Can’t Buy Class, But You Can Wear It.

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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:

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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

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.

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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

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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.

Why should men dress well?

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I know there are only 2 reasons men don’t dress well. One is they don’t care, the other is they don’t know how.

With my blog I will attempt to show you how affordably. But for those who don’t care, I was looking for some cold hard facts of why men should dress better & I found something I think you all should see:

“…today announced the findings of its inaugural nationwide Well-Dressed Men Survey, revealing the often-underestimated importance of how a man’s wardrobe can dramatically impact his self-confidence, career, and love life.

“According to the study conducted by Kelton Research, not only are well-dressed men viewed as sexier, smarter, more successful, and more well-liked, they also fare better in relationships. In fact, 91 percent of Americans think dressing well can make a man appear to be more physically attractive than he really is, while nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe women are more likely to marry a well-dressed man than one who isn’t as put together.

“Though beauty may be only skin deep, the survey uncovered the alluring possibilities of being well dressed, including greater sex appeal and higher workplace wages.

“They say the way a man dresses can say a lot about his character. As it turns out, attributes associated with dressing nicely — including confidence, sophistication and intelligence — translate easily into the office environment, according to the study. In fact, three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans think well-dressed men are more successful in the workplace than their casual colleagues, and 22 percent of men actually believe they would earn more money if only they dressed better than they currently do.

“The way someone looks is one of the most important aspects of sexual attraction, which is perhaps why nearly three-quarters (78 percent) of women assert one of the hottest things a guy can do is to dress well. The women polled reveal a number of surprising sentiments when it comes to their relationships with men and their clothes:

  • You can’t buy them love: A vast majority (85 percent) of women think a guy who dresses well is sexier than one who has a lot of money.
  • Women will sacrifice a lot for style: Eight in ten (80 percent) women would give up something in their lives — such as going out to dinner, using their cell phone, or even having sex for an entire year — for a better-dressed partner.”

This was the results of a survey done late 2011. So men it’s time to step your game up. Put your tees & baggy cargo shorts away, it’s time to grow up & get your fashion sense out of high school. Follow my blog so you can look better, feel better & be more successful.

BCS