The Friday Read: New Abercrombie & Fitch, Need Supply Co. and Spring Outerwear

Editor’s note: Expect these posts once a week on Fridays — consider this a jumpstart on reading for your weekend downtime. Expect a mix of style and non-style content. For more entries, click here

While I’ve really been looking forward to warm-weather style for quite a while now (get a look at my spring style wish list, for starters), I’ve been lucky enough to get an even earlier dose of warm weather this weekend. Why is that, you ask? Well, I’m lucky enough to be back in Florida visiting my family this weekend and celebrating my dad’s birthday. Now, the fine print is that part of our weekend plans — seeing the legendary AC/DC — were derailed when the band announced they were rescheduling 10 tour dates. Definitely a big blow to this lifetime fan. At any rate, it really still is lovely to be here — we’ve got some excellent back-up plans lined up, including some much-needed beach time and a trip to the excellent Point Ybel Brewing Company.  You can look for a full trip recap post coming on Monday — for now though, let’s get on with our weekly Friday Read and all the #menswear news that’s fit to type.

  • Perhaps most importantly, we’ve been seeing more and more news hit about the new and improved Abercrombie & Fitch — the new line is definitely worth a look, and Maxim offered its take, too. (Editor’s note: There’s more from the folks at Abercrombie & Fitch coming in tomorrow’s Style Pick of the Week).
  • Go shopping (now, if possible) through the well-curated digital shelves at Need Supply Co. with the team at Style Girlfriend — you won’t be disappointed.
  • Prep for the forthcoming rain with key spring outerwear picks from Get Kempt — it’ll be here before you know it.
  • Long Read of the Week: Is fashion weird? Should it be weird? Is it art? And lastly… why does it matter? This introspective piece from the Washington Post (centered around women’s fashion, admittedly) brings new meaning to thinking of runway shows as art, and attempts to answer those questions quite well.

Get ready for the weekend with a dash more men’s style:

Shop the latest in Men's styles Under $50 + get FREE Shipping on orders over $100 at Frank & Oak!

Florsheim

Brand Profile: Ace Rivington

Editor’s note: For a wide array of brand profiles covering companies big and small, click here.

Aviation, as you might guess, figures strongly into the backstory of this brand. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

Aviation, as you might guess, figures strongly into the backstory of this brand. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

At a special media preview sponsored by ethical lifestyle brand Apolis earlier this summer, I ran into a situation that rarely, if ever, happens. I was chatting briefly with Apolis co-founder Raan Parton when he introduced his companion — another Beau, in fact. It just happened to be Beau Lawrence, founder of up-and-coming menswear brand Ace Rivington. What he had to say about his brand and the backstory behind it immediately caught my attention, and discerning consumers would do wise to listen up, too.

The sweater that started it all --a colorblocked crewneck made out of high-quality fabric.

The sweater that started it all –a colorblocked crewneck made out of high-quality fabric. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

Ace Rivington first made a name for itself with a wildly successful Kickstarter (to the tune of $60,990 raised) for its Homespun Sweatshirt, a crisp upgrade to the once-casual crewneck sweater. The fact that the crewneck sweater is now an accepted menswear staple definitely contributed to the brand’s initial success, but in the time since then, they’ve moved beyond just sweatshirts. That staple item was borne out of a simple set of perfect fabric, though. Once he’d found the right knit, Lawrence quit his job in November 2013 and got to work — bringing with him more than 18 years of experience in the denim industry. Add in the fact that the brand focuses on American manufacturing and you’ve got the makings of #menswear success.

A playful historical narrative accompanies many of the brand's products. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

A playful historical narrative accompanies many of the brand’s products. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

What’s even more compelling about the brand is the playful, heritage-filled story woven into its products. Consumers can follow along with the daring Ace Rivington and his family through the brand’s blog. Ace is a fictional pilot who provides the sartorial inspiration for the brand’s rugged staples — and spirit of adventure. The concept is something that few, if any brands, have tried. Sure, plenty tie back to the ideals of heritage quality, history and pieces  built for decades — but Ace Rivington is the only one that provides quite literally an inspired story to back it up. Some might find it too much, but the ways in which the product is designed and the creative is presented definitely help build the narrative into a cohesive brand identity.

American-made denim in a variety of washes rounds out the brand's pants offering.

American-made denim in a variety of washes rounds out the brand’s pants offering.

The company’s offerings are tight and controlled, particularly its shirting — five models are for sale on the site right now, including a Beach Washed Chambray option that would serve as a fine complement to the brand’s made-in-the-USA selvedge denim. That denim however, does run for a premium price — more than $200. Its chinos also venture into Bonobos-esque pricing territory ($89) but pack classic military styling inspiration into one pair. And while some are against the jogger trend entirely, Ace Rivington does indeed stock an aptly named pair — after having checked out a pair from the brand, the Layover Jogger (made out of a lightweight cotton weave) is actually the type of pant you’d want to be wearing if you found yourself stranded in an airport.

On the shirting front, it does appear as if the brand is planning a broader expansion come next spring, as they teased out a product shot of a neat-looking short-sleeve shirt on the company’s Instagram account recently.

Available in a plethora of colors, the brand's crewneck sweaters helped Ace make his name. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

Available in a plethora of colors, the brand’s crewneck sweaters helped Ace make his name. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

The iconic sweater the brand launched with is also on the site in multiple colors, and colorblocked cuffs plus a ribbed collar help it stand out from your average crewneck. At a 90% cotton/10% polyester blend, it might not be the kind of sweater that shields you from an Arctic chill, but it would be the ideal layering piece for fall, particularly underneath a herringbone blazer. At $129 however, it’s again an investment to give some thought.

Ace Rivington sells, among other footwear offerings, some casual-rugged chukkas from SeaVees.

Ace Rivington sells, among other footwear offerings, some casual-rugged chukkas from SeaVees.

Ace Rivington’s outerwear selection is small but does feature a café racer jacket. Likewise, it keeps its footwear offerings on the small, yet classic, side as well. Two pairs of excellent Wolverine boots, a classic three-eye chukka from SeaVees and two pairs of utilitarian SeaVees sneakers round out the product focus.

The brand’s accessories add a dash of the unexpected to your everyday carry, including a branded Zippo lighter and aviation-themed playing cards that line right up with the brand’s aviation-minded backstory. As to be expected for a brand that built its foundation on a simple sweatshirt, its basics are similarly well-constructed. The brand was kind enough to send along a Home Washed Heathered Crewneck in Oatmeal, and it’s extremely soft with a slim yet comfortable fit — exactly how a T-shirt should feel.
Ben Sherman US
Judging by the brand’s quick rise through Kickstarter, planned product upgrades in the coming seasons and compelling backstory, Ace Rivington seems like the type of brand that can definitely strike a chord with customers looking for crisp basics that incorporate just-different-enough touches and reliable quality. And if you happen to be an aviation enthusiast, there’s perhaps no better brand out there.

Have you bought any product from Ace Rivington? What’s your favorite item from the brand’s site?
Ernest Alexander
Greats

Style Q + A: Barron Cuadro, Effortless Gent

Barron Cuadro of Effortless Gent talks style tips, the development of his site and more. He also nails this classic blazer-and-denim combo.

Barron Cuadro of Effortless Gent talks style tips, the development of his site and more. He also nails this classic blazer-and-denim combo.

Editor’s note: To check out other Style Q&A pieces, head here. As I’m abroad this week, stay tuned for a Wednesday trip post!

Across the past few years, I’d say my personal style has developed a lot. More specifically, starting in about my sophomore year of college, I began to pay a lot more attention to what I wore, how I got dressed and how it helped me shape my life in terms of organization and focus. What was an outside interest at first turned into hours of reading about style and finding my own sense of style therein. One of the biggest sources in that development was (correction: is) Effortless Gent, an outstanding menswear and lifestyle site focused on helping guys improve their style (and everything that goes with it). What started as me merely perusing (poring over) the site’s pages in my free time led to a writing opportunity that continues to this day — my “Five Ways to Wear One” series — and a friendship with Barron that I’m definitely grateful for, as I think I can safely say that I might not have found my passion, and my career, without his guidance. But enough of the dramatic stuff — I caught up with Barron to talk all things Effortless Gent, the development of his personal style and his transition from San Francisco to NYC, and if you know Barron, I think you’ll like what you read.

Take me through the process of starting Effortless Gent, and how that dovetailed off your own style journey?

 Effortless Gent: Throughout high school and college, my guy friends would ask me style-related questions. After 8ish years of hearing the same questions over and over, I realized there are probably other guys out there with the same questions but no one to ask. My professional background is in web design / development, so I decided to put together a site and answer these questions for a much larger potential audience than just my friends.

What’s been the most rewarding part of helping guys improve their style?

EG: I love the emails I receive from guys who have quietly put into practice all the things we teach on the site. They realize how big a difference it has made in their lives and they’re just writing to thank me. That never gets old; it just proves that a little attention to detail and a bit of guidance can go a long way.

Even with more low-key, casual ensembles, Barron keeps it crisp and classic.

Even with more low-key, casual ensembles, Barron keeps it crisp and classic.

TSG: You advocate for a Lean Wardrobe and the idea of a personal uniform — tell me a little bit more about those concepts.

EG: The Lean Wardrobe philosophy has become the cornerstone of the site, and it guides everything we teach. The idea of a personal uniform is similar and fits into that philosophy.

We define the Lean Wardrobe (LW) as the minimum number of clothes a man needs to create the most well-rounded, flexible wardrobe that suits his daily life.  Rather than a concrete list of items, LW is a philosophy or a set of principles that guide you when buying. The LW is also super flexible, because not every guy has the same situation, income, or surroundings.
Florsheim
TSG: What’s one initial mistake you see most guys make when it comes to trying to improve their style?

EG: I guess not having a proper plan, or a direction they want to go. That usually leads to premature buying and then eventually being unhappy with those purchases, requiring him to purchase something else. That cycle usually repeats until he finds something that’s truly him. And it can happen with every article of clothing, from shirts, to socks, and everything in between. That trial-and-error process can be time consuming and expensive, but if you follow the LW guidelines, you can generally avoid 95% of that headache.

TSG: If you had to pick one outfit to wear every day, what would it be?

EG: It would have to be a pair of medium-dark denim, white OCBD, unlined, unstructured sport coat in navy, and tan leather loafers. I wear something similar most of the time (unless it’s unbearably hot or cold, and when it is, I adjust by removing or adding layers). 

TSG: Playing off that question, what’s one essential item every guy should own?

 EG: I always say a navy sport coat. It instantly dresses up whatever you have on.

The devil's all in the details when it comes to a great outfit.

The devil’s all in the details when it comes to a great outfit, according to Mr. Cuadro — and I agree!

TSG: You’re new to NYC from San Fran — what’s that transition been like and how has it changed your style? 

EG: SF is much more casual with their style, which personally doesn’t suit me very well. In NYC, people dress up more. It’s not crazy to be in suits and ties, or creative smart casual rigs… It’s just the nature of the city and the people who are here.  Since I enjoy dressing well, NYC has allowed me to be more myself, if that makes sense. In Build A Lean Wardrobe, one of the things we teach is to plan a wardrobe around your surroundings. Not just your physical surroundings, but the way in which people around you dress… Not that you have to dress exactly like everyone around you, but it’s a great way to gauge what’s considered “normal” and “appropriate”, and you can adjust course from there.  Anyway, NYC hasn’t really changed my style much, other than the fact that it allows me to be more… me.

 TSG: Given that the site’s home base has changed, do you think content on the site will continue to evolve in that direction as well? What’s next for EG? 

 EG: I think it will, and only for the better. I’m constantly inspired by the variation in styles I see here, plus the firsthand experience I’m getting by dressing for distinctly different seasons. In SF, we had one season almost all year round, so you don’t always get the opportunity to experiment. As far as what’s next, we’ll be focusing more on our eGuides and courses, especially our upcoming launch for Build A Lean Wardrobe, and hopefully continue to put out articles that help guide and inspire our readers to amp up their style game, no matter where they are.

Head to the Effortless Gent Instagram here for a daily glimpse into the happenings behind EG (and some great outfit shots from Barron), and check out the site here for tons of excellent style content.

Ben Sherman US

The Friday Read: Epaulet Sneakers, GAP Closings and the Most Stylish Men Alive

Florsheim

Editor’s note: Expect these posts once a week on Fridays — consider this a jumpstart on reading for your weekend downtime. Expect a mix of style and non-style content. For more entries, click here.

Can you believe it’s almost July? Unbelievable, truly! Have you done any traveling yet this summer? I’ve been in the midst of starting a new job this past month while mixing in a family wedding and a music festival; both have made it a great summer to date. Now, we’re almost on the Fourth of July, and on that note, we’ll have a style suggestion coming up for your reading pleasure next Monday. In the meantime, I suggest you check out my weekly roundup below of only the best pieces fit for weekend reading — and let me know what you’ve been reading yourself on Twitter or via the Contact page!

  • Design and style website Selectism details Epaulet’s stunning new line of made-in-America unfinished leather trainers (sneakers, to us common folk)
  • My buddy Joe over at the always-stylish Dappered reflects on the news earlier this week that GAP will close a quarter of its stores by recapping 10 of the best pieces from the brand in recent years (including one item that also appeared in this site’s Style Pick of the Week series)
  • NBA superstar LeBron James made GQ’s list of the 20 Most Stylish Men Alive and talked to the menswear magazine briefly about his style choices and inspiration (on that note, anyone else have some qualms about that list?
  • Long Read of the Week: In a fascinating set of entries, 10 New Yorkers share their most memorable “dusk to dawn” nighttime memories of the city that never sleeps

Need more of The Style Guide?

  • My latest piece for Effortless Gent, covering five ways to wear slim shorts this summer, was published on Thursday; check it out here!
  • Might I also suggest an earlier Style Guide entry this week detailing stylish men’s dress shoes on a budget?
  • Lastly:  If you’re shopping for some new denim, you might want to give Mott & Bow jeans a whirl after you check out this product review

 

Ernest Alexander

Style Pick of the Week: Alberta Watches

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

Your choice of a lovely blue or deep green dial (with black or brown leather strap), plus a classic field watch design from the newly launched Alberta Watches.

Your choice of a lovely blue or deep green dial (with black or brown leather strap), plus a classic field watch design from the newly launched Alberta Watches.

If you read any of my work over at VOUCH Mag, you might recognize this week’s Style Pick of the Week. While past Style Pick entries have run the gamut from American-made henleys to drool-worthy knit trousers , there’s something that’s simply too good to pass up about an affordably priced watch. And that’s exactly what Alberta Watches is offering with its newly launched Kickstarter campaign. The brand, inspired by the Canadian wilds and launched by former product designer Leo Josephy, is delivering classic field watches starting at just $58. That’s right … $58 (but for a limited time!). Funding spots at the low, low early bird price of $47 already filled up via the Kickstarter campaign, (which has quickly shot past its funding goal), but the standard price of $65 for one watch is stellar, too. Throw in your choice of a black or brown leather strap and either a vibrant blue or deep green dial, and you’ve absolutely got a winning combination.

An up-close look at the handmade Horween leather strap that's also an option through the Kickstarter campaign. Photo courtesy of Alberta Watches.

An up-close look at the handmade Horween leather strap that’s also an option through the Kickstarter campaign. Photo courtesy of Alberta Watches.

Ben Sherman US

Get in on this while it lasts, because these watches feature a just-right 41mm diameter, mineral glass crystal and a Japanese Miyota movement. The option to swap in a Horween leather strap handmade by a master saddlemaker in Calgary, Alberta sweetens the deal, too. Note that the early bird Kickstarter price of $76 gets you the Horween leather strap, with a standard price of $95 thereafter. So at the most, under the century mark for a beautifully produced watch (set for production in the same factory that handles Bulova timepieces).  While it’s essential to match your watch leather to your belt and shoes in dressier situations, this is one watch that could wear just as easily with a crisp pocket T-shirt and shorts as it could with a blazer and khaki chinos. The difficult part about funding this campaign will be the waiting — delivery date is slated for October 2015 — but this is one watch I’ve got on my hot list now.

Would you fund this Kickstarter campaign? What are your thoughts on the design and construction of these watches?

Ernest Alexander

Style Pick of the Week: Buck Mason Oxford Shirt

Ernest Alexander

A versatile shirt ready for all kinds of wear.

A versatile shirt ready for all kinds of wear.

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

Seeing as it’s Memorial Day weekend,it seems only fitting that this week’s Style Pick of the Week should come from a company making things with a ton of attention to detail and quality right in the U.S. of A. Buck Mason’s T-shirts first made an appearance on this blog earlier this week in fact, and it only makes sense that one of the company’s superb buttondowns would show up shortly thereafter. The light blue Oxford shirt in particular is selling so fast, the company can barely keep it barely stocked — although light grey, white or deep navy would be highly versatile as well.

 

Just one of the five shades in which you could pick up this classic wardrobe staple.

Just one of the five shades in which you could pick up this classic wardrobe staple.

This shirt is the kind of piece that’s more than worth it’s made-in-the-USA price, regardless of the color you go with. The sleeves and chest look to fit trim, making it a classic choice ready for slightly dressier wear instead of a spring and summer T-shirt or even a slim polo. This shirt would also work exceptionally well with black or blue denim, even in the deep navy shade available through Buck Mason.  And slim chinos would absolutely finish off a sharp, versatile outfit, too (you can check out more ways to style the classic Oxford buttondown shirt here). So that’s the pick for this Memorial Day weekend — if you’re traveling, be sure to stay safe and check out these suggestions for the best men’s travel accessories.

Have you bought from Buck Mason before? What’s your experience been like with the company?

Ben Sherman US

Online Shopping Picks: Everlane

Editor’s note: Sometimes, items that project great style are hard to find, especially at good prices. These articles aren’t necessarily a reflection of deals or sales for a particular brand, but noteworthy picks at the moment that can be had for affordable prices. For more Online Shopping Picks, head here.

Diving into a brand that's steadily on the way up.

Diving into a brand that’s steadily on the way up.

In the past two to two-and-a-half years or so, Everlane is a brand that’s raised a lot of eyebrows in the online fashion community. Their model of radical transparency and their desire to disseminate lots of information about how they do what they do has been praised by lots, as much as their clean, crisp aesthetic has also garnered positive reviews. They’re among a rare set of brands (J. Crew would probably be another) that do both men’s and women’s apparel very well, especially when it comes to staple essentials. They’ve been steadily expanding their wares on both sides, and have got a whole slew of releases planned for this spring — among others, they just dropped men’s henleys and a luxurious-looking merino blazer. The brand also has a new sweatshirt release and a spring jacket upcoming. For those of us that can’t wait though, there’s plenty of great goods on the site now. Check out picks below and share your thoughts on Everlane beneath that!

#1. The Henley Tee in Charcoal — $35 

An anticipated drop from Everlane that hopefully lives up to the hype.

A much-anticipated drop from Everlane that hopefully lives up to the hype.

One of Everlane’s latest product launches has easily been one of their most anticipated. When looking at the types of basics they’ve been putting out, this is a move that just makes sense — a henley is a masculine basic that can be layered all kinds of different ways (under a shawl cardigan or a v-neck sweater, to start) and brings to mind a certain rugged, old-time aesthetic. And given all the ways it can be worn in a neutral color like charcoal, this is a key pick — it meshes well with black jeans or dark denim and sturdy boots, in addition to chinos. Plenty of sizes are available right now in charcoal and other colors (almost shockingly so), and the price is excellent — lower than a comparable J. Crew staple, for example.  (Note: Look for an in-person review of one of these in white in the coming weeks). 

#2. The Cotton Pocket Tee in Slate — $15

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 11.02.00 AM

An underrated style basic in a unique color.

 

So the second item on this list keeps to the theme of darker-colored neutrals, which Everlane seems to do so well. While this is just a simple pocket tee, that item is fairly underrated as far as a men’s style piece. While short-sleeve henleys are a wise choice as well, sometimes you want something with more structure — that’s where the pocket tee comes in. It looks different than a traditional crewneck because of that chest pocket, and  the unique color helps it stand out from more basic options as well. This T-shirt would pair well with slim dark denim or a pair of navy trousers on the more hi-low spectrum of style; it also acts as a good neutral with some colored shorts. Don’t forget about the terrific price either — if Everlane is to be believed, comparable shirts retail for more than two times as much.

#3. The Slim Fit Denim Shirt — $55

A rugged staple for fall and winter — at a nice price, too.

A rugged staple for fall and winter — at a nice price, too.

There are so many good reasons to keep your closet stocked full of classic essentials like white OCBD’s and chambray shirts, yet in the fall and winter, it’s also handy to have a great denim shirt on-hand. Everlane also makes a deeper indigo denim shirt, and they just started selling a grey denim number, too, but the real gem of their collection is this medium denim option. It’s less overtly trendy than something like a light-wash denim shirt, and it goes with more pairings, too. It would fit perfectly with broken-in khaki chinos in either the fall or winter, and it would add a rugged, dressed-down appeal to charcoal trousers, too. This particular wash would also stand out well with black denim and a rich wool tie.  The price is very favorable when compared to a more expensive option from J. Crew, as well.

#4. The PK Polo in Hunter Green — $35

A color not typically seen on most polos, at a reasonable price.

A color not typically seen on most polos, at a reasonable price.

It might not exactly be polo weather right now for those of us in the north of the U.S. and in other cold climes, but within a couple months, it’ll be more than time for some short-sleeves. The great thing with Everlane is that they seem to keep inventory well-stocked and prices fairly consistent, so you could expect polos like these to stick around for quite a while. The fit on these looks to be solid — trim but not too tight, although one wonders if the photos shot on the model weren’t shot about a size too big (most of us prefer a slimmer-fitting polo at the sleeves and through the body). This particular item also comes in a color not seen tremendously often on polos — the deep hunter green would mesh well with wardrobe staples like tan chinos, and it would even sit right at home with lightwash jeans for the warmer months.

#5. The Twill Weekender Bag in Reverse Denim/Brown Leather — $95

For those who want to travel with style in mind.

For those who want to travel with style in mind.

No mention of Everlane would be complete without examining the brand’s gear — these pieces are what put them on the map for most of us style-conscious guys, and it seems like they’ve built up their apparel from around their bags, curiously enough. The theory would hold that dressing well goes hand-in-hand with what you carry for travel and everyday use, and these bags hold up that end of the deal quite nicely. These pieces, particularly the reverse denim weekender pictured above look crisp, clean and simple — the solid colors and lack of ornamentation or logos mean they’re not overly gaudy. From personal experience, the weekender bag is definitely meant to handle short spurts of usage — mine got used pretty hard across a summer in NYC, and I ended up replacing it with this bag instead. However, for those who need a true weekend bag, these pieces look outstanding and should provide just enough space for travel essentials. Most importantly, the price quite honestly destroys options from comparable brands. This isn’t built like a heritage bag from Filson, to be sure, but it should work just fine for the price.

Most notably with Everlane, an entire outfit, from apparel to accessories, could be built from the Everlane website, down to your wallet  — that’s the sign of a brand catering to the needs of customers while keeping style in mind.

And finally, a quick thought for all of you into Kickstarter clothing projects — be sure to check out Tom Cridland’s ongoing campaign — they’re a British company trying to break into the U.S. market and offer slim chinos in standout colors, including a nice deep navy option. Expect an in-person review of those within the coming days!

Have you bought from Everlane before? What’s on your wishlist from the brand? Let me know and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Online Shopping Picks: New Footwear from Frank & Oak

The Canadian menswear brand expands its offerings.

The Canadian menswear brand expands its offerings.

Editor’s note: Normally, brand or site round-ups haven’t been covered here on the site. However, sometimes seasonally appropriate or standout items just jump off the page. These choices don’t reflect sales picks at the moment, but simply offer a snapshot of great products from a (hopefully) affordable brand.

If you follow men’s style regularly, you’re at least a little bit familiar with Canadian menswear brand Frank & Oak. The brand has blown up in recent years for its stellar mix of affordable, e-commerce-based menswear that manages to mix both vintage and of-the-moment elements. They recently opened a flagship store in Toronto, have curated a neat community space in Montreal, and they continue to make some serious headway outfitting men from head to toe with some newly-launched shoe styles in addition to their slick sneaker collection.  They’ve ventured into footwear in the past, but this seems to be the most comprehensive launch yet. Their monthly releases are always a personal favorite, and they’re now making it quite hard to shop anywhere else. Check out top picks from some of their footwear offerings below — always handy to get some gift ideas in mind as the holidays approach, either for yourself or someone else stylish on your list!

#1. Rubbed Soled Italian Leather Lace-Up Boots in Cognac — $225

Style that mimics the Wolverine 1000 Mile boot at a much more affordable price.

Style that mimics the Wolverine 1000 Mile boot at a much more affordable price.

With all of the attention workwear and the resulting Americana craze has gotten in recent years, these boots build off the rugged style that so many seem to crave nowadays. They look to be a more affordable, slightly sleeker alternative to something from the Wolverine 1000 Mile collection, and that combination of looks and low pricing really can’t be beat. These would pair excellently with some trim chinos (perhaps in a fall-appropriate shade?) and a thick cardigan, and they’d also stand out underneath a classic pair of dark denim or slim corduroys.  Be warned: sizes are already going fast.

#2. Italian Leather Chukka Boots in Brown — $185

One of the more versatile pieces of footwear a guy can own.

One of the more versatile pieces of footwear a guy can own.

A solid pair of brown chukka boots is an incredibly versatile and stylish piece of footwear that can be worn plenty of different ways. This pair looks to be much the same as other chukka boots in terms of versatility, yet leans slightly more casual given the crepe sole. It’s got just enough sheen to dress up a bit. And the casual crepe sole doesn’t automatically mean these shoes would look out of place underneath a pair of patterned trousers or with a fall-weight suit. In fact, these boots would probably look all the better with either combo after getting beaten up a bit. The price is a bit much compared to other chukka boots, but the quality should hopefully be up to scratch. If shades of brown aren’t necessarily your thing (and let’s be honest, everyone needs a pair of black dress shoes), these should do the trick.

#3. Polished Leather Chelsea Boots in Black 

A sharp, fall-ready piece of footwear.

A sharp, fall-ready piece of footwear.

Although these slick boots are part of the brand’s Holiday Collection launched last week, they’re still worth mentioning in this round-up. Namely, they’re a more refined, less rugged and slightly trendier take on the boots pictured above — these are more suit-ready than the other footwear picks listed here, without a doubt. Chelsea boots are continuing to have a moment as far as footwear goes, and for good reason — they’re a great callback to ’60s-era style and fit perfectly under slim suits. The construction also fits well with fall and winter. This pair, like the rest of the brand’s footwear offerings, is far more affordably priced than other alternatives as well.

#4. Park Leather Low-Top Sneakers in White 

Common Projects style for a much smaller price tag.

Common Projects style for a much smaller price tag.

These aren’t part of their newest footwear release, but the importance of a clean, crisp pair of white sneakers can’t be emphasized enough — especially in the spring and summer, they can pair with everything from olive chinos to dark jeans and colorful shorts. They provide the footwear equivalent of a neutral base, just like a pair of navy or khaki chinos. While this might not necessarily be the season for them, given the right temperature and climate, white sneakers can do a lot fashion-wise, from pairing with jeans and a blue blazer to dressing down some suit separates. For more calendar-appropriate leather sneakers, these navy-and-blue hightops look stellar, too. As far as the white sneaker goes, Common Projects first pioneered the style, but this F&O pair provides the same look for far, far less.

Anybody have any experience with F&O footwear? Any thoughts? Leave it below and thanks for reading! 

Product Review: Stuhrling Aquadiver ‘Manta Ray’ Watch

With smartphones so ubiquitous nowadays, many question the necessity of wearing a watch to begin with. However, in the right setting and in the right style, a watch can function like any other part of an outfit — a finishing touch that sets the tone for an outfit, or a standout accessory in its own right. Building a basic, essential watch collection can be tricky, especially when so many expensive models are out there.  And there are certain types of watches that definitely fit in different situations, making things even slightly more confusing.

While a great dive watch is exceptionally versatile — wearable with jeans and a t-shirt as well as a suit when styled right — it’s always nice to give your timepieces a break. And, shaking things up on the wrist is as beneficial a style move as rotating shoes or other items of clothing.  That’s where a great rubber strap watch can come into play. But not the sporty, digital iterations worn to run races or anything like that. Think of the right rubber-strap watch as another casual watch to wear with simpler outfits, like the Timex Weekender (seen here as part of a Budget Style Guide).

The Stuhrling Aquadiver Manta Ray watch. Perfect for soaking up some, uh, rays.

The Stuhrling Aquadiver Manta Ray watch. Perfect for soaking up some, uh, rays.

That’s why this past Christmas, I was pretty pleased when Santa showed up under the tree with the Stuhrling Aquadiver Manta Ray watch. Now, the title on the Amazon link is quite a mouthful, but within just two days of wearing this timepiece, it’s clear that it’s quite the watch.

Yes, the watch is a quartz, meaning the battery will eventually have to be replaced. Although there’s quite the debate about quartz watches versus automatic varieties, the important thing about this timepiece is that it, well, tells time and runs well regardless.

Pure function aside, the great thing about this piece is its versatility. It would work in exactly the same scenarios as a Timex Weekender —for example, with an Oxford cloth button-down, sweater and jeans (as paired with on Christmas in cold New Hampshire) or with a polo and shorts (as worn in Florida during part 2 of a vacation trip). The color of the dial is a cool black with white symbols along the outer ring — no outlandish dial or strap here. And because of that rubber strap, there’s a durability aspect that a stainless steel watch doesn’t bring all the time — you needn’t worry about serious scratches or major damage all the time with this watch. Additionally, because the rubber strap is more casual than even a stainless steel strap, you don’t have to worry about matching the strap color with your belt all the time (honestly! Look closely here for an example).

The Stuhrling watch in action. Note the contrast on the bezel.

The Stuhrling watch in action. Note the contrast on the bezel.

The watch’s bezel actually works, as it rotates. The contrast between the numbering on that outer ring (as seen below) is a nice visual touch, as well. The stainless steel case is 42 millimeters in diameter, and it wears about that size — not overwhelmingly large, but slightly bigger than the average watch. It’s waterproof to 300 meters, making it very suitable for actual diving, and the watch feels sturdy overall. The screw down crown feels durable, too.

The area where the rubber straps attach to the watch case itself also feels sturdy — there’s a reinforcement aspect to those pressure points that’s reassuring if this watch is going to see some serious work. Most importantly, this watch (at least according to its Amazon page) is a serious, serious bargain when bought at the right time. It really embodies what great style should be about — it’s versatile, durable, well-built and extremely affordable. Not a bad job by Santa this year, in short.

If you’ve had any experience with Stuhrling watches in the past, leave it in the comments!

Winter Style Suggestion: Seasonal Fabrics

A huge component of fashion and style is phasing seasonal pieces in and out of one’s wardrobe. What worked for you in the summer (a polo and chinos, perhaps) probably won’t work in colder temperatures, and the same can be said for cold-weather garb. We’ve been working our way toward winter in Michigan for a good while now (remember those wingtip boots? Now’s the perfect time to break them out), and with the first truly cold blast of cold weather comes another reminder about seasonally appropriate style. The great thing about so many fabrics that work in the fall is that … well, they work in the winter, too.

J. Crew's chambray shirt. Nice texture for winter, without a doubt.

J. Crew’s chambray shirt. Nice texture for winter, without a doubt.

One way to transition your wardrobe in small steps from fall to winter revolves around emphasizing chunkier, thicker textures and fabrics, namely in suiting, shirting and neckwear. Of course, layering is important, as well. A heavier fabric that can get great play in both fall and winter is denim — not just on your legs, though. Denim and chambray shirts can break up a typical shirt-and-sweater combo through a thicker weave and rougher texture. Even in the dead of winter, a light chambray shirt is still appropriate — the fabric is like a classic OCBD, but with slubbier texture. Both types of shirts pair well with knit ties or heavier pieces of neckwear, and variations on styling a chambray shirt with dark denim are often used to great effect across the #menswear world. An added benefit of working in rougher textures like chambray and denim is that shirts and other seasonal staples often come in neutral colors, so pairing them together is quite easy.

If you do have the opportunity to dress up on occasion, leave the ultra-shiny silk ties at home at least once or twice. The same fabrics in vogue in suiting for the winter are just as accessible in terms of neckwear — look no further than last month’s Frank and Oak Hunt Club crate for a great example of a heavier wool tie.  What’s more, switching to a heavier tie fabric ultimately makes sense with other textural changes — a wool tie and chambray shirt is a nearly foolproof combination because of the way those two items play off each other. Knit ties, while versatile and usable at any time during the year, are even more appropriate during fall and winter. Again, a knit tie swaps out the sheen of a typical silk tie for something more visually interesting — a thick weave. Because a knit is inherently more casual (square end, more texture, less shine), it can be paired with dark denim and a great pair of shoes quite easily. And if you find yourself in a business casual office this fall or winter, try out a combination like that on a ‘Casual Friday’ — it’s probably instantly more polished than other get-ups out there.

An example of how to tie it all together -- chambray shirt, knit tie & herringbone blazer. Don't forget those boots!

An example of how to tie it all together — chambray shirt, knit tie & herringbone blazer. Don’t forget those boots!

The key to completing an entire outfit (particularly in a business casual situation) is often a good blazer. A blazer can clean up lines in an outfit, emphasizing a man’s torso and shoulders; in the right size (and maybe with some tailoring), nearly anyone looks good. Now for the winter, a good cotton blazer can probably pull just as much duty as in the summer or spring. But leave the linen blazer in the closet for now, and if you do want to switch out fabrics, reach for … you guessed it — something with a thicker weave, like this herringbone number from J. Crew.  H&M also features a much cheaper option in a winter-appropriate fabric, but the tail could be a bit chopped (too short for the taller fellas).

When the cold weather strikes, transition your wardrobe as you would from any other season, rotating out pieces you don’t wear for pieces you will wear. Keep in mind that heavier textures add visual interest and depth to an outfit, and use neutral combinations like chambray and wool ties to pull together seasonally appropriate (and versatile) looks.