The Second Best Color for Flannel Trousers
I recently picked up a new pair of flannel trousers, despite having promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any more dress pants for the rest of the year. I have too many pairs as is, and I’ve come to realize that one only needs five or six odd trousers per season, each in that season’s appropriate fabrics (e.g. heavy flannels and cavalry twill for fall/ winter; tropical wools and linen for spring/ summer). Maybe a few year-rounders such as chinos and jeans to boot, but any more than that, and things just collect dust.
However, I couldn’t resist these these tan flannel trousers from Howard Yount. I’ve been looking for this fabric for months, and being that Howard Yount makes pants that fit me better than most, I figured I could break my promise just this once.
Turns out I’ve been wearing these just as often as my grey flannels, which I’ve always considered to be the most versatile and useful trousers in my closet. The pale, tan color here goes very well with dark blue or brown odd jackets, as well as antique tan or dark brown shoes. They’re easy to wear once you realize they’re about the same color as khaki chinos, but with the added texture of worsted flannel. 
Tan flannel used to be more common before men only wore grey. Today, one can hardly find them. I know Barney’s has a version, though I’m unsure of how they fit. Ralph Lauren and Orvis used to as well last season, but not anymore. That leaves Howard Yount, which I can say is now stocking the second best color for flannel trousers: tan.

The Second Best Color for Flannel Trousers

I recently picked up a new pair of flannel trousers, despite having promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any more dress pants for the rest of the year. I have too many pairs as is, and I’ve come to realize that one only needs five or six odd trousers per season, each in that season’s appropriate fabrics (e.g. heavy flannels and cavalry twill for fall/ winter; tropical wools and linen for spring/ summer). Maybe a few year-rounders such as chinos and jeans to boot, but any more than that, and things just collect dust.

However, I couldn’t resist these these tan flannel trousers from Howard Yount. I’ve been looking for this fabric for months, and being that Howard Yount makes pants that fit me better than most, I figured I could break my promise just this once.

Turns out I’ve been wearing these just as often as my grey flannels, which I’ve always considered to be the most versatile and useful trousers in my closet. The pale, tan color here goes very well with dark blue or brown odd jackets, as well as antique tan or dark brown shoes. They’re easy to wear once you realize they’re about the same color as khaki chinos, but with the added texture of worsted flannel. 

Tan flannel used to be more common before men only wore grey. Today, one can hardly find them. I know Barney’s has a version, though I’m unsure of how they fit. Ralph Lauren and Orvis used to as well last season, but not anymore. That leaves Howard Yount, which I can say is now stocking the second best color for flannel trousers: tan.

Grey, Grey, Grey, Grey, Brown

Your first, second, third, maybe even fourth pair of dress pants should be grey. Get them in different shades, fabrics, and weights. Light- to mid-grey are the most versatile and can be worn with almost any jacket without you needing to put too much thought into it. Charcoal is much less wearable, but once you already have a large wardrobe of trousers, I suppose one pair can’t hurt. You can pick these up in an assortment of flannel and twill wools. The former looks and feels better, but the latter will be harder wearing. Flannels worn day in day out won’t last long, but if you plan to wear them often, get them in worsted flannel instead of woolen. Finally, you can pick up a few seasonal greys, such as an open weave tropical wool for summer, so that your legs can breathe, and an extra heavyweight wool for winter, so that they’ll stay warm.

At some point, however, you’ll have enough grey trousers and need some variety. I suggest turning to a solid brown first. Like how brown is a wonderful color for sport coats, I think it exhibits the same richness and warmth in trousers. You can go as light as tan, or get something as dark as the golden-cast pair you see above (no longer in stock, unfortunately, but the company does have something similar). These can be worn with sport coats in navy, olive, or if the shade differs enough, even brown. For example, the dark pair pictured here could be worn with some kind of tan checked jacket for a nice autumnal look. Regardless of the kind of jacket you choose, dress shirts should probably be kept to a light blue if you’re going to the office. If it’s the weekend, try putting on a navy flannel cotton shirt or maybe even a long-sleeve polo.

Either way, pick up some brown trousers at some point. This and grey are really the only colors you need. 

Green Corduroys for Fall
I’m personally not one for unusual trousers. Some men can pull off loud colors and vivid patterns with aplomb, but they’re few and far between, and I’m not one of them. The one exception I make, however, are green corduroys in the fall.
If you’re just getting your first pair of corduroys, I recommend ones in a dark shade of russet brown. These can be successfully worn with almost any kind of autumnal clothing you can imagine – grey shawl collar cardigans, green waxed cotton Barbour jackets, navy flannel shirts, and brown suede shoes. They’ll be soft, comfortable, and a touch warm.
If you’re getting your second pair, I recommend wheat. Anything that resembles something like the muted color on your standard pair of chinos to ones that are just a touch more golden. If you hit the right shade, and be sure not to veer into something too yellow, these should be about as easy to wear as your dark brown pair.
Once you’re on your third, however, I suggest considering green - something like British racing green or olive. These are slightly more daring colors, but still feel reasonably conservative. Like dark brown and wheat, green is an earthy color that feels very seasonally appropriate in the fall. I wear mine with navy or grey sweaters, the kind with a very heavy texture such as Shetland or lambswool, or with a gun club sport coat, pale blue oxford cloth shirt, and brown slip on shoes, like you see above.
If you’ve never bought corduroys before, take care in paying attention to the size of the wales. These are the ribs that make up the fabric’s signature texture. Something with thicker, more widely spaced, plush wales will look a bit more old-fashioned; something very fine will look close to velvet. A mid-sized wale is a safe bet, though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wide wales either. Those will look quite comfortable and traditional, and if you don’t wear them in an overly baggy cut, they won’t look too frumpy. My green corduroys are somewhat wide waled, actually, and cut on the fuller side of slim. Corduroys are of course a country garment, but in green I think they’re especially rustic. Country clothes, in my opinion, always look better when they’re cut slightly fuller than city clothes. 
You can pick up decent corduroys at any number of places. Cordings, Pakeman, and Hoggs of Fife have very nice traditionally cut models, while Epaulet’s and Howard Yount’s will run slim. There’s also Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers, who will have different models for different fits. The upside to them is that you’re more likely to live near one of their stores, so you can check out their products in person. However, I’ve also found that the other suppliers are happy to give you measurements if you enquire. 
(As an aside, if you haven’t read Jesse’s address to the Corduroy Appreciation Club, you really ought to read it. It stands out in my mind as one of the funniest clothing-related things I’ve ever come across. Corduroy Now, Corduroy Forever!) 

Green Corduroys for Fall

I’m personally not one for unusual trousers. Some men can pull off loud colors and vivid patterns with aplomb, but they’re few and far between, and I’m not one of them. The one exception I make, however, are green corduroys in the fall.

If you’re just getting your first pair of corduroys, I recommend ones in a dark shade of russet brown. These can be successfully worn with almost any kind of autumnal clothing you can imagine – grey shawl collar cardigans, green waxed cotton Barbour jackets, navy flannel shirts, and brown suede shoes. They’ll be soft, comfortable, and a touch warm.

If you’re getting your second pair, I recommend wheat. Anything that resembles something like the muted color on your standard pair of chinos to ones that are just a touch more golden. If you hit the right shade, and be sure not to veer into something too yellow, these should be about as easy to wear as your dark brown pair.

Once you’re on your third, however, I suggest considering green - something like British racing green or olive. These are slightly more daring colors, but still feel reasonably conservative. Like dark brown and wheat, green is an earthy color that feels very seasonally appropriate in the fall. I wear mine with navy or grey sweaters, the kind with a very heavy texture such as Shetland or lambswool, or with a gun club sport coat, pale blue oxford cloth shirt, and brown slip on shoes, like you see above.

If you’ve never bought corduroys before, take care in paying attention to the size of the wales. These are the ribs that make up the fabric’s signature texture. Something with thicker, more widely spaced, plush wales will look a bit more old-fashioned; something very fine will look close to velvet. A mid-sized wale is a safe bet, though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wide wales either. Those will look quite comfortable and traditional, and if you don’t wear them in an overly baggy cut, they won’t look too frumpy. My green corduroys are somewhat wide waled, actually, and cut on the fuller side of slim. Corduroys are of course a country garment, but in green I think they’re especially rustic. Country clothes, in my opinion, always look better when they’re cut slightly fuller than city clothes. 

You can pick up decent corduroys at any number of places. Cordings, Pakeman, and Hoggs of Fife have very nice traditionally cut models, while Epaulet’s and Howard Yount’s will run slim. There’s also Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers, who will have different models for different fits. The upside to them is that you’re more likely to live near one of their stores, so you can check out their products in person. However, I’ve also found that the other suppliers are happy to give you measurements if you enquire. 

(As an aside, if you haven’t read Jesse’s address to the Corduroy Appreciation Club, you really ought to read it. It stands out in my mind as one of the funniest clothing-related things I’ve ever come across. Corduroy Now, Corduroy Forever!) 

Over-the-Calf Socks
A reader emailed us yesterday about a new over-the-calf socks company he’s starting, and his message reminded me of this photo of Yale’s swim team in 1941. Of the four students pictured, two are shown wearing what seems to be over-the-calf socks, and one is clearly not. 
Over-the-calf socks are superior in that they stay up on your leg. Mid-calfs or anything shorter, on the other hand, get pushed down throughout the day as you walk, sit down, or otherwise move around. With dress trousers or even chinos, I recommend over-the-calfs for precisely the reason you see above. Even if you’re not sitting on the grass as this Yale student is doing, your pale, hairy legs can be exposed when you simply cross your legs or sit down on a chair. It really ruins an otherwise sharp look, in my opinion. 
For the moment, I recommend Marcoliani and Bresciani over-the-calfs, which you can buy though Kabbaz-Kelly, Howard Yount, and A Suitable Wardrobe. If you’re in San Francisco, I also recommend The Hound, who sell them for a couple dollars less than what you can find online. At $22-35 a pair or so, however, they’re pretty expensive. I’ve mostly phased my purchases over time - purchasing them whenever I get the urge to buy something, but not wanting to waste money on impulse buys. 
Less expensive are Pantherella and Gold Toe. The first is decent, but the second less so. I’ve found my Gold Toes to be considerably less comfortable and durable, but at least they’re priced accordingly. 
Anyway, the reader said his new company aims at making something that competes with Pantherella in terms of price, but exceeds them in terms of quality. He’s sending me a few pairs to check out, so I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Over-the-Calf Socks

A reader emailed us yesterday about a new over-the-calf socks company he’s starting, and his message reminded me of this photo of Yale’s swim team in 1941. Of the four students pictured, two are shown wearing what seems to be over-the-calf socks, and one is clearly not. 

Over-the-calf socks are superior in that they stay up on your leg. Mid-calfs or anything shorter, on the other hand, get pushed down throughout the day as you walk, sit down, or otherwise move around. With dress trousers or even chinos, I recommend over-the-calfs for precisely the reason you see above. Even if you’re not sitting on the grass as this Yale student is doing, your pale, hairy legs can be exposed when you simply cross your legs or sit down on a chair. It really ruins an otherwise sharp look, in my opinion. 

For the moment, I recommend Marcoliani and Bresciani over-the-calfs, which you can buy though Kabbaz-Kelly, Howard Yount, and A Suitable Wardrobe. If you’re in San Francisco, I also recommend The Hound, who sell them for a couple dollars less than what you can find online. At $22-35 a pair or so, however, they’re pretty expensive. I’ve mostly phased my purchases over time - purchasing them whenever I get the urge to buy something, but not wanting to waste money on impulse buys. 

Less expensive are Pantherella and Gold Toe. The first is decent, but the second less so. I’ve found my Gold Toes to be considerably less comfortable and durable, but at least they’re priced accordingly. 

Anyway, the reader said his new company aims at making something that competes with Pantherella in terms of price, but exceeds them in terms of quality. He’s sending me a few pairs to check out, so I’ll let you know how it goes. 

(Source: menoftheivyleague)

Cool-Wearing Shirt Fabrics for Summer
Warmer temperatures call for open weave shirtings - those lightweight, airy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and body heat escape. My favorite summer shirting is linen. It’s so gauzy and open that it allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through, but it’s also quite prone to wrinkling. Personally, I find a lot of charm in that, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Additionally, depending on the quality of the linen, you may find that new linen can feel a bit rough. You can trust, however, that it will soften considerably over time.
In addition to pure linen, there are all of its variations. Linen-cotton blends, for example, will give you some of the benefits of linen but look less messy. I also recently came across a pure cotton that’s woven to feel and look just like linen. You can find any of these - pure linen, linen-cotton blends, and pure cotton woven to feel like linen - from a variety of makers. Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Howard Yount are good starts. Brooks’ shirts are better in their slim to extra-slim fit cuts, depending on your size. For more affordable options, you can check Uniqlo (which you can shop at through Suddenlee) and TM Lewin. For higher-end models, browse the stock at Ledbury, Mr. Porter, and Barney’s. The latter two are holding sales right now, which means you can get particularly nice ones at a more affordable price. 
I’m also a fan of pure-cotton oxford cloth (the stuff used to make OCBDs), but not everyone thinks they’re well suited for summer. For example, Michael Anton, author of The Suit, has written that he thinks they’re too warm for high temperatures. On the other hand, Alex Kabbaz, arguably the best custom shirtmaker in America, has recommended them. Personally, I find that my OCDBs wear cooler than many of my other dress shirts, but you should try wearing some for yourself and seeing how you fare.   
For those who have shirts custom-made, I also recommend cotton-batiste, cotton voile, and chambray. The first two are rather popular in Southern Italy, where the weather can get quite warm, but they have the problem of often being too translucent. Fortunately, A Suitable Wardrobe has some cotton voile shirting that’s very wearable, as well as a very nice, fine chambray. I would heartily recommend either of those if you can afford them. If you’d like to find other sources, check with your shirtmaker. He or she should have some from a variety of makers such as Thomas Mason.
And last, but not least, there’s madras, which we’ve already talked about here.
Of course, being that the world of shirting is wide and varied, it’s best for you to always check for yourself whether a particular fabric is good for hot weather. One trick you can employ is holding the cloth up to the light. If the fabric is lightweight and you see a lot of light passing through, it’s more than likely perfect for summer. 
(Pictured above: Bolts of fine chambray shirting at A Suitable Wardrobe. Photo taken from StyleForum.)

Cool-Wearing Shirt Fabrics for Summer

Warmer temperatures call for open weave shirtings - those lightweight, airy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and body heat escape. My favorite summer shirting is linen. It’s so gauzy and open that it allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through, but it’s also quite prone to wrinkling. Personally, I find a lot of charm in that, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Additionally, depending on the quality of the linen, you may find that new linen can feel a bit rough. You can trust, however, that it will soften considerably over time.

In addition to pure linen, there are all of its variations. Linen-cotton blends, for example, will give you some of the benefits of linen but look less messy. I also recently came across a pure cotton that’s woven to feel and look just like linen. You can find any of these - pure linen, linen-cotton blends, and pure cotton woven to feel like linen - from a variety of makers. Brooks BrothersJ. Crew, and Howard Yount are good starts. Brooks’ shirts are better in their slim to extra-slim fit cuts, depending on your size. For more affordable options, you can check Uniqlo (which you can shop at through Suddenlee) and TM Lewin. For higher-end models, browse the stock at Ledbury, Mr. Porter, and Barney’s. The latter two are holding sales right now, which means you can get particularly nice ones at a more affordable price. 

I’m also a fan of pure-cotton oxford cloth (the stuff used to make OCBDs), but not everyone thinks they’re well suited for summer. For example, Michael Anton, author of The Suithas written that he thinks they’re too warm for high temperatures. On the other hand, Alex Kabbaz, arguably the best custom shirtmaker in America, has recommended them. Personally, I find that my OCDBs wear cooler than many of my other dress shirts, but you should try wearing some for yourself and seeing how you fare.   

For those who have shirts custom-made, I also recommend cotton-batiste, cotton voile, and chambray. The first two are rather popular in Southern Italy, where the weather can get quite warm, but they have the problem of often being too translucent. Fortunately, A Suitable Wardrobe has some cotton voile shirting that’s very wearable, as well as a very nice, fine chambray. I would heartily recommend either of those if you can afford them. If you’d like to find other sources, check with your shirtmaker. He or she should have some from a variety of makers such as Thomas Mason.

And last, but not least, there’s madras, which we’ve already talked about here.

Of course, being that the world of shirting is wide and varied, it’s best for you to always check for yourself whether a particular fabric is good for hot weather. One trick you can employ is holding the cloth up to the light. If the fabric is lightweight and you see a lot of light passing through, it’s more than likely perfect for summer. 

(Pictured above: Bolts of fine chambray shirting at A Suitable Wardrobe. Photo taken from StyleForum.)

It’s On Sale: Howard Yount Made in the USA
The good folks over at Howard Yount are offering significant discounts on all of their American-made products in honor of Independence Day. Among the choices are a few beautiful (but outrageous) madras pants like the ones above for less than a hundred bucks, as well as a bunch of surcingle belts for $27.50. Check out the action here.

It’s On Sale: Howard Yount Made in the USA

The good folks over at Howard Yount are offering significant discounts on all of their American-made products in honor of Independence Day. Among the choices are a few beautiful (but outrageous) madras pants like the ones above for less than a hundred bucks, as well as a bunch of surcingle belts for $27.50. Check out the action here.

Find Cover
It’s beginning to drizzle where I live, so I’ve been thinking about umbrellas a lot. The Chinese are said to have invented the first version during the Xia Dynasty, and there is some evidence that the Greeks had them as well. It wasn’t until the mid-18th century, however, that umbrellas were first used in England, and when they were introduced, they weren’t terribly popular. Nicholas Storey once recalled an anecdote by John MacDonald, who said that when he ventured forth with an umbrella in 1770, he was greeted with a heckle - "Frenchman, Frenchman, why don’t you call a coach?!" 
Today, an umbrella can be considered an essential for most men, and there are three general classes to choose from. The first class is the cheap, flimsy variety you find at places such as CVS for about $10. Those should be avoided. They only last a season or two, and even when they’re new, they’re unpleasant to use. It’s much better, I think, to pay the extra money to get something from the second class - reliable, industrially produced umbrellas. These start at about $16, but can go as high as $150. On the low-end of the spectrum, there’s Totes, which costs about $16 (use the discount code belt10). The handle is made out of a dark plastic that’s made to look like wood. It’s not the most elegant of materials, but it’s not terrible for the price. It’s also reasonably sturdy, and quite a good value for $16.  
A slight step above are Brooks Brothers and Barbour. These have slightly better finished wood handles, nicer detailing, and tastefully patterned canopies. Brooks discounts theirs by 25% every mid-season, and about 50% at the end of the season. At their sale prices, they’re especially good buys. A step above still are Davek and London Undercover. Davek’s umbrellas are especially nice in that they come with a lifetime guarantee, and should you ever lose yours, they’ll replace it for half the retail cost. They also have a slightly more modern feel than the other umbrellas discussed here, should you prefer that. 
The third class are artisanal or luxury-end umbrellas. In England, these include James Smith and Sons (the first umbrella shop in England), Swaine Adeney Brigg, and Fox Umbrellas Ltd. In Italy, there’s Mario Talarico, Francesco Maglia, and Passotti. These umbrellas tend to be handmade out of the best materials and constructed to the highest standards. The shafts and handles are made from Malacca, whangee, ebony, chestnut, rosewood, or sometimes even animal horn. Many come with full stick constructions, meaning that the handle and shaft are made from a single piece a wood. This is achieved with a lot of pressure, time, and steam. These are the finest umbrellas you can buy, and they’re a joy to use, but they’re also quite expensive. Most of them start around $175, and they can go as high as $1,000. Should you be in the market for one, you can visit any of those makers’ websites I linked, or check out the options at Shrine, Howard Yount, Under Knot, and Rain or Shine.
In the end, whatever you choose - either a $16 Totes or $1,000 Brigg - these should keep your dry for many seasons to come. And if someone calls you a Frenchman, you can probably be sure they read Nicholas Storey or Put This On (or you’re an actual Frenchman). 

Find Cover

It’s beginning to drizzle where I live, so I’ve been thinking about umbrellas a lot. The Chinese are said to have invented the first version during the Xia Dynasty, and there is some evidence that the Greeks had them as well. It wasn’t until the mid-18th century, however, that umbrellas were first used in England, and when they were introduced, they weren’t terribly popular. Nicholas Storey once recalled an anecdote by John MacDonald, who said that when he ventured forth with an umbrella in 1770, he was greeted with a heckle - "Frenchman, Frenchman, why don’t you call a coach?!" 

Today, an umbrella can be considered an essential for most men, and there are three general classes to choose from. The first class is the cheap, flimsy variety you find at places such as CVS for about $10. Those should be avoided. They only last a season or two, and even when they’re new, they’re unpleasant to use. It’s much better, I think, to pay the extra money to get something from the second class - reliable, industrially produced umbrellas. These start at about $16, but can go as high as $150. On the low-end of the spectrum, there’s Totes, which costs about $16 (use the discount code belt10). The handle is made out of a dark plastic that’s made to look like wood. It’s not the most elegant of materials, but it’s not terrible for the price. It’s also reasonably sturdy, and quite a good value for $16.  

A slight step above are Brooks Brothers and Barbour. These have slightly better finished wood handles, nicer detailing, and tastefully patterned canopies. Brooks discounts theirs by 25% every mid-season, and about 50% at the end of the season. At their sale prices, they’re especially good buys. A step above still are Davek and London Undercover. Davek’s umbrellas are especially nice in that they come with a lifetime guarantee, and should you ever lose yours, they’ll replace it for half the retail cost. They also have a slightly more modern feel than the other umbrellas discussed here, should you prefer that. 

The third class are artisanal or luxury-end umbrellas. In England, these include James Smith and Sons (the first umbrella shop in England), Swaine Adeney Brigg, and Fox Umbrellas Ltd. In Italy, there’s Mario Talarico, Francesco Maglia, and Passotti. These umbrellas tend to be handmade out of the best materials and constructed to the highest standards. The shafts and handles are made from Malacca, whangee, ebony, chestnut, rosewood, or sometimes even animal horn. Many come with full stick constructions, meaning that the handle and shaft are made from a single piece a wood. This is achieved with a lot of pressure, time, and steam. These are the finest umbrellas you can buy, and they’re a joy to use, but they’re also quite expensive. Most of them start around $175, and they can go as high as $1,000. Should you be in the market for one, you can visit any of those makers’ websites I linked, or check out the options at Shrine, Howard Yount, Under Knot, and Rain or Shine.

In the end, whatever you choose - either a $16 Totes or $1,000 Brigg - these should keep your dry for many seasons to come. And if someone calls you a Frenchman, you can probably be sure they read Nicholas Storey or Put This On (or you’re an actual Frenchman). 

Q and Answer: What Should I Get for My Second Pair of Dress Trousers?
Chris writes: I mostly wear jeans and chinos, but I’m slowly working my way towards a more work-appropriate wardrobe. As such, I want to pick up another pair of wool trousers, but I already have grey flannels (though they don’t fit very well). Would you recommend I buy another pair of flannels, a tropical wool, or a four-season wool? Due to a limited budget, I probably will be only getting one pair for the foreseeable future.
If this is your second pair of dress trousers, and you don’t see yourself buying another pair any time soon, then you probably want something that will work year round. This will partly be determined by their weave, material, and weight. Fabrics with very open and porous weaves, such as tropical wool for example, will leave you freezing for half the year, and materials such as cashmere will be too warm during the summer. Choose something that’s neither too densely or openly woven, and made from pure wool. 
There’s also the weight to consider, though this is less important than the weave or material. A standard medium-weight cloth is between ten to eleven ounces. Those above are considered heavy; those below light. Depending on the weave and material, most people consider mid-weight wools to be year-round fabrics, and generally wearable in all but the most sweltering of environments. 
As soon as you can, however, I encourage you to switch to seasonal fabrics. You’ll get a more varied and stylish wardrobe, as nothing is better than when your clothes reflect the season’s mood. Tweed for the fall, linen for the summer. You’ll also find that once you can play around with the weave and material, you can wear slightly heavier fabrics. Heavier cloths feel better, drape more beautifully, and lay smoother. They’re much more elegant and should be favored any time they can be worn.
Plus, since few places in the world have true temperate climates all year, “year round” wool fabrics are often just too hot in the summer and too cool in the winter. For now, you can throw wool long johns underneath to get by in the winter, but get some seasonal trousers when you can. 
In addition to their weight and warmth, you’ll also want to consider durability. Since you’re not planning to buy another pair of dress trousers soon, you’ll need these to last as long as possible. As lovely as woolen flannels are, they’re not very durable, so they shouldn’t be worn every day. If you really want flannel, get worsted flannel instead woolens. These will have a visible diagonal weave at their base and wear a bit harder. There are other worsteds to consider as well — gabardine, nailhead, sharkskin, etc. Which you choose is a stylistic choice. Whatever you choose, however, avoid wools with a “Supers” number above 120, as these will wear out a bit too quickly for you.
Finally, there’s color. For your second pair, there’s really only one choice: a solid mid-grey wool. These will go with almost anything. 
If I were choosing for myself, I would go with these Tasmanian wool or pick-and-pick trousers from Howard Yount. For something a bit more silky and lightweight, he also sells these 9 oz four-season wools. 

Q and Answer: What Should I Get for My Second Pair of Dress Trousers?

Chris writes: mostly wear jeans and chinos, but I’m slowly working my way towards a more work-appropriate wardrobe. As such, I want to pick up another pair of wool trousers, but I already have grey flannels (though they don’t fit very well). Would you recommend I buy another pair of flannels, a tropical wool, or a four-season wool? Due to a limited budget, I probably will be only getting one pair for the foreseeable future.

If this is your second pair of dress trousers, and you don’t see yourself buying another pair any time soon, then you probably want something that will work year round. This will partly be determined by their weave, material, and weight. Fabrics with very open and porous weaves, such as tropical wool for example, will leave you freezing for half the year, and materials such as cashmere will be too warm during the summer. Choose something that’s neither too densely or openly woven, and made from pure wool. 

There’s also the weight to consider, though this is less important than the weave or material. A standard medium-weight cloth is between ten to eleven ounces. Those above are considered heavy; those below light. Depending on the weave and material, most people consider mid-weight wools to be year-round fabrics, and generally wearable in all but the most sweltering of environments. 

As soon as you can, however, I encourage you to switch to seasonal fabrics. You’ll get a more varied and stylish wardrobe, as nothing is better than when your clothes reflect the season’s mood. Tweed for the fall, linen for the summer. You’ll also find that once you can play around with the weave and material, you can wear slightly heavier fabrics. Heavier cloths feel better, drape more beautifully, and lay smoother. They’re much more elegant and should be favored any time they can be worn.

Plus, since few places in the world have true temperate climates all year, “year round” wool fabrics are often just too hot in the summer and too cool in the winter. For now, you can throw wool long johns underneath to get by in the winter, but get some seasonal trousers when you can. 

In addition to their weight and warmth, you’ll also want to consider durability. Since you’re not planning to buy another pair of dress trousers soon, you’ll need these to last as long as possible. As lovely as woolen flannels are, they’re not very durable, so they shouldn’t be worn every day. If you really want flannel, get worsted flannel instead woolens. These will have a visible diagonal weave at their base and wear a bit harder. There are other worsteds to consider as well — gabardine, nailhead, sharkskin, etc. Which you choose is a stylistic choice. Whatever you choose, however, avoid wools with a “Supers” number above 120, as these will wear out a bit too quickly for you.

Finally, there’s color. For your second pair, there’s really only one choice: a solid mid-grey wool. These will go with almost anything. 

If I were choosing for myself, I would go with these Tasmanian wool or pick-and-pick trousers from Howard Yount. For something a bit more silky and lightweight, he also sells these 9 oz four-season wools

Conservatively Patterned Socks

There’s an old piece of wisdom that says men should match their socks to their trousers. Doing so elongates the leg line, which in turn supposedly makes the man look taller. I’ve never been quite sure of this rule (or the logic). It works fine for navy or charcoal trousers, but matching brown socks to similarly colored pants and shoes seems off to me. I also don’t care for light colored socks, so wheat and mid-grey trousers need a different colored hose. 

In the end, I’ve found that navy socks go with everything. It’s richer than black and complements any color next to it. Thus, most of my socks are a solid navy, with charcoal a close second. I also have a few pairs in odd colors such as dark bottle green and aubergine, which I wear whenever I want a bit of irreverence. Those are never worn to match trousers, of course, though sometimes they complement a secondary color in my tie. 

It can be a bit boring to only have solid colored socks, however, so you can mix in some conservative patterns. This takes a bit more focus in the morning, but can add real character to your ensemble. Time-honored combinations include a two-toned houndstooth with glen plaid flannels, fine herringbone with a chalk striped suiting, or well spaced pin-dot hose with windowpaned wools. The key here is to find a pattern that both complements and contrasts your trousers. If you stick to neutral colors and conservative, traditional patterns, this should be easy. 

Marcoliani and Bresciani makes some of the best patterned socks out there. Marcoliani can be found through Kabbaz & Kelly, Howard Yount, and O’Connell’s. If you’re in the Bay Area, you can also find them at The Hound Clothiers. Bresciani can be bought through A Suitable WardrobeBerg & Berg, and Mr. Porter. Both of these brands are expensive, but the construction is top-notch and the patterns are tasteful.

For more affordable options, keep an eye out for Pantherella socks on Sierra Trading Post. They have more synthetic fibers in their composition, which means they’re a bit less breathable and durable, but their patterns are equally tasteful and they can be had for as little as $5 a pair (just wait for the heavy markdowns). Uniqlo also has these dotted socks which you can buy through Suddenlee, but they’re cotton and not over-the-calf. I recommend waiting for the Pantherella sales instead, if you can wait. 

Photo credits: MostExerent, SpooPoker, and Pocket Square Guy.

Sharkskin and Howard Yount

I ordered a pair of brown sharkskin trousers from Howard Yount two months ago. Sharkskin, also known as pick and pick, is a twill weave with a sort of “stair step” pattern. When made with two strongly contrasting yarns, you get a cloth that looks very striking. When made with yarns that are more similar in color, you get a subdued fabric that relies more on texture.

Many people think of sharkskin as shiny, but it doesn’t have to be. It largely depends on how tightly the yarns were woven and how the fabric was finished. Howard Yount’s sharkskin trousers, for example, are quite matte and I’ve been wearing them easily as odd trousers. When put together with a white button up shirt, navy sweater, and charcoal wool coat, this fabric can lend a bit of a visual interest to an otherwise simple ensemble. As always, it’s good to know how to rely on variations in textures and fabrics to make things interesting, especially if you have a very basic wardrobe. Fabrics such as nailhead, pinhead, birdseye, herringbone, and sharkskin can help achieve that for you.

The quality of Howard Yount’s pants, by the way, is fantastic. There are nice features such as hand stitched details and a belt prong loop. Most importantly, however, is the fit. Most men experience one of two problems when wearing trousers. The seat is often too full, thus giving the wearer a “diaper butt,” or the fork (the part of the leg that joins the trunk) puckers, pulls, or ripples. Obviously, every man is built differently, but I’ve found that these trousers suffer none of those problems. All the lines are uninterrupted and everything fits cleanly, thus forming a strong and elegant silhouette. At $185, they’re not the cheapest pants around, but they’re a great value and the company stocks a wide range of colors and fabrics every season. I’m already looking forward to my next order.