Q: I recently injured my left knee and need to use a cane. The insurance company supplied an ugly blue aluminum number that looks like it came from a drug store. Since it seems that I will need a cane for some time to come, I am thinking of trying to find a plain aluminum one or getting a nice wood cane. What do you think? —P.T.
A: P.T., if you've read our recent post about peacoats and the wisdom of following MB Principles of Anglophilia, Archaism, and Organic Materials, isn't the answer obvious? You need a vintage wooden cane from England.
More specifically, you need a Howell cane. According to cane aficionado Canequest, the brand was founded by John Howell in London in 1832, and his canes were the shit with it mid-19th century Londoners suffering from knee injuries like yours.
Q: I recently bought a peacoat - dark navy, well fitted, none of those goofy epaulettes or anything like that. I say it's a timeless classic but my girlfriend says they're out of style. Who's right? —Peter
A: Peter your GF is so spectacularly wrong we're gravely concerned about any sartorial advice you may have taken from her.
Would Tom Ford be asking $4,950 for his peacoat take if he thought they were out of style?
We're big fans too, because the garment adheres to at least 3 key MB principles:
1. Principle of Anglophilia
It originated in the British Royal Navy.
2. Principle of Archaism
It's been a standard part of the United States Navy uniform since 1881.
3. Principle of Organic Materials
The definitive Naval Clothing Factory peacoat is 100% wool, with corduroy-lined pockets (cotton).
You nailed a few of our peacoat requirements (i.e. navy, flair-less, slim fit), and hopefully our most important one: a Three Days of the Condor Collar. You need to be able to stand it up tall like Redford.
Style blog consensus favors the Billy Reid "Bond" version ($695; pictured upper left), but the anemic collar is in desperate need of growth hormone, and is a disqualifying feature. For others who might be in the peacoat market, first check the local military surplus, and if you're flush consider this gorgeous Maison Margiela option.
The 20 percent discount on this Todd Snyder topcoat may not seem like much of a deal by 2017 standards. But winter is coming — meteorologically and metaphorically. And we love the way this coat looks cozy enough for, say, a young Shelly Winters to sprawl on, while maintaining a cosmopolitan sleekness that will look right at home on the streets of Manhattan during the next polar vortex. Regularly $2598, now $1999 — the perfect price to usher in the year ahead!
Q: I have my eye on a pair of those rabbit fur-lined gloves you endorse as an xmas gift to myself. I know it might not be totally MB to care about how the rabbit fur gets inside, but I've seen a couple of PETA rabbit fur videos and don't want any part of them if they're made using that technique. Please tell me they're free-range rabbits and are only used for glove lining after they die of natural causes. —Ben
A: Ben, would you like us to tell you that there's a Santa Claus too?
Sorry, we can't sugarcoat it. But at least the answer we can give you is not as awful as what you might be expecting after watching those videos, which document what PETA saw at some angora rabbit farms in China.
Here's what Fratelli Orsini told us when we asked about the source of the rabbit fur they use in the gloves:
The shell of the glove is Italian lambskin and the rabbit fur comes from either France or Belgium where rabbits are used as a food source and therefore the pelts are used for gloves and other garments.
In other words, if you're okay with wearing a leather belt that comes from a farm-raised cow that ended up as a hamburger, you might find the gloves acceptable too. If not, you will have to continue your quest for free-range fur. If you choose that course, let us know how it goes.
Q: I used to follow you guys religiously until the content dropped off a few years back. I assumed it was due to you solving all the world's problems and too many MB cocktails. Glad to see that is over.
Anyhow, now that's it's winter: camel overcoats. What's your take? — Josh
A: Josh, glad to have you back.
Once the first snowflake flies our outerwear is almost exclusively filled with goose feathers, yet we do admire the traditional camel overcoat because it adheres to some core MB principles:
Q: Big fan of your posts. I love your products too. The Emperor's Tourniquet is the best tie in my closet for sure.
So, I hit the gym pretty regularly, it's not as classy as JFK and sailing, but then not all of us own boats and horses.
The appalling apparel worn by most men to the gym makes me nauseous (baggy shorts and low cut tank tops - the ones that have armpit holes which show the entire torso). Anyway what are your recommendations for gym clothing and shoes that are acceptably MB and yet functional enough (sweat wicking)?Against my initial apprehensions I am considering some of the men's gear from lululemon - what are your thoughts on the clothing on their website?
A: Good question. At Complex.com, they advise that "wearing gym clothes out in public" is a major mistake. We take that philosophy a step further. Or maybe even a dumbbell lunge further: Wearing gym clothes in the gym is usually a mistake too.
What makes a man think that because he's working up a sweat his style gets to take a break?
We're not sure. But what we do know is that many men who would never dream of dressing like a toolbag in the office or a bar find bandana headbands, deep armhole tank tops, and over-the-knee polyester mesh shorts perfectly acceptable as long as they are within 50 feet of an elliptical trainer.
You're showing the right instinct with that lululemon site, at least in terms of its emphasis on dark, solid colors and clothes that fit closely without getting too clingy. But following our foundational principle of organic materials, we look for workout wear made from merino wool, which we aren't seeing there.
Because no one has ever seen a sheep on a treadmill, or even doing anything except standing still on a hillside, people don't necessarily think of wool as being a good material for the gym. But as lazy cyclists have long known, wool wicks well and doesn't stink even after repeated usage.
With shorts, though, we're not as concerned about the materials as we are about some general guidelines. Namely, no stripes and no mesh, and leave any pair that gets within 3 inches of the top of your kneecap to that guy by the weight bench who looks like Guy Fieri's ripped twin.
Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio are going to have to take a lot more trans-oceanic plane trips before they manage to put a dent in the bone-bruising chill that greets us every morning in Minneapolis this time of year. But while there's nothing we can do to avoid the snow, sleet, and ice, we can avoid the even-worse-than-usual traffic and parking-space hunts that come with them. How? By continuing to ride our bikes to work, even in the face of sub-zero temperatures.
How do we pull this off without looking like we're about to engage in some heavy breathing with a couple of broad-shouldered Scandinavian beauties at the Winsport Olympic Luge Track? We lay out our strategy below.
2. Nannini "TT" Goggles. Made for motorcyclists but adopted by cyclists looking for a stylish way to keep your eyelids from freezing shut.
TORSO & LEGS
3. Smartwool Baselayer underneath a 8 Wool Turtleneck. A baselayer under a jacket is all we usually need in anything above 10°F but it was -6°F this morning so we layered with a wool turtleneck. 8 makes a stylish one, with value.
4. Love Moschino Long Down Puffer. Down blazer-style jackets and some days even down shirts work for Minneapolis winter commuting. But not this neo-Polar Vortex shit. At anything below 0°F we pull out the long down puffer. Jack Frost may nip at your nose, but first he nips at your toes, then, surprisingly, your ass. Having goose feather coverage back there helps prevent his bite.
5. Smartwool Baselayer underneath Naked and Famous Snowpant Denim. Naked and Famous is responsible for some of the most important innovations in the history of denim, like scratch and sniff raspberry scented jeans. But their all-time best effort is the discontinued Snowpant Denim, a deep indigo wash treated with a waterproof and wind-resistant coating, and lined in comfy fleece. Look for them on eBay and try to grab them before we do.
6. Wigens Bear Claw Gloves The synthetic lobster claw gloves you see most winter commuters wearing are neither a warmth nor a dexterity match for these Swedish leather and fur marvels. Unfortunately Wigens seems to have stopped making them. Set up an eBay alert.
Minnesota-based 45NRTH makes the popular Wölvhammer commuter boot, but they're nearly as heavy as a pair of Pacs, only rated to 0°F, and don't abide by our un-gear aesthetic. After several years of trial and error we've concocted a 4-step footwear solution that's fairly lightweight and can hold up to a 45 minute commute at -20°F.
Darn Tough Hunting Socks. Not all wool socks are created equal. We've tried a dozen different brands and Darn Tough are the best. Made in Vermont.
Our annual pilgrimage to Lambeau is expected to be colder than we were expecting, with a high of just 52 and low near 40. So we're getting dressed. (As always, check Pourcast to determine what cocktail to be consuming at any day and any time at any place around the globe.)
1. Pants. The best 5-pocket corduroy pants we've ever worn are Uniqlo's Slim Fit Corduroy Jeans. Indeed, you have to be slim and fit to wear these, but as the product description says, they do in fact "create slender, fashionable lines," work during the week, and have the versatility to play on Sundays. We're wearing them in off white. A tremendous value at just $39.90. They're vanity sized about 1 inch in the waist (so size down).
2. Belt. A critical element of our understated fandom gameplan is our own Game Day Belt. Made from the same Horween leather that's used to make the official NFL footballs, and constructed right here in the Twin Cities. Fits perfectly true to size.
3. Shirt. Five years ago we all got this Red Jacket long sleeve anti-jersey and they're still playing in the league. Yes, there is some legibility on the back, but it's the name of perhaps our favorite Packer and MB archetype Paul Hornung, famous less for his football than for his womanizing, drinking, and gambling. Fits true to size. (Lots of other options available from Mike Ditka to Johnny Unitas.)
4. Shoes. Sneakers and exposed ankles are usually the play call for mid-October Packer games, but given the forecast we're audibling into ankle boots. Since our all-time favorite TST chukkas have seemingly gone the way of Peyton Manning's arm strength, we're substituting them for these Joyks with beautiful thick white rubber whitewalls. (We may additionally substitute free-agent white laces.) Fits fractionally small.
5. Vest. We have a thing — bordering on fetish — for goose-down puffer vests. 313, Montecore, and Marville provide the best value, but if you have the cash Duvetica is the way to go. This version — along with a Hall of Fame headbuzz — will stiff-arm the dramatic post-game cool-down, and the blue-and-gold color combo is a subtle, tasteful nod to the Packer throwback jerseys (which the team will be wearing on Sunday). We always size down one for puffer vests, and this is no exception.
No, this is not the official belt of the NFL. That wouldn't make sense, because NFL players don't wear leather belts. For us, though, our new Game-Day Belt has become an indispensable part of our viewing uniform. We have couch-tested in throughout the entire preseason, and we are now looking forward to see how it performs in regulation play, when everything's on the line. For more information, visit our shop.
Exhibition games are mercifully over. Final cuts have been made. It's time for a new season of NFL action, and that means it's also time to introduce our latest lifestyle accessory: The Magnificent Bastard Game-Day Luxury Box. Crafted by fourth-generation woodworker Kyle Huntoon of Hunt & Noyer, this Super Bowl-caliber six-pack caddy is constructed from sturdy furniture grade pine, real football leather from Horween, genuine AstroTurf, and our own hard labor. (It's true; we screwed the straps into the boxes ourselves.)
Let's huddle and break this down in a little more detail. The box itself is made in Detroit. The strap comes from a Chicago leather supplier. The strap was cut and finished in a Minneapolis leatherworks, and all the finishing touches were done in our garage by Packer fans. Talk about a team effort — that's 100% of our all-time favorite division, the NFC North!
A: $30 for a "union printed, American made" t-shirt that's 50 percent polyester? Seems a bit expensive to us. For comparison's sake, Bernie Sanders is offering a 100 percent cotton t-shirt that is "union-made and printed in the USA" for half the price — $15. So we guess we know who UNITE HERE is backing.
We also think that stylish campaign-wear is extremely difficult to pull off. In fact, the only successful effort we can think of off-hand is Ronald Reagan's cheerleading squad from the 1966 California gubernatorial election.
So we're going to pass on the t-shirts for now and just take our chances in November 2016. If worse comes to worst, our bunker is stocked with more than enough Bulleit and Apfelkorn to see us through the Trumpacolypse.
We get a lot of "what should I wear?" questions at Ask the MB, so we thought than on occasion, when we're having an occasion, we'd share what we wear. Articles and accessories will reflect core MB tenets like archaism, Anglophilia, artful dishevelment, and a few others that don't start with the letter A.
The first occasion: A singles match at the club during Wimbledon.
For any tennis played during this fortnight we always channel two of our all-time favorites, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, and split the difference where we can. We also strictly follow the Club's hopelessly vague and wonderfully antiquated "almost entirely white" rule.
1. Shorts. While ATP players' shorts have not yet reached the slacks-like length of the NBA and NCAAB, they're still far too long for our taste. We want zero restriction as we go wide to reach for our opponent's cross-court volley, and tanned thighs nicely accompany a down-the-line winner in response. 4" max inseam here, and cotton of course (principle of organic materials). So we're wearing these Sergio Tacchinis (the McEnroe brand) from a terrific UK eBay shop called honourabletype. Bookmark this one. $43.69.
2. Shirt. McEnroe got the shorts, so naturally Borg gets the shirt. What else but Borg's iconic Fila striped polo with oversize collar and 4-snap placket? $41.99.
3. Shoes We could take the court with the left foot wearing a Borg Diadora and the right foot in a McEnroe Nike, but instead we're opting for the classic style, relative obscurity, and archaism of Pantofola d'Oro low-tops in white. Launched in Ascoli Piceno, Italy in 1886, these are made for the street but hold up great on the court, and no one else wears them. $210.00.
Q: Wondering what you think about reversible belts like this croc/ostrich one — toolbag gimmick or useful wardrobe expansion technique? Also, that buckle looks strangely familiar.
A: At first glance, a belt that efficiently moonlights as another belt might seem to violate the principle of senseless lack of utility. In this case, though, the utility manifests itself in the realm of style. That is to say, a reversible belt doesn't make any claim to hold up your pants better, or provide some other practical benefit. It just multiplies the possibilities of looking magnificent. And that's the kind of utility we can embrace. In fact, we have plans to someday release a reversible belt ourselves.
Nonetheless, while we conceptually endorse reversible belts, there's still the matter of execution. Regarding the belt you've got your eye on, we love the Caiman crocodile side. But we think the full-quill ostrich side should probably bury its head in the sand. In other words, we'd approach this one as a strictly one-sided belt if we were to incorporate it into our wardrobe.
Q: I'm so glad to see you guys back and actively posting again. You all are hilarious!
I recently got my first metal/bracelet watch, and I'm not sure how loose or tight to wear it. I generally wear my leather strap watches relatively snug, but I saw someone at work with a suit wearing their metal bracelet watch much lower. It looked pretty cool going along with the rest of the cuff game. I wanted to ask, is a low-slung watch MB, or just sloppy? —Bill
A: We hate to disappoint a longtime reader, but you asked, and we can only offer our honest opinion. Even by its name — you tellingly called it a metal bracelet — your new acquisition falls into the category of jewelry. Check out our jewelry channel to see what we think about jewelry, but the short answer is that 95 percent of what we spend on jewelry is intended for some woman's neck, ears, or nipples.
As for wearing a metal bracelet loosely, our feeling is that this just compounds the error. We grant that such calculated sloppiness might be viewed as artful dishevelment, but for us it just conjures hazy but unpleasant memories of handcuffs.
Our ultimate advice: Nip this metal bracelet phase in the bud and stick to your leather straps (organic materials principle). And while we're giving out watch-wearing advice, a reminder. Keep the watch case to 40mm or less.
Q: I was all set to pick up a pair of the MB-approved Kombi Captain Freedom gloves for a ski trip in Jackson Hole, when I discovered that the folks at Kombi have altered the design. (new one here: http://www.snowshack.com/detail/SNW+KB-30324+L). It's like New England getting rid of the Pat Patriot helmet. Some things just don't make sense. Nonetheless, the gloves are still pretty sweet. Do you approve? —Andrew
A: What's worse? New England getting rid of Pat Patriot or Tampa Bay abandoning the winking pirate Bucco Bruce? We say the latter by a nautical mile.
At any rate, we were completely joking about wearing the Kombi Captain Freedom gloves for skiing. (Though we weren't joking at all about wearing the Naked and Famous Snowpant Denim; they are terrific for banging bumps.)
What we're wearing this year is Wigens bearclaw gloves (bottom). Made in Sweden, these not only protect your fingers from Jack Frost, they also double as part of a Halloween costume if you're dressed as a black bear. 100% goat leather plus 100% rabbit on the outside, the only problem with these is they're too warm.
A: Normally we're in favor of watches made by defunct Swiss manufacturers that require a pronunciation guide — it's pronounced mooj-awe and peek-are — but this watch is a definite pass. It's ironic that J.Crew is resurrecting a brand that was killed off by the quartz movement craze of the '70s, yet with Tourneau's help fits this watch with a quartz movement!
A: In the June 2011 GQ creative director Jim Moore stops just short of endorsing them but recognizes their popularity saying they're "a big trend this summer," and that they're best "anytime you'd wear your flip-flops." [page 58]
Even though they were invented in the 14th century (principle of archaism), and are usually made of canvas and rope (principle of organic materials), for us they fall into the footwear no-mans land between a shoe and a sandal, currently occupied by MB bête noires Sanuks and Crocs.
However, if your preferred pedicurist is booked — June is Pedicure Awareness Month, BTW — we say go for it, as long as they're a. less than 20 bucks, and b. gingham.
A: Well, it's pretty magnificent to be heir to the throne of the fading empire that gave us the Magna Carta and golf, and wearing hats like the one Prince William was wearing this weekend is part of the job description.
As for anyone else? William's bearskin hat is certainly characterized by a senseless lack of utility, and scores high on archaism, organic materials, and Anglophilia as well. But its primary historical purpose — to make a soldier look bigger and more imposing in battle — violates the principle of understatement and essentially establishes the garment as elevator shoes for your head.
As you allude to, the standard hat of the British Foot Gaurds is made out of an entire bearskin. It weighs 1.5 lbs. and, most consequentially, stands 18.5 inches high. Getting in and out of limos and taxis would be a huge hassle while wearing one of these things, so until horseback reemerges as the predominant form of travel, we say "pass."
Pour 2 fingers into an empty tumbler, 3 if you're not alone.