If you’ve got a style tip, question, or anything else you’d like to pass along, you can send those in to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d rather your question not be featured in a future mailbag, just go ahead and say so in your email. Want more than one average Joe’s (HA!) opinion? Check out our forum, Threads.
Q: Most versatile piece of spring outerwear?
Since it is now spring, many of us face a fairly wide array of temperatures and weather (speaking as an Englishman in Texas, it seems fairly volatile!), and I’m wondering what makes for a good, versatile, spring (and fall) piece of outerwear? I know topcoats get a good amount of play on the site but most are made for the colder temperatures of winter.
I know there’s a million options when it comes to shorter jackets (bombers, harringtons, truckers, quilted jackets, etc…) but if you really want a super versatile, do anything piece of outerwear for Spring and Fall? Get a mac. It’s the lighter weight cousin of the topcoat. More subtle than a classic trench (it with all its buttons, epaulets, and belt) and still easy to wear dressed way up or dressed way down. Plus, it’ll cover your suit jacket/sportcoat tail. And that’s not something a Harrington will do. So start first with a cotton, cotton blend, or lightweight wool mac. And then supplement with shorter stuff if you so choose. (Shown above is the sadly sold out BR Wool mac. But Suitsupply sells something similar, albeit spendy. Then there’s the JCF cotton/nylon option, or, Old Navy carries one too.)
Q: Graduating from a backpack. What should I look for in a work bag?
I’m attempting to shift away from the very-functional backpack to take to work and try to move toward a messenger bag or something. But… what should I be looking for? Any ideas?
I’d steer clear of a pure messenger since those can be seen as a little less than professional, depending on the work environment. Also, they can be a pain to carry around since without any top/grab handles, you’re stuck having to sling it over your head or shoulder every time you pick it up. Look for something that can be carried like a briefcase OR a messenger. One specific suggestion? Try the Filson original brief that’s currently 20% off at Need Supply Co. with the code FAMANDFREN. They’re tough to get on sale, made in the USA, and built to last. Also, keep an eye on Gustin’s website and hope that they bring back their terrific, made in the USA leather briefcases. UPDATE: Nice timing from Gustin. Looks like they’ve re-introduced their briefcase? This time at a $249 price point though. That’s a bit of a jump. Still, not bad for all leather and Made in the USA. Big thanks to Andy M. for the style tip!
Q: I need a new navy blazer. Should I stick with the Legacy?
My J. Crew navy Ludlow blazer may be on its last hurrah. In the event I need to get a new investment wool blazer, do you think that J. Crew’s legacy blazers are still the way to go? The recently reviewed Spier & Mackay? Save up for a Brooks Brothers option? The new Lands’ End half-canvas blazer? Which would you pick?
– John C.
As much as I like the new Brooks Brothers BrooksCool Regent fit, if you’re a Ludlow body type? You should skip the Regent. It fits more like a Crosby. so that leaves you with either the Ludlow Legacy in “American” wool, the Spier & Mackay in their trim fit (not the contemporary, that’ll still be too big on your frame), or the new Lands’ End Italian wool. I’m not too thrilled about the full lining in the LE option. So, if it were me, I think it would come down to the pockets style. You want patch pockets on the lower half? If so, then go with Spier. If you prefer regular flap pockets? Go with J. Crew. And cross your fingers for a sale. Those things rarely go on sale.
Q: How do I wear/style a denim shirt?
I’ve noticed some ads online as of late for the “perfect denim shirt.” I’m intrigued, but I just don’t know what pants to wear with them. Not jeans — I’m not into the 70’s aesthetic, so the head to toe denim look doesn’t work for me. Yet my wife says that a denim shirt with khakis would make me look like a Best Buy employee. What are your thoughts on how to wear a denim shirt?
I think it’s possible to wear a denim or chambray shirt with jeans, it’s just a matter of contrast and layering. Wearing the shirt under a sweater or a sportcoat really cuts down on the Canadian tux look. And remember to have some contrast between your torso and legs. Also, make sure your shirt is on the lighter weight side. A heavy denim classic-work-style shirt can get uncomfortable, quick. As far as wearing it with khakis? I actually think a denim or chambray shirt looks great with a chino suit and dark knit tie. More denim shirt wearing tips can be found here.
Q. Are J. Crew Factory Thompson Suits now half canvas?
I was on the J Crew Factory site today, and came across this interesting statement about their Thompson Worsted Suits: “a sewn in canvas chest piece allows for better drape.” I don’t know if that’s a recent change but would seem to be a significant update, if true especially with the recent $199 sale. Have you heard anything about this?
Hm. That’s confusing. So, I reached out to our contact at JCF, who in turn spoke to their design team. Here’s what that person had to say:
“JCF’s suits and classic jackets have always had a high-quality chest piece. We have recently introduced a lighter, more modern chest piece and sleeve head developed for the Voyager suit (and use it for any style that would benefit from this lighter and more breathable construction). They are also fused like the vast majority of designer and better suiting: “fused” and “half/full canvas” (with no fusing) are opposite ends of the quality/price spectrum with the vast middle ground being largely misunderstood. Furthermore, the ‘make’ has improved over the years with factories who provide Retail-level quality and execution! And there’s more: our sleeve heads are also very high quality unlike competitors who might only use a cotton or foam strip to fill out the sleeve cap.”
Bottom line: I don’t think they’re a true-half canvas suit. Even fused suits have a chest piece. Yet that doesn’t mean they’re a true half-canvas like more expensive/substantial feeling suits. There’s also a middle ground in terms of suit construction, and J. Crew Factory’s Thompson suits really do feel, fit, and wear better than other suits in the $200ish price range.
Q. Milestone watch. Under $400. Keep it simple.
I just completed a major milestone for school and would like to celebrate it by getting another watch. I already have the Orient Ray II. Currently, I’m leaning towards either the Hamilton Khaki King or the Seiko Sarb033. I want something as versatile as possible (can be worn with jeans to a suit). For that reason, the Sarb seems like the better option. Any thoughts?
“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” You’ve already got a workhorse watch in the Orient Ray (which can be worn with a suit by the way). So, consider something that’s more of a “Treat.” The Khaki King is a brilliant watch, but it’s too casual to wear with a suit. The Seiko? It’s pretty much a baby Rolex Oyster Perpetual. It’s dead simple though. And honestly, the Orient Ray can fill in where the Seiko would play 99% of the time. Gonna go off board here. Many will disagree, but I’m saying the Orient Polaris GMT is worth considering. It’s a watch that’s around the same price as the “Sarb,” but frankly, it’s a work of art. It’s the kind of watch that even Rolex wearers would see (for whatever this is worth) and stop in their tracks. And, as someone who hates surprises? The power reserve indicator is terrific. Let’s you know what’s up with the mainspring at a glance. Might feel a little dressy to wear with jeans at first, but it really is more versatile than many would think. Most importantly, congrats on the achievement.
Q: Navy wool blazer with jeans? Really?
That Spier & Mackay blazer looks nice, a little too dark to pair w/dark jeans. Looks like an improvised suit. I kinda like contrasting buttons on a blazer.
-Erik P. via Twitter.
No one is trying to improvise a suit here. If you’re trying to “improvise” a suit with denim, then you’re not good at improvising. The inverse of MacGyver. But, you do you. And in turn? I reserve the right to wear jeans while posing for absurd pictures in public.
This article is a great example of how far this blog has fallen since 2009.
-Wes C. via Facebook.
Well let’s run the numbers. We launched in July of 2009. Let’s assume that Wes is implying that we were consistently on the rise during the latter half of 2009. And then, let’s assume, by his measure, we’ve been on a steady decline since. So that means, on average, (counts on fingers, tallies up total months, divides by number of months we existed in 2009, his barometer of success) we’ve been in decline for approximately 93.5% of our existence. Yet we’re still kicking! That’s amazing! The only reasonable conclusion one can draw from reconciling those two facts is that we’re invincible. We’re goddamned Highlanders. See you all at the quickening.
Got a question, suggestion, or a style tip? Send them to email@example.com.