Here’s our last (sniff) post from the stylish, guest-blogger, Art Magnaye. Thank you Art for your insightful posts… The next time you are downtown take a glance downward. In contrast to the fairer of our species, for most men, shoes are an afterthought…something to protect your feet from the hot pavement (or to cover those nasty toes). Even those men who profess to like their shoes (and spend a great deal of money on them), I submit, don’t. Let me explain. First let me qualify what I mean when talking about shoes. What I am not referring to with the generic term of “shoes” are work boots, tennis shoes, runners, the vintage Air Jordans you just had to have on eBay, etc. The shoes I will be talking about are dress shoes (again like pants I will be shortening dress shoes to just shoes – it’s easier). Shoes anchor the wardrobe. A $1000 suit with a designer label will look like a “Fit-Right” special with bad shoes. Conversely a $300 suit can look awesome with the right shoe. Don’t believe me – ask any woman? Shoes are going to be one of the first things she notices (usually). As men, we’re pretty lucky when it comes to shoes. First off, men’s shoes are comfortable – or should be. NEVER, EVER even contemplate buying uncomfortable shoes – life is too short. They will not “break-in” or “soften” to the point of comfort. If they pinch – they will always pinch. If they’re tight – they will always be tight. I have made this mistake – please do not follow my lead. Secondly, for the most part, men’s styles don’t change drastically over the years. If you buy the right shoes (and take reasonable care of them) you can have them for many years. The one downside is that quality men’s footwear is not cheap. No where else in the male wardrobe do you get exactly what you pay for (usually). That $2000 designer suit I’ll wager has a hefty ad campaign as well as the expense of paying the handsome actor with a cleft in his chin to wear it on the red carpet. Furthermore, its construction will not be any better than the $500 department store suit (a hand canvassed bespoke model is a topic for another post). While the well heeled of us (pun intended) can afford to pay 4 figures for shoes, these will not usually be constructed any better than a shoe at half that price. What one will be paying for is a softer leather or skin from some endangered species (ick!) or at the most extravagant – bespoke. However, the right $400 shoe will be constructed light years better than the $200 shoe and will last several times longer. Shoes are the only part of your wardrobe which I believe you must really spend your money – you really do get what you pay for. If it fits, an inexpensive suit can still look great
In last week’s post, we met Art Magnaye, a stylish sales professional who definitely understands the power of a well-thought out look… trust me, he’s the real deal! He joins us again for part 2 of his 3 part series. Enjoy! In my last post I introduced the concept of fit. I’d like to back up a bit and explain why I went straight for suits. I will be talking about a “professional style” and for most men that involves the wearing of a suit. When you choose to don a suit, (like it or not) you are participating in a world-wide custom that arose when the British ruled the mercantile world. Almost every man in the business world puts a suit on at some time. To be successful in this custom requires you to have a wardrobe that is “suitable” (pun intended) to your personal requirements. Some men wear suits every day of their professional lives; others may only need the basics. And some wear suits so often they may need an extensive wardrobe to offer choices depending on the occasion. Am I scaring you yet? I will cover the basics here and after that you are free to have fun entering the wonderful world of suits. Again, notice I said suit. Not blazer or sportcoat and trousers (that is the last time I will use trousers. When I refer to dress pants I will just say pants – it’s easier). I think if you buy the correct suit it will be more versatile than any jacket/pants combo. And you’ll look better to boot! Now, most men dread shopping; and most would rather face a rabid raccoon (or twenty) than go shopping for a suit. This probably comes from the memory of going shopping to the local “Fit-Right” buying a dove grey suit, a size too big, in some unspeakably synthetic, scratchy material, looking into the mirror and thinking – “NEVER AGAIN!” Shopping for a suit does not have to be that bad (ever). Once you see how good you can look in the finished product you may actually start to enjoy the experience. Honestly, keep reading (please!); follow the guidelines (it’s not rocket science) and try to have fun with it. The first thing to think of is color. No matter what the sales person says about the dove grey or light blue, or the funky pink pinstripes do not stray from this advice (especially for your first suit). There are only 2 correct choices for a man’s first suit – navy blue or charcoal grey. Solid please. I suggest solid because it is easiest to match with shirts and ties. Pattern matching is better left to the advanced class. I suggest those colors because they flatter more mens’ colorings than anything other colors (I really can’t think of a complexion they would not flatter). Both colors are business appropriate and with the right accessories both are dark enough to wear to any formal event short of white
I am really excited to present to you a 3-part series by a special guest who definitely has style and isn’t afraid to share it here with you! He’s 100% “L2 Style-approved” – we don’t just let anyone onto this blog you know…. Without further ado, I’d like to present to you, a thoroughly well put-together, stylish individual – Art Magnaye. There comes a time in every man’s life when he realizes there are more to clothes than protection from the elements. For most (and I include myself in this group) this epiphany usually occurs several times in a lifetime. For the most part these periods of enlightenment coincide with landmark occasions in a young man’s life…first date, prom, first job interview, popping the question, promotion, you get my drift. And, much like history, these periods of enlightenment are followed by “the Dark Ages”…the mullet, bell bottoms, acid washed jeans, the ‘80s. It is the combination of the “A-HA” moments and the “What was I thinking?” moments that ultimately determine a man’s unique style. Individuality is commendable, and being able to stand out in a crowd is (again, for the most part) a good thing. But I think we can all agree that, especially in a professional environment, there are good ways to stand out and not so good ways. A professional image is what we all strive for… we want to be taken seriously in whatever we do. You’re thinking this “fashion thing” is all superficial, that I am good at what I do and that should be good enough. And guess what – YOU’RE RIGHT. But why would you want to sabotage yourself when with just a little bit of thought you could enhance your talents and get noticed? Lazina has done a great job of defining style and differentiating it from fashion. And I heartily agree with her. A personal style is one of many tools that a man has to project the best possible image. I think most of us seek a style that projects a professional and confident image. What I’d like to do is offer some tips on the basics of developing a professional style. Notice I said basics. If you’re already rockin’ the bow (tie), or going out with the spectators (shoes) you’re in the advanced class – congratulations and have fun. I have committed to helping you develop a professional style. What I am not going to do is tell you to run out and buy every new trend that blows in from New York, Paris or Milan. You probably already have everything you need to get started… it might just need a little tweaking. Let’s start with the first (and arguably the most important) thing – FIT. Walk around the streets of downtown Calgary during the week and you will see suits. Lots and lots of suits. Unfortunately, most of these suits don’t fit properly. A man in a properly fitting suit looks great – ask any woman! So what is a proper fitting suit?