Q: As a young activist/Marxist revolutionary in the Philippines, what's the best way to look good on the streets while still ready to take down an oppressive government?
A: We suspect even a hint of New People's Army garb — a Mao cap with a red star, or green shirt — will get you jailed, or worse.
Our first thought was an updated Mao suit jacket — something like this — that Duterte's goons wouldn't pick up on, but would wink to the intellectual class that you're on the same team, and allow you to literally wear on your sleeve the Four Virtues its four pockets represent: propriety, justice, honesty, and a sense of shame.
But that thought didn't last long, once we remembered the Philippines is tropical. While we fully support your cause, if uniting the workers of the world means having to wear a buttoned-up wool suit jacket in 75°F dew points, we're out, and cannot recommend it for you.
Here's what we came up with instead, along with our rationale:
The shirt is climate-appropriate, foremost, with faint echoes of the Mao suit's utilitarianism and militarism. The shorts support the top, sharing the same elastane content and slim cut. And the shoes, while maybe not strictly proletarian, is an application of our high-low approach to outfits (and more importantly, they're comfortable on the streets). Finally, everything is black, which not only fulfills on the Maoist monochromatism maxim, is also practical when trying to slip out, undetected, to the nearest NPA camp.
Be smart, James. Stay safe. We wish you the best of luck.
The result? Gaping holes has been blown open in our once-deep roster of $11 New Look and ASOS polos.
Two events to the rescue:
1. J. Crew's Bankruptcy
When J. Crew announced their bankruptcy in early May it sounded like they planned on keeping some stores open. Now it feels like EVERYTHING MUST GO.
Unfortunately even at 60 or 70% off, there's not much worth buying at the flagship, which perhaps explains their predicament. But at J. Crew Factory we've been watching the price of their excellent washed jersey polo go from $12.95 to $11.80 to $11.50 in just the last 3 days. By the time you read this they could be 10 bucks. It's ASOS price territory and these are better. Fits true to size.
2. Lacoste's Summer Sale
A Lacoste polo is going to run you $89.50. That's justthe price. That is until Lacoste has a summer sale and marks their iconic shirts down 30%. At $61.99 it's less than most eBay counterfeit versions from Hong Kong. As you likely know if you're reading this, fits one size small.
Since we reviewed seven custom shirtmakers a decade ago, a bunch of others have offered free shirts for an evaluation, and because it takes us getting up from the sofa, we've always said no.
But when Apposta asked us to have a look we changed our tune, primarily because their shirts are made in Italy. Where possible, this is where MBs want their clothing (and shoes) to be made. It's a default setting like getting forged blades from Japan, Scotch from Islay, or pump-action shotguns from here in America.
The shirtmakers we originally reviewed all outsourced their manufacturing to Thailand, Hong Kong, Honduras, China, and Vietnam. Proper Cloth, now one of the most popular online shirtmakers, has their shirts made in Malaysia. We're not saying some great shirts cannot be made in these places — especially Hong Kong — but we are saying that shirts made in Italy are likely just going to be better.
This was the case with the Apposta shirt. Probably because the fabric came from an Italian mill, the buttons were Australian mother of pearl, and the stitching and fit are both just very ... Italiany. While Apposta doesn't offer our preferred sewn collar, they do have an option of a "soft" collar that approximates unfused, to allow for maximum sprezzatura (that's Italian for artful dishevelment).
To top it off — and recalled the memorable touches of ordering from a well-known Italian fashion house — is the shipment came with an ear-loop mask made from the shirt fabric. Magnifico! Just don't pair with the shirt (too strong of a Garanimals vibe), or put it on while trying to buy a pump-action shotgun from a West Palm Beach gun shop (at least without an appointment).
Q: Greetings from Helsinki, Finland, and congratulations to you and the American people for the successful Nasa/Space X Beta-2 mission. It was an impressive show. It's a shame that the outfits were such a distraction. ISS commander Cassidy in cargo shorts and white socks. Your take? —JF
Yes, even in 2001: A Space Odyssey — Stanley Kubrick's disturbing vision of space travel — he never imagined anything as dark as astronauts in knee-length cargo shorts.
Just to show you how much coronavirus has upended the universe, we're hoping the 150,000 masks that Brooks Brothers is planning to produce on a daily basis are all their synthetic narrowly-tailored Soho Fit. In the midst of a pandemic (but only in the midst of a pandemic), artful dishevelment must take a backseat to epidemiology.
DEAL 1: In our MB Build series from earlier this year, we bought the client four shirts. His favorite was the white NOS Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs we had in our warehouse for over a decade. But a close 2nd was a Brooks Brothers plaid from YOOX. We got the last one in February, but it's back in stock in several sizes and just $59. Fits true to size.
DEAL 2: Later, when we bought our MB Build client shoes, one pair he threw back was these Alexander Smith tennies. His loss was our gain, as we kept them, and have since become huge Alexander Smith fans. Quirky and different in an authentically British way — as opposed to Boris Johnson's TTH way — this brand is our most important discovery of 2019. Once $229, they're just $52, and while we're unapologetic Anglophiles, we'd punt the lot you'll like them as much as we do. Fits true to size.
As we said in the intro we're starting with shirts. The target archetype is "urban landed gentry," which in terms of shirts calls for plaids, so we went for three plaids and a casual-ish white dress shirt as a necessity for when he wears a tie.
1. Aspesi is an MB favorite, and we scored this large-scale plaid for $52. Had we waited a bit longer we could've gotten it for just 29 bucks, where it's at now. Aspesi's sizing is all over the place but in this case an L fit the client well. (He's 5' 10", 185 lbs.)
2. When we think of Brooks Brothers we don't think of plaids quite this involved, but this fits our bill, and also Dave (client). Marked "slim," its USA-style fit was more roomy than most Italian brands' regular. $41.
3. Growing up we could only find Wrangler at Fleet Farm, but in the past couple of years the iconic brand's been showing up on designer sites like YOOX and ASOS. What took so long?! This shirt was $75, and rounds out our plaid collection. Runs a little small.
4. Back during the Bush 43 Administration Marc Jacobs made dress/casual white shirts for his discount "Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs" line. But these shirts were no joke, with sewn collars and shanked buttons. We liked them so much we bought 15, and sold one of the NOS to our client for what we paid, $58. (Side note: Marc Jacobs is planning to resurrect a discount line called "The Marc Jacobs," set for release in fall 2019.)
We Threw These Back
1, 2 Deperlu and Xacus are two reasons why we're in love with YOOX. Both are smallish Italian brands most people have never heard of that make clothes you'll never see on anyone else. The issue is that, being Italian, the fit is Italian, which means if you're not an athlete on a restricted Mediterranean diet you may feel like a kielbasa and the shirt is the casing.
3, 4 More Wrangler, but we stuck with the version that both fit the best and the client liked the best.
UP NEXT: Sweaters. Plus a tool to help our client get dressed every day at the click of a button.
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.
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.
Part of the reason we haven't been posting much this year — besides chronic laziness, combined with chronic drunkenness — is that we've been working on a price-tracking application we think you're going to really like. You simply post something that interests you, whether it be on Amazon, eBay, YOOX, or thousands of other sites, and when it goes on sale we send you an alert with the new price.
We've been in alpha for a while here at the office, and here are a few things we finally pulled the trigger on, with their price history. Yes, we're really digging sportswear that may make some wonder whether we play sports for money.
Q: How awesome is our new press secretary's sense of style? —Dave
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.
Q: Shirt buttoning policy was recently discussed at our corporate board meeting. I advocated for the MB endorsed n-2 formula (for men), but to no avail. While most agreed with the concept, the fatal flaw was chest hair, the exposure of which was seen as ungentlemanly in the workplace. We could not craft policy allowing n-2 sans chest hair, without exposing ourselves to discrimination suits from hirsute men, so we settled on the formula x ≤ n-1. Your thoughts? —Todd
A: Todd, while we admire your shaping corporate dress code policy based on MB-endorsed looks, we fear there might be some confusion: our n-2 formula relates strictly to knitwear; i.e. polo shirts.
For wovens, which expose ~100% more chest at n-2 than most knits, n-2 is inappropriate for a professional setting and can easily devolve into Guido territory, even without the gold chain and chest hair.
In other words, we endorse the formula you settled on, with the caveat that if x is in fact 0 a tie should be part of the equation. So break out the 18-year-old Scotch and increase your cash retainers! Your board make the right call!
Q: Do you agree Untuckit shirts are the equivalent of the Sansabelt pants? The new shirt company seems to be spending an enormous amount on advertising this silly idea. —Dave
A: We think you're giving Untuckit too much credit. Sansabelt's innovation was to eliminate the need for a belt by elasticizing waistbands, thus disrupting dressing by automating pant tightening and putting an entire accessory category on the endangered species list. To match Sansabelt's achievement, a company would need to engineer a similar sartorial breakthrough, like combining socks with shoes or boxers with pants.
All Untuckit did was circumcise sport shirts.
That's not to dismiss Untuckit's value in the marketplace. Despite our long-standing admonishments againstthe practice, some guys cannot resist the urge to expose their hemlines. Any technology that spares them from looking like Obama throwing out a ceremonial first pitch qualifies as progress.
Last spring we recommended ASOS white polo shirts as an option for disposable knitwear when it's all but guaranteed to suffer a 100 percent casualty rate amidst the chaos of summer leisuring. While the ASOS shirts have deflated to $16.50 from $18.00 in the past 18 months, we've found an even better option for Indian Summer 2016 and Regular Summer 2017: New Look.
They share the same athletic-but-not-binding fit, have printed tags, and also a pedigree; previously-purchased New Look gear has been well made and rugged. The best part: they're 13 bucks.
The only downside is the increased level of first-world guilt. While the ASOS shirts are made in Indonesia, New Look polos are made in Bangladesh, which makes Indonesian production look like a Hermès factory. We've found the best solution for dealing with this issue is consuming an additional ½ Magnificent Bastard cocktail.
Fresh off July's disastrous departure from Marine One, this week President Barack Obama bounced back with perhaps his best Marine One exit yet. Yes, his pants still have creases. Yes, his sleeves are rolled below the elbow. And yes, he is still wearing a wedding ring. But he's ditched the white crewneck undershirt, and even displayed a measurable degree of artful dishevelment, a core MB principle. In fact, we believe this is the first time in his presidency that he's worn a woven with two buttons undone.
We're about 99% sure that last statement is true, but will happily be proven wrong in order to give stuff away. The first reader to send us a photo of Barack Obama as president in a woven shirt with two buttons unbuttoned wins their choice of an MB tie or an MB wallet. Send your proof to email@example.com today!
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. —Gerard
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."
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.
While conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton's 11 hours of testimony provided no new information about the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, we disagree: Committee chairman Trey Gowdy — with the help of an age-inappropriate, face-lengthening flip-hawk — identified himself as just the third person on earth who belongs wearing a spread collar (which he did!), joining Adrien Brody and the guy in Edvard Munch's The Scream.
Do you have a recommendation for the fourth person on the planet who should wear a spread collar? Drop a note to our editor and if it's worthy we'll post it and send you a free belt, tie, or beverage shields.
Our annual pilgrimage to Lambeau is expected to be colder than we were expecting, with a high of just 52 and low near 40. So we're getting dressed. (As always, check Pourcast to determine what cocktail to be consuming at any day and any time at any place around the globe.)
1. Pants. The best 5-pocket corduroy pants we've ever worn are Uniqlo's Slim Fit Corduroy Jeans. Indeed, you have to be slim and fit to wear these, but as the product description says, they do in fact "create slender, fashionable lines," work during the week, and have the versatility to play on Sundays. We're wearing them in off white. A tremendous value at just $39.90. They're vanity sized about 1 inch in the waist (so size down).
2. Belt. A critical element of our understated fandom gameplan is our own Game Day Belt. Made from the same Horween leather that's used to make the official NFL footballs, and constructed right here in the Twin Cities. Fits perfectly true to size.
3. Shirt. Five years ago we all got this Red Jacket long sleeve anti-jersey and they're still playing in the league. Yes, there is some legibility on the back, but it's the name of perhaps our favorite Packer and MB archetype Paul Hornung, famous less for his football than for his womanizing, drinking, and gambling. Fits true to size. (Lots of other options available from Mike Ditka to Johnny Unitas.)
4. Shoes. Sneakers and exposed ankles are usually the play call for mid-October Packer games, but given the forecast we're audibling into ankle boots. Since our all-time favorite TST chukkas have seemingly gone the way of Peyton Manning's arm strength, we're substituting them for these Joyks with beautiful thick white rubber whitewalls. (We may additionally substitute free-agent white laces.) Fits fractionally small.
5. Vest. We have a thing — bordering on fetish — for goose-down puffer vests. 313, Montecore, and Marville provide the best value, but if you have the cash Duvetica is the way to go. This version — along with a Hall of Fame headbuzz — will stiff-arm the dramatic post-game cool-down, and the blue-and-gold color combo is a subtle, tasteful nod to the Packer throwback jerseys (which the team will be wearing on Sunday). We always size down one for puffer vests, and this is no exception.
Q: Why is there no section taking a position on corporate polos? I'm not sure if the MB finds them — particularly the ones made from whatever-unnatural-fiber they're all made from — quite a distasteful as I do. They seem to be a badge of honor amongst many of my co-workers. I, myself, wear jackets to trade shows so that I can cover them up as soon as I leave the trade show floor on the way to the hotel to change shirts. —David
Then, there's the tailoring. Anticipating a market of sedentary cubicle serfs, most corporate polos are designed using a Teletubby rather than an actual person as the fit model, with predictably unflattering results.
A: That shirt? You cannot be serious! In all candor, this is not a shirt we would recommend — it looks to our eye like a bowl of Lucky Charms designed by Commes Des Garcons. But it is a distinctive shirt, we'll grant you (and McEnroe) that, and we like a good quest as well as anyone.
The photo you've provided was taken on June 23, 2008, at Sotheby's, when McEnroe was selling a Warhol portrait of him and his ex-wife Tatum O'Neal.
McEnroe was clearly trying to coordinate his outfit with the painting — note its use of stars and similar shades of blue. The stars also remind us a bit of another Warhol painting — So Many Stars — but we don't think the shirt itself is a Warhol; the linework is too polished.
Also, the shirt was definitely not part of the deal, because we see McEnroe wearing it again, two years later, at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010 (along with a horribly fitting blazer).
Unfortunately, the trail runs cold after that, at least for us. We couldn't find anymore images of the shirt in action, or any information about its provenance.
So we're putting this out there to our readers. Do you recognize this shirt? If you do, let us know. First person who can help us definitively ID this shirt will get a Secret Agent Belt from us, in recognition of his/her superior sleuthing skills. And if we do make an ID, we'll post it here.
UPDATE 9/22 11:07 AM: Reader Robert quickly supplies us with an answer: "Johnny Macs horrible shirt? You seem to have overlooked the hearts in the print. A 2 minute Google with that detail and..... It seems very likely that Prada is the responsible designer."
We swear we searched for at least three minutes, on hearts, and all we found was Harry Styles in a Burberry shirt. So we salute your superior sleuthing skills, Robert; a Secret Agent Belt will be on the way to you soon.
We get a lot of "what should I wear?" questions at Ask the MB, so we thought than on occasion, when we're having an occasion, we'd share what we wear. Articles and accessories will reflect core MB tenets like archaism, Anglophilia, artful dishevelment, and a few others that don't start with the letter A.
The first occasion: A singles match at the club during Wimbledon.
For any tennis played during this fortnight we always channel two of our all-time favorites, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, and split the difference where we can. We also strictly follow the Club's hopelessly vague and wonderfully antiquated "almost entirely white" rule.
1. Shorts. While ATP players' shorts have not yet reached the slacks-like length of the NBA and NCAAB, they're still far too long for our taste. We want zero restriction as we go wide to reach for our opponent's cross-court volley, and tanned thighs nicely accompany a down-the-line winner in response. 4" max inseam here, and cotton of course (principle of organic materials). So we're wearing these Sergio Tacchinis (the McEnroe brand) from a terrific UK eBay shop called honourabletype. Bookmark this one. $43.69.
2. Shirt. McEnroe got the shorts, so naturally Borg gets the shirt. What else but Borg's iconic Fila striped polo with oversize collar and 4-snap placket? $41.99.
3. Shoes We could take the court with the left foot wearing a Borg Diadora and the right foot in a McEnroe Nike, but instead we're opting for the classic style, relative obscurity, and archaism of Pantofola d'Oro low-tops in white. Launched in Ascoli Piceno, Italy in 1886, these are made for the street but hold up great on the court, and no one else wears them. $210.00.
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? —Aaron
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.
If it's true that you should always "dress for the job you want, not the job you have," then we think Senator Ted Cruz (R - TX) just announced his intention to run for Assistant General Manager of a Subway franchise in Salina, Kansas. If we're wrong about this — and even worse, if America is prepared to elect a man who wears a t-shirt under a sport shirt to its highest office — we are heading to Canada and demanding reparations.
In late December, the Dow Jones topped 18,000 for the first time. The U.S. economy is taking off like a Titleist driven by the invisible hand, arm, torso, and Ping G30 of Bubba Watson. Even President Obama's approval ratings are trending upward.
Why all this good news? Correlation does not equal causation, but we can't help but notice that Mr. Obama is dressing better on the golf course. Granted, he had nowhere to go but up. As we've covered in the past, the nation's Executive-in-Chief has typically looked more like a hapless mailroom schlub while walking some of the best links in the land. Baggy cargo shorts. Voluminous polo shirts that would like right at home in Walmart's 4-person tent aisle. And who can forget that awful moment in 2008 when a driving range swing launched his Blackberry into the atmosphere like a doomed space shuttle. NASA, we do not have lift-off.
Now, he's still nowhere near embodying the casual kinetic assurance that says, "Yes, America, I am leading you toward prosperity, security, and overall well-being, and I still have time to get in 18 holes on Sunday."
But at least President Obama has apparently ditched the cargo shorts. He's wearing slimmer-fitting polos that leave his elbows uncovered. In his new garb, he looks more graceful and assured — and that in turn leads to greater grace and assurance. The impact is personal — his golf game has improved dramatically. But there's a macro element as well. America sees a more commanding figure at the helm, and almost magically, gas prices start dropping, consumer confidence increases, the Dow starts climbing, etc.
Q: Hey MB. I'm going to a wedding next week; I was planning on wearing a navy Hardy Amies suit with a (Deo Veritas) dark lavender gingham shirt, black shoes and no-show socks. Would you give me some tie recommendations? I have been waiting for your summer tie but was thinking maybe a solid lavender tie might do in its place. Thanks so much for all your advice. Seriously. —Cristian
A: With your Hardy Amies suit and Deo Veritas shirt, we suspect you're already going to be better dressed than the groom, and possibly the bride. That said, you don't want to outshine them too much — it's their day to be in the spotlight.
Thus, we are going to suggest something fairly low-key: A solid knit tie in burgundy. With a dark lavender gingham shirt, you're already making a statement — so you don't need a patterned tie adding yet another loud voice to the conversation happening on your chest. The tie we're envisioning weighs in silently but noticeably, with its rough texture and complementary shade adding visual contrast in a subtle but intriguing way. We predict that bridesmaids will be fondling your neckwear all day.
Now here's the thing about knit ties: The industry standard is to circumcise them and leave a flat edge at the bottom, and starve them to boot. DO NOT GET A SKINNY CIRCUMCISED TIE! (Yes, for the record, that is the first time we've ever used all-caps on this site.) You need a tie with a pointed end, and it must be at least 3 inches wide.
We looked around for a tie with these specs, and stumbled upon an online store called The Knottery. The name gives us pause, and so does the price point of their ties — just $35. These ties are probably not made in the U.S. — you'll need to spend at least $45 for that. But the Knottery's merchandise has gotten positive press from GQ, Esquire, Kempt, and many others. So we encourage you to take a chance on this burgundy knit. It fits our specs — pointed end, 3.25 inches wide, 100 percent silk — and you can apply the money you save on it toward a wedding gift. Give our best to the bride and groom!
Q: A lot of fellas are buttoning their collars all the way to the top these days, was just wondering your take & if the old MB shirt buttoning rules still apply. Just received my chocolate sandwich cookie cashmere belt btw, my waist is happy. —Andre
A: Our goal here is style, not fashion. And style is ultimately about ... math. Ratios, angles, golden means, etc. In other words, good rules for style aren't just rules. They're laws, as immutable as anything Sir Isaac Newton ever put down in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
So our take on buttons remains the same as always. For polos, N - 2.
When you're wearing a buttondown with a jacket and tie, button all the way to the top. If you take off your jacket, then ask yourself What Would Newman Do? The answer: Unbutton your top button and loosen your tie.
If you're wearing a sports shirt, there is no simple rule of thumb, because the answer depends on multiple sartorial and biological factors, including collar size, button spacing, and chest follicle density. See this post for elaboration, but in general, we encourage restraint. Just as you never want to go full Grimley, you also never want to go full Cowell. And even Newman himself can misstep when he starts heading in the latter direction.
Finally, we're glad to hear you like your belt. Thanks for your patronage.
With the exception of his odd — and thankfully short — facial hair experiment earlier this year, White House press secretary Jay Carney has been a model of McDonald's-like consistency for nearly 3.5 years and 1,000 or so press conferences: the same Type A bedhead, the same equivocation and obfuscation, and the same structurally entrenched shirt and tie knot inequality.
If you insist on artificially boosting your jowl optics by wearing a spread collar, at least have the sense to tie a Windsor knot.
While Carney replacement Josh Earnest has a look that calmly proclaims "I'm the number 2 producer in the Topeka field office.," at least he understands the geometric benefits of point collars and proper knot pairings.
As everyone knows, Gilligan's Island was a product of liberal Hollywood's fervent Cold War dreams of post-capitalist utopia. On an Edenic island paradise in the South Pacific, an economically and socially disparate group of Americans pioneer a new world where plutocrats, academics, military men, and members of the hoi polloi stand shoulder to shoulder, as one. There are no supermarkets, no banks, no department stores, no fancy colleges, and no churches, just an egalitarian collective of makers collaborating and co-existing in Marxist harmony. The flag of this brave new "nation"? Gilligan's striking, Communist-red shirt.
Given this pedigree, we were surprised, to say the least, to see Glenn Beck, avowed defender of capitalism, selling this emblem of the Red Menace.
Most improbable of all, though, is an item Beck is passing off as the 1791 Fox Hunt Rugby. While Beck has added a patch to the shirt that celebrates George Washington's passion for fox-hunting, that's just a smoke screen. Because strip this shirt of that patch, and it is undeniably exposed as the Gilligan, as manufactured and marketed by Columbiaknit. The copy at Beck's site even identifies the shirt's source as a family-owned knitting factory in Oregon that has been making clothes since 1921 — i.e., Columbiaknit.
To further obscure his agenda, Beck charges $29 more for his version than Columbiaknit charges for the standard-issue Gilligan. But can such superficial nods to capitalism really do anything to dull the brilliant red hue of Gilligan's shirt, an ersatz banner to communist ideals that liberal Hollywood used for generations to persuade impressionable children that a collectivist, cash-free, class-less society was the way to go? If you truly love America, boycott this shirt.
Q: Hey MB! I'm going to buy your Buscemi tie tomorrow and wanted some simple advice. I was going to buy a shirt from Deo Veritas but was unsure what would go with that specific tie? I've been a longtime fan and always practice MB principles.
Thank you in advance,
A: Much more so than ourotherties, the Buscemi is a statement piece. Given the principle that the number of statement pieces per outfit should always be less-than or equal-to 1, the rest of your look should be quiet, a canvas on which the Buscemi's off-kilter charisma can shine.
In other words, we recommend it on a solid. But not just any solid. You want a distinctive play on texture here, pitting the yin of the tie's nubs against the yang of smooth, tightly-woven shirting. This leads us directly to the Thomas Mason broadcloths in white, baby blue, or light pink.
Be sure to opt for the sewn collar and mother of pearl buttons. It will add up to a fairly hefty $139, but it's 25% off through Feb. 28.
And take note re: the Buscemi. While we're having reinforcements made, there are just a few left from our initial production run. If you want to avoid delays, order it sooner rather than later.
It is time to announce the winners of our contest. There are two, and they are each getting a made-to-measure shirt from our favorite online custom shirtmaker, Deo Veritas, because they a.) correctly answered all the questions on our our quiz and b.) were lucky enough to have their entry number chosen by the random number generator at random.org.
Congratulations, Paul Loya and Patrick Duffin! May we suggest something in purple gingham?
Deo Veritas owner Vinnie Sikka will be in touch with details, and if you feel like tweeting your good fortune to the world, we will not object! (And if you want to keep it all to yourself, that's fine too.).
Meanwhile, if your name is neither Paul Loya nor Patrick Duffin, do not despair. Starting on March 1 we're doing our 4th-annual (if you don't count 2013) Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge, where you ID famous people wearing glasses and the winner picks up a free pair of Allyn Scura frames. For April we're working on something with our new favorite shoemaker, Hydrogen-1.
Finally, we'd like to give a shout-out to the surprisingly large number of you who guessed that gin is the secret ingredient in our Buckley tie. Our tie manufacturer tells us it's impossible to create a tie with an ABV of 5% or higher, but given your seeming desire for such a product, we're asking him to experiment harder. For the record, here is the Deo Veritas Quiz with the correct answers in bold:
1. What is the secret ingredient that gives our Buckley ties their rakish confidence?
b. First-rate Ivy League education c. White wooly fibers that resemble Gandalf's beard
2. What was Joseph Kandell’s job description at his previous gig?
a. Communications officer b. Consumer-facing legacy accessories specialist
c. Book publishing editorial assistant
d. User experience designer
3. How many cuff styles does Deo Veritas offer? a. 8
4. Which material is not used in the construction of our Pretty Nice Rack?
a. Solid white oak
b. Oil-impregnated bronze
c. Eight-point buck antlers d. Medical-grade silicone
5. Do you have to have health insurance to purchase a Buscemi?
c. It depends on whether Obamacare is repealed or not. d. Strictly speaking, no. But it couldn’t hurt.
1) Take the quiz. The deadline to submit is 11:59 PM CST on January 31.
2) Everyone who scores 100 percent on the quiz will be entered into a drawing we'll hold the first week of February. We'll choose two winners. Each winner will receive a free custom shirt from Deo Veritas.
3) We'll announce the winners, and share this information with Vinnie Sikka, the proprietor of Deo Veritas. Vinnie will take it from there, providing you with instructions on how to order your complimentary custom shirt.
4) Design your custom shirt at Deoveritas.com, using the simple-to-use online ordering system. You'll have a choice of 170 different fabrics, 12 collar styles, 8 different cuffs, etc. As you experiment with different options, Deo Veritas renders it in 3D to help you visualize your ultimate shirt.
Tie Promotion Update II
The updated contest is live. Answer a simple 5-question quiz and enter to win a free custom shirt from Deo Veritas.
Tie Promotion Update I
Whoops! We may have downed one too many Polar Vortexes while concocting our latest promotion involving ties and shirts. Our legal counsel has advised us that our original offer, as described, was "open to unkind interpretation" by various government agencies. So we're putting that promotion on ice and coming up with something new. Check back in later this week for a new contest where you'll have a chance to win a custom shirt from Deo Veritas.
Q: I think the Kakutani is calling my name. But I've got a problem. I like spread collars, and I know your stance on them. Is it possible you've made the Kakutani so magnificent it works with spread collars even if I'm not Adrian Brody or that dude in The Scream? —Alex
A: We want the world to wear our ties. In fact, we might even sell one to Donald Trump if he asked nicely. And given how acquainted you are with our back catalog, we'd like to do right by you and tell you, sure, go ahead and wear the Kakutani with a spread collar.
Unfortunately, we can't do that. Yes, it is such a good-looking tie that you and many others might be tempted to wear it with a spread collar just show off as much of its fabric as possible. Resist that urge!
Granted, this is not as clear-cut as a Müller-Lyer illusion, but look at these illustrations from Esquire. B's neck and face look thicker and wider than A's, and yet the neck and face (and tie) are exactly the same in each drawing. Only the collar in B is different.
Conclusion: Spread collars instantly fatten your face and neck. And we can't let you do that to yourself, even if it means missing out on a sale. We will not sell you a Kakutani if you're planning to wear it with a spread collar.
It's Week 4 of Monday Morning Quarterback, a feature that combines our love of chronic traumatic encephalopathy-inducing bloodsport (aka, the NFL) with our passion for style.
Each week we break down the postgame press conference film and pick the best and worst-performing quarterbacks from around the league. We take their actual Passer Rating, multiply it by the proprietary Magnificent Bastard Dresser Rating, to arrive at their Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating.
Once again Romo had a costly pick, but saved it for the postgame presser. MB tip: only go deep into the ear canal when there's blown TV coverage. As for the dresser rating, the non-throwing arm at this angle should expose a wide-open shirt cuff.
When you're 6'2" and 220 lbs., it's not easy finding a shirt that looks at least two sizes too big for you. We encourage the Rams QB to stop shopping JC Penney's Husky Linemen section and get into something a little more fitted.
With his red union suit and sad, shell-shocked gaze, back-up Matt Flynn looks like a nine-year-old on Christmas morning slowly coming to grips with the fact that he's going to go at least one more year without a BB gun.
As the week's lowest-rated passer, we applaud Cassell's instinct to look inconspicuous. However, we think his Week 14 beanie, pulled completely over his face, 7-Eleven robbery style, would have been more effective than his baseball cap disguise.
We suppose if your last name is Luck, it's inevitable that you develop superstitions, and after a month of MMQB, it's clear what Luck's post-game ritual is: Skip the showers; hit the presser wearing lucky performance T; make a face like the Geico caveman. It's not the strangest superstition we've ever heard of, but it's certainly a contender for the least stylish.
It's Week 2 of Monday Morning Quarterback, a feature that combines our love of chronic traumatic encephalopathy-inducing bloodsport (aka, the NFL) with our passion for style.
Each week we break down the postgame press conference film and pick the best and worst-performing quarterbacks from around the league. We take their actual Passer Rating, multiply it by the proprietary Magnificent Bastard Dresser Rating, to arrive at their Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating.
Perhaps due to bad weather at many NFL stadiums, this week there was only bad quarterbacking behind the podium.
That collar is about to engulf Eli's face like a stunting defensive end, and the problem is magnified by the tiny, out-of-proportion knot that looks like it's suffering from a groin injury. While he shrares the Toner Cartridge Salesman look of his older brother, at least Peyton generally gets the proportions right.
Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating: 24.9
Four years as Tom Brady's backup in New England, and the man apparently only learned how to read coverages, not collars. Cassell's collar is so horizontal it has less of an angle than the earth's horizon. His jacket gape is big enough for Adrian Peterson to run through. And we fear some eight-year-old fan is searching for his prized beanie right now. For all this, Cassell is this week's winner of the Most Ridiculous Postgame Presser Outfit award.
After just two weeks doing Monday Morning Quaterback, we have our first record: Most Consecutive Weeks Wearing a Plaid Shirt That Looks Like It Came From Blouse Barn. If Philip Rivers' quarterbacking was this consistent, the Chargers could get into the playoffs.
It looks like Shaggy has added a razor to his post-game plan. We like his committment to mastering the fundamentals. Next step: Retaining the services of a tailor. That's the same ill-fitting jacket he had on last week, and he's getting the same bad results: a pronounced gape on his throwing shoulder. Once he masters that, we'll start working on his tie-reading skills.
Nelson Mandela was a great man with an indomitable spirit. From 1962 to 1990, he was imprisoned by the racist South African government in a bleak concrete box. Then, when he was finally released, he was immediately put under house arrest by Joan Rivers' pajamas.
Just kidding. Mr. Mandela's signature look — aka the "Madibi Shirt" — arose when a young fashion designer named Desre Buirski gave a hand-painted silk shirt to one of Mandela's bodyguards in 1994, a few weeks before Mandela became President of South Africa. Soon thereafter, Buirski became Mandela's official shirtmaker, and as he guided his country through post-apartheid reform, he also liberated South African politicians from wearing drab gray suits. Only rarely, it seems, did he wear the same shirt twice. RIP, Mr. Mandela.
Combining our love of chronic traumatic encephalopathy-inducing bloodsport (aka, the NFL) with our passion for style, we present the first in a regular series.
Each week we break down the postgame press conference film and pick the best and worst-performing quarterbacks from around the league. We take their actual Passer Rating, multiply it by the proprietary Magnificent Bastard Dresser Rating, to arrive at their Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating.
Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating: 134.6
NFL quarterback or professor at University of Phoenix (if they had professors)? Palmer is the MB Player of the Week thanks to his unstructured, heartily-lapeled corduroy blazer and studied artful dishevelment. This is how we dress.
We admire Fitzpatrick because he was doing the lumberjack, er, lumberback for years before the look was in vogue. And because he recorded the highest-ever Wonderlic score by a quarterback. Yet he shows the pitfalls involved in wearing a machine-washed fused-collar shirt, and his lapels need to hit the weight room.
Who put Shaggy in a suit? MB coaching tip: If you bear a striking resemblance to a 1970s cartoon character, avoid Peyton Manning's "Toner Cartridge Sales Rep" look and go for a post-game look with a little more grooviness, like this.
Before making the pick, Team Romney should've looked less for skeletons in Ryan's closet and more at the clothes.
Four years ago the RNC spent $150,000 to get Sarah Palin out of polar fleece. You'd think this time around they could've spent a few grand on a style consultation and a tailor. The GOP is clearly getting serious about fiscal restraint.
At any rate, the point of this post isn't to go negative, but to highlight the positive of Ryan's obvious thing for gingham, a pattern we highly endorse. Since the Romney announcement on August 11, Ryan has been on the stump for seven days and appeared in gingham in four of them; a gingham-to-appearance percentage of a whopping 57%, even exceeding our own.
We're kinda proud a major political party selected one of our state's reps as a VP candidate, but in his first day on the stump Paul Ryan did not do Wisconsin proud with a fused, spread collar shirt — that looked like it might actually take flight — over a crewneck tee.
Q: What's the MB in the header wearing? The shirt is mostly likely a custom shirt, what about the pants and shoes? Thanks! —Viktor
A: Good eye on the shirt. That is a custom Deo Veritas made with windowpane Thomas Mason in magenta. It's $138 and totally worth it. Vinnie makes great shirts and if you mention MB he'll take good care of you.
The pants are the bottom half of a suit separate prototype one of us is working on.
The shoes are Converse Chuckit mesh sneakers. They work best for the beach or pool but can also be adopted as streetwear during hot Pulaski summers, as shown here. Unfortunately these don't seem to be available online unless you are OK with purple in men's sizes 3, 4, or 7.
Q: Amid the brouhaha about this year's US Olympic uniforms, I'm surprised no one's brought up the obvious complaint: they're hideous! Horrible berets, round collars, ugly ties, and jackets with distractingly enormous manufacturer logos... even the white trousers under stadium lighting will give us a good sense of who wears what underwear. Am I right about this, or just completely out of touch? —Vince
A: You are right (for the most part). The insane politicians who wanted to burn the Ralph Lauren uniforms because they were made in China should have instead wanted to burn the blazer because it's a too-short DB with peak lapels and brass buttons.
The beret is an odd choice. Maybe Lauren thought the games were in Paris instead of London.
As for the monogrammists' arguments, they speak for themselves, like Howard at Ask Any About Clothes who posts, "I like monograms sometimes. It represents the feeling of being important and professional."
On Saturday Mark Zuckerberg gave each of his hoodies the day off and donned a suit and tie for his marriage to Priscilla Chan. Zuck impresses with a tie that echoes his jacket's lapel width, the tie's length is just about perfect (the tip nipping at his belt buckle), and he even wore actual shoes instead of the standard Adidas Adilettes (bottom).
But we're definitely not a fan of the wide spread/cutaway collar — a style that works only on Adrian Brody — and the mistake is compounded by pairing it with a four-in-hand knot when a Windsor is called for. Zuckerberg's loosened it up for this pic but when fully tied, a four-in-hand combined with a cutaway or wide spread can expose the part of the tie that's supposed to be under the collar, distracting from the beautiful asymmetry of the knot and, in general, looking like shit. Like this poor bastard on Style Forum.
Q: What's your opinion of dress shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt? —Chase
A: Regular readers know we're raging Anglophiliacs but there are some notable exceptions, like the food, the Windsor knot, and the shirts from Jermyn Street menswear outfitters like Charles Tyrwhitt.
Besides the Windsor knot-ready collar design, their shirts all look far too neat due to the stiff, fused interlinings that inhibit artful dishevelment, an MB principle even more dear than Anglophilia.
By contrast, dress shirts with sewn interlinings (or no interlining at all) aren't just more comfortable, they lend themselves to AD, their collars sometimes taking on as much personality as the person wearing them.
To see what we mean, take a look at Cary Grant's shirt collar in North by Northwest, shot before the invention of fusing. In our view, Grant's shirt from this movie should be equally as revered and admired as his Kilgour suit or Persol sunglasses.
Early last year we wondered if Bubba Watson was a toolbag with MB tendencies or vice versa.
Now we're pretty sure it's the latter.
This season Watson combined a pink head with his pink-shafted Ping G20 driver to support Breast Cancer Awareness (Ping donates $300 for every 300 yard drive Watson hits), and at the Masters he just won he wore the same white-on-white outfit for four days to raise money for Fresh Start, a California charity that provides cosmetic reconstructive surgery for children with physical defects.
Now Watson clothing sponsor Travis Mathew is selling a $200 white polo and belt package with 100% of the proceeds going to Fresh Start. If they sell out, an additional $50,000 will be donated to the California-based cancer research center City of Hope.
While both the polo and belt badly violate the MB principle of legible clothing, we're in, and the Pulaski Goodwill soon be receiving a NWT Travis Mathew polo shirt and belt.
We liked his take on the sport shirt: slim and fitted but with a collar that looks like it sometimes enjoys a beer and a steak, in contrast to manorexic collars from Band of Outsiders or Paul Smith, for example. For S/S 2012 he's using Japanese cotton, sewn interlinings, and has moved production to the United States. Plus, for every purchase he donates a book of your choice to a kid in Africa.
The improvements (and literary altruism) don't come without a cost. Read's shirts are $155. However, for the next week you can get 30% off with the code MagnificentShirts. That's $108.50 for what RCP guarantees will be your favorite shirt or your money back. Size up one for sure, and if you're on the fence, size up two.
Q: What are your thoughts on a shirt and tie with no jacket? The internet style-forum consensus seems to be a resounding no, unless you work in a mail room or are a Jehovah's Witness; but it is still a look one sees all the time (not that that's necessarily an argument in its favor, of course). But if it is so wrong to wear a shirt and tie without a jacket, why do people take off the jacket? Does having the jacket nearby magically change the look of the outfit? If so, at what distance is that magical connection lost? The next desk over? A different floor? Do certain jackets maintain the connection over further distances from others? Thanks! —Ed
A: Ed, forget about the distance your jacket is from your body and focus instead on properly artfully disheveling your shirt and tie.
We agree with the hoi polloi that when you wear only a shirt buttoned to the top with buttoned cuffs and a snugly-tied tie, it looks like either a.) something is missing, or b.) something is missing and you're about to go preaching door-to-door.
So don't wear only a shirt buttoned to the top with buttoned cuffs and a snugly-tied tie. Undo the buttons and roll up the sleeves. Loosen the tie knot and turn it to a side. Does Paul Newman look concerned that he's missing something? Joe Paterno, on the other hand, is super pissed off he can't find his jacket.
These days on the ATP Tour a collared shirt is seen about as often as a woodie. Even MB fave Roger Federer abandoned it in favor of synthetic red v-neck underwear in the semis. So it was with great pleasure we watched Novak Djokovic defeat Rafael Nadal in the finals while wearing a classic Sergio Tacchini polo.
Read just received a new shipment of nice-looking shirts (we've already ordered the Jake Madras), and at a $98 retail you're getting the style consulting for 52 bucks. If we didn't already strongly resemble the "After" shot — yes, we raided our own wardrobe for the shoot — we'd seriously consider this deal.
How do I keep my dress shirts tucked in to like a model? Shirts look great in photos and then they get all puffy and bunched up around the waist in no time flat. —James
A: Roughly 66 percent of American men are overweight and about 25 percent are obese. Meanwhile, 100 percent of male models either have a six-pack, anemia, or both. (Plus-sized models are a strictly female phenomenon as far as we know.)
But while off-the-rack shirtmakers are happy to perpetuate oppressive ideals of masculinity (yes, we're totally joking) when creating their print ads, catalogs, and websites, they have to tailor their shirts to that tubby 66 percent if they want to make any money. If you're fit, which it sounds like you are, these shirts are going to make you look like you finished third in the latest season of The Biggest Loser (i.e., you lost some weight, but not enough to finish in the money and purchase a new wardrobe).
What we've been getting into since our feature on custom dress shirts is, well, custom dress shirts. Our current fave is Chicago-based Deo Veritas run by Vinnie Sikka. They've got top quality fabrics and construction, and we've tweaked our dimensions to perfection, which for us is slim through the torso but leaving just enough excess to easily achieve artful dishevelment.
Q: Hi - my brother is one of the groomsmen in a wedding and they are all being told they are wearing tan linen suits, white shirts and some sort of colorful tie (Florida wedding). He knows how you stand on linen, but doesn't have much choice here and is wondering what kind of white shirt goes with a linen suit. Linen? Regular dress shirt? I have to admit, I have no idea. —Gabriela
A: Gabriela, definitely not a linen shirt. That's like the wedding equivalent of the Canadian tuxedo, aka denim on denim. And as everyone knows, you should only wear denim on denim if you're feeling lucky, punk.
What the wedding party needs is lightweight 100% cotton shirts with sewn collar and cuff interlinings, which will complement linen with their natural, artfully disheveled look. Dress shirts with fused interlinings are almost always too neat in our opinion, but they are an especially bad match with wrinkled linen suits, kind of like the shirt-suit equivalent of Crystal Harris and Hugh Hefner.
We know you didn't ask about the ties, but if you have any pull with the groom please insist they absolutely not be silk. Again, too shiny/smooth of a contrast with the linen's matte/nubs. Go for linen or a linen-cotton blend.
Q: I have a bit of an issue with polo shirts. I'm 5'6 with an athletic/weight-trained physique. I normally wear either a L or XL golf/polo shirt...my issue is, the length of short sleeve. Some of these shirts come down past my elbow. Could you recommend a golf/polo shirt with a shorter length short sleeve? I'm not liking the thought of having to take them to be tailored down. Your thoughts? —Stephen
A: We've spent $20 to have sleeves shortened on otherwise-perfect $10 t-shirts, so we know and appreciate the importance of precise sleeve length. (For tees we're not quite at Brando cap-sleeve territory, but within an inch or two.)
As for polos, anything that comes down past the elbow are for old people (top). But if you really like the shirts that have longer sleeves, pay for their shortening surgery. You won't regret it. If you're looking for shirts that already come with short sleeves, Lacoste is an obvious choice if you prefer banded sleeves, like The King used to (bottom). If you prefer no logo, J. Crew's vintage tailored polos show just enough bicep to verify your absence of a barbed-wired tattoo. Wyatt, which makes our favorite polo shirt at the moment and, as far as we can tell, is only available at bluefly, offers a similar cut with open sleeves.
Q: I agree with your posts regarding the sport-shirts-untucked-from-pants plight. To push the point, however, what about shorts? I tend to tuck the shirt, yet sometimes I'm tempted to untuck it. I'm almost sure you'll say no good, but is this at least less bad? —Chris
A: Your instincts are on point, Chris. We are not fans of dress shorts, shorts with ties and wingtips, or any other look that might have people wondering if your work pants got amputated at the dry cleaners. For us, shorts are emphatically casual, so you'd think we'd be more open to untucking. And we are, sort of. With shorts, we like the partial tuck, which is to say, artful dishevelment.
How do you make it work? First, make sure that your shirt, be it a polo or a woven, is cut appropriately. If the fabric that falls beneath your belt-line is abundant enough to make a placemat, it's cut too long! If there's barely enough fabric showing to make, say, a bandana, then it's cut right.
Now that you're wearing the right shirt, tuck it in entirely, and pretend like you're a hailing a cab on a busy Manhattan street. Extend your arm, wave vigorously and impatiently. If you do this right, this should dislodge your shirt just enough to give the desired effect. And you're ready to go.
Nothing tests the Magnificent Bastard principle of understatement more than holidays. Halloween is the worst, followed closely by the 4th of July. Red, white, and blue are great colors for Ol' Glory and beer cans, but unless you're a superhero, too much red, white, and blue in your wardrobe at any one time can make you look like you're hitting the bricks to shill your local tax return service. If you're looking for a role model, choose Founding Father Thomas Jefferson over Uncle Sam — subtlety trumps bombast every time.
Of course, on a day when bombs — or at least their Las Vegas cousins, Class 1.1G fireworks — are bursting in air, subtlety's a relative concept and some red, white and blue in your wardrobe is completely appropriate. With that mind, here are 5 ways to show your patriotism without looking like Yankee Doodle Toolbag on the 4th of July.
Block Headwear makes our favorite hats. Salute the spirit of Betsy Ross by hiring a seamstress to create a new temporary hatband for you using 67 cents worth of grosgrain ribbon from M&J Trimming. Get the 7/8" size.
It's become popular in recent years to bash the French, but while America was fighting for its independence, the French gave us the spirit of Enlightment that would later inform our Constitution, military support, and, we're guessing, some pretty good pastries. Show your gratitude with this Moncler track jacket.
FINAL WORD OF ADVICE: Choose only one of these items and leave it at that. Except for the beer koozie. That goes with everything.
Why is it every digital disrupter since Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dresses exactly like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs? We get it, high-tech billionaires. You're too busy innovating to waste any brain cycles on tucking in your shirts. You're so rich and powerful you have absolutely no need to dress to impress. But, honestly, would it kill you to give your cellphone holsters a day off on occasion? And maybe take a gander at Gilt.com while your flunkies are bludgeoning you with PowerPoint presentations? You're the economic leaders of the 21st century and you are not inspiring confidence.
Larry Page, Google
Never wear a shirt that employed more graphic designers than your home page did.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Facebook Beacon was actually only Zuckerberg’s second worst invention. His first? Business Fleece.
Dick Costolo, Twitter
This shirt is so over capacity in the arms and torso it could fit the #failwhale
Andrew Mason, Groupon
Mason models the answer to the question: Is there anything on the planet so worthless even Groupon can't unload a few thousand SKUs of it at 90 percent off?
Tim Cook, Apple
Stylistically, Steve Jobs left some very tiny shoes to fill at Apple. But Cook's baggy "Reverse Hansbrough" is barely an upgrade to Jobs' perennial toolbag trifecta of Dad jeans, turtlemock, and New Balance 992s.
Q: While rolling my sleeves above the elbow just seems natural to me, I find myself wondering how high they should be rolled? I've noticed you endorsed Alex Rodriguez's above the bicep rolling, but that seems like showing off the biceps a little too much, which would violate the MB rule of understatement. —Brian
A: In hindsight we acknowledge the Alex Rodriguez post too strongly endorsed his excessively high sleeve rolling in our haste to make a joke about him still being on the juice. We regret that we may have misled some readers into inappropriate bicep/tricep exposure, and would like to take this opportunity to offer some more thoughts on the subtle art of sleeve-rolling.
As we explained in our initial post on this topic, you want the sleeve to end up enough over your elbow to give a phlebotomist a clear shot at your medial cubital vein. But don't get carried away. A good phlebotomist doesn't need a lot of room in which to work.
Q: Hi. I am a college student with an athletic build and I am going to be starting a job that requires a shirt and tie. I am going shopping soon to get some clothes to start off with and was looking at the Express Mens 1MX shirts. They seem to have a good fit, what your take? Thanks —Matthew
A: We are not familiar with the Express Mens 1MX shirt, and we have to say, any garment with a name that would work as well for a missile as a shirt gives us pause. But the 1MX does seem to have quite a cult following: the Express 1MX Modern Fit is averaging 4.8 stars (out of a possible 5) over 266 reviews, and the Express 1MX Fitted is doing almost as well, averaging 4.6 stars over 164 reviews.
The only thing more highly rated than these shirts is the news of Osama bin Laden's death.
Additionally, many reviewers own dozens of these things, and some even claim to have one in every flavor — that's 22 shirts!
Oh, did we say flavor? We meant color. Unfortunately, many of these shirts come in colors that remind us of sherbet and may lead you down paths you don't want to go. "You can not go wrong with this shirt," one poor bastard writes. "It fits great and there are so many color varieties available its almost impossible to not find the color you want. My girlfriend wanted to wear matching colors for a Christmas photo, and she wanted purple, and it was not hard to find."
Still, we agree that the fit looks good, though, and while it may surprise some of our readers, we are fans of stretch cotton — which is to say, cotton spiked with a splash of spandex or elastene to add a note of comfort and keep maintenance to a minimum. (Retrieve a good stretch cotton shirt from the dryer at the right time and you're done, no ironing necessary.)
And at $59.90 a shirt, or $89.85 for two, these 1MX shirts are affordable enough to take a chance on. If you get one, we recommend you go with True White.
But before you go that route, do some digging at yoox.com and see if you can find a white or blue stretch or 100% cotton dress shirt from Costume National or Ferre' for a price that makes sense for you. They'll have an equally good fit, mother of pearl buttons, and construction that will last more than a 1/2 dozen trips to the cleaners. (Even when there's no ironing involved, laundry is something we prefer to do only in emergencies.)
Q: Boast USA; I think their polos are pretty MB. Yay or nay? —Chris
A: In Pulaski, Wisconsin, circa 1985, the closest thing we had to a country club was the dart board at the American Legion. So we were unfamiliar with Boast until we started see it showing up on other websites last fall.
At first we figured J. Peterman was trying to outdo himself by inventing the backstory for an entire brand rather than a single piece of apparel. A brand named after a squash shot, started by a Greenwich, Connecticut tennis pro in the 1970s, worn by John Updike, Roscoe Tanner, and a young, crackhead-skinny G.W. Bush? And bearing a logo that looks like a marijuana leaf but is in fact a leaf from one of our favorite trees, the japanese maple? It all sounded a little too good to be true. Especially since when you look at the logos on various vintage shots of the shirts, they all seem to have been harvested at different times — that's a lot of variation in the size of that leaf.
So we did what all serious investigative journalists do when trying to nail down the facts. We poured ourselves some Macallan 18* and started watching Risky Business, which was said to feature a Boast shirt in it. A dozen or so ounces later, there it was, at 1:08:20. Case closed. The brand and its history appear to be as real as Teri Hatcher's breasts.
Anyway. Onward to your question. We like the brand and we especially like their tipped polo. We'd like it even better if it came with no logo whatsoever, but even as is, we still think it's sharp enough for darts at the American Legion. And if there were a tennis court anywhere within ten miles of here, we'd be wearing it there too.
* Why weren't we drinkings MBs? Because we were working, and we save MBs strictly for our leisure hours.
If you're looking for a custom shirt, you've got multiple choices these days. One of our favorites is Deo Veritas. To help celebrate its revamped website and streamlined ordering process, we're collaborating on a contest. All you have to do is take this short shirt quiz.
Entries that include all the correct answers will get thrown into a hat, and one lucky winner will get a Deo Veritas custom shirt of his choosing. That's right, any fabric, any options — the winner gets whatever he (or she) wants. In all, this represents a potential $195 value. So get right to it and take the quiz. If you're stumped for answers, here are some good places to look:
When we conducted our online custom shirtmaker review last year, we loved the fit of Deo Veritas' shirts and the fact that it offers sewn collars for a nominal upcharge of $9. But we weren't so crazy about the site's ordering process or its design in general. Recently, the HTML tailors at Deo Veritas engaged in some significant alterations, and we think the new site turned out great.
Deo Veritas has also expanded the range of its fabrics from 58 to 80, and added a incisive tutorial on what to look for in a dress shirt. Study this tutorial closely, as in the next few days we'll be featuring a quiz on this very subject. The lucky winner will get his choice of Deo Veritas shirt, made to order and delivered to his door in less than a month.
And if you don't win, well, you can still take advantage of a special deal Deo Veritas is currently offering readers of Magnificent Bastard — 20% off on orders of two shirts or more. Just remember to use the MB2FOR20 code at checkout.
After the producers of his TV show officially fired Charlie Sheen, the supernatural sitcom star said the most sensible thing he's uttered in months, possibly years: "I never have to put on those silly shirts for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension."
Turns out that while Sheen may have despised his Two and a Half Men wardrobe as much as the rest of the sighted world, he also endorses and even helped design a clothing line -- the Charlie Sheen Signature Series by DaVinci -- that markets these two-toned, polyester-blend torpedos of retinal destruction.
What good is having tiger blood and Adonis DNA if you cover it up all in Herculean toolbaggery that looks like the official jersey of the Las Vegas Blackjack Dealers Association bowling league?
Only a next-level genius like Sheen can answer that question. What really worries us, though, is that when DaVinci launched Sheen's Signature Series in 2009, the renaissance madman said he planned to expand the line beyond shirts in the future.
Now, he's got the time to do it. And since his first clothing venture, Sheen Kidz*, a "couture-quality" line of clothing for little girls who aspire to dress like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, went belly up a couple years ago, we figure he'll be channeling all his clothing design energy into his DaVinci line. We bet Tom Arnold is clearing up some space in his pants closet at this very moment.
* Note the use of "z" in "kidz," to make satin-accented couture-wear for four-year-old girls seem more street. Winning!
Typically, all we ask of a shirt here at MB is that it look good, be relatively maintenance-free, and refrain from making any lengthy remarks about Jesus or the local price of mustache rides. Read Wall, on the other hand, is more ambitious than us. You may have noticed his ad over there in the column to your left, the one pitching shirts that make the world smarter.
Read, it turns out, is a man with a dream, and that dream involves selling these three excellent shirts and using a portion of the proceeds to help fund a school in Tanzania. That sounded noble to us, and wanting to help out, we asked if he'd like to donate a shirt as a prize for one of our contests.
If you're wondering how us getting a free shirt to give to one of our readers qualifies as a noble gesture on our parts, well, what can we say? We're new to this altruism stuff. But Read agreed to our suggestion anyway, so if you want a shot at a shirt of your choosing, follow this link, and play a matching game about the accessorization trademarks of five notorious African dictators.
On Friday, March 4 at midnight CT, we'll put the names of everyone who answered everything correctly in our new Super Bowl XLV hat and name a winner on Monday, March 6. Pick any one you want (we're partial to the awesome jumbo-check navy gingham).
Here's a question for the MB: Where does one get good, grey, long-sleeve dress shirts? In my current bartending job the dress code is black slacks, grey dress shirt. The darker the better so as not to show those pesky Angostura stains that sometimes accumulate during a shift, machine washable, will be worn with sleeves rolled up to around the elbow for functionality. Beyond that the restaurant's pretty open to stylistic touches, so I don't have to look like a total service industry drone. Any ideas? --Jacob
A: Jacob, this question begs YOOX as the answer: 798 grey shirts from Acne to Zegna, including this 100% polyester D&G version. Not only does it easily repel Angostura, it will keep you warm on any impromptu wilderness treks after a few too many shots at closing time.
Golf is a gentleman's game. If you work up a sweat, you're working too hard. Go back to the driving range and smooth out your swing. There's no need for performance polyester polos, ever.
For thirty years Bill Murray has been quietly -- albeit in a visually loud way -- preaching this gospel. As far as we can tell, he is the only golfer of note -- pro or amateur -- who consistently wears long-sleeved wovens on the course. Don't let thehats that even Tyler Perry wouldn't wear distract you. Don't be put off by the fact that he invariably looks like a sack of dirty laundry when teeing off. Style-wise, he ends up in bunkers and hazards more than Charles Barkley, but his allegiance to the long-sleeved woven -- starting with his iconic turn as Carl Spackler in Caddyshack and continuing through his first Pebble Beach victory yesterday -- is as straight and true as a Tiger Woods drive (back when he was good).
We are huge fans of Aaron Rodgers. He not only wins, he looks good doing it, with a laid-back but commanding presence on the field. When it comes to passing efficiency, he's the NFL's best ever for quarterbacks with at least 1500 attempts. But when it comes to dressing efficiency, he may trail even Ben Rothleisberger, and that's not a good place to be. On Letterman last night, Rodgers went just 1 for 4. The dark denim is fundamentally sound, but the untucked woven with what looks like a suit jacket is a fumble on the opening drive, and the oversized watch overthrows good taste by at least ten yards. Get this man an offensive coordinator!
With his first Super Bowl victory under his belt, people are already comparing Rodgers to Bart Starr and Joe Montana ... but for the moment, at least, Broadway Joe's legacy as the NFL's most stylish QB ever seems extremely safe.
Earlier: Ben Roethleisberger getting gang-tackled by his ridiculously oversized jacket, shirt, and t-shirt.
A: In theory, we ought to like rugby shirts on grounds of Anglophilia and tradition. In practice, well, you'd never want to wear an authentic rugby shirt off the pitch -- unless you want to look even goofier than your friend the cyclist who thinks his Team Radio Shack jersey looks good off the bike. Meanwhile, the more understated striped versions that have been showing up in designer collections in recent years tend to remind us of wrapping paper. Every once in a while we see one that almost changes our mind, but there are none in our closet at the moment.
At approximately $10 a year for a subscription, GQ and Details are now nearly as free as the Internet. But as with the Internet, don't believe everything you read in them.
"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." Details, 11/10
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." Details, 11/10
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.'" GQ, 1/11
"Slimming and stylish, the modern six-button blazer has left the midtown office behind for the downtown scene." Details, 11/10
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." GQ, 2/11
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." Details, 2/11
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.
Q: What are your views on the T-shirt under casual unbuttoned shirt look? Thanks for your insight. --James
A: We're not saying no one can pull this off, ever, but in general our take is too much dishevelment and not enough artfulness. Case in point: we imagine that there are very few photos in which Kurt Cobain looks like the goofiest member of Nirvana, but here you see one of them (top), and Cobain's shirt-and-tshirt combo is definitely a contributing factor.
Q: Hello MB, I've been around for awhile, and mostly like what I see. But, when it comes to putting the principles into action, I feel overwhelmed and eventually give up. Are there some essential bastardly wardrobe elements that could get me into some semblance of style? Thanks, Hopeless Bastard. --(aka Eric)
A: When you've got a good bottle of scotch and a glass at your disposal, it's hard to make a bad drink. The same holds true for denim and a white shirt. Start with those and you'll be fine. They're virtually toolbag-proof.
THE SHIRT: In China, there are factories the size of sports stadiums filled with workers who aren't allowed to pee until they've produced at least a hundred white shirts that shift, yet finding just the right white is like finding meaning in a Jersey Shore episode. Some guidelines: slim fit, no logo, no breast pocket, point collar, sewn collar (vs. fused), and mother of pearl buttons. The holy grail is a crossover -- something that can work with a tie and casual suit, then later with your new jeans. (We can't strongly recommend anything at the moment -- and may have to make one on our own -- but please stay tuned.)
Since doing our custom shirt feature this spring, we've become big fans of this product. If Santa put a few bucks in your stocking and you're in need of a shirt or two, here's an update:
*Deo Veritas is offering 20% off any order of two or more shirts with code 2FOR20. They made our favorite shirt and it showed up in just 12 days. Be sure to pay the extra $9 for the sewn collar option. (Deo Veritas is an MB sponsor. --Ed.)
* After giving owner Fan Bi some grief for a couple of poly blends, Blank Label has stepped up its game and added 40 new, 100% cotton fabrics and kept the price at $45. This is almost without doubt the cheapest way to try out custom shirting. (Blank Label was an MB sponsor. --Ed.)
Tip: Biased Cut is also holding a sale. Four of their shirts are at $50.
Question: I'm really digging the Bona Fide. It fits the season well and it's very understated. Your thoughts?
Also, I'm a little unsure about Eucalypt. I need your guidance on this one. --Albert
A: 50 bucks for a custom shirt should get everyone's attention, and Biased Cut shipped the best-fitting shirt of the ones we reviewed.
Regarding your questions, Albert, if you like the Bona Fide, go for it. But because you're unsure, sit tight on the Eucalypt. We've learned to hold apparel to the same burden of proof as potential partners/spouses: even if there's only a hint of doubt about an item, pass on it or return it. It really cuts down on the trips to the resale shop. And divorce court.
NB: One thing we weren't crazy about with the Biased Cut shirt was the 1/8" collar stitching and the 1/4" stitching everywhere else. If you make the request for consistent 1/4" stitching, Biased Cut will accommodate.
Q: I'm starting a new school year on Tuesday and want to know: what does an MB teacher wear? --Eric
A: As is often the case, movies hold the answer. You want to set yourself apart from the Phys. Ed. teacher, but not go too dressy in the direction of Mr. Hand or Ben Stein's famed economics teacher; it's a slippery slope towards administration, or Looking Like Principal Richard Vernon.
While this was the least believable movie role since Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist in The World is Not Enough, Bradley Cooper's artfully disheveled prep-school teacher in The Hangover strikes a fine balance: vest (one size smaller than normal), sleeve-rolled chambray work shirt, undone repp tie, accessorized with a vintage watch in a black nylon band.
Q: I'm a 6' 3" fellow with long arms and a long torso. I've been looking around for some casual button downs to wear untucked but all of the ones that I've found, the sleeves have been at least an inch too short. I wear slim-fit shirts and, short of ordering custom tailored and rolling up every button down shirt I own, where would you suggest I purchase shirts that are both casual and not too expensive? --Jacob
A: Jacob, we're in the same boat and know exactly what you mean. Why don't shirtmakers make off-the-rack garments for tall, sinewy lads like us? It's discriminatory!
If you can't be bothered going the custom shirt route (see our feature on custom shirts), we've found a shirtmaker that meets your needs, with the possible exception of price: Philadelphia-based Commonwealth Proper makes just 20 copies of each shirt (in the USA) and releases a few new versions each month. Their large will fit you like a glove, but don't just take our word for it. You can find out for yourself with a free home try-on by emailing your address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, we get another look at Obama's casual wardrobe, and it has not improved much since the infamous first pitch.
Left: JFK with classic American Optical Saratogas, in slim-fit pique polo with sleeves hitting at bicep. Right: Obama with Maui-Jimmyish Ray-Ban 3217s, in Hefty bag-fit Coolmax polo with sleeves hitting at elbow.
Federal prosecutors were only able to convict former Illinois governer and First Toolbag Rod Blagojevich of a single count of lying to the FBI, but more significantly, they did unearth receipts showing a 7-year, $400,000 clothing budget for he and his wife at stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. (If this is ringing a bell somewhere, it definitely should.)
Blago also spent heavily at custom suitmaker Tom James Company and had custom dress shirts made by Geneva Custom Shirts. Yet, in spite of all the expense and bespoke tailoring, he failed to grasp even the most basic style truth: don't combine spread collars with four-in-hand knots.
SEE ALSO: Magnificent Bastard's Custom Shirt Reviews. (Unfortunately Geneva Custom Shirts was not one of the participants.
Chicago-based Deo Veritas, the place that made our favorite and also most versatile shirt, has simplified their shirt designer tool (our biggest beef with DV), and added some higher-end Thomas Mason fabrics ($138) and a few entry-level Japanese fabrics ($69) for those wanting to dip their toe into custom shirts. Even for toe-dippers, we strongly recommend spending $9 for the sewn-collar upgrade.
Manhattan-based Biased Cut, which made the best fitting shirt, has released a measuring "how-to" video set to a Django Reinhardt contemporary Oscar Alemán's Tango. Follow the instructions -- preferably with the help of a cute tailor -- and you will get a well-fitting shirt.
As Jack Nicholson demonstrates, MBs can sometimes grow manboobs. While minimizing Jack-sized jugs probably requires breast-reduction surgery, if you've just started growing an unwanted pair there's a way to effectively shrink 'em by covering with pockets, like the two on this $45 Tailgate Clothing Company polo in grey jersey.
Q: I have a couple of polo shirts that have gotten lines in the collars from lots of wear. I iron them, but it doesn't seem to remove the whole line. Is there any way remove/prevent this from happening? --Tom
A: Tom, do you realize J. Crew has an entire division of fabric engineers dedicated to creating ersatz collar lines, and they still have not duplicated what you've achieved naturally via hundreds of wash cycles? Accept and embrace these lines, and most importantly, like tax returns, leave all ironing to professionals.
(Take an extra 20% off Final Sale with code Extra20)
Q: What is Bert van Marwijk and the rest of the Dutch coaching staff wearing? Even if the Dutch do not go on to win, it is apparent that van Marwijk is the best dressed amongst all the World Cup teams. --James T.
A: It definitely doesn't hurt to have a tan and a head of white hair, but the Dutchmans' fitted suits with short-hemmed jackets, combined with open point collar shirts is a look that may take them to the championship.
Q: Been looking at Biased Cut ever since you posted the Custom Shirt Reviews. What do you recommend as far as collars? I like the look of the spread collar as it seems more modern. Did you order any spread collared shirts? --Mark
A: No, we didn't order any spread collar shirts for a couple of reasons:
2. 95 out of 100 guys look better with a point-style collar. It's similar to striped shirts, with point collars equalling vertical stripes and spread collars equalling horizontal stripes. If you're the rare man who needs his face fattened, a spread collar can work. If you're not, point collars are a much better bet.
Q: I am starting my internship this summer. What dress shirt colors do you recommend? And what type of patterns are acceptable and go well with which color? --Garvin
A: Garvin, it's sounds like you're not only new to the world of work, but maybe also new to the world of getting dressed. So we recommend that you keep things simple. Get a white shirt and a blue shirt. Either will go with any suit, tie, or pants you own.
If you're looking for specific recommendations, check out our custom shirt feature. While Chicago's Deo Veritas made our favorite shirt in Carolina Blue Gingham, don't venture into checks until you land a job. We've gotten great reader feedback on Biased Cut shirts and they make a basic white and basic blue. Theirs was the best-fitting shirt of the ones we reviewed, and they'll even send you a complimentary measuring tape if you don't have one to take your measurements. Just be sure you're OK with the central back pleat (which we like), and request a non-fused collar with 1/4" stitching.
Bill Clinton got tripped up by a blue dress. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama got done in by a blue, red, green, purple, yellow, and black shirt. Yesterday the politician resigned after just eight months in office, his popularity eroded in large part because of a shirt he wore to a barbecue and other out-of-the-box fashion choices. Always remember this, readers: Sometimes, cheating on good taste can get you into even more trouble than cheating on your wife.
Q: I'm going to a large picnic out of town and want to look my sharpest. I just bought a pair of blue and white seersucker slacks and a very sharp pair of navy suede loafers with a brass buckle on them. What I was wondering is, what kind of shirt should I wear to complete my summer themed look? --T.R.
A: T.R., the pants and the shoes aren't having an argument, but they're definitely carrying on a rather loud conversation. In this case the role of the shirt is to observe, quietly. Wear a simple white sport shirt with this outfit, like this slim-fit Theory option. The fabric's subtle lustre offers the desired texture contrast to the puckery seersucker and nappy suede.
A couple of other strong suggestions while you're on the line:
1. One way to make seersucker less Gregory Peck and more 21st century MB is to remove the crease. Assuming they're flat front (and they really need to be), simply staple a "no crease" note to a belt loop for the cleaner.
We'd never heard of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama until he showed up to a barbecue dressed like a cross between giant Rubik's Cube and a Vegas mobster (see photo). Normally, we're not fans of patchwork shirts, black turtlenecks, or greasy pompadours, but if you put them all together and you're the ruler of one of the weirdest countries on the planet, well, what can we say? We like this look, Prime Minister Hatoyama!
Not everyone agrees with us. Japanese designer Don Konishi called Hatoyama's shirt outdated and out of touch, just like his political ideas and policies. (Glass houses department: Look at Konishi's own line of clothes.)
If you don't want to wait until S/S 2011 to get your Hatoyama Shirt, the early adopters at Shirtsmyway.com are offering a limited-edition version now, for $500. Drably dressed leaders of the world, take note.
I work in Detroit and found a great option for safety and MB style, Miguel Caballero's line of bulletproof clothing. I just bought a few of these. They are custom fit and have 3 levels of protection. This polo can stop a 44 magnum SJHP at close range and it's stab proof. I thought you should pass this along to all working in cities under fire. Please truncate if needed. --Jerry
We were unfamiliar with Miguel Caballero until now. Thanks for the tip.
Reportedly worn by amateur lawman Steven Seagal, perpetual president of Venezuela and talk show host Hugo Chavez, and many others, the Miguel Caballero Bulletproof Polo starts at $4000. For half that price, you could buy 200 polo shirts from Target and wear them all on top of each other, creating an inpenetrable wall of combed cotton. But think of all the laundry! The Caballero Bulletproof Polo is obviously a much better option, and if you're in the market for one, we recommend that you pay full retail. This is definitely a shirt that you don't want to buy used on eBay.
Q: I am going to a polo event on June 12th. I have not been to one. What to wear? Obviously weather plays a part in this, so let's assume it is 90 + degrees and sunny. I would love the detail for the outfit and sunglasses (total to spend $2500.00) and I have a great watch. I am more concerned with pant, shirt, jacket, and shoes. Thanks! --JJ
A: This may be your first polo match, but that doesn't mean everyone has to know. Follow the lead of Prince Harry, who has been there before, many times over, and go casual. Based on your budget, here's some specific pieces that will make you look like carefree royalty. (Caveat: Harry gets everything right from the neck down. His Maui Jim-style sunglasses should be left to the toolbag rabble.)
A few years ago, the cycling apparel industry didn't offer much to anyone who wasn't interested in looking like a superhero moonlighting as a billboard. Then, gas hit $4 a gallon for awhile, and suddenly garment makers realized there was a new customer to cater to: people looking for regular-looking clothing with some of the technical aspects that bike-specific clothing provides -- wicking ability, a close fit without a lot of extra fabric to get caught in gears or catch the wind, strategic pockets, etc. -- clothes in short, that can be worn at the office or anywhere else without immediately tipping off everyone that you've just gotten off a bike.
All week long, we'll be highlighting some of favorite cycling apparel. Today, we're starting with shirts.
1.Rapha Long Sleeve Shirt. $130.
Our first choice for low-key cycling apparel is wool. It wicks moisture well, has natural odor-killing properties, and feels great. This Rapha dress shirt proves that rules are meant to be broken -- it's 68% cotton, 28% nylon, and 4% elastane, three fabrics which involve no sheep whatsover. But we love the gingham check pattern, the smart tailoring, the single pocket on the back, and the nylon and elastane provide the wicking that cotton would not be able to accomplish on its own.
2.John Smedley Merino Jerseywear Long Sleeve Shirt. $149.
Like Rapha, John Smedley is an English brand. This isn't a bike-specific garment, but it's made out of superfine Merino wool, it's got a casual but fitted cut, and John Smedley has been making shirts and sweaters for 225 years. Clearly, they know what they're doing.
3.Nau M1 Polo Stripe. $105.
For a more casual look, and on sunny days, we love this summer-weight wool polo from Nau.
4.Ibex Men's Ace Shirt. $105.
Not every wool shirt is machine-washable. This one is. Like the Nau polo above, it's also made from wool that's soft as your favorite cotton t-shirt.
Q: I never watch Dancing With the Stars, but last night as I walked by the TV, I saw an interesting shirt being worn on the show. I was wondering what kind it is. I believe it's got a henley collar, but it looks like a dress shirt otherwise. What is it? and what are the MB's thoughts on it? --Scott
A: Scott, your experience shows why it's a good idea to simply turn off your TV at least fifteen minutes before Dancing With the Stars starts airing. It couldn't hurt to actually pull your TV's plug from the outlet too.
Can you see where we're going with this? In 2007, we noted Banana Republic's efforts to push receding collars on the world, and predicted this trend's dreaded end-point: the dress henley. We were joking, because the idea of a dress shirt with no collar at all -- a completely bald dress shirt -- is not just aesthetically bad but also an affront to logic. How can a dress shirt be a dress shirt if it lacks the infrastructure to support a tie?
Never underestimate the power of an awful idea. Three years later, we've got dress henleys. The signature shirt of soap opera stars who cry when getting eliminated from reality dancing shows. Avoid.
Q: This J. Crew cotton suit.
Can I wear that with a blue gingham shirt, or are the subtle stripes going to give me problems? Also, brown loafers and a gray flannel tie. --Jason
A: Yes you can. Just make sure the check on the gingham is 3/16" at an absolute minumum, and even a little bigger would be better to further quiet the suit's stripes. The shirt is the star of this show. Save the flannel tie for pairing with a fine-whale corduroy suit this fall. Instead try a gray knit or linen-cotton blend; either will provide the texture you're looking for.
Why are Earth's polo shirt logos morphing into giant mutant cartoons? Am I in any danger? --Owen
Owen, we assume you're talking about Lacoste's oversized reptiles and Ralph Lauren's iconic equestrian, which in recent years has grown bigger than most real-life jockeys.
In the case of Lacoste, as long you don't mind looking like the world's biggest three-year-old, there is no real danger. Ralph Lauren, on the other hand, has essentially created the preppy version of Ed Hardy shirts with his Big Pony and Rugby lines. If you ask us, one giant logo per polo shirt is one too many. Clutter things up with stripes, patches, flags, and other Anglophilic flair (TTH edition) and you've got a look that shouts "Muffy says no penilingus unless we rent in Sagaponack, but my heart is at the Jersey Shore." Keep your distance from these things -- second-hand toolbagism is a very real possibility.
A: This season J. Crew doubled down on gingham shirts, with loads of casual options to choose from for $59.50. And nice. For $25 more -- still less than typical custom shirt prices -- we definitely recommend looking at the Deo Veritas gingham (pictured). It's custom made to your measurements and collar/cuff/pocket/placket specifications, and by choosing the sewn (vs. fused) collar you're getting a dress shirt that can moonlight as a first-rate casual shirt.
Ed. note: For gingham enthusiasts with thicker wallets than Mark, check out Alexander West (and see our review, too). No fewer than 18 different ginghams to choose from, and if you ask nicely, CEO/founder Alex Yoo will make your shirt with a sewn collar, and you can choose the thickness of the interlining.
Q: No comments about Tiger's Nike sunglasses at the Masters? I hope they enhanced his game, because they did nothing for his already lacking MB-ness. --Nate
We know Woods spent the last few months in sex rehab, but based on his appearance at the Masters, we're wondering about the cure. To our eye, it looks like his therapists have simply stuck a pair of super-dark blind-guy glasses on him in the hope that they will prevent him from spotting trashy blonde blabbermouths in the gallery. And fed him a lot of donuts. On the bright side, he's wearing a collared shirt. And every day you can stay off the mock turtlenecks is a good day.
The number one downside of online shopping? You don't get to try stuff on before you buy it. Going custom mitigates this factor. If you know how to use a measuring tape, you can, in theory at least, order away without having to wonder if the item in question will fit you better in medium or large. Consequently, the online custom shirt-making business is booming. Which of the many purveyors out there has the greatest selection of options? Which has the easiest ordering process? How fast do they deliver and do their products measure up to their promises? We decided to do some investigative shopping. Here's what we found.
A flood of questions (and comments) have come in regarding the new header photo. Her name is Elizabeth. She is reading an original copy of the 1945 edition of The Bounty Trilogy. She empathizes with Bligh but is more of a Fletcher Christian fan. She's drinking chardonnay. She's wearing an Alexander West shirt in purple gingham. She's only wearing an Alexander West shirt in purple gingham. It may look like all her furniture, half her wardrobe, and her entire supply of fireplace matches has been repossessed, but in truth she has everything she needs, including a date for the next eight Saturday nights. Sorry, guys.
In the latest Details, they endorse the "popover," aka a dress shirt will a polo-like button collar instead of a full button front. I quote: "An oxford with half the buttons, it's pulled together but casual. The best part: You never have to tuck it in." I am thinking probably not but wanted to get a second opinion. Your verdict? --Greg
A: If you are a railroad conductor on a train that maintains a semi-formal dress code and can't find a job anywhere else, okay. Otherwise, no. They look like night-shirts to us, plus they wreak havoc on the natural shirt-making eco-system. Button-makers have kids to feed too!
Q: Being a younger MB in training (think college) whenever I'm around my mom she bitches about how wrinkled my shirts are, no matter how pressed they are. Now, please don't mock me too much for mommy problems, but I want your take. Are wrinkles ever appropriate? --Tyler
Do you think Rose Kennedy got on John's case for wearing this shirt on the beaches of Hyannis Port? Unlikely, probably because a.) she had like 7 or 8 other kids to deal with, and b.) JFK knew to enough to tell his maid to pull that woven out of the dryer right before the timer ended, easily achieving the precise amount and depth of rumple.
Next month, we review shirts from seven online custom shirt providers. Our comprehensive assessment includes coverage of the ordering process, the fit, and how they look on a hot naked blonde. (Hey, we had to figure out some way to make this as enjoyable for us as our cocktail contest has been.)
Normally, we don't endorse breaking up with your your clothes on the red carpet. But there is one exception: If it looks like you borrowed your fat uncle's shiniest suit, going full McConaughey may be the lesser of two evils. Nice call, Situation!
Q: My boss turned me on to a suit company called Astor and Black. They make custom tailored clothing to meet any specs you could ever want. A tailor supposedly can come to your home or office and measure you up, have you choose the style and fabric of the suit you would like and in 6 to 7 weeks your custom suit arrives. The best part is the price. I was quoted $2200 for 3 suits and 6 shirts, all made to measure. Am I missing something? Why has no one else stubled upon this? --Greg
A: Greg, we're not familiar with Astor and Black, but have undertaken the task of reviewing about 7 or 8 online custom shirtmakers, so look for that feature later in February. In the meantime, rather than wed Astor and Black in a boss-arranged marriage, first take it on a date and try out a shirt before committing to a complete wardrobe.
Q: Should an aspiring MB apply the polo shirt N-2 buttoning policy to sport shirts? Should one ever wear such a shirt with only the very top button unbuttoned, or would this be an example of toolbaggery? --Russell
A: Unfortunately that simple formula does not apply to sport shirts because there are other factors at work, like button spacing, collar shape and size, and abundance (or, preferably, absence) of chest hair. In other words, it depends.
But to illustrate where we lean, take a look at a TBT (Typical Bravo Toolbag) at the top with two unbuttoned, and MB icon Paul Newman in a western -- a shirt almost demanding N-2 -- with just the top button unbuttoned.
Q: I'm definitely on board with tucking in your sport shirts (I don't like Bravo, either). But I've been wearing sport shirts under sweaters a lot recently, and was wondering about the protocol on the sport shirt underneath. Tucked or not? --Christopher
A: First of all, we love Bravo, just not the guys who give the dudes on Jersey Shore a run for their toolbaggery.
Second, the tuck rule still applies for shirts underneath a sweater. I.e., if your shirt is designed to be untucked, go for it; if it's designed to be tucked, tuck it. This way you'll achieve the desired artfully disheveled shirt-barely-peeking-out look as demonstrated here by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer.
Ed. note:(500) Days of Summer is the best romantic comedy we've seen since Annie Hall. OK, maybe it's the only romantic comedy we've seen since Annie Hall. Anyhow, the only thing better than the flick (just by a whisker) is the soundtrack that includes tunes from The Smiths, Hall and Oates, and Spectacular Bitch par excellence Carla Bruni.
Q: Is gingham acceptable outside of spring/summer? If not, is there an equally awesome winter-based pattern? --Foreign Dignitary
A: This answer is definitely not by the book, but we endorse all manner of gingham year-round, partly because it is so awesome. It takes a certain attitude and confidence to pull it off, but the rewards are great. If the idea of wearing a large-check purple gingham shirt in the middle of January -- even under a cashmere sweater -- sounds a bit too adventurous, you can take a safer path and seasonalize it by choosing black and navy and brown for fall/winter (J.Crew is showing some coolwashed options), and save the pink and red and yellow versions until you see the first robin (that usually happens in early April here in Wisconsin).
OK, we know you don't normally read MB to be recommended a shirt from J. Crew. But we just got a shipment of these and we wish we'd bought more. This slubby, slightly off-kilter polo embodies artful dishevelment, and it's the rare shirt you can wear for 18 holes in the afternoon, then throw on a pair of denim and hit the bars at night (hopefully with a shower in between). We can just about guarantee you'll love it. On sale for just $19.99 a pop. Final sale. No returns. Fit is true to size.
Q: It's getting hard to find cool sport shirts that aren't fitted or slim fit. I know what you're going to say, but they don't look good on everyone, and it would be much worse to wear a shirt that's too tight. Any solutions that don't include going to the gym? --Adam
A: Geez, based on recent questions you'd think MB was some kind of shaving and workout-crazed American version of the Taliban. No, but perhaps menswear designers are trying to tell us all something: mix in a salad!
Adam, we recommen- Put that doughnut down! We recommend looking at Polo (preferably without the player logo). Even Ralph Lauren has jumped pretty heavily onto the "slim" bandwagon, and maybe his shirts are not the kind of cool you were thinking of, but the "classic" fit and Big & Tall have always been designed with a thicker American man in mind.
Q: Dear MB: I am a basketball coach and would like to carry my magnificent ways from the classroom to the practice court. What kind of athletic apparel do you recommend to keep me on the magnificent path. Thanks. --Press
A: Press, the answer to your question lies in a '70s TV drama. Ken Reeves, aka "The White Shadow," shows the way magnificently, just as he showed Carver High's ball club how to run the high pick-and-roll with Coolidge and Salami: fitted white polo with deep placket and pointed collar, slim track pants with contrast side stripe(s), and low-top sneakers.
Q: I couldn't find any MB articles on flannel (although I haven't really looked). Just curious, I keep hearing about "designer" flannel shirts that really seem too expensive for what they are. What is the MB's stance on flannel? I like wearing it because it's soft, warm, and durable, and I live in the Rockies. --Joe
A: It took nearly 15 years but the grunge affliction is finally behind us. Wear your flannel with confidence, but only if you weigh less than 100 lbs., are female, and not a lesbian. Otherwise, we tend to view flannel as this season's fleur-de-lis.
Recently a reader complained about sheer dress shirts and asked about options besides having to wear a t-shirt underneath. Even more recently, we were taking note of James Bond in Octopussy and noticed the sheerness of 007's tuxedo shirt, to the point where you can almost make out his nipples. Bottom line: 1. No undershirts. 2. Accept and embrace sheer dress shirts.
Q: Are there any decent white dress shirts that are not totally see through? Friends tell me to look at the more expensive dress shirts (purportedly because of the higher "thread count"). But then I look at $250 Armani dress shirts and they are just as sheer as other shirts (if not more so). Am I just stuck wearing a t-shirt underneath everytime I put on a white dress shirt, even in the summertime? --Richard
A: Without boring the absolute bejesus out of regular readers with a thread count discussion, the sheerness of a fabric is a combination of thread count, quality of the yarn, and weave. A fine-yarn shirt can have a high thread count (high density), cost $250, and still be sheer. You can also buy a low thread count, non see-through shirt at Burlington Coat Factory for $19.99 .
If you are opposed to wearing a shirt under your dress shirt (we strongly agree with that stance) and are hung up on sheerness, then focus on the weave rather than the thread count. Look for twill weaves or oxford weaves (but not at Burlington Coat Factory).
Q: What is the MB's stance on Bonobos polos and Bonobos in general? Their polos are slim but not too slim and come just high enough above the bicep with a tight fit. However there is a small logo on the lining of the buttons near the color? Does this violate the MB policy? --Todd
A: We don't really have a stance on Bonobos pants, though one reader did rate them very high on his own "gay factor" chart. The polos look promising. Nice sleeve length, but we could do without that piping. The logo isn't really a big deal because you can choose "matching logo," and if you follow the MB n-2 buttoning policy (as shown by the model pictured) you'd be hard-pressed to even display it.
Q: I live in a tropical South East Asian country with temperature averaging between 31 to 34C in the day. How would a MB dress here? --Sebastian
A: Would it be Indonesia by chance? Even if you're only living in the vicinity, rent 1982's The Year of Living Dangerously and then study Mel Gibson's wardrobe. Unbuttoned double cargo pocket shirts (tucked in of course), flat-front khakis, and perfect sleeve-rolling. Accessorize with cigarettes and/or Sigourney Weaver and you're good to go.
Q: I have a 100% Rayon sport shirt that has two buttons at the bottom. This shirt is made to be worn on the outside of your pants. Do I leave the buttons on or remove them? I know these are extra buttons but I don't know what the style is in regards to leaving them on or not. --Tom
A: Tom, do not confuse laziness with style. If you were born with extra nipples, well, maybe you could leave them on, because removing them would require a scalpel, some high-quality booze, and it would still be really painful. Buttons, however, can be snipped with a common pair of scissors.
Q: How can a 36 year old male dress in resort casual without looking too metrosexual, preppy or like a Tommy Bahama wanna-be? --Mollee
A: From top to bottom:
Knit Shirt: Polo with sleeves that hit at about the middle of the bicep. No logos if possible, especially none with the name of your country club or a high-end public course he recently played. Be sure to follow the polo shirt button rule.
Woven Shirt: At least one in white, of course. Unpressed. Just take it out of the dryer and go. Not buttoned-down. If it's not specifically designed to be worn untucked, have him tuck it in.
Sweater: Fine gauge v-neck cashmere. Period. On cool nights have him toss this over the polo or the woven and let his shirt collar just do what it wants to do.
Pants: No pleats. No creases. No linen. Khakis with patch pockets are a solid choice. Only denim if it's dark and dressed up, like Theory. Shorts OK too, but when the sun goes down remember the rule: pants only.
Footwear: Plimsolls or Jack Purcells. Sandals or flip-flops (but only if they're made from organic materials).
The Feet Themselves: If he chooses the sandal/flip-flop route, remember this rule about feet: If you wouldn't put his toe in your mouth, you need to convince him to get a pedicure.
Q: Polo shirt buttons. Buttoned to the top? Button the bottom one? Keep 'em all open? I'm thinking keep them open or button the bottom depending on how far down the shirt they go. What is MB polo shirt buttoning policy? --Jay
A: Buttoned to the top? Most definitely not. Too reminiscent of Ed Grimley (albeit in a woven) or certain toolbaggish PGA tour players. Otherwise, Jay, you've basically got it. The Official Magnificent Bastard Polo Shirt Buttoning Policy is as follows:
n - 2
Where n equals the number of buttons. A fully unbuttoned Lacoste polo (2 buttons) looks perfect. A fully unbuttoned J.Crew polo (3 buttons) looks a shade TTH, which is why it's displayed on their site in n-2.
Q: Is it MB to wear a dark shirt (think black, navy blue, brown) and a tie with a suit? MB-in-training in crisis as I have a number of nice, dark shirts and don't feel right wearing em with suits and ties. --Moshe
A: Moshe, your instincts are strong. If you combine dark shirts with suits, the good news is that you are all but guaranteed to become a huge success in the entertainment industry. The bad news is on the left.
We've previously been critical of Robert Pattinson's fashion-victim look, but on the set of Remember Me, he's giving a clinic on how to properly select and wear an untucked sport shirt. (Sleeves could be rolled a bit higher, however.)
First, placement: you want to put them up past your elbows, like you're ready to give blood. Second, how you get there is crucial. A repetitive push-and-roll technique is required. As you turn the sleeve, simultaneously push it up your arm and repeat until it's past your elbow to achieve the perfect amount of artful dishevelment.
Q: I've recently updated my wardrobe for the summer but I'm missing a crucial piece: the Russian navy shirt (as seen on the J. Peterman website). $44 seems too much for just a shirt, so I was wondering if there were better deals on these shirts. Can you help me maintain the Magnificent Bastard look while maintaining the cheap bastard mindset? --Daniel
A: We agree $44 is too expensive for that shirt. In fact, we think $4 is too expensive. Unless you are a professional gondolier and can write it off.
If you need the nautical look, we recommend separating your blues and whites like JFK (pictured). If you're still wanting stripes, J.Crew has a couple of muchmore subtle, less costumey options, and they're cheaper too.
Q: I recently noticed Phil Mickelson wearing golf shirts with shorter than standard short sleeves. As a guy with short muscular arms I would love to get shirts with these extra short sleeves. Where does he get them or are they made special for him? --Ron
A: Phil Mickelson has a large endorsement deal with Callaway, so it's a very safe bet they make his shirts. And, being the #2 player in the world, he can get Callaway to make anything he wants. (Though someone at Callaway should have the courage to tell Phil to add a little material around the torso. It's looking increasingly sausage-like, with a side of manboobs.)
Anyhow, we strongly endorse shorter sleeves on polos, especially if you have pipes worthy of display. The sleeve length on many of today's golf shirts, one can't tell if they're short long-sleeves or long short-sleeves (see John Daly at last week's St. Jude Classic). But don't make this a big concern. You can have your golf shirt sleeves shortened to taste by a tailor for $10-$15. And if you're cursed with Mickelson's waistline, try to find a tailor who moonlights as a plastic surgeon.
Q: I'm a freshman in college, about to enter my sophomore year, and I've just started reading MB, but I do consider myself rather stylish on an unemployed college student's budget. What's an MBs stance on collared shirt under a sweater with both of the sleeves rolled up over jeans? And do you have any other general tips to get that artfully disheveled look to truly shine? Thanks. --Mike
A: Mike, you're young and a still a little wet behind the ears, so we'll go easy. This look can be categorized as TTH (Trying Too Hard). Artful dishevelment is indeed calculated, but ends up looking like you didn't try at all. This looks like you tried; not to mention it's also going to stretch the shit out of your sweater sleeves. It's only OK if you're involved in an emergency birth.
Q: Help me settle an argument: If you tuck in your shirt while wearing jeans should you wear a belt? My position is that you should always wear a belt when you tuck something in. --Eric
A: We hope you don't have too large of a wager, because it's certainly OK to forego the belt with jeans when you tuck. 9 out of 10 times we'll wear a belt for either accessorization or pant-holding-up purposes (actual function). However with the right denim or right shirt, feel free to leave the belt in your closet.
After Rafael Nadal won Wimbledon last summer, we chastised his sleeveless, collarless look as being "some kind of weird combination of Menudo and Rambo." At the Australian earlier this year he added sleeves (top). At the French he added a collar (bottom) and promptly lost in the 4th round to Robin Soderling, the 25th-ranked player in the world. To thine own toolbag self, be true.
Q: As the summer and thus the warm weather approach I find myself breaking out the summer clothes again. However, I also find myself in need of a wardrobe update. I've got the footwear and shorts down, thanks to your Magnificently Bastard-like advice, but the issue of what should cover my torso perplexes me. I know that, unless playing golf, polo shirts announce to everyone that I'm a toolbag and that they should ask me if they need a hammer or a wrench. I also completely agree that "graphic Ts" are out of the question which leaves me with the question: What casual shirts does a magnificent bastard wear in warm weather? --Braden
A: First of all, leave the jokes to us. Second, yes, graphic Ts are beyond outgoing but a cool polo is timeless. Avoid the mock turtleneck at all costs. (You listenin' Tiger Woods?) A woven long sleeve with pants and rolled sleeves works, and designer Michael Bastian demonstrated this can work with shorts as well. This season nearly every designer is showing a short-sleeve woven, and while they're generally not NASA scientist style (shown here in paper Spock ears in 1967), the degree of difficulty of pulling off this look is high and requires the right physique. Finally, nothing beats a plain ol' grey or white T. Calvin Klein used to make "the best t-shirt ever" but no more and we're trying to find a replacement, or just make it ourselves. Stay tuned.
Loomstate's printed tees are about as fresh as Sarah Palin jokes (Sarah who?), but there are some gems available as a result of their collaboration with Target, like this chambray shirt for just $27.99 (top). Damn near the exact same shirt (bottom) is now for sale at Saks Fifth Avenue for $178.00.
Q: I know you've addressed this issue before with crewnecks, however, what should one do with their shirt collars while wearing v-neck sweaters? I tend to keep them in although I've had people comment on how I should wear them out. --Chevy
A: Chevy, it's going to depend on the cut of the v-neck and the shape of the shirt collar, but this is one of those times when you should submit to your shirt's free will. Don't force artful dishevelment. If the collar is meant to stay in, it will stay in. If it's meant to be out, it will come out. 9 times out of 10, however, daily activities like hailing a cab or hailing a bartender will push your collar out.
If you're shopping at the (Your Favorite Team) Pro Shop or mlb.com, being a stylish baseball fan is about as difficult as hitting a Roger Clemens fastball when he was tricked out on the juice. Bring your own heat this spring with an updated look that will separate you from the crowd. And above all, leave the glove in the trunk.
Kevin Federline nearly sent the trilby to the big hat rack in the sky. With K-Fed's welcome fade from the public eye and careful rehabilitation from the likes of Brad Pitt, the trilby is back, and Modern Amusement's version will announce your presence with authority. Especially since everyone else is wearing a baseball cap, and a few of them are even backwards. Modern Amusement "Take It Easy" Trilby, $58
Jersey - Top
Major league baseball players get paid millions of dollars to wear polyester. Unless you're under contract for 5 years, $35 million, skip the oversized faux jersey with sleeves down to the elbows. You go to the gym for a reason. Display the results of your hard work with these cotton t-shirt versions from Red Jacket inspired by the time before the designated hitter. Red Jacket "Remote Control" Jersey, $45
Jersey - Bottoms
No fake holes, no whiskering, no fading, no obnoxious design on the rear pocket (none at all, in fact. See our chart.). This is denim with a capital D: straight-leg selvage in a dark wash. Versatile, too, like a utility infielder: they work at the ball game and the club later in the evening. Citizens of Humanity selvage jeans in Virgin wash, $229
Baseball is America's pastime, and Converse is America's shoe, on par with other really American-y things like hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevro... ah, nevermind. Complete the retro-cool look with this garment-dyed twist on a classic. Leave the space-age running shoes for the 10K benefit, and the white New Balance cross-trainers for inside the house. Converse Jack Purcell shoes, John Varvatos Limited Edition, $110.
The primal scream is the same, the fist pump is toned down a bit, and Tiger Woods is thankfully back to wearing collard shirts on Sundays instead of the skin-tight mock turtleneck. Phil Mickelson, please take note.
Q: What is your take on Thomas Pink shirts? Is the modified spread collar narrow enough on the points to keep within magnificence? --Pete
A: Pete, in spite of being British, we're just not down with Thomas Pink shirts. The collars necessitate a Windsor knot and you know how we feel about the Windsor knot. Plus, 100% cotton dress shirts are so LC (Last Century). We've abandoned them entirely in favor of ones with a touch of elastane.
Here are five things you need once the snow melts, and you have about $2K burning a hole in your pocket:
1. Khaki Trench
The khaki trench doesn't just protect you from the elements, when left unbuttoned all that fabric can create the illusion of a man of action, intrigue, and dramatic flair, even if you work in a cubicle. And it goes with everything (except, of course, khakis). To avoid looking like Inspector Clouseau, choose one without a belt and all those cluttering loops, like this Tiger of Sweden version.
2. Lightweight Cashmere V-Neck Sweater
The average April temperature at our Pulaski, Wisconsin offices is just 48 degrees, so this Lono Piana sweater is practically a necessity. No matter where you live, toss it over a rumpled, washed white shirt with denim, or under a blazer and you're suddenly oozing casual elegance.
3. White Pants
Conventional wisdom holds that unless you're a rock star or live in South Beach, white pants are strictly a Memorial Day to Labor Day thing. As we've said before, baloney. By the time your favorite team has gone through a couple of pitching rotations, you can start rotating in white pants. This season, Gucci's 5-pocket denim are especially inspired, and at $595 they better be.
4. Gingham Shirt
Nothing signals longer days, warmer weather, and bugs quite like a gingham shirt. Fear not, this ain't your granddad's Sunday brunch gingham shirt. It's a classic interpreted with a couple of twists by Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana.
5. Walking Umbrella
So you're rocking a few of the items above and it starts to rain. Don't veer toolbag with one of those $5.99 popups or a contrast-panel Titleist better suited for a shower on the 15th green. Paul Smith has you covered much more stylishly with his signature stripe trimmed, chestnut-handled version.
Q: OK, when wearing cufflinks, if your shirt has a button placket just north of the cuff, do you use the button or leave it undone? I vote "use the button," but I see some seemingly very MB-esque people forgoing it. Please shed some Magnificent light on the subject. --Tim
A: Button? What button? We don't think we've ever used that button on either a button cuff or single/French cuff shirt. Those people you're seeing are MB-esque for a reason: they're MBs.
Q: I live in a total flannel shirt and NASCAR baseball hat state but consider myself a MB. Going back to your article "The Tyranny of the Untucked Sport Shirt", there sems to be a little lack of clarification. Is it OK to tuck in the sport shirt when wearing jeans? As a 32 year old guy, I don't want to exude that older, dad look. Please advise. --Evan in Maine.
Q: Is it ever acceptable to wear a button up shirt untucked? I always tuck my shirts in, but my friend always tries to get me to untuck them. Should I ever listen to him on the topic of shirts (or anything else)? --PO
A: We have discussed this issue before in a post entitled, "The Tyranny of the Untucked Sport Shirt." Unless the shirt is designed to be untucked, like this "Brando Military Shirt" from Edun, your shirt should be tucked in. In other words, ignore your friend in all matters, not just sartorial.
Joe Wurzelbacher, also known as "Joe the Plumber," has hired a publicist and may run for Congress, but he's already got a full-time job as the anti-MB. Yesterday in Defiance, OH: inarticulateness, shirt-sleeve legibility, and tapered jeans with cowboy boots.
Not to put excess emphasis on this, but notice yesterday Obama's sleeves headed into exposed elbow Newman/Dean territory (bottom), while McCain stuck in non-mavericky two-turn middle-manager mode (top).
John McCain meekly rolls his sleeves only two turns, and too neatly. Barack Obama makes three turns, which explains his lead in the polls. However, both could take sleeve-turning lessons from all-time MBs Paul Newman and James Dean, who turn them up past their elbows.
Longtime readers know how much we dug Paul Newman. In an interview earlier this year we cited Newman as one of the four most stylish people who've influenced us, along with Oscar Wilde, Yves Saint Laurent, and Chi-Chi Rodriguez. With two of the four dying this year, 2008 has really sucked. Hang in there Chi-Chi!
Anyhow, beyond the movies, the blue eyes, the philanthropy, and the tasty salsa and salad dressing, Paul Newman's greatest achievement -- even better than being on Nixon's enemies list -- was demonstrating the coolness of a v-neck sweater with woven white shirt.
The winner -- total toolbag Paul Azinger -- is wearing a mock turtleneck. The loser -- MB-ish Nick Faldo -- in an artfully disheveled collared shirt.
It's one thing for Mr. Azinger to be unstylish -- that's par for the course with him -- but does he need to dress up the entire team in that awful outfit?
In spite of the lopsided victory, that photo will not stand the test of time. In 20 years people won't be looking at the winning 2008 Ryder Cup team and say, "Geez, those guys really had style back then." Exactly the opposite.
Q: I wear a lot of buttondown shirts to work, and I see my boss not buttoning down his collars. So I ask the MB, should I follow his example? --Mike
A: Mike, you can laugh at his jokes, maybe order a similar drink at happy hour, and own his pet project, but never compromise your own style. Keep your buttons buttoned. Besides, unbuttoned buttondown shirts is a little TTH. Even worse is GQ's Style Guy Glenn O'Brien, who, in a recent column, admitted to buttoning one and leaving the other unbuttoned, which is artful dishevelment all wrong.
The Wall Street Journal isn't known for its style coverage, and rightfully so. Yesterday's piece on "How to Pull Off 'CEO Casual'" highlighted Trevor Kaufman, chief executive of digital-branding agency Schematic. He might be pardoned for watching Mad Men "with zeal," but wearing no-iron cotton Brooks Brothers dress shirts and pressing his Levi's 501s turns the MB aesthetic of artful dishevelment right on its head. Squatting on desktops is also off-MB-brand.
Something just ain't right about seeing the completely unstylish Rafael Nadal triumph on the completely stylish lawns of Wimbledon. Nadal's match with Roger Federer may be an instant classic, but neither that dreadful sleeveless top nor those long shorts will stand the test of time. Poor fella looks like some weird combination of Menudo and Rambo.
What is the Magnificent Bastard take on something I've always thought to be a staple in my closet, the Polo shirt (http://tinyurl.com/32uco2)? I personally have always loved them for casual wear, but want to make sure I'm not a toolbag by doing so. --Chris
A: Ralph Lauren makes some fine clothing, but why choose a logoed item that's so ... very ... common? So you can look like that middle manager with the penny loafers and Blackberry hanging from his belt? Wait a minute, that's the office calling.
Q: I like belts, but the only way to show one off is to tuck your shirt in. That works with some shirts, but not all. What shirts do you think can be tucked without looking bad? What thoughts do you have specifically on tucking polo shirts? --Dustin
Regarding polos, sport shirt rules apply: use the shirt's length as a tuck-in guide. For example, the poor fella in the Tommy Bahama polo (top) needs to either tuck it or move down two sizes. Or better yet, change brands. On the other hand, the fitted D&G pique polo (bottom) demands to be untucked.
Q: Today I decided to wear a button up dress shirt with my jeans. I'm tall, and typically need to buy shirts that properly fit my height and arm length, but I often end up with a shirt that is much larger in the torso than I. Aside from looking at getting my shirts tailored, are there any recommended means for tucking in my shirt so that it doesn't look like I'm sporting a cotton muffin-top around the waistline? --Jim
A: Three things:
1. You know how many aspiring MBs would give their left nut -- and maybe even their right one -- to have your problem? At least you've currently got a cotton muffin-top and not a blubber muffin-top. Blubber muffin-tops far less MB. Trust us.
2. You ought to look into the tailoring option to turn your regular-fit shirts into slim-fit shirts. Find a good tailor -- preferably a tiny Asian man who doesn't speak English -- and you also might be surprised at how affordable it is.
3. Explore the world of slim-fit shirts. We've mentioned them before, and it's a little weird talking about $220 dress shirts when there are food riots in Port-au-Prince, but these Dolce & Gabbana slim-fit dress shirts are some of the best we've ever seen and worth every penny. Get one and you won't want to wear anything else.
Top Chef's lead judge Tom Colicchio, last night decked out in an unbuttoned black woven shirt, over a black t-shirt. We bet Mr. Colicchio $1000 his shirt, besides being black, was also overlong and untucked.
Q: What are your feelings on undershirts when your shirt is not all the way buttoned up? Crew neck, v-neck, or none at all....My father who always dresses well tells me if it is going to be any at all it should be a v-neck, but if at all possible none at all... What do you think? —Brandon
A: Your papa taught you how to wipe your ass, shave your face, and tie your tie. Let's not start doubting him now.
Few things are more vulgar than a white crew neck tee under an unbuttoned woven shirt; you'll look fully unstylish and clueless. A v-neck isn't much better -- the lines look like ass and are the men's equivalent of panty lines -- but may be permissible in extremely cold conditions, either outside or in the office.
In conclusion, do what your dad says and leave the undershirt for the weekend.
(Note: Nothing we just said applies if you are Carson Kressley.)
Q: Sick of ironing shirts. What is a good alternative to shirts for business casual? —Jeff
A: Jeff, first of all, it's impossible to be a Magnificent Bastard and iron your own shirts. This is what illegal immigrants are for. Let's apply some simple economics to your question: For $2.00, to have your collar scrubbed and the shirt cleaned, pressed, and delivered (the only way to go, by the way) ... that doesn't pay for an MB's time that it takes to figure out how to get the fucking ironing board to stand up straight.
Regarding alternatives to shirts for business casual, even though it's business casual, you still need to wear a shirt. Depending on your office's tolerance for rumpledness, this Steven Alan model works great when taken right out of the dryer.
Yeah, Dolce & Gabbana sometimes missteps badly, like this pair of pink & silver logo mesh sneakers (inset). But they get it way right with their dress shirts. Modern and flattering cuts, top-quality fabrics and buttons, and traditional-with-a-twist collars make for a very MB shirt-wearing and shirt-owning experience. Expensive, but worth it. Especially for you.
For years we've been perplexed and alarmed at the seeming popularity of Robert Graham products. His shirts violate the MB principle of understatement, not to mention the universal principle of good style. Avoid.
These days, no matter where you go or what you do -- hit a club, take out the garbage, eat out, watch TV -- you're bombarded with men wearing untucked sport shirts. How did we get here, to this slovenly place? Have our collective asses gotten so fat we need to cover them up like a bunch of women? Why is this still perceived as being "cool" by so many men?
The pictures above will hopefully help make the case against the untucked sport shirt. All images taken from a single night's viewing of Bravo, a.k.a. The Toolbag Channel.
Help put this tired trend to rest -- and stand out from the crowd of untucked masses -- and tuck in your goddamn shirt (albeit in and artfully dishevelled sort of way).
Q: I love your site and the witty comments when answering a mail. I know that you endorse white shirts and have proclaimed it the "ultimate MB essential," but I would be curious to have your insight on black shirts. I just bought a magnificent black shirt (Jones New York) that perfectly fits my charcoal Fendi suit as well as another black suit I have. Of course, I haven't found a matching tie yet so I wear it on those not-so-formal occasions when a tie is not required. I like the fact that it is original and I am usually the only one wearing a black shirt! So, are black shirts MB-ish (albeit at a higher degree of difficulty, I reckon) or is it just wannabe material? —Johnny
A: We can tell you're as excited about the rebirth of Menudo as we are, but isn't this taking it a little too far? Black shirts cannot be written off entirely -- George Clooney can be seen wearing them on occasion -- but we just can't get behind them with much enthusiasm. They seem far more appropriate if you're a "latin pop" star like Ricky Martin (left), Enrique Iglesias (center), or Marc Anthony (right). Better to be livin' la vida loca dressed in something else.
First Banana Republic unleashed the spread collar on unsuspecting twenty-something male professionals. Now with the new "BR Monogram" line they're removing even more material with the "cutaway collar" shirt. Soon the collar may disappear entirely. Henley dress shirts anyone? Avoid this trend, and no matter how long your face, stick with the point collar, preferably a high one like this beautiful YSL version (inset).
Last week we threw printed polos and velvet blazers on the fall style bonfire (ooh, that's nice and warm!), and this week it's the message tee's turn. "United People Against Intolerance" Now isn't that special? It's also -- surprise -- on sale. Avoid like you do that crazy preacher on the street corner.
Q: A couple weeks back, I got a Blackwater Security polo shirt from a friend of my sister's. It's black with the "bear paw in a crosshairs" logo and the words "Blackwater" on the left breast. I was wearing it ironically for a while, but now, with the congressional hearings and such, I'm not sure if I should be seen in public with it. What's your take? BJ
A: Great question. It led us to create the following "Magnificent Bastard Ironic Value Chart." At this point you're better off wearing an O.J. Simpson jersey. May we suggest selling it on ebay and donating the proceeds to the Red Cross?
The Washington Post is trying its hand at fashion advice for men and is recommending this Club Monaco banker's stripe shirt with contrast collar. Yes, we're all celebrating the 20th anniversary of Wall Street like everybody else, but this return of a "classic" feels like it'll be outgoing by the time you finish reading this. Some things are better left in the '80s. Like the Thompson Twins.
One of our favorite spots for cool casual clothes is Clark's Register. While we certainly don't endorse that belt, and are only so-so on the shirt itself, the Magnificent Bastard staff all heartily agrees with the sales pitch:
One of our favorite brands is Theory, for its clean lines, good quality, and reasonably good value. But their shirts' sleeves were always a little short for Magnificent Bastards with long arms (and you know what they say about guys with long arms).
They've finally addressed that problem with new, more traditional dress shirt sizing like R 15.5 and L 16.5, and now they fit nicely.
Q: Why are shirts made for the fat f***ers of the world and not for slim build guys. Is it still ok, not to want to have baggy clothing that makes you look as if you have just been released from prison?
A: Let's be honest. Most of the shirt-wearing public are fat f***ckers. Have you seen the latest US obesity statistics? Brands are just making what people can wear without them looking like a stuffed sausage.
However, there are companies that understand not everyone looks like Dick Cheney. Just about anything from Urban Outfitters will do, as will the entire American Apparel collection. As much as we might hate to admit it, one of our favorite shirts over the past two years is the J.Crew broken-in jersey polo. It's well-made and versatile; and with its slim cut and short sleeves, doesn't leave a single bench press to waste.