WHY THE BANKER BAG MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE A GIANT D-BAG

If I see one more guy walking around carrying a navy blue canvas duffel bag, I’ll vomit.

Do me a favor, boys, and set down your corporate logo-emblazoned, work-issued, blue and green douche-tastic man purse and back away slowly…That’s it, yeah, just like that. Arms above your head and step away from the object in question. Why?

Because it makes you look like a Grade A, 100%, Certified A**hole, that’s why.

    Image Courtesy of www.Bankerbags.com (ugh, yes, that actually exists)

If you’re lucky enough to not know what I’m referring to, you either don’t live in a major metropolitan city like NYC, or you don’t hang out with anyone who works for a private investment firm or a bank. Either way, this carryall of the masses is the ubiquitous uniform of finance dudes everywhere. And it’s an accessory that needs to die.

Now hear this, gentlemen: I’m not saying that if you work in investment banking, private equity, for a hedge fund, what have you, that it automatically makes you an insufferable prick. There are plenty of good ones who get lumped in with the riffraff, it’s true.

I’m just saying that all of the men I’ve come across who fit that description happen to work in those industries. I don’t meet many school teachers, journalists or bartenders who exude a similar sense of entitlement, do you?

So is it a coincidence? Maybe. Am I a jerk for stereotyping? Probably. But I’m a jerk who wouldn’t sleep with you if you were carrying that rubbish, so you might want to listen up.

I know that these bags are work-issued, and that you use them to tote your gym clothes around. But guess what? Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you should use it. It’s like wearing a sign around your neck that says, “I may or may not be a horrible person, care to play the odds?” Um, no thanks. Vault that sh*t, boys. For real.

It’s statements like this, which I’m saddened to admit that I found on a beloved blog, that only reinforce my contention that people who drink the banker bag Kool-Aid are woefully misguided: “The Goldman Sachs bag is obviously the most coveted and respected of all the investment bank options — not only for its classic navy and green design — but also because of the bank’s prowess in the cutthroat world of finance. That also raises the question of how you are treated when you carry an investment bank duffel? Are the salespeople at Bergdorf more helpful? Are women more interested in you?”

Here’s the answer (in between gagging): Perhaps, sales people might be more attentive to you, God help us all. But any woman who likes you because you carry this classic prepster staple probably isn’t into you for your charming personality (and some of us are straight up repelled by it). So what’s your recourse, boys? Find an alternative.

Hudson Sutler, a company run by a couple of reformed finance-types, has created a more tasteful alternative. Equally disgusted by the poor quality, stigmatized accessories carried by their brethren, they launched their own line of commuter bags and weekenders a few years ago and the rest, as they say, is history.

Their bags, which range from $95-$130, come in a variety of colors and feature stick-proof resin zippers and customized, patterned linings, like plaids, pointer dogs and anchors. The two-tone color palette is still guy-friendly – think grays, reds and browns – but doesn’t scream “I’m a Master of the Universe!” like it’s Wall Street-worn predecessor.

And, for the truly proud alumnus, they’ve even discussed the possibility of incorporating university colors or logos, but only for large orders, so hit up your buddies if you’re into it, bro.

So carry your stuff in a Sutler, carry it in a backpack, hell carry it in a grocery cart if you’d like. But ditch the banker bag if you care to shirk the D-bag stigma, and raise the bar while you’re at it, boys. Chicks will thank you for it, Miss Wingman applauds you for it, and as for upping your style points? Consider it in the bag.DAPPER WINGMAN

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WELL-GROOMED WINGMAN: A NEW NAME IN THE SHAVING GAME

Stop right there. Put down your flimsy plastic or over-priced razor, wipe the shave foam from your hands, and back away from the sink slowly, boys.

Good. Now listen up, because there’s a new option in the shaving world that’s too cutting edge to ignore. (Sorry, sometimes the puns are just too easy).

If not for your sake, then for the sake of sensitive female skin everywhere. We love you, gentlemen, but we hate your sandpaper scruff.

Now I know I’ve written extensively about playoff beards and Bic’ing bald spots, but I couldn’t resist this latest one. From the minds that brought you Warby Parker, those philanthropic, moderately priced hipster glasses, comes a new business venture: Harry’s. It’s fresh, it’ll make you less hairy (Zing!) and it comes in modern, cool packaging. You just can’t ask for more than that. Or can you?

At Harry’s, they’re all about getting a good shave at a fair price. Oh, and giving back, too. Harry’s donates a razor blade or dollar equivalent to a charitable organization every time a pack of blades is bought.

Warby co-founder Jeff Raider and his partner, Andy Katz-Mayfield, have gone from frames to grooming fame with the introduction of this new venture. They offer two different styles of handles, the Winston and the Truman. Which incidentally would also make kickass names for a pair of dogs. (But don’t make me call “Shotgun!” on you).

The Winston is aluminum and runs for an affordable $20, and it’s handsome brother, the Truman, is constructed of zinc and polymer and is a much cheaper date at just $10 a pop. Both handles can be purchased with shaving cream and a set of three blades for $25 and $15, respectively.

The biggest draw of Harry’s is the common sense appeal to their customer base: They provide a better shaving experience than cheap, disposable blades without over-paying for futuristic blade technology that no one understands anyway.

Men’s mags are describing the razors as “heavy, sturdy and comfortable in the hand.” Incidentally, only one of those adjectives can be used to explain what they look for in a woman, too. In response to that descriptor, Miss Wingman feels the need to add, “That’s what she said, we like all three.”

D*ck jokes, gentlemen. They never get old.

The bladeheads come in at $2 each (or less, depending on order size), and there are typically five blades in each “head.” The razor boasts a “lubricated strip and a flexible hinge to match the contours of your face and to minimize bleeding-related incidents.” Their shave cream will run you $8 per 100mL, and is made of coconut oil, vitamin E, Peppermint and Eucalyptus oils.

Just in case you were wondering.

So move over, Dollar Shave Club ads, because there’s a new shaving sheriff in town, and one that lets you save face, too.

And finally, if you were planning on getting creative with your facial hair, fellas, better read this first. Better safe than sorry. Good luck lathering up, have fun, and may the grooming Gods be ever in your favor.DAPPER WINGMAN

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“CAN I PULL THIS OFF?” WINGMAN: MONKSTRAP SHOE EDITION

In honor of the Papal Conclave, Miss Wingman thought it only appropriate to do a little clergy-inspired style story of my own. Besides, why should cardinals get all the buzz? Monks can be fun, too.

In case you haven’t heard of the male shoe du jour (actually, it’s been popping up the past few seasons), then clue yourself in to the tasteful alternative to lace-up or loafer dress shoes: the monkstrap.

Image courtesy: GQ

With its roots hailing from European monasteries in the Alps, the story goes that a friar visiting England introduced the strappy style to a larger audience and voila! A cobblers delight was born.

The monkstrap experienced a resurgence when it resurfaced on the runways last year, and now dudes everywhere have been putting their best buckled-foot forward.

But, as in all “Can I Pull This Off?” features, the question remains: How do you, the non-fashion editor, non-male style blogger-type Regular Joe pull off this snazzy look? It’s easy, just follow these three simple steps.

1) Decide which monk best suits your style. One strap or two? For a shoe that’s already pretty formal, the double monkstrap may not be for the fashion faint of heart, but everyone has a preference. Find out which one’s yours.

2) Shop around. There are so many designer variations on the monkstrap, with price points running the gamut from $140 Banana Republic kicks to $1350 for Ralph Lauren Purple Label Narvells, (though I prefer their Obrian Calf monkstraps). Or you could have a little fun and add a hint of wingtip to your toes by opting for Ben Sherman’s Montaigne style.

Image: Thom Browne via Selectism

My personal favorites are Alexander McQueen’s perforated leather monkstraps, Paul Smith’s Fosters (with a bit of fringe!), and the classic Peal & Co. single strap (if double’s not your thing), available at Brooks Brothers. But don’t just take it from me, hit up sites like Polyvore and Mr. Porter to check out brands like A.P.C., Saint Laurent, Mark McNairy and a host of others. Your feet will thank you.

The final and most important thing to consider when contemplating a monkstrap purchase is how to wear them. As in, “do these pants make my ankles look fat?”

Kidding. But seriously, what you pair them with is more than half the battle, and is the key to pulling off this dapper look with ease. The good thing about these monastic mo-fo’s is that they’re versatile. You can wear them with a well-tailored suit or dress them down with some dark-washed or distressed denim and a cardigan. Just make sure the hem is slightly cropped so as not to hide your footwear flair.

Image courtesy: Tumblr

Or, you can even pair them with a double-breasted sports coat, pocket square and chinos, if you’re feeling particularly preppy that day.

Image courtesy: Menstylefashion.com

The important thing is to be mindful of fit. If you’re brave enough to try monkstraps, then you should be undaunted by a cropped and cuffed hem or narrow-legged pant. Add a tie for a little extra polish, or just a casual jacket over a slim-fitting sweater. And if you really want to go full monty, then invest in some striped or bold-hued socks to add a pop of color. They’re like Christmas for your feet.

From friars to frat boys, monkstraps look good on pretty much everyone, so long as they’re executed properly. So wear them with confidence. Wear them with style. And soon enough, you’ll be wearing them religiously.DAPPER WINGMAN

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THE INK LINK: WHAT YOUR TATTOO PLACEMENT SAYS ABOUT YOU

Maybe it’s because Miss Wingman has recently spent time in sunnier climates, but all those shirtless men got me thinking… Summer’s right around the corner, boys. (OK fine, maybe not around the corner, but with any luck it’ll be here before we know it). And, lucky for us, that means that you’ll be shedding those layers and showing a little skin. Thus, you might want to know what message your tattoo(s) send to the female population.

So if you’re inked up, listen up, because I’m talking to you.

Full disclosure, Miss Wingman has some ink of her own. How much? None of your damn business. Unless you know me personally (those in the know, know). That said, one of the most annoying questions you can ask a tattooed person is the meaning behind their design. Even the most well thought-out artwork can sound trite when explained in brief.

So, far be it from me to judge the inspiration behind your tats, but I will tell you what their placement on your body says to women at large.

Forearm: Whether you’re a hipster, a musician, or just fancy yourself a tough guy, this spot isn’t just for sailors and inmates anymore. You can’t go wrong with a well-placed forearm tattoo, it’s one of Miss Wingman’s personal favorites. And pretty damn sexy if you ask me. That said, it’s also highly visible real estate, so make sure whatever you’re rocking is worthy of display (but we’ll get to that later).

Knuckles, wrists, elbows: Hey, if you can take the pain, more power to you. It’s a bold display but one that women don’t mind at all. Just don’t pull a Rick Ross and get “GFID” on your digits (meaning “God Forgives, I Don’t”). That’s just downright terrifying.

Bicep: I’m not anti-bicep tattoo at all, for the record. I am, however, totally anti-tribal armband or barbed wire armband. Why? Because unless you’re in prison or “down the shore” (that’s the Jersey shore, for the uninitiated), you have no excuse for such douchery. Is your name Vin Diesel? No? Then cut that sh*t out.

Chest: This is another winner with the ladies, but only if you have pecs like the aforementioned. Just steer clear of things that take up your whole chest. Quotes? Good. Serpents and giant crucifixes? Bad.

Everywhere: If you’re so covered that blank skin is a scarce commodity, this is alarming as all hell to us. Close-minded? Perhaps, but even the guy from “Prison Break” looked creepy in blanket ink, and he was smokin’ hot.

Back: This one’s a matter of geography. If your back was a map of the U.S., then anything in the Maine to Oregon/Washington vicinities is A-OK. Upper back/shoulder pieces are pretty manly, as far as ink goes. It also doesn’t hurt if you look like David Beckham, for the record.

But if it’s in the Florida/Texas/Southern California region? Dicey, to say the least. Why? Because tramp stamps aren’t hot on guys. Hell, some of you would argue they’re not even hot on women.  Best to avoid, in this girl’s opinion.

Ribs: Having amassed some personal experience with this one, all I can say is that if you rock the rib tat, you are – in a word – hardcore. Two thumbs up. One for it looking cool, and one for your incredibly high threshold for pain.

Legs: Again, a matter of northern vs. southern hemispheres. Thigh: good. Calf? Just fine. Ankle? Eh, not so much.

Maybe it’s because that’s another area commonly associated with female artwork, but a good rule of thumb is this: If we’re able to make an X-chromosome association with your tat, that’s generally not winning you any points for masculinity. Better to go with somewhere tougher, like your face.

I’m kidding. Please don’t.

Tattoos above the shoulders typically come down to execution and context. As in, it depends on how aesthetically pleasing they are, and what the person sporting them is like. Neck tat on a creative, independent type? Can definitely be pulled off, and I’ve seen some dudes do it well. Face tat indicating how many kills you’ve had? No bueno. Tear drops only work if you’re on “The Wire.” Sorry guys.

What are some other places we’d scratch our heads if we found a little skin art? These are pretty self-explanatory I think… groin, arse, belly button region, eyes. You know – the usual.

Whatever your preferred locale, wear it proudly. But allow me to end this post with a plea for all of you considering adornment: Think before you ink. Make sure you really like what you’ve chosen. And then sleep on it some more.

I say this from experience (but no worries, some talented cover artists and hours of pain have restored my love in all of my artwork). Consider it a Miss Wingman PSA, especially if you care what the ladies think.

So, here’s to the hope of warmer weather and a little beach time in your future. You don’t need to cover your tats up on our account, unless it’s with sunscreen, of course.DAPPER WINGMAN

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TREND COMEBACK ALERT: THE MAN TURTLENECK? UM, NO.

Whilst trolling the web today, Miss Wingman came across something so disturbing it made me stop in my tracks. It was so unnerving, so heinous and ill-advised, that I just couldn’t help but comment to you, the reading masses.

So brace yourselves, boys, because what I’m about to show you is in no way endorsed by this site, myself personally, or I’m pretty sure females ANYWHERE.

What could possibly offend me more than the punishing, excruciating cold we’re being served up by Mother Nature this week? THIS.

Yes, the style blogs are now reporting the return of the Man Turtleneck. (Thanks a lot, Paris Fashion Week runways). But please, ignore this trending alert. Shun it, avert your eyes, and if any of your buddies attempts to pull this off, it is your duty as a card-carrying member of the testosterone club to point/laugh/refuse to be seen with him until he changes his clothes.

It’s OK, really. I give you permission.

Now, I know it’s frigid as hell right now. (And no, even an ass raping by Old Man Winter isn’t grounds to bust out those 180′s, boys – I know some of you are contemplating it). But even a severe cold snap is no excuse for wearing the Man Turtleneck.

Are you Steve Jobs? Is this 2nd grade and you’re also wearing bib-front snow pants? No? Then cut that sh*t out. Mock or full-neck, cable knit or just cotton, I can’t think of a single instance where I’ve thought a man looked sexy wearing this. Or would consider sleeping with him. Sure, male models with their chiseled jaw lines and perfect pecs look like they can pull this off. But I assure you, even they look douchey to women.

And trying to hide it under a rugged jacket or pair it with a sports coat isn’t acceptable, so don’t try to sneak that by us, either. Just stick to your regulation wool sweaters and cozy flannels until the mercury stops assaulting us, and I assure you your love life will fare much better than the dude’s who tries to look like the 4th member of The Lonely Island.

If you’re still unclear about what’s considered acceptable male fashion trends, gentlemen, then stick to this rule of thumb: If childhood pictures exist of you wearing said item (or worse, wearing matching outfits with your siblings), please leave that trend where it belongs…retired, permanently. Good luck, stay warm, and for the love of God, just invest in a scarf.DAPPER WINGMAN

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10 ESSENTIALS EVERY MAN NEEDS TO OWN

Women are known to frequently stare into their closets and lament the fact that we “have nothing to wear.” Guys, on the other hand, don’t dwell on such frivolities. Is it clean? Does it at least appear to not smell/have visible stains? Voila! That’ll do. But just because you’re less picky doesn’t mean you’ve got all your wardrobe bases covered, boys.

Maybe it’s because it’s a new year, but I think beginning a closet overhaul would serve many of you well. But, before you complain that this sounds expensive, realize that you can reinvent your look by integrating just a few staple pieces. As long as they’re the right pieces. So here’s Miss Wingman’s list of 10 Basics Every Man Should Have In His Closet. Enjoy.

*At least 3 custom suits: I know, I know, custom suiting isn’t cheap. But if it’s not bespoke, at least make sure it fits you exceptionally well. You should own a standout black suit, an equally standout charcoal gray suit, and one other. I recommend navy, but I’ve seen guys pull off brown or light gray well, too. And don’t fall into the boring trap – make sure the third option has something different about it, like a 3-piece, or fine pin stripes.

*A pair of fashion sneakers: Please, please do not confuse athletic sneakers with fashion sneakers. Under no circumstances should you pair your white New Balances that you wear to work out with jeans and a shirt. How do you tell the difference? For starters, fashion sneakers, like these, will cost a hell of a lot more. But throwback Nikes, Supras or brands like Common Projects also look a lot cooler, hence the price tag. Play around with what style suits you best, just please leave the cross trainers at the gym.

*A pair of non-cargo shorts: Are you a kangaroo? No? Then you don’t need that many pockets. Flat-front shorts flatter your, um, figure better (read: don’t make your ass look droopy). Keep the hemline close to the knee – not below – and you should be alright.

*A classic, chunky watch: This one’s very subject to individual taste, but here’s a good rule of thumb: No plastic (you’re not in 3rd grade anymore). The sportier, the better. And stainless bracelet trumps leather strap – unless that’s not your style. Diving watches, nylon straps, chronographs – it all works, so long as it suits your personality. It doesn’t have to be a Rolex Daytona, but every man should eventually own a quality watch. 

*A versatile jacket: Sure, this will vary depending on what climate you live in, but you don’t have to rock a down parka or a cashmere overcoat – there’s definitely a happy medium. Surplus styles tend to look handsome on men, as well as waxed cotton field coats, like the one above (J. Crew). And if you’re really feeling baller (like, $800 baller – yikes), the Mackintosh Duncan coat is one of my absolute favorites.

*A fitted dress shirt: Measurements are taken for a reason, boys. Use them. Also, women like the way your chest looks in a dress shirt. It’d be a pity to bury it under all that extra fabric.

*The perfect sports jacket: Solid-colored and well-fitting through the shoulders, all men should own a go-to sports jacket. Pair it with jeans or pants, tees or a button down, if it’s the right cut it’ll work with everything.

*Dark wash jeans: Faded went out with 90s hair metal bands, and ripped are only acceptable if you’re Joey Lawrence (“WHOA!”). Make sure they’re flat-front, dark enough to wear out at night, but casual enough to wear hanging around. No high waters – seriously, dudes need to watch the length of their pants. And please, for the love of God, no embellished pockets.

*Crewneck tees in solid colors: Black, gray, navy, olive, these should all be in your closet. Why? Because you can wear them as base layers or alone. Score.

A man-friendly, functioning carryall: Dispel everything you know about the “murse,” (that’s “man purse” for those worried about the stigma) and stop using your work-issued laptop bag to tote your life. There are options that serve both fashion and function, if you put a little thought into it. Modern briefcases and messenger bags are perfect for the urban guy-on-the-go. Buy quality and it’ll last even longer. Distressed looks cooler anyway.

So that’s the rundown, gentlemen. An exhaustive list, but one that you should all be able to check off item by item. Amassing these pieces over time is allowed, but the sooner you’ve covered your basics, the better. Just remember, being a well-rounded man may be the most important thing, but having a well-rounded closet is a close second.DAPPER WINGMAN

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WINTER STYLEWATCH: HOW TO PLAY WITH PLAID (THE RIGHT WAY)

Nothing is cuter on guys than plaid. It’s cozy, it’s rugged, and if done right, it makes us want to curl up in front of a crackling fireplace with you.

OK, maybe that’s pushing it a little – but you will look manly-yet-adorable. Which is always a good thing.

If you associate men in plaid with Scottish dudes in kilts, then open your minds – and your closets – to the bevy of other options out there. From tartans to buffalo checks to Blackwatch and glen plaids, there’s a pattern out there for every guy. The most important thing when choosing how to rock these prints is to never mix plaids at the same time. In fact, wearing only one item is the best way to showcase your seasonal spirit.

So I’ve gone ahead and curated some of my favorite plaid pieces for your viewing enjoyment. Hopefully this will give you an idea of how to integrate them into your wardrobe without looking like a walking picnic blanket. Enjoy.

Blackwatch plaid is my personal favorite version. Featuring dark green and black/navy, it’s the signature tartan of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, known as The Black Watch – hence the name.

It’s great in a button down, like this one (above) from Wallace & Barnes. Or, these Woolrich Pro-Keds are a fun and festive alternative (and easier on the wallet).

If glen plaid’s more your thing (huh?) then incorporating it into a scarf over your jacket is always a nice touch.

This more stately, simple plaid tends to look a bit more business-like or formal. Try Brooks Brothers’ merino wool glen plaid scarf, available in black or brown.

Moving right along to tartan, this plaid has come a long way since the days of Braveheart. A tartan work shirt is always a solid choice, in Miss Wingman’s opinion. Ralph Lauren Rugby makes this handsome version, or else be bold and liven up your formal wear with a tartan bow tie. If you dig preppy, this one by MacIntosh is perfect for holiday parties.

If cozy is what you desire, then look no further than these utility pants by Eddie Bauer. They feature a buffalo check flannel lining, and are the most subtle way to incorporate just a hint of that iconic plaid into your look (without looking like the Brawny man). Plus, they’ll keep your buns warm. Score.

And finally, if you’d prefer to let your pockets have a little fun, these handkerchiefs by Barbour liven up the breast of your coat just the right amount. Plus, they come in a variety of colors and are washable cotton.

Of course, if you’re a real enthusiast, you can always go the full-blown plaid pants route (eeek!), or even the wool newsboy cap route – but they’re a little too “Legend of Bagger Vance” for my liking. However you choose to rock it, plaids are the official pattern of gentlemen everywhere. Button it, drape it, tuck it in or roll it up. Just do yourselves a favor, boys, and “check” it out this season.DAPPER WINGMAN

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