Urban Meets Preppy in Mark McNairy’s Collection

Veteran menswear designer Mark McNairy, under the New Amsterdam label, has created a wicked collection that juxtaposes traditional, preppier menswear styles with trendy, urban elements inspired by the streets. The combination is totally refreshing, screams excitement, and is so in touch with millennial tastes.

NewAmsterdam

 

Here are some of my favorite elements:

1. Banded bottoms – inspired by the ultra-trendy, and very urban, sweats and joggers.

banded

2. Pattern play– placing preppy patterns on urban styles (and vice versa) to crush expectation.

 

patternplay

(All images from NY Times Runway Collections)

 

 

 

 

 

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Shamrocks and Shambles at every age

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most notorious and sloppiest drinking days of the year. I attribute this to America’s desire to turn every holiday into a drinking day, and the fact that St. Patty’s is the first holiday of the spring season, and people are excited to come out of hibernation and raise a glass to all things Irish- from potatoes to plaid skirts.

If you’re in college, St. Patty’s means dressing up like a leprechaun, head to toe in Kelly green, adorned with leftover Mardi Gras beads, running between frat houses, or bars (if you have an ID), drowning yourself in cheap booze dyed green with food coloring and taking shots of Bailey’s so that you can claim some false sense of sophistication. Regardless of what you’re drinking, you’re drinking a lot of it – enough to think it’s a good idea to stand on a table in a kilt and attempt an Irish jig to “Danny Boy.” Luckily (pun-intended) when you wake up the next day next to a name-less girl with a smeared shamrock on her face, you won’t remember any of this…until name-less befriends you on Facebook a few days later and undoubtedly tags you in a series of blurred pictures and videos belonging to an album titled, “FRESHMAN YEAR!!”

If you’re in your first few years of post-grad life, you’re probably definitely nostalgic for the scenario described above, and plan to spend the holiday at a Living Social “Irish Stroll”/ “Luck o’ the Irish” bar crawl with 800 other GenY(am I not still in college?!?)s who have the same void to fill. And let’s be honest, because you feel like you need to either keep up with your younger friends who are still in school, or want to (falsely) prove to them that post-grad life is just as crazy, if not crazier, than college life, you’re going to get absolutely Irish-style smashed whilst singing “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” Instead of waking up with a girl, you’ll wake up with a fat Uber tab.

Okay, so this is a fashion blog, and aside from the brief references to green jumpsuits and kilts, I haven’t talked about what you SHOULD be wearing… as a real person… in the real world…with some scrap of dignity…on this festive green holiday. So, here it is: Wear something green, preferably a bright, happy green, and pair it with a more subdue or neutral color like denim, chocolate brown, khaki, white, or forest green. Instead of mardi gras beads and face paint, accessorize with green patterned socks, a belt with a clover buckle, or shamrock tie.

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Style Spotlight: Grosvenor

Grosvenor

I usually prefer to promote designers and brands that are sourced, created, and/or produced in the United States, but I am making an exception with this Style Spotlight piece, which focuses on a luxury shirt company from across the pond.

If this is the first time you’re hearing of the Grosvenor brand, that’s because until recently their custom and ready-to-wear shirts were only available in their two store fronts in London and Picadilly, but now these luxury items are available online to preppy professionals around the world, and they’re totally worth the cross Atlantic shipping costs. When you first look at their products online, they might not immediately strike you; at first glance, they look like something you could walk into any department store and pick up…With Grosvenor, the unique quality is in the details: alternating buttons, patterned trim, complimentary colors, carefully selected fabric. Grosvenor does such a great job of creating unique color combinations that appease the eye and favor the preppy man’s tastes.

Here are a few shirts from the Luxury and Casual collections, which range in price from $140-$160, a steal considering the quality and sense of elitism that comes from owning something that is made in limited quantities and is imported from Europe, and not found at your local Macy’s.

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Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the shirts to appreciate some of the details I mentioned…

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What I love so much about the Grosvenor collections of both casual and luxury shirts is that each collection is cohesive and tells a story. This is something that is highly valued in the women’s ready-to-wear division of the fashion industry but is not stressed as much in classic menswear. When it comes to men’s dress shirts and button-downs what you find is that either a prominent menswear designer creates maybe one or two of this style shirt in a basic, neutral color, or you find a brand that creates the same shirt in 8 different colors, but there’s no motif. With Grosvenor it is obvious if you see two of their shirts together that they came from the same collection, either because of a repetition of pattern, color, and detailing amongst the designs.

In addition to excellent shirts, both ready-to-wear and custom designed, Grosvenor also offers accessories, including a wide variety of ties, several sets of crafted cuff-links, belts, and pocket squares- everything the well-dressed man needs, from the waist up, at least.

GrosvenorAcc

Visit the Grosvenor site for more information and to purchase one of their high-quality ready-to-wear shirts or have them create a custom shirt, designed specifically to suit your body and your tastes.

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Weekend Challenge: Mix It Up

If you’re one of those guys who wears basically the same thing everyday, this challenge is directed towards you! Stop wearing some variation on the same tired theme; try something different. Surprise people by failing to do what they expect of you and ultimately you may surprise yourself and find that you actually like looking different from, well, you.

Here are a few ways to mix it up:

1. Go into your closet or wardrobe and pick out something that you either haven’t worn in years, or something that you look at every morning, but think, ‘I have no idea why I bought this(or why someone bought this for me).’ Put it on, and rock it!

2. If you always wear jeans and a T-shirt, ditch the t-shirt and go for a button-down, or if you’re really stuck to your t-shirt, throw on a blazer or sportscoat and a hat to upgrade your style.

3. Find a shirt or pair of pants in a bold color or exciting pattern. Pair it with a totally different, but complimentary, color or pattern. (i.e.Striped shirt with floral shorts, Yellow chinos with a navy, pink, bright blue, or green shirt)

I’m preaching unpredictability this weekend! Break free of the routine and do something out of the ordinary!

 

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The Other Half of the Red Carpet

“Who are you wearing?” are “What was she thinking?!” are probably the two most frequently heard and read statements on the night of and the days that follow a red carpet event, such as the Oscars. All the media and press attention is focused on the women of the red carpet, whether she be a nominee, a popular actress, or a supermodel wife of an actor. The variety of styles, cuts, and colors available make women’s red carpet fashions more interesting and more attractive to those who care about fashion…and selling magazines.The immense variation in the options available to women means that rarely, if ever, do you see two stars wearing the same, or even similar, looks to a red carpet event. This instills a sense of competition among female actors and guests of actors to wow audiences, instill a jaw-dropping response, and ultimately gain the title, “best dressed.”

But, when it comes to men on the red carpet, a tux is just a tux, right? WRONG. While traditionally when looking at the men of the red carpet, it seems like just a sea of the same- everyone wearing a classic black tux, providing little for the eye to digest and the mind to process and ultimately criticize. However, menswear has evolved significantly in recent decades, and there is much more available to men in terms of variation and choice, but the variation isn’t always as apparent as it is for women. For men, the variation is in the details: the fabric choice, level of sheen, lapel style, style and color of the tie, and buttons on the shirt.

From the classic look designed by Tom Ford and worn by Brad Pitt, to the dapper Navy Burberry tux worn by Frank Underwood, I mean Kevin Spacey, to the unusual shorts tux worn by Pharrel, we saw a much wider variety of men’s red carpet looks than what we would traditionally expect and than what has been portrayed by the media publications.

So, allow me to pick up their slack. Here are my favorite looks from the 2014 Oscars…

Oscars2014

1. Joseph Gordon Levitt looked dapper in a Calvin Klein tux with just enough sparkle to stand out.

2. Kevin Spacey rocked a navy blue Burberry tux.

3. Chiwetel Ejiofor wore an amazing classic black Rake tuxedo.

4. Michael B. Jordan embodied the modern gentleman in this sleek tux by Givenchy.

5. Leonardo DiCaprio looked totally handsome in Armani…as per usual.

6. Jared Leto was a stand out on the red carpet, wearing a white tux jacket and black pants by Saint Laurent.

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Post-Grad Preppy

If you are currently enrolled or just graduated from a college or university in the Northeastern or Southern region of the United States, it’s likely that you walked onto campus with a J.Crew button-down, chino shorts, and Sperry’s, and almost guaranteed that regardless of what you wore that first day,  you graduated in a pastel Vineyard Vines ensemble fastened with a bow-tie and a fresh pair or Sperry’s. As a guy it is pretty hard to resist succumbing to the preppy style as a co-ed, especially if you join a fraternity as there is a certain expectation of conformity inherent in joining any sort of brotherhood, and fraternities are notorious for their conservative, preppy attire. Even if you’re not in a fraternity, with the exception of hipsters and metro or European styles, most college guys fall into the preppy spectrum of style.

…but what happens when you walk off the college campus and into the real world…

While the preppy look is done to an extreme on college campuses, the preppy look is something that has been around forever, transcends age, and can be executed in a variety of ways and at a variety of levels.When you’re out and about in your new post-grad life, you probably don’t want people to mistake you for an under-grad or assume you’re one your way to/from a mixer or social. You want to be taken seriously, and not as some caricature dressed like an Easter egg. While your first instinct may be to get rid of your current wardrobe, don’t!  Hold onto your button-downs, polos, chubbies, and boat shoes, because you can easily take these pieces, rearrange them or style them differently, and create a sophisticated post-grad preppy look. By adding a few darker colored pieces, classic patterns, varied shoe types, and styling, you upgrade your current wardrobe to suit the working world while retaining your personal style and preppy taste.

preppy1 preppy2 Preppy3 preppy4Visit my WishClouds board for more “post-grad preppy” inspired looks!

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Sports Coats & Blazers: A Versatile Staple

Sports coats and blazers transcend seasons and can be worn all year long and are suitable for most dress codes. Because of the wide variety of colors, fabrics, and styles available, there is no reason a blazer shouldn’t be your go-to piece year round. In the fall and early spring seasons, a classic cotton-silk blend sports coat is ideal as it provides warmth but also breathes and is not too heavy. In the summer, opt for a linen or unlined cotton blazer as it will be significantly lighter and airier, thus more suitable to warmer temperatures, than the classic lined cotton-blend coat. In the colder winter months, a lined wool blazer or sports coat is most appropriate. In terms of color, you can’t go wrong with Navy or a medium-dark grey- both of these colors are suitable for any season, any occasion. For the spring and summer, it is nice to mix things up and try lighter, cooler colors like salmon, light blue, tan, and ivory.

Here are a few great sports coats from one of my favorite American designers, Billy Reid:

Spring/Summer:

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Fall/Winter:

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Eradicate the Fear & Embrace the Man Bag

When you walk into any department store you can’t help but notice the extremely large section, sometimes floor, dedicated to women’s handbags and purses. There are many, many people who spend their entire lives focused on designing and creating stylish handbags for women, because they know that for women a handbag is an absolute necessity. Any girl (or woman) over the age of 13 wouldn’t dare go anywhere without a purse or bag of some sort; women are reliant on handbags to carry all of their life’s necessities…and then some.

While men typically have less excess “stuff” and have larger pockets to carry things like a wallet, phone, and keys, men should be afforded the same luxury of being able to have one place to carry and store the things they need any given day….oh wait, they are. There are a decent amount of designers producing nice, high quality bags for men intended for everyday use, but the market for these type of bags is small. This begs the question, if there are designers willing to produce bags for men and there is a need for such bags, why aren’t more men seeking out and buying handbags? The lack of popularity among men  is rooted in the extreme popularity among women. Men see mimicking women’s style as making them appear feminine, less masculine, and for a socially conscious straight man, this equates to the fear of appearing gay.

It’s time to eradicate this antiquated way of thinking. There is nothing wrong or weird about a man carrying a handbag, messenger bag, or satchel. There are many handbags designed for men that are functional, extremely stylish, and still masculine, or differentiable from women’s purses and handbags. It’s time that men, gay, straight and everything in between, stop stuffing and stretching their pockets, and embrace the murse (man-purse).

manbag(Thom Browne, Prada, Paul Smith, Dolce & Gabbana)

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Be a Vans Man

vans

Vans are my number 1 sneaker for the spring and summer! They are simple in design, come in a WIDE variety of fun colors and patterns, and can be worn with any style outfit. Dress them up with a button down, blazer, and dark jean or chino, or dress them down with shorts and a T-shirt!

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It’s a Short Story

While the frigid temperatures and repetitive snow storms make it seem premature to start talking about spring trends and style advice, I think it’s only fair that I share this coming trend in advance as it may require some prep work. This spring it is not just women whose hemlines and shrinking and revealing more skin; men’s shorts are getting shorter as well.

For decades men’s shorts were cut at the knee or just above the knee, but this season shorts are getting a trim, being cut 3-7 inches shorter than what most of us are used to. If you were born in the 60’s or 70’s in which case this trend is just a throwback to the days of the jogger short, but if you were born in the more recent decades and fall under the growing “millennial” generation, this is going to be a major change, but definitely one to embrace.

shortshorts(Michael Bastian, Scotch & Soda, J.Crew)

Before you go out to a store and grab the shortest shorts you can find, take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself if your thighs are ready for all the eyes they will inevitably catch. If the answer is no, it’s time to hit the squatting rack at the gym. Just a few short weeks of squats, lunges, and/or leg presses will have your legs looking more defined and certainly more ready for this season’s trend. If color is your problem (ie you’re pasty or have a distinct tan line left over from last summer) hold off on the short shorts until you have a chance to get some sun on those thighs.

Once you’re physically and mentally ready to embrace the trend, go for it. The great thing about this trend is that it is not restrictive to any one particular style. What I mean by this is that they come in a variety of styles and cuts and can be found at a variety of retailers and brands.

Here are some great ways to style short shorts…

shortsoutfit1Shorts, Top, Fedora all from Scotch & Soda, Shoes by Toms

shortsoutfit2Shorts from JCrew, Shoes by Sperry, Top by Wolf Vs. Goat

shortsoutfit3Shorts by Michael Bastian, Shirt by Peter Millar, Bow Tie from Beau Ties Ltd, and Belt by Salvatore Ferragamo

 
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