Saturday, September 11, 2010

"... don't need to be coy roy..."

I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard a Paul Simon song. As a kid I remember the line being, "...don't need to be corduroy...", but that wasn't it. It was, "...don't need to be coy roy..." .That made me realize, like the lyrics to the song, that corduroy is misunderstood. Which started me thinking about fall and all the options we have with corduroy in our wardrobe such as suits, sport coats and pants.
Most people think of corduroy being paired with a flannel shirt and desert boots. I see it as an opportunity to dress up a wool patterned sport coat. It's very country and if you pair it with the right accessories you can look quite dapper. Like a wool check sport coat in olive and burgundy with a pair of slim cut olive cords, muted color tie, brown suede vest and brown suede lace ups. You cab also try an open collared shirt, wool vest with brown chuka boots. You see a lot of this in Ralph Lauren's country collection. I think it's a great English look especially in the early fall when there is a crispness in the air and you can layer with sweaters and scarves.
I would wear a brown corduroy sport coat using the same ideas but throw in a pair of charcoal flannel trousers to dress it up a bit.
There are a couple of different types of corduroy and they need not be daunting if you follow a few simple rules:
Pin Whale: The narrower the whale the dressier the corduroy.
Wide Whale: The wider the whale the more casual the look.
You can still wear the wider whale cords with the same pattered sport coat but I would dress it down with a sweater and no tie or maybe even a bow tie for a hipsters look.

Lastly, I love a corduroy suit and I own a brown pin whale that I had made. I could wear this twice a week in the fall and winter I love it so much. The corduroy is so soft that the nap is almost like velvet. I usually wear this with a pair of brown Cole Haan derby shoes and an ecru, tiny grey and brown windowpain shirt, silk knit or wool tie.

So, like the song I heard so many times as a kid and misunderstood the lyrics, don't misunderstand corduroy.
There are so many options, dressy and casual you are missing the boat if you don't have any, cause you should.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The art of the wardrobe

Where to start? Good question. And that was the question of a new client that was sent my way a few days ago. Upon meeting my client he asked me to go thru his closet and help guide him as to... "what goes with what?" :-) He wanted to know what goes with what he already had and how often he can wear certain pieces per week. He has never had anything custom made before so I wanted to see what he did have as to not duplicate anything that he can still wear and help him compliment the existing pieces with some new additions. So, what I always like to do is start with the basics. Most guys haven't properly built their wardrobe and don't have the essentials that are needed to start building a wardrobe. It's important to have the essentials because they are the backbone of dressing well.

Some of the essentials that every man should have to start building a wardrobe are:
Navy blue suit, solid or stripe, 2 button single breasted
Grey suit, solid or stripe
Navy blue blazer, 2 button single breasted
Grey trousers, plain or pleated
Tan trousers
Black or Cognac colored shoes
Yes cognac goes with blue and grey and looks very professional in the workplace. You won't look like every other bloke in the office either. You'll look like you spent some time getting dressed in the morning. Besides eveyone wears black and you should have 2 pairs of shoes, one of each and rotate daily.
White and blue non-button down shirt
Button down shirts are less formal and if you're building a wardrobe and have limited resources I would recommend a spread collar for more formal occasions. This can be paired with the blue or grey suit. You can always wear these shirts without a tie to achieve a more casual look.

One demographic of clients that inspired me to discuss the issue of building a wardrobe are my retired military clients leaving the military and entering the private sector of non camoufloged work attire. They need direction on building a wardrobe and what it means by business casual. I like to educate them and assist them in looking professional in the workplace. Helping them understand how they can mix pieces and extend their wardrobe so they have additional outfits. One example is pairing a pinstripe suit coat with a pair of jeans for a more casual look on Fridays or the weekends. I wouldn't do this with a Jos A. Bank suit coat as it is too conservative looking in it's appearance and construction. But a suit coat from Banana Rupublic or one from Eric Finn would work perfectly. It's softer in its construction and the fabrics lend itself to go both ways.

Building a wardrobe isn't that difficult, you only need a few key pieces and you don't have to break the bank to get started. You just have to purchase the essentials and then build around them.