Cityscape

Apparently the best way to inspire me to write a post these days is to give it an abstract theme. Maybe I’ve been out of creative writing classes for too long. Or maybe all the aesthetic posts on Tumblr are starting to make me think differently. Who knows?

Any way, as I’ve traveled it has become increasingly clear to me that, while we may say all big cities are the same, every place has a feeling all its own. At times I can sum it up in just a word or two that encompasses the feeling of a place.

This post is less about the actual style of these cities, but more about styles that embody their feeling. Some of it overlaps.

Also, I recognize that I picked the four most obvious cities that one would expect in a post like this. (high-five self). But I wanted to pick cities I have visited–three of them more than once–and that I could identify a comparable style for, so this is what you get.

cityscape

New York is….gritty and electric

New York is one of those cities where you can turn a corner or walk far enough down a street and suddenly feel like you are in a totally different place. You can go from some of the nicest neighborhoods in the world to centers of business and economy to trash piled on side streets. It really never sleeps, horns and sirens echo through the brightly lit night sky at all hours.

New York is hyper-masculine white t-shirts and leather jackets. It is dark business suits. It is ready for anything, armed to the gills with tech and layers of clothes to keep you going all day.

cityscape2

Paris is….elegant and magical

Paris feels unlike any place I’ve ever been. It is ornate and majestic, without being loud or aggressive. It is elegant white buildings with small wrought-iron balconies. It’s a glittering dream and somehow effortlessly cool at the same time. Paris is proud and historic, with ghosts of the past down every boulevard and alley. Paris could beat you in a fight, but would probably just turn its nose up instead.

Paris is either all dark or all pastels. It is sleek lines and tailored clothes. It is funky mixed patterned and pops of artist colors. It is totally clean and a little purposefully disheveled.

cityscape1

Los Angeles is…free and loud.

Los Angeles is a city of dreamers and artists and people looking to make their way into a sunnier future. It is expansive manors and apartments stacked crookedly and high. It is bright sun and righter colors. It is self-expression and carefully honed looks. It’s a little cheeky, but laid back. It is eternal summer.

Los Angeles is bright colors mixed with loud patterns. It is jackets and beanies when it is way too hot to justify them. It’s jean jackets and tank tops and sunglasses. It’s sleeves and pants that are just a little too short.

cityscape3

London is…comfortable and unforgetting.

London has a long memory. It’s streets still know the kings and peasants that used to walk them. It is a cup of tea and a biscuit on a rainy day with stacks of books and warm blankets. It is personal and anonymous. It is classic and a little shy, but ultimately cooler than you. It has as much culture as it does history. It is a place you want to be a part of.

London is shirts buttoned all the way up. It’s cozy sweaters and wool coats. It is skinny jeans and leather boots. It is dark neutrals and thick scarves. London is layers at all times of year.

 

Part of the reason I love to travel is how even in the smallest details, nothing is the same. I hope to do more of this series and include cities like Portland, Munich, and Rome. Let me know if there are any cities you’d like to see and the feelings they embody.

(How obvious is it that I have spent the least time in LA?)

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Subtlety is Key

“Menswear is about subtlety. It’s about good style and good taste” -Alexander McQueen

There’s a reason we have so often warned against clothes, particularly t-shirts, with obvious logos, brand names, or photos on them. Even if it is a well-know, well-respected, or frankly, expensive brand, having a logo branded across your chest looks a little less than sophisticated.

Also this

Truth from Ian Bohen

is a problem most easily hidden with plain, nondescript shirts.

But, occasionally, a shirt is just too good to pass up or let go. So here’s what you do when that is the case:

Note: Funny phrases are rarely as clever as you think they are. Avoid trying to wear your humor on your literal sleeve.

Aim for black and white or a neutral and one other color. This keeps even a busy image simple and doesn’t draw the eye to quiet the same degree.

Another way to tone down the message/focus on the shirt is to layer. Use another shirt or jacket to cover part of the design, making it interesting, but not the focus.

subtle logos

There are times where it is okay to try to be witty – and that is when you are unabashedly, but subtlely, reping yourself. This Stark Direwolf/Iron Man shirt is clever, but it is infinitely better on Kit Harrington and Robert Downey Jr. It’s an extra level of inside joke. Most people can’t really get this, but you know, it was worth mentioning.

Too Clever

And my personal favorite is this hat:

Blake.

Bob Morely wearing this hat at Comic Con is a clear reference to his character, Bellamy Blake. But, the hat is vague enough that it could literally refer to anything. I want one – do I love the retired tennis player James Blake, or the Romantic poet William Blake, the character Bellamy Blake? You don’t know*! I love it.

*It’s a trick question, the answer is all three. (Although full disclosure: my favorite Romantic poet is John Keats. I would gladly accept a hat that read “Keats.”

Guide to Semi-Formal

I think we’ve all received an invitation that included a dress code and we honestly didn’t know what it meant. The rules for these seem so fluid, but at times they really aren’t, which makes the whole issue more stressful. Some are easy – the ultra formal white tie and formal black tie  have pretty clear rules – but the more common ones are generally more confusing.

This post is inspired by an event I’ve been planning for work that is “semi-formal,” which in my area could mean really anything. The western US is, generally speaking, a pretty casual place, so I did some research.

Searching for semi-formal menswear is basically like typing “clothes” into google. And all of the more specific rules I did find varied from site to site, so here is my synthesis of what you should wear to a semi-formal event.

Evening Events (after 6 pm)

evening semi formal

Do not wear a tux – that is black tie or formal – but you should wear a dark jacket. I would also lean toward dark slacks or a full suit. A tie is probably advisable, although it can be colorful or patterned. Shirts can also maybe be colored, but I would avoid anything too wild.

Be sure to take into account the type of event. Weddings should probably be more formal, whereas cocktail parties allow for a little more play.

Day Events (before 6 pm)

day semi formal

Day events have the same basic rules, although suits do not need to be dark. In fact, it is probably more appropriate to go with khaki/tan or grey (even navy is better than black for a day event). By their nature, day events tend to be a little more casual, so you could forgo the tie or play with colors, but again read the event.

An outdoor wedding is going to be more casual than an indoor, especially during the day. A garden party is usually more casual than a cocktail party (unless the former is with the queen).

In more casual places, like my hometown, you could probably really tone it down and no one would bat an eye, but here I defer to Oscar Wilde’s immortal words “You can never be overdressed or over-educated.”

Oscar Wilde on fashion

And if you are going to trust any author about fashion, let it be Mr. Wilde.

The Lightness of Spring

I’m calling it. Spring is almost here. Maybe it is the unseasonably sunny days we’ve been having or the fact that I’m avoiding finals, but I think it’s time to embrace the coming spring.

Spring weather is different everywhere, but where I’m from it definitely still requires a jacket. The sun is out, but it isn’t necessarily warm, which is why I’ve talked about spring layers before. So this time I think I’ll focus on the colors and textures that are just right for when the weather is starting to warm up out of the winter darks.

Most often spring colors tend to be what we often call Easter colors, or those light pastels. Now these often aren’t considered the most manly colors, but that is a horrible rumor that we should just end. I would bet that most working men already own a light blue button up or two because they are so ubiquitous.

Spring colors

Find the pastels that work best for your skin tone. My dad is blonde and fair-skinned, so he rarely wears yellow, but he looks good in almost any shade of blue because it matches his eyes. If you’ve got reddish undertones, maybe steer away from pinks. And men with darker skin look good in almost any light color.

These colors are gentle, but bright, and their fabric should match. Spring is the perfect time for fabrics like linen, lighter knits, and, as always, cotton. Suits don’t need to be as heavy, so go for a slimmer approach. If you are layering, look to trench coats and denim jackets. Chunky sweaters are more of a winter look, so maybe start to ease them out (unless you are going on a chilly spring beach adventure, of course).

Most of all dress to the weather. Don’t forgo a warm coat if it is still freezing where you live, but also don’t add unnecessary layers if it is a beautiful day. I wish you wonderful sunny days ahead.

Springwear

If you are really curious about your undertones and what colors look best on you:

  • Cool undertones are often found in those with  blue, gray, or green eyes paired with blond, brown, or black hair with hints of blue, silver, violet, or ash.
  • Warm undertones often have brown, amber, or hazel eyes with strawberry blond, red, brown, or black hair with undertones of gold, red, orange, or yellow

This is not a foolproof way of determining skin tone. I used information from a Stylecaster article aimed at women, but colors don’t know gender. They list some other ways of determining your colors in the link above.

 

 

This and That

Let’s play a game of This and That, a game I’m inventing where I give you a picture or two and we talk about the differences and whether or not one is better.

Round 1: Let’s Start at the Top Fran and his lovely locks Okay, here we have two pictures of the lovely and ever talented Fran Kranz. In both pictures his hair is disheveled, but one is elegant and the other eccentric. Now the right picture is still charming in a quirky, Fran Kranz-ian way, but I think we can all agree that the left is more appropriate for most occasions. Really the left is a good demonstration of what I love in a hair style, long enough that it has texture without looking dirty or like a mad scientist.

Round 2: The Chambray Shirt

Chambray ShirtsThis pairing actually has no clear winner, it is just a question of location and appropriateness. The left has an inherent raw rock and roll feel to it, with skinny jeans, boots, and a white V-neck. It is a casual and confident look. The right is a more sophisticated look that may even be appropriate for more casual workplaces. By buttoning the shirt all the way, like one would a dress shirt, and pairing it with non-denim trousers it becomes a more polished look.

Round 3: The Waistcoat / Vest

Logan and Andy and VestsThis one is also less of a “better or worse” case and more of a “read the room” scenario. Logan Lerman’s (left) look is more formal with a tie and a tucked in shirt, while Andy Murray’s (right) is willfully casual with a slightly rumpled shirt. I would give some preference to Logan’s look because the fit is spot on and the outfit holds more visual interest with the stripes and noticeable buttons. Also this is apparently the standard “I’m wearing a vest” pose.

Round 4: Same Event, Different Take

Daniel and Tyler Go to a PartyAt a recent Comic Con connected event, Teen Wolf costars Daniel Sharman (left) and Tyler Posey (right) chose very different outfits. While both are casual, and as far as I’m aware, appropriate for said event, one is the clear winner in my (and WAMSW’s) book. Daniel’s simple grey button-up tucked into dark jeans and a leather belt is an understated classy. Posey’s t-shirt fits well, but it and his hat are inherently more casual, especially when bedecked in logos. If Daniel’s shirt looks inadequately tucked in, that’s just because he is exceedingly tall.

Round 5: Too Classy and Cool

Zac and John Look Better than YouPlain and simple, you should own both of these outfits; these men look incredible. Zac Efron (left) is dressing up his comfy airport look with a textured (possibly tweed) blazer and a sophisticated take on a duffel bag. John Krazinski (right) on the other hand is turning a crisp white shirt and well pressed trousers a little dangerous with a leather jacket and wayfarers. Well done, sirs, well done.

Final Round: The Classic WAMSW Focus on Fit

Fitty FitObserve. One is unnecessarily huge, the other fits. One Jacket nips in at the waist, one hangs like an old sack. One has legs, the others has tents that may contain legs. If this isn’t enough for you, look to Steve Carell’s makeover by Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love and how much better he looks once he actually buys the right size suit.

How did you score in my made-up game? In this version, like Who’s Line is it Anyway, the points don’t really matter. But in real life:

My friend sent me this lovely graphic…or man’s, or your own….

The Pants in your (Wardrobe) Relationship

It seems crazy, but we are already fast approaching back to school time, which means jean shopping. And even those no longer in the back to school stage of life, it is almost the time of the year for reshelving shorts. I’m sad about it too. But we’re still going to have a quick look at casual pants for fall.

Whether jeans, khakis, or colored denim, there are four basic fits: Slim, Straight-leg, Classic, and Relaxed. Slim fit hugs your legs all the way down without being too clingy like something labeled “skinny” or a woman’s jean might be. Straight-leg is about the same fit as a slim on the thigh, but then follows a straight line down (bet you couldn’t have guessed that). We at WAMSW particularly like these first two. A classic fit is a little looser all over; to me this fit is just a little less polished and could veer into the very real problem of dad jeans. Relaxed fit is the loosest and allows for a large range of motion (personally I think all jeans allow for more than enough motion). GQ’s jean guide made the good point of saying if you want to go for a relaxed fit, you still have to wear a belt and wear the jeans on your hips like a real man. On a similar note, never use the word “swag” to describe your wardrobe.

We've come a long way since the 90s

Don’t get me wrong I love me some Erik von Detten, but please shy away from anything like those atrocious 90s pants.

Some other tips that I found from true professional men’s jeans connoisseurs were:

  • Shorter men should always wear a tapered leg.
  • Jeans tend to stretch, so lean towards too small, rather than too large, especially if they have any spandex in them.
  • Giant logos, or even too elaborate and fancy back-pocket stitching, does not leave a good impression, avoid it at all costs.

When it comes to washes (meaning the color of your jeans or pants) it is always safe to stick to dark colors. Vintage-y washes (worn, not acid washed) are also a pretty safe choice, although less dressy. Light denim has a large overlap with dad jeans, which even if you are a father, are a bad thing. Brighter colors are also still huge.

If you aren’t huge into jeans or want something just a little more dressy, other solid, but still functional trousers are becoming more and more common. Khakis or darker versions add nice variety to a wardrobe, as long as they are too baggy or cargo or any other hallmarks of the late-90s/early-2000s era.

casual pantsThere is something distinctly awesome about the upper-left pair.

For more info: GQ’s How to Buy Jeans

The Mad Hatters

Captian Mal

Scrolling through mine and Rachel’s photo archives of well dressed men (housed largely here and here, if you are interested) it becomes clear that there are very few hats. Sure you may find a plethora of beanies pushed back to perfection, which is always okay in our book, but trust me after spending today out in the heat and humidity of our nation’s capital, it is not beanie weather.

There are tons of reasons one may want to wear a hat in the summer–e.g. to shade your face, to hide a receding hairline, to hide from paparazzi, to complete an outfit–so here is our advice on summer hats.

Let’s start with the basic baseball cap. The most utilitarian of hats (excluding perhaps fishing hats, pith helmets, and well all other helmets), it is perfect for keeping the sun off your face and out of your eyes. Seems like you can’t go wrong? Well, here are some guidelines: 1) No flat brims. I know it is supposed to have “swag” or somesuch thing, but that real isn’t something you want anyway. Maybe a particularly cool, vintage-y one, but in general don’t. Get yourself a nice broken-in brim that will actually shade your face. 1 1/2) NEVER EVER leave the size sticker on your hat; no one wants to know how big your head is. 2) We like our hat logos like we like our shirt logos: minimal or invisible. Unless you are currently at a sports game, we don’t care who you support. 3) Don’t wear your hat backwards, there is no point. Seriously if you can give me one good reason for wearing a cap backwards, you have my blessing. Sure Tyler Posey looks adorable in that picture, but that is because Tyler Posey is a real life human puppy (check the internet).

The baseball cap

Round two, the fedora. Never has a hat caused so much controversy. Everyone wants to pull it off, almost no one does. The thing is, fedoras, for some reason, have the innate ability to make the wearer super smarmy. I mean who really knows if Johnny Depp’s hair was that greasy before he put the hat on or if the fedora did it to him. Basically our advice here is: before you purchase one be sure you will wear it, don’t buy spontaneously, and probably get at least one second opinion. Unless you are Indiana Jones, then by all means carry on.

The fedora

The jury is still out on flat caps. I’ve never hated one, but I’ve also never loved one. Use with discretion.

The flat cap

And the always please wear: beanies. We still love them. Find a thin summer one for some extra flair. And bowler hats. I know you are probably confused by that one, but if you can pull it off and not look like a time traveler (or maybe like a really attractive time traveler) that is huge bonus points.

The beanie and bowler

Hat’s off to you!