Styleforum Upgrade – FAQs

You may have noticed that we recently had a little makeover. We upgraded to a better and more intuitive interface that will hopefully make your experience on Styleforum even better and more satisfying.

Here is a list of FAQs: please read them before contacting an admin with any questions you might have regarding the update.

If you do have questions that are not addressed below, please send us an email at Styleforum.net@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to reply in a timely manner (but please excuse any delays – we are working hard to make this transition as smooth as possible!)

Please note that we’ve been working through some minor technical issues (notably email notifications and native notifications) so please keep that in mind and bear with us as we fix these.

Continue reading

Altering Jacket Shoulders is Possible

I went against rule number one when considering tailoring modifications–altering your jacket shoulders. For a (recovering) vintage collector like me, the risk was completely worthwhile in order to try to salvage some of my most prized pieces. The results ended up surprising me, just like how they will probably surprise you as you continue in this article.

Continue reading

Aran Jumpers Between Myth and Tradition

Despite some attempts to weave an origin story out of mythological or romantic anecdotes, the story of Aran jumpers began out of necessity. In the late 19th century, Northern Ireland faced a shortage of potatoes as well as rising unemployment and an emigration crisis. In a remarkable entrepreneurial fit, the Congested Districts Board for Ireland, among other things, suggested people weave and knit garments, and make a living out of this activity.

Continue reading

How To Smell Fabulous For The Holidays

Despondent, inconsolable, and thoroughly litigated, when last we met not even Mouton Rothschild and locker room photos of the Brazilian national soccer team sufficed to drive off the spleen. 

But that is all in the past: triumphant and rejuvenated, I again face the world and your travails. How have you spent the last few weeks? I envision package tours from an online travel retailer, complete with meal vouchers and a chardonnay whose top unscrews.

I am freshly returned from Ibiza and the annual conference of the Lytton Society, an ancient and proud membership devoted to the study of uranistic adverbs in ancient Roman poetry. Tears were shed; teeth were gnashed. A volume of Catullus very nearly severed my spine. 

Even more than my keynote speech on men’s hosiery in the Horacian Odes, I was admired for my choice of holiday scent. One poetic admirer recalled Papylus, who Martial quips had a member so large that “ut possis, quotiens arrigis, olfacere.” But I digress…

For the holidays, one must have a scent that is dark, deep, warm, and rich, not unlike a Bahraini oil sheikh but without the threat of stoning. Think spices, cloves, musk, resin, woods, and incense. Leave the bergamot, cardamom, and aquatic notes for spring; in the cold weather they’ll be as flat and lifeless as Renée Fleming attempting Isolde. 

Here are four to consider: the first is a secret gem, Guerlain’s Winter DeliceHard to find and oddly marketed as part of their light, inexpensive, and usually fleeting Aqua Allegoria series, this one is a strong, subtle blend of spice and musk. Far from being loud and cloying, it sticks close to the skin and reminds one of Christmas time on the Avenue George V, holding hands with the evening’s preferred sailor on leave from Marseille.

Dipping away from quiet potpourri and into something darker is L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Passage d’enferImagine stone gates, centuries of incense smoked into wooden benches, and cathedrals lit only with a few wax candles. One confesses to forbidden sins through damask curtains, and Ebenezer Scrooge delights in stealing coins from the offering plate.

A little more joyous and less likely to inspire excommunication is Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Secret Melange. Happier, sweeter and less spicy than the others, it is an interesting blend of cloves, citrus fruit, and has a wonderful soapy quality that feels warmer than it does clean. The lovely cut-glass bottle in red and the gilded cap alone are worth the price of admission. Like all MPG scents, it’s a love it or hate it affair; but like most things French, it’s worth at least one ride along the Pigalle.

Perhaps best of all, and most pleasant to the widest audience, is Comme des Garçons’ Incense series. Choose from several varieties, each with a different spirit and essence in mind. Kyoto is a perennial favorite; light and moody as a temple in the Japanese Alps. My own choice is at least a single sniff of Ouarzazate (an obvious and far-too-easy joke about rocking one’s Kasbah will not be a part of this review, my dears). Avignon, Jaisalmer, and Zagorsk round out the series, and all are worth a try. Although well-known for their avant-garde fashion, CdG also has some of the best designer fragrances on the market. 

Even if one wishes to voyage beyond the four above, you must remember that, for scents, the key is impactOne should never buy a scent because it is “nice.” The goal is not to smell “clean,” but to make a mark. Avoid anything that would clash with your scent, so leave your scented soaps, lotions, and deodorants in the dust bin of history. You want to leave a trace of yourself behind, not unlike a fog of wonderful stink that lingers on in a ballroom even after the badinage has run its course. To do otherwise is to make a grave offense to the nose; to borrow a phrase from the Emperor Justinian, such transgressions are a well-known cause of earthquake.


This article was originally published on Styleforum.net by Professor Fabulous.

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.

Sweater Inspiration

As it dips into the low 70s here in Los Angeles, I’m proud to say that sweater weather is finally arriving! I’m ready to pull out my fair isle sweater vests and cotton-wool crew necks out of the bottom drawer of my dresser and start wearing them with tailoring.  But as I do that, I’m reminded of the fact that while high rise has come back in recent years, the length of the sweater has not changed. The hem should really be shorter!

While long sweaters did exist in the 1920s (probably since they were intended as the final, outer layer), there actually was a time when sweaters were hemmed to hit at the natural waist, instead of close to the hips as is done now. This was mainly done in the 1930s-1940s, as you can see in the included images. Also unlike today, the sweaters were cut with higher armholes and a trimmer body in order to make a very fitted silhouette. This silhouette was further emphasized with the wide ribbing, which ensured that the sweater would “cinch” at waist well.

It’s just a personal observation, but I think that sweaters were made this way not just to wear under a sportcoat, but to play into the masculine ideal of the time: broad shoulders, small waist, and long, wide legs. Overall, it’s also probably done to echo the tailored look of a waistcoat (which also tends to be on the long side today). This has since disappeared the closer we got to the modern times. As rises got lower, sweater hems got longer to compensate; sweaters also lost that fitted look.

Now I like to wear sweaters, but it’s definitely a problem with high rise trousers since manufacturers haven’t quite caught up. I run across this problem whether I’m buying good basics at Uniqlo/J. Crew or when even when looking at contemporary, higher quality ones on eBay. To make up for the length I either just tuck the excess fabric into itself or do some awkward blousing which almost always results in a slight muffin top effect. The effect is made obvious as I’m not particularly tall or lanky, which means even a standard small can be a bit long and puffy on me. Though it may be my fault for preferring an extremely high rise, I’m sure that some of you can understand this frustration with your own wardrobe.

It’s especially tough when rocking sweater vests (both the pull over and waistcoat style), since the long length can’t be hidden with any sort of tucking. And having a good fit is probably one of the only ways to make sure you pull off the sweater vest.  Some guys try to cheat the system and shrink them in the wash, but then it could potentially be an expensive mistake. You can always hide the blousing with a sportcoat, but it’s not quite that cold  in LA to layer too much; plus I like the more “casual” look of simply wearing a sweater with denim or chinos.  And as much as 1990s Ralph Lauren is a vibe, I’m not sure many guys are willing to tuck their sweaters into their trousers, especially if they are wearing a button-up and tie underneath.

Luckily, some makers have taken notice. One that comes to mind instantly is Simon James Cathcart, a niche vintage reproduction brand. They have released a virtually identical sweater to ones from the 1930s, complete with a high V, waist-correct length, and wide ribbing for a fitted figure. It’s pretty perfect, though it probably leans a bit too vintage for most and there aren’t many options available yet.

Thomas Farthing, another UK brand, also has a waistcoat style sweater. I also seem to remember that the Drake’s x Armoury sweater vests are cut higher to for this reason. I own an original one from Drake’s and they fit the bill just as well; I also leave the last few buttons unfastened so that the true length isn’t as apparent. I’m sure there are others who have taken notice and with the rise of online custom, it won’t be long before guys are able to order a decent length for high waisted trousers.

For now, I’ll try my luck with vintage since it’s an affordable way to get the details without compromising too much.  Picking a true vintage one from the 1960s or 1970s (hopefully in natural fabrics) can be common in select thrift stores and still comes with a decent length for high rise trousers.  Occasionally I’ll come across ones from the 1930s-1940s online, which are the real gems. I’ll just take the small moth holes as signs of character.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If vintage isn’t for you, trying on modern brands in a size smaller than you’re used to could also achieve the look; not only will it be shorter in length, but the trimmer fit could be more desirable, especially in a merino wool (I wouldn’t recommend that for a thick shetland number).  Of course, there are a bunch of DIY tricks I’ve heard from other guys like shrinking or even hemming it at the tailor but that’s also a dangerous road to tread. Or we can just be hopeful that the market will lean in our favor, just as they did for high rise trousers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.