Tag Archives: blazer

Take your style Up a notch with Robert Graham

imageNormal, Status-quo, timid and safe are not words used to describe the clothing and accessories from Robert Graham or the people who wear them.  People who wear clothing and accessories from Robert Graham see themselves as a-cut-above, not a-cut-out.

There are something like 7 billion people in the world today.  It’s easier to get lost in a sea of sameness than it is to stand apart from the crowd.  I recently started working with a guy who is the “middle” of three brothers.  Part of his interest in custom suits, custom jackets, and custom shirts is a much larger selection of cloth and the opportunity to make them more personal…not so much the same as what his brothers are wearing.  In effect, what he said to me was that he loves his brothers, but that they don’t need to show up at meetings and events looking too much like the three musketeers.

Part of the genius of the Robert Graham brand is that it offers a range of expression – the option to turn the volume up just a little, or to crank it up so that the neighbors at the end of the block can hear it too.  You can take just a step away from the ordinary, or you can stand on a platform….so to speak.

The vehicles employed to create space and distance are color and pattern, and the artful combination of the two, along with embellishment, whimsy, fun, and a full dose of eccentricity.  Some of their pieces exhibit a burst of color while many items differentiate with subtle, but colorful detail.  In case you didn’t catch it, the RG brand is not just about being a-cut-above or standing out.  It’s also about having fun, risk taking, and living life to the fullest with no holding back.

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New this season from Robert Graham (RG) is denim.  In keeping with everything else they do, the RG denim is of great quality and styled to fit the lower body like their shirts fit the upper body.  Embellishments on the RG jeans are mostly on the inside.  We also like their cotton chinos, which provide embellishment with a single contrasting belt loop and button hole.

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A great new piece this season from RG is their un-constructed, melange knit, cotton blazer.  Something super comfortable and cool to throw on when you want/need another layer for comfort or a more tailored look.  Done in a medium shade of gray, you can wear this blazer with just about anything.

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Last but not least is a new piece of outerwear.  Similar in length to a blazer, this jacket is made from a nylon tech fabric and is loaded with functionality.  The moss color exterior is easy to wear and versatile and the rust interior provides that distinguishing difference.

For more details on ways to take your style up a notch or two this season, visit 12 Essentials.

 

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!

The Return of the Blazer

imageThe blazer has returned, which begs the question, “Where did it go?”  The blazer, the navy blazer in particular, has been a wardrobe staple of the well-dressed man for more than a century. True enough, but for nearly a generation it had fallen out of favor to a degree, thought by many to be either a bore or too conformist.

Well, the circle of life keeps spinning, and the blazer has returned as the most essential jacket for pretty much everyone.  All of the cool kids are wearing them again!

Truthfully, the blazer probably hasn’t been “cool” since the early days of the term, when the jackets by that name were mostly made of brightly colored cloth in shades of blue, red, and green.  In fact, the first use of the term “blazer” dates back to the bright scarlet jackets first worn by the members of the Lady Margaret Boat Club of St. John’s College, Cambridge in the late nineteenth century.

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Why the return of the blazer?  For one, wearing a tailored jacket is so very modern and is enjoying a renewed importance as a symbol of professionalism and civility.  Beyond that, what makes a blazer cool and is further fueling it’s return to prominence is an openness to more vivid colors.  The blazer is once again (to varying degrees) blazing!

Dating back to the mid-eighteenth century uniforms of British naval officers, navy blue is the traditional color for a blazer, and is always appropriate.  A navy blazer is the most formal of all your key casual wardrobe pieces.  Darker shades of blue represent a high level of authority and seriousness without appearing too severe or menacing.  As Bruce Boyer put it in Elegance, “Today that dark blue jacket, having been a staple for so many years, is internationally civilized, equally at home in the boardroom as on board, and its versatility and classic lines make it the perfect jet-age jacket, even though it was born on the sailing ships of the North Atlantic.”

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But a lot of blazers are showing up in shades of blue that are more “heightened,”more….blue.  Blue is the color of confidence, loyalty, and sincerity.  While a full suit in a brighter blue would be over the top for many men, a blazer that is brighter than navy blue is more broadly appropriate and is much easier to pull off, because a blazer is more casual than a suit and is worn with trousers of contrasting color.

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Originally blazers were paired with white or cream colored flannel trousers.  More typically a blazer is worn with pants that are a shade of gray or tan (beige).  For social wear, white, cream, and especially red pants are also making a strong return with the blazer.

The cut and the details of the modern blazer have also been updated.  A modern blazer fits close to the body, but not tight, and a little shorter than a more traditional version.  While a 6-on-2 double breasted style is traditional for a blazer, most blazers today are single breasted, two button models, emphasizing ease of function and a modern minimalism.  Distinguishing details include buttons, button holes and their color (you may want to do one or more of the button holes in a contrasting color), accent stitching, and pockets.

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Traditionally a blazer is made with gold-tone buttons, usually gold over brass, and often with a motif that represents a club, school, or regiment.  I still love my classic hopsack blazer with Holland & Sherry Buttons of 24K gold over brass that say “Carpe Diem.”

But my favorite blazer at present is my bright navy one, styled with a narrower lapel and light brown buffalo horn buttons.  That’s the one that makes people stop, and smile, and say nice things.  I’m wearin’ the blues and feeling anything but blue.

My next blazer (heck yeah, I could easily have another blazer) will have silver buttons.  Silver is the new gold! (I just made that up.)  I may also have it made with patch pockets, which is a more relaxed, casual detail.  The ticket pocket that you see on a couple of the blazers pictured in this post are not traditional, but are another way to detail and personalize your blazer.

The lining you choose for a custom tailored suit, blazer, or other jacket is one other way to personalize it.  Jackets with more expressive linings – contrasting colors and patterns – have grown in popularity during the past decade or so.

How should your blazer be styled?  In a way that defines you.

How do you wear a blazer?  Any way that you feel comfortable.

Know the rules, and make them your own.