tie

New Years Resolution: Episode 3/30: Where Not to Cut Corners

We, like Tony Hawk, shall do a 180.

We, like Tony Hawk, shall do a 180.

This is day 3 of a New Years Resolution.


Recently, I wrote about aspects of Style where cutting corners is not only advisable, it’s downright admirable.

Now, we’re going to do a 180 like the dude in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

Where not to cut corners.

My first pair of non-cheap footwear. Purchased nearly five years ago. Cost more than all the shoes I owned at the time, combined. Guess which pair I still wear and cherish, today?

My first pair of non-cheap footwear. Purchased nearly five years ago. Cost more than all the shoes I owned at the time, combined.
Guess which pair I still wear and cherish, today?

1. Grown-ass Shoes

I completely understand that you’re not accustomed to spending $100 on anything style-related. You’re used to getting away with something from Target or Old Navy. You have bills. Priorities. You’re a family man. You’re playing of zillions of dollars in college-debt. You’re putting away all your pocket money so you can knock down a giant retirement-domino like the guy in that Prudential ad.

That said, the time has come to dig deep. Dig deep into the pockets and buy a pair of grown-ass man shoes. They will not cost you $75. They will not cost you $100. They will be probably around $200. Put your eyeballs back into your skull, and go see if you have $200 in your rainy-day fund. And I bet you anything, your loan-officer / girlfriend / wife / Prudential domino-dude will not scowl when you say: I’m splurging on a proper pair of shoes.

They will say: you’re a grown-ass man. Walk like a grown-ass man.

Wear a pair of grown-ass shoes.


Allen Edmonds' "McTavish" shoe. A heritage of kick-assery.

Allen Edmonds’ “McTavish” shoe. A heritage of kick-assery.

Here are five brands that will treat you right. 

1. Allen Edmonds. Made in America. You will leave them to your progeny.

2. Cole Haan. Dressy shoes with the sole/soul of a running shoe. My Style-Up clients try them on and sprint out the door. I have to run after them to remind them to pay. It’s all very awkward.

3. Timberland Boot Company. Different than Timberlands. Don’t confuse them. So damn comfortable. And sorta badass.

4. Red-Wings. Unquestionably cool. Pair them with jeans or a suit.

5. Johnston and Murphy. Styley. A little bit dandy in a very cool way.

Lastly: how to cut corners with shoes? Get a good brand on sale.


I mean, if you want to cut corners on your haircut, be my guest.

I mean, if you want to cut corners on your haircut, be my guest.

2. Proper Haircut

Many men talk about how little they spend on their hair-cuts as if that’s admirable. It’s not. Sometimes in life, you get what you pay for: fresh produce vs. frozen. Fresh herbs vs. dried. Fresh haircut vs. Supercuts.

It’s your head. It should look good.

Some men say: “My hair is thinning. No point in an expensive cut.”

No. Wrong. A good cut by a talented stylist will make whatever hair you have (or don’t have) look better.

How to find a good stylist?

  • 1. Ask some dude at work with good hair where he gets it cut.
  • 2. Check Yelp.
  • 3. You know that small salon (or hip barbershop?) around the corner from where you work, where the cuts are $60? Try it. Just TRY it. You will feel amazing.

"Small-batch" ties like those made by The Hill-side are much more expensive than department store ties. And guess why? They're made of excellent fabric, and excellent die, and they're gorgeous.

“Small-batch” ties like those made by The Hill-side are much more expensive than department store ties. And guess why? They’re made of excellent fabric, and excellent die, and they’re gorgeous.

3. Non-department store ties

You already know that I’m a Tie-vangelist, and that I think that dudes should wear ties way more often.

The thing is, while you can cut corners with ties, in terms of not spending tons of money on them, you cannot walk into:

and expect to find a non-expensive, styley tie. Most of what you find will be those shiny, silk things which you will have no use for — except to wear to your job at a bank. But you don’t work at a bank, and you don’t want to drop a lot of money.

Here’s the thing: though my previous post declared that you can cut corners with a great $20 tie, you have to go out of your way to get it. To find it. To pick it out. Sure, you can order one of the ties I suggest in my previous post, but let me put it this way – you cannot run out and buy whatever ties you find. You need to pick one. Thoughtfully. Invest the time and energy.

Here are some great places to browse for non-banker ties:

ebay: lots of options. Lots of digging needed.

The Hillside: a little more expensive. Worth it.

The Knottery: gourmet. Delicious.

Dandy’s: a small store in Austin, Texas, with a vintage look. Everything they have is gorgeous. Even a fabulous tie is very affordable.

This suit is about double the cost of a mass-produced suit. And it's triple the quality, and looks a million times better.

This suit is about double the cost of a mass-produced suit. And it’s triple the quality, and looks a million times better.

4. Suit

If you don’t want to spend the money required to buy a decent suit, don’t wear a suit.

Ooh, jeez. That sounds so harsh. Let me back up.

You can get a cheap suit (even two for one) at Mens’ Wearhouse, but it will look like you got two suits for the price of one.

Instead, do one of three things:

  • Conclude that you can get through life with a great blazer and dressy pants. Don’t get a suit.
  • Decide that you need a suit, and bite the bullet. Get something nice. Look amazing.
  • Do the in-between. Go to a discount place that carries last year’s overstock like Nordstrom Rack. Have it tailored.

But even in the third case, it will cost you money. It will be more expensive than Men’s Wearhouse, H&M, or Zara. And guess what? It will be a grown-ass suit you can feel good about wearing to, you know, grown-ass events like weddings, gala banquets, and James Bond parties.


Advertisements

Mash It Up: Cold, Warm – Low, High

Cozy top. Cold toes.

Cozy top. Cold toes.

Two equal and opposite rules apply in all areas of the aesthetic.

  • Observe the categories.

  • Mash up the categories.

catipol

Wisconsin Captiol Building (Madison) Observes the Categories

Part of what makes this building attractive to the eye, for example, is the purity of the design. To a student of architecture, sure, the neoclassical design contains elements of various historical periods. But to my rather untrained eye,  the constancy, the balance, and the univocality of the building is what pleases my eye.

[That, and the fact that this building is about two blocks from the Great Dane;  this beacon of democracy actually resuscitates fond memories of undergraduate drinking and the eating of too many onion rings.]

CJM

The Contemporary Jewish Museum, SF, Mashes Up the Categories

On the other hand, this building, located in my second-favorite city, intentionally blends straight lines with shocking angles. A re-purposed electrical station is mashed up with an avante-garde Borg-like cube.

museum

The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Western Wing: Resistance is Futile

It’s not as pretty. But it’s more fun to look at. While it’s clear that the first building is a place where committees argue over policies, the second building intrigues us,  makes us wonder what’s inside.

From Buildings to your Style

don draper

When putting an outfit together, you can observe either principal. Honor to the rules, perfectly. That’s what people mean when they say a suit (or someone’s taste) is flawless. He is or she is a vessel for age-old awesomeness to reside within.

Mash It Up

On the other hand, you can mash it up. As I mentioned last week, you can wear a tie to the park. If you do it right.

You can wear a snuggly-looking sweater with summery-looking chinos. fullsizeredpants

sweaterntieredpantsprofileA tie, cut from rough-textured canvas can sport classic, almost stuffy patterns – like paisley.

harris tweedSneakers can be made from Harris Tweed.

And altogether, you get a Libeskind-esque mash-up of old, new, high, low, serious, fun,

And all around awesome.