Tag Archives: shoes

My Cordovan Chukka Boots from Alden

With many things pertaining to smarter modes in menswear, I’m often late to the party. I didn’t fully understand the pleasure (or importance) of a well-tailored suit or what went into a well-made shoe until my late 30s. When I “discovered” things like Warby Parker, J.Crew’s Ludlow suits, Indochino, Kamakura or The Tie Bar, I learned that other smartasses in the menswear ether had known about them for years. I don’t claim to be inventing any wheels here, and I will never pretend to be an expert. We get there when we get there.

Another party to which I arrived late is Alden. To be clear, I’ve certainly been aware of Alden and their gold standard in American shoe and boot making for a long time. In fact, I’ve been coveting a pair of Alden’s cordovan chukka boots for several years. My new arrival to the Alden party comes in the form of actually owning a pair. Continue reading My Cordovan Chukka Boots from Alden

Saving My Soles With Taps

Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we make assessments when we look one another over. Other than the obvious signals to financial status and, of course, taste, the choices a man makes about what he puts on himself offer clues to his character.

One of those clues – something that impresses me about a man – is his shoes. It’s not about an expensive pair of shoes. I’m actually rather unimpressed with obvious displays of prestige or the perception thereof. What does impress me is when a man selects tastefully and takes care of those selections. A brilliant shine and a well-tended heel say something. Dull shoes with worn heels say something else. Continue reading Saving My Soles With Taps

My Shopping Plans for Black Friday 2013

Danté’s Inferno starts on “Maundy Thursday” in the year 1300. In the modern age, I believe his tenth circle of Hell would ensue on Black Friday – a day invented by retailers that makes employees want to kill themselves from pressure to make goal numbers and causes shoppers to kill each other (literally) to get the best price on even more stuff. I would rather swallow live bees than walk into a Macy’s, a Walmart or even Barney’s on Black Friday.

Aside from supporting my fabulous local businesses within walking distance, like Fine and Dandy and Domus, my Black Friday pursuits will happen strictly online in the warmth and safety of my own home, where the coffee, music and mood are infinitely better than what I’d experience in a mall.

When it comes to shopping for fit-specific clothes online, I prefer to buy from brands with which I already have a size and quality relationship. For example, I know I’m a 30/34 in Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit 501s, I know I’m an 8 1/2 in Aldens or Converse, I know I’m a medium with casual shirts and tees at J.Crew, and I know I can get a perfectly-fitting custom suit based on my measurement profile in my Indochino account.

As the shopping frenzy lurks, I happen to be in the market for what I mentioned above. Here’s a more specific list of what I’m looking for:

Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit 501s
According to an email I just received, Levi’s is offering 30% off site-wide, plus free shipping, until midnight on Sunday December 1st. I have two nicely worn pairs of 501 Shrink-to-Fits. One pair is very well-worn, and the other pair is in-between. I’m in the mood for a third pair to keep nice and dark, shrinking them down with hot water with that crucial first wash. From there, I’d wash them very infrequently, inside-out and in cold water with a hang dry.

Alden Plain Toe Chukka Boots
I’ve put these off for too long. And since Alden itself does not have an online storefront, one has to go through one of their stockists to snag a pair from the interwebs. For my purposes, it looks like Barney’s, who sells this lifetime investment in shell cordovan for a full retail price of $675. My fingers are crossed for some kind of site-wide sale for the holiday spendfest.

Converse Jack Purcells
I have exactly two pairs of sneakers. One is a pair of canvas Chuck Taylors in white, and the other is a pair in navy (now sun bleached and on their last legs). I’ve had my eye on an iconic pair of Jack Purcells for some time, and J.Crew has “remastered” versions of these canvas icons with some subtle style upgrades from the originals. They’re available in white or black and go for $60 full retail. I’d go with white.

Plain White Slim T-shirts
Speaking of J.Crew, I have three pairs of their slim “broken-in” v-neck tees and I love them. In my experience, a great-fitting t-shirt is surprisingly hard to come by. These tagless tees are arguably the best fitting and most comfortable t-shirts I’ve ever worn. I know it doesn’t sound like the sexiest purchase one could make, but I need a few slim broken-in crew neck tees.

Another Custom Suit
It’s no secret that I love Indochino’s custom suits. A recent purchase of a premium navy suit from Indochino whetted my appetite for another one. The hand of the Super 140s fabric (95% wool, 5% cashmere) is insane. I’m also looking at the Essential Blue Suit (Super 100s), which isn’t quite navy but something lighter, with a little slate in the tone. I do know Indochino is having a Black Friday sale from Tuesday November 26th to midnight Monday December 2nd. They’re offering 50% off select items, and 20% off all orders over $600.

I don’t think I’ll pull the trigger on all of these things, but I will definitely do some damage by Monday. I do know that when the stampede begins at midnight on Thanksgiving at retail rodeos everywhere, I’ll probably be asleep or watching Netfilx. But on Friday, keeping a safe distance from big stores, I will turn up my Holiday Spotify Playlist, enjoy my own amazing coffee and murder any leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. I will also be visiting the aforementioned retailers and other favorite brands online to see what deals I can get on some handsome, well-made, affordable and workable goods.

At some point, I should also probably figure out what I’m getting as gifts for everybody else.

Prepping the Arsenal: Shining Shoes

Sunday is my day to catch up, recharge and prepare for the week ahead. Part of the ritual entails what I think of as “prepping my arsenal,” which includes cleaning, laundry, ironing and shining my shoes, which I demonstrate in this groundbreaking tour-de-force. Enjoy.

Podcast Episode 10: Shorts, Flip-Flops, Aereo, Cars and Shaving

After a witchy winter, spring has sprung, including a little flirtation with 80º F earlier in the week. With the warmer weather come shorts and flip-flops, about which I have some definite feelings I express in this episode. And though I did enjoy the time with my partner-in-crime at this year’s New York International Auto Show, I discuss the vanilla experience of the show overall, which exhibited fleets of boring-looking luxury cars, stripped of all character and sex appeal and in desperate need of design CPR. Also on my mind, and on the radar of media/entertainment reporters lately, is Aereo, a brilliant (and affordable) service that provides live broadcast television over the internet to computers, iPads, iPhones, and the Roku. It’s a beautiful disruption to the stale broadcast and cable subscription models that has networks and cable providers really pissed. And finally… just when you think you’re going to learn something new in a magazine or on a blog about getting the perfect shave, just remember: you’re not. It’s all been said before, and there is nothing new to say or learn. (But it won’t stop me from writing my own “definitive” piece on getting the perfect shave. Stay tuned for that nonsense.)

Thanks for listening!

Featured music:
“Love’s Theme” by Barry White & The Love Unlimited Orchestra – iTunes | Amazon

How To Kill It on the Red Carpet at the Tony Awards


It’s no news that stars in Hollywood command a bigger paycheck than their Broadway counterparts. Yet with all the access and resources that come with the money (stylists, designers, etc.), many celebrities still manage to screw it up on the red carpet, confirming more non-news: money can’t buy taste, refinement or style.

Last year, I wrote a piece on what I’d wear to the Tony Awards. It’s not a look that will make you stand out like Alan Cumming, whose style is a well-earned signature that should not be attempted by amateurs. No. This is about nailing it with respect for time-tested black tie. There is a reason George Clooney, Daniel Craig or anyone dressed by Giorgio Armani or Tom Ford make the best-dressed list among all the other handsome movie stars: they don’t f%k with the constraints of solid, well-tailored, bulletproof black tie. And neither should you. (Unless, of course, you are Alan Cumming, the legendary Patrick McDonald or someone determined to be known as the male, red-carpet equivalent of Cher.)

While my suggestions from my original piece remain mostly intact, I have made some tweaks. Here’s the rundown:

The Tux


Keep it simple. The Essential Dinner Jacket Tuxedo from Indochino (www.indochino.com) is not just some generic tuxedo off the rack. It’s a black, medium-weight, all-season Super 120s wool/silk blend (97% wool, 3% silk) that will take care of you for life. And since it’s Indochino, it’s a custom, made-to-measure suit built to fit you and only you.

As with all custom suits from Indochino, you have some customization options with the jacket and trousers. For the jacket, go with a peak or shawl collar (NOT a notch lapel, which is for regular suits and jackets only), one button in the front, functional sleeve buttons, single or double vent in the back (though with tuxedos, you can go with no vents) and no pocket flaps. Double-breasted is also an option here, but only for taller men with a leaner build. You can also choose your bemberg lining and your custom monogram. For the trousers, go with no pleats (flat-front), no cuffs and no belt loops. Side tabs are a nice option here.

If you’re not comfortable self-measuring, have a custom tailor help you for $20 or so. (If you’re in NYC, I can help you.) Since Indochino’s turnaround is between four and five weeks, the time to order your custom tux is now, especially if any tailoring adjustments are necessary when the tux arrives. And if any tailoring is required, Indochino will pick up the tab for up to $75.

The best part is the price. $379. Tax is included and shipping is free.

The Shirt

Tux Shirt

Please do not wear a wing-collar shirt. They are for morning suits, tails, magicians, poker dealers and Chippendales dancers. Wear a standard or classic spread collar (shown) with holes for studs and French cuffs. For the money, Charles Tyrwhitt makes my favorite tuxedo shirt: the Marcella bib front classic. It’s 100% Egyptian cotton with a pique texture, available in classic or slim fits. They’re $99 each, but Tyrwhitt will give you two for $160. Get them online (www.ctshirts.com) or at one of their Manhattan stores: Madison & 46th, 7th Ave. & 50th. or 6th Ave. & 45th.

The Bow Tie & Cummerbund

Bow Tie & Cummerbund set

The bow tie is a given, yet the cummerbund seems to have fallen by the wayside. A rule for the tux is that we should not see any shirt below the jacket button. The cummerbund fixes that. This is, of course, not a concern with double-breasted dinner jackets.

My friends at Fine and Dandy sell perfect black bow ties and cummerbunds as a set. They’re both made right here in NYC with 100% silk, with cotton backing on the cummerbund. The very reasonable $75 set is available on their website (www.fineanddandyshop.com) and at their sensational shop at 445 West 49th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues in Hell’s Kitchen.

On a style note: we must know how to tie our own bow tie. The pre-tied variety is a cop out. I actually taught myself with the help of a brilliant how-to video from The Hill Side. Check it out here.

On another style note: please don’t wear a standard necktie, however black it may be. There is a growing perception that a standard necktie is appropriate for black tie. It isn’t. It’s a lazy man’s cheat that has a funeral effect, making the wearer look like a well-dressed pallbearer. Black tie is an occasion with deliberate and celebratory apartness from regular suit and tie. Wear a bow tie and celebrate.

The Bling

Timex and Formal Set

If you were lucky enough to inherit a badass formal set of studs and cufflinks from your granddad, you’re all set. Otherwise you’ll need to invest in a set of your own. Thanks to Matt and Enrique at Fine and Dandy, you can snag a smart and handsome black and silver set for a very cool $49, available from their website (www.fineanddandyshop.com) or at their Hell’s kitchen shop.

Since so many of us tell time with our smartphones nowadays, a watch is totally optional. But I am a huge fan of a simple and handsome (and functional) wristwatch. If you’re in need, I’m a sucker for a Timex. My favorite for formalwear is the silver-tone, stainless steel Timex Originals Classic Round with a black or white face (shown). It takes a licking and keeps on ticking for a cool $75.

The Shoes

Tuxedo Shoes

Unless you have a busy black tie schedule, formal shoes (called pumps) won’t get a ton of wear. But one should invest in a smart, handsome, timeless pair that are specially reserved for formal occasions only. Whatever they are, they should be simple and nondescript patent leather, without any perforations or designs on them. Unfortunately, your favorite wingtips or monk straps, however glossy their shine, are not appropriate.

SuitSupply sells one of the handsomest pairs of formal shoes I’ve ever seen. Called the “Tuxedo Shoe” from their Classic Line, it’s a slim-profile shoe of polished patent leather made with Italian calfskin. They run $289, and are available online (www.suitsupply.com) or at their SoHo store at 453 Broome Street, between Greene and Mercer Streets.

The Ultimate Accessory

George - Tonys

As of this writing, I have no plans on Sunday, June 9th. But I’m game. We would tweet, take Instagram photos, discuss whose face work is holding up and giggle like school kids. It would be a blast. Think about it.

In Conclusion…

This is the Tony Awards, celebrating the highest honor in American theater. It’s an occasion for which one shows up with respect: respect for oneself, respect for the theater, respect for the artists, respect for the tradition, respect for the honor and respect for the fact that there will be cameras. Dress for it.

The good news is that it doesn’t take thousands of dollars or a stylist to pull it off…

The Cost Review…

The Tuxedo: $379
The Shirt: $99
The Bow Tie & Cummerbund: $75
The Bling: $49 (formal set) + $75 (watch)
The Shoes: $289

TOTAL COST with me as your date: Priceless.