An Affordable Summer Coat
People ask us all the time how to dress well in warm weather. Our usual answer is to wear linen and summer wool, and to wear coats with minimal linings to take advantage of those fabrics built-in breeziness.
The problem with that plan is that makers tend to fully line even summer coats, simply because it’s cheaper to cover up unfinished interior seams than it is to finish them. Certainly many brands - particularly the Italians - will sell you real summer clothes, but they can be very expensive. If you can find an unlined blazer, it’s often cotton, which is an improvement over wool, but less than ideal.
Enter Suit Supply. This year, they’re offering a style called “Havana,” which features summer-weight wool and very little lining. The coats are priced at $399, which makes them a really excellent value, given Suit Supply’s solid quality. The blazer above would be particularly useful. Full suits are $599 - so if you’re going to some summer weddings, they’ve got you covered.

An Affordable Summer Coat

People ask us all the time how to dress well in warm weather. Our usual answer is to wear linen and summer wool, and to wear coats with minimal linings to take advantage of those fabrics built-in breeziness.

The problem with that plan is that makers tend to fully line even summer coats, simply because it’s cheaper to cover up unfinished interior seams than it is to finish them. Certainly many brands - particularly the Italians - will sell you real summer clothes, but they can be very expensive. If you can find an unlined blazer, it’s often cotton, which is an improvement over wool, but less than ideal.

Enter Suit Supply. This year, they’re offering a style called “Havana,” which features summer-weight wool and very little lining. The coats are priced at $399, which makes them a really excellent value, given Suit Supply’s solid quality. The blazer above would be particularly useful. Full suits are $599 - so if you’re going to some summer weddings, they’ve got you covered.

Do I Really Have Ten Blue Blazers?
This morning, I’m spending a bit of time switching cold weather clothes for warm weather clothes. It’s a time of reckoning. And I reckon I’ve got a lot of blue blazers.
To my credit, I’ve only purchased one of them new, and most came from thrift shops. And what they say about blazers, that they’re the most versatile garment you can own, is true. But still… ten?
Here’s the rundown:
Classic Brooks Brothers. This is the blazer you think of when you think of a blazer. Brass buttons, the whole nine. Bought it at the thrift shop, and I rarely wear it… I’m not a brass button guy.
Classic Brooks Brothers (White Buttons). Another thrift store find - but I replaced the brass buttons with mother-of-pearl.
Kiton Double-Breasted. This one’s all cashmere. I bought it at a thrift store, and I think it may at one time have been the jacket of a suit. Since it’s so soft and unconstructed, and Italianate in style, it works great as a blazer. Replaced the buttons with light horn ones.
Chester Barrie Double-Breasted. I bought this one for $75 or something on eBay a week before I found the Kiton at the thrift. Put smoke mother-of-pearl buttons on it. It’s a little lighter than the Kiton, so it gets more warm-weather wear.
Polo Corduroy. This one gets out a lot when it’s cooler - and it was $30 or so on eBay.
Brooks Brothers Unconstructed Flannel. This one I found at a thrift store in Orange County. It fit perfectly off the rack, and one of the best-dressed guys I know, Elvis Mitchell, once told me it was gorgeous. Has brown horn buttons. Great for knocking around in cool weather.
Cantarelli Summer-Weight . This one’s very blogger approved - patch pockets all around, partial lining, open-weave wool. Got it from eBay for $50 or so. Couldn’t resist.
Custom Fresco Blazer. This was my first ever bespoke garment, from High Society Tailor in Los Angeles. It’s something prohibitively expensive off the rack that, living in LA, I wear all the time.
Vintage Flecked Blazer. This one’s from the late 50s, maybe the early 60s. I bought it at a thrift many years ago, and it’s a great going-out coat. Add a knit tie, a button-down shirt and grey flannels and you look like the big man on campus.
Freeman’s Sporting Club Shacket. Is this a blazer? Or a shirt? Or a shirt-jacket? It’s solid navy, so I’m calling it a blazer. A perfect thing to throw in the bag for a casual trip. Warm, fits a sweater underneath, looks great with jeans and chinos. Another $50-ish eBay purchase.
So what does it all mean? Am I a crazy person? Or do I just have the right tool for every job? Maybe the latter. Maybe the former.
(Edit: just took out my summer clothes. Blue Polo linen. That’s eleven.)

Do I Really Have Ten Blue Blazers?

This morning, I’m spending a bit of time switching cold weather clothes for warm weather clothes. It’s a time of reckoning. And I reckon I’ve got a lot of blue blazers.

To my credit, I’ve only purchased one of them new, and most came from thrift shops. And what they say about blazers, that they’re the most versatile garment you can own, is true. But still… ten?

Here’s the rundown:

  1. Classic Brooks Brothers. This is the blazer you think of when you think of a blazer. Brass buttons, the whole nine. Bought it at the thrift shop, and I rarely wear it… I’m not a brass button guy.
  2. Classic Brooks Brothers (White Buttons). Another thrift store find - but I replaced the brass buttons with mother-of-pearl.
  3. Kiton Double-Breasted. This one’s all cashmere. I bought it at a thrift store, and I think it may at one time have been the jacket of a suit. Since it’s so soft and unconstructed, and Italianate in style, it works great as a blazer. Replaced the buttons with light horn ones.
  4. Chester Barrie Double-Breasted. I bought this one for $75 or something on eBay a week before I found the Kiton at the thrift. Put smoke mother-of-pearl buttons on it. It’s a little lighter than the Kiton, so it gets more warm-weather wear.
  5. Polo Corduroy. This one gets out a lot when it’s cooler - and it was $30 or so on eBay.
  6. Brooks Brothers Unconstructed Flannel. This one I found at a thrift store in Orange County. It fit perfectly off the rack, and one of the best-dressed guys I know, Elvis Mitchell, once told me it was gorgeous. Has brown horn buttons. Great for knocking around in cool weather.
  7. Cantarelli Summer-Weight . This one’s very blogger approved - patch pockets all around, partial lining, open-weave wool. Got it from eBay for $50 or so. Couldn’t resist.
  8. Custom Fresco Blazer. This was my first ever bespoke garment, from High Society Tailor in Los Angeles. It’s something prohibitively expensive off the rack that, living in LA, I wear all the time.
  9. Vintage Flecked Blazer. This one’s from the late 50s, maybe the early 60s. I bought it at a thrift many years ago, and it’s a great going-out coat. Add a knit tie, a button-down shirt and grey flannels and you look like the big man on campus.
  10. Freeman’s Sporting Club Shacket. Is this a blazer? Or a shirt? Or a shirt-jacket? It’s solid navy, so I’m calling it a blazer. A perfect thing to throw in the bag for a casual trip. Warm, fits a sweater underneath, looks great with jeans and chinos. Another $50-ish eBay purchase.

So what does it all mean? Am I a crazy person? Or do I just have the right tool for every job? Maybe the latter. Maybe the former.

(Edit: just took out my summer clothes. Blue Polo linen. That’s eleven.)

jessethorn:

No big deal. Just me and Nardwuar the Human Serviette.

It’s rare that one meets a genuine style icon. Like Nardwuar.

jessethorn:

No big deal. Just me and Nardwuar the Human Serviette.

It’s rare that one meets a genuine style icon. Like Nardwuar.

abitofcolor:

Blazer Buttons - Classics found at Cable Car Clothiers San Francisco. 

There are a million choices when it comes to blazer buttons - try searching for blazer button sets on eBay, visiting a great fabric and notions store, stopping into a trad store like Cable Car Clothiers, or looking online somewhere like Hwa Seng. The actual replacement of the buttons won’t cost you more than ten or fifteen dollars, and the possibilities are endless.

abitofcolor:

Blazer Buttons - Classics found at Cable Car Clothiers San Francisco. 

There are a million choices when it comes to blazer buttons - try searching for blazer button sets on eBay, visiting a great fabric and notions store, stopping into a trad store like Cable Car Clothiers, or looking online somewhere like Hwa Seng. The actual replacement of the buttons won’t cost you more than ten or fifteen dollars, and the possibilities are endless.

Proper Garment Care
Buying high quality garments, with the assumption that they’re built to last, only means something if you know how to take proper care of your clothes. Stuffing them into overcrowded closets or sending them off to bad dry cleaners will shorten their life considerably. Fortunately, taking care of your clothes doesn’t require much work. You can accomplish it with just a few minutes a day.
For suits and sport coats, dry cleaning twice a year should be sufficient for anything that’s only worn once or twice a week. Sending it in more often than that will shorten the life and ruin the look of a jacket. That’s because most dry cleaners use harsh chemicals and give hard pressings. You can, of course, use a high-quality cleaner that doesn’t employ such methods, but those will cost you more money.
For every day care, brush the dirt out with a soft bristled garment brush. This will prevent them from getting deep into the fabric, where friction can damage the fibers. It’ll also knock out any food bits that may attract moths. You can buy garment brushes from Kent, though sometimes slightly imperfect ones can be had for a bit cheaper on eBay. For something truly nice, Linkson Jack has some brushes backed with oxhorn.
To begin brushing, wipe down any large, unfinished wooden table, and lay your garment down on the surface. A polished table may be too slippery, so if you only have one of those, put your garment on a blanket or strip of felt so it won’t slide about. If this doesn’t work, you can also brush your garment while it’s on a hanger (though I find it’s harder to really bring some pressure to bear on the brush this way). While brushing, use short flicks of the wrist and always brush in the same direction. Never, ever scrub. You can first brush against the nap to remove any dirt, and then down the nap for a smooth finish. Some people even recommend dampening the brush with some water first for a bit of a freshening up, though I’ve never found the need to do this.
For wrinkles, you can let your jackets hang for a day or two. Heavy wools and linens should naturally relax over time. If you still need to sharpen them up, try using a garment steamer, but be careful to stay away from the seams and don’t go too wild with the device. Otherwise, you can ruin the stitching and take out the shape. Afterwards, hang your jacket on a hanger with flared shoulders. The Hanger Project makes the nicest ones I know of. The width and curvature of their shoulders most closely imitate a man’s natural shoulders, which is what you want. If you can’t afford them, however, Wooden Hanger USA sells some very nice options starting at $7.
If your jackets are finely constructed, you may also want to send them in for a hand press once a year or so. This will help restore their shape, which is often what gives a suit its flattering silhouette. Note, a hand press is different from a machine press. Most places will offer the second, even if they advertise it as the first. Machine presses take shape out; hand presses put shape in. If you can’t find someone in your area who can give you this service, you can send your jackets to Rave Fabricare.
For trousers, I recommend a similar treatment. Wools and linens go to the dry cleaner, though perhaps a bit more frequently than jackets since they tend to get dirty quicker. Still, we’re only talking about three or four times a year. You can brush out most of the dirt each day with a garment brush. Casual cotton chinos can be machine washed, though I also send my nicer, dressier cotton trousers to the dry cleaner. That includes dress chinos, moleskins, and corduroys. 
For sweaters, some cotton sweatshirts can be machine washed, but most sweaters will be better served by an at-home hand wash. This is a rather simple process, and Jesse covered the how-to two years ago in this post.
For shirts, pre-treat any stained collars and cuffs with Octagon Bar Soap. Soak your shirt in some water, rub the soap in, and scrub with a fingernail brush. Repeat until you see the dirt rings start fading. Then roll up your wet, soapy shirt and leave it overnight in a plastic bag so that it remains moist. The next day, just launder as usual. Alex Kabbaz, one of America’s best custom shirt makers, recommends Tide’s Unscented Original. I use Ecover, and mix in some Oxiclean if my shirts are extra dirty (as per Jesse’s recommendation). To protect the mother of pearl buttons, I sometimes button my shirts and turn them inside out.
For machine washes, you should always try to use the cold water, gentle cycle, but if you really need to treat stains, hot water for whites and warm water for light colors is often acceptable. Dark colors, however, should always be washed with cold water. After the wash, I strongly recommend hang drying. Machine dryers can take the humidity out of your fabrics, leaving them dull and brittle, which will eventually give them a premature worn-out appearance.
As always, make sure you always consult your garment’s care label for more instructions. They’ll usually at least tell you the bare minimum you have to adhere to.
(Photo from The Trad) 

Proper Garment Care

Buying high quality garments, with the assumption that they’re built to last, only means something if you know how to take proper care of your clothes. Stuffing them into overcrowded closets or sending them off to bad dry cleaners will shorten their life considerably. Fortunately, taking care of your clothes doesn’t require much work. You can accomplish it with just a few minutes a day.

For suits and sport coats, dry cleaning twice a year should be sufficient for anything that’s only worn once or twice a week. Sending it in more often than that will shorten the life and ruin the look of a jacket. That’s because most dry cleaners use harsh chemicals and give hard pressings. You can, of course, use a high-quality cleaner that doesn’t employ such methods, but those will cost you more money.

For every day care, brush the dirt out with a soft bristled garment brush. This will prevent them from getting deep into the fabric, where friction can damage the fibers. It’ll also knock out any food bits that may attract moths. You can buy garment brushes from Kent, though sometimes slightly imperfect ones can be had for a bit cheaper on eBay. For something truly nice, Linkson Jack has some brushes backed with oxhorn.

To begin brushing, wipe down any large, unfinished wooden table, and lay your garment down on the surface. A polished table may be too slippery, so if you only have one of those, put your garment on a blanket or strip of felt so it won’t slide about. If this doesn’t work, you can also brush your garment while it’s on a hanger (though I find it’s harder to really bring some pressure to bear on the brush this way). While brushing, use short flicks of the wrist and always brush in the same direction. Never, ever scrub. You can first brush against the nap to remove any dirt, and then down the nap for a smooth finish. Some people even recommend dampening the brush with some water first for a bit of a freshening up, though I’ve never found the need to do this.

For wrinkles, you can let your jackets hang for a day or two. Heavy wools and linens should naturally relax over time. If you still need to sharpen them up, try using a garment steamer, but be careful to stay away from the seams and don’t go too wild with the device. Otherwise, you can ruin the stitching and take out the shape. Afterwards, hang your jacket on a hanger with flared shoulders. The Hanger Project makes the nicest ones I know of. The width and curvature of their shoulders most closely imitate a man’s natural shoulders, which is what you want. If you can’t afford them, however, Wooden Hanger USA sells some very nice options starting at $7.

If your jackets are finely constructed, you may also want to send them in for a hand press once a year or so. This will help restore their shape, which is often what gives a suit its flattering silhouette. Note, a hand press is different from a machine press. Most places will offer the second, even if they advertise it as the first. Machine presses take shape out; hand presses put shape in. If you can’t find someone in your area who can give you this service, you can send your jackets to Rave Fabricare.

For trousers, I recommend a similar treatment. Wools and linens go to the dry cleaner, though perhaps a bit more frequently than jackets since they tend to get dirty quicker. Still, we’re only talking about three or four times a year. You can brush out most of the dirt each day with a garment brush. Casual cotton chinos can be machine washed, though I also send my nicer, dressier cotton trousers to the dry cleaner. That includes dress chinos, moleskins, and corduroys. 

For sweaters, some cotton sweatshirts can be machine washed, but most sweaters will be better served by an at-home hand wash. This is a rather simple process, and Jesse covered the how-to two years ago in this post.

For shirts, pre-treat any stained collars and cuffs with Octagon Bar Soap. Soak your shirt in some water, rub the soap in, and scrub with a fingernail brush. Repeat until you see the dirt rings start fading. Then roll up your wet, soapy shirt and leave it overnight in a plastic bag so that it remains moist. The next day, just launder as usual. Alex Kabbaz, one of America’s best custom shirt makers, recommends Tide’s Unscented Original. I use Ecover, and mix in some Oxiclean if my shirts are extra dirty (as per Jesse’s recommendation). To protect the mother of pearl buttons, I sometimes button my shirts and turn them inside out.

For machine washes, you should always try to use the cold water, gentle cycle, but if you really need to treat stains, hot water for whites and warm water for light colors is often acceptable. Dark colors, however, should always be washed with cold water. After the wash, I strongly recommend hang drying. Machine dryers can take the humidity out of your fabrics, leaving them dull and brittle, which will eventually give them a premature worn-out appearance.

As always, make sure you always consult your garment’s care label for more instructions. They’ll usually at least tell you the bare minimum you have to adhere to.

(Photo from The Trad

Q and Answer: Elbow Patches
Shane asks:  I would love to hear some discussion on blazers / sports coats and the use of elbow patches.  Yes or no?
Several folks have written me about elbow patches lately, so I thought I’d offer an answer.
Traditionally, elbow patches patched the elbows of coats. After all, the elbow, being both a flex point and a point likely to be abraded, is the part of a coat that wears out quickest. Elbow getting thin? Want to keep the coat? Patch it. There’s no doubt that patching a worn elbow is kosher. My favorite cashmere sweater has patched elbows, and I’ve got an old herringbone tweed coat that’s going to need some soon.
Add elbow patches to an old coat, and it instantly becomes more casual. Indeed, it’s a maneuver that only works on coats that are inherently casual to begin with - you see patches on tweed, corduroy and the occasional flannel blazer, but you’d never seen them on a pinstriped business suit. The patched elbow is suitable for the man who lives in a casual sportcoat but values thrift. Hence the professorial associations.
In the last few years, patched elbows have been seen on ready-to-wear more frequently. Brands like Brunello Cucinelli have added patches to blazers and sportcoats with great abandon. It’s part of the re-casualization of tailored clothing, a specialty of the Italians of late. At its best, it can be a nice color and textural contrast to the primary fabric. Some folks have gone a bit crazy with the idea.
Adding patches to an existing coat is an inexpensive alteration, but be careful not to go too wild, or it can look affected.
(photo by Garry Knight)

Q and Answer: Elbow Patches

Shane asks:  I would love to hear some discussion on blazers / sports coats and the use of elbow patches.  Yes or no?

Several folks have written me about elbow patches lately, so I thought I’d offer an answer.

Traditionally, elbow patches patched the elbows of coats. After all, the elbow, being both a flex point and a point likely to be abraded, is the part of a coat that wears out quickest. Elbow getting thin? Want to keep the coat? Patch it. There’s no doubt that patching a worn elbow is kosher. My favorite cashmere sweater has patched elbows, and I’ve got an old herringbone tweed coat that’s going to need some soon.

Add elbow patches to an old coat, and it instantly becomes more casual. Indeed, it’s a maneuver that only works on coats that are inherently casual to begin with - you see patches on tweed, corduroy and the occasional flannel blazer, but you’d never seen them on a pinstriped business suit. The patched elbow is suitable for the man who lives in a casual sportcoat but values thrift. Hence the professorial associations.

In the last few years, patched elbows have been seen on ready-to-wear more frequently. Brands like Brunello Cucinelli have added patches to blazers and sportcoats with great abandon. It’s part of the re-casualization of tailored clothing, a specialty of the Italians of late. At its best, it can be a nice color and textural contrast to the primary fabric. Some folks have gone a bit crazy with the idea.

Adding patches to an existing coat is an inexpensive alteration, but be careful not to go too wild, or it can look affected.

(photo by Garry Knight)

Q and Answer: What Can I Wear With A Black Blazer?
Sam writes: So I recently made a cardinal sin and bought an item, rather than an outfit. I saw on eBay a beautiful Ralph Lauren Purple Label Black Cashmere double breasted jacket, for a steal, which I grabbed. (It was from your eBay round up from last week.)
It was my first eBay purchase and after trying it on, it fits me perfectly. But - I have no idea what kind of clothes to match it with. Can you give me any suggestions?
You’re in a tough spot. Black is a deceptively difficult color to match. One’s inclination is to believe that it matches anything, but the truth is that in practical menswear terms, it matches very little. As you can see on the gentleman above, it tends to wash out the faces of most men whose coloration isn’t very high contrast (meaning very dark hair and very fair skin), and it tends to look less than classy under natural light. It’s a nice color for the evening, but in blazer form, it’s still tough to fit into the wardrobe.
Before I get into specific advice, though, I’d urge you to reconsider the idea that you should buy outfits rather than pieces. Instead, focus on building a library of versatile basics. If you have gray flannel trousers, a blue blazer, black and brown shoes, solid white and blue shirts, simple navy ties and so on, you’ll be able to incorporate more unusual pieces into your wardrobe easily. If you don’t, you’ll be forced to have a much larger (and more expensive) wardrobe, as the pieces won’t play well with each other.
In the case of this particular jacket, I’d start by changing the buttons to something a little more contrasting. Smoky gray mother-of-pearl would be perfect if you don’t like the metal-buttons look. If you don’t live somewhere with a great sewing and fabric store, you can try ordering them online from a source like Hwa Seng Textiles, which I’ve used in the past. You can also get super crafty and cut them off of a thrifted or eBayed high-end coat that’s selling for cheap because of damage. The blazer buttons’ contrast will clarify that this is an odd jacket and not half of a suit.
Then, you’ve really got two choices for pants: gray dress trousers or dark denim. For this particular piece, I think dark denim might be an odd fit, since the styling is so formal, but if you can pull off that part, you’ll be OK. With jeans, a white shirt and black Chelsea boots, you’d be suited for a casual-ish evening out.
Gray pants, and particularly gray flannels, will probably suit this coat best, though. Again, because the coat’s black, you’ll probably be wearing it mostly at night, and a pairing with gray flannels and simple black dress shoes will get you through a nice dinner out or an evening at the theater - the sorts of things that call for an outfit that’s considered and has some elements of formality but isn’t strictly formal.

Q and Answer: What Can I Wear With A Black Blazer?

Sam writes: So I recently made a cardinal sin and bought an item, rather than an outfit. I saw on eBay a beautiful Ralph Lauren Purple Label Black Cashmere double breasted jacket, for a steal, which I grabbed. (It was from your eBay round up from last week.)

It was my first eBay purchase and after trying it on, it fits me perfectly. But - I have no idea what kind of clothes to match it with. Can you give me any suggestions?

You’re in a tough spot. Black is a deceptively difficult color to match. One’s inclination is to believe that it matches anything, but the truth is that in practical menswear terms, it matches very little. As you can see on the gentleman above, it tends to wash out the faces of most men whose coloration isn’t very high contrast (meaning very dark hair and very fair skin), and it tends to look less than classy under natural light. It’s a nice color for the evening, but in blazer form, it’s still tough to fit into the wardrobe.

Before I get into specific advice, though, I’d urge you to reconsider the idea that you should buy outfits rather than pieces. Instead, focus on building a library of versatile basics. If you have gray flannel trousers, a blue blazer, black and brown shoes, solid white and blue shirts, simple navy ties and so on, you’ll be able to incorporate more unusual pieces into your wardrobe easily. If you don’t, you’ll be forced to have a much larger (and more expensive) wardrobe, as the pieces won’t play well with each other.

In the case of this particular jacket, I’d start by changing the buttons to something a little more contrasting. Smoky gray mother-of-pearl would be perfect if you don’t like the metal-buttons look. If you don’t live somewhere with a great sewing and fabric store, you can try ordering them online from a source like Hwa Seng Textiles, which I’ve used in the past. You can also get super crafty and cut them off of a thrifted or eBayed high-end coat that’s selling for cheap because of damage. The blazer buttons’ contrast will clarify that this is an odd jacket and not half of a suit.

Then, you’ve really got two choices for pants: gray dress trousers or dark denim. For this particular piece, I think dark denim might be an odd fit, since the styling is so formal, but if you can pull off that part, you’ll be OK. With jeans, a white shirt and black Chelsea boots, you’d be suited for a casual-ish evening out.

Gray pants, and particularly gray flannels, will probably suit this coat best, though. Again, because the coat’s black, you’ll probably be wearing it mostly at night, and a pairing with gray flannels and simple black dress shoes will get you through a nice dinner out or an evening at the theater - the sorts of things that call for an outfit that’s considered and has some elements of formality but isn’t strictly formal.

How a Suit Jacket or Sport Coat Should Fit

A couple of weeks ago, I said that there are different schools of thought on how a jacket should fit, but trousers should only fit one way. Upon reflection, I now realize that was a bit misleading. There’s a difference between style and fit. Generally speaking, style is about silhouette, whereas fit is about whether something sit on you correctly. Simon Crompton has a good article about this difference. 

There are different silhouettes for jackets, but the rules we have for how they should fit are similar to those we have for trousers. There shouldn’t be any pulls or puckers along the front or back, the sleeves should be free of any ripples when the arms are naturally hanging down, and the jacket should have clean lines all around. These principles should be true regardless of the jacket’s style (e.g. clean, draped, padded, natural, skinny, full). 

Unlike trousers, however, suit jackets and sport coats are much harder to fit well. Their construction is more complicated, so there are more things that can go wrong. Above is a set of photographs I’ve stolen from Macaroni Tomato and slightly modified. Each photo illustrates a common defect. Click on each of the photographs, and you’ll see that they’re lettered.

  • Fig. A. Sleevehead and Collar: The most difficult areas to fit well are perhaps the shoulders and collar. A properly fitting jacket shouldn’t have any indentations in the sleeveheads and it should stay glued to your neck at all times. 
  • Fig. B. Strained Buttoning Point: Here tightness at the buttoning point can result in a jacket pulling around the waist, effectively forming an “X.” To be sure, this is sometimes purposefully done in the name of fashion, but more often than not, it’s a sign that a jacket is too tight. (Note that the jacket pictured here doesn’t have problems in this area). 
  • Fig C. Messy Back: Likewise, the back can have unsightly folds or pulling along the waist, around the shoulder blades, and underneath the collar. A well fitting jacket should have none of these issues, but rather fit cleanly.
  • Fig. D. Sleeve Pitch: If the sleeve isn’t attached to the jacket at a degree that harmonizes with the wearer’s natural stance, you may see furrows along the sleeve. You can see an example of this here
  • Fig. E. Flared Vents: A properly fitting jacket should always have closed vents, like the ones in this picture. Make sure yours don’t flare out or gape. 
  • Fig. F. Balance: The term “balance” can refer to a few things on a jacket, but in this case, we’re talking about the relationship between the front and back of the jacket, as well as left and right sides. There are two schools of thought on how the front and back should balance. Most tailors believe that the front should be slightly longer than the back, but a few think they should evenly align. Here, the jacket’s front is even with the back. Another aspect of balance concerns the left and right sides. Here there is less controversy; these two parts should always be dead even with each other along the hem. If you wish to read more about this issue, check out this article by Michael Anton.

Like we saw for trousers, there can be a number of causes for these defects. Depending on the cause and how your jacket is constructed, an alterationist tailor may or may not be able to fix the problems for you (at least within a reasonable cost). The easiest to fix are Figures B and C. Indeed, those are rather common to clean up, so unless you see severe problems in those areas, you needn’t worry about them. The rest you should probably make sure fits right off the peg. 

To read more about fit, you can check out my posts on trousers and silhouettes, as well as Jesse’s posts on jackets, collar gaps, an unfortunate Pitti Uomo attendee, and Conan O’Brien. This simple guide by Esquire and Ethan Desu’s comments are also worth reviewing. 

This is one of the prime thrifting seasons, as the folks who need tax write-offs have just dropped off their year-end contributions. I’ve been working furiously on the launch of my new public radio show Bullseye (you should subscribe now free in iTunes, by the way) the past couple of weeks, and I needed a break, so I headed out for a little thrifting yesterday to a few favorite spots.
I came home with a lovely tie by Gianni Campagna in heavy navy silk. I also grabbed the above: a double breasted blazer by Arnys of Paris. Arnys is a slightly eccentric haberdasher known for its unique Forestier jackets and beautiful printed ties. The buttons on this piece have their unique and jaunty logo.
Arnys clothes aren’t sold in the United States, so half the fun of buying the coat is imagining how it made it all the way to Los Angeles. It’s far too small for me, I should also note. I bought it because I couldn’t bear to leave it on the rack, paying a pretty penny for it. Sometimes, though, you have to follow your heart.

This is one of the prime thrifting seasons, as the folks who need tax write-offs have just dropped off their year-end contributions. I’ve been working furiously on the launch of my new public radio show Bullseye (you should subscribe now free in iTunes, by the way) the past couple of weeks, and I needed a break, so I headed out for a little thrifting yesterday to a few favorite spots.

I came home with a lovely tie by Gianni Campagna in heavy navy silk. I also grabbed the above: a double breasted blazer by Arnys of Paris. Arnys is a slightly eccentric haberdasher known for its unique Forestier jackets and beautiful printed ties. The buttons on this piece have their unique and jaunty logo.

Arnys clothes aren’t sold in the United States, so half the fun of buying the coat is imagining how it made it all the way to Los Angeles. It’s far too small for me, I should also note. I bought it because I couldn’t bear to leave it on the rack, paying a pretty penny for it. Sometimes, though, you have to follow your heart.

Keep Good Ratios
Beware of getting side tracked by too many small purchases. They can be like Sirens. Ties are perhaps the best example. It’s fairly easy to come across a good deal on a tie, and many can feel hard to pass up. Twenty-five dollars here, forty dollars there, and before you know it, you have a massive collection of ties, most of which you probably never even wear. 
It’s easy to end up with too many ties, but how many should you own? Sydney D. Barney, author of Clothes and the Man, recommended that a company president have at least forty-eight, an established professional at least twenty-four, and a young bachelor at least thirty-six. This was written in 1951. The estimation for a young bachelor might be a bit high for today’s time, but I think the rule of thumb still roughly applies for all the others. 
Another way to think about this is to make sure that every combination of suit, sport coat and shirt that you own has a properly matching tie. Solid blue or grey suits, along with solid blue or white shirts, can carry almost any tie. It’s only the with the less staid suits and shirts that you should worry about - the bright solids, multi-coloreds, bold stripes, and checkered. As François Chaille wrote in The Little Book of Ties, “if you have ten shirts and two less conventional suits or jackets, the minimum number for a proper match would be twelve.” I would actually say that the minimum number be about twenty, as that would be the combination of shirts to suits or jackets.
So, in short, I recommend that you start by building a strong foundation of basics. If you have white or blue shirts, and blue or grey suits or jackets, then begin by having at least a dozen basic ties if you don’t plan to wear them often, and two dozen if you do. This foundation should include solid colored grenadines, silk knits, repp stripes, pin or polka dots, ancient madders, and a few wool and linen ties for good seasonal measure. After that, figure how many “non-traditional” shirts, suits, and sport coats you have, and make sure you have at least two or three matching ties for each combination (including what you can do with your basics). What you want to avoid is being the man who has a hundred ties, but only two suits. If you’re in that position, you don’t need to buy another tie. You should buy a new suit. 

Keep Good Ratios

Beware of getting side tracked by too many small purchases. They can be like Sirens. Ties are perhaps the best example. It’s fairly easy to come across a good deal on a tie, and many can feel hard to pass up. Twenty-five dollars here, forty dollars there, and before you know it, you have a massive collection of ties, most of which you probably never even wear. 

It’s easy to end up with too many ties, but how many should you own? Sydney D. Barney, author of Clothes and the Man, recommended that a company president have at least forty-eight, an established professional at least twenty-four, and a young bachelor at least thirty-six. This was written in 1951. The estimation for a young bachelor might be a bit high for today’s time, but I think the rule of thumb still roughly applies for all the others. 

Another way to think about this is to make sure that every combination of suit, sport coat and shirt that you own has a properly matching tie. Solid blue or grey suits, along with solid blue or white shirts, can carry almost any tie. It’s only the with the less staid suits and shirts that you should worry about - the bright solids, multi-coloreds, bold stripes, and checkered. As François Chaille wrote in The Little Book of Ties, “if you have ten shirts and two less conventional suits or jackets, the minimum number for a proper match would be twelve.” I would actually say that the minimum number be about twenty, as that would be the combination of shirts to suits or jackets.

So, in short, I recommend that you start by building a strong foundation of basics. If you have white or blue shirts, and blue or grey suits or jackets, then begin by having at least a dozen basic ties if you don’t plan to wear them often, and two dozen if you do. This foundation should include solid colored grenadines, silk knits, repp stripes, pin or polka dots, ancient madders, and a few wool and linen ties for good seasonal measure. After that, figure how many “non-traditional” shirts, suits, and sport coats you have, and make sure you have at least two or three matching ties for each combination (including what you can do with your basics). What you want to avoid is being the man who has a hundred ties, but only two suits. If you’re in that position, you don’t need to buy another tie. You should buy a new suit.