Tag Archives: Holland and Sherry

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.

 

Living Well: A Custom suit made from Merino wool from Cloudy Bay

imageI was reading about wine, while drinking a little wine (as I am prone to do,) and I was reminded about the lingering pleasure found in a mouthful of sauvignon blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.  More than 60% of the wine produced in New Zealand comes from that region.  Among the many fine producers,  Cloudy Bay Vineyards,  located in Blenheim, about 8 miles from Cloudy Bay, is one of the better known wineries on the island.

Bob Campbell wrote about the 2012 vintage in Gourmet Traveller,  “After all these years, Cloudy Bay has still got it. It’s encouraging to know that the brand is not merely resting on its laurels. Beautifully harmonious sauvignon blanc with a mix imageof grapefruit, gooseberry and capsicum contrasting with riper tropical and tree fruit characters while the acidity and sweetness are perfectly balanced. The net effect is an elegant and moderately complex wine that delivers power with great subtlety.”

Kind of makes you want to take a sip, doesn’t it?  Well, as much as I enjoy the sauvignon blanc varietal, there is more to the region near Cloudy Bay than just beautiful vistas, rows of grapes, and tasting rooms.  There are also rolling pastures that boast lush vegetation, fertile soil, and a temperate climate, making it the ideal habitat for Merino sheep, and the inspiration for a new suit cloth, for a custom suit, that can be encapsulated in a single word: “sublime.”

A custom suit, tailored from one of the more then forty patterns in the exclusive and “sublime” Cloudy Bay Super 140’s Merino wool collection by Holland & Sherry will cost you a pretty penny more than a bottle or even a case of Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, but rather than drink it up, you can wear it and enjoy it any day of the year for seasons to come.

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Merino sheep were first introduced to New Zealand in 1773 by British explorer James Cook.  That venture didn’t work so well, but in 1814, Samuel Marsden re-introduced Merino sheep to New Zealand and from that time forward they have thrived on the islands, producing among the finest of all wool fibers.

The Cloudy Bay region of New Zealand is located in the north east of the South Island, south of the Marlborough sounds.  Named by Captain Cook in 1770, the bay itself connects the Tasman Sea to the South Pacific Ocean.  The Cloudy Bay Collection of cloth is woven in both warp and weft direction by 2 ply yarns and is constructed of a 2/2 twill weave.  It is a full-bodied cloth with bloom and a luxurious, sleek handle.

The color and pattern choices range from classic mid-gray solid to a slate blue alternate stripe, a series of completely amazing shadow stripes and reverse plaids, six colors of birdseye, and plaids with mirrored window panes. Any cloth from the Cloudy Bay collection will form an amazing foundation for a custom suit – your next suit.  How you style a custom suit is up to you.  Yeah, you should see them!

To see and feel the Cloudy Bay collection, or any of the more than 40 other cloth collections offered this season, please contact your local Tom James professional.

A Triple Crown for You and Me

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The first leg (The Kentucky Derby) of the Thoroughbred Racing Triumvirate was run on May 3rd.   California Chrome was favored and did not disappoint, winning the race handily. Now it’s on to The Preakness Stakes (run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland)  this Saturday, May 17 (California Chrome is again the favorite to win,) followed by The Belmont Stakes (run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York) on June 7 in the quest for the elusive Triple Crown – a series of three specific races for three year old Thoroughbred horses. You have to win all three in the same year to win the Triple Crown. Three horses (but of course) won the Triple Crown in the 1970’s (Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed.) None have won it since. Twelve horses have since then won the first two races, but none were able to win all three.

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In 2012 Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers won the batting Triple Crown of Major League Baseball (MLB). Prior to that no one had won it since Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox did it in 1967. The Triple Crown of baseball consists of leading a league (either the American or National) in three specific statistical categories: batting average, home runs, and runs batted in (RBI) over a full regular season. As you can readily see from those two examples – horse racing and playing baseball – achieving a Triple Crown is difficult and rare!

In the world of tailoring and fine cloth, a triple crown is equally rare though lesser known. Triple Crown is a crafty way to describe a new cloth creation by Holland & Sherry that is woven from yarns with a 3-ply twist. This is significant for at least two reasons:

1. Most fine worsted wool cloth is woven from yarns that are 2-ply or even single ply. Adding the third ply (meaning three threads are twisted together instead of just two) makes the yarns and resulting cloth stronger and adds dimensional stability.
2. The 3-ply twists offer a depth of color that would not otherwise be achievable, creating cloths that are visually interesting and supremely well balanced.  Many of the cloths have a look of texture but are completely smooth to the touch.

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Woven from Super 120’s wool, the Triple Crown collection is perfect for the individual who would welcome a fresh twist on a variety of classic looks for suits, blazers, and 245520245501trousers. The range of solid colors is truly unique and particularly well suited for separates or coordinates.

California Chrome is the only horse  that still has a shot at the thoroughbred racing Triple Crown this year.  But you and I can take advantage of a unique opportunity to wear a Triple Crown.  To see the full Triple Crown cloth collection from Holland & Sherry, contact your Tom James Clothier.