Category Archives: Trousers

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.


Jacket and Jeans: It’s what we’re Wearing

imageDuring a recent meeting with Mike R.,  a Silicon Valley insurance executive, after we finished talking about his new suit, he said, “And you’re going to like this.  I want to get another pair of those jeans we did last year.”  As he spoke those words I sat there with a feeling of humble satisfaction.  “You were right,” he continued. “They cost a lot more (north of $200) than what I was used to paying for jeans, but they are totally worth it.  They are more comfortable and still look like new….and I’ve worn them a lot…especially with my sport coats!”

I was pleased, but not surprised, by Mike’s experience.  Better quality denim (in all ofimage  it’s varied blends, hues and finishes), coupled with a modern fit (whether trim or relaxed) is not (to borrow a phrase) your Daddy’s Cadillac.

A majority of the better quality or premium jeans sold and worn in the USA are 100% made in the USA.  For the most part, the denim is woven on decades old looms by highly skilled artisans in North Carolina and other parts of the South, and the jeans are designed and made in California or other parts of the West Coast.   Representing less than 5% of all jeans produced, the quality difference is easy to see and feel.  An additional benefit is the inherent longevity.  Like a fine custom suit, premium jeans will better retain their color, size and shape when properly cared for, lasting many years longer than a mass produced pair of jeans.


Note:  If you are just getting started with better jeans, a good place to begin is with a dark wash or Indigo.  That will be the most versatile with a range of jackets and the best shade of denim for business casual.

While it may never be favored by the most traditional among us, premium jeans paired with the right tailored jacket is de rigueur, epitomizing a modern sensibility for comfortable sophistication when more formal attire is not required.

As far as I can tell, the primary way that guys go wrong when putting together the jacket and jeans look is that either the jacket or the jeans don’t fit the way they should.   Most jackets and blazers circa 1999 or even 2005 are likely too broad in the shoulders, too long, and too boxy to work well with a good pair of jeans.  In other words, you can’t just update your jeans and consider it good.  The jacket and shirt must also have a modern look and feel – which means they must fit!


Now, I realize that “fit” is a somewhat relative term.  What one man considers trim may feel a bit too roomy for another.  To be sure, most men who wear a size 44 jacket or larger and/or carry their weight in the hips and thighs should not be wearing trim fitting anything, but a modern fit should come closer to skimming your body than looking two sizes too big.

In addition to fit, the fabric for your jacket is a critical decision.  Because you will be wearing it with jeans at least some of the time if not always, your jacket should have one or both of the following characteristics:

  1. If the cloth is solid (no pattern) or has a very small or subtle pattern, then it should have texture or nap, or what I like to call “surface interest.”  Flannel, tweed, corduroy, cashmere, and some silk blends….cloth with some loft….. all fit that category.
  2. If the cloth has a pattern, but a relatively smooth texture, then the pattern should be of a size that you can still see from a few feet away.  The larger pattern provides the illusion of texture, which also works well with jeans, even if the cloth is relatively smooth.

When you get the fit and fabric right, looking and feeling great in a jacket and jeans is a cinch.

Jacket and Jeans: It’s what we’re wearing!

Casual Clothes with Class and Comfort

Mizzen + Main Blue Solid Natural Wicking Stretch FabricCasual clothing for men need not be the reason for a sartorial casualty.  Though by nature casual means less formal and more laid-back, the level of comfort it implies doesn’t have to give up the level of style and class you are accustomed to when dressing up.

For the most part, modern clothing can be divided into two general categories:

1.  Clothing that features natural fibers, such as wool, cotton, linen, and silk, and a classic cut.

2.  Clothing that features at least some if not mostly technical fibers, providing more stretch and movement (and other performance benefits), cut closer to the body.

Not choosing to play favorites in this category, Tom James provides a variety of options for either preference.  Speaking first about the second category, a new breed of dress and sport shirts that are taking their cue from modern athletic wear are receiving a big thumbs up.   One of the new brands that is leading the way is Mizzen+Main.

imageInspired by modern athletic gear and influenced by professional sensibilities – a blend of class and comfort – Mizzen+Main has set out to create the next great American brand and bring innovation to classic menswear.

imageCombining advanced performance fabrics imagewith a refined, traditional style, M+M is changing the way men approach this staple of their wardrobe with a shirt that is moisture-wicking, wrinkle-free, has four way stretch, and requires no ironing or dry cleaning.

In a very short time Mizzen+Main has developed a huge following of professional athletes (more than 100 from MLB) and other men who maintain an athletic build (or at least like to think that they do.)

Simply put, “You do the work to be fit. We work to make clothes that fit you.”

Tom James Company Gitman Bros Shirts Corbin Trousers

For those who prefer casual clothing and sportswear that is more classic and traditional, Gitman shirts and Corbin pants set the standard.  While not set in their ways, both brands are anchored in American heritage and classic style.

The fabrics used for the Gitman shirts are either cotton or linen.  Corbin casual pants are made from either enzyme washed cotton or linen blended with either wool or cotton, all of which provide natural, cool comfort on warm summer days.  If you have yet to try one, you owe it to yourself to get a linen shirt.  Linen, a fiber that comes from the flax plant, is an eco-friendly fiber, and one that only gets softer and more comfortable as you wear it.

Personally, I like to have some of both categories (traditional/natural and modern/technical) in my wardrobe.  There are times – depending on who I’m with and what I’m doing –  when I want a more traditional look and feel, and other times that I want a more modern, trim, and active look and feel.

Now is the time to get ready for your summer lifestyle – including more travel for fun and more time outdoors and off-duty.  Whatever your style, your Tom James professional can put you in casual clothing with class and comfort.

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.