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

Filtering by Tag: bloomingdales

My Fall Wish List

Mark Kwak

It's wishlist time. I've started to buy clothing again so there are a ton of fall/winter items on my list that I've been drooling over. Also, the fact that it's getting pretty cold in San Francisco (oh what a wimp I've become...), means that most of these items are actually relevant again. For anyone who has mounds of cash just sitting around, please feel free to buy me any of the pieces below:

John Varvatos Star Topcoat

There is something so incredibly classy about topcoats. They are wonderful complements to a formal or semi-formal getup, and keep you really warm and toasty. I own a topcoat already, but have been thinking about upgrading, since topcoats are very much investment pieces. I came across this one from John Varvatos on the Nordstrom website recently, and really liked the simple design. Can't really attest for the quality just yet, but I may visit the store to see if they have one on the rack to try on. Will report back.

Hey and if you're doubtful about getting a topcoat, if anything, Don Draper wears them.

Bloomingdale's Ribbed Knit Beanie

One of my buddies recently showed me his Prada knit cap, and I was thoroughly impressed with how it looked. It was charcoal in color, made with very fine wool, and extremely simple in design, like the above picture. I checked online to see how much the thing cost, and unfortunately, it was priced at over $200.

I'm all about buying quality but $200 for a hat was quite a stretch for me so I found a suitable substitute at Bloomingdales and am contemplating picking it up. I mean they say the head is where you hold the most heat, so I have to keep that heat in during the colder months, am I right?

Moncler Puffer Jacket

I cheated a bit on this one as I've recently bought a similar model to this particular jacket due to a sale.

To be honest, I used to be kind of against puffer jackets, and still am to some extent, but some of the models that Moncler has been releasing have really caught my eye. You retain the warmth of a puffer jacket, but the fit doesn't make you look like a marshmallow, and the attention to detail is just fantastic.

There are a couple downsides though. First, I live in SF, so it rarely gets cold enough to wear this thing. These jackets don't just keep you warm, they make you melt inside if it's not cold enough outside. Second, Moncler is outrageous with pricing. The cheapest models are barely sub-$1K, and the more expensive ones are ludicrously expensive.

Ralph Lauren Merino Wool Sweater

I tried one of these Polo Ralph Lauren sweaters on last week at Bloomingdales, and absolutely loved the feel and look of it. Not only did it fit snug to my body, but the colors were beautifully vibrant, and there was no annoying polo logo on the front. Again, the only thing stopping me was the price, as each one of these is $125. The sweater is actually quite thin, so it made me wonder if this was something worth investing in.

I may still end up getting it, but it will hurt the wallet.

So there is my wish list this November. God, do I love fall/winter for menswear.

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.

 

Signature Style: American Schoolboy Prep (the Thom Browne look)

Mark Kwak

Source: Camodiaries

I've mentioned this before, but I think everybody has their own signature style. You can probably picture several of your friends right now, wearing what you would consider their signature pieces. The buddy who can't be seen without his blue baseball cap and Ralph Lauren polo. Or your coworker that wears such rugged boots and jackets that it looks like he's ready to go on a hunt at any point in time.

But what about you? Can you identify your own signature style? Is it something you stand by? Personally, I think it's important that we all discover the look we're most comfortable and confident in, and move in the direction of making our signature style embody that look.

To help in this endeavor, I've decided to launch a small series called Signature Style, where I showcase outfits that I believe represent certain signature styles we may encounter on the streets. Hopefully these styles will give you some ideas or inspiration for developing your own signature look.

To accomplish this task, I enlisted the help of some of my buddies, who agreed to model and demonstrate several looks that I have been wanting to put together for quite some time.

To make it clear, these are very particular styles that aren't necessarily what I deem classic or simple. However, I think that the slightly exaggerated nature of these getups can help you identify what works for you and what doesn't. Taking ideas here and there, and then ultimately putting together your own unique look is what really matters to me.

---

The first signature style I put together is that of one of my favorite designers, Thom Browne. His style is one I personally like to call:  American Schoolboy Prep.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Thom Browne, he is a very fashion-forward designer from New York, who sort of revolutionized modern menswear tailoring. Have you noticed trousers are getting shorter and shorter these days? Well, in many ways, we have Thom Browne to thank for that. Have you noticed folks wearing dress shoes without any socks? Again, Thom Browne. Red, white, and blue grosgrain trimming? Thom Browne.

Truth is, his look is not one for the insecure or conservative. He starts with seemingly classic American outfits (like a flannel grey suit), but then cuts them in ways that make you wonder if the man wearing them is wearing his son's clothing. Trousers are cut too short, sport coats end closer to the hip rather than the thigh, and knitwear is skin tight. To illustrate, I've put together this look for my buddy Grant:

Grant1

As you can see, this outfit is very similar to Thom Browne's one at the top of this post. White oxford button down, gray sport coat and trousers, gray tie, brown bluchers, and a white pocket square.

Grant2

I wanted to make sure this outfit was monochromatic, with gray acting as king.

Grant3

I also wanted to work with various wool textures and patterns. Got some herringbone and specked designs, all over cashmere and flannel fabric.

Grant4

Chunky brown wingtips, no socks, and trousers cut 2 inches too short. Pure Thom Browne.

Grant8

Also, I believe using thick, plastic rimmed glasses really finishes off the American schoolboy look.

Grant5

Though this look is trendy and on the up-rise, I honestly wouldn't advise going into the office this way.

Grant6

Glasses: Warby Parker | Shirt: Jack Spade (in blue) | Jacket: Black Fleece | Tie: Bloomingdales

Pocket Square: Jos A Bank | Cardigan: Gap | Pants: Uniqlo | Shoes: Alden

There you go, the American schoolboy prep look... a look that I'm quite intrigued by these days.

If you live in New York City, you'll probably see these types of outfits donned by avant-garde fashionistas from time to time. It's blowing up in the fashion world, and for good reason.  I think it brings something new to the table, combining a very particular form of modern tailoring with what we've always considered traditional American style.

Anyhow, hope you can take something away from this outfit, whether positive or negative. Oh, and look out for the next part in this series where I go over dandyism.

A smaller wardrobe

Mark Kwak

Recently, I had the opportunity to check out two of my friends' closets. Now, I don't actively request to see my friends' closets, but both were shown to me in the context of some apartment tours, so I obliged. Anyhow, the interesting thing was that both closets, though about the same size, were drastically different, enough so that I am writing a post about it.

The first closet I saw was filled to the brim. Hangers were jam packed next to each other, piles of denim were toppling over from being stacked too high, and shoes were scattered all over the ground in no particular order, making it ridiculous for the closet to even be labeled "walk-in."

The second closet was literally the polar opposite. I swear that no more than thirty pieces were in the entire closet, and it mainly comprised of white walls and empty shelves.  Everything was immaculately organized, clothing being separated by type, color, and even season, from what I could tell.

The stark difference between the two closets got me to thinking about how my closet is organized. Was it optimal? How do I feel about the contents inside, and the organization of it all?

While asking myself these questions, I couldn't help but feel like I preferred my closet to the first closet I had seen, but not to the second closet. Let me tell you why.

So yes, the first closet I saw clearly had more clothing, and far more pieces to work with than the second closet. If I were to mentally add up all the clothes that I saw in there, I would probably have to get back to this post sometime in March. Various colors, fabrics, patterns, sizes... it was like going to the circus in sartorial form.

By contrast, the second closet actually contained clothing that I didn't think was particularly fun, special, or eye-catching. No exclusive designer brands, no crazy patterns and colors, and no extras in any way. Just about enough clothing to protect from the elements, no more, no less.

Still, there was something so refreshing about seeing a closet that simply had... the essentials. A leather jacket, a pair of grey wool trousers, black dress shoes, a rain coat. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy unique, just plain simple. Seeing this guy's closet reminded me of the simple truth that we, as men, don't really need all that much clothing in our closets. Do I need my quarter-zip sweater in both purple and green? No. Do I need five different pairs of boots for each and every situation I may encounter? No. Ten pairs of denim from every designer under the sun? No.

What we do need, are basic, high quality pieces that fit perfectly to our bodies and never get old with the times.  The essential wardrobe pieces, if I can say such a thing (and I will provide a list of what I personally believe are those pieces soon). That way, we can shift our focus from clothing to other, more important things in life. Why? Because we know that with the small wardrobe we do have, we'll always look great, and we can take some of the guesswork out of our daily morning routine of getting dressed.

I guess my point is that it's worth it to spend the extra buck on attaining high quality, classic pieces that will never go out of style. And also, to buy no more than you really need. There's an odd satisfaction to keeping a very simple closet, where you don't really have to think about what you're going to wear today, tomorrow, or whenever. Thus, I urge you to open your closet sometime tonight, and take a peek into what your wardrobe currently looks like.

Then ask yourself a couple questions:

1. Do you need all of those pieces that you hardly ever wear?

2. Is it really necessary to have duplicates and lookalikes all around your closet?

3. Are you willing to put some investment behind certain tried and true essentials that are currently missing from your closet?

I, too, am going to ponder these questions while I look at my closet tonight, and start making smarter decisions on when, where, and how I buy my clothing. I think it'll help me in my quest to truly understand my own sense of style.