Tag Archives: Clothes

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: Five Things You Need to Get Dressed Properly

We caught you Baltimore. Red Handed. You’ve just been busted by the fashion police. We caught you slipping, and you’re going to have to step up your game wardrobe-wise, or risk being mocked mercilessly out in public for looking like a complete heel.

This weekend was full of uniforms everywhere we looked. There was, of course, the literal uniform of a football jersey which has become de rigueur for everyone everywhere all day on Sundays. On Friday though, it was a different sort of uniform altogether. We went down to check out Helmet at Sonar on Friday, where the dress code was a strict black XL band t-shirt, everyday jeans that haven’t been washed in a year, and black boots. That was a really cool look when Meantime came out, but of course, we were in middle school then. And so was the rest of the over-thirty crowd Friday night.

Every Baltimorean should own an ironing board. Just ask Divine.

Your clothes should be age appropriate, Baltimore. It’s a rule. It matters. It’s time to start dressing like a grown up. Of course, if you’re going to do it right, you’ll need more than just new clothes. You can’t fix what’s broken without the proper tools. What are the proper tools? Read on:

A Mirror

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it occurs to us that some of you bachelors on renters’ row are living without a mirror in the bedroom. Even our own roommate relies on the small, slightly cramped bathroom’s mirror. We were once guilty of this too, before we moved into the Chophouse, and we hated it. If a decent dresser/mirror combo is out of the question for you, at least take yourself up to Ikea and grab one for under $10. We bought one of these the week we moved in. You can hang it on the back of the closet door and paint the frame any color you like.

An Iron and Board

We know what you’ve been doing… waiting until Sunday to do your laundry, then getting sucked into football and food and other chores, and leaving the laundry to sit and wrinkle in the dryer. Or worse, dragging it home from the laundromat in a sack and leaving it for 3 days. If you’re going to look like a grown up, you need an iron and board. Hanging it in the bathroom during a hot shower isn’t cutting it. Bed Bath and Beyond will hook you up with an iron and compact board for $10 each. And when football season ends, you’ll be all set to pursue an interest in extreme ironing.

A Lint Brush

A lint brush is possibly the best five bucks you can invest in your wardrobe. Make sure you get one like this, and not one of those crappy ones with sticky paper on it. They’re available at any grocery store or pharmacy chain, and for a few bucks you can throw it in your drawer and leave it there forever. No matter how nice your clothes are, they look stupid when they’re covered in lint and pet hair.

A Shoeshine Kit

These are also available anywhere. You don’t even have to spring for a whole kit. A can of Kiwi and an old t-shirt and toothbrush will be serviceable. There’s no need to go overboard with it, like some pretentious assholes are wont to do. It’s not even necessary to put a lot of time or effort into the actual polishing if you don’t want to… just a quick shine 5 or 6 times a year will make your shoes look better and last longer.

A Door Hook

Time was, we’d take off a jacket or a pair of pants and toss it on a seat, intending to wear it again the next day. Then change our mind and gradually watch the clothes pile up. With the addition of a simple hook over the door, we now have a decent place to hang that stuff and keep it out of the way. And when the hooks get full we know it’s damn well time to put some clothes away. Buying a door hook is the best thing that ever happened to our dressing routine, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. Target has a ton of them, anywhere from 2 to 6 hooks, and starting as little as $4.99. Go get one.

With these tools in your box you should be able to fix any wardrobe wheels that may fall off on a Monday Morning. There’s plenty of other tools that may serve you well also; sewing kits, shoe insoles and the like. What sort of other items are helping you get dressed, Baltimore?

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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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