As you might already know the Esquire Big Black Book (BBB) Fall 2010 has hit the shelves.  If you're a fan of fashion you're aware that the BBB has been an essential read for the stylish gent since 2006.  Over the years the BBB has been issued in Spring and Fall giving timely and classic advice to upgrade your style.  However, we are intrigued by a newcomer to the style guide game.  GQ has issued their own style manual.  I went looking for the BBB but instead found the GQ version.  GQ is no slouch in the style department.  Their advice is just as noteworthy as Esquire's, but it seems there may be a competition on the horizon.  We recently picked up both versions to offer our readers our objective opinion.  Who are we kidding? We're gonna tell you which one is better. Let's start with the newcomer...

GQ - Very well done overall.  Lots of great photos and visuals.  The whole guide is done in a head-to-toe format.  Everything from suits, to shoes, watches, shirts, belts and more is covered.  The editors don't miss a single step in showing the what, where, when, how, and why.  There are great old school double page photos of some the classic style icons.  The advice is straightforward and easy to comprehend. You could read a bit and then remember it next week at the tailor.

On the other hand, I think the guide is missing some coverage on casual wear.  Other than mentioning sneakers, some of the less formal hats, and wet weather gear the casual man is left a bit wanting.  Also, the guide's content is a little light.  While we normally agree with less is more, only 126 pages of content left me wanting more.  Maybe that's their marketing ploy for the next issue.  Also the pages were a bit flimsy for my liking.  Maybe because I'm used to the heavy pages of the BBB, but I feel like the GQ guide could get worn out pretty quickly in my collection.  The guide is supposed to be the style manual for 2010, but 2010 is almost over and they just put this out.  Maybe it should have been printed earlier in the year.  The $11 price tag is also a bit high for a first issue.

BBB - A stalwart.  A seasonal classic that I look forward to like a kid at Christmas time.  I have every edition expect the first and I plan to keep mine as collector's items and hand them down to my son.  (Forgive me for getting nostalgic).  The Fall edition covers everything the modern man could imagine.  Clothes, travel, drinking, sporting, cars, and even domesticity.  Every page is a wealth of knowledge from an expert and/or a living model of the issue at hand.  "Information" sections with guidance on maintenance, fabrics, and etiquette give every detail needed to get the job done.  Just flipping the pages a man can be inspired.  The content is aimed at the highly sophisticated fellow or the one who wants to be.  The clothes make you want to caress the page and the photos take you back in time.  Very well done.

On the other hand, those same clothes you're pining for are most likely out of your price range.  Esquire has a knack for recommending exorbitantly expensive items outside the reach of the average man.  $1,200 boots, $1,600 cardigans, and $30,000 Rolex's aren't in my budget and I'm a clotheshorse.  While most of the spreads are congruent many of the pages are followed by an advertisement.  So, great info on the left and ad after ad after ad on the right prompting you to buy said expensive item.  I think they can cut back on the marketing.  At 185 pages of content the book does not leave you unfulfilled, but almost leaves you stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.  We think somewhere between the 126 and 185 of both guides would be best.  Then again most of Esquire's book contains ads every other page while GQ's is straight content.

Overall, we believe the BBB is a superior buy.  It covers much more than just fashion and provides the stylish gent with the information needed to build a foundation of style for a lifetime in and out of his closet and it costs a $1 less.  The content, advice, photos, seasonal printing, and the pure heft of the manual gives it the nod.  In either case a gent will be well served to read and re-read both guides.  Keep them on hand for future reference as well as future instruction to sons, grandsons, nephews, co-workers, buddies, and any other man who needs a style lift.  Happy reading.

GQ 2010 Style Manual
GQ
GQ
GQ
The Jagger in all his glory
Esquire's Fall 2010 Big Black Book
Esquire
Esquire
Esquire
Esquire

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