With baseball’s best playing in the Midsummer Classic this week, now’s as good a time as ever to take a look back at the first half of the year and hand out some “awards.” There won’t be any real trophies of course, and unlike the All-Star game, no brand or item will get home field advantage in next year’s Store Wars. Top Photo Credit
Best Suit: L.L. Bean Signature New Tradition Twill – $124.98 ($194)
A predictable choice, but for $130 (ships free too) you can land yourself a cotton suit that’s so comfortable it wouldn’t be out of the question to take a lazy summer afternoon nap in it. Sleeves can run a little long and it’s pretty casual thanks to the patch pockets, but the price is almost too good to be true.
Best Watch: The Timex Originals Series – $50 – $100 (if you can find them)
Expecting the Seiko 5 SNZJ series? That particular automatic sport watch might have converted many of us anti-stainless band folks to the dark (or in this case, shiny) side, but anyone can wear one of these incredible nostalgia inspired Timex Originals. Hard to find, but sometimes they can go on sale via Nordstrom for just $50. (Want a perfect blackout watch? Here it is for $60.)
Best Dress Shoes: Allen Edmonds Weybridge Oxford – was $162.90 (sold out, reg. $325)
Just risky enough, a true oxford with closed lacing, and made in the USA. Dropped to a silly $160 during the aftermath of the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale for Men. Now they’re gone. Not even available through the Allen Edmonds website.
Best Cheap Dress Shoes: Calvin Klein Gareth – $129.95 (dips to $100 often)
The guys who love their dress shoes won’t be impressed. But if you’re the type who wants a plain as can be, decent quality leather, leather sole black lace up to wear for real dressed up occasions? These should do just fine. Ignore the words “patent leather” in the description on Endless. They’re not patent. (Can’t wait for a sale to drop these to $100? Try the Italian Made Mike Konos DSW lace-ups for around $140 instead.)
Best Casual Shoes: Mike Konos Suede Cap Toe – $99.94 (sold out)
Casual as well as perfectly at home when paired with a summer suit. Keep an eye on the DSW made in Italy house brand Mike Konos. As already mentioned, they’ve got a good looking dress shoe too.
Best Boots: Timberland Earthkeepers Side Zip – $170
They’re back. At least in the tan color via Timberland or on Nordstrom (albeit for $170). Do they look as sleek as the grey brogues from Hudson that Urban Outfitters had recently for $90? Nope. Can they easily transition from the trail to a nice (but not incredibly dressed up) bar on a moment’s notice? Indeed.
Best Blazer or Sportcoat: The INC Ultra Light Series – $25 – $70
Gone from the web but try your local Macy’s if you have one nearby. These have no lining, no shoulder pads, nothing. But they’re cut just right, come in a micro gingham, a glen plaid, and a few other options.
Best Pants: Banana Republic Straight Fit 5-Pocket Canvas – $32.49 ($69.50)
5 pocket styling like jeans, much lighter weight than denim, and come in three or four color options. Might want to check in the BR store closest to you if you’ve got one. Saw these on a rack for $24.99 with plenty of sizes left. Sizes are scarce online, but use the code BRONGAP35 for the extra 35% off. In depth review can be found over here.
Best Tie: Lands’ End Canvas Italian Silk Knit Tie – $12.50 (Sold Out)
Kudos to you if you were able to snag one of these for around $10. Made from Italian silk, (same with its purple and black striped brother) these have a tremendous weight to them and tie a solid knot. Great for year round wear.
Best Cheap Accessory: Lands’ End Canvas Chambray Pocket Square – $9.50 (sold out)
These sold out extremely fast and for good reason. The chambray is just dark enough, doesn’t look like denim, and those pinstripes go with almost any sort of casual or summer getup. A newcomer that shows plenty of potential is this orange plaid pocket square from LEC. Ships free with code DEFINED and pin 2514. (Expires 7/15)
Best Drink: Maker’s 46 – about $35 – $40
Some swear by classic Maker’s. This isn’t classic Maker’s. Tons of flavor, sweeter, easier to sip and relax with neat (unless you’re a hardcore original Maker’s fan.) Just fine on it’s own or makes a hell of a mint julep.
Best Wallet: Jack Spade Monza Single Fold Wallet – $35.00 ($50.00)
The perforations are based on the steering wheel grips found on classic sports cars. Still available in a unique British racing green. Not quite a card case but far from a bulky billfold.
Best Card Case: Chester Mox #52 Dual Side Wallet – $60.00
Made in the USA, Horween leather, and… well look at it. No plastic covered ID windows, simple slots, and contrast stitching around the edge. For an extra $10 you can get it personalized.
Best Work Bag / Briefcase: Saddleback Leather Medium Thin Brief – $411.00
It’s a huge investment, but with that 100 year warranty it costs you just four bucks a year! No? Maybe our full review can convince you. These cases are something. Even if you live and work in a large city, the construction is so eye catching that you can easily get away with its rough style in a concrete jungle.
Best Weekend Bag: Frost River Flight Duffle – $120 – $140
Remember Frost River? Made in Minnesota, waxed canvas, and has a no nonsense design that’ll acquire one hell of a patina along your travels. Inexpensive for what you’re getting. Rugged & good looking at the same time.
Best Splurge: Tiffany & Co. Compact Wallet – $195.00
No that’s not for you. Yes that’s for her. Why? Because sometimes it’s fun to spend a stupid amount of money on her (if she’s not the type to expect you to spend money on her at all.) If you’re just dating, this is the kind of thing she’ll use for the rest of her life even if you break up. She’ll lie to her eventual husband and tell him she bought it for herself forever ago. If you’re married (or get married?) she’ll think of you (in a good way) every time she makes a purchase.
Best Sale: Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale for Men
Happens around the holidays and then again around the summer solstice. Between the first and second round of markdowns, there’s hardly a better time to find a huge variety of great picks at pretty reasonable prices.
Best Debate: Carry a $20 in your wallet at all times
Talk about an unexpected firestorm. Walking around with zero cash is an embarrassment for some of us. Yet others expect the option to pay for the cheapest of stuff with plastic. And if they can’t? They won’t visit that business.
Best* Ridiculous Model Caption: Tie – MarkRenyoldssc & daliam
“Idiota! You misunderstand me when I say Paolo is to sleep with the fishes.” – From caption contest 9
“Guess what else is blue.” – From caption contest 20
*And honestly there could be so many more. Well done to everyone.
Any snubs? Feel like something was missed? Leave it all in the comments section below…