Magnificent Bastard

Friday, August 1, 2014

The MB Shop: Ties, Belts, and Other Products You May Find Disagreeable to Live Without.  SHOP NOW

Ask the MB: A Stand-In for the J. Fold Trooper Weekend Bag

Scout Series Navy Duffle via Wheelman & Co., $159.00
Scout Series Navy Duffle via Wheelman & Co.. $159.00.

Q: I am looking for a cool weekender bag with good organization. I found the perfect one in the J. Fold Trooper bag, but unfortunately it appears to have been discontinued as I can't find it anywhere. Do you know of anything comparable I should consider?
—Eric

A: We are sad to hear the Trooper bag no longer appears to be in production — we continue to use ours often and four years down the line it is holding up well.

The Trooper had a fairly distinct profile that was based on standard-issue Soviet military bags from the 1960s and 1970s. Alas, in a quick survey of our favorite bag manufacturers, we were unable to find any offerings that closely approximate the Trooper's doctor's bag-like shape in weekender-style dimensions and materials.

Of what we did see, we were most intrigued by this Scout Series Navy Duffle from Wheelmen & Co., which strikes us as a nice combination of durability and modestly understated style. The overall shape is more conventional than the Trooper, but the volume is essentially the same and we suspect the Scout is easy to pack. Silver hardware is always our first choice over the far more ubiquitous brass, and while there are no photos of the bag's interior, we like the sound of it. Multiple pockets (including one zippered) and orange lining (presumably bright) to make it easier to ID small loose items in dim conditions.

So until Putin annexes the U.S. and commands J. Fold to start making Troopers again, we encourage you to consider the Scout. And if you do go ahead and purchase it, let us know what you think.

Unsafe At Any Price: Jil Sander Leather and Calf-Hair Collar

Jil Sander Leather And Calf-Hair Collar via Barneys, $147.25
Jil Sander Leather And Calf-Hair Collar via Barneys. $147.25.

We have been watching this Jil Sander collar for what feels like years now, wondering who might pay $1480, then $589, and now $147.25 for this item. On the one hand, we were conceptually intrigued by Sander's merchandising innovation — she was trying to appify or unbundle something that had traditionally been considered a part of a shirt or jacket rather than a standalone accessory. On the other hand, there was the item itself, which always made us think, "Damn. Somewhere, there's a really toolbaggy, circumcised leather jacket walking around." Now, months later, the snipped foreskin, er, collar, can be had for a 90% discount. And yet sizes S, M, and L are still available. Verdict: Unsafe at any price!

The Wartorialist: Civilian Edition

Givenchy Camo-Print Reverse Inlay Shirt & Camo Trousers via Bergdorf Goodman, $825.00
Givenchy Camo-Print Reverse Inlay Shirt & Camo Trousers via Bergdorf Goodman. $825.00.

With professional peacekeepers like these Yemeni riot police dressing with the bombastic flair of a back-up dancer in some lost Janet Jackson video, Givenchy has decided to deploy all its firepower in its effort to put an R&R spin on battledress. The result: An outfit so garish not even the fog of war can dampen its destructive force. We expect to see these on the streets of Baghdad soon.

Show Us Your Game Face, Dude! KTZ Yellow Digital Map Print Mask T-Shirt

Show Us Your Game Face, Dude! KTZ Yellow Digital Map Print Mask T-Shirt

Male models of the world, a gauntlet has been thrown down. The guy in this latest installment of Show Us Your Game Face, Dude! has already proven that he can maintain a visage as emotionally inscrutable as Half Dome even when wearing a terry cloth hat that would prompt Zeno of Citium into a fit of giggles.

Now, he's taking on — and handily defeating — what appears to be a suit of chainmail that can only hope to offer protection against barbarians with a bad sense of direction. Ladies and gentlemen, our first Game Face two-time winner!

Have you seen a candidate for Show Us Your Game Face, Dude!? Send a note to editor@magnificentbastard.com and if we use it on-air we'll send you a Magnificent Bastard tie of your choice. (No kidding! We are currently sold out of the usual Game Face prize — Disposable Letterpress Beverage Shields — so the next Game Face submission winner gets a tie.)

Ask the MB: Reversible Belts

W.KLEINBERG Ostrich/Croc Reversible Belt, Navy/Brown via Bergdorf Goodman, $374.00
W.KLEINBERG Ostrich/Croc Reversible Belt, Navy/Brown via Bergdorf Goodman. $374.00.

Q: Wondering what you think about reversible belts like this croc/ostrich one — toolbag gimmick or useful wardrobe expansion technique? Also, that buckle looks strangely familiar.
—Jim

A: At first glance, a belt that efficiently moonlights as another belt might seem to violate the principle of senseless lack of utility. In this case, though, the utility manifests itself in the realm of style. That is to say, a reversible belt doesn't make any claim to hold up your pants better, or provide some other practical benefit. It just multiplies the possibilities of looking magnificent. And that's the kind of utility we can embrace. In fact, we have plans to someday release a reversible belt ourselves.

Nonetheless, while we conceptually endorse reversible belts, there's still the matter of execution. Regarding the belt you've got your eye on, we love the Caiman crocodile side. But we think the full-quill ostrich side should probably bury its head in the sand. In other words, we'd approach this one as a strictly one-sided belt if we were to incorporate it into our wardrobe.

Finally, yes, that buckle does look familiar. Same one we use on our cashmere belts. Good eye!

The Wartorialist: Sadr City Edition

Photo: New York Times
Photo: New York Times

With their covered faces, camo pants, and simple black tees, this strikingly well-coordinated Mahdi Army flash mob almost looks as if they are about to surrender to 2014's most hegemonic force — normcore. And yet note the emphatic gestures of resistance. Fluorescent explosive devices and sweatbands. Skull face scarves. We are astounded that amongst all the upraised right hands, there is not one clutching an iPhone and taking a selfie — because this is the most self-consciously fashion-forward rebel army we've seen to date. When Opening Ceremony decides to get serious about invading the Gap, they know who to call.

The Wartorialist: On the Street....Baghdad

Photo: New York Times
Photo: New York Times

Normally we steer readers who ask away from camo. But if there's anyone on earth who should be taking advantage of the collapsing camo market's post-peak prices, it's Blue Steel and Le Tigre here as showcased by this NY Times article. As ISIL runs unchecked across Iraq, shooting anything that moves, these guys are wearing electric vermillion and plaid? While we admire their commitment to style in the face of adversity — if not actually their style — we can't help but wonder about their choices. Even wrapping themselves in a giant matador's cape would be an improvement over their current outfits.

Jay Carney Keeps it Wrong to the End

Jay Carney Keeps it Wrong to the End

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.

Earlier:

The only guys who should wear spread collars are Adrien Brody and the guy from Edvard Munch's The Scream

Visual proof: spread collars make your face and neck fatter

Ask the MB: Novelty Cufflinks

Ask the MB: Novelty Cufflinks

Q: Hi, MB! What do you think of novelty cufflinks?

Your fan,

Deb

A: We're not unconditionally opposed to novelty cufflinks. But we are somewhat baffled by the current state of the market. The last time we posted about this — in 2007 — we advised a reader to steer clear of skulls. Seven years later, that prohibition still stands. And from what we can see, you are going to have to do an awful lot of steering — the cufflinks sections on the websites of most major retailers look like the Crypt of the Sepulchral Lamp remixed by Hot Topic. (Seriously, when did skulls start accessorizing so heavily?)

Skulls with crowns
Skulls with ballcaps
Skulls with sunglasses
Skulls with bow ties
Skulls w/ headphones
Skulls with blackface
Skulls with mustaches
Skulls with mohawks

Has the Day of the Dead introduced a more formal dress code? While we understand that cufflinks offer a man a chance to signal his sense of style in a understated over-the-top way, and even encourage that, we're a little alarmed by this massive proliferation of skulls. A cufflink is not as permanent as a tattoo, but that shouldn't give you license to turn your sleeve into a black metal album cover from 1993.

Our advice: Stick with novelty cufflinks that allude to an interest in MB-approved pastimes like golf, tennis, sailing, skiing, or eating lobster. And even with those we have some caveats:

MB-Approved Novelty Cufflink Novelty Cufflink Caveat

Golf-related

Must have a USGA handicap index of 5.0 or lower.


Tennis-related

Must have a USTA rating of 5.0 or higher.


Skiing-related

Must have a ski level of 8 or higher.


Sailboat-related

Must own one of at least 28 feet.


Lobster-related

You're hungry, but you don't eat like a toolbag.

Buckle Up. The Unicorn Belt is Here.

Unicorn Belt via Magnificent Bastard, $150.00
Unicorn Belt via Magnificent Bastard. $150.00.

Unicorns are typically presented as fancy, flouncy creatures, like show ponies in drag. As it turns out, that's not true at all.

How do we know? Let's just say that on an elk hunting trip in Jackson Hole last year, we got the surprise of our lives.

Hypothetical question #1: Is it wrong to turn the most fantastic specimen the universe has ever produced into luxury menswear?

Hypothetical question #2: When a weaponized ungulate is bearing down on you at 60 MPH, does instinct sometimes take over?

Okay, truth is, these questions aren't so hypothetical. One moment, we were placidly contemplating the merits of two-button suits. The next, Satan's hell-horses were upon us. Racing toward us at impossible speeds. Snorting like dragons with hay fever. Suddenly, it was the age-old story: Man vs. beast. Them or us.

Everything happened too fast for photos, but after hours of hypnosis, and in collaboration with acclaimed wilderness artist Darrell Bush, we have re-created the scene in oil and canvas.

Also, we have some belts for sale. A limited edition series of 150. The roller on the brass buckle: genuine horn. The strap: genuine hide. The raw materials were shipped to New York City, where a fancy leather goods manufacturer produced the finished product you see here.

These belts aren't just belts. They're beautiful works of art that you could hang on the wall over your sofa.

Or, if you're stylish and brave, wear them as belts. Why "brave"? Well, as the postcard we're including with your purchase explains, we've been undergoing some odd effects when we wear these belts. The most significant: When we belch, it sounds like a dainty wind chime. Probably all in our heads, but considered yourself notified.

As for the wall over sofa, we've got that covered too. Along with the original oil painting we commissioned from Darrell Bush, we've also ordered a limited-edition run of 100 canvas giclée prints. These are signed and numbered by Darrell, and come with a certificate of authenticity. A less exclusive but still stunning portrait of this timeless hunting scene is available on archival paper, too.

Lightning rarely strikes twice. So while it's certainly possible we may run into a pack of angry unicorns a second time, we have to believe the chances of a Series #2 belt are low. If you want to be part of Series #1, act now.

Ask the MB: Walter White's Eyeglasses in Breaking Bad

Ask the MB: Walter White's Eyeglasses in <em>Breaking Bad</em>

Q: I've find this website on Google and, let me tell you, I admire what you do. I've always searched a website that knew how to recognize the brands of sunglasses, eyeglasses or wardrobe. Really Good! So, I'm asking you if is it possible to recognize the brand and the model of the eyeglasses wore by Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad as Walter White. I'm not talking about the last frame he used (which is Republica - Montreal) but the classic iconic metal frame that he wore in the entire series. I know they're safety because they have some hooks in the temples which are required because of side shields but I can't figure it out what brand are they, I'm really becoming mad searching that frame. Hope you could be helpful for me. Thanks.
—Carlo

A: Carlo: What's worse? Going mad or wearing glasses that make you look like a middle-aged high school chemistry teacher? (Or a middle-aged high school algebra teacher? See our earlier post on GQ Creative Director Jim Moore's questionable eyewear decisionmaking.)

We'll let you decide.

Meanwhile, as you ponder that, we're going to hit you with what will likely be disappointing news: We have sought input from all our usual eyewear sources and yet are unable to come up with a definitive ID.

We can tell you that the frames Cranston wears in Breaking Bad are pretty close to these B.M.E.C. Big Mens Sam Eyeglasses. In fact, some people believe these are what Cranston is wearing.

We think the nose pads are different, so close but no meth pipe. And frankly with a frame this generic it is ultimately going to be almost impossible to make a case for any brand that goes beyond a reasonable doubt. If you really feel you need verification before making a purchase, we suggest you figure out how to contact the show's propmaster. That's what we'd do if we really wanted to identify a specific product and the world's most authoritative men's style website left us hanging.

Ask the MB: Shoes for Long Walks in the Woods

#17 at Minocqua Country Club, where we're fortunate enough to be playing this weekend, in between loafing and drinking.
#17 at Minocqua Country Club, where we're fortunate enough to be playing this weekend, in between loafing and drinking.

Q: Can you recommend a good shoe to take for an extended walk in the woods? I don't eat near enough Nature Valley bars to feel comfortable even trying on anything from Patagonia or Merrell.

Also, is there anything I simply must add to my summer reading list? Your past recommendations have only done me good.
—Donnie

A: Donnie, our only extended time* spent in the woods is either:

a. hitting recovery shots back to the fairway, or

b. tree skiing at Deer Valley

These activities involve wearing golf shoes or ski boots, neither of which we can confidently recommend for extended walks in the woods. Sorry.

As for the summer reading list here are three recommendations, one for each of our three favorite things: Golf, Leisure, and Cocktailing.

GOLF
Every Shot Counts
"Moneyball" for golf that changes the way you look at the game, how you practice, and how you play.




LEISURE
How to Be Idle
A collection of essays celebrating naps, taking a sick day, daytime drinking, and many other joys of life.




COCKTAILING
The Modern Drunkard
The Bible for drunks, in seven short chapters, each of which you can finish in the time it takes to consume a cocktail (this makes for a highly enjoyable sitting).



* Late last fall we took a short hunting trip to Jackson Hole — where we wore boots — and got the surprise of our lives. Much more on this adventure soon.

The Winner of the Hydrogen-1 Blue Suede Slip-Ons Is…

The Winner of the Hydrogen-1 Blue Suede Slip-Ons Is…

Thanks to all who entered our recent contest. This time, only a small number of participants achieved a perfect score. The question that stumped many of you? Number 2, the one about what beings on Neptune would probably wear if they existed and had feet. While we're sure they would appreciate the easy style and Italian craftsmanship of the Hydrogen-1 Neptunians, Neptune also has an average temperature of around -328 F (as our hint page revealed). That's even colder than it gets it in NYC, in the midst of a polar vortex — so the Sorel Caribou Reserve Lined Pac Boots were the correct answer.

Four of you got that one and all the other questions correct. Thus, we assigned you each a number and ran these number through the True Random Number Service. The lucky winner? Adam Dewitz. Adam, let us know your size and mailing address, and we'll connect you with your new pair of Neptunians, just in time for summer.

Those of you who came up short, take heart. We'll be announcing a new contest soon.

MB Endorses: Chuck No Show Socks

MB Endorses: Chuck No Show Socks

Have we hit peak talus yet? Not by a longshot. Until we see Marco Rubio hugging a windmill, we expect that exposed ankles will continue to exist as both fashion trend and climate change mitigation strategy. These days, the look is so widespread that even designer no-show socks exist — which, if you think about it, is even more oxymoronic than "clean coal" or "gas-sipping SUV." If people can see that you're wearing Paul Smith no-show socks, your no-show socks are broken!

We first endorsed exposed ankles back in 2008, when the Keeling Curve was still safely in the 380s. Ever since, we've been on an epic quest to find the perfect no-show socks. We've invested countless hours, spent more than a few dollars, and emitted a lot of carbon by commanding Banana Republic, J. Crew, Saks Fifth Avenue, Falke, Urban Outfitters, and Mocc Socks to bring us new specimens by ship, plane, and FedEx truck. But we've finally found a no-show sock we're ready to settle down with: the Converse Chuck Sock.

Why do we love this sock? Three reasons. One, they stay on the best. Two, they're thicker than all other no-show socks, which tend to be nearly as thin as pantyhose. (We don't want no-show pantyhose. We want no-show socks.) Three, they're the cheapest no-show socks we've found. (A few years ago, this wouldn't have mattered to us so much. But now that a significant portion of our clothing budget is devoted to producing clothes rather than buying them, we take advantage of opportunities to economize if they present themselves.)

So there you have it. Our quest for the perfect no-show sock is over. On a related note, however, our quest for the perfect white t-shirt persists. (Sorry, environment!)

POST-SCRIPT: Our contest where you can win a free pair of the spring's best luxury slip-on — the Hydrogen-1 Neptunian — is ending tomorrow (May 15)! Enter now, and make sure to have a pair of Chuck Socks on-hand to immediately celebrate your victory if you're the lucky winner.

MB NFL Draft Guide

1998 Draft: Ignoring the Button Indicator, More GMs Preferred Ryan Leaf Over Peyton Manning
1998 Draft: Ignoring the Button Indicator, More GMs Preferred Ryan Leaf Over Peyton Manning

Forget 40 times, number of bench press reps, Wonderlic test scores, and hours of college tape. If you're an NFL General Manager and still debating between two players at the top of your draft board, let the number of buttons on their jacket be your guide.

Earlier in The Great 2-Button vs. 3-Button Debate:
— Kennedy vs. Nixon
— A Reader Challenge to 2-Button vs. 3-Button

Ask the MB: Any Summer Wedding Ties?

Ask the MB: Any Summer Wedding Ties?

Q: Hey guys, was wondering if there's a new tie stock coming to the shop? Something for the in-coming wedding season.

Also Allen Edmonds is now offering made-to-order golf-soles on some of their shoes if you wanted a golfing McAllister. Thanks.
—D. Holden

A: While our design and procurement processes remain somewhat "artisinal" — i.e., we are still a little too apt to negotiate with Shengzen factory reps when we've spent the afternoon testing Pourcast — we are slowly mastering the dark arts of product development and do indeed have some new things on the way. Including a tie that we believe will work well at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and funerals of those you loved very, very dearly. However, because of the artwork that will be featured on this tie's tipping — see image — we don't recommend wearing it if you're the groom. (Why start your honeymoon with a jealous wife?)

These ties will feature a bold heart-to-sword regimental stripe and are made of raw silk — perfect for spring, summer, and temperate climates throughout the year. The prototypes are done, so they should be in stock within a matter of weeks. Check back often.

Now, on to the golfing McAllisters. If we were stuck in jury duty in a courtroom with enough room to practice our chipping, we would definitely consider these. They are a handsome shoe — but given that we we find ourselves wearing sneakerized footwear even in places where we might have worn lace-up oxford dress shoes (court appearances, board meetings, IRS audits), we can't really imagine wearing lace-up oxfords on fairways, even if they have the sole for it.

Our current favorite golf shoes are these Puma Clydes, which deliver sporty style but maintain a comfortable distance from Ricky Fowler territory. We recommend them in Castlerock. But at the prices you can currently get them at Amazon — approximately $30 to $45 a pair, depending on color and size — you can buy a different color for every day of the week and still spend less than you would on a single pair of the the McAllisters.

Related: Top 7 Ways to Golf Like a Total Toolbag

Ask the MB: Gear and Clothing in Las Vegas. Hunter Thompson's Sunglasses.

Ask the MB: Gear and Clothing in Las Vegas. Hunter Thompson's Sunglasses.

Q: Hi. In the Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge, what kind of sunglasses is Hunter S. Thompson wearing? Thanks!
—MP

As you may know, the portrait of Hunter Thompson that we used in our Eyewear Challenge comes from the cover of his 1979 collection of magazine reportage, The Great Shark Hunt. So that's one place you can get a "copy" of those sunglasses, but it can be pretty expensive — a signed version is currently on sale at Ebay for $5000. Also, it would be hard to wear.

Luckily, the sunglasses themselves — the "Davos" model, produced by the German company Rodenstock from 1974 to 1979 — can be had more cheaply. Here, for example, is a mint-condition pair, complete with what looks to be an alligator leather carrying case, for $240 plus shipping.

Our advice for you? We'll quote HST himself: "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Wherever those glasses take you, we suspect there'll be no looking back once you put them on.

(UPDATE: Our correspondent quickly took our advice and snapped up these sunglasses. Thus, the preceding link now routes you to a cached page.)

Ask the MB: A Leather Laptop Bag That's Suitable for Travel

Ask the MB: A Leather Laptop Bag That's Suitable for Travel

Q: First off - thanks a lot for all the tips!! Great stuff!!

I am out hunting for a great laptop bag in the under-$500 region. I really like the looks of the Billykirk schoolboy satchel, but it doesn't serve my purpose since I fly a lot for work, and the lack of any zippers and additional pockets makes it painful. Could you provide me with a few MB recommendations for a laptop (13 inch laptop and an iPad) bag which is also utility focused (a couple of zippered pockets, no belt buckles - takes too long at the airport, has a strap to attach to a stroller handle). Also I would like it to be sleek (I don't care for laptop padding - don't like the bulk) and would prefer it not being made with nylon. I wear open collar suits to work and am 26, so I would prefer it not being too college like but also not something my dad would use.

I know its a lot of requirements. Is there anything out there?
—TJ

A: If there's one domain where a senseless lack of utility loses a little bit of its gravitational pull on our hearts, it's airports. Translation: Sure, we get that you need fewer buckles and more pockets than the Schoolboy has to offer when, say, you're trying to make a connection at O'Hare.

For business travel luggage, we like Mandarina Duck. Much of its product incorporates nylon and other synthetics — but note that we're talking Italian synthetics here, and "avant-garde" synthetics at that.

For your purposes, we're going to point you toward the Sistema Workbag. A mix of leather, cotton, and polyurethane, it's as functional as it is sleek — lightweight, compact, but spacious enough for your electronics, with a suitably sub-divided main compartment and an exterior pocket as well.

Taking its aesthetic cues from 80s-era post-modern design, it has nary a whiff of the Ivy League or Dad's study about it. But it will continue to deliver timeless on-the-go style in today's airports, tomorrow's airports, and probably in whatever the 22nd century's architects dream up too.

At only $219, it's well under your price range — but that just mean you'll have more to spend on drinks and car service on your next trip.

Earlier: Ask the MB: Leather Bag for 21-Year-Old's Birthday

Win a Pair of Hydrogen-1 'Neptunian' Slip-Ons

Win a Pair of Hydrogen-1 'Neptunian' Slip-Ons

We filed our taxes. The Timberwolves' season is mercifully over. And the days are getting long enough to golf until 8:15 (if our country club wasn't covered in 2 inches of fresh snow). Life is good (except for the part about snow), so we’re having a contest.

This time we're teaming with our favorite supplier of casualuxe footwear: Hydrogen-1. Take our latest quiz, and you may win a pair of limited-edition "Neptunians" — aka the striking suede slip-ons pictured above.

If you're wondering, their rich hue is officially known as "Capri blue," after the waters that surround the Italian island whose beaches are so desirable it was attracting tourists even before cruise ships were invented. (Roman emperor Augustus had a summer palace there.)

The Neptunians are manufactured in Italy, in the Le Marche region, where four out of every ten residents are employed in the footwear industry and the other six know an awful lot about elasticized gores and textured toe-foxing. The Neptunians feature blue suede leather, a full leather lining, and a vibe that practically guarantees sunny skies overhead and competent bartenders near at hand. Retail price, $355. But one of you people is going to get a pair for free.

Here's how this works.

1) Take the quiz. The deadline to submit is 11:59 PM CST on May 15.

2) Everyone who scores 100 percent on the quiz and tweets the link will be entered into a drawing we'll hold the week after the contest closes. Winner gets the Neptunians. (Note: These shoes come in whole sizes 7 – 12. If your feet are bigger than that and you win, you will have to cut off your toes.)

3) We'll announce the lucky winner, and share this information with Hero Nakatani, the proprietor of Hydrogen-1. Hero will take it from there, providing you with instructions on how to order your shoes.



HINTS

1) http://hydrogen-1.com/collections/le-summer-2014/products/neptunium
2) http://www.universetoday.com/21669/temperature-of-neptune/
3) http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/240-contempt-the-story-of-a-marriage
4. http://hydrogen-1.com/collections/le-summer-2014

Challenge the MB: 3-Button vs. 2-Button Suit Jackets and Blazers

Challenge the MB: 3-Button vs. 2-Button Suit Jackets and Blazers

First I must say I am a great fan of your writing, and I am delighted to find you back.

With that said, I feel compelled to respond to your 3-button / 2-button post of February 18, 2014. I must politely disagree with your conclusion that the 2-button suit shows more class than 3-button.

If you scroll down the Kennedy-Nixon photo in your post so that only the suits are seen (removing the influence of the photogenic Kennedy and the smarmy Nixon), I think it is undeniable that the 3-button suit is more likely to belong to a higher-status individual than the 2-button. Nixon's 3-button could easily be a bank president, while Kennedy's 2-button (with Kennedy removed) could just as easily be the owner of a car dealership or the president of the local Rotary. Replace Kennedy's pocket square with a couple of cigars and you have Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack. Not so with the 3-button.

For the record, I am a committed 2-button man. It suits my build, I like the look, and I feel like James Bond when I'm fitted out in a British-silhouette 2-button. The 3-button has always reminded me of a lab coat. These personal distinctions may result from my early 1960s childhood, when the young and fashionable sported 2-buttons (such as Kennedy, later the Rat Pack) and old men and fuddy-duddies the 3s. But that was BF for me (Before Fussell, who, by the way, I have MB to thank for introducing me), and now I notice and interpret things differently. While I am not arguing Fussell's infallibility, I think the 'proleness' of the 2-button is evident in the way the V broadens the shoulders in the same way as (Fussell points out) do epaulettes, emphasizing strength and, thereby, physical labor. The 3-button wearer in the photo appears never to have done a day of physical labor in his life, and I believe that is the intent.

Even your example of Todd Palin works against your argument, I think: Palin is a physical laborer and could model a 2-button to advantage, yet he dresses (or is being styled) to appear higher-classed. (Forget Ahmadinejad, of course; he looks like he gets his clothes at a rummage sale.)

I am glad to finally get this off my mind, as I had been dwelling on it (and particularly because I had learned about Fussell through your site and have been greatly influenced by him). I have also long intended to write to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. And I absolutely love the new logo. Keep up the great work!
—Paul

A: We welcome reasoned dissent from our readers and it's clear you've given this topic a lot of consideration — we especially admire how you use Fussell's observations regarding epaulettes against us! That hurts. But to continue the discourse, here is a thought: If a 2-button jacket is working correctly, it doesn't merely broaden the shoulders (as we agree epaulettes do). It reinforces the overall V-shape of one's torso, which is to say, it broadens the shoulders while narrowing the waist.

The sort of hard labor that creates this shape, in our experience, is many hours at the gym, many hours in the pool, or perhaps if you have very good genes and disciplined eating habits, many hours on fairways or polo fields. It is a look, in short, that comes from (moneyed) recreation rather than full-time bricklaying or ditch-digging, which tends to create a thicker, lumpier, less elongated look.

As for Todd Palin, we agree with your analysis — he no doubt turns to 3-button suits because Frank Luntz (or some other top-notch GOP campaign consultant) has determined through extensive focus-group testing that small-town conservatives of a certain age equate 3-button jackets with bankers, brokers, and other corporate nine-to-fivers maintaining the lower rungs of the top quintile.

But who, other than Todd Palin's wife, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie want to win that vote? Not us, and not you! As we think Fussell would agree, there's a difference between what a prole thinks an upper looks like, and what an upper looks like. In this case, the difference is as subtle as a single button. But as you have found out from your own experience, that single button (or lack of it) makes all the difference in the world. Keep wearing 2-button jackets, and keep challenging us to think more deeply about the choices we make. We appreciate the feedback!

New MB Feature: Craft Beer Name Generator

The culprit that started the craft beer craze.
The culprit that started the craft beer craze.

Yesterday was National Beer Day. In recent years, National Beer Day has grown as commercialized as Christmas, with all sorts of promotions, festivals, and special offers attached to it. But we prefer to celebrate it in the traditional manner, like our grandfathers would have celebrated it had it not been invented in 2009 on Facebook: By drinking Grain Belts from dawn, urinating prolifically, and complaining about progress.

Around the fourth or fifth pitcher, our conversation focused on the current state of craft brewing in the U.S., which, to our palates, has essentially devolved into the current state of craft marketing. There are nearly 2500 craft breweries in the U.S. now — an increase of more than 1000 in under a decade. And we fear that all this rapid growth has led to a craft brewing bubble, a gold rush of sorts, with more and more "brewers" looking to cash in on the craze by slapping a silly name onto the same overly-hopped plonk.

Indeed, we think some of these places spend more time crafting authentic, artisanal-sounding names than they do crafting beer.

We continued to grumble about this for awhile, but then we remembered our no-nonsense, can-do grandfathers. And we thought to ourselves: Would they have just complained about this? Or would they have taken steps to make the situation better, by building a Javascript app that automatically generates craft beer names by combining flavorings, yoga poses, and beer types, so brewers can spend less time marketing and more time actually brewing quality beer?

Clearly, it was the latter. So that's what we did too. Today, in honor of our grandfathers, we give you the MB Craft Beer Name Generator.

This isn't the web's first Craft Beer Name Generator, but we believe it's the best due to our proprietary brewing recipe: take a flavoring or preparation technique, add a yoga pose or bicycle part, and finish with a beer type. So, in an instant craft breweries can achieve memorable, brandable names and focus instead on making actual beer, instead of vats of isomerized alpha acid. A few examples:

Dried Apricot Crankset Dunkelweizen
Jalapeño Crescent Moon Pumpkin Ale
Fire-Roasted Crane Pose Blonde Ale
Multigrain Half Frog ESB
Lemongrass Rearview Mirror Witbier

Try it for yourself, and let us know what you think.

Ask the MB: Penny Loafers

Top: Original Weejuns. Bottom: Ferragamo Twist
Top: Original Weejuns. Bottom: Ferragamo Twist

Q: I'm getting some Penny Loafers. Which would the MB stand behind? These Rancourt & Co. Beefrolls, these Prada, or these Allen Edmonds? I like the Pradas the best, but you know, they're $650.
—Zach

A: As you probably know, George Henry Bass created the original penny loafer, aka the Bass Weejun, in 1936. Since you haven't included the Weejun as one of your potential choices, we assume you're hoping to find a shoe that puts a twist on this menswear staple. That's a good instinct, but to our eye, your choices are still a little too Old Footwear — even the Prada with its "high-shine leather" and the stylized orifice of its penny keeper still looks fairly traditional.

So we think you should double down on your seeming desire for a twist and go for something even more different than the archetypal penny loafer. While we aren't huge penny loafer fans, there are some things about them that appeal to us. Namely, no laces and no buckles. They are, at heart, a casual shoe, and perfect for those tough mornings-after when a shoe with laces just feels too complicated to operate — you don't even need hands to put on a pair of penny loafers.

Thus, when you're looking for a twist, we encourage you to focus on the "loafing" aspect of penny loafers. The thick crepe sole on this pair of penny loafers from our friends at Oak Street Bootmakers make us want to nestle into a bean bag while our old lady refills our hash pipe. And these sneakerized penny loafers from Salvatore Ferragamo look both comfortable enough to get a heart surgeon through a 12-hour transplant and yet simultaneously sporty enough to propel us to a relatively painless six-minute mile.

The Winner of the 4th-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge Is…

The Winner of the 4th-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge Is…

Here are the correct answers to the challenge:

1. Harry Truman
2. Winston Churchill
3. Johnny Depp
4. William Faulkner
5. Clark Gable
6. Dean Martin
7. Hunter S. Thompson
8. Humphrey Bogart
9. Franklin Roosevelt

Many of you scored 100 percent — nice work! But of course there was the tiebreaker question too, and that was, by design, somewhat difficult. Namely: What do these nine men have in common? No, they are not all Freemasons, and no, they are not all dead, although Johnny Depp does fall victim to an annual death hoax. One entry did correctly note that they are all white. But the answer we were looking for is that whiskey was/is their preferred poison, either drunk straight or as the main spirit in their favorite cocktail. Of course, bourbon is the main spirit in our favorite cocktail, The Magnificent Bastard.

Only two entrants got this correct: Andrew Klein and Maxwell Bernt. Because there can only be one winner, we needed a tiebreaker tiebreaker. So we flipped a coin. Andrew was heads and Maxwell was tails. And the winner is...

Maxwell Bernt

Enjoy your new pair of Allyn Scura frames. We recommend The Legend or The Sergio &mdash. Or perhaps put your $125 credit towards these new old stock Graceline Optical Darrens in demi-amber. It's your choice.

And, Andrew, while fate was not on your side in the tiebreaker tiebreaker, we'd still like to offer you a consolation prize in the form of a tie. Tell us which of our ties you'd like, and we'll send one out to you.

Thanks to everyone who played and we'll see you again next year.

New MB Feature: Pourcast

New MB Feature: Pourcast

Traditional weather reports are good as far as they go. But if you're in the midst of a killer heat wave, or a tornado is headed your way, you don't just want to know the current temperature or what the wind chill factor is. You want more information. Like what geographically relevant cocktail to drink. And that's what Pourcast provides. You're welcome.

You can't just create an app like this with coding. It took some traveling. And many all-night bouts of cocktailing. In the midst of our development efforts, we started experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome from all the repetitive glass-lifting we were doing. So there are still improvements to make. But we think this is a good first pass at pairing the proper cocktail with your location's temperature, cloud cover, and precipitation.

Pourcast defaults to Minneapolis. But you can use it for any city on earth (including places where alcohol consumption is illegal, so watch your step). Here, for example, are a flight of cities that start with "P" expertly matched with cocktails that complement the weather conditions that were in effect when we made this chart.

Paris
68° Partly Cloudy

Martinez
Poughkeepsie
43° Sunny

Whiskey Manhattan
Pyongyang
55° Clear

Boulevardier
Pago Pago
82° Partly Cloudy

Pimm's Cup
Prague
61° Partly Cloudy

Negroni

So give it a try. When a drink is recommended, click on the link for the recipe.

We're looking for feedback, so please drop a line to editor@magnificentbastard.com with any issues or suggestions.

Ask the MB: Spring Blue Blazer

Ask the MB: Spring Blue Blazer

Q: MB, ran across this while waiting for a cut this morning. Got me thinking of getting a spring blazer. Love the blazer and the look. Found this at J. Crew this afternoon.

2.5" lapels but it's only $171 this week with a 25% discount. Lapels too narrow?
—Eric

A: Are you trolling us? On the very day we lament the unfortunate Ludlowization of the suit market, you send us a link to a J. Crew blazer that bears the mark of the beast!

For the most part, we think you are showing the right instincts. An unconstructed, patch-pocketed blue blazer is an essential item in any man's wardrobe. And we like the cut and color of Brûlé's blazer, even if we're somewhat wary that it violates our prohibition against garments where linen retains a majority ownership stake in the blend.

But you already seem to know one of the big problems with that J. Crew blazer. Its lapels are so skinny they could have served as Matthew McConaughey's body double in Dallas Buyer's Club. We're also not crazy about its tint. The blue of Brûlé's jacket has a natural organic depth to it. The Crew version has a slightly electrified sheen that makes us think of Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell dancing the night away.

The overall impact? Even J. Crew's model is desperately trying to claw his way out of that Ludlow! Look at the poor guy's fingernails.

Our recommendation: Spend a little more than you were perhaps hoping to spend, and get into this blazer from Z Zegna — assuming it's the right size for you. If it's not, keep looking for something with wider lapels and a subtler shading. The gratification you feel when getting a great deal lasts for a moment. The gratification you get from wearing exactly what you want to be wearing lasts much longer.

Ask the MB: Where is the Best Place to Buy a Suit?

This Prada suit costs less than a J. Crew Ludlow
This Prada suit costs less than a J. Crew Ludlow

Q: Where is the best place to get a men's suit? Budget is 1K max.
—Jessica

A: As longtime readers know, our favorite place for suit shopping is yoox.com, a Milan-based e-commerce site. Three days ago, The Telegraph called it "the Amazon of the fashion world."

At Yoox, you will find loads of stylish, Italian-made suits for as cheap as a couple hundred bucks. And here's the best part: the site's vast selection and 100-country reach means that your guy will be the only man within his zip code — or maybe even his time zone — wearing whatever suit you choose.

This is in stark contrast to what we perceive as the Ludlowization of the young, upwardly mobile professional suit market — named after J.Crew's increasingly ubiquitous invasive species. The popularity of the Ludlow eludes us. Why spend $700 on a made-in-China suit with prop buttons and anemic lapels when you can buy Prada, Piombo, or Martin Margiela for less? Pick up one of these, and you'll have more than enough left over to add a tie from our store to your shopping list.

Ask the MB: Pool and Beach Footwear

Ask the MB: Pool and Beach Footwear

Q: Hey MB: Headed to Miami and Key West next week and need footwear for the beach and pool. That sounds easy but I struggle with open-toe and also need arch support. I've tried OluKai, Sanuk, and I am embarrassed to say, Teva. None have worked out. Any ideas?
—John

A: A Google search for "stylish orthopedic closed toe sandals" returns zero results.

But we have a couple of suggestions.

First, try to find a pair of Converse All-Star Chuck It mesh slip-ons on eBay. Arguably Converse's greatest contribution to footwear since the All-Star high-top in 1917, these are our all-time favorite beach/pool shoes. Sporty, light, submersible as a Triton 100, quick-drying, comfortable, and oddly enough, boasting better arch support than the traditional All-Stars provide. Unfortunately, Converse hasn't produced them since 2010, which is why you'll have to hunt for new old stock on eBay.

Second, since you're headed to Florida but stressing over arch support, we assume you're not going there for Spring Break — you sound like someone who is probably a little more seasoned than a college student, and presumably a little more well-heeled (and simultaneously weak-arched). So we think you probably have the means to invest in these Prada espadrille sneakers. While you won't be able to swim in them, they've got an insert, so are far more comfortable than most espadrilles that are set on a flat jute slab. And they will give you all the support your arches need no matter how heated things get on the shuffleboard court. Enjoy your vacation!

Glenn Beck's Scarlet Shame

Glenn Beck's Scarlet Shame

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.

Like Jay-Z, Snoop Lion, and many others before him, the professional socialist hunter has diversified into clothing design. His apparel company, the 1791 Supply Co., features t-shirts, polo shirts, caps, DIY quilts, old-timey patches, and selvedge jeans using denim from Cone Mills. Thanks to Beck's efforts, Red State America can now purchase a special edition axe or a small-batch made-in-Portland notebook without ever having to step into a Williamsburg dry goods store.

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.

POURCAST

BETA

Aviation

  • 2 oz Plymouth gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/8 oz crème de violette

Lightly shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lemon twist.


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