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: In need of Wool Trousers. Maybe?
One of the biggest areas I have skimped on when redoing my wardrobe over the past 8 months has been dress slacks/trousers. But now I’m set to move into a job that’s less business casual, and more straight business. Can you recommend a brand of 4 season wool slacks that are slim fitting for a reasonable price (around $70 or less)? The best pair I found for fit was the JCF wool Bedford pants, but they have since disappeared from their website. – Zach
Short Answer: Try the Macy’s house brand Bar III (above left), UNIQLO (above right), and Bonobos when on sale. Just keep an eye on the ratio of wool to poly if they’re blends.
Long Answer: Most people agree that wool trousers are a must in most men’s wardrobes. But, to play Devil’s Advocate (he seems to favor the suited look) why not wear suits more often? If it’s a workplace where Business casual doesn’t fly, could you wear suits more often, and dress them down as need be? Y’know, wear shirts with more casual patterns (gingham for example) and neckties with texture (cotton, wool, knit)? Jackets just look pretty darn good. That’s not to say that a blazer + trousers doesn’t look sharp too. But when in doubt, wear a jacket. The shirt & tie thing just seems to be the default uniform for many office workers.
Q: Sleek Loafers for the Wide Footed Guy
Do you have any recommendations for shoes (particularly loafers) that come in wide sizing? Despite your warning, I ordered a pair of Abes from Jack Erwin and had to return them as they were a bit too narrow. Can you think of anything complementary to the look of the Abe but comfortable for those with a wider foot? – Justin
Big fan of Jack Erwin, but yes, they do run a little trim. Now, as far as the style goes, you’ll want to keep an eye out for loafers with a longer “vamp”. That’s the front, top part of the shoe that’s parallel to the sole. So you’re on the hunt for a shoe that looks more like a Corvette, and less like a Fiat. Consider the on-sale Allen Edmonds “McGraw” ($247), Nordstrom’s “Ethan” ($175), or Magnanni’s Leo. All are decently sleek and well made. Each of those three brands seems to make wide shoes at least in some of their models, with Allen Edmonds especially making a ton of wide shoes. Keep an eye out for the next Allen Edmonds Outlet sale, since they might have some odd sizes for cheap. And who knows, with the recent cash investment that Jack Erwin aquired, maybe they’re on their way to offering more widths?
Q: What’s the difference between “Worsted” and, uh, not worsted?
I have my eyes on the J.Crew Ludlow in navy. Here’s the deal, worsted wool or just Italian wool? They both cost the same, so I was just wondering if there really is a big difference. Is worsted wool better? – Greg
It has to do with the length of the strands and the depth of the fabric. Think about it this way… a poplin dress shirt has a crisp, smooth, almost sharpness to it. Now, an Oxford Cloth shirt is a little deeper & thicker, and doesn’t cut so razor-like visually. Worsted wool has that crisp sharpness to it. Regular (woolen) wool can be a little softer and deeper to the touch. But don’t think that just because something is Flannel (soft & deep, right?), means it can’t be worsted. There are plenty of worsted flannels out there. Confused yet? Here’s a really good, in-depth description of what’s what. Bottom line: Probably go with the worsted.
Q: NBA All Star Style
Did you see Chris Bosh’s outfit that he arrived to the All Star Game in? What’d you think? – Winfield
Did you see James HARDEN Saturday night at the Dunk Contest? Bosh I get. Hyper-trendy tweaks to a pretty standard outfit. Wouldn’t do it myself, but my brain comprehends and in a way appreciates. Harden? I got nothin’.
Q: I want to buy a jean jacket. Should I?
I’ve gotten it in my head that owning one of these is an acceptable idea. What are your thoughts? Also, how, where, and with what does one wear this item? – TD
Why not? Most are pretty affordable, so if it’s an every-so-often piece, it won’t dent the wallet that bad. But if you’re going to use it as your primary lightweight casual outerwear, hold up… Here’s a test: Do you wear jeans at least 4 days a week? If you do, you might want to skip the jean jacket. Denim on denim requires some thought & prep, and if you’re doing it all the time with your outerwear, it might get old fast. Now, if you’re rarely in jeans, go for it. You’ll get good use out of it. Just apply the same tests to your jacket as you would to a pair of denim (darker washes, good fit, etc…) Lastly, if you DO wear jeans at least 5 days a week, but still really like the look & lines of a jean jacket? Consider the Levi’s Trucker in Corduroy instead. (Both jacket’s above by Levi’s. Usually they run between $55 – $80 depending on sales and codes).
Q: Best watch brand before you get to the crazy luxury stuff?
After decades of saying I’d never wear a watch, I’ve found myself getting into them a bit over the past year. It’s also been a rough year in terms of my job, but a lot of hard work has paid off and I’m looking to reward myself. So, what’s the best watch in terms of value, if I’m looking to spend in the mid to high hundreds, maybe a thousand? – Chris
To most of us, that’s a TON of money to wear on one’s wrist. To the greater watch snob appreciating community, that can seem like a small sum. Strange, but true. Fortunately, you’ve got a few tried & true brands in that range. Tissot, Christopher Ward, Victorinox, and a few higher end Seikos all occupy that territory, but it’d be awfully hard to go wrong with Hamilton. Originally an American company, they’re now owned by the Swiss Swatch Group, and many of their watches use the same base movements found in much, much more expensive timepieces (after many tweaks and modifications). They’re durable, make enough different styles to please just about everyone’s tastes, and the attention to both stylistic and construction detail is outstanding for the cost.
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