Over the past few years there has been a growing craze for high-quality denim in the menswear world. Gone are the days of the 90’s dad-jeans, and jeans are no longer relegated to casual-only settings. These days, denim works just as well with a blazer as it does a ratty T-shirt, and it’s not out of the norm to be dropping up to $200 a pair.
My lovely girlfriend needed to go shopping for some shoes this weekend (our little rascal of a pup keeps chewing hers. Not mine, just hers…not that I’m complaining but I think he’s trying to get me in trouble). She wanted me to come along, and it was a gorgeous day for some street-shopping through Chicago’s Lakeview ‘hood that we call home, so I graciously obliged. Of course, I couldn’t not buy something for myself as well, so this lucky guy came home with another solid pair of summer shoes (as well as the first pair of brand new shoes I’ve bought in about a year).
I rolled out planning to grab some boat shoes that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. I had just talked my girlfriend into looking for some for herself, and I was pretty excited to add some Sperry Topsiders to my collection. We bounced back and forth between a few stores, checking out sales and trying stuff off, and I was struggling to decide between a few styles when these grey, boat-shoe-styled tassel loafers caught my eye. Up til now I’ve been pretty resistant to the tasseled look (I’ve even posted on some blogs to make this point), but these just looked suave. I showed them to Christine, kind of expecting her to shoot them down (she tends to hold me back from making too fashion-forward of purchases), but when I tried them on she loved them too. We kept shopping for a while longer, but I found myself comparing everything else to that pair of shoes, so in the end I went with my gut and voila: my new summer slip-ons:
Not only am I really happy with these shoes themselves (super comfortable, in a neutral color that will go with anything, and a toned-down fashion statement in their own way), but I’m also kind of proud of myself for following my intuition and making a bit of a knee-jerk buy. I love men’s style and I love shopping for new goods, but I’m the kind of guy that rationalizes and over-thinks every single purchase. For example, I’ve been shopping for a plain, brown leather belt for oh, two weeks now. Should be the simplest buy in the world, but I still currently have about 10 tabs of belt options open in my web browser at home. I tend to make good, well-informed purchases this way, but it takes some of the fun and excitement out of the whole thing, so it was great to come home with a new unexpected fashion toy.
On a final note, how much does it suck buying casual wear at the end of the day on a Sunday, knowing you won’t get a chance to wear your new finds until the next weekend rolls around? Ugh, the woes of being a working man. Still working on winning that Powerball…
Longview Loafers by G.H. Bass in Nut (color sold out, available in Navy)
So, for this look, I was busting out a bunch of brand new summer-wear items that have been recent additions to my wardrobe. This outfit is in no way 100% ideal, which is actually why I wanted to share it. First, the outfit:
I just bought this lightweight, cotton/linen blend blazer from Uniqlo after I visited their store in NYC and got to try a few things on for a sizing guide. Now that I know what fits, I will definitely be ordering more. This jacket is going to be my savior this summer. I’ve become so accustomed to wearing a blazer over the past several months, and don’t really want to break the habit just because it’s summer. However, even in my light wool blazer, the full lining has had me sweating even on just warm days. This unlined jacket, however, is light and airy enough to keep me cool even as we hit those Chicago heat waves.
Under the jacket I wore my custom Modern Tailor shirt (review here). As I’ve been wearing it more, and going back and forth more between this custom shirt and my other off-the-rack shirts, I’ve been appreciating the incredible fit more and more, and am definitely springing for a few more MTM pieces in the near future. Once again, feel free to use my Modern Tailor referral code for a sweet $20 off your purchase.
I also went with this dark red (I think they called in ‘wine’) knit tie from The Tie Bar. My love of knit ties just keeps growing and growing. Not only were they perfect in the winter as something with a little more heft, the looser weave also works great in the summer with your lighter clothes. This wine color too was not something I expected to go with everything, but somehow it really does. I find myself reaching for this tie multiple times a week, and I have a collection of options that’s not to be sneezed at. Silver tie bar finishes the picture.
I also just bought these blue lived-in chino’s from Gap. Somehow, between some crazy in store sale prices and discounts from signing up for Gap Card, I got these and one other pair for a grand total of less than $25.00. I practically danced home. I’m not a die-hard Gap fan, but their chinos are so damn comfortable. I grabbed these light blue ones to put a little spring color into my business-casual attire without being too in-your-face with go-to-hell pants.
I finished off the outfit with my new blue suede shoes by Bass, courtesy of an eBay steal. I’ve worn these once or twice casually, and wanted to try to work them into a work outfit and though this was a good outfit to experiment with. Here is where I wish I had made a few changes. I do love the shoes, and think they go well with the rest of the ensemble. However, the white/off-white laces lend to a more casual look. I think next time I’ll try out some colored laces if I want to add a little more pop, or something darker, maybe even black, for something a little more muted.
Also, I had hoped that my sock choice would contrast with the shoes and tie in with the pocket square (a grey chambray number from Frank and Oak). Unfortunately, they kind of blend with the shoes in color, and I like my socks to really pop, so I’ll try something else next time.
And there’s my message is for this post. It’s perfectly fine to make mistakes. Especially when trying out new things (I’m still working on my summer attire, as well as colored pants at work, for example). If you find something you think you like, just go ahead and try it! Unless you’re a celebrity or a model or I don’t even know what, the people in your day-to-day life shouldn’t give you grief over some uncoordinated socks, or a non-matching tie. On the other hand, recognize what does and doesn’t work, see the changes you want to make, and apply them as you pick out your clothing combinations in the future. It’s all a learning process, and it’s not fun unless you go outside your comfort zone from time to time. Also worth noting, while I messed around with colors in my pants, shoes and socks, I kept the rest of the outfit gloriously simple. Can’t ever go wrong with a white shirt and navy blazer, and like I said, that dark red tie goes with everything.
I didn’t really start dressing well until the cooler months last year, and as a result, I’m suddenly finding myself overwhelmingly unprepared to keep up the level of dapper in these warmer months. I’ve been working overtime to remedy the situation, and here is what I have left on my list to round out my wardrobe:
I already got a cotton/linen blend, unlined blazer from Uniqlo in dark blue/navy, but I’m hoping to add one more summer-weight blazer in a lighter color. I’m considering another from Uniqlo, probably this one in a red cotton/linen blend:
as I was very happy with the one I just bought (review forthcoming), but am also considering this tan option from H&M:
Normally I stay away from H&M due to previous quality-of-construction issues I’ve had with their clothing, but I’ve heard good things about this blazer (for the price), and I’m digging the ticket pocket. Unfortunately, it is fully lined, which seems counter-intuitive for a lightweight jacket, so I guess I’ll have to stop in and check it out.
No joke, I haven’t bought a pair of swim shorts since high school. Therefore I only own two very ‘cool-at-the-time’, past my knees, big-Hawaiian-floral-printed pairs of board shorts. It’s definitely time for some man shorts to wear to the beach (if you can call it that) here in Chicago. What I really want is this pair in seersucker from J. Crew:
J. Crew Factory
but alas, they don’t have my size, so I’m on the lookout for something similar.
For a while I was struggling to find any summer-appropriate shoes. Recently, this purchase off of eBay covered my ‘colored suede wingtips’ bases, but I’m still on the hunt for some good boat shoes. My biggest problem so far is that I do most of my shopping online, and honestly, I think all boat shoes look crappy in product photos. The soles look clunky, the laces either weirdly long or weirdly short, etc. etc. However, when I see these bad boys in person (just took a browsing trip to DSW today), they all look damn fine. So, as soon as I can belly up to a straight up $75-$85 (depending on where you buy em’) purchase in one fell swoop, I’m grabbing this pair of Sperry Top-siders for those more casual and/or nautical sock-less days:
Light Wash Jeans:
Dark jeans are fan-fuckin-tastic pretty much year round, making that smooth move from casual to dressy without breaking a sweat. However, I’ve started breaking a sweat wearing mine, so I’m searching for some more lightweight denim. While I’m at it, I’m going to shake things up a bit and get something with a lighter wash as well to better embrace the bright sunshiny-ness of spring that I miss all Chicago-Winter long. Right now I got my eye on these cotton-linen blend jeans from Uniqlo:
but I just wish I could visit a store in person to take advantage of the on-site, complimentary hemming. I’ve tried a few pairs of Levi’s out, but haven’t found the wash or weight that floats my boat. You know, that boat I’m wearing my boat shoes on.
Cuz I’m blind as a goddamn bat. And I’m dainty and sensitive to the sun. Haha no, in all seriousness though, having a good pair of sunglasses is key during those summer months when you’re trying to soak in as much sunshine as possible. I used to wear contacts and would just throw on a pair of knockoffs, but I’ve switched back to glasses in the past year and am going to have to pony up for a pair of prescription shades. I’ve been loving pretty much everything coming out of Warby Parker, and for $150 (prescription included), the price can’t be beat (plus, fingers crossed, hopefully my insurance will cover them). Personally, I have my eye on the Jasper:
or the Winston:
but there are a bunch that I’d rock any day.
I only have two solid pairs of shorts in my wardrobe, and honestly, that’s almost enough. Monday through Friday I’m pretty much limited to pants by the dress code at my day job. I have one pair in khaki, and one in grey chambray (super comfortable, by the way), both 9”-10” inseams. However, I’d love to have a few more pairs of chino shorts to let me show a little variety on those days off. I’m keeping my eye open at the J. Crew Factory website, since they have some damn good sales, but I’ll be happy with a pair from Gap, Frank and Oak, and a small variety of other brands as long as they come in the right fit and at the right price. Right now, my ideal would be a pair in dark blue:
and a pastel pair in oxford cloth:
J. Crew Factory
Another problem of mine: it gets hot as all get-out in Chicago in summer. However, I do prefer to wear a tie every weekday, especially at work. More unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the short-sleeves and tie look (this is widely debated across style blogs, so make your own decision). That said, my best option for staying cool on summer workdays is probably a nice, linen dress shirt. The biggest challenge I’m facing is finding a shirt that is reasonably priced but also comes in a slim fit. Most moderately priced linen shirts are much more casual and are designed for a loose, beach-y look. By the time you get up to dress shirt stylings, the prices are usually pretty damn high. Frank and Oak has a linen shirt that I’m going to give a try:
Frank & Oak
but if all else fails I’ll snag one for cheap from Uniqlo and get it tailored (I checked their fabrics and I’d say it’s tie-appropriate with a cotton or knit tie).
While winter weather calls for more substantial fabrics like thick silk or wool for your neckwear, summer similarly calls for it’s own weather appropriate ties. I’m looking for options in cotton and linen, as well as some light-color, solid knit ties. I’ve already stocked up my closet at Tie Society, but for my permanent additions, I’m turning, as usual, to the The Tie Bar. I especially have my eye on this knit tie in coral:
The Tie Bar
Or this one in cotton seersucker:
The Tie Bar
Uniqlo also has some great options for linen ties clocking it at $12.90, which is a steal. Most are in plaid/madras, and I’m a fan of this one:
Also, here is a short list of some other recent purchases for the summer:
Light (almost white) Chino’s in Stone from J. Crew
Light Blue/Slate Chino’s from Gap
No-show loafer socks from Nordstrom Rack
Short-sleeve casual button-up (needs tailored) from American Eagle
Mint OCBD from Frank & Oak
I’ve written before that my personal style, when I have full freedom to express it, rides the line between casual and formal. My lifestyle doesn’t call for a whole lot of formal attire, but I like to dress up the casual pieces I wear in order to stand out and put my best foot forwards. This usually means something like jeans with a shirt and tie, patterned dress shirts instead of plain white or blue, or desert boots and chinos matched with a sport coat and tie.
Another reason I love to wear this kind of style, is that when you are balancing that line, it’s easy to tip it in one direction or the other with just a few small changes. For example, yesterday I had a full day of work at the law firm, followed by the quickest of trips home before heading to a Deer Tick concert back downtown.
A few things to note: For those of you who don’t know (but I’m sure most of you can imagine), the dress code at the law firm is definitely not casual. The specific firm I work for is much less strict than most, but jeans are not an option, collared shirts are required, and I personally wear a tie every day. Now, also for those of you who don’t know, Deer Tick concerts can get just a wee bit rowdy. And I fucking love Deer Tick, so I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and quietly nod my head while John McCauley and co rock out onstage.
Therefore, yesterday’s progression of events required some quick wardrobe changes. Here, the KEY word is ‘quick.’ Check out the before and after pictures, to see just how quick I was able to move from office to rock concert:
Here is the original office attire:
The transition really only took a few changes. First, I ditched the blazer, especially as I anticipated it to get a little warm in the crowded venue.
Before (Work Attire)
After (Concert Attire)
I did decide to stick with the tie. The concert was at a weirdly nice venue, considering how rough-edged Deer Tick can be, so I wanted to keep a little bit of class. I did lose the tie clip though, and unbuttoned my top button for a little looser of a look.
Next, I switched out the shiny black Allen Edmonds for my Clark’s, which are much more durable and not quite as stiff (even though I think my AE’s are pretty damn comfortable themselves). Most importantly, I won’t care if (I mean WHEN) someone steps on my shoes.
Before (Work Attire)
After (Concert Attire)
Along with this, I also swapped the black dress belt for a more casual brown one that I’ve had for forever.
Before (Work Attire)
After (Concert Attire)
The final product was rock-ready, but still sharp (even if I look a bit dweebish in this picture…):
The great thing is, I could have taken this even farther without having to do much more. Swap out the grey chinos for a pair of jeans; rock a slim tee instead of the button-up; go tie-less, but keep the jacket. It really lets me judge the occasion and dress accordingly without having to stress out about having another entire outfit laundered, ironed, and ready to throw on in the 15 minutes I have at home. The changes are all minor, it’s in no way a new outfit, but it’s specifically adapted to the situation at hand.
I just have a quick announcement for all of you in lieu of an actual blog post. I’ve been working on changing blog hosts from tumblr to Blogger/Blogspot for a variety of reasons (mainly, tumblr pisses me off, and Blogger seems to have a lot more usable advanced features).
While we do have design changes planned that we are working on, the layout and content as of now are relatively mirrored. The tumblr site is still operating and will (for now) be updated with the new content as well. That said, IF YOU ARE HERE - it means you went directly to our tumblr address, and should adjust ya bookmarks accordingly.
On the other hand, WideEyesTightWallets.com is still your go-to to find us, but we can also now be found at WideEyesTightWallets.blogspot.com, our new home.
Hopefully, you readers won’t notice too much of a difference. That said, there are obviously some snags we will be working out over the next few days (double-checking links, fixing formatting errors, the like). Web design (even as minimally as Blogger requires) is not my field, per se, so I’m bumbling through this as best I can! Meantime, feel free (nay, encouraged) to help a brotha out and point out any snafus, inconsistencies or problems you notice.
It’s been a while since we tipped our hat to any of the great blogs out there on the world wide interweb, so we’re back with a new recommendation. This time, we are taking a look at TSBMen.com (The Style Blogger), which is honestly one of my favorite menswear blogs to follow, for a variety of reasons.
I can’t remember where I first read about the history of the brogue shoe, but I think it was one of the first sartorial history tidbits I picked up that really got me interested in the background behind the classics we see everyday. The brogue shoe, like many other aspects of style, originated for a purely functional purpose. The shoe was worn by farmers in the United Kingdom who would spent their days working in boggy and swampy fields inherent to the region. Wearing traditional shoes, these farmers would find themselves constantly pulling off their shoes to empty out the water from the swamps. The brogue was a simple solution to this squelchy problem. Shoemakers began to punch holes through the leather uppers of the shoes, usually following seams and running along the bottom of the shoe. These holes would allow the water to drain throughout the day. While feet still got wet, they weren’t soaking all day and provided a new level of functionality. These days, as the style has become more of a fashionable design rather than an operational advantage, the perforations no longer are punched the whole way through the shoe, so they wouldn’t help you much in a swamp, but they look damn good. I love a design that takes a standard, minimal design and adds a bit of flair without taking away from the class and grace of the item, and most of my favorite shoes have brogue detailing.
There are actually a few standard ‘levels’ of brogue-ing (if that’s a word).
- The ‘quarter-brogue’ shoe refers to a cap-toe shoe (usually an oxford) with brogue details running only along the seam of the cap.
- A half brogue is also a cap-toe shoe, but adds brogue details on the toe as well as the cap seam, and usually along the other seams inherent to an oxford style shoe as well.
- A wingtip or full brogue incorporates the extra seaming of a wingtip shoe, and lines those seams with brogue detailing for a much more intricate design.
- Less often, you will plain-toe shoes (no cap) with decorative brogue details.
It’s been a while since I did a WIWT post, and I’m pretty damn happy with my wardrobe selection today, so WIWT it is. Mostly, I’m loving this outfit because it’s letting me use several new pieces that I was really excited to purchase and receive as gifts.
The first is this green chambray shirt from Frank and Oak. I think, from previous articles, you should know by now that Frank and Oak and chambray are two of my favorite things right now. I am also starting to be addicted to mint green as my go-to spring color, so when I saw this shirt in the April F&O selection I immediately jumped on it.
As usual with Frank and Oak, I’m really happy with the shirt. It fits me great as is, and the construction is very solid. It’s actually a bit heavier than my other Frank and Oak shirts, which is a bit of a mixed blessing. While I was kind of hoping for something light as the weather warms up, I’ve actually ended up being really happy with this weight on cooler spring days. It’s breathable enough that it doesn’t feel like a blanket when the sun comes out, but thick enough to give me a bit of a substantial layer when it gets cloudy and windy (as it so often does during Chicago springtime).
Next is the tie and pocket square combination, which I recently purchased from The Tie Bar. I’m always a big fan of polka dots, and this tie has pretty much the perfect scale going on for a fun tie that still fits the office environment. In my opinion, smaller and busier pin-dots lend to a more formal look, while larger and more spaced-out dots tend to look more casual, and this tie gives a great balance between the two. I’ve worn it with jeans, like here, or with dress pants and was equally pleased with both looks.
I also love this pocket square. I’m just starting to get into the pocket square game, and it can be tricky. You want to compliment other parts of your outfit without matching exactly, which can be tough to do at times. This square works great because I have a lot shirts and ties that are either blue or have blue accents, but I don’t have anything with a hounds-tooth pattern. Also, while it is a shinier silk square (as opposed to linen or cotton), the pattern breaks it up enough that it doesn’t look too dandy-ish (in my opinion).
Last, but definitely not least, is this Timex watch and strap from FormFunctionForm, which was a recent birthday present from my wonderful girlfriend.
I haven’t worn a watch since I was, oh maybe 10 years old? At which point my dream watch was one with a calculator, or a Tony the Tiger watch from a box of frosted flakes. As I’ve worked on upping my style game, I’ve decided it’s time to get back into the habit. Unfortunately, I’m not in the financial position to be buying a $500 watch (or anything near that price range…tight wallets, my friends), and my girlfriend isn’t in the financial position to be gifting me one either. On the other hand, I have enough taste to be pretty averse to buying some chintzy (is that a word? it is now) $50 timepiece from Urban Outfitters. Enter the FFF Timex. The face itself is classic and simple, and while it’s inexpensive it doesn’t look cheap.
The strap is top notch, made from quality Horween Chromexcel leather that will age beautifully and featuring and adjustable notch system reminiscent of the Everlane belt that I reviewed before (fully adjustable, but only ever showing one hole). It’s great, end of story.
Just a few final notes: Got the jeans going on and it’s not even casual Friday! Thank you, office, for Staff Appreciation Week.
Also, notice the brown belt and watch strap…while not entirely necessary, in general you should match your watch along with your belt and shoes.
Finally, the last time I wore this basic outfit, I wore my brown loafers, and I think I prefer that look. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think something about the olive green tone in these Clarks blends in too well with both the shirt and jacket. The dark brown shoes lent a bit more contrast to the look, along with a little more gloss. I will say though, that I’m loving the way these boots are ‘aging.’ I’m normally OCD about scuffs, so the waxed leather, which shows every mark, took a little getting used to, but it’s definitely grown on me.
Ok, almost done rambling. I do want to say that I had a reader or two voice the opinion that they would like to see more pictures on the blog. The weather is finally shaping up (natural light is way better than my house lights) and I have my fancy shmancy camera, so I’m doing my best to indulge - I do care what you folks have to say, so keep the feedback coming! On that note, I’ll leave you with this mid-gesture action shot that my gal (and photographer) insisted I include (she thinks I’m cute).
Jacket and Shirt: Frank and Oak
Jeans: Hurley (bought at Nordstrom Rack)
Tie and Pocket Square: The Tie Bar
Boots: Clarks Desert Boots (bought on eBay)