Monday, August 25, 2014

A Big Update (And A Sharp Product Shout-Out)

Well, I had fully planned on having a brand spankin’ new outfit post published today, but the weather has not been cooperating with my shooting schedule. After a day of rain, we had to put a pin in this one, so I’m just going to share some excited WETW news instead!

You may have seen me mention pretty frequently over the past few weeks all of the traveling I’ve been doing, along with some teases of ‘big changes to come.’ This week, all that traveling is going to finally play out into those big changes:

Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets is moving to New York!

Thus far, this blog has been a side project as I pursue a career transition from Legal Support (which has…) into a full-time career in the men’s apparel industry. Earlier this month, I had some awesome opportunities come up that really hammered home the notion that Chicago isn’t the place to jumpstart a fashion-centered career. I love the city to death, but in order to be more ‘in the middle of it all’ we are finally uprooting ourselves and making the move back East.

Farewell, Chicago!!
I’m incredibly excited - not just to be closer to family and friends and my old stomping grounds (born and raised in central PA), but even more so to be in the midst of the NYC fashion scene and on deck for some great career moves. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Big Apple, but have yet to really get a chance to explore all it offers to the menswear world.

Anyway, two points to close with: First, is that (as with all moves), we are so busy and so stressed getting all our cards in place, so please forgive any irregularity in posting, etc., as we get settled into our new digs!

Second, I know a bunch of you readers, bloggers, industry pros, ‘influencers,’ and on and on are also NYC folks - if anyone has tips for moving, ‘must-see’ events and shops, meetups, interest in meetups, exciting opportunities, heck, just something to chat about, hit me up!

And just to keep things menswear related - how about this awesome new Sullivan line from Jack Erwin? 

Up until now, all their kicks (I believe) have been Blake welted, which is a bit sleeker but not as easy to resole and less waterproof. This new collection is all Goodyear welted (GYW), which is the opposite (a bit chunkier/more solid, and waterproof), and is my preferred welt (so, score for me)! 

Previously, brands like Beckett Simonon and JUSTAMENSHOE offered some other affordable GYW shoes, but got very mixed reviews when it came to construction and leather quality. I’m pumped to get the GYW and the quality/style that Jack Erwin is known for, all in one package (and a ~$200 package, at that), and I definitely have my eye on a pair for this fall. 

My only debate now, is do I grab some longwing bluchers... 
The Hubert Longwing Blucher | Jack Erwin
...which I’ll be able to wear pretty much year-round...

...or do I finally pick up that pair of dress boots...
Carter Wingtip Combat Boots | Jack Erwin

...that I’ve been dying to own? 

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 8/22/2014

Man, it feels like it's been forever since we had a proper Deals and Steals post up! Been so. Damn. Busy. It's exhausting, but big moves in the works - I'll keep y'all posted! Meanwhile, here we go:

"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!"

This week, I honestly couldn't find that many sales - not sure if maybe brands are holding back in preparation to release some big Labor Day sales next weekend, but pickin's were a tad slim. However, what I did find is pretty damn good:

Extra 40% Off Final Sale Items at Bonobos (code BONVOYAGE):
Right off the bat, this is a crazy good sale, so we're going to keep our focus here for more than the standard two (or so) picks. Granted, the 'final sale' aspect is a bit of a bummer, especially since I love the Bonobos return policy so much. That said, if you know your sizes and your tastes, you can get some awesome deals. First pick in my book is some all-white seersucker:

Sea Island Seersucker Shirt | Bonobos
I'm all for the traditional blue and white striped seersucker, but getting a solid, crisp white seersucker shirt has an extra sharp edge to it, and will dress up much nicer. Also available in a navy blue (or that aforementioned standard stripe), all three styles are running just $28.80 after the discount (regularly $88). Dayum. 

Since it can be hard to stay sharp and tailored in the heat, here's another hot-weather pick that will easily take the place of your sharpest dress shirt:
Irish Linen Shirt | Bonobos
Linen can be tough to find in slim-fits, or in a tie-worthy spread collar, so this is a double-bonus in my book. A bit more expensive than the seersucker, but still very affordable at just around $41 (regularly $98). 

Sticking with summer picks, check out this Tee in a bright and sunny multi-color stripe:
Yarn Spun Tee | Bonobos

I picked up a few Bonobos Tees in another recent sale and was pretty impressed. Lightweight enough to be cool, but solid enough to feel well-constructed, and cut in a nice, flattering (but not tight) fit, and marked down from $38 to $15.

Moving on to pants (which is really what Bonobos is known for, after all), I had to throw in these olive chinos:
Palmetto Washed Chinos | Bonobos
At a discounted price of just $40.80 (from $88), there are actually some cheaper chinos to be found. However, most of those are brighter, less versatile colors, and I can't tell you how many people I've heard looking for some nice olive chinos. It's the perfect color, easily bridging both summer and fall styles. These also might be the first pants I've seen in the sale section cut in the 'Slim Tailored' fit (as opposed to 'Slim Straight'), which I hear is pretty close to J.Crew's 484 (and very flattering, as well). 

Ok, ok, I'll wrap it up with one more pick. Last on my list is a pair of Oxley's - quite possibly the most comfortable pants in the (affordable) world:
Oxleys | Bonobos
I have a pair in light blue that I love, but for my second-go-around I'd probably pick up some in white. The lightweight oxford-cloth fabric is inherently limited to warm-weather wear anyway, and I've recently gotten hooked on white trousers. If you prefer a different color, they have a pretty wide selection, all marked down from $98 to a mere $35.

Alright, check out the rest of the sale section, and if you plan to spend more than $75, use our referral link to score an extra $25 off.

Extra 20% Off Final Sale Items at York Street by J.Press (code ENJOYSUMMER):
Looks like an end of summer sale? Something along those lines. Anyway, a lot of already heavily discounted duds getting marked down even more. Normally, I love J.Press (and York Street) for their classically preppy attire, but the standouts to me this time are some decidedly vintage-y pieces. First up is this 'boating' henley:
Henley Boating Tee | York Street
I love the rounded edges on the collar, the sharp contrast with the blue piping - something about it is just dying to be worn to a baseball game, or a rooftop brunch. Plus, while a lot of York Street tees can be overpriced in my eyes (look at that $95 original price-tag), the discount leaves this one at a more reasonable $38.

Second, is this funky floral polo shirt that screams 70's summer to me:
Match Point Printed Polo | York Street
Funky might even be putting it mildly, but my eye keeps coming back to it! Pair it with some more neutral, solid bottoms (maybe even those white Oxleys above), and you've got a distinct and unique summer look - and at a tasty $25 (originally $125). 

Levi's Commuter Series On Sale at The Clymb:
I'm a huge fan of alternate forms of transportation (think green), especially biking, so I've always had my eye on Levi's commuter line - specifically designed with the biker in mind. Normally, items from the collection are pretty expensive, but via the outdoorsy flash-sale site, The Clymb, there's a lot that's well within my price range (and if you use our referral, you'll get an extra $10 off). Fans of the Levi's 511 fit should check out these green pants, marked down to $45 from $88:
Commuter Series 511 | Levi's via The Clymb
While it looks like they are cut from a chino fabric, the five-pocket styling is going to force these into a bit more casual territory, but that's ok - how often do you bike to a formal event? I love the green color, which will transition well from summer to fall.

Speaking of fall, it's time to start getting excited for layering and light outerwear, like this hooded trucker in olive:
Commuter Series Hooded Trucker | Levi's via The Clymb
Olive is such a versatile color, and looks great paired with dark blue denim. Again, the details are designed for the cyclist, with a longer tail to keep you dry while you're leaned over your handlebars, and reflective tape built in to make you more visible at night. Regularly almost $150, these are running just $70 (and also available in black).

And that's a wrap for today! Any of you find any other good deals around the web? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

'Know Your Fabrics' - Worsted Wool

I’m getting back into the swing of regular posts after some hectic weekends/weeks of traveling, so I thought I’d start things off by putting up a new ‘Know Your Fabrics’ post. This time around, we’re taking a look at worsted wool:

Worsted actually refers to a type of yarn, and the name itself (like so many other textile terms) comes from a town in the UK (England, specifically), Worstead, which was one of the first manufacturing centers of the yarn.

Woollen yarn (yep, that’s the term), in contrast to worsted wool, is made from uneven fibers (both long and short), left with their natural crimps, which results in a light and airy yarn that is a great insulator, and is therefore well-suited to knit garments like sweaters and scarfs.

On the other hand, worsted wool uses only long fibers, with the smaller fibers being removed through a variety of processes that make the production of worsted yarn much more complicated and time-consuming that woollen. These long fibers are not carded, like with woollen yarn, but instead combed with long-tooth metal combs until the fibers are running in parallel, after which it is oiled and spun, resulting in a stronger, straighter, and sleeker yarn.

The combination of the less ‘fluffy’ hand-feel and much more involved and expensive manufacturing process, worsted yarns are almost never used  for knitwear. Instead, they are most often woven into a shiny and resilient fabric that has become a staple in suiting, but can also be found in carpeting and hosiery, among other less common goods.

Worsted suiting fabric.
In suiting, worsted wool is desirable not only for it’s slight sheen, which creates a more formal or dressy look than non-worsted wools like tweed or flannel, but also for it’s tendency to be less wrinkle-prone, as the slightly stiffer fibers bounce back to their straight form relatively easily. Additionally, the coarser yarn can be woven much more loosely, which is advantageous for tropical-weight fabrics as it results in much greater breathability.

It’s always a goal to end these posts with some recommended products. That said, since worsted wool is used almost exclusively (in menswear at least), for suiting, our picks this time around are a bit limited. That said, we did manage to throw in some variety when it comes to price and seasonality.

First up is this summer suit, made from that looser-woven worsted wool that we mentioned:
"Lotus" Lightweight Worsted Wool Suit | Barneys New York
Tropical-weight wool is actually kind of hard to find outside of bespoke suit-makers (this pick from Barney’s is one of the few ready-to-wear options that we could dig up), and even when you do find that lightweight suit, chances are it’ll be a bit pricey - this pick is quite obviously out of most of our price ranges. Hence, a lot of fellas end up with cotton or linen fabric for their summer suits, even though lightweight worsted wool will actually keep you even cooler.

Next, we’ve got a few all-season worsted wool suits. Since they are fully lined, they won’t be quite breezy enough for the hottest weather. At the same time, they aren’t a heavy, insulating wool, making them relatively versatile.

On the more affordable end of the spectrum, J.Crew Factory offers their worsted Thompson Suit for just over $300 (but much less during their relatively frequent sales):

Thompson Suit Jacket in Worsted Wool | J.Crew Factory (pants here)

At a more middling price range, Suit Supply is a very solid choice. They do have much bolder prints, but we'll stick with the staples and recommend this navy suit that clocks in at $469:
Blue Plain Havana Suit | SuitSupply
Now, if you want to go all sorts of baller, MR PORTER has this Richard James number, which runs a more significant $980, but is sure to make you the sharpest man in pretty much any room:

Prince of Wales Check Worsted-Wool Suit | Richard James via MR PORTER
I'm sure most of you who already own a suit will have something in worsted wool - any thoughts on the pros and cons? Share in the comments below.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Word. Notebooks - An Endorsement

Word. Notebooks, an offshoot of Cool Material, sent us an e-mail this week to promote their newest batch of notebook cover designs (pictured above). I'm a huge fan of Cool Material, and have even put together a 'Wear This' post for them a few months back. Even more-so, I am a Word. Notebook addict. Seriously, I can't live without them. I forgot mine at home today, and I was undoubtedly an unproductive mess.

Anyway, since I love them so much, I wanted to take the opportunity to give an official, whole-hearted endorsement of the notebooks and their simple, but incredibly useful built in to-do list system. At first glance, it's just your standard small notebook, but the inclusion of a bullet system provides a perfect visual reference that let's you quickly assess everything you have on your plate. From their website:

"Simply fill in the bullet point when writing an item on that line. Trace the circle around it when it’s important and add a slash when you’ve started work on it. Once the task is complete, simply mark down an “X” and move on to the next item on your list."

The handy 'Use Guide' included inside each book.
I've discussed the importance of setting yourself a list of goals, but always in the long term. However, as you work towards those bigger aspirations, you still need to keep your daily grind...well...grinding. Quickly. Effectively. Efficiently. 

Word. Notebooks help you do just that - small enough to fit into a pocked or tuck into a pouch in you bag or briefcase, these little books can follow you everywhere, and become the perfect constant reminder of what you have on deck, and a reference point for keeping yourself productive. 

Personally, I keep an ongoing, long-running list that never really ends. An alternative is to build a new list for each day, and don't go to sleep until you see X's the whole way down the page. Whatever your method, if you put these to good use, you're sure to see both your productivity and reliability improve greatly, which can't be bad!

My current, well-worn notebook.
Pick up a 3-pack at the Cool Material Store or directly from the Word. Notebook website for just $10. They've also got a few other cool products, like the Standard Memorandum notebook (not currently available, but hopefully returning someday), and some classy leather notebook covers. All very cool...

On a quick, unrelated note, I'm traveling again this weekend! Hopefully I'll have time to get a 'Deals and Steals' post up before I leave, but if not, I'll be back behind the wheel early next week.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Airport Style

Things have been pretty quiet on the blog, as I've been traveling a lot over the past week, and am working on some big (i.e. busy and stressful, but exciting) life changes (more on that later). Anyway, wanted to dive back into things, and while I was jet-setting over the weekend, I jotted some notes down on my advice for travel attire - more specifically, for what to wear to the airport. 

Sometimes, these decisions are dictated by the occasion - if you're landing for a job interview, or a business meeting, and therefore by necessity have to travel in a suit. Other times, though, it's completely up to you. Many people take this kind of opportunity to dress purely for comfort, but my recommendation is to really think through each item and go for the most practical and useful pick, and to aim for middle-of-the-road formality, as opposed to something uber-casual (or uber-formal) that will really limit your moves straight off the plane. Here are my thoughts:

My recommendation here is a nice pair of penny loafers, or boat shoes if you want to be a bit more casual. However, what it really comes down to is anything slip-on. It's just one less thing to do while you're in line at security. 

Even though you're wearing loafers (or boat shoes) don't just go sockless. Walking around in your bare-feet on an airport floor? Disgusting, for you and for everyone else. Grab a nice pair of no-show socks and you'll be all set. 

Honestly, this probably won't make a huge difference, but I tend to reach for a ribbon D-ring belt, as it adds just a little convenience - the belt itself is quick to get on or off, and (rather than stiffer leather), rolls up nice and small (I usually just stuff mine in my shoes).

Lots of flexibility here - and speaking of which, pick a flexible fabric! Nothing wrong with traveling in jeans, but if you pick a pair with a little stretch, you'll probably be much more comfortable on the plane. Really though, chinos, jeans, trousers, whatever you feel comfortable in, as long as it matches the formality of the rest of your ensemble. I do, however, recommend against wearing white or even light khaki. You never know when you're going to hit turbulence right as your neighbor takes a sip of his red wine (I can speak from personal experience). 

I'll often go with an OCBD or some other mildly casual button-front shirt, but my real go-to is a Uniqlo x Michael Bastian button-down polo. It's sharp enough to wear with a blazer, but as comfortable as any Tee, and the pique fabric will hide the wrinkles and rumples(?) of travel much better than a crisper shirting fabric. 

It's by no means necessary, but I highly recommend wearing a jacket to the airport. First, the airport, or the plane itself, will often have some heavy-duty A/C on blast, and it's always easier to remove a layer if you're warm than it is to dig an extra layer out of your carefully packed bags. Even more-so, a blazer (or even a more casual jacket) has the benefit of lots of pockets. I can usually skip fumbling with the little change-trays at security entirely, with all of my loose items in my blazer pockets. Streamlining, folks! I alternate between a more casual, unconstructed blazer, or a light bomber if I know I'm keeping it casual once I hop off the plane.
BONUS: It's a pain to figure out how to pack a blazer without making it irreparably wrinkled and misshapen. Easiest solution? Just wear the damn thing.

To recap, a quick checklist:
  • No laces!
  • No white pants!
  • Lots of pockets!
  • No bare feet!
  • Avoid stiff and pressed!
And as usual, versatility is the name of the game!

Now, of course going through the airport in sweats and a tee is going to be the most comfortable and carefree, but I think the above outfit has some solid advantages. The biggest and most obvious is that you can step off the plane, and head right to the bar, to your friend's place, out to dinner, pretty much anything but a formal or business occasion, without having to seriously freshen up and change outfits. 

Beyond that, I just prefer to have the more secure pockets that chinos or a blazer offer, rather than sweatpants and hoodie, where I constantly feel like my most valuable and important possessions and documents are going to fall out and disappear at any moment.

I want to end with one last note (even though this is getting loooong). Someone commented on our post on fest fashion, observing that a lot of aspects of all of these different suggested outfits are the same, or at least very similar. They weren't wrong at all - in fact, I think it really demonstrates my assertion that versatility is king. Instead of picking up pieces that are only appropriate for air-travel (see some of those compression socks and 'travel' or 'packable' fabrics), or only appropriate for a music festival (band tees, crazy graphic patterns), stock your closet with things that will keep you sharp, comfortable, and collected for the widest variety of occasions. Once you have that foundation nailed, it's far easier to branch out without blowing a budget or making big style mistakes. 

Alright, how do you all head to the skies? Share in the comments!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Matching Socks - Taking the Middle Ground

Back in April, I wrote a post explaining in detail how to go about picking out a pair of socks to go with your outfit. Our previous advice was to pick solidly between two distinct options - either match your pants (but never your shoes), or to contrast your pants with something bolder, but compliment some colors elsewhere in your outfit (like your tie). 

However, I've recently enjoyed eschewing my own advice (gasp), and instead have been favoring a middle ground. In large part, this has corresponded with a growing tendency in my own style to lean just a bit more classic, and less bold and modern - but I still feel just a little 'off' with plain, solid socks. That in mind, I've been trying to find monochromatic patterns that allow me to put a little bit of contrast and visual interest into my socks while still matching my trousers.

My favorite example is this pair of brown socks I recently picked up from The Tie Bar:

Big Tooth Socks in Chocolate/Light Champagne | The Tie Bar
First, I just gotta say The Tie Bar socks are always a pleasant surprise in comfort and style - especially at the price. That aside, though, I love the tan houndstooth pattern laid over a darker brown background. It's not quite solid, but it's also not a real attention grabber. Additionally, the light/dark mix makes these work just as well with khaki chinos or darker brown dress trousers:
On yours truly. What can brown do for you? (UPS - don't sue me)
Another pair I've been enjoying are these light cotton socks from Frank & Oak in marine blue:

Lightweight Cotton Socks in Marine | Frank & Oak
These actually are listed as solid, but in-person the ribbing actually comes across as a lighter, fine stripe that helps separate them  just a bit from a pair of similarly colored chinos or trousers:

Again, on yours truly. No catch-phrase for blue off the top of my head...
The lesson to be learned is that all the lines drawn in the menswear sand can be blurred. Sure, our previous article listed two pretty distinct methods for math info your socks - but is that all there is to it? Of course not - feel free to interpret, bend and blend the guidelines until you find your own go-to methods. Even then, don't ever be afraid to question those methods and allow them to grow and develop with yourself!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 8/1/2014

Been a hectic week, so I apologize for the delay getting these deals out to y'all. And just a word of warning, got a very busy schedule coming up through August, so posts might be a tad less frequent. Just a tad! OK, here we go:

"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!"

This week I tried to stray away from the go-to's (J.Crew, Bonobos, Frank & Oak, etc.) and shake things up a bit. Here's what I found:

Clearance at Land's End Canvas:
Man, the LEC line from Land's End (their younger, trimmer line, similar to Brooks Brothers Red Fleece) has some really solid stuff, often significantly marked down. I really gotta get into a store and try some things on, as my only hesitation is in not being 100% of my sizing. That said, there's plenty I would grab, from simple staples to a few fun pieces. Among the staples, of course, are their OCBD's:

Oxford Cloth Shirts in Solid, Stripe, and Gingham | Land's End Canvas
Available in solids, stripes, and one checked pattern, these cover all the bases and clock in at just $25 (on sale from $40) - less than even Uniqlo. Don't think much more needs to be said - if these fit trim like described, I'd grab one in each color. Easy.

Another fine-looking staple comes in the form of their slim-fit chinos:
Comer 608 Slim Fit Chinos | Land's End Canvas
These are ranging from $20 to $30 (originally $58), depending on the color. And speaking of color, I love that they have a wide variety of options, yet none are scream-in-your-face bold, and all are versatile. Definitely check out the selection. I've heard great things about the fit as well. I also noticed these 'Jeanos,' which I'm thinking might be very similar to the Dockers Alpha Khakis - jean-like in texture, but chino-like in fit and details.

For something more playful and fun, check out this madras short-sleeved popover, which I would be tempted to wear every damn day in the summer:

Short Sleeve Madras Popover | Land's End Canvas
Just $25 (regularly $40), this may be the most affordable popover I've seen yet. I'm digging a few other items as well, like this printed poplin shirt, which is bold, but a bit darker, and may be perfect for fall - or this french terry chore coat, which is a nice reference to the indigo workwear styles coming out of Japan.

Men's Sale Section at Uniqlo:
Sticking with standard promotions (as opposed to seasonal sales or coded discounts), Uniqlo is always worth checking out as they rotate a ton of discounted items through their sale section on a regular basis. I took a look today and found some gems, including a bunch of the Uniqlo x Michael Bastian polos from earlier this year, like this one in red stripes:

Washed Short Sleeve Polo Shirt | Uniqlo x MB
I love the button-down collars on these things, and the contrasting collar/placket are an interesting detail. This years selection is decidedly more bold than last year's, so this might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's worth checking out all the available patterns - especially since they are marked down to $15 from an already-affordable $23.

Also in the sale section is this 'Cord Lane' blazer:
Cord Lane Slim Fit Blazer | Uniqlo
Not quite seersucker, it definitely has the same vibe - think summer in the south, but in a trim fit that's more urban than country-dandy. 100% cotton and partially lined = sure to be a winner, and only $30 (down from $70).

Extra 25% off Site-Wide at G.H. Bass:
We'll close out with two pairs of shoes. G.H. Bass's Weejuns loafers are considered by many to be the original penny loafer, and are my go-to for a classic American-prep shoe. I have a pair in burgundy that I wear all the time, but I've been on the hunt for some in tan suede. And voila, G.H. Bass delivers:
Nubuck Weejuns | G.H. Bass

Even at full price ($108), these shoes are very affordable, especially considering the quality and durability compared to other footwear at the same price point. These are marked down to $80 already, and the additional markdown lands them at a uber-cheap $60 a pair. Grab some while they last!

NEW Clearance Section at Sperry:
My go-to for boat shoes has just launched a clearance section! It's not wildly stocked at the moment, but I like the chances of some of the more classic styles ending up here during the off-season. Meanwhile, you can find some of the funkier color-ways in here now, like these in blue, which are marked down to $60 from an original retail price of $90:
Authentic Original Color Pop 2-Eye Boat Shoe | Sperry Top-Sider
I also like these boat-shoe-style chukkas, in tan with yellow accents, and just $55 (originally $100):
Authentic Original Color Pop Chukka Boot | Sperry Top-Sider
Like I said, not the most traditional colors, but those may end up in there after summer closes out.

Welp, that's it for the week. Scoring anything sweet this weekend? Share in the comments!