Category Archives: The Virtual Tailor

Making room in the Back of the Closet

Have you looked back there lately, in the back of the closet?  Depending on the size of your closet and whether you have clothing packed in like sardines or more like free range chickens, you may not even know what’s “back there.”  Unlike a dish that is simmering or a project that is percolating on the back burner, which will be attended to and put to use in the not too distant future (or all in good time,)  items in the back of your closet are probably long forgotten and never to be worn again.  At least not by you.

Getting dressed each day while surrounded by beautiful works of art. Optional. An organized closet. Mandatory.

Getting dressed each day while surrounded by beautiful works of art. Optional and exceptional. An organized closet. Mandatory.

Go ahead.  Take a look.  You may find hidden treasure or a few things that will remind you of past glories.  You may also find that you can easily part with everything back there and be able to free up some much needed space and breathing room for the clothing you actually wear and for the new things you’d like to add to your wardrobe this year.   Even better, what’s in the back of your closet could be donated and change the life of someone in need.

As long as you’re looking in the back of the closet, you might as well consider the whole thing and begin the new year well organized, knowing what you have and what you need, with everything in it’s proper place, and everything up to date and well-maintained.

Not sure how to go about it?  Here are some Time-tested Tips for evaluating and organizing your wardrobe and closet.  Want some help?  Your Tom James Professional is well trained and happy to assist.  Why not call today to arrange a Closet Concierge appointment.

If the Glove Fits

cashmere linedA lot of athletes wear gloves.   Boxers wear big padded gloves.  Receivers and defensive backs in football wear gloves that cushion the blow and help them to grab the ball.  Baseball players wear big gloves (or “mitts”) in the field, to catch the ball, and most wear “batting” gloves when up to bat.  In the game of soccer (futbol to many) goal keepers wear gloves to cushion the blow of a ball traveling at 80 mph.

Gloves provide protection, comfort and style.  Some gloves are more comfortable than others.  The men’s dress gloves pictured to the right are lined with cashmere. Do I even need to tell you that they are exceedingly comfortable?

Gloves that fit are usually more comfortable and definitely more functional than those that are either too big or too small.  My first golf glove was a hand-me-down from my grandfather.  Not only was it a little bit “crusty”….from being used…. it was too big.  I later found out that my correct size for a golf glove is medium cadet.   Not only are my hands relatively small, my fingers are also shorter than average.  As a guitar player in addition to playing golf, what I wouldn’t give for longer fingers!  Oh well, we do the best with what we’ve been given, right?

Even if all of your coats and jackets have great side pockets, when it gets cold out, man is it nice to wear a great pair of gloves.  Gloves and a scarf to be more complete!  But the truth is that most men don’t know what size gloves or hat to buy, so they just do with out.  Life is too short to live that way.  No help with the hat today, but here is a simple guide that will help you buy those long over due gloves:

glove fit











Warm hands, warm heart too! (I know about the cold heart, but your hands are only warm because you’re wearing gloves.)  Gloves that fit!


Remember Last Winter? A coat for all seasons

TOPcoatI’m writing today from sunny San Francisco. It’s an unseasonably warm 83 degrees outside for early October and I’m thinking about outerwear.  Go figure. If the baseball Giants were in town I would be at AT&T park. Alas, they are playing the Nationals in the first game of the NLDS in Washington D.C., where it is just 72 and cloudy, with a 70% chance of rain.

It occurred to me that it can be very difficult to think about preparing for cold weather when it is so nice and warm. It would be easier (though still not easy) today in DC than in SF to get into the mindset for buying outerwear. But for those who want to be ready when the cold and rainy weather hits, it’s time to give it some thought.  So let’s think ahead. Better yet, let me take you back to last winter for a moment.

The weather last winter was ridiculous in large parts of the U.S.A., especially in the Midwest and Northeast.  There were more than a few days when it was just plain crazy to even venture out to the mailbox.  That didn’t necessarily stop us from going, but it did make a lot of us rethink the layers of protection we had to choose from.   A great coat, a scarf, a pair of cashmere lined gloves, and the right shoes or boots can go a long way toward keeping one comfortable when the temperature plummets. As you would expect me to ask, is it not equally as important to look smart and stylish as it is to be warm and comfortable in your outerwear? Of course it is. But choosing the right piece of outerwear to accomplish all of that may not be easy. To help with that, here is a simple guide:

In simplest terms, there are three kinds of outerwear coats:

  1. Those that are to be worn ONLY OVER another coat or jacket.
  2. Those that can be worn most ANYTIME, whether over another jacket or as the only coat.
  3. Those that are to worn ONLY as the ONLY coat.

char chesterfieldCoats to be worn over other coats or jackets (overcoats) – whether a suit jacket, sport jacket, or dinner jacket – are inherently more formal than those to be worn as a stand alone coat.   An overcoat can be either single or double breasted and must be longer than the under or base coat.  Those that should be worn only over another coat will be at least 10 inches longer than your suit jacket (Topcoat length) and may reach as far down as your ankles (Overcoat length.)

A popular choice of late for a dressy overcoat is a well-fitted Chesterfield (pictured left), distinguished by a single-breasted fly front and made from a moderately heavy cloth woven from wool, cashmere, or a blend of the two with raised nap or flannel feel, and Topcoat length.  A true Chesterfield will also have a black velvet collar, adding a dash of panache.

TrenchOther less formal overcoat options would include the classic Trench coat, the Covert (not pictured), and the particularly masculine Polo coat.  The blue coat (pictured below), a stylized version of the polo coat – blue instead of tan – cuts a commanding appearance.  You will pretty much always get your way when wearing a coat like that.




DB Topcoat


black car coat

The ANYTIME coat must walk the line between dressy and casual, and be neither too long nor too short.  Coats in this category will be in the neighborhood of three-quarter length or a little shorter.

A classic choice for the ANYTIME coat that may be worn OVER another coat or by itself is the CAR coat (pictured left.)

Introduced in the early 20th century to be worn when driving in Open-air and Convertible cars, the car coat is shorter in length than a top coat (about 5 inches longer than your suit jacket), allowing for less bulk and more comfort when seated.






Coats that should be worn by themselves and not over another coat range from most leather jackets to coats made from canvas, nylon, fleece, or any sort of quilting.  I’m really liking the idea of a quilted coat as a cool and comfortable option for casual wear this Fall and Winter.

brown leather jacket

In summary, the well-dressed man must have a bare minimum of three distinctly different coats and more likely at least five to cover the range of occasions and circumstances.

Do you remember last winter?  How could we forget!  Well, I’m not the weather man or Mother Nature, but I’m betting that there’s a pretty good chance another one is coming along real soon.   For a full range of outerwear options, don’t miss the month’s 12 Essentials for Daily Living.