It’s On Sale: TM Lewin Shirts

If you’ve never ordered from TM Lewin before, they’re offering a 10% discount on your whole order with the checkout code FIRST. The percentage doesn’t sound like much, but given the company’s already aggressive pricing, this could be a great opportunity to pick up some dress shirts. Their regular price is four for $160, but with the coupon code, that gets dropped to $144 (so $36 per shirt). Shipping is free. 

I particularly like the company’s slim fit models. If the cut is the same as it was many years ago, it should be slimmer than Brooks Brothers’ slim fit, but not as slim as Brooks’ extra slim (I think this is a good thing). They’re perhaps best compared to Ralph Lauren’s “custom fit.” For their price point, these would be hard to beat. 

Pictured above: TM Lewin’s slim fit dress shirts in blue oxford, white twill, blue Bengal stripe, and blue gingham

Real People: Dressing Down a Suit

Open any men’s fashion magazine nowadays and you can read about the 101 ways to dress down a suit. The problem is, the suit is more often than not a sober looking garment, so when you try to “dress it down,” it can be like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. A safer way to dress down a suit is to simply get a more casual suit. Instead of one made from a smooth, worsted wool, try something in cotton, linen, corduroy, or even tweed. That way, your suit is inherently more casual, and you won’t have to awkwardly try to pull back its formality with some unusual accessory.

That does require buying a separate suit for casual occasions, however, which can get expensive (especially once you factor in seasonal fabrics). If you want to try to dress down a standard business suit, try pairing one with a softly colored pastel shirt, perhaps something in pink, lavender, or sea green. Any of those will be more casual than your standard solid whites or light blues, and can help both soften the edge of a suit while also enlivening its look. If need be, you can dress it down further with some casual footwear, such as tassel loafers or something made from suede. Our friend Niyi in New York City shows how well can look above.

You can get pastel colored shirts at any number of places these days. Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers are good starts, so long as you stay away from the ones with embroidered logos. Our advertiser Ledbury has a lime green one in their “short run shirts” section until the end of today. If you want something custom made, I can recommend Ascot Chang. They have offices in New York City and Los Angeles, although they also tour throughout the United States to meet clients (I meet them in San Francisco twice a year). They do great work, but being bespoke, they are a bit pricey. For something more affordable, but custom, there’s Cottonwork and our advertiser Proper Cloth. For something affordable, but ready to wear, there’s TM Lewin and Thin Red Line.

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)

Six Great Types of Shirts for Fall

For nearly a century now, the most basic dress shirt for men is a solid white or light-blue button-up, made from 100% cotton, and usually coming in a plain or twill weave. It’s the default choice for dress shirts – something you can rely on year-round to look decent and acceptable, and is very rarely the wrong choice, assuming you’re dressing classically. 

There are times, however, when choosing something a bit different can yield a more harmonious look. Take, for example, the advantage of combining an airy, light-blue linen shirt with a tan cotton sport coat. The two textures are equally casual, and together, they lend a better presentation for summer. Similarly, a fine cotton dress shirt can look puny when set against a hardy Shetland tweed or mid-waled corduroy jacket. Better to pick something with more texture and “weight,” such as these following options, which I think make for excellent fall and winter shirts.

Flannels 

At the top of the list are flannels, which can come in a variety of forms. They can be solid or patterned (if patterned, usually checked), and made from either a softly brushed pure cotton or some kind of wool/ cotton blend. Viyella is particularly famous for their flannel shirtings (the word “shirtings” means “fabrics intended for shirts;” it is not a synonym for the word “shirts”). You can find them at a number of places, such as Dann Online, J. Press, and O’Connell’s. I unfortunately can’t say how any of those fit, but my guess is “traditional.” If you have a custom shirtmaker, they may also carry Viyella fabrics, which you can ask for by name.

Bold cotton plaids

Bold cotton plaids are different from flannels in that they don’t have that soft, brushed quality. They’re smooth like a fine cotton dress shirt, but remain a bit more autumnal through their patterns. Our advertiser Ledbury carries some through their short-run collection (they’ve got more coming down the pipeline, as they’re releasing a new short-run shirt every day this month). Brooks Brothers also has some designs, though mostly in non-iron fabrics, and Gant Rugger might be a good option for younger men. For something more affordable, there’s J. Crew. Just wait for one of their many sales. 

Tattersalls

Tattersalls are symmetrical, thin-lined checks, usually made up of two colors for the lines and a plain-colored background. I find they’re a nice compromise between the dressiness of a standard dress shirt and the casualness of a bold cotton plaid. For something dressier still, you can go for a graph check shirt, which is exactly what it sounds like – a shirt with a pattern that looks like graph paper. Either would do well underneath a tweed or corduroy jacket, and you can find them at places such as Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, and TM Lewin.

Oxford Cloth Button-Downs (aka OCBDs)

OCBDs are versatile enough for year-round wear, but also have the weight and texture necessary to look great underneath fall jackets. What’s not to like? You can read my long-winded series about them here, or just skip to my recommendations.

Chambray

Another good year-round shirt that really comes into its own during the fall and winter seasons. You can find nice high-end options at Self Edge, Rising Sun, and Blue in Green. Mr. Porter also has some designer offerings, and J. Crew is again good for something more affordable (just wait for a sale). My favorite, however, is by Mister Freedom. I appreciate the emphasis they put into beautiful fabrics, and have found mine to age exceptionally well. When choosing one, keep in mind the kind of outerwear you might want to wear. Very casual chambray shirts with extra detailing should be kept with very casual outerwear, rather than traditional sport coats. 

Corduroys

Corduroy shirts are less versatile than any of the above options, but they’re nice to have if you’d like some more variety. Our advertiser Ledbury has one in brown coming out this month (it’s pictured above) and I like that it has a traditional looking collar and lowered second button (good for when you’re wearing the shirt casually and don’t want it buttoned all the way up). For something available now, there’s Michael Bastian, Beams Plus, and LL Bean.

It’s On Sale: TM Lewin Shirts

I was just taking a look at TM Lewin’s clearance section and admiring how many good, basic shirts are available for $32 a piece. In slim fit, barrel cuff options alone, there are:

  • Dress stripes in dark and medium blue. These would go well with solid colored jackets, just to help break up the monotony. 
  • Solid blue shirts in 100% cotton and a cotton/ linen blend. The second has the advantage of being a bit more breathable during the summer, but has a little bit of cotton in case you don’t want to go full-wrinkle. 
  • Some casual shirts in a blue/ pink stripe and a light blue gingham. Depending on how casual your work environment is, you could also wear these to the office. 

I’ve bought TM Lewin shirts in the past and think they’re a great value for the money. If you get them and don’t like them, they have a pretty easy return policy, where they pay for the return shipping. 

Note, you have to buy four shirts in order to take advantage of the $32 price. Otherwise, these run $39 a piece. Be sure to budget $15 or so for tailoring, as almost everything off-the-rack - especially shirts, suits, and sport coats - needs a bit of alterations after-purchase. 

Three Mid-Season Sales

A few mid-season sales worth mentioning:

The first is at Ralph Lauren, who’s having a "private sale" event with discounts of up to 40% off. If you shop before May 2nd, when the sale goes public, you can also get an extra 15% off at checkout. I particularly like the dark brown loafers you see above, which come in at about $300 after discounts. 

The second is at TM Lewin, who is having a “five shirts for $160” promotion (thus putting shirts at $32 a piece). I recommend their slim fit. It’s neither skinny nor full, and it’s tough to find a better shirt at that price point. This is a great option if you’re on a budget, especially if you need to build a work-appropriate wardrobe quickly. 

Finally, Brooks Brothers is having their Friends and Family sale from May 8th until May 11th. You can expect discounts of about 25%, with some exclusions (shell cordovan shoes and Edward Greens are usually not included in these sales). This might be a good time to pick up some of their oxford cloth button down shirts, if you’ve found that they fit you well. 

Getting a Good Mac
It rained all day in the Bay Area yesterday, which reminded me that spring showers are just around the corner. Soon, many of us will be reaching for the necessary outerwear to keep ourselves dry - waxed cotton Barbours, mountain parkas (which Heavy Tweed Jacket had a great article on, by the way), and heavy wool dress coats. Some of my favorites, however, include things specially designed for the rain. That is, a classic men’s trench or single breasted mac. These are arguably less versatile than the aforementioned options, as you can wear those even when it’s not raining, but I find there’s something very masculine and sophisticated about a classic men’s raincoat. As Sydney J. Harris once said in the Chicago Daily News, “Almost every man looks more so in a belted trench coat.”
In the last year, I’ve been on the search for a simple, single-breasted mac, which differs from a trench in that it doesn’t have the militaristic details of D-rings, epaulettes, and storm flaps. The one I landed on is by Mackintosh, who’s famous for making macs in a specialized bonded fabric. The cloth is heavy and not terribly breathable, which perhaps makes it less ideal for summer flash storms. On the upside, however, I think the stiffer material makes for a nice silhouette, and the overall construction is very high. They have three models: the traditional Duncan, the slim fit Dunoon, and the slim fit, but slightly longer cut, Dunkeld (which is what I have). I strongly favor longer raincoats, as I think they’re more elegant and masculine than the trendier cropped variety. Their slim fits are fairly slim, however, and it’s necessary to size up if you plan to wear a sport coat or chunky sweater underneath. 
A bit more affordable are those from Aquascutum, who I also think makes wonderful raincoats. Of those, they have four macs: two traditionally cut versions (the full-length Filey and mid-length Broadgate) and two slim fits (the Slim Broadgate and raglan sleeved Sheerwater). All are exceptionally nice, especially if you could find one with a liner. That gives the fabric a bit more heft, which in my opinion, translates to a better looking drape.  
Another company I came across was Sanyo, a Japanese brand making headway into the United States. They have near a dozen models, but most are made from a polyester or polyester blend. This gives them a certain sheen that I think is less appealing than a traditional cotton or wool gabardine (a type of fabric that’s very tightly woven). They do have some very handsome wool raincoats though, and many are sold in places that hold deep sales (e.g. Nordstroms). Finally, I like TM Lewin’s. Theirs is a bit shorter than some of the other options mentioned, but the construction is decent for the price (at least on sale). The fabric is also a weatherproof cotton, so it doesn’t have any sheen.
Of course, as it goes with most men’s coats, macs tend to be highly expensive new, so you’ll want to wait until they go on deep discount. Perhaps best of all, however, is the second-hand market. Many of the better companies – such as Burberry, Aquascutum, and Mackintosh – make near indestructible garments, and these will often long outlive their owners. At some point, such coats will make their way into thrift stores, community centers, and eBay, where folks can pick them up for pennies on the dollar. Just search around to find something that’ll fit you. 
(Pictured above: George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

Getting a Good Mac

It rained all day in the Bay Area yesterday, which reminded me that spring showers are just around the corner. Soon, many of us will be reaching for the necessary outerwear to keep ourselves dry - waxed cotton Barbours, mountain parkas (which Heavy Tweed Jacket had a great article on, by the way), and heavy wool dress coats. Some of my favorites, however, include things specially designed for the rain. That is, a classic men’s trench or single breasted mac. These are arguably less versatile than the aforementioned options, as you can wear those even when it’s not raining, but I find there’s something very masculine and sophisticated about a classic men’s raincoat. As Sydney J. Harris once said in the Chicago Daily News, “Almost every man looks more so in a belted trench coat.”

In the last year, I’ve been on the search for a simple, single-breasted mac, which differs from a trench in that it doesn’t have the militaristic details of D-rings, epaulettes, and storm flaps. The one I landed on is by Mackintosh, who’s famous for making macs in a specialized bonded fabric. The cloth is heavy and not terribly breathable, which perhaps makes it less ideal for summer flash storms. On the upside, however, I think the stiffer material makes for a nice silhouette, and the overall construction is very high. They have three models: the traditional Duncan, the slim fit Dunoon, and the slim fit, but slightly longer cut, Dunkeld (which is what I have). I strongly favor longer raincoats, as I think they’re more elegant and masculine than the trendier cropped variety. Their slim fits are fairly slim, however, and it’s necessary to size up if you plan to wear a sport coat or chunky sweater underneath. 

A bit more affordable are those from Aquascutum, who I also think makes wonderful raincoats. Of those, they have four macs: two traditionally cut versions (the full-length Filey and mid-length Broadgate) and two slim fits (the Slim Broadgate and raglan sleeved Sheerwater). All are exceptionally nice, especially if you could find one with a liner. That gives the fabric a bit more heft, which in my opinion, translates to a better looking drape.  

Another company I came across was Sanyo, a Japanese brand making headway into the United States. They have near a dozen models, but most are made from a polyester or polyester blend. This gives them a certain sheen that I think is less appealing than a traditional cotton or wool gabardine (a type of fabric that’s very tightly woven). They do have some very handsome wool raincoats though, and many are sold in places that hold deep sales (e.g. Nordstroms). Finally, I like TM Lewin’s. Theirs is a bit shorter than some of the other options mentioned, but the construction is decent for the price (at least on sale). The fabric is also a weatherproof cotton, so it doesn’t have any sheen.

Of course, as it goes with most men’s coats, macs tend to be highly expensive new, so you’ll want to wait until they go on deep discount. Perhaps best of all, however, is the second-hand market. Many of the better companies – such as Burberry, Aquascutum, and Mackintosh – make near indestructible garments, and these will often long outlive their owners. At some point, such coats will make their way into thrift stores, community centers, and eBay, where folks can pick them up for pennies on the dollar. Just search around to find something that’ll fit you. 

(Pictured above: George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

It’s On Sale: T.M. Lewin and Charles Tyrwhitt Dress Shirts

If you need to stock up on dress shirts, then you’ll want to check out T.M. Lewin’s clearance sale right now where they’re offering 4 shirts for $144, which comes to $36 per shirt. Please note though that it only applies to certain styles (it’ll say so under the shirt’s thumbnail on the site). You should also note there are three types of sizing on the shirts, too — including a slim fit.

And at Charles Tyrwhitt, shirts are as low as $30 on sale right now with an even larger selection up to $35. They also have three different fits to pick from. Plus, you get an extra $10 off when you spend $75 or more. 

-Kiyoshi

It’s On Sale: TM Lewin Shirts

British shirtmaker TM Lewin is having a sale: 5 shirts for $160. That puts them at about $32 per shirt, which isn’t too shabby. 

From my experience, their “slim fits” fit reasonably well - slim enough to be flatting, but not so tight that they’d be inappropriate for a business environment. Of their slim fit selection, they have some basic white and light blue twill cottons, as well as some striped options, such as these in navy and blue. I’d just stay away from the non-iron varieties. I haven’t handled TM Lewin’s non-irons, but all the ones I’ve seen stateside have a strange sheen to them.  

Addendum: Apparently US customers can order directly from TM Lewin’s US site. I’ve updated the links. Also, they’re offering an additional 15% off with the coupon code BLKFRI. The coupon ends Monday.

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.)