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

Filtering by Tag: style

Curated shops I like

Mark Kwak

Source: Need Supply

Source: Need Supply

We are utterly inundated with choice. Too many websites, too many stores, too many brands. Sometimes it's nice for a website to help curate only the best stuff for you.

I think there are several sites that do an excellent job of curating clothing/accessories/goods, and have become my go-to's as a result. I try my best to buy from these companies directly to support them, but I will admit, I do also take some items and plug them into Google or Amazon to find a better price.

Source: Of a Kind

Source: Of a Kind

Here's a small list for you to check out:

1. Need-Supply: This is one slick e-store. They have a fairly particular style, but even if it's not your cup of tea, they seem to only carry quality goods. Good news is that for every two items they carry that are fairly expensive, they carry one that is reasonable in price (for example, Filson & Carhartt vs Herschel).

I would take a good look at their accessories section as well. I've bought a thing or two from there, and have never been disappointed.

2. J.Crew in Good Company: As a company, J.Crew is hit or miss. I feel like two and a half years ago, they had their heyday, but today, they're potentially on a downswing. Either way, one part of their website that is rarely miss is a part called J.Crew in Good Company. This is their collaboration section, wherein J.Crew curates high quality pieces from other brands, while maintaining their excellent sensibility in style.

Some of my favorite brands like Alden, Barbour, Red Wing, and Drake's are represented in this section, and I have to say... J.Crew is one excellent curator. Unfortunately these items are generally not eligible for sale, but there's always a small subsection that seem to go on clearance. Sometimes you can find a pretty great grab if you browse at the right time.

3. Of a Kind: This site I'm not quite as familiar with, but recently I've been checking up on it quite a bit. I could be wrong, but I believe this site was originally made to help women discover emerging fashion designers. As it turns out, the staff at Of a Kind have pretty good taste, even in the menswear world.

They sell only a small number of items on their site, but I'm a fan of almost all of them. Seems like they have limited quantities of everything too, which makes each item that much more special.

Source: Of a Kind

Source: Of a Kind

Hey, sometimes you don't want to do all the research to find things you like. Let someone else curate, and you can just choose from a more limited selection. Makes your life a bit simpler.

Alright, and now I'm off.

Coordinating certain colors

Mark Kwak

I think that coordinating colors can be a great way to indicate to the world that you understand how style works. A simple matching of the belt to the shoe, or socks to the sweater can be a refreshing aesthetic for all to see. Today, I want to talk about coordinating colors a bit more subtly, and little techniques you can use to showcase your fashion knowledge.

For example, I just shot this picture right now (sorry for the shoddy quality), but this particular shirt has an interesting detail to it. It's charcoal all around, but the front pocket is actually navy.

pocketNow, why am I showing you this shirt? I'm showing it to you because it's a great example of a type of shirt that I can use to start matching colors around with. For me, that little hint of navy gives me a great excuse to add another navy piece to this outfit. Perhaps it's a pair of blue jeans, or my navy Vans.

In this case, I'm using the secondary color (navy), not the primary one (charcoal), to build my outfit around. And trust me, this isn't limited to a shirt with a mismatching pocket, I mean who really wears this type of shirt anyway?

Take a look at accessories, or pieces that have multiple colors in it (like a striped or plaid shirt). I think that matching up other parts of your outfit to the colors that are on that accessory, stripe or plaid just makes sense. If there's some light blue in your shirt, why not wear a light blue shoelace? It's those types of details that help ME know that YOU are in the know.

Below is an awesome example of why matching certain colors can make a huge difference in the aesthetic appeal of your outfit. In this picture, there is one guy who stands out to me. The guy with the pink flower on his lapel. Why? Because it works with the socks he's wearing. Sure, his socks won't be visible for most of the day, but the moment he sits down, that subtle detail of the pinks matching will make a huge difference.

 

So really, all I'm trying to say is that you should look at colors with a bit more intentionality. The subtle details can make a huge difference, and it's worth thinking about. Is your watch band olive in color? Try putting on some olive colored shoes. Got some red in your plaid shirt? Time to take your red wristband out. Purple jacket? Oh hi purple socks.

We all know it's good to coordinate colors overall, but take it to the next level and start complementing / matching some of the subtle parts of your outfit. Trust me, I've been complimented on some of those details even when I felt like there's no way anyone would ever have been able to notice.

 

Taking decent care of your appearance

Mark Kwak

There is a person that I see every now and again who makes me think to myself "What's this guy's deal? He needs to get it together." Unfortunately though, I've never really had a conversation with this guy before, but honestly, I wouldn't have wanted to even if I had the chance. My shallow impression of him was that he was dirty, socially inept, and uncomfortably odd. And before you go guns blazing and harshly judging my inconsiderateness, let me first explain why.

I often see this gentleman on my daily commute to work. To paint the picture, imagine a 5-foot-10, brown haired guy in his late twenties with a slight beer belly. What looks like an oily, dandruff-filled handlebar mustache dons his face, and the hair on his head is equally as unkempt, shagging out in any which direction. Now that's all fine, but as you go below his neck, it starts to get a bit weirder.

From what I've seen, this guy rotates between only two T-shirts. One with a graphically drawn tuxedo on the front, and one that is bright neon green, and far too small for his body. The tuxedo shirt has literally started to yellow at the pits and stomach (why the stomach, I don't know), and the neon shirt seems to get tighter and tighter by the day... oh yeah, did I mention it's neon?

Now when you get to his pants, he's always in the same pair of jeans, and they're a pair of light skinny jeans. Probably okay right? Wrong, they're clearly three sizes too small, and I can not only make out the full shape of his manhood, but there happens to be a small hole right around there for all to see.

Okay, so I'm sorry for being so harsh. I mean I don't even know this guy! Maybe these are the only two shirts and pair of jeans that this guy can afford, who am I to judge? Also, I'm cool with unique personal style and signature looks, and clearly this guy has his own thing going on here, so, respect right?

Well, one day on the bus, I got a slap in the face telling me just that. I happened to be standing pretty close to him while he was chatting on his iPhone, talking somewhat discreetly to a family member, and I not only learned that he had a fairly prestigious job, but was also an incredibly interesting person, just based on that phone call. He was eloquent in his speech, starting a non-profit food business on the side, and financially helping his family with some medical problems they were going through. I didn't expect "that guy on the MUNI who wears the dirty tuxedo shirt," to be so awesome as a human being. Suffice it to say, I felt like a terrible person for judging the way I did.

The moral of the story here: 1. Don't be so judging, like me, you'll make a fool out of yourself. And 2.  Whether fair or not, you will likely be judged by those around you just by the clothing you wear.  By stepping out into the world, you're sending a certain message to folks by donning an oily mustache, unkempt hair, pit-stained T's, and jeans that look like they'll rip to pieces at any given moment, even if on the inside, you are the exact opposite of what you look like on the outside.

So, as awesome as you may be as a person, please take care of your appearances as well, at least to some extent. Put on some decent clothing, groom up a bit, and look somewhat respectful if you have the means. People will interact with you under a more favorable pretense, which I think is always helpful in life.

Rapid Fire Questions #3

Mark Kwak

It's that time again. That time where I answer a bunch of random menswear-related questions as briefly as I can. Sorry for the brevity, but it's also kind of the point. Most of these are based on emails I get, but some of them are based on people just asking me from time to time in person.

Purely my opinions, but hey, why not put them out there. Here are my last two rapid fire question sessions: 1 , 2. Without further ado:

How many sunglasses do you own? Just 2.

No show socks or no socks? No show socks. Hygiene matters.

How do you organize your shoes? I have a shoerack on my door. It's this one.

J.Crew or Banana Republic? J.Crew, mainly for their partnerships.

Any celebrity's fashion you hate? Yes, Russell Westbrook.

Best inexpensive watch brand? Timex for quartz, perhaps Orient for automatic.

You like Fall fashion or Spring fashion? Definitely Fall. Way more interesting pieces.

Shoes or boots? Boots are great, but definitely shoes on this one. 

Most coveted watch? Patek Philippe Nautilus, too bad it's about a thousand times what I'm willing to pay at the moment. 

Any piece of clothing on your mind now? I need a pair of khaki shorts. It's 82 degrees in SF right now.

Best brand gone bad? Hugo Boss. Poor decision to outfit the Nazi Party. 

Argyle socks or striped socks? Striped- the more colors the better.

Favorite type of dress shoe? Brown calfskin wingtips.

What is this tech company that you work at? I don't know why I get so many emails about this one. I work at Google.

What's a good way to find out if your shirt sleeves are the right length? Check this out.

Wallet advice? Keep it minimal. Money clip, card holder, or small bifold. 

Alright fellas, there's my 3rd Rapid Fire. These are kind of fun actually. If you ever have questions, don't hesitate to ask! Here's my ask me page.

Till next time. Enjoy the weather out there if it's as nice as it is over here.

The art of getting dressed

Mark Kwak

2a98dc02_Mariarti_01_1200

Before work, school, or just going out in public, we all stand in front of our closets and make a conscious decision on what we will be wearing for the rest of the day. This process fascinates me, as each and everyone of us is faced with the same dilemma, yet we all make different decisions based on our personalities or circumstances.

To some, getting dressed is merely a functional process of covering one’s body with clothing. To these people, it’s a matter of what can be reached the quickest, rather than what can look the best.

To others, it’s a ritual that must be painstakingly consistent, down to a T. Whether it be based on a rotation or season, these people need to be dressed a certain, unchangeable way, mainly to make sure they don’t break what’s working.

And of course there are people who think a bit more about what the occasions (and people) in front of them will look like, and try to dress accordingly. They want to portray themselves to the world in a certain light, and serve a tailored message to those who look at them.

I don't believe anyone is right or wrong in this matter; it’s all a matter of choice. However, let me tell you why I personally think the ritual of getting dressed properly in the morning actually matters.

DSC_0440

To me, getting dressed is more than just putting on clothing. It's a time when I get to decide what type of image I want to put in front of others. Without speaking a single word, I will already have portrayed a certain message, swagger, and lifestyle just from the outfit I put on.

If I'm wearing thick gold chains, baggy acid-wash jeans, and high-top Jordans, I'm clearly sending a different image for others to identify me by, than if I'm wearing a black suit and tie. And as you all probably know from personal experience, first impressions are incredibly important, almost unfairly so. So why wouldn't I want to carefully craft the message I send to others?

Now, people will argue that it doesn't matter what others think of you, or that people who judge you for your choice of your clothing are just plain superficial.

To some extent, I agree. We shouldn't take other peoples' opinions too seriously, and superficial judgement can be misleading or unfair. However, the truth is that we don't live in a world where other peoples' opinions don't matter at all. Your relationships, your decisions, and even your career are influenced by peoples' perception of you, and you have no way to avoid it. The moment you step out into the public, there are expectations of you, and if you want to gain respect or paint a favorable picture of yourself to others, you better make the right impression, which might include learning how to dress properly.

When you know the rules of dressing properly, and the types of clothing you need to attain, it will certainly pay off in the long run. The opposite sex- and same sex- may appreciate the effort, the level of respect you gain from the general public will likely increase, and you'll feel more confident about yourself, as your clothing will serve as an extension of you.

Also, whether we like it or not, people choose to interact with us differently based on our clothing. Walk into a luxury hotel with a baseball hat and baggy jeans; I guarantee the amount of service and attention you get will pale in comparison to when you walk into that same hotel with a sport coat. I've done these types of social experiments myself... and I can confirm it. I'm even thinking of making a video about this phenomenon.

So in all, I want to encourage you all to think about what you wear just a little bit more. Express, empower, and of course, be yourself through your clothing. Craft the message you want to send to others, and show them that you're willing to put in the effort.

By virtue of visiting a blog like mine, I'm confident you're already on your way there, but just in case, I thought I would reinforce the topic with this post. Of course in a billion words or more, in true Simpler Man fashion.

Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: Travel in style

Mark Kwak

A couple weeks ago, I started a series called "Thoughts From a Simpler Woman," where I brought to you a woman's perspective on menswear. In case you missed it, here's the first part of the series, which went over some essential pieces that belong in every man's wardrobe. In this post, I'm continuing the series, with the help of my friend Stephanie, who is both an avid traveler and fashion enthusiast. She's a Hipmunk marketer by day, and trendy fashionista by night... someone who you might want to listen to.

Today, she'll be discussing a topic very near and dear to both of her passions, giving you advice on clothing you should wear while traveling. Now, without further ado:

---

Travel in Style

I’ve done my fair share of traveling, and if there’s one thing I know to be true it’s this: you never know who you’ll meet while traveling. Whether for business or leisure, a one hour or twenty-one hour flight, you should always be dressed to impressed. Your peers may be sporting sweatpants for comfort, but let’s be honest -  a future love interest, colleague, or celebrity, will not make small talk with someone in their sweatpants. So how exactly does one dress comfortably for a cross-country flight, yet still look polished enough to get bumped to first class? Here's the perfect outfit to wear while traveling.

1. Casual button-up.

 

Choose one that both fits well and is comfortable to wear while seated for long periods of time. T-shirts can make you look sloppy and disheveled. Airlines certainly don’t upgrade those who wear t-shirts to first class. If you want to keep pretty casual, I like these chambray ones from J.Crew.

2. Cardigan.

Any seasoned traveler knows to layer. A classic cardigan or sweater not only adds another dimension to your ensemble, but will help co mbat the airplane’s circulated cold air. It’s truly a utilitarian piece. Here's a pretty affordable one from Topman.

3. Simple raincoat.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 1.02.17 PM

A simpler man should always be prepared without exerting too much effort. Traveling with a light raincoat assures that you’ll be ready to face whatever the weather may be at your final destination. Choose a coat that you can easily take off and fold during your flight. Try a parka like this by Land's End.

4. Slip on loafers.

Loafers are refined, yet casual and versatile. They are a great option for flights because you can easily slip them off, and quickly get through the security line. If loafers aren’t your style, try a slip on boot - just avoid anything with laces. I know these are expensive, but I'm a fan of these by To Boot New York.

5. Tab closure pants.

 

Wear nice pants. Don’t wear basketball shorts, sweatpants, or even lululemon workout pants. Men, wear actual pants when you travel. There are plenty of brands that make pants you’d love to wear while sitting for hours. If you don’t want to hassle with a belt at the security line, opt for tab closure pants. And please, wear a slim fit.

6. Carry on.

Last but not least, have a decent carry on bag. Nothing crazy - both Louis Vuitton and your old high school gym bag scream unapproachable. A great carry on bag is like the cherry on top of your stellar outfit - don’t overlook it. For lighter travel, try a duffel or weekender, for longer trips, a simple rolling bag is best.

There you have it. All you need to ensure that you’ll never look frumpy at your terminal. If anything, I'll certainly appreciate it.

 

 

Steph Bio PicStephanie is an avid traveler, visiting a total 13 countries and counting. She's zip-lined in Costa Rica, food tasted in New Orleans, and backpacked across Europe. She also made sure to stop by Milan, London, Paris, and New York, just to experience the highlights of international street fashion.

 

Picture Sources: J.Crew, Nordstrom, Everlane, Land's End, Bloomingdales

Rapid fire questions #2

Mark Kwak

Thought I'd bring up another round of rapid fire style questions. Compiled by my friends, answered by me. Again, these are just my personal preferences, so take 'em or leave 'em as you wish. So here we go:

To cuff or not to cuff pants?  Casual pants, yes. Dress pants, no.

Which is worse, pleats or four button suits? Four button suits.

Are you interested in women's fashion? Not particularly. A fashionable woman though... that's another story.

Favorite menswear blog recently? Menswear Dog.

Patterned or solid color shirts? Always solid first, patterned next.

Wide or slim ties? Slim. Though it generally depends on your lapel.

Favorite color of pants? Gray.

Lace up or loafer? Lace up all day.

Tie bars, worth it? Yes. They're only 15 bucks at Thetiebar.com.

Crazy patterned/colored socks... gimmick or here to stay?  I think the craziness will go down eventually, but it's just socks, not suits, so buy 'em while you can.

How do you layer if it's hot? Layer thin / breathable fabrics, and don't overdo it.

When is it douchey to wear a tie? When you wear one purely to outshine everyone else.

Most versatile color? Gray.

Least versatile color? Neon pink.

Best dressed celebrity? Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Should you own more brown or black dress shoes? Definitely brown.

Vans or Converse? Converse. Jack Purcells to be more specific.

Single or double monk shoes? I prefer double.

What fragrances do you own? YSL, Versace, Dior.

What's your favorite department store? Nordstrom for service, Barney's for selection.

Best place to buy really budget clothing? Uniqlo, Costco, and recently, JC Penney.

H&M or Forever 21? Neither.

There you go, my rapid fire for this week.  I want to elaborate on some of these points in more detail in future posts, so watch out for some of those.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think. Till next time fellas.