Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Warby Parker: Part 2

This weekend I finally, FINALLY made it to the eye doctor to re-up my prescription so I could place my order with Warby Parker (you may remember my write-up on them here in April). 
While at the doctors, I perused their selection of glasses. I was already pretty much set on ordering through Warby Parker, but being the intelligent consumer I like to think I am, I checked out what my doctor was offering. First, it wasn’t much. The men’s section of glasses was abysmally small. I think I’ve seen more options on a turning rack at a gas station. Second, each pair was at least $150. 
Forget that. I’ll stick with paying $95 for a pair I actually like and want. I placed my order with Warby on a Friday, and opted to have them get my prescription from my eye doctor. One week later, my new glasses were in hand.

Oh, and not only did I get a new pair of glasses, but so did someone in need. And there’s my good deed for the month.
More news as it develops,

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Thanks to Those Who Serve

No menswear today. 

Memorial Day is always a special day for me. I’m a big history buff and a particular fan of anything World War II: the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” and the History Channel when it used to show history programming. But there’s also a personal touch to Memorial Day. My grandfather served as a US Army Airborne Ranger during the Korean War. He was recently inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia, for his service.
I’ve had a unique relationship with my grandfather in terms of his time in the military. To his wife and children, he was never completely open about his experience, but as a young kid I can remember him regaling me with tales of combat. Some were exciting tales, the kind every young boy uses as fuel for a future imaginary game of Army in the backyard. Others though, were emotionally wrenching stories of battles fought and friends, brothers in arms, lost along the way. I had never learned the true depth of my grandfather’s service until his induction and subsequent recitation of his meritorious decorations. He never showed anyone, told anyone, or asked for recognition.
Years later, a stranger contacted my grandfather in regards to his time in Korea. This man’s father had served with my grandfather, and gave his life in service to his country. It was a touching and emotional experience to see this man meet my grandfather, and for the two to connect over a fellow soldier; one, as a father, the other, a friend. 
With the constant distractions the world bombards us with each moment, it can be hard to remember what others have given so that we may enjoy the freedom and prosperity of this country. I know I've found myself wondering over America's true degree of “freedom," when it seems the rest of the world is nearly as democratic and free as we are. It’s easy to forget that what we have today was built on the sacrifice and determination of generations before us. Servicemen and women have always been ready, standing tall to the order to defend our freedom and the freedom of others around the world. Regardless of your political leanings on the justifications for various wars, the men and women who have served have always, and will always deserve our utmost thanks and respect. They’ve certainly earned it.
If you know someone who has served, be sure to always let them know your appreciation and admiration for all they’ve given and all they’ve given up. The kind words of a respectful stranger are just as much a boost to someone as the love and support of their family. Buy them a beer and shake their hand. It takes a special breed of person to stand up for what they believe in, and it takes an extra ounce of courage to risk life and limb. Lord knows they don’t do it for money, and it certainly wasn’t the idea of a free beer that enticed them into service. My grandfather has never asked for anything in recognition of his time in Korea, and neither do any other troops at home or abroad. Although they may not ask for anything more, and they may admonish the idea, they do deserve it. They deserve everything we can offer, because they’ve given everything they have.

Thanks for reading, and to our servicemen and women, thank you for all you have done. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Reader Question: What do you sleep in?

For Christmas years ago, I asked my parents for a set of silk pajamas. You know, the classy kind of pajamas you see James Stewart wearing in "Rear Window." Collared shirt with a button opening, paired with matching trousers. It was pretty boss of me, considering my sleepwear before that consisted of Santa boxers and an oversized t-shirt. 
Swag on full

Problem is, I’m a hot guy. Physically yes, women tell me that all the time, but also I’m hot, like warm, especially when I sleep. I love, no need, a cool pillow, a fan on my face, and a temperature setting not a degree above 73. And as luck may have it, while those silk pajamas were certainly cool to rock before bed, and the morning after, they were hot as hell to sleep in. 

Ever since, my sleepwear has ranged from completely nothing (which is okay. Comfy, but people tend to think it’s weird, especially people you’re in a relationship with. I don’t know why), to flannel pjs, with everything in-between. Without getting too personal, right not it’s old soccer apparel from high school. 

My question is, what are guys wearing as pajamas?


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NATO Straps for Summer

It’s my birthday this week. And before you get all, Congratulations!-y, let me stop you right there and say, I’m not a big fan of birthdays. Part of it is because I have the soul of a 90-year-old curmudgeon. But the main reason is because for some reason, birthdays give people a sense of entitlement that supposedly justifies them being drunken, annoying brats all day. I don’t care if your mom pooped you out 25 years ago (that’s how it works, right?), you’re being a complete jackass right NOW and your mother would be embarrassed to see you. 
That being said, I can’t find a good reason to deny myself some simple pleasure in order to modestly celebrate my own birthday. I went a little crazy this year and bought myself a new NATO strap for my watch.

I don’t think I can sing enough praises for why you should invest in these. #1 they add flexibility to your watch, because #2 they’re easy to install and swap out, and #3 they’re cheap. It’s no problem to grab a couple in different colors/styles and switch them out depending on your outfit/mood/daily de rigueur (Yeah I speak a little French).
For my first go-around, I went with an olive band, which I found for $13 on Amazon. I chose olive because it’s a neutral color that can go with most anything, and I thought it’d be a cool nod to the NATO strap’s military origins. For details on how to install, check out this site here (which is picture heavy), or the one from my Facebook page (which has more detailed instructions). Just find one in the same millimeter width as your watch (which you can find online if you look up your watch from a retailer and check the tech specs) and take care when removing the spring pins. Other than that, it’s not hard at all. 

One thing to consider, which I learned the hard way: Not all straps are designed the same. Notice the difference in these two nylon straps.

The one on the left has a lot more fabric between the watch bezel and the clasp, while the olive one has barely any. This affects how the watch sits on your wrist. I didn’t take notice of this when I bought the olive strap, and I personally prefer to have more fabric between the bezel and clasp, because the whole thing feels more like a normal band. 

The clasp on the olive strap sits on the side of my wrist, which is an odd feel if you’re used to that being under your wrist. However, it does make for a more rugged, military-inspired look (good thing I went with olive huh?). In any case, make sure to look at the thing before you actually pull the trigger so you know what you’re getting. Though at $13 a piece, you can afford more than one. 

More news as it develops,


PS- find your new strap to be too long? Check out this video on how to shorten it.

PSS- also consider the size (i.e. length) of the strap. Nearly one month in and I've found my strap has stretched a bit, enough so that I've had to go down (or is it up?) holes in the strap. What I mean is I'm having to wear the strap tighter so the watch won't slide on my wrist, but I'm now on the last hole. Maybe it's because I have baby wrists, but just something to take into account when buying and sizing.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guest Blog on Weekly Hustle

You all know I love the occasional bit of guest bloggery. Today’s post details the essentials of nailing an interview, from a stylistic point of view. The last thing you want to be worrying about when walking into an interview is your clothing. 

My post is featured here on Weekly Hustle, a business-oriented blog for aspiring entrepreneurs. Its creator and author is a fellow blogger who, like me, appreciates the value of earnest hard work. Be sure to check out the link to my guest post below, and peruse his site if you’re interested in starting your own business or trying to make a career out of blogging. He’s got tons of helpful insights and articles that I’ve used to help expand my blog and readership. Read on and enjoy!

Okay, so you’ve got an interview (which in this economy, is a battle in and of itself). The last thing you want to be worrying about as you step into that office is your clothing choice. A great way to stand out, look good, and boost your own confidence in a job interview is to be well-dressed. What follows are some tips to consider as you prepare for the big day.
A big part about style is recognizing the setting you’ll be in... READ MORE
Thanks for reading,


Friday, May 18, 2012

What Not to Wear vol.6

Gentlemen. It’s a mantra I’ve oft repeated in a variety of forms. How you dress sends a message about who you are and the values you represent. 
When you wear a suit, you give off an air of, “I’m here to do business,” even if you’re not. Right now I’m wearing a swimsuit, styled from the mid-60s, a Hawaiian, Tommy Bahama shirt, and white Chuck Taylors. The message I’m sending is something like, “I’m here to party,” or “Weekend at Bernie’s.” But I’m also drinking a rum drink out of a coconut and about to actually go to a party, so I’m kind of spot-on.
You don’t always have to dress up, because there’s a way to dress down the middle, looking put together without overly stuffy. Even I threw on shorts and a madras button down before running to buy the rum & coconut.
Yes, I saw someone wearing these.

I don’t know why Crocs were invented. I don’t really care frankly, because I can’t see any justification for wearing these shoes, let alone owning them. When I see a grown man wearing Crocs, I start to wonder about him. What was he thinking in buying these, and more importantly, what does that say about other life decisions he’s making? No one will take you seriously if you’re in Crocs. Even camo ones. 

Stay classy,


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bombfell- Clothing Concierge

Today's post is a guest entry from my friend Blake Vanderbilt. You may remember his gentlemanly post here. Today though, he's offered his take on, a personalized online shopping service that offers, well, someone to shop for you. Read on friends:

This afternoon I was thrilled to find a package on my door. About two weeks ago I had gone onto and signed up for their service. Advertised as “Girlfriend-approved clothes for the lazy man,” Bombfell is a monthly clothing concierge service for your wardrobe.
It seemed like a cool concept, and as much as I prefer choosing my own clothing, I’m also rather lazy and usually very busy. 
It’s a simple process to start off, once you log in to the website, you tell them about yourself, your basic measurements, what kinds of clothes you like wearing and what brands/sizes fit you well (If you want, they can even send you a free fiberglass tape measure in your first order to really nail down your measurements). Using nifty little sliders, you select the type and amount of items you wish to receive to per month. To start, I went with three. 

My first package arrived in an economical, soft, flexible pouch with a wonderful little bomb logo that I’m sure explained why it appeared to have been opened by the shipping company and taped back together. I opened it and wrapped inside were the clothes the Bombfell stylists had selected for me.

Included was a description of each piece of clothing, and recommendations on how I could wear it. In addition the stylist that had selected each piece told me why they had chosen it specifically for me.
The customer service aspect of Bombfell is amazing. They have a live chat feature on their website that is almost always staffed (I went on at 12:30 AM randomly and had a great chat with someone).
In the end, I decided not to keep all they had chosen for me, but with each response you can give feedback on why you did or didn’t like it. Over time this helps them get a sense of your style, fit, and other aspects that you’d normally consider if you were the one doing the shopping. 
Overall Bombfell is WELL worth the money. There is no obligation to buy any of the products they send you, plus shipping is free and the clothes are quality. If, like me you like the idea of new clothes but don’t have the time to get them yourself, you should try it. You have nothing to lose but plenty to gain.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spot Prevention on Shirt Stains

It happens to all of us. You’re at a bar, a party, an Olive Garden for all-you-can-eat breadsticks, when the inevitable happens. You spill on yourself. To help protect your clothes and avoid looking like a complete schlub, here’s a quick rundown on what to do:

I know the feeling
-Scrape off the big stuff- dropped a load of salsa on your crotch? Get rid of the gunk on top of your clothes so you can tackle the stain at the fibers.

-Blot, don’t rub. Rubbing forces in the stains; blotting soaks them up. 

-Soak- I’ve find the easiest way to clean a stain is to overload the spot, in either water or preferably club soda if you have it, to dilute the stain up and out of your clothes. Sometimes this is all you need. This can get messy so beware of trying it in the restaurant sink, but it’s worth it if you can suffer through a big wet mark. Use hot on whites, cold on colors. 

-Tough stains generally require soap. Dawn (or other dish soap) is good to get out grease-based stains (because it breaks down grease, just like in the sink), so use a bit and try rubbing out the spot (yes, now rubbing is okay to get the soap, dirt, and water to mix). Tide or other laundry detergent can be used for spot treatments too. Plus most of those companies make pens/wet-naps for just this type of occasion (which are great to have on hand). 

Tide To-Go Pen- $3 at Walgreens or nearly anywhere else
Shout wipes- $4 at Walgreens or nearly anywhere else

Silk & Clean- $12, available at many stores

-Soak again, liberally. (It’s just like a wash cycle).

-Blot dry again.
The process takes practice to truly perfect and pull off unnoticeably (I’ve spilled on myself a lot), but hopefully this saves you in a pinch until you can launder properly. At worst you’ll remove the stain and be stuck with a wet mark, and you can just tell people you peed on yourself. Or there were no towels in the bathroom, whichever is more believable. 
More news as it develops, (and don't forget about the iTunes giveaway!),

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

FREE iTunes Gift Card Giveaway

Okay, so here’s the deal. As most of you know, I’m fairly new to the blog game, and I’m constantly doing whatever I can to grow and spread the word. 
Last week, I got a $20 coupon in the mail from Sunglass Hut. I gave it away to one lucky and loyal reader, in return for helping to spread the word about my work. It was quick, it was easy, and yes, I actually did give away something for free. No bullshit. No gimmicks. I even drove it to the person, because I am that nice. (Not really, it just happened to be sort of on the way to where I was going.)

Yes, I misspelled Sunglass Hut. But....
I did actually have a coupon, see? 
So guess what kiddos? I’m doing the same this week. Summer is starting, people are graduating. Wouldn’t it be nice to start it all off by winning something fo’ free from your favorite online blogger? The answer is yes. I’m giving away a $15 iTunes gift card to one lucky person. I can snail-mail, email, tweet, connect via MySpace or Xanga, or even AIM you (I still actively use all of these things). 

ALL I’m asking in return is that you help spread the word about me. Send me a generous tweet. Tell your friends about me on Facebook. Invite me out on a date and offer to pay. Just send a screenshot my way ( and I’ll put your name in the pot. I’ll choose a winner this Saturday and that person will have instant access to $15 worth of iTunes money (Or I guess you could just turn around and sell it, if you want me to mail it to you. I don’t really care what you do with it. IT’S YOURS, YOU LUCKY DOG.)
Thanks for reading, and thanks for participating,
More news as it develops,
PS- I’m asking for at least 50 participants before I actually pick someone. So tell your friends, because the shuttle won’t launch until we hit capacity.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Welcome to Graduation

Good Morning Kickdrums Remix, by Kanye West (ft. Big Sean)

Good morning. Summer is here. And to anyone graduating this year, congrats! Welcome to the real world! It’s a ton of fun. (Just kidding. If you have time, try to fail some classes and stay in college as long as you can.)
For many, it’s finals week. And, for many, that also means a frumpy wardrobe, highlighted by athletic shorts, sweatpants, and raggity t-shirts you might have gotten for playing soccer in high school six years ago. 

These are appropriate if you're at home and you live alone, although they probably won't help that situation.
However, it doesn’t have to be so. One of the most important reasons you can start dressing well is to be taken seriously and to make a good impression on people. If you’re dressed well, not only will you be more confident, but others will notice too, fueling the fire of confidence and inspiration. You know why I wear a suit to an interview? It’s not for the job, because I don’t need it. It’s so I can ask out the secretary. Wouldn’t it be great to walk into your biggest final dressed to impress, knowing that not only you look damn good, but also that every cute girl is thinking the same thing? That test won’t stand a chance. 
If you look good for the test, the test will look good for you (although, you can use this phrase and swap out the word “test” for almost any occasion). Here are some put-together looks that’ll keep you comfortable during the exam, without saying, “I was up all night studying.” Because even if you were, you don’t want people to know that. 

Indian Cotton Short Sleeve Shirt in Bryn Plaid, J.Crew, Cotton Short by Banana Republic 
Just bought this shirt, lightweight, nice colorway. I like it, so if you live near me, don't buy it. Otherwise I'd recommend.

Irish Linen Gingham Shirt by J.Crew, Red Chambray Club Short by J.Crew 

Pinpoint Shirt Lightweight Shirt by J.Crew, Lightweight Chino Club Short by J.Crew

More news as it develops, 


PS- the clothes here are lightweight and breathable, perfect for a hot and humid summer. Next week I'll post a short discussion of fabrics and weaves that are ideal for summer, because nothing says Midwest like 90 degrees & humid.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Investing in Clothing: A Finale

As a second to Wednesday’s post, where I emphasized that buying smart meant buying quality products, I also want to point out that buying smart means taking value into consideration. There is no point in investing in a high-quality, expensive piece if it’s just going to get beat up. You wouldn’t buy a Rolls Royce to use on a cattle ranch, would you? You have to be practical, and consider what you’re going to use the piece for. Is it for work everyday, or something you’ll only need now and then? 
For example, I currently own a pair of Cole Haan dress shoes (brown, of course). They're a mid-range quality shoe, and that’s reflected in the price (I think I paid around $150). However, they’re by no means ugly, and they’re perfectly suitable for my current use. 

Here they are, as seen in this post.
As it stands, I’m only wearing these shoes maybe 12 times a year, so they’re getting considerably less wear and tear than normal. Typically you can find me in a pair of sneakers or suede bucks, which fit my personal style much better. Add to that the fact that I’m a poor, desperate grad student who can’t afford Aldens right now, and (I think I can say) the Cole Haans were a smart buy. Decent quality for the amount paid, and they’ll last me as long as I need them (until I need/can afford something else). Plus, shoes like these can generally be found on sale or deep discount. That’s buying smart. 
So, in an ultimate response to my disgruntled reader, yes buying a >$1,000 watch can be silly. It makes no sense to spend so much on a watch if you: A. Can’t afford it, or B. Are in a situation where it makes no sense to own (like say, you’re an Army Ranger. Or a sewer inspector, if that’s a real job). However, it can be a practical purchase, not only in an investment sense (which I described Wednesday), but also if you’re trying to upgrade your style and get noticed (Style Girlfriend listed 15 reasons why this is a good idea, if you needed convincing). Or hell, maybe you’re like Jay and I, and you just like watches. 

So many watches, he needs eight arms. I'd need two, maybe.
Hope this helps too, and thanks for reading it all,

PS-don't forget there are certainly times when you should be buying cheap stuff, as poignantly pointed out here. If you spend over $15 on a t-shirt, you're a dick.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Investing in Clothing: An Introduction

Last week, I posted on Midwest-Dressed’s Facebook page a guide to buying a watch. One disgruntled reader, who shall remain nameless, questioned the logic of buying a $1,000 or more watch. I’m here to set the record straight on why smart, (and sometimes) expensive investments in clothes are a good move.
(This is all predicated on the idea that you’re buying smart, i.e. the company has a reputation for quality and you're finding good deals. Money doesn’t necessarily equal quality, and it’s still important to research a bit and go with trusted companies.)
Clothes are ultimately an investment. Not an investment in the traditional sense, like stocks or commodities where you (hope to) see a profit. Clothes are more aptly described as a “sunk cost,” based on my limited knowledge of business vernacular. You aren’t going to run around naked all day. And since you’re going to have to wear something, you might as well make sure what you’re buying is worth it.
A quick example to describe what I mean: Most people have trouble grasping the idea of paying >$400 for a pair of dress shoes, frankly because it’s $400 for a pair of dress shoes. The idea seems ludicrous because, similar looking shoes can be had for $100, or half-as-good-looking shoes can be had for $50. Why pay $400 for a pair of shoes when you can get the same thing for $100? Aren’t you just paying for the label?

Stacy Adams Nolan Wing Tips- $80, likely "plastic leather"
Alden Wing Tip Blucher- $478, shell cordovan

Truth is, yes, in part. You’re also paying a higher price for higher quality material (which costs more) and better construction (which costs more time, higher skilled laborers with larger salaries, etc.) But shelling out the extra dough for the higher quality is a better investment in the long run, because you’re seeing returns in the amount you’ll be saving. Allow me to demonstrate:
Let’s assume you’re in a formal setting, where dress shoes are required everyday. If you’re wearing them everyday (which you shouldn’t be, but this is a hypothetical. Bear with me dammit), they’re taking a beating from constant exposure to sweat, the elements, etc. For the sake of argument, let’s say this $100 pair gets you through one year. Then, when the old pair shoots craps, you’ll be buying another, again for $100. In four years, you’ve spent $400 on shoes; six years is $600; eight years is $800, you get the picture.
Now let’s assume you saved up and threw it all down on the $400 pair (Nice move!). These shoes should last ten years and up. Even if you have to have them resoled every once in awhile (which isn’t expensive), you’ve still ultimately saved quite a bit over the long haul. 

Despite the low initial cost, you'll end up spending as much or more (I'm not a math guy).
Watches are a tad different. In fact, they can be considered more like a commodity, because their value is a little more stable. Watches (again, good, quality watches), are machinery. If finely built and properly maintained, they can last a lifetime, just like the shoes described above. And while clothes ultimately lose value over time (in part because they can go out of style, but also because they can get grody/start falling apart after years of use), watches retain their value based on the fact that, after 50-60-maybe even 100 years, they can still work and look great. Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self:
When I “graduated” the 8th grade, my grandmother gave me a Fossil watch (if you’re reading this grandma, again, thank you!). It was great, cool looking, sexy, sleek, stylish, all that. Problem was, within a few months, the crystal had cracked and time markers had fallen off, preventing the hands from moving and you know, actually telling time. A watch of similar style retails here for $85, but it was essentially valueless within a year.

Fossil Decker Stainless Steel Watch, available at Fossil
In comparison, check out this vintage Rolex, circa the late 60s. It retails for $4,900, and that’s after 40 years. Forty years of wear and tear, but the thing’s still ticking, still looks damn good, and still costs what you’d expect a Rolex to cost. Like with the shoes above, this price reflects not only the quality of construction (demonstrated by the fact that it’s still wearable today), but also the materials used (18k yellow gold, the price of which has doubled since 2008). 

Rolex 18k Yellow Gold Oyster Perpetual Datejust, available at Park & Bond
You really are paying for quality, and in the case of a good watch, it can retain its value for years down the road (or even go up, if it’s made of precious metals). In a sense, it’s similar to investing in artwork or other things the wealthy use to diversify their portfolios. You’re not so much buying a watch as you are investing in a commodity. You can buy a new $100 watch every time the old one breaks, or you can throw down five large for a Rolex and rock a Rolex with playa swagger for decades, thereby saving you the cost of having to ever buy another. Plus, if you’re down on your luck, you can turn around and sell it. 

Hope this helps,