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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I’M ON A BOAT: A RUNDOWN OF ACCEPTABLE SUMMER FOOTWEAR

Fact: Women love boats. We love riding in boats, looking at boats, yacht clubs, booze cruises. You name it, we’re on board with it (literally). And since July is the prime season for sailing into her heart and dropping anchor, Miss Wingman thought it only fair to provide you with a little nautical footwear rundown.

Why? Because you should capitalize on this opportunity to put your best foot forward while it’s still seasonally appropriate. And because the only thing that can hurt your chances is what you’ve got on your feet. So take a break from swabbing the deck, raise the sails and listen up, boys.

(*Miss Wingman note: In Googling whether “swabbing the deck” is even a viable nautical term anymore, I discovered that it has an alternate meaning of the perverse sexual variety. Thanks for the traumatic new knowledge, Urban Dictionary).

You’ve heard me rant against public enemy #1, Crocs, before. And decry the offensiveness of mandals (that’s “man sandals” for the uninitiated). And I’ve grazed over the merits of Sperry’s and flip flops (both completely fine). But a new potential enemy has surfaced in my war against male footwear, and I had to share it with you.

Behold: Swims.

Am I the only one who hadn’t heard of these before? It’s recently come to my attention that someone has taken the idea of summery dude shoes to another level, and thus Swims were unleashed on the world. They’re a hybrid of aqua socks (bleh!) and loafers, and they look a little like a Tod’s driving moccasin with an entirely mesh, waterproof cloth body. Oh, and they come with laces and tassles, too… if that’s what you’re into.

As ridiculous as this sounds, I’ve been grappling with what my opinion is on these things since they were put onto my radar. So I did a little research: The Norwegian company who created Swims (or more accurately, a Norwegian guy named Johan), began by making fashion-questionable galoshes to help protect shoes during the soaking rainy season. Yes, galoshes – those things your dad wore. Or your mom, they make a truly horrifying version for women’s high heels, too (Thanks a lot, Norway).

This is a fine idea I suppose, but somehow over time they expanded the brand and began cross-pollinating water proof shoes with penny loafers, and this is where the trouble started. Though I understand the necessity for a rubber-soled shoe for men, I think I’ve finally figured out where I stand on the issue: The world did not need the Swims loafer. It has simply gone too far.

That said, I know there will be several of you who will adamantly defend these ridiculous things – just like legions of Croakies lovers came out of the woodwork after I bashed those, too. Miss Wingman is still getting photos of Croakies texted to me and email testimonials from friends who apparently love those God awful things. (PS, remind me to de-friend all of you now, thanks).

So, if you choose to ignore my purchase advice and absolutely MUST take a dip in the Swims pool, there are only a few acceptable styles and colors to choose from among the vast array they offer. I’m more pro-tassle than pro-flat front loafer, which is considerably less attractive. The lace up loafer is the least heinous style and the penny loafer is borderline, in my opinion. As for colors? Navy is nice, gray is good, and the orange, red or green? Those would even be a little bit much if you were competing in a regatta. Yikes.

Under no circumstances should males rock the white Swims – in any style. You’ve heard me say this before, but no one can pull those off. Not even a deckhand on the Love Boat. I mean it – cut that sh*t out.

You’d also do well to avoid the Charles style, but the forthcoming Helmut isn’t too terrible, from what I can tell. But if I ever spot any of you sporting the slipper Swims, I’m staging an intervention, and it won’t be pretty.

In fairness, I would never give you a full list of “Don’ts” without at least offering you some alternatives. That said, I’ve grown to appreciate a good Sperry top-sider. Recent collaborations that I love are the Sperry Top-Sider/Band of Outsiders styles and Sperry for Barneys Co-Op (a pop of color at it’s very best).

I also never find fault with flip flops, unless they’re of the Adidas, shower shoe variety – it’s not college anymore – and Cons (ahem, Converse) will always be an old school favorite of mine.

But whatever direction your footwear fetish takes you, keep in mind two things: 1) Gay men can pull off many things that straight guys cannot (look no further than length of shorts hem). Baby steps, boys, don’t try to emulate – for your own good. And 2) Remember, even if you don’t actually have a boat, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to your girl-getting advantage. Good luck, god speed, and may the romance waters always be smooth sailing.DAPPER WINGMAN

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IT’S HIP TO BE SQUARE… POCKET SQUARE, THAT IS.

ZZ Top said it best, “Every girl’s crazy about a sharp dressed man.” Amen to the bearded trio, truer words were never spoken. And, incidentally, nothing’s sharper than a crisp, well-executed pocket square. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a dapper man. Guilty as charged.

But just in case you thought pocket squares were reserved for the Carlton Banks-types, you’re wrong. There are a million different ways to rock ‘em: with a full suit, a blazer and jeans (or pants), straight fold, triangle fold, multi-point fold, and the list goes on.

If the fold alone seems overwhelming – nevermind the myriad options – allow me to ease at least one burden. Check out this idiot-proof illustrated guide to properly folding a pocket square, courtesy of Brooks Brothers. Thank goodness for small favors, boys.

Getting back to some standout styles for Spring, though, I’ve done some of the legwork for you. My hands down favorite comes courtesy of shoe maker Mark McNairy. Why is it my favorite? Because it’s a little inappropriate, of course. And you guys know how I feel about a well-placed expletive. This “F*** Off” solid pocket square comes in a variety of colors and only cost you $18. If you can find it, that is. This little lapel gem is selling out quickly I’m afraid, but there is a waiting list. (Yes, I’m serious).

Next up is the Thomas Pink pocket square that gives new meaning to the words “pop of color.” This silk, $70 version may be a little too bold for your liking, but I think it’s a perfect way to set yourself apart from the crowd. If that’s what you’re into.

Or you can try this playful floral linen version, courtesy of Berg & Berg. Yellow is a favorite accent color of mine for menswear, but just in case that’s not your style, they also tout a variety of madras colors and paisleys, too.

For the less brave among you, there’s always the oxford blue pocket square perfected by Jack Spade ($28), a classic edition to any jacket front and decidedly more understated.

As is the solid white-on-white, linen, raised stars version by Michael Bastian ($45) that I also adore. It’s like the hanky your granddad used to carry – only more fun.

Or if you prefer this simple, edged style ($8), it comes in just about every piping color you can imagine (I prefer hunter green, black and charcoal, but take your pick). The folks at The Tie Bar have pretty much outdone themselves, compiling the most comprehensive assortment of pocket squares on planet earth. If they don’t have it, it probably doesn’t exist.

And finally, not to confuse things further when you’re just catching on, but there are also things called “pocket rounds,” which are worthy of mention. These plaid and gingham styles ($55) are by Alexander Olch, but he also offers some killer striped, wool and houndstooth designs as well.

For the modern man, if you’re willing to try something new with your wardrobe this season, go ahead and have a little fun. Sometimes being called a square isn’t a bad thing.DAPPER WINGMAN

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