Thursday, 19 December 2013

Details: The pocket square

Today I attended a product launch event at one of those hotels in downtown Kuala Lumpur. It was an event where a lot of people came dressed in suits and blazers. One important detail which everyone seems to have forgotten is the pocket square. Or the handkerchief that should reside in the jacket's breast pocket.
I had mine, but no one else seems to have remembered theirs. In a formal,  semi formal or business-like function one should pay extra attention to this detail. A matching tie would be nice if required.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Weekend Dress philosophy - Yes, you still need to dress up a little bit

The days in tropical Malaysia are usually hot and humid. It may rain cats and dogs every few days in most months but its still hot and humid most of the time with 27 degrees Celsius the coldest during the day with an average of 32-34degrees Celsius most of the time.

And on weekends, everyone dresses down. This is Yours Truly at the Pavillion Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur on a Sunday. Even here most are in slippers and shorts, sandals and jeans. I still chose ot wear a short sleeve batik shirt, cotton trousers (in the correct length) and a pair of Italian moccasin loafers (a comfortable pair that I've owned for over seven years and still going strong). Also note that in these parts, a Batik shirt is considered as part of formal wear. 

On other less formal locations like the neighbourhood mamak stall I still wear jeans and a polo t-shirt or a round necked tucked in. With shoes - boat shoes or moccasin loafers. No flipflops or sandals. 

Yes. Dress slightly better than others. Even on a Sunday.This is in case you need to be somewhere that requires you to be better dressed in a jiffy and you already are in a presentable state But I also suggest keeping things basic as you must realize that Malaysia is hot and humid. Do not over do things. A shirt, a pair of pants and a nice pair of shoes would actually do just fine.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Made to order Triple monk straps

Ala Bontoni. Since I prefer buying shoes that I can see and Italy isn't on my 'to visit list' in the near, near future I decided to commission a triple monk strap shoe from the same people that I had a wholecut made sometime ago.

The leather as always is whatever they had. Good enough I say.

The shoes look decadent. Gold buckles add to the richness....and excessiveness. If you're ordering a pair of shoes it should be a bit mad. You only live once.

Monday, 9 September 2013

A little antiquing and patina for monday mornings

In order to chase away some monday blues a little patina and antiquing helps. Santoni fatte a mano for the win.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Adding colour to one's shoe collection

Once you've completed your basic shoe collection with the required black and brown captoe balmorals and the more casual derby/blucher pairs of shoes and a few loafers in both black and brown as well as the occasional pair of burgundy/maroon pair of shoes, one can then indulge in adding some variety and colour to one's shoe collection. 

As you can see, I've added a pair of spectators from Loake, blue suede tassel loafers from Fratelli Rossetti, grey suede longwings and on a lesser note, the orangey derby from Sutor Mantellassi. One can also add more designs instead of just colour to a collection. Fringe or tasseled loafers, horsebit loafers, fringed derby shoes, etc. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The tale of two wholecut shoes

Wholecut shoes are something that I have a soft spot for. It comes in strongly behind my desire for double monk straps. Of course I do not rush out and buy every nice pair I see as that would be unhealthy. Anyway, wholecut shoes are shoes that are constructed using a single piece of leather for the uppers and only the tongue is a separate piece of leather. The great thing about wholecuts is that it shows off the shoes and the leather itself and not any fancy patterns or cuts. In terms for use in formal situations a plaintoe balmoral or even a captoe balmoral is more formal than these. But there is a simple elegance to them and I do believe that one could wear a black pair to a formal event without much fuss. Anyway........

The two pairs shown are quite unique in my opinion. The one to the left is the one I commissioned from a shop right here in Kuala Lumpur. It is bespoke as my feet were measured for its fit. It has been mentioned in an earlier posting and to answer a reader's question on its durability it is doing fine. I have been wearing them at least once in every three weeks and it is fine. The usage of the very very traditional nail construction instead of the usual sewn or glued method seems to have no detriment at the moment with the exception of the stiffness of its sole. It takes awhile longer than usual to break in. So aside from the leather quality I am extremely pleased with this pair made especially for me. Bespoke can be very affordable in these parts of the world.

The pair to the right and pictured above of it is an Italian wholecut marked as Jobson's. It has been with me for about twelve years and gets used about once every two months or so. This pair is in one of those that sits on  a wider than usual shoe rotation of mine. The leather feels good after all these years and takes up a decent shine even with not much work put into it. The best. Thing about decade old shoes that have regular maintenance is that there is a beautiful natural patina built into it due to years of polishing. It still looks marvelous and should last for years. It has only gotten a new vibram heel and is still on its original sole. 

Rotation does wonders to longevity of shoes.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Mild WInter Wear..with some edge to it.

I was in Perth, Western Australia last month and it was winter Down Under. Note that the Southern Hemisphere is opposite of up north, I.e winter is summer, summer is winter etc.

Now in sunny, humid Malaysia I am actually not fond of wearing jackets, blazers or any outer garment whether at work or for casual wear. This is because work does not require me to be in a formal business environment and I spend a lot of time outside of the office. Furthermore, the temperatures of over thirty-two degrees Celsius does not warrant the use of jackets outdoors. Even the Royal navy formal wear during the day is relegated to a white shirt,pants and a shash around the waist, ala the Royal Navy's Red Sea dress code for special functions in the hot Middle East. 

So a mild winter does not warrant anything more than a shirt, t-shirt under a blazer or a jacket for casual wear. This is Yours Truly in a cotton linen unlined jacket (slightly chilly at times but if you do some layering with the shirts you have, it works well)  a polo tee, cotton pants and a fedora hat (to keep one's head warm in around fifteen degrees Celsius) at Fremantle, after an overdose of fish n chips. And brown rubber soled brogues in case it gets wet. Oh, with a matching belt too. Ignore the huge bronze watch if you think it's are a personal thing in my opinion. And I wasn't going to any formal events whilst on holiday.

Oh yes. Not many people wear a proper hat these days. Even over in Perth. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Proper 'Function Shoes' And How to Dress it up even further

What you see in the picture above is a pair of Loake Lifestyle Patent Leather plain toe balmorals (or oxfords). I bought this pair at PLAL's sometime last year to replace the pair of plain toe black calf leather shoes that were my official function shoes (see the photo below - Batik shirt, black trousers, red shoelaces - I wanted to add more colour down below).

The shoes are by Loake and from the Lifestyle series. It is patent leather and like most 'function shoes' are glued or stuck on in manufacture. This is so that the wearer cuts a slim (even if he is chubby) and elegant profile. Now I could have gotten a pair of Church's or some other higher priced brand, but this is a function shoe and a function shoe is usually made out of shiny, glossy patent leather. Patent leather is usually leather that has been treated (or painted) until is glossy and shines. It is plasticky and one does not need to pay a heap of cash for such a shoe. Hence, a Loake would suffice.

Now if you look at the photograph properly you will notice that the shoe laces have been changed from the usual stringy laces to silk ribbon laces. This is what one should do to your 'black tie' event shoes as it takes you one step closer to those patent leather pumps which usually come with a bow on top (which actually look like a pair of shoes that wouldn't look out of place if your wife wore them) but one that wouldn't make those who aren't willing to go that extra step. The ribbon laces makes the shoe even more dressier and more suited to formal occasions. No. Not girly. Trust me.

Actually, in this region, this would be considered as extreme as most men end up wearing the same shoes they go to work with for the dinner functions.

This is now the pair of shoes that I will wear to those dinner functions. I actually do not attend many functions as I am no socialite or party goer. But a gentleman should be prepared when such an event may arise.

So many shoes, only two feet

 (Top, Left - Right - Campanile 4 eyelet blucher, Salvatore Ferragamo L.Originale Fringe Monk Straps, Morandi 4 eyelet blucher. Bottom, Left-Right Loake Lifestyle Patent Leather plain toe balmoral, StefanoBi Brogue, Kulitkraf Black Brogue)

I haven't worn these yet.

The Seiko "Fifty Five Fathoms"

Before I carry on, I have to state that the Fifty Five Fathoms isn't an actual Seiko model. This watch is actually a Seiko 5 100m Sports 'diver' model SNZH57/55/53K1 (the 57,55, 53 is actually the watch with either a black, blue or some other color dial, hands and bezel combination). The Fifty Five Fathoms moniker is derived from the fact that it looks like a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms diver's watch. The SNZH comes with a 23 jewel non-hackable, i.e non-winding, automatic movement with a see-through case back so that you can admire the cheap, unadorned, unfinished movement. Hey, it isn't a RM36,000 original Blancpain. So what do you expect.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Shoes for Casual Friday and an Argument for Glued Shoes

It’s a Friday and it’s the end of the work-week. In those days it did not make much of a difference when it came to work attire. People still dressed up like they usually do with their normal office attire; here in Malaysia usually a pair of dark coloured trousers and a light coloured long sleeved shirt. The shoes, which is something that most Malaysians do not care a whole lot about are the usual pair of black slip-ons or if they are not lazy, a pair of laceups made by Bata and shoes of the similar kind.

Since the 1990s however things have suddenly changed throughout the world. With the advent of companies like Microsoft, Apple and other technological based companies which were started and run by college grads (or dropouts) things became more casual. And casual Fridays were invented so that employees could feel less stuffy and more at ease in their work surroundings.

I too have casual Fridays. But while my work environment allows me to dress casually every day of the week I choose to wear ‘business-like’ most of the time. Even down to the shoes. Which may be dark brown, chocolate brown or chestnut brown laceups, monk straps, double monk straps or tasseled loafers at the very least. Except on Fridays.

Casual Fridays is when I do wear an even more relaxed pair of leather shoes. This means one that shoes that have a more relaxed air to it. One that shoes more ankle and a plain upper devoid of any decoration. I usually choose a pair of penny loafers (in brown/burgundy/tan) or this pair of Venetian loafers. Black is a very formal colour which I refuse to wear with the exception for funerals and formal functions. Of course, the young gentlemen beside me, a musician by profession, can afford an even more casual Friday by wearing a pair of converse basketball shoes.

This pair of Italian made loafers that I chose to wear today are from an Italian shoe company called Morandi. This Italian brand has been sold in and around Malaysia over the past few decades as I have seen them being sold since the late 1990s in Kuala Lumpur and you can still get this brand at the Tangs Departmental Store in One Utama.

Anyway, back to this pair of Morandi Venetian loafers. These are normal loafers with stick on or glues soles that have been with me for a good 12 years or so. The sole has been changed once a few years ago and it still looks good.  The leather uppers are still in great condition with no visible cracks and tears.

It boils down to regular care and maintenance. And shoe rotation. Those that argue that stick on soles for shoes do not last do not have enough pairs of shoes to go around. Okay. I have to admit that I am a bad example as I have many, many pairs of shoes to go around. You may have problems if you only have three pairs.

So there you have it. Casual Fridays allows me to dress down, but not dress badly. And glued shoes? I haven’t any problems with that too


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