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Warmest regards and thanks again for being here~ Michael Cress

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day and the Unofficial Beginning of Summer

Ahhh. Memorial Day. The Unofficial beginning of summer. Realizing this site is viewed by readers in not only all 50 states but every continent and 130 additional countries, this celebration is somewhat localized. That said, a little perspective.

The above image is one I took in the Boston Common. One flag is planted for every Massachusetts serviceman who gave their lives since WWI. Over 20,000 is quite a sight to see. Boston is appropriate for Memorial Day as this was where the Revolutionary War began that led to independence from mother-England and the formation of the United States. From all I can tell, both the U.S and the U.K have gotten over any hard feelings.

As Memorial Day is a memorial to those who gave their lives for the country, the timing means other things for us Yanks. This time of year, even New York, Boston and the rest of the Northeast can finally depend on summer weather, vacations, cookouts, and summer attire!

Beginning in the late 1800's as more people were entering the middle class, the fashion trend-setting wealthy felt it was appropriate to pass along some guidelines to the nouveau-riche crowd they felt needed some assistance. One of the rules was to only wear white shoes between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This rule inevitably morphed into white being worn only during this period. "Winter-white" apparently was OK during the other nine months of the year. For many, these guidelines have stuck around.

No matter what your personal position is, it's now safe to wear white. The fashion police can preoccupy themselves with something else. Summer also means summer-dresses, seersucker suits, vibrant colors and sun-kissed faces. Ahh, my favorite time of year. Everyone enjoy, take a moment to remember what Memorial Day is really for and for heaven's sake, dress in style!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Truth About Men

There are some general truths about men. We're not good about asking for directions or advice on something we feel we should already know. We'll go out of our way to make sure we don't embarrass ourselves. We stick with the tried and true that's safe rather than take a chance of being humiliated- even if its at the expense of growth and maximizing potential. If something new requires taking a chance, we err on the safe side.

At some point along the way, we became "adults" and stopped asking questions; our insatiable appetite for knowledge became streamlined, more "efficient". We block out entire areas of our lives that we don't make a priority or we consider "completed" in the learning department so we can cut through and focus on whatever we feel is a priority at the moment. As children we asked incessantly "why?" and "how?". This adulthood phase creeps upon us and we stopped asking questions- whether we were done or not. Deep down inside we know there are certain things that we should know, as mature men, but we don't. Perhaps we don't know who to ask but more importantly we're unwilling to make ourselves vulnerable to humiliation for asking something we feel we should already know. Pride prevents us from being teachable. Pride prevents us from reaching our potential.

Nothing earth-shattering there. Sure, there are plenty of exceptions to these generalizations but by and large they're true more often than not. To some degree these may be true for woman as well.

So why do I mention the obvious and what does this have to do with style and the sartorial? Let me give an example. Occasionally when I run across a man who is well-dressed in a blazer or suit but doesn't have a pocket handkerchief, I ask them why. I've gotten a myriad of answers. On occasion, I'll get an answer that's probably closer to the truth. The most honest being, "I don't feel confident enough in choosing one to wear, so its easier to not wear one at all". Bingo!

I'm sure some have illusions of a sartorial peacock and that even the most conservative and tasteful of such an accessory would make them feel ill at ease, as if everyone was watching them in some humiliating spectacle. However, most men with some degree of refinement realize that a tasteful pocket square is an elegant touch, even though they don't feel confident in how to go about it. Assuming that its learned by others in the formative years, men wouldn't dare ask now.

The breast pocket on a jacket has one purpose: to hold a handkerchief. For those who are either used to donning one or seeing one on others, the lack of is a noticeable void. That empty pocket is superfluous. A trained eye will go there even if there's nothing to see. Woman notice. A $5,000 suit with no handkerchief isn't fooling everyone.

Here's a near foolproof shortcut to hold the barren chested man over. Choose a solid white one, silk or linen. Other than white, another solid color that highlights a secondary color in your shirt or tie. Take the square and fold it into another square (now 1/4 the original size). Angle the square so one point is up, fold under the other three side points, hold them down and insert so the one point is up. Let the point be straight up or let it point to your left shoulder. There's no right or wrong, at this point almost anything will look intentional and the assumption is you know what you're doing. I found a nifty little online folding guide here for a number of different folds. Play with them and have fun trying different ones. I didn't want to leave off without some solution.

Beyond solids that draw the eye from the chest to under the face, I wish it was as easy to tell everything a man would ever need to know for all circumstances. It takes understanding some basic rules about patterns, colors and fabrics to explore the next level of mixing patterns and multiple colors. These general rules or guidelines are fairly universal when putting together an outfit. Then, only by truly understanding the parameters can we choose where on the spectrum our own style comfortably fits, what rules need to be honored and which can be bent. If one wishes to truly be his best, it takes time and understanding of the fundamentals of style. But its all worth it.

Next time we'll continue down this path and explore the basics of mixing patterns.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Silvia Christmann ~ The Wanderer

What a fun urban look. Plenty of black perfectly framing a fun splash of Spring color in both her top and accessories. Well put together and beautiful.

Silvia Christmann is definitely a head-turner. Keep watching because she's probably going to keep going. Why? Silvia's passion is for travel. Living passionately is quite stylish!

Turning her passion into her work, she established herself in creating travel packages for Wellness Professionals such as Yoga, nutritionists, personal trainers and Wellness coaches (www.wandering-planet.com). Client destinations are exclusively those that are committed to supporting environmental conservation as well as indigenous preservation. If I was going on a Yoga retreat, those are the types of locals I would expect. Ahah! She was on to something.

Not one to let the dust settle under her feet, Silvia's ready for a new challenge. Traveling to far-flung destinations and chronicling her journeys for those of us back home; we'll soon be able to live vicariously through her journeys. Website coming soon and I'll keep you updated.

This morning's check, Silvia says the sun's coming out in Berlin. Soon it will be Ireland, India and a myriad of other locals. Don't forget to come back home to NYC for a visit!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


There are moments when words will not do justice for an image. This is one of those moments.

Monday, May 17, 2010


It's amazing how a different perspective can change one's view. I do really appreciate the dapper bespoke three-piece suit our friend is wearing here.

If I were in Midtown or in the Financial District, I would have just walked past him. It certainly doesn't take away from how nice he's dressed, he just would have seemed to have been in uniform for the office.

What makes this so charming was he was leisurely strolling through the back-streets of the West Village with his wife. He didn't have to wear a suit for a walk, he insisted on it.

This is the sartorial "Old-Guard", those beacons of decorum that remind the rest of us how sloppy we've become. They do it for themselves because that's what they expect and they do it for other's insofar as it would be disrespectful not to.

Thank you continuing to show us the way down the right path.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Housing Works 6th Annual "Design on a Dime" Opening

Housing Works, the largest grassroots AIDS service organization held their 6th Annual "Design on a Dime" event. Fifty of the best interior designers created, furnished and decorated their own room. All of the furnishings were donated and attendees could buy anything on display. What a neat idea! To make it even better, 100% of the proceeds went to the non-profit Housing Works and this year, the proceeds are going specifically to a housing project called the 874 Jefferson Avenue Residence Project. The Jefferson Avenue Residence is being built as units for single, formerly homeless individuals who are living with HIV/AIDS. Absolutely terrific!

So that's the background! Here's where it gets really fun. What do you get when you combine a great charity, a great cause and great designers? Style baby! Here are just a few of the great images of the night. The entire album can be seen on the Facebook fanpage.

Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Ty is showing it's not a large jump from fashion to interior design. The tie, button-down and vest have the elements of being more formal while the denim, belt and rolled sleeves effortlessly bridge the gap to casual. I've seen Ty's show enough to know this look is his style and he owns it.

Jaclyn Smith designed a room for her Kmart collection. Forget what she's wearing, she's gorgeous! One of Charlie's Angels in the late-70's, her look will never go out of style.  

Derek Warburton (center) with close friends Simon van Kempen and wife, Alex McCord.

Many will recognize Simon and Alex from "Housewives of New York". I don't think I would have the guts to allow TV cameras to follow me around, but I've been fortunate to see Alex and Simon at a number of events and think the world of them both.

Derek. Sweetheart of a guy. He's worked very closely with Housing Works and this year was asked to design a room for the event. A lifestyle guru (DerekLovesShopping.com), he nailed his room design and in my opinion was one of the best of the event. I could be biased, but I don't think so. Derek's a good friend and was one of my hosts for the event. I'll do a full editorial on him soon; there's a lot to tell and he lives style.

Paul Johnson Calderon and the lovely Alexandra Osipow Vissicchio.

Paul Johnson is another one of our stars on the CW's "High Society". Know what's really bad? I've yet to see an episode. I want to, just hasn't happened yet! To further tell on myself, I think I saw reruns of the first two "Housewives" episodes this season but nothing since! Really bad since I've gotten to know half the people on those shows in real life.

Anyhow, Paul Johnson is a really, really good guy. Down to earth, enjoyable to be around and just a pleasure to know.

Joseph Miceli-Magnone and Brian Farrell.

Joe was my other host for the event. On the Board for Housing Works, he radiates great energy with his deeds, words and thoughtfulness. Wearing a customary splash of color, looks great as usual.

Now I'm a straight guy but even I can see Brian is one heck of a good looking guy. A very accomplished artist who's currently preparing for an exhibit in Athens, Greece- he'll do great (as usual)!

Designer Marisol Deluna ("Deluna By Design, Inc- Marisol Deluna New York")

Marisol is simply incredible. Her dress? Her design. The detailing of the pattern is unbelievable. This one is a New York City theme, which can be seen more clearly close-up. She draws her designs. by hand! Nobody does that anymore, they do it on a computer. Once finished, designs are sent off to the factory for hand screening. That's TALENT! If she made handkerchiefs for me, that's all I'd wear... and everyone knows how much I like my handkerchiefs. That there is my personal endorsement!

This is a really fun shot. Love it! Love Marisol.

There's a temptation to keep going with the images and notes but it's already run long. As I mentioned, the Facebook fanpage has the full album here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jeisohn Fiala

This guy knows a thing or two about fashion and style. His world revolves around it.

Jeisohn Fiala has a long distinguished career in fashion. Having worked with major fashion designers such as Roberto Cavalli and Christin Lacroix is just a start. His expertise is highlighted by his frequent appearances on Fox and Friends (the Fox News morning show) as the go-to guy on all things fashion as well as hair styling.

He frequently works as a personal advisor to a number of the New York's elite on wardrobe and style. It's a gift to be able to size someone up, emphasize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. To be capable of doing so with a velvet touch and sense of humor so as to make people feel better about themselves is an art. He's got it. A very warm, honest and outgoing guy, he's charismatic- which in itself is the embodiment of style.

Today, he's working Hugo Boss head to toe. Things I noticed are those that usually grab my attention. His shoes (Hugo by Hugo Boss of course) were a deep shade of patent leather blue to compliment the hue in his suit. His pattern and color mix with the shirt and handkerchief brought my eyes in. The base color of the hanky brought out the micro polka-dots in the shirt. The flipped collar shows his individual and characteristic flair. The look isn't wearing him, he's wearing the look. This is about style. The entire look is an outward reflection of who Jeisohn Fiala is. What more can we want in style? A perfect style is a perfect congruity between the inner and outer self. Well done.  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jimmy Choo

This is one of my favorites that I shot yesterday from a Jimmy Choo ad shoot.

I've been hearing a drumbeat from some fashionable woman over the fall and winter about wanting knee-high boots. Here we are. 

The leopard patterned bag seems to be in big demand right now so this is a safe choice for an ad campaign. 

The textured leggings have also been creeping up in popularity. A number of fashion shows in February/March were showing a lot of different takes on the textures and one comes to mind that used the stockings as its focal point for their show. I think we'll continue to see more over the next year as it continues to pick up momentum.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Zhanna Ved

A classic beauty. Stunning, actually. Confidently and casually dressed for a day in New York, Zhanna shows it doesn't need to be complicated or fussy to look good.

A lightweight long gray cardigan over a black top and jeans is simple enough. The detailing on the boots are fantastic and give the look a little extra character.

In all fairness, Zhanna could probably get away with wearing a potato sack and still look good. A model since her mid-teens, she stays (very) busy working with Wilhelmina Model Management. She's smart, funny and warm- an absolute joy to work with.

In what little spare time she has, she helps support the great work of her boyfriend Rogelio Castillo, founder of Secrets of the Modeling World (SOMW.org). SOMW is an organization that fills some large voids and services between models, aspiring models and the industry; all things Zhanna would have first-hand experience with.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Bow Tie and the Man

It's one of those things. I see a bow tie and it grabs my attention. There's a degree of fussiness involved with a bow tie that tells me someone is serious about their style, or at least the statement they're trying to make. Tying a bow tie is becoming an ancient sartorial art and it's use is not as widespread as it once was.

Personally, I'm not a bow tie guy. I know what looks work for me and which don't. That said, I do have an appreciation for those it does work for, the effort they make and the devil-may-care attitude about wearing one... all qualities I admire.

From what I can tell, the bow tie works well for our friend here. A red and white check silk tie breaks up the potential monotony of the blue pinstripe suit. I like blue pinstripe suits but something needs to be done to give it a little flair and individuality. Personally, I tend to use shirt, tie and pocket square color, fabric and pattern combinations to give an otherwise basic suit a little extra something, but the bow tie does the trick. A little harder to see is another favorite trick of mine, using hosiery color to bridge the eyes from the ankles back towards the face. Playing off the red check, a hint of his red socks can be seen poking through. Red socks are a gutsy call. I don't own a pair of red socks. I have a virtual rainbow of color but red is not one I ever felt would fit my style, but then again I don't wear much red anything.

I could write at great length about the bow tie, its history, meaning and utilitarian uses, but I'm afraid everyone will drift off. Short story is back in the 17th Century, a band of Croatian mercenaries came to visit King Louis of France. There's some historical debate on exactly what the mercenaries were doing that led to meeting with the King, but they met nevertheless. Apparently there was a button shortage back home, so the Croatians tied scarves around their necks to keep their shirts closed. King Louis was so impressed by the style he reportedly insisted what became known as "La Cravat" be worn to all upper-class functions.

Was the bow tie the forerunner to the traditional tie worn today? Can't be sure. What we can be sure of is that the bow tie has maintained some degree of relevance for over 350 years and not just in formal wear.