Like most essential items in a man’s closet—boots, blazer, button-down, leather jacket—an insulated vest can be admired as much for its looks as for its functional utility in a wide range of settings. Read on for our top-20 vests—plus tips on how to wear them anywhere, from work to weekend.
What to Wear
It takes a lot to engineer a truly new development in the field of menswear. (Before you make fun of Kanye West for wearing a skirt—talk to William Wallace.) That’s not to say the great minds in our industry are lacking new ideas—rather, they reap the benefits of centuries-worth of reference points, and innovation comes in the form of fit, fabrication, and re-thinking the ways we wear eternal classics.
For that reason, we’re pleased to bring you 10 Fall Essentials: a considered list of items every man should have in his arsenal this Fall—and that won’t let you down in the years to come. Ever.
Below, find three ways to wear our first cold-weather necessity: The Wool Overcoat.
1. Weekend Upgrade. An overcoat, of course, is essential for shielding your finest suits from wind and rain. But you can maximize its mileage by repurposing it off the clock, too. A hearty tweed is especially at home in the country, as much as it is uptown. Wear yours with white jeans (yes, after Labor Day) for a fresh perspective—and don’t be afraid to beat ‘em up. They are jeans, after all.
Billy Reid overcoat | Burberry Brit white jeans | Wallin & Bros. quilted vest
Johnston & Murphy chukka | Grayers henley | Shinola watch
2. Modular Office. A coat this streamlined will make you the sharpest-dressed guy in the elevator, no matter what office gear you layer underneath it—be it a suit or tweed sportcoat for a big meeting, or a shirt/sweater combo with dark selvedge jeans for your standard daily grind. Add impeccably detailed, slush-proof boots and a laptop-friendly bag, and you’re ready for any commute.
Theory overcoat | Naked & Famous selvedge jeans | J. Press York Street shirt
Lottusse boot | Grayers merino wool sweater | Jack Spade briefcase
3. Boozy Brunch. Last night was wild. The fall sky is brisk and far too bright. You’re starving. Drag your significant other out of bed, locate some alarmingly comfortable yet intelligently designed clothes, and throw your best overcoat on top. The concept is called high/low, and it’s a smart way to elevate a casual occasion—even when you’re not at your Sunday best.
The Kooples overcoat | Stetson beanie | Zanerobe ‘Slapshot’ pants
New Balance sneaker | Shipley & Halmos long-sleeve T-shirt | Shwood sunglasses
SHOP ALL 1o FALL ESSENTIALS
The above images from our recent catalogs (yes, by the way, we put out the occasional swimsuit issue… and lingerie catalog, if you’re into that kind of thing)—coupled with the fact that it’s 72 degrees but steadily drizzling here at our Seattle headquarters—have made it quite apparent that, in order to squeeze the most out of the last weeks of summer, an epic vacation may be in order.
As indicated above, your fastidious better half is likely to have her vacation game all buttoned up. Make sure you’re worthy, starting with the nucleus of every man’s tropical travel bag: an up-to-date, well-fitting swimsuit (or three). Also: sunscreen. And: a few travel tricks up your sleeve (what sleeve?).
Tip: Take her somewhere she hasn’t been. Read on for three lesser-traveled destinations, courtesy of Nordstrom PR pro and resident paradise-seeker Brie Cross. (If you missed it, read part 1 of this post for Brie’s favorite spots in Cali, Panama and Mexico). Then, keep scrolling to check out our favorite swimwear.
1. Cartagena, Colombia. “Colombia’s hottest party city on the coast. Stroll the colonial town, stay out late and soak up the vibrant Colombian culture. Panama hats required. Stay at Hotel Casa Pestagua or Alfiz Hotel. For longer stays, try to sneak in a couple days at Tayrona National Park and stay in the Ecohabs—or do a day trip to Islas del Rosario.”
[Photos by Instagram users: @anajumelo | @rafaelgsterling | @gabrielagabrielaa
@xiomilozanog | @lizzienichuipeir | @luivybaldom]
2. Andalusian Coast, Spain. “A couple hours south of Seville (arguably one of Spain’s prettiest cities), you’ll find the Andalusian Coast—packed with tiny towns, each more charming than the next. Go inland to the white-washed Vejer de la Frontera for a day trip, but be sure to soak up Spanish holiday life in the many beach towns. The rustic El Palmar is a favorite surf spot amongst locals.”
[Photos by Instagram users: @thalia_marin | @silmarse | @rusian_roulete
@davidbujalance | @churumbele | @lidatrujillo93]
3. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. “Visit this quiet (-ish) surfer town on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica for ultimate, laid-back pura vida. Jump off waterfalls in the next town over, or hit the waves morning and sundown at one of the world’s smoothest surfing spots.”
[Photos by Instagram users: @byemilyb | @lauraquirosortiz | @kimberlynsb
@jonburke | @brookieobx | @courtneyallison]
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Now that you know where you’re going, let’s talk about what to wear. Check our previous post for the pros and cons of swim trunks vs. board shorts, and shop our Editor’s Picks below—ranging from understated solids to prints that’ll ensure your travel partner is not distracted by the “scenery” (by which we mean the European guy in a thong on the next beach blanket over).
SHOP ALL: MEN’S SWIMWEAR
Now that we’ve got your attention: There’s plenty of summer left. (In fact, it’s only just begun here at our Seattle HQ.) If you haven’t already, it’s high time you plan an epic, romantic, once-in-a-lifetime getaway for you and your significant other. Forget bringing home flowers and wine once in a while; a tropical trip (especially a *surprise* one—ladies love that stuff) will put you in the safe-zone of her (or his) good graces for an entire month or two—bare minimum.
Once the tickets are booked and you’re firmly ensconced in paradise, you can be sure she’ll bring her A-game to the beach (see above). Make sure you do the same (see also above). Before we dive into what to wear, though, here are a few thoughts on destinations she’ll love—courtesy of Nordstrom PR pro, and resident travel junkie, Brie Cross. To illustrate Brie’s suggestions, we crowd-sourced photos from our favorite all-encompassing, ever-growing treasure trove of excellence: Instagram.
[A note on the photography up top: Gratuitous Kate Upton shots are a dime a dozen these days...and for that, we are thankful. However, we felt our highly refined readership would prefer to draw vacation inspiration from these artful swimwear images of model Monika Jac Jagaciak, shot by Greg Kadel for German Vogue.]
1. Big Sur, California. “If you want to stay domestic, visit one of Cali’s most beautiful beaches. For the ultimate in West-Coast luxury, stay at the Post Ranch Inn. [Note the infinity pool, top right.]”
[Photos by Instagram users: @gaelcl | @deemoran6 | @postranchinn
@heavyyymaiden | @random_slaps | @r1chmiro]
2. Bocas del Toro, Panama. “Central America’s latest it destination. One look at the bungalows on the water, and you’ll be ready to book your tickets. You’ll also be close to the Costa Rican border for a mid-trip getaway to Puerto Viejo.”
[Photos by Instagram users: @amiluk | @misspatacon | @kristinpanke
@lacyjayde | @renatass | @breedle_]
3. Tulum, Mexico. “A beach oasis on the Yucatán Peninsula, with perfect white sand and turquoise water. Stay at Coqui Coqui or Posada Margherita for posh beachside accommodations, or Coco Tulum for minimalist cabanas on the sand. Tulum Strip is packed with excellent restaurants (Casa Jaguar is a favorite for ambiance, food and the occasional celeb sighting) but head to town for nightlife, too. Make time to visit the local Mayan ruins of Tulum and Coba, and Chichen Itza for a day trip. Swimming in some of the approximately 3,000 nearby cenotes is a MUST.”
[Photos by Instagram users: @raphreponty | @ashleekerford | @d_taylor77
@griselleme | @ashleekerford | @zoranaj]
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Unless you really want to get ‘international,’ you’ll likely need something to wear at most of these beaches. Start with our Editor’s Picks for two styles of swimwear essentials: Swim Trunks and Board Shorts:
Swim Trunks: The Classic. They can run a variety of lengths (we highly recommend above the knee, for the best looking proportion)—but the defining characteristic of all swim trunks is their elastic waist. It’s the most flattering on a variety of physiques—and the most forgiving, if you finish of your date’s taco platter at lunch.
L-R: Boss Hugo Boss | Volcom | Marc by Marc Jacobs | Brooks Brothers
Shop All: Swim Trunks
Board Shorts: Ready for Action. Developed in the 1970s for surfers, board shorts are still a smart choice if your idea of a day at the beach includes action sports more rigorous than snoozing, reading, and applying tanning oil to your partner in crime. (Their lace-up waist keeps them from staying in the water after you get out.)
L-R: Brixton | Patagonia | Sundek | Lightning Bolt
Shop All: Board Shorts
SHOP ALL: MEN’S SWIMWEAR
[Intro photos by Greg Kadel for German Vogue. Instagram images by the individual users as noted; if you see your photo and would like it removed, please contact us via the 'Email the Editor' link to the right.]
Here at Nordstrom Men’s Shop, we strive to make it as easy as possible for you to look your best. It should go without saying that this objective applies wholeheartedly to the crucial foundation of every man’s office wardrobe: Dress Shirts.
Let’s be clear. We all have a closet full of shirts with buttons and collars—but are you well-stocked with true dress shirts? There are certainly some make-or-break distinctions: A dress shirt should be long enough to tuck in with ease. It should fit comfortably at your neck with the top button done. And its sleeve should extend precisely to the hinge of your wrist, to ensure that all-important sliver of shirt cuff shows when wearing a jacket.
With those points in mind, we present 3 simple steps to finding a dress shirt that fits precisely how you want it to.
1. Know Your Size. Because true dress shirts come in sizes that pertain to your neck and arm measurements (the first and second numbers on the tag, respectively), it’s vital to know your stats. Visit any Nordstrom store to get measured by an expert, or learn how to measure yourself here. Armed with this info, you’ll be ready to pull the trigger as soon as you find the shirt you want.
2. Find Your Fit. As the video above suggests, we categorize the dress shirts we carry into three classifications: Regular Fit, Trim Fit, and Extra-Trim Fit. Please note that due to the vast array of brands we carry—and each brand often offering its own multiple fits—the classifications above are merely jumping-off points to get your search started on the right path. For down-to-the-decimal analyses of how individual fits from best-selling brands measure up, please refer to ‘Find Your Fit’ dress-shirt guide.
3. Get It Custom. After mastering your correct size and preferred fit, if you still find that your off-the-rack dress shirt is even a fraction of an inch off from how you’d like it, we encourage you to visit a Nordstrom Tailor. You’ll find them on-staff at every Nordstrom store, and they can either adjust a shirt from your favorite brand to your exact specifications, or help you order a fully customized dress shirt, Made-to-Measure.
Now that you know the ropes, feel free to look around. Start with our Editor’s Picks, organized conveniently by Fit:
[Tailor-shop photo via British GQ. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]
If you’ve caught much Fashion Week coverage, either on this site or elsewhere, you’ve likely realized: The collections that visionary designers send down runways are in fact NOT explicit instructions on how they’d like to see you—the average, intelligent, style-aware male—dress yourself come next season.
What these spectacles of immaculately crafted clothing-as-art do provide, if approached with an open mind, is a window into the extreme end of a designer’s current mindset. The best among them translate their inner vision into a performative presentation that makes you think—and no one puts on a more thought-provoking show than Thom Browne.
While previous Thom Browne productions (and they truly are that, with models not just walking, but often enacting odd tasks in surreal environments) have tackled aspects of Americana—preps, punks, astronauts—his most recent, Spring 2014, unveiled in Paris yesterday, is the first to hoist a patriotic color palette of red, white and blue. There were even stars and bars imprinted on the train of an elaborate officer’s coat (left) and the midriff of the red jacket at right.
To be fair, conventionally anti-menswear motifs like sleeveless coats, doily-trimmed socks, and, well, skirts, may have suggested a subversive satire on nationalism. Browne himself left his message open-ended as always, though—so we’re going to take it as all the more reason to go all-American for Independence Day this Thursday. Shop our favorites below, and more options here: Americana.
Clearly an expert multi-tasker, Browne also designs womenswear—as well as Moncler Gamme Bleu, an experimental, sport-inspired men’s line for down-jacket innovators Moncler. Recent collections have delved deep into the sartorial treasure troves of fencing, Indy racing and the Highland Games. Spring ’14, presented in Milan recently, took a fresh look at the traditional British game of cricket.
While a lot of critics (read: internet trolls) have been hung up on the black lips (perhaps a riff on cricketers’ predilection for zinc cream; definitely a classic TB move to confound audiences and contrast the otherwise clean-cut aesthetic)…we’re more focused on the crisp mix of whites.
Around the office, our men’s team has already been favoring white-on-white everything lately—and Browne’s blown-out dissertation on the subject pretty much solidifies it as a go-to way of getting dressed, both this summer and next. To do it right, mix tones, textures and fabrications as Browne does above. (And skip the lipstick.)
Has your mailbox (and consequently, your calendar) filled up yet with invitations to summer weddings? First, check out our tips from last wedding season on how to handle yourself at such auspicious occasions—whether you’re a guest or a groomsman.
That still leaves the question of what to wear. Our Nordstrom Wedding Suite team earned national buzz recently for a video they put together with a cameo (and backing track) by hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. (Watch the official video and take a look behind the scenes, on our Wedding Suite blog.)
Besides displaying some confidently ridiculous dance moves (a requirement for any wedding guest worth his weight in free drinks), we think these guys pulled together an ideal mix of formal and funk when it came to their celebratory regalia. Recreate their reception-ready rigs with our picks below:
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You’re probably familiar with some of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s recent hits (visit their official YouTube for all the videos)—but did you know they’re Seattle natives, just like us? One of the pair’s first breaks stemmed from this song, a tribute to late Seattle Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus:
Kristina Zias is a menswear expert at our Grove store in LA. You’ve seen her discuss (and model) men’s sweaters and polos in the past. For today’s post, she recruited a friend to model her favorite summer essential for men: The anti-jean. In anything but blue.
“Let your pants do the talking. Slim, tailored pants with a pop of color are a necessity in every man’s wardrobe this season. Besides adding character and fun to any outfit, pants like these, done right, cause the wearer to exude total confidence—and isn’t that what style is all about?
“Choose a couple colors, and wear them all summer in place of dark jeans. Dress them down with a T-shirt and Chucks for daytime, or dress them up with a blazer and button-down for after dark.”
—Kristina Zias, Nordstrom at The Grove, Los Angeles
Not sure what to wear up top? Keep it neutral.
These T-shirts, sweaters and jackets will balance colorful pants nicely—as well as white ones.
Editor’s Picks to complete the look:
[Photos and commentary by Kristina Zias.]