Here at MB, we like to travel lightly, especially on any excursion lasting less than 24 hours. That means we try to limit the things we carry to whatever we can fit in our pockets and maybe a small-ish correspondent bag or briefcase.
But we're also lifelong learners and committed library-goers, so we'll always have a place in our lives for a backpack that can comfortably hold a fortnight's worth of books. Which for us isn't a lot — we're slow readers.
Beyond that basic requirement, we figure less is more. If a backpack requires consultation with an architect to decipher its floorplan, it has too many compartments for us. If it can hold more than, say, a third of Suzanne Somers' collected works, it's too big. We like a backpack that exerts stringent curatorial judgment on our behalf.
Their new backpack is made out of canvas, leather, synthetic cotton (?), and cork (!). That sounds complicated, but the object itself exudes a stylish simplicity. We're confident we won't need a map to navigate its chambers and sleeves, nor will we spend hours trying to discern the purpose of extraneous straps and buckles and grommets. See, it's making us more productive already and it doesn't even exist yet.
We thought our search for a daily face moisturizer with sunscreen ended way back in March 2009, when we endorsed Kiehl's Facial Fuel Moisturizer with SFP 15. This stuff was indeed facial fuel, until Kiehl's messed with the formula in about October 2013, replacing the subtle cologne-esqe fragrance and eye-opening skin energization with the weight and grease of a cheap sunscreen.
A few deadstock tubes of the Kiehl's Facial Fuel OF from eBay got us through until we discovered Neutrogena's Age Fighter Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF. (If you don't have a few wrinkles and lines yet, you will, and Retinol is effective at fighting them.) Cheap, and well reviewed, this is not a bad product, although it burns like a MFer and if you get it in your eyes you temporarily go blind.
Enter Verso Day Cream. Invented in Sweden by Lars Fredriksson, it is formulated with a kinder, gentler Retinol (Retinol 8) that claims to be eight times more effective than Retinol in the same dosage, and yet paradoxically, doesn't feel like you're applying a flamethrower to your face. It smells great, has SPF 15, and has made our faces glow brighter than Rudolph's nose while he's banging Vixen. The only downside: you'll have to hide this from your SO, because once they try it, they steal it. You have been warned.
Have we hit peak talus yet? Not by a longshot. Until we see Marco Rubio hugging a windmill, we expect that exposed ankles will continue to exist as both fashion trend and climate change mitigation strategy. These days, the look is so widespread that even designer no-show socks exist — which, if you think about it, is even more oxymoronic than "clean coal" or "gas-sipping SUV." If people can see that you're wearing Paul Smith no-show socks, your no-show socks are broken!
We first endorsed exposed ankles back in 2008, when the Keeling Curve was still safely in the 380s. Ever since, we've been on an epic quest to find the perfect no-show socks. We've invested countless hours, spent more than a few dollars, and emitted a lot of carbon by commanding Banana Republic, J. Crew, Saks Fifth Avenue, Falke, Urban Outfitters, and Mocc Socks to bring us new specimens by ship, plane, and FedEx truck. But we've finally found a no-show sock we're ready to settle down with: the Converse Chuck Sock.
Why do we love this sock? Three reasons. One, they stay on the best. Two, they're thicker than all other no-show socks, which tend to be nearly as thin as pantyhose. (We don't want no-show pantyhose. We want no-show socks.) Three, they're the cheapest no-show socks we've found. (A few years ago, this wouldn't have mattered to us so much. But now that a significant portion of our clothing budget is devoted to producing clothes rather than buying them, we take advantage of opportunities to economize if they present themselves.)
So there you have it. Our quest for the perfect no-show sock is over. On a related note, however, our quest for the perfect white t-shirt persists. (Sorry, environment!)
POST-SCRIPT: Our contest where you can win a free pair of the spring's best luxury slip-on — the Hydrogen-1 Neptunian — is ending tomorrow (May 15)! Enter now, and make sure to have a pair of Chuck Socks on-hand to immediately celebrate your victory if you're the lucky winner.
Designed in California and made in Italy, Hydrogen-1s are a little bit like a mullet in shoe form: Business on top, party on the bottom. Or at least comfortable sneaker sole on the bottom. We bought our first pair of Hydrogen-1 Magnesiums at full price a couple months ago and liked them so much we quickly bought a back-up pair.
If you work at an Internet start-up, these wingtips will help you look like a grown-up when you go to pitch VCs, yet still give you the traction you need to radically change course when your first business plan tanks.
If your office is, say, an NBA arena, try these blue brogues. Even with their sneaker soles they're not quite as tuned for professional sports competition as a pair of Air Jordans. So you may lose a step to Chris Paul or even Marc Gasol. But you'll look fantastic going up and down the court. (As long as you’re wearing some dark denim jeans, that is. We don't recommend pairing these with gym shorts.)
This took way longer than it should have, but Adidas finally just threw some soft spikes on a pair of Sambas and instantly made the coolest golf shoe on the market. They've even created a limited-edition (only 1,950 pairs) green and gold Masters Packers shoe for fans of the greatest major team.
When a pair of galoshes is the year's best purchase, it could be argued that 2011 was a pretty lousy year for gear. Either that or Swims' "Mobster Boot" Overshoes are that good.
Whether you wear Chuck Ts or wing Ts to work, these protect them from rain, snow, sleet, (and even hail!), keep your feet warm, and they pair as nicely with a pair of denim as pair of wool trousers. They even have a reflective square on the heel for inclement cycling, which is what we've adopted them for. $149 is not cheap for something that may cost more than the shoes you're trying to protect, but they're totally worth it.
At the 2007 NFC Championship game in January 2008 one of us nearly lost a toe to frostbite even though his feet were inside a pair of Sorels. Yeah, it was that fucking cold.
Meanwhile, everyone's hands were toasty because they were sheathed by Fur Armor's beaver fur chopper mitts. At $189 ($209 for the sheared beaver model) they're a terrific investment for a lifetime of hand warmth, and they're not just for ice fishing or arctic evenings at Lambeau Field; we occasionally pair them with a tweed blazer, scarf, and hat to great effect.
The best part? They're handmade in Bemidji, Minnesota at the Fur Armor factory located on Paul Bunyan Drive. Really. Our only quibble is with the Polartec lining, which we immediately removed and replaced with ragg wool chopper liners from Bemidji Woolen Mills.
We've recommended the Ollech & Wajs Kartargo to the point where Westcoastime sold out of the watch, disappointing many readers looking for a simple, understated, small Swiss-made mechanical, military-style watch for under $500. Well, WCT has just received another shipment of this ETA 2824-2-powered gem and while the price has increased to $489 thanks to the strength of the Swiss franc (check the chart) it's still a timepiece well worth your money.
In our cinematic world view there is The Big Lebowski and then there is every other movie ever made. While we could be fatuous with Lebowski references about how owning The Dude's actual sweater could really tie your wardrobe together, we say no funny stuff. For those of you who don't have 12,000 bones or clams or whatever you call them, you can get a vintage Pendleton Cowichan sweater on eBay for around $300. Or you could knit your own.
For those who don't get bogged down in a lotta ins, a lotta outs, or a lotta what-have-yous about the cost of things, see you at the auction.
Important: Even though it's on sale, and you may be an Achiever, do not compromise your ideals with a Little Lebowski.
Most skateboards look like they were designed by graffiti artists who ran out of buildings to deface or flunkies from the local art school. Or both.
In stark contrast is the MAKR ox blood deck, custom shaped of white walnut, hand stained, with individually numbered leather risers. Normally $80, it's 15% off — like everything else at makr.com — while owner/designer Jason Gregory is vacationing in Europe*. At just $68 for something that looks like it should cost at least a couple of hundred bucks, this is one of the best values on the whole internet.
* He left March 22, so this sale will likely be ending soon. (An MB correspondent tells us that while Mr. Gregory is on vacation, orders still ship quickly. His key chain arrived just a few days after the order was placed.)
We just got a great big shipment from YOOX and love love love this Love Moschino corduroy blazer. Slim fit, short length, longer-than-normal sleeves, two buttons, and wide lapels -- you can see which direction the Italians are headed with lapel width -- this is one of our favorite purchases of 2010. It's on sale for $195 (normally $315) and has one internal pocket just wide enough to hold an 8 oz. flask. It even comes in blaze orange for those warmer deer hunting days. (Currently free shipping at YOOX, so try it out on their dime.)
We've previously endorsed Moncler puffy coats, now we're extending the endorsement to the Moncler puffy shirt. While not suited for either ascents of K2 or the bizcash office, this will work great for weekend errands, chopping wood, and Vail's back bowls in March.
It's available for about three more days, unless we buy them out first. If you'd like an invite to join The Foundary just drop us a line. It's brand new and looks like it could be the housewares equivalent of Gilt.
Apologies for being a tad late with any mention of this news, but for the 2010-11 season the NBA is implementing a new dress code requiring coaches to wear collared shirts during games. Now that mock turtleneck king Don Nelson is out of a job in Golden State, this affects only Orlando Magic coach and MB sartorialpiñata Stan Van Gundy.
While the new rule won't prevent Van Gundy from wearing some appalling shirt/tie combos this year (which we will surely document as they begin to appear), kudos to the NBA for banning this style atrocity. Now perhaps the PGA Tour will wake up and finally apply similar rules for its players. It shall be called the Tiger Woods Rule.
Mark your calendars for 11 AM CT tomorrow as Malo is on sale at Gilt. We recommend buying Malo cashmere at full price, so when it's on sale we double recommend it. (If you need an invite, just let us know.)
When you need a little more space inside your shoe, either because that must-own pair of sneakers from Gilt is one size too small, or you're suffering from an acute case of gout, get this 2-Way FootFitter Professional Shoe Stretcher. It's the same thing the shoe repair shop uses, and can turn an 11 into a 12, or a D into an E. Or both.
Typically it's the criminals from the 1970s who are remembered for their style (top). But what about the other side of the law? No, we're not talking about that sloppy undercover hippie, Serpico. We mean the men in uniform. Sure, corruption, urban blight, and a host of other ills turned the Big Apple into a mugger's paradise in those days. But when the thin blue line got so damn thin it looked like a Photoshop ruler guide, there was one thing keeping the world's greatest city from turning into utter chaos, and it wasn't Charles Bronson's Fu Manchu. It was the sleek, no-nonsense style of the NYPD's wool jackets.
Spiewak made them then, and now Spiewak's bringing them back -- this time for civilians. So put away your buffalo plaid and get into some real workwear -- this 26 ounce wool melton jacket with corozo dome buttons, a badge tab, and four front pockets. (That's two for your ammo and two for your bribes.) Sorry Paul Bunyan, but there's nothing more authentically American than a 1970s cop shaking down a bookie on a freezing winter morning in the Bronx.
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 think we've lost our collective minds endorsing $396 sandals, well, maybe we have. But for the same price as 26 pair of post-peak mix grape Havaianas from Urban Outfitters, you get a pair of sandals you can dress up with a suit, dress down with denim, and wear to the beach. Plus, like men, they'll get better with age, while the long since discarded Havaianas (and equivalents) will be stacked up in a landfill.
Ideeli.com is a Gilt wannabe primarily geared towards women and women shopping for their kids, but on Friday, July 2 at 11AM ET they're having a men's (and women's) Mandarina Duck sale. This is really good stuff worth your money. If you'd like an invitation to ideeli.com, here you go: www.ideeli.com/invite/magbas
Maybe Gatorade was right to drop Tiger Woods as a sponsor. He's making his dramatic return to golf at the Masters next month, and yet tickets are readily available. So readily available, in fact, that you can get a day pass at Costco for only $850. It's seriously worth your consideration. You get your choice of attending Thursday-Sunday, and have full access to the The Lodge on Magnolia which is about an 8-iron from the entrance. $850 + travel is a lot of bread, but trust us: If you haven't already, this is one thing you need to do.
Two entries that made the cut into the Magnificent Bastard Cocktail Contest called for dashes of Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters. This was harder to get our hands on than an anorexic stripper in a vat of baby oil. To the rescue came fourth-generation owner Joe Fee, who sent us a bottle of the 2010 vintage weeks before its release to the general public. (Incidentally, the two aforementioned drinks advanced to the Sweet 16). In a couple weeks you'll be able to pick up this distinctive, strictly limited edition aged aromatic bitters at contest sponsor KegWorks. Ignore any impulse toward restraint when procuring this stuff. When it's gone, it's gone.
Cocktail Contest Update: Tomorrow night there are 8 more matchups, which will leave only the Elite Eight. Winners of this round to be posted on Saturday, March 13.
Enter Jansport Heritage -- particularly the Wayback -- a bag designed by two hippies in 1969. We can think of no better pedigree, because let's face it, if you were a hippie in 1969 and you were spending your free time inventing backpacks instead of getting stoned with George Harrison and balling nubile runaways from Topeka, well, you had to really like backpacks!
At the same time, you wouldn't waste a lot of effort creating tiny little compartments, weird loops only a French alpinist could decipher, and various other "functional" ornamentation -- because George wanted to get stoned. And those runaways were pretty cute.
There are two straps, two zippers, and two compartments -- a big one for your weed and a small one for everything else. Beyond that, what else do you really need?
The fall-winter sale at YOOX has started. We don't know of any other place on the internet where there are 12,000 items from the world's best designers, on sale at up to 70% off. (If you do, let us know.)
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.
With any luck the inlaws have finally cleared out and you can un-hide your top-shelf booze and condiments. The latter should include Luxardo gourmet maraschino cherries. There's nothing more wrong than topping off a finely-mixed drink with a cherry that's better suited for a kiddie cocktail.
$300 for a pair a pants is a lot of bread. However, the John Varvatos Soho pant is worth every penny. You can dress them up or dress them down, and the fit is flattering on MBs tall and short, wide and thin. And here's the best part: you can throw 'em in the wash. Besides your jeans, these will be your favorite pair of pants.
This Gucci shoe wholly embodies the "classic with a twist" MB aesthetic. Vintage pinked leather wingtip with rubber soles. $420 is slightly sticker shocking, but a value when you consider how flexible they are: wear them with a suit, grey flannel on business casual days, and of course denim.
We were introduced to Gilt almost a year ago and have been digging it ever since. Now we're digging it even more as they've separated out all the girl stuff with Gilt Man. Deep discounts on great brands. Well worth signing up. Right now: Theory.
From about the time the Yankees are eliminated from the playoffs to the time Yankee fans start thinking Steinbrenner's latest overpriced impulse buy will make a difference this year, we practically live in cashmere sweaters. And it's why we feel especially confident about our endorsement of Malo cashmere. If you've ever worn Malo cashmere you know what we're talking about. Their entry level v-neck is still $225 at YOOX, but this is a far better investment than $188 for J. Crew cashmere that starts pilling within 5 minutes of wear.
At least once in a man's life, he should buy a scarf that costs more than the most expensive suit at Men's Warehouse. We recommend the new 70 cashmere/ 30 superfine merino wool cable hand-knit scarf from new designer Song Oh. It takes more than a week to knit each piece. A Men's Warehouse suit takes like 18 minutes to assemble, tops.
This beauty is available exclusively at Pamela Robbins in Scarsdale, NY. And we also have a handy guide on how to achieve the "lofty wrap" look.
It's May Day, which means it's time to break out the white jeans (even if at our Pulaski, WI offices it's barely 60 degrees). We've had a few and we always come back to the Adriano Goldschmied version in the "Protege" fit. They're worn in this early MB header photo. Women's legs draped over yours not included, but highly recommended nevertheless.
Regular readers know we're pretty big John Varvatos fans. His strongest suit is perhaps outerwear, like this olive green herringbone four pocket work jacket, now on sale at bloomingdales.com. You can wear this in fall and early spring, and we can virtually guarantee it will become your favorite jacket. (Order one size larger than normal.)
Careful readers of the cocktail posts by the MBartender may have noticed our frequent use of orange bitters, the classic choice for bitters. Unfortunately, the local Pulaski, WI taverns haven't fully embraced the growing trend in upscale bars to brew their own bitters, so we have to rely on what we can get shipped in via FedEx. We reviewed the three orange bitters we are able to have delivered to our northern Wisconsin offices.
Angostura Orange Bitters (right)
The subtle orange taste is overwhelmed by a candy-like cardamom flavor. Certainly acceptable, but you can do better.
Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters (center)
This had the strongest and cleanest orange flavor, but lacked any interesting aromatics. The Jessica Alba of orange bitters? This would be fine for tossing in a few dashes into a strongly flavored drink like a Negroni, but lacks the required complexity to properly enhance a well-structured martini.
Regans' Orange Bitters (left)
We might have given these bitters the nod simply based on the admirable and magnificent quest by Gary Regan to develop the perfect orange bitters. Easy for us, after several attempts and the aid of the Sazerac company, he succeeded. These bitters combine an appealing orange flavor with sophisticated aromatics that feature a pleasant emphasis on caraway. These are the bitters that are going to bring out the depth of flavors in both the premium gin and vermouth in your martini.
Now that it's officially spring, we highly recommend Kiehl's Facial Fuel Moisturizer with SFP 15 Sunscreen. Apply as the last thing before you head into the office. Protects an MB's face from damaging UV rays, and also has enough zip for you to skip the morning cup of coffee.
It broke 60° yesterday at our Pulaski, WI offices and it moved a few women to break out one of mankind's greatest inventions: short shorts. Now, up here in northern Wisconsin, our women's legs might not be the most toned, and they're clearly a little sun-deprived, and there might be a little more hair than we'd probably like**, but doggone if we still don't really, really dig short shorts. Just wait until it hits 70! Bikinis!
* Not to be confused with short jorts.
** Model clearly not from Pulaski, WI vicinity
Alexander McQueen makes beautiful $820 cashmere checked shirts and $1,920 trenches, but his greatest success is his footwear collaboration with Puma. He's made dozens of models for MBs who want to wear sneakers but don't want to look like they're wearing sneakers. "Casual, yet chic," as the ad copy says. And affordable. We cannot recommend these too highly. Take your pick at Zappos.
Now that the ice has finally cleared from the rivers near our Pulaski, WI offices, we're wanting to work our deltoids, triceps, backs, abdomens, and Latissimus Dorsi (lats) in this ridiculously beautiful hand-crafted cedar strip kayak. Put $8,000 down, pay an additional $8,000 upon delivery, and Justin Charles will throw in free shipping. Allow 14-16 weeks for delivery.
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.)
Yeah, Dolce & Gabbana sometimes missteps badly, like this pair of pink & silver logo mesh sneakers (inset). But they get it way right with their dress shirts. Modern and flattering cuts, top-quality fabrics and buttons, and traditional-with-a-twist collars make for a very MB shirt-wearing and shirt-owning experience. Expensive, but worth it. Especially for you.
Yeah, your un-MB peers might heap scorn and ridicule on the idea of spending $195 on what they likely refer to as simply "sweatpants." Screw 'em. When you're kickin' it in the Caribbean, and climb out of your villa's infinity pool and slip into this stylish pair of Adam Lounge Pants (made from the finest organic Japanese cotton, of course) you -- and everyone else who sees you -- will know exactly where that extra $175.01 went.
(This post actually reminds us of a core MB rule that will be demonstrated more clearly in future posts: in order to look good, you gots to pay.)
The quintessential MB style is defined as "modern twists on the classics," and 3.1 Phillip Lim captures that beautifully with this epauletted take on the "Pennsylvania Tuxedo." Versatile too: you can shoot squirrels in this thing in the afternoon, then wear it out for a night on the town.
The classic Negroni is simply equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. You can do better.
5 parts Plymouth gin
2 parts Campari
1 part Pimm's No. 1 Cup
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part dry vermouth
2 dashes of orange bitters
Quick shake or stir and pour into chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.