I'm looking for a summer suit that will be able to take a beating, and still look wearable, the sort of thing that could be bundled in a pile over night and still be worn in the morning. Do you have any idea what the best fabric for that would be?
(love the blog btw)
Thanks, glad you like the blog thus far. (EDIT to add: And this is my 500th post here! Super glad that it’s a question, too.)
As for a summer suit, you’ve got a few options, but it really depends on what you’re going to actually be using it for — the office, casual, summer weddings/formal events. So, give that some thought.
Also, I’m not sure of your budget, so these suggestions are something I’d consider in the RTW/OTR “cheaper” alternatives (of course, that’s a relative term, too).
If you work in an office setting, or need to have a more formal than casual suit, I’d look for a suit that’s made from tropical-weight wool. Something like this L.L.Bean Signature tropical-weight suit would work when you need to be more classy than casual. The downside is that I’d be a bit concerned about how it would pack into an overnight bag. Granted, higher quality wools can take more abuse like that, but not sure how this would stack up.
If you want to move into the casual spectrum, then I’d take a look at chino suit. Again, L.L.Bean Signature has a plain-weave suit and a traditional twill option. Got some more cash to spend? J.Crew has several chino/cotton options in multiple colors and fit types. Rugby has a gaberdine & chino option, too. Cotton/chino suits pack pretty damned well, just like your chino pants do, plus they actually don’t look terrible if they’re slightly beaten up and wrinkled a bit. Best of all, you can break up the jacket and pants and wear them separately, too.
Linen is also another great option. I think this would work best in absurdly humid climates as it breathes really well. But if you’re going for a more polished look, this might not be what you’re looking for, as linen wrinkles quite heavily — but for some that’s also the charm of the fabric and its casualness. Again, J.Crew has a suiting option. Truth be told, as much as I like linen, I would recommend against it, especially if you’re only looking to get one suit. It’s heavily seasonal as a fabric. Cotton and even tropical wool can be worn in a larger timeframe, whereas linen screams summer. Also, the downside to a linen suit is that you don’t want to get stuck in the rain with it, as linen doesn’t shrink evenly. I have a linen suit and rarely wear it — less than my tuxedo. Probably not the best investment piece unless you live in a really humid and warm climate.
Finally, we have my favorite fabric: seersucker. I will say that seersucker as a whole suit can be a bit much for people and it’s probably not as office environment friendly (picture yourself in seersucker in a meeting where everyone else is in boring charcoal suits and you’ll get what I mean). Still, I think there’s a few options beyond the navy/white striped suit that we’re all familiar with (J.Crew has one). L.L.Bean Signature has two seersucker options (black and some brown/olive color) that’s non-traditional. While I normally wouldn’t ever recommend someone get a black suit, this could be an exception. I can see it working in a few different ways and also you can break up the elements. Same for the brown. Personally though, I love the traditional navy/white suit — not to wear together, but separately. Pair the jacket with grey slacks, jeans, navy chinos, etc. Pair the pants with a navy blazer.
When I went to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a wedding last summer, my seersucker suit worked wonders. The pants could be rolled up without a problem for travel and I wore the jacket at night to keep the breeze at bay. Plus, it just looks great to travel in. Best of all, it’s going to be machine washable, too — although I’d wash it by hand and let it hang dry. It’s a great summer suit that can basically be worn the moment it gets warm out. Just make sure to get a pair of white bucks (chalk clean or dirty, doesn’t matter) and go sockless. It might be a bolder choice, but summer lets you get away with being more bright and bold, in my opinion.
Let me know what you pick. Best of luck and don’t forget to hit up the tailor to make sure your fit is perfect.
I am looking for 100% cotton slim fit t-shirts (under $20) to wear during the spring and summer. Which brands do you suggest? Thank you.
I really don’t have any first-hand, great recommendations for you. I honestly only wear v-neck white Ts under my shirts — never by themselves — that I buy in bulk online from J.C. Penney’s. I don’t believe in overpaying for undergarments.
If I had to suggest something, then maybe American Apparel, H&M and Uniqlo (if you’re in NYC) — although I have zero experience with those brands and am just assuming they’ll have something you want.
Now, if you want to talk polos or other long-sleeved shirts with buttons on them for the summer months, then I could maybe come up with a few ideas. But T-shirts? Not my thing.
Oxxford navy suit, $59.99 (Buy it Now) — It’s a size 38R in the chest, however, the shoulders are larger than a typical 38R (19.5”), which kept me from pulling the trigger on this. If you have broader shoulders, then this might be up your alley.
Great advice on the shirts. If there's one thing I'd add, though, is that in my opinion, lighter shades work better with suits while darker shades work better without jacket/tie. And also, really deep shades should be approached very cautiously and very casually. A deep army green looks good, but the fire engine red dress shirts should probably be left at Express.
I would like to have dress shirts in colors other than blue and white. What colors and patterns do you recommend?
Well, I’m already assuming you own some good white and blue dress shirts (I’d personally recommend getting those basics first, as they’ll be more versatile), and looking to add some variety.
I’m not entirely sure what context you’re looking to use the dress shirts in — with suits? with sport coats? with sweater vests? with waistcoats?, etc. — because I think that matters as well. I have a set of shirts that I typically wear with my suits and another set that I wear with sport coats/blazers as well as more casually.
For suits, I’d toss in a pink shirt and a lavender shirt. Some people like ecru (yellow-ish), but I’m not personally a fan. I think pink adds some vibrancy to your face if you’re fairer skinned. Lavender also looks nice, in my opinion, and ads some colorful pop to a suit without being overly aggressive if you tone it down with a darker necktie (or you can contrast it up like I did yesterday).
As for patterns, I’m a big fan of gingham prints, but I don’t typically wear them with suits (although I kind of broke that personal rule of mine yesterday). Gingham looks great though and can be really bold when used with bright colors (purple, red, blue).
As for striped shirts, I prefer to wear those more casually, but that’s just me. I think a thin, pinstripe maybe spaced .25” apart looks simple on a white shirt. I would try to avoid multi-colored stripes on a shirt, as I think it looks too busy.
For oxfords, I think the university stripes look great and adds some variation to the typically solid-colored shirt.
I know others really like plaids, but I’m not entirely fond of them and would only wear them in a very casual context.
The most important thing though would be to really nail down what looks good on you. You could buy shirts in every color of the rainbow just to have variety in your closet, but I’d honestly wonder how well it would go with the rest of your wardrobe and ultimately look good on you.
Maybe there’s color that looks good on you or a hue/shade that is more your style. Maybe you do better with darker shades, or lighter shades, or maybe you switch those up based on the season.
Once you get an idea of what your personal style will be, I think the next step is seeing what helps add to that in a positive way, and following that path. See what you like, what you have and work from that. It’s not so much about colors and patterns, but what you want your style to be.
Re: WIWT: 03-29-2011
Props to the outfit - a black knit would have been nice as well. Makes me want to go to TheTieBar.com and pick up every color of knit tie they have. Wanted to ask though where you scored those lavender socks? I'm looking for some pastels for this S/S. BB has some but I found they're too thick for S/S. I also saw Cole Haan has some but haven't tried them on yet.
Great blog - keep up the terrific work.
Thanks. I hadn’t considered a black knit (although I do have one), because I usually think of only using it for evenings. Interestingly enough, I was thinking that any neutral-colored tie would work (grey glen plaids, etc.), but black completely slipped the mind. I’ll keep that stored for the future.
As for lavender socks, I got mine from Happy Socks, but they don’t seem to have that color on the site anymore. You could check Nordstrom Rack though, as I often have seen them for $5/pair. Also, Gilt occasionally has sales on their socks, too. If you’re willing to spend more per pair, then give dieworkwear’s post on socks a read for suggestions.
…I was in what I deemed extensive talks with a brand that I hoped would provide me with my first professional foray into menswear. My levels of excitement were off the charts and the phrase “blowing things out of proportion” could not have been more applicable. Things eventually fizzled out as they tend to do sometimes, but not for lack of effort on my end. Naturally, I was crushed. When you build things up like that they can just as easily break you as they can make you. For a while I felt kind of hopeless and worried that I had missed out on that one life changing opportunity. But, time passes and you move forward. I continued to do what I had been doing and eventually things got better. New opportunities opened up and I took advantage of them. Surfing the internet tonight I saw a write up about the aforementioned brand. Honestly, I had totally forgotten all about them and about missing my “life changing opportunity”. I had a nice laugh and reflected a little bit on the entire situation. While there are numerous morals to this story, I guess I just want to remind everyone to go easy on yourself and have faith in your abilities. Chances are, if you see the value in what you do and believe in yourself it won’t be long until someone else does too.
Damn, almost this exact same scenario happened to me last week for a job I was interviewing for and didn’t get (except it was in the political sector, not dope-ass menswear/style/fashion). And the same thing happened to me last summer, too.
Obviously, I felt like shit after hearing the news, because I knew I couldn’t have tried harder, interviewed better or brought anything less than my A-game to the process.
I travel quite a bit for my job (by car) and thought I’d show you what I pack for an average trip.
For suits, a navy, a dark grey and I wear my grey tweed. Also, my black/white herringbone tweed blazer and a brown donegal tweed waistcoat.
For shirts, one pink, one blue, one white dress shirt for wearing with the suits. For casual wear, one red university stripe oxford and one blue gingham button down.
Accessories: red, green and navy silk knit ties (for the suits) and a navy with red/white stripe silk tie (for casual). Also, various pocket squares. I also pack one black and one brown leather belt as well as one tan web belt.
I only pack my 501s for extra pants, but if it gets warmer, I’ll maybe swap that with a pair of chinos. And obviously, undergarments and socks.
Not pictured: shoes, which include one pair black and one pair brown leather as well as a pair of tan bucks. Also, a trench coat.
I pack this all up in a rolling luggage (overhead size) and put the suits and blazer in a Hartmann tweed suit garment bag.
Baracuta G9 harrington jacket: At about $160, this is a rather low price to get an original Baracuta. I thought about getting one, but some research showed that these jackets aren’t kind to people of narrower torsos that also have longer arms (if anyone’s had a different experience, please let me know).
So, this list is really long — well over 100 people. But they are who I follow and if you’re looking for fresh faces, ideas and such on your Dashboard, then consider this a list of suggestions. I’ve also put this list on my “links" page, which was getting really outdated and needed updating.
Obvious disclaimer: This list isn’t ranked in any specific order (although my first few people I followed are toward the top-ish) and it’s in no way a thorough and conclusive list of people tumblr-ing about menswear.
The site recommends that you measure your best fitting shirt and input those measurements rather than measuring yourself. Being that I’m a big fan of the fit on the Brooks Brothers Extra-Slim Fit dress shirts, I decided to use that shirt as a pattern to get measurements from. You’ll obviously need a tailor’s measuring tape for this, which you can find at any hobby and crafts store.
Now, I didn’t use the BBESF measurements exactly. As good as those shirts fit me, it’s like any off-the-rack shirt and could be improved for my own fit. I actually took it trimmer in a few parts. I knocked off some sleeve bagginess, narrowed the waist measurement and increased the shirt’s length so it would stay tucked.
In addition to putting in my sizes, I also got to choose the various details of the shirt. Some are free, others are an additional fee. The only thing I opted to add was thick mother-of-pearl buttons.
For a collar, I went with a standard spread collar with longer point lengths (I can’t stand it when short collars don’t properly touch the collar of my jacket) and a single-button mitered cuff.
The only hitch came when I received an email back from them, saying that my armhole measurement was too small. I found this ridiculous and confirmed with them that, yes, I did want a smaller armhole. They made me send a photograph with a measuring tape on my BBESF shirt to prove that, yes, this is what I wanted them to do. Honestly, this worried me a bit, because it must mean they don’t get very many orders to do shirts with smaller armholes.
As it turned out though, my fears about the outcome ended up being unfounded. They arrived from China yesterday and I’m a big fan of how they turned out.
First, I just want to comment on how insanely quick they turned these shirts around from the day I placed my order to the day they arrived at my door: 13 days. And that’s with the slight delay because of their uneasiness with my armhole measurement. I’m blown away by how quickly they arrived.
The shirts arrive folded and pinned (plastic, not needles) just like any other shirt you’d buy at a department store and they give you a bag of sorts with their name on it (although I’m a bit unsure why).
I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert on dress shirts and what qualifies as good construction. I will say that the one thing I noticed is that they use a single-piece yolk instead of a split-back yolk. This was a bit disappointing, but it’s something that lots of places do to cut production costs. For a $20 shirt, this isn’t a dealbreaker, but if you’re going to be buying a full-priced shirt from them, then I’d try to maybe request they do a split-back.
The one nice thing about choosing your shirt’s features is that you can avoid having back pleats — although you may find this can limit your shoulder movement. I’m OK without them, but others may want to have them. I’m also a fan of the gauntlet button on the sleeves, which makes rolling sleeves up easier (the lack of a button on the BBESF bothers me a lot). The inclusion of a pocket and a full placket for free is nice, too.
I will say that the material is just about what you’d expect for a $20 shirt: a bit thin for an oxford shirt, especially compared to the BBESF oxfords. I’m sure if you order a better fabric, this will be remedied. Regardless, I’m fine with the material and don’t think it feels “cheap.”
But it all comes down to fit, right? And I think they fit wonderfully well.
Granted, your mileage on fit may vary. It’s all going to come down to whether or not you have a perfectly fitting dress shirt to measure from — or one that’s close enough to what you want so that you can modify it.
The bottom line is that if you find yourself needing a couple of blue oxford dress shirts right now and are fairly confident in your abilities to get the measurements nailed down, then you should take the plunge and order a couple of these at the discounted price.
All told, I ordered three shirts and it came to around $100 with MOP buttons and shipping. At $33/shirt, I think these are a tremendous deal. I’m regretting not ordering twice as many — I’d be set for a long time.
Will I use ModernTailor.com again? There’s a very high probability. I do want to try and give other MTM online shirtmakers a fair try first, but the price, speed and fit do seem to be a nice combination here.
I'm also in Chicago - where are thift shops you go to? On Milwaukee Ave in Wicker Park & Bucktown?
I’ve Googled and Yelped a bunch of thrift stores near my area (Logan Square, WP, BT), but after visiting many of them, I just haven’t had much luck.
I’ve had much better luck at some thrift stores in Springfield, where a lot of government bureaucrats (like me!) donate their suits and sportcoats. I also occasionally visit a few places in my hometown where my parents live, especially a church-run place that tends to have nicer items that have been cared for that I assume came from parishioners.
If there is a decent menswear thrifting place in Chicago, I haven’t really found one yet.
Re: WIWT: 03-23-2011
Where did you score that herringbone tweed jacket?
I thrifted that jacket (and took it to the tailor for alterations). You can usually find a bunch of tweed jackets at thrift stores, in my experience, and some of them will likely be Harris Tweed (mine isn’t).
If you’re looking to score something new, then you might have a tougher time right now as many places are bringing in their spring/summer stock.
If you’ve got serious cash, Rugby has a nice one. J.Crew has some limited sizes available right now on sale. And there’s always eBay.
I really enjoy the content and there's a lot of insightful posts but why not, (and I say this in all earnestness) hit the gym once in a while? From the looks of it you're at a place where a little work goes a long way. With a wardrobe like yours why not compliment it?
I definitely could stand to workout once in a while (as opposed to never) — beer gut, lack of muscle definition, etc.
Why don’t I do it? Honestly, I’m not a big fan of exercising or doing sports. I recognize it’s something I should be doing just for health reasons, but it’s not something I’ve ever found interesting or fun to do. I find it a dreadfully boring way to spend my time, although I’m well aware that for some people it’s the one thing they look forward to in their day.
FWIW, I do try to eat healthier and cook for myself when I can, although being on the road 3-4 days a week for work in central Illinois severely limits one’s options.
Still, you, my doctor, my parents and others are probably right and I should attempt to get back in some sort of routine. The one time I did work out on a regular basis was when I went to work on political campaign staff and heard from some campaign “veterans” that you gain 15 lbs. from stress, alcoholism and bad food. This drove me to get one of those elliptical machines and be super conscious of my diet and cutback on drinking.
Totally misjudged the weather today by going sockless with Sperry Topsiders. The rest turned out fine though. I had a dentist appointment today, so I ditched the sportcoat and went with my favorite chunky sweater, white oxford and navy chinos.
I’ve been a fairly decent fan of “The Chicago Code” since its premiere episode. It’s not as great as “The Wire,” but then again, no show has approached that level. But I recently discovered something really cool about Delroy Lindo, who plays Alderman Ronin Gibbons on the show.
I was visiting my tailor last week and he and his business partner had maybe a dozen jackets and suits styled in a distinct 1950-60s-era cut that they were altering. As it turns out, these coats were actually costumes for the upcoming filming of the pilot episode of “The Playboy Club” ordered by NBC, which is being filmed here in Chicago.
I found out from him that the wardrobe for background extras often is rented from a few companies that specifically have huge warehouses filled with period-piece clothing, which is where these came from, so production companies don’t have to have dozens of extra articles of clothing made or hunted down.
But for re-occurring main characters in the foreground, clothes are either purchased or handmade. And in the case with Mr. Lindo’s wardrobe for “The Chicago Code” his was handmade by my tailor!
Two, three-piece suits and one double-breasted suit were made and an identical second suit was made for each style. They do this in the event one gets ruined during filming and they’ll have a backup for continuity. In movies they’ll have six of the same suits, especially for action films where a character might get shot or dirty up the clothing.
My tailor also said he does suits and jackets and other costume parts for Broadway shows (as well as local theater) and flies out for fittings in NYC. I asked why these productions didn’t just work with someone local and he told me the reason was primarily because of cost. Tailors in NYC have higher rents and costs for what is essentially the same product, so it’s cheaper for many of them to work with him.
So, it’s worth knowing that when movies, TV shows and other big-Hollywood entertainment comes here that a good part of that money does, in fact, get funneled into the local economy.