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

Filtering by Tag: nordstrom

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.

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.

Nordstrom's 10 Fall Essentials

Mark Kwak

While I was doing some research for my grey crewneck sweatshirt post, I came across Nordstrom's 10 fall essentials post, and wanted to share it with you all. Not necessarily because it's groundbreaking or a must-see, but because I do agree with a lot of it, and think it could be a decent guide for some of you heading into F/W 2013.

In case you're too lazy to click through, here's the cheat sheet:

1. Wool overcoat : Definitely agree with this, a must for winter. Look for one that ends before your knees though.

2. Crewneck sweatshirt : See previous post to view my opinion on the matter.

3. Quilted jacket : This is probably one I disagree with. Quilted jackets (especially by Barbour) are cool and all, but certainly not an essential in my book.

4. Chunky cardigan : My chunky cardigan has saved me from the cold on more than a couple occasions. Thus, this is also a must.

5. Brown leather-strap watch : I'm finding that brown leather straps are more versatile than black leather straps for me. Perhaps it's because I own more earth-toned clothing, but either way, I concur with this item.

6. Patterned sport coat : This is another one that I don't necessarily find essential. I'm a fan of patterned sport coats, but don't go rushing out to buy one of these just because Nordstrom told you to.

7. Soft briefcase : Here's my thought on briefcases. Yep, if you're over the age of 21, you need one.

8. Corduroy pants : Corduroy pants came back last year pretty strong during the fall and winter months. I think they are a good item to have since they're warm and also something different from your daily denim. Essential though? Maybe.

9. Iconic sunglasses : Not sure why this is a must have for fall and winter, but sure, iconic sunglasses are always good to have.

10. Dress boots : I own 3 dress boots, need I say more?

Though everything Nordstrom.com offers isn't always my style or taste, there are some really good finds in there if you dig long enough. Get yourself some fall/winter clothing in preparation for the changing winds. Cheers.

Gray crewneck sweatshirt

Mark Kwak

Back when I was in grade school, I always saw gym teachers, or sometimes senior citizens, wearing gray crewneck sweatshirts out on their weekday strolls. It was so fashionably lame to me at the time, that I started to weed crewneck sweatshirts out from my wardrobe entirely. It wasn't until last year that I started to rethink my position.

After seeing blog entry after blog entry of awesome outfits incorporating crewneck sweatshirts, I had no choice but to turn 180 on this particular subject, and in fact, I have started to get a couple of them for my wardrobe once again. Among all of the colors and textures though, I believe the most versatile and dare I say fashionable, is the plain heather gray cotton crewneck sweatshirt.

Yeah, I know, how boring and plain... but hear me out.

The gray crewneck sweatshirt is one of those rare pieces that you can dress down equally as much as you can dress up. I mean let's break it down for a second. You can use a gray crewneck sweatshirt for just about any casual situation out there, we're talking workouts, lounging, even sleeping. However, it can also look  just as great (if not better) with a dress shirt underneath, some dark denim, and a pair of wingtips. Hell, add a tie if you want, like Chris Paul does below:

The simplicity of this piece allows you to wear whatever over or under as needed. If you're feeling a little dressy, pair that tie and jacket with it, and conversely, if you're feeling lazy, just plop it on top of your T shirt and you're good to go. Either way, I think it's a piece that everyone should look into owning for this season, especially since we're heading into fall/winter.

Here are a couple crewneck sweatshirts that I would recommend you take a look at:

$52 J.Crew

$69 American Giant

$115-$130 GANT & Todd Snyder

$220 Rag & Bone

And though I haven't actually seen the fit and quality of these, you can get an uber budget version of the sweater at Target: $8.

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 summer sales begin...

Mark Kwak

 

Looks like retailers are looking to shed their summer pieces already. Crazy considering that summer hasn't even really started yet, right? Some sales have begun, and there are more to come. Here are just a few notable ones:

1. Barney's: Up to 60% off.

2. Billy Reid: Up to 50% off.

3. Brooks Brothers Black Fleece: 40% off all.

4. J.Crew : 40% off summer pieces.

5. Paul Smith: 30% off, but 50% with coupon SS13SALE20EUS today and tomorrow.

6. GANT: 40% off a lot of their items.

7. Allen Edmonds: Tent sale, up to 50% off select items like the Strand & Park Ave. Catch is that it's by phone or local only.

8. Nordstrom: The Half-yearly men's sale is on now!

I'll probably post more as the days go on, but get at it while you can! Some of these sales come really only twice a year.

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.