Sunday, February 10, 2008

On Hold

You know, I'm going to put this blog on hold.

I can't seem to muster up the same interest and whimsy to write about this topic as I can when I write about food/dining/etc.

In the mean time, please continue enjoying Horny For Food.

I'll announce on HFF when I have new posts over here.



Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dress Like A Woman, Shop Like A Man

We're in an unprecedented era. Not since the days of powdered wigs, fine silk hose, and winkle-pickers have men been as preoccupied (and financially invested) in clothes and style as the women-folk are.

Men are also tragically picking up on some of the bad habits of our hot voluptuous counterparts. How else can you explain True Religion jeans? What's the point of having giant button-flap pockets on the ass of your jeans? How're hot chicks supposed to look at your ass? Or what about otherwise lovely button-up shirts utterly ruined by terrible meaningless silk screens?

Giant Prada sunglasses are, however, quite acceptable.

Nevertheless, we still have the upper hand in general clothing versatility, durability, and universality. A suit's a suit, despite changing pant cuffs and lapel widths. Even the last great attire innovation, the wearing of a sport coat with a t-shirt, can be traced all the way back to before World War 2. I shit you not. There are pictures.

In that same span of time women's wear has gone through countless iterations, sometimes from year to year. For the versatility of every suit a man owns, a woman needs a half-dozen dresses. For every pair of dress shoes a man has, a woman needs three.

Or does she?

Timelessness and versatility exist in womens' clothes and besides, it's not so much about what you buy, but how you buy it.

So how does a man shop?

And by "a man" I mean "me as proxy for all man-kind."

1. I shop for a purpose. I go out looking for something that I perceive I have a need for in my wardrobe. A grey suit. White button-down dress shirt. Wool v-neck sweaters. A wrist watch with a black leather band. Brown belt to match my brown shoes. I'm not saying my need is anything more than a perceived one, but I perceive of my need, nine times out of ten, before I go out shopping.

2. I shop for timelessness. I'll admit that I sometimes am overwhelmed by impulse, but I try to temper that impulse with an attempt at objectively assessing the longevity of my proposed purpose. To that end, I'm more likely to shell out more money for something that I'll wear for years (suits, dress shirts, shoes, jeans, coats, watch) than I will for something that's pretty damn cool but of a less durable and more disposable nature (t-shirts, shorts, socks, underwear). How many $20 t-shirts do you go through in the lifespan of a $150 pair of jeans? Or a $200 wool coat, for that matter?

3. I put money where it counts. Or at least I like to think so. For instance I wear $5 H&M underwear. It fits great. It looks great. And it lasts just as long as the $30 Diesel underwear. Need a solid t-shirt for general purposes? Spend $10 or less at the outlet mall instead of $80 on Hugo Boss. Will the Hugo t-shirt last a bit longer than the Gap tee? Maybe, but not by much. And socks. One can really waste money on socks. All my women friends bitch that they spend $20 on a pair of stockings and there's a run in it the next day. $20. Gone forever. There's no reason to spend more than $10 on a pair of socks. Usually much much less. Socks get smelly. They get holes in them. They won't make your shoes any more comfortable. They serve little additional purpose than to ease the transition from shoe to pant.

4. I shop for quality. For instance, the $249 H&M slim fit suit is made of the same ultra-soft Super100 Italian wool as many $2000 designer suits. Same for their sport coats. The denim quality and stitching strength of $50 Levis is superior to $200 Mavis. Refer back to my discussions of shoes and watches as well. When you know what makes for quality construction and material, you're able to transcend designers and labels and just buy some nice clothes that you'll wear a lot.

What're the analogues you, ladies, can draw? Good jeans (that actually fit, not just on your "skinny" days). A couple black dresses. Sweaters. A couple timelessly cut sundresses. A pencil skirt. A (not too mini) skirts. A handful of pantsuits and two-pieces. Regular old tank tops, not spaghetti straps. Regular girls' t-shirts, not baby dolls. I'll stop pretending I know too much about women's clothes.

And when it comes to underwear, nothing is sexier than a matching set that isn't too granny and isn't too stripper. And that can cost $5.

We're just excited that we get to see it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dress Shoes

I love shoes. And I'm comfortable in my heterosexuality saying that. Like the wrist watch, shoes are one of the few opportunities for men to show off distinctive style when options are otherwise limited.

Let me first say this: I love all shoes. I love sneakers and I love dress shoes and I love casual shoes that fall somewhere in between, but....

A sneaker is a sneaker and a dress shoe is a dress shoe and ne'er the twain shall meet.

The only possible exception is the wearing of shiny new Chuck Taylors with a suit and tie. This is acceptable in certain well-selected instances.

And this post is about dress shoes.

What makes a true dress shoe?

1. It's made of either brown, black, or burgundy leather.
2. It has a cork and leather sole (maybe some rubber, but hopefully not)
3. 90% of the time it has laces. Buckles, straps, and loafers are generally not meant for formal business situations (but look great for dress down situations and business casual).

That's pretty much it. Some will tell you that loafers are okay dress shoes, some will tell you that pointy toes are too feminine, some will tell you that a squared off toe is too weird. These people are wrong. The shape of the shoe is pretty much up to you.

As with all men's style, it's not about brands and labels but about components and craftsmanship. I've found many a shoe for $40-$100 that are of quality comparable to designer shoes that cost $400+.

First, touch the leather. Good leather feels like leather, cheap leather feels like plastic. Is it soft? Does it flex well?

Next, check the soles. I dislike the trend in men's shoes of having enormous soles that extend significantly past the upper. It draws too much attention down when the shoe should be guiding the eye up. Check and see how the sole is attached. Ideally it should be sewn to the upper. Glue is acceptable only on inexpensive shoes that otherwise seem to be of good quality.

And then try them on. Walk around a bit. Dress shoes get a bad rap because most people start out wearing hand-me-downs from dad or cheap hard leather that results in blisters and chafing. The fact is, if your shoes fit so that they don't allow significant movement of the heel against the back of the shoe (this may necessitate a shoehorn) and the leather is soft enough, dress shoes can be as comfortable as sneakers.

So what kinds of dress shoes do you need? Simply put:

One brown pair, one black pair.

Within brown there are dark near-black browns all they way up to tan. All I can say is make sure that you have a comparably toned belt for each pair of brown shoes you have.

(There's also the burgundy-red tone known as "Cordovan." Pleasant, but not required.)

Fortunately there are infinite variations in styles and adornments for dress shoes: wingtips, brogues, bluchers, chisel-toe, pointy-toe, square toe, so that as your collection grows you can have many pairs of dress shoes that are distinctive.

And here's the thing, a well-made pair of shoes that are polished regularly and resoled when necessary can last forever. Rather than wearing one pair of shoes to death and replacing them, have three or four pairs to wear in rotation and you'll never need to replace anything, you just keep adding to the collection.

(The same holds true for sneakers.)

Where then does one buy dress shoes?

1. Nordstrom Rack. Ground zero for men's dress shoes at good prices. You'll have to dig around for your size and be patient, but you can find incredible deals on shoes. They won't be the cheapest, by they will be fairly priced.

2. Skechers. While known for sneakers and skate shoes, Skechers does make a significant collection of mens' dress shoes. Many of the Skechers Collection shoes are calfskin leather made in Italy, England, or Portugal at some of the same shoe factories that make $800 loafers. Priced reasonably well at a Skechers store, if you hit up a Skechers factory outlet you can often find these shoes for around $50.

3. Shoe Pavilion. Stores like these are giant clusterfucks, but if you know what to look for and are close enough to a Shoe Pavilion to go back frequently you can get excellent designer shoes for dirt cheap.

4. John Fluevog. Available online ( or at one of his retail outlets, Fluevog shoes offer distinctive style for moderate prices. While most new release dress shoes are $200+, his styles and collections are frequently changing so shoes are always on sale, especially if you wear a less common size. And because Fluevog only sells directly, the prices in general are much less than designer shoes of similar quality sold in department stores.

5. Anywhere. The great thing about shoes is that collections rotate through so quickly that some shoes are on sale at virtually every department store all the time. Know what you're looking for and be patient and you'll find the high-quality long-lasting shoes that you want for no more than $150, usually much much less.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Wristwatch

Is there anything more emasculating than being approached by a comely young lady, eyes fraught with worry, desperately inquiring as to the time and your only response is "no." Or, even worse, your response is "yes" only to fumble in your pocket for your cell phone, unlock it, and then squint for the time, at which point the young lady has moved on to the next potential savior, toned buttocks swaying vigorously beneath her smart wool skirt.

And who is that savior? He's the gentleman who, when asked the time, lifts his arm, jacket and shirt sleeve sliding back slightly, automatically, revealing a simple elegantly appointed timepiece, and responds "quarter to three."And she smiles gratefully, says "thank you," visibly relieved that she has not missed her appointment. And what is that appointment? Why that's a conversation for another day.

Such a simple and happy ending, all thanks to a wristwatch!

Now I'll admit that I had a Casio calculator watch when I was in elementary school but I went through all of my teenage years sans watch. I had a nice Fossil in college for a bit but then the crystal scratched and the battery died (and the leather separated on the band) and I didn't get around to replacing it.

I'm now a convert.

Basically, I got an orange rubber cover for my Blackberry and it makes it really hard to take my phone out of my pocket in a timely manner. But a watch? Perfect! I can't leave the house without one now.

When accurate time is readily available on cell phones, laptops, and that one bank clock high above the Bay Bridge, what purpose does a watch have these days, you might ask?

a. It really is convenient. Time, day, date, all on your wrist is handy.
b. It's cool. I mean, an analog watch is really freakin' cool. Little gears and shit. It uses a fucking quartz to keep accurate time for crying out loud! Motherf-in' quartz!
c. It's timeless. A watch is the only accessory for men that is as varied and wearable in any situation as anything women have.

So you want to find a nice watch, what do you do? What do you look for?

The first thing I'll tell you: You will NOT find a watch worth wearing for less than $100. Sorry. That being said, you won't need to spend much more than that and you'll never need to spend more than $500 for a truly elegant watch, and if you look at the right sources you can find most stainless steel watches from almost any upmarket brand in the $200-$300 range.

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you brand isn't important. But it's not that important. At a certain price point ($100-$500), all brands are mostly the same:

a. They're all stainless steel.
b. Their movements are all manufactured in either Switzerland or Japan. Swiss quartz movement is generally regarded a little higher than Japanese movement, but that's mostly a holdover from postwar racism.
c. They're all water resistant to a degree (handwashing is okay) and virtually all are waterproof to at least 50 meters.
d. They're all battery-powered. You can find automatic-winding movements (and maybe even direct-winding movements) in that price range but ultimately those are more trouble than they're worth, requiring infinitely more attention and maintenance than battery-powered brethren. Save your manual winding watches for a true four or five-figure heirloom.

Let's briefly talk four aspects of functionality:

1. The crystal. The crystal is the clear covering of the watch face. This is both the largest and most exposed surface on your watch. If you can find a watch in your price range with a sapphire crystal (glass made with de-mineralized clear sapphire) go for it. This crystal will be extraordinarily scratch-resistant (only a diamond and certain synthetic carbides will scratch it). If sapphire crystal is out of your price range for the watch you want, try to find a mineral-hardened glass or a sapphire-coated glass. This'll serve almost as well as the sapphire crystal. An acrylic crystal is inexpensive but very easy to scratch, though difficult to shatter and cheap to replace.

A quick note: sapphire crystal is the easiest of the three materials to shatter but very difficult to scratch. Since you're much more likely to scratch a watch in everyday use at home or in the office than you are to shatter it, I recommend the sapphire or sapphire-coasted crystal. But if you're buying a watch for outdoor activities you may want to opt for an acrylic crystal. If you scratch your crystal while climbing, your watch is still usable. But if you break the crystal mid-climb you're pretty much hosed.

2. Water resistance. If you want a watch that'll withstand normal handwashing, showering, and occasional swimming, all you need is a 50m/5 atm watch. If you want a sport watch for regular water sports, snorkeling, and recreational diving, get a 200m/ 20 atm watch. 50m/100m/200m watches are priced almost identically. 1000m/ 100 atm watches are needed only for deep-sea diving.

3. The band/bracelet. Most of the time your decision will be leather band or metal bracelet. Leather bands are more formal and more comfortable. Any watch you plan to wear above "business casual" settings should probably have a leather band. Metal bracelets have a certain masculine appeal as well as an attractive shine. Bracelets can also hold up bigger watches with more features so most recreational watches are going to be metal banded. You probably won't find a leather banded watch with anything more complicated than a chronograph. Additionally, even if your watch is 200m water resistant, the leather band probably isn't. Bracelets will also last longer than leather bands. A leather band worn regularly, even properly cared for, won't last more than a couple years before needing replacement. If your watch is for vigorous outdoor activity, get a watch with a rubber strap and a rubber-coated bezel. That'll be a helluva lot more comfortable.

A subsidiary consideration of the strap is the clasp. I recommend a push-release clasp closure on bracelets and a standard hole clasp on bands, though the push-release clasps on leather bands are kinda cool.

4. Complications. A complication is anything added to a watch beyond a basic time-telling function. The most common complications are:

a. Date. This'll display the day of the month. You'll need to manually adjust the day at the beginning of every month that doesn't have 31 days. This is easy.
b. Day. This'll display the day of the week.
c. 24-hour. This'll display the hour in 24-hour time (essential for truly accurate day-date watches)
d. Chronograph. A stopwatch. Most chronographs time for up to 30 minutes. Some longer. Some time as finely as tenths of seconds.
e. Perpetual calendar. This'll accurately display the true day, date, month, and sometimes moon phase, without adjustment, for 100 years before needing factory resetting. Tough to find in under $500 watches.
f. Multiple time zone. A feature either on the watch face itself (showing one or two additional time zones that you can set) or a rotating bezel with cities on it that indicate the time in various financial centers when it's the time displayed on your watch.
g. Dive bezel. A rotating bezel that you can use as a 60-minute timer for diving.
h. Moon phase. Will tell you the approximate phase of the moon. A neat holdover from sailing and early flying days. Surprisingly useful for camping.
i. Tachymeter/telemeter. A display that when paired with a chronograph can determine speed and distance.
j. Power reserve. Usually found only on a winding watches. Indicates how much power is left on the mainspring before winding is needed. Some battery watches will have one too.
k. Alarm. Self-explanatory.
l. Minute repeater. Pressing a button or pulling a lever on the watch will actually make it quietly chime the time down to the minute. Good for low-light situations and for blind people.

The good news? Virtually every watch brand you can think of makes watches in most every style and you can buy a watch for under $500 with any of these complications. Generally speaking the more complications a watch has the more expensive the watch. You probably don't need more than some form of calendar and perhaps a chronograph if you want to time stuff. Most everything else is highly specialized and held over from days when there weren't laptops and your watch was your smartphone.

So beyond those basic functional decisions, you're picking a brand based on aesthetics. So before we talk brands, let's talk aesthetics.

What's the purpose of your watch?

If the purpose of your watch is business, you'll probably want either a leather strap or a simple small metal bracelet. Your watch only needs to display hours and minutes, but do you want a second hand? A simple day/date calendar might also be handy. There are plenty of sleek, elegant watches with those features that can compliment any business ensemble. Limit your bands to either black, brown, or tan leather band or steel, silver, goldtone, or rose goldtone bracelets.

If the purpose of your watch is travel, you'll probably want to get something a little bigger with a few more features like a second time zone function, 24-hour time, and alarm. Get as comfortable of a stainless steel or coated stainless steel band you can find.

For any recreational watch where you're even remotely near water, you want a stainless steel bracelet, rubber-coated stainless steel, or soft rubber or synthetic band. Chronographs can be surprisingly handy to have on your watch. Second hand is essential. If you're hiking or camping a lot then a moon phase function as well as a detailed calendar is practical.

The watch you wear for going out presents numerous options. Traditionally, a watch is not to be worn for formal events as caring what time it is would cause offense to the host and hostess. A semi-formal watch should have a black or brown leather band, depending on the color of your other accessories. Complications should be minimal or non-existent. A watch with an hour and minute display is all you need. An all-black watch (black band, face, and bezel) or a watch with a black band, face, and steel or gold bezel is perhaps most elegant.

The casual watch presents infinite options for coordination and flash. In general, you should have a steel, goldtone, and black metal watch. Within steel bands, have both a shiny and a matte band. I also recommend a few different face colors. In general, blue, black, and white face watches are the most common, but green, purple, and red are not unheard of. Shiny stainless band with a blue face is stunning. Contrast is good so pair a blue or black face with a silver bracelet and pair a white face with a gold or black bracelet. Only go monochrome with an all-black watch. A white face with a shiny steel bracelet is nice, but a white face with a matte steel bracelet can look a little washed out. The casual watch is also a chance to experiment with flashier styles. Here's your chance to bust out your big watches, your denim bands, etc.

Let's quickly talk case shape and style.

Round: the most common shape. Good for all formal or casual watches. Generally speaking any watch with multiple complications will be round.
Tonneau: Rectangular with flared ends. Elegant for formal watches.
Rectangular: Square or rectangular. Nice for formal watches.
Irregular: Other shapes. Elliptical and triangular cases are not uncommon. Sometimes appropriate for formal watches.

Skeleton: Face has no backing so some or all of the movement is visible. Cool feature for casual watches, though Stuhrling makes some that are appropriate for formal occasions.
Monochrome: Bracelet/band, face, and bezel (edge of the casing) all the same color.
Two-tone: Most commonly means gold and silvertones on the bracelet and/or bezel.
Dress: Sometimes used to refer to rectangular raised-bezel watches with leather bands.

Are you keeping score at home? Good. So let's recap the basic watch selection any man should have:

One formal watch. Black or brown leather. Sapphire or sapphire-coated crystal. Hour and minute hands only on the face. No other complications.

One recreational/sport watch. At least 50m water-resistant. Metal or rubberized bracelet. Several complications chosen based on need, including detailed calendar and chronograph. Acrylic or mineral-glass crystal.

One to three business watches. Sapphire or sapphire-coated crystal. At least one leather band and one steel or goldtone bracelet. Smaller face with calendar complications and perhaps second time zone complication. One of these could be your business/leisure travel watch

Three or more casual watches. At least one tan or brown leather band, one goldtone bracelet, and one steel bracelet. Monochromatic black bracelet watch and shiny steel with blue face watch good additions. Complications are up to the wearer. Sapphire crystal or mineral glass crystal depending on purpose and frequency of use.

Given all that information, which brands do I recommend?

1. Fossil. Probably the king of inexpensive watches. Huge line with a surprising array of complications and styles, especially in the $125 range. The only negative is that the Fossil name is inextricably tied to value watches so it's like driving a Hyundai. Nothing wrong with a Hyundai, but it's still a Hyundai.

2. Nixon. Originally a maker of surf and skate watches, Nixon has expanded their range immensely, now including business watches in the $500+ range. Still has an excellent selection of $100-$200 watches. Almost all of their watches are 100m water-resistant and their style ranges from funky contemporary to versatile business casual. Offers excellent recreational and sport watches. Similar to Fossil but not as well-known (and more eye-catching), selling primarily through independent mens' shops and surf/skate/snowboard shops.

3. Citizen. Has the market pretty much cornered in the $250-$500 price range. Offers the best array of complications for the price as well as solar-powered "Eco-Drive" technology which minimizes the need for battery replacement. Not much in the offering for formal watches or sport watches but excellent recreational, casual, and business watches.

4. Invicta. U.S. based company. Generally the least expensive Swiss-movement watches you can find (though they use Japan movements as well). Huge selection, with many watches in the $100-$300 range. Offers almost every complication available. Distinctive and relatively unknown so they "wear" like more expensive watches. Little formal selection. They also make the best dive watch for the price.

5. Movado. Classic Swiss producer. While most of Movado's watches are over $500 you can find a decent selection at discount retailer websites for around $300, sometimes as low as $200. Stylishly modern Movado black "Museum" face (hour and minute hand and a dot at high noon, nothing else) is immediately recognizable and when paired with a two-tone bracelet or black leather band makes for an excellent business or formal watch.

6. Zodiac. Another value Swiss-movement producer (owned by Fossil). They have an excellent selection of sport and recreational watches for around $200 (some significantly higher). Particularly excellent producer of "caouatchouc" rubber watches, a rubber that is very resistant to corrosion and color breakdown and ideal for water and outdoors activities.

7. Stuhrling Original. Excellent Swiss producer that tends to make versatile watches with a timeless retro look and feel to them. Produces an excellent array across all style ranges but, like Movado, is limited in its sub-$500 selections most or all of which can only be found online.

Brands to avoid? No brands in particular, though I'd steer clear of "designer" watches, as these are pretty much just rebranded watches by most of the above producers for an added designer premium. It's more important to know the features of your watch and the quality of the components (movement, band, and crystal) than the brand slapped on it. All of the above brands have long-standing reputations of using quality reliable components for their respective price points.

So where should you buy your watch?

If at all possible, you should purchase your watch from an approved brick and mortar retailer of that brand, especially one that specializes in watches and jewelry. If you can purchase your watch directly from a producer's boutique or outlet, that is ideal. The reason? You have easier recourse should there be a flaw in the watch and it makes it easier to maintain the warranty. In the end you might actually save money over an online retailer.

For instance, I purchased a Movado Faceto from a Movado store for $450. I can purchase that same watch online for around $250. While the online store might offer the standard manufacturers' limited two-year warranty on the movement, purchasing it from Movado gave me an extended four year warranty as well as three band replacements (guaranteeing the same factory calfskin leather band), and lifetime battery replacement included. Given that the bands are $50 each and battery replacement runs $5-$10 every couple years, the actual value of the goods and services received are pretty comparable to buying online. When you include the added security of the extra two years on the warranty and the convenience of dealing directly with the producer there's a marked advantage in some cases to dealing with a brick and mortar retailer, particularly if you're looking at spending over $200 on your watch. The secret is to mention that you're considering the discount retailers and you can usually secure the extended warranty option and other bonuses for no extra cost.

Costco is an excellent place to purchase watches, but you have to be patient as their selection is limited, but frequently changing. Costco will often have premium (and even luxury) watches for prices comparable to online with the convenience of a retail location. Costco also offers reasonably priced extended warranties for purchase.

That being said, online is a phenomenal place for purchasing watches, especially premium watches. While there are a lot of discount watch retailers on the web, you really don't need to go farther than for most premium watch brands.

You can get Stuhrlings, Citizens, Invictas, and Movados for 50%-80% off the MSRP. Overstock offers a phenomenal selection of Invictas and Stuhrlings in particular. If registered, the watches do carry the limited factory warranty on movement (keep your receipt!) and Overstock offers "platinum" warranty plans which I'd recommend on pricier watches. Probably not worth it for anything less than $150 or so. If you're looking to purchase a few watches to round out your collection, you can't beat buying three watches from premium Swiss producers (I bought a Stuhrling, a Movado, and an Invicta) for less than $500.

If you do decide to buy your watch online, I recommend heading out to large department stores or specialty watch retailers so you can get the look and feel of watches you may want to purchase. You might be surprised at how big a lot of watches are and if you have chicken wrists like I do you might find that you're greatly limited by the size and shape of the watch case. So take note of makes and models that you like and enjoy. You can probably find them online for less. And as I mentioned before, if you're at a retailer and you say that you're considering purchasing a watch online (particularly if you can quote a price on Overstock for the specific model you're considering), you may be offered a better price and/or a more attractive warranty package that could make buying from a brick and mortar retailer a more desirable option. You're more likely to get this offer at a watch retailer as opposed to a department store.

Most people call the shoes the foundation of a male wardrobe. I say it's the watch. When you get home from work what's the first thing you take off? It definitely isn't the watch.

Which means you know what's next? Shoes!

Welcome to The Substance of Style

Greetings loyal readers! You've stumbled upon a resource that will teach you how to:

a. Look good.
b. Feel good.
c. Spend your money on style wisely.

You're going to get a lot of rules. You're going to get a lot of categorical imperatives.

I'm not going to fool you into thinking you can look good for pennies on the dollar. That's not this site. But I am going to guide you how to spend your money wisely.

How much money have you spent on clothes that you never wear, that don't fit properly. that are out of fashion, that you simply bought because they were "a good deal." Great clothes that fit well will last for years. Tight Abercrombie polo shirts won't last you until next season.

In the sake of full disclosure, much of the advice proffered in this blog will be my evaluation, distillation, and reinterpretation of ideas discussed in two recent landmark books in men's style, The Suit by Niccolo Antongiovanni and Dressing the Man by Alan Flusser. Both these books are indispensable. It will also be heavily annotated and amended with my own opinions on the topic and objections to ideas raised by those two gentlemen.

Unlike those two authors, I'll also discuss how you can dress truly casually yet timelessly. Anyone can make a suit look timeless. But how about dressing for the gym?

From studying this blog you will learn to:

a. Always wear a wristwatch.
b. Never (ever) wear polyester in lieu of wool.
c. Never (ever) wear anything but cotton (and maybe a tiny bit of spandex) in a dress shirt
d. Learn to consult your tailor.

Let's begin.