Author Archives: Tom James

5 ways to use COLOR to put a Spring in your Step

Orange shirtWhen not watching the games of March Madness,  I was out in the garden a lot on the weekends in March.  Where I live it was time to plant more herbs and to get my vegetable garden going.   Mostly though the mission was to wake up the garden from it’s winter hibernation and to add some fresh color.

I especially like the vibrant pink tones of the fuschias, and geraniums.  The yellow and orange tones provided by the marigolds and ranunculus are already making the back yard a happier place.   The colors of spring and summer have a way of doing that.

Color is a favorite topic for most any publication about design, be it fashion, interior design or creating the best landing page for your website.  A uniquely potent medium, color is full of emotion and energy – a powerful resource for your image and personal style/branding.   The colors that you wear and how they are combined can dramatically impact how you are perceived by others.  Doing it well immediately increases your level of influence.
















No matter the season, there are occasions and venues that require dark, neutral clothing, but lighter shades of blue and gray, as well as earth tones (tan, olive, brown) are the perfect backdrop or frame for the colorful shirts, ties, and pocket squares (and socks)  that the warmer, brighter months invite.  For Spring, think LIGHT and BRIGHT!   Lighter tones inspire comfort and ease – a certain cool, while brighter tones energize and command attention.


orange and blue   multi color

Here are five ways to use color to get some Spring into your appearance:

  1. Depending on where you live and what business you are in, you might work more color into your suits, blazers, jackets, and pants.  Why not consider a blazer that is bluer than navy or a light weight jacket in a favorite color made from linen or cotton, or tropical weight wool?
  2. Depending on your natural coloring, as well as your profession, lighter clothing may not be your best choice. Introducing stronger, brighter colors with classic charcoals or navies can create a more dramatic, more powerful, and more flattering look. Pump up the volume with bolder colors in your shirt and/or tie, and turn a subdued, staid outfit into a true star of your wardrobe.
  3. Wear shirts with color other than your basic blue.  With light to medium shades of blue or gray clothing, introduce shirts in tones of orange, green, pink and lavender.
  4. Point #2 applies to your casual wardrobe especially!  In that case you have even more latitude with color and pattern.  Have fun!  If not now, then when?
  5. With respect to neck wear and pocket squares, who’s to stop you from throwing caution to the wind?  I still prefer and recommend the more classic patterns, solids included, but as far as color, wear what you like that coordinates with your shirt and jacket.  By all means, go bright and go light.  That being said, a sharp navy tie with a seersucker, summer tan, or light blue suit is elegance personified.


How to give a Graduate a Headstart!

When I graduated from college the sum total of my “professional” wardrobe included two suits – a medium gray herringbone and a dark char-brown (both with a vest), the navy blazer I’d had since high school (Thanks again, Dad and Mom!), one gray slack, three dress shirts, and a handful of ties. The shoes I had aren’t even worth mentioning. All but the blazer had been purchased with money I made working during the summers of my college years. By today’s valuation, I had invested close to a thousand dollars per suit. It was a lot of money at the time, but I thought they were awesome, and I always felt amazing when I put them on.

Q: How did I end up with a brown suit as one of my first two, and didn’t even own a navy suit until years later?
A: I liked it, and nobody suggested that I do any different.

More recently, as a professional clothier, I have had the pleasure of helping several fortunate young men get started with their professional wardrobe. In almost every case the clothing has been a gift from parents, grand parents, a mentor, or everyone’s favorite – the “rich uncle.”  Such a gift is nothing short of a sound investment and a big vote of confidence.  A few key pieces of professional clothing will go a long way to create a great first impression and set a young person on to the path of success.

Chris R. just got a new solid dark gray suit, white shirt, and a great tie as a Christmas gift from is parents. His first chance to wear it will be for no particular reason other than to show off for his older brother. C.P. got his first new suit, a dark blue solid, as a gift from his parents just before his senior year of college in preparation for senior year events and the interviews that will get him the job that will get him off of the family payroll.

navy solid

char herringbone


Either a dark blue/navy or dark gray solid suit is the clear choice to begin building the “dress up” portion of your wardrobe, particularly for those who aspire to work in the fields of finance, law, politics, or sales and marketing. The versatility, universal acceptance, and powerful symbolism of either suit is unrivaled. Either one is your one essential suit.

With respect to style, a classic two-button coat and a flat front pant, with our without cuffs, is the way to go. If you’re having a suit made, you may also want to add a matching vest, though I would advise against adding the vest to the look in most interview situations, lest you come across a bit too charming.

Shirt-Blu/Wht Non-Iron        Blue       Ready-Made Clothing    Shirt-Blu/Wht Check           Blue       Ready-Made Clothing

As every main dish needs a side or two to complete the meal, your dark solid suit will need a white shirt for formal and/or conservative occasions and another shirt, maybe a stripe or check of some kind, to mix it up and add flavor.  Be sure to add at least one shirt with French cuffs.  Why? Well, for one, there are just too many fun cufflinks that need to worn.  There is truly something for everyone, including your school if you went to one of more than 100 Division I schools now represented in our NCAA collection.

Your look will be complete with a pair of black dress shoes and coordinating belt of the same color, dark socks that are essentially the same color as your pants, and a selection of ties and pocket squares.

Michael K. just got two outfits from his grandfather for his college graduation.   A dark gray solid suit is the foundation piece, complemented by a blue windowpane sport jacket and navy solid pant to provide a more casual alternative.  Both look great with a light blue solid shirt and sophisticated neat pattern tie.  He also got a green check shirt and coordinating tie that he really likes with the gray suit.  The gray pant from the suit can also be worn with the sport jacket, so there is a lot of natural versatility in everything he picked out.


Clothes for Golf that “have your back!”

“If you’re going to dress like that, you’ve got to have the game to back it up!” You may have heard that said to someone playing golf who was dressed like a pro but whose game didn’t necessarily measure up. I especially remember hearing that when Payne Stewart was on the scene, wearing his custom knickers and classic flat cap. While flamboyant for the time, his appearance hearkened back to a time when a similar style of dress was customary. A two-time winner of the U.S. Open (’91 and ’99), he certainly had the game to back it up.

  • Payne Stewart

    Getty Image

  • golfer
  • Charles Blair MacDonald

    Charles Blair MacDonald

  • Ben Hogan

    Ben Hogan

When you dress for golf (or any other pursuit, for that matter) in ways that stand out, that diverge from what is customary, you will draw attention to your appearance. That may be your desired effect. If the look is appropriate for what you are doing, and fits with your personality and the way you carry yourself (perhaps the way you swing a golf club), then it will enhance your confidence and stature. If not, then you will run the risk of looking foolish or like you’re trying too hard.

While there are about 16,000 golf courses in the U.S.A., and roughly 75% of those allow for public access, many courses and clubs retain a country club element, including a definite dress code. The primary requirements are a shirt with a collar, no denim, and proper shoes with soft spikes or other modern equivalents. A very few private clubs still don’t allow men to wear shorts, and still more have some restrictions on the kind of shorts that they will allow. Weather permitting; the overwhelmingly popular choice for the recreational golfer is to wear shorts.

Tiger Hogan

Tiger Woods

When Tiger Woods entered the public consciousness in the 1990’s, like everyone else, he was wearing over-sized shirts (mostly from very plush cotton fabrics) and pleated pants – clothing that is nearly the antitheses of what most of us are wearing today. Just because the shirts of that time were “roomy” didn’t mean that they provided optimal performance (though Tiger did win the Master’s in record fashion while wearing that clothing.) To allow for more freedom of movement, Tiger developed a method of raising up and tucking the armholes on those over-sized shirts. Before long, several other golfers were doing the same thing. Well, hardly anyone is wearing over-sized clothing anymore, whether for golf or business, so that tuck trick is no longer necessary. Everything is trimmer and closer fitting. And because of numerous technological advances in fabrics, especially for athletic pursuits, the trimmer fitting clothing is actually more comfortable, looks better, and is enabling better performance.

  • sweater
  • polo

Advanced knitting techniques that create multi-directional stretch, and finishing techniques that include anti-microbial technology and UV protection, are allowing designers to create clothes for golf that wicks and manages moisture, is easy to care for, protects from harmful UV rays and keeps you smelling as fresh as just cut green grass (at least I like that smell), and enables an increase and ease of movement. I know. All that from a shirt and pair of shorts? It’s for real, trust me!

All of those features add up to clothing that really fits and looks great, providing amazing comfort, muscles that don’t tire as easily – especially your back, and overall better performance. Among the best of the modern tech apparel, brands such as F&G Tech from Fairway & Greene are making great looking clothing that will keep you cool, dry, and comfortable. In their own words, “At Fairway & Greene, traditional colors in haberdashery patterns are cut to fit the modern gentleman. When wearing Fairway & Greene you belong on any first tee in the world.” F&G Tech definitely has your back.

Give me a Break! Finding the Best Pant Break to Fit Your Style.

A guide to help with deciding how much your pant bottoms should “break” over your shoes.

As it turns out, much has been written in the blogosphere about the pant break options, and with general accord. The basic options for the proper length of one’s trousers are as follows:

  • No break
  • Slight or medium break
  • Full break




In most cases, a slight break is the preferred option. It’s balanced, right down the middle, and never wrong. A medium break is achieved when the bottom of the pant is about ½” to ¾” above where the heel meets the leather (Heel height can vary a little with men’s shoes.) The front of the pant should have one fold or “break.”


A full break is when the pant bottom falls at or somewhere below the top of the heel (but definitely off the ground.) In this case the front of the pant will show at least two, possibly three folds or “breaks.” As is the case with both pants in the photo above, it is difficult to pull off this length and have it not look sloppy, like you’re standing in a puddle. The full break only works with a pant that is cut full, with plenty of drape at the knee and bottom. In that case the extra fabric has more room to flow out over the shoe. If your legs are on the longer side, this may be a style to consider. If you prefer wearing suit and sport coats that “drape,” then wearing pants that also drape will achieve a balance pleasing to the eye. Drapes are expected to nearly reach the floor. If your shoe size happens to be larger than average, then all-the-better. The last thing you want is for your shoe to disappear under your pant bottom. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand million times, it’s all about proportion when it comes to these things.

The concerns associated with the no break option are essentially the opposite of those with the full break. On the extreme you run the risk of inviting the proverbial “are you expecting a flood?” comments. The shorter length of a “no break” pant works best when the pant fits on the trim side. In this case, fashion is on your side right now. Pants that are cut full and with no break run the risk of looking “cut off.” If you have changed from wearing pleated pants to flat front pants in the past few years, but you haven’t adjusted the length of your pants, they may need to come up a half inch or so to be rebalanced. The size of your feet and shoes is another part of the overall geometry to consider. Does your shoe size rival that of an NBA forward? Then trim fitting, no break pants aren’t really for you, unless you are intent on making a fashion statement.

To summarize, what most influences whether your pants length will look balanced and appealing is the relationship between the pant length to the width of your pant and the size of your shoes. For my money, the sweet spot is ½” above where the heel meets the leather. From that point, up or down ½” is what I like to call the “range of acceptability.”

As for me, give me a break already, but just a slight one please!