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

Filtering by Category: Accessories

Style in what you carry, not just what you wear

Mark Kwak

Today, let's just assume that you know everything it takes to look good. You've read every menswear blog, magazine, and article in the world, and have developed the perfect wardrobe specifically for you. Well now that you're playing in the big leagues, perhaps it's time to step it up to the next level and focus on the details. Let's talk about not just what you're wearing, but what you're carrying on you!

Sure, most people won't ever get a chance to see the things you carry, like your wallet, phone or keys. But what's important is that you'll see them. Pretty much every single day of your life, actually. So doesn't it make sense to invest a little more in the things you carry? Wouldn't it be nice to crack a smile every time you pull out that awesome-looking handmade leather wallet from Portland, Oregon?

If you feel like we're speaking the same language, here are some tips on how to jazz up your "everyday carries."

1. Keychain: If you live in an apartment/house, drive a car, or even just have a mailbox, then you have keys. Time to put those keys on a half decent keychain. Mostly this is for aesthetic pleasure, but it does make a difference. This one is mine and I'm a huge fan of it. It almost makes carrying around my keys a bit of a pleasure. If you drink beer as well, I'd recommend attaching a nice looking bottle opener to the chain. This one's pretty cool.

2. Phone: I think statistics say that the modern American spends more time on their phone than they do on everything else in their life, combined. Just playing, but you get the point. You use it often, so put a nice case on it to not only protect it, but also make it look better. My favorite materials to case phones in are wood, leather, and metal. I personally use the leather case that Apple carries in-store. It's expensive, but I love it.

3. Wallet: I recommend keeping your wallet slim, it just looks better all around. Minimalism, man! For that reason, card holders like these (I have this one from Everlane) or money clips do the job the best. The days of chunky wallets are over, so do yourself a favor and ask for a nice card holder this Christmas! By the way, you can never go wrong with black or brown leather.

4. Bag: I talk a little bit about it in this previous article, but having a stylish bag is a big plus. I can go into this topic in quite a bit of detail, but I'll keep it simple here. If you're wearing a backpack, simplicity and slimness are the names of the game. A pretty inexpensive option is Herschel. I think Herschel makes some nice looking bags that hold up well over time.  If you're going with a messenger or single strap bag, think about canvas or leather as the primary material. I've preached Filson a million times before, but I'll continue to tout it here. There are so many other makers of good bags out there, so here's a link to someone who's done far more research to help you out (though this is more specifically briefcases).

Upgrade your "everyday carry game" my friends. In the slight chance that someone notices your wallet or keychain, you might even get a compliment or two. Stay awesome and eat plenty of turkey y'all.


Mark Kwak

Wristwear has been all the fad lately. More and more, I'm seeing guys wear stacks on stacks on stacks of bracelets extending from their wrists up to potentially their mid forearms. It's become, to some extent, commonplace.

How do I feel about this trend? Well, I'm a bit torn. Do I like the aesthetics of a wristband or two on a guy's arm? Yeah I do. Do I think that men of class (a la George Clooney, Don Draper) would choose to wear a wristband (apart from their watch)? Probably not. Would I ever wear a colorful wristband to a board meeting? Absolutely not.

As many of you guys know, I'm a huge fan of wristwatches, and feel that all men should go out right now and purchase a watch if possible. However, wristbands/bracelets are a bit more flashy and/or casual, since they serve no functional purpose. They're purely for aesthetics, and for this reason, I don't find them to be essential in anyway.

That being said, they do add a bit of spice to any outfit, and you can especially benefit during the Spring and Summer when your arms are exposed. So here's my advice. If you don't always need to look professional in your day-to-day, and enjoy the aesthetics of a bracelet or two, go for it! But here are my suggestions.

1. One or two : Don't be one of those guys who wears fifteen bracelets on both wrists, trying to make a giant statement about how you're the most fashionable guy this side of the Mississippi. Stick with a single bracelet or two. I personally like wearing just one on the wrist I wear my watch on.

2. Leather + metal : I think fabric bracelets are cool, and they often come in a multitude of colors and patterns. However, they're not all that versatile. Unless you have a giant wristband collection, I would stick with a solid colored leather bracelet with maybe some metal accents.

3. Brown , gray, black : Again, there are tons of colors out there for wristbands. However, if you want to stick with owning only a couple, then I suggest going for a bit of a mute color, like brown, gray, or black. This way, whether you're dressed up or down, your wristband will remain appropriate.

Put This On has a good list of some wristbands for you if you're interested. Personally, I like Miansai or Tod's bracelets the most, but they can be a bit prohibitively expensive.

Anyhow, cheers, and happy Monday!



The Wristwatch - Part 2

Mark Kwak

Ages & ages ago, I wrote a fairly long post about wristwatches. It was originally supposed to be part of a 3-part series, but as many of you may know, I'm a lot worse at keeping up with these things than I hope to be. Sorry! Well, today I aim to continue that series... better late than never right? Just to recap, the last post was about answering the question: what do I need a watch for?

Today is question #2: Which watch should I get? A loaded question if there ever was one.

There are many different types of wristwatches out in the market today. In fact, it's a bit ridiculous how many different styles there are to choose from. Think about it: small, big, dark, bright, on steel, on leather, square, rectangle, gold... you get the point.

Well to me, I think the question of "which watch to get" depends on several factors.

1. How many watches do you intend to have?

2. What is your lifestyle like?

3. How much are you willing to pay?

These three questions will shape what watch you could/should end up with if you ever decide to buy one. So let's venture a bit through these questions.

1. How many watches do you intend to have?

I personally am a 1-2 watch person. The simplicity is nice. I will say, I do know there are giant watch collectors out there that want to have 20 different types to match any given situation. In the case that you're a big watch collector, I can't really help you as much, mainly because you should just get what you like, and whatever fills the holes of your collection. Don't have a chronograph yet? Get one. Have a white faced watch but need a black one? Done.

Well, for the rest of you who don't own any watches, first think about simply looking for one all-arounder. There's something nice about having just one, especially because you don't have to really think about what you're going to strap to your wrist every morning. Now if you already have one watch, I will say that there's something great about adding just one more to the collection, keeping one for more dressy occasions, and one for more everyday situations. This way, all bases are covered.

2. What is your lifestyle like?

If you live a rough and tumble lifestyle, where you're constantly putting your hands and body in dirt, then your watch will need to be rugged. For others where the most rugged activity you engage in is a boardroom meeting, perhaps your watch doesn't need to be waterproof to 300 meters and able to take a massive beating.

This factor will usually determine what band you wear (rubber, steel, leather) and what the overall style of the case will look like (slim and streamlined vs chunky and solid).

3. How much are you willing to pay?

As you may know, watches can range from anywhere $5 to $500,000.  Absurd, I know, but it's just the nature of the game. Only you can decide what you're willing to pay for a wristwatch. I personally would spend more than the average person because watches are like a hobby of mine. I respect the work that goes into a nice wristwatch, and the significance of a good timepiece, so I'll probably be willing to splurge a couple grand on a watch I can have forever.

On the other hand, there are those who aren't comfortable with spending over $50 on a watch just yet. The choices between me and a person like that are completely different.

Now, all of that being said, it basically leads me to the conclusion that I cannot make everybody happy when it comes to answering the question: which watch should I get? However, hopefully it helps you think about what type of watch you're in the market for, and what you're willing to spend to get it.

Just so that I don't leave you hanging though, I will say that I do have some favorite watches in particular price ranges. All different use-cases (some are dressier, some are more utilitarian), but they are awesome in design and function from my perspective. Here they are, in a ton of different price ranges:

$25-$75 : Timex Easy Reader Black ,  Seiko 5 , Timex Weekender

$75 - $150 :  Timex for JCrew , Casio G Shock 7900 , Orient Mako

$150 - $300 : Citizen Nighthawk , Seiko Diver

$300 - $600 : Hamilton Khaki Field , Tissot PRC 200

$600 - $1200 : Archimede Pilot , Tag Heuer Aquaracer , Stowa Antea

$1200 - $3000 : Nomos Tangente , Cartier Tank Solo , Baume et Mercier Classima

$3000 - $6000 :  Omega Speedmaster Professional, Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso

$6000 - $12,000 : Rolex Submariner , IWC Portuguese , Rolex Daytona

There you have it. Watch out for the 3rd part of this series in 2016! Just playin'.

Having just one accessory

Mark Kwak

I think too often, we approach accessories as items we can easily interchange. Magazines and fashion blogs are constantly pushing people to buy a variety of different accessories, just so they can wear one color or fabric on a given day, and something completely different the next day.

Think wristbands, or watches. Sunglasses and scarves. Changing between different types day by day.

Well today, I feel the need to say quite the opposite of all these magazines and fashion blogs. Personally, I'm a fan of a person who consistently wears the same accessories, and ultimately, through repetition, really makes them his own.

I'll give you an example. Ever since I was a little kid, my father wore the same wrist watch day in and day out. This accessory of his became a small, but tangible part of who he was to me. If I saw him without his watch anytime our family went out somewhere, something was definitely a little weird.

One of my roommates is another example. He wears one pair of sunglasses, and hasn't even thought about getting another. "I have one that looks and works well, what's the point of getting another one?" I kind of agree.

Anyhow, I think it's refreshing to see a person wear their tried and true accessories over and over again, without making any changes. As long as they're confidently worn, and out of your choice.

Here are the accessories I think make for good "one-only" pieces:

1. Sunglasses. When I think Tom Cruise, I think Ray-Ban aviator. Him wearing another pair (which I'm sure he does) just doesn't seem right.

2. Eyeglasses. One of my buddies alternates between two glasses. However, he used to wear just one type before. I like his image wearing just the original pair.

3. Watches. I personally have two watches I'd like to rotate between, but there's something really cool about someone who just wears one watch everyday. As long as it's relatively conservative in appearance, why not?

4. Wallet. Don't really see the point of alternating between a bunch of wallets since it's in your pocket most of the time.

5. Keychain. Same argument as wallet.

Sure, some people like to rotate between different types out of each of these accessories because it can be boring to have the same one all the time. I don't disagree with you! Nonetheless, I'm saying there is some virtue to just having one.

My suggestion is to get a worthwhile, high quality version of each of these accessories, and stick with just one of them. People will associate the accessory with you, and there will be a sentimental aspect to that said accessory over time.

Plus it makes your life simpler. You'll be a simpler man. Yep I went there.


Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Mark Kwak

You know, I started this accessories series several months ago and never really got to finishing it. Man, I'm terrible. Well, here I am to continue it at least.

In case you forgot, I was simply going over all the different accessories that a man can wear. Before I started the series, I had this notion that men simply do not wear accessories (save watches). Turns out there are a ton of accessories guys wear, and I wanted to let you know my thoughts on all of the different types. Today we go over accessories that go around your neck: necklaces, scarves, and ties.

Okay, necklaces.

Necklaces used to be huge. Remember those shell necklaces everyone wore in middle school, or perhaps the black laced necklaces with some sort of emblem on it? Well, today, necklaces aren't as big a deal, and in fact, I don't recommend folks wearing one unless it has some sort of sentimental value.

Are you a devout Christian that wears a cross necklace? Or a guy whose mother gave you a pure silver necklace when you graduated college? In these cases, I'm all for wearing necklaces. Otherwise, I'm going to say don't do it. For that reason, I'm not going to even put any recommendations here, sorry.


Scarves are one of my favorite accessories. However, they are really only appropriate during one, maybe two seasons a year. For this reason, I wouldn't go too crazy on buying a ton of scarves. Get a couple high quality ones, and you're good to go.

For the one or two you get, I recommend going cashmere. It'll be the warmest and most comfortable option. Also, I recommend going with a fairly conservative color like gray, black, navy, or brown. This will ensure your ability to match it with all different kinds of outfits. I'm particularly a fan of some of these below:

Here's one I own that I'm a big fan of from Black Fleece:

Oh and of course Burberry scarves. They can be a bit pretentious, but getting it in a more muted color like black/gray could be cool:

Either way, get a couple nice scarves and you'll be set for the winter, warm and toasty.

Ties. Ah, this could be a section all on its own. And it probably will be one day. Neck ties are cool, and they show off your character more than you think. If you have the opportunity to wear a tie, make sure to put some thought into it, and try to complement the rest of your outfit.

A couple quick rules to keep in mind:

If you're wearing a jacket, try to match the width of your tie to the width of your lapel at the widest spot. These days, a 2" 3/4 inch tie is a pretty good width to have.

Also, to make your tie look a bit sleeker, wear it with a dimple, perhaps a tie clip when appropriate, and find the right knot for your look (four-in-hand is my favorite).

I think a man will usually end up with a bunch of ties in their life, but here are a couple essentials in my book.

1. The black tie.

2. The wool tie.

3. The striped tie.

4. The pindot tie.

If you want to add a couple more, I'd suggest getting some more solid colored ties outside of the black one, and perhaps a knit tie. Just typing this stuff up, I realize that it may take a couple more posts to really delve into ties.... So that's what I'll do instead.

Anyhow, when people are interacting with you, they're looking at your face, so make sure you keep your neck-wear game up. These accessories should help immensely. Cheers.

Another quick point for buying more expensive sunglasses

Mark Kwak

I saw this off a bullet point on a "how to be a man" list published by Goldman Sachs Elevator, a twitter handle that satirically portrays the conversations that occur in a... well, Goldman Sachs elevator. Here it is: Buy expensive sunglasses. Superficial? Yes, but so are the women judging you. And it tells these women you appreciate nice things and are responsible enough not to lose them.

This quote reminds me a lot of my recent post about sunglasses, and why buying nicer sunglasses might be worth it. Perhaps the quote above might persuade you a bit more if my argument isn't enough, though it is a bit pompous. What else to expect from Goldman Sachs dudes, right?


Accessories 3: Bracelets, Bags, Belts

Mark Kwak

To continue the accessories series I started a couple weeks ago, today we go over the three B's: bracelets, bags, and belts. Let's get started. I generally don't wear bracelets, but I've started to see a definite resurgence in men wearing stylish bracelets within the past few months. I've also seen people take this social acceptance of men's bracelets as full-out permission to wear fifteen different types of bracelets at one time. I certainly don't think you should go that far, but I do think that wearing a bracelet or two can help add some character to your daily outfits.

The types of bracelets that I like to see are generally made of leather, but I've definitely seen some really cool metal, string, and rope ones as well. Miansai is probably my favorite bracelet maker right now, but I've definitely seen some nice bracelets come from a variety of other more popular brands, like Ferragamo, or Brooks Brothers.

Here are a couple leather ones that I find pretty cool:

The anchor hook bracelet by Miansai is also a favorite of mine:


Next, bags. I've mentioned this before, but I think that a man should really make sure to own at least one bag for his daily commute and one bag for his travels. Usually, my favorite combination is one briefcase and one duffel. Sure there are also other types of bags out there, like roller carry-ons, backpacks, messenger bags, etc. but for the sake of this article, I'm sticking with my two main preferences.

With regards to briefcases, I'm generally a fan of black or brown leather briefcases. Slim in profile, simple in design. And I'm not talking about those old school boxy briefcases from back in the eighties and nineties. I'm talking about briefcases that can take a bit of a beating, look a little worn in, and that you can perhaps get a strap for to sling over your shoulder. Like this:

As for duffles (or duffels; can't seem to figure out what the right spelling is), I like canvas bags the most. They're rugged, durable, and look amazing. Of course, Filson is my go-to for canvas duffles, but I also really like the ones Everlane makes.


When it comes to belts, I suggest you to own at least three major belts. One black leather one, one brown leather one, and one casual belt made from any fabric as you see fit.  For example, a good casual option is a braided/woven belt. Maybe not frayed at the end like this one below, but you get the picture.

Also, keep your belts relatively subdued if they're dress belts. Overtly branded belts like below are no good in my opinion:

So there's the 3 B's: bracelets, bags, and belts. Keep a watch out once again for the last couple entries of this series soon. Cheers!