Monday, May 25, 2009

Get Chinoed: Wearking Khakis Without Looking Like An Old Man

Thought khakis were about as cool as tapered leg jeans? You couldn’t be more wrong — as long as you’ve got the right fit and style, khakis are a rugged and casual alternative for the weekend as well as the workplace. Ditch the pleats: get chinoed.

Chinos (also known as Khakis) are the next best thing to denim. The comfort one feels when wearing a worn out pair is like wearing a pair of flannel pajamas. It's that soft! And yet most men find it difficult to pull off a pair of chinos. I coined the term "Chinoed" a few years ago. It means "to carry a sophisticated, effortless look using one chino element in your wardrobe". To accomplish that, here are some tips to make chinos work for you.

Chino Jackets and Coats

Don’t be mistaken, however, chino isn’t limited to pants alone. It makes for some really cool jackets as well. What does it go with? Black, Navy, Gray or White Denim. Because chinos tend to be in lighter, earthier colors, their beauty comes out when mixed with contrasting colored pieces and fabrics. Dark denim, chino blazer and crisp dress shirt is a sure fire look for an evening out on the town. Gray denim, v-neck tee, a khaki trench coat and a spotless pair of white sneaks makes a great look for Sunday brunch.

J. Crew Baracuta Jacket $275

It’s okay if your jacket is a bit wrinkly. Unlike linen, chinos are made from cotton twill which makes them a bit more wrinkle resistant. A few crinkles on the sleeve or back are okay. But try to have a pressed finished upfront, and by the lapels of the jacket. This is what people see first. And you know how much first impressions count.

J.Crew Sutherland Trench Coat $198

Slanted pockets give a cleaner, slimmer look to your torso. If you’re going for the more common two flap hip pockets, make sure that the pockets are not wider than the palm of your hand. Anything bigger will give you an oversized silhouette. You can fold the flaps into the pocket for a more European look.

Chino Trousers and Shorts

Back in the day, khaki trousers were associated with being geeky, socially inept and backdated. Today, chino trousers and shorts in various shades of khaki can be sexy, manly and contemporary if worn properly. Chinos can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion or the corporate culture you’re in. Either way, you have a flexible alternative to denim. And like your denim jeans, its fit first, style second.

Ditch the pleats. Unless you have an inferiority complex about what’s in your pants, there’s no need for pleats. Pleated pants create a pouch where you don’t need one. Keep it slim with a flat front trouser. This also applies to shorts.

Banana Republic Sahara Khaki Straight Gavin Chino $49.50

Slim vs Straight cut. Note that I did not mention Relaxed as on option for fit. Most relaxed fit trousers are cut in a way where the top half is slightly looser than the bottom half. Relaxed trousers are usually tailored in from the knee down. For a more modern look, opt for a low rise, slim leg trouser. For a more conventional look, stick with a classic rise, straight leg. For shorts, the relaxed cut is great for walks on the beach or the Promenade. But for more formal summer events, a slimmer cut short works best

Dirty English Cotton Twill Pants with Suspenders $128.00

Like other trousers, chinos come with four pockets, two upfront and two in the back. The two upfront are critical style points. The more modern man will go for the slant front pockets. It gives them a leaner, contemporary look. Others will go the side seam pocket which you find on most trousers out there. This is still a clean option, but less of a slimmer look than the slant front.

Regardless of your chino item of choice, make sure that you balance your outfit with a pop of color or pattern. Chino on chino is bland and lacks pizzazz. Chino with checks, pinstripe, and coral blue, emerald green or sunshine yellow are just a few mix and match options you can try. And the next time you see a guy wearing chinos with style, regardless if its jacket or a trouser, walk up to him and say "You’re chinoed. Nice work!".

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fireball Fedora: A Must Have for the Spring/Summer

Fedoras have made a strong comeback over the last couple of years. First worn in the 1920s to the mid 1960s, its return can be attributed to pop icon Justin Timberlake. Since then, men and women alike use the fedora to smarten up and "sexyfy" any outfit. In the colder seasons, fedoras are made from felt or wool. In the warmer months, fedoras are constructed in cloth, straw or paper. Hats in general make a great accessory. And in the summer months, they also serve as a shade from those harmful UV rays.

What makes a good Fedora? Construction is the first thing to look at. Is it stitched well? Does it go back to it original shape when crushed? If you tend to travel lots, chances are your fedora will be crushed either in your duffle or in between seats. The next thing to look at is fit. How comfortable is the inner band? Like a helmet, it should be comfortably snug. Your hat should also sit slightly above your ear. Color or pattern is also something to be considered. Hats are the closest accessory to your face next to eye wear. Make sure the color/pattern you pick looks good on you.

One of my favorites this season is the Fireball Fedora by eco-fashion pioneer LiVity Outernational. I have a few fedoras in my closet from other brands. What sets this fedora apart from the others I own is quality of construction but more importantly what the brand stands for. The Fireball Fedora's exterior is made from Raffia Straw that is sourced from a cooperative in Eastern Africa. Raffia Straw is the first memory retentive material that is available today. This becomes helpful especially when your fedora is crushed accidentally; it goes back to its original shape. The straw is tightly woven together suggesting that this hat will definitely last you a few seasons. There is also a soft woven twill band on the head and brim, giving the hat a solid structure and shape.

The interior band of the hat is made from hemp and organic cotton. It easily absorbs sweat during those hot summer days. It also feels better on your forehead compared to polyester bands that other companies use for their fedoras. Detailing on this fedora is simple and clean. Given that the hat already has a woven-in pattern, Livity has strategically used their Spirit symbol in finishing a clean and sophisticated fedora. Like any other products from LiVity, there is no overt symbol or logo.

In today's tough economic times, its hard to promote sustainability and eco-consciousnes when the alternatives costs less and are more profitable. LiVity Outernational is much more than a brand. Livity is Jamaican for a free, healthy living. Outernational is a view of the world with no no political or cultural boundaries. Together, the company stands for free and healthy living for global peoples. Using natural, renewable and recycled materials, LiVity has been putting out fresh designs for hats, bag and accessories since 2001. Great product + Great philosophy = Great Brand and Eco-Fashion Icon status.

Available online at LiVity Outernational.
For more information, you can also send an email

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yo Momma! A Tribute to Our Moms and The Lessons They've Taught Us

Have you called your mom yet? It’s Mother’s Day, and just because you’re a man’s man doesn’t mean it’s not ok to be a momma’s boy.

“My Momma always said: Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Fourteen years after Forrest Gump came out, this lesson still applies and will continue to in the years to come. As men, we can’t help but to be close to our mothers. Mothers are the fabric of families. Although fathers play an integral role in a child’s development, mothers take the brunt of the child rearing responsibilities. So much so that if a stay-at-home mom was paid in the business world for their household activities, they would make about $122,732, according to a study published this month. But moms don’t do it for financial reasons. They do it because they want to ensure that their children grow up to be responsible, useful and respectful citizens of society.

As men, we can’t help but be close to our mothers. It’s natural. For the ones who have not established a relationship with their mothers, I’m almost certain that we yearn for that motherly bond. However, for us who have strong maternal relationships, we have to deal with the stigma around this special connection we have with our mothers. The term “Momma’s Boy” comes to mind. Most times described as a man who is excessively attached to their mother, these same men are also the most successful, responsible, caring, sensitive, dateable, guys ladies will find out there. Fathers will always have a special role as they turn their sons into men. However, it’s Mothers that mold their sons to be gentlemen.

The problem is when guys have not transitioned their relationships with their mom’s from youth to adult. When you’re 30 and you’re still living at home, with your mom doing everything for you, that’s an issue. When you have to ask permission from your mom for everything you do or go to, then there’s a problem. When your mom takes precedence over your girlfriend or wife, then you may as well be single for the rest of your life. It’s okay to be close to our mothers. But learn to establish boundaries so as not alienate other people in your life, and lose out on development opportunities when you think for yourself.

A lot of my success I owe to my relationship with her. Growing up, I learned a lot from my mom. In her honor and of mothers everywhere, the following are life lessons from my mom that I use to this very day. Some may sound very basic, but those are the ones we usually tend to forget.
  1. Be TRUE to yourself. Society will always want you to be someone else than who you are right now. Stick to your guns. Be proud of what you’ve become at this moment.
  2. Honesty is the best policy. You will be remembered by your integrity, not by your wealth or the clothes you wear. Your word is worth a lot more than you think.
  3. Your wife/girlfriend is someone else’s sister, so treat them right. Treat them like you would treat your mother, with utmost respect, care and love.
  4. On personal style, always look your best as you never who you’re going to meet. First impressions last the longest.
  5. On finances, save for a rainy day. Life isn’t always a bed of roses. Be ready for the tough times.
  6. Laughter is the best medicine. Learn to laugh at yourself first.
  7. Have a sense of faith. In the military they say, everyone is going to call for a god’s help at some point during a war. Why wait for a war, have a strong spiritual foundation now.
  8. On work and career, always give it your best. There’s no room for mediocrity in this world.
  9. Every action has a consequence. Be responsible for what you say and do.
  10. Live your life to the fullest. You only live once.

This Sunday, take your mom out to a nice brunch or give her flowers. Wear your Momma’s Boy badge with pride. And remember, that without our mothers there is no you and me. To my mom and all moms, Happy Mother’s Day!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Style tips from my Momma

Mothers Day is coming up. So I thought I'd pay a quick tribute to Mom's everywhere. Most stylish men picked up their style sense from their Moms. Its Mom that picked our clothes when we were young. Its the wives that pick clothes for their husbands. Its the moms that dress the dads. The women in our lives have played a very special role in how we dress up. I thought I'd share some style tips I picked up from my mom growing up that I still use today.

1) Dark socks go with dark trousers. Do not wear white socks with black pants.
2) Always look distinguished. You never know who you're going to meet
3) Dress shoes are to be worn only for special events. And running shoes are just for running.
4) Always wear a pressed shirt. Don't look like you just came out of the dryer.
5) Shave. Moisturize.
6) Never wear too much cologne. Ladies don't like it.
7) Don't let the clothes wear you. Wear them with confidence.
8) Colored top. Neutral bottom. Basics of wardrobe coordination.
9) Its not about how much your shirt cost. Its how it fits you and how you carry yourself.
10) Be unique in what you wear. Don't look like everyone else.

Thanks, Mom. Happy Mother's Day to all mothers.

Keep looking good!