Hi! Is there a puffer vest that you all recommend? Maybe a couple of different brands? I know you recommended Duvetica a few years ago. Are they still your #1? Other brands? Thank you! —Chris
A: Thanks so much for the question, Chris. We could go on forever about puffer vests as they're a wardrobe staple.
One warning before we list some options: these best suit taller, thinner MBs. If you're carrying a little extra bulk in your torso, the last thing you want to do is add bulk to your torso while the rest of your body keeps the same thickness. You will just look fatter.
With that caveat, we have three rules on puffer vests. They must:
1. Be filled with down. Goose is better than duck. 2. Have a collar (but not a hood) 3. Have some sort of elastic, whether it's the armholes or the waist. Both is better.
Here are a few for your consideration.
Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest. $49.99.
If you are merely puffer vest-curious and want to see if they're for you, by far the best gateway is Uniqlo's Ultra Light Down Vest. At just 50 bucks there is no better overall value. Uniqlo fits true to size but this is cut larger. Size one down. Gamefacing like the model is not allowed. Hey kid, you're in a $50 vest.
Aspesi Slim RE Down Gilet. $312 (from $520).
If we had to pick one puffer vest, this is it. Minimal, oozes quality, and has all the features: goose down, adjustable elastic hem, lycra armholes, zip pockets, and an interior zip pocket. Probably because Aspesi is based just a few miles from the Alps, these are packed with feathers and target US cocktail zone 5 and higher. If you are in a warmer cocktail zone it's likely overkill. Has long since replaced Duvetica as our top pick. Aspesi vests fit true to size.
Polo Packable Water-Repellent Down Vest. $169.
We're not normally one for logos but this polo player is retro, iconic, and lacks legibility. A better choice for warmer cocktail zones — or traveling to them — as it's lightweight enough to pack into itself. What's with the gamefacing? Again, not allowed, even at $169. Polo is a shade big. For our Polo puffer vests we go one size down.
We've been looking for something like this since we grew out of Moon Boots 30 years ago, and Rossignol has nailed it with these lightweight, sporty, sneakerized après ski booties.
For those of us in Climate/Cocktail Zone 6, they fill the stylish foul-weather footwear chasm that exists between 6" of snow — when we pull out the Sorel Pacs — and a mere dusting. In fact, we like these so much they're an instant MBHOF candidate, paired here with current MBHOF member, the Makers and Riders M1Z jeans.
This is our outdoor uniform for the next 6 months (including après ski).
NB: These run really small. Order at least 1 size up, and if you're borderline, 1.5.
UPDATE 12/23/2021: Days after this post Rossignol went out of stock on most sizes (and there weren't a lot of options at other retailers). We emailed customer service and over a month later got a response: "We will not be receiving more of the Après Ski boot for this season, but will have them again next season with some new colorways." We'll post about these again when they become available, right after we purchase lifetime supplies.
In 2016 we made an unimpeachable case that Donald Trump won the GOP nomination primarily because voters were raging against establishment casual and casting ballots against anyone wearing a zip mock neck sweater.
That Republican Glenn Youngkin won a blue-state gubernatorial race clad in a fleece vest means that L.L. Bean is again a safe space for 2024 GOP hopefuls.
We predict that Donald Trump — ever the follower — will soon appear in meekly-rolled sleeves, a yellow Ashli Babbitt cause bracelet, and zippered fleece of some kind.
Next week: How to pick a vest that doesn't make you look like Glenn Youngkin.
Q: Hey Bastards: I have a good friend whose springtime wedding this year was postponed and is now set for October. Granted, we're in southern California, so the elements won't really be a factor, but what does one wear to autumnal nuptials? Dress code is semi-formal, so I intend to wear a suit, but I don't want to go in brown tweed and look like an elbow-patched professor... or do I? Thanks. —Joe
A: Joe, we know you asked this in early Q2. Hope our reply isn't too late!
Whenever we see anything about dress code, we immediately recall "The X Way Out" chapter of Paul Fussell's Class. (Becoming an X person, Fussell argues, is the only escape from class.)
... X people tend to dress for themselves alone, which means they dress comfortably, and generally "down." One degree down will usually do the trick: if black tie is designated an X person appears in a dark suit (of a distinctly unstylish, archaic cut) and a notable necktie. If suits are expected, he omits the tie. If "informal" is the proclaimed style, his jeans will be torn and patched, his cords very used, if not soiled. If others are wearing bathing suits, X people are likely to show up naked.
As aspiring Xers, we'd probably show up in 5-pocket white pants, an unpressed point-collar shirt with an askew tie, velvet blazer, and some sort of sneakerized footwear. Basically the MB mandeer.
But if you insist on a suit, we recommend one that looks vaguely semi-formal when together, but when separated become casual pieces you can wear day-in and day-out. And also throw in the wash.
Something like this Boglioli fine-wale corduroy suit is exactly what we're talking about. The day after the wedding you can nurse your hangover at brunch in the pants and a $10 t-shirt, and at night pair the patch-pocket jacket (i.e. blazer) with shorts or denim or anything to finally cure the hangover with more alcohol.
If you insist on a tie, our own Italian Tickler would be a fun contrasting texture-on-texture play. It's also notable.
Thanks for using the proper form of "whose," and have a great time.
Maybe it's a little too MB Bold Play for most, or maybe it's just really ugly to most, but over the past year it's stayed in stock and has gone from merely aspirational to MB Deal of the Week. Here's its journey:
As for the scarf itself? About what you would expect from Gucci: fantastic.
Q: I love your site, why did I come so late to the party?? Just watched the movie Patton and watch George C. Scott exclaim about Rommel, "You magnificent bastard, I read your book!!!" as he bombed the shit out of his tank procession.
But now...I need more content!!
What is my question....hmmm....
Is it ever ok to flirt a little with your wife's sister?
A: In response to your very good question, we first started developing a complex algorithm involving objective attractiveness differential between wife and sister; flirter's degree of flirting prowess; time and geo-location, presence of alcohol and/or other intoxicants; and whether or not Mike Pence's wife is on-hand to chaperone or not.
Then we realized: If you're asking us, you think there could be a problem. Which means there will be a problem.
Thus, our answer is relatively simple: The only time it's okay to flirt with your wife's sister is if you're already sleeping with your wife's mother. In that scenario, some well-played misdirection is highly advisable. In all other instances, you're just asking for trouble.
It's almost as though they've unleashed a dangerous and virulent toolbag variant. We've seen golfers at the club playing with them and having conversations while they're hitting a shot. We're not making this up.
As for a recommendation, perhaps our favorite purchase of 2021 are the Sony WH-1000XM4s. Your music and podcasts will sound terrific in them, but what you'll love most is the noise-cancelling technology that turns off the cacophony: the airplanes, the leaf blowers, the neighbor's dog, the kids across the street screaming "Lemonade!", and most importantly: that fucking guy on a call with AirPods.
Dear Bastards: I've been learning from you for a decade now and finally have reached a level of success as a professor. Being the classy gent I am, I would like to finally get a luxury watch of my middle class dreams. My dream is the IWC Portuguese Chronograph — a thing of refined beauty and taste. My only issue is that the case is 41mm and is 1mm too large. Given the pedigree of this brand and line of watch, can the 1mm be excused?
A: Glenn: Thanks for being a reader for a decade. That's deeper loyalty than shown by some of the people behind this site!
Regarding your request for dispensation to break the 40mm watch rule, there is precedent as we waived it back in 2018 for a reader who is 6' 5" and 350 lbs (and also for Kim Jong-Un).
Take our simple test: wrap one hand around the other wrist. If your thumb and middle finger overlap or touch, abide by the rule. If they don't, go ahead and enlarge your watch diameter 1mm for every 1cm of gap (46mm max).
As for this specific watch, to our eyes 41mm is slightly overwhelming the wrist of the IWC hand model, who, we're betting, can touch finger to thumb. We much prefer the understated watch/wrist proportions on James Bond and Q, or Phil Mickelson as he hoisted the Wanamaker trophy on Sunday with a 39mm Rolex Cellini.
Let us know what you end up doing, and congrats on being able to afford a watch that's more than the per capita GDP of Brazil.
Last week Canali announced the arrival of the "shacket," the sartorial fusion of a shirt and a jacket into a single piece of clothing.
While "brunch," "spork," and even "throuple" have nothing to worry about anytime soon, their new proprietary portmanteau does more efficiently describe, for the most part, an MB must-have: a slim-fitting, unstructured, unlined blazer with patch pockets, made of organic materials.
Key benefits include:
Quickly dresses up any outfit — but not too much — without looking like you TTH
More often than not, you can safely disregard any care instructions and simply throw it in the wash with your boxers
Since it comes out of the laundry, there's integrated artful dishevelment
Here in Cocktail Zone 6 it still feels completely natural — even obligatory — to be holding brown liquor as we sit next to the fire while we hunt for style on YOOX and add finds to our price tracking app (still in early beta).
But soon, when the crabgrass emerges in our lawns and evening lows stay above freezing, we'll pivot to clear.
For at least the past decade the first clear cocktail out of the chute has been the ridiculously delicious Last Word. The only "problem" is it's packed with booze. Our doctors recently conferred and it turns out that an average of 49 drinks per week, per person is too many.
Enter another Prohibition-era cocktail that doesn't make you blind (at least not immediately): the Ranier Dog.
We discovered this one on a recent road trip to The Nation's Icebox and a stay at the outstanding Cantilever Hotel in Ranier, MN. We tweak the bar's original recipe slightly with a little less gin (doctors' orders), a little less simple syrup (fatness), and balance the volume with a little more juice. Like the Last Word, it's a cheerful palette powerwash that echoes what Mother Nature does to the outdoors this time every year, and hints at all the seasonal awesomeness that's just days away.
Ranier Dog (original recipe)
2 oz. Juniperus Gin
3 oz. grapefruit juice
1.5 oz. lime juice
1.5 oz. simple syrup
Mix the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake a couple of times and pour over ice into a salted 16 oz. glass. If you have any limes left over, garnish with a robust wedge, sparing any heavily-salted zone.
Editor's Note: We are so passionate about pairing cocktails with the weather we built an app for the purpose. Check out your location's Pourcast and let us know what you think.
Since our last rant three years ago, golf shoe style has deteriorated even more precipitously than our distance off the tee. The April 2021 issue of Golf Digest features not one, but two pages of their picks for shoes only Dylan Frittelli should wear.
Acceptable alternatives are about as rare as salads are for Ian Woosnam, but here are a couple of options we like (for the most part).
Puma's golf shoe designs get weirder every year. This season there's a model better-suited for a domestic terrorist attack than a round of golf. Fortunately they continue to produce the OG, which is basically a waterproof Clyde with nubs on the sole. We're stocking up while we still can.
These are more than 2x the price of the Pumas, but we love the saddle styling of our dads' spiked shoes, and G/Fore golf shoes are famously comfortable. There is one caveat: there's a skull in the insole. In lieu of some Dr. Scholl's, this can be just between you and your club's locker room attendant. "Porterhouse!"
Pre-pandemic, the vast majority of our bike miles were strictly utilitarian: getting from home to the office and back in a small fleet of cargo bikes and rugged, studded-tire-clad winter beaters. The remaining miles were pleasure rides: going to the liquor store and back.
While we still occasionally fake-commute, COVID-19 has made most rides for fun, and made us rediscover the joy of going fast on minimalist vintage steel road bikes (Principle of Archaism). This year we're completing the look and going full-on Breaking Away (with the addition of a helmet and a 25% higher BMI):
1.De Marchi Classic Merino Shorts (Principle of Organic Materials)
While they're a tad long — even classic Italian brands are not immune to decades of shorts' expanding inseams — it's nothing our tailor can't adjust (and remove the branding while he's at it). The "Elastic Interface Endurance" pad adds comfort for the longer rides, even if you draft off a semi for a segment.
2.EGi Merino Wool Tank Top (Principle of Organic Materials)
Ever hear of EGi? Us either. We took a flier on this Italian-made tank and we're getting more. Slim-fitting yet stretchy, seamless, super comfy. Cheap. Runs one size small.
3.De Marchi Classic Leather Gloves (Principle of Organic Materials)
Almost a perfect late-'70s period match, top-notch Italian craftsmanship, and like the shorts, padding where you need it.
4.Puma Speedcat Sparco Suede Low-Top Sneakers
We've written extensively about the sneakerization of just about all footwear, but unfortunately road cycling shoes remain largely unaffected. So we've turned the Puma Speedcat into a cycling shoe, and so far, so good. They're light, have a low profile, and rigid sole for good pedaling power. Puma runs one size small. If you have any other strong suggestions please drop us a note.
A: As we said back in 2011, Al Davis probably took the sure answer to the suspected Vuarnet/Mikli sunglasses to his grave, and perhaps he did with these, too.
But we have a strong suspicion they are the Rodenstock Bristol: a distinctive navigator style frame with a tightly-spaced double bridge, ful-vue mounted temples (i.e. mounted high vs. center mount), and tapered frame bottoms.
Did we sell you? It turns out that Allyn Scura — the official eyewear provider to Magnificent Bastard — has one pair left. $85. Email them if you're interested.
While you're at it, make an MB Bold Play and pick up a pair of the Rodenstock Roccos, the most famed Rodenstock frame. If you don't think you can pull these off as eyewear, try them as sunglasses.
Finally, we've had a bunch of people asking about the Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Contest, and it's living up to its official name as the Kind-Of-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear contest, as we've been busy cutting timber. We'll be back in February 2022 with our most challenging Challenge yet!
4. Pro Mark 9-Layer Apron Chaps. When you're 30 miles from the nearest hospital, the last thing you need is to rip open your femoral artery. These chaps' 9 layers of cut-retardant material can prevent that, have a handy front pocket, and add an additional layer of warmth.
5. Wells Lamont Winter Weather Work Gloves. We've been through a bunch of winter work gloves and these are the warmest, most rugged we've found. 4.5/5 at Amazon with over 1000 reviews. Runs about 2 sizes small (that's the reason for most of the negative reviews). Made in Ethiopia!
6. Carolina Steel Toe Work Boots (Model CA7503). Red Wing gets all the glory, but for actual work Carolina is better. Great for all sorts of labor beyond lumberjacking, especially when your toes are at risk from being crushed or cut off. Made in USA (and they never let you forget it). Carolina runs one size small.
7. Stihl MS 261 C-M. If there is a single piece of advice you take away from this site — besides, say, proper sleeve-rolling technique — it's this: never, ever buy any hardware or tools or machinery labeled "homeowner." Or even "farm & ranch." Always buy pro gear. It's more but always less expensive. This Stihl saw is light and powerful and could last your lifetime.
Longtime readers will note that we've often argued against legible clothing and for organic materials since our founding in 2007, but we're confessing to breaking both rules when it comes to these hats. (And after all, they're officially accessories.) Why? It's simple: They look so fucking groovy. Here are four we have worn during Zoom calls this winter:
Q: As a young activist/Marxist revolutionary in the Philippines, what's the best way to look good on the streets while still ready to take down an oppressive government?
A: We suspect even a hint of New People's Army garb — a Mao cap with a red star, or green shirt — will get you jailed, or worse.
Our first thought was an updated Mao suit jacket — something like this — that Duterte's goons wouldn't pick up on, but would wink to the intellectual class that you're on the same team, and allow you to literally wear on your sleeve the Four Virtues its four pockets represent: propriety, justice, honesty, and a sense of shame.
But that thought didn't last long, once we remembered the Philippines is tropical. While we fully support your cause, if uniting the workers of the world means having to wear a buttoned-up wool suit jacket in 75°F dew points, we're out, and cannot recommend it for you.
Here's what we came up with instead, along with our rationale:
The shirt is climate-appropriate, foremost, with faint echoes of the Mao suit's utilitarianism and militarism. The shorts support the top, sharing the same elastane content and slim cut. And the shoes, while maybe not strictly proletarian, is an application of our high-low approach to outfits (and more importantly, they're comfortable on the streets). Finally, everything is black, which not only fulfills on the Maoist monochromatism maxim, is also practical when trying to slip out, undetected, to the nearest NPA camp.
Be smart, James. Stay safe. We wish you the best of luck.
After unboxing these tonight, we're ashamed to even admit we've previously used aluminum poles.
Handmade by a small shop in Steamboat Springs, they almost entirely fulfill on the MB "organic materials" principle, not just with the 'boo of course, but also the rubber grips. And they're covered with a marine-grade coating that looks rugged enough to withstand a yard sale at the annual Big Sky Pond Skim.
There's only one incongruous detail keeping these out of our HOF: the recycled polyester straps. But to MB-mod these all you need is a Phillips screwdriver, boxcutter, hole punch, and your favorite 5oz. leather. We used some brown Horween Chromexcel scraps leftover from our wallet production that turned out great.
Due to Covid-related supply delays they are 2 weeks out. So plan ahead and be ready for the first big dump.
Tip: Allyn Scura has a cache of Ray-Ban "Caravan" frames in both cable and standard temples in a variety of sizes. They’re so bad assed that they'll make anyone look like a tin-pot dictator. I bought 5 pairs. I suspect that should last the rest of my life. —Ben
Thanks for the tip. A few thoughts:
1. We fully endorse binge-buying and hoarding lifetime supplies of great gear. You never know when something you love is discontinued, permanently out of stock, or the company that makes it goes brown. And if you die before your inventory runs out, you'll leave your progeny something of value beyond great genes: tons of cool shit that will serve as mementos ... or as inventory for a killer eBay store.
2. While you may have dented Allyn Scura's Ray-Ban Caravan inventory, we're told there is still a cache of all the other Ray-Ban styles on their site. According to AS — eyewear supplier to the Fargo and Elvis productions — vintage Ray-Bans are making a comeback, as well as vintage Carrera, and Faosa.
3. We're not sure Caravans are the right frame for the tin-pot dictator look. All we could think of was Manual Noriega, and we're not sure they're Caravans. Tin-pot dictators tend to gravitate towards more bold, slightly more angular frames:
Q: What do you think about Vuarnet sunglasses? Back in the day I skied with a pair of 002 Cateyes and no helmet. I've noticed they're on the scene again, but the rest of the Vuarnet collection is kicking off a Thermonuclear Toolbag Oakley vibe. Think pairing a tortoise shell Vuarnet 02 with Alps and Meters Alpine Winter Trousers and Anorak. Do you sanction the re-released 02? —Dan
These genuine vintage frames satisfy the MB principle of archaism, and will also save you 110 bucks. You'll need it if you decide to get into that Alps and Meters gear.
Thanks a lot for the tip on A&M, BTW. While the anorak ($695) is not up our alley for skiing — a hood/helmet combo has never worked for us — those alpine winter trousers ($725) look fantastic. Wool-blend herringbone with leather leg paneling are a great way to stand apart from the nylon and polyester-clad hoi polloi.
The result? Gaping holes has been blown open in our once-deep roster of $11 New Look and ASOS polos.
Two events to the rescue:
1. J. Crew's Bankruptcy
When J. Crew announced their bankruptcy in early May it sounded like they planned on keeping some stores open. Now it feels like EVERYTHING MUST GO.
Unfortunately even at 60 or 70% off, there's not much worth buying at the flagship, which perhaps explains their predicament. But at J. Crew Factory we've been watching the price of their excellent washed jersey polo go from $12.95 to $11.80 to $11.50 in just the last 3 days. By the time you read this they could be 10 bucks. It's ASOS price territory and these are better. Fits true to size.
2. Lacoste's Summer Sale
A Lacoste polo is going to run you $89.50. That's justthe price. That is until Lacoste has a summer sale and marks their iconic shirts down 30%. At $61.99 it's less than most eBay counterfeit versions from Hong Kong. As you likely know if you're reading this, fits one size small.
Since we reviewed seven custom shirtmakers a decade ago, a bunch of others have offered free shirts for an evaluation, and because it takes us getting up from the sofa, we've always said no.
But when Apposta asked us to have a look we changed our tune, primarily because their shirts are made in Italy. Where possible, this is where MBs want their clothing (and shoes) to be made. It's a default setting like getting forged blades from Japan, Scotch from Islay, or pump-action shotguns from here in America.
The shirtmakers we originally reviewed all outsourced their manufacturing to Thailand, Hong Kong, Honduras, China, and Vietnam. Proper Cloth, now one of the most popular online shirtmakers, has their shirts made in Malaysia. We're not saying some great shirts cannot be made in these places — especially Hong Kong — but we are saying that shirts made in Italy are likely just going to be better.
This was the case with the Apposta shirt. Probably because the fabric came from an Italian mill, the buttons were Australian mother of pearl, and the stitching and fit are both just very ... Italiany. While Apposta doesn't offer our preferred sewn collar, they do have an option of a "soft" collar that approximates unfused, to allow for maximum sprezzatura (that's Italian for artful dishevelment).
To top it off — and recalled the memorable touches of ordering from a well-known Italian fashion house — is the shipment came with an ear-loop mask made from the shirt fabric. Magnifico! Just don't pair with the shirt (too strong of a Garanimals vibe), or put it on while trying to buy a pump-action shotgun from a West Palm Beach gun shop (at least without an appointment).
Q: Greetings from Helsinki, Finland, and congratulations to you and the American people for the successful Nasa/Space X Beta-2 mission. It was an impressive show. It's a shame that the outfits were such a distraction. ISS commander Cassidy in cargo shorts and white socks. Your take? —JF
Yes, even in 2001: A Space Odyssey — Stanley Kubrick's disturbing vision of space travel — he never imagined anything as dark as astronauts in knee-length cargo shorts.
Getting into minimalist casual golfing lately. Find myself loving the game even more. Been using Driver, Hybrid, 5 iron, 8 iron, 50, 56, 60, and putter. What’s your set looking like these days? — Jack
A: Jack, depending on the size of your bag, with only 8 clubs they could each follow CDC social distancing guidelines. Very responsible!
Glad you're loving the game more than ever, but without a 3-iron how do you punch out from the woods? Or keep something beneath branches? We'd be lost without it.
Anyhow, to answer your question, here's what's in the bag, with occasional tasting notes:
Driver: Cleveland Classic 8.5°
Before Cleveland temporarily stopped making drivers in 2014, their masterpiece was the Cleveland Classic, the closest titanium has ever come to persimmon. You can still track this down on eBay.
3-wood: Titleist 906F2 15°
3-PW: Mizuno MP-18
We're Mizuno forged blade connoisseurs and this is the best set they've ever created. Almost too beautiful to actually use. Now that they're onto the not-as-good MP-20s, you can find them for ~$600.
52, 56, 60: Titleist Vokey Spin Milled
Putter: Ping Anser 3
Every year a bunch of goofy putters appear on the market, get Golf Digest gold listed, and disappear about as fast. We just stick with an icon, understanding that there is no $300 fix for pulls, pushes, the yips, and leaving anything low.
We've binged McMillions, Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 10), Wild Wild Country, Lorena, Chernobyl, Ozark (Season 3), How To Fix a Drug Scandal, and the 2010 Green Bay Packer season.
But these were mere sprints. We've embarked on a marathon: the complete Bob Ross oeuvre. 31 seasons. 13 episodes each. By our math that works out to roughly 200 hours of happy clouds, friendly trees, and mistakes happy accidents.
One thing we were not expecting to see: Bob Ross in designer jeans. Season 4, Episode 6, at 20:29. Warm Summer Day.
Just to show you how much coronavirus has upended the universe, we're hoping the 150,000 masks that Brooks Brothers is planning to produce on a daily basis are all their synthetic narrowly-tailored Soho Fit. In the midst of a pandemic (but only in the midst of a pandemic), artful dishevelment must take a backseat to epidemiology.
2 oz scotch
1 oz sweet vermouth
dash of bitters (your choice, your mood)
Fill rocks glass with ice. Pour in scotch, vermouth, bitters. Stir. Garnish, if you must, with a lemon twist.