Dressing for the Season, 101: Cold mornings call for warm clothes—and that goes for everything from your socks to your tie.
On a pristinely fogged-in dawn here at our Seattle HQ, these Yves Saint Laurent ties caught our eye immediately, for several reasons: 1. They’re sturdy. Cut from substantial wool blends, they’ll balance your boots and offset your scarf. 2. They’re sophisticated. Crafted in France and displaying classic patterns like houndstooth and herringbone, you’ll never feel like you’re wearing a bulky flannel shirt around your neck. 3. They’re timeless. Ranging from 2.5 to 3 inches across, they’re the ideal width—not too skinny, not too wide, perfect with anything from a three-piece suit to a slim shirt and dark jeans.
Pro Tip: As always, we recommend tying these on with a basic four-in-hand knot. The fabric is thick enough on its own; keep the slim lines of the rest of your kit consistent with an understated knot.
Last week, Men’s Shop Daily had the distinct pleasure of catching up with Marcus Wainwright (left) and David Neville, co-founders of Rag & Bone, at their in-store appearance at Nordstrom Bellevue Square, near our Seattle headquarters.
Below, the two British designers—who met in boarding school in England, before starting Rag & Bone more than ten years ago in New York—discuss their fashion baptism in rural Kentucky, smashing guitars, and style advice that every man should swear by.
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: Welcome to Seattle. Have you been out here before?
DAVID NEVILLE OF RAG & BONE: “We’ve been a few times, but only ever to see the people at Nordstrom. It’s worth the trip. It’s an amazing company.”
MSD: That’s great to hear—what makes you say that?
NEVILLE: “I think that when you look at the history, and the legacy of how it was started, and what it is now…I’ve actually read [Bruce Nordstrom's] book, Leave It Better than You Found It. The fact that it’s still run by the family, and the approach to customer service, and differentiating themselves as a store…The success that’s bred is kind of amazing. It’s 130 stores in America. I should be like a spokesperson.” [Laughs.]
MSD: You’ve noted the photography of August Sander as an inspiration for your Fall ’13 men’s collection. What drew you to his work, and are there any favorite photographs that stick in your minds?
MARCUS WAINWRIGHT OF RAG & BONE: “I’ve got a lot of his photography. I like photography—I collect [it] and like taking pictures myself. Part of it is just the subject matter—apart from the photographs themselves, the clothes are really cool, and very relevant to Rag & Bone. We do a lot of workwear, we do a lot of tailoring, and the August Sander pictures capture a lot of people working—and he captures them in a period where people were working in suits. If you look at the early pictures of rag-and-bone men, after the Second World War, they’re working day-to-day in tailored clothing. There’s no T-shirts, there’s no just shirt-and-jeans. And there’s a sort of beauty in that handmade clothing that’s been disheveled and rumpled and rained on and worked in.
“So the subject matter of the pictures is amazing. There’s a German aspect to it, which is pretty cool—it’s quite sort of different from the English stuff; it’s less sort of ‘dandy.’ There’s an amazing picture of a baker…and one in particular of a guy in a street in the most beautiful coat, which we made a sort of version of, which closed the show. It’s just great photography.”
MSD: Does Michael Pitt [the actor in Rag & Bone's fall campaign] have the best hair in Hollywood?
NEVILLE: “We were actually a little bit worried about his hair in a couple of the pictures—it just looks a little bit too sort of retro, kind of Johnny Cash, which wasn’t really the reference, you know. But he’s a cool dude.”
WAINWRIGHT: “He does have good hair.”
NEVILLE: “We had fun. He was awesome. He came to the shoot really sort of enthused, and there’s an amazing moment where he smashes his guitar in the middle of 6th Avenue. That was his idea, and it was fairly impromptu—it wasn’t staged or anything. It was cool content to just be able to create.”
[Seattle band Campfire OK played a killer set at our in-store
event—decked out in Rag & Bone, of course.]
MSD: When the two of you first decided to start a clothing company, you visited a legendary denim factory in Kentucky. What was that experience like, and what did you learn there?
WAINWRIGHT: “It was the birth of Rag & Bone in many ways. It was a very old denim factory in Tompkinsville, Kentucky. It had been a massive factory at one point, but everything had shifted—been bought or invested in by a Mexican company, and a lot of denim [production] had moved to Mexico. So it basically shut down most of it, and it was just sort of 60 people, as a sample room for the Mexican production—but it was the best sewers and pant-makers that they had.
“It was an amazing place with 50 years of knowledge about how to make proper jeans. It was an incredible place to go to, when you had no experience in fashion at all, and never really been to a factory to speak of, and you were sort of baptized into the fashion and sewing world by these women who were in their 60s, sewing jeans all day, proper salt-of-the-earth ladies from Kentucky—in a dry county, so there’s no booze. It’s rural Kentucky, and they take great pride in their work, and they’re just lovely people. They taught us the meaning of quality and authenticity and the value of that history of craftsmanship—and the value of that experience, and how easy it is for that to disappear.
“They were the last of 3,000. They shut down within two or three years of us working with them. The ladies who’d been sewing their whole lives went to work in the local outboard motor factory, or Walmart, or waiting tables. Never to sew again. The American-invented and American-owned skill of sewing jeans just disappeared from that factory forever, and it’s happened across this country. And that’s sad. So I think our company has a lot to thank that experience—to thank them—for what they taught us about the importance of maintaining that, and not just shipping everything to a factory that’s chosen based purely on price.”
MSD: If you could give male readers one style tip for Fall 2013, what would it be?
NEVILLE: “Don’t try too hard. Do what feels right; what you feel comfortable in. Menswear should never really feel like you’re trying to make a fashion statement. I think that can go desperately wrong. You should just be wearing what you feel comfortable in—and what your wife tells you you should be wearing is maybe a good tip.” [Laughs.]
WAINWRIGHT: “Guys should take pride in their appearance. I think when guys go wrong it’s when they try too hard or they don’t try hard enough. And you get a guy who just doesn’t think about it, and buys a pair of ill-fitting, cheap jeans and a cheap shirt. There’s a lot of inherent beauty in clothes, and clothes can make you feel great, and I think clothes are worth investing in. It’s worth buying the perfect leather jacket, for example, because it’s something that will be with you forever. It may seem like a lot of money, but it’s worth it, and it makes you feel good. And I think it’s important that you take pride in your appearance.”
MSD: What’s changed, since you founded Rag & Bone in 2002, in your approach to designing menswear?
WAINWRIGHT: “Not a lot. Menswear doesn’t change much anyway. We’ve been through periods of being more or less adventurous with men’s design, and we learned a lesson as men’s designers, quite quickly, that if you go too far out of the box, guys don’t get it. Girls are way braver—and way more willing to take a risk. You couldn’t get a guy into a white, leopard-print jacket, for example. But that looks cool on you [nodding to our female video producer in the room]. You’ve got to reference things that a guy is familiar with, whether he’s conscious of it, or subconsciously, something he’s seen in a movie, or seen his dad wear, or seen in photographs. That’s what menswear is really about: beautiful fabric, and detail, and making clothes that guys are familiar with—but at the same time, pushing it gently forward in terms of design, and the fashion part of it.”
MSD: After growing up in England, you’ve both lived and worked in New York for more than ten years. What do you appreciate about each place you’ve called home?
NEVILLE: “New York City is an amazing place. The energy of the city is intoxicating, and it’s very different to London in that regard. We thank New York for really giving us the platform to start our company—not just from a practical standpoint, but also from an entrepreneurial sort of enthusiasm, which I don’t think you find in many places in the world. We’ve been in New York a long time, and we feel sort of like adopted New Yorkers now, so that’s great. We miss London, miss our friends, miss the pubs…but I think both of us are very happy where we are, and don’t really have any intention of moving back.”
MSD: Do you visit London often?
NEVILLE: “We have a store in London now, which is exciting—and I think made our parents quite proud.”
— — —
In Their Own Words. Here’s a short clip of Rag & Bone founders Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, filmed before their personal appearance at Bellevue Square Nordstrom last week:
After a short hiatus, we’re back with a new GQ Spring Trend Reports post. Today, Jim Moore and Michael Hainey of GQ expound on the merits of a Patterned Tie in summer-friendly lightweight cotton—a fabrication that can go casual with a jean jacket as easily as it dresses up with a cotton suit:
We pulled a few favorites below. Don’t be afraid to mix these ties with patterned shirts; just follow the can’t-fail rule of thumb, and vary the scale of the patterns. The best part? The lion’s share of the ties shown here are in the $20 to $40 range. Browse additional options here: MORE PATTERNED TIES
Taking a cue from Mr. Moore’s thoughts on dressy cottons that bring cotton suits out of weekend-wedding territory and into the office, we pulled four suited-up looks that can span from boardroom to casual Friday this summer. Check out our tips below, and browse additional options here: MORE COTTON SUITS
2. Quirky Khaki. You’re probably familiar with the trick of wearing your jean jacket with chinos, to avoid going double-denim. The same concept applies with your khaki suit, which benefits from the contrast of a workwear-inspired (but still dressy) shirt.
[Paul Smith London Suit | Gitman Tie | Eton Dress Shirt]
3. Room with a View. This crisp combo is boardroom-ready—and, whether it’s true or not, implies to your client that you’ll be on a boat this weekend. We like underpinning the preppy, regatta-motif tie with businesslike stripes. (Think of purple as the new navy.)
[Hugo Boss Suit | Hugo Boss Tie | Nordstrom Dress Shirt]
Corny ties have been a dad-gift cliché since the dawn of time. (Recent archaeological evidence shows ugly, fossilized ties pushed to the back of cavemen’s closets.) With the advent of microchip technology came futuristic new ways to cheese-up Dad’s holiday attire—if you’re anything like us, your old man has more than one tie in his arsenal that plays Christmas tunes at the touch of a button.
See that 1 through 15 countdown on that tail end of the tie above? That signifies, and is in fact created during, the meticulous 15-stage silk-screening process Zegna’s master craftsmen endure to create each swatch of fabric used in these supremely luxurious ties. Examine the fine details below—and imagine trying to painstakingly align each layer of color as it goes on. Not a job for the faint of heart (or retina), but it makes for one fine-looking tie. One which even the most particular gift aficionado will be blown away by.
Shop the collection—and be sure to click through all the eye-captivating color options, as most of the tie designs have several.
Seattle gets a bad rap, style-wise. Maybe certain Seattleites re-purpose their outdoor gear too liberally—but it’s a different story within the several-block radius that contains our corporate headquarters and flagship store here in Downtown Seattle.
To prove our point, we’re going to start snapping well-dressed guys we spot around the office. First up is Danny, an online merchandising specialist who’s responsible, among about a million other things, for coordinating GQ Selects each month.
We had to bug Danny for a few photos yesterday due to his keen ability to nail multiple trends at a time and make it look like no big deal. Check him out: shawl-collar sweater, rugged boots, cargo pants, touch of camo. Take a closer look at the details, and shop similar items using the links below:
Tie-Tuck. Gives your office gear a subtle military touch—and keeps your tie out of your lunch.
Streamlined Cargo. Chinos with utilitarian pockets are officially back—
but they’re far from the crazy-baggy ones you remember from ’98.
Serious Socks. Rugged boots require them. Pulling them over your pant cuff
(a favorite fall trick among stylists lately) is entirely optional.
If you’re like us, you’d prefer to reserve all brain power for after you’ve made it to the office—which means picking out clothes in the clouded stupor of morning, that not only get the job done but also make a confident statement, can be kind of a drag.
That’s precisely why we created a category of ready-made shirt and tie combinations. We’ve thought it all out so you don’t have to: Paisley on stripes? Of course. Dots on checks? Simple. Keep a copy of this photo taped next to your closet, and you can concentrate on more important things each morning: Like breakfast.
The final look from our November-issue edition of GQ Selects proves, once again, the power of accessories. In this case, a dapper tie and tie bar, at a combined cost of only $30, give you the power to invest in a truly killer suit—as well as a high-quality laptop case that lends a subtly rugged touch to your most polished office attire.
The Tie Bar Woven Tie. “For the man who has a closet overstuffed with striped ties, this wool-and-silk rendition from The Tie Bar offers a heftier helping of stripes that amps up any basic shirt-and-suit combination.” —Jim Moore, GQ Creative Director (shop this item)
Editor’s Note: The exact tie featured in GQ has sold out.
Luckily, we have plenty more ties by The Tie Bar—and all at a mere $15.
Shop color variations of the bold stripe above here, or shop all ties by The Tie Bar.
Jack Spade ‘Tech Oxford’ Slim Laptop Briefcase. “Everything is slimmed-down these days, from our cell phones to our laptops, but so many guys are still lugging around bulky, oversized briefcases. Jack Spade thankfully catches men up to the times with this scaled-down brief. It’s slim without skimping on utility, thanks to the exterior zip pouch, interior pockets, and a durable nylon shell.” —Jim Moore, GQ Creative Director (shop this item)
The Tie Bar Woven Tie. “I’m a believer that just as you shouldn’t leave the house without a pocket square, you shouldn’t without a tie bar if you’re wearing a tie. You can never go wrong with a tie bar. It’s that extra detail that’s going to set you apart from the person next to you, whether it’s with a sharp suit or a shirt and tie with a hoodie thrown on top. Aside from looking smart, it’s a functional piece that will keep your neckwear in place throughout the day. This one-inch-long accessory is going to you give you miles’ worth of style.” —Jim Moore, GQ Creative Director (shop this item)
Nordstrom sales associates have always been known for impeccable customer service. A lesser-known fact, though, is that we promote the best of the best to the elite position of Personal Stylist. These hands-on experts are available by appointment to solve any sartorial conundrum you might have, from a complete wardrobe overhaul to pinpointing that elusive pair of perfect pants.
If having a professional stylist at your disposal sounds the least bit intimidating, think again. Our Personal Stylist team is made up of highly knowledgeable, ridiculously nice individuals like Brandan Chang-Barstow, pictured here.
Brandan is well-versed in all aspects of menswear, but specializes currently in one of our newest imports, British brand Topman. (Considering Brandan works at Nordstrom’s best-selling Topman location, Southcenter Mall near Seattle, one might infer he’s doing something right. If you live in the area, be sure to pay him a visit.)
Below, Brandan models 6 Topman-based outfits of his own creation—and shows how easily the brand’s sharp tailoring and signature streetwear can blend with items you might already own.
Look 1: Rugged Prep. This mix of a bow tie with worn-in boots is what Brandan has on when we stop by to meet him. He notes that a look like this is not only for the office. “I’d also just wear it out for the day,” he says. “Shopping, or going downtown. You never need an excuse to dress nice. Why not throw on a bow tie, do something different to attract attention and represent your uniqueness.”
Look 2: Weekend Update. Here’s how Topman puts a twist on casual standards like a hoodie and tee. “The attention to detail is my favorite thing about Topman,” Brandan says, pointing out the yarn-dyed stripes at the shoulder, quilting details, and subtle heathered effect on the T-shirt.
Look 3: Power Suit. “I feel really powerful in a double-breasted jacket, it’s very traditional, very old-school,” Brandan says, while praising Topman’s slim-fitting version of this classic item. “Try to liven it up with your shirt and tie,” he recommends, noting that a patterned shirt helps balance out the boldness of a DB suit.
Look 4: Easy Fall Layering. “I was thinking Black Friday shopping when I put this together—it would be nice going in and out, just having one layer to take off. Also for the evening, if you have a casual date—the coat and scarf give a dressy feel, but the white tee and jeans underneath are a pretty classic outfit on their own.”
Look 5: Double Denim. “Yes, it can be done,” Brandan says. “If you’re mixing light and dark denim, I think it’s totally safe.” Where to wear it? “I’d say somewhere like a trendy lake walk. You’ve got the boots if you need to go in the wilderness, you’ve got the ruggedness of the denim—but if you go somewhere nice for lunch, you have the short-sleeve button-up underneath to keep it dressy.”
Look 6: Desk to Drinks. “I feel like Joseph Gordon-Levitt right now!” Brandan says, pulling on this tailored vest. “I like a vest for the dressiness it adds. You could wear this all day, then go out somewhere nicer that evening and still be appropriate.” His other current style icon: “Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love—best styling ever.”
Get in touch with Brandan. If you’d like to book an appointment with Mr. Chang-Barstow—or would just like help tracking down an item seen above (some are in-store only, and not online)—he welcomes your emails: Brandan.J.Chang-Barstow@nordstrom.com
[Note, not all items pictured are available online; we've recommended similar items as appropriate. Styling and quotes courtesy of Brandan Chang-Barstow, Personal Stylist and Topman Specialist at Southcenter Nordstrom. Photos by Justin Abbott.]
Visiting our Seattle headquarters for just a few days this past summer, Pask offered a moment (a rare commodity, between rapid-fire styling sessions, non-stop meetings, and trying to nab a table at the Walrus and the Carpenter for that evening) to chat with us about his favorite pieces from our Fall Catalog.
1. Burberry Peacoat. “You can’t go wrong with that, I think it’s an amazing piece. It’s really trim, the arms are slender, it’s really well-cut.” (shop this item | shop all peacoats)
2. Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots. “I own them and love them. They just go with everything, they’re such a neutral. They looks great with jeans, with khakis—and then you can also use them to ground a dressier look, and it shows a bit more character than just a dress shoe. They’re also really well-made.” (shop this item | shop all boots)
3. Jack Spade Cardigan. “Some guys are afraid of cardigans, because they think of Fred Rogers, or they think it’s too groovy, but this piece has such versatility. It looks great under a sport jacket, it looks great on its own, you can wear it with a T-shirt or with a woven. It’s a uniform piece that you can go back to again and again.” (shop this item | shop all cardigans)
4. Billy Reid Overcoat. “That Billy Reid coat is beautiful—double-breasted, wool melton, great shape. It’s a great length because it’ll go over a sport jacket. I like pieces where you can get a lot of use out of them—it’s a really dressy coat, but you can also do it more casually, like we did here.” (shop this item | shop all overcoats)
5. Gitman Ties. “We’re just using them for styling, but we used them a lot—all those Gitman neckties, those skinny wool tartans and foulards, I think are great.” (shop Gitman ties | shop all ties)
Bonus Tip: A New Perspective on Pocket Squares. “The thing I love about these [above] is that they’re not just this white sliver coming out of a pocket. There was a point when that meant something and kind of evoked something, but I think it’s time we reinvestigate what a pocket square’s supposed to do. A darker, tonal, wool pocket square—and kind of casually, but artfully placing it in—I just think it gives such a boost to a tailored look.” (shop pocket squares)
[Quotes by Bruce Pask. iPhone photos shot this past summer during style-out sessions for the Fall Catalog.]