GQ’s Obsession With The Baby Collar and The Value of a Full Spread:
I have always questioned the logic and taste of stylists working in magazines. It seems as though they feature pieces that major designers push, regardless of appearance or details, and this is especially true when it comes to dress shirts. The main offender in this instance is GQ and its love affair with the baby point collar.
Without fail, Jim Nelson (EIC of GQ, pictured below) appears in every photo sporting a shirt with a tiny collar. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear a spread that reaches under the lapels of his jacket. You might say that he wears the collar to appropriate the 1.5” width of his ties, but honestly, that’s another issue. If you’re the Editor in Chief of the world’s biggest menswear magazine, you should look like a man, and your collar should look like a man’s collar.
So what is technically wrong with a small collar?
There are a few things that a small collar accomplishes, and none of them are positive if you’re more than sixteen years old. Firstly, a baby collar takes years off your image, and that’s not in a good way. A smaller collar gives the impression that the wearer is young, a bit too young to be wearing a suit. The collar also makes your head appear much larger than the proportions of your body dictate, inspiring another characteristic of children.
A small collar also calls for a readjustment in proportion to your entire outfit. Primarily, a small collar needs a smaller tie knot; if you have a small opening between your collar points, a knot measuring more than an inch and a half can leave your neck looking constrained, drawing attention away from your face. Creating a need for a skinny tie is never a good thing, in my opinion, unless you’re headed to a Mad Men party or your pop-punk band’s first show outside of the garage.
When it comes down to it, the real problem I have with the baby collar is that it doesn’t rest under the lapels of a jacket, open or closed. In my book, if you can see the tips of your collar, you’re doing something wrong (unless we’re talking about a button-down collar). If your collar tips are showing, there are two unnecessary points of focus on your neck. taking away from the fluidity of your kit and highlighting the shirt as an individual piece, as opposed to a functioning part of a whole.
What it’s really all about is maintaing the image of your kit as an entire kit, not a bunch of singular pieces. When you look at an outfit, you want a sense of solidity and appropriateness in relation. If your shirt is standing out as a singular aspect, due to exposed collar points, that takes away from the seamlessness of your kit. The spread collar above remains nicely under the edges of my lapel, maintaining a fluid flow from tie to shirt, shirt to jacket, jacket to gillet. There is no interruption in that progression.
I buy my shirts with full spread and cutaway collars; I won’t buy a shirt that I am expecting to wear with a tie unless it will safely stay beneath my lapels when I am sitting, walking, or doing whatever the hell it is that I do. I own a few point collar shirts, but I wear them more casually, without a blazer. You can see, in the pictures above and below, that the tips of my collar are nowhere to be seen. The cutaway contrast and plaid collars and the spread blue striped collar achieve this qualification perfectly.
Some strict menswear aficionados will say that you should choose your collar solely on how it frames your face; Although that makes sense, I respectfully disagree. When choosing a shirt collar, the length and ability to nest under my blazer is the main priority. That being said, I think the full spread collar is the best option for the average man. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, Italian, or dramatic, go for a cutaway.
I will say that GQ is starting to do a better job, incorporating appropriate spreads into their editorials and features, and they aren’t the only offender in supporting the baby collar. There are plenty of magazines, blogs, and millions of people who promote and wear collars of underwhelming size. It’s an epidemic of massive proportions and little recognition. My only advice is this: the next time you go to buy a shirt, wear a jacket, respect your neck, and don’t buy a baby collar.
November 7, 2013
The New Flannel, a Refinement in Fabric:
Flannel is back. You’ve heard this before; Kurt Cobain, the grunge revival, and whatever the hell else flannel used to mean is still cool. The thick fabric, full of pills, you wore to that one bon fire, that one time, to make that one girl think you were edgy or something is still cool? Well, kind of. Flannel has been synonymous with grunge, art students, lumberjacks, and that shitty acoustic guitar player from high school for decades. That’s just the way it is, and that’s the way flannel, as the masses know it, will continue to be viewed for a while longer.
However, there is another flannel shirt making its way onto the horizon, a modern option for the sartorially inclined man. Over the past five years (as you probably already know), there has been a movement in menswear, calling for tailored clothing that can be worn casually. The product of this movement, in a few words, is an image of casual elegance, and the flannel shirt has started to follow in this menswear movement’s tracks.
Over the past few seasons, the presence of lightweight flannel in shirting has increased steadily, and the pieces have been far from the heavy, point-collar flannel shirts of the past. A lightweight flannel allows for a more elegant drape and youthful cut. The fabric lends itself quite perfectly to the casual elegance, sought after by today’s man. The softness and comfort of flannel, paired with modern cuts, details, and furnishings, creates an incredibly beautiful shirt that doesn’t immediately bring Seattle and the grunge movement to mind.
Since lightweight flannel acts in the same ways a poplin or oxford fabric would, the possibilities in shirting are endless. That being said, above I’ve chosen a few different styles of lightweight flannel to share with you guys. The popover is having a moment right now, and this forest green popover from Piombo is a perfect example of how the modern flannel fabric finds its place in casual Italian tailored clothing. Similarly, this refined fabric has a place in the world of dress shirts.
The dark blue, green, and gray plaid dress shirt, custom made by Modern Tailor, is a perfect example of the elegance of this refined flannel. Finished with a wide spread collar and thick mother of pearl buttons, this shirt brings flannel into the world of the modern custom dress shirt.
The oxford cloth shirt, commonly found with a button-down collar, is a classic staple of the American prep enthusiast. Lightweight flannel is an easy substitute for the oxford fabric, as seen in the striped button-down shirt from Breyburn above. These small changes, like collar style and mother of pearl buttons, distinguish the new flannel trend from its tired older brother.
Lightweight flannel is a fabric that will be very much present in the coming seasons, providing warmth for fall and winter, while remaining wearable and breezy for spring. The refinement, found in menswear today, has reached the world of flannel. It is a new age for the flannel shirt, an age of elegance and personality.
Location: Lavallette, NJ
Photography: Greg Costanzo
Styling: Alex Delany
Art Direction: Alex Delany
October 7, 2013
Product Review: Breyburn Striped Flannel
I recently received a shirt from a new menswear company called Breyburn, an online retailer selling modestly priced ready-to-wear shirts in high quality fabrics. I got the chance to to chat a bit with the Breyburn guys to learn a bit more about their company and the variety of poplin, flannel, linen, twill, and oxford button down and spread collar shirts that they produce. When offered a shirt to review, I decided to snag a blue and white striped flannel.
The first thing that I noticed about the shirt, upon unwrapping, was the cloth. Really, it’s hard not to notice the cloth instantly. The flannel that Breyburn uses is incredibly lightweight, and from afar appears as though it is more of a poplin. The flannel is incredibly soft and still allows for a slight breeze to push through the shirt. This is the ideal fall material, insanely comfortable and refined.
On Breyburn’s site, the shirts are described as slim fit, and if you’ve bought shirts online before, you know that slim fit can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes slim fit means too tight, sometimes it means not slim at all. I will say, however, that Breyburn’s shirts are definitely slim fit. Not tight by any means, but the lines are very modern, leaving extra fabric tough to find. The cut of the body is very nice, and fit me perfectly in the shoulders. I will offer a warning to guys with long arms or torsos; the sleeves and shirt will be a bit short on you. If you’re an average sized guy, in terms of height, who likes a slim fit, this cut will flatter you very nicely.
The details of the shirt are also impressive. The buttons are a very nice mother of pearl, which is always nice to see in a shirt, and the button down collar on a flannel was a refreshing pairing that you don’t see that often.
Breyburn shirts are produced in Portugal, with fabrics from mills like Albini and Tessitura Monti. The construction appears to be on point. After a few wears and a wash, nothing was visibly altered. Basically, this is an extremely solid ready-to-wear shirting company with a relevantly styled product at. Shirts are $85 to $95 bucks across the board, and the shirts are worth every penny. If you want to snag a new shirt for the coming seasons, I would definitely recommend checking these guys out.
October 3, 2013
Stills from The Senior Teaser Trailer, posted this morning.
We got some incredible visuals of my room, stuff and self in this thing.
October 3, 2013
The Senior Teaser Trailer
I’ve got a little more video for you guys that Greg and I shot yesterday.
This is the introduction for a project that I have been working on called The Senior. It will be coming to the blog sometime in late October, and I have to say that I haven’t been this excited to work on and post something on the blog since I started it.
Look forward to some insanely obnoxious photos and video content inspired by the life of a tastefully disrespectful senior college slacker.
Filmed and edited by Greg Costanzo.
October 1, 2013
The New Flannel Teaser
Early yesterday morning, Greg and I drove down to Lavallette beach to shoot an editorial that I currently have in the works. The light was absolutely incredible, and the photos that we got are unreal. As the name above dictates, the editorial will be examining the transformation of the modern flannel shirt, and it will be dropping sometime in the next two weeks.
We also shot a little bit of video, a medium that I haven’t really explored yet on the blog. Greg edited everything after we got back yesterday, and this is what we came up with. Hope you guys enjoy it.
Big thanks to Cadillac for the hook up on the ride there.
August 12, 2013
A Saturday Afternoon in Philly, With the 2014 Cadillac ATS 2.0 Turbo
Sometimes you run a blog and don’t get to drive around a brand new Cadillac for a week, and then there are those other times where you do. Luckily enough for me, last week was one of those times where you do. I was loaned a 2014 Cadillac ATS 2.0 Turbo, courtesy of the good folks at Cadillac and the Tierny Agency, so that I could review it, create content with it, and drive the hell out of it. I got together with the crew, and all three things were accomplished with this beautiful machine.
I’ll hit you with the technical aspects and review of the car in a second, but first, let me give you a little recap of what came after Fenimore and I drove down to Philly from a brief exploration of NJ flea markets and antique shops:
There are a lot of things to do with a pair of keys to a Cadillac in your hand, but in my opinion, nothing beats a luxurious and lazy Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia for the last day of my brief affair with the ATS. Now before you say or think anything about Philadelphia, let me remind you that it is both the birthplace of the cheese steak and a little place called The United States of America, so if you have anything negative to say, keep those communist thoughts to yourself.
First on the agenda, as is tradition, was brunch (read oysters) at Parc on Rittenhouse Square. I linked up with the homie Sabir Peele, creator and director of the menswear blog and shop Men’s Style Pro, and we snagged a seat outside on 18th Street (If you ever find yourself in Philly and are looking for a place to eat, I HEAVILY cosign Parc). Sabir’s got some pretty big collaborations in the works, and it was cool to get a feel for what he’s going to be rolling out over the next couple months.
Sabir Peele, Blogger, founder and writer of Men’s Style Pro
After watching the Rittenhouse wealth walk by, we met up with Philly’s own Wale Oyejide, founder and designer of the menswear label Ikiré Jones, an incredible group of uniquely African-inspired, American-made, unstructured blazers and printed pocket squares. Wale was sporting a wax-print jacket from the Ikiré Jones Spring/Summer 2014 line, so we got to see a little preview there and got to hear a bit about the rest of the collection dropping in the coming season. I assure you, the collection will have you reaching for your wallet immediately.
Wale Oyejide, founder and designer of Ikiré Jones
After mandatory back-alley cigars, the customary trip to Old City was made to stop by Briar Vintage, owned and operated by David Lochner. Briar Vintage is one of the most unique vintage shops on the East coast, and David brings an unparalleled knowledge of vintage clothing to the shop’s space on 3rd street. His wardrobe is full of timeless pieces, and he maintains a silhouette that will most definitely never go out of style. David and his shop are always sources of inspiration for modern looks in my own personal style
David P. Lochner, owner and operator of Briar Vintage
Before we get deep into the technical review of this car, let me just say that from a design standpoint, this car is a show stopper. Looking into these headlights in the pitch black is like looking into the soul of a wild werewolf/vampire hybrid that somehow resembles Kate Upton on her best day. I think intimidatingly sexy is the phrase that I’m looking for. The lines are clean, purposeful, and swift, an honest portrayal of the car as a whole, and that Cadillac logo, boldly placed on the grill, is the visual form of a Rick Ross grunt.
More coverage and photos after the jump.
July 17, 2013
Why I Like the Clothes I Like: William Morris, Dieter Rams, and the Thought of Honest Design
I’ve been insanely busy this summer, so I haven’t had much of a chance to write much on the blog. However, I’ve been repeatedly making a comparison in my head lately whenever I see fashionable or stylish garments on the street. I’ve been thinking about what draws me toward and pushes me away from certain items, and like I said, there is one concept that keeps coming back again and again. As you may or may not know, I am currently a graphic design student, and in my mind the line between design theory and the world of style often becomes nonexistent. I’ve written pieces about design and style before, and this is going to be another one of those pieces.
If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a few days, you have probably realized that I’m not one for high fashion; I’m not one for leather pants, dysfunctional hats, shiny shit, or the latest Kanye sneaker collaboration. I gravitate toward simpler, more straightforward style, mixing classic fabrics and patterns to fit into a modern setting. I’m not saying that I gravitate toward the boring, but more so toward the refined. You can say that the cut or colors come into effect (and they do), but the biggest variable and determinant is the material used to make the garment. When it comes down to it, the appearance of the material, as well as the appearance of the physical attributes, is what pushes me away or toward a garment.
William Morris was a prominent designer and theorist during the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century. It was in the 1880s that Morris and the rest of the artists and designers in the Arts and Crafts movement adopted the “truth to Materials” ideal as a standard for work in both art and design. The concept behind this ideal was that materials should be presented for what they are; there should be no attempt to try and disguise a material or alter its appearance to resemble something else. Wood should be represented as wood, grain and all. Gold should be presented as gold, ink as ink. The idea was that if you present something as it truly is, the design would be honest and the worth would be evident.
More after the jump.
July 10, 2013
Product Review: John Doe Shoes Cap Toe Brogue
Finding quality made shoes on a college budget has always been a challenge for me. Investing in footwear that will last isn’t always the most convenient thing to do at a young and financially depleted age. However, last week I received an email from Anibal Ortiz, founder of John Doe Shoes. He explained that John Doe Shoes shipped goodyear welted leather footwear to your door for $135.
Now, when someone tells you that, you have to be skeptical, and of course I was. John Doe Shoes offers five variations, including an oxford, a long wing, and a cap toe brogue (which I chose), that all were kind of hard to judge form the site. I wanted to wait until I saw the shoes in person to make any judgements, and when they arrived on my doorstep, I was more than surprised. I pulled a pair of extremely attractive shoes out of that box.
To start, the last on these things is incredible. It’s sleek, but not pointy; round but not bulbous. A good last is always my first order of business when looking at a shoe, and these exceeded the status quo.
The second thing that impressed me was the sole, a leather forefront with rubber heel. I know in a perfect world the whole sole would be entirely leather, but we’re talking about a high quality shoe for $135. Also, I like a little bit of grip when it comes down to it. The sole is goodyear welted, which allows the shoe to be resoled easily, adds a bit of comfort, and is generally a sign of quality in footwear. After wearing these for the last three days, I can say that these cap toes are incredibly comfortable.
The thing that I am the most interested in is the leather. I’m curious as to how it will hold up and age. Of course, this is no Edward Green grade leather, but it is solid leather nonetheless. The stitching is also well done, assembled by a family owned factory in Mexico.
The bottom line here is that if you’re a college guy, or just someone who’s watching the budget, that cares about the quality of your shoes, you probably won’t find a better shoe at this price point. At $135 dollars for all five models, John Doe Shoes is offering a product that younger menswear guys need, quality leather shoes at an attainable price.
Photos by the brother Matt Mance.
June 17, 2013
If you guys aren’t familiar with Pino Portland yet, let me introduce you. Internet, this is Pino Portland. Founded by Crispin Argento, Pino Portland crafts incredible men’s accessories, all made in Portland, Oregon. Crispin recently redesigned his site and stocked some new product, so I figured I’d give you guys a little glimpse at what’s going on over at Pino.
For the Spring/Summer season, Pino is rolling out some incredible raw silk neckwear. They are, quite frankly, some of the best I’ve ever seen, and raw silk is the perfect material for summer neckwear, in my opinion. Crispin also did a collection of Italian and Belgian linen pocket squares and rounds that look extra crispy. One of the things that I really appreciate about Pino’s collections is the consistent use of colors that aren’t always featured in menswear. He stocks a saffron raw silk tie that is absolutely incredible. Also, if you want to take it to next level, Pino does bespoke ties for men who like to travel down the custom path. You can contact Crispin to start that process. Like I said, all of these are made in America, so that’s an added bonus.
I have two wool pocket rounds and olive felt tie from Pino that I picked up last fall, and I can tell you that the quality is top notch. I wear one of the rounds at least once a week. I can’t wait to get all over this gnarly new collection.
May 31, 2013
I discover new brands that pique my interest quite frequently, but it isn’t often that I find a brand that has me completely sold before I ever even see the clothing in person. RPMWEST is one of those rare companies.
RPMWEST makes a very simple product in a very simple manner; the jeans that RPMWEST produces are made with high quality Japanese selvedge denim, constructed in America. There aren’t any bells and whistles; there are no gimmicks. It’s quality denim, made in America, and it only costs $95. That’s what sold me.
It’s apparent that the jeans are of a high quality, but the pricing and delivery method is what really makes them stand out. Once RPMWEST launches from their Kickstarter in a few weeks, they will send three pairs of denim to whomever pre-ordered a pair of jeans. You try the three pairs on, and you keep whichever one you like the best. RPMWEST has two cuts (slim straight and new classic), and you get to try on three sizes of whichever cut you choose. When you decide which fits the best, you send the other two back free of charge. You get the wholesale price of $95, and you make sure that you get the right fit.
I’ve never heard of any online business plan that allows you to try jeans, a garment that I always have trouble finding in a suitable fit, in such a flexible situation. RPMWEST’s model seems to alleviate that problem quite a bit for guys like me. As of right now, it’s all pros and no cons for RPMWEST on my list. I’ll be awaiting my pairs to try on in the coming weeks. If you want to do the same, you can pre-order on their Kickstarter.
May 6, 2013
Product Review: Hemp & Recycled Poly “Chambray” Shirt from Glasshouse Shirtmakers
I had recently been talking to Daniel Bernando, founder of Glasshouse Shirtmakers, and he was gracious enough to send me a shirt for review. If you haven’t heard of Glasshouse Shirtmakers, let me fill you in real quick; Glasshouse Shirtmakers is based in Chicago and offers ready to wear shirts that are all made in the U.S.A. with the good of environment in mind. They offer shirts in distinctive fabrics, good for work or the weekend. The first thing that really struck me about this company was the environmental conscience That’s something that really important to me, and after speaking with Daniel and receiving my shirt, it was clear that this issue was at the top of his agenda.
I decided to go with the hemp “chambray”, because my chambray shirt suffered somewhat of a fatality last fall. Now I’ve never had a hemp shirt before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the fabric. When it arrived, the fabric was a little scratchy (as Daniel had told me), but after a wash and a few wears, the hemp became extremely soft. It really does feel great on the skin. The fabric itself is a great weave, creating a deep texture when examined closely. In terms of weight, the hemp is perfect for the transitional months and cool summer nights.
As far as the fit goes, this shirt is more than on point. I’ve worn it both tucked in and untucked, and the body fits my torso almost perfectly, not too slim but without any extra/unwanted fabric. The sleeve openings are nice and fitted, and the sleeve length was great for me too. The collar is a point collar (which I admittedly do not wear that often), but I was absolutely fine with this one.
If you’re like me, you care where and how your products are made. Not only does Glasshouse Shirtmakers make all of their products withion our borders, but they do so responsibly. That means a lot to me. Also, they make a damn nice shirt.
May 2, 2013
WIWT - 5/2/13 - New MTM Linen Cutaway from Cottonwork
If someone financed ten made to measure white linen shirts for me to wear every single day of the summer, I would really appreciate that. I’ve worn this new linen cutaway from Cottonwork three times, and the fabric is so soft and breezy. I’ve always appreciated linen, but I really want to snag a few more shirts for this summer.
The cut and collar of Cottonwork’s linen shirt is fantastic. The collar is a perfect cutaway, and along with the cuffs, is incredibly soft and comfortable. The shirt fits beautifully, leaving a little room for ventilation. I look for a shirt that fits a tiny bit looser for the summer months, and this one achieves that while still flattering the contours of my upper body. As I do with all my MTM shirts, I opted for a pocket and double button cuffs here.
If you’re looking for a solid MTM linen shirt for the summer, I’d recommend this one. It’s a fantastic cut, and it’s under a hundred bucks.
March 14, 2013
Clothing Does Not Demand Respect:
I don’t respect people because they dress well. I don’t. Quite frankly, I think respecting someone because he or she is wearing clothing in a certain manner is moronic. Respecting someone for dressing well is like respecting someone for drinking a good beer. Sure, you can admire the fact that they are drinking a fine beer, but that gives you no reason to respect them as a person. The thing about dressing well and drinking a good beer is that they are both easy things to do; all you have to do is research the product and buy the right thing. Most people that dress well don’t like to think that being stylish is an easy thing to do, but honestly, it is.
The internet has objectified style as a determinant of coolness, a determinant of individuality and respectability. The funny thing is that the same means of spreading the inspiration of originality has taken it away. You have people striving to be as stylish as the internet influencers, simultaneously sacrificing their own originality. The respect that people attain for dressing well is undeserved, an illusion. This culture has made style attainable to anyone. It has made style easy, and the easier it becomes, the easier it is to appear like someone who oozes creativity, someone who demands your fucking respect and appreciation. The easier it becomes, the more shallow and insincere that respect gets. Now we’re here, and it means almost nothing.
There used to be a time when style was a secondary in judging the identity of a person. I don’t know if I was ever conscious for it, but it existed. Style was a hint that a person had something more to them than the average being, not a declaration of creative superiority. Instead of being the end all be all for determining creativity, style used to be something that made you want to ask questions about a person’s life. However, that notion was lost somewhere down the line, once menswear culture and style became a public internet circle jerk. I’ll be honest, a lot of the people in that circle jerk are not interesting. A lot of them are boring boring as shit, but this culture has painted them as something of value, before personal character or accomplishment even comes into play.
What it comes down to is that style has become a determinant of originality and creativity, as opposed to a byproduct. It used to be that style came as a result of originality, but now, style dictates it. Paul Newman got your respect for being an incredible actor. Rene Lacoste got your respect for his play on the tennis court, and JFK got your respect for his politics and leadership. Ralph Lauren got your respect because he imagined and created the clothes he wears. Updike got your respect for his writing, and Warhol got your respect for his art and philosophy. In all those cases, style comes after the identity. Clothes are a part of my life, no doubt, but their role is insignificant in the grand scheme of my identity. I am not a menswear blogger; I am a design student. Don’t hold me to a higher level because I wear a blazer. Don’t tear me down because I wear one either. Respect me for what I say, create, and think. Without substance behind them, clothes are just clothes. It’s the same shit on another fucking person.
I respect people for their work ethic and the passion that they instill in their lives. I respect people for ingenuity, genuine creativity, diligence, commitment, and the voicing of their opinions. I respect people for the way they carry themselves, the way they treat others, and the effect that they have on this world. The people that I admire may or not dress well, but they are dedicated to something, instead of things. That’s what I look at before I respect someone, before I hand them a title. The way a person dresses does not earn or lose any significant portion of respect from yours truly, and that is because anyone can do it. Yes, I fucking said it; anyone can do it. Anyone can dress like you dress. Anyone can dress like he or she dresses. Fuck it, anyone can dress like I dress. Buttoning up your ISAIA and knotting up with Drake’s doesn’t earn you my respect. Two hundred other dudes wore that same thing today. Putting on that cashmere robe and draping a blanket over your shoulders doesn’t make you a trend-setter or taste maker. You’re not forming nations and gathering loyal followers. You’re not a creative mogul. You’re just a dude wearing a cashmere robe with a blanket draped on your back.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be drawn to someone because of what he or she is wearing or what his or her style displays. I’m not saying that people with style are demons, because that would be downright hypocritical. I’m saying that style can’t be the only card in play; in this age, style or clothing cannot demand respect. It should come from somewhere else. I’m saying that that Cucinelli vest is not bulletproof. It does not radiate creative authority. It does not give you power. It does not give you significance.
What you do gives you power and significance.
Respect should come from that.
March 11, 2013
The Elite Club just rolled out with a new tee to be sold to help raise money for our inner-city kids in Trenton. A percentage of profits goes to improving the quality of education for Trenton middle schoolers at Hedgepeth Williams. In 1944 Hedgepeth Williams was the first school in America to desegregate and allow black students in a white middle school, desegregating before Brown vs. Board of Ed. and eventually facilitating that case. That’s pretty awesome.
This is the toughest t-shirt that I own.