Some questions are better answered publicly since others might be asking the same thing, or, one of you has the perfect answer. If you’ve got a style tip, question, or anything else you’d like to pass along, you can send those in here. If you’d rather your question not be featured in a future mailbag, just go ahead and say so in your email. Feel free to hit the comments with other options for answers to this most recent batch of questions. Top Photo Credit: Tracy O.
Q: What style shirt + shoes with a tuxedo?
I am getting married in June. The other day I called J. Crew to exchange a pairof linen pants when they told me that the Ludlow tux qualified for the 25% off code. So I purchased their shawl collar tux, as I have had my eye on it for some time. The next step for me is choosing the shirt, cummerbund or waistcoat, bow tie or neck tie, patent leather shoes or wear my black Allen Edmonds McAllister wingtips or Mercanti Fiorentini black oxfords. I feel like I want to go for a wing tip collar with the matching satin bow tie from J Crew. Thoughts? – Josh
As a former mall foodcourt pianist (stop laughing, it was high school), who was damned to wearing a rental once a week while hammering out Linus & Lucy and Stairway to Heaven on a baby grand while the dudes at Sbarro provided percussion with the pizza wheels… I personally try to steer clear of anything that resembles a rental. So congrats on the shawl collar purchase. Consider skipping the wing collar though. A wing collar + pleated shirt, while more traditional, also looks more rented. Some guys will shake their head at wearing a nice, white, french cuff, semi-spread shirt with a tux (so, no studs, just buttons), but it looks pretty damn good. If showing buttons is just too bourgeois for you, start looking for a covered placket shirt now. They’re tough to find… but… strongly consider sticking with a standard collar. Meanwhile, go with the bow tie + black oxfords. Not wingtips.
Q: Hitting the gym pre or post-work.
I find the only time I usually have for the gym is immediately before or right after work, but that means I’m lugging my gym bag with me to the office, as well as showering and dressing in a locker room. Any advice on functional, yet classy gym bags? And what should I make sure to pack in my dopp kit to ensure I’m looking sharp post-workout? – Patrick
The quick and dirty answer is try and get up and hit the gym at 5 or 6 am. Less people, plus, you’ll be able head home after for a shower + shave before work. Now, that’s not possible for many, so if you’re packing for both work + gym, consider either the Possibilities Bag or Round-A-Bout duffel from Beckel Canvas. Simple, made in the USA, and cotton. Cotton is key. After awhile, poly bags will start to soak up odors that no amount of washing will get out. For the dopp, whatever you usually use, plus some blotting sheets for after you’ve exited the gym. I’ve found that after a good workout + hot shower, my skin is more likely to look like an oil slick once I leave the gym. Blood’s running a little hot at that point. Both these from E.L.F. and these from Clean & Clear do the trick. And keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car. After you get in your rig, sanitize your hands to get the gym bugs off. Too many people secreting too many fluids.
Q: Need help in picking out a wedding band.
“Most of the men in my family don’t wear a wedding band. Be it for work/safety concerns or just personal preference. But, for me and my future wife, its important. So I’ve been looking for something that I like. But I can’t seem to find anything that goes well adjacent to my pasty/red/hairy knuckles (yes, I have beautiful hands). Maybe its just because it looks so foreign? Any suggestions?” – Steve
First, congrats on the upcoming nuptials. Allow me to be the first person you’ve never met to give you some unsolicited advice: Make sure your wedding day is YOUR day (meaning, the two of you). Don’t let pushy relatives/friends hijack it. If there’s a risk of that, put your foot down firm and early. For the band, it’s hard to beat a brushed/matte titanium band when it comes to price + looks. They’re super strong, the flash is minimal, and they’re nice and lightweight. Plus, they don’t resize well (if at all) so there’s extra motivation there to not pack on the newlywed pounds. For those who worry about losing a finger in an accident to a titanium band, that’s a myth. Backup would be a plain white or yellow gold band. Not too wide, not too thin. Something nice and classic (and, uh, easy to quickly replace if you lose it)
Q: When a Trench’s Belt Goes Missing
I lost the belt to this great olive-colored trenchcoat I have (it just slipped out one day and I didn’t realize until it was too late). Any suggestions on what I can do to replace the belt? It just feels so naked without it that I never wear it any more – what a shame!? – Navneet
Belt? You don’t need no stinkin’ belt! But I say that as a guy who often walks around without a belt in his trench. Those two empty loops (yep, just two on mine) don’t bother me. But, if you really want a belt, head to a thrift store. Wear your trench while you’re shopping at a few thrift stores, and you might find a cheap, old-man, boxy trench with a close enough matching belt. By the coat, use the belt. Also, don’t give up on the idea of a contrasting belt. Just don’t wear it wrapped around your front, since that’ll cut you off visually. Instead, tie it around back. An olive trench with, say, a navy or deep brown belt tied around back might actually look kinda good.
Q: Breaking in Allen Edmonds?
I’ve recently purchased my first pair of Allen Edmonds (McAllister in Bourbon Calf). I love the look of the shoe 100%, but they are awfully stiff. Do you have any tips to loosen them up a bit? In particular, the leather insole is probably the most uncomfortable of any shoe I’ve ever owned. I want to wear my McAllisters more often but I can’t if I know I’ll be on my feet for most of the day. – Jose
That’s a tough one Jose. Literally. Been lucky enough to own a few pairs of AEs in my life, and while some were super comfortable out of the box on my feet (the Fairfax and Hanover) two other pairs (Neumora and Weybridge bit into the tops of my feet for a week or so. During that break in time I wore them sparingly, often around the house, and always with slightly thicker cotton socks than the standard paper thin cheap dress socks. Now they all fit and feel awesome. Also, the McCallister’s shape + last might not be a great fit for your arch and/or foot shape. If possible, try getting into an Allen Edmonds store for a fitting.
Q: First Blazer?
I’m looking to buy my first sport coat/blazer, and I’m trying to decide between Banana Republic’s Tailored-Fit Textured Navy Cotton Blazer and the Tailored-Fit Blue Wool Two-Button Blazer as my first sport coat/blazer. Is navy the first color one should go with? Which of these two would you recommend? I should be able to get one for 40% off using one of their Wednesday coupons this month. – Justin
Welcome into the cult of blazers + sportcoats Justin. Beware, you might just get hooked. So 40% off, that’s $150. The one on the left is wool, and the one on the right is cotton. BR makes some great cotton sportcoats, but until recently, they’ve clocked in around $198 full retail. As long as the quality of the wool is decent (haven’t seen it in person, but one of the online reviews is real positive) then the wool option should make for a great first blazer. The Tailored fit from BR is closer but not tight, button stance won’t look dated any time soon (if ever) and the lapels are just fine. Congrats on the upcoming purchase!
Q: You’re dumb. J. Crew Factory Sales are all the same.
I think sites that talk about J. Crew Factory sales should have a disclaimer. *Disclaimer: JCF %s mean NOTHING. They raise prices right before they have these type of sales. It’s a pathetic display of consumer sheep-ism to think that a 50% JCF sale is a better deal than their weekly 30 or 40% sales.* – H.C.
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