Q: What is your position on turtleneck sweaters? —Aaron
A: We're big fans.
Although we were concerned a few weeks ago when, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, it seemed like Michael Cohen could set back the cause of turtleneck sweaters 3-5 years. It was the biggest threat to the clothing article since 2012 when Michael Lohan tried it in-between tanks and mocks.
(Side note: A schlub like Cohen encroaching on established MB looks can have a real impact: Isaia's sales of blue checked blazers dropped more than 50% after he strutted around Manhattan in this one in October.*)
But the Michaels are no match for McQueen, Jagger, Bowie, Archer.
A few suggestions:
As with scarves, don't have anything in contact with your neck that isn't cashmere (or cashmere/silk).
Only a compression tee is less forgiving than a finely-woven turtleneck sweater. Unless you're built like Archer, pair with a blazer.
Rather than fold the collar like these guys, simply rely on gravity to let it settle naturally and unevenly around your neck (Principle of Artful Dishevelment).
Where should you look for good options? Where else but YOOX?** This, or this, or this are all great values. Their winter sale ended last night, but it will be just days until another one. Use our Twitter-based price-tracking tool (still in alpha) to be notified of price changes.
Q: I am trying to find something that I am not sure exists. I play tennis fairly regularly and I am looking for a performance tennis shoe that doesn't look like I just stepped out of an Academy. Currently I wear these (Asics). I like these a lot performance-wise, but I want something with a more vintage look like these (Nikes) or this (K-Swiss). Am I chasing a unicorn here? —John
A: John, those Asics you're wearing have "gel" in the model name, which we're pretty sure is a footwear prereq for enrollment into IMG/Bollettieri.
We play tennis year-round on clay, hardcourt, and even grass (see below) and have recently struggled with the same problem. For many years we wore the Rod Lavers — which are similar in style to the Nikes you admire — and while hardcourts shredded them faster than a 4.5 playing a 3, it was a small price to pay for their comfort and low-key iconicism.
Then in 2014 Adidas ruined the Rod Laver. They made them "freakishly heavy" with a sole that "feels like a 100lb slab of concrete," per the reviewers at adidas.com, with one critic adding, "If I could give a zero-star rating, I would." It's all true. Now they're discontinued entirely, which has led to the creation, naturally, of a Save the Adidas Rod Laver shoe" Facebook page. (BTW, please Like.)
But you didn't ask for a recent history of the Rod Laver. You want a performance tennis shoe with a vintage aesthetic, and we have it: The Puma GV Special. Now, Guillermo Vilas was no Rod Laver, and they were released a decade later than the Rods (1980), but they're far more rugged, and maintain compatibility with white Borg-inseam shorts and McEnroe headbands. Plus, if you look hard enough you can sometimes find them for about 35 bucks. Try 'em out and let us know what you think.
About those grass courts...
One of the many great treasures of our home state of Wisconsin is Sand Valley Golf Resort in Nekoosa. Besides 36 terrific walking-only holes (with 18 more coming in 2021), they have 9 grass courts. So along with your 3-wood and white balls, pack your woody and white balls.
Way back in April the New York Timesendorsed American Trench's Silver Crew Socks, noting AT's colorful upgrade to military socks, which are normally limited to "drab olive and other camouflage tones."
They're fine socks. They're even true military spec — which means Donald Trump won't visit them in a war zone — but we believe American Trench makes better socks. In fact, we believe they make perhaps the best socks: The Merino Activity Socks with Silver.
61% wool and 1% silver, which is enough to keep away the stinky microbes, but not enough to trigger a TSA pat-down screening. And they're not kidding about "activity"! They're the sporty sock equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. We've used them for lumberjacking, cycling, tennis, golf (alongside pants), and even poolside DJing (alongside shorts and high-tops). They're awesome for just lying around, too, especially when when temps are in brown liquor territory.
Why did we wait until Cyber Monday to tell you about them? Two reasons: One, they were out of stock on most of the colorways for most of 2018. Two, they weren't on sale until now: 15% off until 11:59 PST Monday, November 26.
Q: Hi MB. Based on your recommendation, I recently got a Woolrich White Label Quilted Mill Shirt Jacket. I love it. Thanks. What are some great (and relatively inexpensive) scarves that you'd recommend to go with it? Thanks! —Chris
A: Glad you like that jacket as much as we do.
As for winter scarves, we have one hard and fast rule: must be mostly cashmere. It's the only thing soft enough we allow draped around our necks, besides the the drunk temp at the office Christmas party.
As for colors and patterns, we've had great luck pattern-matching all kinds of outerwear with Missoni's funky stripes. And in the case of this this jacket, it's irresistible going high-low, pairing a workwear jacket designed in Pennsylvania with a cashmere scarf designed in Lombardy, Italy.
But you asked for "relatively inexpensive."
One glance at YOOX, and you can play it safe with a solid grey scarf from Arte Cashmere ($67), or if you're feeling slightly more adventurous, there's a beginner plaid-plaid matching opportunity with more Arte Cashmere in black or khaki.
Q: Hello, MB! I have recently discovered the YNAP "8" brand and was impressed with the quality, design, and bang-for-the-buck ratio. However, there is not much information about it on the internet, your Sept 7, 2017 post being the most comprehensive material. Anyhow, 8 items are suddenly unavailable @ yoox.com, and I'm wondering whether you have any insight on this. Is this a temporary situation? Is the line permanently discontinued? Any thoughts would be great, thanks.
A: We have a post that's the most comprehensive on the internet, no matter how esoteric? That's a first, and we are celebrating with a round (or two) of Magnificent Bastard Cocktails.
We agree with you on 8, of course, and it would be a bummer if YNAP shuttered the brand. We asked YOOX about it via Twitter. While it's somewhat cryptic, and perhaps written by someone whose first language is Italian (check the time), it sounds like 8 might not be dead just yet.
Stay tuned right here, Irene, to the internet's leading source of 8 news.
Q: Hello MB, I am moving to Norway and I need a raincoat. Any recommendations? I'm looking for something lightweight and affordable. I'll also be bringing along my Mobster Galoshes (thanks for that tip)! —Jay
A: Jay, we're glad you like the Mobster galoshes. They're on our "All-Time Favorites" list … which only exists in our minds right now, but which we will someday publish when we think of a catchier name for it.
The Mobsters are made by Swims, which is based in Oslo, so let's keep things simple: Buy more Swims! Norwegian rain is probably not all that much different than American rain, but why take that chance? Get something by the locals.
Of course, Swims gear is actually manufactured in China, because Donald Trump is not President of Norway (yet). But it is engineered in Norway, where they are such experts in shitty weather they don't even call the piece we're going to recommend to you a "rain jacket," because any jacket you plan on wearing more than once a year in Norway better be able to hand the rain.
Don't believe us? Oslo gets 161 days of rain a year. Bergen, Norway's second largest city, gets 240! Seattle, only 150.
(No, you didn't just accidentally land on weather.com. But honestly, stopping making such a big deal about all the rain you get, Seattle. Compared to Bergen, you're a desert paradise.)
Okay, back to our recommendation. Take a look at the Genève, described as a "sporty, all-weather, all-day, all-seasons, all-purpose jacket." Which we suspect is the Old Norse way of saying "raincoat."
If you need technical proof, here are its specs: "20.000 g/sqm/24h, 20.000 hydrostatic water column." Yup, raincoat.
We don't own The Geneve — yet — but if we ever find ourselves living in a place that gets more than 150 days of rain a year, it will be high on our purchase list. And every piece of Swims outwear we do own has been a terrific investment.
So buy with confidence, and good luck on your exciting new adventure.
As our original Converse CFCs have approached threadbare, along came Mack Weldon's more prosaically named "no-show socks", restoring a proper organic materials dominance of 85% cotton, with a padded footbed and an elastic top that perfectly balances keeping them on vs. cutting off circulation.
We're such big fans of these socks that we took advantage of Mack Weldon's 20% off $200 offer and got 26 pair of socks for $171.60 (including free shipping). Crazy? Perhaps. But as Keeling Curve data would suggest, longer ankle-exposing seasons only show signs of getting longer. (Also, we know a valuable and rare item when we see it, and when that happens we buy in bulk. Yet to regret it.)
Someday we're going to post a new feature listing our all-time favorite purchases, and the Makers & Riders Dispatch Rider Jean will be one of the first items on it. We've written about them extensively here, and while their pedigree is riding, they are as versatile a pant as Bill Murray is an actor. As one reviewer says, "These are the best pants out there! I do everything with these! Hiking, Biking, Snowboarding, you name it!"
Despite the Trumpesque capitalization, it's all true.
Is $139 still a lot for a pair of pants? Perhaps. Yet these are in our forthcoming Hall of Fame, and this price is as low as they go. On sale through August 14.
When we go a couple of weeks without posting it's because we're lazy and drunk. This time, though, we've just been drunk, and busy in the lab concocting what we believe will be the most desirable golf bag ever created. Leather, naturally. Perhaps even more minimal than the Minimum Viable Wallet. All materials and construction Made in the USA.
What's taken the longest is designing the single side bag, which is in fact 3 bags in 1: a main bag for balls and tees, a valuables pocket for your phone and wallet and keys, and another one for your cashmere sweater or windbreaker.
It's going to be magnificent. Stay tuned for updates. Our goal is to have it ready to ship for Christmas. Just don't hold us to a specific year.
It's down to 16. Who will advance? This weekend has four games, and we've run all the data through our proprietary algorithm that uses predictive analytics based on a coach's sideline presence to determine game outcomes. Here's what's going to happen, and why:
France vs. Argentina
Didier Deschamps — France
Jorge Sampaoli — Argentina
Gold bracelet. Chunky wedding ring. Ridiculously oversized watch. Between his excessive male jewelry and his "Bring me my goddamned Harvey Wallbanger!" body language, Deschamps looks more than ready to hit the Baccarat table at Caeser's. But at least his lapels are the right size. That gives him a slight edge over Sampaoli who completely undermines pretty good "Are you fucking kidding me?" Jesus Arms with a black blazer over black tee combo that Michael Lohan would be proud to rock at wherever Michael Lohan is rocking it these days. Plus it looks like he might be smuggling a couple keys of cocaine in his shoulder pads — and given recent news emanating from Argentina, that gives us pause. MB Prediction: France, 3-1.
Uruguay vs. Portugal
Óscar Tabárez — Uruguay
Fernando Santos — Portugal
Uruguay rolled through the Group A like they were all riding on Óscar Tabárez's motorized scooter, but despite sleeve-rolling at near MB levels, look for Portugal to advance on the sheer will of Santos's artful dishevelment and insouciance. He's just not into that cigarette. MB Prediction: Portugal, 1-0.
Spain vs. Russia
Fernando Hierro — Spain
Stanislav Cherchesov — Russia
"Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" is always good advice, and Spain's Fernando Hierro should have taken it. Instead, the Interim Head Coach is dressed like an Interim Head Coach — a solid performance (minimal accessorization, crest on the blazer) but nothing extraordinary, and the slightly oversized watch makes us wonder if he's truly a long-term fit. In the short term, it doesn't matter, because he's matched against Cherchesov, whose rumpled three-piece suit, black patent shoes, and over-sized ID Badge makes him look like he's head of security for a boy band from Novosibirsk. Sometimes in the World Cup, it's all about the luck of the draw. MB Prediction: Spain, 2-0.
Croatia vs. Denmark
Zlatko Dalić — Croatia
Åge Hareide — Denmark
Obviously, Knockout Phase matches cannot end in a draw, but Dalić and Hareide are pretty evenly matched here, in the timeless and understated uniform of charcoal pants, white woven, black sweater. As far as accessorization goes, Hareide's black-out sunglasses are slightly outplaying Dalic's tie — but whatever advantage that gives him is completely erased by an ID badge that appears even bigger than Cherchesov's. And maybe even bigger than a Denny's menu. We're still debating that here at MB headquarters, but giving the win to Dalic in the interim. MB Prediction: Croatia, 2-1.
Q: I'm a big dude. 6'5, 350lbs. I wear a grizzly beard and teach high school English in Canada. I'm also a fiend for wristwatches. My daily work watch is an Omega Seamaster Chronograph (41.5mm). My weekend watch is normally a Sea Dweller (43mm). Both violate the 40mm rule you live by. The issue is, if I put on either of my Submariners (39mm), my Datejusts (36mm) or my DayDate (36mm), it looks like I'm wearing my mother's watch.
I get a ton of compliments on both the Seamaster and the Sea-Dweller, and really think they look normal on my wrist (read: they don't look like a Breitling Avenger II).
What should I do? Should I wear a smaller watch, or should I keep rocking the bigger ones? —John
A: Four Rolexes? How much do they pay English teachers in Canada?!
Anyhow, in the interest of keeping things simple, the 40mm rule was meant for most guys, not men with the dimensions of an NFL offensive tackle. Nor, apparently, for chubby leaders of hermit nations.
We hereby grant you — and also Kim Jong-Un — a waiver on the 40mm rule. So keep rocking the bigger ones. Unfortunately Mr. Kim is stuck; he's wearing North Korea's only watch.
Everyone else out there wondering if they qualify for a waiver, here's a simple test: wrap one hand around the other wrist. If your thumb and middle finger overlap or touch, you're good to go. If they don't, go ahead and enlarge your watch diameter 1mm for every 1cm of gap (46mm max).
If you live north of roughly the 40th parallel, tomorrow is opening day at your private club's pool. Here's what we're wearing, alongside a handful of XL G&Ts.
1. Sunglasses Conceived as eyeglasses by designer Allyn Scura, our favorite sunglasses are the Angelo with bottle green lenses. They're simultaneously retro and modern, and comfortable enough to wear from sunrise to sundown. We've invested heavily in sunglass diversification but it has not been money well spent; we almost always end up simply grabbing the Angelos with bottle green lenses. Made in Japan.
2. Swim Trunks. In 11 years we've never made a strong swimwear recommendation despite trying everything from Penguin to Vilebrequin, but we can now: Robinson Les Bains (Oxford Long cut). While these are not nearly as unforgiving as, say, Speedo, there's not much material available for chub concealment. But if you've mixed in some salads in the off-season you're rewarded with a terrific fit and delightful touches like elasticised snap side tabs, a zipped valuables pocket, and depending on the model, a waterproof pouch. Made in France.
As you'd expect, the widest selection is at the Robinson Les Bains store. If you're not into spending 195€ (~$230), keep an eye on YOOX as these pop up often at a fraction of retail.
Bonus: Robinson Les Bains designer Christophe Vérot's 10 Rules of Style. #1: Stay fit, stand tall, and keep your head up.
Fit tip: Being French, these run petit. Order one size up.
Q: I teach at a college in the extremely Deep South — think swamps and alligators. I'm pretty happy with my general look, jeans or slacks with a woven button-up and a tie. Dress here is pretty casual; I think I'm the only faculty member who wears a tie. So, any suggestions on adding some variety to my look? Blazers or sweaters would be the solution, but it's too hot for any kind of jacket at least 8 months out of the year here. —Charles
A: While actually wearing a blazer in the blazing heat might not be an option, have you considered simply carrying one?
In our all-time favorite noir Body Heat, William Hurt rocks the look often during an especially severe Florida heat wave. (Although that was 1981, when the Keeling Curve was at a mere 335 ppm.)
If your arms are already full, consider a vest. While we're not on record endorsing vests — except for down-filled puffy ones — there is strong visual evidence that it works well for an educator like yourself.
Even if you don't look like Bradley Cooper, a vest would offer the variety you are looking for, mixing textures and patterns with your ties and wovens. As usual, try YOOX for a bunch of options. Let us know how it works out ... and keep that watch 40mm or smaller like Cooper does here!
Cutting straight through the toolbaggery like a stinger 3-wood is the simple streetwear style of the Adidas adiCross Classic. Adidas even relegated the three stripes to the heel notch, which may be obscured if you wear pants. We haven't been this excited about a new golf shoe since the Adidas "Invader" launched in 2002. Highly recommended.
Fit tip: As is always the case with Adidas, these, too, run one size small.
1. Stokely Carmichael 2. Bob Marley 3. Bruce Willis 4. Cary Grant 5. Joseph Pulitzer 6. I.M. Pei 7. John Lennon 8. Willem de Kooning 9. Claude Rains (as The Invisible Man)
Jason also nailed the tiebreaker question. "What do they all have in common?" Answer: they all are immigrants.
Stokely Carmichael: Trinidad and Tobago Bob Marley: Jamaica Bruce Willis: Germany Cary Grant: United Kingdom Joseph Pulitzer: Hungary I.M. Pei: China John Lennon: United Kingdom Willem de Kooning: Netherlands Claude Rains: United Kingdom
Jason, enjoy your new pair of Allyn Scura frames. We always recommend the legendary Legend, or the ASE Angelo, our all-time favorite sunglasses (and we own several dozen). Alternatively, you can put your $125 credit towards a pair of Allyn Scura's vintage or reproduction frames, like these ridiculously oversized and equally fun Kala Chateaus, modeled by Elliott Gould in Ocean's 11. It's your choice.
Thanks to everyone who played and we'll see you again next year for the 9th Annual ASEC.
Help! Previous "ask the MB" here (from all the way back in 2010 about the office booze cruise). I'm in need of fantastically MB watch for general use and upcoming wedding I will be attending. Sadly, both previously suggested O&W's are out of stock. I'm not a watch fanatic and go cross-eyed looking on watch forums for suggestions. Are there any other military inspired sub 40mm watches you recommend? What about this Hamilton?
Thanks. And by the way, the minimum viable wallet rocks. And these ties are 10/10 quality. —Wade
A: First, thanks for the comments on our gear. We agree! We're diligently working on a couple other things we can't wait to show off.
As for that Hamilton, while it fulfills the size and movement requirements, the dial is waaaaay TTH. Partial seconds? That's reserved for NBA shot clocks and the Olympics. And by our count there are 37 numbers, which is 1133% more legibility than the minimalist O&W Kartago (three).
We're not sure when the wedding is, but a timepiece isn't as necessary as, say, pants. Don't settle. Westcoastime assures us the O&W M-65 will be back in stock by the end of June (2018). That's a good watch. If you can wait a while longer, we're in contact with Mr. Wajs — the "W" in O&W — and negotiating on a small run of the Kartago to put in the shop.
Q: I'm looking for a versatile, high-quality, lightweight jacket that will impress me every time I put it on. Also, I live in Silicon Valley and only need some degree of wind/water protection. Any suggestions or guidance would be appreciated. —Sean
A: In a place where a disproportionate number of car doors open on the y-axis, we especially like the vaguely Steve McQueen-inspired Geox windbreaker we recommended late last year. It gets a disproportionate number of positive comments, and it's just 69 bucks.
We've kept our eyes peeled since you asked the question a month ago, and also suggest considering this equally sporty Jil Sander bomber ($252) or this Columbo-lite Belstaff peacoat ($222). Like the Geox, both are deeply discounted and available in a range of sizes, which is an almost irresistible contrarian "buy" signal that we rarely regret acting upon.
(Sale prices good through tomorrow — 3/30 — so hurry.)
Welcome to the 8th Kind-of-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge, sponsored by our all-time favorite eyewear and sunglass outfitter, Allyn Scura.
THE CHALLENGE: Identify the nine bespectacled or sunglassified MBs above and you will be entered to win a pair of Allyn Scura frames ($175 value) or a $125 credit you can apply toward any vintage frames Allyn Scura carries. It's up to you. And same as last year, we're adding a couple of MB sweeteners. The runner up gets a Magnificent Bastard tie of his/her choice and 3rd place gets a Secret Agent Belt.
To enter simply fill out the form located here with the names of the men pictured, and, in the event of a tie, what they all have in common. One entry per person. USA only. Good luck. The deadline for this contest is Friday, April 6 at midnight CDT.
But let's face it — bricks and mortar, online, it doesn't matter. In Donald Trump's America, where employment is at record highs, and coal-miners and factory workers alike are working overtime so they can buy more Berkshire Hathaway shares, no one has time "luxury athleisure." There are capital gains to be had!
So now K&A stuff is showing up on Century 21 at 85% off.
While most of it doesn't fit our aesthetic, their Crossover Polo is an interesting twist on a classic. Made from 10% cashmere, it reminds us of our own Cashmarello Easy Shirt — except that at $15 a pop, you can get 16 for what you would have had to pay for an Easy Shirt! (Not to mention that even if you have the $250 we charged for an Easy Shirt, you can't get one — as we sold out of them long ago.)
It's perhaps the most comfortable polo we've ever worn. Fits true to size.
Q: I just found your site and I am pretty thrilled someone is finally calling out the rules. I am a big guy so I tend to pay attention as much as I can to look good. I have just accepted a new position as a director at a cool museum. One of the largest and most prominent. My co-workers dress well and I need a primer for what to buy as far as basics. I want to dash the old frumpy look of a security director and add the young flavor and style to compliment my new administration. —Phill
A: Congratulations on your new gig! Follow our advice, and you'll be on the path to a wardrobe that may even have your colleagues in Acquisitions & Accessioning looking to preserve for the edification and delight for future generations.
Since you said nothing about a budget for this endeavor, we suspect that's not a major concern or constraint for you. But since you're starting from scratch, and don't have a firmly established idea of what you'll like best or what works for you, we're going to steer you toward options that represent good values.
Our point: When you're starting out, you want the freedom to experiment, without worrying about potential sunk costs and buyer's remorse. Or to put it another way, when you start golfing, you shouldn't buy Pro V1s until you've reached the point where you are no longer sending multiple drives into the woods and water every round. Develop your swing, then step up to $6 golf balls.
Okay, that's enough context. Without further ado, here's the MB Sartorial System — Young Museum Director Version (Fall/Winter). See below for assembly instructions.
SUIT  charcoal grey
When you and the mayor cut the ribbon for that new Impressionist wing, you're going to want to wear a suit. As you may have read, we're big fans of two-button charcoal grey ones. And you're in luck because Century 21 (our new favorite site, right up there with YOOX) has this Ralph Lauren version, likely in your size and with functional buttonholes, for just $220. (15 bucks off with code JOINUS31 for purchases over $150.)
BLAZERS  1 velvet, 1 corduroy, 1 plaid
We've found this to be a winning combination of F/W textures to accompany the shirts and pants you'll see in a minute. Our go-to YOOX brand for value, 8, wants just $109 for their camel velvet version. (Choose one size up.) For the others, just make sure they meet our blazer requirements.
SWEATERS  1 v-neck, 1 cardigan (both merino)
For under one of those blazers or alone on Casual Friday, you're going to need a couple of sweaters. A brand we recently discovered — and love — that provides perhaps even stronger value that 8 is +U Plusultra. Yes, its name sounds like a condom brand created by a marketing AI optimized for redundancy. But their cardigans (again, likely in your size) are now just $46.
SHIRTS  1 white, 1 blue, 1 gingham, 1 plaid (all point collar)
Getting this right is key for a fully functional system. The white and blue shirts cannot have button-down collars, because you may use them with a tie (the gingham and plaid are fine with buttons). These days point collars are an endangered species, but hang in there and don't settle for a spread or cutaway that both fattens your face and will be at resale shops shortly. Century 21 has this Steven Alan plaid for a ridiculous $25 as a starting point.
PANTS  2 brushed/moleskin, 1 corduroy (all 5-pocket)
It doesn't take a very stable genius to recognize that regular trousers on a big guy can send you into Trump territory fast. But that's not the only reason to go the 5-pocket route. 5-pocket pants are also more comfortable and modern, and can easily be dressed up for your new role. While Bonobos' version is more expensive than most of what we're recommending here, its straightforward style and overall utility make it a very safe investment.
We're normally not ones to toot our own horn, but we have created a belt that is not only a work of art, but will work with every system combination herein, including the suit. It's the 300-Year Belt (either in Classic or High Plains Noir), with a sterling silver buckle handmade by Arizona-based artist Mary Daugherty. (Free Secret Agent Belt with purchase.)
OK, so maybe we are ones to toot our own horn. Both The Cosina Veloce and The Kakutani bring unique textures and a rakishness to the system on dress-up days. (Wear with both the white and blue shirts.)
SHOES  1 shiny, 1 matte (both sneakerized)
Perhaps the easiest way to dump frumpy security director is via footwear. We've rhapsodized often about shoe sneakerization, and for both pair recommend splurging on something in the Common Projects vein, like these Common Projects dark brown will work with everything but the suit.
So, not counting the suit separates or the ties, this system provides 60 different permutations of pants, shirts, and blazers/sweaters. Throw out the handful that don't jibe (like the corduroy pants and corduroy blazer) and you still have enough variety to keep you going until spring, when we can do this all over again. Thanks for the question. It was fun.
What else could possibly explain Trump tying his tie at the proper length?
As Trump himself has previously instructed on tie length: "At most, a tie should kiss the top of your pants — and it should only kiss the top of your pants in the way you kiss your best friend's wife — with absolute restraint."
I've decided to take up smoking again because, well, I'm a nihilistic millennial, and was wondering if I could get some guidance on pipe smoking. I was set on a Churchwarden's pipe, as it's distinctive but not predictable and overused like a calabash. I feel it meets the principles of archaism, senseless lack of utility and natural materials, but will it look like I'm trying too hard?
A: Thank you for smoking! We also appreciate your nihilism; your letter has given us a lot to be hopeful for as the holidays approach and we fret about where the world is heading. But choosing a 12" long pipe is the equivalent of a guy who wears extra-long ties.
As A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie-the-Pooh once observed, "A pipe in the mouth makes it clear that there has been no mistake–you are undoubtedly a man." But a 12" pipe is a signal that you really, really, really want to broadcast that message, and even dull-eyed observers will suspect there is some deficiency informing this effort. Don't short-change yourself in this manner!
Meanwhile, we agree on the Calabash; that is purely Sherlock Holmes costume-wear.
As a much better alternative, we recommend a Prince. While lacking the senseless lack of utility of a Churchwarden, it more than makes up for it with its Anglophilia. According to The Pipe Guys, it was fashioned for Prince Albert who would later ascend to the British throne as King Edward VII, and is also accurately identified by TPG as "simple and understated."
300-Year Belt — "Classic" Edition (left)
We've been sold out for months while Arizona-based artist Mary Daughtrey carefully crafted dozens more sterling silver buckles. Leather Works Minnesota attached them to thick slabs of water buffalo that exude rugged character, are incredibly durable, and yet surprisingly soft to the touch — sometimes when we start rhapsodizing about these belts, we're not sure if we're talking about them or Clint Eastwood's face. Anyhow, it's fully back in stock. We've worn this belt every day since the first sample in 2014, it's that good. Just 297 years to go.
300-Year Belt — "High Plains Noir" Edition (2nd from left)
The "Classic" was such a hit we made another version in dark brown that we're very excited about and proud of. Get the Eastwood-inspired "High Plains Noir" Edition while they last.
Game Day Belt (2nd from right)
Never miss a game but still content to leave the body paint and giant foam finger to others? This belt all but shouts "football!" — but not in a sloppy, spit-flecked way that breathalyzers can detect at 20 paces. The strap is made from Horween "Tanned in Tack" leather — the same stuff the NFL uses to make its footballs. The buckle resembles a football, but we have it made out of metal, in Italy, to cut down on the chances of Tom Brady deflating it.
Buy any of these and receive a Secret Agent Belt (far right) for FREE, while supplies last.
It was love at first sight with this white Geox windbreaker, which to our eye looked like a low-key Steve McQueen Le Mans reference, except with 100% less asbestos.
But the starting price of $266 seemed rich, even if it's Italian and comes with Geox's patented "Respira" tech that claims to combine rain and wind resistance with breathability.
Using our price-tracker app — which we are sure hoping to get to beta by the end of the year — we watched with pleasure as the price dropped to $158, $77, and even $66 before recovering to $77, where we purchased a few. Lots still available in all four sizes. Highly recommended for spring 2018 and beyond.
NB: This item runs about 1.5 sizes small. If you are in between, go up two full sizes.
Q: I recently injured my left knee and need to use a cane. The insurance company supplied an ugly blue aluminum number that looks like it came from a drug store. Since it seems that I will need a cane for some time to come, I am thinking of trying to find a plain aluminum one or getting a nice wood cane. What do you think? —P.T.
A: P.T., if you've read our recent post about peacoats and the wisdom of following MB Principles of Anglophilia, Archaism, and Organic Materials, isn't the answer obvious? You need a vintage wooden cane from England.
More specifically, you need a Howell cane. According to cane aficionado Canequest, the brand was founded by John Howell in London in 1832, and his canes were the shit with it mid-19th century Londoners suffering from knee injuries like yours.
His image is plastered on every vertical surface in Beijing, yet at his speech at the twice-a-decade national congress, Chinese president Xi Jinping wore a nametag. This might strike some as false modesty, but it strikes us as just plain modesty. The 2nd most powerful man in the world wore a nametag like everyone else.
The 91 year-old and former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Jiang Zemin remained unimpressed.
Q: I recently bought a peacoat - dark navy, well fitted, none of those goofy epaulettes or anything like that. I say it's a timeless classic but my girlfriend says they're out of style. Who's right? —Peter
A: Peter your GF is so spectacularly wrong we're gravely concerned about any sartorial advice you may have taken from her.
Would Tom Ford be asking $4,950 for his peacoat take if he thought they were out of style?
We're big fans too, because the garment adheres to at least 3 key MB principles:
1. Principle of Anglophilia
It originated in the British Royal Navy.
2. Principle of Archaism
It's been a standard part of the United States Navy uniform since 1881.
3. Principle of Organic Materials
The definitive Naval Clothing Factory peacoat is 100% wool, with corduroy-lined pockets (cotton).
You nailed a few of our peacoat requirements (i.e. navy, flair-less, slim fit), and hopefully our most important one: a Three Days of the Condor Collar. You need to be able to stand it up tall like Redford.
Style blog consensus favors the Billy Reid "Bond" version ($695; pictured upper left), but the anemic collar is in desperate need of growth hormone, and is a disqualifying feature. For others who might be in the peacoat market, first check the local military surplus, and if you're flush consider this gorgeous Maison Margiela option.
Q: Hi MB, your summer might be over but sunlight never spares me here in Singapore. I am looking for sunglasses for cycling to work. Any suggestions? —Davin
A: We're big fans of Grant Petersen's Just Ride manifesto, which strongly objects to the ubiquitous spandex-infused cycling costume and instead favors "normal" clothing (even woven shirts!) for riding a bicycle*.
While he doesn't specifically address eyewear, we're adding a Just Ride corollary we're sure Petersen would approve of: no matter how long the ride, never wear cycling-specifictoolbagsunglasses.
Now that you're perhaps in the market for a pair of regular sunglasses, our all-time favorites are the Allyn Scura Angelo in Light Havana with bottle green lenses. They're simultaneously retro and modern, and work wonderfully for commuting rides, long rides, daydrinking, sitting around, whatever. Highly recommended.
Into a rocks glass filled halfway with ice, pour your house scotch whisky, which of course is something like Glenmorangie, Oban, Old Pulteney, Macallan, Highland Park, Talisker, Scapa, Lagavulin, Laphroaig.