Category Archives: Outerwear

Take your style Up a notch with Robert Graham

imageNormal, Status-quo, timid and safe are not words used to describe the clothing and accessories from Robert Graham or the people who wear them.  People who wear clothing and accessories from Robert Graham see themselves as a-cut-above, not a-cut-out.

There are something like 7 billion people in the world today.  It’s easier to get lost in a sea of sameness than it is to stand apart from the crowd.  I recently started working with a guy who is the “middle” of three brothers.  Part of his interest in custom suits, custom jackets, and custom shirts is a much larger selection of cloth and the opportunity to make them more personal…not so much the same as what his brothers are wearing.  In effect, what he said to me was that he loves his brothers, but that they don’t need to show up at meetings and events looking too much like the three musketeers.

Part of the genius of the Robert Graham brand is that it offers a range of expression – the option to turn the volume up just a little, or to crank it up so that the neighbors at the end of the block can hear it too.  You can take just a step away from the ordinary, or you can stand on a platform….so to speak.

The vehicles employed to create space and distance are color and pattern, and the artful combination of the two, along with embellishment, whimsy, fun, and a full dose of eccentricity.  Some of their pieces exhibit a burst of color while many items differentiate with subtle, but colorful detail.  In case you didn’t catch it, the RG brand is not just about being a-cut-above or standing out.  It’s also about having fun, risk taking, and living life to the fullest with no holding back.

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New this season from Robert Graham (RG) is denim.  In keeping with everything else they do, the RG denim is of great quality and styled to fit the lower body like their shirts fit the upper body.  Embellishments on the RG jeans are mostly on the inside.  We also like their cotton chinos, which provide embellishment with a single contrasting belt loop and button hole.


A great new piece this season from RG is their un-constructed, melange knit, cotton blazer.  Something super comfortable and cool to throw on when you want/need another layer for comfort or a more tailored look.  Done in a medium shade of gray, you can wear this blazer with just about anything.


Last but not least is a new piece of outerwear.  Similar in length to a blazer, this jacket is made from a nylon tech fabric and is loaded with functionality.  The moss color exterior is easy to wear and versatile and the rust interior provides that distinguishing difference.

For more details on ways to take your style up a notch or two this season, visit 12 Essentials.


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.

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.


C3 = Custom Car Coat

I can remember several times, earlier in life, when I really wished that I had a Car Coat for the original reason it was created, to keep you warm when driving in an open car in cold weather. People with convertibles usually want to drive with the top down, no matter how cold the weather, unless it’s raining…hard.

Photos all from Wikipedia: 1925 Ford Model T; 1963 MBZ SL; 2004 Porsche Boxster

Prior to 1910, the primary body style for an American-made automobile was a convertible or open-top. Even after the closed-body model became the standard, insulation technology was lagging behind. It still could get mighty cold so people regularly wore coats and gloves when driving in the winter. Combine the diminished mobility of all that bulk with the lack of power steering, and you had an accident waiting to happen.

The Car Coat was designed with a shorter length (about 8 inches shorter than full length) and A-line shape that made it easier and more comfortable to wear when driving than the standard full length overcoat. Problem solved. But the truth is that only about 1% of all cars sold in the U.S.A. have a convertible feature. Wearing a coat and gloves while driving is hardly necessary for most people today. But the Car Coat style is as popular as ever because it is lighter, packs more easily, and is more versatile with a variety of clothing styles, from casual to business dress.

While navy or black solid are the most popular colors for a Car Coat, (I have practically lived in my navy Car Coat during the past three winters) with the option of having one custom-made, a whole range of other colors, patterns, and varying weights of cloth are available to help you develop a mini-wardrobe of coats are at least get the one that is perfect for you. In addition to the obvious choices, why not get one made from a winter weight sport jacket cloth, such as cashmere, camel’s hair, and a broad range of tweeds, checks, herringbones and plaids?

Since your new coat will be custom made, you also have choices about pockets and buttons, lining and stitching, and other details to make it one-of-a-kind. Your Tom James Clothier will expertly advise on all of the details and sizing.

Living the custom life,