Category Archives: Custom Clothing

Proportional Challenges

Dressing for your Body Type

Rob H. writes: I am a 6 feet tall, slim guy. What can I do to look sharp while making the most of a limited budget?
TomTalks: Your question is really two parts, both highlighting issues many men struggle with at some level. One has to do with choosing styles and fit that make the most of your build (body type), and the other has to do with making the most of your wardrobe budget.
For men, the essential parameters are just two – the vertical and the horizontal.

  • Vertical: Medium or Average height (5’ 9” to 6’ 1”), Tall, or Short
  • Horizontal: Slender, Average, Muscular (athletic), or Stout (heavy)

Optimal dress based on one’s body type is essentially about visually accentuating the positive aspects of your build or essential parameters and reducing those aspects that create the most challenge.
Custom suits are all the rage these days. When a suit is made for you, it fits well. It literally emphasizes the positive in such a way the negatives are a non-issue.
It’s true the man of regular proportions (equally admired and despised by the more proportionally challenged) has more freedom within “the rules.” The rest of us would do well to pay stricter attention to some particular guidelines. Even when you wear custom suits there are guidelines that are wise to follow.
We’ll investigate those ideas over the next week. And if you can’t wait,…check out our NEW FEATURE – The Virtual Tailor. It’s a virtual treasure trove of resources to help you look your best!

‘Old School’ gets an Update

John P. writes: With Fall approaching my daughter says the time to shop is “now,” before the best options are gone. On top of that, she says my suits are ‘old school’ and need an update. I’m not sure what that means, but she probably has a point. Since I’ll be nearly starting from scratch, what should I be looking for?

TomTALKS: You are fortunate to have someone so thoughtful looking out for you. Your daughter is definitely correct that the best time to shop for clothing is before the season changes, especially if you are having anything custom made. No doubt there are some ‘old school’ practices – like the handwritten thank you note – that never lose their charm, but when it comes to your professional appearance, it’s important your dress reflect the fact you are keeping an eye on the trends!


TRADITIONAL SUITING – This Fall’s business suit is updated, yet timeless; fundamentally classic and masculine. Typically, a two-button jacket with three key elements:

  • Shoulders with moderate to sharp definition
  • A slim waist
  • Slim trousers (whether flat front or pleated)

Suiting fabrics that are a good investment would be solid neutral colors (navy and gray in particular), classic herringbones, muted stripes and classic Glen plaids such as the Prince of Wales (pictured below), especially in grey tones, using the accent colors mentioned below.

ON-TREND Suits have narrow lapels (whether notch or peak), as well as a shorter length. The look and feel is trim or closer fitting, though not demandingly tight, with all the areas of fullness cleaned up.

For those who are really “out in front”, double-breasted jackets should be on your list. A popular DB model is a clean, peak lapel, trim model, with just a touch of shoulder, …which buttons on the waist, in a classic British style.

Of course, when having your clothing made we can fit your jacket and pants however you prefer.

You walk a little taller when you sport a more updated look! Clients, co-workers, …even your daughter, will all take note!

Stay tuned for next week’s post when I will address what to wear on days and occasions that don’t require the formality of a business suit.

Sartorial regards,

To Pleat or Not to Pleat…That Is the Question

Paul F. asks: My teenage daughter is on my case about the pleats in my trousers – she tells me I should lose the “puffy” pants and get some flat front trousers. Then my wife piles on by telling me I really should make an effort to look current. Look, I like my pleated pants—they’re comfortable. Plus I’ve got a sizeable investment in suit pants and slacks that are pleated. What should I do to get these women off my back without blowing half my bonus on new clothes?

Tom Talks: To quote the late Yogi Berra, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Trouser pleats, like other elements of men’s fashion, evolve over time. In the 1980’s, all my pants were non-pleated; when double-breasted jackets became popular in the early 1990’s, my pants sported triple pleats; as we moved into the new millennium, my pants shifted to double pleats. The pleated trousers I have in my wardrobe now are made in our “single pleat” model, but my newest suits all have flat front trousers. If current fashion trends became law, you’d be forced to change out all your pants, but this is still a free country, so consider the ramifications of purging all pleats from your closet:

  1. When you remove the pleats from a trouser pattern, you also remove the extra fabric that offers “forgiveness” when your trousers get a little tight, or you find yourself sitting for long periods of time (meetings, flights, etc.) Also, flat front trousers will wrinkle more, hands down. (But whether pleated or not, the higher the quality of the fabric, the less the wrinkles. Better cloth exhibits better “recovery”, resisting wrinkles or shedding them faster.)
  2. If you have larger than average quadriceps (the large muscle in the front of your thigh), or are just blessed with “rugby thighs”, you may find the fit of many flat front trousers to be confining, particularly off-the-shelf varieties. In a custom pattern, we can accommodate your body by increasing the thigh and knee measures to improve the drape and comfort significantly. So yes, it is possible to make a flat front pattern fit an otherwise pleated body. (And we’re good at it.)
  3. Be aware that removing the pleats can put stress on the side seams of a flat front trouser, causing most pocket configurations to pull open. The more “maximus your gluteus”, the worse the effect. We can do a couple of things to minimize this issue in a custom pattern, including lengthening the back rise and relaxing the hip measurement. Let it suffice to say that thirteen measurements always trump one or two for proper pant sizing.
  4. Regarding cuffs, it is perfectly OK to have flat front pants finished with cuffs. The trouser cuff adds a conservative signature to your overall look, and “turn-ups” (as they are called in the UK) can be easily removed with only minor surgery if you change your mind. Many of our clients still prefer cuffs because they improve the drape of the trouser, and cuffed pants hold better than plain hems in a slack hangar. But if you want to be up-to-the-minute in trouser fashion, have your flat front pants finished with plain bottoms.

So if you’re under pressure to add some flat front trousers to your wardrobe, there’s no time like the present. And the women in your life are correct when they say that flat front pants would make you look trimmer.

But if you’re one to hedge your bets, try this: order a custom suit with an extra pair of matching trousers: one with single pleats and cuffs and the other in a flat front model sans cuffs. You can select the suit trouser to fit your audience (flat fronts are high fashion, pleats are more conservative) and your comfort level (wear the pleated trousers for flying commercial). For additional versatility, choose a fabric where the extra pant can double as a nice trouser for your navy or black blazer (e.g., gray tic-weave, hounds-tooth, or glen plaid).

And if you find that flat fronts are for indeed for you, don’t overlook having flat front golf trousers made-to-measure. We have a new collection of lightweight trouser fabrics in a wool/lycra blend that have just enough stretch in the thigh to be comfortable when you squat down to read the line of your putt.

Best Regards,

Style Never Sleeps

Patrick D. asks: I understand that the movie Wall Street; Money Never Sleeps has the fashion business buzzing about what the actors are wearing, notably the characters played by Michael Douglas and Shia LeBeouf. I remember that the original Wall Street movie had a pretty significant effect on men’s clothing fashion at the time (1989?), but what about this sequel? I confess to taking advice from a gecko when it comes to my car insurance, but what if any fashion advice should I take from Gordon Gekko this time around?

Tom Talks: A fair question, even if you don’t work on Wall Street. The woman who designed the clothing for this Wall Street sequel is the same person who did the clothing for Michael Douglas in the original film, only this time she “did a little research” by observing how people on Wall Street actually dressed for work. Here’s what you can glean fashion-wise from Wall Street; Money Never Sleeps:

1) If you’re being incarcerated, wear something timeless on your first day in; that’s what you’ll be wearing the day you’re released from prison (even if no one is there to pick you up). Having a few classic suits in your wardrobe is a must, even if you work from a home office. None of us can plan someone else’s wedding (or funeral), but there are those events in life where we all need to wear something dark and dressy.

2) Men’s fashion has indeed changed over the last ten years (and certainly over the last nine years, if that’s how long you were in for). That oversized “relaxed fit” Italian suit with the big shoulders and the full-cut triple pleated trousers was all the rage when it was new, but so was the flip phone. In the movie, Gordon Gekko made a point to update his wardrobe as soon as he was “funded”. And the movie’s wardrobe designer had the suits for young Jacob Moore (Shia LeBeouf) tailor- made to the actor’s measurements (at $6500 a copy, no less) to reflect an ultra-modern look: 2-button side vented coats with a decidedly more tailored fit, with trimmer fitting flat front cuff-less trousers. LeBeouf’s suits oozed prosperity right down to the working sleeve buttonholes – the devil is in the details, right?

3) Even Wall Street has embraced the idea of casual dress in the workplace – but where and when it makes sense. Sitting at the desk or pacing the trading floor may no longer dictate coat and tie attire, but jeans and polo shirts may not cut it either. Every profession may have its own casual ‘uniform’, but you’d be wise to take it up a notch from the lowest common denominator in your own workplace. Upgrade the jeans and polo shirts to a dress trouser and collared long-sleeve shirt – necktie optional. You can roll up your sleeves and get to work, but you can always meet with a client or superior on the fly if you keep a spare jacket (sport coat or blazer) and necktie at the office. You can make a quick change and look like you came to work dressed for that impromptu meeting or client visit. We do recommend keeping a clean white shirt at the office, just in case a long day ends with an important late afternoon meeting or business dinner opportunity. Be prepared…

4) In the movie, the formal charity gala event at the Met (New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art) had virtually everyone in attendance dressed in their evening finest. No matter how “casual” your profession, or where you find yourself on the food chain at work, all of us need to be able to get properly dressed for an evening or black-tie event. Forgive me if I’m preaching to the choir, but make it a priority to own a dressy black or midnight navy suit or tuxedo (and consider updating your formal ensemble if it was purchased from a “rental fleet”) and keep a nice white cufflink shirt at the ready to use with a formal bow tie or cravat. We like the idea of a fly-front formal shirt with a point collar, French cuffs, and no pleats for maximum utility. Think about it: if your wife or significant other makes an effort to dress to the nines, you should dress like a ‘10’. There wouldn’t be a tuxedo rental industry today if this concept had no merit. And hopefully you’ve reached a station in life where you don’t have to rent nice clothing. Her evening gown won’t be a rental…

5) One interesting nuance in the movie is the correlation of the changes in the morality & wealth of the main characters with the changes in their dress. It is clear who is on the way up and on the way down. Like it or not, we are conditioned to make judgments about someone’s character, background, and ability by how they are dressed. While those judgments may at times miss the mark, few of us are in a situation where we need not give consideration to how we are perceived by others. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “eat to please thyself, but dress to please others…”

Best Regards,