The Modern Day Barber Shop

barber pole

There’s been something missing from Men’s style for at least my whole lifetime, or this is Gen X’s best kept secret: The Barber Shop.

When I say that, you may think of really old guys smelling of disinfectant and lecturing about “kids these days” while giving the same haircut to everyone. I can’t even say that’s not the case with most. What I can say is that the art of the barber somehow seems to have gone over the head of Gen Y, probably because, of course, if your dad did it, it mos def was not cool. Damn you, teenage angst! Blame Don Draper or Macklemore or whoever, but people are starting to realize dad & grandpa did it right.

The barber is one of the oldest professions on record. In Rome, circa 300 BC, they were very prosperous, popular & were a community hub for news & gossip. Barbers then became the first dentists & surgeons in history with that being a part of their profession up until the fifteenth century. In fact, the barber pole, pictured above, is a symbol of bloodletting. Bloodletting was the “medical” procedure of trying to heal someone by cutting them and letting them bleed, or putting leeches on them to suck it out because they had too much blood compared to how much phlegm, black bile & yellow bile in their system. Now archaic, the whole purpose of the medical field at that time was regulating these 4 “humors” as they were called to also regulate man’s health & temperament. I’ve heard the symbol (which is only red, white & blue in the US, but just red & white everywhere else) represents bloody bandages wrapped around a white pole drying outside the establishment & the bowl on each side represents the bowl of leeches they may incorporate. But if you wanted a history lesson you should have downloaded a Podcast.

Allow me to introduce you the modern barbershop.

oak bbs

Oak Barbershop 833 SE Main St. Portland, OR 97214

One day I was looking somewhere for my BFF & I to get a haircut with straight-razor shave for an event we would be attending. I had to find a new place as the last trendy place I was getting my haircuts was okay, but I never would’ve trusted the bubbly stylists there to take a razor to my neck, my life is just that precious. So I was on Google trying to find the most reputable source to avoid a possible slit throat & I ran across Oak Barbershop. With a Google rating of 4.9 stars I had to check it out. Not one bad review in the bunch, all 5 stars. To quote their website, “We believe trends come & go, but style is timeless.” We’re all on the same page, so I used their simple online booking and made a pair of appointments.

As an interjection here, Gus & Kyle are booked pretty heavily & have a ton of repeat business, and by writing this I run the risk of waiting longer than I already do to get my hair cut at Oak, but I decided that it would be unfair to not share what to me is, easily, the best business in PDX.

Like a true Portlander’s establishment, it is just off the beaten path. You will be searching for a bit before you locate it, allow extra time on your 1st visit & make sure you scope the info on the website 1st. You walk into a small room with two chairs, two tattooed men & good music. There isn’t much space for anything else, but it is very cozy. It doesn’t matter what impression you get, because you will soon get the best cut of your life.

The thing both Gus and Kyle are amazing at is communication. When you tell them what you want they repeat it back to show they understand, they tell you what is possible and what isn’t, they don’t demand you choose a number for the length of your hair in the sides and back, etc. They know what will make you look good. Even though everyone now knows whats up with the cut, the communication still shines. The two barbers are some of the easiest, funniest guys to talk to. The entertainment factor alone is worth the cost of the service you receive. The cut and shave were phenomenal. This was the manliest pampering I’ve ever got & the price is less than the trendy spots.

I had to stop myself from writing about it at that point because it could have been a fluke. The real test of a haircut is how grows out. Sometimes you can leave looking good, but in a week look like a tool. This was not the case. I liked my hair for the next two months! I decided to go back before I write & I’m glad I did. Gus & Kyle remembered us and specifics of what we talked about and my last haircut.

The watchword for these two is precision. The theme is service. Something you want when it comes to your hair. After my last haircut I’ve gotten the most compliments ever on my hair. I had multiple people talking about it and asking me where I got it done. That is style.

I can honestly say I will never get my hair cut by another. I highly recommend for your next haircut to get your best friend, schedule appointments at the same time and go together.

You will look better.

When it comes to haircuts you have only a few other options:

1. DIY – Not Recommended

Pros: It’s free. Cons: Everyone knows you are cheap, lazy & don’t care about what you look like. Unless your are using your shaved head as a fashion statement?

2. Great/Super Clips/Cuts – No

Pros: None. Cons: Everything. Their hairstylists are told to do each haircut under 12 mins so they can make a profit. No self-respecting man would take his dead cells to get cropped at a place like this.

3. Rock ‘n’ Roll/Man Cave/Trendy Spots – Not Recommended

Pros: You have an estimated 80% chance of a good haircut. Cons: You know this place: “Here’s a drink! We know and like you. Check out the pretty girls who work here.” This is not inherently bad. But most of the people who work here went to cosmetology school, yeah, like make-up and hair dye shit. The owners know marketing gimmicks, most of their stylists don’t have the clipper or bowstaff skills of barbering. Your ear hair will not get trimmed, they don’t shave your neck hair with a razor, they don’t know what “keep the bangs long” means, your cut will come out looking good 80% of the time in my experience. Mostly they assign odd hours for their workers, so setting appointments for someone you have found you like can be difficult. Also, there seems to be a pretty quick turn around for a majority of stylists.

So that is that. Remember your hair says a lot about you. Make it look good, don’t just cover it up.

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:

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

 

Pants 101

Gentlemen,

Pants are useful for many reasons, and in Portland, men need them for at least 10 months out of the year. Whether work or play, you are going to want to look good wearing them.

Today, let’s go over some basics on Men’s pants. For the sake of simplicity I’m going to break trousers down into three categories:

1. Slacks – These are your dress pants, suit pants, formal wear, etc.

2. Khakis – These are the less formal khakis, chinos, etc.

3. Jeans – You probably know what these are.

Everything else is specialized. Carharts stay on the job site, pajama pants stay in the home, hiking pants stay on the trail.

Step #1: Choose flat-front pants over pleated.

Pleated-Pants

Never ever, ever wear pleats. Pleats are outdated. The idea behind them is that men need more room and flexibility in their crotch and with the pockets. That was fine when they were popular from the 20s through the 90’s, mainly because fabric was not as flexible then. But now there is no excuse! If you want to wear pants in which you could smuggle drugs or kittens across a border, these are what I would recommend. They come with a giant crotch-void only good for adding 40 lbs to your frame or smuggling. Also the pleats push the fabric out further from the waist, adding weight to the legs all the way down the ankle. The 90’s are alive in Portland but most of us ditched the pleats long ago. You can barely find these in stores anymore, but older more traditional men will swear by pleats. Businessmen are baggier than gangsters these days and that is just weird.

Common pro-pleat myths:

“Pleats help the crease on the legs fall smother” Possibly true, but moot as the crease is a minor worry when you’re adding optical fat to your body.

“Pleats make bigger men look thinner” False, you may be ‘hiding’ fat, i.e. you can’t see what is the fat or just super baggy fabric, but if put in slimmed down flat-fronts the same man would get compliments for looking thinner. The baggier your clothes, the fatter you look.

“Pleats give my penis more room, as I cannot fit them in flat-fronts” (Real argument I’ve heard) False, don’t lie. People usually only try to hide what they don’t have (Push-up bra ring a bell?).

I’m sure someday pleated pants will come back as some ironic fashion statement, but even then I will be grimacing and scoffing in my flat-front pants.

Step #2: Choose your cut.

There are 4 main cuts these days in all three categories of pants:

Relaxed: These are loose, baggy pants. Just don’t do it. You live in Portland, there is literally a 1 in a million chance you are a gangster rapper. Even if you are a fan of gangster rap, dress like A$AP Rocky, not Snoop Dog[Lion]. If there is one thing to take away from this post, it’s to slim up your clothes. My general rule is to not have enough extra fabric on my body to dress a starving African child, because that’s just fucking selfish. So this is a no in all 3 above categories.

Straight(Boot Cut): This cut is the same from the thigh down to the ankle, no taper. Unless you are a stick figure, your ankles are thinner than your thighs. Don’t wear these unless you are wearing boots. Yes only in Jeans, with boots

Slim: This is what you should go for. Anyone can pull this off, it’s just a different name for tapered & because your legs are tapered, this looks good on anyone. Even if you don’t consider yourself slim, try them on, because most brands err on the side of not slim enough. What you really want is anything with “Tailored” in the name of the cut, i.e. Tailored Slim. If they actually fit & look like they were tailored to your body then you win at life. You will look pro without having to pay a tailor to do it! Fully acceptable and highly recommended in all 3 above.

Skinny: You probably already know if you can pull off this cut. This is not acceptable in Slacks usually, but this is Portland & we’re all already oxymorons in one way or another, so I say go for it! Show those chicks what you’re working with!

Step #3: Put the breaks on your breaks!

PantsFit_Breaks

The break on your pants is how the fabric lands on the top of your shoes. The break depends on the pants you wear, but also the shoes you wear with them.

Full/Large Break: This or any pile of pant leg resting on one’s shoe is your first clue of a cluelessly dressed man. Think of the African children and tighten it up boys. This break is never acceptable in Slacks & to me only acceptable in Khaki or Jeans if rolled up(turning it into No Break).

Half/Medium Break: This is the conservative industry standard. All of Congress & any CEO over the age of 35 is sporting this break. So obviously it’s boring, not recommended unless running for office.

Quarter/Small Break: More stylish & tailored look. Highly recommended if you want to look better than others, with no one able to put their finger on why. Also, this will not cause any ripples with bosses or conservatives.

No Break/Rise: This is the one I go for. It is the most fashion-forward. People will stare, comment, perhaps even make fun if they are intimidated by your prowess. This today is urbane defined, and the only way to wear your pants if you want to make moves outside of walking. Careful on this one, like liquor, a little goes a long way. It’s called a Rise, not highwaters. This shows off the shoes and socks without having to sit down. You must have slim or skinny cuts to pull this off. Ankle is the businessman’s cleavage. Wear it well. Better picture below.

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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.

Shoe Revolution PT. 2

Now that you know the 5 main categories of men’s footwear from Shoe Revolution PT. 1, you just need to know what to wear, when, where to get them & how to care for them.

What to Wear & When-

You need a minimum of 5 pairs of shoes:

1. Black Oxfords or Loafers

2. Brown Oxfords or Loafers

3. Sneakers

4. Flip-flops

5. Slippers

Brown & black for any formal or social situation. Sneakers to work out and run errands in. Flip-flops for beach, river or BBQ. Slippers for lounging. You can definitely have more for more specific hobbies, i.e. hiking boots, running shoes, but the above should be the minimum. This will make it so you are never under dressed.

I firmly believe any social situation (besides a backyard BBQ or trip to the beach/river) deserves a nice grown up pair of shoes. Think about this, even a modest example, you have a man wearing dark jeans and a V-neck shirt out to dinner. Now picture him with tennis shoes, what does he look like? A high-schooler? Maybe. A college kid? Probably. A man who doesn’t care? Definitely. Now think of the same guy with a pair of loafers or nice leather shoes, what does he look like? A grown-up! You may not believe me but that’s the way women see it.

Another problem men may have to buying nicer shoes, is that they aren’t comfortable. If you think that, you need to stop paying $50.00 for a pair of shoes. Nice shoes fit great & are super comfortable. Look at shoes as an investment, not ‘if these $50.00 shoes last 6 months, it will be a good deal.’ That is false, because you are not calculating loss of confidence, respect and care from yourself and others into that equation, which is important in a recession. You need to think ‘If I have 5 nice pair of shoes and take care of them all, they will all last much longer than 6 months and I will definitely look good for the next two years’ plus the immeasurable profit of high self-esteem & self-worth.

While the tradition of men’s footwear states that the simpler the shoes, the more formal, we Portlanders laugh in the face of tradition. The biggest fashion faux pas in Portland is, obviously, to conform. We don’t even use umbrella’s when it rains. The worst nightmare of a true Portlander is to look like a tourist in his own city. Tourists use umbrellas, so we don’t.

So here is how to not conform with shoes:  Instead of wearing Oxfords  to work or with a suit, try Loafers, mainly monk straps. Get Oxfords in a color besides brown or black to make them less formal. Instead of wearing sneakers to a bar, try Oxfords. They all go great with fun socks. These shoes will pair well with your jeans, chinos & khakis.

Outside of work, you can always find me in a pair of single or double monk strap shoes. And they never fail to impress.

Where to get Them-

There are 3 stores I love to shop for shoes in Portland.

The 1st is Nordstrom Rack. They are hit & miss & you have to do a lot of searching and trying on, but sometimes you can score there with big discounts. When a nice pair of $200.00 shoes are marked down to $120.00, it’s hard to say no.

2nd, Aldo in Pioneer Sq. Mall is a great place for cheaper very stylish shoes from $70-$90 with sales, you can also get some great deals here.

Johnny Soles downtown also has a good selection, I can always find something there I like. They have limited amounts and have nicer shoes so are more spendy, but locally owned which fills my Portland pride.

Honorable mention for Banana Republic, I have a pair of brown single monk straps and I love them, & I think they are coming out with a double soon, and you can get sales there too.

Care-

If you invest in new leather shoes and plan to run around town in them, puddle-skipping and such, I recommend going to Derek’s Shoe Repair and he can put toe & sole protectors on. This way the shoes won’t let water in and the toe will be protected for $28.00. Not always necessary for every shoe you get, but if you have made an investment in a more spendy pair, I highly recommend it.

Get your shoes shined. I go to Nordstom (sans Rack) to the shoe section and you can get your shoes shined like a boss for $5 (that includes tip, but make sure you have cash). You can also do it yourself if you want, I may get into that someday, but I don’t know how & there are tons of tutorials online to find out how to do it you can find if interested.

The Man’s Quilt

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Check out these manly quilts. Only a genius could take a primarily feminine art dating back almost 5500 years and put such a spin on it that any modern man’s man would love to cuddle up with these blankets. Also useful for raising street cred while picnicking. Handmade right here in Portland by Drew Stefani, you can check out his website at drewstefani.com

Both quilts pictured are still for sale on his website. I think he does custom projects too.

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

Fun Socks!

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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.