Magnificent Bastard

Saturday, August 23, 2014

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Ask the MB: Is Paul Fussell Wrong on 2-Button vs. 3-Button Suits?

Ask the MB: Is Paul Fussell Wrong on 2-Button vs. 3-Button Suits?

Q: Page 60 of Paul Fussell's book Class, last paragraph 3rd line down states "the two-button suit is more prole than the three-button Eastern-establishment model."

Just wondering if I shouldn't listen to this part of the Bible due to your stance on the three-button suits, at least for the average size man. And keep wearing the two-button.

P.S. Rest in Peace Fussell. He was a God among not just men, but gentlemen.
—Jack

A: Last week, researchers in Tel Aviv determined that camels didn't exist in Israel until centuries after Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph lived — yet the Bible mentions camels more than 20 times.

The Bible Bible, that is. Not Class. But sometimes Fussell can be fallible too. Two-button suits elongate the torso, and elongated torsos have long been the grail of the American overclass. Which is why yoga studios per capita tracks so precisely with income per capita in the U.S. (We are totally making this up but are certain it is true.)

An elongated torso helps accentuate the natural V of a man's body, and as Tom Ford has suggested in the past, emphasizing that natural V is the key to a magnificent presence.

To see this principle in action, consider the classic portrait of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon above. JFK looks vital and commanding, the King of Camelot. Nixon looks stout, shifty, Nixonian.

So while our admiration for Fussell remains as strong as ever, our thoughts on two-button versus three-button are as fixed as the word of God on a stone tablet. Leave the three-buttons to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Todd Palin, and Tricky Dick.

Ovadia & Sons Weighs In On Skinny Lapels and Ties

Ovadia & Sons Weighs In On Skinny Lapels and Ties
Ovadia & Sons, the Brooklyn-born twins cited as the Next Big Thing by every menswear blog this side of the Mississippi, were recently named one of "America's Next Great Designers" by Details magazine (December 2011/January 2012 issue).

When asked about a Trend That Needs to Go Away, Shimon Ovadia said, "Slim suit lapels and skinny ties. It's time for a change. Plus, you can't be a muscular guy wearing a super-slim tie."

We wholeheartedly agree, and are reminded of The Great Tie Width Debate about this time last year between Band of Outsiders' skinny tie purveyor Scott Sternberg and Tom Ford, with Ford saying, "There is something a bit meager and uptight about a skinny tie and jacket...I think that accentuating the natural V of a man's body makes men look more masculine, less boyish, and in general more powerful."

The pendulum is finally swinging Ford's way. Don't be the last guy to buy a tie narrower than 3", or a blazer/suit with lapels inside that same width.

Ask the MB: Serious Questions About Tie Width

Are you telling us a wide tie wouldn't improve Paul Weller's look?
Are you telling us a wide tie wouldn't improve Paul Weller's look?
Q: Just read your skinny tie entry and reasons for disliking. The list of people of legendary style status who favored skinny ties is endless. Fat ties are the choice of Vegas club doormen, the kind you can smell from 10 feet away and wear Affliction in their off time. The reasoning (more for your money) is beyond me, and goes against your own tastes in the few entries I've read - a pleat gives you more more material for your money, so does a tassel on a shoe, and nearly every bad thing about clothing is about addition. The guys on sportscenter and The Sopranos vs. Paul Weller, JFK, Miles Davis. You should really rethink this one.
—Chuck


A: Loosen up your tie and relax, Chuck! At MB, we believe that giving our readers a good deal on a great tie calls for levity, not complete seriousness, and thus our joke about preferencing wider ties over skinny ones because you get "more for your money" was just that, a joke.

Rest assured that our often-expressed preference for wider ties has a sound aesthetic foundation. In short, we believe that one's tie width should echo the width of one's lapels, within 1/4". If you're like us and subscribe to Tom Ford's way of thinking that wider lapels "make men look more masculine, less boyish, and in general more powerful," it follows that one's ties should be equivalently wide.

These days lapels are following Ford's inevitable lead and fattening up, nearly as much as Christina Aguilera. Michael Bastian, who just won Menswear Designer of the Year, won't sell you a blazer with a lapel under 3 1/4". Others will soon follow.

As for pleats and tassels, you are absolutely correct, and if you ever catching us recommending them, even in jest, please reprimand us accordingly. There are some things that should never be joked about.

Earlier: Michael Bastian Forced to Shop at J.Crew?

Earlier: 5 Incoming Style Trends to Avoid, including tasseled loafers and pleats.

Ask the MB: European Vacation Walking Shoes

Ask the MB: European Vacation Walking Shoes
Q: I'm heading to Europe this summer for a few weeks of tromping around. I need some footwear advice - I'm looking for something that can support LOTS of walking around being on my feet all day, and doesn't scream 'American Toolbag'. Bonus for something that works with pants and shorts, but I'd be willing to get two pairs to cover both ends of summer bottoms. Thoughts?
—Peter


A: Peter, a trip to Europe is definitely time to heed Tom Ford's five easy lessons in how to become a modern gentleman and leave the shorts at home. You might not scream "American Toolbag" in them, but unless you're at the beach or in the midst of a 5-setter you definitely scream "American."

Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. For previous questions regarding European travel we've endorsed getting your American on — your feet — and for your excessively ambulant vacation we suggest you get into a pair of Cole Haan Air Mercury lace oxfords.

They don't have the pedigree of some more iconic trailblazers in the casual sneaker field — Chucks, PF Flyers, Tretorn T56s. But if you're doing lots — and especially if you're doing LOTS — of walking, we recommend the Air Mercurys. There's a reason why America embraced car culture so enthusiastically — walking in Chucks can turn your feet into bloody stumps even faster than Jigsaw or Freddie Kreuger can. Go with the Air Mercurys and you should be good for at least 15-mile days if necessary. (The black ones are on sale at colehaan.com for just $59.95).

As for that other pair of shoes you offered to pack, definitely bring along some loafers for after the sun goes down.

Earlier: Ask the MB: French Honeymoon

Ask the MB: How to 'Rock' Shorts. Or Not.

Your shorts are draining the lifeblood from Tom Ford
Your shorts are draining the lifeblood from Tom Ford
Q: Dear MB: How does an MB rock shorts? I know, I know, a real MB shouldn't wear shorts, but in some parts of the country summer gets too hot for pants. 115 degrees. Looking back at your earlier posts about shorts, the MB short has an 8"-8.5" inseam. Thanks for the help.
--Larry


A: In the S/S issue of Another Man, Tom Ford offers five easy lessons on how to become a modern gentleman. Fifth on his list: "A man should never wear shorts in the city. Flip-flops and shorts in the city are never appropriate. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach."

We would add "golf course." Except if you play with glow-in-the-dark golf balls: Never wear shorts after the sun goes down.

As for inseam, we definitely prefer shorter over longer, lest you veer into over-the-knee toolbag territory. Unfortunately, this season designers have adopted longer inseams with small leg openings, in what look like skinny pants amputated at the knee. But there are still sensible, comfortable shorts out there that don't require cuff rolling, like Raf Simons/Fred Perry for tennis, Lightning Bolt for the beach, and Fred Perry (solo) for the course.

Earlier: For women, we endorse even shorter shorts.

5 Incoming Style Tips to Avoid

5 Incoming Style Tips to Avoid
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.

Tasseled Loafers TASSELED LOAFERS

They Say:
"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

We Say:
Sorry, Tom, the only place we like tassels is on the nipples of an aging stripper named Frenchie.
Pleats PLEATS

They Say:
"As Michael Bastian explains, 'Changing the proportion a little changes everything.' Get yours with a single pinch and tapered legs."
Details, 11/10

We Say:
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 DOUBLE BREASTED SUITS & BLAZERS

They Say:
"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

We Say:
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.
Club Collar CLUB COLLAR

They Say:
"It's a shirt with a little bit of nostalgia that packs a whole lot of cool."
GQ, 2/11

We Say:
All the sensitive nerve endings are in the tip of your collar -- do not circumcise it.
Saddle Shoes SADDLE SHOES

They Say:
"Say goodbye to the classic blue and white. These versatile two-tones will take you much further."
Details, 2/11

We Say:
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.

Ask the MB: The Great Tie Width Debate

Ask the MB: The Great Tie Width Debate
Q: Hate to drag this up yet again, but all the ties you recommended in your recent post, "matchy-matchy," are 3" width. So now I'm curious, when you urge everyone to abandon skinny ties and go wide, what width do you consider "skinny," and is it possible, in your view, to go too wide? I also ask because, trends be damned, I think 3"ish is ideal, but at my conservative job, my 3" ties are generally regarded as "skinny".
--J. Nelson


A: A width of three inches is our starting point. If it's narrower than that, we throw it back and cast again. As for maximum width, it's all about proportion: You want a tie that echoes the width of your jacket's lapels. The wider your lapel, the wider tie you need -- and these days, like Jessica Simpson, lapels are widening. But if you ever need a tie wider than 3.75 inches, then it's time to put your lapels on a diet.

Who's on our side in the tie width debate? In the 2010 GQ Style Manual, designers Scott Sternberg (Band of Outsiders) and Tom Ford (Tom Ford) offer their thoughts:

SCOTT STERNBERG: "A skinnier tie just feels of-the-moment right now....And there's less material, so there's less potential for a color or pattern to feel garish or offensive."

TOM FORD: "There is something a bit meager and uptight about a skinny tie and jacket...I think that accentuating the natural V of a man's body makes men look more masculine, less boyish, and in general more powerful."

AT LEFT: Both designers put their theories into practice. Ford looks classically masculine. Sternberg radiates of-the-moment inoffensiveness. The choice is yours to make.

Earlier: More from Tom Ford about tie width.

Ask the MB: Michael Bastian Ski Jacket

Ask the MB: Michael Bastian Ski Jacket
Q: MB. Emergency. I've been watching the price on an Michael Bastian Winter 2008 NWT Orange w/corduroy detail ski jacket/vest. Cool or uncool? $400 including shipping? Pull the trigger? Product is modeled on the Bastian website, FYI.
--Paul


A: We love just about every stitch of clothing Michael Bastian has created since launching his line two years ago. The only problem is his ridiculous pricing. Dude, you're not Tom Ford!

The ski jacket's original price was $1685 -- for that, we think a pair of Rossignols and a season pass at Vail should be included. But at $400, we bless this purchase decision. You get a cool jacket and a cool vest, so it's like getting 2 for 1 (OK, maybe 1.4 for 1, 1.5 tops).

Calvin Klein, Eat Your Heart Out

Calvin Klein, Eat Your Heart Out
All hail Tom Ford! What a designer. Just have a look at that rocking hot gingham shirt with the extra-high collar. The only question is, what happened to her cigarette and holder?

POURCAST

BETA

Martinez

  • 2 parts Hayman's Old Tom Gin
  • 1 part sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula or Dolin Rouge)
  • 1/4 part Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

Shake or swirl lightly, garnish with a lemon twist.


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