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Edited By: Steve Brinkman I went to an upscale club in Boston last weekend whose target clientele seemed to be "edgy" twentysomethings. Not five minutes passed before I had an epiphany, or rather two epiphanies. The first was that nearly every guy there must believe that the pinnacle of style is to wear a light blue striped shirt with medium blue, relaxed fit jeans, and to pair the whole deal with some awful (usually Steve Madden) sneaker/shoe amalgam. The second was that nearly no one in the place knew how to pick out an appropriate pair of jeans. Choosing a pair of jeans is like picking out a suit. Most guys go down to their nearest bargain department store or discount chain and come out liking the way they look. However, that look is without imagination or anything particular that sets it out from the crowd. It's the same way with jeans. Most men will emerge from Express or the Gap and be happy with their appearance even though they look like every other guy walking down the street. Nothing special, just another guy shuffling along in a homogeneous, ill-fitting pair of jeans. Selecting an appropriate pair of jeans is like picking out a proper suit, just a lot cheaper (though the difference seems to be shrinking by the minute.) With so many new denim companies, and cuts ranging from super slim pencil legs to fuller boot cuts, there is a jean out there for everyone. When I go jean shopping, here are the three primary things I look for: 1) Denim Quality Like with the wool in a good suit, feel the denim. Significant differences exist in denim quality. There are hard finish denims, woven from very hard yarns which are extremely durable and have a smooth, cool to the touch feel (a lot of older model Diesel jeans are practically indestructible), and softer denims, which feel not only softer, but often warmer to the touch. These jeans are more textured, and often have some deliberate slubbing (a nub of yarn in the fabric that often results from the looming of softer, less uniform yarns). Unfortunately, jeans like these tend to be less durable. I've had a pair of beautiful Paper Denim "Madcap" wash jeans that lasted about a month before ripping at the knees, and a pair of "flattened" denim jeans by Diesel that have endured years of use and abuse and feel like they will last much longer. Cheap jeans will feel coarse and dry, although there are other jeans made from high quality denims that have a deliberately "dry" hand. The best denim mills are in Italy and Japan. I've found that Italian denim is generally more durable, but that is not an unbreakable rule. 2) Details 3) Cut. But of course the most important thing about a pair of jeans is the cut. Jeans should be worn on the hips, or a little lower. Jeans should be fitted but not tight around your butt and thighs. Beyond that, choose the cuts and washes to fit your personal style, body type, and wallet. And don't get caught up in the hype. New brands, new washes, and new cuts are coming out all the time. Pick something that fits you and not because it's the latest thing. And "premium" denim doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive either. A good pair of premium jeans starts at around $110 (APC makes a great stiff, unwashed jean, and I quite like some of the Levis Premium range) at retail, although you can always wait for sales. And some mid-priced brands, Lucky Brand, for example, make some very nice jeans for considerably less. Once you've selected your jeans, don't ruin the look by wearing them with a striped shirt and ugly black shoes, an ensemble that was popular in Europe five years ago. Look to classic influences- jeans pair better with rougher, work-wear inspired shirts and sweaters, and Western inspired shirts. The pre-rock greaser gangs of the 50's are another great option- a black leather jacket, white t-shirt and rolled-up jeans look is a timeless classic. My personal choices are influenced by the styles worn by anti-war demonstrators in the 60s. Of course, Andy Warhol deserves a category all his own with his wild, abstract shirts and skinny ties paired with slim cut dress shirts. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Fok-Yan "Fok" Leung is a postdoctoral student at Harvard University. When not thinking about pollutant emissions from forest fires he spends too much time complaining about other peoples' poor fashion choices. His fiancée barely tolerates this. He wants to host his own reality show called "This Straight Guy has a Bitchy Eye Too." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4. Article- What to Wear for the Holidays By: Andy Gilchrist and Steve Brinkman What you choose to wear to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa occasions needs to be appropriate and present a good image. Dress more festively and luxuriously at office parties than you do for work. And if you're seriously interested in career advancement use these office parties as another reason to show your sartorial stuff. Choose something that's not completely holiday themed. Turkey, reindeer, and Santa sweaters look silly, are often made of poor quality materials, and can only be worn once or twice a year at Holiday time. If you invest instead in, say, harvest colors for Thanksgiving you'll be able to wear your new clothing on many Fall occasions for years to come. For Christmas, use or purchase something red to accessorize clothing you already have. A red scarf, pocket square, solid tie, or cardigan vest is the perfect finishing touch for an elegant Christmas ensemble. Using red in this manner also allows you to wear pieces of your outfit in other non-Holiday settings. Vests are on the way back as well. A solid red or tartan plaid containing red may also be appropriate this season. Accessorizing adds versatility to your wardrobe, and helps maximize your clothing budget. Gold accents can also be used, particularly for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. What's also in this season are soft fabrics and unstructured sport coats. Pairing these with sweaters in Holiday colors, and soft corduroy or twill trousers are the perfect way to stay warm and festive for those cold Holiday get-togethers. Some specific suggestions: Theatre or Business. The office party or a special evening out. A suit or sport jacket and tie are appropriate for most office parties, even when you dress casually at work. If a tie doesn't seem right for your company party, dress up your ensemble with an elegant sweater in one of the colors mentioned above. An office party held in the evening at a restaurant or hotel calls for a suit that might be a notch up from your every day office uniform. For instance, if you usually wear Brooks Brothers, wear your cashmere Oxxford or Zegna. At the theatre, dressing well shows respect for the performers and your fellow audience. Casual. An evening with friends. Dress trousers- wool or soft corduroy or twill with a crease. Leather shoes with matching belt. Shirt choices: Appropriate seasonal colors as described above in long sleeve knit polo, turtleneck or mock neck styles. Fabrics should be fine merino wool or cashmere. No logos on the polo shirts, and leave the pique or waffle knits at home. In a pinch, a festively colored button up dress shirt or sport shirt with a collar can be used as well. In conclusion - think image. Yours! If it's your or your date's office party keep in mind it's a business function. Show up looking like you made an effort and thought about what to wear. Don't look like you stopped in on your way to get groceries. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Andy's Gilchrist's interest in clothing came from his father who even in the middle of Kansas wanted to know the latest fashion. Degrees in Sociology and Journalism from Kansas State University were the basis for a diverse professional career. Serving corporate America, he developed a strong sense of how fashion influences othe
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