Wednesday, 25 July 2012

5. Shirt buying guide - Part 2: Business Shirt

Welcome back, I've missed you.

Continuing on from last week's post, I bring you part two - the business shirt.

First and foremost, the primary difference between the casual and business shirt is the function. The main difference is found in the colour, patterns and detailing.

To recap from last week's post, the key factors for buying a shirt are:

- fit
- fabric
- colour, pattern and
- detail

Fit - the most important factor of all. Different brands will have different measurements, so it's important to try them on. The absolute key here is that the shirt fits neatly. It should hug your curves and should not bunch up and fold over itself around the torso. Most shirts will come in one of three styles, Classic, Euro and Slim:

'Classic' has little consideration for fit and is baggy as anything and horrible. Unless you're Jabba the Hutt, avoid 'Classic' style shirts at all costs.

'Euro' style shirts are an improvement. The sleeves and body are a bit narrower. Unless you have a gut, the bottom of the shirt will bunch up and overlap and it'll look messy. This style of shirt suits the bigger gents. It can also be labelled as 'tailored'

'Slim' fit shirts are your best option. They are cut to closely follow the shape of your body. In respect to the function, this style of shirt best suits the requirement. Try to avoid anything overly tight as well. 

Colour and pattern - Also an important factor. The colour and pattern of the shirt dictates its tone, and as a result the suitability for its purpose. For example, a bright yellow shirt with pink dots all over it wouldn't go down well at a funeral.

As a general rule for colour: opt for softer, lighter shades. They're easy to match. Baby blue, pink and lilac are good starters.  Avoid fugly colours like brown, grey and lime green. In fact, avoid darker colours altogether. I refer to these as 'Lowes' colours. See below:

If you're new to business shirts, keep it simple and stick with checks,stripes or no pattern. Make sure you avoid big and bold stripes/checks.  Instead go for smaller, more subtle stripes and smaller checks. It's understated and tasteful.

To combine both of the above, if you are going to wear a striped or checkered shirt, there can only be white and one other colour. If you have a striped shirt with black and blue, it will look more casual than business/formal. On the other hand, blue and white stripes will accomplish this. All you'll need is a latte and a Blackberry and the look will be complete.

Unideal - the crowding of colours can be confusing

Detail - this is more of a miscellaneous category.

Sleeves - French cuff (cuff links) vs. button cuff. French cuffs have a bit more prestige about them, but it shouldn't be the deciding factor when buying a shirt. If you do have cufflinks in, please don't wear novelty cufflinks. It's on par with wearing a Flinstones tie.* Be normal and express your eccentricities by talking about them rather than wearing something no one will notice.

Pockets - If you take nothing else from this post, please take this: business shirts should never have more than one pocketTwo pockets automatically qualifies it as a casual shirt. The general trend is no pocket, but one pocket is ok.

Fabric - these shirts will come in two fabric variants. 100% cotton or a polyester/cotton blend. The latter will usually come under some label like 'easy care' or 'no iron'. Polycotton blend doesn't breathe as well as cotton and subjectively, I find it less comfortable.  To speak its praises though, polycotton shirts last for years and years.

I feel like I could write on and on, but I think the basic point has been conveyed. Make sure it fits well, choose lighter colours with understated styling, and is 100% cotton .

I have an unusual body shape with broad shoulders and a skinny waist (modest too), so shirt shopping is a nightmare. With some patience, you'll find a label you like and stick with it. To get you on your way, some personal favourites of mine are:

- Nigel Lincoln (extremely comfortable)
- Jeff Banks Slim Fit (reasonably priced)
- Marcs (decent fabric)
- Herringbone (nice fabric, but overpriced)
- Rhodes & Beckett (nice prints)
- Oxford (super cheap when they're on sale)

Check in next week, I'll be posting a super easy recipe - as I had plenty of fans of the Naked Burrito.


*At an old job of mine, there was a candidate interviewed where he wore a tie covered in little anarchy symbols (the 'A' with a circle around it) on a black shirt. Guess who didn't show up the following Monday?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

4. Shirt buying guide - Part 1: Casual Shirt


Being men we either wear button up shirts or t shirts. There's not much room for variation. This is why it's so important to get it right. Today's post will be the first of a three part series, the other two being on the business shirt and smart casual shirt.

The casual shirt is the kind you'd wear for non-formal functions (birthday of a relative, BBQ etc), lunch date, house parties, movies, bars with easy-going dress policies. You have to make sure that the shirt matches the occasion. If done properly, you can stand out from the crowd in a subtle and tasteful way.

The fit should be relaxed but relatively fitted to your body. Here's some tips related to fit:

- Back: stick your arms in front of you. There should be a bit of resistance, if there is none, the shirt is probably too big.
- Chest: stand straight, pull the shirt all the way down. If the shirt is gaping while you're relaxed, it's too tight.
- Sleeves: with your hands by your sides, the sleeve should end neatly at your wrist. No shit.
- Shoulder: the top of the sleeve should start where your collarbone meets your shoulder

The fabric should be soft and durable. Get a feel for it. If it feels a bit thick, smooth and soft you're headed in the right direction. Yes, this is still about fabric. Opt for 100% cotton and try to avoid anything with polyester.

The colour is up to you, as different skin tones match different colours. Since it is casual, colour is welcome, if not essential. Too many people wear black/grey and blend in. Try to go for colours that are a little 'dull'. Avoid bright pinks/aqua/any other travesty from YD. Also, avoid heavily branded shirts. Let the shirt do the talking for you, not the brand.

In my days as a TAFE student, my typical outfit would be a black t-shirt with some graphic on it, blue jeans and checkered Vans. After a while, I noticed that all my tops were black. I made a rule for myself that I would wear more colour. It forced me a bit out of my comfort zone, but I got used to it. Remember: WEAR MORE COLOUR!

Granted, I didn't learn very much at TAFE.

As far as patterns go, avoid stripes. Vertical stripes create a more formal/business look. I'm partial to tartan and checks. See below for some examples.

Once you have your shirt, there'll be two ways you can your shirt, open and closed. If the shirt is closed, leave the top two buttons undone. While closed, don't wear an undershirt that is visible, it will look horribleThis would leave the other option of having the shirt open, with a t shirt underneath.

If you're going to do this, make sure that the t-shirt is plain. The shirt will already have a pattern, so if there is a graphic or a design on the t-shirt it will make your outfit look too busy. See below:

Doing my best C3PO impersonation*

You can play it safe and wear a white tee, which will work most of the time. If possible, try and compliment the tee with the shirt, like below.

Fundamentally, you're wearing a t shirt, button up and trousers. But with some consideration for fit and simple colour matching, all of a sudden you stand out from the crowd.

If you're going to roll up your sleeves, make sure you actually roll them up nice and neatly - don't just push them up. It's ideal that your sleeves should end at the top of your elbows. Anything past your elbow is the equivalent of three-quarter pants. Unless you're in a Limp Bizkit film clip, this is a bad thing. On the other hand, if you roll up your sleeves too far up, you look like a try-hard trying to accommodate for your small arms.

Try these brands/stores for casual shirts:

- Marcs
- Ben Sherman (their fits are a little funny though)
- Country Road
- French Connection
- Mooks (if you can find anything)
- Freshjive, reluctantly. Though Freshjive is big on branding, their shirts have nice slimming cuts.

Check back next Wednesday for Part 2 - The Business Shirt.


* Also, did you see the bulge? It's an air freshener can - promise.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

3. Recipe: Naked burrito

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have resolved that I will update this blog weekly on a Wednesday, to establish some kind of regularity.

I'm currently writing a two part shirt buying guide, which I was planning to have ready by tonight. However, video games and exercise got in the way. I offer instead, a quick and easy guide on how to cook one of my staple foods - the naked burrito. Today's rendition will be a more basic version.

First things first, naked burrito is simply a burrito without the tortilla. I first saw it at Mad Mex years and years ago. You should be making this regularly for the following reasons:

1) Quick - 10 minutes to make
2) Cheap - costs $10 for ingredients
3) Healthy - low carb, high protein
4) Neverendingly tasty - I've eaten this nearly every week for 18 months, still not over it
5) Versatile - you can add/remove ingredients to your liking (more on this later)
6) Good reheat value - you can microwave it and it still tastes good


500g lean minced beef
1 packet burrito seasoning (or just add paprika/garlic powder/cumin)
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
Bunch of coriander, chopped
1 teaspoon/clove crushed garlic

*Optional: avocado, chilli flakes, cheese, sour cream, capsicum, kidney beans, cashews

Little did the mince know how delicious it would become


1. Gently heat a tablespoon of oil in a hot pan.
2. Add 2/3 of the onion and garlic, and cook it until it's soft and golden. The secret is to cook it slowly, if the heat is too high, you'll burn the garlic and no one will like you.

The onion on the other hand, totally knew

3. Once the onion and garlic is giving off mad vibes/aromas, throw all of the mince in and increase the heat to medium/high. Using a wooden spoon, break the mince up and stir it constantly.

4. When it's all brown and cooked, add the burrito seasoning and give it a good stir around. This would also be a good time to add beans/nuts. Any time before this might result in the beans getting mushy and making the meat sloppy and gross.

5. The finished result should look like the below. If it doesn't, you did it wrong. Call Pizza Hut and try again in a few days.

6. Combine the rest of the onion, tomato and coriander in a bowl. Congratulations, you have made a salsa. Ooooh, and add some Tabasco, but only a bit - no one likes a hero.

7. Layer the dish as per the following: meat, cheese, salsa (and sour cream after that). See below:

And there you have it, a simple yet healthy and delicious meal that you'll be happy to take to work tomorrow. Chances are you'll eat it before lunch time since it's so damn good!**


**Let me expand on that. One time at primary school, mum packed me spaghetti for lunch and I was looking forward to it so much that I tried to have it at recess. I was standing in the canteen line parading my tupperware with spaghetti waiting to get it heated up. Out of nowhere, a soccerball flies straight into my hand and spaghetti went everywhere. I got in trouble and had to clean it up.  (why did I take the lid off?!)

Friday, 6 July 2012

2. What earns the title 'well dressed'?


I feel like I jumped the gun with the previous article, I was just too eager to get this off the ground. I posted the first idea I had on my notepad.

Today's lesson will address the question:

"What earns a man the title of well dressed?"

The answer is simple, and is another question in itself: How well are you dressed to suit the occasion? In order to be considered well dressed, it's essential that your outfit matches its intended purpose. Being stylish or well dressed doesn't mean wearing expensive suits all the time. When dressing up, you need to identify which is more important - comfort or functionality?

Let's take three common outfits of the modern man into consideration:

a) Gym/workout gear
b) Businesswear
c) A night on the town

a) Gym: Being an avid gym-goer, I see my fair share of losers who treat gym visits as fashion parades. The worst part is that males are solely responsible. Girls can stick to their overpriced t-shirts with cheesy motivational quotes (i.e. Lorna Jane "JUST TRY AND STOP ME!").

I have seen males actually go to the gym  in jeans, polo shirts and button up shirts. Needless to say, this is considered a bad gym outfit, as jeans do not meet the functional requirements of exercise.

DO: Singlet, shorts, trainers
DON'T: Baseball caps/snapbacks, jeans, collared tops, leather shoes

b) Businesswear: This is an interesting one, as comfort and functionality are both important factors for this outfit. Make sure you have the basics: shirt, trousers, leather shoes and belt.* It doesn't matter if you don't need one to hold your trousers up, you still need to wear a belt. When meeting clients face-to-face, ties are essential.

If your clothes are too loose and relaxed, you will be a faceless nobody who will be associated with the IT department. If your clothes are too small, you'll be the office diva who takes coffee orders and answers phones. The desired effect of effective workplace attire is conveying that you know how to dress properly and can hold your own. Subtlety is key.

DO: Collared shirt, tailored trousers, black shoes and belt.
DON'T: Over-the-top 'fashion' pieces, shirts with two or more pockets and epaulets, 'schoolboy' tie knots, hoodies, anything with bold branding, white socks

c) A night on the town: Here we have a polar opposite to gym. A collared shirt is essential - you don't want to be that guy who is stopping a group from going into a nice place because you're under dressed. Don't wear skate shoes or trainers. Desert boots are a great alternative. Try to avoid trendy colours like burgundy, as they will become outdated quickly. Brown is a good, safe option. 

Try to avoid showboating brands that you are wearing. Wearing overly branded clothes shows that you aren't confident in what you're wearing and that you rely on widely known brands instead of quality design. G-Star is a perfect example of this. Don't rely on one good piece in your wardrobe to carry your entire outfit.

DO: Fitted collared shirt, sports coat/blazer, desert boots, indigo/dark blue denim, tailored trousers, coat
DON'T:  Light blue denim, t shirt, trainers/runners/skate shoes, torn or ripped clothing, hoodies, white socks,

Note that these are just examples, but the core message is there. Make sure what you're wearing matches what you're doing. Would you mow the lawn in a suit or an old band t shirt?


* A suit and tie is always preferred, but shirt/trousers/leather shoes as a bare minimum. I plan on writing a suit buying guide soon

Thursday, 5 July 2012

1. Belts and shoes


Today's lesson is about belts and shoes. The focus will be on their relationship together and how they shape the overall look of any outfit. Note that the golden rule for belts and shoes - the colour must match.

Take a look at the classic 't shirt and jeans' outfit:

Besides my fat arse and horrible photo arrangement, you'll note that there's one that looks better than the other. This is because by matching the belt and shoes, consistency follows. The black belt and shoes help 'frame' the jeans and create harmony. It's less colour to take in and tells the viewer that the shoes and belt are working together.

On the right, you'll see a blue belt with black shoes and the same jeans which are too tight for me. It doesn't work on the basis that the colours don't match. You've got a solid black at the bottom, and then a light blue at the top. They don't have a relationship with each other, so it doesn't work. 

This leads me to my next point, which is optional - the material of the belt and shoes should also match. For example, it wouldn't make sense for a pair of Chucks to be matched with a leather belt. Here's why: rougher materials tend to have a more casual look, while leather is generally smarter/more formal. By mixing casual shoes with a formal belt, you are creating a clash. Instead, opt for a fabric-based skateboarding style belt (you know, the one where you let it hang down from your belt in high school. Yeah, I did it too). 

Matching belts and shoes can be pretty challenging when you venture beyond black and white. It's very satisfying when you nail it. It took me years to find the blue belt pictured above to match a blue pair of Vans of mine.

So next time you leave the house, make sure your belt and shoes match - it's the foundation for every good outfit.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012



I've never really been one to sound eloquent or intellectual, but people say I have a way with words. As you'd most likely know, I'm a pretty vocal person. You'll know that with me, it's not really what I say, so much as how I say it.

Anyway,  I've started a blog. I know you don't care why, but I'll tell you anyway (and because I wanted to get at least one post up before I go to bed). I'll try keep it short and sweet:

1. Men these days dress terribly. We live in a very visual society. The first judgement that is passed on us is the one of how we look. You would think more highly of a man dressed in a well fitting suit than a man in a singlet and a pair of stubbies.

2. My own amusement. I love expressing myself and this will simply be a means of doing that. I tend to rant a lot. I'd like to think of this as a form of..controlled and organised ranting.

The content will be accessible and practical. It won't be focussed on the latest trends, but rather classic looks which will never get old. I'm also thinking of incorporating some cooking related posts as well. 

Tomorrow is a rest day from the gym, so a post is likely to go up tomorrow. I'll tweak the layout and stuff too.

Until then..