Saturday, November 19, 2011

SHARP's Style MANual

I was able to contribute to the style section of SHARP's F/W 2011 Book for Men! Throughout the section, we explored menswear essentials, fit, and seasonal trends! Check out my contributions after the jump!

A well-tailored suit is essential for any man of style. It signifies power and prestige, and makes you look and feel masculine. To cover all occasions and circumstances, you need to own these three suits:

1. CLASSIC BLUE - This is the staple of your wardrobe. Navy blue suits can be worn as casual or formal, and are appropriate for all times of the year. Pair with chocolate brown or deep black shoes. 

2. THREE-PIECE - It's all about your options. This isn't your dad's stuffy suit - a three-piece number is ideal for formal settings and, when you take off your jacket, you've got a smart semi-casual look to boot.

3. DOUBLE-BREASTED - When you want to leave a big impression, this one's the way to go. We love the updated fit of the new double - slimmer, less stuffy and undeniably modern. 

The double-breasted jacket was a staple of menswear in the 1980s - the power shoulders and wide, boxy cuts were as much a symbol of there era as leg warmers and the jheri curl. Now, it's back in style, with a more fitted, tailored silhouette. The single-breasted jacket will forever remain a staple in the modern man's wardrobe. It's simple, yet elegant, and can be worn in any number of ways - during the day, it's a power suit, and at night, replace the pants with comfortable jeans for a cool, casual ensemble look. We prefer a two-button jacket for a slimming look.


1. PINSTRIPE: A thin pinstripe adds a touch of elegance, and it'll make you look slimmer and taller (never a bad thing). A thicker stripe can be a bit tricky, but if you exude confidence, it can work well. 

2. MONOCHROME: No frills, no tricks - there's strength in subtlety. And monochrome leaves you with plenty of options; add a matching tie for a sleek ensemble, or splashes of colour to make it pop. 

3. CHECK: A little more pronounced than monochrome, a little less bold than pinstripes - the check falls into that comfortable middle ground. Dress it up or down, either way you're guaranteed a refined, smart look. 

So you've bought an expensive new suit. Congratulations - it looks great. Consider it an investment: if you want that suit to last, you need to take good care of it. Here are a few tips:

1. Your hangers should boast enough support in the shoulders to properly hold up your suit. Think of the hanger as a replacement set of shoulders for when you're not wearing your suit. 

2. Always use a garment bag when traveling. A canvas garment bag is ideal because it affords proper air circulation. 

3. Most importantly, find yourself a good dry cleaner. Ask your tailor for a recommendation and don't be afraid to shell out a couple extra bucks - a good dry cleaner will help preserve your suit, saving you money in the long run. 

While the fashion industry has turned out a wide variety of lapel styles, there are three standard iterations: peak, notched and shawl.

1. PEAK - A bold and old-school lapel, traditionally worn on double-breasted jackets and formal coats, such as the morning coat. 

2. NOTCHED - The notched lapel is the standard for most suits, though the "notch" can vary widely in style and size. When in doubt, go with this one - it's a classic. 

3. SHAWL - The shawl collar employs a continuous curve. It's decidedly more sophisticated, with a softer air to it, suitable for more formal affairs (think tuxedo). 

Here's the good news: it's truly difficult to screw up on a pair of dress pants. Whether you choose pleats or flat-front trousers, there are really just three essentials to making them look good: the right waist (mid-rise works best), the right fit (that is, fitted, but not tight) and the right cuff (aim for just a touch of break). Consider these three pants essential wardrobe staples: 

1. GREY - A pair of grey or ash wool trousers can go a long way. They'll help differentiate you from the competition and keep you looking chic and sharp during the winter months. 

2. BLUE - Blue pants are a great foundational piece. Toss a V-neck sweater on top for a classic casual vibe, or layer with a sports jacket for dinner parties and semi-formal events. 

3. PINSTRIPE - Thin, discreet stripes add a little flavour to your overall look. If you're layering a jacket on top, make sure it's monochrome - let these pants do the talking. 

Pleated pants have virtually disappeared from menswear in recent years. As we move to slimmer, fitted cuts there simply isn't much room for them. That said, there is something debonair about pleats - they can be dashing and classic (think Boardwalk Empire). And, after all, who doesn't enjoy a bit of extra breathing space in their pants? if you do opt for pleats, make sure to keep them minimal - oversized pleats mean oversized pants, and that's never a flattering look. 

At some point, you were probably told that mixing a suit jacket with a non-matching pair of pants is a no-no. That's incorrect - in fact, mixing and matching is the best way to extend your wardrobe and make it look like your closet is a lot fuller than it really is. 

1. KEEP IT SIMPLE - A dark suit never goes out of style. Still, it doesn't hurt to brighten things up every once in a while. A pair of light-coloured slacks does the trick. 

2. ADD COLOUR - Monochrome suits offer lots of room to experiment with colour - whether by way of a tie and pocket square or by subbing in a bolder pant. A strong pattern works well. 

3. TONE IT DOWN - Remember that louder-than-usual suit you bought last year? Seems a little too loud now, doesn't it? A pair of grey slacks helps to mute a bold pattern.

While there's no black-and-white rule regarding when, and when not, to cuff your pants, there are some general guidelines. Turned-up cuffs are usually associated with a more traditional look, and they typically look better on looser pants. When it comes to flat-front pants (the standard in menswear today), the slimmer silhouette is less inclined to cuffing. Your height also comes into play here: Cuffing gives the effect of a shorter leg, so if you measure below 5'5, stay away. 

When it comes to shirts, you've got thousands of options. Stripes and checks are great, so are subtle colours and classic dress styles. When you find yourself layering this upcoming season (and, believe us, you will), look for shirts flexible enough to wear under a sweater and/or jacket, but strong enough to stand on their own. 

1. HOUNDSTOOTH - We're big fans of houndstooth - it carries an old-English air without the stuffiness. It's playful but also powerful. This may or may not be the most versatile choice out there, but it'll definitely turn heads. 

2. CHECK - Great for a smart, preppy look, a subtle check offers clean lines with a bit of panache added for good measure. A thin-checked pattern looks great layered under a sports jacket or wool sweater. 

3. STRIPE - This is your power shirt. It stands out, for sure, and that means it'll make you stand out, too. We've said it before and we'll say it again: vertical stripes will make you look taller and slimmer. 

You can't go wrong with a button cuff - it's been the standard for forever. Simple, timeless and elegant, buttoned cuffs are great for the office and weekends - they also make it easy to roll up your shirtsleeves when you need to get your hands dirty. French cuffs are generally considered to be more formal, but the ever fashion-forward Europeans have started wearing them in the business environment. And, of course, French cuffs offer the opportunity to play with cufflinks. 

Your collar requires proper attention and respect, just like a tie or suit. Collar stays keep your points neat, stiff and fresh by ensuring that your collar lies flat against your collarbone. A good shirt usually comes with a set of in-house stays - but your best bet is to invest in a set of stand-alone, sturdy metal stays with magnets. Just make sure to take them out before dropping your shirt at the dry cleaners. 

Men have a habit of ignoring their collars, which is a major shame. The right collar makes a good shirt better, while the wrong can ruin an otherwise impeccable look. A buttoned-down collar looks terrible on a dress shit, and a spread collar is completely out of place on an oxford. Know thy collar types. 

1. SPREAD - Looks great under a power suit. The spread collar is ideally paired with a strong tie for a bold, masculine look. 

2. BUTTONED - The functional one. A buttoned collar effects a preppy air - relaxed cool mixed with traditionalism. 

3. STRAIGHT - A classic. The straight collar is minimalist and simple - it's the standard, and that's a good thing. 

When it comes to shoes, classic is key. Whether it's a bold monkstrap or subtle brogue, you should always aim for timeless design and premium construction. After all, footwear is the foundation of every outfit - if the base is in order, you'll be well on your way to looking great. 

1. WINGTIPS - Dress these up... or down. Wingtips work well with a suit at the office or jeans for a night at the movies. 

2. OXFORD - These fancy kicks were made for formal purposes, but they're equally appropriate with khakis and an oxford shirt. 

3. DOUBLE MONKSTRAP - Classic doesn't mean boring. A double monkstrap design is eye-catching without looking eccentric. 

Boots can be fashionable - you just need to find the right pair. Here are some helpful hints: 

1. CLASSIC - Can you wear boots to work? Sure. Over dress pants, these boots are refined enough to wear to the office, but they'll also keep you warm in cooler temperatures. A superb fall option. 

2. MODERN - The Chelsea boot is perfectly modern. A rounded toe adds European flavour and a modern aesthetic. These are best suited for a night on the town - they're neither too dressy nor too casual. 

3. RUGGED - Just because you're wading through snow and sleet, doesn't mean you can't look good doing it. Premium leather mixes well with a rugged rubber sole and bold red laces. Perfect with jeans for the weekend. 

Soldiers are constantly shining their boots (or at least that's the way it is in the movies), and you should, too. You'll need some shoe polish, a smooth cloth (an old t-shirt will do just fine) and a bowl of warm water. 
1. Spread a medium-thick portion of polish and allow it to dry for about 5 to 10 minutes. 
2. Wrap the cloth around the pad of your index finger and dip it into water to prevent sticking. 
3. Using a small, circular motion, buff until the wax becomes shiny. Add a thin layer of polish and repeat. 
4. When the shoe is highly glossed, use a dry cloth to give it a final buff. Admire your handiwork. 

Once fall hits, we look for darker tones and a muted aesthetic. Wool, leather and denim are the fabrics of choice. The key here is to keep warm without looking like the Michelin Man: as always, the focus is on fit - wearing a coat shouldn't necessarily translate into added bulk. These three looks will keep you going until spring. 

1. FORMAL - A topcoat fits over your suit jacket for a sophisticated look. We prefer ours three-quarter length and slim. A check pattern in brown or grey tones is perfect - complete the outfit with leather gloves.

2. CASUAL - A warm vest is a great alternative to your ski jacket. Make sure to layer with a warm sweater and that Canadian icon, the toque. Brown and burgundy chinos match the spirit of the falling leaves. 

3. URBAN - Leather and denim were made for each other. A black bomber is classic and tough, and the fut lining adds a hint of luxury. Slim-fitting jeans in a dark wash and rugged boots increase the cool factor.

Let's get one thing straight: layering isn't an excuse to throw on the first five items of clothing you bindle lay your hands on - if anything, a layered look requires extra attention to detail. Everything you're wearing has to work together: your shirt, vest, sweater, coat, scarf and hat must form a cohesive, stylish unit. Here's how to do it: 

JACKET: Your jacket is the top layer, obviously. Why do we mention this? Because everything you're wearing has to fit inside your coat. Make sure your jacket can accommodate multiple layers. 

VEST: We applaud the vest for its versatility - it's stylish, flattering (it'll flatten out your chest and stomach) and comfortable. A wool vest is particularly sophisticated and well suited to colder climates. 

SHIRT: A solid base layer. You're going to be inside, where it's nice and toasty, eventually - without a lighter layer, you'll overheat in an instant, and no one wants to see you sweat. No one. 

SCARF: You need a scarf when you're outside, but there's more to the classic neck-warmer. Once inside, a scarf can remain an important accessory - keep it on, wrapped loosely, for an erudite vibe. 

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