede footwear. To me, suede is a kinda funky deal, in that it feels ridiculously seasonal during two opposite seasons: late spring and late fall. As spring starts to turn to summer, there's something about, say, a pair of off-white suede bucs that's perfect for the rising heat. Come fall, with winter right around the corner, the warm nap of a pair of chocolate suede chukkas is just as perfectly appropriate. And somehow, tan suede loafers fit the bill pretty much year round.

Anyway, the point is, I'm on the hunt for suede in a wide variety of footwear applications. Here's a roundup of some of my favorites right now:

Suede Sneakers:
Pennant Pack 574 | New Balance - $79.99
The most casual of the lot, I've been loving vintage-y running shoes. I have a few pairs without, but the pairs that do have suede are by far my favorite this season. I just picked up this pair of New Balance's the other week - not only is the style on point, at $80 it wasn't a bank-breaking buy.

Suede Loafers:

Unlined Penny Loafer in Snuff Suede | Alden - $512
Stepping up the formality a bit, but still very do-able as a casual shoe, I love a nice tan suede penny loafer. I don't yet have my own, but I know exactly what I want in a pair, and it's essentially a loafer version of these boots I picked up from Polo Ralph Lauren last year. The above pair is by Alden, and would definitely fit the bill, but I'd love to find something with a similar shape and color that didn't cost an arm and a leg. Any suggestions?

Suede Chukkas:
Men's Field Chukka | Brooks Brothers - $298
Just as versatile as a penny loafer, a chukka can be dressed up or dressed down as you will, especially with a sharper pick like this pair Brooks Brothers. While significantly more expensive than a similar pair of Clark's (almost $300 compared to $130), the sleeker profile makes these far more appropriate with dressy clothing and suits. At the same time, they remain just as easy to pull off with a sharp pair of denim. And that warm, hot-chocolate-brown is as good as it gets as the temps continue to dip.

Suede Bomber:
Balderton Bomber | Bonobos - $695
Of course, suede isn't only used in footwear. In my opinion, the best alternative application of suede has got to be a nice suede bomber. It takes a more sporty style and adds a level of elegance that is level, I guess! Of course, like any leather jacket, you won't find these puppies for cheap, but I'm a big fan of the jacket we offer at Bonobos - full disclosure, I do work there, but I'd recommend their iteration anyway! Keep your eye out for a promotion and you might be able to knock the price down to a bit more affordable point.

I'll end with a quick cautionary note: as perfect as suede feels for the fall, you've gotta be careful as we start encountering inclement weather. Personally, I think some suede looks fantastic all beaten up and worn out, but if you're trying to keep your suede fresh, snow and slush can be your worst enemy. Weatherproofing and diligent shoe care can help out immensely, but some days you'll just want to leave em at home.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 11/8/2014

Here we go with your regularly-scheduled Deals and Steals for this lovely fall weekend.

"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!"

And this week's deals are...

25% Off Select Fall Styles and 30% Off Clearance at J.Crew (code GETWARM):
J.Crew has been running a pretty constant extra discount off their clearance goods, but the selection is always shifting, and this week they've got some newer, fall-centric items getting knocked down as well. From the clearance section, I spotted these camp pants, and they're already in my shopping cart:

Camp Pant | J.Crew
First, the color is perfect for fall - an almost military green, but just a shade brighter to keep things from getting too dull. Second, I love the patch pockets...just another small detail that sets these apart from your everyday chinos. Last, the price is damn hard to beat, with these coming in at just $24 (normally $100). Jump on em, just don't buy the last pair in my size!

Shifting over to the fall items, my first pick is this cotton fishtail parka:
Cotton Fishtail Parka | J.Crew
It's not going to get you through winter, but will make a great mid-weight jacket for the next month or two. The fishtail style is pretty popular these days, and often hard to find at an affordable price, so it's nice to see it here for just $163.50 (regularly $218).

Another piece of outerwear that caught my eye was this M-65 jacket from J.Crew's Wallace and Barnes line:
Wallace & Barnes M-65 Jacket | J.Crew
I just reviewed the classic Alpha Industries M-65 earlier this week, with the main complaint that the cut was way too large. This version, while more expensive, is sure to be much more slim-fitting and true-to-size (as well as warmer, thanks to the wool lining). The navy color is a nice touch, and the price is knocked down to about $275 from $368.

Last, I'll probably pick up one of these slim lambswool sweaters:
Slim Lambswool Sweater | J.Crew
I've found that you normally have to choose between a slim but lightweight merino sweater, or a warm but boxy lambswool option. Here comes J.Crew to save the day with a combo of the two - slim-fitting, warm lambswool, all wrapped up in one package. Comes in a huge range of colors, at just $52.50 a piece (originally $70).

Weekly Promotions from Uniqlo:
My picks here aren't anything crazy or out of the box, but fit perfectly with my go-to fall style this year: button-down shirts under crew-neck sweaters or sweatshirts. First, Uniqlo's slim OCBD's are an affordable go-to for many budget-conscious fellas, and this week they've been tossed into the sale section:
Oxford Slim Fit Long Sleeve Shirt | Uniqlo
Regularly $30, you can now grab them for a mere $20. Personally, I'm looking at the more saturated colors, like the navy shown above - I think it's a nice seasonal change from the more washed out light blues, greys, and whites.

For the crew-neck, I'm thinking of picking up a grey number from their Pure Blue Japan project:

Pure Blue Japan Sweatshirt | Unqlo
Granted, it's not on sale, and it looks like a pretty standard option, nothing exciting. That said, $40 is far from expensive, and it's got all the details I want: raglan sleeves, off-color accent stitching, and a reinforced V at the neck.

Now, if you want something a bit more interesting (and conveniently, on sale), check out their artsy SPRZ collection. Lots of bold prints and patterns, but my choice is this fella:
SPRZ NY Graphic Sweat (Jean-Michel Basquiat) | Uniqlo
The Basquiat crown is a cool touch, but not too in-your-face or try-hard, and the military green is on-point for the season. Regularly $30, now insanely affordable at just $15.

20% Off Merino Sweaters at Bonobos (code PRIMOMERINO):
In all transparency, yes, I do now work for Bonobos, but if you've been following the blog or my Instagram for long, you'll know I've long been a fan of their merino sweaters. I usually pick one up whenever they land in the sale section, but this discount code sends some of their newer, full-priced options into affordable territory. This season, I'm particular to crew-necks, like this one in charcoal:
Yorkshire Merino Crew Neck | Bonobos
Super easy to match, incredibly soft and comfortable, and marked down to $78 from just under $100.

If you've got some extra bills and want something a little outside the box, try their 'Boston Waler':
Boston Waler | Bonobos
Where most merino sweaters are pretty lightweight, this pick is a bit chunkier. Plus, subtle details like the chest pocket and asymetrical collar will help your layering game stand out from the crown. Regularly $138, the discount puts these at just over $110 each.

Lots of picks to keep you warm as it keeps getting colder! Any other good fall-weather finds out there? Share in the comments, and happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Alpha Industries M-65 - An In-Person(ish) Review

Remember a few weeks back, we posted an article on the classic M-65 fatigue jacket? Alpha Industries was kind enough to send me a sample a few weeks back, and I've finally found the time to snap some pics and write up a post!
Fresh outta the box.
First impressions? This thing seems like a beast. As in, it's much heftier and rugged than I was expecting - in a good way. I mean, it is a military-based jacket, so it makes sense that it would be built to take a beating, I just found myself impressed right off the bat. It also seems like it would be pretty darn warm, especially if you opted to add the additional liner.

Comes ready to insulate with buttons for an optional quilted liner.
Now, notice that I said 'seems,' and you'll find the biggest downfall - fit. And it's not even that it fits terribly. It's just super, super large. Using the sizing chart (and sadly, not doing my own research on the web), I started out with a small in the slim fit (for the record, I normally fit well into a 36R blazer). When the jacket came in the mail, I was swimming in it. Probably could have fit a whole second 'me' in the jacket with me. Oops. Ok, time to swap out.

Second time around, I went with an extra-small, crossed my fingers, and hoped I'd be off to a better start. Unfortunately, while not quite so comically large, the extra-small is still much too large for my scrawny self.

Still might be able to fit another smallish human in this bad boy.
So! First lesson: these jackets run big. If you are anywhere near a small guy, you probably want to look elsewhere. If you aren't so tiny, just be sure to order at least one size down.

Second lesson: even sized appropriately, this is definitely not a 'fashion' coat, and is built for a military man to be able to move and operate comfortably. Most significantly, that means very wide sleeves, as well as a less fitted cut throughout the body.
Though the picture doesn't do it justice, you can get an idea of the width through the sleeves.
That said, some tailoring can make these look pretty damn sharp. Check out this entry by The Nordic Fit for some more information on your alterations options.

Now, after all that, I don't want this review to come off entirely negative by any means. Besides the aforementioned durability and warmth, there's still a lot to be admired. Since I haven't gotten to wear the jacket out, I can't comment too much on comfort or break-in, but I did put together a little list of attributes I dig, as I sit here wishing I could grow a few sizes overnight:

Removable Hood: For some reason, I expected this to roll up bulkily in the collar, but instead, the collar pouch extends into the back, and the hood becomes almost unnoticeable when stashed away. Maybe this is par for the course for a jacket of this type, but I'm a newb to the style and I'm impressed.

Durability: Yep, I know I've said that like, twice already, but it really is a huge part of the appeal - for just $150 you're getting a jacket that will withstand the test of time. And even as it does start to break in, it's just going to look better and better, and likely become more and more comfortable in the process.

Pockets Pockets Pockets! 
So many pockets, but well placed - you could find places to store half of your worldly belongings, but it doesn't look like a walking duffle-bag. 

So, not a real in-person review, but hopefully there's some useful information here. If any of you have had the pleasure of rocking an AI M-65 of your own, and would like to give your review, I'd love to hear it and maybe share it with the crowd!

Also, the PR folks who hooked me up with the AI connection are working with me to look into an alternative that will fit better for a more thorough review, so keep your eyes open. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - Unionmade Archive Edition

Howdy folks! Happy to be back with a new Deals and Steals after a few weekends without. That said, we're doing something a little bit different this time, and just focusing on one retailer (largely because their sale is so damn awesome).

Unionmade, one of the finest menswear stores in America (especially if you are in the market for high-ish end work-wear leaning duds), appears to have opened a special sale site for four days only, called 'The Archive.' And those sale prices? Up to 90% off. And we aren't talking lame, or even vageuly lame brands, but highly sought after names like Levi's Vintage Clothing or Gitman Vintage. So you can score some damn nice stuff for as little as a mere 1/10 of the regular price.

Below, we rounded up some of our favorites - now, the stock is rotating, things are selling out, and things are being added, so a) I apologize if any of my picks are sold out, but b) it's definitely worth taking a look through on your own (maybe even more than once) to make sure you don't miss any late additions.

Anyway, my picks (by brand):

New Balance:
Since starting my new job, I've been dressing mostly casual, which is a big change from my prior wardrobe. One of the biggest aspects that has me struggling is footwear, as I just don't have that many casual shoes. Therefore, I've been on the hunt for a variety of nice sneakers, and a pair from New Balance is high on my wishlist. Of the pairs currently available at Unionmade, these are my favorite:

US576ND1 Sneakers | New Balance via Unionmade
Honestly, I've just been a big fan of the black/white look lately (maybe throw some grey in the mix), so these are right up my alley. Regularly $140, these are going for $40, which I can safely say is the cheapest I have ever seen New Balance shoes run.

Gitman Vintage:
Tons of stuff here from the revered shirt makers (and obviously, most of the best picks are shirts (although I did see a tie in the mix as well). My pick here is this vintage madras:

1979 Vintage Madras | Gitman Vintage via Unionmade
Again, a huge discount as these regularly run $145, but are selling for just $45. Sure, madras is more of a spring/summer fabric, but it never hurts to stock up a season ahead!

Levi's Vintage Clothing:
One of Levi's higher-end lines, this stuff, obviously, has a vintage tinge to it (which I'm all about). You could go wild with a crazy-bold shirt like this, but my personal pick is a bit more muted:

White Bay 518's | Levi's Vintage Clothing via Unionmade
Perfect for someone who likes the idea of white denim, but doesn't want to commit to something so bright and stain-able. Regularly almost $200, but now just $45.

Gant Rugger:
A preppy favorite, I'm a big fan of all of the Gant lines, including Rugger. I'd love to take this chance to pick up one of their highly praised shirts, like this popover:

Twill Check Pullover | Gant Rugger via Unionmade
Depending on how heavy this ends up being, you could either rock this around the holidays for a bright, festive look, or throw it on with a pair of off-white jeans (like the ones above) in the spring or summer for something a bit more saturated that your standard warm-weather pastels. And at just $35 (down from $135), it won't break the bank.

We'll end on this one, which may be my favorite pick. I'm a huge proponent of layering vests in the winter - it's an easy way to make even a blazer into a cozy piece of outerwear (I did two winters in Chicago with no winter coat, just blazers and quilted vests). This may well be my next buy:

Mist Liner Vest | Filson via Unionmade
Filson has a stellar rep for outerwear, and this vest has the bonus of looking great by itself for the transition weather before it gets real cold. This one starts at $185, but is going for only $35.

And that's a wrap - happy shopping!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bean Boots - A Ringing Endorsement

I had the great pleasure of heading to friend's very remote (but very comfortably furnished) cabin in the Poconos in PA. I grew up camping all the time, but haven't really gotten away from city life for years, so I wildly enjoyed being out in nature. Admittedly, we spent most of our time hanging around the cabin, playing with the dogs and drinking, but my girlfriend and I did get away for a few walks in the woods. When I took the pup along the stream and let him play in the water, I remembered just how damn much I love my L.L. Bean Boots, hence this enthusiastic endorsement and post:

So what's so great about Bean boots? Sure, I personally love the style that just oozes classic North-Eastern prep, but it really just comes down to how indestructible they are.

I love rocking nice shoes - Allen Edmond's brogues, suede Ralph Lauren boots, sharp leather sneakers, the like. But I'm always so worried that I'm going to scrape or scuff them, or ruin the suede when it unexpectedly rains, or that I'm even just going to come home with cold, wet feet.

With Bean boots, I just walk through whatever is in front of me, not a care in the world. They are waterproof to an extreme, even up through the leather upper. They are tough as nails and hold up against pretty much any hazard you'll encounter, in the woods or the city. And still, comfortable, relatively lightweight, and better and better as they age.

Anyway, I'm 100% sure my afternoon wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable without these bad boys on my feet, so here's a ringing endorsement for all things Bean boots (they have a number of variations, all pretty equally awesome) from Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets.

A Few Logistical Notes:
As mentioned above, there are several variations available. I personally have the 6 inch, unlined option:

Men's 6" Bean Boots | L.L. Bean - $99.00
While insulated boots (like these, or even these) will be warmer through the winter, I've found that the right socks make mine just as warm, and I can still wear them through the rest of the year in wet conditions. You can opt for a different height as well, but just know that taller boots will be harder/more time consuming to put on. Last, these run pretty damn large - I took a full size down and can still fit them with pretty heavy socks, but they aren't falling off when I wear something thinner when it's not so cold. At the very least, read the sizing guidelines carefully. And don't be afraid to take advantage of their free shipping to find the perfect fit!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Classy in College: Tips for Breaking the College Kid Stereotype

Things have been crazy over here, hence the slow output. As I've been working on figuring out how Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets is going to settle out after the move and the new job, I was thrilled to get an e-mail from Rickey Jones of 'The Mod Prep' expressing interest in putting together a guest article for y'all. We chatted a bit, and I think he's got some great insights - especially for the younger, college-bound crowd - so Rickey's going to walk us through his best tips for undergrad style:

So, the number one stereotype I have seen in college so far is, LAZY FASHION! When we graduate from high school and start college, everyone says, "I'm going to wear sweatpants and t-shirts everyday!" - and the sad thing about that is, many students actually do it!

Acceptable college style? We say no! (Photo via MPR News)
I am sick of it, I couldn't imagine waking up everyday thinking, "Hmm, which color sweats are we going to wear today, Rickey?" Then again, I do care about fashion, and the way I look everyday. 

I've done my research, and it shows that many students don't dress well in college, because they aren't serious about their education. My whole thing is, WE PAY TO GO HERE, so why are you not taking your education seriously? With all that in mind, I'm going to share some tips as to how to be Classy in College with your dress!
  • Get Good Rest: I know this is hard in college, but it is very important! Receiving enough rest during the night almost guarantees you a better day, because you are well rested, and you have a clear focus on the day. Also, getting good rest will help you be more prompt, and help you be more alert and more aware of your outfit decisions.
  • Look for Student Discounts: They are everywhere! Banana Republic gives 15% off of regularly priced items with a student I.D., trust me, I've used it numerous times! Not only do you end up paying less than retail price, but you can keep your closet CURRENT with new trends and pieces.
  • Post an #OOTD: If you don't know what #OOTD stands for, it means Outfit of the Day. I love it because it keeps me on my toes as to what I have and haven't worn in my closet, and let's my showcase my style everyday! I have started a account, so that you guys can keep up with what I wear on a daily basis, that way you can get some style ideas as well. (Editors Note: I love this idea as a way to challenge yourself - if you don't have the confidence yet to publish your looks online, keep them to yourself for now. If you're ready to step out and show off, feel free to use the platform of your choice - Rickey digs LookBook, I personally rock Instagram on an (almost) daily basis. Reddit's Male Fashion Advice is also a great place to share - but don't let the haters get you down.) 
  • Surround Yourself with Successful People: Let's face it, the most successful people in this world have a very keen eye for fashion, whether they express it or not. Steve Jobs had a signature style with a black turtleneck, light-washed jeans, grey New Balance Shoes, and round-framed glasses. While this memorable outfit was not always 'en vogue', it was what Mr. Jobs was known for, and he was a very successful man. My own mentor, Dr. Anthony Robinson, is ALWAYS dressed to the 9-10-11, he is a very successful man, who cares about what he wears, and how he looks, especially since he makes multiple trips to the gym everyday. Similarly, I would like to say that I have had a substantial amount of teenage success, and have developed my own signature style of preppy layers! 
Dressing well isn't just about looking good, it's about feeling good, and knowing that you have confidence to do anything you set your mind to. I have an elevated level of confidence, because I know that when people see me, they see a professional young man who is on the move - I want that to be you, too!

A little more about Rickey (in his own words): "My name is Rickey Jones! I am a 2nd Year Marketing Student at Georgia Regents University. I started writing on my blog, The Mod Prep in 2013. My obsession for style has stemmed back from as long as I can remember. My grandmother is a professional seamstress, and she was the one who taught me how to sew! My ultimate goal is to create my own international brand.  I love fashion, home decor and all things fun." 

That's all folks - sorry, no 'Deals and Steals' this week...traveling to the Poconos in PA tomorrow for a gloriously tech-free weekend in the woods. I'll be back next week!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (Starting With Instagram)

More to come soon, but there will be some big changes coming to Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets. Today was my first official day at the new job (as an assistant stylist with the photography team at Bonobos - more on that later as well), though I've been freelancing with them for a few weeks now. This transition is effing exciting and I've been loving the job, but am quickly realizing that I will have to readjust my approach to the blog. Part of that new approach means starting to wean my social media presence away from blog territory and back to personal territory, so for now, @WideEyesTWBlog becomes @ADumbLameMan (obviously, a play on my name, and obviously, originating from some playful childhood ribbing).

No biggie, just wanted to alert you all to the change, in case you were wondering!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Last-Minute Columbus Day Sales

Gah, so I know I missed out on last week's Deals and Steals post (had some good friends visiting and waaaay too many social obligations on my plate - not complaining!), so I'm dropping some real quick sales on y'all today.

The catch is, these sales all end tonight, so get shopping!
Editors Note - Hoooopefully some of these will get extended, but still, don't hesitate and miss out.

Extra 25% Off Sale Items at NeedSupply (code PICKYOURHEROES):
NeedSupply has an awesome mixture of urban, tailored, and more rugged gear. My big pick here is a pair of the Zanerobe Sureshot Joggers, regularly $99, now $69.50:

Sureshot Chino in Black | Zanerobe via NeedSupply
Been big on joggers lately, and these from Zanerobe are probably one of my favorite pairs - I'm a bigger fan of the khaki color, but would definitely rock these (especially at that low price).

Nothing is cheap at Steven Alan, but it's pretty much all awesome. Even just a 20% discount is much more than you'll find on a lot of these brands, so if you're looking to make a splurge buy, this might be the time. For example, this Barbour waxed cotton jacket gets a $80 drop from $400 to $320:

Ashby Waxed Cotton Jacket | Barbour via Steven Alan
Like I said, still not cheap, but makes a splurge-worthy purchase just a bit less of an investment (and will be a perfect jacket for upcoming fall and winter weather).

Tons of stuff up in this sale, including some great suiting steals, but my first choice would be this dobby oxford shirt, marked down to just $30 (regularly $80):

Slim Fit Dobby Oxford Shirt | Club Monaco
Love the dobby details that take this a step above an everyday blue OCBD, and that price is unbeatable. Also, check out the rest of the (non-clearance) sale section, which is still up for a 30% discount with the same FALLSALE code.

If you're like me and love American prep style and classic penny loafers, you'll be just as eager to jump on this chance for some discounted Weejuns, like these in a more casual, matte dark brown:
Wilton Weejuns | G.H. Bass
Regularly $108, the discount drops these down to just over $75. You can also find some more formal styles in a sleeker, shinier leather, as well as the American-made Fenmore loafer.

Closing out with a three-way doozy from J.Crew. These sales are getting pretty common, but that extra kicker of free shipping might be hard to pass up. I love J.Crew's cozy sweaters, and might use this chance to grab something like this luxe lambswool cardigan:
Lambswool Three-Pocket Cardigan | J.Crew
Sure, even at $103 shipped (down from $148), it ain't cheap, but boy oh boy do I wanna cozy up in this puppy. If over a hundo is rich for your blood, there are plenty of more affordable options as well.

OK, in the interest of getting this post up before it's too late to enjoy these sales, I'll call it quits with that one. Here's a quick roundup of the sales I didn't get to cover in depth:
Happy shopping!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Outfit Post: The Building Blocks

It’s been a while since I’ve thrown up an outfit post, and even longer since I’ve featured a more dressed-up look, so I figured it was about time. However, I’m taking a slightly different approach this time, as I was hoping to focus on and share my usual method for building an outfit.

A lot of guys (including myself, at one point), get to a point where they have the sartorial education/know-how to put together a strong wardrobe of well-fitting, stylish pieces, but struggle to put them together into a coherent outfit. One of the most common questions I see is “where do I start?” With that in mind, here’s how I do it.

I try to start every outfit with one piece. This may be a new article of clothing that I’m really excited to wear or an old one that I’ve been meaning to work back into my rotation. It may be a bold, statement piece, or a neutral base. It might be as front-and-center as a blazer, or as behind-the-scenes as a pair of socks or pocket square. The point is, this piece acts as the foundation for the rest of the building blocks that will come together to form my outfit.

For this look, I started with my blue and off-white plaid blazer from Gagliardi. It’s one of my favorite pieces, from the fit to the construction to the style, but I wear it far less than I would like, simply because the bold pattern makes it trickier to match (and a little less office-friendly). This weekend, I dressed up my off-duty look a bit more than I have been this summer, and decided it would be a good chance to have the freedom to rock this bad boy. So boom, foundation piece and starting point:

From there, every decision comes back to this one piece. You could go any direction, but I went to pants next. While I didn’t have the restrictions of an office dress code to work with, the blazer is still pretty in-your-face, as far as style goes. Therefore, I decided right away to tone down the rest of my pieces. I also wanted to dress down the tailored look a bit, since it was still the weekend. Thus, for pants, the easy choice was a pair of dark blue jeans: a subtle and neutral pair of pants that were casual enough for the occasion but sharp enough for the combination, and in a blue that will play well with the colors in the jacket:

When it came to the shirt, the patterned blazer immediately dictated a solid shirt (or at the very least a very subtle pattern). Beyond that, I took the same mindset as I did with my pants, and picked what I consider to be the shirt equivalent of a pair of crisp blue jeans: a white OCBD. Again, weekend-casual, but fitting to wear with a tailored blazer. Where I played off the darker colors in the blazer when picking the jeans, this time around I brought out the lighter contrasting notes and picked a white shirt over blue:

From there, I just kept up those same themes as I picked out accessories and final touches. A knit cotton tie, a chambray pocket square, a brown belt and blue suede brogues with no-show socks. Each seems like (and is) a pretty straightforward choice, but if you look at the path that took me to each piece, it always starts with the blazer.

Of course, there are numerous other techniques and considerations to take into account: color-matching, pattern-matching, balance, seasonality, the list goes on and on (and some are mentioned throughout this article). However, starting with a foundation piece as we suggest here gives you the palette upon which you apply all of those other principles. It’s in no way the only factor in the equation, but it’s a strong and simple place to start.

Outfit Details: