How to Stand Out this Spring Wedding Season

Brackish_product_shots_082613-22_1024x1024Due to the flurry of countless national/international Fashion Weeks and an epic awards season, I've reviewed a ton of men's formal wear.  And when I think back on all that I've seen, I'm searching to identify what defines fresh for THIS MOMENT.  But with the exception of interesting lapel pins, I'm at a loss.  (Red D&G tux with vest, you are NOT my answer. And further, you may be the secret second reason for Elton John's D&G boycott.)  Then I stumbled upon the quirky and ingenious company called Brackish Bow Ties and instantly wished that someone would have shown up with one of these on.  They feel very au courant to me and could have been that defining factor.  This may be because Brooklyn, the land of the urban outdoorsman, remains the epicenter of all that is cool or it may just be because these handmade beauties are different:  a monumental feat in menswear which moves by millimeters.  In any case, I endorse them, particularly with spring wedding season approaching.  Incidentally, they're killing it with the lapel pins too.  Pick one or the other and gift your groomsmen and yourself.  They will provide instant conversation, and maybe even forgiveness, for when your drunk best man is on minute 23 of his toast.

Now You See It, Now You...Still See It

vicsecfashionshow2014The willing suspension of disbelief is a tricky proposition for me.  Usually I am not up for it (The Alchemist, Broadway shows, David Copperfield).  But sometimes, I'm totally game!  Take the annual Victoria's Secret fashion show which took place last week, for instance.  Thongs and wings?  Absolutely!!  Corsets and thigh-high laser cut butterfly boots?  You bet!!  But what, pray tell, is happening in the above photo?  Victoria, if I may invoke your name, what are we to believe, or to disbelieve as the case may be, here?  Are majorettes parading the Red Light District in the winter?  Has the Abominable Snowman eaten Little Red Riding Hood and also stolen the wolf's disguise?  I'm at a loss.  And so I will treat you to the back of the ensemble because when all else fails, you can always score bonus points for a perfect tush and this is one for the record books: vicsecfashionshow2014_2The end.  Literally.

There's a Right Club and a Black V Club

blk v neckAt a recent Facebook "town hall" Mark Zuckerberg fielded the question:  Why do you wear the same clothes every day?  His answer had to do with a tendency towards "decision fatigue" and how he wants, instead, to free his mind up to think about nothing but the company.  (How far behind can diapers be when applying this logic?) Why do tech moguls like Zuckerberg and Jobs feel they are so different from say, Lloyd Blankfein, who could never justify wearing the same thing every single day?  What Zuckerberg is describing is not a problem specific to tech CEOs.  High powered, high functioning people at large don't have time to think about what they are going to wear, but most are not so insensate that they resort to a uniform.

There is an answer out there and it is NOT Black V Club. (There are myriad problems with this idea, not the least of which is that the name suggests a club for those with a certain common but specific fetish.)  The answer is simple:  HIRE A STYLIST!  We do all the heavy lifting so, in the end, all you are doing is choosing an image of a complete outfit from your look book.  It may not be as simple as wearing a black v-neck t shirt each and every day but at least you won't be mistaken for a homeless person.

Hasn't Everyone Tired of the Bigger/Better Debate?

iphone pocket enlargementMy contract is almost up on my iPhone 5 which puts me squarely into iPhone 6 territory.  My guilty secret:  I don't want to upgrade.  This admission makes me feel like I am 75 years old and stubbornly holding onto a flip phone.  The truth is, I like my phones little.  And even though there are two options (4.7" and 5.5"), both are too big for me.  For the love of Pete, the 5.5" model has inspired a store in Shanghai called Unicom, to hire an on-site tailor to address the size issues this phone presents.  This person's only function is to enlarge the pockets on folks' pants to accommodate for the gargantuan phone.  This incites panic in me as I consider the many, many expensive handbags I own with an iPhone pocket that perfectly fits my model 5.  Let me ask you:  why should pants and purses be made to accommodate?  Shouldn't it be the other way around?  I am stymied.  Perhaps it is because it is Monday and I am weekend-lagged, but these are the pressing philosophical questions stirring in my brain today.  And that admission, friends, makes me feel even more guilty than the first.

Double Agent

enver1Begrudgingly I have returned from LA, because my trip was absolute magic!  Allow me to elucidate by way of highlights: - lots of drinking and dining with much-missed best friends

- star sightings ala Emma Stone and Scott Speedman (the rumor mill stops here - they were NOT together!)

- and possibly my favorite:  wardrobing tv and film star, Enver Gjokaj (above)

Holla back, Dollhouse fans! Not to mention The Avengers, The Walking Dead, The Witches of East End and the list goes on...

Ok, people, I admit this job was not difficult.  Enver is obviously a stellar looking human being not to mention that he is total aces on a personal level.  The amount of fun and energy he brought to the project was unparalleled.

Our mission was to create a wardrobe that could take him everywhere from a table read, to an audition, to the red carpet, to a junket, to a party, to pool-side or a bbq.  In a few short days we hit each of these notes by mixing high, low, and what lies in between.  We called on brands like VINCE., REISS, and John Varvatos as well as Theory, and Ralph Lauren Black Label; and we even snagged a bevy of vintage pieces from Wasteland.  It was a TOTAL SUCCESS.  Witness one of many, many looks:

enver2Girls, have you caught your collective breath yet?  Shall I pass around the smelling salts?  Allow me to wrap up.

In my last post, I dropped a few hints but at this point you may have deduced that Enver landed a spot on ABC's upcoming Agent Carter!  The show starts shooting next month and will air in January.  I can't wait to follow him double (agent)-time on screen and off where he will certainly be looking super fly in all of his new gear.

LA Story

vn_mens_fall_stl_look3_mediumOne of my clients just landed a big show on ABC (I'm such a tease) and needs to tighten up his look for imminent press events and parties.  That means I'm flying to LA tomorrow to spend a week working with him (also- and I know this sounds random- to check up on another client's Santa Monica home for which I designed the interior). In preparation for my trip, I am mentally making the transition from NY fashion (and NY Fashion Week!) to LA fashion which is a whole different vibe:  very casual/street.  My feeling is that it's fine to dress down in the face of the press IF (and only if) everything fits impeccably and if each piece speaks for itself.  With this in mind, we are going to start our search at VINCE. which is one of my favorite brands to master the cool/casual look represented in the photo above.  (Notice how everything appears molded to this model?)

It goes without saying that sneakers and boots are primary in nailing street style so, for one thing, I'm hoping to score these Carter boots and build a world of looks around them.  They are superb body doubles (to use the parlance of Hollywood) for the twice-the-price Saint Laurent boots I've been tracking for the last few months.  Thankfully, given the temp is supposed to be 90+ all next week, the cost will not provoke any additional sweating.

 

Gingnam Style?

gingham shirtMen are creatures of habit.  I used to date a guy who only wore either army green pants/shorts, OR jeans and a black t shirt.  That's it.  Open the shirt drawer, black t-shirts.  Open the bottoms drawer, you get the picture.  Telling a guy to buy a blue shirt, for instance, is like telling a woman to buy a little black dress.  (It doesn't need to be done.)  And so it goes with this  J Crew gingham shirt.   Somehow it has weaseled its way into the collective male conscious as a "staple" because just about every guy on the planet owns it.  It's become so ubiquitous that New Yorker, Jonathan San, set up an Instagram account called thatjcrewginghamshirt dedicated to sitings of men in this piece. Fashion challenge:  Remake this video but with everyone styled in the J Crew gingham shirt.  Please.

 

 

BROACH

china-coach-11072012-webI have a lot of fashion pet peeves.  One, as you well know, is grown men carrying back packs.  Another is women carrying COACH handbags.  Especially those advertising that they are COACH handbags.  (I'm sure I will get a lot of hate mail after this post but hit me with your best shot.)  I am simply OVER them.  They are ubiquitous therefore completely unoriginal.  If you fear leaving your comfort zone, at least look as far as former COACH executive creative director, Reed Krakoff.  He struck out on his own and his bags are amazing. It seems that you too, fashion nation, are getting sick of the COACH epidemic.  I just read an article citing a steady decline in COACH women's handbag sales.  The article goes on to say that the brand is shifting their target market - namely to the Chinese market and the male market.  Further to this point, they just released a more formal men's shoe line and they are in development on a full men's clothing line.

COACH for bros?  It could work.  Kinda like when I get tired of eating my ice-cream sundae:  my husband always finishes it.

Don't Sweat It

Plexi SignsOh the stifling heat in NYC subways!  Fortunately, even when heading to the office, we ladies can basically strip down to a small tank and toss our blazers on upon arrival.  Men heading into an office environment are often not so fortunate.  Many have no choice but to wear a long sleeved dress shirt (and often suit!) and simply suffer with the horrible, damp consequences.  It breaks my fashion heart to see guys, who are not working out, dripping sweat before 8am. So, sweaty office men of NYC, this post is for you!  Presenting the Apollo dress shirt by Ministry of Supply.  The MoS geniuses have harnessed NASA spacesuit technology and applied it directly to a dress shirt.  This clean, sleek garment not only looks good but wicks away moisture and controls odor.  Gear up in one of these on a 100% humid day so that when your subway car is packed and that cute girl squeezes in next to you, you won't have to get off at the next stop (whether it's yours or not) to preserve your dignity.  Perhaps you'll be so confident you'll even get her number.

Googley Eyes

google glasses DvFI was headed to SoHo on the C train a few months ago when I spotted a man sporting the lower of the two Google glasses pictured above.  I could tell that he felt as cool as I do when I wear anything Tom Ford.  Except his glasses weren't Tom Ford.  They were designed by some tech geek at Google.  And that's why he looked like an alien coming to invade our train (which I prayed he was not since I was on my way to get a cronut at Dominique Ansel before meeting a client). Since my initial spotting, Google has wisely partnered with Diane von Furstenberg to create an au currant look for their glasses-of-the-future (top above).  I'm not going to go as far as to endorse these because, to me, a small camera on your glasses is weird.  I will say, however, that the DvF model is far superior to its totally uncool older brother.  But at $1500+ I'd honestly rather just buy something Tom Ford.

 

Good Vibra(m)tions

vibramPart of my job, particularly during a Closet Cleanse, involves giving my clients permission to let go of things.  Once that hurdle is overcome, most people are ecstatic to rid their lives and closets of items they have long hated/made them feel guilty/didn't fit/were (awful) gifts.  The flip side of the purge coin is knowing when and how to rescue something that has lost its former lustre - particularly when it represents a significant investment. In a walking city like NY, this discussion often revolves around shoes. Let it be noted that I always ALWAYS encourage my clients to go immediately to the cobbler (prior even to an inaugural wear) and reinforce new shoes so they never get to the point of no return.  And by reinforce I mean specifically Vibram brand rubber soles, rubber tips, and rubber taps;  Women and men heed this important warning!!  But sometimes people forget or get careless and don't take this extra step (no pun intended).  I see a ton of shoes that resemble those on the left in the photo above.  If the client is lucky, though, and if the sidewalk or subway grates have not yet "bitten" into the main part of the shoe, Vibram can still be added and the shoe effectively rescued from the clutches of the trash heap!  But the moral of this story is that it's soooo much more cost effective to simply replace the soles of your shoes rather than to replace the shoes themselves.

I know, I know - you are a Louboutin lover like I am.  Do not fret because Vibram even comes in red - no need to sacrifice the pièce de résistance of your beloved pumps!  Now that I have robbed you of all of your excuses, go forth immediately to the cobbler so you may restore zen to your shoe closet.  And remember that an upfront investment of $30-$50 will save you hundreds (let's be honest - thousands if you love Louboutins) down the proverbial road.

Weather Or Not

rainmanI'm a huge advocate of the philosophy:  If you can't beat them, join them.  That's how I've been feeling about the weather all year.  The snow was appalling and so I bought dope snow boots.  The rain has not been much better and so I took a similar course of action.  But what of the options for men?  Lest you think rubbers (remove mind from gutter) are the only choice, I offer this stellar option by Rain Man.  These super sleek rain resistant shoes will look cool whether or not there's a cloud in the sky.  Wear them with jeans, trousers, or a suit and you will not only look fly but stay dry.  (I couldn't help myself.)

Backpacks or Briefs?

prada hawaiian briefLoyal readers (and really anyone who will tolerate my rants) know that a pet peeve of mine is when a grown man carries a backpack; That is, when he is not actually donning hiking gear and on a trail somewhere.  Therefore I am often asked by male clients what type of bag they should carry.  Typically I favor simple yet elegant choices, especially for my clients in finance, but for my creative set I like to think out of the box.  This year I've found my solution in Prada's Hawaiian brief case (above).  The classic shape/structure and sexy hardware demonstrate that you take your business seriously, but the print announces that you have plenty of imagination (and money).  Note:  I'd advise against pairing with the current Hawaiian shirt trend lest you be mistaken for this guy.

Tease Ts

playboy-kate-moss-t-shirtRooting around in some storage boxes recently (trying to find a photo of me at my first  Goldman Sachs desk which featured an unobstructed view of the Twin Towers) I stumbled upon a 1964 copy of Playboy whose highlights included an interview with Salvador Dali (hilarious!!) and some gorgeous photos of Brigitte Bardot.  And, I must admit, I read it cover to cover...for the articles of course. It's Playboy's 60th anniversary this year and they wisely shot the Bardot-like Kate Moss for this pivotal, though chaste, cover (and for some stunning artsy nude shots inside -the second pic is my absolute fave.)  Unsurprisingly, Marc Jacobs (the opportunist that he is) has created a $35 t shirt to commemorate this iconic edition.  I will give credit where credit is due, the t is adorable.   I will be rocking mine with black waxed jeans, sexy booties, a draped cardigan, and of course some Prada bunny ears. OK, maybe not the ears.

The Devil (who wears Prada) Is in the Details

  prada shoeAs I was flitting through Saks this past weekend sourcing shoes for a client (who was happily sitting in the lounge sipping a whiskey), I was rendered temporarily motionless by these Prada bluchers.  I literally stopped dead in my tracks at the site of them.  I have long been a fan of Prada for men's shoes (just try to find more comfy drivers), but these blew my mind.  As with most things in menswear it all boils down to the details (and the fit).  The perforated pattern on these puppies is sheer genius- elegant and modern and the least boring thing I've seen in a long time.  Note that they are available not only in classic black but in my newest never-fail shoe color, oxblood (above).  So rich and perfect with anything:  grays, blues, browns...even black.  Get a belt that corresponds and literally never think again about which shoe color is the proper choice.  But before you quit thinking take these beauties to the cobbler and have them soled with Vibram in order to protect the leather, extend the shoes' life, and prolong your reign as the best dressed dude in your office.

B.B.ig Mi-steakhouse?

Brooks_Brothers_1969_logoIs Brooks Brothers becoming a jack of all trades (master of none)?  I recently read that the lifestyle brand is going to open a three-story steakhouse in 2014 right next door to their Madison Avenue flagship location (where I used to work as a concierge/personal shopper).  I can accept that the brand which began as men's-only has evolved to include women, children, and even home furnishings but steak?  That seems a stretch. The restaurant, to be dubbed "Makers and Merchants," is obviously targeted towards finance folks, but if there's one thing that I know about bankers (also the majority of my clientele) is that they value specialization.  They only want to deal with an expert.  So I suspect their view will be that BB should save the diversification for their finance portfolio.  

The Edge of Madness

barclays+

levis

In 1962 Edwin O'Connor won a Pulitzer Prize for his book The Edge of Sadness about a middle aged priest battling alcoholism.  I distinctly recall a part in the book that described how the Catholic church was taking steps to make services more personal and accessible.  This was considered a bad approach by many because there was a fear of losing their core constituency who valued the sacredness of the mass.  This was an interesting dilemma to me.  And today, a similar situation presents itself with the news that Barclays (a notoriously conservative bank) is introducing super casual Fridays.  Is history repeating itself on some level?

Barclays is known for being uber specific about offering dress guidelines to employees.  They have historically defined inappropriate casual dress as "denim items of any color, shorts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, any sports footwear such as training shoes, any items of clothing with slogans and beach style footwear."  Now apparently t-shirts, jeans and even sneakers will be acceptable on Fridays.  I understand this is an attempt to lure talent in a time when the best and brightest are trading up for hedge funds and start ups but is Barclays going to alienate their core personnel?  I may be old school when it comes to having a sense of occasion and appropriateness but I am of the mind that they will.  I dress a lot of bankers and they are men and women who feel it's necessary to not only act the part but to look the part.  And I agree 100%.  As the idiom goes, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Fashion Forecasting

givenchy brownTwo years ago I prophesized that brown suits would come BACK with a vengeance.  I sung it far and wide, smugly confident in my fashion prediction.  So when they didn't immediately come to pass it felt like a personal Y2K moment. I am ashamed that I doubted myself (read: how could you have doubted me??)  For have you seen that which erupts from the pages of every magazine and hangs from the racks of the chicest stores (get the above Givenchy at Barneys!)?  Better late than never (that applies to both chocolate suits and vindication).

Grays and navys will forever be staples but mixing it up with brown feels incredibly NOW.  Go for a solid shirt and choose a tie that riffs on the color in your new oxblood bluchers.  And don't be surprised if while wearing this you are asked to peer into a crystal ball or two.

If The Suit Fits, Wear It

  two suits

Arden Reed and OkCupid conducted a four month international study to assess the impact a suit's fit has on a gent's likelihood to score a date.  (This is the kind of science I wish I could've studied in college.)  Two profiles were set up, each exactly the same save for the photo.  In one of the photos their model wore a boxy suit, and in the other he wore a tailored suit.  Unsurprisingly the study backs up what I espouse every day of my working life - that fit is about 50% of the damn-he-looks-good equation which, incidentally I'll share below.

The Wardrobe Whisperer Hotness Theorem:

50% fit + 30% style + 20% fabric/quality = 100% Attractive

If you nail a garment's fit, that's half the battle (literally half, see my equation above) and now I have cold hard facts to prove it.  Fashion CSI has done it again!

Not A Leap(frog)

Rag-Bone-Oakleys-635Unsurprisingly I have become the litmus test of fashion for my family.  Recently one of my seven (not a typo) brothers asked me if I approved of his new shades and sadly I did not.  I truthfully explained that they looked like a slightly updated version of Oakley Razor Blades.  For all of you who lived through the 80s, you can attest that this look was not then, is not now, and never shall be good.   They will always and forever remind me of Randy Savage- God rest his soul.  Note: for those of you die hard WWF fans, I am aware that he did not always wear razor blades. In any case, when Oakley recently teamed up with Rag & Bone, thank goodness all parties knew better than to resurrect the R.B.s and chose the Frogskins instead.  Since Wayfarer glasses have been en vogue for some time now, bringing the Frogskins back was not a leap (pun intended, of course).  Adding the digitized camo, however, was the stroke of genius.  Oakley should be bowing down at the altar of  Rag & Bone for that brilliant move.

I decided to cover this collaboration because one, I found it interesting and two, it made me giggle to think of Randy Savage; but I'm not sure I'm ready to endorse the new-fangled froggies.  I'm not only a die hard WWF fan (80s version only) but a die hard Ray Ban Aviator fan as well.