2013 – Time to Get Smart (?)

While other bloggers are no doubt admirably committing to their New Year’s resolutions by publishing posts themed around them, I sit back and wait for them all to fail miserably lazily concoct hypothetical style-related resolutions. Say, for example, 2013 was the year in which I resolved to sharpen up my sartorial act, swap ‘gear’ for ‘garments’, ditch leather-sleeve bombers for classic overcoats, Tims for brogues or monk-straps, and a wardrobe chiefly composed of short- and long-sleeve tees for more separates that oh-so-very subtly say, rather than scream, elegance.

And, for the hell of it, let’s say I really lose the f*!king plot and end up experimenting with accessories despite the fact that me + them is a match more forged in the pits of hell, rather than made in heaven.

Let’s say 2013 is the year I grow up and this is what I resolve to wear…

^ 1. Crombie Donegal overcoat from Crombie; 2. John Lobb leather monk-strap shoes from Mr Porter; 3. Corgie mid-calf cashmere socks from Barneys; 4. Rick Owens night top from Farfetch; 5. Tom Ford Grey Vetiver; 6. Maison Martin Margiela 11 men’s ring from LN-CC; 7. Gucci slim-fit cotton blend trousers from Mr Porter

No, I don’t think it’s going to happen this year either. Give it another decade or so and we’ll see if it’s still all a bit fat chance…


Inkling x Merry Christmas

Considering this Christmas is the first I’ve spent abroad, this year’s festive season will likely be less turkey-scoffing, vegetating and bad-Christmas-film-consuming and more leisurely-Christmas-morning-brunching, walks in Central Park and plenty of mulled wine ’til mullered.

Despite being far from many friends and family, staying put in NYC for Christmas has let me off the hook with the usual present purchasing for fear off bankrupting myself on shipping costs. A definite plus. The rest of you, however, should either be running the final shopping lap or already hopelessly lost amid a sea of garish wrapping paper, coated thread and frustratingly creased sellotape. If not, here are your marching orders because I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but you’ve not got longer than 24 hours to save your hide.

It’s a little late for online shopping but if it’s inspiration you’re after, then a project I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with may be just the thing to get you motivated for last minute Christmas-shopping madness.

Inkling is a London-based online gift-suggestion tool, which saves the inevitable brain-racking and possible breakdown that goes with contemplating Christmas presents. I was brought on board to flesh out their men’s style and lifestyle offering (a selection of which can be seen above), which basically meant picking out a horde of things I’d like to see waiting for the ravishing under the tree this year.

Whether you’re prepared or panicking, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a bountiful New Year. Stay safe, satiated and mildly sozzled.
Browse Inkling

Come back Summertime.

A lot of you will think it unforgivable blasphemy but I personally feel a lot of Lanvin looks better like this – broken apart into its constituent pieces, re-worked, and presented in a totally new light markedly different from its original runway show styling. Don’t get me wrong, Lucas Ossendrijver is one of the greatest menswear designers of our time, but it’s really only with the latest SS13 collection that the styling errors have begun to subside.

Anyway, this is really has much less to do with Lanvin show styling and much more to do with my wanting Summer back. Give it back, Winter, so I can wear all of this and stop shivering indoors.

1. Lanvin eelskin stripe sweatshirt from LN-CC; 2. Adidas Originals Adi Hi trainers from JD Sports; 3. Alexander McQueen slim-fit cotton gabardine trousers from Mr Porter; 4. Lanvin resine melusine cap from LN-CC; 5. Alexander Wang ‘Wallie’ gym bag from Farfetch

Mind the Chap: ‘Seek Individuality. Dress Independently’.

If you’re an exclusively designer devotee, the online shopping possibilities are myriad. From LN-CC to Oki-ni, Mr Porter to SSense, those with that bit more disposable income are spoilt for choice. The same goes for those on the directly opposite end of the scale, demanding a replication of the high-street experience online, an experience offered by numerous stores from ASOS to Urban Outfitters.

But the market gap in between seems relatively unexplored, a hazy area of little known artisan brands at mid- to luxury-level pricepoints that deters those entrepreneurs betting on either high income or high turnover. NYC-based online men’s store Mind the Chap, co-founded by retail mavens Sapna Shah and Lisa Walters, brandishes the balls it takes to broach the unchartered territory and we’ll be forever in their debt. I caught up with Sapna to talk retail, specialist brands, and standing out…

Male-Mode: What three words describe Mind the Chap most accurately? 

 Mind the Chap: We have a phrase versus three individual words: Showcasing edgy emerging designer – yes, i know that’s four words but we are wordy people!

Being two female co-founders, do you feel your gender helps or hinders you in creating an online men’s store?

More than gender, we feel that our experience in retail is the key in creating an online menswear site. Lisa and I have been in retail for a combined 25 years and this is our second entrepreneurial venture (our first was a retail consultancy for Wall Street).

 Given our experience, we have a unique perspective on the fashion and retail industries because we’ve been so closely involved in new retail concepts and emerging brands, as well as worked for larger retail organizations like Ann Taylor, Gap and Linens ‘n Things. After years of shopping for our husbands, brothers and friends, we’ve developed a distinct sense for unique brands and ahead-of-the-trend fashion. We’re bringing this talent to Mind the Chap customers looking for something new and fresh, and not from the usual labels.

With plenty of competition already jostling in the men’s online retail market, how does Mind the Chap carve out its own niche?

We believe Mind the Chap is unique in our approach to menswear online in a variety of ways. Our point of differentiation from other sites is to feature a selection of highly curated, fashion-forward emerging designers and brands that have extremely limited distribution (many are exclusive to Mind the Chap). Essentially, we carry the brands that you can’t find elsewhere – we are constantly seeking out new brands that are ahead of the trend and cycling out brands that get too big for our model.

We believe this approach is unique to Mind the Chap and results in great collections that you can’t find anywhere else. Mind the Chap is your wardrobe wingman, providing you with edgy, emerging brands that have novel design approaches and high quality craftsmanship – brands that only the most style-savvy insiders know about. These are not the brands your friends are wearing – they are the ones your friends will be asking you about. Seek individuality. Dress independently. These are our imperatives.

Your current brand roster ranges from sporty prep and smart casual to a style more experimental, are you appealing to a broad range of men, rather than following the more conservative model adopted by other stores, which stick to a more specific target market?

We are targeting a male customer 25-45 yrs old and we want to provide him with options for his lifestyle – whether he is more classic, casual, minimalist, or fashion forward. Our unique approach on the site is to mix and match a variety of lifestyles/brands together with outfits to create options for our shopper, so that even the more edgy brands become more approachable. This is another unique aspect of our site as most retailers and sites showcase head-to-toe branded looks.

What are the three key pieces for Fall Winter 2012?

Three pieces you must have this season are colored bottoms (a great khaki in burnt orange or red are our favorites), a great bag (leather or waxed canvas) and a standout tie (or better yet a bow tie!).

1. Will Leather Goods Howell double-zip portfolio; 2. General Knot & Co. fine charcoal chambray and black floral bow tie; 3. Sandast Italo weekender; 4. Will Leather Goods red Lennon backpack


Learn more about Mind the Chap | Shop Mind the Chap

A Selection for Pickie; Gift Ideas for the Guy with Relaxed Style

Who dubbed Berlin ‘start-up city’? Since arriving in NYC, I’ve come across more online fashion-related start-ups than I can shake a mouse-pointer at. It’s difficult to think of the economic landscape as particularly nurturing for a new wave of innovators what with sky-high rents, often crippling taxes and decent salaries that trump the paltry few euro-an-hour wages of the German capital, and yet, NYC is brimming with new fashion-related e-commerce concepts.
Case in point: Pickie; a new iPad app designed to make the process of gifting entirely seamless. Having just announced their reaching $1m in venture funding investment, Pickie are well on their way to carving a niche in the re-torial market.
As part of their Holiday Gift Guide, I shared a few thoughts on what to buy the more sartorially laid-back guy in your life; sneak a peek, and click through below for more…

The Khaki Contrast Jacket.

It’s a rare occurrence that a major womenswear trend will wander from its original context and migrate to men’s, but the now ubiquitous khaki contrast leather-sleeved biker jacket seems to be proving itself an exception to the unwritten rule.

A punchy combination of a quintessentially military/safari style with the timeles bad-ass insouciance of the biker jacket, this hybrid garment has swamped the high-streets since its recent emergence on the runway, with every accessible womenswear retailer offering their own version (Primark, Zara, Topshop etc.), and now with menswear designers trying their collective hand at it, too.

I’ve – so far – seen a Simon Spurr version as well as several bomber styles from the likes of McQ and Undercover. The below, from the house of Balenciaga, is the undisputed highlight so far. Here’s what to wear it with…

1. Balenciaga tweed and leather biker jacket from Matches Fashion; 2. Church’s Grizedale pebble-grain leather brogue boots from Mr Porter; 3. Thom Browne black half-frame sunglasses from Farfetch; 4. Sparks Blitz jeans from Topman; 5. Mulberry day leather gloves from Matches Fashion; 6. Belstaff Dorchester leather tote bag from Mr Porter.

Topman 1/2 Price: Transitional Pieces.

As much as I like to poke fun at Topman for its exorbitant prices and hardly enduring quality, the company is the leader in its market when it comes to fulfilling the role of the modern high-street store i.e. scour shows and identify trends, subsequently translate trends to wearable and more affordable items for the average Joe consumer, thus completing the trickle-down effect.
On top of that, there’s all the sponsoring burgeoning talent (NEWGEN Men) and collaborations (LENS) they’re engaged in, which usually tends to dull any scathing criticism of their own wares. Let’s face it, it’s a bloody good brand and Design Director Gordon Richardson is a bit of a genius, no matter how naff the cotton goes when you’ve washed that tee a couple of times…
But – as per – I digress, what I meant to say was that there’s an extensive up to 1/2 price sale starting today and whatever my views on purchasing their clothing at full price, I’m always game for buying the stuff by bucket-loads when it’s reduced. 
Here a few picks for the transitional season:
^ Port Marl Twist Neck Jumper – £15.00 (down from £22). Perfect for taking the edge off the slightly windier days of Spring.
^ Striped Crew Neck Jumper – £20.00 (down from £30). Nope, Breton stripes aren’t going anywhere.
^ Canvas ‘Elements’ Shopper – £3.00 (down from £6). Since it’s probably not as likely to rain as it has been, these are finally safe to tote.
^ ‘Oui Ja Yes’ Tee – £7.00 (down from £14). For the more glass-half-full of you out there.
^ Grey Cotton Carrot Cargo Jeans – £20.00 (down from £40). Bought these before I made the move to Berlin, now pretty much live in them.
^ ‘Matias’ Hiking Boots – £45.00 (down from £85). You know when everyone went insane about hi-tops? I remained by and large indifferent. Had hi-tops looked like these, however, i’d probably be penniless now…
For shed loads more, see here.

Embracing the Cable.

So what was supposed to be a few hours spent scouring for the sexiest, best value boots online turned into an entire Sunday evening deliberating over styles and even resorting to Twitter to ask your opinions, though I could think of worse ways of spending the last few hours of the weekend. For those of you who recommended the Bench Wyatt, well, that’s what I went with in the end. Who’d have thought a casuals brand that could, for me, previously only connote D4 girls’ asses in sweatpants would proffer such great footwear for men?
Anyway, being the impulsive wreck that I am when it comes to a spot of online shopping, the boots weren’t alone in my shopping bag, but rather enjoyed the good company of – amongst other items – a chunky cable crew knit from ASOS (yes, I know, I need to be curbing the addiction soon…), which I’m quite excited about but still not wholly satisfied with, since it was not my original choice. If you thought my hunt for boots was extensive, then you’ll not believe the time I spent trawling through teh interwebz to find something of a cable ilk to keep me insulated on top for the months ahead.
^ ASOS Cable Crew Knit AKA the one I bought
Never my first port of call, but offering the best jumper I’ve seen so far is this Tommy Hilfiger cricket jumper that is going for chips, but, hélas, won’t be delivered to Ireland because of oh you know that unwritten rule that everything bought in this country must be sold at an exorbitant price. And, naturally, the style isn’t carried in Europe. Fack.
^ Tommy Hilfiger Londonderry Cable Knit Sweater
The below was another option, although I decided against it because my deathly pallor probably wouldn’t be the most fitting accompaniment to its off white hue, and, well, because it’s called ‘Rugger’…
^ Gant Rugger Cable Knit
I wish I could say the below two were other options but, in all honesty, I’d have to relinquish my room and take to the streets for sleeping for a good month if I bought even one of these…
^ From Top: Unconditional Scoop-neck Cable Knit, and Levi’s Vintage Crew-neck Cable Knit
What jumper are you hunting for this season?
Images from Tommy Hilfiger and ASOS

AllSaints AW10: Lusting for Leather.

Much like Mat of Buckets and Spades, I’ve endeavoured to reign in my inner magpie of late, and tried my hand at channeling all-knowing-sartorial-god-who-never-makes-shitty-impulse-purchases. So far so…er…alright. I’ve acquired a good pair of tan chinos that are tan enough to work in a winter wardrobe, and a black racer-back cowl neck vest that I’ll probably be wearing to clubs for the next year and a half if I have my way.

Still, I’m lacking key AW pieces, and as part of this wardrobe overhaul/spending habit intervention, I’ve been compiling a mental list of what’s required and what needs to be avoided like the fast fashion plague. Top of said list is a black leather jacket. And I mean leather, not some pleather substitute that denies you that specific smell and luxurious yet robust feel that you get only from genuine leather. Surprisingly, I’ve come across quite a few potential models with top of the list being this babe of a jacket from Urban Outfitters (although it seems we’re meant to be kept parted since the measurements are a bit off-kilter for me), closely followed by oh pretty much every single piece from AllSaints range of men’s leather jackets.

Ideally, I want an asymmetric, zippers-ahoy, big f**k-off biker style (see AllSaints’ Biker below) but I’ve also been just a bit entranced by the slew of subtle but v. slick crushed leather jackets that have emerged on the market for this season (tried on amazing one in French Connection and had my first brush with heaven), which AllSaints does pretty well with their current offering, Collide (below).

^ AllSaints Biker jacket

^ AllSaints Collide jacket

Last but most definitely not least is the Mace hooded jacket. Er, yeah, it’s hooded, which kind of has me wanting to leg it from the laptop right now. I don’t wear hoodies, I don’t wear hooded parkas, I don’t wear hooded duffle coats, and although I wouldn’t quite call it an absolute aversion, I’m really not all that hot on them, which is a damned pity considering the below jacket practically drips sex but, well, you know, has a bloody hood. Still, if you’re not quite as easily irritated by extra hanging fabric as I am, I’d be bagging this one now.

^ AllSaints Mace hooded jacket

So, which do you think is the style to last a lifetime?

Ushering in Autumn: my-wardrobe.com for AW10.

Is it usually this stiflingly hot in London? In so many ways the English capital doesn’t seem so far removed from Dublin but anything weather-related is an exception. Yeah, you have a few showers here now and then but the constant humidity is nigh on unbearable most of the time and I’m not usually in fear of extensive sunburn when running crawling to the corner shop back home.
While this Summer may have brought me sky-high levels of vitamin D, it’s also ushered in a sort of sartorial lethargy; vests, shorts and shoes sans socks are all I can manage when a walk to the Tube is bound to prove more tropical than temperate. So, naturally, I’ve already started thinking about what’ll be on offer come Autumn/Winter and the folks at my-wardrobe.com were more than willing to inform about the choices for padding for the impending weather change.
The v. lovely Susannah and Ashleigh gave me a thorough run down of what’s on offer, from Stone Island to Paul Smith, Grenson boots to Mulberry bags.
Personally, I’m not huge on utilitarian clothing or conforming to the mantra of function over form. Don’t get me wrong, I embraced the workwear trend as wholeheartedly as the next man donning boots and denim shirts pretty regularly, but as a rule I’m not hunting for the latest fabric finish that’ll keep me insulated/dry/bulletproof etc. etc. That said, Stone Island are offering pieces that seem to strike the balance between the two, providing a potential purchase that seems practical yet stops short of un-pretty.

A suitable alternative to the now ubiquitous Barbour, the below Belstaff waxed jacket was also a great find. The quilted texturing, chocolate hue and buckle detail at the collar combine to just win my favour over the Royal Family’s firm favourite.

But it was the introduction to the coming season’s eveningwear that had me shaking ever so slightly like a crack addict in desperate need of a speedy fix, only the fuss was over…er…blazers in place of narcotics.
^ D&G navy blazer

^ Paul Smith black velvet blazer
The AW selection was also strong on footwear with brogues prevailing as undisputed shoe of the season and I can’t really complain.
^ An impressive array of brogues. Considering securing a mahogany pair for myself.
^ Really beautiful Grenson suede and leather boots with brogue detailing.

^ More well-crafted bags than you can shake a stick at.

Now, time to call this weather-realted whining to a halt and enjoy what’s left of Summer ’10. Couldn’t do any harm to just talk about attire for the wetter, windier months, though – what’s on your wishlist?