casual

Marco? Polo!

stripeypoloI hope I’ve made a decent case for why you should wear a tie on vacation, but sometimes, a tie isn’t going to happen:

You just got home from a long day at work and can’t wait to get out of your office clothes. Tie = oppressive.

You’re going to a flea market to buy a semi-functional pinball machine. Tie = impractical.

You’re going to a swimming pool. Tie = out of place.

You’re going to a toddler’s birthday party. Tie = death by strangling.

You could throw on a t-shirt, but why do that if you can wear a great polo?


tennis

If you’d had to wear something this starchy and hot to do something athletic, you would’ve invented a garment, too.

Let’s start with things you didn’t know about polo shirts:

1. In the 20s, a famous tennis player was sick of the flannel pants and long sleeve shirts that composed “tennis whites.” He invented a garment out of pique cotton (waffley weave, for you non-french speakers).

His name? LaCoste. I’ll let you guess what animal his company stitched over the pocket.

2. The shirt, both lightweight and rugged, with a collar that could be flipped against the sun, caught the attention of Polo players. One South American polo club added an emblem of a rider on a horse. It was wildly popular.

Guess why we call it a polo shirt…? 

3. Golfers, in the 50s, got their own version with a pocket over the right shirt for scorecard and tees, often with a a placket extending lower on the shirt than the older tennis shirt/polo shirt.

This version was later made of lycra and other stretchy stuff.

toobigpolo

What not to do: seams need to fall on shoulders.

4. Ill fitting polo shirts have become industry standard uniform for retail and counter-clerks, a proliferation of baggy, flappy-sleeved polo-shirts have given this handsome garment a very bad racket. No pun intended.


Now, you’re a polo shirt maven, at least as far as history of the shirt is concerned. And if you look around, you’ll see that this shirt is everywhere, but generally, it’s worn poorly.

The white, blue and red accents will not make you look like Yankee Doodle. It will, however, lend your outfit a timeless, classic past-time look.

The white, blue and red accents will not make you look like Yankee Doodle. It will, however, lend your outfit a timeless, classic past-time look.

Let’s start with color

One of the things that makes a polo shirt (potentially) classy is that, well, it’s classy in the literal sense of the word. It hails from tennis and polo

2 pockets? Trim? Stitching? This poor shirt doesn't know who or what it is!

2 pockets? Trim? Stitching? This poor shirt doesn’t know who or what it is! Keep your polo simple!

and golf, games that, historically, were thought of as “gentlemen’s” games.

And, like many uniforms of olden days, the garments were white (with red and blue accents). 

For this reason, when you put on a polo shirt, you have the potential to tap into some of this stately, classy, gentlemanly business.

bill

Classic mod – sporty and badass.

Let’s continue with attitude

While the polo began as a sporty shirt, the mods of England adopted it, and wore them as they tore up London on the backs of Vespas. 

Today, if you pair your polo with some sweet shoes and a rock-and-roll scowl, you may merit to be the main-character in a coming-of-age movie with a classic sound track.

What not to do. In soooo many ways.

What not to do. In soooo many ways.

Let’s focus on fit

The fastest way to ruin a good polo look is with a shirt that billows around the belt-line and sleeves.

Get your Polo as slim fitting as you can without it being downright tight.

In fact, look for a label saying, “slim fit.” That’s a good place to start, even if you’re a normal sized guy.

polo

Unstructured jacket and white shoes #1

Let’s focus on the outfit

Pair your polo with an unstructured jacket and white shoes for a luxury-relaxed look.

Let’s find a good polo:

My favorite is the slim fit Fred Perry. If you buy it on e-bay, be sure to find one with a tag saying 36″ (slim fit), made in UK. The made in China variety has a much bigger collar and is baggier.

For a bargain, try the Original Penguin brand or a used Ben Sherman, but don’t get suckered in by fancy stripes and patterns.

You want a classic-classy casual shirt? A white polo is as

Then again, even my rules are made to be broken...

Then again, even my rules are made to be broken…

classy-classic casual as they come.

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Weekend Look #2 (or, Why You Should Wear a Blazer to the Airport): 30 Days of Writing. Episode 9/30

fullfhotThis is day 9 of a New Year’s Resolution.


Coming home from work, we take off the work clothes and we put on the comfy-clothes. Jeans. T-shirt. Sneakers. And for many, that’s what they wear (or some version of that) from Friday evening to Sunday night.

But many of us leave the comforts of the sofa and venture out into the world. We go out for brunch, we take walks, maybe if we live in the Bay Area, we take a little road trip and do a little wine tasting. Or maybe we need to catch an early flight  and while we’d like to look styley in row 23, we don’t want it to be at the expense of comfort.

“We” clearly need to find something that walks the line. Or the horizontal stripes, as the case may be.

On the one hand, you can do one of my favorite looks: the causal sweater and tie. Paired with dark denim, you’ll be sitting in coach, better dressed than anyone in first class.

closeupBut if you’re not in the mood for a sweater, try this one: pair some dark-patterned pants (slim fitting and properly tailored) with a polo shirt (again, slim fitting — stick to black, white, or navy). Add a pair of Chuck Taylors and the final touch, your Styley-Yet-Comfy Banner of Victory: the Knit Blazer.

Knit blazers are a hybrid a blazer/jacket and either a sweater or a (wait for it) sweatshirt. Yes, a blazer can be made of sweatshirt material. That’s like ice cream being made of Pizza. Too good to be true. But it is true. Roll the sleeves up for a “yes, there’s turbulence, but I’m nonchalant about it” look. Pop the collar for a “yes, I know I need to put my laptop in its own bin” look.

You’ll look so well put together, you might bag a complimentary ginger-ale. Or maybe the phone number of a jet-setting Food Blogger. And if nothing else, It’ll protect your elbows from the hairy arms of the guy in 23B.

Top 5 Styley-Casual Shoes for Men.

There’s what men think impresses women, and there’s what actually impresses women.

It’s worth paying attention to this; some things, men worry about unnecessarily. And other things, men forget to pay attention to.

In a recent interview with a very talented SF style-genius, there was a lot of good news for normal, non-superhot guys:

“Shoes. Shoes are very important. A guy can have a belly, he can be sort of so-so looking, but if he smells good and has great shoes, game on. We can totally make something work.”

So the good news is you don’t need mega-lottery genes. Just like the caveman dorks who defeated the alpha-males through using their higher brain functions, you can make a smart shoe choice that might earn you a genetic legacy.

The “bad news”: there are no “Whateva Whateva shoes.”

Shoes always count.


What do you wear when you want something comfortable. Casual. That won’t call attention to your feet. That you can wear with a t-shirt or with a blazer?

One of these five. I list them below with level-up options for extra flair. (For a deeper dive on how to avoid too much flair, click here.)

Before you feast your eyes, some food for thought: every casual shoe below looks pretty much the way it has since it first emerged – 40, 50, or 60 years ago. The update is in the material and the color. This means that the best outfits to wear with your new kicks follow the same rules.


1. Chuck Taylor All-Stars: white, black, or blue.

+1 Flair: leather or herringbone.

2. Clarks’ Original Desert Boots: Beeswax Leather

+1 Flair: blue canvas

3.  PF-Flyers

+1 Flair: PF-FLyers Ebbets Field from Brooklyn Circus

4. Adidas Originals Superstar 2

+1 Flair for sticking to all white. But if you gotta get your flair on, keep it simple and pick one. Red. Blue. Black.

5. Pro-Keds by J. Crew

Perfect as is.

Perfect as is.

+1 Flair: Keep it simple, keep it white.

6. Boat Shoes: brown or blue

+1 Flair: Really blue. Or blue linen.