Peter’s Picks for Shoulder Season Style

Spring in San Francisco is onerous.  It’s as if winter is on its deathbed with a wet cough that keeps drenching you with incessant gloom as it slowly releases its grip on daylight.  It’s pathetic.  Long after the novelty off sweater weather wears off, you just feel like pulling the plug and ending the misery.

My first spring in New York was unforgettable.  For months, the trees surrounding me in Putnam County had been shivering naked during the long winter like so many desiccated toothpicks, reaching up to a sun that would give them no warmth.  The trails circling Mountain Brook were surrounded by dirty snow that blended into the granite horizon and ashen sky, painting a dormant landscape filtered in desolation, until finally the earth awoke.  I remember buds shooting from the branches while it was still cold in March, offering hope of renewed life.  I was so excited I walked around in jeans and a t-shirt; 36 degrees seemed almost warm.  The snow began to melt, and within weeks, the whole valley of the east branch of the Croton River exploded in an intense, waxy green, sparkling in the breeze with hues of malachite in the sun and viridian in the shade.  I’ll never forget that sight; it could have made anyone a believer.

It’s no wonder, then, that our clothes reflect spring’s renewal of life and color.  The changing of seasons brings longer days and blossoming flora, prompting us to put away our heaviest winter coats in somber hues and exchange them for something lighter and cheery.  For men, this traditionally means oxford cloth button-downs in soft pastel hues of robin’s egg blue, pale pink, and dusty yellow.   Since it won’t get really hot for several months, now is what some call “Shoulder Season,” when moderate temperatures can accommodate items from both summer and winter wardrobes, without necessitating full-on shearling or head-to-toe linen.  Lamentably, many places have pathetically a short Shoulder Season.  This is a shame, since spring and autumn have arguably the most pleasant temperatures of the year – the Golden Mean Climate – perfect for for a variety of menswear.  Here are some of my favorites for spring:

A faux tweed sport coat.  I’m considering sending this fabric to my tailor in Sicily.  A lightweight wrinkle-resistant wool from the long-gone Hardy Minnis Riviera line, the dusty kelly green expresses just the right amount of “spring” without being garish.  A jacket in this color goes great with light grey trousers, tan chinos or faded jeans, so I expect I’ll be wearing this a lot come March.  One of my favorite online stores, No Man Walks Alone (also a Styleforum affiliate), headed by longtime forum member Greg Lellouche, has a jacket in a solid olive green and a houndstooth patterned blue and brown in fabrics that are perfect for spring and would transition well into summer.  If you’re not a plaid person, try a suit or jacket in a fresh sage green cotton instead of traditional tan.

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A suede safari jacket.  Last year I scored one from Polo Ralph Lauren at Goodwill for less than $30.  It quickly became one of my favorites, and I found it went surprisingly well with a variety of outfits: beat-up denim and white sneakers, fresco trousers and tan chukkas, and hunter green khakis and boots.  The four utilitarian pockets carry just about anything, and the jacket can be worn open for ventilation, casually belted for a quick jaunt to the market, or buttoned-and-belted for when the wind starts to pick up.  Fair warning: people will want to touch you.

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A mid-weight sweater.  Twenty years ago, a sweet girl from Hyde Park named Liz gave me a periwinkle blue cotton cable-knit crewneck sweater from LL Bean, and I ended up wearing it all spring.  In fact, they still offer the same one, available online.  Perfect for those in-between times when you don’t have to worry about shedding layers of clothes.  Sweaters such as this one feel wonderful against your skin, and when the temperature changes you can either roll up your sleeves or throw on a Baracuta.  Later on, I picked up a shawl-collar sweater in a cotton-cashmere blend that serves more or less the same purpose, worn either with a simple white t-shirt or taking the place of a more formal jacket.

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A Day in the Life of a CM Wife

SCENE: Florence, Italy; famous menswear boutique.

Alan’s head is buried inside a jacket, where he’s scrutinizing the lining and trying to decipher the inner tag.

Apparently, the tag inside a man’s garment is the key to reveal whether a piece is worth the price or not. Just from looking at that 3-inch piece of fabric, you may be able to identify the maker of the item, and therefore judge the quality of a piece of clothing. Burberry, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren: these names don’t mean anything to a man that is into classic menswear, because he knows that behind them there’s someone else maneuvering the making process. And the first step of a purchase is identifying that maker.

I look around and I notice that two sales assistants are staring at my husband, debating whether they should offer him help or kindly ask that he removes his nose from inside the armhole of the jacket. After confabulating for a bit, one of them starts walking toward us. Alan doesn’t notice, as he’s now concentrating on pinching the jacket to understand if it’s fused.

“Good morning, may I help you?”

He speaks in English, probably figuring  we are not Italian, judging by Alan’s English-looking suit and shoes. And, y’know – the beahvior.

The thing is that I am very Italian. Born and raised in the Piedmont region, and only recently relocated in California. I offer the man my brightest smile and I explain to him in Italian that my husband and I are looking for a light sport coat.

Meanwhile, Alan emerges from the inside of the jacket and gives the sale assistant a dazed look, his glasses crooked on his nose.

“We are fine, thank you,” he says. “I’m just having a look around.”

I keep smiling and nod encouragingly, hoping that the man will leave us alone. However, I know that this is not going to happen. Italian clerks are trained to be a pain in the customers’ ass, and there is no way he’ll let us “have a look around” without making sure we are receiving proper assistance.

Alan is back at pinching the jacket, this time with less conviction, clearly upset that someone is watching his moves.

The salesman frowns and turns to me. “What is he doing, may I ask?” he asks me in Italian.

I keep smiling but I freeze.

What is he doing? He’s inspecting the sport coat to make sure that there is no trace of fusing and that the maker is reputable. In order to do so, he has to decipher the code on the tag, check Styleforum on his mobile device, and then track back to the history of the fabric employed in the realization of the garment, to make sure that the latest production was not spoiled.

I can’t tell him that. The fact he’s a salesman and he’s probably used to weirdest requests from his customers doesn’t justify the mental asylum situation.

His eyebrows rise so high that I’m afraid they’re going to merge with the spare hairline on his forehead. My mind is desperately trying to find an excuse for the fact that Alan is now running his finger under the collar of the jacket, as if it were a bra he wanted to strip off a woman.

C’mon Ari. Think.

“Ahem. He is…a fabric trader.”

I don’t even know what I’ve just said, and I immediately regret it.

The clerk stares at me for a few seconds.

“A fabric trader?”

“Yes! My husband trades fabric for some of the biggest names in fashion. He buys only the finest on the market, for his clients as well as for himself. We are here in Florence to study the history of brocade, and its rise during the Renaissance.”

I still don’t know what I’m saying, but I feel suddenly thankful that I read the biography of Lucrezia Borgia in college.

“You probably know that brocade is the reason Italian silk fabrics became the finest choice in all Europe in the 15th century, as the demand for intricate designs forced the production to get better.”

I can tell from his vacuous eyes that he is not impressed, so I decide to make up an even more unlikely scenario in order to give my husband the time to decide whether the jacket is worth the splurge or not.

“We are considering working with some Italians mills in order to bring brocade back into favor. In fact, we are attending Pitti this summer to discuss the chance to create a whole collection of suits and tuxedos made of Italian brocades.”

Finally, his eyes brighten up and I silently rejoice. Ah! You didn’t expect that, did you, Mr. Grumpy Clerk?

He looks at me with new respect, as though I’m the wife a fabric trader deserves.

“That is so very interesting, Madame,” he says with genuine admiration, his pupils glistening.

“Uh-uh,” I mutter, “Big names. Kiton and stuff.”

Okay, I need to stop now. I don’t even know why I’m putting myself in this unpleasant situation only to allow my husband to indulge in his crazy operations.

My husband, the fabric trader. The thought is so ridiculous that I have to pretend to receive a funny text on my iPhone to justify my grin. However, the whole story starts making a lot of sense in my mind and I can’t help myself: I have to keep going.

I lean towards the man as I lower my voice to a whisper: “I just got a text from Armando at Kiton. They want to meet us at the Boboli gardens tonight to see some samples of brocade they just got from Venice,” I say, bringing my hand to cover the mouth.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t reveal too much. A few competitors are already trying to make contact with the brands we are in touch with and we suspect some insiders leaked the idea.”

The poor man’s eyes widen as he reassures me that my secret is safe with him. He gives me one more admired glance before apologizing and pacing away.

At last!

I turn to Alan and I notice with horror that he’s trying to bite the buttons of the sport coat, probably to make sure that it’s real horn. He hasn’t heard a word of my nonsensical dialogue with the salesman.

“What the hell are you doing? Can you please try on the jacket and make your decision?”

“Knock it off. I’m almost done inspecting. Then, I’ll try it on.”

I let out a big sigh, but I stiffen when I notice the clerk walking back towards us, with an old man at his side.

“Ciao!” I squeak, trying to hide my husband to their sight, as his mouth is still perilously close to the buttons of the sport coat.

“Madame, this is Ernesto Valanza, the owner of the shop.”

“Pleased to meet you, Ernesto”, I mumble while casually checking Instagram on my phone, as I always do when I am bored out of my mind. I wonder how long it’s going to take Alan to decide on the jacket.

“Mr. Valanza comes from one of the most respected families in Como; one of a very long tradition of yarn-making.”

“Right? That sounds interesting,” I jabber while taking in a picture of Kylie Jenner at Coachella. Perhaps I should dye my hair turquoise.

“He’d like to ask you and your husband a few questions on your project.”

“Uh? Sure…” I say as I put away my phone.

Wait, what? An alarm bell starts ringing in my head. Yarn-making? Como?

Shit.

I look at Alan, who’s finally trying on the jacket and inspecting the length in front of the mirror.

“I understand you can’t reveal much of the project, but would you mind telling me the maker you’re in contact with? We are truly a big family of fabric makers in Como; I’m sure I am familiar with them.”

Fuck. Now what? I can’t confess that I have no contacts in Como, that I knew about brocade only because it was in Bloomingdale’s last shopping issue, and that I’m in Florence with my husband, watching as he goes on a shopping spree.

Thankfully, Alan approaches us wearing the sport coat.

“Hey, do you guys have a tape measurer? I’m not sure about the length of the jacket. It may be a few millimeters too short as it doesn’t seem to divide my body in half.”

The two men exchange a look that clearly says that my husband has a mental issue.

“I’ll fetch one for you, sir”, says the first clerk I spoke to.

“I think it’s time to go,” I say firmly, indicating the door with a gesture of the head like only an Italian can do.

“Honey, don’t be ridiculous, I’m almost done here. What do you think? Is it too heavy for California?”

“It’s perfect, amore. I love it. Now let’s get the hell out of here because I’m going to cry if you don’t feed me gelato within the next five minutes.”

“Alright, then. I just wanted to make sure that the length in centimeters is less than or equal to my average jacket length. I wouldn’t want to have to tailor the length.”

The sale assistant stares at me intensely and I know exactly what he’s thinking: If this man is as picky at choosing women as he is at choosing clothes, you must be a saint.

“Listen to me,” I whisper to Alan’s ear, “I’ve been in this shop with you for more than 40 minutes. The jacket is fine, and you know it. If you really hate it, you can list it online once we get back and you’ll probably make more than what you spent considering it’s a bargain.”

“Well, aren’t you cranky today? Alright, I’ll take it. Gentleman, could you please check me out?”

“Oh, sure. Come this way. Your wife was just telling us about your work here in Florence.”

Oh no. Please not again. I can’t deal with this.

“My job in Florence? Yeah, that’s like the ideal job, right? Shopping and everything,” mutters Alan reaching for his wallet.

“Ah-ah! Yes, I guess that us insiders can call it shopping after all, eh?” says the man winking at Alan.

“Thank you very much for your help. I’ll certainly visit your store again before leaving.” Alan shakes Mr. Valanza’s hand and I have a spasm of horror when I see that he is handing him his business card.

“Would you please give me a call if you get any more Caruso suits within the next 10 days?”

Mr. Valanza studies the business card for a few seconds, and then he stares at me for a time that seemed forever.

“Sure…Mr. Alan Jones, attorney.”

Whatever.

I squeeze my husband’s arm and I waltz towards the exit, encouraging myself with the thoughts of a big gelato.


@AriannaReggio

The Rise of the Shoe Enthusiast

Something is happening in the world of shoes. Or rather, in the world of quality shoes. It’s not a tidal wave, but then again, few things are when you’re dealing with classic menswear. It’s more like a small trickle that’s turned into a steady stream of obsession. It started out with a few enthusiasts and their newfound interest in this ancient craft, then merged with the new-ish ability to connect through the internet, and found a home at a place in time where appreciation for tangible, luxurious objects is higher than it’s been for decades.

I’m a Swede, so naturally my perspective is mainly Swedish, but at the same time I think what’s happening over here may be at least mildly indicative of a global trend. In 2012, Skoaktiebolaget (a fine men’s shoes store and Styleforum affiliate) opened the doors of their brick and mortar shop in Stockholm, not only to the Swedish market, but to an international market that was just about to boom. I remember my initial reaction as being: “Is it a viable business idea to sell premium shoes in a city as small as Stockholm, when the price of a pair of shoes may very well be as high as some people’s monthly wages?”

Rise of the Shoe Enthusiast My friend Jussi wearing a pair of handcrafted from shoe artist Mario Bemer

Apparently, the answer to this question was a resounding “Yes!” And they didn’t just appeal to a market consisting of the financial jet set. A fairly newfound appreciation for workmanship, construction and leather quality had – and has – flourished among enthusiasts from all walks of life. Students saved up on their bursaries to be able to buy a pair of MTO’s from Carmina, maybe a first step down the slippery slope towards top-name makers in the business, such as Gaziano & Girling, St. Crispins, John Lobb, and others of their ilk.

Rise of the Shoe Enthusiast A picture I took in Skoaktiebolaget’s former store. They have since moved to a much bigger location, on one of Stockholm’s most popular addresses

I’ve heard some people attribute the success of Skoaktiebolaget to a fortunate timing of exchange rates between the US Dollar and the Swedish Crown, where the Dollar became very strong in comparison, and gave the US customer base a chance to buy European premium shoes at a very competitive price.

In my opinion, this is an oversimplification. I think Skoaktiebolaget managed to tap into something that’s more complex than basic economics. Exchange rates and a fairly steady Swedish economy can explain some of the business, but it can’t quite explain why the interest for artistic, well-crafted crafted shoes of the highest quality keeps going up, for an ever-growing number of men from widely-differing demographics.

My layman’s guess is that it has something to do with the times in which we’re living. A lot of people are stumbling around, trying to make sense of things. Economic markets don’t behave according to old predictable patterns of booms and recessions in perpetual cycles (in fact, nowadays booms and recessions can even exist simultaneously). Digitalization of practically every type of business has created a longing for something tangible, something lasting, as opposed to the ephemerality of the internet. Hence the reemergence of old crafts, hence the appeal of products that will not only last a lifetime if treated properly, but actually grow more beautiful with age, hence stores like Skoaktiebolaget.

With an everyday reality that currently feels increasingly volatile, the idea of long-lasting, quality products seems more attractive than ever. The re-popularization of Goodyear- and hand-welted shoes has naturally drawn the interest of people who see a gap in the market for quality shoes, where price is a boundary that still keeps a major part of an untapped market out. When I tell uninitiated people about the cost of even one of my “cheaper” pair of shoes, they look at me with an understandable amount of skepticism. Some of them could probably afford several pairs of Lobb’s every month, but the idea of paying these amounts for shoes, or clothing for that matter, is still a high threshold for the majority of men to step over.

However, there’s plenty of room for growth. One Swedish brand that has capitalized on this idea is Myrqvist Shoes. Swedish company Herrstil decided to launch their own brand of good year welted shoes with a good price/quality ratio, so they started a Kickstarter campaign and managed to even exceed their original funding goals. The idea was simple, they cut off all the middle men and went straight to the factory and suppliers of raw materials, and then offered the shoes directly to their customers without the added retail-margins. Other companies have used similar business models to get into the coveted “budget price market” (in reality this is still a premium price for most people). For example, Styleforum favorite Meermin sells Goodyear-welted shoes at a very competitive price, much due to their business being mainly online, and because they can do self-funded MTO-shoes for small groups of customers.

Rise of the Shoe EnthusiastWearing a pair of Chelsea boots from Myrqvist

Naturally, there are also makers catering to buyers who want nothing but the finest in shoemaking – the bespoke shoemakers. Gary Tok (@Gazman70k) recently wrote a book on this subject, called Master Shoemakers: The Art & Soul of Bespoke Shoes (also available at affiliate The Hanger Project). In this book, Tok sets out to capture the allure and beauty of bespoke shoemaking. The book consists of beautiful photographs, accompanied by written portraits of the different shoemakers. These are men whose shoes have more in common with art than with commodities. They are the masters of their trade, most of whom still do everything as they have always done it. If I were to make a wild guess, their business is more resistant to fluctuating markets and predictions of recessions than most shoe makers’. They make a product that attracts the sort of clients who don’t splurge on loud items to showcase their wealth, but rather the sort of clients who appreciate the craft and see their purchase as a good investment.

Master Shoemakers: The Art & Soul of Bespoke Shoes rise of the shoe enthusiast gary tokSpread from Master Shoemakers: The Art & Soul of Bespoke Shoes. Picture courtesy of Skoaktiebolaget.

The connection between the new entrepreneurs on the welted shoe market, and the old craftsmen and artisans may not seem like an obvious one. But, a merger of these two worlds could actually be the future of the trade. Not only in the manner that welted shoes in the lower price tiers are “gateway drugs” for future bespoke customers, but also in the general idea of how the most traditional makers will be doing their business.

The World of Shoes, yet another Swedish company, has set out to be a bridge between some of the less attainable shoemakers and customers from all around the world. The concept is rather unique, at least when it comes to shoes. They run an online editorial platform, on which they write about classic shoemakers, and they also have a market place, where people can buy some of these shoes. This, at least, takes away the geographical barriers between the traditional shoemakers and their potential customers.

rise of the shoe enthusiastHannes Rebas, editor at The World Of Shoes, talking to Olof Nithenius

Who knows, with the development of 3D scanning/printing and other technological advances, the next step may actually be to be able to produce proper bespoke without having to physically meet your shoemaker. I’ve talked about these, and other kind of developments with my friend & bespoke shoemaker, Norman Vilalta, and he embraces the advantages new techniques bring to the table. If his benevolence towards this evolution in traditional shoemaking is embraced by the next generation of makers, I’d dare say the future looks bright for this craft.

rise of the shoe enthusiastSpanish shoemaker Norman Vilalta in focus

rise of the shoe enthusiastFernando, Vilalta’s business partner, shows us around their trunk show in Florence last month


Erik is co-founder of EFV Clothing. You can find him on Instagram at @ErikMannby

Dress Like Gianni Agnelli – Sort Of

dress like gianni agnelli

If you’re a menswear nerd, you’ve probably heard of Gianni Agnelli. It doesn’t matter who he is, really (you might even know already); what matters is that he’s regularly pointed to as a sort of fairy godfather of sprezzatura – known for, among other things, his propensity to wear his watch over the sleeve of his shirt and to regularly wear hiking boots with suits.

These days, the internet #menswear set has largely adopted these and similar ‘quirks’ as a method to attract social media followers, which in our humble opinion, does not have the immediate result of making the adopter stylish. Neither does simply buying everything in the outfit grid pictured above, but we all have to start somewhere – particularly when it’s nearing springtime, and we’re all looking forward to shaking out the lightweight wardrobe and getting on with getting outside.

My point is that part of being stylish is rolling with your own quirks, rather than adopting someone else’s. And one – slightly quirky – look I have always favored is a tailored upper half with a more casual trouser-and-shoe combination. I tend to do this in the name of “utility,” though I understand that many see this as a poor argument against elegance. However, when springtime muddiness comes around, I can’t think of a better excuse to wear boots like Agnelli than because everything turns to mud. And that, my friends, is a time of year when it’s not a bad idea to wear hiking boots.

Think of the above as a starting point for developing your own style. You may not like the way everything in our grid looks together, but it may spark some creativity in you. Perhaps you like the look of the cement-colored Mackintosh raincoat as an alternative to a classic navy. Perhaps you favor the idea of pairing slim cargo trousers with a lightweight, easy-wearing, tailored jacket. And perhaps you salivate at the thought of wearing said jacket with a pair of Danner Mountain Pass boots.

Or, if you’re stuck on winter scarves but at a loss for what to do when the weather starts to warm, consider a floral-print stole such as this one from Paikaji, with a lovely hibiscus-print. And feel free to a pull out a seasonal fragrance – although these things are personal, I have always associated Chanel’s Coromandel with cummings’ mud-luscious smell that accompanies spring.

Again, we’re not telling you to do nothing more than dress like Gianni Agnelli. Instead, we hope that these selections help you to encourage or reveal your own quirks. Embrace them! Being stylish doesn’t mean being one of an army of identically well-dressed men. You need to bring something of yourself to the party.


1. Mackintosh Trench Coat

2. Ermenegildo Zegna silk/cashmere/hemp blazer

3. Luigi Borrelli shirt

4. Wings & Horns Bush Pant

5. Danner Mountain Pass boot

6. Paikaji Hibiscus Stole

7. Chanel Coromandel Frangrance

Top 10 Valentine’s Day Netflix Binges

Valentine’s Day sucks.  Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t celebrate your undying love, nor even to not celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.  However, the day itself sucks.  It’s a money grab, and every even peripherally-related industry knows it.  Roses are about four times the price of roses the day before or the day after, and restaurants change their menus to hackneyed Valentine’s Day menus that are designed to be able to be easy to prep and serve.  Every chef I know hates the Valentine’s Day menu.  None of them want to cook yet another molten chocolate cake.  Do you really want to eat food that is cooked with that degree of hate?

No, of course not.   Choose love, choose life.  Choose to stay in and netflix and chill.  Literally.  Here’s my list of the top 10 Valentine’s Day Netflix binges.  Your date night can wait until the 15th.

  1. Daredevil (Netflix)

    Starring that guy from Numbers, and also Hannibal (Charlie Cox), the first and second seasons of this adaptation of Marvel’s blind ninja-like superhero mixes complex characters with a somewhat convoluted, but still generally compelling, narrative.  It also features some of the best fight scenes since, well, Old Boy, which inspires single take fight scene in a hallways full of henchmen.  The Valentine’s Day tie-in: the muddled relationships between the main characters.

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  2. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

    This adaptation of Piper Kerman’s novel is a bit less gritty than the memoir, and a lot less “authentic,” but that goes for pretty much any adaptation.  No one really wants a police procedural in which a moose wandering in the park is the main crisis, anyway.  The later seasons get a bit flabby, and then bam, you are hit with a doozy of a season.  Of course, in the memoir, the protagonist is in the system for two years.  So, to fill out so many episodes, either she has to get stuck in the clank for much longer, or things just happen at a frenetic pace in prison.  Romance?  It’s a choice between Jason Biggs and Laura Prepon.  C’mon now.  Of course, then you get a season of Ruby Rose.

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  3. The Walking Dead (AMC)

    The Hospital Scene in the very first episode of the series, when Rick wakes up from coma into a world that has taken a decided change for the worse, still resonates.  It’s hard to describe the awesomeness that is the first two seasons, and “survivors navigate lawless, zombie-ridden America” seems somehow inadequate to describe one of the best shows of the decade.  Enjoy  the first two seasons as our protagonists navigate couples counseling in the zombie apocalypse.

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  4. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix)

    This was much anticipated, and it doesn’t disappoint.  At least, not the first few episodes.  No spoilers, please (my kids finished this one well before me). The show follows the three talented and precocious Baudelaire children, who constantly outsmart the villainous, vain, and only semi-competent Count Olaf, who is after their vast fortune following a mysterious house fire that apparently claims the lives of their parents.  The series plays out like a collaboration between Wes Anderson and Tim Burton, and it’s really an excuse – I mean vehicle – for Neil Patrick Harris to ham it up.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  5. Narcos (Netflix)

    I thought I was practicing my Spanish, but it seems that the joke is on me. Apparently, Wagner Moura, who plays Columbian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, speaks terrible Spanish. Nonetheless, he gives an amazing performance that is charismatic and terrifying, and sometimes, touching.  Besides, the series is visually stunning.  The entire show drips the heat and the fecundity of jungles and blood, although I think that the setting never moves further north than Miami).

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  6. Black Mirror

    This is the American release of a British anthology set in a dystopian near-future (or even a future-now).  That it’s an anthology means that unlike the other, character-driven series I’ve been recommending, it will be easier to stop watching so that you can get to more Valentine-y activities.  Note: if you are looking to engage in after-the-show intimacies, maybe skip the pig-fornicating (really) episode.  Unless you like that type of stuff.

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  7. Justified (FX, on Amazon Prime – I know, I know)

    If ever there was an American hero, it would be Timothy Oliphant’s Raylan Givens.  That is to say, he embodies being crap at relationships while being hyper-competent at his job, which he demonstrates by acting constantly insubordinate in the name of efficacy and efficiency.  In other words, he sucks at relationships, but that’s okay because he is a badass who gets things done and is a rugged individualist who has no time for bureaucracy.  Also, he is great with one-liners.  If you have ever dreamed of being this hardcore even once, this show is for you.

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  8. Shameless (Showtime)

    Robert H. Macy plays the drunken, narcissistic, father of a large Irish family in South Chicago.  The family copes with the turd pie life serves to them, as well with all the romantic, legal, and other mad troubles they get themselves into.  What’s to not like?  It’s like your family, but with much better acting.  Plus, you have Emmy Rossum as Fiona, the oldest sibling.  The show is worth showing for that alone.

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  9. The Leftovers (HBO – on Amazon Prime)

    What if 2% of the population of the world suddenly disappeared?  The Leftovers explores the world after something that could be the rapture.  On Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to love, counteract all those gooey, icky feelings with a marathon spent watching of a show dedicated to the themes of isolation, grief, and disorientation.

    Valentine's Day Netflix

  10. Westworld (HBO – on Amazon Prime)

    In Westworld, androids called “hosts” cater to the whims of the paying customers, or “guests,” in a virtual western setting.  But what happens when the hosts start to realize that maybe not everything is as it seems?  You can see this as a treatise on artificial intelligence.  Or, it could just be a fun and scary science fiction show.   This was one of the HBO’s biggest names of 2016, and for good reason.

    Valentine's Day Netflix


There you go.  Hours and hours of passive consumption.  After all of that, you should have at least some energy left.  Enjoy yourself.

Here’s What Women Want You to Wear on Valentine’s Day

They say a well-tailored suit is to a woman what lingerie is to men.

I wholeheartedly agree with that, if by “well-tailored suit” we mean a lightweight, effortless, Neapolitan-style suit in an interesting color combination.

Perhaps it’s the Italian blood pumping in my veins, but I love a man that is confident enough to pull off a spezzato and walk into a room and throw his cashmere coat on top of something, suede loafers softly tapping on the ground (I’m still not over the crush on my ex-Latin professor. Don’t judge me).

However, a suit is not the only garment that can cause hormonal upheaval in women. Here’s a shortlist of my favorite menswear items:

  • A Turtleneck
    I believe that there is a science behind my love for turtlenecks. The fact that they protect one of the most delicate parts of the human body triggers in me the idea that the man wearing it is sensible and vulnerable – my favorite type of people. The fabric rolls gently on that spot between the jawline and the ear that is made to whisper secrets and give furtive, breathless kisses. Plus, the Italian word for “turtleneck” is dolcevita. Need I say more?

 

  • A Black Leather Jacket
    I like a man wearing a black motorcycle leather jacket for the exact opposite reason I like a man wearing a roll-neck sweater. It screams confidence, and it gives off an attitude women cannot resist. We all pretend not to be submitted to the charm of an asshole, but the reality is that, while in our minds we swear we would never fall for someone like this (“Who, him? That pretentious, self-centered, reckless egomaniac?”) he is already smoking his #cigaftersex.

 

  • Imperfection
    I know I’m walking on eggshells here, but I’d like to stress the point that perfection is not sexy, and neither is an obsession with clothes and how they fit. Please understand that no woman will ever be up at night thinking “Sacrè Bleu! That half-break on his suit pants was so neat!” or “Hell, that blazer had no pulling whatsoever,” nor will any woman ever cradle the fantasy of involving your tailor in a hot ménage à trois. If you really want your suit to look sexy, throw it against a wall right after buying it, and don’t show up without a glass of whiskey in one hand and a cubano in the other. Ties are hot only when they’re loosened up and don’t squeeze your neck to the point your eyes look like they’re about to pop out any minute, but just FYI, when it comes to going at it, they’re the male equivalent of a bra: we never know where to start taking off the damn thing.

 

@AriannaReggio

Why the Polo Coat is the Only Coat You’ll Ever Need

“Whatcha got under there?” 

I’m on a sidewalk on Drumm and Market, in front of the Hyatt Regency, where the temperature in December hovers around the mid-40s.  Today is especially frigid, especially for us thin-blooded San Franciscans, and many are forced to bundle in their warmest getups.  All levels of formality and style are represented: the athleisure down puffer (the Michelin Man), the fleece jacket (the Undergrad); and various versions of a semi-water resistant, multi-pocketed, Thinsulate-filled jacket with a detachable hood – or what I like to call the Indiana Car Coat, named after the native soil of the kind soul that gave me a similar impossibly ugly jacket before I moved from California to New York.  All these, mind you, are being worn over suits.  And here I am in a polo coat.  Which I am wearing over a suit, a shirt, a tie, and of course, to answer to the trite question raised by the passerby, underwear.

Dress overcoats to keep out the cold come in many variations, but the polo coat is arguably the most charming.  The paletot has swagger but looks awkward with the lapels folded up, the balmacaan  oozes rustic charm but is a shapeless blob, the chesterfield’s velvet collar relegates it to costume, and the ulster, with its practical double breasted closure, utilitarian collar, and flapped patch pockets, is pretty much as perfect as you can get.  Why is the polo coat, which is essentially a camel-colored ulster, so great?

“Man, I need me one of those.  It just looks so cozy.”  So says a passerby dressed in denim jeans and a flannel shirt.  The idea of throwing a polo coat with such an outfit sounds incongruous, but therein lies the secret of the polo coat’s success: it goes with practically everything.  Way back in 1935, Esquire carried an ad for a camel’s hair polo coat that cost $32.50, or about $480 in today’s dollars (Not bad, considering that Polo Ralph Lauren currently sells theirs for many times that. And it’s not even camel hair).  It was shown with a suit because, well, that’s what dudes wore when they weren’t naked or doing manual labor.  A bit later an article showed how it could be worn, open, with a sportcoat.  Fast forward to now, and the January 2017 issue of GQ showcases Ryan Gosling in a camel coat (close enough) and a white t-shirt.  Which, crazily enough, seems to work (although come on, it’s Ryan Gosling, he can look good in a Marty Feldman mask). 

Said passerby then asks where I purchased my overcoat, which makes me pause for a bit.  I picked mine up at a vintage shop near Canal St. around the time I first moved out to New York, but here and now?  Of course Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers have an iteration of the polo coat every year or so, but otherwise a true version is rather hard to come by: double breasted, ulster collar, half-belt and set-in sleeves.  It wasn’t always that way. An old article on art mogul Paul Mellon relates a charming story of the time he ran into a handful of his buddies from Yale at his tailors.  Feeling philanthropic, he offered them all polo coats, on his dime.

Much has already been written about the history of the Polo coat: Bruce Boyer in 1981 reports its history with the eponymous sport, but was it mere nostalgia?  Versions of the Polo coat appeared in The Sting in 1973 and American Gigolo in 1980, and for the next ten years the camel-colored “Aristocrat of Coats” would be promoted in Ralph Lauren advertisements.  Double breasted anything fell out of favor in the 1990s, and for a while the anemic topcoat was the only option available.  Camel-hair topcoats have been around forever (this 1933 Esquire article starts off by saying they’ve been around “longer than dumb undergraduates”), but fortunately pictures from the recent Pitti Uomo featured quite a few double breasted overcoats, so it’s nice to see some guys starting to come around.  Just the other day, as a matter of fact, I spotted a double-breasted suit on the KRON 4 news.  On the weather guy

Get yourself a camel polo coat with a classic ulster collar and martingale belt and throw it over anything, from a suit to a turtleneck, buttoned or unbuttoned (see pics for more inspiration).  You’ll be pleasantly surprised how often you reach for it.

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The 3 Wildest Brands at Pitti Uomo 91

In addition to some of the best classic menswear brands, the best accessories, and the all-around best brands, period, Pitti plays host to some crazy and crazily impressive work. Here are three of the wildest brands at Pitti Uomo 91, brought to you by the discerning eye of Arianna Reggio.


OLD RANDA

One of the makers that impressed me the most at Pitti was Old Randa. Andrea, the creative mind behind the brand, caught my eye with his eclectic style. With his thin figure, the arms covered in tattoos, and the slim, straight moustache, he made me think that, if Baudelaire had been alive in 2017, that’s exactly what he would look like.

Since I am an incredibly frivolous person and I tend to dedicate attention to people with charm, I immediately approached Andrea to find out if his creations were as compelling as his style.

This is how I got swallowed up in a spiral of art, history, and tradition that almost left me overwhelmed as if I were drunk.

Andrea is a patina master, which means that he specializes in the art of dyeing leather. Because of his strong personality and his personal background (he worked in theater before dedicating his time to the Old Randa project) his creations are rather unique. Think Bontoni shoes tripping on acid.

Bright colors, such as absinthe green, bright purple, and mustard yellow, are combined using no apparent logic, and they make the shoes look like the skin of exotic, venomous animals.

I pointed at a pair of brogues that looked as if they were coated in the red marble adorning the Medici chapel in Florence.

“Ah, those!” said Andrea with a smile. “I dye them using wine must.”

As it always happens when I hear the word “wine,” I pricked up my ears.

“I retrieved an ancient recipe for making wine in the Ancient Rome. I dip the shoes in the must using an amphorae until they’re almost completely black, and then I polish away the excess until beauty is revealed.”

Then he flipped the shoes to expose the sole, and I was, if possible, even more blown away. On the leather sole of the shoe was impressed the strange figure of an animal; Andrea explained that he has always been fascinated by the drawings of ancient European explorers, who, coming back from their adventures, would try to illustrate the exotic, unknown animals such as lions, peacocks, elephants, and crocodiles. Because these representations were solely based on the memory of the explorers, they were incredibly inaccurate, and looking at them today they seem the drawings of mythological creatures.

I collected Jasper, who didn’t get a single word of the conversation – which was in Italian – and I walked away asking myself if this encounter really happened or I was still getting over last night’s prosecco.  Or if this whole Pitti thing was a dream, and I had just woken up to find out I was at some batshit crazy contemporary art vernissage in Copenhagen.

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FRANCESCO MAGLIA

Francesco Maglia is a big, ruddy man that, if it wasn’t for his perfectly tailored clothes, could easily be mistaken for Santa Claus. I timidly peeked inside their booth attracted by the varicolored umbrellas sprouting from rudimental metal tins, and Francesco Maglia literally dragged me inside and introduced me to his little crew – which were all family members.

“Hello, my dear,” he solemnly said, “I am Francesco V, and this is Francesco VI, my son.”

“Oh.” That’s pretty much everything I managed to say, partly because I was trying to figure out if the guy was shitting me, and partly because my hand had started to go numb in his vise.

“So…what’s going on here? You guys make some pretty awesome umbrellas,” I said, deciding that adulation is always a safe option. Besides, their umbrellas really are quite amazing: they look sturdy and practical, but with a range of colors and shapes that denote careful research in aesthetics. I would say that they’re the type of umbrellas I wouldn’t mind using to beat up a mugger on the bus, only to clamorously open it in a dramatic gesture a minute later and walk away in style, chin to the sky.

“We, young lady,” said Francesco V in his deep, low voice, “We are some of the best umbrella makers in the world.”

I stared at him for a long moment, finding myself speechless again. He said that in such a calm, confident way that I believed him immediately. He proceeded without giving me the time to process the information.

“Everything we sell is exclusively made in our workshop. We are a five-generation umbrella makers and we still use the same methods and processes that Francesco I used when he opened the workshop. Each umbrella requires more than 70 steps to make.

“You like that?” he asked, noticing I was eyeing a beautiful umbrella in cobalt blue.

“It’s really nice,” I replied sincerely, “The wood seems quite solid!”

“It is. It’s a single piece of wood. A whole branch of walnut, actually.”

Francesco went on explaining how they only use the best wood branches to make their handles, and how laborious the process is.

“First, you have to select the branches. Then, you have to straighten them, and that requires a lot of time – up to 6 months – during which the maker steams the wood and softens it in order to bend it to the correct shape.”

I suddenly felt reverential respect for this man, who was clearly passionate about his profession and was taking the time to illustrate his art to me. It broke me a little when his face changed to a sadder expression as he told me that people don’t seem to care about quality anymore.

“People don’t understand that an umbrella like this is an heirloom piece that will last through more than one generation, because my umbrellas simply don’t break. My sister has had hers for over 30 years, and we just recently replaced the canopy: it looks like new again.

“The demand is so low that we had to come to terms with some of our offerings; for example, we are no longer able to offer silk as a choice.  Our fabric is now a blend of cotton, silk, and wool.”

His big smile came back as soon as I told him that I work for a menswear forum (it took a while before he understood what that was) where quality is not only appreciated, but also worshipped like a goddess, and I promised to introduce his brand to the community.

I walked away after one last, vigorous handshake that thankfully didn’t make my $3 Hello Kitty umbrella fall off my tote bag. That would have been embarrassing.

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ESSENZIALMENTE LAURA

Since both Jasper and I have the sense of direction of a blind mole in a maze, we found ourselves lost in the main pavilion more than once trying to find the shopping area, which was supposed to be a pretty big deal this year. During one of our aimless wanderings, we ended up in the area dedicated to maîtres parfumeurs, as in: the beauty section.

Honestly, I feel pretty at ease around beauty aisles, so I suggested going through them in hope to find the shops and maybe even a perfume to bring home as a souvenir.

“But…what does beauty have to do with Pitti Uomo?” objected Jasper.

Oh, God. Men. Always asking irrelevant questions.

“Aren’t you a big connoisseur of fragrances yourself?”

“Yes, but…is this a good use of our time?”

I stared at my colleague in dismay: he succeeded in the attempt of making me feel more guilty than my husband ever has.

“Fine. Let’s go this way, perhaps we will find the…”

“Ohh, look! Roses!” breathed Jasper, waltzing towards the stand of Essenzialmente Laura, which had rows upon rows of elegant perfume bottles protected by crystal cloches.

I followed him to the stand, where a woman was elegantly waving her hand, spraying perfume all around.

“This is Mystic Rose,” she said smiling at us. “It’s part of our collection dedicated to the Bible.

“Roses are a biblical symbol of wisdom and purity. The thorns represent the sins, and the Church itself is oftentimes represented with a rose. Do you like it?”

Jasper seemed pleased with the smell of Mystic Rose, so the woman showed us the rest of the Bible collection.

“This is Incense of the Churches of Rome,” she announced, spraying off the fragrance on a piece of paper and handing it to us.

“It smells…like a church,” I commented stupidly, but I did mean what I said. If you ever entered a big cathedral in Europe – whether it’s Notre Dame or St. Peter’s, you know what I’m referring to: that smell of melted wax, incense, and wood has probably been the same for centuries. It is actually not unpleasant: it instantly brought me back to my trip to Bruges, when I had one of the most intense sensorial experiences of my life. I was walking down the aisle of the enormous cathedral in the central square of the city, and someone started playing the harp in a little hidden chapel. If you have never heard the sound of a harp resonating through the marble walls of a church, let me tell you: it was the most poetical sound my ears have ever perceived, and even if I chased it desperately in hundreds of harp concerts after that day, I was never able to grasp that celestial melody again. It was one, ephemeral moment of pure beauty, and it’s lost forever.

That’s what I was thinking when I smelled Incense of the Churches of Rome: I felt grateful for the privilege of having shared the stage with Beauty one day many years ago, in a semi-desert church in Belgium inundated with the morning light.

Perhaps it’s not a perfume I would wear on a daily basis, but the melancholy those notes of incense instilled in me is more precious than the average “I’d have sex with myself” fragrance.

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So here we are! Hopefully you enjoyed reading about the more unconventional people and brands that populate Pitti Uomo. Watching the photos online and reading about it on fashion magazines and blogs doesn’t even begin to explain the variety of incredible personalities that you can encounter. If you take the time to talk to them, they’ll tell you stories – their stories – that will transcend the menswear field, and you’ll find yourself wondering if you really should be listening to these mad individuals rather than concentrating on the clothes and the products.

Oh, but you can’t help that,” whispers a voice in my head: “We’re all mad here.

The 2 Coolest Brands at Pitti Uomo 91

This year, we went to Pitti with an open mind. New brands awaited. New collections! We saw much, and much that we saw was good. And as hard as it is to see thousands of vendors, let alone pick favorites from among them, we’ve narrowed our top picks down to just two brands – one streetwear, one classic menswear. Part of that is because in addition to looking great, being made to a high standard, and offering a compelling viewpoint in a saturated market, both of these brands have that something special – and by something special, we mean style.


Streetwear: De Bonne Facture

Although still a young brand, De Bonne Facture is no longer a newcomer. We visited their showroom last year, which you can read about here, and they’re now stocked in multiple countries, as well as across the US. Despite the modest growth (and despite LeBron apparently appearing at least once in the knitwear), De Bonne Facture remains married to two things: the first is Déborah’s (the designer) almost manic insistence on quality. I have to say, it’s almost distressing to examine a garment at Pitti and not see a single errant stitch or thread – but it speaks to the exacting standards to which the clothes are manufactured.

The second defining characteristic of De Bonne Facture is harder to quantify, and it’s also a big part of the reason we’ve selected it. Personally, I’m convinced it has something to do with Déborah herself. Arianna did mention her briefly, but she does have a strange magic about her. Part of me thinks that De Bonne Facture is so good primarily because Déborah wills it, in a Jedi kind of way – althou perhaps it’s as simple (and as socially complex) as having excellent taste. She’s unapologetic, and firmly herself, and the garments reflect both those traits. She also wears her own clothing most of the time, and tells me she’s frustrated when people ask if and when she’ll make a women’s collection. In her words, she already does – De Bonne Facture is not so much unisex in the way of early 00’s names like Rad Hourani, but rather almost sexless. The clothes are so successful simply as objects that they don’t require a clothes-hanger-thin model to show them off.

What’s certain is that Déborah has an eye for matching materials with garments. Everything feels right – all the pieces have an appropriate heft; you’re not thinking “If only” about any of the details. When you try on the coats, the pockets are wear they should be. The shoulders sit well. Similarly, the trousers are cut to go with shoes or sneakers. The accessories aren’t an afterthought so much as a well-considered finishing touch. Even the jeans, which in the past Déborah has told me they only made because “Everyone has to make a jean,” are dyed in natural indigo and cut with a slight carrot shape that fits perfectly with the silhouette echoed across the collection.

Speaking of the collection, there are a few new pieces that are absolute standouts. One is a robe coat done in a highly textured wool-blend, and as much as I’d love to take credit for inspiring said garment during our last visit, I admit that I’m not that influential. Either way, it’s beautiful, with a nice heft that makes it drape very nicely. The other piece is a suede varsity-style jacket lined in cream shearling which really has to be seen to be appreciated. Otherwise, you can expect high-quality knits (inspired by traditional shapes but well updated), comfortable trousers, and really (truly) nice shirts and even henleys.

Ultimately, De Bonne Facture is special in part because of the restraint the garments show. As usual, the clothes retain their classic, muted colors. Navy and camel have been joined by a light clay color that lends itself particularly well to outerwear. Everything is nicely textured without being overwrought, and the details that are included (such as a special loop, taken from an old military coat, that keeps the belt on the new robe coat in place) don’t feel extraneous or intrusive. They are, like Déborah herself, uncompromising, and I can’t wait to see how the brand grows.

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Classic Menswear: Camoshita

Camoshita is, by this point, a household name on Styleforum. As is Yasuto Kamoshita, who – I swear – is, every single day, the best-dressed man at Pitti Uomo. The guy is a legend – there are plenty of men at Pitti Uomo who I would describe as “well-dressed,” but very few who are “elegant.” Yasuto Kamoshita is the latter.

So are his clothes. Camoshita, despite being something of a love letter to – simultaneously – Ivy style and the golden age of Hollywood, possesses an innate sense of playfulness that’s very modern. It’s tailored clothing that’s relaxed, not just in silhouette – Camoshita regularly plays with loose, comfortable shapes – but in style. For example, a knit wool hoody worn under a plaid field jacket and over a band-collar shirt looks perfectly at home next to a double-breasted suit.

I always look forward to seeing the Camoshita booth. And it’s not just because the clothes are nice, but that the experience of seeing them is so well thought out. Many brands at Pitti only have the space or inclination to present a rack of clothing for you to sift through. Camoshita, by contrast, is overrun with lovingly-styled displays of the clothing. I’m not even really a #menswear guy, and it’s menswear heaven. It was one of two brands – the other being Snow Peak – where Arianna was compelled to mention that we didn’t need a picture of every detail on every garment, and could we please go somewhere else now.

Unfortunately, the light inside the booth is still not the greatest for pictures, but we’ve tried to snap a few for you (by we, I mean Arianna), and perhaps you can at the very least get a sense of the silhouette – a loose, almost egg shape on top – primarily through the slightly oversized outerwear, and a slim but relaxed trouser on the bottom made up the bulk of the offerings. In particular, I appreciate that there’s no single decade that Camoshita presents, in the way that other brands have collections devoted to 90’s style, or 50’s-style suiting, or that sort of thing. Although you can look at the collection and see some reference points – is that Dick Tracy over there? – nothing is even remotely costumey, and everything has been elevated with pleasantly modern fits and finishes.

Again, it’s the ineffable that pushed Camoshita into our top pick. The way it all works seamlessly together, the way the fabrics and cuts are considered, even down to the way it’s styled – all in all, Camoshita is a collection in the truest (fashion) sense of the word. It stands alone, reliant only on itself and some good ol’ romance, and it sure as hell impresses.

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Despite being, in many respects, drastically different, both Camoshita and De Bonne Facture share the same sense of being much more than the sum of their parts. That said, they’re also similar in that each part is beautiful in and of itself. They ooze style – not just in the way they look, but the way they feel and what they stand for. For now, feel free to tell us which of the two brands you’d rather wear every day – and if you visited Pitti, what you thought the standouts were.

The Best Accessories at Pitti Uomo 91

The Best Accessories Brands at Pitti Uomo

1. Ana Lemata

Ana Lemata is less a milliner than a textile artist who happens to make hats – and “passionate” doesn’t begin to describe her approach to her craft. Her hats are by turns whimsical, elegant, and romantic, ranging from traditional designs to hats that are barely recognizable as hats until they’re worn.

Ana was trained by the former milliner to Queen Mother Elizabeth of England, though she also carries a Ph.D in art history. Both skill and knowledge are on display in all her wares, and one gets the feeling that her hats wouldn’t be out of place in the Guggenheim Bilbao. But don’t let the incredible artistry fool you – these hats, made of materials such as beaver felt, vicuna, and straw – are made to last as long as the wearer, with proper care. And, while there are a host of ready-made options available upon inquiry, Ana relishes the opportunity to make bespoke hats for discerning clients.

If you’re in the market for something hand-made, unique, and sure to bring you years of happiness, you should act soon – currently, Ana’s prices are almost criminally low considering the materials used and the amount of work that goes into each piece.

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2. PB 0110

One of the most interesting pieces we saw at Pitti was this undyed leather backpack by PB 0110. This is a German brand that manufactures primarily sleek, modern leather accessories; very much in the vein of Scandinavian design but with a slightly more streetwear bent to them. What that means is that instead of rigid perfection you get a product with a bit more personality than the stereotypically featureless accessories people still tend to associate with ubiquitous minimalism.

Like most of the companies that show at Pitti, PB 0110 is eager to tout the lasting quality of its products. Normally, I’m wary of these claims, but pictures of well-used leather bags suggest that perhaps there’s more than marketing spin to the statements.

Though the articles are available in a range of colors and styles, the undyed leathers are probably the stand-out. Perfect for lugging around your rolls of dead-stock denim and small-batch-roasted coffee beans.

3. The Bespoke Dudes Eyewear

If you spend any time involved in the #menswear community online, you’ve probably heard of The Bespoke Dudes – or at least of the founder, Fabio Attanasio, who’s a veritable Instagram celebrity. The eyewear is based on classic – mostly 50’s and 60’s – styles, but updated for a more modern look. Every pair, whether wire or acetate, is manufactured and hand-finished in Italy, and if nothing else it’s a great alternative to the Luxottica behemoth. Of course, you’ll have to make sure the shapes and widths work for your face, but the details, lenses, and finishes may just pull you away from that free pair of sunnies you keep in your car’s cupholder.

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4. La Portegna

We’ve been singing the praises of La Portegna since at least 2014, and nothing has changed our appreciation for these lightweight travel goods and accessories. While in years past the offerings were very voyage-focused, La Portegna has expanded somewhat to include a wider range of women’s goods, along with shoes and sneakers for both sexes. The latter being, as José told me, a natural extension of the brand, despite (his words) the ubiquity of minimal sneakers.

To me, the appeal of La Portegna is how good the products feel in the hand, and how comforting it is to bring them with you on a daily – or irregular – basis. The designs and leathers continue to be attractive to both the eye and the hand, and offer a relieving middle ground when one is faced on all sides by heavy leather weekenders and Nylon carryalls. And, to José’s credit, his (leather-soled) espadrilles are the only espadrilles I’ve ever considered wearing.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a backpack in La Portegna’s beautiful and long-wearing ‘Sol’ leather, the wait is over.

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(Disclosure: La Portegna provided Styleforum with sponsored goods for a different project in 2015)

5. Merola

Merola is an old standby of Italian glovemaking, and for good reason. Since 1885, they’ve managed not only to hang on to their manufacturing pedigree, but they’ve adapted their line to fit the needs (and hands) of everyone from Kate Winslet in Titanic to your average guy with a smartphone. Of particular note were the gloves lined with tie silk, which is a touch that I can see many Styleforum members finding attractive – and comfortable. The materials and linings remain sumptuous, the finishing top-notch, and the number of styles available mean it’s pretty likely that you’ll be able to find something to keep your hands both warm and stylish, whether you’re riding a vintage bicycle or just nonchalantly stuffing your gloves in the pocket of your overcoat.

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