24 October 2014

Darts or No Darts (addendum)

3/2 undarted front, three button cuffs
2 button darted front, three button cuffs
Two button undarted front, two button cuffs

In photographing some new items for my online shop, I came across these three navy blazers. All three are Brooks Brothers, and all three have natural shoulders. The button stance on each is different, and one has darts while the other two do not. No one of them is any more "classic" or "correct" than the others, and each would be perfectly at home with the usual suspects: button down oxfords, khakis, penny loafers, striped ties, charcoal flannels. The "right" one would be the one that looked best and most flattering on the wearer. Let these serve as a perfectly timed real life illustration of the points made in my last post.

p.s. lots of new items arriving in the Shop over the next few days. Keep an eye.

17 October 2014

Reader Questions : Darts or No Darts?

(from "Clothes and the Man", by Alan Flusser)

Reader Ryan writes:

Curious, do you have an opinion about darted vs. non-darted jackets?  And for that matter,..how about sack suits vs. updated American cut suits?

Simple as this question may seem it's actually quite a good one because it cuts right to the meat of the detail obsessed world of #menswear, and let's us talk about which details really matter, and why.

As anyone who reads this blog can easily guess, my own sense of style leans heavily toward East Coast American traditional clothing. However, I also have a deep appreciation for British tailoring. As a result, I tend to shoot for what I call an "Anglo-American" approach to dressing, combining elements of each school of thought. I appreciate Italian tailoring as well, but despite being Italian myself, tend to shy away from it, as it doesn't really suit my figure or lifestyle.

For those who may not know, a dart is a small partial seam that runs up the front panels of a jacket from the pocket to the chest, giving the coat a bit of shaping in the sides. A "sack jacket" doesn't have darts, and therefore has a boxier shape, For generations this one of the distinguishing features of American dress, the other being a "natural shoulder" with minimal padding. In my own wardrobe, there are examples of both. I'm pretty ambivalent about whether a jacket has darts, instead considering the overall shape and cut of the garment. Personally, I look for a natural shoulder, with soft suppression at the waist, and an easy but correct fit. Whether this was achieved with darts or with shaping at the side seams doesn't much matter to me. I feel the same way about pleats vs. flat front pants. I want my trousers to fit comfortably without being baggy. These days I tend to prefer forward pleats, despite the fact that are considered "incorrect" in an East Coast traditional wardrobe, again because they suit my figure and lifestyle better. The fact that they are a little different, irreverent even, is only a plus.

The clothes you wear should make you look good. The best way to achieve this is to choose cuts and styles that compliment you. These days it's easy to read the internet and fill your head with a long list of so-called inviolable rules, but following those rules by rote to the letter won't necessarily help you dress well. Know what they are, why they exist, and then adapt them to yourself, using what a friend once called a "broad stroke traditionalism". It can make the difference between looking like you're going as "Take Ivy" for Halloween and being stylish and well dressed.

04 October 2014

Follow Up: The Knot Standard Jacket

I am more than a bit overdue with this post, but here is the follow up of the revisions to my jacket from Knot Standard. To review, Knot Standard is yet another of the growing number of companies offering "online custom". Having had less than good experiences in this realm before, I decided to give them a chance and took them up on their offer of a free jacket back in July

I was impressed with the company then. The communication was great, the website easily navigated, and the jacket was of quality cloth and construction and arrived fairly quickly. The trouble was that the shoulders were cut too narrow and the length of the coat was a little long. After a very cordial correspondence with them on the matter, they remade my jacket and the new one arrived about a month later.

I must say I am more than impressed. The new jacket has been adjusted perfectly, and I look forward to wearing it next Summer. Besides getting a quality garment at was is effectively a reasonable price ($395) the level of service was something that you don't see much anymore. That's worth as much as the jacket to me.

I may  not have paid for it, but I'd have to say that Knot Standard is worth every penny. Their prices rival that of many ready to wear brands of lesser quality, and the service is great. If you're not one to scour the dirty thrift shops like me, but you're less than  satisfied with what your money gets you at retail these days, give them a try.