What to Wear on a 24 Hour trip

The other day I found myself in a familiar stressful situation: I arrived home from work at 6:30 PM and had a plane to catch in less than two hours. And I hadn’t packed yet.  
Crazy, I know; packing procrastination does that to you.  For a dizzying moment, I felt overwhelmed, trying to visualize outfits with my closet content revolving in my mind like a tie organizer.  And then I thought: what if my choices were limited?
My trip wasn’t long – just a little over 24 hours from the time I board the plane to the moment I touch down from my return flight – and it wasn’t as I had to pack for a vacation. I just needed to be comfortable enough for the flight down, an all-day assembly the next day, and the return flight home.
Why waste time fretting over different outfits if I could make one outfit last 24 hours? 
Can one outfit last 24 hours?  

what to wear on 24 hour trip menswear sport coat tailored

Sport Coat: Spier & MacKay

Shirt: Finamore

Pants: Rubinacci

Shoes: Alden

Belt: W. Kleinberg

Pocket Square: Drake’s

Tie: Drake’s

Scarf: Drake’s


Here’s what I chose: 
For sheer flexibility, nothing beats good old gray flannel trousers – mid-grey to be precise. You could wear them from the boardroom to the bedroom and no one would bat an eye. They’re like dress sweats, with a crease and a fly. I grabbed an alligator belt to cinch them up.
A jacket, of course, is a no-brainer. You want to have easily-accessible pockets to stash your boarding pass & ID that you’ll be taking out a million times to show every TSA agent in the airport. Get yourself the right sport coat, one that you can dress up or down, and you can take it anywhere, from meetings to martinis. The all-purpose navy blazer is the obvious choice, but it’s not the only one. I really like this classic tan gunclub from Spier & MacKay. The houndstooth pattern is casual without being crazy, and being a shetland wool tweed, its looser weave makes it feel more like a cozy sweater than a rigid jacket. 
Instead of a blue oxford cloth button-down shirt, which is the fail-safe option, I chose its slightly more stylish cousin, the dark chambray spread collar shirt from Finamore. I like how the darker color and twill weave pair particularly well with tweed jackets. Plus, it’s a fantastic fabric. My wife says it’s denim, but I can’t say that I agree, because then I’d have to explain why I’m recommending a denim shirt to meetings. Just say “chambray” and you’ll stay above reproach.
Everyone always says loafers are a good choice for airports, and for good reason: you can easily slip them on and off at security and in the plane, and they go equally well with dressy or casual outfits. If you have a high instep though, the band on the vamp of traditional penny loafers may cause a bit of discomfort when worn for an extended period of time. That’s why I chose tassel loafers – they generally have no band.  And while I do have cordovan tassels, I grabbed my suede pair from Alden. For sheer shoe comfort, suede tassels are tough to beat, and I find they go well with flannel trousers and tweed jackets.
 
Leaving to catch the plane, 7 PM Friday evening
peter 24 hours same clothes
I wore this on the plane knowing I’d be wearing this not only on the flight down, but at the assembly as well, which meant I had to choose accessories. For ties, you’d be hard pressed to find a one more versatile than a dark solid silk knit. The crunchy, nubby, slightly shiny texture plays well with everything from plain worsted suits to busy sport coats. As I recently gave my navy one away (as a hint to a bro who painfully tries to mix patterns), I opted for a dark green one instead. That, as well as the matte silk/wool square with a large pattern I grabbed to complement it, are both from Drake’s.
 
At the assembly, noon Saturday
After the assembly, I would get rid of the tie and square and exchange them for a scarf. Of course, I could’ve just loosened the tie, but I’m not one of those guys that wear a tie just because. Ties signal a recognition of seriousness or solemnity; don’t dilute their meaning by just wearing them willy-nilly. When the situation calls for it, by all means, tie up and show respect. Otherwise, adorn your neck with a scarf.
For those of you with a penchant for crazy ties but know better, this is your opportunity to give in – a little –  to your ornamentation fixation. This one is from forum member X of Pentacles, and is the perfect pattern and color for a casual scarf; it stuffed easily in my briefcase, along with my tie, square, and an extra pair of unmentionables.  

 

Getting ready to fly home, Saturday evening

 

In retrospect, I think the experiment went well.  I was never uncomfortable in my clothes, and I had everything I needed to be presentable; that much I expected. However, what I didn’t expect was the weightlessness of it all.
All the familiar stresses of travel were gone. Having everything in my briefcase meant there was no luggage to lug around to the check-in counter; not even a carryon to heave and stow in the overhead bin. When I arrived, there was no need to wait by the baggage claim; I just left the terminal and got an Uber. The next morning there was no time spent deciding what to wear because I had packed only one choice. And after the assembly I didn’t need to organize my belongings; I simply picked up my briefcase and left for the airport. In the end, I realized that eliminating options wasn’t restricting – it was liberating. 
Maybe there is something to living a simple life after all.  I should think about that when I order my next suit.

Casual meets Classic – The Evolution of My Wardrobe Incorporating Casual Outerwear

Wearing casual outerwear with more tailored, classic menswear has quickly become one of my favorite styles. In this article, I want to give some insights into how I built my current outerwear collection, along with what styles I plan to add in the future. I’ll also touch on some of the basic principles I use when pulling outfits together, and finally, I will provide some guidance on what items I feel pair best when incorporating casual outerwear into your wardrobe.

Building My Casual Outerwear Collection

At the beginning of 2017, I owned only two pieces of outwear: a lightweight bomber jacket for spring, and a heavier jacket for winter. I made it my mission in 2017 to focus on adding quality, casual outerwear pieces to my wardrobe. I’d first like to review the process I used when choosing these items, in addition to how I pair them with work attire.

When it comes to choosing outerwear, versatility is the name of the game for me. I have a fairly tight clothing budget so I carefully consider how much use I am likely to get out of an item before deciding to pull the trigger. When starting my outerwear search, I turned to Instagram for inspiration, searching hashtags like #styleforum, #mnswr #ptoman, as well as a few of my favorite accounts such as @stylejournaldaily, @drakesdiary, and @sartorialviking. With my research in hand, I was able to narrow down a few styles I felt could be dressed up or down with relative ease. I found myself gravitating towards field jackets, chore coats, safari jackets, and classic waxed 2 pocket jackets like the Barbour Beaufort. I quickly realized that a combo of these casual styles in staple colors would be versatile enough to wear with a ton of looks – everything from trousers and a tie during the week to jeans and a tee on weekends.

I remember first trying to find field jackets and suede bomber jackets, the latter of which I have still yet to get in my hands. I searched relentlessly through the Styleforum buy & sell section looking for anything that may fit the build. There were pieces like the Eidos “Ragosta” and suede bombers from Valstar that were perfect but out of my budget. As my search continued, about a year ago I posted a wanted ad looking for any that might be sitting in people closets not being used. When that failed, I realized that it was probably for the best considering the price point; then, I turned to eBay to see what more affordable options I could find. After stalking Luxe Swap eBay listings for weeks on end I ended up bidding on and winning a couple amazing field jackets: a navy from Brunello Cucinelli and an unlined tan cotton by Aspesi. A short while later, I added a vintage Private White VC “Squaddie” waxed wool jacket (also from eBay) and a few used Epaulet field jackets off of Grailed.

The last style I wanted to add to my wardrobe was a classic chore coat, and this one took me a few tries to get right. After trying out a few brands and having to return or sell them due to fit issues, Epaulet released their updated chore coat design called the “Doyle”. I quickly snatched up one in olive duck canvas and it became one of my favorite pieces in my closet. I have since added two more “Doyle” jackets, one in an indigo dyed cotton sashiko fabric and another in banana yellow wool.

Future Acquisitions

Looking into 2018, I do have some additional outerwear items on my wish list. These items will be ones that can further bridge the gap between casual and classic menswear as I transition to more tailored items.

A field jacket like the Eidos “Ragosta” in a navy Donegal fabric is first on my list pending budget. I’d also like to pick up a slightly more tailored piece of outerwear like a raglan topcoat or belted coat but in a casual patterned cloth, such as a herringbone or houndstooth. I will be keeping a close eye on Styleforum affiliate Spier & Mackay as they hinted at adding some patterned topcoats to their line this fall. Epaulet also took to Instagram to preview plans for an updated version of their field jacket, which I am very excited to see finalized. Lastly, I am looking forward to what Private White VC does in 2018; they sold off a lot of their current 2017 inventory, which I can only hope means big things are coming.

Putting it all Together – How to Blend Casual Outerwear and Classic Menswear

The one challenge I have found with casual outwear is that you can never really get the pieces to work all that well with suits or full formal attire – unless the former is very casual in cut and fabric. With this, I like to stick to layering casual outerwear over unstructured sport coats and textured fabrics and accessories. These are the kinds of items I have found incorporate easily into an outfit with a casual jacket: oxford shirts, flannel or cotton trousers, denim, tweed or cotton sport coats, and knit or shantung ties.

When it comes to building an outfit that includes casual outerwear, I like to start from the ground up. I first choose my trousers as I have less variety to choose from at the moment and therefore need to build my outfits around them. I have a wide variety of shirts so I typically select this piece based on my plan for layering/outerwear that day. For example, if I am planning to wear a bold cardigan I may opt for a simple white or light blue shirt. However, without the sweater, I would likely choose a striped shirt to make more of a statement. Getting comfortable pairing items in my wardrobe took practice and experimentation while I got a feel for what I liked and what would work well with my personal style. After pairing outfits like this for many months it has become second nature, which is great because a couple years ago this process could be rather daunting at times!

Finishing Touches

When choosing a tie I’ll look at my chosen shirt and cardigan, or lack of a cardigan, for guidance. My current collection of ties is quite casual, including lots of soft fabrics, knits, slubby shantung, and grenadines. From there, I will select my footwear and outerwear last. I’d like to say I have some sort of method to my madness here, but in all honesty, both items get chosen almost exclusively based on the weather that day. I’ve built a strong base of versatile items in both categories and will likely go into much more detail on my footwear collection at another time. Like other areas of my wardrobe, my footwear collection falls on the casual end of the spectrum (i.e. I do not own any balmoral shoes or anything in black). When it comes to the weather, if it’s wet or raining outside I’ll typically grab a waxed jacket like my Private White VC “Squaddie” jacket and functional footwear with rubber soles. When it’s dry out, which is about 4 months of the year in Calgary, Alberta, anything goes in my eye! As mentioned above, with my outerwear pieces being quite versatile, the last factor I consider is what piece would contrast best with my chosen trousers. My favorite casual outerwear as of late is the olive duck canvas “Doyle” jacket from Epaulet.

Why Blend Casual & Classic Pieces?

Pairing casual outerwear with classic pieces gives you a chance to experiment with textures and more saturated colors. It’s also a great way to spice up your business casual attire. Don’t be afraid to pair up some less conservative color palettes and outerwear that you may have written off as exclusively casual. If you try something similar out and are on Instagram I’d love to see – tag me (@burzanblog) in your pictures so I can check out how you guys style your casual outfits.

For more inspiration, you can browse the What Are You Wearing Today – Classic Menswear, Casual Style thread on the forum.

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How to Declutter Your Winter Wardrobe

It’s half past 8, it’s 25°F outside, and you’re rushing to get out the door—running late for work again. You throw open your closet to choose a coat to layer up over your suit.

“Hmmmm, which one will I wear today?

“I could go full Russian and wear the Norwegian Rain Moscow with fur collar. But that’s my favorite coat and I wore that yesterday.

“I could go full Italian with the Eidos topcoat. Ehhh, that’s too insouciant for the workplace.

“I suppose I could go full #menswear and wear the robe coat. Nah, I’ll get a hundred snide comments.

“Dang it, now it’s 20 to 9 and I still haven’t picked a coat. Forget it, I’ll wear the Moscow again.”

The signs are obvious—it’s a Tide ad.

Just kidding, you’ve got a #menswear problem.

Maybe it’s time to declutter your winter wardrobe, including—but not limited to—your sweet outerwear collection. Here are five tips to help you do so.

declutter your winter wardrobe

I wrote a little bit about this in one of my previous article. The gist is to have a system for your clothes—whether it’s shirts, trousers, jackets, coats—where it’s obvious what you have worn recently and what you have not. Doing so allows you to identify what winter wardrobe items you just don’t wear.

I don’t recommend going full Marie Kondo, assessing the specific level of joy each thing brings, then donating the rest of it—but, if there are jackets, sweaters, flannel shirts, or anything else that you haven’t worn all winter because there’s other stuff you enjoy wearing more, it’s probably safe to get rid of those things.

declutter your winter wardrobe

Allow me to state that besides the “joy” factor, there is a time that you have to acknowledge that your style has changed and maybe it’s time to get rid of old things you never wear for that reason. There was a good season or two I was still gaming the J.Crew sales to try to score good deals on V-neck merino sweaters before realizing, “wait a minute, I don’t actually wear these things.”

There’s also a time to acknowledge your #dadbod, to put it charitably. Looking at my own dad, I can see that at my age, he had roughly the same body shape as I do. But something clearly happened in the ensuing 10-15 years (at 62, he’s back to my size again, and I have a mind to kop an Eidos jacket or two for him at some point). I fully intend to maintain my current fitness level forever, but we all know best intentions don’t always go fulfilled. If you find yourself in a position of unfulfilled intent, consider it an opportunity to sell off old clothes that don’t fit and upgrade with something that does.

Besides, those old 32 waist APCs have too low a rise for your more sophisticated appreciation of higher rise denim.

declutter your winter wardrobe menswear

There’s a point where you can declutter too much. I know because I’ve been there. My friend Jonathan had gotten engaged, and for his bachelor party, we went paintballing—in March (in Ohio). Sounds like a great (if freezing) time, except I had purged my closet of nearly everything I might’ve been okay getting covered in paint. I wore pebble-grain chukka boots from Banana Republic that up until then were still in somewhat regular rotation (this was early in my menswear transformation, cut me some slack). So while I enjoyed the final gauntlet we put Jonathan through (he had welts all over his body for his honeymoon), I was definitely not appropriately dressed for that day.

These days, I make sure to have stuff in my closet or in storage bins downstairs so that I’m not caught without the right gear. Like a few weeks ago when I dug a trench outside my house for drainage in 30° weather after a week of heavy rain. I was glad to have a fleece, old jeans and some old boots to work in the mud in.

declutter your winter wardrobe men

Back in my merino V-neck wearing days, I recall having a perfect navy sweater. It was from Banana Republic and I wore it to great effect all the time (in particular over a blue gingham button-up shirt—you know the one). But even then I recognized that Banana quality left something to be desired, and there came a point within 2-3 years that it was clearly showing its age. I knew I needed to replace it and reduce how often I wore it.

I’m not the kind of guy to, say, buy seven identical pairs of shoes so as to spread out the wear and tear amongst them and prolong their natural life. But I do think it’s good to recognize those things you’ve identified as your best-of, favorite items (see point 1), and when there’s an awesome deal on the same or very similar thing, you can buy it to keep the magic alive. Depending on what it is, you can take advantage of seasonal sales, especially if you’re under no time pressure to immediately replace it.

declutter your winter wardrobe outerwear

The coat matrix skews admittedly toward a tailored-favoring audience, so I apologize to the streetwear guys. But it can be useful for classifying the coats in your wardrobe, which will, in turn, help you spot gaps (or surpluses in certain categories). The gist is to break your outerwear into categories based on the level of formality level, and how warm they are.

It’s fair to say that the colder months are more ripe for dressing well because of all the layering opportunities and wealth of great clothing categories (sweaters, outerwear, scarves, etc.). The flip side of that is that the risk of over-stocking your closet to the detriment of warm-weather attire. You need to save some room in your wardrobe so you can look great all year round—not just when it’s freezing outside.

Use these five tips to help free up some space and clear out the cruft of your wardrobe. Of course what you do with that newly vacant space is up to you. Something tells me it’ll quickly be filled again.

Peter’s Guide to Dressing for a Date

Ah, Valentine’s Day. I remember our 2nd Grade class getting loads of pink cardboard paper and glitter to create cards for “our valentine,” not knowing what that was. Then I found out. A good way to jump-start anxiety at an early age. Fortunately, I was exempt, because if you’re like me (you know who you are), every day is Valentine’s Day!

But let’s say you want to take your SO on a special date. What do you wear? The answer to that depends on the situation. Dinner and a movie? Opera and cocktails? A walk on a moonlit beach? Decisions, decisions.

The quick answer is: be you, but a bit nicer looking. You could show up in your pajamas, but dressing up demonstrates respect for your date and the occasion, because both are special, right? Right. Unless the date is a pajama party. In which case, wash your pj’s first.

 

VALENTINE’S DAY DATE FOR NEW COUPLES

For new couples, keep it casual. If you’re meeting at a coffee shop, wear a nice pair of jeans or khakis, a button up oxford, and clean sneakers or oxfords. After coffee, why not take a walk at a nearby park? Or better yet, find out what activities she likes – hiking, bicycling, karaoke – and plan around that.

valentine's day outfit menswear

Shawl collar jacket: Eidos | Long-sleeved t-shirt: Orcival

Of course, just because you’re a new couple doesn’t mean you can’t get all fancy. If you’re date’s down for a night on the town, go for it – and dress accordingly. If you start with dinner at a nice restaurant, go for a dark outfit. It’s safe, unfussy, and easy to dress up or down, depending on where you go. A fail-safe option is a navy suit. Pair it with a crisp white button up shirt, or swap the shirt for a thin charcoal or black merino turtleneck. If dark jeans are your thing, reach for black Chelseas or zip boots, a blue oxford button down, and a grey tweed sport coat or field jacket.

Daytime date from Beige Habileur. Everything about this is awesome and chill, but refined.

Shirt: G. Inglese x Beige | Pants: Husbands

 

A SPECIAL VALENTINE’S DAY DATE

Perhaps you’ve been together for a while now, and are looking for something special to do. Show that you were paying attention – you were, weren’t you? – by choosing something she said she liked to do. It could be a picnic, wine tasting, or a leisurely walk to a park, downtown, or movie theater. If you have access to a beach, lake, or river, walk there, and bring a frisbee with you to enjoy the sun – everybody can play frisbee. All you need are a nice pair of jeans, boots, and a nice button-up shirt.

However, when it’s a special occasion that calls for something a bit more formal, consider what she’ll be wearing. Being over- or underdressed can be a bit embarrassing, so set the tone by saying “Let’s dress up,” and be sure to follow by saying what you’re wearing so that she can have something on which to base her decision. On the other hand, she could have that one outfit that she’s been dying to wear, so let her choose and follow suit. What if she says she has nothing to wear? Besides starting an argument (don’t do it), you have two options: go shopping with her (that’ll score you major points) or tell her far enough in advance so she can plan to go shopping with friends. Whatever she chooses, be a gentleman and let her take center stage. You may have the perfect red velvet cocktail jacket, but be careful not to outshine your date; remember that this is her night. Show that she’s important by taking her into consideration. For example, ask her what her favorite outfit of yours is and wear it. Or find out what her favorite color is, or which one she’ll be wearing, and chose a flower or pocket square that complements it.

the armoury menswear outfit date night valentine's day

Shirt: The Armoury | Pocket Square: Drake’s

SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN A DINNER…

Dinner and a show is always a safe bet, but why not try something different? Go to that one restaurant she’s been dying to try, and then follow up with a dancing class. Or you could go to a club that plays her favorite music. Many museums have evening hours, perfect for an after-dinner stroll and providing easy topics for conversation. If black tie is too formal, a nice suit, comfortable shoes, and a listening ear are all you need to enjoy your time together.

Pro tip: if she likes perfumes, start the evening out by going to a department store and trying scents. Let her pick one for herself, ask her to pick one for you, drop your bank card, and the rest of the evening is set. You’re welcome.

Evening date - houndstooth flannel suit and rollneck

Evening date – houndstooth flannel suit and rollneck.

 

 

Grey flannel suit: Eidos
Navy turtleneck sweater: Stephen Schneider

 


Any date, no matter the day, is an opportunity to show your partner that you care about your relationship. Let your dress reflect that by notching it up a bit. These are occasions to engage in relaxed conversation, have fun, and cement your relationship. The special dates are your chances to create long-lasting memories. Don’t let your dirty sneakers ruin it.

Why Black Tie Matters

“What are you wearing tonight?” My wife and I have this conversation, more or less, every year, about this time. She calls out to me from her closet. We’re off to see The Nutcracker, which starts in less than two hours.
“Black tie.” 
Again?
There’s more than a slight tone of incredulity, but then, I can’t blame her. The egalitarian tuxedo (or dinner suit) has remained, in principle, unchanged for over a century, and although every sort of fashion has been tried on the red carpet, most likely it appeared ridiculous.  Classic black tie, however, looks good on everyone, not because it defies the folly and fickleness of fashion, but rather transcends it.  Which is fortunate, I think as I reach for the hanger, as it makes getting dressed for black tie events easy.

White tie may be the reigning champ of event dress, and when done correctly it is indeed a sight to behold, but I’m glad black tie casualized things somewhat.  The jacket shed its tails, and the wing collar on the shirt softened into the turndown collar, except on single breasted dinner jackets with peaked lapels, where wing collars are still OK. 
Vests became an option alongside cummerbunds, or both embellishments can be ditched altogether, if your waist is covered by a double breasted jacket, as mine is. It’s a bit more sporty since single breasted one-button jackets increase the elegance of an outfit, but both should have peaked lapels; notch lapels make an outfit look like a regular old suit, and what’s special about that? Peaked lapels, or swankier yet, a shawl lapel, with silk satin or grosgrain facing is appropriate for your black tie event. My outfit for the evening has the latter, which I prefer; the sheen from grosgrain is more subtle and has a bit of texture. 
Trousers, of course, match the facing down the outside of the leg, making the top and bottom a complete outfit.
As I take out a pleated white shirt with covered placket, I wonder if I should get another shirt in piqué and some nice onyx studs.  I prefer the sleek appearance of a “fly front” placket, and owning studs is just another thing to lose.  Still, it adds a small bit of decoration suitable for special outings, and some might argue that it’s historically proper.  Maybe I’ll start shopping for them.
I’ve always felt self-conscious about pumps.  Having large bows on my feet not only seems a touch precious, but slip-ons seem casual to me. Fortunately, a pair of well-shined calfskin wholecuts are just fine. Perhaps later my wallet might surrender to the luster of patent leather oxfords. I like how they echo the gleam of silk from the jacket, down the trousers, and continue unto one’s feet – which are covered in fine black hosiery, of course.
The beauty of black tie is simplicity.  Everything except the cotton shirt and optional silk or linen handkerchief is black.  Equally acceptable is midnight blue, which caught on fervently in the 30’s, fell out of style, and presently is returning with a vengeance (although too blue is too blue, GQ).  
Limiting your options is incredibly liberating and makes dressing for formal engagements a breeze – I’m fully dressed in ten minutes, and there’s not many other outfits that flatter the physique as well.  The only way you’ll look like a penguin is if you’re The Penguin.
“You’re done already?” 
Congratulations, you won the race.  Now help your partner get ready, or you’ll miss the curtain rising and you’ll both lose.



PETER’S SHOPPING LIST FOR BLACK TIE 2017

Still have questions? Ask the Styleforum community! Join the conversation on The State of Black Tie thread, and post your black tie outfit on the What Are You Wearing Today thread.

Buying Jeans for a Tailored Wardrobe

The ‘blazer and jeans’ look is as common today as it ever has been, championed by retailers and social media accounts of all sorts. Most commonly, you’ll see narrow black blazers paired with narrow black denim or torn jeans, or you’ll find true dad-wear diehards wearing stonewashed Levi’s with too-big sport coats. On the other side of the spectrum are Styleforum’s SW&D posters, who have long been sharing less rigid and rule-bound takes on the same combination.

However, if you fall more on the Classic Menswear side of things, don’t lose heart. There is certainly – perhaps more so now than ever – a segment of the denim market in which you can find some very versatile jeans for a tailored wardrobe. If that sounds like you, here are several considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re shopping for denim, along with some tips from Styleforum members to send you on your way.


1. What to Consider

Remember that Jeans are Jeans

First and foremost: jeans are not trousers. The key to wearing them with tailored clothing is understanding that they don’t need to be forced into a role as stand-ins for trousers, but that they offer new and different styling possibilities for your wardrobe. If you think that jeans are too casual to be worn with tailored clothing, then you’ll likely be happier if you stick with trousers than you would be trying to force denim into your wardrobe.

Consider the cut

Before you consider the hem width or color of your jeans, make sure that you’re keeping an eye on the rise. Are you planning to tuck in your shirt? If so, you’ll want to stay away from low-rise jeans, which will result in untucked shirts and unsightly bulges at the crotch and belt line. If your tastes tend toward the classic, you’ll probably want to look for a ‘medium rise,’ as most men’s jeans won’t be marked as a ‘high rise’ (if you’re looking for explicitly high-rise denim, your best bet is to search Western and Cowboy supply stores for brands such as Lee and Wrangler). This has the added benefit of making your jeans resemble trousers more closely in silhouette, which means that if you’re sticking with your classic clothing, it will be easier to work denim into your wardrobe.

Determining hem width

Do you plan to wear your jeans with espadrilles and camp collar shirts? With loafers and a polo? With chunky, English footwear and a sport coat? This will help you do decide on the inseam length and hem width that you prefer. I suggest not going wider than 8-8.5″, as denim has its own characteristics and quickly starts to look sloppy when overly wide.

For example, you’re looking for a pair of jeans to wear in the summertime, consider a cream fabric hemmed to no break, as these will pair well with loafers. If you plan to wear them with chukkas in the fall and winter seasons, a longer inseam and some tasteful stacking will look nice.

Similarly, too-narrow jeans may look at home in a streetwear context, but be out of place in a more traditional getup.

Fabric

Texture is as important in denim as it is when choosing trousers. Wearing thin, uninteresting denim that doesn’t stand out won’t necessarily elevate your look – however, pronounced slubbiness or neppiness may not be what you want either. The latter fabrics can be difficult to dissociate from their rugged, workcloth origins, and don’t necessarily pair well with tailored clothing, while the former can read as bland and unconsidered.

There’s no specific ‘best’ denim for wearing with tailored clothing, but I prefer to err on the side of textured. This limits the chances that you’ll look like a boring office drone.

What about the color?

My personal opinion is that very dark jeans look silly with sport coats and a tucked-in shirt, as they go too far in aping the look of trousers and instead ignore the characteristics of denim. Jeans are not a formal garment, even in this informal world, and that’s not changed by pairing them with more formal clothing. A highly-textured denim can alleviate this effect somewhat.

Obviously, you may choose to go the raw route, and wear your jeans until they’re distressed to your tastes. Otherwise I’d suggest looking for a light to medium-dark blue, depending on the look you’re after. Faded indigo is a lovely color, and works very nicely with tailored jackets in a way that navy trousers can’t.

There are also more and more makers offering tasteful washes, should you prefer your jeans pre-washed.

To cuff or not to cuff

There’s no right answer here. Generally, I recommend avoiding thick, heavy cuffs – a single cuff or micro-cuff can look nice, but this depends greatly on the width of the hem and the shoe you’re wearing. Here are some examples that I think look good, followed by others that I think miss the mark. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.

A note on alterations

Don’t be afraid to hem or taper your jeans, the way you would alter any other garment. They’re still an off-the-rack garment, so the chances that anything you find will fit you or your tastes perfectly are as slim as they are in any other case. For example, Levi’s had so many customers request that the legs of their 501 jeans be tapered that they introduced a new fit, the 501 CT. Keep that in mind if you’re looking through thrift stores for the perfect, already-broken-in wash.

However, don’t get too precious – remember, jeans aren’t trousers, and part of what makes denim pleasant is its innately unkempt, casual feel.


2. Brands to try

The following are brands that offer denim in cuts amenable to tailoring or to a more classic wardrobe. Keep in mind that there are many, many others – a cruise through most of the Italian RTW brands on Yoox will net endless results. Levi’s offers numerous budget options, and would be my choice if you’re looking to keep costs down, but if you have the cash to spare there are far nicer options available.

Levi’s

Japan Blue Jeans

Orslow

Kapital

The Armoury


3. Member Tips

Lots of people have already figured out what works for them. Like other members, I happen to think that dark denim worn with a dark, office-ready blazer is a strange look. Here are some selected tips and impressions. For more, check out the Sport Coats and Jeans thread. I’d also direct you to our contributor Mitch, who nails the blazer-and-jeans look.

“I think the best way is to just throw it on and think no more of it. A very casual jacket helps of course.”

– E.F.V.

“I don’t do the denim+SC look often – I generally prefer chinos – but I do think it can work. When I’ve done it in the past I’ve usually reached for gray tweed, brown flannel, tan linen, things like that (depending on the weather). I’ve never tried the navy on navy, I just haven’t felt good about it whenever I looked in the mirror.”

– Brillopad

“It helps to have awesome hair. Or some interesting detail so it doesn’t feel like ‘I just got home from the office but only had time to change half of my outfit before going out to dinner.'”

– ChetB

“I’ve debated this with folks here before, but I think for all but the tallest of dudes, jackets worn with odd pants generally and jeans particularly should be shorter than a standard suit jacket. If this isn’t done, the jacket makes the look top-heavy and dumpy. One inch minimum, probably no more than two.”

– Sugarbutch

The Best Ties For Summer

Even though most of us dread the unbearable humidity and heat that comes with summer, we still need to dress professionally. While we can likely endure wearing year-round or three-season suiting in air conditioned offices, the clothes that tend to bring us the most joy in summer – as in winter – are those made from fabrics specific to the season. Our garments for summer can be as particular, as interesting and as beautiful as those for winter, in that they have different characteristics in make, color, weave, and the like. However, in order to complete the outfit, you still need the right accessories; only then will you ensure that the ensemble is complete.

Fabrics for summer ties are similar to those for our garments. While there are ties that can work all year long, or for most seasons – grenadine, silk rep, printed silk all come to mind – you might want to add a little seasonal variation by adding an interesting element into an outfit. Just as is the case with an odd sport coat, crunchy or slubby textures, open weaves, or unstructured designs all help make a tie more summer-friendly. Playing with color, as you would with said odd jacket, also helps a tie to be more appropriate for warm weather – pastels or subdued neutrals work well for summer. Personally, I enjoy a six or seven-fold tie for less structure, especially when paired with a more open weave, such as grenadine in a light but muted blue or green. It gives it a sort of nonchalant look that works for most occasions, excepting the most formal or serious business meetings.

Shantung, or tussah silk, offers a slubby texture that helps bring an informal element to the tie. This is a wild silk that is obtained from silkworms that feed on leaves in an uncontrolled environment; because there is less control over the process, the silk worm hatches to break the filament length, creating shorter and more coarse fibers, which provides a more ‘matte’ look.

Ties made of linen or linen blends have the benefit of inherent slubbiness, but they wrinkle easily. They do retain that crisp nature that all linens share, which allows these fabrics to drape well especially when lined. Just keep in mind that they work best for less formal outfits, and work especially well when paired with linen or cotton suits.

Cotton and cotton-blend ties are similar to linen, serving as a more relaxed option. They tend to wrinkle – like linen – but do not have that crisp characteristic; this means that they exhibit less of an elegant drape. I recommend cotton ties for the most relaxed environments, and they would be at home more with an odd jacket or a cotton suit.

Here is a list of some examples for summer appropriate ties that we think are worth considering, and a few tips on how to pair them.


This tan shantung silk tie from Calabrese 1924 via No Man Walks Alone provides a classic stripe, but the subdued, neutral tan and the slubby fabric help to make it more of a summer affair. This self-tipped tie provides a structured neckpiece that could work in most occasions.


liverano summer tie

This Liverano&Liverano seven-fold silk tie is the epitome of a tie for the more conservative striped style. The colors scream Ivy League (if you ignore that the direction of the stripes are European instead of American), and it begs to be worn under the staple hopsack blazer in everyone’s closet. The orange almost evokes that quintessential go-to-hell attitude that you might not dare pull off with colored trousers.


drake's tie linen summer

This tie from Drakes features tussah silk in a natural color. Paired with an odd linen sport coat, the tie would wear well, seeing as it has hand rolled blades and less structure than a normal tie.


seersucker tie vanda fine clothing summer

How many times in your life have you seen a seersucker tie? This gorgeous muted green tie from Vanda Fine Clothing is extremely neutral, and would pair lovingly under blue, tan and brown jackets. The handrolled edges and light lining complete the nonchalant air.


vanda oatmeal tie summer

This tie made by hand from Vanda Fine Clothing out of Solbiati linen is a great warm weather accessory. The texture and wrinkles with the classic Glenplaid pattern and subdued neutral colors makes this an exceptional tie under a wool-fresco or linen jacket.

Bespoke Trousers at Tailor’s Keep

It all started a little over a year ago: my first pair of bespoke trousers.
Most people think of suits, or at least a jacket, when it comes to bespoke clothing. Trousers are just there, like the fries that accompany your Niman Ranch burger at Causwell’s. Good, but nothing you’d order on their own. 
Such thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth. Granted, the jacket is probably the first thing noticed, but if the accompanying trousers are garbage, the whole outfit suffers. You’ve seen it before: hem too long or too short, gaping pockets at the hips, slim legs that grab the calves, excess folds at the crotch, a droopy seat. We’ve all experienced it, but are not necessarily condemned to it. 
This is where bespoke trousers come in. The thing is, to nail the fit, multiple fittings are required until everything is just right. Either you spend a week or two near a tailoring house, use a traveling tailor who comes twice a year, or – if you’re fortunate – use a local guy.  I’ve had the opportunity to have fantastic trousers made for me in Sicily, but I’m not always there. Ideally you’d have a local tailor who can make a proper pair, but finding one can be next to impossible. However, if you’re in San Francisco, you do have a local option I wholeheartedly recommend: Tailors’ Keep. 
Located across the street from the world-famous Transamerica Pyramid, on the border of North Beach and the Financial District, Ryan Devens, the co-founder of Tailors’ Keep, runs the show.  Inside is an uncluttered haven of gentlemanly items: a distressed leather couch, paintings from local artists, various libations, and many books of fabrics.  Won’t you won’t see are the workers – they are in a separate shop upstairs.  “It’s great to have the shop onsite,” Ryan says.  “It’s a magical escape, a hidden gem, with music always playing, smiles always on faces, and hands always moving.  There we can make bespoke clothing, or fix up ready-to-wear and vintage pieces.  There is always a special project at some stage in its process – recutting a pair of old trousers for a new and updated fit, or building a new pair of pants from scratch.”
I wish I could say Tailors’ Keep has a house style, but they don’t. This is not to say they aren’t capable; on the contrary, Ryan appreciates all styles, and when I told him I wanted a classic, flat front, slightly slim trouser with a higher rise, he simply nodded, “Yes, we can absolutely do that.”  A few months and fittings later, and the trousers were finished:  14oz Fox Bros oatmeal flannel from No Man Walks Alone, cut into a classically slim pair of trousers, with off-seam hand-tacked besom pockets, button cuffs, and a perfect fit.
The last particular is a particular that cannot be overemphasized.  Sure, you can have a pair of trousers fatto a mano from a tailor whose family has been doing it for generations, complete with hand stitched and attached curtain waistband, pick stitching down the legs, and extended waist tab, but all that means nothing if they don’t fit.  
 Ryan’ crew can do all the hand stitched details you want, but will make sure the trousers fit.  “Fit is everything, we pride ourselves on that,” he says.  “I’d rather lose money than have an unhappy customer who isn’t satisfied what what we give them.”  Such stock in one’s reputation is a rare commodity these days, but Ryan has always carried through on his word.  My first pair took no less than four fittings to get the back and front rise just right.  For me, this meant having an unbroken line from my seat all the way down to my shoe heel.  This is easy with looser fitting trousers, but if you want a slimmer fit, it’s near impossible – the back of the trousers will invariably grab your calves or bunch underneath your seat.   This is no easy task, as Ryan explains: 
“The process of making a pattern normally starts with seeing the client in a pair of trousers that he/she already owns and is decently happy with.  In some cases, I’ll take those trousers and make a few adjustments first, then have a second fitting with that specific pant and assess if that pattern is sufficient for starting a bespoke pattern or not.  The most significant measurement to a proper fitting trouser is indeed the rise – but also the relationship between the front and back rise.  These measurements are based on posture, preference, and the specific style in which the garment is being made – low-rise, mid-rise, high-rise, etcetera.  
 
“For example, if someone has a hips-forward posture, a different measurement will be applied for the front/back rise balance as opposed to someone who may have a high seat or hips-back posture.  This is necessary in order to alleviate the dreaded pocket-pulling effect, which is quite often seen on MTM pants too.  One rise for one client may not fit another client who is the exact same height and weight.  Being able to see these proportions and body-type relationships can greatly assist in creating a very accurate “first pass” on a bespoke pant.  
 
“Since our master tailor/cutter is in-house, I can focus on strictly fitting, consultation, and the measurement process, while he focuses on pattern-making.  I ideally would create a shell trouser that has no pocketing or working fly so that any front/back rise and hip adjustments can be made easily without too much re-work.   This is essential in preventing extensive rework and repatterining, especially in a majority-handsewn piece where time actually does equal money to the tailors involved.”
Such a process can take time, but as anyone who has had bespoke trousers will tell you, it is well worth the wait.  After Ryan and his crew dialed in the fit, I’ve had three subsequent trousers made straight to finish according to my specs.  If something’s not quite right, I don’t have to wait until the next time the tailor comes to town; Ryan pins the adjustments needed, and the final result is ready in a few weeks. Personally, I haven’t experienced anything but a remarkable end product.  If you want to have pants that sit well, lay flat, and hang straight, consider going bespoke.  You’ll be happy you did.

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How and When to Wear a Boutonniere

Warmer months mean more time spent outside, where you can soak in the sun’s warm rays and take in the intoxicating perfume of spring’s flowers in full bloom.  While doing so, you may even be tempted to pluck one and place it in your jacket’s lapel, because why not?  Flowers are, after all, one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations and have been used since ancient times to celebrate everything from birth to one’s memory.

“Why” is not the subject of this article – “how” is, because the simplicity of wearing a flower in one’s lapel, a boutonniere, has been morphed into all-too-often complicated mess, with results both unpolished and overly precious.  In short, the process can be put into five words: put it in your buttonhole.  And then: put it through the loop.  Okay, so that’s ten.

There are more than a few things about menswear that may never get used but do serve a purpose, however remote.  One of those things is the boutonnière loop.  Found on some bespoke and higher-end suit jackets and sport coats, this little loop is just underneath the buttonhole on the underside of the lapel.  Here are a few examples:
Truth be told, the boutonniere never was a staple even in menswear’s heyday.  Hats and handkerchiefs were worn on the daily, but boutonnieres were saved primarily for special occasions.  Nowadays they are even more rare, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear one.
Some may be inclined to pop a flower in his lapel whenever it suits their fancy.  After all, they muse, isn’t every day special?  Pollyannas and dandies may do as they wish; I won’t cast a pall over their rainbows and unicorns.  Special occasions, though, do exist, and are a perfect time to dress up your lapel. 

Weddings – Most men know that boutonnieres are for the groom and his entourage, but two things should be mentioned.  One, they are usually much too large, bordering on a bouquet, when single simple flower will do.  Two, they are not the only ones who can wear a boutonniere; the invited may wear one as well.  Pair it with a navy or grey suit, white shirt, appropriate wedding tie, black shoes and belt, and there’s your no-brainer outfit for the wedding season.  Deep in Esquire’s archives, this spread from 1948 lists appropriate wedding attire for both participants and guests.  Since not much has changed, use it as a starting point.
Here are two examples of men who wear a boutonniere correctly:
And here are examples to avoid:
Note that if you are attending a wedding as part of the groom’s entourage, you should graciously accept both the honor and whatever boutonniere you are given, even if it is not to your taste. 
Special religious/state ceremonies – if you are participating in or invited to one, a boutonniere may be an acceptable accessory.  For example, cloth poppies are often worn on Remembrance Day.  Just be sure to remember that certain colors may or may not be appropriate, depending on the affair .  Do your due diligence and research to choose one that doesn’t offend or attract attention away from the solemnity of the event.
Festive celebrations – a bit more leeway is allowed here, since the main point during such soirees is to have fun.  There are many opportunities throughout the year where flowers fit in fine, so look for them.  The Kentucky Derby immediately springs to mind, as the most exciting two minutes in sports is well-known for its blanket of roses given to the winner.  Not just observed in Louisville, Kentucky, pop-up celebrations are observed everywhere, thanks to televised satellite locations.  Just a few short years after the first Derby in Kentucky, Britain had one, and since then Derby Day has seen even the Queen participate with flowers in her hat.  Boutonnieres in this environment would blend in quite nicely and add to the spirit of the event.
Wearing a boutonniere is easy: grab a carnation or small rose, clip the stem a couple of inches, and slip it through your jacket’s lapel and loop.  Don’t have a loop?  Look online for video tutorials on how to make your own, or ask your tailor if he can (he’s probably better).  Some opt for a fake flower, but unless you wear the same flower multiple times during the year, you’re better off with what nature provided.  If you can spring to go to a social event, a real flower won’t break the bank.  Try this: next time you go out to a nice dinner with your partner, wear a boutonniere along with your suit and tie.  If he or she asks why, just say it’s a special occasion and smile.
 
Finally, take moment to watch, in real time, how simple it is to add a bit of floral inspiration to your outfit:
You’re welcome.

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The 4 Best Ways to Wear a Pocket Square

Almost six months ago, I wrote How to Choose a Pocket Square, showcasing some of Styleforum’s member’s pochettes and how they used them to accessorize various coat and tie combinations.  Still, much like a child eagerly pores over paint brushes when first handed one, many have little to no clue what to do with them, and so impulsively stuff a blob of fabric into their pocket without regard to proper technique.  Granted, it’s not rocket science, but like all other components of classic men’s clothing, a bit of know-how can make a big difference. 
First, should you wear a pocket square?  Forum member Will, creator and writer of A Suitable Wardrobe, recommends a square for all empty breast pockets.  While that may have been appropriate when coats were worn with only trousers, nowadays sport coats can be seen with jeans and even sneakers.  Should you wear a pocket square in this instance?  Since a pocket square dresses up an outfit, whether or not you choose one depends on the look you’re going for.  Are you sporting sneakers and beat-up jeans with that sport coat?  Then skip the square; it’ll look out of place with the casual kicks, like a top hat with pajamas.  A pocket square in a sport coat with raw denim and loafers or wingtips, however, give off a similar dressier vibe.
How should you wear your square?  As with neckties, simpler is better.  Countless YouTube videos demonstrate a dozen ways to fold and place pocket squares in increasingly-complex methods, most of which are fastidiously abominable.  The following are not only the best ways to wear a pocket square, they are the only ways you need to know.
The Square Fold (AKA the TV Fold, AKA the Presidential Fold)
The most basic fold, often seen in Styleforum’s “Conservative Business Dress” thread.  Anesthetized and inoffensive, this option may be perfect for the rest of your outfit if you are going to a formal event or if you work in a conservative office (think grey worsted suits with black captoes).  However, many people make the mistake of folding the square so that none of the seams show, and are instead left with a perfect, paper crease-like fold at the top of their pocket.
This is a proper way to do it: place the square in your pocket so that the edges of the square are facing the shoulder and arm.  This gives a touch of visual interest to an otherwise, well, boring square.  Try angling the outside corner up and out toward your deltoid.  This way the diagonal lines of the square’s edges echo the same contours of the V of your suit and lapels.  For extra credit, space the edges apart haphazardly as you fold to create a more organic square-ish fold.  This type of fold works well with small repeating patterns, and of course, plain white linen or cotton.
The Three Point Fold
Variations of this one exist (Two and Four Points), but even numbers seem to make an already artificially manipulated piece of frivolous cloth overly contrived.  To do it, simply fold the square in half on the diagonal, bring the left corner up over the top so it falls on the right, and then the right corner behind so it falls on the left.  A less studied look than the Square Fold, and works with all squares.
The Puff
The puff is basically a half circle, accomplished in several ways.  The easiest way is by simply shoving the points down in your pocket, leaving a puff at the top.  This can sometimes look a little shapeless, so another way is by pinching the middle of the square, twisting it, and folding it.  This creates soft pleats that give the square an interesting dimensionality.  Another way similar to the last is after pinching the square, bringing it through an O of your thumb and forefinger, and then folding it in half so that the points are either behind or on the outside edge of the puff.  Best for abstracts, paisleys, and large prints.
The Whatever
Another option is to do combinations of the three above. I find myself doing the Three Point and Puff Fold regularly. I also like how Will at A Suitable Wardrobe puts it: shove it in, direct points toward your left, and forget about it.  This is basically what is demonstrated by TTO here:
Pocket squares, like most articles of menswear, follow simple rules of aesthetics and harmony.  You may not always need one, but when you do, practicing these tried-and-true methods can make your pocket square an elegant accompaniment to your ensemble. Finally, for your edification and viewing enjoyment, I’ve put together a video, which you can watch below: