June 30th, 2010

Ken’s Style in Toy Story 3: Puh-leeze Barbie, That’s Not An Ascot

EDIT: It’s been brought to my attention that when Barbie says, “Nice ascot,” it could be a clever way of disguising Barbie’s compliment about Ken’s behind. That’s possible, but I don’t think she had actually seen the backside at that point in the movie.

I’d been looking forward to seeing Toy Story 3 solely on the basis of Ken’s outfit. Well, maybe not solely. But this screen gives me much to chew on:

The stylish ken doll from toy story 3

  • Boat shoes without socks (great look, though I guess it’s easy when your manufacturer doesn’t provide you with socks)
  • Shorts that shouldn’t be pleated (though the rolled cuff look is totally in)
  • A very interesting shirt. I’d like it if:  1. His collar wasn’t popped (he’s in a daycare, thus he has no need to shield his plastic visage from the wind)  2. The top wasn’t unbuttoned. I understand, Ken, that your plastic mold gives you a rock hard bod. But please, one button is enough.  3. It wasn’t a leopard print. Ok, so I dislike everything except the color.

To top it off, Ken’s got something tied around his neck. My first reaction was that it’s a neckerchief. It’s tied to the side, it’s fairly narrow, without a lot of width variation…

Barbie and Ken meet

Then I saw Toy Story 3. In the first scene with Ken, love-struck Barbie remarks, “Nice ascot.”

WHAT.  C’MON BARBIE. (let’s go party). That’s not an ascot, is it? My immediate reaction was pleasure, since I knew that “ascot” would soon enter the vocabulary of millions.  But is Barbie spreading false notions about men’s style?

  1. Unfolded ascots are wide at both ends. Imagine the wide end of the tie x 2, with a little skinny section in the middle. Ken’s neckwear appears to be much skinnier. One end seems to be a little wide, but nowhere near the shape of an ascot. Heck, it almost looks like an oddly shaped bow tie.
  2. Most ascots are folded in front. Like Ken, men wear ascots under their collar, but they look like this:

Robert Downey Jr. rocks an ascot

Ken appears to have simply folded his in a scarf-ish knot on the side. However, it’s a little too small to be a scarf. I think it’s a neckerchief.

For the final verdict on Barbie’s knowledge of men’s style, I went straight to the source, the movie website. “His accessories include matching scarf, sensible loafers, and a fashion-forward gold belt.”

Huh. I’m not a scarf expert, though I do find it odd that Ken would wear a scarf in a room unplagued by any sort of weather. (Remember the popped collar? Pointless.) Because, after all, mens wear is practical at its core.

I guess me AND Barbie have some reading to do. Or maybe Pixar needs to hire a proper dandy as a costume consultant, since that does not look like a scarf. And Barbie…you were way off.

PS – blue loafers? Really?

Movie pics photo credit: Disney

RDJ photo credit: I Watch Stuff


June 29th, 2010

Try A Wool Tie On For Size

I admit, wool ties are more of a fall trend. But hey, fall is only a couple of months away. Better to buy them when they’re not in such high demand, right?

Moreover, summer is a time for casual dress. Casual dress can be difficult for some guys, who are afraid of anything beyond khakis and polos.

Luckily, wool ties provide the perfect bridge between formal and casual. They’re neckwear, naturally formal, but they add contrast with their texture. There are two types of wool ties – knitted and woven.

knit ties are the perfect casual neckwear

Knitted is the perfect casual tie, as featured in Men’s Flair article written years before knit ties were “in.” If you want to break out of the khakis and polos mode, try blue jeans (without the rips), a more informal oxford and a knit tie. Substitute the knitted for woven and it becomes a little bit more formal. To find a good oxford for casual wear, make sure it’s not made out of worsted wool. One bit of advice – look for a collars with buttoned tips.

If you’re looking for a casual way to wear a sports coat, especially one  made out of a casual material like tweed, (as Will from A Suitable Wardrobe writes,) you can pair a woven tie with jeans, or with more “wrinkly” khaki pants. Just be sure to avoid suit coat jackets, especially wool. Look for sport coats, which will feature pouch pockets, instead of simple slits.

kobe bryant sports a formal wool tie

Woven ties can be worn with a suit; you just have to be sure to keep in mind its colors. If it sports “normal” silk colors, a look like Kobe’s is stylish.

an earthy ensemble with a woven wool tie

If it’s more earthy, stick to less formal jackets, like this one pictured in GQ.

Knit ties photo credit: Men’s Flair

Kobe photo credit: GQ

June 29th, 2010

Current Contest Rundown

Look great with a new necktie! Did you know you look even better if it’s free?

Annie loves her readers! On Annies Home one winner will get a $25 gift certificate. Ends 7/5

At Ascending Butterfly they are offering 2 awesome winners a chance to win that killer necktie you’ve been wanting! Ends 6/30

Then quickly go over to the Amundsen House of Chaos and enter there to win a gift certificate for your awesome tie! Ends 6/30

Good Luck!

June 28th, 2010

Review: The BeSpeak App

Need directions? There’s an app for that. Want to waste time? There’s an app for that. Clueless about matching clothes? Well…now there’s an app for that as well.

Alan Flusser, famous for designing Michael Douglas’ wardrobe in the movie Wall Street and the book “Dressing the Man,” has created a free iPhone/iPod app to recreate this classic shot from Wall Street:

michael douglas from the movie Wall Street

Ok, you can do more with BeSpeak than that. BeSpeak starts by asking you personal questions – notably size (of neck, head, waist, etc) and skin/hair contrast. If you’re small, stick to small patterns. If you don’t have skin and hair contrast, pick contrasting colors. That’s the whole gist of the profile matching.

Once you’ve created a profile, you can customize four clothing items: Suit, shirt, tie, and pocket square. The colors and patterns of the items determine your skill and quality level. The skill level is interesting, but not very useful. The quality level is on a 10 point scale. Select colors or patterns unfitting to your profile, lose points.

Customizing your BeSpeak profile

Unfortunately, the wardrobe is quite limited. I couldn’t even create a gold solid tie, since gold isn’t a color option for ties. The closest was sea island yellow. Which isn’t very close at all. Suits fare even worse – though the base color matched, I was unable to recreate the colored pinstripes on my suit. There were only four available colors for accents.

Another problem I noticed was the absence of materials – after all, a brown tweed jacket will match quite differently than wool a suit of the same color. (It should also be noted that no option existed to determine individual trousers and jackets – suits only)

On the technical side, BeSpeak sports sleek graphics; but, for me, at least, very slow loading times hindered use. It might just be my iPod, though no other apps have slowed. Moreover, many of the clothing items I created the night before were reset the next day. Additionally, the startup is slow and somewhat pointless.

BeSpeak has a camera option when customizing clothing. This may be the solution to the limited options in customizing clothes. Since my lowly iPod touch doesn’t feature a camera, perhaps a reader can chime in?

BeSpeak is free, so there’s no harm in downloading. But, does it deserve a spot on your “main” iPod screen? Only if you have trouble matching colors to your body. This is its greatest strength – when customizing your colors, asterisks mark the colors that fit your skin and hair profile. But, as a demonstration of BeSpeak’s limited usefulness, clashing colors and patterns have little effect on the quality level of your ensemble. The following ensemble received an 8 out of 10 quality score:

BeSpeak's quality score

That’s the greatest drawback. BeSpeak concentrates primarily on your profile type, while ignoring the ensemble’s patterns and colors.

If nothing, you can at least experiment with the “create an ensemble” option. You might learn something from BeSpeak’s selections.

The Bespeak app

Gordon Gekko photo: Boston.com

June 26th, 2010

How to Buy Ties

When buying ties, there are some precautions one ought to keep in mind, lest one walks out with a bad quality tie, a tie identical to the rest of ones wardrobe or a tie that’s impossible to match.

To ensure tie quality, let the tie hang down from your hand, with the middle over your hand. Make sure it drapes smoothly.

Additionally, a “slip stitch” is a looped thread on the back of a tie. If you open the back sides up, it should be woven into the lining. how to show for ties Try pulling the “slip stitch.” The tie should wrinkle together.

To guarantee that each tie will be matched properly, alternate between solids, stripes and patterns. This way, you won’t be stuck to ties of one style because only that style looks proper with your shirt and suit.

Also, resist buying flashy colors or unnecessary prints. Though a pink and cream striped tie looks swell on display, it can be a real pain to match. Good matching colors are navy blue, red, black and gold.

If you’re wondering how much you should spend on a tie, keep this in mind: Shoes, ties and the fit of a suit are the most telling signs of luxury. Some fashion bloggers will advise you to spend as much as you can afford. I say, spend as much as you do on your shirts.

If you’re wondering whether to purchase ties online, remember that personally feeling a tie is key to determining quality.  If you’re building a wardrobe, concrete stores are your best bet. However, if you’re searching for a specific design and color, or are confident in the quality of an online tie boutique, shopping for ties online can save you money as well as time.

Photo credit: Doublebug’s flickr

June 25th, 2010

Weekly Roundup

Thanks to the Southern Gent, I discover the “Cruzin Cooler,” which is as cool as it sounds – a motorized cooler. Meet the new Moped everybody.

the cruzin cooler

Instead of arguing with your significant other about your right to attend and watch sporting events, trick her into joining the masses of sports fans. Be Better Guys gives you tips to make your woman like sports.

You know the feeling – you’ve gotta leave right this minute, but your tie simply isn’t the right length. The problem might be tie length, not your knot. Short Shrifted doles out tips for dealing ties that are too long.

DC Urban Dad moves, then leaves us with 10 bits of wisdom about moving. Be sure to watch the attached video of who may be the most efficient packer ever.

how to tie a boutonniere loop

Pinning boutonnieres on with safety pins is totally lame. Instead, learn how to keep your flower secured on the lapel by looping it through your lapel buttonhole and securing it on a boutonniere loop, which you can sew yourself. Gentleman’s Gazette shows you how.

Since we’re on the topic of boutonnieres, I’d like to bring up a guest post at Fine and Dandy. Don’t stop at fake flowers, men – wear those roses and zinnias proudly on your lapels.

Photo credit: Cruzin Coolers, Gentleman’s Gazette

June 24th, 2010

Seersucker For The Summer

I’m wearing seersucker shorts right now. This is relevant to you because seersucker is commonly attributed to men’s formal wear, whether you have any or not. I don’t have a seersucker suit; but, I can tell you right now, that, based on my shorts, seersucker is awesome.

an awesome pair of seersucker shorts

I got this pair from Kohls for about twenty bucks. I’m telling you, seersucker shorts might replace my impressive collection of plaid shorts. Here’s why seersucker is awesome:

First off, it’s soft, 100% cotton, a great break from the khaki shorts dominating summer casual wear.

Obviously, they’re perfectly suited for warm weather. Seersucker suits can truly save you buckets of sweat if you’ll be donning formal wear outside. Braving the summer heat never felt cooler.

Also, seersucker texture is uniquely varied. Just add a white V neck and your get-up’s half done.

However, they’re wrinkly. Draped over a hanger, they don’t shed the day’s wrinkles. Like seersucker shorts, seersucker suits won’t look as polished as wool.

Additionally, they require different upkeep than my other shorts. Apparently I can wash them, but not tumble dry. If you’ve got a seersucker suit, you might be able to wash the pants; but stick to dry cleaning the jacket, at least.

Am I advocating that you go out and buy a seersucker suit right this minute? Maybe. But you should at least consider some casual wear – shorts, pants, or a button-down. The texture is unique and ideal for humid or hot June/July.

Photo credit: kohls.com

June 23rd, 2010

James Bond Style Review: Dr. No

If someone asks you, “who embodies men’s style?”, James Bond should top the list. Because, when it comes to conservative, well-tailored clothing, “nobody does it better.”

Since I enjoy the Bond movies so very much, I’d thought I’d start a series of pseudo-reviews of Bond movies. I’ll dwell primarily on the style of each one. When it comes to Bond, there’s no better movie to start with than the original, Dr. No.

the first casino scene in dr. no

The first scene of the movie, gambling, soon becomes a trademark of Bond movies. He arrives in a tux, wins a hand of poker, beats a villain or a Bond girl, then leaves, possibly with the later.

Ursala Andress typically steals the attention in the beach scenes, but I’d like to highlight Connery’s polo – look how it fits. A polo should fit snug. The sleeves only go halfway down his arm. Moreover, check out his rolled pants. Practical for the beach, yes. Nowadays, perfectly appropriate for the street. Tom Ford-esque, forty years before Ford designed Bond’s suits.

dr. no, the villain in the first james bond movie

Dr. No, the first Bond villain, sports a Nehru jacket. After all, he is half Chinese. (half German)

jack lorda, playing james leiter in james bond

Felix Leiter, perennial Bond ally and CIA operative’s suit in Dr. No lacks Bond’s tailored fit. I highlight him because of his shades – it would take a lot of guts for a modern man to pull off cat eye glasses.

Dr. No introduces Bond trademarks – the villain, gambling, the Bond girl, Moneypenny. Though the film is short on gadgets, Bond makes do, attaching a single hair to his closet door to track intruders. Unlike later Bond movies, it’s not derailed by ridiculous villains, unbelievable plots or unnecessary allies. It’s as close to a perfect Bond movie as you can get, IMO. It tops my list.

Casino and Ursala Andress photo credit: IMDB

Dr. No photo credit: NY Daily News

Felix Leiter photo credit: davidtyson.com

June 23rd, 2010

The World Cup’s Worst Dressed Coaches

As I wrote earlier, soccer coaches, unlike football or basketball coaches, possess some variety in their dress. Big mistake, IMO. If you’re coaching a team on the world stage, you should dress like it. Here are five examples of the worst-dressed coaches in the World Cup:

diego maradonas, argentina coach

What’s wrong with Diego Maradona? He’s at least wearing a suit. Plus how can you resist the hair+beard combo? Well, he’s wearing two watches. I can think of no reasons why a soccer coach would need two watches. That’s just tacky.

lars lagerbeck, nigerian soccer coach

Apparently the Nigerian team has gone all-green. Seriously, the coach Lars Lagerback must seemingly reject any article of clothing that doesn’t match his players. And someone explain his coat’s bump in the back. I hope it’s just billowing.

This picture of the Greek coach and an assistant is plain funny. He ought to go easy on the jackets.

marcelo bielsa, chile's coach

Marcello Bielsa, Chile’s coach, encapsulates almost this whole list – quit wearing track suits to World Cup games! I don’t understand it. The whole world is going to be watching you. You’re not performing any physical activity, yet you’re sticking to tennis shoes and white socks? Have some class.

the usa soccer coach, bob bradley

To round off the list, the US’ very own Bob Bradley sports a puffed up jacket. If the US wants the world to take its soccer team seriously, its coach should replace his style advisor with someone besides Kenny from South Park. Lose the fleece Bob.

kenny from southpark

All photos courtesy of fifa.com

June 22nd, 2010

Wearing Bow Ties: Who, When, and With What

I’ve written previously about how bow ties are back “in.” However, many men still exhibit apprehension about tying a bow around their necks. In order to banish your doubts, here’s a practical, generalized, and possibly completely misguided guide to wearing bow ties:

Who should wear bow ties:

  • Anyone younger than 30 or older than 55. Sorry, but middle aged men dressing for work are forever doomed to neck ties.
  • Educators. If you’re a high school teacher, your dress code might include a tie. Since your bosses won’t judge you based on your neckwear, you might askanye west sporting a bow tie well shock your pupils with a decorative bow. If you’re a tenured professor, there’s no excuse not to wear unorthodox clothes.
  • Dandies. “Dandy” is a term for someone who takes clothing very seriously, always wears a pocket square, etc. Dandies completely disregard how people perceive them; instead, they heed only the clothes themselves. Bow ties are awesome clothes, so dandies should wear them. They probably already are.

When should you wear bow ties:

  • To proms and fraternity/sorority formals. Most of the attendees will have no clue how to dress. Anyone wearing a bow tie will quickly achieve legendary status.
  • To dinner parties. If conversation is stalling, wait for them to mention your bow tie. It will be mentioned eventually.
  • To get your picture taken. 20 years from now, anyone who glances at a picture of you wearing a bow tie will label you a sartorial god. Especially those who’ve never met you, but are looking at your picture: Your reputation will precede you.

With what should you wear bow ties:

  • Boring white shirts. Regular bow ties are loud enough, forgo the striped and checkers.
  • Jeans and a casual white shirt. By casual, I mean slightly wrinkled.
  • Khakis and a blazer. Suits are conservative, bow ties aren’t.

Final piece of advice: Pre-tied bow ties are synonymous with clip-on ties. Avoid both.

Photo credit: dresslikekanyewest.com