Modern Bear Wear ~ Holiday!

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Photo courtesy of DestinationXL

One could argue that Santa was the original Style Bear. What with that red velvet jacket and pants, the white fur trim (faux of course), and those black leather boots! WOOF! The man has a signature style all his own and has stuck to his fearless fashion pedigree since – well since he first began delivering toys to all the good little girls and boys of the world.

If Santa can style for the holidays, so can you! Have a couple of parties, special events or festive gatherings on your upcoming calendar? If so, it’s time to think about what to wear.

First things first. Get into your closet and dig out your best green and red attire. Uh oh, have none? Never fear. There are plenty of colors that are perfectly acceptable for the season’s soirees. Purple, grey, black (yes black) and burnt orange all show up as dressy. Think jewel tones. Although red and green are the de riguer hues of this, the most wonderful time of the year, the simple fact is that most guys don’t have a lot of clothing in these colors. If you’re like me, you are overstocked with blue, white, brown and tan. Not all that festive.

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Photo courtesy of DestinationXL

While deciding what to put wear for your event, try to keep in mind the venue and location. Parties that are crowded can be on the warm side. No one likes sweaty guests, right? Think lightweight. Macys.com has a great selection of festive holiday sweaters for XL men. Although sweaters look dressy, they can make you too warm and uncomfortable. If you do decide to don one, consider a merino or cashmere wool v-neck, perhaps in a vest. Just don’t wear a thick, long-sleeve crew neck. You’ll be sorry.

Parties with a more casual tone call for fun shirts and corduroys. Dressy shirt designs by English Laundry are fun and have a lot of style. They come in larger sizes at Beso.com. Cords look really sharp too, and lately they are coming in a wider variety of colors. Couple them with some nice lace up boots from Cole Haan or Johnston & Murphy and you’re set.

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If the event is on the formal side, consider a nice jacket. Velvet is a good choice and you can find them in abundance at this time of year. Black, burgundy and even purple velvet jackets with a whimsically designed undershirt can make a great statement at any holiday party. It’s even acceptable these days to wear a nice pair of jeans with a fancy coat and shirt. If it’s a tuxedo you need, check out MensWarehouse.com. They have reasonably priced tuxes in larger sizes.

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Let’s talk about shoes. I prefer loafers over lace ups as loafers often are designed with a lot of flair. Shiny buckles atop these slip ons add sparkle and shine to any man’s outfit. If money is no object, take a look at the fun styles from Alexander McQueen or Salvatore Ferragamo. Their footwear can be found at their signature boutiques or Saks Fifth Avenue. If you’re a little more frugal with your footwear, check out the outlet stores like Nordstrom Rack or Neiman Marcus’ Last Call.

Finally, once the party is over and you’re ready to snuggle up to your teddy bear, you can still be fashionable with your furry friend. Go comfy with some fun plaid flannel pajamas from Ralph Lauren or Joe Boxer. They offer plus sizes and sexy styles for lounging in your bear den while you wind down from all the festivities.

No matter what you decide to wear, make sure you feel comfortable in your clothing. Nothing is worse than trying to enjoy a holiday party in an outfit that is ill fitting or not your style. But be brave and take a chance this year. Be colorful and unique. If you can’t be bold and brassy at holiday time, when can you?

Happy Holidays everybody!

Writer and Style Bear John White contributes regular columns on men’s fashion and where to find it for the Bear community.
Writer and Style Bear J.R. White contributes regular columns on men’s fashion, grooming and lifestyle for the Bear community.

Modern Bear Wear

We all know what defines a bear; big, beefy, hairy, bearded and masculine. But what defines a bear’s style? Do the clothes make the man? Are you trapped in the same old flannel shirt, tank top or t-shirt with some stale quote like ‘Bear With Me’? Well gents, it’s time you stepped out of your cotton comfort zones and took some chances with your clothing. Let’s get out of our collective ruts and start modernizing our wardrobes. We are calling on you to be Modern Bears. Let’s get busy!

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“I’ve tried to update my clothes, but I can’t find anything that fits”, is the reality to a frustrating challenge for many of us; shopping. I myself am 6′ and 235 pounds and I got to the point where I hated going to the mall. I just couldn’t find anything that fit. Granted, you can find occasional 2X and 3X sizes, but it’s more common than not that retailers usually stock sizes S-M-L-XL. And if you want to dress in designer fashions, forget it. Labels like Gucci, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana don’t even make sizes above XL. Those bitches!

The task of finding fashion forward clothing is next to impossible at most brick-and-mortar stores. Grrrrrr! But never fear my brothers. There are contemporary fashions to be found online at many clothing etailers. We are here to help you navigate through some of the best webstores and style sites for the bear community.

One of my favorite places to shop online is at Zappos.com. This fabulous retailer started out exclusively selling shoes but as they became more and more popular, they decided to branch out into clothing. Zappos became popular because they offer free shipping BOTH WAYS. This is especially helpful for us plus-sized men as there really is no risk. Order what you like in the sizes you need, try them on at home, and if they don’t fit – ship them back for free. What I like best about this website is that they offer designs from top fashion houses like Hugo Boss, 7 Diamonds and True Religion in sizes up to 4XL. You’ll never find offerings in these sizes at regular department stores.

Lacoste shirt offered in larger sizes from zappos.com
Lacoste shirt offered in larger sizes from Zappos.com

Another relatively new website for bigger men is DestinationXL.com. This is the site from well known retailers Casual Male and Rochester Big and Tall. If it’s BIG sizes you are looking for, this is the place. DestinationXL offers waist sizes up to 66 and shirts up to 7XL. DXL has offerings from leading designers such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Robert Graham and Brooks Brothers as well as their own private label brand. The clothes here tend to be a little less expensive than Zappos but they have less of a selection. It’s a site definitely worth checking out.

Suit featured from Destinationxl.com
Suit featured from DestinationXL.com

Amazon.com has recently entered into the clothing business. Although not as easy to navigate, Amazon does offer a pretty good selection of plus-sized clothes. Their Big and Tall section offers a variety of choices, but there is far less designer offerings. If you have Amazon Prime (their $99 per year free shipping service) then they are a great choice for the basics; underwear, socks and other essentials. Just don’t expect much style here.

Still not sure what your style is? Then check out Chubstr.com. Not only does Chubstr sell some amazing fashions, they offer advice on styling, trends and popular topics for the big man community. You can find articles on clothing design, news on what’s hot and much more. This site is a great resource if you’re trying to find the style that fits you best. Another great site for tips on how to be stylin’ is The Art Of Manliness. It’s really fun and interesting to discover how to feel sophisticated and manly at the same time. Check it out.

Courtesy of chubstr.com
Courtesy of Chubstr.com

The reality is that we all feel good in comfy old jeans and a t-shirt. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a casual wardrobe. But casual isn’t always appropriate. Hopefully after taking a look as some of these websites, you’ll be encouraged to take a few risks and try something new. And shopping in the comfort of your own home without the frustration and tedium of scouring stores only to find smaller sizes is easier now thanks to the web. So pull out your laptops, tablets or smart phones and start exploring. It’s time to step out in style!

Writer and Style Bear John White contributes regular columns on men’s fashion and where to find it for the Bear community.
Writer and Style Bear J.R. White contributes regular columns on men’s fashion, grooming and lifestyle for the Bear community.