July 25, 2014
Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 7/25/2014

Hot damn, when I first started writing this up I didn’t think I was going to have much to share, but after a little digging I have a ton of great finds for y’all. First, our usual little spiel:

"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!"

And here we go:

 

'Contemporary Collections' up to 90% off at Gilt:

First up, Gilt is running a bunch of non-brand-specific sales with pretty extreme discounts. Brands are wide-ranging, especially if you check out some of the other ‘collections.’ My method was to pick a sale, and then narrow it down by picking out the brands I knew I liked. Whatever your method, I recommend applying some filters, otherwise there’s just too much to see. Anyway, my favorites from this sale were mostly trousers from Gant (either Gant Rugger or Gant by Michael Bastian), like this pair in a very fine grey stripe:

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Striped Cotton-Wool Pant | Gant by Michael Bastian via Gilt

I’m loving the cotton-wool blend on these bad boys - the 62% cotton will keep them light and cool, plus make care a bit easier, while the 38% wool will help them stay wrinkle-free and up the dressiness of the pair. Originally pretty damn pricey at $375, Gilt has these knocked all the way down to $79. Also catching my eye were these chinos with patch pockets ($49) and this rugby shirt with button-cuffs ($49), both from Gant as well. Other brands I checked out included Brooks BrothersBen ShermanJ.Press and more. 

 

When it comes to shirts, though, Gilt has you covered in another umbrella sale:

Button-Ups Under $50 at Gilt:

Again, I filtered by brand to narrow things down. Of course, my favorite picks were the OCBD’s, with solid options from GrayersGitman, and Brooks Brothers, like this option in classic solid white from BB’s younger Red Fleece line:

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Solid Oxford Sport Shirt | Brooks Brothers Red Fleece via Gilt

Crisp, white, and slim-fitting - what more needs to be said? Oh, maybe that it’s marked down from $70 to just $45. Sold.

If you’re looking for something a bit brighter and bolder, Brooks Brothers has you covered there as well with a bunch of options in very seasonal, madras-esque colors. Of course, my favorites are the popovers, and I have my eye on this number, clocking in at just $35 (originally $70):

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Plaid Popover Sport Shirt | Brooks Brothers Red Fleece via Gilt

Like I said, very summery colors, and I’ve been hooked on popovers since picking one up from Frank & Oak a few months ago. Normally, pretty hard to find at affordable prices, so this is a steal worth checking out.

No-Show Socks from PACT:

Moving right along, the good folks at PACT have marked down a few sets of their no-show socks, which are my absolute favorites and must-have for a stylish, sockless summer. I think they’re affordable at full price ($15 for a three-pair set), but discounted to $9, they’re too good to pass up. The two sets available on sale:

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Campground Stripe No See Ums | PACTimage

Zig Zag Picnic Stripe No See Ums | PACT
Even if you aren’t a big fan of the colors/patterns, I still say check them out - the whole point, after all, is that you can’t see them, even in your low-cut loafers and boat shoes.

Up to 75% Off Online and In Stores at Gap:

As usual, my go-to at gap is the lived-in slim khaki, but I’ve hyped that enough so I picked out a few other options. First is a bit outside the box, but very on-trend with the latest reemergence of Hawaiian floral shirts. If you ask me, the trick to not looking like your weir uncle on vacation is to keep it to one color and avoid the huge, big-petaled, stereotypical Hawaiian flowers. This short sleeve shirt hits all the right notes - I even checked it out in-store the other day, and was pretty impressed:

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Botanical Print Shirt | Gap

The big risk with shirting at Gap is that it can be hard to find slim enough cuts, but this is listed as a tailored fit, plus the casual nature means you won’t be wearing it tucked in anyway, which gives you a little more leeway as well. Originally $45, you can pick this up for just $27. 

Next is a pair of skinny white jeans, which I actually just picked up a few weeks ago (see me in them on my Instagram here and here). Normally $70, this style is now just $46:

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1969 Skinny Fit Jeans | Gap

Now, I’ll admit, I’m not positive this was the cut I got, so it might be worth stopping into a store to see if you need slim, skinny, etc., but they have a few different fits on sale so you should be good to go regardless. I think the white denim looks perfect paired with a dark blue chambray shirt and boat shoes - kinda nautical, preppy, and summery.

Alright, last from Gap. I saw this field jacket pop up on From Squalor To Baller (one of my newer blog finds that I’ve been kinda hooked on):

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Fatigue Jacket | Gap

I’ve really been digging the military aesthetic lately, and the cut of this jacket is very classic M-65. At the same time, the navy color keeps it a bit out-of-the-ordinary, and for a guy like me who already rocks a ton of blue, will fit in very well with the rest of my wardrobe. At $70 (originally $98), it’s very reasonably priced as well. 

Alright, it’s getting late so I’m gonna wrap this puppy up. However, there’s still plenty of sales, so here’s a list of honorable mentions:

30% Off Bonobos Sale: Thank the folks at Dappered for this one, they managed to score an early code for Bonobos’ upcoming discount. Link directs you to Dappered.

40% Off Final Sale Items at J.Crew: Plus free shipping if you break $100. As we’ve mentioned, they keep freshening up the selection, so take another look.

50% Off at The Knottery: Haven’t tested this one out myself, and I’m not sure how long it lasts, but supposedly code BURFDAY will get you half-off of these affordable, stylish and well-made ties.

Hugh and Crye Summer Sale: Damn, some really nice prices here. I have yet to try these guys out, but I hear awesome things, and this sale might be a great chance for a first buy. The question is, shirt or blazer? Shirts start at $39, and blazers at $149.

FRIDAY ONLY - Twitter Day at H&M: Never heard of this before, but apparently if you show a cashier that you follow H&M on Twitter, they’ll give you 25% off. Not a big fan of H&M quality, but they have a lot of fashion-forward items and can be a cheap way to test out recent trends.

Picking up anything good this weekend? Share in the comments on the main site!

July 23, 2014
'Know Your Fabrics' - End-on-End

Still churning through our ‘Know Your Fabrics’ series, we’re back at it this week with a look at ‘End-on-End’, another very popular fabric used primarily in shirting.

End-on-end fabric (also called ‘fil-a-fil’ by the French - translates to ‘thread to thread’) is actually very similar to Poplin in that they are made using a one-to-one square weave, resulting in a nice smooth fabric. However, end-on-end gets a characteristic added visual depth by swapping out the horizontal threads with white, similar to the warp and weft threads in denim (although denim is produced in a twill weave).

The result is a shirt fabric that doesn’t appear as flat and even as a poplin or broadcloth, instead taking on a heathered, or even finely checked appearance up close. This adds some versatility as it makes the shirt easier to dress down (although still wholly acceptable as a formal dress shirt). These fabrics also tend to break in well over time, and can even achieve ‘fades’ like you see in denim as the white horizontal threads become more visible through the vertical colored threads.

The hand of the fabric remains very similar to poplin or broadcloth, as the close weave results in a lighter, smoother fabric, and thus it’s tendency to be used as a shirting fabric (rather than heavier fabrics that can be applied to trousers, outerwear, etc.).

End-on-end shirts are almost always woven with a single color (and the white threads), although sometimes textile producers will swap out the white threads for a second color, or will incorporate some stripes into the pattern (usually thin, white stripes).

Perhaps the most popular variation on end-on-end (at least in my wardrobe, and the modern menswear scene), is chambray, which differentiates from standard end-on-end only in the finishing process, which normally involves some type of ‘glazing’ or ‘calendaring’ to give it that characteristic hint of shine.

As we’ve mentioned, this fabric is almost exclusively used for shirting, although with the experimental nature of evolving fashion trends, I’m sure you can find it used in other applications somewhere. For now, though, we’re sticking to shirts, and have picked out a few of our favorites for anyone looking to add some end-on-end to their wardrobes:

First, about as classic as you get, here’s a solid number from Everlane. I’m a big fan of end-on-end shirts in these lighter, spring-timey colors like mint or this peachy red. I think the white threads help give a bit of a worn-and-washed look that keeps you out of ‘easter sunday’ outfit territory:

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Slim Fit End-On-End in Red | Everlane

J.Crew also has some great end-on-end shirts in solid colors, and many are currently significantly marked down. 

We also mentioned that end-on-end shirts often incorporate a fine stripe, like this one from Brooks Brothers:

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Blue End-on-End with White Stripe Sport Shirt | Brooks Brothers

You’ll find stripes in other colors, but we think just a subtle white one is the way to go:

While not as popular or widely available, you can occasionally find end-on-end shirts woven in other patterns as well, like this checked fabric available at Proper Cloth:

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Thomas Mason Pink End on End Check | Proper Cloth

Because of the versatility inherent to an end-on-end fabric, we think it’s a great choice for a #MTM shirt. Beyond the above, Proper Cloth currently has several other options in end-on-end fabric, in stripes, checks and solids.

Last, since we mentioned it’s very close relationship to plain old end-on-end, here’s one our recent favorites in chambray. It’s not cheap by any means, but this popover from J.Crew is high on my wish-list:

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Japanese Chambray Popover | J.Crew

Do you have any end-on-end fabrics in your wardrobe? Any favorite pieces? Share in the comments over on the main site!

July 21, 2014
Sale Spotlight - The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Nordstrom carries a lot of high end, crazy expensive items, but they can also be a great source of discount finds for the budget shopper - especially if you can hit up one of their three annual sales. Their Anniversary Sale launched on Friday (the morning after I wrote up the Deals and Steals for the week), and while it’s actually vaguely underwhelming, there are still a number of good deals to be had, so I rounded up a few of my picks:

Shoes:

Probably the best/most items are in the footwear category, and it’s one of the few opportunities to get a heavy discount on kicks from brands like Allen Edmond’s and Sperry’s. Speaking of, my first pick is the Allen Edmond’s Park Avenue cap-toe oxford, clocking in at $243 from an original price of $345.

Park Avenue Oxford | Allen Edmond’s via Nordstrom

Sure, not exactly cheap, but that’s over $100 off the MSRP, and the Park Ave is a fantastic go-to dress shoe. It’s easily formal enough to wear with a suit, but versatile enough to rock with some chinos, or maaaaybe jeans (although that’s a bit of a stretch). The styling is classic, the shape is a perfect balance of sleek and round, and the AE recrafting program allows one pair of these to last a lifetime.

My second choice is another pair of go-to Allen Edmond’s; the Strand (a wingtip brogue):

Strand Oxford | Allen Edmond’s via Nordstrom

With the slightly higher starting price, and just a hair cheaper of a sale price, these are a bit better of a deal, and kinda the perfect mate for the Park Avenue’s. The brogue details are great for those days where you want to break out of the box just a bit, while still remaining classy and work-appropriate (and these can be work with a nice pair of dark denim). Personally, I prefer these in the darker Bourbon color, but the Walnut is pretty highly coveted among the menswear crowds. It might be a bit less versatile, and is definitely a bit bolder, but as I mentioned, still wholly office friendly. 

Changing brands, and heading towards the casual side of footwear, you can pick up Eastland’s Stratton 1955 Penny Loafer for just $138 (originally $230):

Stratton 1955 Penny Loafer | Eastland Made in Maine via Nordstrom

Eastland falls in around the same range as G.H. Bass, Sperry’s and Sebago, but this particular pair comes from their higher-end, ‘Made in Maine’ line (and we love when companies manufacture in the USA). The black pair, pictured above, is a bit more casual with contrast stitching and sole, while the burgundy option is a little shinier and a little dressier. Either will perfectly round out a classic prep outfit of chinos, OCBD and blazer (one of my all-time favorite combos). The tag is a bit goofy, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t be too hard to remove, and then these are an undeniable winner.

Our last shoe recommendation is probably my favorite: Sperry Top-Sider Authentic Originals in classic brown for just $60 (regularly $90). 

Authentic Original Boat Shoe | Sperry Top-Sider via Nordstrom

I think I got my pair during the MR PORTER sale last year for around $50, but beyond that, this is easily the best price I’ve seen for what has become probably my most-worn pair of shoes (just browse through my Instagram if you doubt me). Wear them with no-show loafer socks and these things are unbelievably comfortable, and are a big step up from sneakers for a more adult casual summer look

Pants & Jeans:

After leaving the shoe section, the good deals are harder to find. We did manage to pick out a few pairs of pants, like these Dockers Alpha Chinos:

Alpha Fillmore Slim Fit Chinos | Dockers via Nordstrom

If you’re a regular reader, or follow me on Instagram, you know that Dockers Alphas make up a good chunk of my personal chino selection - due to a perfect slim fit, a durable fabric and construction, and an unusually reasonable price. That price gets even more reasonable here, knocked down from $68 to $40 (and remember, free shipping, as always from Nordstrom). There are four colors to chose from, all of which are definitely viable picks, but these dark blue (but not quite navy) are my favorites (I’ve got a pair in my shopping cart right now).

The other solid find from the pantaloons department are these jeans from Naked & Famous:

Weird Guy Slim Fit Raw Jeans | Naked & Famous via Nordstrom

Another pick that certainly isn’t cheap, but still a great deal, these are coming in at $103 (originally $155). I don’t believe they are selvedge, but they regardless promise to be a solid pair of raw denim (Naked & Famous is pretty widely regarded as a go-to entry brand for high end denim). I have to dip my toes in the waters of said high end denim, but when I do, I’m relatively certain it’ll be a pair of N&F, and I’ll be lucky to find a deal like this. 

Socks & Underwear:

Our last section of picks. First up is the Tommy John V-neck undershirt:

Cool Cotton V-Neck T-Shirt | Tommy John via Nordstrom

We did a whole write-up on picking the right undershirt for the job, and the Tommy John V-neck was a solid winner in my book. I was able to pick up the bargain (albeit slightly lower quality) version at a Nordstrom Rack, but this here is full-fledged top-notch version, regularly pretty expensive at $40 a pop, now much more reasonable at $26. Might still seem like a lot for an undershirt, but I think it’s worth it - slim fitting and thin enough to be invisible under a dress shirt, long enough to stay tucked in, and made from a soft and stretchy pima cotton blend.

And finally, while it might be hot as heck now, you know colder months are never far away, so don’t forget to consider some cozy steals like these SmartWool socks:

New Heathered Socks | SmartWool via Nordstrom

SmartWool is a lifesaver come winter (well, toe-saver at least), but can put a dent in your wallet at close to $20 a pair. These are knocked down to $13, and definitely worth stocking up on a few pairs while the sale is on. Check out the full SmartWool selection for other colors and styles, but I think the above pair in a solid navy are the most versatile.

And that’s it for today, folks. By all means, browse the rest of the sale, and keep an eye out for further markdowns and/or added items - while we didn’t see a whole lot else that excited us, you may find some hidden gems! Happy shopping.

As always, we’d love to hear about any steals you score in the comments section on the main site.

July 17, 2014
Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 7/18/2014

After a week off, I bet y’all are chomping at the bit for some awesome sales, right? Ha, well, regardless, here you go. First, the usual:

"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!"

And this week’s deals are…:

Extra 40% Off Final Sale Styles at J.Crew (code SALEFUN): 

Wow, so it really seems like J.Crew has had some sort of discount (from 30% to 50%) off of their sale items pretty regularly for, what, months now? Anyway, we’ll keep checking back in on them every so often, as they do change the selection pretty regularly. This week, we’re pretty enamored with the prices on some of their more summery Ludlow suits. For example, they have this sharp chino suit in olive (pants here), a nice break from your standard khaki:

Ludlow Suit in Italian Chino | J.Crew

Now, they do have this in khaki too, if the olive is outside your comfort zone. That said, I think the olive color is fantastic. It’s been highly touted across the menswear forums, blogs and magazines, and borrows colors from the military trend and applies them to sharp tailoring. These suits, like most Ludlows, are regularly too expensive for anything short of a planned investment, starting at $464, but with the discount off the sale prices, these will only set you back $255 (jacket and trousers together).

Another great option for these warmer months is this suit in a linen-cotton blend (pants here):

Ludlow Suit in Italian Linen-Cotton | J.Crew

The fabric, alongside a partial lining, is gonna make this bad boy a lifesaver if it ever gets swelteringly hot (surprisingly, Chicago has stayed pretty cool so far this summer). Only slightly more expensive than the chino suit above, these are running $264 (jacket and trousers together), and will be a sharp way to beat the heat.

As usual, we encourage you to peruse the rest of the sale, and keep your eyes open for days with free shipping, as J.Crew tends to pepper those in throughout the months.

Huckberry Sales - Bedford and Broome Accessories & Capital Eyewear Sunglasses:

Moving from suits to accessories, Huckberry has two really nice sales going on. The first is for neckwear and pocket squares from NYC-based Bedford and Broome. I actually first got turned onto these guys after seeing this picture on the Tie Society Instagram - it features some hella-sharp Everett ties, and it turns out that Everett is now Bedford and Broome. Anyway, I was excited to see them pop up here, and am really digging this red chambray tie

Crosby Necktie | Bedford and Broome via Huckberry

I’ve talked about chambray enough for you folks to know how much I love it as a summery fabric. I already have a blue-grey chambray tie, and have been looking to add a red one to the mix, so I just might have to pick this one up. The discount knocks these down $5, which isn’t a ton, but more than covers the shipping costs and leaves the ties running just under $30.

I’ve also been checking out the section from Capital Eyewear. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know by now that I’ve been on the hunt for some sharp sunglasses - specifically with clear frames, a trend I’ve been loving. Most of what I’ve found so far has been either not quite my style, or super expensive, and these are a fantastic middle ground:

Morgan Sunglasses | Capital Eyewear via Huckberry

Regularly $125, they are now just under $100 via Huckberry, which is much more affordable than the almost-$400 pair by Garrett Leight that I’ve been drooling over, but promises to be much more stylish and better quality than something I’ll find for $20 at Topman.

Up to 70% Off (or more?) Sale Items at Reiss:

Last on the sale list is this huge discount being offered by Reiss. I personally don’t have experience with the brand, but I’ve read a lot of good things about them. I’ve tended to be a bit turned off by their high shipping fees, but the prices on some of their high-end tailored suits and jackets are so ridiculously low right now that, even with those shipping costs included, you can’t call them anything but a steal. First, this grey wool jacket caught my eye, especially at just $95, from a regular price of $465:

Hastings Soft Grey Wool Blazer | Reiss

Now, that crazy low price is way more than a 70% price-drop, hence the ‘or more’ above. Anyway, what I really like about this option, beside the price, is that it’s only partially lined, which makes it much more versatile through the warmer spring and fall (and maybe even summer) months than most wool jackets. The color is versatile, the styling classic, what more could you want?

For something a bit more eye-catching, try this navy blazer with peak lapels in a cotton linen blend:

Silva Navy Peak Lapel Light Blazer | Reiss

Again, hugely discounted from an original price of $445 down to $140, you can’t argue that it’s a helluva deal. And again, it’s just partially lined - but this time around the fabric is a lightweight blend that makes it even more seasonal. On top of that, I really like the slightly lighter shade of navy, and the peak lapel details are right up my alley. 

Browse through the rest of the sale as well - Reiss has a lot of really nice products, usually too expensive, that are surprisingly affordable on the tail end of this sale (I especially like a lot of the knit products).

Alright, we’re gonna cut it off after those three, but there are a good deal of other sales going on that are definitely worth taking a look at, so we rounded up a little list of honorable mentions:

Extra 50% Off Clearance Items at J.Crew Factory (code EXTRA50): They’re calling this one the ‘Clear the Clearance’ sale - sizes are limited on a lot of things, but there are some crazy cheap products to be had in pretty much every category.

Extra 40% Off Sale Items at Levi’s (code EXTRA40SALE): If you’re like me and have Levi’s as your go-to for jeans, this is a fantastic chance to get some nice 511’s for just a little over $20. They’ve also got a nice selection of denim jackets as well as shirts, while I found the accessories section a bit disappointing (but I’ll let that slide, because $20ish jeans). 

Gant by Michael Bastian at Haute: One of my favorite, unaffordable designers, now at unusually affordable prices, thanks to a flash sale from the fellas at Haute. Personally, I’m especially digging some of the casual shirts, but it’s all pretty sharp.

Chambray and White Denim at Gilt: I usually stick to the brand-specific features at flash-sale sites, rather than general categories, but damn if chambray and white denim don’t look friggin awesome paired with each other. Lots of brands here, lots of good prices.

Aaand that’s it for today! Happy shopping, and enjoy your weekend.

July 16, 2014
'Know Your Patterns' - Paisley

For this week’s edition of 'Know Your Patterns,' we are taking a quick divergence from your more basic and fundamental menswear patterns to look at something a bit more unique, if not any less classic: Paisley.

 

Paisley is an especially interesting pattern due to it’s extensive history and widely varied application and use. Depending on where you’re reading, the pattern dates as far back as Babylon circa 2200 BC or as recently as Persian and Indian cultures in the 200’s AD. The pattern is defined by a characteristic twisted teardrop shape, the origin of which is widely speculated. Some think it to be a vague mixture of a floral pattern and the shape of a cypress leaf, while others link it more specifically to other natural shapes like a budding palm frond or a pine cone.

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Through the ages, the pattern spread, gaining popularity in Europe as it was traded en masse by the East India Company in the 1600’s, shortly after which it began to be produced locally in Marseilles, England, Holland, and other European countries.

 

In time, the town of Paisley, Scotland became a central producer and eventually the namesake of the design in Western cultures (more historically, the pattern was called Boteh Jegheh by the Persian cultures in which it originated).

 

Later, paisley was widely embraced by the hippie, ‘flower child’ culture that latched on to Indian and Middle Eastern aesthetics, especially following the Beatles famous pilgrimage to India in the late 1960’s.

 

Throughout it’s history, the paisley pattern has been applied to any number of goods, from fine woven textiles of silk embroidered with gold and silver threads, to printed twill, to ceramics and pottery, Persian rugs, even garden landscaping. Among the menswear circles, it’s most commonly found on neckties and pocket squares, although folks with bolder tastes will mix it into shirting, trousers, and sport coats as well.

 

To some, any mention of the pattern brings to mind these bright, psychedelic applications and are associated with other cheesy 70’s icons like shag carpet and bell-bottoms, although recently there has been some return to a more classic and subtle use of the pattern.

 

Still, even today, the pattern is designed in a wide variety of styles. My favorite tend to be the more minimalist applications, with just the characteristic ‘leaf’ on a plain background. Some of the busier designs can veer towards the garish side of style, and should probably be avoided, but you can find some ornate patterns that really recall the Persian  heritage behind the design and come off really sharply when used in moderation (as in, on a tie - not a full shirt or sport coat).

 

Below are a range of options to inject some paisley into your life:

 

First, we have the uber-budget option, turning (as usual) to the Tie Bar, which clocks in at just $15. First is an all-blue option that is subtle and an easy entry point that won’t be hard to style:
 

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Relic Paisley in Navy Cotton | The Tie Bar - $15

 

I’m also kind of into this brighter green fabric, which is a bit more untraditional, but very summery and season-appropriate.

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Tears of Paisley in Emerald Linen | The Tie Bar - $15

Slightly up the ladder, J. Press offers literally dozens of paisley ties in a wide variety of colors and scales. This one, in a simpler blue and yellow color scheme, is one of my favorites (and currently on sale, which is a bonus):

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Foulard Paisley in Navy | J. Press - $41.70 (on sale)

If you want to try out a more ornate pattern, ‘Ancient Madder’ ties are intricate but in darker, dustier colors and usually in a twill weave, as opposed to something in bright colors on a shiny satin fabric, which I think tends to look more tacky. This option from Brooks Brothers isn’t cheap, but isn’t wildly expensive and is a fine, classy example:

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Ancient Madder Large Paisley Print Tie in Navy | Brooks Brothers - $57.50 (on sale)

Of course, you can always go big and get a shirt or jacket with an all-over paisley print. In my opinion, this is much easier to do with casual gear, where bold prints won’t veer out of appropriate business-casual attire (or other more structured situations). This short-sleeve, lightweight shirt from Denim & Supply might be a good place to start (and at under $50, not a big financial risk).
 

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Paisley Woven Shirt | Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren - $50 (on sale)

Do you have any paisley in your wardrobe? Getting funky with any big bold prints? Share in the comments on the main site!

July 14, 2014
When Testing Trends Works

The pieces we’ve done this spring on testing trends (and then putting that advice into action) really seemed to connect, so here’s one more follow up. The best part about trends, and giving yourself the chance to test them out, is that some of them really stick. So far, both of our other examples used the black/white contrasting minimalist look as our ‘trend’, and while I’ve enjoyed wearing it again a few times since then, I’m still not 100% sure if it’s me. However, there definitely are some moves that I’ve tested over the past year or so that have really landed for my personal style, and are now staples in my closet.

 

First and foremost is my broken-in, braided leather belt. This started out on a whim, as I’d seen it in a few looks I’d liked, but for some reason had grown up with an aversion to the style. Therefore, I wasn’t about to go spend a bunch of money (or even a reasonable, but significant, chunk of change) on a brand new belt from one of my favorite stores. In fact, I almost never bought one at all. 

 

Then one day, rummaging through the odds-and-ends at a local thrift shop, I came across one that was nicely worn in, but not beat-up, and in just the right length. Price check - $1.50 (or something in that neighborhood). Sold. I figured, hell, if I only wear this once, I can toss it in the trash, no harm done. 

Once I got it though, I couldn’t stop wearing it, and have gotten to the point where I wear it as often as possible. It’s the perfect shade of brown to match with anything except my black shoes, and is worn in enough to look casual while still dignified enough to wear with chinos and a blazer. 

 

Dressed up - dressed down.

True, I wouldn’t call the braided belt a ‘trend,’ per se, but it was still a move outside of my own box that I was hesitant to move forward with. This ‘test’ turned out even better than most, in that my ‘budget’ buy is (to this day) the perfect piece for me. Sure, now that I know I love it, I could go blow some stacks on a high end replicate, but I couldn’t be happier than I am with this super-cheap find.

Another one, and this one goes back even farther, is the knit tie. By now you know how much I love a good knit tie, but I wasn’t always that way. In fact, I really didn’t even know they existed (when I say way back here, I’m talking back to the day I first wore a tie to work). As I researched and browsed pictures and really started diving into reinventing and reinvigorating my personal style, something kept drawing me back to these slightly-casual, square-ended oddities. 

 

The only time I’d really seen one before was digging through my dad’s closet as a kid - and my dad doesn’t wear ties, so I thought it was, well, a tie for people who don’t wear ties (or didn’t know what they were doing - no offense dad, I don’t think I ever even saw you wear it)! But here it was, popping up again and again on fellas with timeless prep aesthetics, looking damn sharp in them. 

 

Classic prep style captured by Tommy Ton at Pitti Uomo.

Still, I wasn’t 100% sure, and wasn’t ready to really commit myself to the look. Instead, I went the uber cheap route, going below even the $15 options from the Tie Bar, and using one of my first selections from the Tie Society subscription to give one a try. Hell, I almost didn’t even return the thing, and now I wear them constantly. Sure, I have many more non-knit ties that I do knits, but I wear my knits far more often and far more regularly.

 

Dressy dots and casual solids.

Anyway, the point is (and sorry it took me 600+ words to get here), is that there is more than one benefit to our method of testing trends on the cheap - not only do you get to try out something you find interesting with taking out a second mortgage, but you open yourself up to new styles that otherwise you may have never given a chance, but are now a fundamental part of who you are and how you dress. We can’t grow without stepping outside of our boundaries, but it’s far safer to do so when you have a system to your exploration.

Do you have any ‘trend-testing’ success stories? Staples in your wardrobe that you’d have been shocked to see yourself wear five (ten, twenty) years ago? Share them in the comments over on the main site.

July 8, 2014
'Know Your Fabrics' - Broadcloth

On to another week of ‘Know Your Fabrics.’ OK, so we’re admittedly kind of cheating here by having a separate article on broadcloth versus poplin, which we covered a few weeks ago. Why is that? To be perfectly honest, they are basically the same cloth.

Both have a one-to-one square weave, both are used almost exclusively for shirting, in fact there really is only one marginal difference: where poplin shirts can, and often do, use threads of differing thickness for the warp vs. the weft, broadcloth uses exclusively one thread for both.

In other words, poplin shirts can be woven in a way that provides a slight (usually vertical) ribbing, allowing for some extra texture which can either add visual depth or even dress down a fabric. Broadcloth is by definition flat and smooth, which means it lends very well to more dressy shirts:

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Additionally, the popularity of broadcloth as a fabric for shirting means that you can find it in pretty much any style, color, or weight, and could potentially rock a 100% broadcloth shirt closet, summer to winter, and still inject a solid amount of variety.

Historically, broadcloth is probably one of the oldest textile weaves currently available. Like most fabrics, it was originally woven from wool, and was actually produced in larger-than-standard sheets. These sheets were then shrunk down through a washing process in order to reach the desired size, which resulted in a much tighter woven fabric, with fibers binding together for a felted hand-feel. 

To my understanding, woolen broadcloth is still produced to achieve this felted quality, which makes it durable and decently weather-resistant. You might hear this fabric referred to as ‘Melton Wool’ - and maybe we’ll do a separate article focusing on this subset in the future!

Meanwhile, we’ve picked a few options to try to highlight the range of broadcloth shirts on the market:

A classic, crisp white button-down is the go-to dress shirt for countless stylish men. This option from Club Monaco hits all the right notes, and is marked down by over 60% to just $50:

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Slim-Fit Broadcloth Shirt | Club Monaco

 

These shirts from Ralph Lauren have been brushed to achieve what the call a ‘sueded’ feel that could be great for fall and winter:

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Custom-Fit Sueded Broadcloth | Polo Ralph Lauren

Broadcloth’s characteristic smoothness makes it a popular fabric for printed designs, like this black-on-white pin-dot from Uniqlo:

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Broadcloth Printed Long Sleeve Shirt | Uniqlo

Sure, it’s a bit out of season to be finding heavy Melton wool garments, but that also means that the pieces you will find are likely to be nicely marked down, like this pea coat by Schott via Orvis for just $220:

Do you have broadcloth fabrics in your wardrobe? What are your favorite pieces? Chime in at the comments section over on the main site.

July 6, 2014
Three Things I Love (Including an Update from Proper Cloth)

Over the past month or two, I had three things I really love come together in such a way that I had to share here on the blog:

1) Reader Participation: As much as I love sharing my own menswear knowledge, I never let myself forget that I myself still have tons to learn. With that in mind, one of my favorite things about blogging is getting feedback from you folks, especially when you open my eyes to new information that helps me be a more stylish gent (and more informed blogger at that). Last month, following my review of Proper Cloth, AJ helpfully pointed out one ill-fitting aspect of my MTM shirt that I would never have noticed. Take a look at the following picture and see if you catch it:

To me, it seemed like a pretty perfect fit - but take a look at the armholes. As AJ was kind enough to inform me, the armholes on a proper-fitting shirt should drape vertically (or close to it). The way that the armholes on my shirt angle inwards is an indication that the yoke was cut too wide. Who knew?! Thanks AJ, from now on this will be one of my ‘checklist’ areas when evaluating fit.

Which brings me to the second thing I love:

2) Great Customer Service: After AJ pointed out the above flaw, I shot an e-mail to Proper Cloth. Honestly, since I hadn’t even noticed the issue, I would have been happy keeping the shirt as is, but I wanted to adjust my pattern for future orders - but Proper Cloth would have nothing to do with my lack of demand for perfection! Not only did they help walk me through the changes in the measurements that would correct the angle, but they promptly submitted an order for a re-make, no prodding from my end at all. Fan-freaking-tastic. In my opinion, as MTM options become more and more abundant, finding a brand that makes a good fit is far easier than finding a brand with a great product and customer service that sets them above the competition, and Proper Cloth rose to this challenge with great success.

And that brings me to the final item on my list:

3) A Perfectly Fitting OCBD: Just check out the difference in the shoulder and arm:

Perfect vertical arm-hole seam!

So I’ll close out with two pieces of encouragement (wow, all about numbered lists today, huh?): First, check out Proper Cloth. Second, chime in! Teach me something, share your style, or just say ‘Hi,’ I love to hear from you.

To reiterate, this article refers to a sponsored review, and the products reviewed were provided to me free of charge. The article, however, remains objective and unbiased and is published without prior editing or review by Proper Cloth. While I love to be given products to review, don’t worry, I will never endorse a product I wouldn’t wear myself. 

July 5, 2014
Deals and Steals for the Weekend - 7/5/2014

How was everyone’s 4th of July? I hope it was filled with good friends, good food, good drinks, and great fireworks (as mine was). I also hope you’ll forgive me for celebrating instead of blogging, and therefore being a day late on this round of Deals and Steals. Regardless, 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!”

 

Now, to be perfectly honest, I’m still in full-blown weekend relaxation mode, and a friend is waiting at a patio bar with beer and burgers, so I’m keeping my picks short and sweet. In order to leave you folks with plenty of shopping options, you’ll find a nice long list of sales (minus my wonderful picks) at the bottom. 

 

First, two sets of picks I did want to point out:

  

Extra 50% Off Select Sale Items at J.Crew:

It looks like they are really trying to burn through their clearance stock over at J.Crew, with 50% off select items, and anything else in the sale section running an extra 40% off. We’ve featured this sale (or similar) enough times to have covered all the staples (casual shirts, chinos, etc.), so this time we’re going with picks that you just won’t be able to find anywhere else with this kind of discount. First up, perfect example, this Ludlow sportcoat in glen-plain silk linen:

Ludlow Sportcoat in Glen Plaid Silk Linen | J.Crew

Wooh. Silk Linen. Enough said? Ok, I’ll say more. The linen will keep this breezy and light, while the silk will add a touch of sheen, structure, and hand similar to wool, but better. Check out our article on glen plaid for all the reasons to love the pattern, and you should already be pretty sold here. What’s really crazy is the $135 price-tag. The jacket retails at a whopping $388, silk fabric tends to be way pricey, and Ludlow suiting tends to be hard to find on sale, so this is a fantastic steal for anyone in the market for a stylish blazer.

 

With more luxurious fabrics, check out this Ludlow Shirt in a tartan patterned Thomas Mason fabric:

Thomas Mason Archive for J.Crew Ludlow Shirt in 1903 Tartan | J.Crew

 

Thomas Mason fabrics are pretty widely known as one of the higher-end, accessible shirting fabrics. By accessible, I mean that stores like J.Crew sell ready-to-wear garments in their fabrics (as opposed to only being available bespoke), but not that they are necessarily affordable. Here’s a rare chance to pick up a Thomas Mason shirt for under $100 (actually, for just $50). The pattern is a tartan plaid, which can sound bold, but I think the more neutral blue and grey tones keep this very versatile.

 

We’ll close out the J.Crew sale with these chambray shorts:

7”Stanton Short in Pindot Chambray | J.Crew

Sure, you can probably find something similar elsewhere, chambray is everywhere this time of year, but first, these are crazy cheap (especially for J.Crew quality) at only $25. Second, there’s something about these that comes off just right - the pindots, the rumpled/casual fabric, the perfect inseam - that makes them a sure-fire winner.

 

Of course, check out the rest of the sale, as sizes and stock seems to be dwindling pretty rapidly (but at the same time, the prices keep getting lower and lower). 

 

 

Footwear at Nordstrom Rack:

Stopped into my local NordRack the other day to do my usual perusing of the $20 ties, cheap socks, and cluster-fuck jeans pile that occasionally yields a nice grab. After striking out in all my go-tos, I wandered over to the shoe isles while waiting for my girlfriend to finish shopping, and was pleasantly reminded that there are some great footwear steals to be had at the Rack. They were out of my sizes in the kicks I was liking, but thanks to their newer e-commerce site, I may be able to grab a pair online. Anyway, I just wanted to point out a few gems I found, like these Clarks Bushacres:

Bushacre Chukka | Clarks via Nordstrom Rack

OK, so Fall is still a few months off, but it never hurts to be prepared, and a pair of Clarks chukkas is about as foolproof as you can get for some good 3-season footwear. Admittedly, the pair I saw in the store (one size too small) was in a darker leather that I really liked, but this beeswax is pretty damn sharp as well. Regularly $100, NR has these marked down 30% to just $70. If you’re looking for something a bit sharper/dressier, these chukkas by Walkover are almost half-off.

 

There’s also a nice selection of higher-end shoes, which aren’t cheap, even at the Rack prices, but are still hugely discounted from their original retail price. I was sorely tempted by these brogues from Allen Edmonds:

6th Ave Cap Toe Oxford | Allen Edmonds via Nordstrom Rack

I’ve been on the hunt for a pair of 5th Avenues, and never even really realized that the 6th Avenues existed. I gotta say, I’m a fan - I dig the 5ths for keeping the brogue detailing, but not being quite as in-your-face about it as the Strands. The 6th Avenue seems to do the same, but with just a touch more flair. Still, they remain respectable and sharp, and versatile enough to wear with chinos or a suit, and maybe even jeans. Regularly priced at the pretty-standard-for-AE $335, NR has them marked down 40% to an even $200. Not too shabby, if you’re ready to pick up some quality shoes.

 

 

OK, for the rest of these, you’ll have to find your own pieces, but there are plenty of great finds to be had:

Summer Sale at Frank & Oak - Continuing discounts, they restock this one every so often. Plus, for a limited time STARSNBARS10 gets an extra 10% off. Also, use our referral link for $25 credit when you sign up.

 

20% Off Summer Sale at Bonobos - Lots of selection, hopefully (as tends to be the pattern), prices will continue to drop as this one goes on. Our referral will get you $25 off your first $75+ purchase.

 

40% Off Clearance at Dockers with EXTRA40SALE - Check out the Alphas, which are my go-to from Dockers. I think this is the end of this sale, and is the deepest discount they’ve offered yet.

 

Brooks Brothers Summer Sale - Up to 50% off, Brooks Brothers sales can be hard to come by, and their regularly priced duds hard to afford, so this is definitely worth a look.

 

40% Off Two Regularly Priced Items at Lands End - Admittedly not a big Lands End shopper, but their LEC line is pretty sharp and I’ve been eyeing their knit ties for a while. Might have to hit it up now.

 

Up to 60% Off at Gap - Lots of sale items, but even better is the 40% off clearance that they have going on in stores (not seeing this online, might be worth checking out a B&M) - I picked up some white denim for $25ish when I stopped in a day or two ago.

 

And there’s even more out there, with all the holiday sales, etc., but there’s a beer calling my name. Have a great weekend!!

July 2, 2014
'Know Your Patterns' - Tattersall

Our ‘Know Your Patterns’ and ‘Know Your Fabrics’ series are proving to be pretty darn popular, so we’re going to keep them rolling as long as we can keep thinking of more textiles to explore. This week, we’re back at it again with another edition of ‘Know Your Patterns’ and turn our eye to a classic; Tattersall. This is one that you surely see everywhere (it’s well loved for it’s versatility), but probably just never knew the technical name attached to it. No more!

A Tattersall pattern is made up of two thin, regularly spaced grids, traditionally placed against a lighter background (although some versions with light grids against a dark background can be found). 

Beyond that, it’s easier to explain what Tattersall isn’t. First, it isn’t printed on fabric, but rather woven into it. Second, it is not a large-scale, windowpane pattern, but instead much smaller in scale (although some variation is definitely available). Third, Tattersall is not merely a graph-check (usually), and instead tends to be distinguished by the two, evenly alternating colors (although single-color patterns do exist, as you’ll see below). Also, unlike many other plaids, the spacing between the grids does not change, although the pattern will often be taller that it is wide.
The name itself comes from a famous race horse auction house, Tattersall’s London Horse Auction mart, established by Richard Tattersall in 1776. At that time, the pattern was commonly used by the auction house on their horse blankets, with the pattern being transitioned to men’s shirting towards the end of the 19th century.
Since then, the pattern has remained popular in men’s apparel through the ages, and as we mentioned, is favored for its versatility. Depending on the cut of the shirt, the pattern lends itself just as easily to casual wear as it does tailored suiting, and looks great with jeans or a solid-colored suit. Additionally, it is not a season-specific fabric, and a guy can wear it summer, fall, winter and spring. Lastly, the flexibility in the color and scale of the grids allows the pattern to be adapted to a variety of complexions and body types.
Recommending products here is a bit of a challenge. First off, the outright differences between Tattersall patterns are not that emphasized - each has a light background with some assortments of colors incorporated through the grids. The colors you pick will/should rely heavily on not just personal preference, but more-so what will work well with your current wardrobe. Also, the pattern is used pretty exclusively in shirting (you won’t really find Tattersall suits or trousers). That said, we listed a few personal favorites:
First, this shirt shows Tattersall at it’s simplest - one color, lightly printed on a white background:

Washed Shirt in Thin Open Tattersall | J.Crew Factory

As we mentioned, Tattersall usually comes with two colors, but at it’s most minimal will be monochrome.
If you are looking for something more interesting, the shirt below exhibits a more standard Tattersall with two colors over a light background:

Grayson Tattersall Shirt | Spectre & Co.

We reviewed Spectre a while back and loved their shirts, and this one looks like a sharp winner at just $45 (plus, blue and brown is one of my favorite color combinations).
On the more high-fashion end of the spectrum, Gant offers this classic:

Tattersall Sport Shirt | Gant via East Dane

Note the two colors (blue and red) alternating evenly on a white background. About as classic as it gets.
We wanted to show an example of Tattersall on a dark background, but those tend to be much more widespread in the cooler seasons, and we couldn’t find an option we liked right now. While we were hunting, though, we decided it was important to note that you will find a lot of ‘Tattersall’ shirts out there - note the quotations! These usually include more than two colors, irregular check patterns, or some other variation. Of course, these can be just as stylish, and this may not even make a difference to you, just know that they aren’t traditional Tattersall (and therefore we omitted for the sake of this article).
Do you have any Tattersall pieces in your wardrobe? Any favorites? Chime in at the comments section over on the main site.

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