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.)

It’s On Sale: Shirts
Want some shirts? There are a ton of places right now with deep discounts.
The new Amazon-owned e-tailer East Dane has Gant Rugger shirts starting at $37.50. The fit tends to be a bit more hip, and perhaps better suited to younger customers, but they’re of good quality. 
More traditionally, there’s Brooks Brothers, where there are mainline shirts starting at $40 and Black Fleece shirts starting at $70. 
Ralph Lauren also has a promotion going on right now, where you can save $20, $50, or $150 depending on how much you spend. The promotion applies to their sale section, where there are shirts for as low as $25 or so. Probably good to avoid stuff with the pony logo on the chest, and note that “classic fit” is their traditionally cut model, while “custom fit” is their slim version. Folks interested in workwear might also want to check out the RRL section.
Similarly, Macy’s has a bunch of Ralph Lauren shirts on sale. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t state whether each model is “classic” or “custom” fit, but there are some handsome options. I think this looks pretty good. 
J. Crew is offering an extra 40% off final sale items with the code FUNSALE. Included are some of their shirts, though you have to hunt around. 
TM Lewin, always a good go-to for business appropriate shirts, is offering four shirts for $128, and clearance models for $32 each. Shipping is free, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal if you wear a traditional coat and tie. 
(Pictured above: A plaid Ralph Lauren shirt)

It’s On Sale: Shirts

Want some shirts? There are a ton of places right now with deep discounts.

  • The new Amazon-owned e-tailer East Dane has Gant Rugger shirts starting at $37.50. The fit tends to be a bit more hip, and perhaps better suited to younger customers, but they’re of good quality. 
  • More traditionally, there’s Brooks Brothers, where there are mainline shirts starting at $40 and Black Fleece shirts starting at $70. 
  • Ralph Lauren also has a promotion going on right now, where you can save $20, $50, or $150 depending on how much you spend. The promotion applies to their sale section, where there are shirts for as low as $25 or so. Probably good to avoid stuff with the pony logo on the chest, and note that “classic fit” is their traditionally cut model, while “custom fit” is their slim version. Folks interested in workwear might also want to check out the RRL section.
  • Similarly, Macy’s has a bunch of Ralph Lauren shirts on sale. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t state whether each model is “classic” or “custom” fit, but there are some handsome options. I think this looks pretty good. 
  • J. Crew is offering an extra 40% off final sale items with the code FUNSALE. Included are some of their shirts, though you have to hunt around. 
  • TM Lewin, always a good go-to for business appropriate shirts, is offering four shirts for $128, and clearance models for $32 each. Shipping is free, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal if you wear a traditional coat and tie. 

(Pictured above: A plaid Ralph Lauren shirt)

Where To Look First for a Suit (Part Two)

Finding the right suit can be really difficult if you’re not familiar with the terrain. And even when you are, it can still be hard. So I’ve put together a loosey-goosey guide on where one might want to look first for a good suit, given certain budgets. Yesterday, I covered stuff under $1,000. Today, I’ll talk about brands at the four-digit mark (either on sale or at full-retail prices). Again, many thanks to my friends listed at the end of this post for helping me put this together.

For a budget between ~$1,000 and ~$2,500

  • Ralph Lauren: Ralph Lauren’s Polo line (also known as their “Blue Label” line) has safe, but flattering cuts. They’re made in Italy and constructed from great fabrics.
  • Brooks Brothers Black Fleece: Brooks Brothers’ premium line, designed by Thom Browne. The jackets run a bit short (some being a bit more extreme than others), but if you’re a man of slightly shorter stature, these can be a nice buy. Like with most things at Brooks Brothers, you can reliably count on their 25% off sales. Black Fleece often gets discounted even further, especially at the end of the season. 
  • Sartoria Formosa: A famous bespoke tailoring house in Naples that is now offering a small ready-to-wear line. Style is very Neapolitan with soft shoulders and wide lapels, and construction quality is very high (e.g. lots of handwork).
  • Ring Jacket: A Japanese line with a bit of Italian styling. They’re not easy to find outside of Japan, but The Armoury and Khakis of Carmel are two stockists. Cuts are slightly fashionable, but not in a way that would look out of place in an office environment. 
  • Eidos Napoli: An interesting new line designed by Antonio Ciongoli, who formally designed for Michael Bastian and Ralph Lauren. Very Italian in style, and comes in at a very competitive price point, given the quality offered. You can find a list of stockists here.
  • Sid Mashburn: Slightly fashion forward suits with a lower rise trouser and shorter coat. If you’re going for a slightly trendier look, these can be a good option. Many have also said good things about Sid Mashburn’s made-to-measure service.
  • Lots of Italian brands: There are a ton of high-end Italian brands here that can be had on discount if you wait for end-of-season sales. Try looking for Zegna (their Milano and Roma cuts are nice), Canali, Caruso, Corneliani, Belvest, Boglioli, and Sartoria Partenopea. The retail prices of some of these will be high, but you can find them on sale through boutiques such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Barney’s New York, and Shop the Finest. You can also check each brand’s stores, as some will have their own shops. Again, the key is waiting for sales.

For a budget above ~$2,500

  • Ready to wear: The world of nice suits in this range is perhaps too big to cover. Just to start, however, you can find really great ready-to-wear models from companies such as Isaia, Kiton, BrioniAttolini, and Oxxford. All those will have good made-to-measure options too if you need something customized. If you don’t want to play the sales game, you’ll also find many of the Italian labels listed in the last category being offered here at full retail.  
  • Bespoke: In this price range, you’ll start to find some very good bespoke options. Again, that’s a topic that’s too big to cover in this post, but you can begin by checking out some of the bespoke tailoring houses talked about at StyleForum. Popular ones include WW Chan, Steed Bespoke, English Cut, Napoli Su Misura, and Rubinacci. The upside to these operations is that they regularly travel to different cities around the world, which makes it easier to get really high-end bespoke tailoring if you’re not able to regularly visit England, Italy, or Hong Kong (where these tailors are based). Savile Row tailors are also excellent, and many travel. You can find a partial list of the tailors there at the Savile Row Bespoke Association. Lastly, don’t forget to search your own local area for good tailors, as it’s not only good to support local craftsmanship, but it can be helpful to work with someone nearby. 

Ending Note

It’s worth stressing that this list isn’t meant to cover every worthwhile suit in each price tier. It’s a list of suggestions of where you might want to look first if you’re in the market to buy a suit or sport coat. As usual, fit is going to be most important, so while a $2,500 suit might be better built than a $750 one, it’s best to try on as much as you can. A perfectly fitting suit that’s fused will look a hundred times better than something fully-canvassed, but ill-fitting. Use our guides on fit and style when shopping around. Once you develop your eye, you’ll soon find what works best for you. 

(Special thanks to La Casuarina, A Bit of Color, This Fits, Ivory Tower Style, Réginald-Jérôme de Mans, and Breathnaigh for their help with this article. Also, credit to Ralph Lauren and Voxsartoria for the photos above. The Ralph Lauren photo is of a Polo suit, while Voxsartoria is wearing a bespoke 4x1 double breasted jacket by Steed, and bespoke trousers by Napoli Su Misura).

It’s On Sale: Brooks Brothers Black Fleece Shirts

Brooks Brothers has a ton of their Black Fleece line on sale right now. Included are some of the shirts you see above, which start at $78. The quality of Black Fleece is very high, but it comes with prices to match. At a discounted $78, however, these are a pretty good deal. The collars are usually very nice (although sometimes a bit experimental), and the cut is typically slim, but still reasonably classic. 

Folks looking for more affordable shirts can check the sale section for Brooks Brothers’ mainline. Those start at $49

The OCBD Shirt Series, Part V: The Reviews

The OCBD Shirt Series, Part VI: Reviews and Conclusion

Our series on oxford cloth button downs started with a short history of America’s most beloved shirt design, and then covered two sets of reviews for contemporary makers. Today, we finish our series with a final set of reviews, which naturally will include the company that invented them: Brooks Brothers.

Brooks Brothers

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Size: Traditional Fit: 15 x 32; Slim Fit: 15.5 x 32

Retail price: $79.50

Features: Curved chest pocket; box pleat, seven-button front; slightly off centered cuff button; no gauntlet button at the sleeve; lightly lined unfused collar

Measurements: Traditional Fit: Chest 23.5”; Waist 22”; Shoulders 17.75”; Length 32”; Collar tip 8.5cm. Slim Fit: Chest 22”; Waist 20.75; Shoulders 18”; Length 31.25”; Collar tip 8.5cm

Impressions: 125 years or so after they invented them, Brooks Brothers still makes some of the better OCBDs around. The fabric they use is nice, hefty, and nubby, and fairly comparable to what you’d find at some of the other traditional clothiers (such as O’Connell’s and J. Press). The collar tips are also long enough to yield a roll, and the body comes in three different cuts: traditional, slim, and extra-slim.

Unfortunately, the Brooks Brothers store near me ran out of extra-slim fit oxfords, and they didn’t have any slim fits in the same size as traditional. So, I picked up a traditional in size 15 and a slim in size 15.5. This doesn’t make comparisons very easy, but even with the half size up, you can see the slim fit is considerably smaller than traditional.

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried on Brooks Brothers’ extra slim fit, but from memory, I thought it was too tight on my thin frame. The problem with clothing this slim is that they can make heavy men look heavier than they are, and thin men look thinner than they are. If you’re considering the extra slim fit for the first time, at least give the regular slim fit cut a shot. It may be more flattering. And if you have more traditional taste, consider the traditional cut, which fits something like this.

 

Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece

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Size: BB1

Retail price: $195

Features: Curved chest pocket; box pleat, seven-button front; split yoke; fabric loop at the top of the yoke; side gussets at the hem; lightly lined unfused collar

Measurements: Chest 20.5”; Waist 19”; Shoulders 18”; Length 30”; Collar tip 8.5cm.

Impressions: A $195 off-the-rack shirt is hard to swallow, especially when you consider that good bespoke shirts can be had for around the same price. Still, Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece collection (which designed by Thom Browne) has a number of really nice oxford cloth button downs. The collar is a bit nicer than Brooks Brothers’ mainline shirts, and the body is slim, but still fairly classic fitting. These might be a good buy if you can find them on discount.

 

Cottonwork and Ascot Chang

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Size: Custom

Retail Price: ~$75 and up for Cottonwork; ~$180-200 and up for Ascot Chang

Features: Variable, as these will be custom shirts

Impressions: You can get custom shirts from any number of places, and every one should be able to make you a custom oxford cloth button down. The two I have experience with are Cottonwork (who’s one of our advertisers) and Ascot Chang (who’s my main shirtmaker).

Cottonwork is an online made-to-measure operation while Ascot Chang is full bespoke. As is the nature of these things, there are different advantages to each. If you can find a highly skilled, local tailor that can make you a bespoke shirt, you have the advantage of being able to see and feel fabrics before placing an order. Then, after you receive your shirt, you can have the tailor access the fit in person and decide whether or not any changes need to be made. However, good bespoke shirts are expensive (rarely less than $175/ shirt in the United States) and not everyone will have access to a good tailor in their area. If bespoke isn’t an option, consider online made-to-measure. They’re cheaper, and if you’re willing to do a few orders and play around with adjustments, you can dial in on something pretty good. Of the six or seven online made-to-measure shirt makers I’ve tried, Cottonwork was easily the best – in construction, fabric quality, and fit.

Cottonwork and Ascot Chang can make you a custom collar, but they do have their defaults. Oversimplified, Cottonwork differs in that it has longer collar points – 9cm as opposed to Ascot Chang’s 7.5cm. If you go with Ascot Chang, I’d recommend asking for something a bit more traditionally sized. Or, if you have a collar you like, you can send it to either company and have it copied.

It’s On Sale: Brooks Brothers Black Fleece OCBDs
The Barneys sale continues to add new items every once in a while and drop prices periodically. I noticed these OCBDs have fallen from $179 to $109 (and oddly enough, they retail even higher at $195 on the Brooks Brothers site). Granted, they’re not cheap, but they are one of the lowest prices I’ve seen Thom Browne shirts go for on sale. Available in pink, blue, blue stripe, and grey stripe.

It’s On Sale: Brooks Brothers Black Fleece OCBDs

The Barneys sale continues to add new items every once in a while and drop prices periodically. I noticed these OCBDs have fallen from $179 to $109 (and oddly enough, they retail even higher at $195 on the Brooks Brothers site). Granted, they’re not cheap, but they are one of the lowest prices I’ve seen Thom Browne shirts go for on sale. Available in pink, blue, blue stripe, and grey stripe.

Put This On Episode 6: Clothing Credits

Intro:

Blazer - Brooks Brothers (Vintage)

Pants - Ralph Lauren Purple Label (Vintage)

Shirt - Brooks Brothers Black Fleece

Tie - Saks Fifth Avenue

Vest - Brooks Brothers Black Fleece

Shoes - Florsheim (Vintage)

At CEGO

Shirt One - Lands’ End

Shirt Two - CEGO Custom Shirtmakers

Pants - Woolrich Woolen Mills

Tie - Vintage (Unlabeled)

Belt - Narragansett Leathers

At Alan Flusser Custom

Suit - Brooks Brothers

Shirt - Brooks Brothers Black Fleece

Tie - Carrol & Co. (Vintage)

Sweater - Shetland Hand Knits

At Pro Tailor

Blazer - Kiton (Vintage)

Pants - Brooks Brothers Black Fleece

Shirt - Corneliani

Tie - Luciano Barbera (Vintage)

Shoes - Brooks Brothers (Vintage)

For those who might be interested in more sales, Brooks Brothers’ semi-annual sale starts on Monday, June 20th, and will go until Tuesday, July 5th. Discounts will go up to 40%. If you open a Brooks corporate account card (anyone can open one), you’ll also get an additional 15% off. 
Also on Monday, Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece line will go on sale at Gilt at 12pm EST. Black Fleece, for those unfamiliar, is designed by Thom Browne and represents Brooks higher end, slightly more contemporary line. As with most of Browne’s designs, things fit slightly cropped. It’s unclear on what will be at the Gilt sale, but you can take a look at their website to see what designs have been made for this season. Of course, Gilt could also sell Black Fleece’s previous seasons too. If you’re not already a member of Gilt, you can use my invite link. I suspect the discounts at Gilt will be bigger than the ones at Brooks Brothers since they usually sell things at over a 50-60% discount. 
Lastly, Lands End Canvas’ summer sale is going on right now. I don’t see much there that I like, but I do think their line of Heritage shirts make for decent basics if you’re on a very tight budget. Use the code CANVASDEALS (pin: 6266) for free shipping on orders over $50. 

For those who might be interested in more sales, Brooks Brothers’ semi-annual sale starts on Monday, June 20th, and will go until Tuesday, July 5th. Discounts will go up to 40%. If you open a Brooks corporate account card (anyone can open one), you’ll also get an additional 15% off. 

Also on Monday, Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece line will go on sale at Gilt at 12pm EST. Black Fleece, for those unfamiliar, is designed by Thom Browne and represents Brooks higher end, slightly more contemporary line. As with most of Browne’s designs, things fit slightly cropped. It’s unclear on what will be at the Gilt sale, but you can take a look at their website to see what designs have been made for this season. Of course, Gilt could also sell Black Fleece’s previous seasons too. If you’re not already a member of Gilt, you can use my invite link. I suspect the discounts at Gilt will be bigger than the ones at Brooks Brothers since they usually sell things at over a 50-60% discount. 

Lastly, Lands End Canvas’ summer sale is going on right now. I don’t see much there that I like, but I do think their line of Heritage shirts make for decent basics if you’re on a very tight budget. Use the code CANVASDEALS (pin: 6266) for free shipping on orders over $50. 

Put This On Episode 5: Tradition

Jesse talks with Jay Walter, head of Made-to-Measure at J. Press in New York City about their classic American style. Then a talk with designer Thom Browne, who’s merged traditional aesthetics with fashion ideas, and become perhaps the most influential menswear designer of the last ten years.

iTunes / Vimeo / YouTube

Clothing Credits

Funding Credits

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