The Friday Read: Christmas Day, New Beckett Simonon Boots & New Grooming Gear

Wishing you a merry and bright Christmas. Image courtesy of Huckberry.

My friends, we made it: It’s time for a very special, very merry edition of The Friday Read … yes, here on Christmas! Don’t worry, though: This post was in the hopper before I safely made my way down to Florida to see family. I hope wherever you are, you’re able to enjoy the day safely and in good health, perhaps from afar with family or with a close, safe “bubble” of loved ones. Now, because I’m in Florida, that means two things: We’ve been well-stocked the entire week on delicious craft beer from local brewery Point Ybel Brewing Company, makers of everything from a fantastic Oktoberfest to a slew of New England IPAs, a terrific Kolsch by the name of Bud Weisberg and, well, plenty more. It’s truly a treat to be down here with great beer and sunshine close at hand. And second of all, it’s just great to be able to see family and take a bit of time off (just a bit, though — back to work next week!).

I hope Santa has already fulfilled some of your Christmas wish list items from sites like Huckberry and Bespoke Post — how about it, ehh? As for me, I’ve had my eye on some choice Christmas gifts from my favorite brands, like Todd Snyder. I also went ahead and asked Santa for Matthew McConaughey’s new book and of course, the 2020 deluxe reissue of “Pleased To Meet Me,” the iconic 1987 record by one of my favorite bands, The Replacements. Beyond the gifts under the tree, I’m thankful for the health and safety of my family and friends, and of course, the opportunity to see my family (just my mom, dad and sister — negative tests all around). At any rate, I’m also thankful for your continued support here! And to that end, I’ve got just a few choice menswear picks that might make this day a bit more merry and bright. We’re back at it tomorrow with another Style Pick of the Week, so be sure to join us then. In the meantime, who’s up for some eggnog?

Beckett Simonon Dowler Boots

Boots from Beckett Simonon worth buying this holiday season.

  • There’s never quite been a better time to upgrade your collection of the best men’s leather boots than right now, and I know just the brand to help you out if you find yourself in possession of some holiday cash or a seasonal bonus. Head to Beckett Simonon to get nothing less than your new favorite boots, including the refined-yet-rugged Beckett Simonon Dowler Boots shown above. Talk about stepping into the new year in style, ehh?
  • If you happen to be braving cold weather, let me point you in the direction of your new favorite cardigan. I wrote about a classic and casual-yet-versatile Grayers shawl cardigan on the blog earlier this month, and it seems as fitting to me a layering option for chilly temperatures as any.
  • Let’s close out this brief edition of the Friday Read with something that truly gets to the heart of the meaning for the season. Our U.S. military members definitely deserve our respect and support, and Bravo Sierra Grooming goes above and beyond. They field-test the brand’s excellent line of grooming products (everything from deodorant to moisturizer and a solid cleanser) with military members in the field, and they also donate five percent of sales to the M.W.R. (which stands for Morale, Welfare and Recreation). It’s a crucial cause, and it helps that the brand gives back while making stellar grooming products — thanks to Bravo Sierra for the chance to test the full grooming line out recently! 

I’m going to be as brief as I can in wrapping this up before I let you get back to enjoying plentiful presents, coffee, brunch and more. In fact, I’ve got some holiday style inspiration for men in the form of this #OOTD that I think will come in mighty handy today. Regardless of where you are, enjoy the day and thank you for reading!

The Friday Read: The Best Winter Sweaters, Holiday Travel Style and Last-Minute Christmas Gifts

Folks, can you believe we’re just three days away from Christmas? Just one weekend? I hope you’re wrapping up your work for the week, or the year, and getting ready to hit the road for some holiday fun. Be sure to check out my men’s holiday gift guide for any very last-minute gift-giving needs, and rest assured that our women’s holiday gift guide has you covered with picks for plenty of the women in your life. As for me, I’m doing my best to wrap up my work — #menswear-related and otherwise — as I hit the road today to lovely, sunny Florida for a few days with my family! I celebrated Christmas in Florida last year, and I can’t wait for this year’s festivities — it’s a welcome change of pace from the NYC cold. We’ll have our traditional Christmas Eve  movie and dinner, and I’m certainly looking forward to catching some rays and kicking back with a Corona. If you’re so inclined, you can check out my adventures on Instagram — and you can of course expect a full travel style post here on the site come next week. Oh, and lastly … be sure to dress in casual-yet-comfortable holiday travel style yourself this year, yeah? Before we log off totally, know that we’ll have an exceptional Style Pick of the Week incoming tomorrow. For now, treat yourself to The Friday Read — enjoy the weekend, happy holidays and Merry Christmas!
Holiday 2017

  • It’s high time we started bundling up against the cold winter weather, and on that note, my latest roundup for The Manual focuses on the best sweaters to buy this season. Can’t go wrong there, can you?
  • Looking for a cool stocking stuffer that’s a neat gift for the woman who loves the outdoors (or just appreciates a cool hat)? The Six-Panel Structured Canvas Indigo Hat from Raleigh Denim is part of the brand’s new line of unisex accessories, featuring neat craftsmanship and quality. Is it on your shopping list?
  • In search of a quick grooming upgrade before the holidays? Might I point you toward EVENPRIME? This simple, minimal men’s grooming line takes a uniquely Korean approach to skincare, focused on quality ingredients, clean packaging and helpful, easy-to-use products. The brand’s Core Set is pared down to two, well, core essentials, a cleanser and a moisturizer that I think you’re going to like. I’ve been trying out the brand and enjoying it immensely for the refreshing hydration of the Moisturizer in particular — I think you’ll feel the same way!

Once again, I hope you enjoy the holidays with family and friends! Thanks for reading!


Holiday 2017

2014 Men’s Style Christmas Wish List

If you’re a  newly burgeoning or seasoned style enthusiast, there are lots of enviable, investment-worthy items out there that you’d presumably like to have in your wardrobe (I know I’ve got my share!). Unfortunately, cost is simply prohibitive for some of these items  — but the holidays (and the end of the year) are a great time to set new aspirational style goals and yes, dream of what Santa might be putting under the tree this year. If you’ve got your gift giving all taken care of, great! Onto your style wish list. If not, get on it! (This guide from earlier this week could help). It seems like there are new pieces that pop up on the personal wish list every day, but these are the highlights this season.

#1. Allen Edmonds Bleecker Street Captoe Boot, $345 (On Sale)

As sharp a pair of dress/casual boots on the market.

As sharp a pair of dress/casual boots on the market.

A pair of Allen Edmonds shoes made last year’s Christmas Wish List, and these boots are certainly worthy of that same distinction. Available in several eye-catching shades from the venerable American retailer, (including the classic Bourbon Calf shown above) this pair of boots would look as great with a suit as they would with dark denim and a striped henley. They’re certainly sleek, but the captoe breaks them up visually, making them a little more casual. And the ankle boot style is perfect for fall and winter, although at this price, they’d be a tremendous pair of year-round shoes.

#2. Shinola Runwell 41mm Leather Watch, $550

A classic in the making.

A classic in the making.

Shinola has exploded across the past roughly two years in terms of hype and media attention, with increased production and an even greater brick-and-mortar presence planned for 2015. The company’s ethos speaks for itself: sturdy, American-made products that combine great style with an authentic vibe (although there’s more to that ‘authentic vibe’ than meets the eye). While plenty of different colorways and strap combos are available (including a lovely burgundy-dial timepiece), the cream face and dark brown leather strap of the watch above caught my eye particularly. The dial isn’t absurdly dressy of course, but the watch has a certain refined air that could allow one to pull it off with a winter-weight suit and dress boots.

#3. Scotch and Soda Ralston Slim-Fit Jeans, $149

A slim, dark pair of jeans as worn by James Bond (off the screen, that is).

A slim, dark pair of jeans as worn by James Bond (off the screen, that is).

When most people think of high-quality denim, Scotch and Soda might not be that high on the list — after all, there are other brands making excellent denim on the cheap. However, this pair of Scotch & Soda jeans has something special going for them – they’re the same style and wash frequently worn by Daniel Craig; on top of that, they’re a solid, clean dark wash with a slim cut. Criticize Craig as James Bond, sure, but you can’t deny his excellent style on and off the screen. Additionally, yours truly once had the great fortune of owning a pair of the Ralstons — an untimely rip after years of hard wear ended that great run though, and these ended up back on the wish list as a result. Maybe one day…
#4. The Hill-side Cotton Herringbone Tweed Tailored Jacket, $396
A rugged jacket that's ready for winter.

A rugged jacket that’s ready for winter.

Brooklyn-based The Hill-side has a great thing going right now — a partnership with J. Crew is an excellent reflection of their current momentum. And the aesthetic — clean, well-made basics in unique fabrics and styles — is working very well for them. The above blazer captures that vibe perfectly. It looks to have a tailored cut and the ability to wear it casually with dark denim or some seasonally-appropriate burgundy cords. The patch pockets dress it down slightly, as does the marled herringbone tweed texture. On a budget-friendly note, Uniqlo makes a cheaper, similar-looking alternative here, although sizes are very slim at the moment.
#5. Todd Snyder x Champion Baseball Jacket Sweater, $295
A vintage-looking, sport-inspired shawl cardigan for when it gets cold.

A vintage-looking, sport-inspired shawl cardigan for when it gets cold.

Todd Snyder’s brand continues to rise quickly through the menswear world. He’s already taken home a slew of accolades in recent years, and he’s hit the sweet spot as far as designers who perfect a tailored, casual-rugged vibe. His collaborations with Champion always seem to be a major hit, and one would hope the high prices are a reflection of the inherent quality — thankfully, other pieces in the collaboration aren’t as expensive (when on-sale, at least). This baseball “jacket-sweater” looks thick and warm, and it also gives off a rugged, stylish vibe thanks to the sport-inspired trim and cuffs. The shawl collar is another masculine touch, too. Thus, it makes this wish list.
What’s on your style Christmas wish list? Any thoughts on this list? Leave them below!

Style Suggestion: Christmas Time

If you’re anything like me, the last few days before Christmas are a bit of a scramble to finish wrapping gifts and getting everything set for two special days — Christmas Eve and Christmas. Ideally, since this time is most often spent with family, it’s good to not have to think too much about what to wear on those days. And it’s wise to not overdo it too much, either — but you should still dress to impress (although Christmas is one of those days where it’s OK to wear your pajamas all day). Let’s take it from the top with an outfit that could work on both Christmas Eve and Christmas.

The Sweater

Elbow-patch wool crew (Alternative: Fair isle crewneck sweater)

Different texture, and with elbow patches for variety.

Different texture, and with elbow patches for variety.

In most parts of the country this time of year, it’s pretty cold (including New Hampshire, where the Siblings With Style operation has gone mobile this week). That’s why a sweater will work more than sufficiently to stave off the chill. But, use some more variety here than with a standard v-neck sweater.

That’s why a donegal wool crew (the above option pictured is from Frank & Oak) does the job nicely. The wool’s texture is subtly different from a classic merino or wool sweater (note the flecks in the fabric), and the crew neck means this can be worn more casually atop a plain t-shirt. The elbow patches break up the outfit by adding another subtle textural difference, and that touch is certainly a modern take on an older classic. The same holds true for the fair isle crewneck alternative. The pattern is perfect for the holidays — it’s certainly ‘of-the-moment’, but it incorporates a cold-weather feel, too. And in slim new iterations from places like J. Crew and even Old Navy, the fair isle sweater fits the mold of a nice modern update. Additionally, because that fair isle pattern is louder, it can easily be dialed down by pairing it with the perfect pair of dark denim.

The Shirt

Chambray shirt

Workwear details and rough cold-weather texture.

Workwear details and rough cold-weather texture.

Assuming you stick with a nice wool crew, it’s wise to keep your shirt in the same casual area. That could mean as something as simple as a charcoal or grey t-shirt, but if you’re stepping out of the house to visit family or heading to a casual party, a collared shirt is probably the more polished way to go. It’s easy here to turn to a simple white or blue Oxford cloth button-down, but the slightly unique texture of the sweater calls for a slightly more unique shirt. Chambray is the ideal in-between medium —a step up from an OCBD in terms of visual interest, and able to be worn in fall and winter with equal ease — the rough, workwear-inspired roots of chambray are the answer to colder temps in the later parts of the year, including around Christmas.

The Pants

Slim chinos

Hawkings McGill chinos from Urban Outfitters.

Hawkings McGill chinos from Urban Outfitters.

Even though Christmas is a decidedly casual holiday when it’s spent at home, the day before and the day itself present a variety of potential style situations. If both days are spent at home, a lighter-washed, more casual denim, kept slim and with some distressing (yes, some) could be your ticket to casual style. But in both instances, slim chinos in a neutral color (as seen above) work perfectly.  Something in a darker fall or winter shade (like burnt orange or burgundy) could definitely work as well. In this instance, chinos allow you to be a bit more polished at home or just as ready to jump up and head out to a movie or dinner, a place where jeans might not go a long way.

The Shoes

‘Classy’ boots

A high-quality boot with years of history behind it.

A high-quality boot with years of history behind it.

As with much of the day, this is one holiday where not a lot might be required of you in terms of errands, chores or, well, much of anything involving leaving the house. But, if the day involves trekking through some snow, a sturdy pair of boots is the way to go when the weather turns frosty.  When you add a different component (like a slightly different color) outside of a standard wingtip or ‘work’ boot, the right pair of shoes can work across multiple seasons and situations. That’s where the Red Wing Beckman boots come in. The cherry shade of this particular pair is beautifully rich in color and extremely high-quality, if reviews and anecdotal history are any indication (46 out of 51 reviews on Amazon were 4 or 5 star ratings). That red cherry color means that the boot could feasibly be worn with either a black or brown leather belt — don’t worry about matching leathers, here. And the boot’s deep color falls in line with the elbow patches of the sweater and the rough texture of the chambray shirt — all subtly different touches from typical items.

The Rest

Camp socks and casual leather watch

Thick and warm socks to stand up to the heat.

Thick and warm socks to stand up to the heat.

Is $16.50 a lot for a pair of socks, like the J. Crew option as shown in the link? Definitely. But, if it’s particularly chilly where you live, a nice, thick pair of socks could see a lot of duty in the fall and winter, so it’s a slight investment in the grand scheme of things. That particular pair has some notes of blue and black that would play off other colors in the outfit, like the sweater, shirt and chinos. That’s a little touch that can go a long way in complementing an outfit, something any good pair of socks should accomplish. Because the outfit is casual overall, leave the stainless steel dive watch in the box this time, and reach for a cheap (yet still polished-looking) watch like a Timex. It’s a leather strap but still maintains a field-ready look, and again, don’t worry about matching leathers with the shoes here.

There you have it. Enjoy the Christmas season with family and friends, and do your best to look your best in the process. Merry Christmas, happy holidays and thanks for reading!


A Fashion Blogger’s Christmas Wish List

Christmas is only a couple days away — is it too late to write to Santa and ask for these fashionable items?

Cambridge Satchel Company Black Bag with Leopard Details

Screen shot 2013-12-17 at 6.43.35 PM

The Cambridge Satchel Co just released this bag earlier today.  It’s perfect for winter and has a great edge.  Sure it’s a little pricey, but the quality is great and a girl can dream, right?

Modcloth Rows of Roses Dress

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This dress is perfect for this holiday season! Or perhaps to wear to the Rose Parade? The vintage silhouette of this dress is sure to catch eyes at any holiday party! Modcloth has so many festive dresses that I will be dreaming of this Christmas.

Jeffrey Campbell Idina Pointy-Toed Caged Boot

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 9.12.37 AM

The Urban Outfitters X Jeffrey Campbell collaboration has so many shoes that are to die for! These heels are wintery enough in style, but still reasonable to wear in Florida.  I would pair these with a pleather skirt and cardigan for a casual but seasonal look.

My holiday season wishlist would be completed with a few pairs of tights, several pairs of Christmas socks (to be worn poking out of my combat boots), a beret, and a Christmas mug.  These items are more reasonably attainable than my swoon-worthy fashionable items, but maybe Santa is feeling stylish this year!