Jacket and Jeans: Finding the right combination to dress up your jeans

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All of us have seen them. I notice them most often at the airport, walking down the street over the noon hour or happy hour, or certainly when out for dinner or a few drinks. Those men who on the one hand annoy me, and on the other, are like a soap opera that I just can’t turn away from. Like peacocks on display, they walk about with shoulders back and chest forward. It seems like their gate is a little bit slower than necessary, as they casually check their reflection in store front windows. I can’t tell if it’s a habit, or if they just don’t care that people like me notice. Likely both are true.

Distinct from “gentleman peacocks” are a much more impressive, and perhaps rare, breed of male style specimens. Those men are harder to notice, mostly because they seem so comfortable in their own skin and in their clothing. They don’t obtrusively stand out, as do their peacock counter parts, but don’t be fooled. The confidence and style they exude has roots deeper than any plumage one might display. It comes from wearing clothing that perfectly reflects who they are and what they do. They don’t let clothes wear them, rather they wear their clothing. Or as Stephen Marche wrote in Esquire, “the most potent style is the style that you don’t know is a style.”

A particularly sublime distinction shows up in the way these men wear one of the great modern looks – a jacket and jeans. One of the reasons I love this look is because it’s not one for the peacocks, because without the dress shirt and tie, cuff links, shiny leather shoes, and slicked hair, there’s less chance for the flourish they crave. Don’t get me wrong, I love some flourish now and again. Emphasis on “now and again.”

How to do this great modern look? Find a pair of great jeans, throw on a jacket that fits you – one that just feels so right, on top of a simple button down oxford, a simple leather belt and a great loafer or oxford. Ready to roll.

But what makes this look roll off some men so wonderfully, and on others, not so much?

Fit.

“What’s that?” you say. “Is that the entire answer? Certainly it has to be more than that, right?”

Nope. Not really.

Fit is it!

In 2014, jeans that fit means nothing too full in the leg, all the way from the top to the bottom. If you’ve tried pulling off your boot cuts from 2005 recently, you’ll know what I’m talking about. What then looked so stylish now looks so baggy, so….wrong.

Your jacket must also fit. Fabric and details matter too, but fit will make or break the look. Before I continue – “jacket” is really synonymous with sport coat. Why not use the “sport coat” designation then? I love that casual ring to “jacket.” And we’re talking with jeans, so it just works. I say it does anyway.

For a jacket to fit, nothing too full throughout the chest and waist, and yet nothing too tight either. Dare I say I’m a bit tired of the skinny, sausage casing suit and sport coats? Let the peacocks think they still look good in them. As to length, I will suggest the length of the jacket needs to have a modern feel to it – nothing much beyond the fullest part of the seat. Generally, this won’t be too far past the bottom of the jean’s rise. Where’s that? Where the pant inseams run into each other, right below the bottom of the zipper.

You’re a modern man, making your mark on the world. Jeans and a jacket is a look for you to master. Your time is now. People are looking to you, at you and up to you. Don’t waste time looking into reflective surfaces. Wear a pair of great jeans with a well-cut jacket, keep it simple with the shirt, shoe, and belt, and live your life!

Your Ultimate Super Hero: DAD

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As a child, I was impressed to no end by the caped crusader – Batman. I was especially enamored with gadgetry and powers of the Bat Cave and the Bat Mobile.

Superman held a similar and even more profound fascination, probably because of his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound and to run faster than a speeding bullet.    My boyhood attempts to fly down the stairs, with my favorite blanket as my cape, failed miserably and painfully, so the fact that he could fly as high and faster than a jet airplane put him over the top.  In addition to those two, many other fictional super heroes, from Spiderman to R2D2, have filled up comic books and entertainment screens, providing us with a fantastical type of inspiration and first-rate entertainment.

 

As I got older I became (and still am) even more impressed by the seemingly super human abilities – whether athletic/physical, intellectual, or artistic/creative – of certain real people.   Real people doing amazing things can also be highly entertaining, with the added bonus of inspiration that isn’t so fantastical, but more believable.

 

As much as we love to see people, real or not, doing amazing things, the people who are the closest to us, who love us without condition, or who have touched our lives in a personal way that saved us from harm or raised us up to a new level of thinking and doing are our true super heroes.  For me, certain teachers and coaches come to mind.  The client who has gone out of his way to help me build my business.  Of course, a variety of emergency service personnel, doctors and nurses, and those you serve in our armed forces (though not necessarily known in a personal way) are on that list as well.  Above all others (more often than not), the people who brought us into this world, our first and most important role models, our parents, are our truest heroes.  Once as a boy and now as a man, my Dad is my ultimate super hero.  You probably feel the same way.

 

Every year, on Father’s Day, we give particular focus to that man who made it all possible, who has provided so much for us that words alone cannot express our gratitude.   Sure it’s the thought that counts, but a little gift now and then adds to the impact of those thoughts.  If you’re not sure what give Dad this year, anything from this list of truly innovative items is sure to honor and delight your ultimate super hero:

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Super Hero cuff links.   What better gift for your super hero than cuff links that will remind him of a favorite super hero from his childhood?

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Power Stays.   Does your shirt collar ever slide under the lapel of your jacket or do the collar points sometimes look like they are ready for takeoff when you’re not wearing a tie?  What if every point and spread collar shirt could be easily turned into a hidden button down collar, giving you maximum control over how it looks and behaves?  That is exactly what you get with magnetic collar stays from wurkin stiffs.

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Leather Accessories.   Most men don’t replace or update their wallets and money clips as often as they should.  This is an ideal occasion to give the gift of leather accessories from Bryant Park, all made in the USA of superhero quality for the discriminating, style conscious man.

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Business and Travel Cases by TUMI.  Innovation, quality, and reliably solving real problems are all hallmarks of the TUMI brand.  On average, someone who gets one product from TUMI ends up owning at least seven TUMI products.  If he is not already a collector, this is a great time to get Dad started.

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Sunglass Cases by Holland & Sherry Bespoke.  Sunglasses are often damaged simply because they aren’t properly protected when not being worn.  H&S Bespoke cases offer elegant, stylish protection.

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 Ties and Pocket Squares.   Last but not least, while the idea of giving a tie on Father’s Day is not new, Dad could probably use a new tie or two that look current – the right width, color, and pattern to complement his current jackets and shirts.  A lot of men are now wearing a pocket square to complement their tie or as an accent piece in place of a tie.

Follow the Tom James 12 Essentials Gift Guide and you are sure to be a hero to your ultimate hero.

 

 

A Triple Crown for You and Me

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The first leg (The Kentucky Derby) of the Thoroughbred Racing Triumvirate was run on May 3rd.   California Chrome was favored and did not disappoint, winning the race handily. Now it’s on to The Preakness Stakes (run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland)  this Saturday, May 17 (California Chrome is again the favorite to win,) followed by The Belmont Stakes (run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York) on June 7 in the quest for the elusive Triple Crown – a series of three specific races for three year old Thoroughbred horses. You have to win all three in the same year to win the Triple Crown. Three horses (but of course) won the Triple Crown in the 1970’s (Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed.) None have won it since. Twelve horses have since then won the first two races, but none were able to win all three.

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In 2012 Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers won the batting Triple Crown of Major League Baseball (MLB). Prior to that no one had won it since Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox did it in 1967. The Triple Crown of baseball consists of leading a league (either the American or National) in three specific statistical categories: batting average, home runs, and runs batted in (RBI) over a full regular season. As you can readily see from those two examples – horse racing and playing baseball – achieving a Triple Crown is difficult and rare!

In the world of tailoring and fine cloth, a triple crown is equally rare though lesser known. Triple Crown is a crafty way to describe a new cloth creation by Holland & Sherry that is woven from yarns with a 3-ply twist. This is significant for at least two reasons:

1. Most fine worsted wool cloth is woven from yarns that are 2-ply or even single ply. Adding the third ply (meaning three threads are twisted together instead of just two) makes the yarns and resulting cloth stronger and adds dimensional stability.
2. The 3-ply twists offer a depth of color that would not otherwise be achievable, creating cloths that are visually interesting and supremely well balanced.  Many of the cloths have a look of texture but are completely smooth to the touch.

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Woven from Super 120’s wool, the Triple Crown collection is perfect for the individual who would welcome a fresh twist on a variety of classic looks for suits, blazers, and 245520245501trousers. The range of solid colors is truly unique and particularly well suited for separates or coordinates.

California Chrome is the only horse  that still has a shot at the thoroughbred racing Triple Crown this year.  But you and I can take advantage of a unique opportunity to wear a Triple Crown.  To see the full Triple Crown cloth collection from Holland & Sherry, contact your Tom James Clothier.

Your Summer Style Multipliers

S14-CBGN-02-45I was one of the models for The Tom James Company Spring and Summer 2014 fashion show. I don’t always model in fashion shows. The admiration I receive every day when wearing world-class custom tailored clothing from Tom James is usually sufficient. But in this case I had to say yes because my outfit was a pair of linen drawstring shorts and a linen shirt, and I really like to wear linen.

When I first tried them on in my office a few weeks before the show (sometime last December), everyone in the office instinctively said, “Wow, you look COMFORTABLE!”  No kidding!  That’s pretty much what you get from softened linen – the look and feel of extreme comfort.  Wearing that clothing slowed my pace, and made me feel more relaxed. I think it even lowered my blood pressure! I was immediately longing for warmer weather (It was December, remember), a deck chair, and a Corona with lime!

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Clothing has the power to set the tone, change the mood and alter how a person feels. In a matter of moments, the right clothing can elevate confidence, make one feel more powerful or more attractive, younger or more mature, energized or relaxed.  In the case of that linen outfit, it was all about comfort and casual chic.  I would wear that clothing at a tropical resort or to a backyard BBQ and be really comfortable, feeling great about how I look.

Dressing well for summer casual occasions doesn’t require a lot of clothing.  You just need a few of the right pieces that you can mix and match with confidence.  Perhaps as fundamental as any item for a classic casual wardrobe is the ubiquitous “polo” shirt.  The name is a bit of misnomer as it was originally designed by Rene Lacoste for championship tennis in 1926.   By the mid-30’s, the short sleeve shirt of pique cotton with a soft, flat collar was rapidly becoming the universal shirt choice for many sporting and leisure pursuits, including the games of polo, golf and, of course, tennis.  In each case, the shirt we now know as a polo shirt replaced a much stiffer, long sleeve, button front shirt, thus providing much greater comfort and ease of movement.  A basic polo shirt wardrobe should include solid colors of: white and navy, and at least one other color of choice.

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A selection of shorts and cotton (or linen) pants are also fundamental to a summer casual wardrobe, keeping in mind that most denim is too heavy for true summer weather.  The basic colors are khaki, stone, and navy, but one shouldn’t hesitate to consider other colors such as shades of red, orange and green.

Note:  In general, except perhaps on the golf course (and especially if your name is Ricky Fowler,) choose a neutral tone for either the top or bottom of your outfit.  (Neutral tones = black, gray, navy, tan, brown, white.)

As mentioned above, while polo shirts are perfect for the active pursuits, the more genteel activities of dining out, wine tasting, and socializing require clothing that is more tailored and elegant.  A collection of just a few well-chosen sport shirts, both long sleeve and short sleeve, will take you most anywhere.  Round it out with and a simple blazer of cotton or linen and you’re all set.  (Except for the proper footwear, which we will cover in an upcoming post.)

Now go enjoy your summer in style!