Category Archives: Custom Clothing

“Your Suit is Talking to Me!”

Color Psychology and your Choice of Clothing

Fashion colors for spring 2012 are the most “normal” and accessible that we have seen in many seasons. According to those who decide such things, a range of prep school friendly blues, a cooler red, grass green, and solar power yellow lead the way, trailing only the color of the year – tangerine tango. The shade of blue that is central to current fashion is like the ocean off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands. (If that shade of blue is too difficult to picture, maybe it’s time to pack a bag and call your travel adviser?) Simply put, your new blue suit or blazer for 2012 should be bluer than standard – that is, pick the bluest shade of navy that works with your complexion (skin tone, hair and eye color). For the most part, work the other suggested colors into your shirts, ties, accessories, and sportswear.

Back in the day, in the experimental 60’s, someone famously told another person at a party, “You’ve turned a whiter shade of pale.” I say “famously” because that catch of phrase became the title of a #1 single in the UK and #5 in the USA in 1967, and has been by far the most publicly played song in the UK ever since. A whiter shade of pale may not be in your sartorial future, nor your desired skin tone, but the shade of blue or gray or brown that you choose to wear this spring and summer deserves careful consideration.

I singled out those three colors because they are the dominant and most popular suit colors for business. Some would argue that “no brown in town,” still holds true, and not only for shoes, but in most places the dress code is relaxed enough that even a darker shade earth-tone suit may be considered relatively formal and in the warmer months a summer tan suit is a timeless standard. And I will always advocate that brown shoes provide decidedly masculine and elegant of dress footwear with a broad range of suit colors.

Could the colors that you choose to wear really influence the outcome of human inter action – whether a planned meeting or a chance encounter? Yes. Emphatically, yes!!! Color is an emotional language, replete with nuanced meanings, subjective perception, and highly charged impact. In terms of emotional influence, suit colors can be grouped into a few basic categories. Each category conveys its own meanings and elicits a certain set of responses, but a single theme runs through all color categories: formality and the perception of authority increase as the shade of color darkens. For a more detailed overview of how to apply the 3 most popular suit color categories to some common business situations, visit the Virtual Tailor. Look for more to come here as well on the subtleties of color, including meaning and how to put it together.

Your suit is talking to me. Hope it’s sending the right message.


Sartorial 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,