Friday, July 30, 2010

J. Crew Sale

Nora calls my attention to J. Crew, which has an extra 30% off its sale items right now.  J. Crew makes excellent business-casual and casual wardrobe essentials.  Perhaps consider some 7"-inseam Go to Hell shorts.  Or these swim trunks, which I own and love.

Okay, granted, "Go to Hell" usually means some crazy-loud madras pattern.  But I also use it to mean showing off my pasty-white thighs.  I'll get a tan once summer rolls around.

Wait, is it really August in two days?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Punctilios: Abstain

Discovered a stain on the back leg of these shorts.  Added some Spray-n-Wash and threw them in the hamper.  Scary thought: no idea how long the obvious stain had been there.  I try to give advice that is reasonable and not over-the-top obsessive, but I think it's wise to check any light-colored pants, shorts, or shirts for stains before you put them on.

Yet another reason to iron your own shirts--gives you ready opportunity to check every surface for stains.

Love the texture of this fabric.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Color Is Hard: Navy and Light Blue

I saw a guy wearing a navy suit with a blue* shirt the other day, and it looked pretty good, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  This was the result.  Apologies for the flash washout.  The dark half of the ovals on the tie picks up the slacks and jacket, the light half picks up the shirt, and the little white dots (yeah, they're white, I know, color balance issues) pick up the shirt's white background.

Overall impression?  It looks good.  Almost too good.  Not quite enough contrast for my taste.  Maybe I love white dress shirts too much.  Color is hard.


*When it comes to men's shirtings, "blue" usually means that kind of light gray/sky blue that is the classic Polo button-down color.  As opposed to French blue.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Fix: Crooked Cuffs

Often, my right-hand French cuff will look like this after I fasten it--the below-link portion is straight, and the above-link portion flares toward my body.  This doesn't happen on brand-new shirts because the two pieces of fabric composing the cuff are the same length.  But after many washings (or one, at my dry cleaners), the unfinished side seems to shrink a bit faster than the finished side.  This may be because the fabric is thinner.

Anyway!  The solution is simple.  Stick your other hand's index finger into the cuff (from left to right, from this picture's perspective), between your wrist and the cufflink, as far as it will go.  Do you feel that bump of fabric?  That's the culprit.  Now pinch the outer cuff face with your thumb, apply some pressure with your index finger, and move the lump about 180 degrees around your wrist.  The move will get lose some of the bump naturally, and the remainder won't be so obvious halfway around the world, so to speak.  The cuff ends should now line up nicely.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Punctilios: Besom Pockets

Behold, an illustrative diagram.  On the left, you see a flap pocket, standard issue on men's suits these days.  But wait--what is that?--there on the right?--is it a bird? a plane?--no, it's a besom pocket, rarer still than Superman.

Flap pockets are a newer design than besom pockets.  The Fourth Earl/King/Gurkha of Whateverceistershire in the Northumberland popularized the flap pocket by sheer force of will.  (True story; the names have been changed to protect my ignorance.)  You still see besom pockets in formal settings, such as tuxedos.

Good news!  Many men's suits can be turned into besom-pocket suits for a slightly different but still very refined look.  Just lift the flap and remove the stitches keeping the pocket closed.  A pocket knife or seam ripper will do nicely.  Then tuck in the flap.  If the pocket's lower, previously hidden edge is finished, voila! besom pocket.

N.B. Several dry cleanings may have left an imprint on your jacket:

If so, take it back (or take a hand-steamer to it) and see if you can knock out the rectangular border left behind.  If not, pull the pocket flap back out and voila! flap pocket, still very respectable.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mythbusters: Necktie Blade Length Issue

Brooks Brothers offers a great guide to tying necktie knots.  Great except in one regard: for every knot, no matter the size, the reader is instructed to ensure that the rear blade (the narrower of the two strands of necktie hanging from the knot) is the same length as the front blade--the one that everybody sees.

This is categorically bad advice.  The only time you should worry about the rear blade is when you make sure that it is not longer than the visible front blade.

I honestly have no idea why they say "blades should be the same length on every single knot".  If you follow that advice with a Full Windsor, you will look like this rather than this.  Occasionally, the blades will be the same length when I wear a four-in-hand, as they did for me the other day

but that is neither here nor there.  Men's chests are different lengths, whereas most neckties have very similar lengths.  Just worry about whether the front blade reaches your belt, and you'll be fine.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Vacation: Rental Tuxedos

I'm in Frisco, Texas (near Dallas) today and tomorrow for my friend's wedding at Fairytale Manor (can't find the place's actual homepage).  As a member of the wedding party, I will be issued a rented tuxedo for matching purposes.  This is standard practice designed to keep the groomsmen looking as consistent as possible for photograph and at-the-altar views.

There might have been a day when this wasn't necessary--when every gentleman could be expected to own a single-button black tuxedo with grosgrain, peak lapels--but it's gotten to where such a tux is impossible to find at any menswear store.  (Jos. A. Bank, for example, sticks with notch-lapel tux jackets.)  Nevermind the monstrosities one finds at a high-school prom anywhere in the country.

And why would a gentleman own a tux these days, anyway?  I've been to about seven weddings; only one required a tux of its male guests, and I was in middle school at the time.  Other than weddings, there are so few opportunities to wear the damned thing.  I lamented this the other night with my girlfriend's parents.

When do YOU wear a tux?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Necessaries: Nice Shorts

The test results are in: Men's legs are just not all that appealing.  However, it's bloody hot and humid in D.C. these days, and we have to do something on the weekends.  Jeans are not an option, so the question becomes: How do we maximize our shorts-wearing?  A few rules, proposed by yours truly:

1.  No pleats.
2.  No cargo pockets.
3.  Narrower leg openings.
4.  A color other than khaki.
5.  For god's sake, buy them in the correct size for your body.

These are a half-cotton/half-linen pair I got in a big sale at Banana Republic.  $20 or so, if memory serves.  They have some gray and some white in them, but they look more blue when paired with a blue shirt.  In other words, very versatile.  I like to wear them with my Chuck Taylors.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Peace Of Mind

A glorious sight: my closet, with all my shirts ironed and most of my suits ready for wearing.  (Two are still at the tailor.)  The color balance of my photos is off as usual, but those two shirts on the far right are white.  That thing on the very very far right is my tie rack.  (I have about 12 ties right now.)

So many possible combinations.  For example, the purple shirt and the blue one to its left go equally well with the gray suit second from the left.  The French blue shirt and the tan one go equally well with the gray suit on the far right because it has a blue pinstripe as well as a tan one.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Coping With Buyer's Remorse, Method 1

When I got this new green suit from Jos. A. Bank back from the tailor, I realized that it has gigantic (albeit graceful) lapels.  My solution?  A fat knot on a wide gold necktie and a white pocket square.  The little bit of extra goings-on helped break up the rather starkly large lines you can see here.

I'll get a picture of the ensemble the next time I wear it.