Reader Question

Reader Questions: Fashion-Forward Sweaters, Velvet Blazers and Beating Up on Your Clothes

Style Girlfriend Reader Mailbag

It’s been beautiful in New York the past few days. I went for a few solid runs (keeping my resolution so far!) and even considered going tights-less today…but thought better of it when considering that by the time I get home later, the temperature will have dipped back down to “Oh right, it’s still January” levels.

The warmish weather has me in a sort of, preliminary Spring Cleaning mode: I want to clean out my closet and my inbox. In the former category, I got rid of a skirt from the Gap that I’ve always told myself I’d figure out how to make it “one of these days” but never had, so just stopped trying. In the latter, I answered a sh*t ton of reader questions that were glaring at me every time I opened up my email.

Here’s what Style Girlfriend readers have been asking about lately:

Keegan says:

Dear Style Girlfriend,

No I’m still not the “first kiss” Keegan you were excited about previously, but hopefully my question will make up for it. Anyways, I’ve been looking into buying my first shaving brush and it seems there are so few men’s style websites that cover this topic. I was wondering what you would think would be a perfect match for a college newbie – on a college budget – considering there is so much to think about (brushes, creams, brush stands, shaving cups, etc..).

Thanks and keep up the amazing work!

Poor first-kiss Keegan, he’s really getting buried by my other non-first kiss Keegan readers 🙂

Of the grooming brands I’ve learned about through Style Girlfriend, I’ve been really digging Portland General Store.

Their “Liberty Brush” is $50, which is definitely an investment for a college guy, but one worth making. You can scrimp on the other stuff for now – shaving cream, etc, but you want a brush that feels good on your face and goes the distance.

Will asks:

I need a scarf to wear with my black wool overcoat. My suits are grey, charcoal, and dark blue. A knit cap to keep the ears warm would be nice, too.  Suggestions?

Can I ask two questions? (Well…three now.) I’m a 6’1″, 40 y/o bald guy (picture Anthony Edwards). Cabbie Hat or no?

Let’s work in order here:

1. In my opinion, guys cannot go wrong with a red scarf. It’s bold yet classic, and matches pretty much every neutral you put against it (though maybe that’s my bias as a Wisconsinite..). Banana Republic has a couple nice ones:

{Red merino wool, $23 (on sale)}

{Plaited wool scarf, $40}


2. For the knit hat, I think a gray is always a solid choice for guys. Headwear should be a bit more “blend into the background” of an outfit. Which is why….

3. I’d advise against the cabbie hat

Enrique asks:

Hi Megan,

For the holiday season I got a great merlot, velvet, peak lapel, single button dinner jacket/blazer.  Now that the Christmas and New Year’s parties are over, what’s the best way to keep this jacket working for me?  Is it versatile enough for work and play, or is this a formal attire only piece?

I can completely understand your desire to bust out that jacket before next New Year’s Eve; it sounds beautiful! You can definitely dress a velvet blazer down with jeans or even khakis; I found some great examples over on “The Well Dressed Man”:

The most important factor is to wear your jacket with confidence, but not arrogance. Repeat after me: Do not peacock. Women will appreciate that you’re trying something a little different with your look, but if you act like you think you’re the best-dressed dude in the room, that will be a turnoff. It’s a fine line to care about how you look but not care too much; just make sure you’ve got that balance right before you start sporting your new coat!

Sean says:

Hi Megan!

I was curious as to your thoughts on novelty knots on neckties such as the trinity knot. Are they only for casual outings or can they be taken into formal settings?

When it comes to your neckwear, women only notice a guy’s knot when it’s out of proportion to his frame. If you go with a huge “sports commentator knot” (as I like to call them) we’ll think you’re trying a little too hard. If it’s just something that’s a little fancy or different, but still a normal size, I say go for it. Maybe it’ll even spark a conversation – all those summers spent making thousands of friendship bracelets won’t be for nought.

Chris opines:

I came across your blog recently and it helped me to rethink how to dress myself as my 20’s are quickly coming to a close. Do you have any suggestions to add a little edge to your style suggestions?  A shawl sweater is a good way to get beat up on the metro or look like the old guy in the crowd. So I guess at this point I’m looking for an appropriate compromise between preppy and street wear.

Hmm, I really don’t think anyone should do a spit-take when they see a shawl collar… But if this kind of sweater feels too fashion-forward, what about mixing patterns and textures? A striped tie with a plaid shirt, for instance, feels really stylish and current right now, but is still pretty conservative. Or a wool sweater layered over an oxford button-down. I think any attempt at making your outfits a little more visually interesting means you’re on the right track (and will definitely attract the eye of ladies like me!)

John enthuses:

Hey Megan,

I came across your blog yesterday via Quarterly Co. via Tim Ferriss’ Blog. I’m an immediate fan!  I can’t wait for your next post.

In the meantime, I need your help.  I’m a young professional (31 years old… okay, moderately young), I love style, but I have to confess, I’m super rough on clothes.  Every sweater I purchase lasts 3 or 4 times before it either stretches or looks dated.  Do you have any recommendations on good looking clothes that will last for someone who doesn’t take great care of their clothing?

John, first of all – 31 is still young!

Apart from that, and I would just say, make sure you’re investing more in the clothes you treat the worst. Like shoes, suits, coats, etc. I love Target, for instance, but would never buy jeans from them. Know what really needs to last, and invest in those items. So: undershirts, go for the cheap-o Hanes, but for a dress shirt, go Gant Rugger, Brooks Brothers, etc.

The other thing I would say, and this is perhaps not so hygenic-sounding – don’t clean your clothes as often. Suiting only needs to be dry cleaned once a season, and jeans can go many (many) wearings without being washed. If you don’t put your wardrobe through the spin cycle as often, they should last a bit longer.

Got a question for me? Leave it here, or email me at megan (at) stylegirlfriend (dot) com!