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

Filtering by Tag: details

Curated shops I like

Mark Kwak

Source: Need Supply

Source: Need Supply

We are utterly inundated with choice. Too many websites, too many stores, too many brands. Sometimes it's nice for a website to help curate only the best stuff for you.

I think there are several sites that do an excellent job of curating clothing/accessories/goods, and have become my go-to's as a result. I try my best to buy from these companies directly to support them, but I will admit, I do also take some items and plug them into Google or Amazon to find a better price.

Source: Of a Kind

Source: Of a Kind

Here's a small list for you to check out:

1. Need-Supply: This is one slick e-store. They have a fairly particular style, but even if it's not your cup of tea, they seem to only carry quality goods. Good news is that for every two items they carry that are fairly expensive, they carry one that is reasonable in price (for example, Filson & Carhartt vs Herschel).

I would take a good look at their accessories section as well. I've bought a thing or two from there, and have never been disappointed.

2. J.Crew in Good Company: As a company, J.Crew is hit or miss. I feel like two and a half years ago, they had their heyday, but today, they're potentially on a downswing. Either way, one part of their website that is rarely miss is a part called J.Crew in Good Company. This is their collaboration section, wherein J.Crew curates high quality pieces from other brands, while maintaining their excellent sensibility in style.

Some of my favorite brands like Alden, Barbour, Red Wing, and Drake's are represented in this section, and I have to say... J.Crew is one excellent curator. Unfortunately these items are generally not eligible for sale, but there's always a small subsection that seem to go on clearance. Sometimes you can find a pretty great grab if you browse at the right time.

3. Of a Kind: This site I'm not quite as familiar with, but recently I've been checking up on it quite a bit. I could be wrong, but I believe this site was originally made to help women discover emerging fashion designers. As it turns out, the staff at Of a Kind have pretty good taste, even in the menswear world.

They sell only a small number of items on their site, but I'm a fan of almost all of them. Seems like they have limited quantities of everything too, which makes each item that much more special.

Source: Of a Kind

Source: Of a Kind

Hey, sometimes you don't want to do all the research to find things you like. Let someone else curate, and you can just choose from a more limited selection. Makes your life a bit simpler.

Alright, and now I'm off.

Tapered pants

Mark Kwak

Source: Whyyoumad

Source: Whyyoumad

I've become a strong believer that men look better (no matter how tall, short, husky, or skinny) when wearing pants that taper in the leg. By taper, I mean that the fabric below the knee will noticeably narrow or slim down as you go down the leg.

This applies to dress pants, denim, chinos, you name it. Frankly, I don't even look at straight cut, boot cut, or relaxed fit jeans anymore. And if I somehow find myself purchasing a nice pair of wool dress pants with a straight leg opening, I'll ask my tailor to taper the pants pretty much 100% of the time.

The way you can tell that a pant is tapered (apart from the obvious label that might suggest that it is) is by laying the pants on a flat surface and flipping the leg opening up against where the knee of the pants would be. If the knee and leg opening are the same width, then it is not tapered. If the leg opening is more narrow than the knee, then it is.

Take a look at the difference here:

Source: Nordstrom

Source: Nordstrom

Not bad, but see below:

Source: Nordstrom

Source: Nordstrom

Ah better.

Now, I am going to caveat this statement saying that not all tapered pants are created equal. Some pants taper far too extreme for one to feel comfortable while some taper so little that you might as well call them straight-leg. I'd say it's on you to find out how much of a taper you're comfortable with.

Either way, the next time you're at the clothing store looking for a pair of pants, I'd suggest looking for pants that have a taper in the leg. You'll just look a lot better, I guarantee it.

Bedroom Inspiration

Mark Kwak

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

A year or two ago, I came across an article on GQ that really caught my eye. Titled "Wake Up Your Bedroom," it displays five photos of a simple, yet beautiful modern bedroom. Now, I'm no interior design guru, but I do appreciate thoughtful living space aesthetics, and I think these pictures are on point.

By the way, I find it hilarious that GQ feels the need to post up a woman in some of these photos. Perhaps they want to convince you that with a bedroom like this, you can easily attain a supermodel girlfriend who will sit on your chair half-naked reading magazines while you're off at work. Oh GQ...

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Okay, now four quick thoughts on the bedroom design:

1. Platform beds are awesome. Dark oak platform beds are even awesomer. <-- real word?

2. I love the dark blue color scheme. Dark blue sheets, dark blue walls, dark blue furniture... If I didn't rent, I'd do this myself. Also really makes the bright paintings and wooden furniture pop.

3. The article encourages a neat room overall, but a bit of manufactured (and highly curated) clutter - see mess on floor and TV stand. I think it's a bit unnatural/fake to carefully curate each small pile of mess in your room, but I do like the juxtaposition of a neat living space with some subtle carelessness.

4. Details matter. Look at the complementary color of the blanket. Or the symmetry of the nightstands + lamps. Or matching blacks on the furniture trim, TV, and clock. Oh yeah, and how her lingerie matches the floor rug. Just playin'.

Anyhow, hopefully this article gives you a little inspiration to go home and spice up your room. A clean and aesthetically pleasing bedroom can be a beautiful thing, especially if you're the type that needs a haven to come back to after a long hard day.

Wishlist December 2014

Mark Kwak

Every time the Holidays roll around, my wishlist starts to extend longer than Stretch Armstrong's limbs (oh boy, remember those toys?). Alongside cool gadgets, auto equipment, alcohol, and other goodies, clothing usually sits atop of the list. Today, I share with you some of my wishes for December.

Leather / wool rifle coat

I don't know what it is about wool coats with leather sleeves, but I've become a die hard fan. A bit on the trendy side, I know, but damn the combination looks good. I particularly like this Theory one above. It's expensive, but I saw it on sale at Macy's (yeah we have a legit Macy's that carries Theory) for almost half off, and was about a millimeter away from pulling the trigger.

New Balance high tops

Oh man, I am going to lobby hard to get these shoes under my Christmas tree this year. I've always been a fan of suede New Balances and these high tops are no exception, even though I think they're a JCrew collab exclusive. The color scheme, streamlined silhouette, and material all look wonderful to me. They even look comfy to boot!

Alden scotch grain bluchers

Whoo wee! What beauties. As many of you know, Alden is one of my favorite shoe brands in the world. One of the few remaining American shoemakers making quality product through the generations.

One thing you'll notice is that these are not made of your normal calfskin leather. After looking at some Thom Browne samples the other day, I realized I really like the use of scotch grain leather on shoes, and they add a bit of pop to what would normally be a very conservative shoe design. The Unionmade ones on the link above are sold out, but I think JCrew sells something similar here.

GQ x GAP leather backpack

It looks like GQ is partnering with GAP once again to deliver some really unique pieces, designed by some of the top designers, to the general public. The collection isn't set to be out until December 15th, but GQ offered a sneak peak into some of their favorite pieces. I really like this backpack by En Noir. I felt like there was a time when leather backpacks were a bit gaudy, but that time is no more. This slim, simple, elegant design just works, and I'll definitely take a look to verify quality when the collection comes out.

Anyhow, there's my December wishlist. Even though I'm trying not to buy any clothing, I will certainly be looking out for ways to get some of these things come January. Hoping that sales roll around by then! Stay warm out there, fellas.

Buffalo Plaid

Mark Kwak

Source: JCrew Ah buffalo plaid. A staple in almost every fall/winter catalog I come across.

Truth is, it took me a while to really embrace this pattern, mainly because I was brainwashed to hate the color red (go UCLA). That being said, the more I saw it on magazines, store windows, and print ads around town, the more I began to fall in love with the aesthetic. As a result, I now have a couple buffalo plaid pieces in my closet that have achieved the status of "go-to" within my wardrobe.

So exactly where did this ubiquitous red and black pattern originate from? Perhaps Paul Bunyan? Some hipster in the Mission District of SF? Nope. Buffalo plaid comes from the genius minds at Woolrich, a company that began producing shirts with this pattern around 1850. That's right, over 150 years ago! Talk about withstanding the ups and downs of fashion, huh?

Here are some of my favorite ways to outfit buffalo plaid.

1. Scarf to add some pop to an otherwise very conservative outfit. (See above)

2. Collared shirt underneath a solid blazer or suit. Adds a ton of complexity to a formal outfit, Timothy Olyphant representing below:

3. A classic buffalo check wool shirt from the OGs who created it. Definitely a more rugged look that can be used on the streets as easily as it can be out in the woods.

All in all, buffalo plaid is versatile, able to be worn as a subtle accent piece or stand out as the main attraction. I suggest looking around to find a piece that works for you. If folks are still wearing this stuff 150 years after it was originally made, it's probably safe to assume you'll be in style for however long you choose to wear it.

PS: To add to that Timothy Olyphant picture above, he had a full shoot with just buffalo plaid in this GQ article. Worth looking at.

Style in what you carry, not just what you wear

Mark Kwak

Today, let's just assume that you know everything it takes to look good. You've read every menswear blog, magazine, and article in the world, and have developed the perfect wardrobe specifically for you. Well now that you're playing in the big leagues, perhaps it's time to step it up to the next level and focus on the details. Let's talk about not just what you're wearing, but what you're carrying on you!

Sure, most people won't ever get a chance to see the things you carry, like your wallet, phone or keys. But what's important is that you'll see them. Pretty much every single day of your life, actually. So doesn't it make sense to invest a little more in the things you carry? Wouldn't it be nice to crack a smile every time you pull out that awesome-looking handmade leather wallet from Portland, Oregon?

If you feel like we're speaking the same language, here are some tips on how to jazz up your "everyday carries."

1. Keychain: If you live in an apartment/house, drive a car, or even just have a mailbox, then you have keys. Time to put those keys on a half decent keychain. Mostly this is for aesthetic pleasure, but it does make a difference. This one is mine and I'm a huge fan of it. It almost makes carrying around my keys a bit of a pleasure. If you drink beer as well, I'd recommend attaching a nice looking bottle opener to the chain. This one's pretty cool.

2. Phone: I think statistics say that the modern American spends more time on their phone than they do on everything else in their life, combined. Just playing, but you get the point. You use it often, so put a nice case on it to not only protect it, but also make it look better. My favorite materials to case phones in are wood, leather, and metal. I personally use the leather case that Apple carries in-store. It's expensive, but I love it.

3. Wallet: I recommend keeping your wallet slim, it just looks better all around. Minimalism, man! For that reason, card holders like these (I have this one from Everlane) or money clips do the job the best. The days of chunky wallets are over, so do yourself a favor and ask for a nice card holder this Christmas! By the way, you can never go wrong with black or brown leather.

4. Bag: I talk a little bit about it in this previous article, but having a stylish bag is a big plus. I can go into this topic in quite a bit of detail, but I'll keep it simple here. If you're wearing a backpack, simplicity and slimness are the names of the game. A pretty inexpensive option is Herschel. I think Herschel makes some nice looking bags that hold up well over time.  If you're going with a messenger or single strap bag, think about canvas or leather as the primary material. I've preached Filson a million times before, but I'll continue to tout it here. There are so many other makers of good bags out there, so here's a link to someone who's done far more research to help you out (though this is more specifically briefcases).

Upgrade your "everyday carry game" my friends. In the slight chance that someone notices your wallet or keychain, you might even get a compliment or two. Stay awesome and eat plenty of turkey y'all.

Wristwear

Mark Kwak

Wristwear has been all the fad lately. More and more, I'm seeing guys wear stacks on stacks on stacks of bracelets extending from their wrists up to potentially their mid forearms. It's become, to some extent, commonplace.

How do I feel about this trend? Well, I'm a bit torn. Do I like the aesthetics of a wristband or two on a guy's arm? Yeah I do. Do I think that men of class (a la George Clooney, Don Draper) would choose to wear a wristband (apart from their watch)? Probably not. Would I ever wear a colorful wristband to a board meeting? Absolutely not.

As many of you guys know, I'm a huge fan of wristwatches, and feel that all men should go out right now and purchase a watch if possible. However, wristbands/bracelets are a bit more flashy and/or casual, since they serve no functional purpose. They're purely for aesthetics, and for this reason, I don't find them to be essential in anyway.

That being said, they do add a bit of spice to any outfit, and you can especially benefit during the Spring and Summer when your arms are exposed. So here's my advice. If you don't always need to look professional in your day-to-day, and enjoy the aesthetics of a bracelet or two, go for it! But here are my suggestions.

1. One or two : Don't be one of those guys who wears fifteen bracelets on both wrists, trying to make a giant statement about how you're the most fashionable guy this side of the Mississippi. Stick with a single bracelet or two. I personally like wearing just one on the wrist I wear my watch on.

2. Leather + metal : I think fabric bracelets are cool, and they often come in a multitude of colors and patterns. However, they're not all that versatile. Unless you have a giant wristband collection, I would stick with a solid colored leather bracelet with maybe some metal accents.

3. Brown , gray, black : Again, there are tons of colors out there for wristbands. However, if you want to stick with owning only a couple, then I suggest going for a bit of a mute color, like brown, gray, or black. This way, whether you're dressed up or down, your wristband will remain appropriate.

Put This On has a good list of some wristbands for you if you're interested. Personally, I like Miansai or Tod's bracelets the most, but they can be a bit prohibitively expensive.

Anyhow, cheers, and happy Monday!