Archive for the ‘The Smartorialist’ Category

The smARTORIALIST: Kingdom Comme [pt.1]

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Rei Kawakubo

Let’s face it, Luxury brands aren’t for everyone — by design. Whether it’s the cost, the availability, or the product construct, luxury labels present a huge barrier-to-entry. However, Comme des Garcons has been slowly transforming into what we call, the Luxe-Hybrid — an entity that straddles the fence between fashion elitism and common trend.

Rei Kawakubo has been known for her avant garde style, infusing deconstruction concepts, asymmetry, and monochromatic colour treatments into garments for years. And up until recently — these looks were merely…looks: ensembles so impractical or unattainable that “fiscally-challenged” trendsetters could only use the pictures for inspiration. Between 1969 and 2009 — Rei & Co. had a change of heart…or something like it (Let’s just name that the Junya Watanabe Effect — we’ll come back to this).

Somewhere along the line, Comme embraced “the collaboration”. They have brought the labels’ high-end style concepts to several of the industry’s reputable yet more “practical” brands — strategically placing Comme des Garcons within the grasp of  cult followers. And in my humble smartorialistic opinion, therein marks the definitive luxe-hybrid turning point. In this 4 part smARTORIALIST series , we will discuss Kindom Comme: the key choices that Comme des Garcons has made to sustain it’s luxury-edge while gently floating down to Earth (or somewhere near it’s atmosphere). Stay tuned.


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March 18, 2009 at 3:07 pm

The smARTORIALIST: Flood Warnings

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A style savant once told me, A man’s ankles should only be seen by an athletic trainer — that is all. Well, our good friend Mr. Thom Browne clearly thinks otherwise (as do I). As GQ Mag’s Designer of the Year (2009), his signature “high-water” look has become suprisingly….dapper. However, I felt it was necessary to lay out some lightweight “boundaries”, because  quite frankly, some of the attempts end up as follies.

Good Execution.

Good Execution.

Utter FOLLY.

Utter FOLLY.

This “Flood” look goes best with NO SOCKS. As far as shoes are concerned, your best bets are simple sneakers (Jack Purcell’s, oxfords, topsiders), boat/deck shoes (Sperry), or good ‘ol church goin’ hard bottoms (sans clunkiness).

Proper Execution.

Proper Execution.

Complete FOLLY.

Complete FOLLY.

Now, the trousers themselves should be slimming slacks — not denim. Here’s the magic trick: The bottom of the pant leg–cuffed or uncuffed– should fall just shy OF THE SHOE (not the ankle). That way, when you walk or sit, you maintain just the right amount of ankle exposure.


Except for Thom Browne (arms folded)...FOLLIES, FOLLIES, FOLLIES!

Except for Thom Browne (arms folded)...FOLLIES, FOLLIES, FOLLIES!

**Please tread these unfriendly waters with extreme caution.  I would hate to catch you out of pocket, looking like a clamdigger fresh from the sea.

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January 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm

The smARTORIALIST: Gifts for Her

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Fellas, we all know that shopping for an Urban Graduette is a task that Ethan Hunt wouldn’t want to come anywhere near. You have sooo many variables to think about — and most of all, you never want to disappoint. Well, u|T|ø is here to help. But first, let’s lay down the ground rules for sh[e]opping.

1. NEVER buy her a pair of shoes. (My grandma always told me, “She’ll walk right on out your life”)

2. KNOW HER SIZE! If you don’t — get the smallest size you can find.

3. ASK for opinions from other women. (Hell, THEY are who she is trying to impress….not you)

4. JEWELRY = Explanation. (If it shines, sparkles, or glistens in the moonlight, be sure to have a solid paragraph memorized to explain your reasoning)

Now, with that out the way, here are some Go-To product lines that will appeal to the Urban Graduette. Remember, it’s not all about the “BIG LABELS” — it’s about the thought and the significance.

Janelle Ford Handbags – Exclusivity at it’s Finest, this designer uses a range of materials (ostrich?!) to hand make high-quality bags; $$ – $$$


Philosophy Cosmetics – Think…Bath and Body Works, SQUARED. It’s more of a lifestyle brand, and it demonstrates attention to her details; $ – $$


The Picnica Tote – A tote bag that comes from the innards of a bunny. I know it sounds harsh and very anti-PETA but just look at the pics; $ – $$

Picnica reusable shopping totes

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December 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm

The smARTORIALIST: The Ultimate Gift for Him

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It is rare that I endorse a particular object. I’m usually a fan of learning through observation, and then refining to one’s particular taste. However, TODAY, I’m going to step outside of my comfort zone and suggest that every guy acquire one specific book this holiday season — Esquire’s The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good.


This book is going to provide some key information about men’s wardrobing that can be used for years and years. Materials, cuts, outerwear, basic essentials, accessories……The Works — all the information you need to develop or preserve your style are inside it.

With that said, LADIES…if you need a gift idea….Ding, Ding. This is one of those gifts that will show A) you care about his appearance, B) you’re thoughtful, and C) you are really knowledgable about random things. Please be sure to put your order in quickly, because this item WILL sell out (release date isn’t until January 6, 2009).

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December 9, 2008 at 2:31 pm

The smARTORIALIST: Like An Onion

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This is why Fall is my favorite season…LAYERING. Layering clothing is one of those intricate sciences of fashion. If done well, one can look like a million bucks and have people wondering if they should be taking a picture with you. If it’s done wrong then you can look uncomfortable, a mess, and worst of all…hot. There is no possible way that you can look cool if you are constantly trying not to exert any energy. There are a lot of great examples of layering all over the internet.








Here are some tips on the all important art of layering:

1. Make sure that you start with a thin layer (oxford dress shirt, a nice v-neck, etc). You still want to be able to get down to this layer and be comfortable if it heats up unexpectedly.

2. Next, step it up in thickness.  You may want to try a thin cardigan, a sweater, or a vest.  Great Fall colors are navy, black, browns, and grays. But at this point in the process, you can add a little color if you choose to. I would recommend rich colors. For example instead of purple, try a wine colored knit of some sort.

3. Don’t forget the accessories…ties and scarves.

4. Now here is where it gets thick; literally. Slap on the outerwear, a peacoat, trench, chunky knit shawl collar cardigan, leather jacket, etc. I know it sounds like you would just be coming up with the same look, but that’s why I posted those pictures first.

5. Remember, layering doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear a jacket; AND layering is for casual dress. Hopefully you won’t crash and burn like Eddie Murphy’s last three to four movies. Enjoy.

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November 22, 2008 at 3:49 am

The smARTORIALIST: Master the \Un/derstatement

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If your attire was a conversation….the Overstatement would be the obvious, eye-catching piece, i.e. a bright scarf, an eccentric tie, colorful yet non-coordinated shoes, etc. The Statement would be the framework of the entire ensemble….i.e. the top, bottom, outerwear, and the overall fit of these garments. Finally, the subtle element you add to a piece or pieces would be known as, the Understatement.

The Understatement takes years to perfect, and often is the most overlooked facet of style. Why? — because it is rarely noticed, usually an uncalculated expense, and rarely gets complimented on. But, the irony is that, if done properly, the Understatement will become the centerpiece of a well-constructed outfit. Here are some examples of The Understatement:

1. Jewelry :: Cufflinks, Watches, and Rings – Get the UNDERSIDE engraved with either initials or a special message.


2. Jackets/Blazers :: Buttons! Adding different buttons can revitalize a piece. Select based upon textures, colors, and sizes to embellish a garment.


3. Shoes :: Mens – Toe and Heel Taps will save the life of your shoes; Womens – get the heels replaced and the toe shape reformed by a cobbler.


4. Fragrance :: Mix your own! There are certain places you can go to create your OWN unique ratio of scent to alcohol


Other unique understatements include: incorporating true vintage pieces (i.e. grandmother’s scarves or grandfather’s handkerchief), a naturally-worn leather carryall (the kind that has just enough discoloration to add a whole new dimension to it), or installing “linings” to garments (blazers with colorful or cashmere linings, heels with velvet at the heel, or cap with satin interior all do the trick). Get started while you’re young, because the Understatement doesnt arrive overnight — it takes time to master humility in style.

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November 14, 2008 at 9:38 pm

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The smARTORIALIST: Ms. Reese

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I just wanted to put the spotlight on a person who is doing their thing in fashion industry, and has been for some time now.  Not ONLY is this person holding it down but they are becoming a powerhouse in the fashion industry because their use of “unusual textures and colors, often with a touch of vintage* has captured the attention and the money of many high-profile celebs such as Beyonce KnowlesEva Longoria and Tyra Banks.  What makes this person more than just another successful fashion designer is that they are one of the industry’s most successful AFRICAN-AMERICAN female designers.  This is a very great achievement in an industry where african-american representation, as far as designers and models, leaves a lot to be desired…

Pastel Garden Dress

…In an industry where most of the recognized black fashion designers were already celebrities before their lines were released, it is refreshing to see someone who uses their ingenuity and creativity to sell their designs and not their celebrity status.  No offense to the entertainers turned fashionistas (or maybe it’s fashionISTOS for the males…), but TRACY REESE is the TRUTH like the murder of a lie.  However Urban Graduettes I understand that not everybody has runway money; so Ms. Reese also offers a more affordable line geared at the younger crowd called Plenty sold at Anthropologie stores which are  also in cahoots with Urban Outfitters.

Raven Print DressSequin Rose Top

I had to put this  raven feather-print  shift dress up here because I’m just  digging the print.  I  don’t know why but  it reminds me of  some  Edgar  Allan  Poe surrealist type  garment.  I could  see it in like a Tim  Burton  movie or  something.  AND I know that you can’t tell from the pic on the right but the whole top is sequins.  That floral pattern is pretty intricate.  BUT that is  neither here nor there, the purpose of this post was to bring awareness.  So  until next time…stay informed.  THANK YOU MISS REESE.

* (above quote courtesy of http://www.answers.com/topic/tracy-reese)

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September 22, 2008 at 9:55 pm