Never Full Retail

A young man's travels through the high seas of menswear on a budget akin to a rubber dinghy

Holiday Gift Guide: Ties and Cold-Weather Accessories

The last post of my Holiday Gift Guide is focusing on ties and cold-weather accessories.  We’ll start off with ties.

Ties

While it seems that ties are being worn less and less by today’s society, they still remain an important piece of the wardrobe to those who care about their appearance.  If you know a soon-to-be graduate, someone interviewing for jobs, or someone who just likes to wear ties, ties are a great gift.  The premiere name in ties is Drake’s of London, but they carry a hefty price tag.  Fortunately, there are affordable options for high-quality ties that are made (sometimes by hand) in the USA, England, or Italy.  The Knottery has a great selection of ties and pocket squares, with most coming in under $40.  Though a little more expensive, Mountain & Sackett and J. Press both make excellent ties.  Look in the sale section of both sites for excellent deals.  Kent Wang also carries great grenadine and knit ties, and right now you can get $150 credit for $80 by purchasing this deal with the code X1FUS.

Winter Boots

When it comes to winter boots, there’s only one answer: the classic L.L. Bean Boot.  The L.L. Bean Boot has been around for decades (actually celebrating its 100th anniversary this year), and will never go out of style.  Not only do they look good, they do what they’re supposed to do, keep the cold and wet of winter off your feet.  They come in a variety of styles, but order a size down unless you plan on wearing them with four pairs of wool socks.  Demand can be high in the winter, so they might be on backorder.  Don’t be tempted by imitators from competitors.  Not only are they not as good, but they aren’t backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Hats, Gloves, and Scarves

Cold winters require cold winter accessories such as hats, gloves, scarves.  I personally don’t wear too many hats or scarves as I don’t spend extended time outside.  That said, J. Crew  and Club Monaco have some good options at decent prices.  When it comes to winter accessories though, a pair of leather gloves cannot be beat.  Not only do they keep your hands warm outside, they keep a buffer between a cold steering wheel and sensitive hands.  The aforementioned retailers both carry leather gloves, but I like the Lined Leather Moto Gloves, unfortunately they only have XL in stock.  Ralph Lauren does carry a multitude of other gloves as well (also hats and scarves).  For a more affordable and perhaps more workwear inspired option, head to your nearest Tractor Supply and find a pair of yellow deerskin work gloves.  These gloves can look great (just make sure you grab the best looking pair available), and should be priced under $20 (though you might want to repackage them as some people would wonder why they got work gloves as a gift).

And thats all for the 2012 Holiday Gift Guide.  Keep up with the blog for news and opinions on men’s style.

Holiday Gift Guide: Miscellaneous

Today’s edition of the Holiday Gift Guide will recommend gift options that don’t have anything to do with men’s clothing or accessories.

Quality Headphones

If you’re buying a gift who is a fan of music or someone who travels in the air a lot, a set of good headphones is a great gift.  I personally like the offerings from Sennheiser, but many people have many different opinions when it comes to headphones.  So, it is best to do your research and determine how the headphones will likely be used and what environment they would be used in.  A great place to find reviews and opinions is AVForums.  One definite recommendation, stay away from Beats by Dre.  The audiophile community all agrees that they are overpriced and low quality.  They are a product of an excellent marketing strategy, and are a common target of thefts.

Art

Art might seem like a bit of an off the wall recommendation, but if you know a person’s interests, finding a cool and relevant piece of art can be easy.  For example, I’m a car fanatic and a fan of racing.  The picture above is a wall hanging made of wood that is in the shape of the Monte Carlo race route from Linear Edge. If buying for a big sports fan, find a print of a big moment of franchise.  Know a baseball fan? Consider a customized bat from Louisville Slugger.

Weekend Getaway

The last recommendation for this list is a weekend getaway.  Consider taking off work early on some Friday and spend the weekend your favorite city, whether that be Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco or New York.  Not only is it great to get away, the feeling when you get back home is always an excellent one.

Tomorrow will be the last day of the Holiday Gift Guide, focusing on ties and cold weather accessories.

Holiday Gift Guide: Accessories

While anybody can wear a nice shirt and nice pants, its the accessories that make one stand out.  The great thing about men’s accessories is that they make great gifts and tend to be timeless.  Many family heirlooms are a nice watch, a set of cuff links, or a tie bar.  Accessories can also be inexpensive when compared to the rest of an outfit, yet they have an ability to be focal point.

Socks

Socks seem to get a bad rap for being a terrible gift.  But have you ever received socks made by Pantherella?  I’ve heard their over-the-calf wool socks will make your feet and legs feel like a baby kangaroo in its mother’s pouch.  They also have cashmere options. Pantherella is carried at up-scale department stores, but the best prices on Pantherella are at Sierra Trading Post.  They will pop up from time to time on flash sale sites like Gilt, RueLaLa, and MyHabit.

Sunglasses

Everyone needs a pair a sunglasses.  There’s a reason the one’s you pick up at gas stations or dollar stores are so cheap.  In fact, some can be harmful for your eyes.  Pretty much every “name brand” sunglasses are made by Luxottica, so fit and finish will be similar across the board.  I have four pair of sunglasses, three of which are classic American styles, and it is these three that I recommend.  The first is the Persol 649, which is pictured above.  This style was popularized by actor, racecar driver, and general badass Steve McQueen.  Right now Amazon has some great deals on Persols.  My second recommendation is a pair of Wayfarers.  This is a style that JFK was quite fond of.  Ray-Ban is the classic manufacturer for this classic style.  Right now you can get an extra 30% off these at Club Monaco using the code SAVE30.  My last recommendation on sunglasses is the Aviator.  You have to tread carefully when getting a pair of aviotors because you don’t want to look like a tool.  I personally have a par from Randolph Engineering, a company that supplies eyewear to the US Military.  Another brand with a great reputation and a more affordable price point is American Optical.  AO is the brand astronauts like to wear.

Watches

While Omegas and Rolexes are beautiful and excellent watches, their price is considered stratospheric to most (though if it isn’t, I’ll gladly take the Omega Speedmaster pictured above).  If you want an automatic movement, you can’t go wrong with a Seiko 5.  The Japanese movement is reliable, precise, and relatively inexpensive, with most styles coming in under $100.  You can find a wide variety of   options on Amazon.  For a quartz movement, the Timex Weekender is a great option.  A popular trend with watches is removing the stock bands and replacing them with NATO straps.  This allows you to change your watch with your outfit.  Watch straps can be bought inexpensively at retailers like J. Crew or on eBay.

Tomorrow, I’ll offer some gift suggestions that don’t have anything to do with menswear.

Holiday Gift Guide: Pants, Sweaters, & Outerwear

Today’s edition of my 2012 Holiday Gift Guide will cover pants, sweaters, and outerwear.  Shirts tend to be the focal point of an outfit, but without quality pants and outer layers to bring it all together, the shirt doesn’t matter.

Pants

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I find that the key to comfortability in an outfit is pants.  Good pants make one look better and feel better.  A company that has been leading an online campaign for a “pantsformation” is Bonobos.  Bonobos carries a variety of cuts, colors, and fabrics of well-made pants at a fairly affordable price for the quality.  Check out the sale section for the best deals and look out for promo codes that will sometimes offer up to 30% off.  A speciality of Bonobos is their seasonal critter pants, such as this years Hanukkords, Polar Opposites, and Tiny Dancers.  These would be a great gift for someone who enjoys holiday socks and ties. (Here’s a $50 gift card if you’re a new customer to Bonobos)

Another good brand for pants is Bill’s Khakis.  The best deals for Bill’s Khakis can usually be found at Sierra Trading Post.  Despite this store looking like an outdoors oriented store, they carry some great brands and constantly have extra off promos.

Everyone has a favorite pair of jeans and I believe most would say its a pair of Levi’s.  Getting someone a new pair of their favorite cut of Levi’s is a gift that will last for years. I tend to like the 514 style, and I would recommend going with a dark wash.  If you want to splurge and get some raw selvedge jeans, my recommendation would be 3sixteen, you can about their philosophy here.  For a more affordable selvedge option, look at Gap’s offerings.  

If buying pants for someone else, know their actual measurements.  Many brands use vanity sizing, meaning something marked a 30 waist will actual measure 34 inches.  So check out the size chart of the brand you’re buying to see the measurements.  A couple of last points on pants: If you’re wearing a coat and tie in a non-casual setting, don’t wear a pair of pants in a 5-pocket style (meaning they are cut like jeans with rivets and coin pockets).  Secondly, a pair of jeans will be the best fitting and most comfortable if they are only washed when they start to smell.

Sweaters


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A nice sweater is a great layering device on colder days.  Sweaters come in all kinds of styles (shawl collar, crew neck, vee neck, cardigan, cable knit, etc.), patterns (solid, striped, tartan, fair isle), and fabrics (merino wool, lambswool, silk, cotton).  My favorite is a grey solid lambswool vee neck (though I did recently purchase the above picture fair isle from J. Crew Factory).  For the money, Uniqlo’s lambswool sweaters cannot be beat. A well made 100% lambswool for under $20 is ridiculous, and I’m impressed with the quality of mine.

For other options, Ralph Lauren’s soon to be defunct brand Rugby currently has this Shaggy Shetland Sweater on sale.  If you’re looking to spend a little bit more money, you can’t go wrong with anything from Ovadia & Sons; this lambswool crewneck with antelope suede elbow patches is at the top of my list.  If you just won the lottery, Brunello Cucinelli is the way to go (excellent article here on the “King of Cashmere”).  If you’re looking for cashmere go vintage and look at your local consignment shop or eBay.

Outerwear

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For outwear, nothing can be the US Navy Peacoat.  This classic is stylish and functional. They can be found vintage in consignment shops and on eBay.  But if you have qualms about giving a gift that is “used” (which makes total sense), military surplus stores should stock actual US Navy coats that were never issued or very good reproductions.

Holiday Gift Guide: Accessories will be posted tomorrow.

Holiday Gift Guide: Shirts

This is the first post of my 2012 Holiday Gift Guide, and today’s focus is going to be shirts. Many men these days do not care about clothes or if they do, they execute poorly by buying what’s on sale at Kohl’s or JCP (no offense to people that shop at Kohl’s or JCP, but that stuff isn’t quality, although JCP has been trying to step up their effort). So help out the men in your life and instead of getting them something they’ll never use, give them a piece of quality clothing by following my gift guide.

Shirts

Time to talk shirts. Many men do not understand the importance of shirts. Graphic tees, absurd patterns, and shirts that are cut two sizes too big are very prevalent in today’s world. There are basically three types of shirts: dress shirts, casual shirts, and tee shirts. My recommendations are below.

Dress Shirts

Dress shirts button up the front and have collars and more formal versions have French cuffs. The collar should not button down on the dress shirt, although that has become a popular style in the United States. When wearing a tie, a dress shirt should be worn, not a button-down collar. When it comes to shirt makers, there are two I consider to be very good value, Brooks Brothers and Charles Tyrwhitt. Brooks Brothers is the classic American brand and have a great reputation for quality. Charles Tyrwhitt is a British shirtmaker that I frequented while I was visiting England. Both of these retailers run frequent sales and their clearance sections often have good deals. Make sure you know your measurements before buying. A shirt with sleeves that are too short or too long looks bad and a shirt with a neck that doesn’t fit isn’t worth having. In addition, Brooks Brothers and Charles Tyrwhitt offer regular, slim, and extra-slim fit sizes. This means a shirt can be bought in an appropriate cut so it won’t look like a parachute when it is worn. I try to stay away from loud colors and patterns in dress shirts and tend to stick to the classics: solid white, solid blue, a subtle stripe or gingham, or a grid pattern.

In addition to the off the rack options, one can go the custom route. A custom made shirt is great because it is specifically made for your body measurements and not a large subset of an even larger population. Many online made-to-measure shirtmakers have popped up recently. These shirtmakers allow you to put in you’re measurements, choose your fabric, cut, buttons, collar style, cuff style, and other things. The one I have experience with is Modern Tailor. Prices are reasonable and the quality is better than what you’d find in most department stores. It can take a while to ship since they are made in China, but for new customers, they have a white fabric and blue fabric for under $30, which is a great price for two staples of menswear. Every man’s closet should have a white dress shirt and a blue dress shirt.

Casual Shirts


Casual shirts can be broken down into sport shirts and polo shirts. The sport shirt is the sporty cousin to the dress shirt. It buttons up the front and at the cuffs and it has buttons on its collar. The one sport shirt every male should have is the Oxford Collar Button Down. My favorite is the Polo Ralph Lauren one (I currently have 4, two whites, one blue, and one lilac). While some don’t like the Polo logo on the breast, I don’t mind. The previously mentioned Brooks Brothers carries their own version and I’ve heard good things about Land’s End’s offering. Again, the OCBD is a menswear staple and go for a white or blue first before venturing into other colors or stripes. Other sport shirts come in a variety of patterns and fabrics. I’m a sucker for Polo Ralph Lauren and its workwear inspired brand RRL. If you want something without the logo, go for Brooks Brothers. If they’re a bit out of your budget, Land’s End is good quality for the money and it’s Land’s End Canvas brand is more fashion-forward and young-adult oriented. Another brand I like is Club Monaco. Always check the measurements on sizing, as different brands fit different ways, and stay away from loud colors and patterns.

The polo shirt (and its long sleeve brother the rugby) is another casual shirt. Polo Ralph Lauren is an obvious popular choice when it comes to polos, but stay away from the obnoxious big logos and absurd patterns. Pretty much every brand has their own polo, but one I especially like is the one pictured above from Kent Wang, it features button cuffs and mother-of-pearl buttons.

Tee Shirts

At last, we come to the tee shirt. Everyone knows what a tee shirt is. Unfortunately, many don’t seem to know that wearing one with a ton of stuff screen printed on it is ugly. Stick to classic colors like white, grey, or navy. I like the offerings from Uniqlo, who recently launched their US online store. A plain short sleeve tee shirt in crew neck or vee neck for under $6 cannot be beat. Be on the look out for coupon codes for free shipping or discounts.

Tomorrow’s Holiday Gift Guide will focus on pants, sweaters, and outerwear. So, stay tuned.

I’ve been on hiatus for a while.  Graduated with my MBA, spent the summer in Europe (see michaelstravels.tumblr.com for my experiences), started work as a Software Engineer for a local company, and am now preparing to move in January.  Going to get back into posting on here now, and more than just WIWT selfies.  Enjoy some of my photography I’m going to make prints of for my house.

MBA Graduation Reception WIWT: Joseph Abboud unstructured blazer, Cremeuiex shirt, Club Room knit tie, Lands End suede loafers

MBA Graduation Reception WIWT: Joseph Abboud unstructured blazer, Cremeuiex shirt, Club Room knit tie, Lands End suede loafers

WIWT: Burberry suit, Cremieux shirt, Cremieux tie, Mezlan captoes

WIWT: Burberry suit, Cremieux shirt, Cremieux tie, Mezlan captoes

St. Patty’s Day WIWT: Dockers pants, Polo Ralph Lauren pocket tee, Benjamin Bixby cardigan

St. Patty’s Day WIWT: Dockers pants, Polo Ralph Lauren pocket tee, Benjamin Bixby cardigan