Sunday, May 31, 2009

Three Trends in Sunglasses For Men

It's almost officially summer, so let's take a look at three trends in sunglasses for men.

There are some interesting trends in sunglasses for men this summer that re-invent classic styles from the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

1. Clear Frame Sunglasses

This is the biggest trend in sunglasses for men: clear frames. There are a variety of clear frame styles to choose from but I think these are done best in the wayfarer form. I recently picked up a pair of clear-framed wayfarers for $20 and I'm very pleased with them. The classic black wayfarer is pretty ubiquitous these days but I wouldn't say that's a reason to stop wearing them. I made the jump from black solid frames to clear frames because I found the thickness of wayfarer frames left a brutal sunglasses tan -- so much so, in fact, that I avoided wearing them on sunny days so I could get rid of the tan lines. That's no good. Clear frames solve that problem without ditching the wayfarer style.

2. Clubmaster Sunglasses

These sunglasses have been popularized this summer by Ray Ban who dubbed them "Clubmaster Sunglasses" but they are actually called browline sunglasses. These were popular in the 1950's and are reminiscient of American law enforcement from that era. The Good Shepherd, a film about the founding of the CIA in the 50's, prominently feature browline sunglasses. The Ray Ban models looks fantastic and are a nice alternative to the wayfarer.

3. Tom Ford Sunglasses
Not many people were looking at Joaquin Phoenix's sunglasses during his on-air Letterman meltdown, but in spite of everything else, his Tom Ford sunglasses looked stylish. They aren't quite wayfarers but they do have a boxy, retro appearance while still being modern. Of course, like all else Tom Ford, they won't come cheap.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Men's Fashion Today: Belvest Lookbook

Men's fashion line Belvest has released their fall/winter 2009-2010 lookbook. It's classic style with a minimalist bent, and it's exactly what I look for in a collection.

Here are a few highlights.

Layering a sweater or cardigan underneath a suit can be tough to pull off -- I think most people who try it don't do so succesfully. But the bright blue paired with the brown suit looks great. I particularly like that rather than the typical v-neck sweater, they've used what appears to be a cardigan. It's an interesting variation on the look.

This suit also counts as more points for the overly maligned brown suit which, I think, can be one of the best colours around in men's fashion.

Single breasted coats can be tough to wear. They're more dressy than their double breasted counterparts and so it's important that they fit impeccably. Not only does this one fit beautifully but the check pattern also adds interesting flair that the typical black topcoat often lacks.

There's a few men's fashion lessons in this picture. First, co-ordinate, don't match, your tie and pocket square. The tie includes the colour of the pocket square but it also has other colours in it. If anything, I think the pocket square and tie here are too similar, but that's a matter of personal taste. In any case, the point is that you should be co-ordinating, not matching. Second, make sure your patterns are of different scale. The checks on his suit are of a different scale than the stripes on his tie so they don't blend together weirdly.

For the full lookbook of men's fashion designer Belvest, click here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Men's Fashion: Tie Styles Part 2

Click here in case you missed the first part of Men's Fashion: Tie Styles.

In the second part of this installment of Men's Fashion, let's turn to patterns.

The printed tie style, because it is cheap and easy to manufacture, is by far the most common. That is not to say it is the best. There is something to be said for the simplicity demanded of designs and patterns woven into the fabric of the tie itself. The printed tie allows the men's fashion designer to create any tie style he can imagine -- a capacity that has spawned far too many ties that are far too gaudy.

That being said, there are still a selection of printed neckties that are in excellent taste. Let's take a look at some of the most attractive printed tie styles.


Dots were originally a pattern reserved for women. However, they eventually migrated to men's fashion, a development that has been salutary for men's style in my opinion. Dots complement most other patterns (when worn sensibly) but look particularly good when paired with the chalk stripes of a suit.


Paisley is a very interesting pattern. Freud thought that it indicated virility since the pattern resembled sperm. It was also considered one of the only bold patterns acceptable for the Ivy Leagues. The paisley tie style works well with most other patterns and adds interesting nuance to any outfit.


The club tie is one of my personal favourites. The first club ties were borne out of the flags of sports teams in England. When the teams came to adopt ties they naturally used the colours and symbols of their flags on their ties.

However, the club tie really gained popularity when men's fashion designer Henri d'Origny developed the famous Hermes equestrian design in the 1950's. Hermes has since branches out to various other designs, including elephants, trees, and one Wall Street inspired pattern of bulls and bears (pictured above). These patterns are often used to liven up the otherwise drab and unoriginal work uniform of lawyers and investors. Indeed, the inventive tie styles of Hermes have become such a staple of the men's fashion of London's lawyers that it is odd for a man of that set not to own at least one.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Men's Fashion: Tie Styles Part 1

In this segment of Men's Fashion, we'll take a look at tie styles. There are an enormous variety of tie styles to choose from, but it's important that you pick a style appropriate to the rest of your outfit.

Regimental Stripes:

Derived from British military wear, the regimental stripe pattern was used by various regiments to distinguish themselves. These unique diagonal stripes in the regiment's colour were inseperable from British uniforms.

Perhaps not the primary cause of the rift between the British and the Colonies, the American habit of wearing their stripes from right down to the left violated the English rule of stripes running from left to right. Nowadays this conflict has been pretty much resolves, as Brooks Brothers manufactured their ties in the English-style when they popularized them in the States.

Another advantage of the regimental stripe is that it, like other lines that angle across the body, has a slimming power. Its pattern makes the face appear thinner and less soft.


While originalplaid ties were made, like kilts, from wool, the pattern was quickly adopted for other materials. Its best to wear plaid with other stripes or checks of a different scale on your suit jacket or shirt. This combination, done properly, creates an interesting appearance of depth and dimension.

Solid Colour:

Various materials and weaves aside, the solid coloured necktie is often the most underrated and, strangely, most difficult style to wear well. This is not because it is difficult to match, but rather because it forces the wearer to make his entire outfit interesting rather than just the tie, which is relatively easy to do.

A solid tie isn't flashy and won't draw much attention. It's useful in that it allows the wearer to combine various patterns in a way that is more subtle but also more interesting than just wearing a loud tie.


By wool tie, I mean a worsted cashmere or cashmere silk blend, not the English country tie. Best suited for cold weather, this sort of tie is best suited for more casual outfits, such as an odd jacket-pant combination.

Use a wool tie to add interesting pattern and texture to flannels and other casual bases.

Tomorrow, we'll continue with a discussion of patterned ties in Men's Fashion: Tie Styles Part 2.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Today In Men's Fashion: Hickey's F/W Collection

Today in men's fashion...

Freeman Hickey, which still makes its clothes in their 100-year-old Rochester, NY factory, released its F/W collection. I would say that, again, Hickey shows why its one of the best American labels out there.

Some pieces that stand out:

First, the coat looks amazing, particularly the lining. Okay, so not many people will get a good view of the lining, but so what? Style is for yourself and you'll know.

But what I really like is the sweater. It's hard to make a sweater so vibrant and so stylish at the same time. Bold colours and patterns often come off as tacky, but this one manages to keep close to the line between interesting and crass without crossing over into the latter.

This shawl cardigan isn't too bulky, but substantial enough to be worn alone on a fall day and offers plenty of potential for layering. The dash of red beneath the collar is also a nice touch.

This reminds me of something you'd wear while gardening or doing yard-work. But doing it really stylishly. The cardigan makes the plaid shirt-jeans combination more exciting. I'm not sure about doing up the top button of the shirt -- it works for this guy, but maybe not for most of us. This also isn't an outfit that can easily be paired with a tie, so tread carefully.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Baggy Pants And Other Trends

I admit, the last decade of men's fashion has been a good one. And by fashion, I mean the popular trends and styles. The slim-fitting clothing, the rise of suits, cardigans, "trad" and prep styles have been consistent with my personal sense of style.

I have had no major objections to fashion, then, for the last while.

But fashion, being a fickle thing, will change, and I'd like to take a moment to lament the inevitable end to the embrace of clothes that fit and flatter.

I think the return of baggy pants is the best example of why fashion is so harmful to dressing well. The goal of dressing should be to flatter one's natural form. There are certain ways to do this that are universal, same from person to person. Pants, for example, that are too long look bad on every man, regardless of his appearance and form. Likewise, pants that are baggy look bad on everyone -- there is not a single person they flatter.

There is no reason to wear baggy pants other than conforming to a current trend. This is, of course, what happened for a while before the slim-cut look became popular. Designers are returning to this look for no good reason other than a vague need people have for change every once in a while. And designers, of course, need to change the fashion so they can sell more clothes -- why would people continue buying slim fitting suits once they had a certain amount if they were always in fashion?

Call it conservative, but I think it's common sense to say that change for change's sake is a bad thing. Change is especially bad when it's a change for the worse.

It may seem that the decline of well-fitting pants that look objectively good (in that their cut flatters the wearer) and the rise of their baggy counterparts (which do nothing but detract from the male form) is unimportant. It is, in itself, not imporant, but I think it tells us something about the restless and flitting nature of people. It is this nature -- the need for change when change isn't warranted -- that is really the force behind fashion, not any actual progress in men's wear. In order to keep up with it, one must be constantly buying new items and watching everyone else to see what they should wear.

Style, however, is not about everyone else. It is rather an individualistic pursuit, the art of covering one's natural form in such a way that actually flatters it. In this sense, fashion renders dress useless as a means of self-expression and certainly cannot be considered an art. It is conformity in the name of change without justification.

And that's why I'll always bear hostility for baggy pants.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Colorful Shoes

Add some variety to the brown leather/white canvas footwear mix with some colorful shoes.

There are plenty of options available in a range of styles. I particularly like these boat shoes by Sperry:

You can't beat such vibrant colors that still retain a sense of classic style. The blue, in particular, would look great with a pair of chinos or white denim. Even better, these are only going to run you about $80 -- pretty affordable for a very interesting shoe.

Beyond this, you can get some great moccasins in nearly every color imaginable.

The key to wearing daring shoes is that you remember that they're only part of an outfit. Too many people get a pair of really colorful shoes and then wear them everyday with every outfit they have. That will never work. If you want to do that, get a pair of plain sneakers or wingtips. If you want something more interesting, then you're going to have to put some thought into the rest of your outfit, particularly your pants and socks.

As inspiration, this gentleman, who should probably be teaching a class in how to make sweatpants look good:

Take note of how, first of all, the purple shoes look good with the light grey pants. He's gone beyond that, though, incorporating a different shade of purple into his outfit. He pulls it all together nicely.

Just make sure you do as he does and you'll be able to work colorful shoes into your wardrobe easily.

Today In Men's Fashion: Opening Ceremony Spring Line

Today in men's fashion...

Opening Ceremony releases the lookbook for their spring collection and I'm definitely liking what I see. Of course, that's usually the case with Opening Ceremony.

Lots of khaki. Lots of Thom Brown-style trousers. Pastels. Layers. Classic spring stuff.

Some highlights:

I love both of these outfits. In particular, the sky blue chinos on the right and the use of brown in a suit that works for spring. Brown suits are under-rated, in my opinion, and it's good to see them done well by OC.

A few interesting things to note.

The top button on the jacket is much higher than has been fashionable over the last few years. It's placed around the sternum rather than around, or just above, the navel. I think in most cases this creates a less elegant torso line, and this case isn't really an exception. Some people could pull this off but I will stick with the longer line.

Also, pants are becoming less fitted. The cycle from overly-baggy to overly-tight pants is a recurring one in the fashion world. It takes about 10 years, maybe a bit longer, to pass from one end of the spectrum to the other. I think that the best place is somewhere just on the side of fitted without being overly tight. Baggy pants look sloppy nearly all the time when worn by men and overly tight pants look ridiculous. It is still important, if one is looking to create a flattering sillhouette, to wear pants that are somewhat slim-fitting.

Finally, short shorts appear to making a bit of a comeback. Again, this is a trend I will not be adopting. Shorts look best when they finish just above the knee. Longer and you risk looking like a surfer, shorter and you look like you're just heading to the gym circa 1975. Avoid both of these looks.