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

Filtering by Tag: shirts

Update on Hucklebury

Mark Kwak

Hucklebury Label Remember several months ago when I posted about a shirt company called Hucklebury? Well, it turns out that they've been up to a lot since I last checked in with them.

They started a Kickstarter showcasing their new products, and there are some marked improvements from their previous shirts, which I still enjoyed. The Green Madison Gingham 02 Hucklebury

So here are the main differences:

1. The shirts are now made in the USA, all sourced from SF.

2. They have a 365 day guarantee, where if anything rips or is dissatisfying, they'll fix it.

3. They have a $78 price point now, for a better shirt.

Seems like a pretty legit deal to me. Check 'em out if you have a chance.  Here's their kickstarter.

 

Denim vs chambray

Mark Kwak

Every now and again, people will ask me what the difference is between denim and chambray, since both seem to look pretty similar. Well my friends, today I shall reveal the difference, and fingers crossed that you don't leave here more confused than when you entered. chambraydenim

Alright, so the picture above shows you a denim jacket and a chambray shirt (though I'm using a bad example of a chambray shirt here since it has a herringbone design). Generally, this is how you'll see denim and chambray used: denim for jackets and pants, chambray for shirts. However, it's important to note that this isn't always the case. Denim can occasionally come in shirt form and chambray can be used for jackets.

Anyhow, the main difference between the two is in the way that they are woven. Denim is woven diagonally, while chambray is plainly woven, meaning that there's more of a traditional criss-cross weaving happening. The best way to tell is actually by looking on the inside of your jeans. Since they're probably made of denim, you'll notice the fabric is woven diagonally. This weave will look very different on chambray.

So in all, clearly not that big of a difference between the two. And perhaps a rather boring difference if anything. Either way, I wanted to at least clear up any confusion.  Alright, getting' out of here, happy day before the 4th!

chambraydenim2

Gap Denim Jacket :: Gitman Vintage Chambray Shirt

Product Review: Hucklebury Shirts

Mark Kwak

Visit Hucklebury's site.

One thing that I think I have too much of in my closet is shirts, more specifically, dress shirts. As a result, I haven't been all that interested in these new shirt companies popping up that claim to have the latest and greatest in "shirt-building" technology. I've stuck with my tried and true Brooks Brothers, Thom Browne, and Gitman Vintage shirts, and haven't really looked back.

However, the other day, I had the pleasure of meeting a guy named Parag, one of the founders of Hucklebury, an online shirt-maker based in San Francisco. He told me about his line of ready-to-wear dress shirts, and actually got me pretty curious. Why? Because he brought some shirts for me to look at, and my first impressions were wildly positive.

I took a couple of the shirts home (unfortunately they weren't my size, so I had to have my friend try them on) to see what I thought of them overall. Here are some pictures of the shirts I received:

huckle1

huckle2

As you can see, these are the same shirts that were actually used in the Signature Style post I put up yesterday. For more pictures, check that post out.

So let's get into the review. I'm judging these shirts on five main criteria: fit, design, quality, value, and experience. See below for my thoughts.

Fit: Hucklebury offers two fits for their shirts, classic and slim. I personally took home just the slim fit, but I'll tell you, the shirts fit pretty damn well on my buddy. They have a very tailored look to them that I generally see on Made-to-Measure shirts, and also have a decent length for untucking if you're average or slightly above average height. There are darts on the back for that more tailored look, but the shirts aren't overtly slim either. I have a feeling that the fit would work well with a wide array of folks. One problem, I will say, is that they don't offer a smaller size than 15" x 32" at the moment. They told me they will be changing that soon, but just wanted to let you all know in case you're a smaller guy.

Design: Checking through their site, most of their patterns and designs are pretty solid. Nothing too flashy, nothing too outdated. Classics like gingham, stripes, checks, and solids are all in the mix, and the colors they offer are standard. One interesting note though: the classic fit shirts are offered with a spread collar, while the slim fit shirts are offered with a button down collar. You can't get it any other way. Not sure why they did this, but just wanted to let you know in case you decide to order.

Quality: I think this is where Hucklebury excels. The quality of the shirts is wonderful. These shirts are made of 100% Egyptian cotton from some of the best mills around, Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti included. The construction is rock solid, the attention to detail is awesome (check out the collars, cuffs, darts, and buttons), and clearly you can see that a lot of thought has been put into making each shirt both comfortable and durable. So in all, the fabric, stitching, and detail is top notch. No complaints here.

Value: Right now, shirts are between $110 and $120 a pop. Though these shirts might be worth the price, I feel like this is dangerous territory to play in, especially considering that there are many shirt makers out there offering made to measure stuff within the $80-$100 range. I do still think that the fabric and quality justify the price, but I can't say that these shirts necessarily have amazing value.

Experience: The website was pretty easy to navigate, the customer service was wonderful, and the process was self explanatory. No problems for me. Also, the good news is that if there are problems or concerns, you can give feedback directly to the owners, and Parag has told me that they take feedback very seriously, and have made many adjustments as necessary.

So in conclusion, do I like these shirts? Yes. Do I wish they offered more sizes, variation in collars, and cheaper prices? Yes as well.

So they're not perfect, but the superb quality and fit certainly win me over, and get my recommendation overall. If you're in need of a new dress shirt, try Hucklebury out. If anything, you're supporting a San Franciscan shirtmaker's endeavor to bring you the best quality stuff at reasonable prices.

Some questions about dress shirts

Mark Kwak

So the other day, I got a question regarding my essential man's wardrobe post that I put up several months ago. The question was specifically around dress shirts, and I decided to try something a little different this time around by answering via audio instead of text. See below.

Q&A : 1

Trying to upgrade Simpler Man one day at a time!

Oh yeah, if you hate this approach and think this is a terrible change, let me know in the comments below, I'm all ears gentlemen.

 

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.

Ask me: wave #2

Mark Kwak

Time for the second heat of question answering. Thanks for writing in guys! I know there's several more questions that have come to me, so I'll make sure to get to them in a future post. Also, you can leave comments below as well!

Are cargo pants back in? If I wanted to get some, any recommendations? - Andrew You're in luck! Cargo pants are coming back in, but you must know that it's a different breed of cargo pants that are in today, compared to ten years ago (give or take a couple years). Cargo pants today are slimmer, tapered in the leg, and with a little less fabric on the pockets, to keep the slimmer look in tact. I own a pair of Uniqlo Perfect Shape cargo pants and love them. Not only are they great quality, but also relatively inexpensive at $39.90. Uniqlo is only in NYC (and SF, starting Oct 5) so if you can’t get them there, I’d recommend either Ralph Lauren or GANT by Michael Bastian.

Not a question, simply feedback. All I can say is that I love what you're doing, this blog is absolutely wonderful. The blog is simple and easy to follow and your posts are helpful and informative. Please keep posting more! :) - James

Man, you are too kind. Thanks so much for following, and I appreciate the comment. Things like this keep me going!

Is it OK for a dress shirt to be a little baggy when wearing a suit? Also, I like the option of wearing my shirt untucked with jeans or tucked with chinos, so I get 16.5 34/35 slim fit Brook's Brothers button downs that seem to do the trick. The problem, however, is that I can't close the collar without feeling uncomfortable, so dressing up the casual a bit with a tie is out of the question. Do you have any recommendations? I know BB is European cut and thus the better fit, but do I need to sacrifice the collar space for a better-fitting shirt?- Adam

Great questions Adam! To your first question, having a baggy dress shirt is OK, but unfortunately that's about it; you can certainly look better.  We want to make sure to get rid of as much excess baggage as we can with our clothing, since it will only make us look bigger than we are (even if you are already quite a big dude). This is true even when you are wearing a suit. If you notice carefully, you'll find that the suit gets a bit wider on the sides when your dress shirt bags up. Plus, we oftentimes take off our suit jackets, so it pays to have a slimmer shirt. Now, this doesn't mean go and find the slimmest possible shirt on the market. You'll look ridiculous if you're bursting at the seams. I would opt to find a shirt that fits well in the shoulders and chest in a slim / city / tailored / European cut. If they still don't fit, then buy a sizing that is slightly more loose (again with the shoulders and chest fitting well) and then get it taken in from the back by a tailor for $15-20 bucks.

To your second question, the short answer is no, don't sacrifice the collar space for a better fitting shirt. Part of the reason a BB button down is so valuable is its versatility both casually and formally, and you don't want to throw that away. However, there is a way to make this work. If you like BB shirts, I'd say stick to the slim fit in the larger size, (maybe 17 34/35) and again, pay 15 bucks to get the sides taken in by a tailor. This is a really easy job, so I'm sure your local laundromat can do it for you cheap. You'll find that the collar fits fine, and you also have slim sides. As long as the shoulders fit fine, and the sleeves aren't too long/short, you'll have yourself a very nice looking shirt for both casual and dress occasions. I can't stress this enough... just take it to a tailor and your shirts will look 20x better.