Category Archives: 12Essentials

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.

Are Socks the new Ties?

The Well-Stocked Sock Drawer


Who knew that socks are important enough to write about twice in the same week? While not your most significant sartorial concern, socks are getting a lot of attention right now.

Many men, every year or two, simply replace all of their socks in one fell swoop. Out with the old and in with the new. They also tend to keep the selection very simple: a dozen or two, over-the-calf, wool blend, all the same color – usually black. Super easy. A “no brainer!” No worries about having to match one sock to another. They all match! That approach is overly pragmatic and rather dull for my taste, but I get it.

On the other end of the spectrum, more than a few modern men are collecting an array of socks that rival some of the world’s great neckwear collections, with a wide variety of color and pattern. I’m not saying that socks are the new tie, because the wearing of ties is once again on the rise. However, expressive socks reflect the strengthening trend of men adding more color to their personal style. This fits nicely with shoes that are more colorful: from the upper to the soles, insoles, and laces. More on that in another post coming soon.

My socks are organized by color for those that are solid or have very subtle patterns. I also organize them by length because I prefer to wear the longer, over-the-calf (OTC) socks when the weather is cool and the shorter, mid-calf socks on warmer days. That isn’t necessarily textbook advice, but my personal preference. The more colorful and patterned socks I keep separate. Most of them are mid-calf, but are of a quality that they stay up during the day really well. At the rate I’m going it won’t be long before that part of the collection will need its own drawer.

Q. Other than the length of socks, the most common question I get is what fabric is best? Wool? Cashmere? Cotton? Some kind of blend?
A. The answer to that is a little trickier because fabrics keep changing through continual innovation and improvements. For one, a lot of wool knits, socks included are not nearly as “itchy” as they used to be. In general, wool is considered to be more durable and able to keep its shape better than cotton. Wool certainly can absorb more moisture throughout the day without feeling damp.
One of my mid-southern partners wears 100 % cotton OTC in the summer, but switches to wool in the colder months. Fine quality cotton takes to color better than wool, so most of the more colorful socks that are growing in popularity are made of cotton. A blend of around 80% natural fiber, 20% synthetic is about right, with the exception of the very finest socks, which are mostly made from 100% natural fibers.



Q. How do I decide what color to wear?
A. With a suit, the most conservative option is to match the leg of the trouser, or the color of the shoe, whichever is least conspicuous. For a more fashionable statement, harmonize (but don’t match) with your tie or a color in the pattern of your shirt. Just remember, it’s hard to take your major presentation seriously with “silly” socks. Give similar consideration to your more colorful socks as you would when choosing a tie, don’t let the colors don’t clash with the rest of your outfit. For dressy evening events, black shoes and dark socks only, please! For daytime wear, or casual social settings, knock yourself out, just stay harmonious with your color schemes. For black tie occasions, the proper choice is black solid, or subtly patterned. The fabric? Silk or silk blend. OTC is a must.

Q. So, how many pair of socks does the well-dressed man need in his sock drawer(s)?
A. Well look, no one wants to have to worry every Sunday evening whether or not you have clean socks to wear the next week, so for the most practical of reasons, two weeks worth would be a bare minimum. As a basis to work from, here’s what I would suggest for….

  Solids and Simple Patterns
Wool or Cotton
Mid-Calf Cotton
Black 4 2
Navy 4 4
Dark Gray 4 4
Medium Gray 2 4
Brown 2 2
Olive 2 2
Tan 2 2
  Socks with more Color and/or Pattern
No particular rhyme or reason to this part of it. Add a few Stripes, Dots, Geometrics, Argyles, whatever you like.

So, that comes to around four or five dozen pair of socks. Of course, you may want to adjust the color mix based on what color pants/suits you wear most often. With that kind of inventory you are always prepared and only have to update a few each year to keep it fresh.

Note: Personally, I replace my basic socks as necessary. You know when you put them on. Can you see part of your bare heel through that fabric? Are they getting a little “crusty?” Time to toss those bad boys.

Put your Best Feet Forward

Wear Great Socks

When suggesting that you put your best feet forward, I don’t mean to say your actual, bare feet, but your properly covered feet. I know that there has been a trend of late for going sockless, even with shoes and clothing that previously would have always demanded socks. I’m actually wearing shoes without socks as I write this. But there are distinct instances when that is appropriate (like when wearing boat/deck shoes with pinwale cords and a cashmere crew, hanging around the house on a Saturday morning, writing a blog post.) On the flip side, I also recommend against socks when wearing summer loafers, sandals, etc. That would be like wearing a belt and braces (suspenders) at the same time. You just don’t do that if you want to maintain even a shred of cool and sophistication.

For most of us, most of the time, socks with shoes is the order of the day. So, if you are going to be wearing socks most of the time, may I suggest that you give that part of your attire an extra minute of your time!

As you know if you’ve read this blog before, I like to find stylish ways to break or at least bend the rules of style, but one must first know the rule before trying to bend the rule. The rule for socks is: The color of your socks should match or be darker than the color of your pants. Navy pants = navy socks. Brown pants = brown socks. White pants = white socks. Wrong! No socks with white pants, except on the golf course (and perhaps when playing competitive croquet?) where the physical movement requires socks for comfort and safety.

A secondary rule: the more dressed up you are, the more likely that you should be wearing OTC (over-the-calf) length socks so as to make sure that your bare leg does not show if you happen to cross your legs. The corollary to that rule: the more casually dressed, the more you can take some liberties with the length, color and pattern of your socks. Which leads me to the most common occurrence of sock rules rule breaking of the modern era: colorful and patterned socks being worn with most anything, even dressy suits. It’s a trend that may not have been started with him but has been taken to a whole new level by no less than a former POTUS.

Robert Graham, a designer brand which is dedicated to helping people live a more colorful life, is now making a line of colorful socks, made from the finest Peruvian cotton. If you’d like to add a little “out with the old and in with the bold” to your look, then these are for you. Or maybe you just want to have more fun?


Above is a picture of some of my favorite colorful socks in action.
Do you have a picture of your favorite, colorful socks in action that you’d like to share?
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Whether or not you choose to embrace the trend for color and pattern, if even just for certain social occasions, it may be time to update what you are covering your feet with each morning. Most men have a sock drawer that looks like a jumbled mess: a mix of old and new, socks missing their mate, all mixed together, from athletic socks to black dress socks. What to do?

1. Go through each pair, making sure that you have a match, there are no holes or obvious signs of wear, they aren’t crusty, and they can still stay up during the day as you wear them. Get rid of everything that doesn’t meet all of the criteria.
2. Organize your socks by color and level of dress. Separate casual and athletic socks from your dress socks. I suggest that you use some sort of dividers or, better yet, specially designed cedar sock boxes.
3. Based on the color of pants that you wear, fill in with colors and patterns to complete a collection that covers your wardrobe from casual to formal.

Now you’re ready. Step out with your best feet forward!

Your Closet deserves the Concierge Treatment

sock-drawerIt happened earlier this year after a fitting on the newest additions to his wardrobe. Mike and I walked into the kitchen after a brief visit to his closet to get my opinion on his shirt collection. His wife, Shelley, who had just arrived home, was there in the kitchen and looked at us if we had been up to no good. “Where have you been?” she asked. “Oh, just back in the closet for a minute,” I said. Knowing that we had to walk through the bedroom to get to the closet, she replied, “Oh no you weren’t. Please say you’re just kidding.” It’s not that she didn’t know we were going to visit the closet that day, but she had intended to be home in time to supervise and guide the tour. Bedrooms and closets are particularly personal places. Well, she didn’t kick me out of the house and we remain friends, but next time I’ll receive full and explicit permission before entering “the closet.”

Because closets are such personal places, they don’t always get the same attention and scrutiny as the more public rooms in a home. Paradoxically, in my experience, and by the testimony of many others, few things more consistently and effectively impact a great start to each day than a well-stocked closet that is organized such that getting dressed is an easy pleasure instead of a frustrating chore.

What better time to make sense out of everything in your closet than at the beginning of a new year. And with our Time-tested Tips on how to do it, this will be one New Year’s resolution that you can check off the list. Ready? Here’s what to do:

  • Examine the fit, condition, and fashion of everything in your wardrobe. Try-on anything that you haven’t worn in the past six months or aren’t completely sure about the fit. Set aside anything that doesn’t work for whatever reason (doesn’t fit, wrong color for you, doesn’t fit with your personal style or lifestyle, etc.) Be particularly ruthless with accessories (ties, belts, etc.)
  • Divide your wardrobe into Four Categories:
    1. Items that you will never wear again.
    2. Clothing that might be worn again if properly altered, repaired or coordinated.
    3. Year-round Basics. Further divide these items as either dress or casual.
    4. Seasonal, special occasion, and collectible or vintage garments.
    5. Get rid of everything in the first category. Donate items that could still be useful to someone else (no obvious signs of wear, no stains, etc.)
    6. Items in the second category should be altered and/or repaired. You should also get some idea of how you will wear each item and what you need to add to your wardrobe to complete those looks. (Your TJ professional can help with all of that.)

Clothing in the third category should be placed up front or wherever most convenient in your closet because this is your go-to clothing. Consider your dressing habits and lifestyle as you organize this portion. (I.e. button-up shirts that you wear with a suit or sport coat should be separate from others that are more casual.)

Seasonal clothing should be divided into Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Keep the current season’s items near the front and properly store the rest. Special occasion clothing (tuxedo, etc.) should be properly cataloged and stored.

Additional Tips for a Functional Closet:

  1. Use identical hangers, all facing the same direction and properly spaced.
  2. Remove dry-cleaning plastic bags. (Use cloth bags that breathe if you need to store something that only gets occassional use.)
  3. Organize clothing (suits, sport coats, and dress slacks) from dark to light: black; navy and other shades of blue; charcoal and other shades of gray; earth tones; all others (orange, red, purple, etc.)
  4. Organize shirts from dark to light; from solid to more boldly patterned.
  5. Knits should all be folded (never on hangers.) Ideally not more than two or three in any one stack, whether they are in drawers or on shelving. An ideal way to store fine knitwear, whether sweaters or socks, are in cedar boxes. Aromatic cedar provides a natural repellent to moths and their larvae, some silverfish, and other pests that might otherwise decide to munch a hole in your favorite sweater or jacket.
  6. Organize shoes from formal to casual; by color, dark to light; and by style, lace-up or slip-on.

I like to store my shoes on stack-able cedar shoe racks, and whenever my feet aren’t in a pair of shoes, a set of unfinished cedar shoes trees are. Aromatic cedar draws out excess moisture and also deodorizes with a forest-fresh scent, providing added protection and longevity.

Now that you have everything in the closet organized to perfection, here is a favorite tip on how to care for that clothing to make sure that it lasts and always looks great: Whenever possible, use a steamer instead of an iron to remove wrinkles. Instead of crushing the fibers into submission with the hot pressure of an iron, steam removes wrinkles by relaxing the fibers. Regular use of a steamer, whether at home or when travelling, can dramatically reduce your dry-cleaning costs and keep your clothing looking great for longer.

During the month of January, your Tom James Clothier is offering a complimentary closet audit and organization. Your clothier will help you through a process similar to the one described above. To make it even easier, he or she will handle any donations, and help with alterations and repairs. Let us be your closet concierge this month, and get ready for your best year yet.

For great closest organization products, check out this month’s 12 Essentials.