Consider the Silk Scarf
If you’re wearing a wool coat this winter, consider pairing it with a silk scarf. Silk scarves aren’t as versatile as ones made from cashmere or lambswool, but they look amazing when worn with heavy dress coats. By that I mean things such as polo coats, Ulster coats, and Chesterfields – the kinds of things that you sometimes see labeled as “dress outerwear” in places such as Brooks Brothers. It’s just another way of saying outerwear that’s dressier than things such as parkas and leather bomber jackets.
A silk scarf can really soften up the look of a heavy wool coat. See Noel Coward above or Gordon Gekko in this scene from the movie Wall Street. In both cases, their scarves in lend a nice sheen to an otherwise matte ensemble. It’s not unlike how we use silk ties and polished shoes to counterbalance the flatness of a wool sport coat or woolen trousers. As I wrote earlier this year, I believe a lot of what it means to dress well is learning how to strike a balance between different elements of what you’re wearing (patterns, texture, hardness/ softness, sheen/ flatness, etc). Light silk scarves do that well with heavy wool coats, so long as the coat is as dressy as the scarf.
There are a few places to buy a silk scarf. My favorite is Drake’s, who sells them in a few different designs. I have two of their reversible dotted tubular scarves – one in navy and one in brown – which kind of look like this, but without the fringed ends. A navy dotted silk scarf is arguably the most versatile version you can buy, though I like my brown one for when I wear navy coats. The difference in color helps distinguish it from the rest of what I’m wearing.
You can also pick some up from traditional men’s haberdashers, such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Paul Stuart, and A Suitable Wardrobe. Additionally, San Francisco’s Wingtip stocks Edward Armah silk scarves, as well as a few under their own house label. You can also buy Edward Armah’s scarves directly from Edward Armah themselves.
Admittedly, all those are quite expensive. You could wait for them to go on sale, but they’ll still be on the pricey side. Alternatively, KJ Beckett sells silk scarves by Michelsons of London (also available through the manufacturer themselves), but I have no first hand experience with their products, so I can’t speak about their quality. You can also try eBay. This seller, for example, regularly stocks them, but his/ her scarves are often short and narrow. That’ll limit how you can wear the scarf. You may be able to get away with wearing it like a muffler underneath your buttoned up coat, but it may look silly if you try anything else. Better if you can get something 64” or longer, but those will typically cost you considerably more. 

Consider the Silk Scarf

If you’re wearing a wool coat this winter, consider pairing it with a silk scarf. Silk scarves aren’t as versatile as ones made from cashmere or lambswool, but they look amazing when worn with heavy dress coats. By that I mean things such as polo coats, Ulster coats, and Chesterfields – the kinds of things that you sometimes see labeled as “dress outerwear” in places such as Brooks Brothers. It’s just another way of saying outerwear that’s dressier than things such as parkas and leather bomber jackets.

A silk scarf can really soften up the look of a heavy wool coat. See Noel Coward above or Gordon Gekko in this scene from the movie Wall Street. In both cases, their scarves in lend a nice sheen to an otherwise matte ensemble. It’s not unlike how we use silk ties and polished shoes to counterbalance the flatness of a wool sport coat or woolen trousers. As I wrote earlier this year, I believe a lot of what it means to dress well is learning how to strike a balance between different elements of what you’re wearing (patterns, texture, hardness/ softness, sheen/ flatness, etc). Light silk scarves do that well with heavy wool coats, so long as the coat is as dressy as the scarf.

There are a few places to buy a silk scarf. My favorite is Drake’s, who sells them in a few different designs. I have two of their reversible dotted tubular scarves – one in navy and one in brown – which kind of look like this, but without the fringed ends. A navy dotted silk scarf is arguably the most versatile version you can buy, though I like my brown one for when I wear navy coats. The difference in color helps distinguish it from the rest of what I’m wearing.

You can also pick some up from traditional men’s haberdashers, such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Paul Stuart, and A Suitable Wardrobe. Additionally, San Francisco’s Wingtip stocks Edward Armah silk scarves, as well as a few under their own house label. You can also buy Edward Armah’s scarves directly from Edward Armah themselves.

Admittedly, all those are quite expensive. You could wait for them to go on sale, but they’ll still be on the pricey side. Alternatively, KJ Beckett sells silk scarves by Michelsons of London (also available through the manufacturer themselves), but I have no first hand experience with their products, so I can’t speak about their quality. You can also try eBay. This seller, for example, regularly stocks them, but his/ her scarves are often short and narrow. That’ll limit how you can wear the scarf. You may be able to get away with wearing it like a muffler underneath your buttoned up coat, but it may look silly if you try anything else. Better if you can get something 64” or longer, but those will typically cost you considerably more. 

Put This On: A Conversation with Alan Flusser

In this special micro-episode of Put This On, we present a conversation with menswear expert Alan Flusser. Flusser has written the seminal contemporary American texts on getting dressed: Style & the Man and Dressing the Man. He’s also helped create a menswear iPhone app called BeSpeak. He runs Alan Flusser Custom in Manhattan, and famously dressed Michael Douglas for the film Wall Street. While Alan’s worked as a designer of ready-to-wear and has worked closely with tailors for decades, his work at the shop is as neither a designer or a tailor - he’s more like a consiglieri, guiding men towards their best appearance.

Alan’s expertise features heavily in our next episode of Put This On, but we thought we’d take this opportunity to introduce you to one of menswear’s great treasures.

Q and Answer: Contrast Cuffs and Collar
Sascha writes to ask: What are your thoughts on contrasting cuffs and collars?  What’s the tradition behind this?
When a shirt wears out, it’s almost always the collar and cuffs that go first.  That’s why men wore detachable collars until sixty years ago or so.  The neck sweat in the collar and the fraying in the cuffs are almost invariably the early signs that a shirt is headed to the trash.
Of course, when the collar and cuffs go, most of the shirt is usually fine.  Even without detachable collars, many fine shirtmakers will replace the collars and cuffs of a shirt so you can get a few years more wear out of it. 
Sometimes the original fabric is available and still matches the body of the shirt, in which case, the collars and cuffs are replaced with identical substitutes.  Sometimes, though, it’s not - or the body of the shirt has faded through washing and no longer matches the brand new fabric.  Then, the shirtmaker will replace the collar and cuffs with the next best thing - plain white.
You can buy this look - associated with the kind of old money that has custom shirts and wears them so long the collar needs replacing - off the rack, as well.  It’s a very bold, very Anglo look, and it’s very commonly associated with Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. 
If you have an English sensibility - sober suits, bold shirts - and a job that calls for formality, contrasting collars and cuffs can look good.  They’re the kind of thing one might wear to deliver Mamet dialogue, if Mamet wrote a play about a trading floor or the back offices of a bank.  If you don’t, though, they can look a bit showy, or at worst, football-color-commentator-y. 

Q and Answer: Contrast Cuffs and Collar

Sascha writes to ask: What are your thoughts on contrasting cuffs and collars?  What’s the tradition behind this?

When a shirt wears out, it’s almost always the collar and cuffs that go first.  That’s why men wore detachable collars until sixty years ago or so.  The neck sweat in the collar and the fraying in the cuffs are almost invariably the early signs that a shirt is headed to the trash.

Of course, when the collar and cuffs go, most of the shirt is usually fine.  Even without detachable collars, many fine shirtmakers will replace the collars and cuffs of a shirt so you can get a few years more wear out of it. 

Sometimes the original fabric is available and still matches the body of the shirt, in which case, the collars and cuffs are replaced with identical substitutes.  Sometimes, though, it’s not - or the body of the shirt has faded through washing and no longer matches the brand new fabric.  Then, the shirtmaker will replace the collar and cuffs with the next best thing - plain white.

You can buy this look - associated with the kind of old money that has custom shirts and wears them so long the collar needs replacing - off the rack, as well.  It’s a very bold, very Anglo look, and it’s very commonly associated with Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. 

If you have an English sensibility - sober suits, bold shirts - and a job that calls for formality, contrasting collars and cuffs can look good.  They’re the kind of thing one might wear to deliver Mamet dialogue, if Mamet wrote a play about a trading floor or the back offices of a bank.  If you don’t, though, they can look a bit showy, or at worst, football-color-commentator-y.