It's a question I've been asking myself as well. So I've done a bit of research, and unfortunately, the answer seems to be: not anywhere cheap. I know that last year, H&M had them, in black and midnight blue velvet at different times (black pictured at right), and they were in the area of $35-40. And I foolishly, in a fit of parsimony, returned the ones I bought back then, so of course this year, I haven't been able to find them (although you may want to contact your largest local store just to be sure). This has left me to scour the online marketplace, and the results are decidedly unfriendly to the wallet. However, here's what I've found, in ascending order of price.

Church's, Embroidered Crown, £110
or £91.67 (approx. $145 US) if shipped outside the UK; available in black, but out of stock as of this writing

Church's is a venerable English shoemaker, now owned by Prada. Too bad these are out of stock right now - it's the best price I've found, and considering the heritage of this brand, I'd consider these a bargain (which is probably why they're sold out).

Herring Shoes, Embroidered Coat of Arms, £135
or £112.50 (approx. $180 US) if shipped outside the UK; available in seven colours; also available non-embroidered in navy, purple, and black (~$155 US)

Made in England, this is the house label of a UK online shoe retailer. Reasonably priced.

Brooks Brothers, Embroidered "BB" Monogram, $198
available in black; also available in non-embroidered black ($198) 

Made in England by Peal & Co. It's a shame that Brooks Brothers doesn't offer any other embroidered styles; using someone else's monogram is a bit gauche. I'd only recommend these if your initials are actually B.B.

Del Toro, Embroidered Skull and Bones, $215
available in navy, black; also available in non-embroidered navy, red, bottle green, and black ($270), logo-embroidered navy ($270) and black ($215), and custom styles ($295-$455)

Del Toro is new on the velvet-slipper scene, and has been getting a fair amount of publicity from The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, et al. Anytime somebody writes an article about velvet slippers, they're bound to be mentioned.

Shipton & Heneage, Various Embroidered Motifs, $255
available in five colours; also available in six non-embroidered colours ($215), several wraparound embroidered designs ($345), three monogram styles ($450), and four custom crest styles ($595)

Great selection, competitive prices. Enough said.

Stubbs & Wootton, Embroidered Heraldic Dolphins, $450
available in black; also available in a variety of seasonal colours and styles ($450) and numerous custom configurations (from $495)

Stubbs & Wootton is the name in velvet slippers. They carry a handful of seasonal designs, tending towards the irreverent (this heraldic dolphin is the most conservative). But they also offer an unparalleled custom range, allowing you to choose your material, colours, and embroidery style, with dozens of figural motifs ($495), three styles of machine-embroidered monogram ($600), and six styles of hand-embroidered monogram using silver or gold bullion thread ($900).

Ralph Lauren, Embroidered "RL" Monogram, $650
available in five different colour combinations; also available with a figural horse-and-rider motif in five colours ($650)

Again, the tackiness of someone else's monogram, but at three times the price. But they do use bullion thread, so if your initials are actually R.L., these'll save you $250 over the Stubbs & Wootton custom bullion monogram. Otherwise, just say no.

Barker Black, Embroidered Skull Logo, $825
available in black; also available in a silver-and-gold-bullion "skull and spade" motif embroidered on black ($825)

Are you an elitist brand-whore? Is your skull as vacant of brains as the ones embroidered on these slippers? Then look no further!


In tonight's episode of Glee, we were introduced to a new, aggressively sexual Dalton Warbler by the name of Sebastian Smythe (Grant Gustin). He invites Kurt and Blaine out to Scandals, the (one and only) gay bar in Lima, where we see him out of his school uniform... and for someone who wonders whether Blaine is tired of "all the preppies" at Dalton, he's the most stereotypically preppy character we've seen so far, in a navy and green Polo Ralph Lauren rugby shirt ($125, now reduced to $74.99). Also, though it's impossible to tell exactly what watch he's wearing from the blurriness of that photo, this one by Bulova looks pretty darn close (even though it doesn't have the contrasting white stitching on the band).


When it comes to men's fashion on the hit Fox TV series Glee, there are really only two contenders for the style crown: Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer, left) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss, right). (I'm not including Matthew Morrison's teacher character, Will Schuester, because he pretty much looks as though he's bought every vest, cardigan, button-down shirt, and knit tie that J.Crew has ever produced, and has nothing else whatsoever in his closet. He's a great example of the dangers of dressing like you just stepped out of somebody's catalog: it might look good once, but if that's all you ever wear, it becomes incredibly tedious.) Kurt and Blaine also happen to be the two primary gay male characters on the show. Coincidence? I think not. For while the most exciting thing that football-playing Finn ever puts on his back is a Ralph Lauren rugby shirt, Kurt and Blaine regularly dress like a stylist's wet dream—especially Kurt, who often looks as if he's stepped directly out of the pages of a European fashion magazine, or, as his father puts it, "like you own a magic chocolate factory." Kurt perfectly sums up his own style philosophy in the third episode of the first season: "Every moment of your life is an opportunity for fashion."

“Acafellas,” season 1, episode 3
As the only openly gay student at the fictional William McKinley high school in the non-fictional city of Lima, Ohio (two hours northwest of Columbus, population 38,771), Kurt is the victim of constant harassment; his outlandish clothes, effeminate mannerisms, countertenor voice, and porcelain-doll looks make him an obvious target. Up until the middle of the second season of the show, while he is unable to outwardly express his sexuality in the sense of having a relationship with another man, he finds an outlet for it in another way: his clothes. Kurt has a penchant for tight pants, scarves, "form-fitting sweaters that stop at the knee," and just about any other style of clothing at the bleeding edge of fashion, often those that blur gender boundaries. But Kurt's philosophy on that? "Fashion has no gender."

They're keys! “Born This Way,” season 2, episode 18
Blaine, introduced in the sixth episode of the second season, is a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers, a rival choir to McKinley's New Directions. For most of the second season we only see Blaine in his school uniform, though there's a handful of times when we see him in regular clothes. But then in the third season, he transfers to McKinley, and starts wearing regular clothes all the time—though his clothes are anything but "regular." Blaine has a predilection for clothes that hark back to the Mod era of early 1960s London. Drainpipe trousers that end inches above the ankle, skinny suspenders, brothel creepers, labels like Ben Sherman and Merc... his wardrobe is a virtual stroll down Carnaby Street. And the bow ties! He wears them with polo shirts, for God's sake! I really don't know what to make of it. And I cannot for the life of me figure out why Glee's costume designer decided to make Blaine so modish. I really would have expected him to be more traditionally prep in a Ralph Lauren sort of way, but I guess they were going for something a little more... flamboyant. Perhaps they decided that conventional, straight-up prep would be a little too boring for the outgoing showman that Blaine is?

“The Purple Piano Project,” season 3, episode 1
Now, when I was originally planning this post, I thought it would be neat to go through Blaine's outfits, episode by episode, and try to track down where each piece could be found in real life. Then I discovered that there already exists an entire site devoted to this: Fashion of Glee. And once you've seen that site, you really have to work even harder than you otherwise would have to suspend your disbelief that Kurt, the 17-year-old son of an auto mechanic, could somehow be wearing a $660 Comme des Garçons shirt, $675 Paul Smith boots, or a €1,470 Vivienne Westwood suit, among any number of other ridiculously expensive designer clothes.

Also, I was disappointed that my idea, which I'd thought was so original, turned out not to be; such is the curse of the Internet. But then I realized I had a couple of items they didn't! So, here they are:

From "Prom Queen," season 2, episode 20: Ben Sherman Shawl-Neck Polo, $79


From "I Am Unicorn," season 3, episode 2 (also seen in "Prom Queen," season 2, episode 20): Ben Sherman Tipped Button-Down Collar Polo, £32

I've seen this shirt available online in two versions, one with the logo tag on the chest pocket and one without; for the show, they either had the latter, or removed the label from the former.

Kurt's outfits are always fascinating to look at, even though there's very few of them that I'd be likely to wear myself (much like a European men's fashion magazine). And, while I'm not really a fan of Blaine's modish skinny-suspender/bowtie looks, I'm really digging the preppy elements in his wardrobe from last week's episode, "Pot O' Gold", and this week's upcoming episode, "The First Time." Costume designer Lou Eyrich has been heavily favouring sweaters from Thom Browne, both from his eponymous line and, more predominantly, from the Brooks Brothers Black Fleece collection. And I gotta say, it seems a lot more plausible to have private-school-attending Blaine wearing $500+ pieces than it does Kurt. So, without further ado...

From "Asian F," season 3, episode 3: Unknown Thom Browne tipped sweater-vest

Blaine's vest is similar to this Black Fleece vest ($150), but the tipping pattern matches the white version instead of the grey. But it's almost certainly Thom Browne: note the signature "locker loop" at the back neck.

From "Pot O' Gold," season 3, episode 4: Black Fleece Zig-Zag Tipped V-Neck Sweater, $350

Worn while performing Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night." Note that the red tipping around the V-neck is almost invisible against the red polo shirt that Blaine has chosen to wear under the sweater.

From "The First Time," season 3, episode 5: Thom Browne Shawl Collar Cardigan, $580

From "The First Time," season 3, episode 5: Black Fleece Argyle Button-Front Cashmere Vest, $750

From "The First Time," season 3, episode 5: Black Fleece Striped V-Neck Cardigan, $350

In this promotional photo we can see quite clearly the pants that Blaine wears with the cardigan, in a grey Prince of Wales check shot through with pink. They're actually very similar to this pair by Brooks Brothers Black Fleece ($450), except those are shot with blue. Perhaps Blaine's are from a past season's collection?

Anyway, that about wraps things up for today. In the near future, I'll tell you how to make your very own replica Dalton Academy Warblers uniform, just like the one that I made for my Hallowe'en costume!


Something occurred to me the other day, and although it's not a really big idea, I thought it was significant enough to merit its own post:

The only way to learn how to dress well is to expose yourself to people who know how to dress well.

It occurred to me via the parallel example of writing. I have a friend who's doing his Ph.D. who works as a TA, grading first-year papers. Whenever we talk about it, he's always flabbergasted by the number of students who have managed to reach the university level who are actually terrible writers. Improper sentence structure and punctuation, words used in incorrect contexts... we always ask ourselves how these students could get so far with such a seemingly tenuous grasp of the English language.

Now, I'm a philosophy major who went to law school; my wife is an English and media studies double major who also has a master's in library science. Both of us grew up as voracious readers. My mom would look through the Chinaberry catalogue every summer, compiling a list of books I should get out from the library and read over my vacation. The thing is, I liked reading. I used to read at recess, even though I got teased about it; I used to read in the car, even though it made me carsick. My wife would read in the stands at her younger brother's hockey games.

But here's the point: all that reading showed us what good writing looked like. It showed us how a sentence was supposed to sound; it showed us new words used in their proper context; it showed us how to use semicolons and dashes. So in our own writing, we'd be able to look at something we'd written and think, "Hmm... that doesn't sound right." People who have never been exposed to the correct way of doing things have no way to tell when they're doing something wrong. It's the same with learning a language, and it's the same with style, too.

I never had any style role models when I was growing up. The way my parents taught me to dress was, I regret to say, unfashionable. It wasn't until late in my undergraduate years of university that I really began to be conscious that there was a correct way to do clothes, and began to read magazines and websites and books about clothes. By looking to others who knew what they were doing, I slowly learned how to put clothes together, how they should fit, and just fundamentally what looked right and what didn't.

So, if you're wondering how you can get started, pick up a copy of GQ once in a while (I prefer it to Esquire). Look at celebrities like Brad Pitt and George Clooney and Daniel Craig, even Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. When you watch movies and TV shows, pay closer attention to what the characters are wearing. The more you see, the more you learn, and the better your judgment becomes to choose clothes that work for you.


Note: These guidelines assume you are interviewing for a professional or office position. Before your interview, it’s always a good idea to try to find out how people at the company, or in that industry, dress on a day-to-day basis—or even better, how you could expect them to dress when interviewing you. This allows you to mirror your interviewers’ style of dress and level of formality, helping to create an unconscious feeling of familiarity and a sense that you belong. But when in doubt, dress up rather than down; such research is primarily useful to avoid the awkwardness of showing up in a suit and tie to meet three interviewers wearing polo shirts and khakis, or vice versa.

1. A solid navy or grey suit, in wool or wool blend, two-button, two-piece, single-breasted, notch-lapel. Any other pattern serves no substantive benefit and may in fact be distracting; pinstripes may be seen as flashy, as would peak lapels on a single-breasted suit. And, as Morgan Freeman noted in The Dark Knight, "Three buttons is a little nineties, Mr. Wayne." In terms of colour, navy and grey are the most conservative; however, black is becoming more common, and if it meets all the other criteria, a black suit will be acceptable for any but the most conservative occupations.

2. A white shirt with a plain point or moderately-spread collar (not button-down). People wearing white shirts are perceived as more trustworthy than those wearing any other colour. However, if you have extremely yellow teeth or extremely pallid skin, solid light blue serves as a good second choice, because it works with any colour of suit and virtually any tie. These are the two shirt colours favoured by politicians the world over for their inoffensiveness and versatility, two qualities also desirable to an interviewee. But avoid French cuffs, since they can be perceived as flashy; if you do wear them, choose subtle cufflinks that are at least 1/2", and not more than 3/4", in diameter.

3. A darker, solid-coloured or subtly-patterned tie. The tie should always be darker than the shirt, lest you look like a mafioso. Plain dark red or burgundy is a good choice, as is medium silver-grey. For patterns, a small dot, nailhead, or geometric pattern is safest. And if your tie is striped or patterned, keep it to a maximum of three (ideally only two) colours or shades; anything else risks looking dated. Also avoid large patterns, such as paisley. And NO SATIN. Lastly, ensure that your tie knot is tight, pulled right up to your collar, and not overly large. Check it in the bathroom mirror before you go into the interview (you did arrive 10-15 minutes early, right?).

4. Round-toed black lace-up dress shoes. Note that every single descriptor in this list is essential. If they’re not round-toed, they’ll look dated. If they’re not black, they’ll look flashy. If they’re not lace-up, they’ll look too casual. And if they’re not dress shoes, they’ll just look inappropriate. A plain cap toe (pictured at right) is always a good choice and will never be inappropriate. You can also get away with a small row of perforations across the top of the cap. Wing-tips are a little bit stuffy and not quite as versatile, so try to avoid them.

5. A black dress belt, no wider than 1.25 inches. The belt should match your shoes in both its colour and the finish of its leather (i.e. texture and level of shine). Choose a simple prong buckle rather than a plaque or any other design. The tone of the buckle’s metal should match your watch. The choice of silver or gold is up to you, although silver is more current.

6. Socks that match the colour of your pants. Solid or subtly ribbed, in wool or cotton depending on the weather. Not faded; ideally, washed once, inside-out, in cold water. I find that a good percentage of nylon (25-35%) and a small percentage of spandex (5-10%) greatly helps dress socks to stay up properly.

7. No pocket square, unless you’re interviewing with a menswear store, a rapper, or the NBA.

8. A simple, elegant, moderately-sized (less than 35mm in diameter) dress watch, preferably with a leather strap. The colour of the metal and leather should match the other things you're wearing (silver and black, preferably). A plain white face with Roman numerals is ideal. Absolutely no sports watches or *shudder* digital watches.

Generally speaking, no aspect of your outfit should be loud, flashy, or conspicuous in any way. You want to project a general aura of being well-put-together, without any one item drawing attention to itself. People should be left with the impression that you looked good, but not quite be able to put their finger on why. Ideally, your clothes will serve as a backdrop, allowing your non-physical strengths to shine through, but at the same time subtly enhancing your overall appeal—like the setting of a gemstone.

So, you get the job, and then you discover that the dress code is “business casual.” Sweet! Now you’re home free, right?

Well… not quite.

But we’ll talk about that next time.


We often hear the rule "don't wear white after Labour Day," but we less often hear about the point when it's okay to start wearing white. In the United States, that day is Memorial Day; but in Commonwealth countries (including Canada), which don't observe Memorial Day, we get to start a week earlier, on Victoria Day.

Incidentally, the rule doesn't apply to white shirts, but it does apply to pretty much everything else: pants, shorts, shoes, jackets, and belts (and for women, all of the above, plus skirts and handbags). It's also a good rule of thumb for when it's appropriate to wear linen or seersucker.

You only get a little over three months to indulge in the pleasure of pristine white. Make the most of it!


I've been sick the last couple days, but I managed to catch The Kennedys on the History Channel last night. I am in love with this cardigan worn by Tom Wilkinson as Joe Kennedy Sr. Even the pockets have tipping!


This past Friday my wife and I visited the Salvation Army Thrift Store in the Kerr Village area of Oakville, a suburb of Toronto known for being full of rich people. I think I can fairly safely say that, at the least, people in Oakville must own really nice stuff, because what they get rid of is pretty amazing:

Each item in the above photo was $1.99, except for the shoes, which were $8.99. I don't often have good luck with clothes at thrift stores, but I can usually find at least one tie that's decent. But finding two that are so perfectly preppy is unprecedented. First we have the very nautical Chubb Marine Underwriters tie, which would look perfect with a blazer:

Silk face, polyester lining, 3 1/8" wide, made in USA.

And then of course we have the game-bird critter tie:

All silk, 3 1/2" wide, made in England.

I'm not completely certain what kind of bird it is, but going by this picture, I'm pretty sure it's a grouse.

But I think I'm probably most excited about the Sebago burgundy tassel loafers:

Leather upper, leather sole, made in USA.
I love tassel loafers, and these will go just perfectly with khakis, navy or grey dress pants - hell, even my white linen/cotton pants. Of course they need a little spit and polish, but there's nothing seriously wrong with them, so they'll clean up very nicely. They look a lot better even after just putting in shoe trees.

And the runner-up for Most Exiciting Item is definitely The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family by Richard Avedon. I actually gasped out loud when I pulled it off the shelf. It features never-before-seen family portraits of the Kennedys taken by Richard Avedon and donated to the Smithsonian before his (Avedon's) death.

Next weekend? The Oakville Value Village!


I’ve often been known to overdress. I went to a party a couple of weeks ago, and one of the hosts made fun of me for wearing a cardigan and a button-down shirt to such a casual event. He was wearing a pair of old jeans and a Carhartt T-shirt. Evidently, here was a guy who didn’t give much thought to the meaning of his clothes—even though, to the interested listener, they had plenty to say. That’s the thing about clothes: they speak for you, even if you're not paying attention. (To my mind, the way of dressing that carries the least expressive information about a person is the one that is most predicated on quantitative rather than qualitative concerns: buying the cheapest, most practical, most durable clothing one can find at mass-market or discount retailers, and wearing everything until it falls apart, regardless of changes in fashion.) But his comment got me thinking about why I wore what I wore to that party, and just generally about why I dress the way that I do. And I realized that it was, in part, a response to the way that other people dress.

As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that when people put effort into their appearance, it demonstrates respect for the people around them. But some people put effort into cultivating an appearance that is calculated to shock or affront others. Then they’re sending a different message altogether. The message that I personally get is, “Not only do I not care what you think of me, but I’ve taken the trouble to make sure you can tell that I don’t. In fact, I reject you, your values, and everything you stand for.” In other words, if no effort is a shrug, this kind of effort is a middle finger. I’m actually insulted by it.

Now, much as I’m socially liberal and unconventional in some ways, in other ways, I’m quite conservative. One of those ways is in matters of etiquette and protocol. I don’t value tradition for tradition’s sake, but in a lot of cases, I’ve made as reasoned and objective an evaluation as I can, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the traditional way is the preferable way—primarily because, at least as far as social conduct is concerned, the traditional way is the one that shows the most respect for other people and is most likely to preserve civility and courtesy in the public sphere.

So this is a significant part of why I dress the way I do: as a reaction against counterculture. Just look at me: I’m an upper-middle-class heterosexual white male, university-educated, a lawyer. I might be too young to be The Man, but I probably qualify as The Man: The Next Generation. And when I see people dressing in a way that I interpret as a rejection of tradition, I take it as a rejection of the values of civility and courtesy in general. So I dress conservatively, neatly, “properly,” in order to communicate my rejection of their rebellion. They wear their pants halfway down their ass? I put on a tie. They get another tattoo? I get another pair of penny loafers. They rip their jeans? I press my khakis. Each salvo of theirs provokes a retaliatory volley of my own, a war of values fought vicariously through personal appearance. On the one side, order; on the other, chaos.

By this time, some of you might be thinking that I’m a hypocrite. Isn’t it one of the central premises of this blog that clothing ought to be used as a mode of self-expression? Doesn’t that preclude judging people’s clothing choices, and saying that one way of dressing is “better” than another? Why are different styles spoken of as being opposed to one another? Shouldn’t they be allowed to coexist?

But what I’m talking about here is how I conceive of my identity as being bound up with certain social mores, and how I perceive others’ identities (as expressed through their clothing) as being in opposition to (and therefore threatening towards) those mores—and by extension, my own identity. In other words, I’m not saying that these people shouldn’t be free to communicate through what they wear; I just disagree with what they’re saying. The right to express is not debatable, but the merit of the content of that expression certainly is.

Yes, I am making a judgment. Do you disagree? Leave a comment, and let the debate begin.