The Cappuccino

THE Cappuccino has become a ubiquitous part of our modern world. For the sake of efficiency, we will define the Cappuccino as:

  • 1/3rd Milk Foam
  • 1/3rd Steamed Milk
  • 1/3rd Espresso Shot

(a latte being half and half with no foam)

 

The Drink

 

 

A proper cappuccino is served in a small porcelain cup thus allowing for better heat retention that elongates the pleasurable experience. Note in the above definition the absence of cocoa powder, cinnamon, or whipped cream. These abominable additives are no more part of a cappuccino than an autopsy is in a football game.

The drink, so legend has it, was named after the Capuchin monks, whose brown ‘capuccio’ or hood, was often beset on their white hair.

The cappuccino is one of the most difficult espresso-based beverages to execute properly, as care must be taken to ensure that the milk is steamed in such a way that a “microfoam” is created during the steaming process that lends a properly made cappuccino a velvety texture and sweetness (for more information as well as a step-by-step guide we at The Young Gentlemen’s Guide recommend: http://www.coffeegeek.com/guides/frothingguide/steamguide)

Traditionally Cappuccinos are consumed over breakfast with the typical continental selection of viennoiseries (croissants etcetera) or toast should that be more to a Gentleman’s liking); a standard espresso is consumed after meals thereafter. Although it is now not considered uncouth to consume a cappuccino after lunch or in the afternoon and we recommend that The Young Gentleman can indulge in a cappuccino prior to 3PM. After that, before dinner, a Macchiato may be better suited to the setting sun and never order a cappuccino after dinner—this is rather a better time for an espresso and a grappa should Italian libation be the theme of the evening.

 

For the perfect cappuccino at home The Young Gentlemen’s Guide endorses:

The Nespresso: Citiz&milk C120 RE

The Machine: This elegant machine produces an outstanding cappuccino with little to no effort.

Manual to Incessant Faux Pax Pas: Pocket Bulges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE Young Gentleman is, presumably, astute, eloquent and tasteful. He does not fret about the way he looks but he

understands that part of being a man is making sure he is appropriately put together.

He may be a reader of this August publication and has heeded most of its maxims. His clothes are of quality and appropriate fit, thus donning him with a sleek and complimentary silhouette (not matter his size).

Ergo there is nothing as unsightly and incongruent with a young gentleman’s style, than to stuff his pockets incessantly with a collection keys in a (no doubt heavy key chain), phone, and other miscellanea. Ditto for his rear pocket, nothing is more unsightly than a large bulbous wallet.

The Offender

  • A wallet carries the following: Cash (a few sparing large bills at that) and cards. Nothing else. It is not a photo-album nor is it a file cabinet. For this most men have a phone; to keep numbers and picutres. Keep the cash in your pocket, neatly folded. Give the old stretched-out and torn wallet some rest and outfit yourself with a slim, simple number where cards can be kept nearlty an dorderly, forgo logos at all attempts.

The Slim Wallet

  • Keys can be kept in a key case, such as the elegant example below.

The Key Case (Brook's Brothers)

  • A money clip is useful should you find the idea of loose paper money in your poclet disorderly.

The Money Clip (Tiffany's)

  • Should you heed it necessary to carry far more cards and items that what your wallet should carry, then perhaps a small folio, made for such an occasion is the best solution.

The Card Folio (Brook's Brothers)

The gentleman is not always expected to carry his key case on his person at all times, but bulky keys could always be locked in the glove compartment of a vehicle while the car key itself is kept in his pocket. This of course will present a situation, should the car be absconded.

Below are examples of elegant and understated attaché cases (brown for day, dark for evening) The following are from an American stalwart of Gentlemen’s style; Brook’s Brothers:

The Brown Attache

The Simple/Chic Brown Attache...

The Black "Evening" Attache

Great casual bag ideas…

The Casual (Amish-handmade) Bag (Billykirk)

The Casual Bag #2 (T.Anthony)

The Throw-around Duffel (J.Crew)

The Cool Day Bag

Of course the gentleman should carry a bag; for business such a carry case is easier than identifying one for casual pursuits as a gentleman carrying a bag around may seem affected, and such notions must be done away with.

A man has “stuff” to use the vernacular but the Young Gentleman understands how such things and accoutrements of life can be carried without sacrificing style…

The Young Gentleman’s Guide rolls out the “YGG Manual to Incessant Faux Pas”

A gentleman is created, not born, or bred (as some may contend). Therefore the minutia and attention to detail that make up a gentleman’s way is not inherent but learnt.

The Young Gentleman (by The Sartorialist)

The Manual to Incessant Faux Pas is geared to the up and coming young gentleman, so that he can navigate through life’s and fashion’s pitfall without having to suffer through humiliation or any pass that may stain his reputation.

  • Does one wear loafers with a suit?
  • Is there anything wrong with white socks and proper shoes?
  • Does the price of a suit matter?
  • Who wears collar stays?
  • Stripes with stripes?
  • How to order wine?
  • How to order a cigar?
  • When is a t-shirt appropriate?

All these and more can be found in our Manual to Incessant Faux Pas… stay tuned…

Bespoke Life: Creed Windsor

Creed Windsor

Because every so often, you want to smell like you, and not like everyone else. Because you want something unique, something that will exist on this earth for only a little while and you are a part of it. That’s something no one can take away from you.

 

The Item

 

 

From Creed’s Website:

CREED of Paris offers the public for the first time ever — and only online here http://www.creedboutique.com — the extraordinary fragrance Windsor, created in 1936 for King Edward VIII of England from ingredients grown in the British Empire. Edward was the first air pilot to be king, and Windsor is presented in a shatterproof 1.7 oz. leather wrapped bottle ideal for aircraft carry-on (or in an 8.4 oz. flacon numbered by laser and signed by sixth-generation master perfumer Olivier CREED).

Only 320 bottles and 70 flacons will be available in the U.S. Edward made headlines when he quit the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. He wore Windsor as king and later when he and his wife began a new life in Paris as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, superstars of international society.

  • Classification: Citrus / Green. Windsor is as subtle as the Duke of Windsor’s hand-tailored suits, shirts and ties, following his philosophy, “Royalty need not shout”
  • Top Note: Windsor is a tour of the British Empire Edward once ruled. Its top note is British gin, Jamaican lime and a touch of Scottish highland pine.
  • Middle Note: “Duke of Windsor” roses, those he preferred in his own garden, the Nuits de Young variety.
  • Bottom Note: Bahamian orange, Canadian cedar and a dab of Australian eucalyptus.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things of the Moment

November  2009

The Smoke

Ashton Cigars
Because they’re light, creamy and delicious and a near perfect way to start your day. Try these with Café con Leche (latin-style sweet and milky coffee), Chai latte or your favorite obnoxious Starbucks coffee creation. They smoke great to the stub.

The Drink

Camus “Borderies” Cognac

Because it’s not the same ole Remy Martin (not that there anything wrong with the Martin)… Borderies is a ‘sub-appellation’ or smaller more specialized region within the region of Cognac in France. It makes a beautifully smooth and fabulous. Try it with Ashton’s other cousin the Ashton Cabinett after a meal or in a rocks glass with a cube of ice and your favorite jazz track.

The Stuff

Kiehl’s Eye Cream
Because bags under your eyes make you look tired and give off the impression that you were partying on a school night, even though you went to bed along with your grandparents at 9PM and your boss just won’t buy it. Eye cream is not gay and this specific range is for men only. Sure you can use Preparation H, but you can also use a condom to make blow-up puppies for your little cousins birthday but you choose not to. Hint: Carry it with you, especially in long flights, dab a bit on wherever you go and you will always look refreshed.

The Place

Bombay
Because its not Delhi… no really. I’m no authority on India, let alone Bombay, but the place is cool. South Bombay looks more like Madrid and Barcelona than India complete with gothic cathedrals and gargoyles hanging off art-deco buildings. Very cool… when you go check out Tote and Blue Frog.

The territory marker

Original Santal by Creed
Because 98% of all perfumes you see canvassing the whole first floor of even the most poshest department stores comes from the same three companies who are hired by designers and fashion companies alike to create scents, mostly made from artificial extracts and marketed with impunity. What you pay for is not the quality of the stuff that went into it, nor the craftsmanship of an expert (called a ‘Nez’ or nose). Creed does things differently and are a family affair that’s been in the perfume making business from some time now (http://www.creedperfumes.us/) and have designed custom-scents for Sophia Lauren, Winston-Churchill and King Edward VIII of England (more on this later).

Original Santal from Creed’s Website:

Mr. CREED combines the essence of royal sandalwood trees from India with other pure elements known for sublime scent, spiritual strength and calming power. Red-as-rubies ORIGINAL SANTAL aspires to opulent inner calm for those who wear it.

Classification: Woody / Oriental

Characteristics: Made with heartwood essence of royal sandalwood trees from Mysore, India and other pure ingredients revered for their capacity to soothe.

Top Notes: Royal Indian sandalwood; cinnamon evoking calm and home; divine coriander; fragrant, cleansing juniper berry.

Middle Notes: Tender lavender, leaves of the absolute orange tree; fragrant rosemary; revitalizing ginger.

Base Notes: Soulful Tonka bean; dreamlike vanilla

Original Santal is sexy… very sexy and draws its inspiration from India. Perfect for that trip to Bombay, sipping on chai-masala while smoking an Ashton, looking refreshed with a flask of Cognac by your side.

Meur… what? Meursault and Meur-friggin’ delicious

Burgundy... the place

Driving into Volnay, once at the center, I followed the signs to the larger town of Meursault, further south, home to some of the best white Burgundy around. Meursault does not have any Grand Cru vineyards, which I find a crime as I would not hesitate to say that the region’s Premier Cru vineyards of Les Perriers, Les Charmes and Les Genevrières are as good and capable of producing great wines as any of those Grand Cru vineyards of neighboring Pulingy Montrachet. A fact that was proven to me bythe kind and gentle Pierre Morey and his incredible wines.

The Man

Pierre Morey, a tall, friendly, soft-spoken man of a d’un certain age waived me down as I had driven past his house about a dozen times trying to find it, in the outskirts of Meursault in a non-descript building where he both lives and works. As we walked in to the warehouse his wife bid us hello. She wasn’t decked out in Oscar de la Renta, but wore jeans, a shirt and thick goggles as she stood in front a clanking and ancient bottling machine preparing the latest shipment.

Pierre, which also owns the negociant firm Morey-Blanc, led me to a cellar underground. No show, no fancy lighting, just a cement underground warehouse lined with bottles. If there was any shows of touristy-driven pretension it was a barrel-cum-table with a spittoon and a wine map on the wall. It was 45o Fahrenheit and I was freezing. the other four dozen or so cellars I would visit in the following days didn’t get any warmer. Burgundians drink their wines, red or white, the same way: cold and traditionally out of a snifter. When you put a stem on a snifter it takes the shape of the more familiar classic Burgundy glass.

Pierre looked at me and apologized, “I hope you speak French,” he said, in the cleanest French I had heard in a while (Burgundians have a heavy accent) “because,” he continued, “my English is not so good, and I could tell you about my wines much better in French.” I asked him not to worry, I had been reading Tin Tin and the Petit Prince the entire previous week to re-calibrate my French, and we began our journey. In this bout we would taste all of the Morey-Blanc wines’ beginning with the Aligoté and while I wouldn’t say that Aligoté is the bastard-child of Burgundy, it is predominantly used to make a straightforward interesting crisp white, which is locally consumed and seldom leaves the region, let alone the country (ok, so it is the bastard-child of Burgundy). It has soft bosc pear tones, peony and flowers … beautiful. I spat, chatted a little bit about the wines and moved on. Every so often I looked at my watch. Soon I would have to make my way to the venerable house of Domaine Leflaive and I certainly did not want to be late, but I kept getting lost in the raciness of Morey’s wines. “Finally,” Pierre cut in as I held my shivering glass in the weak light of the cave, “Les Perrier, for me one of the most interesting crus.”

The Place, in all its dingy glory

To me, this whole deal of a vineyard or “cru”, from a vintner’s perspective is fascinating. In the case of Meursault, the commune possesses no official Grand Cru vineyards, although three Premier Cru vineyards are recognized amongst the best, those being Les  Charmes and right across the narrow road Les Perriers and Les Genevrières separated by a small stone wall. Having walked the vineyards the day before I can attest for the slight soil variation in each, along with the large stone galletes, here called perriers, which give the one vineyard its name. But alas, they are within less than five feet from one another while Genevrières and Les Perriers are contiguous. Can and do the finished wines, made from the same Chardonnay grape on each vineyard truly differ? How does a winemaker account for this? “Do you,” I asked, “approach each vineyard differently? That is to say, do you have one approach for Les Perriers and another one for Genevrières? Or do you use the same blanket recipe and just let the terroir (that indomitable French idea of sense of place) speak for itself?”

He gazed into the distance and thought for a bit, almost confused by the idea. “No,” he said a minute later, “I let the vineyard tell me what it needs, they’re all different… and each year they require something different.”

It truly was that simple. Let the grapes speak—and Chardonnay here does so loud and clear. So I might as well ask this humble vingneron what distinguished one from the other. “Les Perriers is always heavy with minerality, but well built. Les Charmes is massive, mineral, but supple. Les Genvrieres, a woman, with a bouquet of white flowers.”

I took a whiff of the Meursault “Les Perriers” 1er Cru 2001 and the first thing to hit me was a slight smokiness with a background of river stones lightly bathed in fresh quince. An incredible depth of flavor and aroma wrapped around a near perfect core of fruit, acidity, and, I must say, sense of place. I was in the presence of a master, although I did not know it yet, but I had an inkling merely based on his wines.

I felt, well… happy.

The Best Restaurant in the World

Ask most food snobs, travel writers or true enthusiasts what some of the best restaurants in the world are and they will rattle off the usual suspects: The French Laundry (for its German-Singaporean-Chinese obsession with perfection); El Bulli (for, jeez… I don’t know what for… perhaps for Ferra Adria’s ability for stripping food of ‘deliciousness’ and simply making it ‘interesting’); to obscure but temples of perfection like Miami’s Michy’s, for its haute-take on classics or Verona’s La Trattoria di Giovanni (opposite the iconic arena) for its delectable salt cod spread and its perfect veal tortellini; but I differ with them. All of them. I love the Laundry, Michy’s and T.G.  just as much as the next guy but my favorite restaurant in the world is one most of you… actually; none of you have ever been to. It’s not around anymore mind you, but most people never knew it even existed. It had no phone, to no reservations and had no name. Some may argue, the humble establishment does not count as a restaurant at all.

The word “restaurant,” according to the American heritage Dictionary, is simply a “place where food is served.” Modernly we may update that to include “…and to make a profit.” For us, the philosophers of food we place an added adverb into the equation, the notion of excellence. The same Dictionary thus defines ‘excellence’: “…anything becoming perfect or on a path to attain perfection.”

When talking about my notion of a restaurant or the “craft” (in this case cooking) I often quoted Charlie Trotter who said, loosely: that one should always strive for perfection, in everything one does all the time, because, while actual temporal perfection is impossible, you would be closer to it than anyone else, because most people “don’t even try.” “Excellence in all you do.” My favorite restaurant in the world is long gone but still very alive in my memories; I can smell it, feel it, hear it… it wasn’t in Miami, Tokyo, Paris or even Manhattan but it did embody excellence in its every shape and form.

Abuela

My Grandma

My mother raised me single, in the sense that she worked and my new step-father did also.She dropped me off at my grandmother’s (paternal) front-stoop every morning, in an ordinary neighborhood, in Puerto Nuevo, Puerto Rico. New Port (its anglicized name) was  a run-of-the mill “becoming too commercial” type of place, abuela (grandma), had a house she owned since the fifties and paid only “five-thousand dollars for… imagine that!” she reminded me constantly. Like a good devout Catholic home, Jesus hung on every wall like torches in a medieval castle, looking and peering onto its sinning inhabitants.

Weekends were quite special, every Friday afternoon my tía (aunt) Pepa and her sister tía Mariíta would drop by, these were legitimately aunts, but as the day progressed several other honorary aunts, stopped by. They were all jovial, caring, loving but one in particular stood out in my mind. Titi Mendoza was a round, thick, dark woman with the biggest breasts I had ever seen. She had a knack for pinching my cheeks and when she hugged me she suffocated me deep in her bosom (possibly cementing an ‘idea-fixée’ I suffer from to this day), but, as we say in the hood, it was all good.

The women kissed, hugged and said hello and my grandma would start making coffee. One of the various aunts would start setting the table while yet another cut the queso blanco (white farmer’s cheese) and another set-up a plate of Ritz crackers and candied papaya chunks. This was often my grandfather’s cue to leave the house for an afternoon stroll to escape the squawking about to begin, or simply take his hand-held radio to the back of the house outside and fall asleep on the hammock. The regal women drank their café con leche (creamy milky sweet coffee), nibbled on cheese and crackers and caught up. After my fill of candied papaya, coffee and crackers I normally retired to the couch until things got more exciting. Sometime at around four they would get up, clean and make their way to the garden. By garden I am being incredibly generous, Puerto Nuevo was a fully urbanized suburb and surrounded by houses on all side, the garden was merely patches of dirt in a cramped back yard… nevertheless my grandmother to me it was an enchanted place where my grandmother gathered nearly everything she needed to create culinary magic: oregano, culantro, limes, sour oranges, and gandules or pigeon peas. Once the weekly harvest was over, the huddled mass returned to the dining room where under the gaze and watchful eye of a green-robed Jesus, they began to pick, chop, and mix.

Sorrullos (center) flanked by Empanadillas (P.Rican 'empanadas')

 

As night came these ladies did nothing but work; my grandmother busied herself rolling fat cigar-shaped dumplings of cornmeal, surullos, stuffed with meat or cheese that were later fried (in lard, of course). Titi Mendoza busy shucking pigeon peas and making the cod-fritter, bacalaito, batter would spread the latest church gossip “El padre (the priest), well, Annita says she saw him, smoking at the liquor store buying some rum…” she would say, eyebrows raised as the rest of the women shook their heads in obvious disapproval. Titi Mariíta was my grandmother’s surullos-auxiliary while Titi Pepa shaped the taro and green banana fritters, alcapurrias. These are tricky, as the taro and green bananas are shredded and made into a runny and sticky batter which needs to handled just so in order to be shaped correctly. But these women were pros. Over the melodramatic background music of Latin soap-operas, the Caribbean breeze lazily blowing through the window-screens, and Jesus incessant gaze, no one broke so much as a sweat. The effortless mastery and efficiency of these ladies’ craft would surely make any white-robed television-show-famous-master-chef blush.

Sunday was the day that the cooking and prepping frenzy of the last two days finally bore fruit, almost literally. Sunday, like in all good ole Catholic centers, was Church-Day but Church was only part of it. The true miracle of the day was not on the altar, but what came after it: lunch. You see these aunts, along with several other of the church-women, ran the little cafeteria attached to the church where the pious Catholics of the local neighborhood congregation stuffed their newly-sanctified faces after mass, along with other locals who had picked-up on the event. This little Creole-outpost had no name; locals here simply called it “La Cafeteria.”

To me this was the heaven all those saints and the angels raved about—this after all these years, after formal culinary training, stints in the kitchens of Manhattan and Miami, and traveling the world eating at some of the planets culinary Meccas… that little dingy cafeteria was and is to me, to this very day, the “perfect restaurant”. The cafeteria was not much from the outside (in fact without the food it wasn’t much on the inside either); it was a plain white concrete box with an odd-cornflower-blue hedge. Inside on the right-hand side, were white scuffed linoleum counters, a cash register and a large rickety glass warmer case that kept the fritters nice and hot. Behind the counters amassed a team, a homegrown brigade that would have made Carême red with envy: busy, courteous, and perfectionists- every single one of them. Carême, however would have been baffled, no grill, salamander, flat-top, nothing… just big pots, with a whole lotta boiling fat.

 

Fried Puerto Rican Goodness...

The second you walked in the smell of various hand-crafted morsels frying in hot lard hit you right in the face, now, to most Americans this doesn’t seem very appealing, but to Hispanics, African Americans, and the odd-Filipino, a mere waft would have had them flat on the floor, face down, in their own drool.  Where’s the excellence you say? It was in the small things. These ladies knew everyone, from behind the counter and over their large caldrons of bubbling fat they asked hungry patrons, most of them neighbors, about their families, their jobs, and their lives. When they ran out of a particular fritter that a certain person never got to taste, one of them ran-off to their house to fetch a morsel or two from the stash they had reserved for themselves and hand deliver it, piping hot, to the person who had asked for it. The money came in, fritters went out. My grandmother’s surrullos, glistening in the halls flickering fluorescent lights looked like fat golden fingers and were the craze of the joint. I certainly nearly made myself sick eating so many of them.

 

Ultimately the church band would set themselves up in a corner and music would begin to fill the joint soon followed by large gyrating bodies, many of them, still clutching their food in their hands. By four everyone dispersed and every so often the fryers were turned back on for someone who wanted a third or eighth serving of something, the ladies all too happy to oblige. This was not fine dining, it didn’t have to be, this was the energy a restaurant should have and what it can be, and yet, seldom is. Looking back at it now, that feeling, the intimacy, the kindness… that was excellence, excellence in its purest form. No one went home hungry, and between the orgy of dance and food, no one ever went home unhappy. This kitchen, these ladies, that caferiíta and that food, I’d throw unto any of those overrated chefs in cities like New York and Paris and say “this is perfection.”

Basics of a the Young Gentleman’s Wardrobe and Style

This guy's cool...Why are so many men (Americans and their Pacific counterparts, Australians, especially) so sartorially -backwards? Or, to put it bluntly, fashion retarded? The response is obviously a multifaceted and complex one, and therefore not one we’re going to get into in here.

For starters, culture i.e. “civility” and the trappings thereof, have relaxed quite a around the world, but especially in the land of the free and the home of the brave ( see the morons in pajamas on any domestic airline)—standard uniforms that once set a person aside from his or her neighbor became increasingly homogenous, goods became cheaper and consumers reacted by simply wanting them to be cheaper still (bless us). Add to that our good-ole American nature to be a bit slobbish and you have a recipe for disaster. Enter cheap retailers selling square-cut baggie clothes with absolutely no respect for style, size or dimension. I’m thinking of Gap and Old Navy, Target, etc.

But does that mean a man has to spend a week’s salary on a pair of pants and a shirt? No. There is a big difference here, and that is the difference between fashion and style. Fashion and style go hand in hand but are not mutually exclusive.

Fashion is shaped by the world around is, it is trends and runway shows while style is an inherent part of who we are. It is inside of us and cannot be marketed (the way the penchant for young men in white belts running amok in Italy in 2004 became a global sensation in 2006 when every fashion house had half-naked models in white belts strutting their stuff and made billions in sales of white leather belts). The fact that perhaps you could pull off a white belt tastefully PRIOR to that attests for a certain sense of style.

I belive most people (MOST) have a sense of style. For some of us it is bubbling right at the surface, for others it is buried deep within. For most men its somewhere in between. But if you have always work sneakers/trainers, shirts that were two sizes two big and baggy jeans then it doesn’t all come naturally to shift into proper-sizes and slimmer silhouettes. For this a man needs to know a bit about fashion. By this I don’t mean knowing whom John Galliano is or that Mr. Burberry invented the trench. But he does need to know some basics and that knowledge is informed, not inherent.

Many of today’s sartorial laws (not rules, they can be broken) have been passed down to us from a long line of history’s quirks, needs and hundreds of years of, mostly, English men’s sartorial wisdom and tradition. Of course, Italians have made a big impression on the fashion landscape as of the last twenty years and that cannot be ignored and moreover Italy has bequeathed to Italian men’s fashion the ability of a man to be sexy and still dress like a gentleman (not a dandy).

To develop your own sense of style one must understand certain basics of a “Gentlemen’s Style” as well as the basics one must live by (i.e. how to tie a knot, the idea of pocket squares, types of shoes, the proper blazer etc etc etc. )

This is what Italian men called “Sartoria” the art of dressing like a gentlemen. In the year 2009 that certainly doesn’t mean a three-piece suit (although current runway shows and a Madmen hysteria would say otherwise) but it does mean donning a look that is classic yet modern and up to date, flattering, and unique.

The ultimate goal? To look good and dress well because it feels good and allows you to express your sartorial individuality (plus the girls like it!).

You may just be coming out of college and need a wardrobe updgrade to get you knee-deep into the adult workd of an ovvice and real responsabilities. Perhaps you are a late-bloomer and want to trade in your baggy grunge look for something more sophisticated. Maybe, you;ve started to read GQ and Details and your girlfriend likes the rsults. Whatever the reason this small top-ten is for you.

If you had NOTHING in your closet and a bit of cash to burn then the following are a gentlemen’s must haves as basics to his primordial wardrobe. They key here is “classic” and therefore timeless.

Keep in mind: for the young man ‘cut’ is everything, this means higher armholes, slimmer arms and legs, lower rise on pants etc. no baggy, no square. If your hefty, such touches actually makes you look slimmer, so chill.

Ten items a man needs in his wardrobe                                                (in no particular order):

1) A plain white oxford (a white button long-sleeve shirt)

Why– because it is and will be the most versatile piece of clothing you will ever own. Wear it with shorts, jeans, slacks and a blazer you name it you got it… it’s also easy to accessorize (which isn’t a bad or “gay” term, think of it as “pimpin” your look) with a vest, jacket or sweater. Remember, no logos!

  • The Basic: J. Crew, Zara or Topshop
  • The Classic: Brooks Brothers (slim-fit), Hugo Boss, Banana Republic
  • The Upgrade: Lanvin, Zegna, Charvet
White Oxford Shirt

"The Shirt"

  • The Next Step: Other colored shirts

2) A Navy blazer (sans the brass buttons)

Why– because it is a classic and never goes out of fashion and adapts to a million different styles. Remember that oxford above? With a slim cut plain one or two-button navy blazer and jeans, with white or khaki pants and a polo or simply with a t-shirt and shorts, whatever the style or occasion the navy blazer has a place.

There are some things to keep in mind: thin face, thinner lapels, rounder face, and bigger lapels. Keep the first navy blazer a simple basic one; i.e. single-breasted, little to NO shoulder pads, slimmer cut so that there is a just a bit of tension in the middle button (the one that aligns closer to your belly button) and is of a material that can be worn year-round. Nothing fancy on this one. Most blazers come with brass buttons, but they are meant to replaced, do so.

  • The Basic: J. Crew, Zara or Theory
  • The Classic: Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger
  • The Upgrade: Dunhill, Burberry, Tom Ford
The Navy Blazer

The Navy Blazer

  • The Next Step: Slim double-breasted as well as lighter cotton-versions

3) Kakhis (the non-pleated or baggy type)

Why– They are the quintessential pant-on-jeans in America. Because you need something that’s less scratchy and a bit more “breezy” than jeans. Kakhis can come in two ways; relaxed and washed as well as dressy; you’re better served, initially, with a casual pair that you can throw on with a t-shirt and sweater or with a button shirt, whatever you do goes well with khakis as they are versatile and get better with every wash. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD forget pleats, no pleats, ever at all.

  • The Basic: J. Crew, Gap, Dockers (they have a new slim fit, flat-front line)
  • The Classic: Ralph Lauren, Seven for all Mankind, Rogan
  • The Upgrade: John Varvatos, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace
The Khakis

The Khakis

  • The Next Step: White chinos, cords and other pants…

4) Brown loafers (without tassels)

Why– because a man needs good brown shoes and more often than not brown shoes are more cutting edge and cool than staunch and dressy. Leave the “fancy” shoe category for black shoes (and for the evenings), at least initially, and use your brown shoes to show a bit more of personality and flair. Loafers or drivers are perfect for this, they’re relaxed and casual but can be dressed up with a brown or blue suit (not drivers through) or worn with kakhis or jeans in the summer (and ditch the socks)

  • The Basic: J. Crew, Aldo, Zara
  • The Classic: To Boot, Kenneth Cole, Mezlan
  • The Upgrade: Tod’s, Gucci, Berlutti
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The Brown Shoes

  • The Next Step: Berlutti custom made shoes

5) Black Oxfords

Why– because you need proper shoes. I adhere to the standard that brown shoes are for the day, black is for the evening. While sleek slip-on black shoes seem quite stylish your first true pair of shoes should/need to be black. The “oxford” happens to be the most popular style (we can get into what makes an oxford an oxford versus other styles, but that’s another post). Black, leather, laces. That’s it, no bits, no bling, no pebbled or snake-skin finishes. Black, leather, laces. Avoid square and chunky, particularly if you have small feet.

  • The Basic: Zara, Kenneth Cole, Bruno Magli
  • The Classic: Gucci, Peal and Co., Church’s, Allen Edmonds
  • The Upgrade: Vogel, Zegna, Jon Lobb
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The Black Shoe

  • The Next Step: Pebble-grain and other leathers as well as pricey black slip-ons and patent leather for when you need to wear a tux

5) Nice Jeans

Why– because most guys don’t have “nice jeans” they have either dad-jeans or a torn mongrel version that was undoubtedly “weathered” off the peg and pricey. By nice I also mean a straight-fit cut (even if you have big thighs or are on the heavier side, it’s ok, they stretch and make you look slimmer). By nice I do not mean: designer, pricey, welted, worsted or full of bling. Personally, go to the denim guys, I will never wear a pair of jeans that’s not Levi’s; they’re the denim people, jeans is what they do. Oh, and by nice, I mean dark-ish blue and fairly even wash (you know, they type you’d wear with a nice grey jacket, a white oxford and a tie).

  • The Basic: Gap
  • The Classic: Levis
  • The Upgrade: Diesel, 7 for all Mankind, Dolce & Gabbana
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The Jeans

  • The Next Step: ?

6) A Grey Suit

Why– because this (and a navy one) are really the only suits you need (initially). A grey suit is incredibly versatile as you can use just the jacket as a blazer with jeans (See above) or the trousers as grey pants should you want to not get too dressed up. A grey suit works for the day (light blue oxford, a tie and brown shoes) as well as for the evening (white oxford shirt, slim black tie and black shoes) and so it is extremely versatile. It really does not get any better. I belive in paying for suits i.e. upwards of 500USD but alas there is hope. Treat it nice and keep it away from the dry cleaners! Steam if you must and give it a day’s rest between each use. Light wool for all seasons is a best bet, not too light a color however.

  • The Basic: Zara, J.Crew, Banana Republic
  • The Classic: Brook’s Brothers, Massimo Dutti, Hugo Boss
  • The Upgrade: Phineas Cole, Freeman’s Sporting Club, Zegna
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The Grey Suit by Freeman's Sporting Club, NYC

  • The Next Step: Custom: Tom Ford anyone? As well as other fun stuff like Prince of Wales check.

7) Linen Pocket Square

Why– because it’s all in the details. Okay, this one seems a bit foppish (i.e. gay) but really it’s not. A nicely folded pocket square sends a message, you care about the details, you neat, clear, organized and understand what you’re about… and because it’s not some pink and blue polka-dotted mess pouring out of your jacket pocket it does not say that your vane and affected.

  • Where to find: Brooks Brother’s, Nordstroms, J.Press
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The White Handkerchief

  • The Next Step: Silk

8) Four Well-thought-out ties

Why– because there are still places that call for proper decorum and a tie does not have to be a hassle nor an afterthought and can be a reflection of who you are. With the exception of black or white, ties should never be a solid color especially if they are of a similar shade to the color for the shirt you are wearing. Forget dumpster diving for ties, a huge selection of great ties exists at most specialty retailers and vintage stores are also a great resource. If ties are a new thing for you, avoid prints or anything too fancy and start off with stripes. Repp (stripes) ties hearken back to the regimented days of prep-school for a small percent of the population but for most of us they are nice, easy to wear and match easily to a wide array of situations and looks. The overall width of a tie, like lapels, have to be in relation to the overall width of your face so if your’re a skinny dude a huge and wide tie that covers your entire mid-section is a bad idea! Too slim a tie and you look like a druggy rocker or Hedi Slimane’s midnight fantasy, somewhere in the middle is good.

  • The Basic: Gap, Gant, Zara, American Eagle Outfitters
  • The Classic: Brooks Brothers, J Press, J Crew
  • The Upgrade: Alexander Olch, Phineas Cole, Ralph Lauren Purple Label
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The Tie(s) by Alexander Olch

  • The Next Step: Bespoke ties by Alexander Olch. Cool prints, and cashmere numbers…

9) A V-Neck sweater (okay two)

Why– because it’ll be one of the most reliable items of clothing you own. Jeans and a white shirt is one thing but throw on it a v-neck sweater and it smartens the look considerably. While traveling it becomes a useful go-to companion for cool airplane cabins and can add quite a bit of looks when packed with a suit, kakhis, jeans and a couple shirts as it can be works with a suit for a formal put together look in chili weather and yet can be worn with chinos and or jeans. Merino wool and above, anything else will levae a ton of ‘stuff’ and lint on your shirts, wear it around the house a bit so it looses a lot of the fiber’s filaments and doesn’t put you in an embarrassing situation when a lint-brush is nowhere to be found. Cashmere is nice if you can afford it but plenty of reliable merino wool and cashmere-cotton blends are available. Have fun with colors although initially stick to grey and navy, or black and navy (but remember, black at night only and not with another black jacket or shirt, unless you are going for a dot-com millionaire artistic look) and stick to non-chunky sweaters.

  • The Basic: Zara, J. Crew, Gant
  • The Classic: John Varvatos, Burberry, Gilded Age
  • The Upgrade: Zegna, Hermes, Dior
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The V-Neck by J.Crew

  • The Next Step: colors, prints, chunks etc; and cashmere cashmere cashmere.

10) A Cotton Polo Shirt (or 20)

Why– Because it’s timeless and about the most versatile item in your wardrobe… ever. There is nothing better than a polo, they come in short sleeves, long sleeves, light cotton, warm cotton, pique, plain, clean, vintage and in every color imaginable. Personally, should you have $80 in your pocket I’d say go for the all-time classic Lacoste Polo (they guys who invented it) as a good old fashioned Lacoste can go with anything, shorts, jeans, chinos, linen pants, swim trunks, under a jacket to dress down a suit or with trousers with a blazer for a Sunday afternoon. Whatever the occasion nothing beats a polo. Moreover they pack easily into a small carry on and are the perfect thing to go into a weekend bag. It doesn’t start an end with Lacoste, there are hundreds of Polo Shirts out there but I like the original. Buy them, buy a lot of them, in as many colors as possible and rotate them well, dry clean if you want to keep the colors bright or in cool water to develop a soft patina.

  • The Basic: J. Crew, Gap, Polo by Ralph Lauren
  • The Classic: Lacoste
  • The Upgrade: Zegna, Brook’s Brothers, Etro
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The Lacoste Polo