Category “Style”

Hlaska, Cool Understated Style

Hlaska Periodic Table

You gotta give geek cred for a shop that has the periodic table as a key design element. I like discovering new brands. I also do my best to support American companies with products made in the U.S. Even better if it’s a local company here in the Bay. With Hlaska, I get all three. Named by mashing up “Alaska” and “Hawai’i”, Hlaska was founded by Anthony Mazzei and Chad Hurley (of YouTube fame for you n00bs) in San Francisco. Hlaska makes great products with understated style. Their bags and small leather goods have a clean look that plays well when you’re dressed up or just wearing casual gear. Check out their great iPad sleeves:

Hlaska iPad Sleeves

Any time I have my Hlaska iPad sleeve, I always get compliments and asked where I got it. For my Dutch friends, here’s your chance to rock a brand I am sure no one else will have in Amsterdam. Made of fine Italian leather that is vegetable-dyed in great colors, these are some of my favorite iPad sleeves. Everyone has a brown or black iPad case or iPad sleeve. Be more adventurous and try Hlaska’s yellow, orange, blue (not pictured), or green. The leather is nice and supple, giving the iPad sleeve enough give so you can fit the iPad 1 and iPad 2, smart cover and all. Soft micro-knit felt lining keeps your iPad nice and cozy. I especially like the industrial twist latch hardware and the convenient outside pocket on the back side. BONUS: these were originally priced at $175 (already a fair deal) but now an absolute steal at $50 as they make way for a new iPad sleeve style. I just snatched up a bunch of colors before they sell out.

That’s the other thing I appreciate about Hlaska. They are constantly revving new versions and styles and do retire prior offerings. So if you find something you like and get in on it while they are available, they will quickly become coveted limited editions. Like my zip document wallet? Can’t get it. I got one of the last ones. Perfectly sized for a smaller gentleman’s clutch when you only need to bring your keys, card case, and smart phone. Don’t fret, they’ve got new designs on the way.

Hlaska Document Wallet

Hlaska have also added some great accessories from great partners. Check out their Pan Am cufflinks from Tokens & Icons, watches from ODM, and sunglasses from Randolph Engineering and Vintage Eyewear.

Randolph Sunglasses Intruder

Randolph Engineering are a premier contractor for military eyewear. If it’s good enough for our folks in uniform when their lives are on the line then you can be damned sure it’ll be good enough for your sunshine lounging. Backed by a lifetime guarantee, if they break send ’em in and Randolph will hook you up.

Carrera Boeing Sunglasses

These were some dead stock Carrera Boeing sunglasses I picked up at Hlaska from Vintage Eyewear. Unless your older brothers and sisters were good about keeping their 80s sunglasses mint, you’re not gonna’ find these just anywhere.

Stop on by and support a Bay Area company and discover a new brand. Come back often for new styles and editions. If you swing by the Santana Row location in San Jose, ask for Ismilda. She’ll help you find just the right pieces to fit your style. Tell her Serge sent ya’.

Some Tailoring Trivia (Bespoke, New Suits, Sewn Pockets, Shoulder Stitch)

Bespoke Suit

Ever wonder why some new suits will have a piece of zigzag thread on the shoulder? Why are new suit coat pockets sewn shut? A friend asked me recently and inexplicably I knew a few of the answers. Don’t ask me why, I just seem to have a weird fascination with collecting completely useless trivia. If they ever come up with a more low-brow version of Jeopardy that had categories like 80s sitcoms or Hanna Barbera cartoons I’m convinced I’d clean up. So for you who have always been curious, here are a few pieces of tailoring trivia:

Baste (or Tack) Stitching on Suits

What is that zigzag stitch on the shoulder of a new suit? This is called a baste or tack stitch. Some may claim this is done to help the suit keep shape during display or transport. That’s bupkis. There’s no way that little piece of thread can add more strength to a finished suit. During the tailoring process, rough stitches that are usually one continuous thread spanning the seam are placed to hold the pieces of the pattern together for a fitting or until a permanent stitch can be placed. This is called a basting or tacking stitch. This stitch is sometimes left on the shoulder of a suit to signify a well-tailored suit. However, some tailors or shops will place one on their suit to exaggerate the quality of a lesser suit.

Bespoke vs Made-to-Measure

What’s the difference between bespoke and made-to-measure? Bespoke tailoring is 100% custom-tailored for the intended wearer. This means the pattern is created directly from measurements and specifications for that unique wearer. You will also go through a series of fittings with the garment in various stages of progress. Made-to-measure garments come from pre-drawn patterns. A customer’s measurements are taken and a garment, like a suit, is selected from that existing pattern that most closely fits the wearer. Unfortunately, some tailors try to use these terms interchangeably and will pass themselves on as bespoke tailors. If your measurements are taken and a suit is taken off the rack–even if it is later altered to better fit you–then you have purchased a made-to-measure suit. There is nothing wrong with this, a suit can be quite well-made and fit you very well. For most, the difference would be unimportant. But it will never compare to a suit that is made for you and only you. From the way the lapels drape, to the fit across the yoke, to the taper of the sleeve, to the creases along the armpits when viewed from behind, a bespoke suit is unmistakable. If you have the means, every gentleman should experience having a truly bespoke suit for themselves. You don’t need to go completely mad paying for a Kiton K-50 suit. Even if it does take more than 50 hours to produce and an army of tailors to create, $50,000 is bonkers to us mere mortals.

Sewn Pockets

Why are the pockets on a new suit or coat sewn shut? There are at least three reasons I’ve learned. Firstly, it helps ensure the correct shape during the pressing process. This is also the reason vents are typically shipped sewn closed. Secondly, it makes the suit look much better during display (it’d seem slovenly to have pockets flopping open or sagging in the store). Finally, it keeps folks’ dirty, grubby paws out of the pockets and potentially damaging the pockets until they’ve paid for it.

Buttons on Opposite Sides

Why are men and women’s buttons on opposite sides? I’ve heard some wacky explanations on this one, but the reasoning that seems most credible to me is that we tend to be prejudiced to right-handed people. For men–who historically dressed themselves–having the buttons on the right side favored the dominant right-handers. Ladies of means usually had a maid dress them, so buttons would be on the left so that the maid–who would be facing the wearer–would have the buttons to their right.

Got any other pieces of cool tailoring trivia? Share in the comments below.

Unique Cufflinks for the Discerning Gentleman


Now that you have that distinguished wardrobe replete with fine, French-cuff shirts you’ll also need suitable cufflinks that make a statement. A pair of boring, commonplace cufflinks simply won’t do. For cufflinks that will mark you a gentleman of style and taste, refer to the following:

Aymara Designs Cufflinks
Aymara Designers

Aymara Designers is an eco-conscious company designing beautiful jewelry pieces. Part of your purchase goes to support the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Garden and Animal Orphanage, the source of the naturally-deceased butterflies used in their designs. I’ve been in touch directly with the good folks at Aymara Designers and can say their customer service and ideation process are fantastic.

Samuel Wright Cufflnks
Samuel Wright

Samuel Wright makes a stunning set of hand set enamel cufflinks. This Fleur de Lys design is offset, capturing two-thirds of the image, giving the viewer a sense of peeking at a work of art. The beautiful silver shine is set off nicely against the slate blue and black enamel.

Murano Glass Cufflinks
Murano Glass

Italian artisans on Murano are known for their craft and skill with glass. Gold leaf is blended into black and colored handblown glass, making each pair unique. Available in red, blue, and green.

Custom QR Code Cufflinks
Custom QR Code

Geek chic cufflinks allow you to customize two different messages for each pair. Rock your email, website, or l337 code. Get your geek on while still looking stylish. There are a few offerings out there, but I found this one from CuffArt.com well-designed, a good size, and produced with quality.

Vintage Watch Movement Cufflinks
Vintage Watch Movement

These cufflinks are made from vintage watch movements and set beautifully. On this one, there are definitely a lot of offerings out there and unless you’re a stickler for the proof of authenticity, most people who see your cufflinks won’t know the difference. They’ll just notice what good taste you have.

Caffiene Molecule Cufflinks
Dopamine Molecular

Talk about geek cred…how about a micrograph of your favorite molecules and compounds? This one is of the all-important, all-night-hackathon molecule, caffeine. In addition to testosterone, and norepinephrine, you can select from your favorite choice in liquid courage.

Babette Wasserman Cufflinks
Babette Wasserman

Babette Wasserman makes beautiful cufflinks. Like this versatile, Swarovski crystal, metallic punk stud cufflinks. The splash of color from the Swarovski crystals ensure that these cufflinks will go great with a lot of different shirt and tie options. Wasserman’s saucer cufflinks are iconic and unique and are sure to invite compliments as well. A hint on the website, the slider isn’t noticeable at first, but be sure to use the slider to scroll through and see all of her amazing cufflinks.

Have your own stylish cufflinks to recommend? Share in the comments below.