When I met Kumar about a decade ago, he introduced me to the unique world of men's fashion. That initial arousal of my interest in this sub-discipline has grown and has been held ever since. Well, at the very least, I've been "sensitized" to it and can now spot (and smell!) a faux-pas from a mile away! And now, Kumar and myself are forming a dynamic duo (of sorts!) and together, we're endeavoring, to gently nudge and guide men, on to the path of sartorial "enlightenment."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week Six: Canada Goose

I won't harp on and on but as the followers of my other baby/blog would already know, no blog of mine would be complete without a post paying homage to homegrown Canada Goose jackets/coats (lol). But after singing the brand praises since last summer, I do have some legitimate complaints: First, their current ubiquitousness (ratio: 1:3 person) and second, the potential risk they pose to motorists. I never thought that death by Canada Goose was even possible until this morning when I tried to pull one of Kumar's crazy driving maneuvers on the highway only to find out that the fur trim on my my coat's hood creates a a blind spot bigger than the state of Texas! And then not too remote a possibility either, I guess, if you're actually ana to duck down feathers!!! Nevertheless, I still swear by their capacity to keep one toasty warm in frigid Montreal temperatures...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Week Five: Garde-Manger and Fine....Eating!

Ok, so I'm not a hundred percent sure, although, I will venture a guess, that Garde-Manger's obscure whole-in-the-wall (no sign!), Old Montreal location is part-owner, celebrity-chef Chuck Hughes's way of holding onto a measure of anonymity - our good friends, Candice & Irvin's text message to let us know that we will spot Garde-Manger by a "pink neon light," couldn't have come at the better time as Kumar and I scaled St-Francois-Xavier in search of the place last night in sub-zero temperatures. Inside, though, is invitingly warm and cozy owing a lot to its modest floor area and design that retains much of the space's original old charm and character.

The reservations that ensure a table at the minimum, a week later (and can go up to a month or longer!), only means that you'll be treated as an esteemed guest. The longish waiting time for the amazing food to arrive at your table on the other hand, is a sure-fire indication that the chefs aren't just churning out plates one after the other, carelessly slapping food onto them. Our friendly waiter took pains to explain the entire menu to us (that includes things like lobster poutine to start, copious amounts of seafood piled up on three-tier platters, bavette and the much-feted deep-fried Mars bar for dessert!) and was attentive to our needs for the rest of the evening but not to the point of smothering.

Needless to say, Garde-Manger has supplanted every single restaurant I've ever been to in its scale city-wide. If you're going to stain your crisp white Boss shirt, do it in metro class by dribbling bisque or carrot butter down it at Garde-Manger! (you can enlist the dry-cleaning services of Bellingham's after!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week Four: T.G.I.F.

Dressing to kill for the office all week doesn't necessarily buy one the right to revert/descend to slobbiness come Friday and go lax on one's normally conscientious and scrupulous dress and grooming habits - remember, you will never "rock" the "just-rolled-out-of-bed-look," ever. period.

Unless you have an explicit understanding with Nike to endorse the brand, don't show up at the office with a ratty T-shirt with their familiar logo and painfully cliche "Just Do It" catchphrase right beneath it emblazoned across your beefy chest (in which case you probably wouldn't be pencil-pushing anyways!). Just cease and desist, uh, don't do it! Ok, that was unforgivably cheesy, but really even a markedly subtler polo shirt and dockers emsemble is still better strictly confined (from tomorrow until Sunday) to the course or the range.

This is how you do casual business Friday:

Above is just for the purpose of illustration. It's actually a teaser from the Brunello Cucinelli Spring/Summer 2011 collection. The sports jacket is 100% luxurious cashmere (as is almost everything else Brunello Cucinelli!) treated to be water-proof and is out of our, the masses,' price range. But the layering is superb. One can easily simulate and achieve this look with more reasonably priced pieces, comprised of:

a.) A classic shirt.
b.) A polished sports jacket.
c.) A nice pair of pants e.g. jeans (must be a dark-wash) or for a fun departure from the usual, try cargos, as seen in the pic provided they are straight-leg & streamlined.
d.) A smart pair of shoes.

*Optional (but definitely adds tasteful gravitas) accessories: pocket square and scarf. Below is Kumar's version, 11-ounce corduroy sports jacket in navy. A bold purple and white gingham shirt, and jeans:

(I know the picture might look a bit staged and contrived, but, no, Kumar wasn't posing. He wasn't even aware that I took this!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week Three: Fashion Inspiration From Movies - Inception

(Above: Example of Costume Coordination, Inception.)

Movies are a great place to draw fashion inspiration from, especially when it comes to classier, timeless looks. Oftentimes, the fleeting, faddish, fashion-forward styles popular at the time of a movie's production appear outdated when the movie is finally released and you actually get to watch it since months will have had elapsed by then. This being the case, your best bet for to-the-minute fashion ideas are your trusty glossies (e.g. GQ, Esquire, etc.) previewing the creations of fashion powerhouses that predict and dictate trends, seasons in advance and some serious blogs (check out my list!). But really, unless a movie is actually about fashion, then this somewhat difficult to reconcile disparity between the sensitive time-frame involved in producing a movie and the high turnover of fashion trends shouldn't impact a movie or even be seen as a problem. Honestly, though, we needn't worry about Hollywood and their inexhaustible resources!

A tremendous amount of work is involved in both costume design and costume coordination in film. Design, of course, is the fabrication of garments from scratch - think period films where most of the costumes are painstakingly hand-sewn with much attention paid to detail, and much care taken to maintain authenticity and to keep true to the setting of the movie. Coordination on the other hand, essentially involves putting ensembles together out of existing clothes. And while the accolades for this important aspect of movie-making usually go to those period films showcasing full-costumes, honorable mention is in order when it comes to many others films featuring contemporary costumes that still effectively lend to the credibility of their characters.

Kumar is a real movie aficionado. As for myself, the last movie I saw was Inception - that's how much of a movie-fiend I am! Frankly, I still don't understand exactly how many "dreams within dreams" the lead protagist, Dom Cobb, played by the illustrious Leo di Caprio transcends. But then again I saw the movie all but once - in two installments. I also missed some crucial dialogue. Apparently you need to watch it a couple of times in order to get it. Just let me watch it again, and then I promise we'll talk inception!

I did like a lot of the outfits in the film, though. I loved the heir (or heir expropriated of his bequeathment by extraction???) Robert Fischer, jr's conservative business attire on the business-class scene right before they take off to L.A. and he is cunningly induced to a deep slumber. I liked his crisp shirt with the extra-wide-spread collar. I certainly preferred it over Cobb's shirt with the regular-spread collar, as you can see below. I'm not sure who was responsible for deciding who wore what, regardless, Leo certainly got the short end of the "cool-shirt stick" and Cillian Murphy just pulled off the corporate look better. Why am I not surprised? He's Eurpoean! (Well, so is Leo, technically, but he's more of a typically American dresser off-screen and somehow it translates here to his disadvantage.)

Then there's Cobb's right-hand man character, Arthur's three-piece suit (see picture at outset). Again not a huge fan of the regular-spread shirt, and too much taupe on taupe with the tie that you can't even make it out in this picture, but I love the shorter length of the pants and how it's tapered. Doesn't he look like a pawn, or actually, the King, on that chessboard pattern floor??? Just awesome!

I also liked Ellen Paige's student-architect character's get-ups. There was the casual "campus-chic" outfit with which she wore her hair loose and tousled (again, showcased in the picture at the outset for a better view):

...and then the corporate conservative power-suit with which she had her hair swept back into a severe chignon:

Both simply beautiful. Now, I know this is supposed to be a men's fashion blog, but what is a metro without his muse? :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Week Two: Easing You Guys into the World of Metro - The Suit

I concluded my last post with what I considered to be an "ultimate splurge" and so I'll introduce this post with another one: the made-to-measure suit - especially the ones of the bespoke variety. It's definitely a splurge, a luxury item, one of the finer things in life that make the cut to the Robson Report kind of thing - a status symbol, if you will, like a yacht or the Rolex, the fancy car - all toys for the big boys - the big guns, with big cash, who leave the rest of us trailing behind and eating their dust, sigh!!!

And while a made-to-measure suit is unarguably superlative, it's not always worth the cost, especially if you don't wear a suit on a regular basis. The next best thing, in my opinion is a good quality suit off-the-rack and the skills of a good tailor. Moreover, a good suit salesperson with sufficient "product knowledge" can offer his/her suggestion as to the ready-made suit of the best value commensurate to your budget and according to what you are willing to pay.

To call a suit "ready-to-wear," though, is a gross misnomering, for it is never really ready-to-wear. An off the rack suit will invariably need some (or a lot!) of taking in: for example, lengthening of the hems, shortening of the sleeves, letting out of the waist, or an adjusment in the seat or shoulders. Let's face it, men (and women for that matter!) come in different shapes and sizes (lol) which makes for awesome variety (lol) which in turn is the spice of life (lol). As a matter of fact, in all of Kumar's eight years of working in the high-end menswear retail business, he has yet to meet a perfect "sample-size," on whom a suit will fit like a glove off the rack, requiring no further tweaking - he's actually supposed to tell me when he does, that fateful day! So this is where a good tailor comes in. If you can't afford for one to make your entire suit, at least avail of the services of one to properly fit and take in a store-bought suit according to your measurements. Find a tailor, invest in one. Entrust your sartorial needs in him (in keeping with political correctness, technically, the term refers to a man, a "seamstress" is his female counterpart). Develop a relationship with your tailor on a professional level as you have with your trusted dentist or doctor. He's a highly-skilled tradesman whose trade shouldn't die to fused*, mass-produced and outsourced, second-rate garments.

Allow me to introduce Kumar. Kumar, meet followers. Followers, Kumar, a.k.a. my, as in my fave metro in J.P. Tilford M-T-M but non-bespoke :( granite, four-season suit available at Harry Rosen.

*chemically by mechanical means as opposed to painstakingly hand-stitched with good 'ol thread and a needle!)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Week One: Easing You Guys into the World of Metro - Cufflinks

My tolerance for jewelry on men is veeerrrryyy low. The general rule of thumb that applies when it comes to the sterner sex and jewelry definitely is: "Less is best" (if not "none at all!") Do keep, however, the wedding band (which stays put 24/7 under all circumstances and conditions, life-threatening or otherwise, a bad case of digital edema included). By all means wear a smart and classic watch, but please lose the heavy chrome (gasp!) chain and hologram pendant!

Nevertheless, one need not develop a complex and become a deranged killer and run amok from a constant surpression of strong and deep-set desires for baubles and the need for artistic self-expression. There are certain legitimate and tasteful ways for the gentleman to wear a little bling - one of them being in the form of cuff-links in more formal contexts, of course. They can complement or even complete a formal/semi-formal outfit. They come in an infinite array of designs, colors & material. Some are mass-produced and die-cast out of both semi-precious and precious metals (oooohhh platinum! ) or other materials like good 'ol plastic, others are individually designed and hand-made, fashioned as well out of metal or non-metals like PETA-friendly faux-ivory, wood, fabric (e.g. silk knots), bone, etc. Then there are even those encrusted or set with carat-sized precious gems - again, this list is not even remotely exhaustive! Now given this variety, self-denial would be a gross sin!

Here's a random (mini) sampling of some of Kumar's cuff-links, artfully (lol) strewn across our newly Windexed dining table...

You may click on my amateur pictures to enlarge image. Notice on the first photo, the drooly pudgy toddler thumb and index finger (caught red-handed, forgive the pun!) attempting to pincer grasp away potential choking hazard and permissibly gaudy ("very Versace" according to Kumee!) cuff-link unearthed after hours of scouring through local Village de Valeur. Other note-worthy ones: Investment banker turned London-based Armenian jewelry designer Robert Tateossian's number - would you believe that these are actually working, albeit mini, pinball maze games? Seriously, who needs game apps on their IPhone??? Perfect for the domestic/international jetsetter in desperate need of a mindless diversion during those long and boring layovers and flights. Intricate Tateossian "tourbillon" links, and the ultimate splurge: Classic Burberry's in the original tartan...enough said!