Category Archives: Casual Wear

Surviving the Elements: How to stay Warm and Dry

Tech jacketIt’s still c-c-c-cold throughout much of the country right now, but most of us just set our clocks forward and it’s time to get ready for Spring. This “time of transition” can make getting dressed for the day tricky because the temperatures can swing thirty or forty degrees as the day progresses, from “dang it’s cold out here” to at least kind of nice and warm, and then back down again before you get home. Add to that the high likelihood of some rainy days in the near future (Californians can only hope) and the question becomes “how do I survive the elements, staying warm and dry, but without getting too warm?”

The trick to staying comfortable when you’re out in the elements in the Spring is a great extra outerwear layer that is light weight, water repellent and wind resistant. But don’t just take my word for it. Who better to ask than a sailor about how to stay warm and dry.

When Bert Pulitzer started his company in 1975 and the original Survivalon® jacket was designed, there was nothing available for sailors and sport fishermen who wanted an authentic and rugged jacket that would perform well in most marine environments. Sailing jackets were mostly found in Army/Navy surplus stores and were made of nylon with zippers that would rust and snaps that would corrode.

In response to that need, SurvivalonSurvivalon® introduced a water repellent, tightly woven high yarn count cotton poplin fabric (say that ten times as fast as you can) that was more comfortable and performed even better than nylon, with zippers and snaps that got better, not worse, over time.  The cotton fabric is not only more comfortable than any synthetic fiber, but it also gets better over time, taking on that special patina that you only get with a natural fiber.  What I’m saying is that you will really like the jacket when it’s new, but you will love it even more as you wear it and make it your own.

There have been several updates to the original jacket. The original draw cords were braided cotton with round wooden stoppers. Today’s versions have military grade nylon elastic cords and nylon stoppers with stainless steel springs, keeping a good cinch when used for wind protection. Like Sperry Topsiders, RayBan Aviators, and a great fitting pair of jeans made from dark, raw denim, a Survivalon® jacket is a “forever” product, a timeless and durable classic. With it’s unlined construction, and modern fit, the Survivalon® jacket is a great mild weather shell and a layering masterpiece, great for travel.  The light weight 2 way pockets carry your car keys, phone, papers, credit card holders, etc.  The Survivalon® jacket  is super functional, versatile, and has that authentic good look. We chose to offer it in navy, a color that goes with anything.

ZR vestAnother layering piece that we really like is a reversible (blue and gray), quilted vest by Zero Restriction (ZR).  ZR and Fairway and Greene represent the benchmark of quality for golf clothing.  Found mostly in the pro shops of the best country clubs and golf resorts around the world, Tom James is proud to offer a few of their best items. Not only for golf, vests such as this one have become standard issue in workplaces that don’t require more formal attire and can easily be worn with a variety of other casual clothing on the weekend. Because it is water repellent and wind resistant, and quilted, it will keep your core nice and warm while allowing for complete freedom of movement when you are playing golf or otherwise active.  The ZR vest will be your favorite go-to layer this Spring, I promise.

For more information and details on how to survive the elements this Spring, check out our 12 Essentials for the month of March.

Get their attention…with Robert Graham

wclectic“May I have your attention?  May I have your attention, please?”  came the call over the public address system.  A fire drill? Another safety alert?  We’ve all been trained from a very tender age to stop whatever we  are doing and listen when such a call goes out.   A siren or flashing light is also designed to get our attention, but it’s usually not to announce anything pleasant.

Getting the attention of another (without sirens and flashing lights) in a way that also generates interest, desire, and favorable action (AIDA for you savvy marketing and sales people) is not always such a simple task.  It often requires an element of surprise or delight, something impressive, something capable of disrupting one’s train of thought, if even for just a moment.

Robert Graham (Robert Stock and Graham Fowler) menswear is designed with that in mind.  After serving a wake up call to menswear back in 2001 with a line of shirts that were bold, colorful and artistic, the brand has evolved into a full range of menswear that exhibits what they call “American Eclectic.”  From shirts to pants, socks to belts, some of their pieces speak with a quiet confidence, while others sing in full-voice.   In other words, you can move from one octave to another and turn the volume up or down, all while wearing Robert Graham, and definitely feeling confident every step of the way.



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Robert Graham would be the first to tell you that their clothing and accessories are not for everyone.  They unabashedly design for the man who wants:

  • to live a more colorful life
  • to be “a cut above, not a cut-out.”
  • to have the confidence to paint his own picture.

Several of the early and most significant actors in founding the America that we know and love were men who fit that description.  They were men who had a strong sense of their own significance as well as the significance of the times they were living and what they were seeking to accomplish.  If Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were alive today they would be all over Robert Graham clothing.

Jacket and Jeans: Finding the right combination to dress up your jeans

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All of us have seen them. I notice them most often at the airport, walking down the street over the noon hour or happy hour, or certainly when out for dinner or a few drinks. Those men who on the one hand annoy me, and on the other, are like a soap opera that I just can’t turn away from. Like peacocks on display, they walk about with shoulders back and chest forward. It seems like their gate is a little bit slower than necessary, as they casually check their reflection in store front windows. I can’t tell if it’s a habit, or if they just don’t care that people like me notice. Likely both are true.

Distinct from “gentleman peacocks” are a much more impressive, and perhaps rare, breed of male style specimens. Those men are harder to notice, mostly because they seem so comfortable in their own skin and in their clothing. They don’t obtrusively stand out, as do their peacock counter parts, but don’t be fooled. The confidence and style they exude has roots deeper than any plumage one might display. It comes from wearing clothing that perfectly reflects who they are and what they do. They don’t let clothes wear them, rather they wear their clothing. Or as Stephen Marche wrote in Esquire, “the most potent style is the style that you don’t know is a style.”

A particularly sublime distinction shows up in the way these men wear one of the great modern looks – a jacket and jeans. One of the reasons I love this look is because it’s not one for the peacocks, because without the dress shirt and tie, cuff links, shiny leather shoes, and slicked hair, there’s less chance for the flourish they crave. Don’t get me wrong, I love some flourish now and again. Emphasis on “now and again.”

How to do this great modern look? Find a pair of great jeans, throw on a jacket that fits you – one that just feels so right, on top of a simple button down oxford, a simple leather belt and a great loafer or oxford. Ready to roll.

But what makes this look roll off some men so wonderfully, and on others, not so much?

Fit.

“What’s that?” you say. “Is that the entire answer? Certainly it has to be more than that, right?”

Nope. Not really.

Fit is it!

In 2014, jeans that fit means nothing too full in the leg, all the way from the top to the bottom. If you’ve tried pulling off your boot cuts from 2005 recently, you’ll know what I’m talking about. What then looked so stylish now looks so baggy, so….wrong.

Your jacket must also fit. Fabric and details matter too, but fit will make or break the look. Before I continue – “jacket” is really synonymous with sport coat. Why not use the “sport coat” designation then? I love that casual ring to “jacket.” And we’re talking with jeans, so it just works. I say it does anyway.

For a jacket to fit, nothing too full throughout the chest and waist, and yet nothing too tight either. Dare I say I’m a bit tired of the skinny, sausage casing suit and sport coats? Let the peacocks think they still look good in them. As to length, I will suggest the length of the jacket needs to have a modern feel to it – nothing much beyond the fullest part of the seat. Generally, this won’t be too far past the bottom of the jean’s rise. Where’s that? Where the pant inseams run into each other, right below the bottom of the zipper.

You’re a modern man, making your mark on the world. Jeans and a jacket is a look for you to master. Your time is now. People are looking to you, at you and up to you. Don’t waste time looking into reflective surfaces. Wear a pair of great jeans with a well-cut jacket, keep it simple with the shirt, shoe, and belt, and live your life!

Your Summer Style Multipliers

S14-CBGN-02-45I was one of the models for The Tom James Company Spring and Summer 2014 fashion show. I don’t always model in fashion shows. The admiration I receive every day when wearing world-class custom tailored clothing from Tom James is usually sufficient. But in this case I had to say yes because my outfit was a pair of linen drawstring shorts and a linen shirt, and I really like to wear linen.

When I first tried them on in my office a few weeks before the show (sometime last December), everyone in the office instinctively said, “Wow, you look COMFORTABLE!”  No kidding!  That’s pretty much what you get from softened linen – the look and feel of extreme comfort.  Wearing that clothing slowed my pace, and made me feel more relaxed. I think it even lowered my blood pressure! I was immediately longing for warmer weather (It was December, remember), a deck chair, and a Corona with lime!

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Clothing has the power to set the tone, change the mood and alter how a person feels. In a matter of moments, the right clothing can elevate confidence, make one feel more powerful or more attractive, younger or more mature, energized or relaxed.  In the case of that linen outfit, it was all about comfort and casual chic.  I would wear that clothing at a tropical resort or to a backyard BBQ and be really comfortable, feeling great about how I look.

Dressing well for summer casual occasions doesn’t require a lot of clothing.  You just need a few of the right pieces that you can mix and match with confidence.  Perhaps as fundamental as any item for a classic casual wardrobe is the ubiquitous “polo” shirt.  The name is a bit of misnomer as it was originally designed by Rene Lacoste for championship tennis in 1926.   By the mid-30’s, the short sleeve shirt of pique cotton with a soft, flat collar was rapidly becoming the universal shirt choice for many sporting and leisure pursuits, including the games of polo, golf and, of course, tennis.  In each case, the shirt we now know as a polo shirt replaced a much stiffer, long sleeve, button front shirt, thus providing much greater comfort and ease of movement.  A basic polo shirt wardrobe should include solid colors of: white and navy, and at least one other color of choice.

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A selection of shorts and cotton (or linen) pants are also fundamental to a summer casual wardrobe, keeping in mind that most denim is too heavy for true summer weather.  The basic colors are khaki, stone, and navy, but one shouldn’t hesitate to consider other colors such as shades of red, orange and green.

Note:  In general, except perhaps on the golf course (and especially if your name is Ricky Fowler,) choose a neutral tone for either the top or bottom of your outfit.  (Neutral tones = black, gray, navy, tan, brown, white.)

As mentioned above, while polo shirts are perfect for the active pursuits, the more genteel activities of dining out, wine tasting, and socializing require clothing that is more tailored and elegant.  A collection of just a few well-chosen sport shirts, both long sleeve and short sleeve, will take you most anywhere.  Round it out with and a simple blazer of cotton or linen and you’re all set.  (Except for the proper footwear, which we will cover in an upcoming post.)

Now go enjoy your summer in style!