Monday, March 9, 2015

Style: Pastel Summer

There is absolutely no stopping the heat and while some locations are slowly transitioning to spring, I haven't seen advertising alluding to or indicating the imminent arrival of autumn. So, with the sun continuing it's lean, I decided to add a smidgen of colour to this light, breathable navy suit via a turquoise cotton gingham shirt. And the first compliment came from my wife; I surmise that light pastel colours complement my skin tone and this should lead to more experimentation with pastels. Thinking about it, it makes sense then that dark colours will clash with dark skin tones because they will appear monotonous and lifeless. I've alluded to this before in the early days of this blog that my skin tone is referred to as winter; which means the winter is cool and clear with stark, dramatic skin. Africans, Asians, and Caucasians with very pale skin and dark hair fall into this category.

Some of my research indicates that a winter skin tone works with true white, true black, cool grays, navy blue, deep reds, bright pinks, jewel tones (emerald, royal blue, royal purple), and icy pastels.  Conversely, beige, orange, gold, brown and other washed out shades don't work so well with the winter skin tone and should be avoided.

                                                 PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Brands: Combatant Gentlemen Maroon V-Neck Cotton-Cashmere Sweater

The last few months have been incredibly hot and that precluded me from trying out this V-neck sweater from Combatant Gentlemen, yesterday I finally got an opportunity to wear it and I was quite impressed with the first test. We should be thinking about autumn now anyway, so I don't think the maroon colour is not in accordance with the impending season. What is most striking about this garment from the get-go is how light it is. It is super light. If a boxer were to go for a weigh-in with this sweater draped on his shoulders it wouldn't add any extra weight. That's how confident I am of it. I think it's also appropriate for sub-tropical weather like ours.

                                               Maroon V-Neck Cotton-Cashmere Sweater $45

It is made of a cotton-cashmere blend and this is evinced in how smooth and supple it is. In fact it is 85% Indian cashmere and 15% Indian cotton. I think it's a marvelous blend of natural fibres which puts the sweater's quality quite high. I've had it for more than six months and during this time it was folded in my wardrobe and after retrieving it, it required brief steaming in the shower to get rid of wrinkles and then it was time to rock and roll. One thing I agree with when it comes to knit wear is don't hang it because the hangers will affect the shape and structure of the shoulders and the drape across and along the body. I can also attest to the slim cut through the waist which gives it a great fit throughout the torso.

I don't think it can stand rough handling because even the stitching is quite delicate. I noticed that the label at the back of the neck was loose on one side which means that the stitching is not good. Perhaps this is a one time issue which needs to be interrogated at the quality control stage. Overall though, I think it's a solid garment and as ambitious as Combatant Gentlemen is, I know it will only get better with time.

                                             PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2015

    Style: No Tie Bar Required

    This is something we all perpetrate at some point and it is in such instances that we learn lessons regarding style and execution. Today's topic is very short but important; should you wear a tie bar with a waistcoat. And the answer is a resounding no! There's absolutely no need. The waistcoat is already fulfilling the function of a tie bar by holding the necktie in place. I wear all my waistcoats with a deep V. I actually have a navy blue waistcoat altered by lowering the button stance because it was too high. I like to show off some of the necktie, shirt, and the relationship between the waistcoat and jacket. If you're stuck with a necktie that moves around while wearing a waistcoat then it means the fit of the waistcoat is incorrect. This can be corrected by using the adjuster belts at the back of the waistcoat to tighten it. This works almost all the time unless the waistcoat needs further altering. For waistcoats that don't have back adjusters, like the one I'm wearing here, you can have it taken in at the sides and the back until you get the perfect fit.

    Whatever you do though, don't wear a tie bar with a waistcoat.

    PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    Style: High, Medium, and Low Vamp Tassel Loafers

                                                             High vamp - Fratelli Rossetti

    I've been thinking about aesthetics and how certain things appear to the third person. You know, sometimes, you always ask the opinion of another person just to ensure that you look presentable and acceptable. I've been asking myself this very same questions regarding tassel loafers and, where and how they measure up in terms of dress code and formality. I find that what may work with a business suit won't necessarily work with a casual ensemble.

    First let's define the vamp: it forms part of the upper of the shoe, anywhere from the toes to the part where the toes and the leg connect. In other words, the top part of the foot is where you'll find the vamp. The high vamp tassel loafer such as the one pictured above is most suitable for business dress code. It'll work well with business dress comprising a business suit made of wool or wool blend and lightweight socks. They can also work with a casual suit such as cotton or linen. What gives the shoe its business tone is the high vamp. This shoe covers almost the whole foot and that's why it's suitable for business dress. They are not suitable, however, with any ensemble comprising shorts. The issue goes back to the vamp once again and just how inappropriate they would be with shorts. Some gents might try a high vamp loafer with shorts and it'll work for them, I am not an advocate of the style.

                                                             Medium vamp - Allen Edmonds

    The medium vamp tassel loafer is where things can go either way and it gives the gent a lot more leeway in terms of styling. This one by Allen Edmonds, clearly demonstrates the middle ground in terms of the vamp and it is suitability for both a suit and shorts. Gentlemen will agree with me that there is enough proof on the internet evincing just how compatible the medium vamp tassel loafer is. A business suit would be perfect with this kind of shoe and it can also be worn with shorts because it's not as serious as the high vamp loafer. It's clean smooth lines are a further indication that they are suitable for business, however, it's design also allows it some casual flair.

                                                                  Low vamp - Cole Haan

    The low vamp tassel loafer illustrates its casual vibe and how inappropriate it is with a business suit. You can never look right pairing the two together. A casual suit, shorts suit, and shorts will work tastefully well with these loafers. The embellishments such as the extra stitching and 'complicated' vamp are a clear sign that they're inappropriate for business. A cotton suit with no tie would also complement the shoe well. Tassel loafers with a low vamp can also work well with jeans, something the high vamp one's can't execute quite well.

    There is one caveat to be considered with all these shoes however, their relationship in terms of the trouser opening in proportion with the shoe. The high vamp works well with a narrow hem, so that it doesn't engulf the whole shoe. The medium vamp will work with a narrow and slightly wider hem because it will touch just at the start of the top of the vamp. The low vamp will work with a  narrow hem because a wide hem will lead to a baggy opening. In all this however, personal style and preference must consider the overall aesthetic.

                                                       PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Pick of the Week: Spree End Of Season Sale

    We've just hit summer's halfway mark and the end of season sales have commenced. Clearly there is no living in the moment because the stores are already looking ahead with autumn in their sights. I came across an extensive sale on Spree and out of 30 pages these are the items I felt were blog and investment worthy. Some autumn/ winter items fell through the cracks as well and they are featured because of how inexpensive they are. From top to bottom, row by row, here they are:

    1. Icemen Navy Corduroy Suit R699
    2. Brooksfield Prince of Wales Check Jacket R599
    3. Cutty Bruce Chinos Turquoise R244
    4. Sergeant Pepper Ringspun Dark Blue Jeans R749
    5. DSTRUCT Frazer Mid Blue Denim Jacket R500
    6. Bellfield Sibley Multi-colour Jersey R237
    7. Pringle of Scotland Woods Yellow Golfer R487
    8. NEXT Yellow Chino Shorts R326
    9. Hurley Dri-fit Chino Shorts R599
    10. Bellfield Carraway Navy Shoes R749
    11. Sebago Spinnaker Navy Boat Shoes R1349
    12. Tortoise Shell Round Sunglasses R172
    13. Bellfield Kodiac Black Belt R112
    14. Garde Printed Multi-colour Scarf R135
    15. Freedom of Movement Brown Russell Briefcase R1875

                                           PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Style: Five Trends That Should Stay In 2014

    Almost a month into 2015 and I don't see any abate in the following five trends in menswear. Some things are better left alone but others need to be considered carefully especially because of their long term effects as opposed to their present status. I have been mulling these five trends and I think for me they really stand out as overdone, run into the ground, and totally unnecessary. These are just my observations, however, I encourage us to engage and debate on whether you agree or not. I think the conclusion I have drawn from my own observations on trends in general is that those that add value and don't will both survive or become obsolete. Here are my top five:

    1. Flower lapels

    I think they are overdone, they've really become an affectation, and a costumey one at that. What started out as a subtle, stylish accessory has evolved into something so ubiquitous that every gent has to have one. It's gone as far as some government ministers wearing them and that is highly inappropriate, especially in as far as menswear dress code is concerned. I think flower lapels have their place such as on special occasions, as an everyday accessory makes them highly pretentious. I didn't have a problem with flower lapels five years ago because so few men were wearing them. Nowadays, however, is a whole different ball game because it's almost as if it's become a standard uniform. The flower lapel, in my opinion, gives the boutonniere a bad name.

    2. Shirt collar peaking through polo-neck

    I don't know how this started but it strikes me as a Eureka moment for the person who discovered it. This is one trend that needs to be left alone because it looks so wrong. I just can't imagine gentlemen walking around looking like this. Maybe there's a gent who insisted on wearing both items on a particular day and finally came up with the combination. But it is totally unnecessary because it looks like a detachable collar is stuck in the polo-neck because the shirt is not visible anywhere else. Honestly, just because the Italians are doing doesn't mean it's style worthy.

    3. Pocket square in waistcoat

    A pocket square, in my opinion, was initially intended to adorn the breast pocket of a jacket and nothing else. A pocket square in any pocket of a waistcoat is highly misplaced. The clean line of the waistcoat is broken by the addition of the pocket square and this spoils the overall aesthetic. It's just too much and it shouldn't be done because it screams trying too hard. Dishonourable mention goes to a pocket square in a denim jacket.

    4. Men in skirts

    This has been seen on the runways and I hope it doesn't go further than that and Kanye West. There are subtle and gradual trends that are being introduced to emasculate men and skirts is one of them. And who else to peddle this trend and give it world wide appeal than Kanye West and mass media. As much as menswear rules can be broken, the classics can never be eradicated. A man in a suit will always be the standard. I say subtle because it starts with skirts, then men in heels, then a little make-up, lipstick, and then before you know it men will be in full on women's clothes, looking like women. There has to be a distinction and I choose to stay in the menswear lane with no intrusion from women's wear.

    5. PORN

    I don't know when the word porn became fashionable. It stupefies me that it is used so widely to describe things. I'm of the opinion that there are many other words we can use to describe the love we have for whatever, the word porn however is especially egregious. This word is so pervasive; if you get on Twitter you will see just how entrenched it is. You get all sorts of things such as: word porn, shoe porn, toe porn, poem porn, car porn, vinyl porn, etc. In fact, take something you like, anything, and then in describing it 'suffix' it with the word porn. My problem is we know where the word comes from and what it means, why would you want to use it as a descriptive word? The biggest issue I have with the word is, how do you explain to a twelve year old boy what sock porn is? The boy probably understands what socks are but the additional word, how would you explain it? If he decides to look up the word himself and gets the correct meaning of the word, will it not confuse him when combining it with a thing of interest? This word is wrong, the way it is used is wrong and the more we use it the more it'll be normalised, which can't be right. Let's not change what is wrong and try and make it right.

                                                                   Your thoughts?

                                              PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Style: Worst Purchases Of 2014

    Five years into my style journey and it appears that I have made some strides in dressing and personal style;  I’m not an impulsive buyer anymore; I consider things mentally and I always ask myself if I really need it. Two departments I still struggle in despite getting extensive information and exposure are garment alterations and purchasing shoes. This post is about the latter, we’ll talk about the former some other time. When it comes to purchasing shoes, it appears that I am still making rookie mistakes. And you can believe that I am living to regret my decisions almost instantaneously. During 2014 I bought three pairs of shoes that have me questioning whether I was at there at all when I bought them. From the colours, to the styles and design, and the quality and price, all the signs were there that I was making a bad choices. Here are three pairs of shoes that I purchased last year that I hugely regret; mostly because I am not using any of them right now.

    These very light tan lace-ups from Woolworths’ Studio W range were the first pair I bought in January 2014. At R500 I considered them a steal and the fact that I didn’t have a tan shoe justified the purchase. Oh, but they’re nothing like what I had initially thought and saw them to be. Everything screams cheap about them; the quality, construction, how they feel and how they fit. This was definitely a loss.

    These dark brown lace-ups are also from the Woolworths’ Studio W range. I think the adage ‘a mistake twice repeated is not a mistake’ is apt in this case. Whereas in the previous case it was frugality that drove me to buy, this time it was the presentation of the shoes, and the power of suggestion really got me hook, line and sinker. While visiting The Pavilion Mall with my wife, I was browsing through the Woolworths menswear section when I happened across a mannequin casually dressed and finished off with the said shoes. To me, it was perfection and the shoes were the cherry on top. I had to have them. Within a week I had purchased them for R999 and I felt like I had made a wise choice. After a few wears I started regretting my choice, I found that so much was unappealing about them. The slippery sole, the feint square toe, the wrinkly leather and the weak construction. This was another loss at the hands of Woolworths due to my poor decision making.

    If there is a heartbreaker from something I have bought then it has to be these tan Blakely lace-ups by Hush Puppie. I was looking for something sleek, tan and light for summer and when I came across these at Stuttafords I was convinced, especially after fitting them on. After my first wear the shoes felt rather odd on my feet; they were little roomy in the front and sides. After a second wear, I think I was finally convinced that the shoes were too big; compounding the situation was that even a third person was able to see that the shoes were big. When I first fitted them in store the shoes felt and looked fine. I was even wearing a pair of dress socks just to make sure, however, it was different when I got home. I called Stuttafords customer service and they couldn’t help because I had already worn the shoes twice. When I emailed the distributors of Hush Puppie in South Africa they replied that I should take the shoes where I bought them and then the shoes would be sent to them for inspection. I take a size UK11 in dress lace-up shoes but there was a strange anomaly with these shoes even though they were a size 11. My claim was rejected by the distributors and I just don’t have the time and energy to fight. All I can do is learn from this experience and be more diligent in the future.The strange thing is that all three shoes are size 11 but the Hush Puppies are bigger and longer than the Woolworths shoes. When it comes to buying shoes I can offer the following tips:

    1. Buy shoes at reputable menswear stores. As much as we disdain Indians for the way they conduct business, they still sell quality shoes than big retail chains and the China shops. If you care about quality, longevity, endurance and craftsmanship, then the Indian stores are your best bet.

    2. Places where you can buy shoes and groceries at the same time are the first place you look for low quality shoes. If your shopping trolley has both minced meat and dress socks then you're shopping in the wrong place for either product. What I find is that these stores lack in consistent quality throughout their product spectrum. If their shoes are top quality then their food products are going to be deficient, and vice versa.

    3. Do your best to study stores that sell shoes and be knowledgeable of the brands, styles and designs they stock. For example, the first pair I bought, if I had done a little more searching in the Durban CBD, I would've found a tan pair of far more superior quality by Barker at the exact same price or just a little more. The dark brown pair would've yielded a leather sole, Goodyear welted brogue by Bishop for R250 less. So, it pays to do your research.

    4. Consider the toe shape; the knowledgeable, stylish and discerning gentleman knows that square toes or any semblance of a square toe is a huge mistake. Conversely, an egregiously pointy toe is also an aberration. Make sure you traverse these two lanes assiduously.

    5. No name brands at retail stores are also a no-no. There are many popular brands like Barker, Bishop, Medicus, Crockett & Jones, and Florsheim, that offer a variety of styles at different price points. The Studio W brand is nothing but a loss for the progressive gentleman.

    6. Your feet contract and expand throughout the day, therefore, it is best to shop for shoes in the afternoon because your feet swell a smidgen during the day. This is caused by increased blood flow caused by walking. Shopping in the morning means that your feet have contracted and buying a shoe that is too snug will result in a tight shoe as the day progresses. So, avoid this.

                                             PG: Man to man, generation to generation.