The Rule of Thumb
There’s a rule of thumb (literally) that’s often passed around for how to determine the proper length of a suit jacket or sport coat. As it goes: you want the hem of your jacket to hit around the thumb knuckle, the one between the end of your thumb and where the thumb’s joint meets the palm. Some also say that your hands should be able to just cup the hem of your jacket when you have it on, but this is essentially saying the same thing.
This rule, however, is somewhat mixing up the order of how traditional tailoring is done. In the past, when men went to bespoke tailors to have their suits made, tailors would eye where a jacket should hit, and then use a man’s thumbs or knuckles as a reference point for future commissions. Which makes sense. The proper length of a jacket is more about how it works in concert with the other parts of your body, thus making things look as well proportioned as possible. It’s not about just meeting wherever a man’s knuckle happens to fall. The “rule of thumb” works for most men, but what about those with longer or shorter arms? Should they have to sacrifice the proportion of their suits just so the hem hits the “correct” place?
Of course, nowadays, most men buy off-the-rack, so they have to rely on their own eye for whether a jacket is long enough. One principle – and this is the one that I think is best – is that the hem of your jacket should roughly break at the midsection between the floor and the back of your coat’s collar (i.e. the highest point on your jacket). There’s some wiggle room here though. A casual jacket can be a touch shorter, whereas a business suit may need to stay traditional.
To determine this, you’ll need a full-length mirror and about ten or twelve feet of distance to view yourself accurately. If you’re standing too close, you’ll distort your view and the proportions of your suit may look right when they’re actually not. So, if you can’t get a good look, we have a more generalized rule: a sport coat or suit jacket should at least cover your posterior. 
That’s not a bad rule to follow, but remember: at the end of the day, where a suit jacket’s hem should end is about proportions and balance. Be careful of the trend towards shorter coats, as they can make you look as though you’re wearing your little brother’s jacket. And beware of overly long jackets, which can make your legs look unusually short. As always, what’s best is what flatters you the most. 

The Rule of Thumb

There’s a rule of thumb (literally) that’s often passed around for how to determine the proper length of a suit jacket or sport coat. As it goes: you want the hem of your jacket to hit around the thumb knuckle, the one between the end of your thumb and where the thumb’s joint meets the palm. Some also say that your hands should be able to just cup the hem of your jacket when you have it on, but this is essentially saying the same thing.

This rule, however, is somewhat mixing up the order of how traditional tailoring is done. In the past, when men went to bespoke tailors to have their suits made, tailors would eye where a jacket should hit, and then use a man’s thumbs or knuckles as a reference point for future commissions. Which makes sense. The proper length of a jacket is more about how it works in concert with the other parts of your body, thus making things look as well proportioned as possible. It’s not about just meeting wherever a man’s knuckle happens to fall. The “rule of thumb” works for most men, but what about those with longer or shorter arms? Should they have to sacrifice the proportion of their suits just so the hem hits the “correct” place?

Of course, nowadays, most men buy off-the-rack, so they have to rely on their own eye for whether a jacket is long enough. One principle – and this is the one that I think is best – is that the hem of your jacket should roughly break at the midsection between the floor and the back of your coat’s collar (i.e. the highest point on your jacket). There’s some wiggle room here though. A casual jacket can be a touch shorter, whereas a business suit may need to stay traditional.

To determine this, you’ll need a full-length mirror and about ten or twelve feet of distance to view yourself accurately. If you’re standing too close, you’ll distort your view and the proportions of your suit may look right when they’re actually not. So, if you can’t get a good look, we have a more generalized rule: a sport coat or suit jacket should at least cover your posterior. 

That’s not a bad rule to follow, but remember: at the end of the day, where a suit jacket’s hem should end is about proportions and balance. Be careful of the trend towards shorter coats, as they can make you look as though you’re wearing your little brother’s jacket. And beware of overly long jackets, which can make your legs look unusually short. As always, what’s best is what flatters you the most. 

Green Jackets

I think winter has arrived in some parts of the country, but here in Northern California, it still feels like fall. So if it’s not too late to post, I’d like to give a recommendation for green jackets, which I’ve come to realize feel just right around this time of year.

By green jackets I mean four-pocket M65s, easy-fitting waxed cotton jackets, thick Loden wool coats, or some kind of casual outerwear piece made out of olive tweed, like you see above. These have a wonderful autumnal feeling, and can be successfully paired with year-round pants such as chinos or jeans, or something more seasonal, such as corduroys or heavy woolen trousers. In addition, green jackets are a nice way to pick up the natural colors around you in the autumn, as well as add a bit of a country look to your ensemble. While I’m suspicious of men who dress a bit too country in the city, adding a green jacket to a pair of jeans, flannel shirt, and heavy leather boots is a nice way to lend a gentle rustic touch without looking like you’re about to go duck hunting on Main Avenue.

So, try wearing a green jacket this fall.  

(Photos by Barbour, Nitty Gritty Shop, and Da I Net)

It’s On Sale: Barbour International
Barbour International on sale at Bloomingdales for $209.50. Free shipping to boot. 
Note that if you want, you can take off the Barbour logo patch with a seam ripper, but you should do it as soon as you get it, so that the jacket doesn’t fade unevenly. 

It’s On Sale: Barbour International

Barbour International on sale at Bloomingdales for $209.50. Free shipping to boot. 

Note that if you want, you can take off the Barbour logo patch with a seam ripper, but you should do it as soon as you get it, so that the jacket doesn’t fade unevenly. 

Q and Answer: When Can I Wear a Tie Without a Jacket?
David asks: Just recently found your blog, and it’s a go-to for me everyday.  I do have a question.  You are adamant about the “tie with jacket only rule.”  I am a history teacher at a suburban high school in upstate New York.  The school has neither proper heating nor cooling, and I am constantly on my feet, walking around, at the front of the room, helping kids etc.  So when is it OK for me to take my jacket off and roll up my sleeves?
When I wrote this piece on 25 things you should know, there was a bit of controversy surrounding my suggestion that you shouldn’t wear a tie without a jacket. A fair amount of controversy, actually. But I wrote it advisedly, so let me offer you some guidelines.
First of all, it’s perfectly appropriate, in the course of work, to take off your coat. I myself take off my coat when I arrive at the office, and hang it on a coat rack. Most people who work in situations that demand a tie also work in situations that require them to sit frequently, and sitting wears unnecessarily on your coat. If I go out, or meet a colleague, or get cold, I put my coat back on. Generally, though, it’s off. That’s fine.
There are a few reasons it’s better to wear a coat. The first is that you will look better. Unless you happen to be Ryan Lochte, your physique will generally be more flattered by a coat than a shirt. It also makes you look “finished,” as though you’re fully dressed, prepared. A bit of variety and layering also makes almost any outfit look better.
But if you have some reason to take your coat off, no one will begrudge you. Taking a long walk in the sun? Carry your coat. (Short walks are often cooler with a seasonally-appropriate coat shading you.) Digging a ditch? Take off your coat. That’s fine. It’s like wearing your hat in a train station - the activity trumps the normal etiquette.
The question comes in when you are dressing with a tie but without a coat.
Ask yourself: why am I doing this? What is the occasion that demands the formality of a tie but doesn’t require a coat? Besides transitory situations (sitting at your desk, digging a ditch, eating soup), why would you need to wear a tie but not a coat?
The answer is pretty much “I work at a cell phone store.”
Which is not a good look.
Now, there’s a certain semi-ironic aesthetic that peaked a couple years ago that alludes to the (work-engaged, desk-sitting) necktied nerd of the 1960s. The NASA engineer look. It usually involves an extremely slim shirt and trousers, a skinny tie, and a tie clip. The sleeves are typically short or rolled (an allusion to those engineers-at-work). In warm weather, this look has no coat.
While I’d say that the style’s a little stale, fashion-wise, it looked fine on some people. Mostly very skinny ones who could pull off the irony. I sincerely had no beef with these people. Have no beef with these people - I’m sure there are people who look fine in this outfit even now. The truth is, though, that 99% of the guys wearing ties without coats in America today look like yutzes.
The simple solution is simple. If you’re wearing a coat, and the situation demands it, wear a tie. If you’re not, and it doesn’t, don’t. There’s no need to put the cart before the horse.

Q and Answer: When Can I Wear a Tie Without a Jacket?

David asks: Just recently found your blog, and it’s a go-to for me everyday.  I do have a question.  You are adamant about the “tie with jacket only rule.”  I am a history teacher at a suburban high school in upstate New York.  The school has neither proper heating nor cooling, and I am constantly on my feet, walking around, at the front of the room, helping kids etc.  So when is it OK for me to take my jacket off and roll up my sleeves?

When I wrote this piece on 25 things you should know, there was a bit of controversy surrounding my suggestion that you shouldn’t wear a tie without a jacket. A fair amount of controversy, actually. But I wrote it advisedly, so let me offer you some guidelines.

First of all, it’s perfectly appropriate, in the course of work, to take off your coat. I myself take off my coat when I arrive at the office, and hang it on a coat rack. Most people who work in situations that demand a tie also work in situations that require them to sit frequently, and sitting wears unnecessarily on your coat. If I go out, or meet a colleague, or get cold, I put my coat back on. Generally, though, it’s off. That’s fine.

There are a few reasons it’s better to wear a coat. The first is that you will look better. Unless you happen to be Ryan Lochte, your physique will generally be more flattered by a coat than a shirt. It also makes you look “finished,” as though you’re fully dressed, prepared. A bit of variety and layering also makes almost any outfit look better.

But if you have some reason to take your coat off, no one will begrudge you. Taking a long walk in the sun? Carry your coat. (Short walks are often cooler with a seasonally-appropriate coat shading you.) Digging a ditch? Take off your coat. That’s fine. It’s like wearing your hat in a train station - the activity trumps the normal etiquette.

The question comes in when you are dressing with a tie but without a coat.

Ask yourself: why am I doing this? What is the occasion that demands the formality of a tie but doesn’t require a coat? Besides transitory situations (sitting at your desk, digging a ditch, eating soup), why would you need to wear a tie but not a coat?

The answer is pretty much “I work at a cell phone store.”

Which is not a good look.

Now, there’s a certain semi-ironic aesthetic that peaked a couple years ago that alludes to the (work-engaged, desk-sitting) necktied nerd of the 1960s. The NASA engineer look. It usually involves an extremely slim shirt and trousers, a skinny tie, and a tie clip. The sleeves are typically short or rolled (an allusion to those engineers-at-work). In warm weather, this look has no coat.

While I’d say that the style’s a little stale, fashion-wise, it looked fine on some people. Mostly very skinny ones who could pull off the irony. I sincerely had no beef with these people. Have no beef with these people - I’m sure there are people who look fine in this outfit even now. The truth is, though, that 99% of the guys wearing ties without coats in America today look like yutzes.

The simple solution is simple. If you’re wearing a coat, and the situation demands it, wear a tie. If you’re not, and it doesn’t, don’t. There’s no need to put the cart before the horse.

Second Time a Brown

Whether worn casually with beat-up chinos and a pair of brown loafers, or more formally with grey flannel pants and freshly polished derbys, a navy sport coat is one of the most versatile items a man can own. Its strength is in its color. A navy jacket can be successfully paired with almost any button-up shirt or pair of trousers, and its rich tone is formal enough for many events, but not so formal that it’s limited. If a man could only own one sport coat, it should be a navy single-breasted.

But you likely already knew that and perhaps already own a navy sport coat. If so, what should you do for your second acquisition?

The obvious choice is something in either grey or brown, and between the two, I recommend the latter. The problem with grey sport coats is that with few exceptions, they’re more likely to be mistaken for suit jackets. That means when you wear them with odd trousers (trousers that aren’t part of a suit), you’ll look like you accidentally spilt something on your pants and had to change out of them.

The other problem is that grey jackets shift the burden of color to your trousers. To be sure, you can wear grey jackets with grey pants, but the two must have very contrasting shades. Even then, when done successfully, you’ll look very … grey. Plus, accessories then have to be a bit muted, lest they look too conspicuous against an otherwise all grey ensemble, which makes this combination even more limiting.

So if you’re not going to wear grey sport coats with grey trousers, you’ll have to build a wardrobe of workable trousers for your one jacket. That’s much more difficult than the norm, which is to rely on a basic collection of grey trousers and wear them with various sport coats. Navy or brown jackets with grey pants is a classic look, and either can be accessorized in an infinite number of ways.

Furthermore, I think brown is just a more interesting color (taking aside the fact that grey is technically not even a color). It can be deep, rich, and warm, whereas grey can’t. Colors such as blue, ecru, and burgundy can also be mixed in through checks and speckles for added visual interest. Just browse a rack full of tweeds to see what I mean.

Of course, as I said, there are exceptions. A grey herringbone or speckled Donegal tweed jacket can be incredibly beautiful and versatile, but before getting one of those, I think you should acquire something in brown. You can more easily wear it with the pants you probably already own – grey dress trousers, dark blue jeans, and khaki chinos. This allows you to not have to go out and buy a collection of pants just to wear with your one jacket, which when you’re on a budget, can be very valuable. The difference between brown and grey for your second sport coat is likely to be the difference between building a wardrobe and building outfits. Do the first. 

(Photo credits: Ethan Desu, The Sartorialist, Michael Alden, Napoli Su Misura, M. Fan, and others)

Un-Lining A Jacket
A week or so ago, I picked up this jacket at a thrift store. It didn’t need too much adjustment to fit well, and it filled a hole in my wardrobe - a linen blazer. Since I live in Los Angeles, staying comfortable in the summer is a priority, and linen does the trick.
There was only one problem: the jacket was fully lined. Linen is cool and breathes well. The same cannot be said of the materials used to line coats, like bemberg, an early plant-based synthetic. Lining fabrics are designed to be slick and lightweight, but they’re not designed to be cool in warm weather. Lined linen is fine when the temperature’s 75 or 80, but I wanted a coat I could wear when it was 85 or 90, so I took the coat to my tailor for some alteration.
The lining in the shoulders and sleeves is functional. Without lining there, your coat can hang up on your shirt, causing rumpling, bumps and other unsightly malformations. It’s also functional in the chest, where it performs the same duties, and also covers up the structure of the chestpiece and pockets. There are totally unstructured coats that have almost none of this extra stuff in the chest, but this wasn’t one of them, so I wanted to retain that lining.
The one place where the lining isn’t functional at all is on the back. Manufacturers use lining there for a uniform look, and because it’s cheaper to line the back fully than to clean up the insides to look presentable. Luckily, I’d bought the coat for $25, and wasn’t averse to putting a bit more money into it to make it summer-friendly.
I had my tailor remove the lining along most of the back. This involved cutting away the lining, but also “taping” the now-visible seams. This keeps them from catching on the shirt and makes them look finished. He left a strap across the lower back to help the coat retain its shape, but that’s optional. The result was a coat with dramatically less lining that will keep me much cooler in the summer.
This isn’t just a great option for summer, either. Less lining in a jacket means you can wear heavier fabrics in warmer temperatures. Heavier fabrics almost always look and drape better than lighter, finer ones. Unless it’s winter and you’re trying to maximize warmth, a less-lined coat is more versatile and comfortable. That’s why jackets were rarely fully lined until mass manufacturing prevailed over traditional tailoring in the 60s.
My tailor charged me a bargain price for the service - $35. Since it’s not a frequent request, prices vary, but generally cutting out the back and taping the seams will run you somewhere around $50. When the mercury climbs here in LA, I’m sure I’ll be glad I spent the money.

Un-Lining A Jacket

A week or so ago, I picked up this jacket at a thrift store. It didn’t need too much adjustment to fit well, and it filled a hole in my wardrobe - a linen blazer. Since I live in Los Angeles, staying comfortable in the summer is a priority, and linen does the trick.

There was only one problem: the jacket was fully lined. Linen is cool and breathes well. The same cannot be said of the materials used to line coats, like bemberg, an early plant-based synthetic. Lining fabrics are designed to be slick and lightweight, but they’re not designed to be cool in warm weather. Lined linen is fine when the temperature’s 75 or 80, but I wanted a coat I could wear when it was 85 or 90, so I took the coat to my tailor for some alteration.

The lining in the shoulders and sleeves is functional. Without lining there, your coat can hang up on your shirt, causing rumpling, bumps and other unsightly malformations. It’s also functional in the chest, where it performs the same duties, and also covers up the structure of the chestpiece and pockets. There are totally unstructured coats that have almost none of this extra stuff in the chest, but this wasn’t one of them, so I wanted to retain that lining.

The one place where the lining isn’t functional at all is on the back. Manufacturers use lining there for a uniform look, and because it’s cheaper to line the back fully than to clean up the insides to look presentable. Luckily, I’d bought the coat for $25, and wasn’t averse to putting a bit more money into it to make it summer-friendly.

I had my tailor remove the lining along most of the back. This involved cutting away the lining, but also “taping” the now-visible seams. This keeps them from catching on the shirt and makes them look finished. He left a strap across the lower back to help the coat retain its shape, but that’s optional. The result was a coat with dramatically less lining that will keep me much cooler in the summer.

This isn’t just a great option for summer, either. Less lining in a jacket means you can wear heavier fabrics in warmer temperatures. Heavier fabrics almost always look and drape better than lighter, finer ones. Unless it’s winter and you’re trying to maximize warmth, a less-lined coat is more versatile and comfortable. That’s why jackets were rarely fully lined until mass manufacturing prevailed over traditional tailoring in the 60s.

My tailor charged me a bargain price for the service - $35. Since it’s not a frequent request, prices vary, but generally cutting out the back and taping the seams will run you somewhere around $50. When the mercury climbs here in LA, I’m sure I’ll be glad I spent the money.

Put This On Season Two, Episode 2: Eclecticism

Put This On, a web series about dressing like a grownup, visits New York City, where eclectic style is a way of life.

We go thrifting with Josh and Trav from the blog Street Etiquette. They’re known for their thrift-store eyes and their unique editorials. We drop some shopping and alteration knowledge and have a friendly competition: who can pick up the coolest stuff in three shops and two hours?

Visit Jay Kos, the eclectic boutique that fuses traditional style with a decidedly non-traditional palette. It’s a favorite of modern dandies because of Jay’s bold color sense and wild material choices. Here you can find traditionally-made trousers in green python or a fine Italian sportcoat rendered in a blown-up flannel shirting pattern.

Meet Lewis Lapham, the found of Lapham’s Quarterly and longtime editor of Harper’s Magazine. Lapham discusses why fine clothes suit the humble journalist, and compares a coat and tie to the pair of gold coins Flaubert carried in his pocket - they lend the bearer a sense of weight.

In our How It’s Made segment, we learn what’s inside your jacket. Tailor Leonard Logsdail tears open a few coats to show us their guts and compares the construction of pieces at a variety of price points.

Plus, the return of Rudiments with new host Dave Hill. Dave explains that a coat isn’t finished until it has been altered by a tailor.

This is the second episode in our six-episode second season. In this season, we visit the three greatest men’s style cities in the world, as chosen by our readers - New York, Milan and London.

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Watch it elsewhere:

Vimeo / Youtube / iTunes


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Buy Season One on DVD for $16

This episode was supported by our viewers and by The Put This On Gentlemen’s Association.


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Executive Producers: Jesse Thorn & Adam Lisagor

Director: Benjamin Ahr Harrison

Host / Writer / Producer: Jesse Thorn

Rudiments: Dave Hill

Producer: Andrew Yamato

Director of Photography: Ryan Samul

Sound: Andrew J. Reardon

How a Suit Jacket or Sport Coat Should Fit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q and Answer: The Partially-Lined Blazer
Layton writes: I recently bought a Paul Stuart tweed blazer on eBay. I’m happy with the  way it looks on me, but it seems to be missing the liner on  the inside that all blazers and suit jackets I have ever worn or seen  have. Did the seller remove the liner, or are some blazers sold without one?
A jacket’s lining has three purposes.
The primary functional purpose is to allow the coat to slide freely on and off, and to hang freely when worn. The lining also provides some measure of additional warmth, and it covers up the guts of the coat, meaning that seams can be left unfinished without looking sloppy.
Until the latter part of the 20th century, the norm was for coats to be made from heavier fabric (for drape), with lining only where necessary. That meant that the sleeves would be lined (so your shirt wouldn’t catch), the shoulders would be lined (so that the back would hang smoothly without bunching), and the chest would be lined (to cover the canvassing and provide for pockets). This meant that exposed seams - in the back of the coat and sometimes in the lower part of the front as well - had to be taped (wrapped with a sewn ribbon) so they’d be presentable and durable.
When the suit coat became a mass-produced product, manufacturers realized that it was cheaper just to leave the seams unfinished and cover them up with a lining. Things were a bit more clammy in a fully-lined coat, but this was less important as the jacket’s primary cloth became more and more lightweight.
When one finds a partially-lined coat these days, it’s generally either a high-end product or designed for summer wear. Since I prefer to wear a heavier cloth, given the opportunity, I like a less-lined coat when possible.
The lining, by the way, is almost always made of bemberg, an early semi-synthetic fabric (invented in the teens) made from plants. If your suit is lined with polyester, it’s probably crap. (If it’s lined with silk, you’re probably super sweaty.)

Q and Answer: The Partially-Lined Blazer

Layton writes: I recently bought a Paul Stuart tweed blazer on eBay. I’m happy with the way it looks on me, but it seems to be missing the liner on the inside that all blazers and suit jackets I have ever worn or seen have. Did the seller remove the liner, or are some blazers sold without one?

A jacket’s lining has three purposes.

The primary functional purpose is to allow the coat to slide freely on and off, and to hang freely when worn. The lining also provides some measure of additional warmth, and it covers up the guts of the coat, meaning that seams can be left unfinished without looking sloppy.

Until the latter part of the 20th century, the norm was for coats to be made from heavier fabric (for drape), with lining only where necessary. That meant that the sleeves would be lined (so your shirt wouldn’t catch), the shoulders would be lined (so that the back would hang smoothly without bunching), and the chest would be lined (to cover the canvassing and provide for pockets). This meant that exposed seams - in the back of the coat and sometimes in the lower part of the front as well - had to be taped (wrapped with a sewn ribbon) so they’d be presentable and durable.

When the suit coat became a mass-produced product, manufacturers realized that it was cheaper just to leave the seams unfinished and cover them up with a lining. Things were a bit more clammy in a fully-lined coat, but this was less important as the jacket’s primary cloth became more and more lightweight.

When one finds a partially-lined coat these days, it’s generally either a high-end product or designed for summer wear. Since I prefer to wear a heavier cloth, given the opportunity, I like a less-lined coat when possible.

The lining, by the way, is almost always made of bemberg, an early semi-synthetic fabric (invented in the teens) made from plants. If your suit is lined with polyester, it’s probably crap. (If it’s lined with silk, you’re probably super sweaty.)

Dealing with Bad Weather
Every year starts off with a few months of bad weather. First there is snow, then the snow turns to slush, and finally the slush gives way to showers. Depending on where you live, these conditions can put a real beating on your clothes, so it’s good to know how to best take care of them.
Salt Stains on Shoes
The best care is preventative. There are a number of treatments that can give your shoes a superficial layer of protection. Use a thin layer of wax polish on calf leather dress shoes and mink oil lotion on work or hiking boots (you can buy both at most shoe repair shops). Note that you don’t want to use mink oil on dress shoes; if you do, your shoes will never take a proper shine.
For added protection, use a pair of overshoes. Swims makes an attractive flocked version that slips on easily, while Tingley makes a very affordable (albeit less attractive) model. You can read Jesse’s review of Tingley here.
If you’ve picked up salt stains despite these measures, however, you need to treat them as soon as you get home. Mix one part vinegar to two parts water (or half and half for more serious stains). Brush off your shoes with a horsehair brush to remove any dirt, then dab a soft towel in the solution and gently use it to wipe off the stain. Once you’re done, use a clean damp towel to wipe off any vinegar residue. Leave it to dry for 30 minutes and repeat as needed. You want to work through this slowly, patiently, and gently; rubbing too hard can also damage your shoes. Once you’ve gotten the stain out, apply leather conditioner, polish, and wax again so that they’re protected next time you use them.
If the salt has raised the leather on your shoes (ie given it a welt), use a bottom end of a spoon and press down on the leather.
Drenched Shoes
If you’ve been going through a downpour, your shoes are probably soaked through. Again, the best care is preventative, so follow the steps above. You can also spray a suede protectant on suede. Suede should be fine in the rain, though I wouldn’t advise using it in the snow.
Once you get home, stuff your shoes with newspaper and lay them on their side (as the soles need to dry the most). You may want to change the paper every few hours just to make it effective. After they’re dry, stick unvarnished cedar shoe trees in them and leave them alone for two days so they can fully recover. Resist any temptation to set them near a heater. Doing so will only dry out and crack the leather.
Mold
If wet clothes or umbrellas aren’t allowed to dry properly, they’re at risk of developing mold. Once mold grows, they can develop a smell that can be very, very difficult to get out.
To prevent this, brush off your jackets or coats with a clothes brush once you get home. I use a separate brush for this from the one I regularly use to clean my clothes. Once the snow or water has been brushed off, hang your garment on a sturdy wooden hanger (ideally with wide shoulders) and leave it in an area with good air circulation.
For umbrellas, gently shake them out a bit, but be careful not to ruin the ribs. Once you’ve gotten most of the snow or water off, leave them completely open and let them dry in a place with good air circulation. Again, don’t set them near heaters, however, as you risk damaging the canopy. Most umbrellas are made with materials that are designed to dry quickly, so this shouldn’t take too long. Once it’s dry, neatly furl the umbrella and store it away.

Dealing with Bad Weather

Every year starts off with a few months of bad weather. First there is snow, then the snow turns to slush, and finally the slush gives way to showers. Depending on where you live, these conditions can put a real beating on your clothes, so it’s good to know how to best take care of them.

Salt Stains on Shoes

The best care is preventative. There are a number of treatments that can give your shoes a superficial layer of protection. Use a thin layer of wax polish on calf leather dress shoes and mink oil lotion on work or hiking boots (you can buy both at most shoe repair shops). Note that you don’t want to use mink oil on dress shoes; if you do, your shoes will never take a proper shine.

For added protection, use a pair of overshoes. Swims makes an attractive flocked version that slips on easily, while Tingley makes a very affordable (albeit less attractive) model. You can read Jesse’s review of Tingley here.

If you’ve picked up salt stains despite these measures, however, you need to treat them as soon as you get home. Mix one part vinegar to two parts water (or half and half for more serious stains). Brush off your shoes with a horsehair brush to remove any dirt, then dab a soft towel in the solution and gently use it to wipe off the stain. Once you’re done, use a clean damp towel to wipe off any vinegar residue. Leave it to dry for 30 minutes and repeat as needed. You want to work through this slowly, patiently, and gently; rubbing too hard can also damage your shoes. Once you’ve gotten the stain out, apply leather conditioner, polish, and wax again so that they’re protected next time you use them.

If the salt has raised the leather on your shoes (ie given it a welt), use a bottom end of a spoon and press down on the leather.

Drenched Shoes

If you’ve been going through a downpour, your shoes are probably soaked through. Again, the best care is preventative, so follow the steps above. You can also spray a suede protectant on suede. Suede should be fine in the rain, though I wouldn’t advise using it in the snow.

Once you get home, stuff your shoes with newspaper and lay them on their side (as the soles need to dry the most). You may want to change the paper every few hours just to make it effective. After they’re dry, stick unvarnished cedar shoe trees in them and leave them alone for two days so they can fully recover. Resist any temptation to set them near a heater. Doing so will only dry out and crack the leather.

Mold

If wet clothes or umbrellas aren’t allowed to dry properly, they’re at risk of developing mold. Once mold grows, they can develop a smell that can be very, very difficult to get out.

To prevent this, brush off your jackets or coats with a clothes brush once you get home. I use a separate brush for this from the one I regularly use to clean my clothes. Once the snow or water has been brushed off, hang your garment on a sturdy wooden hanger (ideally with wide shoulders) and leave it in an area with good air circulation.

For umbrellas, gently shake them out a bit, but be careful not to ruin the ribs. Once you’ve gotten most of the snow or water off, leave them completely open and let them dry in a place with good air circulation. Again, don’t set them near heaters, however, as you risk damaging the canopy. Most umbrellas are made with materials that are designed to dry quickly, so this shouldn’t take too long. Once it’s dry, neatly furl the umbrella and store it away.