Unrefinery

The Latest: Wednesday 16 April 2014

Michael Bastian polos for Uniqlo 2014

The word "washed" in retail is fraught with peril. Much as "heritage" probably means wrinkled and/or distressed, "washed" is generally a euphemism for "cheap-feeling" and/or "faded". In the case of Michael Bastian's new set of polos for Uniqlo, the $23 price point might make the t-shirt-esque casualness of the chosen cotton jersey forgivable. Overall the collection is quite a bit weaker than last year's superb collaboration but the second batch, which arrived Monday, includes some great bold stripes and a welcome continuation of the johnny collar experiment that worked so well in 2013.
16.apr.2014 style
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Slow down there, Chairman

Not saying the Canadian Club guy has a problem, but doesn't that seem like a hell of a lot of whiskey he's drinking? You know, you can always use a smaller glass and then pour more later. You don't have to super-size that s**t.
14.apr.2014 culture
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Ukrainian Parliament Brawl II: Electric Boogaloo

It's been four years since the last big Ukrainian parliament dust-up, and without going into the details of what was apparently an old-school commies vs. fascists brawl, the Noel Gallagher-looking motherf**ker in the light blue jacket and navy trousers is clearly winning it. Here's how:
  • Simple, classic choice of tonal colour and white shirt exudes a confidence that strikes fear into hesitant enemy combatants.
  • Suede elbow patches offer welcome added protection.
  • NO NECKTIE. Stride boldly into battle without fear of strangulation.
His only real misstep was wearing a jacket without sufficiently high armholes, thereby limiting his comfortable range of motion when wading in and throwing hands. Something to work on for 2018.
11.apr.2014 culture style
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Melaaaaaange | Buy

Most summer climates aren't immune to the occasional cool morning, chilly evening or breezy oceanside afternoon, which is where casual lightweight sweaters come in. The benefits of melange sweaters are many: the visually interesting texture is probably all the pattern your outfit needs; classic combinations of neutral colours go with just about anything; and the irregular knit makes these things easy to wear—if they get stretched out, snagged or pulled, nobody will even notice. In fact they might look even better that way. Adds some character and sprezz. Left: Suitsupply linen v-neck [$129]. Right: H&M organic cotton boatneck [$30].
09.apr.2014 style
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Sophisticated Colour Deployment

When a designer refers to a "sophisticated colour" it probably refers not to a colour used in a sophisticated context, which let's face it is probably going to be black, but to the composition of the colour itself. And as a general rule, a sophisticated colour can be identified by a few related methods:
  • On a colour wheel it'd be found far away from the outer ring of primary or even clear-cut secondary or tertiary colours.
  • If you were mixing it up from red, green and blue in Photoshop's picker, you'd use non-trivial amounts of all three.
  • You probably don't have an obvious name for it.
Sophisticated colours aren't necessarily light in shade and desaturated, although those are the easiest to work with as you can mix them more or less with impunity and then add any strong saturated colour of your choice. This is the basis of everyone's favourite fallback summer palette of All Kinds Of Tan plus navy. The eye is surprisingly sensitive to subtle differences in pale, light colours, which is why you can go to a paint store and find literally hundreds of variants of eggshell, swan, cream, ecru, ivory, and off-white, none of which—incredibly—will look good on your wall.

British retailer Reiss (shown) should win some sort of lifetime achievement award for this concept, and even they will get amusingly tripped up on nomenclature. You'll see some sort of pale pinkish tan offered as "deer" and a kind of greyish olive as "petrol" but they also have no shortage of situations where someone threw up their hands and went "f**k it, we're calling it grey". Which it usually isn't, but we'll opt for a general idea over decoding the unduly creative license of a marketing type with a thesaurus any day.
04.apr.2014 style
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Neutral alternatives to white sneakers | Buy

You mess with streetwear staples at your own peril, but if we're all honest with ourselves, the reasons we almost never wear white dress shoes all really apply to white sneakers as well: too much contrast with the rest of your outfit, too bright, and frankly a bit lazy. There are plenty of nice neutral coloured low-tops in suede and canvas that will still provide an utterly casual option that works with denim or your favourite battered khakis. Left to right: Kent Wang [$125], Vans Authentic [$55], Generic Surplus [$84] in two colours.
31.mar.2014 style
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Buying Tom Ford online

Running a top-tier luxury label means operating at a rarified intersection of exclusivity, pricing, and—unless you're part of the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy juggernaut—quality of materials and worksmanship. It's the exclusivity part, intertwined of course with pricing, that most labels are hesitant to ease their grip on. For years, Tom (we're totally on a monosyllabic basis with the man around here) allowed only fragrances and eyewear to be sold online. In late 2012 Neiman Marcus won the rights to expand this to shoes and leather goods, and now the man's own online store has expanded the brand's click-to-buy offerings ever so slightly into belts and jewelry—as well as a much wider selection of shoes and bags than previously seen. Still no clothing; maybe we'll get socks before Christmas. Still largely the stuff of daydreams.
26.mar.2014 style
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Affordable linen blazers | Buy

On the surface the purchase of a linen jacket probably doesn't seem to pass a cost-to-benefit analysis. The relaxed, wrinkle-prone material is too casual to wear to work, and unless you live in a perpetually warm environment you can probably only wear it 3 or 4 months out of the year. The way to tilt the formula back towards practicality is to pick a neutral, versatile colour and to not spend a lot on the item in the first place. You'll find it useful on cool mornings and as a go-to layer for evening events. Three affordable options from left to right: Uniqlo cotton/linen blend in light blue micro check [$70]. L.L.Bean Signature cotton/linen blend in tan [$179]. Suitsupply 100% linen in medium brown [$399].
24.mar.2014 style
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A word on Cadillac's Celebration of Douchebaggery | Fail

The public discourse on Cadillac's now-infamous ELR commercial is largely focused on its celebration of Reagan-era-esque douchebaggery, cultural tone-deafness and the hypocrisy of a car company that was bailed out by public funds saying "Other countries don't work so hard" to justify its apparent earned privilege. All valid points, but largely overlooked is the lesson that money can't buy style. Being an epic profit-seeker might get you the suit. It won't teach you that it doesn't fit you very well. And even a working-class person from the countries you apparently look down on knows that you don't use the bottom button on your jacket, you smarmy prick.
19.mar.2014 culture style
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Dress Respectfully

On the left is former NTSB investigator Greg Feith wearing one of his trademark clown ties as he discusses the loss of a Malaysia Airlines flight with 251 people on board. On the right is Don Cherry being Don Cherry while relaying the death of 20-year-old hockey player Terry Trafford.

What you wear matters, and from time to time the gravity of a moment dictates forgoing some element of your personal style in favour of showing the proper respect for the occasion or subject matter. Maybe this time, guys, it isn't about you.
17.mar.2014 culture style
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