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Bargain season has arrived

November 21, 2014
Photo by Web Design Hot

Photo by Web Design Hot

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it the start of the fashion bargain season. Every year at this time, millions of bargain-hunting shoppers venture out into the cold for excellent deals. Many wander through racks of clothes or displays looking for inspiration or “something they like.” Some people don’t know where to start and others don’t know where to finish. So, let’s talk about bargain hunting during the bargain season.

Black Friday

This day marks the start of the season and generally, you can find a fantastic few door busters with everything else about 30% below ideal. Prior to heading out, do your research. Tune into television and radio commercials as well as mail or news advertisements. When you arrive to the store, avoid items with prices you can get without a sale. Focus only on the door busters and other great sales. A quick Google search of the item on your phone can assist you in assessing the value of the sale. If you can purchase that jacket for less elsewhere, set it down and move to the next deal.

December Sales

As the year ages, the deals progressively improve leading up to a grand crescendo on New Year’s Day. So if you can wait, you may find a better price. On the flip side, someone else may snatch up the item you have been watching. Mastering the art of catching an item at the best deal before it disappears can take some practice and patience. It may also cause you to miss out on a few items. If you need or really, really want those shoes or watch or whatever, you may have to bite the bullet a little earlier than you would ordinarily.
The day after Christmas through New Year’s Day

Over the years, I have found some of the absolute best deals in this time frame with New Year’s Day proving to be best of all. Prior to Christmas, businesses know many of their customers must purchase presents; so they hold off giving the best deals in order to increase profits. Once Christmas comes and goes; however, they want to clear inventory. The best way to clear the racks is with once a year kind of deals.

Marketers prepare for months in anticipation of holiday shoppers. They go to great lengths to track down the last bit of research that will get you to purchase a product. They know exactly where to place each product, how to phrase posters and advertisements, and what the sales associates should tell you. Therefore, you must have a plan headed into stores during this time. Make a list, do your research, and stick to it.

Lastly, please don’t tackle a fellow shopper for a discounted product – not worth it! Don’t stress. Take it easy. Enjoy yourself and have fun. Many wonderful deals await you. As should always be the case, treat the cashiers and associates with class and dignity. They chose to work through their holidays to bring you those deals! Happy hunting.

 

For more information about bargain hunting, read:

Black Friday strategies

Finding great bargains

Quality clothing + Bargain = Smart shopping

Be mindful of marketing

 

For ideas about how to dress for Thanksgiving, read Thanksgiving attire.

 

For men’s gift ideas, read:

40+ Fashionable gift ideas for men

13 Fashionable gift ideas for men

Fashionable gift card ideas for men

 

© Copyright 2014 Fashion for the average man.

Why suit fit is so important

October 30, 2014
The Duke of Windsor in 1945

The Duke of Windsor (on the left) in 1945

When I see a great suit walk by, I take note of all the things that man is doing right. I notice the coat that lies smoothly on his chest, the ½ inch of shirt cuff and ½ inch of collar showing, and the length of the pants extending to just above the heel. And I’m not the only one, many people notice. They may not be able to put into words why the look stands out, but it does. If you make it a point to adjust your suits to fit well, you will garner attention as well. Adjusting a suit for fit is one of the most necessary changes you can make.

Think of your camera taking pictures. You may have thought to include all the right people arranged perfectly, but if you snap the shot out of focus, you ruin the whole photo. Proper suit fit is the detail that brings everything into focus. Too tight can give the impression you are busting at the seams and outgrowing your clothes. Too baggy says you walked into a store and picked the first suit you saw. Look for the sweet spot in the middle. It’s so important because you could spend $2,000 on an awesome quality suit and look like you missed it big. In fact, an improperly fitting suit of quality appears worse than a properly fitting suit of less quality. The concept of a suit tailored specifically to you is not new. Look back through the fashion archives and you will find men like the Duke of Windsor with an especially keen eye for this.

Achieving proper fit is relatively simple. First, know your measurements. To understand how a suit should fit, read Suits 101: Elements of a properly fitting suit. Second, get a tailor involved. I am frequently amazed at how many men overlook these vital professionals. A tailor can provide you with your measurements. Just ask them to whip out a tape measure and write them down. They will also know how to alter a suit to get you to the sweet spot of fit. And most likely, you have one down the street. If you live in the city, you probably drive by a tailor a few times a week. So, search one out on google or ask a friend for a recommendation.

Pay attention to details as your suit must shine the best possible light on you – better than any other clothing purchase. When an occasion calls for something special, men wear suits. When men deal with serious business, they often break out their best suits. When they want to look their best, they wear suits. Really, anytime a man wants to show the world he addresses his affairs the way he dresses, he wears a suit. Simply put, Suit = Best foot forward. So if a suit stands at the pinnacle of a man’s presentation of himself, why not get every little detail right? Why not make sure it fits perfectly?

© Copyright 2014 Fashion for the average man.

Wear a $700 outfit for under $200

October 8, 2014

SaleIn the past, shopping intimidated me. For one, the really nice clothes sucked up so much of my money. And two, I didn’t know where to look for the really good deals. For this reason, I either bought less expensive clothes of poor quality or paid full price for a more expensive item of greater quality. Truthfully, it is possible to land some great quality clothes for tamped down prices.

In order to get the really great clothes for a steal, you need to plan ahead. Consider the following strategy:

Make a list of the items you wish to acquire.

  1. Save money through the year.
  2. Keep your eye out for sales throughout the year and pick up any items on your list that you find for a good price.
  3. Take all the money you saved and hit the key sales. The absolute best days to get the best deals are the day after Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
  4. On the key days, buy the items on your list first starting with the best deals you can find. Don’t get side tracked by the many other items you will see on sale. Once you check off your list, you can let your eyes wander into other areas.

I have really come to enjoy shopping these sales. I make a list of the clothes I want and wade through many sales to find them. I always start at the same two stores: Macy’s and Dillard’s. They usually have the best prices on the best clothes. At Macy’s, I will check out their door busters such as heavily discounted sport coats, suits or shirts. One year, they had several hundred designer ties on sale for $9.99. I then use a Macy’s card to get another 15-20% off making sure to pay off the balance at the cash register to avoid the card’s high interest charges (20%+ on my card). At Dillard’s, I look for their 50% discounting of already-reduced sale items. I have even seen a $1,000 Hugo Boss suit on sale for $175 during one of those sales.

The following is an example of a $709 wardrobe that I purchased for $188:

Clothing Article         Retail Price    Sale Price

Worsted Wool Pants      $150                    $50

Sport Coat                        $275                    $47

Dress Shirt                       $60                      $8

Designer Tie                    $50                      $10

Cuff Links                        $40                      $11

Shoes                                $90                      $50

Pair of Socks                   $9                         $2

Belt                                   $35                       $10

Total                              $709                  $188

Every man should take advantage of these kinds of deals. However, if your closet is seriously void of the necessities, then go out now and buy enough to get you through the months to the big sales.

© Copyright Fashion for the average man 2014.

Pocket Square Logistics

September 19, 2014

For the longest time, I would see men wearing pocket squares, but I did not know how or when to pull it off for myself. So, I simply opted out. To be honest, I rarely wore a sport coat in those days. Today, I reach for one as often as possible with an eye to incorporate a pocket square into my ensemble. Why? Well, it can add a dash of personality or color, upgrade a look, or signal you mean business. And yes, people do notice.

In a past era of the refined and gentile man, the “handy” handkerchief stood ready for a sudden sneeze or similar mess; thereby, allowing a man to avoid an unseemly moment. As time progressed, the work horse handkerchief went into hiding in a back pocket or within the coat while the one for display sat untouched and pristine in the upper front coat pocket. Today, it declares you gave consideration to your presentation.

Use of a pocket square does not have to be that difficult. So let’s address the three main ways you can employ this key accent:

1. Standard – I recommend starting here. This version appears as if mountain peaks rise from your pocket. You pretty much can’t go wrong with this one. To fold your handkerchief in this manner, follow this diagram:

pocket square diagram

2. Straight line – This conveys a more serious and well thought out look. It says you have everything in its place in a way similar to a tie bar. For this version, fold the handkerchief until only a quarter inch line shows above the top of the pocket.

pocket

 

3. Free flowing / Your own version – This can take the form of a more eccentric puff or rumple. It can also be a unique creation of your own. Be careful with special creations as they have the potential to drag you into Tacky Land. At least once, give a basic rumple a try. To do this, pinch and hold your handkerchief in the center allowing the ends to dangle. Then, shove the ends down into the pocket leaving the pinched center showing. You can also puff it out from there. The basic rumple conveys a more free spirit.

handkerchiefs

Photo by PocketSquareZ. Click photo for licensing info.

 

Once again, find a way to incorporate a pocket square into your outfit. Try different patterns and colors, but don’t exactly match your tie with it. I suggest coordinating both tie and pocket square tying them together with a shared color. The easiest way to do this is to wear a multicolored tie with a solid colored pocket square (or the reverse). As long as we are talking about solid colors, I should mention solid white. It provides the best starter handkerchief as it works with any sport coat and tie combination. In particular, solid white elevates a black suit to new levels of dapper.

So the next time you celebrate that special something with friends at an excellent restaurant, upgrade your sport coat with a pocket square.

© Copyright 2014 Fashion for the average man.

No losers, it’s a tie!

August 27, 2014

Colorful tie collectionThe creators of the tie introduced a fashion necessity to men everywhere. In the 1600s, it was the French who grasped the concept from observing the Croatian soldiers wearing colorful scarves. The Croats rightly knew it looked good. Quickly, it spread throughout the nobility. Over the years, it has solidified its place among the wardrobes of the best dressed and most important men. And today, it shows up in the classiest of events. I attended a college with a dress code. Every male student wore a tie to class, breakfast and lunch, and chapel. Instead of looking great, I sported some pretty lame ties. In fact, I would cut the collar out of a white shirt and wear it with a tie under a sweat shirt. Really? With all the wonderful classic ties in the world, I couldn’t find one for my collection? What a wasted opportunity.

Let’s discuss the basics of tie wearing. All ties must have a dimple. The tie should extend to the middle of your belt. Any further and it flings your ensemble out of balance. Pay attention to this in others and you will spot it more frequently than you would think. A tie that hangs into your lap draws too much focus to the tie at the expense of your entire appearance. Any shorter and you look like your belly is exposed, despite your shirt covering your abdomen. Seriously, people will look right at your stomach.

Choose a good looking versatile tie. Think about how it will work with various shirts and for differing occasions. Buy silk whenever possible for its smooth and beautiful texture. If you have the slightest feeling that a tie looks inexpensive, don’t get it. A tie should dress you up, not make you look cheap.

When mixing colors and patterns, think through the color wheel and look at the various groups. Certain colors go well together. In particular, blue matches well with many colors. Also, black and white is so classic – white shirt with a black tie. Try this combo – tan dress slacks with a light blue and white checked shirt and a dark blue and white striped tie. Brown belt and brown shoes and of course, tan socks. To top it off, wear a brown muted plaid sport coat. It’s a sophisticated look that will tell the world that you appreciate life. If you need to portray a more earnest, to-the-point attitude, hunt down a serious looking tie bar. It says you mean business and like to have everything in its place.

If you don’t own a tie, start with a solid black one. Then, slowly build a collection. Remember that a tie should flow with the whole of your look. Therefore, return the novelty ties that you receive as gifts or simply give them to someone else. With enough practice, you will be gathering a collection of more than just ties. You will collect compliments. I speak from experience.

Dinner date mismatch

August 5, 2014

A couple weeks ago, I drove my wife out to a nice restaurant for dinner with friends. Walking in and out of the plaza, I started to notice a trend – well dressed women accompanied by poorly dressed men. Once I tuned into it, this glaring mismatch showed up again and again. For example, I observed one woman with a classic summer dress, cute purse, stylish watch and a good pair of shoes. Her date? Oversized polo, shorts, and flip flops! And they were heading into an above average restaurant. This has to end. Please tell me you will stop if this is you.

When you head out the door with your lovely wife or girlfriend for a date and she looks fantastic, put a little thought into how you will escort her. Not only will she appreciate your style to accompany her, but she will feel more valued for the effort. To help you along, I offer you five outfit ideas:

1. Dressed up casual – Dark grey or blue jeans, a fun/wild shirt (i.e. green flowers), and a light tan sport coat, brown belt and brown loafers.

2. Laid back and stylishDark blue jeans, polo shirt (color of your choice), dark colored cardigan unbuttoned with sleeves pushed up above the elbows, and your favorite pair of Converse Chuck Taylors.

3. Outdoor event – Light tan linen pants, long sleeve shirt with sleeves rolled up above the elbows (tucked in), boat shoes or loafers (with belt matching the shoes).

4. Fine dining – Grey or tan slacks, an awesome pair of brown oxford shoes, a crisp white or light blue shirt, and a navy blue sport coat. Add a tie depending on the occasion.

5. Ultra summer casual – For the evening walk on the beach or that historical outdoor day trip with equally historic barbecue. Wear well-fitting light colored shorts (read Shorts made easy) and a darker colored linen long sleeve shirt with sleeves rolled up above the elbows along with a casual boat shoe and no socks or no-show socks. You can also throw on a classic black crew neck t-shirt if the occasion warrants it.

These represent just a few of the options at your disposal. Really, you can create any outfit you like as long as you stick to the basics of style discussed throughout this blog. One thing, I do recommend finding a way to wear pants on your date. It’s more intentional than shorts. For your date, give your style at least a teaspoon of thought. Don’t just grab your favorite worn out polo and the nearest pair of shorts. If you find yourself staring into your closet with a blank stare, try one of the outfits listed above or ask for your date’s advice (except for first dates). Women tend to have a decent eye for style. Oh and one more thing, notice your date’s outfit and comment positively. And have fun!

Right in Front of Your Face

July 17, 2014

binoculars manWell-dressed men live everywhere in the world. For certain, you will cross paths with one of them in your city sometime this week (if not this month). The next time you notice a well-dressed man, stop for a minute and pay attention to his ensemble. What is he doing right? Why do you like it? What ideas can you borrow?

Very few of us were born with an innate sense for fashion. Therefore, fashion ignorance requires that we search for mentors to help. My job places me in the midst of the legal world on a regular basis in the form of mediations and trials. One time at a mediation, I sat across the table from a very well-dressed attorney. He wore a dark blue wool pinstripe suit with an impeccable crisp white shirt and a new stylish dark tie. Peaking out from beneath his shirt cuff ticked a beautiful timepiece. To top it off, he had polished his shoes. I took a mental picture and thought about ways to improve my own look. His appearance boosted him up a little more; and, I knew that I could do the same.

Turn on the news and watch various politicians speak. They usually dress well. Go to the symphony and watch people. You can even find great athletic style at the gym or casual style at a professional baseball game. Another great source, movies, can also provide you with plenty of good ideas. Several movies come to mind that show good styles – Hitch, Stranger than Fiction, To Catch a Thief, and even Fun with Dick and Jane. If you see a character wearing a particularly dapper shirt and sport coat combination, then search through your favorite stores for similar items. People will never know that your clever arrangement originated in Hollywood.

In contrast, you can also learn what fashion mistakes to avoid. These examples outnumber the well-dressed men by a great margin. Some of my favorites almost need an intervention, like the man wearing an all camouflage outfit in public (okay for hunting and covert military operations) or the man wearing colorful baggy plaid pants with an equally colorful imprinted t-shirt. Sadly enough, I used to be an example of poor fashion. I would frequently wear the wrong shoes and socks. I also wore the wrong sizes.

Try to learn from what you observe in others. If you discover a great look, borrow it. If you stumble across bad fashion, ask yourself, “Am I doing that?” If you make the same mistake, then modify your fashion to remove the bad practice. With time, you may happen to catch someone else appreciating your style.

Watch or Timepiece?

July 3, 2014

WatchFor the longest time, I wore no watch. Difficult to do as my family enjoyed giving me watches as gifts. I suppose if you see a bare arm, you think Christmas gift. I explained that it irritated my arm and that I always lost them. Since I traveled the world and needed to make flights and appointments, I eventually bought a cheap little keychain clock with an easy to undue clasp. It fit nicely over one of my belt loops; and, voila – my way to keep time. Only one problem, its creator lovingly molded it into the shape of a little metal flower. Believe it or not, keychain watches do not come in masculine forms. However, at the time I did not care. I reasoned that I needed practicality and the correct time. Eventually, I would break through the watch barrier and come to cherish them. Please learn from my mistake – no keychain watches – on your keychain or your belt loop.

Artistic and detailed creations fascinate me. Not only me, but many appreciate timepieces as art or fashion. With regard to the watch, so much detail and attention come together to present a fine watch or timepiece. A watch tells time, but a timepiece is something of a piece of art – a treasured heirloom to pass down to your son. You can find a great watch that will add much to your wardrobe. And, I would definitely suggest that you wear a nice watch as it adds a little something extra. It shows the world that you consider the details. I would also suggest that you contemplate investing in a really great timepiece – one that will make people notice. Watches with Swiss movement fall into this category – some of which (i.e. Blancpain, Breguet, and Patek Phillipe) stand way out of the price range of the average guys, myself included. Look for a watch that does not have a battery, but self-winds or requires manual winding. Great brands to consider such as Hamilton and Raymond Weil offer watches in the $1,000 to $2,000 range that make that nice impression. Until you do make that investment, start with a good $100 to $200 watch. I personally like Skagen, Citizen, and Fossil for a good starter watch.

As far as the nice Swiss made timepiece, I own a Hamilton Riva watch. Another thing, if you want to buy a great timepiece, buy it from a watch company. In today’s male fashion market, many companies have begun making fashionable watches to get into the action. Some examples include: Lacoste (clothing company), Burberry (clothing company), Gucci (clothing company), Montblanc (pen company), Kenneth Cole (clothing company), and many more. Look for a company who made their place in the world through watches. In other words, get that great watch from a watch company.

However, these companies can provide you with a nice fashionable watch – one that looks great. You may decide to start with a great looking watch and work your way up to a timepiece. Whichever way you decide to proceed, get yourself a nice watch.

10 phrases you never want to hear

June 12, 2014

ClownThroughout my life, I have received comments all across the spectrum from “what a terrible look” to “I love your look.” Sometimes people knew what they were talking about and other times they had no idea. Over the years, I have made a lot of changes leading to many compliments.  In thinking through your style, here are ten phrases you may want to avoid hearing:

1. “You remind me of [ insert unflattering movie/tv character here ]”. Back in college, I had someone tell me I reminded him of Grimace, the purple McDonald’s gum drop character. At the time, I was wearing a purple sweatshirt and purple sweatpants – the kind with the tight grippy elastic at the waist and ankles. Not a good look. I hated the comparison, but I got the point. The all purple combo quickly disappeared.

2. “Please pull up your pants, your butt is showing.” This looks especially bad. I know some of you may be saying to yourself, “you don’t know what you’re talking about, large sagging pants are awesome.” I don’t care. It looks terrible and undermines a pillar of great style – you look your best when wearing clothes that properly fit you.

3. “You are underdressed for this event.” A wedding is the classic example. When attending a special event, dress appropriately. For more on this, read A wedding is no time for casual.

4. “Your collar looks dirty, have you noticed?” When the ring around the collar becomes permanent, ditch the shirt. For more on this, read Yellow pits or bulls eye for a sloppy look?

5. “I’m sorry, but will you please take a mint?” Make sure to keep your breath fresh and clean. Oh, and never, never, never turn down a mint.  Remember this saying: “Never refuse a mint; it just might be a hint.”

6. “Did you notice the big hole in your shirt/pants right there?” Keep your clothes in good condition. When holes appear, pitch them.

7. “What’s that smell?” If you find yourself hearing this as you enter a room, you may want to review the smell checklist – Does anything smell? Body odor? Breath? Feet? Clothes? Anything else? For more on this, read What’s that smell?

8. “Trying to bring back the fanny pack [ or really any unfashionable item ] as a style statement, eh?” The list of these items goes on for days and is frequently abused. Don’t wear fanny packs (or spandex or socks with sandals) in public.

9. “I didn’t know the circus was in town?” or “Wow, are you taking up clowning on the side?” This comes about when you wear pink polka dot pants with a bright flowery shirt, orange shoes and yellow sunglasses. You may want to stand out, but there is a balance with these kinds of things. No need to get too wild … unless of course you actually do perform in a circus. I plan to address this area in a future article.

10. Any kind of fashion advice from a stranger. If you do happen to receive advice from a stranger, seriously consider what the person has to stay. They may be giving you a gift. On the other hand, they may have no idea what they are talking about. So, think about it. If it makes sense, make a change. If not, then move on.

Overall, pay attention to comments. While they do not define you, they may offer up some clues to areas you may need to consider changing. For those comments that clearly reside in the mean-spirited category, I think you know how to respond. Yep, with a smile and an awkward moment of silence. As you consider your style and various comments, remember the basics and read through this blog for ideas.

You may also enjoy reading these articles:

Ignorance is back in style

Fashion expert? 

© Copyright 2014 Fashion for the average man.

Dress Shirts – Fashion Necessity

May 29, 2014

?????????????????????????????????????In college, I would discover a stylish article of clothing, take it home and wear it all the time. In particular, I can recall a red Ralph Lauren button down shirt (collar buttons to the front) that I cherished. It fit into this category of frequent use. Honestly, unlike my other purchases, this one did improve my look (despite it being too big). My problem, unknown to me, stemmed from my overall lack of quality dress shirts. Turns out, three to four collared shirts do not constitute variety.

If you have deemed yourself a polo or t-shirt man, you may be selling yourself short. Try adding a little refinement to your life with a quality dress shirt. To start, launch your quest for the perfect shirt with a quality solid white one. This staple should reside in every man’s closet. Next, acquire two solid light blue shirts. Then, venture into check and stripes (always a classic). By quality, I mean the shirt should be constructed of exquisite cotton, be accented with choice buttons, and fit appropriately.

Please wear the correct size. Too many times, I have seen men walking around in a fabric balloon. While it doesn’t look horrible, it looks like you tried and missed the mark. Appropriately fitting shirts will enhance your build and portray you as more athletic.

The collar should frame your face well. If your neck resembles that of a giraffe, use a tall collar. For a short neck, try a pointed collar. And, if your face is narrow, wear a spread collar. Also, if your neck comes across as oddly out of shape from your body, use a collared shirt to transform your look. Oddly enough, Cary Grant was self-conscious about his neck. Early on in his acting career, he received a bad audition review because of his neck’s odd proportion to his head and body. From that point, he concealed his neck with various collared shirts, ties, and scarves. Next time you see a movie or picture of him, pay attention to his neck. You will be hard pressed to find a shot without his neck covered.

A spread collar possesses a more prim and proper appeal making it ideal with a suit at the Symphony. And, for that subtle kick back to academic life, add a button down shirt to the mix. As your collection grows and you show off better shirts more often, be mindful of wear and tear. Consider a yellow collar the alarm clock for shirt retirement. Other red flags to alert you include stains, holes and frayed edges. With more elegant shirts, you will set in place this important cornerstone of your wardrobe.

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