Category Archives: What to Wear

Cashmere and the Comfort Zone

imageI like the comfort zone. It’s not what I value the most in life, but given the option, I prefer to be comfortable. The comfort zone, of course, is that range of temperature which is neither too hot nor too cold. For most people that range is somewhere between 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

OK, so when you first read those words – comfort zone – you may have been thinking about something other than your physical comfort and the weather. According to Peter McWilliams, the comfort zone is also “our arena of thoughts and actions within which we feel comfortable–all the things we’ve done (or thought) often enough to feel comfortable doing (or thinking) again. Anything we haven’t done (or thought) often enough to feel comfortable doing lies outside the parameters of the comfort zone. When we do (or think) these things (basically, anything new) we feel uncomfortable.” In this respect, we all know that getting out of our comfort zone is the only way to grow, improve, and achieve our dreams.

But getting back to that other comfort zone…..Short of being in the comfort zone I would rather be a little bit too warm rather than cold, which is good, because it is usually easier to get back into the comfort zone when it’s cold, rather than too warm, because you can simply add layers of clothing or clothing that is more thermal until you have reached that point of comfort. Wow, that sentence has a lot of layers. To summarize, adding layers has a higher limit than reducing layers of clothing….if you know what I mean.

As mentioned in a previous post to this blog, my favorite fiber or fabric to layer with is cashmere.  If you’ve worn much cashmere, you probably feel the same way.   Cashmere comes from the fleece of goats living in the high uplands of Central Asia, including China, Mongolia and other countries.  The luxurious fibers are gently gathered from the goats by carefully hand-combing their fleece.  Cashmere is one of the most valued and exquisite animal hairs because of its incredible softness.  Cashmere can be knit – as for sweaters and scarves, or it can be woven – as for tailored clothing, from luxury suits to sport jackets and outerwear.

While it comes with a luxury price tag, quality cashmere more than pays for itself because it is pure pleasure to wear and is actually very practical.  When properly cared for, quality cashmere will provide you with warmth, comfort, and elegance for many years and can be worn from early Fall through late Spring in most climates.


In addition to cashmere, wool flannel, a great tweed, Camel’s hair or Alpaca, and corduroy are also great choices to add a layer of stylish warmth.  A custom car coat made from wool flannel or a Fall/Winter sport jacketing cloth is sure to add to your personal style and be easy to wear over everything from a smart casual look to your favorite suit.

All that being said, if you have yet to try cashmere, may I suggest that you get out of that other comfort zone – do something different – and get into the zone of real comfort this Fall and Winter by wearing some clothing made with cashmere.

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!

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.



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!