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

Filtering by Tag: magnanni

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.

The Black Oxford

Mark Kwak

Why is proper footwear ignored so often today? Guys think they can look good while wearing their Asics running shoes alongside their chinos and sports coat. Or better yet, wearing Jordans with their slacks and dress shirts. God bless these people, but let's get our act together gentlemen!

The reality is, shoes can literally make or break an entire outfit. Nothing saddens me more than a man who wears a flawless outfit on top, then completely ruins it with an odd, beat up pair of shoes.  Let's talk about upgrading your look from the bottom up. Let's talk dress shoes.

To keep it nice and simple, let me tell you that you need to own at least one pair of black, and one pair of brown dress shoes. I'll be focusing on black shoes in this post, as I believe it is the more important of the two.

Yes, black dress shoes are everywhere. You can go to Kmart and get a pair right now for under $20, or you can spend $1000 on a pair of Santonis. The range of choices makes shopping for black dress shoes a bit more difficult. So let me see if I can guide you a bit.

What's a good style? I'd say the first pair of dress shoes you need to get are a pair of oxfords. Forget derbys or loafers, you need to go with an outright classic. Make sure the shoe looks nice and streamlined, without a boxy toe. Square or boxed toes used to be popular at one point in history, but today, people will dismiss any sense you have in style if you're caught wearing them.

You want a rounded toe that helps elongate your foot a bit, and stick to a classic leather texture (no grains or patent leather). Also, if you like the Captoe look, go for it, since it's accepted in all formal situations as well.

If you can, I'd say go for a leather sole. Not all rubber soles are bad, but leather soles will usually last longer, as they are generally stitched onto the shoe and not glued like rubber.

How much should I pay? Personally, I think you shouldn't spend any less than $100 on a pair of nice dress shoes. Good news is that you can find sales on black dress shoes quite regularly. Whether it be Nordstrom's anniversary or half yearly sale, Macy's sales and coupons, or seasonal fall and spring sales just about anywhere, you can find a nice pair of black oxfords for much less than retail price. I personally spend about $200-$300, since I can find amazing quality shoes at those prices.

What can I wear them with? In terms of pairing, the part that matters is really the pants. Dark denim and grey, navy, or black slacks should do the trick just fine.

What is a good brand? This will largely depend on your budget. For me, the best bang for the buck shoe company is Allen Edmonds, hands down. Their shoes range from $200-$400, so they're not cheap, but they are excellent quality. In my opinion, no other brand matches them at their price point. By the way, right now they're having a huge sale! Check out their website and get a pair while you can, the promotion ends Oct 9.

Below that price-range, I would probably recommend a shoe maker called Meermin or possibly Johnston & Murphy.

Going above Allen Edmonds, my favorite brands are Crockett & Jones, Alden, and Santoni. Just a warning that the prices can get very high with these brands.

Here are some of my favorite black dress shoes: $100 - $250: Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue, Magnanni Frederico, Allen Edmonds Kenilworth

$250 - $350: Allen Edmonds Park Avenue, Loake Dorchester

$350  and above: Alden Straight Tip, Crockett & Jones Connaught

The right pair of black dress shoes can last you a decade, and with the proper care, even longer. Many high end shoe manufacturers will also resole your shoe for you at a pretty reasonable cost, shipping the shoe back to you in almost new condition. Know that spending the extra money for a good one will be worth it in the long run.

So, feel the need to start looking classier? Get yourself a pair of nice black dress shoes! It'll make you look exquisite... I guarantee it.