10 Style Game-Changers

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Some stuff just works, looks, and/or feels so much better than the competition.  These are the “eureka!” inducing, style-epiphany causing things that once discovered, you wonder how you ever got along without them.  So what are yours?  Share your additional style game changing favorites in the comments below.   Top Photo Credit: Roger Goun 

1. J. Crew Ludlow Blazers + Suits

BR’s tailored fit blazers and suit jackets cost a significant amount less, but they don’t quite nail it the way J. Crew’s Ludlow does.  You have to play the sale game and be patient, but if you can hold off until a Ludlow blazer (or suit) gets into your price range, then good grief are they something.  From the barely there shoulder pads, to the substantial feeling chest piece and half canvas (on most models), to the slightly lower slung button stance and off the rack trim arms… Ludlow jackets from J. Crew are as good as it gets.  Plus the sleeve buttons are non-functioning.  The Ludlow is just a step or two ahead of the rest.

2. Dress shirts with a lowered second button (like Ledbury)

Speaking of button stance… Ledbury shirts are pricey.  Made in Europe (Poland) from Italian fabrics, and they’re a big splurge.  But the construction and feel is incredible, plus the second button on their shirts has been lowered by a few centimeters.  That makes a huge difference.  You’re neither too buttoned up with just the top button undone, nor are you looking too Don-Juan de cheeseball with two undone and the placket drifting open (there is a way to prevent that).  Ratio also seems to have a slightly lower second button.  Wish some of the more affordable brands out there would catch on.

Ledbury Button StanceLedburys shirts feature a second button that’s a bit lower than other dress shirts.

3. Slimming down from a bi-fold or tri-fold to a card case.

Less really is more when it comes to how much junk you’re carrying in your pockets.  It’s not an easy transition.  But try and give a slim card case a shot before you fall victim to the Costanza Wallet, which is really nothing more than micro-hoarding.

4. Wurkin Stiffs

Collar stays are the bare minimum, but if you’re particular about how you want your collar to look, then the magnetic wurkin stiffs are a must.  A big help when going tieless. Many have pointed out that you can make these on your own with some metal collar stays and small rare-earth magnets, but the originals haven’t let many (any?) down.  Plus, you can now get the covered w/ color so they conceal a bit more buttons.

Wurkin stiffs game changers

5. Amazon Prime

For $79 a year you get free two day shipping or overnight shipping for an extra three bucks on almost every item sold by Amazon.  You also get access to their Kindle Lending library, as well as their Netflix like service.   The amount of time and gas you save from running around trying to find the little every-day stuff is immense.  Absolute honesty here:  I thought $79 was steep before I gave it a shot for a one month trial.  For me, it’s a bargain.  More from Primer here.

6. Banana Republic Pima Cotton Blend Socks

These are the mainly cotton, with a bit of poly/nylon/spandex, socks. They’re the perfect mix between dressed up and casual.  They’re super soft, neither too thick nor paper thin, and they stay up on your calves all day.  Plus, they’re the perfect item to throw in your cart if you’re close to tipping the free shipping threshold, or, you’re in store hoping to pick up a “oh you bought something?  Here’s a coupon for your next visit” promotion.

BR Pima SocksAffordable, durable, squishy soft and they won’t droop during the day.

7. Pocket Tees

Graphic tees are overdone (and expensive), and plain tees can feel a little too much like underwear. The answer:  A pocket tee.  Much more casual than a polo, but still has some purpose.

8. Single Monk Straps

Double monks are great, but they can be flashy.  Lace-ups can sometimes feel slightly stuffy.  Right in between sits the humble single monk.  More casual than a lace up, but that buckle isn’t showing all of the time.  Not a ton of options out there, but they are available in more casual options like the Allen Edmonds Lubbock and Florsheim Asset, as well as dressed up pairs like The Franciscan from A.E or the always on sale at LastCall single monk from Magnanni.

Single MonksNot always necessary to make it a double.

9. Packing and eating a salad every day for lunch

Many a slim fit pair of pants had to be shelved due to mindless calories consumed at Hooters, Carl’s Jr., and various local bar/grill joints.  Two benefits here:  1. More money stays in your pocket, and thus, can be put towards something like a new blazer or pair of shoes (or saved of course).  2.  Your waistline is more likely to fit between those pockets.  Sound too wimpy?  Check out the Art of Manliness “Man’s Salad” that Brett used to boost his testosterone levels.

10. A spring bar tool

Swapping out watch straps on a favorite time piece is pretty similar to putting a new, fresh coat of paint up on the walls of a tired looking room.  Same basic thing at the core, but the surroundings make it look completely new.  Also helps to keep the watchstrap switcharoo in mind when shopping for a time piece.  Lots of great looking pieces come with less than good looking bands, which can be easily changed out for something better looking.  A warning:  Ultra cheap spring bar tools are usually junk.  The one seen below is nice and solid, and comes in a kit that looks just like this.

Spring Bar tool game changer

Your turn guys.  What’s the one (or many) things that have had a great impact on your own personal style?  This is pretty open ended, but that’s by design.  Leave it all in the comments section below.