Shoes – Five Staples for Every Man’s Closet

Neal Santelmann wrote an article for entitled The Best Men’s Shoes. In the article he quotes Lynn Marks, an Atlanta-based image consultant and president of the London Image Institute, whose corporate clientele includes executives at Coca-Cola, American Express, AT&T and the Weather Channel as saying, “Men let themselves down on their shoes.  They either don’t think that shoes are important, or they seem to think that shoes can’t be seen. Either way, it’s a big mistake.”  This couldn’t have any more truth.

Be Smart:  5 shoes every man should own

According to Esquire Magazine, this short list are the shoes “a man truly needs.”  Invest wisely.  You’ll get a large amount of wear and will always be in style.

  1. Black Oxfords – The most common staple of the man’s shoe collection.  These can be worn all year round with almost anything: a suit, jeans and blazer combination, or with chinos and a sweater. Make sure to keep them dust free and polished.  Do not wear a brown belt with black shoes – ever.  Johnston & Murphy makes  a quality shoe.
  2. Brown Wing Tips – The key to decent wing tips are the color and comfort.  Be sure they’re a rich brown and not too casual.  They wear well in the C-wing with a nice navy suit.  If you’re up for a little edge, try wearing them with a tailored charcoal or light gray suit.  Be sure your belt is within a few shades of brown as the shoes.  Alligator belts are a nice match.
  3. Loafers – the workhorse shoe.  These shoes can be worn properly at the office or on a casual weekend.  Can be worn with wool pants, chinos, or shorts.  Either black or brown bode well.  Try Allan Edmonds for a nice loafer.
  4. Brown bucks (or chukkas) – Esquire recommends brown bucks, but I personally love a suede chukka boot.  These boots are low cut, falling just around the ankle.  These are great for the ‘business casual’ or relaxed office environment.  They also look great with jeans.  Clarks makes a very comfortable, stylish chukka.
  5. Off-white canvas sneakers – NOT running sneakers.  These are great for just about anything outside of work.  You need a pair.  Jack Purcell’s are the best on the market (and affordable too).

A True Testament to Prep

Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions. ~Coco Chanel

Ahh, fall.  The time of the year for rich color palettes, suede and back to school.  The season brings thoughts of gold and orange leaves lightly dusting the streets.  And, the younger generation begins another year of education.  I naturally associate back to school with a traditional uniform (perhaps because I had dreams of attending preparatory school in my earlier days).  You know the look – chinos, white oxfords, navy blazers and, of course, ties.

To most, a striped tie is a striped tie.  Yet one of the most recognizable, and my personal favorite, is the repp tie.  Although you’d think this style began in the U.S., you’d be mistaken.  This particular accessory was inspired by the British Army, prestigious universities and exclusive clubs.

In the 1902’s Brooks Brothers reassessed the repp tie by reversing the direction of stripes to go from right to left, distinguishing them from British-inspired patterns.  In the 1950’s this iconic style of became synonymous with “my Ivy League look.”  Ralph Lauren, JCrew, Rugby and Band of Outsiders are just a few labels who’ve continually made this item an American staple.

The fabric production makes it unique in that the weft (the top of the tie material) floats on the surface of the structural material from which the tie is made; and the underside of the tie fabric is always a darker color then the front.  The tightly woven silk ribs produce sharp, intense colors which are easily associated with essential prep.

Making a bold statement within the traditional space, the repp pairs nice with a suit or navy blazer.  You can also relax things a bit.  Try it out with a tweed jacket, or dark jeans and a cardigan.  It’s been said the striped tie is “recognized as adding strength and definition to the softer or wider face.”  Strong patterns and a good sense of style do nothing but exude confidence.

Oh, and one more thing.  While researching this article, I came across this Newsweek article on the new prep.  True Prep:  It’s a Whole New World, out this month, is a complete overhaul on the cheeky The Original Preppy Handbook written almost 30 years ago.  Take a look at author Lisa Birnbach and peek into the new prep of today – all from Greenwich, CT.

1969 Concept Store Opens in Chicago’s Gold Coast

On Tuesday, May 11, Gap opened up a 1969 concept store at 939 N. Rush (at Walton), formerly the space of boutique retailer, Jake.

1969 showcases Gap’s entire adult denim line with an accompanying assortment of vintage-esque clothing.  Long, narrow wood tables house stacks of denim in both the front and back of the store.  Patterned baby-doll dresses, distressed plaid shirts, denim jackets and vintage washed tees line the walls, allowing the shopper to put together the perfectly relaxed outfit.  The most striking feature of the store is definitely the giant denim wall, hiding the cash wrap and fitting rooms from view.  It houses over 700 pairs of jeans, which you can rifle through on the other end to find your size.  The concept store previews some unique denim finishes a couple of months prior to Gap store rollouts, but the size selection remains consistent with their larger counterparts.

The price point for Gap’s premium denim remains under $100, giving shoppers a more budget-friendly selection from neighboring high-end retailers Barneys, Marc Jacobs and Adriano Goldshmied.  Their fits are pretty amazing too, offering various styles for almost every shape and style.

Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a lot of press regarding the 1969 concept rollout.  After researching the internet, including the Gap, Inc. Web site, information was hard to come by.  Except for some premier openings, like Soho and Los Angeles, the retailer is keeping things pretty quiet.  Even when seeking other 1969 store locations through Gap’s Store Locater, the Rush Street shop is simply listed as “Gap.”  Perhaps they’re still working out their marketing plan.

While you’re there, walk north to Oak and Rush and check out the fantastic multi-level Hermes store opening this summer (hopefully).

UPDATE:  This store is now closed.  It didn’t even last a year.  I guess people in that area are more interested in paying $350 for a pair of jeans.

Feeling Gilt-y


Gilt Groupe took online upscale shopping, added a little exclusivity and got things right.

To take part in Gilt sales, you need an invitation.  A current member must invite you, thereby allowing you to take part in weekly sales at up to 70% off retail.   Items are offered in very limited quantity and when you recommend people, you get a little kickback.  Gilt offers its subscribers a $25 credit for every referral that purchases something from the site.

Offering everything from Ralph Lauren to Bulgari to Thom Browne – in limited supply – Gilt sells menswear, women’s clothing and accessories.  Sales are offered daily and items generally remain listed until quantities are exhausted.  But don’t worry, you can plan ahead.  When you sign up, Gilt provide a weekly email summarizing upcoming sales, so you can add dates to your calendar accordingly.  Each daily sale begins at noon.

The Gilt web page offers an extremely streamline look.  It’s interface is easy to use, user friendly and coincides with their upscale image. And, if something needs returned, no problem.  But be warned, they don’t offer cash refunding but will happily issue Gilt credit for future purchases.

I also love their blog, which provides a great mix of fashion and business.  It discusses current labels Gilt is selling, covers recent photo shoots and discusses the new labels to the scene.  It’s a well thought out concept and if you’re into fashion, worth your time.

Started in 2007 by  Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Gilt Groupe formed out of a bond of friendship.  Maybank, a West coast dot com mogul, and Wilson, an East coast luxury goods dealer, decided to broaden the country’s fashion sense from their New York City offices.  As their site states,

Alexis and Alexandra set out to take the New York invitation only sample sale “on the road” via the Internet superhighway; they made what was once accessible to New Yorkers, accessible to the country. With the launch of Gilt Groupe, ecommerce met fashion and your closet breathed a huge sigh of relief.