My Two Bits: The Fashion Mullet

Let’s discuss the ever ubiquitous blazer or suit jacket and jean combination. What the f*** are you trying to say? Business up top and rebel below the belt?

I am a big fan of today’s more free approach to dressing.  However, before you break the rules, you should have a general understanding of the rules.  Every day I see men in denim and a suit jacket or blazer – more often than not, an ill-fitting jacket and bad denim.  Surprisingly, the fit does not piss me off as much as the mixing of these two looks.  I mean for Christ’s sake, it’s a fashion mullet – business up top, rebel down low.

You may feel differently, but allow me to explain why this look is so wrong.  First and foremost, denim is rebellious and steeped in blue-collar history.  The blazer or suit jacket is the opposite.  When paired together, the look is confusing, contrived, and uncertain.  It is like a cowboy wearing a tailored suit while out on the range – yes, stupid.  Would you use ketchup in place of tomato sauce?  Again, stupid.

I do get what the guy is trying to attempt.  I am a big believer that a man should wear a jacket, but it has to be the right jacket.  Go out and find a more casual looking jacket, unconstructed with natural shoulders, and on the shorter side.  Make sure it fits right and get a pair of jeans that fit perfectly.  And with regard to the denim fit, make sure to think of the type of shoes you plan to wear.  Go to a tailor and have them fit the jeans accordingly.

With regard to the denim, a clean wash, no holes because if you are pairing with a jacket, try to look balanced.  I love beat up denim, but that’s better paired with a real leather jacket or cool bomber.  Yes, I get it, you made a bunch of money in some tech startup or whatever and you don’t care.  That’s well and good but you still look like a douchebag.  Like the old saying, money ain’t never bought no one any class; I mean, just take a look at Trump.

And guys stop wearing denim when you are dining.  A few simple rules one should adhere to when dining.  Do not wear jeans if the restaurant has linens and white tablecloths.  Avoid denim if you will be eating with a knife and fork.  Never wear denim if the joint has a sommelier and you plan on drinking wine.  If you are at Applebee’s, hell wear a tank, ripped denim, flip-flops… nobody cares.

Something to ponder: Dressing for the occasion always elevates the occasion.

 

Lessons In Style From: Jude Law

One of England’s finest exports, Jude Law has brought his classically British gentleman look stateside. He’s played a variety of roles from Russian sniper to Dr. Watson – yet only a few of these characters have had any real impact on his personal style. He has a charming, yet approachable appeal to his clothes that is casual enough for any occasion.

Here’s what we here at VK Nagrani have been able to glean from Hollywood icon Jude Law:

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1. Blazer & Tee

Jude has a great eye for tees and blazers, as seen above. He approaches formalities with the idea that tailoring be sharp, comfortable and chic as hell. While he isn’t necessarily known for being an icon of fashion – he never looks bad. His outfits tend to consist of a quality cut jacket or luxury wool trousers.

The idea here is to maximize both look and comfort.

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2. Go Bald in Style

Losing your hair isn’t something you can control, but how you handle it is well within your grasp. Jude is handling it with style. He likes to cover up the hairline every once and a while, but for the most part embraces it. When he does decide to don a headdress, he usually goes for a black beanie that is very Brooklyn in personality.

The beanie is emblematic of his cool and casual persona when worn with a suit (a well-tailored suit, obviously), but he dons the beanie equally well wandering around the boroughs on an autumn day layered with a cashmere cardigan, cotton tee, and bundled scarf close to the chest.

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3. Leather Vintage

Like a young Marlon Brando or James Dean, Jude can take a simple look like the basic trouser/tee combination and make it sing. Heavy cotton or wool chinos add some heft to the ensemble and a tucked-in, muted gray V-neck complete the look.

But the real credit here goes to the leather jacket. Bomber style with ribbed hem and sleeves – modified to modernize and sharply bring the fit in. He looks ready to ride around like a rebel without a cause.

Jude Law’s appeal is that he is calm, cool and understated in fashion sense. Keep it bookmarked to the VK Nagrani Blog for more Lessons in Style editions.

 

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Style Lessons From: Gary Cooper

He was born at the start of the 20th century to immigrant parents, Gary Cooper went on to be one of the biggest and brightest stars of Old Hollywood. He began his work as an extra in silent films and rose to fame by using his style and good looks as a way of standing out. He began to encompass what it meant to be the “everyman against the world” – taking roles in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Meet John Doe and Sergeant York. Gary Cooper was great at portraying the subtle conflicts the average man goes through in his life, yet with a dash of debonair that is singular all to himself.

Keep reading to see some of the key lessons we here at VK Nagrani learned from the hero of Old Hollywood himself – Gary Cooper.

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1. Create a Focal Point

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Here Cooper is with grey flannel trousers and signature striped socks, with a gorgeous narrow and low point collar. Cooper was a fan of large lapels, the popularity of which comes and goes with the trends, but the man knew to accentuate the focal point of his outfit and really make it his own signature style.

You can think about the focal point of your outfit as the cherry on a sundae, or putting a diamond on a platinum ring. You’re probably already looking really good, but this is going to be a little bit of something more to really seal in that look. For men, these focal points are usually the combination of your tie and a matching lapel.

Cooper was born to English immigrant parents, but was raised in Helena, Montana – a frontier town at the time. This mash up of cultures gave him a pretty unique perspective on style. Growing up in a cowboy frontier town, he was exposed to the the bold and vibrant Mexican fabrics that were commonplace among ranchers. On the other side of his genealogy, Cooper was raised with elements of Edwardian England and was just as comfortable in tweed and three-piece suits. He was a man who loved to mix different textures, colors and patterns in a way that only he could pull off.

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2. Personality is Key

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When looking back at the heroes of Old Hollywood, none of them are revered merely for their ability to dress well. Back in his day, the popularity of having personal make up artists, stylists and costume designers was only just beginning and stars of his caliber often would dress themselves. This is a far cry from the stars of today, who are constantly being primped and done up by other people based on what is trending right now, instead of paving the way themselves by being unique and bold.

Gary Cooper is lauded for his style, but more so than that, he is remembered for what he represented – moral integrity and a steep aversion to excess. Cooper was the iconic embodiment of what the everyman of his time was – understated, elegant yet retaining a simple masculinity that was both elusive to the common person, but still very attainable if you were willing to be bold.

Keep reading the VK Nagrani Blog to see more Lessons in Style from legends of the past.

 

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Lessons In Style From: Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake has been in the spotlight since his Mickey Mouse Club days, and it shows in the way he dresses. When you spend that much time in the public sphere, you learn quite a bit about the way you should hold yourself together, through demeanor and style.

From Disney to N*SYNC to his mega-successful solo music career and Hollywood film roles, Justin Timberlake is someone to learn from. Check out VK Nagrani’s Lessons in Style takeaways to be learned from Justin Timberlake.

1. Learn to Layer

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Justin is a mastermind when it comes to layering individual pieces of clothing to compile an ensemble look. One of his older tricks, which has become pretty commonplace at this point in style history, is to match hoodies under a great looking jacket – bombers are really “in” right now. Even if he’s just wearing a pattern sweater with a clean shirt underneath with well-fitted pants, he knows that dressing well is using many tools to build a great look.

2. Integrate a Hat

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While incorporating hats into your look is nowhere near a new concept, Justin has mastered the casual yet slightly tailored look, and this shows in his hat choices. JT will use the hat as it is supposed to be used, as an accessory – not the focal point of the outfit. It is integrated into his ensemble, not the centerpiece. Typically, Justin will go for the fedora, but if that’s not your thing you should try playing around with a couple of different styles of hat.

Throw your personality into the mix. Style isn’t possible without personality.

3. Unexpected Elements

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Justin has a unique personality, and his look completely reflects that about him. He has a way of creating a look that seems thrown together, yet is not contrived or outlandish. He maintains an effortless look by adding one or two unexpected elements into his style, which keep him from being stale, stuffy or unoriginal. Some of his favorite accessories include adding a pair of sneakers to a well-tailored suit, dog-tag jewelry, hats, or army boots with jeans.

Justin Timberlake is a true American treasure that will be remembered for his vibrant personality, approachability, and overall effortless cool. These features about him, above his personal style, are the keys you need to attain a timeless look. The number one lesson to learn from Justin is to not be afraid to let your personality shine. Justin does it every day, and he used to bang Brittney Spears, so there’s that.

Keep it bookmarked to the VK Nagrani Blog for more updates in our Lessons in Style series.

 

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Lessons In Style From: Gianni Versace

It is very unlikely that you’ve made it to the VK Nagrani blog without being tangentially aware of the brand Versace and its patriarch, Gianni Versace. The man was a powerhouse in the fashion world, and his love and curiosity for what he did fueled his empire. With big name celebrities like Madonna, the Artist (Formerly Known as Prince), Elton John, and Cher as his closest compatriots, it is no wonder that he was the first person in the fashion world to link the music industry. Something that had never been previously done before Gianni Versace.

You don’t become the biggest name in fashion without coming with a few admirable and reputable qualities. Here are a couple lessons in style that can be gleaned from Gianni Versace’s personality.

1. Love What You Do

Son to a seamstress and dressmaker, Gianni Versace was born into the fashion world. He nurtured a love of the industry through an apprenticeship at his mother’s shop. It was here that he really developed a strong love for design, which propelled him to study architecture during his time at university.

“I believe in style,” he said and let his imagination fly, designing clothes for those people he said he liked: individuals with a free sense of style. Inspired by Greek art, Alexander Calder, and Andy Warhol, he created beautiful, flamboyant gowns experimenting with materials such as leather, plastic, and metal.

2. Protect Your Friends

Versace was known to protect his friends from media abuse and give them refuge in one of his many homes. He was intrigued by what was going on in the mainstream media and with the personal lives of celebrities – who often returned the favor with lavish gifts and expensive items. Woody Allen offered him a role in one of his next films.

”I think he had a natural movie star personality, because he had such a large and generous presence,” Woody Allen spoke of Versace.

3. Always Keep Learning

Gianni Versace always had an intense curiosity for the world around him and used it to influence his work. Many of his contemporaries, once having made a name for themselves in the industry, would stick to the looks that made them famous. But Versace was constantly absorbing works of art and incorporating them into his pieces –be it the three-dimensional mobiles of Alexander Calder that he translated into couture dresses, the Byzantine mosaics he used as prints, or the hard leather punk look.

Gianni Versace was an innovator and leader in the world of fashion and love or hate his clothes, he had a heavy hand in bringing celebrities into the fold of style. He was a bold personality who was constantly learning, standing up for what he thought was right, and trying to break the mold. He was never comfortable standing still and always had to be pushing the envelope to create bigger, bolder statements.

Keep posted to the VK Nagrani Blog to see more lessons that can be learned from style icons!

 

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Lessons In Style From: Paul Newman

When you think about classic Hollywood cool, a few names come to mind—and somewhere at the top of that pantheon of exemplary looking men is Paul Newman. A cut above the rest in both appearance and personality, he was an Academy Award winning actor, director, environmentalist, activist, philanthropist, race car driver, and is even the face of a damn fine line of salad dressing. His company Newman’s Own, actually donates all proceeds to charity, so far having donated nearly 430 million dollars to various charities.

For many in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Newman was the epitome of cool, having starred in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Cool Hand Luke” (a movie literally named after his innate coolness), and “The Hustler.” On and off-stage, Paul had an impressive resume, but we’re here to look at his contributions to the world of men’s fashion.

Take a look at what VK Nagrani has to say about Paul’s style and its influence.

1. A Suit That Fits

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Not many men could pull off a suit quite like Paul Newman. He knew very intimately how a well tailored suit complemented his form. Notice how in the picture above he goes for a single-breasted jacket with wide padded shoulders that accentuate his athletic build. The slim, squared-off tie completes a look that impresses in the office or dazzles on a night out on the town.

2. Bold Jackets

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Paul had a pretty broad selection of unconventional jackets and coats that only added to his own particular brand of anti-establishment cool. He was a racecar driver, so he would often incorporate racer jackets into his look. In the picture above, he’s in his natural habitat: cool and nonchalant, smoking a cigarette and not really looking all that interested, with a flight jacket suggesting he could take off at any moment. Paul also had an extensive collection of army jackets that would throw some new interest into the classic jeans-and-boot ensemble of the time.

3. Wear a Watch. At. All. Times.

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For men, the range of jewelry that is typically acceptable is limited almost exclusively to the watch, and at times, cufflinks. A wristwatch is a handsome accessory and can be used to illustrate style, taste and status. Paul had a watch for every occasion, and this is something that we should factor into our daily style as well. From the picture above you can see his informal style, a well-fitted Oxford dress shirt under a deep V-neck pullover, some casual jeans and a wristwatch with a nice leather band accentuating the entire look.

There was something special and raw about Paul Newman. He didn’t have the shattering and unequivocal heat of his contemporary Marlon Brando, nor the unabashed smolder of his junior, James Dean. Rather, Paul Newman was somewhere in the middle, in a world that is ambivalent and uninvolved with what anyone thinks.

Keep tabs on the VK Nagrani Blog for more fashion lessons we can learn from our icons of yesteryear.

 

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Lessons In Style from: Humphrey Bogart

When watching a Humphrey Bogart picture, you can’t help but feel this innate sense of what “cool” used to be in a time now long passed. He was pretty late to the game: 37 by the time of his first big role, and 41 before he received any acclaim for his work. In his early days, he was typecast as the original gangster type, but something else emerged from his performances.

He was believable as a down-and-out drinker and roustabout, but there was something distinctly uptown about his demeanor, as if perhaps in another life he came from money, but now it’s gone with no clear way home and he’s going to sit in this gin joint and simmer until something changes. Whether he was acting as a detective or a crook, Bogart was always convincing on both sides of the law.

With that said, it’s pretty easy to see why we at VK Nagrani think Humphrey Bogart oozes cool and is rife with a few style lessons.

1. The Bowtie is Cool

ca. 1949 --- Humphrey Bogart in the movie . --- Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

When thinking about rough-and-tumble, hard-boiled, hard-drinking, antihero detective types, you probably aren’t imagining a patterned bowtie. Yet, it shows that the bowtie is not only for Doctor Who cosplayers, and that bold, fearless swagger can make just about any style look good.

2. Standout with a White Tux

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It looks like it might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship when Bogart paired a bright white tuxedo with a simple black bowtie to create the look that sets his “Casablanca” character Rick Blaine apart from the patrons in his club. It’s an iconic look that hasn’t changed much in the seventy-something years since the film came out. It’s a daring leap that only some can pull off, but Bogart makes it seem so very simple.

3. Simple Can Look Great Too

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In his hit movie “The Big Sleep,” Bogart played Philip Marlowe, a man who presumably paid little attention to how he looked. Note the simple single breast jacket, the plain tie, the no-frills shirt. This combination took minimal effort to pull off and probably only cost him a few minutes gathering them from the store in haste to catch up with some crooks. The lesson here is simple: you don’t have to spend a lot of time complicating or adding to your wardrobe to have a great timeless look.

Humphrey Bogart was an exemplary man with confidence up to his mug. He knew what it meant to be comfortable. He was authentic.

It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a three-piece suit or a tee with blue jeans, if you’re uncomfortable with your clothes, it’s not a stretch to assume that you’re going to look uncomfortable to match. If you’re going to put the effort in to dressing better, make sure you can back it up with a cool, comfortable attitude that tells the world that “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Stay caught up with the VK Nagrani Blog to see more icons we can learn style lessons from.

 

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Lessons In Style From: Steve McQueen

There is no debating it: Steve McQueen is the King of Cool. His style has been a staple in men’s fashion since he first stepped onto the world stage, emulated time and again by men looking to ditch all the bullshit and cut straight to the core of style. In the last four decades, there hasn’t been another person to come along and dramatically impact what men wear as much as Steve McQueen.

But what exactly made him the standard-bearer for men’s clothing? VK Nagrani takes a look at some lessons in style to be learned from Steve McQueen below.

1. The Suit

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The suits McQueen sports in “The Thomas Crown Affair” are a perfect showcase of how a well-tailored suit can accentuate a role. He is every part millionaire businessman playboy. The broad cut of the shoulders in the jacket over the signature three-piece with square bottom waistcoat and perfectly dimpled tie. Combine all these things next to that hot car and you have a sophisticated outfit that oozes power.

2. Casual Weekend Wear

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In Old Hollywood, there was a certain masculinity that you don’t find anymore. Today’s celebs don’t walk the walk quite the way they used to. Steve McQueen looked like a badass because he was a badass. He was every bit as stylish on screen as he was off of it. In the above picture, you can see that with just the right pair of sunglasses you can turn a plain white tee into a bold—just-got-off-work-at-the-ass-kicking-factory—kind of look.

3. The Canadian Tux

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Double denim is notoriously hard to pull off, but with the confidence of a hundred honey badgers, Steve McQueen did it effortlessly. The secret is to use different shades of denim, so try a stonewash shirt and an indigo pair of jeans to create the contrast needed. Add some sturdy leather boots to create a rugged aesthetic that forces you to have to try to not look masculine.

4. Signature

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The most important lesson that can be taken away from Steve McQueen is to add your own signature to every look you create. Lightweight jackets are an essential part of the modern man’s ensemble, and you can see why up above. The navy Barracuta Harrington with a matching knit sweater underneath highlights the lining and creates the focal point of the entire look. His real signature was the Persol sunglasses he rocked in nearly every outfit he wore.

In the great Pantheon of Style Gods, Steve McQueen is Zeus. He took a look that has seemingly been around since the beginning of modern clothes and wore them in a way that has yet to be added to in any significant way.

Stay tuned to VK Nagrani’s Blog for more style lessons from legendary men!

 

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Lessons In Style From Cary Grant

Throughout history there have been exceptional men who’ve inspired us by the way they lead their lives and accomplish success. This is VK Nagrani’s Lessons In Style From Cary Grant.

Few gents have garnered the following and left an impression quite like Cary Grant. The Hollywood film actor appeared in over 70 films spanning a 30 year period, including popular roles in Penny Serenade and None but the Lonely Heart, for which gained him Best Actor Academy Award nominations. But people who’ve never seen a Cary Grant film still know about Cary Grant. They know him for his clean, classic look and unwaveringly gent style. While VK Nagrani and Cary Grant probably wouldn’t have seen eye to eye on all facets of men’s fashion, or men’s designer clothing, there are certainly some fashion lessons we can agree on.

Here are some gent fashion lessons from Cary Grant any aspiring gent needs to know:

1. Do Not Overbuy

Cary Grant once said regarding men’s fashion, “All it takes are a few simple outfits. And there’s one secret — the simpler the better.”

At VK Nagrani, we’ve preached this over and over, because, not only is it economical to buy quality-made items that’ll last, it’s an easy way to make sure your wardrobe doesn’t get bogged down with rubbish clothing you never feel like wearing.

Each article of clothing a gent owns should serve a specific, consistent purpose. From the belts you wear to the medium-sized lapel suits you sport, a gent’s wardrobe is no place for that piece you wear once a year. Go capsule. But go elegant. Be sophisticated. Your closet may look a bit barer because of your minimalized wardrobe, but you’ll know each and every piece plays a vital role to your gent style.

2. Lounge in Style

After a long day or week, gents need to relax. But true gents relax in sheer style. Put on some over-the-calf socks and a quality hand-sewn robe that doubles as a piece of art. The timeless, fashionable man defies normal standards. He relaxes with a hardcopy of The Times and enjoys a nice lowball of 15-year reserve bourbon. Cary Grant did indeed have it right.

3. Don’t Skimp on the Cufflinks

Nothing beats a tailored, navy tuxedo to exude confidence and suavity. But a mistake you don’t want to make is skimping or leaving the cufflinks home altogether. Whether you want to have eyes glued to you all night with a bold cufflink, or are looking for something a little more laid back, pair that tuxedo with a quality cufflink to put that exclamation point on your gentleman spirit.

4. Get an All-Purpose Top Coat                                                        

Depending on where you live, or often travel to, an everyday, all-purpose topcoat is as essential to your gentlemen aura as a pair of underwear is to simply getting dressed. A versatile topcoat isn’t too heavy or flashy. Simplicity, quality and versatility are the key components of the topcoat. It should accentuate your body lines and be able to be worn with formal wear like suits, or a more casual look of jeans and a t-shirt.