Q: If the Walmart/Bonobos marriage gets consummated, can you recommend a Bonobos alternative? I refuse to give money to the evil empire. —Dave
A: Unfortunately, whether this particular marriage gets consummated or not, you are now faced with a grave question: Do you keep hooking up with a brand that (a) has seriously considered the possibility that Walmart would be a good home for it? And even worse is (b), in the eyes of Walmart, a highly desirable acquisition target?
Think of your dilemma as a variant on the old Groucho Marx koan: I don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.
While we're fans of Bonobos' moleskin jeans, it's otherwise not a brand that holds any special allegiance in our hearts. Mostly, it has always struck us as an attempt to leverage dot-com venture capital into, say, a slightly more colorful James Perse for the masses. In other words, Walmart's attempted acquisition of it seems like a logical and ultimately inevitable endpoint.
Thus, we say why wait until the marriage is officially consummated to start looking elsewhere to fulfill your clothing needs?
Just the fact that the deal has reached due diligence is a strong signal that we're at Peak Bonobos. In another month or so, they may come out with their own version of the RompHim!
Lucky for you, good alternatives abound. Here's a couple Italian brands we've recently discovered on YOOX that we highly recommend:
We own a bunch of Myths pants and shorts are they're both terrific. Fair warning: You may have to skip leg day every once in awhile in order to get them all the way on. Innovative combinations of fabrics and pocket lining material, and a senselessly-over-engineered-yet-charming 3-button closure system (even on the shorts). Mostly best for 18 holes or a casual workplace. True to size. Myths 2017 S/S collection.
Without a doubt our current favorite trouser maker. Generally dressier and more expensive than Myths — and slightly more forgiving — these are pants you wear to the office with a woven, and so comfortable you keep on while transitioning your top to a knit at home. The only knock on these is a discreet, riveted gothic-font "D" on the rear right pocket (we've tried removing without success). They're modesty-sized; go up one and maybe two inches on the waist. Dondup 2017 S/S collection
Q: I need guidance on dressing for a Christmas party. Unfortunately, dress code is unknown (and my girlfriend doesn't think this is a big deal) but this is my first time meeting any of her friends from outside of our mutual friends. All I know is that it's at the friends apartment in Manhattan and that he works for Facebook (so a broad gamut of possibilities exist...).
I was thinking of just layering a white button down with a cashmere v neck sweater and a blazer with some dark jeans, but I wanted backup. My most casual blazer is a black corduroy one that fits well, but no idea if that's MB approved. I would probably just go with a dark grey cotton blazer that I have instead. I want to be a little dressy, but without going overboard and I figure with the blazer I can ditch it right away if I'm overdressed.
Ended up rambling a bit, but any advice would be greatly appreciated! —Jeremy
Our gut instinct is to pair it with a pair of camel moleskin 5-pocket pants. These were once plentiful on the web but have inexplicably moved into endangered species territory. Did PETA think they were actually made from moles?
Anyhow, Bonobos has implemented a robust moleskin protection plan and still offers their Moleskin Jean in chestnut (in a ridiculous number of fit and size combinations), and this pair of pants will offer both leg-covering and ball-warming utility long after the party is over.
For footwear, we're still strongly in sneakerization mode, and in this case would likely opt for actual sneakers, like these minimalist Certain Victorys (formerly Hydrogen-1).
Finally, you mentioned nothing about accessorization and we feel like this outfit needs it. May we suggest disrupting the dressier choice of a tie around your neck, and try tying a tie around your waist instead with our own version, the Joseph Kandell. (Check out Joe's LinkedIn profile for details on his transition from Barney's skinny tie to middle-management support of vertical apparel installations such as moleskin jeans).
Above all, have fun, but don't get so shitfaced that your ridiculous Bulleit-fueled dance moves end up on a Facebook video. Not that we would know anything about that.
Q: I bought some trousers a few years ago when I was just starting to dress myself like a grown-up. They're wearing out now, and I was wondering what brands you recommend for wool slacks in the $150–$200/pair range. It seems like all I can find while I'm searching are recommendations for budget brands for poor college newly-grads. — Bryson
A: Bryson, we suspect J. Crew is in the process of sending you a catalog a week for the next 20 years, because you sound like exactly the sort of customer they hope to corral. And truth be told, while we have railed against the Ludlowization of the Millennial suit market, we really have no objection to below-the-waist Ludlowization. The pants are fine once you eliminate the crease and there are a number of iterations in your price range.
For years, I have been unable to find casual pants that offer an appropriate degree of slimness and rise. For background, I lift weights moderately and exercise regularly so I never feel like my thighs have enough room in most standard slim-fit pants (H&M, Uniqlo, Levi's, etc.) On top of that, most slim-fit pants I've tried are low rise which seem - at least to me - to be too constricting in the ..er.. crotch area, and leave me looking like a flat-assed teenager. The problem is that regular fit or straight fit pants invariably have a rather schlubby box fit below and above the thigh, which really becomes apparent after a few washes. What is the correct amount of slimness and rise in a pair of pants for an athletic MB, and where should I look for this elusive clothing. —George
A: George, have you considered skipping leg day?
We consider ourselves quite athletic and actually quite like to be a little bound through the thigh, and yes, even the crotch. We're not talking yoga-pant or needy girlfriend-level constriction here, just enough to feel vital, and remind us of why we bothered to ride 40 miles on a Saturday morning with a hangover so raging it felt like our head was the victim of an Andrew W.K. drum solo.
If that's not your thing, we don't judge. It's just that finding a stylish higher-rise pant with ample thigh room and a non-boxy fit through the thigh is like finding a Trump supporter who can actually afford to spend a night in a Trump hotel.
One suggestion, besides the simple, yet unacceptable solutions of parachute pants or Zubaz, is AG's "Graduate" fit. They're a little fuller through the thigh and still end up at just 7.75" at the ankle, a full ½" narrower than the Levi's 514 equivalent. Give them a try and let us know what you think
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 firstname.lastname@example.org today!
Given the alternatives, we wager President Obama would have a credible shot at overturning the 22nd Amendment this fall. But apparently he has higher aspirations than a third term. Comments he made in a Bloomberg interview suggest he may be contemplating a career as a venture capitalist or Silicon Valley CEO.
The President says his interest in science and organization would correlate well with a new life in Silicon Valley. For us, though, it's the outfit he wore when returning from his recent trip to Europe that shows how perfectly ill-suited he is for the highest echelons of high-tech.
In this expert take on Partners Meeting Casual, the President compresses so many awful touches into a single ensemble we imagine he must have access to some fashion-centric version of the Pied Piper platform. While he may not be ready to compete with Zuck or Larry Page yet, we'll certainly put him up against, say, John Doerr or Jeff Bezos. As soon as he ditches that helicopter for a Tesla, that is.
What's wrong exactly? Here's our quick assessment, with links to where we've covered these issues in the past:
Regular readers know our affection for Naked and Famous's Snow Pant Denim, indigo jeans designed for the slopes that double as terrific daily cold-weather biking trousers.
Unfortunately, eBay sightings of these long-discontinued pants are rarer than a David Brooks fan at a Donald Trump rally, and here in Minneapolis, winter is sticking around just as stubbornly as John Kasich. We need some more warm cycling-friendly pants.
Honestly, we never imagined we would ever approve of a product made out of "exclusive AeroFleece." But when we saw that Bill Murray was a fan, we figured we'd give them a chance.
Decade after decade, Bill Murray has rarely steered us wrong — and he hasn't this time either. While we don't quite like the Rider jeans as much as we like Caddyshack, we'll put them right up there with Rushmore, Quick Change, and even Groundhog Day. Which is to say, we like them a lot.
They won't work for sub-zero commutes, but with a pair of long underwear we've been plenty comfortable down to 10°F. Without long underwear, we reckon we will wear them into the low to mid 50s, at which they'll be too hot and we'll switch over to shorts.
Like the Snow Pant Denim, the Rider Jeans are versatile. In the same way that Bill Murray was designed for comedy but can handle straight dramatic roles with great skill, the Rider Jeans, designed for cycling, are also awesome shoulder-season golf pants. As Mr. Murray himself has discovered. (You didn't think he was biking to work, did you?).
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.
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: It's almost time to pack the corduroys away depending on where you live (sorry New England). So, what would you say are some essentials for spring? —Jack
A: Just 10 days ago, on the most frigid commute of the entire season, the thought of spring essentials seemed as distant as our final destination. But Jimmy the Carnivorous Groundhog was right, and Insta-Spring — it was 68 yesterday in Minneapolis — now has us consuming the following:
The Last Word
There is no cocktail that personifies and embodies spring more than The Last Word. Equal parts gin, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, Green Chartreuse, and fresh lime juice, one sip of this emerald Prohibition-era tipple immediately conjures thoughts of tournament basketball, The Masters, green grass, and swallows returning to Capistrano. It also serves as an excellent alternative to green beer, the toolbag drink of choice tomorrow.
Spring means baseball, and Opening Day is the opening day of the newly-expanded white pant season (more on this later). The Cardinals play at Wrigley in just 20 days. The best place to find something cool, unique, and cheap is YOOX, as usual, and free shipping is now standard. Otherwise Levi Strauss & Co. makes white denim in the 501, 511, 514, and 569.
Todd Snyder Japanese Indigo Crew Sweatshirt
Our favorite purchase of 2015 by a wide margin. Is $275 a lot for a cotton sweatshirt, even if it's made by Canadian factory workers using Japanese indigo? Yes. But while this garment is marked 100 percent cotton, we actually suspect it might be 120 percent cotton, or maybe even 125 percent. It's that soft. Paradoxically, it's also incredibly sturdy. In fact, we're betting its tank-like construction will yield a life expectancy of at least a decade. Amortize its cost over that term and it's actually cheaper than a $15 Old Navy sweatshirt that you will be downgrading to "paint rag" by Independence Day.
Nylite Chambray in Aurora Red
During the chambray boom that happened a few years ago, when folks were making pants, suits, and even a few trendy hotels out of chambray, we did not buy in heavily. Indeed, we think chambray is a little like heroin or Jim Carrey — something to savor in small doses. But when it's used right it can be very effective. Here, for example, a splash of chambray gives these Tretorn Nylites — originally invented in 1964 and typically made out of a canvas — thinking about April matinees at Target Field. So make ours a double!
(And be on the lookout for our spring tie line, which will also be using chambray in sparing fashion.)
Vintage Onion Content
Insta-Spring has us recalling one of our favorite Onion pieces, this one from 1996: Area Students Prepare Breasts for Increased Springtime Display. "Female college students from across the northern U.S. celebrated the improved weather this week, preparing their breasts for the increased exposure and display that the warm weather now demands."
Things you should make out of leather: Briefcases. Golf bags. Wallets. Bondage gear. Bicycle seats. Shoes. Club chairs.
Things you should not make out of leather: Jogging pants.
We admit the senseless lack of utility is high here. A pair of leather jogging pants is essentially a sign to the world that says, "No, I have absolutely no intention of jogging today, or ever."
But when we try to picture JFK wearing these things, we can't do it. Paul Newman? Nick Nolte? Steve McQueen? Johnny Depp? Nope, nope, nope, nope — not even Johnny Depp. Jennifer Lopez' fourth husband, a 24-year-old back-up record producer named Ziqué? Yes! Now we are pretty sure such a creature does not actually exist. But his pants do, and these are them.
A: We absolutely love the idea behind Arnie Wear — who doesn't want to look like Arnold Palmer did in the '60s — it's the execution we have a problem with, with too-long sleeves on the polos, too-long inseams on the shorts, and far too much nylon and quick-dry polyester on everything.
The King never wore quick-dry polyester.
One item we'll be trying out, however, is the Leaderboard dress pant in (mostly) cotton, with a low rise and gentle boot cut (inset). Good golf pants are hard to find, and it looks like you could wear these into the office after a round (unless you get them in Lemon). Plus they'll go great with the Sambas.
Long before Arnie Wear came along, what we've done to put our twist on the '60s Palmer look is find a pair of casual white pants on YOOX, a slim-fitting banded-cuff polo from J.Crew (always on sale), and a fine-gauge cashmere-silk cardigan usually by Cruciani. Add a $4.99 plain white visor from e4hats.com and you are Palmer personified (except for his game).
Q: I have a Christmas party for a large bank coming up in a few months, and since I've managed to navigate life thus far without a respectable suit I thought I'd get one made from a local tailor. As we were going over the fit and style of the suit, he asked if I would like pleats. Being a long-time MB reader and knowing your stance on such things, I replied that I did not.
This raised a problem - being a former speed skater and avid cyclist, my seat-to-waist proportion is a bit out of the normal range. Without pleats, the standard slit pant pocket would be stuck slightly open giving the impression that the pants do not fit. The tailor recommended I go with continental-style pockets, which are more similar to the style used in jeans. What does the MB thing of this dilemma? —Andrew
A: Andrew, we top out at around 15 mph on a pair of skates. But even so, we love Continental-style pockets on dress pants, precisely because they make them less dressy. So listen to your tailor on this one, and make sure to have him style the jacket to match, preferably with double vents. Single vents are great but are also more traditionally American.
Ed. note: We got this response from another thick-thighed reader and thought it worthy to post here.
I relate to Andrew of today's continental pockets question as I, too, have been endowed with strangely muscular legs. I have 26" thighs (Schwarzenegger had 28.5" at his peak). I found your answer to be incomplete in that, while I, too, find continental pockets to be both magnificent and especially bastardly, any tailor that can actually construct a suit should be able to make even on-seam pockets lay flat. My tailor has done it with off the rack pants, so fully custom is no problem. The other thing to watch out for is a too tight waist; the tighter the waist the more the pockets will flare.
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.
Magnificent Bastard sponsor Betabrand/Cordarounds launched their "7 Deadly Sins" line with the Gluttony Pant, believed to be the first pair of pants to ship with a large cloth napkin.
For Envy, they're auctioning off a 3,000 year-old pair of pants once owned by libertine pharaoh Smutankhamun, better known as King Smut. With gold disco-ball exterior and lined with a pornoglyphic print, we agree: the winner will surely be the slobbering envy of every trouser-wearing man on the planet.
Current bid stands at $430. Auction ends today at 2PM CT.
Q: My husband and I are visiting NYC this summer and have reservations at an upscale restaurant that requires jackets for men. What jackets/blazers do you recommend that can be worn with non-jeans without looking like a total toolbag? --Melissa
If you do decide to venture out, we hear what you're saying about matching blazers with non-denim. While nearly 100% of blazers go with blue jeans, the success rate with trousers is no better than 10%. Unless they're white. White pants are nearly denim's blazer-matching equivalent, so rather than go shopping for a new blazer, find him a great pair of white pants (and they're all on sale now).
Q: Hello! I'm sending my mother and father to the San Francisco Opera for Wagner's Ring Cycle and it has been formally requested that all men wear tuxedos to opening night. This has sent us on a search for the perfect tuxedo. Now, we already know that you recommend a double-vented jacket for maximum bastardliness, but on the matter of the pants: pleated or plain? Thanks so much for your magnificence! --Amanda-Louise
A: In Apocalypse Now Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore had his boys play Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries because "it scares the hell out of the slopes!," but it shouldn't scare your father from flat front trousers. Middle age is no excuse for pleats. Like smoking grass leads to heroin addiction, they're gateway attire to sweatpants, followed closely by full-on tracksuits.
A: We addressed this in early spring as the fad was emerging, in a Steve McQueen-Erkel side-by-side. As with most novelties to sweep the streets of Manhattan, we don't get it. Yeah, exposed ankles can be a very good thing, but pants rolling effectively shortens your legs, making you appear, uh, shorter. It's too bad 7' 7" Manute Bol recently died; he was a perfect pant-rolling candidate! Finally, the fact that the craze was popularized by the shrunken, man-shrinking designer Thom Browne really seals the deal. Our advice: Wait this one out (it won't be long).
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.
Knickers are a great bike-to-work option if you work in a bike shop or play bass for a nu-metal revival band. But we like pants that at least flirt with our ankles.
Just a few years ago, casual bike-oriented pants that met this criteria were virtually non-existent. Now, there are more and more to choose from. They tend to be a little bit pricey because they're not produced in great quantities. But if you want a look that makes the transition from bike to boardroom as smooth as a seamless gusseted crotch, they're worth the investment.
2.Nonetheless Dispatch Rider Pant. $188.
These pants are made out of wool and recycled plastic water bottles, which means you don't have to feel so guilty the next time you buy a liter of Fiji Water. Sure, you're adding to your carbon footprint by drinking water shipped from halfway around the world -- but you're also letting a sheep keep his coat a little longer! Life is all about balance. Other highlights we like about these pants: machine-washability, and "slimmer anti-sprocket leg openings."
3.Cordarounds Bike to Work Pants. $90.
By day, they're mild-mannered khakis. By night, thanks to strategically placed reflective material that emerges when you roll up the cuffs and turn the back pockets inside out, they light up like a Las Vegas casino. Or maybe that's overstating things a bit, so let's say a Reno casino. Either way, we're pretty sure they're going to be the brightest pair of pants in your wardrobe. Unless you're John Daly.
4.Swrve Indigo Denim Jeans. $100.
We don't advise riding long distances in jeans -- but with these, we feel like we could if we had to. Why? The seamless gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and touch of Lycra. For utilitarian riding, they've got pretty much every feature you could ask for -- cell phone pocket, reflective stripe at the cuff, low waist in the front and high waist in the back, and back pockets big enough to fit a mini U-lock.
HEY! We're giving away a brand spanking new ride from Bowery Lane Bicycles ($695 value) and all you have to do to enter is take a hot photograph with a bike (and preferably a girl) in it. Click for full details and then get art directin'.
Today, we introduce what we expect will be a recurring feature at MB: Show Us Your Game Face, Dude!
The premise: Anyone model can master Blue Steel or Le Tigre while wearing a non-descript pair of wool trousers or a block stripe cashmere sweater. But it takes a real pro to look serious while wearing some of the get-ups that are an occupational hazard of being a model.
Here, our guy ably feigns indifference to the fact that he's wearing a pair of pants seemingly aimed at the fashion-forward colostamy-bag-wearer market.
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? --Tadgh
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.
Q: I've noticed that certain combinations of shoes and pants lack the seamless blending/transition at the overlap, such as flare pants with skinny width shoes. Are there any tips to get the right balance? See Exhibit A (top) and B (bottom). --Mike
A: It's only January 7th but we're pretty sure this will be the most astute observation made all year. Well done.
While our answer should probably take the form of a pseudo-scientific chart, the only tip or guide you need is to follow the architectural principle of proportion. Or, why wearing narrow-outsole sneakers (like a Puma Roma) with bootcut denim feels totally weird.
Similarly, a jacket's lapels and tie should be of like widths. A big part of the problem with the skinny trend (RIP) was the poor bastards who merely dipped their toe in and bought a skinny tie to wear with a traditional-width lapel suit. Like so many breast enlargement surgeries, it looks wrong, and there's a reason why.
Q: What types of shirts and pants combinations can be paired with a black velvet blazer for a semi-formal New Year's Eve celebration? --Black
A: The shirt is easy: white, pressed, no button-down. If you have one, an evening shirt with studs would be MB. The pants? Hmmmmm ... time is short ... is there a Black Fleece-stocked Brooks Brothers near you? The blazer + the shirt + these subtle tartan pants will definitely get you more than the obligatory New Year's peck on the cheek.
$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.
Q: I like the look of high/riding boots, but think it's too much to wear unless you're in the English countryside or riding. The other day I saw a guy wearing a nice pair of leather ankle boots, like a ferragamo or gucci boot, with his pants tucked into them. I couldn't decide whether it looked ridiculous or courageously cool. What say you? --Tom
A: Tom, we answered your question about a year ago, calling it TTHTLLYS (Trying Too Hard To Look Like Yosemite Sam), and still oppose this overly affected style. Weather the pant-tucking trend for now as it will be completely gone by next fall, except on re-runs.
Q: So I work in a bank now, and the attire demands shirt and tie. I'd look a little overdone in a suit. Can I wear brown dress shoes with black dress pants? (I know the policy on strictly wearing black shoes with a black suit, but since this isn't a suit...) --Christopher
A: Christopher, rules are definitely meant to be broken, but to break this one you have to know what you're doing. It has to be just the right black pant and brown shoe combination. In other words, if you have to ask, stick to black footwear with your black pants.
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.
Late last year we took a littleflak for dismissing the pants-tucked-into-boots look as TTH. Then in this month's GQ, Kenneth Cole fully validated our call. This look is officially dead. Thanks, Kenneth!
Q: Most of my slacks don't have pleats, but my dry cleaner still presses them with a center crease. I prefer no crease for a clean flat front, and instruct the dry cleaner to press "no crease" - but they can't get it right. Every time they press a pant I have them redone without the crease. Is my dry cleaner stuck in 1980 or do I need to adjust my no-crease look? --Moxie
A: Moxie, your style instincts are good, but we have doubts about your resolve. If your dry cleaner can coerce you into changing your style, what is going to happen when you have a wife?
We are strongly anti-crease in virtually all situations, and don't even consider buying pants unless we think we can get the crease out. You need to get your dry cleaner on the no-crease plan or find a new one who is completely fluent in English. They will be lazier than newly arrived immigrants looking to impress, and happy to keep your pants creaseless.
We're all in favor of bringing back some '70s style to the course -- the MB in the header photo is wearing vintage flowered Lilly Pulitzer shorts -- but Scott Woodsworth's Loudmouth Golf is an homage gone horribly wrong:
Top: John Daly at the BMW PGA Championship at the Wentworth Club, England, over the weekend in Loudmouth Golf's "Disco Balls" pants. Looks like a clown's pajamas.
Bottom: The "Chicks Dig Loudmouth" photo gallery is a toolbag extravaganza.
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? --Justin
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.
Q: Darling, you have cracked the door, so forgive me if I wedge my foot and possibly my shoulder in and ask (rather breathlessly): What about skinny pants for women? --Nancy Drew
(Ed. note: "Nancy Drew" is an amateur chick detective who's been trying to find out who's behind this site for, like, nearly two years.)
A: Nancy, in the women's case it's a simple matter of geometry. We call it the "Ass to Ankle Angle" or AAA (try saying that 3 times fast). Simply have someone take a picture of you naked with your feet together and then calculate the angle from your ass to your ankle. If your angle is 5° or smaller, you may wear skinny pants. As you can see, the nude in Peter Paul Rubens' "The Three Graces" is at 10°, and she clearly ain't even close.
Q: What's your take on slim fit pants that hug the legs and ankles? Are they only acceptable on 150 pound male models? --Todd
A: We have been consistently anti-skinny since this site launched almost two years ago. But it can work in certain situations, like the ones defined by our accompanying skinny pant flow chart. See if you qualify to wear this look.
Esquire is down the list of our favorite men's mags, and Fashion Director Nick Sullivan doesn't help matters with his condescending, bad advice. At magnificentbastard.com if we're wrong, we'll at least be wrong with a joke and maybe some light profanity.
In any fucking case, MB endorses no crease on any pant, even suitpants (except a tuxedo), unless you're old. Otherwise they violate the none-too-neat principle we're always aiming for.
Q: I've got a question about how high or low pants should go. I'm a fat bastard who has been working on slimming down. Down 2 pants sizes in the last year and half. So my wardrobe is in flux. The issue now though is my two suits (especially the pants) are ridiculously too large to go around my traditional upper limit of above the hips. But they're now ok go around my still somewhat larger gut. (I'm still working on that.) The question comes down to, is it ok to wear the pants around the belly or should I pony up the money to have and have the alterations done? --Moderately Fat Bastard
A: Get your pants tailored for the new you. Wearing them on your gut is like giving up and only wearing sweats and track suits. You're in the process of turning this fat train right around! In other words, a little more Hank Hill (who once lead his high-school's conference in rushing) and a little less Homer Simpson (who once gained 61 pounds to go on fat disability). Please just ignore the look on their faces and their body language and trust us.
Q: Recently in GQ's online series "How to Become a Well Dressed Rebel in 30 Days," Adam Rapoport interviewed Thom Browne and suggested that you forgo the socks with your suit. When they show the pictures of Thom Browne I got a distinct feel that he looked like a 12 year-old that got a suit when he was 7. I guess this can be classified as artful dishevelment but I feel that less dishevelment is better than more Hobbit. Am I completely off the mark? And how should a MB go about the no socks advice? --Ryan
A: We've never understood the fashion world's hard-on for Thom Browne. Thom Browne this. Thom Browne that. Whatever. His approach to pants is a completely unflattering trend, kinda like women's capri pants from a few years ago. (Like the Terminator, they'll be back.) However, Thom Browne's thoughts on no socks with suits is a good one, but do it in an understated (i.e. MB) way. Go sockless with a normal inseam and then surprise folks with a leg cross or a nicely-timed gust of wind. Just be sure to wear a pair of these socks with your shoes.
Q: As we venture deeper into cold weather here in New York, I've noticed many guys walking around with their pants tucked into their boots. Initially, I vehemently opposed. On further consideration, I thought the look might be able to be achieved. Then upon even further thought, I dismissed it on grounds of TTH. Thoughts? --Josh
A: It's not TTH (Trying Too Hard), it's TTHTLLYS (Trying Too Hard To Look Like Yosemite Sam). Tucking your pants into your boots shortens your legs, hence making you look short. Like Yosemite Sam. Unless you're 7'+, this is asinine and be only somethin' varmits do.
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? --Rich
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).
Q: What are your thoughts on cargo pants? I see no reference under pants? --Clint
A: Perhaps the best quote from 2007's Superbad is from Seth, played by Jonah Hill: "Nobody has gotten a hand job in cargo shorts since 'Nam!" Yes, we're talking about cargo pants here, but it's probably safe to say no one's gotten a hand job in cargo pants since Grenada, or at least Desert Storm.
Once again, 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham brings clarity to the issue of cargo pants: "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." In other words, what the hell do you need all those extra pockets for?
It's sometimes useful to look to cinema for reinforcement of style principles. When the creators of Bull Durham wanted to create a shlubby, clueless rookie pitcher "with a million dollar arm and the 5-cent head" they dressed Ebby Calvin 'Nuke' LaLoosh in:
1. Pleated, linen pants. (Note the wrinkles!) 2. Tommy Bahama-style camp shirt. 3. Shiny gold watch and ring. 4. Pinkie ring.
Q: Please tell me that the bastard on your front page banner isn't wearing linen pants. --John
A: No, the Magnificent Bastard on the front page banner is most definitely not wearing linen pants, because we've all witnessed the disaster they turn into. Just cotton with a dash of elastane.
Q: Again with the white pants. At the risk of sounding like Tim the homophobe, I'm concerned that you may not appreciate the gay factor of some of these endorsements. I have prepared this graph for your reference. --Thom
Q: I just picked up a new Boss suit with flat front pants. Before taking it to the tailor I was curious what the MB's opinion was on cuffing. Should one cuff only pleated pants or both pleated and flat front, and if so how much of a cuff should be put in place? --Chris
A: There aren't many cuffs around the MB offices (or pleats), but we're not opposed to them (like pleats). A couple of suggestions if you decide to go that route:
Leg Opening: Cuffs work best on either something dramatically wide or dramatically narrow (pictured).
Cuff Depth: Cuff it like it's not an accident. 2" absolute minimum.
Q: I know you guys love the Style Guy but he just made a huge error in the June edition of GQ. He said that you cannot take out the pleats in pleated trousers. They should buy their suits at MARK SHALE. They do it all the time for no charge and they turn out beautifully. --Larry
A: We do like Glenn O'Brien (the Style Guy), though as you point out he is dead wrong about about removing pleats. Not just Mark Shale can do it; so can any competent tailor. Maybe he was having a senior moment like his contemporary, John McCain.
Q: I work out a lot and am quite muscular, and I have a 32 or 33 inch waist, but most pants are cut for guys with much slimmer legs than me. My bulging thighs look like sausages in pants that otherwise fit me fine. Any tips, besides wearing Zubaz? --Sam
A: To paraphrase German politician Otto von Bismarck, there are three things it's best not to see being made:
* An MB's legs getting turned into sausages, and
* A guy getting into a pair of Zubaz
Sam, first thing you need to do -- something every MB needs to do -- is find a great tailor. For your existing pants, if they are dress pants, he can let out the thigh a bit so your rippling leg muscles have room to flex. A better option is to buy your pants a little larger -- to accomodate your bulges -- and have your tailor slim the waist.
Yeah, your un-MB peers might heap scorn and ridicule on the idea of spending $195 on what they likely refer to as simply "sweatpants." Screw 'em. When you're kickin' it in the Caribbean, and climb out of your villa's infinity pool and slip into this stylish pair of Adam Lounge Pants (made from the finest organic Japanese cotton, of course) you -- and everyone else who sees you -- will know exactly where that extra $175.01 went.
(This post actually reminds us of a core MB rule that will be demonstrated more clearly in future posts: in order to look good, you gots to pay.)
Q: Pleated pants. We know they should be banned, but what if you like to wear suspenders; do you wear them with plain fronts? Is doesn't seem right. Holly
A: Holly, we presume this is for your husband or boyfriend. Either that or you're Annie Hall. Anyhow, suspenders with "plain fronts" is totally fine, and actually preferred to pleats. Just have a look at the pleats-suspenders combo on Lumbergh (with belt!) and Mork. Pleats just plain suck.
All Hail Moleskin Pants! With Jack Frost finally nipping at our collective noses, it's time to get into a pair of moleskin pants, like this ridiculously overpriced version from Michael Bastian. They're soft, comfortable, and warm enough to prevent your nuts from turning into a couple of croutons.
Q: I recently got back from a trip to Europe and saw a lot of guys wearing tapered capris pants there. At first, I thought no way, but in time it crept into my mind. They looked extremely comfortable, somewhat dressy, very stylish, and cool in the heat. My wife insisted they were strictly for the gay man. Your thoughts?
A: William: We're not sure we can endorse capris for men, given that we don't like them on women. However, perusing the Pringle web site over the weekend we got a glimpse of their pants stance for spring 2008. If you've got nice-looking ankles, we say go for it.
Q: Have pleated pants gone out of style? Are they better for hiding my fat belly or not? — Scott
A: Yes. Not.
Nothing personal, Scott, but where in the hell do people get the idea that pleats hide fat bellies? Pleats are extra material, puffing out in the wrong place, that actually make you look fatter than you actually are.
The only time we've ever seen successful pleat implementations is on short, slight, thin MBs trying to look a little bigger and older than the real thing.
Stick to flat-fronts, make sure they fit properly, and hit the damn treadmill.
While there's some good stuff, be sure to avoid these Etro Linen Trousers. Sure, they might look nice on the model now, but literally seconds after that picture was taken they looked like shit. Don't believe us? Check out the time-lapse photography from a new MB feature: Linen. It sucks.
The classic Negroni is simply equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. You can do better.
5 parts Plymouth gin
2 parts Campari
1 part Pimm's No. 1 Cup
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part dry vermouth
2 dashes of orange bitters
Quick shake or stir and pour into chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.