Archives: Accessories

How to choose a pocket square: Cotton or silk?

how to wear a pocket square in the office

So, you’ve made a commitment to yourself to start wearing pocket squares more often. Good for you! The BE team stands in applause. Seriously, this is a big thing. For whatever reason, a lot of men don’t wear pocket squares, leaving their chest pockets, sadly, very empty. The first step to filling that pocket and looking sharp is understanding how to choose a pocket square fabric.

If you head to the store to pick up a few, you are going to realize very quickly that aside from there being an enormous assortment of colors from which to choose, that you’ll also need to choose a fabric. That fabric is often cotton, linen, or silk.

When should you wear which one? Does it matter?

How to choose a pocket square

Here’s the big thing to know: In general terms, a cotton or linen pocket square will always be more casual than a silk pocket square. A notable exception is a crisp white cotton pocket square that always looks great for black tie events and when you’re wearing a white dress shirt. If it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for you.

The rule of thumb when choosing a pocket square is that you want to match the fabric of the pocket square to that of your jacket. Cotton and linen suits demand a cotton or linen pocket square. Whereas, a very refined woolen suit needs a more refined pocket square, and that means silk.

Like with so many things style related, much of this can be subjective. Rules can be bent. You’ll remember that I said as a general rule, cotton goes with cotton and silk goes with silk. But if you’re just starting out and still trying to build your own unique sense of style, I think there can be some real value in understanding the basics before you start to innovate. Then, in the future you may begin to realize that understanding how to choose a pocket square fabric was the easy part – that the real art lies in the matching.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t end a blog post on pocket squares without trying to drive the point home that all men look better wearing a pocket square in their jacket pocket…Yes, not many men wear one, and that means that it’s a perfect opportunity for you to stand apart!

Remember, anytime you have a jacket on, you should be wearing a pocket square. Period. That may mean a suit, sportcoat, or blazer. If there’s a chest pocket, you need to fill it!

Check out Episode 19 of the Daily BE for the video on how to choose a pocket square.

Further Reading

The BE Learn article: When to wear a pocket square

Driving gloves: The coolest accessory ever?

driving gloves

Do you own a pair of driving gloves? The kind with the open back and room for your knuckles to breath? If you don’t, I’m sure you’ve thought about it. In my humble opinion, a pair of driving gloves are hands down the coolest men’s style accessory there is. Every man looks great wearing a pair.

I used to think that in order to really “deserve” a pair, I needed to own a fast car. Something sexy and preferably without a top. Today, I’m much more open minded. I think that just driving a car, any car (even my 18 year old pick up), is enough justification to own a pair of driving gloves. Hmmm, let’s be even more open minded – maybe you don’t own a car, ever ridden in one?! You deserve a pair of driving gloves, if you want them ;).

Now that you’re emboldened to go out and buy a pair, here’s what you need to know to fully appreciate them.

Driving gloves history

Originally, driving gloves were used to keep the driver’s hands clean while operating the vehicle. Remember, early cars were relatively open, there wasn’t the closed cabin that we take for granted today. That meant that mud, dirt, snow, and rain could get onto the steering wheel. Driving gloves were used to keep the driver’s hands clean, warm, and of course, provide a reliable grip on the wheel, since power steering was not yet a thing. In addition, some early steering wheels were made of wood so there was the risk of splinters; leather gloves provided a layer of protection.

And where did early drivers store their driving gloves when not in use? In the compartment just ahead of the passenger seat – the glove box!

Design

Today, driving gloves are made of relatively thin leather. This is a good thing, because it will give you better feeling over the steering wheel. The grain in the leather is what helps to create an increased level of friction in your grip.

Your driving gloves should be unlined and with the seams on the outside so that you can better feel how the car is driving.

And of course, there is the open back and open knuckles, the tell-tale sign of a driving glove. These areas are left open to allow for greater flexibility and movement. The small holes along the fingers aid in ventilation, but also reduce stress on the very thin leather.

When shopping

When shopping for driving gloves, find a pair that fit tightly. You don’t want your hand to move around inside the glove!

Obviously, you’ll want to find something in leather. The best ones are made out of deer or peccary skin leather. By the way, a peccary is a South American wild pig.

References

Driving glove

How to match your watch to your suit or shirt

Do you give much thought to how to match your watch to your suit? Or what about something more casual like your go-to dress shirt? It can be easy to write off matching your accessories as somewhat frivolous when compared to the rest of your outfit. But with this article, I want to argue my case that something small like your watch band can help to really make your overall look. And yes, people do notice these subtle style enhancements.

Brett and I own a handful of Barton Watch Bands and we’ve been playing around with them for some time now. And until I can afford to buy the perfect watch for every one of my suits, sportcoats, and dress shirts (e.g. a Tourbillon for my peaked lapel cocktail jacket), swapping out the watch band will work just fine. Then again, if I owned a Tourbillon, I’d probably still fiddle with the band!

So, let’s take a look at two outfits. One dressy and one more casual.

Dressy

This is one of Brett’s favorite sportcoats. Aside from nailing the blue color scheme and showing off the working button holes, Brett neatly ties everything together with his watch. The watch face itself is elegant enough to stand up to the clean sophistication of his jacket and the brown leather Barton band isn’t too distracting.

how to match your watch to your suit

With this particular outfit, I think that wearing a conservative band is important because the sportcoat is very bold and has a lot going on with the blue patterning. Also, Brett’s bold use of red on the contrast collar fabric of his dress shirt is a somewhat unexpected pop of color. To add even more color with the watch band would be a mistake, I think.

how to match your watch to your suit

Another thing that we really like about this look is that the metallic watch face pairs nicely with the cufflinks that now and again come into view. Imagine if Brett was wearing a dark watch or a boring smartwatch – neither would relate to the cufflinks as coherently as we see here.

how to match your watch to your outfit

Casual

Let’s point our attention to a more casual scenario. You may recognize the shirt below as our Slate River Road flannel, now sadly out of stock. Named after one of my favorite camping sites outside Crested Butte, this shirt was designed with functionality in mind. The flannel is impressively warm and the two chest pockets ensure that you never run out of places to store your things. Both are flap pockets, but one is pleated for bulky items.

One of the really cool features on this shirt are the buttons – they are rubber! You can’t quite tell by looking at them, but they certainly feel different. I knew that I wanted these buttons when I designed the shirt because I felt that they were the perfect nod to the mountain motif. Consequently, a rubber watch band makes perfect sense. Sure, leather would work (as it usually does), but the rubber band just gives a sense of youthfulness and resilience that I think works really well with this look.

how to match your watch to your shirt

It’s worth noting that the watch band is of a lighter shade of green than the green in the shirt, which is much more of a forest green. Although there is a part of me that wishes I had a watch band that matches perfectly, how often does that really happen? So, in this case, I reached for what made the most sense. In the case we have here, I think the green watch band is a little bit playful and catches the eye nicely.

how to match your watch to your shirt

Something else I want to point out is the texture. The very textural rubber band is complemented nicely by the flannel fabric. In contrast, if I was wearing a very sleek black leather band with this same dress shirt, the two textures would be at odds with one another, wouldn’t they?

Wrap up

I hope these two examples give you a little insight into how you can match your watch to your suit or casual outfit. It’s easy to write your watch band off as a trivial style note, but it’s these subtle additions to your overall look that really help to paint a picture of your overall style.

By the way, if you’d like to read more about Barton Watch Bands, check out this earlier blog post I wrote.

By Ryan Wagner

Wearing shoes without socks, what you need to know

summer-style

There’s a bit of a stigma around wearing shoes without socks, isn’t there?

Ever since you were a little kid, you were always taught to match your socks and put them on before finding your shoes. Consequently, it probably feels a little funny when you don’t wear them, just like when you don’t buckle your seat belt in your car.

Something feels like it’s missing.

So, when we see someone wearing shoes without socks, they tend to stand out. And when those shoes are something more than mere sandals or running shoes, we always notice. A well dressed man at the office who left his socks in his drawer at home will earn all sorts of reputations.

If you’re considering skipping the shoes this summer, but haven’t mustered up the courage yet, this blog post is for you.

I want to make sure your reputation leans more towards “John is one sharp dressed man, such an Italian style!” as opposed to “Why do I always smell feet when John walks in the room?”

Wearing shoes without socks can be liberating and downright stylish

Wearing shoes without socks is very freeing.

It’s such a small change in your wardrobe, but can make a huge difference in how you feel.

Personally, I find it part European, part Steve McQueen, and part “I just don’t care.” No one will take you too seriously, but at the same time – and assuming you’re wearing tailored pants and the right shoes – you’ll carry an air of sophistication. It is this tricky juxtaposition that I think is so special, and one that doesn’t happen often in the world of men’s style.

I also think that not wearing socks is just plain simplistic. It’s less laundry and two fewer pieces of clothing. That’s something we can all get behind.

 

shoes

Here’s what you need to know to pull it off

First off, you’re going to need comfortable shoes to make this work. Wearing shoes without socks may help you to cultivate a new level of understanding for why you paid what you did for your shoes. Without a thin layer of cotton or wool to buffer the shoe from your skin, you’re going to very quickly find out just how soft that leather is.

Also, your feet may stink. This is probably the single biggest concern you have when you think about skipping the socks, isn’t it?

It’s certainly a valid concern.

Without socks to help control odor and mitigate dryness, you may end up cultivating a bit of a bacteria colony in your oxfords. Nobody wants that.

Fortunately, there are two things you can do:

  1. Use a powder like talc or something similar to act as a desiccant and control dryness.
  2. Find some of the “half socks” that don’t rise above the top of your shoe. This is Brett’s preferred method, and yes, it does raise the rather philosophical question of whether or not you’re really not wearing socks.

Personally, I don’t like either method, but I’m not really one to speak as I don’t have feet that are prone to sweating.

wearing shoes without socks and using low hidden socks

 

But I think you’ll know relatively quickly if you need to use either one of the techniques above. Your feet feeling wet or your coworkers giving you extra space in the office are two key indicators.

Personally, I really only wear socks for warmth these days. Over the past 5 years or so, sock habit has diminished more and more. I’ve really come to love the look of going sockless. During the warm months of summer, I’ve noticed that I’ve stayed considerably cooler and more comfortable during the day.

Speaking of warmer months, when the mercury really starts to rise, you may need to make the switch from leather to canvas shoes.

Something else to keep in mind is that with repeated wearing of shoes without socks your feet may develop some calluses in the areas prone to friction. In my experience, this isn’t anything to worry about, but you may notice your feet growing a little rougher in some spots. Then the discussion turns to moisturizing your feet, proper foot care, and so on.

When you still need to wear socks

Formal occasions are still formal occasions, and therefore I wouldn’t recommend skipping the socks in an attempt to boost your style at something like a wedding or other formal event.

Wearing shoes without socks will inherently be a more casual look. In the summer, when menswear adopts a more relaxed vibe, the sans-socks look is the perfect complement.

Regardless, each situation and event is unique and you’ll need to use your best judgment when skipping the socks.

Temperature is also an important consideration. When it’s 22 deg F outside and you’re not wearing any socks, it’ll look more like you forgot your socks altogether!

Wrap up

Some years ago, I was walking down 15th street in Denver and one of the men shining shoes on the street – who is particularly adept at making witty comments at the drop of a hat – saw me walk by without socks and said something that roughly equated my choice to not wear socks to the qualities of a skunk!

[I was wearing suede shoes that day, so I don’t think he saw me as a customer.]

Not everyone will understand why you aren’t wearing socks. Some conservatives may think it’s too flashy or too European (is that a thing?).

But who cares.

Do what makes you feel happy.

***

I hope this blog post will help to push you over the edge and help you to look at wearing shoes without socks in a more positive way.

This summer, I think you should try something new and leave the socks in your drawer! Free your ankles, stay cool, and stand apart.

See you out there.

By Ryan Wagner

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