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

Mike K. asks: On several recent occasions I have felt either overdressed in a suit and tie or much too….’ordinary’ when dressed in the standard blue blazer with khakis and a golf shirt. A lot of days call for a look that I’m struggling with…. somewhere between the suit and the blazer… that will raise my game a notch or two. Where should I start?

TomTALKS: Like a presidential candidate during a general election, if you want to win in an environment that isn’t “suited up”, find the middle and own it! Sartorially, the middle is a look which is neither completely dressed up or down – an appropriate combination of clothing and accessories, drawing from both ends of the continuum. Consider these smart selections to address your problem and hit the sweet spot of this trend for the fall season!

A Versatile Tailored Sport Coat. Start with the coat! It pulls from the dressier end of the formality continuum and forms the foundation of your look! A well-cut tailored jacket imbues an otherwise casual look with heightened respectability. In most cases, go for a two-button or “soft roll” three-button model. [If you’re going for a more sophisticated look, and you plan to wear a tie (or a knit turtle/mock neck as shown) then by all means consider a DB jacket. In this case, the navy blazer won’t be so ordinary and would be an excellent choice.]

For the Fall season, choose a cloth with a rich appearance and a soft hand such as wool flannel, cashmere, or tweed.

A step more casual would be corduroy or suede.

Our cloths in this category have been carefully designed to create patterns and finishes that are clear and clean, sophisticated textures that may be comfortably worn in most any region during the fall season.

As you choose your cloth for a jacket, keep in mind that on the continuum from Refined to Rustic,

  • Smooth = Refined
  • Textured = Rustic

In other words, the more pronounced the texture, the less formal the look. Details such as patch pockets, elbow patches, and leather buttons are other ways to “relax” the look. Where you plan to wear this kind of look, who you will be interacting with, as well as your personality, will help to determine where along the range of rustic to refined you should focus.

NOTE: If you’re going to invest a little extra on any one piece, the jacket is where to do it!

And a by-they-way, if your blazer is feeling a little too ordinary, perhaps you need to update to a better cloth and/or a more current cut. The navy blazer still is and always will be the single most versatile and functional sport jacket that anyone can possess.

While you may not be running for national office anytime soon (that would be a whole other conversation), own the stylish middle ground and you will gain a new vote of confidence! Stay tuned for the next piece to the puzzle….

Sartorial regards,

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