Sharp-dressed Man 101: The Perfect Suit

R. Pattinson in Gucci

It’s been a while since I’ve written about men’s fashion. This week, I got an eyeful of RPatz, or Robert Pattinson the vampire extraordinaire from the Twilight Series, as he stepped-out as a newly single guy for his “Cosmopolis” premiere in NYC. What I loved about his look for the premiere is that he turned up the heat by wearing something very simple: a well-tailored suit. In my opinion, a great suit is a staple in every man’s closet. I work with several male clients who claim to have “no need for a suit.” They work at start-ups where they can wear jeans and flip flops or at an office where it’s just business casual. To this, I say the following: Every man should have a great pair of shoes and a well-tailored suit. If own own nothing else, you must own these two things. A great suit is more than the three-piece suit your dad wore to business meetings. The suit is a versatile staple in your wardrobe and can easily go from a business meeting, to a wedding, to a night on the town to a holiday party to just about any event.

Now, not all of us can afford the fine Gucci thread, but I have found fantastic suits and amazing brands at bargain shops like Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx. These places are great if you know FOR SURE that you are a 44R. If you THINK you are a 44R, you need to go to the men’s department at either Nordstrom or Lord & Taylor. The guys at these shops can look you up and down and tell you that you are actually a 46R and you’ll notice the difference when you put on the jacket. Now, it doesn’t have to be Gucci. It just has to fit…perfectly. I take this part of it seriously. How many times to do you see this:

  • The undertaker: A suit cut way too big and swimming on the poor guy.
  • The stuffed sausage: A suit that probably once fit, but, well, life happens.
  • The dry-cleaner did it: Suit pants that were once a proper break and are now floods.
  • The incredible hulk: A suit jacket that is bursting at the seams. You won’t like me when I’m mad.

I could go on. I notice these things. Other people notice these things, and let’s face it, that’s the world we live in. So, let’s say a) your suit falls into one of the above categories or b) you don’t own a suit at all (the horror!)…let’s figure out how to get you in a suit that fits and makes you look red-carpet worthy. Or at least worthy of your fabulous arm candy to your friend’s wedding or your birthday celebration dinner.

Step #1: SIZE MATTERS

As with most things, when buying a suit, size matters. You need to know if you’re a 44 or a 46. A short, regular or long. You have to start here first and having a suit-fitting pro help you makes a big difference here. When buying a suit, you don’t want to cheap out. A cheap suit looks…cheap. I’m not suggesting you have to make an appointment at Armani, but go to a shop that has a good variety of brands and prices and, most importantly, has the suit fitting master who can help you find the perfect suit. As you know, I am a huge bargain shopper and love to get a deal but beware of cheap fabric that will pill and fray and look worn in no-time. Many shops have suit sales and offer discounts on great brands – those events are a great time to buy.

Carey Grant - Sharp Dressed Man

Step #2: CUT, FABRIC & COLOR

Next comes the cut of the suit and the fabric. A big trend right now is the European-cut suit, which typically has very fitted, straight leg pants (no pleats), a very tailored jacket and often a double vent (or the slit) in the back, which is pretty sharp but not for all backsides, so be sure to check the ventage (aka, you don’t want two flaps flapping in the wind behind you:). This cut of suit doesn’t work for everyone. That’s why they make average-cut and athletic-cut and slim-cut and husky-cut. As for fabric, most suits are made of some % of wool and blended with another fabric. If you’re going to buy one suit, you’ll want to look for an “all-seasons” suit, which is made of a lighter fabric. It means you’ll still sweat your b**ls off sitting at your friend’s wedding at that church next summer but you’ll look damn dapper. As for color, again if you’re going to get one suit, I recommend either a charcoal grey or black. These colors are really easy to mix and match and work in all seasons. So, now you have found a few suits in a few different cuts and fabrics. Now what?

Step 3: TRY IT ON

Finding a suit is not as easy as knowing you’re a 34 waist and a 30 inseam. It doesn’t work that way. The jacket determines the size of the suit. Let’s say you’re a 44R (the most common size.) You try the jacket and it buttons nicely without gaping. The sleeves are too long? No worries, the tailor will hem them up. The sleeves are too short? You might need to try a different jacket or potentially a long. As for the pants, they typically come unhemmed so that the tailor (many shops offer free tailoring) can do a perfect hem based on your inseam. So…you have to try them on. What you’ll want to do in order to figure out the best cut and fit for you, is take a number of suits into the fitting room. And see what feels comfortable. If the pants are too tight, but the jacket fits, often times the tailor can let the pants out. I typically don’t recommend going up a suit size unless you need it in the jacket (or you’ll look like the undertaker, no one wants that.)

Step #4: TAILOR MADE

Once you’ve found the suit that makes you look like a million bucks and feels great on, you’ll want to get it tailored. A great tailor is key. They know how to take up the pants so they have a perfect break. They know when to take in the pants and when to let them out. They know how to hem the sleeves so they are perfectly sized to your thumb bone. All the details will be covered. Again, worth investing in a shop where there’s an on-site tailor to make this super-easy.

Step #5: WEAR IT WELL

The great news about most suits these days is that suit pants can double as dress pants for the night. Look for a classic flat-front trouser and you can wear them with a great button-down shirt for night or even for day. The jacket gets tricky to pair without the pants. If you’re a fan of the “jacket and jeans look,” be sure to get sports coats vs suit jackets – it makes a big difference. A great suit can be worn with or without a tie, dressed up or down and, with a classic cut, fabric and color, last you a good 3-5 years.

Let’s face it. Every girl’s crazy about a sharp dressed man (maybe sans the giant beards, just sayin’.) Need some help suiting up? You know where to find me. :)

Go forth and be stylish.

 

WTF are jeggings and why do I care?

A dear friend recently Tweeted…

WTF are jeggings? #clueless

Dear Clueless, have no fear, your answer is here.

Take one part jeans. Add one part leggings. A dash of spandex. Maybe even some polyester or lycra. And, voila, you have yourself a jegging.

Jeggings really hit the style scene last Fall as models started parading them around paired with sky-high stilettos or knee-high riding boots. Though model I am not, I bought one pair last Fall at my fave local jean store in the North End, Injeanius, and was hooked.

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What’s so great about jeggings?

1. They are the most comfortable pair of jeans you will ever own that actually look GOOD and are comfortable – something not typically attained in the fashion department.

2. They are NOT, I repeat not, leggings. Please dear fashionista, promise me you will never ever wear leggings as pants outside of your house. Promise? Phew, we got that over with. Jeggings have all the stylings of jeans – stitching, grommets, hems – but all the stretch and comfort of a legging.

3. They fit like a glove. Jeggings create a slimming effect, which is contrary to popular belief. I’ve heard people say they fear looking like a stuffed sausage. I say, try them and see for yourself. Just like a regular jean, you might need to try a few different brands to find the perfect fit.

4. They are generally cheaper than a pair of True Religions. Most jeggings I’ve seen run under $100. Rue La La just had James Jeans jeggings for under $70 – a steal!

5. They honestly go with everything. A tank and flats. A hot night-on-the-town top and stilettos. A jacket and boots. The slim style is especially great with boots – no pant overhang. I hate it when that happens.

So, I urge to to test-drive the jeggings style jeans for Fall and see what happens. Be careful you might become addicted like me.

PS: Have you tried jeggings? Would love to hear if you are in love, like, hate…tell me all about it.

Pick of the week – Ava Rose clutch

Okay, I admit it. I have a thing for these sample sites. They lure me with their great deals and saucy heels and, a while back, I fell prey to too much sample sale shopping. They need a support group for that. But alas, I am now a much pickier shopper. I look for great brands AND great bargains. I often wait a bit to make sure I really love it. And, dear fashionista, be sure to read the fine print about returns (often no returns on accessories and merch credit for clothing.)

In any case, fast forward to today. I was on Ideeli and spotted this crazy adorable black clutch by Ava Rose Handbags. I said to this supple leather beauty, you must be mine. You might be wondering why I bought it. Well, something you may not know about me is that everything I buy has “criteria”. Yeah, I mean a list of reasons why I should buy it. Why? It’s the only way to make sure it will make an impact on my wardrobe enough for me to buy it. Here’s how my stylish brain works. So, I see this bag. I look it over – alot. Zooming in and out, reading and estimating dimensions, googling the manufacturer. Then I said to myself, here’s why I think this bag is a good purchase:

1. It’s unique. You won’t see many gal pals strutting around town with this beauty.

2. It’s a great size. I can fit my iPhone, pocket mirror, lipgloss, keys, gum, camera and probably even a light sweater in this clutch.

Ava Rose "Bianca" Clutch $62 @ Ideeli

Ava Rose "Bianca" Clutch $62 @ Ideeli

3. The colors are neutral but not. It’s black but the metallic and red piping is sure to go with just about everything in my closet. So it’s a neutral bag but has really interesting accents that kick it up a notch.

4. It’s a bargain. Retail price: $198. Ideeli price: $62. I will take a 60% discount on a gorgeous leather bag that I will use all the time, any time.

5. It’s rocker chick. It is called the “Bianca” and maybe that’s why it reminds me of an underground British club and a rocker chick in leather pants and teased out hair. I like to let my inner rocker chick out every once and a while and this is a great, well-priced way to do it.

In addition to this beauty, there are 2 other styles, which I also loved. These are going to go fast, so go to Ideeli now using my fancy link (so I get some referral juice) and get yourself a stylish clutch. Do you have criteria when you shop? I’d love to hear about how you make your purchases. Do share!

Jimmy Choo and wristbands too

I have some pretty exciting news for you Jimmy Choo lovers out there who, like me, covet thy stilettos but alas cannot part with $500+ for a pair.

Your day, my fellow fashionista, has come.

H&M just announced that they are launching Jimmy Choo for H&M. Now, that’s hot.

Picture 27The launch happens on Saturday, November 14, 2009. According to the H&M website, they are expecting a crowd and are providing wrist bands to the first 160 people in line. Wrist bands to buy shoes? I’m sorry, is this 1986 and am I trying to get Bon Jovi tickets at the local music store? Holy, flashback. Okay, back to the shoes.

Here’s the deal. You need to go to this link to see the collection and find out if the pieces you like are available in your area.

Queue record scratching music. After literally clicking on every item and the “collection locator” link, I am disappointed to say that seems Boston is not worthy of Choo’. We are not on the list :( . Okay, I know we are no NYC or LA but, honestly, how can a company create a launch and get us all excited and then tell us we can’t get the product? The most frustrating part is that you can’t buy anything online at H&M. Maybe this is more a beef with H&M itself than just the Choo situation but how can you sell stuff in this day and age (man, I sound like my mother) and not have the ability for someon to buy it online?

<End rant>

So, if you do live in Cali, NYC or The Windy City, you’re in luck. Here are some of the gorgeous picks, mostly all under $200.

Jimmy Choo for H&M

Jimmy Choo for H&M

Jimmy Choo for H&M

Jimmy Choo for H&M

Jimmy Choo for H&M

Jimmy Choo for H&M

The Stylish Eye Fall Fab Five

The biggest question I’ve had over the past few weeks is…”What’s your top-five must-haves for Fall?” I’ve been thinking about it alot and, I’ll tell you that it’s not easy to pick only 5 must-haves for Fall. It’s hard to pick only a handful of things to add to your wardrobe when confronted with the many choices of great Fall trends. But, IMHO, these trends will survive more than one season and will easily mix, match and update your wardrobe in no time. Why 5? It’s easy to remember and nice to your wallet. So, focus on the Fab Five and consider it your personal shopping list. Each picture is a link to the item in case you want to consider adding it to your Fall wardrobe. Here goes…

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Robbi & Nikki Bow Shoulder Chiffon Top @ Nordstrom

1. Leopard-print anything. There’s nothing like a little call of the wild to spice up your Fall wardrobe. It’s an interesting trend that keeps coming back every few years. This year I’ve seen boots, pumps, belts, scarves, blouses, sweaters and coats (okay, the coat goes too far). I have a leopard-print J.Crew sweater that I bought about 10 years ago and it has somehow survived the test of time. Look for more “subtle” versions of the big cat, which will likely mix and match easier with the other items in your closet. I love this flouncy beauty – great shoulder detail and goes great with Fall Fab #2 and #4.

2. Ankle boots. I bought several pairs of these last season including an amazing pair of purple leather Faryl Robins, which I have already worn several times this season.

Pour la Victoire grey woven patent 'Elise' ankle booties @ Blue Fly

Pour la Victoire grey woven patent 'Elise' ankle booties @ Blue Fly

I am semi-obsessed with ankle booties and believe they will last more than one season. Here’s what’s great about ankle booties…there’s alot of different ways to wear them. You can wear them under a straight leg or bootleg pant or jean, which is a nice alternative to a tall boot against your skin all day or all night. You can wear them with a pair of skinny jeans for a very hip look a la Fall Fab #4. You can pair them with a super-opaque pair of tights and a short skirt. I think these grey patent leathers would look Fab with a red plaid miniskirt or kilt and black tights.

3. Colorful, textured scarves. Scarves were everywhere on the run-way and in the fashion mags. Everything from bright colors to ruffles to lace trim. Scarves are a great fall and winter accessory for a bunch of different reasons. They can take a very simple black blazer or navy pea-coat and add a serious punch of color and interest.

Hollywood Intuition Rouched Scarf in Purple

Hollywood Intuition Rouched Scarf in Purple @ Target

Scarves draw the eye up to your oh, so fab face – what’s better than that? They are a great way to update your wardrobe on a shoestring. Target, Kohls and all the discount stores have some great scarves for under $20. I say pick up a few different colors or patterns and see how you can mix and match them with your Fall wardrobe. PS: This Target scarf is UNDER $10. Now that’s a must-have!

4. Skinny jeans. I can’t get enough of these staple jeans. I love the J Brand jeans – they have great stretch and come in a fabulous dark wash and a super dark black wash.

J Brand Jeans 910 Super Skinny Jeans in Ink @ Cusp

J Brand Jeans 910 Super Skinny Jeans in Ink @ Cusp

They are great when paired with a long or flowy top or a layered cardigan and long tee. Contrary to popular belief, these jeans work on a wide variety of body types. I’ve heard so many women say “I could never pull those off!” Then, they try them on and they look amazing. But, if you don’t feel you can pull off the super-skinny look, try a straight-leg instead of the wider bootleg. It’s a nice change, an update for Fall and looks great with Fall Fab #1 and #2.

5. Long, layered necklaces. Again, another trend I can’t get enough of. I’ve seen lots of mixed metals, which is a fun way to combine gold and silver for a new look.

Aqua Multi Chain with Flower Necklace @ Bloomingdales

Aqua Multi Chain with Flower Necklace @ Bloomingdales

It’s a great way to integrate the embellished “rocker-chick” look that is a big trend this Fall and do it in an inexpensive way. A fab, long necklace can transform an outfit from blah to bling and take a tired dress or top and breathe new life into it. The runway is showing everything from pearls (not your grandmother’s pearls, mind you) to flowers, to chains to beads. I love this black and gold 22″ necklace from Aqua. It’s a great combo of feminine flowers and bows with rocker mixed metals…and a steal at $35. I think I might have to get one for myself.

As I think about how to make your Fall wardrobe fabulous, it’s not about buying an entirely new wardrobe – who has the time or money? It’s about picking a few great trends and transforming or rejuvenating your existing wardrobe. Now that’s smart and stylish. :)

There were so many other items that I could have thrown into the mix but these were my top picks. So, what’s on your Fall Fab list? Would love to hear your style ideas.

A style crisis with a happy ending

I often have a crisis. Not your typical breakdown because of work or life (okay those happen too). More of a “need to have them all, can’t choose, must put pretty shoes in bag” type of crisis. Are you with me here?

It was so refreshing to come across a fellow fashion-crisis lover, Abigail Beshkin, aka Crisis in Denim, who recently wrote a blog post about her inability to choose among three lovely frocks. So,what did she do? She took them home.

Queue ominous music.

That is where choice becomes chosen. If there is a choice to be made, you must make it at the store or chances are you will 1) Fall in love with all of whatever you brought home 2) Justify that you really really need it and will wear it all the time 3) Forget to return it 4) Stuff it in a corner and forget you have it 5) Miss the window to return it (return to either #2 or #4). You see, dear reader, I have fallen prey to this tempting delight. An array of shoes. All too fabulous to leave without. I tell myself I will bring them back. Instead, some combination of #1-5 of the above happen and, well, my closet has seen it’s fair share of my choosing crisis.

So, because I can feel her pain, I decided to help Abigail make her decision on which lovely frock to keep. Let’s face it. A dress is just a dress with out the accompaniment of the perfect pair of shoes. Am I right? So, I picked a few lovelies and matched them with her frocks to help her decide.

Tahari Dress

I would pair her purple, belted frock with the FABULOUS Harajuku Lovers ‘Airlie’ Mary Jane platforms. Really glams up the dress and accents the belt.

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Then, there’s the purple and grey tweed short-sleeved plaid dress, very Mad Men, with the “jaunty little flower pin with a purple crystal center.” I’d pair this one up with these sexy Betsey Johnson ‘Calais’ peep-toes. Love the accent of the flowers and the purple is sassy!


plaid-dress-145x300

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And, last but not least, the mod-meets-greek goddess white & black dress. I see this one with a pair of super opaque black tights and these sleek and shiny black J. Reneé ‘Farrah’ beauties.

white-house-dress-166x300

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So, you see, a style crisis CAN have a happy ending. Especially one that ends with glamourous, affordable and must-havable shoes.