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.
1. THE SHIRT
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.
Price: “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.”
Buttons: “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.”
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.”
2. THE WATCH
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.”
Style: “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.
Band: 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.”
For more expert tips on wearing the most fashionable accessories head to the next page…
3. 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.”
Function: “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.”
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.”
4. STATEMENT SHOELACES
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 (thespectacled.com), 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.”
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!”
6. FLORAL PRINTS
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, philipsparks.com).
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