The Latest: Friday 19 September 2014

The Shawl Collar Cardigan as Outerwear

When someone asks how to wear a shawl collar cardigan the conventional answer is to think of it as a casual blazer, but a sufficiently heavy sweater can reasonably stand in as a coat as well. And while nobody should wear one over a double-breasted waistcoat as Suitsupply have styled it here—on the basis that nobody should wear a double-breasted waistcoat under any circumstances—their demonstration of layering suggests some interesting ideas. To overcome the inherently porous nature of a knit garment one might consider an inner layer of something like Uniqlo's HEATTECH that adds warmth with virtually no bulk. With an insulating layer like this, a shirt and a heavy wool cardigan, you're set for temperatures below freezing.
18.sep.2014 style
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When social media advertising fails hard | Fail

If your advertising campaign is based on handing out advice, a good first step might be to look like a credible source. This is a nice sentiment, but a gentleman probably knows to either not wear clothes that don't remotely fit him or to visit a freakin' tailor. Particularly if his jacket sleeves are 2" too long and he looks like a kid wearing his dad's suit.
15.sep.2014 culture style
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Thomas Mark Heritage picks for fall | Buy

It's come to our attention that some of you haven't yet invested in a bit of African goodness from everyone's favourite new men's accessories brand. To help you get started here are some picks designed to perfectly complement the colours of your fall wardrobe.

The Bamafele pocket square [$39] is a Mali wax print of leaf green and white on a warm brown background that has a subtle texture of its own; we added a white contrast edge. Very soft cotton; you can wear it much like a silk square.

Our Taza wrist beads [$39] are made of sandy Moroccan agate interspersed with red jasper and Ethiopian brass heishi. A nice complement to your watch and/or our Obuasi Ghana glass beads [$19].

The Skiasso pocket square [$29] is an autumnal khaki with navy and red brambles with a navy contrast edge. Scrunch it into your pocket with a bit of that bright red showing to add a shot of warm colour.

Our Kabara Blue and Brown squares [$29] are among our most universally wearable. No better place to start your collection. Or your Christmas shopping. Yeah, we're going there.
12.sep.2014 style
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Lands' End Supima Cotton Polo Sweaters | Buy

Long-time readers know that Unrefinery's appreciation for the smart wearability of the polo sweater and difficulty in finding decent ones is a source of such existential angst that at one shameful point last year it lead down a dark road to Jos. A. F*cking Bank. Fortunately this year we have Lands' End and their new $59 cotton polos. While LE's claim that the collar will hold up under a blazer is a bit of a stretch, the collar is actually a strong point, having a bit of structure and decent size.

Lands' End sizing is finally coming around, so while you might want to size down one you might not. It's more a matter of how snug you like your fit rather than whether it'll fit at all.

Available in several colours. The black and navy are probably the most versatile, but the sage green is really nice. And consider that heathered lilac as a pairing with your navy trousers.
10.sep.2014 style
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The Smart Watch We're Still Waiting For | Wait

"Smart Watches" are getting better. First they were huge and rectangular, then Motorola announced one that's round but has a chunk missing out of the bottom, and now LG gives us a truly round face. Progress. Clearly. But the reality is that watch enthusiasts are never going to be won over by a flat display of pixels that never stops being a computer screen and suffers from the sorts of glare and battery life issues that are everyone's least favourite thing about smart phones.

What we need is an actual mechanical watch that is only "smart" when it needs to be. And for that, we need two things, really:
  1. TOLEDs, the OLED variant that promises 85% transparency when the display is turned off, need to get better. When they produce bright high resolution colour when turned on and near-100% transparency when off, then the watch's crystal can light up as a smart screen when you need it—when checking notifications or navigating, or in the dark—and revert to a normal watch with physical hands the rest of the time.
  2. A real watch maker needs to get involved. Someone like Panerai or Omega who is going to take ownership of the design and bank their reputation on its success.
Then we'll be getting somewhere.
04.sep.2014 design tech
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Great news from the world of logo-covered sh*t

The Wall Street Journal reports that Abercrombie & Fitch is about to remove almost all logos from their clothes in the US, after losing a non-trivial amount of the youth market to logo-free brands like Zara and H&M. According to the report they are also working to reduce prices, but they seem to be missing a link in the logic chain here: if your cotton/acrylic/polyester sweater is $100, and Uniqlo's 100% wool sweater is $30, even if you remove the logo and get your sweater down to a competitive price you still haven't offered a reason why kids should shop in your idiotic store in the first place.

There are few tastes more fickle than those of teenagers, and these trends are of course cyclical. But if the two main takeaways here are that kids are souring on being walking billboards and that A&F is in trouble then we're all for it.
01.sep.2014 style
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In Praise Of Limitations

We might all think we'd like to have an unlimited wardrobe budget, or thousands of square feet of living space, but consider for a moment the creative solutions inspired by limitations vs. the "writer's block" that often comes with a completely clean sheet of paper. Some of our favourite recent works of art and architecture are responses to limitations, whether chosen or externally imposed:

Specht Harpman Architects recently renovated a tiny 425-square-foot loft (in, of course, New York) that through hidden storage, a cantilevered bedroom and many wise design decisions somehow becomes an airy, modern, inviting space.

The instrumentation of the British hard rock duo Royal Blood is limited to drums and bass—all harmonic content coming from a human voice and a (mostly) monophonic instrument. The challenge of producing a wall of glorious noise from what most would consider half of a band is achieved through clever signal processing and arrangements that utilize the gamut of the available frequencies and the full multitasking abilities of the players.

The over-the-top McKinley Spaces renovation of a 19th Century London house clearly knew no financial boundaries, but you have to appreciate the stubbornness behind retaining the tiny garage and adapting it to accommodate two highly impractical sports cars.

Sometimes limitations are self-imposed, sometimes they are necessitated by budget or some other intrusion of reality. Either way, try to make it your first instinct to embrace rather than circumvent them. You might be surprised by the creativity it brings out in you.
28.aug.2014 culture design style
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Mailbag: I'm on a boat

An anonymous reader writes: "I'm going to be on a small yacht for an afternoon social occasion, any practical advice on what to wear? I know, no navy blazer with gold buttons." Answer: The biggest mistake people make isn't so much about appearance but in underestimating the chill when they get out on the water and the wind picks up. So ideally you'll have an outer layer that you can add or remove as needed—a t-shirt with a cardigan or other sweater, a polo or rugby with a lightweight jacket, etc. Khakis always work. Bring a cotton or linen scarf. And while boat/deck shoes are specifically designed for this situation, they're still kind of awkward faux-prep affectations. Better to go with canvas slip-ons or sneakers (for casual events) or rubber-soled driving mocs (if slightly dressier).
25.aug.2014 mail style
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L.B.M. 1911 F/W 2014 | Buy

Apropos of last week's post on unlined coats for fall and winter, the L.B.M. 1911 F/W lookbook demonstrates their mastery of this design, as minimally lined jackets in all varieties form the bulk of this very strong collection. Besides single and double-breasted blazers in patterns ranging from solids to borderline FU, the book also includes an equally unlined tan overcoat and an extremely comfy-looking fuzzy peacoat. Viewing the highlights here on Unrefinery is recommended as the Luigi Bianchi Mantova website loads at a glacial pace and attempting to navigate it is excruciating.
21.aug.2014 style
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Narendra Modi is killin' it.

The Wall Street Journal asks Is Modi India's Best-Dressed Prime Minister Ever? And without being qualified to answer the question, we will observe that the prime minister demonstrates that the principles of good design can be deployed to great success whether you wear suits and shirts or vests and kurtas. The article contains some great tidbits from his tailor about his choice of warm colours and use of Italian wool in traditional Indian clothes. A tweedy brown jacket that is well tailored looks great and works with a red pocket square no matter the type of collar or sartorial tradition that its form reflects.

All he really has left to do is work in some bleeding Madras. Show some love for Chennai, man.
18.aug.2014 style
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