In the months since I purchased it online from Bonobos, the Penfield Rochester jacket has cemented itself as a staple in my wardrobe—and has been, without doubt, my most worn piece since purchase. The Hudson, Mass-based outdoors outfitter, founded in 1975, is known most for making quality outerwear and rain gear that can stand the year-round tests of New England weather, and this piece, my first from Penfield, is no exception.
The fit is modern, slim (but not overly so), with noticeably high armholes and cut very trim through the arm. As a man normally shuffling between M and L, I was worried that the medium would be too small, as there was definitely some pulling across the shoulders and tightness on my upper arm at first… However, I haven’t even noticed those issues recently—though I’m not sure if that’s due to my continued weight loss or the jacket forming better to my body over time. That said, it runs true to size: no need to size up as with a lot of other fashionable brands. But, be wary if you’ve got especially broad shoulders or jacked biceps, because you will have some fit issues.
The details are all right. White contrasting cinches, buttons, and zipper tape all help to set off the vivid color of the jacket itself. The removable hood is a welcome detail, as I love to take it off on sunny days and rock the Rochester as a light spring jacket rather than a raincoat.
It does the job at keeping rain away, too—I haven’t noticed any gaps or problem areas. Made from two layers of DWR water resistant polyester, with mesh lining, the jacket is meant to be both water-resistant and highly breathable. It manages to do both while staying lightweight and durable. My previous raincoat was a Land’s End Canvas jacket that, for some reason, allowed water to seep in around the armholes. This Penfield has no such problems, with an extended collar and drawstrings at the waist and hood to help keep moisture away in extreme conditions.
I would say the only drawback is the lack of internal pockets. One or two there would make it just slightly more functional, and it is a shortcoming that I’ve noticed once or twice—but nothing that would keep me from recommending this jacket. Additionally, I’ve noticed some loose strings here and there, but, again, nothing to write home about, as I haven’t had any issues with buttons falling off or any other construction pitfalls.
Functionally, then, I would score it a 9/10. Stylistically, it performs as admirably (if not moreso).. I’ve always loved brightly colored rain gear, as a way to illuminate days that are otherwise gray and drab—canary yellows, Kelly and lime greens, and bright oranges are my preferred choice for outerwear. Available in green, yellow, navy, and royal blue, as well as some new color-blocked versions, the Rochester will satisfy any style.
I highly recommend the Penfield Rochester to anyone looking for a new rain jacket, and I do plan on investing in some of the brand’s other apparel—that’s how happy I am with this purchase. It is not often you come across a piece as functional as it is stylish, all while remaining relatively affordable. With a retail price of $125, it is certainly not cheap, but a very reasonable price for the quality as I envision this jacket lasting me years given the minimal problems I’ve had so far and Penfield’s reputation for quality.
To purchase one yourself, go to here or here for the color block.
Brunello, Meet Michael: When Italian Menswear Meets Streetwear
Recently, I’ve been spending more of my time on MFA and a thread about personal style got me thinking about how I would define my style now. After all, this blog has been all about how my personal style has evolved and what I’ve learned from other outlets.
I’ve thought more and more (especially because of the discussions here of MFA clones) about what personal style is and what mine is. I started getting into style with Jordans and Nikes early on in high school and it just naturally progressed to higher quality, more tailored clothing. Though I do dress casually put-together (chinos and button-downs are my not-quite uniform) as I’m a Midwestern college student, the style I shoot for—and, start to employ more and more—is essentially “Old Italian dude with a streetwear attitude.”
That just happened naturally. The guys I look up to most in street style and elsewhere are Italian men with their slim fits and casual tailoring. Same reason why my favorite brands are Brunello Cucinelli, Isaia, and LBM 1911. It’s the cut and the fabrics and the way it’s all pulled together with this sense of incredible comfort and style at the same time.
But, on the other hand, I got into fashion/style originally through streetwear, and though I rarely actually wear full-on streetwear fits, I like to inject a little bit of the attitude into everything I wear.
At the same time, I also draw influences from lots of other arenas: Americana hunting/outdoors gear is probably the third most important in my personal style, but trad/prep (I did go to a NE boarding school) and just about everything else catch my eye from time to time.
Since I started blogging and reading fashion blogs, it’s always been about me cultivating my own style—and trying not to mimic other people’s. That doesn’t mean Clarks DBs, dark wash denim, and OCBDs aren’t at the core of my wardrobe, I just like to have my own style that I aim for.
What I find most inspiring about the style of “old Italian men” is how they blend refined tailoring and casual comfort into looks that are both put-together and completely natural looking. Italians do especially well in mixing bold colors and patterns—especially non-navy blues. For a lesson on pattern mixing or aggressive (but not silly) color combinations, there’s no place better to look.
Streetwear, on the other hand, is what I grew up with. It’s what I hear in my headphones as I listen to Jay-Z, Pusha T, and (especially) A$AP Rocky. Blending them is a challenge, because, in many ways, they are on opposite ends of the style spectrum. For me, it’s not necessarily about borrowing items from either style and mashing them together so much as it is me gathering influences from all over. I could wear an outfit entirely made up of items that would be considered Streetwear, and still take color and pattern influences from the old Italian gents I so admire.
I am becoming more adventurous and taking more risks with clothing purchases these days, as I feel my collection of basics is well rounded and mostly complete. No doubt, my normal outfits fail to mirror the styles I admire so much. As a 20-year-old broke college student, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe in a year’s time, my closet will match my aspirations a little better. Or maybe those stylistic aspirations will be completely different. Only time will tell. For now, I’m happy mixing ideas borrowed from the likes of Lapo Elkann, Gianni Agnelli, and the Brunello Cucinelli lookbook with Michael Jordan, the aforementioned A$AP Rocky, and the guys I see on MFA.
I’m about to leave for my first Fashion Week. Follow me on Instagram @maisondeveriteJB for current photos. I’ll post a follow-up when I get back home next week. Hopefully it’s a terrific time in the world’s fashion capital.
Fit is the number one most important factor in men’s style. That cannot be stressed enough. The difference between an $89 blazer from H&M and a $1200 Armani coat is minimal when they’re both well tailored.
That is why going custom—especially at prices offered by modern bespoke tailors both on- and offline—is so popular today. We at Arden Reed believe that fit and good tailoring are the foundations of the stylish man.
Sometimes we convince ourselves to buy that new shirt, even when we know it doesn’t fit.
It’ll just end up hanging in your closet. (Confession time: I’m often guilty of this)
Remember that you can get any article tailored, but certain aspects are especially difficult, like the shoulder and chest of suit jackets and blazers.
What, then, are the markers of proper fit? What should you look for when finding a garment? Feeling stylish and having confidence in what you are wearing is no doubt important, but so is being comfortable.
Starting with trousers, pants should wear at your natural waist (or as close to it as possible) and have enough room for comfortable movement. Just how slim they are is a matter of personal preference, but never go skinny.
Break is another area where personal taste comes into account.
I like a little break so there is no pooling and a clean straight line all the way down my leg, but not so short that my ankle is showing.
For men who want cuffs on their trousers (and you should ALWAYS cuff heavy, winter weight trousers) go with 1.5 to 2 inches.
When it comes to your suit jacket or blazer, remember to check the shoulders and chest first. Without a proper fit there, there’s nothing you can do to remedy the garment. When you stand with the jacket buttoned, the lapels ought to rest flat without any fabric pulling at the chest or abdomen.
Italian men prefer slightly tighter suits that have a slight pull around the top button, but this is a matter of finding out what’s right for you.
Your shirt cuffs should protrude about ¼ to ¾” from the jacket sleeves and the collar should extend a similar amount above the jacket’s lapel.
Shirt tails ought to hit at least half-way down your trouser fly but not below the crotch for a comfortable and elegant tuck.
Suits that are tapered with high armholes are ideal for capturing the slim, modern look while maximizing comfort and range of motion.
These are the basic elements of a proper fit.
The modern man looks best with trim, fitted clothes that remain comfortable and don’t restrict his movement. In a suit or shirt tailored to those ideals, you’ll be confident, comfortable, and attractive—perhaps the three essential cornerstones of style.
You’ve already learned a little bit about sport jackets and blazers, as well as some basics on pairing them with pants and other articles of clothing. For a refresher, please take another look at part 1 of our series, “Everything You Need to Know About Sport Jackets” here.
Of course, it wasn’t quite everything, so we’re filling in the blanks now.
Today, despite a major resurgence in men’s fashion and an obvious increase in style-conscious men, fewer and fewer guys are donning suits—even to work.
In a business casual office, a blazer or sport coat makes you look dignified and put-together while fitting in with the dress code and your co-workers.
Maintaining a professional, trustworthy look is just as easy with a sport coat as with a suit. From the classroom to the construction site, the sport coat is a better alternative for many men when suits might be too formal.
It’s equally as good at helping you make a good first impression or ensuring you look almost as good as the lady on your arm.
With just a quintessential navy blazer, you can construct dozens of outfits for any type of occasion. Add to the mix some other sport coats—perhaps a light gray all-season, a checked Harris Tweed for winter, and a fun burgundy for special engagements—and you’ll be able to pull off dozens of classic looks.
Paired with jeans or wool trousers, a dress shirt or a sweater, sneakers or leather-soled monk straps, the sport coat looks at home.
You can wear a sport coat over a t-shirt (not recommended), a regular work outfit, or a layered fall look. It is one of the most versatile items in your wardrobe.
From the refined to the rustic, the sport coat does it all. And it does it with an air of casualness and comfort that other garments can’t match, all the while ensuring you remain the most stylish man in the room.
We already went over the various suiting fabrics here, but what about shirts?
Shirt fabrics (called shirtings by tailors) aren’t quite as diverse but there is still a range of different options. Cotton is the fabric when it comes to shirts, but there are a many different methods of weaving it.
Oxford cloth is the ultimate for Americana and casual button-downs. It is soft and comfortable, and wears in very well. Normally, only the threads in one direction are dyed, while the other direction are left white.
This gives the fabric its textured appearance and unique sheen. Pinpoint and Royal oxfords are woven the same way, but are made of finer yarn and thus, are more formal.
Poplin is smoother than oxford shirtings, but it is a similar weight. It is also soft and most often used in casual shirts. Bright colors and sporty patterns translate best onto poplin shirts.
Cotton twill is a diagonal weave with a distinct shimmer. Twill shirts are formal, but more richly textured than broadcloth or piqué shirts.
Herringbone twill is essentially the same as cotton twill, but woven in the infamous herringbone pattern, so that the diagonals switch back and forth regularly, for an even more textured shirt. Herringbone shirts are among my favorite formal shirts—bringing a little attitude to solid colored shirts.
Broadcloth is woven of extremely fine yarns so tightly that the fabric shines. It is amongst the most formal shirt fabrics.
End-on-end broadcloth is made by interweaving threads of alternating colors—essentially a more formal version of the coarse oxford fabric—to create a subtle texture that appears solid from most distances.
The most formal shirts are made of solid white piqué cotton with a rich, woven texture. Shirts woven in this way are usually tuxedo shirts, appropriate for black tie and white tie.
Other shirts are made in polyester blends, which are inexpensive but do not look as rich or feel as smooth as 100% cotton fabrics of any variety.
Scientists have proven that there are exactly 85 different ways to tie a tie. Of these, 13 are classified as aesthetic knots with a further 3 common variants. These specific knots were chosen based on their shape, symmetry, and balance.
They include the four-in-hand, half-Windsor, Windsor, and small knot, in addition to lesser known knots like the Nicky, Victoria, St. Andrew, Grantchester and Balthus.
Of course, no one knows all 85 (or even all 13 aesthetic knots) and truthfully, I think scientists would be better served spending their time working on curing cancer than counting tie knots.
You can absolutely get by knowing just one tie knot. For versatility, it’s good to know three, or maybe four, but anything more is overkill.
It is just another instance where quantity is trumped by quality. If you can tie a killer four-in-hand or half-Windsor, that is much more important than knowing each variant.
I’ll briefly introduce you to how to tie each of the most basic knots… But remember: practice makes perfect. A more complete guide can be found athttp://www.tie-a-tie.net/.
The four-in-hand is the most common knot. It is narrow and discreet but slightly asymmetrical.
Start with the wide end of the necktie extending about a foot below the long end, cross the wide end over the narrow end, bring it over underneath the narrow end. Continue, bringing the wide end back over in front of the narrow end.
Now pull it up and through the loop, hold the front of the knot loosely with your index finger and pull the wide end down through the front, ensuring that the tip hits at your beltline.
Remove your finger and tighten the knot carefully, creating a dimple where the blade comes out below the knot.
The half-Windsor is symmetrical and triangular, but not as large and dominating as its big brother, the Windsor.
Begin the same way as the four-in-hand until the step where you bring the tie across the front of the narrow end. Instead, bring it up and pull the wide end through the loop and to the right.
Now, bring it around front and again up and through the loop, this time from the left. Finally, bring the wide end down through the knot in front, and tighten and draw the collar.
The Windsor is a large, bulky, highly symmetrical knot that can dominate an outfit. It is popular on Wall Street and Fox News, but is the least versatile option of any here. Though it is popular in America, I do not recommend it.
To tie a Windsor, bring the wide end of the tie up through the loop as soon as you cross it over the narrow end. Bring it back down in front of the knot, and pull it underneath the narrow end and to the right. Next, pull it back through the loop and to the right again so that the wide end is inside out.
Bring the wide end across from right to left, pull it though the loop vertically yet again and then tighten and draw the knot up to the collar. It is recommended to use extra long ties for this knot, because of the amount of fabric used in the knot.
The least popular of any of these options, the Pratt—or Shelby—knot is more symmetrical than a four-in-hand and about the same size as a half-windsor, maybe a little wider. It is a good alternative to either of the Windsor options.
Start, yet again, with the wide end of the blade hanging about a foot longer than the narrow end. Cross the wide under and then loop it over and through the narrow end. Pull the loop down and tighten.
Then, take the wide end over to the right, and pull it up, behind the knot, so that you can bring the blade through the knot and tighten.
This basic guide to tying ties will get you started. If you don’t know a knot yet, grab a tie and find a mirror. If you only know one, it’s time to add another to your arsenal. Good night and good luck, as they say!
A great outfit can be ruined instantly if your shirt or suit is badly wrinkled.
Aside from buying new wrinkle-free shirts, there are a number of stylish ways to keep your clothes smooth and without wrinkles.
The solution is not constantly ironing—everybody’s least favorite chore can be avoided by following some simple steps.
First, hang your clothes properly. This means they shouldn’t be thrown over your desk chair or on the floor at the foot of your bed but hung in the closet.
Make sure they also have a little room to breathe, an inch preferably, between each article (especially for cotton dress shirts) and hang more important items, like your go-to business suit and your tuxedo on sturdy, wooden hangers.
Take your clothes out of the dryer as quickly as possible. The longer they sit, the more time the clothes have to develop wrinkles. Hanging them (or folding for things like sweaters) will prevent that issue.
Now you’re ready to try to minimize wrinkles in your wardrobe. But the truth is, you’ll never completely eliminate wrinkles, so what can you do to get rid of them once they do appear?
Hang your items in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. This is, effectively, a steam press for your garments, so once it is hot and moist in there, stretch out the items a bit and bid adieu to wrinkles.
Alternatively, use a wrinkle-free spray and iron out the wrinkles with your hand.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid wrinkles is to take your clothes to the dry cleaner and let them handle it. It can get pricey, but it is the surefire method to kill those pesky wrinkles.
The pocket square is the accessory of choice for stylish men the world over.
Whether it’s an evening on the town in jeans and a blazer or a black-tie evening engagement, a pocket square adds an undeniable dash of flair.
I’m a strong believer that there is only one fold you truly need to know—the TV (or straight) fold. A straight line of color or pattern jetting out of the chest draws eyes to that area and lengthens it, making the wearer appear broader in the chest and thinner below it.
For this fold, simply fold the handkerchief in half twice, so it is a quarter of its original size, then fold it into thirds horizontally such that it will fit inside your chest pocket.
If not going with the classic straight fold, there is one other way I sometimes wear a hanky—though this is only when I’m going for a significant dash of pomp. The puff fold is dandier than the straight fold but it may be even simpler to arrange.
Simple lay the square flat, pinch and gather in the center and then stuff it into your pocket with the pinched area sticking out. Fiddle around to get the right “puff” and voilà, you’re ready to hit the streets.
Of course, there are other options and, though they may not be my personal preference, I am not the end-all be-all of men’s style. The one-corner, two-corner and three-corner folds are all viable options.
The one-corner or triangle fold is exactly what it sounds like. A small triangle peeks out from the chest pocket, folded by laying the square flat, bringing the bottom corner to the top point, opposite it, creating a large triangle.
Next, fold in the left and right sides, and then the bottom, so there is a multi-folded square in the center with a single layer of triangular fabric above it. Place it in your suit and adjust until you get the desired point.
For any of the more complicated folds, Google and YouTube are your best friends… though these styles are really superfluous once you know the first three.
Learning how to fold a pocket square is just like learning to tie a tie. It’s easy to master and impossible to forget.
The benefit is that you will never have to wear your suit naked again. Matching your suit or blazer with a handsome pocket square kicks up the style level a couple notches, but is subtle enough not to stand out. Only those with a discerning eye for style will notice.
Another article focusing on matching and proportions? You guessed it! When it comes to your face, these things are just as important in finding the right pair of sunglasses as they are when matching tie knots to shirt collars.
Knowing the proper sunglass shape for your face is an easy and effective style upgrade—one that every man should know.
Let’s start with aviators, the most classic sunglass frame. The signature tear-drop shape of aviators are best on men with angular, square faces. They soften the jawline and forehead, while shortening long faces by adding width and dimension.
You can never go wrong with Ray Ban—especially for aviators. They have a number of color options (both lens and frame) to suit your liking, as well as polarized versions for maximum protection.
Though round and oval faces can pull off most styles, they look best in rounded frames. Explorer-style sunglasses, with brow bars, also help to thin out the face and add an extra style dimension.
Super nails the explorer look, and though they’re quite pricey, they are some of the best and most stylish sunglasses around.
Diamond-shaped and oblong faces look great in square sunglasses, like the classic Wayfarer shape. They shorten the face, as long as the frame does not extend beyond the cheekbone. For men with round faces, this is another option as an alternative to more traditional rounded frames.
Lastly, men with triangular faces (large forehead and pointed chin) look best in any frames that are wider at the top than the bottom.
This mirroring of the face uses proportions to balance the narrow jaw line. Any frames, including Wayfarers, that are wider at the top minimize forehead width and draw the eye up.
For these (or any style, really), check out Persol, who have a wide variety of styles, including their famous keyhole bridge shades that look great for any occasion.
But none of this matters if you lose your sunglasses. While graduating from plastic wayfarers to Persols or Supers is certainly a positive accomplishment, try to remember to grab them on the way out of the cab (I’ve lost a pair of sport Oakleys and Ray Ban Clubmasters this way).
If you do manage to keep ahold of them, sunglasses that properly fit your face will improve your look instantly.
The debate of whether to tuck or untuck shirts—especially when it comes to pairing button-downs and jeans—is as contentious as arguing which way the toilet paper should hang.
There are a couple rules you should know and some other guidelines to keep in mind when considering what sort of a look you are going for.
At its most basic, the more formal the elements of your outfit, the more often you should tuck your shirt in.
Wool trousers and a solid blue, spread collar button down? You know what to do.
Chinos and a small gingham? Either way. Light-wash jeans and a summer madras? Let it hang.
And, if you’re wearing a blazer then tuck it in! Simple as that.
The shirt itself, as well as your body type can push you in the right direction. Thin, taller men should usually tuck in, as an untucked shirt only elongates your body more.
Sharply curved, long shirt tails (usually on formal button-downs) indicate the shirt is meant for tucking in, while shorter, flatter tails are more appropriate for wearing untucked.
If the front of your shirt hangs at or below the bottom of your fly, you must tuck.
Likewise, your age can influence which style to wear. Younger men tend to look better in the more casual, untucked style while older men look best with a tuck.
The fit of the shirt is another indicator. Slimmer, European cut shirts look great either way, but are more suited for wearing untucked than their boxier, American counterparts.
With jeans, you can follow these guidelines and effectively style an outfit with an untucked or tucked shirt, so long as they aren’t low-rise (which demand untucked).
Another conundrum is what to do when wearing shorts. I have wrestled with this question myself.
Untucked shirts can eat up half a pair of shorts, while tucked seems oddly formal and makes me feel like a Cape Cod lacrosse dad. It’s a tough line to toe, but shorter button-downs—that hang just an inch or two below the waist of the shorts—look best.
There’s an old adage in the menswear community that you can look like a million bucks in a $100 suit, and you can look like $10 in a $1000 suit. The secret is in the tailoring.
How do you find a tailor and what will you have to pay to turn that suit into the immaculately fitting garment you crave?
There are a couple ways to find your perfect tailor. But remember, your clothes won’t be perfect the first time. Continue coming back only if you think this tailor is a person you could develop a relationship with.
If you are in a small town and the city’s far away, you likely won’t have many options, so ask for personal recommendations from your friends or at the dry cleaners.
Some dry cleaners have in-house seamstresses who are perfectly capable of simple fixes and hems, but you won’t want to go there to alter a suit. They might, however, have a tailor they work with and can recommend.
Other possibilities include checking on Yelp, and making a visit to your local department store, where the men’s department likely has an in-house tailor.
The easiest alterations are the sleeve and pant lengths, adding or removing cuffs, and slimming the arms, body, seat and legs of the suit.
Each of these alterations should cost about $15-30.
However, alterations to the shoulders are extremely difficult, and thus expensive. Try to buy jackets that fit in the shoulders to avoid the troubles of altering that part of the jacket.
Likewise, sleeves with working buttonholes (also known as surgeon’s cuffs) are harder to alter, but should still be workable.
Though some of these alterations are pricier, it is always worth it to have a well-tailored suit so you can look like a million bucks.
A well-curated accessory stands out and announces to the world the stylish man you are.
There’s been an explosion of growth in menswear accessories lately. New brands like Miansai and Giles & Brother are popping up to supply men with the proper digs.
Watches, tie bars, and simple bracelets are the easiest “mewelry” to pull off—that’s a good place to start.
Thetiebar.com has a huge selection of, you guessed it, tie bars (along with ties and pocket squares).
There are a couple easy rules for tie bars. Make sure the clip is equal in length or shorter than your tie, but never wider. It should sit near your sternum between the 3rd and 4th buttonholes.
Ensure that the clip is actually fastened to your shirt since tie bars are more than just a fashion statement, but actually help to shape your tie and keep it close to the body. And remember: Don’t go overboard, there’s no reason to wear one with a sweater or vest.
A sophisticated, classic timepiece is the number one must-have accessory for any man. And while you can’t go wrong with a Rolex, Patek Phillippe, or Omega, plenty of stylish men are opting for cheaper, subdued watches like the Timex below with a design as simple as the movement itself.
Simple, masculine bracelets add an exclamation point of individuality to put-together outfits no matter how formal or casual.
A simple colored cord bracelet really sets off the drabness of a simple charcoal or navy suit, while more rugged leather and metal wristwear can go with pretty much anything.
Don’t be afraid to mix styles. Rugged can go with refined, and rope camp bracelets can cozy up next to a Breitling in the right scenario—though that’s probably not your next board meeting.
One more way to accessorize some attitude into your outfit is with an irreverent cufflink. There is an endless variety of options, but they are especially cool when they have a meaning or a story behind them.
I have plain silver cufflinks, school crest cufflinks, silk knots, and, finally, a pair of red plastic penguins with a gold-plated link that were gifted to me at my brother’s wedding reception. It’s a little symbol of the hotel we stayed at, which is decorated with larger than life red penguin statues throughout the building.
Sports jackets and blazers aren’t interchangeable. So what is the difference?
It’s simple. The term blazer refers only to a solid (usually navy) jacket worn without matching trousers, and sports jackets (or sports coats) are a larger category of any tailored jacket without matching pants.