Leather Wallets

Like I said in the series Intro Video, the things a man carries on his person projects and influences his life and personality in ways he may not notice. And this is no more true than with the little piece of leather or fabric that he carries every single day – his wallet.

I’ve seen it all when it comes to how men carry their cards and cash. I’ve had clients with no wallets who just carry a bunch of loose or rubber-banded cards and cash in their pockets, while others carry these massive monstrosities that I wince at just thinking about how uncomfortable it must be to sit on something like that all day.

As I mentioned in my 10 Most Overlooked Style mistakes ebook, full pockets ruin perfectly good outfits. I see it all the time. The sad part, is a lot of wallet manufacturers continue to sell these massive and bulky things they call wallets. I often wonder what man would see these and think this is something they should carry everyday for the next decade.

I’m going show you the different wallets I recommend to my clients.

There’s a few things that every gentleman’s wallet should be:

  • Clean & classically designed
  • As thin or small as possible
  • Understated in color and material

So let’s get into the different types of wallets that are best for you and determine what to have and why.

Bi-fold or Bill Fold wallets

These are the ones you probably envision when thinking about wallets. These typically go in the back pocket, but some men carry them in their front pockets. I don’t advise this, though, because it’ll leave a very noticeable buldge and, depending on the pants, a very odd square fading on the leg.

Valextra – Simple Grip Spring

Valextra Simple Grip Spring Wallet Ashley Weston

Valextra Simple Grip Spring Wallet Open Ashley Weston

Buy the Valextra Simple Grip Spring Wallet

The only word that comes to mind when I hold this wallet is luxury. The textured leather and construction feels, pardon my french, so [email protected]#$ing good. I really love the classic design.

This wallet is the thinnest of all the billfolds I’ve seen, which is important because if a wallet is thick while it’s empty, imagine what happens when you start filling it?

The thinness is made possible by nixing the bill slot and using a spring-loaded money clip in the middle. There’s other wallets similar to this by other designers, but they were either not great quality, had a logo all over them, or just had an odd pattern or design.

If you want something almost as thin as a card wallet, but with the ability to hold cash, this wallet is the best I’ve ever seen. That’s on top of it’s impeccable attention to detail, like the hand lacquered piping along the edges that’ll keep this wallet looking new for a long time. If you can’t tell, I love this wallet.

In the video, I have a special edition Petroleum blue, but I also love their dark blue, black and gray colors, as well.

Buy the Valextra Simple Grip Spring Wallet

Bellroy – Low Down

Bellroy Low Down Wallet Ashley Weston

Buy the Bellroy Low Down Wallet

If the Valextra wallet isn’t your speed then definitely go for the Low Down.

I’ve recommended this wallet to a few friends and clients and they’ve held up amazingly well, even after a year of daily use.

The tapered corners and shorter height help make it feel less chunky and big. And the leather is sturdy yet supple without a hint of shiny or glossy-ness which plagues a lot of wallets.

There’s one thing that bothers me a little and it’s the contrast stitching. I wish it was the same color as the rest of the wallet, but it’s an admittedly small quibble since it’s close enough in color that most people would never notice.

The black and charcoal are the colors you should go for. I normally like brown, as well, but their brown and blue colors were too loud.

Buy the Bellroy Low Down Wallet

Octovo – The Purist

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The Purist is constructed of thin, high-quality leather and features a simple but efficient design.

I love the angled slots, which diminish bulkiness and make it easier to access the cards. Even when full, this wallet is still quite slim.

I’m not the biggest fan of the two-toned leather lining, but it’s not enough to sway my recommendation.

My only concern with this wallet is the outter leather. Shiny leathers, like this, tend to show every little mark or stain on them. If you’re a little rougher on your wallets, I’d probably go with the Bellroy.

I’d recommend getting their black and chestnut colors.

Folded Card Cases

I didn’t include these in the video because they’re a little more niche than a bi-fold wallet or regular card case since they fold like a wallet, but can’t hold much cash. I still like them a lot and some clients prefer them over the non-folding card cases, so I thought best to include them.

Louis Vuitton – Pocket Organizer

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louis-vuitton-pocket-organiser-interior

Buy the Louis Vuitton Pocket Organizer

With smooth, coated edges and the different interior pockets, my clients really love this wallet. I’ve even given them as gifts a few times. I think the design, pocket placement and textured leather really stands out and feels great in the hand. Just a warning, it’s a little thicker than the other card cases, so if you’re looking for super small and thin, you won’t get it with this one. It feels more like a wallet than a card case.

Buy the Louis Vuitton Pocket Organizer

Valextra – Folded Card Case

Valextra Folded Card Case Ashley Weston

Valextra Card Case

Buy the Valextra Folded Card Case

Just like with their bi-fold wallet and regular card case (below), the leather is awesome and the design so classic and thin that it’s hard not to love it. I especially like how they keep the logo very small and out of the way, unlike some other brands…

Buy the Valextra Folded Card Case

Coach – Card Wallet

Coach Crossgrain Card CaseCoach Crossgrain Card Case Opened

Buy the Coach Card Wallet

If the other options are a little pricey, you will love this one. I love the textured leather and the construction is quite good. A lot of times, Coach misses the mark, but they nailed it with this card wallet.

Buy the Coach Card Wallet

Card Cases

These are for the guys who want the slimmest wallet-ish thing possible and don’t have the need to carry much cash. Or, as I’ll touch upon later, as a secondary, going-out wallet.

Valextra – Card Case

Valextra Card Case Ashley Weston

Buy the Valextra Card Case

Just like their bi-fold wallet. This card case is super luxurious, thin and well-constructed. There’s not much else to say, I actually like this one because it has 6 slots, so you won’t have to stack a lot of cards in it. Most other card cases have 3 or 4 slots so you’ll have to dig through your cards to find the right one.

Buy the Valextra Card Case

Bellroy – Micro Sleeve

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Buy the Bellroy Micro Sleeve

If the Valextra isn’t your thing, this is a great alternative. Just like their bi-fold wallet, it’s a super durable, thin and features a unique and logical design.

The card slots with different orientations, make it’ easier to pull out your cards and squeeze the sides to expose the center pocket’s contents. I also love the curved edges since it’s easier to slip in and out of your pocket and not catch or snag on anything.

Just like with their Low Down wallet, though, I wish the stitching wasn’t so contrasting. I only like the black or blue steel colors because the other options are either two-toned or really loud.

Buy the Bellroy Micro Sleeve

Octovo – The Slice

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Soft, supple leather and classy as hell. Unlike with their bi-fold wallet, I actually like the two-tone top pocket because it’s just a little nice surprise and doesn’t scream at you.

Black is the best color for this wallet, and just like with their bi-fold wallet, I question the durability of the leather if you’re rougher on your wallets, but I really, really like the clean and simple design.

Phone Wallet

If you’re looking for a wallet that holds you cards, cash and phone, these are for you. Let me warn you, though, they’re the opposite of slim wallets. If you wear suits, carry a bag often, or don’t mind carrying your wallet in your hand, these are right up your alley.

I’ve had clients explain to me the joy of carrying their phone in their wallets – where it takes a little more effort and time to get to their phones. They say it makes their actions more deliberate and less reactive and schizophrenic. It’s almost like an excuse to take their time. One client explained the opening/unzipping his phone wallet like a sort of ritual. Like rolling up your shirt sleeves or doing something methodically.

I looked long and hard for good ones and even though there’s a lot out there, I found most of them to be lacking in one major area or another.

Bellroy – Phone Pocket

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Buy the Bellroy Phone Wallet

Like Bellroy’s bi-fold wallet and card case (above), the phone pocket is made from the same leather that is very scratch and blemish resistant with a buttery smooth zipper and an equally logical and well-thought out design. My clients who use this wallet really love it.

I love the pocket layout, where the phone fits in the main compartment and your cards fit in a bit of a floating divider, making everything easily accessible. It also has slots for extra SIM cards, small pens and a place to put your house key. They literally thought of everything.

They make two sizes – for larger and smaller phones. I only like the black, though, as the other colors have odd-colored zippers and pull tabs, and/or the color is just too loud and not befitting a proper gentleman.

Buy the Bellroy Phone Wallet

This is Ground – Stash, Phone Wallet

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Buy ‘The Stash’ Phone Wallet

After scouring the web for months trying to find other great phone wallets, I was so happy to find This Is Ground. Turns out that they’re located less than 5 miles away from my office! I got to visit them and they showed me all their goods and I was very impressed.

If you don’t like the Bellroy Phone Pocket, then go for this one. It cuts out all the extra frills and gives you just the essentials. Which is not a bad thing at all. Some clients noted how they preferred how this one opens flat over the taco-style opening of the Bellroy.

The leather is so supple and nice to hold that it really sets itself apart. It’s not as scratch/blemish resistant as the Bellroy, but this wallet will age and mature with you and have a much nicer patina.

The only downside is that the zipper tends to stick a little for the first week or two. My clients were definitely spoiled after using the Bellroy, but they all said it smoothed out after “working it in”, so it’s a minor quibble.

I love the Smoke (black) and Cognac colors the most. The Cognac looks amazing in person. The Stash comes in small and large phone sizes, as well.

Buy ‘The Stash’ Phone Wallet

 

So which wallet(s) should you own?

For my clients, I normally recommend they get a bi-fold or phone wallet and then a card case for when they don’t need to carry as much – like when they’re going out for the night or to a premiere or after-party, where seeing pocket bulges is a big no-no.

For a guy that likes his phone and wallet separate and needs to carry a decent amount of cards/cash with him, I’d say get a bi-fold and get a card case for when you’re going out for the night or just don’t need to carry all your stuff with you.

If you want to carry as little with you as possible and hate added bulk, get a card case. But don’t delude yourself and cram 15 cards into a card case and still think it’ll be slim. If that’s the case, you should just get a bi-fold, as it’ll do a better job of distributing that bulk in your pocket.

If you’re a guy who likes to carry everything all together, or doesn’t want to sit on a chunk of leather and cards, then the phone wallets are for you.

I think a man should have a regular, everyday wallet that can be placed into a breast pocket in your blazer or suit jacket and some form of a slim wallet that can slide into a front or back pants pocket when you don’t need everything – like when you’re going out for the evening, etc.

Just like with keys, you don’t need to and shouldn’t have to carry everything with you at all times. Most men/my clients love to say “But what if I need something in the wallet?”

The argument quickly crumbles when I ask them:
“So you’re going out for drinks with your friends, and need your gym, library, membership cards in case you need to go work out while reading a book at 2am?”

Most men know what kind of night they’re going to have, so don’t pull that BS of needing your tactical wallet with you at all times.

The Navy Blazer

The Navy Blazer or Sport Coat or Sports Jacket, whatever you want to call it (we’ll go with Blazer from here on out), is an essential because it’s the very definition of business or dressy casual. It pairs incredibly well with dark wash jeans, oxford or semi-spread collar dress shirtsOxford dress shoes and almost any other mix of dressy or casual wear in your Essential Wardrobe.

NOTE: A Navy Blazer looks horrible with a pair of tan chinos/khakis. This is the quintessential older, out-of-touch-guy-who-wants-to-dress-up uniform. Just. don’t – Ever.

Blazer vs Sport Coat

I see some resources online talking about how a Blazer is different from a Sport Coat/Sports Jacket and honestly, in all my years in the industry, the term is used so interchangeably that it doesn’t matter. They’re basically the same garment. If I have a hard time telling the difference, you’ll have an even harder time, so I say don’t worry about it and call it whatever you want.

Blazer vs Suit Jacket

The differences between a Blazer and Suit Jacket are constantly debated. A lot of sources say they’re the same, others say they’re different, but allow me to flex my teeny tiny muscles a bit, as I deal with these items day in and day out.

First and foremost, they’re not the same. A Blazer is made of thicker fabric so it pairs better with other clothing items of different weights, like jeans, for example. A Suit Jacket is made of lighter material and should only be worn as part of a suit.

You may not notice, but fabric weights can influence whether an outfit looks off or not. Blazers are not made of the same weight of fabric that a Suit Jacket is.

If you have a chance, go somewhere that requires a jacket be worn – like a business casual event or restaurant that requires a dinner jacket be worn – and I guarantee you’ll see some guys wearing suit jackets with jeans or khakis. I’m sorry to call them out, but older gentleman are the worst offenders here.

I want you to notice how it just looks… weird. The jacket fabric seems a little too “thin” and “flowy” compared to the pants because it’s too light of a fabric to go with a heavier fabric like denim or khaki. They don’t lay or move the same, so it looks weird.

The problem is that most guys see pictures of other guys wearing suit jackets with denim pants and think it looks great, which it does – in pictures. In person it looks bad due to the differing fabric weights. So trust me on this one – you need separate Blazers and Suit Jackets.

How To Tell A Blazer From A Suit Jacket

Here’s my patented 4-Step process to tell if a jacket is a Blazer or a Suit Jacket:

  1. If the buttons on the sleeves and torso are metal of any kind – that’s a Blazer.
  2. If it has matching pants – that’s a Suit Jacket.
  3. If the jacket is thinner or more delicate feeling – that’s a Suit Jacket.
  4. If it’s heavier, thicker or sturdier feeling – that’s a Blazer.

Fabric

I recommend you go with a heavier, textured wool fabric because its robust and you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this type of blazer. I like a fabric weight of between 8 to 10 ounces, depending on your climate (hotter climates, I like around 6 ounces). If you go heavier than my recommendations, then you’re getting into Fall/Winter territory and the lighter weight fabric would wrinkle pretty badly. This weight also looks best with the other items a blazer is typically worn with – jeans, wool pants, sweaters, etc. – basically everything else in your Essential Wardrobe. Lighter fabrics have very slim use cases and are a pain in the butt to maintain that they’re usually not worth the hassle.

The Best Colors for A Blazer or Sport Coat

If you read the title, you know I’m going to say navy :). The reason is because it will go with everything else in my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials list. If you already own a navy Blazer – great job! – then go with a Charcoal or Charcoal Herringbone pattern.

Vent Type

Ideally, you’ll want to go with a double vent. This style of vent has been around for quite a while and is flattering on every body type. With that being said, a single vent is not a poor choice, but it’s definitely second in my book. Just make sure that, no matter what, you never go with a blazer without a vent – it’s a horrible look.

How Should a Blazer or Sport Coat Fit?

Check out my Blazer/Sport Coat Fit Guide for details.

The Best Blazers or Sport Coats for men

Designer Option

I chose these blazers because they’re not only well-constructed, but they’re also made of a nice, textured fabric that has the perfect amount of weight to them. Each of these blazers has the 2-button, notch-lapel features that I love and that work on all body types. The navy Brooks Brothers blazer is only offered with gold buttons online, but they do have non-gold button options available in their stores. Stick with their Milano or Fitzgerald lines as they offer the most tailored fits. Ermenegildo Zegna and Z Zegna make incredible blazers that always makes me stop and touch them whenever I’m at the store pulling clothes for a client. Burberry is fantastic for slimmer men that are 5’10” and above.

Brooks Brothers Charcoal Milano Fit Herringbone Blazer

Brooks Brothers Navy Fitzgerald Fit Two-Button Blazer

Burberry Gray Slim Fit Travel Tailoring Jacket

Emporio Armani Navy Jacket in Textured Wool

Ralph Lauren Purple Label Navy Nigel Wool-Cashmere Blazer 

Zegna Gray Cashmere Blazer

Z Zegna Navy Drop 8 Two-Button Blazer 

Budget-Friendly Option

These are my go-to for blazers that look great, sport all the features I want to see on a blazer, and hit a more affordable price poin. J.Crew offers wool blazers for an extremely affordable price and their Ludlow line has a tailored fit that is fantastic and offered in a range of sizes, from Short to Regular to Tall. If you’re a slim to regular build, I love Topman because their cuts are the best! The material is usually a polyester-wool blend so it’s not the best, but it’ll get the job done and still look fantastic.

H&M Navy Blazer

J.Crew Navy Ludlow Legacy Blazer

J.Crew Grey/Navy Windowpane Ludlow Blazer

Topman Blue Slim Fit Jersey Blazer

Zara Navy Basic Blazer 

Topman Blue Wool Blend Skinny Fit Blazer

2 Best Ways To Wear a Blazer

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Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Two-Button Blazer

Tommy Hilfiger Mens Twill Dress Shirt

J Brand Tyler Slim Fit in Bellow

The Tie Bar Outpost Blue Pocket Square

Gucci GG pattern Silk Tie

The Tie Bar Colored Tie Bar

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave brown belt

Baume & Mercier Clifton-automatic

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

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Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Two-Button Blazer

Brooks Brothers Merino Wool Honeycomb Crewneck Sweater

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Solid Oxford Sport Shirt

Topman Selected Homme Grey Pants

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain Toe Oxfords

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Dress Casual Belt 

Blazer or Sport Coat Outfit Inspiration

 

Credits

Photography: Justiin Charles
Model: Joseph Boyd at Wilhelmina Models
Hair/Makeup: Brendan Robertson for Exclusive Artists Management using Clarins Skincare and Kevin Murphy Hair Care

Get This Look: Layering With Shades of Blue

When it comes to color, blue looks great on every guy. I love creating outfits for my clients that are composed of shades of blue (like I mention in this video). In sticking with the same color family, you can mix and match patterns creating an even sharper look.

Take note of the above outfit: A navy chalk striped wool suit worn with a light blue cotton dress shirt, navy wool tie, blue tipped cotton pocket square, and blue and white dot scarf. The suit, alone, can look very boring and conservative. However, mixing patterns within the blue color family, creates a sharp, eye-catching outfit.

Designer Option:

 

 

Brooks Brother Own Make Chalk Stripe Suit, $649
Burberry Slim Fit Cotton Poplin Shirt, $325
Burberry Slim Cut Navy Knitted Silk Tie, $195
Brunello Cucinelli Two-Tone Striped Linen and Cotton Pocket Square, $195
John Varvatos Mini Skull Dot Scarf, $248

Budget-Friendly Option:

Suitsupply Napoli Blue Plain, $400
Zara Sky Blue Oxford Shirt, $30
The Tie Bar Navy Woven Wool Blend Tie, $15
The Tie Bar Jet Plaid Pocket Square, $10
Gap Navy Lightweight Scarf, $40

How To Wear A Tuxedo Like These Leading Men

Curious about how to look as slick as these guys did in a tux at the 2013 Golden Globes?

Ben Affleck killed it last night in his navy 3-piece Gucci tuxedo. The fit was incredible. His bow tie perfectly complemented the width of his lapels which is a MUST when wearing a tux. The only (tiny) problem I have with this look is his vest. It seems to be a bit short which explains why we see a bit of his shirt peeking through at his stomach. Regardless, bravo!

Leonardo DiCaprio, hands down, wins Best Dressed of the night. His classic notch lapel tux was well tailored and just so slick. The hem of his pant had a slight break. Patent leather tux shoes. And the perfect size bow tie. Everything about this look was on point.

I adore Bradley Cooper. And I love his beautiful Tom Ford tux, with those powerful-sized lapels. However, I’m distracted by his bow tie, which looks so tiny in comparison to the width of his lapels. I wish the bow tie were bigger. Guys, take note. Your bow tie should always complement the width of your lapel. Wider lapel, bigger bow tie. Slimmer lapel, smaller bow tie.

What did you all think? Who were your Best Dressed Men at the 2013 Golden Globes?

How To Dress A Celebrity: Go Behind-The-Scenes With A Celebrity Menswear Stylist

Have you ever wondered what goes in to styling a client for a big event? I’m going to take you on the inside – from the moment I’m booked on a job to lint rolling the client’s outfit before they step onto the red carpet.

Monday, 11am:
I receive a call from a member of my client’s team that an outfit is needed for a big event they’re attending on Thursday. Crap, that’s only 72 hours.
We’ve got only one day to pull looks (outfits) from the designer’s showrooms (where their latest collections of clothing are held for magazine shoots and celebrities to use) before the fitting (when the client tries on the looks for the first time) takes place on Wednesday.

My team and I immediately get to work putting together a mood board.

billy reid, burberry prorsum, jil sander, gucci, fall 2012, runway collection

With all the great Fall pieces to choose from this season, I decide to steer away from the norm of a suit. It’s important that my clients always stand out from everyone while still ensuring the look is an honest representation of their personality. For this event, my team and I took inspiration from Paul Newman.

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Newman’s easy going style was an art form that all men should embody.

We decide a jacket with a strong collar layered over a sweater will be the foundation of the look. We come up with a bunch of possible combinations. Should we pair a grey cowl-neck sweater from Billy Reid with a leather jacket? Or how about a camel cowl neck layered over a button-down shirt and tie as seen on Burberry’s catwalk? Paired with a charcoal blazer? Perhaps Jil Sander’s classic black crewneck sweater and dress pants is effortless enough? A merlot sweater? After looking through designers’ lookbooks (a picture book of the season’s newest looks) for the right pieces, we race off to email and call showrooms to request the pieces. We’ve got only an hour before the NY showrooms close for the day.

Tuesday, 6am:
Between gulps of coffee, I’m calling New York showrooms, confirming the looks we requested the day before will be sent out in time to arrive at our office by noon tomorrow – just in time for the fitting with the client. My team and I then set about running around LA, securing (we call it “pulling”) clothes from designers who have their samples here in LA. It’s important to not entirely depend on samples coming from NY, in case some of the packages don’t arrive on time… or at all. Always, ALWAYS have a backup, especially if the packages are coming from NY. Too many variables can happen – bad weather, theft (this has happened a few times) and other acts of God.

Wednesday, Afternoon:
24 hours before Thursday’s event. The team and I gather all the looks – luckily, all the NY packages came on time (whew) – and load them into our cars to meet the client wherever they are – if they can’t meet at my office. Typically, the fitting can go one of two ways: One of the looks works perfectly without any fuss or the looks aren’t winners and I quickly rework the looks based on my intimate knowledge of the clothing and my client’s personal sense of style.

Once agreed, the clothes are pinned into place – this shows my tailor exactly where things need to be taken in, hemmed, etc. The outfit is then rushed to alterations. My tailor is used to my last minute requests. Everything is always urgent in this profession.

Tip: If you’ve ever wondered why stars looks so great on the red carpet, the biggest factor, aside from a few others, is having every piece of clothing altered to fit them. Whether off the runway or off the rack, clothes never fit perfectly. GET. THEM. ALTERED.

Thursday, Afternoon:
A few hours before the big event the finished pieces are picked up from the tailors and rushed to the client’s house. You’re probably thinking “Why do stylists need to be there when all the client has to do is put on the clothes and leave?” In a perfect world, that’s exactly how it’d be. But this isn’t a perfect world, so we’re there to ensure everything is absolutely perfect. In menswear, the smallest details are extremely important. The pants have to be cuffed at just the perfect length, the buckle of a belt positioned just right, the shirt tucked in just enough, I could go on for days…

With one roll of the lint brush, the look is complete and they’re on their way to walk the red carpet.

Definitely my favorite moment of the entire process is seeing pictures of that final look on the red carpet – it’s such a great feeling to see my clients look effortless, polished, and 100% true to themselves!