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

Filtering by Tag: thetiebar

Accessories Part 1: Socks, Pocket Squares, Tie Bars

Mark Kwak

Today, I want to talk to you about my favorite types of socks, pocket squares, and tie bars, three accessories that I believe every man should have at least one of (definitely way more than one for socks). First let's start with socks. I don't intend to talk about plain black socks or athletic white socks because I want to showcase socks that can help step up your style game a notch. Though there's nothing wrong with white or black socks, there is certainly a loss of creativity with them.

Anyway, I've said it time and time again, but I'm a huge fan of bold colored socks. They can be solid in color, like below:

or they can be patterned. We're talking stripes, argyle, dots, etc.

The main thing is that you have to find socks that work well with the rest of the colors in your outfit. When I wear a blue shirt, I like to have my socks have a hint of blue in it somewhere. Or if my tie is red, I like my socks to have some red in it.

If you're really daring, and every other part of your outfit is impeccable, you can also just follow this rule:

Next, pocket squares. I think a pocket square is a wonderful accessory to help you bring out the most of your style knowledge. Pocket squares add a little pizzazz to boring or conservative outfits, and can make a plain navy or charcoal suit stand out in a sea of other navy or charcoal suits.

When it comes to picking out a pocket square, I must admit that it really depends on the situation. You want to coordinate your pocket square with the rest of your outfit, and make sure that it works seamlessly overall. Linen/cotton is a good fabric for more casual outings, while silk is good for formal situations.

I highly recommend getting at least a clean white pocket square first, as that will be your most used. It's classic, easy, and versatile.

After you've gotten that one, venture out into other patterns and colors. Blues, pinks, greys, and creams are good if you want to play it safe, while purples, greens, and reds work to help make a statement. Here's an example of a pocket square I like:

Lastly, tie bars (or tie clips). To be truthful, I don't necessarily think a tie bar is an accessory that you should have a ton of. I personally have two, but think that I might have one too many. Now, I've seen some really cool tie clips out there, and perhaps it's an accessory you can collect, but to me, the only tie clip you'll ever need is a simple plain silver 1 inch (or 1.5 inch) tie clip, kind of like what you see below.

So there you have it, my preferences for socks, pocket squares, and tie bars. Watch out for the next three accessories soon!

 

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.

Joe6

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

Joe2

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

Joe5

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.

Joe1

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.

Joe4

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.

Wish List #4

Mark Kwak

Christmas has come and gone, and massive end-of-the-season sales have begun. Time for another wish list from yours truly.

Saint James Meridien II shirt

Oddly, this shirt has been on my mind for the last three weeks. Really, it's nothing special since all it is, is basically a long sleeve striped T shirt (albeit a high quality one) with a slightly unique neck opening.  To add, I'm not a huge fan of horizontal lines on shirts since I'm a bit shorter, and such patterns don't do any favors for my stature. Still, this shirt keeps popping up in my head. I suppose it might be the shirt's history? Or incredible layering ability?

You can grab one from J.Crew or Unionmade (who is actually having a semi-annual sale right now).

Wolverine 1000 Mile boots

Why do I keep posting boots in my wish lists?

One boot that has particularly caught my attention is the 1000 mile boot by Wolverine. These bad boys are quite acclaimed in the menswear world, and for good reason. I had a chance to try them out recently, and not only do they look great, but you can immediately tell they're built like an ox. Proper Goodyear welting on a leather sole, high quality upper leather & stitching, made in the USA... what's not to like? Plus, I think they are incredibly versatile. They're equally appropriate on a mountain hike as they are at an office event.

I would go out and get them immediately, but I think I'm past my boot quota for 2012-2013. Oh, and if these boots are too expensive for you, I found a great deal on an amazing, less expensive alternative made by Chippewa. You can find them on Amazon for only $86 with coupon "workboot." Yea, seriously.

Drake's navy pin dot tie

I recently saw a Gitman Vintage navy shirt with a subtle pin dot pattern on it at a clothing boutique here in SF. I immediately wanted one in my closet, so I started searching the web to find one in my size. Unfortunately, I failed to find one at a decent price, but the shirt got me to thinking. Hey, wouldn't this pattern look great on a tie or pocket square?

Since having that thought, I've been looking all over the web for a decent tie and pocket square combo in the navy + pin dot pattern. Well it turns out that one of my favorite tie makers, Drake's of London, carries a nice one as shown above. They're also having an end of the year sale right now, so the prices are cut about 25%.

If the price is still too high for you, good news is that you can get both a tie and pocket square in this pattern at thetiebar for a lot cheaper than the Drake's tie above.

J.Crew denim shirt

Grant it, I don't think it needs to be specifically from J.Crew, but I've been looking for a nice dark indigo denim shirt for a while now. I think a denim shirt is a piece that can effortlessly dress a formal outfit down, and still look appropriate in most situations. Definitely a refreshing change from your normal white, blue, or pink dress shirt that you may wear on a daily basis.

The only reservation I have with getting a denim shirt is its versatility. I generally wear jeans everyday and the color of this shirt in particular would be too similar to the color of my jeans, making the outfit look less than ideal. Either way, I'm on the fence, but I must say... J.Crew makes this shirt look damn good.

--

So there you go, my January wish list. You know, sometimes I wonder if it ever ends...

Oh well, TIME TO SPEND MOAR MONEY!

Quick looks & pleasing everybody

Mark Kwak

I was tossing and turning in bed the other day, unable to fall sleep. In situations like this, most normal people would read a book, count sheep, or just idly lay in their beds till the inevitable sleep haze engulfed their conscience.

Well, I'm a bit weird, and probably not very normal. Thus, as a sleep remedy, I decided to go into my closet and start randomly taking pieces out, just to put them together in different combinations that I thought might work out. Also, I felt compelled to add ties to the mix as well.

It kind of worked, as I was so tired of putting on and taking off clothes that I eventually plopped on my bed and immediately fell asleep.

The outcome is below. And yes, I am actually wearing pants.

The hunter's look.

Jacket: Barbour | Vest: Barbour | Tie: Ovadia & Sons | Shirt: Brooks Brothers

The formal look.

Jacket: Black Fleece | Pocket Square: Nordstrom | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Tie Bar: Thetiebar | Tie: Theory

The ultra-hyperextended neck look.

Jacket: John Varvatos Collection | Shirt: Black Fleece | Tie: Drake's

The cold day layering look.

Coat: Hugo Boss | Knitwear: Banana Republic | Shirt: Black Fleece | Tie: Theory

The overcoat with suit look... or as I like to call it: blue steel look.

Coat: Banana Republic | Jacket: John Varvatos Collection | Shirt: Ben Sherman | Tie: Ben Sherman

The Looper-ish look.

Jacket: Theory | Shirt: Armani Collezioni | Tie: Thetiebar

The blue, blue, blue, and blue layer look.

Coat: Black Fleece | Jacket: Levi's | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Tie: Ovadia & Sons

My first thought was to put these photos on reddit, mainly because I was curious to see which outfits vibed well with the huge crowd over there, and which didn't. I put the album up on reddit in the morning, walked away from the computer for about an hour, and then revisited its status shortly afterward.

Apparently the album became quite popular in that hour, ultimately hitting the first spot on /r/malefashionadvice, receiving thousands of up-votes, and getting more comments than I could read.

Turns out that pretty much every single look was simultaneously criticized and praised, showing how incredibly different peoples' tastes are. Some people said my Barbour look was the best, while others thought it was the worst. Some argued that leather jackets should never go with ties, others said leather jackets looked best with ties. Let's just say there was a lot of noise, and it taught me a valuable lesson.

The lesson is that you aren't going to please everybody with your look, no matter how great it is. Sure there are rules that you should follow to look better overall (for example, getting things that are more fitted to your body), but even then, you just aren't going to win everyone's approval, as everyone's tastes are different.

I put together 7 very different outfits, and for each outfit I got hundreds of different reactions. At first, I took each comment constructively, learning from what people had to say. Later on though, all I ended up really caring about was my own opinion, especially after seeing how much contradiction there was about what people thought was right and what people thought was wrong.

I think the best thing is for you to feel confident in the clothes that you wear, and present your unique style to the world expecting nothing in return. Sure, positive reinforcement may help you feel better, but ultimately, I think the most attractive thing about someone's style is how they own their look. The swagger and confidence they have in wearing what they are wearing. The great thing is that no one can help you own your look, only you can.

Anyhow, sorry to go on a rant there, but I hope I was able to at least provide you with some ideas for outfits. Oh, and just kidding about the pants comment I made above. Commando all the way.

Insta-recap

Mark Kwak

I'll be the first to admit, I'm a bit of a newb when it comes to social networking. However, I will say, getting familiar with Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. for the first time, has brought a new element of interest to my life. Particularly Instagram, because it allows me to share some photos that I normally would keep to myself. In case you don't use Instagram, here's some recent pics of mine. I promise they'll get better with time. d1d5217c1d9b11e280ba22000a9f1893_7

This is me getting excited about finally owning a pair of suede New Balances.

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A little collar fun- add some spice to your life.

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Ovadia & Sons tie that I'm a fan of.

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Showcasing my love for tartan, and Barbour.

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My thought on what a proper casual pocket square should look like.

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Early Christmas.

Also, would love to get feedback on what types of pictures people would want to see. I'm all ears.