Q: My work demands a fairly conservative dress code. How can I show a bit of creative flair without getting into trouble?
A: As a working stiff you may be relegated to traditional office wear, but that doesn’t mean you have to look stiff. First off, make sure your clothes fit you impeccably (that alone will set you apart from most other men in your office). Then add a punch of colour and prints. Start with your pocket square, tie, and socks. It will give your suit enough panache to satisfy your need for creativity, without offending your boss.
Q: What is the difference between a suit jacket, sportcoat and blazer?
A: Not a whole lot, actually. The most noticeable difference is one of context: suit jackets are usually paired with a matching pair of pants and for that reason tend to be more understated and structured, and made from fine wool (or lighter cottons and linens during the summer). Sport jackets were originally designed as outerwear and as such were warmer and more durable, in tweeds and heavier fabrics. Now, they have more or less become accepted as a less structured, casual jacket. Finally, blazers are nearly anything with sleeves, buttons and lapels. Traditionally, they were navy blue jackets with gold buttons, but as time has passed, the lines have blurred.
Q: I’m buying a new watch and would like something that I can wear pretty much all of the time. Can you recommend something versatile that can go from office to formal to casual wear?
A: A steel chronograph sports watch with a steel bracelet is your best bet here. Choose something understated and classic, like a TAG Heuer Carrera Heritage, which is refined enough not to look out of place with a suit, yet rugged enough for weekend casual.
Q: How do I get rid of salt stains without ruining my leather shoes?
A: Salt stains — the Canadian man’s sworn nemesis. Thankfully, there is a swift and eco-friendly solution to your (and the rest of the nation’s) predicament. Mix a tablespoon of white vinegar with a cup of water and wipe the stains off with a soft cloth.
Q: I’ve recently bought cedar shoe trees for all my dress shoes, but I’m wondering if it’s necessary to use them in casual footwear as well?
A: Kudos for buying cedar shoe trees in the first place—you’re already one step ahead of most gentlemen. But to answer your question specifically, there really is no steadfast rule on using shoe trees with causal footwear. Some high-end sneaker brands like Comme des Garçons package their footwear with shoe trees, but that doesn’t mean that you need to go out and purchase them for every pair of kicks you own. On the other hand, if you’re going sockless regularly, then using shoe trees isn’t a bad idea. They will help absorb moisture and will preserve the lifespan of the shoe. Not to mention, they’ll minimize the amount of unpleasant odour that may emit from the inside of the shoe.
Those socks just up top? They’re Paul Smith and they’re $40.