Category Archives: Custom Clothing

New Year, New Look? (Part 1)

Ten Sure Ways to Successfully Mix Up your Look

Aaron W. writes: It’s a new year and I’m looking to really change up my look. You know, take it to the next level, as they say. Any thoughts on a few simple ways to get it done without having to re-do my closet?

TomTalks: It may come as no surprise, but I live to answer questions like that. What could be more fun than figuring out a new way to mix up or punch up your style? In this regard, I like to keep things simple and direct. During the month of January I’m going to give you 10 great ways to mix up your look this Spring.
Here are the first three to get you started:

Add a Ticket Pocket to your Jackets

While this trend has been gaining steam over the past few seasons, the ticket or “cash” pocket likely originated in British equestrian and hunting circles so that riders and hunters wouldn’t have to unbutton to access money to pay the toll or tip the gatekeepers while on the hunt. Some would suggest that this additional pocket is a sporting detail and makes the garment less formal than it would be otherwise. Whether or not you will ever actually use it is really not the point. While some designers have been adding them to ready-made suits, the ticket pocket remains mostly a custom detail that adds a modern, distinguished, British accent to any tailored jacket.

Practically, the ticket pocket is good design for the tall man (especially the tall and thin man) for whom the more details the better. Forgetting what I just said earlier about its dubious potential usefulness, I recommend stashing within a small stack of business cards and maybe an extra twenty or a C-note in each one. You never know when you may need to reach in there for it to save the day. Why not have one added to your next custom suit or sport coat?

Go West Young Man!

You’ve been wearing flat front pants for several seasons now. With American/USA Heritage styles continuing to drive fashion, consider evolving your look with the same cut and fit, but a change of pockets. Western pockets make a rugged, old west statement while maintaining a clean, trim look. The western pocket is just one of many available trouser options.

See more great looks in our Custom Gallery.

Stripes are Strong!

Whether a bold contrast or a more subtle complement, striped ties are substantial and trusted.

Note: Striped ties show best on shirts of solid color or muted pattern.

See a full range of fresh tie options.

There you go. Three quick ideas and more to come.

What’s one way that you are mixing up your look this season?

Sartorial Regards,

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Proper Fashion Etiquette for a Formal Event

The rules of fashion etiquette are clear for formal events. Certain terms and events require a certain protocol.

First, some general rules to go by:

  1. Unless you are in a wedding in the USA, it is considered to be in poor taste to wear formal attire before evening, roughly 6 pm. The UK and other regions have their own set of rules for this situation.
  2. If you are wearing a waist coat (vest), the bottom button should be left unbuttoned unless you are wearing it for a white tie event.
  3. You may wear a cummerbund and bow tie or a waist coat and bow tie or satin cravat (necktie). You may wear braces with either a cummerbund or a waistcoat.

  4. The pleats of a cummerbund are to be worn facing up as they were originally designed to hold opera or theater tickets.
  5. Because a double-breasted dinner jacket should be worn closed at all times, you do not need to wear a cummerbund or waistcoat under it.
  6. If at all possible, wear a bow tie that you tie yourself (as opposed to a pre-tied bow tie).

With at least seven categories of formal dress to consider, we will reserve discussion of the two most formal – White Tie and Morning Dress – for another time. For Semi-formal to Black Tie occasions, the following suggestions apply:

  1. Black Tie – Although this is a very formal event, it is not as formal as that of the white tie. A black tuxedo is required (AKA a dinner jacket or “D.J.” in the UK.) A white wing collar or pointed collar shirt is worn with a black bow tie and black cummerbund or black waist coat. Black studs and cuff links would also be worn. The lapel of the dinner jacket should be peak or shawl.
  2. Black Tie Preferred – means that the host prefers black tie, but a dark colored suit and conservative tie is allowable. (The suit is acceptable, but not preferred.) This is when it is also proper (or at least acceptable) to wear a patterned bow tie/cummerbund or patterned bow tie and waist coat. This is a formal event but not as formal as black tie or white tie. You may also consider wearing your White Dinner Jacket provided that you are in a tropical climate, on a cruise, or it is between Memorial Day and Labor Day (Derby Day to Labor Day in the Bluegrass state.) Dinner jackets of other colors and patterns may also be considered. Our recommendation would be that you wear your formal clothing in both the “preferred” and “optional” situations. It shows your respect for the event and your hosts.
  3. Black Tie Optional – Not as strong as “Black Tie Preferred” but the same rules apply.
  4. Black Tie Invited – Not as formal an event as Black Tie Preferred or Black Tie Optional. A dark suit and tie are required or you may choose to wear a tuxedo or white dinner jacket (providing the season and climate are correct.)
  5. Semi- Formal – Historically, this was synonymous with “black tie”. Today this could mean anything from a tuxedo to a dark suit and tie. In a more relaxed setting this could allow for a dressy sport coat with or without a tie depending on local culture or particular setting. If you are unsure of what to wear, it is considered proper to call your host and ask.

Shall we all be “puttin’ on the Ritz” this Winter when the occasion calls for something beyond business as usual? Time to raise our standards, gentlemen.

And in case you need some tips on formal dress, like How to Tie a Bowtie, check out The Virtual Tailor.

Proportional Challenges Dressing for your Body Type Part 7

Over the last week, we’ve helped Rob look his best while on a budget….

With respect to getting the most from a limited budget, Rob – and really this is true for everyone – you will be best served by adding quality basics to your rotation.

A well-made blazer made from an excellent piece of cloth will provide elegance and versatility. If you follow the style guide of two-button, side vents, with a ticket pocket if possible, you will reap a confident appearance and be well received.

Add to that a solid medium to dark gray suit, a few well-fitting shirts and you will be well on your way. Spend up on your jackets and shoes (as their construction should last longer and become the base of your wardrobe) and save on your shirts and pants when faced with that choice.

Just remember that quality will last. It’s called investment dressing for a reason. Investments are meant to last and are worth what you pay for them! You’ll have a great coat long after those pants have been retired from your closet. Do you have a fashion or style question? Please send me an email.

And in the mean time, remember The Virtual Tailor. We’ll add videos and features that will help educate you on the basics of fine dress!

Proportional Challenges Dressing for your Body Type Part 6

Rob asked about dressing his 6-foot frame on a budget.

Another great idea, especially during the cooler months of the year….Think Layers…vests, sweaters, etc.

Not only do they keep you warm, they add a bit of bulk to the thinner frame.

Tomorrow, we wrap up the question with discussion on basics. Something everyone needs! And in the mean time, check out The Virtual Tailor!