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Q: Boots & suits… what looks right and what doesn’t?
Does the Mercanti Fiorentini Vintage Wingtip boot go well with a suit? For some reason, I prefer boots to shoes when it comes to suits and work wear. I also like slim/tapered suiting, but am not a fan of tons of sock showing. Really looking for something around $150 that will go great with Navy and grey suits. – Andy
Probably not. That pair of Mercs (top) is really a less-fortunate-man’s version of the pricey Allen Edmonds Dalton. And aside from a nubby tweed number, the Dalton can be tough to wear with suits. They’re certainly not work-boot bulky, but they’re still hefty. For suit-worthy boots, look for something lower profile. Also, skip the wingtip blucher-styles. Wingtip blucher shoes, despite what most American men think, a pretty casual looking next to a suit. Make that style in a boot and they get even more casual. Try to pick up a pair of the oxford-style laced Allen Edmonds 5th Street (bottom) during the next Shoebank sale. Or, stick with sleek non-wingtipped bluchers like the J&M Tyndall cap toe chukka. Those’ll go on sale at some point.
Q. Levi’s 508 Alternatives
What’s a good alternative to Levi’s 508’s? It looks like they’re no longer making them, and I need slim jeans with room for my bigger thighs. – JB
Uh oh. That’s gonna make a few fellas unhappy. Might want to stock up while you still can? Levi’s just sent out an email yesterday that said “If you like the 511 Slim, or the 508 Taper, the new 522 slim Taper combines the best of both.” Yeah but, the 511 is quite slim. Most guys picked the 508 for upper leg room. So now they’re slimming that down? They ARE offering free returns though, so if you want to give those a shot, now’s the time. But if they’re combining those two fits, expect them to be tighter. Otherwise, try GAP’s new “Standard Taper” fit (above). They fit like a Levi’s 505, but with a more sculpted leg. So, basically, they fit like a 508.
Q: Out-dressing the boss in a dressed down workplace…
I just recently switched jobs, and have gone from wearing a full suit daily, to now working in a place where the CFO of the company wears dad jeans + a baggy polo every day. And that’s the standard company wide. I’m still in my more dressed up mode and have been wearing tailored trousers, dress shirts and blazers. Everyone always asks me why I’m so dressed up. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to show up my co-workers, but I’m most comfortable this way. Should I continue doing what I’m doing, or should I cave and switch to what appears to be the defacto company uniform? – Charles
Why not a little of both? Start wearing well-fitting jeans, and pair them with casual unstructured blazers (like the JCF Thompson seen above). If that still seems too stuffy, stop shaving. Keep the beard trim, but embrace some scruff. Or wear a polo underneath your blazers (like UNIQLO’s terrific button down collar options). Dressing well is a tool. It can help you get what you want… not just in terms of your own self-confidence, but also by making others confident in you. But dressing “up” does not always = dressing “well”. If dressing up is producing resentment/jealousy at your workplace, and you like your gig, it’s probably best to tone it down on the job. Is it fair? Nope. But… when in Rome. Especially if Caesar is cutting your check.
Q: Flannel Trousers that won’t drain my savings…
I’m looking to get some versatile flannel trousers for my fall and winter wardrobe. I am thinking something in a medium grey. Do you know any budget friendly versions? Or am I looking at dropping around $200 ish to get a pair that isn’t an old-man-style fit? – Zach
Try Charles Trywhitt and Lands’ End. Those are two places to look when you’re trying to find classic menswear staples that won’t break the bank. The fits might not be super-crazy slim, but with codes & sales, you can usually get something in a straight if not decently slim fit, and then have them brought in more by a tailor if you so chose. Final cost should still be pretty reasonable. These from CT are a little pricey, but they’re English wool, and the reviews seem to back up the true slim fit claim. These from Lands’ End were just $75 with a 25% off code (which expired yesterday, but there’s always another train comin’). They are 30% poly though. Also, keep an eye on the J. Crew sale section for flannel suit pants. You might have to wait a bit, but their seasonal fabric suits always seem to end up on sale, and you can grab a pair of the trousers.
Q: Thoughts on Blazer/Quilted Outerwear hybrids?
What’s with all the blazer/quilted outerwear combinations that are popping up? I’m not sure if I like them, or just find them strange. I saw this in my inbox this morning and was wondering if you had any thoughts on it? – Charles
There once was a time when a tweed sportjacket was used as outerwear. Now that the tweed sportcoat has made it’s way in from the cold, these technical-looking, more modern options (like this one from Massimo Dutti) seem to be filling a small void. Only instead of hammering through the woods on a fox hunt, someone wearing one of these quilted numbers might just be out on a hike, or, taking the subway. Thing is, they are outerwear. So, like other coats & jackets, they come off when you go indoors. Also, wearing one on top of an actual blazer seems a little… odd. So use these like you would any other casual jacket (like a Harrington or a field jacket) and use a trench or topcoat when wearing a blazer or suit.
Q: Lapel Pin Storage?
Where would you suggest one could safely store his lapel pins? – via Twitter
Safely? Hm. Don’t have a bunch of lapel pins, but cuff links are approximately the same size, and those do just fine in the empty slots (with the pillows removed) of a watch box.
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