Tag 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Chop Style: Best Summer Flip Flops

We’re reluctant to admit that we may need to acquire a decent pair of flip flops.

Now, we do not recommend sandals of any type for the men of Baltimore. You’re a grown man in a major city after all, not a dirty hippie at Bonnaroo. The only time sandals become acceptable for general wear is when you’re in very close proximity to a body of water. The kind you can swim in; the harbor doesn’t count, but swimming pools do.

We don’t find ourselves by the pool often enough to warrant sandal ownership, but now that Spring has sprung we’re getting a lot more use from the outdoor living spaces here at the Chophouse. We could use a pair of sandals for lounging on the decks, taking out the trash, or even popping over to the corner store. We haven’t got anything that’s really good for just slipping on briefly, and as we’ve already discussed, socks are not optional for shoes. So we might need sandals, and the very best sandals are flip flops. Here are three options we like at Macy’s, which all look great and cost about $30.

Clarks 'Jays'

There’s two things we like a lot about these Clarks. Their simple design makes them suitable for everything from running out to move your car to wearing at a beach wedding, and the combination of leather and rubber fuse high style with maximum comfort. $35.

Lacoste 'Molietts'

For an alternative to leather, Lacoste’s Molliets are made of rubber without looking cheap. Anything with that little gator on it is going to come off a little preppy, but as long as you steer clear of Madras shorts or ribbon belts you ought to be able to stay Mobtown Official and Chop Approved. Available in 4 colors. $32.

Tommy Hilfiger 'Lloyd'

Only a few notches lower on the prep factor scale is Tommy Hilfiger, but we like the retro styling of their Lloyd flip flop. These also combine rubber and leather, and if we’re going to have to shell out for a pair of flip flops, we’d like them to last through at least several Summers of sun and wear. We think these will. $30.

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Chop Style: Cheap Sunglasses vs. Expensive Sunglasses

We did a basic discussion of the style points of sunglasses back in January. That post was mostly just a visual primer on what to do and what not to do, with no mention of specific brands or models.

We’re not going to get too specific today either. But now that Summer is right around the corner and the sun is becoming a regular fixture in the sky again, we are going to try to settle one peculiar question which has been bugging us for quite some time: Should sunglasses be cheap or expensive?

Does Sonic Youth wear cheap sunglasses? Does it matter?

There are two schools of thought on this, and both are equally correct. Those who favor expensive sunglasses will point out that most $100+ pairs of shades are incredibly sturdy. The little tiny screws won’t loosen over time and the lenses won’t pop out of the frames at random. Speaking of lenses, at that price you mostly get nice lenses that are polarized and U/V gamma ray resistant, scratchproof and all that good shite. When you’re shopping really nice sunglasses, you typically get what you pay for.

Cheap sunglasses are cheap. There’s no two ways about that. But sometimes cheapness can be a virtue unto itself. With $100, you can go buy a very nice pair of Ray Ban’s that you can wear day in and day out, or you can buy 15 different pairs of cheap knockoffs and have a pair that’s a perfect match to any outfit. You can keep your pricey shades for years, but that’s only if you manage not to lose them. With cheap ones, you needn’t care if you lose or break them, because they were cheap. You can replace them so easily.


The bottom line:
We might go ahead and invest in a really nice pair of glasses that we could adopt as a stylistic trademark if we lived in some place like LA or Miami, but this is a Baltimore blog and we’re talking Baltimore Style. We say keep it cheap. Enjoy the art of thrift, and spend that extra cash on a decent shirt.

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Chop Style: The 10 Second Shoeshine

Maybe you’re the type that doesn’t dress up a lot. Perhaps you’re a lot more comfortable in a pair of Adidas or Converse than brogues or boots. Style is a matter of taste and lifestyle, and at the end of the day it’s to each his own.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and for a lot of you it will represent one of the two or three times you’ll see the inside of a church this year. Or you may just be getting together with family. Or your girlfriend’s family. For most people, whatever they’re doing, Easter is a prime day for wearing the best pair of shoes you own.

Now go home and get your fucking shinebox.

There’s no substitute for a proper shoeshine, but if you’re the sort who usually takes to shoes that don’t need polishing and has only one pair of dress shoes buried way back in the bottom of the closet and reserved for weddings and funerals, you may be caught out tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning when you wake up all hungover and reluctant and pull out your sad sack of a suit and try to remember how to tie a four in hand, you may then notice that your dress shoes have a nice patina of dust, cigarette ashes and beer foam stains, and you’ve got to be out the door in 10 minutes because you hit that snooze button too hard. Even if you had the time to give your shoes a proper shine, you don’t have brushes, cloth or polish, because after all, who the hell keeps that on hand all the time?

Fear not, slovenly friend. The Chop has you covered.

    The 10 Second Shoe Shine

  • Gather 4 paper towels and a can of furniture polish.
  • Spray one towel liberally with furniture polish and coat your shoe leather evenly.
  • Buff it lightly with a dry towel.
  • Repeat both steps on the other shoe.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Your shoes aren’t going to pass Marine Corps muster, but they’re going to look a sight better than they did 10 seconds ago, and probably even be presentable. Furniture polish is all wax based, as is shoe polish, so there’s no need to worry about harming your shoes. If they’re in a very sorry state with quite a bit of dust and dirt present, you’d also do well to wipe them down first with one end of a slightly damp cloth or towel and dry them with the other side.

It may not be ideal, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and more sensible way to clean your shoes than wasting perfectly good Champagne on them.

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