Author Archives: Tom James

Your Day, Your Way

Styling Thoughts for the Groom and his Groomsmen

Dear Groom:

In case you have yet to be properly informed, your wedding day is “her” day, and you are there to complete the picture.

Congratulations and Sincerest Best Wishes,

All other Grooms who have gone before you

Well, ok, I may have slightly overstated my case, but you get the point. Sinatra made a big hit out of “My Way”, but when you are deciding what you will wear for the big day, a fundamental starting point is: what will she be wearing?

The bride-to-be may have been planning for her wedding day since she was six years old and have everything completely figured out, or she may still be working it out in her head and heart. In either case, with regard to what you will be wearing, find a way to:

  • Appropriately honor the occasion
  • Fit in with the chosen venue
  • Remain true to yourselves
  • Look like you belong together

Your first inclination may be to keep it simple and just rent tuxedos for you and your groomsmen, but may I say, “Not so fast.” That may be the best route to take in some cases, but having a special suit or tuxedo is an increasingly popular choice.

Note: Considering what most brides spend on their wedding dress ($3 – 5K and beyond is not unusual….and never to be worn again in most cases), if you invest even twice as much on your wedding suit as you would typically spend on a suit, you are in good company. And unlike that beautiful dress, you will get to enjoy your suit or tuxedo many, many times after the wedding day.

As the groom, what to wear for your wedding can run the gamut from a full-blown Morning Suit (think Prince William) to a Seersucker Jacket and white cotton or linen pant. One of those would be more appropriate in a Gothic Cathedral and the other on a sandy white beach. I’ll let you decide which is which. The point is: you have options. Your wedding day will be a one-of-a-kind, personally momentous occasion, deserving of an effort that expresses the unique and special qualities of who you are as a couple. So let’s talk about Your Day. Or more precisely, “Your Day, Your Way.”

Even if you decide on the clothes first, and then find a place that perfectly surrounds the stunning couple that you are, let’s begin by asking:

  • Will the ceremony take place in a large church, a small chapel, the backyard of someone’s home, on a coastal bluff or on the beach below or in one of a thousand other possibilities?
  • With the venue decided, are the two of you more formal or casual, sophisticated or bohemian, traditional or artsy, etc., etc.?
  • How would you describe your style as a couple and the style of the day you want to create?

Pearl of Wisdom: Whether you are entering into this union with much in common or from vastly different worlds, some compromises or give-and-take is inevitable. As obvious as that probably sounds, it’s sometimes easier said than done.

Special Touch: When working with your Tom James clothier, you may want to do something like Rudy did to surprise his bride Chloe, and put a special label inside your jacket. Any text that fits on the label and is in good taste is fair game. Your names and the wedding date would be another option. Be creative with one more small way to make it “Your Day, Your Way.”

I doubt that this answers all of your questions, but it should get you moving down the right path. Stay close for additional thoughts on styling your groomsmen and some gift ideas for those same gentleman, what to wear when you’re the guest, and things that no one ever tells the groom from the mouths of recent grooms.

If you’ve already tied-the-knot, what’s one bit of advice that you would like to share with future grooms?
Sartorial (and Nuptial) Regards,

New Year, New Look?

Ten Sure Ways to Successfully Mix Up your Look (part of a series)

I promised ten. I’ve given you seven so far: the ticket pocket, western pocket, striped neckwear, the power of a Holland & Sherry shirt made from Thomas Mason fabric, adding a new color or some working button holes (or both at the same time), and last week I suggested you consider the virtues of a vest. Two more today, then you may have to wait until Spring is here for number ten, but it will be worth the wait.

Square it Up!

Add a pocket square … to finish your look.

I like the crisp, straight fold or straight edge look with suits and the puff fold with sport coats. But there aren’t any hard rules in that regard. It’s part attitude, part personality. You may also want to try “points up.” In my opinion, the straight edge and points up work best with squares of cotton or linen, while the puff requires the more fluid movement you get with a silk square.

To see a demonstration of how to fold and wear each style, take a look at this great, short video. Thanks, Tim!

With respect to color and pattern, there is no reason to be timid when wearing a pocket square. The square should coordinate with your tie but not match it. Either the tie or the square should have top billing, but not both. This is one area of getting dressed to develop some variety and push the boundaries. If the dominant color in the square picks up a color in your jacket or tie pattern, you are sure to have a winning combination. At a minimum, begin with a basic collection of a few solid squares (including white linen) and a couple with more pattern and color.

BTW….your TJ Clothier can help you with pocket squares made from tie silk or cotton shirting fabric.

French Lessons

Voulez-vous parlez la langue d’elegance? Oui.

Then may I suggest that you wear more shirts with cuffs prepared for cuff links. A French cuff (or Double-fold, as the English call it), with a tasteful touch of jewelry to keep your cuff together, epitomizes refined elegance.

Could French cuffs be too much in some cases? Sure they could. I wouldn’t wear them to play in a pick-up hoops game or to stand on the sidelines at my kid’s Saturday soccer game. I wouldn’t even wear them to the Super Bowl (unless I’d been invited to sit in the Owner’s Box.) I might wear them with a bold shirt, some jeans, and a drop dead sport jacket for a guys’ night out. For some men it is part of their everyday look, while for others it is reserved for the most special of occasions.

French cuffs are especially appropriate for your finer white and blue shirts, shirts with medium to spread collars, and any shirts that you do with collars and cuffs of white that contrast with the body and sleeves of the shirt (as shown on the blue striped shirt above left.)

If you already have French cuff shirts in your rotation, you may want to consider trying our newest variation within the range of style options that we call the ‘Mitered’ cuff (shown in the picture above left with the K&E link and in the center photo.) The angled cutaway moves the link slightly further from the wrist and reduces the potential for fraying at the edges. If you get frustrated because your French cuff shirts wear out to easily, this may be your answer.

So, get a couple of new pocket squares and a fresh stack of shirts with French cuffs, and you are sure to make a confident impact.

Sartorial Regards,

Three are Better than Two

I put on one of my three piece custom suits today. I don’t regularly wear a vest, but on certain days, the extra layer sure is a welcome addition. On days that are cold (like today where I live), it provides an extra layer of warmth. On days that are hot, a vest allows the wearer to take off the jacket – to be more comfortable – while still maintaining a noticeably finished appearance, as seen on Mr. Magnana in the picture above. Or, as Alex H. from Houston put it, “a vest can be that extra special piece for events and occasions where one wants to turn the volume up in terms of style and formality.”

Here is Jim Urda from California “Keeping it strong!” in his new three piece suit made from Holland & Sherry Cape Horn cloth, with a peak lapel on the jacket, slanted pockets, and vest with lapels – a look that takes no prisoners.

All of my vests have at least two pockets (sometimes four), which come in handy from time to time. As I have suggested with regard to a ticket or cash pocket on a jacket, the pockets on a tailored vest are an excellent place to keep an extra train ticket (loaded with proper fare), a bit of cash or an extra business card.

Now, I would be the first to tell you that there isn’t a mad rush out there of professional men deciding to wear three piece suits. They are about as rare as a handwritten thank you note, which, come to think of it, may be reason enough to wear a vest…to stand apart from the crowd and get some attention. Herb M. from Louisville reminded me that one of the most welcome benefits that a vest provides is its “slenderizing” effect. Because the vest continues up from the pant in one visually continuous line, it removes the horizontal break of the shirt/belt/trouser line. Truth is, I get the most compliments about my appearance on days when I wear a vest. Especially from attractive, stylish, insightful and intelligent women! But I digress.

While I am advocating three-piece suits, one may also want to consider what is referred to by tailors and clothiers as the “odd” vest. That is, a vest that is not made from the same cloth as the jacket and pant, but which may complement the outfit. The odd vest then is an accessory item that, when properly used in either a harmonizing or contrasting fabric, adds a splash of color and creativity and another layer of interest to a more relaxed suit or sport outfit.

Tom James client Rob Borella, from Pittsburgh, PA says, “My TJ sales rep pitched to me the idea of vests coming back into style several years ago. I gave it a try, starting with a traditional matching fabric, and lining back. I learned to love the flexibility of wearing the vest essentially as a waistcoat, and only adding the suit coat for formal public events. Over the years, I quickly learned to prefer the full fabric back, with a slight contrast to the suit fabric, which provides flexibility and ‘mix and match’ options based on my wardrobe. Nowadays, it seems everyone is wearing vests with their suits, but they often leave out an important feature—add a lapel to the vest. The lapel makes the waistcoat look complete, and is very comfortable and fashionable. I appreciate my rep keeping me well ahead of the trends!”

While Mr. Borella likes lapels on his vests, Jonathan K. from Chicago suggests that the best vest model is the five-button, pointed bottom, no lapel, with the back being made from the same cloth as the front. Keep it clean! If you plan to wear the vest without the jacket a fair amount, the “same cloth” back without the adjustable belt is the way to go. There are a variety of vest styles and options to consider. Some come to a point at the bottom, while others are straight. Be sure to consult with your personal clothier to determine what will work best for you and give it try.

As a final note, Alan M. from Washington D. C. suggests that those who travel frequently, especially both north and south, will find another very practical virtue to a three-piece suit. The same suit worn in London with a vest would be equally as comfortable without the vest in Rome. The same could be said for Seattle to Los Angeles and New York to Miami.

We have heard it said and have experienced the truth that, in many cases and for a variety of reasons, “two are better than one.” In the case of your next custom suit , it may be that “three are better than two.”

Sartorial Regards,

New Year, New Look? (Part 2)

Ten Sure Ways to Successfully Mix Up your Look (aka rejuvenate your wardrobe)

Colorful Language

There is no more effective way to rejuvenate your spring season wardrobe than to add some color. Color is a language all its own. Second only the basic cut of what you are wearing, color is a powerful influence on how others perceive you. Of particular importance are the colors nearest to your face. Do they encourage eye contact and positive connection with others, or do they serve as more of a distraction?
If you think I’m overstating the power of color, why not put it to the test? Choose one new color to mix into your wardrobe this season, even if it’s only shirts and ties. Then take note of the response you get. Whether you do it on your own or with the help of your clothier, select several shades of one color that complement your complexion – skin tone, the color of your eyes and hair. You can thank me later, once others start telling you that you look ten (ok…five) years younger, ask you if you’ve lost weight, or more of the ‘close ones’ go your way.
Note: Take care not to over use the color effect, lest you appear to be trying too hard, or end up looking too much the circus clown.

By the way, to give you some additional direction, here are some timely colors to consider this season:
For clothing (jackets and pants): smoked blue, earthy shades of brown or ash gray.
For shirts, ties and other accessories, as well as sportswear: unapologetic pink and ice blue, lilac and berry tones, as well as margarita green and warm honey.

Put Some Buttonholes to Work

You’ve heard it a million times that “it’s all in the details.” Did you think that was going to change just because it’s a new year? You have buttonholes that work on the front of your tailored jackets, but what about the sleeves? While getting working (functional) buttonholes on the sleeves of your jackets may cause you to ask: “but why?” they are a detail that will get noticed for all the right reasons. A winning cocktail-party-feature if there ever was one.
Among all of the possible coat detail options, far from ostentatious, working buttonholes up the style quotient, but in a quiet, sophisticated manner. That is, unless you decide to finish those buttonholes in a contrasting color or colors, in which case the sartorial volume just got turned up.
You know your personality and the statement that you want to make. Detail and add color accordingly!

Sartorial Regards,