Style Upgrade: The Slim Crewneck Sweater

Editor’s note: This is the fourth 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.

A close-up look at an upgrade worth making -- the slim crewneck. For more on this Pistol Lake piee, read on.

A close-up look at an upgrade worth making — the slim crewneck. For more on this Pistol Lake piee, read on.

Andddd…. we’re back! With the Style Upgrade series, that is. It’s been some time since an entry in this series ran (see past entries here), but the time is just right to talk at length about sweaters — something I’ve often said to myself daily this winter. While you can use a merino V-neck sweater as part of a high-low outfit combination — like this #OOTD entry — and you can wear the heck out of nice cashmere cardigan, certain styles are definitely trending in the marketplace and on the torsos of well-dressed guys everywhere. The crewneck sweater (or sweatshirt, in its more casual form) certainly isn’t what it once was — and that goes for its more casual iterations and its dressier counterparts. So with a return to form in mind, it’s time to refresh your wardrobe — or perhaps just pick up another sweater.

A piece from a designer perhaps most known for revitalizing crewnecks -- Todd Snyder.

A stellar piece from a designer perhaps most known for revitalizing crewnecks — Todd Snyder.

Most menswear fans probably recognize the crewneck sweatshirt from its sportier beginnings, and the ways in which designers have taken the same idea and slimmed it down. Like the Reigning Champ Crewneck Sweater that was featured as this site’s Style Pick of the Week, there’s a lot that’s been done to a silhouette more commonly associated with Rocky films for years. And as this site has talked about previously, that’s due to a few forward-thinking designers who’ve made the style at once refined and still sport-inspired. If you’re looking to start your search for a crewneck sweatshirt at the top of the (reasonably priced) pyramid, Todd Snyder has exactly what you’re looking for. The designer’s crewneck sweatshirts, while simple at first glance, exemplify the idea of using high-quality fabrics to retool an older style, what with vintage-inspired stitching and added details like that chest pocket. Todd Snyder’s collaboration with Champion  is the stuff of legend (at least for this menswear writer). The pieces are well-crafted, heritage-inspired and timeless — plus, you can wear the heck out of ’em with everything from a chambray shirt and denim to tailored sweats.

Two crewneck choices from JackThreads -- one a dressy cashmere, the other a quilted indigo piece.

Two crewneck choices from JackThreads — one a dressy cashmere, the other a quilted indigo piece.

So that’s certainly one place to start. But some brands are taking this style essential and doing just as great of a job at slimming down the fit and changing up the fabrics. Take JackThreads, for example. The brand’s new menswear vertical is doing everything from a quilted indigo crewneck sweatshirt to its aptly named Daily Sweatshirt, all for excellent prices. And something like the Daily Sweatshirt, which strikes both a sporty yet business-casual vibe, can be paired with pieces you already have in your closet (look to stylist and menswear blogger Preston Konrad for some styling tips in this regard). Lest one forget, JackThreads has also amped up its fabric game — the brand’s cashmere crewneck sweaters are the budget alternative to more expensive alternatives. So that gives you two ways to go in terms of rocking a crewneck. However, the more standout style move might be picking up a casual crewneck and giving it a business-casual spin.

Contrast stitching adds yet another solid detail to this Pistol Lake piece.

Contrast stitching adds yet another solid detail to this Pistol Lake piece.

And as with other style staples that come up time and again on this blog — take henleys, for example — brands that are inspired by sportswear itself have turned their attention to this vintage piece. Style Guide favorites Pistol Lake, out of California, are producing a contrast-stitching crewneck sweatshirt in a versatile navy that’s been a hot seller this winter (the Heather Grey option is seen at the top of the page). Fellow made-in-America brands like Taylor Stitch and Buck Mason are also producing solid crewneck sweatshirts that can stand up to a campfire or a casual day at the office (considering that both can be equally treacherous). Reliable menswear stalwarts like J. Crew are also offering up an even more roughed-up take on the crewneck sweatshirt, turning to garment-dying for a lived-in look. They’re also offering a super-refined cashmere crewneck on the opposite end of the style spectrum.

So there are certainly plenty of options out there to go more casual with your crewneck, or a bit more dressy. On the lux end of things, Shinola has expanded its product offering into crewneck sweaters, drawing on perhaps the most vintage inspiration of all — Muhammad Ali’s signature style — for its “Cassius Clay” Sweatshirt. If you find yourself with quite a bit of cash to spend, know that Mr. Porter stocks crewneck sweaters from the likes of Brunello Cucinnelli — and that’s all the proof you need that the silhouette is mainstream! With such a variety of price points, it can be a bit daunting to pick out just one — even if it is just a crewneck sweater. It’s a style that shouldn’t be overlooked, though. The styling potential is on-point (be it over a blue Oxford or a simple tee), and designers have updated the fits and colors in new and unexpected ways. Toss in solid options for every price point, and you’ve got a style upgrade worth making.

Have you upgraded your crewneck sweater (or sweatshirt) yet? What’s your favorite of the options listed here?
Join the Hunt Club - Enjoy FREE Shipping, Cashback + more at Frank & Oak! Try it now for 90 days, risk free!

Style Upgrade: Dark Denim

A quick and easy style upgrade that only involves knowing your pant size. Dark denim pictured from Mott & Bow. Olive leather slip-ons by GREATS Brand. Organic cotton pocket T-shirt  by United By Blue. Glasses by Warby Parker. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

A quick and easy style upgrade that only involves knowing your pant size. Dark denim pictured from Mott & Bow. Olive leather slip-ons by GREATS Brand. Organic cotton pocket T-shirt by United By Blue. Glasses by Warby Parker. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

Editor’s note: If you read this blog regularly, you might recall this post was supposed to cover Taylor Stitch chinos. However, they’re sold out for right now. Oops! So we move onto the next topic on The Style Guide. This is the second 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.

When I first started writing about men’s style for this site about two years ago, one of the first topics I covered was the idea of Style Essentials — basics that can help any guy look good in nearly any situation. That’s a topic that’s still near and dear to my heart, and it’s certainly still relevant when plotting out ways to look one’s best. While I’m still learning a lot about the ever-evolving world of men’s style, I thought it about high time to revisit this topic — from a slightly wiser, slightly older perspective (perhaps?). And there might not be a better style upgrade to make than switching out your pants — maybe from something a bit baggier or faded to something cleaner, trimmer and darker. We’re talking, of course, about the indispensable pair of dark denim you should hopefully have in your closet, folks.

My friend Barron Cuadro of Effortless Gent showing off one way to style dark denim.

My friend Barron Cuadro of Effortless Gent showing off one way to style dark denim.

No matter what stage you might be at in  your style evolution, something as crisp as dark denim can act as a style catalyst or a rejuvenator from which to build all kinds of outfits. That goes for weekend wear — like with white sneakers and a slub T-shirt, and makes its way to office wear during the week — alongside a crisp blazer and a chambray shirt, for instance. My friend from Barron of Effortless Gent nails this concept perfectly. It’s one of the  only things you can do to change up your wardrobe that just involves knowing your pant size (and maybe what brand you might prefer to wear).

Every discussion about upgrading the denim in your closet should probably start with the originator of the classic blue jean — Levi’s. Although its styles have undergone some changes through the years, there are few style upgrades that can’t be met with a classic like the Levi’s 513 jean — the slim-straight fit flatters lots of body types, while the dark, crisp color looks better year-round than other overly distressed jeans. On a looser but still fitted front, the Levi’s 514 jean is available for under $40 — a heck of a price.

J. Crew's take on the classic blue jean features a tailored fit and crisp color.

J. Crew’s take on the classic blue jean features a tailored fit and crisp color.

Keep in mind that the brand also does tapered fits like the 511 jean, too. Modern-day #menswear mainstay J. Crew has plenty to say about denim upgrades too, and its 484 jean in a deep “Resin Crinkle Wash” fits the bill perfectly. And although it’s been a very hot seller, the 770 jean in that same wash would provide the roomier (yet still somewhat tailored) fit that athletic guys might prefer. Ponying up a pretty penny could also nab you a pair of The Blue Jean from Bonobos, featuring fits ranging from Bootcut (preferably avoided, however!) to Tailored (a trim fit similar to a Levi’s 511). The Slim Crosby Jean from Mott & Bow would also be a particularly agreeable purchase (check out more on the brand here), as would something in a slimmer fit — like the Mosco seen below (Editor’s note: Get 15% your first purchase with the brand using this link).

Dark denim with a hint of stretch, like the Mosco Skinny fit from Mott & Bow, also works well for  this style upgrade. Spring Plaid Shirt by Gustin. Brown leather watch by Stuhrling. Glasses by Warby Parker.

Dark denim with a hint of stretch, like the Mosco Skinny fit from Mott & Bow, also works well for this style upgrade. Spring Plaid Shirt by Gustin. Brown leather watch by Stuhrling. Glasses by Warby Parker.

And to expand the pool of options even further, even Old Navy is now peddling dark denim — this time, for under $30 on sale. While those might not last as long as a hefty pair from iconic denim purveyor Gustin, they’d certainly get the job done. But if you feel like going all out on this particular style upgrade and won’t have anything less than the best, brands like 3Sixteen have developed a cult-ish following for the quality of their denim (and the resulting jean fades).
Ernest Alexander
Whichever option you might decide to go with — whether it’s time for a denim restock or the first purchase — reaching for something with a clean navy color and a trimmer fit won’t lead you astray. Dark denim is the type of pant that works virtually anywhere — unless, of course, it’s presentation time in the boardroom or time to suit up for the red carpet. Other than that though — reach for a great pair or two and see how you style them.

Have you made this Style Upgrade yet? What’s your go-to pair of dark denim?
Ben Sherman US

Style Upgrade: The Slim Wallet

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series covering quick and easy upgrades to style dilemmas a guy might face once in a while. Check back for more entries in the series.

Does this look like your wallet? Or someone you know? Friends don't let friends stuff their wallets.

Does this look like your wallet? Or someone you know? Friends don’t let friends stuff their wallets.

What’s the one thing you carry with you, likely everywhere, everyday? A wallet, or some way or system of storing credit cards, cash, etc. But the thing with that is … it can be a lot. Sometimes, George Costanza-esque (although hopefully not!). Getting your wallet and valuables in order is but one step that goes hand in hand with bettering your style – and your lifestyle in general.
Ben Sherman US
Swapping out that wallet, of course, requires an evaluation of the goods you’ve got in your current one. Excess or old gift cards or receipts? Unless you’re overly sentimental, those can probably be tossed. That value rewards card for a store you never visit? Ehh, probably to the trash can. So that leaves you with the essentials. Storing those is the next step – and with clothing getting slimmer all the time, what does one reach for? Even if you find yourself leaning toward straight leg pant cuts, a good answer is the card case.

What your wallet and credit cards situation should probably look like instead. Read on to learn more about both of these options.

What your wallet and credit cards situation should probably look like instead. On the left: Land’s End Landmark Newton Cardholder. On the right: Linjer Leather Goods’ Mocha Cardholder. Read on to learn more about both of these options.

In a way, it’s like a Lean Wardrobe for your wallet – making do with less, but using those items more efficiently. Paired with a sturdy money clip (like this clever option from Owen & Fred) for some cash, it’s a combination that truly does look stylish while also serving a nice function. And luckily, designers and brands big and small are making versions that lean either super luxe or quite rugged. New leather goods startup Issara makes a truly sleek version with two exterior slots for cards and one additional interior slot at a price that’s not quite investment-grade (but not exactly cheap, either).

A money clip like this one from Owen & Fred will help you keep track of cash once you slim down that wallet.

A money clip like this one from Owen & Fred will help you keep track of cash once you slim down that wallet.

Another significant upgrade at an affordable price would be the Land’s End Landmark Newton Cardholder. It’s on sale right now for just under $15, a pretty darn good price when you consider it’ll go with you everywhere, and the middle-of-the-road brown or black options work in equal measures. Linjer Leather Goods also makes a nice and slim card case in brown as seen above. If you can’t quite let go of your traditional wallet but want to lose the excess bulk, the Mocha Leather Billfold from Linjer is sleeker yet not quite as toned down as a card case.

The slim silhouette and eyecatching use of fabric make this piece from The Hill-Side a true splurge.

The slim silhouette and eyecatching use of fabric make this piece from The Hill-Side a true splurge.

Skagen’s Torben Card Case also would get the job done quite nicely, although there’s a small branded logo stamp on one side, which some might not like. If you really feel like selling out when it comes to this style upgrade though, The Hill-Side (one of GQ’s best and brightest) makes what looks to be an amazing navy herringbone tweed wallet featuring burnished edges, Italian cowhide leather – and more importantly, a slimmed-down yet still traditional wallet shape. There’s no way that thing’d get bulked down by receipts … right?

That’s all for the first Style Upgrade in this series – have you made the switch yet? What card case and/or money clip are you carrying around these days? Let me know!

Ernest Alexander