Q: What do you think of this?
— Elliot (longtime reader and customer)
A: Want to look like a million bucks? Start with $115 billion, then wear this jacket. ALL SALES FINAL.
Q: What do you think of this?
— Elliot (longtime reader and customer)
A: Want to look like a million bucks? Start with $115 billion, then wear this jacket. ALL SALES FINAL.
Q: Just found myself in possession of a 10 year old 911 convertible. The problem: lots of sun exposure, even here in northern CA. So I need a hat. No point in having a car like this and dying of skin cancer. So what do you think? The straw fedora seems dated, and with no small douche factor. Ball caps seem too casual. Sombreros have great coverage, but... cowboy hat?
A: Chris, congratulations on your new set of wheels. As we've written before, convertibles are the unstructured blazers of automobiles.
But we recommend against wearing a hat. Thomas Magnum P.I.'d at 21° N — compared to your less UV-intense NorCal ~36° N — and he rarely donned the Tigers cap behind the wheel of Robin Masters' 308 GTS. Why? We believe it's because he (and Rick) knew: there is no better hair stylist on earth than Mother Nature.
What you need instead is some good face protection. For jaunts you'll be fine with our previously-endorsed Verso #2 Day Cream. Fantastic stuff. Need to make a run for the border? Quick, throw a sombrero in the trunk and put on some Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Face Liquid. Unscented, non-staining, 50 SPF. We agree with the reviewer who says it's the "Holy Grail of sunscreen."
Thanks for the question, and enjoy the many good hair days that lie ahead.
Q: I just bought tickets to The Nutcracker for December 6th in Minneapolis. What would a Magnificent Bastard wear to a ballet? I have a new grey cashmere turtleneck by 8, I want to wear if possible.
A: David, glad to hear you're into an 8 cashmere turtleneck. 6 years after our original recommendation, we still have a strong buy rating on this item, and it's definitely on the ballot for the forthcoming MB HOF.
To complete the outfit, consider:
1. PANTS: Makers & Riders Travelers Jean in Coal. $89.
A few weeks ago we said we'd try these and we're glad we did. They're not just stretchy (6% spandex) but also remarkably flexible: we cannot think of an activity or event where they wouldn't feel right, including The Nutcracker. Owner Chris Ontiveros is closing down Makers & Riders so get these before he shutters, or we sell him out. (Seriously, we're buying enough of these to last 50 years.) Use the code MR15 for 15% off. NB: These are vanity-sized by a full 2 inches.
2. BLAZER: 8 by YOOX in Glen Plaid. $179.
8 provides such great value there was panic last year when YOOX pulled all things 8 from their site. But just a few months later the brand was reincarnated as "8 by YOOX" — finally owning up to its corporate ownership — and it's better than ever. Their blazers are fantastic and check all the boxes: a modern fit, meaty lapels, and functioning buttonholes. This Glen plaid version is just $179. NB: Unlike everything else 8, the blazers run small. Order one size up, and if you're between, two.
3. SHOES: Pantofola d'Oro Brown Wing-Tips. $185.
Longtime readers know we've been fully sneakerized. But we respect those who are still dipping their toes into it, which is why we're suggesting these wing-tipped training wheels. NB: In the Italian style, PdO runs one size small.
4. FLASK: Wentworth Pewter 6 oz. Flask. ~$68.09.
Our live events involve lots of tequila shots, vodka Red Bulls, and overly-aggressive pat-downs. We're betting The Orpheum has none of those, and you may need help getting through the 2nd act. Will fit inconspicuously into the blazer's inside pocket; plus, Anglophilia.
Have a great time.
Anyone else have a question? We'd love to hear from you. Ask the MB is just a click away.
We've specified one blazer for our client, and when limited to a single blazer an MB principle is for it to be velvet (for F/W). If it didn't aggressively crush our entire $2000 budget this camel Gucci version from farfetch would be a no-brainer, so we retreated to The Amazon of the Fashion World and settled on a charcoal grey version by Tonello. $273.
It fits beautifully with the uniform we're building for Dave (the client). See for yourself in the brand-new Dresserizer, the name we've given our one-touch getting-dressed app. (Still in early beta.)
We Threw This One Back
The reason we're buying F/W in S/S is to maximize bang for the buck. We got this $650 vicuna cashmere Lauren Ralph Lauren blazer for $140. It ended up being a little too trad for our look and the color didn't fully work with the uniform palette, but it might work in yours. Definitely worth consideration.
Budget Update: We've purchased enough pants/shirts/sweaters/blazers for 64 different wardrobe combinations (that mostly work) in the Dresserizer and spent less than a grand. That leaves more than a grand. Stay tuned for footwear!
Recently we identified what we won't be wearing on the links in 2019 and beyond: Jim Nantz by Vineyard Vines. But it got us thinking, what is the Nantz antidote? What can we wear this spring to counter the effects of comfort-fit khakis and quarter-zip sweaters?
One answer: Canali.
We've had our eye on Canali — typically known for its Italian suiting — since the 2014 Ryder Cup, when Europe crushed USA in their ridiculously sporty plaids, while some members of Team USA actually thought it was OK to wear mock turtleneck compression tees under polos. Bubba Watson championed this look even more than Jim Furyk, and seemed more interested in dressing up like a Yankee Doodle Toolbag than competing, going 0-3.
Anyhow, 5 years later we've invested wisely enough to invest in a little Canali, like this mercerized cotton polo, and for the team photo this blazer that epitomizes nearly everything we've written about blazers over the past 11 years. Is this enough to counter the powerful effects of Jim Nantz and the Vineyard Vines marketing team? We're unsure, but we're certainly going to try.
One of our readers recently started a new white-collar gig in downtown Minneapolis, and based on an Ask the MB post from last year, asked us to get him dressed in a similar way. For the right price, we agreed.
STYLE ARCHETYPE: Our client's target archetype was "English landed gentry," and while Anglophilia is an MB principle, it immediately conjured thoughts of Roger Stone at Trump's inauguration. After some back-and-forth we landed on "urban landed gentry," which forgoes top hats and double-breasted suits in favor of plaids, tweets, velvets, and corduroys. It also allows for sneakerization of his footwear.
BUDGET: We settled on $2000 as a ballpark to purchase 4 woven shirts, 3 sweaters, 2 blazers, 3 pants, 2 shoes, one suit, and a few accessories for a fall/winter collection. It's a somewhat arbitrary number but constraints are useful to drive creativity and craftyness. Bonus: F/W 2018 is on sale we should get tremendous bang for the buck.
TIMING: We are preternaturally lazy — and also perpetually lit — so our client is currently going to work naked. But we plan on having him wearing his new F/W clothes just in time for S/S.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?: It's one thing to sit here and publish suggestions to a newly-minted museum director. It's quite another to actually order the items, try things on, see what fits and works in the overall look, and what doesn't. We plan on posting tasting notes on the keepers and the ones that got thrown back (and why) for our readers' benefit. Finally, and most importantly, we are getting paid.
FIRST UP: Woven shirts. We'll hopefully have a report on our successes — and failures — next week.
Q: What is your position on turtleneck sweaters?
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:
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.
EARLIER: Is Steve McQueen wearing a mock turtleneck in Bullitt? (Spoiler alert: no.)
* That sales reduction number is made up for the purposes of a joke, but we are expecting Cohen's $4,000 model to hit the clearance rack at Neiman's.
** We have no relationship with YOOX.
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 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.
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!
Earlier: Ask the MB: Teacher Look
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Good luck on the new job!
Who is the best dressed Republican now?
A: This will take some time to figure out, but our first reaction to your question reminds us of the proverb, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."
Meanwhile, it's safe to say anyone attending last weekend's Republican leadership meeting at Camp David is out of the running, especially at the top:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell paired a brass button blue blazer with dad jeans and Hush Puppies.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who's somehow devolved from his losing 2012 look, wore creased wide-legged khakis with fleece, beneath a suit jacket with underweight lapels.
If anyone has suggestions for Best-Dressed GOP please drop us a note and if we use your suggestion on air we'll send you free stuff.
Q: I love your site and have been a reader for a while, but I don't think you have explicitly commented on this:
I know you like jacket lapel widths to be 3 1/8" or greater, but what is too wide (for 2017)? I recently purchased a great Lab. Pal Zileri jacket from YOOX and the lapels are pushing 3.5" inches. I wear a size 40 jacket, so the lapels end about half way between my collar and my shoulder.
A: As you suggest, our ideal lapel width is 3⅛ inches. If a jacket has lapels that are thinner than that, we're unforgiving: It must be released back to the wild. But if lapels come in a little wider than our ideal, we're more accommodating. The reason? Tom Ford expressed the principle that guides our thinking:
"There is something a bit meager and uptight about a skinny tie and jacket...I think that accentuating the natural V of a man's body makes men look more masculine, less boyish, and in general more powerful."
So exactly how much wider should you consider going?
That depends on how long you'd like to keep wearing the jacket in question. For us, 3⅛" is the golden mean that looks great in perpetuity. As our chart below shows, any deviation from that value, however small, decreases a garment's potential lifespan and puts its wearer at increased risk of future embarrassment and even shame.
At 3.5 inches, your jacket will continue to look good at least through 2025, and should not look violently out of fashion for far longer — provided, of course, Trump aide Stephen Miller does not stage a coup.
EARLIER: The great tie and lapel width debate: Band of Outsiders' Scott Sternberg vs. Tom Ford
Q: How awesome is our new press secretary's sense of style?
A: Dave, we appreciate the hanging curveball. And yet... we're not quite ready to fire Sean Spicer. Why? Adaptability.
Yes, Donald Trump's new spokesman looks like a high-school wrestling coach crossed with a fire hydrant. Supergirl appears to tower over him, as does everyone else.) Plus, he's carrying at least 30 extra pounds, a combination that makes him resemble a slab of precast concrete. Clone him half a dozen times, and his boss's border wall would be nearly complete.
But while Spicer kicked off his career as Donald Trump's squattest spokesmodel ever with a meme-starting, career-threatening performance, we've also seen him make significant improvement in just one week. In light of this, we're withholding final judgment for now, and in the spirit of bipartisan style guidance, holding him up as an object lesson for all to learn from.
Let's break it down to date.
Day 0: Possibly the last man on earth who should be wearing a spread collar wore one. Then he paired it incorrectly with a four-in-hand knot and a jacket that engulfed him even more thoroughly than the XXL podium. If Spicer was trying to set the bar low, he succeeded. And yet even with this disastrous start there was a point of light: No stupid flag pin, or those other ugly lapel pins that Team Trump uses to indicate who shall be spared when the Purge begins.
Day 1: The ridiculously huge jacket gape is gone but the lapels are too narrow for his body shape and his tie. (Lapels and ties need to echo each other.) The spread collar has been replaced with something resembling a point. It's nothing we'd ever wear, but at least he now looks he could hold down the weekend anchor spot in a mid-sized market.
Day 2: He's starting to pull it together. Lapels and tie roughly match, and both are in a weight that matches his age and body type. Point collar + four-in-hand is proper. Okay, wait a second ... one step forward, and three steps back. The .50 caliber wedding ring is bad enough, and then a fucking jelly bean bracelet? We know it says "Dad" on it. But we're still assuming this is some kind of Fancy Bear hack and thus won't hold Mr. Spicer totally accountable.
Day 3: More of the same from Day 2. But the jacket fits and the proportions make sense.
For now, at least, we'll give him a two-fisted finger gun for effort and improvement.
Q: I need guidance on dressing for a Christmas party. Unfortunately, dress code is unknown (and my girlfriend doesn't think this is a big deal) but this is my first time meeting any of her friends from outside of our mutual friends. All I know is that it's at the friends apartment in Manhattan and that he works for Facebook (so a broad gamut of possibilities exist...).
I was thinking of just layering a white button down with a cashmere v neck sweater and a blazer with some dark jeans, but I wanted backup. My most casual blazer is a black corduroy one that fits well, but no idea if that's MB approved. I would probably just go with a dark grey cotton blazer that I have instead. I want to be a little dressy, but without going overboard and I figure with the blazer I can ditch it right away if I'm overdressed.
Ended up rambling a bit, but any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Our gut instinct is to pair it with a pair of camel moleskin 5-pocket pants. These were once plentiful on the web but have inexplicably moved into endangered species territory. Did PETA think they were actually made from moles?
Anyhow, Bonobos has implemented a robust moleskin protection plan and still offers their Moleskin Jean in chestnut (in a ridiculous number of fit and size combinations), and this pair of pants will offer both leg-covering and ball-warming utility long after the party is over.
For footwear, we're still strongly in sneakerization mode, and in this case would likely opt for actual sneakers, like these minimalist Certain Victorys (formerly Hydrogen-1).
Finally, you mentioned nothing about accessorization and we feel like this outfit needs it. May we suggest disrupting the dressier choice of a tie around your neck, and try tying a tie around your waist instead with our own version, the Joseph Kandell. (Check out Joe's LinkedIn profile for details on his transition from Barney's skinny tie to middle-management support of vertical apparel installations such as moleskin jeans).
Above all, have fun, but don't get so shitfaced that your ridiculous Bulleit-fueled dance moves end up on a Facebook video. Not that we would know anything about that.
Q: Bought a new David Naman blue velvet blazer on YOOX. The lapels are a little too thin. What's an MB to do? I have 19 days to return it.
A: We could answer this very quickly, but this is important, so indulge us for a bit.
David Naman makes some of the highest style/price-ratio clothes in the world. But your assessment — "a little too thin" — is right on the nose. They are what we call "Keira Knightly thin." Which is to say, not alarmingly emaciated supermodel thin, but still a little narrow for our taste. We are longtime advocates of ties that are at least 3" wide, and lapels that echo them. For us, any blazer with a lapel narrower than 3" is catch-and-release.
More importantly, if you ever have a second thought about a sartorial purchase, follow a key MB principle and always return it, no matter what the price or savings. Keeping an item you're not thrilled with leads to regret, and regret — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but always inevitably — leads to a search for a red clothing dumpster that is not so overflowing with Dockers and Crocs that it can accommodate your cast-offs too. We cannot stress this enough: You can ultimately learn to adapt to the quirks, anomalies, and even deficiencies in other human beings, but your clothes and your shoes must be perfect. No compromises. When you compromise, you're stealing from yourself.
So are you going to return that blazer? Of course you are.
Given the alternatives, we wager President Obama would have a credible shot at overturning the 22nd Amendment this fall. But apparently he has higher aspirations than a third term. Comments he made in a Bloomberg interview suggest he may be contemplating a career as a venture capitalist or Silicon Valley CEO.
The President says his interest in science and organization would correlate well with a new life in Silicon Valley. For us, though, it's the outfit he wore when returning from his recent trip to Europe that shows how perfectly ill-suited he is for the highest echelons of high-tech.
In this expert take on Partners Meeting Casual, the President compresses so many awful touches into a single ensemble we imagine he must have access to some fashion-centric version of the Pied Piper platform. While he may not be ready to compete with Zuck or Larry Page yet, we'll certainly put him up against, say, John Doerr or Jeff Bezos. As soon as he ditches that helicopter for a Tesla, that is.
What's wrong exactly? Here's our quick assessment, with links to where we've covered these issues in the past:
Q: Want to get your expert opinion on a blazer I'm looking at for a summer wedding in a few days. It's between this Vineyard Vines version (I would not go as preppy as the guy in the picture), this one from Golden Goose, and finally this one from MM by Mariomatteo. What you say, o' Fashionistas?
A: Let's break these down using a modified PMI Chart.
—Horn Buttons (+2)
—Dual Vent (+3)
—Ends at Nutbag (+4)
—Photographic Pairing with White Pants (+5)
—Strictly Spring/Summer (-3)
—Exposed Interlining on Flap Pockets (-3)
—Dated Lapels (-4)
—Price [$395] (-2)
—VV founders do not inspire confidence; may actually register positively on the toolbag self-assessment (-5)
—Endorsed by John Kerry (-3)
—Functional Buttonholes (+3)
—Updated Lapels (+4)
—Ends at Nutbag (+4)
—Made in Italy (+3)
—Patterned Fabric (-2)
—Single Vent (-1)
—S/M/L Sizing (-2)
—Price [$312] (-1)
|—Golden Goose generally makes great gear (+3)||15|
—Price [$198] (+4)
—Dual Vent (+3)
—Patch Pockets (+4)
—Updated Lapels (+4)
—Ends at Nutbag (+4)
—Made in Italy (+3)
|—Non-functional Buttonholes (-3)||—MB founders own MM blazers, and with some aftermarket buttonholing, they've been terrific buys (+5)||28
Considering a few items and can't decide? Ask away and we'll apply modified PMI methodology to your sartorial conundrums.
On the court, Stephen Curry is the epitome of style, making the impossible look effortless. Off the court it's a different story. Here we see Curry overachieving as usual, by combining a blazer with t-shirt; an oversized watchface; excessive male jewelry; and crane safety jazz-hands. By our count, that's a toolbag four-pointer! Let's hope his knee heals up quick.
Q: I'll be attending a corporate holiday party with a "black and white semi-formal attire or LA cocktail attire" dress code. Can I get some suggestions? I don't want to look like a broken groom who was just left at the alter. Thanks.
A: For all but the most exclusive occasions, party dress rules are like speed limits: No one expects you to follow the absolute letter of the law. Or in your case, even the spirit. To wit, we ran the phrase "LA cocktail attire" through Google Translate and, here, apparently is the rough approximation: "If you look like Bradley Cooper or Johnny Depp, wear whatever the fuck you want. If you like Harvey Weinstein, consider a tie and jacket. But still wear whatever the fuck you want."
Indeed, have you seen a red carpet lately?
But we don't recommend dollar bill or feather prints. Instead we suggest, from bottom to top:
FOOTWEAR: If you think you can pull off a pair of sandals, then do that, and make certain you schedule a pedi for the day of. Buff. A less-bold play that still requires no lacing or socks are these Prada loafers in two-tone color and fabric.
PANTS: Our tendency is to make slacks the star of the show, and these Dries Van Noten wool tartans are clearly down with the holidays.
SHIRT: White and crisp with a point collar. Top two unbuttoned.
BLAZER: Deferring to the pants, keep this simple. Blue, of course, but let's echo the shoes with Jil Sander.
We're always on the lookout for uncommon plaids to put into the rotation with ginghams under solid blazers, cardigans, and the rare crew. Throw in a point collar — which is practically on the endangered species list — and we're usually sold, even at full boat.
We've had our eyes on these two Alex Mill examples for months, but based on the wide range of sizes available, wagered on waiting until Barney's Warehouse decided to blow them out, as they are now: originally $155, reduced to $47.40 with free shipping. All sales are final but these fit true to size.
On September 9, at 45° N, the wearing window for an unlined madras blazer is barely open wide enough for a mosquito to pass through. But if you are in lower latitudes, the southern hemisphere, or just want to prep for spring 2016, we recommend this Henry Cotton's slim fit version.
Because it is madras, yes, it is partially linen. But cotton retains a controlling 55% stake. Functional buttonholes. Proper ball-sack length. Perfectly proportioned lapels. Originally $309, marked down to $67, and with the 20% discount code FRIENDS this statement piece is just 53 bucks. (Order up a size, and if you're on the fence, two. Discount code valid through 9/13.)
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?
A: Should your polo be tucked or untucked? Both.
We often poke fun at J. Crew's narrow blazer lapels — which are so badly proportioned models try to claw their way out of them. But their polo page is an instructive display of artful dishevelment, a core MB principle. Our advice on achieving this look is similar to our advice on how to tie a bow tie: drink three martinis very quickly, put on your pants, and then just try to tuck in your shirt.
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.
I am in need of a slim fit navy wool blazer. Please point an aspiring MB in the right direction.
A: Well, definitely not J.Crew. A full year after a spring blue blazer post, this J.Crew model's fingernails show he's still desperately trying to claw his way out of an overpriced, prop-buttoned, anorexically-lapelled Ludlow (left).
We'd suggest giving one of these two Hardy Aimes blue blazers a try. They're the requisite wool and slim-fit, have lapels with a BMI in the normal range, and being from Savile Row, fulfill our Principle of Anglophilia. And the best part? Until 11:59 EDT April 6 they're each about 80 bucks.
Forget 40 times, number of bench press reps, Wonderlic test scores, and hours of college tape. If you're an NFL General Manager and still debating between two players at the top of your draft board, let the number of buttons on their jacket be your guide.
First I must say I am a great fan of your writing, and I am delighted to find you back.
With that said, I feel compelled to respond to your 3-button / 2-button post of February 18, 2014. I must politely disagree with your conclusion that the 2-button suit shows more class than 3-button.
If you scroll down the Kennedy-Nixon photo in your post so that only the suits are seen (removing the influence of the photogenic Kennedy and the smarmy Nixon), I think it is undeniable that the 3-button suit is more likely to belong to a higher-status individual than the 2-button. Nixon's 3-button could easily be a bank president, while Kennedy's 2-button (with Kennedy removed) could just as easily be the owner of a car dealership or the president of the local Rotary. Replace Kennedy's pocket square with a couple of cigars and you have Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack. Not so with the 3-button.
For the record, I am a committed 2-button man. It suits my build, I like the look, and I feel like James Bond when I'm fitted out in a British-silhouette 2-button. The 3-button has always reminded me of a lab coat. These personal distinctions may result from my early 1960s childhood, when the young and fashionable sported 2-buttons (such as Kennedy, later the Rat Pack) and old men and fuddy-duddies the 3s. But that was BF for me (Before Fussell, who, by the way, I have MB to thank for introducing me), and now I notice and interpret things differently. While I am not arguing Fussell's infallibility, I think the 'proleness' of the 2-button is evident in the way the V broadens the shoulders in the same way as (Fussell points out) do epaulettes, emphasizing strength and, thereby, physical labor. The 3-button wearer in the photo appears never to have done a day of physical labor in his life, and I believe that is the intent.
Even your example of Todd Palin works against your argument, I think: Palin is a physical laborer and could model a 2-button to advantage, yet he dresses (or is being styled) to appear higher-classed. (Forget Ahmadinejad, of course; he looks like he gets his clothes at a rummage sale.)
I am glad to finally get this off my mind, as I had been dwelling on it (and particularly because I had learned about Fussell through your site and have been greatly influenced by him). I have also long intended to write to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. And I absolutely love the new logo. Keep up the great work!
A: We welcome reasoned dissent from our readers and it's clear you've given this topic a lot of consideration — we especially admire how you use Fussell's observations regarding epaulettes against us! That hurts. But to continue the discourse, here is a thought: If a 2-button jacket is working correctly, it doesn't merely broaden the shoulders (as we agree epaulettes do). It reinforces the overall V-shape of one's torso, which is to say, it broadens the shoulders while narrowing the waist.
The sort of hard labor that creates this shape, in our experience, is many hours at the gym, many hours in the pool, or perhaps if you have very good genes and disciplined eating habits, many hours on fairways or polo fields. It is a look, in short, that comes from (moneyed) recreation rather than full-time bricklaying or ditch-digging, which tends to create a thicker, lumpier, less elongated look.
As for Todd Palin, we agree with your analysis — he no doubt turns to 3-button suits because Frank Luntz (or some other top-notch GOP campaign consultant) has determined through extensive focus-group testing that small-town conservatives of a certain age equate 3-button jackets with bankers, brokers, and other corporate nine-to-fivers maintaining the lower rungs of the top quintile.
But who, other than Todd Palin's wife, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie want to win that vote? Not us, and not you! As we think Fussell would agree, there's a difference between what a prole thinks an upper looks like, and what an upper looks like. In this case, the difference is as subtle as a single button. But as you have found out from your own experience, that single button (or lack of it) makes all the difference in the world. Keep wearing 2-button jackets, and keep challenging us to think more deeply about the choices we make. We appreciate the feedback!
2.5" lapels but it's only $171 this week with a 25% discount. Lapels too narrow?
A: Are you trolling us? On the very day we lament the unfortunate Ludlowization of the suit market, you send us a link to a J. Crew blazer that bears the mark of the beast!
For the most part, we think you are showing the right instincts. An unconstructed, patch-pocketed blue blazer is an essential item in any man's wardrobe. And we like the cut and color of Brûlé's blazer, even if we're somewhat wary that it violates our prohibition against garments where linen retains a majority ownership stake in the blend.
But you already seem to know one of the big problems with that J. Crew blazer. Its lapels are so skinny they could have served as Matthew McConaughey's body double in Dallas Buyer's Club. We're also not crazy about its tint. The blue of Brûlé's jacket has a natural organic depth to it. The Crew version has a slightly electrified sheen that makes us think of Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell dancing the night away.
The overall impact? Even J. Crew's model is desperately trying to claw his way out of that Ludlow! Look at the poor guy's fingernails.
Our recommendation: Spend a little more than you were perhaps hoping to spend, and get into this blazer from Z Zegna — assuming it's the right size for you. If it's not, keep looking for something with wider lapels and a subtler shading. The gratification you feel when getting a great deal lasts for a moment. The gratification you get from wearing exactly what you want to be wearing lasts much longer.
We freely admit our knowledge of global affairs is limited. But Ukraine has us especially baffled. Based on this photo of Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine's Parliament appears to have a two-drink minimum. But no dress code?
As longtime champions of business casual, we love that tall tumbler of what we're interpreting as bourbon on the new Acting President's desk. But isn't there some provision in the Geneva Convention that says that when you're the leader of an entire country, you have to wear a tie to work?
Obviously, Mr Turchynov has a lot of things on his plate right now, and shopping for ties is not one of them. Which is why we're reaching out, in a gesture of global goodwill, and sending him a complimentary wool tie.
As the photos above document, a Leotardo is now on its way to Kiev.
"They're about as Waspy as a shoe can get, but in the hands of Tom Ford, the favored footwear of country-clubbers everywhere has acquired some genuine sex appeal."
Sorry, Tom, the only place we like tassels is on the nipples of an aging stripper named Frenchie.
"As Michael Bastian explains, 'Changing the proportion a little changes everything.' Get yours with a single pinch and tapered legs."
Even with a single pinch, pleated pants make us think of ironing, PowerPoint presentations, and bad cologne. We never want to think about any of these things.
|DOUBLE BREASTED SUITS & BLAZERS
"Oh, and one insider tip: The cool kids are calling them 'D.B.'s.'"
"Slimming and stylish, the modern six-button blazer has left the midtown office behind for the downtown scene."
Unless your height-to-weight ratio is 2 lbs. per inch or lower -- like Kid Cudi, pictured -- double-breasted suits or jackets will simply make you look fatter than you are, even if you call them D.B.'s.
"It's a shirt with a little bit of nostalgia that packs a whole lot of cool."
All the sensitive nerve endings are in the tip of your collar -- do not circumcise it.
"Say goodbye to the classic blue and white. These versatile two-tones will take you much further."
Even in such understated incarnations, saddle shoes are possibly the only footwear a pimp, a schoolgirl, and John Daly might get in a fight over. Stay out of the fray.
Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.
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