Tag Archives: Men’s Fashion

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.

5 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: Pocket Knives

It’s time to talk about knives. It’s time to talk about knives because we’re in the market for a new one before we go back overseas. We never really thought we’d be the type to carry a knife around everywhere we go, but over the years we’ve come around to the opinion of Gentlemanly Means, and we’re almost never found without one.

The makers and retailers of pocket knives would have you believe that their products can be elevated to the level of talismanic objects; heirlooms passed from generation to generation, the old romantic notion of this was Grandpappy’s GI knife and he used it to cut his way out of a POW camp in Korea and all that. That’s entirely possible with a quality knife… if you don’t lose it first.

Our favorite knife to date... the CRKT Carson M16. Approximate actual size.

We lose knives all the time. As the GMP post points out, it can be tough to find the right intersection of price and quality, because you have to buy thinking you’re going to lose it sooner or later. We can hardly keep a knife longer than a pair of sunglasses, and usually end up having to buy a new one every 12-18 months. By now we’ve formed a pretty strong opinion, and knife shopping doesn’t take nearly as long as it once did.

For us, less is more. We’re not a fan of the Leatherman multitools or the top of the line Swiss Army models. That’s just too much steel. We want one blade- and we want that blade to feel large in the hand and small in the pocket, and be designed in such a way that it matches a suit as well as everyday jeans.

the first knife we really liked was ta Buck Nobleman, which served us quite well until it ended up at the bottom of the bay. It drew a lot of compliments, and our only real complaint about it was the lack of a belt clip, a feature we really like. (Tip, most belt clips are easily removable.)

We replaced that with a Gerber EVO Jr, which was a crappy piece of junk that fell apart in hand in less than a year. Last Gerber knife we’ll ever buy.

Our most recent knife, and quite possibly our next knife, was a Columbia River Tanto. We bought it for less than half of the $50 price tag on the website, and it was worth twice as much to us. It did absolutely everything asked of it, sharpened up nicely, and looked as good as it felt clipped to the pocket when not in use. In fact, throughout our travels we’ve probably met half a dozen others carrying knives from the CRKT EDC series, and every one swears it’s the best knife he’s ever owned.

2 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

Well, it’s pretty hot outside. In the dead of Summer, most people want to get away with wearing as little as possible. Jorts sightings have been at at all time high in Baltimore recently, and tank tops and flip flops are out in force as well.

We would hope that it doesn’t still need to be said in 2011, but apparently it does. The old rule still stands: No shirt, No shoes, No service.

Even the diviest of dive bars require shoes and shirts.

These things may be optional in your backyard or rooftop deck, but out in the streets, shoes and shirts are still mandatory, no matter what the temperature. Sure, okay, if you absolutely must you can wear sandals the right way but you’ve got to have something on your feet.

This is Baltimore City… it’s filthy. Aside from the typical urban grit and grime, our streets and sidewalks are often full of broken glass, chicken bones, strip club postcards and all other manner of hazards. The Chop happened to sight a girl walking barefoot down Cathedral Street a few days ago, and we were nothing less than revolted. Walking or (God forbid) running barefoot in an urban street is not only dangerous, it’s disgusting. Not even Rex Ryan would tickle those toes.

As far as shirts go, you’re gonna have to keep that on too. Nothing says absolute white trash redneck like going shirtless publicly. Have you ever seen COPS? The shirts to skins ratio on there is always at least 2/5.

It doesn’t even matter if you’re a sitting congressman who hits the gym regularly… shirtless is simply not a good look on anyone. This summer, just keep it on. You might even think about a lightweight cotton or linen jacket as well.

5 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chop Style

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: Guide to Men’s Watches

When the Chop turned 30 recently, we decided it would be thoroughly appropriate to mark the passage of time with the purchase of our first decent watch. There’s no small amount of metaphorical allusion involved in such a purchase, but for the Chop it was as much a practical acquisition as anything. Most watches we’ve had in the past have been gifts, and while they were all well-intentioned, they were also all cheap and low on style. If you’re going to live past 30, you deserve a watch that costs more than $30. That’s how we see it.

Your Chop did not enter into the pursuit of watch shopping lightly. We weren’t expecting to get something that’s going to be a future heirloom or anything, but if we’re going to part with a few hundred dollars, we’d like to end up with something that’s going to last us several years, be high on style, be made to quality standards, and go with most everything. In addition to being a self-birthday gift, the watch also has to do double duty as being a souvenir of our first trip to England, which is where we eventually found one that was just right.

These picks reflect an optimum mix of style, price, and quality. The Chop’s not going to waste your time with tourbillions, complications, jeweled bearings and the merits of white gold vs. rose gold. We just want you to look good when she asks you for the time.

What we wear:

Tissot

The Chop's watch. Tissot Desire.

This isn’t exactly our watch, but it’s the closest to be found on the US website. After being founded in Le Locle, Switzerland in 1853, Tissot eventually partnered with Omega, which are both now owned by the Swatch Group. Tissot offers a good range of styles with prices up into used-car-price-range territory, but we give highest marks to their Classic line which looks as good today as when these things were first designed.

What we would wear:

Mondaine

Mondaine Automatic – A132.30303.11SBB

Mondaine likes to market themselves as the official watch of the Swiss Railways, which is a pretty ringing endorsement. The common design aesthetic throughout their whole line makes these watches as easy to read on your wrist as they are to notice on someone else’s. The Automatic model above features day and date, which sets the price around $600. That’s a bargain if you’re in the market for a well-designed quality Swiss watch. The really good news for the rest of us is that prices go down from there. The Chop couldn’t justify wearing one of these as our only watch, but if we’re ever in the market for a second watch, we’re probably shopping Mondaine first.

Nixon

Nixon Chronicle in gunmetal/brown/taupe.

Nixon has found it’s way onto every fashionable watch shopper’s radar in the last few years, possibly because they’re more of a design house than a watchmaker. You wouldn’t know it to look at their line of watches though, which is as extensive as it is beautiful. The watch selector on their site is either a valuable shopping tool or a great time waster, depending on how serious you are about buying. They also offer most of their watches in a variety of shades and colors, so whatever design you have in mind, they’ve likely got a watch to match. The Regent is the top of their line for good reason, but anyone wanting to find a gorgeous watch in the $100 to $300 range would do well to check out the Chronicle, the Esquire, the Mellor or the Sentry. You’re going to want more than one.

Skagen

Skagen Extra Large Steel Case on Mesh

We discovered Danish brand Skagen while we were in Germany, and were sorely tempted to buy one. How cool would it be to walk around with a watch with a display reading “Freitag” instead of Friday? And that’s leaving aside the fact that their whole line are designed to be modern classics, are outfitted with Swiss quartz movements and fall in between $100 and $300.

Lucien Piccard

Lucien Piccard 26821BK

Swiss pedigree, Swiss or Japanese Seiko quartz, a full line of well designed watches, and most are around or below $500. What’s not to like? They’ve even got a statement on their website about conflict diamonds, which is admirable, and sadly, still all too rare in today’s marketplace.

What we would wear if were were filthy stinking rich:

We’re not rich, of course, but as a basis for comparison here’s a few of the world’s best watches to lust after. Click through to the watchmakers’ sites and take a close look at these, and you’ll laugh pretty hard next time you see Tiger Woods in a Tag Heuer ad or some sharts wearing Gucci in Milan.

Ball

Ball Trainmaster Cannonball... you can pull a Christopher Walken with that Rolex, big spender.

Ulysse Nardin

Ulysse Nardin Moonstruck... entirely mechanical yet smarter than your iPad.

Panerai

Panerai Luminor GMT... perfect Italian design that will outlast you.

2 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: Men’s Swimwear

The Chop’s not a great one for swimming. We might be tempted to sit poolside if there’s a bar cart involved, but dangling our ankles is about as wet as we’ll get. We’re also not too keen on staring at mostly naked men and comparing them side by side. That’s a job better suited to a beautiful woman, and so we’ve enlisted one to write today’s post. Local designer and fashionista Katy Hunchar has style to spare, and here she gives you her swimsuit picks for Summer 2011.

The Short Swim Trunk

The super short swim trunk is my favorite style, hands down. I just love legs! I also love Boris Becker. Though I gather from Google image search that current day B.B. dresses like a playboy, his court style in the late ‘80s was champion. I know he had international tennis star legs, but honestly, it was his crisp short shorts and trim polos that gave him the active man look I love. Here are three solid options, starting with the shortest:

Orlebar Brown's 'Pup': $130

I like Orlebar Brown’s Pup in olive and Paul Smith’s short slim style in navy. Wear them and move effortlessly through summer with free legs and awesomely tan thighs. If these are a little pricey, you can probably find a cheaper version at American Apparel. Pair them with white and gray heather t-shirts.

Patagonia Baggies: $45.

Patagonia’s Baggies are a super simple and versatile sport/swim short. They are perfect for a multitude of activity pairings. Run around the Harbor then stop at the Tiki Barge for a swim! Mow the lawn then go to Safeway. Whatever you want to do, these shorts will take you there. I also recommend these as a replacement for one pair of mesh basketball shorts. (As a side note, Patagonia carries a lot of good simple men’s styles.)

Original Penguin Board Short: $65.

Prints

Skip plaid this season. Stick to classic stripes and bright graphic prints. Nautical stripes are always in style and Penguin has some solid offerings for the seafaring fellow. I like this color-block in bright red and blue. Alternatively, Orlebar Brown’s Eley Kishimoto Dane is the raddest print I’ve seen so far. It looks best in red.

Orlebar Brown 'Dane': £150.

The Floral

This navy and orange floral, again by Paul Smith, is really great. A lot of florals are too busy and look like tropical rainbow explosions. This toned-down navy and orange print is nice and simple. It looks so melty and luxurious.

Paul smith's floral print: $175.

Denim Cut-offs

In middle school my entire gym class had to jump into a swimming pool wearing jeans. While treading water, we had to shimmy them off underwater, pull them to the surface, tie the end of each leg into a big fat knot, and finally, with our last gusts of life-breath, blow them up into makeshift denim life preservers. It is difficult to swim in denim, but absolutely possible.

Denim cut-offs can be worn successfully in a handful of locations: by the swimming hole, at the lake, and on tour while lounging around some random swimming pool. The best cut-offs are super faded and worn to threads. Most likely, you already have an old pair of jeans in your closet that are ready to cut. If you don’t have a suitable pair, reread Chop’s Guide to Thrift Store Shopping Part I and Part II and head over to Value Village. While you’re there, keep an eye out for Boris Becker shorts! Also look for OP tees with faded neon surf graphics to pair with your olive Pups. YES!

Cutoffs are high style at Prettyboy or Beaver Dam, not so much at the gym or hotel pool.

The Board Short

If you insist on wearing the board, look for the shortest pair you can bear and wear them low. Look through collections by skate and surf brands like Hurley, Volcom and RVCA or choose a simple solid red lifeguard style. Avoid contrasting diagonal plaids and prints that simulate laser beams. You know what I am talking about.

Y’all just roll through the water.

Truth is, if you really want to look awesome at the pool or beach this summer, learn how to move well in the water. Ride your bike down to the Patterson Park pool as soon as it opens and LAP IT UP.

__________________________________________________________________

Katy Hunchar is an artist and designer living in Charles Village. Check out her work at lpconcept.com and follow her on Twitter at @chipsnkaty. She is also a lifelong competitive swimmer and has coached swimmers of every age, including NCAA Division I swimming while in grad school.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chop Style