Category Archives: Casual Wear

Good Clothes To Wear

Keeping you comfortable and “effortlessly cool” – wherever Life Takes You

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We’ve all been there! You get an invitation to a great event at an epic venue, or you decide on a killer vacation/weekend destination you’d like to visit, and then you think about what you have to wear…or what you should be wearing….and you draw a blank. Oh, you could probably “get by” with something in your closet, but who really wants to do that…to live that way…getting by, making do? Wouldn’t you rather truly enjoy that first cocktail (as opposed to really needing it) when you arrive at your destination rather than just drinking it to distract you from the fact that you don’t quite look the part?


I attended a book signing party a couple of months ago. It was a warm early summer evening, on the patio at a favorite local restaurant bar where trendy people mixed with a broad swath of locals. Having planned ahead for such occasions, I wore my new Agave Jeans, a pink striped shirt from Robert Graham (sleeves rolled up) with some sweet contrasting detail on the cuffs and collar, and a pair of brown calfskin loafers (no socks) with coordinated belt from Cole Haan.

Was I the best dressed guy at the event? Probably, but that’s not really the point. The real goal was to respect the occasion and venue and to be 100% comfortable and confident about myself, just like every other day of my life. I just don’t see any benefit to taking a day off from looking and feeling my best, whether I’m going to work, a backyard barbeque, or a weekend in the mountains or wine country.

Robert Graham and Jake Agave are two brands that have really figured out clothing that will put you in a comfort zone outside of the regular daily deal.

Robert Graham combines luxurious fabrics and details that range from subtle to pleasantly unexpected to create sophisticated, lifestyle clothing, self-described as American eclectic. Who knew that the simple act of putting on the right shirt could provide one with Wisdom, Knowledge, and Truth?

Jake Agave is a modern American brand that you will love to wear. Why am I so sure about that? For one, because that is their fundamental brand promise and, because I know how much I love wearing all of my garment dyed shirts. Like Tom James, Agave manufactures in an ethical way in the USA. From the creators of the brand:

“Agave Style is defined by one’s inner confidence and the ability to enjoy the simple beauty of life. It is both “effortlessly cool” and “elegantly sexy”. The Agave Brand is the definition of what we call ‘West Coast Luxury’.”

You may have heard me say this before (see two paragraphs earlier), but let me say it again, just to make sure that you are feeling me on this one – “You deserve to feel just as good, just as confident, in your clothes in every other life situation as you do in your day-to-day business attire.” And your Tom James Clothier has everything you need to make that happen.

Comfortable and Confident….and “effortlessly cool,”

One dimension, Two dimensions, Three Dimensions…Five?

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You may not exhibit five dimensions, but you certainly aren’t one dimensional either

Physicists talk about there being at least five dimensions. Jim McGuinn, guitarist for the rock band The Byrds, even wrote a song about it called “5D (Fifth Dimension).” In a 1966 interview he stated, “It’s sort of weird but…what I’m talking about is the whole universe, the fifth dimension, which is height, width, depth, time and something else. But there definitely are more dimensions than five.”

Most of us are fairly satisfied to live in a three dimensional world. Movies and television programming in 3D is still a fascination that most of the world has yet to experience. The point is, considering the obvious reality of 3D and at least a theoretical reality of 5D and beyond, none of us would be content to live in a world of 1D. To put it in sartorial terms, there are times when a suit is overdressed and times when jeans and T-shirt are exactly right. And there are times when something in between would be the most appropriate. Even the one among us who seems lacking in personality is a complex creature with multiple dimensions and in need of a wardrobe that can support each one of them.

In case you’re thinking that you’ve stumbled onto the wrong blog, this is TomTalks and you have not entered the twilight zone. All of this is to say that we at Tom James completely understand you are not one dimensional in your life, or with your wardrobe, and that we are well-prepared this season to assist you with every dimension – from business, to formal, and, of particular note, a broad range of casual.



During the next few weeks we will be opening up the world of your favorite brands (or soon to be) that provide casual clothing with the quality and fit you have been asking for and deserve to be wearing.

Your “5D” sartorial conscience,

Finding the Middle…..and Owning It (Part four of a four part series)

The fundamentals – sportcoats, pants, and shirts – are in place. The remaining pieces – the layering and finishing details – are ripe with opportunity to express your individuality and personal style.

V-neck and Zip-Mock sweaters or vests

A sweater or vest provides both a physical and visual layer, adding warmth to you and your look.

Sweaters for Causal Dress

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Neither too dressy nor too casual, the middle look requires shoes (or ankle boots) that are less formal than what you would wear only with a suit and more formal than what you would wear only with jeans or shorts. Variation is achieved by virtue of design, the texture or finish of the leather, or both. Oil waxed, slightly distressed, suede, and pebble grain are all in “the middle” range. Find out what is the right shoe for you.

Shoes for Causal Dress

(From top to bottom and left to right… MacNeil, McTavish, Malvern, and Lucca; all by Allen Edmonds, followed by two versions of the Air Jayhawker and the Air Stanton Chukka from Cole Haan.)

Note: The McTavish is part of a collection that features waxy, distressed leather that is particularly suited for the elegant casual look, giving off a fresh, young vibe for the modern urban man.

Ties

While a tie is not required with this look, if you’re going to wear one, choose a tie made with wool or cashmere in the fabric. The texture of a wool tie will look right at home with the loftier hand of your flannel, cashmere, tweed, and corduroy sport coats. Wool ties have never looked more elegant and bow ties are no longer just for professors, eccentrics, and the assertively contrarian. Pay special attention to solids, checks, plaids, two-tone stripes and dot patterns. Find out how to tie the perfect knot for you.

Ties For Causal WearNote:

Ties follow clothing in width and texture. With a 3” width as the base, the width of your tie should coordinate with the width of your jacket lapel, give or take a 1/4”.

With all of the possibilities for adding depth and warmth to complete the look, keep in mind the ancient but never out-of-date wisdom from da Vinci that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Sartorial regards,

Tom JamesTom@tomjames.com

Finding the Middle…..and Owning It (Part three of a four part series)

In the last two posts, we chose the perfect coat, added the pants…and now we add the shirt for this distinctively “middle” look – between dressy and casual.
Classic Americana fashion is driving current design. Inspiration for patterns and colors is being drawn from the 50’s and 60’s, from Ike to JFK. With a jacket that is relatively solid and neutral in color, shirts are where to mix it up with color, pattern, texture, and even different collar and cuff styles.

Shirts of Oxford Cloth, Broadcloth or Chambray, and Cotton Twill
Solid blue is always a good place to start. Classic stripes and checks should also be high on your list.

Note: In general, if the jacket has a bold pattern, you may wear shirts with a subtle or muted pattern…or vice versa. Keep in mind that the bolder and larger the pattern, the more casual it reads. This is true for any garment, be it a shirt, jacket, or tie. It’s ok and even advisable to combine different textures within the same outfit. More on Mixing Patterns.

With respect to collar options, the styles that work the best without a tie are specific and few:

Medium spread
Button down

The height of the collar and the length of the points should balance with your size and shape, as well as with your choice of clothing. Trimmer fitting clothing and jackets with narrow lapels should be balanced by a shirt with a shorter collar a shorter point length. Of course, the opposite is also true.

As you develop two or more outfits that complete this look (the middle look), you will find natural versatility and ease of mixing and matching pieces from one look to the other. Next: the Finishing Details.

Sartorial regards,

Tom@tomjames.com