#OOTD: The Best Way to Wear Shorts this Summer

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 will take one great item and put together a versatile, stylish outfit around it. Look for past features here.

We’ve covered lots of ground here in past #OOTD posts on The Style Guide, but it seems we’ve skipped over a crucial style tip — the best way to wear shorts when it’s hot out. If you’re anything like me, it can sometimes be tricky to put away your denim, be it a slim pair of light wash jeans or something darker in color. They’re an easy style to wear across any season, to be sure — but from time to time, the weather really just calls for shorts. However, we’re not talking baggy cargo shorts. The best shorts for summer are more tailored in cut, lighter in terms of weight and fabric, and able to be worn with everything from a slim pocket T-shirt to a crisp polo and most styles in between. The same goes for the footwear you can match ’em with (and the pick you see below is a bit of a style swerve). The versatility of a slim pair of shorts is great news for all of us, particularly if you like your #menswear a bit more eye-catching.  And if you’re hesitant to ditch your denim or chinos because shorts feel too casual, know that you can take some risks when wearing tailored shorts (click that there link for tips). The below outfit starts things off slow, though. It’s one of the best ways to wear shorts this summer — at least in the opinion of your humble author.

Step 1: Buy shorts for summer. Step 2: Rock shorts for summer using this #OOTD.

Step 1: Buy shorts for summer. Step 2: Rock shorts for summer using this #OOTD.

The Shorts: JackThreads Chino Shorts, $39 — If you haven’t yet snagged a pair of chino shorts, these should be your go-to. Trying them on is free through the brand’s TryOuts program, and the fit and fabric should be reliable and stylish.

The Shirt: JACHS NY Cream-and-Blue Horizontal Striped Short-Sleeve Shirt, $89 — Upgrade from a casual T-shirt with an easygoing short-sleeve number that fits slim and broadens your chest thanks to the stylish stripes.

The Shoes: Jack Erwin Parker Driving Loafer in Navy Suede, $115 — We all love our stylish sneakers, but give some suede driving loafers a try. This particular pair is cut long and lean, and the navy color is especially sleek.

The Socks: Ministry of Supply Atlas No-show Socks, $11.98 — As crucial as it is to get your footwear choice right, it’s even more essential to grab some no-show socks to complement those kicks (especially driving loafers). Note that although the Grey color is shown in that photo, Black is what’s in stock now.
 The Belt: Arcade Belt Co. The Hudson Belt, $31.98 — So, you’ve got the shorts all set; don’t forget about a belt, particularly an upscale accessory that incorporates a neutral color and summer-appropriate texture.
The Watch: Invicta 8926 Pro Diver, $84.14 — Tough, reliable and stylish is the way to go; this is a casual watch that still looks crisp and plays off the rest of the outfit perfectly.
The Sunglasses: Randolph Engineering Aviator Sunglasses in Gunmetal, $209.98 — To top off an outfit that’s got a bit of flourish (particularly those driving loafers), grab some classic men’s sunglasses.
The Necessary Accessory: Manda Organic Sun Paste, $28.98 — When it comes to getting out this summer, taking care of your skin is a must. Doing so in an organic fashion is even better.
The Everyday Carry: Appointed Mini-Jotter, $9.98 — Not everyone is partial to writing things down, what with technology everywhere, but when out on a casual weekend, it can be great to have a notebook handy to jot down your passing thoughts.

 Making the leap to wearing shorts more frequently than denim or chinos can be a work in progress, even when it’s warm out. But grabbing a slim, stylish pair in a neutral color allows you to pair them easily with essentials you’d also rock with classic denim — like a short-sleeve shirt, a casual watch and loafers, for example. And when you take the approach that khaki shorts can work with everything from a T-shirt to a classic Oxford shirt, that opens another world of possibilities (heading to the office for a half-day? Try out shorts with a blazer — perhaps).  Plus, keeping things affordable and simple helps when finding out the pair that’s best for you can help  a great deal. Are you on board yet? Good. For more tips on how to style shorts this summer, head on over to my Instagram, or jump on over to Twitter if you’ve got other summer shorts picks.

Frank & Oak

#OOTD: Styling an Essential Chambray Shirt

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.

The best part about spring style — other than the fact that it’s, well, finally warm out — is the way in which you can take pieces you’d wear the rest of the year and still combine them into a weather-friendly outfit (that is, not too hot and not too cold). In this instance, we’re talking casual-yet-crisp basics like the essential chambray shirt and an always-classic pair of slim khaki chinos, brought together in this instance by a pair of sharp-as-heck suede wingtips. Yes, this outfit has something for everyone — whether you’re on the hunt for a pair of stylish men’s dress shoes like the below, or simply searching for another way to wear gear you’ve already got, it’s about time you brought it all together. That’s what we’ll focus on below — for other #menswear-centric outfit inspirations, check out what we’ve got going on over at Pinterest or via The Style Guide on Facebook; I’m always up for more #OOTD suggestions, too. So, let’s roll up those (chambray) shirt sleeves and get to work!
Florsheim

A few items -- like a four-season chambray shirt and classic (yet slim) chinos -- are pulled together by crisp wingtips and a great jacket.

A few items — like a four-season chambray shirt and classic (yet slim) chinos — are pulled together by crisp wingtips and a great jacket.

The Shirt: JackThreads Chambray Shirt, $39 — As essential and easy of a pick to make as it gets, JackThreads really knows what’s up when it comes to well-done basics that are crazy-affordable. Start with your favorite chambray shirt, and go from there.

The Jacket: Grayers Exmouth Nylon Blazer, $135 — Part blazer, part jacket and very spring-ready, this piece doubles as a rain coat should you need to bike, walk or run to work through a downpour (or if, y’know, you just fancy picking up a hybrid piece of outerwear).

The Chinos: Buck Mason Sand Chinos, $135 — An investment-worthy pair of chinos from a brand that excels at crafting stellar pieces in the U.S.A., you should be able to wear these for years on end.

The Shoes: M.Gemi Forte Wingtips in Dune, $248 — An average pair of wingtips, these are not. Superbly crafted, rich in color and somehow still featuring a sporty white sole, say hello to your favorite pair of summer dress shoes.

The Socks: Pair of Thieves Catch-22 No-Show Socks, $10 — Reliable no-show socks that don’t stick out from underneath those rolled chinos are going to push this outfit into warm-weather territory.

The Watch: Invicta 8926 Pro Diver, $68.75 — This watch has long been a Style Guide favorite, and with plenty good reason: Standout looks, a tremendous price and great durability. It’s the right mix of rugged and casual here.

The Belt: J. Crew Braided Cotton Belt, $29.50 — Swap out a brown leather dress belt for something lighter in color and made with spring in mind.

The Bag: Wood & Faulk Field Bag, $150 — For an outfit that’s made with a commute in mind, grab a bag that’s commute-friendly — just big enough to handle your everyday carry should you need to hop on that bike (or on the train).

Oftentimes, putting together an outfit to meet changing weather or changing plans is just about recognizing that certain pieces can be customized for year-round wear when updated the right way — so, taking those chinos and showing off some ankle, or adapting your traditional navy blue blazer to one that can handle spring breezes. Throw in some sporty wingtips, and you’ve got a look that should be comfortable and eye-catching, in the best possible way. ‘Til next time!

-Beau

Where might you rock this outfit? Any pieces that you would add or subtract?

Frank & Oak

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 Pick of the Week: GAP Chambray Shirt

"Clean wash" chambray shirt and red henley by GAP. Slim jeans by Bonobos. Watch by Invicta, Sneakers by Billy Reid for K-Swiss.

Chambray shirt and red henley by GAP. Slim jeans by Bonobos. Watch by Invicta, Sneakers by Billy Reid for K-Swiss.

Editor’s note: For more Style Picks of the Week, see here.

This week’s Style Pick of the Week comes from a retailer that doesn’t necessarily get heaps of praise when it comes to guys’ style: GAP (or The Gap, if we’re going for that). Don’t be so quick to write them off — while they drew the ire of the media for their “Dress Normal” campaign this past fall, there are some key takeaways that can be gleaned from the brand. Namely,  dressing “normal” isn’t such a bad thing — and great basics can be styled lots of different ways. The chambray shirt is the perfect epitome of that.

Just one of the many ways to style Gap's clean chambray shirt. Watch by Invicta. Braided leather belt by Target Merona.

Just one of the many ways to style Gap’s clean chambray shirt. Watch by Invicta. Braided leather belt by Target Merona. Dark jeans by Bonobos.

Chambray is a fabric that’s as close to a four-season shirting option as a blue or white Oxford cloth button-down, especially in a medium-to-dark wash like the option seen here. The color pairs exceptionally well with deep blue denim and other four-season standards like khaki & olive chinos. It looks even better with other spring colors like washed-out reds, light greens, light grey and even darker shades of blue. It can easily be layered over lighter pieces, worn under a V-neck or navy crewneck sweater, or styled up with a wool tie and winter blazer. It’s also breathable enough to wear on its own or under a khaki or navy cotton jacket when it’s warm. It’s well within reach at full price and dips down into the $30 range on-sale. With spring well on the way, it’s prime time to snag one for yourself.

Do you have a chambray shirt in your rotation? Would you pick up this option here?

Style Commentary: Why I Wear A Watch

A look at my watch collection circa Jan. 2014. From left to right: Timex Ameritus Sport with brown-leather NATO strap, black canvas strap Timex Weekender and silver Invicta dive watch.

A look at the author’s watch collection circa Jan. 2014. From left to right: Timex Ameritus Sport with brown-leather NATO strap, black canvas strap Timex Weekender and silver Invicta dive watch. Some new additions pictured below.

Although I’ve written about watches in the past on this site, there hasn’t often been much discussion on why it’s important to me, or why it just makes intrinsic sense (to me, at least!) to wear a watch. There are plenty of other ways to tell time, undoubtedly, from computers to smartphones to other apps on your phone. But each of those, while functional, are utilitarian and not the most stylish — and ambition in matters of style is always good to have!

A Timex Ameritus Sport watch with a No. 8 Chromexcel Horween leather band from Form-Function-Form, a new addition to the personal collection.

A Timex Ameritus Sport watch with a No. 8 Chromexcel Horween leather band from Form-Function-Form, a new addition to the personal collection.

The best timepieces have meaningful stories and memories behind them and style that fits in with your day-to-day life — really, that’s the biggest benefit! The first watch I really bought to wear was a Timex Weekender (seen in the case above and in this post here), with a black canvas strap. It was a trusty timepiece that took me through many late nights editing and writing at the student newspaper at Michigan State — classic, minimal in design and style and well set-up for casual wear. I’ve upgraded over time to a larger collection, as you can see in the photos here — a brown-leather watch from Stuhrling, a black-rubber casual watch also from Stuhrling, a Timex Ameritus Sport watch with interchangeable canvas straps (seen in this post on Dappered) and a silver dive watch from Invicta. The black-rubber Stuhrling watch is great for casual outfits — a crewneck sweatshirt, henley and jeans on the weekend, or a pocket T-shirt and khaki shorts in the spring and summer. And the Timex Ameritus watch has tons of versatility, too — it can be worn with a dressier leather strap as pictured above, or with a colorful paisley strap for warmer weather.

The Stuhrling Aquadiver Manta Ray watch.

From the collection: A Stuhrling Aquadiver Manta Ray watch.

A personal favorite: the Stuhrling Original Classic Ascot Agent watch in brown leather.

A personal favorite: the Stuhrling Original Classic Ascot Agent watch in brown leather.

It’s not essential to have a large collection or even multiple watches, however. When I travel, I take one, maybe two watches at the most (like I did on a recent trip to Michigan). And the most versatile watch in my collection for day-to-day wear is undoubtedly my silver Invicta pro diver watch — the stainless steel links pair with either brown or black leather shoes and belts and everything else from casual sneakers, shorts and a T-shirt in the summer to a navy suit and dress accessories (like this get-up). Although I haven’t gotten to it yet, the links can be swapped out for a canvas or leather strap for even more versatility. The stainless steel style (say that three times fast) is favored by fashion icons on screen and in real life, so that’s an added bonus.

An up-close look at a versatile timepiece, the Invicta 8926 Pro Diver. Cardigan by Todd Snyder.

An up-close look at a versatile and oft-worn timepiece, the Invicta 8926 Pro Diver. Cardigan by Todd Snyder.

And this particular watch is definitely special for more than its looks — it was a Christmas gift from my parents, so I think of them every time I wear it. It’s a daily reminder of consistency, too — wearing a watch helps me start my day off on the right foot and keep track of appointments and meeting times. The fact that it’s got intrinsic style benefits to it is just an added bonus. While I save up for a bigger purchase (for now, this Shinola watch), my collection will definitely do just fine.

If you’re just starting out looking for great watches, some pointers can be found here on key styles and low prices. And if you want to add some long-term “grail” watch purchases to your list, Invaluable has some drool-worthy men’s watches up for sale right now — and they’ve also got some women’s watches up on the site if you need a gift for that special someone in your life! In the meantime, buying an inexpensive, solid timepiece like the ones above should work well for style purposes and functionality.

Do you wear a watch every day? What’s on your wrist from Monday to Sunday? And what would be your dream watch? Let me know! 

Bundled up: Packing for a chilly Michigan weekend

Although I’m based in Brooklyn now (along with my amazing girlfriend Liz), my roots are in mid-Michigan. I grew up twenty minutes from Michigan State University, wrote and edited news and sports for three years at The State News and absolutely consider myself a Spartan at heart — sorry to disappoint any Wolverine fans reading the blog (see you in October, yes?). So all of that makes this weekend pretty special — I’m flying back into Lansing, Mich., on Friday and taking the short drive down the road to reconnect with great friends from both high school and college.

A picture from my stint as sports editor at The State News, circa spring 2014 (I'm on the far left).

A picture from my stint as sports editor at The State News, circa spring 2014 (I’m on the far left).

It’s an exciting trip, one that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. With that being said, I’m still aiming to get around in style. It should be a pretty chilly weekend back in the Mitten (unlike a trip this past summer to San Francisco), so I’m aiming to to be warm and still look good. Of course, I’ll be bringing all my gear in my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender and a well-worn Kenneth Cole Reaction messenger bag. Check out the photos and line-up below to see what’s trip-worthy.

Most of what's going in the bag this weekend. Sweaters and shirts top left, bags top right. Jeans, shoes and socks bottom left. Dopp kit and other accessories on the bottom right.

Most of what’s going in the bag this weekend. Sweaters and shirts top left, bags top right. Jeans, shoes and socks bottom left. Dopp kit and other accessories on the bottom right. Not pictured: Overcoat, scarf and gloves.

Kenneth Cole Wool-Blend Overcoat (Sold out; for more on great topcoats, click here)

J. Crew Factory Scarf and Target Merona Black Leather Gloves (Sold-out; similar option here)

Todd Snyder shawl-collar cardigan (Sold-out; similar option here)

Reigning Champ Raglan Crewneck Sweatshirt (Budget-friendly option here)

Bonobos Rhodes Collar Blue OCBD (Similar option here)

GAP Chambray Shirt

Everlane White Henley 

American Apparel Charcoal Jersey Pocket T-shirt

Bonobos Slim Tailored Travel Jeans in Allegheny Oak (Review here)

Bonobos Slim Tailored Blue Jeans in Resin Dark Rinse

Target Merona Braided Leather Belt

Perry Ellis Black Webbed Belt

JCP Stafford Camlin Wingtip Boots (Sold-out; similar option here)

Billy Reid x K-Swiss Leather Sneakers

J. Crew Factory Printed Socks

J. Crew Ribbed Stripe Socks and Red Foulard Socks (Sold out; similar option here)

Stuhrling Aquadiver Manta Ray Watch

Invicta Pro Diver 8926 Watch

For toiletries: J. Crew Factory Dopp Kit and Brickell Men’s Products Face Wash & Moisturizer

At first glance, that might seem like a lot of clothes for one weekend. However, each piece has its purpose in combatting the cold Michigan weather. I plan to wear the crewneck sweatshirt, blue OCBD, Bonobos Travel Jeans and wingtip boots on the plane, layered under my charcoal overcoat. That same combination should feasibly work on Friday out and about in East Lansing, although based on conditions on the ground there, I might switch over to my leather sneakers for more casual wear.

A close-up look at some personal favorites. Pictured: Billy Reid x K-Swiss sneakers, Gap chambray and Bonobos Travel Jeans in Allegheny Oak.

A close-up look at some personal favorites. Pictured: Billy Reid x K-Swiss sneakers, GAP chambray and Bonobos Travel Jeans in Allegheny Oak.

For the rest of the weekend, I plan to layer either the Reigning Champ crewneck or Todd Snyder cardigan (a recent purchase —check out another photo here) with my Everlane henley, the GAP chambray shirt or the charcoal pocket T-shirt. Any combination should work well given the weather and the relatively interchangeable colors of each piece. And since the trip should involve some visits to East Lansing’s finer establishments, either sweater should also look stylish but not too dressy. If the weather proves warmer than expected, any of the above shirts could be worn on their own, too.

I’m definitely looking forward to wearing more casual outfits this weekend, as I tend to stay pretty dressed up during the week. On the accessories front, either casual belt should fit right in  — since my sneakers are a rugged, worn-in brown leather and part of casual pairings, I’m not too concerned about matching with the casual black belt from Perry Ellis or my black rubber-strap watch.

The key accessories for this trip. Pictured: J. Crew Factory Dopp Kit, Perry Ellis Black Webbed Belt, Target Merona Braided Leather Belt, Invicta & Stuhrling Watches, along with some Brickell Men's Products.

The key accessories for this trip. Pictured: J. Crew Factory Dopp Kit, Perry Ellis Black Webbed Belt, Target Merona Braided Leather Belt and Invicta & Stuhrling watches, along with some recent pick-ups from Brickell Men’s Products.

That brown leather belt from Target’s Merona line has proven to be durable and versatile as well, bringing the right amount of fall and winter texture to casual outfits. It can be worn with either set of shoes, too (on that note — if it proves extremely snowy, the sneakers might have to stay in the bag). With a lot of varying shades of blue in various outfits, darker navy or red socks should offer a nice contrast, while the grey patterned socks can be worn casually with any combination (because matching your socks to your pants is old-fashioned, right?).

As to my accessories, I’m admittedly a watch guy — my collection recently grew to include a Form-Function-Form No. 8 Chromexcel Horween leather strap. However, for maximum versatility, I’ll be bringing my silver Invicta dive watch to pair with either belt or shoe combination (for more on the watch, see the above review). I’m also packing a black rubber-strap watch as a second, more casual option. Of course, no trip would be complete without a handy (and stylish) dopp kit, like the terrific olive waxed cotton option from J. Crew Factory pictured above. Mine will definitely include some skincare essentials I just picked up from Brickell Men’s Products. With all the above in mind, hopefully this bag is packed for maximum versatility and style.

Next week, check back for a recap on the trip and this packing plan! 

What’s in your bag when you hit the road? Any travel must-haves?

Style Suggestion: Thanksgiving Dinner

At most times of year, and particularly Thanksgiving, it’s important to take time to celebrate with family and loved ones while enjoying some much-needed relaxation. Putting some thought into what you wear is just one way to make the occasion even more special. And you want to look good in those photos, right? Enjoy the week and Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thanksgiving oftentimes toes the line between between dressed-up and dressed-down, falling usually on one side of the spectrum. With some modifications, the outfit suggestion below should be able to fit in either way. The most important thing, though, is spending the day with those you love — if you’re able to dress well to do that, all the better! And for other Thanksgiving style ideas, see last year’s post.

Here’s the spread (See descriptions below for links):

Keeping things casual, yet crisp, for Turkey Day.

Keeping things casual, yet crisp, for Turkey Day. Cardigan: J. Crew Factory. Tie: JCF. Shirt & Pants: Bonobos. Watch: Invicta. Boots: JC Penney. Belt: H&M. Socks: Oak Street Bootmakers.

The Sweater: J. Crew Factory Shawl-Collar Cardigan 

This shawl collar cardigan provides more bulk and texture than a thinner cardigan (although a trim cotton cardigan could work if you go dressier). The marled grey color also fits in well with the shades of the season while not being too outrageously bright, unlike some sweaters on the market.  If the situation calls for getting more dressed up, navy corduroy blazer would work just fine.

The Shirt: Bonobos Hudson Brushed Blue Twill Shirt

The Bonobos option is a pretty substantial chunk of change for a regular, more casual buttondown shirt, but the twill fabric and diamond print add some nice texture and visual detail to the piece. Twill also adds some heft to stand up to that thicker cardigan. On the cheaper side, a dark denim shirt from J. Crew Factory provides that same visual bulk for a much lower price. And, a classic chambray shirt would also be a serviceable option.

The Tie (If Needed): J. Crew Factory Wool Herringbone Tie 

Some Thanksgiving dinners lean much more casual, and in that case, you could definitely ditch the tie. But should you want to reach for some neckwear, stick with a seasonal fabric with some depth to it — this brown herringbone piece changes up the typical charcoal wool tie you might see (Frank & Oak offered a standout option last year). It also blends nicely in terms of texture with that thicker cardigan and heavier shirt. Need a tie bar to keep it in place? Your go-to place is, of course, The Tie Bar.

The Pants: Bonobos Burnt Orange Washed Chinos (Or heavier pants in a fall-appropriate color)

Again, this is quite the expensive option for a simple pair of pants — but, on a personal note, these pants have gotten tons of mileage this fall, and that’s sure to hold true this upcoming winter as well. They don’t have the heft of a pair of corduroys, which one might typically go for at Thanksgiving, but like the rest of this outfit, these options are geared to go either dressier or more casual — washed chinos hit the middle perfectly. Many love Bonobos for their fit and great customer service, too. On the less expensive side, you could reach for a twill pant in a similar deep fall shade.

The Boots: JC Penney Stafford Gunner Men’s Leather Boots

Assuming that most of us will be in a colder clime for the holiday with the polar vortex that’s sweeping the nation, captoe boots serve two functions: they combat the snow and also add a dash of style for sweeping through cold weather (see what I did there?). They aren’t the much-beloved brown Stafford wingtip, but black boots help to ground what’s already a pretty color-rich outfit. They also look a little slicker, helping bring a more dressed-up appeal to the ensemble.  If you go really rugged-casual, some new boots from Frank & Oak could also meet the two criteria above.

The Rest: Invicta Men’s Pro Diver Watch, Oak Street Bootmakers Hickory Trail Sock, H&M Leather Belt

Since we want maximum versatility in an outfit, this Invicta watch, which calls to mind the Rolex Submariner, is as classic  and stylish an option as any. And although it’s not necessary, the black dial conveniently matches up with those boots. If you go more casual, a Timex Weekender with a simple canvas strap is always a safe bet, too. Since it’s going to be chilly out there, thicker socks that stay stylish thanks to their marled texture work very well with those black captoe boots above. Make sure your belt matches up with those boots, too.

What are your thoughts on the above picks? Anything you would change or add? What will you be wearing on the holiday? 

Spring Style Suggestion: Bass ‘Weejun’ Loafers

There are certain pairs of shoes out there that are timeless classics, avoiding the cycles of fashion and pairing with numerous outfits no matter the year. These types of shoes are near-legendary in most #menswear circles — they’re ubiquitous but never seem to reach a peak oversaturation point. Think Clarks desert boots in beeswax, or a sturdy pair of Wolverine 1K boots or a slick, sharp pair of captoe dress shoes in black or brown. Heck, even L.L. Bean’s slightly polarizing (but wildly effective) Duck boots have gained a cult following of sorts. That’s not to mention things like the Sperry Top-sider boat shoe or a low-cut pair of Jack Purcells or Chuck Taylors in the sneaker market. As if they weren’t already on that list, don’t overlook the inimitable, one-of-a-kind Weejun Loafers from G.H. Bass.

The Bass Weejun Loafers — Spring Style

Bass loafers worn in a spring casual outfit. Jeans by J. Crew. Blazer by Gap. Watch by Invicta. Glasses by Burberry.

Bass loafers worn in a spring sharp-casual outfit. Jeans by J. Crew. Blazer by Gap. Watch by Invicta. Glasses by Burberry. Shirt by CPO Provisions – Urban Outfitters.

Introduced to the world as an updated, fun take on a Norwegian farm shoe in the late 1930’s, the Weejun has since become a style staple across the country for combining that perfect mix of casual and prep. Also known as the “penny loafer”, it certainly has its fair share of sharp (and not-so-sharp) East Coast-type style attached to it. But it’s surprisingly versatile and wearable in a number of situations. And, the company now offers shoe care products, Oxford dress shoes in a pleasantly light array of colors and driving loafers and moccasins, among others.

On a personal note, I’d always found loafers a tough shoe to pull off. They required the right setting, the right outfit and most importantly, the right weather. Given a recent trip to Florida and the oncoming signs of spring, the timing was just right to try out a pair for the first time. The shoes are well-made and the quality doesn’t drop even when on-sale from a Bass outlet.  The leather feels relatively sturdy and smooth, and when paired with a brown leather care product, it seems as if these shoes could last a long time.  A size 10 1/2 (a 1/2 size up than normal) isn’t terribly loose, either. More importantly, like any other great pair of brown shoes, they seem to have loads of versatility. And they exist in the perfect realm between a canvas sneaker (better than running kicks, but too casual) and flip-flops (which should ideally only be worn for guys by the water or at the pool).

Given spring’s approaching weather, taking  a sharp brown loafer out for a spin with a pair of lightwash denim, as shown above, is a more unique style move than sticking with dark denim or chinos, although both of these certainly could be done as well. The slick leather offsets the more casual, relaxed nature of both the light and the dark denim, so those combos could work interchangeably. The washed khaki chino blazer from Gap (picked up in an outlet store) as pictured is relatively slim off-the-rack, unstructured and easily wearable with a simple printed button-down (something like this Urban Outfitters number could do the trick).

Keeping vacation time this spring with Bass Weejun loafers. Pocket square by J. Crew.

Keeping vacation time this spring with Bass Weejun loafers. Pocket square by J. Crew.

Of course, the right pair of slim chinos (feel free to work in some color here, too) would work outstanding here, as well. On the top half of your outfit with these loafers, the possibilities are pretty endless. Because lightwash or dark denim provides a sort of hi-lo contrast with a leather loafer, everything from a white henley to that patterned shirt and khaki blazer combo would work (as seen above). Polos (and perhaps a popover as an alternative) are surefire bets as well — work in some color too! And, as many of us have surely seen, the Weejun loafer doesn’t look one bit out of a place dressed up with shorts. As with any of these outfits though, when it gets noticeably warm, outside, be sure to ditch those socks. Some are partial to wearing a loafer with socks in the colder months, but that combo seems counterproductive when it’s snowing heavily. When going barefoot in the warmer months, if you prefer alternatives other than foot powder, no-show sock alternatives are discussed in great detail here by Barron at Effortless Gent).

Experimenting with Weejun loafers and shorts. Navy polo by J. Crew. Shorts by J. Crew Stanton. Belt by Target Merona. Glasses by Burberry.

Experimenting with Weejun loafers and shorts. Navy polo by J. Crew. Shorts by J. Crew Stanton. Belt by Target Merona. Glasses by Burberry.

Note that the proper pair of shorts should hit above the knee and lean slim, not baggy (ditch those cargo shorts at home, preferably). And the right pair of shorts in the spring and summer ideally have a pop of color (note the red in the photo). Tremendous above-the-knee, well-fitting shorts can be found at nice prices by the bunches over at Land’s End Canvas (look for something with a 7-9″ inseam, perhaps the Comer Chino or Chambray options). J. Crew’s Stanton short is well-deserving of praise, (as pictured above). And it seems like even Old Navy is offering a slim-fit short in a variety of colors with an inseam just past 9″. Because the brown loafers are relatively minimal, they provide lots of room for experimentation with colors. And if you feel so inclined, that polo or popover shirt could certainly be tucked in (based on how it fits and feels — that look is too preppy for some; not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

Even in warmer weather, one pair of shoes can take you a lot of different places when combined with more unique items like lightwash denim or a spring or summer blazer. Of course, a staple as classic as Weejuns (which have barely changed across the decades) pairs perfectly with other timeless essentials, like polos, slim shorts and slim jeans in a variety of washes. When the weather does warm up in your neck of the woods, Weejuns could (and should) become a go-to spring and summer shoe.

The Product Review: Invicta Pro Diver Watch

I’ll be the first to say I’m no watch expert by any means. There’s certainly a significant debate out there on the quality and value of an automatic versus a quartz watch, and there are positives and drawbacks to each side of the conversation.

Being able to throw on a timepiece and have it virtually operate itself (if you wear it long enough) is a pretty neat feat of machinery on the part of automatic watchmakers. And some swear by the price of a nice quartz watch. At the end of the day, however, both do the same thing: tell time. And more importantly, a well-constructed timepiece can complete an outfit, regardless of how it runs. It’s that accessory that doesn’t seem to be found on a lot of wrists these days, and the right watch can set the tone of an outfit: A Timex Weekender (featured here in the Under $250 Budget Challenge) is inherently more casual. It’s a cheap watch that can go anywhere and do anything. A dress watch (say, with a nice leather strap and minimalist design) in either brown or black covers the bases when it’s time to suit up.

The rest of the time though, there’s hardly a watch more versatile than a stainless steel dive watch.  If the shine on the links is low enough and the design isn’t too gaudy, a dive watch could function well with everything from a henley and jeans to a suit. Sure, they first started as a way to transition from the water to the clubhouse, but it works just as well even if you’re not hitting the ocean. The Invicta 8926 Pro Diver is certainly no different. I’ve only had it for about two to three weeks, but it’s treated me remarkably well. There are watches that are better-made, to be sure, but those watches also will set your wallet back a bit more. For the price, it’s one of the most affordable, best-looking divers on the market. It’s an automatic, and says it’s water-resistant to 200 meters. I haven’t run this one through the usual gamut of water-related activities, but I’d even considering wearing it to the beach – can’t be done, you say? Ask this guy.

Packaged in a solid, sturdy box with Invicta branding.

Packaged in a solid box with Invicta branding.

It feels sturdy and substantial, and wears about to size (the case diameter is 40 mm, about the sweet spot for most people — not too big or too small).The watch’s screw-down crown makes it easy to change the day and date. As for keeping time, the watch runs smoothly – it rarely loses or adds a minute throughout the day (which can be an issue with some automatics).

The watch on a fairly medium-sized wrist. Paired with J. Crew herringbone blazer.

The watch on a fairly medium-sized wrist. Paired with J. Crew herringbone blazer.

This timepiece is a great entry-level dive watch – it’s affordable if you save and spend wisely, and although some might say the black dial can’t be paired with brown shades of shoes, that doesn’t necessarily apply here – a stainless steel watch is one of the most versatile timepieces a man can own because of those links (no matching of brown leather watch strap to brown leather shoes necessary, for example). And starting with a cost-effective, well-made dive watch like this option is a perfect holdover while you save up for that Omega