The ‘Just’ Factor

A bad, appallingly bad precedent bordering on dangerous is set when just (an irritating adverb), continually creeps up as the primary excuse for employing minimum standards in dress. A common rationale I have often heard is: “the event or location isn’t important enough to warrant effort.” While this can apply to nearly any endeavor with which we choose to assign minimum effort, it is most troubling especially when you consider the enormous advantage of the opposite: that first appearance and its initial impact. We owe it to ourselves to present our best self as much, and as often, as we possibly can. I can’t emphasize that enough.  Because at some point appearance will make the difference, it is better to be prepared.

I don’t need official corroboration when I say appearance matters. It helps that countless studies conclude similarly. So I can say emphatically it is to your advantage to present your best self. There should never be a just moment. That’s not merely hyperbole, it’s better to give a damn than not. That excuse sinks us into complacency. Stop the convenient lie that more and more locations, and social circles lack the ambiance important enough for you to put forth minimum effort.

Where and when does the just end? I’m only meeting so and so…I’m just running to the store…I’m not trying to impress anyone. This is a dangerously slippery slope into the zone of the slovenly, self absorbed, Seinfeldian legend, George Constanza. Where, eventually, you may unconsciously adhere to a similar nonchalance in more than one aspect of life. The same sloppy appearance trickles into work, and social situations, none being important enough due to that  ill conceived rationalization.

Maturing, hopefully, is synonymous with learning and lessons being learned followed (or preceded) by many “ah ha” moments. One of my “ah ha” moments came unexpectedly and it was quite influential.

Following a long-needed haircut and a new tie, the executive editor at the newspaper where I worked, commented,  ‘now, you look the part’. A promotion followed shortly after. Now I can’t say that because I wore a nice tie and got I got a promotion. But it brought the right attention and I took note. Realization followed by action, that is what “ah ha” moments are supposed to do.

I’m reminded of a quote that’s attributed to the abolitionist, Henry Ward Beecher, “Clothes and manners do not make the man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.”

It is not at all overwhelming or off putting as one may imagine. Make minor but important adjustments. All it takes it shifting one piece. Putting forth that extra bit of effort. The sandals are easier, but the loafers are more polished, if even for a weekend brunch. If we keep the notion of first impressions in the forefront, we’re better off.  To reach the next career level, public figures from politicians to rappers have undergone the requisite change, and for the better. In the world of upward mobility, there’s absolutely no room for the just factor.

In a contemporary society, image our first weapon. For any genuine shift in mindset, the just factor must be eliminated, in favor of a more advantageous option; straightening up.

 

 

The Summer Light

We’re here, in midsummer. It’s dreadfully hot outside, and inside. After a life of central air conditioning, I’m slowly adjusting to one corner of my apartment being cool, and making my best efforts to conduct every order of business in said nook.

When outside, one of the best defenses I’ve utilized is that of the light shirt. Be it white, pale pink, or light blue, all three shades evoke a summry and pre-autumnal feel, illuminates my face and, most importantly, keep me (psychologically) cooler than any darker counterpart. None of this is revolutionary, I know.

Jacket by Gant, shirt and sunglasses by Brioni, pocket square by Drake's

Linen jacket by Gant, shirt and sunglasses by Brioni, pocket square by Drake’s

For the last month and half I’ve worn nothing but the aforementioned shades in cotton and linen, polo, T, and dress, short and long sleeved.

Jacket (part of suit) by Brioni, shirt by Piatelli, sunglasses by Persol

Silk/linen jacket (part of suit) by Brioni, shirt by Piatelli, sunglasses by Persol

I’ve witnessed men on the street pull of shades of grey with aplomb, yet I can’t yet allow myself to.

Jacket (part of suit) by Club Monaco, polo by Uniqlo, sunglasses by Brioni, jeans by APC

Cotton jacket (part of suit) by Club Monaco, polo by Uniqlo, sunglasses by Brioni, jeans by APC

Perhaps it’s a misguided belief that anything darker is more reminiscent of fall. Or I may not be there yet in my sartorial evolution.

NYC Happenings

It’s been a busy past few weeks with work travels and what not. I’m backed up on sharing some events. One of New York’s treasures, Fine & Dandy, hosted a cocktail hour for their Social Club recently. The theme was ‘Convictions On Summer Living.’

On a sloshy Tuesday evening, I was fortunate to have made it the six blocks from my office to the shop, just in time to avoid another downpour. It was a splendid evening, meeting and chatting with other menswear enthusiasts.

The dress theme was summery, Great Gatbsy inspired. I did my best. I went with an as yet to be determined colored suit, which is a silk/linen suit blend, pale blue pinned collar shirt and brown knit tie for the evening’s festivities.

Suit and shirt by Brioni, Tie and glasses by Tom Ford, unbranded pocket square, shoes by Santoni, hat by Scala

Suit and shirt by Brioni, Tie and glasses by Tom Ford, unbranded pocket square, shoes by Santoni, hat by Scala, Fleur de lis pin by By Elias

 

The event received some excellent coverage from the The Wall Street Journal and, of course, social media.

No Tie Required

I was watching a recent television segment on dandysim. The piece featured the book, I Am Dandy, previously posted here. It struck me magnificent that these men can adhere to a core principle of dressing so fervently day in, day out. While I appreciate the devotion to all things elegant, the weather is a brutal reminded of practicality. I’m of the school of thought that suggests one needn’t be dressed to nines on every occasion; that style is often a representation of a range of life’s adventures.

This brings me to the T-shirt and jeans phenomenon. Popularized in America, yet maligned due to its casualness, the simple combination may not be the most appropriate choice for white cloth dinners, but it, this duo of informality, has its place.  Casual summer evenings outside are, naturally, the first to come to mind. To ensure its effectiveness, there needs to exist two core components, which are often stressed on this blog: fit and proportion.

T-shirt, jeans by Uniqlo, Jack Purcell sneakers by Converse

T-shirt, jeans by Uniqlo, Jack Purcell sneakers by Converse

The T-shirt with a hemline not far below that of the jeans and a sleeve somewhere above the elbow is ideal. Accompanying that, jeans that are neither skinny nor baggy. The more fittings the casual pants helps them escape that informality, just a bit. Following that similar cut, chinos can be easily interchanged with equal aplomb. The ease of a sneaker versus a formal shoe adds to the decidedly relaxed nature of said combination of pieces.

Polo by Uniqlo, Chinos by J.Crew, sneakers by Converse

Polo by Uniqlo, Chinos by J.Crew, sneakers by Converse

The idea behind this is, when clothes fit a certain way, one mustn’t always worry about dressing too much. I apologize to no one when I say a jacket and tie are not required everywhere and, can actually look quite foolish in some settings. Dressing is about expanding and evolving. This also means moving beyond a limiting formulaic approach.

I’ve nothing but respect and admiration for those who stay firm to the elements of dressing. I simply suggest to ditch the neckties every now and again.

Cause For Celebration

Warmer temperatures are a now a daily reality. Naturally, a shift to more summer-weight  appropriate clothing is in order. The idea behind dressing well during the warmer months isn’t wearing less clothing, but rather lighter pieces.

I find it refreshing, summer weight pieces, that it. Overall, the colors echo the more jovial mood the next few months have us in. Outdoor activities abound, as do World Cup gatherings, cookouts (hopefully lacking prepackaged patties), park concerts and vacations. Dressing well should fall in line.

Jacket by Acquaviva, shirt by Piatelli

Jacket by Acquaviva, shirt by Piatelli, pocket square by Drake’s of London

One mustn’t wear white bucks and seersucker (thought it is a smart combination) to truly embody summer. Unlined jackets and trousers in a variety of linen and cotton blends are undoubtedly the most aggressive ally against the draining heat. These fabrics breathe a bit more easily that their wool counterparts. The quarter lined jacket, above and below, is a lightweight wool. The minimal lining aids in the airiness necessary to survive during the next few months.

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In addition to the lightness of fabrics, the color scheme is equally lighter and, perhaps, brighter than any fall offerings. The concept being that one is shedding the burdens of sub-zero temperatures. The color scheme is the same, but the hues are softer, like this blue jacket.

Jacket by Gant, shirt by Kamakura, tie by Polo RL, hat by Scala, cotton trousers by J.Crew

Jacket by Gant, shirt by Kamakura, tie by Polo RL, hat by Scala, cotton trousers by J.Crew, bag by Want Les Essentiels de la Vie, shoes by Howard Yount

The jacket is a cotton/linen blend and is quarter lined. The weight and shade of blue truly make this a spring/summer piece. A shade or two darker and the feel of the jacket would seem to heavy for the season, despite the weight. The pale grey cotton trousers echo the top half by playing into that softer tone, while still proving enough contrast.

Details like patch pockets and white buttons also add that casual element. For the more conservative circles, the essential components are the same: fabric choice, weight and lining, yet without the less formal choices.

Go sockless will add to the less restrictive nature of the season and will keep you a bit cooler. Linen and cotton, even shantung ties won’t keep you cooler, but they are a bit more fun than the standard printed silk varieties.

Some men chose to bulk up from January to now, seeing summer as an opportunity to display their toned physiques in tanks tops and shorts. That’s fine. If you’re not toned by now though, that ship has most likely sailed, and you may just have to rely on your wit, unlined fresco jacket and linen slippers to woo the fairer sex.

Either way, it’s a time to relax, even for a short while. That’s cause for celebration.

The #Menswear Uniform

The combination of a navy jacket and grey trousers has been utilized for decades. Young men who have, in part, received their sartorial education from the internet (myself included) have learned to appreciate this most essential of combinations. I’ve previously posted about the two powerhouse shades in menswear, for good reason. The pairing combines two staples that, more or less, always work together.

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The combination can be subdued or, with a change of underpinnings, a bit more bold. The backdrop of two neutral colors allows one’s creativity to roam with it comes to the furnishings. The two solids ground even the busiest shirt and tie, not that I recommend pairing two hectic patterns together.

Jacket (part of suit) by Suit Supply, shirt by Kamakura, tie by Drake's, Fleur De Lis lapel pin by By Elias

Jacket (part of suit) by Suit Supply, shirt by Kamakura, tie by Drake’s, Fleur De Lis lapel pin by By Elias

A myriad of tie patterns would pair nicely here, but the plaid was the winner of this day. DSC09811

Double monk straps and green herringbone socks gave a lift to otherwise understated pale grey cotton trouser. For a more formal event, a darker brown captoe would be at home with these trousers.

Shoes by Howard Yount, socks by Barney's NY

Shoes by Howard Yount, socks by Barney’s NY

I understand the desire to be more experimental with one’s wardrobe, and I encourage it. However, it’s comforting to always have a firm backup option when nothing else works or, if you’re like George Constanza and dress according to more, you feel more subdued.

 

Spring, About Time

The weather has warmed up a bit here in NYC. Though it’s not what I would call warm, most have done away with coats and scarves in favor of pieces like the transitional jacket. This past week is the clearest indication that spring, previously tucked away, is ready to makes its full appearance. Needless to say, I brought out the spring summer wardrobe, though slightly prematurely.

To celebrate this near-tepid temperature, out came an unlined linen jacket and the first appearance of ankles.

Jacket by Z Zegna, shirt and chinos by Uniqlo, belt by Martin Dingman, shoes by Alden, pocket square by Drake's

Jacket by Z Zegna, shirt and chinos by Uniqlo, belt by Martin Dingman, shoes by Alden, pocket square by Drake’s

The #menswear uniform of blue and grey doesn’t have to be dull nor do spring colors need to be overpowering. Everything here is muted, but works well together. The Drake’s square, via The Armoury, and the By Elias Fleur de lis pin both add a little lift that is always needed.

IMG_5951

The lightweight chinos in this neutral pale grey will work with a multitude of seasonal jackets. Uniqlo chinos are affordable enough to purchase a few pair for the season. The anchor pieces; shoes and jacket are considerably more important and should be the focal point of one’s budget. Mine, these well worn Aldens, are my go to for every casual day. The rolled, rather than cuffed, bottom is more casual, in-keeping with the informal nature of this day’s attire.

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The shoes are most certainly money well spent as they work just as well in the winter as they do in summer. Perhaps the only addition I would make is a lighter loafer.

Now, as I mentioned, the level of spring-ness to this was a little early. Fortunately, a cotton scarf served me well for the (mild) gusts of wind. Everyday I’m learning about this city’s deceptive weather forecast.

Photos by Bevin Elias

Photos by Bevin Elias

Speaking of, said forecast shows some sunny days ahead. With that clearance, the hunt begins now for an unlined double breasted navy jacket.

 

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