The Latest: Friday 22 May 2015

Brown and Light Blue

If navy and white is be the most obvious spring/summer colour combination, brown and light blue might be the most unexpected. Typically thought of as the most autumnal colour, brown's inherent warmness is played up when paired with cool sky blue. A classically American combination when brown is the predominant partner, when switched around it also seems to work fine on the Scot shown here.
18.may.2015 style
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Cheap Summer Suits For The Kids

Brands like Suitsupply and Benjamin Sartorial have done a tremendous service in bringing affordable quality suits down to the $600 range, but we'll acknowledge that to a young person who needs more than one—or who wants to wear a suit casually—the dreaded sub-$400 market might get a look. In the past the usual pitfalls with buying cheap suits from fast-fashion brands were:
  • Fused-to-sh*t construction
  • Lapels of skinny, unsatisfying girth
  • Polyester blends (shudder)
The first issue is greatly mitigated for summer suits, which tend to be minimally structured and will suffer a lot less from having sub-par layers in the upper jacket. The latter two are addressed by new seasonal offerings from Zara and Mango, featuring nicely proportioned lapels and synthetic-free warm-weather blends. All of them work as separates too, increasing their utility. That said, these are still younger man's suits with their lower-rise trousers and generally slim silhouettes throughout.

Zara Indigo Birdseye Double-Breasted Suit [$300] — 80% wool, 20% linen. Up close the texture reads as a sort of slubby birdseye.

Zidane for Mango Florida Suit [$130] — 52% cotton, 48% linen. Available in navy and khaki. The shortest jacket length of the bunch but also the nicest lapel and shoulder cut. Unbeatable price; if it fits you, get both colours.

Mango Cotton Poplin Suit [$240] — 100% cotton. Partially lined, in a beautiful lighter blue. Something resembling pick stitching on the lapels and pocket flaps for junior sartorialist street cred.
11.may.2015 style
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Everything Karl Lagerfeld Hates

Complex Magazine's Four Pins website did the meticulous media research necessary and produced A Comprehensive List Of Everything Karl Lagerfeld Hates. And far be it for us to extend charity towards the man who designed those f*cking Chanel purses, but he makes a lot of good points. Selfies, children, telephones, being touched by strangers... these things all pretty much suck. Filthy-rich do-gooders. Sweatpants. When he's right he's right.
30.apr.2015 culture style
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Vintage Electric Cruz

Digging the art-deco styling and nice details of the Vintage Electric Cruz e-bike, which include an aluminum battery box and alder wood panels on the "tank". The battery is good for a range of 30 miles and the motor will do up to 20mph in "street legal" mode, but let's be realistic, the "race" mode is where most of us would say as the top speed of 36mph is a lot safer for urban traffic avoidance.

The bikes start at $5,000, which stings less if you compare them not to conventional bicycles but to something like a Vespa scooter, which is more like $7,000 and weighs over 300 pounds. The Cruz is about 78 pounds, which means the urban apartment dweller might get it up and down a few (a FEW) stairs without too much difficulty.
27.apr.2015 design tech
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In praise of olive

Underrated and underutilized colour, that olive. In its greyish variations it's wonderfully neutral, working particularly well with pale blues and whites and khaki but equally home with black. When more saturated it has the ability to warm up the military-inspired pieces on which it is most frequently found. Shown left: the almost annoyingly stylish Davidson Petit-Frere. Right: cotton field coat from LL Bean [$159].
20.apr.2015 style
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Angelo Nardelli S/S 2015 | Buy

Nardelli is one of those Italian-as-a-mofo brands well known to shoppers of Yoox and the late great Daffy's for their affordable unstructured / soft-shouldered classic jackets. Thanks to the US Dollar's strength against the Euro, the brand's offerings are now available directly in the reasonable $450-$620 range without having to wait for any sort of picked-over odd-sizes end-of-season sale.

Nardelli's Spring/Summer 2015 Collection includes all the essential solids and spring plaids you want in warm-weather materials like linen/silk blends and stretch cotton. Button points are a little higher than you might be used to, which generally works fine for all of us open-collar enthusiasts but makes their double-breasted models a little awkward. The lightweight scarves, in a variety of cotton, linen and silk blends, look great and are all under $100.

And of course there's their famous Connemara Jacket [$620] which goes beyond the concept of a travel jacket and aspires to become a piece of foul-weather survival equipment with a variety of interior pockets and an included goofy rain hat concealed beneath its anti-creasing, stain-resistant, waterproof, designed-to-be-folded-up shell of treated wool. The old saying is that a navy blazer goes with everything. In this case everything might include a monsoon.
13.apr.2015 style
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Lands' End for Spring /Summer 2015: Buy Low, Take to Tailor | Buy

Some time ago Lands' End reabsorbed their Canvas sub-brand into their main body of product, but its spirit lives on most visibly in their warm-weather offerings. The main difference is regrettably the fit; those trimmer silhouettes largely didn't survive the transition and the average casual shirt seems cut to appeal to an older demographic. Fortunately there's a lot of nice stuff here at a price low enough that there's still good value to be had even after the necessary trip to the tailor. A few picks and how to make them work:

Linen Print Shirts in Short [$34] and Long Sleeves [$39] — The white medallion print and the blue multi gingham are particularly tasteful. Expect to possibly size down, then have the torso and sleeves slimmed.

Lighthouse Chino Shorts [$40] — It took LE a long time to migrate from their traditional 9" and 10" inseams to a mode modern 6". These might actually fit well without alterations. The ivory and sisal colours look great.

Straight Fit Chino Pants [$49] — Pale Slate in particular is the soft light blue we've all been waiting for. Lands' End actually makes these in a slim fit, but frankly their interpretation of that is a little weird, with a full abdomen and a leg that goes oddly skinny in mid-thigh. Better to get the straight fit version and then have the legs slimmed to your personal preference.

06.apr.2015 style
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White Trousers For Every Season

Don't know about where you live, but around Unrefinery HQ there don't seem to be defined seasons anymore. Everyone has their winter and summer wardrobes out at the same time, overflowing dressers and closets and guestroom beds.

Regardless of temperature or occasion there's always a way to utilize the highly wearable ultimate neutral that is the white pant. Here's a handy guide to choosing the right material. As always with white pants, make no compromise on opacity—the thin Bemberg lining on the Luxire trousers shown here serves the dual purpose of hiding your undergarments and adding a cooling buffer between your skin and the heavy cotton twill shell.

As for colour, generally brighter whites are more suitable for summer and ivories and creams look more appropriate in winter. Which it now seems may run from September to May. Hmmph.
30.mar.2015 style
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Men's Style Magazines: An Industry Compromised

Here's the thing about last month's infamous Esquire/Michael Kors incident: For all their faults, one thing you can't say about the likes of Esquire is that their editorial staff lacks some fundamental understanding of men's style. They know that nobody should buy $300 Michael Kors pleated khakis. The decision to feature them can therefore only be an economic one.

And there's the problem with the business model of men's style magazines in general. The need to remain cozy with deep-pocketed advertisers means not only making the sorts of dubious recommendations that throw the credibility of the entire publication into question, but it also means missing out on some of the most important things happening in the industry. There is no one thing more exciting in the world of menswear right now than the rise of affordable online bespoke clothing, offering men the opportunity to have completely custom, original, perfectly fit garments made from whatever materials you or they can source. At no point in history have we had such options open to us. But as full-page advertisements in international magazines are beyond the budget of the likes of Luxire, Hemrajani Bros, etc., we'll rarely hear about them in their pages. Instead we'll get Kenneth Cole's square-toed loafers and Louis Vuitton's logo-covered vulgarities. And $300 Michael Kors pleated khakis.

Without being privy to the inner budgetary workings of men's magazines, of course it's possible only to speculate on a solution. But looking through the pages of Esquire and GQ it's clear that in each case the loss of a few advertisers from among a broad and varied current base wouldn't sink the enterprise. Maybe the answer is to accept lower revenue as a tradeoff for editorial independence and the credibility that it would bring. A trade-off that might not seem too appealing now, but if an increasingly savvy readership realizes that the best options for dressing well never make it into the magazine, perhaps the resulting impact on circulation will make its necessity clear.

23.mar.2015 culture meta style
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Curved TV screens and the legacy of Dave's Grandfather

Unrefinery's technology expert is a man named Dave, whose childhood enthusiasm was clearly kindled by his grandfather. "Someday," he'd tell Dave, "we'll have TVs so flat you can hang them on the wall like a picture."

Dave's Grandfather died back in the 1980s, so alas he never saw flat screen television come to dominate the market, but maybe he'd be glad that he isn't around to see his vision sullied by the Solution Without A Problem that is the curved screen TV. After all the effort we spent drilling holes in walls, installing the most low-profile mounts we could find and even tucking these things into recesses in order to make them protrude as little as possible, now they want us to buy TVs that jut out on both sides. Dave's Grandfather didn't die for this sh*t.

If you go to the store now you'll see curved sound bars to go with your new curved TV. Sure, by all means, let's just f*cking start over.
19.mar.2015 tech
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