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About Fok-Yan Leung

Fok is an owner of Styleforum. He abuses his authority regularly. Once, he persuaded Arianna to eat a chalupa, something she will never forgive. He wears heavy leather and denim, just in case the zombie apocalypse starts when he is writing an article.

Styleforum’s “I forgot and I need something right now” Last Minute Christmas Gift Guide for men.

At this time, as Christmas approaches, I start to get antsy.  There is invariably gifts I forgot to send.  There is the always welcome “Send Paypal” option, but if you want to actually send something overnight, or close to, a few retailers are pretty reliable for this.  Unfortunately, this limits you to the “big boys”, big online retailers that can deliver reliably three days or less.  Among these are the giant, Amazon, and then big specialty retailers like Matches Fashion (which ships usually in under 3 days to the US from the UK), and Mr. Porter, which is offering free overnight shipping until Christmas for the real procrastinators.

Here are a few gift ideas that will still get under the Christmas tree in time for the big reveal. 

For your father: A Brooks Brothers Signature Tartan Travel Case

Fathers can be hard to shop for.  My father claims that he doesnt need any stuff.  But I’m sure that he still shaves and brushes his teeth.  And when he travels, I’m pretty sure that this subdued leather and tartan travel case will keep both his razor and his toothbrush in better shape than would that little plastic ziplock bag that TSA insists encases his toothpaste and deodorant. 

For your significant other/better half:  A Barack Obama Pendleton Blanket $370 at matchesfashion.com

Apparently, and I did not know this, but the marriage between Michelle and Barack Obama (Remember that guy? Liked basketball, asked for Dijon mustard on his cheeseburgers, wore mom jeans, from a few years back?) is lauded as a #relationshipgoal.  I had no idea until my social media manager told me.  Anyway, that gave me the idea that a good last minute gift for your significant other might be a Barack Obama Pendleton blanket – , available only, as far as I can tell, from UK online retailer Matches Fashion, which ships to pretty much anywhere in the US at lightspeed.  Not an Obama fan?  Not a worry, it’s just a really cool Pendleton blanket with a traditional black design that will keep you both cozy.

For your sanity: Master & Dynamic MH40 wireless headphones, $550 at MrPorter.com. 

I actually got this idea from one of wife’s colleague, who uses headphones to keep out the looped Christmas playlist that pervades all public spaces this time of year.  I personally love Christmas music, but I hate Christmas travel, and I hate it even more when people try to talk to you on the plane.  So, stick these on, and close your eyes, and they won’t even try.

For your mother: Cire Trudon candles, $71-83 each on Matchesfashion.com

There are a lot, and I mean, a lot, of candle companies out there, and you might be tempted to buy your mother that very modern candle that has gasoline base notes and is housed in an all black ceramic holder.  Unless you know that your mother is really into that, it’s better to stick with more traditional scents like sandalwood, cedar, jasmine, rose, incense, citrus, and so on, that have appealed to our olfactory sense for centuries.  Cire Trudon, France’s oldest candlemaker, made the candles for Napoleon’s wedding, so you are unlikely to go wrong. Plus, the traditional royal blue or moss green with gold crest add a festive touch.  If you get four, Matches fashion packs them very nicely in a set.

For your brother: Quoddy Shearling lined Fireside mocassins, $180 from MrPorter.com

Buying footwear as a gift is fraught with danger.  Shoe sizes vary across the board, as do feet.  A rare exception to this are slippers, houseshoes, and moccassins.  There is no requirement that they will be a perfect fit, unless you are doing some seriously questionable things in your lounge clothes.  These will keep feet warm all winter long, and since they are outfitted with a lightweight Vibram sole, will even allow you brother to go out onto his porch with his coffee and decide that nah, shovelling the driveway can wait a few hours.

And there we have it.  Five gifts that will save your hide and your sanity too boot.  Go forth and be a gift giving winner rather than whatever sorry state you might be in right now.

An ode and a guide to tapered jeans


The first pair of “raw” denim jeans I saw that were not my father’s Levi’s Orange tabs ($29.95 at Zellers back in 1980) were Helmut Lang’s “Narrow” and “Straight” cuts, which I stumbled across the Beverly Hills Barneys in 1998. The hems of both seemed improbably tight and unfashionable to me at that time, when 16-18” hems were the norm, and the $300+ price was prohibitive to a graduate student without a trust fund.

A few years later, the North American premium denim movement, which started in LA, where the bulk of denim manufacturing is located, began in earnest. My personal favorites were Scott Morrison’s first brand, Paper Denim & Cloth, which was revolutionary for its time; and Levi’s Premium, among the first of Levi’s many attempts to gain a fresh foothold in the new fashion landscape. In the early 2000s Scandinavian brands, led by Nudie, gained a following in North America, helped by representation from the super agency WANT. During my honeymoon in Spain, finding Nudies in Madrid was a major goal, and I dragged my new wife on a several-hour walk just to find the small boutiques I was interested in – I know that more of you sympathize with this than would care to. ACNE (also represented by WANT) were the next to gain popularity in the US. My Norwegian friends told me that in Scandinavia, Nudie were for the douche-bro crowd, and ACNE was the jean of choice for the less objectionable, but my loyalty to Nudie – at this point ingrained – didn’t waver.

These were all gateway drugs to the Japanese denim that had been popular in Japan a decade earlier. In usual form the States were a decade behind, but our interests were stoked by retailers like Self Edge and Blue in Green, who were as much a product of the times as they were the flag bearers. Like everyone else swept up in the trend, I agonized over shrinking, stretching, and the much-sought-after wear marks, which Babelfish awesomely translated from the Japanese as “vertical falling.” Those were heady days for the raw denim crowd. Ultimately, I came to the realization – as did all of my denim-nerd peers – that forcing yourself to wait six months before washing a pair of jeans is madness. I always thought that the sizing-down-so-that-the-jeans-stretch-out stance was a terrible idea, so I didn’t have to learn that lesson at the cost of the months – even years – of testicular pain, that so many others paid.

Today, my denim collection resembles an archaeological dig site that spans the past 15 years and has its beginning with the premium denim trend of the very early 00s. And while I am sure that my preferences will continue to evolve, I’m at the point at which comfort, or at the very least, not-extreme-discomfort, will always be a consideration. This means that the recommendations below have some breathing room through the seat front and thighs, and hit comfortably at the hipbone. Since tapered is still the standard, both are slimmer from the knee down. Generally, I like the feeling of heft in my jeans – no paper-light stretchy jeggings for me – but super heavy jeans are never all that comfortable, so jeans between 13.5 and 17 ounces, light enough to be nimble, heavy enough to have some real power, hit that sweet spot.

If you’ve got big thighs, check out this article on Jeans for Men with Big Thighs

“Slim tapered” jeans from Big John’s “Rare” line have the minimalist trappings of designer jeans – a plain, midnight blue, deerskin indigo back patch, a placketless fly, and no gratuitous branding; and they are cut not unlike the Helmut Lang jeans that I used to think were too narrow at the hem, with a mid-rise and a tapered leg. But they are made from inky “Ransei” denim (meaning “king of denims”), which is the highest quality denim made by Japan’s “first” Americana-inspired denim brand and is designed to fade in an extremely attractive manner. I hesitate to describe them as versatile, since that’s only a few steps away from suggesting that they will go from “the boardroom to the bar,” but I will say that all of the very different people to whom I’ve recommended them have liked them.

BIG JOHN Slim tapered jeans, 14 oz raw denim - via No Man Walks Alone

BIG JOHN Slim tapered jeans, 14 oz raw denim – via No Man Walks Alone

The other pair I frequently wear are even more of an amalgam of the trends of the last fifteen years than the Big Johns: a collaborative project (collaborations went from novel to ubiquitous between 2003 and 2006) from American retailer Blue Owl and Japanese manufacturer Momotaro; the very precisely-named (and discontinued) BOM005 (the closest analog is now the BOM008). The “modern,” mid-rise, tapered cut is borrowed from its sister brand, Japan Blue, and the heavy denim appeals to both denimheads and fashion customers alike, with weft threads (the colored threads in a jean) that are nearly black when first worn, and fade to a dark indigo with wear. They also have a black leather patch – plain or tonal patches seem to be popular with the minimalist set these days – and instead of the typical contrast stitching, the thread is tonal save for the single line of pink running along the inseam.

These two pairs take me through most days. Not a decade ago, I would have recommended a much lower rise, tighter jean, possibly in the heavier denim. Those cuts and weights still exist, and there is always a race towards the heaviest possible denim, but as a retailer once said about super heavy (18-ounce and greater) denim, “that’s for kids.” I do have a pair of 23-ounce jeans that I wear when I get nostalgic for the age of sick fades, though. Jeans, after all, are about the memories.

The best Christmas gifts for your significant other and for you

That time of year has come again: you need a gift guide to buy a present for the woman in your life. Last January, you resolved to make notes about the things that she seemed really interested in but did not buy. And then at the end of November, you would just pick the best few things, an interesting mix that showed not just that you care and are attentive, but that you also have range and diversity and are full of good taste. But, just like last year (and the year before that, but there is no need to rub it in, I know) you are scrambling now, with under 10 shopping days, for a lifeline.

It’s all good. Styleforum is here to take the stress out of this situation for you. Remember Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction? Mr. “I fix problems?” So do we, and you won’t even need to get all bloody in the process. But hurry. While, at the time of writing, rush shipping can get all of these to you in time to put them under the tree, wait too long, and you might end up having to write an IOU, which, ime, is usually not well received.

Also, you’ve done some good work this year. You deserve something too. In this gift guide, for each gift we recommend for your sig O, we are recommending something for you. Either drop a hint (a browser opened up prominently to the item in mind is a good bet) or just bypass chance and get it for yourself.


1. Earrings That Make Her Look Like a Golden Age Icon in Her Prime

HERS: Mikimoto Pearl Earrings ($300 and up at Nordstrom)

It’s hard to go wrong with simple, classic, 18 carat gold earrings set with precious stones. The usual names come to mind – Chopard, Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, lets face it, you are not going to wrong. All you need is a fleeting familiarity with Romantic Comedies (jewelry stores are often strategically seen in them, for the obvious reasons), a credit card, and the ability and willingness to use it. If you want to show a little more imagination, maybe go for a set of pearl earrings from Mikimoto. Pearls have a Golden Age of Hollywood appeal, and yes, while you can get a diamond framed pair for tens of thousands of dollars, you can also get a classic white gold set studs for a relatively affordable price

YOURS: GIIN miniature rose boutonniere ($95 from giin.style)

While I am a few eggnogs in right now and tempted to suggest his and hers matching pearl earrings, I’ll instead suggest a GIIN tie pin made of a miniature rose taken apart carefully by a single artisan in Japan, preserved, and then put back together. At $95 for a pin, you should be able to afford it even if you had gone all in with the $11k diamond accented pearl earrings (https://www.mikimotoamerica.com/categories/earrings/twist-white-south-sea-earrings)


2. (It’s not just any) Scented Candle

HERS: Cire Trudon Josephine Candle

I was a guy who, until he got married, owned only one set of tableware and one plate, all of which I had rescued from the Harvard Law School Cafeteria (hey HLS, if you are thinking of suing me, I’d like to remind you that this article is for entertainment purposes only, and that all resemblances to events and persons are purely incidental). But even I knew that candles would romantic up a place. Cire Trudon is one of the oldest extant candle makers in France, established in 1643. Patronized by both the French Court and then Napoleon Bonaparte, the company has had a few years to figure out how to make scented candles. For her, I recommend the Josephine, named after Napoleon’s first wife and empress (https://www.matchesfashion.com/us/products/Cire-Trudon-Jos%C3%A9phine-scented-candle-1087235). It is a complex scent that opens with lime and bergamot, turns to rose and jasmine, and then has base notes of sandalwood and iris. What you have to understand is that it smells good and looks nice in a glass holder with a gold seal. ($75 at Matches Fashion)

YOURS: Cire Trudon Abd El Kader Candle ($83 at Matches Fashion)

If you are going to do a his and hers matching gift, you may as well do it with fancy candles. It’s a big step above matching sweaters. For you, I might recommend the Abd El Kader candle, the scents of which takes inspiration from Algeria’s coast. That alone might stave off the cold.


3. A Luxurious Silk Robe

HERS: Carine Gilson silk Kimono robe (on sale now at net-a-porter) https://www.net-a-porter.com/us/en/product/962602/carine_gilson/chantilly-lace-appliqued-silk-satin-robe

It won’t always be cold. Summer will come again. Or, you can simply fly somewhere warm. Maybe Brazil. In that case, a silk robe will be the perfect coverup in the morning and at night. Carine Gilson is probably the foremost lingerie maker in the world today, working with elegant silks and delicate laces. This is about as good as it gets.

YOURS: Derek Rose Brindisi silk pajamas ($483 at Matches Fashion)

Hey, you’ll probably have to wear something too.


4. A Luxury Watch.

HERS: Chopard Sport Mini Happy Watch ($7040 at the official Chopard store)
No one needs a watch these days, with exceedingly few exceptions. That makes a quality watch that much more indulgent and luxurious. If you are fortunate enough to be able to do so, I would recommend that you get her a Chopard Happy Watch this Christmas. As you may know, Chopard is a Swiss watchmaker and jeweler known for its whimsy. The Happy watch’s iconic moving diamonds on the face of the watch are an example of this approach. I like the smaller faced “sport mini”. The 30 mm face suits smaller wrists, is elegant and sporty at the same time. With a simple face, and adorned only by the moving diamonds, the watch is both beautiful and unfussy.

YOURS: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique Medium ($8640 at the official Jaeger-leCoultre site)

I’ve always liked Jaeger-leCoultre’s Reverso watch, born of impractical solutions to practical problems. Cricket players were finding their watch faces smashed after a vigorous match, so instead of simply taking off their watches like sane people, they instead asked for a watch that could be flipped around so that the face was protected for the duration of the match. Today, there are a variety of JLC Reverso’s. including a duoface, for travelers who can’t be bothered to change the time on their watch. I still like the classique best.


5. Cashmere Loungewear is always a winner

HERS: Arlotta cashmere robe ($450 at Saks Fifth Avenue.)

I have yet to find a woman who does not like the feel of cashmere. Cold winter evenings and mornings alike call for a robe on top of any sleep clothes, and she will appreciate this robe – or at least, my wife does (if and when she wears hers out, I simply get a new one). This is about as failsafe as possible.  Bonus points if you get her cashmere slippers as well.

YOURS: Pendleton “Raven and His Box of Knowledge” Blanket ($295 at Pendleton)

I don’t know about you, but I spend inordinate amounts of time in front of a computer screen. And it gets cold. I also fall in front of the television at night. And when I wake up, my sedentary body feels cold. You get the picture. When you don’t move around, you get cold. In addition to this blanket looking really cool and keeping you warm, you’ll also be helping to support tribal colleges American Indian College Fund (AICF).


6. Iconic Jewelry

HERS: Tiffany Elsa Peretti “bottle” sterling silver necklace ($450 exclusively at Tiffany and Co.)

A lot of people will say that Tiffany’s is so played out. So cliché. After all, who hasn’t seen the blue box? 1) Who cares? It’s Christmas, and you are not that cool. 2) Elsa Peretti was an Italian model who turned to jewelry making. Her designs are full of sensual curves and quite unique. This bottle design is typical and iconic.

 

YOURS: Bottega Veneta Double intrecciato-woven leather bracelet ($350 at Matches Fashion)

Just as iconic Elsa Peretti’s designs is the woven leather of Bottega Veneta.  Too much of it can be ostentatious looking, but a discreet bracelet is just about right.


Bonus tip: Clothing that has numbered sizing is high risk and low reward. Sizing is not only not consistent between brands, but women, like men, hold illusions about their sizing. So just don’t do it unless you embrace the pain.

The 2017 Styleforum Charity Auctions Are Here!

Styleforum charity auctions ronald mcdonald house charity auctions

We are very proud to present this year’s edition of the Styleforum Charity Auctions, this year in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Spokane.

Of all the many traditions we all have, this is the one of which I am most proud. We are holding auctions of items donated by retailers and designers, and 100% of the proceeds to go to the Ronald McDonald House, which helps to house and feed the families of children who must travel for medical treatment. During the holiday season, illness and being away from the comfort of home is especially stressful, and I love that we can help, in a small way, to alleviate some of this stress.

This is our 15 Year Anniversary, and we’d like add to the over $60K donated to charity since the auctions started four years ago! Please subscribe to the thread to keep updated on the daily, 24-hour auctions, and please bid often and generously.

  • Each auction will take 24 hours, starting as close to 10 a.m. PST as I am able to make it, and ending the same time the next day, or 10 minutes after the final bid, whichever comes later.
  • All auctions will start at 50% of the retail price.

If you are a vendor and would like to donate an item for the charity, please email us at styleforum.net@gmail.com

Styleforum charity auctions ronald mcdonald house charity auctions

5 Best Jeans for Men with Big Thighs

One of the most common questions that is asked on the forum – alongside “Where can I buy Common Projects on sale?” – is “How do I clothe my athletic thighs with denim?”  It seems that, while malls across America are well-equipped to outfit the girthier amongst us and fashion brands like Saint Laurent Paris can clothe kale-eating hordes of models, there is a dearth of denim choices for the mesomorphs in our midst: those who begin and end each day with a strong dose of creatine, and whose Instagrams and Snapchats are riddled with words such as “swole” and “gainz.”  Styleforum, alway inclusive, is happy to present the 5 best jeans for men with big thighs: powerlifters, strongman competitors, or those who aspire to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (or just want a pair of jeans with some room in the thigh).

  1. Jeanshop  “Rocker”, $260 at www.jeanshop.com

    I’ve visited the flagship Jean Shop store in lower Manhattan, and like many stores who can trace their genesis to the mid-noughties, it looks like ye olde general store, with a lot of wood and wrought iron. The brand is famous for its thick leather jackets (which I once coveted as a broke postdoctoral scholar), and of course for its jeans, which are topstitched with a distinctive orange thread.  The owner of Jean Shop, Eric Goldstein, is a big guy (in one conversation with him he told me that he was “not a small guy,” and the cut of his earliest models reflect his understanding that big guys like to wear nice jeans too.  The Rocker cut is a straight legged model with ample room through the seat, thighs, and legs. Best Jeans for Men with Big Thighs styleforum lifter's jeans weightlifter's jeans weightlifting jeans jeans for lifters

  2. RRL straight fit denim –  $275 at www.ralphlauren.com

    Possibly the most comfortable jeans that I own are a pair of 15 ounce straight fit selvedge jeans from RRL.  The denim is washed, and so there is very little break-in time required, which means that even though they have the look of dark denim, they don’t have the stiffness that often accompanies “raw,” a.k.a unwashed, jeans.  A lot of guys talk about the thighs on their jeans being restrictive, but if you are doing squats, you are probably going to want some extra room in the seat – which these offer. Ralph Lauren is a billion dollar company, and with that much money, you can afford to hire good pattern makers.  This pair of jeans shows that. Best Jeans for Men with Big Thighs styleforum lifter's jeans weightlifter's jeans weightlifting jeans jeans for lifters

  3. Naked and Famous Easy Guys, in black for $170 at East Dane

    One of the most popular styles of jeans right now is a tapered black jean, and this is a relaxed fit pair that tapers down to a neat hem. Naked and Famous, hailing out of Montreal, is the brainchild of Brandon Svarc and is known for putting out crazy denim blends.  It’s been a while since I’ve run into him, but he always has a demonstration set up at trade shows – a pair of jean that stand up by themselves, or a pair of jeans in tricolor (all blended into the yarn), or whatever else comes to his mind that season.  Behind all of the theater, though, is a family of jean styles designed so that everyone can wear a pair.  The Easy Guy is the high end denim answer to those Wrangler jeans commercials, in which guys are playing football in jeans. Why you would want to do that is beyond me – it’s easy enough to tuck away a pair of technical fiber pants or training pants.  That said, if you are drawn into that madness, the Easy Guy will carry you through. Best Jeans for Men with Big Thighs styleforum lifter's jeans weightlifter's jeans weightlifting jeans jeans for lifters

  4. Japan Blue High tapered $127 at www.denimio.com

    The “carrot” shape is very in fashion right now, but it can be hard for bigger guys to fit into typical carrot jeans.  However, Japan Bue developed  their high tapered cut specifically for lifters – apparently being swole has caught on in Japan as well. The jeans feature a higher rise, generous seat and thighs, and a very deep taper. They come in a variety of denim types and weights, from the standard 14.5 ounce denim (linked) show below to a beefy 18 ounce “monster” denim.  Best Jeans for Men with Big Thighs styleforum lifter's jeans weightlifter's jeans weightlifting jeans jeans for lifters

  5. Levi’s 541, 50$-70$ at Levis.com

    These jeans really don’t require that much explanation.  They are Levi’s standard “athletic cut” and meant for men who need, or just want, jeans that hit at the waist, have a bit more room in the seat and thighs, and have a whisper of a taper.  These are jeans with no time for nonsense.  Best Jeans for Men with Big Thighs styleforum lifter's jeans weightlifter's jeans weightlifting jeans jeans for lifters

Feeling down? Have a Deliciously Unhealthy Late Night Snack

Sometimes you have to take a break from worrying about whether your suits will fit you tomorrow. You come home late after a bad day, you go on a first date that ends badly, or you just want to pig out. Well, I’ve got you covered, and the best way to deal with all the bad things in life is to eat delicious food.

Having a few late night snacks options always at the ready will always serve you well.  If your friends decide to crash on your couch after a night out, you’ll need to feed them before they tear your fridge apart.  If you meet your soulmate, and walk long into the night, talking about the future – all the walking will get you hungry for, and let’s be real here, snacks.  If you miraculously do not strike out, you will be hungry after all the festivities, and you’ll need some… snacks.  If you are married, with kids, a late night snack with your significant other is going to be one of the very few adult moments you will share.

Statistically, though, let’s face it, if you are single, your Matches.com date is going to be terrible, and you are going to spend your night alone, with only Netflix binges to keep you company.  Styleforum is not here to kick you while you are down, though – we’re  here to uplift you with delicious calories.  Here are the definitive 5 Best Late Night Snacks you can make to soothe your soul.

  1. Bacon wrapped hotdog
    These are sold outside stadiums all across America.  And they are delicious.  You know it, I know it.  The tasting menu that you thought your date would like has nothing on these late at night after a few beers on a cold winter’s eve…. alone.
  2. Spaghetti carbonara
    One of the easiest dishes to make, and it fits your timing perfectly.  Put on the water, and by the time you’ve washed off the disappointment, the water will be boiling (remember to have salted it well), and you can fry up the spec in time for the pasta to finish cooking.  Remember to get the pasta off the heat before you add the cheese and egg mixture, or else your sauce will separate disappointingly as well.
  3. Nutella and banana grilled sandwich
    Find solace in the nostalgia of a childhood snack.  Of course, your mom is no longer there to tell you that you are a special person and that everything will be okay.  Unless your mom IS there to tell you that you are a special person and that everything will be okay, in which case, it’s no wonder your date didn’t work out.
  4. Steak and Eggs
    The Notorious B.I.G. famously rapped for a t-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch’s grape to fill his belly.  Delicious.  The only difference between his snack and yours is that his were a prelude to more exciting evening activities, while yours mark the beginning of an evening of old television shows.
  5. Garlic Bread
    Let’s face it.  The only reason that you don’t eat garlic bread when there is garlic bread to be eaten is in order to not turn off your date.  Well, turns out, you didn’t need garlic bread to do that, so the joke’s on you.  But now you can eat all the delicious, buttery, garlicky bread you want, so you win.

    Bonus: Avocado Toast

    Delicious, and instagram friendly.   Instagram is your desperate attempt to tell the world that you are okay with being alone, with just being you)

My First Good Suit was a Zegna Suit

I bought my first good suit in the spring of 1999, on the way back to school from rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park.  It was a suit by Ermenegildo Zegna, a brand that, as a grad student, planted romantic notions in my brain.

Back then, a few grad school friends and I used to go out to Joshua Tree to rock climb on weekends.  Several of them were pretty good, but I remain terrible to this day.  So, while the highlight of the weekend for them might have been to finish a few good 5.10 rocks, mine always came after all that climbing, when I’d get back into the car and doze until we hit the stores (yes,  we mixed rock climbing with shopping).

ermenegildo zegna defining moments styleforum zegna suit

During my second year of grad school, I decided that I’d buy a “good suit.” This could have been because I’d gotten the deluded idea that I might become a management consultant, or because a lot of my friends were getting married – but mostly, I wanted an excuse to get a good suit, just so that I could own one. And after one of those rock climbing trips, I walked into the Ermenegildo Zegna store and made that dream a reality.

This was in the days before Styleforum, so while shopping I had to rely on the recommendations of sales associate, how the suit felt, and the shop mirror to make my purchase. The suit I chose looked great on the rack, and it also had a great, cool, supple, hand. I didn’t know much about cloth back in 1999, but it really did feel great to touch. It also made my fairly nondescript frame look sharp and lean, which most young men will tell you is a great feeling.

And there I was, a man with a good suit.  First time in my life. And like many of the men in my generation, it was a worsted grey Ermenegildo Zegna beauty. I still remember how it felt to put it on and look at myself. All that romance, all that Italian ineffability – well, I was wearing it.

ermenegildo zegna defining moments styleforum zegna suit

I never did get into management consulting, but I did wear the suit to many weddings, and then for job interviews after that.  It was my first grown up suit.  I bought it with money I earned, and it  was the one of the first things of value that I’d purchased for myself. It made me feel like an adult.

I wore that suit for an average of three weddings a summer for the next three years, in addition to some New Year’s parties and the occasional awkward reception. I felt more comfortable in it each time. It taught me that you don’t really own a suit until you’ve worn it a half-dozen times, and to this day, whenever I buy a new piece of clothing I wear it around the house for at least a week before I wear it out.  That experience is also the basis for the only pivotal piece of advice I give to everyone who asks me about clothing:  “If you feel comfortable in your clothes, people can sense that you feel comfortable in your skin, and that is the seed of style.”

ermenegildo zegna defining moments styleforum zegna suit

Of course, I’m far from the only person who knows this – but I am at least among good company. Robert DeNiro is one of the two faces of Zegna’s new Defining Moments campaign, and his is a face I grew up with and followed from Godfather II and Raging Bull all the way up until the recent The Intern. McCaul Lombardi, a Hollywood newcomer, is DeNiro’s co-star in the new Zegna campaign, the focus of which is to connect with its customers and hear the stories – or the Defining Moments – that we have to share. Because, as you can no doubt guess by now, clothing can operate just as Proust’s madeleines; transporting us back to a defining moment in time. For me, one of the defining moments not just of my young life – but of my adult life, my professional life, my life as a co-owner of Styleforum – came with the purchase of that first Zegna suit.

Clothing is such a personal part of our lives, and I’m looking forward to reading the other stories that Zegna’s customers submit. I’d encourage you to do so as well – not only because it will give you the excuse to relive your own defining moment, but also because once a month you’ll have the chance to win a made-to-measure Zegna experience. If you do, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way I did when I bought my first good suit – and I’m sure it’s a memory that will stay with you.

I brought that suit out of my closet and tried it on again in while I was preparing to write this essay, and it didn’t fit the 42 year old me as well as it had the 24 year old me. But as soon as I put it on, there I was, asleep in the back of the car after a day of rock climbing, dreaming of my first nice suit.

And man, did it still feel nice to the touch.


Share your own Defining Moment on the Ermenegildo Zegna website by clicking the banner below, and be entered to win a Zegna made-to-measure experience.

ermenegildo zegna defining moments styleforum zegna suit


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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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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).
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.

Waiting for sales in 2016, and my sale picks.

This season, many of the the big-name retailers – the ailing J.Crew and limping Ralph Lauren foremost amongst them, but also big department stores like BarneysSaks Fifth Avenue  and the larger online specialty stores like SSENSE –  held off on price slashing seasonal sales until very close to Christmas, playing a high stakes game of chicken with consumers in a bid to preserve their margins (and according to WWD.com, mostly losing).

This led to a pent-up demand for sales items when the sales finally started – and this post Christmas shopping season felt much more like pre-Great Recession sales than the “start-in-October” free-for-all that we’d gotten used to seeing.

I’ve seen the effect of this in the Styleforum microcosm.  Yes, someone is always going to gripe that sales are not deep enough, but both the traffic through our “Official Sales Thread” and the tone of the comments in that thread have been more positive than I remember from the same time last year.  Spending as much time as I do on the forum, I’m inevitably influenced by the the virtual mood around me.

There are more things that I want this year than I’ve wanted for a bit now.  Unfortunately, I can’t get them all.  So, I’m presenting my humble list to you, in hope that either you’ll 1) send me something, or, failing that, 2) that I’ll live vicariously through one.  Yeah, if you do get something off this list, whether for me or for yourself, please tell me in the comments.

Nearly all of the below are chosen with travel in mind – the traveling circus that is the fashion trade shows starts in January with Pitti Uomo and closes, over a month later, in Las Vegas.


1. Engineered Garments reversible Brookline jacket in navy stripe, ($288, www.theloit.com)

I normally regard any piece that is described as “versatile” with great suspicion, because “versatile” is often synonymous with “boring”.  Mix that with a gimmick like “reversible,” and my spidey-sense is at red alert.  The Engineered Garments Brookline jacket is an exception.  I got  y first Brookline years ago, at a traditional brick-and-mortar on final sale.  It’s one of the less talked about of Daiki Suzuki’s perennial designs, perhaps because it’s sometimes hard to translate the appeal of a piece to a computer screen, so I’m going to post two pictures of it.  One side sports larger, dark buttons on a striped suiting fabric; the reverse side is made from sportswear’s traditional quilted nylon and features a snap button closure.

Engineered Garments Brookline jacket navy striped

Engineered Garments Brookline jacket nylon

2.  Battenwear warmup pants ($161, www.mrporter.com)

Mr. Porter held out, as it usually does, until actual Boxing Day.  I’ve been on a bit of a Battenwear tear recently – loving the 80s hiker vibe that a lot of pieces have, right down to the Battenwear logo – and the pieces, while they have a retro sportswear feel, can fit into a variety of styles, whether you want to be an urban commando or a woodsy hiker.  And it doesn’t hurt that these pants are cut in warm and fuzzy Polartec 200, which will make them freat for winter travel, something I dread as the trade show season looms.

 

Battenwear warmup fleece pants

3. Guidi Chelsea boots ($726 USD, www.ssense.com)

I’ve been a big fan of Guidi’s unconstructed, vat-dyed footwear for about three years running.  A few years ago, the dollar was much weaker against the Euro, and you could expect a pair of Guidi boots to run you about $1000.  For the iconic “986” model with a zipper in the back of the boot, in basic black, you were going to pay a pretty penny, or you were going to the secondary market, or you were going to order from a European retailer – always a crapshoot, given the variable sizing of Guidi footwear due to the vat dyeing process.  If you have the money, at $726, these boots are a strong buy.

(I’ve heard that the Guidi tannery will not sell third parties leather in the colors that they use for their own products, so if you want Guidi colors, you are going to have to buy Guidi)

Guidi 986 boots black

4. Faliero Sarti scarf, ($168, www.farfetch.com)

I like wearing a scarf.  Apart from the variety of practical reasons you’d want a scarf in winter, they are very close to being an actual security blanket.  Every Faliero Sarti scarf I’ve handled has been uniformly luxurious feeling and expensive; the product, I assume, of decades of textile manufacturing.  I typically don’t wear the “huge ass scarf” style that can double as a tablecloth and has been the norm in fashion circles for a while now, but I can see the appeal. At 50% off, I’m willing to give it a shot.

Faliero Sarti Scarf

Farfetch is not a retailer, but more like an agent or a fulfillment and shipment solution for small, often niche, boutiques.  Each piece is sent to Farfetch, where pictures are taken for the site, to maintain consistency, and then sent back to the retailer.  So, the sales are non-uniform, and the prices can vary for the same piece between sizes, or even sometimes be listed twice, at two different prices.  That you can comparison shop on the same online “shop” is a little odd, but it does make things interesting, if nothing else.

5. Mark Cross vintage Duffel bag – ($1199 ($1079 with discount right now), www.barneys.com)

I like leather products.  I really like leather bags.  This bag I’ve admired more than just a few times.  It is elegant and structured, with sharp lines meeting rounded shapes.  I imagine it getting admiring looks while I wait for the flight from Amsterdam to Florence.  Then I will walk on the plane, pass business class, and to the end of the coach seats where I will grunt and stuff it into the remaining space in the overhead compartment.

Mark Cross Vintage Duffel Bag

A few of Fok’s favorite BLACK FRIDAY sales

black-friday

In our Black Friday sales guide, we have well over 200 sales listed., and counting.  If I had a billion dollars, I would probably find something I wanted to buy from each of those.  As luck has it, I do not have close to $1BN.  So as in every year, I have to focus on a few sales that are going to give my highest percentage wins.  Here are some sales that I am focused on this year.  Enjoy – Fok.

 
Barney’s

40% off designer sale

40% off is generous, and frankly, something only the big retailers can do this early in the season.  Free shipping and returns clinches as well as a host of brands that are fairly esoteric compared to the other big retailers in the USA, and are otherwise “final sale” at smaller boutiques, make this a this a sale that I always check out (and the choice online is typically better than the choice in-store.)


Blue Button Shop

30% off

Code: THANK30

Both Jasper and I are enamored of all things indigo, and when you add interesting stitching and dyeing techniques, Kapital is going to be one of your favorite brands.  They also have some great Vibergs (publisher’s note – Styleforum is in the midst of doing a special order with Viberg,) With the Canadian Dollar as low as it is combined with a generous discount, this is the best deal for the product obsessive in all of us.


E35

20% off all items

This Austrian store is usually not on my radar, but they benefit from having some accessories from brands like Frank Leder that simply cannot be found anywhere else, it distinguished itself from the pack for me.


Farfetch

Up to 50% off

and Enjoy 10% off your wishlist
One day only
Enter code below at checkout:
BF10

Where else can you get this many small boutiques selling their ware in one place?  This is my go to clearinghouse for all the small esoteric brands (in my case, this is my first stop for Guidi boots and MA+ accessories and jackets, and Faliero Sarti scarves).  Lightning fast and reliable shipping that small boutiques typically cannot  guarantee on their own, and you have yourself a winner


Levi’s

40% off everything

Code: HOLIDAY40

I spent my entire morning moving Christmas trees for my kids schools.  Yes, I love me some Japanese denim, and that is what I wear daily, but if I want some inexpensive jeans the fit decently to act as true workwear, Levi’s at 40% off is hard to beat.


No Man Walks Alone

A large selection, all on sale!

Greg and Kyle are able to consistently surprise me with new brand choices and products that I haven’t seen before.  And I love that the store can cater to a wide and diverse range of customers.  I don’t know any store that can weave Blue Blue Japan indigo dyed everything together with Formosa suits and Tie your Tie neckwear, Ts(s) outerwear with Norwegian Rain’s superlative raincoats.  tldr: great taste levels bring me back here consistently.