Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wasteful Outfitting

It is Christmas Eve, and I am in the woods. It happens to the best of us.

While packing for my overnight parental stay, I thought to myself, "Is there even a point?"

It is not like I live in the mecca of fashion or culture where I live normally, but I take pride in putting myself together well. When putting my bag together to come spend a night with my family in the country, it was honestly harder to do than packing for a trip to the city, a show, or an event. I felt like I didn't want to "waste" a good outfit on being in the back woods with my family, but then I came to my senses and realized that you need to dress for yourself as well as others. I refuse to let myself go just because I am chillin' with people in holiday sweaters and winterized Crocs. Clearly I can't sway everyone. Also - I just went shopping, and I need to break everything in.

In my new Ben Sherman overnight bag (which I thought to myself, I might as well use a Sobeys bag...Hahaha) I put in some slim fit dark wash jeans, 2 flannels, a square cut silk tie, a cardigan, and leather slip ons. I came to the realization that even my family kind of expects some sort of fashion extravaganza from me, so I better pull it out. I feel confident in my holiday wear. Good for photos, comfortable. No, it isn't D&G 2012, but it is better than a sweater with a polar bear on it, like my Dad is currently wearing, God love him.

I guess what this made me realize, is that you really do, always, need to do things that make you happy. Do it for yourself. I think too many people dress for others, wear labels for status, and don't care enough just because no one "important" will see them. If I am going to be in the woods, you are damn straight that I am going to look fantastic.

Rock out your Holiday wear tomorrow, boys.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bowtie Mandatory

I feel such a warm welcome, being a new contributor to Bloke. I am a young and opinionated business owner, fueled by fashion, hair, and music. I would call my taste " classic alternative", if I had to give it a genre. I hope my posts are found interesting, useful, and a positively different point of view for Bloke.

I draw inspiration for this first post from a related post I did in my own personal fashion/lifestyle blog : www.tmelong.tumblr.com

Let's face it - any man of style or of a fashionable mind either has, needs, or wants (maybe even secretly) a bowtie. Personally, I rock a bowtie both formally and in-formally. I feel like how I do this may need it's own special post ;)

I am really into the look lately - I like mixing a classic, well groomed look with my alternative demeanour. I like the contrast - I feel kind of cheeky being covered in tattoos and wearing a bowtie. I won't lie.

While searching for various sources on the article, I stumbled upon what could be my next addiction: http://wickhamhousebrand.com/

Wickham House is a husband and wife team based in Florida, that make CUSTOM, yes, CUSTOM, bowties, and various other men's accessories. They make most of their products by hand, which is cool, and the prices are alarmingly reasonable. A custom made bowtie for $35 US? Yes, please. You can also order pre-designed ties. They have various categories based on material, size, etc, and even have a "Bowtie Of The Month Club", which I clearly need to join.

Fine craftsmanship impresses me, and I am so pleased that they take what they do seriously enough to do it by hand, do custom orders, and keep their pricing at such a reasonable point. I will definitely be looking into more items from Wickham, and I suggest all you fellows check it out.

Whether you get a custom made piece, or pick one up for $15.00 at H&M, I say go for it. Get a solid. Get a print. Wear it with a nice shirt and blazer, or casual it up with a button down and cardigan. Either way, they are huge right now. Don't miss out.

Don't be afraid of something a little different. Try it out.

Questions? Get at me!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Local Lookies part 1

For those not in the know, I live in a "little" city on the East coast of Canada called Halifax (or Hashifax, if you're a fan of Kevin Smith/light narcotics). One of the older cities in North America, it has a rich heritage and history to draw upon, and an excellent position halfway between the hub of Canadian fashion, arguably Toronto/Montreal, New York City, and London England. Now, that isn't to say we're totally up to date in our goldie-locks orbit around western style. As a co-worker from Manchester was quick to point out, our humble city is and can be way behind the times compared to the UK or Europe, sometimes by years.

But that isn't to say we haven't developed a patchwork vogue of our own, as the local fashionistas can attest to. One of the best is undeniably Fashion East, a tumblr very much in the same vein as the Sartorialist, feature the smart set of our coastal city.

This (extended) week I will be exploring the shops and designers of this heritage hub, the local media, and how Halifax has fashioned its own style out of necessity.

Before we get a-going this week...

I'd like to shout-out to the lovely ladies at Fashion Me Fabulous for who continue to have the grace and patience to put up with my life long marathon race away from deadlines. Today's FMF is sweet and simple, but of absolute necessity to be said as Paris, my most capable editor, put it;

I tried to slough off most of high school the moment I graduated,
but some styles you just love. They enchanted you when you
were developing your style and you still gravitate to them now.

For me, it's the trainers/jeans/suit jacket look that I fell head over heels in love with while a very impressionable teenager wandering another Paris, taking in as much culture as he could before being thrown back into rural Ontario hum-drum and clothing-by-necessity. Some call ti lazy. I call ti a terrific place for a starting line.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The other side of the coin

Here at Bloke, we examine quite a few instances of the bleeding in fashion between men and women, typically with the reoccurring theme being how designers attempt to expand the masculine market into the feminine, what with skirts, skorts, one legged pants, meggings, man up, etc etc, and how, more often than not, they fail to reach any kind of happy middle ground between design, history, and how uncomfortable guys can be in clothing they don't/others don't understand, let alone change the deeply cemented norms of the male wardrobe. Today however, we're going to look at one success, that while existing in almost a total vacuum of information, allows us to consider a few angles for the Blokeish look.

Because sometimes the best dressed man, is a lady.

The amazing and always enjoyable Sartorialist, never without his camera, snapped this shot in Istanbul and posted it on his blog a few days ago.

Contrary to popular belief, Istanbul and many other parts of the Western Middle East are far less intolerant and oppressive when ti comes to gender and sex, a point that should be self evident by the above. Here's a girl who knows how to pull of a man-fit better than most guys. Hair-bands and bracelets aside, the combination-suit jacket, cappuccino shirt, matching plaid tie and sports jacket, with simple unmarred jeans, should be a basic look available and achievable to and by most dudes. The rolled up arms, rolled up shirt over the arms, loose hanging tie-knot and brilliant gold/silver mens' watch add the perfect touch fo flare and accessory, that once again could easily be copied by any guy, without the 'danger' of feminizing into the discomfort zone.

Fellas, take note!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Off the top of my head

(Feeling slightly better, not yet recovered, forgive any lapses in sense or style)

While the cold winter's air will drive many a fella to the warm embrace of a toque (or knitted beanie, for my non-Canuckleheaded audience), I've never been partial to them unless the temperature's dipped well below the fashionable limit, and a question of survival arises over style. A head condom, for lack of a better term, is called so for a good reason, and in my most humble of opinions the less we speak of it, the better.

(In fact, the toque is one of the few staples of dude-dom that is better served by a feminine touch; for every guy-gourd shoved unceremoniously in a knit skull-cap, making him look somewhat tick-like in appearance, the falling locks of a lady, blooming out from under or cascading down the shoulders, allows for the kind of visual contrast such a simple hat requires to really succeed as a fashionable item.)

The classic newsboy does have a retro-work-a-day charm, but be careful what outfits you match it with. A suit and tie must be colour checked to fit the generally earthy tones associated with the cap, the obvious exception being the black cap, which while going well with more looks, can be easily confused for the "classic" look of the private driver, and you may find yourself holding a great many doors.

For the man interested in a challenge this winter though, I suggest a pork pie (that is, if you haven't already settled on the always-charming fedora). A look that's suffered its fair share of ridicule over the years due to being characterized as somewhere between frumpy and ill-mannered, the pork pie, and its many variances, is a topper that demands confidence to be worn, but rewards its wearer many times over in individual look and charm. I for one have never seen two such hats worn in the same place, just as I've never seen someone wearing such a cap without a date on their arm.

But what of the more adventurous male? The kind of Trapper John who wears what he catches? The fur hat has typically been a staple of the Northern countries, hovering between real world practicality and PETA-rage inducing fur-lined flare (for the fun of it). While I wouldn't suggest going as far as the coon skin hat, the beaver pelt top, or overly-ridiculous coyote-fur (at a fetching $299), the classic Russian-inspired looks carry a cold determination to persists through the winter months, while looking ready to take in the Bolshoi with a Balkan beauty.

As per my post-sickness malaise, all looks mentioned in this and the previous article can be found at Hats.com, or your local 'chapaud'. Other great sites at a quickie are Mens' Hats, Fur Hat World and the always quality Biltmore Hats of Canada.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pour Le Tet, not offensive

I should be very straight forward about this before we begin.

I hate hats.

I love hats.

As a dude of at least mentionable style (and notable ego) my hair is of great worth and concern to me. Not in the mad sense that if one were to dare touch it or shave it, I would wreak my vengeance upon them. Rather, should I suddenly go bald by the age of 30, like a good friend of mine, there's a good chance that 60 years from now, should we not have to fight the rise of the machines or some equal struggle, I would still consider it my life's great tragedy.

As such, a hat is typically a thing that gets in the way of my be-product'd hair, crushing my coif against my scalp, only to reveal the mess it left behind, rather than a properly protected do. The Ball cap (or the Baller, as one associate once called them) is as prevalent in modern mens' fashion as the blue jean, but has, in my opinion, never risen above its sartorial station, despite some rising to prices rivaling some rather nice jackets. Flat rimmed, off-side, beat-to-shit, it really doesn't matter. These hats were never meant to go with a smart suit, lest that suit were ticked out with otherwise obnoxious glitz.

But, as a resident of the Great White North (albeit the more tropical-at-times portion), I do understand the importance, and sometimes absolute necessity, to pop on a top. What's more, prior to it being made the play-thing of an ornery feline, I preferred to be seen wearing a simple black wool fedora, cock'd at a classic Bogie angle.

So, what's workable to wear for the well-made man? Of course the above noted fedora is a go-to must for any guy with an interest in how they look. Despite a reputation ruined by the decades between now and their heyday, memories of that one awkward geek in high school who always wore one, and the (ever) encroaching world of women's fashion conquering yet another aspect of mens' style, this hairdo-defending high-headed hat persists, available at any respectable mens' store for a very pretty penny, or for the brave and the bold (and cheap) the plethora of women's styles offer a price-conscious cheat, usually offering a flat-black or pinstripe without much of a distracting (or defaming) feminine touch. Sadly, the days of the professionally fitted hat are long gone, unless you've more money than I.

(I'm inclined to stop here for today, as I'm feeling sickly and scattered. Will return with part 2: The Hairy Side of Headwear)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Garish but gold


Today we hop on over to Sneaker Freaker to drool over the kind of ridiculous shoes-for-dudes that you'd sooner frame above a mantle than wear out-and-about.

Behold, Pierre Hardy's POWERAMA, a fantastic homage to to work of famed and acclaimed artist Roy Lichtenstein.

I'm a massive fan of Lichtenstein's work throughout the 60's, and while I am impressed and interested in this shoe-I'd-never-wear (fair comment, most of the site is a bit on the gaudier side then what we usually deal with here, but fine art bre

aks down all walls) I'd gladly pay double (eep!) if they read WHAM! rather than POW!

But at 500 pairs worldwide, and none available in Canada, that's just the semantics of artistic taste.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Better red than dead

Yes, you know what I'm talking about. You may never have owned a pair, much less have found any that fit (my category, right there), but you've certainly seen the twiggier fellas strolling around with crimson legs if you live in, around or near a city with any kind of indie, trendy or hipster scene.

The bright red trousers.

Yes, thanks to the hard work of a fellow blogster, the world can now know the full extent and power of these so-vibrant-they-loop-around-the-masculine-line-and-back-over-again. Look... features offers up dozens of candid and other-such shots of the rouge inspired pants, and their shaded cousins, for the perusing and pondering.

Go check out their near-comprehensive list and see
for yourself the looks highs and (many, many) lows.

...Andy?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

American Dream




This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you wear a suit.

Jay Gatsby, Gilded God

That of course is Leo from the upcoming Great Gatsby adaptation, directed by the always costume and style aware Baz Luhrman. His second to last film, Moulin Rouge, still affects my sartorial choices almost daily, and had of course a massive impact on women's fashion.

I'm excited for the reaction the world of common style could have to this as well. Victorian and Edwardian styles had power and potential, but had by the end of the Great war era been reduced to drabs and dregs for the war effort. The Jeeves and Wooster era costumes, bright, playful, stylish and smart, were a breath of fresh air in the attitudes of Europe and the Americas after a disastrous 4 years and Imperial morality. These clothing were as much an attitude themselves, a rebellion against stuffy Victorianism, just as powerful for men as the flapper dress and bob would prove to be for women. The style typified in the Great Gatsby were the first that could be honestly called 20th century, modern, and have stayed contemporary to one degree or another ever since.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday morning "whaaa?"


There's something to be said about how subjective this work is. Of course, fashion is just another word for trending (or rather, the other way around) and what's trending is typically up to a few clouty (or should I say Klout-y?) individuals who use their expertise in media and marketing to make us pay more attention to this over that.

It's all very elementary, I know.
But sometimes, you need to be reminded that in the end, this is all subjective, and when "the best" comes along, it's 'best' to remember what Penn and Teller had to say; the best, is bullshit.

This week, the magazine that I work for (whose articles are behind a pay wall, so sorry, no linkies) ran a counter-comment to the Boston Globes Best Dressed Bostonians list. Why would we do this, living a few hundred miles away and in another country? Because of a man named Brad Marchand, who would otherwise never be seen in the style pages if not for the Globe's choice of flare.

Brad is a local boy, from a part of the city just down the road called Hammond's Plains. He grew up, made good on the Canadian dream, and now plays hockey for the Bruins down south. Here we call him the Whizzer, due much in part to his habit of getting drunk in public and looking ridiculous in the resulting photos (many of which show him NOT wearing various articles of clothes, far from the best dressed at the party).

Brad, fashion icon

Regardless, someone at the Globe took a good look, and said "yes, that makes sense, put him down for an award, I like his look". Then they filled it out with a few photos in which he's wearing a shirt and seemingly stable.

Just a nice little reminder to never take fashion, or the fashionistas, at face value. Take a look behind the curtain at what's sitting around the floor of the change closet before assuming that we (collectively) know what we're talking about.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's a lazy Friday


So here's a lazy Friday post!

Yes, care of Nerd Boyfriend is this truly epic photo of the legendary mock-rockers Spinal Tap, resplendent in their then-70's chic, now retro charm.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'll take two please, and a sewing kit

"You maniacs! You blew it up!"

*ahem*

Once in a great while, something truly incredible, something stupendous...something utter beyond the previous scope arrives on the fashion scene, and makes you do one of three things: spend every cent in your possession, stare in utter disbelief, or wretch.

The good (questionable) people at Hot Topic have pushed the bar down the street, around the corner, and off a pier into the harbour, with the release (at some point previously) of the One Legged Pant.

Just let that name sink into the squishier parts of your brain before click through to the link. Let your mind try and develop it's own idea of what that could mean Normal pants, missing one leg? Maybe it's not literal, but a comment on how the pants are made, or can sometimes appear? Maybe it's a comment on how much fabric was used, only half that of a normal pair of pants!

No.
They are none of those.
The One Legged Pants, which you will notice actually SOLD OUT at some point, are in fact a clever ruse, a cunning disguise meant to trick the male mind into, *gasp*, crossdressing!

Yes, it's a skirt. A maxi skirt, to be precise, like the kind girls used to wear in the 90's, except with some zippers and belts, to dude it up (apparently). In my humble opinion, that's like spitting in the desert; a skirt is a skirt, no matter how you attempt to masculinize it, because that's the history and culture we're stuck with. If a guy wants to wear one, there's nothing wrong with that, but I have issue with Hot Topic's apparent sly attempt at re-branding the garment in such a ridiculous fashion to sell more product.

It's almost as if the designers at HT are TRYING to get awkward high school kids beaten up and laughed at, if not for wearing a skirt (with buckles!), then for trying to explain to their bully/teachers/parents/other general public that it is in fact JUST a pair of one legged pants, and that you should stop picking on them.

What's you game, Hot Topic?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shill for the big boys

As a dude in the fashion world, it is a general rule that anything that makes my job, that is helping other fellas look stylish (a Herculean task in these trying times of Jersey Shore), any easier is my friend, comrade and quite possibly lover.

The Collection by the New York Times is the first two. TC is the newest fashion and style app released by the Times to showcase the latest in vogue trends and wearable whatsits.

Yes, it suffers from the same male-deficiency as most such guides, focusing almost entirely on the ladies, but what's new there? The men-centric content they do deliver is well worth wading through the womanesq, and I for one have high hopes for the future of this portable potent.

(be ware, the link opens to Apple's iTunes store)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fukashima Do'

My hair reached critical mass some point last night while I was sleeping. That is to say, not that my brain had a melt down, or my scalp became radio active. Rather, the length and volume of my hair reached that magical point where rather than looking robust and clean, or long and healthy, the two have combined to create a powerful force for chaos and mismanagement. Even with the aid of heavy products, creams and pastes thicker than any peanut butter devised by George Washington Carver in his wildest nightmare, my do' has become a wild hive of asymmetry, jutting out in random directions, as if drawn by a drunk Japanese animator.

So the question I must now ask myself; cut back this uncontrollable mess and bring us right back to square one, closely cropped and finely tuned, near-aerodynamic coif? Or power through, damn the consequences, and dare to look a little ramshackle a few weeks until the weight of the locks overpowers the sheer density, and we settle into the era of long, luxurious hippie hair (except cleaner, and not a drop of tie-dye in sight).

Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

H&M Update: Lazy, lazy journalists

The local "respectable" print journal ran an article today announcing the new line from H&M I talked about yesterday. The piece, plucked from the AP wire, extols the virtues of Madame Versace's designs, and hints at how this couture would help us typically dull Canadians spruce up our look and lives (okay, so a bit of reading into it). Not mentioned, either in the article, the paper's website, or as a editor's note anywhere, is that our local H&M (as in, where those reading this paper would assume they could purchase these products) would not be carrying the line, set to be released November 19th.

Since yesterday, I've attempted to contact the H&M regional office for comment, but haven't been able to get anywhere. But at least, unlike the CH, I tried.

Further updates soon.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

H&M trods on the East Coast

I'll be the first to admit that, on occasion, living on the (nearly) very Eastern coast of Canada can be problematic. Most of the best contemporary bands and musicians, aside form the home grown, avoid the place like the plaque, and any performers who do wander along tend not to mention their upcoming Halifax stops, for fear possibly that it will contaminate the rest of their tour (I'm looking at you Kevin Smith).

Essentially, if something doesn't arrive here either late or damaged, then it's not going to show up at all.

When pseudo-haute store H&M opened their doors in Halifax a few years ago, the fashion savvy in the city went a wee bit gaga. I know I did. "Holy shit, now I can look like people from Toronto! Finally, my feelings of inadequacy, vanishing thanks to this cheap pair of slave-laboured jeans!"

That scarf I told you about last time? It's from H&M, as well as two of my three favorite jackets. But just what kind of quality are we really talking about here? Was that scarf overly-long because it was designed that way? Or is it a defect? Unsellable in other markets, tossed East in the knowledge that we're all a bit starved for the styles we see on the moving picture box, beamed from Central Canada nightly.

Today the store announced over twitter that their new line would be released in the coming weeks, arriving at stores across Canada on the 19th... unless you live in Halifax, that is.

Don't worry H&M, we're getting used to being ignored.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Falling down around my butt

So it's a bit crisper outside today than the last time I posted, which if I recall was a gorgeous, warm spring day. Not that it's not wonderful out, but the nip of winter is feeling its way through the air, getting ready to settle in for the long dark months. And if you're anything like me, you're the foolish sort who will wait until the very last minute to bundle up for the weather, instead making excuses and taking short cuts to avoid the be-parka-ing.

My favorite short cut of course is the scarf. If, as we supposed above, you're anything like me, then the first thing that turns to ice will be your neck, and once it's gone the frosted way, the rest of the body will follow, regardless of how many layers I may or may not have on. A good scarf will always swoop in and save the day, and your internal temperature, a low cost and low maintenance accessory for man or woman.

There are however, as I discovered this year, potential hitches. What I thought was an elegantly simple pattern thin weave, the kind of something you could casually drape around your neck yet diligently provide comfort and warmth, turned out to be Whovian in length.

Just how do you wear a scarf long enough to simultaneously stumble over and hang yourself with? Simply wrapping it around your neck and shoulders until you've run out of scarf makes for a brilliant brace, but makes mobility above the shoulder blade almost impossible. Wrap it around only once, and it billows behind you like a cape, waving in the wind after you.

Not that I'm against capes, and it's a look that definitely has it's time and place.

I finally settled on a compromise, twice around the neck and shoulders, then draped down the front. Sure, it's a bit awkward even at this length, taking on the look of a prayer shawl hanging beneath you coat, but it carries the best of both worlds when the wind hits you, covering and protecting the neck, while flapping wildly in the wind.

All the same, next year I think I'll take a bit more time in picking out the perfect scarf.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brandish

As usual, I've left the gushing over gooey gowns to others for this Oscar season, as my inner, deeply entrenched film nerd takes over every late February, taking advantage of the weakened state of style in minus 20 degree weather, and everything covered in ice. Nevertheless, and possibly due to global warming, my fashion sense thawed at the appearance of a certain English funny man on the Red Carpet.

But Damn! That is a fine suit!

Comedian Russell Brand, accompanied by his mother, revolted against the Penguin Look for something a little cheekier. While other fashion critics may be calling it a step over the line, Brand's distinctly Brit sensibilities are a refreshing injection of modernity to a famously conservative-in-manner show.

Honorable mention to the always dapper Christopher Nolan's standard Fellini two piece and tie... but then again, he's always dressed that classy.
Source IronMuffin

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mugler's Ride

Fashion is and likely will always be slightly schizophrenic. While the designers, press and viewing public clamor endlessly for the NEXT BIG THING, pushing outfit after outfit onto the catwalk season after season in an attempt to impress, wow and shock their way into the hearts of fashionistas the world over, they typically are also the first to reaffirm what worked before. Few seem able to strike the right balance, either tipping over the side and plummeting into the Westwoods, where refuse and table wear are acceptable accessories, or barely leaving their production couch while half heartily pumping out a line that would be more at home in the aisles of Eddie Bauer than the walks of Milan, London or Paris.

This Mugler Spring Line is of course one that many have been keeping an eye on. Released a month ago, it was the first presentation by new Mugler head honcho Nicola Formichetti, a man who could be said to have been the puppet master behind the last three years in fashion, working with Vogue, Dazed and Confused, and as a collaborator with the ever vivid Lady Gaga.

He did not disappoint.

Blending classic men's suits with a science-fiction-if-not-video-gaming splash, Nicola has put together a collection that screams future-modernism, and oddly may be the most accessible collection out there.

It can be split into three camps:

The first is the Wearable. These are the pants, jackets, tops and boots that have and will become apart of the new wardrobe for stylish lads everywhere.


I come for the puttee, but stay for the trench coat

A fine sweater indeed

Second are the odd but "salvageable" Not to say that they need to be salvaged, but in these outfits lay some choice articles of clothing. But the third is the realm of video games and Hollywood sci-fi, a flowing landscape of shiny plastics and end-bosses.

Retro futurism, horror spectacle, that dude from The Cell who tormented Jennifer Lopez, cellophane zombies and what I can only describe as Cat Walk Vader. This show was all over the place, launching itself full force into bizarre genre after genre. Yet despite this, it is stunning to watch for it's bold geekiness (intended or not).

Source Style.com