September 16, 2014
My ‘Dream’ Wish List

Ok, a day late on this one, sorry folks. I swear I’m back on the regular schedule, but was away for part of the weekend and not as productive as I planned for the rest of it, so, sue me. 

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned (probably tirelessly), I just took a big leap and moved to NYC, in large part to pursue a full-time career in men’s apparel. It’s been wildly exciting, and I have a lot of potentially awesome opportunities in the pipeline, but inherently, part of that leap meant quitting my old job in Chicago, and being temporarily unemployed. And something I’ve realized over the past two weeks, is that it’ tough to be a broke menswear blogger. 

As I sit here researching and writing articles, or even ‘background’ reading all of my favorite blogs and periodicals, I’m just surrounded by things to buy. With a regular income, I temper my desires for absurdly expensive shoes and suits by scoring bargains on slightly less, but still significantly drool-worthy duds, or even just improving my basic wardrobe. When I’m completely broke, though, it’s like having an addiction, with no fix! I can’t even get a little taste! Sheesh! 

So, as a result, I’ve (vaguely counter-productively) been putting together a list of things I really want, but totally can’t afford. And not even ‘can’t afford while I’m broke,’ but really ‘things I will have to save up for (or score on eBay if I’m lucky). A ‘personal grail’ list, if you will.

I’m sure I’ve got a zillion other things on the list (such is the life of a struggle blogger with expensive taste), but the following are the things I’m really lusting after this fall. The list:

  • Alden Longwing Bluchers ($687 at Unionmade): I’ve actually needed new shoes since, oh, maybe mid-spring, and just haven’t been able to bring myself to buy the kind of pair that I could afford. Instead, I’m oh-so-stubbornly holding on on these beauties, which are probably my dream pair. Sure, there are others that come close (maybe an AE Strand in shell cordovan), but something keeps bringing me back to these. I love the versatility, the American, kinda preppy aesthetic (as opposed to a more sleek, European shoe), the Alden heritage, the burgundy color, the cordovan leather - it’s the one pair of shoes I could probably wear every damn day.

Longwing Cordovan Blucher | Alden via Unionmade

 
  • Some sort of (very specific) boot (Alden Indy currently $512 at NeedSupply): Ok, ok, this one is pretty vague, and therefore a bit of a cop-out for a wish list, but I’ve been dying for a pair of nice boots for so long. The problem is, I keep waffling about what kind of boot I want. I know what I don’t want…I don’t want something chunky, or with a bulbous toe (goodbye Red Wing and Wolverine), I know I don’t want a Chelsea boot, or any kind of strictly dress boot, I know I don’t want something with a glued sole, I know I don’t want anything with zippers…should I go on? Beyond that, I know I want brown or Merlot, I know I want it to be relatively sleek through the toe-box, and I want it to be just rugged enough to deal with the elements without me coddling them. So, do I want a more casual boot, like the Viberg Service Boot or Alden Indy? Or do I want something I can wear with a tweed or flannel suit, like the Meermin Tan Country Calf, or the Allen Edmonds Dalton? All I know is, it’s gonna be expensive.

Indy Boot Chromexcel | Alden via NeedSupply

 
  • A leather bag (Frank Clegg brief currently $1140): This has been on my radar for a while, but was just recently hammered home by some recent posts on some of my go-to blogs. While I don’t necessarily want a hard-top briefcase (yet), I really connected with this post on TSB, and the assertion that men have kind of forgotten the formality/elegance of a proper, non-casual bag. Personally, I’m not sure if I’d go for a brief or other every-day bag (which I’d inherently get more use out of), or a weekender or duffel (which I just love the look of), but I know a gorgeous, shrunken-grained, buttery-soft beauty would just fill a gaping hole in my heart (isn’t hyperbole fun?). Not a connoisseur by any means, but something like this pick from Frank Clegg just tugs at my heartstrings. Editors Note: Holy hell these things are expensive…I mean I knew they weren’t cheap, but I went to pull the product link for this…oof.

Zip-Top Briefcase | Frank Clegg

  • Baracuta G9 Jacket ($390 through the Baracuta store): Ever since I’ve gotten into style, I’ve wanted a classic Baracuta to emulate some Ben Wyatt style. Now this one is a bit frustrating, because I honestly am not 100% sure it’s worth the crazy high price point. Also, you can find knockoffs for just fractions of the price. But maybe something about those knockoffs is just too noticeably different to me, or maybe I’m hooked on the Baracuta name, but whatever it is, I want one. This is for sure one I’m hunting the eBay for. But good luck to me, finding one in the right shade of dark khaki (which the below is not, but close), in a small, in good condition and a modern cut…and all the other stupid shit I’m picky about.

G9 Original | Baracuta

 
  • Barbour Waxed Bedale ($380 at Orvis): A bastion of NE, preppy fall style (though it’s origins are British), the waxed Barbour. Starts out shiny and new (and, from what I’ve heard, very waxy), develops a beautiful patina over time…honestly, this is one I might be better off buying used, and finding something with an already lovingly-worn-in look. And yeah, not out-of-the-world expensive for outerwear, even new. But I kinda want that worn-in look to be my own, and I’ve never before bought a coat at market price, so here it lands on my dream list.

Bedal Jacket | Barbour via Orvis

 
  • Brooks Brothers Regent Hopsack Blazer ($598 at Brooks Brothers): Surprisingly the only piece of tailored wear on this list (this time around, at least), I’ve been dying for a hopsack blazer since spring. It’s like, the perfect fabric. It’s wool, so it won’t be ‘out of season’ to be worn in the fall, spring, or winter, but the coarse fabric and open weave make it breathable enough to wear in the summer (as long as there’s a bit of a breeze). Plus, the texture of the thing sets it apart from your everyday, smooth and shiny worsted wool. It’s pretty much the perfect go-to blazer, but unfortunately a relatively hard-to-find fabric at lower prices. The Regent cut from Brooks Brothers would be perfect for me, in a slightly slimmer fit, just over 1/4 lined (though to be honest I don’t really know what that means), expensive enough to indicate quality but not wildly pricey…yep. Normally I’d find an affordable alternative, but I’ve been ‘making do’ with the blazers I have for long enough that they are starting to wear thin, so I think this deserves a spot on the covet-for-later list.

Regent Hopsack Blazer | Brooks Brothers

 

Ok, it’s time for me to stop drooling over expensive menswear pieces before I screw up and buy one with money I don’t have. What’s on your personal grail wishlist? Share in the comments section over on the main site.

September 12, 2014
Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 9/12/2014

Ah, so good to be back on schedule. Coming at you today with a new ‘Deals and Steals.’

"Every weekend, check in on the blog for a collection of the best (read: my favorite) deals and steals on the interweb for some quality shopping over the weekend. Have any to add? Share them in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. Also, if you’re biting on any of these hooks, I’d love to hear about it!"


Alright, last week we turned our eye to some upcoming fall styles (despite the fact that it was about 90 degrees here in NYC). Today, we’re doing the opposite, and throwing some last-minute summerwear steals your way (again, despite slightly contradictory weather here in the city). The end of the season is always a great time to shop around for items you may have missed, as retailers are pretty darn motivated to get those swim shorts off the shelves before it starts to snow (ugh).



50% Off Select Final Sale Styles at J.Crew (code EASYSALE):

Another one of J.Crews now-very-regular coded sales. And speaking of those swim shorts, our very first pick is a classy pair in a very cool solid blue seersucker:

6.5” Tab Swim Short in Tonal Seersucker | J.Crew

I’ve talked a lot about the benefit of swim shorts that can pass as regular shorts, making it easy to go from the beach to the bar, and these fit the bill perfectly. With the tab closure, 6.5” inseam, and again, the seersucker fabric, I wouldn’t have even guessed these were swim shorts until I saw the title. At just $20 after the discount (originally $75), this is an easy snag to be prepared for spring break (when every swim suit will cost way more than this).


While you’re at it, pick up this seersucker popover for just $20 (originally $70):

Short-Sleeve Popover in Seersucker | J.Crew

Heck, even wear the two together - since the shorts are tonal and solid, I think it’s ok to rock the two seersucker pieces together, but regardless, a short-sleeve seersucker popover is like, the perfect casual summer shirt. Grab it now!

Lots of other great summery picks hanging around the sale section, be sure to check it out.

Uniqlo Sale Section:

Uniqlo is another one that has a ton of their surplus summer stock at pretty heavily discounted prices. Lots of Tees, more casual shorts, etc., but there were two pieces in particular that I might grab. First is this pair of gingham shorts:

Belted Shorts in Gingham | Uniqlo

First, a quick note, when you get shorts that come with a belt, you should probably just throw the belt out. Haven’t seen this one in person, so I can’t speak to it based off experience, but generally, if a belt is cheap enough to be thrown in as a freebie, it’s just too cheap. That said, these shorts alone look great - I’ve stocked up on enough solids this summer, so a fun pattern would be nice, and these are interesting without coming off as childish. At just $10 a pair (down from $40), it’s an easy steal.

Second, this will perhaps be my last shoutout to the 2014 Michael Bastian x Uniqlo polo collection:

Washed Short Sleeve Polo Shirt | Michael Bastian x Uniqlo

I think we’ve had some at discounted prices before, but this $10 price-point (regularly $23) is about the lowest I’ve seen. I usually stick to the button-down styles, but the vintage vibes on this guy are really cool.

Lightweight Pants (On Sale) at Bonobos:

Just looking at the sale section here, unfortunately no codes for extra discounts, but there’s still some things of note to find. First are their lightweight chinos (again, on sale), in normal colors. These hit the sale section every so often all summer, but usually in pretty go-to-hell colors. Today, I even saw some in the ever-classic khaki:

Summerweight Chino | Bonobos

Also popping up in other neutrals like navy and grey, these are hovering around $48 for straight leg, and $78 for slim (which isn’t the cheapest, yer darn right, but maybe a code will pop up, or these will drop in price along with the temps). Original price is $98. Worth keeping an eye on, at the very least.

Second, in general, their selection of Oxley’s is at the lowest sale price I think I’ve seen this year. Even without an additional code, grabbing a pair like these for just $48 is a helluva steal (originally  $98 as well):

Oxleys | Bonobos

As I’ve said, Oxleys = the most comfortable summer pants ever. At the very least, wait for an extra discount code and the jump on these. 

Don’t forget, if you’re breaking $75 on your first purchase, our referral link will net you $25 credit

K-Way Rain Jackets via Huckberry:

Alright, this one is stepping lightly out of summer territory and into fall (or hell, spring for that matter). Ever since I’ve seen these pop up in one of the menswear publications I read, I’ve been kinda hooked. Not normally a fan of the kind of wind-breaker-y, packable style, I actually really like these:

Packable Waterproof Jacket | K-Way via Huckberry

Maybe it’s that they are actually waterproof (unlike a windbreaker), and still pack into a tiny pouch. Or maybe it’s the kinda retro, contrast piping along the zipper. Or maybe it’s just the fact that the damn things only cost $45 here at Huckberry (regularly $55). Whatever it is, I want one. A decent selection colors to pick from, but my favorites are the hunter green shown above, or this bright blue.

Before we sign off, just a few other things I’m excited about:

The Uniqlo Fall Line - Can’t wait for them to get full-swing into fall gear, especially as I finally live in a city that has B&M’s a-plenty. I’m already pumped about their Pure Blue Japan collection for men, plus I was taking a look at their takes on some classic fall menswear via the new Ines De La Fressange collab for women, and I’m hoping to see some similar stuff hit the men’s side too.

Frank & Oak Fall Collections - I’ve had my ups and downs with F&O, but I honestly couldn’t be happier with them as of late. I tend to like their fall styles much more than their spring/summer offerings, so I’m pumped to see the sweaters, cords, wool blazers, etc. start to roll out. Don’t forget, if you’re new to Hunt Club, our referral link will get you $25 credit when you sign up.

Weekend Casual - Still pretty psyched about the review of Weekend Casual that we did on Wednesday. If you haven’t had the chance, swing over and give it a read. And don’t forget, they offered Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets readers an exclusive 25% off with code WCWETW.

So that’s all, get to shopping!!

September 10, 2014
Weekend Casual - Brand Spotlight & Review

It was crazy, right around when we decided to move to New York, I got flooded with review and collaboration requests. In the interests of keeping my sanity together (and making it back to the East Coast mentally and physically intact), I put a bunch of things on hold. Now that I’m settled in and waiting for my full-time job to kickstart, I finally have time to get back to these! First on the list is a new accessories brand, Weekend Casual, who were kind enough to send me some samples as an introduction to their products. 

Brand Background:

As is tradition here on Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets, I’ll kick things off by letting the brand say a bit about themselves. This isn’t me being lazy, I swear! I just feel they can do a better job telling their story than I can. Kunal Parikh, the founder, had this to say:

"Our main idea is that you don’t need to spend a million bucks to look like a million bucks - we want people to be able to utilize what they already own and change up their look by adding accents to their look. And at our prices, you can afford to keep changing your look and staying up to date with the latest styles and trends on a regular basis.”

The 'About Us' section on their site goes into a bit more detail:

Our goal at WC is to deliver to our customers a simple, attractive and streamlined outlet for men to keep their style updated and on trend, with collection of ever-changing accessories. Every WC customer can trust in the knowledge that our design house creates and manufactures our quality men’s accessories in the finest facilities shared by such designers as Ted BakerJ Crew and more. We’re here to bring you the most engaging and efficient shopping experience. High quality at affordable prices is all part of the program. Keeping it real is what we do best.”

Head over to their site to learn more.

The Selection:

So what do they offer? At this point, it’s a pretty solid selection of all things menswear accessories. The focus is on ties, but from there they branch out into bow-ties, pocket squares, cufflinks, tie clips and pins, suspenders and socks. The selections themselves range from classic and conservative to modern and fun.

Classic and conservative…or modern and fun. Your choice.

In particular, they seem to really have a knack for the floral trend, but it will be interesting to see if this gets played down as we enter fall and winter (and what might replace it).

Floral, floral, and more floral!

I’m also personally a huge fan of their equal emphasis on knit ties - sometimes these companies with more selective offerings skip over knits, which are my absolute favorites, so it’s great to see them getting their due!

Ties, bow-ties, cufflinks, and suspenders clock in at $19 a piece, only nominally more than at The Tie Bar, while tie clips are actually cheaper at just $9.  Pre-tied bow-ties are knocked down to $17, pocket squares are $12, lapel pins are $9, and socks are $8. Big apologies if I got any of those mixed up!

What They Sent Me:

To introduce me to their duds, founder Kunal was kind enough to send me a variety of neck ties and pocket squares. I received four ties and two pocket squares:

The ties were the highlight, in my mind. My favorite was this 100% wool tie in blue and grey stripes. It’s incredibly versatile - even in a wool fabric, the texture is loose enough to be appropriate well into the warmer months:

Styled by yours truly. Check out that perfect dimple.

The blue and grey color scheme fits my blue-centric wardrobe perfectly, and the wide stripes are business appropriate, but preppy and bold enough to avoid being relegated to solely office-wear. I’m not seeing this exact one on their site at the moment, but it’s very similar to these other striped options (here and here), which are woven from a wool/silk blend (one of my favorite tie fabrics), and bound to be winners as well.

My second favorite was, predictably, their ‘Modern Black’ knit. Most of my knits now are from The Tie Bar - in comparison, this knit from Weekend Casual was a bit looser-woven and just a tad wider, which I enjoyed - slightly less hipster, but still slim enough for my own slimness:

Again, styled by yours truly. A solid knot, especially for a knit tie.

I also love that they went beyond the solid, flat black and added an almost heathered effect - it just punches up the visual depth enough to keep a classic from getting boring.

Now, I haven’t had a chance to wear much of the rest yet, but I’m looking forward to it. The khaki tweed tie is just a bit too hefty to rock until the temps dip a bit more, but once they do, I think it will be the perfect fall/winter fabric. It’s got a definite vintage-y feel to it, and I see it adding some perfect contrast to a spread-collar denim shirt: 

Already loving the color contrast and the fabric pairing.

The other three samples (light blue floral tie, and blue and red floral pocket squares), do well to showcase the brands penchant for floral patterns. Unfortunately, the tie is 100% polyester (more on that below), but the pattern is subtle, and I could see myself pulling this out for a slightly-dressier brunch, along with a lightweight white shirt and a blue cotton suit: 

All set for the next sunny brunch.

As for the squares, I love the patterns - but just haven’t had the right dressed-down-but-suited occasion to wear them since they came in the mail. I especially dig that, while the patterns are bold, the color scheme is limited to one color (and white), which makes them so much easier to style, and less likely to come off as too dandyish.

What’s To Like:

First off, the quality of the ties is pretty impressive considering the uber-affordable price point. Construction seems on par with The Tie Bar, with neat, clean stitching, properly attached keeper loops, and a consistent shape. The fabrics themselves (besides the poly) seem, if anything, to be a step above The Tie Bar - these things just knot and drape perfectly, with just the right amount of heft. Sidebar - I hate when wool ties are too thick, leaving a knot the size of an apple, or knit ties are too thin, leaving a weak shoestring knot. These hit the balance just right. The wool and tweed are toothy without being rough, which I guess isn’t so much of a comfort issue, but still something you can notice just by looking. Well done, all around.

Also, something that struck me when talking with Kunal before receiving the samples was our discussion of their selection in comparison to The Tie Bar (probably the closest brand in terms of price and quality). Kunal said, “Rather than be a warehouse of accessories, we like to curate our collections and make our products with limited quantities so that we can continually rotate in new styles,” a mindset that I think makes a huge difference. As opposed to the Tie Bar, which can be great if you know what you are looking for, but can be a nightmare if you just want to browse for something nice. For example, in skinny silk ties alone, there are 38 pages of results to browse. There are plenty of stylish options, but they are mixed in with some, well, not-so-stylish options. Weekend Casual takes some of the legwork out of it, offering instead a more curated collection of options that is much easier to navigate. They might not have everything, but what they do have is solid and well-chosen.

Of course, I’d be horribly remiss if I didn’t point out their Essential Cause program. Real quick, I’ll let Kunal chime in one more time:

“A lot of companies do the whole Toms “one for one” kind of thing or donate to charity. We do this a little different than most, currently we have 2 causes we work with, we’ll have 4 shortly - but we give our customers the option of choosing which cause suits them better, and let them choose where they want a portion of their sales to go.”

So yeah, not only does Weekend Casual embody the entrepreneurial responsibility that we value so much in our favorite brands by giving back, but they actually let you, the customer, help decide where the proceeds from your purchase are being donated. It might not be a mind-blowing feature, but I think it really goes to show where Weekend Casual’s values lie: with their community, and with you as an individual, rather than just as a consumer.

What’s Not To Like:

Polyester! Ugh, honestly one of my favorite things about The Tie Bar is that, even at their price points, they offer only 100% natural fibers - wool, cotton, silk and linen. Weekend Casual has plenty of natural-fiber options as well, but peppered into the mix are some 100% polyester ties. I guess it’s not the end of the world, but I just prefer to avoid polyester ties - and if they can offer natural fibers at their standard price, I’d say just drop the poly! Minor beef.

One more minor beef is that both of the pocket-squares I received were one sided, meaning there is a distinct front and back to the square, with only the front really being desirable to have visible. The way I fold my squares, both sides show, making double-sided squares much more desirable. Again, just a minor beef, as all it takes is a slightly different fold.

My last ‘dislike’ has to do with the site, and web design for new brands tends to see improvements quickly and early, so I’m not too worried. It would be nice in the future to be able to filter selections more, be it by color, pattern, or fabric. However, the fact alone that Weekend Casual intentionally offers a more limited selection makes this distinction almost negligible.

In Conclusion:

I think Weekend Casual makes a fantastic alternative to The Tie Bar - and even better, I don’t really see one eliminating the need for the other (or having both be overkill). The Tie Bar comes in handy when you know exactly what you want and are willing to pick through a lot of similar options to find it. Weekend Casual comes through when you are ready for something new, don’t have anything super specific in mind, and want to browse a well-put-together collection. The price is hard to beat, and the style is spot on.

BONUS: For all of you Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets readers out there, Weekend Casual was awesome enough to provide us with a discount code, ‘WCWETW’ for 25% off your order!

September 8, 2014
Casual Trends I’ve Had My Eye On (And Frugal Picks to Try Them Out)

I had a really interesting conversation with a friend the other day. We talked about how tailored, business, formal, or basically any ‘suited’ style can actually be easier than dressing casually - at least for a guy who wants to put some effort into dressing well anyway. Why’s that?

When you put on a suit, or even a blazer with a shirt and tie, you are automatically presented with a set of garments and accessories, and forced to match them appropriately. Every time, you’ll have you shirt, slacks and jacket, and then your tie and pocket square. It does take effort, it does take savvy to do it right, but the blueprint is there for you already.

When you dress casually, however, there is a lot more room to maneuver, which actually presents some more complicated issues. On one hand, it’s easy to just resort to jeans and a tee - and not be wrong. The right jeans and tee combo can look even better than the most ‘sprezzy' tailored fit. However, when you try to go above the basics, that blueprint you had with your tailored clothes, just isn't there. What's your first step? A graphic tee? Some mirrored shades? Stacked bracelets? When do you stop?

Anyway, the point of the issue is, it actually has taken me a lot longer to delve into stylish casual clothing than it did to dive into sharp, preppy tailored pieces. Now that I have the confidence in my style tastes and judgment to do so, I’m enjoying the hell out of it. Hopefully I’ll have some interesting looks to share soon. Meanwhile, here are some casual trends I’ve really been hooked on, as well as picks so you can snag em yourself without breaking the bank:

Lightweight Bombers: Never really were out of style, but they really seem to be all the rage these days. They can sometimes be pretty damn pricey, but at the same time, it’ becoming easier and easier to find affordable options that have some of the same details and styling as high end, luxury goods.

Men’s Lightweight Bomber | Old Navy - $45 ($42 at time of posting)

The Lightweight Bomber | Everlane - $68

Chambray Bomber | J.Crew Factory - $118 ($60 at time of posting)


Jogger Pants: Chinos meet streetwear with these cuffed trousers. Maybe hard to pull off in anything close to a tailored or business casual occasion, but they add some edge (without losing the class) to a more casual, off-duty look. And you know what? I could see them with a more relaxed blazer, too.

Twill Jogger Pants | Gap - $50

Jogger Pant in Campus Khaki | American Eagle Outfitters - $40

Regular Cuffed Chinos | ASOS - $47.61

Classic Jogger Pant | Publish via Urban Outfitters - $84

Chore Coats: This classic workwear piece has seen a surge in popularity, probably in large part due to the popularity of visvim and other high end Japanese denim brands that pull from classic Americana styles. Another one that’s often very expensive, Uniqlo is finally offering a pretty stylish and darn affordable piece.

Denim Work Jacket | Pure Blue x Uniqlo - $80


Land’s End also has this one, which I just wish was denim rather than terry: 

French Terry Chore Coat | Land’s End Canvas - $128 ($40 at time of posting)


Bold Printed Shirts: Another trend that has admittedly been around for a while now. To be honest, I thought most of the earlier, affordable iterations were just, kinda, poorly designed. Something about them just made it instantly clear that they were not the designer pieces that they were supposed to resemble. These days, however, there are a bunch of budget-friendly brands really doing it right.

Geometric Print Shirt | Frank & Oak - $55 ($25 credit with our referral link

Short-Sleeve Popover in Reverse-Printed Floral | J.Crew - $80 ($50 at time of posting)

Clear-frame (or translucent) Sunglasses: I keep seeing these pop up and love them, but the first pair I really drooled over was a crazy expensive pair by Garrett Leight. I’ve since found them on sale a few times, but never in my price range. Searching for cheaper options has largely been a bust, but recently I found a few that I really dig (for the record, I ended up settling on the American Optical pair via eBay, and love them, although the ‘smoke grey’ frames are a bit darker than I’d ideally like).

Clubmaster Sunglasses with Clear Finish | ASOS - $23 ($15 at time of posting)



Safety Glasses | American Optical via eBay (~$35) or Independence ($70)

Black Waxed/Coated Jeans: This is maaaybe the first mark NYC is making on my style - the edgier, kinda rocker look is much bigger here than in Chicago. Also, not working at a law firm any more is giving me the opportunity to explore my casual tastes more, and has me interested in trying moves along these lines. Just avoid anything too shiny, or it’ll look like leather…tooo rock and roll, man. Those H&M numbers might be pushing it, gotta check em out in person.

1969 Slim Fit Jeans (Coated Black Pigment Wash) | Gap - $80

Waxed Jeans | H&M - $50

OK, I’ll leave it at that, but this is one where I’d really love to hear your input - both as to the original discussion at the beginning of the article, as well as any casual trends you have your eye on. Share in the comments section on the main site!

September 4, 2014
Deals And Steals for the Weekend - We’re Back!!

Holy cow folks, it feels like forever since I’ve posted - and it kinda has been! And I apologize for the lack of action over the past few days (and the slow movement over the few weeks before that) - as I mentioned the other day, I’ve been hard at work orchestrating a transition from the great city of Chicago to the great(er? - not to ruffle anyone’s feathers…) city of New York! But now I’m here, I have Wi-Fi (and air conditioning, not sure which is more important right now), so it’s time to get back on track. 

I’ll definitely be working on some NYC-specific things soon (especially as I might have the chance to hit up some NYFW events over the next week), and also have some great brand showcases/reviews on the way, but for now, I’m diving back into our regular schedule with an all-new Deals and Steals:

"Every weekend, check in on the blog for a collection of the best (read: my favorite) deals and steals on the interweb for some quality shopping over the weekend. Have any to add? Share them in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. Also, if you’re biting on any of these hooks, I’d love to hear about it!"

Even though it’s like, 90 degrees in NYC, I’m getting pumped for fall, so this week we’re highlighting some great cool-weather options as we start looking forward to those lower temps. And we’re off:

Men’s Knitwear Sale from Woolovers:

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite things about winter layering is sweaters - lambswool, merino, and cashmere…cable knits, fair isle prints, and chunky cardigans. You name it, I’ll wear it. Unfortunately, most of these are damn hard to find at a price that won’t break your budget. Enter Woolovers - a brand hyped up a lot on menswear forums that I’m excited to try this season. Specializing specifically in knitwear, they offer a ton of great styles at ridiculously affordable prices. Even better, right now they have a sale going on with even lower discounts. For example, this Nordic Fair Isle is clocking in at just $44 (and is regularly only $52):

Nordic Fair Isle Sweater | Woolovers

I love the colors, the heavier weight, and of course the classic (but not too funky) pattern.

Likewise, they’ve got your Aran sweaters covered as well (and those tend to be even more expensive at other retailers):

Aran Sweater | Woolovers

This one clocks in at just $44 as well. Reviews for these things ain’t bad - apparently the wool is of decently good quality (especially for the price), and honestly I think the biggest risk is ending up with something a bit boxy or large. I’ve seen some folks recommend sizing down, and I think that will be my strategy. Regardless, these chunky sweaters shouldn’t be super slim to begin with, so I’m definitely going to bite on a few in time for the fall/winter season.

Todd Snyder x Champion via HauteLook:

Coming at you from the Nordstrom-partnered (owned?) flash sale site (yep, gonna have to fork over your e-mail address for access to this one), HauteLook is offering up the incredibly-comfortable looking Todd Snyder x Champion collab at hugely discounted prices. I’ve had my eye on these crewneck sweatshirts since the collaboration came out last year, and here they are at finally affordable prices. There is a variety of colors, but my favorite is this one in grey:

Pocket Sweatshirt | Todd Snyder x Champion via HauteLook

The light color will contrast great with a pair of dark blue jeans, and the details like the chest pocket, raglan sleeves and contrasting trim set the sweatshirt apart from your garden variety options - all for just $60 (regularly $130). 

If you’re looking for a bit more style, check out this shawl-collar ‘popover’ sweatshirt they have as well:

Shawl Popover | Todd Snyder x Champion via HauteLook

I’m a big fan of shawl collars, but most of mine are on slightly-more-formal knitwear (sweaters, cardigans, etc.). That said, I’m digging this dressed down version, and the shawl is bound to keep you just a bit warmer when it (eventually) gets chilly. Normally a whopping $195, you can snag this one for just $80.

Check out the rest of the collection for more cozy sweatshirts, sweatpants, and some nice (but still pricey) varsity jackets. Also, I believe our referral link will get both of us $20 credit.

Imogene + Willie via Huckberry:

Now, I know that even at these discounted prices, these jeans are pretty damn pricey BUT, ever since I saw them featured on the Esquire Network’s Alternate Route, I’ve wanted a pair, and this is one of the few times that I’ve seen their Barton line (my favorite) on sale. I could talk em up myself, but just watch the episode (linked above) and you’ll see why I dig the brand. Huckberry is offering them in both slim and slim-straight, both for $220, down from $250:

Barton Slim | Imogene + Willie via Huckberry

Barton Slim-Straight | Imogene + Willie via Huckberry

Bonus: they have some gals options as well, which I wasn’t aware of, in case your special lady needs a pair too. Check em out at the bottom of the page.

Uniqlo Selvedge Denim Promotion:

Of course, if $220 is too steep for a pair of jeans on your budget (as it is mine), Uniqlo has you covered. Even at the standard $50 price point, their selvedge is damn affordable, and has pretty good reviews as well. Now, you can grab a pair for only $40 as part of their weekly promotions, which is about as cheap as selvedge denim gets. Check them out in dark blue navy

Slim-Straight Navy Selvedge Jeans | Uniqlo

…or a lighter faded blue (but not dad-jeans territory)…

Slim-Straight Blue Selvedge Jeans | Uniqlo

Bonus: Pick these up in-store for free hemming (one of the many reasons I’m excited to live in NYC, even though Chicago is supposedly getting a location next year).

And with that, I best be getting back to unpacking, before my lovely girlfriend comes home and sees how unproductive I’ve been today (eesh)!

August 25, 2014
A Big Update (And A Sharp Product Shout-Out)

Well, I had fully planned on having a brand spankin’ new outfit post published today, but the weather has not been cooperating with my shooting schedule. After a day of rain, we had to put a pin in this one, so I’m just going to share some excited WETW news instead!

You may have seen me mention pretty frequently over the past few weeks all of the traveling I’ve been doing, along with some teases of ‘big changes to come.’ This week, all that traveling is going to finally play out into those big changes:

Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets is moving to New York!

Thus far, this blog has been a side project as I pursue a career transition from Legal Support (which has been…um…boring…) into a full-time career in the men’s apparel industry. Earlier this month, I had some awesome opportunities come up that really hammered home the notion that Chicago isn’t the place to jumpstart a fashion-centered career. I love the city to death, but in order to be more ‘in the middle of it all’ we are finally uprooting ourselves and making the move back East.

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Farewell, Chicago!!

I’m incredibly excited - not just to be closer to family and friends and my old stomping grounds (born and raised in central PA), but even more so to be in the midst of the NYC fashion scene and on deck for some great career moves. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Big Apple, but have yet to really get a chance to explore all it offers to the menswear world.

Anyway, two points to close with: First, is that (as with all moves), we are so busy and so stressed getting all our cards in place, so please forgive any irregularity in posting, etc., as we get settled into our new digs!

Second, I know a bunch of you readers, bloggers, industry pros, ‘influencers,’ and on and on are also NYC folks - if anyone has tips for moving, ‘must-see’ events and shops, meetups, interest in meetups, exciting opportunities, heck, just something to chat about, hit me up!

And just to keep things menswear related - how about this awesome new Sullivan line from Jack Erwin? 

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Up until now, all their kicks (I believe) have been Blake welted, which is a bit sleeker but not as easy to resole and less waterproof. This new collection is all Goodyear welted (GYW), which is the opposite (a bit chunkier/more solid, and waterproof), and is my preferred welt (so, score for me)! 

Previously, brands like Beckett Simonon and JUSTAMENSHOE offered some other affordable GYW shoes, but got very mixed reviews when it came to construction and leather quality. I’m pumped to get the GYW and the quality/style that Jack Erwin is known for, all in one package (and a ~$200 package, at that), and I definitely have my eye on a pair for this fall. 

My only debate now, is do I grab some longwing bluchers, which I’ll be able to wear pretty much year-round…

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The Hubert Longwing Blucher | Jack Erwin 

…or do I finally pick up that pair of dress boots that I’ve been dying to own? 

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Carter Wingtip Combat Boots | Jack Erwin

 

Any thoughts or suggestions? Share in the comments over on the main site!

August 21, 2014
Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 8/22/2014

Man, it feels like it’s been forever since we had a proper Deals and Steals post up! Been so. Damn. Busy. It’s exhausting, but big moves in the works - I’ll keep y’all posted! Meanwhile, here we go:

"Every weekend, check in on the blog for a collection of the best (read: my favorite) deals and steals on the interweb for some quality shopping over the weekend. Have any to add? Share them in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. Also, if you’re biting on any of these hooks, I’d love to hear about it!" 

This week, I honestly couldn’t find that many sales - not sure if maybe brands are holding back in preparation to release some big Labor Day sales next weekend, but pickin’s were a tad slim. However, what I did find is pretty damn good:

 

Extra 40% Off Final Sale Items at Bonobos (code BONVOYAGE):

Right off the bat, this is a crazy good sale, so we’re going to keep our focus here for more than the standard two (or so) picks. Granted, the ‘final sale’ aspect is a bit of a bummer, especially since I love the Bonobos return policy so much. That said, if you know your sizes and your tastes, you can get some awesome deals. First pick in my book is some all-white seersucker: 

Sea Island Seersucker Shirt | Bonobos

I’m all for the traditional blue and white striped seersucker, but getting a solid, crisp white seersucker shirt has an extra sharp edge to it, and will dress up much nicer. Also available in a navy blue (or that aforementioned standard stripe), all three styles are running just $28.80 after the discount (regularly $88). Dayum. 

 

Since it can be hard to stay sharp and tailored in the heat, here’s another hot-weather pick that will easily take the place of your sharpest dress shirt:

Irish Linen Shirt | Bonobos

Linen can be tough to find in slim-fits, or in a tie-worthy spread collar, so this is a double-bonus in my book. A bit more expensive than the seersucker, but still very affordable at just around $41 (regularly $98). 

 

Sticking with summer picks, check out this Tee in a bright and sunny multi-color stripe:

Yarn Spun Tee | Bonobos

 

I picked up a few Bonobos Tees in another recent sale and was pretty impressed. Lightweight enough to be cool, but solid enough to feel well-constructed, and cut in a nice, flattering (but not tight) fit, and marked down from $38 to $15.

 

Moving on to pants (which is really what Bonobos is known for, after all), I had to throw in these olive chinos:

Palmetto Washed Chinos | Bonobos

At a discounted price of just $40.80 (from $88), there are actually some cheaper chinos to be found. However, most of those are brighter, less versatile colors, and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard looking for some nice olive chinos. It’s the perfect color, easily bridging both summer and fall styles. These also might be the first pants I’ve seen in the sale section cut in the ‘Slim Tailored’ fit (as opposed to ‘Slim Straight’), which I hear is pretty close to J.Crew’s 484 (and very flattering, as well). 

 

Ok, ok, I’ll wrap it up with one more pick. Last on my list is a pair of Oxley’s - quite possibly the most comfortable pants in the (affordable) world:

Oxleys | Bonobos

I have a pair in light blue that I love, but for my second-go-around I’d probably pick up some in white. The lightweight oxford-cloth fabric is inherently limited to warm-weather wear anyway, and I’ve recently gotten hooked on white trousers. If you prefer a different color, they have a pretty wide selection, all marked down from $98 to a mere $35.

 

Alright, check out the rest of the sale section, and if you plan to spend more than $75, use our referral link to score an extra $25 off.

 

 

Extra 20% Off Final Sale Items at York Street by J.Press (code ENJOYSUMMER):

Looks like an end of summer sale? Something along those lines. Anyway, a lot of already heavily discounted duds getting marked down even more. Normally, I love J.Press (and York Street) for their classically preppy attire, but the standouts to me this time are some decidedly vintage-y pieces. First up is this ‘boating’ henley:

Henley Boating Tee | York Street

I love the rounded edges on the collar, the sharp contrast with the blue piping - something about it is just dying to be worn to a baseball game, or a rooftop brunch. Plus, while a lot of York Street tees can be overpriced in my eyes (look at that $95 original price-tag), the discount leaves this one at a more reasonable $38.

 

Second, is this funky floral polo shirt that screams 70’s summer to me:

Match Point Printed Polo | York Street

Funky might even be putting it mildly, but my eye keeps coming back to it! Pair it with some more neutral, solid bottoms (maybe even those white Oxleys above), and you’ve got a distinct and unique summer look - and at a tasty $25 (originally $125). 

 

 

Levi’s Commuter Series On Sale at The Clymb:

I’m a huge fan of alternate forms of transportation (think green), especially biking, so I’ve always had my eye on Levi’s commuter line - specifically designed with the biker in mind. Normally, items from the collection are pretty expensive, but via the outdoorsy flash-sale site, The Clymb, there’s a lot that’s well within my price range (and if you use our referral, you’ll get an extra $10 off). Fans of the Levi’s 511 fit should check out these green pants, marked down to $45 from $88:

Commuter Series 511 | Levi’s via The Clymb

While it looks like they are cut from a chino fabric, the five-pocket styling is going to force these into a bit more casual territory, but that’s ok - how often do you bike to a formal event? I love the green color, which will transition well from summer to fall.

 

Speaking of fall, it’s time to start getting excited for layering and light outerwear, like this hooded trucker in olive:

Commuter Series Hooded Trucker | Levi’s via The Clymb

Olive is such a versatile color, and looks great paired with dark blue denim. Again, the details are designed for the cyclist, with a longer tail to keep you dry while you’re leaned over your handlebars, and reflective tape built in to make you more visible at night. Regularly almost $150, these are running just $70 (and also available in black).

And that’s a wrap for today! Any of you find any other good deals around the web? Share in the comments on the main site!

August 19, 2014
'Know Your Fabrics' - Worsted Wool

I’m getting back into the swing of regular posts after some hectic weekends/weeks of traveling, so I thought I’d start things off by putting up a new ‘Know Your Fabrics’ post. This time around, we’re taking a look at worsted wool:

Worsted actually refers to a type of yarn, and the name itself (like so many other textile terms) comes from a town in the UK (England, specifically), Worstead, which was one of the first manufacturing centers of the yarn.

Woollen yarn (yep, that’s the term), in contrast to worsted wool, is made from uneven fibers (both long and short), left with their natural crimps, which results in a light and airy yarn that is a great insulator, and is therefore well-suited to knit garments like sweaters and scarfs.

On the other hand, worsted wool uses only long fibers, with the smaller fibers being removed through a variety of processes that make the production of worsted yarn much more complicated and time-consuming that woollen. These long fibers are not carded, like with woollen yarn, but instead combed with long-tooth metal combs until the fibers are running in parallel, after which it is oiled and spun, resulting in a stronger, straighter, and sleeker yarn.

The combination of the less ‘fluffy’ hand-feel and much more involved and expensive manufacturing process, worsted yarns are almost never used for knitwear. Instead, they are most often woven into a shiny and resilient fabric that has become a staple in suiting, but can also be found in carpeting and hosiery, among other less common goods.

Worsted suiting fabric.

In suiting, worsted wool is desirable not only for it’s slight sheen, which creates a more formal or dressy look than non-worsted wools like tweed or flannel, but also for it’s tendency to be less wrinkle-prone, as the slightly stiffer fibers bounce back to their straight form relatively easily. Additionally, the coarser yarn can be woven much more loosely, which is advantageous for tropical-weight fabrics as it results in much greater breathability.

It’s always a goal to end these posts with some recommended products. That said, since worsted wool is used almost exclusively (in menswear at least), for suiting, our picks this time around are a bit limited. That said, we did manage to throw in some variety when it comes to price and seasonality.

First up is this summer suit, made from that looser-woven worsted wool that we mentioned:

"Lotus" Lightweight Worsted Wool Suit | Barneys New York

Tropical-weight wool is actually kind of hard to find outside of bespoke suit-makers (this pick from Barney’s is one of the few ready-to-wear options that we could dig up), and even when you do find that lightweight suit, chances are it’ll be a bit pricey - this pick is quite obviously out of most of our price ranges. Hence, a lot of fellas end up with cotton or linen fabric for their summer suits, even though lightweight worsted wool will actually keep you even cooler.

Next, we’ve got a few all-season worsted wool suits. Since they are fully lined, they won’t be quite breezy enough for the hottest weather. At the same time, they aren’t a heavy, insulating wool, making them relatively versatile.

On the more affordable end of the spectrum, J.Crew Factory offers their worsted Thompson Suit for just over $300 (but much less during their relatively frequent sales):

Thompson Suit Jacket in Worsted Wool | J.Crew Factory (pants here)

At a more middling price range, Suit Supply is a very solid choice. They do have much bolder prints, but we’ll stick with the staples and recommend this navy suit that clocks in at $469:

Blue Plain Havana Suit | SuitSupply

Now, if you want to go all sorts of baller, MR PORTER has this Richard James number, which runs a more significant $980, but is sure to make you the sharpest man in pretty much any room:

 

Prince of Wales Check Worsted-Wool Suit | Richard James via MR PORTER

I’m sure most of you who already own a suit will have something in worsted wool - any thoughts on the pros and cons? Share in the comments on the main site.

August 13, 2014
Word. Notebooks - An Endorsement

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Word. Notebooks, an offshoot of Cool Material, sent us an e-mail this week to promote their newest batch of notebook cover designs (pictured above). I’m a huge fan of Cool Material, and have even put together a ‘Wear This’ post for them a few months back. Even more-so, I am a Word. Notebook addict. Seriously, I can’t live without them. I forgot mine at home today, and I was undoubtedly an unproductive mess.

Anyway, since I love them so much, I wanted to take the opportunity to give an official, whole-hearted endorsement of the notebooks and their simple, but incredibly useful built in to-do list system. At first glance, it’s just your standard small notebook, but the inclusion of a bullet system provides a perfect visual reference that let’s you quickly assess everything you have on your plate. From their website:
"Simply fill in the bullet point when writing an item on that line. Trace the circle around it when it’s important and add a slash when you’ve started work on it. Once the task is complete, simply mark down an “X” and move on to the next item on your list."

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The handy ‘Use Guide’ included inside each book.

I've discussed the importance of setting yourself a list of goals, but always in the long term. However, as you work towards those bigger aspirations, you still need to keep your daily grind…well…grinding. Quickly. Effectively. Efficiently. 
Word. Notebooks help you do just that - small enough to fit into a pocked or tuck into a pouch in you bag or briefcase, these little books can follow you everywhere, and become the perfect constant reminder of what you have on deck, and a reference point for keeping yourself productive. 
Personally, I keep an ongoing, long-running list that never really ends. An alternative is to build a new list for each day, and don’t go to sleep until you see X’s the whole way down the page. Whatever your method, if you put these to good use, you’re sure to see both your productivity and reliability improve greatly, which can’t be bad!

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My current, well-worn notebook.

Pick up a 3-pack at the Cool Material Store or directly from the Word. Notebook website for just $10. They’ve also got a few other cool products, like thStandard Memorandum notebook (not currently available, but hopefully returning someday), and some classy leather notebook covers. All very cool…

August 11, 2014
Airport Style

Things have been pretty quiet on the blog, as I’ve been traveling a lot over the past week, and am working on some big (i.e. busy and stressful, but exciting) life changes (more on that later). Anyway, wanted to dive back into things, and while I was jet-setting over the weekend, I jotted some notes down on my advice for travel attire - more specifically, for what to wear to the airport. 

Sometimes, these decisions are dictated by the occasion - if you’re landing for a job interview, or a business meeting, and therefore by necessity have to travel in a suit. Other times, though, it’s completely up to you. Many people take this kind of opportunity to dress purely for comfort, but my recommendation is to really think through each item and go for the most practical and useful pick, and to aim for middle-of-the-road formality, as opposed to something uber-casual (or uber-formal) that will really limit your moves straight off the plane. Here are my thoughts:

Shoes:

My recommendation here is a nice pair of penny loafers, or boat shoes if you want to be a bit more casual. However, what it really comes down to is anything slip-on. It’s just one less thing to do while you’re in line at security. 

Socks:

Even though you’re wearing loafers (or boat shoes) don’t just go sockless. Walking around in your bare-feet on an airport floor? Disgusting, for you and for everyone else. Grab a nice pair of no-show socks and you’ll be all set. 

Belt:

Honestly, this probably won’t make a huge difference, but I tend to reach for a ribbon D-ring belt, as it adds just a little convenience - the belt itself is quick to get on or off, and (rather than stiffer leather), rolls up nice and small (I usually just stuff mine in my shoes).

Pants:

Lots of flexibility here - and speaking of which, pick a flexible fabric! Nothing wrong with traveling in jeans, but if you pick a pair with a little stretch, you’ll probably be much more comfortable on the plane. Really though, chinos, jeans, trousers, whatever you feel comfortable in, as long as it matches the formality of the rest of your ensemble. I do, however, recommend against wearing white or even light khaki. You never know when you’re going to hit turbulence right as your neighbor takes a sip of his red wine (I can speak from personal experience). 

Shirt:

I’ll often go with an OCBD or some other mildly casual button-front shirt, but my real go-to is a Uniqlo x Michael Bastian button-down polo. It’s sharp enough to wear with a blazer, but as comfortable as any Tee, and the pique fabric will hide the wrinkles and rumples(?) of travel much better than a crisper shirting fabric. 

Jacket:

It’s by no means necessary, but I highly recommend wearing a jacket to the airport. First, the airport, or the plane itself, will often have some heavy-duty A/C on blast, and it’s always easier to remove a layer if you’re warm than it is to dig an extra layer out of your carefully packed bags. Even more-so, a blazer (or even a more casual jacket) has the benefit of lots of pockets. I can usually skip fumbling with the little change-trays at security entirely, with all of my loose items in my blazer pockets. Streamlining, folks! I alternate between a more casual, unconstructed blazer, or a light bomber if I know I’m keeping it casual once I hop off the plane.

BONUS: It’s a pain to figure out how to pack a blazer without making it irreparably wrinkled and misshapen. Easiest solution? Just wear the damn thing.

To recap, a quick checklist:

  • No laces!
  • No white pants!
  • Lots of pockets!
  • No bare feet!
  • Avoid stiff and pressed!

And as usual, versatility is the name of the game!

Now, of course going through the airport in sweats and a tee is going to be the most comfortable and carefree, but I think the above outfit has some solid advantages. The biggest and most obvious is that you can step off the plane, and head right to the bar, to your friend’s place, out to dinner, pretty much anything but a formal or business occasion, without having to seriously freshen up and change outfits. 

Beyond that, I just prefer to have the more secure pockets that chinos or a blazer offer, rather than sweatpants and hoodie, where I constantly feel like my most valuable and important possessions and documents are going to fall out and disappear at any moment.

I want to end with one last note (even though this is getting loooong). Someone commented on our post on fest fashion, observing that a lot of aspects of all of these different suggested outfits are the same, or at least very similar. They weren’t wrong at all - in fact, I think it really demonstrates my assertion that versatility is king. Instead of picking up pieces that are only appropriate for air-travel (see some of those compression socks and ‘travel’ or ‘packable’ fabrics), or only appropriate for a music festival (band tees, crazy graphic patterns), stock your closet with things that will keep you sharp, comfortable, and collected for the widest variety of occasions. Once you have that foundation nailed, it’s far easier to branch out without blowing a budget or making big style mistakes. 

Alright, how do you all head to the skies? Share in the comments over on the main site!

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