Finding a Higher Rise Chino
For the last few months, I’ve been looking for chinos built with a higher rise. As some readers may know, I favor pants that sit higher on the hips, as I find this helps elongate the leg line and gives better proportions between the torso and legs. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find such pants nowadays, as the fashion trend for the last ten years has been for low-rise cuts. After writing a post about my search, however, a few kind readers sent me some good suggestions. 
The first, and I think the best, is from The Armoury. These are made by Ring Jacket, a high-end Japanese company known for their tailored clothing. They sit just below the navel, which is high enough to give the effect you’d want, but low enough so you can wear your chinos without a sport coat. The leg is also nice and slim, and the trousers are lined a bit past the knee. You can see them worn by Mark in the photo above.
The Armory’s chinos cost $370, which is pricey, but the pants are exceptionally well built. They’re not available on the website, so you’ll have to email or call them to order. 
A bit more affordable are the ones from J. Press, which were recommended to me by Bruce Boyer. These are fuller in the leg and sit higher on the waist. I think these are some of the nicest traditionally cut trousers I’ve ever come across, but the higher-waisted cut does mean you should probably wear them with sport coats. If you plan to, the price here starts at $120, but there are occasional seasonal sales that will drop them down by 25%. 
More affordable still is Jack Donnelly’s Dalton chinos, which come in both a slim and traditional cut. The slim is more like The Armoury’s, while the traditional is more like J Press’. The difference is that the fabric isn’t as nice, the fit not as clean (at least on me), and the finishing inside is a bit rough (almost unusually so, actually). On the upside, they’re $95 and they have a very nice return policy, so trying them out is more or less risk-free. 
A couple of other good ideas were sent to me. Bill Khaki’s M2 model is a favorite for many people, and some recommended the custom chinos at J. Hilburn and Luxire. Luxire can copy an existing pair of pants for you, which is nice if you’re wary of the made-to-measure process. One reader also recommended these Blackbird chinos, though they’re on final sale, and thus not returnable.
(Photo above by The Armoury)

Finding a Higher Rise Chino

For the last few months, I’ve been looking for chinos built with a higher rise. As some readers may know, I favor pants that sit higher on the hips, as I find this helps elongate the leg line and gives better proportions between the torso and legs. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find such pants nowadays, as the fashion trend for the last ten years has been for low-rise cuts. After writing a post about my search, however, a few kind readers sent me some good suggestions. 

The first, and I think the best, is from The Armoury. These are made by Ring Jacket, a high-end Japanese company known for their tailored clothing. They sit just below the navel, which is high enough to give the effect you’d want, but low enough so you can wear your chinos without a sport coat. The leg is also nice and slim, and the trousers are lined a bit past the knee. You can see them worn by Mark in the photo above.

The Armory’s chinos cost $370, which is pricey, but the pants are exceptionally well built. They’re not available on the website, so you’ll have to email or call them to order. 

A bit more affordable are the ones from J. Press, which were recommended to me by Bruce Boyer. These are fuller in the leg and sit higher on the waist. I think these are some of the nicest traditionally cut trousers I’ve ever come across, but the higher-waisted cut does mean you should probably wear them with sport coats. If you plan to, the price here starts at $120, but there are occasional seasonal sales that will drop them down by 25%. 

More affordable still is Jack Donnelly’s Dalton chinos, which come in both a slim and traditional cut. The slim is more like The Armoury’s, while the traditional is more like J Press’. The difference is that the fabric isn’t as nice, the fit not as clean (at least on me), and the finishing inside is a bit rough (almost unusually so, actually). On the upside, they’re $95 and they have a very nice return policy, so trying them out is more or less risk-free. 

A couple of other good ideas were sent to me. Bill Khaki’s M2 model is a favorite for many people, and some recommended the custom chinos at J. Hilburn and Luxire. Luxire can copy an existing pair of pants for you, which is nice if you’re wary of the made-to-measure process. One reader also recommended these Blackbird chinos, though they’re on final sale, and thus not returnable.

(Photo above by The Armoury)

A Simple Summer Look
I love this Apparel Arts illustration. I found it last year on an online men’s clothing forum, and put it in my head to try to find similar pieces. Unfortunately, by the time I did, summer had already passed. This year, however, I’ll be wearing this on more than a few occasions once the weather gets hot (though, I’ll probably leave the ascot and pipe to more dashing men).
The great thing about this is how stylish it looks with just a few simple pieces. To get something like this for yourself, consider this long-sleeved polo from Kent Wang. Though not technically the same as what you see above, I think long sleeves rolled up look better than short ones. I also find that long sleeved polos have the advantage of being able to do double duty underneath sport coats. They show the bit of requisite shirt cuff underneath the jacket sleeve, and ensure that no bare wrists will be exposed when you move your arms. If you want something sportier, however, Kent has a number of short sleeve options as well.
The upside to Kent’s polos is that they have a few “button up shirt details” that make them look a bit smarter than your average tennis shirt. The collar band, for example, is reinforced, so the collar doesn’t flop down and lay flat against your shoulder (like you’d see on most polos). The downside, however, is that they fit very slim and the sleeves can be a bit tight. Kent has measurements posted though, and he accepts returns.
For other options, Jesse has recommended Lands’ End. I also really like this new polo at The Armoury, which I believe was made for them by Ascot Chang. To order one, you’ll have to call or email their store (expect the price to be higher than either Kent’s or Lands’ End).
Tan trousers are harder to find. For mine, I bought a pair of flannel ones from Howard Yount, but they’re sold out now and won’t be restocking until fall. Flannel has a bit of richness and mottling that’ll help keep this from looking like a Best Buy employee uniform. You can find something similar at the moment at O’Connell’s and J Press, the second of which is having a sale right now. And though they’re not tan, these Pantas look fantastic. Their prices aren’t cheap, but their pants are some of the highest quality you’ll find in the ready-to-wear market.  
Finally, for the creped-soled shoes, consider some of the options I mentioned a few weeks ago. I think pair of sueded, dark brown chukkas with rubber crepe soles here would look great.

A Simple Summer Look

I love this Apparel Arts illustration. I found it last year on an online men’s clothing forum, and put it in my head to try to find similar pieces. Unfortunately, by the time I did, summer had already passed. This year, however, I’ll be wearing this on more than a few occasions once the weather gets hot (though, I’ll probably leave the ascot and pipe to more dashing men).

The great thing about this is how stylish it looks with just a few simple pieces. To get something like this for yourself, consider this long-sleeved polo from Kent Wang. Though not technically the same as what you see above, I think long sleeves rolled up look better than short ones. I also find that long sleeved polos have the advantage of being able to do double duty underneath sport coats. They show the bit of requisite shirt cuff underneath the jacket sleeve, and ensure that no bare wrists will be exposed when you move your arms. If you want something sportier, however, Kent has a number of short sleeve options as well.

The upside to Kent’s polos is that they have a few “button up shirt details” that make them look a bit smarter than your average tennis shirt. The collar band, for example, is reinforced, so the collar doesn’t flop down and lay flat against your shoulder (like you’d see on most polos). The downside, however, is that they fit very slim and the sleeves can be a bit tight. Kent has measurements posted though, and he accepts returns.

For other options, Jesse has recommended Lands’ End. I also really like this new polo at The Armoury, which I believe was made for them by Ascot Chang. To order one, you’ll have to call or email their store (expect the price to be higher than either Kent’s or Lands’ End).

Tan trousers are harder to find. For mine, I bought a pair of flannel ones from Howard Yount, but they’re sold out now and won’t be restocking until fall. Flannel has a bit of richness and mottling that’ll help keep this from looking like a Best Buy employee uniform. You can find something similar at the moment at O’Connell’s and J Press, the second of which is having a sale right now. And though they’re not tan, these Pantas look fantastic. Their prices aren’t cheap, but their pants are some of the highest quality you’ll find in the ready-to-wear market.  

Finally, for the creped-soled shoes, consider some of the options I mentioned a few weeks ago. I think pair of sueded, dark brown chukkas with rubber crepe soles here would look great.

Start With a Good Cloth
I love this photo by Ethan Desu. It reminds me that at their foundation, all nice garments begin with a good cloth. The man pictured here is Taka from Liverano & Liverano, a bespoke tailoring house in Florence, Italy. His clothes are fairly simple – a navy sport coat, blue shirt, and a burgundy silk tie with medallions printed on it – but what makes them beautiful is how rich and handsome the fabrics look. The slightly fuzzy nap and barely discernible twill lines on the jacket, which is made from a vintage Harris Tweed, are especially appealing.
If you take the time to sample enough cloth, and pay attention to what you feel, you’ll soon be able to discern the quality of a fabric the moment you touch it. Good wools, for example, will feel lively and rich in the hand. If you pinch them between your index finger and thumb, they’ll easily roll and sometimes even feel a bit springy. Bad wool, on the other hand, will feel flat, lifeless, and might even be a bit crushable. Bad cottons will also feel a bit “paper-y.” More than these “tests” though, you should always go with your gut, emotive reaction. A good cloth will always look and feel beautiful, while a bad cloth will be dull and uninteresting. In some ways, it’s as simple as that.
The online community of men’s style enthusiasts loves to obsess over details that most people won’t notice. I’m not saying a garment’s design isn’t important, but at their core, a beautiful garment starts with a good cloth and a nice cut. Considerations such as patch vs. welted pockets come after. 
(Photo from ethandesu)

Start With a Good Cloth

I love this photo by Ethan Desu. It reminds me that at their foundation, all nice garments begin with a good cloth. The man pictured here is Taka from Liverano & Liverano, a bespoke tailoring house in Florence, Italy. His clothes are fairly simple – a navy sport coat, blue shirt, and a burgundy silk tie with medallions printed on it – but what makes them beautiful is how rich and handsome the fabrics look. The slightly fuzzy nap and barely discernible twill lines on the jacket, which is made from a vintage Harris Tweed, are especially appealing.

If you take the time to sample enough cloth, and pay attention to what you feel, you’ll soon be able to discern the quality of a fabric the moment you touch it. Good wools, for example, will feel lively and rich in the hand. If you pinch them between your index finger and thumb, they’ll easily roll and sometimes even feel a bit springy. Bad wool, on the other hand, will feel flat, lifeless, and might even be a bit crushable. Bad cottons will also feel a bit “paper-y.” More than these “tests” though, you should always go with your gut, emotive reaction. A good cloth will always look and feel beautiful, while a bad cloth will be dull and uninteresting. In some ways, it’s as simple as that.

The online community of men’s style enthusiasts loves to obsess over details that most people won’t notice. I’m not saying a garment’s design isn’t important, but at their core, a beautiful garment starts with a good cloth and a nice cut. Considerations such as patch vs. welted pockets come after. 

(Photo from ethandesu)

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