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

Filtering by Tag: rlbl

Insta-recap #3

Mark Kwak

In case you aren't following me on Instagram, I wanted to share some of my photos here on the blog. I still think I'm a relative newb when it comes to this stuff, but the good news is I'm getting better. Maybe I'll start asking random people whether I can take pictures of them for Simpler Man. San Francisco street style is pretty fascinating, and I bet I can capture some really interesting outfits. But then again, it is a little creepy to ask random people if I can take pictures of them with my phone. I guess we'll have to see.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy:

In case you haven't heard of Loro Piana, this company makes some of the most beautiful and luxurious fabrics known to man. Each piece felt like butter, no joke.

My Redwing Beckman boots. They're damn workhorses.

This is an Isaia sport coat. $3k was it? One day...

My favorite outfit combination for denim jackets.

I wish I had more opportunities to wear these gloves and this storm coat last winter. Damn you San Francisco! Either way, I love Ralph Lauren Black Label.

Rag & Bone cardigan and Ovadia & Sons tie. Some pattern contrast going on here.

Good God, I love red & black combos. Black Fleece shirt, Theory jacket.

These are brown burnished brogue balmorals by big, bad, baller shoe company Santoni.

Great, so there you go for my insta-recap #3. If you have Instagram, follow me @simplerman. My goal is to ultimately be halfway decent at bringing you some awesome menswear photos. Am I there yet? Probably not, but I'll get there, I promise.

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.

Wish List #2

Mark Kwak

That time to discuss my wish list once again. What am I interested in this time? Well, let's just say I currently have a couple holes in my closet, and am in dire need to fill them. Most of all, I need myself the most basic of basics... a solid navy suit. Either way, here's my wish list, the second time around:

Ralph Lauren Black Label V-Neck Sweater

Some reason this sweater has been on my mind for the past several weeks. I visited a Barneys up in Seattle and saw this bad boy and it's so BASIC but the color and material really hypnotize me. Cashmere v neck sweaters are a classic piece, deserving of real estate in every man's wardrobe. The fact that purple is one of my favorite colors and that this one is by Ralph Lauren Black Label just ties the knot. Too bad the price is a bit ridiculous to me.

Black Fleece Cashmere Scarf

I'm really close to just pulling the trigger on this piece. The scarf is a basic design, but I really like the grey and navy combo. It's also by one of my favorite designers, on sale, and 100% cashmere. Perfect in time for fall. Gotta think hard about this one...

Red Wing Brogue Ranger Wingtip Boot

I'm in need of a pair of black boots. They go well with so much and are almost essential when pairing with a black leather jacket. These ones by Red Wing (who I think makes great quality boots) are nice because they not only have the construction I'm looking for, but also stand out with some unique detailing. The little bit of brown doesn't distract from the black boot itself, but allows the boot to be a bit more versatile when pairing with browns.

Suitsupply Jort Navy Suit

Suitsupply is an interesting company that specializes in made-to-measure suits (but sells off the rack as well) that you can buy online or in select stores in the country (NYC and DC I think). They are European in origin, but I visited their NYC shop a couple weeks ago, and unfortunately they didn't have any in my size to try on. However, I could definitely tell the quality was excellent for the price you pay. Canvassed construction, prices starting at $400, and great designs? Call me in. I'm interested in one of these Jort suits, or the Washington style if I'm feeling a bit Harvey Specter-ish.

So there it is! My expensive and ever-changing wish-list. I'm on a hunt to save money in the next couple months, making these items even harder to look at.

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.