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

Filtering by Tag: topman

Peacoats, and Bond... James Bond.

Mark Kwak

The cool breeze of winter is approaching. You're trying to stay warm, but it seems like your trusty old jacket just isn't doing it for you. Guess what? It's time to bust out the classic winter piece... the peacoat.

Many of you probably own a peacoat or have owned one at some point in your life. If you don't or haven't, I would highly recommend going out and getting one before the start of the winter. It's an incredibly functional and timeless piece of clothing that I think every man should own, regardless of age, stature, occupation, etc.

In case you don't actually know what a peacoat is, let me help educate you. A peacoat is a wool (or wool blend) outer coat that was originally worn by sailors in the Navy (but obviously worn by just about anyone now). Peacoats generally have broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, metal, leather, or horn buttons, and go down in length to your upper thigh. They are also most widely available in their original color, navy, but can also come in black, charcoal, mid-grey, tan, etc.

So now that you know what a peacoat is, let me tell you why I think they're awesome. First off, peacoats keep you warm. Real warm. Generally made out of a thick wool or wool blend, peacoats are meant to help you get through the hard winter times. I mean if they worked for naval officers out on the arctic sea, why can't they work for you?

Second, peacoats are extremely classy, and can help elevate your look to the next level. Whether you're wearing a T-shirt or full-blown tuxedo, the moment you put on that peacoat, you'll look more sophisticated and classy than you did before. I know, I know... it's a more casual coat, but as long as the body of the coat is longer than your jacket, I still think it can work well with formal wear.

This brings up my third point. Peacoats are versatile. They can work on top of virtually any outfit, as they can be worn both casually and formally. Layer it on top of your henley, or use it as outerwear for your suit! A peacoat will do just fine in both situations.

Now, just because peacoats are awesome doesn't mean that any peacoat will do. I highly recommend putting a little bit of money behind one of these to ensure quality, as almost all designers will make a peacoat, and some will be of terrible quality. Personally, I think $200-$300 is a sweet spot for a solid peacoat, and I swear it'll be worth it. The Schotts ones below will probably give you the best bang for your buck, quality-wise. Also, I would stick with navy or charcoal grey in terms of color. Lastly, make sure the coat fits nice and slim on you. You want the coat to still flatter your body and fit immaculately. Keep it relatively snug, but also make sure that you can fit a sweater or jacket underneath.

Here are some peacoats that I would recommend at different price points:

~$50-$100: Uniqlo Peacoat , Topman Peacoat

~$100-$200: J. Crew Bayswater Peacoat , Banana Republic Peacoat

~$200-$400: Schotts Peacoat , Diesel Wittory Peacoat

~$400-above: Maison Martin Margiela Peacoat , Burberry London Peacoat

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So you're probably wondering why the title of this post mentions James Bond. Well first off, I think James Bond is an amazing fashion icon, especially with Daniel Craig running the show. If you need some fashion inspiration, just watch a Bond movie and you should be set for a while; I know I always am. Second, the peacoat that I'm wearing in the pictures above is actually the same peacoat Bond wears in his latest movie Skyfall. The makers of the coat, Billy Reid, released a limited supply of them to the public right when the movie was released, and I was lucky enough to get in the first batch. Check out some of the details on this thing:

Just a couple thoughts on this peacoat. First, I do think the quality is great. It's a pretty expensive coat ($695 MSRP) so I fully expect it to be, and thankfully Billy Reid didn't disappoint. The wool is nice and warm, the cut is slim and fashionable, and the leather trimming is beautifully done.

With that being said, I may not end up keeping the coat for a couple reasons. First, I'm not much a fan of the lapels. I think they can look great on a lot of people, but to me they jut out a bit too much. Let's just say that when the collar is popped, my side profile is less than flattering. Second, the coat is a tad big on me. The sleeves are way too long, and instead of ending at my upper thigh, the body of this peacoat goes down to my mid thigh, and I think that might be longer than what I would consider ideal. A slightly taller man would probably love it though. Lastly, the peacoat is unlined. Nothing wrong with unlined coats, but I prefer a layer of thinsulate so that my arms don't itch from the wool.

Anyhow, the next shipment of these babies starts in January so keep a look out in case you're interested. It's an excellent coat and I would highly recommend it if you like the look.

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.