Ah, the GQ and Esquire special issues. These things show up on the newsstands every year. (Or maybe it's a couple of times a year. Who gives a wet slap?) On the surface they look like fundamentally the same idea—both are around $10, and both have the words "style manual" somewhere on the cover. But the books are pretty different in focus. The GQ Style Manual is largely recycled photo shoots from the past year's monthlies, assembled in a graphically clean format to demonstrate key concepts about clothing, accessories, and care. As such it does a pretty good job; the primer on suits is worth the price alone and offers the beginner everything he needs to know about fit, tailoring and materials. The Fall Esquire Big Black Book is rather less practical; with its lush photography and focus on aspirational brands it comes across more as luxury porn (how many of us really need a $4,000 duffel bag or a $20,000 watch?) The articles look like the advertisements, and frankly the lines between them seem pretty blurred regardless—we can't imagine that anyone who reads Esquire really needs to be told about the Rolex Submariner. Interesting and meticulously researched article in the back about wool, covering everything from its science to usage to care. If you buy one, get the GQ Style Manual. Then you won't even need to subscribe to the magazine.

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