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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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.

 

Benefits Of Wearing A Waistcoat

 

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I briefly talked about the benefits of high rised trousers before. To reiterate, one of my favourite things about high rised trousers is the ability to balance one’s proportions when the jacket is unbuttoned and prevent the repulsive shirt triangle from disclosing when the jacket is buttoned. However, I am also aware that not everyone likes wearing their trousers like I do. After all, personal taste and comfort takes precedence in clothing.

But what if you don’t like high rise trousers, and have no intention of ever experimenting with it, but seek to achieve the benefits mentioned above? Well, it is possible and the answer: utilization of a waistcoat. As seen in this photo where the jacket is unbutton, the waistcoat creates a visually seamless horizontal line that balances the neck to toe flawlessly. This requires your waistcoat to be long enough to cover your trouser’s waistband. The only problem with a waistcoat is that its considered too formal by today’s bizarre standards. However, for your consideration, one in a seasonal cloth/pattern can subdue the formality of it.

Pictured here is a brown plaid Harris Tweed waistcoat and trousers that I acquired in the beginning stages of my menswear journey. The rest of the ensemble is composed of my staple categorical pieces that might struck you with familiarity: brown knitted silk/mohair tie, grey flannel shirt, navy hopsack blazer, charcoal herringbone topcoat and brown chelseas.

 

 

Love/Hate Relationship With Fashion & Instagram

DSC_1559I have a love/hate relationship with fashion and Instagram. Instagram has proven to provide great value for fashion, particularly the growth of new and existing occupations – influencers and bloggers respectively. What I hate about it, is the lack of creativity it instils and its focus on numbers.

Before the establishment of Dress With No Stress, an aspect my good friend, Andrew Tan, hinted for me to thoroughly consider was “my voice”. In other words, what do you hope to achieve and, more importantly, what are you trying to say with your writings.

These days, the creation of fashion blogs seem, more often than not, motivated by acquiring free stuff or living in a limelight reminiscent of their favourite influencer/blogger. They lack creativity, perspective and “voice”. It is one thing to be inspired, and another to imitate. Unfortunately, what this usually breeds is a website with great visual content but redundant writings. I believe a blog needs both to be successful, visual and written content, while placing a higher emphasis on the latter.

What you will also notice, with regards to the aforementioned blogs, is an unhealthy concentration on social capital – number of followers, as though such a numerical value reflects the quality of one’s content. However do not be mistaken, it is important, if not imperative, to use one’s best efforts to acquire social capital. But when it becomes the focal point it tarnishes the page’s authenticity and, subsequently, content.

Instead, a factor to monitor should be one’s engagements. The interactions between your readers/viewers/followers is crucial for developing rapport and, ultimately, a genuine (and somewhat transparent) relationship between both parties. This is why I always welcome any and all questions in pertinent to menswear, be it through email, commenting or Direct Messaging. Although admittedly I am not the promptest with replies, I promise that you will receive an answer to any relevant question(s) at my earliest convenience.

Additionally, please bare in mind that this is not an attack or “shots fired” at existing bloggers or influencers, but rather my mere observation upon the correlation of the two, namely fashion and Instagram. If you were offended, I sincerely apologize as it was never my intention nor the post’s purpose. If that is not sufficient, please feel free to send me a message and we can privately discuss it further.

To end and offset the inherent negativity to this post, here are two bloggers, both post-secondary students like myself, who are eloquent writers (more so than me at least) with a prominent voice in the vast landscape of classical menswear – Szymon Jeziorko and Mark Lai.

Sticking To Neutrals

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In fashion, everyone talks about the “power” of neutral coloured garments, namely, it’s incredible versatility and ridiculously effortless pairing. This explains why a quintessential garment piece can rejuvenate your wardrobe and provide a numerous addition of looks or pairings.

The collage above further exemplifies both aspects and the ability to break up your suit into separates.

On the left: grey turtleneck, light brown suit jacket and grey flannel trousers. On the right: the same grey turtleneck, grey herringbone tweed jacket and light brown trousers, which is the same fabric as the jacket on the left.

Despite utilizing the same turtleneck, you will notice that both ensembles look completely different from each other. Of course, there are several variances to cite this difference, such as lapel width or shorter jacket length etc. But the premise of conveniently switching neutral colours around to create a new look is evident.

I know firsthand that we are often tempted to purchase that beautiful windowpane patterned blazer or the unique odd colour jacket. But I strongly urge you to resist the impulse and steer close to the procurement of neutral coloured garments. With absolute assurance, you will soon discover how much more convenient it is to get dressed and the limitless combinations neutrals may entail.

SuitSupply Madison Jacket Review

This is my first SuitSupply jacket and instead of comparing it to other SuitSupply fits (that I have never tested), this post will be dedicated to looking at the jacket objectively as a viable wardrobe investment.

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With the resurgence of double breasted jackets and notable Instagram influences, it is no surprise that the Madison is one of SuitSupply’s most popular fits. Like everyone, I have heard great things about SuitSupply, particularly as an entry level off the rack tailoring.

SuitSupply was founded in 2000, with its first store established in 2007, by Fokke de Jong. Interestingly, the idea started out by him selling suits out of his car. He has come a long way since then and have opened stores in various countries, notably China, Singapore, UK and Canada. SuitSupply uses considerably fabrics from notable mills, VBC, REDA and even E. Thomas to name a few. Also, another fascinating point to note, a Wall Street Journal article claims that a then “Suitsupply’s $614 (suit) was declared on par with a $3,625 suit from Armani”.

I have been meaning to pick something up from them for awhile. The biggest hesistation was which model. I had a few criterias/preference that it needed to met (listed below). For my first purchase at SuitSupply, I was adamant on purchasing only a jacket, as opposed to a suit, because I hardly wear suits at the moment and their trousers are relatively lower rised, which I do not wear nor advocate. There are several features about the Madison that really struck out to me.

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Unstructured Construction – The jacket has no shoulder padding or lining, making it incredibly comfortable to be layered over/under and allowing it to be more appropriate for both casual and formal settings.

Spalla Camicia – A term to describe “Pleated Shoulders” or “Shirt Shoulders”, lending the user an extended range of mobility and an extra touch of comfortability. The Spalla Camicia on this jacket is also rather subtle and more subdued than the shoulders conventionally since on younger Italian bloggers/tailors, notably in Pitti.

Navy Colour – In late 2016, I started encountering a problem (one that I failed to document on the blog), I was finding it incredibly difficult to dress in the mornings as I had too many options/clothing to choose from. Thus I made a decisive conclusion to substantially cut down my wardrobe and rebuild it with quintessential pieces. A single breasted navy hopsack blazer was the first priority followed by a double breasted option.

Fabrication – The jacket is made in a hopsack weave, perfect for casual (and) summer wear, Lanificio Cerruti “Traveller Wool” fabric, indicating that the jacket is crease resistant/travel appropriate. I am flying to New York next week and I intend to put this assumption to the test. I will be sure to update you accordingly.

Lapel Width – SuitSupply has two double breasted models, Soho and Madison. From my understanding the difference between the two is that the Soho has a slightly narrower lapel width and uses jetted pockets instead of patch, which is apparent on the Madison. Since the beginning of my menswear journey, I developed a preference for wider lapels and thus was more inclined to select the Madison over the Soho.

Patch Pockets – The epitome of functionality and flexibility.

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The jacket is a size 38L and, despite it’s extra sleeve length – almost an inch more from the 38R, I still needed my tailor to extend it. Additionally, I had to get my tailor to taper the body further. It is important to note that SuitSupply’s fits, especially for their Contemporary Models, are a lot slimmer than other brands. Thankfully, they do have quite a comprehensive size guide for each model. I strongly recommend thoroughly reviewing it to determine which fit is most suitable for your body type.

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Measuring at 5″, the lapels on this jacket is rather wide. But the unstructured construction, combined with it’s navy base, makes it incredibly easy to pair and wear. Whenever I am contemplating a purchase, I meticulously consider if it blends substantially well with my formal and casual wardrobe simultaneously. For business casual meetings, like when these photos were taken, I will pair it with either a white/light blue shirt, a slightly lighter coloured trouser to create a stronger visual interest, a wider width tie (a 3″ knitted in this case) and boots. Alternatively, for a slightly more dress down look, I will wear the jacket with a turtleneck, winter boots and either brown corduroy trousers or grey flannel trousers (all part of M14‘s items) as pictured below.

It is important to note that due to the jacket’s lighter weight, it does not drape as well as my other heavier jackets. For skinnier individuals, I always suggest choosing a fabric that is more robust or heavier in weight. Additionally, I was a little disappointed that the jacket uses plastic, as opposed to horn/tortoise shell, buttons that gives it an inferior feel. But this is a small and affordable amendment that I intend to do in the near future. Still, priced at $429 CAD, I was very impressed with this jacket overall.

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I find this jacket to be a perfect investment piece, especially for a person who isn’t required to wear a suit to work, dresses daily for a semi-formal work setting and is looking to invigorate his wardrobe. The silhouette and aforementioned details (patch pockets, unstructuredness etc.) is quite flattering on an average proportionally sized individual. This jacket however, particularly their Madison model, can be quite aggressive with its lapel width and curves. But, when in combination with its navy base, it becomes fairly versatile and a wardrobe staple. I have been wearing this jacket often in conjunction with M14 items and I cannot wait to share/reveal the endless pairings that is possible with this jacket. Stay tuned!

 

Don’t Be Afraid of Brown

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Especially in the realm of causal wear, guys should utilize Brown more. I understand the pickle of it in tailoring, such that no matter how you attempt to dress it up, brown, no matter the shade, will never appear more formal than the staple navy or grey suit. However, this does not pose as a concern for one’s casual wardrobe.

I always feel that we sometimes avoid brown because the colour ages us. But we seem to forget that brown comes in a variety of shades (camel, tan, honey, chocolate to name a few) and how versatile that can entail. Us, guys, also have a tendency to lean towards monochromatic colours, not because we are necessary ‘afraid’ of colours but rather, we are confused by it. We are unsure how to pair colours efficiently or adequately neutralize it in our ensembles.

Implementing brown is a great maneuver to add colour to your wardrobe. In this photo, even the reverse, grey sweater and brown topcoat, looks composed. Still, I will strongly suggest starting out small, think: accessories or a sweater. That way, you can conclude if brown is truly a colour for you or not. Another aspect to consider is “what shade?”. As a general rule of thumb start with a lighter and gradually move darker.

So the next time you making your next considerable wardrobe investment, pick the brown boot instead of the black or, as the above photo illustrates, a brown sweater as opposed to the familiar grey.