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

Filtering by Tag: uniqlo

Buffalo Plaid

Mark Kwak

Source: JCrew Ah buffalo plaid. A staple in almost every fall/winter catalog I come across.

Truth is, it took me a while to really embrace this pattern, mainly because I was brainwashed to hate the color red (go UCLA). That being said, the more I saw it on magazines, store windows, and print ads around town, the more I began to fall in love with the aesthetic. As a result, I now have a couple buffalo plaid pieces in my closet that have achieved the status of "go-to" within my wardrobe.

So exactly where did this ubiquitous red and black pattern originate from? Perhaps Paul Bunyan? Some hipster in the Mission District of SF? Nope. Buffalo plaid comes from the genius minds at Woolrich, a company that began producing shirts with this pattern around 1850. That's right, over 150 years ago! Talk about withstanding the ups and downs of fashion, huh?

Here are some of my favorite ways to outfit buffalo plaid.

1. Scarf to add some pop to an otherwise very conservative outfit. (See above)

2. Collared shirt underneath a solid blazer or suit. Adds a ton of complexity to a formal outfit, Timothy Olyphant representing below:

3. A classic buffalo check wool shirt from the OGs who created it. Definitely a more rugged look that can be used on the streets as easily as it can be out in the woods.

All in all, buffalo plaid is versatile, able to be worn as a subtle accent piece or stand out as the main attraction. I suggest looking around to find a piece that works for you. If folks are still wearing this stuff 150 years after it was originally made, it's probably safe to assume you'll be in style for however long you choose to wear it.

PS: To add to that Timothy Olyphant picture above, he had a full shoot with just buffalo plaid in this GQ article. Worth looking at.

Uniqlo +J is back

Mark Kwak

I think it was 2010 when I walked into a Uniqlo store for the first time. Back then, the only city with a physical Uniqlo store outside of Japan was New York City.

Having made the trek all the way out there from San Francisco, I had pretty high expectations, especially since I had heard so much about Uniqlo from friends who had visited that were re-buying their entire wardrobes from the store.  The good news was that the store didn't disappoint. Even today, I still think of Uniqlo as one of the best companies out there providing stylish clothing at an affordable price.

Admittedly, at the time, I didn't know nearly as much about menswear as I do today. Nonetheless, I remember seeing a really nice line of menswear pieces out in the back of the store marked with a +J logo on the tags. I didn't really know what that meant, but I distinctly remember being impressed with the collection, both in quality and style. I literally ran to a salesman to find out if any of the pieces were in my size (by then the stock was mostly oversized), but it was all to no avail.

Well, it seems as though good things come to those who wait. Uniqlo just recently announced that they will be bringing back their +J line this month.

Now, since I know vastly more about menswear today than I did back then, here's some context for you. The Uniqlo +J line was one of the first collaboration efforts Uniqlo had ever done with an outside fashion designer. This one was with the legendary Jil Sander.

For those of you who don't know, Jil Sander is a very respectable player in the high fashion game, both for men and women. Her stuff is often eclectic, dare I say weird, but you all know how the high fashion game works. Anyhow, one thing that you can be sure of when buying Jil Sander is that most pieces are ludicrously priced. I mean we're talking $700 for a pair of cotton pants.

The good news is that Uniqlo's +J collection won't be anywhere close to that price tag. They're saying pieces will range from $39.90 to $229.90. The official launch will be October 3rd @ their new Philly store, but the rest of us will have to wait till October 10th when it comes out to all the other stores and online. 

Here is the link to check the collection out.

Just in case you're curious, here are some of my favorites from the collection:

Slim Denim Shirt 

Uniqlo J Denim Shirt

Slim White Shirt

Uniqlo J Slim Shirt

Cashmere Sweater

Uniqlo J Cashmere

Cardigan

Uniqlo J Cardigan Puffer Coat

Uniqlo J Down Parka Chesterfield Coat

Uniqlo J Chesterfield

Flannel Jacket

Uniqlo J Jacket

Tapered Flannel Pants

Uniqlo J Flannel Pants So go wild fellas. Yes these pieces are rather basic, but they look great and won't let you down if they fit correctly. It's all about keeping it simple right? Cheerio, happy hump day.

My question to you: Puffer vests

Mark Kwak

I've been meaning to talk about this subject for quite some time. Puffer vests.

Some part of me really likes them, and finds the look quite appealing. The other part of me wonders why they're so popular when they're functionally kind of awkward. If it's cold enough to be wearing a puffer anything, I would imagine that it's best to put on a puffer coat/jacket that covers the sleeves. If it's not cold enough to be wearing a puffer anything, then wouldn't it make sense to just wear a lighter jacket?

Again, I'm a fan of the look, but this thought makes me hesitate on getting one for myself. And I'm also not talking about those thinner quilted vests, but rather the type of vest that makes you look like Marty McFly or the Michelin Man.

Maybe it's for the layering aspect, where you can layer a vest underneath another jacket or coat, but not deal with the sleeve bulk? Or perhaps it's just an easier piece to put on above your sweater? Whatever the case, would love to hear from you guys why you would or would not wear a puffer vest. Lay 'em on me!

In the case that you are pro puffer vest though, here are a couple that I'm a fan of:

$50-100 : Uniqlo Ultra Light Down , Banana Republic Grey Flannel Vest , Kane & Unke Colorblock Vest

$100-200 : North Face Lindero , Ralph Lauren Elmwood

$200-500 : Canada Goose Lodgewood , Gant Rugger Down Vest

$500 + : Moncler Hooded Vest , Burberry Crosby

Light blue OCBD

Mark Kwak

I personally think that the light blue oxford cloth button down (OCBD) shirt is one of the most versatile pieces you can own. Just to demonstrate, I've outfitted my personal Brooks Brothers OCDB in two ways. One being more formal, the other being more casual. Check it out. First, a casual OCBD look. I paired my shirt with a pair of shorts and sneakers to keep cool during the summer months.

cas2

Remember that you don't want your shorts to be any longer than seen above. Keeping it right at/above the knee is a great length in my opinion.

cas3

I love a classic white sneaker. So easy to wear.

cas4

Roll the sleeves up and wear the shirt like a short sleeved dress shirt.

cas5

Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Shorts: Uniqlo | Shoes: Converse

Watch: Timex | Belt: Uniqlo

 ---

And now for the more formal look. I wore this outfit to a client dinner the other day actually. Personally thought it worked quite well.

form2

The grey trousers / navy jacket look is actually one of my favorites.

form3

Colorful socks per usual.

form4

Can't forget your accessories (belt/watch).

form5

Jacket: Black Fleece | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Belt: J.Crew

Pants: Uniqlo | Watch: Timex | Shoes: Peal & Co | Socks: Paul Smith (similar)

I encourage you all to get yourself an oxford cloth button down shirt, especially in the color light blue. Dress it up, dress it down, dress it all around.  It'll work with more combinations of outfits than you can possibly imagine.

 

Naval stripe undershirt

Mark Kwak

naval stripe 2Source: Black Fleece

Sometimes, it's good to wear an undershirt beneath your collared button down. I don't always recommend it, but when you're in the dead heat of summer, it's good to have your perspiration stopped by a layer of cotton instead of soaking through your expensive oxford shirt.

Generally, the usual suspects for summer undershirts are solid-colored white or gray v necks. Classic, abundant, and simple, who can argue?

Well today, for the heck of it, I will. A new trend is on the rise (I think?), and surprisingly, I'm 100% on board this time. It's none other than the naval stripe undershirt.

naval stripeSource: Iseastripes

I believe naval striped crew neck T-shirts, peeking out underneath a collared shirt or jacket, can add some spice and unexpected flare to your outfit. When in neutral colors, like white/blue or blue/gray, naval striped shirts can be quite versatile, and work with tons of different colors and patterns.

Instead of opting for a V-neck like I usually do, I think crew necks work best here, as they will purposely be visible when wearing button ups with the first or second button unbuttoned. Also, they should be lightweight and comfortable, generally 100% cotton. Though quality is always important, let's be real; at the end of the day, these are just T-shirts, and you shouldn't break the bank just to get some.

I'm planning on getting a couple naval stripe shirts myself, and encourage you to get on board too, especially if you're interested in adding some subtle variation to your outfit.

Here are a couple at different price points for you to check out:

~$10: Uniqlo, Club Room

~$20: River Island, Asos

~$40: American Apparel, Wolsey, Ralph Lauren

~$60+ : Black Fleece, Sunspel, St. James

Signature Style: American Schoolboy Prep (the Thom Browne look)

Mark Kwak

Source: Camodiaries

I've mentioned this before, but I think everybody has their own signature style. You can probably picture several of your friends right now, wearing what you would consider their signature pieces. The buddy who can't be seen without his blue baseball cap and Ralph Lauren polo. Or your coworker that wears such rugged boots and jackets that it looks like he's ready to go on a hunt at any point in time.

But what about you? Can you identify your own signature style? Is it something you stand by? Personally, I think it's important that we all discover the look we're most comfortable and confident in, and move in the direction of making our signature style embody that look.

To help in this endeavor, I've decided to launch a small series called Signature Style, where I showcase outfits that I believe represent certain signature styles we may encounter on the streets. Hopefully these styles will give you some ideas or inspiration for developing your own signature look.

To accomplish this task, I enlisted the help of some of my buddies, who agreed to model and demonstrate several looks that I have been wanting to put together for quite some time.

To make it clear, these are very particular styles that aren't necessarily what I deem classic or simple. However, I think that the slightly exaggerated nature of these getups can help you identify what works for you and what doesn't. Taking ideas here and there, and then ultimately putting together your own unique look is what really matters to me.

---

The first signature style I put together is that of one of my favorite designers, Thom Browne. His style is one I personally like to call:  American Schoolboy Prep.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Thom Browne, he is a very fashion-forward designer from New York, who sort of revolutionized modern menswear tailoring. Have you noticed trousers are getting shorter and shorter these days? Well, in many ways, we have Thom Browne to thank for that. Have you noticed folks wearing dress shoes without any socks? Again, Thom Browne. Red, white, and blue grosgrain trimming? Thom Browne.

Truth is, his look is not one for the insecure or conservative. He starts with seemingly classic American outfits (like a flannel grey suit), but then cuts them in ways that make you wonder if the man wearing them is wearing his son's clothing. Trousers are cut too short, sport coats end closer to the hip rather than the thigh, and knitwear is skin tight. To illustrate, I've put together this look for my buddy Grant:

Grant1

As you can see, this outfit is very similar to Thom Browne's one at the top of this post. White oxford button down, gray sport coat and trousers, gray tie, brown bluchers, and a white pocket square.

Grant2

I wanted to make sure this outfit was monochromatic, with gray acting as king.

Grant3

I also wanted to work with various wool textures and patterns. Got some herringbone and specked designs, all over cashmere and flannel fabric.

Grant4

Chunky brown wingtips, no socks, and trousers cut 2 inches too short. Pure Thom Browne.

Grant8

Also, I believe using thick, plastic rimmed glasses really finishes off the American schoolboy look.

Grant5

Though this look is trendy and on the up-rise, I honestly wouldn't advise going into the office this way.

Grant6

Glasses: Warby Parker | Shirt: Jack Spade (in blue) | Jacket: Black Fleece | Tie: Bloomingdales

Pocket Square: Jos A Bank | Cardigan: Gap | Pants: Uniqlo | Shoes: Alden

There you go, the American schoolboy prep look... a look that I'm quite intrigued by these days.

If you live in New York City, you'll probably see these types of outfits donned by avant-garde fashionistas from time to time. It's blowing up in the fashion world, and for good reason.  I think it brings something new to the table, combining a very particular form of modern tailoring with what we've always considered traditional American style.

Anyhow, hope you can take something away from this outfit, whether positive or negative. Oh, and look out for the next part in this series where I go over dandyism.

Trends of 2012

Mark Kwak

Happy New Year, my stylish friends! I hope 2012 was an excellent year for you, and that you look forward to an even better 2013. Just to reminisce on the year that passed, here are some fashion trends I saw really surge up in 2012.

Knit Ties: Knit ties might have come back before 2012, but 2012 was certainly the year they started to show up everywhere. Love 'em myself, and wish I had more occasions to wear them.

Double Monk Strap Shoes: This is also a trend that came back a couple years ago, but it remained strong in 2012. As you guys know, I like to spend a bit more on shoes than any other pieces of clothing, so I probably won't be investing in a pair of double monks, since I find them a bit trendy. It's probably in the best interest of my wallet.

Bright Colored Chinos: Didn't succumb to a pair of colored chinos, as I feel the trend will disappear soon. I'll leave the colored pants to my female counterparts.

White Pants: Not much a fan of this trend. Don't get me wrong, I think white pants can look good when they are the right fit, and on the right people. However, maintenance must be a pain, and they are also incredibly flashy. Again, I'll leave these to my female counterparts.

Double Breasted Suits: The double breasted suit keeps going away and coming back, from what I've seen. 2012 marked a year that the double breasted suit came back, but with an investment piece like a suit, I'd rather stick with the classic single breasted, two button getup.

Cargo Pants: Got myself a pair of cargo pants from both Gant by Michael Bastian and Uniqlo this year. I've always loved the utilitarian aspect of cargo pants, and I think the fashion world got the fit right this time.

Fair Isle Sweaters: Fair Isle sweaters made a comeback this winter and I admit, I wasn't sold at first. However, the more I saw of them, the more I felt like I needed one. There's something very old school about fair isle sweaters, and I think it's that particular characteristic that makes them desirable to me.

There you go! Some fashion trends I saw in 2012. Pick and choose carefully, as most of these will likely go out of the style in the next few years. Again, happy new year folks!