Of all the markets that have been happening around the city of Porto, one of the most praised is, without a doubt, Spot’s Flea Market. Originally held at Maus Hábitos, one of the hippest clubs in downtown Porto, this market invites everyone to scavenge their attics and storerooms in search of long lost treasures and sell or trade them. Flea’s motto is: “one man’s garbage is another man’s gold”, and rightfully so since you’re sure to find something of interest in one of the many item packed sellers’ displays. The whole event is much more about the social experience, having a nice time and getting to know people, than it is about making money (especially since Portuguese people haven’t got into the concept of vintage yet). As such, despite the reluctance of the attending audience to actually purchase something, you’re assured a well spent afternoon.
The last edition in particular (which took place last Saturday), was held outdoors on the precinct of Edifício Transparente, a seaside building known for its restaurants, cafes and sport related stores and activities. The underlying theme for this edition was Surf, but people were welcome to bring all sorts of items, which I did. The whole surf vibe gave the event a unique feel, which emphasized by the sounds played by invited DJs and drinks from the outdoor bar, built the setting for a perfect time. To spice things up a bit, there was a demo of tarp surfing, courtesy of my friends over at Janga Revolt: check the videos on the next post!
There are always great findings to be had at Flea so keep an eye out for the next edition. Until then, here are some pics of the last one:
I’ve got to admit that I have a thing for leather jackets. I don’t know if it’s the feel of the leather itself or the whole “bad boy” conotation, but the truth is I fancy them. A trim fitting leather jacket, (running one size smaller to give it that sleek appearance) is a great alternative to have in your closet. However, I must say I prefer vintage leather as it has that worn-in, distressed look and has lost that overly bright sheen, trademark of brand new pieces (I’m aware that many of you might think I’ve lost it right now). The thing about vintage is that more often than not you’ll fall in love with pieces which are either too big or too small, leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. If the jacket’s too small there’s not much you can do, but if it runs a tad big, there are a few alterations you can have done at your tailor (talk to him to know which). As I’m always on the look for a “new” vintage leather jacket, I was excited to hear that one of my favourite stores was shooting a D.Y.I. (do it yourself) guide for shortening sleeves of so called jackets. The guys over at Por Vocação spent a whole day processing the alterations on one of their items and photographed the whole thing for our delight. I would advise against trying this by yourself on a new leather jacket (by the way they have some great ones instore), but if you score a vintage one at a ridiculous price it might be worth the test. Here’s the whole process with pics and captions, courtesy of Por Vocação:
The original jacket.
Measuring the new sleeve length.
Getting rid of the seams.
Unstitching the zipper.
Open sleeve and zipper on the side.
Cutting the lining after careful measuring.
Reattaching the lining back to the cuff.
Checking the seams’ resistance.
Marking and cutting the leather.
A preview of the final look.
Checking stiches’ size and distance on the reverse side.
On this entry of the “Size and Fit” series I’ll focus on one of the most iconic and essential pieces on any wardrobe (women’s and men’s alike). Denim has been around for ever and has been continuously evolving to adapt to fashion’s standards and trends. To quickly sum up its history and give you a tour of its endeavours up until now, here are some dates to remind:
- 1600: Production of the first jean-like pants designed for the Italian Navy (even then italians were trendsetters);
- 1870: Levi Strauss presents his first pair of jeans to the market;
- 1970: Bell-bottoms become a staple of the hippie culture;
- 1980: Calvin Klein introduces the concept of designer denim;
- 1990: Hip hop culture leads the way to baggy, oversized jeans;
- 2000: Return to the classic original shape. The market’s flooded with jeans in all kinds of washes and cuts.
There’s so much to denim that you’ll be able find encyclopedias on the subject, thoroughly examinining every little aspect of this timeless piece. Without getting into much detail, I do believe a brief explanation of the different cuts and terms is in order:
- Bootcut: described as a jean with a tappered leg up to the knee, that slightly widens to accommodate a boot;
-Relaxed/Loose Fit: these wide fitting jeans are quite loose on the leg and sport larger and longer back pockets. They are associated with a casual look and do not flatter your body shape in any way;
(Levi’s Engineered Jeans - I have to thank my friend Miguel for digging these out of his closet and letting me take some pics).
- Straight cut: the jean’s leg width is the same all the way up to the ankle. This is the most classic cut of all;
The straight cut: notice the extra fabric which allows for a comfortable feel and constant leg width. Jacket by Lacoste, crewneck tee by Levi’s, jeans by Osklen and loafers by Lottusse.
- Slim Fit: a fitted version of the straight cut, which adapts to your leg and defines your silhouette. These are the most up to date option on this list;
My favourite pair: v-neck sweater by DKNY, crewneck tee by Levi’s, belt by Purificacion Garcia, jeans by Levi’s (511 slim), loafers by Lottusse, watch by Rolex (GMT Master II) and sunglasses by Rayban (New Wayfarer).
- Skinny: once the prized outfit of 80’s rock stars, this skin tight model made of a combination of cotton and elastane has experienced a noticeable comeback in recent years, mostly thanks to Swedish brands such as Cheap Monday;
A skinny alternative: shirt by Osklen, belt by Gap, jeans by Levi’s (519 skinny) and plimsoles by Paul Smith.
Simply put, the ones you should be aiming for are the straight leg and slim fit models, with a marked preference for the latter. Why? Because they are the most versatile and timeless of the whole bunch: you’ll be able to dress them up or down according to the situation.
Finding the perfect pair of jeans may be a wearisome task that requires you to spend considerable time going from one store to the next, while trying on different models and choosing which fits best. So, it’s all the more satisfying to finish your nerve-wrecking quest knowing which model of which brand is your match (for me it’s the Levi’s 511 slim, as you’ve noticed by now). Once you do, stick to it: for variety get the same model in a different wash or fabric and you’re all set.
When you’re out shopping, a rule of thumb for jeans is: the simpler the better - avoid over the top designs (extremely low crotch, twisted seams, etc.), too many pockets or zippers and especially embroided embellishments (not even women should wear these). Opt for classic cuts in darker colors as they look more sophisticated and avoid acid washes and factory aged/ripped jeans. After all one of the greatest pleasures for a denim lover is to be able to achieve the perfectly worn-in pair (try wearing the same ones for 6 months in a row).
A final word of advice is to take your newly adquired denim to the tailor: you’ll notice how most options available at stores are either too long on your legs or too loose on your waist. It’s rare to find a pair that fits impeccably on both places so just have them hemmed or “taken in” accordingly to ensure a perfect fit.
Enjoy your shopping and keep an eye out for upcoming posts!
Last week marked the end of New York Fashion Week. Post-show, the editors, buyers and bloggers went to work to define and list the trends, hoping we’ll follow along. But for many of us, the sheer shirts of Spring ‘11 were are about as realistic for our wardrobes as a meat dress. Instead, we looked outside of Lincoln Center at the street style of individuals, hoping to find the inspiration to zig when everyone else is zagging. This week’s post celebrates the path less … followed, with counterpoints on everything from current trends to blogger compensation and competition.
I have a very strong connection to my place…it’s where I can get away from the drudgery of the everyday life and let my mind drift away to whatever makes me click at a particular moment. I love arriving home on a harsh, cold winter day when it’s pouring outside and just seat back and relax, especially if surrounded by a bunch of my closest friends…I love having people over to dinner parties and movie nights, as much as I praise some time alone to enjoy my haven…So, it’s only natural that I try to make it the cosiest, most comfortable and enjoyable, whilst reflecting my (and my girlfriend’s) personal taste. One of the things that makes all the difference and I most often notice missing from my friends’ (especially the bachelors) homes is flowers or plants. Making your house “greener” is not only achieved by installing the latest and most efficient appliances or lightbulbs; make room for a couple of plants and you’ll see the difference instantly, it adds personality and a whole new life to the room.
One of the most beautiful additions you can have is definitely a Bonsai. These trees exude mysticism and give a unique feel to wherever you place them. I’ve always been a sucker for them, so I was blown away when last weekend (while strolling around Miguel Bombarda St. during the monthly events) I got a chance to visit Arbole Bonsai. The company’s showroom is located in CCB (Bombarda’s Shopping Center), and it will make you feel 100% zen…Besides gazing at the amazing Bonsai trees, you’ll be able to sit back and relax next to a fountain (another one of their products) while enjoying the placid environment they’ve put together. Afterwards, you’ll face the daunting task of deciding which one to bring home with you as they’re all stunning. Remember that a Bonsai is no ordinary tree (nor is its price tag) and needs attention and commitment; however, when you learn to take care of it properly it can be very therapeutic and relaxing; if you’re too lazy, just take your tree to Arbole and they’ll take good care of it. They also offer a variety of services and activities aimed at companies and people of all ages, all of which are listed on their website. Visit their showroom and bring home a piece of nature!
In the last couple of years we’ve been experiencing a comeback of all things sartorial. Tailors and the whole bespoking/made to measure concept have become popular once again (kudos for those who have always embraced it), as have some forgotten trends and accessories. One such accessory is the bow tie: this piece of neckwear is easily one of the most overlooked and underrated when it comes to menswear. Putting my love for it aside, I must admit that the bow tie is not for the faint of heart. When you wear one, you walk around with more than a simple item; you carry all its historical and social background. The origins of the bow tie are uncertain, dating back to original appearance of the Cravat worn by Croatian Soldiers in the 17th century, as a means to fasten their shirts. Later on, it was introduced to the French upper classes and became a mainstream fashion item during the 18th and 19th centuries, mainly worn by successful men and dandies. As such, the bow tie may come across as affected or even arrogant, a way to show that you are above other peers and don’t really care about what they think; on the other hand, some may find you ridiculous, childish or eccentric. So, as you see, pulling it off is no easy task…
I do agree with one aspect of those perceptions which is not to give much importance to third parties’ opinions: you like it? want to wear it? Then by all means do. The thing is, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, that an individual sense of style may clash with social conventions as we live in a society, so bear in mind that you are prone to disapproving looks and remarks. Ignoring them however, is easier said than done, especially if you live in fashion-repressed cities (it’s definitely easier to sport a bow tie in Milan or NYC than anywhere in Portugal).
That being said, I fully encourage you to wear one if you fancy it and here are a few tips to make it easier to pull off:
- Break it down: since the bow tie alone will make you all put together, I would advise against “over dressing”. Give it a more relaxed feel by pairing it with casual pieces, like slim fitting jeans, loafers or sneakers and an oxford shirt;
Casual done right - boat shoes, rolled up jeans, white shirt, patterned bow and a yellow rain slicker (photo from Unabashedly Prep).
- Pattern: for starters, try to find a balance between the shirt and the bow. If you decide to go with a striped or checked shirt, choose a solid colored bow and vice versa, pair patterned bows with solid shirts. “Advanced users” can have fun by trying to mix different patterns;
Above: 1- keeping it simple: white shirt by Paul Smith + checked bow tie from Coisas d’Homem; 2 - taking it up a notch: striped shirt with contrasting collar and patterned bow tie (photo from Pierrepont Hicks).
- Fabric: satin bow ties are more formal than their cotton/wool counterparts. The latter are easier to pair with your everyday attire;
Above: Cotton gives it a more relaxed feel - both items from Coisas d’Homem.
- Confidence: is key to make the whole look work. You’re wearing an iconic Go to Hell item, so why not embrace the attitude? (more on Go to Hell in a future post);
One other thing to consider is the type of bow tie: clip on or self tie? Real prepsters and bow aficionados will tell you that there is no option but the self tie version: this is true to some extent as it will enable you to add a personal touch and nonchalance to the knot. For beginners, the clip on is much more practical and has been supported recently by designers such as Band of Outsiders’ Scott Sternberg. If you go for the self tie version, expect a steep learning curve while getting the hang of how to tie it, but to make things easier here’s a video from David Hart:
As temperature starts to drop, the need for warmer garments arises leading you to go hunting for your stored winter clothes. The thing is, these first days of Fall aren’t cold enough for those heavy jackets or cable knit sweaters, nor hot enough to go out with just a shirt or polo on. Thus you need to find something in between and that’s where the vest comes in…
This is one of the most versatile pieces you can add to your collection as it will provide comfort in this mild weather and later on you can simply use it as a layering piece under a topcoat, peacoat or trench. Now, I’m not talking about the traditional old man saggy safari jacket (which can be pulled off if done properly and if you have it tailored), but an upgraded version of the item. You can find them in all sort of colors, lengths and materials, depending on the use you’re planning on giving it. Usually, quilted/stuffed vests are meant to be wore as outerwear and are a bit longer than models that resemble vests found in three-piece suits, which make for better layering alternatives and can still keep you warm (I’m on the look for one in tweed). Here are some options to take into account:
As Summer draws to an end (and coincidently so does my parfum), I’ve been feeling an urge to upgrade my fresh citrus fragance (Burberrys) to something more adequate for the cold and gloomy months ahead. For Fall and Winter my choice lies upon an essence of sturdier character and “body”, incorporating hints of tobacco, wood, liqueur and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, etc.), giving it a warmer feel to face the harsh Winter days. Even if I haven’t decided which one to adquire yet, one thing I know for sure: I want something unique, a one of a kind aroma that will allow me to differ from the rest of the pack (how many times a night do you smell Davidoff when going out?).
When looking for the holy grail of fragances you are presented with a variety of options:
- Opt for natural fragances found at herbal boutiques, which are 100% natural and made from fruit and roots essences (figg, bergamot…);
- Try handmade essences usually associated with cultural ethnic backgrounds, the likes of those found at Bazaars or souks in Morocco or India;
- Look for boutiques specialized in body fragances and colognes, sure to provide you with alternative quality products at affordable prices;
- Splurge - high end brands offer exquisite fragances at exclusive boutiques, some of which are mixed and blended at the time of purchase. This kind of exclusivity can cost somewhere between 200€ and 500€;
The trick is finding something you feel like it’s a part of you and endowes you with a sense of well being, comfort and confidence. A man’s scent is one of his most personal traits and should reflect his identity, thus being chosen by him alone (that’s one of the reasons I restrain for offering parfums as gifts and seldomly use those offered to me). To emphasize this personal side of fragances, the same parfum may have a slightly different odor when used by different men, as skin properties have an influence.
I’ve found a few options that may be great alternatives to the mainstream products sold at body and beauty shops such as Sephora and that won’t leave you on the verge of bankruptcy (I haven’t tried them all yet though):
Comme des Garçons Wonderwood at Por Vocação(Madagascan pepper, bergamot, Somalian incense, nutmeg, Cristalon, Cashmeran, guaiac wood, cedarwood, caraway seeds, Javanol, sandalwood, vetiver, oud).
Diptyque Eau Duelle at Por Vocação(A narrow escapade between gentleness and character, feminity and virility, white vanilla and black frankincense).
Calé Fraganze D’Autore at Wrong Weather(Olfactory family: Musky Citrus; Head notes: Grapefruit, Lemon, Rum; Middle notes: Acacia, Magnolia, Note of Pinã Colada; Bottom notes: Vetiver, White Musk, Green Tea).
D.R. Harris Marlborough Cologne at Wrong Weather(a subtle blend of woods including cedar and sandalwood).
Cedar Eau de Parfum at L’occitane(Head Notes: Grapefruit, Wood sap; Heart Notes: Cumin, Tobacco leaves; Base Notes: Cedar, Tonka Bean).
Thé Bergamote at L’occitane(Black tea leaves, bergamot, mandarin and grapefruit light up the sparkling nature of bergamot, heightened by a dash of cardamom, while the woody notes prolong the intensity of tea, creating an original trail of scent that is rich in contrasts).
Tom Ford Tuscan Leather at Harrods (Saffron, Raspberry and Thyme open to Olibanum and Night Blooming Jasmine. Leather, Black suede and Amberwood add an intricate richness).
On the first post I covered buffing and all the elements that should comprise an adequate shoe care kit. Truth be told, buffing will keep your shoes looking like a million bucks but it isn’t enough to prolong their lifetime. Like the rest of your body, feet also release moisture and sweat throughout the day, which is ultimately absorved by the leather in your shoes. Eventually some of that moisture evaporates, but not entirely, leaving your footwear wrinkled and off their original shape. Last but not the least, retained moisture is responsible for smelly shoes as it leads to the appearance of sweat-eating bacteria.
As you can imagine, the current trend of going sockless just makes it all worse, since there is no fabric between your skin and the leather to absorb the sweat. Thus, you need to know how to tackle this issue. I’ve heard about all kinds of tricks to eliminate moisture: the traditional baby powder (more appropriate for sneakers), shoe deodorant sprays and even placing them in the freezer (the cold kills the bacteria). Sneakers aside, the best solution available for your leather kicks is Cedar Shoe Trees: these wooden accessories are shaped like a foot and come in a variety of models and size/width combinations. I recommend you go for the split-toe model as it adapts better to the shape of the shoe than the standard model. You are sure to find several brands, but Woodlore has been pointed as the place to go as they have been providing all kinds of cedar made products for your wardrobe since 1987 (take a look at their hangers).
The result is amazing…the moment you place them into the shoe you’ll immediately notice how it stretches to assume the original position, completely wrinkle-free. Also the aromatic cedar will fully absorb the moisture and leave a fresh fragance. This will enable your footwear to look perfect and stay healthy throughout their (extended) lifetime. For best results avoid wearing the same pair of shoes many days in a row, rotate your wearing and leave them to rest with the shoe trees in.
This may very well be some of the best 30€ you’ll ever spend. Give it a try!
I’ve been overwhelmed by the quality of the submissions and I hope you’ll enjoy reading these as much as I have. This week the issue of workwear is tackled whether as a fashion blogger you’re heading to Fashion Week or you’re not sure how to translate your everyday style to the office. The latter is a dilemma I’m often confronted with when dressing for work. Through the links I have also gleefully discovered some wonderful designers to dreamily sigh over the work of; these garments would most definitely fit into my wardrobe perfectly, be it in the smart section or the purely frivolous one.
A La Modest Reintroducing the morality within green ethical fashion
Bachman’s Sparrow What better way to greet the new season than a beautiful, one-of-a-kind statement necklace?
I’m always on the look for interesting brands or stores able to provide quality items marked by great construction and fit. On my never-ending quest, I come across several brands which I share with all of you: many of them are considered luxury labels, but price and reputation alone do not assure quality. Learning how to spot those features in every item you try on is key, as it enables you to find the best value for your money.
One of the things I’ve been enjoying the most since I started this blog, is to wander the streets of downtown Porto, carefully looking for local stores. The findings are outstanding as the city is famous for its tailors and fabric stores. So it comes to no surprise that several brands and manufacturers are choosing to open business here.
One of my latest findings was Atelier des Createurs, a semi-industrial tailoring/bespoking establishment, located in Rua José Falcão in the city centre. A project of two entrepeneurs (one French, the other Spanish), this amazing three-storey building is the workplace of several local craftsmen and women (seamstresses, tailors, etc.). The sheer scale and beauty of the architecture (an amazing work of rehabilitation) will make your jaw drop. The building is organized as follows:
- Ground Floor: as soon as you enter a massive stairway greets you; a door on the right gives access to the fabric storeroom, staff facilities and the “cutting room” where computer controlled machinery applies the desired cut for each of the nearly 200 pieces that go into making a suit. A once handmade process is now optimized through the use of technology, but still requires the art of skilled artisans on occasion;
- First Floor: here you’ll find the administration offices and an amazing room with around 40 professionals fully committed to providing top notch suits, through a sequential manufacturing process;
- Second Floor: a room entirely dedicated to suit pants awaits you, along with the area where finishing touches are added: hand sewn buttons and steaming and pressing of suits;
- Top Floor: this floor houses the showroom where you’ll be able to see all available fabrics for your suit, as well as a few finished models to give you an idea of what to expect. Also, you can try on the so called “canvas” which are pre-finished models (with all the seams and stitched parts), aimed at giving you a sense of fit and size. One of the things that absolutely blew me away was their collection of antique books and magazines, the likes of Adam Chemisier and Esquire, dating as old as 1940. Next to the showroom lies a fitting room and a private space where clients can try on their suits and express their opinion to tailors, in order to have them altered accordingly;
The whole establishment transpires professionalism and after trying their “canvas” and getting a feel of some final products, I can attest to their quality: they’ve got themselves a new client. An average price tag of 600€ seems appropriate when talking about a fully customized bespoke suit, especially when compared to other options out there. I’m a sucker for the art of bespoking and strongly recommend you give it a try. Drop by their atelier and check their blog here!
The ground floor: fabric storeroom, cutting room and staff lounge.
The sewing room on the first floor.
Second Floor: the areas dedicated to suit pants and steaming.
Top floor: the showroom, book collection, the “canvas” suit jackets and a few fabric samples.
Apple has become the go to company when it comes to dishing out products that get everyone drooling about. Be it the Ipod, Iphone, desktop or laptop computers, the truth is the exceptional design combined with easy to use functionality, justifies the hype surrounding all their products. It is common to spot people on the street listening to their Ipods, going on and about their daily tasks hopefully made more bearable by whatever tune is playing.
Recently, Apple introduced the IPAD to the market and despite the mixed reviews, it has become the ultimate electronic gadjet to purchase. Professional and personal use aside, I have to admit it looks damn good and makes for a great addition to any outfit. If you have been checking street fashion photos by The Sartorialist or Tommy Ton, you know what I’m talking about (Milanese men have incorporated it in their attire). Its influence on current fashion has reach such status that many high end brands wanted in on the IPADmania and are now offering several accessories, mainly cases. More than protecting your investment, these cases are aimed at providing it with an unique look and most of them go way beyond your average plastic case. Offers range from canvas and fine wool, to tweed and even exquisite leathers such as crocodile or ostridge.
If you happen to have an extra 1000€ sitting around (for the IPAD + acessories, more if you consider a nice case), and are into gadjets, by all means grab one, dress up and sport it proudly!
For the past week I’ve been listening to Cee-Lo Green’s fantastic send-off, F@#* You, and little else. At the same time I’ve been reading a lot of the hand-wringing in the press about bloggers and whatever are we going to do about them, along with our responses both here and on our blogs. And the two have combined in my head to form a single determination - bloggers need more swagger. I don’t mean anger, of the you-don’t-respect-us variety, or apologetics, of the we-are-as-legitimate-as-other-media variety. I mean swagger, the kind of swagger that comes from doing something well and knowing you’re good at it. So whatever other themes might knit together this week’s links, they all share that important characteristic - swagger. Step up to the plate, knock it out of the park.
For the last year or so, I’ve been experiencing a growing passion for high quality handcrafted men’s shoes. I have always been passionate about my footwear, even when I was younger and my repertoire consisted mainly of sneakers and high tops. I still keep and sport them on occasion, but as my personal style mutated and evolved into what it is today, I’m more and more drawn to proper leather shoes of all sorts. I believe this love for shoes was set off by the very first (exquisite) pair I bought: dark brown oxfords by Sir Paul Smith (what a leap from Adidas sneakers).
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, shoes are an investment that can last you for decades if properly taken cared, a worthy investment according to “fashion math” since the expensive price tag will pay for itself considering the amount of times you’ll wear them in 10 or so years (plus what you save by not having to buy other pairs). Driven by a habit of maintaining my belongings in mint condition (I do it with everything, not just clothes) and the fact that my shoe collection is becoming somewhat respectable, I decided to invest in a shoe care kit. Well, mine isn’t actually a kit, I purchased each item separately and built my own, but you can find them ready to use in a variety of places. The basic components you should look for are:
- Shoe Horn (doesn’t care for your shoes, but a necessity nonetheless);
- Wax/Shoe Lotion (the essential)
- Application Brushes (to properly apply the wax/lotion)
- Horsehair Buffing Brushes (to make them shine)
- Suede Brush (specially designed for suede shoes)
- Small brush to clean the dirt that accumulates in the edge of the sole (an old toothbrush will do the trick)
On top of these you should add newspaper. This is crucial not to make a mess of your house; you don’t want shoe wax on your floor, carpet, sofa, etc. Before the whole process, make sure to spread the paper sheets across the floor to prepare a bedding for your buffed shoes. Instead of explaining step by step, I’ll leave it to the fine gents over at Allen Edmonds to show you how to do it:
You should face shoe polishing as a relaxing ritual: I do it once a week while watching my favourite shows on TV. Give it a try!