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!
While we're not about to revive our Monday Morning Quarterback feature — that was like doing two-a-days before the Collective Bargaining Agreement — we will occasionally highlight highs and lows from the NFL post-game press conferences.
Loser: He's in his fourth year in the league and Andrew Luck still has no clue on how to deal with a zone blitz nor a post-game presser. Son, you're never going to win a Super Bowl looking like a worse-dressed version of the Geico caveman.
Winner: Tom Brady threw two 4th quarter TDs in a win over the Jets, but both of those touchdowns pale in comparison to this MVP-level display of trench collar artful dishevelment. This is how you do it.
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.
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.
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.
Sometime last year, the data scientists at Trivago figured out a simple metric for identifying potential customers: If you can't afford a belt, you probably are in the market for a good deal on a hotel room. Thus, an advertising campaign was born. In a commercial that started airing last year, a pitchman who would ultimately become known as Trivago Guy began captivating television viewers. Bedraggled, bleary-eyed, and, to connect with the target audience, beltless, Trivago Guy looks like he has spent the last 20 years draining hotel room mini-bars dry while leaving the pillows untouched. And yet who can deny the easygoing but absolute assurance he projects when explaining what to look for in an online hotel reservation service?
#trivagoGuy, in short, was a hit. But now that he has apparently captured the unshaven-and-beltless traveler demographic, Trivago has decided to give him a makeover. Share a photo of what he should look like on social media, and you can win a five-day trip to Berlin.
In the old days, of course, only new CEOs were allowed to wreck winning ad campaigns. Now, thanks to the democritization of media, we all can.
We think our Adam Smith Cashmere belt in Chocolate Sandwich Cookie is exactly what Trivago Guy needs to perfect his look. And to emphasize this fact, we're having a sale, from now through August 30, or until we run out of belts, whichever comes first. Regular price $90. Sale price $50, shipping included. We're sure Trivago Guy himself would approve — he knows a deal when he sees one.
Q: I'm so glad to see you guys back and actively posting again. You all are hilarious!
I recently got my first metal/bracelet watch, and I'm not sure how loose or tight to wear it. I generally wear my leather strap watches relatively snug, but I saw someone at work with a suit wearing their metal bracelet watch much lower. It looked pretty cool going along with the rest of the cuff game. I wanted to ask, is a low-slung watch MB, or just sloppy? —Bill
A: We hate to disappoint a longtime reader, but you asked, and we can only offer our honest opinion. Even by its name — you tellingly called it a metal bracelet — your new acquisition falls into the category of jewelry. Check out our jewelry channel to see what we think about jewelry, but the short answer is that 95 percent of what we spend on jewelry is intended for some woman's neck, ears, or nipples.
As for wearing a metal bracelet loosely, our feeling is that this just compounds the error. We grant that such calculated sloppiness might be viewed as artful dishevelment, but for us it just conjures hazy but unpleasant memories of handcuffs.
Our ultimate advice: Nip this metal bracelet phase in the bud and stick to your leather straps (organic materials principle). And while we're giving out watch-wearing advice, a reminder. Keep the watch case to 40mm or less.
We want to get a special gift for my son's 21st birthday. We are thinking a leather messenger bag. Recommendations? —Erik
First, pour you and your son a couple of MBs. Then, sit down and have an important conversation about the virtues of forbearance. Why are you having this conversation now? Because we're about to recommend a bag that is currently out of stock.
It's from Billykirk, and it's called the No. 236 Schoolboy Satchel. We specifically like this version in Brown Dublin leather from Horween. Which unfortunately sold out very quickly and is now out of stock.
We think the name is a bit of misnomer. These days, schoolboys tend to carry Cordura backpacks, or if they're on the path to MB-dom, maybe waxed canvas. All-leather bags, on the other hand, are generally a hallmark of adulthood. And not just adulthood. To our eye, most all-leather briefcases read as "middle-aged banker."
That's why we like the No. 236 so much. It projects substantially more maturity and sense of purpose than a backpack does. But it still has an obvious sense of play about it. And it's not too big, so it's impossible to weigh yourself down with this bag. Finally, the No. 236 in Brown Dublin has an especially artfully disheveled look to it, which we obviously appreciate. All of these factors make it perfect for a 21-year-old, and worth the wait until it's available again.
That might be a while — we have asked Billykirk if there is a target restock date and will update this post if we hear anything. But the No. 236 in Brown Dublin has a timeless style. Indeed, in 30 years or so, we suspect it will be something your son will be able to hand down to his own 21-year-old. So we encourage you to encourage him to take the long view. And in the meantime, pour yourselves another MB. The days, months, and years go fast.
UPDATE: We've received a reply from Billykirk: "We may be releasing a few more of the Dublin in the coming weeks, but we are currently working with a new leather for the Spring season. These should release online towards the end of March."
Based on this news, our advice remains largely the same: Wait. More specifically, sign up for the Notify Me When Available option on the Brown Dublin page, then wait. If the new Spring season version appears before the Brown Dublin does, who knows? Maybe it will also be a viable option.
If you and/or your son absolutely can't wait — and simultaneously have truly long-term patience, J. Crew is selling a version of the No. 236. It lacks the overt artful dishevelment and rich character of the Brown Dublin version — but it is available immediately. And a decade or so of hard use will undoubtedly improve its richness and resonance.
As our archives can tell you, we don't necessarily think bow ties should be illegal or even heavily regulated. But we do think you should wear them only in certain situations, namely summer weddings and black tie.
That said, we love this beaver fur bow tie from Vanities. In general, bow ties aim to convey the wearer's unique sense of style in a playful, unexpected, and attention-getting way, usually by using bright colors and/or vivid patterns. This fur bow tie, however, is simultaneously over-the-top and engagingly understated.
Also, as we have counseled in the past, artful dishevelment is a must when it comes to bow ties. And this one has the artful dishevelment built right in.
Even on sale at Barney's Warehouse, it's a little pricey. But don't think of it as a $169 bow tie. Think of it as the only bow tie in the world that can credibly double as a luxury shaving brush.
Q: At a cocktail party last night, an acquaintance pointed out that the lacing on my trusty oxfords was mismatched: the right shoe, straight bar (courtesy of the shoe shop) and the left, crisscross (courtesy of me). Before I correct this four-years-old case of absentmindedness, I thought I should consult MB. What is your recommendation for lacing methods, lace type and end length? (And just what is your thought on the bi-color lacing I see in the magazines?) —Brian
There is a thin line between senseless lack of utility and trying too hard, and it can be found at Ian's Shoelace Site. While we admire attention to detail in unexpected places as much as anyone, we also have a thing for simplicity. Nine out of ten times we do Criss Cross or Display Shoe. With a dressier shoe we'll sometimes mix in Straight Bar, which requires a bit more effort for its streamlined effect but isn't so complicated that we suddenly feel like we're crocheting instead of getting dressed.
Specific lace types depend on the shoe, of course. We like natural laces (cotton, rawhide) over synthetic options, and stay away from any lace that's fat enough to qualify as a skinny tie.
Regarding end length, Professor Shoelace's obsession is instructive here. As his illustration suggests, a 10-inch end length leaves with you a fairly neat bow, and a 12-inch end length crosses into droopiness. For maximum artful dishevelment, we aim for 11 inches.
As for bi-color lacing, we classify that the same way we do dressing up for Halloween: Best left to children and chain-restaurant waitstaff.
Combining our love of chronic traumatic encephalopathy-inducing bloodsport (aka, the NFL) with our passion for style, we present the first in a regular series.
Each week we break down the postgame press conference film and pick the best and worst-performing quarterbacks from around the league. We take their actual Passer Rating, multiply it by the proprietary Magnificent Bastard Dresser Rating, to arrive at their Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating.
Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating: 134.6
NFL quarterback or professor at University of Phoenix (if they had professors)? Palmer is the MB Player of the Week thanks to his unstructured, heartily-lapeled corduroy blazer and studied artful dishevelment. This is how we dress.
We admire Fitzpatrick because he was doing the lumberjack, er, lumberback for years before the look was in vogue. And because he recorded the highest-ever Wonderlic score by a quarterback. Yet he shows the pitfalls involved in wearing a machine-washed fused-collar shirt, and his lapels need to hit the weight room.
Who put Shaggy in a suit? MB coaching tip: If you bear a striking resemblance to a 1970s cartoon character, avoid Peyton Manning's "Toner Cartridge Sales Rep" look and go for a post-game look with a little more grooviness, like this.
Q: Not an ask so much as a heads up. Noted this month's Esquire advises to NEVER roll sleeves above the elbow. It seems to be a sincere attempt at advice, unfortunately. —Robert
A: Yes we saw that too (right) on page 78 of the June/July issue. Esquire is an odd case. On the one hand, in the Spring 2012 Big Black Book, fashion director Nick Sullivan wrote the most timely and insightful essay on suits we've ever read (not online, unfortunately). On the other hand, Sullivan and his staff hit at about the Mendoza Line when dispensing style advice.
Anyhow, back to sleeve rolling. Take a look at the images below and decide for yourself where to stop the roll.
Q: What's your take on eyebrow maintenance? The unibrow is something to be avoided at all costs but there seems to be a lack of guidance on the subject in terms of the well-groomed male. —Cam
A: Agreed that the unibrow should be avoided, though a few of our favorite Muppets make it work.
Just as we outsource cutting the grass and trimming the shrubs to lawn care professionals, we also recommend outsourcing eyebrow maintenance to your hair care professional. No manscaping here — that's a violation of the artful dishevelment principle — you want just enough deforestation so you don't end up looking like George W. Bush in the Navy pilot or blow years.
Any decent salon (and even a barbershop or two) has warm wax at the ready and can tidy up that patch of real estate in seconds. Simply ask for the service and tip well. It lasts for about four weeks, roughly the same time between haircuts, which is a convenient coincidence.
Q: What's your opinion of dress shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt? —Chase
A: Regular readers know we're raging Anglophiliacs but there are some notable exceptions, like the food, the Windsor knot, and the shirts from Jermyn Street menswear outfitters like Charles Tyrwhitt.
Besides the Windsor knot-ready collar design, their shirts all look far too neat due to the stiff, fused interlinings that inhibit artful dishevelment, an MB principle even more dear than Anglophilia.
By contrast, dress shirts with sewn interlinings (or no interlining at all) aren't just more comfortable, they lend themselves to AD, their collars sometimes taking on as much personality as the person wearing them.
To see what we mean, take a look at Cary Grant's shirt collar in North by Northwest, shot before the invention of fusing. In our view, Grant's shirt from this movie should be equally as revered and admired as his Kilgour suit or Persol sunglasses.
A: We never button our cardigans, except for the walk home from the Pulaski bar scene on a chilly night when we will ineptly button them off by one button, and if we've had enough Magnificent Bastard cocktails, two.
Q: What are your thoughts on a shirt and tie with no jacket? The internet style-forum consensus seems to be a resounding no, unless you work in a mail room or are a Jehovah's Witness; but it is still a look one sees all the time (not that that's necessarily an argument in its favor, of course). But if it is so wrong to wear a shirt and tie without a jacket, why do people take off the jacket? Does having the jacket nearby magically change the look of the outfit? If so, at what distance is that magical connection lost? The next desk over? A different floor? Do certain jackets maintain the connection over further distances from others? Thanks! —Ed
A: Ed, forget about the distance your jacket is from your body and focus instead on properly artfully disheveling your shirt and tie.
We agree with the hoi polloi that when you wear only a shirt buttoned to the top with buttoned cuffs and a snugly-tied tie, it looks like either a.) something is missing, or b.) something is missing and you're about to go preaching door-to-door.
So don't wear only a shirt buttoned to the top with buttoned cuffs and a snugly-tied tie. Undo the buttons and roll up the sleeves. Loosen the tie knot and turn it to a side. Does Paul Newman look concerned that he's missing something? Joe Paterno, on the other hand, is super pissed off he can't find his jacket.
Q: Do you know of any retailers (online or otherwise) that stock the TST sneaker collection? Apart from YOOX (which only offers selected items of previous collections) and tstshoes.com (which seems to be a Spanish-based site not directly affiliated with the company) I have a hard time finding any retailer that sells those shoes.
It's nice that you recommend them but I can't seem to find them anywhere (except for small sale stock)
Editor's note: This is one of many emails regarding finding TST shoes. Good luck.
A: Jeff, finding TST shoes can be as hard as finding a stripper with real breasts, which is definitely part of the appeal that goes beyond their artfully disheveled styling. We used to see them at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, but frankly YOOX has been our supplier of late. No, they're not going to be the latest versions but YOOX has lots of options at discounted prices.
If you're looking for the 2011 F/W collection — which is terrific, BTW — we've discovered that part of it is going to be available later this week at LA retailer Qio which specializes in clothing, footwear, and accessories from Japan. They've ordered the 2039F (top), the 813L (middle), and the 3039L (bottom). They won't be available on the Qio web site so email or call Masako at 310-979-3555 to get into a pair. (They run small so add a size.)
Q: What does the MB think about baldness? Obviously not George Costanza bald, but shaving one's head completely. It comes off as kind-of-MB-ish, potentially, but also frat-boy-ish. Where's the needle on the MB-meter when it comes to a completely shaved head? —Andrew
A: There are a couple things to keep in mind when you're thinking about shaving your head as smooth as a bowling ball. First, does your naked head actually look like a bowling ball? Hair hides a lot of flaws, including asymmetrical facial features, funny-shaped skulls, below-average eyebrows, etc. Even a little hair can help a little bit — when you shave it all off, you may end up calling more attention to aspects of your appearance you'd prefer to keep less visible.
Second, the smooth-shaven look requires a lot of maintenance. That's one reason that we've advocated for a less aggressively shorn look for bald men in the past. That, plus the fact that there's a pretty good chance you're going to end up looking like a penis, a white supremacist, or a magician. Which is not to say that the full Savalas can't work for some men. As our guide below shows, the closer your shaved head looks to a large brown egg, the better your chances of success.
How do I keep my dress shirts tucked in to like a model? Shirts look great in photos and then they get all puffy and bunched up around the waist in no time flat. —James
A: Roughly 66 percent of American men are overweight and about 25 percent are obese. Meanwhile, 100 percent of male models either have a six-pack, anemia, or both. (Plus-sized models are a strictly female phenomenon as far as we know.)
But while off-the-rack shirtmakers are happy to perpetuate oppressive ideals of masculinity (yes, we're totally joking) when creating their print ads, catalogs, and websites, they have to tailor their shirts to that tubby 66 percent if they want to make any money. If you're fit, which it sounds like you are, these shirts are going to make you look like you finished third in the latest season of The Biggest Loser (i.e., you lost some weight, but not enough to finish in the money and purchase a new wardrobe).
What we've been getting into since our feature on custom dress shirts is, well, custom dress shirts. Our current fave is Chicago-based Deo Veritas run by Vinnie Sikka. They've got top quality fabrics and construction, and we've tweaked our dimensions to perfection, which for us is slim through the torso but leaving just enough excess to easily achieve artful dishevelment.
Q: Hi - my brother is one of the groomsmen in a wedding and they are all being told they are wearing tan linen suits, white shirts and some sort of colorful tie (Florida wedding). He knows how you stand on linen, but doesn't have much choice here and is wondering what kind of white shirt goes with a linen suit. Linen? Regular dress shirt? I have to admit, I have no idea. —Gabriela
A: Gabriela, definitely not a linen shirt. That's like the wedding equivalent of the Canadian tuxedo, aka denim on denim. And as everyone knows, you should only wear denim on denim if you're feeling lucky, punk.
What the wedding party needs is lightweight 100% cotton shirts with sewn collar and cuff interlinings, which will complement linen with their natural, artfully disheveled look. Dress shirts with fused interlinings are almost always too neat in our opinion, but they are an especially bad match with wrinkled linen suits, kind of like the shirt-suit equivalent of Crystal Harris and Hugh Hefner.
We know you didn't ask about the ties, but if you have any pull with the groom please insist they absolutely not be silk. Again, too shiny/smooth of a contrast with the linen's matte/nubs. Go for linen or a linen-cotton blend.
Q: Dear MB — What are your thoughts on a suit that has patch pockets on the jacket? I'm considering a blue Margiela suit that I will wear for business, but it has patch pockets and I'm wondering if this is too casual? —George
A: No, not too casual unless you're a banker, undertaker, 13-year-old boy, or U.S. senator. (It's definitely OK in the House.)
We love suits with jackets with patch pockets for at least three reasons.
1. Casual suits lend themselves to artful dishevelment 2. Casual suits lend themselves to more interesting tie, belt, and footwear choices than their dressier counterparts 3. With the addition of a few other pieces you can practically get a whole wardrobe out of separating a casual suit
Wear the blazer with denim, or for an especially good look, white jeans or trousers. If you're really good, shorts. Presumably the suit pants are in a similarly casual vein as the jacket, so you'll be able to wear them with a sweater, a sport shirt, or even a polo. While it has its place in board rooms, Bar Mitzvahs, and the Capitol Building, the traditional flap-pocket wool suit can't touch this.
Q: I agree with your posts regarding the sport-shirts-untucked-from-pants plight. To push the point, however, what about shorts? I tend to tuck the shirt, yet sometimes I'm tempted to untuck it. I'm almost sure you'll say no good, but is this at least less bad? —Chris
A: Your instincts are on point, Chris. We are not fans of dress shorts, shorts with ties and wingtips, or any other look that might have people wondering if your work pants got amputated at the dry cleaners. For us, shorts are emphatically casual, so you'd think we'd be more open to untucking. And we are, sort of. With shorts, we like the partial tuck, which is to say, artful dishevelment.
How do you make it work? First, make sure that your shirt, be it a polo or a woven, is cut appropriately. If the fabric that falls beneath your belt-line is abundant enough to make a placemat, it's cut too long! If there's barely enough fabric showing to make, say, a bandana, then it's cut right.
Now that you're wearing the right shirt, tuck it in entirely, and pretend like you're a hailing a cab on a busy Manhattan street. Extend your arm, wave vigorously and impatiently. If you do this right, this should dislodge your shirt just enough to give the desired effect. And you're ready to go.
Q: MB: Based on your recommendation, I have been wearing the Persol PO0714 sunglasses. For all their moving parts, they have held up well. However, the silver hinges where the temples fold in half has become tarnished. I have asked an authorized dealer and looked on their website without any luck. Do you have any recommendations? —Erich
A: Don't do anything rash — that bug's a feature! Tarnish is just nature's way of achieving artful dishevelement. While we don't necessarily welcome it on our soup spoons, we think a little looks great on a pair of Persols.
Now, if your silver hinges have turned black or are crusting up, that's another story. In that case, our glasses expert tells us that jeweler's rouge, applied via a cotton buffing wheel (which itself is attached to a grinding wheel), should do the trick. A good optician should offer this service.
Late last summer we crowned TST our all-time favorite sneakers, and the intervening 9 months have done nothing to curb our enthusiasm for these hand-sketched, hand-finished shoes by designer Seishi Tanaka (pictured). We now own two pairs of the sneakers, two pairs of the boots, and are putting our Chucks on injured reserve.
These are the best Japanese export since the Walkman.
Q: While rolling my sleeves above the elbow just seems natural to me, I find myself wondering how high they should be rolled? I've noticed you endorsed Alex Rodriguez's above the bicep rolling, but that seems like showing off the biceps a little too much, which would violate the MB rule of understatement. —Brian
A: In hindsight we acknowledge the Alex Rodriguez post too strongly endorsed his excessively high sleeve rolling in our haste to make a joke about him still being on the juice. We regret that we may have misled some readers into inappropriate bicep/tricep exposure, and would like to take this opportunity to offer some more thoughts on the subtle art of sleeve-rolling.
As we explained in our initial post on this topic, you want the sleeve to end up enough over your elbow to give a phlebotomist a clear shot at your medial cubital vein. But don't get carried away. A good phlebotomist doesn't need a lot of room in which to work.
Q: I'll be traveling across the pond to see Wimbledon next month and I'd like to strike a balance between artful dishevelment and weather preparedness. What would you suggest in the way of light outerwear that would be appropriate for Centre Court and/or tea with William and Kate? —Eric
A: An obvious choice is the classic and almost entirely logo-free "Made in England" Baracuta Harrington G9. It's got a touch of Teflon to repel the inevitable rain delay, and it has long been the choice of stylish Yanks (McQueen, Sinatra) adept at adding a note of elegance to even the most casual look. But it doesn't offer much in the way of artful dishevelment or surprise. Kate will be bored.
Instead, we recommend this bonded blouson, a collaboration between iconic British brand Barbour and Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida. Barbour's almost as old as Wimbledon itself, and holds three royal warrants for its waterproof and protective clothing. (What, you don't know what a royal warrant is? Brush up on your Anglophilia.)
Tokihito infuses Barbour's classic style with some 21st century urban streamlining. With their traditional abundance of pockets, buckles, and heavy waxed cotton, much of Barbour's stock is a little too busy for us. But this collaboration is strikingly pared down, retaining just enough flaps and buttons and zipper pulls to provide some texture for the artful dishevelment you seek.
Note: Prices on this range from $245 to $450, so shop around.
Q: We know the MB views linen suits as having too much dishevelment regardless of any artfulness. And this MB agrees. But now Indochino offers suits that are 55% linen and 45% cotton. Does this blend allow them to avoid the problems of shape retention and excessive wrinkling? Please advise. —James
Q: Does the warning against linen apply to shirts as well as to pants? —Jerry
A: Every year about this time we're asked whether there's any sort of special dispensation for wearing linen given our feature Linen: It Sucks. Not really.
Don't be seduced by models wearing perfectly puckered linen shirts. Linen shirts are made out of the same thing as linen pants: Linen. And thus they fall prey to the same problems, veering disastrously from artful dishevelment to plain dishevelment within minutes of wearing.
As for the suit, we've previously argued that whatever material linen is blended with, that material must retain at least a 51% ownership stake. The Indochino suit misses this requirement by 6 percent. While it may not wrinkle as fast as, say, 37-year-old Kate Moss, it will still wrinkle faster than you'd like, even if it never touches a cigarette.
Where is 50%+ linen OK? Whenever the article in question is not expected to sheathe entire limbs — scarves, pocket squares, dinner party napkins, or ties like this black and almost-white gingham from Nashville, TN tiemaker Otis James are all acceptable.
Yesterday at 3:08PM ET we, along with the three major US tours, observed a moment of silence for the death of Seve Ballesteros.
He was one of our favorites, less for his swashbuckling golfing style and more for his understated sartorial style.
Nearly 20 years before Tiger Woods adopted the Sunday red, and before Ricky Fowler and his Sunday orange were even born, Ballesteros invented the Sunday uniform, choosing a white, artfully disheveled polo underneath a blue v-neck and dark pants.
Hoisting the Claret Jug after winning the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.
Few things go well with the green jacket, but this worked in 1983.
He was ahead of his time with the fist pump, too, winning the Open at St. Andrews in 1984.
The last of his majors, again at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in 1988.
Q: Bow Ties? Bastardly or schmuck? Thanks fellas. —Fidel
A: In their February, 2008 issue, GQ declared bow ties back, and we declared them MB-appropriate only for summer weddings (in madras) and black tie.
More than three years later, GQ's recommendation has finally been adopted by top-rated NFL prospects, as two of the top 13 picks wore bow ties on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in what we believe to be the first-ever bow tie sightings at an NFL draft. #6 pick Julio Jones wore one that looked like a silver version of a Chippendale's pre-tied (top), and #13 pick Nick Fairley wore a paisley BT that, while clearly hand-tied, was still far too neat (middle).
Of all men's accessories, it's the bow tie that demands strictest adherence to the MB principle of artful dishevelment. Perfect bilateral symmetry should be reserved for breasts and butterflies.
To properly tie a bow tie, first drink three martinis very quickly. Then, close your eyes and follow the instructions from the guide below. When you're finished, your tie should be noticeably askew, with uneven ends and at least one of the rear loops exposed, as Winston Churchill (215 lbs., 6.5 second 40, never drafted) demonstrates (bottom).
If you do have an event that calls for a bow tie, one of our grandfathers gave us this "how to tie a bow tie" guide that came in handy as young lads when we wanted to learn how to do it.
Golf is a gentleman's game. If you work up a sweat, you're working too hard. Go back to the driving range and smooth out your swing. There's no need for performance polyester polos, ever.
For thirty years Bill Murray has been quietly -- albeit in a visually loud way -- preaching this gospel. As far as we can tell, he is the only golfer of note -- pro or amateur -- who consistently wears long-sleeved wovens on the course. Don't let thehats that even Tyler Perry wouldn't wear distract you. Don't be put off by the fact that he invariably looks like a sack of dirty laundry when teeing off. Style-wise, he ends up in bunkers and hazards more than Charles Barkley, but his allegiance to the long-sleeved woven -- starting with his iconic turn as Carl Spackler in Caddyshack and continuing through his first Pebble Beach victory yesterday -- is as straight and true as a Tiger Woods drive (back when he was good).
Yesterday Bubba Watson won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He has a driver with a hot pink shaft and buttons his polo shirts like he should be wearing a tie (note the N-2 rule), but give the man credit for recognizing the value of wearing a visor when one has a full head of long hair. This look (bottom) is at arfully disheveled as his golf swing.
Q: What are your views on the T-shirt under casual unbuttoned shirt look? Thanks for your insight. --James
A: We're not saying no one can pull this off, ever, but in general our take is too much dishevelment and not enough artfulness. Case in point: we imagine that there are very few photos in which Kurt Cobain looks like the goofiest member of Nirvana, but here you see one of them (top), and Cobain's shirt-and-tshirt combo is definitely a contributing factor.
Q: I have interviews coming up with some consulting firms which, oddly enough, identify strongly with their corporate colors. I'm thinking of doing some tie/firm color matching, but will it come off as clever and detailed, or is it a one way ticket to toolbagville? --Pete
A: Pete, this is a little like interviewing for a job at McDonald's wearing the tie worn by The Hamburglar. Don't do it. TTH and more than a little weird. Instead, invest in something you would want to wear after you land the job. Minneapolis-based Pierrepont Hicks makes great ties as does long-time MB favorite Mountain and Sackett. Another good find is Nashville-based Otis James, a cool dude who will make you a custom cashmere tie for $165. His woven linen 00502xx has been spectacular.
(While we don't endorse Hamburglar's tie, we do endorse its width and the artfully dishevelled way he leaves the narrow end longer than the wide end.)
Q: Earmuffs. I don't think you've mentioned a thing about these. I see lots of suited lobbyists (toolbags) here in DC touting the 180s, though they seem like a better option compared to grandma earmuffs. What are your thoughts? Let the ears freeze? Mess up my hair with a hat that does the job? --Jay
A: On January 21, 1961, John F. Kennedy took the oath of office in 22° weather and didn't wear a hat or scarf or earmuffs. Nor did Lyndon Johnson, and he was practically bald!
Not to mention the fact that you've also got fifty years of global warming working in your favor. We checked the latest 10-day forecast for DC -- there's nothing lower than 34° for a high over the next ten days.
But if you reckon you're not as hardy as either JFK or LBJ, forget the earmuffs and go with a cashmere hat which is warm, soft, and delivers a perfectly artfully disheveled head of hair every time.
It's really unfortunate Barney's CO-OP has labeled this $65 cashmere hat a "basic skully" because "skully" gives off negative vibes associated with TTH urban hipsters and age-inappropriately styled NFL quarterbacks. This is simply an excellent "winter hat," in cashmere, that strongly lends itself to artful dishevelment and fits nothing like a skully.
Speaking of the NFL, in handicapping lingo this is our F/W 2010 accessory lead pipe lock.
Q: My wife and I have a disagreement. We joined a "walk for charity" the other day. Most of the men were wearing ankle socks with their tennis shoes. I have always preferred the calf-high athletic sock pushed down just slightly to give it a disheveled look whenever I run or work out. My wife is trying to tell me that the calf high sock is out of style and the ankle sock is the new style. I think ankle socks are for women tennis players. While a real man wears calf-high athletic socks. Will you please set her straight? --Eamon
A: Congratulations, Eamon, on being a lot less wrong than your wife. We see where you're going with the artfully disheveled tube sock look, but would like it better if they've got a stripe or two, as worn by male tennis players. As for your wife's current thinking on men's socks, ankle socks suck. They offer none of the disheveled/vintage benefits of quarter or crew-length, and leave tan lines that trash the exposed ankle look.
Q: I'm starting a new school year on Tuesday and want to know: what does an MB teacher wear? --Eric
A: As is often the case, movies hold the answer. You want to set yourself apart from the Phys. Ed. teacher, but not go too dressy in the direction of Mr. Hand or Ben Stein's famed economics teacher; it's a slippery slope towards administration, or Looking Like Principal Richard Vernon.
While this was the least believable movie role since Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist in The World is Not Enough, Bradley Cooper's artfully disheveled prep-school teacher in The Hangover strikes a fine balance: vest (one size smaller than normal), sleeve-rolled chambray work shirt, undone repp tie, accessorized with a vintage watch in a black nylon band.
When we did our 10 Sneakers for S/S 2010 feature this spring, we had no idea we'd end up discovering our all-time favorite sneaker: TST. Hand-sketched by Japanese designer Seishi Tanaka, then hand-detailed in construction, these are an obscure, more stylish alternative to Chuck, Stan, Jack, and Rod. The human element -- along with the unique and super-comfortable three-piece sole construction -- gives these shoes an organic feel and degree of wabi-sabi, which is essentially Japanese for artful dishevelment.
Q: What are your thoughts on tie clips? I've noticed some articles on ties and suits and thought maybe I skimmed over something on tie clips. I have a wedding coming up and will be sporting a 2 button, single vented, dark grey, slim fitting suit with white/charcoal edged cotton pocket square, purple checked shirt and a solid lavender tie. Will a well placed silver tie clip make the outfit complete? --Mike (MB in training)
Besides strongly recommending a plain white pocket square, we'd pass on the tie clip. Like fused collars, collar stays, creased pants, starch, and excessive hair gelling, tie clips contribute to a too neat, too calculated, too TTH look. We call for freedom for ties! To dangle asymmetrically, to catch a little gust of wind, to do their part contributing to the aesthetic goal of artful dishevelment.
If you're in the market for an artfully disheveled, wear-it-with-denim belt, we highly recommend Kenton Sorenson's brass roll-buckle and distressed brass buckle options. Kenton has tapped into his Scandinavian roots and designed minimalistic belts cut from hearty 10 oz. leather, then hand sewn by his wife and daughter in his Cottage Grove, Wisconsin home studio, just 150 miles south of Pulaski. They're delivered by horseback and sold exclusively at another small business to make Wisconsin proud: Context Clothing on King St. in Madison, just a stone's throw from the capitol.
If you're like us and obsessed by perfect prong placement -- it should always be inserted into the third hole and never change -- there's no mass-production 28/30/32/34/36/38 guesswork or compromise; each belt is punched to order.
If you don't have enough hair for Mother Nature to style, we recommend the sort of low-profile, long-billed cap that Ernest Hemingway used to favor (top). Quaker Marine has been making them since 1948. Their Original Swordfish model will give you the protection from the sun you need while steering you clear of captain's hats, which have been relegated to the style brig for decades now due to their popularity amongst 1970s-era nautical toolbags and screw-ups.
Q: I've been trying to find sunglasses like the ones John Lennon wore in this photo. Any suggestions? (Feel free to comment on how great they are as well.) --Zach
A: Imagine there are no designer sunglasses, Zach. It isn't hard to do...
In such a world, even millionaire rockstars wear "P3" frames issued by the government's nationalized healthcare program. And when it's sunny out, they slap on a pair "P4" clip-ons. This, at least, is what our glasses expert tells us Lennon is doing in that pic. While we're dubious about the common-man pretensions underlying the gesture, we can't argue with the aesthetic results. Done right, eyewear layering equals artful dishevelment. The key is to make sure your glasses don't match your clip-ons too closely. If you need more inspiration, see Woody Allen circa 1968.
Q: I am moving into the city (Washington DC) and am looking for a bike to get to and from work and around the city in general. I found Bowery Lane Bicycles (http://www.bowerylanebicycles.com/). What do you think, do they make the MB grade? --Spencer
A: Spencer, we are intrigued by these bikes, especially given their price. A handmade steel frame by an American builder for less than $1000 is virtually unheard of. A complete bike with a handmade steel frame, for just $695, almost sounds too good to be true. Granted, Bowery Lane is not making these things in custom sizes (which is one reason handmade frames tend to cost as much as they do), but we'd still want to look at them in person before recommending them. (While we might endorse, say, a cashmere sweater without ever laying hands on it, we’re not depending on a cashmere sweater to keep us relatively safe in the midst of rush-hour traffic.)
That said, we like the idea that you can get something that echoes the style of a Pashley Guv'nor or a Retrovelo at a price that won't leave you reluctant to let it out of your sight. We're not crazy about the old-timey names and imagery on the web site, but we do like the visible brazing and clear-coated steel tubes of the Broncks Raw -- it's basically the artfully dishevelled version of a bike. It's at least worth a test ride.
Q: MB: I'm distinctly lacking in the "sweet hat" department of my wardrobe, and have always been a fan of fedoras. Unfortunately, I'm a poor-as-dirt college student, and the Eugenia Kim beaver fedora you recommended at one point, as much as I like it, totals to about a third of my monthly budget. Got any cheaper alternatives that get the MB stamp of approval for an aspiring MB on a (tight) budget? --Tom
A: Unless you're attending the University of Antarctica, you are not going to want that Eugenia Kim hat this time of year anyway. Seasonally inappropriate. The calendar dictates embracing fedoras made of cooling, breathable straw, and the principle of artful dishevelment dictates choosing one that may actually look better if, say, Laetitia Casta accidentally sat on it for a moment. You want something with a little give.
From most to least expensive, here are four really good options.
Q: Sneakers with suit...what's the MB take? I know the Prada sport line is great as are most Sabelt, but what about Adidas Samba or similar? --Brooke
A: Great question. The closer you get to a footwear brand's "originals" the harder it is to pull off (and risk looking like you're TTH). Lots of guys can wear Puma Sport Fashion with a cool, casual suit. But are you up to combining that suit with Puma Suedes?
In the May 2009 GQ Will Arnett clearly made classic Adidas Rod Lavers work with a $100 cotton H&M suit (left). The comparatively schlubby Jason Segel did the same with Chuck Taylors on the red carpet in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall (right). So what can be learned?
* Only attempt with slimmer, casual suits
* Wear flat front, and preferably un-creased pants
* Pair with a polo or artfully disheveled woven
* Occasionally do a little dancing and hand gesturing
Q: Being a younger MB in training (think college) whenever I'm around my mom she bitches about how wrinkled my shirts are, no matter how pressed they are. Now, please don't mock me too much for mommy problems, but I want your take. Are wrinkles ever appropriate? --Tyler
Do you think Rose Kennedy got on John's case for wearing this shirt on the beaches of Hyannis Port? Unlikely, probably because a.) she had like 7 or 8 other kids to deal with, and b.) JFK knew to enough to tell his maid to pull that woven out of the dryer right before the timer ended, easily achieving the precise amount and depth of rumple.
Q: Lands' End has started a line called Canvas, and it looks like they're trying to corner the more bastardly market. What do you think - are they TTH? --Jordan
A: Thanks for the tip, Jordan. We took a look, and while inexpensive, any reasonable person would agree Canvas all looks a little too Lands' End-y. Except for the chino blazer, which is sticking out like a stylish, artfully disheveled sore thumb. 2 buttons, shirt shoulder, patch pockets, functional buttonholes, machine washable, and $69.50. If it's anywhere near what it looks like on paper, we'll get one in khaki and navy.
UPDATE: The blazer shown has 3 buttons, not 2 as described on the Lands' End web site. The sleeves are also the equivalent of a S. If you are a R or L, they will be too short. This was a return.
Q: What's MB's stance on chest hair grooming? Obviously a shaved chest is unacceptable but chest hair run rampant seems less than magnificent. I tend to trim mine short using a buzzer but this seems like the most favorable alternative to an unbecoming chest. Any suggestions would be appreciated. --Brandon
A: Not to hedge, but this all depends on the amount and type of chest hair growth. The 40 Year-Old Virgin clearly needed to "wax that Teen Wolf thing right out," as his pal Jay rightly put it. Besides wearing film's best-looking suit, Cary Grant also sports one of film's best-looking, artfully disheveled chests in North by Northwest. (Incidentally, he's 55 years old in this picture.) If you just have a few unsightly stragglers poking out from around your nipples, go for the laser. It hurts like wax but after a few treatments they're gone forever, and you're ready for a Dolce & Gabbana shoot.
Q: I'm definitely on board with tucking in your sport shirts (I don't like Bravo, either). But I've been wearing sport shirts under sweaters a lot recently, and was wondering about the protocol on the sport shirt underneath. Tucked or not? --Christopher
A: First of all, we love Bravo, just not the guys who give the dudes on Jersey Shore a run for their toolbaggery.
Second, the tuck rule still applies for shirts underneath a sweater. I.e., if your shirt is designed to be untucked, go for it; if it's designed to be tucked, tuck it. This way you'll achieve the desired artfully disheveled shirt-barely-peeking-out look as demonstrated here by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer.
Ed. note:(500) Days of Summer is the best romantic comedy we've seen since Annie Hall. OK, maybe it's the only romantic comedy we've seen since Annie Hall. Anyhow, the only thing better than the flick (just by a whisker) is the soundtrack that includes tunes from The Smiths, Hall and Oates, and Spectacular Bitch par excellence Carla Bruni.
Q: What's the difference between artful dishevelment and not trying? I can't seem to get the technique down, because I either end up looking like a slob or I'm trying too hard. Please enlighten me, MB. --Mike
A: Mike, for questions like these, Nick Nolte usually has the answers.
OK, we know you don't normally read MB to be recommended a shirt from J. Crew. But we just got a shipment of these and we wish we'd bought more. This slubby, slightly off-kilter polo embodies artful dishevelment, and it's the rare shirt you can wear for 18 holes in the afternoon, then throw on a pair of denim and hit the bars at night (hopefully with a shower in between). We can just about guarantee you'll love it. On sale for just $19.99 a pop. Final sale. No returns. Fit is true to size.
Q: I just found your site the other day through www.onthefly.com, a truly wonderful website for the modern gentleman. It now has another feather in its cap--it has led me to you folks! Immediately upon finding your site, I went looking for answer to something I've been wondering for quite some time now. Alas, it appears that you have not addressed this yet. How do you feel about manicures? Pedicures, I gather, are required for sandals, but what about the other 10 digits? --Bryning
A: We endorse meticulous personal grooming, especially when someone else is doing it. Artful dishevelment does not extend to peeling cuticles. So yes, manicures are MB-approved. However, since they are your more dexterous digits and near your face, it's possible to care for these adequately on your own. Feet, on the other hand, require a professional, unless you have yoga master-level flexibility.
Q: I shave my head, due to hair loss, and feel that it detracts from your artfully disheveled standards. Are there any general rules for us smooth-domed MB wannabes that I should be following? --Dan
A: Dan, you said you shave your head, but how often do you shave? We ask because in our opinion, the fully shaved look (aka the Savalas) as a can't-miss cure for baldness is ultimately about as can't-miss as Rogaine or Propecia -- it doesn't always work as advertised. If you're Michael Jordan, go for it. If not, well, just look at Jack (top) -- suddenly one of the world's coolest dudes looks like a bigger toolbag than Joe the Plumber.
Our advice: when you shave, leave enough stubble to make your wife/girlfriend think twice about asking for special favors. Then, don't shave again until you start worrying about the impact wind/hats are having on your hair. The more hair you have left on top, the more frequently you'll have to shave. When you're looking like Jackson Pollock (bottom), you're looking just right. When you're looking like Larry Fine (inset), you've let it go too far.
Q: Around a month ago I watched GQ Rules: How to dress better in 15 days. What caught my attention was Jim Moore's tie and collar buttons.
Is it MB to tie your tie a bit loose just like Jim Moore? Also, I know you are not supposed to wear a tie with a shirt with button collars. What do you guys think? I uploaded a picture here http://i34.tinypic.com/4h3w3m.jpg of Jim Moore just in case you guys haven't watched it yet. --Franco
A: First, it's certainly OK to wear a tie with a button-down collar. Second, this is Jim Moore's version of artful dishevelment and it's definitely endorsable (though the tie width and knot size is not). Finally, one thing we don't get about Jim Moore's look is the eyewear. We're pretty sure he got those at our high school algebra teacher's garage sale.
Q: Dear MB: I am writing to get your official position on a matter that arose last night between my girlfriend and I regarding sweaters: V-neck or crewneck? My girl (who claims she knows her stuff with clothing) told me to go with a crewneck and steer clear of v-necks if I am wearing a collared shirt underneath, as the V-neck would not be appropriate. I, on the otherhand, I prefer the v-neck and don't care for the crewneck, as it reminds me too much of those John McCain sport coat-sweater-tie combos that he was running around in last fall (sort of an older man's look to me). Does MB have an official preference for v-neck or crewneck sweaters, or am I just a dumb bastard for not listening to my girl? --Ryan
A: We agree with you and not your girl. When Paul Newman died last year, we cited his v-neck-woven shirt combination as his life's greatest achievement. And just look at James Dean in a v-neck and woven. This is artful dishevelment defined.
As a side note, John McCain typically did do the coat-sweater-tie combo until, hopelessly behind late in the campaign, tried the v-neck look with disastrous results.
Q: Pardon me if this is out of your normal realm. But I am about to turn 17 and am in need of a car. I have it narrowed down to an '80s era BMW 325i convertible, or an '80s era Jaguar XJ6, and I just can't make up my mind. Please help. --Adam
A: Adam, you're new around here, aren't ya? This is a no-brainer, and not just because the Jaguar was made in England (see previous posts about Anglophilia). It's more obscure, consumes more gas, and will only run when the sun is fully shining. All the BMW has going for it is the convertible, which is only useful to achieve superbly artfully disheveled hair.
Q: I know your policy on tucking in polo shirts, but how about t-shirts? Marlon Brando had them tucked in in A Streetcar Named Desire, but I believe he was wearing undershirts. Is this something that can be pulled off? --Dave
A: While the current dominant style is untucked, we think you can tuck if you like, and Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Steve McQueen agree with us. A couple of other thoughts on the matter:
* Any t-shirt that makes it into your wardrobe should look good untucked as well as tucked. In other words, if you're tucking because your t-shirt is too long or too wide at the bottom, you should demote that t-shirt to garage rag.
* Take a close look at Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and you'll see he's actually demonstrating the MB-endorsed artfully disheveled tuck. (Avoid the rip, though -- that's a little too Flashdance.)
Q: I'm in an upcoming wedding, and we're wearing pocket squares. Any suggestions on how to fold those suckers like an MB? --Mike
A: Mike, we've covered this before and stand by the advice given: apply Occam's Razor and keep it simple with either a one-point or flat fold. Even moreso for a wedding because those photographs have a way of lingering on mantles, walls, side tables, and Facebook -- and those two options have best stood the test of time.
Top: Ol' Blue Eyes with some youthful indiscretion.
Bottom: More mature Sinatra goes artfully disheveled, timeless.
We've previously been critical of Robert Pattinson's fashion-victim look, but on the set of Remember Me, he's giving a clinic on how to properly select and wear an untucked sport shirt. (Sleeves could be rolled a bit higher, however.)
First, placement: you want to put them up past your elbows, like you're ready to give blood. Second, how you get there is crucial. A repetitive push-and-roll technique is required. As you turn the sleeve, simultaneously push it up your arm and repeat until it's past your elbow to achieve the perfect amount of artful dishevelment.
Q: I'm a freshman in college, about to enter my sophomore year, and I've just started reading MB, but I do consider myself rather stylish on an unemployed college student's budget. What's an MBs stance on collared shirt under a sweater with both of the sleeves rolled up over jeans? And do you have any other general tips to get that artfully disheveled look to truly shine? Thanks. --Mike
A: Mike, you're young and a still a little wet behind the ears, so we'll go easy. This look can be categorized as TTH (Trying Too Hard). Artful dishevelment is indeed calculated, but ends up looking like you didn't try at all. This looks like you tried; not to mention it's also going to stretch the shit out of your sweater sleeves. It's only OK if you're involved in an emergency birth.
Q: I know you've addressed this issue before with crewnecks, however, what should one do with their shirt collars while wearing v-neck sweaters? I tend to keep them in although I've had people comment on how I should wear them out. --Chevy
A: Chevy, it's going to depend on the cut of the v-neck and the shape of the shirt collar, but this is one of those times when you should submit to your shirt's free will. Don't force artful dishevelment. If the collar is meant to stay in, it will stay in. If it's meant to be out, it will come out. 9 times out of 10, however, daily activities like hailing a cab or hailing a bartender will push your collar out.
Esquire is down the list of our favorite men's mags, and Fashion Director Nick Sullivan doesn't help matters with his condescending, bad advice. At magnificentbastard.com if we're wrong, we'll at least be wrong with a joke and maybe some light profanity.
In any fucking case, MB endorses no crease on any pant, even suitpants (except a tuxedo), unless you're old. Otherwise they violate the none-too-neat principle we're always aiming for.
Q: How good does a scotch have to be before an MB won't put it in a Rob Roy and insists on drinking it neat? --Conrad
A: Conrad, you've asked what seems to be a simple question, but this would send a group of professional bartenders into a quarrel which undoubtedly would need to be settled over a few drinks and possibly some wrestling -- the best way to resolve any disagreement.
As we've mentioned in the past, the toolbags of this world think ordering Dom Perignon during the holidays is a sign of class. They're also probably the type who might order a Courvoisier and Coke. The MB knows how to toe the line (even with a law enforcement officer watching) between ignorant excess and the cocktail version of artful dishevelment.
Some "mixologists" (including Gary Regan), simply think that price should be your guide: if the scotch is north of $100 a bottle or so, you should drink it neat. Fortunately for the MB, you have your own taste and two simple rules as your guide:
1) It's fine to use a scotch up to 12-years old in a Rob Roy 2) Avoid using any scotch that's too peaty (think Laphroaig or Lagavulin)
Of course, if you love the peaty scotches you might be able to find the right blend of sweet or dry vermouth (remember the MB likes his Rob Roy perfect or fully dry, with onion garnish) to make a more-than-acceptable Islay Rob Roy. In this case though, you better have your A-game on, or your date may be calling you "Old Swampy" when you try to get more than just cordial.
Q: On the subject of pocket squares, where does the MB plant it roots? My hunch would be you favor the artfully unruly puff fold, but what is your stand on the Quantum of Solace "angled" straight fold featured in the print ads for said film? --Tune
A: We've covered this before, but we'll happily cover it again. Unless you're Yves Saint Laurent, who's dead, we prefer the one-point or the flat fold. James Bond is clueless about the martini (shaken is just plain wrong), but the flat fold has been in place from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig. That "angling" you're seeing is Bond's version of artful dishevelment. Either that or the result of having to lug around a silenced Heckler & Koch MP5 9mm.
Last week Esquire inexplicably named dress-by-the-numbers Prince Charles the world's best dressed man, and also bagged pretty hard on London mayor Boris Johnson for having "jacket pockets like second-hand bookshops, and hair the result of an encounter with a ghost in a wind tunnel." This had us Googling "Boris Johnson" which immediately lead to an idea for demonstrating artful dishevelment vs. full dishevelment.
Q: My wife says only girls and toolbags drive convertibles. I know you're not a car site, but you've commented on vehicular accessorization before. Convertibles seem impractical and can be exclusive. Does it depend where you live? We've been polling our friends and only my male friends that drive convertibles seem to disagree with my wife. Please advise. --Nicholas
A: Nicholas, this is most certainly not the first time, but your wife is wrong. Yeah, it's pretty easy to conclude "toolbag" when a moustachioed Guido is cruising chicks in a late-model Mustang with the top down. But what else is a convertible but the unstructured blazer of automobiles? As you suggest, they're impractical -- if you think cars are really just bulky umbrellas. But think of the possibilities. They let Mother Nature style your hair. They give you the opportunity to wear a cool cap. They serve as a rolling stage for your magnificence. Or to put it another way, your wife is going to have a hell of time explaining these guys away as chicks or toolbags:
Top: James Dean demonstrating confidence, artful dishevelment, and profoundly good layering technique in his 1954 356 Porsche Speedster.
Middle: Steve McQueen hopping into his 1956 Jaguar XKSS, with perfect cigarette dangling angle.
Bottom: Anyone can get chauffered in a limo, but it takes an MB to get chauffered in a convertible, like the Pope in this 2007 Mercedes-Benz G 500 Cabriolet.
Magnetic collar stays? "Super strong magnetic buttons give you the unique ability to adjust your collar's spread on a whim, creating multiple different looks with the same shirt"? Ummm, how about just buying a shirt with a spread that you like and wearing it as it was tailored? --Kevin
A: Who knew this much thought went into collar stays? Whenever we buy a shirt with collar stays they're immediately tossed in the trash, simply because they greatly inhibit the MB Prime Directive: artful dishevelment.
Q: OK, when wearing cufflinks, if your shirt has a button placket just north of the cuff, do you use the button or leave it undone? I vote "use the button," but I see some seemingly very MB-esque people forgoing it. Please shed some Magnificent light on the subject. --Tim
A: Button? What button? We don't think we've ever used that button on either a button cuff or single/French cuff shirt. Those people you're seeing are MB-esque for a reason: they're MBs.
Q: I wear a lot of buttondown shirts to work, and I see my boss not buttoning down his collars. So I ask the MB, should I follow his example? --Mike
A: Mike, you can laugh at his jokes, maybe order a similar drink at happy hour, and own his pet project, but never compromise your own style. Keep your buttons buttoned. Besides, unbuttoned buttondown shirts is a little TTH. Even worse is GQ's Style Guy Glenn O'Brien, who, in a recent column, admitted to buttoning one and leaving the other unbuttoned, which is artful dishevelment all wrong.
The Wall Street Journal isn't known for its style coverage, and rightfully so. Yesterday's piece on "How to Pull Off 'CEO Casual'" highlighted Trevor Kaufman, chief executive of digital-branding agency Schematic. He might be pardoned for watching Mad Men "with zeal," but wearing no-iron cotton Brooks Brothers dress shirts and pressing his Levi's 501s turns the MB aesthetic of artful dishevelment right on its head. Squatting on desktops is also off-MB-brand.
In the August issue of GQ -- the one with Seth Rogen on the cover -- "Style Guy" Glenn O'Brien admits to leaving a single button-down collar button unbuttoned, calling it a "je ne sais quoi casualness" and "flaunted carelessness." We think he means "artful dishevelment," but this is "overly-engineered dishevelment," and trying way, way too hard. The desired go-to-hell air needs to look completely uncalculated.
In the same issue, he endorses the hoodie, primarily for its blue-collar roots and utility. White-collar roots are preferable, and that damn hood is non-functional and simply in the way at least 90% of the time. Also, Suede from Project Runway wears them a lot.
Hot designer Michael Bastian put on a how-to clinic in a recent issue of Details:
1. Long, thin face indication of superior breeding and maintenance routine. 2. Tie knot artfully disheveled to precise degree. 3. Peak lapels add subtle dramatic flair. 4.MB-approved pocket square execution. 5. Jacket with real buttons. 6. Two said buttons unbuttoned. 7. Antiqued belt buckle turns "casual" knob a notch or two. 8. Un-creased pants turns "casual" knob one notch more.
Now that spring's arrived it's time to consider what to do with your footwear/sockwear. The cashmere Paul Smith socks have been filed away in the "seasonal" drawer, so now what? MB recommends letting your ankles feel the increasingly warmer breezes and the splash of April showers ... not to mention, nothing quite exudes the devil-may-care raffishism we're all trying to achieve than exposing one's ankles, especially in the workplace.
(If you decide to try this look we insist on a pair of loafer socks so your shoes don't smell like the locker room at the Y after 5 minutes.)
GOOD 1. Pants. Lounge-fit khakis work nicely on bigger men. 2. Footwear. Climbing/hiking boots transition well from granola/North Face look; useful for dodging sniper fire. 3. Shirt. Untucked, unbuttoned knit short-sleeve satisfies MB principle of artful dishevelment.
BAD 1. Headwear. Ski mask creates hat-head and even worse, hat-face, especially in hot desert climates. 2. Weapon. AK-47 noisy and big and showy. Violates MB principle of understatement. 3. Neckwear. Bullet scarf made from too large of diameter rounds (see understatement). Leave larger caliber accessorization to G.I. Joe & Rambo. 4. Jewelry. Pinkie ring acceptable only if starring in Scorsese mob picture.
Pop quiz: William F. Buckley's greatest cultural contribution was:
A. Founding the modern conservative movement B. Founding National Review magazine C. Hosting Firing Line for 33 years D. MB icon and poster boy for the principle of artful dishevelment
Correct Answer: D.
From the top: Buckley demonstrating the proper black tie alignment; Buckley on the set of Firing Line hitting the trifecta of hair, jacket, tie dishevelment; casual Buckley demonstrating casual rumpledness (portrait).
Q: Just a quick question regarding ties. I have read a couple of times that "skinny" is out, but what I want to know is what knot is the best. I was taught the 4-in-hand and have used that through out my business career but the popular one is the Windsor. Once tied can you really tell the difference? —Paul
A: Obi-Wan has taught you well, but you are not a Jedi MB yet.
In honor of Presidents' Day, surely you can tell the difference between the knot on the un-stylish Ronald Reagan (Windsor) and the stylish George Bush 41 (four-in-hand).
We strongly prefer the four-in-hand to the Windsor, for at least four reasons:
1. Windsor symmetrical. Violates the MB principle of artful dishevelment. 2. Windsor requires extra steps. Violates the universal rule of Occam's Razor. 3. Windsor best on spread collar shirts. And you know how we feel about spread collar shirts. 4. Windsor (combined with spread collar) shortens, flattens an MB's neck. MBs prefer their necks lengthened and thinned.
Q: Who can really pull off the bow tie these days? Can I? —KS
A: Funny you should ask, because in their February 2008 issue GQ declares bow ties back, and recommends their readers buy them from -- where else? -- Band of Outsiders. (GQ publisher Condé Nast must have a financial stake in Band of
Outsiders for how often they pimp their stuff.)
Anyhow, we think this is bad advice. With a bow tie, you've got a much higher probability looking like a prick, dweeb, nerd, or clown (you pick which is which) than you do looking like 007.
We suggest reserving bow ties for two occasions:
1. Summer weddings (preferably in madras). 2. Black tie.
And one other thing: Never tie it symmetrically, even for black tie. It must be askew in order to satisfy the MB principle of artful dishevelment.
That's Dan Rather's quote from this clip sent to us by reader William Schroeder, which shows Mr. Rather debating for 19 minutes and 42 seconds about whether to wear a coat, and if so, whether the collar should be turned up or down.
These are big decisions.
In a previous post we were down on popping collars up, but that was specifically for polo shirts. Here, Mr. Rather is correct. What you see him struggling with in the video is achieving the correct amount of artful dishevelment, as demonstrated by Mr. Bogart (aka MB) is "that scene" from Casablanca.
Q: I was curious if it was appropriate to tuck just the front part of one's shirt in his pants, thus exposing his fashionable belt buckle. It is so clearly depicted on the front page of the site. In fact, it is almost luring me towards such mentioned behavior. So I ask: Appropriate, or Toolbag-ish? That is the question. —The Buckler
A: The banner photo doesn't show it, but the white shirt is fully tucked in save for that wisp to your left. It took the Magnificent Subject and Magnificent Photographer's Handlers about 20 minutes to achieve the precice amount of artful dishevelment for that photograph.
Also pictured is Michael Bastian from the August GQ. He, too, with a fully considered amount of artful dishelvelment; and he's about the best designer going right now.
Hope that answers your question, asshole.
Pour 2 fingers into an empty tumbler, 3 if you're not alone.