How To Wear Patterned Shirts

Whether you want to level up your business casual and weekend wardrobe or complement dressy looks, the right patterned shirt can do wonders. No matter if I’m dressing my clients formally or casually, I rely on patterned dress shirts to add both style and visual interest to whatever they’re wearing, and I’m going to show you how to do it so you look great – every time.

First, a quick word on formality.  While it’s not a hard and fast rule, in a basic sense, the bigger or bolder the pattern, the less formal the shirt is. For most of you dressing casually or in business casual, you’re home free, most patterns will definitely work. But, for some of you guys that work in more formal office environments or if you’re dressing up for a fancy wedding or evening event, keep in mind that the more subtle patterns will be much more appropriate. So now that we’ve got that established, let’s get some patterns in your life.

Stripes

Stripes can come in all manner of widths, from wide (sometimes known as Bengal stripes), to medium (pencil stripe), to thin (pinstripes) and since they tend to lean a bit more conservative, they’re also an easy place to start if you’re new to the game.

How Best To Wear Striped Shirts

As a general rule, the wider the stripe, the bolder the statement, and just like matching colors, the bolder the choice, the more simply you should approach the rest of your look. For casual and business casual looks, a simple pair of chinos or dark denim is a great option.  I also like stripes when worn with solid-colored or textured suiting and under a solid v-neck sweater with dress pants, denim, or chinos.

Checks

The world of checks is a wide one, but there’s no better way to add some instant personality to your shirt arsenal than with a few carefully chosen checked shirts.  There are many different options available, but, in my opinion, the three with the most versatility and style are windowpane, tattersall, and gingham. Both windowpane and tattersall feature types of graph patterns that can range in size and thickness and gingham goes one step further with a bolder, thicker check pattern that often combines a base color like white and one other color.

How Best To Wear Checked Shirts

As with stripes, the level of statement can vary, but my go-to rule remains, keep the rest of your look simple.  Dark-colored denim, chinos, and dress pants are the ticket, and if you’re going to dress them up, I recommend solid-colored suits and solid or subtle ties. On the tie front, I think geometrically patterned ties can look a bit too matchy-matchy with checked shirts, so be wary. Protip: for a less formal tie option, try a knit tie in a solid, complementing color. The texture and slightly less formal nature of a knit tie work really well with blazers, chinos, and denim for a dressy hybrid that’s great for business casual or a dressed-down Friday.

Geometric and Floral Prints

Now more popular than ever, print shirts are a great way to add a cool, modern edge to your casual looks and even suiting and dress clothes. Small-scale geometric prints are a great place to start if you want to keep it subtle but, I definitely recommend trying a bolder floral print too, it’s an easy, fun way to add a bit of stylish personality to your vibe.

How Best To Wear Geometric and Floral Prints

The printed shirt is all about letting the shirt do the talking, so I highly recommend denim or dark chinos in navy, tan or gray, especially if you’re going with a floral print, and finish with sneakers or loafers (I like driving mocs). Don’t be afraid to dress up a printed shirt too, pair it with a slim dark suit and some penny loafers or dressy leather sneakers for formal-but-not-stuffy settings like a cocktail party, fun summer wedding or night out. For a black belt-level move, try rocking the air tie (top button buttoned, no tie).

Plaids

When you’re talking plaid shirts, usually the pattern involves multiple colors and lines/boxes and the more things happening with the pattern (color, width, etc) the better suited the plaid will be to casual dressing. Be warned, though, it’s a slippery slope to full lumberjack hipster, so chop firewood at your own risk!

How Best To Wear Plaids

Ultimately these patterns are busy, and I recommend keeping plaids casual and subtle, so try them with denim, chinos, and shorts in solid colors, and finish them with shoes like sneakers or chukka boots. You can always “turn down the volume” of a plaid by layering it under a solid-colored sweater, lightweight jacket or pairing it with a dark-colored blazer in dressier situations.

Now that you’ve got some know-how and a few tips in your pocket, have confidence and make these patterns work for you! Your shirt rotation (and your wardrobe in general) are about to get an upgrade.

The Best Men’s White Sneakers For Every Budget

As you probably know by now, I’m a huge fan of a classic white sneaker, they’re just one of those essential items that every well-dressed man should have and wear regularly.  They’re the anchor of a solid casual wardrobe, especially during the Spring and Summer months. As I mentioned in a recent video, white sneakers aren’t one of those items that have any kind of age restriction and everyone can wear them, it just comes down to styling them correctly, with age-appropriate pieces.  Plus, the great thing is, no matter your budget, there’s a white sneaker out there for you.

The Budget-Conscious

Converse All Star – $40

Talk about classics, these guys have remained nearly unchanged since they were first introduced in the 1920’s, and for good reason, they’re simple, affordable, and versatile.  You can knock around in them all spring and summer (a BBQ, the bar, the beach, wherever) and not have to worry about wrecking something expensive.

Wear Them With

Since they’re made from canvas and are the most casual, wear them with just about everything from shorts and a t-shirt to your favorite pair of denim or chinos.

The Mid-Range

Adidas Stan Smith – $75

Also a classic athletic style from back in the day (tennis, this time around), Stan Smiths take it up a notch since they’re made from smooth leather.

Wear Them With

Obviously, they’ll work with all your casual stuff like shorts, t-shirts, and denim, but since they’re made from leather, don’t be afraid to dress them up a bit with dark denim and a polo or long sleeve button down shirt.

The High End

On the high-end/designer side, you’ll have more diverse choices. These are some of my favorites:

Common Projects Achilles – $400

Sure, $400 may seem like a lot for a pair of sneakers, but these are worth it, I promise.  Invest in them like you would your dress shoes because they’re crafted in Italy from incredibly high-quality Napa leather and are very durable.  In short, they’re well worth the price.

Saint Laurent Court Classic Sneakers – $495

If you’re looking for a stylish hybrid of Stan Smiths and Common Projects, look no further.  They also come in a bolder version if you’re looking for a little extra pop of color.

Valentino Flycrew Leather Sneaker – $695

Now, if you’re a little more adventurous and want to go with something truly unique, you definitely can’t go wrong with go with the Flycrew sneakers by one of my favorite Italian brands, Valentino.

Christian Louboutin Rantulow Leather Sneakers – $850

Ready to stand out? For the crème de la crème, and something you really won’t see on anyone else anyone else, grab these. I use them a lot with clients and they’re absolutely fantastic.

Wear Them With

These super-clean design all work really well with dark denim, t-shirts, and button downs, but the higher-end designs and nice leather are also elevated enough to wear with a dressed-down suit or blazer if you want to try a more fashion-forward look.

Now that you’ve got your white sneakers ready to go, don’t forget to keep ‘em clean! Here’s a quick video on how to do it right, it’s simple, quick and effective!

How To Wear and Match Colors Like A Pro

I know you’ve probably experienced that sense of dread as you’re standing in front of your closet, possibly pantless, definitely shirtless, thinking to yourself “How the hell do I figure out what shirts go with what pants?” or “How do I know which colors go well together?” So before you throw your hands in the air and wear your bathrobe to the office (not recommended, by the way), take a deep breath, I’ve got you. Here are a few of my foolproof strategies for wearing color; master them and in no time you’ll be looking sharp, feeling chill, and have your morning routine dialed in.

Keep It Simple

If you don’t know where to begin, I always say keep it simple. On the dressy side of things, that means starting with a solid white shirt and a neutral black, charcoal, or navy tie. No matter your suit or blazer color, a white shirt and one of the mentioned tie colors will work every time. On the casual side, the same holds true: a white shirt never fails. Whether it’s a basic button-down oxford, one dressed up with a blazer, sweater, or lightweight jacket for a night out, or a T-shirt paired with denim or chinos, the white shirt just works.

Go Monochromatic

Here’s another approach I like to use with my clients. Going monochromatic involves pairing different shades of the same color for a complete look. This is not only simple to execute, but it looks both cool and modern.

I recommend starting with blues or greys because they work best visually and are the easiest to execute with everyday pieces. By all means, throw in some subtle patterns (like in your shirt or tie) when layering to add a visually interesting element. I also like an all-black look, but the key to making it work is layering different textures/fabrics.

Consider Your Skin Tone

Our final piece of the puzzle has to do with your skin tone. Now I get asked all the time about matching clothing colors to eye and hair color and the only thing you need to know about that is this: it doesn’t matter one bit. Women pay attention to their eye and hair color when putting on makeup because certain colors can highlight their facial features. When it comes to men, this does not apply unless you’re wearing makeup. The only thing that you should consider is your skin color in regards to clothing choice.

Yellow Skin Tones

For men of Asian descent or those who have yellow tones in their skin, you’re going to want to avoid lighter/pastel versions of the following colors: tan, off-white, yellow, and orange. They’re only going to make your skin look sickly or muted. Solid, darker versions of these colors are ok, and from there, you can wear any other colors.

Brown Skin Tones

If your skin is on the brown spectrum (anything from light to dark) you want to avoid any brown color that closely matches your skin color. Otherwise, you’ll look dull and lifeless. Choose something darker or lighter from your skin and you’ll be in great shape. I highly recommend wearing colors like reds, yellows, greens, and blues, because they’ll look great against your warmer skin tone.

White or Pale Skin Tones

For those of you who burn at even the slightest hint of sunlight, you want to avoid reds, yellows, pinks, and oranges in all shades and forms. These colors are really going to bring out the pink undertones in your fair skin and make you look flushed or washed out. A good rule of thumb to follow is that “cool” colors are good.  Wearing colors like blues, greens, purples and their variations are going to look great against your skin and complement your fairness.

My Favorite No-Fail Color Combos

Finally, I’m going to share an easy cheat sheet with you, a few of my favorite, go-to combinations and how to wear them. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing these casually or dressed up, all of these color combinations are going look great.

Navy and Brown

Both classic and modern, navy and brown go together like peanut butter and jelly.  From dark denim and a brown jacket or blazer to a navy suit with brown accents, to something as simple as tan chinos and a navy casual jacket, this combination is one you absolutely should master.  Throw a white shirt into any navy and brown combination for an easy way to bring it all together.

Blues and Greens

Speaking of rock-solid, one-two punches that work in tandem, blue and greens together are always on point. The wide range of hues gives you the option to dial up the statement level (or tone it down), depending on what shades you choose, what occasion you’re dressing for, or how adventurous you’re feeling.

My favorite ways to wear these colors together are:

  1. A navy suit, light blue shirt, and a green tie
  2. A blue oxford or t-shirt, green chinos, and brown leather belt with chukka boots

Black, Grey, and White

Simple?  Sure. Always sharp, clean, and in good taste? You bet. If you’re one of those guys who can appreciate the idea of a modern uniform or the utmost in classic simplicity, stick to this graphic combination and feel confident knowing you’re always going to look great.

My favorite outfit combos for these colors are:

  1. Grey suit, white shirt, and black tie.
  2. Black bomber jacket, white shirt, and grey pants.

Charcoal/Grey and Pastels

We’ve obviously established the awesome versatility of charcoal and grey, so it makes sense that they would also work well with pastels.  The great thing about pairing them with shades of grey is that their impact is taken down slightly. So, you get the benefit of a splash of color but you’re never going to be over-the-top preppy guy from Martha’s Vineyard or look like you’re on vacation in the Caribbean.

My favorite outfit combos:

  1. Grey suit, white or pastel shirt, and any simple dark tie (pastel shirt) or pastel tie (white shirt).
  2. Grey or charcoal casual jacket, pastel shirt or sweater, and navy pants.

I hope that was helpful and as you can see, wearing colors doesn’t have to be confusing or scary, so give it a shot!

5 Easy & Stylish Home Upgrades For Men

While most men tend to think home goods and decor are utilitarian (if they give it much thought, at all), there’s something to be said for a man who takes pride in creating a welcoming home for himself and guests, regardless of his relationship status. If you’re single and dating, your date will definitely appreciate these small things and they could very well be a deal sealer. If you’re in a relationship, showing that you’ve taken initiative to improve the proverbial nest will always be appreciated by your partner. Below are a few simple upgrades to quickly improve your home.

The Smell of Success

Unfortunately (or fortunately), you probably don’t know how your place smells. Regardless of whether you forgot your sweaty gym socks in the corner for the past month, or just cooked your weekly 5lbs of bacon, your place probably isn’t the freshest.

Cleanliness is obviously a huge first step in this department, but outside of that you may need an assist. Whatever the state of affairs, it’s time to invest in some scented goods. Relax, I’m not talking about over-the-top lady candles or scents so strong they make you light-headed, just a few simple options to make your house or apartment smell masculine and inviting.

The two best options are a good candle and/or a reed diffuser. A candle or two is going to impart a great scent and give you that “on/off” feature so you can light it up whenever needed. A reed diffuser is a jar or bottle of scented oil with wooden sticks that draw up the scented oil and “diffuse” it out into the air. I like these best for bathrooms because they provide a light, consistent scent that’s always in the background.

What scents to choose?

That’s up to you, but I have a few suggestions:

  • Try lots of options
    You never know what you’re going to like or how it’s going to work in your home.
  • Go for scents that lean toward the woodsy (pine, cedar, sage, tobacco) or fresh (citrus, eucalyptus, grass)
    They’re masculine and pleasing without being overwhelming.

The Goods

Try a candle in your living room and on the nightstand and add a reed diffuser to your bathroom for an instant improvement in the smell department.

Candles

Best
I’ve given this candle from Athropologie to men and women over the years and it’s universally loved.

Budget Options
A few of my favorites include PF Candle Co, Good Candle, and Norden.

Reed Diffuser

Pictured Above
These are two, well-designed diffusers.

Best
Any woman will see these from Jo Malone and understand you’re not messing around with your scents.

Budget Options
Many, many options available here.

 

An Inviting Bed

Maybe it’s obvious, but clean, quality sheets and bedding can go a long way – both for you and guests/partners – by creating an inviting bedroom environment. Not that we don’t love your Ironman sheets, but it’s probably time to step it up a bit.

While the true merit of “thread counts” is kind of a myth, you definitely want to invest in something that’s high-quality, soft and durable. Design-wise, stick to neutral color like greys, blues, and/or subtle patterns. While white sheets are lovely and crisp, know that if you invest in them they’re going to require some extra care and more frequent washings. I highly recommend using a fabric treatment like Oxy Clean to keep them fresh and white.

The Goods

Thanks to a variety of enterprising entrepreneurs, you no longer have to drag yourself to battle the hordes at Bed Bath & Beyond or Target on a Sunday just for some decent sheets. Two of my favorite brands, Brooklinen and Parachute, are high-quality at reasonable prices.

 

A Well-Stocked Bathroom

I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve heard from friends about nightmarish bathroom situations at the homes of otherwise solid, upstanding gentlemen.

The importance of getting your bathroom in shape can’t be stressed enough. Outside of general cleanliness – the sink, toilet and tub/shower, it’s important to have it smell nice (see the scents section above) and have a few key items in good, working order.

A fresh roll of toilet paper, some decent liquid hand soap, and a clean hand towel will go a long way here. But while we’re talking about towels, it’s probably time to invest in a proper set for your bathroom and guests. Unfortunately, that beach towel hung from the shower curtain rod isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Please, for the love of all that is holy – have a trashcan with a lid!

We use a lot of items throughout the course of a day and night that we’d prefer not to be visible in the trash. Just trust me on this one – everyone will appreciate it.

The Goods

In this area, you really don’t have to spend much. Below are the products I personally use and recommend to friends and family.

Trash Can
I use these in all my bathrooms. They’re cheap, well-designed and work well.

Soap Dispenser
I personally use this one, but there are many options available at great prices.

Towels
Just like their quality sheets, Parachute makes great towels, too. I also love the options from Boll & Branch.

 

Coordinate & Decorate

Decoration and presentation are big parts of making an initial and lasting impression. A fancy, hand-crafted cocktail isn’t memorable if you serve it in a red cup and that Jordan poster on your otherwise bare walls won’t win any points, either.

It’s important for you to give some consideration to a few stylish pieces of wall art, some matching dishes and glassware, and a functional decor piece like a bar cart or nice arm chair that are going to elevate your pad to a level befitting of the gentleman you are.

The Goods

I love Snowe – a cool, one-stop shop for glassware and all things home; it’s basically a better online version of Ikea, but without the Swedish meatballs. Prices range anywhere from $30 and up to accommodate any budget.

On the decor end, for affordable wall art options outside of solid home stores like West Elm and CB2, sites like Artsy and Artspace offer easy, affordable access to great art pieces and photography. If you’re just starting, keep it simple with tasteful black and white photography or muted abstracts. If you’re feeling adventurous, nothing impresses like a cool, large-format statement piece in the living room or over your bed.

 

Use these few simple updates to get yourself well on your way to domestic success and style with ease. So, now we’ve covered that, what are you going to wear?

Men’s Wardrobe Essentials: Lightweight Jackets

You know that confusing time when it’s still jacket weather but the temperatures are fluctuating from warm to cold and you’re chilly one minute and sweating the next? Yeah, it’s not easy to dress for that, is it? You’ve probably seen the word “transitional” used in and around this time relative to your wardrobe, but really it’s just a fancy word for “versatile”. With versatility and changing seasons in mind, let’s discuss a major key to a solid “transitional” wardrobe, the right lightweight jacket.

Whether you’re in bomb cyclone territory or more temperate parts of the country, the ideal lightweight jacket (or two!) is an important element because you can layer up or down depending on temperatures, all while maintaining style and a comfortable temperature. There are a million different versions in all manner of materials, but until you’ve completely nailed all the essentials, I recommend sticking to the classics for versatility, style and ease of wearing. No matter which one you choose or what the weather app on your phone is telling you, you can layer up confidently (t-shirt, collared shirt, sweater, whatever) for anything from work to a night out.

The Bomber Jacket

Also sometimes known as the MA-1 and tracing its lineage back to the uniform jackets designed for military pilots in World War II, the classic style and functionality of a bomber remains just as strong today as it was back then. Featuring a zip front, elastic waist and cuffs, and a low-profile collar, you can find stylish versions of the bomber in every conceivable material, from nylon and wool to cotton and suede. I absolutely love the versatility of a bomber jacket, and as I’ve said before, every man, regardless of age or body type, should have one in his closet.

outfit details here

Who Should Wear It

All body types and ages look great in bomber jackets – as long as it fits well – close to the body with arms and shoulders fitted like the above picture.

How To Wear It

A casual staple that’s infinitely versatile, the Bomber looks right at home with everything from a t-shirt and denim to chinos and a chambray or oxford shirt. Make sure the shoulder seams sit properly, almost exactly like how your suit jacket or blazer should fit and know that a bomber jacket that fits properly should stop right around your waist. Most bomber jackets are slightly shorter in the back, too, so don’t think something is wrong if you notice that. A longer bomber jacket tends to look odd and sloppy, so avoid it if you can.

For outfit ideas, see this article, as well as points 3 & 4 in this article/video.

The Trucker Jacket

Just like it’s close cousin the Bomber, the trucker jacket was born out of utility and remains a classic style piece to this day. Typically of shorter length and hitting around the hip/waist, the workwear-inspired trucker jacket often features a button or zip front, fabric-covered collar, and handy flap pockets on the front. I like all types of materials for trucker jackets but you’ll most commonly find them in sturdy waxed cotton or canvas (to protect against the elements), denim, and nylon.

outfit details here

How To Wear It

Another one my go-to casual recommendations, I love a trucker jacket with denim and desert/work boots. It looks stylishly masculine but still polished enough to be worn over a collared shirt without looking like you’re commuting to work on a horse.

For my favorite trucker jackets and the best ways to wear them, check out this article.

The Field Jacket

Going by many names (M65, Utility Jacket, Safari Jacket), this essential is just another example of how functional military-inspired designs still look sharp and stylish today. It’s slightly longer length should hit just past the hip and it commonly features multiple sets of pockets for extra utility when you’re on the go. The Field Jacket is a great protector against the weather yet light enough for the Spring’s rapidly changing temps, so look for it in cotton and nylon versions. Forest or Olive green colors are more traditional but I’m a big fan of navy (my favorite), darker browns or grays, as well.

Who Should Wear It

Stockier or larger men. The multiple pockets help break up your large top half and give a slimming appearance.

Who Shouldn’t Wear It

If you’re a slimmer guy and not 100% confident in how to wear this, avoid it because it’ll can make you look slimmer and like you’re swimming in pockets and fabric. I see this mistake more often than not. So when in doubt, skip it.

How To Wear It

Layer it over a cashmere sweater and an oxford or even your favorite dress clothes to add a bit of contrasting ruggedness to a polished look. Of course, it’s always perfect for your weekend morning coffee runs with t-shirts, jeans or tailored sweats too. I’d avoid wearing it with chino pants because the fabric weights are too similar and you’ll look like a 70’s action star pretty quickly. Ideally, you want something heavier on the bottom – jeans or wool trousers.

For my favorite field jackets and best ways to wear them, check out this article.

The Harrington Jacket

I’ve talked about my love of the Harrington jacket before, and for good reason, this jacket strikes that perfect sweet spot between casual and sporty and goes with pretty much anything. Look, if it’s good enough for style icons like McQueen, Elvis, and James Dean, it definitely deserves a place in your closet. The Harington blends a slight preppy edge with the functionality of a windbreaker and most often features a light cotton or nylon shell, zip-up front, and barrel button collar. Whether on the links, out and about, or heading to drinks, the Harrington has you covered. 

Who Should Wear It

All body types and ages look absolutely fantastic in a Harrington.

How To Wear It

The Harrington’s preppier look and vibe pairs perfectly with staples like chinos, t-shirts and button-ups, but it just as easily transitions to a casual evening out when layered with a light sweater, dark denim and sneakers or loafers. For more in-depth details, see this article/video.

The Denim Jacket

While it’s at home on the range or in a 50’s movie star’s vintage Porsche, the denim jacket can be just as stylish and useful to you on your own city streets. A classic for a reason, the denim jacket has seen a recent resurgence to staple status now that denim is pretty much everyday wear. While this short, button-up jacket doesn’t offer a ton of warmth, it’s vintage throwback style, when paired with a crisp white t-shirt or layered over a light cotton sweater, more than makes up for it.

outfit details here

Who Should Wear It

Everyone! It looks right at home on men of all ages and body types. The only caveat is if you’re an older man (50’s and above) you may want to avoid lighter colors, as it tends to look a little “trying to dress too young”, so stick to darker indigos or black if that’s you.

How To Wear It

Properly pulling off the Canadian Tuxedo is a very dicey (impossible?) move, so keep it simple and pair with chinos and black or dark denim, or opt for colors like grey, black, indigo, or light-washed denim. On the fit side, it needs to be tight in the arms and body and stop at the upper part of your waist, so keep it trim and short to avoid looking boxy or like a 90’s R&B music video backup dancer.

For more details, check out my more in-depth article/video here.

The Essential Business Casual Details & Outfits

To me, business casual for men’s outfits is a loose definition, but it definitely has an upper and lower range of what’s appropriate. The only true way to determine what it means is by looking at it in relation to the current dress code of the company or function you’re dealing with.

Things to avoid in business casual

Ties

There are rare exceptions, but when in doubt, go without.

Shorts

These are too casual no matter how they’re worn and I’d argue that a man shouldn’t wear shorts in 95% of situations, anyways.

T-Shirts

While I love them, they have no place in a business casual outfit.

Not Tucking In Your Shirt

The sin of all sins for a business casual outfit, no matter your body type, is not tucking in your collared shirts. Polo shirts should only be worn untucked, but the exact opposite is true for collared shirts. It just looks sloppy.

 

Now let’s go over the typical outfits and when they’re appropriate to wear.

Standard Business Casual

For most companies, whether they require a suit (maybe no tie) or a blazer or collared shirt everyday, there are two types of business casual outfits. How close the dress code is to a full suit will determine whether you should wear a jacket or not. Also, depending on the time of year, you may go for lighter or heavier weighted fabrics for your jackets and pants. Hotter = lighter.

With A Jacket

If you are required to wear a suit and tie everyday, definitely go with this one.

Sport Coat/Blazer

Here’s another article I wrote about heavier sport coats/blazers for the Fall & Winter months. Please, whatever you do, don’t wear a suit jacket in place of this. The fabric is too thin and it won’t match the fabric weight of the pants you’ll be wearing.

Oxford Button Down Shirt or Semi-Spread Collared Shirt

Make sure either of these are tucked in to your pants. Definitely wear a belt that matches your shoe color, as well.

Wool trousers, Chino Pants or Dark Wash Jeans

The more formal the dress code, the more likely you should wear wool trousers. Chinos are a little less formal or more used during spring and summer, while jeans a little less so than chinos and typically used year-round. Never, ever – unless the suit pants are a very thick wool (similar to wool trouser weight) – should you wear suit pants without the accompanying jacket.

Oxford Dress Shoes, Monk straps, Brogues, WingtipsBoots (Dress or Chukka) or Loafers

The second you’re not wearing a full suit and tie, you can basically wear anything but sneakers with your business casual outfit. I’d default to Oxfords, Monk Straps or Loafers – either in suede or leather, but any of the options above are acceptable.

Without a jacket

If the dress code or occasion is slightly more casual, you can forgo the jacket and wear this business casual outfit, instead. There’s a few small points to consider.

V-neck sweater

If the weather is too warm, then definitely swap out the sweater for a blazer from the previous section, or, if it can be more casual, go to the next outfit, instead.

Shirt

Same as the previous outfit. You can wear a tie, like in the above picture, but it’s not necessary at all.

Pants

Wool trousers or dark wash jeans. Chino pants have a fabric weight that is too light to go well with v-neck sweaters.

Shoes

Same as previous outfit.

 

Casual Business Casual

This type of business casual outfit is appropriate if there’s a pretty casual dress code normally, or the event is very informal. If you see “business casual” as a requirement anywhere, this is the least formal outfit you can wear that is still appropriate for the dress code. Anything less than this is not business casual.

Harrington Jacket 

This is one of my favorite jackets of all time and fits this outfit perfectly. Obviously, only wear this if the weather is requiring a jacket.

Polo Shirt or Oxford Button Down

I’d probably default to a polo shirt unless you knew for a fact you were going to wear the Harrington Jacket or the weather is cooler. Unless you’re a slimmer guy, an Oxford Button Down worn without a jacket on top of it doesn’t look too good. No matter what, though, make sure the polo shirt fits like a glove or you’re going to look like a goofball and if you wear the oxford, please tuck it in.

Chino Pants or Dark Wash Jeans

Chino pants are the default in an outfit like this, but dark wash jeans are just as appropriate. I’d let the time of year or weather dictate whether I went with chinos or dark wash jeans. The colder it is, the more I’d lean toward wearing the jeans over the chinos.

Sneakers, Loafers, Dress Shoes or Chukka Boots

The more classy you want to make this casual outfit, the more I’d learn toward dressy shoes.

 

That’s it! Hope this is helpful!

How To Get & Stay Motivated

It’s the time of year again – when you make promises to yourself to change or do things that are good for you and then February rolls around and they’re nothing but a blip on the radar. In this part of The Better Man Series, let’s talk about getting over the hump to be motivated as well as staying motivated to action.

Motivation is like a muscle – it has to be exercised to avoid atrophying.

As a man, a major goal in life should be to constant improvement in whatever aspects you deem necessary. When you give up this journey of curiosity and improvement is when the verve for life goes away and you’ll basically be dead – figuratively and literally – if you’re in your twilight years. Obviously, depending on your age, your goals can vary, but the mechanisms for getting and staying motivated are the same no matter who you are.

Over the years, in talking to people of all ages about betterment, I’ve encountered a weird issue – they feel bad for trying to improve their lives and it stops them from trying or aids in quickly abandoning their goals. They say they feel:

  • Selfish
  • Like they’re not helping others enough.
  • Bad because their family or friends make fun of them.
  • Too old, young, poor, skinny, fat, etc to do anything.

I’d argue that in order to make others around you better, you need to improve yourself, first. Only then will you be in a position to truly help others.

While your friends or family may never say this, or even know why they do it – making fun of you is just a reaction to them being scared that your progress is going to make them look and feel worse. And it’s 100% true, but that’s their problem, not yours. Don’t let them drag you down so they feel better about themselves.

As for being too (insert excuse here) – that’s just an excuse you’ve learned to justify your lack of motivation. You know it’s B.S., too.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

Let’s get into actionable steps to get and stay motivated.

Find your triggers

Start thinking about the things you run into in your daily life that inspire you to action. They could be anything, but here’s some common ones:

Once you’ve established the things that motivate you, it’s now time to make them, in some way, part of your day. This is key to ensure that wonderful Pavlovian response is triggered multiple times a day. Think of it like a quick caffeine jolt for your motivational engine.

Be around people who inspire you

Being around motivated people is inspiring and it’ll absolutely rub off on you. So find a way to be around them – invite them out to coffee, give a call, schedule a recurring monthly lunch, join a co-working space, etc.

If that’s not possible, then you can try watching or listening to speeches of people you find inspiring. Just find a way to interact with inspiring and motivational people on a regular basis.

Define & Set Goals

As man without goals will achieve very little. So set goals and start hashing out what you really want to do. The one thing I’ll warn you against, though, is not setting specific enough goals. Wanting to be rich and famous is not a goal, it’s the result of a goal (of goals) achieved. Wanting to be more in-shape is not a goal, it’s too vague. So keep them specific, like:

  • Bench pressing 200lbs
  • Going on a monthly date with my significant other
  • Learning a new language
  • Getting a promotion to a certain position
  • Buying a house by the time you’re __ years old
  • Starting a business

Don’t know what goals you want to achieve? Put together a “Anti-Goal” list of things you’ve tried or thought about trying and absolutely don’t want to do. Then start whittling it down by way of deduction instead of addition.

Don’t beat yourself up

The common issue I see with people who lose motivation is not giving their goals enough time or flexibility. If a goal takes longer than you anticipated, or your goals have shifted, or you have a setback – don’t beat yourself up over it.

You are your harshest critic.

People often get discouraged and think about giving up when these things happen, but instead of feeling down about it, understand that this is part of the process and be thankful for how far you’ve come and that these are things every motivated person has encountered, as well. If it was easy, everyone would already be doing it.

Have a plan of action

Figure out a way (probably many ways) to achieve whatever goal(s) you have and then break it down into actionable, bite-sized chunks. Then, and only then, can you take that motivation and start working on achieving your goals.

Standing at the foot of a mountain and not realizing that it’s going to take many, many smaller steps to get to the summit will do yourself a disservice and you’ll give up because you didn’t set a plan of action to get to the top.

Coincidentally, the more smaller steps you achieve, the more motivated it’ll make you. Movement begets more movement.

There are some systems available, if you’d like to take a structured approach. Getting Things Done is a system I personally use and a bit of a companion or supplement to that system is called Bullet Journaling – which I also do.

It’s easy to be busy everyday, it’s hard to make progress everyday.

Set aside time for review

Over the course of working to achieve your goals, you’ve got to ensure you understand how far you’ve come and celebrate the small victories. Without that, it’s easy to get frustrated and lose motivation.

Your goal(s) will take a while (almost always longer than you thought) to achieve, so you’ve got to set aside time celebrate these smaller wins the to give yourself the motivation to keep working to the ultimate goal.

I like to take the natural breaks of seasons/holidays to set aside time for reflection and reorienting. During the Easter holiday, 4th of July weekend and Thanksgiving weekend, I sit down, look at what I’ve done and first, be thankful for al that I’ve achieved and then decide if directions or mindsets need to be adjusted. It’s extremely helpful and refreshing and I can’t suggest it enough.

 

That’s it! I hope it’s been helpful and you start working toward your amazing goals this year!

Holiday Gifts Under $200 For Her

Here’s one of a few holiday gift guides for the women in your life that I’m putting out this year. Each of these will be a sure hit – no matter her age or preferences!

Sweet & Sparkling 8-Piece Candy Box

I had to include Sugarfina’s 8-piece candy gift set. You can never go wrong with luxe sweets during the holidays, especially when the presentation is so spectacular!

Perfect for: Everyone! Mom/MIL, Girlfriend/Wife, Sister, Boss, Co-Worker, Friend.

$65 – Sugarfina Holiday 8-piece Bento Box

Glass Decanter

A beautifully designed glass decanter that’ll hold a magnum size bottle of wine.

Perfect for: Mom/MIL, Sister, Boss, Co-Worker, Friend.

$65 – L’ATELIER DU VIN Bonde Glass Decanter

Gold Pineapple Tumblers

Make sure to buy 2 of these along with the 5″ gold straws ($15). Pineapples symbolize hospitality and are the perfect gift for those that love hosting parties and making cocktails.

Perfect for: Everyone, seriously! Wife/Girlfriend, Mom/MIL, Sister, Friend, Boss, Co-Workers.

$85 – 2 Pineapple 12 oz Tumblers & 4 Gold Straws

 

Chic Pajama Set

Give the gift of being comfortable in these stylish pajamas. And what woman doesn’t love Kate Spade?

Perfect for: Wife/Girlfriend, Sister, Friend.

$88 – Kate Spade Pajama Set

Gift Card for Frames of Their Choice

Whether she’s into sunglasses or opticals, prescription or not, Warby Parker’s gift card will hands-down be a winner. It comes in a cute box that includes a custom deck of mini playing cards featuring artwork by Andreas Samuelsson.

Perfect for: Wife/Girlfriend, Mom/MIL, Sister, Friend.

$95 – Warby Parker Gift Card

Shimmering Body Oil

Every woman I know loves this. It’s decadent, expensive, and worth every penny. The fragrance is light and summery and the shimmer makes a woman’s skin look beautiful and sunkissed.

Perfect for: Wife/Girlfriend, Sister, Friend.

$100 – Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil

Wireless Speaker

Everyone loves music and will enjoy this wireless speaker. It’s compact, delivers great sound, and should they want to add more Sonos speakers to their home, the brand’s app makes it really easy to sync and control all of them.

Perfect for: Wife/Girlfriend, Mom/MIL, Boss, Sister, Friend.

$150 – Sonos Compact Wireless Speaker

Set of 6 Hand Blown Wine Glasses

Wine glasses that would make any sommelier proud. Each one is blown from lead-free glass and has an ‘Aroma Line’ which is a discreet groove that helps open up the wine and it’s complexity when swirled.

Perfect for: Wife/Girlfriend, Mom/MIL, Boss, Sister, Friend.

$180 – L’Atelier Du Vin Exploreur Classic Set Of Six Wine Glasses

Red Hot YSL Card Case

This gift is a little over $200, but your girlfriend/wife deserves to spoiled and she’ll LOVE this sexy gift.

Perfect for: Wife/Girlfriend.

$250 – Saint Laurent Leather Card Case