Earlier this month, the New York Timespredicted that "retro-chic watches with cases smaller than 40 millimeters" will be, in a medium-sized way, the next big thing. Which, of course, we were pleased to see. As longtime readers know, we are unwavering advocates of the 40mm maximum, observing it more faithfully than we do speed limits, point spreads, and suggested burrito microwave times.
Unfortunately, it's going to take more than a single NYT article to change some hearts and minds. Proving that toolbaggery is a timeless force, impervious to good taste and the vagaries of changing fashion alike,
Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening to release a new line of comically oversized wristwatches. Needless to say, skulls will be involved.
For aging bodybuilders whose failing eyesight necessitates a clock-sized face, but whose forearms remain powerful enough to hoist such an oversized load, we can see how these timepieces might be helpful in maintaining a precisely calibrated creatine dosing schedule. But at what cost to overall aesthetics? If you fall into this demographic, we still encourage you to get a smaller watch — your body may wither but your style will flourish. And in the long run, only style stands the true test of time.
Q: Please weigh in heavily on the jogger pants trend that is sweeping shamefully across the country. — Dave
If we ever find ourselves on the tennis courts at the Red Raider Community Fitness Facility in April or October, we like cotton sweatpants for the first 20 minutes or so. We also endorse cashmere sweatpants under the following conditions: Intercontinental plane travel; domestic train travel that spans at least three states; recovery from any surgery that pushes you over your out-of-pocket maximum for the year; and house arrest.
Beyond that, we cast a wary eye toward sweatpants, loungewear, joggers, or whatever you want to call them.
Now, granted, in the era when we initially developed this wariness, sweatpants came in two main varieties: Shiny silk or shapeless polar fleece.
The new generation of sweatpants offers an alternative to such fare. They're cut more closely, they come in cotton, wool, and cashmere, and when designers aren't trying too hard to make them novel or sporty, there are an abundance of good options to choose from if you need a pair for any of the purposes we describe above.
And this current abundance doesn't surprise us — we see it as the inevitable consequence of aging millennials seeking relief from the unforgiving skinny jeans of their higher-metabolism youth. And of course it's yet another manifestation of culture's primary shaping force over the last 40 years or so — business casual.
But despite the significant advances in sweatpants manufacture, we don't find ourselves wanting to wear them more often. While $300 tailored sweatpants are certainly a step up from onesies, they still strike us as somewhat infantile when worn in nightclubs, restaurants, etc. And at work they cross the chasm from business casual to trying too hard (TTH).
Indeed, if your need to gamify your Monday morning meeting is so strong that you leave your colleagues wondering if you're planning to dunk on them or just share your thoughts on the Q3 revenue forecasts, you are spending way too much time at the office and not enough time engaging in actual leisure. Put on a belt, knot up your tie, and pour yourself a drink. Work shouldn't be that strenuous.
Q: Let's say this spring/summer I find myself closing deals pool- or courtside and I'm wearing a tennis shirt and a blue blazer. Should the shirt be tucked or untucked? Any other thoughts on pulling this look off? —Aaron
As for the blazer, pairing it with a polo is already a high-low play so don't overdo it. Nothing that's too shiny or too padded, and nothing that looks like your suit has joined the sharing economy and is now renting out its jacket to schlubs who cannot afford a proper standalone blazer. Finally, a note on blazer length. As Leonardo da Vinci helped us demonstrate a few years back, a well-fitted blazer should never extend below your ball sack.
Bonus MB Tip: We own several polo shirts that are sometimes the most expensive thing we're wearing that day. But every wardrobe needs a strategic reserve of disposable white polos that are all but guaranteed to suffer a 100 percent casualty rate amidst the chaos of summer leisuring. This year we can highly recommend the ASOS house brand jersey polo. It's 18 bucks, has an athletic but not binding fit, and comes with free shipping and returns. To avoid the latter, order up one size.
Q: I have just inherited a family crest ring from my grandfather. How does MB feel about such rings. Should they be worn? —Phillip
A: There are certain things we'd happily inherit from our grandfather: His 1961 Jaguar E-Type. His Mizuno MP-14s. Money.
Then there are other things we'd rather not: Male pattern baldness. An elevated PSA. His third wife Mitzi.
Where does jewelry fall? Somewhere in the middle. Jewelry with a heraldic knight helmet? As our original logo attests, we have a soft spot for heraldic imagery. But when you put it on a big gold ring, we can't help but think this is what the 14th century version of Michael Lohan/Donald Trump would have worn. And that means that on our inheritability continuum, it's veering towards prostate cancer.
Our suggestion: File this item in a high-quality ring box and pass it down to your progeny, so in 30 years he can Ask the MB about wearing a family crest ring from his great-grandfather. We'll be here.
With the Cardinals 3-0 win over the Cubs on April 2nd, white pants season officially started. For us they're already on a rotation heavier than a starting pitcher, and with a life expectancy about as long as a doubleheader, we're always looking to stock the bullpen.
Three strikes and we're out?
Yes. But let us first present the MB Deal of the Week: Brooklyn Tailors White Denim Pants. Originally $205, marked down to $69, and now just $34.50 (+ free shipping) these pants are made in BkT's Kathmandu, Nepal factory, where they're usually busy making suits and dress shirts. So we expect a more tailored construction, and paired with the countervailing force of denim, a switch-hitting pant we can wear to both the office and a matinee.
We'd suggest giving one of thesetwo Hardy Aimes blue blazers a try. They're the requisite wool and slim-fit, have lapels with a BMI in the normal range, and being from Savile Row, fulfill our Principle of Anglophilia. And the best part? Until 11:59 EDT April 6 they're each about 80 bucks.
1. Jesse Ventura
2. Bob Dylan
3. Vince Vaughn
5. Ethan Coen
6. Charles Schulz
7. Paul Westerberg
8. Sinclair Lewis
9. Josh Hartnett
This year there were lots of entries with perfect scores, and unfortunately our tie-breaker question — what do they all have in common? — was too easy and answered correctly by all entries, even by the guy who thought Sinclair Lewis was Garrison Keillor. The answer: They were all born in Minnesota.
This forces us to rely on random.org to select a winner and runner-up, and those titles go to...
Joe Schachtner and Clint Miller.
Joe, enjoy your new pair of Allyn Scura frames. We always recommend the famed Legend, or for a more offbeat look, the Sergio. Both are terrific and consistently draw positive feedback. Alternatively, you can put your $125 credit towards a pair of Allyn Scura's vintage frames, like these Carrera 5595 sunglasses, modeled in a 1986 print ad by Formula 1 racing legend Niki Lauda. It's your choice.
Clint, as the runner-up you get to select a tie from our growing collection. Let us know what strikes your fancy and we'll send one out to you.
Thanks to everyone who played and we'll see you again next year for the 6th-Annual Challenge.
As nice as it once was in Minneapolis, we have to believe it's far nicer right now in Biella, Italy. Or maybe it's just that we're in an Italian state of mind, now that a couple of our new ties are here, in the shop, ready for purchase. To celebrate, we're pouring ourselves a Last Word, heading to Olive Garden for a Never Ending Pasta Bowl®, and putting on "Springtime in Italy," which is what we're calling one of our two new ties featuring fabric from Lancifico Subalpino, our favorite Mediterranean fabric house.
This beautiful specimen is made from a textured lightweight cotton that reads as crisp, alert, and artfully dishevelled. Put it on, and you may sense that your blood alcohol level has magically risen by 0.01 percent. But no higher — this tie makes you feel playful, not sloppy. You'll have trouble staying in the office, but if you duck out, even Shelly in HR will understand. A tie like this is made for striding boldly down springtime streets, not staring at spreadsheets at your standing desk.
NB: "Springtime in Italy" is one of a handful of MB ties available for the runner-up in the 5th Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge. Take the Challenge now! Deadline to enter is March 31.
If it's true that you should always "dress for the job you want, not the job you have," then we think Senator Ted Cruz (R - TX) just announced his intention to run for Assistant General Manager of a Subway franchise in Salina, Kansas. If we're wrong about this — and even worse, if America is prepared to elect a man who wears a t-shirt under a sport shirt to its highest office — we are heading to Canada and demanding reparations.
Q: It's almost time to pack the corduroys away depending on where you live (sorry New England). So, what would you say are some essentials for spring? —Jack
A: Just 10 days ago, on the most frigid commute of the entire season, the thought of spring essentials seemed as distant as our final destination. But Jimmy the Carnivorous Groundhog was right, and Insta-Spring — it was 68 yesterday in Minneapolis — now has us consuming the following:
The Last Word
There is no cocktail that personifies and embodies spring more than The Last Word. Equal parts gin, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, Green Chartreuse, and fresh lime juice, one sip of this emerald Prohibition-era tipple immediately conjures thoughts of tournament basketball, The Masters, green grass, and swallows returning to Capistrano. It also serves as an excellent alternative to green beer, the toolbag drink of choice tomorrow.
Spring means baseball, and Opening Day is the opening day of the newly-expanded white pant season (more on this later). The Cardinals play at Wrigley in just 20 days. The best place to find something cool, unique, and cheap is YOOX, as usual, and free shipping is now standard. Otherwise Levi Strauss & Co. makes white denim in the 501, 511, 514, and 569.
Todd Snyder Japanese Indigo Crew Sweatshirt
Our favorite purchase of 2015 by a wide margin. Is $275 a lot for a cotton sweatshirt, even if it's made by Canadian factory workers using Japanese indigo? Yes. But while this garment is marked 100 percent cotton, we actually suspect it might be 120 percent cotton, or maybe even 125 percent. It's that soft. Paradoxically, it's also incredibly sturdy. In fact, we're betting its tank-like construction will yield a life expectancy of at least a decade. Amortize its cost over that term and it's actually cheaper than a $15 Old Navy sweatshirt that you will be downgrading to "paint rag" by Independence Day.
Nylite Chambray in Aurora Red
During the chambray boom that happened a few years ago, when folks were making pants, suits, and even a few trendy hotels out of chambray, we did not buy in heavily. Indeed, we think chambray is a little like heroin or Jim Carrey — something to savor in small doses. But when it's used right it can be very effective. Here, for example, a splash of chambray gives these Tretorn Nylites — originally invented in 1964 and typically made out of a canvas — thinking about April matinees at Target Field. So make ours a double!
(And be on the lookout for our spring tie line, which will also be using chambray in sparing fashion.)
Vintage Onion Content
Insta-Spring has us recalling one of our favorite Onion pieces, this one from 1996: Area Students Prepare Breasts for Increased Springtime Display. "Female college students from across the northern U.S. celebrated the improved weather this week, preparing their breasts for the increased exposure and display that the warm weather now demands."
Welcome to the 5th Kind-of-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge, sponsored by our all-time favorite eyewear and sunglass outfitter, Allyn Scura.
THE CHALLENGE: Identify the nine bespectacled or sunglassified MBs above and you will be entered to win a pair of Allyn Scura frames ($175 value) or a $125 credit you can apply toward any vintage frames Allyn Scura carries. It's up to you. This year we're sweeting the deal. The runner up gets a Magnificent Bastard tie of his/her choice (several more excellent spring additions coming later this month).
To enter simply fill out the form below with the names of the men pictured, and, in the event of a tie, what they all have in common. One entry per person. USA only. Good luck. The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, March 31 at midnight CDT.
The spectre of Greece electing an anti-austerity, anti-bailout party has contributed to the Euro falling to an 11-year low against the US dollar. What does this mean, besides the increased possibility of a Black Friday-like rush on De Wallen by Omaha-based bargain shoppers? Incredible discounts on some of our favorite European clothing brands, of course.
Take SWIMS, for instance. The fine Norwegian outerwear and shoemaker trades in Euros and ships to the US, and makes the Mobster overshoe, one of our all-time favorite accessories. It's an impenetrable rubber and neoprene shield that protects our footwear from the cold and snow of bike commutes, the slush of mid-day crosstown dashes, and the blood and vomit of Wednesday night happy hours spun completely out of control.
SWIMS wants €79.00 for a pair of Mobsters, which at today's exchange rate is $88.78. Add in the current swims.com 20% discount code Celebrating10! and they're just 71 bucks. By contrast, the price at US retailer Allen Edmonds is $149. If you're wondering, shipping isn't an issue. Buy two of anything at SWIMS and shipping is included.
The market has already factored in Alexis Tsipras as prime minister, so be sure to act before it starts correcting.
Things you should make out of leather: Briefcases. Golf bags. Wallets. Bondage gear. Bicycle seats. Shoes. Club chairs.
Things you should not make out of leather: Jogging pants.
We admit the senseless lack of utility is high here. A pair of leather jogging pants is essentially a sign to the world that says, "No, I have absolutely no intention of jogging today, or ever."
But when we try to picture JFK wearing these things, we can't do it. Paul Newman? Nick Nolte? Steve McQueen? Johnny Depp? Nope, nope, nope, nope — not even Johnny Depp. Jennifer Lopez' fourth husband, a 24-year-old back-up record producer named Ziqué? Yes! Now we are pretty sure such a creature does not actually exist. But his pants do, and these are them.
Q: I am preparing the groomsmen attire for my upcoming wedding. Naturally, our gentlemen will wear bespoke formalwear, as selected by the bride and I. Thin arched lapel, two button classic style coupled with a tapered, fitted jacket. I call it the Lafontaine. Here’s the kicker: the suits will be black, likely with white shirts (also fitted). In true bastardly fashion, I am considering offering the groomsmen a lasting, memorable gift: a woodworked, Quebec-issued bowtie made of noble wood. Given that I will be wearing a black (silk) bowtie, I'd like to differentiate them with another color. Can the men wear a brown on black style or must it be black on black?
Please advice, O wise Sensei.
A: We don't place much stock in the sanctity of marriage, but when it comes to the sanctity of marriage attire, we're strict traditionalists. If things go well — and we sincerely wish you the best — there's a chance your wedding photos will be hanging on your wall for 20, 30, even fifty years. Do you think your groomsmen's prospective wooden bow ties will stand that test of time?
So while your desire to offer your groomsmen a lasting, memorable gift is admirable, we'd like to steer you away from your current choice. You need timeless wedding attire, and that means ties that come from a silkworm's ass, not a tree.
As for a gift for the groomsmen, we recommend an engraved glass cocktail shaker. It's lasting, it's memorable, and if your groomsmen are worthy of being your groomsmen, it's a gift they will use often and appreciatively while getting shitfaced for years to come.
Q: Hi, MB! My husband loves his Unicorn Belt!
Is it still cool for guys to wear shoes with colored soles? I am looking at some Ferragamo's for him- they are kind of expensive... — Deb
A: Even when we're aiming to make a statement, we tend to go for subtlety. Colored soles are permissible on certain occasions, especially those that involve jibing and tacking. But even in these instances, we gravitate toward dark blues and dark reds. To make our preferences perfectly clear, we've created a chart. Our general rule of thumb: If a shoe's soles are a shade so vibrant they might attract a poison dart frog, or even worse, Guy Fieri, they're too colorful.
In late December, the Dow Jones topped 18,000 for the first time. The U.S. economy is taking off like a Titleist driven by the invisible hand, arm, torso, and Ping G30 of Bubba Watson. Even President Obama's approval ratings are trending upward.
Why all this good news? Correlation does not equal causation, but we can't help but notice that Mr. Obama is dressing better on the golf course. Granted, he had nowhere to go but up. As we've covered in the past, the nation's Executive-in-Chief has typically looked more like a hapless mailroom schlub while walking some of the best links in the land. Baggy cargo shorts. Voluminous polo shirts that would like right at home in Walmart's 4-person tent aisle. And who can forget that awful moment in 2008 when a driving range swing launched his Blackberry into the atmosphere like a doomed space shuttle. NASA, we do not have lift-off.
Now, he's still nowhere near embodying the casual kinetic assurance that says, "Yes, America, I am leading you toward prosperity, security, and overall well-being, and I still have time to get in 18 holes on Sunday."
But at least President Obama has apparently ditched the cargo shorts. He's wearing slimmer-fitting polos that leave his elbows uncovered. In his new garb, he looks more graceful and assured — and that in turn leads to greater grace and assurance. The impact is personal — his golf game has improved dramatically. But there's a macro element as well. America sees a more commanding figure at the helm, and almost magically, gas prices start dropping, consumer confidence increases, the Dow starts climbing, etc.
Okay, this is it — our last deal of 2014. From now until December 19, when you buy a tie or belt, we're throwing in a tin of Alfred Lane solid cologne — the Vanguard scent. Eventually we're going to be selling this in our store for $17.95. But it's Christmas time, we're feeling festive, and so we'll be handing them out for free to anyone who gets a tie, a belt, or oil painting.
Until December 19, that is. Then we're headed to Costa Rica to surf for two weeks, and we won't be back until January 3. (You can order merchandise during this time; we just won't be shipping until January 4.)
Okay, got it? Now, we suppose, it's time to address a question longtime readers may have. "Wait," you're probably saying, if you fit this description. "You guys don't like cologne. Why are you selling it in your store?"
And it's true that while answering a question about Axe, we once exclaimed, "We're not fans of cologne per se." And then followed that up a month later with an even stronger declaration: "Ben, no such thing as a 'hot new fragrance' in our book. We've recently made our case against cologne."
But that was in 2008. We're six years older now, which means we're six years smellier. Someone gave us a tin of Vanguard a while back, and we were pleasantly surprised. Unlike traditional cologne, it's solid, which makes it easy to apply with a (literal) subtle touch. Just a dab on our gullet, and its crisp and manly scent — sort of like a filtered pine forest in which a slightly inebriated Nick Nolte is enjoying a bottle of top-shelf bourbon — neutralizes the faint whiff of impending death that now emanates from our wilting telomeres.
What we're saying is we use the stuff, and like it enough to carry in our store. And if you a buy a tie or belt before December 19, you can make your own assessments, on us. Merry Christmas!
Here at MB HQ, it's that time of the year where our conversations turn toward the ever-worsening trend we describe as the Halloweenification of Christmas. You know what mean: Millions and millions of adults, dressing up in clownishly garish Christmas costumes to honor the birth of our lord Carrot Top.
Has anything ever provided less joy to the world than a grown man or woman, half-sloshed on 100-proof eggnog, trying to camouflage his bone-deep holiday despair by wearing a naughty snowman on his chest?
On December 12th, the 'weenification' of Christmas will reach its awful apex on National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. We understand the profound global forces underlying this phenomenon. Social media has connected us all more tightly, made us all more visible to each other, and yet, paradoxically, all more invisible to each other as well, as everyone battles for attention.
The urge to stand out intensifies in this new milieu — and what better way to signal one's singularly charismatic sense of style than in a context where looking ridiculous is the explicit goal? Talk about a tradition tailor-made for an era where self-esteem and convenience rule.
To all this, we issue a hardy and heartfelt "Bah humbug!"
And advise you to cede National Ugly Sweater Day to Utah. On December 12th, put on a garment that will truly make your heart swell with gratitude for this incredible world we live in, where impeccably crafted garments are always just a click away. We recommend this Rice-Knit Cashmere Cardigan in Burnt Red Melange.
Yes, that name sort of makes it sound like this sweater belongs on a menu rather than your back, but don't be deterred. The cashmere comes from the Bayangovi region of Mongolia, where zero-degree days qualify as "hot" and the local livestock develop suitably thick and fluffy coats to compensate. Nomadic herders hand-comb the wool from these magnificent creatures, and each of these sweaters comes with a label that specifies the exact herder who did the combing! Add some genuine horn buttons, and what you've got is a Christmas sweater that looks as stylish as it does cozy.
Seriously, you're planning to get up at 5AM to stand in line and then slug it out with a bunch of coupon-clipping housewives over a cut-rate flat-screen? If you lived in the Soviet Union, circa 1975, we could understand such behavior.
But it's 2014. We are blessed to live in a golden era of mindless consumption. We have so much more to be thankful for than crowded parking lots, long lines, and heavy discounts on last year's straight-out-of-Guangdong tablet. We have e-commerce, home delivery, and 100% wool, made-in-New-York ties, for the mindblowing price of $40, shipping including. And if you buy two or more, we'll throw in a complimentary Secret Agent Belt to help you celebrate the bounty of the season. (Just remember to tell us your belt size.) Finally, if you are an elected member of Ukraine's Parliament and can authenticate this fact, we will send you the tie of your choice, for free.
Our Magnificent Bastard Black Tieday Sales Event starts now and lasts through 11:59 PM, Central Time, Sunday evening. At which point it turns into our Magnificent Bastard Tieber Monday Sales Event and continues for another 24 hours. Unless we run out of ties before then, in which case it ends.
So have yourself a leisurely Thanksgiving. Sleep in on Friday. Get up when you want, check in here, gather your loved ones and friends around your laptop hearth, click a few buttons, and just like that, experience all the magic of America's most sacred and beloved holiday, Black Friday, with absolutely none of the hassle.
And just because Black Friday is an American holiday, this doesn't mean that only Americans and Ukrainian officials can participate in our Sales Event. If you live outside the U.S., are not a member of Ukraine's Parliament, and still want to buy a tie for $40, just send a note to us at email@example.com. Tell us what items you want, and we'll let you know how much the shipping will cost, how you can pay, etc.
In the end, as Black Friday approaches, it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the holiday and lose sight of its true meaning and value. So we'd like to take a moment to reflect on that. At its heart, Black Friday is a celebration of abundance, convenience, and the enduring meaning and connectedness we all derive from retail transactions involving cherished consumer goods. We are honored to do business with you, and hope you feel the same.
As we explain in the shop, just putting on these mint-condition specimens from the golden era of aviator glasses will make you feel bolder, nobler, and a little reckless. But what we only learned today, through further self-experimentation, is what happens when you pair the Girard 3700s with our Secret Agent Belt.
Simply put, you achieve a state of mind we can only describe as "Double-O DiMaso." All the boldness, nobility, and recklessness remains, but it is now undergirded by a deep sense of lethal and rock-solid competence.
It's a sensation too wonderful to keep to ourselves, and that's why, in the spirit of the holiday season, we are throwing in a complimentary Secret Agent Belt to anyone who orders a pair of the Girard 3700s. Just remember to include your belt size when you complete your order — use the Note section on the order form — and we will take care of the rest.
Earlier this year, while vacationing in California, we sampled some gelato made from water buffalo milk, and it was the smoothest, creamiest gelato we'd ever had. It got us to thinking — if water buffalos can be the foundation for great desserts, why not great belts too? So we started investigating, and months later, we've got a new product in our shop — The 300-Year Sterling Silver Buckle Belt: Water Buffalo Edition.
Like the first and no-longer-available version of this belt, this new edition features a beautifully crafted .925 sterling silver buckle by artist Mary Daughtrey. But this time around, the strap is made from water buffalo hide, which, as the photo attests, exudes a blend of rugged but polished character that makes it an understated show-stopper. Wait, rugged and polished? Understated and show-stopping? "You're throwing around a lot of paradoxes, guys," you may be saying to your screen right now. "What exactly are you trying to say here?"
We're saying your waist is going to be getting a lot of admiring double-takes if you buy this belt. And people are going to be asking you a lot of questions.
Here are your answers: You got it from Magnificent Bastard. The water buffalos came from India. The buckle was made in Arizona. The belts were manufactured in Minnesota. It only cost you $100, which, yes, is pretty amazing price for a belt that will stay in style for at least 300 years. (Amortize that, and it's less than a penny a week!) You're not sure if they can get one too — only a limited number were made. But they can try, if they hurry!
The Giants' World Series victory parade through downtown San Francisco was an alarming if not unpredictable display of brute toolbag power. Like a murderer's row of Jersey Shore extras, one player after the next swung for the fences and knocked good taste out of the park.
Luckily, relief finally showed up in the unlikely form of little-used pitcher Tim Lincecum. Though the one-time superstar only saw 1 ⅔ innings of action in the series, during a Game 2 loss to the Royals, his victory parade mechanics were in top form. No team colors? Check. No trash-talking commemorative sweatshirts or visible logos of any kind? Check. Well-tailored shacket paired with an artfully disheveled scarf and what looks to be a cashmere beanie? Check.
Put this guy back in the starting rotation, skip! He's ready to play.
Sometimes legendary newspaper man Ben Bradlee — who presided over the Washington Post during Watergate — stood up to White House power. Other times he sat down and snuggled with it. Both approaches took a bedrock sense of self-assurance that every man should aspire to. RIP, Ben Bradlee.
We know the NFL would like to project a less sociopathic image these days. But in our book, wearing two pieces of conspicuously wholesome flair on one appendage constitutes an illegal formation penalty. Seriously, a wedding ring, in the middle of a game? From coin toss to the final tick of the game clock, the only ring any NFL player should be thinking about is a Super Bowl ring. You don't play for the Minnesota Grooms, Mr. Ponder. You play for the Vikings. Five yard penalty!
As a young, London-trained barrister, Mahatma Gandhi wore traditional business attire and pulled it off with aplomb. But it wasn't until he shed his suit and tie in favor of simple hand-spun sheet of locally produced cloth — aka khadi — that he emerged as a world-changing force. While rulers and revolutionaries alike typically signal their power and/or aspirations to power through crowns, brocade, epaulettes, sashes, and other ostensibly dazzling sartorial semaphores, Gandhi went in the complete opposite direction. His entire wardrobe appeared to consist of a bedsheet.
But if clothes make the man, it's also true, though much rarer, that the man can sometimes make the clothes. Gandhi donned a simple sheet and established himself as an icon of understated but indomitable will. His message was so true, and his convictions so strong, that he didn't need to clothe them in anything more elaborate than plain white cloth.
Now let us be clear here. We're not saying everyone — or really even anyone — should dress like Gandhi. If we said that, we'd never sell another belt or tie. But talk about artful dishevelment! Talk about not trying too hard! While Gandhi's wardrobe lacked variety, it had style to spare. And that's why, today, on Gandhi's birthday, we are breaking out the Bulleit and the Laphroaig and toasting the father of an independent India — and the father of business casual. Before Hef went to work in a bathrobe, before Steve Jobs prowled the hallways of Atari in bare feet, before Mark Zuckerberg taught mankind to share everything in a hoodie, there was Gandhi, showing the world you don't always need a power tie to be powerful. Our glasses are raised in his honor.
Q: Hey MB. I'm going to a wedding next week; I was planning on wearing a navy Hardy Amies suit with a (Deo Veritas) dark lavender gingham shirt, black shoes and no-show socks. Would you give me some tie recommendations? I have been waiting for your summer tie but was thinking maybe a solid lavender tie might do in its place. Thanks so much for all your advice. Seriously. —Cristian
A: With your Hardy Amies suit and Deo Veritas shirt, we suspect you're already going to be better dressed than the groom, and possibly the bride. That said, you don't want to outshine them too much — it's their day to be in the spotlight.
Thus, we are going to suggest something fairly low-key: A solid knit tie in burgundy. With a dark lavender gingham shirt, you're already making a statement — so you don't need a patterned tie adding yet another loud voice to the conversation happening on your chest. The tie we're envisioning weighs in silently but noticeably, with its rough texture and complementary shade adding visual contrast in a subtle but intriguing way. We predict that bridesmaids will be fondling your neckwear all day.
Now here's the thing about knit ties: The industry standard is to circumcise them and leave a flat edge at the bottom, and starve them to boot. DO NOT GET A SKINNY CIRCUMCISED TIE! (Yes, for the record, that is the first time we've ever used all-caps on this site.) You need a tie with a pointed end, and it must be at least 3 inches wide.
We looked around for a tie with these specs, and stumbled upon an online store called The Knottery. The name gives us pause, and so does the price point of their ties — just $35. These ties are probably not made in the U.S. — you'll need to spend at least $45 for that. But the Knottery's merchandise has gotten positive press from GQ, Esquire, Kempt, and many others. So we encourage you to take a chance on this burgundy knit. It fits our specs — pointed end, 3.25 inches wide, 100 percent silk — and you can apply the money you save on it toward a wedding gift. Give our best to the bride and groom!
Q: A lot of fellas are buttoning their collars all the way to the top these days, was just wondering your take & if the old MB shirt buttoning rules still apply. Just received my chocolate sandwich cookie cashmere belt btw, my waist is happy. —Andre
A: Our goal here is style, not fashion. And style is ultimately about ... math. Ratios, angles, golden means, etc. In other words, good rules for style aren't just rules. They're laws, as immutable as anything Sir Isaac Newton ever put down in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
So our take on buttons remains the same as always. For polos, N - 2.
When you're wearing a buttondown with a jacket and tie, button all the way to the top. If you take off your jacket, then ask yourself What Would Newman Do? The answer: Unbutton your top button and loosen your tie.
If you're wearing a sports shirt, there is no simple rule of thumb, because the answer depends on multiple sartorial and biological factors, including collar size, button spacing, and chest follicle density. See this post for elaboration, but in general, we encourage restraint. Just as you never want to go full Grimley, you also never want to go full Cowell. And even Newman himself can misstep when he starts heading in the latter direction.
Finally, we're glad to hear you like your belt. Thanks for your patronage.
The classic Negroni is simply equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. You can do better.
5 parts Plymouth gin
2 parts Campari
1 part Pimm's No. 1 Cup
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part dry vermouth
2 dashes of orange bitters
Quick shake or stir and pour into chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.