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

Filtering by Category: Ask me

Rapid Fire Questions #4

Mark Kwak

I realized it's been a while since I've done a rapid fire session, so for the heck of it, I thought I'd do one today. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I basically try to give you my quick opinions on a multitude of menswear questions. Remember these just are just my opinions, so take 'em or leave 'em! Here we go.

Black or white socks? I prefer black socks in most situations.

Favorite fall/winter piece? I think my favorite piece for the colder seasons is the wool top coat. So classy.

Baseball caps? I like them for sporting events, but usually won't be wearing one.

Favorite accent color? Purple or orange.

Most underrated clothing piece? The hoodie. They get a lot of flack for being too casual, but I think they can look good if they're the right type.

Uggs? Tom Brady may be a stud, but that doesn't make Uggs any cooler. Avoid at all costs.

Most overrated clothing piece? Vests. I'm a fan of them, but I just don't see that many occasions to wear one.

Wear bucks during the fall and winter? Uh, definitely yes. Maybe not white bucks though.

Any new pieces? Just got myself a grey crewneck sweatshirt and a black trench coat.

How do you feel about Nike Jordans? Love 'em, but I think there's a time and a place for them. Not a good idea to wear them to work in my opinion.

Jeans to chinos ratio? This one's not easy to answer because it really depends on the person and their lifestyle. I personally have a 2:1 jeans to chinos ratio.

How many wristbands to wear? I'm not a fan of wristband stacking. I think if you have a watch on one wrist, and a wristband on another, you're good. Maybe 2 wristbands at the most.

How often should I rotate my shoes? I suggest not wearing the same shoes two days in a row if you can. You'll lengthen the life of the shoe quite substantially by doing just that.

Will fatter ties come back? Yes, undoubtedly.

Favorite style technique these days? I'm really liking this kind of grittier look of rolling up sleeves or cuffing pants in a less than polished way. You know, like denim jacket's cuffs, or rolled up legs on chinos, etc.

Okay, rapid fire session 4 complete! Hope you got something out of this, and as always, if you have any questions or concerns, leave them in the comments section below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Frequently Asked Questions

Mark Kwak

DSC_0007Beautiful SF

First off, I just want to thank all you guys for the questions, comments, and emails that you've written in. Makes me feel real good to help out somehow.

Thought I would post up a FAQ on my webpage soon, but wanted to first put a couple of the Q&As on here in case you were interested:

What kind of camera do you use?

I actually have one of the most basic DSLRs out there, the Nikon D3100. I used the stock lens for a while, but now have upgraded to a 35mm 1.8 which I really like.

Who takes pictures of you?

Depends. Sometimes it's just me and a tripod, sometimes it's my roommate Chris, sometimes it's my brother. Whoever's willing to stand the awkwardness, really.

What platform do you host your blog on?

I currently use Wordpress as a blogging platform, but host through In Motion Hosting.

Where are you located?

I live in the awesome city of San Francisco, but am sometimes back at home in Portland, OR.

What do you do for a living?

Currently I'm working full-time at Google. I'm also trying to start a podcast on the side.

Is all the content on your site your own?

Yep. Except for the simpler woman posts, and pictures that I write the source down for, all content is mine.

How do you work with brands?

I've started to get a lot of requests from brands, but I am pretty selective in terms of what I'm willing to put on the blog. I swear to you, you'll never see me pushing a graphic T with skulls and crossbones on it. I'll also make sure to explicitly let you know if I've received a product from a brand, so you're at least aware!

Is all the clothing you wear your own?

Pretty much, yes.

Why do you post so sporadically?

Oftentimes life gets in the way, but I'm really trying to be better about it. Keep me accountable though.

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Alright that's it for now, will post these up on a FAQ page in the site soon, cheers!

Rapid Fire Questions #3

Mark Kwak

It's that time again. That time where I answer a bunch of random menswear-related questions as briefly as I can. Sorry for the brevity, but it's also kind of the point. Most of these are based on emails I get, but some of them are based on people just asking me from time to time in person.

Purely my opinions, but hey, why not put them out there. Here are my last two rapid fire question sessions: 1 , 2. Without further ado:

How many sunglasses do you own? Just 2.

No show socks or no socks? No show socks. Hygiene matters.

How do you organize your shoes? I have a shoerack on my door. It's this one.

J.Crew or Banana Republic? J.Crew, mainly for their partnerships.

Any celebrity's fashion you hate? Yes, Russell Westbrook.

Best inexpensive watch brand? Timex for quartz, perhaps Orient for automatic.

You like Fall fashion or Spring fashion? Definitely Fall. Way more interesting pieces.

Shoes or boots? Boots are great, but definitely shoes on this one. 

Most coveted watch? Patek Philippe Nautilus, too bad it's about a thousand times what I'm willing to pay at the moment. 

Any piece of clothing on your mind now? I need a pair of khaki shorts. It's 82 degrees in SF right now.

Best brand gone bad? Hugo Boss. Poor decision to outfit the Nazi Party. 

Argyle socks or striped socks? Striped- the more colors the better.

Favorite type of dress shoe? Brown calfskin wingtips.

What is this tech company that you work at? I don't know why I get so many emails about this one. I work at Google.

What's a good way to find out if your shirt sleeves are the right length? Check this out.

Wallet advice? Keep it minimal. Money clip, card holder, or small bifold. 

Alright fellas, there's my 3rd Rapid Fire. These are kind of fun actually. If you ever have questions, don't hesitate to ask! Here's my ask me page.

Till next time. Enjoy the weather out there if it's as nice as it is over here.

Ask me: wave #5 (black suits & summerwear)

Mark Kwak

In the last couple weeks, I've been getting a pretty heavy load of questions, so I truly apologize if it takes a while before I can answer all of them. I promise though, I will get to your questions eventually! And for the record, I do love getting questions, it makes me feel great to help you out (if I can) in your sartorial journey. I've noticed two particular questions that have been repeated several times, so instead of answering you all separately, here are some good representative questions that may cover yours, more or less. Note: the answers are a bit edited from what I might have written via email, mainly because it's for a broader audience this time around.

Source: ImgFave

How versatile do you think the black suit really is? Is it faux-pas to wear at less formal events than funerals and the like? I come to you with this because there are a lot of conflicting views about this floating around on the interwebs, but you've managed to maintain a down to earth approach to style, I feel. - Panu

Ah, black suits. I'm glad you asked this question.

In the menswear world, as you probably have noticed, you'll hear that black suits should be avoided and that you can only wear them for funerals, blah, blah.

So yes, the truth is that a black suit will be less versatile than a solid navy or charcoal suit. Black is an intense color, and it can come across slightly severe, leading people to avoid it in more casual situations. However, this doesn't mean that black suits aren't wearable or can't look good (or even great).

For just about any evening cocktail/loungey event where the lights are soft or dimmed, I think black suits can look wonderful, and sometimes even more appropriate than suits of other colors. Something about night time and black suits shouts the word "classy" to me. Anyhow, in those cases, I say definitely wear your black suit. Of course, just like any other suit, it should be tailored properly, and worn with confidence... but you've already heard me talk about that part ad nauseum

Also, don't feel the need to stick with the traditional white shirt and black tie, when wearing a black suit. By all means do so if the event is very formal, but otherwise, I would stick to experimenting with other colors with your shirts and ties (violets, pinks, light blues, grays, etc) to decrease your formalness. For the color of your shirt, remember to use colors that are slightly muted/faded, and less intense. You're trying to decrease heavy contrasts, since the whole reason people don't recommend black is because it's already so highly contrasted to everything else.

The trickier part is during the day, or at the office. In these cases, I would likely opt for a gray, navy, brown, or tan suit if you have the choice, but if you want to wear your black suit, just make sure the shirt and tie, once again, have more variation. Adding pops of color and different patterns tastefully to the black canvas will do wonders, and decrease the formalness of your attire.

So in all, I think some people take the whole "no black suit" thing a bit too intensely. Yes navy and gray may be more appropriate, but they can also be more vanilla as well! Wear your black suit in confidence and I guarantee you, 99% of the people won't even care about the fact that it's black, but instead will compliment you on your sharp look. After all, you are donning a suit, man.

Source: Hypebeast

I'd love to dress like you, I really like button- up shirts and cardigans, but there's something that makes me doubt I can do this every day: Where I live, summers are hot. And I mean HOT. Around 40 or 45 degrees Celsius, with around 90% humidity. What can I do about that? Sure, I can dress well next winter, but what can I do about spring and summer? Cheers from Argentina - Brian

Because it's currently fall/winter around here, most my posts have been dedicated to wearing more layers, keeping yourself warm, etc. I will certainly get into posts about cooling down with spring/summer clothing in the next few months, but I'm sorry I wasn't able to be of assistance earlier! There's a lot to talk about, but I do have some tips for keeping cool, though I can't pretend that I live in a 90% humid 45 degree place.

Here are tips that come to mind:

1. Wear more breathable fabrics. Linen, madras, chambray, seersucker, other light weight cottons... these are your go-tos. Stay away from wools, furs, and leather. Even if you layer, you'll find that by using a bunch of light, thin, breathable fabrics, you can actually keep pretty cool.

2. Keep things simple. As long as a v-neck t shirt or henley is well-fitted and free of any designs or embellishments, it could potentially be all you need on a hot summer day. Pair it with some chinos, or shorts that end slightly above your knee, and you're good to go. Don't feel the need to add complexity to your outfit just because you want to look dapper. Truth is, you won't look good if you're incredibly uncomfortable.

3. Get jackets that are unlined. More fabric means more warmth, so use very light, unlined jackets if it's cool enough to add a jacket to the mix. Remember again to wear more breathable fabrics. For example, an unstructured, seersucker jacket could be a good addition to your wardrobe during the spring or summer.

4. Wear no-show socks or no socks at all. Keep your calves and ankles cool by wearing shorter socks. Aesthetically, no-show socks are probably best. If you're daring enough, you can also go sockless in the summer to cool off. Some of you may fear that if you forgo socks, you'll stink up your shoes. A great remedy is to use Goldbond or some other powder to suck up the moisture, keeping your feet cool, and your shoes dry.

5. Summer = light colors. Wearing blacks, navys, and charcoals won't do you any good in the summer. Darker colors absorb heat, so keep colors on the lighter end of the spectrum.

6. Canvas sneakers, boat shoes, driving moccasins and are your friends. In the summer, stash away most of your thick, heavy boots. Instead, opt for lighter, more breathable shoes, like canvas sneakers, boat shoes, or driving moccasins.

7. Wear undershirts if you're going to wear a dress shirt. If you're not in the mood to wear polos or t-shirts, you can still pull off button-ups in the summertime as they are usually made of thin, lightweight fabrics. However, donning sweat stains on your button-ups doesn't do anyone any favors. Wear light V-necks (or naval striped crew necks in casual situations, I'm a fan of those) underneath your lightweight dress shirts, roll up the sleeves, and stay sweat-proof.

And lastly, remember that comfort is always important, even when it comes to being stylish. Summertime is when you're likely to be most active, moving around, and interacting with others. If you're not comfortable in your clothing, you're not really helping anyone out, including yourself.

Alright so there you have it, my thoughts on black suits and summer wear. I'm happy to hear your thoughts as well! Just leave a comment below if you'd like, and we'll keep the conversation going.  Till next time...

Rapid fire questions #2

Mark Kwak

Thought I'd bring up another round of rapid fire style questions. Compiled by my friends, answered by me. Again, these are just my personal preferences, so take 'em or leave 'em as you wish. So here we go:

To cuff or not to cuff pants?  Casual pants, yes. Dress pants, no.

Which is worse, pleats or four button suits? Four button suits.

Are you interested in women's fashion? Not particularly. A fashionable woman though... that's another story.

Favorite menswear blog recently? Menswear Dog.

Patterned or solid color shirts? Always solid first, patterned next.

Wide or slim ties? Slim. Though it generally depends on your lapel.

Favorite color of pants? Gray.

Lace up or loafer? Lace up all day.

Tie bars, worth it? Yes. They're only 15 bucks at Thetiebar.com.

Crazy patterned/colored socks... gimmick or here to stay?  I think the craziness will go down eventually, but it's just socks, not suits, so buy 'em while you can.

How do you layer if it's hot? Layer thin / breathable fabrics, and don't overdo it.

When is it douchey to wear a tie? When you wear one purely to outshine everyone else.

Most versatile color? Gray.

Least versatile color? Neon pink.

Best dressed celebrity? Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Should you own more brown or black dress shoes? Definitely brown.

Vans or Converse? Converse. Jack Purcells to be more specific.

Single or double monk shoes? I prefer double.

What fragrances do you own? YSL, Versace, Dior.

What's your favorite department store? Nordstrom for service, Barney's for selection.

Best place to buy really budget clothing? Uniqlo, Costco, and recently, JC Penney.

H&M or Forever 21? Neither.

There you go, my rapid fire for this week.  I want to elaborate on some of these points in more detail in future posts, so watch out for some of those.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think. Till next time fellas.

Rapid fire questions

Mark Kwak

Recently, a buddy of mine asked me a bunch of quick style-related questions, and I thought it would fun to share them with you. Won't put too much explanation for each answer, since they're meant to be quick, but know that these are merely my preferences, based on my own opinion, nothing more.

Biggest style pet peeve? Shirt collars hanging outside of sweater necks.

Favorite color to wear? Navy.

Jeans or slacks? Jeans.

Brass buttons on blazer cool? Not my favorite look. But cool.

Corduroy or velvet? Corduroy.

Favorite combination of two colors? Purple and grey.

Hat or no hat? No hat.

Favorite piece of clothing? My trench coat.

Worst trend? Meggings.

Best trend? Knit ties.

Fashion or style? Style.

Leather jacket or wool overcoat? Wool overcoat.

How much life should I expect out of my dress shoes? With a nice pair, 4+ years (this depends highly on the type of shoe and how often you wear them).

Traditional or contemporary style? These days, they seem to be kind of one in the same, but I'll say traditional.

Best dressed man you know? Nick Wooster.

Favorite clothing material? Leather.

Pay most for what item of clothing? Watch, then suit.

Jewelry, yes or no? Wristwatch only.

Goofy or ironic ties okay? There's a time and a place, but usually no.

How many pairs of shoes a man should own? 5 minimum in my book. (Athletic, street sneaker, dress brown, dress black, casual leather).

Whew! Tune in for the next one not too far from now. If any of you guys have a list of questions for me like this, shoot them my way via the comments below or by email!

Ask me: wave #4 (closet purges, best fitting brands, etc.)

Mark Kwak

Hi folks! Time for another edition of "ask me." First off, please continue asking away since I'm here to be your resource, and am more than happy to help out where I can. Second, really sorry if I'm sometimes a little late in answering your questions, life's been a bit hectic recently, but I promise to get to every single question I can. Here are a couple select questions that I've gotten that I thought I would share with everybody:

I’ve started to understand style a lot better in the last six months or so. Unfortunately, all the clothes that I own don’t really fit the way I want them to, according to my newfound knowledge. Do you think I should just purge everything? - Steve Great question Steve. I’ve had this dilemma in the past as well. There was a point where I looked at my closet and felt like only 1/10th of it was actually wearable anymore. This was due to two reasons. First, I had just lost about 15 pounds, and most of my clothes simply did not fit. Second, I thought it was finally time to do away with hoodies and baseball caps, since I wanted to have a bit more refined sense of style.

In these situations, I don’t think it’s a good idea to completely purge your wardrobe at once, as it takes a lot of time, effort and money to recoup from something like that. Instead, I would do a basic purge of items that you know you won’t wear anymore, and then start replacing one piece at a time. If you have a coat that you’re not a big fan of, go ahead and buy another one that you actually do like, and replace your old one. Keep going on like this once in a while, when you happen to be shopping, or have a little more disposable income, and in no time you’ll have a wardrobe you actually enjoy, and one you’ll cherish for the long haul. In the meantime, try and be creative! Mix your old clothes in with the new, and create new combinations of outfits. You might find that your old clothes actually look pretty great in the right context.

Thanks for the blog man, it's awesome! So my question is, do you think that dressing really too well as a man might give off the impression that you might be gay or metro even if you're not? I want to dress better, but I don’t want to give ppl the wrong idea. – Brian

First off, be confident in your sexuality man! If you’re straight and you know it, that's all that matters. Plus, who says that a straight man can't look dapper too?

Now that being said, I think I know where you're going with that question. There is certainly a point when someone can look too polished, too clean, and too meticulous with their clothing. This can potentially give off a sort of non-hetero impression to others, not that there is anything wrong with that. Also, going skinny as opposed to slim, wearing flamboyant colors and patterns, and showing a lot of skin can all contribute to you looking more “metro” as well.

For that reason, if this is very important to you, and you want to maintain a clean, good look while still having no one question your straightness, I’d stick to more classic colors and patterns, wear slim-fitting but not skin tight clothing, and exercise proper skin discretion (not wearing shorts & shirts that are too short). Also, if that's not enough, maybe adapt a more rugged style, wearing more Barbour and Filson, and less Margiela and Rick Owens.

As long as you do those types of things and remain confident, you should be just fine. Also, nothing wrong with people asking if you’re gay because you wear nice clothes, since it might be more of a compliment to your style than anything else. We all know gay men can dress well.

Can I ask what your go-to clothing companies are in terms of fit? I think I have a build similar to yours and I usually can't find very well fitting clothes. - Young

Sure man, not a problem. In terms of pure fit, I do have some companies in mind, though I will say it's not so cut and dry due to possible inconsistencies in fit even within the same brand. Also, I've made a larger habit of altering my clothes recently. I never used to do it before, but now that I know how effective and cost-efficient it is, I try to alter anything that I feel doesn't fit well, regardless of brand.

I would say my best fitting brands would be the following, in price-point order:

1. Ben Sherman

2. Theory

3. Black Fleece

4. Band of Outsiders

5. Thom Browne

Hope that helps!

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Alright fellas, keep asking away! And as always, stay dapper.