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Fall Essentials: Jackets

When it comes to building a wardrobe, fall should be your favorite time of the sartorial year. You get to pile on layers upon layers: cardigans and scarves; knits, wovens and henleys on button downs on sweaters….I could go on.
Let’s talk jackets—the most important piece. Choices are endless, but in a pinch I’ll go ahead and say you only need one: a nice blazer in a charcoal color.
3) rag & bone button down, 14.5 oz selvedge “Henley” denim by Baldwin, desert boots by Clarks.

This is one of the most expensive pieces I first bit the bullet on after I graduated college. But that’s okay: There comes a time in a new man’s life when you gotta. This guy has been my lifesaver, my wool blend charcoal blazer by Billtornade.

Above: Shrunken wool-blend blazer by Billtornade, baby blue oxford by American Apparel, thrifted striped tie, natural leather belt by Urban Outfitters, 14.5 selvedge “Henley” denim by Baldwin Denim.

A navy blazer is another solid option. A nice weight with a little sheen never hurt either.

Above: Blue cotton blazer by Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen, oxford button-down by American Apparel, wool tie by BDG, corduroy pants by rag & bone.

Or a camel blazer that looks sick with a nice pair of olive chinos, dark-wash denim and charcoal slacks.

Above: Shrunken wool-blend blazer by Billtornade, thrifted camel feather suede blazer by Lanvin, cotton navy military jacket by J.Crew.

Or, throw a curveball:

A well-loved leather bomber, a nice wool coat or a cotton hunting jacket.


Above: Thrifted brown leather bomber jacket, 14.5 selvedge “Henley” denim by Baldwin Denim, mustard suede derbys by 1901.

On Oliver: Selvedge denim, black wool “University” jacket, navy grandpa cardigan, grey chambray button-down and wool plaid tie—all by J.Crew.

On Jeff: Thrifted cotton hunting jacket by J.Crew, fire-red down sweater by Patagonia, 14.5 oz selvedge “Henley denim by Baldwin Denim.

Whatever your pick, wear it. A third piece is always nice to have and surely ties the outfit together.

ETIQUETTE: Compliments

A man should know how to compliment a woman’s appearance. But ask the nearest lady, and she’ll tell you that when it does happen, it too often sounds like an oafish come-on. It shouldn’t need to be said—but we will anyway—that focusing all the attention on her sexuality is out of line. The art of the compliment is not a free pass to get suggestive; it’s an opportunity to make her feel great about herself. Here’s how:

Say it right away. This particular brand of admiration is appearance-based. So as soon as you see her, tell her how lovely she is. Wait too long, and it’ll seem like you’re searching for something to say.

Don’t use a 5-cent word. Avoid anything even remotely similar to hot, sexy, smoking, etc. Don’t make her feel like a piece of meat. At worst, it’s offensive; at best, it displays a glaring lack of creativity. Women are objectified enough as it is. Be the exception. And for God’s sake, don’t say she looks “nice.” It’s like telling a guy he’s “cute”—the most mediocre praise.

Don’t use a 50-cent word. Steer clear of words like ravishing. Beyond the term’s sometimes vulgar connotation, it’s also a measure of grandiloquence that’s probably best reserved for your poetic efforts. Instead, opt for something simple yet charming. Beautiful, lovely, glowing, wonderful, stunning, gorgeous, and terrific are all appropriate; pick one that feels natural.

Be specific. The essence is in the details. Mention what catches your eye. Then say why you noticed it. Nicole and Jena from The Style Tribe are brilliant examples.

Nicole, that belt looks terrific. The dog-head buckle is so unique; it reminds me of the labrador retrievers my family had.

Love your bag, Jena. It’s classy and low-profile, but you can see how well-made and detailed it is. How long have you had it?

Similar rules apply for the dudes: Make it sincere, and be specific. “That sweater/those wingtips/that tie looks great. I’ve been looking all over the place for something like that. Where did you get it?”
He feels affirmed; you now know where to pick up some new digs.
Mean it. Don’t flatter for flattery’s sake. Be sincere the first time, and you won’t have to repeat yourself to seem genuine. And if you find yourself not noticing things things, work on becoming the kind of guy who pays attention.
Immediate, clear and heartfelt. Then leave it at that.

Photos: Maureen O’Hara and Marlon Brando (used under the Creative Commons license) from Flickr user slightlyterrific. Nicole and Jena from The Style Tribe. Cam, Jeff and Seth by us.

THRIFTY THURSDAY: Retro Crewneck

Dismayed by the fact that we haven’t published anything particularly thrifty recently, Jeff did us a solid and shouldered the responsibility of finding something sweet. On short notice, he smartly chose to focus his efforts at Seek Vintage.
Though a bit pricier (and obviously a better caliber) than Goodwill, the D.A.V., Salvation Army, Village Discount Outlet, etc., Seek almost always yields something affordable and worthwhile. This visit was no exception. He came away with a wool-blend crew neck sweater that’s the perfect palette to catapult us into fall.
He came over, we shot some photos in the harsh light of a nearby parking garage. And that’s that, mattress man.
On Jeff: Wool-blend retro crewneck sweater ($20, Seek Vintage); indigo button-up courtesy of Topman; rust-colored trousers (sale $20, reg. $70) by Zara; desert boots (sale $50 at Nordstrom Rack) by Clark’s.

WHAT NOT TO BUY

Something just because it’s a good deal.

Photo:
Khakis (31×30) from Gap, $45
blue striped shirt (attic)
Green sweater from Target, $5

ETIQUETTE: On Tipping

There’s a gulf: those outside the service industry who want to pay too little, and those in the service industry who ??

Here’s our rule of thumb:

Tip in paper.
Round the dollar up, then base your percentage off of that.
9.37 becomes 10.00, then make the total $12.
7.37 becomes 8.00; then tip a couple bucks.
Being generous is better than being tighter than a bull’s ass in fly season.

Give them the benefit of the doubt: don’t assume they’re taking a route that’s going to try to eek more money out of you. They could in fact be, but they also know the city better. This is their job.

From Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/topic/chicago-tipping-cab-drivers (Jan. 2008)

Allow me to ground you all in a more personal perspective, rather than all the hypotheticals about cab drivers.

My husband is a cab driver.

He is a great cab driver, one who keeps a clean cab, calls patrons “sir” or “m’am”, helps with baggage, and even gives free rides to cancer patients and others he has a big heart for. He showers daily, is well spoken, and more than willing to put whatever you would like on the radio.

You know what? He is still stereotyped into being an ignorant immigrant, propositioned for sex, has to deal with people getting waaaay too frisky while still in the cab, has had a gun held to his head, has to suck up the higher cost of gas while rates remain the same, and has to deal with people being jerks. He gets the perk of everyone assuming he is one of the worst drivers on the road. You know why he might take a different route than the one you think is most direct? Because he has driven the streets for so long that he knows he can get you there faster on a different route where there is not as much traffic or not as many traffic signals. It is only in his best interest to get you there as fast as he can, because he has another fare to pick up. More fares is always better.

Talking in generalities doesn’t really help. What if we started talking about all the salespeople? Or contractors? Or personal trainers? Some are great, some are poor.

But if you experience great service, it is worth a great tip. Period. And a great tip is 25%. A good tip is 20%. An ok tip is 15%. If your ride is less than a $5 fare, tipping a between $1-$2 is appropriate. On all fares, you can round to the dollar higher, and then base your percentage on that.

And, if you have a great cabbie, ask for his cell number so you can use his business in the future. My partner has plenty of clients who have an ongoing working relationship because they set up fares in advance, for example a 4 am pick up to Ohare.