About Michael Snytkin

Michael Snytkin grew up in Europe and fell in love with fashion from the young age. Now, an attorney in Florida, Michael balances his wardrobe between traditional and modern, and constantly strives to improve his style.

Stressing Before The Big Day Or What I Wore For My Wedding

In June of 2007, I was struck by the cupid’s arrow and “big day” was set for June 19, 2010. My future wife’s continuous planning of her wedding outfit and my busy work schedule caused me no time to think about my ensemble. As a result, with a little over than a month before the wedding day, I did not have a wedding suit. And so, the search began. Lack of time, however, meant that a MTM suit was out of question and I had to proceed with a RTW. I did not want a traditional tuxedo or a morning coat, but wanted to opt for something a bit more slick and contemporary. I knew that I wanted a double breasted grey or blue peak lapel suit. Throwing money and caution to the wind, I ordered a chalk grey double breasted Borrelli Napoli wool and silk blend suit. After a two week wait for delivery, I had a suit that did not fit me – it was too tight in the chest and the abdominal area.

Thus, with a little over two weeks to go, I had no wedding suit. I hinted to my fiancé that maybe I should wear one of my business suits to the wedding but that idea was quickly vetoed. I subsequently spent multiple hours each day going from store to store and looking through online retailers but no progress was made. That it until the day I saw my wedding suit. I was browsing through Yoox and one suit immediately caught my eye. I previously wrote about Lardini and how the brand favorably compares to higher end garments. This suit looked very British – striped, one buttoned peak lapel made from viscose and wool, yet there was something unmistakably Italian about it. I quickly placed it in my shopping cart and chose the expedited shipping option.

Three days later, the suit arrived. Fortunately it fit well and only required the trousers to be cuffed. I dressed it up with a white French cuff Barba shirt with black mother of pearl Dunhill cufflinks, a black tie and white silk pocket square by Stefano Ricci, and black Romano Martegani captoes. A honeymoon in Spain followed, but I will save that for another time.

lardini-wedding

Camiceria Mazzarelli

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While most clothing enthusiasts are familiar with the “usual suspects” in the shirt making industry, e.g., Barba, Finamore, Borrelli, the list can go on and on, there are plenty of smaller camicerias all over Italy that have been crafting handmade shirts to rival and even supersede the aforementioned brands. Let’s add Mazzarelli to that list.

Mazzarelli was started by Marino Mazzarelli in 1951 as a cobblery shop. In 1960, Marino made a seamless transition from supple footwear leather to exquisite shirt fabrics. Now, fifty years later, the third generation team led by Domenico Mazzarelli is in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations and set to uphold the family tradition.

Each Mazzarelli shirt is independently manufactured in the Mazzarelli facility in Castellana Grotte in the province of Bari, and each individual component is cut and shaped by hand (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s77o_imcpN8).

domenico-mazzarelli-with-po1Shirt collars, sleeves, plackets, and mother of pearl buttons are all sewn by hand. Even with this degree of attention to detail and production standards, it still came as a surprise when Mazzarelli received an order for three shirts for Pope Benedict XVI.

“Ready to Wear” Mazzarelli shirts fit slim but not tight: high in the armpits, tight around the shoulders, with tapered waist. Shirts are comfortable with minimal neck space to make sure the tie “sits” properly. Sleeves are just right while cuffs are somewhat narrow around the wrist, with enough space, however, to wear a watch. My Mazzarelli shirts are composed from a blend of cotton, nylon, and elastane. The aforementioned combination is sturdy while pliable, and provides the wearer with great comfort. This “marriage” of old-fashioned tailoring and high-tech, progressive concepts is something that Mazzarelli wants to expand on in the future.

While Mazzarelli is not “officially” sold in the United States, the company has a domestic representative, Giacomo, who can be reached by e-mail (giacomo@gtmoda.com).

Searching For Quality Pants at Daffy’s, NYC

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While in New York on a business trip, I decided to search for the much hyped Incotex and Mabitex pants to add to my business and casual wardrobe.  For those unfamiliar with these brands, there is plenty of discussion in these pages as well as the internet fora.  The mecca for the aforementioned trousers is Daffy’s, a discount retailer of merchandise, which offers both brands with tags cut out, however, at ridiculously low prices (I must add that there is nothing else of interest at Daffy’s for a discerning buyer, as its mostly fashion clothing).  With this information at hand and with plenty of time to spare, I decided to visit the three locations closest to my hotel.

The Madison location at 335 Madison Avenue had the largest selection of Incotex and Mabitex at cheap prices: $14.99-$24.99 for cotton and $24.99-$34.99 for flannel and wool.  The first complication, however, arose when trigger-happy small town me brought 14 pairs of pants to the men’s dressing room only to realize that there is only one changing room the size of porta-potty and only six items at a time were allowed.  Another quick realization while trying on the pants: I gained weight!  I could no longer fit into my regular size pants, especially since Incotex makes them a bit on a slim side.  Irritated by the weight gain, I still kept trying to squeeze into the nicest pairs I picked but to no success.  My irritability grew further due to the fact that there was no air-conditioning and that every few minutes I heard a knock by another customer inquiring as to when I was going to get out.  Finally fed up with the situation, I left all the pants hanging and walked out.  Not my finest moment to say the least.

Feeling bad about the experience and, more importantly, about all the pants I could have bought, but deciding against coming back to the same location, I moved my sights to one of the Broadway locations at 462 Broadway.  To my pleasant surprise, this location had plenty of pants and plenty of dressing rooms.  This time, I made sure to size up and ended up buying four pants: two pairs of cotton Incotex in chocolate brown and sky blue and two pairs of Mabitex, in light beige flannel and steel gray wool.  Total damage: $90 and change.

On to the final location at 1311 Broadway, I did not realize that this is all the way in TriBeCa district.  Hence, I had to take a cab.  This location just like the Madison location has only one changing room.  After about fifteen minutes searching, I was able to purchase one more pair of Mabitex, in heather gray wool for a staggering $19.99.

All in all, in three hours on a cold winter Friday afternoon, I was able to purchase five pairs of high end business and casual pants for just over $110.  And while Daffy’s is not the most accommodating store around, the bargains on pants that often retail for $225 a piece would make me do it all over again.

My Foray Into Santoni

My lengthy search for a double monkstrap ended when I laid my eyes on the Castagna model by Santoni. I have been searching for a pair of shoes that I could wear to work as well as in more causal settings, and this particular model seemed perfect. A few months back, I tried on a “similar” looking shoe by Canali at Neiman Marcus in San Diego. The Canali leather felt rubbery and after five minutes of carpet wear, the shoes formed visible creases. This is not to say that I did not have my reservations about the particular Santoni because this was another internet purchase and Santoni is notorious for unorthodox sizing. What sold me, however, was that this particular model was from the fatte a mano (made-by-hand) line and cost less than the overpriced Canali. With that in mind, I made the purchase.

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Santoni was founded by Andrea and Rosa Santoni in 1975, and gained its popularity by creating hand-made shoes that exhibited quality craftsmanship but also fashion forward styling the Italians are well known for. Just like Ferragamo (Tramezza, Lavarazione, Studio) and Testoni (Amedeo, Black Label, Studium), Santoni has multiple lines of quality. The highest of the Santoni lines is the “Signature” line which is entirely handmade. Next up is the “Fatte a Mano”-“tan sock” (i.e., the lining inside the shoe) which is entirely hand finished and antiqued. Then, there is “Fatte a Mano”-“orange sock” which is hand antiqued, followed by “Santoni Goodyear”, “Santoni” and “Nuvola” lines which are all decent but nothing to write home about. The top three lines are mostly Blake, Goodyear, Norvegese, or Bentivegna constructed (for more in depth information on Shoe Construction, check out J. Cusey’s webpage at askandyaboutclothes.com), and retail anywhere from $600 to $1200 plus.

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My shoes are “Fatte a Mano”-“orange sock”, are Blake constructed and hand antiqued. They fit true to size, if not a bit roomy due to a somewhat pointy toe design. The double buckle closure, however, holds the foot in place for a comfortable fit. Compared to my Ferragamo Tramezzas, the Santoni is more substantial in size and weight. This is not to say that they are heavy or uncomfortable during wear. As seen from my amateurish pictures, the shoes have a purple hand painted sole, which is usually used on the more “fashion forward” Santoni models. The hand finish is evident in the different color of each shoe.

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Santoni shoes are sold at Nordstom and Neiman Marcus. You won’t, however, find many attractive models or shoes from the fatte a mano lines there. Those who earn to see and try on fatte a mano Santoni shoes in person should visit the Santoni flagship store in New York, located at 864 Madison Avenue, but don’t be shocked by the exorbitant prices.

P.S.  Thanks to Style Forum and Ask Andy About Clothes for Santoni research.

Stingy Always Pays Twice

bargain-yoox

Still gleaming over my recent Lardini find, I decided to order more clothes from Yoox’s Final Sale. I settled on three jackets and a pair of jeans, all by makers unknown to me. The prices were cheap, however, so I decided to proceed with the purchases, against my better judgment, and entered my credit card information.

When the items arrived, my excitement turned to sadness. First jacket by a company called Tonello, while in my size, was at least a size too small; no alterations would allow it to fit properly. The second jacket by a company called Deuxieme, suffered from the same problem. I am no body builder, but these Italian fashion designer labels are not meant to fit grown men. The third jacket by Messagerie was too roomy and will require at least $50 worth of alterations (sides taken in, extra fabric taken from the back, faux buttons opened), where the original price of $55 is no longer enticing. As a result, I decided to sell the jackets. I will keep the jeans by Patrizia Pepe, but this is the first and last time I will buy fashion jeans. It will take a while for me to be able to comfortably wear them in public without thinking of Bruno, but my fiancée likes them, so the worst I can do is to make her happy.

What made the matters worse is that the sale of my merchandise was final.  I am out $312, no big deal, but I could have spent the money in a wiser manner. The “likes” of Messagerie, Tonello, and Deuxieme are not exactly household names, and I should have been much more discerning as a buyer rather than rely on cheap prices, especially when there is a perfectly fitting mainline Zegna jacket available at my local Saks for $299.

Overall, this experience taught me a valuable lesson: don’t buy clothes because they are on sale but buy them because you like them and they will fit you well. Hence the saying my great grandmother always used to say resonated in my brain: the stingy always pays twice.