Tag Archives: clothing

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: 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.

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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: 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 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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