Can’t Buy Class, But You Can Wear It.

PatternedBowTies_1

Bow ties are an interesting piece of menswear. There aren’t many other items with such a large gap of social impressions on people who wear a bow tie. It is still the most formal article of clothing, oft denoting high society. While Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill & James Bond are all famous bow tiers, it is also notable that society also believes that bow ties are for nerds.

Whether one wishes to look like a clown, a college professor or classical musician, the bow tie only means one thing today for certain, which was best stated by Warren St John of The New York Times:  “The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie… But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.” Today bow ties are designated to the renegades among us. Rogue Sophistication.

I would dare say the percentage of men who can tie a bow tie is below 5% of the american population. Even when a boy or man goes to prom or gets married, most rental bow ties are pre-tied faux-ties. Also, in menswear today the rule is a necktie is as formal as a bow tie. So just the fact that you show up in public with a tied bow on your neck shows your skill and sophistication is above many others’, even though a true gentleman would never say that out loud.

If you are feeling defiant (and any true Portlander should) then I suggest getting a bow tie, but realize you will be the center of attention and maybe even the but of a few jokes, but laugh along and know you can’t buy class, but you are wearing it. Wear to a bar, a party or dinner date no matter the dress code. This is MoFo P-Town boys, get your rebel on.

How to buy it:

I recommend to get started you should go to a store like Nordstrom Rack instead of going full price designer, they are only $15-20 there and have a good selection. I shouldn’t have to say “never get a faux-tie(pre-tied)” but I did just to make sure you don’t, that is a cop-out and the exact opposite of why one would wear a bow tie. You should get a smaller size, else risk looking clownish, but do make sure it fits your body size and type. Speaking of clownish: don’t get a neon, multicolored, glow-in-the-dark tie either; the fact of wearing a bow tie is the statement, not the bow tie itself, get it? Get a simple classy tie, less than 3 colors and simple design. I also recommend a reversible one, as it is two patterns in one tie. After you get deeper into it, you can go wild.

How to tie it:

HowToTieBowtie_VersionA

 

Haha, just kidding. Get your bow tie then YouTube it: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/04/12/how-to-tie-a-bow-tie-video/ This was my favorite of the videos I watched. Good luck, you will need it. It is like riding a bike so it should only be a one-time investment of your time.

How to wear it:

Obviously you have to wear it with a collared shirt, but you cannot wear it with just a collared shirt as it makes your shirt look completely bare, and nature abhors a vacuum. Minimally you will have to add suspenders. Preferably worn with a cardigan. Maximally with a blazer or suit. The best part about the bow tie is after 10pm (or your 4th drink, whichever comes first) you can undo your tie and top button to rock the Life of the Party look. See below:

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Can A Man Be Overdressed?

A man has to make sure he looks good in every social situation he throws or attends. While a man may always try to look good, there is one factor that will trounce him every single time. This is the fact of being underdressed. Nothing takes the wind out of one’s sails faster than being the only person wearing jeans at a gathering. Sneakers at a wedding. Your designer tee is a sad tee among collars. I’m sure everyone has been through it. In my tweens I was emotionally scarred by wearing nylon pants to a wedding because I didn’t have slacks. The feeling of everyone staring, judging & causing you to want to hide as you have convinced yourself you are a vacuum of negative attention. Being underdressed has definite negative effects. I vowed then to never be underdressed again.

All men know how dumb it feels to be underdressed, but lets look at the opposite end of the spectrum: Can a man be overdressed?

Oscar Wilde said: “You can never be overdressed or overeducated”

Clothier Levenson Rodriguez said: “There’s no such thing as being overdressed… it just so happened that everyone around me is underdressed.”

I fully agree with the above quotes. I would like to assure you that there is no such thing as being overdressed. The biggest problem, in my opinion, with men not dressing fancy is that they don’t know how to. I recommend you find out if you don’t already know. Society has become very underdressed overall from people rebelling against the uptight norm starting in the 70’s and coming up to present time, but now it has almost done a complete reversion. Society is too casual and lazy, so today, to rebel, one has to dress nicely to disagree with the can’t-do attitude that has especially set in since the recession, unless of course, one prefers to look like a street kid, drug addict or welfare case.

If you are overdressed you get complimented. If you are underdressed you get shunned. One thing dressing nicely communicates is that you know what you are doing and are confident, you don’t even have to act confident. The opposite shows you don’t know what you are doing.

Now some will say you can’t wear a tuxedo to a rock concert. I would respond by telling you to please use judgement and common sense in life with every rule you come across. But I would also argue that if you wore combat boots and skull cufflinks with the tuxedo to said concert, you would be the best dressed there and to some degree appropriately dressed too.

 

By dressing up in situations where you don’t have to, you create the allure of mystery. You will make others will feel underdressed, hopefully causing them to step up their game. They will wonder where you came from before you are presently. They will wonder where you are going after you leave where you are now. This is literally how you dress to impress. If underdressing is how you become the negative center of attention, then overdressing is how you become the positive center of attention.

Wear a tie to a bar, slacks to your friend’s birthday party, a bow-tie bowling. Try overdressing to see what happens, I promise you will like the results. Just make sure you have good responses ready for inquisitive minds.

BCS

Pants for Muscular Men (Pants 101 amended)

In relation to my last post I had a friend text me: “…try having fashion applicable to men that have actual muscle mass. Skinny cut pants aren’t possible for real men [whose] thighs are twice as big as their calf”

For starters, I would argue that a real man is not measured in muscles, just as I would argue that a real man is not measured by his penis size or bank account. I would personally measure a man by his decency, support & honesty to others, along with an ability to keep a cool head in any situation and never lose his temper. I may be old-fashioned in this regard. But in the quest to prove oneself as a real man, in my opinion, the constant dedication, discipline & persistence on the given course to get jacked is as close of an indicator of a real man as one can get. Along with one’s zealousness for protein shakes and abhorrence for empty calories in the pursuit of getting shredded, one must know how to wear the right clothes to show off what you got.

One thing is for sure thogh, my friend was right. It is hard for a muscular man to dress properly with a narrow waist & strong thighs. The solution for this is to find a pair of pants in the Relaxed category that fit well in the thigh and on the gluts first, despite the oversized waist and baggy shins. For Jeans you will want them tight on the thigh as they will stretch, and Khakis/Slacks with more of an exact fit. Now, you have to make custom form-fitting pants, so take them to a tailor to get the waist properly fitted along with the legs tapered from the thigh down to the ankle. With Khakis/Slacks you want a Small or No Break on the length because any extra fabric at the bottom makes this body size look more short than muscular. For Jeans you can have them a little longer on the break if you want to roll them up, but I would still just recommend a small break still and a half-inch turn when you want to roll them up.

The idea from my last post stands true, jocks just have to customize their pants to get the waist and taper correct. This can be inexpensive if you get cheaper pants, but you might want to spurge on the tailor & find one who is recommended by other muscular men. My favorite tailor in Pdx is Mike, The Tailor, he works in the back of Collier (615 SW Broadway ave. Suite 103) & even though I don’t know his experience in this area, he can probably take care of you.

For your first couple of trips to the tailor I would recommend getting fully refundable pants or cheap thrift shop pants to make sure the tailor can do the alterations you want for the price you want to pay.

I hope this helps.

For future reference to anyone who has questions/comments/concerns/complaints you can post it here on my blog under the comments section, email me, Tweet or FB me. Others may have the same questions or may have good advice for you too.

BCS

Be a Rain-Ready Pdxer (And Look Good Doing It)

In Portland, we are known for the hood. Not necessarily Mt. Hood. And not the projects neither(RIP Pimp C). I’m talking about the hood that goes on your head. A smart pdxer always has his hood safely reclined on his shoulders like the top down on a rental from September through June. As soon as the first drip drops, he pops the top up before he decides to sally forth from awning to awning, puddle skipping through the city.

I swear the rain will come back. Global warming has been good to the Pacific NW, but once it stops holding the fall hostage we will remember what it is to be true pdxers. Rain haters will move back to their hometowns & part-time street kids move back into their parent’s house when the overcast and constant drizzle return. The rain keeps the city clean and only in the rainy months does Portland truly shine.

There is a saying I’ve always loved: “Don’t like the weather in Portland? Wait 10 minutes.” While one must be covered to stay dry in the rain, one must also not be drenched in sweat when the sun comes out 10 minutes later. So how do we handle this predicament? The answer is layers. There is also a question in style which is “How do we make this person look the best possible?” The answer to this question is also layers! This is actually a style aficionado’s best case scenario. One must become an expert layerer out of necessity for the Portland weather and out of the necessity to look great. Get your cardigans and sweaters ready because I’m going to help you figure out what to put over them as your top layer.

What not to do –

Don’t go and buy a $4-500.00 Columbia Sportswear or North Face winter coat with fleece removable liner that is rain, ice, sleet, snow proof. First off, fleece is WAY out of style for men, especially in Portland because, for no known reason to man or god, they can’t put a bird hood on it. Also, this is overkill for the city. If you go skiing or snowboarding, get a jacket specific to that. If you get one of these overkill jackets & all you can comfortably wear underneath is a tee-shirt, then you just shot yourself in the foot style-wise. Also, your fashion sense in other people’s eyes is now one winter coat for 7 months out of the year. You just shot yourself in your other foot. How does it feel to cripple yourself?

What you need – 

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1. The first thing you need is a rain shell. This is literally a thin waterproof shell that will keep your top half 100% dry for days of harder rain. These are genius for layering. Since it is just a shell, you can wear whatever you want underneath and just put this on last and you are weather-ready. It is not warm but is wind-resistant, so make sure you layer enough if it is cold outside. I recommend going to the US Outdoor Store downtown on Broadway as they have lots of brands and everyone I’ve dealt with there has been awesome & very helpful. Not one ounce of Portland Hipster (“I’m too good to serve you”) Industry of Service & Tactlessness in the joint. Don’t get PHISTed (pronounced FIST’ed). Color-wise, go for gray, that way you can wear brown shoes as well as black & match almost anything to it. Even though it is a shell, get it as small as it can fit your body so you don’t look fat.

hoodie & blazer

2. ‘The Portland Mainstay’ is my nickname for the blazer plus hoodie. It’s classy meets inner city hustle. I remember watching the first season of Portlandia on my couch at home & Fred Armisen comes on-screen wearing the exact same thing as me, I didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or proud. The reason it is popular is because it works so well. It is the epitome of fashion and function. This is the right coverage for overcast days with drizzle off & on. On horrible days you can even put your shell from #1 over this. You have 6-8 pockets between the two articles & you don’t even need pants, for pockets at least. Also, as soon as you are in an office or friends house, you take both off & put the blazer back on & are totally comfortable for any indoor activity. Blazers at H&M are only $50-80.00 and fit well and look classy. Get the tightest fit even though you have to fit a hoodie on underneath, this isn’t time to forget fit. For the hoodie, you don’t want the super thick material. You want a nice small, slim, blank hoodie. No big baggy skate/snowboarder hoodies. All the color combinations are endless. I would try American Apparel for the blank hoodies, but they can be hard to find. Post any hints you may have on blank hoodies. I’ve found with a quick google search there are blazers with ‘built-in’ hoodies in them, this utterly violates this completely versitile, mix-&-match style statement.

trench

3. The third must have is the trench. This is a very stylish jacket. This is a usually sophisticated jacket and in the right material will be rain proof. They usually come without hoods, but if the weather is bad you can always throw your hoodie on underneath like in #2 above. There are many styles & makes of trenches, you just have to find one you like that fits well & is worth the cost. It sounds so easy, but it’s not. Make sure you watch the width of the chest and waist when you try it on to ensure it fits. Check Banana Republic, Macy’s or the Rack for trenches.

Honorable Mention: the P-Coat. I love the P-Coat, but I don’t know where people get them. I have never found one worth buying. So if you know something I don’t please comment below.