Tom’s “go to” outfit this spring.
- Button down by Gitman Vintage
- Tee by Jungmaven
- Denim by 3Sixteen
- Boots by Alden
- Glasses by Moscot
Casual and clean.
Every item on this kit will never go out of style, not that you should give a shit about being on trend.
Be comfortable and keep it simple.
What is your “go to” outfit this spring?
Ed note: It doesn’t hurt to accessorize with a submariner and a cordovan #2 strap from Ashland Leather.
When Black Tie is Optional (and You Don’t Own a Tuxedo)
A friend of mine asked me last week for some advice on what to wear to a “black tie optional” event. He didn’t own a tuxedo and wasn’t planning on buying or renting one (plus, the event was days away).
While I believe you should always wear an appropriate black tie outfit to “black tie optional” events, it’s bound to be impractical for most people who simply don’t have a tuxedo in their wardrobe. Ownership of such an ensemble isn’t for everyone and it’s not exactly cheap to put together for something most will rarely wear.
So, what should you consider wearing instead?
I suggested to my friend going with a solid, dark charcoal suit, a white spread collar shirt and a conservative dark necktie in either black, silver-grey or navy that had some satin-like shimmer to it for the evening.
Preferably, the shirt will have a French front, no pocket and French cuffs. Footwear would be a simple black calf balmoral, either captoe or wingtip, with dark socks. Of course, a TV-folded white linen pocket square to finish the look.
The idea isn’t to replicate the tuxedo, but it is trying to mimic the simple neutral tones of black and white. The nice thing about this outfit is that you’ll hopefully have all these elements in your closet already and you can even wear this outfit to non black-tie optional events and look really great.
(Image via The Suits of James Bond)
Is This an Orphaned Suit Jacket?
I recently received a couple of emails from readers asking if I thought something they were looking at on eBay was an orphaned suit jacket. An orphaned suit jacket is a jacket that used to belong to a suit, but for some reason – whether because they were worn through, badly damaged, or just plain lost – the matching trousers are no longer available. It’s not uncommon to come across these when you’re looking at second hand clothing, and you’ll want to avoid purchasing them. Wearing an orphaned jacket can make you look like you spilled something on your suit trousers and had to change out of them. It’s not a good look.
To be sure, there are no hard and fast rules, and some suit jackets can be worn as sport coats. Those made from cotton, linen, tweed, or corduroy are usually fine. There are also some wools that can be successfully used for both business suits and casual sport coats. However, for the purposes of this post, we’ll assume the simplistic view that suit jackets should generally never be worn alone, as most of the ones you’re likely to encounter through second hand clothing are of a certain type that shouldn’t be.
So how can you tell what’s what?
Generally speaking, the rougher, fluffier, more visible the weave, the more likely you’re looking at a sport coat. Conversely, the finer and flatter the weave, the more likely you’re looking at a suit jacket. This is especially true if it feels very smooth, silky, and lightweight, and you can see diagonal lines on the surface of the fabric (like you can with denim). If the fabric has a bit of shine to it when you bend and move it, it’s almost certainly something that was designated for a suit.
Certain patterns can also be clues. Pinstripes and chalkstripes always indicate something was meant to be worn as a suit. Birdseye, nailhead, pinhead, and very fine herringbone - the kind that you only notice is herringbone when you inspect it up close, but looks solid from a foot or two away - also tend to be reserved for suits, though there are exceptions. If it’s a chunky, rough weave such as tweed, something like a birdseye would be fine.
Similarly, pay attention to scale of patterns. Though suits can come in big, bold patterns, and sport coats in quiet and subtle ones, the more successful sport coats tend to have larger scale designs. It’s a way of announcing to the world: this isn’t something to be worn to a business meeting. Thus, if you’re in between whether or not a jacket can be worn by itself – if the pattern is very small or faint, you’re probably safer off passing.
Lastly, if a jacket has buttons made from metal or mother of pearl, or are covered in leather, you’re likely looking at a sport coat. Horn, on the other hand, can go either way, but one thing you can do is count the number of buttons on the sleeve cuff. If there are less than four, the chances of it being a sport coat go up.
In the end, however, you just have to use your own best judgment. Remember: the point is not to say whether something is definitively orphaned or not, the point is to not look like you’re accidentally wearing a suit jacket without the matching trousers. In the end, just keep that in mind and go with your gut.
(Photo via Capnwes)
I just find this stuff fascinating.
I’ve got a lot of mail piling up in my tumblr inbox, and for that I apologize. I generally try to respond to everyone that writes to me, even if it takes me awhile to do so. But I do have several messages in there now asking for thrifting advice, and though I’ve written on it before, and despite the fact that there is tons of information out there on strategies and tips (especially over on StyleForum and PutThisOn) for thrifting, the desire for ease in the internet age makes sifting though archives and old threads seem like a chore—even though much can be gained by the work. To that end, I thought I’d share some very basic thoughts in response to the queries in my inbox.
Some people seem to think I have a ‘gift’ or a special talent for thrifting. That certainly isn’t the case. What I have had (more so in the past, less so now that I’m quite busy at work and have less time to thrift, and also because my wardrobe is excessively large) is time that I dedicated to consistent thrifting, and some knowledge of the kind of garments I was looking for.
Time (and by extension, timing—a factor over which one has little control beyond learning the days new items are put out on the floor of your local thrifts) is the most important dimension of successful thrift shopping. Setting aside time to visit thrift shops with frequency is how you guarantee that you will find at least some of the good stuff that will inevitably make its way to the racks.
Knowing what you’re looking at and for is probably a close second in importance to the time you invest in the thrifting process in terms of determining the success of the outcome. Spending hours sifting through your tumblr dash looking at pictures of dude’s that have the #menswear seal of approval is not going to teach you much about thrifting. It might teach you something about how you might want to dress, but knowing how to turn that aesthetic sense into the material reality of a wardrobe that contains those items of clothing, or your local thrift stores’ best approximations of those items, requires research beyond reblogged photos.
To learn about spotting quality garments and thereby being able to eyeball the details that you know you want but don’t know how to describe (high buttoning stance, high gorge, peaked lapels, lapel roll, soft shoulder, goodyear welting, double leather soles, etc.) you’ll have to read words, and not just absorb images. The best place, in my opinion, for you to learn about these aspects of men’s clothing is on text-heavy forums like StyleForum, TheLondonLounge, the much shat-upon AskAndyAboutClothes, and in a more concentrated (and less abusive) form, over on PutThisOn. Your favorite menswear bloggers, whether they choose to admit it or not, have lurked and or participated on StyleForum (in my opinion, the biggest and best of the forums) and have learned much from the experience.
This part might not be the most fun, and you will have to wade through a lot of useless i-gent logorrhea (especially on the forums, not so much on PutThisOn which is generally very concise and snark-free), but you will come out on the other end a more knowledgeable person about men’s clothing, and that knowledge can be parlayed into successful thrift store shopping trips.
Follow these tips and gone will be the days when you buy a jacket you probably won’t ever wear just because it was $5 and had a pattern similar to one you’d seen on #menswear. It sits in your closet because it is—though of the correct pattern—unvented, double breasted but with an anachronistically low buttoning point and a 4/1 button configuration, and has shoulders that look like they could support a heavy house plant. You’ll know to leave those things behind, and patiently await another sport coat of similar pattern, but with softer shoulders, a 6/2 button configuration with a higher buttoning point, double vents, and fully canvassed construction (I’m clearly channeling my own desire here, but you get the point).
Finally, as the adage goes in real estate, so too does it go in thrifting, ‘location, location, location!’ Unfortunately, if you live in an area where the thrift stores are terrible your chances of success in shopping there are much diminished, though not absolutely without possibility. Just remember, productive thrifting is a practice anyone can hone (though where you live is a huge factor) with time and diligence, and if you know what to look for patience and perseverance will reap rewards.