Not sure if you should wear that Tommy Bahama shirt out tonight? The magnificent bastard is here to help. Go ahead. Ask away.
Bootcut jeans. Going the way of Crocs?
Q: Bootcut jeans these days are nose-diving on the stylishness scale. Sources ranging from GQ to random style bloggers now treat bootcut jeans like they're the next shiny square-toed shoes. Why is this? When did this happen? It's frustrating because straight jeans are too tapered to fall properly around any shoe. Unless you get a size that's too short, they just bunch up at the ankle and look sloppy. As a result (and the only way to alleviate this sloppiness), we've got the fashion industry telling us that it's also a great look to roll up our pants legs, because, as we all know, men want to emulate the bastardly Huck Finn and the magnificent Opie Taylor. Please, enlighten us.
James, we don't know what happened to bootcut denim but we haven't worn a pair of bootcut jeans in a very, very long time. In fact, we were wondering if one could even buy a pair anymore and did a quick inventory of well-known retailers and their bootcut denim stock.
||# of Jeans
||# of Bootcut Jeans
|Saks Fifth Avenue
Among these retailers, Barney's is the most forward-looking, so this data predicts that in a year or two wearing bootcut denim might exceed shiny square-toed shoes in unstylishness, and perhaps even become the equivalent of wearing Crocs.
As for your bunching dilemma, a proper straight jean is not tapered below the knee. Hence the name. If it is, then it loses it claim on the name and becomes a skinny or slim jean. We encourage you to avoid those as much (well, almost as much) as you avoid bootcut jeans.
If you're looking for a good straight leg jean, our all-time favorite fit is Adriano Goldschmeid's Protege
. 17.5" at the knee, 17.5" at the leg opening. Perfect. Cut to the proper length, these won't bunch.
In spite of there still being snow on the ground here, white jeans season in nearly upon us, and we strongly endorse getting into a pair (or two). The guiding purchasing principle? Let the white denim do the talking (as it's already talking pretty loudly). In other words, no funky cuts, no colored rivets, no contrast stitching, no distressing. Or as Suprametist artist Kazimir Malevich would say: "Just white jeans." Here are a few of our favorites this season.
||7 for All Mankind Austyn Straight Leg Jeans
A 34" inseam, which is good for taller MBs, and a slightly wider leg opening (18") for those wanting to stay clear from any "skinny" association. The pocket logo can be removed in seconds.
You can get 20% off this pair with discount code BASTARD20, making them $135.20.
||Adriano Goldschmied Protege Jeans
These jeans, along with a fine pair of stems, graced the MB masthead when this site launched nearly four years ago. They're great white jeans. Unfortunately this season's inseam measures only 32.5", so they will signal a flood in our office, but may work for you.
||Citizens of Humanity 'Sid' Straight Leg Jeans
Long inseam (34.5") and fairly narrow leg opening (17") create slim, not skinny look.
||Alexander McQueen White Selvage Jeans
Alexander McQueen committed suicide just over a year ago, and design was taken over by Sarah Burton, who we dare say is at least as good, if not better than the brand's deceased namesake.
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.
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 DENIM: Use our how to determine what brand of jeans to wear chart to guide your purchase. You want something slim (not skinny). For years we've been under the spell of AG, which magically makes your ass look good. Start there.
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.)
Q: Definitely digging the new header. The holidays are a wonderful time for MBs to do what they do. Alas, the sweater featured on the model in the header is intriguing. Details?
A: Let's get all the header questions out of the way at once:
SWEATER: Heirloom fisherman-knit cardigan, hand-woven in wool by Jean Cooke in Killarney, Ireland
SHIRT: John Varvatos
DENIM: Adriano Goldschmied ("Protege" fit)
SOCKS: Paul Smith
BOOTS: TST (available at YOOX)
CHAIR: Vagabond Vintage
RUG: IKEA Koldby
HOUSE: 1936 colonial
BOW: Michaels (in Green Bay)
WOMAN: 100% Wisconsin, born and bred
Q: What color socks should I wear with my white TST sneakers and dark-blue AG jeans? What's the underlying principle here?
A: John, you've got superb taste.
Where we're from, white sneakers are on about the same wearing calendar as white pants -- Pulaski road slush really does a number on them -- which means the weather almost always calls for exposed ankles with this shoe-pant combo. But don't spare the socks. Even encased in stylish Japanese sneakers, feet without socks stink worse than Van Halen without David Lee Roth.
We've worn these for years and therefore highly recommend Banana Republic no-show loafer socks. They're now discounted so if you buy 3 or more pair they're just $5.43 each. (Choose white for this use, of course.) Another option (that we haven't tried) is young entrepreneur Philip Bunting's Mocc Sock & Co.'s version (pictured), which also come in gray and are only slightly more expensive than BR.
Until recently we could safely say that jorts were the worst thing to happen to summer since domed baseball stadiums. Then, someone invented dorts -- designer jean shorts. As the weather gets hotter, they're showing up everywhere -- just like mosquitos. Consider these things carriers of a deadly neuroinvasive style virus and repel at all costs.
Wear these dorts if you want people to think you robbed a midget hipster's cuffed jeans.
Bloomingdale's teaches us a shrewd retailer's trick. If your stock of medium wash AGs don't sell at $129.50, cut off their legs and charge more!
Have you heard the one about the doctor who removed a patient's perfectly functioning lung while leaving the cancerous one in place? This is the jeans version of that. The least offensive part of these things -- the legs -- have been amputated. The hideous malignant pockets are left intact. Who are the quacks in charge of pants surgery at Antik? They should be sued for malpractice.
via Neiman Marcus. $172.00.
Q: I read your article about shorts at night and wanted present a more specific scenario. You said, "Wearing shorts after dark is strictly for college boys and parking valets." However, I live on an island (Galveston, TX) where local culture seems to allow shorts at any time and nearly any place. Would shorts after dark be MB-approved in this situation?
A: Sure, you can wear shorts after dark in Galveston, but only if you're planning to make an appearance on COPS. If you are, we also recommend ditching your shirt and your teeth too, to complete the outfit. If a COPS cameo is not in the cards, get to know lightweight denim like this AG version; they will change the way you think about jeans. Just don't pair with those boots.
via AG. $156.00.
It's May Day, which means it's time to break out the white jeans (even if at our Pulaski, WI offices it's barely 60 degrees). We've had a few and we always come back to the Adriano Goldschmied version in the "Protege" fit. They're worn in this early MB header photo. Women's legs draped over yours not included, but highly recommended nevertheless.
Q: Dear MB: Over the past several months, I've come to trust your sense of style and taste. I'm curious to know if the MB is up for the challenge of applying your gift of knowing what's right and wrong in the world of style to the opposite sex. I'm facing my 20-year high school reunion this summer, which will be held at an upscale downtown drinking establishment (no VFW for this group). I'm tall (5'9") and thin in a healthy way. I want an ensemble that conveys success and looks good with a Tanqueray and tonic in hand, and doesn't scream Stepford wife or "I'm a suburban mom of two" (which I am). Do you think you can help?
Of course, dear.
Before we get to our outfit suggestions, a couple of important MB Class Reunion Principles to follow:
#1. Principle of Looking Like You Don't Give a Shit. Try looking like you don't take this event too seriously, like you and your husband were out for a casual dinner or gallery opening and then you thought, "Geez, isn't tonight my 20th class reunion?"
#2. Principle of Investing in Your Wardrobe. Don't waste a penny of precious clothing budget on something like a cocktail dress that you'll wear once. Class reunions are chock full of anticlimax. Splurge, but only on something that will likely be in style at the 30th.
And now on to the recommendations:
Pants: Denim, for sure. Not too tight, with a wide opening to allow the ballet flats (below) just enough room to peek out. For women we're partial to AG (pictured, $82.00 -- on sale) and Hudson, but denim is personal so go with whatever fits you best and makes you feel good.
Top: Something simple and updated, like this Vince sheer jersey tee. $48.00, via Barney's Co-Op. Cap sleeves will increase the already heightened drama of your long appendages.
Footwear: Ballet flats, of course. Consider making your shoes your statement piece (only one allowed per outfit), like these faux snakeskin lowcuts from London Sole ($155.00). Suitable for dancing.
Handbag: Pay tribute to one of the all-time greats (and simultaneously keep it casual) with this Yves Saint Laurent brown pebbled messenger bag. $632.00, via bluefly. There might even be room for a diaper and wipes in there.
Outerwear: What if it rains? Or if the event makes its way outside? Let Rag & Bone protect you from the elements, evening chill, and small talk with their Mac Trench. $585.00, via shopbop.
Accessories: Wow that wedding band of yours is serious business. Communicate your fun side -- you read this site after all -- with something whimsical (and affordable) like this blue lucite bracelet with cameo. $14.99, via Target.
Have fun and let us know how it goes.
via AG. $325.00.
Q: I am an aspiring MB. I do my best to adhere to your teachings. I ran into some trouble the other day while shopping for a new pair of jeans. I was at Nordstrom, going from section to section looking for a good pair, I inquired with the clerk what jeans would work best for my build (tall slim). The problem came when I realized I didn't like any of the jeans. Every pair was distressed and creased, they looked like they had all been pulled form fire at the Levi's factory. Now mind you I don't mind a little fad to the color, or even a tasteful fringe. But I feel like designers are just going overboard with this distressed thing. I feel like it's gone the way of the skull. (I figure if you see Hulk Hogan in it, it is non-MB) Anyway I left the store without buying anything. I settled on nice pair of slightly faded black Von Dutch. What is the MB stance on distressed? Is it done?
A: Well, it's not done according to AG, who's selling a "25 Year" jean for $325. We've never been a fan of distressed because it's unauthentic, like fake boobs. Wear your favorite pair of AGs for a few years and they'll be distressed, and real.
via AG. $182.00.
Regular readers know we're really high on Adriano Goldschmied jeans for men. As much as they may make dudes' asses magically look good, they make the female form look even better, as witnessed by his four new wide-leg styles. Girls, if ya'll 'r readin' this, get into a pair of these.
Q: White jeans? Alright for a straight man to wear? If so, is there a specific time of the year they are acceptable?
A: Short answers: Yes. Of course. Not really.
We don't know where the notion that only gay men can wear white jeans came from, but we don't like it one bit. They're a required item in any Magnificent Bastard's closet. White jeans, a cool tee or polo, and non-plastic sandals or flip-flops ... that's rocking the shit no matter if MB prefers dudes or chicks.
Regarding timing, old school says Memorial Day to Labor Day. In this case, old school is wrong. It takes a certain degree of confidence and "I don't care what anyone thinks" mentality (MBs have both of these in spades), but even if you're not a rock-n-roller you can wear white jeans to a May Day parade and to the final regular season MLB baseball game. Check your favorite team's schedule.
(Incidentally, the jeans pictured are AG Protege fit. They're Tony the Tiger great. Available only in stores.)
via Tobi. $69.00.
A few weeks ago we marveled at how AG jeans magically make your ass look good.
Well, over the weekend, MB staffers uncovered a stash of some of AG's best stuff, on deep discount at Tobi. The ultra-thin denim is best-suited for (next) summer, but the price can't be beat.
via Costco. $124.99.
It's true. We're not sure what kind of magic Adriano Goldschmied works, but even if you're not working out to the "Buns of Steel" DVD, his jeans make your ass look way better than it really is. Available at discount at Costco, and deep discount at the Bergdorf Goodman summer '07 blowout.