Q: Shirt buttoning policy was recently discussed at our corporate board meeting. I advocated for the MB endorsed n-2 formula (for men), but to no avail. While most agreed with the concept, the fatal flaw was chest hair, the exposure of which was seen as ungentlemanly in the workplace. We could not craft policy allowing n-2 sans chest hair, without exposing ourselves to discrimination suits from hirsute men, so we settled on the formula x ≤ n-1. Your thoughts? —Todd
A: Todd, while we admire your shaping corporate dress code policy based on MB-endorsed looks, we fear there might be some confusion: our n-2 formula relates strictly to knitwear; i.e. polo shirts.
For wovens, which expose ~100% more chest at n-2 than most knits, n-2 is inappropriate for a professional setting and can easily devolve into Guido territory, even without the gold chain and chest hair.
In other words, we endorse the formula you settled on, with the caveat that if x is in fact 0 a tie should be part of the equation. So break out the 18-year-old Scotch and increase your cash retainers! Your board make the right call!
Q: Do you agree Untuckit shirts are the equivalent of the Sansabelt pants? The new shirt company seems to be spending an enormous amount on advertising this silly idea. —Dave
A: We think you're giving Untuckit too much credit. Sansabelt's innovation was to eliminate the need for a belt by elasticizing waistbands, thus disrupting dressing by automating pant tightening and putting an entire accessory category on the endangered species list. To match Sansabelt's achievement, a company would need to engineer a similar sartorial breakthrough, like combining socks with shoes or boxers with pants.
All Untuckit did was circumcise sport shirts.
That's not to dismiss Untuckit's value in the marketplace. Despite our long-standing admonishments againstthe practice, some guys cannot resist the urge to expose their hemlines. Any technology that spares them from looking like Obama throwing out a ceremonial first pitch qualifies as progress.
A clear sign that plaid is comfortably post-peak enough to start wearing again? Robert Redford, purveyor of the Sundance Catalog, is practically giving you the shirt off his back in the wake of this holiday season, with a 50 percent additional discount on a garment already marked down from $295 to $234.99. Price in the cart: $117 and change.
A few years ago, we started chopping down trees to fuel our living-room hearth while enjoying our nightly Magnificent Bastard cocktail. This year, we've both upped our drinking and made a pledge to go beyond aesthetic fires to actual home-heating. Our goal is to cut our monthly electric bill so drastically at least one coal-miner will be forced into early retirement.
That means we're doing more felling and bucking than ever. So while we already own one Quilted Mill Shirt Jacket, it's time for another. Especially since Mr. Redford is currently dispensing them on such favorable terms we half-suspect we're being set up for some con. But all that Bulleit and Laphroaig is making us reckless so we're clicking the "Add to Bag" button. Let's just hope the only sting involved here, is the sting we'll be taking out of those cold January afternoons when we're wearing our new shirt jacket and splitting and stacking the day's bounty.
NB: Woolrich is sized large. If you are in between sizes order one down.
The 20 percent discount on this Todd Snyder topcoat may not seem like much of a deal by 2017 standards. But winter is coming — meteorologically and metaphorically. And we love the way this coat looks cozy enough for, say, a young Shelly Winters to sprawl on, while maintaining a cosmopolitan sleekness that will look right at home on the streets of Manhattan during the next polar vortex. Regularly $2598, now $1999 — the perfect price to usher in the year ahead!
Q: As a longtime reader of MB I was surprised to see you recommend wearing a tie around your waist to accessorize. Seems to me that's veering pretty close to trying to hard. I mean, you really think this is a good look? Take a look. —Charles
Our recommendation, on the other hand, was Joseph Kandell, who was laid off as a Barney's skinny tie, but then upskilled in NYC with D-rings and an Italian leather tab.
We're not saying this look is for everyone — our product copy states that "we figure maybe one in a thousand can wear these things successfully" — but given the right event and otherwise quiet dress, this accessory wins.
Q: I have my eye on a pair of those rabbit fur-lined gloves you endorse as an xmas gift to myself. I know it might not be totally MB to care about how the rabbit fur gets inside, but I've seen a couple of PETA rabbit fur videos and don't want any part of them if they're made using that technique. Please tell me they're free-range rabbits and are only used for glove lining after they die of natural causes. —Ben
A: Ben, would you like us to tell you that there's a Santa Claus too?
Sorry, we can't sugarcoat it. But at least the answer we can give you is not as awful as what you might be expecting after watching those videos, which document what PETA saw at some angora rabbit farms in China.
Here's what Fratelli Orsini told us when we asked about the source of the rabbit fur they use in the gloves:
The shell of the glove is Italian lambskin and the rabbit fur comes from either France or Belgium where rabbits are used as a food source and therefore the pelts are used for gloves and other garments.
In other words, if you're okay with wearing a leather belt that comes from a farm-raised cow that ended up as a hamburger, you might find the gloves acceptable too. If not, you will have to continue your quest for free-range fur. If you choose that course, let us know how it goes.
Q: I need guidance on dressing for a Christmas party. Unfortunately, dress code is unknown (and my girlfriend doesn't think this is a big deal) but this is my first time meeting any of her friends from outside of our mutual friends. All I know is that it's at the friends apartment in Manhattan and that he works for Facebook (so a broad gamut of possibilities exist...).
I was thinking of just layering a white button down with a cashmere v neck sweater and a blazer with some dark jeans, but I wanted backup. My most casual blazer is a black corduroy one that fits well, but no idea if that's MB approved. I would probably just go with a dark grey cotton blazer that I have instead. I want to be a little dressy, but without going overboard and I figure with the blazer I can ditch it right away if I'm overdressed.
Ended up rambling a bit, but any advice would be greatly appreciated! —Jeremy
Our gut instinct is to pair it with a pair of camel moleskin 5-pocket pants. These were once plentiful on the web but have inexplicably moved into endangered species territory. Did PETA think they were actually made from moles?
Anyhow, Bonobos has implemented a robust moleskin protection plan and still offers their Moleskin Jean in chestnut (in a ridiculous number of fit and size combinations), and this pair of pants will offer both leg-covering and ball-warming utility long after the party is over.
For footwear, we're still strongly in sneakerization mode, and in this case would likely opt for actual sneakers, like these minimalist Certain Victorys (formerly Hydrogen-1).
Finally, you mentioned nothing about accessorization and we feel like this outfit needs it. May we suggest disrupting the dressier choice of a tie around your neck, and try tying a tie around your waist instead with our own version, the Joseph Kandell. (Check out Joe's LinkedIn profile for details on his transition from Barney's skinny tie to middle-management support of vertical apparel installations such as moleskin jeans).
Above all, have fun, but don't get so shitfaced that your ridiculous Bulleit-fueled dance moves end up on a Facebook video. Not that we would know anything about that.
When Fidel Castro died last week, there was no question about what he'd be buried in. Over the last half century, Castro was one of the leading proponents of the Uniform Theory of Style, i.e., the idea that a man should pick a signature outfit and stick with it forever. In theory, this sends a variety of positive signals to the world. It says you're extremely sure of your choices and your identity. It says you have no time to devote to the mundane routines of day-to-day living. It makes you easy to spot in a crowd, or buy presents for. All good, and generally speaking, we think the Uniform Theory of Style is an acceptable, albeit fairly boring way to go, especially if, like Castro, you plan to live to 90.
Superman. An early adopter of the Uniform Theory of Style.
So if you ever start thinking about going this route, just remember, a uniform is like a tattoo. Once you commit, it's very hard and maybe even psychically impossible to change it. The sunk costs of a dozen cashmere mock turtlenecks and New Balance joggers were nothing to a billionaire like Steve Jobs, and yet once he committed to his unfortunate Dentist Casual look, he proved, for whatever reasons, incapable of an upgrade. The man who envisioned the future remained, on the level of personal aesthetics, stuck in 1988.
So how did Castro, who embraced the Uniform Theory of Style so literally he actually wore a uniform, fare on a relative basis? Better than Jobs. Better than Mr. Clean (too matchy-matchy), Superman (who gets points for his cape but loses them for synthetic fibers and a visible logo), and the Supreme Leader of Toolbag Nation (who tries to obscure his obesity behind a two-man suit-tent of super 100s wool).
And yet, still, not so good. For 50 years, Castro looked like he was wearing a sack of laundry. In our estimation, only Fred Flintstone, the Black Panthers, and the Patron Saint of the domain, Hugh Hefner, have truly pulled off the uniform look. It is a feat that's harder than it looks.
Q: I used to follow you guys religiously until the content dropped off a few years back. I assumed it was due to you solving all the world's problems and too many MB cocktails. Glad to see that is over.
Anyhow, now that's it's winter: camel overcoats. What's your take? — Josh
A: Josh, glad to have you back.
Once the first snowflake flies our outerwear is almost exclusively filled with goose feathers, yet we do admire the traditional camel overcoat because it adheres to some core MB principles:
Q: I bought some trousers a few years ago when I was just starting to dress myself like a grown-up. They're wearing out now, and I was wondering what brands you recommend for wool slacks in the $150–$200/pair range. It seems like all I can find while I'm searching are recommendations for budget brands for poor college newly-grads. — Bryson
A: Bryson, we suspect J. Crew is in the process of sending you a catalog a week for the next 20 years, because you sound like exactly the sort of customer they hope to corral. And truth be told, while we have railed against the Ludlowization of the Millennial suit market, we really have no objection to below-the-waist Ludlowization. The pants are fine once you eliminate the crease and there are a number of iterations in your price range.
Speculation has been running high about why Obama does, and the leading theory — that he does it to protect the ring from would-be thieves — makes no sense at all. First, he shakes hands with his right hand, not his left. Second, there's a reason you've heard of "pickpockets" but not "pickfingers" — it's much easier to lift a ring from the former rather than the latter.
But the notion that Obama has big plans for his First 100 Days out of office doesn't wash either. Even armed with those Trumpian ties and some Tic Tacs®, we just don't see him stepping out on Michelle any time soon. Which, as faithful readers have already no doubt deduced, leaves only one plausible explanation: The lame duck leader of the free world is finally adopting at least one Magnificent Bastard principle.
A: We could answer this very quickly, but this is important, so indulge us for a bit.
David Naman makes some of the highest style/price-ratio clothes in the world. But your assessment — "a little too thin" — is right on the nose. They are what we call "Keira Knightly thin." Which is to say, not alarmingly emaciated supermodel thin, but still a little narrow for our taste. We are longtime advocates of ties that are at least 3" wide, and lapels that echo them. For us, any blazer with a lapel narrower than 3" is catch-and-release.
More importantly, if you ever have a second thought about a sartorial purchase, follow a key MB principle and always return it, no matter what the price or savings. Keeping an item you're not thrilled with leads to regret, and regret — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but always inevitably — leads to a search for a red clothing dumpster that is not so overflowing with Dockers and Crocs that it can accommodate your cast-offs too. We cannot stress this enough: You can ultimately learn to adapt to the quirks, anomalies, and even deficiencies in other human beings, but your clothes and your shoes must be perfect. No compromises. When you compromise, you're stealing from yourself.
So are you going to return that blazer? Of course you are.
For years, I have been unable to find casual pants that offer an appropriate degree of slimness and rise. For background, I lift weights moderately and exercise regularly so I never feel like my thighs have enough room in most standard slim-fit pants (H&M, Uniqlo, Levi's, etc.) On top of that, most slim-fit pants I've tried are low rise which seem - at least to me - to be too constricting in the ..er.. crotch area, and leave me looking like a flat-assed teenager. The problem is that regular fit or straight fit pants invariably have a rather schlubby box fit below and above the thigh, which really becomes apparent after a few washes. What is the correct amount of slimness and rise in a pair of pants for an athletic MB, and where should I look for this elusive clothing. —George
A: George, have you considered skipping leg day?
We consider ourselves quite athletic and actually quite like to be a little bound through the thigh, and yes, even the crotch. We're not talking yoga-pant or needy girlfriend-level constriction here, just enough to feel vital, and remind us of why we bothered to ride 40 miles on a Saturday morning with a hangover so raging it felt like our head was the victim of an Andrew W.K. drum solo.
If that's not your thing, we don't judge. It's just that finding a stylish higher-rise pant with ample thigh room and a non-boxy fit through the thigh is like finding a Trump supporter who can actually afford to spend a night in a Trump hotel.
One suggestion, besides the simple, yet unacceptable solutions of parachute pants or Zubaz, is AG's "Graduate" fit. They're a little fuller through the thigh and still end up at just 7.75" at the ankle, a full ½" narrower than the Levi's 514 equivalent. Give them a try and let us know what you think
How much longer can I get away with wearing white pants? With global warming in full swing I'm thinking Columbus Day. What brand of white pants should I wear now? —Best, Aaron.
A: While Earth has warmed since we last addressed this issue in 2011, we adhere to our advice that white is OK up until the end of the MLB regular season — check the schedule — or until it's still warm enough to have sex outside, whichever is later.
However, recognizing that this is a big country spanning many latitudes — a white pants end date should be different if you live in Fargo or Flagstaff — we added an important corollary to our White Pants Doctrine, and allow an additional 5-day window for each latitudinal degree your location is south of 44° N. Until we create a Google Maps app to show this, the above map shall suffice.
In short, Aaron, depending on where you live, your Columbus Day deadline may be right on the money. Or if you're south of the Mason Dixon line you're abandoning white pants potentially a month too soon. Please look at the map. If you have any questions let us know.
As for brand of white pants, we go primarily for denim these days and can strongly endorse the Uniqlo Selvedge Slim-Fit Jean. Now on sale for $34.90, we're pretty confident in saying they're the best white selvedge denim value on the market. Vanity waist sizing in effect.
Last spring we recommended ASOS white polo shirts as an option for disposable knitwear when it's all but guaranteed to suffer a 100 percent casualty rate amidst the chaos of summer leisuring. While the ASOS shirts have deflated to $16.50 from $18.00 in the past 18 months, we've found an even better option for Indian Summer 2016 and Regular Summer 2017: New Look.
They share the same athletic-but-not-binding fit, have printed tags, and also a pedigree; previously-purchased New Look gear has been well made and rugged. The best part: they're 13 bucks.
The only downside is the increased level of first-world guilt. While the ASOS shirts are made in Indonesia, New Look polos are made in Bangladesh, which makes Indonesian production look like a Hermès factory. We've found the best solution for dealing with this issue is consuming an additional ½ Magnificent Bastard cocktail.
Fresh off July's disastrous departure from Marine One, this week President Barack Obama bounced back with perhaps his best Marine One exit yet. Yes, his pants still have creases. Yes, his sleeves are rolled below the elbow. And yes, he is still wearing a wedding ring. But he's ditched the white crewneck undershirt, and even displayed a measurable degree of artful dishevelment, a core MB principle. In fact, we believe this is the first time in his presidency that he's worn a woven with two buttons undone.
We're about 99% sure that last statement is true, but will happily be proven wrong in order to give stuff away. The first reader to send us a photo of Barack Obama as president in a woven shirt with two buttons unbuttoned wins their choice of an MB tie or an MB wallet. Send your proof to firstname.lastname@example.org today!
Hey folks, I recently popped the question to my longtime girlfriend, and for some reason, she said yes.
I would love to marry the woman of my dreams in an equally incredible tuxedo. I have no clue where to start, but I want something cool and classic with a pop. Money is an object, but the right suiting is worth it. Be my sherpas and (please!) point me in a direction. —Mike
A: Mike, we are both honored and humbled that you would ask us for advice on what might be the biggest mistake day of your life.
We adhere to our 2008 stance and say a wedding tuxedo should be able to stand a 100 year test of time. While it's been only 8 years since we recommended the classic Ralph Lauren peak lapel version, it looks as good now as it did when John McCain was running for president.
The only catch is it's $1,395, up from $1,350. There is bigger value to be had.
Until ASOS and UNIQLO start making tuxedos, we shall rely on YOOX, where there is an additional 25% off through August 26. Here are some suggestions that meet our style requirements:
All of these options are fairly similar, aesthetics-wise, so choose the one that's the best fit for your wallet and your torso. If you're feeling symbolic, give extra consideration to the DSquared2, which is 5 percent elastane. Normally, we're against synthetics, but any marriage built for the long haul can always use a tiny amount of stretch.
Apply your savings towards your shoes, shirt, tie, and if you want a good deal on groomsmen gifts, we'll be happy to work something out to help you celebrate your big day.
Best of luck to you and your new bride, and let us know what you end up deciding on.
Q: Hi, I was wondering why the post about the reformulated Kiehl's Facial Fuel SPF 15 from last year is no longer on the site... Have they changed it back to the previous version? Asking hopefully... —Ben
A: No, last year's post about Kiehl's Facial Fuel is still here, and no, Kiehl's has ignored the angry mob and defiantly stuck with their version of New Coke. Meanwhile, fans have resorted to trying an online petition to bring back the old formula:
Review: how many negative reviews of this new formula will it take for a response from the company? should i start a change.org campaign? the new spf facial fuel is thick and disgusting! it smells and feels like cr*p!
We have long since pivoted to Neutrogena's sunscreen + Retinol Age Fighter Face Moisturizer with sunscreen SPF 15. In spite of the burn, at just $8.92 an ounce this is the best value in a sunscreen + age-fighting combo. (Not counting a bottle of Bulleit, of course.)
Q: Any recommendations for a brand of Nato straps for my watch? There are a ton of companies/versions out there now. —Chris
A: Yes, by our accounting there are now are at least as many online NATO watch strap sellers as there are NATO member states!
We've had very good luck with one of them, named, aptly, NATO Strap Co.. They offer a wide variety of quality straps, a 30% discount when you order 5 or more, and frequent promotions. And while they don't have naming or storytelling elan or quite like "The Buscemi" or "The Pretty Nice Rack," they do at least attempt differentiation on what's essentially become a commodity item with "The Black Ops" and "The Inmate."
This award goes to Henrik Stenson, Champion Golfer of the Year, who discarded his toolbag long-sleeve Hugo Boss synthetic mock turtleneck underwear on the 17th tee, just in time to hoist the Claret Jug in a polo. It's the best sartorial move in the 145-year history of the tournament. Well done Henrik.
Given the alternatives, we wager President Obama would have a credible shot at overturning the 22nd Amendment this fall. But apparently he has higher aspirations than a third term. Comments he made in a Bloomberg interview suggest he may be contemplating a career as a venture capitalist or Silicon Valley CEO.
The President says his interest in science and organization would correlate well with a new life in Silicon Valley. For us, though, it's the outfit he wore when returning from his recent trip to Europe that shows how perfectly ill-suited he is for the highest echelons of high-tech.
In this expert take on Partners Meeting Casual, the President compresses so many awful touches into a single ensemble we imagine he must have access to some fashion-centric version of the Pied Piper platform. While he may not be ready to compete with Zuck or Larry Page yet, we'll certainly put him up against, say, John Doerr or Jeff Bezos. As soon as he ditches that helicopter for a Tesla, that is.
What's wrong exactly? Here's our quick assessment, with links to where we've covered these issues in the past:
Q: I need an exceptional black tie for a funeral this Saturday; it will be paired with a black Hardy Amies suit, white shirt, black shoes. Can you help? Sounds simple but a classy black tie is not that easy to find. Sorry such short notice. —Cristian
A: We understand your dilemma. A black tie sounds simple, but you want to look like Bobby Kennedy — or even Ted — not the lead singer for The Knack or a Halloween mobster. Especially at a funeral. What that means is nothing too shiny, nothing too skinny, nothing too wide.
Our first choice is this Lanvin — which weighs in at the exactly proper MB tie width of 3⅛ — but there's only one left. So either act fast or be prepared to settle for this Brooks Brothers number — which will do in a pinch but does not quite possess the strikingly generic elan of the Lanvin. So we say act fast.
Q: Want to get your expert opinion on a blazer I'm looking at for a summer wedding in a few days. It's between this Vineyard Vines version (I would not go as preppy as the guy in the picture), this one from Golden Goose, and finally this one from MM by Mariomatteo. What you say, o' Fashionistas? —Jamie
A: Let's break these down using a modified PMI Chart.
Here is 56-year-old Joachim Loew, head coach of the German national team, during today's European Championship game against Ukraine. As you can see, Loew's compression tee is age-inappropriate, waist-inappropriate, and pit-inappropriate — which is a lot of violations to pack into a single t-shirt. We're not sure what he's celebrating, but we're hoping it's an emergency antiperspirant air-drop.
Over the years, Rick Owens has won our grudging admiration for his seemingly inexhaustible ability to create ludicrous menswear. Case in point: These "cargo sandals," which to our eye look like an ugly sports wallet/blood-pressure cuff roosting on a orthopedic forearm splint, which in turn is built on a foamy, Croc-likes sole as imagined by the set designer of Saw III.
As aesthetically awful as they are, what puts them over the top for us is the paradoxical illogic of their ostensible utility. Our contention: Any man who would ever consider wearing cargo pockets on his ankles would in fact already be wearing cargo shorts with more pockets than anyone wearing shorts should ever need. So why would he require even more carrying capacity?
We have two theories here.
1) These sandals are designed for ambivalent nudists, who are drawn to their capacity to both carry a wallet and keys and also distract attention from the fact that the wearer is otherwise naked. With these sandals, we're fairly certain, you could walk buck-naked into a boardroom and everyone's primary response would be, "What the fuck are you wearing on your feet?"
2) Rick Owens is a crazy genius whose thought processes we should not even attempt to decipher.
Currently we are learning toward the second option and starting to think about Rick Owens in a new way. While we continue to maintain that you should never ever wear his most ridiculousofferings, it has crossed our minds that we should begin to collect some of these things as a kind of conceptual art, for display inside sterile vitrines that we would surreptitiously install into, say, Lars Ulrich's man cave.
The takeaway: If these sandals drop from their current sale price of $457.50 to $300 or below, we may put our plans into action.
Mezcal Rob Roy
1 oz mezcal (Del Maguey Chichicapa)
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
Stir all ingredients over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.