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

Filtering by Tag: allen edmonds

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: My picks

Mark Kwak

I'm a fan of Nordstrom. They exist in almost all major towns within the U.S., usually showcase excellent products, and also offer an almost unbeatable return policy. My only issue with them is that their products are often pretty expensive at retail price.

Also, they rarely hold any sales throughout the year, making it difficult to shop there regularly. I believe they only have 2-3 weeks out of the entire year where they sell items at a discount. The half yearly men's sale and the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Well great news, my friends! The latter sale, which is also their biggest sale of the year, just started today, and there's plenty of stock to choose from.

I've decided to curate some of my favorite pieces from the sale for you to see. Full transparency: some of these are still pretty damn expensive, though oftentimes worth it.

Allen Edmonds Strand: $229.90

I own these, and love them. Great time to pick up these beautiful and classic shoes.

Dockers Alpha Fogwash Chinos: $44.90

I love the fit and quality of Dockers' Alpha Khakis. Definitely worth a try.

Red Wing Beckman Boot: $199.90

I own these boots as well. They're amazing, and definitely worth it at this price. They will be slightly uncomfortable in the beginning just FYI.

Clarisonic Mia 2: $149.90

I use a Clarisonic Mia almost everyday in the shower. TMI? Maybe. Anyhow, yes, even dudes can use this thing, and it's worth a try. It's like a Sonicare toothbrush for your face.

Threads for Thought Varsity Jacket: $49.90

I've been pretty interested in the Varsity jacket look as of late. Here's one that won't cost you an arm and a leg.

Magnanni Double Monk: $209.90

If you're in the market for double monks, these might be worth a try. They look great in my opinion, and Magnannis are usually really comfortable from my experience.

Billy Reid Crewneck Sweater: $96.90

I really want this sweater myself. Not sure what's so appealing about it to me, but it seems to be stuck in my mind.

Wolverine Emerson: $294.90

Wolverine is one of my favorite bootmakers. And they don't disappoint with this rugged, high quality model.

Wallin & Bros. Sweater: $45.90

A slightly more affordable sweater than the Billy Reid one above.

Allen Edmonds Park Avenue: $229.90

One of the most classic shoes you'll ever find. If you need a pair of solid brown or black dress shoes, get these.

Billy Reid Leather Jacket: $999.90

I know, I know. It's a lot of money. However, I can't have one of these lists without a solid leather jacket. So here it is.

Allen Edmonds Dalton: $259.90

Yet again, I own these boots too. You've probably seen them on the blog before. Worth every penny.

Jack Spade Briefcase: #249.90

I think my boss owns this bag, and to me, it looks so elegant and simple. If I didn't have enough bags myself, I'd pick it up.

Rag & Bone Colorblock Sweater: $144.90

Love the look of this sweater. Though it is admittedly expensive.

The North Face Apex Jacket: $99.90

A really classic, solid jacket for the fall. Only downside is that everyone has one of these.

Calvin Klein No Show Socks: $12.90

You know how I feel about no-show socks.

Chuck Taylor Low Sneakers: $39.90

Classics.

Burberry London Navy Trench: $864.90

Trench coats are probably my favorite type of clothing. Burberry trench at that? You're in for a classic. And yes, I know it's not cheap by any measure.

There you go! My very long list of Nordstrom Anniversary Sale picks. Even if none of these appeal to you, check the sale out for yourself. You might find a thing or two that catches your eye.

Cheers, and happy Friday.

Wingtips

Mark Kwak

alden brown I think every man should own a pair of wingtips.

For those of you who do not know what wingtips are, the picture above should give you a good idea. Basically, it's a shoe that has a wing-shaped design on it that creates a sort of "W" on the front of the shoe. Most wingtips end near the ball of the foot, but there's also a version of the wingtip known as the longwing, where the "wing" circles around the entirety of the shoe.

Anyhow, I personally think wingtips are awesome. They're classy, but not boring. They walk the line perfectly between formal and casual. Basically they are versatile shoes that can add that much-needed spice to your potentially boring solid black and brown shoe collection.

Personally, my favorite wingtips are made by American shoemakers Alden & Allen Edmonds. The Allen Edmonds McAllister is a fine choice, and can sometimes be found on sale at Nordstrom, and the Alden Long Wing Blucher is also a classic that will likely never go out of style. I know, they're expensive, but I personally splurged on a pair and have zero regrets. Perhaps you're contemplating doing the same?

The summer sales begin...

Mark Kwak

 

Looks like retailers are looking to shed their summer pieces already. Crazy considering that summer hasn't even really started yet, right? Some sales have begun, and there are more to come. Here are just a few notable ones:

1. Barney's: Up to 60% off.

2. Billy Reid: Up to 50% off.

3. Brooks Brothers Black Fleece: 40% off all.

4. J.Crew : 40% off summer pieces.

5. Paul Smith: 30% off, but 50% with coupon SS13SALE20EUS today and tomorrow.

6. GANT: 40% off a lot of their items.

7. Allen Edmonds: Tent sale, up to 50% off select items like the Strand & Park Ave. Catch is that it's by phone or local only.

8. Nordstrom: The Half-yearly men's sale is on now!

I'll probably post more as the days go on, but get at it while you can! Some of these sales come really only twice a year.

What am I wearing 3.24.13

Mark Kwak

Haven't done a "what am I wearing" post in over a month, so I thought I'd snap some quick photos today in light of the beautiful weather. Today, I wore a fairly interesting sweater that I haven't worn in months. It's by Burberry, and I got it on clearance a while back. Back then, I thought since it was 100% cashmere, made by Burberry, an amazing color, and on massive sale, why not?

Turns out I couldn't get used to the weird neck shape, since it skirted the line awkwardly between V neck and shawl collar. Thus, the sweater ended up taking a back seat behind my normal shawl collar cardigans and V neck sweaters.

However, taking it out from the back of my closet, I realized it really didn't look that bad. In fact, the design was kind of refreshing, since it's not as cookie-cutter as my other knits. I paired the sweater with some dark tan chinos, a lightly patterned white shirt, and brown leather boots. Check it out:

burberry4It may be Spring now, but I'll continue to wear my boots through the summer. I don't care what others say.

burberry1I have a hard time finding decent fitting chinos. However, I recently discovered these Alpha Khakis by Dockers, and I have to say... I really like them.

burberry3The incongruent neck design has definitely grown on me.

burberry2

Sunglasses: Oliver Peoples | Shirt: Theory | Sweater: Burberry

Belt: Perry Ellis | Chinos: Dockers | Watch: Timex | Shoes: Allen Edmonds

I have to say, the feel of cashmere on the skin is pure pleasure. If you don't already have a 100% cashmere sweater, I would highly suggest getting one. Looks and feels like a million bucks.

Alright fellas. Till next time.

Signature style: the suit

Mark Kwak

Source: StyleBistro

Several weeks ago, I launched a series called Signature Style, where the goal was to showcase some very particular looks that might help you discover, or at least think about, your own signature style. The first two posts in the series covered some very distinct looks. The first being the Thom Browne look, or as I coined it, American Schoolboy Prep, and the second being a more flamboyant one called Dandy Dapper.

Well today, I'm going to tone it way down, and introduce a style you're all probably familiar with. An outfit that will never get old, and will always remain acceptable: the formal suit.

We all probably know at least one individual who dons this signature style. The buddy who goes straight to his suit when an occasion isn't purely casual. Think Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother (yeah, yeah, I know he's just a character).

Here's my friend Joe in what I would consider one of the quintessential menswear looks of all time: the white shirt, brown shoes, plain navy suit look. Dashing, huh?

Joe9This outfit is simultaneously classic and modern. Classic in that the outfit combination has stood the test of time, modern in that the fit and finish belongs here in the now.

Joe6

Though navy suits work for both day and night, I think that they're most attractive when they're reflecting the moonlight.

Joe2

The details matter. Adding a pocket square and tie bar upgrades this already fantastic outfit substantially.

Joe5

It all boils down to fit. Some might argue that a slight tug on the middle button is a good thing, or a bad thing, but I personally like an ever so slight tug.

Joe1

Dark brown is my favorite color to complement a navy pant. Oh, by the way, don't skimp on footwear when you're in a suit.

Joe4

Make sure to add a classic leather strap watch to an outfit like this. I personally believe in a situation like this, it's as important as the suit itself.

 Suit: J.Crew | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Tie: Theory | Tie Bar: Thetiebar

Pocket Square: Joseph A Bank | Watch: Timex | Shoes: Allen Edmonds

I think there's nothing wrong with being the guy who suits up at any chance he gets. I mean, there's a clear reason for why the suit is in the highest echelon of menswear. It's a symbol of put-togetherness, of class, and of masculinity. It doesn't necessarily have to be part of your signature style, but I would always encourage people to take their suit for a spin every now and again. It feels good, and looks great.

As many have said before- take advantage of being a man. Wear a suit.

Signature Style: Dandy Dapper

Mark Kwak

Source: Thatgrapejuice.net

Last week, I launched a series called Signature Style, where the goal was to showcase some very particular looks that might help you discover, or at least think about, your own signature style.

Today, we're checking out a look that is very common to the world of "dandyism."  A world of colorful tweeds, suspenders, paisley, fedoras, and lapel flowers. Again, like the Thom Browne look we discussed last week, this one probably isn't for the conservative or risk-averse.

This particular style fascinates me, and I actually love it, even if I don't sport it myself. I see it occasionally on the streets, but it's in fashion magazines or albums of Pitti Uomo that I really see it in action.

I always wonder what brings people to wear this type of attire. Celebrity figures like Andre 3000, Common, or Sean Combs regularly sport these types of outfits, and I'm finding that more and more people are following suit.  Maybe it's in order to exercise freedom of expression, letting everyone know that anything and everything is fair game. Or perhaps it's to push the envelope in menswear a bit, giving a forceful middle finger to the casual T-shirt and jeans look that we're all so familiar (and bored) with.

Either way, I wanted to at least bring it to your attention so that you can decide for yourself whether it's a style you'd like to emulate or not. Here's my buddy Ron sporting the look with ease:

Ron7

 I wanted to make this outfit pop by incorporating many patterns. Some might say it's too much, but in many ways, that's kind of the point. 

Ron10

Accessories galore. This is where a man can really show his individuality. Bracelets, colorful socks, hats, pocket squares, bow ties. All fair game.

Ron8

The key to making an outfit like this look good is largely about fit. It's still #1.

Ron4

If you look closely, you'll see there's a lot of strategy employed in the accessory colors. Blues, reds, and yellows are carefully matched from shirt to bowtie to jacket. 

Ron5

More than anything, a look like this really boils down to confidence. Simply know that you're looking good, and you're a majority of the way there.

 Hat: Nordstrom | Shirt: J.Crew | Jacket: J.Crew | Bowtie: Bloomingdales

Pocket Square: Turnbull & Asser | Watch: Timex | Trousers: J.Crew

Socks: Merona | Shoes: Allen Edmonds

Some of you may dislike the outfit, some of you may be fascinated with it. To provoke that type of polar reaction is actually kind of my point, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to style it for you. Personally, I think the guy looks pretty dapper.

One thing to remember is that even when wearing this type of clothing, you should pay attention to the way patterns & colors work with each other. In this particular outfit, each piece was carefully chosen to either complement, or purposely contrast other pieces in the outfit. The pocket square has hints of red that work with the bow tie, the bow tie has hints of blue that work with the gingham, the belt and shoes have a red tint that complement the bow tie, etc.

Anyhow, there's my second look for this series. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Cheers.

 

Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Mark Kwak

Once in a while, I'd like to review a product for you guys on this blog. Sometimes, it might be my initial reactions towards a product I just purchased, and other times I'll go over something that has been part of my outfit rotation for some time. Today, I'll start with a fairly new purchase: a pair of shoes by the famous American shoemaker Alden. Alden is one of the few remaining true American shoemakers. They manufacture in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and have been at it since 1884. The pair I got is one of their most classic designs, known commonly as the long wing blucher (LWB). The design is fairly similar to that of a normal wingtip, the only difference being that the wing design extends from the front of the shoe all the way to the back. Here are some pictures below:

alden lwb4

Alden Made in the U.S.A.

alden lwb1

See how the wingtip design extends all the way throughout the shoe?

alden lwb2

You can tell the stitching on the welt ends at a point near the heel.

alden lwb3

Black leather sole with rubber at the edge of the heel.

alden lwb5

Wearing the shoes around the house.

alden lwb7

You can get these in many shades of brown as well.

alden lwb8

Pretty handsome shoe in my opinion.

alden lwb6

Outfit I'm wearing with the shoes.

Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Sweater: Old Navy | Watch: Omega

Bracelet: Unbranded | Jeans: Tellason | Shoes: Alden

Okay, so let me go into the review.

Construction: These shoes are solidly constructed. First off, all Alden shoes are Goodyear welted, meaning that the upper portion of the shoes are sewn onto a welt that also attaches to the sole. This is definitely one of the highest forms of shoe construction you can find, and Alden's been doing it brilliantly for generations. The other great thing about Goodyear welting is that it allows you to easily resole the shoes when your soles start to fall apart. Alden has a great policy where you can send in your old shoes to them, and for around $100, they can refinish the entire shoe, get you a new sole, and have them back to you looking altogether brand new.

Another thing to add is that the attention to detail is top notch, probably because these shoes are hand-made domestically. I can't find any flaws in stitching, lining, broguing, or just about any other construction element of the shoes. Suffice it to say, I'm happy with the overall quality.

Comfort: Comfort is surprisingly good. When comparing these to my Allen Edmonds, the Aldens are actually more comfortable even out of the box. I do believe they still require some breaking in of the sole, as the sole is a bit stiff from the get-go, but for the most part I think comfort isn't going to be a problem. Might also have to do with the fact that the last (the shape/mold of the shoe) is a bit roomier than my other pairs of shoes.

Design: Truth is, I don't think these shoes are very sleek or sexy. The last that these shoes are on, called the Barrie last, is slightly chunky, and the longwing design takes a bit of getting used to at first. For that reason, some might consider the design to be too old or boring. However, I don't think these shoes are trying to be some sort of modern chic cocktail-hour shoe (like many English or Italian shoes might be).

They're designed to be a daily workhorse of sorts, with a signature American look & feel to them. The chunkier sole helps support your foot better, the rock solid leather defends your foot from the elements, and the long wingtip design is a classic design that's been loved and worn for ages. I personally love the look, hence me purchasing, but can see why others might feel like the shoes aren't handsome enough to buy.

Material: The materials used are very high in quality. I can already tell that the sole and uppers feel hefty by touch, and will stand up to daily wear and tear with ease. Good news is that leather is still soft, despite being so durable, making the shoes a pleasure to wear.

Price: The price of most Alden shoes will be between $400 and $600 (when made with calf-skin). Clearly, they're expensive, and not something to be taken lightly. To add, Aldens don't go on sale. I was lucky enough to find a loophole and get some on sale via some menswear forums, but I likely won't have an opportunity like that again. So the question begs, are they worth the asking price?

Well, it depends. To some, the price increase from a pair of Allen Edmonds might not be worth it. They're constructed similarly and might even source their leather from the same place. I do know they use the same cordovan leather. However, I do think that the attention to detail on these shoes is much higher than any of my Allen Edmonds. The shoes feels sturdier, and thus, looks like they'll last longer. They're also more comfortable. So to me, the increase in quality is evident, and sometimes I'm willing to shell out some more dough as a result.

Just be aware that the law of diminishing returns is certainly playing a factor at this point. Let's say these were almost two times as expensive as my Allen Edmonds. Are they two times as good? No. Are they, in my opinion, maybe 10-20% better? Probably. So the question really becomes, are you willing to pay double the price for a slight increase in construction and quality (and design for those who like it)?

Conclusion: Overall, the shoes are constructed with the highest quality materials, feel rather comfortable even from the get-go, and are clearly strong enough to be in the game for the long haul. The look of these shoes can take a little getting used to (as I had to), but they are a classic Alden design- something that will likely never go out of style. The asking price is steep, but could be worth it for some of you. For those who need to save some money, stick with Loake, Charles Tyrwhitt, or Allen Edmonds. If you like any of their designs and have the money though, I highly recommend a pair of Aldens. You're guaranteed excellent quality and construction.

Here are some links if you'd like a pair for yourself:

Unionmade

Alden of Carmel

J.Crew