Category Archives: Tom Talks

Over and Done – Why Do I Need an Overcoat?

Have you seen that guy? You know the one. The guy wearing his new suit…the new suit that’s getting wet because he couldn’t be bothered with an umbrella or overcoat. Or what about Mr. “I’ll-just-wear-my-ski-parka-over-my-suit” during this year’s perfect storm? Then there is this friend of mine who must have twenty five top-shelf custom suits, but when it’s cold and wet, out comes that black, double-breasted trench coat circa 1992. Lazy, sad, and pathetic!

Over means your coat, and done means finished.

When the weather turns cold or wet or both, your look isn’t complete and finished unless your outerwear is money. It should look so good that you’re compelled to keep it on for a few extra moments, even after you’ve stepped inside, out of the elements.

Do you have that coat? Or wardrobe of coats should I say?

As another friend of mine often reminds me, “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” I think you know what I’m saying and you know what to do.

Over and “finished,”


Nine Easy Pieces – Black Tie Style

One of the most sublime aspects of formal dressing is its simplicity. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Da Vinci. Well, whether or not he actually said that, it makes sense that he would have. And, if you study those who have been considered the icons of style and the best dressed throughout history, each one, though unique, has demonstrated exceptionally good taste, subtle and refined.

Black and White. Tailored from fine cotton, wool, and silk. Simplicity defined.

In an article titled ‘Pablo Picasso: Austerity Measures,’ (WSJ, October 17, 2012) about a current exhibit at the Guggenheim, “Picasso Black and White,” Michael Fitzgerald (Professor of Art History at Trinity College) made reference to the “structural clarity of black and white.” You’re busy. You’re successful. The formal choice is simple and clear.

The nine easy pieces? Pictured above, they include:

  1. Dinner Jacket
  2. Formal Trousers
  3. Formal Shirt
  4. Studs and Links
  5. Black Bow Tie (preferably a bow tie that you tie yourself…which may cause you to need a…
  6. Flask….of the hard stuff….to calm your nerves which are now frayed from tying that bow tie.
  7. Cummerbund to match the bow tie
  8. Formal Shoes
  9. Fine, black socks

Add yourself (or your favorite pocket square – luxurious silk or crisp white linen) to the mix and you have a perfect ten.

Here’s an idea: Update your formal wear and plan a weekend in NYC, including a visit to the Guggenheim.

Now go have some fun!


Own the Night

“This is a midnight show, fellas,” said Sinatra to the members of the Tonight Show Band. “You only go out in daytime with these gray suits.” Whether by the commanding influence of his mother, pure instinct, or keen observation, Sinatra lived by a code that included well-understood rules of decorum. Gray suits and brown shoes were fine for daytime wear, but never after six. He also knew that how he dressed was fundamental to setting the tone for each performance and every moment of his life. Sinatra always owned the night!

Sinatra Charm

Classic and Confident

Viva Espana!

Electric Blue

Once you know the rules, then and only then are you free to bend or extend the rules. A gray suit at night? With black accoutrements the gray suit successfully escapes the boardroom. It’s a new day, Old Blue Eyes! A dinner jacket several shades brighter than the customary midnight navy? When of classic design, paired with simple elements, it beams; it shines, making a confident statement. Oh, and it’s fun too!

When you know how to do it right, you gain a freedom to push the limits in ways that always meet with good favor. Since the 16th century, thanks to Castiglione, the Italians have known this acquired sensibility as sprezzatura: ability possessed, devoid of pretension, exercised to perfection with no apparent effort. Develop it for yourself and you too will own the night….and the day for that matter.

Bring on the night!