Category Archives: Tom Talks

A Gift that Always Fits – A Custom Made Suit

I was fortunate to grow up in a home that my parents had custom built when I was just five years old. By then they already had four children, so several of the features were designed with me and my siblings in mind. Mom was the chief architect and got most of what she really wanted, the features that made life more comfortable, convenient, and enjoyable for her and her family.

In the family room, each of us had our own desktop space and drawer that were built by a cabinet maker. I know… pretty sweet, right? One long counter top in the kitchen (half marble and half cutting board) was built at a height especially suited to a shorter adult (Mom) and her young children. That was a handy feature when we all started to make our own lunches before heading off to school each morning. Work, play, and storage spaces, as well as special lighting, were designed to support my parent’s favorite hobbies, including painting, sewing, and card games.

Whether a house, or a suit of clothing, getting the features and fit just the way you want them is what custom is all about. Custom made clothing is more comfortable, wears better, and makes an impression that is unmistakably successful and confident.

When having a suit custom made, not only do you get to choose the cloth and basic style (a jacket that is two-button or three, maybe add a vest, etc.), but also specific details such as:

  • Fit
  • Shoulder expression
  • The number and position of pockets and buttons
  • The color of linings and buttonholes
  • Edge or Craft stitching
  • Several other possible options, most of which add very little if any additional cost.

Over the years many Tom James customers have given custom clothing to honor achievements and as gifts of appreciation and encouragement to:

  • Outstanding employees
  • Key team members
  • Younger associates
  • Family members
  • And more

Giving the gift of custom clothing can be a completely tailored experience or as easy as giving a gift card.


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,


Hipsters for Non-Hipsters

I am not a hipster. At least I am not a hipster in the sociologically contemporary sense of the word. I have met a hipster, and have even had a conversation with one or two, but I myself am not a hipster (though I do like wearing gingham shirts.)

For those who aren’t quite up to speed, a hipster, in modern parlance, is generally a young adult/teen who connects more with alternative rather than mainstream values, fashion, music, and the like. If you prefer to wear western shirts, T-shirts with ironic sayings, over-sized eye frames, skinny jeans, or carry a courier bag, then you just might be a hipster. Evidently, trying to be ironic is fundamental to the hipster culture.

It may come as a relief to know that you don’t have to be an actual hipster to wear a hipster. If, in fact, you are someone who your friends consider to be hip, all-the-better, but even that is not a prerequisite. As recently as 1986, Huey Lewis and his band declared that it can even be “Hip to be Square.” So who’s to say exactly what is and is not “hip?” A hipster, however, is a jacket that bottoms out at right about… you guessed it… the hips.

Designed to be worn instead of a tailored sport jacket, a hipster is the perfect jacket for a fall weekend getaway, Thanksgiving at the In-laws, or a casual day at the office. If I were building a wardrobe of five essential coats for fall and winter, a hipster would be one of them.

Feeling hip…. in my hipster,


All Out – as in “Full Coverage”

Full coverage costs more on the front end, but can often save your back end….if you know what I mean. After paying all of those premiums for dental insurance, you don’t want to be hit with a big bill because an un-popped popcorn kernel chipped your tooth and you didn’t have “full coverage.”

Since the 19th century glory days of outerwear, coats have been getting shorter and lighter, but there are still times when only a “full coverage” Overcoat or Topcoat (technically lighter than an overcoat) meets the required, or at least preferred, look and function.

In the realm of classic Overcoats, one can choose either single breasted or double breasted, made from heavier wool, camel hair, or cashmere cloth, or a blend of said fibers. For daytime dressy and formal evening wear, I suggest that you choose a solid (or herringbone) cloth in navy, black or charcoal. A double breasted model would also be a great choice, but single is more versatile. For extra dressiness, a Chesterfield, with its customary black velvet collar and fly front will stand above the crowd. First worn by George Stanhope, the 6th Earl of Chesterfield, it is considered to be the original overcoat. Thanks to Gentlemans Gazette for the photo and further elaboration on the style.

Tan Camel hair or Cashmere is best for wearing over earth-tone clothing, sport coats and daytime dressy/business casual. For the true classic, what noted author G. Bruce Boyer called “the best looking topcoat a man can wear,” a “Polo coat” – half belted, w/ cuffs, patch pockets, stitched edges, and a little longer than standard – epitomizes the masculine costume. It was standard issue for none other than Vince Lombardi. The photo above is from Lombardi, a new American play, as performed on Broadway.

A man’s wardrobe is not complete without the right outerwear. When did you last update your overcoat?

Going All Out,