10 Best Watches for Every Budget

Guys love watches. Is it for status? Is it the mechanical prowess? It is for the utility? Who knows, and you know what, who cares? Here’s a great collection of the best watches to buy for yourself or convince someone to buy for you as the holidays approach.


1.  Swatch System Boreal YIS401G. MSRP: $215

A neat-looking watch with respectable mechanics and for as cheap as you can get without buying a watch meant for a 6th grader. 

Available at Swatch.com


2. Hamilton Khaki Field. MSRP: $445

One of Hamilton’s most popular offerings, the Khaki is a classic American watch. With a suede strap and beige numbers, the Field model is just a bit more fun than the run-of-the-mill model.

Available at Hamilton


3. Hamilton Khaki Pilot Auto. MSRP: $995

No list of best watches would be complete without a pilot’s watch. Hamilton nails it again with classic pilot styling, cool looks, and darn good price. 

Available at Hamilton


4. Nomos Tangente 38. MSRP: $2,330

No one, and I mean no one, does understated elegance like Nomos. The Tangente 38 is as pure as it gets and a bargain when it comes to bang for your buck. 

Available at Nomos


5. Longines Master Retrograde Seconds. MSRP: $3,325

Probably the best-priced complicated watch ever made. The Master Retrograde boasts 4 retrograde hands, day-date functions, and somehow manages to do it without looking looking like an awful cluttered mess. 

Available at Prestigetime


6. Bell & Ross BR01-92. MSRP: $4,800

If you want something really cool and off the beaten, look no further than B&R’s military spec, black carbon coated, square shaped, BR01 beast.

Available at Prestigetime


7. Tag Heuer Monaco. MSRP: $5,350

Is anyone cooler than Steve McQueen? No. Can you be Steve McQueen? Also no. But you can get pretty close with the iconic watch that he sported in the all time great film, Le Mans. Watch the movie, wear the watch.

Available at Prestigetime


8. Glashutte Original Senator Sixties. MSRP: $7,500

Vintage styling and top-notch mechanics join forces for Glashutte’s nod to the 60’s. Go for the gold indices for some extra pop. 

Available at Prestigetime


9. Rolex Datejust 116234. MSRP: $7,950.

You just can’t argue with the Rolex crown, and this about as classic Rolex as it gets. 

Available at Prestigetime


10. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400. MSRP: $50,500 

 If you just won the lottery, or re-financed your house and took some cash out, this is what you buy. Just make sure you signed that pre-nup.

Available at Prestigetime

Gifts for the CM Wife or Girlfriend

5 gifts for the woman in your life gifts for the CM wife

If you’re a Classic Menswear dude with a female partner, chances are she’s a classy, educated woman who treats her clothes just like you do: a vehicle to express her impeccable taste in a manner that is neither extravagant nor – heaven forbid – fashionable.

(The exception to this is if you are my husband, who is the archetypical CM guy, but somehow ended up marrying a fashion blogger who collects Victorian mourning jewelry).

If you recognize your wife in the picture I just introduced, and Zara and H&M are cringe-inducing words to her, keep reading and find some ideas for your better half.

 


An Eileen Fisher top

Eileen Fisher is my husband’s obsession when it comes to womenswear. Every time we go shopping together, he secretly hopes that I will drop the eye-catching lace dresses and opt for an understated, elegant poncho made of a soft alpaca and cashmere blend.  In his wildest dreams, I’m wrapped in an Eileen Fisher hand-woven cardigan in a melange color with tailored pants featuring perfectly ironed pleats.

The thing is, I like Eileen Fisher a lot. Despite my preference for lace and more “statement” clothing, I even own the above-mentioned poncho (which I hardly ever wear here in SoCal). Almost any Eileen Fisher piece is an evergreen garment that will work with most women’s wardrobes – even those in which white lace is predominant. Eileen Fisher is the anti-Zara, and any woman who has an appreciation for quality over “trendy” will gladly welcome such gift.


Carmina boots

I personally discovered Carmina’s women shoe line at The Proper Kit this past November, and it took all of my strength and willpower not to break the bank over their boots. If you’re just a little familiar with women’s fashion, you know how hard it is to find pieces that equal menswear’s in terms of quality – at least through mainstream outlets. When I think of quality footwear for women, the first names that pop in my mind are Louboutin and Ferragamo, and even then, the construction is not on pair with a comparable menswear collection.  Carmina offers mind-blowing construction and materials as well as classic designs that will likely last for over a decade. Again, if you wish to give a gift that lasts, and if your partner has the sensibility to appreciate the great work and care that’s behind this type of product, you can’t go wrong with Carmina.


A bracelet stack by Astley Clarke

Jewelry is, obviously, a great classic when it comes to gifts. Some couples even have a tradition where they give at least one piece of jewelry a year, in order to slowly build up a collection that can be passed on to the next generations, or to simply remind them of the years that pass while they’re together.

The first and most important thing to remember when you shop for jewelry is to avoid Tiffany’s at any cost. It’s mainstream, banal, and overpriced, and you don’t really want to see a condescending smirk appearing of your wife’s face when you hand her that sickening “blue box.”

Once you bid farewell to overrated jewelry houses, you will find a world of glimmering collections. One of my favorite brands – and I have to thank my husband for introducing it to me – is the English maison Astley Clarke. The founder was even appointed by the Queen with one of those crazy titles the English appreciate. Dame of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or something like that.

In any case, you can find something delightful on Astley Clarke’s website, and the best thing is that prices go from $50 to $50,000, so you really have a wide choice at every price range. I would personally choose one of their bracelet stacks, which follow the trend of layering jewelry with no risk of incurring in the Jersey Shore/Christmas tree effect.


A leather cardholder

Long are gone the days when a woman used to carry huge wallets and stuff them with anything ranging from pictures of her parents as toddlers to Target’s loyalty card. If there’s one good thing that smartphones did, it was ridding us from such superfluous paraphernalia.

Normally I dread patterns, but since a cardholder is such a small item, I feel that this could be a good time to be a little adventurous and choose a piece that would turn heads when making its appearance out of the purse. This beautiful Dolce&Gabbana cardholder features a typical Sicilian tile motif, and since it folds over, it actually has some space to carry some cash, which always comes in handy.

If you’d rather play safe and stick to a more traditional look, this Smythson card holder in powdery blue will do the trick.


A Silk Scarf

There is something incredibly sensual in a woman covering her neck with a scarf (and a man too, actually.)

Perhaps deep down I am a vampire, but I consider it quite intriguing when one of the most vulnerable parts of the human body is hidden under layers of precious cashmere or impalpable silk, perhaps sprayed with a sophisticated fragrance.

On this account, I believe that the gift of a scarf comes out as thoughtful and delicate, even protective. It’s a way of saying: “I’m here and I’m taking care of you.” There is more love in a man kissing goodbye to his wife on her way to work while wrapping a scarf around her neck than there is in any epic poem.

First Class Gifts for the Traveler

There is no place like home for the holidays.

Luckily, the other 360 days a year offer you a whole world to conquer, and we invite you to awaken your wanderlust with these travel treats. This gift guide features our favorite first class gifts: experiences, one of a kind vintage keepsakes, and affordable accessories to outfit you for your next journey. As for the lucky recipient? We think it should be you, the Styleforum reader. Remember, you are required to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist others.


Planes

Experience – Beginning your journey jostled by grumpy travelers is no way to unwind.  There is indisputably a better way to travel by becoming a fractional owner of a luxury fleet of planes. Allow your timetable to be the only one that matters as you skip the lines, sink into plush seats, and jet away to, well, anywhere you want. 

Fractional Jet ownership with Net Jets. Prices vary.

Keepsake – Fine china on an airline? We no longer expect to fly in such style. The halcyon days of flight your first class ticket came with impeccable dining…and drinking. Allow these 1960’s Pan Am glasses to spark conversations about distant destinations and days gone by.

Landing on your living room bar cart for just $120

Accessory – You may not be dodging birds in an open cockpit, but that doesn’t mean you should live your life without these aviator glasses. Equally at home on the sands of Caracas and the driver’s seat of a coupe, we give our nod to the origins of the aviator glasses by suggesting that you sport them for your next flight. 

Oliver Peoples, $425


Trains

Experience – Murder and mayhem may have graced the pages of an Agatha Christie novel, but in real life the Orient Express offers pampering with panache. The train from Paris to Istanbul runs only once a year. You should be on it. Five days and two continents offer a once in a lifetime luxury rail trip.

Starts at $12,250

Keepsake – While we are on the subjects of icons, may we pitch the posh 19th C. French Steamer trunk? Ages ago it kept an entire wardrobe. Today it brings the romance of the rails into our everyday lives. Great for travel (provided you have porters), storage, or a one-of-a-kind coffee table. Or perhaps all three.

Available on 1stdibs, $5,625

Accessory – Exotic architecture, fine wine, and bartering with local vendors; it all may fly by like the blur of the countryside beyond your authentic 1920’s art deco cabin window. Jot down notes to jog your memory in a Field Notes journal dressed in a fine leather cover.

Handcrafted in Vermont by Queen City Dry Goods, $65


Automobiles

Experience – Racing School  There is a certain high-pitched whine that you welcome. Unlike your mother-in law, the sound of these super cars make you thrilled to give up a Sunday. Perfectly tuned for high performance these cars respond to your slightest cue as you let go of the world and grab onto the steering wheel. Choose your favorite super car – or more than one – and give in to G-forces on XRS’s Los Angeles track.

From $299 for 5 laps

Keepsake – Amidst a flurry of accolades, the 1974 Series III Jaguar E Type roadster convertible earned its highest praise from competitor Enzo Ferrari, who called it “The most beautiful car ever made.” This example in British racing green is unrestored, which offers you the gift of bringing an icon back to glory. 

For sale at auction on Jan. 6th, 2017. Be prepared to break into the seven digits.

Accessory – Unnecessary? Possibly. Undesirable? Never. The point of accessories is to enhance experiences. Anything that offers both comfort and control can cap off our holiday list. After all…it is called a glove box for a reason. Italian Leather Driving Gloves by Mark and Graham. May we suggest cognac leather?

Available for $125


Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO.  She does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

Gifts for the Man Who Has Everything

This year has been all about unseasonably warm weather, the Cubbies, sensitive emails on private servers, mosquitoes, and a gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo. It’s been YUGE, folksAnd without Prince or Leonard Cohen to help us through, we all need some retail therapy this Holiday Season.  These goodies below will ensure we’ll make it through to 2017 put together, smelling good, and with all our gear properly stowed.


1.  The Bag: Shinola Flight Zip Tote

john clayton holiday gift guide

Made in the USA, the size and shape are perfect, the leather is durable, and the hardware is sturdy.  Known mainly for their watches, Shinola hired veterans Richard Lambertson and John Truex (yep, THAT Lambertson Truex) to design and launch a bag collection.  Comparing it to virtually any designer offering, I like the quality, pricepoint, and timeless design of the bag.  Black will probably be the go-to, but I prefer the “bourbon” brown.

Price: $1195


2.  The Scent: Tom Ford Oud Fleur

john clayton holiday gift guide

Oud is everywhere, from Avon to Yankee Candle.  Leave it to Tom Ford to do one of the best.  This one has the strong Oud note (a deep, dark, woody resin that has long been one of the pinnacles of perfumery), but balances it with a deep rose-based floral heart.  Worry not, however, it’s not at all feminine, but adds a touch of sweet to the famous Tom Ford sweat. This is a gift that your partner will want to steal.

Price: $225 for 50mls


3. The Pen: Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen

john clayton holiday gift guide styleforum

I recommend this one almost every year.  Like wines or watches, fountain pens can be daunting; you can spend a little or you can mortgage the house.  I find the Pilot Custom 74 to be one of the best all around fountain pens: excellent quality, good price point, and easy to clean, fix, and use.   And with the vast range of Pilot inks available, you can find a shade that expresses your own sense of style. I recommend getting one with a bottle of the “Iroshizuku” ink in Ajisai blue.

Price: $160 for the pen and around $25 for the ink bottle.


4. The Book: Joan Mitchell: Works on Paper 1956- 1992

john clayton gift guide styleforum joan mitchell

Accompanying a lovely exhibition at Cheim & Read going through the end of December, this is the sort of gift for somebody who has just about everything else.  As a couple they do wine tours in Napa; you don’t dare get them a bottle.  He gets bespoke suits; she frequents Goyard.  So what better than a gorgeous collection of Mitchell’s works on paper: understudied, often overlooked among more “famous” abstract expressionists (cough, Rothko; cough, Pollock), yet achingly beautiful. Guaranteed to up your aesthete value for less than half the cost of a demi of d’Yquem. 

Price: $100


5.  The Stocking Stuffer: Squareguard

And for a fun stocking stuffer, get a Squareguard.  Easy to use, functional, and lightweight, you weave your square through and it stays in place without the silk sagging, popping out of the pocket, or getting out of shape. I got one on a whim and have been using it ever since.  You don’t feel that it’s there, it’s invisible, and it fits almost all standard suit lapel pockets. 

Price: Single guard with square for $34.95 or a pack of three guards (without the square) for $24.95

Wear a Black Turtleneck Under Everything

Remember when I said that I almost never wear black? Well, I’m here to tell you about the one exception I make: the black turtleneck. Because in Denver, the weather has finally turned, which means that it’s the season when I wear a black turtleneck every other day.

We’ve discussed roll-necks in the past, but I’m specifically talking about the cotton, shirt-weight black turtleneck, which is the ultimate cheater’s garment. Let me explain: it is a t-shirt that looks fancier than a button-up. Well, not always. But a lot of the time, wearing one instantly takes you from “slob” to “suave” (zing) in perfect comfort. Besides, it fits every style out there, regardless of whether you pine for James Bond-ian masculinity or Creative Artsy Dude Vibes(tm).

Although you can find these anywhere, in a wide range of fabrics, my favorite black turtleneck comes from Uniqlo. It’s very unassuming – thick-ish cotton, relatively relaxed in fit, and it only cost me 15$. I like to wear it under my quilted ts(s) blazer, under an SNS Herning “Stark” cardigan, or alone under a piece of long outerwear or flight jacket. The point is that it looks really good with everything I can think of at the moment. It’s an especially great option for the dreaded company holiday party, when you don’t really know what to wear but you sure as hell don’t want to wear a tie.

The black turtleneck is the kind of shirt that you could stock up on, wear every day of the week, and look great. And as a plus, that whole myth about black being slimming isn’t entirely a myth, which – if you’re as predisposed to holiday overindulgence as I am – can come in pretty handy. The only downside to these cotton pieces is that they don’t insulate as well as wool. So, if you plan on sweating a lot, a good way to combat that is to wear an insulating undershirt beneath it and stay nice and toasty. Of course, Uniqlo also offers Heattech turtlenecks. I have no experience with those, but I’ve worn plenty of “athletic” undergarments under casual clothing, and the idea is sound.

It’s the ideal garment for days when you want to look good but can’t be bothered to try looking good: choose pants and shoes, put on black turtleneck, and outerwear goes on top of that. Done. That’s the kind of ease I can get behind.

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.


 

Black Friday: Jasper’s Picks

Wow, sales season really came in like Miley Cyrus this year. At this point in my life, I have a pretty short list of clothing I want, and a lot of it doesn’t go on sale that often. That said, this Black Friday has kind of thrown me for a loop, and I’ve managed to grab some pieces I wasn’t expecting to see (I’m not complaining. Your tastes may certainly differ, but here are a few pieces I think are worth capitalizing on this year. Don’t forget to look at our list of all the Black Friday Sales worth your time to see sales codes for the below webshops.


 

  1. Kapital Century Denim at Blue Button Shopjasper's black friday top picks styleforumBlue Button came in YUGE this year. I almost feel bad. They’ve got 30% off of all stock with code THANK30, which means you can pick up a pair of Kapital’s incredible Century Denim for 265 USD shipped, which is about the same as it would cost you to proxy the same pair from Kapital in Japan. If you’ve ever wanted a pair, I’m not sure I can remember seeing a better deal.

  2. Viberg Boots at Blue Button Shop

    jasper's black friday picks sales styleforumDid I mention that Blue Button came up big time? When’s the last time you saw Viberg Boots for 30% off? That puts several models just under 500$ shipped with code THANK30, which is nuts, even if the models on offer are pretty basic. Jump on this, people.


  3. Comme des Garçons Parfum at Notre Shopjasper's top black friday sales picksAgain, 30% off what is (in my opinion) a great fragrance that doesn’t often see discounts. CDG’s incense series is a fantastic blend of natural and synthetic aromas; meant to invoke human spirituality in a way that is both immediately recognizable and undeniably otherworldly. My favorite is Ouarzazate, but Kyoto is great as well – heck, at 67$ a bottle after the coupon code, you might as well buy all four.

  4. Sashiko Shop Coat from Blue Blue Japan at No Man Walks Alonejasper's top black friday sales picks
    How could I make a list of any kind without at least one indigo-dyed item? This shop coat from Blue Blue Japan was a stand out piece from this fall’s collection, and the sashiko fabric with natural indigo dye makes for an incredible color and texture. Did I mention that No Man has it for 371$, which is a must-buy price? No Man’s entire sales list is slightly bonkers, but these pieces are beautiful and unique, which will go a long way this winter – and well into springtime.


  5. Marimekko “Nimikko Mikko” bathrobejasper's black top black friday sales picks styleforumHailing from the land of the Moomins, Marimekko has long offered pop-inspired prints to households that skew towards the nouveau Scandinavian. I have a soft spot for the loud stuff, but these simpler bathrobes are equally fun. Do as Marimekko suggests and wear yours after a long, relaxing sauna.

5 Best Jeans for 2016 and Beyond

The streetwear and denim forum within Styleforum started in large part because I wrote a “10 Best Jeans” post years ago, in the days when “premium denim” was blowing up in LA and the North American Market was just starting to get imported jeans from Scandanavia and Japan.  In those days, the threads were named “5 Best jeans,” or “10 Best jeans,” but it’s really impossible to make a superlative list in such a varied category, so I always tried to make these representative of different styles and needs rather than pointing to one model and saying “Yeah, best jeans right there.”  I do think that the below is a representative list of “best in class” jeans.  Of course, it’s like the 100m dash (or at least, the 100m dash, pre-Usain Bolt).  There are many contenders for the #1 spot, and the winner is usually the first among peers.

This is the first such list that I am writing for the Styleforum Journal, so I’ve chosen the below 5 great jeans with a nod to the past and a eye on the future.


Best wearable art – Kapital Cisco Century Jeans, $375 at www.standardandstrange.com

Cisco - Century Denim No5 kapital styleforum best jeans for 2016

Kapital is perhaps the exemplar of the “mythological folklore by way of Japan” brands, and there are many.  It borrows liberally from Native American imagery, old military uniforms, American workwear, the clothing of some tribes that may or may not exist outside Kapital’s famous photoshoots, and mashes them up with Japanese textile traditions like boro patchwork and sashiko stitching.

Kapital’s cinchback “Cisco” jeans are made from Kapital’s “Century” denim that has been dyed using the kakishibu method, with fermented persimmon juice to produce a deep brick color, and then sashiko stitched using indigo thread.  They are a good (and not inexpensive) example of the combination of Japanese and American clothing and textile traditions and the brand’s general obsessiveness with their production process.  They were first introduced in 2012, but have been popular enough to be kept in the list of “best ofs” that seem to accompany each of Kapital’s collections (other best of Kapital pieces include their moleskin ring jacket and their Old Man and the Sea caps).


Most comfortable heavyweight jeans – The Ironheart 17 ounce straight tapered jeans, $295 at www.selfedge.com

ironheart self edge styleforum best jeans for 2016

I’ve owned and worn many jeans that range between “heavyweight”, usually defined as 16 ounces and above, and “monster weight”, which is my personal term for anything about 20 ounces (per square yard).  To put this into perspective, most military tents are made from 12-14 ounce canvas, and lighter weight stretch jeans are often about 9-10 ounces.  It’s rare that I’d call any heavyweight jeans the “best jeans,” but of all of these, Ironheart makes the most comfortable.

Kiya, who owns Self Edge – one of our oldest advertisers – once told me that this is because they use the longest staple yarns, even longer than do luxury brands, which gives the jeans a cool feeling, and because they use a cold water rinse, instead of the usual, hot, industrial rinse,  Back in the day, the consensus on Styleforum and other forums was that you had to (physically) suffer for the perfect fit, that the first few weeks of wearing jeans three sizes small was a trial by fire to be endured for excellent fades.  Luckily for us all, that insanity is behind us.  Also, I am way too old for that now.  I need my jeans to slip on and off effortlessly.  This is especially important in heavier weight jeans.


Best “Starter” jeans – The Japan Blue tapered model, $220 at www.blueowl.us

japan-blue-tapered-jeans styleforum best jeans for 2016

If you want a pair of jeans that fits well, is neither too slim not too loose, is neither too heavy nor too lightweight, neither very high rise, nor very low rise, and without features like a drop crotch that will date it easily, and will generally stand up to the test of time, Japan Blue’s “Tapered” model is a good choice.

The cut is mid rise, with a slowly tapering leg.  They come in a variety of denim weights and types, and I’ve seen them worn in “full workwear”, and as part of our editor in Chief’s indigo patchwork outfits, and I wear them as part of what was once called my “killer cowboy” style, but that I suspect might be considerably less romantic and cool.

While “versatility” of often code for “really boring”, Japan Blue rescues us by using very interesting denim on any otherwise fairly standard, well made, jeans that lack the bells and whistles of jeans by its sister brand, Momotaro, both produced by the Japan Blue Group.

My favorite are in indigo warp with a black weft, and tonal stitching, made in an unsanforized version of Japan Blue’s “Monster” denim, exclusively for Blue Owl (shown above).  They are heavier than most like their jeans, but don’t worry, there are many lighter weight jeans in the same cut.


Best skinny jeans – Saint Laurent Paris low rise slim fit black jeans, $290 at www.ysl.comstyleforum best jeans for 2016 saint laurent paris slp skinny

I heard a story about Jim Morrison once – that he was a skinny, awkward kid with a crew cut, and that over a summer in California, he grew out his famous mane and transformed into the Lizard King.

This is the revenge of skinny, awkward, teenagers everywhere on the world.  According to recent polls, 95% of all models, male or female, report having been “awkward and nerdy” as teenagers.  (the remaining 5% were jock douchebags – sometimes life remains the same).

If you still have the chops to look like a young Axel Rose (as opposed to the much less attractive 50-something middle-aged Axel Rose), you might want to go for Hedi Slimane’s (they are still his) Saint Laurent Paris jeans, that make his Dior Homme era jeans look baggy and overly comfortable.  How times and our perceptions have changed.


Best Discount Jean – Uniqlo slim fit selvedge denim jeans, $49.90 at www.uniqlo.com

styleforum best jeans for 2016

Over the years, on Styleforum, one of the most commonly asked questions, was “What is the best selvedge denim (jeans) for under $100?”  For a while, there was not much at that price range.  During the era of the $300 jean, you could either go to your local Sears for standard Levis, or you could shell out.  Or you could try to get your friend who was living in Japan to buy and send you a pair of Uniqlo selvedge denim jeans.

These days, particularly with the advent of the direct-to-consumer model, there are many more choices, but the under $100 beacon jean for all those years still remains also the standard bearer.  Of course, these days, there is no need to wheedle a favor out of a friend visiting Japan.  If you can’t get to a Uniqlo in person, it’s only a few clicks away.  At $49.90, the Uniqlo slim fit (these days with a bit of stretch) give a good fit and very passable construction.  If you want 100% cotton and a more relaxed fit, the “normal fit” is also available for the same price.  Both look good on, and age reasonably well.

Are they the best jeans for under 100$? They’re bare bones, to be sure, and all the bells and whistles of the higher end Japanese brands are not there, nor are you likely to develop one of the very distinctive fade patterns of hardcore denimheads, but at just under $5o, you can’t do better.

 

Hiking Boots for Lazy Winter Style

Hiking boots are enjoying a small but noticeable boost in popularity this season, driven in part by the continuing extension of athleisure into all-seasons – as opposed to just summer. I, for one, am enjoying this outdoorsy-techwear moment, especially because it allows me to feel less shameful about my propensity to wear over-designed sweatpants. Not that hiking boots haven’t always had their fans, but over the last few seasons chunky, mountaineering-inspired silhouettes have picked up a noticeable amount of steam. Some of the Italian giants have been playing with the winter-luxury thing more or less since they’ve been around, but the trickle-down into high street and fast fashion has turned what used to be a largely granola-exclusive product into a common sight.

Danner deserves the credit for a lot of that popularity in America (as does Diemme, internationally), and they’ve been churning out the same shape since before most of us were alive. Their classic hiking boots have also seen something of a resurgence in recent years, the work-boot obsession of bearded hipsters countrywide having translated into the adoption of any “working man’s” footwear, and being something of an extension of our former obsession with deck boots.

And why not? Hiking boots usually offer comfort that leather-soled boots don’t, and for American consumers that’s a big deal. The growth of casual, outdoor wear-inspired brands hasn’t hurt the popularity, either, as Timberland’s enduring popularity can attest to. Add in the cachet of American manufacturing and a handful of well-publicized collaborations – like this years Danner x New Balance project – and you’ve got a winning recipe.

Thing is, I want some too. I spend a lot of time on my feet, and live in a state where we have seasons. That means that I often don’t want to wear leather-soled boots in the winter, when the ground is either wet or, y’know, covered in snow. And as tempting as it is to tell myself that a pair of fashionable boots is going to hold up to all of my winter shenanigans, the truth is that at some point I’m going to have to buckle down and get something that’s functional.

I’m going to throw my cards in with the Danner Light, which is Danner’s suede-and-nylon lightweight hiker. I know, I know – the shape takes some getting used to. But the more I look at them, the more I think they’re kind of charming. I’d wear them either with rolled denim, or with a tapered tech pant like these from Outlier. In the case of the former, a bomber jacket, indigo coat, or interesting vest (like so, perhaps, for maximum throwback style) over a thermal sounds like just the ticket. With the latter, any kind of nylon or insulated active outerwear would do well (think Battenwear, and Wander, or Snow Peak) if you’re going super casual, as would something like Isaora’s tech shell for an outfit that looks less like straight mountaineering wear. Finally, Danner Lights aren’t all that expensive (relatively), which means that picking up a pair for those days when you really just want your feet to be dry and comfortable isn’t an economic disaster.

You can grab this pair straight from the Danner webshop.

hiking boots danner light urban outdoorsman techwear

Community Design: The Massdrop Chukka

If you spend time on Styleforum, you understand what it’s like to be part of an enthusiast community. You know the archetypes – from noob to tastemaker – and the abbreviations, from BB, ESF, and OCBD, to C&J and GMTO. You’ve also probably seen users band together to get the products they wanted – this is a core piece of any enthusiast community, and it’s why we created Massdrop. I’ve been a Styleforum member since 2011, and I’ve often been a part of those groups that are looking to put together something unique.

massdrop styleforum allen edmonds unlined suede chukka boot

That’s me, wearing the Massdrop x Styleforum x Allen Edmonds chukkas we put together.

Here at Massdrop, our job is to work with community members and help them engage with each other to find the products they want. You may recognize us from our affiliate thread on Styleforum, where we share some of our community-driven creations. By getting the community to work together (like they often do already), we’ve been able to get them the quality products they want for a better price. We’ve also found that if we work directly with brands to create new products, we can do even more to get the community what they want. If you’ve spent any time on Styleforum, you know that the people here are quite discerning. Almost any product, no matter how great, will inevitably be met with “if only this aspect were different, this would be perfect.” With our collaborative projects, our goal is to work with the manufacturers of these products to “tune” them to the desires of the community and offer them at a great price, resulting in an exclusive product that caters to what the community’s wants.

When we decided to kick off collaborations in the Massdrop Men’s Style community, the biggest question was who to partner with. We wanted to work with a brand with a strong forum following, as well as in-house manufacturing. Allen Edmonds quickly came out as a ideal choice – they have a huge fanbase on forums and beyond, and are a great go-to for those just getting into fine footwear. And while the quality of their products is quite high, many of the designs are less catered to the hardcore shoe enthusiast. Which led us to the question: what if they made a shoe specifically for us, the community?

The next step was landing on a style to pursue for the Massdrop x Styleforum project. We decided on the unlined suede chukka due to its popularity, as well as the fact that Allen Edmonds had released a few models that were ripe for tweaking (you can find many threads on the forum discussing the pros and cons of Allen Edmonds models like the Amok and Mojave). I reached out to Fok and pitched the idea to him. He has a long history of partnering with Allen Edmonds on the forum, and was able to perform the critical step of getting Massdrop in touch with Paul, the CEO of Allen Edmonds, which got the ball rolling.

I worked with Allen Edmonds production and the Massdrop team to learn about what the community’s options were in terms of materials, design, and so forth. We started working on prototypes, and once I had some samples to look at I reached out to respected members on Styleforum. With their help, we were able to hone in on what exactly a forumite would want in these shoes. After a couple months of prototyping, we landed on a style we all felt was a winner, and from there it was pretty easy.

massdrop styleforum allen edmonds unlined suede chukka boot

As you can tell, a lot of thought and a lot of details went into making these.

The most important aspects that we worked on were the material and the last. For the the suede, we sampled a few materials from CF Stead’s Janus line, and quickly agreed that Janus calf was the right call, even with the increased cost. For last shape, we wanted to shoot for the middle ground and offer something with a comfortable round shape for casual wear, without being too shapeless. Allen Edmonds’ 511 last was the natural choice, and the fact that it fits most people well was the icing on the cake.

 

From there, it was simple – introduce the shoes to the Massdrop and Styleforum communities. The project went live last week, and we’ve since sold over 700 pairs. The best part, however, is that it’s just the beginning. With this powerful example of what happens when a brand partners directly with the community they serve, we’ll be able to continue bringing projects like this to fruition. Styleforum members are full of good project ideas, and we’re going to do our best to keep up.

The Massdrop Allen Edmonds unlined chukka is available for purchase here.


The Styleforum Journal is supported by retailers such as Massdrop. This article is sponsored content.