Casual Wear: Black Leather Jacket

Being a university student, I don’t get the opportunity to wear my tailored garments as frequently as I like. From Mondays to Thursdays, you can find me dressed incorporating some form of tailored article, an OCBD, seasonal dress trousers or, my personal Spring favourite, denim with penny loafers. However, you will never spot me in a sport coat/suit jacket/blazer as wearing one to classes is simply unnecessary and, frankly, rather pretentious.

Arriving to this realization of underutilizing my tailored jackets, I have been focusing on curating my casual wardrobe, particularly the jacket department, a lot more recently. With this, I have come to appreciate the beauty of casual wear. You have the freedom to temper and experiment with different colours, patterns, and silhouettes. It is also devoid of “rules” or parameters that often exists in tailoring. Additionally, the potential of integrating pieces from your formal wardrobe to diversify your pairings is present.

One of the most crucial, yet conscious, investment I made late last year was a leather jacket. I found appeal in the double rider model and was particularly impressed with the leather’s softness when I tried it on at the All Saints store. Additionally, I like how the larger lapels, in conjunction with the shoulder epaulets, visually widens the user’s shoulders and accentuates a more masculine figure.

Although I am not a huge user of black, I am exceedingly surprised by how well this jacket fares in my brown dominated wardrobe. Call me old-fashioned, but even under the most dire of circumstances I never match brown and black together. This proved to be difficult as 90% of my shoes are brown. However, over the past few weeks, I found success with pairing it with tan suede boots, burgundy penny loafers, black wingtips or the occasional sneaker.

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Whilst I have attempted to pair this jacket with tailoring, it feels the most comfortable when worn with denim, of any wash. Yet, a personal favourite ensemble I have come to enjoy is one that encompasses both denim and tailoring. As illustrated below, the black leather jacket is worn with a band collar denim shirt, raw denim and a pair of black dress wingtips – encompassing the perfect “high and low” look.

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Jacket: All Saints \ Denim Band Collar Shirt: Frank & Oak \ Jeans: Gap \ Shoes: Mr B’s

The general consensus is to have your leather jacket fit as snug as possible, calling for sizing down. But for this All Saints Kahawa, I went with the opposite and sized up from an S to an M. Even though leather has the tendency to stretch out slightly, I thought the S was a little too tight for me. I am also too conditioned with how my tailored jackets fit and was aspiring to achieve a “fuller drape”. However, when determining your size, the most important aspect to ensure is that the jacket’s shoulders fits you. If you feel the size’s body is not as tapered as you like it, don’t worry because, contrary to what others believe, leather jackets can be altered. I personally use, like and recommend Leather T.O. Fashions. They are meticulous with their craft, quick turnaround times and are reasonably priced.

Lastly, I am going to start implementing more casual wear in my writings as I feel it is more accessible and socially accepted (although the former drastically depends on your lifestyle, social circle and a lot of other factors). I sincerely believe such will be particularly useful for guys who are still in university or seeking to start dressing with no stress.

Thanks for reading, cheers.

Braided Belts

I don’t like wearing belts with my trousers. As cliche as it is, I am a firm believer that if you have something made or altered to your body, you shouldn’t need a belt. However, occasionally you need a belt to literally hold things in place.

To me, a belt compliments casual pants, namely chinos and denim, best. Additionally, due to its accessibility, your casual pants are most probably acquired through Ready-To-Wear, entailing that the waist might not fit as snug as you like if you are in-between sizes. Quick word on sizing, if you happen to be in-between sizes for a particular brand, size up as you can easily take in the waist through alterations. But, if you are feeling frugal, the alternative to utilize a belt comes in handy.

There are staple belts that every man should possess, a black leather belt and a dark brown leather belt to match the common colours of dress shoes. However, for some, the plain leather option might be a little too formal or foreign to be paired with casual pants. A type of casual belt I would like to advocate is the braided belt. Defined by its woven construction and lack of fastening holes, it has become a personal favourite of mine.

Like all other investment pieces, think about the finishing, detailing and measurements of your prospected belt. Ideally, look for one in a sizeable width. Most RTW dress trousers have a waistband height of 1.5″ (don’t quote me on this), and a belt width of 1″ to 1.25″ will be appropriate. But for casual trousers, I like the the width to be a little wider at 1.25″ to 1.5″.

One of the belts I like to wear for the warmer weathers is this O-Ring cotton braided belt from J Crew Factory. The O-Ring buckle adds an unrivalled nonchalance to the outfit, making it extremely suitable for casual wear. As the fabric suggests, a cotton braided belt should reserve to be worn casually. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to pick out one in a more vibrant colour. I really like white because it goes well with any other colour, including white (denim). Other colours to consider: light brown braided cotton, multi coloured braid from KJP x Brooks Brothers, or a Patchwork Madras.

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The other is type of braided belt is leather. I personally like this option more as it’s not as season specific and has more wearability. I have approximately 6 to 8 belts but I always gravitate towards this Polo Ralph Lauren (exact one) braided belt pictured below. It was purchased four years ago and I wear it with my raw denim approximately two to three times a week, a true statement of an investment piece. I recommend a dark brown for its versatility but here are some other colours that I think will look great if you are thinking of injecting a little colour into your wardrobe: brown and navy from Torino or this preppy navy and yellow from Brooks Brothers.

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Brown Braided Leather belts are quite easy to locate. For those on a budget, the Polo Ralph Lauren linked above should work perfectly fine. However, for those seeking for higher quality, I recommend checking out Anderson’s, available on Mr Porter and Harry Rosen. I have also attached some photos of their braided belts below. Although they are quite expensive, their belts are proportionally well-sized, well-made and well-designed. I have been particularly eyeing their woven suedes for a while now, especially the Plum and Grey.

Also, don’t be afraid of experimenting with braided belts. Try and put one on, if you figured that it isn’t for you, unfasten the buckle, hold on to the buckle, stretch your arm out to remove the belt and put on another – it’s as convenient as that.

Thanks for reading, cheers.

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Sale Picks: Club Monaco

Club Monaco is offering an additional 30% off their sale items, a promotion that typically only runs three to four times a year. I vividly remember that their last promotion was on Black Friday, when I got my Barbour jacket, which is a long time ago considering it’s middle tier placement in the retail industry.

What’s important to note, is its third party brands. They have some notable brands, Drakes, Gitman Vintage and Allen Edmonds, and products to consider.

My picks: this lovely Drake’s scarfpocket squareselected Anonymous Ism socksAllen Edmonds Chukkaskull slippers (closely resembles my Arthur Sleep ones), donegal trousersdonegal shirt and this black Barbour Winter jacket. Sizes are going out quickly, so take your time to browse through the selection but act fast. I already missed out on a denim Porter tote bag that I was eyeing in the afternoon.

Proceeding images are arranged in the aforementioned “picks” order.

Happy shopping!

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Wearing Hats With Tailoring

If you were asked to visualize an individual wearing a suit and hat, typically, the image of a fedora, or some form of felted-brimmed headwear automatically comes to mind. That should not surprise you, as these were often worn in conjunction with tailoring throughout the 20th Century and portrayed correspondingly in movies/TV shows.

I think hats are very useful, and sometimes stylish, but I have never taken a liking to brimmed hats as it doesn’t suit my face shape well. Believe me, I have tried just about every other model at Goorin Bros on numerous occassions and could not find one that I was wholeheartedly satisfied with. Additionally, wearing a brimmed hat feels unnatural to me as it isn’t congruent with my wardrobe or lifestyle.

Hats can come in handy if you have a bad hair day or have absolutely no desire to fix your bed hair. If brimmed hats are not your style, there are other unconventional headwear substitutes to consider: Dad hats or a beanie. Before we continue, please bare in mind that these two options are inherently casual and I do not foresee, nor recommend, it complimenting a formal outfit (for example: a navy suit, silk tie, white shirt, navy tie and oxfords – corporate attire essentially).

Dad Hats:

Out of the two, the Dad hat is substantially easier to pair with tailoring. Dad hat is a type of baseball cap that is defined by its curved brim. What I personally like about the Dad hat is its ability to provide an additional visual interest to the ensemble and/or, in certain circumstances, harmonizes the ensemble by making it more casual. For an instance, looking at the photos (below), the medium washed denim Dad hat is paired with a chambray button down, indigo herringbone linen/wool tie, double breasted navy blazer, stonewashed jeans and burgundy penny loafers. Without the hat, this pairing would be viewed with perplexity as the blazer/shirt/tie combination leans toward the formal aspect while the stonewashed jeans to the other. The Dad hat then acts as an anchor, docking the ensemble closer to the casual lane of the formality spectrum.

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Jacket: SuitSupply \ Shirt: Spier & Mackay \ Brown Leather Braided Belt: Ralph Lauren \ Tie: Bows-N-Tie \ Stonewashed Denim: Club Monaco \ Herringbone Socks: Anonymous Ism \ Shoes: Weejun Penny Loafers \ Pocket Square: Drakes \ Dad Hat: Gap 

For versatility sake, one in medium/light blue or olive would be the most ideal. The one from the photo is from Gap, which you can easily score from their frequent 40% off sales. You can also find one in a seasonal fabric, like this wool hat from Brooks Brothers or brown houndstooth tweed from Ralph Lauren.

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I have been wearing this double breasted jacket a lot recently. Despite the generous swooping expressive lapels, the navy base pairs exceedingly well with everything in my wardrobe. It is also incredibly comfortable due to it’s lack of shoulder padding and being completely unlined (read more about the jacket here).

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In recent years, stone/lightwashed denim have received a lot more attention, particularly for having a “Dad” affiliation. However, the stonewashed denim shouldn’t be confined to your father’s wardrobe and, in a contemporary silhouette and paired adequately, can potentially appear youthful.

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Stonewashed jeans are so inherently casual that it feels a little unnatural to pair it with tailoring. I found it more appropriate to wear it with a black leather or quilted jacket. However, if you intend to use tailored garments, team it with a navy jacket. This neutralizes the jeans, allows you to create a stronger contrast and avoids over pale-ing you out.

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Beanies:

As you may be aware, I am not a large user of black and usually opt for navy, grey or brown as my “safe” colours instead. However, this black beanie, holds an exceptionally special place in my wardrobe. I purchased this beanie in 2010 from a local Singaporean vendor. The construction is barely passable and the fabric’s a weak cotton/polyester blend.  Still, throughout the years, I have worn this beanie for B-Boying, dates or just to keep hair out of my face. The memories encapsulated in this beanie, and the emotional attachment it harbours, is one of the most significant reasons I love clothing.

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Beanie: Unknown \ Sweater – Gap \ Blue Cotton Pique Shawl Collar Jacket: J.Crew \ Pocket Square: H&M \ Trousers: Made-To-Measure \ Shoes: Mr. B’s

Personally, I like to wear my beanies a little higher up on my forehead and have the crown flapped over as I feel the most comfortable in this style. You don’t have to wear it like this, rather do whatever comes the most naturally to you. Beanies are so underused that we often forget the functionality it provides, namely warmth. It’s one of the few accessories that really looks great with anything and doesn’t require much thought to pair. Late to meet a friend? Some of my favourites: ribbed cotton knit from H&Mnavy cashmere from Club Monaco or cookies & cream lambswool donegal from Drakes.

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The beanie is pair here with a blue herringbone flannel trouser, cookies and cream sweater and a shawl collar cotton pique jacket, which I have taken a particular liking to. It fits exceeding well for one that hasn’t been altered – miraculous for someone in a lengthy skinny frame. The jacket has no shoulder padding, a fuller chest, denser/heavier fabrication and a lower single button stance, which adds to a visually trimmer waist.

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I typically pair this jacket with black jeans, black turtleneck and black Chelseas for the night out. But I also like wearing it casually, with jeans/chinos and a scoop neck tee. The purchase of this jacket was meant to be versatile enough for casual and formal ensembles, and it’s also no secret that I love using formal clothing in a casual context. Some will frown upon it. But, if it’s any consolation, The Rake actually has something similar at the moment called Blazedo, in worsted wool and patch pockets. It’s very expensive and personally a highly questionable investment, but it’s reassuring to know that a celebrated Classical Menswear publication also advocates the use of shawl lapels casually.

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These looks, particularly the ensemble with the beanie and shawl collar jacket, may appear silly, clownish or inharmonious, and it’s acceptable if you feel this way. Dressing is a form of expression that is supposed to make you feel comfortable and confident, as opposed to social acceptance or validation. Ultimately, try mixing a Dad hat or beanie if it appeals to you. If it doesn’t, take this post with a grain of salt and, at the very least, appreciate the imagery.

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Thanks for reading, cheers.