Unrefinery

The Latest: Monday 02 May 2016

Reliable Indicators

Sometimes a book's cover reveals more information than you may have been lead to believe. While not 100% accurate, there are enough cases of one characteristic being a reliable indicator of another that a Venn diagram of the two would indicate nearly complete overlap. Examples:

A: Men who wear bad shoes · B: Men who are bad people
A: Wearing double monkstraps · B: Taking medical advice from pharmaceutical commercials
A: "Selfie stick" · B: Psychopathy
A: Axe product users · B: Trump voters residing in frat houses
A: People who hate Cap'n Crunch · B: Jihadists


02.may.2016 culture
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Intelligent auto technology needs to wise up

Cars these days are loaded with computers, satellite receivers, radar, light sensors, moisture sensors, tire pressure monitors, cameras, thermometers, and pretty much everything they need to analyze the vehicle's location, surroundings and contents. Which makes it all the more irritating that they always seem to lack some common-sense functionality. For instance:
  • Smarter Front Airbag Override — If you can't tell the difference between a heavy briefcase dropped on the front passenger seat and a human being, then you probably aren't doing it right. Thanks to multipurpose LED displays we can't just stick black electrical tape over that idiot light anymore.

  • Better Situational Awareness For Safety Warnings — Your satnav-enabled car can pinpoint your exact position on the planet. You also told it where "home" is so that you can navigate there with a button press. So it needs to recognize that you're in your driveway, and not on a public road, and that you have every right to get out and retrieve your mail from the box without the vehicle screaming that your door is open and your seatbelt is undone and holy s**t we're all going to die unless you get back in and buckle up.

  • Genuinely Useful Voice Control — It's nice that you can say "call the office" or "play USB" and the car will place a call or start the music. What we really need is that when you're backing up, and a distant vehicle triggers the BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP cross-traffic alert, you can yell "I SEE IT, GODDAMMIT" and make it STFU.

25.apr.2016 tech
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20% better than a tailor, eh? Riiiiiiiight. | Fail

Clothing brand Mtailor claims that their app will use pictures of you to create a high quality garment that is "20% better than a tailor".

Two of these images are from their TV commercials, presumably showing some of their best work. The third shows the result when Buzzfeed took a break from copying other sites' content and attempted a product review. The last uses images from Mtailor's own site to demonstrate their ideals for sleeve length, pant length, and how clothes should be worn.

It seems the tailors of the world needn't worry about job security anytime soon.
18.apr.2016 style tech
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Sale Alert: 30% off at Floto

Unrefinery doesn't do a lot of sale alerts, but budget travelers who happen to be Italian-made luggage fetishists will want to check out the full-site 30% off sale at Floto running for the next couple of weeks. Floto is sort of notorious for having considerably higher prices on its own site than you'll find at other vendors, but this brings most bags down to at least $15 below Amazon's pricing and you can particularly clean up with the free shipping and the accessories—the latter including the mandatory Grande Strap [$41 on sale] as the standard strap will slice through your shoulder during any extended carry.

Unrefinery-tested and endorsed picks include the Venezia Leather Trunk Duffle [now $230] for heavy use and cold weather, and the Casiana Canvas Tote with leather trim [$244] for warm-weather getaways.
11.apr.2016 design style
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Allen Edmonds S/S 2016

On the heels (no pun intended) of Florsheim's handsome and colourful Sabato Loafer comes Allen Edmonds' revised Strandmok suede captoe [$245], a lighter weight and better made variant of a perennial summer favourite now rendered in more wearable colours.

Allen Edmonds has also expanded their clothing options, and a look through the offerings serves as a good reminder of the old rule that you should buy shoes from a shoemaker, clothes from a clothing maker, watches from a watch maker, etc.

What we're saying is that AE can have $245 for their suede brogues. They can't have $115 for their battered shorts. That's what we're saying.
05.apr.2016 style
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"Loose Ends" are visually unsatisfying

If we're honest we owe a lot to contemporary trends in suit design, which pulled us back from the giant shoulder-padded pleated-pants brink of the 1980s—where would we be without more form-fitting jackets, flat-front trousers, and trimmer sleeves?

That said, the "ultra-dinky everything" style of youth-oriented brands like Zara, H&M and Topman is problematic in that not only are the proportions unflattering, but a side effect is that it goes against a known principle of harmonious design to leave elements disjointed and disconnected. We've created the world's worst illustration to point out some examples of this principle. When combining a classic shirt and suit coat design, lines dovetail smoothly into each other—collar points are tucked into the jacket, pocket square and chest pocket slip under the lapel. When everything is thin and stubby, lines and angles are disconnected and float in space. The eye doesn't like this. It's unresolved. Don't piss off the eye.
28.mar.2016 style
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The hazards of light grey wool flannel trousers

The trousers on the left are, obviously, wool flannel. On the right, sweatpants. In the middle...? Well, the context and cuffs give them away, but this is an object lesson in how multiple parameters can influence our perception of even a classic dress garment to the point where it might be mistaken for something too casual for travel beyond the gym parking lot.

Light- and mid-grey wool flannel pants are widely regarded as a menswear staple due to their versatility. And rightly so. But a trim fit is essential, to avoid any draping or bagginess whatsoever, and the crease is important enough to warrant buying your own trouser press.
22.mar.2016 style
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Miles Davis, Style Icon

A great article in the Sunday New York Times explores the supreme coolness of Miles Davis' style from every angle, and there's copious documentation of and insight into it—starting with the costume designer's research for the upcoming Don Cheadle biographical film and proceeding through anecdotes from fellow musicians and associates. Davis' music ran the gamut from elegantly understated to raucous and chaotic, and through better and worse, his clothing choices reflected it all.
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Can you wear a proper hat?

Brimmed, grown men's hats—as opposed to knit winter hats, which are worn as needed for survival—might have the highest level of difficulty of all common men's accessories. While the Hipster Trilby and the stereotypical basement dweller's grey fedora are probably beyond redemption forever, there is absolutely a place (and just as importantly, a time) for a proper hat to keep the sun out of one's eyes or to be worn at a jaunty angle.

It goes without saying that as with everything else, a beautifully crafted and properly fitted hat needs to be the starting point. Unrefinery endorses Harlem's Hats By Bunn (if not their website). Bunn himself, besides making everything he sells and carefully fitting it to the buyer's head with ribbon and horsehair, can be counted on for his wisdom in selecting the right one. "That's too much hat for you," he says. "That hat's wearing you and not the other way around."

As for whether or not you can wear it rather than just admiring it in a plexiglas case in your dressing room, here's a handy scoresheet:

Starting score: your age, in years.
+15 If you are under the age of 8, however, because that s**t's cute.
+25 If there's an economic depression on. (Dark hats only.)
+30 If you are not a Person Of No Colour.
+20 If you are ridiculously good-looking (see: friend of the site Phelix Perine, above).
+50 If you are an R&B singer (see: Bobby Caldwell).
+20 If you have a Black Pass (Bobby Caldwell again).
+30 If you are a legendary writer who at any time did field reporting (the Hunter S. Thompson Clause).

Total:
Under 55: Wear with extreme caution. High risk of looking like a barista or anime enthusiast.
55-75: Should work for a garden party or on Easter Sunday.
76+: Rock it at will.
 
01.mar.2016 style
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Cardigans: The Three-Piece Suit Alternative

Suit design, like all other style trends, is cyclical. Sometimes after a past trend is dusted off it takes a while to settle into an acceptable incarnation for its latest revival, as evidenced by the double-breasted suit—the big box of the '80s wasn't going to work; we all started buying only after the form was trimmed and the traditional rules against soft shoulders and patch pockets were discarded.

Three-piece suits are probably beyond redemption for everyone but elderly bankers and tycoons as the middle layer adds pomposity and little else at the expense of comfort. Waistcoats, same trade-off. The solution is the cardigan as middle layer, offering contrast in both texture and colour. Key here is to go with a very lightweight knit (merino is the obvious choice) that will add minimal bulk as your suit is already likely closely fitted. Swap in and out as necessary; this is an opportunity for creativity that may also obviate the need for an overcoat in borderline weather.
23.feb.2016 style
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