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

Filtering by Category: Shirts

V-neck or Crewneck shirts?

Mark Kwak

People often ask me whether they should purchase V neck or crewneck T-shirts, as if one is clearly superior to the other.

In all honesty, my answer to this question has changed again and again. Five years ago, I was all in on V neck T-shirts. They simply looked better, no doubt about it. You ask me that same question today and I'll probably switch my answer over to crewneck, unfortunately without a good reason as to why.

Just like anything in fashion, perspectives change, and there are times when crewneck shirts are "in," and times when V neck shirts are "in." I think right now, we might have landed on a time where crewneck T-shirts are more popular.

This being said, I believe that you should absolutely own both V neck and crewneck T-shirts at any given time. First off, neither will ever go out of style, since they're such staples in any man's wardrobe. I just ask that you keep your V necks at a more conservative depth - deep Vs can look ridiculous.

Secondly, both serve distinct purposes. For instance, crewneck T shirts look better with crewneck sweaters. V neck T shirts can work better with dress shirts. Etc. etc. etc.

So the next time you're choosing between crewneck and V neck, just know you'll likely end up having to get both in your wardrobe, so just flip a coin.... I say that half jokingly.

Update on Hucklebury

Mark Kwak

Hucklebury Label Remember several months ago when I posted about a shirt company called Hucklebury? Well, it turns out that they've been up to a lot since I last checked in with them.

They started a Kickstarter showcasing their new products, and there are some marked improvements from their previous shirts, which I still enjoyed. The Green Madison Gingham 02 Hucklebury

So here are the main differences:

1. The shirts are now made in the USA, all sourced from SF.

2. They have a 365 day guarantee, where if anything rips or is dissatisfying, they'll fix it.

3. They have a $78 price point now, for a better shirt.

Seems like a pretty legit deal to me. Check 'em out if you have a chance.  Here's their kickstarter.

 

Light blue OCBD

Mark Kwak

I personally think that the light blue oxford cloth button down (OCBD) shirt is one of the most versatile pieces you can own. Just to demonstrate, I've outfitted my personal Brooks Brothers OCDB in two ways. One being more formal, the other being more casual. Check it out. First, a casual OCBD look. I paired my shirt with a pair of shorts and sneakers to keep cool during the summer months.

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Remember that you don't want your shorts to be any longer than seen above. Keeping it right at/above the knee is a great length in my opinion.

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I love a classic white sneaker. So easy to wear.

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Roll the sleeves up and wear the shirt like a short sleeved dress shirt.

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Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Shorts: Uniqlo | Shoes: Converse

Watch: Timex | Belt: Uniqlo

 ---

And now for the more formal look. I wore this outfit to a client dinner the other day actually. Personally thought it worked quite well.

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The grey trousers / navy jacket look is actually one of my favorites.

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Colorful socks per usual.

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Can't forget your accessories (belt/watch).

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Jacket: Black Fleece | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Belt: J.Crew

Pants: Uniqlo | Watch: Timex | Shoes: Peal & Co | Socks: Paul Smith (similar)

I encourage you all to get yourself an oxford cloth button down shirt, especially in the color light blue. Dress it up, dress it down, dress it all around.  It'll work with more combinations of outfits than you can possibly imagine.

 

Product Review: Hucklebury Shirts

Mark Kwak

Visit Hucklebury's site.

One thing that I think I have too much of in my closet is shirts, more specifically, dress shirts. As a result, I haven't been all that interested in these new shirt companies popping up that claim to have the latest and greatest in "shirt-building" technology. I've stuck with my tried and true Brooks Brothers, Thom Browne, and Gitman Vintage shirts, and haven't really looked back.

However, the other day, I had the pleasure of meeting a guy named Parag, one of the founders of Hucklebury, an online shirt-maker based in San Francisco. He told me about his line of ready-to-wear dress shirts, and actually got me pretty curious. Why? Because he brought some shirts for me to look at, and my first impressions were wildly positive.

I took a couple of the shirts home (unfortunately they weren't my size, so I had to have my friend try them on) to see what I thought of them overall. Here are some pictures of the shirts I received:

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As you can see, these are the same shirts that were actually used in the Signature Style post I put up yesterday. For more pictures, check that post out.

So let's get into the review. I'm judging these shirts on five main criteria: fit, design, quality, value, and experience. See below for my thoughts.

Fit: Hucklebury offers two fits for their shirts, classic and slim. I personally took home just the slim fit, but I'll tell you, the shirts fit pretty damn well on my buddy. They have a very tailored look to them that I generally see on Made-to-Measure shirts, and also have a decent length for untucking if you're average or slightly above average height. There are darts on the back for that more tailored look, but the shirts aren't overtly slim either. I have a feeling that the fit would work well with a wide array of folks. One problem, I will say, is that they don't offer a smaller size than 15" x 32" at the moment. They told me they will be changing that soon, but just wanted to let you all know in case you're a smaller guy.

Design: Checking through their site, most of their patterns and designs are pretty solid. Nothing too flashy, nothing too outdated. Classics like gingham, stripes, checks, and solids are all in the mix, and the colors they offer are standard. One interesting note though: the classic fit shirts are offered with a spread collar, while the slim fit shirts are offered with a button down collar. You can't get it any other way. Not sure why they did this, but just wanted to let you know in case you decide to order.

Quality: I think this is where Hucklebury excels. The quality of the shirts is wonderful. These shirts are made of 100% Egyptian cotton from some of the best mills around, Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti included. The construction is rock solid, the attention to detail is awesome (check out the collars, cuffs, darts, and buttons), and clearly you can see that a lot of thought has been put into making each shirt both comfortable and durable. So in all, the fabric, stitching, and detail is top notch. No complaints here.

Value: Right now, shirts are between $110 and $120 a pop. Though these shirts might be worth the price, I feel like this is dangerous territory to play in, especially considering that there are many shirt makers out there offering made to measure stuff within the $80-$100 range. I do still think that the fabric and quality justify the price, but I can't say that these shirts necessarily have amazing value.

Experience: The website was pretty easy to navigate, the customer service was wonderful, and the process was self explanatory. No problems for me. Also, the good news is that if there are problems or concerns, you can give feedback directly to the owners, and Parag has told me that they take feedback very seriously, and have made many adjustments as necessary.

So in conclusion, do I like these shirts? Yes. Do I wish they offered more sizes, variation in collars, and cheaper prices? Yes as well.

So they're not perfect, but the superb quality and fit certainly win me over, and get my recommendation overall. If you're in need of a new dress shirt, try Hucklebury out. If anything, you're supporting a San Franciscan shirtmaker's endeavor to bring you the best quality stuff at reasonable prices.

Signature Style: Dressy Casual

Mark Kwak

So today, I'm bringing back the signature style series I started a while ago. And this time, it's all about the dressy casual look. If you work in an office environment, the term "business casual" is probably one that you're pretty familiar with. Well, dressy casual is kind of the same thing, but arguably a bit more informal. Still, the term is both narrow and wide at the same time, since it basically describes an outfit that lies somewhere between formal and casual, and that middle-ground is always up for debate.

To me, the dressy casual look can range from as casual as an untucked oxford shirt + dark denim + desert boots, to as formal as a navy blazer + white poplin dress shirt + grey slacks + black dress shoes. Suffice it to say, the term is slightly ambiguous.

Well, I've outfitted my buddy Eugene with a fairly versatile dressy casual look that can be a bit more formal or casual based on how you wear it. See below.

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Solid dress shirt, leather belt, dark chinos, and suede boots.

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If you want to go even more casual, untuck your shirt. Just make sure that the length of the shirt fits kind of like what you see above.

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Layer on a light V-neck sweater to change things up every now and again. Plus you can stay warmer if it's cold outside.

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It's summertime. To make things more casual, expose some ankle, and people will know you're a stylish guy.

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Don't like V-neck sweaters? Try a cardigan. Works just as well, if not better.

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I personally like a slim taper to my chinos or slacks. Seems to make a huge difference.

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If you have a leather banded watch, please wear it with an outfit like this. It's an extremely important cherry on top.

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And if you want to be more dressy with an outfit like this, tuck the shirt in and maybe even layer on a sport coat. 

 Shirt: Hucklebury | Belt: J.Crew | Watch: Timex | Cardigan: Etro

V-Neck Sweater: Merona | Pants: J.Crew | Shoes: Clarks

The outfit above is quite easy to reproduce. Just get a pair of well fitted chinos (or dress pants for those who need to be a bit more dressy), tuck in a solid or lightly patterned dress shirt, add some leather shoes, and you're good to go! For the win, my friends.

Some questions about dress shirts

Mark Kwak

So the other day, I got a question regarding my essential man's wardrobe post that I put up several months ago. The question was specifically around dress shirts, and I decided to try something a little different this time around by answering via audio instead of text. See below.

Q&A : 1

Trying to upgrade Simpler Man one day at a time!

Oh yeah, if you hate this approach and think this is a terrible change, let me know in the comments below, I'm all ears gentlemen.

 

Dress shirt & tie, and Hugh & Crye dress shirts

Mark Kwak

I like ties. The look and feel of putting one on just makes my day. Yes, I know I sound like a weirdo saying this, but I'm being truthful. However, the problem with ties is that they are simply too formal for most everyday situations. I work in tech, so a tie is definitely a no-no. I also live in San Francisco, which is a city that never got the memo that says it's okay to be formal every now and again. Thus, you can see my dilemma.

Well, I think I'm going to go against the status quo on this one. I'm going to try and start wearing ties on a more regular basis in this uber casual environment I live in.

I also want to make sure I ease into the process, and casualize (likely not a real word) my necktie outfits a bit, pairing ties with more casual pieces. Like below:

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Wearing wool cargo pants here (cargo pocket not really visible in the picture) and a patterned shirt, to bring the formality down a bit. 

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Another way to make things more casual is by rolling up the sleeves and going jacket-less. 

Shirt: Hugh & Crye | Tie: Drake's | Pants: Ovadia & Sons | Shoes: Peal & Co.

I also want to mention that in these pictures, I'm wearing a dress shirt by a company called Hugh & Crye. They're a relatively new business, but in perusing their site, I noticed that they have some really good looking shirts, not to mention ties and pocket squares to complement.

What interested me the most about this company was their approach to fit. With any online shirtmaker, I often hesitate to purchase because I'm afraid that the fit will be poor. My dimensions aren't necessarily cookie-cutter, so it's always a challenge. Well, the good news is that Hugh & Crye has this pretty nifty chart that gives people more options when it comes to sizing. If you're skinny and short, then there's a shirt for you. Tall and slim? No problem, got you covered.

Personally, I think the fit, right out of the box, was pretty great for me. The picture below might make it seem like there's tugging in some areas, but it's actually a bit deceiving. There's decent room in the shirt, and thus, it's comfortable.

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Altogether, I think the designs are solid, the fit is wonderful, and the online shopping experience is awesome. But of course, the main question you're all asking is how is the quality?

Well, I've only had the shirt for a week, so please take my words with a grain of salt. However, based on fist impressions, the shirt is pretty good for the price. You can usually get a shirt at Hugh & Crye for $85 ($105 for luxury), and sometimes on sale for $60. The material is comfortable, the collars are nice and structured, and the construction seems to be good overall.

I won't say that these are the best shirts I've gotten at this price point though. First off, the fabric could stand to be both more breathable and hefty. Perhaps I need to try out their other fabrics, but the shirt I have necessarily doesn't scream luxury to me. Second, the construction is good, but I find myself being a little scared to test the limit on how well the seams are stitched together, because I can't help but feel like they're delicate.

Overall though, I can't complain. Great fit, amazing customer service experience, decent quality, and solid designs? Call me in.