Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama's composure almost Zen-like

What's cooler than cool? Ice cold!
-- Outkast

Wednesday night's third and final presidential debate between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama at Hofstra University revealed a contrast not just in policies but in something even more fundamental -- demeanor.

From the outset, McCain came out as the aggressor and pressing Obama for answers about ties with former '60s radical William Ayers. Obama remained steady and calm, almost boring; McCain also had calm moments, but was visibly more emotional during the debate.

Many an analyst can tell you which candidate won the debate, though I came across an CNN analysis from the San Diego Tribune's Ruben Navarette as quite insightful from a style standpoint.

The following day, McCain and Obama attended the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York. Both candidates showed their lighter sides here, and I must say that McCain had the better comedic material. While there's little room for levity during the heat of a presidential campaign, it is refreshing to see how the candidates conduct themselves in different environments, from debating one day to self-deprecating the next.

These are Style Points where I give both candidates credit.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Will the economy take some air out of sales?

First, the bad news: The stock market has dropped as well, credit has tightened, and there's uncertainty about how the recently passed bailout package will benefit Americans.

The good news: Gas prices have dropped.

Which means that getting to where the sales are at retail stores and factory outlets is a lot easier than in recent months. However, there's still a bit of uncertainty about what's affordable.

Do not fret. Retailers are gearing up for the holidays and you can win big, especially at the factory outlets, now through Christmas.

Canvas Houston Premium Outlets and Katy Mills for deals on men's and women's wear, with increased discounts from store to store. But don't take my word for it.

The sale is out there.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Style Points elevates to Examiner level

A head's up on the style profiling front ...

I will be joining covering men's style for the Houston area. Looking forward to writing more about the city scene on menswear.

Also, in the October issue of Houston Modern Luxury magazine, scroll over to Page 58 for my profile on Norton Ditto's celebration of its centennial this year.

More stories will be coming in HML's Men's Book later later this month.

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Magnificent Mile highlights

The shopping scene on a famed stretch of Michigan Avenue in Chicago ranks up there with Fifth Avenue in New York or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

The Magnificent Mile might as well be the roll call for major retailers: Brooks Brothers, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue. If you were in the market for a new wardrobe, you need not walk far to get it done. If you have cash, be strong enough to carry.

And of course, where there is upscale retail, the bargain hunting hotbeds aren't far behind. A few blocks west of the Michigan Avenue is State Street, where the likes of Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Filene's Basement and the former Marshall Fields (now Macy's) are located. In fact, I very nearly bought a pair of Ecco's at Nordstrom Rack for half price, but had to catch a hotel shuttle to the airport.

The only drawback to shopping in Chicago is its 10.25 percent sales tax. However, if you are an out-of-towner, some stores can ship your goods to your house for a $15 shipping fee, which could be less than the sales tax on your purchases in the store.

If you venture outside of downtown Chicago and take the Brown Line north to Armitage Street, you'll find the Ralph Lauren Rugby store, which offers cool preppy attire. I purchased a vest and a pair of striped socks, which do not fall down. The store even sells leather and rubber rugby balls. Down the street on Armitage is Kiehl's, where I picked up a bottle of pre-shave oil. The service is most friendly at both establishments. I'll likely return to this street on my next visit.

Chicago style starts with Oxxford

With Hurricane Ike behind us in the Houston area and the fall season settling in, I took a trip to the Windy City ... that wonderful town ... none other than Chicago. I had not been to CHI in more than 10 years, but its charm remains intact.

On a warm, breezy September day, I was invited to tour the esteemed site of Oxxford Clothes on 1220 Van Buren, where it has resided since 1948, according to my guide, merchandising coordinater Alex Williams.

Selecting a suit from scratch starts with numerous swatches of fabric bound in books. There are various thicknesses and patterns. Beneath the grizzled journalistic exterior, I was a kid in a candy store.

Ms. Williams informed me that all garments are made by hand on the premises. "One hundred twenty artisans touch the garment," she explained as we walked through a floor where the patterns are cut, then down a flight of stairs where jackets are assembled, and down yet another floor to where trousers are made. The processes on all floors go in a clockwise direction. Master tailor Rocco Giovannangelo maintains an eagle eye on the assembly line.

Finished suits take about six weeks to complete, and prices start at about $4,000 depending on fabric.

Going into the tour, my limited knowledge about Oxxford was that it outfitted George W. Bush for his presidential inauguration in 2001 and well back in the day, the clothier outfitted Chicago's most notorious client, Al Capone. Since its founding in 1916, Oxxford has had many a prominent lawyer or politician enter its doors.

Oxxford's flagship store is located in New York, but its clothes are still made in the USA town of Chicago. The craftsmanship of each garment is first-rate, the styling impeccable, and true to its motto: "Always Be Faithful to Quality."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Style Points getting props

First, I hope that those affected by Hurricane Ike are working in earnest toward getting back on track.

I am happy to see that my blog has gotten the attention of KTRK-TV Ch. 13's Tom Abrahams, whose Sept. 28 entry on his political blog, The Vote, deals with what the candidates are wearing these days.

And this month, I am pleased to announce that this month's Houston Modern Luxury magazine features a story I wrote on Norton Ditto's 100th anniversary this year. (Its Oct. 4 fund-raiser, however, has been postponed.) The story is on page 58 as you turn the online pages.

Stay tuned for more of my magazine stories in HML's Men's Book later this month.