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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Casual Shoes from Oliberté

Oliberté_Narivo Brown Yellow Pullup 06-03-01M-1623

Oliberté was founded in 2009 “with the concept of building premium outdoor leather shoes by quality crafts people resulting in creating sustainable jobs.” This idea is very simple and powerful: Trade not aid. Check out the website and you’ll see the wide variety of casual shoes and other leather products available from this brand made in Ethiopia.

They sent us a pair of the Narivo in Brown-Yellow Pullup casual men’s loafer to try out and we were very impressed with the quality and craftsmanship. The brown shoe is pictured above and you can see that it would be perfect with jeans or slacks and for all sorts of casual settings. The high quality leather is very soft, and the classic design also has a modern twist with the lighter colored soles. This pair comes in grey, tan and green as well.

Here are the specs for this pair that retails for $130:

• Traditional stitch-down stitching around base
• Premium brown/yellow pullup leather upper
• 100% goat leather dark brown lining
• Vegetable tanned leather midsole
• Natural crepe rubber outsole with wedge
• 3mm dark brown round leather cord laces

If you browse the website you’ll also see a wide variety of beautiful leather bags as well. When it comes to quality and design, we’re confident you’ll be happy with products from Oliberté, and with Father’s Day coming up soon, you can find some excellent gift ideas as well.

  

Crevo shoes for the summer

It’s summertime, so you’re going to need some casual shoes to go with shorts or slacks that you can comfortably wear without socks. Flip flops are great in the summer but you can’t wear them everywhere, and the leather sandals just aren’t in style any more. We tried several new styles from Crevo including the Boone Dock shoes pictured above, and both were incredibly comfortable and looked great.

The Boone Docks have a unique feel with the fleece lining. It’s a little warm sometimes but the comfort level is fantastic. The shoes feature a cow suede upper, padded collar for extra comfort and fit and a cushioned EVA footbed, along with a lightweight and flexible non-slip rubber outsole. I love the look of this pair and they dress up your look while keeping it casual.

I tried out the Crevo Nepal in black and also loved this super-casual shoe. It’s super light and comfortable and great for everyday use when it’s warm. Slipping this pair on and off is super easy. They also look great with the white bottom sole that is becoming popular with casual shoes so they’ll definitely upgrade your style over your sneakers. The garment-dyed twill provides a well-worn and washed-out style and the shoes are ultra light.

You don’t need to toss your sneakers and sandals, but you can update your summer look considerably with the new Crevo styles. Check out the website for more selections, and keep them in mind as a gift idea with Father’s Day coming up soon.

  

Suede boots for your fall wardrobe

Fall is here, and it’s a good time to beef up your wardrobe now that the weather has changed and winter is around the corner. Clarks sent us a pair of their new Maguire ankle boots, and I was very impressed with the product. The boots came in brown soft distressed suede with a “plain toe,” meaning that the front toe area of the boot was much darker with a smoother finish. You can see in the photo above that it give the boot a very distinctive and trendier look while retaining a classic feel. The boots look great with jeans, casual slacks and corduroys, so they’re very versatile. Pair them up with a brown leather jacket and you have a great look for the fall.

The comfort of the boots was also impressive. The boots feature a removable OrthoLite® cushioned footbed and soft premium suede surround the foot. I wore these out several times and you can break them in quickly.

The boots retail for $124.99 and also come in brown and black leather. You can find them at ClarksUSA.com and Clarks retail stores nationwide. Overall, the styling of these boots together with the comfort with make the Maguires appealing to most guys.

  

Get some Lugz for Spring and Summer

Summer weather has finally arrived around most of the country, so people are getting outside and finally enjoying themselves. As you take a look at your wardrobe, you’ll want to add some casual shoes to compliment your summer clothes. Flip flops, sneakers and sandals are great, but if you’re looking for more options to go with shorts, jeans or casual pants, check out the new line of canvas shoes from Lugz. The line blends classic designs like durable boat shoes and laid-back slip-ons for a unique look that’s classic and fresh. The line features three new styles: Sparks, Marina and Marsh.

We tried out the two pairs listed above and we loved them. They’re very comfortable and offer a great option. There’s a wide variety of colors to choose from and they’re great for daily use or a night out. The canvas shoes also offer a great way to break out from the sandals and sneakers everyone else is wearing. So mix it up a bit and add a new option to perk up your summer style!

  

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