Category Archives: Accessories and Furnishings

Socks for Men: The New Black is anything but Black.

black socksWho really thinks that much about socks?  Can’t a guy just have a drawer full of black socks and get on with life?  Black socks go with pretty much everything right? Especially if all of my dress shoes are black?  Well of course you could take that approach.  And I could just eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day.  Don’t get me wrong.  Simple, black socks for men have their place, especially if the occasion is particularly formal or somber.  On a related note, socks that match the color of your pants are technically correct.

blue pattern socksBut, if you ask me, one would do better than just PB&J by eating an interesting, delicious, and well-balanced diet.  A variety of flavors, textures, and visual presentation adds much to the pleasure of eating and dining.  And we all know about the health benefits of leafy greens in the diet.

By the same token, moving beyond just black solid to socks with some color and pattern, that coordinate with your custom suits, jackets, shirts and pants, and which are appropriate to the occasion, venue, or season, can heighten your visual communication.  And truthfully, socks are more like the dressing on the salad or the sauce on the main course.  Minor, not major.  But a small thing that can make a big difference.

red dots on blueFrom The Suit, by Nicholas Antongiavanni, “For nothing more enlivens a man’s appearance at so little a cost than an adventurous yet tasteful pair of socks.” Simple. Succinct. Well said.  But let me break that down.   An enlivened appearance makes a greater impact than a dull appearance.  There are many ways to achieve that, adventurous socks being one of them.   Not having to spend a lot to get that extra impact?  Hard to argue against that.  Adventurous, yet tasteful.  There are two sides to every coin.  Keep it all in balance.  Remaining tasteful is the boundary, and that’s where further discussion is warranted.

A final word.  Take stock of your Socks!


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!


Cashmere: Practical Luxury

FullSizeRenderSometime about the middle of October, when I felt the first hint of a chill that Fall weather brings, I reached for a cashmere sweater.  I wear my gray zip mock cashmere sweater the most.  In fact I’m wearing it right now.  It amazes me how good it still looks knowing how often and under what conditions Its been worn.

Mind you, I harbor no ill feelings toward clothing knit from cotton or wool.  I own and enjoy several items of each.  But cashmere.  Well, it’s just a cut above in so many ways.  I could list all of the reasons why, but the cleaning lady in Seinfeld, The Red Dot episode, tells it so well.



OK, so anyone who knows what cashmere is and has ever felt something made from cashmere probably loves cashmere.  Given the option, most would prefer cashmere, including George Costanza from Seinfeld, The Apology episode….

George: “Ho ho ho ho! I can’t wait for Hanke to come crawling back to me.”
Jerry: “Still with the neck hole?”
George: “Still upset. Very upset.”
Elaine: “What neck hole?”
George: “Remember that New Year’s party he threw a few years ago? He had that
very drafty apartment, you know, I think on Ninth Avenue.”
Elaine, becoming bored: “Faster.”
George: “I asked if I could borrow a sweater.”
Jerry: “A cashmere sweater.”
George: “I said preferably cashmere, for warmth. So in front of the whole
party, he says, ‘No. I don’t want you stretching out the neck hole.'”
Elaine: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
George: “Oh, yeah, sure, laugh it up. Everybody else did!”
Elaine: “Well, it’s funny. I mean, you have a big head. Or is it ’cause of
your neck?”
Jerry: “No, I think the head does most of the stretching.”
George: “Regardless. I had to walk around for the rest of the party in some
cheap Metlife windbreaker. Now, it is payback time.”

19501Cashmere is prized for it’s warmth.   Even a very lightweight cashmere sweater can keep you warm because of it’s unmatched ability to trap air.  But it’s expensive, right?  Yes it is.  And for good reason.   For one, the soft, downy fleece is hand combed each Spring from the Kel goats that live high in the mountains of Inner Mongolia and nearby regions.  So it’s not exactly like picking an apple from your tree in the backyard.  In addition to that, each goat only provides a few ounces of the really fine fibers that live beneath the coarser exterior.  As a result, the annual output from at least three of those goats is required for just one average size cashmere sweater.

But I implore you to look beyond the price tag and consider the long term benefits.  The simple truth is that excellent quality cashmere is surprisingly practical.   Sure cashmere costs more to buy, but it costs less to own and wear.   A quality cashmere knit is relatively more expensive than a similar item made from other fibers, but it will out last cotton by a mile and even a really good wool sweater will lose it’s luster sooner than cashmere.  Like many a fine red wine, when properly cared for, cashmere improves with age for a very long time.  More to the point, cotton and wool, no matter what the quality, will never rival the soft look and feel of cashmere.

HS002  cashmere throws

That fact holds true whether it be a sweater, a jacket or coat, scarf or shawl, or even a throw blanket for the sofa.  Cashmere shawls were so popular among the elite of Europe between 1780 to 1880 that the period was often referred to as “the shawl years.”   For many women a cashmere shawl is immensely practical.  Especially in drafty theaters, when dining outdoors, or when traveling.

Note: Most cashmere knits have labels that suggest dry cleaning when necessary. While a good choice for multi-colored pieces, a better choice in most cases for solid color items is to hand or machine wash in water with a small amount of mild detergent. Then lay flat to dry on a white towel. Do not twist or wring.

I’m getting my mother a cashmere shawl or sweater for Christmas this year.  Maybe both.  She’s always wanted a cashmere sweater and it’s high time she gets it.  Who will you give the gift of cashmere to this year?



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.