Style and Tech for Men

Style and Tech for Men delivers premium style, gear and entertainment content for men.

Eco-conscious Wardrobe Basics

Going green is big business these days. Environmentally conscious consumers have plenty of choices when it comes to what goes in their grocery carts, what’s parked in their driveways, and what product they use on their bodies. But when it comes to the gear that resides in their closets, eco-friendly pickings are slim at best. And most of them are still designed for the Petrulli oil-using, Birkenstock-wearing crowd.

But that’s about to change.

A growing number of fashion-forward companies have begun to explore ethical sourcing: The use of sustainable materials and new technologies is now making eco-fashion more accessible and stylistically appealing to the average guy.

So forget about all the clothes you have or the clothes you want: These are the essential items that every man must own to live a comfortable, well-dressed life -- and all of them are made in a manner that is safe for the environment.

White Dress Shirt
If you only own one shirt, make it crisp and white. A white button-down or spread collar will go with almost anything and can be worn in almost any situation.

When it comes to eco-approved shirts and other apparel, certified organic cotton is the fabric of choice. Non-organically grown cotton is chemically dependent and, thus, harmful to both the immediate environment and the farmers who harvest it. Organic cotton is grown without synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, and thus doesn’t destroy the land it’s grown on and isn’t harmful to handle.

Boll Organic, started by twin brothers Kent and Kevin Russell after they couldn’t find quality, organic cotton dress-shirts, offers one of the best options for the very reasonable price of $35.

Polo Shirt
Next to jeans, the polo shirt is one of the most popular items in a man’s wardrobe for good reason: It looks great in any casual situation and is easy to care for. Outdoor clothing specialist Patagonia has a long track record for producing earth-friendly fashion, offering up a wide selection of polo shirt styles and colors made from organic cotton, ranging in price from $50 to $70.

Khakis
Like jeans, khakis are a staple of the American wardrobe. Casual, yet dressy, Nau’s People’s Chinos, $135, have a stylish slim fit and are made from 100 percent organically grown cotton.

Jeans
Products can be good for the environment in a number of ways. In the case of Roy Denim, the product is eco-friendly because one guy (that would be Roy) makes each and every pair himself. Roy cuts every pattern, sews every stitch, forms each belt loop and even creates the branded leather tags one letter at a time. No huge factory, no trucks or planes crossing the globe carrying loads of mass-produced denim -- just a man and a bunch of recycled machines. When it comes to a company with a tiny carbon footprint, Roy is hard to beat -- even though his jeans ring in at a hefty $275 a pair.

Blazer or Sport Coat
Versatile and classic, a quality blazer or sport coat can be worn in any situation. You can dress it up with a pair of wool pants and a dress shirt for special occasions, or down with jeans and a T-shirt for a leisurely night on the town.

One of the most sustainable, versatile and eco-friendly materials around, hemp also seems to be the fabric of choice among eco-conscious suit makers. It has long been used for fine clothing (actor Woody Harrelson even had Burberry create a custom hemp tuxedo for the 2010 Academy Awards), it looks like linen and it is incredibly durable. Plus, it’s used to make everything from super-luxe, high-fashion houndstooth sport coats from Brunello Cucinelli, on sale for $1,599.99 on Bluefly.com, to inexpensive blazers (under $160) from Rawganique.

Dress Shoes
Most men don’t give their shoes much thought. Big mistake, boys. Shoes finish the fashion statement. Go for a basic, classically styled model; it’s more versatile (i.e., it can be dressed up or down).

U.K.-based Vegetarian Shoes creates classic styles using a breathable synthetic microfiber material often found in yachting upholstery. Our favorite is the sleek antique brogue style, about $113, which has a modern profile that works equally well with a three-piece suit or a pair of jeans.

Sneakers
Casual footwear doesn’t have to shine like dress shoes, but it should still be neat, clean and presentable. So leave those funky-smelling, ratty-looking running or workout sneakers on the porch when you go out on the town, especially since eco-friendly kicks are one of the easiest green fashion items to find.

One of the coolest pairs is the retro-inspired Tauas, about $151 from Veja. The name comes from the region in Brazil where the organic cotton used to make the shoes is sustainably grown; the shoes also feature a sole made from wild rubber.

The New Deejay’s Guide to Gear

A party (impromptu gathering of friends, cousin’s shotgun wedding, dinner party gone awry, whatever) isn’t a party without good tunes. That means someone has to step up behind the ones and twos and deejay the hell out of the thing. And today, that’s easier than ever before.

Back in the day, deejays had to lug around crates of bulky, heavy equipment and hundreds of records. For those born after 1980, records are those bulky vinyl discs played on turntables. They might sound better than CDs or MP3s, but they are not very portable. Now music is all digitized. (ITunes killed the audiophile, baby -- for better or worse.) And while analog still has its place for sure, it’s rarely in the deejay booth.

To get a handle on what a modern turntablist needs to get started, we rang up hip-hop legend Kay Gee, deejay of Naughty By Nature. In the two decades since NBN debuted -- and won the first Grammy ever for Best Rap Album in 1992 -- the deejay’s lot has been completely revolutionized. And poignantly, KG confirmed the point, having just come off a month-long globetrotting tour to promote the upcoming release of Naughty’s 20th anniversary album, Anthem, Inc.

“Nothing against analog, because that’s where it started, but digital is it,” says KG. “You gotta embrace technology. I used to have to carry my crates of vinyl, turntables, mixer and all on the road. Now I just carry my laptop.”

So what do you need to become an aspiring deejay? KG walks us through his setup and provides advice on what newbies should look for:

Get a Pair of Cans
The most important tool a deejay has -- besides musical taste -- is his or her ears, and so quality headphones (aka “cans”), are a must. KG recommends Sony’s classic MDR7506 studio monitors ($130): “There are other headphones out there, but I love these. They fold up and are durable and strong.” Which is a good point: Headphones get beat up easily. So whatever you opt for, make sure they are well-built. Comfort is also a major consideration. If you are going to wear headphones for hours on end, make sure they sit over and outside your ears; the larger the cup size, the better. Similarly, a soft fabric will minimize the pressure on your ears and head.

Lay out for a Laptop
No surprise, but the laptop is the key ingredient in any music setup today. You’ll use it to rip and store your tunes and create sounds, beats, songs and playlists. When you’re performing, it’s the brain behind all the equipment in a deejay booth. KG uses a 15-inch MacBook Pro (starting at $1,800). They’re extremely durable, they’re relatively lightweight (at 5.6 pounds) and thin (less than 1 inch), they pack a 500 GB drive for a good amount of storage, and they have a solid seven-hour battery life.

As we all know, when laptops aren’t being dropped, they’re being swiped, so you’ll also want to carry a backup of your hard drive. But only rely on the laptop’s internal storage for performances. “I like to have all my music inside my computer because the fewer hookups you have, the fewer problems you can run,” explains the deejay.

Connect It All Together
Let us dispel any thoughts you have of just slapping together a playlist and plugging your laptop into speakers. That’s not deejaying; that’s babysitting. We’re talking deejaying here.

Software: While you might have the benefit of instant access to your entire music collection through your laptop, the simplicity of the old analog days -- using a mixer to switch between two turntables -- is gone. In order to mix between songs, beat match and scratch, or perform any other deejay tricks, you’ll need DVS (Digital Vinyl System) software -- click here for more info.

There are a bunch of programs you could try, but the standard among pros is Serato Scratch Live.  “It’s become the digital crate,” says KG. “And hey, it’s free!”

Turntables: KG recommends the Numark TTX ($400 each), a midrange direct-drive unit with pitch control, replaceable S or straight tone-arm, a BPM meter and a host of other deejay-centric features. (The TTXUSB has a built-in USB port so you can go completely digital directly to your laptop.)

Control Vinyl: Control Vinyl is a record with a time code engraved in it (instead of a song) to use with a pair of turntables. The idea is that when you play the record, it sends a signal to your laptop that syncs the turntable with whatever song you’ve selected. Manipulate the record faster or slower, or scratch, and your laptop does that to whatever song is selected.

Interface Box: In order to make all this work together, a DVS-compatible interface, mixer or USB controller is a must. While KG opts for the pro-level Rane TTM 57SL, it costs about $2,000 and frankly is more than a newbie can handle. So opt for a stripped-down interface box instead, like the Rane SL2 ($499). Plug your turntables or CD players in to the box and the computer, and you’re up and running, controlling music on your laptop using your turntables.

Mixer/Fader: Finally, you’ll also want a mixer/fader to switch between tunes and adjust the EQs. We like the Numark M1USB Scratch Mixer ($99), which is simple enough for a beginner, but solid enough for a pro.

Now all that’s left is a few hundred hours of practice -- and an audience willing to listen.

How to Wear a Hawaiian Shirt

The Aloha shirt is back just in time for the new season of “Hawaii Five-0.” But before you begin rummaging through your closet for your dad’s “Magnum PI” line of fine menswear, you should know that Hawaiian shirts have undergone a major image makeover.

According to Honolulu-based designer Amos Kotomori, who launched his exclusive Aloha shirt collection at Neiman Marcus last fall, Hawaiian shirts are no longer considered tacky attire for summer slackers or Jimmy Buffet backers. They’re now available in muted colors and refined designs. So the dress code that was once reserved for the beach or the backyard barbeque has made its way into business meetings, night clubs and even romantic dinners.

“The time and occasion for an Aloha shirt is really all about the confidence of the wearer,” says Kotomori, whose unique designs each tell a story. “These days, Aloha shirts are often worn tucked in, especially by professionals and those who want a more upscale look.”

Beyond the monumental tucking development, the distinctive Hawaiian apparel can also be made over by pairing it with solid ties and sports coats. “Aloha shirts can be part of a very sophisticated ensemble,” adds Kotomori. “It’s a place where Hawaiian culture meets the rest of the world.”

Aloha Chic Sheet
If you’re fortunate enough to live in the American paradise known as Hawaii, where everything -- including fashion -- is a little more relaxed, you may want to model your look after Alex O’Loughlin’s wardrobe as the new Detective Steve McGarrett in “Hawaii Five-0 .” But if you’re landlocked in one of the 48 contiguous states, you can bring a little luau into the mainland look as well. Kotomori has you covered -- with the right shirt for the right time.

Company Picnic
Mixing business with pleasure can be a challenge, but Kotomori feels you can pull off this relaxed -- but put-together -- look by wearing a fitted, long-sleeve white T-shirt (for extra sun protection) underneath a pressed, pale-blue and white Aloha shirt. Once you add khaki walking shorts and brown sandals to the ensemble, you’ll be ready to flip burgers with your friends and colleagues at the company cookout.

Business Casual
“At the office or in another professional environment, try a monochromatic silk or linen shirt (Tommy Bahama , $110) with a simple motif,” advises Kotomori. “Wear it tucked into black slacks, together with a black belt and dress shoes.” It’s the same cut, but with a more restrained color presentation.

Nightclub
Vintage Hawaiian shirts  are hot -- and club-goers have taken notice. “Try wearing one tucked into a pair of beltless, dark weathered Levis,” says Kotomori. “The retro look is really in, and they look great.”

Romantic Summer Dinner
If you’re springing for a nice gourmet meal with the girl of your dreams, you’ll want to stand out from the crowd. Kotomori recommends updating the typical men’s summer uniform of navy-blue sports coat, pale-blue oxford shirt, and yellow tie. Try wearing the same navy jacket paired with a muted yellow Aloha shirt and khaki slacks to catch a wave of admiring looks.

Formal Event
Don’t be surprised if a little more Hawaiian color might be making a splash at weddings and red-carpet events in the not-too-distant future. “I’m designing a long-sleeve, pleated tuxedo shirt right now,” says Kotomori. “I’d have someone wear it in black silk with a purple and navy blue print.”

Mother-in-Law’s Birthday Party
So if your wife’s mom thinks your Luau look is just another symbol that you are an underachieving Margaritaville mook, let her know that Aloha shirts continue to be a major economic player in the men’s market. Today, 30 percent of shirts produced in Hawaii are shipped out of state with a return of $160 million.

So now when she calls you a useless slacker … at least you can say you’re a stylish one!