Fashion Is Not . . .

Necessarily about labels.  It’s not about brands.  It’s about something else that comes from within you.  Ralph Lauren

We are inundated with images everyday from all types of media sources concerning fashion.  It can be chaotic.  In order to create order out of disorder, one must have a game-plan to make sense of everything.  If one is not looking to pay top dollar, what you can do is search on-line as well as off-line for deals.  This, of course is contingent on how much you have to spend or are willing to spend.  Whether you are looking to purchase something high end or something comparable, the deals are out there!   You may have to conjure up your best Roy Ayers impression and keep searching.  If you know how to use Google, Bing, Yahoo or any of the several search engines the world wide web has to offer, you can find anything.  For today, anything is the first thing (and it is up for debate) a woman notices on a man, his shoes.

Allen Edmonds‘ reputation speaks for itself.  The quality is unsurpassed and for many men, it’s the paramount of shoes. The Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank sells factory seconds for a price in my humble opinion that are still too high.  Of course it depends on the style of shoe you are looking for.  The not-so-popular styles will sell for under $200,  The model in the feature picture is the McTavish.  It was discontinued and I’m going to speculate in 2014. It was resurrected with some tweaks then discontinued again in 2016.  I found these at Burlington Coat Factory late in 2014 while getting in touch with the feminine aspects of my astrological sign, Scorpio.  I scored these for $90.  Yes, $90.  This version originally sold for $325 and rebirth was sold for $295. Also on this trip, I scored a pair of Cole Haan Kiltie Tassel loafers in oxblood (burgundy) for $80.  These were originally priced at $260.  I did pump my fist repeatedly upon exiting after spending $170 opposed to handing over $585!

The spring of 2015 I began to search for suede loafers.  My favorite style is the tassel loafer.  With your best interests at heart, I want to inform you that suede shoes are a Spring, Summer and Autumn staple of choice.  The versatility of this shoe involves styles, colors and the way they can be coordinated with an outfit casually as well as not so casually.   I saw a review on a site I follow (Dappered) on a pair J. Crew Kenton suede tassel loafers.  I liked them a lot so I did a search for something similar but at a lower price point.  I came across these $140 Johnston & Murphy Ellington Moc Toe tassel loafers that were on sale.  The total price with shipping offered by the Sierra Trading Post via UPS was $52.10 ($48.13+$3.97).  I would like to state this is some major SCOREBOARD!  I saved $47.90 (Economy shipping offered by J. Crew is $5).  We established Allen Edmonds as a top tier shoe.  Cole Haan, in my opinion is a tier lower with Johnston & Murphy a hair behind.  But what if these brands are too high for your current bank account?  Gentlemen, I present to you JC Penney’s.  Yes, that JC Penney’s.  The one that just closed 138 stores nationwide.  I must be michin to suggest this place!  JC Penney’s offering is their Stafford Collection which is comprised of dress shirts, suits, suit separates, underwear, socks, pjs, robes, accessories and well the topic of this post, shoes.  Their shoes, in particular, the Stafford Gunner cap toe always receive good reviews.  It is a $120 leather boot.  You can find similar for much higher.  These boots came out in September of 2015 at an introduction price of $100.  The wonderful thing about JCP is they always run some kind of offer.  Free shipping, coupon codes, and percentages off a set amount, etc.  I waited until just before Christmas to press the trigger.  Free shipping and a $10 off coupon brought these to my door for $49.  These shoes are not on the level of the other two but with some TLC and a small rotation of shoes, these can last a few years.

I have couple of points I want to make before I conclude.  First and foremost, have knowledge of your shoe size as well as width.  It is very important.  Remember?  Look good, feel good!  One can look good but if your shoes don’t fit well, well you won’t feel good.  Lastly, go to a brick and mortar if possible.  As you are creating your style, you need to see first hand what works for you and if it’s the look you are trying to achieve. Some brands of shoes run small, some brands run large.  Sometimes this will occur with shoes from the UK (e.g. Clarks).  When you are faced with a situation when an on-line shop has something you want ridiculously in your price range, you know it will fit!   Also, read reviews.  Sometimes you can get the gist how a shoe will fit by the reviews that are given.  This has helped me on more than one occasion when a brick and mortar wasn’t within my immediate area.  If you see something that suits your taste and it is out of your price range,  research.  I cannot stress this enough.  The Johnston & Murphys score is only one of example of several I intimated in this writing.  One can find high end shoes at discounted prices but you have to do some recon(naissance).  One can find shoes of very good quality that are the retail chain’s brand for an excellent price.  This is a small representation of what one can find on-line and off-line.  Now apply this to sport coats, blazers, dress shirts, chinos, wool trousers, selvedge jeans, etc.  I’m certain you have got the picture.  Jal ga!

 

*Featured picture: Allen Edmonds McTavish

Creating Your Own Style . . .

Is easier than one thinks.  Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.  That my friend is a quote by the great Li Jun Fan better known as Bruce Lee.  His quote is applicable to just about anything as well as men’s fashion.  If you are like I am, you observe, you study and apply.

An important aspect (and what I feel in my humble opinion is most significant) of fashion is having a solid foundation.  A solid foundation means having your fundamentals down to a science.  If you ever played (dis)organized sports, there were always those guys who liked to hot dog everything.  What did these show-boaters have in common?   Zero fundamentals.  If you take short cuts, more often than not, everything crumbles like a house of cards.  It’s the same with how you dress.  It is absolutely no question when you dress well, you will be treated positively.  By being fundamentally sound, you will be able to evolve your own style.

The genesis of your wardrobe should be based on the classics (the fundamentals). These are timeless and will never go out of style!  In no particular order you should acquire the following: navy blazer/sport coat, white dress shirt, light blue oxford, v-neck sweater, polo shirt, v-neck and crew neck t-shirt (white, grey or black), Henley (short & long sleeve), grey trousers, chinos, indigo denim jeans, a tailored suit (preferably grey or navy).  As for shoes, one should invest in black dress shoes, brown casual/dress shoes and casual/dress boots.  A quick surf through the world wide web and what I have presented above is close to what most invite you to indulge save for a few more or a few less.

From this starting point, when you are comfortable, confident and have a grasp of what you desire in your look, you can expand from here and experiment.  The aforementioned list appears it could end up being rather expensive and it could be if you go high end with everything!  But metaphorically speaking, you’re poor & broke.  Many of us are always searching for a deal and they are out there.

For example, in the photograph to the right, I am wearing a Perry Ellis waistcoat ($28), an Alfani slim fit stretch dress shirt ($13), an Orsini Surrey Collection knit tie ($7) and a pocket square ($6) from a vendor on Ebay known as TheSquarExtraordinaire.  What you can’t see, I am wearing a pair Ralph Lauren chinos ($20) and a pair of Joseph Abboud suede monk straps ($60).  Total price: $134.  The vest, dress shirt, knit tie, pocket square and chinos were purchased from Ebay.  The monk straps from Sierra Trading Post!

Now for comparison’s sake, I chose Nordstrom because it is considered high end.  I took the average of the first 9 waistcoats, white dress shirts, knit ties, pocket squares and chinos listed on the respective site.  For the monk straps, I chose the first 9 suede because this style of shoe is what I wore and is great for summer wear!

  • Waistcoat, $86
  • Dress shirt, $55
  • Knit tie, $63
  • Pocket square, $36
  • Chinos, $68
  • Monk straps, $268

Total price: $576.  That’s a lot of cake.  If you can afford it, go for it!  But if you cannot, there are great, economical alternatives.  My outfit saved me $442.  You are aware a portion of what I saved was used for a day at the vineyard with some lovely friend?

The points I wanted to introduce are from having sound fundamentals, you can expand and create a style suitable to your tastes without working 4 jobs.  Next time, I will elaborate a little further on where to search for deals.  Jal ga!

 

*Featured picture: Jacket by Ermenegildo Zegna, shirt by Geoffrey Beene, pocket square by Windom Finery. glasses by Uniqlo