Wednesday, July 30, 2014

'Know Your Patterns' - Argyle

Here we are with yet another episode of our 'Know Your Patterns' series. Moving on to another slightly eccentric but no less classic menswear pattern, this week we are taking a look at 'Argyle.'

The argyle pattern is characterized by a diamond shape, occasionally solitaire, but usually in a repeating pattern. Often, argyle patterns will involve two such diamond motifs overlayed, such as one in a windowpane diamond, laid over an offset pattern of solid diamond shapes. For example, the pattern below incorporates a blue/white diamond ‘stencil’ over solid diamonds in blue, grey and white:

Another way that argyle can vary in complexity is in the colors used. The most basic argyle patterns can be made out of just two colors, or even gradients of black and white, while bolder and brighter fabrics can be made using a wide variety of colors in one piece.

As seems to have been the trend for both patterns and fabrics, Argyle is named after a region of Scotland, Argyll, where the tartan patterns of Clan Campbell were transformed into the argyle patterns we know today. After the emergence of the pattern, argyle knitwear became very popular through Europe and America during and after World War I, when the style was embraced by the fashionable Duke of Windsor and mass produced by Pringle of Scotland (who are credited with branding the signature pattern as their own).

Throughout it’s history, argyle has been mainly used for gentlemanly sports attire - namely the high socks and ‘jerseys’ worn by golfers in the early 1900’s. Those jerseys developed over time into the frumpy sweater vests that many of us associate with the pattern, but argyle is still widely used as a sock pattern, and can be a stylish choice for a gentleman looking to inject a bit of pattern without going so bold as stripes or dots.  

Here are some picks to inject some argyle into your life:

For the best bang-for-your-buck, it’s hard to beat Target’s Merona socks, offered here in a nice light blue argyle pattern. These puppies don’t even break $5 a pop, and I’ve had great luck with Target socks holding up and being very comfortable.

Merona Argyle Socks | Target

If you’d rather aim for something a bit more high-end, try finding a pair in luxe cashmere, like these cozy-looking puppies by Pantherella:

Cashmere Argyle Socks | Pantherella

We mentioned that argyle was also a common pattern for golf jerseys. These days, that has translated into polo shirts, and of course sweaters, like this one by Lands End (on sale, bonus). Would I wear it personally? Maybe not (just not my style), but the quality should be solid, the pattern is unobtrusive, and the lambswool will keep you toasty this winter. In all honesty, this could look pretty sharp, in a kinda professorial way, layered under a grey flannel or tweed blazer. Old man style, all the way.

Men's Lambswool Argyle Crewneck Sweater | Land's End

Now, we really don’t recommend wearing argyle pants, especially off the golf course (although even on the course they’ll tend to be more garish than classic). However, if the mood really strikes you, or you need to dress up a la Bagger Vance for a costume party, check out the selection at your closest costume store, because chances are no self-respecting menswear store will carry any - although you never know, these trends are hard to predict!

Alright, before we sign off, we gotta be forthright and let you know we’re starting to run out of patterns to cover! We have plenty of fabrics left to run through (and a few more patterns in mind), but would love to start taking requests for anything you might be interested in that we have neglected to explore thus far.

Here is a list of the patterns we’ve covered by now (see all the fabrics here):
...and a short list of the patterns we still have on deck:
  • Tartan Plaid
  • Foulard
...and that's about it, at this point! 

If you’d like to see something added to the list, share it in the comments, or shoot me an email at if you’re shy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Music Festival Style (Do's and Don'ts)

Here in Chicago, all the hype this week is in anticipation of Lollapalooza coming up this weekend. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the smaller fests (with better lineups, IMO) like Riot Fest in September, or Pitchfork a few weeks ago, but there’s no avoiding the hubbub that comes with the Windy City’s biggest annual fest. Appropriately, I’m turning my eyes to festival style, and we’ve got a quick guide to keeping you good-looking while you rock out with get the idea. 

The best thing about trying to stay stylish at a summer music fest? The competition is darn slim, if any, which makes it easy to pick just a few easy updates and come out looking sharper than your average bear. Below, we walk you through the transition from schlubby festival-goer to presentable young music enthusiast to sophisticated-gent-who-just-happens-to-be-enjoying-the-tunes. Avoid the first, aspire to the third, and be proud and satisfied if you land in the middle. 


           AVOID                             ACCEPT                                              ASPIRE
People tend to just go for comfort, with no regard to style, and fest footwear is the perfect example of this tendency. Thinking only of the heat, they opt for flip flops (or, thinking only of standing on their feet, go for some sort of running shoe or gym shoe). What a lot of guys don’t realize, is that you can be comfortable and stylish. White canvas sneakers give a laid-back, continental vibe that just gets better as they get beat up (which is never a bad quality to have at a music festival). The breathable fabric keeps your feet cool, while the sneaker sole will be comfortable. Of course, if you want to take things up a notch, you can rock some slick penny loafers and no-show socks, or camp mocs for something a bit (just a bit) more rugged. Just remember that there’s a decent chance you’ll walk through the mud, get your feet stepped on and scuffed, etc., so pick a leather that can take a bit of a beating and leave your luxury leathers and suede at home.


  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
I’m not sure where people get the idea that gym clothes or pajamas are appropriate clothing to wear in public, all day long, but they’re wrong. End of story. Not only do your mesh shorts make you look like a 12 year old carpooling home from soccer practice, but they are also actually very impractical, and make for a sure-fire way to lose your ID, cash, and keys along with your dignity. Just as we recommend chinos over sweatpants, here we suggest that you opt for some chino shorts to beat the heat but stay sharp and sophisticated. All the appropriate pockets are included, and a crisp, lightweight cotton will be cooler and more comfortable than nylon athletic shorts anyway. To up your style quotient like a true gentleman, linen trousers are the way to go - the fabric is cool and breezy enough to make you forget you aren’t wearing shorts. Press them sharp in the morning, and then embrace the wrinkles as the day goes on for the perfect air of gentlemanly nonchalance.  

  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
To be perfectly honest, if you’re nailing the shoes and bottoms, your shirt becomes way less important - but notice we didn’t say, ‘your shirt doesn’t matter at all.’ Sure, even a band Tee or tank top will look OK when worn with some chino shorts and white canvas sneaks, but we still don’t recommend it. Rocking a short sleeve OCBD takes just as little effort, keeps you just as cool and unencumbered as you dance your pants off, and yet remains a sharp enough option to wear right to the bar after the show and have no hesitation making moves on that pretty gal (or guy) making eyes at you from across the room. Now, if you’re taking our high-style route, a Tee won’t even come close to cutting it. The SS OCBD won’t fail you, but take the opportunity to be a bit more fashion-forward and grab a popover - find one with a sharp print to embrace two shirting trends at once. 


  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
Accessories are no time to start slacking off, either, although we do understand if you want to avoid bringing $100+ sunnies into an environment where there’s a pretty decent chance of them getting lost, stolen, or demolished. That said, those $5 ‘wayfarers’ you picked up at the convenience store on the way in - the ones with neon arms and mirrored lenses - have the power to negate every other style move you’ve made and leave you firmly planted in ‘obnoxious fist-pumping frat boy’ sartorial territory. If you want to stick with something inexpensive, the same stores that you go to for affordable takes on high fashion will treat you right - we’re talking H&M, Topman, Zara, etc. Stand out from the crown with some on-trend clear frames, or imitate the classics with a pair of vintage-y aviators. Now, if you actually trust yourself to take care of something a little more valuable, get the real deal - we’d go for a pair of Ray-Ban clubmasters to channel some off-duty Don Draper.

  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
Whether it’s to keep the sun and sweat out of your eyes, or to adopt a more outgoing, music-loving vibe, a lot of guys will end up throwing on a hat that they would never wear otherwise. Unfortunately, that ratty baseball cap is far from the most efficient instrument to protect your eyes, and that Backstreet Boys fedora makes you look less like a hipster troubador than you think (if that’s even a look worth aspiring to). Honestly, we think the best middle-ground here is to forgo the hat entirely. Shove a bandana in your back pocket to wipe away the sweat, and let your shades do the heavy lifting when it comes to blocking the sun, and a hat really isn’t necessary. You’ll have one less thing to keep track of, and lose one more chance of throwing off your much-improved festival ‘fit. Of course, though, if you’re looking for top-notch style, a real, grown-up hat can be the touch to tie the whole outfit together. Just don’t shy away from a substantial brim (an easy way to avoid that adolescent Justin Timberlake vibe), and be ready to throw down a few pesos for quality. 

The Outfits (In Full):
  AVOID                                  ACCEPT                                      ASPIRE
White Canvas Sneakers by Converse
Chino Shorts by J.Crew Factory
Short-Sleeved OCBD by Frank & Oak
Sunglasses by Topman

Penny Loafers by Jack Erwin
Linen Trousers by J.Crew
Print Popover by J.Crew
Sunglasses by Ray-Ban
Hat by Goorin Brothers

To Wrap It Up...
In the end, each style move is small on it’s own, but yields a pretty significant transformation. Instead of wearing a hodge-podge of marginally comfortable ---- you can, at the very least, look like a presentable, music-loving young man. Step things up a bit more, and you’ll look like you should be signing the bands, and not just blending in with the rest of the countless screaming fans. 

Got any plans to hit some music festivals this summer? What will you wear? Share in the comments!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 7/25/2014

Hot damn, when I first started writing this up I didn't think I was going to have much to share, but after a little digging I have a ton of great finds for y'all. First, our usual little 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!"
And here we go:
'Contemporary Collections' up to 90% off at Gilt:
Striped Cotton-Wool Pant | Gant by Michael Bastian via Gilt
When it comes to shirts, though, Gilt has you covered in another umbrella sale:
Button-Ups Under $50 at Gilt:
Solid Oxford Sport Shirt | Brooks Brothers Red Fleece via Gilt
If you're looking for something a bit brighter and bolder, Brooks Brothers has you covered there as well with a bunch of options in very seasonal, madras-esque colors. Of course, my favorites are the popovers, and I have my eye on this number, clocking in at just $35 (originally $70):
Plaid Popover Sport Shirt | Brooks Brothers Red Fleece via Gilt

No-Show Socks from PACT:
Campground Stripe No See Ums | PACT
Zig Zag Picnic Stripe No See Ums | PACT
Even if you aren't a big fan of the colors/patterns, I still say check them out - the whole point, after all, is that you can't see them, even in your low-cut loafers and boat shoes.
Up to 75% Off Online and In Stores at Gap:
Botanical Print Shirt | Gap
Next is a pair of skinny white jeans, which I actually just picked up a few weeks ago (see me in them on my Instagram here and here). Normally $70, this style is now just $46:
1969 Skinny Fit Jeans | Gap
Alright, last from Gap. I saw this field jacket pop up on From Squalor To Baller (one of my newer blog finds that I've been kinda hooked on):
Fatigue Jacket | Gap
Alright, it's getting late so I'm gonna wrap this puppy up. However, there's still plenty of sales, so here's a list of honorable mentions:
30% Off Bonobos Sale: Thank the folks at Dappered for this one, they managed to score an early code for Bonobos' upcoming discount. Link directs you to Dappered.

First up, Gilt is running a bunch of non-brand-specific sales with pretty extreme discounts. Brands are wide-ranging, especially if you check out some of the other 'collections.' My method was to pick a sale, and then narrow it down by picking out the brands I knew I liked. Whatever your method, I recommend applying some filters, otherwise there's just too much to see. Anyway, my favorites from this sale were mostly trousers from Gant (either Gant Rugger or Gant by Michael Bastian), like this pair in a very fine grey stripe:
I'm loving the cotton-wool blend on these bad boys - the 62% cotton will keep them light and cool, plus make care a bit easier, while the 38% wool will help them stay wrinkle-free and up the dressiness of the pair. Originally pretty damn pricey at $375, Gilt has these knocked all the way down to $79. Also catching my eye were these chinos with patch pockets ($49) and this rugby shirt with button-cuffs ($49), both from Gant as well. Other brands I checked out included Brooks Brothers, Ben Sherman, J.Press and more. 

Again, I filtered by brand to narrow things down. Of course, my favorite picks were the OCBD's, with solid options from Grayers, Gitman, and Brooks Brothers, like this option in classic solid white from BB's younger Red Fleece line:
Crisp, white, and slim-fitting - what more needs to be said? Oh, maybe that it's marked down from $70 to just $45. Sold.

Like I said, very summery colors, and I've been hooked on popovers since picking one up from Frank & Oak a few months ago. Normally, pretty hard to find at affordable prices, so this is a steal worth checking out.

Moving right along, the good folks at PACT have marked down a few sets of their no-show socks, which are my absolute favorites and a must-have for a stylish, sockless summer. I think they're affordable at full price ($15 for a three-pair set), but discounted to $9, they're too good to pass up. The two sets available on sale:

As usual, my go-to at gap is the lived-in slim khaki, but I've hyped that enough so I picked out a few other options. First is a bit outside the box, but very on-trend with the latest reemergence of Hawaiian floral shirts. If you ask me, the trick to not looking like your weir uncle on vacation is to keep it to one color and avoid the huge, big-petaled, stereotypical Hawaiian flowers. This short sleeve shirt hits all the right notes - I even checked it out in-store the other day, and was pretty impressed:
The big risk with shirting at Gap is that it can be hard to find slim enough cuts, but this is listed as a tailored fit, plus the casual nature means you won't be wearing it tucked in anyway, which gives you a little more leeway as well. Originally $45, you can pick this up for just $27. 

Now, I'll admit, I'm not positive this was the cut I got, so it might be worth stopping into a store to see if you need slim, skinny, etc., but they have a few different fits on sale so you should be good to go regardless. I think the white denim looks perfect paired with a dark blue chambray shirt and boat shoes - kinda nautical, preppy, and summery.

I've really been digging the military aesthetic lately, and the cut of this jacket is very classic M-65. At the same time, the navy color keeps it a bit out-of-the-ordinary, and for a guy like me who already rocks a ton of blue, will fit in very well with the rest of my wardrobe. At $70 (originally $98), it's very reasonably priced as well. 

40% Off Final Sale Items at J.Crew: Plus free shipping if you break $100. As we've mentioned, they keep freshening up the selection, so take another look.
50% Off at The Knottery: Haven't tested this one out myself, and I'm not sure how long it lasts, but supposedly code BURFDAY will get you half-off of these affordable, stylish and well-made ties.
Hugh and Crye Summer Sale: Damn, some really nice prices here. I have yet to try these guys out, but I hear awesome things, and this sale might be a great chance for a first buy. The question is, shirt or blazer? Shirts start at $39, and blazers at $149.
FRIDAY ONLY - Twitter Day at H&M: Never heard of this before, but apparently if you show a cashier that you follow H&M on Twitter, they'll give you 25% off. Not a big fan of H&M quality, but they have a lot of fashion-forward items and can be a cheap way to test out recent trends.

Picking up anything good this weekend? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Know Your Fabrics' - End-on-End

Still churning through our ‘Know Your Fabrics’ series, we’re back at it this week with a look at ‘End-on-End’, another very popular fabric used primarily in shirting.

End-on-end fabric (also called ‘fil-a-fil’ by the French - translates to ‘thread to thread’) is actually very similar to Poplin in that they are made using a one-to-one square weave, resulting in a nice smooth fabric. However, end-on-end gets a characteristic added visual depth by swapping out the horizontal threads with white, similar to the warp and weft threads in denim (although denim is produced in a twill weave).

The result is a shirt fabric that doesn’t appear as flat and even as a poplin or broadcloth, instead taking on a heathered, or even finely checked appearance up close. This adds some versatility as it makes the shirt easier to dress down (although still wholly acceptable as a formal dress shirt). These fabrics also tend to break in well over time, and can even achieve ‘fades’ like you see in denim as the white horizontal threads become more visible through the vertical colored threads.

The hand of the fabric remains very similar to poplin or broadcloth, as the close weave results in a lighter, smoother fabric, and thus it’s tendency to be used as a shirting fabric (rather than heavier fabrics that can be applied to trousers, outerwear, etc.).

End-on-end shirts are almost always woven with a single color (and the white threads), although sometimes textile producers will swap out the white threads for a second color, or will incorporate some stripes into the pattern (usually thin, white stripes).

Perhaps the most popular variation on end-on-end (at least in my wardrobe, and the modern menswear scene), is chambray, which differentiates from standard end-on-end only in the finishing process, which normally involves some type of ‘glazing’ or ‘calendaring’ to give it that characteristic hint of shine.

As we’ve mentioned, this fabric is almost exclusively used for shirting, although with the experimental nature of evolving fashion trends, I’m sure you can find it used in other applications somewhere. For now, though, we’re sticking to shirts, and have picked out a few of our favorites for anyone looking to add some end-on-end to their wardrobes:

First, about as classic as you get, here’s a solid number from Everlane. I’m a big fan of end-on-end shirts in these lighter, spring-timey colors like mint or this peachy red. I think the white threads help give a bit of a worn-and-washed look that keeps you out of ‘easter sunday’ outfit territory:
Slim Fit End-On-End in Red | Everlane
J.Crew also has some great end-on-end shirts in solid colors, and many are currently significantly marked down. 

We also mentioned that end-on-end shirts often incorporate a fine stripe, like this one from Brooks Brothers:
Blue End-on-End with White Stripe Sport Shirt | Brooks Brothers
You’ll find stripes in other colors, but we think just a subtle white one is the way to go:

While not as popular or widely available, you can occasionally find end-on-end shirts woven in other patterns as well, like this checked fabric available at Proper Cloth:

Thomas Mason Pink End on End Check | Proper Cloth
Because of the versatility inherent to an end-on-end fabric, we think it’s a great choice for a MTM shirt. Beyond the above, Proper Cloth currently has several other options in end-on-end fabric, in stripes, checks and solids.

Last, since we mentioned it’s very close relationship to plain old end-on-end, here’s one our recent favorites in chambray. It's not cheap by any means, but this popover from J.Crew is high on my wish-list:
Japanese Chambray Popover | J.Crew

Do you have any end-on-end fabrics in your wardrobe? Any favorite pieces? Share in the comments!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sale Spotlight - The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Nordstrom carries a lot of high end, crazy expensive items, but they can also be a great source of discount finds for the budget shopper - especially if you can hit up one of their three annual sales. Their Anniversary Sale launched on Friday (the morning after I wrote up the Deals and Steals for the week), and while it's actually vaguely underwhelming, there are still a number of good deals to be had, so I rounded up a few of my picks:

Probably the best/most items are in the footwear category, and it's one of the few opportunities to get a heavy discount on kicks from brands like Allen Edmond's and Sperry's. Speaking of, my first pick is the Allen Edmond's Park Avenue cap-toe oxford, clocking in at $243 from an original price of $345.
Park Avenue Oxford | Allen Edmond's via Nordstrom
Sure, not exactly cheap, but that's over $100 off the MSRP, and the Park Ave is a fantastic go-to dress shoe. It's easily formal enough to wear with a suit, but versatile enough to rock with some chinos, or maaaaybe jeans (although that's a bit of a stretch). The styling is classic, the shape is a perfect balance of sleek and round, and the AE recrafting program allows one pair of these to last a lifetime.

My second choice is another pair of go-to Allen Edmond's; the Strand (a wingtip brogue):
Strand Oxford | Allen Edmond's via Nordstrom
With the slightly higher starting price, and just a hair cheaper of a sale price, these are a bit better of a deal, and kinda the perfect mate for the Park Avenue's. The brogue details are great for those days where you want to break out of the box just a bit, while still remaining classy and work-appropriate (and these can be work with a nice pair of dark denim). Personally, I prefer these in the darker Bourbon color, but the Walnut is pretty highly coveted among the menswear crowds. It might be a bit less versatile, and is definitely a bit bolder, but as I mentioned, still wholly office friendly.

Changing brands, and heading towards the casual side of footwear, you can pick up Eastland's Stratton 1955 Penny Loafer for just $138 (originally $230):
Stratton 1955 Penny Loafer | Eastland Made in Maine via Nordstrom

Eastland falls in around the same range as G.H. Bass, Sperry's and Sebago, but this particular pair comes from their higher-end, 'Made in Maine' line (and we love when companies manufacture in the USA). The black pair, pictured above, is a bit more casual with contrast stitching and sole, while the burgundy option is a little shinier and a little dressier. Either will perfectly round out a classic prep outfit of chinos, OCBD and blazer (one of my all-time favorite combos). The tag is a bit goofy, but I'm guessing it wouldn't be too hard to remove, and then these are an undeniable winner.

Our last shoe recommendation is probably my favorite: Sperry Top-Sider Authentic Originals in classic brown for just $60 (regularly $90).
Authentic Original Boat Shoe | Sperry Top-Sider via Nordstrom
I think I got my pair during the MR PORTER sale last year for around $50, but beyond that, this is easily the best price I've seen for what has become probably my most-worn pair of shoes (just browse through my Instagram if you doubt me). Wear them with no-show loafer socks and these things are unbelievably comfortable, and are a big step up from sneakers for a more adult casual summer look.

Pants & Jeans:
After leaving the shoe section, the good deals are harder to find. We did manage to pick out a few pairs of pants, like these Dockers Alpha Chinos:
Alpha Fillmore Slim Fit Chinos | Dockers via Nordstrom
If you're a regular reader, or follow me on Instagram, you know that Dockers Alphas make up a good chunk of my personal chino selection - due to a perfect slim fit, a durable fabric and construction, and an unusually reasonable price. That price gets even more reasonable here, knocked down from $68 to $40 (and remember, free shipping, as always from Nordstrom). There are four colors to chose from, all of which are definitely viable picks, but these dark blue (but not quite navy) are my favorites (I've got a pair in my shopping cart right now).

The other solid find from the pantaloons department are these jeans from Naked & Famous:
Weird Guy Slim Fit Raw Jeans | Naked & Famous via Nordstrom
Another pick that certainly isn't cheap, but still a great deal, these are coming in at $103 (originally $155). I don't believe they are selvedge, but they regardless promise to be a solid pair of raw denim (Naked & Famous is pretty widely regarded as a go-to entry brand for high end denim). I have to dip my toes in the waters of said high end denim, but when I do, I'm relatively certain it'll be a pair of N&F, and I'll be lucky to find a deal like this.

Socks & Underwear:
Our last section of picks. First up is the Tommy John V-neck undershirt:
Cool Cotton V-Neck T-Shirt | Tommy John via Nordstrom
We did a whole write-up on picking the right undershirt for the job, and the Tommy John V-neck was a solid winner in my book. I was able to pick up the bargain (albeit slightly lower quality) version at a Nordstrom Rack, but this here is full-fledged top-notch version, regularly pretty expensive at $40 a pop, now much more reasonable at $26. Might still seem like a lot for an undershirt, but I think it's worth it - slim fitting and thin enough to be invisible under a dress shirt, long enough to stay tucked in, and made from a soft and stretchy pima cotton blend.

And finally, while it might be hot as heck now, you know colder months are never far away, so don't forget to consider some cozy steals like these SmartWool socks:

New Heathered Socks | SmartWool via Nordstrom
SmartWool is a lifesaver come winter (well, toe-saver at least), but can put a dent in your wallet at close to $20 a pair. These are knocked down to $13, and definitely worth stocking up on a few pairs while the sale is on. Check out the full SmartWool selection for other colors and styles, but I think the above pair in a solid navy are the most versatile.

And that's it for today, folks. By all means, browse the rest of the sale, and keep an eye out for further markdowns and/or added items - while we didn't see a whole lot else that excited us, you may find some hidden gems! Happy shopping.

As always, we'd love to hear about any steals you score in the comments below.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 7/18/2014

After a week off, I bet y'all are chomping at the bit for some awesome sales, right? Ha, well, regardless, here you go. First, the usual:

"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...:

Extra 40% Off Final Sale Styles at J.Crew (code SALEFUN): 
Wow, so it really seems like J.Crew has had some sort of discount (from 30% to 50%) off of their sale items pretty regularly for, what, months now? Anyway, we'll keep checking back in on them every so often, as they do change the selection pretty regularly. This week, we're pretty enamored with the prices on some of their more summery Ludlow suits. For example, they have this sharp chino suit in olive (pants here), a nice break from your standard khaki:

Ludlow Suit in Italian Chino | J.Crew
Now, they do have this in khaki too, if the olive is outside your comfort zone. That said, I think the olive color is fantastic. It's been highly touted across the menswear forums, blogs and magazines, and borrows colors from the military trend and applies them to sharp tailoring. These suits, like most Ludlows, are regularly too expensive for anything short of a planned investment, starting at $464, but with the discount off the sale prices, these will only set you back $255 (jacket and trousers together).

Another great option for these warmer months is this suit in a linen-cotton blend (pants here):

Ludlow Suit in Italian Linen-Cotton | J.Crew
The fabric, alongside a partial lining, is gonna make this bad boy a lifesaver if it ever gets swelteringly hot (surprisingly, Chicago has stayed pretty cool so far this summer). Only slightly more expensive than the chino suit above, these are running $264 (jacket and trousers together), and will be a sharp way to beat the heat.

As usual, we encourage you to peruse the rest of the sale, and keep your eyes open for days with free shipping, as J.Crew tends to pepper those in throughout the months.

Huckberry SalesBedford and Broome Accessories & Capital Eyewear Sunglasses:
Moving from suits to accessories, Huckberry has two really nice sales going on. The first is for neckwear and pocket squares from NYC-based Bedford and Broome. I actually first got turned onto these guys after seeing this picture on the Tie Society Instagram - it features some hella-sharp Everett ties, and it turns out that Everett is now Bedford and Broome. Anyway, I was excited to see them pop up here, and am really digging this red chambray tie.

Crosby Necktie | Bedford and Broome via Huckberry
I've talked about chambray enough for you folks to know how much I love it as a summery fabric. I already have a blue-grey chambray tie, and have been looking to add a red one to the mix, so I just might have to pick this one up. The discount knocks these down $5, which isn't a ton, but more than covers the shipping costs and leaves the ties running just under $30.

I've also been checking out the section from Capital Eyewear. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know by now that I've been on the hunt for some sharp sunglasses - specifically with clear frames, a trend I've been loving. Most of what I've found so far has been either not quite my style, or super expensive, and these are a fantastic middle ground:
Morgan Sunglasses | Capital Eyewear via Huckberry

Regularly $125, they are now just under $100 via Huckberry, which is much more affordable than the almost-$400 pair by Garrett Leight that I've been drooling over, but promises to be much more stylish and better quality than something I'll find for $20 at Topman.

Up to 70% Off (or more?) Sale Items at Reiss:
Last on the sale list is this huge discount being offered by Reiss. I personally don't have experience with the brand, but I've read a lot of good things about them. I've tended to be a bit turned off by their high shipping fees, but the prices on some of their high-end tailored suits and jackets are so ridiculously low right now that, even with those shipping costs included, you can't call them anything but a steal. First, this grey wool jacket caught my eye, especially at just $95, from a regular price of $465:

Hastings Soft Grey Wool Blazer | Reiss
Now, that crazy low price is way more than a 70% price-drop, hence the 'or more' above. Anyway, what I really like about this option, beside the price, is that it's only partially lined, which makes it much more versatile through the warmer spring and fall (and maybe even summer) months than most wool jackets. The color is versatile, the styling classic, what more could you want?

For something a bit more eye-catching, try this navy blazer with peak lapels in a cotton linen blend:

Silva Navy Peak Lapel Light Blazer | Reiss
Again, hugely discounted from an original price of $445 down to $140, you can't argue that it's a helluva deal. And again, it's just partially lined - but this time around the fabric is a lightweight blend that makes it even more seasonal. On top of that, I really like the slightly lighter shade of navy, and the peak lapel details are right up my alley.

Browse through the rest of the sale as well - Reiss has a lot of really nice products, usually too expensive, that are surprisingly affordable on the tail end of this sale (I especially like a lot of the knit products).

Alright, we're gonna cut it off after those three, but there are a good deal of other sales going on that are definitely worth taking a look at, so we rounded up a little list of honorable mentions:

Extra 50% Off Clearance Items at J.Crew Factory (code EXTRA50): They're calling this one the 'Clear the Clearance' sale - sizes are limited on a lot of things, but there are some crazy cheap products to be had in pretty much every category.

Extra 40% Off Sale Items at Levi's (code EXTRA40SALE): If you're like me and have Levi's as your go-to for jeans, this is a fantastic chance to get some nice 511's for just a little over $20. They've also got a nice selection of denim jackets as well as shirts, while I found the accessories section a bit disappointing (but I'll let that slide, because $20ish jeans).

Gant by Michael Bastian at Haute: One of my favorite, unaffordable designers, now at unusually affordable prices, thanks to a flash sale from the fellas at Haute. Personally, I'm especially digging some of the casual shirts, but it's all pretty sharp.

Chambray and White Denim at Gilt: I usually stick to the brand-specific features at flash-sale sites, rather than general categories, but damn if chambray and white denim don't look friggin awesome paired with each other. Lots of brands here, lots of good prices.

Aaand that's it for today! Happy shopping, and enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

'Know Your Patterns' - Paisley

For this week's edition of 'Know Your Patterns,' we are taking a quick divergence from your more basic and fundamental menswear patterns to look at something a bit more unique, if not any less classic: Paisley.

Paisley is an especially interesting pattern due to it's extensive history and widely varied application and use. Depending on where you're reading, the pattern dates as far back as Babylon circa 2200 BC or as recently as Persian and Indian cultures in the 200's AD. The pattern is defined by a characteristic twisted teardrop shape, the origin of which is widely speculated. Some think it to be a vague mixture of a floral pattern and the shape of a cypress leaf, while others link it more specifically to other natural shapes like a budding palm frond or a pine cone.

Through the ages, the pattern spread, gaining popularity in Europe as it was traded en masse by the East India Company in the 1600's, shortly after which it began to be produced locally in Marseilles, England, Holland, and other European countries.

In time, the town of Paisley, Scotland became a central producer and eventually the namesake of the design in Western cultures (more historically, the pattern was called Boteh Jegheh by the Persian cultures in which it originated).

Later, paisley was widely embraced by the hippie, 'flower child' culture that latched on to Indian and Middle Eastern aesthetics, especially following the Beatles famous pilgrimage to India in the late 1960's.

Throughout it's history, the paisley pattern has been applied to any number of goods, from fine woven textiles of silk embroidered with gold and silver threads, to printed twill, to ceramics and pottery, Persian rugs, even garden landscaping. Among the menswear circles, it's most commonly found on neckties and pocket squares, although folks with bolder tastes will mix it into shirting, trousers, and sport coats as well.

To some, any mention of the pattern brings to mind these bright, psychedelic applications and are associated with other cheesy 70's icons like shag carpet and bell-bottoms, although recently there has been some return to a more classic and subtle use of the pattern.

Still, even today, the pattern is designed in a wide variety of styles. My favorite tend to be the more minimalist applications, with just the characteristic 'leaf' on a plain background. Some of the busier designs can veer towards the garish side of style, and should probably be avoided, but you can find some ornate patterns that really recall the Persian  heritage behind the design and come off really sharply when used in moderation (as in, on a tie - not a full shirt or sport coat).

Below are a range of options to inject some paisley into your life:

First, we have the uber-budget option, turning (as usual) to the Tie Bar, which clocks in at just $15. First is an all-blue option that is subtle and an easy entry point that won’t be hard to style:

Relic Paisley in Navy Cotton | The Tie Bar - $15

I’m also kind of into this brighter green fabric, which is a bit more untraditional, but very summery and season-appropriate.
Tears of Paisley in Emerald Linen | The Tie Bar - $15

Slightly up the ladder, J. Press offers literally dozens of paisley ties in a wide variety of colors and scales. This one, in a simpler blue and yellow color scheme, is one of my favorites (and currently on sale, which is a bonus):
Foulard Paisley in Navy | J. Press - $41.70 (on sale)

If you want to try out a more ornate pattern, ‘Ancient Madder’ ties are intricate but in darker, dustier colors and usually in a twill weave, as opposed to something in bright colors on a shiny satin fabric, which I think tends to look more tacky. This option from Brooks Brothers isn’t cheap, but isn’t wildly expensive and is a fine, classy example:
Ancient Madder Large Paisley Print Tie in Navy | Brooks Brothers - $57.50 (on sale)

Of course, you can always go big and get a shirt or jacket with an all-over paisley print. In my opinion, this is much easier to do with casual gear, where bold prints won’t veer out of appropriate business-casual attire (or other more structured situations). This short-sleeve, lightweight shirt from Denim & Supply might be a good place to start (and at under $50, not a big financial risk).

Paisley Woven Shirt | Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren - $50 (on sale)

Do you have any paisley in your wardrobe? Getting funky with any big bold prints? Share in the comments!