mrputtogether Goes to Washington (Er, Chicago).

Image

Okay, okay, for real this time, I’m back.  And in Chicago.  Like, permanently.  No, don’t think this blog is going to go all “Street-Style-a-la-Instagram” on you; I’m going to keep bringing you legitimate content whose aim is to help you solve all of your sartorial conundrums.  That said, I still have quite a few irons in the fire (but I want to get this going on a consistent basis again), so for the time being, you’ll only be seeing fresh content on here Tuesday and Thursday (and of course, Saturday, for your Saturday Morning Style Shot).  I’d like to up circulation (who wouldn’t, right?) and reader input, so if you know anybody who you think might be interested (or could benefit) from reading, send them my way.  My goal for 2012 is to dedicate a week to my reader’s style-highlighting three or four (okay, realistically probably one) reader’s style a day, and then awarding one of the participants with a little something special (to be announced, but rest assured, it’s worth the effort).

So, to recap:

  • Mrputtogether is back
  • I’ll be posting tri-weekly (Tuesday, Thursday, and of course, Saturday)
  • I’m looking to hear from you!

 

M-

Tagged , , ,

Calling All Cars…Calling All Cars…

 

First, let’s get the formalities out of the way:

Yes, it’s been nearly two months since I’ve posted anything.  But with good reason.

mrputtogether is making a movie.

Not a student or art house film, not a documentary, but a movie.  A real-life feature.

I’m more than excited.

And ridiculously busy.

Since taking on the role of director (having written the script, it only seemed natural), every second of my time has been spent working on the film.  But now, with the cast and crew on a two-week hiatus (the director of photography is getting married), I have a second to breathe.

And more importantly, post some fresh content.

I won’t be back to posting tri-weekly anytime soon, but, having designed the entire wardrobe for the film myself, I will take a few minutes each week to highlight some of the wardrobe choices I made, explain my inspiration, and show you how to rock a little silver screen style yourself.

And now for a shameless self-plug:

The movie is called “The Girl, The Gun, & Everything,” a neo-noir thriller set in Grand Rapids, MI, and follows the story (at least initially) of twentysomething roommates and (sometimes) friends Blake and David as they become embroiled in the city’s criminal underbelly after responding to an unassuming ad on a popular Internet classifieds site.

The website is under construction as we speak, but you can check out my production company’s page for details: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tutti-Fuori-Productions/104893719634236

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Your Saturday Morning Style Shot

(Something about this cold, clear spring has got me longing for the chill of the fog fresh off the bay.  I did indeed leave my heart in San Francisco.  Dig RDJ’s spring ready-wardrobe [replete with chambray shirt] as SF Chronicle reporter Paul Avery in David’s Fincher’s seminal film “Zodiac.” )

m-

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Then and Now: Abercrombie & Fitch

(Occasionally, I’ll be throwing up these “Then and Now” posts, which will detail the brief history of some of today’s hottest brands-and just how much they’ve changed in the last few decades-for better, or for worse).  

Before all the sighing and eye-rolling begins to emit from my more fashion-forward readers, allow me to justify exactly why the king of Surf-N-Sex culture appears at the top of today’s post.

Ahem.

Though today the name “Abercrombie and Fitch” immediately calls to mind inuendo-laden t-shirts and fraternity-row style, the brand had far humbler origins.  Started as a field and stream supply company in 1892 (and you thought the numbers emblazoned on those hoodies were bullshit) by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch, the brand quickly evolved to include all manners of recreational outdoor activities, from skiing to skin-diving.  The store’s Madison Avenue headquarters (opened in 1917) carried not only apparel, but sporting gear as well.

Despite a wide variety of products, the store was never very profitable.  Sales were high, but net profits were continually low, and after losing nearly one million dollars, A & F closed its doors in 1976 after filing for Chapter 11.  It was purchased shortly thereafter by a sporting goods company (Oshman’s).  It eventually reopened several of the stores, including a large, flagship-like store in Beverly Hills, California.  The store specialized in eclectic, luxury sporting items (like forty-thousand dollar elephant guns) and casual men and women’s apparel, often with a utilitarian or safari edge.  For those of you interested in acquiring some of the “Supply Store-era” A & F threads, this is the best period from which to look for them.  A lot of the pieces are reminiscent of early Banana Republic, and they are, as a whole, well made and nicely tailored (and yes, I’m speaking from experience, having found a vintage hardy cotton A & F Oxford at a local thrift store).  Any earlier, and the pieces are nearly antiques (and well out of the average guy’s price range ) and any later, well…

Yeah, that.  Anyway, after being purchased by Limited Brands in 1988, the brand’s core values changed.  Then-CEO Michael Jeffries decided to drop the Supply-Store vibe and concentrate on targeting the teen and young adult market, thereby insuring every tool-bag the world over could immediately be identified by a distinct odor and an upturned collar.

Or something like that.

At the time of print, the company continues to operate with moderate success in the U.S, and near-phenomenal numbers in Europe and Asia.  As of February 15th of this year, the brand announced that it will be closing one hundred and eighty U.S. retail locations before the end of 2012, citing an effort to grow their global brand image across seas.

m-

(Have a look you’d like to share? Know another way to wear it?  Email me at mrputtogether@live.com and I’ll include it in Friday’s “Reader Round-Up” post).

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Something to Think About

I’ve been seeing a recent influx in posts on several social media sites that extoll the virtues of men in suites.  They typically go something like this:

“A Well-Tailored Suit Is To Women What Lingerie is To Men.”

And then it’s typically accompanied by a picture of the one and only man most woman have ever seen in a suit (see above).  You would think that mrputtogether would be thrilled by this sort of thing, this approval from the opposite sex for his suited brethren.  But in truth, it rings false.  Because, let me ask you, ladies, when was the last time you dated a man that wore a suit on a regular basis?  Or hell, even one that wore a suit on special occasions, as opposed to the shirt/tie/no jacket combo?  Hell, when was the last time you dated a man that wore a sport coat on a regular basis, even?  Consider what you’re saying; you find the tailored lines of a suit so enamoring, so sophisticatedly sexy, that you can compare it to the barely-there sensuality of Agent Provocateurs’ finer wares.   See, what I think most of you are in love with is the idea of a man who wears a suit, because that’s what this prohibition-era revival demands.  And when it’s gone, your burning desire for the bespoke will be too.

m-

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Your Saturday Morning Style Shot

(Alexander Calder shows off his surplus style in front of the 3.0L CSL he painted for BMW’s Art Car Series)

m-

Tagged , , , , ,

The Guest Post: Death of the Necktie in the American Office

(Today’s post is  guest written by my friend, colleague, and fellow neckwear aficionado Ben Plum.  Follow him on twitter @beenplum and let him know what you thought of the post). 

m-

The Death of the Necktie in the Modern American Office

It’s another day in the office, and the mundane tasks of the modern American white-collar worker are well under way. Something is missing, however. A certain constant in the office, a fashion staple, if you’ll allow me, has all but disappeared over the last decade. Looking across the room of a busy modern American office you’ll still see white collars, but what you will not see is the device that has held them taught for a century: the common necktie is all but gone from the modern workplace.

Let’s go back for a moment to that now seemingly abstract construct of the ‘white collar’; the business professional wardrobe. Since the industrial revolution, when the masses left behind the fields, orchards, and farms of the agrarian economy of the 1800’s for the efficiency and brilliance of factories, people have worn ties to display professionalism and authority. It has always been requisite in the business place. Where neckwear was once reserved for the formal occasions of the rich and proper, after the industrial revolution it permeated into the workplace, transcending social classes. Simply put, everyone wore a tie. This became so prevalent that the ideological concept of the ‘business man’ now necessarily conjures the image of a necktie. It’s permanently ingrained in our minds, as well as the media. Despite this, however, the reality is that the tie is losing its foothold in the modern office.

Where did it go? To answer this question, we have to look back again at a time where employees were not only expected to wear ties, they were often required to. You simply could not show up to work without one and expect to be taken seriously. This was the reality for our parents at their respective jobs, and is still true to some extent in many disciplines. However, when you tell someone they have to do something, that it is non-negotiable, their first instinct is resistance and pushback, even at the psychological level. The product of that pushback was a generation of workers with a disdain for wearing ties. Perhaps they felt ‘constricted’ by the feel of the tie around their neck, which they associated with the immense stress they were under from a job they hated. Fashion, after all, is a choice. When the choice is taken away from you, what do you have? No one likes to be forced to do something, and as a result, the tie became a symbol of oppression.

The response to this was simple: quit wearing them. But how? Most professional companies required their employees to wear ties to work, and rules are rules. The thought process for most of these disgruntled employees was: How do we get out from under our oppressors and gain our fashionistic freedom? We’ll start our own companies. Be our own bosses. We’ll make our own rules. No employee of mine will ever have to wear a tie again.

And that’s exactly what they did.

I worked for one of these companies. My bosses were old employees of Key Bank in Cleveland, OH, who lived and operated in these exact same circumstances for decades, and they hated it. So when they started their own independent marketing analytics and consulting firm, they made it a rule that their employees could wear whatever they wanted to the office (within reason, of course). In their minds, they were granting the office freedom. They had won.

What they were doing, however, was killing off one of the best and most beautiful fashion pieces available to the modern man’s already limited array of accessory items. Oh, employees could wear ties to work, if they wanted to, but they didn’t have to. They wanted the office to have the easy going, open-minded feel that was lacking under the strict limitations set by their former employers. What they didn’t realize, though, was that by singling the necktie out, they were setting a precedent for bias against it.

The consequence of this, of course, is that no one has a desire to wear a tie to work anymore, if they ever did. There are several potential reasons for this. The first being for the same reason the rule was changed: some people just don’t like wearing ties, and that’s okay: You can still dress and look very nice without a tie. However, those of us who understand and embrace the elegance and complexity a tie can add to your ensemble are left in a predicament. Do we conform to the standards of the tie-less office, or do we go against the grain and express ourselves as we see fit? Frankly, in my experience, it’s an uphill battle. When I wear a tie to work, I am inevitably asked, “Why?”, or told, “You know, you don’t have to wear one of those here.” I am judged and almost discriminated against for wearing an article of clothing that for most of a century has been standard practice.

This happens all the time.

This particular company I’ve described is by no means the exception to the rule; literally every office I’ve worked at in my (admittedly limited) career has had this very mindset. In college, I interned at Meijer’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, MI. For those who don’t know, Meijer is a major grocery retailer in the Midwest that, having originated in West Michigan, has a notoriously conservative leadership team. Yet even Meijer, a privately-held company whose leadership has been passed down from generation to generation in arguably one of the most conservative regions in the nation, has eliminated the tie from their dress code restrictions. Furthermore, no one in my current office, aside from myself, is wearing a tie today – nor were they yesterday, or the day before, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that if I wear a tie to work again tomorrow and every day from now until time ends, I will be the only man here to do so.

Indeed, some people are threatened by it. They look at the person wearing a tie and view them as an outsider. They label them as a kiss-ass, or worse, a threat. The guy who wears a tie to work becomes ‘that guy who wears a tie to work’. To work, of all places! It makes people uncomfortable, because they view the man dressing nicely as someone who is trying to out-do them, and are in effect making them look bad. Is this an over-exaggeration? Maybe, but the fact that the tide in the modern office has shifted is a reality. The tie is no longer a given in American business, and it may never be again.

Sure, there will always be professions where the necktie is essential. In any court of law there will be neckties. Doctors will wear ties when meeting with patients, and politicians will always wear ties when giving speeches or arguing in Washington. The tie conveys authority and professionalism. It also provides a subtle and yet decadent platform for expressing one’s individual fashion and taste. It’s an unfortunate thing to have lost, and it is up to us as fashion-forward young professionals to break the stigma.

Hope for the tie as a socially acceptable and celebrated accessory lies with us – not the generation before us. That ship has sailed. No one who isn’t wearing a tie today will ever do so because they suddenly want to. The only way to propagate neckwear in the modern workplace is to reset the standard, in hopes that those younger than us will follow suit. We have an opportunity to set  an example of what fashion awareness can provide professionalism, and it’s not too late. Don’t know how to tie a tie? Youtube can show you. Don’t own one? Buy one here (at relatively affordable prices, I might add). Start with a neutral color like navy, black, or gray (I personally feel every man should have one of each, but that’s for another article) Feeling brave? Why not a bow tie? This article has some excellent advice for matching ties to shirts, in case you’re new to this – hey, we all were at some point.

Ties have a rare power to transform an outfit. They’ll add class to your look, and if you do it right, they can also add credibility. Let’s reclaim the workplace by putting the tie back where it belongs – at the forefront of the American business.

Ben Plum is a young professional working for a healthcare management firm in northeast Ohio. He appreciates bright colors, straw fedoras, and being barefoot. He cannot grow a beard. Follow him on Twitter @beenplumb.

Tagged , , , , ,

Shop the Sale: J.Crew

Occasionally I’ll be throwing up these “Shop the Sale” posts where I root through the darkened recesses of the “Sale” page from some of my favorite brands (so you don’t have to).  Today’s sale?

J.Crew, of course.  J.Crew sales are typically good for one of two things: stocking up on essentials at great prices, or picking up items that you wouldn’t normally consider at full retail.  And, aside from being one of my favorite retailers, they’re currently running a fantastic sale right now-thirty percent off all final sale items (code: MUSTHAVE).  The “catch,” so to speak, is that these items are called “final sale” for a reason-they’re unreturnable, so shop wisely.

Luckily, mrputtogether is here to help.  Click on the pictures to get linked to the sale.

The Top:

Slim Merino V-Neck Sweater

Do the math: Taking the additional thirty percent off this sucker drops it just above thirty bucks-that’s Target territory, gentleman.  The fit is superb (very trim through the middle) and the merino wool is thin and light enough to ward off the chill of a cool summer night without weighing you down.  There are plenty of sizes left, but only three colors.  Navy is the natural choice here.

The Bottom:

Vintage 484 Slim Fit Cord

For those of you just not ready to stray into “white denim” territory, these vintage slim fit cords (in “Stone”) will quickly become your go-to pants in the coming months.  The so-khaki-it’s-white color is perfect to set off a plethora of options up top, the fit is spot on, and the sizes are plentiful.  And $29.99?  Are you kidding me?  While you’re at it, pick up a couple of extra pairs in some of the retro hues they have.  They might come in handy when you get that garden party invite.

The Jacket

Aldridge Two-Button Jacket in Chino by J.Crew

If you don’t already own a khaki cotton blazer, stop what you’re doing, head over to J.Crew.com, and buy this jacket.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  Make sure to pick it up in “Wheat.”  Got it?  Great.  Because this thing is going to become your best friend this summer.  Pull it over a light blue  button-down shirt and jeans for a night out, throw it over a white shirt, black tie, and gray slacks for the office (skip the socks), or button it up over that navy sweater you just bought when you head to brunch on Sunday.  It’s versatile, impeccably constructed, and ridiculously stylish…all for $99.  Urban Outfitters price, J.Crew quality.  Unbeatable.  Go!

The Accessory

Ticking Stripe Belt

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the vibe this summer nautical, and it doesn’t get much more nautical than this.  Trendy without being kitschy, it strikes all the right notes.  Oh, and it’s twenty bucks.  Yeah.

The  Collaboration:

Timex Andros Diver’s Watch for J.Crew

Yes, I bought mine for full (gulp) retail-$250 the day it came out last year.  And I don’t regret it for a second.  It’s the quintessential watch: dressy, sporty, and one hundred percent water-proof (tested off Key West’s finest beaches by yours truly).  I’m wearing it even as I type this.  Through the current sale on the website, it can be yours for $150.  Take what you saved and pick up a couple of extra watch straps (they’re interchangeable).

And One For the Ladies:

Tulle Twist-Front Stripe Tank

At $150, it’s pricey.  At $120, it’s right in line with a lot of Vicki’s See’s stuff.  Remember, ladies, often times, less is really more.  This suit is classically sexy without showing an absurd amount of skin, and skips a lot of the beads, rings, and other accoutrements that make a lot of these suits look trashy.

m-

(Have a look you’d like to share? Know another way to wear it?  Email me at mrputtogether@live.com and I’ll include it in Friday’s “Reader Round-Up” post).

Tagged , , , , ,

And They’re Off!

The spring and summer party season is fast approaching.  Derby parties, garden parties, weddings (both indoor and outdoor)…there’s a whole slew of events that will quickly be filling up your calender (or, more likely, your Facebook Events page) in a manner of weeks, all of which will have you scrambling to find something to wear.

Luckily, mrputtogether is here to help.

Below you’ll find four additions for any wardrobe that are sure to help you step right up into the swing of things:

A Seersucker Jacket

There seems to be a bit of a push away from seersucker this season, and I’m not sure why.  Perhaps its longtime association with the Wall Street crowd has deemed it unworthy to don in the shadow of all this occupying.  In any case, while it certainly won’t make your “essentials” list any time soon, a seersucker jacket can be a stylish addition to your spring and summer roatation.  While your initial inclination might be to reach for madras print and a bow tie, resist the urge.  Instead, break down the jacket’s inherent preppiness by going tieless and adding a splash of color-pink works surprisingly well under the thin blue and white stripe.  Stay away from pastel shades to avoid the “Tad-at-the-country-club” look and go for something that pops.  It’s all about taking the “stuffiness” out of the look.  Since this isn’t something you’re going to be wearing everyday, yuo don’t want to be too far out of pocket on it-so take advantage of Macy’s current five day sale and pick up this Lacoste seersucker jacket for a song.  Then keep the “Less Than Zero” vibe alive by adding…

 A Fresh Pair of Boat Shoes

A mrputtogether favorite, boat shoes are the quintessentail summer footwear.  Like any good wardrobe piece, you can dress them up and dress them down.  There’s a plethora of colors and options out there this season, but try to stay away from some of the gaudier, flashier options.  Your shies shouldn’t upstage the rest of your look, and they shouldn’t be a conversation piece, either.  Stick to a more conservative palette, and if you do decide to get that madras pair, make sure you keep the material traditional (think canvas, suede).  Sperry has been doing it right for a damn long time, and they have a particularly handsome burgundy pair in their vintage line-up that I’ve got my eye on.  $80.00 may seem like a lot, but they’ll last for damn near forever, and the nylon/sude combination means that they’ll just get better looking with age.  You can order directly from Sperry online, but keep your eyes peeled at your local Nordstrom Rack.  A lot of their collaborations end up there, and at a fifty to eighty percent discount.  You’ll need something to gird your loins with as well, so make the smart decision and go with…

 Of-the-Moment Colored Trousers

While some of the brigther pairs that were waltzing around Fashion Week were a bit off-putting, a well-tailored pair of colorful trousrs are a summer party essential.  The important thing to remember is that if this is the route you decide to go, the rest of your outfit should remain classicly styled.  Notice how the gentleman on the left allows his poants to do the talking by keeping everything else neutral.  Follow suit and you can’t miss.  The best source for pants all shades of the rainbow is BONOBOS.com.  The fit is superb, their prices are reasonable, and they often have great full-site sales.  And make sure  you pull it all together with…

Classic Wayfarer Shades

I’ve said it before  and I’ll say it again; this is the one and only pair of sunglasses you need.  A lot of these parties are going to be held outside, and the last thing you want to do is stand around squinting for four hours.  Head over to Ray-Ban’s website and snag a pair before it’s too late.

There you have it.  Four items that will insure you’re well on your way to being the best dressed man in the room.  Or on the beach.  Or in the garden.

m-

(Have a look you’d like to share? Know another way to wear it?  Email me at mrputtogether@live.com and I’ll include it in Friday’s “Reader Round-Up” post).

Tagged , , , , , , ,