Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Now that’s Sharpe! Pea Coats and Modern Wear

Hello and welcome again ardent fashion friends to Metro Method. If you caught the Bernard Cornwell reference, +1 nerd points. Today’s post will address one of the most flexible pieces in any temperate weather wardrobe – the pea coat. As my significant other once appropriately stated “you could dress a horse in a pea coat and someone would make a pass at it in a bar” (to this day I wonder if I was that horse).

As usual, before we go any further, another history lesson! The pea coat in American dates back to at least as early as the 1720s. Nautical officers would wear differing length coats, dependent upon their rank. Bridge coats, which extended down past the thigh, were exclusively reserved for officers and chief petty officers. The term pea coat originated from the Dutch or West Frisian word pijjekker, in which pij referred to the type of cloth used, a coarse kind of twilled blue cloth with a nap on one side.

Today, pea coats are generally still made of wool (though heavier) and come in a variety of colors. The most traditional of which, of course, remains navy.

The pea coat is peculiar in the degree of flexibility it affords with most styles. Throw on a pair of jeans with a simple collared shirt under it with a tie or scarf for a splash of color or contrast and you’re set to go.

Prefer a more traditional play on the nautical background of the coat while maintaining a modern edge? Try a pair of slacks with a dress shoe or loafers depending upon your choice of pants (loafers are a good pick with lighter colors as you see below, with pencil grey and darker, you’ll generally want to go with a dress shoe).

Or hell, make an irreverent quip with the style by throwing a thin hoodie on under it that flashes your favorite sports brand across the chest and pair with jeans and all-star converse sneakers. The choices are near endless.

There are however, some things I suggest do NOT work well with pea-coats. They are as follows:

      1. Do not wear baggy jeans with a pea coat. With the exception of loose fit linen slacks, pea coats do not lend themselves well to baggy looks. While other styles can work, your best and safest bet is to stick with a straight or skinny jean.

      2. Beware of excess patterns with what you put under your pea coat. I like to peacock as much as the next metro man, but with the pea coat, what you’re really looking to highlight are the lines of your outfit as opposed to color blends per say, which is why you don’t see a huge variety in pea coat patterns. 

Otherwise, you've free reign on creating a look out of this wonderful outerwear that works best for you. As always, I wish you all the best in your fashion pursuits and in your other pursuits as well.

This is Cade signing out.

Editor’s Note:

Hi All,

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend pertaining to this topic and I thought I’d address it in this post, just in case others had similar questions. His question goes as follows –

‘Where I see a lot of skinny guys wearing pea coats, I don’t see a lot of heavier set guys wearing them. I tried one on myself with a dress shirt like you recommended and I could see why, it looked terrible. Are pea coats just not something bigger guys should try wearing?’

This is a serious question and as such I take it very seriously.  First and foremost, my golden rule of fashion needs to be restated here – never belittle yourself just because a look doesn't work out the first time. The fact that you tried something new is to be commended and you should be proud in having done so.
That said, there are things that you can add to your outfit to better fit your physique. My recommendation here is a dark vest that’s slightly looser fitting.

^ something like this but in a darker shade.

This will help draw more attention to your outerwear, rather than your dress attire. I do however recommend also adding a tie with this just to add a splash of fun and color to the look. It will help open your look up and make it seem less like your trying to hide behind your cloths, but rather, are more comfortable in looking your best.

I hope this is helpful to others and again please feel free to e-mail me if you've any other questions you’d like answered on this blog!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Faith and Fashion: a clandestine merger of self-expression

Hello all and for any new visitors welcome to Metro Method. In today's post we'll take a closer look at the transition from traditional spiritual wear to modern spiritual wear, and how you can make modern spiritual wear work for you.

First, a brief history discussion. Since their inception, religion and spirituality have universally institutionalized symbolism as a staple of worship. Some of the earliest evidence of symbolic behavior is associated with Middle Stone Age sites in Africa dating least 100,000 years ago, whereby people would use dyes to paint their bodies and living space with symbols representing transcendental icons. Moreover, as far back as 25,000 BCE, archaeologists have unearthed graves that have contained primitive ritualistic trinkets, including periwinkle shell necklaces, mammoth bone beads, and fox-tooth pendants, believed to be associated with pagan burial rituals.  
Symbols like these have been used to by cultures help define the undefinable ideas that are intrinsic to faith, the most commonly thought of in the United States being the cross. However, in today’s modern age, you’re just as likely as to see a conservative faithful wearing a small pendant, as you are a rapper dangling a cross-shaped edifice down past their crotch (a style that was made popular around the 1980s).   
Notwithstanding whether one group is holier than the other, the question then is, how has religious symbolism evolved into as much of a fashion statement as a faith statement? Without intending to sound cavalier, I submit that faith is as much about self-expression as fashion and can (and is) unanimously represented through our public persona. Simply put, when you feel strongly about two elements of self-representation, it’s likely that the two will bleed into each other and influence your decision making (you don’t see a whole bunch of nuns running around in hot pants…thank god).
So fine, that said you may be thinking ‘even if I’m willing to accept this premise about faith and fashion, I’m fairly conservative and I just wear a cross around my neck and I’m comfortable with that. Is that not fashionable or something?’
The answer: no, that’s just fine! If you feel comfortable having a small cross tucked under your dress shirt and suit, that’s no problem. But if your objective is to show off your faith, you’ll probably want to find a middle ground between bling-bling and illuminati.
To this effect, here are some cool, slightly edgy, ideas for showing off your beliefs.

1. Men’s bracelet bands. Very practical and trendy idea that’s flexible with many forms of self-expression. Men have been making use of bracelet bands to make a statement for a while now, the most memorable of which is probably Lance Armstrong’s yellow band, started in 2004. From a spirituality perspective this is easily adapted. A simple leather men’s bracelet like that below can be a great outlet for expressing ones faith. Buddha beads like those in the first image are another great option to capture general spirituality.

2. Belts. Not one commonly thought of, but believe it or not there are a lot of belt buckles that with a pair of jeans can look very well put together. Be careful here though, there’s a fine line between being obnoxious with a belt-buckle (which can be a huge fashion failure) and being edgy and Avant-garde.

^ NO


3. Necklaces. Yes necklaces as I said are fine. However, where you want to show them off, being slightly less conservative in this regard can go a long way in the fashion world. A typical cross and chain for example can come off as too expected. I recommend again raw leather necklaces in black for the greatest matching flexibility. Mix and match pendants and charms as you see fit, though I would recommend a smaller pendant, large pendants on men can again seem obnoxious (and too much like big blinging).
These are just some general tips and ideas, note that there are many other examples and ideas that are equally stylish that have not been listed in this post.
That’ll do it for me for this month’s post! Again, thanks to my supporters and your kind e-mails encouraging me to keep posting!

This is Cade signing out,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tech-styles: Advances in Mensware

Good evening to what few ardent readers and followers that I have that have stalwartly continued to encourage me to continue my blog and have held my feet to the fire in producing the new material that I’d promised months ago. First and foremost, thank you all for your being insufferable. Without your support, this blog would have faded like jeans in the white-wash. You are all as much a part of making this blog an active medium for men’s fashion discussions as I am, and I appreciate your input from the bottom of my soles.

Without any further puns and analogies to abuse, today’s post takes a progressive look into men’s fashion and considers some of the modern advances in menswear. I’m talking about fashion-tech. In a world inundated with ipods, ipads, it was only a matter of time until ifads came to be. However, the pioneers of fashion-tech were not well reviewed upon their debut. Efforts to capture markets appealing strongly towards sustainability through the use of new supposedly sustainable materials (i.e. bamboo, synthetic fibers, etc.) were sharply scrutinized by environmentalists as being misleading to consumers and in some respects had even greater impacts than conventional products. Additionally, and quite frankly, the designs that were being produced in this first generation of new men’s ware was also by-in-large fairly unimaginative in design, despite the initial creative push.

And while these issues uniform throughout the industry, it was prolific enough that it never really caught on even with the eco-minded.

Enter now the next generation of fashion-tech, the weird and extreme. While Lady GaGa’s meat dress will not soon be forgotten, some of the weird and the wild things designers came up with in this generation could have been promo-models for LED lights and glow sticks.

some more-so than others

As a fair disclaimer, the picture above was taken in 2010 and is merely an example.

While many of these styles were in fact aesthetically pleasing, if not at least amusing, they weren’t practical in any respect. However, in as fashion often does, the industry began to slowly evolve with both advances in technology and to public polls. In 2004, the first generation of solar jackets came out that were compatible with mp3 players. And while the idea was a good-one, few people subscribed to portable digital media with the same fervor that many do today. Note: the iphone wasn’t released until January, 2007. Additionally, as before, the jackets appeared cumbersome and unattractive.

However, as the widespread use of portable digital media began to take hold, and access to information on a real time basis became increasingly commonplace through such media as facebook and twitter, progressive designers again took a stab at trying to do fashion-tech right. This time, they hit the jack-pot. Loe and behold, the Zegna solar jacket. Extremely light weight, durable, surprisingly fashionable, and can extend the battery life of your iphone for hours on end.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better solar jacket that this puppy. But be warned, the price tag on these techno-threads runs around $700-900 depending on the season.

Not all new fashion tech necessarily involves technology in the conventional sense per say however. The sustainability side of fashion as also vastly improved, incorporating recycled synthetic fibers made from disposed of plastics, organic cottons and other natural plant fibers, and even biodegradable attire just in case you get bored of your outfit and have a compost heap out back. However, due to the fact that men’s retail business makes up 20 percent of the market, with eco-fashion constituting only 7 percent (5 percent of which is women’s) companies tend not to focus on eco-menswear (Ecotourre, 2011). A list of a few companies that I personally like which subscribe to these practices is listed below with links to their products.

This is a directory site with multiple links can be found at

With that, I’ll leave you all to cogitate upon whether or not fashion-tech designs are something you’d subscribe to, or just turn you off. Until next time –

Cade signing out…

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fashion Hijack

Recently I've been getting a lot of questions regarding the issue of -- what makes some looks 'work’ and others fall flat? Why is it when I try to be fashionable by putting on the exact same thing as so-and-so I just don't look the same? Now some of you will inevitably laugh at this remark, however this is a perfectly reasonable question. In order to both prove that this is a serious question and resolve it; I'll start by pointing out the obvious and subsequently allude to a more subtle point.

First the obvious point. When two people look nothing alike (ethnically, physically etc.) there is very little chance that either person will look as good as the other wearing the exact same thing. Indeed, John Doe down the street wearing the same thing that you saw walking down the catwalk in your most recent Armani catalog is unlikely to look nearly as "complete" -- his wardrobe may be matching but his attitude simply isn't. But now here I want to challenge you to consider whether this mismatch is due exclusively to a difference in physicality or whether there's something deeper going on. Do you happen to know any identical twins? Or even two very similar looking people where you would normally imagine them literally sharing wardrobes? If so, picture for a second what they'd look like having swapped wardrobes. Now picture them out in the real world interacting with you and everyone else in exactly the manner they normally would. Notice the disconnect? You've now discovered the subtle point, that even when all physical circumstances are equal, the way in which someone carries themselves on a day to day basis and more specifically how you perceive the totality of that person, mind, body and spirit, can make or break a look.

I call this level of personal wardrobe matching 'aptitude'; if someone has a high aptitude for a certain fashion, that person is very likely to be successful at a look with some diminutive bearing being granted to physical restrictions. Why is there any weight given to physical restrictions? Because at the end of the day, no matter how cool you may be as a dude, there's simply no way you'll be able to wear a V-neck T shirt as successfully as, say, Russell Brand without having a comparable physique.

The following is an arbitrary formula I've invented to demonstrate this quantitatively for all you business and math majors out there.

Attitude = (2 x Aptitude) - Physical restrictions

So what's the solution to wearing something successfully? First Stop. Now Breath. Now ask yourself in the privacy of your own head; am I comfortable with who I am deep down? If not, ask yourself, who do I want to be more like and why? Next, will others accept me more readily if I acted more like this person? Would they really see me in a similar light? Lastly, will wearing something different accomplish my goal of changing who I am? These are not easy questions to answer in honesty, and to be perfectly fair there is no right answer here. There are a lot of people whom deep down truly feel that they'd rather be someone else and work their asses off to be that ideal person; indeed so strong is their conviction that they eventually manage to pull it off. But this is where rubber meets the road folks, you need to be honest with who you feel you are and how you feel you want to express that through your wardrobe.

The golden rule: If you feel self conscious or uncomfortable about what you're wearing, that discomfort is magnified 3x by those viewing your discomfort.

This isn't to say you shouldn't try new styles and create new fashion. Far from it! Because everyone is unique there is no ONE fashion that is right or wrong. Indeed, nearly every rule of fashion is malleable so long as you're committed to working with it. It may not be ideal at first, but then again, where fashion is the reflection of a person, what person do you know is perfect to begin with?

Above and below are some photos from The Satorialist that I find to be masterful expressions not only of fashion, but of self. The last picture is undeniable proof that following this principle, you don't need to look good, to look great.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Like a Bad Itch...Styles Always Come Back

Before I get any further into this post, first and foremost I'd like to apologize (to my admittedly limited viewership) that I've not updated my blog in the last half year. Due to the rigors of law school I find myself with less and less time to spend with friends and family, and admittedly, by comparison to these two elements of my life, blogging about fashion falls short of the most rewarding use of my free time. Nevertheless, I am committed to what few of you there are whom have shown an interest in my blog with keeping you updated upon what I see brewing in the world of men’s fashion.

All that being said, today’s post will be a blend of history and observation of what I feel might be coming down the cool kid’s assembly line.

Behold Exhibit A: The Men’s Clutch: not so affectionately dubbed the 'man-purse'
The era of the men’s clutch bag never made the same splash in American fashion through the 1970s-1990s as the dramatic fashion shift from Beatnik to the ready-to-wear simplistic styles of Gap, Calvin Klien, Banana Republic and the like. However, through this same period, the casual use of men’s clutches in Europe remained prolific, with major brands including Prada and LV having continued their production to date.

So what, the educated reader should ask, would cause a come-back of the man-purse. I propose the following hypothesis.

If we accept the premise that the man-purse never truly left the world of men’s fashion to begin with, having persisted (valiantly) in Europe throughout the years, then it becomes less of a surprise that in a time of increased globalization and through the hyper-evolution of western fashion in Asia (e.g. Japanese/Korean pop-couture) that the man purse would eventually naturally find its way back into the hands of people willing to experiment with its use again. Subsequently, there has been dramatic feminization of men’s fashion in the last few years (e.g. skinny jeans, V-neck tops) the cause of which expands from media reinforcement to a market response by designers further perpetuating the process.

Needless to say -- guys, expect to get a lot of flack for trying to rock the man-purse. This is one look that you'll need to have some tremendous machismo going for you in order to overcome the man-purse stigma. But rest assured, you're not alone. David Beckham was recently seen rocking the new Prada man-purse shown above, and Brad Pitt is said to have one as well (unconfirmed). I leave you now with a bit of humor and paradox.

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Leave a Comment

Ross says:
December 5, 2010 at 11:10 am
um…anyone happen to know what brand or name that advertisement is from…? Cause that murse & jacket are amazing! hahahah but yeah…seriously…

knightmeric says:
December 5, 2010 at 11:43 am
Its not a purse its a satchel.

Psilence says:
December 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm
Is this from Water for Elephants? I read the book and heard they were making a movie of it with Robert Pattinson in it… not sure if want :S

Lorna says:
December 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm
It’s not a purse, it’s called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one.

And the verdict is: the forum trolls approve.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Great Paradox of Fashion

Photo: property of luciano barbera

“Lose your mind and come to your senses” –Unknown

Much of what confounds the every day fashionista is the debate being waged within the fashion community over labels; where the industry is divided between have and have not’s. Those believing the fashion community to be exclusive, tout labels in order to hyper-saturate the fashion community and media with brand names, effectively causing what I call ‘designer inbreeding’- keeping the fashion community from naturally evolving over time in response to trends and innovation by inundating the media and social forums with the pre-selected fashion aristocracy.

Let’s consider first the background of labels; what they mean and where they come from.

Historically, labels were a standard of quality, pioneered by Charles Fredrick Worth, an English tailor of the late 19th century who first began sewing his name into garments he designed. His work began the era of Haute Couture; where tailors would pre-design garments for their clients first as sketches, then if a client approved, the tailor would begin work. A couture garment is made to order for an individual customer, and is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric, sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. The look and fit of each peice took priority over the cost of materials and the time it required to make.

If you were to compare the original work and craftsmanship of tailors like Charles Fredrick Worth to the mass produced, over priced, garbage that now consumes the general fashion world, I’m sure Mr. Worth would be rolling in his grave. I highly doubt that Pamela Skaist-Levy or Gela Nash-Taylor, the original founders of Juicy Couture, have handcrafted anything in your closet. In fact, I’d be hesitant to presume either knows what’s being sold within JC now. The illusion that ‘bigger labels mean better quality’ has persisted and misled the general consumer since its deviation from its origins, and the fashion community as a whole has failed to openly communicate this.

It can be argued that the general quality of designer labels is above average and falls into what’s called the ‘ready-to-wear’, where designers don’t individually design garments, but selectively pick fabrics and design cuts with quality and exclusivity in mind. This is generally true and not something I dispute. However, when it comes to labels, there are designers whose quality and costs are dramatically overrepresented, and most of these companies are a part of the fashion aristocracy I mentioned earlier. Want an example? Take this year’s newest LV bag and a Kooba purse to any leather expert and ask him which is made of higher quality leather. Not only will you find the Kooba bag to be of higher quality, but best of all, a Kooba bag will run you at max 800 bucks. Here’s another one, close your eyes and have a friend let you hold any Jcrew T-shirt in one hand and compare it against a Gucci T-shirt in the other. See if you can identify which is which or notice any discernable difference. The only difference you’ll fine is one’s 20 bucks on sale and the other is 120 bucks on sale.

It’s time the fashion world came to its senses; using them to feel and see what’s better, and not what we think SHOULD be better. Just something to consider.


A day late but not a minute short of being well deserved

I know this post is late on my part, but I want to thank all those serving in our country. Without your sacrifice, the last thing any of us would be worrying about would be what we're wearing. Thank you for keeping red, white, and blue the colors of freedom for all of us here at home. In addition, my sincere wishes for the best go out to my friend Oz, who will be deploying with the Marines to Iraq. Stay safe and Godspeed.