Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall-Winter 2009: A mix of colors,function,sexiness and style.

The themes for this season's collections are sophistication and sexiness, tailored yet sporty, and lastly protected from the elements. And from a guy's perspective what else could be better than having a bit of each in your wardrobe. This Fall-Winter, the runways of New York, Milan and Paris were loaded with pieces that would excite any stylish man. From bold colors like prison orange, accessories like oversized scarves, tailored metallic suits to "modern day mad max" looks, Men's Fall Winter 09 has got to be one of the more exciting fashion seasons we've had in long while.

The Top Trends for this season are:

Color. The range of colors for guys this season is quite wide. Designers like Duckie Brown have infused their line palettes with Prison Orange. Where other designers like Lacoste have gone with more of a muted color scheme in Sandy Beige, Ash Gray, and Cocoa Brown.

Prison Orange Coat from Duckie Brown

Image by Dan Lecca for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, FW 2009, NYC.

Going Oversized. A lot of the pieces this season were cut a bit bigger than previous seasons where coats, trousers and even scarves were more tailored. The tailored look is still here to stay, but is being complemented by oversized pieces like scarves, trench coats and men's bags. Designers like Iceberg, Prosum, Duckie Brown, Louis Vouitton and Gianfranco Ferre donned their models with oversized scarves that well complemented their tailored pieces.

Oversized Scarf from Iceberg

Image by Marcio Madeira

Power Suits. Strikingly sexy. Tailored to fit your anatomy. Detailed construction. These types of suits (either full or suit separates) will be a mainstay this season. ZZegna, Calvin Klein, and Jill Sander presented a collection of not only tailored suits, but bright colored and metallic suits as well. Some designers have also brought back the double breasted but this time with a twist. Double breasted jackets this time around have a sleek silouhette, much tailored fit and distinct details.

Metallic Suit from Calvin Klein

Image by Dan Lecca for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, FW 2009, NYC.

The Long and Short of It. How do you mix an extra long tank with a motorcycle jacket? How do you bring back acid wash jeans and combine it with a distressed coat? Labels like William Rast, Rag and Bone, Dior Homme how it can be done. Their collections this season incorporate extra long t-shirts with leather jackets, anorak jackets, winter coats and vests. William Rast also brought back the acid wash jean to go with the Long-Short look communicating a modern day mad max sense of style for today's man.

Long Dress Shirt underneath a Tailored 2-button Blazer, William Rast Fall Winter 2009

Image by Kris Krug of Static Photography.

There's a lot to look forward to this Fall-Winter. As always, keep trends in perspective, strive for a balanced look and know who you are and what looks good on you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Smart VS Business Casual: Which one is right for YOU?

As the culture in corporate America changes so do the dress codes of its members. Although suits are making a comeback, majority of today's workforce lean towards the business casual attire in the workplace. However, depending on industry and personal style, the definition of business casual becomes very hazy. So much so, that it begins to tarnish not only the professional image of the individual but also that of the company they work for.

In industries such as technology, business casual can range from a pair of chino pants, an oxford shirt, and lace up leather shoes to a pair of khaki cargo shorts, a ring tee and sneakers. Because of the wide "in between" some companies have started implementing dress codes to present a consistent corporate brand, but also to maintain a level of consistency in what people wear in the workplace. As they do this, two terms that are most times interchanged are smart casual and business casual. The looming questions are "So what is the difference?" , "Can either of them be worn at my place of work?", "What do I need to create either looks?" Read on to answer those questions., a premier online job search engine, defines business casual as "dressing professionally, looking relaxed yet neat and pulled together". The key words here are professional, neat, and pulled together. Good judgment will tell you that shorts, a tee, and runners don't associate with any of these adjectives. Generally speaking, if you are working in a business casual environment some of the more accepted combinations are

  • Dress shirt, dress cotton/wool trousers, dress or casual belt, loafers or laceup leather wingtips
  • Polo shirt, a pair of flat front chinos, dress/casual belt, slip on leather shoes.
  • V-neck sweater, white round neck under shirt, straight leg jean cut trousers, laceup leather dress boots.

Business Casual looks from Banana Republic. All pieces are available on

"But I got an invite to go to a work event tonight, and the dress code is SMART CASUAL. What's that? Can I wear that to work as well?" The elements that separate the business casual from the smart casual attire are usually the shoes and the blazer/jacket that one wears. I would define smart casual simply as "looking professional yet informal". The relaxed look of business casual can easily be amplified to smart casual with a fitted blazer. For a more modern twist, roll up your sleeves and put on a suit vest to create a very chic, professional, creative and comfortable look.

Smart Casual at work is widely accepted now days as we see workforces catering to a younger generation. Denim is being seen in more offices than it was even 5 years ago. Suit separates are becoming more prominent in designer lines, primarily to cater to the smart casual crowd. So yes, it can definitely be worn at work and after work. The key is to create a look that balances professionalism and social adeptness. Some smart casual looks that also work in a professional environment are

  • Fitted suit blazer, Slim-cut Dress Shirt, Denim Jeans (no rips please), Dress belt, Suede lace up shoes.
  • Military inspired jacket, Silk-Cashmere Turtle Neck, Light colored Denim Jeans, Casual belt, Leather Wingtips.
  • Tweed Jacket, Colored Polo Shirt, Gray Chinos, Rope Leather belt, Loafers

Smart Casual looks from JCREW. All pieces currently available on

There are 5 key pieces to have in your wardrobe to allow for easy transition between the two attire categories.

  • A fitted blazer in Navy or Black: These colors tend to work with any ensemble. If you dare, add a bit of pinstripe or herringbone to your wardrobe.
  • A slim-fitting dress shirt: Dress shirts can easily be made to look casual with rolled up sleeves.
  • A pair of straight/boot leg denim jeans without any excessive detailing: Remember that you are in a professional setting, so excessive stitching on pockets, rivets all over the place, rips and baggy cut jeans are just not cool.
  • A pair of well pressed, flat front chinos: Chinos are a great alternative to jeans. They can be easily dressed down or dressed up.
  • Leather Lace Ups: A boot or a dress shoe works well in both professional and social gatherings.

Remember that you are your own brand. So what you wear to work and events outside of work tells your story to others. Understanding the subtle differences between smart and business casual could be the winning factor for getting a job or landing a hot date. Words of advice: Know your work/social environment. Understand your personal style. Use good judgment.