Home of the Strange: New Haven and Young the Giant

Gear for the road, Yale exploration and a rock show. Merino Turtleneck by Knit Project. Denim shirt and dark denim by Frank & Oak. Grounder Hi-Tops by Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers. Watch by Timex for J. Crew. Flight Brief by Owen & Fred. Glasses by Frameri.

Gear for the road, Yale exploration and a rock show. Merino Turtleneck by Knit Project. Denim shirt and dark denim by Frank & Oak. Grounder Hi-Tops by Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers. Watch by Timex for J. Crew. Flight Brief by Owen & Fred. Glasses by Frameri.

First off, don’t let the headline catch you off guard — New Haven isn’t as weird as it might sound; in fact, it was the perfect place to take in the latest stop on the “Home of the Strange” tour by indie rockers Young the Giant this past weekend! On the same page now? Good deal. Yes indeed, this late February weekend presented the perfect opportunity to hit the road again and travel in style to see another live show — it’s a real passion of mine, as you might recall from a fall trip to see Local Natives and my summer trip to see indie folk rockers Lucius, among others. And to be able to hit the road, bring along my favorite #menswear and see an awesome rock show is absolutely icing on the cake. The weather was a bit different than a winter road trip to Michigan, but not quite full-on spring territory — so, earbuds in and volume turned up, I grabbed my Owen and Fred Voyager Waxed Weekender  — and the excellent, travel-ready Owen and Fred Flight Brief in Midnight — and set out for New Haven and College Street Music Hall (Editor’s note: For the next time you hit the road, here’s another bag that surely qualifies among the best travel gear for guys).

Gear for a Saturday on the road and a Saturday concert. Sweater by The Knit Project. Dark denim by Frank & Oak. Grounder Hi-Tops by Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers. Field watch by Timex for J. Crew. Lanyard by Tanner Goods. 810 Wallet by Brothers Leather Supply. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

Gear for a Saturday on the road and a Saturday concert. Sweater by The Knit Project. Dark denim by Frank & Oak. Grounder Hi-Tops by Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers. Field watch by Timex for J. Crew. Lanyard by Tanner Goods. 810 Wallet by Brothers Leather Supply. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

As has been the case with past East Coast road trips, I knew I’d have to dress for multiple potential scenarios — starting with a nice, temperate Saturday train ride from NYC to New Haven. I chose a light, breathable and innovative Fitted Merino Turtleneck from Bay Area start-up Knit Project. Made from luxurious Italian Merino wool from a company that’s focused on quality materials and a great fit, it was a neat layering touch under the Frank & Oak Marfa Slim-Fit Denim Shirt — yes, that’s right …. a turtleneck under a denim shirt.  It’s a move that’s a bit unique (and perhaps academically inspired for exploring Yale’s campus?), but works in this case thanks to the casual washed denim shirt and a well-fitting pair of  classic Frank & Oak selvedge denim. Plus, when it got breezier later on in the day, the combo worked well with no outfit change necessary. Given that I spent time on my feet exploring New Haven and drinking copious amounts of coffee from stops like Jojo’s Coffee and Tea, I needed to be able to get around effectively and on-time — that’s where my vintage-inspired Timex for J. Crew watch came in handy, along with helpful everyday carry pieces like my Brothers Leather Supply 810 Wallet. Of course, I had to reach for a pair of sneakers that’s as comfortable as can be — yet with the functionality of durable boots. In this instance, my Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers Grounder Hi-Tops were comfortable and effective for going from train to town to show.

All smiles in advance of Young the Giant. Merino Turtleneck by Knit Project. Denim shirt and dark denim by Frank & Oak. Watch by Timex for J. Crew. Flight Brief by Owen & Fred. Glasses by Frameri.

All smiles in advance of Young the Giant. Merino Turtleneck by Knit Project. Denim shirt and dark denim by Frank & Oak. Watch by Timex for J. Crew. Flight Brief by Owen & Fred. Glasses by Frameri.

Again, these were all pieces that worked just as well for getting around New Haven as they did for a heck of an epic show from Young the Giant. Luckily, I had plenty of time to kill before lining up outside College Street Music Hall. The campus of Yale really is something else — at times medieval and at times modern, it’s filled with great vistas and excellent architecture. It’s quaint, historic and very cool to explore — as is the Yale University Art Gallery (even if you’re not an art buff — I’m certainly not, but hey … menswear’s more my bag).

It’s always wise to take local recommendations into account when traveling — such has been the case as I’ve explored Washington, D.C.  and braved the Grand Rapids winter. So one would be remiss not to stop into the delicious, quirky and renowned Louis’ Lunch for an original cheeseburger, ehh? They still know how to make ’em — considering they’re known for being the inventor of the hamburger, that’s quite the accomplishment. And I can confirm for a fact that there’s no better for fuel for a rock concert — or exploring a neat college town — than a premium stop like Cask Republic, a conveniently located spot near College Street Music Hall with multiple Northeast locations and an excellent selection of burgers and beers. Again, prime rock concert fuel, folks.

Beckett Simonon

And certainly if you’ve listened to Young the Giant or caught them on tour behind any of their three albums (including “Home of the Strange,”) you know what you’re going to get. That is, an energetic, powerful show with great showmanship from Sameer Gadhia, a heck of a lead singer with a great voice and the sort of synergy with his bandmates that comes from lots of time spent honing their craft. Hyperbole? Not when you’ve been at it since 2004, I’d say. They reliably packed their setlist with crowd-pleasers and a healthy dose of standout new material, all delivered with plenty of heart. Seriously, who hasn’t sung along to “My Body” or “Apartment” …. or “I Got” (the list goes on)… while cruising in their car? Ahh, just me? OK, then. But I can tell you this — that band brings great energy, joy and feeling to the stage. What a treat to see that in action — crowd favorites like “Cough Syrup” kicked things off early, while newer hits like “Silvertongue” helped close out the encore. In between, Sameer and Co. lit up the stage with an amazing light show (check out a photo or two on Twitter) and also worked in sleeper hits like “Mr. Know-It-All” and  “Titus Was Born” off of “Home of the Strange.” In short, it was a show I’d absolutely recommend seeing.

Mixing collegiate, comfortable style for a Sunday of exploration at Beinecke Plaza. Belted Shawl Cardigan by Abercrombie & Fitch. Sashiko Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Stretch twill pants by Kit Culture. Sutter Boots by CAT Footwear. Military Watch by Timex + Todd Snyder. Cashmere cap by Club Monaco. Glasses by Frameri.

Mixing collegiate, comfortable style for a Sunday of exploration at Beinecke Plaza. Belted Shawl Cardigan by Abercrombie & Fitch. Sashiko Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Stretch twill pants by Kit Culture. Sutter Boots by CAT Footwear. Military Watch by Timex + Todd Snyder. Cashmere cap by Club Monaco. Glasses by Frameri.

Without a doubt, it was certainly a treat to see them live. The group’s time on stage at world-famous venues like Radio City Music Hall absolutely shows, and you’d do well to catch them as they tour this summer with Cold War Kids! Tickets for that one will surely go fast– anxious as I might be about getting tickets for that tour, I wasn’t anxious about dressing for the cold in New Haven on Sunday (see what I did there?). Now, there wasn’t the excitement of a show ahead, but I still enjoyed a day around a bustling town, including some lovely time spent exploring the campus of Yale once again — it’s a beautiful institution in all respects. I also can’t recommend the premium, upscale Heirloom for brunch enough — get the Heritage Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich and thank me later. For hitting up spots like Blue State Coffee (again with the coffee), I grabbed unique-yet-functional layers, starting with my Abercrombie & Fitch Belted Shawl Cardigan . My finely textured, well-made Taylor Stitch Sashiko Shirt also complemented the cardigan nicely for temperatures in the 40s, what with its unique pattern and tailored fit.

Sunday layering, starting with a sharp Abercrombie & Fitch Belted Shawl Cardigan. Stretch twill pants by Kit Culture. Sutter Boots by CAT Footwear. Military Watch by Timex + Todd Snyder. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

Sunday layering, starting with a sharp Abercrombie & Fitch Belted Shawl Cardigan. Stretch twill pants by Kit Culture. Sutter Boots by CAT Footwear. Military Watch by Timex + Todd Snyder. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

The top half of my rig was offset nicely by casual, comfortable and athletic-inspired Kit Culture stretch twill pants. With roots in Los Angeles, Kit Culture makes gear for the active guy, with fits built for those of us on the go. With 5 percent stretch, these pants were exceptionally comfortable for navigating the city, and yet also proved stylish and crisp alongside my reliable-as-ever CAT Footwear Sutter Boots. The combo definitely merged some high-low style alongside perhaps my new favorite watch, the vintage-inspired, handsome Timex + Todd Snyder Military Watch — it’s a timepiece that’s classic and eye-catching, and ever-so-slightly rugged. In short, the watch was the perfect everyday carry piece alongside my Brothers Leather Supply 810 Wallet for exploring a bustling college town.

As is the case with many of my road trips, I feel they seem to go by too fast — and that’s definitely true considering this one packed a ton into a short amount of time! I’m always left feeling very grateful — if a bit tired — for the chance to travel to great cities, see excellent music and yes, pack my favorite menswear. I’d say no trip is too short to put your best foot forward — and who can resist bringing along everyday carry pieces like a stylish casual watch or a great weekender bag, anyways? Oh, and about Young the Giant. There are moments during every live show that get me smiling and singing, and the Saturday night show was definitely filled with them. They have no shortage of tour dates through the rest of the year, so go see ’em — don’t forget to pack some stylish rock concert gear, ehh?

Until the next trip — thanks for reading and stay stylish,

-Beau

#OOTD: High-Low Style with Black Denim

Editor’s note: You’ve surely seen this hashtag lots of different places, including on Instagram. But how does that carry over to real life? The #OOTD series will take one great item and put together a versatile, stylish outfit around it. Look for past features here.

So after you;ve nailed how to dress up dark blue denim, there comes a tendency to want to look elsewhere as far as styling goes. Sure, you can reliably rock slim blue denim five days of the week and into the weekend, but it’s also fun to take a stab at something a little more unique, something with some edge to it. That’s where slim black denim comes in. They can be styled much the same way as dark blue denim, yet the color and slim silhouette gives them a rocker edge (ideally, not in a Harry Styles-esque way, however). So taking pieces you already have in your wardrobe and changing them up to fit the season and weather is the best way to go about finding your inner rocker (or at least attempting to). Look for something that’s tailored but not too tight (like the pair you see below). Lastly, hit me up on Twitter if you have other suggestions for the #OOTD series — I’ll be listening!

Taking black denim and making it the centerpiece of a high-low style combo.

Taking black denim and making it the centerpiece of a high-low style combo.

The Denim: Levi’s 513 Slim-Straight Jeans in Nightshine, $69.50 — A classic pair from a classic brand in a reliable fit. The price could go even lower when on-sale.

The Henley: J. Crew Slim Broken-in Henley in Heather Chrome, $39.50 — Another tried-and-true classic from a brand that does the basics very well.

The Blazer: Frank & Oak Fairmont Deconstructed Blazer in Light Brown, $145 — A ridiculously soft, slim blazer with casual and formal style potential — use it to dress up this look in a unique way (don’t forget the pocket square — something classic oughta work well here).

The Scarf: J. Crew Factory Plaid Scarf, $15.99 In case it gets cold and you don’t feel like throwing on a slim topcoat, add a warm scarf to finish things off (don’t forget a merino watch cap, either).

The Sneakers: GREATS Brand Rosen in Oxblood, $49 — Just $49 for a comfortable, minimal sneaker in a rich color (click here to read a full GREATS Rosen review).

The Socks: The Tie Bar Navy Ombre Stripe Socks, $8 — Who knew The Tie Bar did socks? No word yet on the quality of these things, but the price can’t be beat, and the grey stripes play off the grey Henley.

The Belt: Perry Ellis Webbed Leather Trim Belt, $39 — Pricier than normal for a casual belt, but it’s a nice change of pace texturally from a fancier dress leather belt.

The Watch: Brathwait Slim Steel Wristwatch, $185 — A relatively recent addition to the E-commerce watch business; minimal looks and a pretty solid price. Does anyone have any experience with these guys?

So the above is but one way to style up black denim — it takes pieces you probably already have, like a slim henley, a wool blazer and reliable sneakers, and mashes them up for the winter time. If snow starts to pile up, swap out those sneakers for some tough winter boots and you’re all set. How would you style your black denim? Let me know in the comments below!

Florsheim

Online Shopping Picks: Best Men’s Winter Accessories to Buy Right Now

Editor’s note: To check out  more Online Shopping Picks posts, click this link.

Notepad? Check. Great sweater? Check. Gloves? Hat? Nope. Don't be like Mikael Blomkvist (AKA Daniel Craig).

Notepad? Check. Great sweater and scarf? Check. Gloves? Hat? Nope. Don’t be like Mikael Blomkvist (AKA Daniel Craig).

What’s your morning routine like? With me, I’m usually rushing around a bit, firing off some tweets and really looking forward to my first cup of coffee. Right before I rush out the door though, I nearly always forget one thing even in the cold weather — my gloves. Impossible, right? It sometimes seems that the little things are the easiest to forget — and that’s too true when it comes to the matter of cold-weather accessories. Mixing form and function is absolutely critical here — like other style upgrades that I’ve written about, the right pair of gloves or a great hat can still be overlooked unfortunately. There’s certainly a difference between what you should likely aspire to wear and what you might have in your closet. Something like skiing gloves or sturdy work gloves do just fine for those types of activities, for example, but what about less strenuous work? That’s where the picks below come in — we’ll cover some nice gloves, a solid hat and the right scarf to wear, and we’ll do it with enough time left to order ’em on your lunch break.

A Warm Winter Hat: American Trench Merino Watch Cap — $85 OR J. Crew Factory Classic Cuff Knit Hat — $17

Two choices, two equally versatile pieces. Key for fighting the chill.

Two choices, two equally versatile pieces. Key for fighting the chill.

For potentially the  most important piece of clothing you throw on in the winter (cold ears are NO fun), there are two really solid choices up to bat here. It all depends on what you’re willing to spend, or what you can indeed spend. American Trench crafts everything from its equally warm socks to this merino watch cap right in America, and the quality shows. The cap itself is quite warm and stylish, to boot. The J. Crew Factory Classic Cuff Knit Hat, on the other hand, offers style that’s just as versatile, but at a much lower price.

A Stylish Scarf: Frank & Oak Chunky Merino Wool-Blend Scarf — $52

Minimal and classic at the same time for versatile style.

Minimal and classic at the same time for versatile style.

Goods from Frank & Oak really hit it out of the park most months — the brand’s monthly Hunt Club crates always pack a punch, and while the January offering is a bit light on scarves, this Merino Wool-Blend Scarf strikes a minimal balance between being classic and modern. The light grey color should fare well with most stylish topcoats and peacoats, and the color is such that it’ll still stand out up against dark charcoal or navy suiting. If that price is too much, you could reach for a J. Crew Factory plaid scarf for an extra pop of color.

Comfortable Winter Gloves: John W. Nordstrom Leather Tech Gloves — $44.75

With touchscreen functionality and in a crisp color, it's tough to beat this pair from Nordstrom's in-house brand.

With touchscreen functionality and in a crisp color, it’s tough to beat this pair from Nordstrom’s in-house brand.

Normally almost $100, these leather Nordstrom tech gloves come from the brand’s in-house line and feature a few different touches. They have what the brand calls Precise Touch functionality, so no need to take off those gloves to send out a tweet. That should also make it easier to hold onto said phone or iPod. And you’ve got your pick of either black or brown leather. The brown pair is dark enough in color that you shouldn’t necessarily worry about it clashing with black dress boots or similar items. If mixed-media gloves are more your speed, Nordstrom also stocks these Topman Harris Tweed gloves.

An On-Trend Jacket: JackThreads The Topcoat — $229

Back for round two with this JackThreads topcoat.

Back for round two with this JackThreads topcoat.

This camel JackThreads topcoat claimed the second spot in Monday’s roundup of the best men’s winter topcoats, and if you had to go with only one jacket to pair with the rest of these accessories (and use almost daily), it’d be an excellent choice. As far as topcoats go, it’s cost-effective, for starters. The color is eyecatching and on-trend (if that’s something you want to try out), yet it’ll still pair with a range of bottoms, from navy wool trousers to burgundy corduroys. It’s not a super-technical piece, to be sure, so if that’s more your speed, you might want to drop some dough on an insulating (but equally on-trend) duffle coat or a hooded parka.

Thick Winter Socks: American Trench Fair Isle Socks in Merino & Cashmere — $25

More than you'd pay for an average pair of socks -- but warmer and more stylish, too.

More than you’d pay for an average pair of socks — but warmer and more stylish, too.

If you’re not hip to American Trench by now, wait ’til you try out their socks. In addition to the merino watch cap at the top of the page, its variety of warm, well-made socks are enough to make you want to wear only pairs from American Trench — truly. When you consider that the quality and construction is such that you can wear one pair with tough winter boots or stylish dress shoes in a heartbeat, it’s an investment that pays off. While several patterns on their site would work just fine, the Fair Isle pattern is just different enough visually — plus the range of colors gives you some options. Its Wool and Silk Boot Socks are just as lux and a bit more pricey.

Looking to upgrade your winter accessories should be, above all else, a bit of an enjoyable and fun search. Yes, you want to combine functionality, style and price, and you want to do it pretty quickly — but unlike other categories in men’s clothing, there are many avenues on which to turn. Want some tweed gloves? You got ’em. Looking for some eyecatching socks? Shop away. Fancy throwing on a luxurious topcoat? That choice is yours, too. But hopefully the above staple pieces are enough to get you thinking before you shop — and before it gets too cold.

What cold-weather accessories do you find yourself reaching for the most? What pieces on this list do you still need to pick up?

 

 

Online Shopping Picks: Best Men’s Peacoats for Winter

Perhaps the most famous recent peacoat advocate -- 007. Looking sharp in a wool number from Billy Reid.

Perhaps the most famous recent peacoat advocate — 007. Looking sharp in a wool number from Billy Reid.

Just as in yesterday’s New Year’s Eve Style Suggestion, we turn (seemingly as always) to everyone’s favorite secret agent for some great style inspiration — this time, centered around the essential peacoat. Now, the seasonal change this time of year has left lots of traditional winter gear on shelves without much use. But even in the past few days, temperatures have dropped slightly in NYC — not earth-shatteringly cold, but still chillier. Winter weather style calls for taking lots of different items and pairing them together in one stylish ensemble – and that definitely starts with great outerwear. We’re looking for something thicker and less casual than a fall and winter jacket, cut slightly longer and yet not as formal as the topcoat. In this case, we’re looking for that classic, military-inspired style staple – the peacoat. Traditional peacoats were worn on the decks of naval ships to combat the rough seas, but today’s versions see action in a different set of circumstances (particularly if you’re Mr. Bond). Some are too short to wear over a blazer, but they do just fine over an array of crewneck and V-neck sweaters, henleys and other layers, and they look great with some dark denim or chinos. So with those checkpoints in mind, I set out to find some great peacoat options – so you don’t have to, my fellow busy menswear fan.  Read on, and stay stylish.


#1. JackThreads The Peacoat — $159.50

Slim, neutral and wearable with just about anything -- exactly what you should look for in a sharp peacoat.

Slim, neutral and wearable with just about anything — exactly what you should look for in a sharp peacoat.

JackThreads, as with most of the offerings in its menswear line launched this past fall, rightly focuses on doing a basic style in an essential way with its simply named peacoat. It’s cut slimmer and features those handy chest pockets in addition to the flap hip pockets, so it should work pretty easily to slip your hands into those chest pockets. It’s a wool-polyester blend, but even items from JackThreads that do feature polyester (such as the Navy Geo Sweater) don’t feel cheap or move poorly — so consider this peacoat a definite step up in quality from cheaper options, at a greatly reduced price compared to what 007 wears. Charcoal or navy color options in addition to the crisp Heather Grey make this one a keeper.

#2. Frank & Oak Double-Breasted Plaid Peacoat — $78

The plaid pattern is a bit loud, but the slim fit and the quality of Frank & Oak should definitely deliver.

The plaid pattern is a bit loud, but the slim fit and the quality of Frank & Oak should definitely deliver.

At first glance, the price on this Double-Breasted Plaid Peacoat is an eye-popper, considering it’s marked down from $225 as part of the brand’s End-of-Year Sale. That might be because of the slightly loud plaid pattern, but the navy-and-grey combo still grounds this jacket pretty nicely. It’s double-breasted and, like the JackThreads option above, features both chest pockets and hip flap pockets for warmth. This number is all-wool with a light padding, and it looks to be cut just a bit more like a blazer, so perhaps it could work atop a more casual jacket. Frank & Oak definitely delivers on quality for the price, so you can feel more confident about this $78 coat than even a more expensive H&M peacoat.

#3. J. Crew Factory Classic Peacoat in Charcoal — $135.50

A reliable budget pick-up from a reliable budget retailer.

A reliable budget pick-up from a reliable budget retailer.

While J. Crew is currently offering its Dock Coat on sale, J. Crew Factory again steps up with a reliable and classic budget option. The Classic Peacoat really is about as classic as it gets, with a true 10-button front and flannel-lined flap pockets. It looks downright sturdy and retails for a great price, and that charcoal color, while not nearly as versatile as navy, should still prove more wearable than a solid black peacoat. The fit should lean on the trim side, so that’s good news even if you do like to layer over multiple pieces.

#4. Bonobos The Bristol Peacoat — $398

A modern fit and neutral color make this very nearly worth the price tag.

A modern fit and neutral color make this very nearly worth the price tag.

Another maritime-inspired classic, the Bristol Peacoat features higher chest pockets (placed too high?) and customary hip pockets, with a few design extras (like a belted back) thrown in for good measure. It’s flannel-lined and also features lightweight quilting, so you’re looking at one jacket that’s extra warm and cut trim and modern, to boot. As with a lot of what Bonobos sells these days, it’s priced a bit above what most of us would be comfortable paying, but the versatile grey color and Italian wool construction should make it worth the asking price.

#5. Billy Reid Bond Peacoat — $795

A warm olive/brown color plus a trim fit and the same silhouette as worn by 007 -- doesn't get any better.

A warm olive/brown color plus a trim fit and the same silhouette as worn by 007 — doesn’t get any better.

The Billy Reid Bond Peacoat is on here, admittedly, for posterity – just as with the enviable but expensive Shinola leather weekender that found its way onto my list of best weekender bags. Unfortunately however, the option pictured at the very top of this post is on backorder in all but Medium and Large. Billy Reid is famous for its quality and refinement, so it’s a logical choice that this same cut of coat saw heavy play in Skyfall (and as part of the real-life wardrobe of Daniel Craig). This coat in particular is warm, slim-cut and sharp-looking with a shirt and tie or a henley and denim. Plus, the brown color (which leans more toward olive), is just different enough, but still wearable with everything from navy to heather grey and shades of tan.

While only the very lucky few can hope to emulate 007 this winter, the above options should help keep you stylish and warm in chilly weather. Check back here next week for the best winter boots to pair with your peacoat, and look after that for features on stylish winter accessories and online shopping picks for the most formal coat you can rock this winter, the topcoat. Stay warm!


Style Pick of the Week: Frank & Oak Plaid Light Flannel Shirt

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.

Another modern shirting release from Frank & Oak for consideration in your wardrobe.

Another modern shirting release from Frank & Oak for consideration in your wardrobe.

Here on The Style Guide, I write a lot about excellent seasonal pickups, from trim fall and winter blazers to slim corduroys. There’s one brand that nails some of those seasonal pickups better than the rest, though. If you’ve kept up with the digital #menswear scene and the digital pages of this blog (good for you!), you’ll recognize Frank & Oak. The brand popped up in this week’s Holiday Party Style Suggestion, and they’ve also been featured in two Hunt Club Crate reviews. However, if you’re not familiar, they’re absolutely worth a look. The Canadian retailer has made its name delivering monthly collections featuring of-the-moment looks for not a lot of money (for the most part), and they’ve also upped their retail presence significantly recently with several Canadian locations and shops Stateside in Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. for now. You can get in on those collection releases via the brand’s Hunt Club, which offers free shipping and home try-ons, and that’s a great thing considering F&O offers some of the better -value shirting on the market. Luckily, the Plaid Flannel Shirt that you see here — part of this month’s Hunt Club collection — has hit the market just in time for chillier days ahead in December and beyond.

A slim buttondown collar keeps this shirt casual yet ready to pair with like-minded lapels.

A slim buttondown collar keeps this shirt casual yet ready to pair with like-minded lapels.

At just $48, it’s priced higher than something from the likes of J. Crew Factory but comes in lower than a blue J. Crew flannel shirt — yet one could argue the quality of Frank & Oak’s shirts is definitely on-par with the big-brother brand. This Frank & Oak shirt has just as many positives to it as a more expensive piece — combine a trim fit with a rather understated plaid pattern and a casual buttondown collar, and you’ve got a shirt that can pull double-duty under a herringbone blazer during the week and atop a henley and some navy cargo pants on the weekends. The slim collar is an oft-overlooked aspect of some shirts, too — in this case, that helps it pair just fine visually with a thin-lapel blazer (as most suiting leans that ways these days). And the color and styling potential is such that it’s a nice upgrade from a typical buttondown — injecting some pattern where you might normally go with a solid shirt is always a good call. Here’s hoping this finds its way into your stocking this holiday season — or into your closet before then.

What’s your shopping experience been like with Frank & Oak? What’s your take on this shirt and how would you style it?

Online Shopping Picks: Cyber Monday Deals

Doing any shopping this Cyber Monday? Have that credit card at the ready, and shop responsibly.

Doing any shopping this Cyber Monday? Have that credit card at the ready, and shop responsibly.

Editor’s note: For a full rundown of shopping picks from plenty of brands, be sure to click here.

While some brands have taken a step back from the madness that is both Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and kudos to the folks from REI and elsewhere), others have been going full-tilt on sales since the week before Thanksgiving. So shopping around these times should always be about balance. Having covered some Black Friday madness in my past life as a student journalist, it’s certainly stuck with me, and the same craziness can still apply to online shopping when brands push deals so early. I’ll definitely be doing some shopping too, and my thought is this: Check out the brands you like, peruse through the offerings and if you’ve shopped there before and had your eye on something — now’s the time to get it while saving some cash. It’s also a great time to find out about new brands, who often offer nice deals to entice shoppers. What follows below is a rundown of brands that meet the tricky balance between quality and price — so there are some familiar names, to be sure. Yet, that dependability and reliability can be welcome in the world of online shopping. What deals do you have your eye on? Let me know and thanks for reading! Happy shopping.

The Deals:

Frank & Oak: Extra 15% Off Sale Items with Code EXITROW; New Customers Get 25% Off First Purchase with code FNOFIRST25

What To Look For: Discount Knitwear, Tailored Wear & Sweaters

A glenplaid sweater and a colorblocked henley are but two of the picks you should look for from Frank & Oak.

A glenplaid sweater and a colorblocked henley are but two of the picks you should look for from Frank & Oak.

So these guys have two deals going — their regular deal for first-time customers (25% off your first order) and then that extra 15% off sale items discount. Frank & Oak always seems to nail it with its monthly Hunt Club Crate launches, and particularly its nice mix of classic and on-trend styles across the board. And now is as good a time as any to hop on a statement piece, like this unique Prince of Wales Wool Blend Sweater at a reduced price, or some solid knitwear like the above henley. This chambray blazer also wouldn’t be a bad bet, either (although only two sizes are left — get the full rundown of sale picks here).  On the shirting front, there are some decent picks available (like this Blended Plaid Shirt), although sizes on sale items are going EXTREMELY quickly A solid selection of ties and small accessories shouldn’t be overlooked, either.
Florsheim

J. Crew Factory: 50% Off Everything Sitewide; Free Shipping on Orders of $50 or more w/ code SHIPGIFTS

What To Look For: Casual Shirting and Sweaters

An on-trend pick, and a classic pick -- both at agreeable prices from JCF.

An on-trend pick, and a classic pick — both at agreeable prices from JCF.

J. Crew Factory indeed does get things right when it comes to the balance of quality and price they provide — some of the items on-tap are mighty similar to what J. Crew itself produces. The brand’s sales are notable for both their frequency and the markdowns they provide, and this year’s offering is no different — they made this list last year for that same reason. And if it’s a basic wardrobe refresher you need, something like the slim washed shirt pictured on the right would be a very solid, four-season purchase for under $30. Conversely, if you wanted to dip your toes into a trendier style without throwing down a lot of money, the brand has this sharp Fair Isle number on tap.

Bonobos: 30% Off Sitewide w/ Code MONDAY (Up to 60% Off Sitewide)

What To Look For: Splurge Outerwear and Knitwear

A killer topcoat and a killer henley, both items you should consider picking up on sale.

A killer topcoat and a killer henley, both items you should consider picking up on sale.

There’s no question that Bonobos’ product offering and design has expanded markedly from the stellar pants it started out selling (in the interest of full disclosure, I interned for the brand in 2014, but that in no way impacts my view of them). For as great as that’s been, some of the brand’s prices are still just a bit much. That’s why, given the discount they’re offering, it makes sense to pick up a staple piece of outerwear like the Mainline Topcoat. It’s an elevated take on a topcoat you can wear with everything from a grey crewneck sweater to a crisp blazer.  And yes even with that 30% off code, it’s pricey. But it’s a great investment piece. And a heads-up that you can knock 35% off your purchase of $500 — so maybe throw in a pair of socks? In that same vein, the brand’s knitwear is well-made yet also often pricey — this is another time to perhaps snag a more expensive piece you’ve had your eye on, like this waffle henley or a reliable and warm-looking navy bomber jacket. Of course, don’t sleep on the brand’s classic chinos or its corduroys or versatile brushed buttondown shirts.

JackThreads: 50% Off JackThreads Cashmere Crew & Vee Sweaters; Various Sale Deals [90% Off Warehouse Items, 70% Off Outerwear, 60% Off Boots and More]

What To Look For: JackThreads Collection + Third-Party Footwear

You can snag two sweaters for the price of one from JackThreads' new menswear line.

You can snag two sweaters for the price of one from JackThreads’ new menswear line. Photo courtesy of the brand.

JackThreads is yet another brand that made last year’s Cyber Monday shopping list, and it only makes sense — the E-commerce retailer has done a great job launching its own line while still dishing out some nice third-party goods. Exhibit A in that regard are the boots that Crevo has produced for the site — that’s a solid, rubber-sole captoe for under $70, along with a whole host of other footwear brands, including some decent-looking J75 chukkas for under $50 (sizes are going way quick, though). Of course, the brand’s newly launched menswear line is nothing to laugh at either — those cashmere crew and V-neck sweaters are an insane steal at just a shade under $50, with 33 colorways available. On another note, taking a swing through the site’s sale section can offer up some great deals, too (as much as 90% off in some cases).

Ben Sherman US

Where Else To Look: Old Navy (40% Off Everything, No Exclusions), Target (30% Off New Styles & More)  & H&M (20% Off Orders of $25 Or More w/ Code 2020, 30% Off Orders of $30 Or More w/ Code 3030, 40% Off Already-Reduced Sale Items w/ Code 4040)

A striped henley from Target, a solid chambray from Old Navy and basic sweats from H&M -- all with the chance for discounts today.

A striped henley from Target, a solid chambray from Old Navy and basic sweats from H&M — all with the chance for discounts today.

With so many brands offering up a multitude of discounts and sales for such a huge shopping day, there’s a lot to sort through in terms of getting a great deal and a quality product. Target is one such outlet that’s upped its menswear game in recent years, as has Old Navy. Both brands are always worth a look if you need budget knitwear, like henleys or pocket tees (case in point: this striped Target Merona Henley for under $10). Old Navy’s denim even stacks up decently well in terms of quality for the price, and that 40% discount brings the price down below $23 (look for something slim with some built-in stretch); plus, its chambray shirts are a solid pickup. So to snag an item (or two or five) at further discounts could set you up well if you need a bit of a style upgrade for the holidays. A place like H&M is now pushing items at even deeper discounts for Cyber Monday (witness that 60% off Black Friday deal they just offered), so sales are an optimal time to pick up a trendier piece or just a basic pair of sweatpants for not a lot of dough — and given that quality can sometimes be suspect, it’s always good to keep some cash in your wallet.

And it’s worth one final mention that more premium retailers like Todd Snyder often offer up sale items at even further discounts than usual — this writer was able to snag a sweater for $50 that was originally priced at $175 last year. The same can be said of some of the more premium American brands we all know and love, like Allen Edmonds (sale shoes as low as $125) and Apolis (20% off sitewide through the end of Monday). If you’re in need of a less dressy footwear upgrade, Brooklyn’s own GREATS has a series of tiered deals going on throughout the day, including some discounts on its premium Italian-made sneakers. Move quickly and you might be able to solidly restock and refresh your wardrobe with enough leftover for Christmas gifts (hopefully).

How much Cyber Monday shopping will you be doing this year? What go-to brands do you look for?

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Style Suggestion: Thanksgiving Day

All ready to pack up next week? Slim Mailbag by Satchel and Page. Stowaway Weekender Bag by Navali.

All ready to pack up next week? Slim Mailbag by Satchel and Page. Stowaway Weekender Bag by Navali.

Editor’s note: For past Style Suggestions covering Turkey Day, head here.

It’s hard to believe that as I type this post, we’re looking at the third — yes, third — Style Suggestion covering Thanksgiving Day on The Style Guide. Only three, you say? Well, it feels like more than that — it’s been a great journey, with a big move to NYC and some job changes interspersed among all that, and it’s one that I’m thankful for every day. That, of course, includes the cool brands I get to work with and much more importantly, the awesome, engaging people who read this site!

And none of it would be possible without the support and love of my family & friends (some of whom might be reading this post — Hi, guys!). So in the run-up to the holiday next week, that’s what’ll be on my mind. But as to what’s on your mind — hopefully that centers around being quite thankful, too. But, say perhaps your thoughts on are what to wear, or the travel gear you should pack to get to your holiday destination? That’s what we’re covering below — and we’re keeping things casual-crisp in this Style Suggestion. Take a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

The Sweater: Frank & Oak Horizontal Cable Sweater in Navy — $66

A horizontal knit and herringbone texture keep this sweater quite visually appealing.

Frank & Oak is a brand that continually gets a lot of things right, something that’s quite tricky to do when you balance putting out monthly collections  with adding to a growing brick-and-mortar presence. But they do it quite well, particularly when it comes to churning out staple fall & winter layering pieces. This reasonably priced cotton sweater nails that equation — it’s cut trim in a sharp, neutral color, yet the formality is toned down by cable knitting; that touch also gives it a good bit of visual interest. It’s less formal than a crisp merino V-neck, so if that’s the way your holiday situation is shaking out, you might want to reach for one of those instead. Conversely, adding in a nice knit tie could dress things up in a pinch if need be.

The Shirt: UNIQLO Slim-Fit Long-Sleeve Oxford — $19.90 (On-Sale)

Keep it simple and crisp with the classic white OCBD for Thanksgiving.

Keep it simple and crisp with the classic white OCBD for Thanksgiving.

UNIQLO continues to rightfully earn its status as a maker of basics that hold up pretty well for the price, and that extends to its shirts in this case. When these are on-sale — and even when they aren’t — they’re an excellent value. The slim fit white Oxford shown here does indeed fit nice and trim, and like most UNIQLO products, these should have some decent stretch built in (more on why that stretch important when we get to the pants). The white Oxford is a style basic that stands up to the challenge of Thanksgiving — it’s likely a day spent in someone else’s home around a special occasion, so it helps to look polished. Yet, it’s not overly dressy, and it seems Thanksgiving is a good holiday to try out going tieless. Yes, it’s a navy sweater-plus-white shirt combo up top, but the texture of the sweater ups the ante.

The Pants: JackThreads Slim Corduroy Pant — $59.50

A basic corduroy that nails the affordability-quality equation and provides nice, er, function for the holiday.

A basic corduroy that nails the affordability-quality equation and provides nice, er, function for the holiday.

This particular pair of pants might seem quite familiar if you’ve perused this blog as of late; they were the top pick in a feature on the best men’s corduroys for fall and winter, and they’re back this go-round. They combine a slim, modern fit, a versatile color and perhaps most importantly for this holiday, a hint of stretch built in (y’know, for all that physical activity you’ll be undertaking on Thanksgiving). However, any pair of corduroys from this list could feasibly work. At any rate, cords will add another dose of texture to the outfit while still appearing a bit more formal than dark denim would, yet they’re not as dressy as some grey trousers — that’ll work well with the fact that we (or just you?) are going tieless here.

The Shoes: Thursday Boots Chocolate Suede Scout Boot — $149

A Goodyear welt, a sharp brown suede color and a slim silhouette make these chukkas look pricier than they are -- a nice addition to the outfit.

A Goodyear welt, a sharp brown suede color and a slim silhouette make these chukkas look pricier than they are — a nice addition to the outfit.

When you take one look at this shoe, you might think it retails for almost twice what it does. The Scout line of chukka boots is a recent introduction from Thursday Boots, and the Chocolate Suede Scout Boot really does look like something else (note that they also come in a crisp Brown Leather option). Thursday Boots, while the target of some criticisms, has provided this author with good quality over time as far as my Roughout Captain Boots are concerned, so we’ll stick with the brand here. On a style points note, these definitely look like something James Bond might’ve worn back in Quantum of Solace. And they’re a worthy pick to finish off this outfit, too — the silhouette makes them less obtrusive than a work boot, and the suede tones down the formality appropriately. Yet, they’re still dressier than crisp sneakers (as great as those can be to wear). That’s what we’re going for here, ultimately.

The Belt: Land’s End Distressed Vintage Jean Belt — $39.00

Go for a bit of visual interest with your belt, as with the rest of your outfit, and you'll be pleased with the results.

Go for a bit of visual interest with your belt, as with the rest of your outfit, and you’ll be pleased with the results.

If at first you experience some sticker shock over the price of this belt, rest assured — it’ll be alright. Paying a bit more for an item you can get lots of wear out of — potentially even every day of the week — is a very solid investment. And if you find yourself dressing in a manner similar to this outfit a lot, a belt with some rugged distressing is one you can reach for over and over. The roughed-up, full-grain leather continues to add a dose of texture to this ensemble in a situation where one could easily reach for a sleeker, and more expensive, dress belt. Not to worry that it doesn’t match up with the dark brown suede — it’s perfectly acceptable to break that rule when you’ve got suede shoes.

The Watch: Timex Waterbury Chronograph — $100

Design details like the aged-looking leather strap and the rugged-refined dial pair nicely with the rest of this outfit.

Design details like the aged-looking leather strap and the rugged-refined dial pair nicely with the rest of this outfit.

Timex hits the nail right on the head with a watch that’s rugged and refined, decently dressy but still acceptably casual and more importantly, ideal for the holiday — all for $100. The Waterbury line was introduced earlier this year to play off the brand’s heritage (and perhaps challenge brands like Shinola?), and it stands to reason that they’ve grabbed some customers with a lower price point and pretty good looks, to boot. The brown dial and aged brown leather strap match up nicely with the overall smart-casual vibe of the outfit. Plus, the strap itself adds some nice texture to an outfit that’s already quite full of it, from the corduroy pants to the cable-knit sweater and the suede boots. Plus, it’ll keep the time well and stand up to a reasonable game of backyard football.

The Socks: American Trench Fall Triple Stripes Sock — $14.50

Complementary colors and a breathable blend of recycled cotton make these socks comfortable AND stylish.

Complementary colors and a breathable blend of recycled cotton make these socks comfortable AND stylish.

If you aren’t yet sold on American Trench, it’s a brand that you absolutely should consider checking out. They’ve popped up here in a Style Q&A , and that gives some great insight into who they are as a brand. In short for the uninitiated: they source premium fabrics and construct their socks (and other gear, like merino watch caps) in U.S. factories, so the price that you pay is more than worth it. And in this particular instance, the Triple Stripe Sock adds a nice complimentary color scheme to the overall outfit without detracting too much from each individual piece. Plus, these socks are comfortable and crafted from a breathable blend of cotton — all too crucial if you slip off the shoes and pad to the kitchen for that second (or third) serving at halftime.

So that’s what’s in the books as far as this Style Suggestion goes — remember above all else that no matter what you wear next week, it’s about celebrating the day with the people you love, and being thankful for what’s on your plate. That’s something that definitely transcends style.

With that said though — thanks, as always, for reading.

Stay stylish,

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

Florsheim

What to Wear Today: A Fall-Ready Leather Jacket

Editor’s note: For other What To Wear Today features, head here.

A sold-out style via Taylor Stitch that gets a lot of the details right when it comes to the perfect leather jacket.

A sold-out style via Taylor Stitch that gets a lot of the details right when it comes to the perfect leather jacket.

While we talked fairly recently on The Style Guide about how to transition your style into fall, there’s one key move that can really help you up your fall style game. In addition to looking for items that incorporate more texture into an outfit — like a thicker watch strap or some roughout leather boots — there’s one piece that adds instant style cred to any ensemble. I touched on the importance of a great fall jacket pretty recently, and when you reach for leather outerwear, it’s a gamechanger. There’s a whole host of styles within that leather jacket family that you can reach for, from shearling coats to more classic racer styles, but one thing’s for sure — a leather jacket is no ordinary piece of outerwear. If you do fancy a substantially deeper dive, head on over to my buddy Barron’s Web site Effortless Gent for a fantastic primer on what sets certain leather jackets apart from the rest; know that for now, it’s a piece that’s dressier than a denim jacket, cooler than a blazer and just as ready for tailored gear as casual wear.

A modern update to a classic style via J. Crew. That's exactly how your leather jacket should fit.

A modern update to a classic style via J. Crew. That’s exactly how your leather jacket should fit.

While some might associate leather jackets with poorly fitting versions of old, a great leather jacket nowadays is cut slim and trim, like your aforementioned favorite blazer. While the style shown at the top from Taylor Stitch has unfortunately been pre-funded and isn’t up for sale, it does a nice job of capturing what you want in your leather jacket. It doesn’t feature too many bells and whistles, unlike some styles. While black leather jackets favored by rock stars and the like can actually be pretty cool, it might not be the best pick to reach for if you want to wear a leather jacket in place of a blazer. No, the best leather jackets are slim, trim and clean-cut. The Wallace & Barnes MA-1 Jacket from J. Crew gets it right. It’s prohibitively expensive, to be sure, but it’s a classic silhouette that can be dressed up with some grey wool trousers or dressed down with dark denim and a henley. If you’re looking to closely replicate that style for far less, grab this number from H&M — but be warned, it’s probably not the highest quality. ASOS also stocks a plethora of leather jacket options, but some look pretty questionable as far as quality goes.

Ben Sherman US

Shearling is also having a moment right now when it comes to leather jackets — it’s another classic tough-guy style that’s gotten a modern update thanks to a slimmer silhouette (and a higher price tag). J. Crew again nails this style with this sherpa-collar number from Wallace & Barnes, yet the price of that one piece alone is enough to make most of us turn and run. And therein lies the difficulty if you decide to go the shearling route — there simply aren’t many cheap shearling options out there. It seems that wool-blend jackets with shearling accents represent a more affordable option (particularly this Golden Bear piece for Club Monaco), but that’s not really why we’re here, is it?

While not technically a leather jacket, this wool bomber from Frank & Oak gets the details right.

While not technically a leather jacket, this wool bomber from Frank & Oak gets the details right.

So be prepared to pay more if you throw on additional, pricier accents like shearling. Suede presents another take on the classic leather jacket — but like the J. Crew bomber as featured in my latest Effortless Gent piece, there aren’t exactly all that many cheap suede bomber options out there, either  (take, for example, this $1,800 Club Monaco jacket). And you know when James Bond steps out in a suede bomber, it’s a costly trend worth watching. Yet, the biggest key when searching for (and styling) a leather jacket still revolves around looking for a sustainable investment. For example, Frank & Oak, whose monthly Hunt Club crates are always a hit, produces what looks like to be a nice leather bomber  for about half of what J. Crew charges, although sizes are going very quickly. Some of its wool-and-leather varsity bombers (pictured above) made in partnership with Golden Bear also look to be a very solid bet.

And while a varsity bomber might not be the ideal leather jacket style, it can still be dressed up or down in the same way as a pricier leather piece. Contrasting pieces that add in cold-weather texture, like a knit tie or waffle henley, are going to stand up to the style just fine. The same goes for suede bombers, too.

Stick in the same color family when wearing an edgier moto jacket and you'll be just like Beckham. Well, maybe not just like him...

Stick in the same color family when wearing an edgier moto jacket and you’ll be just like Beckham. Well, maybe not just like him…

And if by some chance you do get your hands on a more classic leather jacket, any number of styling combinations are at your disposal. Try out a crisp moto jacket with  solid tee, a la Mr. Beckham, and consider yourself set for a night out on the town. Conversely, you can pair a classic Harrington-style leather jacket with a white Oxford and navy knit tie — that Club Monaco option is pricey, without a doubt, but you get the idea. Rocking a slightly edgier jacket in place of say, a more traditional fall coat is a style move that can really represent a big forward step — picking up a versatile piece of outerwear and being able to pair it with everything from casual to sharp combos is the mark of a good investment. If you shop right, you might end up looking like Mr. Beckham up there.

Do you own a leather jacket? How do you feel about this fall style move?

Cross-country: Heading West for a weekend in L.A.

Polka dots popping out. Taking my favorite Saturdays Surf NYC shirt and my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag. Luggage tag by Frank & Oak.

Polka dots popping out. Taking my favorite Saturdays Surf NYC shirt and my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag. Luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

Editor’s note: For more travel style dispatches, head here.

Out of the major American (and international) cities I’ve visited, I have perhaps the fondest memories of Los Angeles — and I only spent about twelve hours there. The last time I was in the L.A. area was, without question, one of the best weekends of my life — a trip West as part of a graduation gift to watch my beloved Michigan State Spartans take down Stanford in a legendary Rose Bowl game. I slept on a hotel room floor, edited stories from my phone as part of my work at The State News (MSU’s student newspaper) and basked in the glow of a historic school moment. Spending the next day driving around L.A. with my newspaper colleagues was particularly momentous after such a great win. But I quickly realized the city had more to offer — and when one of my best high school & college friends headed West earlier this year, I knew I had to make it back. So that’s where this weekend is set to take me — and as always, I resolved to travel in style despite the promise of pretty sweltering Los Angeles weather. (Let’s call this trip #StyleGuideLosAngeles, shall we?)

Three options for hot weather, pictured top to bottom -- lightweight JACHS NY grey chinos, flexible Mott & Bow dark denim and lightweight linen shorts from Frank & Oak.

Three options for hot weather, pictured top to bottom — lightweight JACHS NY grey chinos, flexible Mott & Bow dark denim and lightweight linen shorts from Frank & Oak.

I’m bringing along a good mix of product to combat the heat, starting with some linen shorts from Frank & Oak (as pictured above and detailed in this April post). I’m also bringing along a pair of Banana Republic khaki shorts and my Pistol Lake French Terry Sweatshorts, a seasonally-appropriate pickup from a brand that just happens to be based in L.A. They should pair nicely with one of my Pistol Lake V-neck tees. And that get-up should in turn go well with my ever-reliable GREATS Brand Rosen sneakers, a pair I’ve come to rely on in all sorts of situations. They’re exceptionally comfortable and work to dress down a blazer and T-shirt (a combination I’ll likely be wearing on the plane, as I’m heading to the airport after a half-day at work — #WheelsUp!). And should those sneakers need some time out of the rotation, I’m sure my GREATS Brand Wilson sneakers in White will definitely get the job done with multiple pant options.

Travel essentials for a cross-country trip. Russel Baseball Jacket by Grayers. Navy sneakers by GREATS Brand. Socks by American Trench. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Dive watch by Invicta. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Dopp kit by Baxter of California.

Travel essentials for a cross-country trip. Russel Baseball Jacket by Grayers. Navy sneakers by GREATS Brand. Socks by American Trench. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Dive watch by Invicta. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Dopp kit by Baxter of California.

On that front, I’m anticipating the weather to be quite hot — so my Mott & Bow dark denim should pair well with my Rust V-neck from Pistol Lake (check out that shirt here) and my navy GREATS sneakers. However, I’m ready to sub in my JACHS NY grey chinos, which are about the same weight as a Bonobos Washed Chino, should the situation call for it. I think the dark denim in particular will also team up nicely with two shirting options I’m bringing — my polka-dot Saturdays Surf NYC Esquina Oxford (from the Spring 2014 line), and my Michael Bastian x Uniqlo polo, featuring a nice royal blue color and a thin striped collar The polo in particular (seen more closely here) has a nice bit of stretch and a breathable fabric, key in the heat. My Mott & Bow denim should also do well in that regard. In case the weather does turn cooler, I’m bringing my trusty Russel Baseball Jacket from Grayers (as seen above), which should provide a crisp, versatile outerwear option. On my head, I’ll be throwing on my Goorin Brothers vintage ballcap — a favorite from a brand that really does know how to make great hats. To round out my apparel, some standout socks from American Trench (as discussed in this week’s Style Q&A) will definitely prove breathable and comfortable. Of course, no trip would be complete with a great timepiece — I’m expecting my stainless steel Invicta Pro Diver 8926 and my Classic Bristol Leather Watch from Daniel Wellington to work interchangeably with footwear I’m bringing (particularly my well-worn brown leather Coulter Chukkas — courtesy of my day job repping Timberland).

Grooming gear fit for the road ahead. Featuring Beard Oil & Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott, Shampoo from Baxter of Californina and the Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer.

Grooming gear fit for the road ahead. Featuring Beard Oil & Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott, Shampoo from Baxter of Californina and the Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer.

To round out my luggage and grooming situation, I’m hauling everything in, as ever, my Navali Stowaway Weeekender Bag and my hard-wearing Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag, both of which have provided formidable and tough options for carrying luggage across the globe. And as toiletries are just as key when traveling as at home, I’m rounding up some essentials to bring with me (in travel sizes, of course). My haul will include the Travel Essentials Kit from grooming giant Baxter of California, as well as some Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott and my Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer. I’ll be lugging it all in the Baxter Quilted Dopp Kit, which should make things easy to access throughout the trip. While I’m looking forward to sampling the finest food & drink *namely beer, can’t forget about the beer* that L.A. has to offer, I’m also hoping to meet with a brand I admire and whom I’ve interacted with a bit in the past — the fine folks at Apolis. After seeing a press preview of a neat industrial design project they’re working on, plus profiling  them for VOUCH Mag and GearHungry, it’s a definitely a cool opportunity.
Florsheim
As always, look for the regularly scheduled Friday Read post before I jet-set, along with a new Style Pick of the Week. Follow me during the trip via Instagram and Twitter, if that catches your fancy! And look for more from out West next week.

And do let me know — what’s on your must-see list in L.A.? Best restaurants or spots to check out? Drop me a line via Twitter or give me a shout in the comments!

Ben Sherman US

Style Upgrade: Sharp Sneakers

Editor’s note: This is the third in an ongoing series covering quick and easy upgrades to dilemmas a guy might face once in a while. For more entries in the series, click here.

There's still a good amount of time for short sleeves -- and a great pair of sneakers. Short-sleeve shirt by H&M. Slim chinos by Frank & Oak. Navy suede sneakers by GREATS Brand.

There’s still a good amount of time for short sleeves — and a great pair of sneakers. Short-sleeve shirt by H&M. Slim chinos by Frank & Oak. Navy suede sneakers by GREATS Brand.

Before you double-check your calendar, we’re definitely diving into sneakers right now on The Style Guide — even as it gets closer to October and boot season. Lest you think that means it’s time to shelve your sneakers, it’s far from it — there are plenty of ways sneakers can be styled sharply (particularly if they’re crafted from nice leather or sturdy canvas — like the pairs you’ll read about below). It seems so many brands are making sneakers now, it’s tough to keep track — from venerable institutions like Rancourt & Co. to newer, digital-focused upstarts like Gustin (more on both of those brands in a bit). That’s precisely why sneakers are such a great style upgrade. When premium brands make sneakers fit for wearing with everything from chinos to dark denim, it’s worth taking notice. My friend Madhav of Wardrobe Domination covered great men’s sneakers in detail earlier this year, so if you’ve need some shopping suggestions, that post is also worth a look.

Switching out your sneakers doesn't have to mean reaching for something flashy -- a classic pair of white captoes (like the GREATS Wilson) can do the trick. Short-sleeve buttondown by Saturdays Surf NYC. Lightwash jeans by J. Crew. Glasses by Warby Parker.

Switching out your sneakers doesn’t have to mean reaching for something flashy — a classic pair of white captoes (like the GREATS Wilson) can do the trick. Short-sleeve buttondown by Saturdays Surf NYC. Lightwash jeans by J. Crew. Glasses by Warby Parker.

Switching out some tired running sneakers is just one step on the path to better style, and it requires small changes, bit by bit. It doesn’t have to require a lot of money, though. And maybe you’re just looking for a different pair of kicks. That’s why it never hurts to reach for a fail-safe classic in a low-key color if you’re switching out your kicks — that fail-safe classic is, in this case, a revamped style. Yes, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II  release was much-hyped earlier this summer, and with good reason — it’s a functional update to a style that looks right with all kinds of casual (and even business-casual outfits). Other newer brands are also taking on the captoe sneaker silhouette and competing admirably — GREATS and its Wilson sneaker certainly come to mind. And as the weather ramps up for most of us, a trusty leather high-top sneaker can provide nearly as much durability (in some climates) as a leather boot — take, for instance, the Royale High from GREATS as detailed in this site’s recent Fall Style Wish List post.

Two different takes on a sneaker, both sold by J. Crew.

Two different takes on a sneaker, both sold by J. Crew.

Among other high-top sneaker offerings, the Canvas SK8-Hi from Vans is a classic style that many seem to love — that side stripe sets things off just visually enough, too. With so many sneaker options out there, sometimes it’s nice just to have everything in one spot — take J. Crew, for example. The much-maligned retailer really does offer a ridiculous amount of sneaker options , from the decidedly sportier Nike Killshot (still a worthy upgrade from running shoes) to high-top suede sneakers with minimal details crafted in Africa (as seen above). The pair on the right would look particularly killer with some dark denim and a charcoal blazer. And that’s the beauty of a great pair of sneakers — they can be worn just as you would a fine pair of stylish dress shoes if you nail the fit and proportion of the rest of the outfit.

A look at a low-top sneaker that Gustin produced earlier this year. Many of the brand's current high-top options are funding quickly.

A look at a low-top sneaker that Gustin produced earlier this year. Many of the brand’s current high-top options are funding quickly.

If you still find yourself in the market for a more basic, beater-type pair (say, if you happen to live in a warmer-weather area), the SeaVees Army Issue Low should offer what you’re looking for. On that note, places like Urban Outfitters sell standard-yet-sharp styles like low-cut, gum-sole Vans for under $60. But, if you’re in need of a truly durable and higher-cut sneaker, Gustin is definitely worth a look — the brand is pre-funding opportunities for pairs of its Italian-made sneakers (like these stellar Blue Gum Sole High Top Sneakers), although the majority of those styles won’t ship until next year (bummer!). But if it’s a quicker purchasing turnaround you’re in the market for, keep an eye on Frank & Oak and the brand’s monthly collections — its most recent September offering included a full lineup of excellent-looking leather sneakers.
Ernest Alexander
Not to be outdone by classic brands, even luxury companies are getting in on the sneaker game — it’s safe to say the Tom Ford Orford Sneaker is just one of any number of options outside the typical Style Guide budget. Of course, no mention of sneakers in this day and age is complete without paying homage (or at least linking to?) the style that begat a thousand copycats — the Common Projects Achilles Low.  It’s expensive, it’s minimal and it’s one pair that really deserves exceptional care.

Upgrading or switching out your sneakers doesn’t have to be ludicrously expensive or painful though — the key is finding a style that fits your lifestyle, ideally one that can be dressed up or down (that’s where sharp leather sneakers from brands like GREATS or Frank & Oak come in). And sneakers can complement other style upgrades, too — there are few places where slim denim and a nice pair of sneakers can’t go.

What’s your go-to pair of sneakers? And how would you style an upgraded pair of nice kicks? Let me know!

Want more style musings throughout the day (who doesn’t??). Follow me on Twitter @BoKnowsClothes.

Florsheim