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Friday, May 31, 2013

Men’s Belt Basics: Belt Buckles

The bigger your belt buckle the less formal it is.  Dress belts typically have very small, flat belt buckles (and tend to be narrower belts themselves).  Larger buckles with rounded shapes are common on more casual styles.  Almost all dress belts will have either a gold-colored or silver-colored finish.
belt buckle types
If you wear male jewelry of any kind — cufflinks, tie tacs, and so forth — the belt should be in the same color family.  Silver accents should go with a silver belt buckle and gold with gold.  A wedding ring is always an exception — there’s no need to restrict yourself to gold accents for your entire married life.  The ring is understood to be a gesture independent of your personal style.
Your casual belts can have almost any kind of buckle you like.  Consistency of theme is more important than the shape or size in casual settings.  If you like large metal buckles with Western motifs, wear them with a Western-styled outfit rather than a tight urban look.  There’s only so much mixing and matching you can get away with.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

7 Clothing Essentials You Need for Fall

Put the polos and T-shirts away;  it’s Fall, the best season for menswear.
This is the time of year when layered looks and textured fabrics come into play.
Stock your closets with the essential autumn looks — you’ll be wanting each one of these classics in your size and style as soon as the leaves start to fall!

1. Gray Flannel Trousers

Savor the first day cool enough to bring your gray flannel trousers back out of the closet.  Dark gray trousers in soft wool flannel are sturdy, warm, and look good with almost anything.  Pair them with a tweed jacket for old-fashioned country casual, or throw a shirt and tie on under a cashmere sweater for classic schoolboy prep.
gray trousers
It’s worth adding a few different pairs of gray flannel trousers to most wardrobes.  Play around with herringbone weaves, light striping or windowpane checks, and lighter grays to vary your outfits up.  You’ll always have a solid base for the rest of your clothes when you’ve got some gray flannels ready to hand.

2. Tweed Sport Jackets

The tweed jacket, made from a rough, unfinished wool, has its origins in the British countryside.
Good tweed jackets have colors worked into the fabric to give it a textured, slightly-speckled appearance.  You can get tweeds in a wide range of colors; earth tones are the most common and the best for fall.
tweed jacket
Wear a tweed jacket with gray wool trousers or a pair of corduroys for a relaxed fall look.  It works equally well with a dressy white shirt and tie or just a plain black long-sleeve T-shirt.  Your outer layer stays thick, rugged-looking, and fall-colored.  The texture gives you some visual interest and the tapered shape of the jacket flatters your upper body.  Casual touches like elbow patches and ticket pockets are perfect on a tweed jacket.
Sport jackets are great for just about every fall activity, so plan on wearing yours to football games and walks in the woods as well as business and social engagements.  As with flannel trousers, a couple different tweed jackets in varying colors and weaves gives you a flexible wardrobe that you can mix and match with other pieces.

3. Colored Corduroys

Corduroy is a ribbed fabric that makes great casual clothes for men.  It’s soft and thick, making it perfect for cooler weather, and the ribbed texture gives it visual interest.  You can get “cords” in just about any color — dark browns and tans are common options for a slightly dressier look, but there are plenty of good manufacturers out there making corduroys in things like lemon yellow and bright turquoise as well.
You can wear cords with just about any casual outfit.  They’re a little tricky to work into business dress — if you’re going to wear them to the office be sure you’re over-dressing the rest of the outfit, pairing the cords with a good shirt and tie and a snappy blazer to balance out the relaxed lower body.
Corduroy is also sometimes used to make sports jackets.  These have an old-fashioned look to them and often come with elbow patches or other casual accents; wear them on college campuses or to sports games for a timeless look.  Oversized accordion pockets for holding books are the ultimate addition for a “rumpled professor” jacket.

4. Cardigan Sweaters

Cardigans are open-fronted sweaters.  They can range from a tight-knit, lightweight cotton sweater with a zipper front — just a small step up from a sweatshirt, really — to a big wool sweater with a shawl collar and wooden “toggle” buttons on the front.
Cardigans are basically an alternative to a sport coat (though you can wear both for a busy, layered look).  They give you a warm outer layer without turning your upper body into a single, solid block.  You can wear them over a patterned T-shirt for a trendy look or with a collared shirt for something more old-fashioned.  Knit cardigans with a shawl collar and lots of extra fabric are almost like wearing a blanket — expect the ladies to want a snuggle.
Don’t be ashamed to look a little nerdy in your cardigans.  They’re an old-fashioned college kid style.  Enjoy looking young again!  As an added bonus, a lot of adult men avoid cardigans, meaning you’ll stand out in a crowd.

5. Cashmere Sweaters

We’ll put an extra word in for cashmere sweaters of any kind — crewneck, V-neck, or cardigan, they’re fantastic pieces of clothing.
Cashmere is a lightweight wool that comes from the underhairs of goats that live in very dry, rugged regions.  It makes clothing that’s warm without bulk or weight, meaning you can wear cashmere sweaters in layered outfits without the puffiness that a regular wool sweater of the same warmth would give you.  It’s also soft to the touch and can be worn against the skin much more comfortably than coarser wools.
Throw a cashmere sweater on over a dress shirt and under a blazer for a layered variation on business casual, or wear a V-neck cashmere sweater with a T-shirt and jeans for an effortless social outfit.  Get some bright colors to spice the wardrobe up as well as the basic grays and earth tones.

6. Suede Shoes

A fall style that most men overlook:  the suede shoe.  Its brushed surface is much softer than regular leather and has a dusty, country look to it.  Like tweed, it originated in practical rural clothing and transitioned over time to men’s fashion.
Suede shoes in a dark brown or tan complement most fall outfits.  The textured look and earth tones of a lot of fall clothes go great with the rough-looking leather in its natural colors.  Choose a casual style that suits your taste:  wingtips, saddle shoes, and monkstrap loafers all look good in suede.

7. Dress Boots

Another footwear option for fall is the ankle boot — and yes, you can get in suede if you want to combine our advice here.  Chukka boots are a classic suede option:  ankle-high with two or three holes for laces.
suede boot
They traditionally come in earth-tone suede, but you can find dress boots in similar styles made in materials ranging from polished calfskin to alligator hide.  You can even get a hornback boot with the tail ridge running down the toe of the boot if you’re feeling particularly exotic…
Dress boots of a more restrained style are, of course, better for most occasions, and do a good job keeping the weather off during wetter fall days.  Polished leather holds up better in heavy wet than suede — be careful of getting your suede too wet, as it will discolor and stiffen over time, loosing its soft, brushed surface.

Your Essential Fall Wardrobe

So what do all these have in common?
  • They’re textured — rough wool, decorative weaves; brushed leather.
  • They’re meant to be layered.  Most of these can combine into the same outfit if you want!
  • They’re soft — none of these have a very stiff, sharp-edged shape to them.
Your essential fall wardrobe should be all about relaxed, warm clothes that you can take off and put on in mixed layers.  Contrast and texture are huge.  So’s fun — this is the season for trousers and jackets without heavy overcoat, the best time of year for menswear.  Fill your wardrobe with the essentials and go enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What About Rolling Up Your Sleeves When You Have Thin Arms

Rolling up your dress shirt sleeves will draw attention to your biceps & triceps; for those that work out it’s a great chance to show the world you take care of your body.  For those of us with thinner builds or thick non-defined arms – this may be a bit embarrassing.   In this situation you need to think proportion and strive for balance.
  • Wear shirts that fit you and compliment your physique. Example – petite men should choose shirts with smaller cuffs and thinner sleeves.
  • Keep your sleeve roll below your elbow – this looks better and draws the focus to your forearms vs. your 10 inch biceps.  Forearms are normally closer to an average size than biceps – which vary greatly.
  • When rolling the shirt – roll the sleeve over on itself length-wise to reduce the sleeve width and create a tighter fit on the bicep.  A loose rolled sleeve only exaggerates already thin arms.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Black Tie – The James Bond Way

Black tie menswear follows a formal set of rules that offers variety but not extreme room for improvisation.
You need to stay within the established boundaries – otherwise you’re wearing a Halloween costume.
Many of you reading this may be thinking – wow, that sounds stuffy and unimaginative.
On the contrary – this is Black Tie’s greatest strength.  A well made tuxedo builds off of a proven masculine suit silhouette that has been perfected for a century.
You only need follow directions – make a few small decisions on style options – and you can be guaranteed to look like a million bucks.
Guiding Principle – The James Bond “look” is defined by an elegant, minimal style, and perfect fit.
Bond never improvises with color (beyond either black or midnight blue as the dinner suit’s base) or with casual accents.

James Bond black tie basics are:

• A single-breasted dinner jacket in midnight blue or black.
• Black-tie trousers in a matching dark wool.
• Jacket lapels and a band on the outside of each trouser leg in dark satin.
• Suspenders (braces), never a belt.
• Cummerbund or waistcoat –the most common mistake men make when wearing a tuxedo is not utilizing a waist covering. Don’t be a black-tie amateur – make the transition from trouser to jacket seamless.
• No vents or double jacket vents – the no vent look is more classic, but the double vent look is a fine modern twist and makes perfect sense for a man of action.
• Tab waist adjusters rather than a belt. In the Ian Fleming novels Bond even discusses adjusting these to go with his hidden holster.
• Hand-tied bow tie – never a clip-on. Bond in his various incarnations favors diamond-pointed ends to the bow.
• Matching shirt studs and cufflinks. Mother-of-pearl in several movies – always a timeless classic.
• Black, plain, highly-shined dress shoes – specifically polished calf oxfords rather than patent leather pumps — again, Bond a man of action.
Mens Tuxedo Peak Lapel
A few things do vary stylistically from movie to movie, and although I dearly love Bond I’m forced to insist on a few traditional touches to complete the look:
• Shawl or peak lapels only – Bond occasionally appears in a notched-lapel dinner jacket, and it always looks hopelessly dated.
• Always wear a waist covering – A cummerbund is ideal for someone as active as Bond although a waistcoat helps with concealed carry. Without a waist covering Bond tends to show his suspenders and their clips, always a sloppy look.
• Neatly-folded pocket squares are usually part of the Bond ensemble but have been occasionally absent (Yes Timothy Dalton – I noticed). Make sure you stick with the traditional look and have one in plain white, neatly-folded. Or red if you’re looking to shake things up.
• Working lapel buttonhole — this isn’t necessary, but it makes boutonni√®res and similar decorations possible. If you’re buying a tux you should certainly insist on one; rentals may have to do without.
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Good Hot Weather Fabrics

What your clothes should — and shouldn’t — be made of during the hottest months.
So how do you find clothing that combines all four of those characteristics we talked about above? Remember, you want all your outfits to combine the following:
· Light Weight
· Breathability
· Sun Protection
· Deliberate Style
That’s a lot to ask from one piece of clothing. Here, in no particular order, are the specific fabrics best suited for hot-weather outfits:

Linen is one of the joys of summer menswear. It’s light, breathable, and has a unique texture that makes it stand out in an ensemble. Some men dislike it because it wrinkles too easily, but the lightly-wrinkled texture is part of the charm of linen, and higher-quality linens are woven tightly enough that the wrinkling is minimal.
Linen can be used to make matched suits, odd jackets and trousers, and dress shirts. Traditional style manuals might tell you not to mix linens, but an unmatched jacket and trousers are usually fine. A linen shirt under a linen jacket can look a bit odd.
· Very lightweight and breathable – often the coolest option available
· Unique texture is visibly different from the more common cotton
· Dries quickly and does not retain moisture
· Expensive to manufacture, driving the price up
· Prone to creasing and wrinking
· Less durable than cotton or wool; can require careful maintenance

We don’t usually think of wool as a hot-weather fabric. Most of its properties make it ideal in the winter, and typical wool suitings are both thick and heavy.
There are, however, a few kinds of “tropical-weight” wools meant for summer wear. The more common kind are essentially the same worsted or flannel wool of a conventional suiting, but made with very thin, light threads to reduce weight.
An alternative technique uses a looser weave to make the wool more breathable, but twists the individual threads much tighter to compensate for the loss in strength. Fresco wool is probably the most famous example of these high-twist wools, which tend to be expensive but even lighter and more comfortable than traditional lightweight wool.
· Neatest-looking and dressiest summer fabric
· Smoother drape and cleaner lines than linen
· More breathable and faster-drying than cotton
· Heavier than linen or cotton
· Expensive
· Quality varies — not all “tropical-weight” wool is comfortable in the tropics!
Most men probably rely on cotton for the bulk of their summer wardrobe. It’s light and breathable and substantially cheaper than wool or linen, so there’s some sense to that choice.
The trouble with cotton is that its performance can vary widely depending on construction. Wool fibers are actually much more airy than cotton, which means that cotton needs to be woven more loosely to let the same amount of air out. Breathable, lightweight cotton is mostly limited to specific summer weaves. Here are a few of the most common examples:
· Twill – Anyone will recognize twill weave from their blue jeans — the diagonal ribbing is very distinctive. Done in very fine threads it makes a light cloth, and is a common choice for cotton suits and jackets. There are a number of variations on the twill weave, but in general it’s used to make a garment sturdy and even. That gives it a nice drape, but can make it hot in the summer. While common (and cheap) as “summer wear,” it’s often not the best choice.
· Poplin – Poplin has a faint dimpled texture that comes from using two different sizes of threads in the weave. The dimples make tiny air pockets, making the garment much more breathable and faster-drying than a flat weave. Poplin is a common choice for higher-end polo shirts and summer dress shirts. You can also find poplin trousers (very comfortable), and even the occasional jacket.

· Seersucker – Probably the lightest cotton weave, seersucker is slow and expensive to produce but very comfortable. It has a much more distinctive dimple pattern than poplin, giving it a wrinkled appearance. Seersucker is used for shirts (usually short-sleeved), trousers, and suits, though the latter are usually not seen outside the United States.
· Madras – Madras is a specific weave, but is best known as a dyed plaid pattern. Whether it boasts the specific plaid or not it’s a lightweight summer staple used for shorts, shirts, and jackets. The surface is smoother than seersucker or poplin, but a very loose weave keeps it breathable.
· Gauze – We mostly think of gauze as a medical fabric, but this loose weave was actually used for British military wear in the tropics for many years. The individual threads are heavier than other light weaves but the weave is much loser (you can see through it if you hold it up to the light), resulting in a breathable cloth that allows moisture to evaporate quickly. It’s an uncommon but extremely comfortable choice for casual shirts.
These are only the most common examples — people have been making cotton clothes for hot climates for thousands of years. But the lighter the threads and the looser the weave, the more comfortable the cotton will be. Densely-woven cotton like oxford and broadcloth quickly become stifling in the summer, holding both sweat and body-warmed air in close to the skin.
An easy test is to simply hold a small section of the fabric up and tug it taut. Loose weaves will have stretch to them, while a tight weave like twill has relatively little give. You can also hold the weave up to a light to see how much passes through. The more see-through the cloth, the lighter and looser the weave.
· Cheap, ubiquitous, and familiar
· Can be extremely light in the right weave
· Easiest fabric to maintain — most cotton garments can be machine-washed
· Absorbs and retains sweat much more than wool or linen
· Lacks the smooth drape of wool or the breeziness of linen
· Tends to lose its shape and droop in humid heat — does better in dry climates

It’s hard to get fancier than silk, and in terms of strength for weight trade-off it’s an unbeaten champion. Unfortunately, the intersection of silk that’s fine enough to look good as dress clothing, sturdy enough to wear regularly, and light enough to be comfortable in the heat is hard to find.
Good summer silk needs to be woven loose enough to let air in and out. Lighter threads will make it more comfortable but also more fragile. Silk sturdy enough to make a jacket out of would be stifling in the heat — it’s best left as a material for casual, draw-string or wrap pants and the occasional loose shirt.
· Smooth, comfortable texture feels good on bare skin
· Can make much lighter cloth than other materials
· Holds colors well and gives a distinct sheen
· Fragile, prone to wrinkling, and difficult to maintain
· Retains moisture
· Expensive — often costs the same as much more functional cloths

Synthetics and Blends
We need to be very careful when we talk about synthetic fibers. Some are very useful in hot weather — most modern activewear and sportswear is made from proprietary fibers engineered for specific moisture-wicking and breathability properties.
However, traditional synthetic alternatives to cotton and silk like polyester are also still out there. Polyester, rayon, and their various relatives are plastic-like fibers that lack breathability. Their light weight is handy and they cost a fraction of even a plain cotton shirt, but they quickly become stifling and sweat-soaked in the heat.
Anyone who’s worn a good “underarmor” style liner shirt or underwear can attest to the usefulness of certain, specific synthetics. Avoid the older, cheaper synthetics, and the ubiquitous 50/50 cotton blends they often appear in.
· Good synthetics can wick moisture away, making you feel less sweaty
· Extremely lightweight, often lighter than natural fibers can achieve
· Entirely synthetic garments often lack breathability
· Can irritate the skin, particularly if the weave is fine enough to bunch up
· Often used for cost-saving rather than useful properties

Friday, May 17, 2013

Is long-distance tailoring for you?

You’re the only person that can answer that question — but there are some good reasons to try it, and some sensible steps you can take to making sure you have a reliable craftsman even from thousands of miles away.

Long-Distance Tailoring: The Disadvantages
Let’s get the disadvantages out of the way first. Are there things you need to worry about when you seek long-distance tailoring? Absolutely. These are most people’s chief concerns:
  • Quality. There are a lot of fly-by-night tailors that rely on first-time customers only. They’re not interested in a long-term business relationship. They’ll offer an incredible price and promise high quality, then deliver a generic-sized product in a cheap, counterfeit fabric and never respond to you again.
  • Language Barrier. This is a big one — if you can’t clearly explain what you want from your clothing, it’s going to be tough to get what you want. Relying on a non-native speaker’s language or translations runs the risk of misunderstandings.
  • Distance. This has both practical and psychological weight to it. On the practical side, shipping costs and the chance of packages going astray increase with distance; on the psychological side we have a harder time trusting people from further away (for most of human history we married and settled with people from within one mile of our own home!).
Those are three powerful concerns that can turn people away from working with a  tailor in Hong Kong, Bangkok, London, or even Wisconsin. 
But it’s worth remembering that we perform much more complicated tasks over long distances these days — all the way up to remote surgeons guiding assistants or even robots from thousands of miles away. A bit of custom tailoring is nothing compared to that…….well, maybe close!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Is Waxed Cotton?

Waxed cotton cloth was originally used to make sails for wind-powered ships. It was the last word in technology, at its time.
Oiled sails had been used for years, since the oiled cloth caught the wind better and stayed lighter when it rained, but for many years they were made from flax fibers treated with linseed oil, which got stiff and yellowed with age.  In fact coats and capes made from old sails are where we get the association of fisherman’s slickers and the color yellow.
Egyptian cotton treated with paraffin wax allowed the creation of the light, waterproof sails that the fastest “tea clippers” used near the end of the Age of Sail. It rapidly caught on as a practical material for outdoor jackets as well, heavily promoted by the British company Barbour and sons (which still exists today), and the style has stayed with us ever since.
Waxed cotton jackets are doubly waterproofed: not only is the outside treated with a waterproof coating, the individual threads of the cloth are impregnated with wax before the bolt is woven.
The result is a waxy protection that goes all the way through the jacket — unlike a sprayed-on shell, the waterproofing can’t wear through.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cardigans are a classic and should be a core item in your wardrobe

daniel craig cardigan sweaterDon’t let anyone tell you that cardigans aren’t manly.

The open-fronted sweaters were named after the 7th Earl of Cardigan, a prominent British military figure who popularized the style.
Cardigans have become a uni-sex garment, which has sadly led many men to move away from the cardigan as a masculine sweater option.
My advice?
Know your history and stop letting what others think determine how you dress.
Cardigans are a classic and should be a core item in your wardrobe. 
If you’re a man who’s never worn a cardigan you’re cheating yourself out of a useful addition to the wardrobe.
Relax, stop worrying about whether it looks manly or not, and learn to wear the soft, open-fronted sweater like a gentleman.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Rules for Matching Suit

The world is full of choices and menswear is no exception.  Not only do suits, shirts, and ties come in a variety of colors and fabrics, but they also come in diverse patterns.  Some men may find these immense pattern options daunting.  But fear not – The Sharp Suit is here to help.  We’ve compiled basic pattern matching rules and brought them to you in a simple article.  Next week, we will detail the most common men suits, shirt, and tie patterns in order to help you make sharp wardrobe decisions.  Armed with that knowledge, you’ll have no problem creating a killer outfit for your next big occasion.

When we share style rules, we like to reiterate that they are to be taken with a grain of salt.  Not every rule is black and white – each contains grey areas dictated by your personal style.  Everyone’s personal style is different, so don’t let a rule deter you from being yourself and embracing your style.

Rule #1: Vary pattern sizes.  Mixing and matching patterns in a suit is highly encouraged; it can add flair and style to what might otherwise be a boring outfit.  No matter what patterns you select though, always keep in mind this simple rule: Vary the pattern sizes.  For example, when wearing a navy suit with thin pinstripes, avoid pairing it with a white shirt and thin blue stripe.  The similar-sized stripes make the outfit look distorted.  If the combined patterns are too similar, they can even create the illusion of movement.  This illusion is distracting and takes away from the harmonious suit style the wearer was likely hoping to achieve.

If you want to combine suit elements with similar patterns, make sure one pattern is larger than the other.  Striped suit elements frequently utilize this rule.  When pairing a pin striped suit with a striped shirt or tie, be sure to choose a shirt or tie with thicker stripes.  A tie with thick, slanted stripes helps  create an even greater contrast.  There is one black-and-white rule to keep in mind when matching  patterns, and it’s in regard to matching checks.  Always make sure the tie contains the larger check pattern.  Otherwise, it will look as if the suit and shirt are swallowing your chest, which makes you appear smaller and less impressive.

Rule #2: The shirt is the pattern selection base.  Treat the shirt as the base around which the rest of the outfit is built.  Once you’ve picked out a shirt, its much easier to select a complimentary tie and suit.  Plus, most men own a grey or navy suit, and these staples are easy to match with almost every shirt and tie combination imaginable.

This rule is flexible, though.  Want to look dapper in a tailored navy pinstripe suit?  Build an ensemble around it.  Just purchase a new polka dot tie and want to show off?  Pick a complementary shirt, pair it with a suit, and show the world that stylish outfit.  The shirt doesn’t need to be the base for every suit outfit you create.  When in doubt though, the shirt is an easy starting-point for selecting complementary patterns.

Rule #3: Keep the outfit in harmony.  This last rule is fairly open-ended, but it’s helpful to always keep in mind.  What does it mean to wear an outfit that’s in harmony?  Basically, a suit in harmony contains elements (suit, shirt and tie) that complement one another; no one piece overpowers any other element.  Another way of looking at it is to check that the suit limits its extremes.  Is the suit too monotone, or does it have overwhelming contrasts?  If either of those answers are “yes,” then a part of the suit needs adjustment.  There are times when a little more contrast or a little more subtlety are appreciated (depending on the occasion).  So match patterns that suit your style (no pun intended) and tweak the outfit to achieve proper suit harmony.


Like most things in life, matching patterns requires patience and practice.  And it’s challenging to match suit elements if your pattern knowledge is limited.  Next week, we will introduce many of the common suit, shirt and tie patterns found throughout the menswear world.  Armed with that knowledge, you’ll have no problem creating a killer suit that shows off your excellent personal style.

Related article: selection.html

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Vengeance Of Elegant Gentlemen’s Shirts

You probably have noticed that gingham is coming back with a vengeance of elegant gentlemen’s shirts.
In the past, it was considered as a “popular” fabric, only existed in three colours: black, blue and pink, and was mostly used to make blouses and garments for young children.
dress shirt
Up until about two years ago, it was quite rare to see so-called “formal” shirts (those worn with tailored made suits and ties) made of gingham. This fabric was mostly used to make more casual, button-down or other, shirts worn by gentlemen on the weekend.
dress shirt
dress shirt
Then, during the last two years, this rather interesting to coordinate pattern (when one masters a few fundamental rules) progressively started to spread to the collections of traditional shirt makers until it became a best seller during the winter 2010/2011.
Now, all labels, from Tom Ford to TM Lewin, Tyrwhitt, Pink, Marc Guyot and even the very conservative Turnbull & Asser, offer gingham shirts in their formal and business selections. Last year, the fearless Marc Guyot even, in his true fashion, pushed the envelope a bit further with white collars and cuffs on gingham shirts! For the record, the first time he had “dared” to ask Turnbull & Asser to make him such a shirt, he had been nicely told off, as this “twist” was simply unimaginable by the venerable English shirt maker.
men suits
men suits
This global trend towards more colour and pattern is undoubtedly linked to the increased interest in men for dressing and their better understanding of the fundamentals of wearing these character shirts without making any visual mistake.
PG likes how gingham shirts open a very interesting creative realm while providing a dash of character that is quite welcome in our uniform and bland world.
But gentlemen, beware! Make sure to stick to the fundamentals, including the rules on harmoniously blending pattern without blinding others with a blur of patterns…
Related articles: gentleman.html

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Festival Of Colours!

Until now, we had never had the opportunity (or the inspiration?) to introduce Neapolitan ISAIA. we have resolved to pay due tribute to its absolutely breath taking new Spring/Summer 2013 collection!
Here is a small selection which the words colourful, bold and flamboyant can only begin to describe: Not only are these very beautiful pieces quite refreshing, but they are also particularly inspiring.
A name that we will explore more often, and most importantly study much more closely…
custom suit
custom suits

Related posts: suit.html

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The first known version of the necktie is located in the massive mausoleum of China’s first emperor, Shih Huang Ti (buried in 210 B.C, and whose tomb was unearthed in 1974 near the ancient capital city of Xian).
Inordinately afraid of death, the emperor wanted to slaughter his entire army to accompany him into the next world. Persuaded by his advisors to take life-size replicas of the soldiers instead, astonishingly, his tomb contains 7,500 life-size terracotta replicas of Shih Huang Ti’s regal fighting force. Reproduced in painstaking detail are their armor, uniforms, hair, and even facial expressions of the soldiers. Each figure is different – except in one respect: all wear neck cloths.
Other records indicate the Chinese did not wear ties, so why the emperor’s guards wore carefully wrapped silk cloths around their necks is unknown.  With silk looked upon as a great luxury, the neck cloths were likely a symbol of high honor and prestige. clothing-online/ mens-style-websites/

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pomp and Practicality

Remember the one in school who always seemed to dress right–the one indubitably awarded  ”best-dressed” by popular vote–and who won so easily that his title was never in question? I often wondered if this dapper young gent’s mum should have had the real credit for his ease and fortitude, and whether his actual award should have been that of “most obedient son”.  Or, on the contrary, did this soldier-of-style have an innate talent to present himself eloquently almost from the time of his birth? I remember having admiration for these types who gave us the impression that they were well-bred  and knowledgeable, if only through the way that they dressed.  Even decades later, I recall the tailored chocolate brown velvet blazer that my classmate, Terrisina O’Neal, wore in Grade 7, and the yellow and blue wool argyle v-neck sweater with the bronzed-yellow tie that Chels Norton paired with his tan pants and polished loafers in Grade 10.
This fascinating point of being able to recall a style choice (years later) stays with me, because of the simple fact that, if these two former classmates did not dress as they did, I doubt that I would even be able to recall their names today.  And, if dressing well causes a person to be memorable, can these well-dressed soul’s “pomp” be more practical than we could have imagined?
Of couse it’s obvious that men have a greater challenge than women when it comes to making style choices that causes them to be remembered (most preferably in a good way) because there are fewer choices available in the sheer number of accessories and clothing pieces offered for men versus women. But even so, we see men who ever-so-slightly, push the envelope in order to nab a definitive style for themselves. Yet with men and women alike, the feeling is the same when it comes to the satisfaction of  ”owning your style” and in finding your own rite-of-passage in the field of elegance.
There is a bit of a awestruck feeling that occurs when seeing men take more daring style choices and carrying off their choices with ease (perhaps because we’ve seen the epic style failures of checks and stripes that are proportionately ill-mixed, the dizzying effect of over-accessorizing, as well as the intentional clashing of colors that makes us recognize the clothes well before recognizing the man). And isn’t it true that if it looks like a man has tried too hard to pull himself together, then he appears more like a walking window display, rather than a persona in his own right? After all, while persnickety tailors can be the best of the best, persnickety men can be the worst of the worst. But still, you may agree that we can’t help but enjoy a little pomp, while being spared the act of being “pompous.”
The word pomp can be misunderstood.  The first definition of pomp connotes “dignified”, while the second definition connotes “vanity”.  These two definitions provide a confusing (even intriguing) dichotomy of meanings.  While we can safely refer to pomp as meaning dignified, most likely we can also agree that thinking of a pompous person brings on thoughts of  someone who is “irritatingly self-important”.   The root of the word  “pomp” is the Latin “pompa,” meaning “procession”, which gives the word a regal feel. And, the phrase “pomp and circumstance” has been preserved by Shakespeare in his play Othello, Act III, scene iii with the words “Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, th’ear-piercing fife, The royal banner, and all quality, Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!”
Certain visual cues connote the spirit of dignified pomp and the cue list lengthens as the imagination broadens.
 More articles: standard-designs.html climate.html renaissance-catalysts.html

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Suit Shoulder

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The thing we know about men is that if they love a certain thing, then they are capable of immersing themselves in the subject of their affection until they become gurus in their own right. And, it is a little fascinating for women to watch this drive that men have to pursue and grasp technical information about the things they care about, to the point of a sort of pleasurable suffering (and there is a growing number of women who have “caught the bug” of wanting to emerse themselves in some of these enchanting worlds such as the arenas of fine spirits, travel, and tailoring).
Lately, more men are expanding their knowledge beyond the subjects of cars, watches, scotch and cigars, and entering into a whole new realm of knowing the pleasure of owning a handmade suit. In this series of The Signals of a Handmade Suit, we jump headfirst into a technical swimming pool of tailoring aspects…to seek what it is about tailoring that gives pleasure to the eyes of men and women when we see a handmade suit. In a way, many of us are becoming aesthetes who simply appreciate beauty. And this penchant for what is beautiful, naturally leads us into the world of tailoring.
While the shoulder area of the suit is one of the easiest places for the tailor to measure, delivering the desired aesthetic look of the shoulder is, in itself…an art .  And, if you recall that the lapel roll can be the first signal of a handmade suit (as discussed in the first article of the series), then perhaps you will agree that quality shoulder expression is next (if not tied for first) as the second signal of a suit made by hand.
Shoulders are the most defining element of the silhouette of a jacket. They can be natural,  soft, convex, concave, lightly padded, padded or built up or knocked-down. Shoulder expression is simply the shape and appearance of the shoulder area of a coat. The shoulder area sets the parameters for the silhouette and drape of the suit,and so a technically correct cut is vital, of course. But just as importantly, is the “feeling” the shoulder expression evokes, creating real messages ranging from tones of professional to regal and from sporty to scholarly. A man who knows and understands himself, and is armed with some bare fundamentals on tailoring, should instinctively know which shoulder expression he prefers.
The construction of the shoulder should complement the build of the body. Sloping shoulders may need padding to lift the area. Narrow shoulders with a gut may want to slightly extend the horizontal shoulder area to offset things a bit. A body with a strong V shape, may shun strong shoulders in favor of more balance. But, a good shoulder construction is not too big (no sagging shoulder crown over the shoulder line) and not too small (provides relative ease in moving arms from front to back). All the rest is a matter of personal taste.
The old way of classifying shoulders types has been through describing where a suit is made. It seems silly these days to do this, since there are so many expats living in different places that we now have access to rich cross-cultural talent in various locations aound the world. And face it, the Italian tailors can’t really be classified because they will do almost anything (and usually do it well). At any rate, since these categories are often referred to, then it is worth a quick look at these designated “shoulder styles”:
1. American

Natural shoulder, very minimal padding, follows the shape of the body. The sack suit, the perennial “preppy look”
2. British

Stiffer suiting with a lightly padded shoulder. which compliments a nipped waist.
3. Italian

Versatile shoulders ranging from a strong and defined shoulder area, either with a “roped” look or with shirring (pleats) that makes the shoulders appear broader, to a natural shoulder made with tailoring precision. Note: Italian expertise in shoulder construction is so varied, that it often overlaps with British and American norms of shoulder expression.


Notice below how by simply altering the shoulder construction of three similar coats, a completely different look for each piece results. Let’s name the shoulder expressions below as:
1. Pagoda Concave “Rope” Shoulder (Italian)
2. Straight Shoulder (British)
3. Sloping Shoulder (American)

Also demonstrated nicely in this photograph, are the main two components that make up the top of the shoulder sleeve: the crown, which is either lifted, left flat or knocked down (as demonstrated above), and the area that connects the sleeve to the coat, the shoulder ridge, which can range from a deep ridge, to a light ridge, to a knocked down ridge, as also shown above.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Upgrade Your Style In 5 Steps

This is a guest post from James Petzke over at This Is Common Cents.  James is a student at Boise State University with a lot of ambition who is here to provide a style perspective for those of you who look young and want to better understand how dressing sharp can increase your credibility with others.
well-dressed-young-man-400If you had seen me walking the halls of my high school a year ago, I would likely have been wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt.
For pretty much my entire life, I chose to dress like I was going to the gym.
I had long, rather untamed hair, and wore beat-up skate shoes.
Fast forward a year.
Now proudly walk my college in style.
Shorts have been replaced by slacks, team sweatshirts have become sweaters, and you’ll never see a shirt on me without a collar unless I’m actually in the gym.
I wear dark leather shoes, have a business haircut, and occasionally wear a suit or sport coat to class for the fun of it.
This has really been a drastic change.
My parents still seem mildly stunned whenever they see me now.
But despite the fact that I had to rebuild my wardrobe and completely change my style in the matter of only a couple weeks, this transition has been overwhelmingly positive. And it was spurred by one of the most perfect excuses out there to make it happen:
Moving to a new area and living a new lifestyle.
Four months ago, I moved to Boise, Idaho to attend Boise State University. While most of my friends are contemplating how to get drunk as fast as possible in as many places as they can, I have been focusing on how to stand out from the 20,000 other undergrad students here so that I can move up in the business world as fast as I can.
A big part of that has been upgrading my style, which has helped in a variety of ways. I’m more confident, I stand out to my professors, and business people who come on campus take me more seriously than my peers.
Moving to a new area is always an awesome opportunity for an upgrade. You won’t have to deal with sudden, drastic changes in style that make you uncomfortable in front of your friends, and you’ll impress all of the new people you meet.
Thanks to Antonio, I have the opportunity to share with you all some of my advice and tips for doing this effectively, and not spend a fortune in doing so.
1. Make The Commitment
I pulled this image from – check out his blog for more great pictures!
Before you move to a new place, whether it’s for school, a job, or just for a change of scenery, you have to commit to making this change.
If you don’t commit to this type of change as firmly as you can, you likely won’t follow through. So make sure that before you make your move you decide how you want to look.
One thing I didn’t do that I should have was start to build my new wardrobe before moving. This would have allowed me to start fresh from day one, and make it much easier to commit solidly right off the bat.
2. Make the Right Upgrades
One of the things I didn’t want to do when I came to college was be too dressed up all the time. As much as I love wearing a suit (yes, I’m 18 years old and I love wearing a suit; there is some hope for my generation), I knew that it would be overkill for 95% of the classes I’d be taking, and virtually all of the extracurricular and social activities I’d be participating in.
So I decided on more of a business casual look. I have lots of dress shirts that can be casually worn, slacks, sweaters, and dark jeans.
I still have suits for special occasions and athletic clothing for the gym, but I primarily go business casual. Depending on where you are moving and what for, you may be picking a different style. Whatever it is, figure it out and stick to it. Make all the upgrades you need to pull it off right the first time.
3. Understand Details Are Key
I pulled this image from – check out his blog for more great pictures!
Moving from t-shirts to button downs is huge, but sometimes the smaller, not talked about details are the best ways to improve your look.
Wearing a dress watch.
Leather shoes.
A more professional haircut.
Take a few of the smaller things to the next level, and that may be more effective than anything else you do.
Another great example of a small detail worth addressing is clothing fit. In my experience, how well a piece of clothing fits is far more important to a good look than any other factor.
I’ll take a $100 suit that fits perfectly over a $2000 one that doesn’t any day.
4. Stick To Your Budget
It can be hard to stick to a budget when rebuilding a wardrobe.
There is so much to buy it can feel daunting. Add that to the fact that you are in the already expensive process of moving, and it can seem impossible.
I pulled this image from - check out his blog for more great pictures!
I pulled this image from – check out his blog for more great pictures!
But I’ve managed to completely rebuild mine while sticking to the budget of a broke college student, and have proven it isn’t hard if you’re willing to shop around.
Check out all the stores and online shops you can. Finding sales is a topic that goes way beyond the scope of this article, but it really isn’t that hard if you’re willing to put in the effort of going to a few stores.
You should also look at thrift stores. I know, I know, thrift stores and style don’t sound like they would go together. But trust me, they can at times.
Most of what you’ll see in thrift stores I wouldn’t recommend you ever wear, but there some occasional gems, especially when it comes to suits and jackets. A few weeks ago I bought an Italian wool, grey pinstripe suit that was basically brand new.
A quick alteration and cleaning, and for only $27 I have a pretty awesome suit. Most of the stuff at thrift shops you’ll want to avoid, but with some time and effort you can occasionally find something that works well for an incredibly low price.
5. Appearance Isn’t the Only Upgrade
If your goal is to look better in your new area, appearances aren’t the only thing you should focus on.
In fact, it may be secondary. Getting in better shape is without a doubt one of the best ways to look better.
This may mean losing weight, gaining weight, or developing tone. Right now I’m still working on gaining some lean muscle mass(I’m the typical basketball-playing skinny white kid). I’m trying to be careful about it so that I don’t grow out of the new wardrobe I built myself, but even if I do it’ll be well worth it . And that’s not to mention the other benefits that go along with being in better physical shape, like saving money and living longer.
Related post: website.html

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why You Should Give A Damn About Appearance

custom suits

How you are perceived by others before you open your mouth depends mostly on the physical signals you send with your appearance.
 A man doesn’t need to stay on top of every passing trend; however he should thinking about his basic appearance every day.  Still not convinced it’s worth your time to dress sharp? Here are nine reasons why you should give a damn.

1.  Clothing is the primary instrument in creating a positive first impressions

People are superficial, not just as a cultural phenomenon but as a hardwired instinct going all the way back to when our brains needed to make snap judgments on what was a stripy rock and what was a tiger about to eat us.  We tend to be done formulating our initial opinion of someone before we’ve actually spoken to them.  That means that your clothing is going to have a direct effect on people’s default assumptions of you — the better you’re dressed, the more respect and attention they’re going to automatically give you.
2. Clothing can increases your perceived status among your peers
Even after the first impression is over your clothing can help improve people’s reactions to you.  Society is very visually-based, and better-dressed men routinely experience better treatment and service than their sloppier counterparts.  Clothing serves as a substitute for character in the eyes of people who don’t know you well enough to judge you by anything else.  That may sound superficial, but it’s true whether we think it should be or not.  Your appearance may not mean much to you, but it does to the people who see you every day, making it worth caring about.
3.  Dressing sharp helps with your confidence
One of the first pieces of advice in self-help books is almost always something along the lines of “Get Your Personal Appearance Under Control!”  It’s good advice.  People tend to perform better in life when they feel that they deserve to perform better.  The automatic assumption that a well-dressed man should be treated with respect works when it’s your reflection in the mirror, too.  A few minutes spent spiffing yourself in the mirror before you leave home reinforces the idea that you deserve success and good treatment in your own mind.
4.  The requirements of dressing sharp teaches responsibility
As silly as it sounds, caring for your appearance will make you a more responsible man.  You wind up keeping track of details like which shoes need to be shined and which shirts need to be ironed, and (unless you live with someone who loves you very much) you usually have to do those things yourself.  It reinforces mental habits of attention to detail and planning ahead that translate usefully into any career or skill.
5.  A good dressers notices detail in others
Once you start paying attention to details of collar shape, pocket square selection, and all the other little details of dressing well, you start to notice them on other men.  And those men are noticing them on you too — expect, once you start really putting some time and effort into your appearance, to start seeing approving nods from other well-dressed men.  A really well put-together outfit is as good as a Masonic handshake for introducing you into a secret and elite society of men (and you don’t even have to wear one of those little fez hats).
6.  Dressing sharp makes you more useful at work
Doesn’t matter what your job happens to be and who you’re working for, or even if you’re your own boss — if you’re well enough dressed that you can step away from work and into a meeting with a client, customer, or supervisor without advance preparation, you’re more useful.  Having the casual, day-to-day presentation to step into any situation and look respectable is a huge advantage in the working world.
7.  Colors and patterns speak for you
Once you start to learn more about them, specific colors and patterns begin to display their own unique advantages.  Blues convey youth, browns openness and trustworthiness; deep grays somberness and dignity — each can be the best choice for a situation where many other colors would be equally appropriate but not as ideal.  And by thinking about colors and patterns in a meaningful way rather than just throwing together anything that doesn’t clash too badly you may save yourself from being the guy whose tie keeps seeming to ripple on TV someday…
8.  Specific clothing pieces make statements about you
Uniforms and semi-uniform looks like the doctor’s white coat are obvious symbols of the wearer’s status or role.  More subtle effects can convey nearly as much detailed information for a man who takes his time to plan the outfit well.  From a bolo tie advertising a reckless, cowboy attitude to a pinstriped suit in the colors of a favorite baseball team, clothes can proclaim everything from your profession to your passions — or both at once.
9.  Good looking men call the shots
When all’s said and done, the best reason to take time with your clothing and appearance is to take charge of your life.  Well-dressed men have already taken the way the world sees them into their own hands, and the added respectability and authority people afford them allows them to call the shots in group situations as well.  Giving a damn about your appearance is a way of caring how much control you have over your own life — not just over what color of tie to wear this morning. detail.html

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Shopping for Menswear Online: A Review of Indochino (Part 1)

Steven ordered his first custom suit online and chose Indochino for his purchase.  This post details his internet shopping experience.
For the past few months I’ve wanted to add a new sports coat to my wardrobe.  I wanted the jacket to work well with jeans and be worn for casual events, but I also wanted to be able to dress it up if needed.  Indochino jackets have been on my radar for a while now, and I figured now would be a great opportunity to give their products a try.
I browsed the Indochino site first to learn more about their products.  I was pleased with the overall layout of the site, the pictures provided, and the content they offered.  Being that Indochino purchases are made completely online (unless you happen to visit their Traveling Tailor), it is important that the customer has the ability to learn everything they need to know about the company and products before making a purchase.  I was pleasantly surprised to find I could request up to 16 fabric swatches for any clothing article I wanted to preview including suits, jackets, coats, vests, and shirts.  This allows potential customers the opportunity to get an idea of the color and feel of a fabric before making a purchase.  Again, being an online company the option to see and feel a fabric beforehand is extremely valuable and helps eliminate some of the uncertainty from the buying process.  It should be mentioned that the swatches cost $29, but they come with two measuring tapes and a $29 credit towards the customer’s next purchase.  An additional feature Indochino offers is the Perfect Fit Promise.  This promise helps ensure the customer receives a well-fitted suit without having to spend (a lot of) money on alterations.  All suits a customer purchases come with a $75 alterations credit which can be applied towards alterations at the customer’s local tailor.  If the suit requires more serious alterations, it can be returned to Indochino and remade for free.

A screenshot from Indochino’s website.
(Courtesy of Indochino)
Indochino does a good job describing the details and features of each suit (and this was important to me, considering I was interested in their suit jackets).  Their suits are constructed using Australian Merino wool, which is a common but quality suit fabric.  Although the body of their suits are stitched by a machine, the shoulders are always sewn by hand.  As for the lining, Indochino states that every suit “…is made with a half canvas horse hair interlining for a beautiful drape”.  In a recent tweet the company further clarified this by stating that “…the jacket is constructed by having the lining sewn to the interlining, then the interlining is fused to the interfacing”.  The half canvas design likely allows the jacket to form to the shape of the wearer  over time, and this helps provide a more personalized fit the more the jacket is worn.  One feature I was left confused about was the lapel.  Suit ordering  options allow customers to choose between peak, regular notch, slim notch, or shawl lapels.  When trying to distinguish between normal and slim notches, the site states that the slim lapel is 2.5″ wide and the regular notch lapel is 3″ wide.  However, in a recent tweet Indochino stated that the slim lapel is 2″ wide and the regular notch is 2.5″ wide.  I was therefore unsure about which lapel to choose, so I selected a regular notch based upon comments I read from other online customer reviews.

Gasper Gray Herringbone Blazer
(Courtesy of Indochino)
Before I could even purchase the jacket I had to create a profile on the Indochino website (similar to my experience with Ratio/Clothing).  The profile creation process involves taking your personal measurements and saving them to your profile.  The site uses what it calls “predicative measurements with smart algorithms” to guess measurements based on your input height, weight, and age (which I found to be fairly accurate).  The measurements include those you’d typical expect a bespoke tailor to take when measuring for a suit including chest, hips, shoulders, thigh, and leg length, among others.  I personally liked how the site also asked for additional measurements that will hopefully create a more finely fitted suit; these measurements included my bicep, wrist, and knee sizes.  Each requested measurement provides a video demonstrating how to take the measurement which I thought was particularly handy.  For those customers that don’t have a measuring tape handy, they can request one for free from the Indochino website in exchange for liking the company on Facebook.  The measuring process didn’t take me more than 15 minutes, and I found it especially helpful to have someone help measure me and provide a second opinion.  Indochino recommends that you take your own measurements based on their instructions.  They even suggest not going to a tailor to get your measurements because of the unique measurements the site requests for their algorithm.  However, if you do go to a tailor be sure to print out their Tailor’s Form.  Along the same lines, Indochino cannot accept measurements from an existing well-fitting suit and recreate it because of their unique measurement method.  So you are forced to measure yourself to meet Indochino’s specifications, but hopefully in my case the additional work for the suit jacket will be worth it.

The Gasper Gray Jacket’s Lining
(Courtesy of Indochino)
After all of those steps I was finished and placed my order for one Gasper Gray Herringbone Blazer.  I was pleased with additional style detail choices I had to make for the jacket including which lining I preferred, what type of lapels I wanted, and how I wanted the vents to look.  All of the customization options are free to add if you want to include them.  These include a ticket pocket, functional sleeve buttonholes, and functional boutonniere, among others.  Having placed the order, Indochino will have the jacket to me within 28 days and is sending it with free shipping (which applies no matter where you may order from around the world).
I look forward to receiving my custom jacket and will write a post on the results when I get it.