Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Home

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

Filtering by Tag: diesel

Wearing black only

Mark Kwak

I've seen it a million times. Guys wearing all-pitch-black getups. Uniform combination of black shoes, black shirt, black jeans, black jacket, black watch, black scarf and black rimmed glasses. So yes, black is cool, and it's especially appropriate during fall and winter. However, I personally think you can always do better by adding a little extra color to your outfit, even if it's subtle. This actually applies to any color, since a little variety in an outfit can help it from being too boring or uniform. For example, here's an all-black outfit I'm wearing. The difference is that I wanted to add a subtle hint of color (some green and navy gingham on the shirt which together looks like black, and brown lining on the boots), and also distinguish my blacks a bit from each other. Notice my jeans are a lot lighter than the rest of the outfit, while still having that underlying black color to it. My scarf also has grey on the inverse side.

black2

See? Denim on denim can sometimes work.

black1

From a closer distance and with ample lighting, you can see that the shirt is actually blue and green, not black. Some red highlights on my watch as well.

black3

Hmm, my Red Wing boot lining matches my coffee table.

black5

I like to cuff my pants when wearing boots. Show a bit more of the boot.

Jacket: Ralph Lauren Black Label | Shirt: Black Fleece | Watch: Casio G-Shock

Scarf: Merona (similar) | Belt: Paul Stuart | Jeans: Diesel | Shoes: Red Wing

Now, I still would prefer to wear a lighter shirt with an outfit like this, but if you want to wear all-black, my recommendation is to find some way to make each piece slightly different from one another. Or else it'll just look like you're in a black jumpsuit, since others won't be able to distinguish one piece of your outfit from another.

So go out there and continue to wear black (even though some will tell you it matches with nothing... which I don't believe in the slightest). But also remember it's okay to still have some color or differentiation in your outfit to make it more interesting. Grey can be a great friend in this case, and despite what people will tell you, brown can work marvelously if used properly.

Peacoats, and Bond... James Bond.

Mark Kwak

The cool breeze of winter is approaching. You're trying to stay warm, but it seems like your trusty old jacket just isn't doing it for you. Guess what? It's time to bust out the classic winter piece... the peacoat.

Many of you probably own a peacoat or have owned one at some point in your life. If you don't or haven't, I would highly recommend going out and getting one before the start of the winter. It's an incredibly functional and timeless piece of clothing that I think every man should own, regardless of age, stature, occupation, etc.

In case you don't actually know what a peacoat is, let me help educate you. A peacoat is a wool (or wool blend) outer coat that was originally worn by sailors in the Navy (but obviously worn by just about anyone now). Peacoats generally have broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, metal, leather, or horn buttons, and go down in length to your upper thigh. They are also most widely available in their original color, navy, but can also come in black, charcoal, mid-grey, tan, etc.

So now that you know what a peacoat is, let me tell you why I think they're awesome. First off, peacoats keep you warm. Real warm. Generally made out of a thick wool or wool blend, peacoats are meant to help you get through the hard winter times. I mean if they worked for naval officers out on the arctic sea, why can't they work for you?

Second, peacoats are extremely classy, and can help elevate your look to the next level. Whether you're wearing a T-shirt or full-blown tuxedo, the moment you put on that peacoat, you'll look more sophisticated and classy than you did before. I know, I know... it's a more casual coat, but as long as the body of the coat is longer than your jacket, I still think it can work well with formal wear.

This brings up my third point. Peacoats are versatile. They can work on top of virtually any outfit, as they can be worn both casually and formally. Layer it on top of your henley, or use it as outerwear for your suit! A peacoat will do just fine in both situations.

Now, just because peacoats are awesome doesn't mean that any peacoat will do. I highly recommend putting a little bit of money behind one of these to ensure quality, as almost all designers will make a peacoat, and some will be of terrible quality. Personally, I think $200-$300 is a sweet spot for a solid peacoat, and I swear it'll be worth it. The Schotts ones below will probably give you the best bang for your buck, quality-wise. Also, I would stick with navy or charcoal grey in terms of color. Lastly, make sure the coat fits nice and slim on you. You want the coat to still flatter your body and fit immaculately. Keep it relatively snug, but also make sure that you can fit a sweater or jacket underneath.

Here are some peacoats that I would recommend at different price points:

~$50-$100: Uniqlo Peacoat , Topman Peacoat

~$100-$200: J. Crew Bayswater Peacoat , Banana Republic Peacoat

~$200-$400: Schotts Peacoat , Diesel Wittory Peacoat

~$400-above: Maison Martin Margiela Peacoat , Burberry London Peacoat

---

So you're probably wondering why the title of this post mentions James Bond. Well first off, I think James Bond is an amazing fashion icon, especially with Daniel Craig running the show. If you need some fashion inspiration, just watch a Bond movie and you should be set for a while; I know I always am. Second, the peacoat that I'm wearing in the pictures above is actually the same peacoat Bond wears in his latest movie Skyfall. The makers of the coat, Billy Reid, released a limited supply of them to the public right when the movie was released, and I was lucky enough to get in the first batch. Check out some of the details on this thing:

Just a couple thoughts on this peacoat. First, I do think the quality is great. It's a pretty expensive coat ($695 MSRP) so I fully expect it to be, and thankfully Billy Reid didn't disappoint. The wool is nice and warm, the cut is slim and fashionable, and the leather trimming is beautifully done.

With that being said, I may not end up keeping the coat for a couple reasons. First, I'm not much a fan of the lapels. I think they can look great on a lot of people, but to me they jut out a bit too much. Let's just say that when the collar is popped, my side profile is less than flattering. Second, the coat is a tad big on me. The sleeves are way too long, and instead of ending at my upper thigh, the body of this peacoat goes down to my mid thigh, and I think that might be longer than what I would consider ideal. A slightly taller man would probably love it though. Lastly, the peacoat is unlined. Nothing wrong with unlined coats, but I prefer a layer of thinsulate so that my arms don't itch from the wool.

Anyhow, the next shipment of these babies starts in January so keep a look out in case you're interested. It's an excellent coat and I would highly recommend it if you like the look.

Correlation of brand and quality

Mark Kwak

Oliver Peoples sunglasses :: Gitman Vintage shirt :: Hamilton Khaki watch :: Tellason jeans :: Clarks beeswax desert boots

Ah, the topic of brands... one of my favorites, and one that is often controversial. Why? Because people will always have disagreements about brands, whether it be on quality, style, reputation, whatever. I'll attempt to swing at this curveball though, and I hope it doesn't anger too many of you.

I think brand names are a wonderful proxy for discerning quality distinctions in clothing. I swear by certain brands due to their quality (eg: Tellason and Gitman Vintage in the pic above), and will always trust that they will make a genuinely great product. However, I also think that brand names can often be over-emphasized, bandwagoned, and taken way too far. For example, I know many people who will immediately dismiss the quality of companies like the Gap or J. Crew because they generally make mass-produced articles of clothing at less than optimal quality-control. Before moving forward, let me tell you right now, I've bought pieces from both Gap and J.Crew that have exceeded my highest expectations. And though it's not always the case, I'll often find deals that will blow away any competition at those price points: Thomas Mason shirt from J.Crew for $35? I'll take it anyday.

Also, in the other direction, people will endlessly praise companies like Lanvin or Oxxford for their excellence in quality. However, I've had a pair of Lanvin pants tear apart on me, and have a friend whose Oxxford shirt lost two buttons in the first day of wear.

Am I saying that J. Crew makes a better product than Lanvin? Absolutely not. In fact, I can confidently say that Lanvin is at another level in terms of clothing quality (I mean just look at the price difference). However, what I am trying to say is that brands are not static, and there will always be quality changes that come with following a brand, up or down. Thus, it doesn't make sense to rely solely on brand when making a decision on what to buy.

Now that I've gotten that giant caveat out of the way, I will say that brands can at least make it easier for you when shopping for clothes. All brands have reputations to uphold, and need to stick to a certain level of quality in order to maintain those reputations. Thus, you can trust certain brands that have held the test of time, or been deemed by the general public as high in quality. This way, when you enter a mall and you have 100 brands in front of you, you'll be able to at least start weeding out what you'll look through and what you won't, based on brands.

I wouldn't advise that you put all your eggs in the brand basket though. Nothing beats going into stores and actually feeling fabrics, wearing the clothes and moving with it, checking the construction, etc. If you find a piece that catches your eye, don't dismiss just based on brand. Go up to the piece and check it out! From there, make sure that the quality is high.

Allen Edmonds Dalton boots :: Diesel Darron jeans

So what are good indicators of high quality garments?

1. Material. Is it made of more natural materials like 100% leather, cotton, silk, or wool? Or is the material fully/partially man-made (spandex, rayon, polyester, etc.)? If possible, I would recommend sticking to more natural materials. Not bulletproof in determining quality, but it's a start.

Also, does the material look and feel solid? Hold the garment against a light, and see if the thickness of the material is consistent throughout. Buttons and zippers matter too (horn buttons > plastic buttons, zippers can feel more solid on some rather than others).

2. Construction. Take for example suits. Some suits may look amazing and have a great fabric, but aren't constructed in a way that deems them high quality. They may be fused together in the inside and the outside by glue, rather than canvassed fully to help remain its organic shape. Maybe the seams on a shirt or jacket are at points like the elbow, which might not make the piece as durable due to the way we move. Are buttons put together well? Are shoe soles stitched or glued? Inspect items as best as you can to check on the constructional integrity.

3. Made in ____. This can sometimes be misleading, but it is indeed important to check. Products made in the U.S. or countries in Europe are often more reliable in quality than those made in Southeast Asia and China. This isn't ALWAYS the case, but it correlates quite often due to the cost of manufacturing. In reality, it just costs more to produce things domestically, so the quality better match the price.

4. Style. Don't forget that we buy clothing so we can look good. It's not solely just to feel great, since if that were the case, we would all just wear blankets of cashmere and fur exclusively. If a piece of clothing is styled well, there is a higher likelihood of the brand fitting you better. Look at the styles, patterns, and designs, and ask yourself if you find them especially appealing. For example, one of my favorite brands is Theory. Not for the material quality, since that can sometimes be shoddy, but because all Theory products seem to fit me down to a T.

So in all, definitely identify the brands you feel are great quality and fit you well. You can use these brands as go-tos and make the process much easier when shopping. However, try not be a brand-whore, and think less of others due to the brands they wear. There are some fine quality garments in virtually all clothing brands, and until you feel & wear the clothing yourself, you shouldn't make rash judgements on the quality that certain brands can offer. Check for yourself, and buy things that are high in QUALITY, not just BRAND.

Ask me: wave #1

Mark Kwak

Some of you have been asking me questions, and I really appreciate you writing in! I wanted to take this opportunity to answer a couple of them: Can you share some pictures of what you wear? I’m just curious, since it might help give me some ideas on what I should wear. – Jim

Absolutely. I’m in the process of getting a DSLR to make personal pictures a regular thing, but until then, I’ll put up a post soon with some camera phone pics of my attire. In fact, here's what I was wore to work the other day:

Brooks Brothers Black Fleece Ticket Jacket :: Michael Kors Mainline Dress Shirt :: Diesel Darron Jeans :: Theory Leather Belt :: Coach Briefcase

What’s your favorite brand right now? - Jesse

Great question Jesse. This always changes for me, but right now I'm a huge fan of Thom Browne. His stuff is expensive, but the quality is exceptional, and the style unique. Though he has some great pieces, he also makes some really ridiculous, out of this world stuff, so I make sure to choose carefully. Not looking for anything that will make me look like the Hulk.

I really like the leather jacket you posted up in your jackets post. Like you, I also have a really hard time finding a leather jacket that fits, but wanted to get your recommendation on what types would work on someone like me. I’m 5’8” and 150 lbs, and not looking to spend over $750.  – David

Ah, the leather jacket struggles. I feel your pain brother. The good news is, with a $750 budget, you’ll probably find some really great quality leather jackets. The bad news is, it may take a bit of work and looking to find the right one. I personally think leather jackets are a lifetime investment, so I’d choose wisely. Spend a little extra, keep it simple, and take good care of it.  I’m around the same height and weight as you, so if you have the same problem as me, the main issue might be that the sleeves are too long. You can get sleeves altered on some leather jackets, but it will cost you.

My recommendation would be to stick with black or brown, go with a moto or bomber look in lambskin (much softer), keep zippers and accessories as minimal as possible, and get 100% leather. If you want a jacket from an actual motorcycle leather jacket company, I’d recommend Schotts. They make their jackets in the US, have been doing so for ages, and make quality leather. For more fashion-based jackets, I personally like Ralph Lauren and if you have a little more to splurge, I'd go with their black or purple label stuff. The last brand I would recommend is called Temple of Jawnz, or ToJ. This is more of a made-to-measure leather jacket company that offers their jackets for under $800, so you KNOW it will fit. The only downside is that there is a wait time, but if you're willing to wait, try it out. Lots of buzz and positive feedback about that company on forums out here.

Alright gentlemen, keep sending questions over, love to answer them! Until next time.

Jackets, my favorite

Mark Kwak

I'd have to say my favorite article of clothing is the jacket. Always has been, likely always will be. Why do I have such a fascination with jackets? Because they not only keep me warm, but they also are the most noticeable article of clothing one puts on. I mean seriously, a jacket goes on TOP of everything else, covering any clothes you are already wearing. It's also one of the only articles you can take off or put on multiple times in a day. It allows you to effortlessly change your look whether you're outside or inside. Make sure you have an awesome one in your wardrobe.

Here are some jackets that I personally like, all different styles:

Just quick comments on the photos above.

Trenches make you feel boss, and will never go out of style. This is especially true for Burberry , since they invented trenches. Stick with tans, greys, blacks and navys, and make sure to find the right fit, since they'll last you a lifetime.

Parkas, like the wings + horns one above, are extremely versatile, and can be dressed up or down effortlessly. They protect you from the rain, and are quite utilitarian, with the pockets and all.

Matt Bomer from White Collar pulls this jacket off awesomely (is that a word?). I've always had a hard time finding leather jackets that fit me well, but the day I do, I hope it looks like the one above, simple and slim.

Lastly, I think John Varvatos makes some really creative, and quality jackets in his mainline collection. If you've got some $, or rather, $$$, I would take a peak; you might find one that sings to you.

In terms of brand recommendations for jackets, it really depends on the price range you're looking at. Jackets can get astronomically expensive, because designers know they can charge a hefty fine on them. They usually are constructed with thicker fabrics, have a lot more variance in design, and are bought more sparingly, thus people are willing to splurge more.

I recommend spending a bare minimum of $50 on a jacket. I don't think that's unreasonable, because it will last you a long time if you buy the right one.

At the $50-$100 range, I would probably recommend Land's End or Banana Republic with a coupon (easily accessible). Many snobs will gawk at anything from GAP Co., due to their mass production and inconsistency of quality. However, I think that you can get some great jackets here that are stylish and will last. I have a jacket from BR that looks like the parka above, and I love it. People compliment this jacket all the time, and I got it for around $80 bucks.

At the $100-$200 mark, I like Topman and Diesel. I am going to say that these two recommendations are mainly based on look, rather than quality. Not saying that the quality is bad by any means, but just know that I put a bit of weight towards design. I also have to plug in The North Face & Patagonia, where it's function rather than fashion.

When we get to the $200-$400 range, this is where I think one should spend to get a quality jacket that will last. Brooks Brothers and Polo Ralph Lauren have very high quality jackets, and have obviously been in the business forever. In this range, my highest rec goes to Barbour since they make a damn solid jacket, and you'll notice the quality is exceptional.

Between $400-$1000, many jackets start to look absolutely amazing. However, you are now heading into brand name snobbery territory, so watch out!  Brooks Brothers Black Fleece and Ralph Lauren Black Label are two of my favorites.

$1000+: My favorite looking jackets come from John Varvatos Collection, Dior Homme, and Paul Smith Main Line. All three make very sleek, trim, European style jackets that I think can elevate your look. Be careful, as clearly you're spending a lot for the brand name, rather than the pure functionality of the jacket. Hey, but if you have the cash, why not right?

I'd recommend picking up a solid jacket for the fall. Whether you buy a parka, trench, leather, or wool jacket, find one that helps identify your image. It will get noticed.