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Men’s Dress Shoes – Monk Straps, Brogues, Wingtips

Let’s talk about my favorite and what I consider the best men’s dress shoes for Fall and Winter – Monk straps, Brogues, and Wingtips.

Quick note: Wingtips are technically Brogues, so I’ll be lumping them together throughout this article. Just know when I refer to Brogues that I also mean Wingtips.

I prefer these during the cooler parts of the year because they go much better with the heavier wool and cotton items you wear in your Fall and Winter outfits. Don’t get me wrong, they also work year-round, but I think there’s better options out there for the other parts of the year. Check out my Summer Essentials Ebook and Wardrobe Essentials Series for details about those options.

Below are the things I look for in a good pair of Monk Straps or Brogues.

MATERIAL

As I said in my Fall/Winter boots story, I love a good calf skin. Don’t get me wrong, I love a suede monk strap or brogue, as well, but if you live in an area with snow or rain, you’ll regret the day you wear them outside. So let’s wait to get into those until Spring or Summer.

SHAPE

I will say this about dress shoes until the day I die, but you want a nice, slim profile with a rounded toe box. Ain’t nobody got time for square or large, bulky toe boxes! – See the video near the top of the article if you’re unsure about what they look like.

COLOR

As for colors, I love a nice dark chocolaty brown, or even a medium brown, like a walnut. Black is also good, but the first color I’d get is brown because it goes better with all the Fall colors in your wardrobe. All these colors are represented in my suggestions at the bottom of this article.

SOLES

If you live somewhere with a bit of rain, ice or snow, then you can and should definitely have these with Dainite or rubber inset soles for added traction. If you don’t live in that kind of climate, then a regular leather bottom that you’ll find on 99% of dress shoes is perfectly acceptable, but I’d probably look for a Dainite or rubber insert sole as my default. There’s also lugged soles, which are pretty popular right now (and I included some in my selects below), but I have a feeling they won’t be around for the long haul. They’ve already come and gone with fashion a few times in my lifetime. When it comes to Fall/Winter boots, though, I love me a lugged sole.

MONK STRAP SPECIFICS

I prefer a double buckle because a single buckle looks less refined. (Example in the video at the top).

If you get black Monk Straps, make sure the buckle is silver, because gold or brass tends to look gaudy, but is perfectly fine on brown monks (examples in the video).

Also, please make sure the buckles are on the smaller side as opposed to some big ass buckles you’ll find on a colonial gentleman.

As for medallion toes and other flourishes, I like all of them, so check out my recommendations below.

 

Best Ways To Wear Dress Shoes

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H&M Charcoal Wool Blazer
Burberry White Slim-Fit Poplin Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Navy “Score Check” Tie
The Tie Bar Olive Green 1″ Tie Bar
The Tie Bar Grey Southeast Plaid Wool Pocket Square
Diesel Buster 0607A Jeans
Allen Edmonds Black Poplar Dress Belt
Allen Edmonds Black Strand Dress Shoes
Tom Ford Snowdon Sunglasses
IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch

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Topman Camel Coat
Burberry Slim Fit Cotton Poplin Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Webster Medallions Tie
J.Crew Slim Merino Wool Cardigan
John Varvatos Grand Sunglasses
J.Crew Ludlow Suit Pant in English Donegal Tweed
Johnston & Murphy Nolen Double Monkstrap Shoes

Brogues & Wingtips

Budget Friendly

$130 – Aldo Bartolello
$135 – Johnston & Murphy Duvall Wingtip (2 colors)
$165 –
Johnston & Murphy Jennings Wingtip
$195 – Vince Camuto Tallden – Wingtip Oxford (2 colors)
$225 – Vince Camuto Benli Oxford

Designer

Allen Edmonds Strand Brown Cap Toe

$395 – Allen Edmonds Strand Cap-Toe Brown Oxfords with Dainite Rubber Sole

These, to me, are the quintessential Brogue. If you’ve seen my other dress shoe article then you know my love of Allen Edmonds. They make amazing products with great value – and they don’t pay me to say that. I’m just a huge fan.

I love this color and the Dainite soles. They’re just perfection.

$395 – Allen Edmonds McAllister Wingtip with Dainite Rubber Sole
$395 – Allen Edmonds Strand Cap-Toe Black Oxfords with Dainite Rubber Sole
$580 – Salvatore Ferragamo Oxford Shoe
$650 – Church’s Toronto Cap-Toe Oxford Brogues
$700 – George Cleverley Henry Pebble-Grain Leather Wingtip Brogues (2 colors)

 

Monk Straps

Budget Friendly

Johnston Murphy Nolen Double Monk Strap Brown

$185 – Johnston & Murphy Nolen Double Monk Cap Toe

These hit all the points I look for in a double monk – the beautiful chocolaty brown with the matching soles, the silver hardware and the rubber tread inset for added traction. On top of that, they’re a GREAT price and my clients always comment about how comfortable they are. My other favorites are the Allen Edmonds Monks below, if you’re looking for something higher quality.

$99 – Kenneth Cole Regal Bearing Leather Monk Strap Dress Shoe (2 colors)
$130 – Aldo Henacien
$160 – Aldo Caresien 
$225 – Vince Camuto Briant Double Monk Strap Shoe (2 colors) 

Designer

Allen Edmonds St Johns Black Double Monk Strap

$395 – Allen Edmonds St. Johns Black Double Monk Strap 


$395 – Allen Edmonds St. Johns Brown Double Monk Strap  
$395 – Allen Edmonds Mora 2.0 (3 colors)
$435 – Crockett & Jones Lowndes (2 colors) 
$710 – Crockett & Jones Harrogate Double Monk Strap 

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Men’s Crewneck Sweaters and Cardigans

My favorite sweaters for this time of year are crewnecks and cardigans – either regular or shawl collar styles. They’re great because not only do they keep you warm, but they allow you to create a bunch of new looks depending on how you layer them with the other items you own.

Before I go any further, I want to make sure you’ve already seen my v-neck sweater article and video, because:

  • You should already own some v-neck sweaters since they look amazing on every body type and can be worn year-round.
  • You know the do’s and dont’s with sweaters and how they should fit your body type because I’m going to discuss  crewnecks and cardigans as if you already know these guidelines.

Crewneck Sweaters

Brook's Brothers Golden Fleece Merino Wool Charcoal Crewneck

$300 – Brook’s Brothers Golden Fleece 3-D Knit Fine-Gauge Merino Wool Charcoal Crewneck Sweater

I like crewnecks because they can be worn over t-shirts, unlike v-neck sweaters which look weird with t-shirts under them, and they look great in casual outfits or can take a more dressy outfit, like a suited look, and dress it down, while still adding a nice, warm layer to your outfit.

The two things you have to do, though, and I’ll say this forever, is:

  1. Really nail the fit
  2. Know how to wear them, based on your body type.

If you are a broader guy, then crewnecks 100% of the time have to be worn as a layering piece only. So underneath a jacket, blazer or suit – never on their own because, otherwise, it’ll create a huge swath of fabric on your torso and accentuate your size. Trust me, you don’t want this. (Watch my video at the top for examples).

Fit

For any body type, you always want to make sure your crewneck sweater fits like a glove. Make sure you can’t pinch more than an inch of fabric on the back of your tricep and no more than 2 inches of fabric on one side of your belly.

As for length, ensure the sleeves generally stop around the bend of your wrist, and make sure it is no longer than just past your belt buckle area.

The thing that drives me nuts is when I see guys wearing crewnecks with big bunchy sleeves and rolled or rippled mid-sections. Bleh!

Budget Friendly

$30 – Zara Basic Closed Sweatshirt (2 colors)
$50 – H&M Merino Wool Sweater (2 colors)
$65 – TopMan Premium Rust Merino Crewneck Sweater
$65 – TopMan Premium Grey Rib Crewneck Sweater 
$70 – J. Crew Marled Lambswool Sweater
$90 – J. Crew Textured Lambswool Sweater
$100 – H&M Textured Knit Cashmere Sweater 
$110 – Rag & Bone Avery Crew

Designer

$230 – John Smedley Marcus Crew Neck Merino Wool Sweater (3 colors)
$300 – Brook’s Brothers Golden Fleece 3-D Knit Fine-Gauge Merino Wool Brown Crewneck Sweater
$325 – A.P.C. Socks Sweater
$375 – Rag & Bone Lance Crew 
$375 – Vince Heathered Cashmere Sweater 
$990 – Saint Laurent Ribbed Cashmere Sweater 
$1,425 – Brunello Cucinelli Double-Faced Cashmere Sweater

Cardigans: Regular and Shawl-Collar

J. Crew Slim Merino Wool Navy Cardigan

$90 – J. Crew Slim Merino Wool Cardigan Navy Sweater

Now let’s move on to cardigans – specifically, regular and shawl collar styles.

Just like crewnecks, they’re great worn over most shirts (even with ties) except v-neck t-shirts (unless it’s a really shallow “V”, otherwise it just looks weird with the double “v”) or polo shirts because the collars never lay or look right with cardigans.

Regular cardigans can pretty much be worn underneath everything up to a suit, while shawl collar cardigans, since they’re usually made of thicker wool or cotton, are typically worn on their own. Think of shawl collar cardigans as knit jackets, basically and wear them in their place.

If you’re a larger guy, regular cardigans are to be worn buttoned up AND only underneath another item as a layering piece. If you were to wear it on it’s own, it’ll make you look super big and wide. (examples shown in the video at the top).

If you have a regular or slim body type, then you can wear regular cardigans on their own, but almost always buttoned up – leave the bottom button undone so it lays nicely and doesn’t look bunched up while you’re sitting. I think when they’re worn unbuttoned, they lose their structure and get really floppy and messy looking.

For shawl collar cardigans, if you’re a broader guy, you should absolutely wear them on their own, but never buttoned up. Leaving it unbuttoned breaks up your width nicely and looks great and hides those problem areas around the midsection and upper body. I really love them for this body type.

If you’re any other body type, you can wear your shawl collar cardigan buttoned or unbuttoned, but remember to leave the bottom button undone, of course.

FIT

As to how your cardigans should fit, the same crewneck rules apply:

Pinch no more than 2 inches on one side of your stomach and no more than an inch on the back of your tricep.

It should hit pretty close to past your belt buckle and the sleeves should end somewhere around the bend of your wrist.

Regular Cardigans

Budget Friendly

$35 – H&M Wool-Blend Cardigan
$60 – Zara Merino Cardigan (3 colors)
$80 – Club Monaco Merino Cardigan
$90 – J. Crew Slim Merino Wool Cardigan Sweater (3 colors)

Designer

$160 – Club Monaco Soft Wool Cardigan
$400 – Incotex Garment Dyed Wool Cardigan
$445 – Boglioli Virgin Wool Cardigan
$765 – Maison Margiela Distressed Wool Cardigan
$1,350 – Saint Laurent Slim Fit Fine Knit Cashmere Cardigan
$1,625 – Brunello Cucinelli Cashmere and Silk-Blend Cardigan

Shawl Collar Cardigan

Budget Friendly

$40 – Urban Outfitters Shawl Cardigan 
$46 – Only & Sons Shawl Neck Cardigan with Mix Yarn Detail
$50 – H&M Ribbed Cardigan  
$70 – TopMan Navy Twist Gridstitch Cardigan 
$120 – J. Crew Wallace & Barnes Cotton Shawl-Collar Cardigan in Birds-Eye Stitch
$150 – J. Crew Lambswool Three-Pocket Cardigan Sweater (2 colors)

Designer

 

$275 – Rag & Bone Avery Navy Shawl Cardigan
$275 – Rag & Bone Avery Shawl Army Green Cardigan
$495 – John Smedley Patterson Shawl-Collar Merino Wool and Cashmere-Blend
$495 – RRL & Co. Cotton Shawl-Collar Cardigan 
$880 – Thom Sweeney Shawl-Collar Cashmere Cardigan
$895 – Burberry Shawl Collar Ribbed Wool Silk Cardigan

Colors

As for colors, I mentioned them in the series intro video, so check that video and article out for details about the colors that will go well with your skin color.

MATERIALS

And lastly, before I show you how I’d style these sweaters, let’s go over the best materials for your sweaters.

If you run warmer, you want your sweaters to be cotton blends, otherwise wool and cashmere are my two favorites.

Best ways to wear your sweater

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H&M Double Breasted Coat
H&M Merino Wool Sweater
A/X Pima Tee
Burberry Slim Fit Wool Trousers
Johnston & Murphy Jennings Wingtip
Tom Ford Snowdon Sunglasses

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Topman Camel Coat
Burberry Slim Fit Cotton Poplin Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Webster Medallions Tie
J.Crew Slim Merino Wool Cardigan
John Varvatos Grand Sunglasses
J.Crew Ludlow Suit Pant in English Donegal Tweed
Johnston & Murphy Nolen Double Monkstrap Shoes

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Rag & Bone Avery Shawl Collar Cardigan
Brooks Brothers Milano Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt
Diesel Buster 0607A Jeans
Allen Edmonds Newline Ave Casual Belt
Frye Phillip Chukka

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2016 Holiday Gifts For The Women in Your Life

It’s that time of year again, just like the last two years (on this very site as well as PrimerMag), so I want to show you the gifts the women in your life will love to receive this time of year. Trust me, I know we’re a strange bunch when it comes to gifts, and shopping for all the women in your life can be tough – especially if that means you’ll be giving gifts to multiple women like your wife/girlfriend, mom, mom-in-law, sister, and female friend/co-worker/boss.

There’s a few things to consider in order to deliver a thoughtful, special present to the women in your life:

  • Who are you shopping for?
  • Should you splurge or not on that person?
  • What will she appreciate the most?

So let’s ensure you knock it out of the park when it comes to giving the women in your life an incredible present this holiday season – regardless of your budget.

FYI: If I can toot my own horn for a minute –  I’ve got a 100% perfect track record when it comes to helping my clients pick out gifts for their special ladies. Just saying 😉

Mother / Mother-In-Law

The goal with giving your mother or MIL the right gift is to find something that’s useful and will go with whatever her design/style aesthetic is. With that being said, I truly believe if you can, you should splurge on her. Show her how much you love and appreciate her.

Notebook

With that being said, I love Smythson and Hermes notebooks because not only are they extremely useful, but they’ll come beautifully packaged in their iconic blue and orange boxes, respectively. Your mother (or MIL) will be so excited when she sees the box because she’ll instantly know she’s about to receive a super special gift.

Scarves

Another really great gift is a scarf – I especially love (and own myself) the Louis Vuitton scarf. The fabric is beautiful, silky smooth, and will dress up any outfit. A fun alternative is the Kate Spade scarf that’s easy to wear and stylish.

Home

If she loves anything kitchen-related, then you won’t go wrong with a Vitamix or zoodle maker. More than likely, she doesn’t own these items, but will appreciate how useful and awesome they are. Also, I really like the sleek design of West Elm’s marble and copper serving board and Roar+Rabbit’s Free Form Terrarium which will look great on her desk or next to the sink – these are especially great gifts for your MIL because they’ll be appreciated by her regardless of her design aesthetic.

Food & Wine

Another crowd pleaser, and a gift that I had on last year’s list, is Cakebread’s red and white wine gift set. Any winelover will appreciate these fan-freaking-tastic wines. For something outside of the box, order her a box or 6-month subscription to TryTheWorld.com. Every month, she’ll get a themed box of gourmet foods from all around the world. I actually was given this last year by a client and I have to say the packaging alone was super nice and the items tucked inside were so unique and fun.

$590 – Louis Vuitton Monogram Shawl (Beige, Charcoal Grey, or Night Blue)
$78 – Kate Spade New York ‘Swan Around’ Silk Scarf
$320 – Hermés Ulysse Notebook
$80 – Hermés Ulysse Page Refill
$230 – Smythson Panama Collection ‘Soho Notebook’ (personalize with initials for $12/letter)
$18 – Moleskine Color Hard Cover Notebook (black, red, or navy)
$330 – Vitamix Blender 
$160 – Nutri Ninja| Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-iQ
$200 for 6 months – Try the World ‘Signature Box’
$110 – Cakebread Cellars Treasured Classics
$60 – West Elm Marble + Copper Serving Board 
$50-$70 – West Elm Roar + Rabbit Freeform Terrariums
$24 – West Elm Mid-Century Turned Leg Tabletop Planter
$24 – WonderVeg Vegetable Spiralizer

Girlfriend or Wife

The challenge with finding the right gift for your girlfriend or wife is that you want to make sure she’ll think it’s thoughtful, special, and enough. Now when I say “enough”, I mean that we want to feel like we opened up something that feels representative of how much you love us because you better bet we’ll be doing the same when shopping for your gift. Buying us something like a pen or coffee thermos feels, well, cold.

Massage

For an incredibly thoughtful and unique gift, pamper her with an in-home massage. Trust me, she’ll love this. My fiancé got this for me as an anniversary present one year and it was so awesome that I don’t know what woman wouldn’t want this. I’m going against my “no gift certificates” policy for significant others because there’s almost no other way to give her something like this without it. Zeel or Soothe are amazing apps where she can order up a massage whenever she wants – they’re like Uber but for massages.

Jewelry

As for jewelry, if your woman is stylish and loves fashion, then I highly recommend Jennifer Fisher’s choker or a close second is Eddie Borgo’s pearl choker. The clean yet unique designs of both items will compliment every woman’s style – I’m definitely crossing my fingers and toes that I get one of these this Christmas. If your lady is more classic, then go with a necklace with her initial(s) – I personally love Jennifer Fisher’s mini gothic letter pendant with pave diamonds. A more budget-friendly option is by Kate Spade. Both are dainty and delicate and will be loved the moment she sets eyes on it.

Clothing

Other than jewelry, we’ll always appreciate a soft, warm sweater/cardigan or a silky robe that’ll make us feel sexy every time we wear it.

Fitness Trackers

If she’s health-conscious, I’d recommend a Fitbit or Apple Watch. If you go with an Apple watch, I would buy the one with the cheapest strap and then buy a couple of after-market watch straps on Amazon (listed my favorites and the ones I use all the time below) since they’re way cheaper and just as nice (think $12 versus $100 on Apple).

Flowers or Perfume

If flowers and perfume is the approach you want to take, I’d recommend Maison Margiela’s perfume below – It literally smells like freshly laundered sheets mixed with white flowers. The scent is so magical and light! There’s also Eric Buterbaugh’s perfume kit which is pricey, but totally worth it. His scents are extremely high-end but you understand why because they perfectly capture the scents of various flowers.

I feel like every woman I know is lusting over Venus et Fleur’s roses – and for good reason! The company has somehow found a way to make their roses last a year! Yep, a full year! They’re beautifully packaged in a box and are the perfect item to sit on her desk every single day for the next 365 days. These roses are definitely expensive, and I’ll always maintain that flowers should be a supplementary gift, so if you don’t want to splurge on the below collections, then get the Venus et Fleur Le Mini Round ($39) as it’ll be the perfect size to sit on her desk all year long without taking up too much room.

$1,475 – Jennifer Fisher Abstract Line Choker (Yellow Gold or Silver Plated)
$275 – Eddie Borgo Pearl Hinged Choker (Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, or Silver)
$20 – Topshop Double Bar Choker
$1,300 – Jennifer Fisher Mini Gothic Letter Pendant with Pave White Diamonds (Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, or White Gold)
$60 – Kate Spade ‘One in a Million’ Initial Pendant Necklace
$500 – Venus et Fleur ‘The Eternity Marble Collection’
$140 – Venus et Fleur ‘Lé Petite Eternity Arrangement’
$385 – La Perla Silk Satin Short Robe (Pink)
$385 – La Perla Silk Short Robe (Black or White)
$50 – Victoria’s Secret Satin Kimono (Clover Green, Bright Cherry, or Ink Blot)
$315 – Eric Buterbaugh Discovery Kit
$125 – Maison Margiela “Replica” Lazy Sunday Morning
$270+ – Apple Watch
$27 – Apple Watch 38 mm Leather Band (Brown, Black, Blue Jay)
$23 – Kartice for Apple Watch 38 mm Band (Double Tour Brown, Double Tour Blue, Double Tour Black)
$12 – Apple Watch Stainless Steel 38 mm Bracelet Strap (Champagne, Black, Silver, Rose Gold)
$150 – Fitbit Charge 2
$200 – J. Crew Italian Cashmere Cardigan Sweater (Charcoal, Camel or Midnight)
$80 – J. Crew Tippi Sweater (Deep Copper, Navy, Vintage Cabernet, or Heather Smoke)
$160/60 min – Zeel Massage Gift Certificate (price varies based on your city)
$100/60 min – Soothe Massage Gift Certificate (price varies based on your city)

Sister or Friend

I always think shopping for your sister or friend is the easiest because their gifts are less pressure-filled and you can have more fun with it. There’s really no need to go all out – save that for your mother or girlfriend/wife.

Hats

If you’ve ever noticed your sister or friend wearing a hat, then the two options below are the best and most wearable hats out there. I’m personally a huge fan (and owner!) of the Rag & Bone hat, but I’m tempted to pick up this burgundy J.Crew hat because the color (and price!) is 10 out of 10. BUT, if you’ve never seen your sis/friend wear a hat, then DO NOT get them this because it’s for a very specific woman. Instead, go with the bag or wallet and add a nice, personal touch by getting her initials monogrammed on it.

Skincare/Haircare/Makeup

Every woman loves anything makeup or skincare-related which is why the Foreo Luna facial scrubber, Fresh spa set, and Urban Decay eyeshadow palette are so perfect. The eyeshadow colors will compliment every skin color and the Foreo Luna or the Fresh spa set will work wonders for even the most sensitive skin.

Probably the most exciting news that came out of the hair world this year was the official launch of the Dyson hair dryer. Trust me, your sister or friends will know what this is and they’ll will be so excited when they lay eyes on this beauty. If the Dyson is a little too steep, then the Hot Tools blow dryer is one of the BEST budget-friendly tools on the market.

Headphones

If you want to get her something tech-related, gift her Bragi’s earphones. They’re super minimal looking and it’s one of those items that she probably doesn’t have/won’t think to pick up until she’s forced to but will really appreciate how useful they are while working out or riding the subway or walking around town.

Cookbook

Every girl who is half into cooking has been raving about this one cookbook by Chrissy Teigen, who wrote all about her favorite comfort food dishes.

Shoes

And lastly, I’m actually getting my sister this for Christmas, and that’s the classic Adidas Stan Smiths, but with a twist! I’m going to take the shoes to my local mall where they have those stalls that monogram items with gold foil and I’m going to have the right shoe monogrammed in small letters (see photo for example) with her initials. It’s such a chic, stylish yet minimal touch that I know she’ll appreciate.

$400 – Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
$50 – Hot Tools Turbo Ceramic Salon
$250+ – Bragi The Dash Truly Wireless Smart Earphones (White or Black)
$200 – Rag & Bone Floppy Brim Fedora (Black or Pecan)
$75 – J. Crew Wide-Brimmed Italian Wool-Felt Hat (Cabernet or Camel)
$200 – Foreo Luna 2 for Combination Skin
$95 – Fresh Mini Mask Spa
$130 – J. Crew Signet Bag in Italian Leather (Roasted Chestnut, Festival Red, or Black) – (get initials monogrammed for $10)
$22 – J. Crew Zip Wallet (Bistro Blue or Pink Flamingo) – (get initials monogrammed for $10)
$75 – Adidas Stan Smith Shoes (get initials on one shoe)
$54 – Urban Decay Naked3 Palette
$20 – Chrissy Teigen ‘Cravings’ Cookbook

For Everyone Else Or The Hard To Shop For

For everyone else in your life, whether it’s your aunt, cousin, co-worker, boss, etc, it’s important you select gifts that are useful, yet feel personal. I don’t feel it’s necessary, nor expected, to splurge on pricey gifts for these women in your life unless she’s your boss or a significant person in your life.

The Most AMAZING Food Basket

First up, an easy gift that everyone will love and use right away is a Harry & David gift basket. If you’ve never heard of the company, they’re known for their perfectly ripe, juicy pears wrapped in gold foil. Their food is seriously a work of art and their gift baskets are a true holiday classic that’s not cheesy and stuffed with lackluster food. I’m so excited when clients get me these, you have no idea!

Tea & Coffee Samplers

Other great alternatives are a tea or coffee set. I’m a huge fan of the two companies I featured and personally use their products on a daily basis. Any tea or coffee lover will enjoy these!

Candle Sets

A great gift for you boss, aunt, or cousin is a Diptyque candle set (the BEST luxury candles out there IMO!) or the stylishly designed RBT wine carafe.

Skincare & Water Bottle

For your cousin or co-workers, they’d definitely appreciate goodies from cool-girl brand, Glossier, or a sleekly designed rose gold water bottle. Glossier offers gift sets, but I put together 4 of their must-have items that’ll create the perfect beauty kit for her.

Carbonated Water Maker

Another great gift, and one I’ll be getting some ladies this year, is a SodaStream carbonated water maker. I love carbonated water and how easy it is to use this machine. She can also make her own sodas, too.

Leather Pouches

Every time I travel, I use a smaller dopp kit to store my cords/plugs, but it’s also great at protecting makeup and sunglasses. If I’m going to a coffee shop to get some work done, I store all of my cords and chargers in their cable rollup – it’s an easy and stylish way to stay organized.

$200 – This is Ground Tech Dopp Kit (Bomber, French Grey, or Black)
$55 – This is Ground Cordito Cord & Plug Rollup (Bomber, French Grey, or Black)
$100 – RBT Carafe Decanter
$100 – Diptyque 3 Holiday Mini Candles Set 
$95 – SodaStream Source Sparkling Water Maker Starter Kit in Black (or White)
$70 – SodaStream Jet Starter Kit
$40 – Drop Bottle Rose Gold Infuser
$40 – Harry & David Harry’s Gift Box
$40 – Teavana Ultimate Tea Collection
$35 – Stumptown Blend Trio
$22 – Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack (get all of the below Glossier items for the ultimate gift set)
$18 – Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
$12 – Glossier Flavored Balm Dotcom
$12 – Glossier 3 Pink Pouches 

 

Think these are crap? Check out the previous years for other great gift ideas for the women in your life.

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Fall Winter Coats – Parkas

When I first released my Overcoats and Peacoats video and article, all the New Englanders, Canadians and Northern Europeans complained that they couldn’t wear my favorite pieces because they just weren’t warm enough. I admit – being in Southern California definitely skews my perspective in this regard.

So let’s rectify this!

To me, there’s really only one winter jacket that I like and that looks great on everyone and keeps you nice and warm and that’s a Parka. But not all of them are created equally.

First and foremost, I keep getting asked for a “stylish” winter jacket. Honestly, when you get into crazy cold weather, I think utility should supercede style. That’s not to say parkas aren’t stylish, but no one is going to look at you in your parka and think how amazing an outfit looks.

They’re designed to go over an outfit and be taken off the second you go indoors. So if you really want to look stylish in cold weather, either throw on a fall jacket, overcoat, peacoat and layer, like your life depends on it.

 

What To look for in a good parka

Length

Depending on your climate and how cold it gets determines how long your parka should be. The longer it is, the colder your climate.

So you would wear a waist or hip-length parka if you were in an area that gets cold, but not crazy snowy.

Or if you were in the tundra, you’d wear a parka that hits your knees, or even past that.

But if you live in a climate that is somewhere in the middle, then go with a parka that hits mid-thigh.

Just don’t be that guy in San Diego wearing a knee length parka – it’s too much and looks weird.

Colors

I love Navy, Black or Olive. Do make sure the material isn’t shiny.

If I had to chose a color, I prefer Navy because it’s a very dark color, like Black, but is easily wearable. Olive is also a great color. Black can sometimes look a bit jarring in such a big jacket. But you can’t really go wrong with any of those colors.

Fit

Make sure your parka fits relatively well. That means the shoulders should fit snugly and the body should lightly hug your torso. When trying on parkas, make sure you’re wearing at least a sweater and shirt underneath so you can ensure it won’t be too tight when actually wearing it. Also make sure to zip up that bad boy in case it feels too tight in the body!

Lining

I prefer a down lining, but synthetic is also acceptable. I always find down to be a little warmer, but as always, your mileage may vary.

Detachable Fur Collar

It’s a convenience thing. So I wouldn’t disqualify a jacket for this reason, but it’s a nice thing to have because it creates a slightly different look, so I like the option whenever possible.

How To Style Your Parka

Even though they’re mostly a utility item and style takes a backseat, I couldn’t help styling a parka outfit for you. One of my favorite parkas is by Parajumpers. They do such a great job with the fit of their jackets. Anyways, I styled it over a grey crewneck sweater, wool trousers, and wingtips. And of course, I threw on a scarf and some gloves.

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Parajumpers Navy Harraseeket
Topman Grey Textured Slim Fit Sweater
H&M Leather Gloves
H&M Wool Pants
Brooks Brothers Cashmere Scarf
Allen Edmonds Strand Dress Shoes
Tom Ford Snowdon Sunglasses

The Best Parkas For Men

Parajumpers Harraseeket

$1,125 – Parajumpers Navy Harraseeket

A quick note about the parkas below – You really get what you pay for. Even though there’s some budget-friendly options, I wouldn’t consider them even close to the same quality as the other parkas near the middle and top of the list. These really should be investment pieces and the overall cost of ownership will go significantly down per year if you get a high-quality jacket since it’ll last many, many years.

$2,195 – Moncler Rethel Parka (2 colors)
$1,295 – Burberry Down-Filled Coat with Detachable Fur Trim
$1,295 – Nobis ‘The Maverick’ (2 colors)
$1,150 – Mackage Edward Hip Length Down Winter Parka with Fur (2 colors)
$1,125 – Parajumpers Harraseeket (Black or Olive)
$1,100 – Canada Goose Balmoral Parka Black Label
$1,050 – Canada Goose Windermere Coat Black Label (2 colors)
$890 – Mackage Vaughn-SP Hip Length Winter Down Coat with Fur
$765 – A.P.C. Fighter Parka
$700 – Arc’teryz Therme Parka (2 colors)
$690 – Mackage Cobain Medium Weight Down, Techno Twill Parka
$465 – Penfield Hoosac Hooded Down Mountain Parka (2 colors)
$170 – Uniqlo Men U Blocktech Parka (2 colors)
$129 – H&M Padded Parka

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Fall and Winter Casual Jackets

The best jackets for the Fall (and Winter if you live in a climate like Southern California) are bombers, trucker & flight jackets, as well as utility (aka M65 aka Safari aka Field) jackets. Now, which one you should wear depends on your body type and how you’ll be wearing it. But I’ll get into that shortly.

The goal with your jacket, just like everything else in your wardrobe, should be to create a sharp, polished look and not draw attention away from the rest of your outfit. With that being said, your jacket is a great place to insert those Fall colors ( I specifically like dark green, camel, navy or black for these jackets) I was talking about in the series intro.

If you want something a little more formal or heavier, check out my Men’s Overcoat, Topcoat and Peacoat article and video.

Trucker/Flight Jackets

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$735 – Todd Snyder x Private White V.C. Shearling Melton Wool Bomber Jacket

I love a good wool or suede trucker or flight jacket for the Fall. I’m lumping these together because they look very similar. A trucker is basically a denim jacket but in a different material. I’m not going to discuss denim jackets because those are really a spring/summer item because they’re not very warm.

A trucker usually has buttons on the front and a flight jacket has a zipper front. You want to make sure your jacket stops at hip level, like a bomber would, and is fitted through your shoulders and torso. There are a ton of trucker jackets out there that have shearling or fur collars, which I really love, but I’d recommend choosing a jacket where you have the option of removing the collar, that way, you can get two different looks out of one jacket.

If you’re a broader guy, I wouldn’t recommend this jacket because the combination of the collar and shorter length of the jacket will make you look really top heavy. With your body type, whenever you have a jacket that stops at hip level, you want to make sure it’s as streamlined as possible, like a bomber.

Budget Friendly

$40 – H&M Wool-Blend Shirt Jacket 
$60 – H&M Wool Blend Bomber Jacket (2 colors)
$100 – H&M Wool-Blend Jacket 
$150 – Zara Double Faced Bomber Jacket
$150 – TopMan Khaki Check Wool Blend Western Jacket
$160 – TopMan Khaki Wool Mix Flight Jacket

Designer

$340 – A.P.C. Highway Jacket
$900 – Club Monaco Suede Trucker Jacket
$900 – Vince Suede Trucker Jacket
$2,400 – Burberry Cashmere Jacket

Bomber Jackets

A.P.C. Louis W Suede Bomber Jacket

$1,455 – A.P.C. Louis W Suede Bomber Jacket

Speaking of bomber jackets, I consider them the utility infielder of the jacket world. I use them all the time with clients because they look great on every man, regardless of his body type. They break up your body at the waist nicely, keeping everything proportional.

If you’re a guy with a larger midsection, the one thing to watch out for with bomber jackets is zipping it up. If you do that, you just created a large swath of fabric that’ll actually accentuate your mid-section. So if you’ve got a bit of a belly or are just a bigger guy, do not zip up your bomber jacket, ever. And I’m not joking about that, either.

Budget Friendly

$30 – Zara Man Suedette Jacket (2 colors)
$50 – Uniqlo MA-1 Bomber Jacket (2 colors)
$110 – Topman  Plaid Bomber Jacket 
$138 – J. Crew Wallace & Barnes Boiled Wool Bomber Jacket
$160 – Topman Black Faux Suede Formal Bomber Jacket  

Designer

$248 – J. Crew Wallace & Barnes Wool MA-1 Bomber Jacket 
$650 – PS by Paul Smith Bouclé-Panelled Wool-Blend Twill Bomber Jacket
$895 – Rag & Bone Reversible Manston Jacket
$995 – J. Crew Buttoned Suede Bomber Jacket 
$995 – Theory Brant Suede Bomber Jacket 
$2,400 – Burberry Leather Bomber Jacket 

Utility Jackets

Parajumpers Genesee Urban Anthracite

$800 – Parajumpers Genesee Urban Anthracite

The last type of jacket I love for Fall and Winter is a utility jacket, aka Safari, Field, or an M65 jacket.

This jacket differs from my other favorites because if it fits well, it’ll hit somewhere between mid to lower crotch – so it’s a great option if you want a longer jacket. But please, nothing longer or shorter than that, otherwise it’ll throw off the proportions of your body.
I really like this style for heavier men, almost more than a bomber or trucker style because the slightly longer jacket length and pockets on the front break up your broader torso and will make you look smaller.

And if you’re a thinner guy – just beware of this style of jacket that has a hood in the collar because it will look too bulky/heavy around your thinner frame, especially the neck area, and will actually make you look skinnier. Instead, you need your jacket to have a standing collar or at least a collar that’s free from any puffiness.

Regardless of your body type, this type of jacket needs to be very fitted throughout so it doesn’t look like you’re swimming in a bunch of pockets and fabric. This is important because it can make a thin guy look skinnier and a broader gentlemen look even heavier than he is.

Budget Friendly


$70 – H&M Cargo Jacket
$70 – Uniqlo Men U Work Jacket (2 colors)
$130 – Calvin Klein Four-Pocket Utility Jacket (2 colors)
$180 – TopMan Grey Bonded Wool Blend Parka
$200 – J. Crew Field Mechanic Olive Jacket
$200 – J. Crew Field Mechanic Navy Jacket

Designer

$450 – J. Crew Barbour Ogston Jacket 
$655 – Paul Smith Twill Cotton Safari Jacket 
$800 – Parajumpers Genesee Urban Black
$994 – Club Monaco Golden Bear Field Coat 
$1,030 – VISVIM Achse Cotton-Canvas Field Jacket
$1,500 – Moncler Ampere
$1,600 – Todd Snyder Suede Quad Jacket in Tobacco
$2,950 – Tom Ford Vintage Wash Safari Jacket 
$5,000 – Ralph Lauren Purple Label Shearling and Leather-Trimmed Suede Field Jacket
$7,400 – Tom Ford Suede Military Jacket

Materials

I like suede or leather for Fall/Winter because it’s visually heavier, but just be careful about wearing suede in wet or snowy weather. But if you don’t want leather or suede, you can use a cotton or wool bomber or trucker, as well.

For utility jackets, anything but leather goes. They look a little too 70’s pornstar-ish to me.

Best Ways To Wear Your Fall Jackets

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Wallace & Barnes Wool Bomber Jacket
Topman Premium Grey Sweater
Allen Edmonds Black Poplar Dress Belt
Burberry Slim Fit Wool Trousers
Allen Edmonds First Avenue Dress Boots
Rolex Submariner Date Watch
Tom Ford Snowdon Sunglasses

fallwinteressentials-bomber-jacket-ashleyweston3 fallwinteressentials-bomber-jacket-ashleyweston4Topman Khaki (Green) Wool Flight Jacket
H&M Premium Cotton Shirt
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Burberry Slim Fit Wool Trousers
Allen Edmonds First Avenue Dress Boots
Rolex Submariner Date Watch
Tom Ford Snowdon Sunglasses

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Parajumpers Genesee Urban Jacket
Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Dress Shirt
Diesel Buster 0607A Jeans
Allen Edmonds Newline Ave Casual Belt
Purdey Grain Leather Boots
Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses

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Fall and Winter Boots For Men

There’s 3 types of Fall and Winter Boots for men that I love for this time of year – Dress, casual and chukka boots.

The reason I love boots for Fall/Winter is that they go so well with jeans, wool trousers and fall/winter suits. They also do a great job of keeping your feet warm and protected from the elements – while looking classy and more refined than a pair of hiking boots or something that’s just a straight utility item.

Now, if you live in an area with a good amount of snow or rain, then you should probably have specialty boots for the crazy days, too, but those are outside the scope of this article. 

The difference between dress and casual boots

Dress boots are more formal and can be worn with a suit or wool trousers. They have a sleeker profile, usually leather or dainite soles, and are made out of shinier calf skin, as opposed to cow hide. Dress boots are like dress shoes with a shaft, basically.

Casual boots usually have more room in the toe box, the leather is usually a thicker cowhide that is more matte, and the soles usually have lugs on them. They look a little less dressy and sophisticated, which is why they look so great with jeans, but you can also still wear them with wool trousers.

My Requirements for a good Fall/Winter Boot

These items apply to all the types of boots – dress, casual and chukka boots:

1. A slim profile and not chunky

Timberlands (right) are the exact opposite of what I’m looking for in a good boot. You want a nice, rounded toe box with a slim profile as well as sole like the image below.

dressvsworkbootashleywestoncropped

2. Plain, Cap Toe or Broguing

I like all 3 of them, but just like with my dress shoes, I’ll always prefer a plain or cap-toe, but broguing is also acceptable. Broguing is not really my preference because I think a lot of guys overdo it with the broguing, burnished toes, etc. Too much can easily look gaudy if you’ve got too much going on in your outfit.

plaincaptoebroguingashleyweston

3. Lugged, Dainite or Rubber soles

These will give great grip in any type of weather. A normal dress boot has smooth leather on the bottom and you will slip and slide like crazy in wet weather. If you’re not in a climate with rain/snow, then you can go with straight leather bottoms typically found on most dress boots, but I see no reason to do that when any rubber bottom aside from lugged will look very similar with the extra benefit of additional traction.

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4. Be brown or black leather

Go with nice dark chocolate or walnut brown first, then get black if you don’t have them already. Brown is a great fall/winter color and is easier to wear with casual AND more formal outfits. But be careful about getting a really specific brown color, like oxblood. As I’ve said in my other shoe videos, it’s a great color but doesn’t compliment a lot of outfits, so get that color once you’ve got these basics down.

And please, whatever you do, don’t get those terrible boots that are already worn in. It’s much better for you to wear them in yourself and really personalize their look to your actual lifestyle.

5. NOT be Suede

For Fall and Winter boots, suede is the last material you should consider, unless you live in a dry climate like Southern California where it rains maybe 3 or 4 times a year. Otherwise, they’ll get screwed up very quickly with any amount of rain or snow. I don’t care how much scotch guard you use, nothing can stand up to that much abuse. So save the suede shoes for spring, please.

Can I wear boots with a suit?

Yes, but only when these 2 conditions are met:

  1. You’re wearing a heavier wool or tweed suit.
    For a visually heavy item like boots, you should understand fabric weights and pairing them with similar items. Even straight up dress boots can look odd with lighter weight wool suits. Make sure the wool is atlas 12oz thick. The easiest way to tell what a heavy wool suit feels like in person, is it should be as thick as a wool sweater (not as soft, though!)
  2. Your pants are hemmed to have no break.
    The hem of your pants will look sloppy and bunched at the ankle, otherwise. You can technically cuff the hem of your suit pants to do this, but if they’re super long, it’ll never look quite right. So I usually just get the pants hemmed to no break for this. But that means you can’t wear this suit with anything but boots now…unless you have your tailor let out the hem when the seasons change.

How To Tie Your Boots

Check out my shoe and boot tying video for how to tie your shoelaces properly.

Best Ways To Wear Boots For Men

fallwinteressentialsbootsashleywestonoutfit1

Topman Black Faux Suede Bomber Jacket
H&M Dark Grey Merino Wool Turtleneck
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date
Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses
Diesel Buster 0607A Jeans
Allen Edmonds Black Poplar Dress Belt

fallwinteressentialsbootsashleywestonoutfit2

Parajumpers Anthracite Urban Genesee Jacket
Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date
Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses
Diesel Buster 0607A Jeans
Allen Edmonds Newline Ave Casual Belt

fallwinteressentialsbootsashleywestonoutfit3

Topman Stone Faux Suede Flight Jacket (It’s technically a Peuterey jacket, but it’s only available in Europe)
Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Spread Collar Dress Shirt
IWC Portuguese Automatic Watch
Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses
H&M Black Melange Wool Suit Pants
Allen Edmonds Newline Ave Casual Belt

The Best Fall Winter Boots For Men

Casual Boots

Budget Friendly

Aldo Acerrassi

$200 – Aldo Acerrassi

$175 – Aldo Etausen Boot (2 colors)
$175 – Johnston & Murphy Conard Wingtip Boot (3 colors)
$220 – Jack Erwin Carter Wingtip Boot (2 colors)

Designer

$580 – Purdey Grain Leather Boots

$275 –Johnston & Murphy Eldredge Wingtip Boot
$318 – FRYE Tyler Lace Up (2 colors)
$395 – Wolverine 1000 Mile Boot 
$420 – Dayton Parade Boot
$610 – Crockett & Jones Coniston Black Boot
$725 – Crockett & Jones Coniston Tan Boot
$775 – Crockett & Jones Islay Wingtip Boot

Dress Boots

Budget Friendly

Calvin Klein Darsey Brown Boot

$140 – Calvin Klein Darsey Dark Brown Leather Boots

$60 – Stafford Deacon Wingtip Leather Boots (2 Colors)
$135 – Stacy Adams Madison Boot (2 colors)
$140 – Calvin Klein Darsey Black Leather Boot

Designer

Allen Edmonds First Avenue Black Boot

$445 – Allen Edmonds First Avenue Boot

$445 – Allen Edmonds First Avenue Brown Boot
$595 – Paul Smith Jarman Cap-Toe Leather Boots
$700 – George Cleverley William Cap-Toe Leather Boots
$770 – Grenson Pebble-Grain Leather Boots
$795 – George Cleverley Bryan Leather Brogue Boots 

Chukka Boots

Budget Friendly

Johnston & Murphy Fulton Chukka Black

$198 – Johnston & Murphy Fulton Black Chukka

$130 – Clark’s Desert Boot in Brown Suede
$150 – Aldo Granges Chukka Boot
$175 –Johnston & Murphy Conard Cap Toe Chukka (2 colors)
$198 – Johnston & Murphy Fulton Brown Chukka
$225 – Vince Camuto Branx Two-Eye Chukka (2 colors)

Designer

Allen Edmonds Dundee 2.0 Chocolate

$395 – Allen Edmonds Dundee 2.0 Suede Boots