December 21, 2009

Pocket luxury: shopping for the extraordinary in everyday things

Looking for little things that are luxurious but won't bankrupt the average shopper.

Pocket luxury is about buying the best of ordinary things to create pockets of luxury in your life. Be it the best hand-made toothbrush in the world or a silver pen to write the shopping list.

I visited Louis Vuitton (very nice people there, no joke) on Burrard in Vancouver, Tiffany & Co (they were hopping, what recession?), also on Burrard, and Holt Renfrew (with the nicest guide to the luxury department store) on Granville.

December 15, 2009

Holiday packing tips

The secret to a perfect holiday trip home means focusing on what really matters. Family, friends, peace, love and happiness are certainly important, but when it comes to menswear, knowing what to pack and what to wear can also make a man joyful and triumphant.

For Club Monaco’s menswear designer Timothy Farah in New York, the go-to travel item is “the perfect blazer.” He adds, “It can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion” Club Monaco offers the Wright blazer and the Channing Tuxedo blazer, both for $349 (top, with Fair Isle sweater and bowtie). The jackets are “tailored and modern.”

For the finishing touch, Farah says, has to be “a handkerchief in the breast pocket.”

Jeffery Spivock, the public relations senior manager for the Gap in Toronto, would wear a Banana Republic velvet blazer on the plane to avoid crushing it, $310 (bottom). He says it “looks as good with a pair of destructed jeans ($160) as it does dressed up for holiday drinks.”

If the itineary is elaborate and takes you from cold to warm cities Spivock says, “I always pack neutral staples that I can layer in multiple combinations and still look fresh.”

He suggests accessories will also make the difference. “A bright scarf (linen or wool), a bow-tie to dress up a classic white shirt, a pocket square, loafers or even a simple fitted t-shirt (for under a blazer in warm weather),” says Spivock. “ These take up little room in the suitcase, but add a big punch to the outfit.”

Adrienne Shoom, head stylist for Joe Fresh Style, thinks adding a zip-front Fair Isle sweater, $39, to the checklist is a good idea. The sweater’s intricate geometric patterns are “festive without going overboard, perfect for the holiday season and then cozy for hitting the slopes.”

And since lounging with in-laws in boxers may not do, Shoom has a great
pointer: pyjamas.

Shoom says, “This season Joe Fresh did great plaid pjs for men - cozy and perfect for Christmas morning.”

Some packages, it would seem, should always stay under wraps.

Black tie tips from Brooks Brothers

JJ in the Vancouver Sun:

VANCOUVER — To rent or to buy is not the question.

What really matters when it comes to wearing black tie is looking like you belong in a tuxedo.

Admittedly, all men can't be James Bond or Barack Obama, but it is possible to achieve some true panache, thereby avoiding any associations with Batman's flightless adversary, the Penguin (who technically wore a tailcoat and therefore was dressed in white tie), or high school graduation.

Guy Voglino, New York-based divisional merchandise manager for Brooks Brothers, offered the following advice....

(read the rest in the Vancouver Sun)

December 10, 2009

Savile Row sojourn, Dege & Skinner and Henry Poole & Co

If you've been wondering where I've been, well, I've been in merry olde England.

Part of my research for my book, I had a chance to go to the backrooms and basements of Savile Row. Here are a few photographs of England's greatest tailors (and therefore the world!).

Paul at Henry Poole & Company

Henry Poole & Company

The shirt cutting bench at Dege & Skinner (say "Deej", if you're wondering)

Henry Poole & Company

In the basement livery workshop at Henry Poole & Company.