Two weeks ago we settled on four shirts as the first step in the MB Build process: 3 plaids in wide-enough ranging check sizes and color combos to provide sufficient variety, and one solid, necessary for the times our client wears a tie. The total was $240, leaving a $1,760 balance from our original $2,000 budget.
Part 2 is sweaters. For now we're investing more heavily here (3) than our original museum director recommendation and going more lightly on blazers (1), simply because our client is not a museum director. These four items will pair with the shirting, creating a 16-combination torso "uniform" that takes the guesswork out of dressing for work.
Until George Jetson's robotic-arm walk-in closet can be summoned into action with a voice command, our client will still have the chore of putting his arms into armholes and pulling a sweater over his head, but sartorial decision-making can be left to the push of a button.
1, 2 When these two fantastic 4-season silk/cashmere cardigans arrived, we could barely resist keeping them for ourselves. By Heritage, another obscure Italian brand with a 40-year knitwear pedigree that we only discovered after placing this order. We got 'em for $63. They're now back up to $175, which we would still happily pay. If you find any silk/cashmere Heritage you like, buy it.
3 Ballantyne is best known for their funky argyles that rock the links, yet this solid v-neck also tempted us into theft. Like the cardigans, $63 (originally $213).
We Threw This One Back
Uniqlo is likely our top branded retailer, so we ordered this $39.90 merino crewneck. It's a fine sweater. But how ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've tried on Italian-made silk/cashmere?
UP NEXT: Pants or the Blazer, depending on what we find for our client.
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: 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.
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.
Made in the same factory in the Marche region of Italy as MB favorite Hydrogen 1, they share the same minimalist style, high-quality construction, and comfort. Originally $183. Available in sizes 8-13. Fits true to size. Highly recommended.
Q: Please weigh in heavily on the jogger pants trend that is sweeping shamefully across the country. — Dave
If we ever find ourselves on the tennis courts at the Red Raider Community Fitness Facility in April or October, we like cotton sweatpants for the first 20 minutes or so. We also endorse cashmere sweatpants under the following conditions: Intercontinental plane travel; domestic train travel that spans at least three states; recovery from any surgery that pushes you over your out-of-pocket maximum for the year; and house arrest.
Beyond that, we cast a wary eye toward sweatpants, loungewear, joggers, or whatever you want to call them.
Now, granted, in the era when we initially developed this wariness, sweatpants came in two main varieties: Shiny silk or shapeless polar fleece.
The new generation of sweatpants offers an alternative to such fare. They're cut more closely, they come in cotton, wool, and cashmere, and when designers aren't trying too hard to make them novel or sporty, there are an abundance of good options to choose from if you need a pair for any of the purposes we describe above.
And this current abundance doesn't surprise us — we see it as the inevitable consequence of aging millennials seeking relief from the unforgiving skinny jeans of their higher-metabolism youth. And of course it's yet another manifestation of culture's primary shaping force over the last 40 years or so — business casual.
But despite the significant advances in sweatpants manufacture, we don't find ourselves wanting to wear them more often. While $300 tailored sweatpants are certainly a step up from onesies, they still strike us as somewhat infantile when worn in nightclubs, restaurants, etc. And at work they cross the chasm from business casual to trying too hard (TTH).
Indeed, if your need to gamify your Monday morning meeting is so strong that you leave your colleagues wondering if you're planning to dunk on them or just share your thoughts on the Q3 revenue forecasts, you are spending way too much time at the office and not enough time engaging in actual leisure. Put on a belt, knot up your tie, and pour yourself a drink. Work shouldn't be that strenuous.
The Giants' World Series victory parade through downtown San Francisco was an alarming if not unpredictable display of brute toolbag power. Like a murderer's row of Jersey Shore extras, one player after the next swung for the fences and knocked good taste out of the park.
Luckily, relief finally showed up in the unlikely form of little-used pitcher Tim Lincecum. Though the one-time superstar only saw 1 ⅔ innings of action in the series, during a Game 2 loss to the Royals, his victory parade mechanics were in top form. No team colors? Check. No trash-talking commemorative sweatshirts or visible logos of any kind? Check. Well-tailored shacket paired with an artfully disheveled scarf and what looks to be a cashmere beanie? Check.
Put this guy back in the starting rotation, skip! He's ready to play.
Like flu doctors at the Center for Disease Control, we have been grimly monitoring worldwide onesie activity for the past year, noting national baselines, tracking geographic spreads, and conducting constant lab work to test for resistance, etc. (No animals are harmed during these experiments.)
In the past, only infants and very old people in assisted-living facilities succumbed to onesies, but a new and extremely virulent strain has surfaced in recent years. So far, outbreaks have mostly been limited to furries, Norwegians, and the occasional celebrity, but field reports from Sochi last week have us worried. Commenting in the New York Times, Olympic bobsledder Cory Butner warned, "I guarantee this is going to catch on in the States. In three months, they'll be all over the States."
As the Times story graphically documents, even Olympic-caliber athletes in prime health are starting to adopt this deadly Norwegian fashion trend and deliberately making themselves look like frumpy Teletubbies.
Our research reveals to us that the best way to inoculate yourself from the coming epidemic is to simply wear a belt. Perform this one basic task of human adult grooming every day, and your body will generate enough antibodies to naturally resist the onesies virus.
Q: This winter will be my first time hitting the ski slopes since pursuing the MB lifestyle. What do you recommend I wear to look good and stay warm without looking like a Spyder Toolbag?
Q: Great to have you back! I checked out your ski channel, and while I liked the suggestions, (especially the pants), I'm unable to locate a pair in my size. That was back in 2011, any chance on getting an updated recommendation for a full ski outfit?
A: We keep things really simple when we hit the slopes, using, for the most part, what we normally wear in winter. (See earlier post on the matter.) There's no reason to get into a special synthetic sports uniform — see "Spyder Toolbag" look — unless there's a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract involved.
Here are some suggestions from bottom to top:
Naked and Famous throws a lot of denim against the wall and some of it — like our highly-recommended Snowpant Denim — unfortunately doesn't stick. (These were nearly 60% off at Neiman Marcus and still took over a year to sell out.)
We contacted N&F and there are no plans to make more. However, Tate and Yoko have 29 and 30 in stock, and there are always a few pairs floating around on eBay and about half the price. Set up an alert.
UNDERLAYER Smartwool Merino next-to-skin. This works for winter biking, snowshoeing, football game watching, or just sitting by the fire.
SWEATER Cashmere turtleneck from 8. No, this is not Brunello Cucinelli cashmere. But we believe 8 to be the best cashmere value in the world.
They cost nearly as much as a Vail lift ticket, but if Moncler is good enough for Italians scaling K2 (pictured), it's good enough for us to scale the St. Regis bar at the top of Deer Valley. But any down puffy jacket will do, and if you want to keep it stylishly Italian and starting with the letter M, YOOX always has great deals on Montecore, Moschino, Martin Margiela, and Museum.
Cashmere hat with a pom. (Similar to pictured.)
SUNGLASSES Vintage Carrera 5425s in tortoise, from Allyn Scura, the official eyewear provider to Magnificent Bastard, and the film American Hustle (opening nationwide on Friday).
About this time last year Esquire ran a terrific little piece on top designer Michael Bastian, and how he couldn't afford his own clothes due to an expensive relationship with launch partner Brunello Cucinelli.
That cashmere sweater (pictured) has us interested in the emerging field of Designer Algebra. In the Michael Bastian equation, a grey cashmere v-neck sweater is $300. Suede elbow patches are a buck seventy-five. The felt appliqué is 50¢. Put them together and it adds up to $1,800.
Q: Now that we're in sweater weather, what are the rules for wearing a sweater with a suit or sportcoat? —Dave
A: We only have one rule when it comes to sweaters under blazers: don't look like Gene Siskel or Roger Ebert (top).
Instead, go for something fine-gauge in crewneck as demonstrated by Robert Redford, or our personal preference, the turtleneck as shown by Steve McQueen most famously in Bullitt (bottom).
While we're pretty sure McQueen could handle wool against his skin, we suggest opting for cashmere. If you have the bread, Malo is the obvious, best choice. If you don't, take a look at 8, available at YOOX. We've obsess over cashmere sweaters and have discovered 8 is the best value going, and this version is on sale for just $135. Fits slightly small.
Hi MB. I am into soft knit winter/fall hats, and really like this one from J. Varvatos. It's soft cashmere and looks pretty good without being douchy. Any ideas that don't cost flipping $168? It's a hat! —Dan
A: We have a simple rule about winter hats. If it costs more than $100 it must be 100% cashmere. Maybe even 110%. Either that, or there should be one extremely cold beaver somewhere. That Varvatos hat, while a fine-looking chapeau, is $168 and it's only 25% cashmere. Not even close!
Not that we're saying you should pinch your pennies when it comes to your head. After all, you'd surely spend $168, and probably even much more, on a pair of shoes you really like — and what are your feet but the day laborers of your body? Your head, meanwhile, is the CEO. So don't skimp! To that end, we like this cabled Bottega Veneta cashmere cap (bottom). Sure, it's $260, but like all CEOs, doesn't your head deserve a nice Christmas bonus?
It's really unfortunate Barney's CO-OP has labeled this $65 cashmere hat a "basic skully" because "skully" gives off negative vibes associated with TTH urban hipsters and age-inappropriately styled NFL quarterbacks. This is simply an excellent "winter hat," in cashmere, that strongly lends itself to artful dishevelment and fits nothing like a skully.
Speaking of the NFL, in handicapping lingo this is our F/W 2010 accessory lead pipe lock.
Mark your calendars for 11 AM CT tomorrow as Malo is on sale at Gilt. We recommend buying Malo cashmere at full price, so when it's on sale we double recommend it. (If you need an invite, just let us know.)
Forget cashmere hats. Qiviut is the wool of the muskox. It is ridiculously expensive and ridiculously warm. The material is thin and lightweight, yet warm enough to let muskox survive brutal winters in Siberia and northern Alaska. It's also more rare than cashmere. As an added bonus, the value of qiviut-made clothes goes up as they age because the material absorbs oils and becomes softer. --Andrew
We welcome the tip from the Siberian Qiviut Producers Association, and weren't even aware this beast existed, since it looks like something that went extinct 10,000 years ago.
If you demand that your qiviut accessories be made in the USA, David Morgan sells a qiviut hat that's hand-knit by the Eskimo women of the Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers' Co-operative in Alaska for $170.
Q: I need a winter hat. The Chicago winter is fast approaching and I have been scouring both brick and mortar and the internet for a hat that works for me. It's difficult because flat caps seem to be way too ubiquitous. Also, every fedora type hat I have ever tried on makes me feel like a total toolbag. That leaves very few styles short of just your standard knit cap, which I sometimes wear. However, I long for something a little more unique. I have looked into the Stormy Kromer hat you mentioned last year, but I feel the baseball bill really isn't my thing. Any help you could give in steering me towards a new hat would be greatly appreciated. --Steven
A: Besides being ubiquitous (in spite of Cuba Gooding Jr. signaling them as outgoing a while back), a flat cap vs. Chicago winter is the equivalent of scissors vs. rock. Same with a fedora.
We got a few angry emails from German soccer fans -- der Blödmann is the term they're using -- pointing out that coach Joachim Loew's royal blue pullover is in fact not synthetic but baby cashmere, and available here. Magnificent Bastard regrets the error, though due to his nose-picking (and booger eating!) incident, England's Fabio Capello still wins on style points.
Q: What do you think about cashmere pants for my girlfriend? What about for myself? --Kel
Loose-lipped hotel workers in Hawaii recently blabbed to the Daily Star that George Clooney won't go anywhere without his cashmere "security blanket." Say what you will about the fact that a 48-year-old man has a special blanket. George Clooney is one of the few people on earth who can get whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, and apparently what he wants is cashmere. If that's not an endorsement for the world's best fabric, we don't know what is.
We think cashmere should be a year-round part of everyone's wardrobe. So get your girl those pants. And get some for yourself while you're at it. But don't actually wear them until at least October. In the summer months, you want to limit your cashmere usage to blankets, lightweight sweaters, and golf club headcovers.
Q: I was shopping around in Toronto recently, and as I was looking around for a new set of jeans I stumbled upon Naked and Famous jeans (http://www.nakedandfamousdenim.com/). I really liked the quality feel, and the basic appearance, but they do seem to have a thing for skinnier fits. The jeans are made in an old-style denim machine, and are made out of fine Japanese denim. I thought they seemed MB-esque. What do you think? --Matt
A: There is definitely a lot to like about Naked and Famous. Like you say, they're made from quality materials, they're cleanly designed, and one version even contains 8% cashmere (and an MB can never be ensconced in too much cashmere). It's the fits we have a problem with. Perhaps they just need taller models, but the Slim Guy is unflattering (top), and The Skinny Guy should just be left to The Skinny Girl (bottom).
I wanted to update you on my efforts to knit the perfect scarf. You were kind enough to obtain the dimensions of the SOH Cashmere Scarf so that I could knit it for my dear son. I found the ideal cashmere yarn and have just finished the last stitch of scarf. My son will be celebrating his 25th birthday on Saturday and this will be a truly fitting gift to commemorate his quarter-century mark.
With sincere thanks, Bonnie
A: That truly warms our hearts, Bonnie. Now, if you enter our MB Cocktail Contest and submit an entry that your son will be proud to order in any bar in America, you will truly be en route to winning Mom of the Year!
If you've ever worn anything from Bottega Veneta then you know. There are very few things on the market quite like BV, and that includes this tweed cashmere hat available in three colors. We guarantee you will be both warm and thrilled with any of them.
From about the time the Yankees are eliminated from the playoffs to the time Yankee fans start thinking Steinbrenner's latest overpriced impulse buy will make a difference this year, we practically live in cashmere sweaters. And it's why we feel especially confident about our endorsement of Malo cashmere. If you've ever worn Malo cashmere you know what we're talking about. Their entry level v-neck is still $225 at YOOX, but this is a far better investment than $188 for J. Crew cashmere that starts pilling within 5 minutes of wear.
At least once in a man's life, he should buy a scarf that costs more than the most expensive suit at Men's Warehouse. We recommend the new 70 cashmere/ 30 superfine merino wool cable hand-knit scarf from new designer Song Oh. It takes more than a week to knit each piece. A Men's Warehouse suit takes like 18 minutes to assemble, tops.
This beauty is available exclusively at Pamela Robbins in Scarsdale, NY. And we also have a handy guide on how to achieve the "lofty wrap" look.