Travel with fewer wrinkles in Clothes that move with You – Wrinkle Free Clothing

What’s all the fuss about a few wrinkles and the still growing demand for wrinkle free clothing?

imageClarence Day Jr., author of the 1935 work Life With Father wrote, “Age should not have its face lifted, but it should rather teach the world to admire wrinkles as the etchings of experience and the firm line of character.”   I suspect that at least among the male portion of the population, Mr. Day’s thought meets with little resistance, even with all of the advances in skincare during the eighty years since he wrote that. Case in point: several years ago my wife got me into the habit of daily moisturizing.  While still full of “character,” I’m likely showing a few less wrinkles on my face than I otherwise would have at this point.

Note:  My dermatologist got me wearing sunscreen every day as well, for a different albeit related reason.

A wrinkle or two on one’s face is one thing, but wrinkled clothing is another subject all together.  The great southern gentleman, R. Faucheux, quipped “A little wrinkle can be distinguishing…but not in your clothes,” a thought that gives voice to the sentiments of many people for whom wrinkle-free and non-iron clothing has become quite popular, especially with regard to shirts and pants for dress and business wear.

For several decades now textile producers have been working on ways to combat wrinkles in clothing.  From a myriad of synthetic fibers, varying blends, and a mix of chemical treatments, in every case one has had to sacrifice some level of comfort to gain a more wrinkle-free appearance.   Over time those trade offs have continued to shrink, but some still exist.  Clothing with a high performance factor that is now meeting with the greatest appeal are those made from fabrics with “flex” – fabrics that move with you.

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A couple of months ago we wrote about Mizzen+Main, a new brand that is bringing to dress shirts a set of benefits that were previously only available in modern athletic or active wear.  Made with fabrics that have four-way stretch, are moisture-wicking, and can air dry in just a few minutes and be ready to wear, Mizzen+Main shirts offer amazing comfort and are easy to own.

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In the world of custom shirts, Tom James is now offering a group of “performance shirts” that have quickly developed a loyal following.

  • dry&fly is a collection of seventeen easy iron and wrinkle free cotton fabrics.  The high tech finish makes caring for these shirts easy.  Just a light touch up with a warm iron at the collar, cuffs, and front pocket is all you need to look your best.  This collection also offers a high degree of moisture absorption and crease resistance.
  • Natural Stretch Twill is a collection of six all cotton fabrics that are specially woven to provide added stretch, allowing for greater comfort even with a slimmer fit.
  • Tech Stretch is a collection of thirteen fabrics that are 98% cotton and 2% Spandex.  This collection features five colors of mini bengal stripes and gingham checks.  Again, even with a super trim fit, shirts from these fabrics will move with you and be super comfortable all day long.

Along the same line as the Tom James Tech Stretch shirts, we have also introduced “Flex by Tom James”, a collection of fabrics for custom suits, custom blazers, and custom pants with a bit of added stretch, including light weight plain weave cloths made from 98% Super 100’s wool and 2% lycra, and a series of fine twill cloths woven from 98% Super 140’s wool and 2% lycra.  While wrinkle resistance isn’t necessarily the primary feature of these cloths, compared to 100% wool fabrics of the same weave and weight, these cloths offer improved wrinkle resistance and shape retention, as well as additional comfort, especially when the clothing is made with a modern trim fit.

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What do you call a cross between a blazer and a sweater? A bleater? A Swazer?  Well, whatever you call it, it’s a pretty sweet item to add to your wardrobe for all of the reasons that we’ve been discussing.  Wrinkle resistant? Check.  It’s tailored from a knit, not woven, fabric.  Flexible and comfortable, even with a trim fit?  Check and check.   Our Knit Blazer features:

  • a 100% wool knit cloth
  • Patch pockets (perfect for a jacket that is so flexible and comfortable)
  • Sew thru Blazer Buttons
  • a Butterfly Lining (to keep it as light and flexible as possible)
  • a Tailored fit (closer to the body, but with the natural flex of a knit garment)

Whatever your perspective on wrinkles and clothing, I would argue for some balance between being overly neat on the one hand or looking like you just got up from sleeping under your desk on the other.  A wrinkle or two in your clothing may indicate that you’ve been doing something with your day other than just neatly sitting in a chair, back straight, feet on the floor.  To put a finer point on it, Paul Fussell wrote in his 1983 book, Class, “the wearing of clothes either excessively new or excessively neat and clean also suggests that your social circumstances are not entirely secure.”

Well, I for one really like new clothes, though I often like them even better once I’ve worn them a few times and they are either “broken in” or have married their shape to mine.  As for the other point, may I suggest that you find a comfortable balance between showing that you care, but not looking like you’re trying too hard. No muss, no fuss!

Jacket and Jeans: It’s what we’re Wearing

imageDuring a recent meeting with Mike R.,  a Silicon Valley insurance executive, after we finished talking about his new suit, he said, “And you’re going to like this.  I want to get another pair of those jeans we did last year.”  As he spoke those words I sat there with a feeling of humble satisfaction.  “You were right,” he continued. “They cost a lot more (north of $200) than what I was used to paying for jeans, but they are totally worth it.  They are more comfortable and still look like new….and I’ve worn them a lot…especially with my sport coats!”

I was pleased, but not surprised, by Mike’s experience.  Better quality denim (in all ofimage  it’s varied blends, hues and finishes), coupled with a modern fit (whether trim or relaxed) is not (to borrow a phrase) your Daddy’s Cadillac.

A majority of the better quality or premium jeans sold and worn in the USA are 100% made in the USA.  For the most part, the denim is woven on decades old looms by highly skilled artisans in North Carolina and other parts of the South, and the jeans are designed and made in California or other parts of the West Coast.   Representing less than 5% of all jeans produced, the quality difference is easy to see and feel.  An additional benefit is the inherent longevity.  Like a fine custom suit, premium jeans will better retain their color, size and shape when properly cared for, lasting many years longer than a mass produced pair of jeans.

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Note:  If you are just getting started with better jeans, a good place to begin is with a dark wash or Indigo.  That will be the most versatile with a range of jackets and the best shade of denim for business casual.

While it may never be favored by the most traditional among us, premium jeans paired with the right tailored jacket is de rigueur, epitomizing a modern sensibility for comfortable sophistication when more formal attire is not required.

As far as I can tell, the primary way that guys go wrong when putting together the jacket and jeans look is that either the jacket or the jeans don’t fit the way they should.   Most jackets and blazers circa 1999 or even 2005 are likely too broad in the shoulders, too long, and too boxy to work well with a good pair of jeans.  In other words, you can’t just update your jeans and consider it good.  The jacket and shirt must also have a modern look and feel – which means they must fit!

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Now, I realize that “fit” is a somewhat relative term.  What one man considers trim may feel a bit too roomy for another.  To be sure, most men who wear a size 44 jacket or larger and/or carry their weight in the hips and thighs should not be wearing trim fitting anything, but a modern fit should come closer to skimming your body than looking two sizes too big.

In addition to fit, the fabric for your jacket is a critical decision.  Because you will be wearing it with jeans at least some of the time if not always, your jacket should have one or both of the following characteristics:

  1. If the cloth is solid (no pattern) or has a very small or subtle pattern, then it should have texture or nap, or what I like to call “surface interest.”  Flannel, tweed, corduroy, cashmere, and some silk blends….cloth with some loft….. all fit that category.
  2. If the cloth has a pattern, but a relatively smooth texture, then the pattern should be of a size that you can still see from a few feet away.  The larger pattern provides the illusion of texture, which also works well with jeans, even if the cloth is relatively smooth.

When you get the fit and fabric right, looking and feeling great in a jacket and jeans is a cinch.

Jacket and Jeans: It’s what we’re wearing!

What to Wear: Summer Style made Simple with Sportswear Packages

imageI’m returning home today from my first long weekend trip of the summer. For once I didn’t over pack, but had plenty of wardrobe options for every occasion and didn’t struggle once with what to wear.

The secret was in “the package.” Putting together a sportswear package eliminated having to do much thinking.  By keeping the color range simple and choosing pieces that easily coordinated, deciding what to wear was easy.  For this weekend I chose navy blue and white as the base colors, with red, pink, navy and purple tones as the accent colors.

What I packed:

  • One pair of dark denim jeans, two shorts – white solid and red, white, and blue check.
  • One long sleeve and one short sleeve patterned shirt which both worked easily with the jeans or white shorts.
  • I brought a navy solid polo and crisp white T-shirt to wear with the checked shorts. I Could have easily worn red instead.
  • My swim trunks were also red, white and navy blue.
  • A navy cotton v-neck sweater and a light weight jacket rounded out the clothing, for the cooler early morning and late evening weather, and in case it rained (which it did not.)
  • Gray canvass slip-ons and navy blue sneakers were my shoes…worn with a blue belt.

 

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Note:   Had I anticipated doing anything requiring a more formal look I would have packed my new “heightened blue” blazer.

 

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Travel for leisure should be as care free and enjoyable as possible. Packing well is a good start. Depending on the length of your trip, pick one or two neutral colors as your base colors to build a sportswear package around and balance solids with patterns…heavy on the solids for simple elegance.

Note:  Neutral colors include:  navy, gray, black, brown, tan, and white.

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Other Tips:

  • Launder and try on anything new before you pack it. (Laundering will remove any surface chemicals that may remain from the manufacturing process. And make sure it fits.)
  • Use a packing checklist to make sure that you don’t forget anything important.
  • Did you remember UV protection and sun shades?

Safe travels this summer.  Make memories!  Have fun!

 

 

Casual Clothes with Class and Comfort

Mizzen + Main Blue Solid Natural Wicking Stretch FabricCasual clothing for men need not be the reason for a sartorial casualty.  Though by nature casual means less formal and more laid-back, the level of comfort it implies doesn’t have to give up the level of style and class you are accustomed to when dressing up.

For the most part, modern clothing can be divided into two general categories:

1.  Clothing that features natural fibers, such as wool, cotton, linen, and silk, and a classic cut.

2.  Clothing that features at least some if not mostly technical fibers, providing more stretch and movement (and other performance benefits), cut closer to the body.

Not choosing to play favorites in this category, Tom James provides a variety of options for either preference.  Speaking first about the second category, a new breed of dress and sport shirts that are taking their cue from modern athletic wear are receiving a big thumbs up.   One of the new brands that is leading the way is Mizzen+Main.

imageInspired by modern athletic gear and influenced by professional sensibilities – a blend of class and comfort – Mizzen+Main has set out to create the next great American brand and bring innovation to classic menswear.

imageCombining advanced performance fabrics imagewith a refined, traditional style, M+M is changing the way men approach this staple of their wardrobe with a shirt that is moisture-wicking, wrinkle-free, has four way stretch, and requires no ironing or dry cleaning.

In a very short time Mizzen+Main has developed a huge following of professional athletes (more than 100 from MLB) and other men who maintain an athletic build (or at least like to think that they do.)

Simply put, “You do the work to be fit. We work to make clothes that fit you.”

Tom James Company Gitman Bros Shirts Corbin Trousers

For those who prefer casual clothing and sportswear that is more classic and traditional, Gitman shirts and Corbin pants set the standard.  While not set in their ways, both brands are anchored in American heritage and classic style.

The fabrics used for the Gitman shirts are either cotton or linen.  Corbin casual pants are made from either enzyme washed cotton or linen blended with either wool or cotton, all of which provide natural, cool comfort on warm summer days.  If you have yet to try one, you owe it to yourself to get a linen shirt.  Linen, a fiber that comes from the flax plant, is an eco-friendly fiber, and one that only gets softer and more comfortable as you wear it.

Personally, I like to have some of both categories (traditional/natural and modern/technical) in my wardrobe.  There are times – depending on who I’m with and what I’m doing –  when I want a more traditional look and feel, and other times that I want a more modern, trim, and active look and feel.

Now is the time to get ready for your summer lifestyle – including more travel for fun and more time outdoors and off-duty.  Whatever your style, your Tom James professional can put you in casual clothing with class and comfort.