Category Archives: Travel

Travel with fewer wrinkles in Clothes that move with You – Wrinkle Free Clothing

What’s all the fuss about a few wrinkles and the still growing demand for wrinkle free clothing?

imageClarence Day Jr., author of the 1935 work Life With Father wrote, “Age should not have its face lifted, but it should rather teach the world to admire wrinkles as the etchings of experience and the firm line of character.”   I suspect that at least among the male portion of the population, Mr. Day’s thought meets with little resistance, even with all of the advances in skincare during the eighty years since he wrote that. Case in point: several years ago my wife got me into the habit of daily moisturizing.  While still full of “character,” I’m likely showing a few less wrinkles on my face than I otherwise would have at this point.

Note:  My dermatologist got me wearing sunscreen every day as well, for a different albeit related reason.

A wrinkle or two on one’s face is one thing, but wrinkled clothing is another subject all together.  The great southern gentleman, R. Faucheux, quipped “A little wrinkle can be distinguishing…but not in your clothes,” a thought that gives voice to the sentiments of many people for whom wrinkle-free and non-iron clothing has become quite popular, especially with regard to shirts and pants for dress and business wear.

For several decades now textile producers have been working on ways to combat wrinkles in clothing.  From a myriad of synthetic fibers, varying blends, and a mix of chemical treatments, in every case one has had to sacrifice some level of comfort to gain a more wrinkle-free appearance.   Over time those trade offs have continued to shrink, but some still exist.  Clothing with a high performance factor that is now meeting with the greatest appeal are those made from fabrics with “flex” – fabrics that move with you.

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A couple of months ago we wrote about Mizzen+Main, a new brand that is bringing to dress shirts a set of benefits that were previously only available in modern athletic or active wear.  Made with fabrics that have four-way stretch, are moisture-wicking, and can air dry in just a few minutes and be ready to wear, Mizzen+Main shirts offer amazing comfort and are easy to own.

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In the world of custom shirts, Tom James is now offering a group of “performance shirts” that have quickly developed a loyal following.

  • dry&fly is a collection of seventeen easy iron and wrinkle free cotton fabrics.  The high tech finish makes caring for these shirts easy.  Just a light touch up with a warm iron at the collar, cuffs, and front pocket is all you need to look your best.  This collection also offers a high degree of moisture absorption and crease resistance.
  • Natural Stretch Twill is a collection of six all cotton fabrics that are specially woven to provide added stretch, allowing for greater comfort even with a slimmer fit.
  • Tech Stretch is a collection of thirteen fabrics that are 98% cotton and 2% Spandex.  This collection features five colors of mini bengal stripes and gingham checks.  Again, even with a super trim fit, shirts from these fabrics will move with you and be super comfortable all day long.

Along the same line as the Tom James Tech Stretch shirts, we have also introduced “Flex by Tom James”, a collection of fabrics for custom suits, custom blazers, and custom pants with a bit of added stretch, including light weight plain weave cloths made from 98% Super 100’s wool and 2% lycra, and a series of fine twill cloths woven from 98% Super 140’s wool and 2% lycra.  While wrinkle resistance isn’t necessarily the primary feature of these cloths, compared to 100% wool fabrics of the same weave and weight, these cloths offer improved wrinkle resistance and shape retention, as well as additional comfort, especially when the clothing is made with a modern trim fit.

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What do you call a cross between a blazer and a sweater? A bleater? A Swazer?  Well, whatever you call it, it’s a pretty sweet item to add to your wardrobe for all of the reasons that we’ve been discussing.  Wrinkle resistant? Check.  It’s tailored from a knit, not woven, fabric.  Flexible and comfortable, even with a trim fit?  Check and check.   Our Knit Blazer features:

  • a 100% wool knit cloth
  • Patch pockets (perfect for a jacket that is so flexible and comfortable)
  • Sew thru Blazer Buttons
  • a Butterfly Lining (to keep it as light and flexible as possible)
  • a Tailored fit (closer to the body, but with the natural flex of a knit garment)

Whatever your perspective on wrinkles and clothing, I would argue for some balance between being overly neat on the one hand or looking like you just got up from sleeping under your desk on the other.  A wrinkle or two in your clothing may indicate that you’ve been doing something with your day other than just neatly sitting in a chair, back straight, feet on the floor.  To put a finer point on it, Paul Fussell wrote in his 1983 book, Class, “the wearing of clothes either excessively new or excessively neat and clean also suggests that your social circumstances are not entirely secure.”

Well, I for one really like new clothes, though I often like them even better once I’ve worn them a few times and they are either “broken in” or have married their shape to mine.  As for the other point, may I suggest that you find a comfortable balance between showing that you care, but not looking like you’re trying too hard. No muss, no fuss!

What to Wear: Summer Style made Simple with Sportswear Packages

imageI’m returning home today from my first long weekend trip of the summer. For once I didn’t over pack, but had plenty of wardrobe options for every occasion and didn’t struggle once with what to wear.

The secret was in “the package.” Putting together a sportswear package eliminated having to do much thinking.  By keeping the color range simple and choosing pieces that easily coordinated, deciding what to wear was easy.  For this weekend I chose navy blue and white as the base colors, with red, pink, navy and purple tones as the accent colors.

What I packed:

  • One pair of dark denim jeans, two shorts – white solid and red, white, and blue check.
  • One long sleeve and one short sleeve patterned shirt which both worked easily with the jeans or white shorts.
  • I brought a navy solid polo and crisp white T-shirt to wear with the checked shorts. I Could have easily worn red instead.
  • My swim trunks were also red, white and navy blue.
  • A navy cotton v-neck sweater and a light weight jacket rounded out the clothing, for the cooler early morning and late evening weather, and in case it rained (which it did not.)
  • Gray canvass slip-ons and navy blue sneakers were my shoes…worn with a blue belt.

 

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Note:   Had I anticipated doing anything requiring a more formal look I would have packed my new “heightened blue” blazer.

 

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Travel for leisure should be as care free and enjoyable as possible. Packing well is a good start. Depending on the length of your trip, pick one or two neutral colors as your base colors to build a sportswear package around and balance solids with patterns…heavy on the solids for simple elegance.

Note:  Neutral colors include:  navy, gray, black, brown, tan, and white.

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Other Tips:

  • Launder and try on anything new before you pack it. (Laundering will remove any surface chemicals that may remain from the manufacturing process. And make sure it fits.)
  • Use a packing checklist to make sure that you don’t forget anything important.
  • Did you remember UV protection and sun shades?

Safe travels this summer.  Make memories!  Have fun!

 

 

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.

Secrets of Savvy Business Travelers

Travel, especially business travel, presents a myriad of challenges, not the least of which relate to clothing. In that respect three of the biggest obstacles are:

1. Packing the right clothes.
2. Packing enough, but not too much.
3. Dealing with wrinkles (or, better yet, trying to prevent wrinkled clothing.)

Knowing what to pack depends mostly on how well you know your destination or destinations (culture, weather, etc.) and the extent to which you can anticipate what you will be doing and who you will be doing it with. The less experienced among us, more often than not, end up packing more than we need, presumably to be prepared for anything. Maybe that’s the Boy Scout in each of us. Be prepared.

But the good Boy Scout also knows that if you’re going on a 50-mile hike, you want the pack on your back to be as light as possible. So you carefully plan ahead of time and bring only what you need. The time honored motto “be prepared” is no more appropriate than when applied to the business traveler.

With regard to the issue of wrinkled clothing, the answer both to how you pack and what you pack. We all know that some fabrics travel better than others. Fiber content, how a cloth is woven, and many other factors contribute to wrinkle resistance. Wool is more wrinkle resistant than cotton as is cloth that is more tightly woven rather than a loose weave. Most synthetic fibers are particularly wrinkle resistant as are some natural fiber fabrics that have been treated to be either no-iron or “easy care.”

Navy microfiberReport shirt

For business casual, resort wear, and golf, the new microfiber pants from Tom James provide a wrinkle-free, easy care, and very comfortable option  for those who can wear a ready-made size. For a modern, tailored-fit, dress casual shirt option, consider easy-care shirts by Report.

Packing Tips to prevent/reduce wrinkled clothing:

  • Packing any jackets or shirts on hangers? Try covering each piece with plastic garment cover that you get from the dry-cleaner.
  • Roll clothing, instead of folding whenever possible.
  • Make use of packing sleeves, cubes, sweater bags, etc.
  • Pack and use a handheld/travel size steamer.

One of my favorite bits of travel advice comes from frequent international traveler Jim H. who said, “I like to bring items attached to good memories. A hand-made linen pocket square with embroidery from a trip to Sestri Levante, Italy. A pair of Celtic cuff links my wife returned from Dublin with. Keepsakes that have fond memories attached to them.” If you have to be away from home so much, at least you can bring a little bit of home or the ones you love most with you.

More advice from Jim:

  • Carry a pair of cuff links or silk knots as well as a small handful of collar stays in your briefcase. “The case never leaves my side and you never know whose day you might save besides your own.”
  • When you think you have packed enough, remove something. You’d be surprised what you don’t need.
  • Wear part of an outfit when you travel rather than pack it.

Joe B. is particularly fond of his black suede lace-up shoes for travel because they look smart with everything from jeans to formal wear.  He also told me that his Global Entry TSA Pre Check card is a must for frequent travelers. “It saves me hours, days and weeks over the course of a year,” said Joe.

More travel tips that will make packing easier and simpler,  save you time and may even save the day:

  •  Keep the variety of color and patterns of your clothing to a minimum.  Choose clothing for ease of coordination and versatility.
  •  Put your passport in a shoe you plan to wear, then into the safe in your hotel room. On a recent trip to Scandinavia my sister-in-law left her passport in the hotel room safe. (She must not have known about the shoe idea.) Fortunately we had left the hotel only minutes earlier so it was easy to retrieve.  Imagine the problem it might have been had she discovered the error two days later when trying to leave the country?  Which leads to the next point…..
  • Make a photo copy of your passport/driver’s license and keep the copies in a different bag than the originals.
  •  Put a business card on the inside of your bags.
  • Stash an extra credit card somewhere other than your primary wallet/card holder.
  •  Put a colorful ribbon or some similarly unique identifier on any checked luggage, especially if it’s a black bag that looks like so many others – to make it more easily recognizable.
  • Stick to your travel routine (where you put your license, etc.).  Keep things in the same pockets, etc.
  • It’s best not to check anything that you might need for the next day.  Try to keep those things, including the next day’s clothing, in your carry-on.
  • Last but not least, pack everything in a great piece of luggage, like the TUMI Alpha Two-wheeled Carry-on.

TUMI Alpha 2 carry on

 

Incorporate these ideas and featured products and take the hassle out of travel, whether for business or pleasure.