Editor’s Top 5: October 24, 2012

Posted on October 24, 2012, 4:35 pm
10 mins

Sarah seeks her inspiration from the true style influencers—artists, bohemians, rock-n-rollers, mystics, and intellectuals. Sharing her 5 favorites of the day that can be found around the Seattle community, our editor brings to readers a handsome polo shirt, an old world fragrance, APC denim with gravitas, The Daily Details Blog, and a sexy key chain.

Styling male clients is one of the my favorite things. There’s an overtly aggressive aspect to male social power that plays out so much more directly and with less need for nuance than that of a female. Men do not apologize for knowing who they are, for knowing their tastes, their minds, their gifts. In fact, it’s bad news for a guy if he doesn’t have these traits all sorted out. For women, being self possessed and stylish can be a burden as much as a tool of empowerment. I have to coach women in a different way when I work with them, often warning them of how their families, coworkers and friends will react to their improvements. Men will more than likely, get positive reactions and reinforcement all around. Living with my husband, I see firsthand which items of a man’s wardrobe function practically. I also see that integrating the right elements of style creates a balanced, well-rounded “tool kit” in the arenas where social intelligence is required. The simplicity of the roles that men play make the basics of a solid wardrobe straightforward. Given that most men have a work life, a social life, and a family life there are some items that are so basic that they will become major assets. Even guys who don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about how they look can be greatly supported with some commonsense, go-to staples.

The Billy Reid Pensacola Polo is available at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus in an array of colors.

This spring I bought my husband the Billy Reid Pensacola Polo in several colors. I figured he could wear it with or without a jacket, with trousers, jeans or shorts. It’s no higher maintenance than a t-shirt but serves in every setting, from work, to play, to date night, to church on Sunday. It’s a modern cut, so there’s none of that awful ’90s blousing. The contrast stitching adds a mod hipness that reminds me of a W Magazine photo shoot I loved depicting a mid-century family with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. When I bought the shirts, I figured they would be a year-round item. Sure enough, it’s the shirt that keeps on giving. My husband loves that he never has to think too hard about what to wear when he wants to throw something on, but still wants to look as if being handsome and stylish is an afterthought.

There are so many fly-by-night fragrance companies out there, often appealing to the worst consumer habits. No guy wants to come off douchey or childish, and wearing the wrong fragrance can be like committing social suicide with people of character. It’s better to not wear a fragrance at all than to wear Axe, or something trendy “designed” by some pop star.

Eau de Vetyver from L’Occitaine

There are some foolproof ways around such a faux pas for those who don’t know where to start—simply do some research. My advice is always to go with products with history and substance. With that said, there is nothing more dizzying and lovely than a man who uses Vetyver body wash or fragrance. Conjuring up those intimate moments with the earthy scent emerging from underneath a shirt—or better yet, a blanket—gives me a heavenly physical reaction. I know there are men who still don’t fully grasp the overwhelming allure that a certain scent can manifest, but trust me…this one is old world magic at its best.

APC Petit Standard in Black Raw Denim available at the flagship Nordstrom store.

APC denim has been a go-to company for people who want foolproof quality and style from their denim. It was established in 1988 and remained little-known until the early 2000s, while everyone else was flocking to True Religion and Adriano Goldschmied—in which the coolest of the cool wouldn’t have been caught dead—and were wearing the minimal, raw denim. It became a code language for the socially evolved, and stylists like me gave kudos to the boutique owners who were savvy enough to carry it. If you didn’t know it before, you know it now—there’s denim snobbery among style leaders, and rhinestones are not your friend in this crowd. Now that the word is out, most department stores like Nordstrom downtown carry APC denim. (Or maybe it’s because Jorge Valls is the men’s buyer and has impeccable taste…) In any case, it’s accessible. The Petit Standard Jean in Black Raw Denim by APC will save your life. It dresses up and down a becomes part of you. The message it sends is that you know your stuff and never have to try too hard.

The worst thing anyone can do is be uninformed on purpose. Most educated people believe that they should know a little bit about politics, world affairs, economics, sports, and pop culture. However, for a substantial group of people there seems to be an indignation about knowing much about art, design, and fashion. In certain social settings this lack of study can be irrelevant, but unfortunately it can be the reason why some people can’t get any traction in arenas in which they think they should be excelling. It’s like watching a child under the age of three at the dinner table who has never been told to sit on their bottom and use the knife and fork properly—oblivious all the while that the adults endure him because he’s a child. Dressing appropriately is no different than having good table manners. As an adult, it should be something one has worked out. The Internet makes it so easy to get online and catch up on style advice. Why some people think that paying attention to style, and their own personal style is not imperative is confounding to me. I guess that’s how we end up with otherwise respectable men in bad denim.

I will say that if you are such a person, I can promise you, you’re missing a huge part of the picture. It’s like not knowing how Palestine and Israel affect us, or what Jackie Robinson did for African Americans, or how the Internet changed communication. Some things a person should just know. If you need a good jump start and a crash course to catch up fast, I advise reading Details Magazine: The Daily Details Blog online. The articles are highly entertaining and the contributors will treat you like a dude, while being unpretentious and taking your manly needs into consideration. I love checking out the sartorial blog to get fresh ideas as well.

Botegga Veneta Key Chain available at Barney’s.

Key chains often are so utilitarian that they’re ugly wads of metal or campy, cluttered, junky items that become a pain to lug around. It rarely occurs to us to take the time to put some thought into having a nice key chain to change this dynamic. I was given a Givenchy key chain by a girlfriend and it turned the dreaded wad of keys into a sleek and personal item that I enjoy carrying. Botegga Veneta is one of those leather companies that always evokes respect. The simple weave and design of their items is recognizable in the right way without being ostentatious. I found this great looking Botegga Veneta key chain at Barney’s. If I were a guy, I’d be all over this.

Sarah Caples has lived in Seattle since 2004 working as a fashion stylist for private clients. Sarah launched an art and society blog in 2008, along with a monthly salon at The Sorrento Hotel, which ran until June 2012. As executive editor of VanguardSeattle.com, Caples hopes to cultivate an informed dialog about regional culture and bring people of diverse backgrounds together in support of nonprofits, artists and community builders.