Tag Archives: Classic 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: 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: Summer Shoes Do’s and Don’ts

Time to get serious Baltimore… serious about summer. The snow is a distant memory, the random rain showers are just about over, and daylight is stretching ever longer. Those trusty old Doc Marten boots you’ve been stinking up all winter aren’t going to cut it anymore. You need to get yourself up to Van Dyke and Bacon or down to Benjamin Lovell or someplace and get your feet right.

Lucky for you, the Chop is here to tell you how to get your feet right. Seeking style advice from GQ, Esquire or the internet at-large is a good start, but these sources are full of effete New Yorkers, Miami Beach wannabe’s, and of course, shoe advertisements, which are not quite the same as advice. In Chop Style, we’ll be telling you from time to time how to dress for Baltimore City since that’s where you live.

So without further ado, the Chop is glad to give you summer shoe choices that will take you from Canton to Hampden in style. (All images and prices are from Zappos.com and all pictures link to purchase page.)

Do’s:

Casual Loafers: Loafers like these Suds by Ted Baker ($135) are a great choice. These were made for pairing with chinos but can go with jeans as well, and they’ll show up without showing off.

Bucks: It’s a shame you don’t see more of these in town, since they’re a classic and they embody the property that all Baltimoreans demand from their clothes… they look better with age. These Kearneys ($89.95) from Florsheim will hold up well. True, Florsheim isn’t the most modern of brands, but they’ve been trying to resurrect their image by bringing Duckie Brown on board. The Kearneys are much the same as the Duckie lace-ups, but with a more classic sole and at fraction of the price.

Desert Boots: We proclaim 2010 the year of the desert boot. It’s hard to go wrong with Clarks ($95), who invented the desert boot, but most any brand will foot the bill. The sand suede pictured above is a little conservative, since one of the best things about desert boots is that they look flash as hell in any color of the rainbow.

Classic Sneakers: We know some of you out there are sneaker freaks. That’s all well and good, but we’re just not big on them. They are handy to have around though, especially during the summer. We say keep it classic, but maybe give the Converse a rest this year, huh? For us these Tretorn T-56’s will do the job, and we strongly recommend buying sneakers in dark colors, since white always goes dingy way too quickly. The best part about these? On sale for $44 (from a mere $55 original sticker).

Don’ts:

Running shoes: Compare these to the T-56’s above and you can easily see that all athletic shoes are not created equal. These are great shoes for running (we suppose) but you can go ahead and leave them in your gym locker, because they just look out of place in a social setting. (New balance MR760, $99.95)

Sandals: These Kenneth Coles ($78) are actually pretty nice sandals. Problem is, you can really only get away with sandals at the water’s edge. Poolside is okay, an open fire hydrant on Montford Avenue is not. Down the ocean is okay, the inner harbor is not. You also have to be very careful about what pants you pair sandals with, since the Chop does not approve of short-pants on grown-ass men.

Clogs: Just don’t. We don’t care if your girlfriend bought you these UGG Heralds ($120) for your birthday. We don’t care if they kind of sort of look like real shoes. Just don’t wear them, because when you do, you make all men everywhere look like schlubs.

Sanuks: Yep. We saved the worst for last. Your shoes say a lot about you, and these things say “Hey Brah, let’s drive the jeep up Gunpowder, put on a Badfish record and get fuuucked uuup. We can always find a job tomorrow, right?” From the quasi-gator green color to the flat foamy soles to the shoddy construction to the Name “Kerouac” ($54.95), these things look like they came straight out of a communal factory run by retarded hippies. The overall effect is similar to the clogs, but they only make you look like a shart, not all mankind.

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Chop Style: Guide to Thrift Store Shopping: Part II

Okay! so now that you know your size, what you need, and everything else we talked about yesterday, we’re finally ready to hit the shops. But don’t run out the door just yet. You can still go very wrong, very quickly if you’re not careful.

The goal here is to go for classic style. We could drink Pikesville manhattans all night and try to talk about what classic style means, but a picture is worth a thousand words. We suggest you stop taking Mad Men as your primary frame of reference, and once again strongly urge you all to check out the impossible cool.

This is how grown-ups dress. Jean Shrimpton and bystanders. (Image courtesy the impossible cool.)

When walking into a thrift shop, there are three ways you can go. One of them is to make a beeline for the racks of your sex and size, which is highly recommended. The goal here is efficiency, and since you already know what you’re looking for, why not go find it?

You can also head toward the “boutique” section that some stores feature near the front. These sections are typically made up of designer clothes in good condition, which are priced higher than the rest of the stock (though sometimes still a bargain). Here’s a dirty little secret though… what ends up in the boutique section is mostly arbitrary. It’s all according to the tastes and knowledge of hourly thrift store employees, who aren’t exactly fashionistas themselves. You’ll see a lot of labels you recognize, but big name designers are sometimes also fuck-ups. There’s really no difference in quality between the boutique rack and the general stock.

You can also stray into the sections that contain furniture, housewares, books and records, etc. Don’t do this! You’re here to shop for clothes today. Come back another time for all the other stuff. It’s entirely possible you’ll piss away an hour combing through Perry Como records while someone else walks away with that Fred Perry cardigan that would have looked better on you.

Not everyone looked dumb in the 70's. (Chet Baker. Image courtesy the impossible cool.

Now let’s get down to the straight dope. You’re standing in front of the rack and looking at a row of about 30 white shirts. How the hell do you know which one to buy? Aren’t they all the same? No. On with the tips:

>>> Fit. We know we already said that you have to know your size and try everything on, but you’re not just seeing if you can get it on, you want it to fit perfectly. Not all clothes are cut to what the tag says, and not all people fit patterns. There are plenty of articles online describing how things should fit, but basically if you’re trying it on and think it’s imperfect, it is. Sleeve length, neckroom, waist, shoulders; it’s hard to get every measurement to fall into place. It takes a lot of patience to find a piece that fits perfectly, but once you do you’ll find yourself reaching for it often, and thinking everything else in your closet doesn’t quite fit correctly.

>>> Material. Natural. No polyester. No rayon. No bullshit. Do you want to look like a cheap set of K-mart draperies, or like this? You should be looking for cotton and wool primarily, and the best quality of it you can find. These clothes will last you a lifetime. How do you think that herringbone jacket ended up here? It’s very possible that it out-lived it’s owner.

>>>Damage. Don’t buy damaged clothing. Ever. Don’t. Don’t try to convince yourself that that stain is too small to notice or that that hole will be hidden by your outerwear. It won’t, and you’ll look ridiculous. The only exception to this is damage that you are absolutely certain you can fix yourself. A missing button isn’t a problem. An off-the-seam tear is.

>>> Alteration. Going hand in hand with fit and damage is alteration. If you can alter your own clothes you’re way ahead of the game. The Chop has successfully altered jacket sleeves and added custom shirt buttons, but we’d fear to try anything more advanced. If you find that perfect outfit that doesn’t quite fit, you can have it altered (also altering the total price) but it’s important to understand what a tailor (read: dry-cleaner) can and can’t do.

>>> Look for tags and labels. Not that you should shop on tags and labels exclusively, but they can tell you a lot about a garment’s history. You’d be surprised how much never-worn clothing hits thrift stores with store tags still on it. Not that store tags make one garment inherently better than another, but they are nice to have. Labels are important to watch also. Most stores (Target, Macy’s, etc) have their own in-house brands. Tons of this shite ends up in thrift stores, and while it’s not all bad, it’s important to know that “Faded Glory” means you’re holding a pair of Wal-Mart jeans. Without resorting to being a label-whore, there’s no denying that big-name fashion houses do hire the best designers in the world, and make clothes that aren’t meant to be disposable.

>>> Shoes and accessories. You need to be very careful about walking a mile in another man’s shoes. You should never look to find boots, casual shoes, or athletic shoes used. You might, however, find a good pair of occasional shoes. Women have it much better than men in this respect, but even the men can find a good pair of brogues or something if you look long enough. The same rules as clothing apply, and don’t forget to look around at accessories. We got our Christian Dior bi-fold wallet at an area Goodwill, and get complimented on it all the time.

>>> Finally, take chances, but manage risks. The best part of shopping in a thrift store is that stuff is cheap. Buying white pants this Spring doesn’t have to mean pissing away half a day’s pay. If you get them home and realize that they actually don’t work on you, you can donate them right back. Always think about the places and events to which you could wear something, and the clothes you can match it to. Buy something you might not normally, but always, always, for Christ’s sake always resist the temptation to buy anything ironic.

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