Everyday Luxury is having a moment. As the world goes increasingly casual, folks are subtly conveying wealth and taste through better basics. From Mark Zuckerberg’s $300 T-Shirts to the Zegna and Loro Piana baseball hat featured on Apple TV’s The Morning Show and HBO’s smash hit Succession, it’s safe to say this kind of dressing is here to stay.
The baseball hats have definitely taken on a new life, especially as these two shows have made the luxury hat more acceptable. They typically lack a frontal logo and if you look closely enough, you’ll be able to tell the quality of the fabric. The recent episode of Succession had Logan and Kendall Roy (actors Biran Cox and Jeremy Strong) wearing two almost identical hats. In Succession, the baseball hats have become a reflection of authority with the absence of a logo keeping the focus on the character.
Putting the hat aside for a moment, many of us are still working remotely, and we don’t find the need for the suits and ties we once did. But even so, there’s no excuse for knocking around your house in your PJ’s or running to Starbucks looking like you just rolled out of bed. We can do better.
Loosely defined, a ‘luxury’ good is something rare, costly, or difficult to acquire. At first glance, ‘everyday luxury’ is kind of a misnomer. How can you have something costly or difficult to acquire- each and every day?
The answer is in what you get in a true ‘luxury’ good. You get quality in materials. A $700+ coat lasting you 20 years is, ultimately, worth far more than one manufactured to hit a $70 price point. A coat at the higher price will, more often than not, be made with wool sourced from a more desirable part of the animal, combed with finer machinery, washed with less toxic chemical, and colored with natural dyes that will hold their vibrance for years to come.
Here are five pieces to elevate your casual style and bring a little Everyday Luxury into your life and some more thoughts on what Everyday Luxury means:
An Everyday, Premium Luxury Baseball Hat by Vandre
With the popularity of Succession and The Morning Show, the humble baseball hat is getting a luxury upgrade. Much like sneakers, consumers value higher quality materials and clean, versatile designs. This means wool or cashmere exteriors, cool, breathable linings, and thick leather backstraps with a metal clasp.
Some of these can be quite pricey. The ones featured on Succession and The Morning Show retail for $600+. While Loro Piana cashmere is certainly both fabulous and luxurious, there’s little reason to spend such an absurd amount of money on a hat other than to, well, flex that you dropped an absurd amount of money on a hat.
Vandre Premium Hat Review
This is where Vandre, my hat brand, comes into play. I’ve always worn ball caps on the weekends, and for quite a while, I wore them with my suits as well. I wanted a cap that was functional, versatile and, of course, stylish, but met the standards of quality I look for in my tailoring. I couldn’t find one at a reasonable price, so I made it.
Built out of two years of testing, the Vandre premium hat is designed for both form and function. With three models in our lineup: flannel from a small-batch Peruvian milll, a statement-making houndstooth from the same small-batch Peruvian millmill, and linen from Ireland’s Baird McNutt mill, we’ve got something for everyone’s taste. The hat style is inspired by bespoke suits with a soft two front panel construction, enough structure to hold its shape while forming to your head.
While you can certainly wear your Vandre hat with a suit, it will pair beautifully with any of the items on our list so far. Our linen is a perfect complement to wearing those clean white sneakers sockless in the summer, our wool flannel matches with literally anything short of linen, and our houndstooth makes just enough of a statement to make you smile.
We also do it at a fraction of the price of designer conglomerates, because we believe you should invest in quality, not a label. I’d also take a Vandre premium hat and put it up against any of these other baseball hats and from a price/quality ratio, it’s unbeatable. It’s handmade, small-batch production with superior external and internal fabric.
The inside is a premium microfiber built to wick sweat, moisture and odor. The interior fabric is a signature Maui Blue color giving the interior that boldness, similar to the inside of a custom suit.
Each component of the hat has been elevated, from the interior sweatband, the grommet and press closure, the genuine leather strap and even a reinforced bill on the hat.
A Stunning Coat
A pullover or zip-up fleece jacket may be the default for many. Sadly, it still is here in the Midwest. There isn’t too much wrong with running from the car to the gym in one of these, and it’s definitely what to reach for on a hike. But, if you’re doing anything other than that, I’d suggest rethinking your choice.
Of course, a “stunning coat” can mean different things for different guys. If you want maximum versatility, I’d recommend one in a medium brown, camel color. Whether you go single or double breasted is up to you, but it's far easier to dress down a more formal coat than to try to dress up a casual jacket.
For rakish nonchalance, consider one in a larger black and gray herringbone or glen check. For bonus points that only eagle-eyed sartorialists will pick up, see if you can find one with a raglan sleeve. This is where the shoulder seam is sewn at an angle instead of at the shoulder bone. It serves both form and function- the sleeve will drape more smoothly across your shoulders and, if you’re wearing a suit jacket underneath, helps to keep freedom of movement.
Wool or Cashmere Sweatpants
When you think about it, chunky cotton sweatpants and t-shirts actually don’t breathe well. They also don’t flatter you well, either. (Which might actually be kind of the point…but, I digress.) At the risk of contradicting myself from earlier, I’m okay with wearing sweatpants in public. I’ve got a couple suggestions for pulling it off, though.
First, consider fabric. Instead of cheap cotton, invest a little more in merino wool-or, if you’re feeling especially luxurious, cashmere. These will go a long way in regulating body temperature- both of these fibers are pleasantly breathable. Wool is also naturally antimicrobial and won’t retain the sweat odor cotton does. They won’t need to be washed as frequently, which is great for both the planet and your water bill. The fabric also blends best with heavier coats.
Second, consider fit. While we’re certainly not advocating leggings here, a tapered fit on a sweatpant can go a long way. It elongates your legs and gives a much cleaner silhouette on the lower half. The streamline fit makes it far easier to dress up and show off a clean pair of kicks.
White Leather Sneakers
Speaking of kicks, the leather ‘dress sneaker’ has been on the minds of fashion plates since Common Projects burst onto the scene in 2004. But, Silicon Valley sneakerheads pairing loud models from Lanvin and Louboutin have perhaps given the look a bad name. So, how to do it right?
Look for materials before the label on the tongue. You want a shoe made with full grain leather instead of ‘top grain’ or ‘genuine’ leather. Full grain will come from the thickest part of the hide, and the leather will not have been buffed or sanded to disguise imperfections. Also, look for leather on the footbed as well. While cotton is common, far cheaper to produce, and more instantaneously comfortable- it absorbs sweat and foot odor. Yikes!
A leather insole will mold to your foot, creating a supremely comfortable ride. As leather is, of course, a natural material, it will absorb the odor far better than a cotton or EVA foam insole will. A genuine rubber outsole, such as Italy’s Margom rubber, will also give a comfortable ride while offering durability and support.
A pair of sneakers with waves or dragons on them might look cool at the moment. But, they actually don’t pair well with much else in a truly versatile wardrobe. To get the maximum mileage out of your sneakers, I’d recommend starting out with a solid white pair. White laces, white upper, white bottom-everything. You can wear them with jeans, chinos, shorts, or those cashmere sweatpants on your Starbucks run.
As many of us are opting for sneakers over Oxfords these days, you might want a second or third pair in your rotation. Here, I’d suggest keeping the bottoms white. But, consider what kind of color palette you tend to have in your wardrobe. If you wear a lot of earth tones- reds, greens, and browns-go for a pair with a medium to dark-brown upper. If you tend to wear urban neutrals- blacks, grays, or whites- go for a pair with a black upper.
Buy the best quality you can afford, and you’ll walk many miles in your shoes. The pair above is from a brand called Koio that I highly recommend.
A Watch Worth Wearing
Perhaps consumers are getting wise, but I’ve been seeing far less of a push from ‘fashion’ watches on my social media channels. I believe it to be a very good thing. As regular readers may recall, I purchased (well it was actually a gift from my wife) a Rolex Turn-O-Graph. It was the culmination of the better part of a decade of searching, saving, and (obsessively) researching to find the perfect model for my taste and personality. Is a Rolex expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? In my mind, absolutely.
A timepiece like this on my wrist every day is a nod to both the quality and design I look for in every aspect of my life. It doesn’t have to be a Rolex, of course. Omega, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Cartier put out amazing watches. Hamilton, Tissot, and Seiko also punch far above their price point.
It’s easy to default into digital watches or whatever smartwatch model Apple or Samsung release at the latest hyped-up launch event. For me, though, the satisfaction of a sweeping second hand and delicate tick-tick of an automatic movement is worth more than being able to read a text message from my wrist.
A watch, though, should say a little something about you. It can be understated, with a clean white or silver dial, Roman numerals, and saber hands. Or, it can be a little funky- like mine, with a blue sunburst dial and a bright red second hand.
But, ultimately, it should be something you get satisfaction from slipping on.
A Few Thoughts on Everyday Luxury
A coat at the lower price point will be made with a blend at best, and entirely manmade materials at worst. The synthetics may keep you quite warm, but they don’t regulate your body heat the way natural materials would. It may sound counterintuitive, but you’ll end up sweating and overheating- even if it’s 20 degrees outside. Additionally, the dyes will bleed and leak should you choose to wash or dry-clean the item.
You’ll also get better design, as the manufacturer has invested in the labor hours to craft a piece designed for longevity, not sketched to chase the latest trend. There’s a reason people are wearing Harris Tweed from the 1960’s and not H&M from 2015.
True ‘luxury’ products haven’t changed all that much since their inception. While the case sizes on wristwatches have definitely gotten much larger in the last 30 years, the overall design really hasn’t changed much. A Cartier Tank XL is, essentially, a supersized version of the original piece Louis Cartier designed for soldiers on the Western Front back in 1917.
Most importantly, better quality materials and more thoughtful, insightful design create a better overall experience. I put my Turn-O-Graph on my wrist every day, whether I’m in a suit or in a pair of joggers doing a coffee run, and I think of what it took to put it there.
I think of the design, craftsmanship, and relentless pursuit of people at Rolex to bring the best possible product to market. And, I think of the work I do, and what the watch represents for me. When I do, I’m more aware. More focused. More driven. There’s something to be said for wearing your ‘good’ stuff every day.
I selected each of these of the above pieces for a reason. They’re versatile, practical, and relatable for people who find themselves adapting to a less-formal style of dress than perhaps they once did.
A statement coat is easy to dress up or down. If you invest in something truly well made, there’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to pass it down to your children. A pair of wool or cashmere joggers is indeed a nod to the casual nature of the modern world. But, a reminder that design and materials trump the garment itself. You’ll be able to feel the difference from the second you slip them on.
A good pair of sneakers that aren’t loud ‘designer’ models or running shoes will take you a long way, especially if you go for full-grain leather with minimal branding and neutral colorway. A ball cap made with superior materials, like ours at Vandre, takes a once-humble garment up a notch. The heft of a well-made timepiece is a little reminder of the dedication the maker put into manufacturing it, and the work you put it to acquiring it.
Your sense of what is luxurious may not be a watch, a hat, or a coat. Perhaps it’s a car you saved up for. Or your first pair of truly benchmade work boots. It may not be anything material at all. Perhaps ‘Everyday Luxury’ to you is the 30 minutes you get entirely to yourself to sit and read.
I suppose, then, that’s one of the fun parts about ‘luxury’ making it so difficult to define. But, those ‘in the know’ know it when they see it. And, if you can see a little luxury every day, isn’t that a good thing?
As always, contact me with any questions!