Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio are going to have to take a lot more trans-oceanic plane trips before they manage to put a dent in the bone-bruising chill that greets us every morning in Minneapolis this time of year. But while there's nothing we can do to avoid the snow, sleet, and ice, we can avoid the even-worse-than-usual traffic and parking-space hunts that come with them. How? By continuing to ride our bikes to work, even in the face of sub-zero temperatures.
How do we pull this off without looking like we're about to engage in some heavy breathing with a couple of broad-shouldered Scandinavian beauties at the Winsport Olympic Luge Track? We lay out our strategy below.
2. Nannini "TT" Goggles. Made for motorcyclists but adopted by cyclists looking for a stylish way to keep your eyelids from freezing shut.
TORSO & LEGS
3. Smartwool Baselayer underneath a 8 Wool Turtleneck. A baselayer under a jacket is all we usually need in anything above 10°F but it was -6°F this morning so we layered with a wool turtleneck. 8 makes a stylish one, with value.
4. Love Moschino Long Down Puffer. Down blazer-style jackets and some days even down shirts work for Minneapolis winter commuting. But not this neo-Polar Vortex shit. At anything below 0°F we pull out the long down puffer. Jack Frost may nip at your nose, but first he nips at your toes, then, surprisingly, your ass. Having goose feather coverage back there helps prevent his bite.
5. Smartwool Baselayer underneath Naked and Famous Snowpant Denim. Naked and Famous is responsible for some of the most important innovations in the history of denim, like scratch and sniff raspberry scented jeans. But their all-time best effort is the discontinued Snowpant Denim, a deep indigo wash treated with a waterproof and wind-resistant coating, and lined in comfy fleece. Look for them on eBay and try to grab them before we do.
6. Wigens Bear Claw Gloves The synthetic lobster claw gloves you see most winter commuters wearing are neither a warmth nor a dexterity match for these Swedish leather and fur marvels. Unfortunately Wigens seems to have stopped making them. Set up an eBay alert.
Minnesota-based 45NRTH makes the popular Wölvhammer commuter boot, but they're nearly as heavy as a pair of Pacs, only rated to 0°F, and don't abide by our un-gear aesthetic. After several years of trial and error we've concocted a 4-step footwear solution that's fairly lightweight and can hold up to a 45 minute commute at -20°F.
Darn Tough Hunting Socks. Not all wool socks are created equal. We've tried a dozen different brands and Darn Tough are the best. Made in Vermont.
With the Cardinals 3-0 win over the Cubs on April 2nd, white pants season officially started. For us they're already on a rotation heavier than a starting pitcher, and with a life expectancy about as long as a doubleheader, we're always looking to stock the bullpen.
Three strikes and we're out?
Yes. But let us first present the MB Deal of the Week: Brooklyn Tailors White Denim Pants. Originally $205, marked down to $69, and now just $34.50 (+ free shipping) these pants are made in BkT's Kathmandu, Nepal factory, where they're usually busy making suits and dress shirts. So we expect a more tailored construction, and paired with the countervailing force of denim, a switch-hitting pant we can wear to both the office and a matinee.
In reality, Kanye West is a reported 5' 8", i.e. just a tiny bit shorter than the average U.S. male. And yet despite his statistically confirmed averageness, West, who appears on the cover of the August GQ, is also a rare example of a celebrity who apparently aspires to be smaller than life. Over the last five years, we've watched in puzzlement as he has shown an increasing attachment to an extreme form of sartorial foreshortening. The deadly combo?
* Tshirts that cover more leg than any dress in Miley Cyrus's wardrobe.
* A "bunched" pants aesthetic that should be left to Sharpeis.
Decreasing the apparent length of your legs from both above and below frequently results in a highly identifiable visual brand — as both the Oompa Loompas and Mr. Magoo can attest. But while it works for them, are these really the role models Yeezy wants to emulate? Unless you are a grotesquely adorable cartoon character, we discourage this method of dress.
See the full-size, shrunken-down Kanye West from the August 2014 GQhere.
Q: This winter will be my first time hitting the ski slopes since pursuing the MB lifestyle. What do you recommend I wear to look good and stay warm without looking like a Spyder Toolbag?
Q: Great to have you back! I checked out your ski channel, and while I liked the suggestions, (especially the pants), I'm unable to locate a pair in my size. That was back in 2011, any chance on getting an updated recommendation for a full ski outfit?
A: We keep things really simple when we hit the slopes, using, for the most part, what we normally wear in winter. (See earlier post on the matter.) There's no reason to get into a special synthetic sports uniform — see "Spyder Toolbag" look — unless there's a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract involved.
Here are some suggestions from bottom to top:
Naked and Famous throws a lot of denim against the wall and some of it — like our highly-recommended Snowpant Denim — unfortunately doesn't stick. (These were nearly 60% off at Neiman Marcus and still took over a year to sell out.)
We contacted N&F and there are no plans to make more. However, Tate and Yoko have 29 and 30 in stock, and there are always a few pairs floating around on eBay and about half the price. Set up an alert.
UNDERLAYER Smartwool Merino next-to-skin. This works for winter biking, snowshoeing, football game watching, or just sitting by the fire.
SWEATER Cashmere turtleneck from 8. No, this is not Brunello Cucinelli cashmere. But we believe 8 to be the best cashmere value in the world.
They cost nearly as much as a Vail lift ticket, but if Moncler is good enough for Italians scaling K2 (pictured), it's good enough for us to scale the St. Regis bar at the top of Deer Valley. But any down puffy jacket will do, and if you want to keep it stylishly Italian and starting with the letter M, YOOX always has great deals on Montecore, Moschino, Martin Margiela, and Museum.
Cashmere hat with a pom. (Similar to pictured.)
SUNGLASSES Vintage Carrera 5425s in tortoise, from Allyn Scura, the official eyewear provider to Magnificent Bastard, and the film American Hustle (opening nationwide on Friday).
Q: Can you please help Mitt Romney with his light colored dad jeans? Thanks. —Larry
A: Late last year Esquire suggested Romney was wearing the light-wash Obama Fit denim (left) to connect with Iowa farmers — not to mention Iowa's jean-wearing moms — which got us wondering: Is Mitt Romney the first presidential candidate to not only say anything to get elected, but also wear anything to get elected?
Apparently not, as he campaigned in New Hampshire in early January in the Iowa Jeans, but then abruptly abandoned his mom jean-wearing principles after withering ridicule, including a mom-jean cartoon from the Los Angeles Times' David Horsey, and adopted a more fitted, lower-rise, faux-distressed look, as shown at a campaign stop in Boise on Friday (right).
Q: We're coming up on ski season quickly. What would an MB full ski outfit look like? And yes I mean ski since an MB would not snowboard. —Alex
A: Alex, you are correct. We do not snowboard. In fact we actually limit our ski vacations to Mad River Glen in Vermont and Deer Valley and Alta in Utah. These are the three remaining resorts in the United States that have rightfully banned this boarding horde of mogul-flattening teens. Do not mess with the bumps.
As for the ski outfit, we keep it very simple with stuff we already have in our regular winter rotation, like a puffy coat that hits at the waist, a cashmere hat with a pom, and leather stars-n-stripes "Captain Freedom" gloves. Where we venture outward is on the pants. Naked and Famous has created the coolest ski pants ever, the Slim Guy Snow Pant Jeans. They fit and look like denim but are lined, waterproof, windproof, and have have vented cuffs to fit over your ski boots.
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: 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.)
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.)
As designers continue to strip-mine the past for Depression-era chambray workshirts, the reactionary chic of sixties-era Ivy Leaguers who refused to turn in their madras for tie-dye, and even that 1980s JC Penney staple, the block stripe rugby, how come we see so little "1970s heritage wear"?
We doubt that's what Dsquared2's actually calling this magnificent blazer, but we see a canny, streamlined nod to the leisure suits of yore in this piece, and we like what we see. The contrast stitching, the way the oversized pockets perfectly echo the oversized lapel -- this thing isn't built for the ages but if you want to make a statement now amidst a forest of anemic lapels, this is your jacket of choice. Be prepared to put your money where your mouth is though. Even on sale, it's going to cost you a little over a grand.
3 oz bourbon
3/4 oz sweet vermouth, preferably Dolin
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a Luxardo maraschino cherry.