Magnificent Bastard

Monday, October 20, 2014

understatement

Ask the MB: More on Monograms

None of the above
None of the above
Q: Where does the MB stand on shirt monograms? I feel like pocket lettering is trying too hard, but having initials peek out from a cardigan sleeve could bring things up a level.
—Mike


A: Mike, it's TTH on the sleeve, too. We've covered this before, arguing that they violate the understatement principle (while also managing to work in a picture of Pippa Middleton's ass), but forgot about the legible clothing principle, which they also clearly violate.

As for the monogrammists' arguments, they speak for themselves, like Howard at Ask Any About Clothes who posts, "I like monograms sometimes. It represents the feeling of being important and professional."

Earlier: Ask the MB: Monograms

Ask the MB: Black or White Dialed Watch?

Ask the MB: Black or White Dialed Watch?
Q: Hello, I am just about to start college and in need of a watch. I read on the site about military-inspired watches and do love the O&W watches but they are definitely out of my price range. I diverted my attention to your other suggestion which was the J.Crew's military-inspired watch, and for $150, I think they are fairly priced. My question is, your original posts about the O&W and J.Crew watches all have black dials but I am leaning towards the white dial version of it available on J.Crew's site. Is the white dial military-inspired watch still MB-endorsed?
—Sean


A: Sean, keep in mind that a watch like the longtime MB favorite, the O & W Kartargo, is built to last for decades. Over time, a reliable watch that never goes out of style becomes a treasured, faithful companion — sort of like a tiny mechanical dog that will never shed on your clothes or shit on your rug. Viewed in this light, the Kartargo's current price of $489 is not all that extravagant. But if that truly won't work for your budget, there are other far less expensive options, especially if you are OK with a quartz movement.

For a mechanical military watch on a budget, consider the Military Watch Company's GG-W-113, which follows the specifications (PDF) issued by the U.S. government for infantry watches in 1962. (We first saw these watches at Hickorees, but unfortunately, they're currently out of stock there.) The GG-W-113 is made in Germany, it's water-resistant to 30 meters, has a hack system for anal-retentive time-setters, and it only costs $125. While the Kartargo is automatic, you will have to wind the GG-W-133 by hand, every day, for several seconds. It will seem grueling at first, but then you'll come to look forward to this little daily ritual, this brief acknowledgement that life is fragile, temporary, always in danger of running down unless you make an effort to push forward.

Oh, right, your question: What do we think about white dials? Military watches invariably feature black dials because that makes them less conspicuous in combat situations. While you probably don't need to take precautions against sniper fire in everyday life, we still greatly prefer black dials for civilian use. They're more understated than white dials, and, in our opinion, more readable too.

5 Ways Not to Look Like Yankee Doodle Toolbag on the 4th of July

Note the subtle jet plane detail
Note the subtle jet plane detail
Nothing tests the Magnificent Bastard principle of understatement more than holidays. Halloween is the worst, followed closely by the 4th of July. Red, white, and blue are great colors for Ol' Glory and beer cans, but unless you're a superhero, too much red, white, and blue in your wardrobe at any one time can make you look like you're hitting the bricks to shill your local tax return service. If you're looking for a role model, choose Founding Father Thomas Jefferson over Uncle Sam — subtlety trumps bombast every time.

Of course, on a day when bombs — or at least their Las Vegas cousins, Class 1.1G fireworks — are bursting in air, subtlety's a relative concept and some red, white and blue in your wardrobe is completely appropriate. With that mind, here are 5 ways to show your patriotism without looking like Yankee Doodle Toolbag on the 4th of July.

HAT

Block Elco
$50

Block Headwear makes our favorite hats. Salute the spirit of Betsy Ross by hiring a seamstress to create a new temporary hatband for you using 67 cents worth of grosgrain ribbon from M&J Trimming. Get the 7/8" size.

SHIRT

Boast Tipped Polo
$68

Is President Bush spending the 4th at his trophy ranch in Crawford, sipping a near-beer and wearing a Boast tipped polo like he did in the goold old days? We have no idea, but we like to think so.

WATCH STRAP

NATO strap
$13

Give your MB-endorsed Zulu strap a week off and go with a red, white & blue NATO strap. Just $13.

BEER KOOZIE

Red, White & Blue Beer Koozie
$4.95 for pair

Until Pabst resurrects one of our favorite beer brands of all time, you can pretend it's the real thing with the Red, White & Blue beer koozie.

JACKET

Moncler Track Jacket
$250

It's become popular in recent years to bash the French, but while America was fighting for its independence, the French gave us the spirit of Enlightment that would later inform our Constitution, military support, and, we're guessing, some pretty good pastries. Show your gratitude with this Moncler track jacket.

FINAL WORD OF ADVICE: Choose only one of these items and leave it at that. Except for the beer koozie. That goes with everything.

Ask the MB: Prince William's Big Hat

Ask the MB: Prince William's Big Hat
Q: Is it considered MB to wear an animal's entire wardrobe on your head?
—Ev345


A: Well, it's pretty magnificent to be heir to the throne of the fading empire that gave us the Magna Carta and golf, and wearing hats like the one Prince William was wearing this weekend is part of the job description.

As for anyone else? William's bearskin hat is certainly characterized by a senseless lack of utility, and scores high on archaism, organic materials, and Anglophilia as well. But its primary historical purpose — to make a soldier look bigger and more imposing in battle — violates the principle of understatement and essentially establishes the garment as elevator shoes for your head.

As you allude to, the standard hat of the British Foot Gaurds is made out of an entire bearskin. It weighs 1.5 lbs. and, most consequentially, stands 18.5 inches high. Getting in and out of limos and taxis would be a huge hassle while wearing one of these things, so until horseback reemerges as the predominant form of travel, we say "pass."

Ask the MB: Sleeve Rolling to the Right Height

Ask the MB: Sleeve Rolling to the Right Height
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.

Much like the tip of your tie should kiss the top of your pants in the way you kiss your best friend's wife, your rolled-up sleeves should kiss your elbows like you kiss your wife or girlfriend's mother — which is to say, even more temperately than you kiss your best friend's wife.

How can you tell if you've gone too far? If you can fit a blood pressure cuff in the gap between your sleeves and your elbow.

Ask the MB: Monograms

Ask the MB: Monograms
Q: I've searched the MB site and been a long time reader but cannot find anything about monograms. Pockets, cuffs? Which if either is Magnificent? A reputation is hanging on this. Thanks.
—T


A: In the context of clothing, monograms started out as a way for rich people to communicate with their launderers. "These are my shirts," a monogram says. "Return them to me, not Saltonstall."

Over time, monograms evolved into a way for anyone to communicate with people who can't afford a Kindle. "I can afford to spend $5 extra per shirt at Lands' End," a monogram says. "Meanwhile, you're just sitting there reading my shirt. Dick." Do you get what we're saying here? Monograms violate the principle of understatement, and are best left to the Donald Trumps of the world.

Plus, monograms are essentially tattoos for your clothes, and therefore just as superfluous on a truly beautiful shirt as, say, a tiny butterfly would be on Pippa Middleton's ass. Why further adorn that which is already perfect?

Ask the MB: Engagement Ring

Ask the MB: Engagement Ring
Q: Engagement rings...the inevitable awaits. I noticed a recent trend of colored/gemstones set in rings instead of the traditional diamond. Also, I am thinking of buying a gemstone ring because all of my recently engaged friends seem to have purchased rings at the same place because they all look alike. Wanting to stay MB and keep my second half MB as well, what say you about the gemstone engagement ring?
--Mitch


A: We've answered this question before regarding the man's ring (with a chart), and we'd put a gemstone engagement ring for the Mrs. at the same lousy position on the scale.

Don't do it man.

If you want to set yourself apart from your Zales-shopping peers, while simultaneously conferring loads of class upon your bride-to-be (and by association, you), apply the understatement principle and choose a band. We like platinum. A good local jeweler should be able to create one in a shape you like for roughly a grand. If not, there's always Tiffany & Co. If she requires a diamond, get two with a pair of earrings.

Ask the MB: Football Game Outfit -- Man Edition

Roll Tide. Yes.
Roll Tide. Yes.
Q: What does an MB wear to an early September (over 100 degrees) afternoon football game at the alma mater?
--Claxton


A: Even in cooler Big Ten climes, afternoon September football games against the likes of Austin Peay are best enjoyed at a bar near the stadium, rather than squeezed in with 80,000 sticky, sweaty Badger fans.

If the ticket's already purchased, follow our advice already given to Los Angeles Lakers fans: look like a fan without really trying. This means shorts, shoes/sandals, and a t-shirt/SS you'd feel comfortable wearing to a non-gameday BBQ, with only a subtle hint of your team loyalties. In other words, somewhere in between the plastic flip-flop, team jersey, backward ballcap-wearing undergraduate throngs, and the legible grey-haired alum with the world's worst sunburn.

10 Sneakers for Summer 2010

10 Sneakers for Summer 2010
Last week we had a shorts-with-shoes question and answered the first part. Now for some shoe suggestions.

First, some guidelines:

1.) Clear some room at the end of the bench for Chuck and Jack this summer. They've been playing non-stop all year and could use a breather.

2.) Sneakers that you plan to wear with shorts are one item where we give more leeway than we usually do to bright colors, patterns, and logos. Don't go crazy though. If Turtle from Entourage would wear it, you've probably gone too far.

3.) Sticking with white or gray is your best bet for picking a shoe that can work with a wide variety of shorts. (Important note: If you're a size 12 or over, do not go with an all-white shoe unless you're trying to pick up work as a clown at children's birthday parties.)

4.) If you're dying to incorporate red velour into your wardrobe, a pair of sneakers is the only place to do it.
Topman

Topman Grey Jersey Plimsolls
$32

If the world must have sleeveless t-shirts, we like to think that all those amputated sleeves go to some greater style purpose -- like adding a textural twist to classic gray plimsolls.
ShoeLab

ShoeLab Dark Brown Sneaker
$49

The sneaker scientists at the UK brand ShoeLab get the overdying just right on these. They look nicely faded and disheveled, but stop short of trying too hard.
Tretorn T56

Tretorn T56 Canvas
$55

The T56s offer timeless style. Our great-great-great-great-great-grandkids will be wearing these in 2210. In 2010, they're the shoes we reach for when we know the evening's going to involve some furious table tennis action.
Superga

Superga 2750 Classic
$65

"Leave your socks at home," the Superga website enthuses, because the interior of the 2750 feature finished inseams. We like that touch but we're not going to go that far. For all summer sneaker-wearing we recommend the Banana Republic no-show socks.
Williot

Williot Gabardine Wool Sneakers
$79

Williot is a Spanish brand that made its debut in the U.S. market last summer. If you want to look sporty but not athletic -- i.e., you aren't planning to do anything more strenuous than mixing cocktails by the pool -- these are a great choice.
Lyle & Scott

Lyle & Scott Canvas Plimsolls
$85

Scottish brand with a golfing heritage, founded in 1874. Just like Scottish singer Susan Boyle, these plimsolls are built a little more solidly than many others on the market.
Cole Haan

Cole Haan Air Mercury Sport Oxfords
$98

Why are we recommending these Chuck clones and not the real thing? Thanks to the hidden Air Nike technology hidden in the heel, they're one of the few Chuck-style shoes that you can play basketball in and not sentence your feet to a lifetime of Bill Walton-like pain. When your day involves anything more strenuous than a J. Crew photo shoot, wear these.
TST

TST
$125

Designer Seishi Tanaka hand-draws the sketches for the TST line and it shows. This model leans toward the more athletic end of the athleisure shoe spectrum -- we think we could actually play some touch football in it -- but it has an organic quality not found in the hyper-engineered footwear of, say, Nike or Reebok.
Pataugas

Pataugas Rock
$138

If you want to add a Gallic touch to your Fourth of July barbecue, try these sneakers from Jean Paul Gaultier's shoe line, Pataugas. (You can pick up last year's slightly different model at yoox.com for only $89.)
Prada

Prada Velour Sneaker
$295

For those with the bucks, deluxe Chucks. "Red velour" and "understated" aren't words that usually go together, but we think they apply here.

Ask the MB: Shirtless Jogging

Ask the MB: Shirtless Jogging
Q: I'm in between jobs right now, so I've been taking time to work out and run every day. With the weather warming up I've been wondering if it's okay to jog shirtless yet. How warm does it have to be, or how in shape must I be, to justify this?
--Mike


A: Mike, you should never jog shirtless. If you have some extra chub, shirtless jogging is a violation of common courtesy -- no one should be subjected to seeing all that giggle while they're taking their dog for a walk.

On the other hand, even if you look like The Situation on steroids (yes, we know that's probably redundant), shirtless jogging is a violation of the MB principle of understatement. We recommend a simple, logo-less tank-top, preferably nothing synthetic or resembling that of a true professional.

Greg Norman Loses in Style

Greg Norman Loses in Style
The Shark's signature final-round folds remain the same, but thankfully his wardrobe has changed. Eschewing bright colors and patterns in favor of neutrals, now he chokes in style. Might this style evolution be the influence of new bride Chris Evert?

Top: Norman at his last triumph in 1993 at Royal St. George's, looking quite peculiar

Bottom Left: Norman on Saturday in white polo with ivory cashmere v-neck

Bottom Right: Norman on Sunday in black-on-black

What an MB Can Learn From a Mahdi Army Fighter

What an MB Can Learn From a Mahdi Army Fighter
As seen yesterday in Basra, Iraq:

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.

POURCAST

BETA

Sidecar

  • 2 parts Germain-Robin Craft Method brandy
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice

Lightly shake with ice, then pour into a ice-filled rocks glass. Based on your tastes, brandy choice, and strength of the lemon juice, you should adjust the Cointreau and lemon juice to find proper balance.


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