New Tie Alert! 👔

A few weeks ago, I posted about Neck ‘n Neck Vintage Co., a startup out of Brooklyn, New York. Yesterday, I received my first necktie from Neck ‘n Neck and I am impressed. While neckwear curator Vince Jamael specializes in providing customers with quality vintage ties from notable brands, I purchased mine after letting him know some of the styles I was interested in and then he provided me with samples that ranged in style but met my criteria. I finally settled on the Bert Pulitzer paisley that is pictured above. Having sold menswear for years with Nordstrom, Inc., I can recognize quality neckwear pieces when I see and/or touch them and this one passed the test. An impeccable silk tie with a vintage look and a width that, though may not always be on the cutting edge of fashion, will never go out of style.

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While a quality new suit will cost you hundreds of dollars and a well-made shirt is even going to be around $50 (closer to the $30 range if you know where and when to shop), a few ties from Neck ‘n Neck Vintage Co. can add some versatility to your wardrobe in no time for little cost. The more I mature, the more my tastes in whiskey and neckwear align. At this point in my life, I like my ties like I like my whiskey: classic and neat.

So, go ahead, follow @vtg_ties on Instagram, and let them know which pieces you’re interested in. You can thank me later.

 

Make being well-dressed a priority.

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Neck n’ Neck Vintage Co.

A man’s wardrobe choices can make or break his entire career. But, what many don’t realize is, a man’s choice in accessories can make or break his entire wardrobe. Now, often, the most prominent accessory a man in business professional/formal attire is his tie. That being said, where do you think you ought to build your wardrobe’s versatility? If you guessed “From my tie rack,” you’re today’s winner.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetYou’ve likely heard of my go-to groomer Vince Jamael, of Adrian Fanus Grooming, Inc. (and if you haven’t, just click this whole sentence and you’ll get taken to a handful of posts on this site dealing with his greatness). One thing you may not know about Vince is that he’s not only a well-groomed groomer, but he’s also something like a style icon in his own circle. Always well-dressed for any occasion, Vince is constantly asked where he gets his threads. And, more often than you’d believe, his answer is “From XYZ Vintage Clothing Shop.” Much of his style is vintage with an intentional new school flare. Head to toe, the brother is sharp and I don’t say that about everyone.

I can recall the year after I graduated from undergrad and was sleeping on Vince’s living room couch (times were tough but look what God has done five years later), and I saw that he had this dope tie. Now, I didn’t have any skinny ties in my wardrobe at the time and, not only was this one skinny but it was a vibrant shade of red and made of cotton. Far outside my realm of comfort but it had my attention. Vince caught me checking it out and said I could have it if I wanted it. That was my first step to exploring more nontraditional styles of neckwear.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetFast forward to present day and Vince has started his own neckwear company, Neck n’ Neck Vintage Co., based out of Brooklyn. His business model is a unique one, in which he carefully curates only the most exclusive neckties from vintage shops, both across the United States and in his international travels. His goal is to provide his clientele with the caliber of tie that their grandfather would look for at a reasonable price. The curation, purchase, and restoration of these timeless pieces are responsibilities that fall squarely on Vince’s shoulders alone, but ones that he accepts.

“My passion for helping young men and women feel their best when they put on a necktie is helping to make this dream a reality,” Vince said when asked why he’s investing so much into this vision. “I recall looking at classic photos of gentlemen from older days and thinking ‘What if we combined their knowledge of proper dress with this generation’s fashion sense? We’d be unstoppable.’ So here I am, trying to create a brand that is truly timeless.”

Initially doing private consultations to present clients with his neckwear, Vince is now able to be contacted on Instagram at @vtg_ties. As the brand grows, he will develop more avenues through which his pieces can be purchased but right now, he prefers “personal style consultations to cold cash-based sales.”

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You can’t put a tie on without a shirt without looking like a Chippendale, so get the shirt and trousers together but, when you’ve got those two checked off, make sure your neck speaks to a level of distinction without breaking the bank. The best way to do that? Grab a distinguishing necktie from Neck n’ Neck Vintage Co. and let it tell a story without you having to say a word.

Make quality neckwear a priority.

Once In a Lifetime OPERAtunity

There are plenty of people I know who have not attended an opera. Even more have not been to New York Fashion Week (NYFW). On Saturday, September 9, I had the opportunity to see both at the same time. Opera Carolina, founded in 1948 by the Charlotte Music Club, is known across the nation and does a phenomenal job of maintaining the integrity of the art form.

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Opera Carolina’s presentation of “Opera Recycles” at the Crowne Plaza Time Square Manhattan hotel was not only artistic in nature, but designers Kristen Alyce, Emily Kramer, Sarah Danee McGee, Malou Cordery, Venie Tadeo, Lyndsee Hairston and Rocio Llusca brought a level of environmental awareness to the runway by creating couture fashion using its recycled printed materials. The fashion was not the only innovative component of this one-of-a-kind performance; Producer Jerome Jewetto created the runway music for Opera Recycles’ fashion show that incorporated hip hop and opera, including songs from “O Fortuna”, “Carmen”, and “The Marriage of Figaro.” Such fusion of opera, hip-hop, fashion, and recycled playbills embraces a cultural integration that, in recent history, would have been frowned upon by opera and fashion purists alike, but is now thought-provoking and impactful.

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The ability of trained opera singers to not only sing but to properly represent the artistic views of the designers was awe-inspiring. As one who has been intrigued by fashion since my early days of undergraduate studies, but who also is constantly gaining an understanding of the need for sustainability, this performance illuminated both the right and left sides of my brain. I was able to appreciate the beauty in the designs as well as the musical selections while realizing the need for more sustainable sources of fashion. Will I be wearing all of my used bill envelopes to work tomorrow morning? Probably not. But why not, going forward, start patching up a hole in a pair of pants as opposed to going out to buy a whole new pair? I already thrift but could I do it more? Certainly. Sustainability in fashion set to a soundtrack of classic melodies and unconventional rhythms made an indelible impact on me.

When fashion, sustainability, and music intersect, they etch a memory into one’s mind and that memory creates dreams of what is possible if we think outside the box. It is not every day that you hear something that changes the world but, on September 9, 2017, I did. Opera Carolina’s “Opera Recycles” presentation was not only one of artistic excellence; it was a call to environmental action. That is certainly a melody that I will dance to.

 

Make having experiences and sustainability priorities.

Breaking Monotony

Everyone has a style. I encourage and respect that (even if I don’t always like certain people’s). Do what works for you.

But, sometimes, you have to try something new. We’re not Amish (unless you are, in which case I’m assuming someone printed this post for you). Therefore, you have wardrobe options. If you’re always bright and colorful, try some earthy fall colors in the coming months. If you’re constantly wearing black, go buy a crimson tie or canary skirt to add a bit of flare to your wardrobe. You never know how a different look will make you feel until you try it.

And that doesn’t just go for color schemes but grooming as well. For months at a time, I’ll let my hair and beard grow. Then one day I’ll get bored, cut both off, and start fresh. The beautiful thing (right now) is that it’ll all grow back. Or, ladies, if you’re thinking about trying a different hairdo, look at some folks who have a similar head shape, bone structure, and complexion and, if you like the way they wear their hair, go for it. The worst that can happen is you hate it and, in 3 months, you’ll be able to move back toward what you had before.

While we’re talking about switching up styles, know that different outfits serve different purposes. It is a must that I tailor some of my clothes because of the caliber of event they’re regularly worn to. Others can be worn right off the rack. And the accessories change with events too. If I’m shooting for a night on the town, I may don a suit and v-neck with loafers and earrings if I want to sauce it up. But, when I feel like looking smart but stylish for a meeting with a client, I’m throwing on cosmetic frames with a suit and well-polished hard bottoms (Note to myself and you: Polish shoes tonight). Either way, it’s about looking confident and comfortable in whatever you wear. And you don’t have to step out of your comfort zone daily but you should do it frequently enough to shake things up.

You never know what you’ll need to look like in your next work environment, so developing versatility and comfort now should be the game plan. Whether your employer, your significant other, or that barista at Starbucks that has been giving you the eye for the past few months, it’s nice to see that you can try something new and still look (and perform) like a winner.

All in all, no matter how old you are, you’re too young not to have fun and enjoy life.

Make being well-dressed and well-groomed priorities.

Oh, by the way, I’ve got a crazy post coming for next week’s fashion post. Make sure you’re subscribed to the blog so you don’t miss out on #TailoredAndTaperedTuesdays.

Every Look Isn’t For Everyone

Yesterday, I went to get a haircut and, last night, I decided I needed to clean up my beard (ok, what really happened is Desirée told me I looked like I was a person without a home). I remember in high school when I wanted for my sideburns to connect to my goatee so badly. It took a while. Then I wanted a thick beard. That took a while too. Finally, I was hoping for a thick and full beard. That started to come in… but only on one side. But I was praying hard for that second side so I took my little mustard seed and planted it, only to have Desirée and my go-to grooming specialist Vince Jamael tell me after three or four months of waiting that the sides just weren’t going to even out.

There is a lesson in this: when it comes to style, be it grooming or dress, every look isn’t for everyone. Just because something looks cool on someone doesn’t mean it will on me. Prince made millions with holes in the back of his trousers. If I walk into work like that, I will likely walk out in handcuffs. Sometimes, it’s your body type that’s not made for a certain look. Other times it’s your profession or workplace culture. And, still, other times, it’s your personality. I’ll be the first to admit that, though I love tailored clothes, there are some that I’ll step into and say “These slacks are too tight and, even though they ‘fit’ I’ll feel and look awkward wearing them out of my front door.”

Find looks that work for you and complement your features. Everyone can look decent (at worst) once they spend some time learning what colors, cuts, and angles accent their natural physical gifts. The problem is many of us want to look like Jay Z or Beyoncé in their clothes when we were made to look like Jack and Jill in our own. Let them inspire you but never try to be them. You’re doing yourself and the rest of the world a disservice.

And, shoot, who knows? Maybe if we try to be and look more like ourselves, we could be as successful, if not more. You’ll never know how great you could be until you embrace who you are.

 

Make finding your style a priority.

Logical Tradition or Traditional Logic?

I’m at a point in my life where I simply don’t want to do illogical things in relation to my professional life. Pointless tradition in families is entertained for nostalgia’s sake. In work settings, it can often be little more than an irritant.

Do we really need to wear elitist, cumbersome suits on days that are spent solely in the office? Are trousers and ties necessary on 90-degree summer days or are they simply decorative? Wouldn’t you want your employees to think more about how to improve the systems they work on than how pointlessly uncomfortable they are?

I believe there is a time and a place for business dress but, unless in an industry where you interact with external entities or individuals every day, the day of everyday business dress has passed. During the summer, if nothing else, casual Fridays should be the rule. A new generation is coming and it is a generation that is not only unimpressed by pretentious dress; it is one that is turned off by it when out of place. And that generation doesn’t want to work in those settings. A tie is no longer an indicator of success. You could just be a slave to a system that requires it.

I’m not advocating for complete dress code anarchy. Graphic tees and baseball caps aren’t for every environment. But a pair of khaki shorts during the summer is not going to offend any sensible person in this day and age.

Make professional development a priority.

Don’t Believe The Hype

Contrary to popular belief, everyone isn’t an urban hipster. Everyone doesn’t live in a loft, have a wild sex life, and drink lattes every morning. Everyone isn’t a creative nor an entrepreneur nor a photographer nor a Crossfit enthusiast. Everyone doesn’t dress like a model every day. Everyone doesn’t do everything. Everyone doesn’t do anything.

It’s alright to pick Budweiser over a rare local craft beer. There’s nothing wrong with spending your Sunday mornings in a church instead of hiking a trail. You can work an 8-5 with hopes of climbing up the corporate ladder as opposed to blazing your own trail. Sure, sometimes, try some of that “hipster” stuff, just to see if you like it. You never know, you just might. But what you cannot be is average. Whatever you do, whether marketing guru, blogger, or a stock team member at the local grocery store, you must work to be the best at it.  There’s no hype in that. Only hard work.

 

Make professional development a priority.