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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Category: Jackets

Essential Outerwear: The Field Jacket

Mark Kwak

So we're onto the second installment of the Essential Outerwear series, and today, the spotlight is on the field jacket, or sometimes more broadly called, the utility coat.

fieldedit

So what in the world is a field jacket? Well I'mma get descriptive on you: field jackets are jackets that are inspired by a type of outerwear design worn by soldiers during World War II, usually characterized by a rugged look made of waxed cotton or some sort of synthetic, donning multiple pockets, and generally in an olive green or khaki color, just like the military men wore it. To see a couple classic field jackets, check out the M65 or M43.

I love field jackets and utility coats, and they've become quite popular in recent years. I swear every other person on the street is wearing some sort of olive green canvas jacket, whether guy or girl, old or young. Good news is that this ubiquity has made this jacket a very seamless one to wear in any situation. You can be in casual sweats, and a field jacket won't look out of place. I've also seen the other end of the spectrum where finance folks from London are layering their Barbour jackets over their pinstripe suits. I might add that it's not a bad look.

If you're going to get one, I would recommend getting a field jacket/utility coat in a neutral color. Think olive green, khaki, navy blue, black, gray. They look best when they're a bit distressed or wrinkled, and they should fit well at the shoulder, but it's not 100% necessary for them to fit too snug. For example, the Barbour Bedale is one of my favorite field jackets, and it's actually cut in a more classic form to help make sure your movement is unrestricted while you're hunting that deer, or grappling a bear.

These jackets can also act as great rain coats. If it's made of waxed cotton, it's actually meant to be worn in the rain, as the wax keeps the jacket protected from any rain damage. I will have to warn you though, they usually aren't as warm as wool or puffer coats, and hopefully you didn't expect them to be. They work well in the winter time, but not in below zero degree weather.

Here are two of my field jackets, one being more classically field-like (the Barbour one), and the other being a little out of the box (the Banana Republic one). I like them both a lot though:

field1 field2I love the corduroy detailing on this particular jacket. field3Wear these jackets with a scarf if your neck gets cold. Looks great in my opinion. field5Here is the most common color that you'll find a field jacket in. Olive green. field6This one has no lack of detailing either. Leather on the collar. field7 This is actually the jacket that Bond wore in the main battle scene of Skyfall. Couldn't resist getting it for myself as a result. field8

Sweater: J.Crew | Scarf (blue): Todd Snyder x Gap | Scarf (black): Prada

Jeans: Rag & Bone | Jacket (blue) : Banana Republic | Jacket (black): Barbour

Now, I normally say you should spend the extra dollar in getting a piece, but honestly, with field jackets, you can find some great ones for a little less at your mass retailers like Gap or Uniqlo. Penfield also makes some less expensive ones (though they're going to be more than what you find at Gap or Uniqlo).

In the case that you do want to spend the extra dollar, I'd say look for jackets from Barbour, Filson, or Pendleton, GANT, or Jack Spade, in that order. Nordstrom has a great filter where they show only utility coats, so I'd check that out as well.

Either way, a field jacket / utility coat is a great piece that you'll own for quite some time, perhaps even for the rest of your life. I recommend getting one sooner rather than later, and wear it throughout the entire year. Love the ones I have, and I don't regret a single cent in those purchases.

Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

Mark Kwak

Finally, I'm starting the outerwear series I promised you all a couple weeks ago. First on the agenda... leather jackets. leather7

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I'm a huge fan of leather jackets. What's not to like? They protect you from the wind, feel great to the touch, and of course, make you look incredibly badass.

As a result, over time, leather jackets have basically become my favorite article of clothing. I'll tell you though, the journey to get there was not easy. I don't have the most forgiving body type, so leather jackets often looked weird on me. Sleeves would be too long, shoulders would fit awkwardly, and some reason, most jackets gave me the silhouette reminiscent of an NFL linebacker.

Also, the cost of real leather jackets were always prohibitive. If I finally found one that I liked, I usually needed to take a deep breath before looking at the price tag- mainly to prepare for shock. Usually every jacket extended well beyond the $1k mark.

leather1

Over time though, I realized two things. First was that it's not easy to find a leather jacket that fits well. This is largely due to the fact that leather jackets are not easy to alter, so the flexibility of customizing your jacket disappears. The second is that it is well worth it to spend the extra buck for a nice leather jacket, because it will last you for a lifetime.

After understanding these two concepts, I decided to first, be patient with shopping for a leather jacket. The investment would be substantial, so making the right decision was crucial. Second, I needed to suck it up and just be okay with paying the money, knowing that it would be hard to get a decent leather jacket without spending a bit more. Plus, they don't really go out of style.

As a result, here are the two I ended up with:

leather6

leather5

leather4

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 Sunglasses: Ray Ban | Shirt: J.Crew | Jeans: Rag & Bone

Belt: Hugo Boss | Jacket (Black): Theory (similar)

Jacket (Brown): Levi's Made & Crafted (similar)

So this is an outerwear series in preparation for winter. You may be asking why leather jackets are part of that list. Well, leather jackets are actually appropriate year-round, and winter is no exception. Especially in cities like San Francisco, leather jackets work great during the colder months, especially when paired with a scarf and sweater.

They do well against the wind as they're not porous, they are great at insulation (depending on the type you get), and the style is not only appropriate, but encouraged during the fall and winter months.

Get one if you have the opportunity, you won't regret it.

Photo Credit: Chris Eldredge

Essential Outerwear

Mark Kwak

There are a number of reasons why I enjoy fall the most when it comes to menswear. Among those reasons, one in particular is my love of outerwear. My favorite category of clothing, hands down.

Well the good news is that there are a variety of different types of outerwear to choose from come October/November. The bad news is that this "unleashing of the bulls" per se, can get a bit overwhelming- you'll have a hard time figuring out what coat to actually buy.

To make things a little easier, I've outlined what I consider the essential outerwear list. This doesn't mean you need to own every piece on the list, but choosing a couple from here might do your wardrobe some good. In no particular order, here they are:

1. The Peacoat

2. The Field Jacket / Utility Coat

3. The Trenchcoat

4. The Leather Jacket

5. The Topcoat

6. The Cold Weather Coat

In the following weeks, I hope to delve a bit deeper into each of these jackets/coats, and let you know why I think they're awesome pieces to have in your closet. Keep an eye out, and also let me know in the comments below if there is anything specific you'd like to know about each item.

PS: I realize that I never finished by accessories series (only went through about half of the items on that list, here's part 1 , 2 , 3). That's definitely going to be intermingled with this series!

 

Barbour Jack Spade Hopper Jacket

Mark Kwak

jackbarbour2 Barbour, as many of you may know, is one of my favorite clothing brands. I'm particularly a fan of their high quality waxed cotton jackets, which I would say are really their specialty. Plus, I trust their quality because they've been doing this stuff since the beginning of ages.

In case you're not familiar with the brand, they're most well-known for three jackets in particular, which have not changed in style for quite some time- the Bedale, Beaufort (which is basically a longer Bedale), and Barbour International. All three are tried & true, and if you've been searching for a field jacket, I would highly suggest one of those options.

So recently, Barbour has been taking an effort to modernize their brand a bit, and as a result, partnering up with other companies to do just that. They're releasing collaboration pieces every now and again, and Jack Spade happens to be one of the companies they're doing it with. Recently, they released the Jack Spade Barbour Hopper Jacket, a cool twist on their Bedale-styled jackets. This is their 2nd time doing this, and I personally think this year's model is the coolest I've seen. See below:

I recently got my hands on one of these jackets, and wanted to share my thoughts about them with you today. Here it goes:

So as far as the quality is concerned, these jackets are pretty similar to other Barbour offerings. The waxed cotton, the detailing, the heft are all reminiscent of their Bedale in my opinion. There are a couple major differences though.

1. It's navy, not green like most their jackets.

2. It's actually slim cut, unlike their normal Bedale.

3. It comes with an inner vest (detachable) that has a really cool orange coloring.

4. The collar is different, it's a club collar on this one.

Here are a couple makeshift photos of me wearing the jacket

jackbarbour6   jackbarbour3

 

jackbarbour4

Now, how do I feel about the jacket?

Personally, I think it's great. It looks sleeker and more modern than all their traditional models. The silhouette is far more flattering, the colors are refreshing, and everything good about their normal jackets still remains.

Now here's my one problem- the jacket is really expensive. It's $799 at retail price, though you can get 15% off for signing up through their mailing list. This still puts the jacket at double the price of their normal models. Yes it has a vest as well, but I don't think the vest necessarily covers the margin. You're paying for brand and exclusivity if anything.

The good news is that this jacket will probably last you a decade, easy. Barbour does a great job of reproofing their jackets if you request it, so if the wax goes away completely, you can still restore it back to tip top shape.

If you have the money, and have been looking for a Barbour jacket for some time now, check this particular model out. It's pretty awesome, though a bit pricey. You can find it at Jack Spade's website.

My thoughts on layering denim jackets

Mark Kwak

I love denim jackets. I think they're really quite versatile, can be easy to wear, and are great looking pieces if fitted properly.

However, I have recently been seeing a ton of magazines and blogs showcasing denim jackets being primarily used as layering pieces, underneath a sport coat, blazer, or some sort of other formal outerwear. Every publication I come across has at least one dude wearing a light denim jacket underneath their pretty business-like getup, consisting of pieces like sport coats and slacks.

I'm going to say right now, honestly, I have a little bit of a problem with this.

As convincing as GQ, Esquire, Details, or other menswear publications may be, I personally don't think a denim jacket looks that great under a more formal outerwear piece. I mean really, if you're wearing a blazer, what are you trying to say by putting a denim jacket underneath it? Perhaps: "Hey I'm formal and ready for business, but stylish/casual enough to be cool, man!"

Now this isn't to say that denim jackets can't be used effectively as layering pieces. When I wear a denim jacket underneath a wool coat or trench coat, I feel like it works, and that I'm being quite stylish actually. However, when putting these denim jackets underneath blazers, sport coats, suits, or other more formal outerwear, I feel like it looks a bit awkward and inappropriate in most situations. If it's a formal getogether, the denim jacket really makes an inappropriate and contrasting statement. On the opposite spectrum, if it's a really casual event, why are you wearing a blazer on top of that denim jacket anyway?

Feel free to disagree with my argument, but to me, the concept of wearing denim jackets with formalwear is a bit odd and out of place. I think if you own a denim jacket, you should wear it as your main outerwear layer, or if it's cold, perhaps add a thick coat on top. But please, if you're combining your denim jacket with a blazer, I think you might be trying too hard.

Let me know what you think? Do you agree, or am I just being nit-picky here?

Levi's Made & Crafted Leather Jacket

Mark Kwak

fbI put this image up as my Facebook page cover, but I wanted to share it on the blog as well. This leather jacket, by Levi's Made & Crafted, is slowly becoming one of my favorite closet pieces. It has a buttery feel to the touch, a rich dark brown color, an incredible genuine leather smell...

What I love about it is that it's also the perfect warmth. Not too hot, not too cold. It works just as well in a hot, stuffy night club as it does outside near ocean beach.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a link for this specific jacket, but I really suggest you look into investing in a nice leather jacket yourself. It took me a while to find the right one, and also another while to accept the steep price tag, but now, I wear this thing 3-4 nights a week and have no regrets of shelling out the extra dough.

Inspired by casual summer sport coats

Mark Kwak

Source: Why-youmad

From what I’ve gathered, people are often inspired to dress better by those around them. You might have experienced this yourself. Maybe it’s the best friend who, due to his new job, is starting to wear more dress shirts and wingtip shoes, leaving you in the dust with your ratty T-shirt and ripped jeans. Or perhaps it’s your sister’s new boyfriend, whose modern hipster look makes you feel like you’re constantly missing out on some sort of hip trend.

Whatever the case, I think that observing stylish folks around you and finding the things that you like (and don’t like) about their style, might be an easy way to take cues on building your own personal style.  You’ll notice things that you are fond of, and things you wouldn’t want to be caught dead in.

Recently, I've been inspired by folks wearing casual summer sport coats and blazers. You know, the ones made of seersucker, linen, madras and the like.

To me, a sport coat is one of the most attractive pieces of clothing a man can own. However, the problem with sport coats is that they can come off pretty formal, and will get neglected from regular wear as a result. Well, the good news is that these casual summer sport coats that I'm seeing around are generally unlined, unstructured, and made with breathable fabrics, all of which are characteristics of casual wear. Thus, I'm all aboard, and am going to start wearing casual summer sport coats on a more regular basis.

A few photos to inspire you all as well:

 Source: Dressmeblog

Source: Mensthreads

Source: Union LA

Okay, that last photo is outlandish, to say the least. But either way, it shows us how these types of sport coats don't need to be taken so seriously, and can be worn in pretty casual situations (dare I say, even with a baseball cap?). Get at it fellas, I know I definitely will.