Ahead of Cyber Monday sales tomorrow (as the tryptophan hit too hard after Thanksgiving to get it together in time for Black Friday), I wanted to revisit my once-annual tradition of pulling together a holiday gift guide that you could use either when shopping for others… or just looking to fill out your own Christmas list!
The below list combines a mix of inspiration from movies and TV as well as my own favorite things, many of which I wear or use on a regular basis.
CWU-Style Flight Jacket
Although the famous much-patched G-1 leather flight jacket from the original Top Gun made an appearance, Tom Cruise spent much of this year’s well-received follow-up film Top Gun: Maverick wearing this practical yet still-stylish update: the Nomex-shell CWU/36P.
The Budget Option:
N-1 Deck Jacket
The World War II-era N-1 deck jacket authorized by the U.S. Navy delivers an elegantly tough-looking and offbeat alternative to the classic fur-collared flight jacket that’s been favored by screen icons from Paul Newman to Ryan Gosling and even featured on screen in movies like Point Blank as sported by the one and only Lee Marvin.
SIS PTI Tracksuit
SIS Training Gear delivered on a much-requested Bond fan favorite with this screen-accurate reproduction of the PTI training suit that the “resurrected” 007 wears when getting back into fighting shape in Skyfall (2012).
Waxed Trucker Jacket
Ruggedly reliable waxed jackets are having a moment right now, offering a more weather-resistant alternative to the classic denim trucker jacket as recently featured on screen in productions like Yellowstone, The Adam Project, and the latest James Bond movie, No Time to Die.
The Original Beach Boys Board Shirt
The venerated surf rock band’s name was The Pendletones, in reference to the Oregon-based textile mill that made the tough plaid woolen flannel shirts they had appropriated from southern California surf culture. Sixty years after the re-christened band released their first hit single, Pendleton Woolen Mills continues to make board shirts in the blue plaid colorway that the Beach Boys famously wore throughout their early years of fame.
Hawkeye Pierce’s Hibiscus-Print Hawaiian Shirt
When not dressed in his OG-107 Army fatigues, M*A*S*H‘s maverick surgeon Captain “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alan Alda) dressed down to swill his homemade gin martinis in an aloha shirt with a bold white-on-navy blue hibiscus print. Fifty years after the iconic series’ debut, a nearly identical print remains identical as offered from authentic Hawaiian outfitter RJC.
Barrelhead Bar & Grill T-Shirt
In addition to their screen-accurate reproductions and reinterpretations of Daniel Craig’s Skyfall training suit, SIS Training Gear also offers its Spy Collection that includes many “quiet” references to other 007 adventures, like T-shirts and mugs imprinted with the logos and names of establishments from the Bond-verse like Shrublands Health Retreat (Thunderball), Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), and the Barrelhead Bar & Grill (Licence to Kill) where our 00-hero had to shoot and speed his way out of yet another perilous situation.
Interest in the shawl-collar cardigans favored by Steve McQueen was reinvigorated after Daniel Craig, a fan of the “King of Cool”‘s sense of style, wore a black Tom Ford cardigan in Quantum of Solace. Since then, the shawl-collar cardigan has been re-established as a menswear must-have, bringing the style out of our grandfathers’ closets and into the forefront for more than a decade now.
The Budget Option:
The Intermediate Option:
The Lebowski Cardigan
Once you’ve mastered the basics of the cardigan with something as classically stylish as a solid navy shawl-collar sweater, you may be inclined to evolve to bolder weaves or prints like the famous Cowichan knit Pendleton “Westerley” zip-up cardigan worn by Jeff Bridges as the White Russian-sipping protagonist in The Big Lebowski, one of my favorite movies.
If you’re still trying to navigate the ins, outs, and what-have-yous of wearing this type of sweater, there are still some great budget options to ease into your comfort level without needing to reduce yourself to the cheap costume-quality replicas (not that I’m above it, as my Halloween 2021 costume can attest.)
The Budget Option:
The Big Lebowski:
Navy Commando Sweater
Still not convinced that cardigans are right for you? Another rugged knitwear option recently popularized—by Daniel Craig’s James Bond, of course—is the commando-style military sweater, characterized by elbow and shoulder patches. The N.Peal sweater made for Craig to wear in No Time to Die also incorporated the drawstring-adjusted boat-neck borrowed from British military gear (and even seen on screen decades earlier in The Great Escape!)
The Budget Option:
Brown’s Beach Cloth Vest
The name may be a bit misleading as I can’t imagine wearing this tough and warm vest anywhere near the beach on a summer sunny day, but I love the heritage of these classic workwear waistcoats. Originally made by Brown’s Beach from 1901 through 1960 in their proprietary cloth blend of wool and cotton, these are now reproduced by Full Count & Co.
The Brown’s Beach Cloth vest may be most recognizable these days as one of the hardy pieces worn by Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) during his doomed journey in Titanic (1997).
Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest
Another great vest straight from the screen is the Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest worn by John Dutton (Kevin Costner) in the first season of Yellowstone. Filson describes their 24-oz. virgin Mackinaw wool cloth as “manufactured with uncommonly-tight weave [that] excels at blocking the wind and withstands hard use for decades… There’s a very good reason it’s been a cornerstone in the Filson product line for more than half a century—it performs admirably in countless situations out of doors, or in.”
Double RL Jeans
I was late to the Yellowstone game, finally starting the series this year, but—like so many, including my friend Iconic Alternatives—it was easy to get caught up in the Western style fever. Thus, you’ll see quite a bit of ranch-inspired fashions on this list, including a modern update of the Ralph Lauren “Double RL” jeans that Kevin Costner had liked so much that first-season costume designer Ruth E. Carter reproduced more than a dozen pairs of the discontinued style for the actor to wear both on- and off-screen.
There are a few current iterations of RRL denim, but the closest to JD-style jeans will have that Western “bug and wrinkle”-like medallion stitching across the back pockets.
Levi’s 541 Jeans
I’m not inclined to dictate rules of menswear, but I think that most men know by the time they’re 30 what kind of jeans they prefer. For me, it was an evolution from my all-too-tearable Hollister jeans in high school, through American Eagle and its sadly short-lived “mature” brand Martin + Osa in college, then finally exploring the realm of Levi’s. The 501 Original Fit never felt right, but I settled like a glove into the 541 Athletic Taper (despite not being much of an athlete), made from a blend of predominantly cotton with enough polyester and elastane to provide stretch for what Levi’s calls a “relaxed feel with a slightly tailored fit.”
Blundstone 1609 Chelsea Boots
I’ve long been a fan of Chelsea boots, having long been a devotee of Timberland boots. (Was David Duchovny’s style as Hank Moody on Californication an influence? I plead the fifth.) However, after needing to replace several pairs of Tims—whether for worn-out soles, busted pull tabs, or any other stress beyond the usual wear-and-tear—I realized it was time to find a new brand.
Australian footwear brand Blundstone needs little introduction, but I was aware of their quality when I first picked up a pair of their Chelsea boots four years ago and they’ve proven to be one of my best footwear choices yet, offering a rugged construction, stylish appearance, and comfortable cushioned soles… and the 23-year-old version of me who started this blog would be delighted to know that Mr. Duchovny did indeed swap out his Timberlands for Blundstones on occasion.
My preferred Blundstone variety is the #1609 model with “antique brown” water-resistant leather uppers and black elastic side gussets, though I’ll likely be growing my collection.
Florsheim Sorrento Monk Shoes
In the market for something dressier? I mentioned above not being too focused on the “rules” of menswear and I willingly chose to break one when sporting a pair of monk-strap shoes with my double-breasted dinner suit for my wedding last month. Though perhaps not equal to tuxedoes on the formality meter, monk shoes had always been a favorite of mine for their visually interesting properties and comfort, not to mention that I share the literary James Bond’s dislike of shoelaces… as my preferred boot style above may also suggest. Still, I opted for the most formal monk shoes I could get, with polished black calf uppers (rather than brown), a single strap (rather than double), and a plain toe-box.
While you’d probably prefer to wear your monks with a blazer, sports coat, or suit, I was ultimately satisfied with the appearance and suitability of the Florsheim “Sorrento” shoes I wore throughout the wedding day with my tuxedo, from the first photo call around 2 p.m. to stumbling back from the after-party with my bride at 2 a.m.
While we’re dressing your feet, let me tell you about the socks that changed my life. And this is not an #ad.
For about five Christmases in a row, my
girlfriend wife (gotta get used to saying that) had included Bombas socks on her wish-list. As members of my family would buy them for her, their intrigue would grow and they’d buy pairs for themselves. I foolishly felt above it all, pulling on my tired pairs of Gold-Toes until finally asking her, in my Seinfeldiest voice, “so what’s the deal with these bomb-ass socks, anyway?”
One more Christmas and four initial pairs of socks later, I found out firsthand just why these were a perennial favorite of hers and, now, everyone else in my family. The comfort is unmatched by any other sock I’ve worn not to mention that, as a Certified B Corporation, Bombas aims to do good and matches each purchase with a donation of a similar item to a community in need of clean, comfortable socks or underwear.
I recommend you get started on the right foot (hehe) with a four-pack of the colorfully marled calf socks, the very hosiery that got me hooked as well.
Dandy Del Mar Tropez Terry Cloth Robe
Dandy Del Mar remains one of the first brands I consider when shopping for leisure-wear, specifically poolside garb of the terry toweling cloth variety as had been popular through the ’60s and ’70s. When the California-based brand introduced their Tropez Terry Cloth robe in a duo-toned green gardenia print, I knew it had to be mine. Nearly two years later, it’s still the first I reach for whether nursing my morning coffee or drying off after a dip.
Doxa SUB300T Sharkhunter
One of the most frequently questions I get asked is “what kind of watch do you wear?” The answer isn’t so straightforward as I rotate through about a dozen or so, including a few Seikos, a Tissot moonwatch, some Invicta tributes, and my sole Omega—a beautiful gold Constellation that has been in my wife’s family since it was purchased new in the early 1960s.
My Doxa SUB300T Sharkhunter is among my favorite watches, blending a reliable movement with a distinctive appearance that appeals to me. Like the Omega, the Doxa had been gifted to me by my father-in-law, who purchased his Sharkhunter during the 35th anniversary reissue in 2002. I believe that my FIL, who still wears an orange-dialed Doxa, had been drawn to the brand due to Clive Cussler choosing it for Dirk Pitt; I was purely tickled to have a similar model as the watch worn by Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor, made all the more significant by having once belonged to a loved one.
Persol PO9649s Sunglasses
I was halfway through high school when I was first prescribed glasses, a rimless pair meant solely for distance like reading the chalkboard from the back of the classroom or the occasional night-drive. As the years went on and relentless screen-time took its toll on my eyes, the conditions worsened until all but eradicating my use for any non-prescription eyewear.
When the time came for me to make the Very Mature Purchase of my first prescription sunglasses, I tried on a few various pairs until landing on Persol, specifically the “Havana” tortoise-framed PO9649s Pilot model. I’ve added some other prescription specs to the lineup since, but the Persols remain my favorite as I also wear the Persol 3121V for my regular (non-sun) glasses.
Elliott Gould Cardboard Cutout
You can get life-size or mini, but I can imagine there’s something jarring about finding a two-foot cardboard Elliott Gould under your tree on Christmas morning. Life-size is probably the way to go.
Kershaw RJ Tactical 3.0 Knife
I try to keep my EDC pretty limited, but one item I rarely leave the house without (and often carry at home too) is my Kershaw RJ Tactical 3.0 knife. The ergonomic nylon handle houses a three-inch black oxide-coated stainless steel blade with Kershaw’s quick and simple “SpeedSafe” one-handed release that flips the blade out and locks it into place. While I have experience with a few other pocket knives, the Kershaw is my everyday favorite for its portability and easily maintained sharpness after several years of heavy use.
TH Holsters Spectre MK III
For any BAMF Style readers who—like a certain fictional British secret agent—regularly carry a Walther PPK or Walther PPK/S pistol, my friend Caleb (@CommandoBond) collaborated with TH Holsters to develop the Spectre Mk III, a holster created with Bond fans in mind. Named in tribute to Daniel Craig’s fourth Bond movie and the fictional terrorist organization that dates back to Ian Fleming’s novels, the Spectre MK III combines the modern retention of a Kydex holster with a handsome tobacco-colored suede wrap that echoes Craig’s on-screen Vega IWB holsters. Additionally, the holsters are rigged with a tuckable Walther-branded clip that allows wearers to cleanly conceal their sidearm under the folds of a tucked-in shirt.
Caleb was kind enough to gift me a Spectre MK III that I’ve since used to regularly carry my own PPK, and I can confirm that it’s every bit the five-star holster that a seasoned MI6 agent would want while withstanding the storied wear-and-tear in the field: concealable, comfortable, and smooth to draw from.
Tivoli Bluetooth Radio
This one’s on my personal wishlist so I don’t have any personal experience with it yet, but I’m hoping to report back after the holidays! Bond Lifestyle spotted the Tivoli Model One AM/FM radio in the retired James Bond’s Jamaican home in No Time to Die, and maybe I’m a double-O-sucker, but I was drawn to its clean, vintage aesthetic as well as the positive reviews for the Bluetooth connectivity.
VRURC Power Bank
The market is flooded with portable power banks, none of which ever felt like they were truly the right solution until I found the VRURC power bank. This is another find I have to credit to my wife, who may have originally seen it on TikTok or in some influencer’s Instagram story. Unlike the other power banks that have crossed our paths, the VRURC offers a convenient size (about the same as my iPhone 12 Mini) with integrated USB cords and even an integrated plug that goes directly into a wall outlet, making it the most grab-and-go power bank I’ve seen yet. In addition, the VRURC has a display that shows you exactly how much battery it has left itself. This thing has been a life-saver.
Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks
by André Darlington & Tenaya Darlington
Another in a string of excellent gifts from my wife, Booze & Vinyl lives up to its name by thoughtfully pairing classic records with two cocktails—one for each side; for example, Johnny Cash’s 1968 live album At Folsom Prison is offered with the appropriately named Suffering Bastard (side A) and the rum-and-cider-based Stone Fence (side B), while Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours suggests a Manhattan (side A) and the glitzy Tuxedo Cocktail (side B).
From Tailors With Love: An Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films
by Pete Brooker & Matt Spaiser
You know them, you love them, now read their book! Pete Brooker (of the From Tailors With Love podcast) and Matt Spaiser (of the Bond Suits blog) collaborated on this excellent chronicle that belongs on the shelf of all fans of James Bond, menswear, and the stylish intersection of both.
A Night to Remember
by Walter Lord
After two decades of painstaking research and interviews with survivors, A Night to Remember inspired a renewed wave of interest in the Titanic disaster upon its release in 1955, including a compelling movie that remains my favorite filmed account of the sinking. Always attuned to my interests even before I was, my dad gave me his much-loved copy when I was in the third grade and it’s still regularly rotated through my reading list.
Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki
by Martin Cate & Rebecca Cate
This may not be a new book, but it was new to me when I received it for Christmas last year, thoughtfully chosen by my wife’s brother and his girlfriend to help me expand my interest and knowledge in all things Tiki… and, in just a year, it has been a helpful reference not just for perfecting my Painkiller recipe but for also decorating a Polynesian paradise in my own home.
This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories
by Carla Valderrama
Carla is one of my favorite storytellers of all things Old Hollywood—indeed, her Instagram @thiswashollywood is a must-follow—so I knew I couldn’t wait to pick up her book after it was first released in 2020. Two years later, I always keep it within reach in my home office, whether researching a BAMF Style post about John Garfield or merely passing the time by reading fascinating yet almost-forgotten lore from Tinseltown.
Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of The Sopranos
by Michael Imperioli & Steve Schirripa
A month into the COVID-19 pandemic, Christopher and Bobby Bacala themselves brought some much-needed distraction into everyone’s quarantines with the start of their 91-episode podcast Talking Sopranos that pulled back the gabagool to bring fans behind the scenes of the landmark series with a degree of humor and honesty that make their new book all the more welcome.
All prices and availability current as of November 25, 2022.
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