Monday, April 30, 2012

Nick Wooster hired by JCPenney

If you didn’t notice, this bomb dropped last Friday (copped from This Fits, copped from GQ, copped from the NY Post): Nick Wooster has been hired as the creative director behind JCPenney’s men's clothing line.
Assuming you’re a newbie to men's clothing, Wooster (or “Woost-God,” as he is colloquially referred to by GQ writers) is a menswear maven (and a native of Salina, KS). He was longtime creative director at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, released last year from Neiman Marcus for an openly frank appraisal of his position there (read, he said “fuck”). I can see how a company may not approve of that, but I personally appreciate when someone is candid in their self-expression. There’s plenty of people in this world, you can afford to piss a few off.

Nevertheless, the guy’s a style icon on and off the Internet, constantly gracing the pages of menswear blogs and street style Tumblrs. Smart move by JCPenney, where hopefully Wooster can invigorate their men’s line and inject a much-needed dose of style. With Penney’s far-reaching and affordably priced options, this could be a great collaboration. 

The cynic in me though can’t be quelled. Part of me thinks Wooster is over-qualified, like hiring Picasso to head McDonald’s ad department, and I worry that JCPenney will constrain him in pricing and overall creative direction. 
Still, the pairing has immense opportunity. So today I’m asking, what are your thoughts on JCPenney’s new hire?  Feel free to comment or email me directly, I love hearing from readers.
More news as it develops,

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quick Friday Style Tip

Style tip: don't over-prep an outfit. Things shouldn't be too uptight and perfect. A casual outfit should express its casualness in how it hangs off your body and how it evolves (or devolves) over the course of the day or night. On the one hand, you don't want to be that guy constantly primping himself, obsessing over having your sleeves rolled just right or having your shirt tucked just so . On the other hand, you don't want to leave the house in an outfit so artfully staged, it borders on a costume.
Example: an untied bow-tie or untucked shirt can look great if it occurs naturally, as the result of something like this:

...but not if it's worn distinctly untied or untucked:

Here, Nelly's wearing the bow-tie purposefully untied as a prop (I assume. I also did the same from my photo-shoot last weekend, as seen here). Don't make your clothes props. Props are for actors. Clothes are for style. A look like this should come about organically, not purposefully prepped before you leave the house. The former is rugged and laid-back; the latter makes you look like a fool (I feel bad hating on Nelly because "Ride Wit Me" was the first song I could rap to, but dude's gotta learn). 
More news as it develops,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde

If you didn’t notice it here, my friend Bizi and I worked on our first (of many hopefully) collaborative photo-shoot. Normally here at Midwest-Dressed I offer simple, foundational style tips to help you get the ball rolling on upgrading your wardrobe. Hopefully now, you can start to see some of my advice in action. And, with summer coming and my schedule clearing considerably, I’ll be able to send a lot of similar content your way. 

The inspiration here was 1967's "Bonnie and Clyde," with a modern twist.

Want to step up your suit game without reinvesting completely? First, find yourself a good tailor. Notice my my pants are tapered, and my figure is slim. Warren’s is boxy. That’s an excess of fabric, not fat, and any good tailor can make your suit cut a lean figure, even if you can’t. 
Another simple step? Throw on a pair of crazy socks. This trend seems to have nearly cemented itself in menswear, which is nice because it allows you to break out from the boring browns and blacks you’re probably pairing with dress shoes. Find something that compliments what you’re wearing (or your date) to tie the look together. 

Socks by Happy Socks, Tie by Public Opinion, Shirt by Calibrate, Shoes by Cole Haan
The same goes for ties. The above tie is linen, and cut a bit slimmer (which kind of goes against the spirit of the point collar, dress shirt). Also note, the dark purple and gray pair nicely with the pale purple shirt. There’s no problem with matching colors, as long as you’re not overly matchy by wearing things exactly the same color and shade.

Again, peep below. Silk, purple tie, with a charcoal and white checkered, button-down shirt (which actually has faint, thin purple lines criss-crossing it). You can do a lot with the same color palette if you’re mixing up shades, patterns, textures, etc.   

Tie by Calibrate, Shirt by Gap, Vintage Burberry Hat that was my grandfather's and which I generally don't wear except to theme parties

This time, blue on blue. Shirt by J.Crew, Tie by Clavin Klein
Had to end with a badass pic, or do I sound like a tool saying that about myself? Anyways, simple OCBD, black silk bow tie (although don’t wear a bow tie intentionally untied. More on this later this week). All suits were by Ben Sherman, which I thoroughly recommend. Their pieces are solid quality fabric and construction for the price, and since they’re British based, they’re cut fairly slim. They fit me great off the rack and require only a minimal of tailoring (because all suits require tailoring). 

Shirt by J.Crew, Tie by Bruno Piatelli, Watch by Marc Jacobs, as seen here

Special thanks to Bizi for participating and her wonderful mother for taking pictures/putting up with us for an afternoon. Lord knows I was hungover.
More news as it develops,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hari Mari Sandals

For those of you who didn’t know, yesterday was Earth Day, a day Wikipedia describes as “a day to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment.” You want to talk eco-friendly? Let’s talk Hari Mari, a new brand of flip flops launched earlier this year.

Hari Maris are made with recycled rubber, reprocessed foam, and sustainable (and biodegradable) hemp. That means their eco-footprint is tiny compared to the statement you’ll make wearing them. Hari Maris are different from any flip flop I’ve seen in their bright white sole and two-tone straps in a variety of colors. Don’t want to be another guy wearing a pair of Rainbow sandals? (You know I’m big on doing your own thing) Try the orange, green, or blue to stand out from the crowd. But remember, a statement piece stands on its own. You can rock an orange sandal as long as the rest of your outfit is toned down. 

I went with crimson and blue.
Not to mention the fact that they are comfortable. I mean really comfortable. I’ve worn leather flip flops. I’ve worn rubber flip flops. I’ve even worn the cheap plastic kind you’d only wear in a public shower. Nothing compares to the Hari Maris though. As far as flip flops go, they’re the comfiest I’ve worn yet. That recycled rubber and reprocessed foam makes for a soft bed to lay your foot on, which molds to the shape of your arch the more you wear it. 

Another important factor is Hari Mari’s straps. Some previous flip flops I’ve owned had straps that dug into my feet, grating against my foot and making the things unbearable (hence a short, but ill-advised Croc phase). Not so with Hari Maris. I’ve worn them lounging around the house for about a month now with no problems. The nylon straps and hemp footbed are soft, and getting softer with each wear.   

Still not sold? Three dollars from every pair goes to Cook Children’s health care to help kids with pediatric cancer. So this summer you can fork over another $40 for another plain pair of brown leather sandals (which, by the way, don’t mix well with water. Or sweaty feet). Or you can grab a new pair of sandals you’ll actually wear outside of the pool, plus you can give something back. It’s for the kids. 

More news as it develops,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What Not to Wear vol. 5

Do you go to the gym? You should. I do, that’s how I keep this sculpted body (seriously, you could grate parmesan on my abs). But there’s a lot I don’t like about my gym. There’s tools pumped full of steroids who wear wife-beaters. There’s kids who sit on the machines watching ESPN. But you know the biggest problem? THESE:
FiveFingers shoes: $110 to any idiot willing to buy them
These shoes are ridiculous. At best, they’re stupid looking (in my opinion). At worst, they’re “heinous” (in the exact words of every girl I asked for this post). 
The idea behind them is to create a more natural, barefoot feel on the foot, which is supposedly healthier (Although I don’t agree, because I’ve drunkenly run down the street a time or two in my day and my feet always hurt the next day). These shoes specifically (Vibram FiveFingers) claim to encourage “a more natural forefoot strike during running, but also allow the foot to move and work in a completely natural way.” Sounds great, but in terms of comfort, I really don’t see how they can be much better than these:

New Balance 574: $60

Or anything on this website, any of which is a much more stylish, much more appropriate choice for the gym/exercise/walking in public. Because you know what? Ass-less chaps are comfier than wearing underwear AND pants. But for the sake of my dignity, I throw on a pair of each every day. You don’t have to sacrifice style for function. 

More news as it develops (and if you need help picking out a new pair of gym sneakers),

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reader Question: Rolled Pants?

Reader question:
“What is with the rolled up pants thing?”
Good question, and I’m here to help.
Trends come and go, like the women I spend my Saturday nights with. A trend right now (and for awhile actually) is for pants to have no break (the place where your pants hit your shoes). We’re seeing this in everything from chino to denim, and as the trend climbs higher and higher up the ankle, menswear swag stars are rolling their pants higher and higher to keep up. 

Joshua Kissi & Travis Gumbs of Street Etiquette

If you want to be trendy and look fashionable, try rolling your pants a bit, though this shouldn’t look forced or overly thought out. The idea is to look effortlessly cool, not like you’ve been fussing in front of the mirror for an hour. You are a guy, after all. 
If not, no worries. You can still be a well-dressed, stylish dude. Remember, style is achieved by foundational essentials: properly-fitting clothes, quality pieces that are versatile, balanced color schemes, etc. In general, I’d aim for  slight to no break with your pants and trousers. If your pants crumple on top of your shoes, it makes you appear short (like your pants are too long for your legs, or like you’re sagging. Do people still do that?) Similarly, showing a lot of ankle makes your pants seem too short, which can make you look taller by comparison. 

My personal recommendation is to buy pants with a slight break. You can roll them to achieve no break, but you can always roll them back down should the trend fade. Ideally you want pants to last as long as possible, not as long as they are cool. 

High                                                            Low                                                         Medium 

Hope this helps,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Barneys Co-Op Sale

Sale currently in progress at Barneys C0-Op. Like any great department store, Barneys has its fair share of high-end designer wear and other quality pieces. Unfortunately, being that it is Barneys, it can tend to be a bit pricey. That’s why I’m always on the lookout to jump on a sale if they have one. For around the same price point as other department stores around here, you can find a lot more variety in pieces, brands, and styles (they reflect that east coast, NYC fashion influence). Plus it doesn’t hurt that they have free shipping and you won’t pay tax unless you live in NY, so the dollar amount you see is what you pay. Here’s some suggestions of picks, based on a balance of price and quality. 

Gant Rugger Army Shirt Jacket- $69 (And click here on how to wear it)

Co-Op Slim Chinos- $69
Marc by Marc Jacobs Twill Pant- $89
Gant Rugger Fair Isle Crewneck (save for next winter)- $99
3sixteen grey selvedge jeans- $99
Levi's Straight Leg Corduroy- $99
Rag & Bone Shawl Collar Cardigan- $139
Co-Op Houndstooth Blazer- $179

And click here for more.

More news as it develops,


Friday, April 13, 2012

Pants Falling Off? Get Belted

A belt is a menswear essential (like, you’re getting judged by someone if you’re not wearing one). They come in a variety of lengths, colors, and materials. If you’re truly looking to build the foundations of a wardrobe and you’re in need of a belt, look to these essentials:
Opt for brown over black- it goes with more.
Look for something around 1 inch wide. Wide belts are considered less formal and vice versa. One inch works as well on a suit as a pair of shorts (or your forehead).

Go with plain leather. Again, it goes with more. Plus you don’t want to look like you’re wearing a pimp costume.
Although arguably, this guy is too ballerific to need a belt.
You know that extra tab of belt that sticks out after you lock in your belt? You want that to be reasonable. Nothing absurdly long flopping off the side of your hip. Look to get 1-2 inches past that first belt loop on your pants.
J.Crew plaque belt- $50
J.Crew dress belt- $53
Trafalgar 1 inch leather belt- $63
Everlane slim belt strap- $30

More news as it develops,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Warby Parker Glasses

I’ve rocked contacts since about the 5th grade, when glasses were just no longer comfortable on my face (that, and I was at the age where I was trying desperately to fit in, and anything that made me look like a nerd had to go). I had never looked for a new pair until now.  
Glasses have resurged in a big way, and in a number of styles. If you wear contacts you know that sometimes you just don’t feel like wearing them, and it’s nice to fall back on a casual pair of glasses (rather than bluff your way through a day of pretending to recognize the blurry outlines of your friends). In my search for a new pair, I stumbled upon Warby Parker. Stylish frames for $95 a pair (with free shipping and returns), plus they donate a pair to someone in need for each pair they sell. What’s not to like?
The ultimate kicker is that they’ll send you up to five pairs, free of charge, to try on at home for a few days. This was the best part, because you can see how the frames look on you (an important aspect of any Internet shopping experience), but it also gives you a chance to wear them for a while, to make sure they’re comfortable (my old glasses used to kill my nose and give me a terrible headache. See? I was a nerd). 

Decide on your pair, send ‘em back, and place your order with the real prescription. Then you’ll get your glasses soon, and so will someone who needs a pair to live life to the fullest. How sweet is that?
PS- a great feature of Warby Parker is that, if you don’t know your prescription, they’ll call your doctor and get it for you, which is nice because glasses prescriptions are more complicated then I thought a prescription could be.

PSS- In no way was I paid or compensated by Warby Parker to write this. I don't even think they know about it. But if you guys read this and want to send me something, who am I to say no?
More news as it develops,

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chuck Taylor Gang

If you’re not ready for flip-flops quite yet, or like me, you just can’t grow out of sneakers, try a pair of all-white lowtops (I favor the canvas Chuck Taylors. Classic look, go well with damn near anything, and you can toss ‘em in the wash when they’re dirty). Try them with this look:

Hartford Linen Sport Shirt from Barneys
Navy shorts from Banana Republic

Converse sneakers from any self-respecting shoe store

Easy way to color block (get it? Blocks of color), which is a great spring look that transitions from the dull drab of winter to the bright, hot, humid spring. 
PS- since it has been so humid, look for a shirt in lightweight linen or very thin cotton. It lets you wear long sleeves without sacrificing comfort. You'll know when you feel it, and it'll be a great piece to have all summer long.
More news as it develops,

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Not to Wear vol. 4

I decided to walk to class today for the first time in awhile. I regretted it immediately (too far, too hot, too sunny, not enough hot babes). But look what I saw!

Jean shorts. Jean shorts?! Yes, jean shorts. Because in one of those epic blunders in menswear history, someone said to himself, “Hey. Jeans are cool. I bet jean shorts would be even more cool!” (or probably something even more idiotic than that). And some people, some naive, helpless people, liked the idea.

Sorry for the weird angle. It's hard to snap a pic with your phone without looking like a creeper.

DO NOT wear jean shorts (or jorts as they are often called, in order to make fun of them and describe them all in one word). There is no reason to wear jean shorts. They aren’t more comfortable and they sure as hell aren’t better looking than anything else you could be wearing. Wear regular shorts, preferably bermudas (you know, the dressy looking kind that aren’t cargo shorts). With low-top Chuck Taylor’s and a t-shirt (albeit it looks kind of ill-fitting), this outfit wouldn’t have been half bad. Jean shorts though are an automatic no-go. (No one gets laid in jean shorts. Trust me.)
More news as it develops,

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Women Dream of Men in Suits

Another guest post! This time from Tonya Vrba, another midwest girl who, like me, is tired of people like GQ characterizing midwest menswear as "relaxed fit" (though to be fair it wasn't GQ themselves, but they didn't really defend us either). Check out her post below:
Once upon a time, in a land far away, men dressed to the nine for the simple honor of handing young women roses. Actually, that happened at the University of Iowa. Every girl swooned over the men and wanted a flower of their own. What the men did was ingenious and it all had to do with style.
The flowers these men handed out were not real. Of more importance was the delicate note attached to each one. The note reminded women to be wary of their health and check for breast cancer. It also included the contact information for a local clinic where they could go for more information. While these flowers bore an important message, they could have advertized anything.  Women would have still came just for the smile and the flower. The men, with their boxes of notes, ran out within a couple short hours.

What is it that attracted women of all ages to discover what the men were up to? Barney Stinson may have something there when he declares that women are attracted to men in suits. While this is certainly true, there is something much more important. No matter who you are or what you have in your closet, you have the most important style accessory – your smile.
That tough guy look may work on your guy friends, but seriously, nothing is more attractive than a big smile. Smile big, use your teeth and be excited. Your smile says so many things that your clothes cannot. It expresses happiness, excitement and interest as well as showing off your confidence. There is nothing more attractive.

When the situation presents itself, do everyone a favor and wear a suit. There are many different kinds colors and fabrics. If the choices overwhelm you, remember you can never go wrong with a white dress shirt underneath. 
To really amp up your attractiveness, find a tie that matches your eyes. This will make them appear to shine when you smile and talk to those around you. You may have to play with different shades of colors, but you will know when you find it. Face a mirror and hold two ties up by your eyes. Choose the one that makes them pop.

Last comes the suit itself. Black is a good choice, along with grey. If you choose a dark blue suit, make sure the color of your tie doesn’t clash. When you walk out dressed to the nine, say these words to yourself: Bond, James Bond.  If Mr. Bond could smile, he’d have twice as many women falling to his feet.
Where ever you go, you will get the kind of looks you want. Keep smiling and hold your head high knowing you look pretty suave for a Midwestern guy.

Author BioTonya Vrba is a passionate writer. Her work has been published in newspapers and blogs. She writes frequently about health, career and dating issues. Tonya currently writes with The Online Dating Site Blog. Learn more about her work at her personal website.

More news as it develops,