Monday, June 13, 2011

Let's Put a Pin in It

The air is warm and the summer dresses have been released from their sleepy hibernation, quickly finding their way onto the streets of NYC, much to the delight of the male sex. As the temperature and hemlines go up you may find yourself wanting to go sans tie, but also wanting to maintain your signature flair. For many men, the tie is one of the few pops of color in their wardrobe and by removing this item they lose their distinguishing trait in a sea of suits. One new way that I have found to add a signature twist to your ensemble is by adding a stick pin.

The stick pin (also sometimes referred to as a lapel, hat, or tie pin) is a device originally worn by wealthy English gentlemen to keep their cravats secure. The beginning of the 19th century saw the start of this popularity curve and finally by the late 1800’s this trend crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. It was about this same time that “the fairer sex” began to adopt these ornate straight pins into their attire, on hats or just in casual sportswear. Due to the rising demand, many artisans began to mass produce styles and just like that, the trend became accessible to the social tiers below the elite.

As occasionally is the case with the rakish mindset, a trendsetting individual may decide that items do not have to be displayed or used for their original purpose. A few examples of this could be how Italian men like to keep their leather gloves in the chest pocket of their outerwear, or the stylistic choice to use your untied bow tie as a pocket square, or how Gianni Agnelli famously wore his watch on the outside of his dress shirt. In the case of the stick pin, I have decided to start incorporating this accoutrement into my ensemble by wearing it on my blazer lapel much in the way one might wear a corsage.

Since these accessories have been around for over 200 years it can be easy to find unique vintage pieces, provided you take the time to look. If you are feeling a little lazy, a few designers have shared my enthusiasm for bringing this jewelry back in vogue. New styles can be purchased from the likes of Alexander McQueen, Lanvin, and the unique accessories label Vanities. Final Verdict: Lots of random artisans are still making these pieces so, no matter what your taste, you can probably find something to your liking. Try checking out Etsy for countless affordable options.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Art of Tipping

As some of you may know, I have been a little absent on my home turf due to my being a contributing author on a professional blog. But fear not avid Rakish readers, I have heard your cries and am back to give you some savvy fashion knowledge. I'll be taking us to one of the pieces in my closet that has been getting more wear lately. So sit back, and relax as we enter the rakishly disheveled mindset.

I think my infatuation began back in the winter of 1982, when as a wee babe I... nope, that's a lie, but you'd be lying if you said it wasn't a great start. Truthfully, from time to time I find myself becoming enamored with an item of fashion that is a little more difficult to find, whether it be because the item is "off season" or that it is just not a focus piece in that current season. This spring I have really been into the idea of "tipping"... or some may refer to it as "piping". More specifically, I have been focused on the tipped blazer. Over the years I have acquired a few odd-jackets (meaning that they are not part of a suit) that are wonderful examples of this, and illicit glorious praises every time I wear them. Simply put , tipping is the act of adding a contrasting color band along the edge of a garment. In jackets, this flash is most likely along the outer edge of jacket and lapel. Occasionally, the designer will continue the embellishment by topping off the chest and side pockets as well.

I find that these jackets give you a more tailored look due to the strong lines, but can easily be paired down with denim provided that your trousers are slim. The object is to create a look of relaxed sophistication. In fact, the other day I got a comment because I paired the clean edges of the blazer with the soft, rounded look of a golf collar -- a mixing of shapes if you will. This mixing of shapes is subtly askew yet not fashionably incorrect. In order to be truly rakishly disheveled one needs to follow all of the fashion rules to the letter and then purposely make something "off"... thus adding a signature flair.

Final Verdict: Follow my lead and get out to start the search for a tipped jacket to add to your ever-growing wardrobe. Places like H&M or ASOS are great places to look for this statement piece without breaking your bank. Don't forget to add your own RD vibe. (That's Rakish Dishevelment for those of you who didn't get it by the initials)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Collar Me Badd

Yeah, I have no idea how I'm going to tie in the early 1990's band I horribly punned for my title. Whew, now that we have that out of the way we can jump headfirst into the actual content. Much like the prior post on saddle shoes, we will be talking about an item of clothing that has fully embraced styling from the past. What, pray tell you, are you referring to oh wise teacher? Flattery isn't necessary my young padawan, the key item I'm speaking about is the contrast-collar dress shirt.

With all due respect, if you can't figure out what exactly that I'm talking about, you shouldn't be reading this blog. But, in lieu of alienating a new reader, a contrast collar dress shirt is exactly what it says it is: a dress shirt where the collar is a different color from the rest of the garment. It seems you can get this look at just about every major fashion retailer. So, no matter whether you are shopping on an H&M or a D&G budget, you should be able to add this into the spring rotation.

In general, the white collar on a different-colored shirt tends to look a little bit more formal. However, don't be afraid to partner it up with a little denim. The trick with this shirt is to convey the correct mood, which is usually accomplished by fit and the number of buttons you have done up on it. If you have it buttoned all the way up, you'd better have a nice tie to go with it and probably something other than denim. Think of this look as the "Duke of Awesomeshire" and you'd better be planning to hit up some classy events attended by Blake Lively and the Upper East-siders.

Then you have the entirely opposite look where you go sans tie and undo at least 2 buttons. When doing this, please don't wear a white crew neck t-shirt underneath. The objective here is to find that fine balance of being perfectly put-together and effortless nonchalance... in other words, being rakishly disheveled. Heck, go ahead and pair it with some great saddle shoes as well.

As you can probably guess, the final look is a combination of the top two, in that you still wear a tie except you don't button the top button. Just a little bit of looseness in the tie gives the cavalier attitude with the sophistication of sporting neckwear. This tends to be the look I most often wear and gives you the option to easily convert to the other two. Final Verdict: the goal this season is to take this 1980's Wall Street style and give it that casual edge. Even Brooks Brothers has added these to their "University" Collection.

Saddle Up

The first piece that I have become obsessed with for the warmer weather is none other than the saddle shoe. Simply put, this style of shoe is sure to bring comments from passersby. In fact, the other day as I was picking out my pair at Cole Haan, mere steps away from Rockefeller Center, I received several comments from an Italian family perusing the store's selection. There are two types of people whose compliments are most highly regarded in my mind: those of fashion editors, and those of the well-dressed Europeans. Saddle shoes... mission accomplished.

Unlike the basic spectator shoes of the 1950's (during which era these are commonly associated), the modern shopper has a myriad of color and fabric options to choose from. You could opt for the lighter canvas and leather styles to enhance your wardrobe. Although much like the suede ones, you may find them harder to keep for more than a year or two as the material is hard to clean. No matter what construction you choose, you should look for the colors that fit your personality.

As this shoe is having a bit of a revival, you can find a pair in a price range that makes an acceptable dent in your bank account. If you are looking for something that is going to last you for a while I suggest purchasing ones that fall in the middle of the price spectrum. Unless you have more money than you know what to do with, I wouldn't recommend going any higher than Florshiem by Duckie Brown (which retail around $295). There are many options in the $150 - $300 range that can stand up to the wear-and-tear of a few seasons.

Final Verdict: Get out there and pick up a pair of these shoes for a fun way to add a bit of pizazz to your basic jeans and blazer look. Also, these often look best without socks... another reason not to spend a lot.

Evolution: The 'It' Word

As many of my readers have brought to my attention, I have been a bit absent as of late. No excuses from me, so let's just dive into the topic of the day: evolution.

I believe it was John Varvatos who once said that "men's style is evolutionary, not revolutionary". How many women's things can you think of that are "staples" aside from the LBD (little black dress)? On the other hand, a men's closet can survive on a constant diet of basics, with little tweaks from season to season, without the worry of becoming "dated" in the span of 6 months to a year. GQ magazine lately has even started the process of asking top designers for the top 10 things that they can't live without. Almost all the answers are items that can be categorized as "timeless". Instead of reminding you of the iconic basics that you should already own, I'm going to take a different approach.

Over the next several posts, I will give you some of my recommendations for the spring pieces that you should rotate into your wardrobe full of established classics. Final Verdict: heed my advice and find yourself on the "do" list... whether that be in a magazine or a lady's mind.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Gorgeous

As I was flipping through websites to find the pictures I needed for my Overcast post below, I came across a dress by Carolina Herrera. I knew instantly it was by her, as it is one of her classic frames. The stunning dress reminded me of the one that Dianna Agron, from Glee, wore to the 2010 Emmy's (which was also by Carolina)... only shorter.

So without further ado, I give you the dress that caught my eye:

Final Verdict: Pure elegance... and for only $3500 it can be yours. Also, those sexy nude strap sandals don't hurt either.


Picture this: the color "oatmeal" and "charcoal" came together and had a baby... and that baby got more of the "oatmeal" genes. That "love child" hue is one of the hottest shades this spring. I'd like to call this tint the "winter white" of the grey family. It's great because it gives you a way to lighten up your wardrobe without breaking directly into white.

Sure, this may be difficult to keep clean, but you could try to not spill things on yourself. The two looks above by Rugby show how well this "it" color blends with other spokes on the color wheel. I know that sometimes I have a tendency to focus on the more preppy styles, so let me show you a few couture designers who have used this as inspirations for their spring 2011 collections.

Donna Karan exhibits some casual sophistication with her cuffed cotton shorts.

The Italian fashion house, Etro, uses a striped gradient on their cardigan.

Giambattista Valli, hailing from Paris, takes it dressy with their Sangallo strapless dress.

And finally, Burberry Prorsum takes it to modern comfort-town with their raw-edge tee (paired with their new alpaca-silk blend trench... also in grey I might add).

Final Verdict: Search through your closet or get out there and pick up some light grey for when the weather finally starts to break.