Surf In The City

The TOP 5 beach culture trends taking over downtown this summer 


The boys in Venice Beach have switched out their hoodies and smart cars for tanks and long boards, turning our heads and hearts with every step they take. But as we city folk descend onto the streets of whatever beach town we’ve chosen for the season, all we can do is pray, Dear God. Please let at least one of these bouncy beach boys play for our team! Let's admit it, surfer guys are just a breed of a different kind. They don a casual coolness rarely seen in our inner-city lives that is both alluring and unnerving. Is he wearing ... gasp! ... flip flops? Probably so. The common thread? Surf Culture — a trend that's not just for the beach anymore, and we like it!


Trend 1: Big Wave Hair

Say goodnight Don Draper. The trend this summer is all about big tousled locks. The messier the better. To keep this look masculine consider growing out your beard a bit too. No need to get all Tom Hanks in Castaway with it, but a little scruff will go a long way here. Achieve the beachy saltwater kissed look by styling only with your fingers and letting your hair air dry. Products like Bumble and Bumble’s “Surf Spray” are also an easy way to look like you’ve been surfing all day without ever leaving the office. 


Trend 2: The Five Panel Hat

While your pops might still be sporting his panama hat and zinc oxide to the beach, the surfer bro’s have been rocking this baseball cap alternative for years with unparalleled style.This casual go anywhere look is quintessential So-Cal style especially when sported in funky patterns and prints. Brands like Supreme and Huf have all kinds of great options. Don’t be afraid to go too wild. A truly bold print like a floral or a polka dot can often be so extreme that it counterintuitively can function as a neutral and go with just about anything.


 Trend 3: Suns Out Guns Out

Tanks, like Hillary Duff,  are so yesterday. This trend is about achieving that same sex appeal with a bit of a harder edge. Take your favorite fitted T-shirt and cut the sleeves off at the arm hole. Please resist the temptation to turn your shirt into a sideless whisper of garment — it’s supposed to be a shirt, not a bib. The added bonus is that when you make one of these from an old rock tee, you can rest assured that you won’t wind up in a “who wore it best” duel to the death with your neighborhood rival stylisto. 


Trend 4: Friends Forever

… Or at least until the end of the summer. Probably our favorite of the surf-inspired trends is this throwback to the days of middle school when we used to collect friendship bracelets by the dozens. He with the most bracelets won. This time around it’s just about the same. Throw anywhere from three to ten on at a time, and wear them in a variety of colors and styles. We like the combination of leather hook styles with beaded and metal options. This playful flair gives a fun juxtaposition to otherwise serious looks and gives a welcome punch of color to more understated city styles.


Trend 5: Wiped Out Denim

Forget that American work-wear trend we have all been rocking the last few years. Trade in your dark denim for stone washed, ripped up - down right destroyed denim in styles that are slim but not skin tight. The key is casual comfort with a devil may care personality. Don’t be afraid to pair these bad boys with a striped tee under a navy blazer or with a chunky turtleneck sweater on those chillier summer nights. While inherently irreverent, distressed denim can work its way into just about any situation and look right at home.  

So there you have it — our top five beach trends for city boys. Remember, loosen things up and let these looks work regardless of your age or your location. It’s all about mixing in a little casual cool to whatever is your personal style. Start with a bracelet or two and go from there. What’s the worst that could happen? You end up living in an airstream trailer somewhere out in Malibu with Camila Alves? We think you can handle it.  


About the author: Michael Gonsalves is a prominent San Francisco-based trend spotter and style influencer known for his sardonic take on fashion and design culture. Keep up to date with his work at  

Top 10 Sunglasses for 2013

O.K. boys, summer is in full swing and you know what that means—barbecues, beach days, tea dances, Pride parties and all other sorts of outdoor activities.  Sunglasses are essential for these hot and hazy days upon us. The perfect pair of sunnies completes any outfit and especially when shirts come off, are the outfit itself. Needless to say, finding the perfect pair is crucial.  This season, tried and true shapes with a modern update are the biggest thing in eyewear. If you're throwing a little shade, here are the 10 best you don't want to miss for the season:


1. Wayfarers 

Paul Smith Limited Edition “Seaton” sunglasses, $395.00, available exclusively in Oliver Peoples Boutiques


2. Aviators

Thom Browne “015B”, $650.00, available at


3. Shield Shapes

Versace “2140” sunglasses, $190.00, available at


4. Rounded Shapes Oliver Peoples “M-4” sunglasses, $425.00,  available at


5. Tortoiseshell stylesOliver Peoples “Jannsson Sun” sunglasses, $405.00, available at


6. Transparent frames

Lindberg “8571” sunglasses, $469.00, for retailers visit


7. Ombre LensesDita “Mercer” sunglasses, $500.00, available at



8. Color Lenses

Ray-Ban “3025” sunglasses, $159.95,  available at


9. Colorful Frames

Burberry “Splash” sunglasses, $220.00, available here


10. Vintage 1960’s Shapes

Thom Browne “006A”, $675.00, available at

A Style Chat: Ernest Alexander’s Ernest Sabine & Instinct's Eric Launder



I recently attended a Summer kick off party thrown by Ernest Sabine, designer and founder of Ernest Alexander;  A New York based line of menswear, bags and accessories. The event was held on a rainy June evening at Ernest’s beautiful Chelsea loft where mint juleps were served. The party was packed with editors and stylists from across the industry, all willing to attend despite the terrible weather. Attendance like this on a night like that is no small feat for a menswear company barely five years old. However, when you consider the attention to detail on an Ernest Alexander bag or the company’s commitment to keeping manufacturing alive in America, it’s no surprise at all. Here’s what Ernest had to say about Ernest Alexander.



Who is the Ernest Alexander man?

That’s a tough question because I think we have such a wide range of people who buy our products.  I think the Ernest Alexander man is a person who appreciates today’s fashion, but is truly interested in buying a quality piece that has a story behind it. Our customer is someone who appreciates craftsmanship and wants to know about the ‘hands’ that went into making each piece. It’s someone interested in class and understated style and the finer nuances of life.


What is your greatest source of Inspiration when designing?

The greatest source of inspiration I have is just living in New York City. Everyday I walk out of my apartment in Chelsea and immediately my head is on a swivel; my eyes fixating on all these interesting people and things around me. I always get my best ideas walking from my place down 7th Avenue towards our store in SoHo. 



What is the least likely place you’ve found inspiration?

Inspiration is very unpredictable. It can come from anywhere and at pretty much any time. I think my kids have been the least likely place I’ve found inspiration in recent memory. They are so uninhibited and naturally creative and curious, just watching my son or daughter play sometimes leads me down a path to a great idea.


Who are your style icons?

It may sound a little cliché now, especially with the menswear movement that’s emerged over the last couple of years, but my grandfather is probably my biggest style icon. I didn’t get a chance to know him well, but anytime I visit my family we always go through pictures of him when he was in his 20’s and 30’s. I’m always amazed at how impeccably dressed he was. It’s hard to find an image of him not in a perfectly tailored three-piece suit with beautifully polished shoes. My family actually still has most of his clothing. It’s neat to be able to rummage through things from decades past and look at how he might have put an outfit together back in the day.



What are 5 essentials for stylish men?

            1. a great bag (of course)

            2. a navy blazer

            3. fun/interesting socks

            4. worn-in, everyday sneakers

            5. confidence


All your products are produced here in the United States of America. What made you decide to keep production local?

Both of my grandmothers were seamstresses. I can remember growing up, visiting them at their home, and seeing how hard they worked. Every piece they made or seam they tailored involved incredible attention to detail and such a labored effort. 

When they came to the U.S. they worked hard sewing in the garment district for 30+ years. Now that I have my own line, I think producing here is partly homage to them. 

In addition to that, there have been tremendous benefits for us during the brands initial inception and development especially in terms of quality control. It’s great now to be able to support local business and be a part of helping revive the once thriving manufacturing business here in New York.


You began by designing men’s bags. What do you think about when designing a bag and what are some of the unique features found on your bags?

It’s great to be able to design a bag that looks cool but, at the end of the day, is still practical for everyday use. Whether it’s a convenient slip pocket on the outside, an extra zipper or two, or working buckle closures, it’s important to make a timeless, functional piece. Obviously, our wax cotton is one of our signatures, but I think it’s the way we manipulate the fabric and the little details we add to each bag that make it feel a little more expensive. Stitching all our leather pieces all-the way around, double reinforcing our handles, and adding full linings to all of our bags help differentiate us from the competition.


Bedford Chocolate Wax Overnight Bag, $465.00


What luxury do you indulge in?

I’m not a very indulgent guy! But when I do reach for something a bit more luxurious it may be on something like a great pair of shoes or, hey, maybe even a nice bottle of scotch.


Any other exciting news to share?

Things are going well. We were nominated by GQ recently as one of the Best New Menswear Designers of the year, which is super exciting. We are in the middle of working on a collection with the Gap as a part of the nomination and simultaneously working on continuously developing our bags and getting our ready-to-wear pieces set for New York Fashion Week.


Where does Ernest Alexander retail?

You can find our entire collection at or at our retail location in SoHo at 98 Thompson Street. For a complete list of our stockists check us out on our website.


The Skivvies Bare It All

By Mike Ciriaco, Photos by Augusten Burroughs, Monica Simoes and Michelle Blake


The Skivvies are all about stripping down. The New York-based music duo of Nick Cearley and Lauren Molina perform stripped down, acoustic covers of popular songs while stripped down to their underwear. This unique act has attracted the attention of high profile collaborators, like Tony-award winner Daisey Eagan and critically acclaimed writer/photographer Augusten Burroughs. Cearley and Molina recently exposed their souls to Instinct, revealing the origins of their band, their aspirations, and of course, performing publicly in their undies.


Where did the concept of The Skivvies originate?

Nick: In our pants. Kidding. Not really. Lauren and I have been creating music together for 10 years, wearing clothes, but performing this style of stripped down covers/mashups, plus originals.

Lauren:  We were getting sandwiches at the corner deli near my apartment and the song "We Found love" by Rihanna was playing.

Nick: I remember saying to LoMo, "God, this song drives me nuts. It’s just digital noise."

Lauren: So we went back to my apartment and dissected the song. We liked what we did with it, making it a waltz march by simply changing the time signature on guitar and ukulele. And we thought we would record a video for the YouTube.

Nick:  Lauren was deciding what to wear, standing there in her bra, and shouted to me from her bedroom asking what she should wear and I said "Just wear that!"

Lauren: I was like, "Well, we are doing a stripped down version of the song...that's pretty hilarious, to take the musically stripped down element to the next visual level" Thus, The Skivvies were born. Nick loves being in his underwear and we are both theatrical actors who have often had to appear in our underwear onstage. So it just seemed right. And ironic. Covers, uncovered.


How does playing in your underwear influence your performance?

Nick: Its freeing. I'm self taught, so when I learn an instrument, I am usually in my living room in some sort of state of undress figuring it all out. Putting on clothes to play instruments feels so weird.

Lauren: When we are actually in performance, there's a natural vibe the audience gets by seeing people in their underwear. It makes you appear very vulnerable and it instantly helps the audience to be on your side. Also, if I make a mistake, they are generally more forgiving.

Nick: Yes. Our straight male and lesbian fans are very happy when Lauren makes a mistake. She usually drops something and picks it up off of the floor to make up for it.


Do you have a 'lucky pair' of undies?

Nick: I like to wear Andrew Christian, not only because he has been very kind to give me dozens of pairs, but I also feel they are very kind to my naughty parts.

Lauren:  I like wearing Victoria's Secret brand though they have not given me a damn thing. 



What was the most interesting aspect of shooting your music video 'Hardbody Hoedown' with Augusten Burroughs?

Lauren: Augusten is an incredible photographer and he has the ability to find beautiful interesting shots in the unusual.

Nick: He is also has a very generous heart.  I was fortunate he was able to take my wedding pictures when I was married last June to my husband, Eric Lesh, who is a lawyer at Lambda Legal.


In your Rockwell show in LA, you were joined by a very pregnant Daisy Eagan, also in her undies. Did this set the bar for your live shows? Have you ever done anything more unusual?

Lauren: Oh yes! She really raised the bar in all departments.

Nick: We have both been fans of Daisy since we were kids.  I remember watching the Tony Awards the year she won her Tony for The Secret Garden and I remember saying "I want to do that. I will do that." I never played Mary Lennox, but boy I tried really hard.

Lauren: We first got the idea to ask Daisy when we were reading her blog and following her on twitter and realized her sense of humor is also our sense of humor.  We simply wrote her after reading a particular jawdropping entry about healthcare in America and her being pregnant. She replied with a big fat “yes!” within seconds.

Nick: That's what so great about bringing in guests to play with The Skivvies. Everyone has a sense of playfulness and unique creativity and that we can build off together.  Each arrangement is specific for the guest.  Another aspect of individuality is in what each guest chooses to wear. 

We have had Tony Nominee heart throb Will Swenson in a G String dedicating his tune "Get Low" to his mother. The cutest was Barrett Foa in Rocky Balboa boxing get-up singing a mash-up of all songs 'Stronger.' 



How did you guys first meet?

Lauren: In 2003,  Nick and I were cast by TheatreWorks USA, a children's theatre company that tours across the country. 

Nick: We played the grandest cafetoriums in the land.


What is your ultimate goal as a duo?

Nick: The Dream! We have always been a large fan of shows that incorporate sketch comedy with music.

Lauren: "Portlandia" and "Flight of the Conchords" are recent inspirations that are similar to what we would like to be doing.

Nick: I have always been inspired by The Monkees and how they were able to incorporate these aspects so seamlessly as well.


What kind of impact are you aiming to make on the gay music scene and the music scene in general?

Nick:  I think what we are doing is truly original.  We take some of the best songs and put our own spin on them. The fact that we are in our underwear is inconsequential.

Lauren: It has been so great to be embraced by the gay crowd. Because of our backgrounds, they seemed to notice us first and give us so much love and attention.

Nick: Wit and irony seem to always be embraced by the gay scene. Look at Oscar Wilde.

Lauren: He also was the first to say "All art is truly useless."

Nick: Well, I think an underwear clad duo singing cool mashups on cello and ukulele, with comedic undertones, is a pretty useful asset to any music scene.

Brand Yourself


Everybody knows Lee. You either are him or you know someone like him. He’s that smart, handsome, generally affable gay in the office that everybody loves or at least enjoys living vicariously through. He wore pomade when everyone else was still rocking gel. He flung himself into the fancy sock trend like a midwestern mom with a Beanie Baby obsession—must. collect. all. Be it his perfectly waxed caterpillar eyebrows or his general defiance for any outfit that might seem “regular” the dude has balls, if not actually any definable style.

Despite all this “character” and attention, Lee has been in the same position in his career for more than five years. At 36 years old he’s frustrated with the fact that he can’t seem to get past the #2 role on his team. He has stood by and patiently watched his coworkers get promoted to positions that he knows should have been his. Instead he trains his new bosses in the intricacies of the industry and quietly waits his turn wondering why that couldn’t have been him. Time and time again, Lee gets praised for his efforts and passed up for the job.

No one would want to believe that a guy like Lee was passed up for a job because of the way he looks. The truth is—he probably was—at least to a more significant degree than he thinks. While Lee’s constantly changing hair styles, ever shrinking T-shirts, bright socks and over-all edgy attire fit right in with the playful and wild personality he bares on the weekends with friends, they say nothing about the hard working, generally serious and passionate man he is at work. His office world sees Lee as a sort of little brother-best friend—great to have around and totally likeable, but not necessarily the guy who is going to lead us into battle. Whether he knows it or not, his fashion is undercutting the message he is trying to tell about his professionalism.

As a style columnist I am very aware of people like Lee. They are everywhere. These are great, hard-working guys who deserve to be taken seriously but who are constantly being overlooked because they don’t see the real implications of not placing enough importance on the image that they put out. Your personal style at work needs to say so much more than what your tastes are in fashion. Your clothes are the packaging in which you wrap your professional brand. 

This isn’t to say that every man needs to go out and invest in Hugo Boss suits and Bruno Magli shoes in order to appear competent. If Lee were working in graphic design, then his fashion-forward hair, tight T-shirts and colorful pants would tell exactly the right story: “This guy is on the cutting edge, he’s creative, cool and confident.” If he were to be in finance, it would tell a different story: “This guy is delusional.” It’s all about honing in on the right message. 

Take Steve Jobs for example. Steve stood at the helm of one of the world’s most successful companies and wore jeans, a black turtleneck and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses in nearly every public appearance he ever made. Believe me when I tell you that this was no accident. His look became iconic—a clear and defined indication to the world the he and his company were about simple, relatable experiences that pushed the status quo. What he wore mattered. 

If you want to be recognized as a smart, serious yet energetic ad sales manager, dress in clothing that reflects this. If a serious, dedicated and traditional type is the man you aspire to be, mold your appearance to more classic and tailored styles. Equally important, as with any good branding campaign, consistency is key. You can play with style but be sure to stay on message when at work. If you show up as a rock star on Monday and a humble book worm on Tuesday, the only thing people will think about you is that you suffer from multiple personality disorder. You’ve got to commit.  

This will help psychologically as well. Mama Oprah talks about envisioning yourself in the space you want to be. You have to act as if you are the person you want to be until you actually are that person. Just as actors tell of not being able to fully get into character until they put their costumes on, and audiences are unlikely to believe an actor in the role of Hamlet if he shows up in jeans and a T, if you aren’t dressing the part in your real life you can’t expect anyone to believe that you are the right guy for the job.  

The answer to Lee’s troubles isn’t just in putting in more hours or waiting his turn. It isn’t switching companies for more opportunity either. What Lee needs is to recognize the importance of investing in himself and his personal brand. By reclaiming his public identity Lee will be able to brand himself as the person he not only is but wants to become. We should all take inventory of our professional attire at least once every six months. Are you sending the right message?

Our Fashion Director's Favorite Things For Spring

New York is knee-deep in spring. The trees are flowering, birds are singing and Chelsea boys all over town are starting to emerge from their chunky winter cable knits. Yes, the city is starting to wake up from its winter doldrums, and even though the spring weather has a personality disorder that rivals Sally Fields in Sybil, the promise of summer is just around the corner. These fresh items are a great addition to any spring wardrobe and will transition really nicely for the summer months.

If you haven't heard, Jonathan Adler has a new line of ties and pocket squares—and yes, squirrel friends, there are squirrels on them along with other iconic Jonathan Adler prints and patterns reminiscent of his pottery. This reversible silk bow tie below has bold Americana stripes on one side and squirrels on the other—perfect to spruce up a spring suit with a classic color scheme that will see you through summer barbecues and picnics.

Jonathan Adler Reversible Stripe: $69.50

Available at



This cheery linen and cotton pocket square will add a fresh splash of color to a lightweight blazer and jeans for weekend brunches with friends.

Jonathan Adler Nixon Floral Pocket Square: $69.50

Available at



On rainy spring days, I love to see guys rocking out an L.L. Bean duck boot with a slim cut suit. But every now and then you don't want to be wearing a rubber boot indoors all day. Swims updated galoshes are a great streamlined alternative to bulky rain boots.  They're Incredibly practical and priceless for the amount of leather shoes you'll save when those unexpected spring showers hit. Available in fun fashion colors as well as work-appropriate neutrals.  

Swims 'Classic' Overshoe: $95

Available at and



Field jackets are wonderful for that time of year when the weather is running hot and cold and you need an extra layer, but your down parka seems a bit overkill. Ernest Alexander makes one of the best field jackets I've seen in ages, with thoughtful details like a trim cut and plenty of pockets (including a back pheasant pocket to hold all your essentials). The jacket's wax coating adds an extra benefit of weather resistance, too!

Ernest Alexander 'Wooster' Field jacket: $455

Available at



Michael Bastian's inspiration this season for Gant was exploration. Even though prime beach weather is  a few months off, I can't help but fantasize about all beaches I'll be exploring in these swim trunks this summer.  

Gant by Michael Bastian swim trunks: $125

Available at


InTrend Spring 2013: Flare Is In The Air

As always, the spring runway shows were all over the board. From Gaultier showing a fabric lobster worn as a shirt to more than a few fashion houses showing nightgowns (yep, you read that right) as “outerwear,” it’s easy to leave the runway scratching your head. Where do we go from here?! 

We dove in deep and read between the lines in order to bring you the top four trends we can expect to translate onto the streets near you this spring. While the fashion kings definitely have their own point of view, the one commonality among them this year seems to be a fever for flare. Gone are the days of the “urban dandy” and Americana throwback trend of subtle classic looks. 2013 is taking us to the future in technicolor. Look for bold patterns, quirky nods to times gone by in bolder, exaggerated iterations and above all else, the message is to take a few risks and have as much fun as possible. With that in mind—we bring you our guidebook to Spring 2013.

Busy Bottoms 

Get your minds out of the gutter, boys—we’re talking about patterned pants here. This season we couldn’t get enough of the variations of trousers that came down the runway in repeating graphics, bold tartans and contrasting stripes. Whether slim fit or in voluminous versions (another trend that will be gone before it came—see: don’t bother),  this look is all about getting attention below the, um, waistline. To make this look your own consider blocking your outfit all in one or two colors. The consistency in tone will help the pattern stand out without looking like you’re rocking clown pants. Think bright, fun and casual. While definitely not a boardroom look, this style means business. Go big or go home, kids.

(Band of Outsiders, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Duckie Brown)

LL Cool Gay 

You might not have been raised on the mean streets, but if you’re anything like me you at least have a little J.Lo flavor deep down somewhere. I, for one, am still Mikey from the block. If the runways this season have anything to do with it, you’ll be sippin’ Gin n Juice with Snoop Lion in no time. Think of this trend more as a tribute than an imitation. It’s Brad Goreski meets Notorious BIG. Hip-hop style is known for it’s big statements and even bigger jewelry. Rock a cluster of gold chains over a buttoned-up look or tilt your brim ever so slightly while sporting your ultra-preppy tennis outfit. It’s about incorporating quintessential hip-hop styles like multi-color camo, chunky jewelry and sports logos, while having fun with it to bold up otherwise classic outfits. As long as you keep it to one or two signature pieces (at the very least, you can rock sneakers!) you really can’t go wrong. 

(3.1 Philip Lim, Dsquared2, Kenzo)

The New Nirvana 

He smelled like teen spirit and most of us spirited teens would have sniffed up whatever he was giving. For children of the ‘90s, Kurt Cobain was a zeitgeist fashion moment. Now, nearly 15 years after the grunge explosion, a new brighter more-graphic version of the classic Seattle style is in full force. More about how you style your clothes as opposed to which clothing you wear, this look is about layered loose pieces over body hugging shirts and pants. Wear a classic rock T-shirt with an almost-neon plaid button up tied over one shoulder and cinched at your chest. Rock chunkier boots but add patterned laces, or wear a simple button up open with a striped tank underneath with two or three necklaces. Think Johnny Depp 2018—on the way to Whole Foods. Again, this isn’t a dress like 1990 costume party. Take one or two elements of the look and incorporate it into your own every-day look. 



(Todd Snyder, General Idea, 3.1 Philip Lim)


Prep Pop 

This is definitely one of the most common trends on the runway this season. We are talking almost comically preppy ensembles. Think sweaters tied over your shoulders, saddle shoes, polo shirts and parted hair. Is that enough? Of course not. To capture the trend, add a dash of sass to the mix with bright colors and over-the-top volume. Look for cable knit sweaters with collars so wide they practically fall off your shoulders (see Burberry Prorsum below) and polo’s in tech fabrics that stretch and cling in less than traditional ways. While the runway versions may be way over the top, just like the grunge trend above the translation to your real life comes in small manageable doses. Just a little bit of prep will add some real pop to your personal style. 

(Canali, Burberry Prorsum, Gant) 

For Suits Sake: A Guide to New Suits

Recently, I was asked by two friends to weigh in on a sartorial question they had been arguing about.  "What do you do with those tags on the sleeves of suits and overcoats?  The kind with the designer's logo on them. Do you leave them on or take them off after you purchase a suit?" I'm here to set the record straight about this and a few other small details when purchasing a suit or overcoat. Do you remove these tags? The short answer to this question is yes! Please, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, remove this tag after you make a purchase and for sure before you ever wear this suit out into the light of day.   

When you walk into the men's section of your local department or specialty store, you'll most likely be greeted with rack after rack of very similar-looking suits or overcoats. Those tiny labels on the sleeves my friends were referring to are there to identify the designer easily so you don't have to go digging on the inside of the suit to find out who made it. That is their only purpose. They aren't there as a design statement or an artistic embellishment. Leaving them on more or less announces to the world two things: First, you want everyone to know how much or, worse, how little you've spent on this item and second, you don't know enough about suits to be wearing one in the first place. Either way, this clearly isn't the message you want to be putting out to the world in the one garment men have to convey power and refinement. 

Buying an "off the rack" suit unfortunately does not mean you can actually wear it off the rack, as the list of rules in purchasing a suit don't stop with just the arm label. Because suits and overcoats are expensive investment pieces, there are other hidden element's that need attention before you take that suit out for it's maiden voyage.    You'll notice on most suits that certain areas are sewn shut. (Usually the pockets and the back vents...) The reason for this is shipping—it prevents major creases, rips and tears, and keeps the garment in an overall pristine condition on its way from factory to store. I can't tell you how frustrated I get when traveling around New York on the subway and see people walking around in their suits and overcoats with the back vents still tacked shut. I once even had a friend argue with me that it was meant to be this way. (I promise you, it isn't.) All it will do is make the back of your suit jacket pull in odd ways and restrict your movement.

The pockets on a suit are more of a grey area. My tailor insists I keep my exterior pockets on a suit tacked shut except for the breast pocket. His argument is that the suit has plenty of pockets on the inside to hold the essentials, and the moment you start shoving a wallet, keys, cell phone, etc. in your outside pockets, the more the suit looks like a bulky misshapen mess. I do what he says partly because he has a long list of powerful and well known clients that look impeccable at all times...and partly because I don't want to get yelled at if I bring these things in to him for alterations in the future.  However, I'm usually of the school of thought that you should wear your clothes and not the other way around, so if you prefer to open the pockets and use them, do it. Just don't use them as a hold all because it will alter the shape of the suit drastically and make you look lumpy.

If all these rules sound complicated or you are too afraid to take a seam ripper or scissors to your brand new purchase, my advice would be to find a reputable tailor that can make these adjustments for you. You'll likely need to pay a visit to one anyway as most suits do need minor alterations in the beginning. The pants may need hemming, the sleeves may need slimming and the back may need to be tapered to fit you properly. Just ask your tailor to remove the tacks and tags while he's making the other alterations and he'll most likely do so gratis. Keep these things in mind the next time you purchase a suit or overcoat and you'll look like you paid a visit to Savile Row.


What The Ish Is “Snappy Casual”?!

We’ve all been there. You get that masterfully embossed, perfume-spritzed invitation in the mail with all the details on that fabulous party that’s just around the corner. Everything is straightforward—from the occasion to the location. One thing, however, stops you dead in your tracks. “What the ish is snappy casual?!” With each party planner trying to top the last, dress codes have become a science to decode. Fear not, my sartorially challenged friends, I have unmasked the mystery and developed a foolproof guide to help you navigate virtually any dress code dilemma. 

Let’s start with…


Despite your initial nostalgia for the long-loved high school milestone (the “winter formal under the sea”), formal is not a time for powder blue leisure suits or mini shampoo bottles full of Boone’s Farm. Formal, as requested in an invitation, not only means a tuxedo but it specifically means a tuxedo with a white vest and white tie. Think Titanic, royal, and that adorable picture above of el presidente and the first diva. If you want to get real jazzy, this is the one attire where tails and a top hat would actually be acceptable. Unless you’re Mr. Peanut, those “accessories” are unacceptable elsewhere. 

Semi-Formal (or Black Tie)

Formal is to the Inaugural Ball as Black Tie is to the Oscars. The most common dress code among dressy events and galas, Black Tie (also referred to as Semi-Formal) is meant to be traditional but not too dramatic. Black Tie is not a figure of speech. You have to wear a black tie and a tuxedo—no exceptions! Black tie affairs are much more about a woman’s ball gown than a man’s ensemble, but feel free to dress up your outfit with a pair of spectacular shoes, a funky hidden lining in your suit jacket or some fun and interesting cuff links. Style is all in the subtle details with this one.

Black Tie Optional (or Creative Black Tie)

Sticking with our award-show theme, Black Tie Optional is the dress code of the Gammy’s. This is a dressy experience, but one that is meant to be more fun, more irreverent and a little bit sexy. Dark suits in black and navy are more than acceptable—and often preferred. Ties are required in one form or another but can run the gamut of colors and patterns. Have a little fun with this dress code. Dare to wear a maroon slim-fit suit or a bright paisley print shirt under your black suit and black bow tie. Creative Black Tie is your chance to look like a rockstar ready for the red carpet. Seize the day!

Business/Semi-Formal (Wedding Invitation)

Business attire is pretty straightforward—it means you need to wear a suit and tie. That’s pretty much it. Not so straightforward are wedding invitations that come with the dress request of “Semi-Formal.” Fear not, nine times out of 10 this is simply the mistake of the bride (or, regrettably, often the wedding planner, who should know better) and does not mean you need to arrive in black tie. In today’s wedding attire standards, Semi-Formal means wear a suit. The good news is, at least for you casual Carls out there, you aren’t required to wear a tie to the wedding. Make sure if you don’t wear a tie that you embellish your look with a pocket square to balance the informality. 

Business Casual/Dressy Casual

This is the request that probably stumps people the most. The reason I believe that business casual has been confused for so long is the fact that so many men simply lack the wardrobe to do this look correctly. In today’s working world, men often either wear full blown suits to work or much more casual options. When it comes to rocking “business casual,” they end up wearing their suit with no tie or a pair of khakis and a polo shirt, purely out of desperation. Neither one is acceptable. When working dressy casual or business casual think separates. Wear a deconstructed jacket (no lining—and don’t you dare wear your suit jacket as a blazer) with a pair of flat front chinos or slacks. This dress code always calls for a button up, but more casual cotton options are a cool alternative, as are cardigans or V-neck pullovers worn over a knit or felt tie. Long story short, dress like you are in a J.Crew or Banana Republic catalogue and you will be on the right track. 

Cocktail/After 5/Smart or Snappy Casual

Cocktail and smart and snappy, oh my. All of these descriptions drive me bananas! They are all just a fancy way for saying, “Dress like you are going out for the night in Hollywood.” They could have also said, “look cool.” The idea is that this isn’t just any old night out. For any of these invitations consider that your outfit should be special. Keep things slim fit. Don’t be afraid to rock some color (like these boys above). Concentrate on accessories like pocket squares, narrow and polished belts, great watches and shoes. Don’t be the guy in just a pair of slacks and a button up—that is so boring. If you must do the button up, go for a pair of chinos in a bright color with a crisp white shirt. Don’t be afraid of a slim tie with a tie bar or even...wait for it...a turtleneck! Whatever you choose, your look must say nighttime, sexy and cool. The only way to achieve a look like that is to feel it. Try on as many outfits as it takes and pick the one that gives you swagger.    

A little extra advice ...

Always wear a suit to a wedding. 

The tie is optional for day weddings. But for evening weddings you must wear a dark suit and a tie.

If you must rent a tuxedo, order it a full size smaller than normal. 

You’ll thank me later. 

When it comes to business casual, veer toward the more formal and mimic your boss. 

Business Casual at Google means jeans and a button up, at a hedge fund it means a suit with no tie. At your first event go toward a more traditional look and gauge your peers. 

No matter what the dress code—if it’s after 5 p.m. you need to wear dark colors. 

If it’s before 5 p.m. you can wear lighter colors. See? Easy!

Wear good shoes and always keep them polished. 

Sorry dude. You can’t wear your Converse with a blazer.


Auston Björkman Talks SIR New York

(Auston is wearing SIR New York jacket and Grey Ant sunglasses; Photo: Amos Mac) 

Several weeks before the rush of New York Fashion Week I had the opportunity to attend Project NY,  a three-day, trade-only event showcasing the Fall 2013 lines of high-end contemporary menswear designers. While there, I sat down with designer Auston Björkman and chatted with him about his label, SIR New York.

Currently in its fourth season, Auston started his own line after cutting his teeth with the likes of Thom Browne and Loden Dagger. A graduate of the menswear program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Auston's concept behind the brand is athleticism with a hint of provocation. "It's kind of like sexy athletic wear combined with high-end design and street wear,” he says. “It's also about texture: layering and pairing unexpected technical fibers with natural fibers to create a new texture and a new print."

Here's what else Auston had to say about SIR NY:

Who is the SIR Man?

It seems to be evolving quite a bit. I thought of it more as the high-end creative, sort of gay-ish city dweller that's really into fashion, but it's morphing more into street wear; hip-hop, rappers…the people that are really following it are the kids who are really into fashion and music.

What is your favorite piece from the Fall 2013 collection?

The neoprene, for sure. I'm in love with sublimation prints on neoprene. Honestly, after I've done this [collection] I want to touch nothing else ever again.

What's been your greatest source of inspiration?

Duality. I try to combine two different athletic endeavors or something that is seen as macho—like a macho sport—with something that is more refined. For example, one season it was archery and racecar driving. I take the racing stripe but then maybe a dolman sleeve that you would see in womenswear, but don't see that much in menswear, and pair it. Or feature a shoulder guard that an archer would wear. I try to balance that masculinity and femininity in the clothes a lot.

Where is the least likely place you've found inspiration?

This season I was inspired by dying glaciers. I had been watching a documentary and it was so beautiful and yet so sad at the same time, watching these glaciers turn black and just disappear. I started thinking about what if that actually does happen, and then paired it with après ski sportswear, something you would wear to a ski lodge, and thinking what if that just disappears altogether? So it's this sort of very comforting but then unsettling thing. So that's pretty unlikely I think. But really anywhere; it could just be the way something's lining up, the way the lines are on a building…really anything.

Who are your style icons?

That also changes quite a bit. I really like what ASAP is doing right now; going into lesser-known brands that are very androgynous and street but also high-end. That's been driving my inspiration the last couple seasons. And then there are the classic Clark Gable sort of men. So it's often the juxtaposition of two opposite things that really combine for me and coexist.











What are five items that make up a stylish man?

For me it's not necessarily the items, but how you wear it. A stylish man could be wearing the ugliest thing in the world but there's something about the way he'll wear it and be so confident. Maybe just tuck it in somewhere that you wouldn't expect or leave it untucked like you wouldn't expect or button it all the way up—its something about the way you put it together and how you feel in it. For me it's not an item and it isn't a label or anything like that. It's just the confidence and the ease and how you wear it.

Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer?

No, I started out wanting to be an architect and then went into photography. I'm kind of a small guy, so I started sewing to tailor clothes to fit me and then I started working in leather and latex. From there I was like, "Well how do I do this?" I realized that I wanted to wear things that I didn't see anywhere else.

What luxury do you indulge in?

Alpaca. If you're talking about clothing, it's just the softest, most-comfortable thing you could ever have. To me, it's better than cashmere, it's so great…and leather.

What can we expect from SIR for Fall 2013?

Sublimation prints and neoprene. It's almost a paired-down collection from the last season, but it's very targeted. Black and gold are the color schemes this season.

Again, there's that ruggedness but yet the ease that I really like is there. Really, the sublimation prints are the key item. It's the most beautiful way to print fabric that I've ever played with and I'm in love with the whole process.

Where does SIR retail?

In New York, we're at Oak, Atrium, OwenShop Untitled and International Playground. In L.A. we're at Joyrich. Isitan in Japan. The Unconventional  in the UK and Lab and ID in Toronto.

(Auston is wearing SIR New York, Grey Ant sunglasses and Dr. Martens boots; Photo: Amos Mac)

Preview the rest of Auston Björkman's Fall 2013 line at