Category Archives: Burning Questions

Can I Get A “Real” Watch Without Breaking The Bank?

Tissot Visodate Heritage with black face and Milanese loopIf quartz watches are supposedly junk how can I wear a “real” watch as you call them if I don’t have thousands of dollars? Kind of stupid if no one can afford them, no?

– Not Rich Like You. (also, with similar invective but much better grammar from Steve, TT, and Phukyu)

You may be surprised to find out the answer is in fact “yes”. I understand that you might have been somewhat aghast at the prices that were being tossed around in the “It’s Not A Watch” feature. When I reference “proper Swiss watches” I am almost always using the Omega Speedmaster 57 as my starting point. I use it as an example because it is arguably the pinnacle of modern Swiss watchmaking. It has a timeless design, exquisite mechanicals, it will last forever and is literally a work of art on your wrist. It’s also startlingly expensive to a someone taking their first steps in this particular playground. Fortunately there are two distinct price tiers in Swiss-made automatic watches … and the gap between those two tiers is rather substantial, in the same sort of way that the Grand Canyon is rather wide. While a decent Omega or Chopard is going to start around seven grand and shoot upward from there, you can get yourself a very nice watch from the shores of Lake Geneva for well under $1000.

Why the crazy difference in price? Three words: In-house movement. The most expensive Swiss watches feature internal mechanicals that are hand built – even to the point of machining the individual parts one by one – in-house by a single hyper-skilled craftsperson. When the timepiece on your wrist was built over the course of a few weeks or months by one of a scant handful of qualified artists, it’s going to cost. And cost and cost and cost.

When you drop down to the “second tier”, however, you are still getting a watch that still has a finely crafted case, exceptional design, and a sophisticated automatic mechanical movement … but that movement comes from an outside company who makes them by the thousands in a factory environment. The big player in this game is a company called ETA and they are so big that they control a virtual monopoly in the market. Fortunately, ETA movements are generally excellent and the scale of production means that watches built with them are affordable for pretty much anyone.

Where does that leave you and your dangling participle? It leaves you with a staggering number of watches to choose from. If you want a starting point, allow me to recommend the Tissot Visodate Heritage. Inside, it packs the proven ETA 2836 “top” grade movement with a full display back. Outside it references the classic mid-century-modern design that Tissot forged their name on, highlighted with the gorgeous classic logo, and the black face with minimal indexing is striking no matter what you wear it with. People will notice this watch. And you.

Close-up view of Tissot Visodate Heritage

As an added bonus Tissot has specified the original Milanese loop bracelet, which has a subtle and understated flair combined with an absolutely unique level of simple functionality. It’s going to be a statement too … you are going to see this band on Apple watches this summer and packing one through the spring will firmly entrench you in people’s minds as a trailblazer and tastemaker. When the Apple Watch is all the rage, people will remember that you were rocking the style first.

Quality, great looks, a timepiece you will have for life and a bit of alpha-male flair. That’s a potent package for well less than a grand. If you want to wear a real watch, it’s a hell of a place to start.

Oh, right. You’re welcome.

Got Any Other Ways To Add Colour To My Office Wear?

Great Suits. Great Socks.Call me a wuss, but I’m not brave enough to wear the flower in my lapel. How can I make a little – emphasis on “little” – bit of a statement in the office but not be that obvious about it?

– J.

Dude. Statements are obvious, or they aren’t really statements at all.

However, I do see what you are getting at. You want a bit of flash, a bit of swagger, but you aren’t ready to play in the big leagues. You want to work your way up, find your comfort zone, and that’s all good. Remember: Style is pointless if it isn’t yours.

So let’s put some colour in a place that people will notice … but not a place that people notice first. If you want to strike a solid, conservative chord, build a foundation with your first impression and then add a note of flash, do it with your feet. Dress up your favourite pair of office shoes with a hit of colour and watch what happens.

Richer Poorer PF Flyers RedStrategy One: Get yourself a couple of pairs of socks from Richer Poorer. Socks are sort of a “quick strike” strategy here. When you are standing, walking around the office, or just at your desk you fly under the radar in “colour stealth” mode. But when you sit down in a one-to-one, or turn your chair away from the table at the end of a meeting … bam! Statement made, people impressed. The fact that as soon as you stand up the is colour back under wraps gives you a little air of intrigue. You, my friend, suddenly have hidden depths.

All of the Richer Poorer socks are of impeccable quality and insanely comfortable. Treat yourself to a couple of pairs or score a gift box for a friend. Looking for a place to start? Try these – nothing says “tower of corporate power” like big, bold, in your face – or feet – red.

Stolen Riches LacesStrategy Two: Invest in some laces from Stolen Riches. Good shoelaces are one of life’s little treasures. Good shoelaces that also give you a bit of “man amongst boys” style? Pure gold. You can go subtle with something like the Connie Stripe or the Parachute Maroon or you can shoot the wad with big guns like Huckleberry Yellow or the incredible Nicklaus Green. The options and combinations are endless … if you can’t decide, get yourself a four-pack and experiment.

And I would be entirely remiss if I didn’t point out that the Stolen Riches “style in a box” packages come complete with a stickpin boutonniere. I highly recommend this combo, which features two killer colours that let you punch up any black or brown shoe either a little or a lot and sets you up for the day when you decide you are actually man enough to put the flower in your lapel.

Can I Wear Flat Shoelaces In My Dress Shoes?

Black dress shoes with proper round lacesThe round laces that come with my dress shoes always come untied. Should I replace them with flat ones? Flat ones stay tied.

– T.D.

No.

What? You want more? Fine. No, no, no, not in a million years no. I don’t care if you have to stoop and do the damn things up a hundred times a day (although, if you keep reading, you will see that this is not actually necessary), the answer is still no. If you want a quick and nasty guide to lace selection, go with this:

  • If your shoes came with round laces, that’s what you use in those shoes. Period.
  • If you are wearing your shoes to the office or with any sort of business attire, round laces only.
  • If your pants have a crease or a break, go round.
  • If you are in any doubt at all? Round laces.

You are probably noticing a trend here. Round laces make your shoes look finished, and they make you look like someone who knows the score.  Flat laces are fine in your running shoes and your work boots.  Beyond that … go round if you can.

As far as the staying tied up thing goes, ditch the cheap department store laces and get something decent.  Better laces stay tied.  Better laces last longer.  And better laces are kinder to your shoes, especially shoes with unfinished holes.  Spend a few bucks and get something that has both the quality and the fresh looks that you and your shoes deserve.

Stay tied.  Look great.  Go round.

Where Did The Canucks’ Owner Get His Sweet Glasses?

Francesco Aquilini sports glasses from Tom FordI was watching the Vancouver Canucks press conference yesterday and I really liked the owner’s glasses. Any idea what they are? My girlfriend says they are Raybans.

– Nucks Fan

Dude. It’s Ray-Bans, not Raybans. Details count.

Now then. Your girlfriend is wrong, but – for reasons I probably don’t have to explain to you – you don’t want to tell her that. Those excellent semi-retro glasses that Francesco Aquilini was wearing are from the new Tom Ford collection – specifically, the new “TF5178” model. One of the cool things about the new Tom Ford acetate frames are the “mix and match” options: You can have one colour for the frontpiece of the frame and something different for the temples. In this case. it looks like Mr. Aquilini has gone with the dark tortoise front with black temples.

In an interesting bit of symmetry, you probably know that the Canucks’ new president is the celebrity face of a discount online eyewear retailer. Unfortunately, if you have been following this blog for any length of time you know that Tom Ford is not a discount brand. Sorry, Trevor. If you do want to browse, the entirety of the new Tom Ford catalogue is online at Smart Buy Glasses – click here to see the whole selection.

Once again, the readers of Hey Style Guy! show their impeccable taste by leaning towards a striking-yet-subtle offering from a premium designer. You guys rock.

Which Boots Can I Wear With A Suit?

Alden "Cordovan" cap-toe boot I’m looking for lace up boots (both black and brown) that can be worn with a suit, but that have something more interesting/cool/unique going on than the standard plain black side zip up. Something that can be worn with a suit but also dressed down a little. I know this is a broad question so if nothing comes to mind, maybe just brands?

– Jeff

Unlike ties, questions are never too broad. And this is a good one, since it let’s me introduce you to a boot that has long been a staple for gentlemen in the British Isles but has never been common over here. What you want is a traditional “brogue” boot … they straddle the line between traditional looks and stand-out style and will work with pretty much anything you can think to pair them with.

Until recently they have been a total chore to find on this side of the Atlantic, and if you wanted a decent pair you were stuck paying the hideous shipping fees associated with overseas retailers. Times change, however, and now one of my all-time favorites – the Cordovan cap toe from Alden, shown in the picture above – is available at J. Crew. They have a softer profile than the full-on brogue, so they tone down with a suit but still make a pair of jeans pop. They aren’t cheap, but these are some serious quality dogs, and you are going to get a decade or two of wear out of them.

J. Crew! I know!

If those aren’t quite your cup of tea and you have access to some brick-n-mortar stores that carry some of the better U.K. brands (or you feel like dealing with the ruinous cost of trans-Atlantic shipping) then these are a couple of other makers that I have a soft spot for:

Grenson:
Grenson Sharp two-tone

A modern and exceptionally clean take on the classic gentlemen’s country boot.. Every pair is still made by hand and every pair can be fully re-sewn and re-soled for a lifetime of wear. I especially love the “Sharp” in two-tone … they are, quite frankly, stunning.

Tricker’s:
Trickers Stow country boot

This is as old-school as it gets. No fancy urban updates here – these are real country boots with two centuries of use behind them. They aren’t for everyone, and getting a pair is going to put a serious dent in your wallet, but if you want to properly channel your inner “English County Gentleman” this is really the only way to go. These boots are going to outlast you, and probably look a lot better than you doing it.

Where Can I Get Jonny Lee Miller’s Pea Coat?

Tom Ford Leather Trim Cotton Pea CoatWhere did Jonny Lee Miller get his pea coat for Elementary? I’ve been looking all over and I can’t find it.

– Samuel

Let’s start with a mea culpa: On the first go-around I completely and utterly botched this answer. Capital “c”, capital “u”. As wrong as wrong can be. So consider this some very public eating of Ye Olde Crow.

Or, in the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, “humiliation galore”.

Fortunately, a little bird was kind enough to tip me off to the actual coat and designer in question. That said, I’m still going to riff on my original answer – and expand it – since the coat you are looking for is both hard to find and annoyingly expensive.

The pea coat you see Mr. Miller wearing on Elementary is the “Cotton Pea Coat” by Tom Ford. Kind of an uninspiring name, I know. As you can see from the picture above, there are some key details that set this apart from the standard pea coat. The handwarmer “slash” pockets are much higher than normal, all the way up between the first and second sets of buttons. A second set of rather non-traditional flapped pockets have been added at the lower waist, and the double breasting gets a trimmer look with six buttons instead of the usual eight.

All of which explains why you were having such a hard time in your search. As far as I can tell there is no other coat on the market with these particular features – this this is all sorts of exclusive. And, as with some other previously discussed items, if you want this exact look you are going to have to commit yourself to some hardcore looking around. There are some serious hurdles to overcome if you want one:

  1. This actual model is a couple of years out of date.  The “Cotton Pea Coat” has been replaced with the “Leather Trim Cotton Pea Coat” in Tom Ford’s style book.  The differences are subtle – leather edging on the slash pockets instead of rolled wool, small stress patches on the end of the pockets, and leather piping on the lower pocket flaps – and don’t really change the overall look. But, if you want the exact coat, the current version will simply not do and you are going to have to find someone with the older version still on hand.
  2. There are only a couple of online retailers that carry Tom Ford and they are completely out of this item.  Searching from the comfort of your favourite chair is not an option … you are going to have to pound the pavement and start snooping around in your local high-end menswear stores.  Phone ahead.
  3. Did I mention the high-end part?  The average retail price for this jacket was well over 3000 bucks and could run as high as five grand.  Now I’m all for paying a fair dollar for a high-quality item, and this is a really nice piece, but … well, yeah.

If you decide that these hurdles are just a little too, er, hurdley for you but you still want to get yourself into a coat that gives you that same “classic-yet-edgy-modern” vibe, you are in luck.  There are some really nice pea coats out there this year, and while none of them are exact matches, you can still rock the same kind of look in a high-quality piece and save yourself three big ones in the process.

The Coat That Started It All

Schott New York 740N

Most pea coats are variants of the venerable United States Navy “740N” jacket, which was in turn derived from the Royal Navy’s “reefer” jacket. If you want to be a hardcore traditionalist you are in luck: The 740N is still made by Schott Brothers of New York and you can get one right here with a couple of clicks of the mouse.

There are no lower pockets, and the chest carries the full slate of eight buttons instead of the more modern six so you won’t look quite as trim as the esteemed Mr. Miller when you wear it. On the plus side, sowever, Schott jackets are renowned for their quality and finish and it’s hard to argue with the chance to wear an actual piece of 20th century history for 250 bucks.

The Coat That’s Easy To Find

Land's End Dark Grey Pea Coat

The coat I referenced in the original version of this post is still a solid choice. The Land’s End Wool Pea Coat (item #418176-A7X) in “Dark Charcoal Heather” has a clean look, will keep you warm, has better-than-average quality, and comes in at a price that your wallet will appreciate. Even better, you can probably just go down to the mall and grab one.

It carries the trim six-button fronting that you see on the Tom Ford jacket, but has a lower cut on the waist and might be a better fit for guys who dont have a runner’s body like JLM. At two hundred dollars, it’s an attractive option.

The Coat That Goes Off The Board

Ted Baker ZAINAB

Finally, my personal favourite. If you want to capture the feel and attitude of the Ford but aren’t necessarily welded to the idea of an actual pea coat, take a look at the herringbone coats from Ted Baker. The Zainab Herringbone coat comes in with a nicely trim waist, the edgy chest-high handwarmer pockets, and full flapped pockets on the lower front. It is a bit longer than the pea coat, has a single breast instead of the traditional naval double, and it is made from herringbone wool (thus the name) instead of the melton wool of a pea coat … but it is one seriously fine looking piece.

If you really must have the shorter cut, Baker’s Lolplum Herringbone Coat and Lolpear Pea Coat are worth a peek. They are both strikingly good looking and will give you a bit of a roguish edge with the way they straddle the gap between the old-school naval cut and the modern details of the Tom Ford.

I’ve worn a Ted Baker pea coat for a number of years now and I can vouch for the quality and the warmth. If you are willing to break the mold a bit this is the one I would recommend. If you have the body shape to pull it off, this is really going to turn some heads. Added bonus: The extra bit of length means you can wear this over a suit or a blazer and look nicely layered instead of desperately stuffed in, giving you a bit more bang for your hard-earned buck.

Hope this helps, and thanks again for reading. Sorry if that bit about the three thousand bucks broke your heart. I know it did mine.

Got Any REAL Advice, Or Is This All Fancy Shit?

200463_dustyorange_lEnough with the fancy shit. Do you have any useful tips for guys who wear normal clothes and not suits and foo-foo pantyboy stuff?

– Don’t Fucking Use My Name Either

Wow – hostility! Perhaps someone scratched your Camaro.

So, yeah. Calm down. And listen up. While I could spend the rest of this post arguing as to whether Not Dressing Like A Homeless Person constitutes “fancy”, I will take the high road here and give you a sage and useful piece of advice for guys who wear what you are terming “normal clothes” and that I am going to go way out on a limb here and guess means “jeans and tees”.

And that advice is this: Figure out whatever colour most of your jeans are (I’m gonna be Svengali here and guess that it’s “blue”) and then when you buy t-shirts, don’t buy that colour. Really. That’s it. If you jeans and shirt are the same colour you look like a bit of a nondescript tool. If you have a nice contrast, then you not only look neat, you stand out a bit too.

And if you absolutely must have a shirt in the same colour as most of your jeans (I’m looking at you, Leafs fans) then get one decent pair of jeans in a different colour – not just a different shade – and wear them with that shirt. You should have at least one good pair of black jeans anyway, and if you don’t … go buy ’em.

There. Easy-to-follow advice. And no fancy shit. Happy?

What Boots Does Jonny Lee Miller Wear On Elementary?

150686526What brand and style shoe does Jonny Lee Miller wear in “Elementary”?

– Jeff

That depends on which shoe you mean. If you are talking about the cool two-tone black and mid-brown boots he showed for the second half of the season, I believe that they are the leather “Hipster Chukka” boot from John Varvatos. Sadly, it appears that the two-tone version is not in this year’s catalogue. Some places at the retail level may still have them in stock, though, so if you are really jonesing for them it could be worth your time to look around.

While you are out shopping check out the “Richards” in grey suede, also from Varvatos. They are available in both a brogued and a wingtip version – the wingtip is what you will see Mr. Miller wearing if you happen to stumble across him wandering around New York outside of the Elementary set. Suede is red hot for men’s casual this spring and summer, and for good reason. A subtle suede in a classic cut and a light-yet-neutral colour looks great with almost any pant you would think to wear and gives you an effortlessly finished look and vibe.

Since we are on the topic, I should mention that the black tank boots that he wore last season were the “Flinder” from Kurt Geiger. Like the Varvatos boots, they have a nicely distressed and slightly beaten finish to give that sort of “I don’t even bother to worry about it and yet I still look insanely cool” look right out of the box. They are also on clearance as of this writing on the Geiger web store, so now is the time to lay them in for next fall. At significantly less than 100 bucks, this is a killer deal.

What About Conditioner?

34214_2_468I read your “Shampoo Your Face” post and now I have to ask: Should you use conditioner too?

– Jammy Dodger

Huh. Good point. I probably should have been more clear as to what is actually going on. The reason you want to shampoo your facial hair is to properly clean the follicles. Healthy follicles mean healthy hair. And when that hair is front and centre on your mug, and probably something that is going to come into some very intimate contact with the assorted lights of your life, well, you don’t want to skip.

No one wants to suck face with Jimmy Dandruffchin.

So shampoo is key. Conditioner, which has nothing to do with cleaning, not so much. Unless you are a card carrying member of ZZ Top of one of those Duck Dynasty types, the hair on your face probably isn’t long or dense enough to benefit from conditioner at all. If anything you risk clogging up some of your pores or follicles with the waxes and lubricants that are in most conditioners. So if you actually have a beard long enough to comb out, conditioner might help you. But for the average mope that is a step you can safely – and probably should – just skip.

What Was That Cool Shirt I Saw On “Elementary”?

Jonny Lee MillerI saw Johnny Lee Miller wearing this cool “Aviator” shirt on Elementary last week. I’ve looked for a brand called Aviator and come up with nothing. Can I buy this?

– Phil

First things first: It’s “Jonny”. No “h”. You and I might (correctly) think that the spelling variation is no big deal, but I spent the first seventeen years of my life living with one of these Jon-no-h types and trust me, they take it all very seriously. So Jonny it is.

With that out of the way, the brand you are actually looking for is called “Jacks and Jokers”. The company has licensed the classic trademarks of the United States Playing Card Company – Bicycle, Bee, Maverick and yes, Aviator – and turned them into a sweet line of graphic tees. The shirts are, quite frankly, great. The visuals are classic and more-or-less-iconic images that virtually everyone knows, the artwork harkens back to the ornate heyday of mid-century graphic design, and the quality is first rate. Be warned: These shirts are not cheap. Before you get freaked out by sticker shock, however, think of this as a long-term investment in your repetoire of style. Layer these up with a jacket or a cardigan or a casual vest and they work almost anywhere. At the pub with your buddies? Check. Casual day at work? Check. Breakfast date on a Saturday morning? Check. And the combination of righteous quality and timeless design will keep these looking as fresh and stylish in three years as they do right now.

This is definitely the right way to spend too much money on a shirt.

The shirt you saw was the “Aviator fade” in royal blue. Unfortunately, that particular shirt is no longer available. You can get the same graphic layout with the Aviator fade in peacock, or – if you want to stay with a more subtle colour choice – you can go with the full-sized graphic on a sage-hinted grey.

jacks-and-jokers-bee-92Since we are already pimping the product, I’ll point out that this isn’t the first time that we have seen Mr. Miller wearing Jacks and Jokers on the show. Two weeks earlier he was sporting a seriously swank red tee with the old “Bee” ace of spades design. This shirt is also from last year’s collection but you might be lucky enough to find some stock still in the stores. Annoyingly, the company web site has no way to search for retailers (an inexcusable oversight, really) so you are going to have to hunt around.