Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Faux Pas: Metro Roundup!

After a particularly nasty encounter with a giant pothole (in Texas, it would've been filled with water and used as a swimmin' hole) on I-395, in which I valiantly struck the pothole and sacrificed my passenger-side wheels, I have been riding the Metro to work.  Apart from the Metro sucking, gentlemen, I've seen some bad habits on our part, and they are making me shrill!

1. Stains!  They are on your shirts, and sometimes, they are really big!  Kindly refer to The War on Stains series!  If these tactics do not work, discard the shirt and buy a new one!  You can get four quality white shirts for $20 each at Paul Fredrick!  The current coupon code is TZRSAZ!  SERIOUSLY YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY EXCUSES YOU DO NOT EVEN HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE

2. Ratty ties!  They are stained, they are torn, they are cheap-looking!  Go to Filene's Basement and stock up!  $15-$20 each!  Quality!

3. Stains!  Seriously, wow, inspect your clothes before you put them on!

4. Your tie is peeking out the back of your collar!  To avoid this, follow my handy protocol!

Gentlemen, people notice your clothes.  When you dress slovenly, people notice and their opinion of you is negatively affected.  When you dress crisply, people also notice.  I know many of you just have to wear slacks and a tie for work, but that doesn't mean you should wear your oldest slacks and your oldest tie and your oldest shirt.  Go clothes-shopping once every two months.  Watch for sales.  Clip coupons.  Donate clothes that are too big or too small.  If it's stained, donate it. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Secret Weapons: A Drill

This Western-style belt that I wrote about last week came to me too long, so I couldn't get it to fit properly even on the smallest-waist hole.

I pulled out my Ryobi drill driver ($30 at Home Depot and hella powerful for the price), inserted a drill bit that was the same size as the other belt holes, and drilled a new hole an inch tighter:

Now, the belt fits.  The hole is ugly, but the belt buckle covers it up when I wear it, so who cares?  I didn't have to RMA the belt, reorder, and wait for another one.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Color Is Hard: Casual

My favorite pair of Paper Denim & Cloth jeans, from Filene's, got too short somehow.  So, rather than pitch them or let out the hem for a half-inch that probably still would've been inadequate, I went the other direction and rolled the cuff a few times.  Paired with a shirt.woot called "Neo-Australia" and an old pair of Gap boat shoes, I felt very springtime.  The orange and blue worked well together; the green was kind of an afterthought/marriage of convenience, but it seemed to go with the orange somehow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What I've Learned: Jos. A. Bank

The Washington Post has a write-up of Jos. A. Bank; seems they're doing well despite the recession. 

If I haven't said it already, the vast majority of my suits have come from Jos. A. Bank, including my first black suit I bought for college-related purposes.  The article says it all--a good- (sometimes great- , as with the Signature Gold line) quality product at a great price point.

I learned a few things from the article:
1. They're from Baltimore. Neat.
2. My store--at 19th and M downtown--is their flagship.

What I already knew: They get through the lean times with sales and bank on people paying full price when there's no sale going on. 

For example: They just wrapped up a "buy one suit, get two free" sale, which is definitely the right price point.  Now, they have a "buy one at full price, pay $99 for the second, get the third FREE!" which is identical to the previous sale but $100 more expensive.  I don't begrudge them it, but their tactic appears to have been "generate interest with our best sale, then ratchet it back slightly to see how much buy-one-get-two business we can get despite a $100 premium."

Rule of thumb: never settle for less than a 66% discount off the list price for a JAB suit.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Days, You Get The Bear

 and some days, the bear gets you.

After taking that picture, I retied this necktie with exactly the same arrangement that I always do--that I just did!--shorter blade just brushing the third button down from the collar--and it lined up perfectly.  Luck is a whimsical mistress.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Casual: Breaking Up The Uniform

Brother Elliot recently asked if the "dude going-out uniform" was acceptable--dark jeans, an untucked button-down sport shirt, and loafers.  My answer to this question is an extremely un-emphatic "yes".  By the same token, the D.C lawyer's uniform is a suit, a button-collar dress shirt with barrel cuffs, a regimental tie, and beat-up laced cap-toes, but that doesn't mean we have to settle for that.

However, the solution to the Casual Uniform is not simple, so I'm going to spread it out over many posts as I gain little insights.  (I will be learning along with you.  My limited expertise is confined to business dress.)

Exhibit 1: An Interesting Belt.

I try to incorporate my Texas roots into my style, and this interchangeable-buckle belt (similar example) fits the bill.  Lord knows where I got the buckle.  I went through a belt-buckle phase in middle school for some reason, so this buckle is...well, an uncomfortably high number of years old.

Adds a little spice to jeans + button-down + loafers/boots/[your idea here].

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Necessaries: A Good Umbrella

Now that the D.C. monsoon season is upon us, a suit-wearing gentleman (indeed, any gentleman) needs a sturdy, large umbrella.  Shown is an approximately 30"-long specimen in the colors of my lex alma mater (aw-lay ool-skay in Pig Latin).  It resides by the door to my office because I have an attached garage at home and my office building and I drive to work because I can't stand commuting via Metro because I am a wilting flower.

When it is time for a new one (soon; as you can see, the upper Velcro clasp is no longer functional, and its sister is not long for the world), I may go a bit shorter.  The benefit of a golf umbrella is that you are dry; the detriment is that you are In The Way of other pedestrians.  Etiquette tip: lift your umbrella over the heads of shorter passers-by with umbrellas smaller than yours, to minimize your inconvenience to your fellows.

If you get caught in a drizzle, be sure to brush off your suit jacket's shoulders ASAP when you get inside--the padding will permanently deform if it gets thoroughly wet.  If you get caught in a downpour, remove your suit jacket, turn it inside out, and fold it in half vertically, then horizontally to surround the shoulders with expendable fabric. Protect the parcel with your body until you can get to dry land.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Color Is Hard: Burgundy Leather and Navy Wool

It is tempting to wear one's black shoes and belt (not shown) with a navy suit (shown).  Black and blue do not actually clash outright, but burgundy is infinitely better a match for any shade of blue--including dressy denim on the weekend.

Dark navy pinstripe suit, Jos. A Bank; belt, Macy's, $15 on sale; necktie, Filene's, $20; white shirt, Paul Fredrick, $20 (with coupon); burgundy shoes, Filene's, $80 (not shown).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Has the World Gone Mad?

The New York Times talks about "cheap" suits coming into style.  Let me be clear: "under $1,000" is not a cheap suit.  Sometimes, I think the main fashion writers at NYT, GQ, Esquire, et al. do not quite understand their readership demographic.  (Granted, they do talk about Topman and such.)  Or maybe I'm an aspirational reader.

Either way, Filene's Suit Event is on.  This means Hickey Freeman for $450.  If you're flush, it's an excellent investment.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Punctilios: The Keeper

There is a name for that loop on the back of your necktie: The Keeper.

As the necktie wends its way back into slightly-more-casual ensembles, its use provokes debate among partisans.  (Postulate: for every style opinion x of magnitude y, there is an equal and opposite opinion -x of magnitude y.)  To wit: Use or eschew(...s)?

Some like the look shown above, un-keepered, so that the two blades swing freely of one another. (Let me say again how much I love this suit/tie-shirt combination.  Today is a day for parentheticals.)  I like this approach in more casual settings.  But for the office, especially when one is walking around hunched over a draft court filing, the cleaner lines of a keepered (kept?) necktie are the way to go.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Two D.C. Gents with the Right Idea

Derringer Friday, a new tie-and-pocket-square outfit working out of D.C.  I like what they have to say about the suit-as-oddity despite the fact that so many of us wear them.

Thanks to Robin for the link.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Color Is Hard: Sometimes, Color Is Easy

A tie, seen to the left, full of springtime colors and energy picks up the light blue and white in my Brooks Brothers shirt.  This combination worked well with a light-gray suit and black cap-toes.

It is difficult to match your clothing to the seasons too closely when budget is a concern, but I felt positively out of place yesterday wearing a dark navy suit and deep red tie on the second real day of spring.