Archive for the 'One Guy Recommends' Category

18
Aug
13

One Guy Recommends: Nigel Cabourn


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I enjoy looking at old family photos. Both of my grandfathers, in their own ways, liked clothes. My father’s father can always be seen in a suit and tie. The suits were always perfectly cut (he had all of his suits made for him, although that was a lot more standard at that time), the ties perfectly tied, always with a dapper hat and clean shaven. My mother’s father was a military man; more casual but also effortlessly cool in his own way. Some of my favourite photos of him were taken during his tour in the Navy during World War 2. Smoking a cigarette in heavy dungarees, grinning at the camera on the deck of a minesweeper in the middle of the Atlantic.   One thing that immediately jumped out to me is the look and fit of the clothing – it appears heavy, well made…. almost indestructible.  In today’s Ikea and H&M society, our clothing tends to be disposable, temporary and forgettable.

58faa331_Nigel-Cabourn-Cameraman-Jacket-front

Apparently, I’m not the only one who looked at old photographs and had this thought – Nigel Cabourn, after being Paul Smith’s right-hand, decided that the world needed this type of clothing once again.  Sturdy, epically well-manufactured via classic methods and yet, at the same time, modern.  Inspiration has come primarily from vintage military uniforms and Cabourn’s passion for (and private collection of) vintage men’s clothing.  The fabric used are some of the best in the world – heavy tweeds, incredible jersey cottons from Germany, all of which feel hermetically sealed from another time.

Cabourn’s clothing looks and feels almost like it came out, perfectly preserved, from an archaeological dig of early 20th Century menswear. Stylistically, they resemble a cross between what Steve McQueen would’ve worn on the weekend and what a member of the royal family would wear for a casual walk around their palace in the Scottish highlands.  Best known for his coats, most notably the Cameraman and Airman, I’m even more partial to some of the shirts he makes.  From the heavy, “new old stock” buttons, the reinforced seams and luxurious fabric, it is apparent from even the shortest of glances the thought and attention to detail that goes into each Cabourn piece.  Pick up the sweater pictured below, feel its five pound weight and you’ll walk away a believer.

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In North America, it can be a slightly more difficult brand to find.  Barney’s often has items for sale in-store and on their website, and it’s worth searching locally for a stockist.  There are usually twenty Cabourn pieces on eBay at any given time.  The incredible quality definitely make them worth stalking on the ‘Bay.  Even at full price, these are the type of legacy items that can be passed down to future generations, as cliche as that is to say.  In the same way that my grandfather’s shoes and suits remain in excellent condition after 50 years, Cabourn pieces are built to a similar standard

If you’d like more information on the brand, or to see this season’s items, check out www.cabourn.com.  One important note: there is another line called “Cabourn Utility” that is available but isn’t made to nearly the same standard. I would steer clear and hold out for some “Authentic” Nigel Cabourn.

“They don’t make ’em like they used to” is an oft heard refrain due to the deteriorating quality and temporary nature of just about everything.  I hope Nigel Cabourn never gets the memo.

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10
Aug
11

One Guy Recommends: NATO Watch Straps


My post today centres around a new addition to my own wardrobe: a nylon “NATO” watch strap.  There’s no question that Sean Connery as James Bond looked cool as hell when he wore his Rolex Submariner on a “NATO” strap (see picture below).  So, I’m hardly the first person to trumpet these types of bands; nonetheless, I’m a late convert.  But convert I am – I’ve worn mine 6 consecutive days, and I don’t like to wear the same watch more than a day or two in a row. 

The nylon strap rose to popularity thanks to British Ministry of Defence (MOD).  The standard issue strap (called the “G10” thanks to its requisition number) has come to be known as the “NATO” strap because its stock number falls within those associated with “NATO”.  Traditionally, it came in only one colour (dubbed “Admiralty Grey”) and only in the 22mm size.  There are now two colours in the NATO stock catalogue, with both stil using the traditional chrome plated brass hardware.  It is now available in a wide range of colours and patterns, from a variety of aftermarket suppliers, most traditionally featuring vertical stripes running down the middle of the band.   Another popular variation is the “Zulu” strap, which is thicker and is worn slightly differently.

For me, the addition of a nylon watch strap stemmed not out of a particularly strong desire to wear one, but rather out of a problem: I don’t really love the standard bracelet that came with my Omega Seamaster Professional.  It’s not the clasp: I think Omega’s are some of the most functional.  Rather it was the style of the links which didn’t sit well with me (which goes to show you how personal one’s taste in watches are, as many people herald the Omega bracelets as some of the prettiest around).  The Omega has become my day-to-day, beat-around work watch, but the bracelet is a scratch and scuff magnet, it’s hot and heavy to lug around a steel bracelet all summer, and, most importantly, I just didn’t love it.  In fact, I was on the verge of selling the watch; that is until I figured I’d take a $17 flyer on a navy and steel grey NATO-style strap from Gnomon Watches.   Once it arrived (nicely packaged I might add) from Singapore, and I had taken it, along with my watch, to my Authorized Omega Dealer (or “AD” as it tends to be abbreviated on watch sites), suddenly my Seamaster was transformed.  Frankly, it looked cool as hell – just as importantly, it felt cool as hell given the light, breathable nature of the nylon.   Hopefully you’ll agree with my assessment, as I’ve provided two, rather poor quality pictures of my watch and its new strap below.

In my opinion, it’s acceptable to be worn in the summer to work (although, if you work in a particularly conservative environment, I might save it for Friday).  Really, it’s the best $17s I’ve ever spent, transforming a watch that was in my doghouse into a wrist fixture.  I highly recommend throwing one on your watch, even as summer winds down (and, what with the endless choices in colours, you can really customize your watch).  Being a Bond fan, I went with a classic NATO myself (and I’d encourage anyone to go down this road: it’s never going out of style).  Another option is to buy the watch with the strap already on.  The best affordable watch I’ve seen is this watch from J. Crew, which I’ll be discussing more in a future post.  More information on Gnomon straps can be found here: http://www.gnomonwatches.com/index.asp

Thanks for reading and I look forward to being much more active with this blog.

09
Aug
11

One Guy Recommends: Muji Luggage


It’s been awhile.  Far too long, actually.  For everyone that has subscribed to my blog, thank you for your support.  I will do my best to get back to posting as regularly as I can.  My first few posts back are going to centre around things that I’ve stumbled across in the last few months and havejumped out as things I’d like to share.

Relatively recently, I changed jobs.  A major part of my new position is travel.  Over the last few months, I’ve been living out of a suitcase roughly 60-70% of the time.  Luckily I enjoy travelling, and, by sheer luck, I’ve happened to be near friends and family for the vast majority of this time.  Nonetheless, it can be a tiring process.  The more someone travels, the more it is understood that your luggage and the rest of your travel kit need to help and not hinder. 

Given my impending travel needs, I realized early on that it was time for a new suitcase.   You’ll recall that I actually featured one in my inaugural Christmas List post.  I thought hard about purchasing a beautiful piece of luggage (given how much I would be using it) from the likes of Globetrotter or something from a well known manufacturer like Tumi – but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how ridiculous that would be.  Images of my bag being stuffed by an overworked flight attendant into a tiny overhead bin on my flight from Saskatoon to Des Moines made me shudder.  Therefore, despite my love for Tumi, I believe I’ve found a more realistic and equally efficient alternative: Muji.

Continue reading ‘One Guy Recommends: Muji Luggage’

07
Dec
10

One Guy Recommends: Warby Parker Glasses


I’ve needed glasses since I was in elementary school, but I’ve never been a glasses person.  I’ve never particularly liked the way they look and, even more, I really don’t like having to shill out a bundle of cash to buy them.  Contact lenses have long been my daily ritual, but as contact wearers know, it isn’t very ideal not to have a pair of glasses available to throw on when you wake up in the morning, or don’t really feel like putting your contacts in.  Nonetheless, I held out for more than 7 years from buying new glasses, preferring to either walk around semi-blind or to wear my twisted and scratched emergency pair.  Undoubtedly my prescription had changed in that absurdly long time period, but I really didn’t have much interest in going through the process of buying new ones.

That is, until I came across Warby Parker, an exclusively online retailer of fashionable glasses.  Unbelievably, Warby Parker will send you a pair of glasses, including prescription scratch resistant and anti-reflective polycarbonate lenses for $95.  That’s right, I just said that you can get a cool pair of glasses, including prescription lenses and frames, for $95.  With free shipping.  And, you can even have them send you 5 pairs of glasses (without prescription lenses installed) to you to try-on at home and make your decision – once again, for free (although this is depending on how much stock they have, and availability has been hit-or-miss).  You can also upload a picture and do a “virtual try-on” directly on their website.  They also have a fantastic, no-hassle, no-questions return policy if you get your glasses and aren’t entirely satisfied – you guessed it, returns, even postage for them, are entirely free.  But wait, there’s more…  When you buy a pair of their glasses, they’ve agreed to give a pair away to someone who needs it in the poorer areas of the world. Amazingly, your $95 makes you charitable too! Continue reading ‘One Guy Recommends: Warby Parker Glasses’

18
Nov
10

One Guy Recommends: J. Crew’s Upcoming Canadian Invasion


I make no bones about really liking what J. Crew has been up to the last few years, and I’m definitely not alone in this opinion.  Collaborations with such hallowed names as Belstaff, Barbour, Alden, Crockett & Jones, Globetrotter, Baracuta, Mackintosh, Woolrich, Thomas Mason, Levi’s, Sperry, adidas, Converse Jack Purcell, Selima Optique, Timex, Red Wing, Quoddy, Mister Freedom, Clark’s and Rolex have made them a one-stop shopping destination for some of the coolest gear out there.  This is an idea that’s turned out so well, that it’s been borrowed by their competitors, including Banana Republic.  Furthermore, their everyday collection has reached nearly “must-have” status for style (and budget conscious) gentlemen, with their “secret wash” cotton button down shirts being first choice weekend wear for me, with their casually rumpled cool.  In other words, the men (and women) at J. Crew have really created something special out of a brand that, 5 or 6 years ago, was kind of like a Toyota Camry: reliable, but entirely unremarkable.

The only big downside for Canadian J. Crew fans is that we don’t have any actual, brick-and-mortar, J. Crew stores.  We’ve been stuck shopping online and via catalogue.  This doesn’t seem too bad on the surface, but shopping in this way creates two major issues: first, you have to tack on international shipping to every order, even a pair of socks; and second, Canadians get hit by nasty customs duties and the infamous “customs brokerage fees” that UPS arbitrarily pays itself.  I’ve had orders almost double in price because of these two nasty little additions.  Plus, there’s the fact that you can’t try anything on before you buy it unless you want to cross the border and pretty much anything you purchase takes a week and half to get to you.


Well fellow Canadians, this will soon be a thing of the past – if you live in Toronto, that is.  According to their new catalog, J. Crew is opening a store in Toronto in 2011.  Details are minimal right now, but at least we have a fixed date to look forward to.  In the mean time, you can check out J. Crew’s online store here.

27
Oct
10

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: http://www.bananarepublic.com in the U.S., or http://www.bananarepublic.ca 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).

02
Jun
10

One Guy Recommends: The Undershirt


Continuing on the theme of my post about Sea Island cotton shirts, it’s summer and it’s HOT.  I’m not all that sweaty a guy, but when you’re walking around downtown in blazing heat with a suit jacket on, it doesn’t matter: you’re getting sweaty.  The telltale sign is of course the infamous “pit stain”, harbinger of the creepy dude at the office.  If there’s one thing you do not want to be, it’s the creepy dude at the office.

The best way I’ve found of preventing this is wearing an undershirt.  I go with regular white or grey t-shirts, either crew neck or v-neck depending on whether I’m wearing a tie.  The two that I’ve found to be the absolute best bang for your buck in the undershirt world are those made by Hanes (available at any Walmart or pretty much any other down-market retailer) and those by Joe Fresh at Loblaws/Superstore.  Not only are they absurdly cheap, so you can really stock your closet with them, but they’re soft enough that they’ll soon be one of your favourite things to lounge around the house in (ladies, somewhat surprisingly, have reported that this can be a sexy look as well – further food for thought).  Continue reading ‘One Guy Recommends: The Undershirt’




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