Pushing the Limits to create a Signature Style

A look into the Life and Closet of Tom James Client: Phil Graham

The clothing that Phil Graham selects is an integral and highly visible part of his personal brand. With the assistance of his Tom James clothier, Duncan Ham, Mr. Graham has been able to develop a signature style and a wardrobe that is distinct and particularly suited to his profession, personality, and aspirations.

Who in this picture is getting your attention?

Having worked at a Ralph Lauren Polo store in college, Mr. Graham’s interest in clothing and style got an early education. He recalled to us that his first suit was a navy double breasted number by Polo. Since that classic beginning, his wardrobe has taken a series of turns that have refined his personal expression. A client for the past twelve years, the first suit Phil purchased from Tom James was a custom Executive Collection blue windowpane with a three-button jacket and pleated pants with cuffs and a full break.

A marketer at heart, and not one to follow the crowd, Phil says, “I like things that are in style but usually past the limits of what most people are comfortable wearing. I buy what I like and don’t care what others might think, however I want it to be the current cut and fit.” I take the ‘I don’t care what others might think’ thought to mean that Phil will not allow traditional norms to confine the colors and patterns he chooses to wear. Why get lost in a crowd? You can’t blend in if you want to stand out.

Taking that perspective as good advice, why not dress in a way that makes you feel at your best and supremely confident? Mr. Ham advises that “dressing the mind is sometimes more important than dressing the body. In other words, people should dress for their own confidence. What are you telling your subconscious when you look in the mirror every morning? Professionals like Phil affirm to themselves through getting dressed each day that they are successful.”

Mr. Graham told us that he wished he had learned sooner to avoid dressing in a way that might cause another person to mistake him for someone other than who he is: a successful, professional marketer of financial services and insurance. As he put it, “Do you dress for your profession or do you look like a PGA golfer? Of course, if you are on the PGA, then golf shirts are acceptable.”

One of the most valuable benefits of working with Tom James and Duncan Ham, says Phil, is that “Duncan knows what I like and speeds up the process. I don’t have to shop all over the place to find unique items. Most importantly he knows the fit and style I want and makes everything that way. Lastly he helps me manage my wardrobe and eliminates older items that I don’t wear anymore (of course making space for new stuff.)

With ESPN basketball analyst, Jay Bilas (left), Phil is the one with the Ferragamo shoes that perfectly coordinate with his tie and pocket square.

Phil’s favorite piece of wardrobe advice?

“Spend money on nice shoes. Nothing looks worse than a nice suit and a cheap pair of shoes.”

Looking for a new limit to push (sartorially),


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