Q: I just found your site and I am pretty thrilled someone is finally calling out the rules. I am a big guy so I tend to pay attention as much as I can to look good. I have just accepted a new position as a director at a cool museum. One of the largest and most prominent. My co-workers dress well and I need a primer for what to buy as far as basics. I want to dash the old frumpy look of a security director and add the young flavor and style to compliment my new administration. —Phill
A: Congratulations on your new gig! Follow our advice, and you'll be on the path to a wardrobe that may even have your colleagues in Acquisitions & Accessioning looking to preserve for the edification and delight for future generations.
Since you said nothing about a budget for this endeavor, we suspect that's not a major concern or constraint for you. But since you're starting from scratch, and don't have a firmly established idea of what you'll like best or what works for you, we're going to steer you toward options that represent good values.
Our point: When you're starting out, you want the freedom to experiment, without worrying about potential sunk costs and buyer's remorse. Or to put it another way, when you start golfing, you shouldn't buy Pro V1s until you've reached the point where you are no longer sending multiple drives into the woods and water every round. Develop your swing, then step up to $6 golf balls.
Okay, that's enough context. Without further ado, here's the MB Sartorial System — Young Museum Director Version (Fall/Winter). See below for assembly instructions.
SUIT  charcoal grey
When you and the mayor cut the ribbon for that new Impressionist wing, you're going to want to wear a suit. As you may have read, we're big fans of two-button charcoal grey ones. And you're in luck because Century 21 (our new favorite site, right up there with YOOX) has this Ralph Lauren version, likely in your size and with functional buttonholes, for just $220. (15 bucks off with code JOINUS31 for purchases over $150.)
BLAZERS  1 velvet, 1 corduroy, 1 plaid
We've found this to be a winning combination of F/W textures to accompany the shirts and pants you'll see in a minute. Our go-to YOOX brand for value, 8, wants just $109 for their camel velvet version. (Choose one size up.) For the others, just make sure they meet our blazer requirements.
SWEATERS  1 v-neck, 1 cardigan (both merino)
For under one of those blazers or alone on Casual Friday, you're going to need a couple of sweaters. A brand we recently discovered — and love — that provides perhaps even stronger value that 8 is +U Plusultra. Yes, its name sounds like a condom brand created by a marketing AI optimized for redundancy. But their cardigans (again, likely in your size) are now just $46.
SHIRTS  1 white, 1 blue, 1 gingham, 1 plaid (all point collar)
Getting this right is key for a fully functional system. The white and blue shirts cannot have button-down collars, because you may use them with a tie (the gingham and plaid are fine with buttons). These days point collars are an endangered species, but hang in there and don't settle for a spread or cutaway that both fattens your face and will be at resale shops shortly. Century 21 has this Steven Alan plaid for a ridiculous $25 as a starting point.
PANTS  2 brushed/moleskin, 1 corduroy (all 5-pocket)
It doesn't take a very stable genius to recognize that regular trousers on a big guy can send you into Trump territory fast. But that's not the only reason to go the 5-pocket route. 5-pocket pants are also more comfortable and modern, and can easily be dressed up for your new role. While Bonobos' version is more expensive than most of what we're recommending here, its straightforward style and overall utility make it a very safe investment.
We're normally not ones to toot our own horn, but we have created a belt that is not only a work of art, but will work with every system combination herein, including the suit. It's the 300-Year Belt (either in Classic or High Plains Noir), with a sterling silver buckle handmade by Arizona-based artist Mary Daugherty. (Free Secret Agent Belt with purchase.)
OK, so maybe we are ones to toot our own horn. Both The Cosina Veloce and The Kakutani bring unique textures and a rakishness to the system on dress-up days. (Wear with both the white and blue shirts.)
SHOES  1 shiny, 1 matte (both sneakerized)
Perhaps the easiest way to dump frumpy security director is via footwear. We've rhapsodized often about shoe sneakerization, and for both pair recommend splurging on something in the Common Projects vein, like these Common Projects dark brown will work with everything but the suit.
So, not counting the suit separates or the ties, this system provides 60 different permutations of pants, shirts, and blazers/sweaters. Throw out the handful that don't jibe (like the corduroy pants and corduroy blazer) and you still have enough variety to keep you going until spring, when we can do this all over again. Thanks for the question. It was fun.
Q: I love your site and have been a reader for a while, but I don't think you have explicitly commented on this:
I know you like jacket lapel widths to be 3 1/8" or greater, but what is too wide (for 2017)? I recently purchased a great Lab. Pal Zileri jacket from YOOX and the lapels are pushing 3.5" inches. I wear a size 40 jacket, so the lapels end about half way between my collar and my shoulder. —Ben
A: As you suggest, our ideal lapel width is 3⅛ inches. If a jacket has lapels that are thinner than that, we're unforgiving: It must be released back to the wild. But if lapels come in a little wider than our ideal, we're more accommodating. The reason? Tom Ford expressed the principle that guides our thinking:
"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."
So exactly how much wider should you consider going?
That depends on how long you'd like to keep wearing the jacket in question. For us, 3⅛" is the golden mean that looks great in perpetuity. As our chart below shows, any deviation from that value, however small, decreases a garment's potential lifespan and puts its wearer at increased risk of future embarrassment and even shame.
At 3.5 inches, your jacket will continue to look good at least through 2025, and should not look violently out of fashion for far longer — provided, of course, Trump aide Stephen Miller does not stage a coup.
Q: How awesome is our new press secretary's sense of style? —Dave
A: Dave, we appreciate the hanging curveball. And yet... we're not quite ready to fire Sean Spicer. Why? Adaptability.
Yes, Donald Trump's new spokesman looks like a high-school wrestling coach crossed with a fire hydrant. Supergirl appears to tower over him, as does everyone else.) Plus, he's carrying at least 30 extra pounds, a combination that makes him resemble a slab of precast concrete. Clone him half a dozen times, and his boss's border wall would be nearly complete.
But while Spicer kicked off his career as Donald Trump's squattest spokesmodel ever with a meme-starting, career-threatening performance, we've also seen him make significant improvement in just one week. In light of this, we're withholding final judgment for now, and in the spirit of bipartisan style guidance, holding him up as an object lesson for all to learn from.
Let's break it down to date.
Day 0: Possibly the last man on earth who should be wearing a spread collar wore one. Then he paired it incorrectly with a four-in-hand knot and a jacket that engulfed him even more thoroughly than the XXL podium. If Spicer was trying to set the bar low, he succeeded. And yet even with this disastrous start there was a point of light: No stupid flag pin, or those other ugly lapel pins that Team Trump uses to indicate who shall be spared when the Purge begins.
Day 1: The ridiculously huge jacket gape is gone but the lapels are too narrow for his body shape and his tie. (Lapels and ties need to echo each other.) The spread collar has been replaced with something resembling a point. It's nothing we'd ever wear, but at least he now looks he could hold down the weekend anchor spot in a mid-sized market.
Day 2: He's starting to pull it together. Lapels and tie roughly match, and both are in a weight that matches his age and body type. Point collar + four-in-hand is proper. Okay, wait a second ... one step forward, and three steps back. The .50 caliber wedding ring is bad enough, and then a fucking jelly bean bracelet? We know it says "Dad" on it. But we're still assuming this is some kind of Fancy Bear hack and thus won't hold Mr. Spicer totally accountable.
Day 3: More of the same from Day 2. But the jacket fits and the proportions make sense.
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.
A: We could answer this very quickly, but this is important, so indulge us for a bit.
David Naman makes some of the highest style/price-ratio clothes in the world. But your assessment — "a little too thin" — is right on the nose. They are what we call "Keira Knightly thin." Which is to say, not alarmingly emaciated supermodel thin, but still a little narrow for our taste. We are longtime advocates of ties that are at least 3" wide, and lapels that echo them. For us, any blazer with a lapel narrower than 3" is catch-and-release.
More importantly, if you ever have a second thought about a sartorial purchase, follow a key MB principle and always return it, no matter what the price or savings. Keeping an item you're not thrilled with leads to regret, and regret — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but always inevitably — leads to a search for a red clothing dumpster that is not so overflowing with Dockers and Crocs that it can accommodate your cast-offs too. We cannot stress this enough: You can ultimately learn to adapt to the quirks, anomalies, and even deficiencies in other human beings, but your clothes and your shoes must be perfect. No compromises. When you compromise, you're stealing from yourself.
So are you going to return that blazer? Of course you are.
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:
Q: Want to get your expert opinion on a blazer I'm looking at for a summer wedding in a few days. It's between this Vineyard Vines version (I would not go as preppy as the guy in the picture), this one from Golden Goose, and finally this one from MM by Mariomatteo. What you say, o' Fashionistas? —Jamie
A: Let's break these down using a modified PMI Chart.
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.
We're always on the lookout for uncommon plaids to put into the rotation with ginghams under solid blazers, cardigans, and the rare crew. Throw in a point collar — which is practically on the endangered species list — and we're usually sold, even at full boat.
We've had our eyes on thesetwo Alex Mill examples for months, but based on the wide range of sizes available, wagered on waiting until Barney's Warehouse decided to blow them out, as they are now: originally $155, reduced to $47.40 with free shipping. All sales are final but these fit true to size.
On September 9, at 45° N, the wearing window for an unlined madras blazer is barely open wide enough for a mosquito to pass through. But if you are in lower latitudes, the southern hemisphere, or just want to prep for spring 2016, we recommend this Henry Cotton's slim fit version.
Because it is madras, yes, it is partially linen. But cotton retains a controlling 55% stake. Functional buttonholes. Proper ball-sack length. Perfectly proportioned lapels. Originally $309, marked down to $67, and with the 20% discount code FRIENDS this statement piece is just 53 bucks. (Order up a size, and if you're on the fence, two. Discount code valid through 9/13.)
Q: Let's say this spring/summer I find myself closing deals pool- or courtside and I'm wearing a tennis shirt and a blue blazer. Should the shirt be tucked or untucked? Any other thoughts on pulling this look off? —Aaron
As for the blazer, pairing it with a polo is already a high-low play so don't overdo it. Nothing that's too shiny or too padded, and nothing that looks like your suit has joined the sharing economy and is now renting out its jacket to schlubs who cannot afford a proper standalone blazer. Finally, a note on blazer length. As Leonardo da Vinci helped us demonstrate a few years back, a well-fitted blazer should never extend below your ball sack.
Bonus MB Tip: We own several polo shirts that are sometimes the most expensive thing we're wearing that day. But every wardrobe needs a strategic reserve of disposable white polos that are all but guaranteed to suffer a 100 percent casualty rate amidst the chaos of summer leisuring. This year we can highly recommend the ASOS house brand jersey polo. It's 18 bucks, has an athletic but not binding fit, and comes with free shipping and returns. To avoid the latter, order up one size.
We'd suggest giving one of thesetwo Hardy Aimes blue blazers a try. They're the requisite wool and slim-fit, have lapels with a BMI in the normal range, and being from Savile Row, fulfill our Principle of Anglophilia. And the best part? Until 11:59 EDT April 6 they're each about 80 bucks.
Forget 40 times, number of bench press reps, Wonderlic test scores, and hours of college tape. If you're an NFL General Manager and still debating between two players at the top of your draft board, let the number of buttons on their jacket be your guide.
If you scroll down the Kennedy-Nixon photo in your post so that only the suits are seen (removing the influence of the photogenic Kennedy and the smarmy Nixon), I think it is undeniable that the 3-button suit is more likely to belong to a higher-status individual than the 2-button. Nixon's 3-button could easily be a bank president, while Kennedy's 2-button (with Kennedy removed) could just as easily be the owner of a car dealership or the president of the local Rotary. Replace Kennedy's pocket square with a couple of cigars and you have Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack. Not so with the 3-button.
For the record, I am a committed 2-button man. It suits my build, I like the look, and I feel like James Bond when I'm fitted out in a British-silhouette 2-button. The 3-button has always reminded me of a lab coat. These personal distinctions may result from my early 1960s childhood, when the young and fashionable sported 2-buttons (such as Kennedy, later the Rat Pack) and old men and fuddy-duddies the 3s. But that was BF for me (Before Fussell, who, by the way, I have MB to thank for introducing me), and now I notice and interpret things differently. While I am not arguing Fussell's infallibility, I think the 'proleness' of the 2-button is evident in the way the V broadens the shoulders in the same way as (Fussell points out) do epaulettes, emphasizing strength and, thereby, physical labor. The 3-button wearer in the photo appears never to have done a day of physical labor in his life, and I believe that is the intent.
Even your example of Todd Palin works against your argument, I think: Palin is a physical laborer and could model a 2-button to advantage, yet he dresses (or is being styled) to appear higher-classed. (Forget Ahmadinejad, of course; he looks like he gets his clothes at a rummage sale.)
I am glad to finally get this off my mind, as I had been dwelling on it (and particularly because I had learned about Fussell through your site and have been greatly influenced by him). I have also long intended to write to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. And I absolutely love the new logo. Keep up the great work! —Paul
A: We welcome reasoned dissent from our readers and it's clear you've given this topic a lot of consideration — we especially admire how you use Fussell's observations regarding epaulettes against us! That hurts. But to continue the discourse, here is a thought: If a 2-button jacket is working correctly, it doesn't merely broaden the shoulders (as we agree epaulettes do). It reinforces the overall V-shape of one's torso, which is to say, it broadens the shoulders while narrowing the waist.
The sort of hard labor that creates this shape, in our experience, is many hours at the gym, many hours in the pool, or perhaps if you have very good genes and disciplined eating habits, many hours on fairways or polo fields. It is a look, in short, that comes from (moneyed) recreation rather than full-time bricklaying or ditch-digging, which tends to create a thicker, lumpier, less elongated look.
As for Todd Palin, we agree with your analysis — he no doubt turns to 3-button suits because Frank Luntz (or some other top-notch GOP campaign consultant) has determined through extensive focus-group testing that small-town conservatives of a certain age equate 3-button jackets with bankers, brokers, and other corporate nine-to-fivers maintaining the lower rungs of the top quintile.
But who, other than Todd Palin's wife, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie want to win that vote? Not us, and not you! As we think Fussell would agree, there's a difference between what a prole thinks an upper looks like, and what an upper looks like. In this case, the difference is as subtle as a single button. But as you have found out from your own experience, that single button (or lack of it) makes all the difference in the world. Keep wearing 2-button jackets, and keep challenging us to think more deeply about the choices we make. We appreciate the feedback!
But you already seem to know one of the big problems with that J. Crew blazer. Its lapels are so skinny they could have served as Matthew McConaughey's body double in Dallas Buyer's Club. We're also not crazy about its tint. The blue of Brûlé's jacket has a natural organic depth to it. The Crew version has a slightly electrified sheen that makes us think of Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell dancing the night away.
The overall impact? Even J. Crew's model is desperately trying to claw his way out of that Ludlow! Look at the poor guy's fingernails.
Our recommendation: Spend a little more than you were perhaps hoping to spend, and get into this blazer from Z Zegna — assuming it's the right size for you. If it's not, keep looking for something with wider lapels and a subtler shading. The gratification you feel when getting a great deal lasts for a moment. The gratification you get from wearing exactly what you want to be wearing lasts much longer.
We freely admit our knowledge of global affairs is limited. But Ukraine has us especially baffled. Based on this photo of Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine's Parliament appears to have a two-drink minimum. But no dress code?
As longtime champions of business casual, we love that tall tumbler of what we're interpreting as bourbon on the new Acting President's desk. But isn't there some provision in the Geneva Convention that says that when you're the leader of an entire country, you have to wear a tie to work?
Obviously, Mr Turchynov has a lot of things on his plate right now, and shopping for ties is not one of them. Which is why we're reaching out, in a gesture of global goodwill, and sending him a complimentary wool tie.
As the photos above document, a Leotardo is now on its way to Kiev.
Q: Amid the brouhaha about this year's US Olympic uniforms, I'm surprised no one's brought up the obvious complaint: they're hideous! Horrible berets, round collars, ugly ties, and jackets with distractingly enormous manufacturer logos... even the white trousers under stadium lighting will give us a good sense of who wears what underwear. Am I right about this, or just completely out of touch? —Vince
A: You are right (for the most part). The insane politicians who wanted to burn the Ralph Lauren uniforms because they were made in China should have instead wanted to burn the blazer because it's a too-short DB with peak lapels and brass buttons.
The beret is an odd choice. Maybe Lauren thought the games were in Paris instead of London.
Q: At what sort of events are blue blazers (the classic type with gold buttons) appropriate? I have a nice Polo blazer, but am sometimes unsure it's the right call. —Matt
A: We recommend this look only for scotch ads and sloop christenings.
Don't just stand there, get some glue!
We have been in your shoes — with exposed ankles, of course — with nice blue Polo blazers and strongly recommend jumping ship. Sure, you could replace the brass buttons with blue ones, but we suspect this garment has other problems like padded shoulders and a length hanging down below the bottom of your ball sack.
Instead, get into the modern navy blazer, which is deconstructed and shorter, like this one from Prada Sport at YOOX. It's made from resin-coated wool so it doesn't really wrinkle, and comes with a cool bag it easily folds into, so it's perfect for traveling. It's a great piece and it's on sale. Fits true to size.
Q: I am going to a summer wedding and want to wear my favorite blue seersucker pants and white shirt. What I'm not sure about is what style shoes should I wear and what color jacket would be best? Also should I wear a tie? If so what kind? —Sam
Q: Now that we're in sweater weather, what are the rules for wearing a sweater with a suit or sportcoat? —Dave
A: We only have one rule when it comes to sweaters under blazers: don't look like Gene Siskel or Roger Ebert (top).
Instead, go for something fine-gauge in crewneck as demonstrated by Robert Redford, or our personal preference, the turtleneck as shown by Steve McQueen most famously in Bullitt (bottom).
While we're pretty sure McQueen could handle wool against his skin, we suggest opting for cashmere. If you have the bread, Malo is the obvious, best choice. If you don't, take a look at 8, available at YOOX. We've obsess over cashmere sweaters and have discovered 8 is the best value going, and this version is on sale for just $135. Fits slightly small.
Q: What is the proper length for a sportcoat or suit (and should there be a difference?) in the modern era? In other words, where should it end relative to your torso? I have a variety of high-quality sportcoats and suits acquired over the years and have typically worn a 40L, to get the chest fit and sleeve length mostly (I'm 6'1" with long arms and 33 inch waist). But the length of the coats (top of collar to bottom) varies from 31 1/2" for an Armani sportcoat to 33 1/2 for a suit. I'm not interested in the Thom Browne look, nor do I want to look like I'm wearing grandpa's suit. Some of mine now feel dated due to this length. The coats I see on the guys which look like they fit the best seem to be shorter length — ending just at the bottom of the rump. Looking at the J. Crew Aldridge it seems that is where they should hit — although it's hard to tell from the model's slouching. What is your point of view on this issue? –Nick
A: Nick, we believe there is a perfect length for a blazer or suit jacket (no, there is no difference). To illustrate this, take a look at da Vinci's Vitruvian Man below. A jacket should end at the end of your nutbag — give or take a 1/4" — when tried at room temperature. This will obviously involve standing in front of a mirror with your pants down, so we don't recommend doing this in department stores with security cameras, fraternity houses, or the Congressional gym, unless you want to end up on the web some day.
Note: If your balls go for a swim when you sit down on the can, this method will not work for you.
Q: Dear MB — What are your thoughts on a suit that has patch pockets on the jacket? I'm considering a blue Margiela suit that I will wear for business, but it has patch pockets and I'm wondering if this is too casual? —George
A: No, not too casual unless you're a banker, undertaker, 13-year-old boy, or U.S. senator. (It's definitely OK in the House.)
We love suits with jackets with patch pockets for at least three reasons.
1. Casual suits lend themselves to artful dishevelment 2. Casual suits lend themselves to more interesting tie, belt, and footwear choices than their dressier counterparts 3. With the addition of a few other pieces you can practically get a whole wardrobe out of separating a casual suit
Wear the blazer with denim, or for an especially good look, white jeans or trousers. If you're really good, shorts. Presumably the suit pants are in a similarly casual vein as the jacket, so you'll be able to wear them with a sweater, a sport shirt, or even a polo. While it has its place in board rooms, Bar Mitzvahs, and the Capitol Building, the traditional flap-pocket wool suit can't touch this.
We are huge fans of Aaron Rodgers. He not only wins, he looks good doing it, with a laid-back but commanding presence on the field. When it comes to passing efficiency, he's the NFL's best ever for quarterbacks with at least 1500 attempts. But when it comes to dressing efficiency, he may trail even Ben Rothleisberger, and that's not a good place to be. On Letterman last night, Rodgers went just 1 for 4. The dark denim is fundamentally sound, but the untucked woven with what looks like a suit jacket is a fumble on the opening drive, and the oversized watch overthrows good taste by at least ten yards. Get this man an offensive coordinator!
With his first Super Bowl victory under his belt, people are already comparing Rodgers to Bart Starr and Joe Montana ... but for the moment, at least, Broadway Joe's legacy as the NFL's most stylish QB ever seems extremely safe.
Earlier: Ben Roethleisberger getting gang-tackled by his ridiculously oversized jacket, shirt, and t-shirt.
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.
Q: Hey guys. The recent header photos are awesome! I especially love the Lambeautailgatingseries (and associated cheesebra). As part of the post-Christmas sale-mageddon, I picked up a nice Banana Republic suit for well over half off. The size 38 jacket fits me perfectly in the shoulders, and looks very MB overall when unbuttoned. But it pulls WAY too much when I button it; it's a solid size too small over my belly. The larger size 40 jacket, meanwhile, looks clownish.
So #1, yes I know, I need to go to the gym more. Working on it, I promise.
#2, Is it acceptable to wear the perfect-in-the-shoulders jacket and never button it, or do I need to cut my losses and go made-to-measure?
Can't wait to see the upcoming spring-time header photos! --Ben
A: Ben, flattery will get your question answered, but will not protect you from savagery. Save that receipt, because a man should never own a suit jacket he strains to button -- at any price -- or he risks looking like Popeye pal J. Wellington Wimpy, and feeling self-conscious, insecure, and in dire need of hamburgers. Until your presumed 2011 resolution starts to pay off, cut your losses and go made-to-measure.
Q: This is concerning the Love Moschino blazer you recently recommended. I purchased one and have to admit it looks awesome. I know it's slim but how snug is it supposed to fit me? It's tight in the underarm/shoulder area. I'm afraid if I hit the gym seriously for 2 months, I will have trouble putting it on. I would appreciate your advice, thank you. --Vik
A: Vik, it sounds like you are used to blazers cut to the toxically unstylish Ben Roethlisberger tent fit (pictured as he arrived for last Sunday night's game vs. the Ravens). Blazers with high armholes -- like the great Love Moschino one you now own -- are actually more comfortable because they allow your arms to move without the whole blazer moving along with them. This may take some getting used to but trust us that it's what you want.
We just got a great big shipment from YOOX and love love love this Love Moschino corduroy blazer. Slim fit, short length, longer-than-normal sleeves, two buttons, and wide lapels -- you can see which direction the Italians are headed with lapel width -- this is one of our favorite purchases of 2010. It's on sale for $195 (normally $315) and has one internal pocket just wide enough to hold an 8 oz. flask. It even comes in blaze orange for those warmer deer hunting days. (Currently free shipping at YOOX, so try it out on their dime.)
Q: Greetings! Love the site. I'm hoping you can tell me where a young professional MB might find a relaxed cotton blazer like the one Bradley Cooper has on here? Thanks. --Drew
A: Blazers like this will be fairly plentiful in a couple of months as retailers/designers roll out S/S 2011 but for now it's slim pickings. First, browse through the sale rack at YOOX (our favorite blazer-hunting grounds) and you might get lucky. If you need this now and have shorter-than-average arms, the Lands End Canvas Chino Blazer is worth a try. It was a return for us but it's $89.50 (was just $69.50 when Canvas launched, BTW), has functioning buttonholes, a modern fit, and it's very close to what Bradley Cooper is wearing, including the alligator-length arms.
NB: Pairing with gingham strongly endorsed.
Ed. Note: Since pointing out that the blazer is 3-button vs. 2-button as Canvas originally advertised, we love how they've modified the copy to make it a 2.5-button blazer: "Also of note: this jacket has a three-button front, but the lapel is designed so only two buttons show."
We agree, anytime you can get a Trussardi 1911 bag for $255, then get it. Meanwhile, we picked up a Number Five (very underrated/unknown Italian brand) blazer for $69 and a Jil Sander jacket for $145. NB: Buy wisely; there are no returns.
Q: I was wondering, what do you think about tweed blazers? I was thinking about picking one up for winter. If it's indeed MB, perhaps some recommendations would be nice. --Tyler
A: Tweed blazers, particularly herringbone, are a F/W necessity as much as a whiskey-filled flask in an MB's breast pocket. Wear them often, and not just for shooting clays, fox hunts, or teaching English.
This season we haven't had much luck finding good ones, with the exception of Vince's somewhat pricey classic-with-a-twist slim, short, stretch wool version with patch pockets and functioning buttonholes. It also comes equipped with leather elbow patches so you don't wear holes there while leaning on the bar (in the cases when the flask is in the shop).
Q: So I've got a work boat cruise party coming up in the middle of October (I live in Virginia). I'm at a loss of what to wear. I'm starting with a pair of AG's, a nice pair of not too pointed/not too square black Clarks loafers I'm at a loss of how to be bastardly magnificent at this point. I've got the Carolina Blue Gingham Shirt, but I'm wondering if maybe a solid shirt/tie and a simple blazer might knock it out of the park. It's easy to put in barely any effort to stand out style wise with engineers, but really looking to set myself apart. Thanks!!! --Wade
A: We're on record advocating for gingham as a year-round pattern, so definitely wear that shirt.
If you really want to hit it out of the park -- essentially becoming your office's Mr. October -- pair it with a brown corduroy blazer, like this one from Banana ($198), or this one from J. Crew ($138), or if you're flush this one by Etro ($990). It's the cocktailing equivalent of mixing ginger into bourbon lemonade; you're hitting the appropriate fall notes while your shirt and leisure activity read summer (and you can wear that blazer for the next 5 months).
Suddenly we're very thirsty.
UPDATE: The J. Crew version is now on sale for $99, $109 for Tall.
Following the lead of the Commander-in-chief, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq yesterday with what we believe to be the highest-rise jeans west (but for the moment, east) of the Euphrates. The denim, combined with that blazer, the Tiger Woods belt, and the tassle loafers is setting the worthy causes of aviator sunglasses and exposed ankles back 20 years.
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: Dear MB: WTF? I bet James Bond never biked to work. Why don't you get back to doing what you do best, for example by telling me whether an MB can or should wear a blue seersucker jacket, and if so, with what pants. --Julian
A: We've seen all the movies -- in somecases dozens of times -- and don't recall any scenes where 007 is rolling along at 5 MPH for 30 minutes behind some toolbag in an Escalade with a "Freedom Isn't Free" bumper sticker. There's nothing magnificent about enduring traffic jams twice a day, which is why we endorse bike commuting in many situations.
Regarding the seersucker, if your blazer is cut more like J. Crew instead of J. Press, it would look great with denim, especially white. 'Tis the season.
A: Alain, what we have here is the apparel equivalent of the Leno/O'Brien late night war. A blazer is designed to be outerwear. A hoodie is designed to be outerwear. But if they're both owned by the same torso, they can't each be outerwear at the same time. In this case, we say fire them both.
As designers continue to strip-mine the past for Depression-era chambray workshirts, the reactionary chic of sixties-era Ivy Leaguers who refused to turn in their madras for tie-dye, and even that 1980s JC Penney staple, the block stripe rugby, how come we see so little "1970s heritage wear"?
We doubt that's what Dsquared2's actually calling this magnificent blazer, but we see a canny, streamlined nod to the leisure suits of yore in this piece, and we like what we see. The contrast stitching, the way the oversized pockets perfectly echo the oversized lapel -- this thing isn't built for the ages but if you want to make a statement now amidst a forest of anemic lapels, this is your jacket of choice. Be prepared to put your money where your mouth is though. Even on sale, it's going to cost you a little over a grand.
Q: The Chino Ludlow Sportcoat from J. Crew is currently on sale for an appealing $78.00 with the use of the coupon code EXTRA20. Just saying... --Salvador
It's only late April and J. Crew is already having its spring clearance sale? Call this one more reason we love climate change. We wish the lapels were 9/16" wider for long-term ownership, but at this price it will do fine for S/S 2010.
The Masters Green Jacket is without a doubt the most shapeless piece of poly-blend, gold-buttoned hideousness we would happily wear. As ugly as it is, however, if you devote 99.9% of your life trying to keep the putterhead square through impact, there's a good chance you can make it look even worse.
#5 Bernhard Langer, 1985
First, Berhnard Langer spent 18 holes looking like history's only Aryan Temptation. Then, he donned the green jacket and transformed himself into history's largest elf.
#4 Larry Mize, 1987
What's the golf equivalent of showing up to the Oscars without a speech written in case you win? Wearing a striped purple polo that you might have to combine with a green blazer.
#3 Tiger Woods, 2005
The only thing that can make Tiger's text messages to porn star Joslyn James seem relatively tasteful: his toolbag casual mock-n-blazer combo. ("You are my fucking whore. Hold you down while I choke you. And make you stare at my stupid Nike shirt until your eyes puke.")
#2 Ben Crenshaw, 1995
Ben Crenshaw does his best impression of a golf nut's bulletin board.
#1 Nick Faldo, 1990
The most convincing case we've ever seen for a five-button Green Jacket? Nick Faldo's argyle fireman sweater.
Q: Lands' End has started a line called Canvas, and it looks like they're trying to corner the more bastardly market. What do you think - are they TTH? --Jordan
A: Thanks for the tip, Jordan. We took a look, and while inexpensive, any reasonable person would agree Canvas all looks a little too Lands' End-y. Except for the chino blazer, which is sticking out like a stylish, artfully disheveled sore thumb. 2 buttons, shirt shoulder, patch pockets, functional buttonholes, machine washable, and $69.50. If it's anywhere near what it looks like on paper, we'll get one in khaki and navy.
UPDATE: The blazer shown has 3 buttons, not 2 as described on the Lands' End web site. The sleeves are also the equivalent of a S. If you are a R or L, they will be too short. This was a return.
Since Prada is advertising this look for Spring 2010 there is a chance -- albeit unlikely -- of it metastasizing to other menswear designers in upcoming seasons. Don't partake. This look is and always will be Major Toolbag.
Q: Dear MB, I was recently traveling in Spain and noticed a particular style among the men there which I would like to replicate. Professional men seemed to wear a lot of very trim cut, double vented odd jackets in light weight fabrics (it was still quite warm in October). Solid, patterned, cotton, linen - quite a variety, but nothing I seem able to find in the US. The look was way more MB than the typical quad-pleated Dockers, golf shirts and Oakleys I tend to see here. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks! --Matt
A: Odd jackets? Have you tried your local Goodwill? Pairing the blazers you describe with equally slim-cut wovens, cool denim, and sport/fashion footwear is a winning look that's pretty easy to achieve, especially if you would've stopped into a few of the hundreds of little menswear shops there. Now that you're back in America the easiest way to find what you're looking for is to visit yoox.com. If you're flush with cash try a higher-end YOOX property: thecorner.com.
Q: A question and a comment. What is the MB stance on snugness of a suit jacket? I recently got a steal on an Armani cashmere/silk sport jacket which is too big around the waist for my slim build. I want to get it altered to fit better but don't know how snug it should be. My comment is that I'd love for you to open up your posts to comment! Sure you'll get some rabble but it can add so much to what you're doing here. Which, by the way, I love! --Seth
A: Seth, head to the tailor. The snugness of the fit should be directly in proportion with one's fit(ness). Slim fellas in more generous cuts can quickly start looking like David Byrne. Bigger guys in snug fits can send crowds scurrying for cover to duck flying buttons. We've provided a handy chart below to demonstrate:
Q: How old does one need to be to wear a blazer in casual settings? I'm thinking of buying a military blazer (single breasted, four buttons, dark grey), but I don't want to be the "17-year old who tries to look 30." --Collarbone
A: Choose the blazer if either: a.) you hang out mainly with older people, or b.) you want to be mistaken for one of the Jonas Brothers. And chicks apparently really dig them.
Otherwise it carries pretty high risk. Wearing one to algebra class can possibly work as Max Fisher but can quickly devolve into Mike Damone.
Q: How much corduroy is too much? I, like many, own a corduroy blazer. It's chocolate and I love how versatile it is. But around this time of year, I also like wearing corduroy pants, mainly to work. Seems like overkill to wear both together. Am I right? --Jason
A: You are basically correct. An icon like YSL could probably make mismatched corduroy work, but the degree of difficulty is extremely high. A full-on corduroy suit is MB-approved, especially if you're trying to pull off that disheveled egghead look. It worked well for Donald Sutherland as the stoner English professor Dave Jennings in Animal House. And he ended up plowing Karen Allen.
We digress. Jason, to answer your question, match that blazer with a pair of jeans and rumpled oxford and wool/cashmere tie and you're good to go.
Q: Now that spring is here and summer is almost upon us, can you recommend some choices for summer sport jackets? I keep seeing linen options and I'm not sure if its ok instead of wool. And should I try to pull off a white one? --D. Brown
A: Great question. Let's take this one step at a time:
Options for summer sport jackets: Madras is a fun and popular option, but it's got a high "memorable" factor. You could space your wearings out 2 weeks and still your co-workers are going to be, like, "Holy shit, didn't D. Brown just wear that madras blazer yesterday?!" We don't endorse much about the outfit on top -- besides the cheekbones -- however the blazer is fairly deconstructed and casual, has two buttons, goes with other pants besides jeans, and is affordable ($189). We own it. Available at your local Benetton or just give one of the stores a call and have it shipped.
Linen: Regular readers know our stance on linen. Blended with high percentage of cotton it's ok. A linen percentage >50% and it can look like you slept in the fucking thing within minutes of putting it on. Proceed with extreme caution.
Giving a white blazer a try: This falls into the category of "If you have to ask, skip it." Definitely can be successfully executed, though one wrong move -- gold watch perhaps? -- and we're queuing up the Jan Hammer soundtrack to "Miami Vice."
Bravo is fast becoming The Toolbag Network. Last night on The Real Housewives of Orange County 40-something golf pro "Billy" sported the deadly rock-tee-under-a-blazer look. The Clash rock the fucking casbah and then some, but this is 2003 at best.
Q: So we have closed down the t and blazer look for fall, but can I throw a thin hoodie or a track jacket under a wool blazer or a corduroy blazer? —Jared
A: In the November 2007 issue of GQ, über designer and Magnificent Bastard Extraordinaire Tom Ford calls the blazer "the best piece of clothing of the past 50 years." Look at the picture. Notice the collared shirt. Follow along.
Q: OK, I'm confused...I've been looking to your site for months to guide me to becoming a magnificent bastard. Recently you said velvet blazers are a trend that's run its course. To my dismay, a magazine I consider on the forefront of men's style (Details) says the velvet blazer is a fall/winter essential. —Akeel
A: Part of being a Magnificent Bastard is thinking for yourself, and here's a good opportunity. But before you decide, consider this: each month the writers at Details have to crank out a certain amount of words to fill up the magazine. On the other hand, magnificentbastard.com posts only when we've got something to say, even if it's a fantastical story about a French president's flag pin. Not to mention, it's a well known fact that Dan Peres, editor of Details, has been taking payouts from the VBIA (Velvet Blazer Industry Association) since he took the job.
One trend we think has run its course is the velvet blazer. Yet this fall retailers like Neiman Marcus are pitching items from Michael Kors to true talents like Dolce & Gabbana. This all looks to us like fall 2005.
Skulls are about as post-peak as you can get without wearing an American flag lapel pin, yet Juicy Couture still cranks out skull-related stuff like they're coming into style. Even the New York Timescalled skulls dead over a year ago. Unless you're an actual pirate, or child, avoid.
Last week we heaped praise on a John Varvatos epauletted blazer, but we may have spoken too soon. This sweet MARC BY MARC JACOBS military blazer is being cleared out at Nordstrom, and it's better looking and 25% the price. Spend the $750 difference on booze.
John Varvatos is one of any MB's favorites, and he hits an upper-deck homer with this epauletted, tabbed-cuffed, flap-pocketed, stand-collared blazer, via Bergdorf Goodman. The only problem is you might need to rob a fucking bank to pay for it, and you might get caught. Stay tuned to MB.com to find out when it goes on sale (in about 90 days).
Rusty Gets Nailed
An MB-updated version of the Rusty Nail (3 oz scotch / 1 oz Drambuie).
a healthy dose of a single malt scotch (The Macallan)
splash of Drambuie
Serve on the rocks with a lemon twist. An hour later roll yourself into bed (not necessarily alone).