Manolo for the Men Fashion and Lifestyle Advice for Men

February 25, 2008

Pre-Tied Bowties: Why Not Just Wear Sweatpants?

Filed under: Bad Fashion,Celebrity,Formal Wear,Men's Fashion,Ties — theMaterialist @ 2:37 pm

I think pre-tied regular ties (four-in-hands) are now only found on uniformed security guards, doormen, and other rental outfits. They seem to have correctly assumed the social stigma of a teenager wearing velcro shoes because he hasn’t figured out how to tie shoe laces. Are you a child?

It is indeed sad state of affairs, then, when the same knot used for your shoelaces cannot be successfully duplicated on the necks of dozens of grown men at an event known for its clothing and televised for millions of viewers.

Dear John Travolta, I ask you. I ask your stylists. I ask the designer who probably gave you that tuxedo. How did you decide on a pre-tied bowtie? And how did you decide on the most awful, symetrical, perfect, bowtie the world has ever seen?

For comparison, last year Peter O’Toole, a proper old fart, most certainly got it right.

Eexamsheets –
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Selftestengine –

February 7, 2008

Black and Blue

Filed under: Celebrity,Formal Wear,Shirts,Suits — Izzy @ 5:53 am

Clint Eastwood in blue shirt and tux

Like a colorblind Medusa, Clint Eastwood, in his blue shirt and black tuxedo, bruises the eyes of anyone who looks in his direction.  Even worse, his “formal” wear includes a bent collar.

January 3, 2008

Smooth Jazz

Filed under: Celebrity,Formal Wear,Suits — Izzy @ 5:35 am

Oscar Peterson in velvet smoking jacket

You don’t see many velvet smoking jackets in public, but jazz legend Oscar Peterson, who recently passed, used one to demonstrate his cool even away from the piano.

December 28, 2007


Filed under: Celebrity,Formal Wear — Izzy @ 6:45 am

Ferrian Adria in Spanish academic garb

On the far right Ferran Adria, the deservedly famous chef, receives an honorary degree from the University of Barcelona.

Izzy had never considered that European full academic garb might differ from country to country, but he was interested to see that Spaniards add bold color and odd cuffs to their black robes as well as have their own silly hats instead of mortarboards or four-cornered tams. Despite the apparent levity of such attire, Izzy thinks too many of us has forgotten that at one time only three professions were entitled to wear the gown: the judge, the priest, and the scholar.

November 23, 2007


Thanksgiving is here, which means that the collective madness known as holiday shopping has already begun. In no particular order, here are some gift ideas for inspiration. Of course, it’s the thought that counts, but some thoughts are more valuable and stylish than others.

Up first, some simple, classic Brooks Brothers ties.

Brooks Brothers bar stripe tieBrooks Brothers silk repp dot tie

On the formal bow tie front, there’s nothing blacker than velvet, which isn’t seen much nowadays.

Thomas Pink velvet bow tie

And for a change from the usual cufflinks, how about silk knots, which, unlike ordinary cufflinks, are never stuffy? They’re so inexpensive that you can collect them in every color. Also, they’re easy to put on, even if you don’t have a manservant.

Thomas Pink woven silk cuff knots

Another interesting alternative are these woven cufflinks from Thomas Pink, which have a delightful feel.

Thomas Pink woven cufflinks

Speaking of formal wear, it might be worth experimenting with these Frenchback boxers, which look like just the thing to wear under white tie and tails. They’re perhaps the only undergarments that deserve to be starched.

Brooks Brothers Frenchback boxer

Not exactly the tallest man in the world, Izzy, like Tom Cruise, is a sucker for dressy boots.

Peal & Co. Chelsea bootsPeal & Co. wingtip Chelsea boots

And as for boots that will keep your feet warm and dry on an Arctic expedition or merely a schlep to the mailbox, Sorel is one of the brands to count on. The company was founded in Canada, after all.
Sorel Mounty II boots

These are totally off-season, Izzy knows, but why where white bucks when you can wear white buck wingstips?

Peal & Co. white buck wingtips

For that special someone who thinks he has everything, surprise him with this Brooks Brothers sportcoat made from “Coarsehair,” a custom Loro Piana blend of cashmere and goat hair.

Brooks Brothers Coarsehair sportcoat

Happy hunting.

Another great gift idea is getting the latest 4g phones as a gift, where you can find some great discounts.

November 9, 2007

Pocket Protectors

Filed under: Formal Wear,Men's Fashion,Shirts,Tailoring — Izzy @ 3:43 pm

dress shirt pockets

According to journalist Harry Mount (a member of the British aristocracy who, while in college at Oxford, was reportedly pushed down a hill in a porta-potty by a Hungarian count), the snobs are winning in their crusade against pockets on dress shirts:

The news that sales of shirts with breast pockets have collapsed – from 90 per cent of all shirts sold a decade ago to 25 per cent today – doesn’t surprise me. The clothes snobs have been fighting them for years, and tragically – for a breast pocket fan like me – they’ve won.

As they do in all clothes snob battles, snobs appeal to style when they make their argument, but what they are really appealing to is snobbery – to the ancient cry of “I know this rule and you don’t; I’ve got it right and you haven’t.”

Tailors say a breast pocket destroys the line of the suit. Of course those 12 square inches of thin cotton pocket – far thinner than the line of buttons alongside them – don’t destroy the line, unless you put something in it.

But whether the pocket is full or empty is neither here nor there. The real point is that the pocket is useful and, in clothes snob world, usefulness is the enemy of grandness.

It is true that, for both men and women, the more functional the piece of clothing, the less formal it is. Think of how you cannot roll back the sleeves on a french-cuff shirt, or how the pockets on a (slimly cut) tuxedo jacket can barely fit anything beyond a money-clip. When it comes to breast pockets on shirts, the issue is to what extent you are willing to trade formality for functionality, a question that each gentleman must determine for himself. Also, it should be noted that it is far more common in Britain than in America for men to wear shirts without pockets, which is a reflection of the relative informality of American attire. While Izzy himself enjoys the smooth, clean appearance of pocket-less shirts, which he does prefer when getting all snazzed up, on a day-to-day basis he gets frustrated when he has no convenient place to stash an iPod or a corned-beef-on-rye.

But whatever the basis for your decision to favor shirt pockets or not, please ensure that it has a firm moral founding. Snobbery, after all, is the vice of making inequality hurt.

October 16, 2007

When Penguins Rule the Earth

Filed under: Formal Wear,Men's Fashion — Izzy @ 10:53 pm

New Yorker black tie Fridays

Izzy can dream, can’t he?

September 18, 2007

Ardor for Barbour

Filed under: Formal Wear,Men's Fashion,Outerwear,Shoes,Socks,Trousers — Izzy @ 9:45 am

Barbour Beaufort jacket

Jeremy Hackett, the man behind Hackett—a brand that, by copying and improving upon English classics, is in many ways the British equivalent of Ralph Lauren—waxes eloquent about the time he discovered the virtues of a Barbour jacket:

When I opened my first shop in London in 1983, I sold — as one magazine kindly put it — dead men’s clothes. Today they are known as vintage, and some items can fetch exorbitant prices. Once, on one of my frequent forays to Portobello Market, I chanced upon an ancient, patched-up Barbour jacket. I bought it and put it in the window, where it sold within minutes at a price not far from what it cost new. The attraction, I realized, was precisely that it was worn. In no time at all, no self-respecting Sloane Ranger would be seen without this distinctive olive green coat. Young army officers wore them as part of their mufti, teamed with straw-colored corduroys, suede shoes and red socks. Aspiring bankers adopted the Barbour, and it also became de rigueur over black tie. It was a way of airing your country pedigree, though you may have actually lived in a two-up, two-down in Fulham.

It spoke of damp dogs sleeping on tartan coat linings in the back of battered Land Rovers, of point-to-points and Badminton Horse Trials, all things dear to an Englishman. I recently retrieved my old Beaufort Barbour — with its oily texture, brown corduroy collar and brass zipper as strong as a railway line — from the attic, where it had lain neglected for nearly 20 years. Suddenly, I was filled with nostalgia for the countryside. So, despite not owning a large pile in the shires, I shall wear my shabby Barbour the next time I go shopping on Sloane Street — but I think I’ll leave my green wellies in the Land Rover.

August 30, 2007

Think Yiddish, Dress British

Filed under: Celebrity,Formal Wear,Gloves,Men's Fashion,Shirts,Suits,Ties — Izzy @ 3:26 pm

A long-time sufferer from Anglophilia, Izzy is in the midst of reading Ian Buruma’s tribute to that passion, Anglomania. The book contains this fascinating description of Theodore Herzl, the Austro-Hungarian founder of Zionism:

Herzl had always loved dressing up. He was a dandy, with the politics of a dandy. Here he is in a photograph of his Viennese student fraternity, looking more immaculate than his gentile friends: cap at a rakish tilt, coat buttoned up just so, ivory-toppedRobert de Montesquiou cane clasped under arm like a sword. There he is, in morning coat, gloves, cane, and top hat, looking remarkably like comte Robert de Montesquiou, the famous Parisian aesthete, in the portrait by Boldini [pictured at right]. And there we find him, waiting for an audience with the kaiser in the Palestinian desert, sweltering in black formal wear and white tie…And there, in Basel, at the first Zionist Congress in 1897, he is in top hat and tails greeting the delegates. He insisted that all delegates, many of them poor Jews from the east who had never worn such clothes in their lives, attend in white tie. That way, he said, they would appear, in their own as well as as they eyes of the world, as gentlemen of substance.

How ironic that Israeli politicians, in rejecting the jacket and tie and other niceties, became the least formal in the world.

Buruma also includes this tibdit:

Herzl’s Anglophilia as a young man, typically, was largely a matter of his taste in clothes. The playwright Arthur Schnitzler never forgot the devastating occasion when the young Herzl examined Schnitzler’s cravat with a look of distate and said: “And I had considered you a—Brummel!”

July 10, 2007

Rue de Savile

Filed under: Formal Wear,Men's Fashion,Suits,Tailoring — Izzy @ 8:45 pm

Edward Sexton

In a reverse of the Norman conquest, British tailoring has successfully invaded France.  The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the nefarious-sounding organization that legally controls what may be termed “haute couture” in France, together with Great British Bespoke, is putting on an exhibition showcasing the work of 12 Savile Row tailors.  According to the Daily Telegraph (whose website provides a video of the show):

the exhibition features original court regalia, military uniforms, morning suits and formal dress.

Designs by Ede & Ravenscroft (est.1689) include the late Duke of Norfolk’s court dress as Earl Marshall, while those by Henry Poole & Co, est. 1806, include state livery for George 111, uniforms for Napoleon 111 and the financier, J. Pierpoint Morgan’s court dress for Queen Victoria.

These contrast with the black sequined and white sequined evening suits made for Bryan Ferry’s 2006/2007 tour, by Richard Anderson, the bespoke black cocktail suit made for Pete Doherty, lead singer of Babyshambles, by Richard James in 2006, and the black-beaded peacock evening coat Huntsman tailored for the designer Alexander McQueen in 2002.

Nearby is the morning suit, controversially worn to Royal Ascot with a striped shirt and polka-dot bow-tie, by the then Prince of Wales, later Edward 111, in the 1920’s by Davies & Son, while a black and white portrait shows the American designer, Tom Ford, wearing his tailcoat made by Anderson & Sheppard in 2005.

For those who can’t make it to Paris, the exhibition will eventually make its way to London and Tokyo.

June 29, 2007

Untimely Tux

Nick Cannon in tux

With the gape in his shirt collar, the 1970s-sized bowtie, and industrial-sized watch, musician Nick Cannon is ready for the prom, not an awards show. 

Although few still follow it, there is a hoary rule that a gentleman never wears a watch with formal wear—after all, on those occasions he would never need to take notice of the time.

June 22, 2007

Patently Proper

Filed under: Formal Wear,Men's Fashion,Shoes — Izzy @ 5:00 pm

Brooks Brothers patent lace-up shoes

When it comes to formal wear, the only truly acceptable shoes are opera pumps (for your inner Louis XIV) and patent leather lace-ups.  Made in England, the glossy pair above is now on sale at Brooks Brothers.


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