November 16, 2009

Local jewelry: a few basics about quality in Vancouver-made artisan jewelry with designer Justine Brooks

I know NOTHING about jewelry.

The problem is Vancouver is a hotbed of local design. And hitherto, I've been silent on the subject.

Until now. Today, On The Coast, I spokewith host Stephen Quinn about what consumers should know about quality before spending money on jewelry this holiday season.

To help me along, I visited with designer Justine Brooks. I think her work is fantastic and she really exploits the seaside/boreal rainforest vibe of Vancouver.

If you like Justine's work, you can find it at Chachkas on South Granville in Vancouver.

Shoe renewer, Mr. Ho's new digs on Robson Street

If you need MORE than a quick drop-off and instant, most likely dubious, shoe repairs, you need to know Mr. Ho, my shoe guy for the last ten years.

The news: he is still in business.

You see, he used to be next to the Vancouver diner, Cafe S'il Vous Plait (remember smoking there and drinking bottomless coffees?), but the rent went up and left Mr. Ho looking for new digs. If you go there now, you'll find an empty shop and no sign as to where he went (shameful landlord).

Well, he has found a new cobbling corner - a few blocks east at 292 Robson Street near Hamilton, across the street from the CBC and TV Towers.

He played a big part in my shoe education. Church's, John Lobb, Edward Green, Dack's Made in England. He told me, if you find them, buy them. And I did. Amassing quite a fine collection of cap-toes and winged brogues.

More importantly, Mr. Ho takes care of my shoes and he does it with a love of what he does. Three decades and still marching on. Congrats on the new repair shop, Mr. Ho!

November 13, 2009

From my upcoming book with McClelland and Stewart:

I think a father should teach his son how to wear a suit. It’s the outfit a man will wear to nearly every major rite of passage in his life, right to the bitter end. What do you think you'll wear when you’re dead? Your preferences won’t matter because there’s a good chance your survivors will put you in a suit. Graduation, marriage, job interview. Got caught embezzling? You were probably wearing a suit when you allegedly committed the crime and you’ll wear one when you stand trial.

Okay, let’s say you put in your will you don’t want to wear a matching top and bottom the day you are sent of to the hereafter – what do you think your memorializers will don? Ashes and rags? And let’s say you stipulate you don’t want people to wear a suit at your funeral service, well, what kind of jerk are you, any way? Here’s a rule in life, never deny people the chance to dress up. It shows a meaness of spirit.

Besides, if the men dress up, so do the women. Even at a funeral, women look hot in black. Men should note navy blue, really dark midnight blue and really dark grey are currently considered more tasteful in situations of mourning unless whilst attending the funeral of Yves St. Laurent.

When you attend one that is not your own, you don’t want to appear as Death himself or Karl Lagerfeld. You are not the undertaker. Wearing a black shirt with a black tie and a black suit should only be reserved for the person who double-tapped the deceased with a Heckler and Koch USP 9mm, one in the chest and one in the head.


November 5, 2009

Savile Row

A great little teaser. I can't wait to visit it later this month.

November 4, 2009

Trenchant timing on raincoats

Sometimes, Fashion Monday is just a day or two ahead of even's email newsletter, even if it's recycled from 2002.

HBC's Olympic collection: Cowichan or Cowichan-styled sweaters

Team Canada's Cowichan sweaters WILL be a hit.

But as I mentioned in my look at the collection, I cautiously used the term "Cowichan-styled" to describe the garment. I wrote:

"However, I couldn't confirm if the suppliers are Cowichan knitters. So, it's more accurate to describe it as a Cowichan-styled sweater."

And it's a good thing. Cowichan Knitters are not happy with the cultural appropriation of the form. Read about it in a local Cowichan paper here.

Thanks to blog reader, Con, for the link.

November 3, 2009

Stop the Misnomerosity! Gents, learn your overcoat (er, raincoat) basics

The nip is in the air and male readers may be wondering how to keep off the chill (ok, it's not so bad in Vancouver).

Easy, right? Not so. There are many styles of overcoats and raincoats. Frequently, retailers (both online and bricks and mortar), journalists and bloggers use the wrong terms.

It's a big deal because different style coats suit different body types. If people used the correct nomenclature, it would make life googling and net shopping far better.

For those who agree, here is a guide:

Mackintosh (left) is a raincoat. It is also a famous English brand. Like John Lennon wrote, "The man in the Mack..."

The silhouette is tubular and currently cut tight and short. It is a closed throated coat. The button (except for the top one) are hidden. The lines are simple with minimal detailing. If they have flap or patch pockets, they are an abomination. Slash side pockets, please. It suits most body types. However, short, thick torso men should avoid mid-thigh or higher hems. It becomes too boxy especially when used as an overcoat.

For a local source, look for Black Brown at The Bay (below, left). It is $250. You can find it exclusively Downtown.

The Mack is often referred to as a trench coat (Brooks Brothers what are you doing?) but it's either wrong or an indifferent Americanism. A real trench coat has its origin in the trenches of the First World War. Originally made by Burberry, the coat was made for infantry.

Locally, a modern winter-weight version in black can be found at The Bay by Full Circle for $575 (above, right).

The details: a heavy and long turn down collar to protect the neck; a heavy belt, originally designed to take the weight of a string of grenades; and, on this version, double-breasted to protect the chest.

If you're thick and tall, the double breast can break down the volume of your chest. The belting will give you some waist and a more heroic silhouette.

If you're shorter, you should avoid belting at the front. Instead tie it at the back. Overall, the coat has to be tight. A suit jacket underneath is a tall order for a shorter man (avoid).

Wear it the way you would wear a jean jacket - with a sweater or, for collegial prepness, a sweat shirt on the weekend. Also make sure the hem isn't too short - boxiness is always a threat. Plus never leave the belt dangling or in your side pockets. Always go for tying at the back! Trust me, this is actually traditional.

Finally, a word about the virtues of the pea coat , right.

This Polo Ralph Lauren Academy Pea Coat (The Bay, $525) is cut very narrow and short and works best with jeans and a nice sweater-tie combo. Note the double-breasted six on eight buttons. If you work in a business casual environment it has enough structure to tidy up ones look but is informal enough to keep your co-workers from asking you too many questions about your recent makeover.

The rotund should avoid it.

However, if you are a bit bottom heavy, look into a balmacaan. That's my coat of choice. It looks like a Mack except it has raglan sleeves. This means it doesn't have a set-in sleeve. Instead, they run into the collar the way sweatshirts and warm up jackets are made. The armholes are wider but the positive side is it is an A-line. This can elongate a figure and avoids the sausage effect of trench coats and Macks.

The hem should be somewhere between the knee and mid-thigh if you are heavier but NOT below the knee. Too much fabric will make you look worse.

Brilliant Pea Coats

GQ did a very smart thing this week when they featured this season's pea coats modeled by, very clever, Navy personnel.

My take on coats to keep you warm is coming up soon!

November 2, 2009

Update: Makeshift's amazing boots

Natalie Purschwitz 0f is making all her own clothes, accessories and shoes for a year. She will wear nothing else.

Here is her amazing boot, version 2. Keep at it, Natalie!