Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Color Commentary: A Complimentary Blog

By Kyle Slavin
It is time to discuss the most important, most abstract, and most objective aspect of a gentleman’s attire - accent colors.

We have spoken at lengths about the quality of fabric, the importance of tailoring, the style, the fit, and the history behind dressing well and looking good. (For example, our contributors could write the detailed lifeline of a high-quality suit, from sheep to shoulders. We just won’t let them.)

But what of color? Matching a man’s palette to their suit tone, pairing their primary color with accents and flair - there are an endless amount of possible missteps that a gentleman can make just by getting dressed in the morning.

Essentially, your overall appearance is a gauge by which others take “you” in. Bland color choices denote a bland character, and bold color choices mirror similar personality traits. For example, a purple tie and kerchief on a slate gray suit can project daring and liveliness in its wearer, but it only “works” if the guy wearing it is in fact lively and daring.

You are what you project. Bold choices denote a bold character, and the stronger the statement means the longer your image lasts.

Let’s get some basics down:

(Disclaimer: NEVER put pattern on pattern, no matter what the color may be. Checkered ties primarily pair with single-color shirts. And make sure stripes never attempt to complement stripes. It won’t work!)

THE BLACK SUIT - A staple of our business culture, this is the staunchest “frame” there is. Color-wise, black is the ultimate base and stands to contrast any bold complimentary color. (Yes, you can get away with a fuchsia or a bright red accent, but you better have a big personality.) And as the suit softens into a slate or metal gray, so too can your shirt and tie soften in hue.

BLUE - Traditionally a calming and soothing color that reflects intelligence and safety. Hence, many corporations’ logos involve blue, as do the clothing choices of those who work there. A safe choice in any environment, blue pairs well with a gray suit, and can be easily accented with a yellow tie (or vice versa). So, you have a big interview lined up? Be safe, wear blue.

PURPLE AND GREEN - These are the classic colors of royalty. They represent power and nobility, as they did back in Ancient Rome. Elegantly understated if worn correctly, the purple must air on the violet/softer side, and the green must be a vibrant and dark Emerald shade. As for suit accompaniment, purple tends to look better with a slate or pinstripe gray suit, whereas the green can be worn with either a blue or black suit. Both colors pair with a deep gold tie, as Rolex and the L.A. Laker uniforms exemplify. Go LA!

RED - Want to live dangerously? Try red - this color projects liveliness, fire, unpredictability, and emotion. It is instantly the most bold shade in the room, and it must be worn by someone who must instantly be noticed (think Jessica Rabbit). As the color red brings such a strong statement, it is difficult to pair with any color but black or white. No other color can hold up.

YELLOW AND ORANGE - As a primary color, stay away from yellow. Yellow elicits anxiety, frustration, and anger. Of all the colors of the spectrum, yellow is the brightest and most difficult for the eye to absorb. Yellows work well as an accent to a variety of blues and greens (see above), but there’s a reason that this color is a synonym for “cowardly”.

As for orange, unless it is late October, we would recommend against it as well. Our sources describe orange as “spontaneous and uplifting”, but it comes across as a weak and reserved color choice. Pairing horribly with most accompanying hues, it is our professional suggestion to steer clear of the citrus.

IN CLOSING, take the time to consider your pairings. Assemble your ensemble. Configure your display. For every man exists the right colors, creating an image that issues a statement long before any words are spoken.

We are all superheroes, and our outfits have power. What should your power be?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Not All Savings are Equal: The Importance of Spending on Things That Matter

By Kyle Slavin
Let’s be honest for a second. We’ve all taken a hit over the last few years, and that hit was focused directly on our wallets. Target acquired: bank account eliminated, ramen noodles for a month. Even the most lavish of folks are cutting back on their expenditures, thinking out their financial plans well in advance, and adjusting accordingly to this awful economy. But remember: there is a difference between the frugal and the fiscally anemic, the spendthrift and the downright broke. 

The difference lies in the planning and research behind your purchases.

Use this moment to understand the usability and value in your spending – believe it or not, this affects you every single day of your life. Is it more valuable to save $50 at the grocery store, or to save $50 on a pair of jeans? To eat at a high-end restaurant on one fancy night, or to overspend on drinks every weekend? And when is it prudent to pay more for something of value?

Let’s start in a simple “dos and don’ts” format:

DO map out your monthly payments, and compare them to your incoming funds. This sounds like the simplest advice ever, but you would be surprised at how many folks don’t make a balance sheet. If you bring in $3500 a month, you may think you can afford to buy the satellite cable package on first glance.  (“But it has HBO for free!” No, it doesn’t.)  Tally up those bills, and you may realize that after rent, car payment, gym membership, and your custom laser hair removal, you only have $200 to work with. And you haven’t even eaten yet! Be smart – plan ahead.

DON’T buy out of want, but rather out of need. For example, a certain American Gentleman writer is an avid basketball player. He finds himself with five or six pairs of basketball shoes at any given time, and he knows they each cost $70 or more.  For someone so fiscally responsible, how could this happen?

Well, between sly corporate advertising and our own personal dependences, most of us have a weak spot somewhere. His just happened to be basketball shoes.

To combat this, he first realized his weakness and addressed it: no more shoes until the previous pair were a liability. That means no matter what sales there were, no matter what brands were offered, he  had to stick to his guns. With time and wear, those six pairs of shoes whittled down to two pairs, a much more manageable number, and he ended up saving around $70 every couple months. 

So, whats YOUR weakness?

DO spend more on something that will last longer, or get more use. In the long run, this will save you money.  Do you wear jeans every day? From a fashion standpoint, you shouldn’t, but that’s not the point. If you utilize those jeans regularly, it is worth it to get the costlier brand-name pair rather than the discount pair. Yes, it is more expensive. But they will last longer, look better, and be more reliable in hems, buttons, and inseams than the alternative. What’s the point of saving a couple bucks if you are going to wear them out sooner, and have to buy jeans again?

This same mentality applies to anything you use every day. If you put on cologne every time you step out of the shower (as you should), make your purchase on the right scent and not the right price. If you find yourself constantly in a suit and tie, spend the extra $200 to make sure that the fabric will not wear, and will fit you fashionably. You will feel better, act more confident, and end up saving money in the long run.

DON’T make purchases based on your ideal behaviors, but on your actions. We all have tennis rackets, surf boards, jewelry, musical instruments, and bicycles that only exist to collect dust. We frown at them, wasting away in a corner, never to see the light of day.  Why did we buy that!?

If you want to start a new hobby or a new look, don’t purchase everything first. Try it out for a month, and see if it is something that will realistically enter into your life. If that means borrowing a friend’s trombone for a little while to make sure your neighbors are okay with it first, then go borrow it! The marching band can wait!

DO treat yourself, but make sure it’s something worth the treat! In Los Angeles, we have recently found that a casual night of drinks and appetizers can hit the $100 threshold with lightning speed. And that’s on happy hour!

What we realized is that a night at Mastro’s at $175 is a much more economic and worthwhile expenditure than several nights at Pink Taco at $100.  You are allowed to splurge! Just make sure that it’s not every week, and that it’s something worth splurging upon. 

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Spending money to save money may seem counterintuitive, but it is a smart practice. If you are wise in your purchases, you will enjoy them for a longer duration – and look good doing it.

This behavior is available to men in any income bracket, and worth considering. To be his best, the Gentleman must feel his best, and that means taking pride in the clothes, style, and accessories with which he surrounds himself.

Be smart. Buy smarter. And good luck with those trombone lessons.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Geek Chic and Nerd Flair

By Kyle Slavin
Your worst suspicions have come true: like some A/V Club conspiracy, the fashion world is going the way of the nerd. Big black glasses, suspenders, high collars, and bow ties are all making a huge come-back, and even the coolest of the cool can be found wearing plaid. Hey fashion, what gives!?

The meek have finally inherited the Earth, and they’re donning pocket protectors.

Geek Chic is definitely the defining trend of the last few years. From rap moguls to NBA superstars, music icons and Hollywood’s A-list, going geek is most definitely in.

For the basics, Katie Lampert states iHow Geek Chic Works, “You take key pieces of a typically geeky wardrobe and wear them with purpose and aplomb, to make a point. Not because you're clueless and out of the fashion loop, not because you can't afford Ralph Lauren – [but] because you want to.”

“In the same way that there are people who never thought they'd see a black American president, there are also people who never thought they'd see a black basketball star dressed like a nerd,” says Wesley Morris, from Grantland.com.  “When did everything turn upside down? Who relaxed the rules? Is it really safe to look like Carlton Banks?

Believe it or not, it is.  In the same way the nerd culture has made an impact on social trends– from Apple Computers to Lord of the Rings and Star Wars – the next social fashion movement respects the “think geek” mentality. Successful brands are beginning to promote their leaders, like Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs. In turn, people wish to emulate that success, and those icons, in their own appearance.

Part homage, part thinly-veiled fashion statement, the geeks now have a badge that they can wear on their (plaid) sleeves. 

So dust off that Pac-Man or 1986 Journey tour T-shirt. With a hot blazer and dark jeans, it works. Feel daring with a bow-tie and suspenders – what once looked like sideshow performer-wear now looks incredibly fashion-forward.

And if you roll confidently, no one can tell you differently. I like to roll subtly in my go-everywhere vest, but Aaron from Klein Epstein & Parker balls all-out in his bow-tie and plaid.

So, men, what’s your favorite Geek Chic go-to?