I get the occasional question about an “Already Pretty for men” or equivalent, and I’m afraid I’m yet to find an online style and body image haven for guys. My own knowledge of manfashion is woefully limited – although I have called upon my stylish husband for the occasional informative guest post – and I don’t anticipate delving into men’s style anytime soon. It’s taken me years to accumulate the knowledge I have about women’s fashion, style, and shopping and although men have considerably fewer options when it comes to dressing, it is a world unto itself. And I’d rather leave it to the experts.
But a few recent nudges encouraged me to explore the available men’s style resources, so here are some of the men’s style blogs that are in my own reader:
Jeremy is a smart cookie and, in addition to offering advice on shopping and styling, he explores topics related to fit and dressing. Lots of men’s style blogs feature guys who tend to dress just this side of flashy, and this blog is a great resource for men who are tiptoeing into the world of style.
Karl Edwin Guerre is flat-out brilliant. This blog is the flip side of Fashion for the Average Man, focusing on high fashion, immaculate tailoring, and dressing details. But don’t be spooked! Guerrisms is an amazing resource for color pairing, pattern mixing, accessorization, and shoe porn. Remember, inspiration is everywhere! Even if you (or the man you’ll be sending this post to) would never dress like this, looking at these images might spark some ideas for more accessible, low-key outfits.
Tim’s style is definitely classic, but with a generous pinch of hipster thrown in. (The cuffed jeans are the giveaway.) He does a great mix of outfit shots, and lovely collages of items like the one you see above. His photos are stellar – what with being a pro photographer himself and all – but he still manages to seem like a fairly normal guy. And he shops at Target, J.Crew, and the like so men can click through and buy similar items if they dig the ensembles shown.
These fellas are updating fairly sporadically at this point, but the archive is rich with content. Picks tend to be on the high-end and rugged side, which will be perfect for many men looking to up their style game without getting too flashy.
The site’s own description says it all: “A math teacher documents his attempt to acquire an acute sense of style with items that cost less than $90…without looking obtuse.” Outfits and details, heavy on the prep, extremely stylish.
Focus is mainly on stuff, here, but that can be a good thing. Many men love to shop, but many more loathe the activity so a reputable source for product recommendations can be a goldmine. The section can be a little tough to navigate, but scroll down to the grid for info on office style, buying better underwear, and more.
This site would really like you to buy a few eBooks about men’s style, and with resources on mastering a small, classic wardrobe and transitioning from college gear to grown-up-manclothes, they might be worth the investment. But the free posts are fantastic, too, addressing style questions about everything from affordable but quality men’s shoes to making wise formalwear choices.
Lots of blazer-based ensembles and fun details, with a few product reviews and recommendations thrown in. This guy wears spendy shoes and clothes mixed in with thrifted items. A man after my own heart.
Which blogs would you add to this list? Any favorites for men’s style, shopping, and fashion?
This Manfashion Interlude is in response to several reader requests for general style advice for men. Husband Mike, resident stylish man, graciously agreed to give his two cents.
Ryan Gosling and Steve Carrell in “Crazy, Stupid, Love”
Most men don’t put a lot of thought into their clothes. So what? It’s their clothes, their body, their social interactions. I would guess that large segment of the male population just accepts that what they are wearing is good enough since looking any better would certainly require significant additional effort. This is not necessarily true. I’m going to point out a few easy ways that a man can step up his game, fashion-wise, without too much trouble.
Step One: Wear clothes that fit correctly
For a guy, getting dressed up will probably mean wearing a button-down shirt. White or blue. Most button-down shirts are made either hipster slim or beer-belly boxy (at least in the USA). This means that most men will default to a shirt that is too roomy and this translates into sloppy. Even though I do not have an athletic bod personally, I will always seek out athletic fit button down shirts. These are the only ones that seem to fit me correctly when I have my shirt tucked in. Once you find a brand that you like, buy multiples and you will be all set. This means that the salad dressing stain than never came out will not result in you having to shop for another perfect shirt. Take the identical unworn shirt out of the back of the closet and you are ready to go for the next wedding/funeral/holiday party.
Keep in mind two things when buying a dress shirt:
The top button needs to button so you can wear a tie. If your weight fluctuates, get the same shirt in two different neck sizes, just in case.
If your shirt gives you a spare tire when you tuck it in, this shirt does not fit you. Find a different size or even a different brand. If you have a belly and/or otherwise find it impossible to find a shirt that fits you correctly, get as close as you can and focus your efforts elsewhere–a cool tie, a tailored jacket, for instance.
Next up, pants. Yours pants are too short and a bit out of date. I’m basically talking to myself here. I recently donated 12 pairs of jeans after cleaning out my closet and realizing that my pants were either too short or a bit dated. When buying pants, always try them on while wearing shoes. They must crease a bit at the top of the shoe and touch the top of the heel, more or less, but not drag on the ground. If you can see your shins when sitting down, your pants are too short. This is the most common fit problem I see from the average guy.
Remember that scene in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” when the Ryan Gosling character tells the Steve Carrell character to be “better than the Gap”? You don’t need to be better then the Gap, in my opinion, but if you have not bought jeans in a number of years, try opting for a slimmer fit and a darker wash. This is a relatively easy way to step up your game without too much work.
Khakis. If you don’t wear suits, there is a good chance you wear khakis. You may even just call them, “Dockers.” I got no problem with Dockers. They have served me well in a number of situations in which I needed to look nice, but not going-to-a-wedding nice. Dockers, a button-down shirt that fits well, an interesting tie, and I fit in just fine. Step up your game by choosing flat front over pleated pants. Flat front khakis say you are at least trying to be in style rather that just phoning it in. If you are going to a family function, this may be the one thing that sets you apart from your less-cool Dad. I stopped wearing tan khakis the day both my father and I showed up at a thing wearing the exact same shirt and pants. Black Dockers? He’ll never wear those. Flat front? He’s never heard of such a thing so I’m good with either one. And this is a good place to remind you again: Don’t let your pants be too short or too baggy. If you wash them and they shrink up an inch too much, never wear them again. They will do you no favors.
Step Two: Shoes
If a woman has never complimented you on your shoes you are wearing the wrong shoes. Most women will notice your shoes so this is probably the easiest way to step up your game. The first thing I look for when evaluating shoes is whether or not the soles are sewn on or molded to the shoe. When the soles are sewn on, this is an indicator of a high quality. A good shoe should at least have the option of being re-soled, which you cannot do when the soles have been molded on. Also shoes with molded soles often trap pockets of air between the layers which leads to squeaks and shoe farts.
Realize that a decent pair of shoes may cost you over $100. Trust me that once you get a good pair of shoes you will not regret getting rid of the shiny $45 shoes you have been wearing so far. Look for shoes that have some interesting styling to them -leather soles, a toe that is a little pointy or a little square, some unique stitching, leather that is really soft. My favorite and most comfortable shoes are John Fluevog, John Varvatos, and Cydwoq. Figure out what your European sizing is and start looking online for the deal. A lot of the really cool shoes are going to be European. Size 11 US is about a 45 in European sizing.
Some people will never be the sort to wear a pair of dress shoes. How can a guy step up his game when it comes to athletic shoes? One rule of thumb could be that if you would ever wear a particular shoe to play a particular sport, you should probably not wear that shoe if you are trying to step up your game. Like when picking out a dressier shoe, choose a style that has some interesting element – a cool futuristic sole, an interesting fabric, a lower profile. I don’t wear a lot of tennis shoes, but I have found a couple pairs from Tsubo and Simple that are pretty cool. It’s hard to go wrong with your Converse All-Stars or your Jack Purcells, but the New Balance with the grass stains? Leave them on the back porch.
Step Three: Accessories
Are you wearing a watch? Ask yourself if there is anything distinctive about it. If there isn’t, this is an area where you can step up your game. I get a ton on compliments on a black Mossimo watch from Target. It cost me $20, but it has an oversized face and is really shiny. There are four dials on it and only one of them moves. It doesn’t matter. The large face makes it unusual and stand out. I try to make my watch match what I am wearing. More casual clothes get the leather band (even the rubber band). Outfits where I am dressed a bit sharper get the watch with the metal band and the bright blue face. I’ve got an oversized square face watch with an unusual dial that I wear to arty events. I’ll even match my watch to my glasses. Watches don’t need to be expensive to make an impression, but if you are actually making an impression with your watch, you have stepped up your game.
Do you wear glasses? Do you have more than one pair? Once I figured out what frame size fits my head, I started buying glasses online at places like 39dollarglasses.com. Since I can get glasses and lenses for less than $100 a pair, I have been more risky with my eyewear choices. Again, when I chose frames that are distinctive in some way, I have just set myself apart from the majority of the guys out there who have held onto their frames for too long. I have some frames where the bows look like they are made from bobby pins. Awesome! I may have frames with a yellow accent which would look great with the watch with the black and yellow face. Coordinating these two things are ways to step up your game.
Do you have any rings? A cool belt buckle? How about a classy winter coat? If your only winter coat has a sports team logo on the back, you have just identified an area where you can step up your game. An easy place to start is an overcoat that goes past your butt. You’ll need something like this if you are wearing a sport coat to a wedding or something. Check out Marshall’s or TJMaxx and you are sure to find something. I have a brown overcoat that is more or less nondescript but there is a flap of fabric over the buttons so you can’t see them which makes it pretty sleek looking.
Take strides towards improving your wardrobe in any of these ways and people are sure to remark upon the changes, which means you will have stepped up your game. Congratulations!
And for your enjoyment, here is David Mitchell from “That Mitchell and Webb Look” to give his opinions on dressing unusually smart:
His favorite color is plaid.
His favorite month is fall.
His favorite number is 3,000.
He is kind and patient and curious and hilarious and supportive and amazing. He has taught me that marriage means working as a team, and that being a spouse means being a partner. He cooks, he lets me have our tiny one-car garage for my car, he talks to our cats, he never gets mad when I’m late. He helps sick, poor, and vulnerable people at his day job, then takes gorgeous photos in his spare time. He puts up with my moods, showers me with praise, and is my #2 fan. (He says he can’t hold a candle to my mom, which is probably true.)
If there is a photo on this blog that has me in it, he has taken it. Without him, you’d be seeing me at some VERY funny angles each day.
I won’t tell you how old he is, but if you knew you’d be clamoring to know his secret. Clamoring, people.
Over the course of the past two years, Husband Mike has picked up several pairs of truly awesome dude shoes, and we agreed that these purchases were worthy of a Manfashion Interlude. So prepare for some manly thoughts about manly footwear …
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Mike’s beloved Montgomery Ward Work Boot, Circa 1980 (Yes that is a VW hubcap on my face)
See these boots? I loved these boots. I got them for a dollar at a garage sale in the pouring rain. I didn’t even try them on; I just bought them. I feel very manly wearing boots. Something to do with the clomping, I think.
I had these boots for at least 5 years and they were about at the point where they needed to be resoled when The Ex started to nag me about getting rid of them.
She nagged me for a couple years and I finally relented and bought a new pair of boots that she liked. She talked me into throwing away the other boots. If I’d had a spine back then, I would have said, “I will wear these new boots more often, and this beat up pair can go into the closet for awhile, but it’s not your place to say when I throw out a pair of shoes.”
Would you ladies ever let your dudes tell you when to throw out a pair of shoes? Keep this in mind if you start to think about telling your guy to through things out. Anyway…
I spent years looking for a replacement pair of work boots. The soles never looked right. I went to every Sears and Chet’s Shoes around, and nothing came close to the awesomeness of my 1980’s Montgomery Ward work boot.
These shoes are great. Not too heavy but very sturdy, and still nice enough looking for a Saturday in public with Sally. (Seems that was the Ex’s problem with those boots I was tricked into getting rid of.) I’d wear these every day. I’d wear them with shorts, but I won’t since I feel a bit fashionably self-conscious about that. They cost over $100, but tax return money is free money. Plus, did you know you can search for coupons online and save yourself some money? Sally taught me this recently.
But can a person really only have one pair of boots? Yes. But I have more than one. Love them all.
Pair #2 are my John Fluevog Classic Shiny Leather Combat Boots.
God bless you, John Fluevog!
These are my favorite. These are the ones I’ll be taking to Iceland with me since I know that I can walk in them for hours and hours without my feet getting tired. They are really heavy, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem for me. The rubber soles are gooey. That must be it.
These were not a tax return purchase, but I must have been flush at the time since I bought these boots with another pair of Fluevogs at the Downtown Chicago Fluevog store. It’s really an awesome store–the chairs are classic velvet movie theater chairs. The sales clerks all had tattoos. These boots were also a symbolic purchase since this was my first attempt of living in Sally’s world of quality and fashionable shoes.
Which do you like best? How many pairs of boots do you have? Come on! I told you how many I have. Would you or have you every asked your significant other to get rid of a pair of shoes?
The response to my recent post on defending dressing – especially Sarah R‘s comment about her brother-in-law’s experience at his office – reminded me that Husband Mike has some very personal experience with acceptance and ostracization as it relates to style. So I demanded a Manfashion Interlude. And he delivered.
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A couple of years ago, I decided that I was going to be a guy who wore suits. Winter was approaching, and it was an excellent time to transition. I had three or four suits that I wore for my wedding photography work, and with a couple more I could make it through the winter wearing only suits.
I like suits. The primary criterion for looking good in a suit is that it fit correctly. The styles do not change much from year to year, and if the jacket gets a bit snug, you just keep it unbuttoned and take it off while at your desk. Pair it with a cool tie and you da’ man.
I wanted to be da’ man, and be taken a bit more seriously at work. The office where I work is quite casual. A couple of the guys wear ties, but there is a 50% chance that their pants don’t fit right. The rest of us got away with a clean button-down shirt and, in my case, a cardigan. (Embrace your inner old man!) My boss was quite stylish, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to dress a little better around the office.
During the first two to three weeks making the move from a cardigan to a suit I was assaulted by comments and questions many times a day about whether I was interviewing for a job, giving a presentation, or going to court. It got old. It must have gotten old for the rest of the office, too, because after three weeks I was a guy who wore suits.
What type of suit-wearing guy are you, or do you wish your guy would be?
There are four types of suit-wearing guys:
The Wedding / Funeral / Job Interview Guy
The My Job Requires a Suit Guy
The it’s Just the Suit Coat with Some Mismatched Pants, But I Still Look Better Than That Guy in the Simpson’s T-shirt Guy
and the I’m a Man, of Course I Wear a Suit Guy
I used to be Guy #3. A social service agency where I once worked had a thrift store connected to it. Since I started my day before the store opened, I had first crack at the goods. Suits were a dollar, ties were twenty five cents. Awesome. I had many vintage sport coats that I thought looked great. I had no idea what to wear with them so the look often failed. But not long before that I had been wearing Frankenstein suits with the arms and legs too short, accompanied by Red Wing work boots and a straw hat with the brim cut off. Any step was a step in the right direction.
Now I am Guy #1. Charcoal Suit for Funerals, just a little snug because it is 7 years old? Check. Dark Blue Suit, fits great because I bought specifically for a recent wedding? Check.
I had a sales job once and really enjoyed the freedom of wearing a suit every day (Guy #2). I had 6 suits, 20 ties, some white shirts and a couple of blue ones. I looked “good” every day and ladies complimented me on my interesting ties. I didn’t look really good in my suits because my suits were not really good suits. $100 to $300 was the most I would spend for a new suit at TJ Maxx, and that was fine for a fella who was wearing suits because it was part of the job. It simplified my wardrobe, and there is tremendous value in that for a guy like me. The goal for Guy #2 is to fit in. He’s wearing a uniform.
I admire people who fall into the Guy #4 category. I imagine Paul Smith coming to visit my parents’ house for brunch, a banker in a real bank (Wells Fargo, you ain’t it), or a butler on his day off. I’ll never be this guy. There is no way I could invest the money required for the caliber of suit, not to mention the proper dry cleaning. People in this category sure look good, though. Sometimes it is nice to page through GQ while sitting in well-appointed clothing stores equipped with partner perches, and imagine being Guy #4. (In Minnesota, see shoplocalshops.com to see which stores meet my partner perch criteria.)
I could be Guy #3 again, but 20 years later I’m not sure what I think about Guy #3. I don’t always like the look, and think it is a bit of a fashion cop-out to pair some random suit coat with a graphic tee with a pair of dark jeans and call it a day. But then again, isn’t the ease of the suit the purpose of wearing it? It seems like Guy #2 at work is not all that different than Guy #3 at the popular drinking establishment in his intent or effect: Look good, fit in.
I said there were 4 types of suit-wearing guys, but there are at least 5. I did not mention Guy #5 because I have never seen him in the wild, but I have seen him in the Sartorialist. He’s wearing his fancy-lad jacket with shorts and hightops. WTF? I can’t even wrap my head around these guys so they’re left out of the discussion.
Images courtesy The Sartorialist. Except Frankenstein. I have no idea where HM dug him up.
When I was a teen, I lived in flannel, overalls, and combat boots and my dad called me “farmer Sal.” AND YET he always trusted me to pick out sweaters and shirts for him when he needed to do a shopping run at Marshall Fields.* But even without my guidance, my dad was always a sharp-dressed man. His recent penchant for Hawaiian shirts is a little alarming to me, but I feel that, overall, he’s got great taste.
Historically, I have purchased shoes for comfort first, fashion second. Not a bad philosophy, but comfort and fashion do not need to be mutually exclusive. Ideally, shoes should be both fashionable and comfortable.
Guys, if this hasn’t sunk in yet, the ladies do check out your shoes and judge you. Sally even has an ex-boyfriend whose nickname is “Bad Shoes.” Think about that when you buy your next pair of generic loafers, Crappy Loafer Boy!
One of the advantages of living with a wife who writes a fashion blog is that I get to learn a thing or two. The first shoe lesson I learned was that shoes by John Fluevog are well made, comfortable, and stylish. The second thing I learned is that they cost over $100. I never knew shoes could cost over $100. However, I’m sure I’ll be passing along my Angel wing-tipped Fluevog combat boots to some teenage grand-nephew 40 years from now …
My Fluevogs are awesome, but except for a few interesting details, they (and most other man-shoe options) are pretty standard-looking. Where are the truly unique man-shoes hiding? Many of them are hiding at www.cydwoq.com. (Go there now and come back. I’ll wait. You need to see the options for man-shoes at Cydwoq before this discussion continues.)
As far as I know, Cydwoq shoes for men are not sold in stores in Minneapolis, Chicago, or Madison. I know. I’ve looked. I found a store in San Francisco that sold them, but they were closed and it was the last day of my vacation.
I found them in Milwaukee at an awesome store called Shoo. Everything in this store was interesting-looking, both for men and women. Kate – the helpful and enthusiastic shop owner – immediately noticed the Fluevogs that I was wearing, and I believe they were my pass into the secret club where I would be shown other cool shoes. Shoo carried two styles of short Cydwoq boots I had been looking for. I bought the Detect.
You can see in the composite image that these are versatile and handsome shoes. Check me out. Here I am right out of the shower brushing my teeth, weighing the cat, checking my blood pressure, sniffin’ the milk after a hard bike ride, and sitting on the stoop wondering where my glasses are. You can do anything in these shoes. They are just that comfortable. There is something about a steel plate in a sole that is happy-making for the feet.
But are these shoes also fashionable? All I know is that I am at work for less than 10 minutes before a female coworker spots them from across the room and says, “I don’t know if I can say this to a guy a work, but I’m gonna say it: Those shoes are CUTE!” I told her the word she was looking for was, “Awesome,” but I’d take cute.
The Detect are kind of Hobbit-like in their design, which I also think is cool, but they certainly won’t be for everybody. Here is another lesson I learned: Hand-made, artistically-designed, guaranteed-to-last shoes can cost $295! That’s a tough lesson to learn, but these lessons get easier. Trust me.
I’ll close by saying that if you are ready for a nick name other than Crappy Loafer Boy, find your most stylish lady friend or man friend and have her/him take you where the cool shoes can be found (perhaps to Shoo if you are near Milwaukee). Comfortable and fashionable can be found in the same shoe, and you’ll be a happy guy when you find it.
In case you don’t yet fully appreciate the awesomeness that is Husband Mike, here are a few factoids:
When we were courting, we went grocery shopping together for several meals worth of items. We bought a yam, because I like sweet potato fries and had planned to make some. Mike dislikes yams rather strongly. I left the yam at his apartment, despite several reminders to take it with me. So he slipped it into a seldom-used outer pocket of the Esprit bowler bag I used as a purse back then. I carried it around for FOUR FULL DAYS before discovering it. I still cannot believe he kept such a hilarious secret for so long.
When he lived in Seattle during the heyday of grunge, his band shared a practice space with Hole and the Posies. He claims to have stolen a piece of duct tape off Cobain’s guitar case, though I’ve never seen it.
Husband Mike is almost incomprehensibly tolerant of shopping. ESPECIALLY if there’s somewhere for him to sit. (He’s a big fan of Anthropologie stores because they contain comfy sofas AND coffee table books.)
When he sings something, it gets stuck in my head. It doesn’t matter if it’s a song or tune I’ve never heard in my entire life. He sings it, five minutes pass, I’m singing it.
Our boy cat, Simon (pictured here), is completely enamored of Mike. This despite the fact that Mike flies Simon around like an airplane, calls him “bullet,” “tubs,” and other insulting names, grabs his tender neckmeat when they are fake-wrestling, and frequently holds Simon about three inches above the ground for as long as he’ll tolerate it … until the poor cat finally squirms or somersaults out of Mike’s grasp onto the floor. On the weekends, they shower together. Simon is a special boy who is endlessly fascinated by the drain.
He cooks a mean tiramisu.
He is the funniest person ALIVE. Once we made some microwave nachos for dinner, and then laid down for a little nap. His stomach immediately launched into an amazing array of gurgles and groans. He said, “That translates to, ‘WELCOME, NACHOS!’”
Now. Guess how old he is. Go on, guess. You’ll never guess. I’m telling you, the man drinks the blood of virgins when I’m not looking …