Grey and Tan

Some colors will always look good together - a rich navy with mid-grey; a chocolate brown with racing green; or a mid-grey with tan, as show above. On the left is an illustration from a 1937 edition of Esquire. One of the men here is shown combining a grey single breasted suit, most likely constructed from flannel or a tropical worsted, with an ivory shirt, a brown and tan checked foulard tie, and brown shoes. A cream Panama hat up top could finish the look. On the right, Mark Cho of The Armoury is wearing a lightly checked grey double breasted suit with a tan shantung silk tie. The white pocket square underscores his white shirt nicely. 

Whether it’s in the 1930s or today, grey suitings and tan fittings will always look right together. 

(Above photo by Mark Cho. Which, as my friend would put it, makes this Mark by Mark Cho)

abitofcolor:

Will of A Suitable Wardrobe with Mark Cho of the Armoury at the Styleforum Showcase

Two of menswear’s sharpest tacks.

abitofcolor:

Will of A Suitable Wardrobe with Mark Cho of the Armoury at the Styleforum Showcase

Two of menswear’s sharpest tacks.

Talking to The Armoury About Trousers

I recently talked to Mark Cho and Ethan Desu, two of the three men who run The Armoury, about one of my favorite men’s style topics: trousers. Both Mark and Ethan style and fit men of different builds for a living, so I thought it would be worthwhile to ask them what they think flatters men the most. We talked about three aspects: the height of the rise, style of the fronts, and fullness of the legs.

For the height of the rise, Mark has found that almost all men (with the exception of those who are lanky) look better in a high waist. By “high waist” he means something that either sits at, or just below, the belly button. “We deal with many Asian men who often have longer torsos and shorter legs,” Mark noted. “A high-waisted trouser does wonders for them. It is pretty rare that we recommend a low-waisted trouser, but often customers will prefer it for fashion reasons.”

As for the style of the fronts, a man can choose either flat fronts or pleats. Which is best depends on his overall size, total height, and proportions above and below the belt, as well as the thickness of his legs, shape of his stomach, and size of his posterior. Depending on these configurations, pleats can serve a number of purposes. They can break up an otherwise flat expanse of fabric at the front of the trouser, add comfort, and put a bit of fullness around and in front of the thighs. A corpulent man, for example, may need a fuller leg, and pleats would not only give him some room, but also visually break up the flat, empty cloth at the front of his body. 

In general, Mark recommends a flat front or single pleat for men with flat seats, and flat fronts, single pleats, or even double pleats for those with rounder ones. As the number of pleats increases, the fullness of the legs should also increase in order to maintain a balance.

At the same time, Ethan added, fit is everything. He’s a slightly bigger guy with big legs and a big seat, but a reasonably flat stomach. He wears everything from flat fronts to single- or double-forward pleats, as well as single- or double-reverse pleats. He finds that they all have their advantages. “If trousers are well fitted,” he said, “all styles can look good. Anything that doesn’t probably has more to do with the fit than style.” 

Finally, as to how full the trousers’ legs may be, the gentlemen at The Armoury are fairly open to any size, as long it makes sense. While they dislike tight trousers, they find that a nicely tapered leg with no break can work on the right frame, and a full leg can be good as well. It just has to make sense on the person. They personally prefer something with a bit of shape in the leg rather than something that is narrow and goes straight down. That means a small curvature in the taper, and a nice cinch to the waist above the buttocks.

These days, as I near my mid-30s, I like my trousers to have a high-waist, very slight taper, one break, and slim, but somewhat full legs. Luciano Barbera and Ethan Desu, pictured above, illustrate this style well. I find that anything narrower and lower-waisted exaggerates the size of my feet, length of my torso, and width of my hips. Of course, this is just what I’ve been finding works well for my build. In choosing something for yourself, I recommend you refer to the more generalized guidelines above and remember to pay attention to proportions, as well as what flatters. 

(Photos by The Sartorialist and Ethan Desu)

If you can get to Los Angeles, LeatherSoul and The Armoury are hosting a screening of O’Mast, the documentary film about the culture and tailoring of Naples. The screening starts at 8pm, and afterwards there will be a Q&A with the director, as well as a cocktail reception. I strongly recommend going, if you can make it. It’s a chance to see a great film and enjoy a nice social event! 
Tickets are $10. You can also own a copy of the DVD for $30. 

If you can get to Los Angeles, LeatherSoul and The Armoury are hosting a screening of O’Mast, the documentary film about the culture and tailoring of Naples. The screening starts at 8pm, and afterwards there will be a Q&A with the director, as well as a cocktail reception. I strongly recommend going, if you can make it. It’s a chance to see a great film and enjoy a nice social event! 

Tickets are $10. You can also own a copy of the DVD for $30

Excellent advice below from Ethan Desu. Although Ethan noted it, it’s worth emphasizing that grey trousers, blue jackets, and brown suede shoes don’t have to be reduced to a uniform. There are a near infinite number of possibilities once you consider the different shades of blue, grey, and brown; the different weaves fabrics come in (e.g. flannel, nailhead, tropical wool); and the various styles clothes can be made into (e.g. single vs. double breasted, oxford shoes vs. derbies, pleated vs. plain front, etc). 

Add in the task of buying things in the best materials and construction you can afford, and focusing on fit (can’t be emphasized enough), and you have at least one sure-fire way of looking smart. 

ethandesu:

Classic Combination

Alan and I have a long running joke - and like most jokes it is firmly rooted in a real desire to do so - that we should open a new store where we only sell variations of grey trousers, blue jackets and brown suede shoes.

I am, as I write this, in light grey Crispaire trousers from Ambrosi, a Dormeuil Tonik jacket in a vibrant junior navy, made by Liverano, and rich mid brown suede oxfords from Saint Crispin’s. While for many, a grey suit is their comfort clothes to face any situation in, for me this is it.

The beauty of this combination for me is that it can be a louche and effortless as jeans and a white tee, or as proper as a double breasted. With dark flannels and a rich navy twill, it has stroller like formality, but in a light grey fresco, blue linen and snuff suede sans socks it is perfect weekend dinner attire in the summer. The number of variations I have of this very combo is telling.

Who knows, maybe there is a pop-up concept in there - a new uniform for The Armoury.

Brown Suede Split Toes by Koji Suzuki for Spigola

Snuff Suede Single Monks by Carmina

(Re)consider Buff

Ethan Desu recently took some wonderful photos of his colleagues at The Armoury and they reminded me of a post I wrote last month. Here we see his colleagues wearing buff-colored ties against their soft brown and grey suits. The color is more unique than your standard navy, brown, and burgundies, so they help attract just a little more attention. However, everything harmonizes quite well. Nothing stands out too loudly on its own and everything is pulled together very elegantly. As a result of having a slightly more unique tie set along gentle and conservative ensembles, the men here look a bit more rakish but still remain tasteful. 

What a wonderful color for a tie. 

Photo credit: Ethan Desu

O’Mast Screening and DVD

O’Mast will be having its first screening this Wednesday, November 30th, at New York University’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. The building is located at 24 West 12th Street in New York City. The event starts at 6 PM and seating is on a first come, first serve basis. I recommend getting there a little bit early. 

The director of the film, Gianluca Migliarotti, will be in attendance, as will Mark Cho of The Armoury and Drake’s. I’ve been told that The Armoury will be the exclusive retailer for the DVD, and that it will be available for Christmas delivery. 

* Special thanks to Gianluca Migliarotti for cutting the above teaser clip for us. Mr. Migliarotti will be working with Jesse and the team in Milan for Season Two of Put This On’s video series, so be on the watch for that!

The Color Purple

Most men rely on standard colors for their wardrobe - blues, greys, and browns, in various shades and textures. These are good foundational colors since they’re easy to wear and complement each other well. However, only relying on these colors get a bit boring, and eventually cease to excite the eye. As such, it’s good to have a few secondary colors in your wardrobe just to break things up a bit. Salmon pink, hunter green, and bordeaux are all very nice, but today I’ll talk about purple. 

Purple can make a statement since it’s a unique color. However, it’s so closely related to blue that it can also feel familiar and sophisticated. Purple is also much more versatile than men give it credit for. It complements many of the standard colors men wear and serves a good substitute for blue. For example, a dark, deep purple tie goes well with a tan jacket and light blue shirt, and can be used any time you would otherwise wear a navy tie (though the conservativeness of navy can make it more useful). 

I also recommend purple socks. Michael Drake, co-founder of Drake’s of London, wears them as a personal signature of eccentricity. This past summer, I often wore purple socks with light blue shirts and pants in either a grey tropical wool or tan linen (first picture above). I’ve found that this ensemble goes especially well with brown suede shoes. 

Hardy Amies once said of purple, “I can see no use for this handsome, not unmasculine colour except for ties, socks and handkerchiefs.” I, however, think it can be used for more than accessories. For example, lavender shirts go quite well underneath navy or tan suits. You can pair it with a conservative, charcoal tie, and then have a secondary color in the tie pick up the lavender in your shirt or the color of your suit. This practice seems to be common in Moscow. From my observation, one in six men here on the street will be wearing a lavender shirt, and it always looks good (assuming the shirt fits well). 

The standard palette of grey, brown, and blue is a nice foundation, but don’t neglect to have some secondary colors here or there. Purple works with a number of colors and wearing it well can add variety into your wardrobe. Just don’t overdo it. Wearing too much of it will make you look like Barney, and doing things such as matching purple socks to purple ties will make you look too studied. Purple, in my opinion, should be worn with a healthy dose of nonchalance. 

(pictures above taken from Ethan Desu, A Bit of Color, Men of Habit, and me)