30
Jul 12

STYLE: Gucci Gucci Gumdrops

Like a kid in a candy store. By “kid” we mean imaginary you with a lot of money and “candy store” we mean Gucci made-to-measure. Image from http://www.gucci.com.

I nearly smacked a customer the other day…

While I was showing a woven leather bracelet to a client of mine, she looked at it curiously; she bent it, flexed it, and fit it onto her wrist. She shook her wrist about like she was trying to ward off a machete yielding mosquito and then looked at me. “I want it” she said, “But I need you to cut it, it’s too big for me”.

Now I looked at her, a little perplexed. First of all, this was a $100 bracelet (peanuts for this client of mine), and also….I can’t even cut a straight line on construction paper, let alone five chords of braided leather. Not to mention; this isn’t a ‘customizing company’.

The next day, I came across two women looking at the catalog on my counter. I answered their questions and told them to take one home, and return when we have a new shipment.

“No, it’s okay”, one said, “I’m going to get this one made”.

So now, the $35, cubic zirconium ring will become the $10,000 real-macoy ring.

Holy crap.

So of course, it only made sense that it all comes in three’s. The next day, my man Luigi emailed me, raving about his latest trip into the Gucci store. The man is now hooked on ‘customized Gucci shoes’.

And I thought I loved shoes.

Ah, the places you would go with these beauties. Gucci made-to-measure should help you go far. Image from http://www.gucci.com.

*Cue fashion school knowledge here*

Gucci (for those of us who are hopeless) is an extremely large, extremely rich, extremely powerful fashion giant. Not only is it a fashion house of its own but also its own empire. In 1971, the company started agreements with the American Motors Corporation, providing designer interiors for such cars as the Hornet, and later, the Cadillac Seville and even the Ford Town Car. Their agreement still continues today, with the Fiat 500. Gucci all over, this new car is something else (but, more something to laugh at while in the lane next to it….personal experience).

Since the house’s start in 1920 selling fine leather goods such as luggage and belts in Florence, the company is a role model for changing with the times. Not only do they coin their horse-bit accessory, but also have achieved a spot in the 1998 Guinness World Record book as having the most expensive pair of jeans in existence (a cool $3,134 USD).

But maybe it’s the shoes that are the crème de la crème; the piece by which all can see that they are ‘Gucci’. The men’s shoe is classic, sleek, relaxed yet sophisticated and in every way worth the money. Especially when customized to fit your every arch, heel and little piggy that’ll never dare run home after being in these kicks.

The website is simply genius, showing you each style, variation and shape that you could want; for a customization site it’s extraordinarily simple. However I think if you’re going to get made-to-measure-sex-in-a-shoe, you need to go there. The experience will be the best part.

The box these shoes come with are far from ordinary. They’re made of magic. Gucci made-to-measure image from http://www.gucci.com.

Pictures on the website show elegantly laid swatches, of all different colours and textiles. Master craftsmen at your every whim and something tells me, a cold beverage to cool you down from trying on all those samples (poor you). There are an impressive amount of stores worldwide that offer this service (even one here in Vancouver…so local readers…please take me with you, I’ll behave myself).

Dive into the world of luxury once in your life. Shoes are such a vital story of life; they tell you where someone has been, when they were there, and what kind of state the world was in at the time. And that isn’t just a shoe-crazed woman trying to justify herself, that’s a fact.

Now, if you’d excuse me, there’s a pair of Top Shop stacked heels that have been reduced from $127, to $37.50.

Damn, I’m good.

For more informaton on Gucci’s Made-to-Measure program, you can check out their official website at http://www.gucci.com/us/worldofgucci/articles/made-to-measure#1.


16
Jul 12

STYLE: Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton

Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2012/13. Image from http://louisvuittonlover.blogspot.com/2012/01/louis-vuitton-mens-fall-winter-2012.html.

You know, lately I’ve been wavering about this whole fashion scene.

This ideal of perfection within a simple garment, transforming self and transforming the world; knowing the personalities behind the runway often with some sort of chip on their shoulder and, for the tadpoles of the industry such as myself, tainting it all.

It seems rather worthless after spending almost the past 365 days studying, working, and living fashion. Upon trying to find my path for my impending graduation, I seem rather lost.

I’ve considered airline work, journalism work, more retail, heck even baking (…..my love for cookies…).

But all that stops today. After I leave my coffee junction, I’ll continue to strive to stay in this world of fabrics, colours, and pure style.

Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton. Image from http://louisvuittonlover.blogspot.com/2012/01/louis-vuitton-mens-fall-winter-2012.html.

Now, I’m a stubborn woman (read mule-shaming, un-wavering) so you know that if I’m willing to cave, it’s for something good.

Really good.

Now raising my latte to our dear Luigi, for showing me this stunning collection from Louis Vuitton’s most recent genius, Kim Jones.

SCAAARFFF. http://louisvuittonlover.blogspot.com/2012/01/louis-vuitton-mens-fall-winter-2012.html

Jones is a Londoner (*home-town love vibe here*) and doing a damn good job at representing the versatility of a stubborn Englishman.

He’s crossed all borders that no other Englishmen dare to go voluntarily; he’s drawn inspiration from sworn enemies whom of which most British men will rage in fury at the pure mention: The French.

I think I hear Jeremy Clarkson crying.

Not only has Jones shown me a better side of the French, but also a better side of the mogul fashion house. Vancouver (at the very least) is streaming with women and men who believe that their horridly cliché Louis Vuitton monogramed handbags and cases do, indeed go with everything, including a matching neon coloured tracksuit (kill me).

Clean, simple, elegant and beautiful. Kim Jones knows how to do it for Louis Vuitton. Image from http://louisvuittonlover.blogspot.com/2012/01/louis-vuitton-mens-fall-winter-2012.html.

But now, I actually like L.V. (Although Marc Jacobs and the design team at Juicy Couture are still in my bad books).

Men, whatever you dress like every Autumn, stop it this year. I’m ordering you all to draw inspiration from this (unless you can afford Vuitton…if you can, go for it. And if you can, send me some too-share the love).

Jones showed a decent sized collection based on the glory and pomp of the Parisian 1970’s.

A time where Japanese designers were just creeping onto the scene and a time where fashion illustrator, Antonio Lopez, was one of the most highly respected men in the fashion industry. Weekend trips into the countryside were a frequent affair and a brisk, golden day on the Champs Elysees wasn’t worth a glimpse unless one dressed in one’s best. Jones took silhouettes and styles once frequent in Lopez’s portfolio, and oh so suavely schemed them onto the runway.

The collection was flooded with the most stunning colours; camels, navies, grey, anything but harsh hues. Knits and jackets, like most fall shows, were a prime focus but when done in Jones’ double breasted, long style, it adds a whole lot of ‘wow’ to an outfit.

I can’t write this article without mentioning a blazer. A simple, beautifully tailored idea that will be flooding most stores (most presumably, Zara) come August. The dark grey, two-buttoned blazer with navy-blue lapels (*drool*).

One of Becca Talbott’s favorite looks from Kim Jones’ Fall/Winter 2012/13 collection for Louis Vuitton. Image from http://louisvuittonlover.blogspot.com/2012/01/louis-vuitton-mens-fall-winter-2012.html.

Such a sharp look for such a simple idea, and styled with the previously mentioned Japanese influence of the time, it makes for such an intricate yet simple look. Not to say that it won’t lend itself to your favourite pair of khaki coloured slacks. Class.

Rest assured, Mike will be seeing this picture a lot (subliminal messaging…works every time).

Also appearing several times as Jones’ new ‘thing’, a simple accessory, worn on the left pocket or lapel. A pin of an arrow, chain and gorgeously dyed feather is simple, and somehow plays off of this whole “I- want-to-wear-feathers-everywhere” thing that most women have going right now. But men, keep it to one. Lead by example.

It’s all about the details. Image from http://louisvuittonlover.blogspot.com/2012/01/louis-vuitton-mens-fall-winter-2012.html.

The colours used on the feather are a basic colour palette that’ll be extraordinary useful come Autumn. Stock up on the whites, browns, blues and black, men! There’s a charm about the chocolate brown in contrast with the other colours that hints you think you know what the Hell you’re doing (…think…).

I may be hunted down by Jones himself if I wasn’t to mention the whole reason why the house of Louis Vuitton came to be; the bags.

If you’re designing for Louis Vuitton, you can’t forget about the bags. Image from http://louisvuittonlover.blogspot.com/2012/01/louis-vuitton-mens-fall-winter-2012.html.

Jones has taken away the seemingly ‘trendy’ duffle style that’s been invading runways and replaced it with what the true gentleman knows well; a suitcase come briefcase style bag, in one colour, monogramed only once. Available in a flap-bag, tote style, or almost bowling shape…it’s the most complimentary nod one could give the French. Je l’aime.

Oh God… do I actually like the French now?

For more information on Louis Vuitton and their latest men’s collection, you can check out their official site at http://www.louisvuitton.com/front/#/eng_US/Collections/Men.

For a complete list of photos from the Fall/Winter 2012/13 collection of Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton, you can check out http://louisvuittonlover.blogspot.com/2012/01/louis-vuitton-mens-fall-winter-2012.html.


02
Jul 12

STYLE: OMG… Shoes.

One woman’s dream can be one man’s nightmare. Image from George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock.

I looked really good yesterday, honest.

I made my strut down to an interested modeling agency in the simplest grey tank top and light jeans. But that wasn’t the best part (it rarely is). Most people wear the cherry on their cake for all to see; mine was in my purse.

A pair of six-inch, deep red, suede heels sat in there; their almond-toes crowned with a small yet wide bow.  They’re my “here I am, world!” heels. The shoes that, when rarely on, stay on.

My ‘hot’ shoes.

Granted, I have many pairs of towering twins, all sitting in my hall – pretty as punch. But they each have a personality. The trendy ones, the classic ones, the sexy ones, the ‘office-appropriate’ ones and the ‘it was a good idea at the time’ ones. All loved and cherished in an appropriate order.

Men don’t have this (at least I don’t think you do). I mean, do you look at your shoes with a half-smile and whisper ‘I love you, girls!’ as you walk out?

No? Not that I do either…

But summer is here (for all…except Vancouver apparently; it’s raining outside and my sandals will not be impressed). And as I’ve observed, most gentleman, however style-worthy, resort to the same old standby; flip flops.

Great for the beach, great for running somewhere quickly, but not so great as the only pair of shoes worn with your shorts for three straight months.

Gentlemen, shoe shopping can suck – but only if you let it.

So go have a beer, make sure another is in the fridge waiting for you, and get out there. Summer shoes that can just as easily be worn in the autumn are there for you and the best part? They’ll be cheap, too.

Actually…grab a beer now too. I’ll wait.

Okay!

Pair number one is a stunning pair, sleek and simple. This pair enjoys walks along the beach and a late night strut into town.

Gentlemen, meet the Combined Deck Shoe, from Zara:  http://www.zara.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product/us/en/zara-us-S2012-s/244963/631984/COMBINED%2BDECK%2BSHOE

Zara combined deck shoes. Image from zara.com.

This casual little number lends itself to the complexities of day, night and everything in between. Pair with your tanned Bermuda’s or khakis for a saunter on the coast, and then your uniform-wash jeans or casual slacks for an evening-do.

All this magic can be yours for a sale price of $59.99 USD.

Pair number two has a sophisticated style, but don’t let that fool you. This pair will love a night out on the town as much as a day spent under your desk. Gentlemen, meet pair number two, the Autin dress shoes, from Aldo: http://www.aldoshoes.com/ca-eng/men/shoes/dress-lace-ups/88111628-autin/22

Aldo Autin dress shoes. Image from aldoshoes.com.

These super-cool leather beauties have a multi-textured finish on the upper, giving them a little eye-candy factor.

They still relax in the traditional zonewith a slight block heel and a lace up, but this dark brown colour will run seamlessly through your workday; with dark-grey slacks for a touch of professionalism or with those dark jeans for a dinner date.

All this sexy can be yours for $79.98 USD. On sale now- so don’t wait (*puurrr*).

Pair number three is a happy-go-lucky charm on your effortless whim; a last-call option when heading out the door in need of a comfy, cool companion. Free-spirited and yet still so damn pretty. Gentlemen, I give you the Surfjitsu Dane Shoe from Vans Surf, sold by Pacsun: http://shop.pacsun.com/Mens/sneakers/Vans-Surf-Surfjitsu-Dane-Shoes/index.pro

Vans Surf-jitsu slip-ons. Image from shop.pacsun.com.

These cheerfully blue, corduroy slip-ons are anything but your grandfather’s old pair. Vans have given this pair a nicely padded insole and textured the outside rubber; along with the dark blue accents, this says ‘I’m relaxed, but I’m not a bum’. So classy.

All yours for $56 USD. Sweet.

So whichever one you pick, make sure you get the other two. You’ll be whispering your sweet nothings to them in no time.

But you won’t look as hot me.


18
Jun 12

STYLE: Flashy Bond

General Knot & Co. from OUTFLUENCED on Vimeo.

I’m dreading the new addition to the Bond-film family. Unless he man’s up a bit and does everything to the old-fashioned theme song, I’m afraid this new 007 adventure will be lost on me.

That’s not just a rant from a typical girl who ‘doesn’t get it’. Not at all; I’m a true Bond fan and above my own mindless entertainment, I’m excited to see how society reacts to the film. Modern day films with a high anticipation affect society and our economy more than we would originally glance at and beyond the product placements and the commercials, it’s a top-notch sales opportunity.

This is nothing to turn your nose up at – be a victim.

Accept the fact than when you get up from watching Skyfall you’ll probably check your phone with a little more stealth than usual and the next drink you order might, in fact be a martini (or a Bellini….don’t lie, I know you like them).

But I digress; the point is, after watching a Bond film, every man wants to be a spy and every woman wants to be the naked girl mincing about on the opening credits (I’m available, producers!).

But before you go changing your desktop background and personalizing your license plates, stop.  No, really.  STOP!

Okay, take a second here. What makes James Bond so fantastically kick-ass? The fact that while he kicks ass, he looks fantastic doing it.

What’s manlier and more empowering than maiming a man and walking away without a spot of dirt on your new Armani blazer? Nothing, really, nothing.

One thing I admire about the shagging spy is that he’s never short of a good furnishing or two; whether it’s a bow-tie, a pocket square, or even just a snazzy looking brief case he seems to have something that completes his whole ‘look’.

It’s got to be effortless for him though – somehow I can’t quite see any of the Bonds standing in front of their IKEA closet saying “hmm….now which tie do I wear, Miss Monneypenny?” (In my Mike’s best Connery accent…. dear God).

I like to treat you gentlemen no less than a world-class spy, so I’ve scoured the internet in search of the perfect ‘go-to’ company for those without a Monneypenny (poor boys).

Nestled in the North-East of your united country, there’s a man who lives, breathes and creates all things knot-worthy.

After studying at Parsons and working under masters like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, he started his own empire that has evolved into a full blown operation with the arms of a big-boy company, and the values of a small-town man.

His name is Andrew Payne, and he is General Knot & Co.

http://www.generalknot.com/

It truly is a feat to mix the ever-rare with the extraordinarily well known; but taking the true focal point of any man’s outfit and giving it a new face, a new life even, is a true success. Designed, produced and finished in the U-S of A, General Knot & Co is the kind of online store that you can really get lost in (I did…I don’t even wear ties…).

I’ve combed the whole site, seen what I believe to be every tie, bow tie and pocket square.   Mind you, Payne is so quick with designs that there’s a frequent flow of new product. The beauty of it all lies in this mystical and simply rarity that comes with each piece.

Fabrics are sourced, often dead stock from fabric suppliers and others found by Payne himself on one of his many textile-finding escapades.

Perhaps what is best received and the most fascinating is the vintage fabrics that he somehow gets his hands on - most will range from 40 years or older with some going all the way back to the 1920’s.

How about having that kind of history around your neck?

New to the world of the tie?  There’s even an amazing little page that shows us all how to tie these contraptions (I pinned the link to Mike’s toolbar….baby steps).

But a tie from this company will set you up for life, as Payne explains, “the handmade tie will always outlive the mass produced tie” and it’s a great way to look at this in an economic sense.

Would you rather pay a bit more for one awesome tie or fork up your wages each time your (rather boring) go-to cravat has bit the dust?

For this season, have fun with the mixed prints and that edgy vibe that says, ‘yes, this is a bow-tie. I’m awesome.’ Or mix a checked necktie with a denim pocket-square; show your class and your sense of humor at the same time.

Overall, this is an empire worth being a part of. As they start their fall 2012 season with a new branch across the pond, Payne and his team are nothing if the epitome of excitement, growth and most of all, style.

Huh….with all these awesome designs…007 looks a little boring now, doesn’t he?

For more information about General Knot & Co., you can check out their official site at http://www.generalknot.com/.


04
Jun 12

FEATURE: The Fashionably Eccentric and Lace

Is there something every man can learn from the fashionably eccentric in the world? ESM's Handsomely Heeled says "yes". Image from iStockphoto/Thinkstock.

Everywhere has their eccentrics; every small town or booming metropolis has a select one or two people that everyone knows as “that guy who (insert random and slightly out-of-the-box mannerism here)”.

It’s one of the few things that distinguish style from style and town from town.

Back in my London days, there was the “End is nigh” guy who felt he should express his opinion over a sandwich board. In Kelowna, there was the “Jedi” guy who rode his bicycle around the downtown area, dressed as a Jedi.

Even now, at my work, there’s a couple of eccentrics that strut around.

There’s “1950’s guy” who dresses like he’s been living in the Grease musical for the past 50 years, and then there’s the very masculine looking man who insists on trying to convince us that he’s a woman (we gave him the benefit of the doubt regardless).

As I was at work the other day, watching one of the aforementioned men go by, I thought to myself that maybe this isn’t just a geographical thing.   Maybe there are industries that have those select few that just love to show how truly “unique” they are. Moreover, in a world of such strange happenings, why don’t I see this more often?

And then I happened upon the news of that day, only to see a picture of the fashion world’s version of “that guy”.

Marc Jacobs was on my screen, casually posing at the Met Gala in a calf-length, sheer lace dress with only a bright white pair of boxers underneath (which is shocking…. I always thought of him as a briefs kind of guy).

For the fashion world, this isn’t too much of a shock – especially for our adorable Mr. Jacobs.

But it did get me thinking as to the whereabouts of all this? Where did men learn to distinguish themselves from every other man? Who was the first to distinguish a difference between jeans and ‘something else’?

There’s a class for that – It’s historic story time!

Once upon a time, in the 1950’s, there were people (shocking, I know) and it was in this decade and with these people that this change started occurring.

With the Rock & Roll movement came one of the first true definitions of age; adults didn’t listen to it – teenagers did.

With the growing difference of interests and concerns between parent and child, fashion slowly evolved with it. It was in this decade that children truly started disobeying their parents and decided not to tuck their shirts in (dun-dun-duunn).

But for the teenagers of England, change became boring (as change tends to do) and men were trying to desperately search for some sort of code; a certain way of showing the world that they were different to every other mod-loving, toe tapping joe out there.

Enter the Teddy Boys!

Now I’m not sure how someone got this idea but I’m almost certain that it had something to do with a crave for female attention; but if it was, it worked.

The Teddy Boys were a group of men who wore Edwardian styled clothing- tapered trousers, long jackets, even waist coasts.

Teddy Boys image from http://91peachykeen.blogspot.com/2011/11/50s-friday-oh-teddy-boy.html.

At the time, clothes like that were only made to order at high-end tailors on the famous Savile Row (a street in London, home to all tailor shops of all kinds). So donning this sort of dress would display a certain wealth (the kind that a girl should eat right up….personally I’m just as impressed with a better date plan than Wendy’s).

Though they were famous for their rather ‘touchy’ attitude, Teddy Boys made history (despite how alarmed I am to see that their brothel creeper shoes resurfacing). What started as simply an excuse to piss off the parents turned into a full blown phenomenon.

Creepers image from http://creepersshoes.blogspot.com/.

Well done, gentlemen.

So where have all the Teddy Boys gone??

All the groups that try to be “different” today are simply adapting modern day, main stream clothing into something a little less main stream. Where are the boys wearing long, dark jackets with dark, velvet lapels? (Okay, bad example.)

Where did all the “original” go?

Does it lie with our dear, Mr. Jacobs? After all, he took a garment not normally worn and made it his own. Or does it lie with the eccentric gentleman by my work, who has been doing the same thing for what most would consider far too long?

Maybe it’s these “eccentrics” that are the answer to originality.

Perhaps they have a slightly clouded answer to our style drought? As a global society, that has been no “new” style for the past four decades.

Why have we given up and simply raided our parents’ old closet? (and destroyed it for that matter).

Maybe we should all go out, and find one thing – just one small garment that we’ve never worn before in our lives.

Be it a rolled up pair of chino’s, a sleeveless leather biker vest,  even a blessed bow tie and give it a go. As a challenge to anyone who feels that we are, indeed, in a rut.

Come on, gentlemen! I dare you.


03
May 12

FEATURE: The Talk

Please don't say we need to talk, please don't say we need to talk.... Image from iStockphoto/Thinkstock.

We need to talk.

Really, we do. This is serious; sit down (you probably are, actually… okay well stay down… good boy).

I’ve been noticing something creeping its way back into our once peaceful lives; a menace that is insisting itself upon every man – young and old.

It’s a horror that is changing grown men back into helpless teenagers and ridding them of any chance of ever reproducing.

I’m talking about the graphic t-shirt.

From the “Bazzinga” print to the dreaded “Female Body Inspector” (yes, it still exists; it prompted this article), the menace of the boyish charm ideal has been stretched into the land of the lost boys.

Even though I can understand the appeal of staying young and friendly to your hobbies and interests, there is a line to be drawn here, gentlemen.

For instance, just because I have an unhealthy obsession for Marmite doesn’t mean that I’m going to rush out and print a “Love me or hate me” t-shirt.

Ergo, if you always wanted to be a fireman but you’re too… um… “mature” for it, don’t wear a FDNY t-shirt (you’re not fooling anyone, I promise you that).

This is not so say that t-shirts with prints on them are the cause for all potential damnation. I actually love a great print on a t-shirt; otherwise we’d all look like something out of a George Orwell novel.

Maybe there is a magical place that we can all go where we look good, and don’t look like we nicked a shirt from a high school lost and found.

Maybe it’s called… the place of the happy balance! (of which I have yet to find with these chocolate covered cranberries next to me… baby steps).

Such a place exists in the genius of Bang On – a custom print t-shirt company that started here, in my fickle town of Vancouver back in 1999, just down the road from where I’m sitting now.

http://bang-on.com/

Their concept is quoted as:

A retro style custom t-shirt shop with plenty of cool transfers and t-shirts. They achieved this with flying colours and now offer their service to the rest of the world- rejoice!

You can check out Bang On’s official website at www.bang-on.com.

The system is simple:  You get to flip through hundreds upon hundreds of designs (or simply provide your own) and they’ll screen print it onto a t-shirt of your choice (although to confess, I’ve been buying their shirts plain and using them as my ‘plain white T’ for the past few years).

Friendly staff and a great product all add together to make a growing empire that is popularizing the world of customized marketing.

Ethnic pattern from bang-on.com.

Be warned when you head to their website!  There are such prints that play on Lucky Charms logos and even Captain Kirk with the “Beam me up, Scotty” slogan – but please, try to remember that you’re past puberty and scroll through to the “Ethnic Patterns” section.

Check out the colours used in these prints.  They’ll open up your wardrobe without looking like you really tried all that hard.

Or say, you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and have a hard time keeping it in? Let it out with heading to the Travel page and explore the vintage pictures of buildings as opposed to the “I heart Japan” prints.

But maybe you’re like me.  And you’re fussy.  And whatever anyone has dreamt up before you is just too damn unimaginative? How do you narrow down the socially appropriate?

Keep it simple!

I’m considering treating myself to a new t-shirt.  Exams are almost done and I’m the type that needs an incentive (just a few dollars shy of my Berlinetta, you see).

One of the things I love to wear the most is a good, old fashioned, rock and roll t-shirt.

But all the ones out there are horridly over-produced and at the end of the day, I’ll look like one of those girls who wears a Freddie Meme t-shirt but couldn’t sing Bohemian Rhapsody for her life.

*insert table flip here*

I love Queen. And, as I’ve previously discussed in other articles, I’m in the process of starting the International Church of Brian May.

However, while that is still getting its legs I want to wear the best Queen shirt out there! (Too bad that they are all mediocre.)

That’s when the magical land of Bang On told me how if I took my own picture into a store, they will gladly print it on for me! *angles singing* here I come, Brian!

But to those of you who don’t live near a Bang-On store, you’ve got Zazzle.

Zazzle is a website dedicated to serving your every customized need from mugs to calendars and even the precious T shirt and can be found at www.zazzle.com.

http://www.zazzle.com/

Shipping worldwide and providing excellent help in every step, Zazzle is perfect for the ‘noob’ of the customized T shirt world.

Simply upload your picture and watch it transform into a garment of which you can view in multiple ways (even on a ‘model!). Perhaps my favourite feature is how it will actually tell you if the resolution is out of whack; no one likes a blurry Brian.

Whatever your feel, you’ll get your fix of personal expression without metaphorically welding yourself a chastity belt; trust me, nothing says “please don’t use the phone number I just gave you” like a scantily clad anime character holding a Pokémon ball (yes…it happened).

Don’t make me have to deal with that again, please.


19
Apr 12

GEAR: The Awesome and The Ugly

This dude could totally use a Becca Talbott techonology/style upgrade STAT! Image from Comstock/Thinkstock.

Technology is awesome.

Yes, this I know. This is something that we all know.  It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s shiny, oh so expensive and yes, we all love it.

But it’s ugly.

Home technology is garish, and blatantly obnoxious. It enters your home and it wants to be the centre of attention – it doesn’t care how much you spent at Ikea trying to conceal it, technology will always win.

And Lord help you if you actually want to show it off, because then it looks like you’re the type of person who loves to spend ridiculous amounts of money on something that requires a specialist to fix it.

Last week, my beloved laptop (aptly nicknamed, “Toshibasaurus”) died.

It had been my first laptop; a graduation present from Mum and  something that had become a giant and barely portable piece of my heart. I used and abused it to the point where even the charge port called it a day.

Bravo.

So after a lot of profanity and acceptance of my new financial burden, I swallowed my pride and went looking for a new ‘baby’.  As I browsed through rows on rows of endless screens I noticed something – they were all ugly.

Even the ones that had been doubled in price because the manufacturer attempted to make them look pretty were still ugly.  Even the one I ended up with (a much more ‘article friendly’ netbook) is a bit too plain-Jane for me.

And since buying this new venture, I’ve been exploring ways to make it a bit more… fashionable.

If you’re like me and you need to add some ‘human’ to your robot, check out www.skinit.com

Use http://www.skinit.com/ to sexify your tech.

Skinit.com is a haven of personalization for anything that looks even remotely ‘ordinary’. It all starts with the simple process of selecting your device from their large (read: massive) list of gadgets.

Grab a skin for your phone, your netbook, your calculator or even your humidifier (yup).

After this, it‘s merely a matter of browsing through their hundreds, probably thousands of pages worth of designs, selecting one, and getting shipped to you.

Boom – instant sexification.

But if you‘re truly like me, that‘s probably not good enough. This is where the real fun comes in – go click on ‘create your own’ bar at the top of the site and all of a sudden, your fantastically expensive gadget is at the mercy of your imagination.

I’ve been working on a few designs of my own and when I’ve finally decided on one, I’ll be sure to post the fantastic pictures of it *insert girly/nerdy squeal of excitement here*.

If everyone had the means and knowledge to personalize and fashion-ify their do-dads, wouldn’t that make our homes just that bit more homey and less like the control centre of command? (Hint to you men – you’re guilty of this and you know it).

The blessed beau, Mike, gets to be my example for yet another entry.

He has a studio apartment, it’s small and it does the job. He also loves his computers and has proudly mounted four monitors on his spanking new mounting system (which you can see from the street, six floors down).

Now I’m not saying that it’s a terrible thing;  I’ve warned him that if he wants a girl to reside with him at any point in time this set up is probably not ideal.

There’s a whole yin and yang of showing ones’ personality through their home, in a fashionable sense; just like with one’s wardrobe *Ding! Lightbulb*.

For instance, if you love a certain game (let’s say Portal), you wouldn’t walk around in an orange and white cropped jumpsuit (you wouldn’t, gentlemen). So why display whatever it is from the game around your house, with no apparent use whatsoever?

Instead of recreating the game scene in your living room, why not head over to www.thisiswhyimbroke.com

http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/

The self-proclaimed ‘internet mall’ is a treasure trove of all things cool, awesome and just plain strange. From $2 Portable Liquor shots to $47,000 Pumpkin Carriage beds (yes!) this site shows you all things you could ever want/need/be in awe of its existence.

So for all you men who still have that slight boyish charm that just bursts when you think of computers, games - even Star Wars - head to this site. It’ll let you show off your interests and obsessions in more ‘outside world-friendly’ ways like the following:

Love the old days of games? Grab a Nintendo Controller Coffee table or even a Space Invaders couch.

Nintendo controller table image from http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/. Now imagine the game console it came with.

Want to make your everyday computer a little less…black? Pick up a wireless bamboo keyboard and mouse or even splurge a little to get your hands on a custom built LCD monitor with an extremely classy (and gentleman-ly) vintage look.

Is it me or do these moniters look like they are glowing? Image from http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/.

Now I could continue talking about the rare and fantastically random things offered on this site (I`ve got my eye on the `Ctrl-Alt-Delete’ cup set), but I think I’ll let you all check the rest out for yourselves.

Wireless bamboo keyboard and mouse image from http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/.

So go and make your obnoxious technology a little less garish and a little more…well…friendly. Because the friendlier it is, the friendlier you’ll be, and the more willing you’ll be to help solve world hunger.

Ah, I love when I’m right.

Note: Frank and Oak (see last article) has just sent Mike an email accepting his request- he will be browsing their collection soon-


05
Apr 12

STYLE: Solving World Hunger

To think, our very own Becca Talbott can be the face of one of these stamps one day. Image from iStockphoto/Thinkstock.

I think I’ve solved world hunger.

Sure…my high school graduation class voted the guy with the 120% average to do this – but I’ve beaten him (take that, Allen! Now…go cure Cancer).

Now, I’m sure the board at the Nobel Prize HQ will think my reasoning a little ‘unorthodox’ but that same thing was probably said about Richard Branson at some point – so I’m looking into a down payment on an island.

As I was standing in the queue at my regular article-stewing coffee house, I noticed the worker at the till asking for donations for a cause (hunger… or something of the sort).

Order by order, I listened in for people’s answers; some yes, some no.

But I noticed a pattern; those who said yes to the donation had something different about them (and for lack of a better phrase – they were more ‘put together’).

The people who weren’t as such all seemed a little gloomier than others.

Now I can hear all you pessimists saying, “well they probably have more money, thus they have more means to look ‘put together’ and then obviously they are willing to give up a dollar or two”.

But NO! I beg to differ.

Being a rather ‘to the penny’ (read: cheap) person myself I tend to associate with people of the same level of income as I and may I say we all look ‘put together’.  We find it easy to find good pieces at even better prices and we adore walking around with a swing in our step knowing that we look like we’re worth about double what we are in reality.

So what happened to the other, sad half of the queue in front of me?

I resorted to the men I knew in the town of which I first lived in Canada; Kelowna, B.C.; a great little town (little…town) and full of nice people, nestled in a valley.  Kelowna is a very wealthy place – most people who live there earn too much to mention without blushing – yet (and forgive me) they all look like crap.

I asked these men what their favourite article of clothing is, what their weaknesses are if they see a sale (we all have them) and the reply I got was simple: “T-shirts….they’re easy”.

Assuming these people in front of me in this line up weren’t all from Kelowna – I’ve got a conclusion for you gentlemen that I’m sure you could have told me at the start of this prelude:  shopping needs to be easier.

If shopping is easier, then people will take time to look more ‘put together’, making them feel a little cheerier and thus willing to donate a dollar to a ‘stop hunger’ foundation… ergo… solving world hunger.

BOOM *insert mind being blown here*

So let’s get started, gentlemen!

In order to start my quest to the bat cave of the Nobel Prize Gods, I’ve done some research and found two fantastic businesses that have a simple aim in life; to make your lives easier.

The Trunk Club. Image from http://www.trunkclub.com.

The Trunk Club is the baby of Brian Spaly (CEO) and was started in December 2009. Since then they have been pushing the barriers of pure convenience and providing members with outfits specifically styled to them. The process is easy and painless – and if it wasn’t for the fact that they only ship within the U.S, I would have signed Michael up for it (with his consent, of course…).

You sign up for free and within a couple of days, a cheery little message is waiting in your inbox. This message welcomes you to the Trunk Club and requests that you get in touch with a stylist via (whoever contacted you).

So, you, being the charming gentleman you are, oblige and before you know it, you’re talking to a stylist who is asking you a few things about what you like and what your typical budget would be.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, open your door, and *BAM* a small ‘trunk’ is sitting there for you to open up and see that inside is everything you could want – pants, shirts, blazers, accessories etc.  All exactly to your impeccable taste and ready for you to pick up in the morning, throw on, run out the doorand solve world hunger.  Easy!

I had the pleasure of talking with Keyur, a staff member at the company. He informed me of the whole process and also explained that if a customer does not like something that is sent to him – he can send it back in the pre-paid postage that came with the clothes; no cost to him at all.

To check out the Trunk Club and to get in touch with these charming people, please head to: www.trunkclub.com.

Frank and Oak for those folks that live outside the United States. Image from http://www.frankandoak.com/.

But what about those of us who don’t have the pleasure of residing in the United States? Do we all have to suffer and look hopeless? Nope!

*Insert superhero fanfare here*

Frank & Oak is a business offering the same service as The Trunk Club but is based out of Quebec, Canada (woohoo!).

They are slightly more ‘budget related’ in the sense that they are so conscious about respecting your pocket that they are the designers, manufacturers and the retailers of the clothing (otherwise known as vertically integrated – school is paying off, Mum!).

The website quotes that they have “studied different guys… their builds, how they move, how their clothes fit. Then [they] created clothes that work: slim-fitting, yet extremely comfortable”.

Now that’s a heck of a brag – and they’re backing it up to every member.

With Frank & Oak, membership is limited. I requested a membership for Michael about four days ago now and was replied explaining that because of the vertical integration concept, pieces are in limited supply thus limiting memberships and that I will be contacted as soon as there is a place available.

One thing to note is that this company (Trunk Club has a similar option) offer monthly delivery once a month you get a fresh batch to check out. It’s automatically charged to your magical piece of plastic that somehow seems to accumulate more than you remember with each bill (but there’s no real harm in it, right?).

For more information about Frank & Oak, please visit: www.frankandoak.com

Look at that! In less than a thousand words I’ve solved one of history’s greatest conundrums.

Please, no fan mail.

- Note that Michael is very interested, and if he gets a membership soon he’s allowed me to keep you all posted with the process and the result. So you better stay tuned! -


24
Mar 12

STYLE: Deloreans and Pin Stripes

Help! The 1940's are coming back to get me!!! Image from iStockphoto/Thinkstock.

Lately I have been pondering about society’s current fascination (actually more like a guilty pleasure) of diving back into the pool of the past and seeing how deep they can go without forgetting to come back up for air.

Even I am convinced, on some level, that I should instead have been a screaming, fainting fan in a Beatles crowd and insist on spending my daily bus ride tapping my toes to a Ringo beat.

Living in the past is something that everyday society thrives on, even if it is a past that we haven’t necessarily been a part of and the fashion world is no exception to this historical dumpster-diving addiction.

I think Kurt Anderson was on to something when he stated in Vanity Fair that the world hasn’t got much of its own style anymore.

Case in point, when I asked my coworkers and my sister what odd fashions they remember from their childhood days, they all replied with the same unique (and equally hilarious) answer: “I don’t”.

Although there are some current designers who are constantly trying to come up with the next ‘big trend’, I am still searching for that current trend that will stick out 10 years from now.

As far as I am concerned, no one has seemed to be too successful yet, have they?

It seems we no longer live in our own time; merely an amalgamated illusion of past loves and hates all rolled up into one world that has been designed to suit everyone.

Even as I look around from my coffee shop window I see a stuffed vest from the 80’s, a light wash jean from the 90’s and I’m listening to music from the 50’s (and Lord only knows how old the empty coffee cup next to me is…).

*Cue an epic, wheel-spinning, ear-melting Delorean entrance.  An exceptionally stylish and well dressed version of Dr. Emmet Brown comes out of the car and asks us to go with him to the 1940′s.*

Fall 2012 Menswear Goes Back in Time

Set your Delorean to 1.21 gigawatts and grab your ration coupons! We’re going back in time to the 1940’s.

Fall 2012 menswear seems to have been taken over by a brigade of R.A.F. fighters and American gangsters (not that it’s a bad thing….)

Billy Reid

Billy Reid taking this bomber to new heights. Image and original article can be found at http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/F2012MEN-BREID.

I like Billy Reid’s take on the pilot’s bomber vest - still ‘fur’ lined and leather made, but on the runway it was paired with a rather office worthy ensemble of trousers and a printed sweater over a long sleeved, slightly striped shirt and tie.

An otherwise subdued and ‘kind of boring’ (as my beau would say) outfit, brought to life and given a personality with a vest.

Adam Kimmel

The same, however cannot be said for Adam Kimmel’s attempt.

Goose! Goose! I can't.. reach.. the eject..... Image from http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/F2012MEN-AKIMMEL.

Unfortunately a modern F-16 style helmet doesn’t quite send the same ‘classy and unique’ message. Perhaps what worries me most is when the hose is worn IN a pocket on the sweater.

Where exactly is it going, Mr. Kimmel?

Michael Bastian

Combat boots have been stripped from the trenches and are back with a roar (and not just the dumbed-down, feminized and bedazzled version for those of my side of the gender classification).

Michael Bastian helping men go to war. In fashion. On the streets. With gloves from Hogwart's. Image from http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/F2012MEN-GANT.

The nitty gritty is back for you gentleman to slip on with a pair of cargos or dark jeans and enjoy your day off.

The great thing about the way that Michael Bastian showed them (as a part of his Gant collection) is how he took about four otherwise simple and yawn-worthy pieces, chucked them all on the same guy and said “HERE!…done”.

Not bad at all, Mr. B (he’s slowly setting up a small camp site in my heart).

Grab some boots, a blazer, your jeans, and your otherwise un-used turtle necks and jean shirts and give it a try.

Grab your tommy guns. There may be some coppers on our way out. Image from http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/F2012MEN-MBASTIAN.

Another 40’s touch that Bastian seemed to be flirting with was pin stripes.  Mostly sported by gangsters back in the day, they emerge on a slim (sliiiim) fitting pair of cuffed slacks and a merlot brown leather jacket in Mr. B’s signature collection (don’t forget the polka dot bow tie…oh bow ties).

Pin stripes (as most of us know) ran all over suits of those who tended to fly on the other side of the train tracks and in the 40’s, men made their presence known with broad, beaming shoulders and a loose fitting pant (macho, macho man).

Sarah Burton

Trying to find a funny caption for this one... we've got nothing. Image from http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/F2012MEN-AMCQUEEN.

Yes, the style in the above picture is a little ‘out dated’ but Sarah Burton (at the house of McQueen) doesn’t seem to think so. She’s re-introduced this style rather well (maybe the afro was a little unnecessary though).

Blast from the Past

After having gone through all these era revivals, perhaps we should finally learn to walk on our own two feet and not insist on being propped up by the gems of the past (like my grandmother’s blackout curtains…still up…still closed…every night..).

We’re running out of semi-fashionable decades as it is and Lord, if any man reading this even considers an acid wash waterproof fanny pack I will find you.

However, I find this latest revival of the 1940’s as a fond reminder of our fighting days.  Our proud and true days.  The days where each individual held a country together at a time of war as opposed to all banding against the government.

So maybe we should indulge in this guilty pleasure once more.  Just one more dip into the Delorean just for ‘old time’s sake’.

For more information on the lines mentioned, visit the following links on style.com:


12
Mar 12

STYLE: Top Gear and the Spring 2012 Collections for Men

*Insert British accent here*

Hello, Gentlemen.

It’s that time of year again, where the snow is turning to rain and the flowers are starting to bloom.  We’re ending the latest Top Gear season and along with the new car smell there is a new whiff of style in the air for all you savvy men (*sniff* such a magical time).

There are some of you who enjoy staying with what you consider to be your true style (your ‘niche’ of the clothing universe) and then there are some of you who are as indecisive as I am at the front of the Starbucks line.

Never fear, there’s something for everyone; Spring 2012 will be lined with all sorts of style options and I will be outlining my favorites below.

If I had any sense, I would have called up my boyfriend before writing this to ask him his style opinions (that is, until I suddenly flashed back to his camouflage ball-cap phase…) but when I opened up the word document, I concluded I was flying solo on this one.

Just so you know – I’m a traditionalist for menswear; growing up in London, my father always wore suits, as did every other man that I ever saw.  Even the boys I knew lived in their school uniforms, and in off-time men were still with their clean lines and semi-fitted splendor.

So guess what I’ll be lovin’ on for this article?

Phillip Lim

All bias aside, there’s something to be said for that magical world in-between conventional and crazy that Phillip Lim seems to be wandering around in.

His spring collection was mostly of a slightly oversized and ‘slung’ look; it reminded me of a scene where a teenager had just spent the day on his Minecraft server and realized he was out of Dr. Pepper, so he grabbed his elder brother’s clothes and ran out the house. In the best way possible, of course; I call it a sort of boyish charm.

3.1 Phillip Lim Spring 2012 image from http://www.31philliplim.com/collections/mens-ss12-ready-to-wear.

The one thing, I’m afraid, I’m wagging my finger to Mr. Lim for is the shorts he has created (actually, not just him - in more than a fair number of the spring 2012 collections, there are some rather daring shorts making an appearance).

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against anyone, of any gender, being proud of their bodies.  I’m sorry, gentlemen, but bottom line - you need the legs for it (and the wax job…and the heels…and the pedi…..oops, sorry).

Umit Benan

A young designer, he created his collection with inspiration from that well-loved decade, the 1980’s.

One can definitely see the influence here, (and more influence…oh the shorts) but there is a cheer to be had for the patterns.

Umit Benan Spring 2012. Image from http://www.umitbenan.com/.

A bold check, a polka dot, all sorts- this is when a lot of you charming bloke’s might shy away but please don’t.

A print says ‘fun’. And who doesn’t want to have fun?

Michael Bastian

Perhaps the unsung hero of the spring 2012 collections would have to be Michael Bastian.

He spent the last year away from the lights of the runway and instead in the trenches of the industry, clawing his way back into production; but he’s come out just beaming on the other side.

This collection was the epitome of ‘cool’ as the inspiration was the definition of the word itself; James Dean.

Michael Bastian. James Dean cool. Image from http://www.michaelbastiannyc.com/.

Admitting to keeping this collection in his ‘back pocket’ over the years, it’s a marvelous blend of the unique and the classical pieces that make this collection probably one of the most versatile on the runway this season.

No one can resist the rebel, even that glorious red windbreaker and the penny loafers (pennies included) to match. The denim, the jackets, the knits, and even the perfectly tailored pants were thrown together with such precision that it seemed almost flawless, and effortless.

So much of menswear on the runway is over-styled these days, and it was nothing short of a refreshing gulp to see ‘classic cool’ drift on down.

These pieces are so versatile, even my man would go for them (in exchange for a burning of the ball-cap, of course).

So although we are all sad this season of Top Gear is over and you most probably don’t own a Ferrari 458 or Lamborghini Murcielago, you can at least roll around in your mom’s car with my picks for the latest colors and styles for Spring 2012.

For more information about 3.1 Phillip Lim, you can check out http://www.31philliplim.com/collections.  For more information about Umit Benan, you can check out http://www.umitbenan.com/.  Finally, for Michael Bastian, you can check out http://www.michaelbastiannyc.com/.