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

Filtering by Tag: boots

Wish List #4

Mark Kwak

Christmas has come and gone, and massive end-of-the-season sales have begun. Time for another wish list from yours truly.

Saint James Meridien II shirt

Oddly, this shirt has been on my mind for the last three weeks. Really, it's nothing special since all it is, is basically a long sleeve striped T shirt (albeit a high quality one) with a slightly unique neck opening.  To add, I'm not a huge fan of horizontal lines on shirts since I'm a bit shorter, and such patterns don't do any favors for my stature. Still, this shirt keeps popping up in my head. I suppose it might be the shirt's history? Or incredible layering ability?

You can grab one from J.Crew or Unionmade (who is actually having a semi-annual sale right now).

Wolverine 1000 Mile boots

Why do I keep posting boots in my wish lists?

One boot that has particularly caught my attention is the 1000 mile boot by Wolverine. These bad boys are quite acclaimed in the menswear world, and for good reason. I had a chance to try them out recently, and not only do they look great, but you can immediately tell they're built like an ox. Proper Goodyear welting on a leather sole, high quality upper leather & stitching, made in the USA... what's not to like? Plus, I think they are incredibly versatile. They're equally appropriate on a mountain hike as they are at an office event.

I would go out and get them immediately, but I think I'm past my boot quota for 2012-2013. Oh, and if these boots are too expensive for you, I found a great deal on an amazing, less expensive alternative made by Chippewa. You can find them on Amazon for only $86 with coupon "workboot." Yea, seriously.

Drake's navy pin dot tie

I recently saw a Gitman Vintage navy shirt with a subtle pin dot pattern on it at a clothing boutique here in SF. I immediately wanted one in my closet, so I started searching the web to find one in my size. Unfortunately, I failed to find one at a decent price, but the shirt got me to thinking. Hey, wouldn't this pattern look great on a tie or pocket square?

Since having that thought, I've been looking all over the web for a decent tie and pocket square combo in the navy + pin dot pattern. Well it turns out that one of my favorite tie makers, Drake's of London, carries a nice one as shown above. They're also having an end of the year sale right now, so the prices are cut about 25%.

If the price is still too high for you, good news is that you can get both a tie and pocket square in this pattern at thetiebar for a lot cheaper than the Drake's tie above.

J.Crew denim shirt

Grant it, I don't think it needs to be specifically from J.Crew, but I've been looking for a nice dark indigo denim shirt for a while now. I think a denim shirt is a piece that can effortlessly dress a formal outfit down, and still look appropriate in most situations. Definitely a refreshing change from your normal white, blue, or pink dress shirt that you may wear on a daily basis.

The only reservation I have with getting a denim shirt is its versatility. I generally wear jeans everyday and the color of this shirt in particular would be too similar to the color of my jeans, making the outfit look less than ideal. Either way, I'm on the fence, but I must say... J.Crew makes this shirt look damn good.


So there you go, my January wish list. You know, sometimes I wonder if it ever ends...


Shoe care - what it takes

Mark Kwak

shoe maintenance One of the first items of clothing I purchased after landing a job out of college was a nice pair of leather dress shoes. Why? Because I needed a new pair, but more importantly, I knew it would be an incredibly important aspect of my professional dress. After doing a bunch of research, I became convinced that it was indeed worth it to spend a little more and invest in a nice pair of shoes, as opposed to getting any Kenneth Cole or Steve Madden dress shoe out on the market. Thus, I treated myself to a pair of Allen Edmond Strands (pictured above), and it has since become one of my favorite items of clothing.

However, I didn't really know how to properly take care of my shoes. I just figured- Hey! I spent so much on these shoes, they should last forever... Oh how I'm an idiot. The truth is, once you invest in a nice pair of leather shoes, it becomes imperative to take proper care of them; your care could allow them to last a decade or even more!

As you can see above, there are some products that I personally use to maintain all my dress shoes. Let me go over what's in the picture exactly, so you know what to get.

1. Shoe tree : This is probably one of the most important things you can get for your shoes. Shoe trees will help your shoes maintain the shape they are meant to take on. After a long day of walking around in your shoes, you'll start to get creases and folds in places you don't want. Shoe trees help alleviate those stress points, and they also have the added benefit of sucking up moisture (from your sweat) and helping your shoes smell fresh.

2. Shoe polish : Interestingly enough, five of the items in the above picture are a form of shoe polish. A good shoe polish serves as the item that keeps your shoes shining like a dime. Not only does polish repair the damage of daily wear and tear, but it also nourishes and moisturizes the leather, keeping it healthy. I recommend getting polishes that match the color of your shoes. If they don't, you run the risk of discoloring your shoes, and that's no good. There's also a quick and easy solution to giving your shoes a shine, and that's the sponge with polish already on it. If you need to shine your shoes quickly, then that's a great alternative option, though I would always recommend the traditional way.

3. Leather conditioner : Conditioner/Cleaner can be used to remove surface area residue and to keep leather soft and pliable. I recommend using it only once in a while though.

4. Shoe horn : You basically stick one of these into the back of your shoe while you insert your foot, and it helps your foot slide right into the shoe without any trouble. Ultimately, it prevents any smashing or creasing on the back of your shoe, and trust me, it's pretty necessary. They can be found for real cheap, and they'll help your shoes last a lot longer.

5. Shoe/Shine brush : You need to brush the dirt off the shoe before starting your polishing, and also brush the polish over the shoe as well. That's where the shoe brush comes in. Definitely a must. You can use it to clean, apply polish, and also shine the shoe.

6. Polishing cloth : You can take the shoe shine brush route, or the polishing cloth route. It can serve a similar purpose (cleaning, applying, and shining).

The process of shining or cleaning your shoes is actually really relaxing and rewarding, as nerdy as it sounds. Sometimes, I have a cup of tea, play some jazz, and polish my shoes after a hard day's work. Makes me sound like an old man, but hey... whatever's clever.

Anyway, point is, you should invest in a nice pair of dress shoes. You'll need them, and they'll be a pleasure to own. Once you have 'em, wear 'em and give them the kind of character they deserve. But every now and then, make sure you give them some love as well. Get yourself some of the items above, and maintain your shoes. They'll thank you by lasting for a long, long time.


Fall Boots

Mark Kwak

The autumn leaves are starting to fall. Get your old book, thick cardigan and smokey scotch out fellas. Oh I forgot, make sure to open your closet and dig to the back. Today we're talking boots. To my left are some of my favorite boots around. They're a pair of Crockett & Jones Coniston derby boots in a walnut-like color. One day... One day...

But instead of just drooling over these boots, let me go into why I think every man should own a pair of stylish boots for the fall and winter.

Generally, people change their clothing between the summer months and the winter months. They go from wearing colorful shirts, shorts, and t-shirts to jackets, overcoats, and sweaters. Obviously this is natural, as winter is coming (Game of Thrones anyone?) and you need to be prepared to take the cold. However, I rarely see people change their footwear. Yes, maybe one will wear sandals more often in the summer than the winter, but generally you keep wearing the same shoes throughout the four seasons, whether they be sneakers, casual leather shoes, or dress shoes. Enter the boot. Finally a shoe that can stand the snow-filled ground, give you the ankle support you need to hike up that mountain, and also stop rain from wetting your socks so easily.

For me, nothing beats having a nice pair of boots for casual wear. I'd recommend sticking to browns (both light and dark shades) and blacks, as you want to wear them just as much next winter as you do this winter. You also want to make sure they are durable and of high quality. This is a piece of your wardrobe that I think you should invest a bit in, as a good pair can last you as long as fifteen years if you take good care of them.  I think you should expect to pay a little extra to buy quality. By extra, I mean nothing under $150 if possible.

If I were to have only one pair of boots, they might be a pair of lace up cap toes (toe is capped with stitching) like the C&Js or a pair of chukka boots like these ones by Church's on the right:

Both of the types of boots I mentioned  are extremely versatile and can be worn with a pair of wool trousers, chinos, dark jeans, whatever. These days, many guys are also cuffing up their casual pants to show more of their boots, and since that's IN, I suggest you do it while you can!

As for recommendations, here are a couple that I might recommend, in ascending price.

~$100 Clarks Desert Boots

~$200 Chippewa Lace Boots

~$300 Redwing Beckman Boots

~$400 Allen Edmonds Dalton Boots

~$500 Crockett & Jones Coniston

So go out there and wear some boots gentlemen! I keep hearing from women that they always look at mens' shoes, and generally my most complimented shoes end up being my boots... coincidence? I think not.