Chipp’s New Matka Cloth Ties

We’ve been longtime fans of Chipp Neckwear, well before they became one of our sponsors. The reason is, simply, they offer great value in men’s accessories for the budget-minded consumer. Chipp’s ties are handmade in NYC, using the same fabrics as top-tier producers, but come at a price of $40-50, instead of your usual $100-150. Plus, you get a bit of cool provenance with Chipp. They were a famous clothier during the heyday of classic American style and served as President Kennedy’s tailor (along with his brother Bobby). Very well regarded among the Ivy Style crowd.

So what’s the tradeoff? Well, less “artisanal” construction, mostly. On Drake’s ties, for example, you’ll find that the back of the two blades are “tipped” with a fine silk or some other high-quality material, and if they’re not, the edges are then handrolled. With Chipp’s ties, the edges are flat and folded – much like what you’d find at Brooks Brothers or Ralph Lauren – and the ends are tipped with polyester, rather than silk. Less desirable for the guy who wants something made as finely as possible, but a wonderful value for anyone who doesn’t want to pay $100-150 for a tie.

In the past couple of months, the owner of Chipp (Paul) has been working on a new collection of Matka cloth ties. Matka cloth, for those unfamiliar, is an India fabric made from spun silk. It’s slubby and textured, much like raw silk, tussah, and shantung, but is woven in a sort of burlap weave. Like those aforementioned materials, it gives some nice visual interest in the warmer months to a suit or sport coat. Think of it as a more seasonal version of grenadine – something textured, but solid colored, which makes it easy to pair with a wide range of shirts and jackets. 

For the time being, Chipp’s Matka cloth ties are $35 a piece, but they’ll go up to $42.50 once Paul gets around to putting them up on his site. Widths are very classic and middle-of-the-road (3.25” for four-in-hands; 2.5” for bow ties). To order, you’ll have to email or call, or visit the shop in NYC. To figure out what colors you’re looking at, you can click the photos above and see their descriptions (note, bow ties are missing in two of the photos, but they’re available for order). You can also follow Chipp on a new blog they’ve set up.

So Long, Trad

Ivy Style reports that Brooks Brothers will no longer be stocking their traditional fit shirts on store shelves. Instead, shops will only carry the company’s regular fits, slim fits, and extra-slim fits, while traditional fits must be ordered online or placed as a special order through a sales associate. A Brooks Brothers representative writes:

There is simply less demand for the traditional-fit model, whereas sales for the other three fits continue to grow each year. We recognize that that the traditional-fit shirt is important to some customers, therefore we continue to make it available in all the same fabrics.

A bit sad as far as Brooks’ history goes. As far as I can tell, the company’s traditional fit is more or less the same as the 1950s Brooks Brothers shirt I have stored in my closet. At the same time, it’s a cut that’s almost only valuable as a novelty. Even for the readers of Ivy Style, whose tastes run more traditional than most, it seems everyone has migrated to Brooks’ regular fit, if not slim.

Personally, I like my oxford-cloth button-downs a little full — sort of like what you see above. A little more room in the chest and waist in order to give the shirt a distinctively relaxed, easy-going, all-American look. Even those, however, are probably closer to Brooks Brothers’ slim fit (at least on my frame), than their regular, let alone traditional. So, perhaps nothing’s lost. 

Q and Answer: What to Pack for Traveling to Cold Climates?
Erieking writes us to ask: I’m looking to travel to Europe next year, and will be in many different climates. I have my summer wardrobe covered, but am curious what you’d recommend for winter travel in Scandinavia? I have a budget of about $500-1,000. 
I used to travel a lot to Russia in the fall and winter months, so I can relate to how difficult it can be to pack light, but also have everything you need. The good news is that above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can rely on smart layering. Doing so will allow you to be a bit more adaptable as the weather changes, whereas if you pack a big, warm coat, you might be too warm on days that are only chilly. I recommend the following:
Baselayers: Baselayers will be your best friend. Layer them underneath everything and you’ll be surprised by how little else you need. I like Smartwool, which you can often find on sale at Campmor and Sierra Trading Post. The second has options by other companies as well. Just make sure you get the heavyweight stuff. 
Outerwear: If you mostly wear tailored clothing (suits, sport coats, and the like), then you’ll need a traditional coat (some stores call these dress coats). Brooks Brothers and O’Connell’s are good places to start, but for something more affordable, check your local thrift stores. For anything more causal, pick whatever suits your taste. Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren often have nice looking designs, and they regularly discount stuff by 25% during their mid-season sales. J. Crew is a more affordable option, but their constructions often feel lighter and thinner. 
Sweaters: Cashmere is warmer than regular wool, but nice cashmere is expensive, unless you hunt for something vintage. For practicality and price, I recommend thick wool sweaters (ideally in turtleneck form, so you get some extra protection). Inis Meain’s merinos and O’Connell’s Shetlands are some of my favorite sweaters, but they’re a bit expensive. For more affordable options, I like Club Monaco. Just make sure to avoid the cashmere stuff, as it’ll be too thin for your needs. 
Tailored jacket: Get a heavy brown tweed, ideally with some kind of pattern, such as a herringbone or check. Any place that sells suits should also have sport coats. You can check out these stores to start. 
Pants: For casualwear, I like raw denim. It’s typically heavier than your run-of-the-mill jeans from Levis, so it feels warmer to me (even if the effect is just psychological). I wear 3sixteen’s SL-100x model, and really like them, but you can find more affordable options from our advertiser Gustin. For something dressier, get a pair of mid-grey wool flannels. Again, you can check out these stores to start.
Shirts: Bushed cotton flannels, chambrays, and wool-cotton blends all make for great cold-weather shirtings, but when I travel, I like to pack light, so I bring my favorite shirts of all: oxford cloth button downs. The upside is that they work equally well with sport coats and casualwear. 
Thick, wool socks: Feet can be hard to keep warm, so get thick wool socks (they’re warmer than cotton, and help wick sweat away). Just make sure your feet still fit comfortably into your shoes. An overly tight fit can restrict circulation, which will make your feet feel cold. Again, I like Smartwool. 
Gloves: I find that leather gloves lined in cashmere or rabbit hair feel warmer than wool gloves alone. You can get them from Dents or Merola, or have them custom made through Chester Jefferies (I had them make me this design, which you can order if you show them those pictures). For something more affordable, browse Nordstrom. They have some great options and an unbeatable return policy to boot.
Scarves: I love Drake’s scarves, but they’re expensive. Luckily, cheaper options will keep you just as warm. Just make sure to get something made from cashmere or merino, and in a long enough length so you can wrap your scarf around your neck twice. You can get Johnston’s of Elgin scarves for about $40-50 from Sierra Trading Post once you apply one of their DealFlyer coupons. 
Shoes: When it’s cold, it’s likely wet. Shoes made with what’s known as a storm or fudge welt will be more waterproof, but truthfully, I’ve been fine with regular Goodyear welt constructions, even in the snow. I just recommend bringing at least two pairs (ideally boots), and rotating between them. Commando or studded Dainite soles will also give you better traction, and they won’t grind down as easily as wet leather. For where to turn, the sky is the limit when it comes to expensive makers, but you can use this list for more affordable buys. I really like Meermin. 
The above should get you through any kind of weather that’s 20 degrees and above. Even in Moscow, things only dip below that for maybe two or three weeks per year. If you find yourself in icier conditions, then you’ll need a down parka, but good ones will cost you dearly (if you care to know, my dream pick is Nigel Cabourn’s Everest parka, which you know is serious business because it has the word Everest in it). I say plan your trips smartly so you don’t have to buy such a thing. 

Q and Answer: What to Pack for Traveling to Cold Climates?

 writes us to ask: I’m looking to travel to Europe next year, and will be in many different climates. I have my summer wardrobe covered, but am curious what you’d recommend for winter travel in Scandinavia? I have a budget of about $500-1,000. 

I used to travel a lot to Russia in the fall and winter months, so I can relate to how difficult it can be to pack light, but also have everything you need. The good news is that above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can rely on smart layering. Doing so will allow you to be a bit more adaptable as the weather changes, whereas if you pack a big, warm coat, you might be too warm on days that are only chilly. I recommend the following:

  • Baselayers: Baselayers will be your best friend. Layer them underneath everything and you’ll be surprised by how little else you need. I like Smartwool, which you can often find on sale at Campmor and Sierra Trading Post. The second has options by other companies as well. Just make sure you get the heavyweight stuff. 
  • Outerwear: If you mostly wear tailored clothing (suits, sport coats, and the like), then you’ll need a traditional coat (some stores call these dress coats). Brooks Brothers and O’Connell’s are good places to start, but for something more affordable, check your local thrift stores. For anything more causal, pick whatever suits your taste. Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren often have nice looking designs, and they regularly discount stuff by 25% during their mid-season sales. J. Crew is a more affordable option, but their constructions often feel lighter and thinner. 
  • Sweaters: Cashmere is warmer than regular wool, but nice cashmere is expensive, unless you hunt for something vintage. For practicality and price, I recommend thick wool sweaters (ideally in turtleneck form, so you get some extra protection). Inis Meain’s merinos and O’Connell’s Shetlands are some of my favorite sweaters, but they’re a bit expensive. For more affordable options, I like Club Monaco. Just make sure to avoid the cashmere stuff, as it’ll be too thin for your needs. 
  • Tailored jacket: Get a heavy brown tweed, ideally with some kind of pattern, such as a herringbone or check. Any place that sells suits should also have sport coats. You can check out these stores to start
  • Pants: For casualwear, I like raw denim. It’s typically heavier than your run-of-the-mill jeans from Levis, so it feels warmer to me (even if the effect is just psychological). I wear 3sixteen’s SL-100x model, and really like them, but you can find more affordable options from our advertiser Gustin. For something dressier, get a pair of mid-grey wool flannels. Again, you can check out these stores to start.
  • Shirts: Bushed cotton flannels, chambrays, and wool-cotton blends all make for great cold-weather shirtings, but when I travel, I like to pack light, so I bring my favorite shirts of all: oxford cloth button downs. The upside is that they work equally well with sport coats and casualwear. 
  • Thick, wool socks: Feet can be hard to keep warm, so get thick wool socks (they’re warmer than cotton, and help wick sweat away). Just make sure your feet still fit comfortably into your shoes. An overly tight fit can restrict circulation, which will make your feet feel cold. Again, I like Smartwool
  • Gloves: I find that leather gloves lined in cashmere or rabbit hair feel warmer than wool gloves alone. You can get them from Dents or Merola, or have them custom made through Chester Jefferies (I had them make me this design, which you can order if you show them those pictures). For something more affordable, browse Nordstrom. They have some great options and an unbeatable return policy to boot.
  • Scarves: I love Drake’s scarves, but they’re expensive. Luckily, cheaper options will keep you just as warm. Just make sure to get something made from cashmere or merino, and in a long enough length so you can wrap your scarf around your neck twice. You can get Johnston’s of Elgin scarves for about $40-50 from Sierra Trading Post once you apply one of their DealFlyer coupons. 
  • Shoes: When it’s cold, it’s likely wet. Shoes made with what’s known as a storm or fudge welt will be more waterproof, but truthfully, I’ve been fine with regular Goodyear welt constructions, even in the snow. I just recommend bringing at least two pairs (ideally boots), and rotating between them. Commando or studded Dainite soles will also give you better traction, and they won’t grind down as easily as wet leather. For where to turn, the sky is the limit when it comes to expensive makers, but you can use this list for more affordable buys. I really like Meermin

The above should get you through any kind of weather that’s 20 degrees and above. Even in Moscow, things only dip below that for maybe two or three weeks per year. If you find yourself in icier conditions, then you’ll need a down parka, but good ones will cost you dearly (if you care to know, my dream pick is Nigel Cabourn’s Everest parka, which you know is serious business because it has the word Everest in it). I say plan your trips smartly so you don’t have to buy such a thing. 

Real People: Tweed, Oxford, and Wool Challis

We’re still about a month away from fall, but I’m already thinking about heavy flannels and thick coats. Derek from Nashville  provides some nice inspiration. Here he’s wearing a houndstooth checked tweed sport coat from Martin Greenfield, an oxford cloth button down shirt from Kamakura, and a solid, olive green wool challis tie from Sam Hober. The combination of textures keeps things visually warm and interesting, while the pattern on the jacket adds a little variation to an otherwise solid-colored ensemble. You can’t tell from the photo, but the shirt is actually light blue, not white, which makes for a nice complement to the rustic browns, oranges, and greens that Derek is wearing. I imagine on his feet are brown suede shoes. 

These photos had me shopping around for more wool challis ties last night. Sam Hober, EG CappelliExquisite Trimmings, O’Connell’s, J. Press, Brooks Brothers, and Henry Carter are all worth looking into. The first four have the largest selection of patterns, while the last two are having sales. 

Q and Answer: How High Should Trousers Come Up?
Peter writes to us to ask: I read Monty Don’s article about dirty attire and I love the idea of high waisted men’s pants. But how high is too high? Also, where might I find such pants?
Although there are guidelines for how trousers should fit, there aren’t many rules for how they should be styled. The rise of your trousers is largely about your taste, body type, and the prevailing fashions of the day. Slimmer men can get away more easily with lower rises, while heavier men often need something higher, but at the end of the day — it about what looks good on you. Personally, I find rise to be something of a balancing act. 
For trousers I might wear with a coat and tie, I prefer a higher rise for three reasons. First, it helps avoid that dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse wrote about, where the bottom of your shirt peeks out from beneath your jacket. It also gives a longer leg line, and better proportions between the torso and legs — which I find to be nice when the jacket is worn open. You can see this demonstrated by Jake from The Armoury here. 
The problem with a rise that’s too high, however, is that unless you’re extraordinarily handsome (like Cary Grant & Co. above), they can look unflattering when you’re not wearing a jacket. Possibly not a big deal if you never remove your coat, but something to consider if you do. 
So, finding that sweet spot — where a rise is high, but not too high — is largely personal, and dependent on your dress habits, taste, and body type. For myself, I prefer trousers that come up just below my navel, although for more casual pants (i.e. anything I wouldn’t wear with a tailored jacket), I don’t mind going lower. Note, the higher you go, the more you might want to consider pleats. They’ll help visually break up that expanse of fabric that can take up your upper thighs and hips. 
Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options when it comes to higher rise pants. Ralph Lauren used to have something they called their Preston fit — which I thought was great — but they recently remodeled their whole line of trousers, so all the old cuts have been discontinued. You might want to stop by one of their stores to check out the new line, and to see if any Preston cuts are on sale. The ones made in Italy are exceptionally nice, but they’re also very expensive. Note that the legs will be a bit full, but you can have them slimmed from the knee down. 
Outside of them, there’s Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece, O’Connell’s, and J. Press for dress pants, and then Ring Jacket, Jack Donnelly’s Dalton cut and Bill’s Khaki’s M2 model for chinos. For what Monty Don was wearing, you can check Old Town. Worse comes to worse, if you can’t find anything you like, you can also try made-to-measure through J. Hilburn or Luxire. 

Q and Answer: How High Should Trousers Come Up?

Peter writes to us to ask: I read Monty Don’s article about dirty attire and I love the idea of high waisted men’s pants. But how high is too high? Also, where might I find such pants?

Although there are guidelines for how trousers should fit, there aren’t many rules for how they should be styled. The rise of your trousers is largely about your taste, body type, and the prevailing fashions of the day. Slimmer men can get away more easily with lower rises, while heavier men often need something higher, but at the end of the day — it about what looks good on you. Personally, I find rise to be something of a balancing act. 

For trousers I might wear with a coat and tie, I prefer a higher rise for three reasons. First, it helps avoid that dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse wrote about, where the bottom of your shirt peeks out from beneath your jacket. It also gives a longer leg line, and better proportions between the torso and legs — which I find to be nice when the jacket is worn open. You can see this demonstrated by Jake from The Armoury here

The problem with a rise that’s too high, however, is that unless you’re extraordinarily handsome (like Cary Grant & Co. above), they can look unflattering when you’re not wearing a jacket. Possibly not a big deal if you never remove your coat, but something to consider if you do. 

So, finding that sweet spot — where a rise is high, but not too high — is largely personal, and dependent on your dress habits, taste, and body type. For myself, I prefer trousers that come up just below my navel, although for more casual pants (i.e. anything I wouldn’t wear with a tailored jacket), I don’t mind going lower. Note, the higher you go, the more you might want to consider pleats. They’ll help visually break up that expanse of fabric that can take up your upper thighs and hips. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options when it comes to higher rise pants. Ralph Lauren used to have something they called their Preston fit — which I thought was great — but they recently remodeled their whole line of trousers, so all the old cuts have been discontinued. You might want to stop by one of their stores to check out the new line, and to see if any Preston cuts are on sale. The ones made in Italy are exceptionally nice, but they’re also very expensive. Note that the legs will be a bit full, but you can have them slimmed from the knee down. 

Outside of them, there’s Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece, O’Connell’s, and J. Press for dress pants, and then Ring JacketJack Donnelly’s Dalton cut and Bill’s Khaki’s M2 model for chinos. For what Monty Don was wearing, you can check Old Town. Worse comes to worse, if you can’t find anything you like, you can also try made-to-measure through J. Hilburn or Luxire

Where to Buy Good Pants (Part One)
Readers often ask us if we have any recommendations for where to buy good trousers. Usually grey flannels, as those tend to be the most useful, but other styles as well. So I reached out to a few friends to compile a list. Like with our guide on where to look for a suit, this isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but hopefully people will find it useful as a starting point. Today we’ll cover some expensive options, and tomorrow we’ll tackle the more affordable places.
Rota ($220-395): An Italian line with a slim leg and slightly higher rise. The construction is great, the fabrics excellent, and there are some cool details such as an extended waistband (which looks nice when you’re wearing your trousers without a belt). Note, the Rota Sport line is garment washed, so while the cut is originally same, the waist, thigh, and hip areas will be slightly slimmer. Rotas are mostly available ready-to-wear, but you can get them made-to-order through No Man Walks Alone. Doing so means you can choose from a bigger fabric selection.
Ralph Lauren ($200-450): Ralph Lauren is a big umbrella label, with lots of stuff at different tiers of quality. I personally like their Italian-made line of trousers through their Polo label (also known as Blue Label for how the label is blue). Their Preston cut is a more traditional fit with a higher rise. As with all trousers, you just have to make sure that the thigh, seat, and rise fit the way you want. The legs can be slimmed from the knee down and the waist adjusted accordingly. Prices are high (usually north of $400), but you can find them on sale at Ralph Lauren and select Bloomingdales stores for $200-250 at the end of every season. Just look for a made-in-Italy label, and note that it may soon be made-in-USA. 
Brooks Brothers Black Fleece ($200-575): Another great option if you like a traditional rise, but this time, the legs are slimmer than Ralph Lauren’s Preston cut. Thom Browne, who designs the line, often puts a little loop at the back of the waistband, but you can have that removed by a tailor if it’s not to your liking. Brooks Brothers also regularly discounts their stuff at the end of the season, and the Black Fleece line is sometimes discounted more heavily through online flash sales. 
Clay Tompkins ($250-400): A relatively new company, but one worth considering. Clay Tompkin’s trousers are cut somewhat similar to Howard Yount’s (which we’ll review tomorrow), but they feature some nice details such as adjustable side tabs. Those not only give a unique stylistic touch, but they’re also useful for when you need to adjust your pants in increments smaller than an inch (which is the only thing possible when you’re wearing a belt). I’m also told that if the red stitching on the back pocket isn’t to your liking, Clay can make your trousers without them. You can read more about Clay’s trousers here.
Panta ($239-379): A favorite of mine. No frills or flash sales here, just really good pants made in NYC. These are slimmer than many of the more traditional cuts at J. Press and Ralph Lauren, but not as slim as Howard Yount or Epaulet. The guy who runs this place, Ed Morel, also has an unusually good eye for fabrics. That means you’ll get lots of stuff that’s slightly more interesting (but still very tasteful) than what you’ll find elsewhere. Additionally, they can do made-to-measure and custom if you email them. The downside? They rarely hold sales, so the prices you see are what they are (though, maybe that’s a good thing?). 
Come back tomorrow, when we’ll talk about where you can find good trousers at more affordable prices.   
(Thanks to Ivory Tower Style, Luxe Swap, and This Fits for their help with this post. Also, credit to Panta for the photo above.)

Where to Buy Good Pants (Part One)

Readers often ask us if we have any recommendations for where to buy good trousers. Usually grey flannels, as those tend to be the most useful, but other styles as well. So I reached out to a few friends to compile a list. Like with our guide on where to look for a suit, this isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but hopefully people will find it useful as a starting point. Today we’ll cover some expensive options, and tomorrow we’ll tackle the more affordable places.

  • Rota ($220-395): An Italian line with a slim leg and slightly higher rise. The construction is great, the fabrics excellent, and there are some cool details such as an extended waistband (which looks nice when you’re wearing your trousers without a belt). Note, the Rota Sport line is garment washed, so while the cut is originally same, the waist, thigh, and hip areas will be slightly slimmer. Rotas are mostly available ready-to-wear, but you can get them made-to-order through No Man Walks Alone. Doing so means you can choose from a bigger fabric selection.
  • Ralph Lauren ($200-450): Ralph Lauren is a big umbrella label, with lots of stuff at different tiers of quality. I personally like their Italian-made line of trousers through their Polo label (also known as Blue Label for how the label is blue). Their Preston cut is a more traditional fit with a higher rise. As with all trousers, you just have to make sure that the thigh, seat, and rise fit the way you want. The legs can be slimmed from the knee down and the waist adjusted accordingly. Prices are high (usually north of $400), but you can find them on sale at Ralph Lauren and select Bloomingdales stores for $200-250 at the end of every season. Just look for a made-in-Italy label, and note that it may soon be made-in-USA. 
  • Brooks Brothers Black Fleece ($200-575): Another great option if you like a traditional rise, but this time, the legs are slimmer than Ralph Lauren’s Preston cut. Thom Browne, who designs the line, often puts a little loop at the back of the waistband, but you can have that removed by a tailor if it’s not to your liking. Brooks Brothers also regularly discounts their stuff at the end of the season, and the Black Fleece line is sometimes discounted more heavily through online flash sales. 
  • Clay Tompkins ($250-400): A relatively new company, but one worth considering. Clay Tompkin’s trousers are cut somewhat similar to Howard Yount’s (which we’ll review tomorrow), but they feature some nice details such as adjustable side tabs. Those not only give a unique stylistic touch, but they’re also useful for when you need to adjust your pants in increments smaller than an inch (which is the only thing possible when you’re wearing a belt). I’m also told that if the red stitching on the back pocket isn’t to your liking, Clay can make your trousers without them. You can read more about Clay’s trousers here.
  • Panta ($239-379): A favorite of mine. No frills or flash sales here, just really good pants made in NYC. These are slimmer than many of the more traditional cuts at J. Press and Ralph Lauren, but not as slim as Howard Yount or Epaulet. The guy who runs this place, Ed Morel, also has an unusually good eye for fabrics. That means you’ll get lots of stuff that’s slightly more interesting (but still very tasteful) than what you’ll find elsewhere. Additionally, they can do made-to-measure and custom if you email them. The downside? They rarely hold sales, so the prices you see are what they are (though, maybe that’s a good thing?). 

Come back tomorrow, when we’ll talk about where you can find good trousers at more affordable prices.   

(Thanks to Ivory Tower Style, Luxe Swap, and This Fits for their help with this post. Also, credit to Panta for the photo above.)

Q and Answer: Where Can I Find Odd-Sized Suits?
Mike asks: Where can I find odd/less common suit sizes (my natural fit is a 45r, which is quite difficult to find)?
Some companies size more specifically than others. Some use S-M-L-XL sizing (blech!), some just go with even number chest sizing (36-38-40), some add short and long sizes and some go whole hog with odd numbers in the mix as well. The very best even offer semi-tall sizing off the rack.
Your best bet for odd sizes are traditional American retailers like Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart. They consistently carry these sizes up to 46 or so.
After that, consider European-sized coats. You’ll find that the sizing translations are rough, since “subtract ten” rule of thumb is inexact. A size 52 Euro, for example, is actually a size 41, though it’s likely to be labeled a 42. A 54 Euro is about a 42 1/2. You can learn more about how the conversions work here.
And of course there’s always the classic backup option: alterations. Buy something very slightly too large, and have it altered. Remember that the portion of a jacket that’s above the armholes is really tough to alter, but the waist is pretty manageable.
One good bit of news: when you have an unusual size, eBay can really be your friend. Strange sizes mean less inventory, but also much less competition. The odds that someone else is searching for a 45R coat and likes the one you like are relatively slim, so you have a shot at some great bargains in an auction context.

Q and Answer: Where Can I Find Odd-Sized Suits?

Mike asks: Where can I find odd/less common suit sizes (my natural fit is a 45r, which is quite difficult to find)?

Some companies size more specifically than others. Some use S-M-L-XL sizing (blech!), some just go with even number chest sizing (36-38-40), some add short and long sizes and some go whole hog with odd numbers in the mix as well. The very best even offer semi-tall sizing off the rack.

Your best bet for odd sizes are traditional American retailers like Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart. They consistently carry these sizes up to 46 or so.

After that, consider European-sized coats. You’ll find that the sizing translations are rough, since “subtract ten” rule of thumb is inexact. A size 52 Euro, for example, is actually a size 41, though it’s likely to be labeled a 42. A 54 Euro is about a 42 1/2. You can learn more about how the conversions work here.

And of course there’s always the classic backup option: alterations. Buy something very slightly too large, and have it altered. Remember that the portion of a jacket that’s above the armholes is really tough to alter, but the waist is pretty manageable.

One good bit of news: when you have an unusual size, eBay can really be your friend. Strange sizes mean less inventory, but also much less competition. The odds that someone else is searching for a 45R coat and likes the one you like are relatively slim, so you have a shot at some great bargains in an auction context.

Expanding a Shirt Wardrobe in the Summertime

Luciano Barbera once said that while you can have too many clothes, you can never have too many shirts. “Shirts are quick to wash and easy to store. Plus, they look great. A man should own as many shirts as he wishes –- the more the better.”

I don’t know if I would go that far, but having more shirts does allow you to play around a bit with a tailored wardrobe. Solid and striped shirts in your basic colors (white and light blue) are great mainstays, but having a few causal options can let you get some versatility out of what you already own. For summer, I like the following:

  • Madras: A lightweight, plain weave cotton that’s known for it’s bright and bold plaids. By tradition, these used to be dyed with vegetable dyes that would bleed in the wash, which in turn would give the shirts a distinctive, blurred look. Today, madras is almost always colorfast (meaning they don’t bleed or fade), which is perhaps lamentable, but I find they still go excellently under cotton or linen sport coats, or even worn on their own with a pair of chinos and some plimsolls. You can find them at O’Connell’s, J. Press, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and J. Crew.
  • Linen: I love the look of wrinkled linen, as it adds a casual, carefree touch to clothes that make them look more lived in. Plus, the plant fiber is just so lightweight and breathable, making it ideal on hot days. With the breeze blowing through, you’d hardly known you were wearing a shirt at all. You can find them at Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Ledbury. Our advertiser Proper Cloth also can make you something custom from their cotton/ linen blends – which will have the breathability of linen, but won’t wrinkle as much.
  • A dressy chambray: This one is admittedly hard to find. A long time ago, some guys at StyleForum became enamored with a distinctive chambray from the French weaver Simonnot Godard. It had the right mix of white and blue threads to make it a chambray, but was dressy enough to wear with tailored clothing (so not like the workwear chambrays you see everywhere else). At some point, it was found that the cloth has a small percentage of polyester in it, so traditionalists quickly abandoned their stock. I personally still love the fabric, and count it as one of my favorite shirtings. It’s unique without being loud, and something you can wear to the office or outside of it. Today, the closest you can find to those original Simonnot Godard chambrays is this shirt from Ledbury (which is 100% cotton). Otherwise, you can try searching around for various end-on-ends, which is a kind of weave that sometimes yields a vaguely similar look.
  • A washed chambray: More the workwear variety, and perhaps something that’s better in the fall with tweed jackets. In the summer though, I’ve found light blue chambrays to go excellently with casual clothes (leather jackets, chinos, and such). Just find something that’s light enough in color to look like a regular light blue shirt, but has a bit of ruggedness to it so that it’s casual. I like the ones from Chimala and RRL, although the prices are admittedly very dear. For something much more affordable, check out this shirt from Everlane
Silk Knit Ties for Summer
Silk knit ties are great for wear year round, but they’re especially nice in the summer. This is partly because they go well with the rumpled linens and cottons we wear when the weather gets hot, and it’s partly because summer clothes often look better when they’re a bit more casual (and the silk knit is the most casual tie of all). If you wear sport coats this season, there are few better ties to reach for than the silk knit.
The good news is that - unlike with regular neckties - the differences in quality here are much smaller. All knit ties are made by machine, which means there’s less variation to be had in handwork. They also don’t have an interlining inside (which regular neckties do), so the construction is much simpler. As a result, which silk knit you buy is largely about design and taste.
You can break up silk knits first by thinking of them in terms of their material. Even though all silk knits are obviously made from silk, each will have a different kind of “crunchiness” to them. Some will feel very crunchy in the hand, while others will be softer and floppier.
Of the crunchy variety, there’s Drake’s, Exquisite Trimmings, Conrad Wu for something with a denser weave, and Land’s End, KJ Beckett, Paul Stuart, Howard Yount, and our advertiser Ledbury for something looser. Notice that the different weaving patterns give the ties different textures. None are better or worse; just different.  
For something softer and floppier, there’s J. Press, Brooks Brothers, Ben Silver, Kent Wang, and The Knottery. Each, again, have theirs made in their own weaving patterns, which give them different textures. Rubinacci and Sozzi also make some in really attractive and unique patterns. You can find Sozzi at No Man Walks Alone, Exquisite Trimmings, and The Armoury (though you’ll have to call or email The Armoury to order).
My favorites? Probably the Drake’s for their width and texture, at least if you’re going for solid colors. Sozzi and Rubinacci are really nice for something a bit more unique. Few ties can beat Land’s End in terms of value, though. At full price, they’re a bit expensive, but if you wait for one of their many sales, it’s not hard to grab one for about $30. If you haven’t already, get one in solid black. It’s arguably the most versatile silk knit you can own.

Silk Knit Ties for Summer

Silk knit ties are great for wear year round, but they’re especially nice in the summer. This is partly because they go well with the rumpled linens and cottons we wear when the weather gets hot, and it’s partly because summer clothes often look better when they’re a bit more casual (and the silk knit is the most casual tie of all). If you wear sport coats this season, there are few better ties to reach for than the silk knit.

The good news is that - unlike with regular neckties - the differences in quality here are much smaller. All knit ties are made by machine, which means there’s less variation to be had in handwork. They also don’t have an interlining inside (which regular neckties do), so the construction is much simpler. As a result, which silk knit you buy is largely about design and taste.

You can break up silk knits first by thinking of them in terms of their material. Even though all silk knits are obviously made from silk, each will have a different kind of “crunchiness” to them. Some will feel very crunchy in the hand, while others will be softer and floppier.

Of the crunchy variety, there’s Drake’sExquisite TrimmingsConrad Wu for something with a denser weave, and Land’s EndKJ Beckett, Paul StuartHoward Yount, and our advertiser Ledbury for something looser. Notice that the different weaving patterns give the ties different textures. None are better or worse; just different.  

For something softer and floppier, there’s J. PressBrooks BrothersBen SilverKent Wang, and The Knottery. Each, again, have theirs made in their own weaving patterns, which give them different textures. Rubinacci and Sozzi also make some in really attractive and unique patterns. You can find Sozzi at No Man Walks AloneExquisite Trimmings, and The Armoury (though you’ll have to call or email The Armoury to order).

My favorites? Probably the Drake’s for their width and texture, at least if you’re going for solid colors. Sozzi and Rubinacci are really nice for something a bit more unique. Few ties can beat Land’s End in terms of value, though. At full price, they’re a bit expensive, but if you wait for one of their many sales, it’s not hard to grab one for about $30. If you haven’t already, get one in solid black. It’s arguably the most versatile silk knit you can own.

The Very Versatile Casual Suit
I love suits, but being that I don’t work in law or finance, don’t live on the East Coast, and am (what I’d like to think) a relatively young guy in his mid-30s, I don’t get to wear them very often. So, I buy most of mine these days in causal materials, such as cotton, linen, and corduroy. That way, I can have a casual suit for social occasions, or break the pieces up and wear them separately. In the above, for example, the brown sport coat is actually a suit jacket that’s part of a cigar linen suit I bought last year.
With a casual suit, even the trousers can be worn separately. Corduroy, linen, and cotton suit trousers just become … well, corduroy pants, linen pants, and chinos. And since these pieces came as part of a suit, the jacket’s length will be a bit longer than most sport coats these days (which often look too short anyway) and the pants will have a slightly higher rise (which I think looks more flattering anyhow).
The only downside, of course, is the cost. A good suit – whether made from a fine worsted wool or a more casual material – can run you $1,000 or more at the retail level. Depending on how you break up that price, that’s a lot more than what you’d typically pay for a casual pair of pants and a sport coat. Those won’t match up to form a suit when you need them to, but they will be less expensive.
If you can afford them, however, casual suits can be great, and they’ll give you a lot of versatility in your wardrobe. You can find them at most places that sell tailored clothing (try our suit buying guides here and here). No Man Walks Alone also has a rare Minnis Fresco option this summer. Fresco is an open-weave, worsted wool (which makes it breathable on hot days) and it has a bit of a texture (which means you can wear the jacket as a sport coat). Remember: the rule of thumb for wearing suit jackets as sport coats is to avoid anything that’s made from a very silky or finely woven wool. It should never look like you’re wearing a suit jacket by itself, even if you are.
Pictured above: tan linen pants from Hickey Freeman; cigar linen suit jacket by Napolisumisura (made from W. Bill linen); light blue shirt by Ascot Chang (made from Simonnot Godard chambray); dark brown loafers from Edward Green; dark brown belt from Brooks Brothers; and white cotton pocket square from Simonnot Godard

The Very Versatile Casual Suit

I love suits, but being that I don’t work in law or finance, don’t live on the East Coast, and am (what I’d like to think) a relatively young guy in his mid-30s, I don’t get to wear them very often. So, I buy most of mine these days in causal materials, such as cotton, linen, and corduroy. That way, I can have a casual suit for social occasions, or break the pieces up and wear them separately. In the above, for example, the brown sport coat is actually a suit jacket that’s part of a cigar linen suit I bought last year.

With a casual suit, even the trousers can be worn separately. Corduroy, linen, and cotton suit trousers just become … well, corduroy pants, linen pants, and chinos. And since these pieces came as part of a suit, the jacket’s length will be a bit longer than most sport coats these days (which often look too short anyway) and the pants will have a slightly higher rise (which I think looks more flattering anyhow).

The only downside, of course, is the cost. A good suit – whether made from a fine worsted wool or a more casual material – can run you $1,000 or more at the retail level. Depending on how you break up that price, that’s a lot more than what you’d typically pay for a casual pair of pants and a sport coat. Those won’t match up to form a suit when you need them to, but they will be less expensive.

If you can afford them, however, casual suits can be great, and they’ll give you a lot of versatility in your wardrobe. You can find them at most places that sell tailored clothing (try our suit buying guides here and here). No Man Walks Alone also has a rare Minnis Fresco option this summer. Fresco is an open-weave, worsted wool (which makes it breathable on hot days) and it has a bit of a texture (which means you can wear the jacket as a sport coat). Remember: the rule of thumb for wearing suit jackets as sport coats is to avoid anything that’s made from a very silky or finely woven wool. It should never look like you’re wearing a suit jacket by itself, even if you are.

Pictured above: tan linen pants from Hickey Freeman; cigar linen suit jacket by Napolisumisura (made from W. Bill linen); light blue shirt by Ascot Chang (made from Simonnot Godard chambray); dark brown loafers from Edward Green; dark brown belt from Brooks Brothers; and white cotton pocket square from Simonnot Godard