Of Comfortable Boldness

Cardigans are one of those things that I cannot wear without immediately looking a) ten years older and b) thirty pounds heavier. It’s a dark magic and I cannot break the curse, but I do at least appreciate its consistency so I know to steer clear.

The man makes it work

If you’re going to try to pull this off, make sure the button-down shirt is fitted to the same length as the cardigan. Otherwise it will look slovenly instead of intentionally and carefully careless.

This relates back to style tips as follows: What works for some does not work for all; further, it is important to know what works for you. One of the points I will touch on a lot on this site is this: Style is about knowing yourself–what works for you, what fits well, and what makes you feel simultaneously bold but comfortable. Style is about articulating who you are and pushing the envelope enough to emphasize parts of your personality. That articulation requires the confidence to try new things, but also the confidence to buck trends. It’s a fine line and, as much as I like how it fits the guy in the picture above, it’s why I won’t be wearing any cardigans.


At the Airport

The glory days and romance of airports and train stations are long gone. Today, travel is about long lines, crying children, mediocre food and the occasional inglorious sprint to one’s gate. Still, we persevere and try to look good doing it. Really it comes down to this: Versatility and Comfort.

Today’s post is about the first portion of the trip, the airport or train station. The latter is much less of a hassle, but either way, the rules are this: comfortable shoes, dark clothes, a good blazer, and a good bag.

Shoes. No monkstraps. Yes, they look great but they are a hassle to take on and off. Surviving the airport is about efficiency and monkstraps are anything but. If traveling for work and it is a short trip, then I usually only bring one pair of shoes and they are nearly always black dress shoes as the suits I will be wearing for meetings are nearly always dark.

Fun tip: Switch out the laces to something colorful while traveling and switch back to dark laces for the work meetings.

Dark Clothes. Travel in darks. Three reasons: They are easy to match and it isn’t the end of the world if you spill something on yourself. Plus, it’s tough not to look good in black. I like a good pair of dark jeans or chinos–they are comfortable, they don’t wrinkle easily, and I can wear them with most anything. I match that either with a button-down shirt or a polo.

Travel Garb

The pocket square and laces add the pop to an otherwise conservative outfit

The Blazer/Sweater. I love wearing blazers while traveling as it classes everything up and you can use a brightly-colored pocket square to show some personality. However, once you are on the plane, unless you are in first class, there is the question of what to do with the blazer–fold it and hold on to it? Wear it and wrinkle it up? Fold it and stuff it into the overhead? If it’s too much of a hassle, there is the simple and clean v-neck sweater as an alternative.

Elevator Selfie

The Bag. For trips under three days, I tend to go with the mantra of “What Would James Bond Do?” and let me tell you something: He wouldn’t own a rolling suitcase. A weekender bag looks good, it’s distinctive, it easily fits in the overhead, and it forces you to pack light. Finally, it’s a god damn conversation piece. Look at that bag. It’s gorgeous.

Jack Spade's waxwear weekenders.

Jack Spade’s waxwear weekenders do wonders.

Loud Whispers

September’s warmth in DC belies the onset of autumn, but it helps us ache in anticipation for leaves changing colors, cool autumn breezes, and layers. Autumn is my favorite season for many reasons, but from a sartorial perspective, I like it because of the layers and how it maximizes my ability to play with color, textures, and styles. The seasons are slowly changing here and autumn’s possibilities and opportunities are so close.

I came across one of my favorite quotes years ago while reading the Sartorialist. It goes like this: Elegance is something that must be whispered and not shouted.

That is the balance I am looking for in my own personal style. On a not-unlimited budget and working in a corporate environment, how do I set myself as distinctive but also comfortable? How do I show off bits of my personality in my work-wear to my clients and coworkers, but not distract from the work side of things? The same thing applies when out of the office: Fashion is not everything for me, but it presents a great opportunity to show splashes of one’s personality and to whisper–sometimes more loudly than others–about one’s elegance and style.

Work Wear

That is what I want to examine here on 12minds. A balance between affordability, distinctiveness, and the occasional splurge. I want to figure out what fits, what works, and why it works.