Archive for October, 2010


One Guy Recommends: This Year’s Banana Republic Fall Line

The last few years have seen most of the “cool, well made and yet affordable” kudos being given to J. Crew, and for good reason.  However, this year I can’t say enough positive things about J. Crew’s closest rival, Banana Republic.  In particular, there are two pieces from the fall collection that are pitch perfect.  One, a corduroy blazer with peak lapels,  is more on trend (while remaining something that you can wear, without fear of reproach, for life), while the other, a chesterfield overcoat, is timelessly elegant and something that I’ve always wanted to add to my closet.

Corduroy suiting (and blazers) are one of the predominant trends for fall this year, as you can note from the large spread featured in the current issue of GQ.  I enjoy GQ, but they have a habit of featuring articles of clothing that fail the “affordability” test, even if they’ve been getting a lot better in this regard since the recession hit.  And while I’ve been known to splurge on an article of clothing on occasion, I generally only do this on something that is timeless and will never go out of style, such as a navy suit.  The GQ spread features corduroy suits (which aren’t likely to last long in the fashion spotlight), but a corduroy blazer is something that is far more timeless.  Banana Republic’s example features their excellent new “Tailored Fit” and also the more modern peak lapels, which add an elegance to an otherwise casual blazer.  It’s available in two colours, beige and black and I would suggest going with black, which is more in line with the formality of the peak-lapels and is perfect for going out for dinner.

The other piece that stands out for me is the Chesterfield-style overcoat.  Chesterfield overcoats are of a knee length, have concealed buttons and, most famously, feature black velvet on the back part of the collar. They’re named after the famously stylish 6th Earl of Chesterfield and have also been worn by such stylistic icons as the Duke of Windsor, James Bond in “Live and Let Die” and Van William’s “Green Hornet”.  The Chesterfield has also been said to be one of the classic overcoat styles in Bernhard Roetzel’s seminal book, “Gentleman’s Guide to Grooming and Style”.  Traditionally, it is available in either grey or navy (and perhaps beige or brown), and either single breasted or double breasted.  Chesterfields are one of the most formal styles of overcoat and there is no better option that can be worn over a suit.  Banana Republic’s example is in grey, features slanted pockets in the Saville Row style and is a nice trim fit (keep in mind that you can and ought to take it to a tailor to really have it fit perfectly).

The best part of Banana Republic is the price you can obtain both of these staples for.  The corduroy blazer is available for the very affordable sum of $198US ($240CDN), while the overcoat is an even better bargain at $275US ($345CDN ), which is especially notable given that chesterfield coats, being such classic and timeless pieces, are very difficult to find at an affordable price.  For more information, and to purchase these two pieces or others from Banana Republic, check out: in the U.S., or in Canada (which now offers online shopping – although, as you can see from the price disparity, it may be worth a road trip to see our friendly southern neighbours).


This Week’s Object of Lust: Nudie jeans

The majority of the posts on this site deal with “corporate” style – things you’re going to be wearing to the office. Judging by the search terms and posts that draw the most traffic on this site, the majority of readers are looking for information about work clothes. But, as much as I enjoy discussing the merits of basted suits and closed lacing on dress shoes, there are such things as Saturdays and Sundays. Which means you need some more casual components to your wardrobe to kick back in and do what even the busiest guys need to do sometimes: relax, while still being able to hop off the couch and go to a bar, cool restaurant or friend’s birthday party.

What is the universal symbol of casual clothing in the 21st century? A pair of jeans. Lately (and, by lately, I mean the past few years), there has been a decidedly positive development in the denim world – a return to natural and raw denim, precipitated generally by our brothers and sisters in Japan. Instead of pre-distressing jeans in a way that somebody in a factory somewhere thinks your jeans should look like after a year of wear, companies are now allowing you to take care of the distressing. The natural way. Over time, and in your own unique manner.

There really is nothing better than a pair of jeans you have broken-in perfectly, a process that can take months of wear. Amongst the best makers of raw (also referred to as “selvedge”) denim jeans is a company out of Sweden named Nudie (which stands for “The Naked Truth About Denim”, a reference to the raw, natural denim they use). Cut in a way that is “slim-ish” but by no means is too slim, Nudies gradually mold to your unique shape and become incredibly comfortable.  Plus, Nudies maintain their rich indigo colour for as long as you refrain from washing them (which, I would say is for, at minimum, one year – put them in the freezer occasionally to kill off any bacteria, if you’re concerned).  They are made in Italy and I would highly recommend picking up a pair and starting the process of breaking them in. I guarantee that in a few months, they’ll be the first pair of pants you reach for on your coffee run on Saturday morning.

The only issue with Nudie jeans is that they’re a little bit expensive.  Given that one of the stated goals of this blog is to promote affordability and economical style, this would seem to be something of an issue.  However, given that most people wear denim on a very regular basis, when you analyze the price from a “cost per wear” basis, it will be less than almost all else in your closet.  Jeans are something that most men wear almost every day when they get home from work (and almost every day on the weekend).  Furthermore, in this casual era, they’re something you’ll wear with a blazer or cardigan to a nice restaurant, to work on Fridays and on many other occasions.  Given this, you should put almost as much thought, money and consideration into your choice of denim as your choice of suit (if you’re single, than this goes doubly as women are far more likely to recognize and appreciate denim brands and fits than suit brands).  If you’re interested in Nudie, check out  Otherwise, head to the store with the best selection of selvedge denim and find a pair that works for you.  Finally, this may be one of the only occasions where I would actively suggest that a female’s eye is nearly essential to the purchasing process; for some reason, most men, including myself, have a tough time judging how they look in a given pair of jeans, so keep this in mind.  Good luck gentlemen.


Corporate Style – Part 5: Watches


Men have a tenuous relationship with jewelery.  Almost without fail, more is definitely less.  However, I would highly recommend saving room for a watch.  And not just any watch, a watch that makes sure you’re dressed acceptably wherever you are, or perhaps one that puts you in a certain mood in light of its associations with car racing, scuba diving or sailing.  In the words of British GQ editor Dylan Jones, “You can be walking along a deserted Caribbean beach, wearing only a pair of shorts, but if you’re sporting an expensive watch, then you’re still well dressed.”  There is no question that this is a true statement – there are very few better ways to tell quite a bit about a person than to take a glance at their choice of wrist wear.  For example, a man with a Chopard Mille Miglia (see below) is likely to be interested in cars.  The guy with a Corum Admiral’s Cup is almost assuredly someone that sails (or wishes that they did).  And a man with a Patek Philippe is very likely a man with great taste that run towards the traditional and has very deep pockets.


But you shouldn’t buy a nice watch to send a particular message to other people; you should buy it for yourself.  For many men, it comes down to a fascination with the incredible engineering that goes into a fine Swiss watch.  For others it’s a love of the elegant design or, as I said before, the frame of mind that a particular watch puts you in.  I know men that have a particular watch they wear during the work week, and something sporty like a chunky TAG Heuer diving watch that they put on over the weekend.  That watch means its time for them to relax and enjoy their time off and shakes off the prim and proper elegance of their more business appropriate weekday wear.  For others, watches are a means of celebrating something, such as a wedding, a birthday, an anniversary or a promotion.  They can even be a means of remembering a loved one or cheering yourself up a bit.  Overall men, we’ve been given a grand canvas for our personality, our interests and our own projection of who it is we want to be, and so we shouldn’t waste that opportunity.

As someone that for quite some time did not wear a watch, I now realize that this was a mistake.  Even though we now are surrounded by gadgets that tell us the time (BlackBerry’s, iPods and the like), there is still something manly and prepared about having the time strapped to your wrist.  It suggests to others that you’re responsible and, well, a man. Continue reading ‘Corporate Style – Part 5: Watches’

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