December 15, 2010

My complete list of pocket luxuries came out in the Vancouver Sun

Read the online version here (hip hip hooray) - but it lack pictures.

So, here are a some of the items (abbreviated) in living RGB colour.

At Crabtree and Evelyn, West Vancouver, Kent hand-made comb with case. The comb-maker of seven British monarchs. Brush your hair like you're Prince Harry. William, well, he doesn't have enough to use a comb, now does he ($29.75)?

UGG Australia's super comfortable Ascot slippers in suede with shearling. Wear them in our out. Can be found at the Australian Boot Company $149.95.

Designer Paul Smith, while visiting Vancouver's Holt Renfrew, put things this way: "Be brave. Do things more punchy, more special." Smith's signature stripes and bashful cowgirl hit the mark (at Holt Renfrew, starting at $105). They're dry and wry and give man jewelry a good name.
Killer dice at Birks, $125. The glinty numbers are crystals. Box is crocodile stamped leather. For the nerdier Dungeons & Dragons-type man, ie me, we can only hope Birks come out with a 20-sided version next year.

December 12, 2010

Metrodome collapse - would be no surprise to roof's designer

Three years ago, BC Place stadium experienced a roof failure.

As CBC Vancouver's design columnist, I spoke with one of the designers of BC Place's roof, Horst Berger. As a partner in the engineering firm of Geiger Berger, they designed several air-supported roofs including Minneapolis's Metrodome.

Here's the original piece:

"Original BC Place roof engineers split over design issues

(This Vancouver by Design column originally aired On The Coast on CBC Radio One in Vancouver)

January 9, 2007 - Vancouver - One of the original partners in the design company behind BC Place's roof told Vancouver By Design he left the company precisely because of a dispute over the design of such structures.

Horst Berger was one half of Geiger Berger - the company which designed the stadium's air supported roof; it collapsed last week after tearing.

Described by local engineers, as "daring, innovative, and pre-eminent" in the field of fabric roofs, Berger ended his partnership with David Geiger in 1983, the same year BC Place was completed.

Berger, 80, spoke to VBD by phone from his residence in New York state. When told about the tear and subsequent deflation, Berger said, "I'm not surprised."

"The air-supported structure depends on a mechanical system and that is it's Achilles heel."

Membrane roofs like the one on BC Place require pumped in air to keep the dome inflated and further require heaters to melt the snow.

Berger says, "You can not possibly design it [an inflated roof] to counteract a snow load. And I'm a conservative engineer. I want my design to last a thousand years."

But Geiger Berger's inflated roofs are entirely dependent on building owners following maintenance and operation protocols to keep the them up.

"And that's why I broke up the partnership," says Berger.

According to tent designer and engineer, Gery Warner of Tentnology, a large tent design firm in Vancouver, engineers specialized in the field of membrane or fabric roofs considered David Geiger, who is now deceased, as the "air-supported guy and Horst Berger as the tensile structure guy."

In tensile design, cables are used to hold the membranes up. Air-supported membranes use cables to keep the roof from billowing up - this cheaper technology was actually the brainchild of David Geiger.

But Berger says, "The structures are too unstable. It has to be air-tight to perform. Once there is a tear, it loses stability and the roof fails."

"That's why you haven't seen new ones being built."

After his breakup with Geiger, Berger started his own engineering firm with a focus on tensile structures like the sail-like roof of Canada Place in Vancouver, which Berger designed while at Geiger Berger. Berger points to the Denver International Airport, which he designed, as an example of the comparative robustness of tensile design. Denver has experienced record snowfalls this winter.

It is still unclear why BC Place's roof has failed though snowload and high-winds are possible causes.

Technically speaking, the present deflated position of BC Place's roof makes it now a tensile structure. However, in that position the roof will not be able to used its heaters to melt any accumulating snow and as of Tuesday night, the forecast is for up to 5 to 15 cm of snow.

Geiger engineer Kris Hamilton, based in Bellingham, Washington, says the roof in its inverted condition can sustain a snowload of 12 pounds per square feet. Under the building code, structures in Vancouver are required to endure snowloads greater than three times that amount.

BC Place general Howard Crosley told CBC Radio reporter Terry Donnelly the roof will not be damaged by the expected snowfall."

December 9, 2010

Apparently, this is the Pantone colour of the year...Honeysuckle (aka I used to call it fucshia or fuchsia or however you spell it)

“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.” 

Eiseman continues, “The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.”


The Blackfeet Indian Pencil - I own only this stub now. It is no longer manufactured on the soil of the Blackfeet Nation. It has a natural cedar finish. The graphite is dark and smooth -- sometimes lesser pencils have grit in them.

A favourite followed by the Dixon Ticonderoga natural finish with a green and yellow ferrule (the part that holds the eraser).

December 8, 2010

Number 3 - Filson Zipper Tote

The 12 - little things that count

Instead of making a list of new things I want for the holidays I'm reflecting on the dozen items that make a difference to me - kind of like counting blessings.

December 3, 2010

I'll be at the Vancouver Foodbank - CBC Open House today at 3:50 PM


I'll be there by 2 PM with a fashion treat for the right donation!!!! Our Foodbank show is on right now!

"MAN “Fix your Falalalala Face” with JJ Lee!
Prize: Personal style and grooming session with JJ Lee just in time for the holiday season!
Value: $800
Description: CBC Fashion expert JJ Lee will guide the lucky winner with a new look, focused on putting your best face forward. 
The package will include a men's hair treatment, cut and style at holts salon & spa. JJ Lee and will then assist the winner to choose a new designer shirt and tie from  menswear at Holt Renfrew. 
The winner will also leave with a gift back our some of our favorite men's shaving, grooming and fragrance products, for a total prize value of $800.
Information: This prize has no cash value, is non transferable and valid only in the Vancouver store. Appointments are subject to availability and certain blackout dates and times may apply. 
Prize may be redeemed after January 15, 2010. Selection of merchandise must be made from regular price store stock.
The session with JJ will be approximately 1 hour long."

November 25, 2010

The 12 - little things that count

Instead of making a list of new things I want for the holidays I'm reflecting on the dozen objects that make a difference to me - kind of like counting blessings.

Number 2.  I had this idea I should buy a foot treadle Singer sewing machine from 1911. And I did. I had a dream of making jeans without the use of electrical mechanical devices. Nearly hand-made kind of concept.

These days I use the sewing table as my writing desk. It has six drawers in cherry wood. In one of them I found this  key chain mixed in with buttons dating between the First World War and the Seventies (there were some very groovy buttons in there).

The key chain was wrapped up in tape and attached to it was a metal rod. I freed it from the rod and unwrapped the tape to find this very, simple utilitarian key chain. I like it because its not as grandiose as those wallet chains. And don't need very many keys (because I don't own any stuff).

It's just right. The key chain clips nicely on a belt loop and wears just a titch on the front edge of my right front pocket of my jeans. Plus its short enough it won't wear a hole at the bottom of the pocket. Best of all, I use it everyday, unlike my 1911 Singer.

November 24, 2010

The 12 - little things that count

This week I am compiling a new pocket luxury piece for the Vancouver Sun.

The idea is small gift ideas for men which are of superlative quality and yet fall under the $150 price tag. I think of them as heirlooms of the future.

And considering our austere times, and by that I mean my austere times, it nice to give fine objects, which have a greater destiny than the landfill, as gifts. (I finally saw Toy Story 3 and the garbage incinerator was a vision of hell and existential despair. Thank goodness for squeeze toy aliens, "The Claw is our master.")

BUT, it got me thinking about the little things I already own that matter to me. That I use everyday.

Here is the first of The 12 Little Things That Count.

The 12 little things that count

Number 1. This pocket knife belonged to my great grandmother. The larger blade is broken. The smaller blade has been sharpened so often it has changed shape. It doesn't quite close.

My paternal great grandmother was terrible to my mother. But she adored me. I loved touching her hands and her face. They were wrinked but always soft. I never learned Cantonese, so I never really got to know her, but I always felt special around her.

As a baby, she collected scraps of fabric from the garbage bins of the garment factories along St. Laurent and made me a quilt with them. Even though she lived in a one room boarding house in Montreal's Chinatown. Every time we visited she made a meal for me out of a rice cooker. My siblings were allowed to balk but I always had to eat some or she wouldn't be happy. Salted fish. Chinese pork sausage. There was always something.

There were occasions I begged my parents not to visit her. The rooming house had cockroaches and there was powdered cockroach poison along the floor moulding. Eventually, she became to feeble to live there and she was moved to an old folks home. Most of her belongings were thrown out because of worries of infestation. But I remember opening her night table and palming this old knife.

In university I used it as a palette knife in painting class. Now, I save it for opening CD cases and opening boxes. It's always right beside me.

November 12, 2010

Kdon - Maps and legends

An Evening | Kim Cathers & Leigh Righton
(CC) Phillip Jeffrey.

Kim Cathers, I've decided, was destined NOT to win Project Runway Canada.

Don't get me wrong. She is a great maker of clothes.

But reviewing her latest collection of Fall Winter clothes, I now understand Kim Cathers is a fairytale teller and urban fantasist with  strong regional inflections. Her sense of fashion is very hard to digest through television and the fast hard cuts of reality television editing.

Cathers' clothes are like a dusk snowfall among a stand of arbutus trees. It is poetic, frail and very West Coast.

She is telling a story about a place where a city of millions and a massive rain forest sit side by side. A mountain could shrug its shoulders and what we call civilization could be flung into the sea.

Cloak-ish hooded coats, bloomer- or britches-like knee pants and horn buttons combine into a tale from the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen, if Little Red Riding Hood carried an iPhone and loved buying studded riding boots.

I once met a bearded man who lived in a log cabin on the edge of the town of Hope.

Against the back wall where the fireplace was located he had carved an entire bas-relief inspired by JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit  -- with a chainsaw! To Cathers' collection--somehow they are connected.


November 11, 2010

Tux redux - wear a tux like you really own the night

To rent or to buy is not always 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: "Buy something that is classic, that will stand the test of time. When you stay classic, you'll never be ashamed to take it out of your closet."

Look for traditional lapels. Notches, at Brooks Brothers, are the most popular and easiest to wear of the classic cuts; peaked lapels are considered more formal; shawl lapels are re-emerging as a classic option favoured by the very hip. The softer line looks good on the thinner man. If you have rounded features the peak will sharpen you up and maybe even shave some pounds.

Personally, I would avoid patterns of any kind or odd colours or details. The lapels should be fully satined, not "framed," which means there is only an edge of shiny trimming. It is impecunious and I mean cheap.

You may feel like a peacock, standing out in full trim, but black tie is party clothes. Half-measures are pointless and erode the sense of glamour one may wish to convey.

If you can't handle the full sheen, try grosgrain lapels. They are ribbed silk without the super shiny qualities of satin. It is very elegant.

Striped suits must be avoided at all costs. In the secret language of experienced black tie wearers, they come across as callow and in snobbier environs striped pants are worn by those who earn their living by opening car doors and hefting luggage. Don't be surprised if someone hands you his car keys and a five dollar note when you're wearing stripes.

Even if you own the striper, it will simply give off a "return by Monday" reek.

When it comes to buttons, Voglino says: "If you're more average height, I'd steer you into a one-or two-button cut. It definitely gives a longer look to the individual." With three-button jackets, be wary. The tubular torso created with too many fasteners can ruin the careful balance of black and white in a tuxedo. Only use the middle button on a three-button. Ultimately, one button is all that is ever required.

On the opposite end of the button spectrum are double-breasted dinner jackets. Offering sometime up to six fasteners, they are considered one of the Duke of Windsor's contributions to menswear. His reason for championing the DB are still relevant today. It dispenses with cummerbunds, vests and braces. It prevents one from indulging in a major faux-pas: unbuttoning a dinner jacket. Almost never do it. It is considered very rude in some circles. I avoid doing so nearly at all costs.

DB's also prevent a man from sticking his hands in his pant pockets. What are we rummaging for anyhow? A slingshot? My next dinner jacket will be a grosgrain DB - though I should check my closet. I might already have one.

Voglino also emphasizes fit. "One of our things is making sure people are walking out of our store with a proper fit and that he's comfortable and feels his best when he is in his tuxedo," he says.

For the final touch, a man should always tie his own bow. Nothing says "ownage" like a knot with a little personality.

November 1, 2010

Fashion Icon: Interview with Jeanne Beker of Fashion Television on the EDIT collection at The Bay

NOTE: I used my flash video as a microphone (because audio is everything to me) and the camera kind of catches odd angles but it's kind of funny, so I hope no one minds.

Jeannie Beker of Fashion Television has been asking fashion designers questions for the last 25 years.

Today, I had the chance to turn the tables and ask her some questions.

Fashion has a lot of surface and spectacle to it. But I wanted to understand how Beker connected to fashion and clothes personally, so I asked her about her personal view of fashion and the influences in her life. So check out the RAW interview above. Note, I used my Kodak ZX1 as a microphone. Don't mind the wonky images (though I find it kind of cool).

Now regarding the EDIT collection at the Bay:

Overall, it’s very smart. It hits a middle demographic. I think it would do well with woman who are older than 30, who have a bit of money but they are not millionaires, (they’re fashion conscious and don’t want to settle for middle of the road looks.

I see it as a suitcase collection. If you want to fly off to Paris and still feel glamourous on a budget, this might be the clothes for you.

Two items I really like are her jeans and Beker's take on the cape coat.

The jeans are $85. They are skinny but the aren’t low rise. They have a nice medium rise which can be very flattering and is, as Beker told me, muffin-top proof.

The camel coloured cape coat $195 is really chic and classic and would look good on the street in Vancouver or Paris. Of course, the camel has nearly sold out. But they also come in black.

Overall EDIT is an easy on the go look – it has the feel of the clothes fashion designers would wear as opposed to what  a fashion desinger would put on the runway – it's glamourous, simple and casual not a bad combo and you can find it at The Bay.

October 13, 2010

Altered states

This is a vintage Joseph Abboud lambswool jacket from the 1980s. It is unstructured and HAD huge honking shoulder pads.

It is of course inspired by the unstructured jackets of Armani. If you've only read about coats of this vintage, wearing a high-fashion sports coat from this error era (duh) is all about a feral posture. The coats are designed for men with heavy back and forward hunched shoulders. Insouciant swagger.

Another note is the middle button is very low slung. It hits about belt high and not mid-sternum as in contemporary jackets. You will be seeing button dropping down again soon and  I'm beginning to like this style. It creates a longer lapel line. Though as a bowtie wearer it can show too much shirt (I don't mind show three shirt buttons but four is just too awful.).

The last few days I've been slowly altering the jacket to make it meet more contemporary tastes.

First off, the wool is gorgeous. A very loose woven, nearly feels like a knit. To make it fit, I threw it in the wash and machine dried it. Which made the coat tighter. Because it was unstructured, this left very few elements to suffer differential shrinkage. Canvas, linings and the wool all shrink at different rates.

I then tightened the back seam. Removed the shoulder pads - gigantic bales of cotton swab! Now I am narrowing the shoulders. Setting sleeves is hard for me. This will be my third try.

I've started ripping the seams on the shoulder on the left. The right is already done to my satisfaction.

I will be swaggering in this very soon.

September 30, 2010

Menswear trends that won't make your head look fat

Certain fashion trends, even if they’re ballyhooed and blogged to the heavens, fail to lift off. Some just take time to build.

For example, take wide-leg trousers. For the past four seasons, retailers have been tempting women to peel off their skinnies and buy newer, more swishy pants. The trend has been packaged as neo-hippie groove, North African harem pant chic, and as plucky yet romantic Amelia Earhart androgyny. The reception, however, continues to be lukewarm. Women prefer squeezing into their tight denim.

The male approach to change can be even more glacial, no matter how hard fashion labels and retailers strive to quicken the tempo of men’s clothing consumption.

Once men adopt a look, such as the spread-collared shirts, they find it hard to let go. Even if it makes many of their heads look terribly fat.

So, with that in mind, change can be a good thing. Here are a few fashion-savvy types with their fall trends. You may find some very familiar. All are worth adopting:

Read more:

September 24, 2010

New York Magazine's look at what Michelle Obama has worn in 2010 so far

It's here.

Featuring mixed prints from large florals (top) to small florals (skirt), the nicest arms in the Free World, a overly boho patchwork trapeze meets kimono dress and a husband who isn't gaining weight but IS wearing heavy bullet-proof armour (see tuxedo).

September 22, 2010

Trend? Joan Jett Wigs

Joan Jett hair hit the runway in New York's fashion week.

I saw the real Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and the Pacific National Exhibition with the boys.

It was a sad night. Her mother had died the night before and dedicated the performance to her.

To get a feel of how it looked, here is Joan in encore mode from a concert from last summer during happier times.

September 14, 2010

Tom Ford speaks to WWD on why he doesn't want his clothes on the internet

This fashion immediacy thing — yes, if you can order the clothes immediately, if you can see them and press a button and they can be shipped to your house, I get fashion immediacy.…I don’t get the need for this immediacy. In fact, I think it’s bad.

The way the system works now, you see the clothes, within an hour or so they’re online, the world sees them. They don’t get to a store for six months. The next week, young celebrity girls are wearing them on red carpets. They’re in every magazine. The customer is bored with those clothes by the time they get to the store. They’re overexposed, you’re tired of them, they’ve lost their freshness, you see somebody wearing it and you say, “Oh, that’s that jacket that was in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Or [a] customer doesn’t want to wear that jacket that was in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. In addition, all of the fast-fashion companies that do a great job, by the way, knock everything off. So it’s everywhere all over the streets in three months and by the time you get it to the store, what’s the point?

I’m holding everything back, controlling all the photography. I’m sure there were some leaks last night from people shooting with cell phones. I wish that that hadn’t happened. I don’t know if it did — I’m sure it did. I’m holding the photography back. I’m holding all the clothes back. The clothes are not going out to magazines before January issues. The clothes are not going to celebrities before December. The images are not being released online until December, when they’ll go online on my Web site.

-Tom Ford

I think he should be applauded.

September 12, 2010

Windsor knot

It will create a very thick knot. Only best to wear with a wider lapeled jacket.

August 31, 2010

Natalie Purschwitz's year of dressing dangerously

Natalie Purschwitz has done something unheard of in our times: she wore clothes for a year made by her hands only.

Not just clothes. Underwear, socks, shoes, even home-made sunglasses.

Bras exploded. Clogs killed. Some days she just wanted to go shopping. She had become a person on the outside of our culture of instant fashionistas and super consumers. She wanted to quit.

But she never did. And today she finishes off 365 days of wearing her makeshift clothes.


To see her journey of self-made styles, check her blog, Makeshift.

Final Makeshift Day, H&G website update, BC Creative Achievement Award and upcoming show at JCNM
At last - it's the final day of makeshift.

It's been a long year for me. If you ever hear me making any remarks about doing something like this again, please dissuade me or suggest that I consider a shorter time frame. I am so sick of homemade socks.

Though exhausted, I do feel some satisfaction at having fulfilled my goal. It was surprisingly difficult in some (most) ways but also painfully boring in other ways. In the end I've confirmed that we humans really are very adaptable.

I will continue to occasionally post on the blog for a while as I try to wrap my head around things and figure out some new processes. And I've already had a lot of requests to see what I wear on my first day of freedom. Please don't get too excited about it as this is not something that I have been planning for weeks in advance. In fact I still haven't even unpacked my old clothes yet.

I thank you all for leaving comments, talking to me about the project and following the blog. Please stay tuned for future chapters!

Yours truly,
Natalie Purschwitz

My vote for the best tux at the Emmy's

The break down. While notch lapels are not my favourite. Shawls and peaks are. This example of a trim notch with a nice James Dean-like skinny bow tie (the only way to interpret the skinny trend in a bow tie) is youthful and modern.

Perhaps too much shirt is showing but what can be done? A higher button stance would lead to showing more of the white triangle at the bottom. This matters as this isan era when most men choose not to wear a cummerbund.

I often go without, however, one time a photographer insisted I open my dinner jacket. I refused. The best man became piqued and I obliged.

Later that year I bought a cummerbund. (And I wear it! - JJ, 2012)

One solution to the belt -ine triangle problem is to wear high-waist pants.

In any case, for semi-formal wear, where one should never open their jacket in polite company, this would be a great solution.

If only I became a real tailor, I could do these things myself.

August 30, 2010

Why does Dev Patel look so good in this picture (or how to handle the contradiction between spread collars and narrow lapels)

Dev Patel is featured in GQ.

While the spread concerned itself with Fall's new suits, what I liked about the images was how young and fresh his suits looked without making the cardinal mistakes some men are making as they attempt to modernize their suits.

I dislike how some are trying to match heavy English spread collars into suits with narrow lapels. If one likes a wider spread, go for a medium spread with shorter (Edwardian-styled) collar points.

Also, if one adopts thinner ties, the horizontal spread collar won't work. There's too much shirt space to fill. There's one CBC weatherman (Kalin!) in Toronto who does it far too much. Wide spread, narrow lapel, skinny ties. Not good.

Medium spread with short points on a shirt is the way to go.

Doing the Mad Men thing

Is it okay to dress like you're a partner in a 1960s ad agency in the 21st century?

Today when I go On the Coast, I talk with host Stephen Quinn about Mad Men style, the hit AMC show, and its growing influence on menswear.

August 10, 2010

The Case of the Sagging Jeans

Twenty years and going strong or rather still riding low. Sagging jeans have always been controversial. A New York Times article attests to its restriction in the US south.

But policing sagged jeans has reached new lows with a court hearing in New York.

It might be a fashion disaster but is it a crime?

I spoke this week with Stephen Quinn, host of On The Coast, CBC Radio One, about the Mystery of the Sagging Jeans, its cultural origin and why it's still in style.

July 27, 2010

Q. What's up with men and half-tucks?

The front tuck, the half tuck, the belt tuck. The mullet of the shirt to pant interfaces. Both inside AND out. A great example is Dave Mullen's (of Save Khaki) in his designer profile in GQ.

Polo players do it. Hockey players do it. Gretzky did it best! But off the ice, on the street, why do men wear their shirts in a state of dishevelled limbo?

And how is it done well? I talked on CBC's On The Coast with guest host Grant Lawrence of Radio 3 about those demi shirt hem insertions .

I also received a great email from Dave Tomlinson, colour announcer and hockey expert for the Team 1040 in Vancouver. He played for the Jets and Leafs, most notably, and had the following insights on the Great One's half tuck (this column's contribution to hockey lore).

Gretzky did the tuck when he was a youngster because the jersey's were large and he was tiny, so he tucked in the side on the top hand of his stick...because without doing that, the excess jersey would get caught up on his stick knob.

Then it became a comfortable superstition, then a signature move where he actually had velcro stitched inside his pants to keep the tuck attached.

If ever it came untucked, he could certainly argue for a holding penalty as someone would have to grab the jersey pretty good for it to come out!

I did the tuck when I played, but on the opposite side, as my large jersey when I was a little guy, would hang down onto the bottom hand of my stick...and then it became superstitious for me to tuck...looks good a droopy, oversized sweater is NOT cool:)

Enjoy, Dave
Very cool, indeed.

July 5, 2010

Q: What do you think of clogs (as in, on me)? I know they're one of this season's trends, but should I? Good idea? Bad idea?

(Fashion Monday audio here or read on!)

If it's about "BUY OR DON’T BUY?" I say it’s a buy.

I spoke with Wendy de Kruyff, owner of Dream Apparel in Vancouver. Wendy says most women are wearing clogs in Vancouver as a mix of both fashion shoe and a comfort shoe.

Wendy says she’s seeing this season with skinny jeans. And as I was speaking with her, a customer walked in with clogs with wide leg pants. In other words, it’s a versatile shoe.

Because it’s a natural shoe with a wood sole, it’s good too keep things natural and fresh above it. Shiny black leggings may not work for most.

Jenna (who is a co-worker and posed the question) is a perfect person to show a lot of leg, up to mid-thigh.

Overall, I really like the look with a simple summer dress. Consider seersucker or chambray. Vancouver designer Allison Smith of Allison Wonderland came out with short shirt dresses in chambray. It would be lovely with clogs and it's on sale at Dream for $150.

Clogs are made out of wood. They don't change shape and they certainly don't bend. To get good value out of your clogs make sure the FOOTBED, the ROLL, and the INSTEP fit you!

FOOTBED is the part where you feet touches the wood or the lining
on the wooden sole. Ken Rice, master shoemaker, says a good footbed provides arch support.

Because wood soles are static, nothing is going to move. The fit won’t change, if the footbed is not snug and the balls of your feet and the arch aren’t in the right place, you will not feel comfortable.

At the toe, one should look for no more than an half-inch of toe space. With a custom pair it can go down to just under a quarter inch.

Of course, both your heel and toe should be inside the footprint. Rice says overhang is just "dreadful."

ROLL is an important aspect of a well-designed clog. It’s the leading edge of the bottom of the shoe. It has to have the right curve or bevel to match your gait.

When you take a step forward, your wooden sole has to rock forward because it can't bend. Low heeled clogs need deeper rolls. High heels need less roll.

A simpler way to understand this is clogs need to be shaped to give you a normal heel to toe action. The rule of thumb is the clog should matche the way YOU walk. You don’t change the way you walk to fit the clog.

INSTEP is all important if you want the clogs to stay on your feet. The instep is the part of your foot where your laces would go.

Insteps matter because your heel lifts off the back in traditional clogs. At that point the only part holding your feet to the clogs is the instep.

Ken says, this is the only part of the shoe that will stretch so the correct fit is vital. If it’s too loose you will either bend or curl your toes to raise your instep to keep the clogs in contact with your feet. If you have to do that, that’s a bad fit.

Remember, you shouldn't have to alter your stride or the way you hold your feet to
keep clogs on.

June 30, 2010

Sneak peak of Larry

Vancouver designer and fashion blogger, Terri Potratz, posted a neat video featuring images from her Larry collection's shoot for Fall/Winter 2010.

Scrolling Through Aperture from Bienvenido Cruz on Vimeo.

June 28, 2010

Style advisor: Why men wear Speedos and what grooming is needed to pull the look off, plus swim suits for the less extroverted man

Not the best weather, admittedly.

But there's nothing that says men can't be ready to hit the beach.

Today, guest host for CBC's On The Coast, Lisa Christiansen, and I answered listeners' email questions about men's swimsuits and good beach grooming.

I turned to Swimco and Absolute Spa for advice.

Here's our delicate conversation about Speedos, grooming and how to look like Daniel Craig. Sort of.

Talking speedos, netherlands, trimming foliage and being beach ready

Suitable swimsuits for men with a nod to Swimco and Absolute Spa.

Fashion Monday Changes

Updating ones look is always a good idea. MAKEOVER!

From now on, Fashion Monday will be on CBC's On The Coast with Stephen Quinn at 3:50 PM.

Stephen and I will be reading your fashion questions and queries. Yes, Fashion Monday is a style advice column.

Today's topic are Speedos, men's swimsuits and how to be beach ready. I'll be visiting Swimco and Absolute Spa to get the latest information and will bring the answers later this afternoon.

Now, if only the sun would come out!

June 23, 2010

Fashion Monday is transforming into a fashion advice column

Once a week, CBC host Stephen Quinn and I will be going through your questions about fashion and style.

I'll be leaning on stylists, designers and fashion directors from Sweden to Shanghai for the answers and looking for practical solutions you can use.

Mind you, I will slip in my own opinions quite often.

This week, I'm taking on swim suits! Pose your questions here: (put "dearjj" in the subject field)


Tweet me at (use #dearjj, if you can).

Oh, yeah, driving shoes with socks is a NO-NO!

June 22, 2010

Stripes, stripes, stripes....what's the deal with all those stripes

Call them Breton stripes or Chanel stripes or sailing stripes. A summer perennial. Super strong last year - and still going this summer.

But this season they're coming on all sorts of scales and colours for men and women.

Here are a few thoughts from my CBC column on why and how to wear them.

June 16, 2010

Seersucker suits smarter with Glenn Hoffs of Brooks Brothers

Seersucker. From the Persian, "milk and honey", it is a suit fabric identified with summer and the Southern US states.

It is a classic warm-weather suiting and a lightness and casual silhouette perfect for garden parties.

Typically found in fine blue and white stripes, the cotton textile features alternating smooth and nappy bands. The nap helps wick away moisture.

Here are some seersucker pointers from Brooks Brothers fashion director Glen Hoffs:

What is a now way of wearing seersucker?

Seersucker is one of those timeless fabrics that looks very current at the moment. The renewed interest in mid century dressing makes seersucker feel quite current. Of course how one wears seersucker is what makes it modern. I prefer it mixed with something unexpectedly casual- for instance a seersucker sportcoat with jeans or a more relaxed bottom.

Spread collars continue to be popular - do they suit a seersucker look?

Yes a spread collar shirt can be worn with seersucker but I would avoid one that looked too dressy. A white cotton spread collar shirt that is lightly pressed (or not pressed at all) can be a good look.

What do you like in shirt colours, patterns, and tie types?

I like some thing dark and simple, a dark madras or club tie can work well with seersucker. I prefer something that is cotton based or if it is silk not too shiny- the more shiny a time the more formal. So seersucker requires a more matt finish. A knit tie also works well with seersucker.

How should a seersucker suit works as separates?

A seersucker suit can be worn separately- the pant can be worn with just about anything. Worn dressed down with vintage style white tennis shoes or dressed up with loafers or white bucks. The Jacket can be worn with jeans, khakis, or a brightly colored pant. If you¹re going to wear the suit the tie will make or break the look. Choose something dark and simple.

Are there any faux pas with seersucker?

Tread carefully when trying to pair the seersucker suit with the straw hat
and white bucks.

Though seersucker is a humble fabric, are there ways of telling whether the material is of good quality?

Seersucker is pretty much the same and is usually in cotton. Look for something that isn't stiff. It should feel relaxed and have some drape to it. A silk cotton blend can also be found. The most important thing is the make of the suit. Look for something where the collar and chest don't feel stiff. If it doesn¹t drape well on the hanger it won't drape on the body. An inexpensive seersucker suit is going to look very stiff.

Under what circumstances is it appropriate to wear a seersucker suit?

Seersucker is perfect for a summer wedding, especially a casual daytime wedding. Some gentlemen in the south can get away with wearing the seersucker suit to work, but that's a very specific look that should remain in the South.

June 14, 2010

Ties that bind us - connecting sons and fathers with a bit of neckwear

Today, JJ talks TIE. In honour of Father's Day.

Why did ties get all knotted up with the Sunday tradition? What's the best knot for different face shapes? And why ties still make a great present for dads.

Today at 5:40 PM on CBC Radio One in Vancouver instead of my usual 5:49 PM spot. Listen online live.

June 8, 2010

Fashion trends and the curvier woman

On too many occasions I talk about trends in women's fashion saddled with caveats.

For example, I'll talk about how the Empire waist is out and waistlines are dropping down to the hip in certain clothes. Of course, (**caveat**) shorter women should be wary of this trend...

You see what I mean.

So yesterday, I went on air with a piece about current trends, skinny jeans and ankle-length hemlines, and how they would apply to curvier women.

For an informed perspective, I spoke with Laura Caravaggio. She runs the online boutique for full figured women called

May 31, 2010

Socks, sandals, tea dresses and men without socks

Tune in when I get the opinion of Vancouver's finest designers and fashion thinkers on this summer's trends:
  • socks with sandals (HOT TOPIC)
  • mid-calf length hemlines
  • and men in dress shoes without socks
You'll hear from Jason Matlo and Carlie Wong and, of course, JJ and CBC host Stephen Quinn.
That's On The Coast, on CBC Radio One in Vancouver at 5:49 PM

Also you can listen online live.

May 28, 2010

Flash thoughts on Obakki Fall Winter 2010

Obakki's collection featured stretched leather denim-cut pants with a luxurious sheen and suede wedge details and champagne-hued sequined silk in wraps, tops and dresses.

Body-hugging dresses of modal and viscose with panel detailing may not be distinct enough to compete with cheaper cotton jersey and rayon dresses.

Obakki's cotton floor-length strapless evening dress rises above the common place with stretched leather wrapped at the bust. It cleverly contrasts the matte cotton.

Overall, Obakki continues to explore asymmetry and monochromatic textures whilst creating a very wearable collection.

It always seems like the women's clothes are the classic fashion items (like a t-shirt or pair of jeans) from a not-to-distant future or an alternate reality. There everybody is wearing Obakki.

May 20, 2010

Debutante does JJ: my take of slim straight jeans for men

It's always nice to be noticed. The Denim Debutante - aka a fetching Jaime Palmucci - posted about my latest piece for the Vancouver Sun.

May 17, 2010

Racism in fashion

Last night I sat on a Vancouver fashion and media panel to talk about the NFB film, The Colour of Beauty.

Obviously, in a business where appearances are everything, the colour of your skin is a big deal.

Today, I spoke about the issue with Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio One's On The Coast.

May 12, 2010

Interview: John Fluevog

John Fluevog gets the retrospective treatment this week at the Museum of Vancouver!

For CBC's On The Coast with Stephen Quinn, I interviewed Fluevog this week about his 40 years designing and what makes a good shoe.

April 23, 2010

Flower Power - when a man goes for a florid touch

There's nothing that suggests whimsy, elegance, and a degree of self-confidence as a flower in a lapel, or, as they say, a boutonniere. It rhymes with mutineer.

Especially, appropriate in the spring when blooms abound. I must admit I have been stalking about with the smallest of pen knives looking for the right one to put in my lapel.

Note, not all flowers are good candidates.

For a primer on perfect florals for the lapel, check out my conversation on the topic featuring Gloria Cheung of the Flower Factory.

April 5, 2010

Shoes shoes shoes from London to West Coast

Featured CBC Radio One's On the Coast with Stephen Quinn, an interview with William Lobb of John Lobb, shoemaker of kings, queens and stars.


Joan Seidl's hunt for Fox and Fluevog shoes for an upcoming show at the Museum of Vancouver, Fox, Fluevog and Friends.