New Year’s Resolutions: Tools to Up Your Fashion Game in 2014

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The dawn of a New Year has a habit of shedding light on those parts of ourselves that we’d like to tweak and change. “A New Year, a new you:” a common mantra in support of creating and going after attainable New Year’s resolutions. Are you looking to dress the part of a new and improved version of yourself?

I am going to give you some tips on developing your style for the workplace without radically altering your look that will make keeping your New Year’s Resolution simple. The name of the game is accessorizing. Most men balk at the term, but accessories are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to really polish off your style, and I know of a few essentials that you’ll be glad to have stowed in your arsenal.

Shoes

Surprisingly enough, shoes tend to be one of the first things women notice about a man. If you’re shuffling around in a beat up or scuffed pair of department store kickers, you’re drawing far too much negative attention to yourself. When it comes to dress shoes, stick to natural colors and patterns – you can’t go wrong with plain, laced up leather shoes in black, brown, or cordovan (burgundy). I prefer shoes without buckles, because I feel buckles limit the versatility of the shoe. To add some flare I like wing tips: think Mad Men style. High quality shoes do not necessarily have to be expensive. Consider shopping at places like Nordstrom Rack for great deals on designer shoes such as Johnston and Murphy Wingtip Oxfords for around $150.

Watches

The style of a man’s timepiece gives a brief but in-depth look at his personality, and a good watch makes a fine first impression. Trust me; watches are the one subtle accessory that will always get noticed. Not to mention, whereas other accessories will wear out and require replacing over time, a real high quality wristwatch will serve dutifully for a lifetime, after which it can be passed on as an heirloom. Even if you can’t afford to drop a few G’s on a timepiece, a watch at an entry level price will still make a great statement in the workplace.

A professional-looking watch should be understated and classic. I like watches where the dial matches the wrist band, but have seen many beautiful pieces with a leather strap and silver/stainless dial. It all comes down to personal preference. As a rule of thumb, stay away from brightly colored faces and straps – unless they are refined, elegant, and match your suit well. And unless you are in a high up executive position with a large company, a wristwatch in solid gold will make you look ridiculous. Stick to stainless steel and silver; rose gold for more casual work environments, and classic leathers.

While it is true that some entry-level watches from brands like Omega can cost upwards of $2,000, a good quality watch like Stuhrling from ShopHQ, will suit your purposes well and set you back only a few hundred dollars. A price frame between $300 and $1,000 usually implies that the pieces are mass-produced, but that’s not to say that they aren’t well made. In general, a watch made in Switzerland, Japan, or the USA can be trusted to be of higher quality and good value.

Tie

There are many distinct ways to wear a tie – numerous tie variations, knots, sizes, and diverse situations in which a tie could be worn – that giving general tie advice is the best course of action here. First, make sure you are able to tie multiple knots, from half Windsor to Full Windsor to a Shelby knot. The best way to learn is have someone who knows teach you, or watch YouTube videos and practice. A few general guidelines for dressing with a tie at the office:

1) Do not wear loud colored ties to work or, more importantly, a job interview, and stay away from bright reds exclusively.
a. Bright, obnoxious ties in general are just annoying; it is better to wear a subtle tie that will get you taken seriously.
2) Do not wear novelty ties. Ever.
3) Ties should fall to just above the beltline, no shorter or further.
4) The tie should not match the shirt’s color exactly. Experiment with contrasting colors that go well together, like black and white, or patterned button-up where the tie’s color can be found in the shirt’s details.

As with other accessories, creating a stylish wardrobe shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. In reality, a $200 Armani tie will not function better than a $50 Donald Trump tie from Macy’s. I have had great luck in scoring some really nice ties from thrift stores for under $5!

Pocket Squares

Pocket squares aren’t for everyone, but maybe that is because not everyone is capable of pulling them off. Your pocket square should carry a color from either your shirt or tie, but not both. As with a neck tie, there are multiple ways to fold the fabric, including the Straight Fold, One Corner Fold, and Puff Fold, all of which are incredibly straightforward and can be demonstrated on Youtube. Again, cost hardly depicts the quality of a pocket square; go for one that is a stunning match to your suit, not one that boasts a designer label. If you really want to save money, you can even try making your own. This way, you get to select the fabric that best complements your suit shirt or tie.

Fountain Pen

My personal favorite accessory is one that can really set you apart from the crowd: a good fountain pen. Nearly every time I bust out my pen to sign a receipt or write a note, I get compliments and questions. It is a great conversation starter, especially as most people have never even seen a fountain pen! Like watches, fountain pens can be very pricey – some Mont Blanc fountain pens cost over $3,000, and fine heirloom quality pens are abundant around a price point of $500-1,000. Most pens in the $500 and up price range will have at least a 14K gold nib; that being said, an impressive-looking pen with a stainless steel nib, like the Cross brand at Office Depot, can be had for as low as $50 at most office supply stores. Though stainless steel nibs do not write as well as gold nibs, the stainless steel nib does write much better than an everyday roller ball or gel pen.

Take your look to a new level this year by adding some subtle accessories that will set you apart in the workforce and show a little bit more of your personality. Use these guidelines as a starting point as you develop your own tastes and preferences. If you have suggestions on where to get high quality pieces or if you know of lesser known brands, leave a comment!

  

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Car Review: 2013 Lexus CT 200h

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As Lexus continues to evolve and grow with vehicles like the CT 200h, it’s clear that the size, packaging, full hybrid technology and ultra-low emissions perfectly meet the requirements of a young, environmentally conscientious customer. Yet the Lexus CT 200h Premium offers no compromise on the refinement and driving pleasure that hallmarks the progressive luxury inherent in every Lexus. We spent a week driving this offering from Lexus in all kinds of weather and we were impressed!

EXTERIOR

There is no mistaking this car as a Lexus, as the grille is flanked by headlamp clusters positioned on a higher plane than the grille itself and the headlamps themselves focus on piercing, single halogen or optional twin LED low beam lamps. This gives the Lexus CT 200h Premium a new look that is more aggressive and modern. Believe it or not, the mirrors were something to behold in both function and style, as they were compact and aerodynamic door mirrors with an integral, LED side turn signal lamp. Careful aerodynamic detailing of the lower bumper and finned rear undercover smooths airflow from beneath the car, further improving both vehicle stability and fuel consumption. For just the right look, the 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels fit nicely under the fenders for that performance appearance certain buyers crave.

INTERIOR

The first thing that stood out to us was how much room there is in the cabin of the CT 200h. Design and function were at high levels with the dashboard being divided into two distinct zones with an upper Display Zone with an 8-inch LCD multi-display screen located at an ideal distance for at-a-glance viewing, and a lower Operation Zone which allows access to the uniquely designed shift lever and system controls.

Our test model was loaded with power tilt and slide moonrooof with sliding sun shade; NoLuxe trim interior; 10-speaker Lexus premium audio system; auto-dimming rearview mirror; Lexus homelink universal transceiver; black perforated leather-trimmed seats with driver’s memory; heated front seats and 4-way power passenger seat rain sensing intermittent wipers with mist cycle; HDD navigation system backup monitor; Lexus Enform with destination assist; HD radio; illuminated door sills; Bluetooth technology and SmartAccess with push button start. The extensive use of metallic finishes and dark, soft touch materials reinforces the premium quality of the cockpit. Customers will appreciate the Ecological Plastics with 30 percent plant-based Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials that are used for the floor mats, deck side and deck board trim. The CT is more than 80 percent recyclable and is designed to be easily dismantled. Recycle marks have been placed on the front, rear and tailgate trim to facilitate optimum recycling.

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2013 Year End Movie Review: David Medsker

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It is not gross hyperbole to suggest that, box office be damned, the last couple of years have not been Hollywood’s finest. With all due respect to “The Artist” and “Argo,” the previous two Best Picture winners and fine movies, neither of them would have won had they been released in 2010. In fact, “The Artist” wouldn’t have even made my Top 10 list that year, while “Argo” would have slotted slightly ahead of “The King’s Speech” (that year’s Best Picture winner, by the way), which means it would have ranked as the sixth best movie that year. Yes, 2010 was that good, and everything since has been, as far as I’m concerned, a great disappointment.

Enter 2013, and the first time since 2010 that a movie truly excited me, to the point where I wanted to stay and watch it again the second it ended. Then I felt sad because Roger Ebert hadn’t lived long enough to see it. I’m really going to miss him. He was a damned fine writer.

Sadly, I still don’t have enough movies to make a top ten list. This is a combination of two things: missing some daytime screenings (stupid day job), and being rather underwhelmed by some movies with big time buzz, including the one that will likely win Best Picture. That won’t be a travesty along the lines of “Crash” taking the trophy in 2005, but unworthy of the honor just the same.

My Favorite Movies of 2013

1. “GRAVITY

Only one movie comes even close to this one. I was thrilled when Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film “Children of Men” won my local film critics group’s award for Movie of the Year, and what he does here dwarves that in terms of technical achievement, while Sandra Bullock delivers as raw a performance as she’s ever given in her life. Even better, the movie is a mere 91 minutes long. Showing people something they’ve never seen before, while showing respect for the audience’s time: now that is my idea of a modern-day filmmaker.

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2. “AMERICAN HUSTLE

This is one of those ‘little moments’ movies, where the story is thoroughly engaging, but it’s the little bits that will stick in your head, and each of the leads has one. Bradley Cooper impersonating Louis C.K. towards the end. Christian Bale letting it all hang out at the party while listening to Duke Ellington. Jennifer Lawrence and the “science oven.” (Lawrence actually has two, if you include her lip sync of “Live and Let Die.”) Jeremy Renner explaining all of the different things you can heat in a science oven (all Italian foods). Amy Adams introducing Lady Greensly. “American Hustle” has a gonzo spirit, but it’s a smoke screen to distract you from the fact that at least one of the characters at any point in time is already thinking two moves ahead. Brilliant stuff.

3. “HER

If “American Hustle” is a ‘little moments’ movie, “Her” is the one that will lead people to have book club-type conversations after seeing it. If the idea of someone developing feelings for an operating system seems odd on the surface, it won’t once you see Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) give up people for Samantha (Scarlett Johannson), who satisfies him in ways that real women can’t. Johannson will probably be overlooked by the Academy for the same reasons that motion capture master Andy Serkis has been shunned (only her voice appears in the movie), but she delivers a heartbreaking and utterly believable performance as the zeroes-and-ones Samantha.

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Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD FWD

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When Hyundai designed the all-new six and seven-passenger Sante Fe, their recipe of bold design, high-output powertrains with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and a host of other features to please drivers and passengers stayed intact along with high expectations for functionality, versatility and comfort. After spending a week behind the wheel of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD FWD, we can now see why sales keep going up.

EXTERIOR

The new Hyundais have accomplished fantastic reviews for styling, and the new six-passenger 2013 Hyundai Santa FE LTD FWD continues the good-looking traits of prior Santa Fes. Hyundai designers crafted Santa Fe Sport and three-row Santa Fe together, with the signature differentiating element being the sideview daylight opening (side window shape); the larger Santa Fe features a shape that highlights the increased passenger and cargo room behind the third-row seat. Santa Fe also has its own bodyside character lines from the B-pillar back, grille design, chrome-tipped dual exhaust and a flush-mounted tow hitch design. Our test model was shining in becketts black paint, and with the19-inch Euroflange alloy wheels, this was one sharp looking machine. Also adding to the overall exterior package were front fog lights, heated exterior mirrors with turn signal indicators, roof side rails and windshield wiper deicer. I will say the new front lighting system looks as sleek as any vehicle on the road.

INTERIOR

Impressive from the moment you enter the cabin! The Santa Fe trim features the same flowing interior look designed for passenger functionality and comfort. From the available heated rear seats and eight-way power driver seat with four-way lumbar support, to a standard 40:20:40 folding rear seat back, Santa Fe boasts flexibility and a pleasant cabin for all. Also new for 2013 – and standard on all Santa Fe equipped with cloth seats – is a ‘YES Essentials’ seat fabric treatment that provides soil-resistant, anti-odor and anti-static properties for added longevity and livability. Special care and attention went into other interior details, such as an optional panoramic sunroof, which allows more natural light into the cabin and rear side window sunshades. Available on Santa Fe models is a push-button starter with proximity key, Electroluminescent Gauge Cluster with color LCD trip computer and a heated steering wheel.

Our test model sported heated black leather seating surfaces with second row captain’s chairs. The three-row Santa Fe increases second-row legroom by 1.9 inches and cargo capacity 5.5 cubic feet and features standard rear-passenger HVAC controls and vents to increase family comfort, while also offering a standard 50:50 split folding third-row bench seat with 31.5 inches of legroom. This seat back is perfect for seating five passengers comfortably or accommodating four passengers plus long items like skis, golf clubs, snowboards and surfboards. Fold down two seats to seat three people and hold larger packages, or fold all rear seats to maximize cargo space. Our three-row Santa Fe also featured a power liftgate for added convenience.

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Product Review: Roots of Fight Tyson ’88 Hoodie

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In the last 30 years, there hasn’t been a heavyweight boxer as good as Mike Tyson. Arguably the greatest heavyweight of all-time, the 5-10 Tyson, with just a 71-inch reach, routinely knocked out opponents that were five inches taller and a quarter of his own bodyweight heavier.

After his 38-second knockout win over Lou Savarese in 2000, Tyson uttered potentially the greatest quote in boxing history. “My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious.”

And it wasn’t just about his success in the ring. The brand of Mike Tyson has experienced the crossover appeal that no other boxer, outside of Muhammad Ali, can lay claim to.

If you grew up in the ’80s or early ’90s, you spent hours engaging the likes of Soda Popinski and Mr. Sandman in the Nintendo tour de force “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.” At his peak, “Kid Dynamite” was one of the most popular athletes in the world and still is to this day, thanks to his one-man show, “The Undisputed Truth.”

Even eight years after his final bout, Tyson’s legacy as a fighter and as a brand are both as impregnable as ever.

Roots of Fight pays tribute to the rich history of martial arts, boxing and MMA, and connects the history with images of iconic fighters like Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Helio Gracie and Bruce Lee in its clothing collection.

And we aren’t talking Affliction, Silver Star or any other weird fighting apparel that gives a nod to the strip mall jiu-jitsu black belt ethos that permeates the modern fight landscape.

Roots of Fight is all substance, no flash and dash. If Affliction is for the twenty-somethings who still haven’t learned humility is where it’s at, Roots of Fight is the quiet man whose presence alone controls the room.

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