Spectacles, Sun or Snow

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It’s sunglass season, believe it or not, and the more snow, the more you need them, especially if you have skiing in your vacation or weekend plans. Of course sunglasses are a necessity in the winter sun or the summer, and not just to be stylish——all scientific evidence shows that protecting the retina from the sun’s rays is crucial to long term eye health. (Squinting, after all, may be easy but it’s bad for your wrinkles.)

There are literally hundreds of sunglass makes——from cheap disposals to designer brands to even custom-made pairs using vintage tortoise shells. But there’s something about the classic styles: simple shapes that won’t ever go out of style, however, that stand out from the crowd. (Think French Nouvelle Vague.) And like most objects we carry or wear, quality may not (or should not) be seen, but is definitely felt.
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These pairs, equally at home as reading glasses or prescription spectacles and equally becoming for men or women, are hand made in France——a dying industry in this age of mass produced Asian goods——and are of the highest quality short of bespoke. From the hinges to the weight and balance, and ultimately feel of the glasses, there is no finer pair on the market. A collaboration between HoM and Cremieux, the French designer and retailer, the limited edition glasses, in three colors, are available in our General Store through special order. Get them now, or else be ready for wrinkle cream.

Belt up

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As someone who only wears belts with sports clothes, i.e. jeans or khakis, I take the common belt rather seriously. And as someone who is fond of premium leather, hand crafted goods, and unique items of clothing, it’s always important to discover that great piece that will remain in one’s closet for decades. Belts that are not worn with suits should be made of a thick, durable leather—English bridle leather or horsehide—and have buckles that will stand out but not be too fanciful.

Marcus Wiley of Wiley Brothers Belts, based in Virginia, makes beautiful belts and buckles—the buckles are locally cast while the leather comes from England—and the understated yet substantial belt is unique enough to stand out from the standard variety one might pick up at a street stall or, if crazy enough, for a fortune at a boutique. Plus, the bridle leather will age to a wonderful patina, and unless used for extracurricular activities I won’t mention here, will also last long enough to hand down to your son. Or daughter.

The Wiley belt pairs perfectly with jeans, but also with khakis and a Harris Tweed jacket (this one is J. Crew). The scarf, in case you’re wondering, is what Iranians call a “longue’—used for washing cars, or as a wrap when going to traditional gymnasiums or to a public bath. It costs about a buck.

Glove You

Glove You

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Early autumn is the time to contemplate cooler weather accessories, and practical but elegant gloves—often ignored and thought of as nothing but functional—are really as important as that favorite scarf or hat you’re dragging out of the closet. Especially in these bike-sharing and riding days in big cities.

While a good pair of peccary gloves—expensive as they might be— complete a winter outfit, for more energetic activity, let’s say, a pair of driving gloves are equally important staples of the fall and winter closet. Not the traditional driving gloves, mind you—the ones with holes at the knuckles—which if you wear them doing anything but driving a Ferrari or Aston make one look rather foolish, but a pair that resemble regular gloves but end at the wrist.

Whether riding a bicycle or motorcycle, driving a car or even just walking down the street, these gloves—crocheted on the outside of the hand and with a soft leather palm (and fingers)— allow one to still check the timepiece on one’s wrist, get a good grip on handlebars, and, of course, easily whip them off to check that damn message on one’s phone. Designed by Bradley Price, who also designs some fine timepieces in his Brooklyn workshop, Autodromo, wearing them means there’s no danger in looking anything but stylish.

Have Stuff, Will Accessorize

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A generation or two ago, men were unburdened by stuff they needed to carry around all day, even if they weren’t going to and from work. The briefcase fulfilled that obligation (although I never understood why men who had no intention of working through the evening; rather, were going to have a couple of martinis and pass out on the couch, bothered to lug papers to and from the office every day), but otherwise a wallet and keys were all a man needed. Unless, of course, he smoked, but a lighter and a pack of Camels fit nicely in any pocket.

Today, we have smartphones, the chargers or extra batteries that one inevitably needs for them, a laptop or tablet on occasion—even for a visit to the coffee shop, it seems—plus the wallet, keys, and perhaps an e-cigarette or two, if not the real kind. Whether for work or play, it’s probably not a great idea to through a laptop into a bag or briefcase completely unprotected, but many of the cases—neoprene, plastic, and even leather—are either too ugly, fancy, or impractical. I’ve always like the simple sleeve—it makes the laptop appear less hi-tech—and is no different from carrying what we used to call document cases. Alone, it’s easy to carry under one arm, and in a bag, offers enough protection from the inevitable drops or stray kicks under the table. There are plenty of sleeves to choose from, but this one from The Leather Shop is beautifully made (in the U.S.), is not as expensive as some high-end designer cases, and is understated enough to match the simple elegance of Apple products. Think hi-tech meets low-tech, but in a good way.

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The Leather Shop also makes some impressive bags, and the yellow leather tote, useful for carrying a man’s stuff plus a few groceries, or at least the baguette that won’t fit in your briefcase (hey, you’re either looking out for the environment, or you live in Portand), is particularly stylish. It might be preferable to be able to walk the streets unburdened, but we all need something to carry all our stuff (apologies to George Carlin), at least sometimes.

Happy Camping!

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August is vacation time in Europe, and many in the U.S. also take advantage of slow work weeks, the hot weather, and their kids’ free time to hit the road. These days of easy air travel (well, easy except for overbooked flights, monstrous lines at security, and inevitable multi-hour delays) means fewer people actually hit any road at all, except for the highway to and from an airport, of course.

In days past, the family vacation in a station wagon, or perhaps even in an RV or with a trailer, was de rigueur for many middle class Americans (and some Europeans too), and the ne plus ultra of campers and trailers was the Airstream.

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An icon of early and mid-20th Century style, they exist today; often refurbished with the latest technology and furnishings. Objects of beauty, they can be seen in the occasional driveway, on a highway or a beach, but in large numbers at the Burning Man festival, where they have competed, aesthetically, with their owners’ looks and outfits. Or naked bodies, in too many instances.

So, A Bike Walks Into a Bar…



There’s something about motorcycles that appeals to men (and many women); perhaps it’s that man-and-his-horse thing that goes back centuries, if not millennia. After all, riding a bike is the closest thing to riding a horse, in rems of transportation, right down to the saddle sores.

A bike is also the last form of motorized transportation that can be truly bespoke, unlike automobiles, which started out that way until a certain Mr. Ford decided that what we really needed were off-the-rack vehicles. For those who can afford it, a bespoke suit, bespoke shirts, even bespoke shoes are the ultimate luxury. For those who can afford it and who still retain some rebel DNA, a bespoke bike is the not just the ultimate luxury, but the ultimate work of art, too.

There are a good number of motorcycle builders in the US and in Europe—people who do everything from modifying an existing bike (such as a Harley), to ground-up builds to a customer’s taste (and even size). One such man is Walt Siegl, whose bikes are painfully beautiful; painful as in you-don’t-want-to-ride-them-in-case-they-get-dirty painful. He works with vintage Ducati and Harley engines, and builds bikes around a completely rebuilt, every-part-new engine.

He manufactures the equivalent of “made to measure”, too (as well as true bespoke, which knows no bounds): a “standard” racer of his own design, pictured (at Achilles Heel), that is customizable. If I had one made, I might just want it for the living room. Or if I had a bar, inside, as sculpture. And, of course, to remind me and my patrons to not drink and drive.

Bicycles, All Grown Up


As more and more cities create bike lanes, provide bicycle parking, and discourage the use of four-wheeled transportation, the utilitarian bicycle has become, if not a necessity, a valuable possession few city-dwellers are willing to live without. And as with everything else in public life, style is as much about what you ride as it is about what you wear, or how you carry yourself.

There are thousands of options when it comes to bikes—everything from cheap Chinese-made, and yet quite stylish, rides, to vintage bikes, and to bespoke hand-made cruisers or racing models. I think a bicycle should be practical, elegant, and not cost as much as a car—not unless you’re riding one to win the Tour de France—and there are many choices of manufacturer building beautiful bikes here in the U.S. Budnitz is one such outfit: their bikes are simple, technologically advanced, and as beautiful as a bicycle can be. From the belt drive (which obviates the need for clips to keep oil off one’s trousers, in this case part of a rather nice linen blend J.Crew Ludlow suit) to the disc brakes, pedals that really grip regular shoes, and the light frame, this model, No. 3 Honey Edition, attracted my eye also for its classic styling, reminiscent of racers from a distant past. And the large, whitewall tires are particularly welcome on the uneven and perpetually pot-holed streets of NY.

Unlike the US auto industry, American bicycle manufacturers aren’t striving to build “the Cadillac” of bikes: they’re building the Bentleys, Aston Martins, and yes, the Packards of two-wheeled, human-powered transportation.

Sandal Scandal



Actually, the only ‘sandal scandal’ is wearing a pair with socks. Otherwise, except for leather flip flops, I’m a big fan of sandals, especially on summer weekends, and especially away from the sidewalks of a gritty city (with or without a linen suit). And in the gritty city of New York, there’s Barbara Shaum’s shop, in the East Village, where you can have a pair custom made.

Bespoke sandals may seem an extravagance, and perhaps they are, but when you can have a pair made exactly as you want them—with a perfect fit, no less—at the price of one the better designers’ models, why not? Barbara is a NY fixture, written about everywhere for her long career (over 50 years) making sandals, belts, or some other leather item you fancy, and her craftsmanship is as good as it gets. Yes, there are shops in Florence where you can have a nice pair made for you, and in parts of Africa bespoke is the only option (and a good one, at that), but if you’re in NY on hot day, I defy you to walk into Barbara’s shop on E. 4th Street and not walk out with an order.

THIS is a Bathroom

Shelter magazines are full of examples of beautiful bathrooms, and I’ll admit I have a soft spot for big tubs set in the middle of a room. A living room, in this case, although it is very much part of the bathroom in a converted tenement building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. A friend took over the whole apartment house, small by any standards, and lives on the top two floors. His idea for his bathroom—there’s a standalone shower, too—makes one want to take a soak while admiring the view of Manhattan, something he has, sadly, yet to encourage.

Nest

 We wouldn’t ordinarily comment on a product or item of clothing that has been extensively covered in the media, both for its practicality, usability, and style. Nest is to thermostats what Apple was (and still is) to computers— no surprise there, since the people behind it are former Apple executives— and the eyesore that is in every home has now been transformed into a thing of beauty. Installation is not complicated, but requires some electrical work which, in one case, resulted in blowing out the motor of one friend’s HVAC system. Which brings us to the reason Nest is here on this site: customer service; a thing of the past with so many once-great American companies. Not only did Nest send a technician at 10pm to see what could be done, but have taken full responsibility for any repair costs, despite the fact that they didn’t install the thermostat and despite the fact that it can’t be proven that their product was even responsible for the motor failure. And beyond that, the Nest executive who took charge of the issue left his number for the customer to call in case of any questions or concerns. His cell phone number.

The next generation thermostat: elegant and simple, controlled from anywhere with its own iPhone app. Backed by real people who give a damn. Buy one, or two, or three.

Electric Boogie

We know all about electric cars, the future of automobile transportation, but far less about electric motorcycles, which in big cities such as New York, are infinitely more practical. The Zero Motorcycle company makes two models– a large battery powered and a smaller battery powered– that have all the advantages of two wheeled transport and virtually none of the disadvantages. The smaller model, with a range of over 70 miles (the bigger battery range is over 100 miles), is not only stylish but is a bike you can ride to work or to play, as it, like Vespa scooters, has no shifter (thus saving the leather on your nice shoes), and is as easy to ride as a bicycle. The bike can be charged from a standard outlet, or from a 220V one for a fast charge– charging stations are springing up all over big cities although with the range, you probably will never need one outside of home.

This bike, The Zero ZF6, has been customized by carbon(-), a motorcycle, electric bicycle, and Vespa dealer in NY which is Zero’s exclusive distributer here. MSRP on the ZF6 is $11,495– expensive, I know, but not so much when you consider it’s made right here in the US, and a good wristwatch can cost more. The motorcycle is as quiet as a bicycle, a big plus for Hog-phobics but disconcerting to those who want to alert cars to their presence. Until they make an app for the sound of a engine, you might just have to do with silence or a very loud boom box on the rack. Zach Schieffelin, the owner of carbon(-), might just throw one in for you.