I was recently posed the question of what shoes I recommended at under $200, and I was totally struggling to think of suggestions to offer, which is when I realized that so many of the shoes I feature or discuss are pretty pricey and unattainable for most men. So I dedicate this post to the men who want to look like a million bucks without breaking the bank.
For this post, I’ll be pulling from stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, instead of Barneys and Bergdorf’s.
Casual Chic Shoes:
Don’t get me wrong I adore American fashion and American designs, but there is something so debonaire about British fashion that I absolutely adore. One of the most endearing qualities of British menswear is how true to tradition it remains; British design elements very rarely change or evolve, which is a characteristic that some may criticize, but their designs are traditional and unique from the rest of world, and quite honestly, don’t need to changes.
Their muted, neutral color palettes are neither drab nor are they attention-seeking; they are a total reflection of Great Britain’s climate and culture. Britain’s foggy, often rainy, maritime climate doesn’t lend itself to bright cheerful colors, and the British “Keep Calm and Carry On” attitude doesn’t allow for pompous fashion and bold look at me palettes. Navy blue, hunter green, and shades of grey dominate British wardrobes, which might make one think that British fashion is dull or just more of the same, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
For Brits, distinction in fashion lies in the design: the fit, the cut, the quality. Men’s formal and ready-to-wear shirts, sports coats, and blazers traditionally slim-cut and fitted to the body, cutting in slightly at the waist. Trousers, too, are typically very slim cut and taper down the leg, which differs from traditional American designs, which usually have a straight leg. Outerwear diverges from the other ready-to-wear items I have mentioned in that the designs are typically less fitted, but remains in sync with the rest of British menswear in its color palette. Outwear is made of durable textiles, almost always lined, and designed to endure all weather conditions.
Idiot’s Guide to Buying British:
Here are some of my favorite pieces from each of my favorite British brands and retailers…
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.
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…
This season sweatpants, sweat shirts, and even sweatsuits are super stylish. I thought that was going to be a lot harder to say, as I have traditionally hated anything that is made of all cotton, has no shape, and is fastened with elastic, and I have always vocalized my distaste for such items. However, I am loving what I am seeing from major brands and retailers in the way of sweats. What we are seeing is a fresh, streamlined, and DESIGNED take on items that were typically, or should have typically been, reserved for sick days and cold-weather runs. This redesign has re-purposed sweat pants and hoodies, making them acceptable for casual everyday wear.
When shopping for sweat pants, opt for a slimmer cut leg to avoid the baggy, sloppy look. If you want a very basic sweat pant, pay attention to the material; cashmere can add an air of sophistication and your skin will thank you. If you want a fun, bold color, then cut is extremely important; the more fitted the better. Also, pay attention to the details: the color of the drawstring, the thickness of the elastic bands, pockets, stitching, and embellishments.
As for sweatshirts, there are even more ways to have fun and be creative. If you prefer a pullover, or crewneck sweatshirt, go for bold; look for fun, unique patterns. Patterns, designs, and color add dimension, and also make sweatshirts more closely resemble sweaters, but are generally lighter weight and more street-style than a sweater. Pair a crew-neck sweatshirt or pullover with cuffed chinos or jeans, and shorts. For a zip-up style sweatshirt, look for items with unique trim, and standout zippers and stitching. Zip-ups are typically more versatile than pullovers as they can be worn with basically anything, and they are easy to take on and off.(Theory, Scotch & Soda, Rag & Bone, John Varvatos)
The biggest thing to remember when buying for a girl is that girls are more likely to respond to a thoughtful gift rather than a practical gift. Getting her something that says you actually know her and understand her will go a long way!
Here are some great gift ideas. I recognize that not everyone reading this post is buying for a girlfriend so these gifts (with the exception of number 8) can also be gifted to a sister, friend, or other family member.
1. A tech accessory! It’s no secret girls like to have their phones with them 24/7 so this is gift that will certainly get used!
2. A nice, high quality, scarf. It can be a heavier cashmere or wool winter scarf, or something more delicate with an intricate print.
3. Fun statement jewelry! No need to spring for Tiffany’s (unless you have the $$ to do so). Opt for something less extravagant but equally as stylish.
4. A small clutch or shoulder bag. If you’re feeling ballsy go for something in a bright orange, deep purple, or even green. If you’re a little scared to navigate the color territory, basic black is always a winner.
5. An everyday accessory- a watch, or sunglasses! Sunglasses can be tricky so proceed with caution, but you can’t go wrong with an MK watch.
6. Perfume. Find what she already wears and ask the expert behind the counter what they’d recommend based on that. Go for something that is at the same price point or higher than what she already has!
7. Something for her apartment. A nice candle, new cooking equipment, or coffee table books make excellent gifts if you know the things your girl likes. If she’s into travel get her a picture or map of her favorite city framed. If she likes fashion, get her the Vogue Covers publication.
8. Something you BOTH can enjoy- like new underwear or a fancy lingerie set! (Just don’t let her open it in front of family )
Check out my WISHCLOUD devoted to gift buying for girls!
John Varvatos Footwear! My favorites:
Threads by Sebastien James. My favorites:
MontBlanc Watches and Wallets. My favorites:
J Brand! My favorites:
T-Tech by Tumi. My favorites:
Stocking Stuffers: Socks and Underwear. My favorites:
Life After Denim. My Favorites: