Not sure if you should wear that Tommy Bahama shirt out tonight? The magnificent bastard is here to help. Go ahead. Ask away.
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
via zappos.com. $74.20.
Q: What the hell is slub?
A: Slub is a thick, irregular place in yarn or fabric, and definitely adheres to the MB principles of artful dishevelment and none-too-neat. Unfortunately everyone has jumped on the slub bandwagon -- we've even seen it on MLB attire -- so it's headed post-peak and suspect savvy designers will completely abandon it for 2011. If you own it, wear it now while you still can.
via johnvarvatos.com. $68.00.
For a few years now skulls have been seen only from the toolbag ghetto of designer fashion: Ed Hardy, Monarchy, Affliction, or any other brand The Situation wears. But this fall John Varvatos (one of our faves, BTW) is showing a skull tee (albeit without flames) and skull jewelry.
In spite of the JV endorsement, pass for another season at least.
Channing Tatum's got the Vans part right
Q: MB, what are your thoughts on airplane attire? Comfortable is a plus, but of course it must be bastardly enough to defy the disturing trend of pajama wearers who have inundated our nation's skies.
A: We agree, today's fliers look like they're ready to either a.) attend a slumber party, or b.) run the 100 meter hurdles. Millions of Americans in tracksuits is probably not the outcome Osama bin Laden had in mind, but in the War on Style, the terrorists have won.
Just a couple of simple rules here: 1.) Wear pants that don't require a belt (no drawstrings or elastic allowed), and 2.) Wear a pair of shoes you can easily slip on and off, like these John Varvatos canvas slip-on loafers or for something more casual, Sperry slip-ons, or Vans.
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.
Thanks for the tip on How to Make it in America, I'm really enjoying it. Any idea where to find a jacket similar to the grey one Ben wears in the first episode?
A: The tip on HTMIIA came from fellow reader Sean Z. The jacket you refer to has a very Varvatos-esque vibe, and he showed up in Episode 2. It will be tough to find anything in herringbone tweed this time of year, but if you're looking for a similar silhouette for spring and have a grand, try this John Varvatos convertible jacket. Neiman Marcus will even throw in free shipping.
Q: I am about to purchase this J. Peterman bag on sale at $298. Do you think it looks MB? It's the 1928 Air Corps Briefcase?
A: In the old days, briefcases were basically desks that you carried around on a leash, and there was a genuine need for all their various compartments, straps, buckles, and such. Now? There's no reason for all that stuff -- they're Snuggies for your laptop. While we typically endorse a senseless lack of utility here, that's not quite the same thing as decor posing as functionality. Unless you're an archaelogist moonlighting as an office supplies salesperson, we say go with something simpler and definitely less shiny, like this messenger bag by John Varvatos.
Ben Epstein, played by Bryan Greenberg
Great new show on HBO from the producers of Entourage. It's called How To Make It In America. Starring Bryan Greenberg, Victor Rasuk, Lake Bell, Kid Cudi and Luis Guzman. It's a modern-day New York version of two twenty-somethings trying to achieve the American Dream. Great style, awesome wardrobes and beautiful cinematography. It's only 3 episodes deep in its first season and it even has a cameo by John Varvatos in the second episode. Worth a watch, Bastards.
via John Varvatos. $298.00.
Q: I like the darker colour of these John Varvatos linen/cotton blend soho pants better than the 100% cotton versions that MB recommended a few months back.
But knowing linen's terrible tendency to wrinkle (these are 53% linen) I'm prevented from clicking the buy button for fear of looking like I've cruelly robbed the trousers straight off the legs of a style-conscious hobo.
No less a figure than H.P. Lovecraft is reputed to have discovered a long forgotten fabric treatment that prevented linen from wrinkling, however the side-effects were horrendous...
So, failing the precise execution of a Lovecraftian material trans-mutation ceremony enacted in the tomb of an Egyptian Pharaoh; 53% linen fabric OK, or not OK?
A: Despite our extreme prejudice against 100% linen, linen blends can work. In general, we prefer that whatever material the linen is being blended with retain at least a 51% ownership stake, so you're tempting fate with those particular pants. But if you're feeling lucky, go for it.
via johnvarvatos.com. $298.00.
$300 for a pair a pants is a lot of bread. However, the John Varvatos Soho pant is worth every penny. You can dress them up or dress them down, and the fit is flattering on MBs tall and short, wide and thin. And here's the best part: you can throw 'em in the wash. Besides your jeans, these will be your favorite pair of pants.
via Bloomingdales. $895.00.
Q: I would hope that you are continuing your search for the perfect peacoat this year. It is a bit early in the season, but have you found any potential candidates? Price is not a factor.
A: Aaron, if you haven't noticed, as a result of the economy, most fall 2009 collections suck pretty hard, and peacoats are no exception. There is one standout, though, and it's this John Varvatos Star USA suede model. A real statement piece. The only bummer is that the collar is faux fur (principle of organic materials).
If $895 is too rich, GQ just published a Best Coats Under $500 piece that's worth checking out.
via bluefly.com. $240.00.
Q: Are Mark Nason boots ok?
A: We've previously weighed in on Mark Nason boots, categorizing them as TTH and a gross violation of the understatement principle. Not to mention, whenever we see someone wearing them they're usually only part of a bigger, more comprehensive toolbag look.
If it's that rocker vibe you need, try the more toned-down style of Rock & Republic. They keep the skulls and other junk on the sole. An even more understated choice that still passes as rock 'n' roll is John Varvatos, and you don't have to worry about keeping your feet off of anyone's desk.
Q: Corduroy pants, yea (suggestions?) or nay?
A: Corduroy pants are staple of any fall wardrobe. Wear with confidence. Except, of course, for cordarounds. Here are three brands we've worn the cord right off:
Top: John Varvatos. Unfortunately these are a little difficult to find at the moment, but worth the search. Try eBay.
Middle: Barney's Co-Op. Barney's Co-Op house brand stuff is really good and these five-pocket cords are totally worth $125.
Bottom: Banana Republic. This isn't exactly inspired on our part, yet for $60 Banana cords never disappoint.
It's Opening Day (at least in some parts of the country) so let's play ball!
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.
via Bloomingdales. $296.25.
Regular readers know we're pretty big John Varvatos fans. His strongest suit is perhaps outerwear, like this olive green herringbone four pocket work jacket, now on sale at bloomingdales.com. You can wear this in fall and early spring, and we can virtually guarantee it will become your favorite jacket. (Order one size larger than normal.)
via Aldo. $79.98.
Q: What is your opinion on Aldo shoes, a recent discovery of mine? I'm a 21 year-old college student, and I rock some less-than-subtle ankle zip boots, and some plaid tennis shoes by them rather often, but a friend says they stand out too much and seems like TTH. Maybe it just doesn't work in Arkansas.
A: Hey Ron in Arkansas. Thanks for reading. This is the first we've heard from Arkansas. Anyhow, we're not big Aldo fans. Can't speak to the plaid tennis shoes but his boots look like a poor-man's Mark Nason. If you're going to TTH, go full throttle with Nason. Otherwise, our current favorite boot guy is John Varvatos and you can usually find them on eBay at a steep discount.
via Saks Fifth Avenue. $185.00.
Q: I love flat front dress pants that appear to have a slight flare at the bottom of the leg (think "Doug" in Mind of a Married Man). But, I have a difficult time finding the cut and fit. I have a great pair by Theory, they are totally MB. Can you point me towards any makers with this fit? Any thoughts on this look?
A: Rich, you indeed are an MB. Theory's slight bootcut dress pants make most men look great, and perhaps because of this, fellas have a little extra swagger in their step when they wear 'em. Heck, look at the MB-style pose of the model in this picture! One thing we do not and never will understand is the slim/skinny pant trend, which seems to be peaking
(hopefully) in Fall 2008. About 5% of the male population can make this work satisfactorily, and 4% are under-fed hipster doofuses who play in some crap band. For the rest of the guys out there, all this cut accomplishes is making their ass look big.
Anyhow, finding what you want in the slim tsunami is difficult, but John Varvatos is a good option (inset).
via zappos.com. $304.00.
Q: As a young MB-in-training, I am always on the lookout for wardrobe staples that any MB cannot do without. The fall and winter seasons are approaching rapidly, and I am in dire need of the essential boot that cannot only withstand the harshest of weather, but also provide my feet with a look of class mixed with ruggedness. Finding such a pair is certainly a tough feat, and for that I graciously ask for your suggestions. Do note that I am but a mere collegian, so please forgo any exorbitant recommendations.
A: You low cash-flowin', high-falutin' word-usin' college boys are making it tough. We've previously discussed black leather boots as a wardrobe staple, and tried explaining why a $600 pair of Prada Linea Rossas was actually a wise investment. We prefer rubber soles these days, but if you're going for ruggedness then leather is the better choice. Assuming you have $600, put $300 towards beer and drugs and CliffsNotes; put the the other $300 towards these John Varvatos Mercer boots. (Also recommended: a more casual pebbled version from bluefly.)
Q: I come to you for t-shirt advice. As I continue my evolution to a certified MB, I'm at a crossroads. I obviously go for the logo-less, slim-fitting tees, but I've wanted to spice up my t-shirt wardrobe lately. Outside of plain tees, what is acceptable? Please impart your wisdom.
A: You're on the right track, amigo. Besides logos we can also safely rule out graphics and legibility. Hence, you should avoid Project E, Tailgate, Rogues Gallery, Blue Marlin, Drifter, Monarchy, Morphine Generation, Kidrobot, and almost everything from Urban Outfitters.
Don't MB rules make life easy?
We've already expressed our fondness for the Calvin Klein T-shirt. It works in lots of situations, but certainly not all. Round out your collection with simple shirts from James Perse, NSF, Save Khaki, Barney's Co-Op, and our current favorite designer, John Varvatos. We highly recommend his slub cotton crewneck (top) and v-neck (bottom), a stylish twist on a basic.
via Neiman Marcus. $135.00.
Q: I follow your blog religiously and I love the amount of fashion knowledge I gain. However I have a couple of questions, I have a very classy white linen suit that I am planning on wearing in a couple of weeks. I would like to wear it with some tennis shoes to complete my "laid back" look rather than some hard shoes. First, is this appropriate? Secondly, if so, what shoes do you suggest to piece along with an all white linen suit? Do you suggest some all white tennis shoes or something with color in it? I was looking for some shoes along the lines of some Vans or something similar like the Lacoste L34 tennis shoes. Please advise. Thanks!
A: You sure you follow this site religiously? You've clearly missed our missive on linen. Noop, your proposed suit is a ticking time bomb. Within seconds you can go from artfully disheveled to looking like some homeless guy who got dressed outside the dumpster at Goodwill. Regardless, you will explode at some point.
At least minimize the bomb's collateral damage by not wearing Vans. Too '90s LA. Plain white tennis shoes can work, as demonstrated by Paul Smith (top). Your best bet though is a pair of sandals, like this option from John Varvatos, and a pedicure. June is pedicure awareness month, after all.
Q: Will be taking the family to Disneyland this summer. What shoe do you recommend that is 1) stylish but that a 40-something can wear, 2) comfortable as hell for walking and standing all day, 3) can take a soaking (for riding Splash Mountain or California River Raft ride), 4) won't break the bank. Afraid to wear the Franks as the soaking may ruin the suede.
A: Frankenclydes hold up well to water, but we see what you mean. You want something that can withstand not just Splash Mountain, but also the Great California Slushie Spill. Apply some OxiClean, toss 'em in the wash, and they'll turn out as good as new.
We're not quite sure what you mean by "won't break the bank" so we'll offer two options:
TOP: Really Magnificent Bastard
Converse by John Varvatos 'Jack Purcell' Sneaker, $94.95, via nordstrom.com.
BOTTOM: Slightly Less Magnificent Bastard
Men's Converse 'One Star' Oxfords - Blue, $29.99, via target.com.
Q: I will be in Hawaii for a week for the first time in some time. My wardrobe has few to nil summer or warm weather components. To ensure a great vacation free of ransom-worthy toolbag photos, can you provide some recommendations for me so I can snatch up some MB-worthy clothes for the island sun?
You mean you don't want to look like this guy? Good move, indeed. Even though MB.com lukewarmly sanctions Tommy Bahama while in Hawaii, avoid it. Instead, keep it casual and understated with these loose John Varvatos Soho pants (middle), and this perfectly rumpled J. Crew broken-in pocket jersey polo (left). Then, throw in a dash of zip -- and a subtle yet meaningful nod to surf culture -- with these plaid Volcom flip flops.
Q: I just got invited to The People's Choice Awards by my sister. This was unexpected but she already bought my ticket out there (i'm from Chicago) and have me set up in a hotel - not bad. So my question to you is what do I wear to a function like this? I am hoping it is not
a tux. I would just love to rock out a pair of nice jeans, a shirt, and a sport coat but I am sure that is not accepted.
A: Katherine Heigl is going to be there, right? So may we suggest a blue-grey suit along with a traditional Kazakh wedding bag to be placed over her head (who cares if she was recently
married)? But seriously, jeans + shirt + blazer is a tad overdone and common. Instead, try rocking out in Varvatos that's currently on sale, like this.
via Barney's. $299.00.
via Bergdorf Goodman. $998.00.
John Varvatos is one of any MB's favorites, and he hits an upper-deck homer with this epauletted, tabbed-cuffed, flap-pocketed, stand-collared blazer, via Bergdorf Goodman. The only problem is you might need to rob a fucking bank to pay for it, and you might get caught. Stay tuned to MB.com to find out when it goes on sale (in about 90 days).