Tag Archives: Tom James Company

The best fitting Sweater you will ever wear!

imageWhen I was a college student, a girlfriend of mine, who would later become my fiance, and then not (just think of all the handmade clothing I could be wearing…other than my Oxxford suits of course), knitted me a sweater. Not before or since then has someone made me a sweater. It was a substantial piece of clothing, made from heavy wool yarns with a zipper in the front (which made it a Cardigan.) Designed for genuinely cold weather – a sweater you might wear instead of a winter coat – it got limited use. My mother has the sweater now, which is appropriate since she and my former have remained lifelong friends.

The first “sweaters” were heavy, dark blue pullovers worn before and after athletic contests in the 1890’s in the USA.  Knitwear for the upper body had been around long before that, but not by that name.  Some form of a sweater- type garment can be traced back at least as far as the 15th Century around the English Channel islands of Guernsey and Jersey.  More recently, in the 19th century, the wives of Irish fisherman and sailors began to knit some of the early pullover, cable knit sweaters, aka Fisherman’s sweaters.  The heavy wool yarns they were knit from helped keep the fisherman warm, even when wet, thanks to the dual nature of wool fibers: a hydrophobic exterior (water repellant) and a hygroscopic interior (able to absorb about one third of its own weight in water.)  Later sweater innovations – the Cardigan and the Raglan – are credited to the functional desires of British admiralty.

My favorite sweater this winter has been a dark gray, button-up cardigan, with a mock neck and patch pockets. The sweater is wool, but it has a soft cotton lining so it’s comfortable over either long or short sleeved shirts. It’s my version of a Mr. Rogers sweater, my near constant companion when at home this winter. The fact that a cardigan doesn’t have to be put on and taken off over-my-head is a plus. Not to mention that Sinatra and Hogan both enjoyed the casual elegance of a cardigan from time to time when an extra layer was required.

imageI also enjoy the look and functional ease of a simple zip-mock sweater. A medium gray cashmere version has been my most versatile layer for several years running. I take it everywhere I go this time of year. Relatively fine and lightweight, it is easy to pack and provides just enough warmth when the weather is crisp, but not bitterly cold. The ability to wear it zipped down or up adds to its appeal and comfort.

imageThe V-neck sweaters in my closet also get a lot of play.  I have a purple high-V-neck that works well with several of my Fall/Winter sport jackets.  V-neck sweaters are designed to be worn with a collared shirt, whether that be the turn down collar of a cut-and-sewn dress or sport shirt, or the softer knit collar of a polo shirt. The high-V can be worn with a tie, but they work especially well as a layering piece over a dress or sport shirt and under your favorite sport coats.

Crew neck and Turtleneck (aka Roll neck) are the two other most common pullover styles.  Turtleneck wearing is on the upswing, whether in beefier knits like the ones Hemingway favored, or the finer versions that the Beatnicks, Beatles, and James Coburn as Derek Flint popularized.

A final style to mention is the polo collar sweater.  You would hard pressed to find a more comfortable piece of clothing for the upper body than either a long or short sleeved sweater, knit from either our 85/15 cashmere/silk blend or our 100% Pima cotton.  The polo collar lends itself well as a stand alone piece to be worn as a shirt.   Truth be told, a sweater or, more accurately, a knit shirt, made in any of our available styles with either the cashmere/silk blend or the Pima cotton are light and cool enough to wear all Spring and even Summer in most climates.  The breatheability and performance of both fabrics are sensational.

imageI have found that the sweaters I enjoy the most are those that fit great both in the body and the sleeve length. I’m a relatively standard size, but for a lot of people there is always some compromise with fit: Either the sleeves fit well, but the body of the sweater is too long or too short; or it fits the shoulders but has way too much or not enough room at the waist. For those who struggle with any sort of sweater fit issues, Tom James has an awesome solution for your dilemma: the Custom Sweater.

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The measurements for your custom shirts are the basis for your custom sweater, so the process is very easy. In addition, your preferred front and back body length are measured so that you get precisely the length you need and prefer for your torso.

Not unlike custom clothing and shirts, fit is not the only advantage to having a sweater custom made.  You also get to pick from four different fabrics: 100% cashmere, merino wool, cashmere/silk blend, or Pima cotton.  The cashmere knit is 12 gauge, and all of the others are 16  gauge – the perfect weight and structure for layering.  Ten great colors are offered in each fabric. Even better, you can choose from among seven style options for men and six style options for women.  As this part of our business continues to grow, more options will be made available.

For now though, what better way to add a few simple, elegant, and versatile layering pieces than to have them made to your preferences.  Sure, they cost more than off-the-shelf, but they are the kind of garments that will become like a best friend.  Hard to put a price on that.

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.



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.


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.


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!

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.

A Suit and some Sage Advice = Winning!

imageOn Saturday, March 28, in Detroit, Michigan, 137 high school age young men were encouraged and outfitted for success at the day long, and 10th annual, Project Pinstripe event.  Everybody won that day.  And the odds that the winning will continue were greatly increased for all who participated because of what they came away with.

imageEach young man was given a suit, tailored to fit, and a coordinating shirt and tie. “Project Pinstripe outfits young men who want to look good but don’t always have the means to do so with quality career clothing — gently used suits, dress shirts, and ties – donated by Tom James Co., clients, and other area professionals,” says Sue Voyles, spokeswoman for Project Pinstripe.   Professionals from the Southfield office of Tom James, including the local coordinator of Project Pinstripe, Rob Wachler, did all of the measuring and fitting.  “Looking good is only one part of it”, said Mr. Wachler. “We want to impact these young men and their confidence levels,”











Tom James clothiers were joined by members of the Detroit A.M. Rotary Club and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Gamma Lambda Chapter) as they volunteered their time to sort and display the clothing to create an atmosphere similar to a fine men’s store.  Once the clothing was selected for each young man they were professionally tailored and prepared for the new owner by Huntington Cleaners.

imageIn addition to the clothing, the day included mentoring and coaching for interviewing and networking, and a catered lunch.  More sage coaching and advice on ways to make a positive first impression was offered by the annual emcee, and local Tom James haberdasher, Damon W. Perry.


My favorite comment from the day (As quoted in the Detroit Free Press), DaRon Burgess, 18, of Harper Woods and a senior at Cousino High School in Warren, said, “I learned it’s not all about grades on paper,” he said. “It’s about how you present yourself to other people.” 

As recounted by Karen Dybis, writing for Corp Magazine, “We try to do it every year in the spring, so the kids get their clothing before graduations. We’ve added new elements every year to keep it fresh and relevant,” said Mr. Wachler. (r.wachler@tomjames.com).

Oh, and if you need some tips on how to shine your shoes, just ask Damon!