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PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Want Men’s Wear Advice from a Newsman? You’ve Gotta be Kidding! But Here Goes, Anyway

Posted by kinchendavid on September 5, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV  – I’ve been told that I’m often a spiffy dresser (spiffy?) especially compared to other veteran newspapermen. That’s not much of a compliment, since reporters often tend to be deliberately messy, with ties askew and shirttails hanging out. Director Ron Howard caught the look very well in his 1994 flick “The Paper” — an excellent movie about a day in the life of a New York City tabloid paper.

Be that as it may, what caught my eye the other day signing on to Hotmail was a left-rail headline “10 Things You Need…in Your Closet.” Here’s a link to the story:

http://men.msn.com/articlees.aspx?cp-documentid=808248&GT1=8572&wa=wsignin1.0

I have no complaint with the selection of items, just the cost of them in the piece, produced by fashion experts at Esquire magazine. It sounds a lot like a product placement ploy, combined with a plea to subscribe to Esquire for a year for $8 – which is a great deal. Remember, Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame got his start at Esquire in Chicago more than 50 years ago and look where he is now!

For guys on a real-life budget – especially those (you know who you are!) who’ve been told by their wives or girlfriends that a few new clothing items would be just the ticket – here’s my selection of basics, paralleling the list on MSN:

1) A white cotton Oxford dress shirt, $40 by Izod. I just bought a reduced-for-clearance blue-striped Van Heusen Oxford button-down cotton blend shirt for $7.95 at our local discount store, a regional competitor of Wal-Mart (OK, it’s Magic Mart and I shop there often). The shirt’s collar is a 17 and I usually wear 171/2, but I don’t intend to button the top button and I like the trimmer body cut of the 17. I have several Lands’ End cotton-blend trim fit shirts that are more than 20 years old and still perfectly wearable. They’re blends and can be obtained for half the cost of the Izod all-cotton one that’s going to need ironing. A good cotton-rich poly blend is my way of handling the situation. You can get the Lands’ End no-iron shirt for $19.50 or $25.00 for the tall (my preference).

2) A lightweight cashmere v-neck sweater, $178 by Banana Republic. This is good, but Lands’ End (is this beginning to sound like a commercial for L-E?) has a nice cashmere v-neck for $139. These sweaters are fine, but my preference is turtlenecks and I picked up three of them at the previously named discount store for a marvelous $4.99 each, in different colors. The cut is generous and the all-cotton turtles didn’t shrink when I washed them. They go well with jeans and chinos.

3) Esquire’s gurus suggest $174 sun glasses; since I wear glasses, I have photo-sensitive lenses that darken in the sun, plus a pair of rose-colored prescription glasses more than 20 years old.

4) Esquire suggests $178 jeans from Levi’s, a premium brand. Docker’s – a Levi’s company – makes decent wearable jeans for about a third of that, especially if you can shop at a TJMaxx or Filene’s Basement. When I lived in L.A., I was a regular at Ross Dress for Less in Tarzana, CA. Value City also is a good choice for men’s wear that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Regular department stores often have sales, too.

5) A pair of Zegna cedar shoe trees for $60 is great, but a discount-store pair for a fraction of that will do the trick. I like brand names but I hate to pay brand-name prices!

6) Ten bucks each for white T-shirts is too rich for my blood. The Calvin’s recommended by Esquire’s gurus are nice, but Fruit of the Loom floats my boat just as well, for about $10 for three of them. Many men prefer all cotton, but I like a cotton-poly blend.

7) Never heard of Tod’s shoes and $495 is too much money for black lace-up dress shoes. I have a pair of black wing-tips made by Clarks – a brand name that I’m familiar with because of their famous wallaby desert boots — with a rubber sole and heel combo that makes them as comfortable as walking shoes. I’ve had these shoes for at least 20 years, along with a matching pair in brown. I bought them at a now defunct big and tall men’s store in downtown L.A. (Eagleson’s) for about $30 a pair. They’re still good looking and comfortable. I checked out Clarks shoes on the Internet and they’re in the $80-$100 range. For a top-quality American-made shoe, it’s hard to beat Allen Edmonds, for $225 to $400 or so. Johnston Murphy shoes are great, too, and you can buy a nice dress shoe for about $170. Nothing wrong with Nunn-Bush, Rockport or Dexter – I’ve owned them all and my bare feet are currently occupying Dexter boat shoes as I write.

8) The guys at Esquire must think we’re made out of money, suggesting $1,510 for a Louis Vuitton leather overnight bag. Value City supplied mine, for about $60 and I don’t worry about it getting all banged up. It’s a Geoffrey Beene.

9) A three-button navy wool suit by Canali for $1,595 is also too rich for my blood. I prefer blazers, anyway and you-know-who from Dodgeville, WI (owned by Sears, so you can get some Lands’ End items at Sears) has plenty of choices if you don’t mind ordering by mail. I like the Lands’ End suit separates because I need a 46-long jacket, but not the big-waisted trousers that come with 46-long suits. Prices range from about $125 up to $300 or so, allowing you to buy a blazer, a Harris tweed jacket (a favorite of mine), a couple of pairs of trousers and a suit for about $1,000.

10) Jack Spade isn’t actor David Spade’s brother (that’s Andy Spade, husband of Kate) and his $95 medium-width tie is on the 10 necessities list. Jack, David and Andy (not to mention Kate) are rich enough. Pick up a nice silk tie for much less at a fashion-oriented place or order one from you know who for $30 to $60 (no, they’re not paying me for this story and I’m not getting a lifetime supply of goodies!).

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2 Responses to “PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Want Men’s Wear Advice from a Newsman? You’ve Gotta be Kidding! But Here Goes, Anyway”

  1. I appreciate the great advice, since it is I who dresses my husband. I have to admit, there is the BEST men;s store in the washington DC area, a well-kept secret…….it is called K & G men’s store, and they have the best of everything for very very low prices. We have gotten suits there, dress shirts, everything, as well as casual…..and they are the nicest people. Dress shirts (some tailored at the wasit) ususally run about $15-19 and they look like the ones that cost $50-60. The ties are out of this world, and what else can I say?

    I hear they have some women’s stores in the area, but haven’t been yet. They are online……NO I DO NOT WORK FOR THEM.

  2. OH, I MADE TYPOS BUT I AM ACTUALLY EDUCATED. TEE HEE.
    I like the way Glenn Beck dresses….and he says he picks his own clothes for his CNN show each night. Good for him.he refused to wear the $695 pants they tried to foist on him…

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