Tag Archives: Casual

Chop Style: How to Wear Sunglasses

Okay, Baltimore. Friday night was New Year’s Eve. Saturday night was, well, Saturday night, yes? Time marches on and all of that. If you’re anything like us, your bar or beer fridge is down a few bottles, your liver is running only by sheer inertia, and your head is significantly poundier.

Whether you’re making a walk of shame, creeping out to brunch, or heading out to watch football, if you’ve got the grave misfortune of having to leave the house on a Sunday, especially a Sunday like today, you’re going to need sunglasses.

Aside from their hangover-shielding properties, sunglasses are especially crucial to Baltimore fashion because as anyone who’s lived here more than a week knows, you never look a motherfucker in the eye on the street. Nothing personal, it’s just not something we do.

Funny thing about sunglasses though; get it right, and you’ll draw a lot of looks. Get it wrong, and you’ll draw a lot of stares.

CORRECT:

David Byrne

Sure, they’re big. But they’re not too big. Sure they’re dark. But they’re not too dark. As long as the rest of your outfit is understated, these will always work.

CORRECT:

Frank Sinatra

When most people think of Sinatra, they think of suits and hats. There’s a lot of sun and swimming pools in Las Vegas though, and you don’t wear 3 pieces of wool poolside in July.

CORRECT:

Paul Newman

Find a bad photo of Paul Newman. Go ahead and try… we’ll wait.

INCORRECT:

Bono

It’s almost as if Bono made a conscious effort to become a total douchebag, then made a deliberate search to find the perfect douchebag accessory and make it his personal trademark. Well done, Bono. Truly well done. Those shades look very pretty with your precious little earrings and your black on black on black silk ensemble.

INCORRECT:

Michael Phelps

This look is bad enough to make Dolce & Gabbana turn straight. On the other hand, this is the perfect style to rock when you’re rolling up York Road in an Expedition with McDonald’s wrappers all over the floor, Young Jeezy blasting out the window, and an underage entourage drinking Coors Light in the backseat.

INCORRECT:

Luke Scott

For the record, the Chop is a Luke Scott hater from way back. Even before the recent birther nonsense we’ve been hating on his slumpiness at the plate and his dumpiness in the outfield, his penchant for praying in public and most of all, his sunglasses.

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Chop Style: Wool for Winter Part 2- The Bomber

Now that we’ve thoroughly covered the ins and outs of the classic pea coat, you might be saying to yourself “Yeah, that’s all well and good Chop, but sometimes I just want to run out and buy groceries.”

We understand this perfectly well. While a pea coat or a proper overcoat is highly desirable as proof against the elements in the dead of winter, it can feel like a bit much at other times. Those tricky fall weeks where the mercury is more volatile than the Dow Jones and the first days of spring when the wind still sneaks in call for something a little lighter and smaller. In a city with three cool seasons, it only makes sense that everyone should own a good three season jacket as a go-to.

Robert Redford looking high and lonesome in a wool bomber.

Enter the wool bomber. It’s inherently a bit more casual than a pea coat, and we dare say better suited to those times when you want to leave the house looking good, but don’t necessarily need or want to be dressed to the nines. Dog walking, a winter bike ride, a quick trip to the store or to a friend’s house are all ideal situations for a woolen bomber.

For many people, the term ‘bomber’ still has them conjuring images of air force pilots and those old nylon numbers most closely associated with skinhead fashion. This is part of the reason we’re so big on wool, and why we’re doing a three day series on how you should be wearing it… because it makes the same simple jacket look a thousand times better. If you need proof, check out these examples from Cole Haan, Filson, and Fred Perry. True, those are all pretty pricey, but you’re internet savvy, right? Surely you can find the same style much, much cheaper.

A woolen bomber will take you effortlessly from the country to the manor.

Need more convincing? Just take a look at Robert Redford here. A woolen bomber was the height of casual cool when he wore them, and the look won’t be fading anytime soon. Hell, we wouldn’t be surprised if Redford’s still got one of those same jackets at hand, and still killing it in his 70’s out there at Sundance.

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Chop Style: Best Boots Under $200

After a few fits and starts, it’s about to turn genuinely cold and gray here in Baltimore. Leaves are falling, rain is falling, and soon enough there may even be snow falling. Add that to the year-round hazards that pedestrians encounter on Charm City’s streets (glass, chicken bones, strip club flyers), and it’s clear that your stylish summer shoes just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

You need a pair of boots, Baltimore. But maybe you’re afraid to pull the trigger? You want something you could shovel a few inches of snow in, if it came to that, but they’ve also got to serve for everyday wear. Hell, you might even want to throw them on under a suit for the odd holiday party that’s bound to pop up. Clearly, not just any boots will do.

And you probably don’t want to spend a fortune either. Don’t worry, the Chop’s got you covered. We’ve scoured the net and narrowed it down to half a dozen solid choices, all of which are high on style, suited for winter wear, and at or below $200. It’s hard to go wrong with a basic black Chelsea boot, but when you want to step it up a bit, you might consider one of the following options:

Fratelli 8012. $99 at Zappos.com

Fratelli 8012

We’ve got kind of a love/hate relationship with zappos. You’ve got to look through a lot of crap to find anything that looks good, but once you do, it looks like this. These Fratelli’s are unconventional in a lot of ways. They’ve got buckles, which we’re not usually a fan of, they’re cut low on the ankle for what they are, and they’re blue (but available in 3 other colors). Somehow they pull it all together though. They may not be the ideal choice for everyday wear, but they’re definitely going to stand out. $99 at Zappos.com

Mataalii Wingtip boots: $150 at Aldo.


Mataalii wingtips

Wingtip boots are having a moment right now, and we’re all for it. Make sure you’ve got the stones to pull these off though, because they’ll be in your closet for years to come. Don’t worry about it; they’re definitely going to wear well with age, and after your first winter in them they’re going to look a lot less dandy and a lot more pedigreed, which is as it should be. $150 at Aldo

The Denver Boot: $160 at Banana Republic

The Denver Boot

We’ve got a soft spot for Banana Republic, and when they offer things like these boots, it’s not hard to see why. Their Denver boot is tough enough for most anything, and genteel enough for a garden party. Swap out cleats for the uppermost eyelets and hide a zipper inside the ankle, and they’ll even kick off easily if you happen to be lucky enough to escort someone home from said garden party. Now that’s good design. $160 at Banana Republic

Brinley cap toed boots. $185 at Johnston and Murphy.

Brinley cap toed boot

Perhaps you like the wingtip boots above but you’re not ready to commit to the style? A cap toed boot provides a nice middle ground. It’s every bit as classic, but not quite as ostentatious. Once you’ve outgrown your floppy old chukka boots, you may be ready for their grown up alternative. These particular boots are also refurbishable, which few shoes are nowadays (and even fewer under $200) So if you like them, you can literally keep them forever. $185 at Johnston and Murphy

Frye's Arkansas mid-lace boot. $198 at Macy's

Frye’s Arkansas mid-lace boots

If you’re planning to actually work in these boots (whether in the backyard or at an actual job), Then Frye’s got the boot for you. An American company with all the heritage and quality of a Red Wing or Carhartt, Frye’s Arkansas boots are a pretty rare find: a genuine, bona fide work boot that actually looks good enough to wear out on the town. They’re even made right here in the good old US of A. $198 at Macy’s.

Bed Stu 'Post' boots. $200 at Nordstrom.

Bed Stu ‘Post’ Boots

If Frye is something of a throwback, then perhaps Bed Stu is what we can get used to in the 21st century. A lot of talk about humble roots and honest work and good design and quality materials, from a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters who design in some charming old salvaged warehouse building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, but send those designs overseas to be produced and shipped back. Pair them up with an established national high end retailer who wants to foster something of an ‘artisan’ or ’boutique’ feel, and you’ve got fashion’s dominant business model moving forward. This may or may not be an overly jaded view, so we’ll put it aside and look at the boots themselves.

Yeah. Those are pretty fucking nice boots. $200 at Nordstrom’s

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There are no fashion or style categories in the Baltimore Sun’s Mobbies Contest, so you’re just going to have to vote for the Chop in those categories where we are nominated, namely Music/Nightlife, Personal, and Misfits. We’ve been holding our own thus far, but we’re going to need a hand if we want to crack one of those top spots. Head over there and vote now. We’d be much obliged.

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Chop Style: How to Wear a Tie Casually

Baltimore is a great city for neckwear. It’s a town that loves its scarves, and they seem to increase in popularity every year. At the same time, the men of Baltimore are not so precious, effete and pretentious that we ever fell for the keffiyeh (shown here, on the left), or, God forbid, the ascot.

But today we want to talk about the simple straight necktie, which should be more of a pleasure than a chore to wear.

The Chop recently procured a new pair of jeans, and with the skies sunny, the winds calm and just a hint of Fall brisk in the air, it’s been the perfect excuse break out the casual ties for mixing with denim.

A: Warhol is cooler than You. B: Steal his look. It's foolproof and works on anyone.

For the sartorially savvy, there may be a tie for every occasion. Where the foppish man might own a closet full of ties for the office, ties for the club, ties for sporting, parties, dinners, etc, the rest of us will have to make due with a handful of more versatile staples which can pull double or even triple duty. So how do you know which ties will be a good fit for both a Monday meeting and a casual Friday, with happy hour? More importantly, how do you know which tie to buy when She’s dragging you down the mall concourse and demanding you to smarten up? Simple: You follow the rules.

Rule 1: Stay away from the silk. Matte is better than shiny. Always. You can wear most ties with suits, but most ties you (probably) own can’t be worn without suits. Go for something wool, cotton, linen, whatever. As long as you don’t need sunglasses to look at it. You can even get away with polyester or rayon, if everything else is in order.

Rule 2: Not too fat, not too thin. Fat ties are for bankers. Skinny ties are a great way to look like an asshole if you don’t know what you’re doing. Get out a ruler and make sure your tie is between 2.75″ and 3.125″ at its widest.

Rule 3: Less is more. Go for a solid color or a very subtle pattern. something like pin dots, pinstripes, or something so tight it resembles a solid from a distance is a safe bet. If it catches your eye among a collection of other ties, its going to be too loud and people will stare. This is not the idea.

Rule 4: Wear the right shirt. The right shirt is usually about the right collar. Button down collars are inherently casual, and are a safe bet. Spread collars are no good. Most regular collars will do, but if you can remove the collar stays, do.

Rule 5: Length. Fun or formal, your tie should end just above your belt. There should be enough of a little end to tuck into the tag.

Rule 6:Loosen up, tighten up. Undo your top button, but wear your tie just tightly enough that it holds the collar together at the neck.

Rule 7: Look at Warhol. He’s 60, but that would work just as well on a 16 year old, or anyone in between. The jacket is unassuming cool at its best, and serves to dress down the shirt and tie, both of which are classic and well sewn, and would look as much at home inside an Italian suit as they do inside this thrift-chic jacket.

Perfect.

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Chop Style: How to Shop at Target

You can ask any woman and they’ll all tell you the same thing… you can find some really great stuff at Target.

It’s no accident either. Whereas their main competitor Wal-Mart seems to purposefully sell the most generic, basic and bland sorts of items across the board and across the country, Target’s designer fashion program is consistently on-trend, versatile, and affordable, and is not only key to their business model, but to their success as well.

Whether it’s through partnerships with big name designers like Jean Paul Gaultier or Alexander McQueen, nationwide agreements with labels like Mossimo and Converse, or just hiring talented, sensible designers into their house label, design sensibility and reasonable prices make Target almost impossible to ignore.

It's hard to go wrong in a pair of Levi's.

Unfortunately, as with some other stores, women seem to have it much better than men in the aisles of Target. The Men’s section in every Target we’ve ever seen has been underwhelming, to say the least. Not only is it relegated to a small corner of the store, but it often looks more like it’s full of overgrown boys’ clothes than anything an actual man would wear. Still though, if you choose carefully it is possible to come away from Target with a few great pieces of clothing without spending much money at all.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you are in fact a man, and not an overgrown boy. This alone will rule out entire swaths of the men’s section very quickly. Once you get past the many racks of giant hibiscus printed board shorts, cargo shorts, and crummy graphic tees you’re on the right track.

While you’re at it, you can also skip right over any and all dress shirts, slacks, jackets, suits, shirts or anything that one might wear to an office. This is not where Target excels, and you’d do much better to pick these up elsewhere. Despite the partnership with Converse, the men’s shoe section can’t hold a candle to an actual shoe store. Once you’ve gotten past all this, you’re left with what is generally regarded as weekend wear.

Great for outdoor parties because it attracts women... and barbecue sauce.

As with any large chain, Target selection is dictated by volume. The good news is that everything is seasonally appropriate. You won’t find yourself buried in cable-knit sweaters in July or perusing shorts in December. The bad news is that sizing is at it’s most basic and is very limited. Most menswear in Target stores is labeled S,M,L, or maybe XL. Jeans run from about 30″-40″. If you’re accustomed to ‘big and tall’ shopping, you can likely stay out of Target entirely.

For the rest of us, it is crucial to keep in mind a rule you would follow at all times: Don’t outfit yourself entirely from any one store. We put that in bold italics because it’s important. It doesn’t matter whether that store is Target, Banana Republic, or Brooks Brothers. Buying too many clothes from one source shows through on the street, and it never looks quite right.

100% cotton and flat fronts. What more do you want?

What you’re looking for at Target is typically solid basics like a pair of Levi’s or Wranglers (mind the Brett Favre dad-jeans though, there are plenty of those around), some flat-front chinos or a casual button up or polo. It can also be an outstanding source for certain accessories, most especially socks, belts, boxers and hats.

The hat selection is much better than you’d expect, but keep in mind that it’s very easy to look like a total shart in a hat. Don’t even try it if you’re under 30, and eschew any shred of irony.

Several types of polos, all under $15.

By the same turn, it’s also a terrible place to shop for accessories. Sunglasses, wristwatches, and anything else that’s not socks, belts or boxers can be pretty tacky and is usually of very poor quality.

Our ultimate advice? Don’t go to Target for clothes. But if you happen to be in there for a new TV or a set of dishes or a small appliance, be sure to at least glance at the clothes. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Note: because of technical issues with Target’s website, these photos are of similar products. They’re of about the same quality and fairly well representative of Target’s offerings. Sorry about that.

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