Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 9/25/2014

The weekend nears (weird that I'm still excited about that, considering I don't have a 9-5 at the moment), and that means it's time for Deals and Steals! Here's our 'deal':

"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!"

I'm still pretty damn pumped about this fall weather that is slowly (but surely) heading our way, so here's another fall-centric list:

30% Off Fall Jackets at H&M (and free shipping with code 2288):
Editors Note: Damn, looks like the 30% off has ended already. Thanks to @mh1990 for pointing this out below. Looks like free shipping is still on through tomorrow, but can't grab that extra discount. Lamesauce!
Couldn't be happier about this sale, especially considering my H&M mention in last week's Deals and Steals. Remember how I said I'd be keeping a watch out for discounts to stack with the free shipping code I pointed out in that list? Well, here's that discount! It's not site-wide or anything, but there are some great fall outerwear options included - even that same blue baseball jacket has been marked down to $42 from $60. I went ahead and selected two new picks for this week, as well. First up is this blue canvas parka, regularly $50, now $35:
Canvas Parka | H&M
I've mentioned that my personal style has slowly been shifting from sharply tailored to a bit more rugged and casual (in part as I transfer out of a law firm work-place). As I've been making that shift, I've been digging the rustic look of a canvas parka more and more - and the best part is it won't look half bad over a blazer, either.

I also think this duffel coat in a rich burgundy color is fantastic:
Duffel Coat | H&M
I love the duffel style and the great color, but what's especially cool here is the way they've adapted the coat for fall, rather than winter. I have a great Gloverall wool duffel that I wear all winter, but is heavy, wool, and definitely too much for these transitional months. This coat, on the the other hand, is made out of a cotton canvas fabric, which a) makes it much more fall-appropriate - ready for rain, not snow, and b) let's them keep the price down to $70 - actually, now below $50 with the discount.

Just act fast, as the free shipping code is only good through 9/27.

Extra 30% Off Final Sale Items at J.Crew (code PICKASALE):
Man, J.Crew manages to make it onto this list almost every week, and I'm not complaining. However, to shake things up a bit this time around, I turned my focus away from their main line and took my picks from their higher Wallace & Barnes line, or their co-branded 'In Good Company' items. From Wallace & Barnes, the first thing that stood out was this shawl-collar cardigan:
Wallace & Barnes Indigo Shawl-Collar Cardigan | J.Crew
You already know I love shawl collars, so this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. That said, I usually stick to solid colors, as I think that patterns like stripes, etc., make the look too casual (and I love throwing a shawl-collar cardigan over an OCBD with a tie for a cozy dapper look). This one, however, manages to inject some 'fun' with the color block front, but stays sharp enough for my tastes. Like most good things, originally expensive at $150, but knocked down to just over $90 with the discount.

Also from Wallace & Barnes, I'm digging this take on the bomber jacket - it's like an higher-quality, but maybe more casual version of the cheaper options from brands like H&M:
Wallace & Barnes Colorblock Bomber Jacket | J.Crew
I dig the subtler color-blocking, the faded blue tones, the grey trimming, and the fact that it just looks cozy. If this was in my closet, it'd probably be my first grab for any of your standard-fare outdoor fall events - from tailgating to a cookout to a stroll in the park. Regularly a whopping $188, now a more manageable $112.

Not into the fall colors, or just want something brighter? Turning even farther from J.Crew's main line, this jacket by Penfield (in the 'In Good Company' collection) might just hit the spot:
Gibson Jacket | Penfield for J.Crew
The water-resistant Gibson jacket by Penfield is often highly sought after, and (if I'm not mistaken) often hard to find below full price, so this is a great chance to grab it in a vibrant yellow for a solid discount (down to $98 from $150).

New Arrivals at Uniqlo:
Not a proper sale, per se, but I told y'all I was excited for fall arrivals from the always-affordable Uniqlo, and they've recently added some duds that have made it onto my wishlist. First up, it's the first appearance of their seasonal tweed blazers! And damn, do they have some sharp personal favorite is this blue window-pane:
Tweed Slim Fit Jacket | Uniqlo
Sure, it's bold, but it's a casual blazer anyway, so you have more room to get funky. I'd rock this, for sure, and rock it hard. The only downside is that the material is not 100% wool, but it's so damn affordable they might just get a pass on that one. Currently full-priced at just under $100, and also available in a grey window-pane, as well as a few more neutral solids.

Scrolling down to the knits, I'm not surprised to see tons of great sweaters coming into play. I'm sure I'll grab a few of the insanely-affordable lamsbwool cardigans, or the very popular merino v-necks, but this cable-knit is the one I've got my eye on now:

Heavy Gauge Cable Crew Neck Sweater | Uniqlo
This may just be my memory failing me (call me out if I'm wrong), but I don't recall seeing these cable-knit and patterned options last year, so I'm especially happy to see them show up here. Love how cozy this looks, especially in the marled blue color. Even at a full price of $40, it's a hell of a bargain.

Lastly, I've had my eye on a Uniqlo wool chesterfield top coat to get me through the winter for a couple of years. Every year, though, either they don't have the coat when I'm looking, or they're sold out in my size/color, or something, so I'm really trying to jump on that train fast this year. However, Uniqlo has made a few changes - both of which I dig. First, they are finally offering it in a camel color:
Wool Cashmere Chesterfield Coat | Uniqlo
Now, again, I may just not remember ever seeing a camel color, but I'm pretty sure this is a first, and I love it. Not in-your-face by any means, it's still a step away from your standard grays and blacks and will help you stand out in style. Second, they added a cashmere blend to their wool fabric, which, sure enough, raised the prices marginally. That said, $150 for a cashmere/wool top coat? Still a damn steal. And that cashmere is only going to make the coat more comfortable and warmer.

All right, we're calling it quits after that one, before I'm tempted to spend all the money I have set aside for rent and bills! Have a great weekend, and happy shopping.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jeans vs. Denim

First, just a quick logistical mention: As things have been uber-busy, we're temporarily going back to two posts a week, rather than three. However, we do have a ton of good stuff in the pipeline that has to get fit into the schedule, so this change may be short-lived (or flexible, at the very least)! Anyway, just wanted to keep y'all abreast of the goings-on round here. On to the article:

I'm admittedly a sucker for terminology, and as much as I love learning the definitions and origins of menswear nomenclature, it bugs the hell out of me when people (especially professionals) get it mixed up! Sure, in the big scope of things, it's not the end of the world, but as a personal pet peeve, I'll keep trying to shed light on the correct classifications as much as possible.

With that in mind, today I want to take a look at a common misnomer, and the distinction between 'denim' fabric and 'jeans' trousers.

Pretty regularly, the two terms are kind of jumbled together, when there is actually a pretty significant difference between the two - and it's not even that the terms aren't interchangeable. In fact, they refer to two completely different categories.

As I alluded to above, 'denim' refers to a fabric, while 'jeans' refers to a cut of pants.

Denim is merely a sturdy cotton twill fabric woven with (traditionally) indigo warp threads, and undyed, white weft threads that provide the signature color and fading of denim fabric. Beyond that, the fabric (and terminology) is not limited to pants at all, but can be applied to literally anything, from shirts to jackets to ties to even shoes, and even inside the 'pants' category, it can be used to make traditional 'jeans' or more formally cut trousers, or even the dreaded 'jorts'.

Denim, not jeans. Notice the fabric - and the fact that they aren't pants.
So what are 'jeans' then? Jeans are a very specific cut of pants, inherently casual, and yes, most commonly made out of denim. Originally, the term was used for work pants that were introduced by Levi Strauss in the 1800's. These pants were reinforced at 'stress points' with copper rivets, and were at first made with just three pockets. Over time, the design developed and two more pockets were added, for a total of five (two in the back, two at the hips, and coin pocket), thus the now-interchangeable term 'five-pocket pants (or jeans).' Like I said, these days jeans are most often made out of a denim fabric, but they were actually first made out of canvas, and today can be found in corduroy as well as other fabrics, usually more hefty and sturdy than more formal trouser materials.

Jeans, not denim. Notice the five-pocket styling and riveted seams, but canvas fabric.
So there you have it - not a life-changing distinction, but it never hurts to get it right!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 9/20/2014

Super busy round here, but still made time to put together some great deals before the end of the weekend! Keep an eye out over the next week or so, got some new product reviews on the way, as well as some cool editorials and new 'Know Your Patterns/Fabrics' additions. Meanwhile:

"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!"

Getting pumped about the cooler weather, so we're back to all-fall styles this week. And the deals:

Extra 30% Off Sitewide at J.Crew Factory (code SALE30):
Not a hugely unusual sale for JCF, this one is still a biggie and applies to everything on the site. The possibilities are endless, and JCF has a ton of good stuff in stock right now, so I limited my own picks to the new arrivals, which, of course, are full of great fall duds. Even with that limit, I found a ton of great stuff, so we're going to spend some time on this one! First up are their slim flannel workshirts, which come in a variety of plaids and checks. My favorite is this pink and grey style, marked down to $35 from a starting price of $65:
Slim Flannel Workshirt | J.Crew Factory
I love a good fall flannel, even in very earthy 'fall' colors, but the brighter color scheme on this one could be a refreshing reprieve from the fall doldrums. I feel like last year the flannels were at least hard to find in slim fits, so it's nice to see that these are available in both the slim and the regular. 

Next, adding some weight to the top layer, I've got my eye on this grey tweed work shirt, running $47.60 (down from $88):
Donegal Tweed Workshirt | J.Crew Factory
I'm real big on casual jackets this fall, and a 'shacket' like this is high on my list. I love anything tweed, but tend to see it used more for tailored clothing, and I dig this more casual application. Lighter than most fall jackets, but heavier than most shirts (and from a warmer wool blend), this will make a great layering option as the temps just start to dip. It only comes in a regular fit, not slim, so it may be boxy, but that might also be just enough room to allow for a layer or two underneath. Check it out in person if you can.

Keeping moving up the warmth scale, this new selection has a number of toasty lambswool sweaters. Merino wool is often the sweater fabric of choice, especially for slicker business-casual styles, but lambswool is just that much warmer. Maybe even too warm for early fall, but come winter, when it gets bone-chillingly cold, a sweater like this will become a go-to:
Lambswool Sweater | J.Crew Factory
Here, the colors are for the most part very appropriately earthy, but this green, again, steps a bit out of the normal cold-weather color schemes with a little punch of brightness. It's not summery by any means, but just like the flannel shirt above, could be a cheerier outlier. Lambswool often isn't cheap, but these are marked down to $35 from $70, making them very easy on the wallet as well.

Alrighty, almost ready to wrap it up with JCF, but still have one more, which is probably my favorite on the list, this shawl collar cardigan:
Donegal Shawl-Collar Cardigan | J.Crew Factory
I freakin' love shawl collar sweaters, and actually got to bust one of mine out for the first time this year last night. The nice thing about a cardigan, too, is that the warmer lambswool is easy to pop off if you get too toasty inside. In these fall months, you can even wear it as a light jacket, and then as a mid layer when it gets colder. Again, not usually cheap, but discounted to $56 from almost $100.

Ok, enough with JCF, I guess. There are plenty of other great options, from tweed blazers for under $120, to slim chinos for $35, to camp socks for just $8.75, and everything in between. Check it out.

Free Shipping at H&M (code 2288):
Just a free shipping code (no other discounts to stack), but this is a good chance to grab some of H&M's always-cheap stuff without having to trek down to a store. One of my personal fall favorites from H&M is their shawl-collar cardigan:
Melange Cotton Cardigan | H&M
Looks like this one is cotton, so it won't be quite as warm as the option above from J.Crew, but that $40 base price is damn hard to beat. I have a very similar one from last year's line, and wear it all the time. I'm also a big fan of the slightly-outside-the-box reddish color available this year, although a more standard grey/blue is available as well. 

I'm also a fan of the trendier jackets from H&M - a great chance to test out something a bit outside of your personal style zone without betting the bank on it. I'm thinking about picking up this baseball jacket:
Baseball Jacket | H&M
Again, the base price (this time at $60), is much easier on the wallet than most of the competition. Dig the deep blue color, the bit of shine, and the contrasting white trim - could be really sharp at a tailgate or other fall outing.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for some discounted prices to go with the free shipping (fingers crossed). I'll keep ya posted!

To wrap things up, got two choice pieces of fall footwear at super-bargain prices:

Florsheim Veblen on Clearance:
I've heard the Veblen described as the poor man's Alden Longwing Blucher - which is one my personal grail-wishlist items. Regardless, I think it's a beautiful shoe - not a sleek european brogue, but a chunkier, American style shoe that will look perfect under a pair of heavier fall trousers:
Veblen Longwing Brogues | Florsheim
Even the starting price of $180 is pretty damn nice, especially for well-reviewed Goodyear welted shoe. Now, Florsheim is letting them go for just $125 - super hard to pass up (and still over the $100 free shipping threshold)!

Stafford Deacon Wingtip Boot on sale at JCPenney:
I wholly think nice leather boots are something worth splurging on, but it can be hard - not only to fork over the money, but to feel like you can actually wear a pair of $400 shoes in the snow, slush and rain that come with boot-weather. If you need a pair to just beat around without worry, the Stafford Deacon from JCPenney is hard to beat:
Stafford Deacon Wingtip Boot | JCPenney
Surprisingly well-styled for a bargain boot, these are pretty wildly popular on sites like Dappered, and seem to be a pretty good bang for the buck. Poke around the web for some information on sizing, as their previous iteration, the Camlin, tended to run pretty large. Regularly $100, these are knocked down to only $65, and a 15% off code (CREDIT33 - make that 20% off with a JCP credit card) puts them at a wildly-affordable $55.

And that's all, folks! Like I said, tune back in next week for some exciting new content, and in the meantime, enjoy the fall!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My 'Dream' Wish List

Ok, a day late on this one, sorry folks. I swear I'm back on the regular schedule, but was away for part of the weekend and not as productive as I planned for the rest of it, so, sue me. 

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned (probably tirelessly), I just took a big leap and moved to NYC, in large part to pursue a full-time career in men’s apparel. It’s been wildly exciting, and I have a lot of potentially awesome opportunities in the pipeline, but inherently, part of that leap meant quitting my old job in Chicago, and being temporarily unemployed. And something I’ve realized over the past two weeks, is that it’ tough to be a broke menswear blogger. 

As I sit here researching and writing articles, or even ‘background’ reading all of my favorite blogs and periodicals, I’m just surrounded by things to buy. With a regular income, I temper my desires for absurdly expensive shoes and suits by scoring bargains on slightly less, but still significantly drool-worthy duds, or even just improving my basic wardrobe. When I’m completely broke, though, it’s like having an addiction, with no fix! I can’t even get a little taste! Sheesh! 

So, as a result, I’ve (vaguely counter-productively) been putting together a list of things I really want, but totally can’t afford. And not even ‘can’t afford while I’m broke,’ but really ‘things I will have to save up for (or score on eBay if I’m lucky). A 'personal grail' list, if you will.

I’m sure I’ve got a zillion other things on the list (such is the life of a struggle blogger with expensive taste), but the following are the things I’m really lusting after this fall. The list:

  • Alden Longwing Bluchers ($687 at Unionmade): I’ve actually needed new shoes since, oh, maybe mid-spring, and just haven’t been able to bring myself to buy the kind of pair that I could afford. Instead, I’m oh-so-stubbornly holding on on these beauties, which are probably my dream pair. Sure, there are others that come close (maybe an AE Strand in shell cordovan), but something keeps bringing me back to these. I love the versatility, the American, kinda preppy aesthetic (as opposed to a more sleek, European shoe), the Alden heritage, the burgundy color, the cordovan leather - it's the one pair of shoes I could probably wear every damn day.
Longwing Cordovan Blucher | Alden via Unionmade

  • Some sort of (very specific) boot (Alden Indy currently $512 at NeedSupply): Ok, ok, this one is pretty vague, and therefore a bit of a cop-out for a wish list, but I’ve been dying for a pair of nice boots for so long. The problem is, I keep waffling about what kind of boot I want. I know what I don’t want...I don’t want something chunky, or with a bulbous toe (goodbye Red Wing and Wolverine), I know I don’t want a Chelsea boot, or any kind of strictly dress boot, I know I don't want something with a glued sole, I know I don't want anything with zippers...should I go on? Beyond that, I know I want brown or Merlot, I know I want it to be relatively sleek through the toe-box, and I want it to be just rugged enough to deal with the elements without me coddling them. So, do I want a more casual boot, like the Viberg Service Boot or Alden Indy? Or do I want something I can wear with a tweed or flannel suit, like the Meermin Tan Country Calf, or the Allen Edmonds Dalton? All I know is, it’s gonna be expensive.
Indy Boot Chromexcel | Alden via NeedSupply

  • A leather bag (Frank Clegg brief currently $1140): This has been on my radar for a while, but was just recently hammered home by some recent posts on some of my go-to blogs. While I don't necessarily want a hard-top briefcase (yet), I really connected with this post on TSB, and the assertion that men have kind of forgotten the formality/elegance of a proper, non-casual bag. Personally, I'm not sure if I'd go for a brief or other every-day bag (which I'd inherently get more use out of), or a weekender or duffel (which I just love the look of), but I know a gorgeous, shrunken-grained, buttery-soft beauty would just fill a gaping hole in my heart (isn't hyperbole fun?). Not a connoisseur by any means, but something like this pick from Frank Clegg just tugs at my heartstrings. Editors Note: Holy hell these things are expensive...I mean I knew they weren't cheap, but I went to pull the product link for this...oof.
Zip-Top Briefcase | Frank Clegg

  • Baracuta G9 Jacket ($390 through the Baracuta store): Ever since I've gotten into style, I've wanted a classic Baracuta to emulate some Ben Wyatt style. Now this one is a bit frustrating, because I honestly am not 100% sure it’s worth the crazy high price point. Also, you can find knockoffs for just fractions of the price. But maybe something about those knockoffs is just too noticeably different to me, or maybe I’m hooked on the Baracuta name, but whatever it is, I want one. This is for sure one I’m hunting the eBay for. But good luck to me, finding one in the right shade of dark khaki (which the below is not, but close), in a small, in good condition and a modern cut...and all the other stupid shit I’m picky about.
G9 Original | Baracuta

  • Barbour Waxed Bedale ($380 at Orvis): A bastion of NE, preppy fall style (though it's origins are British), the waxed Barbour. Starts out shiny and new (and, from what I’ve heard, very waxy), develops a beautiful patina over time...honestly, this is one I might be better off buying used, and finding something with an already lovingly-worn-in look. And yeah, not out-of-the-world expensive for outerwear, even new. But I kinda want that worn-in look to be my own, and I’ve never before bought a coat at market price, so here it lands on my dream list.
Bedal Jacket | Barbour via Orvis

  • Brooks Brothers Regent Hopsack Blazer ($598 at Brooks Brothers): Surprisingly the only piece of tailored wear on this list (this time around, at least), I’ve been dying for a hopsack blazer since spring. It’s like, the perfect fabric. It’s wool, so it won’t be ‘out of season’ to be worn in the fall, spring, or winter, but the coarse fabric and open weave make it breathable enough to wear in the summer (as long as there’s a bit of a breeze). Plus, the texture of the thing sets it apart from your everyday, smooth and shiny worsted wool. It’s pretty much the perfect go-to blazer, but unfortunately a relatively hard-to-find fabric at lower prices. The Regent cut from Brooks Brothers would be perfect for me, in a slightly slimmer fit, just over 1/4 lined (though to be honest I don't really know what that means), expensive enough to indicate quality but not wildly pricey...yep. Normally I’d find an affordable alternative, but I’ve been ‘making do’ with the blazers I have for long enough that they are starting to wear thin, so I think this deserves a spot on the covet-for-later list.
Regent Hopsack Blazer | Brooks Brothers

Ok, it's time for me to stop drooling over expensive menswear pieces before I screw up and buy one with money I don't have. What's on your personal grail wishlist? Share below:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 9/12/2014

Ah, so good to be back on schedule. Coming at you today with a new 'Deals and Steals.'

"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!"

Alright, last week we turned our eye to some upcoming fall styles (despite the fact that it was about 90 degrees here in NYC). Today, we're doing the opposite, and throwing some last-minute summerwear steals your way (again, despite slightly contradictory weather here in the city). The end of the season is always a great time to shop around for items you may have missed, as retailers are pretty darn motivated to get those swim shorts off the shelves before it starts to snow (ugh).

50% Off Select Final Sale Styles at J.Crew (code EASYSALE):

Another one of J.Crews now-very-regular coded sales. And speaking of those swim shorts, our very first pick is a classy pair in a very cool solid blue seersucker:
6.5" Tab Swim Short in Tonal Seersucker | J.Crew
I've talked a lot about the benefit of swim shorts that can pass as regular shorts, making it easy to go from the beach to the bar, and these fit the bill perfectly. With the tab closure, 6.5" inseam, and again, the seersucker fabric, I wouldn't have even guessed these were swim shorts until I saw the title. At just $20 after the discount (originally $75), this is an easy snag to be prepared for spring break (when every swim suit will cost way more than this).

While you're at it, pick up this seersucker popover for just $20 (originally $70):

Short-Sleeve Popover in Seersucker | J.Crew
Heck, even wear the two together - since the shorts are tonal and solid, I think it's OK to rock the two seersucker pieces together, but regardless, a short-sleeve seersucker popover is like, the perfect casual summer shirt. Grab it now!

Lots of other great summery picks hanging around the sale section, be sure to check it out.

Uniqlo Sale Section:
Uniqlo is another one that has a ton of their surplus summer stock at pretty heavily discounted prices. Lots of Tees, more casual shorts, etc., but there were two pieces in particular that I might grab. First is this pair of gingham shorts:
Belted Shorts in Gingham | Uniqlo
First, a quick note, when you get shorts that come with a belt, you should probably just throw the belt out. Haven't seen this one in person, so I can't speak to it based off experience, but generally, if a belt is cheap enough to be thrown in as a freebie, it's just too cheap. That said, these shorts alone look great - I've stocked up on enough solids this summer, so a fun pattern would be nice, and these are interesting without coming off as childish. At just $10 a pair (down from $40), it's an easy steal.

Second, this will perhaps be my last shoutout to the 2014 Michael Bastian x Uniqlo polo collection:

Washed Short Sleeve Polo Shirt | Michael Bastian x Uniqlo

I think we've had some at discounted prices before, but this $10 price-point (regularly $23) is about the lowest I've seen. I usually stick to the button-down styles, but the vintage vibes on this guy are really cool.

Lightweight Pants (On Sale) at Bonobos:
Just looking at the sale section here, unfortunately no codes for extra discounts, but there's still some things of note to find. First are their lightweight chinos (again, on sale), in normal colors. These hit the sale section every so often all summer, but usually in pretty go-to-hell colors. Today, I even saw some in the ever-classic khaki:
Summerweight Chino | Bonobos
Also popping up in other neutrals like navy and grey, these are hovering around $48 for straight leg, and $78 for slim (which isn't the cheapest, yer darn right, but maybe a code will pop up, or these will drop in price along with the temps). Original price is $98. Worth keeping an eye on, at the very least.

Second, in general, their selection of Oxley's is at the lowest sale price I think I've seen this year. Even without an additional code, grabbing a pair like these for just $48 is a helluva steal (originally  $98 as well):
Oxleys | Bonobos
As I've said, Oxleys = the most comfortable summer pants ever. At the very least, wait for an extra discount code and the jump on these. 

Don't forget, if you're breaking $75 on your first purchase, our referral link will net you $25 credit

K-Way Rain Jackets via Huckberry:
Alright, this one is stepping lightly out of summer territory and into fall (or hell, spring for that matter). Ever since I've seen these pop up in one of the menswear publications I read, I've been kinda hooked. Not normally a fan of the kind of wind-breaker-y, packable style, I actually really like these:
Packable Waterproof Jacket | K-Way via Huckberry
Maybe it's that they are actually waterproof (unlike a windbreaker), and still pack into a tiny pouch. Or maybe it's the kinda retro, contrast piping along the zipper. Or maybe it's just the fact that the damn things only cost $45 here at Huckberry (regularly $55). Whatever it is, I want one. A decent selection colors to pick from, but my favorites are the hunter green shown above, or this bright blue.

Before we sign off, just a few other things I'm excited about:

The Uniqlo Fall Line - Can't wait for them to get full-swing into fall gear, especially as I finally live in a city that has B&M's a-plenty. I'm already pumped about their Pure Blue Japan collection for men, plus I was taking a look at their takes on some classic fall menswear via the new Ines De La Fressange collab for women, and I'm hoping to see some similar stuff hit the men's side too.

Frank & Oak Fall Collections - I've had my ups and downs with F&O, but I honestly couldn't be happier with them as of late. I tend to like their fall styles much more than their spring/summer offerings, so I'm pumped to see the sweaters, cords, wool blazers, etc. start to roll out. Don't forget, if you're new to Hunt Club, our referral link will get you $25 credit when you sign up.

Weekend Casual - Still pretty psyched about the review of Weekend Casual that we did on Wednesday. If you haven't had the chance, swing over and give it a read. And don't forget, they offered Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets readers an exclusive 25% off with code WCWETW.

So that's all, get to shopping!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekend Casual - Brand Spotlight & Review

It was crazy, right around when we decided to move to New York, I got flooded with review and collaboration requests. In the interests of keeping my sanity together (and making it back to the East Coast mentally and physically intact), I put a bunch of things on hold. Now that I’m settled in and waiting for my full-time job to kickstart, I finally have time to get back to these! First on the list is a new accessories brand, Weekend Casual, who were kind enough to send me some samples as an introduction to their products.

Brand Background:
As is tradition here on Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets, I’ll kick things off by letting the brand say a bit about themselves. This isn’t me being lazy, I swear! I just feel they can do a better job telling their story than I can. Kunal Parikh, the founder, had this to say:

"Our main idea is that you don't need to spend a million bucks to look like a million bucks - we want people to be able to utilize what they already own and change up their look by adding accents to their look. And at our prices, you can afford to keep changing your look and staying up to date with the latest styles and trends on a regular basis."

The 'About Us' section on their site goes into a bit more detail:

"Our goal at WC is to deliver to our customers a simple, attractive and streamlined outlet for men to keep their style updated and on trend, with collection of ever-changing accessories. Every WC customer can trust in the knowledge that our design house creates and manufactures our quality men's accessories in the finest facilities shared by such designers as Ted Baker, J Crew and more. We're here to bring you the most engaging and efficient shopping experience. High quality at affordable prices is all part of the program. Keeping it real is what we do best."

Head over to their site to learn more.

The Selection:
So what do they offer? At this point, it’s a pretty solid selection of all things menswear accessories. The focus is on ties, but from there they branch out into bow-ties, pocket squares, cufflinks, tie clips and pins, suspenders and socks. The selections themselves range from classic and conservative to modern and fun.
Classic and conservative...or modern and fun. Your choice.
In particular, they seem to really have a knack for the floral trend, but it will be interesting to see if this gets played down as we enter fall and winter (and what might replace it).

Floral, floral, and more floral!
I’m also personally a huge fan of their equal emphasis on knit ties - sometimes these companies with more selective offerings skip over knits, which are my absolute favorites, so it’s great to see them getting their due!

Ties, bow-ties, cufflinks, and suspenders clock in at $19 a piece, only nominally more than at The Tie Bar, while tie clips are actually cheaper at just $9.  Pre-tied bow-ties are knocked down to $17, pocket squares are $12, lapel pins are $9, and socks are $8. Big apologies if I got any of those mixed up!

What They Sent Me:
To introduce me to their duds, founder Kunal was kind enough to send me a variety of neck ties and pocket squares. I received four ties and two pocket squares:

The ties were the highlight, in my mind. My favorite was this 100% wool tie in blue and grey stripes. It’s incredibly versatile - even in a wool fabric, the texture is loose enough to be appropriate well into the warmer months:
Styled by yours truly. Check out that perfect dimple.
The blue and grey color scheme fits my blue-centric wardrobe perfectly, and the wide stripes are business appropriate, but preppy and bold enough to avoid being relegated to solely office-wear. I’m not seeing this exact one on their site at the moment, but it’s very similar to these other striped options (here and here), which are woven from a wool/silk blend (one of my favorite tie fabrics), and bound to be winners as well.

My second favorite was, predictably, their 'Modern Black' knit. Most of my knits now are from The Tie Bar - in comparison, this knit from Weekend Casual was a bit looser-woven and just a tad wider, which I enjoyed - slightly less hipster, but still slim enough for my own slimness:

Again, styled by yours truly. A solid knot, especially for a knit tie.

I also love that they went beyond the solid, flat black and added an almost heathered effect - it just punches up the visual depth enough to keep a classic from getting boring.

Now, I haven’t had a chance to wear much of the rest yet, but I’m looking forward to it. The khaki tweed tie is just a bit too hefty to rock until the temps dip a bit more, but once they do, I think it will be the perfect fall/winter fabric. It’s got a definite vintage-y feel to it, and I see it adding some perfect contrast to a spread-collar denim shirt:

Already loving the color contrast and the fabric pairing.
The other three samples (light blue floral tie, and blue and red floral pocket squares), do well to showcase the brands penchant for floral patterns. Unfortunately, the tie is 100% polyester (more on that below), but the pattern is subtle, and I could see myself pulling this out for a slightly-dressier brunch, along with a lightweight white shirt and a blue cotton suit:

All set for the next sunny brunch.
As for the squares, I love the patterns - but just haven’t had the right dressed-down-but-suited occasion to wear them since they came in the mail. I especially dig that, while the patterns are bold, the color scheme is limited to one color (and white), which makes them so much easier to style, and less likely to come off as too dandyish.

What’s To Like:
First off, the quality of the ties is pretty impressive considering the uber-affordable price point. Construction seems on par with The Tie Bar, with neat, clean stitching, properly attached keeper loops, and a consistent shape. The fabrics themselves (besides the poly) seem, if anything, to be a step above The Tie Bar - these things just knot and drape perfectly, with just the right amount of heft. Sidebar - I hate when wool ties are too thick, leaving a knot the size of an apple, or knit ties are too thin, leaving a weak shoestring knot. These hit the balance just right. The wool and tweed are toothy without being rough, which I guess isn’t so much of a comfort issue, but still something you can notice just by looking. Well done, all around.

Also, something that struck me when talking with Kunal before receiving the samples was our discussion of their selection in comparison to The Tie Bar (probably the closest brand in terms of price and quality). Kunal said, “Rather than be a warehouse of accessories, we like to curate our collections and make our products with limited quantities so that we can continually rotate in new styles,” a mindset that I think makes a huge difference. As opposed to the Tie Bar, which can be great if you know what you are looking for, but can be a nightmare if you just want to browse for something nice. For example, in skinny silk ties alone, there are 38 pages of results to browse. There are plenty of stylish options, but they are mixed in with some, well, not-so-stylish options. Weekend Casual takes some of the legwork out of it, offering instead a more curated collection of options that is much easier to navigate. They might not have everything, but what they do have is solid and well-chosen.

Of course, I’d be horribly remiss if I didn’t point out their Essential Cause program. Real quick, I’ll let Kunal chime in one more time:

“A lot of companies do the whole Toms "one for one" kind of thing or donate to charity. We do this a little different than most, currently we have 2 causes we work with, we'll have 4 shortly - but we give our customers the option of choosing which cause suits them better, and let them choose where they want a portion of their sales to go.”

So yeah, not only does Weekend Casual embody the entrepreneurial responsibility that we value so much in our favorite brands by giving back, but they actually let you, the customer, help decide where the proceeds from your purchase are being donated. It might not be a mind-blowing feature, but I think it really goes to show where Weekend Casual’s values lie: with their community, and with you as an individual, rather than just as a consumer.

What’s Not To Like:
Polyester! Ugh, honestly one of my favorite things about The Tie Bar is that, even at their price points, they offer only 100% natural fibers - wool, cotton, silk and linen. Weekend Casual has plenty of natural-fiber options as well, but peppered into the mix are some 100% polyester ties. I guess it’s not the end of the world, but I just prefer to avoid polyester ties - and if they can offer natural fibers at their standard price, I’d say just drop the poly! Minor beef.
Editors Note: Right after posting, Kunal informed me that they are actually on the same wavelength here. His words: "That blue tie that I sent you was a product we received as a sample from one of our suppliers - I loved the pattern, and thought it was unique so I sent it your way. But at the end of the day, it's against our policy to stock polyester, so we decided against making it available." So boom, NO POLY!

One more minor beef is that both of the pocket-squares I received were one sided, meaning there is a distinct front and back to the square, with only the front really being desirable to have visible. The way I fold my squares, both sides show, making double-sided squares much more desirable. Again, just a minor beef, as all it takes is a slightly different fold.

My last ‘dislike’ has to do with the site, and web design for new brands tends to see improvements quickly and early, so I’m not too worried. It would be nice in the future to be able to filter selections more, be it by color, pattern, or fabric. However, the fact alone that Weekend Casual intentionally offers a more limited selection makes this distinction almost negligible.

In Conclusion:
I think Weekend Casual makes a fantastic alternative to The Tie Bar - and even better, I don’t really see one eliminating the need for the other (or having both be overkill). The Tie Bar comes in handy when you know exactly what you want and are willing to pick through a lot of similar options to find it. Weekend Casual comes through when you are ready for something new, don’t have anything super specific in mind, and want to browse a well-put-together collection. The price is hard to beat, and the style is spot on.

BONUS: For all of you Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets readers out there, Weekend Casual was awesome enough to provide us with a discount code, ‘WCWETW’ for 25% off your order!

This was a sponsored review, and the product reviewed was provided to me free of charge. The article, however, remains objective and unbiased and is published without prior editing or review by Weekend Casual. While I love to be given products to review, don't worry, I will never endorse a product I wouldn't wear myself.