Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pop-up store for the dapper gent: Fine and Dandy Shop

Matt Fox of Fine and Dandy Shop kindly invited me to attend their pop-up store event at The Blind Barber on the Lower East Side in NYC on December 4th and 5th. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the event.

The pop-up store will feature men's accessories (ties, bow ties, pocket squares, tie bars, collar bars, cufflinks, money clips, and more).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Winter accessories: Scores of scarves

Autumn has been fairly mild in New York City but it's about that time of year (read black Friday) to stock up on winter accessories. Below are three scarf options depending on your preferred modus operandi: made to order, traditional / vintage or updated classic.

Made to order / custom

A custom scarf is perhaps strictly for those who have everything else squared away in their wardrobe. A very civilized option that will never feel out of place around your neck. Made-to-order by Holland & Sherry, these come in a "ripple finish" cashmere, two sizes (12 x 54 or 14 x 72 inches) and 36 different colors from parchment to pistachio. Also available in shawl or throw sizes.

H&S cashmere scarves 01

H&S cashmere scarves 02

Check out the swatches (see above) and order from your favorite bespoke tailor who works with H&S cloths. Special thanks to tailor Enzo Caruso for educating me on this custom winter accessory (and he lives in un-wintery Los Angeles!).

Traditional / vintage

Traditional scarves tend to feature established patterns and motifs (from collegiate stripes to Mughal patterns - see the Drakes vintage-inspired wool/silk scarf below).


For those serious about the vintage look, there's always the option of rummaging vintage stores or ebay for Sulka scarves.

Updated classic

These scarves are recognizably traditional but updated with slightly irregular pattern scales, different pattern designs or unusual colorways. In keeping with this category, I came across Free/man's recent blog entry on Begg's new lambswool / angora scarves for Unionmade.

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A couple of standouts above. Top row, far right would go superbly with a camelhair polo coat and the bottom row, far right pairs nicely with the beige Martin Margiela safari jacket I wrote about earlier.

Another standout is Drakes tartan scarf, in a vibrant palette of red, khaki and sky blue with a gold and antique white overcheck:


For maximum color impact (aka the Ivy League go-to-hell look), check out O'Connell's selection of Begg lambswool / angora scarves. These are a couple of the more sedate ones:

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Last but not least, for my female and/or DIY readers, below is a skillfully knitted infinity scarf made by blogger Knitted Bliss:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A profile in (life)style: Luciano Barbera

An interesting life spans diverse boundaries and embraces the sense of having done things - veni, vedi, vici. This is perhaps what the most interesting man in the world would look like in the flesh.

Whether at home, on the slopes, behind the wheel, taking a leisurely swing on the greens or briskly trotting one of his many thoroughbreds, Luciano Barbera is a contender for best dressed man in the world. Need we say more?

Additional links
- Styleforum thread on above video (Not surprisingly, Styleforumites do indeed have more to say!)
- Luciano Barbera's blog

Thursday, November 18, 2010

2010 Cravats Award nomination: Best classic style blog

Daniel Eckler at contacted me recently and let me know that Sleevehead has been nominated for a 2010 Cravats Award in the category of "best classic style blog". We're in distinguished company along with A Suitable Wardrobe and the English Cut.

If you enjoy reading my blog, feel free to vote for Sleevehead as well as the other fine blogs and websites up for nomination. Voting ends on December 24th.

Thanks again to my readers for your continued interest!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hooman Majd: Being interesting v. being correct

Mr. Majd is an Iranian-American writer and journalist and has also worked in the music industry. GQ's Glenn O'Brien thinks he is the best-dressed man in the world.

Below you can see Majd sporting a 20 year old Hermes sports jacket with patches added later by the author himself.

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In the embedded video below, notice the interesting button-down contrast collar, which usually comes in point or spread versions. The buttondown contrast collar is different to be sure and visually catching. Overall, I like the rendering of the blue elements against the grey - the teal striped tie, Oxford blue striped shirt, the momentary pop provided by the white collar and then muted all around by the grey suit and parka.

The internet style cognoscenti will undoubtedly nitpick at the billowing trousers, the choice of a fur-linked parka with a suit and perhaps the low button stance of his jacket.

However, faced with a choice of being interesting v. absolutely correct, I think I would prefer to err on the side of being interesting.

And, really, billowing trousers are not the end of the world. In fact, the world's most interesting man (Mr. Majd's older brother perhaps) agrees that a man's trousers should not be too tight (at 6:15 in the Youtube clip). Treat those coins in your pocket with respect and give 'em room to jingle, my friends!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Calibrating your personal style: Who is your trusted advisor?

In terms of developing a sense of style, most of us do not have it all figured out so a second opinion from a trusted source is at times helpful. But then the question becomes who is that trusted source?

Online discussion forums like Styleforum and Ask Andy have their place. The "what are you wearing today" threads on these forums offer a quick and dirty way to get feedback from a fairly large number of individuals. This is a way to shape your style via anonymous crowdsourcing (or groupthink depending on your viewpoint).

But other options come to mind - friends, colleagues, even significant others (though that could be hit or miss). There is another alternative, the style consultant. Perhaps not the first choice for many men I imagine. However, keeping an open mind and being sartorially curious, I contacted New York City based Natalie Decleve and signed up for an initial consult and wardrobe review. Natalie is a stylist and image consultant with a background in women's fashion (Diane von Furstenberg, Kiki de Montparnasse) and PR. Having worked and/or lived in California, New York City and Europe, she has a feel for the lifestyles, clothing and attitudes of those different environments.

During our initial phone consult, I asked her what she thought the most common style mistake men made. Her response was perfectly sensible and free of the usual platitudes about style expressing a form of innate elegance or a timeless sense of taste. In her estimation, fit is the critical issue since unfortunately many men do not wear clothes that fit well. I agree entirely.

In my case, I was interested in a fresh opinion on how my wardrobe cohered as a whole, how I mixed and matched individual pieces and whether I was overlooking specific combinations or looks. Natalie has a good feel for what works for you and will readily point out the gems in your wardrobe. She also suggested several great color and/or clothing combinations that I had not thought of. For instance, pairing my favorite sports coat with denim instead of traditional wool trousers (which had not occurred to me oddly enough), or wearing certain shirts/colors with specific jackets.

Conversely, she has an eye for what looks contemporary, and can point out the pieces in your wardrobe that may be perceived differently than you had imagined or intended. If you have a tendency to follow the same routine and would like to mix things up, she will be an effective antidote against looking predictable. Moreover, Natalie is refreshingly direct and straightforward in her guidance and suggestions. So if you are in need of a style intervention or just looking for a fresh perspective, consider having a chat and an initial consult with her. And if you don't have a trusted style advisor or muse, perhaps it's time to cultivate one.

Additional links
- Valetmag / DonQ's survey of the female perspective on men's style
- Menswear/WWD essay on what women notice

Friday, November 12, 2010

Look of the week: An urbanized safari jacket

Below is a beige Martin Margiela goatskin suede jacket, which caught my eye on Essentially, Margiela has taken the cotton safari jacket, an iconic, perhaps even kitschy piece, and urbanized it by changing out the fabric and streamlining a few of the details. The result is a more flexible item of clothing since it seems a little out of place to wear an authentically detailed safari jacket in a large city, even if you are a NYC hipster lounging on a stoop in Williamsburg or the Lower East Side.

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But assuming Margiela's de-stylized and citified version of the safari jacket works for you and your surroundings, the next question is - what do you wear with it? Below are a couple of suggested variations, depending on the use case: downtown (East End) v. uptown (West End).

The jacket would go well with textured or denser cottons (i.e. finewale corduroy, moleskin or denim) or subtly patterned wool or flannel trousers in grey, brown or melange colors (like steel loden). These fabrics have a texture, weight and/or nap that naturally complements suede. Then wear a pair of sporty monk straps or loafers in a dark finish/color to complete the look.

Downtown or 'East End' variation

In the downtown variation, we're talking about weekend brunch at a quiet spot in NYC's West Village (or maybe London's Shoreditch or East End area), in the spring or autumn, when the weather is a bit cooler.

Uptown or 'West End' variation

The uptown scenario is a bit dressier in certain elements as the context might be daytime workwear (hence the wool trousers). I'm thinking more of the 'creative' professions like visual arts, design or media. For footwear, monk straps or perhaps a pair of calfskin leather slip-ons in black or dark oak.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

More double-breasted jackets

A few double-breasted examples from the Japanese RTW brand Ring Jacket. The Armoury, a new store in Hong Kong, has a nice profile of Ring in English.

This 4x2 DB I like:

Below is a single breasted jacket. I suppose the case can be made that SBs can take boldly shaped peaks. Even so, I'm not so keen on the exaggerated sweep, angle and height of the peak lapel:

Having said that, I know there are fellows who can make this look work.

Additional links
- Styleforum thread on Armoury opening (including visits by Ring Jacket and Drakes of London)
- Styleforum thread on DB jackets

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Menswear stores in New York City: current picks and destinations of yesteryear

This 2004 StyleForum thread takes a nostalgic walk down memory lane and recounts the top New York City menswear shops of yesteryear, which have long since closed for business. The line-up included American trad / Ivy League stalwarts (Chipp, Tripler), tailors (Dunhill Tailors), shirts and accessories (Sulka), and Manhattan outposts of Continental European haberdashers (Knize).

So what would today's list of great men's RTW stores in NYC look like? Blogger Por Homme has compiled a nice list of NYC shops. If you tend to shop at the usual department store suspects and men's retailers like Paul Stuart, J. Press and Brooks Bros, the list may not fully register or resonate.

However, if you are in a different demographic or skew toward a more contemporary look, I think it's worthwhile to take a few weekends and explore the shops listed by Por Homme. These stores offer clothing ranging from very affordable (Uniqlo) to premium RTW pricing (Rag & Bone). I've visited Alden, APC, Billy Reid, Brooklyn Industries, J. Crew Men's Shop, Odin, Rag & Bone and Uniqlo.

I would also add the following to the list of men's stores worth visiting: Black Fleece (West Village), Gant Rugger (West Village), Epaulet (Brooklyn), Freemans Sporting Club in the Lower East Side, Memes in Noho and the newly opened NYC branch of Nepenthes, a Japanese brand collective including Engineered Garments. On a related note, this fall/winter season Brooks Bros introduced a new slimmer fitting University line of dress and sports shirts, jackets and knitwear.

Compared to traditional sizing, many of these stores/brands offer a slimmer cut and fit in suits, jackets, trousers, denim, outerwear. So if you're not quite ready to step up to full bespoke or MTM clothing, these stores can get you closer to wearing better fitting clothes and assembling a great-looking wardrobe at a relatively affordable cost compared to full bespoke.

Additional links
- Esquire article on Nepenthes

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Enzo Caruso: An experiment in informality

This past summer I visited Santa Monica bespoke tailor Enzo Caruso and laid out my idea for my next commission – a relaxed double-breasted (DB) suit inspired by the drape cut. I have certainly appreciated the DB in a Platonic way (i.e. the idea and form of the DB). However, I have never really taken a liking to many DB suits I've seen. A few of the DB's distinctive details, such as the shape of the collar and lapels, sometimes appear a bit too aggressively angular, peaked or exaggerated for my taste. This I find even on historical style icons such as the Duke of Windsor and certainly more contemporary examples.

I was interested in a relaxed, "quieter" version of the DB - something that could be worn at a purely social occasion with nary a comment. As a rough start, I printed out a few still frames of Dick Powell's DB in The Gold Diggers of 1933. The idea, as Enzo put it, is a DB that comes across as “easy” (i.e. full of ease both literally and figuratively) or dégagé.

He said that in southern Italy, where he grew up, that it was not unusual to see a drape cut with an extended shoulder and front chest drape. The last time he saw one of these in Italy was back in the 1960s. Enzo added that the shoulders on my DB will not be as extended as Powell's nor the chest drape as pronounced. However, there would be additional fullness in the front chest and in the back. After some deliberation, we chose a Drapers San Felice mid-grey flannel (11oz) for the fabric.

Caruso grey flannel DB 02

After two fittings this past summer, the suit was recently shipped to me. I am pleased to say that I'm delighted by the end result. In particular, I find the collar and lapel shape very relaxed, conveying the ease I was seeking, especially in the subtly rounded corners and edges of the lapel and collar. The minimally padded shoulder is slightly extended, more so than my other jackets from Enzo.

Caruso grey flannel DB 01

There is a slight, but noticeable fold in the back, next to each armhole. At rest, the front chest features more of a swell rather than a distinct fold. But if I shrug or put a hand in my pocket the chest gathers up in a fold. This is neither the drape cut of Savile Row tailor Anderson & Sheppard (in its contemporary or historical incarnation), nor the drape of its Neapolitan brethren seen on Styleforum. This is more of a hybrid cut, resulting from a few historical antecedents, a tailor's lifetime of experience and a willingness to experiment by said tailor and his customer.

Additional links
- London Lounge thread on Enzo Caruso