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

Filtering by Tag: theory

Wishlist December 2014

Mark Kwak

Every time the Holidays roll around, my wishlist starts to extend longer than Stretch Armstrong's limbs (oh boy, remember those toys?). Alongside cool gadgets, auto equipment, alcohol, and other goodies, clothing usually sits atop of the list. Today, I share with you some of my wishes for December.

Leather / wool rifle coat

I don't know what it is about wool coats with leather sleeves, but I've become a die hard fan. A bit on the trendy side, I know, but damn the combination looks good. I particularly like this Theory one above. It's expensive, but I saw it on sale at Macy's (yeah we have a legit Macy's that carries Theory) for almost half off, and was about a millimeter away from pulling the trigger.

New Balance high tops

Oh man, I am going to lobby hard to get these shoes under my Christmas tree this year. I've always been a fan of suede New Balances and these high tops are no exception, even though I think they're a JCrew collab exclusive. The color scheme, streamlined silhouette, and material all look wonderful to me. They even look comfy to boot!

Alden scotch grain bluchers

Whoo wee! What beauties. As many of you know, Alden is one of my favorite shoe brands in the world. One of the few remaining American shoemakers making quality product through the generations.

One thing you'll notice is that these are not made of your normal calfskin leather. After looking at some Thom Browne samples the other day, I realized I really like the use of scotch grain leather on shoes, and they add a bit of pop to what would normally be a very conservative shoe design. The Unionmade ones on the link above are sold out, but I think JCrew sells something similar here.

GQ x GAP leather backpack

It looks like GQ is partnering with GAP once again to deliver some really unique pieces, designed by some of the top designers, to the general public. The collection isn't set to be out until December 15th, but GQ offered a sneak peak into some of their favorite pieces. I really like this backpack by En Noir. I felt like there was a time when leather backpacks were a bit gaudy, but that time is no more. This slim, simple, elegant design just works, and I'll definitely take a look to verify quality when the collection comes out.

Anyhow, there's my December wishlist. Even though I'm trying not to buy any clothing, I will certainly be looking out for ways to get some of these things come January. Hoping that sales roll around by then! Stay warm out there, fellas.

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

A proper hoodie

Mark Kwak

hoodiegingham

Hoodie: Banana Republic (similar) | Shirt: Black Fleece | Tie: Theory

You may have noticed, but hoodies get a lot of flak in the menswear world these days. You'll often see warnings saying "Throw away that old hoodie and upgrade to a v neck sweater or cardigan," or  "You've graduated college, it's time to let that hoodie go."

In fact, that last quote is basically straight from a simpler woman post that I put up here several months ago, so I'll admit, I'm guilty of being a contributor.

Nevertheless, I do want to clarify one thing, and pronounce to the world that this doesn't mean that hoodies are bad and should never be worn. On the contrary, some of my favorite closet pieces are actually hoodies!

Just look at that woolen hoodie above (which I've awkwardly overdressed), it's oddly one of my most complimented pieces.  I kid you not, literally every time I've worn that sweater out, someone has either asked me where I got it, or complimented me on it. It's also incredibly comfortable, warm, and easy to wear. It's a beautiful sweater, and is a bit more "serious" or "classy" than your average gray Rocky Balboa hoodie.

hoodie1Oh yeeaah, awkward half face cutoff photo. 

The hoodies that I, as well as my other fellow menswear brethren, are warning you about are not these types of hoodies, but instead the oversized ones with logos and graphics plastered on the front. You know, the sports logo hoodie you got in college, or the heather gray one that looks like you're off to the gym for a sweat session?

So the next time you see you an attractive hoodie on the racks at your local mall, you don't need to dismiss it right away. Hoodies can look awesome, it's just a matter of finding the right one.

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.

What am I wearing 3.24.13

Mark Kwak

Haven't done a "what am I wearing" post in over a month, so I thought I'd snap some quick photos today in light of the beautiful weather. Today, I wore a fairly interesting sweater that I haven't worn in months. It's by Burberry, and I got it on clearance a while back. Back then, I thought since it was 100% cashmere, made by Burberry, an amazing color, and on massive sale, why not?

Turns out I couldn't get used to the weird neck shape, since it skirted the line awkwardly between V neck and shawl collar. Thus, the sweater ended up taking a back seat behind my normal shawl collar cardigans and V neck sweaters.

However, taking it out from the back of my closet, I realized it really didn't look that bad. In fact, the design was kind of refreshing, since it's not as cookie-cutter as my other knits. I paired the sweater with some dark tan chinos, a lightly patterned white shirt, and brown leather boots. Check it out:

burberry4It may be Spring now, but I'll continue to wear my boots through the summer. I don't care what others say.

burberry1I have a hard time finding decent fitting chinos. However, I recently discovered these Alpha Khakis by Dockers, and I have to say... I really like them.

burberry3The incongruent neck design has definitely grown on me.

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Sunglasses: Oliver Peoples | Shirt: Theory | Sweater: Burberry

Belt: Perry Ellis | Chinos: Dockers | Watch: Timex | Shoes: Allen Edmonds

I have to say, the feel of cashmere on the skin is pure pleasure. If you don't already have a 100% cashmere sweater, I would highly suggest getting one. Looks and feels like a million bucks.

Alright fellas. Till next time.

Signature style: the suit

Mark Kwak

Source: StyleBistro

Several weeks ago, 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. The first two posts in the series covered some very distinct looks. The first being the Thom Browne look, or as I coined it, American Schoolboy Prep, and the second being a more flamboyant one called Dandy Dapper.

Well today, I'm going to tone it way down, and introduce a style you're all probably familiar with. An outfit that will never get old, and will always remain acceptable: the formal suit.

We all probably know at least one individual who dons this signature style. The buddy who goes straight to his suit when an occasion isn't purely casual. Think Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother (yeah, yeah, I know he's just a character).

Here's my friend Joe in what I would consider one of the quintessential menswear looks of all time: the white shirt, brown shoes, plain navy suit look. Dashing, huh?

Joe9This outfit is simultaneously classic and modern. Classic in that the outfit combination has stood the test of time, modern in that the fit and finish belongs here in the now.

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Though navy suits work for both day and night, I think that they're most attractive when they're reflecting the moonlight.

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The details matter. Adding a pocket square and tie bar upgrades this already fantastic outfit substantially.

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It all boils down to fit. Some might argue that a slight tug on the middle button is a good thing, or a bad thing, but I personally like an ever so slight tug.

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Dark brown is my favorite color to complement a navy pant. Oh, by the way, don't skimp on footwear when you're in a suit.

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Make sure to add a classic leather strap watch to an outfit like this. I personally believe in a situation like this, it's as important as the suit itself.

 Suit: J.Crew | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Tie: Theory | Tie Bar: Thetiebar

Pocket Square: Joseph A Bank | Watch: Timex | Shoes: Allen Edmonds

I think there's nothing wrong with being the guy who suits up at any chance he gets. I mean, there's a clear reason for why the suit is in the highest echelon of menswear. It's a symbol of put-togetherness, of class, and of masculinity. It doesn't necessarily have to be part of your signature style, but I would always encourage people to take their suit for a spin every now and again. It feels good, and looks great.

As many have said before- take advantage of being a man. Wear a suit.

How to keep your collars from drooping

Mark Kwak

A couple months ago, my friend let me in on a little menswear secret of his. Well, for the greater good, I am going to let that secret out to the world. Sorry Christian. One of the few things that I hate about semi-spread or point collars is their eager propensity to lay down flat. With low to medium quality shirts, you can start seeing the transformation pretty quickly. When you first buy the shirts, the collars will stand upright, looking sharp and pointed; exactly how I prefer my collars. However, after a few wears and some time in the closet, you'll notice that the collars will start drooping, laying flat on your collar bones.

Well the good news is that you can now implement a small technique that can help your collars stay sharp and structured, just like when you bought them from the store.

The trick is this:  Close the top two buttons of your shirt before hanging them up in your closet. Simple right? Well sometimes the best solutions are pretty simple.

By closing the top two buttons of your dress shirt, you're basically preserving the original collar shape, and stopping gravity from pulling your collars downward. This way, the "default stance" of your shirt, while hung in your closet, will be that of a shirt whose collars are upright. I've illustrated the technique below.

So this is how I used to hang up my dress shirts: carelessly.

not buttoned shirt

And now, this is how I hang up my shirts, thanks to my friend's little secret.

buttoned shirt

I've been putting this little technique to use in my closet for the past couple months, and I feel like it's helping out substantially. No more droopy collars, no more desperate ironing. Now, I don't think this is a technique that will fully repair an already drooped collar, but it is effective in preserving your collars for much longer periods of time.

It's fairly easy to implement, and if anything, keeps your shirts from falling down from their hangers every now and again. Hope this helps you all as much as it has helped me, and oh yeah, Happy Friday.