May 10, 2013

ELLE Man: Style control

By: Nyka Alexander

IMAXTREE Author: Elle Canada Credits: IMAXTREE

May 10, 2013

ELLE Man: Style control

By: Nyka Alexander

Unless you’re a college kid, you’ve probably outgrown cheap and cheerful. Here’s how to navigate the changing market—fast fashion going upscale, luxury brands going mass market—and make the right choices.


The expert: Richard Cristodero, merchandise manager at Brooks Brothers. He has been in the business since he was 16 years old and worked at a dry cleaner’s.

“Ask your dry cleaner—he’ll tell you that the best shirts are usually the most expensive ones.” (Sorry)

Fabric: It should be soft and have a lustre. Look for Supima, Egyptian or Sea Island cotton. They’re the best.” (Don’t be fooled by labels that claim “Egyption-cotton quality.” It’s not.)

Finishing: “Do the side seams match? If there’s a pocket on the shirt, does it also line up? Are the cuffs mirrored? It takes time to match up all these patterns, and it shows care. It’s like cooking: When you put quality ingredients in, it tastes better.”

“It’s important that the buttons are cross-stitched (it holds them to the shirt better) and not so flimsy that you could snap them in half yourself.”

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Care: “You have to talk to your shirt cleaner to see how high his irons are set—it could damage a shirt. If you have your shirts on regular rotation, they will last 50 watches on average.”


The expert: Noel McDonagh, manager of Movado Luxury, has been in the business for 26 years. His colleagues call him “the quality guru.”

Price: For a first serious watch, there’s no need to go above $1,500. “Once you get to $2,000 plus, it’s not a watch—it’s a piece of jewellery that happens to tell time.”

“Quartz is utilitarian; mechanical is ‘Look what I bought.’ It’s the difference between buying a basic car versus an exotic Italian one. Then again, it’s a trade-off between accuracy and owning something with a heartbeat.

Leather bands won’t last more than a year, regardless of price. (We’re looking at you, alligator.) “Canadians tend to choose metal bands. But remember: When you put a new leather strap on, the whole watch looks new, whereas a metal band gets scratched.”

Crystals: Look for a sapphire crystal; they are more scratch-resistant than tempered glass.”

Care: “People believe the more they spend on a watch, the less they have to maintain it. But just like a car, it needs a complete overhaul every five years.”

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For more expert tips on wearing the most fashionable accessories head to the next page...

quality-control-0002-revise.jpg3. THE BAG

The expert: Dexter Peart, who co-founded WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie, “an intelligent accessories brand that focuses on function and form.”

Price: “Whether you’re paying $300 or $3,000, look for a product that will last.”

Leather: “A fine leather will have a lot of body and feel natural (not like plastic). When it feels fake, it’s like an apple that has been sprayed; it’s not your fresh apple just picked from a tree.”

“Look inside to see if it has the right pockets. How will it protect your laptop, boarding pass or business cards? A lot of the bags out there are just shells—the engineering process is long and expensive.

Lining: “If you’re using a bag for toiletries or pens, you want to know it will be protected in the event of a spill. If it’s a computer bag, the lining should be light-weight and breathable to release heat.”

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Zippers: “A metal zipper will last longer and is more resistant to wear and tear than a plastic one. It’s almost like the motor in your car—the zipper has to be high quality for your bag to be high quality.”


David Barclay’s textile-empire family has been producing dress laces since 1915— “or, as my grandfather used to say, putting laces in boots through two world wars,” quips Barclay, who founded his next-gen lace company, Stolen Riches, in 2011. For spring, he cites “pop colours” as an essential trend. “By adding bright-coloured laces and a matching pocket square, you can wear the same suit you wear to business meetings to weddings and cocktail parties.”


Phil Birnbaum and Tim Chan, co-founders of The Spectacled (, give us the scoop on spring specs.

Top trends: “Matte, two-tone/ombré and combination frames.”

Must-know brands: “Oliver Peoples, Claire Goldsmith, MOSCOT.”

Save up for: “A pair of 0822 in Blue Turtle from Cutler and Gross—they’re thick East London aviators in a light-blue-tortoiseshell pattern.”

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Buy now: “Warby Parker, hands down. They create cool prescription glasses for $120, all of which are designed to match the current trends.”

Spec style icons: “Michael Caine never hid behind his frames. He made them a statement in every outfit. Plus, he was doing the chunky black frames long before hipsters!”


A full-on floral suit? Best left on the runway—or on Don Cherry. Try the trend on a smaller scale with a bow tie from Toronto designer Philip Sparks ($80,

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ELLE Man: Style control