Altering Jacket Shoulders is Possible

I went against rule number one when considering tailoring modifications–altering your jacket shoulders. For a (recovering) vintage collector like me, the risk was completely worthwhile in order to try to salvage some of my most prized pieces. The results ended up surprising me, just like how they will probably surprise you as you continue in this article.

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Aran Jumpers Between Myth and Tradition

Despite some attempts to weave an origin story out of mythological or romantic anecdotes, the story of Aran jumpers began out of necessity. In the late 19th century, Northern Ireland faced a shortage of potatoes as well as rising unemployment and an emigration crisis. In a remarkable entrepreneurial fit, the Congested Districts Board for Ireland, among other things, suggested people weave and knit garments, and make a living out of this activity.

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How To Smell Fabulous For The Holidays

Despondent, inconsolable, and thoroughly litigated, when last we met not even Mouton Rothschild and locker room photos of the Brazilian national soccer team sufficed to drive off the spleen. 

But that is all in the past: triumphant and rejuvenated, I again face the world and your travails. How have you spent the last few weeks? I envision package tours from an online travel retailer, complete with meal vouchers and a chardonnay whose top unscrews.

I am freshly returned from Ibiza and the annual conference of the Lytton Society, an ancient and proud membership devoted to the study of uranistic adverbs in ancient Roman poetry. Tears were shed; teeth were gnashed. A volume of Catullus very nearly severed my spine. 

Even more than my keynote speech on men’s hosiery in the Horacian Odes, I was admired for my choice of holiday scent. One poetic admirer recalled Papylus, who Martial quips had a member so large that “ut possis, quotiens arrigis, olfacere.” But I digress…

For the holidays, one must have a scent that is dark, deep, warm, and rich, not unlike a Bahraini oil sheikh but without the threat of stoning. Think spices, cloves, musk, resin, woods, and incense. Leave the bergamot, cardamom, and aquatic notes for spring; in the cold weather they’ll be as flat and lifeless as Renée Fleming attempting Isolde. 

Here are four to consider: the first is a secret gem, Guerlain’s Winter DeliceHard to find and oddly marketed as part of their light, inexpensive, and usually fleeting Aqua Allegoria series, this one is a strong, subtle blend of spice and musk. Far from being loud and cloying, it sticks close to the skin and reminds one of Christmas time on the Avenue George V, holding hands with the evening’s preferred sailor on leave from Marseille.

Dipping away from quiet potpourri and into something darker is L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Passage d’enferImagine stone gates, centuries of incense smoked into wooden benches, and cathedrals lit only with a few wax candles. One confesses to forbidden sins through damask curtains, and Ebenezer Scrooge delights in stealing coins from the offering plate.

A little more joyous and less likely to inspire excommunication is Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Secret Melange. Happier, sweeter and less spicy than the others, it is an interesting blend of cloves, citrus fruit, and has a wonderful soapy quality that feels warmer than it does clean. The lovely cut-glass bottle in red and the gilded cap alone are worth the price of admission. Like all MPG scents, it’s a love it or hate it affair; but like most things French, it’s worth at least one ride along the Pigalle.

Perhaps best of all, and most pleasant to the widest audience, is Comme des Garçons’ Incense series. Choose from several varieties, each with a different spirit and essence in mind. Kyoto is a perennial favorite; light and moody as a temple in the Japanese Alps. My own choice is at least a single sniff of Ouarzazate (an obvious and far-too-easy joke about rocking one’s Kasbah will not be a part of this review, my dears). Avignon, Jaisalmer, and Zagorsk round out the series, and all are worth a try. Although well-known for their avant-garde fashion, CdG also has some of the best designer fragrances on the market. 

Even if one wishes to voyage beyond the four above, you must remember that, for scents, the key is impactOne should never buy a scent because it is “nice.” The goal is not to smell “clean,” but to make a mark. Avoid anything that would clash with your scent, so leave your scented soaps, lotions, and deodorants in the dust bin of history. You want to leave a trace of yourself behind, not unlike a fog of wonderful stink that lingers on in a ballroom even after the badinage has run its course. To do otherwise is to make a grave offense to the nose; to borrow a phrase from the Emperor Justinian, such transgressions are a well-known cause of earthquake.


This article was originally published on Styleforum.net by Professor Fabulous.

Styleforum’s “I forgot and I need something right now” Last Minute Christmas Gift Guide for men.

At this time, as Christmas approaches, I start to get antsy.  There is invariably gifts I forgot to send.  There is the always welcome “Send Paypal” option, but if you want to actually send something overnight, or close to, a few retailers are pretty reliable for this.  Unfortunately, this limits you to the “big boys”, big online retailers that can deliver reliably three days or less.  Among these are the giant, Amazon, and then big specialty retailers like Matches Fashion (which ships usually in under 3 days to the US from the UK), and Mr. Porter, which is offering free overnight shipping until Christmas for the real procrastinators.

Here are a few gift ideas that will still get under the Christmas tree in time for the big reveal. 

For your father: A Brooks Brothers Signature Tartan Travel Case

Fathers can be hard to shop for.  My father claims that he doesnt need any stuff.  But I’m sure that he still shaves and brushes his teeth.  And when he travels, I’m pretty sure that this subdued leather and tartan travel case will keep both his razor and his toothbrush in better shape than would that little plastic ziplock bag that TSA insists encases his toothpaste and deodorant. 

For your significant other/better half:  A Barack Obama Pendleton Blanket $370 at matchesfashion.com

Apparently, and I did not know this, but the marriage between Michelle and Barack Obama (Remember that guy? Liked basketball, asked for Dijon mustard on his cheeseburgers, wore mom jeans, from a few years back?) is lauded as a #relationshipgoal.  I had no idea until my social media manager told me.  Anyway, that gave me the idea that a good last minute gift for your significant other might be a Barack Obama Pendleton blanket – , available only, as far as I can tell, from UK online retailer Matches Fashion, which ships to pretty much anywhere in the US at lightspeed.  Not an Obama fan?  Not a worry, it’s just a really cool Pendleton blanket with a traditional black design that will keep you both cozy.

For your sanity: Master & Dynamic MH40 wireless headphones, $550 at MrPorter.com. 

I actually got this idea from one of wife’s colleague, who uses headphones to keep out the looped Christmas playlist that pervades all public spaces this time of year.  I personally love Christmas music, but I hate Christmas travel, and I hate it even more when people try to talk to you on the plane.  So, stick these on, and close your eyes, and they won’t even try.

For your mother: Cire Trudon candles, $71-83 each on Matchesfashion.com

There are a lot, and I mean, a lot, of candle companies out there, and you might be tempted to buy your mother that very modern candle that has gasoline base notes and is housed in an all black ceramic holder.  Unless you know that your mother is really into that, it’s better to stick with more traditional scents like sandalwood, cedar, jasmine, rose, incense, citrus, and so on, that have appealed to our olfactory sense for centuries.  Cire Trudon, France’s oldest candlemaker, made the candles for Napoleon’s wedding, so you are unlikely to go wrong. Plus, the traditional royal blue or moss green with gold crest add a festive touch.  If you get four, Matches fashion packs them very nicely in a set.

For your brother: Quoddy Shearling lined Fireside mocassins, $180 from MrPorter.com

Buying footwear as a gift is fraught with danger.  Shoe sizes vary across the board, as do feet.  A rare exception to this are slippers, houseshoes, and moccassins.  There is no requirement that they will be a perfect fit, unless you are doing some seriously questionable things in your lounge clothes.  These will keep feet warm all winter long, and since they are outfitted with a lightweight Vibram sole, will even allow you brother to go out onto his porch with his coffee and decide that nah, shovelling the driveway can wait a few hours.

And there we have it.  Five gifts that will save your hide and your sanity too boot.  Go forth and be a gift giving winner rather than whatever sorry state you might be in right now.

Sweater Inspiration

As it dips into the low 70s here in Los Angeles, I’m proud to say that sweater weather is finally arriving! I’m ready to pull out my fair isle sweater vests and cotton-wool crew necks out of the bottom drawer of my dresser and start wearing them with tailoring.  But as I do that, I’m reminded of the fact that while high rise has come back in recent years, the length of the sweater has not changed. The hem should really be shorter!

While long sweaters did exist in the 1920s (probably since they were intended as the final, outer layer), there actually was a time when sweaters were hemmed to hit at the natural waist, instead of close to the hips as is done now. This was mainly done in the 1930s-1940s, as you can see in the included images. Also unlike today, the sweaters were cut with higher armholes and a trimmer body in order to make a very fitted silhouette. This silhouette was further emphasized with the wide ribbing, which ensured that the sweater would “cinch” at waist well.

It’s just a personal observation, but I think that sweaters were made this way not just to wear under a sportcoat, but to play into the masculine ideal of the time: broad shoulders, small waist, and long, wide legs. Overall, it’s also probably done to echo the tailored look of a waistcoat (which also tends to be on the long side today). This has since disappeared the closer we got to the modern times. As rises got lower, sweater hems got longer to compensate; sweaters also lost that fitted look.

Now I like to wear sweaters, but it’s definitely a problem with high rise trousers since manufacturers haven’t quite caught up. I run across this problem whether I’m buying good basics at Uniqlo/J. Crew or when even when looking at contemporary, higher quality ones on eBay. To make up for the length I either just tuck the excess fabric into itself or do some awkward blousing which almost always results in a slight muffin top effect. The effect is made obvious as I’m not particularly tall or lanky, which means even a standard small can be a bit long and puffy on me. Though it may be my fault for preferring an extremely high rise, I’m sure that some of you can understand this frustration with your own wardrobe.

It’s especially tough when rocking sweater vests (both the pull over and waistcoat style), since the long length can’t be hidden with any sort of tucking. And having a good fit is probably one of the only ways to make sure you pull off the sweater vest.  Some guys try to cheat the system and shrink them in the wash, but then it could potentially be an expensive mistake. You can always hide the blousing with a sportcoat, but it’s not quite that cold  in LA to layer too much; plus I like the more “casual” look of simply wearing a sweater with denim or chinos.  And as much as 1990s Ralph Lauren is a vibe, I’m not sure many guys are willing to tuck their sweaters into their trousers, especially if they are wearing a button-up and tie underneath.

Luckily, some makers have taken notice. One that comes to mind instantly is Simon James Cathcart, a niche vintage reproduction brand. They have released a virtually identical sweater to ones from the 1930s, complete with a high V, waist-correct length, and wide ribbing for a fitted figure. It’s pretty perfect, though it probably leans a bit too vintage for most and there aren’t many options available yet.

Thomas Farthing, another UK brand, also has a waistcoat style sweater. I also seem to remember that the Drake’s x Armoury sweater vests are cut higher to for this reason. I own an original one from Drake’s and they fit the bill just as well; I also leave the last few buttons unfastened so that the true length isn’t as apparent. I’m sure there are others who have taken notice and with the rise of online custom, it won’t be long before guys are able to order a decent length for high waisted trousers.

For now, I’ll try my luck with vintage since it’s an affordable way to get the details without compromising too much.  Picking a true vintage one from the 1960s or 1970s (hopefully in natural fabrics) can be common in select thrift stores and still comes with a decent length for high rise trousers.  Occasionally I’ll come across ones from the 1930s-1940s online, which are the real gems. I’ll just take the small moth holes as signs of character.

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If vintage isn’t for you, trying on modern brands in a size smaller than you’re used to could also achieve the look; not only will it be shorter in length, but the trimmer fit could be more desirable, especially in a merino wool (I wouldn’t recommend that for a thick shetland number).  Of course, there are a bunch of DIY tricks I’ve heard from other guys like shrinking or even hemming it at the tailor but that’s also a dangerous road to tread. Or we can just be hopeful that the market will lean in our favor, just as they did for high rise trousers.

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18 East: A Chat with Antonio Ciongoli About His Travel-Inspired New Project

Antonio likes Italian, but now he wants you to try something Indian. Other options include Japanese, Irish, or North African, because, for him, each place offers something interesting.
We’re chatting in La Cumbre, one of the restaurants in San Francisco that claims to be the birthplace of the Mission-style burrito, and Antonio is all smiles.
“Man, you guys have it good. There’s probably a million places to get Mexican food out here. I love it.”  We’re talking about Antonio’s new project, 18 East, which was born, in part, from his visit to Rajasthan a few years ago. He was struck by the various patterns and silhouettes that, while commonplace there, are relatively unused by Western designers. Inspired by his visit, he designed a handful of clothing for his subsequent collections for Eidos, but it wasn’t enough.
“I loved my time at Eidos, but there was so much I couldn’t do,” he recalls. “For one thing, there are so many artisans all over the world, but with Eidos, I could only use their Italian factories. Not that they weren’t great – their knitwear is simply amazing – but they just can’t recreate what we saw in India. In Jaipur, there are huge indigo fields as far as the eye can see where they hand-dip and then air-dry garments. No factory in Italy can do that.”  
“Besides, the idea of massive two-season collections doesn’t make sense to me,” he continues. “There’s the stuff I’d do for Eidos, and then the exclusives for various vendors, like Barney’s and Bloomingdales – literally hundreds of pieces, all at the same time. Guys aren’t looking for polo coats in September – they’re looking for transitional pieces.” With 18 East, Antonio is able to focus on a few dozen pieces seasonal-appropriate every couple months. “I’d rather do a few unique pieces that I’m really excited about, rather than producing an item just to check off a list.”
While it’s true that the items from this drop are influenced by the textiles he saw in India & Nepal, they are not simple imitations. The next day I go to Unionmade to check out the clothes in person, and I’m impressed with just how wearable everything is. Sure, there’s a uniqueness to them – the hand-blocked prints and intricate woven patches, especially – but nothing is so far out that would make the wearer self-conscious. “I didn’t want to create a line that would alienate people,” Antonio says while sipping a beer at the store. He then points to the corduroy sherpa coat hanging on a mannequin. “Take this jacket, for example. It’s my favorite from the collection. It reminds me of something you’d see at a Vermont head shop.”

18 East "Charlotte" sherpa travel vest and belter corduroy rancher coat.

18 East “Charlotte” sherpa travel vest and belted corduroy rancher coat.

Online, I immediately was drawn to the red pajamas (inspired by Steve McQueen’s character in Bullitt) and made a b-line over to them on the rack.  Unfortunately, photos and words can’t do them justice – they really are special.  In two seconds they were off the rack and bagged at the counter, and I wore them that night.  They’re a little different, but the muted color and repeating kalamkari and bagru patterns provide just the right amount of visual interest, and I’ve found they go well under sweaters and jackets.

18 East "Julian" Vintage pajama created with kalamkari - a traditional block-printing method.

18 East “Julian” Vintage pajama created with kalamkari – a traditional block-printing method.

I also picked up the tie-waist cardigan. Made from a donegal-style yarn of sheep’s wool and yak, Antonio chose to use a basketweave to fashion this kimono-style sweater, giving it an insane amount of depth and texture. “That cardigan was a happy accident,” he recounts as I try it on. “We first made it without the placket, and the ends curled up in a funky way.  Then someone attached this placket from the inside, and it just fell perfectly.”
Prices are reasonable, and the general silhouette of the clothes, while loose, is far from baggy.  As a reference, I’m 5’8” and 160lbs, and I took a small in everything and felt comfortable. This first drop had nominal sizing information on the 18East website (e.g. “This garment is oversized”) and it took me a couple tries to find the best size for me in person. Future collections will have measurements to minimize confusion and help get a better idea of how each garment fits. It’s a departure from his much-beloved suiting at Eidos, and for the time being, Antonio isn’t planning on introducing any tailored clothing at all.

18 East "Hima" chainstitch crewneck and "Nomad" tie waist cardigan.

18 East “Hima” chainstitch crewneck and “Nomad” tie waist cardigan.

“Don’t wear any of these clothes with a tie,” he chuckles. “Matching tops and bottoms, though, that’s something I’d like to explore a little in the future.” He shows me pictures from a photoshoot he did earlier in the week with Marco (@KamoteJoe on the forum) wearing pants and a shirt in matching fabrics. “You see this often in India, and it looks fantastic. You’ll see something like this later on. Don’t get me wrong – an Italian suit is great, but it’s not the only suit there is.”
While it may be an obvious statement that there is wearable fashion everywhere, it’s another thing entirely to incorporate global influences in a way that doesn’t come off as ethnic appropriation. From Antonio’s collections, you get the feeling that if Antonio wasn’t in fashion, he’d be a chef, finding inspiration in local flavors around the world.
“But what is local?” he asks back at the restaurant, and it’s a good question. The Mission burrito, stuffed to cylindrical hugeness with equal amounts of beans, rice, and meat, is undeniably San Franciscan, but has origins elsewhere. Ditto for cioppino, chop suey, sourdough, Irish coffee…the list goes on. Like many international cities, the Bay Area readily embraces foreign tastes and incorporates them often into their dishes, because how boring would it be to eat the same thing over and over again?
“I couldn’t agree more,” Antonio says between bites. “As much as I love the pizza in Napoli, I love Philly pizza just as much. As long as it’s good, does it matter where it comes from?”

Photos courtesy of 18East and Ian Anderson
Discuss 18 East with other Styleforum members on this thread.

How to Bring Old Shoes Back to Life

Since winning the 2018 Styleforum Shoe Revival Challenge I have been asked by a number of people how this transformation was possible. I have been accused of everything from photoshopping to taking a picture of a new pair next to an old pair to dark magic…really?? In reality, it is not as complicated as it may look.
This is how I do a transformation to bring old shoes back to life:

Allen Edmonds Cream Polish  •  Saphir Pate de Luxe  •  Saphir Mirror Gloss

To start I strip the leather with Fiebings deglazer (you could substitute Angelus or Saphir products here). This is an acetone-based solution that strips off any old polish and the factory dye coatings. It should leave a dry and basic tan looking leather after.
The challenge pair in particular didn’t really require much stripping since the factory finish was fairly non-existent from the get-go. Now some leathers that are too highly processed (corrected grain leather) and are more “plasticky” in nature will not strip at all. So mid-tier to higher quality brands like Allen Edmonds, Magnanni, Santoni, Ferragamo, and this To Boot New York pair tend to do better. 
After deglazing, I use Venetian shoe cream to condition the leather as the stripping process dries it up some. You could substitute a Saphir conditioning lotion here too…both are all non-tinted white creams or lotions.  
Now is where the magic begins. I use Fiebings alcohol-based dyes. Again you can substitute Angelus or Saphir products. I only have used Fiebings and have been very pleased with them. I start from light to dark. Pick a lighter base coat…beige, tan, oxblood, light blue etc. Then move on to darker colors for accents, brogueing, burnishing and antiquing like medium brown, chocolate, mahogany, navy blue. For the challenge pair, I used buckskin base color and black for the antiquing. I probably did 2 rounds of base coat and 2 – 4 of antiquing.  
After each round of dye, some will penetrate, staining the leather and some will remain on the surface. I use the Venetian shoe cream in between coats to recondition the leather and to remove surface dye….remember its alcohol based so it dries the leather again. You can substitute Saphir cream and can even use tinted creams in between dye coats to add some color and create a more durable finish. If not done in between dye coats then definitely at the end of the dye process I will use a number of coats of colored cream polished with a thorough brushing in between.
For the challenge pair, I used a few coats of Allen Edmonds Saddle Brown cream polish over the entire shoe only at the end after my dyeing was complete. 
Finally, I use the hard waxes to top coat and give the mirror shine. Even the inexpensive waxes in a tin can give satisfactory results here but I prefer Saphir pate de luxe and the Saphir mirror gloss. I will typically use a very light coat along the vamp, sides and flex points as well as a very light tinted color here. A light coat because a mirror shine on the vamp will crack when the shoe bends….don’t do it!
For the heels and toes, I use a darker tinted polish to enhance antiquing and many more layers to give that mirror shine. Again mirror on non-bending areas of the shoe only.
For the challenge, I used Saphir cognac pate de luxe on the sides and vamp and dark brown for the heels and toes. I finished with Saphir mirror gloss in neutral for the perfect shine on the toes and heels. 
If you would like a custom antiqued pair hit me up on Styleforum username Mbaldinger, or on instagram under MBShoeDoc, or eventually on my website www.MBShoeDoc.com (this is a work in progress and is not up and running yet).
Mike Baldinger aka TheShoeDoc

Take a Summer Vacation from Your Usual Wardrobe

Depending on what one does for work, most of us live day-in, day-out in the same clothes, and frankly, it can get a little boring.  Even if one adds items for social occasions, sport, and loungewear, unless one is looking to draw attention to oneself, you’re generally limited to what is practical and acceptable for whatever society you live in.  But traveling, especially to another country and culture, opens up opportunities to do as the Romans do in an environment and setting free from dress codes or OSHA requirements.  Why not take advantage of it?

If old Esquire articles are any indication, resort wear was practically born on vacation, simultaneously in the Riviera, the Far East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil – everywhere that Americans and Brits would go on holiday.  Once away from home, travelers were free to incorporate local dress in a manner that would otherwise be considered outlandish and were encouraged to do so liberally; bold prints and vivid colors might be garish in the boardroom, but they fit in perfectly well amongst the tropical flora and fauna.  Rough-textured and wrinkled fabrics might not inspire confidence when meeting clients downtown, but in 100 degree weather and 100% humidity you’d be mad to consider anything else.   Sandals, espadrilles, and loafers were the preferred footwear, because who wants to be troubled with laces on vacation?

In such an environment, a suit almost seemed silly, but for occasions that did require it, suiting options were white, tan, peach, yellow; anything but dark worsted.  Since most of one’s vacation time would be spent in less formal settings, the majority of the suggested outfits offered were much more casual, and some were fairly avant garde, especially given the time: a Mexican poncho in terry cloth, a diaphanous shirt in silk mesh, a pith helmet, and matching beach-jacket-and-shorts combo in madras.  Loose fits, open weaves, and indigenous motifs were choice favorites.

How well-heeled socialites of the time would become willing – if only on holiday – to trade bow ties for bush shirts is a mystery.  Or did they secretly love sarongs all along?  Who knows, but many items that were introduced as “resort wear” eventually made their way from the elite to the masses.  The jippi-jappa hat, for example, was a straw hat typically worn by plantation laborers in Jamaica and adopted by vacationers in Nassau.  The happi coat was a westernized version of the Japanese hanten shirt, described as a “short sleeved, sawed off kimono”; originally worn by summertime workers in the field, its loose, belted fit and open sleeves offered breezy comfort with just the right amount of international panache when lazing about under the umbrella.

Some of these looks were reinterpreted in the 90s, but in contrast with the heavy and dry cloths of the past, new weaves lightened up the fabrics and gave them a drapey, luxe feel.  roomy trousers, easy-fitting band collar shirts, and softly constructed and unlined jackets in various shades of white or muted hues of earthy colors are perfect for leisure pursuits among the sandstone and faded whitewash of the Mediterranean.  Say what you will about “fit”, but there’s nothing that’ll kill your chill quicker than constricting clothes.

In fact, many designers have been resurrecting this louche look for the last few years in their collections.  My favorites for summer resort-hopping are the ones that capture a hint of that vacation vibe without going overboard. 

If you’re just dipping your toes into vacation wear, stick with the basics – shirts, trousers, and shoes – and choose casual fabrics in light or summery colors.  Look for telltale signs of do-nothingness: rayon camp shirts with collars meant to be worn open, drawstring linen easy pants that accommodate overindulgence, and slip-on espadrilles. 

You don’t have to go all-out baggy everything; an easy way to incorporate loose fits is by playing with proportions: roomy trousers with a more fitted top, or a slightly oversized shirt with classic-fitting shorts. 

Much inspiration can be taken from Antonio Ciongoli’s tenure when he was the creative lead of Eidos.  During my last few vacations near the sand and sea of Sicily, I found myself constantly reaching for his gauzy, wide-legged trousers and loosely belted jackets in breezy, textured fabrics.

I love Charlie’s wardrobe choices (@sebastianmcfox on StyleForum and Instagram) from when he was in Italy this summer.  For dressier occasions under the Tuscan sun he wore a nubby linen green jacket, white polo shirt, tan Panama hat, khaki cotton trousers and brown loafers.  For a wedding he wore a tobacco linen suit, tasteful light blue shirt, black grenadine tie, and white pocket square.  His more casual outfits consisted of just one print, usually a camp collar shirt or striped tee, and safari jackets in linen and cotton, easy pants, and white sneakers.  Everything looks comfortable, relaxed, and stylish.  In other words: perfect vacation wear.

For someone who enjoys clothes, you can’t do much better than a vacation as an excuse to expand your wardrobe.  Or at the very least, attempt to.  Not only will you look cool, you’ll wear cool as well, and besides, it’s great fun.  Embrace the batik.

Pics from Esquire, Urban Composition, and Sebastian McFox.

Looking Beyond Blues and Greys: Green in Menswear

Last year, green was quite popular as a color pathway for menswear, and I must admit I think I’ve picked up more green items in the last year than I have ever purchased before. In the past, I had purchased a green accessory here or there, such as a a pocket square or a tie, or a pair of green socks (Vert Academie of course!) but green clothing was fewer and far in between; a waxed Barbour jacket, a pair of cotton trousers, and a sport coat in a linen silk blend were the only green items present in my closet.

Despite the lack of green clothing, seeing all the outfits posted on Styleforum and Instagram, I came to a realization that green is not an enemy; green garments are quite useful in most people’s wardrobes, providing lots of diverse shades and hues for each season. Even if it seems that green is not year-round as an option, I have come to believe that green is one of the perfect colors to use in your wardrobe as a unifying color pathway, but with different ranges for each season, providing ample selections that are appropriate strictly for either Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer.

One problem is that most people–myself included–fail to understand just how diverse green can be: when you think green, oftentimes one or two shades pop up in your mind. However, you have to break that conception and look beyond your a priori imagination of an outfit. For instance, green includes the various tones that form other colors that you might have in your wardrobe already. These include olive, dark khaki, moss, in addition to the more common or true greens like bottle green, hunter, forest, and the like. With plenty of different shades and hues to choose from, the color suits many different occasions.

I find it easiest to think about the overall wardrobe by categories, organized by functionality and type. By dividing your wardrobe into garment types, we can categorize them in the following ways which will allow you to then better understand what colors serve which roles in each category: outerwear, tailoring, trousers (bottoms), tops, shoes and accessories. If your wardrobe is already established-following internet suggestions, most likely you have a lot of a few staple colors–either blues, grays or browns. However, green can go well with most of these colors and has a place in each wardrobe segment. As I noted above, the green shade/hue varies depending on the time of year and the garment type. As a general rule of thumb, the less vibrant a green is–like most colors–the more appropriate it is for winter or fall garments.

As follows is a brief analysis of each category:

green menswear classic style

Tops obviously include all the garments you wear at base layers above the waist. For green, I believe that in many cases, a sweater or cardigan is more likely a better garment to invest in than a shirt (honestly, how many green classical shirtings can you think of?). That isn’t to say that a shirt in your wardrobe in green would not look nice, it is just to say that it is less likely you are going to find a staple piece you are going to love; plus, a sweater or cardigan can serve as a layering piece, meaning basic blue and white shirts would be appropriate underneath it. The only exception here is that polo shirts may be a cheaper and easier to find options for a forest green top.

Sweaters, especially with forest green or sage green tones, work wonderfully for fall/winter staples, seeing as how they go with all the earthy tones that you would have access to, without adding something too contrasting in an outfit. The goal in selecting a green sweater would be to add visual interest to the top half of the outfit; instead of using go to hell pants and lending visual interest at the bottom, green sweaters work as a color block for the upper body when the sweater is the final layer. If it is under a coat or jacket, it can serve as a mid-contrast layer to bridge the color of a coat and the shirt or pants. On the opposite spectrum, you might choose to wear a warmer sweater to provide contrast, blocking your lower body with green-toned trousers (think moss or dark khaki).

For shirts, you can likely imagine more vibrant colors working best without additional layers (no one wants you to wear a lime green shirt let alone with a sweater over it). In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that saturated colors, being more summery, require fewer layers to achieve that light visual aesthetic. As such, pastel or mid-toned greens work well as a shirt or top when paired with a more neutral cream or light colored pant.

 

green tailored suit menswear

You see plenty of pants that have green tones in them. While go to hell colors work for summer or spring (bright mint or ivy green pants), you are better off investing in forest, olive, moss, and in general earth-toned green shades, seeing as how they are easily used as replacements for pants that you would normally wear (khaki, tan, brown, navy). In addition, because the green adds visual interest to the bottom part of the outfit (color blocking the bottom in place of the top) solid green trousers can make patterns look less busy on the top: for instance, a tweed jacket with a windowpane check will look milder when paired with green trousers than a similar jacket worn with brown or a more similar tonal pant. The darker nature of most green trouser options helps balance out the top half of an outfit. In this case, dark hunter green, pine green, forest green or the like are excellent color choices.

green sartorial outfit

The most expensive additions to your wardrobe should be your outerwear and tailoring. Outerwear is perhaps my favorite category in my wardrobe. And the beautiful thing about outerwear is that there are easy to find green options: old military jackets, field jackets, waxed cotton jackets, parkas and the like are all traditional or relatively easy items to locate which serve plenty of use. Many of these garments have a specific color that is characteristic of them: for instance, Barbour with it’s olive waxed cotton; or military jackets like the M-65 with its army green or the Vietnam-era jungle jackets; parkas with their green or dark khaki fabric. Because outerwear is oftentimes used only for three seasons, the colors for the garments lend themselves to darker, less saturated colors. Naturally, there are exceptions: If you don’t mind an eccentric touch, a coat in panno casentino in its traditional, saturated emerald color, is a great addition to a sartorial wardrobe.

green in menswear

If you are a Styleforum user, chances are tailoring gets you excited. Whether you are buying off the rack, made to measure, or bespoke, it isn’t as if green options do not exist. Regardless of wherever you source your green sport coat or suit, I would suggest erring towards the side of darker and muted green, as you don’t want to run the risk of being mistaken for a leprechaun. The best part of green in tailoring is that it can be found as an accent in a lot of different weeds; plaids or checks provide you the opportunity to feature some green in your outfit without looking over the top. It also works well in that sense for winter, seeing as how such fabrics are oftentimes heavier weight.

With that warning aside, personally, I do have a jacket that borders on Cyan/Green, which is appropriate for summer months, but seeing as how it is almost a mint cream, it works only with lighter colors that have no sort of warmth in them at all (optical whites or light blues or cool grays). That isn’t to say I can’t make a good looking outfit wearing that jacket–it is just that it is less versatile and in that sense, it becomes a more difficult piece to use–and therefore it is harder to justify its existence. Lighter colored greens in tailoring should probably only find their way into your wardrobe if you live in warm or perpetual summer locations, or you wish to exhibit a bit of a Riviera style while on vacation. They do not really look appropriate at anything other than a spring/summer party or a coastal getaway.

My other true-green garment is a mid/dark green hopsack sport coat that works well for winter and fall, mostly because the colors lend themselves to other shades, and it doesn’t look too festive or overwhelming.

green clothes tailored

The easiest way to up your green game is to use accessories. Most blues or browns will go well with some ties or pocket squares that contain a green element. They are the cheapest path for you to invest in using green as an accent, and you can identify which colors will go well with the green by just holding it up to a jacket or shirt that you are thinking of wearing it with. Silk printed squares help you identify what shades of green complement or contrast other colors, enabling you to better understand how that particular shade will work in your wardrobe with different colored articles. Because pocket squares are oftentimes some of the cheapest accessories (outside of socks, though not everyone attempts to show off their socks), investing in green accessories is the perfect way to change up your wardrobe if it is already firmly established with the essentials and you are not seeking any other major investments in tailoring or the like.

While shoes can be classified as their own category in your wardrobe, green leather is not that common, and I’ve only rarely seen a pair or two of green shoes (in suede!). As such, I would treat the shoes as an accessory here, and will only write that browns without warmth and red tones, meaning browns with greener tones, will pair nicely with greens in your wardrobe.


Obviously, certain shades of green invoke different sentiments or tropes, so paying attention to what you are wearing is still a necessity. It doesn’t make sense to dress completely in green unless you wanted to look foolish (or you’re an “influencer” visiting Pitti Uomo). However, the diversity in the color and the fact that many of us spend time outdoors now instead of just stuck in an office means that green has become an acceptable color pathway to utilize, and therefore should be treated as another major asset in our menswear toolbox, alongside blue, browns and grays.