There was a time when a man wearing just a watch was considered flashy—but nowadays, with the addition of lapel pins, tie clips, bracelets, et cetera, to the menswear oeuvre, there’s a lot more to take into consideration when adorning oneself.
Men wearing jewelry has always been a touchy subject, but when it comes to dangling religious or traditional baubles from your nape, we’re of the mind that it requires something chain-link and preferably with a pendant embedded in a manly thicket of chest hair. What we’re saying is: it requires a good amount of burliness to pull off something otherwise relegated to womenswear, and you ought to make sure it’s something that you can wear proudly (say, a cross, chai or trinket your grandfather handed down to you). To drive the point home, we’ve compiled some photos of brawny pretty-boys doing it right (don’t expect to see any purposely tousled deep-Vs or stacked bracelets).
Certain questions regarding matters of gentlemanly style and grace have repeated themselves for decades. Case in point: on three separate occasions—once in 1966 and twice in 1984—Ann Landers was asked for her advice on the subject of male earrings. Given Morgan Freeman’s bizarre determination to keep the fad alive in 2012, we felt it was as good a time as any to revisit the 50-year-old issue. To that end, in unauthorized collaboration with “Ask Ann Landers” circa 1943-2002, Kempt presents the first in a series of 2012 answers to questions posed by the style-seekers of yesteryear.
Male jewelry is always a maze of conventions, but we recently ran across a particularly complex case via A Suitable Wardrobe: the pinkie ring.
A surprising number of well-dressed men have popped up wearing them, from Prince Charles to Jay-Z, so we understand a guy getting curious—but this is dangerous territory.
Like most affectations—a monocle, for instance—if you’ve got any doubt in your mind, don’t do it. It’s not a necessity. The success rate isn’t even all that high. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll take a walk right now, forget all this pinkie ring nonsense and go back to your easy, comfortable life of wingtips and oxford shirts.
One of the pleasant surprises of this round of Fashion Week shows was how many gents showed up with a little flash on their lapels. Of course, we’ve already sung the praises of the tie pin, but the lapel pin gives you a lot more room to work—and there’s a tribal element that never quite made its way to the tie pin. In days of yore, this was where you’d show your allegiance to the Kiwanis, Electricians Local 229 or the Cleveland Browns. Nowadays, all you’re likely to see is the cable-news-approved flag pin, which is the opposite of the personal touch you should be looking for.
The best pins hew closer to nostalgia than kitsch, like a vintage brass eagle or (if possible) your granddad’s local 229 pin. Something with a story behind it. Something personal. Throw enough of them together and you’ve got a fair portrait of where a man’s coming from. It’s a way to elevate your suit out of the sharp-but-forgettable limbo where most gentlemen find themselves. And if, along the way, you get the chance to rep the Kiwanis, all the better.
Of course, finding them is easier said than done—especially if you want something with a bit of history—but the first step is to start looking.
Hard times in London may have brought back the criminal world’s most dapper pastime: the jewel heist. Last week, a pair of well-tailored gentlemen relieved a Bond St shop of more than $65 million in jewelry before escaping in a blue BMW, which was subsequently traded for a silver Mercedes. And that’s only the most recent in a string of thefts that’s plagued London’s jewelry district for months, which suggests the days of the gentleman jewel thief may be returning.
Of course, we at Kempt do not endorse criminal pursuits. But as criminal pursuits go, we definitely prefer the ones that involve luxury cars, daring getaways and expensive suits. If we ever have to resort to extralegal activity, we hope we’ll do it with this much panache.
Our old friends at Norsea Industries have come out with a new Autumn/Winter line, and while most of it is the same North England nautical duds we gushed about before, there’s something new this time around. And it looks an awful lot like jewelry.
Well, maybe jewelry is a bit too strong—let’s stick with “accessories.” The latest goods include scarves, loose bracelets, tie and lapel pins, cufflinks, and even a watch fob or two. It’s a little different from the stripped-down denim they were moving a season ago, but it’s not so far off the mark.
Orient Express: LL Bean will open shop in China this month. Beijing will receive the first of four retail locations, but unfortunately missed the Michael Phelps’ Mom Endorsement train. [DNR]
English Rain: A Continuous Lean’s Michael Williams offers a decidedly British fall look, from bags to bumbershoots. The whole lot exceeds $5,000, which is great for aesthetic but painful if you’re on this side of the exchange rate. [A Continuous Lean]
Tough Tooth: Liev Schrieber wears his wife’s jewelry and doesn’t care what you think. At least it’s a gold and diamond shark tooth. [W]
Draped in Olsen: Stock market meltdown, Palintology and menswear by Ashley Olsen. Isn’t that a Nostradamus prediction? [The Cut]