Tag Archives: men’s 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: 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 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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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.

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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.

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Chop Style: Katt Williams, the Worst Dressed Man in America

Well, you may think we’re picking at some pretty low-hanging fruit here. We definitely are, but it has to be said. You can Google it for pages and pages and no one in the entire blogosphere has come out and said it yet… Katt Williams is the worst dressed man in America.

And we mean the worst by miles. Far and away the worst. Worse than Jack White, worse even than Bam Margera; in fact, Williams is high in the running with Gadhafi for worst dressed man in the entire world.

When wearing suits, always make sure your shirt matches your baseball cap.

Now you might think we’re just one of the haters. Haters gonna hate and all of that business. Not true. We might do a little hating on guys like James Franco or Adrien Brody from time to time, but they’re actually well dressed and good looking. We could never hate on Katt Williams, since we have no ambition at all to dress like a schizophrenic homosexual leprechaun middle-school pimp.

It’s hard to fuck with a guy with a Gucci endorsement like Franco, but anyone can steal Katt Williams’ look with a trip through the clearance racks at A.J. Wright or Foreman Mills. Just search out the brightest, most garish pieces you can find. Make sure they’re all 4 sizes too big and don’t match each other at all. A leopard print suit is a basic staple, but a pink suit over a t-shirt is another way to go. With suits that loud though, you have to make sure all your accessories are as gigantic and bright as possible and that your haircut and facial hair are as ridiculous as possible.

If those instructions aren’t precise enough, please to enjoy this video in which Williams takes you into a store and shows you point-by-point how to dress like a complete and utter clown.

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Chop Style: Straw Hats

Please understand: we are very wary about endorsing hats as a point of style. Very few people can pull them off in the modern era without affectation, and where you see a fedora or trilby anywhere in the media, you can bet one of America’s biggest douchebags is under it.

However, as Hunter S. Thompson shows us here, sometimes a man in a hat is a bad mother fucker.

An ideal example of form following function.

Thompson was a very bald man who spent a great amount of time chasing assholes around the desert. He knew a thing or two about keeping the sun off his head. In fact, everything Thompson wore was extremely functional; sunglasses to shade the eyes and hide bloodshots. Boots for pounding pavement or kicking the way out of a jam, lots of pockets for cigarettes and drugs and guns and whatnot… you get the idea.

So with the weather turning warm now and the sun shining longer and longer by the day, we’re in the market for a new straw hat. We’re thinking we might head down to Hippodrome Hatters and try on a homburg or a snap-brim for the Summer. This endorsement is not unconditional though. There are a few rules to keep in mind with hats to make sure they look natural and effortless, and not like this.

    1. Strictly Summer. We’re talking about natural fiber hats here. You wouldn’t wear shorts or sandals after baseball season, and the same goes for straw.

    2. Be sure it fits the rest of your outfit. It’ll look fine worn over a linen or seersucker shirt, but downright clownish worn with jeans and tennis shoes. A summer hat should complement an already cohesive style.

    3. Be over 30. Or at least damn near 30. This is just not a young man’s look. Youth has plenty of advantages, but the ability to pull off things like elbow patches, loafers, beards and hats is not one of them.

    4. Stay in the sun. No man should ever be wearing a hat indoors, and likewise they’re equally out of place after the sun sets. Straw is subject to the same rules as sunglasses. Anyone wearing them inside or at night or both is a douchebag.

Perhaps no other accessory is so fraught with the possibility for disaster. Wear it wrong once, and tagged photos could be following you around the internet forever. Wear it right though, and it’ll fit so naturally it would be hard to picture you without it.

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Chop Style: Baton-Type Umbrellas

Well, when it rains it pours, and it’s certainly been pouring here in Baltimore lately. This being only the second week in March, there’s going to be plenty more rain yet to fall this Spring. We don’t care what Marty Bass or Tom Tasselmyer has to say about it, it’s going to rain. Long and hard. And if you listen to the Chop instead of some inconsequential, trifling TV weathermen, we’ll have you dodging raindrops in style.

Time was when a gentleman was expected to carry a gentleman’s umbrella. For looking dapper while you’re soaking from head to toe, it’s damn near impossible to top Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain. No one has even come close in nearly 60 years. But while his jacket may be overdue for a comeback, his umbrella certainly is not. Your umbrella is not your grandfather’s walking stick. It doesn’t need to have a crooked handle made of African rhino horn or hand-carved mahogany. It doesn’t need a four-inch spear at its crown or a paraffin-dipped canvas shell. It doesn’t even need to cost more than $20.

This look was flash as hell in 1952, but needs a little updating for the 21st century.

While we typically recommend clothing and accessories made to a certain standard, and styled a little more elegantly than what passes muster on the street, we just can’t see any sense in buying a fancy umbrella for several reasons. A walking stick style umbrella is the bow-tie of a rainy day. It’s great for dandy old men, but it’s got no place over the head of a modern, stylish man under 50. When you take it out for a rainy night on the town, you’re going to have a few and forget it in the bar. If not, some other drunk is going to steal it. And they may be doing you a favor, since those things are big and clunky and spill water everywhere and catch the wind and jam mechanically and only really look right when you’re wearing a tie or overcoat anyway.

Instead of thinking of the umbrella as a potential fashion accessory, we’d encourage you to think of it merely as a tool to keep the rain off your head. It should be as efficient and understated as possible, which is why we swear by the baton-style umbrella. Pound for pound they provide just as much surface area, with just a fraction of the size and weight. An umbrella can only keep you dry if you bother to carry it, and it’s much easier to carry a baton with you even when you only think it might rain that day. If it’s not raining, you can stow it away in your messenger bag or failing that, just jam it into your back pocket.

This Ultra Mini model from Samsonite is a perfect example, and at $16.95, is generally available in department stores and other shops. Just keep the color neutral and hold it right-side-up and you can’t possibly go wrong.

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Chop Style: Messenger Bags

It recently occurred to us than since we now own a laptop, we’re going to be in need of a bag in which to carry it if we want to take it with us next time we go a-traveling. After all, the TSA is good for more than just groping your grandma and stealing your souvenirs… they also excel at breaking electronics.

We didn’t want to end up with something that looks more like a big, ridiculous piece of luggage, and we’re not too keen on briefcases either, since no one is mistaking us for a businessman anytime soon. So a messenger bag makes for a natural choice.

Besides, we’re also seriously considering buying a bicycle when we come back in May, so a decent messenger bag may end up serving double duty by toting a computer, as well as keeping hands free on a bike. With that in mind, and since we’ve already gone on record as saying fuck leather, we’re probably going to end up with one of the following options. Fendi and Ferragamo they ain’t, but they’re all solid choices for getting around Charm City.

Ben Sherman canvas messenger: $89.

Ben Sherman

We like this Ben Sherman bag, but probably not enough to buy it. We’re mostly including it here because we like the brand and it’s a solid choice for anyone on a tighter budget. It’s probably not worth its price tag, but is likely better than anything else you’ll find at that price. On the plus side it’s well designed and neutral, appearing both modern and classic at once. The downside is that you’re looking at cheaper construction and material than is ideal. The lower grade cotton canvas may fray or open up, and we’d bet the faux-leather lining won’t last long at all. $89.

Fossil 'Ranger' messenger bag: $168.

Fossil ‘Ranger’

A lot of people give Fossil no love, deriding their stuff as cheap, trendy, what-have-you. We’ll grant you that the watches and clothing leave a lot to be desired, but compare this bag to the Ben Sherman above and you’ll see immediately what an extra $79 buys you.

The leather here is genuine, and covers the whole bottom of the bag. The strap is made of the same canvas as the body, as opposed to woven nylon. The closure is mechanical, and not the magnets found on the Sherman or the velcro on even cheaper bags. The interior comes with a dedicated laptop pocket (which is the whole point of this post, eh?) as well as standard zip and slip pockets and is lined with canvas. The Sherman bag has ‘multi-function’ pockets and is lined with…??? Again, maybe not Louis Vuitton caliber, but a very solid bag for the money. $168.

Jack Spade wool felt snap messenger bag: orig. $335.



Jack Spade

Update: The website is now showing this bag as ‘unavailable’

Wool marks a big step up from canvas, and this 80% wool blend, leather lined number from Jack Spade is (ahem) almost worth its ridiculously high price tag. Lucky for us, it’s been marked down significantly, and Jack Spade is offering an extra 25% off even on sale items with the online code 25off until 1/17/11. That’s enough to make it very competitive price-wise with the brands above. We’re kind of torn between this and the also-on-sale soft waxwear folded messenger which is made of waxed canvas and is actually cheaper than the Fossil with both discounts. Wool: $335 $175.88 Canvas: $255 $133.88.

Commuter Bag by Sketchbook.

Sketchbook ‘Commuter’ Bag

Finally, we come to our only option that’s not made in China. A Twitter follower turned us onto the shop of Etsy seller Sketchbook yesterday, and we’re suitably impressed. The design suits us both aesthetically and practically, and you’ve got to love anything that’s 100% natural. Nothing in here but wool, cotton, leather and steel. You’ve got to cut out a hell of a lot of middlemen to get something of that kind of quality for this price, but that’s the great thing about an Etsy find. We imagine there are few things more satisfying than having someone ask ‘Who made your bag?’ and answering ‘Amber Jensen from Minneapolis.’ Plus with a current availability of one item in each color, you can’t get much more exclusive. $140

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Chop on the Spot: Interview With Sixteen Tons Proprietor Daniel Wylie

As you may already know, the Chop is no stranger to matters of style. Classic American fashion is one of the cornerstones of this blog. So when we heard word of a new men’s shop opening in Hampden, you can believe it raised our eyebrows pretty high.

For too many years quality menswear in Baltimore has been strictly limited to the suit-and-tie crowd, and anyone wanting to look good outside of office hours has had to hump it out to the mall, and as we all know the mall can be a very uncomfortable place, like the back of a Volkswagen.

Daniel Wylie has been a busy man of late, curating goods, rebuilding his shop space from the ground up, and dealing with the myriad other concerns of getting a business together. Sixteen Tons had its soft opening about 2 weeks ago, and we can tell you firsthand, he’s done a hell of a job. The newest store on the Avenue looks great, and will have you looking great by the time you walk out the door.

Busy as he’s been, Daniel was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk to the Chop about his new shop, ideas on style, and how to keep the gentlemen of Baltimore Town looking their best.

Thanks for taking time out to talk to the Chop. With interior design, as well as with men’s fashion, the details can make or break your whole style. As we speak, you’ve got the doors open, but have still been laying on the finishing touches. How has it gone so far setting up shop?

    I agree about the details. I was fortunate after much BS to get a truly unique building in Hampden, The Augusta Bank Building at 36th & Hickory [most recently Squidfire] and that to me is part of the battle as people are just drawn to it. They want to walk in and see what’s inside. The interior was pretty much just a room, raw space needing some serious attention. It hadn’t had much done to it in almost twenty years so I really had to start from scratch. There was nothing I could do that wouldn’t be a massive improvement on what was there. Some may say I went too far, but I really wanted to cultivate a distinct Sixteen Tons environment and experience that will hopefully compliment everything within it. The whole process has been grueling, lots of late nights and sore muscles. Fortunately, I had the Boh Man helping me. (He’s fucking useless really…)

Could you tell us a bit about your personal style, and how it may have evolved over time?

    Having style and having a style I think are different but obviously related; probably cousins. I’d like to think I’ve always had the latter and as I’ve grown (slightly!) older I am learning more about the former. As far as style I mean not so much the rules and regulations, but how and why certain things just look good on me. The terabytes of incredible information that are online have really been like an exhausting college course for me on the history of men’s clothing and everything associated with it .

Who or what do you think has had the most influence on your own wardrobe or style?

    My personal style has probably evolved over time mostly on gut instinct. Though even through those years of ignorance I can now see that I was at least unconsciously drawn to certain things and people for specific reasons. Most of those had to do with a kind of effortless not-giving-a-fuck but looking sharp nonetheless; maybe studied but not labored. I would have to reference as a couple of personal touchstones Sammy Davis Jr. because the man just perpetually looked sharp and Paul Simonon. The whole Rudeboy/Rat Pack/Rockabilly thing I dig, its like the bastard offspring of Ike Turner and Gene Vincent in a Nudie Suit with steel capped Cuban Cuban-boots.

It sounds like you’re talking about the Italian idea of Sprezzatura. Baltimore is a city with 21st century ideals, but very rough edges. It seems that artful dishevelment and organic wear and tear should be as natural here as cowboy boots in Texas or Sandals in Key West. Any thoughts on that?

    Sprezzatura is a new word to me, but absolutely spot on in definition. That is the black belt of fashion (life?) we should all aspire to.

Can you give us a teaser about some of what we can expect to find on the racks at 16 Tons?

    Some outerwear, some knits, some shirts, some no bullshit selvedge denim, definitely some labels new to Baltimore.

Locally exclusive labels, you say? That’s interesting. Care to tease us with some examples?

    Pretty positive that I’m the only one in Baltimore with Farah Vintage, Universal Works, Naked and Famous Jeans, Artifacts and SkunkFunk (who I probably won’t have again after this winter), and possibly Revolution Now, Field Notes and more.

That’s some quality stuff. Many men might cringe at the term “boutique” but 16 Tons is at least what you might call a “specialty shop”. What advantages for the customer does this style of shopping have over, say, a Macy’s or a
Sears?

    I just have to believe that most men loathe malls as much as I do. I’ve always preferred a more comfortable, interesting environment that has a unique personality to 2500 sq ft of racks of whatever. And it’s less complicated in the sense that if you like what the store is doing, its style or whatever, then it saves you having to hunt it down yourself. Also, I think the increased awareness of supporting smaller, local, independent businesses overrides any discomfort of what that business might be listed under in the yellow pages.

You’ve made it clear that 16 Tons is striving for Timeless or Classic style, but what does that mean to you exactly? It seems that there’s a very fine line between timeless and Old Fashioned, and many fashionable men unwittingly cross it when trying to smarten up. I’m thinking specifically of certain NY/Brooklyn or Jack White types who’ve run the slippery slope from fashion into age-inappropriate mustaches, hats, suspenders, etc. and end up looking like an anachronism.

    I think that the standards, the basic building block items of a man’s wardrobe, design wise, say since the beginning of the 20th century, can and have only been improved on so much. Pants are pants, two legs forever. A well cut, well fitting suit just looks good, forever. This is more or less why certain elements never go away, because they’ll never look bad. All the extremes or aesthetic details of different styles or eras are just that, styles, that come and go. A man will always look sharp in a nice hat but you can’t really say that about a dude in spats.

Speaking of going back in time, these days it can be tough to have a conversation about menswear without at least one or two Mad Men references being thrown around. Is this a blessing, a mixed blessing, or a curse?

    I’ve never watched it, but I’m familiar with the reference. I don’t think that anything that encourages men to wear clothes that fit them and not be afraid to look sharp can be a curse. It just depends on how it filters out into the public, good examples to learn something from and apply to daily dressing or a bunch of guys in period costume.”

In terms of fashion, what, if anything, sets Baltimore apart from any other east coast city?

    If my memory serves me correctly, it was the Baltimore market that single-handedly kept the Nike Air Force 1 in production, amazing if you think about it. Besides that bit of minutiae and maybe the Deaconites antifashion/fashion of a few years back, I can’t think of anything that our humble city has that makes it unique, clothing wise that is.

Finally, if you had to pick, what one thing should every man have in his closet?

    Hangers or skeletons…

Thanks again, Daniel. We can’t wait for the chance to blow some of our post- Christmas gift cash in the shop, and get to be looking right for New Years’ Eve. Of course, we may not have to now that you’ve got gift certificates available. Let’s be honest, Baltimore. A 16 Tons gift cert makes a much better last minute gift for the man in your life than that same old bottle of booze.

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Sixteen Tons is now open at 1100 W. 36th St. in Hampden. 410-554-0101 or shop16tons.com. Mon-Thu: 11-6, Fri & Sat: 11-7, Sun: 12-5.

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