Category Archives: Tom Talks

Father of the Bride

I just want my baby girl to be happy!

When I opened my monthly Book Club mailing in March, right on cue, the Classic-of-the-Month, Edward Streeter’s Father of the Bride (1949), was front and center. Some may recall that the book was quickly made into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy, then remade in 1991 with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton as the parents of the bride and Martin Short as the irrepressible wedding planner, Franck Egglehoffer. In either case, Stanley (“George” in the remake) Banks, father of the bride, lived out a personal drama for the ages. While his initial concerns were more about the eventual marriage, his thoughts quickly turned to the wedding itself, as evidenced in this brief excerpt:

“As his mind focused on the actual ceremony he began to have secret qualms about it. Weddings had never meant much to him one way or the other. They were pleasant parties where he was apt to run into a lot of people whom he had not seen lately. Now, when he considered his role as father of the bride, it became alarmingly apparent that he was slated to play a lead part in what looked more and more to him like a public spectacle.

When it came to discussing the date, therefore, he was like a man who has rashly committed himself to go swimming in a glacial stream. His idea was either to get the affair over with as quickly as possible or else postpone it to a point so far distant in time that, like death, he wouldn’t have to worry about it for the present at least.”

For the man who may find himself in this most distinguished of roles one day soon, I can offer little advice from personal experience other than what I have observed from others. However, I do have friends in high places who have generously offered their hard fought wisdom.

Dave B. from Northern CA, who watched his first born son get married just a few years ago, and is anticipating his daughter’s wedding this summer, said that, “The biggest difference between his son’s wedding and preparing to be father of the bride is the drama. With the son, the only thing you have to worry about is a nice rehearsal dinner. With the daughter, there is drama. How many guests? What type of invitation? Mass or no mass? Obviously budget is an issue, but after a while that becomes irrelevant because you just want your baby girl to be happy”. Dave went on to say, “I think the younger they are, the more the parents have input into the outcome. In our case, our daughter is old enough that she is much more in control of how she wants things to go. Plus she’s a control freak like me! The thought that her Mother and I have that keeps us going is ‘Have fun with it.’ If you do that, even the drama is O.K.”

Mike B. has “given away” both of his daughters in the last 2 years. He said, “Each had their own wedding setting and vision for how it was to look. One was on a beach, the other in a field. In both cases, my experience was: it was best to follow the request and direction of the Bride. Speaking to his Tom James tailor, he said, “Your tailoring would be a good way to go to make what is needed in the colors desired by the bride to be.” Thanks for that plug, Mike. You are so right about that. Our ability to do custom is a clear advantage.

Another recent father of the bride, Armand, said “We stayed away from the traditional tux with bowtie etc. The look was more understated but sophisticated with a black suit, white shirt, gold tie and vest. It complemented the bride’s gown and that was the deciding factor. It was her day and we didn’t want to distract from her and her dress.”

Mickey B. said that his daughter’s wedding, including all of the planning, was mostly great fun because of the people involved and because they threw a really great party. He added, “There was always the feeling that I would wear a tuxedo, because it doesn’t get much more special than my daughter’s wedding. As it turned out, the groom wore charcoal gray and the groomsmen wore black tuxedos, so my tuxedo fit in perfectly. But, for the record, I was going to wear it no matter what, out of love and respect.”

Tom James client Brian McCarthy shows his bride, Lexie, the label inside his wedding tuxedo. Instead of the usual label with his name, (per the suggestion of his San Francisco clothier, Whit Behrens), the label reads “Forever Yours Lexie” and included their wedding date. The groom reports his father-in-law (featured in the background) was moved to tears.

For more custom labels visit Say LUXE to the TUX!

Hearing from these experienced FOTB’s, it appears that the hard part is over. It’s time to write the check. Make your little girl happy by helping her have her day, and enjoy the party. Oh, and when it comes to what to wear: make her proud, show respect, and let the Bride (and Groom) have their day in the spotlight. When in doubt, choose classic and timeless. Your Tom James clothier can give you direction. If there is to be any drama, may the FOTB be not the cause. Rather, see that he is the one to keep it all in perspective and running like clockwork.

I raise my glass to you, Dad! She couldn’t do it (have done it) without you!

Sartorial Regards,


“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 (aka rejuvenate your wardrobe)

– Part Four

I’m not done talking about Wedding Season, but as a brief interlude, here is the final installment of the series we began earlier this year. Most of the other ways, previously mentioned, to mix up your look are relative child’s play when compared with the topic of the day.

I Revere You… Masculine Man of Strength! – Return of the Double Breasted Jacket

Whether in fact or illusion, a well-cut double breasted jacket, with the exaggerated ‘V’ created by the lines of lapels as they descend from the shoulders, creates a strong, masculine and somewhat regal image, one which commands a certain reverence. Popular between the wars (WWI and WWII that is) and again from the early 80’s through the mid-90’s, wearers of double breasted clothing have exuded a certain aura of strength and vitality, possessing “an undeniable jauntiness.”

The night I met my wife I was wearing an impeccably cut six-on-one (one button, six to show) double breasted suit, cut from a most amazing cloth – a blend of Super 140’s wool, cashmere and mink – that Holland & Sherry 1838 called “Victory.” If I could still fit into that slim 33” waist I would wear it again today. My bride would be the first to admit that the suit played a definite role in her giving me not only a fair audition, but a life-long call back.

Not designed for the every man’s day-to-day attire, double breasted jackets lend an air of formality, and carry with them a bit of the dandy – ever so slightly excessive in elegance. If for no other reason, men of reputation and a certain distinction would do well to include double breasted clothing among their choices for important events of a social nature (including business social) and special occasions.


When properly cut and fitted, the long diagonal line created by the lapel, in concert with the pointed shape of the peak lapel will cause the wearer (all but the shortest) to appear more athletic and slimmer. Though the aforementioned Six-on-One creates a longer line, the classic British Six-on-Two (two button, six to show) model shown above is the preferred style of the day, and always preferred by the classically attired. The Six-on-Two should be styled with side (double) vents, because the coat should be buttoned while standing, and double vents are the only way to gracefully access the trouser pockets, in addition to maintaining the style’s basic geometry and essential panache. This would be a perfect opportunity to acquire a custom made suit.

Note: A modern double breasted jacket is decidedly trimmer and a bit shorter than those of prior eras. The navy blazer pictured above is from the “old school,” shown for the purpose of comparison, and because a blazer is a top tier choice for including the DB style.

If after all of that, you’re still not of a mind to consider some new double breasted clothing at this point, a perfect transition style might be a single breasted jacket with peak lapels, instead of the conventional notch.


Sartorial Regards,


No One Told Me

Insights and Advice from Recent Grooms on What they don’t prep you for

We’ve all heard it said, “Hindsight is twenty twenty.” One way to get that advantage is to ride the coattails of someone else who has “already been there.” If your wedding is still in the future, perhaps the very near future, then here is your chance to do just that. Before things get too crazy and your ability to listen is greatly diminished by the emotions and activities of the wedding festivities, here is some ‘sage’ advice from the experiences of a few recent grooms.

Adam M. from San Francisco provides these priceless nuggets:

“Nobody told me that a sudden rainstorm right before the outdoor ceremony was entirely the groom’s fault… as if, somehow, I controlled the weather.”
“Nobody told me to double-check the length of my collar stays before packing my wedding suit, so they wouldn’t stick into my neck throughout the ceremony.”
“Nobody told me a couple glasses of champagne before the ceremony is a perfectly acceptable way to steady the nerves. Thankfully I figured it out on my own.”
“Nobody told me my father, who officiated the wedding and agreed to wear a tie for the occasion, would show up in a bolo tie.”

So the acorn doesn’t always fall that close to the tree?

“Nobody told me a dozen white doves would be released right after kissing the bride, so every photo of the moment shows me cowering behind my wife.”

I knew ahead of time about the doves at my shindig. They were awesome! Great for outdoor weddings. Maybe not so much in a church or chapel. At least have someone open the doors and windows.

Or how about this one courtesy of Brad from Chicago:

“No one ever tells you that “hey, one of the happiest days of your life can also be one of the most stressful”. Looking back, I would have done more to keep situations “light” rather than getting upset trying to figure out who this woman was and where did the girl go that I am supposed to marry.”

Robert C. gave us this great tip:

I think the thing they don’t prep you for is how much you will be the center of attention. This puts pressure on you to be pretty perfect in all you do. One way I combated any anxiety from that is to focus my attention on how I can serve others and make sure they feel like the special ones. I made sure everyone felt appreciated for what they were doing for us as groomsmen, parents, priests and ushers. By helping them I helped myself.

And while we’re on this topic, here are two simple lists to pay close attention to:

What you Shouldn’t Care about

(at least not to the point of losing sleep, etc.)

  • Her dress
  • Any of the other dresses
  • The flowers
  • Wedding colors (unless she wants to pick the colors of your favorite team’s arch nemesis)
  • …I’m sure there are a few other things. Ask around and make your own list.

What you Should Care About

  • What you will be wearing
  • Your Vows
  • Who you choose for Best Man
  • The Guest List
  • The Food and Beverages….especially the beverages
  • The Honeymoon and what you will be wearing

Already experiencing marital bliss? Do you have a tip you’d like to share, so a future groom doesn’t have to say “no one told me…”?

Also, check out more photos and dialog on our Facebook Timeline.

Sartorial Regards,