Category Archives: Chop Style

Chop Style: Turtleneck Sweaters

If you’ve got a turtleneck in your closet, Autumn is certainly the perfect time of year to break it out. Cool enough for a chill to be in the air, but not quite cold enough for coats and mittens, a turtleneck is practical if nothing else.

There may be no single item of clothing in menswear that is more illustrative of the fashion cycle. Unseen anywhere for years or even a decade at a time, every once in a while some would-be brilliant designer decides to run one down the catwalk in the fall, and it’s been worn so many wrong ways by the first snow that it goes back into hibernation for several more years. It doesn’t have to be this way though. You can look good in a turtleneck no matter how far out of fashion they fall. All you’ve got to do is follow the rules.

Robert Redford

Paul Newman

Miles Davis

Rule #1: Don’t accessorize. A turtleneck is something of a statement piece. Let it speak for itself. Once you start adding in jackets, scarves, hats or anything else the whole thing begins to look clumsy very quickly.

Rule #2: Stay in shape. Just because you’re spending more time indoors and looking forward to holiday parties doesn’t mean a turtleneck is the right answer for covering up any extra winter weight. Whether your sweater is a giant fluffy chunky thing or a slim-fitting cashmere item; if you’re pear shaped, it will be pear shaped too.

Rule #3: Your sweater should be darker than your pants. While the opposite is usually true, somehow a “negative image” works best for turtlenecks. Buy a darker shade and pair it with off-white jeans, faded khakis or something similar.

Rule #4: Wear a good pair of boots. A turtleneck sweater is a pretty substantial thing, so you’re going to need some substatial footwear to match it. You should have a decent pair of boots in the closet, but if you don’t make sure you’re at least wearing leather shoes. You just can’t pull this off in a pair of Vans.

Rule #5: No mock necks! If you’re going to do it, do it right. Get a full fold-down neck. There’s probably not anyone on earth that can pull off a mock turtleneck.

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: Avoiding the Freshman Sydrome

First things first… The first thing is that we’re happy to announce that this blog was recognized yesterday by the City Paper in their annual Best of Baltimore issue as being Baltimore’s Best Local Blog. The BoB award carries a lot of weight in this town, and most of your finer local establishments display one on their walls from some year or another, so we’re excited to have one of our own to put in the office. We’re looking forward to spending long hours staring at it while we’re lazy and distracted and saying to ourselves “What the fuck are we going to write about today?” which is how blogs are made.

We also want to thank the CP staff for paying enough attention to remember that we are a blog. If we were handing out advice to a beginning blogger, it would not be “don’t write anything at all for 3 months” which is exactly what we’ve done up until yesterday. It means that much more to us for having been offline these 90 days.

A visual approximation of the Chop being the best.

So like we said, we get a little award suitable for framing. But the real prize when you win one of these is that you score an invite to the annual Best of Baltimore party, and get to hobnob and schmooze and glad-hand with the other winners, and of course, be privy to an open bar.

So we went there yesterday, and we did that. We even managed to get a date for the event. And without saying too much about it, we didn’t look at it as one of these “Oh I just need somebody to go with so let’s just go and hang out or whatever” dates. It was more like one of these “She seems pretty awesome and I really want this to go well and I’m kind of nervous about it and I still sort of can’t believe she said yes.” kind of dates. The best kind.

Which brings us to the main idea of this post. For a big date, or any type of big event whether it’s a job interview, a holiday, a wedding or what have you, the temptation is always there to go shopping beforehand and find something new to wear. It’s a temptation we usually resist, and we recommend the rest of you do the same.

Think about the beginning of high school. The first day of ninth grade is a big fucking deal for most kids. You’re out of middle school, and thrown in with a lot of older kids. You may be meeting kids from other middle schools, taking new classes, dating for real for the first time, and you’re trying you’re level best just to fit in, let alone cut a great figure down the hallways.

Maybe it’s different for girls, but for most of us boys your mom dragged you to the mall to hit the back to school sales and made you try on jeans and shirts for hours on end, wouldn’t let you get any of the things that you really wanted, or anything that wasn’t on sale, or anything that couldn’t double as church clothes- in short, anything good. So the first day of school rolls around and now that the clothes are bought you actually have to wear them, and in addition to all the hassles and stresses and pressures of starting high school, you’re constantly thinking “Do these jeans look like Dad jeans? Do these look like floppy clown shoes? Does this shirt make me look like a doofus?” And you wish you’d never gone shopping at all.

We’ve got it better as adults. Most of us have a much improved sense of style and a better sense of self than we did at 14, and we’re free to buy and wear what we will without any help from Mom. All the same, the Freshman Syndrome still persists.

Sure, those pants look great, but do they look great on you? That sweater is nice enough to be an investment piece, but will it itch your neck until you wash it a few times? New shoes are great to have, but they’re even better after you’ve broken them in and they’re not stiff and unforgiving. At the end of the day, looking good is mostly about confidence, and it’s hard to be very confident in something you’ve seen only once in a store mirror. The clothes that really inspire confidence are the ones that we know fit the best; that we’ve seen in our own mirrors, that we’ve been photographed in, that have generated plenty of compliments in the past. Better than new clothes are your favorite clothes.

Having a closet full of clothes that we can count on is one of the best things about being a bona fide adult. In our case, we’re always prepared for anything from a wedding to a funeral to a formal event, or even a date… no trip to the mall required.

3 Comments

Filed under Baltimore Events, Chop Style, Other

Chop Style: Pocket Knives

It’s time to talk about knives. It’s time to talk about knives because we’re in the market for a new one before we go back overseas. We never really thought we’d be the type to carry a knife around everywhere we go, but over the years we’ve come around to the opinion of Gentlemanly Means, and we’re almost never found without one.

The makers and retailers of pocket knives would have you believe that their products can be elevated to the level of talismanic objects; heirlooms passed from generation to generation, the old romantic notion of this was Grandpappy’s GI knife and he used it to cut his way out of a POW camp in Korea and all that. That’s entirely possible with a quality knife… if you don’t lose it first.

Our favorite knife to date... the CRKT Carson M16. Approximate actual size.

We lose knives all the time. As the GMP post points out, it can be tough to find the right intersection of price and quality, because you have to buy thinking you’re going to lose it sooner or later. We can hardly keep a knife longer than a pair of sunglasses, and usually end up having to buy a new one every 12-18 months. By now we’ve formed a pretty strong opinion, and knife shopping doesn’t take nearly as long as it once did.

For us, less is more. We’re not a fan of the Leatherman multitools or the top of the line Swiss Army models. That’s just too much steel. We want one blade- and we want that blade to feel large in the hand and small in the pocket, and be designed in such a way that it matches a suit as well as everyday jeans.

the first knife we really liked was ta Buck Nobleman, which served us quite well until it ended up at the bottom of the bay. It drew a lot of compliments, and our only real complaint about it was the lack of a belt clip, a feature we really like. (Tip, most belt clips are easily removable.)

We replaced that with a Gerber EVO Jr, which was a crappy piece of junk that fell apart in hand in less than a year. Last Gerber knife we’ll ever buy.

Our most recent knife, and quite possibly our next knife, was a Columbia River Tanto. We bought it for less than half of the $50 price tag on the website, and it was worth twice as much to us. It did absolutely everything asked of it, sharpened up nicely, and looked as good as it felt clipped to the pocket when not in use. In fact, throughout our travels we’ve probably met half a dozen others carrying knives from the CRKT EDC series, and every one swears it’s the best knife he’s ever owned.

2 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

Well, it’s pretty hot outside. In the dead of Summer, most people want to get away with wearing as little as possible. Jorts sightings have been at at all time high in Baltimore recently, and tank tops and flip flops are out in force as well.

We would hope that it doesn’t still need to be said in 2011, but apparently it does. The old rule still stands: No shirt, No shoes, No service.

Even the diviest of dive bars require shoes and shirts.

These things may be optional in your backyard or rooftop deck, but out in the streets, shoes and shirts are still mandatory, no matter what the temperature. Sure, okay, if you absolutely must you can wear sandals the right way but you’ve got to have something on your feet.

This is Baltimore City… it’s filthy. Aside from the typical urban grit and grime, our streets and sidewalks are often full of broken glass, chicken bones, strip club postcards and all other manner of hazards. The Chop happened to sight a girl walking barefoot down Cathedral Street a few days ago, and we were nothing less than revolted. Walking or (God forbid) running barefoot in an urban street is not only dangerous, it’s disgusting. Not even Rex Ryan would tickle those toes.

As far as shirts go, you’re gonna have to keep that on too. Nothing says absolute white trash redneck like going shirtless publicly. Have you ever seen COPS? The shirts to skins ratio on there is always at least 2/5.

It doesn’t even matter if you’re a sitting congressman who hits the gym regularly… shirtless is simply not a good look on anyone. This summer, just keep it on. You might even think about a lightweight cotton or linen jacket as well.

5 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: How to Dress for Summer

Just do this… all Summer, all day long, every Summer, every day. These sons of bitches are so goddamn dapper that poor Brigitte Fossey can’t decide which one of them to devour first… and third.

Martin Sheen, Brigitte Fossey, and Sam Neill at Cannes, 1981.

If you ever wanted to know how to dress for Summer, cancel your GQ subscription and pay no mind to the blogs and the mall. Just do this. See how they’re standing on the middle of a beach in jackets and not looking overdressed? That’s style.

Wearing this in Baltimore could literally take you from the office to happy hour to the ballgame, from dinner at Bluegrass to Flicks on the Hill, or from a day at the zoo to a night on the Avenue. It’s also got the subtle advantage of being absolutely timeless. This photo is 30 years old, and it’s still going to look fresh 30 years from now.

Whatever you’re doing this Summer, do it in this.

3 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: Highwaters and Sandals

The Summer has officially begun in Baltimore. Memorial Day weekend marked its official start, and the holiday brought the stifling Summer heat right along with it. It breaks our Choppy little heart to think that for the next 3 months, most people in our fair city are going to forgo fashion altogether in favor of whatever they’ve got in their drawers with the fewest actual threads in it. We’re in for a long Summer of sleeveless tees, jorts and the rest of it.

Some of us haven’t given up though. We’ve said before that we do not favor shortpants on grown men, and that sandals are only to be worn in close proximity to water. However, if you followed our advice and bought a stylish pair of flip flops, you may be wondering exactly how the fuck you’re expected to wear them if not with shorts. For the answer, we look once again to Steve McQueen:

Sure, it's too hot to put much effort into your wardrobe. Good thing this look is effortless.

If you’re actually going to be near the water, there’s no better look than this one. Not even the fact that this photo was once misappropriated for a Gap ad can take away from this dead-on Summer style. Sandals are actually made for getting your feet wet, and so highwater pants are an appropriate match. In point of fact, this is the only time that highwater pants are actually acceptable.

We’ve also said before that we’re no great fan of the Sartorialist, and one of his recent photos illustrates how not to wear highwaters:

Don't ever do this in Baltimore. Ever.

Scott Schuman publishes this kind of crap all the time. We only had to go back a couple of days to find this one. Our man here is exactly what Huckleberry Finn would look like if he moved to New York City and became a high-class rent boy.

Those pants are not only cuffed, they’re tailored that way to show off what we assume are artisanal calfskin ‘workman’s’ boots handmade in some Brooklyn studio, which must be stank as fuck being worn sockless the way they are. The rolled up short sleeves on the shirt (note McQueen’s long sleeves) and the willfully arcane suspenders suggest this lad belongs in the revival road cast of Newsies, but the $2000 briefcase carried without any other business attire reminds us that, yes, this guy probably does hand out lunchtime blowjobs to wall street executives for a living.

A comparison of these two photos illustrates not only the best way to wear cuffed pants, but also how to distinguish a timeless and effortless style from an incredibly expensive costume.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: The Emperor Has No Clothes

‘”But the Emperor has nothing at all on!” said a little child.’ Well, that’s not exactly true. It’s not that the Emperor of Cupertino has no clothes. It’s that he’s got just the one outfit.

We’re tempted to draw a lot of parallels between Apple, Inc. and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. One powerful man’s knowledge and word is placed beyond question by the public, supposed good design is meant to make up for a complete lack of functionality, exclusivity is made a priority, people pretend to be smarter than their peers, and good money is thrown after bad on something that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. We’re tempted to draw all those parallels, but we won’t because we know that our readers are clever enough to draw them on their own.

We’re just going to say that from a style standpoint, Steve Jobs needs some new clothes.

Same clothes, different year.

For someone who’s so often lauded for his products’ design, you would think he could realize that high design extends into the world of fashion as well. You’re supposed to be so creative? Create a damned wardrobe, why don’t you? It’s not hard at all. Any intern with an acceptance letter to business school understands that he needs to own at least two suits. Just because you’re at the top, you’re not exempt from that rule.

Steve Jobs only has one outfit. Don’t believe us? Google it.

Now, we get it. Jobs is a super rich dude and can wear whatever the hell he wants. But still, a black mock turtleneck and a pair of dad-jeans aren’t going to cut it. What? It’s comfortable? Balls. Zegna pants and cashmere sweaters are comfortable too. Why not make that your trademark? Don’t feel like shopping? Hire someone to do it for you. That’s what being rich is all about. Is there no app for that, huh?

But maybe Jobs is beyond all that. Maybe he transcends mere money. Maybe he really is the century’s most brilliant mind or a true cultural icon. Maybe he’s even an uncompromising idealist and man of the people. Whatever he may be though, he needs to start dressing better while there’s still time.

Before too long, he may be committed to a new signature look.

1 Comment

Filed under Chop Style