Kempt

world of men's style / fashion / grooming

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The 10 Commandments of Velvet

  • Najib Benouar

19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Red Carpet

Velvet.

The mere utterance of the word can send shivers up the spine of even the most savvied dandy. It’s one of those rare fabrics that has both low- and highbrow connotations—and you wouldn’t want to be pegged to either—but if there’s any time of year you could get away with donning the dandified older cousin to corduroy, it’s now. So we’ve put together this handy guide:

The 10 Commandments of Velvet.»

Eddie Redmayne’s Tuxedo Slippers and More Oscar Handsomeness

  • Najib Benouar

Eddie Redmayne

We spent the better part of last week ruminating on the state of black tie on the red carpet (it’s as strong as ever) in the lead-up to last night’s Oscars.

And we were hoping to see some of our handiwork out on the red carpet. We were not disappointed—and, aside from Daniel Day-Lewis’s pitch-perfect getup (right down to the tipped pocket square we suggested here) our proudest moment was when newcomer Eddie Redmayne traipsed in wearing velvet tuxedo slippers (another one of our suggestions).

We’ve been tracking Redmayne’s red-carpet ascension closely this awards season, and this move solidifies his bid as Red Carpet Rookie of the Year. (The rest of his kit was also impeccable, as you can see.) But it was an undeniably handsome night all around, so we couldn’t let the chance to point out a few more of our favorites go by.

Another look at the real winners of last night’s tuxedo games.»

Beyond the Tux: Evaluating the Tuxedo Slipper

  • Najib Benouar

Black Tie header

With the triumphant return of black tie to red carpets everywhere over the past few awards seasons, we’re especially looking forward to the upcoming Oscars. But with the parades of grosgrain on each red carpet ever-growing, it begs the question: what makes one tuxedo different from—or better than—another? So this week we’ll be dissecting the few subtle nuances to keep an eye out for on Sunday—and to consider incorporating into your own formalwear routine.

First up: the tuxedo slipper. It’s the traditional footwear of the black-tie trads, and if you’re adventurous enough to forgo the ubiquitous patent leather lace-ups, we’ve got a few ideas for you:

Evaluating the many forms of the tuxedo slipper.»

Your Fashion Week Primer, from A to Z

  • Najib Benouar

Ralph LaurenRalph Lauren Fall 2013 Preview

Today marks the first day of New York Fashion Week, and the international fashion cognoscenti are descending upon Lincoln Center as we speak.

And as any well-read menswear enthusiast will tell you, it pays to know what exactly all the fuss is about (especially if you find yourself suddenly sharing a barstool with your new Estonian friend or in a heated debate with your tailor). So with that in mind, we’ve prepared an A-to-Z primer of talking points and trivia that should get your through the spectacle that is NYFW.

Herewith, the ABCs of New York Fashion Week.»

The GTH House Slippers

  • Najib Benouar

Wrapping your feet in velvet can be, well, a slippery slope. (But it’s something your fall-to-winter scampering requires.)

Luckily, the clever trads over at Stubbs & Wootton have just unveiled their new fall line of evening slippers—with a few irreverent twists, per usual. As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to venture any further than the standard black-velvet hard bottoms, you’d do well to go with something that evokes the smoky den of a retired British admiral, not a neo-apocalyptic runway show. It’s not that you can’t have a little fun with them, though—after all, this is one of the few affectations that may never see the light of day—which is why we’re particularly fond of this pair that looks to be a standard monogrammed set, until you read them together. (We’ll let you sound it out.)

Also great for fans of The Odd Couple.

The Wisdom of P. Johnson Tailors

P. Johnson

Australian tailor Patrick Johnson made his name outfitting some of the most stylish gentlemen in Hong Kong, but as his latest crop of photos proves, he’s got plenty of style on his own.

It’s not a lookbook exactly—he only bothers with pictures every couple of years—but it’s a great reminder of what a sharp tailor can do. If you’re having a suit made any time soon, this is one to bookmark.

Here’s the work of the legendary P. Johnson, and what you can learn from it»

Kempt Man of the Hour: Zang Toi

We always respect white tie—but we respect it even more when a gentleman manages to leave his mark on the most formal, elegant vesting known to man.

In this case, the gentleman was designer Zang Toi, spotted at the opening night gala for the American Ballet Theater (a good scene for white tie if there ever was one).

It’s a given that he’s more dressed up than most of the other guests, but between the velvet jacket and the loosely knotted bow, he manages to settle into a kind of Bond Villain style that’s all his own. He looks as if he stepped in from another, better-dressed world.

Possibly one with box seats.

Ramdane Touhami Has Arrived

Whether you’re wearing it or designing it, a velvet DB is a splashy way to make an entrance.

This one comes from Ramdane Touhami, who launched his eponymous label with a New York shop earlier this week. (Even splashier, the DB in question comes in under $400.) The rest of the stock is every bit as whimsical, with bright corduroys and over-buttoned coats filling up the stripped-down shop. Anyone looking for a more accessible twist on Band of Outsiders just hit the jackpot.

Touhami has been kicking around Europe for a while—collaborating with Marc Jacobs, making millions in the candle business; that sort of thing—but this is his first full-scale apparel brand in years. Judging by the early gear, it’s going to be quite a show.

See the view from the New York Ramdane shop…»

The House Shoe

We love fall, but it has a few drawbacks. For instance, it may be too chilly to spend Sunday afternoon barefoot. It’s a shame…but nothing a well-chosen slipper can’t solve.

Specifically, the most decadent piece of footwear known to man: the house shoe. If you’re indulgent enough to pick one up, it’s likely to be the most comfortable item you own—for the simple fact that it will never venture outside your house.

And naturally, we’ve got a few favorites.

Our three favorite house shoes…»

An Extremely Unfurnished Room

The Body Shop: Jesse Thorn takes on the varieties of the human body, and reveals Alan Flusser’s deep, Randy Newman-esque antipathy for short people. [Put This On]

The Great Outdoors: Outerwear gets sharper with Nanamica’s latest batch. [A Continuous Lean]

Slip Sliding Away: Against the velvet slipper…and the half slipper that will let you squeak by. [Esquire]

The Battle of the Bulge: The story of the fugitive Whitey Bulger and a decade’s worth of close calls. [The Atlantic]

Winter Whites

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You’ve probably heard the old card about not wearing white after Labor Day.

You’ve also probably heard that those old rules are made to be broken. But you probably haven’t heard exactly how.

This is how. It’s a double-breasted dinner jacket from the latest Billy Reid show, arriving in stores around Labor Day.

It might look like yachtwear from a distance, but it’s a good deal cozier than that. The fabric is undyed velvet, so it’s every bit as warm as your chunkiest sweater—cut to fit our own double-breasted rulebook and colored to match the snow.

Kempt Man of the Hour: Clive Owen

Over the next month, you’re going to be invited to a number of holiday functions. And, at the risk of wearing something with a snowman on it, you’re going to want to dress the part.

This, for future reference, is how it’s done.

That’s a velvet jacket, in case you can’t tell from the sheen, and it’s the most dignified holiday item you’ll find. The trick, as Clive Owen demonstrates here, is to keep the rest of your ensemble as toned down as possible. Here, he ends up with a seasonal twist on the tuxedo, which is just about perfect for a wintry red carpet jaunt. And if you can find a jacket with peak lapels, all the better.

The Huntsman Within

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Along with all things mulled, fall brings a bit of an outerwear conundrum: to bundle or not to bundle? Our favored solution is the vintage tweed jacket, recognized worldwide as a staple of bookish gents. And as luck would have it, we’ve found a new source for them.

It’s called Tweedman's Vintage, an online shop gathering together Harris Tweed blazers, velvet smoking jackets and skinny silk ties—in short, the best British vintage has to offer.

Based out of Cambridgeshire (naturally), the duo behind this online emporium has done a superb job of combing through charity shops and the closets of British grandfathers alike to maintain a variety of impeccably preserved woven relics. They’re the perfect transitional piece for fall—polished and, when paired with your knit of choice, just shy of winter weight.

We can neither confirm nor deny the residual scent of pipe tobacco.

A Soft Touch

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With the Trad’s clout at an all-time high, we thought we’d check in with one of Manhattan’s most scrupulous dandies, Mordechai Rubenstein a.k.a. Mister Mort. His latest project is a line of velvet bowties in conjunction with fellow trad Baron Von Fancy, popping up soon for a cool $80. They’re pre-tied to spare you the near-impossible task of knotting velvet, but otherwise they’re as impeccable a throwback as you could want for a holiday party, especially if you’ve got an undersized suit handy.