Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Take a bow

Last summer, I had two weddings to go to, and I really wanted to learn how to tie a bow-tie properly. This being the "Download Decade", I resorted to the Internet for instruction.

I was unable to follow any site that featured a series of images showing the knot in various stages. The drawings were just too difficult to follow. At some point, I'd always lose track of what went where.

Fortunately, there are some really good instructional YouTube videos.

I like the Southern drawl on the narrator's voice (especially at 0:29 when he says "cinch it down"). If you've got a wedding coming up, an easy way to practice without incurring suspicious laceration marks on your neck is to tie it on your thigh.

What about wearing a bow tie outside of formal wear? Personally,I think it's a tricky thing to pull off, especially if you're not a:

-professional nerd:

-conservative pundit:


Now, I suppose I'm being just a bit unfair. Interestingly enough, corporate culture seems to tolerate the bow tie, especially in the U.S. Every big American law firm seems to have one middle-aged partner in a corner office who wears bow ties as a matter of course. He usually has a collection of more bow ties than you can count, and is overall well-dressed. The bow tie is his thing (e.g., he's known as "the guy with the bow-tie").

In recent years, thanks to the rise of preppy-chic, the bow-tie has made a bit of a resurgence.

As for me, I don't think i could pull off the bow tie in a casual setting. Because it's such an exceptional piece of clothing, it just feels a bit too affected for my liking (much in the same way as does wearing wool scarf indoors).
I did see a Dior(?) ad in men's magazines a few months ago, which featured a guy in black pants, white shirt and a black leather jacket, and a black bow tie. Unfortunately, I couldn't track down that image, but I did think it was a pretty cool look.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Esquire Best Dressed Real Man 2009

Esquire magazine is having its "Best Dressed Real Man" contest, once again.

By "real man", I don't think they mean a quiche-eschewing, aspirin-chewing, tobacco-spitting, football-watching and beer-drinking man. I simply think they mean "non-celebrity".

You can actually vote between the 25 semi-finalists. I suspect the voting isn't as popular as American Idol. I browsed through the pics of the 25 guys. I found there to be quite a range in the "talent". Some people looked completely unremarkable and I couldn't figure out how they made it on to the list. Thankfully, there were some others that were really creative and original dressers.
I guess the point is that there seems to be some arbitrariness in the selection of the 25. After all, people are free to enter the contest and post pics of themselves. I highly doubt the editor of Esquire reviewed every profile.

The winner of the contest is featured in the magazine and usually appears to be a pretty good choice. As I said, there are some really good pics and I've posted a handful below showing 3 of the guys (Kamau, Dan and Adelke):

-The Scandal

Monday, May 11, 2009

Balmain shoulder pads

The Scandal does not normally comment on fashion matters female. That is the domain of my fellow StyleMountie, Fashion Constable Mariya.

I have however been behooved to comment on those Balmain jackets that seem to be causing such a buzz. For some reason, I could not keep my eye off the shoulders. There was something very intriguing about them, and I wanted to figure out exactly what it was-- and I think that I have.

The Balmain shoulder pads are very different from the women's shoulder pads of the 1980's.
The pads back then were broader and gave women a huskier affect.
Of course, broad shoulders signal muscle, power and aggression. Military and sport uniforms exploit this effect.

The Balmain shoulder pads however are sloping and more slender, resembling the shoulders of a delicate and skinny woman.

Do you see what I mean? I think this illusion is apparent, and potentially genius.

We therefore have an interesting contrast: That is, the shoulder pads of the 1980's were designed to make women look masculine and feel more powerful whereas the current Balmain shoulder pads are designed to make women look (and feel?) more petite, delicate and vulnerable.

-The Scandal

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Match Rules

One pet peeve of mine is when people assume that an outfit must "match" in order for it to look good.

Some guys get caught up in the misconception, but I find it especially prevalent among chicks --probably simply as a result of the fact that women (typically) have so many more accessories, shoes and clothes than guys from which to match.

Needless to say, a guy wearing a navy suit needn't wear a navy shirt and a navy tie (nor must a chick wear matching earrings, makeup, dress etc.). Style guides are near-unanimous that a guy should never wear a pocket square and tie with the exact same pattern.
Matching, taken to its logical extreme leads to absurd results:

I think the more important question when assembling an outfit is not whether the clothes match, but rather whether the clothes are compatible with one another, i.e. whether the colours complement one another. You shopuld be asking: "Does purple go with grey?" (very well, actually) "Does yellow go with black?" (sorta, but you may look like a bee), and so forth.

As an illustration, the outfits below are all pretty smart, but you'll notice that no two items are the same colour.

**Photo copyright to Scott Schuman

That's not to say matching is an absolute taboo. Personally, I think there is benefit to matching, but I prefer the matching to be quite subtle, for example when a tie or a pocket square matches a stripe in a suit pattern.

-The Scandal