5 Reasonably Priced Essentials – March 2014

Everyone and their dog has a list of their top five essential wardrobe pieces, and after I finished hanging my head in sadness at GQ Australia’s list for the week, I thought I would put together my own list every month until I get bored with it. Unlike GQ, you will never find anything with a camouflage pattern on one of my lists (unless it’s a list of things to avoid) and everything on my lists is guaranteed to never go out of style, because unlike the trendy items on GQ, style lasts forever. The items won’t be in any particular order, and, after this one, will usually be things that have caught my eye during the month.

No.5 – The Dress Shirt

Absolutely no wardrobe is complete without a plain white dress shirt, and my reasonably priced pick of the month is this one by Charles Tyrwhitt.

White Pinpoint Slim Fit Shirt – $59

CTShirt White

This is the perfect essential white dress shirt; it’s medium weight, so it will be perfect year round, and if you prefer not to have french cuffs, it also comes with plain button cuffs. It’s 100% cotton, and like all Tyrwhitt shirts, comes with brass collar stays; not the flimsy plastic ones like so many other brands. At $59 it is very reasonably priced, but even more so when you buy it as part of a 4 for $199 deal.

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No.4 – The Watch

I absolutely love the design of the Rolex Submariner, but I don’t have $10,000+ just lying around, so I have to go for the next best thing; in this case, the next best affordable thing is the Invicta Pro Diver range, specifically the 9204.

Invicta Men’s 9204 Pro Diver – $61.50

Invicta 9204

This absolutely gorgeous watch retails anywhere from $100 – $200, but can be found on Amazon for about  $54USD. It’s incredibly stylish, and is water resistant up to 200m, so you can wear it straight from your morning swim, right into the office, and out for drinks after work. For the price, it’s a watch that I definitely wouldn’t pass up, and will be adding to my personal collection in the near future. If you prefer mechanical watches over quartz, it’s automatic big brother, model 9094, costs about $85USD, still a very reasonable price for the piece. Between the two, I prefer the mechanical one, but to each his own.

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No.3 – The Jeans

Another wardrobe staple is a good pair of indigo jeans; dark enough that they can be dressed up with a shirt and blazer, but casual enough for a polo or t-shirt. My pick for the month are by Adamsville, a Target brand.

Dark Indigo Adamsville Straight Leg Jeans – $20

adamsville

These aren’t the best jeans in the world, but for $20 the quality is pretty good. They are very comfortable, and if you wash them properly then they aren’t likely to fade too quickly; it helps that I bought 4 pair and rotate through them. A perfect casual pair of jeans with a low enough price tag that you won’t feel bad about being a bit rough in them.

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No.2 – The Tie

I think that a black knit tie is an important part of a wardrobe, but if there was one tie that I couldn’t live without, it would be my solid navy tie. It doesn’t give off the same funeral vibe as a black tie, and it goes with virtually everything; my reasonably priced pick for this month is a solid navy by The Tie Bar.

Solid Midnight Navy Tie – $15

Navy Tie Bar

Check out my review of The Tie Bar here if you haven’t already, but the gist of it is that they make decent quality ties, all for just $15. At that price, this slightly textured silk navy tie is a steal; one that I highly recommend be a part of your wardrobe.

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No.1 – The Suit

Absolutely no working man’s wardrobe is complete without a suit; in this case, my recommendation is a made-to-measure suit by Black Lapel

Solid Charcoal Suit by Black Lapel – $450

Black Lapel Charcoal

For a made-to-measure suit, $450 is an excellent price, and you’d be hard pressed to find a negative review for Black Lapel. Not only will you get a better fitting suit for less than most off the peg suits, you get an incredibly versatile wardrobe piece. Not only can you wear it as a suit, you can pair the jacket with the jeans (with or without the tie) for a dressed up going out outfit, and you can pair the trousers with the dress shirt for your business casual attire.

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The total price for these essential, and permanently stylish pieces? $605.50. The price for the frankly ridiculously unstylish or overpriced items GQ suggests? $6311. I know, I’m comparing apples and oranges, but go check out the GQ list and decide for yourself what you think is worth the money.

Let me know in the comments which items you agree and disagree with, and if you have any suggestions for products to check out, let me know.

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Functioning Jacket Cuff Buttons

What Are They?

Simply put, functioning jacket cuff buttons (also known a Surgeons Cuff) work as their name suggests; they are real buttons that can be opened and closed.

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Non-Functioning buttons, on the other hand, are purely decorative; the buttons and the buttonhole are sewn on to the outer part of the cuff, and no holes are actually cut.

24 Jacket Sleeve Buttons

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Are they worth it?

If the jacket is being made for you (either just made-to-measure of full bespoke), then the answer is a definate ‘yes’. A custom made suit without working buttons isn’t worth the price you pay for it.

If the suit is off the peg, then the answer depends on how well the jacket fits you. The cuff can only be taken up by, at most, 1/2″ (depending on the distance from the bottom button and the end of the cuff); any more than that and the sleeve has to be taken up at the shoulder, which is a difficult and expensive procedure. If you are one of the lucky few who can find a jacket that fits perfectly off the peg, then go for working buttons; otherwise, don’t risk it. The good news is that any half decent tailor can add functioning buttons to a jacket, for relatively low cost ($5+ for each button).

Why do you need functioning buttons?

In a practical sense, functional buttons allow you to roll up your sleeves when you are working, for instance, if you need to perform emergency surgery (hence the name Surgeons Cuff); or when you just want to feel a cool breeze on your arms.

From an aesthetic perspective, functioning buttons are, theoretically, a sign of a higher quality suit; to this end, the bottom button is usually left undone, to show that it can be undone; most suit makers will give you the option to have the stitching on this buttonhole be done in a colour that contrasts with the suit, to help draw attention to it. I only recommend this for casual jackets, and even then, try and make it subtle.

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Contrasting stitching on a casual blazer

A Guide to Suit Jacket Shoulders

A quick guide to the types of shoulder construction. These are the basic three, but keep in mind that a jacket can be one of these, or a combination of them.

The Natural Shoulder (American)

What It Is

The natural shoulder, as the name suggests, follows the body’s natural curves; it is a relatively unstructured shoulder, with little to no padding.

American Shoulder

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When To Wear It

Because it has limited padding, this jacket type is best worn by those who already have strong shoulder profiles, and don’t want to build or draw attention to the shoulders.Also, because of it’s unstructured appearance, this style is considered more sporty than the alternatives, and more casual; although it is still used in regular business suits as well.

The Roped Shoulder (Italian)

What Is It

The roped shoulder will have slightly more padding than a natural shoulder, along with higher arm holes; these higher armholes give the greatest ease of movement of all the jacket types. It is known as the roped shoulder because it appears as though a rope has been placed under the sleeve joint, raising it higher than the shoulder.

Italian Shoulder

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When To Wear It

The Roped Shoulder conveys a more rigid, formal look, and builds up the shoulders, so it is good for more formal jackets, and men with smaller shoulders. As Esquire says, it “conveys a rigorous formality and a little old-school glamour”.

The Padded Shoulder (British)

What Is It

The traditional british suit shoulder will have a light padding that builds on the shoulders, and will typically be stiffer than it’s counterparts. The shoulders won’t be excessively padded, but just enough that it creates a sharper angle in the corner, emphasising the shoulders and creating a more masculine body shape.

British Shoulder

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When To Wear It

When you have smaller, or sloping shoulders, and want to add a bit of bulk. The British style shoulder is the most structured and formal of the three, and makes for an excellent power suit.

For a more in-depth guide, check out this article by Parisian Gentleman

The Tie Bar Review

The Short Review

The Tie Bar is an online store that offers a wide range of bow ties, pocket squares, socks, and other accessories; but their primary product is their neckties, which are all just $15 (USD) each. They have an incredible range of colours and patterns, and they offer ties in silk, cotton, and wool (no polyester in sight); they all certainty look good, but I was a bit sceptical, how good could a tie possible be if it costs just $15? I have read some reviews, and done my research, so while I was optimistic, I wasn’t expecting much, but still, I bought three ties.

The three ties totalled $45 dollars, a little more than half of what I spent on my last tie, and barely a fraction of what some higher end ties cost, but I can happily say that I was pleasantly surprised by the relative quality of them when they arrived yesterday morning (two days before they were due to arrive, by the way). They aren’t the best quality I have ever seen, but certainly well worth what I paid for them, and I definitely look forward to buying more in the future. For details on the ties themselves, look at the longer review done below, but The Tie Bar is definitely going to become my go-to source for ties in the future.

The Longer Review

The Ties

Black Silk Knitted Tie with a White Stripe

Black Silk Knit Tie with White Stripe by The Tie Bar

Black Silk Knit Tie with White Stripe by The Tie Bar

I’ve been meaning to buy a knitted silk tie for a while now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I can honestly say that I am very happy with the tie; it has a good weight to it, and at just under 3″ wide and 58″ long, it is the perfect size. The craftsmanship appears to be pretty good; there are no loose threads or weak spots, and the silk is quite strong. We will see how it holds up over time, but I have high hopes so far. It is 100% silk, but I can’t speak to the quality of it; the material feels a little rough, which may be attributed to either poorer quality silk, or a stain-resistant coating. Either way, the tie looks great, and for the price, can’t be beat.

With all this taken into consideration, I would definately recommend this tie.

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Midnight Navy Silk Knitted Tie

Midnight Blue Silk Knit Tie bt The Tie Bar

Midnight Blue Silk Knit Tie by The Tie Bar

There’s not much that I can say about this tie that I haven’t said about the last one; in terms of fabric and construction, it is virtually the same, and if has the same feel in the hands.

I would still definitely recommend this tie, it is an excellent addition to any wardrobe, and one that I expect that I will use quite often.

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Serene Blue Silk Tie – Imprint Plaid

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Plaid Serene Blue and White Tie by The Tie Bar

I purposefully set out to buy at least one knit tie, but I saw this one and just had to have it, so I had high hopes for it. At 3″ wide and 58″ long, it is what I consider to be the perfect size for a tie, and the craftsmanship is just as good as the other ties. Where it falls short is, once again, in the quality of the silk; it just feels rougher than higher end ties. It also doesn’t have the same heftiness to it that my more expensive ties have, and is does feel a little flimsy. It’s still a very nice looking tie though, and one that I expect to wear quite often; I definitely recommend that you check it out.

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The Price and Quality

Like I said above, (virtually) all the ties on The Tie Bar are $15, and for that price, the quality is better than I would have expected; and I know people who have paid three times as much for polyester ties that are worse quality than these ties.  That being said, there are better ties out there; you just have to be prepared to spend $50+ on them. For the price, The Tie Bar offers an incredible range of patterns and colours, with relatively good quality fabric and craftsmanship.

Postage to Australia is $12.99(USD) for regular postage, and $25.99(USD) for express postage; keep in mind however that all the prices listed here are in US Dollars, and may cost more or less depending on the exchange rate.

Overall, The Tie Bar represents a great source of value-for-money products, and I look forward to many repeat purchases, and I recommend that you give them a chance.

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I’m always looking for products to review, and topics that interest my readers, so if you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment below; it would be greatly appreciated.

A Practical Guide to the Parts of a Perfect Profile Pic

Social networking websites are a massively important marketing tool; websites like Facebook and MySpace (that still exists, right?) are great for catching up with old friends and making new ones, and for finding out what’s happening this weekend; and statistically speaking, LinkedIn is gaining two new members every second, and more and more job recruiters are using it as an indispensable resource for hiring. I use LinkedIn a lot, and I also spend a good amount of time on Facebook and Twitter, and one of the things that concerns me the most is people’s profile pictures; the profile picture is the first thing that you see, and that makes it pretty damn important. So, as you may be able to guess from the title, this article is about taking the perfect profile picture for each type of social media website; but first, why is it so important?

Like I said above, the profile picture is usually the first thing that you see; that means that when the person thinking about hiring you checks out your Facebook page, seeing you do a keg stand probably isn’t going to help your chances. Facebook is meant to be casual though; what’s worse is when your LinkedIn (a website primarily for business and professional networking) profile pic is the same.

The Big Three

For the purposes of this article, social networking websites fall into three categories: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook covers the websites that are primarily for catching up with friends and family, and letting people know what is going on in your life; Twitter is for letting people know what is going on in your life as it is happening; and LinkedIn is for business networking and recruiting.

LinkedIn

The Quick Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • Have a photo
  • Brush your hair
  • Dress for a job interview (Dress shirt, suit and tie, etc)
  • Cover tattoos and remove piercings
  • Get it done professionally

Don’t

  • Have any alcohol in the picture
  • Have distracting things in the background
  • Use a company logo or product image
In Detail

LinkedIn is primarily used for business networking and for helping recruiters, so your entire profile should be neat and tidy, and above all, professional; this goes double for your profile picture. Make sure that you actually use a photo; profiles without pictures look unprofessional at best, and like you are trying to hide something at worst. As a general guideline, stick with shots from the shoulders up; any more and you run the risk of being indistinguishable due to the small picture size. Dress the way you would for a job interview (click here if you need help with that), and make sure that your hair is tidy, and that any tattoos are covered and piercings are removed. I also recommend that you have the picture taken by a professional, but it isn’t necessary; check out the pictures below if you are looking for some inspiration.

All excellent profile pictures. Obviously don't blur your own face.

All excellent profile pictures. Obviously don’t blur your own face.

Make sure not to use a company logo or product image for your profile picture; your LinkedIn page is for your personal information, keep company images on your business page.

Facebook

The Quick Dos and Don’ts

Do

  • Use a different photo than your LinkedIn photo
  • Be fully clothed
  • Wear casual clothing
  • Feel free to have a drink in your hand
  • Be relaxed

Don’t

  • Be (obviously) drunk
  • Make gang signs
  • Use a selfie
  • Make a stupid face (duck face is for ducks, not people)
  • Use pictures of your children and pets

You have a lot more leeway with your Facebook Photo than you do with your LinkedIn photo; it’s okay to be more casual, but keep it respectable. Don’t send mixed messages with your LinkedIn photo being you in a suit, and your Facebook photo being of you doing that keg stand that I mentioned. Keep the photo casual, something taken at a barbecue, or while out with friends, is perfect. Don’t use selfies taken in front of the mirror (better yet, don’t take them at all), and don’t make stupid faces or try to show off your abs (or lack thereof). Unless it’s a photo of you at the beach, keep your clothes on. Don’t use photos of your pets or children; just make your pet its own account, and embarrass your children in real life instead. For a flowchart guide to choosing a good Facebook profile pic, click here.

Twitter

The guidelines for your twitter page are basically the same as they are for your Facebook page; no selfies, and don’t look like a tool. If the Twitter account is for your business, your best option is your business logo; it’s going to be more recognisable than a product image, and will increase your brand recognition.

Some General Advice

Once a photo is posted online, it is going to stay there; just because it isn’t your profile picture, doesn’t mean that someone is going to find it. With that in mind, I recommend that you be very careful about exactly what you are posting to your social networking websites. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t say to your grandmother, and if you do, make sure that your settings are restricted so that only your friends can see it; the public doesn’t need to know about how wasted you get every weekend, and you certainty don’t need to let your boss know that the sick day that you took was so that you could go to a cricket match.

Just For Fun

Because where would we be without memes and cats?

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