Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NBA postgame snapshot observations

My day starts with ESPN SportsCenter at 6am CT, and in the first half-hour are NBA highlights ... and the requisite postgame commentary from players and coaches.

Some of the players opt for plaid, others don sweaters and vests, with or without ties. The coaches are consistently polished ... and then there's Shaq.

To see the recent postgame interview attire, click here. Among the clips, you might see the following ...

-- Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash sports the secret-agent look with a wide-lapel jacket and tie after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in six games on Thursday.

-- Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki keeps it simple with a French blue shirt after losing their first-round series to the San Antonio Spurs.

-- I like LeBron James' shawl-collar sweater and knit tie combination after the Cleveland Cavaliers' series-clinching victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. The "LBJ" crest is an especially nice touch."

-- Shaquille O'Neal has a great French-cuff shirt and vest ... but a clip-on tie? Clearly, he jests. But he'd actually look cooler if he was wearing an untied bow tie. It would signify a sort of after-party look, now that the formal event is over.

-- Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard goes with the tan jacket with epaulets, red shirt, black V-neck sweater, black pocket square and plaid tie after Monday's sweep of the Charlott Bobcats. I prefer matching my pocket square with my tie, but Mr. Howard matched his pocket square with his sweater. The tie is too light and does not readily pick up any of the other pieces in his presentation.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bow tie old hat for Bowen, bold move for TV

ESPN analyst and former San Antonio Spurs star Bruce Bowen is one of a few television personalities who wear a bow tie. This is a relatively bold choice in a field where long neckties are the norm for men.

Other notable sightings of bow-tie clad sports figures of late include TNT analyst and former Houston Rocket Kenny Smith and current Rocket Aaron Brooks; and NFL linebacker Dhani Jones sports the look here.

By wearing bow ties, these gentleman have at least took the time to bring some level of "cool" to an accessory that generally is accepted with tuxedoes, but not always in the business world. (Conversely, wearing neckties with formal wear doesn't quite measure up to the majesty of a bow tie.)

In Mr. Bowen's case, he is a consistent contributor to ESPN as an NBA analyst and you'll be seeing more of him as the playoffs progress. If he continues in the bow tie direction, I'd suggest that he either draw the knot tighter (it appears too big on screen and the bow looks less defined) or select a tie that has a narrower width, a la James Bond.

In any event, Mr. Bowen is on the right track. The color of his ties work in concert with his jacket. (When Mr. Brooks wears the red blazer and matching tie, it's clear he is representing the Rockets. All other non-Rockets should not try this at home.) Ironically, Mr. Bowen has acheived a conservative look with a tie that's outside the norm when it's on television.

That said, Mr. Bowen stands out. Whether others follow isn't the point; Mr. Bowen owns his path. Keep it goin', dude.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Must-haves in your wardrobe

It was an honor to work with Arizona-based image consultant Janice Hurley-Trailor on the finer points of fundamentals in a working man's wardrobe. Click here for the highlights.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Working linen into your wardrobe

Linen is among the most comfortable fabrics to wear in the spring and summer time. Be it in the form of jackets, trousers, shirts and even shoes, linen sends a clear message of casual cool.

I have reason to believe that among men who dress conservatively for work, there is a reluctance to embrace linen as part of their wardrobe. For some, linen's inherent property of wrinkling makes men less comfortable about wearing it in public than a non-iron cotton shirt.

Lighten up, fellas. The whole point of wearing linen is to get as far away from work attire as possible. Linen works best when worn outdoors, eating outside at cafes, strolling down boardwalks.

To test the look, I went out to my backyard wearing a linen suit and a cotton/linen blend sleeveless shirt. I live in the Houston area, where it's typically 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the spring.

The linen suit is a brown pinstripe from Polo; the shirt is from Nautica; and the leather-lined, linen shoes are vintage Cole-Haan. I especially like the generous leg room in the trousers, which gives me an "Oxford bag" look. To top it off, the straw hat is from Borsalino.

Finding linen shoes these days is a bit of a challenge; sandals work just as easily if you wish to maintain the leisurely look.

Bottom line: Don't be afraid to experiment with linen. It's meant not to be ironed. It is comfortable in warm climates.

D-Wade chanels his 'inner lumberjack'

Dwyane Wade was feelin' it after scoring 46 points to help the Miami Heat avoid a sweep by the Boston Celtics. I hope the Heat can extend the series some more, because Mr. Wade is putting together some interesting looks after the game.

After talking to his "hot" hand during his scoring spree in Game 4 on Sunday in Miami, Mr. Wade answered questions from the media afterward. He was wearing a red plaid sport shirt and a solid black vest.

In my modest experience in working on television and film sets, one of the things that production people often advise is when appearing in front of cameras, avoid wearing white, red or black clothing. Whenever I see these colors on television, whites appear too bright (use eggshell or off-white instead), red comes across "flat" as a color (substitute deep red or maroon), and black makes an object appear two-dimensional instead of three (use navy).

So in person, Mr. Wade looks fine. On television, while the plaid he was wearing was the right shade of red, it needs to be a little darker to show up stronger on screen. The black vest helped balance the colors of the shirt, and Mr. Wade's presentation was much simpler than his postgame attire from previous playoff games. (See my previous posts.)

Bottom line: The "hardworking lumberjack" look works for me.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Craig Sager keeps you looking

I must admit, Craig Sager has (and does) a great job as sideline reporter on TNT. As skilled as he is in interviewing players and coaches in a tight time frame during games, he will probably be known more for his attire than for his journalistic skills.

That can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the outfit. So far during the 2010 NBA playoffs, I have seen him on TV wearing a salmon-colored jacket and matching flower for one playoff game and an electric-blue jacket, flower tie and pocket square during another playoff game. (The latter is his latest outfit from Saturday's Game 4 between the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers.) One thing is for sure: Whatever information he gets from his interviews, Mr. Sager's clothing lingers in my short-term memory, long enough to wonder what he's going to wear next.

Now, for the sake of disclosure, I met Mr. Sager during the NBA playoffs three years at A. Taghi in Houston, when the Rockets were in the playoffs. He shook my hand and was really gracious while he was shopping for clothes.

So as I watch him working on television, is there a message that his clothing sends to the television audience? Is it loud? Proud? In your face (or maybe in the faces of his interviewees ... ask Kevin Garnett)? Or just minding his own business?

Well, Mr. Sager's style can work for the average Joe who's not on TV for a living, but in certain environments. The bright colors are great outdoors, especially on boardwalks on the beach if the material is cotton or linen. Indoors, casinos are a great place to sport colorful attire.

I must also admit that when I first saw Mr. Sager on television several years ago, I thought to myself, "I'm revising my will. I wouldn't be caught dead in a casket if someone dressed me that way." However, I was looking through a lens of dressing for a conventional workplace.

Through the lens of entertainment, which is a significant element of sports television, Mr. Sager recognizes clothing that gets your attention. Whether you think you can dress any better than he can misses the point. The question is, are you comfortable wearing clothing that you know will get you noticed? Can you pull it off?

Some memorable outfits come to mind, like Eddie Murphy's leather garb in his standup films "Delirious" and "Raw", and Michael Jackson's sequined white glove in his live performance of "Billie Jean."

I'm not sure I can wear clothing like that while walking down a typical street, but I respect the look for what it is. For Mr. Sager's part, I estimate that I could take one of his sportcoats and make it work for me.

Just one, though.

NBA postgame wear: Now you're talkin'

In my previous two posts, I made note of the attire of players during postgame interviews in need of improvement. I would now like to recognize those outfits that look the part of a seasoned pro.

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony comes through in a big way after a Game 3 loss at Utah on Friday. Mr. Anthony wears a suit and tie, with contrasting-collar shirt and pocket square. The wide stripe of the tie avoids competing with the stripe of the shirt.

Other tie options that would work well with Mr. Anthony's suit include either paisley or polka-dot patterns as a complement to the suit and shirt. As for the pocket square, it should match the color of the tie.

Mr. Anthony's teammate, Chauncey Billups, presents a casual look that's very cool. Notice the V-neck white tee contrasting with a form-fitting black jacket. Mr. Billups looks as if he's in control, very understated.

Utah's Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams display varying degrees of casual. Mr. Boozer goes open collar with his jacket and pocket square, while Mr. Williams goes with a striped cardigan. Both mendo not call attention to their appearances, yet both are clearly comfortable in their clothing.

Keep it up, fellas.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Epaulets emerge during NBA postgame interviews

What is with the epaulets on jackets worn by NBA players during the postgame interviews in the playoffs?

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mo Williams sported a black crushed velvet jacket Thursday night after his team's Game 3 loss at Chicago. His look is much simpler than that of Dwight Howard, who had too many sartorial elements going on after his Game 2 news conference.

Whether epaulets on sport jackets appear to be the next trend among NBA players remains to be seen. Quite frankly, it's over the top. I'm looking for Prince to show up to demonstrate why the look works for him.

Moving on to other style observations, click here to look at LeBron James during his postgame interview.

Now, Mr. James runs into the same issue as Mr. Howard: Multiple elements not working together. Plaid shirt, solid black vest, tie.

Let's start with the shirt. The pattern is a bold plaid. Lose the tie and the vest, and let the shirt speak for itself.

Or, keep the vest and tie, but a solid-colored shirt works best. White is the safest choice, but it appears too bright when photographed by television cameras. Light gray would be the optimal selection with Mr. James' vest and tie.

In my next blog post, I will focus on the players who look cool by keeping it simple.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Magic's 'Superman' flops in civvies

Somehow, I did not believe the style choices of NBA players would reflect a simple elegance, but an experimental one at best.

Don't get me wrong. So far, Dwyane Wade initially got my attention as a snazzy dresser from one of his commercials. But on Tuesday, with that pewter jacket with red trim, wide lapels and epaulets (epaulets?), Mr. Wade is opening the door to much laughter with such outfits.

The latest aberration in fashion was sighted on Wednesday night, during the postgame media Q/A session with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sitting at the podium. Usually, he cuts a striking figure in civvies, based on his photo gallery on his website or a recent appearance on ESPN's PTI. From what I could tell, Mr. Howard was wearing a crushed velvet jacket with a crested pocket and epaulets (!), a bow tie and a yellow cardigan sweater.

Hmmm ... taken individually, I like all the elements, believe it or not. But crushed velvet is usually worn at after-hours lounges or by hosts at house parties; bow ties present a uniqueness about a man who knows how to tie one; a cardigan adds maturity to a man's look.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Howard's execution is sorely lacking. Look, I'll say it now: Unless you're in the military, this epaulets thing does NOT work. You can't throw in all these elements together on one person and hope something sticks. Crested jackets? That's expected wear in prep schools, but it's a pretentious look outside those environments. Wearing this jacket makes an otherwise nice-looking bow tie appear out of place. And the cardigan is too loud in yellow. Gray would have been a better choice.

That's all for now. But Mr. Howard knows better. I expect him to bounce back with super attire in the future.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When NBA fashion misses the mark

The NBA playoffs are here, and the intensity of play ratchets up several notches during this time. And the non-jersey clothing worn at courtside gets noticed, too.

Usually, coaches and the media are sensibly attired in professional wear. Yet some glaring exceptions emerge from time to time.

Tuesday night was one such occasion. As I was preparing to go to bed after Game 2 of the Lakers-Thunder series on TNT (L.A. leads the series, 2-0, in case you're wondering), I saw some of the postgame highlights from some of the other playoff games. To wit:

  • TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager's salmon-colored sport jacket and tie. Yyyep, that'll get a couple of double-takes, par for the course for Mr. Sager.

  • The Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade sporting a pewter jacket with red trim and epaulets, with a red check shirt. Hmmm ... well, the colors coordinate, but epaulets? You kiddin' me?

  • Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant answering questions from the media while wearing a red check shirt -- with epaulets. What's with the epaulets? Mr. Durant looks like a lumberjack. The NBA's leading scorer can do better than this. He'd be better off wearing a stretch cotton designer T shirt. Keep it simple, man!

    These were only a few notable fashion (miss) statements from the NBA world. And now, back to the games ...
  • Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    The secret to tying a bow tie

    There's a more than a touch of class that comes with knowing how to tie a bow tie. It's like learning how to ride a bike or swim -- once you get it, you don't forget it. Your confidence is established as you look ahead to the next challenge.

    Back to bow ties. You already know how. Put it this way: Do you know how to tie your shoes?

    Don't avoid this question by saying you only wear slip-on loafers or sandals. Be a man and accept the challenge.

    For those in the know when it comes to tying shoes, think about the steps: One end over the other, pull both laces down, form one half of the bow with one lace by holding the loop, bring the other lace over and through the space where the knot will form, creating another loop, and pull down both loops that form the bow.

    Start with one end longer than the other, with the longer end going over the shorter end, then go from there. Visually, click here to understand what I mean. (Think "shoes.")

    With repetition and practice, you'll have tying a bow tie down pat.