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.
Now that the traditional handshake is on hold and the elbow bump is in (except for the most aggressively ignorant buffoons), here's how we suggest you do it:
Make it firm. — We're not talking the force of an NFL forearm bash or that of roided-up '90s MLB power hitters, but pressure should be applied. A mere elbow tap is the handshake equivalent of a wet dishrag.
Eyes. Always the eyes. — Once your elbows have embraced, look the other person directly in the eye. If he reciprocates, you know you've found a man you can do business with. If not, he's probably a crook.
We've been admiring (and desiring) Rhude since we first laid eyes on their Traxedo Pant, but at price tag exceeding the per-capita income of most of sub-Saharan Africa, haven't been able to pull the trigger.
Rhude's collaboration with Puma made access to a touch of their style available at a fraction of the price, so we tried out the XTG Track Top and can endorse it (especially now that it's marked down to $79).
While the 59-41 fabric composition does challenge our organic materials principle, in the track jacket genre this is in the organic top 1%. And the blend serves a purpose: the poly keeps it from fading to charcoal gray, and the cotton mutes the shine so you don't look like a player at The Villages. Fits true to size.
We took a year off, but we're back with the 9th Kind-of-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge, sponsored by our all-time favorite eyewear and sunglass outfitter, Allyn Scura.
THE CHALLENGE: Identify the nine bespectacled or sunglassified MBs above and you will be entered to win a pair of Allyn Scura frames ($175 value) or a $125 credit you can apply toward any vintage frames Allyn Scura carries. It's up to you. And same as two years ago, we're adding a couple of MB sweeteners. The runner up gets a Magnificent Bastard tie of his/her choice and 3rd place gets a Secret Agent Belt.
To enter simply fill out the form located here with the names of the men pictured, and, in the event of a tie, what they all have in common. One entry per person. USA only. Good luck. The deadline for this contest is Friday, March 13 at midnight CST.
Q: Say you're wearing black shoes, blue jeans, and a white (or similarly neutral) button-up shirt. What belt are you wearing? Is it black? Does it have to be? —West
A: West, please refer to our super-scientific black shoe dressiness and belt blackness chart.
If you're at Point A, with something heeled and hard-soled that needs polishing, belt blackness requirements are high. (Also at Point A, with the outfit you described, you are in the Blazer Zone. See our blazer channel for tons of tips.)
As you move down the y-axis into sneakerized dress shoes (Point B), belt blackness drops precipitously. If we were wearing the Prada Spazzolato Leather Penny Loafers shown above, we'd feel completely comfortable in our 300-Year Sterling Silver High Plains Noir belt, which is MB longhand for "very dark brown."
Finally, further down the scale into sneakers (Point C), the belt blackness spec is loosened almost completely, sort of like traveling in the NBA. Here we'd be in a sport belt (like our own SAB) and, yes, even brown.
Next time you put on black shoes, apply the chart, and let us know what you think.
We've had one at the MB office even before we launched this site in 2007, and nothing has sparked as much joy, curiosity, conversation, and flat-out wonder, as the Geochron.
Also, at a glance you can see what time it is in Kuala Lumpur and whether the sun is above or below the horizon.
They start at around 2 grand, and while that's the equivalent of ~23 pairs of fur-lined gloves (at current sale pricing), the Geochron is the rarest of things: an electronic heirloom that will make your descendants happy, keep time for them, and accurately display global sunrise and sunset in real time as long as Earth's axis remains tilted at 23.5°.
Through December 19th they're 15% off with the code HOLIDAY15.
Q: Just found myself in possession of a 10 year old 911 convertible. The problem: lots of sun exposure, even here in northern CA. So I need a hat. No point in having a car like this and dying of skin cancer. So what do you think? The straw fedora seems dated, and with no small douche factor. Ball caps seem too casual. Sombreros have great coverage, but... cowboy hat? —Chris
But we recommend against wearing a hat. Thomas Magnum P.I.'d at 21° N — compared to your less UV-intense NorCal ~36° N — and he rarely donned the Tigers cap behind the wheel of Robin Masters' 308 GTS. Why? We believe it's because he (and Rick) knew: there is no better hair stylist on earth than Mother Nature.
What you need instead is some good face protection. For jaunts you'll be fine with our previously-endorsed Verso #2 Day Cream. Fantastic stuff. Need to make a run for the border? Quick, throw a sombrero in the trunk and put on some Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Face Liquid. Unscented, non-staining, 50 SPF. We agree with the reviewer who says it's the "Holy Grail of sunscreen."
Thanks for the question, and enjoy the many good hair days that lie ahead.
Q: I just bought tickets to The Nutcracker for December 6th in Minneapolis. What would a Magnificent Bastard wear to a ballet? I have a new grey cashmere turtleneck by 8, I want to wear if possible. —David
A: David, glad to hear you're into an 8 cashmere turtleneck. 6 years after our original recommendation, we still have a strong buy rating on this item, and it's definitely on the ballot for the forthcoming MB HOF.
To complete the outfit, consider:
1. PANTS: Makers & Riders Travelers Jean in Coal. $89. A few weeks ago we said we'd try these and we're glad we did. They're not just stretchy (6% spandex) but also remarkably flexible: we cannot think of an activity or event where they wouldn't feel right, including The Nutcracker. Owner Chris Ontiveros is closing down Makers & Riders so get these before he shutters, or we sell him out. (Seriously, we're buying enough of these to last 50 years.) Use the code MR15 for 15% off. NB: These are vanity-sized by a full 2 inches.
2. BLAZER: 8 by YOOX in Glen Plaid. $179.
8 provides such great value there was panic last year when YOOX pulled all things 8 from their site. But just a few months later the brand was reincarnated as "8 by YOOX" — finally owning up to its corporate ownership — and it's better than ever. Their blazers are fantastic and check all the boxes: a modern fit, meaty lapels, and functioning buttonholes. This Glen plaid version is just $179. NB: Unlike everything else 8, the blazers run small. Order one size up, and if you're between, two.
3. SHOES: Pantofola d'Oro Brown Wing-Tips. $185.
Longtime readers know we've been fully sneakerized. But we respect those who are still dipping their toes into it, which is why we're suggesting these wing-tipped training wheels. NB: In the Italian style, PdO runs one size small.
4. FLASK: Wentworth Pewter 6 oz. Flask. ~$68.09.
Our live events involve lots of tequila shots, vodka Red Bulls, and overly-aggressive pat-downs. We're betting The Orpheum has none of those, and you may need help getting through the 2nd act. Will fit inconspicuously into the blazer's inside pocket; plus, Anglophilia.
We've written about these fantastic gloves four times over the past dozen years (which is a lot since we post about quarterly). When we get around to publishing the MB Hall of Fame they'll be an original member. And now, thanks to a price-drop notification from our price-tracking app (still in alpha) they're just $85.95. Since 2012 we haven't paid a dime less than $125. Buy them; you'll love them.
If, like at least one reader, you're concerned about whether rabbits have suffered in these gloves' production, they have. But if it makes you feel any better, we learned from Fratelli Orsini they provide Gauls nutritional value before being turned into ridiculously luxe and cozy glove lining: "...the rabbit fur comes from either France or Belgium where rabbits are used as a food source and therefore the pelts are used for gloves and other garments."
There is plenty of inventory still available on both pants, and you can take an additional 15% off with discount code MR15. We're loading up on them, and also going to give the M1Z snowboarding pant and the 4-season wool jeans a shot.
To highlight what a great deal this is, the Dispatch jean is now priced at $89, and with the 15% discount just $75.65. When we first discovered these pants in 2016 they were $189, and worth it.
As for sizing, these are vanity sized by an inch, so adjust accordingly.
As recently as May Corey Lewandowski sported a sort-of-normally-sized flag pin. Yesterday in front of Congress he literally doubled down, and this new pin's weight is affecting his posture and spine angle. Ease up on the patriotism, Cory! Your health depends on it!
DEAL 1: In our MB Build series from earlier this year, we bought the client four shirts. His favorite was the white NOS Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs we had in our warehouse for over a decade. But a close 2nd was a Brooks Brothers plaid from YOOX. We got the last one in February, but it's back in stock in several sizes and just $59. Fits true to size.
DEAL 2: Later, when we bought our MB Build client shoes, one pair he threw back was these Alexander Smith tennies. His loss was our gain, as we kept them, and have since become huge Alexander Smith fans. Quirky and different in an authentically British way — as opposed to Boris Johnson's TTH way — this brand is our most important discovery of 2019. Once $229, they're just $52, and while we're unapologetic Anglophiles, we'd punt the lot you'll like them as much as we do. Fits true to size.
Like most people who don't live in Oregon — and probably most who do — we don't pay a lot of attention to Oregon politics. But Brian Boquist, the Republican state senator who recently persuaded 11 of his GOP colleagues to desert their home state and go underground in Idaho to avoid voting on a climate change bill, has caught our eye.
Boquist's behavior is simply unconscionable — and of course we're talking about his alarming allegiance to mock turtlenecks.
Obviously, Mr. Boquist is a bad legislator and a bad human being. But what does it say about our own humanity if we don't intervene in such an extreme case? Must one see eye-to-eye on everything — or anything — to be the beneficiary of sound menswear advice? Maybe if Mr. Boquist didn't look like such a toolbag all the time he wouldn't act like such a toolbag all the time. If there's anything we still believe in strongly after all these years, it's that clothes make the man.
And let's face it. When co2 levels cross the 450 ppm threshold, even Mr. Woods is going to have to ditch his mock on those really hot January nights.
Thus, in an act of mercy and bi-partTIEsanship, we are reaching out to Mr. Boquist and offering him a lifetime supply of ties. All he has to do is supply the shirts, vote when he's supposed to vote, and not threaten any state troopers.
Now, these purchases might be seen as shameless Trumpian self-dealing, but this belt so special it was our client who insisted on getting one of each. We set out to build a daily-wearer that could dress up or down, with a luxe touch in the form of a sterling silver buckle. They also exude a rugged character, are incredibly durable, and are yet surprisingly soft to the touch ... sometimes when we start rhapsodizing about these belts, we're not sure if we're talking about them or Clint Eastwood's face.
The tie is no slouch, either. In fact, as the name suggests, it's one thick, rich, meaty tie. Honestly, the wool here is practically blanket-weight. If you are dating a supermodel she might be tempted to use the Ragu di Carne as a throw when she cozies up on your couch, so be careful where you leave it lying around. The Ragu di Carne's fabric comes from a mill in Biella, Italy, and is transformed into the tie you see here by our favorite multi-generational tie-making concern in Queens.
If our math is right, we've spent just $911 of someone else's money (from a $2K budget), creating 64 wardrobe combinations for our client (Dave) to wear before a repeat. Considering days off for Thanksgiving and XMAS/NY, that about covers an entire F/W workday season!
This economization was intentional, so we can go apeshit on shoes. They're the most important element of style, and even in our post-dress shoe, sneakerized world the cliche holds: shoes make the man. Additionally, according to research done by Allen Edmunds, they also make it easier to get a date.
1.Pantofola d'Oro Suede Sneakers. $213.
PdO has been making shoes in central Italy since 1886 and made understated sneakers for years before Common Projects and their copycats came on the scene. This minimal grey suede version works very well with the uniform.
You may recall the client's creative brief called for an "urban landed gentry" look. That sort of went out the window when he settled on Levi's 505s, but we gave it a nod with the purchase of these made-in-the-UK Alexander Smith sneakers. They turned out to be a wee bit too adventurous for our client, so we kept them. Now we're investing more of our own budget into Alexander Smith.
As noted above, $911 has been spent on clothes, and now $683 on shoes, bringing the total to $1594, including all shipping and returns. That leaves us with $406 for accessories, which are the last part of the build, and is coming up next.
This is where we're at, and likely what we recommend for you, too.
It fits beautifully with the uniform we're building for Dave (the client). See for yourself in the brand-new Dresserizer, the name we've given our one-touch getting-dressed app. (Still in early beta.)
We Threw This One Back
The reason we're buying F/W in S/S is to maximize bang for the buck. We got this $650 vicuna cashmere Lauren Ralph Lauren blazer for $140. It ended up being a little too trad for our look and the color didn't fully work with the uniform palette, but it might work in yours. Definitely worth consideration.
Budget Update: We've purchased enough pants/shirts/sweaters/blazers for 64 different wardrobe combinations (that mostly work) in the Dresserizer and spent less than a grand. That leaves more than a grand. Stay tuned for footwear!
Q: It's just topped 70 degrees and sunny in Seattle, which means" suns out, buns out" is in effect. It also means it's time for sunglasses. Currently, I'm using my father's vintage glacier glasses from the late 70s, with the leather side shades removed, but they're not prescription lenses and I'd like to have a less blurry world. What are your thoughts on sunglasses for those of us who wear prescriptions? Get Rx lenses in the sunglasses, go clip-on like Lennon, or just swap out our glasses as needed (in which case, what to do with the Rx specs while out in the sun)? —Brian
A: Indeed, if it's "buns out" clear vision is mandatory.
Long ago we wrestled with the same dilemma, first trying contact lenses plus regular sunglasses, then clip-ons, and finally settling on Rx sunglasses.
We recommend fast-forwarding directly to Rx sunglasses.
You didn't suggest contacts as an option — probably because you've worn them — and clip-ons are just too fussy and fragile and overall TTH. Also note that John Lennon is photographed wearing those clip-ons well into his Yoko Ono phase.
Anyhow, take your dad's old glacier glasses into Seattle's top-rated optician for Rx lenses and get their slimmest hard case. Swapping frames and dealing with a case is definitely not ideal, but we've found it's rarely an issue:
The number of times you're out and truly need both glasses and sunglasses are far fewer than you think.
In those situations there is often a puffer vest or jacket or blazer to slip it into without any trouble; surely it's a similar situation in Seattle as it is in Minneapolis.
Since we've fully embraced our own Minimum Viable Wallet technology there's now additional room in our pants, in a pinch.
Having convinced our client to adopt fairly slim-fit shirts and sweaters, we felt confident trying the same approach with pants. It didn't work out. Every attempt from MB favorites Dondup, Myths, Uniqlo, and AG made our client uncomfortable, either being too tight through the thigh, or leg opening, or both.
Low-rise, testicle-snugging, ankle-exposing Italian party pants apparently aren't for everyone. This revelation forced us to pivot.
Just as no one ever got fired for buying IBM, we're hopeful the same goes for buying Levi Strauss & Co. We tried several different fits from the 511 (way too aggressive) to the 514 to the 502, and those, too, were out of his comfort zone, so we retreated to the roomy-thigh high ground of the 505, the original Levi zip fly.
Are we happy about this? No. A strong case can be made we just got our client into dad-fit pants. But we purchased items he'll wear, and the colors and fabrics we chose help make the uniform work. (We will post the one-touch uniform dressing app next week.)
We Threw This One Back
These didn't make the cut, but Uniqlo's Ezy Jeans are the invention many men have been yearning for: stealth sweatpants. As one reviewer says, To the outside observer, they appear to be jeans, but on your body, they feel more like sweatpants."
Q: When will you release the Allyn Scura challenge? Huge fan!!
—Rob (and many others)
A: Hi Rob:
Well there's a reason we called it the Kind-of-Annual Allyn Scura Eyewear Challenge. This year we're busy getting aguydressed, developing some new products for fall, and putting the finishing touches on the MB golf bag.
But we already have a concept for the 2020 Challenge and will give you a head start on your entry by showing 3 of the 9 MBs. And don't forget the all-important tie-breaker question: What do they have in common?
See ya next February.
2 oz Plymouth gin
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1/8 oz crème de violette
Lightly shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lemon twist.