Tie Tuesday: DO IT

I love finding and wearing awesome-looking neckwear; ties are one of the things that fit pretty well no matter how large the rest of your body is.  The problem is that I very rarely find myself actually wearing ties.  My job's dress code is extremely casual.  The most formally dressed (older) gentlemen who I work with usually wear dress pants, some form of leather shoes, and and varying forms of collared shirt.  The younger guys around me follow suite but mostly trade out the leather shoes for athletic or Sketcher's-style shoes (/facepalm).  Regardless of what any of my coworkers wear, a tie and/or jacket is out of the question.
For a while, I was caught in the same trap as everyone else.  That is, until I started caring about how I looked.  I began to dress better and began to feel better about myself.  One day, I realized: I have tons of ties that I rarely wear.  From that point, I instituted 'Tie Tuesday'.  Since then, I have worn a tie every Tuesday without fail.  I usually supplement the tie with a sportcoat.  My lower half is almost always clad in denim (Levi's, A.P.C., or Wrangler) and I wear nice leather shoes or boots every day.

The first time I wore a tie, I can't even remember how many people asked me if I had a job interview.  I remember looking down to my pants and thinking, "Who would interview in jeans?"  In truth, what I wear on Tuesdays would be considered casual by those who actually know what they're talking about.  To the left is an example of a typical Tuesday outift for me (please excuse the awful cell phone photo).  It is difficult to see so I'll break it down for you: raw denim, plaid button down, corduroy jacket, rubber-soled penny loafers, and to anchor it all, a knit wool tie.

Although I have observed Tie Tuesday for several months, even now when I don a tie I am asked at least once per day what is up.  This Onion article is pretty much is my life.
Over the years, I have amased an insane number of ties.  They are mostly hand-me-downs from a neighbor who was a lawyer but I have purchased most of my favorite ties second-hand.  To the right is an assortment of the neckwear I own.  The most I paid for one of these ties was ten dollars.  Most were had via various second-hand stores for around one to three dollars.  The bow ties I got from Rosemary at Rufflentuck.  Oh yeah, they were $6.00 a piece.  But seriously, go to your local thrift shop, Goodwill, Salvation Army, or whatever you have.  Spend some time rooting through the ties.  Odds are that you will find something decent and it will cost you no more than $5.  If you're a baller and have the cash for new ties, I would highly recommend Pierrepont Hicks and The Windmill Club.  They both make some beautiful neckwear.

Once you've got your ties, start wearing them!  Institute your own Tie Tuesday.  Maybe this could be your transition to wearing ties daily.  Power through the confused looks and questions from the unenlightened passersby. Take back the world from boring casual every day!


In My Closet: J. Crew Field Jacket

A staple of blogs such as this is to profile a go-to piece in the author's wardrobe.  This is my take on it; this is my go-to.  I've probably worn this coat more than any other item of clothing I am still in possession of so listen up:
To clarify the title of the post, it's only in my closet in the warmest months of the year.  Right now, it is on my back most of the time.  But yes, it is a J. Crew field jacket, probably nearly ten years old by now.  I cannot remember how it was originally acquired as it was a hand-me-down from my father.

  • Outer shell is 100% cotton canvas
  • Removable liner is polyester and acrylic with Thinsulate
  • Corduroy collar and cuffs (I don't roll the cuffs up to expose it because the sleeves get too short)
This coat is big.  It is large and was made before what I like to call the "fitted revolution".  But that is part of its charm.  It is just a big-style hunting jacket that makes you feel like a badass.  In fact, I went to a party recently during a snowstorm (which seems like most of the time in Chicago) with this coat. Upon my arrival, I was told that I resembled a 19th century Antarctic explorer.  It probably helped that I was heavily bearded and was wearing my 8" Bean boots as well.  Still, it was one of the best compliments I've ever received.

Long before that, this has been my suit of armor against the cold.  It is utilitarian to the max but still retains handsomeness.  A girl I went out with a few times in college mistook it for a Carhartt (which actually looks pretty great right now!).  But hey, the removable liner means that it can easily becomes a lightweight canvas jacket for fall or spring as well.  It is a bit baggy without the liner but a sweater or sport coat makes up the difference.
Anyway, I just wanted to show ya'll what kind of awesome stuff can be found used for little or no cash monies.  Obviously I didn't have to pay for this because it was given to me.  However, I've seen several similar coats go up on eBay over the years.  And if you want to go new, the Carhartt mentioned above is only around $80!  If you take away nothing from this post, please know that this is the coat I will be donning during the zombie apocalypse.  Those lower front two pockets will be loaded to the brim with shotgun shells.  Thought you should know.


American Denim Showdown: Levis 501 vs. Wrangler 13MWZ

In the interest of full disclosure, I am admittedly quite biased toward the 501s because I've been wearing them for years and I am more comfortable with them.  However, I will do my best here to give the Wranglers a fair chance.
Levi's 501 Background
Unless you've been sleeping for the past 100 years, you've heard of and/or probably have seen Levi's iconic jean, the Original 501.  They've been produced in some form or another since the late 19th century.  In 1947, the 501 blew up and is probably the closest in cut and features that we have today in the modern iteration.  The 1947 501 was so ubiquitous that several companies still replicate it today (including Levi's itself through its heritage LVC line).  The quintessential five-pocket jean retains the gull wing pocket stitching and 'red tab' logo fabric that is sewn under the left side of the rightward rear pocket.  Levi's had the pocket design trademarked in 1943 (upper right) and is described thusly in documentation: "a double arcuate* and tab design shown on the shape of a pocket, as indicated by a solid line. The lining and shading shown in the drawing are features of the mark and not intended to indicate color."
(*ar·cu·ate: adj. Having the form of a bow; curved.)

 Wrangler 13MWZ Background
Born out of the need for rodeo-wear in the mid 1940's, Wrangler was another American overalls company (fast fact: the term "jeans" wasn't used until the 1960s).  Incidentally, 1947 marks the birth of the Wrangler 13MWZ "The Original Cowboy Cut Jean", which is still available today.

Truthfully, I did not know that Wrangler still manufactured rigid denim at all until last month when I read a post by Guiseppe on An Affordable Wardrobe.  He turned me on to Wrangler and I had to see for myself.  I ordered a pair of 13MWZs from Sheplers.  No offense to any certifiable cowboys that read this but the pictures on Sheplers make these jeans look pretty hilarious.  The crease, the cowboy boots; its a western-wear supplier, I know.  Anyway, I got a pair. The cost was not at all prohibitive (they're on sale right now for $21.99!) Also, never fear you regularly-sized people out there who want a trimmer cut: Sheplers also stocks the Wrangler 936; from what I can tell this is the slim fit version of the 13MWZ.

Notable Similarities:
  • Both have no problem accommodating my massive thighs even after shrinking, which leads to:
  • Both are unsanforized, meaning that they will shrink significantly after being saturated with water and dried.  Generally, they will shrink about 2 inches in length and 1 inch in the waist, although they will stretch out in the waist without frequent washing.
  • The fabric of both seem very similar in weight.
  • Both have a mid-high rise.
  • Both are straight through the legs.
  • Unfortunately, both are made in Mexico.
Notable Differences:
  • The rise on the Wranglers is about an inch bigger than that of the Levi's (ref. waist size 33).  That's probably the first thing I noticed after putting them on; the rise is almost ridiculous.  After soaking and drying them, however, the rise shrunk down a bit and everything was fairly cool.  This translates to having to wear the Wranglers higher on the hips or opting to "sag" them a bit.  I pull them up higher; I think they just look better that way.
  • The 13MWZ has a zipper fly, the 501 has a button fly.
  • The texture of the Wranglers feels rougher in that it seems as though the material was woven with a thicker thread.
  • The rear pockets on the Wranglers are placed about one inch higher that that of the Levi's.  According to Wrangler, this is so when rodeo dudes saddle up, they don't have to sit on their wallets.
  • Likely due to the higher rise, the 13MWZs have more room in the seat than the 501s.  Since they are straight cut, this also translates to a more roomy lower leg and leg opening.
  • The Wranglers have riveted rear pockets.  The Levi's just have rivets on the front two pockets and the coin pocket.
  • The fifth pocket (coin pocket) on the Wranglers is wider and positioned higher on the waist as compared to the Levi's.  For me, it is much harder to reach into the Wrangler coin pocket than it is for the Levi's.
  • 501s are currently available in five colors in their rigid, shrink-to-fit form: indigo, black, green, light blue, and gray.  The 13MWZs are available only available in indigo in rigid form.  If you're willing to buy a pre-washed pair, there are a bunch of colors available.
  • The Wranglers retail for $25 and the Levi's retail for about $50 (however, they frequently go on sale and can be easily had for less than $40.
A few notes on the pictures:
The 501s are of the green variety and not the standard indigo.  They've been worn for about seven months.  The Wranglers are nearly brand new: worn about four times.  The 13MWZs come with a brown rubber patch sewn into the top of the right rear pocket.  I really didn't like the way it looked so I removed it.  I think the back of the pants look way cleaner without it.

Well I've given you most of the facts.  The choice is yours.  Get one or the other (or both like me).

Bonus: Supreme badass, Harrison Ford wearing 13WMZs in his most recent movie Extraordinary Measures.


Think Different (seriously)

No, this post was not written on an original iMac.  The title is meant to encourage you to be open to brands you normally wouldn't expect to have anything to offer you.  Being a bigger guy can sometimes limit your options as far as designers and brands so you have to 'think different'(ly) about where to get stuff.  I know too many people that scoff at certain brands because of reputation or the stereotype of the average customer. 

For example: I have only once set foot in an American Apparel store and that was because I was there with a friend who is 6'5' and 160 lbs.  He fits AA's size demographic.  I do not and for that reason I did not consider it a viable source for clothes.  What I didn't realize then was that that shouldn't mean that they didn't have something to offer me.  Case in point: I ended up buying two of their plain, solid t-shirts (brown and gray) which I sourced (brand new with tags intact) from a second-hand store. They are quite short and tight but I like to rock one every once and a while under something else or [embarrassing to admit] a "muscle shirt" [/embarrassing to admit].  And hey, from now on I'm not going to rule AA out if I'm looking for some tighter t-shirts.

This brings me to my main point.  Think about the brand Eddie Bauer right now.  What are you picturing?  Maybe someone's dad wearing a fleece vest and ill-fitting cargo pants.  Maybe your crusty great-uncle who rides a snowmobile as his main mode of transportation in the winter.  Well, you might want to reconsider, for your own sake.

This past Sunday, I had some time to burn and I was near the local mall.  I just quickly walked through to see what was good.  I was drawn into the Eddie Bauer store because they were having a President's Day sale: everything on sale was an additional 50% off.  In these types of sales I go immediately to the accessories.  Socks and belts are what I seek out.  And socks and belts are what I found:
I found this really decent canvas belt with leather trim and two pairs of cotton/wool ragg socks, perfect for boots.  Total cost to me was less than $9.  This just goes to show that quality items can be found in a wide variety of places.  Especially when places are having huge sales, it can be worth it to venture outside your comfort zone.

I usually go into stores or shop online without much prejudgment.  Sizing may be completely different in one place as compared to another.  I'm a bigger dude, I'm used to having nothing off the rack fit me perfectly.  Skinny guys have it easier; basically everything large can be taken in or altered to a slimmer silhouette, thus they have a larger palette from which to paint (pants-wise especially).  But with accessories, the variance of fit brand-to-brand almost never matters.

Another example to leave you with: just a few months ago, Express Men was having a big sale online and I nabbed four or so pairs of nice argyle socks at a huge discount.  Although you might think that only guys who work at cell phone stores shop at Express, they actually have some decent stuff sometimes.  The same is true with Eddie Bauer.  I was actually quite surprised at all the other cool stuff they had for sale (shirts namely).  I didn't have time to check any of it out or try it on but I think I may soon.  In the future, I'm planning on also profiling some other pieces I've acquired that were sourced from unlikely places.  Cheers!

P.S. As always, click to enlarge pics.  I apologize for the terrible quality for now.  Too lazy to bust out the big-boy camera.


Borrowing Onscreen Styles I: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

I draw much inspiration from film. I'm starting a segment entitled "Borrowing Onscreen Styles", much akin to Askmen.com's Stealing Onscreen Styles.  However, instead of telling you what kind of suit Daniel Craig is wearing in the new Bond movie, I'm going to be looking back in time for classic examples of style at it's best.

While watching "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" recently for the first time (I know, I know...) I could not help but be inspired pretty much every part of the movie.  Nicholson's performance is phenomenal and definitely deserving of the Academy Award for Actor in Lead Role for the year 1975. Also of note is that the film won a clean sweep of all five major awards that year (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, Screenplay).

Anyway, I also could not ignore Nicholson's on-screen style.  Something about it struck me as classic.  Maybe because I could easily see a young man today wearing exactly the same thing.  I've dissected Nicholson's outfit and have found modern examples of pieces that closely resemble his wardrobe in the film. Please also notice that Nicholson is not a waif-like model (nor has he ever been) in this film.  He has a pretty filled out, normal body type.

So, top to bottom:


(worn in for 1-2 years)


Denim: One of my favorite topics

This is my lower half clad in A.P.C. Rescues.  The Rescue is A.P.C.'s largest cut of selvedge denim.  As you can see, the fit in the thighs is quite tight (and this is well after the well-known "APC stretch" over the first week or so of wear).

Perhaps this gives you some perspective on exactly what I'm dealing with.  I seriously could not even consider putting on a pair of New Standards or New Cures (/shudder).

There have been several indications that even the Rescues are too small for me.  Since A.P.C. is vanity sized, I sized down three sizes (I usually wear a size 33 or 34 and I went with a 30).  The waist ended up stretching out quite a bit and I would now estimate it at 34.  However, the thighs are still very tight.

This past summer, while getting down on the dance floor at a local party, I ended up blowing out my right leg's outside seam.  About eight inches of seam just tore because of the pressure contained within.  I easily repaired the jeans.  My pride however; not so much.  Anyway, the search is still on for a better-fitting, high-quality raw denim option for my giant thighs/butt.

Before the A.P.C.s though, my love affair with dry denim was born with the classic Levis 501.  To the right is my first pair, pretty worn in (R.I.P.). In the world of Levi's, the 501 is the largest cut that can still be considered straight fit and not "relaxed".  A very popular, more tapered cut that Levi's offers is the 514.  I once tried a pair of these on at a Levi's store: no dice.  The 501 is my jam.

I actually have three pairs of 501s in my wardrobe right now: two pairs of greencasts (one newer, one older) and a black pair.  The relatively large rise of the 501s better jive with my lower body and naturally, these have become my standard bang-around jeans.  My only issue with them is that they have a propensity for unattractive stretching of the knees, yielding what is known colloquially in the denim community as knee bags.
Whether it was shear joy at how beautiful they were or just an impulse, I recently bought a pair of Epaulet's Smith jean (pictured left).  I think I was mainly drawn to them because they're made with 14oz selvedge from the Cone Mills White Oak plant in North Carolina.  The production of this fabric was discontinued eight years ago and all that was made is all there ever will be.

In my excitement, I seemed to have misread the measurements on the site.  They were awesome but I had to return them because they were too small.  Good news came out of this gaffe, however; Mike from Epaulet informed me that they were working on a cut that was designed for dudes with bigger thighs.  I'm excited to see if they'll fit me and I would definitely consider buying them if they did.  We'll see.

Allow me to introduce myself

pg 206 Thigh Muscles
Originally uploaded by

Here's the deal: I don't have pipe cleaner legs. I'm 6'2" and 215 lbs. I've got big thighs. Recently a friend told me, "You've got a pretty big thigh there...It's as big as my head." I agreed but quietly thought to myself, "It is certainly larger."

In fact, my thighs are actually larger than my own head (yes, I've measured).

My issue is this: in the world of menswear, slim-fitting, tailored pants have become the global trend. I enjoy the looks but I can almost never wear them because they simply wouldn't fit on my body. Since I've started caring about how I dress myself, I've experienced problems fitting into cool stuff.

This blog will explain how I manage and hopefully help some of my larger brethren in the world look good and be comfortable in their threads. Cheers.