I'm out here in Japan taking the first-ever two-week vacation in my life, and having a great time. I've been incredibly impressed with the beautiful scenery of Nagano's nearby mountains, Tokyo's fashion and Japan's rail system. All of this traveling and stylewatching has got me thinking back to something I did at the end of 2011 that I would like to share a bit more broadly as we start 2012.
Over the past year, especially since I started Sneak Attack then writing for HuffPo, friends of mine have asked me for style tips and shopping advice. Since I live in Austin, it was natural for me to start there, but I plan to expand this to the other cities I frequent, with even more international focus in the coming year. Until then, get started with what I have below.
Locally, you should be able to get most everything at Stag and Service on South Congress. Other stores I also recommend are Bows + Arrows on Lamar (across from P. Terrys, next to Coffee Bean, Tea Leaf), Estilo on 2nd Street (if you're on the metro side), Barney's at the Domain (if you have the coins saved) and Co-Star on South Congress (Maya Star, the women's shop's new sibling). Online, you should sign up for alerts from Park & Bond and Jack Threads. You'll get great deals from both.
The essentials - You have to start here if you ever want to fancy yourself GQ material.
2-3 pair of high-quality jeans. Start with Levi's (avg. price $45-60) and go up to Naked & Famous (Service Menswear, avg. price $130) and Baldwin Denim (Stag, avg. price $220).
- Get at least two different washes. One should be good with a t-shirt (lighter denim) and one should be better with a button-down (darker, thicker denim).
http://us.levi.com/home/ - I stick to 501 with straight or slim fit, but recommend you spend 30 minutes trying several on until you know your perfect fit.
2 classic white and/or black shirts (one button down, one t-shirt). Start with American Apparel and Zara or J.Crew (avg. prices $20 and $60/$80, respectively) and go up to Rag & Bone (Barney's Domain (or online), avg. price $80 and $175) and AllSaints ($60 and $130).
-The next step would be to do the same in grey.
2 black jackets. Start with a lighter one. Something you'd wear in the rain when it's chilly out. Urban Outfitters will have good options under $120. Then, and if you really want to make an investment, get a thicker jacket, perhaps bomber style or double breasted. I'd recommend spending a little more and getting a nice one from G-Star or Rag & Bone or All Saints. They all make the best stuff in black.
1 pair of black slacks. Start with Urban Outfitters (avg. price $55) and go up to Life After Denim (Stag, avg. price $100).
-The next step would be to do the same in khaki and navy.
1 watch. Either sporty or dressy. Preferably a little of both.
http://www.rumbatime.com/ (avg. price $60)
http://www.swatch.com/ (the Levi's of watches)
1 pair of non-sneaker shoes. Wear these with jeans.
http://www.oliberte.com/ (avg. price $165)
http://www.bedstu.com/ (avg. price $60)
The well-dressed man - You'll get compliments from women and men, alike, when you hit this level.
2 graphic tees. Get one sports-themed one from No Mas and one designer tee from Das Monk. (avg. prices $30-$60). We Are the Process is another brand you should be on the lookout for, especially if you're in the South, into sports or love streetwear.
2 patterned button downs. The best bets are Taylor & Stitch (they'll be at Style X) and Riviera Clothing.
3 pair of quality, stand out socks. Happy Socks and Richard James make good ones you can get at Service. Paul Smith makes the best in the world. They're like $40 a piece.
2 ties. One solid. One patterned. The best bets here are The Hill-Side (Stag) or David Hart (more expensive, stylish) and Urban Outfitters (for cheaper ones).
1 quality laptop/back bag
http://www.shophex.com/ (avg. price $80)
1 quality wallet
http://www.jfold.com/ (avg. price $100)
http://www.comme-des-garcons.com/ (at Barneys)
1 pair of quality leather boots.
http://shop.helmhandmade.com/ (avg. price $300)
1 pair of sneakers. Nikes
In Austin, there's Nice Kicks or Complete Clothing to choose from, but I'd rather buy them with you on a trip to LA or SF or NY where the best shops are. $100.
1 pair of eyeglasses/sunglasses
1 jacket for outdoors. Carhartt and Penfield are the best bets. Carhartt is less cool, but cheaper.
1 quality hoodie
The Style-Savvy Man - You'll be someone other guys come to for tips when you're at this level.
1 favorite place to shop in Chicago, San Francisco, London, Paris and New York
http://www.brooklynindustries.com/ - They have stores in NY and Chicago
http://www.saturdaysnyc.com/ - Manhattan
LA - Both Paul Smith or Penguin have big stores
http://thecommonsf.com/ - San Fran
http://www.aubinandwills.com/en-gb/home - London
http://www.colette.fr/ - Paris
1 aspirational brand/designer (super expensive, but well worth it), maybe pick from these. These are brands that you treat yourself to when you celebrate something major or get a big bonus.
APC - http://usonline.apc.fr/ (French gentleman)
Adam Kimmel - http://www.adamkimmel.com/ (American gentleman)
Barbour's Steve McQueen Collection - http://www.barbour.com/ (men's badassness)
Bespoken Clothiers - http://www.bespokenclothiers.com/ (London gentleman)
Band of Outsiders - http://www.bandofoutsiders.com/ (hipster luxury)
Billy Reid - http://www.billyreid.com/ (sophisticated)
Y3 Adidas - http://www.y-3.com/ (casual luxury)