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

Filtering by Tag: outerwear

Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

Mark Kwak

Finally, I'm starting the outerwear series I promised you all a couple weeks ago. First on the agenda... leather jackets. leather7

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I'm a huge fan of leather jackets. What's not to like? They protect you from the wind, feel great to the touch, and of course, make you look incredibly badass.

As a result, over time, leather jackets have basically become my favorite article of clothing. I'll tell you though, the journey to get there was not easy. I don't have the most forgiving body type, so leather jackets often looked weird on me. Sleeves would be too long, shoulders would fit awkwardly, and some reason, most jackets gave me the silhouette reminiscent of an NFL linebacker.

Also, the cost of real leather jackets were always prohibitive. If I finally found one that I liked, I usually needed to take a deep breath before looking at the price tag- mainly to prepare for shock. Usually every jacket extended well beyond the $1k mark.

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Over time though, I realized two things. First was that it's not easy to find a leather jacket that fits well. This is largely due to the fact that leather jackets are not easy to alter, so the flexibility of customizing your jacket disappears. The second is that it is well worth it to spend the extra buck for a nice leather jacket, because it will last you for a lifetime.

After understanding these two concepts, I decided to first, be patient with shopping for a leather jacket. The investment would be substantial, so making the right decision was crucial. Second, I needed to suck it up and just be okay with paying the money, knowing that it would be hard to get a decent leather jacket without spending a bit more. Plus, they don't really go out of style.

As a result, here are the two I ended up with:

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 Sunglasses: Ray Ban | Shirt: J.Crew | Jeans: Rag & Bone

Belt: Hugo Boss | Jacket (Black): Theory (similar)

Jacket (Brown): Levi's Made & Crafted (similar)

So this is an outerwear series in preparation for winter. You may be asking why leather jackets are part of that list. Well, leather jackets are actually appropriate year-round, and winter is no exception. Especially in cities like San Francisco, leather jackets work great during the colder months, especially when paired with a scarf and sweater.

They do well against the wind as they're not porous, they are great at insulation (depending on the type you get), and the style is not only appropriate, but encouraged during the fall and winter months.

Get one if you have the opportunity, you won't regret it.

Photo Credit: Chris Eldredge

Essential Outerwear

Mark Kwak

There are a number of reasons why I enjoy fall the most when it comes to menswear. Among those reasons, one in particular is my love of outerwear. My favorite category of clothing, hands down.

Well the good news is that there are a variety of different types of outerwear to choose from come October/November. The bad news is that this "unleashing of the bulls" per se, can get a bit overwhelming- you'll have a hard time figuring out what coat to actually buy.

To make things a little easier, I've outlined what I consider the essential outerwear list. This doesn't mean you need to own every piece on the list, but choosing a couple from here might do your wardrobe some good. In no particular order, here they are:

1. The Peacoat

2. The Field Jacket / Utility Coat

3. The Trenchcoat

4. The Leather Jacket

5. The Topcoat

6. The Cold Weather Coat

In the following weeks, I hope to delve a bit deeper into each of these jackets/coats, and let you know why I think they're awesome pieces to have in your closet. Keep an eye out, and also let me know in the comments below if there is anything specific you'd like to know about each item.

PS: I realize that I never finished by accessories series (only went through about half of the items on that list, here's part 1 , 2 , 3). That's definitely going to be intermingled with this series!

 

One day: outfit for the office

Mark Kwak

You've woken up, taken a shower, and opened your closet. Gentlemen, it is time to get dressed. Let's talk about your first outfit- your outfit for the office.

Going to the office can differ from person to person. Those who work in the tech industry, like myself, have much more freedom to wear casual clothing day-to-day. Jeans, T shirt, even flip flops are all fair game. Clearly a stark contrast from the days when I used to work in financial services. Back then, it was business casual on a daily basis, with the occasional suit for important client meetings.

Since occupation really matters when it comes to proper attire, please take my words with a grain of salt. Some people have to wear uniforms, some work from home in their sweatpants, and some work at places where the job requires constant physical activity. In all these situations, outfits will obviously differ from what I propose, so let's just say my recommendations will cover more of a generic office setting.

1. In an office setting, no matter how casual, I think it's still important to look as good as you can, so my first preference is to ditch the T shirts, polos, and short-sleeve dress shirts, and stick with a long sleeve button up shirt. The more casual the workplace, the more casual the button-up can be. Here are some things that distinguish a more casual button up from a more formal one.

Casual:
Can have a button-down collar
Doesn't have to be tucked in
Material drapes easier (flannels, linens, oxfords)
More patterns
 
Formal:
Usually spread, point, or semi spread collars
Needs to be tucked in
Needs to have a "pressed" look
Less patterns

I say stay away from being too formal. Leave most accessories attached to the shirt at home (tie, tie bar, cufflinks), and roll up your sleeves if it gets too hot or you'd like to be even more casual.

2. Now for pants, it again depends on the environment you're in, but I think your best bet is a pair of solid-colored slacks (grey or navy). If you'd like to be a bit more casual, I'd try a solid pair of dark-wash jeans or slim chinos/cords. Shorts are a no-no, patterns like camo and designs on back pockets (apart from simple lines) are also a no-no. This is not an area that you want to attract attention to. Keep it conservative, but of course well-fitted.

3. Shoes need to be a form of leather. Unless it's casual Friday and you have leeway to wear whatever, I would make sure to stick with some sort of leather shoe, whether it be dress shoes, suede boots, or whatever. This is critically important in my mind, because shoes actually make a far larger impression on other people than you might initially think. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... leather shoes distinguish a boy from a man more than any other piece of clothing in your outfit (in my opinion, that is). For more formal situations, go with cleaner designs (like staying away from wingtips or any type of brogues), and stick with black or brown only. Oxfords and derbys will be your best bet more formally, loafers can be good once you get more casual.

4. As for accessories, I would say a watch and belt is about all that you really need. Stick with leather or steel band watches (of normal size... as watches larger than 47mm are kind of gaudy at the office) and belts that roughly match the color of your shoes.

5. Now, to top it all off, you should enter the office with some sort of outerwear. Whether you keep it on during the workday is up to you, but having a sports coat / jacket / overcoat / sweater is a good way to mix things up a bit between being at the office and being outside of it. 

There you go! Maybe you knew everything here, maybe you didn't. Either way, I think your office-wear is going to be what you have on for the longest part of the day, so it's important that things FIT well, and are matched well in colors / patterns / etc. When in doubt, keep it simple, and remember, this is not a setting where you want to stick out like a sore thumb.