Express your right to Accessorize

Belts

Every man should own one brown belt and one black belt. If you're tight on funds, the double-sided belt is your saviour. Belts should match your shoes. For business-wear you should avoid loud buckles. The belt should be long enough so that it extends slightly past the first belt loop but not much more beyond that. You should also invest in a good leather belt that will not fray at the edges. 

Cufflinks

One can be widely expressive with cufflinks. We would recommend any type of cufflink in a professional setting as it fits within any business-casual setting. Some would advise to be aware of your audience and the decorum of the place to which you are wearing the cufflinks. This goes without saying with all clothing. If unsure, one can never go wrong with silver geometric cufflinks.  Once comfortable however, you may get cufflinks for the occasion and season such as St. Patrick’s Day Cufflinks, Valentine’s day cufflinks and so on. Cufflinks can also match ones sock, shoes, belt, and tie to accessorize in a very deliberate way.

Pocket Squares

It is our conviction that a man is not fully dressed without a pocket square. Jackets should always have pocket squares, particularly when worn without a tie. Pocket squares show an attention to detail. They show a great deal of deliberateness, and the specific fold employed by the wearer is yet another opportunity to send a message to the observer.  The rule of thumb is that pocket squares should only match the tie perfectly when worn to formal events and weddings.  Otherwise they are only to accent the tie and match to some degree if the wearer so chooses.  That means not to load up on the tie and pocket square sets that are cut from the same cloth.  We like to match our squares with our ties, but avoid having the same design and cloth. 

Cuffs That Count

There are three types of cuffs for dress shirts (two main types and one that you have likely never heard of).  Each of these cuffs have various permutations and cuts that one can add for a unique look. 

Barrel Cuffs

These are the standard cuffs that you will find on most shirts.  They are perfectly appropriate for business wear. We tend to wear these on days when we are in a rush as they are more practical and easy to put on.  Additionally they are beneficial for travel as one does not have to pack the cufflinks separately and lose your nice pair of sentimental cufflinks as we have had the misfortune of doing. 

French Cuffs

Like the barrel cuff these also come is a few variations on permutations, particularly with the finishing of the edges.  These are the most formal of the bunch and I would highly recommend them if you are in a business where meeting people and networking is important. Flashy cufflinks can be good conversation starters. Even conservative cufflinks with school crests, associations, or anything that identifies you to be a member of a certain profession can instantly create propinquity and make it such that you win a new client, contact or sometimes even a hot date. 

Men are extremely limited with the degree to which they can accessorize.  Cufflinks provide yet another opportunity for you to accessorize to the max.  They can complement your tie and pocket square and show that you are a deliberate dresser.   

A bit of history, It is said that these cuffs were popularized by the book: Count of Montecristo by Alexandre Dumas.  After describing them as follows, “the owner of so splendid an equipage must needs be all that was admirable and enviable, more especially when they gazed on the enormous diamond that glittered in his shirt, and the red ribbon that depended from his button-hole”, French tailors began producing shirts with French Cuffs and they eventually came to be known as such because of the country in which they first became popular.   

Cocktail Cuffs

This cuff is known as the James Bond Cuff because it was popularized by Sean Connery when he starred in the James Bond Film Dr. No. These types of cuffs are extremely rare as such they serve a clever way to be remembered and to stand out.

If James Bond can, why can't you?

A Quick Note on Shirt Backs

For business wear, as the back of your shirt will always be covered by your suit, pleats and darts will only serve a functional purpose.

Pleats

The point of any type of pleat is to allow room for expansion while maintaining shape (think accordions). There are two main types of pleats.  A box pleat which is located right on top of the wearers spine and side pleats that are situated to closer to the armholes. The main consideration with pleats is to allow for mobility, especially if you like your clothing very fitted. Stylistically, side pleats looks cleaner and sleeker, but pleats with business wear is a decision where one can rightfully put function over fashion.

Darts

Darts are the opposite of pleats.  They are installed to shrink a shirt and give it a more form fitting appearance.  More commonly seen in women’s clothing to accommodate the curves of a lady we often see them in off the rack shirts that have been tailored to better fit the wearer. 

Front to back. Now you know.

Frontin'

The shirt front is where the buttons on the front of a shirt are housed.  It serves a bit of a functional purpose in helping to keep the form of the shirt.  Additionally the three variations allow for a little bit of self-expression.

Placket Front/Box/Standard

This is the standard placket that is seen on most shirts. Wearing this type of placket does not say much about you, however not wearing it communicates a little bit more. The best thing about the box placket is that it is perfectly symmetrical and it is recommended for those who care for being perfectly bisected right down the middle.

Plain Front/French

This is a front where there the buttons are not boxed in on both sides. It is slight asymmetrical, yet cleaner.  It is certainly more fashion forward and distinguished, and makes the wearer look different for a reason the untrained eye may not be able to quickly discern at first. This type of front is perfectly acceptable for business wear, and we would recommend it as a look for a gentleman who wants to emphasize the fact that he cares about how he presents.

Fly Front/Concealed

This is the look where buttons are completely covered underneath the edge of the shirt. We like this look with a plain shirt front and no pockets as it draws attention to ones figure as the centrepiece. This is the most trendy and daring, and is also acceptable for business wear. Some might also argue that this is the most formal of all as it is the one that is frequently seen on tuxedo shirts.

Front.

What Collar Are You?

There are many variations and permutations of dress shirts. We will focus mostly on dress shirts that one might wear with a lounge suit in a business setting starting from the collars. There is a plethora of collars for one to choose from when ordering a dress shirt. 

COLLARS

The point of the collar is to frame the face of the individual.  As a result of this not every type of collar will look best on every type of face.  This is something that one ought to consider while shopping for dress shirts.  When selecting a collar one should be aware of one’s body shape.  The rule of thumb is that your colour, particularly the gap between it should possess attributes that your face does not.  If you have a long thin face, then you would be best suited to a wide gap within your collar.  Conversely a man with a round larger face would be well served by a collar with a smaller spread.

Collars should be well ironed and crisp.  One should make a point of buying shirts with stiff collar stays. The main advantage of metal stays is that they are more rigid and stiff, that also happens to be the main disadvantage of them.  They keep the shirt collar looking straight, but sometimes their weight is noticeable and gives the shirt a very unnatural look as you can notice their shape in some shirts.  Additionally when they are the exact size of the pocket in which they are placed it is sometimes hard to fold the shirt over. 

Point Collar

The point collar is the classic style of collar.  This is the collar that most people wear and it is the type of collar that you are most likely to find on a mass produced shirt. This is the type of collar that is found on 90% of all shirts.

Club Collar

The club collar is a collar with rounded edges instead of points.  This club first appeared in the mid-1800s when Eton College, an exclusive boys boarding school in England decided to update their uniform. The story goes something like this.  Eton wanted something to distinguish their uniform and their then 400 year history from all of the other school and show them as truly exclusive and elite.  As a result of this they came up with the idea of rounding the edges on the dress shirts of their uniform.  The name club collar arose from other individuals who wanted to appear to be part of the elite club of individuals who attended Eton College.  Consequently this collar became known as the club collar.  As it entered mainstream fashion it became more and more common peaking in popularity during the thirties when it was accompanied by a collar pin, an also equally popular fashion accessory of the time.  As the collar pin became less popular, so did the club collar and it was rarely seen until recently when it has enjoyed a resurgence in fame due to shows like mad men.

Men with round faces should avoid wearing this style of collar as it does not flatter the shape of the face and draws more attentions to the roundness of the face.  Anyone who wants to be noticed even more with this type of collar should consider adding a collar pin.  Nowadays, like many other accents men’s business wear, this type of collar lets one be loud and unique in a subtle fashion.

Cutaway Collar

The cutaway collar has the points spreading back parallel to the ground rather than more vertical or perpendicular.  This collar is reported to have been popularized by the Duke of Kent.  Two things that everyone says about this collar is that it is rapidly growing in popularity and it seems to be the “collar of choice in Britain and Italy”.  This collar is well suited for wider lapels, wider ties, and a more substantial tie knot.  As usual the wide spread should be avoided by individuals with round chubby faces.  Like many rarer styles this is a choice for a gentleman that would like to accent his dressing in a distinct yet subtle manner. 

Button Down Collar

This collar is the type that has buttons that hold down that collar and a visible to the observer.  These type of collars are usually just regular classic point collars.  Their history can traced to polo player in the late 1890s that would attach buttons to their shirts to prevent their collars from turning up in the wind and obstructing their face.  While watching a polo match John Brooks (of Brooks Brothers) took notice of this and introduced it to mainstream fashion.

These collars tend to be more blue collar and less formal.  While they can be worn with a tie, we think this is ill advised and the work best with jeans and no tie.  It is again an option for a gentlemen looking for a trademark (of poor taste).  Lastly, because of the history of these collars, they are to always be buttoned.

Pinned Collar

I have never actually seen anyone wear this type of collar. This is a collar with a pin that sits underneath the tie to pop up the tie and make it more pronounced.  It is almost always worn with a club collar and makes one look distinct, slightly old fashioned, but deliberate about his dressing. 

This collar was birthed at the beginning of the 20th century.  It came about as a remedy for silk collars that were too delicate to be starched, but needed to be kept in place.  It then became a fashion accessory for well-dressed trendsetters with how it elevated the tie of the wearer.  Throughout the reset of century it experienced various surges in popularity and has been unseen until its recent resurgence as a result of shows like mad men.

Straight Point Collar

Don Cherry has popularized a very wide version of this collar.  This collar however is defined by its extremely narrow gap and not the width as is seen on Don Cherry’s shirts.  This is the go to collar if you have a rounder bigger face as it frames it to look narrower.  This is also a collar that is fairly popular in its moderate forms and more rarely seen in its extreme forms.  It is a safe bet to wear without calling too much attention to oneself in which case one can always purchase the Don Cherry Version and never get a date.

Other Collars

All other collars tend to be variations or combinations of the ones that I have examined.  You will hear terms that mean various things to various people.  Often you will heart nationalities used as adjectives to describe them.  Particularly there is the English Spread, The Italian Collar, and The French Spread.  I really do not know what constitutes any of these.  Indeed they mean various things to various people and companies.  The rule of thumb however is to remember that the wider and rounder the face, the thinner and sharper the spread, and the thinner and sharper the face the rounder and wider the collar.

What Collar are you?

A Detailed Note on Suit Jacket Pockets

Suits and Pockets

Suits should have at least three pockets, one on each pocket and one on the left breast. One thing of note for all pockets on mass produced suits is that they are often sewn shut.  If you purchase a suit like this we would recommend that it be left accordingly.  The reason for this is that suit pockets are not made to hold very much content. Overloading the suits will often result in bulging and sagging thus ruining the form of the suit and the figure of the wearer. One should never put anything in the breast pocket of the suit except for a pocket square. If you really need to overload your suit, the inner breast pockets are a better choice. Nevertheless, even with these pockets, one must be careful not to overload them. 

Pocket Types

There are two main types of pockets on suit jackets. There are patch pockets and jetted pockets.  These pockets can come with or without flaps.  Patch pockets are pockets that are sewn on with a separate piece of material while jetted pockets are inside the suit with only the opening to the pocket being noticeable. The most formal type of pocket is a jetted pocket without any flaps and this is often seen on tuxedos.  This appearance can easily be mimicked by merely tucking in the flap to make it disappear.  Having flaps on a suit pocket, though less formal is perfectly appropriate business dress. 

Patch Pockets

Patch pockets are commonly seen on sport coats and are not as formal.  Patch pockets with flaps are even more informal.  Strictly speaking they are not proper business attire, nevertheless many people still wear them.

Slanted Pockets

Pockets are often sewn straight or slanted.  Slanted pockets are called hacked or hacking pockets.  They apparently developed from British riding tradition with hacking being an obscure reference to pleasure riding.  Like just about everything else in men’s fashion, these pockets were conceived from practical considerations.  When a rider was bent over galloping on his horse, the slanted pockets were easier to reach into than traditional straight pockets.  As a result of their history they are considered to be less formal.  Nevertheless, they are appropriate business wear nowadays.  Some people consider them to be more daring and stylish than regular pockets.  They are always a nice addition for the man who wants to stand out without standing out.

Ticket Pockets

Lastly there is the ticket pocket.  That is the third pocket on the right side of the suit immediately on top of the pocket that is normally present on the suit.  The ticket pocket is said to have been a product of the time when locomotive transportation was more common place.  This extra pocket derives its name from the fact that it traditionally held train tickets in a quickly accessible sport for passengers.  Another legend has it that this pocket was a riding innovation and it was where riders kept spare change for tolls as they rode across the English countryside.  Personally I believe the story about the ticket pocket as an innovation for train passengers is more accurate.  Either way, because of the practical nature of the pocket, it is considered by some to be less formal than the single pocket that is often seen on tuxedos. 

Personally, we love the ticket pocket. They are rather trendy right now, but they can never go out of style because they are an innovation that is based in history. Much like the slanted pockets they are a great way for a gentleman to show that he conscientious about his dressing and allow him to stand out without really standing out. We'd say - stand out.

JACKETS, BLAZERS, SPORT COATS?

What's the Difference?

Many people wonder what the difference is between a jacket and a blazer and a sport coat.  Indeed these terms have grown to become used interchangeably much like the waistcoat and vest. As far as we are concerned the only one that is most appropriate for the true business attire is the suit jacket, but I will provide a little bit of history on the other two. Remember - blazers and sport coats are not worn with matching trousers.

What's a Blazer? 

Blazers have nautical roots. They were usually worn by sailors, rowers, and other sea faring men.  Hence the quintessential blazer is often a solid navy blue colour with gold buttons, patch pockets and a crest of some sort.  This is either a crest of one’s family, social club, institution, or in the case you are a golfer who wins the masters the green jacket.  It has gold buttons, it is solid in colour, and has a crest.

What's a Sport Coat?

Then there are sport coats.  When you think Sport coats think English gentlemen on horseback going on a fox hunt.  Sport coats have an history in sport and they were designed accordingly.  They are usually made from coarser materials such as tweed and heavy wool and are often patterned with plaid. It is not unusual to see them with elbow patches and patch pockets. 

What's a Suit Jacket?

Suit jackets are what one should wear if you are truly going for a proper business attire.  Sometimes blazers and sport coats are trendy, and stylish, particularly if you are an older gentleman (sport coat) or a younger man going for the prep school look (blazer), but all in all one should really wear a suit. 

3 simple points. 3 subtle differences. Keep them in mind.

A Note on Trouser Pockets

Pocket Pack Rats

You really should not put anything large and heavy in your trouser pockets, but if you have a large George Costanza wallet and like to break the rules - buy pleated pants. They tend to accommodate pocket pack rats better. 

3 Pocket Picks

There are three main types of pockets on men’s trousers.  There is the on seam pocket, the off seam pocket and the J pocket.  While the on seam pocket is the most formal of them all, the off seam pocket is equally acceptable. 

The J pocket which is more commonly found in jeans should be reserved for nothing higher than a smart casual level of dress. The on seam pocket is exactly what it sounds like.  It is the pocket that is in line with the seam on the outer leg of the trouser.  This type of pocket is similar to what is often called an invisible pocket in women’s clothing. The most practically useful pocket is the J pocket. Things tend not to fall out of the pocket when you sit down. Inseam pockets apparently create a slimming effect on the wearer. Our personal favourite is the off seam slanted pockets.  They are easy to access and very popular and common. 

Back Pockets

Back pockets, both one or two back pockets are considered appropriate. Back pockets should not hold anything that ruins the shape of the trouser.  They are to have no flaps as flaps are seen as more casual and can be adorned with one button each.Your call gentlemen.

To Pleat or Not to Pleat

The Preface

There are two styles of pant fronts; those with pleats and those without. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to pleats vs flat front pants. The pleat is certainly more traditional and will always be so, while the flat front is more stylish.

The History

Pleats came about in the late 1800s and arose more out of practical considerations than anything else.  Gentlemen used to wear their pants closer to the natural waist than sitting on the hips. This made mobility a bit more difficult with trousers particularly when hunting or doing other activities that we are all now accustomed to doing in our dress pants. As a result of this, pleats were added to provide more room inside of the pant while maintaining the waist size.  Pleats were and continue to be useful for men who are of larger girth. 

During the time of the war, much like cuffs, pleats were seen as an excessive waste of fabric at a time when everyone was rationing everything. As a result of this they became less and less popular.  The flat front pant became prominent in the 50s and 60s had has solidified itself in modern day fashion.

The Point

If you are a thinner gentlemen looking for pleats, try to stick to no more than two pleats as the addition of any more pleats will not compliment your structure. To this day, there is still some formal attire that is designed with pleats in mind. A classic example being a traditional morning suit that should have one pleat. The flat front pants are more of a continental European evolution whereas the pant cuff is seen to be more Anglo America.  As a result of this those who really know their fashion know that it is against the rules to wear a flat front pant with cuffs.  That said, some rules are made to be broken. We'll save that for another day.

 

Full Canvas Custom Suits

1. What is the cost of a full canvas suit?

Never assume that because a suit is expensive or comes from a designer brand that it will be fully canvassed. In most cases, you are only paying for the brand. Many popular designers produce half and fused canvassed suits and sell them at a price point of $1300 to over $1900 USD per garment. There are, however, a few remaining brands which sell full canvassed suits with garments starting at $2100 USD. Due to the canvas being contained within the garment, it is not immediately apparent to the consumer if a jacket is fully canvassed. 

To ensure that the garment you are purchasing is in fact full canvas:

a) Gently pinch the outer and inner layer of your jacket

b) Slowly pull the layers away from each other

c) Once you have done so, you should be able to feel a third layer in between - canvas!

2. What is canvassing?

Canvassing is an integral component of a superior garment. Although fusing has become more common due to mass production, a full canvassed suit ensures premium fit, craftsmanship, durability and, breathability over time. The primary differences between fused and full canvas garments is that a full canvassed suit has a layer in between the outer fabric and inner lining of the jacket which is sewn in loosely so that it flows naturally with the fabric and forms to the natural contours of your body. Fused suits on the other hand have an interfacing that is glued to the fabric of the front panel, making the garment much more stiff and unnatural in appearance. With fused suits, their lapels often appear stiff rather than natural like those of a canvassed garment. The alternative is half canvassed which canvasses only the chest piece and lapels, and fuses the rest. Although a decent compromise, half-canvassed suits do not provide the comprehensive benefits of full canvasing.

Think of it as the following:

a) Full Canvas Suit = Ferrari

b) Half Canvas Suit = BMW

c) Fused Canvas = Ford

3.  What are the benefits?

The first benefit of canvassing is the fit of the garment. A fully canvassed jacket will hang the most naturally and move the most freely. Additionally, as the jacket continues to endure days at the office and evenings elsewhere, the wool and horsehair canvas will conform to the wearer’s body, improving the fit and aesthetic of the garment overtime whereas a fused garment becomes irrelevant after 2 - 3 washes and a half-canvassed garment begins to lose its structure over time. Canvassing is also an indication of durability and craftsmanship, so one can expect that those who leverage this construction will provide a premium garment. While fused suits can be produced much cheaper given the significantly less time and skill required, a poorly constructed suit will only end up costing you more in the long-run.

So, with the average off-the-rack full canvassed suit starting at $1650 USD and a custom full canvassed suit from Knight & Grey starting at just $649, if you could go back in time and save your father $1000, what would you do?

Not to mention that you'll have your personal Executive Clothier visit you at a location of your preference to take your measurements, design your garment, and provide you with sartorial knowledge regarding menswear. On top of that, in 4-6 weeks it's at your door ready to go!