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:

SAMWEBBMARCUSOHLSSONNKCAMPAIGNSAMWEBBMARCUSOHLSSONNKCAMPAIGNSWEDISHDEPARTMENTSTOREMENSSTYLEBLOGUNDONEWEDDINGFORMALLOOKBOWTIESANDALS3

 

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

A Guide to Stop Wearing Stupid Tees

Tee shirts are played out. There was a time when you had to look a certain way to fit into a certain group. That was middle & high school. Remember? You had to wear Polo & Tommy Hilfiger to fit in with the preps, DC to fit in with the skate/snowboarders, etc. Then you graduated high school & realized that people don’t always fit into the confines of their clothes. Back then tees had a very important role. You needed them to show others where you fit in. They were a quick orientation to who you were, so your classmates could know whether to avoid you or not.

As a grown man though they are not that useful. Let me tell you why:

chubby shirt

1. First off they are one of the most unflattering articles of clothing a man can wear. They hide nothing at the right size, notice above, this average guy shows a gut with a properly fitting tee. The other problem is that if you get a size up, they add much more mass, and look boxy. You basically have to be in great shape to look good in a tee.

stupid shirt

2. They can be stupid. My theory is to not wear any tee with words on it. As soon as I see a guy with a “funny” shirt on, I know he is a douche. I think with style people don’t get that you want people to be impressed by the way you dress. If your sense of humor is ‘shock value’ then say something shocking, don’t wear a stupid shirt to try to show what you find funny. If you want to be a nerd, wear nerdy glasses and nice clothes, don’t wear a shirt with a nerd joke on it.  If you rock baggy cargo sorts and a tee like the one above, everyone who sees you will know you are stuck in your frat-boy/womanizing party days and may be fun to have a couple of drinks with, & while girls with daddy-issues may appreciate their attention, once the sack-taps start you can count your friends minus this bro. When I see writing on a shirt, I only try to read it to find out how much of a tool the dude wearing it is.

cartoon

3. Cartoon shirts. Don’t do it. Everyone likes cartoons. Everyone likes superheros. Wow, you like Batman? Let me guess, you liked the most recent trilogy best? Point made. Just don’t wear screen-printed tees, words or cartoons or pictures.

Kids_Dark_Grey_Marl_US_Tour_76_Rolling_Stones_T_Shirt_from_Amplified_Kids_hi_res

4. Band tees. Okay, please, don’t buy band shirts for tours you haven’t been to. It’s pretty obvious wearing a shirt like the above when you were born in the 80’s. Since the internet has ruined the music industry clothes no longer define what music people listen to (sorry 90’s). Since you had soccer mom’s singing along to “Go Shawty! It’s yo’ birfday!”, sagging your pants has never quite been the same (thanks Fiddy). With all the genre bending in music today, to try yo stay confined to one style is pretty close minded. The only band shirts you can get away with are obscure groups you have seen live, even then, these are only useful to lounge around and go grocery shopping with, not a staple in your wardrobe please.

Nike-Head-T-Shirtnike shirt

5. Sports/athletic shirts. There is nothing a shirt like the above can tell me about a person I can’t already deduce. If you wear it and are overweight, I know you like to watch sports and hate to play them. If you are in good shape & wear it, I know you like to be in good shape and workout. I could have come to those conclusions with a plain white tee. Keep it to actual sports games (live or home, not at the bar) and playing sports/being active/working out. When wearing them, choose something simple, like the pic on the right, not the left.

Here’s the thing: People are complex. If you dress yourself in a tee that puts you in a stereotype, you are only doing yourself a disservice. You don’t want to be fully stereotyped on sight by everyone you see. You want some mystery(think James Bond, Bruce Wayne), it attracts people to you & your personality. You don’t want people assuming who you are at first sight, that is a fashion fail.

What to do:

ryan-gosling-henley-t-shirt

Take a hint from Ryan Gosling. He is wearing what is called a Henley. This has buttons on the neck of the shirt and is way classier than a tee. It also is better at hiding a little bit of belly chub.

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - August 9, 200742166c1605d4002c_joseph-gordon-levitt-05

Also, take a hint from JGL. Stripes & V-necks are great for tees, not screen-printed images that make it look like you are still in high school. If you were smart enough to graduate, you should know your style should’ve graduated too.

Henley, V-necks & stripes are the way to go casual.

BCS

Shop, don’t ship.

Okay, shopping ProTip: Don’t order clothes or shoes online. Remember, with clothes, fit is the most important factor & you MUST try everything on before buying it. Each company & each line of clothes in that company are going to have different cuts. If you think the waist size on your pants reflects actual inches, I will direct your attention to the chart below from The Style Blog:

waistline-measurement-chart-for-men-090710-xlg

Retail companies make sizes bigger to boost the self-esteem of the people buying it. Women have this worse than men, but it still exists for us. Why be ‘fat’ at H&M, when you could be ‘normal’ at Old Navy? But you’re still the same weight. Women, why buy a size 8, when you are a 4 at Banana Republic? It’s all in your head & that’s what marketing is and does.

So how do you know what size to get? Also in photo shoots & on mannequins, you see clothes you love & the fit seems great, but they are pinned in the back to make them look good. Investigate the mannequins at your favorite stores & you may be surprised at what you find.

pinning

Also, with just pictures, you can’t always tell the exact color or tint based on the lighting of the picture.

So don’t pay your hard-earned money for 1. Something you don’t know the size of. 2. Something you’ve only seen how sales and marketing want you to see it, not the actual product. 3. Something you have no idea how it will fit your body.

One time a company made a pin-stripe hoodie that I had to own, even though it was $160.00 & made in San Fran, so I had to order it online. I ordered one in small after looking at the size chart. When it finally arrived, it said ‘small,’ but was humongous! Like XXL huge. They made an XS but I knew that wouldn’t fit me with the size of the small, so I sent it back & got a refund, but still paid the shipping.

On a few occasions I had ordered things that never showed up! Then I had to call my bank to dispute the charges & while the money was fully refunded eventually, there is a big waste of time and energy.

While I love getting packages in the mail like anyone else, with clothes, it is not worth the hassle, & the online sales industry knows this so they are constantly trying to make it easier, but just don’t do it. It is too easy to settle for things you don’t really like & a waste of time, money & energy in most cases. Don’t gamble with your style & image, be sure.

You can always find something good in the city, I promise. Get a friend & go out and about. Try everything on, get feedback & only buy what you love. Plus this keeps more of your money in the local economy, which is good for the city.

Have your own online shopping horror stories? Wanna prove me wrong & defend online shopping? Share below:

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 – 

the_north_face_venture_jacket

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.

Fit comes first

Image

The No.1 ProTip to all clothes is fit. I don’t care who you are, if you go get a suit second-hand and tailor it to your body, you will look better and more professional than 95% of men out there now. The biggest difference between the pages of GQ and real life is that every article of clothing in those pages fit the person wearing them. The 90’s are long gone, most rappers even get the tightest fit possible these days. Baggy jeans are out and will stay out, because you graduated high school long ago.

I think the main problem is  that America is overweight(btw, you probably found that out just by trying on clothes at a store). That fact, paired with corporations trying to make clothes anyone can ‘fit’ makes shopping much more interesting. These days you see ‘slim fit’ everywhere but even most of those are too baggy in my opinion.

You need to make sure everything you wear fits. The average man can drop 40 lbs. to the eye by getting a slimmer fit. Hint: if you need a belt to keep your pants up, they are too big! Pants should fit snugly around your waist with an ability to wear them without a belt and the legs of your pants should conform to the legs of your body. The next time you go shopping try getting pants a couple of sizes smaller than you’re used to and see how they fit, but remember, clothes don’t shrink anymore, they stretch, so don’t worry if they feel a little too snug. Hint: If you are ‘swimming’ in your clothes, they are too big! Hint: If the back of your shirt has a ‘sail'(excess build-up of fabrick) when tucked in, it is too big! If you are slim, you need flexible fabric and a hugging fit. If you are a larger man you need to re-evaluate your diet, get some exercise and wear slightly loose clothing, but don’t go too baggy or will add pounds, not hide them. I will let you know the best way to get the perfect fit:

1. Custom shirts – Brooks Brothers will take all of your measurements and make a dress shirt to fit you exactly, made in America too. The problem with this is it ranges from $160.00-$180.00 to get one. While it is probably worth the price it is not very economical.

2. Tailoring – Tailoring is awesome. Any suit you buy should be tailored. If someone tries to sell you a suit without tailoring, they don’t know what they are doing. Tailoring can be spendy but it is worth it for your finer garments. Also, find a recommended tailor, in Portland the best tailor I have found is Mike in Collier, he knows what he’s doing and has saved people I know from the botched tailoring of others. Regular pants and shirts should not be tailored as it is too easy to find the proper fit these days and tailoring tends to almost double the price for those items.

3. Finding the proper fit – This is easier than it seems. If you are slim the best place for slacks and different colored pants is the GAP, who has a true slim fit pant in lots of colors. Their pants are about $60.00 a pair, but always seem to be on sale. H&M has very slim pants too, but you can not choose the length, only the waist size, so it’s a score if you fit them automatically, but I don’t so I’ve never bought pants there, it’s not worth the tailoring in my opinion. But H&M has great fitting flexible button-up shirts in tons of styles ranging from $15-$35. They are not the highest quality, but do last well and are worth the $. Also, Express Men have great shirts in tons of different fits and colors, but are about $60/shirt and have some sales. For suits I’ll only go to Collier. Banana Republic is better for bigger guys, with shirts and pants, they don’t really have slim down to skinny yet.

The biggest trick is to TRY ON EVERYTHING. Try a size smaller than you think you are. Bring a fashionable friend when you go shopping, show them how it fits, get their opinion. I am also available as a personal stylist for a small fee.

You may not be like me, but I work for my body with diet and exercise, so why would I want clothes that make me look fat? I wouldn’t and neither should you. Also, if you are self-conscious, proper fitting clothes will help you feel better about yourself, but I also recommend a better diet and more exercise.

Fun Socks!

happysocks_fall10_1

This is the easiest way to show your individuality & spice up your wardrobe. Instead of rocking a mohawk, use fun socks to show your wild side. While in the laid-back business scene in Portland these may not be 100% professional to the more traditional businessmen, but even haters have to respect your rebellious side. The mix between subtlety & craziness is a perfect blend of Portland cool. White and black socks are played out, it’s a fact, unless they are black & white frozen yogurt swirl with a waffle cone pattern on the toe & heel. Swag.

Breakdown

Where to get them – Nordstrom Rack downtown. You can find them almost anywhere these days but The Rack has the walls of selection for the right price.

Cost – $4-7/pair. You can find them cheaper & can spend $20 on a pair. That’s why The Rack is the best place, they are usually $4-7/pair, but you will see some for $9 there. Now, you may be thinking “$5 for a pair of socks?” Yes, they are totally worth it. They are of high quality & since they are so bright, hard to lose. $35 makes you a new, much more interesting man for all seven days of the week.

When to wear – Casual, business casual, business & formal. Always. If you are wearing socks, they should be fun!

How to wear – There is only one trick to fun socks, it is that you cannot try to match them. WRONG: If you are wearing a red shirt, don’t wear red socks. The problem is that the shades always seem off or it looks like you’re trying too hard. Fun socks are an accent, so they should be an accent color. RIGHT: Blue/white pin-stripe button up with light grey pants with red socks & either brown or black shoes.