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I'm glad winter is almost done, and Spring is knocking on our door. I can't wait to dump my winter coat at my desk. I'm now thinking of the colours and jacket styles to upgrade my wardrobe for the upcoming season.
My excitement didn't last long as it was over shadowed by a recent conversation I had with a group of ladies about men that lack a sense of style. They spoke passionately as though men who makes mistake are criminals; they're certainly not prepared to have a chat, not to mention dating such fella.
Sad but true. It's true! It's very sad to admit that, unfortunately, not every man has an innate sense of style. The complexities of pairing a good outfit and mastering the art of looking sharp takes a lot of time and practice to acquire. With Spring around the corner, we're going to start seeing an array of gents experimenting with their styles,- which is great! My worry is that I don't want an experiment that'll hinder your chances of ending up with your dream woman. Hence why I've conjured the three key points from the conversation I had with the fashion police women.
Three things to avoid
I feel it's appropriate to begin my first post in several weeks with a confession. So here it is - I am short. Really very short - 5'1'' on a good day. On the rare occasions that I confess this statistic to acquaintances, I am often met with surprise - sure, people know I'm short, but most don't seem to realise quite how short I am.
Why is this, you may ask? Well, I have to confess that big hair, big heels and a direct personality certainly help, but it's also down to what I wear.
If, like me, you are on the more petite side then there are lots of dressing tricks you can use to disguise this fact. Dressing a short or petite body can be challenging if you are shopping on the high street, but it's not as hard as you might think. Here are my top tips for the vertically challenged (a lot of these tips are also appropriate for slim builds, regardless of height). 1) Fit
This is absolutely crucial. Wearing properly fitting garments is the single most effective thing that you can do to downplay the fact that you are lacking in the height department. One of the biggest 'give aways' that you are short are garments that are too large and long - perfectly cut and fitted tailored items will do more for you than a pair of 'lift its' ever will.
- Always go for a slim fit shirts, jackets and trousers even if you are not used to it. Don't drown your smaller from frame in too much fabric - keep it tailored and neat. Our bespoke suits and shirts are made exactly to your measurements are and ideal.
- Too-long sleeves, trousers and, most importantly, jackets will draw attention to your size; conversely correct proportions will conceal.
- A petit man in a too-long jacket will always look like a teenager in a hand-me-down - make sure that your jacket comes no lower than your crotch in front only just covers your seat.
- avoid low waisted trousers, as they shorten the legs.
-trouser hems can be 0.5 longer than 'standard' to add extra length to the legs, but should under no circumstances bunch up at the back! Similarly, suit sleeves can be a little longer than the standard so long as you maintain that perfect 0.5 of cuff.
2) ProportionAn oft-forgotten contributor to overall look, the proportions of your garment should be considered second only to fit. If all the details of your clothing are proportional to your frame then it's harder for the frame to look small.
- avoid any outsize details such as chunky belts, big buttons or wide lapels. A lightly narrowed lapel is flattering on a compact, slim gentleman.
- Petite ladies should consider short, hip-length jackets and high-waisted skirts to lengthen the legs; tall heels paired with long trousers will also give you inches. Generally I find straight trousers (wide or slim) more leg-lengthening than bootcut.
3) StyleAlways think neat, clean, and streamlined - don't overwhelm your small frame with extras.
- For jackets, stick to one or two button fastenings; their longer lapels lengthen the torso. Ladies should go for a sharp, nipped-in one-button blazer.
- Slanted pockets on the jacket lengthen the upper body.
- Chose 3 rather than 4 buttons on the sleeve to maintain proportion with arm length.
- Avoid ticket pockets that clutter the torso.
- Chose side adjusters on your trousers. Wearing a belt shortens the legs and creates an unwanted horizontal line right across the torso; beltless trousers with no loops create a cleaner look and allow the eye to run right down the body, creating an illusion of extra height
- Flat-fronted slim cut trousers lengthen and streamline the legs.
- No more than 2 pockets on waistcoats! As always, avoid extra horizontal lines
- ladies - avoid frou-frou styles with lots of fabric
4) Colour and fabricIt's a myth that short people should wear only dark colours - it doesn't add any inches! However, I do recommend that shorter people avoid large, busy patterns and stick with more subtle alternatives and plain colours (for example, I own very few printed items).
- patterns with vertical details, such as a herringbone, work better on shorter frames than other patterns such as birdeyes and checks; I recommend our RTallwool-100215 range
- patterns should always be proportional - so look for smaller herringbones and closer, finer pinstripes. Large patterns can overwhelm small frames.
- for shirts, chose a stripe over a check
- generally, avoid heavy, bulky fabrics
5) WardrobeAll these tips are all very well but what about putting it all together? Careful wardrobe planning is the icing on the cake for the perfect petit look.
- Keep it clean and uncluttered - don't have too much going on in your outfit at once. A patterned suit should be paired with a plainer shirt and tie, and vice versa
- Similarly, don't bring in too many colour families. Keeping things in the same 'tone' adds a lean, uncluttered air
- Exercise careful use of accessories.
- A tailored suit is an ideal garment for a petit man, simply because having the top half of the body matching the bottom lengthens things out. Ladies - this tip goes for you, too!
- For jeans, stick with more slim, tailored styles. Avoid both low-rise skinny jeans and bulky, baggy styles with lots of pockets.
- Be wary of the garment layering that is oh-so-popular in modern times - it breaks up the body.
- A simple sheath dress is a great choice for ladies
- Match your socks to your trousers, and some advocate matching your shoes as well. (Personally, I like an interesting shoe so I disregard this tip with relish).
For further advice and help with wardrobe planning, just drop me an email to email@example.com or book an appointment with me in our City Road branch.
Rule 5: Double-breasted suits add breadth to a man. They should only be worn by those with slim builds.
To reiterate the philosophy behind this series: All rules are there for a reason. They become rules because they have practical advantages. But there's nothing wrong with breaking them, as long as you understand these practical advantages.
A double-breasted suit adds breadth to a man because it creates horizontal lines. Rather than going straight down, the lapels run across the body. The buttons, whether there are four or six, create horizontal lines as well. They create a box that adds squareness to a man.
The peak lapels also create breadth because they point outwards no matter how high on the collar they appear, they add another horizontal line across the top of them.
This is all fairly straightforward. Horizontal lines create breadth just like belts, checks and cuffs on trousers. But consider those lines for a minute and think how their breadth-giving properties could be minimised.
(In other words, consider the practical advantages behind the rule why they are good for a thin man and play with them.)
A double-breasted lapel that cuts across the chest and ends at a point above a man's natural waist (so just above his belly button) will create quite a flat line. But if it ends lower down, buttoning below the natural waist or even on the hips, the line becomes more vertical.
Now narrow the distance between the buttons. The smaller the overlap of the double breast is, the more vertical the line of the lapel will be and the more its broadening effect will be reduced. And the shorter the horizontal line between the buttons will be.
Obviously you don't want to push this too far, otherwise you might as well have a single-breasted jacket. But slightly adjusting both of these things will make the jacket more slender in a very subtle way.
Lastly, a personal quirk of mine is only having two buttons on a double-breasted suit. So just the two buttons required to fasten the jacket, and no more. It is a little bit individual and it means there is only one horizontal line, not two or three.
So there you go. A double-breasted suit does not necessarily make a man too broad. By lengthening the lapel, making it more vertical and reducing the buttons you can create a double-breasted jacket that a large man can wear and will only give him broad shoulders not a big stomach.
One would be forgiven for thinking, after the latest crop of S/S shows, the fashion industry is charging through styles at unprecedented rate. The A/W offerings allowed us to forget the recession and bury our heads in not sand, but sequins, and added a healthy dose of brash, 80's inspired styles to the mix, in the form of bubble skirts, big shoulders and acid colours.
Fast forward to the spring summer shows at it would appear that fashion has taken a complete U-turn, plunging straight from a loud 80's style into paired down 90's minimalism - the runways were awash with white, nudes and , the key pieces being classics such as crisp white shirts (seen at on the Givenchy, Stella McCartney and Donna Karen runways) and blazers (seen at MaxMara and Ralph Lauren).
The great thing about these kind of pieces is that, as classics, they are a totally guilt-free buy - when is a white shirt or a navy blazer ever going to be seriously out of style? Now is the time to stock up on these classic items.
However, for the majority of us that fall slightly outside of the standard industry sizing, the thought of buying such basics leaves us tearing our hair - shelling out for a designer item, however classic it may be, doesn't seem like such a great investment when the sleeves are too short, or the back to long, or the bust too small. What's a girl to do?
The simple answer is to get something tailored for you. Here at A Suit That Fits.com we can tailor-make your perfect shirt, exactly to your frame and measurements, in an amazing array of 15 types of white fabric. Click here too see my perfect white ladies shirt in herringbone with a navy striped under-collar for extra stylistic interest.
The ideal classic navy blazer has one button and slanted flapped pockets - I recommend one of our silk-wool blends for a luxurious look, in navy or navy pinstripe . For a more casual look that's right on trend, choose linen or corduroy (seen at Ralph Lauren)
If I was to wear a proper hat, most likely a trilby or a fedora (generally speaking, narrow or wide-brimmed respectively), it would have to be casual enough to wear with jeans and a shirt as well as a suit.
So probably a soft, brown felt, with a narrow ribbon and minimal bow. Id looked around for a few years without much enthusiasm. But then a chance encounter in Madrid a couple of weeks ago turned my fortunes.
Like many European cities, the best menswear shops in Madrid specialise in selling English style to the locals. This one had Hackett shirts, Drakes ties and Penhaligons perfume, alongside the standard woven belts and driving shoes. But it also stocked Lock Co hats, and the Voyager Sombrero in size 7 3/8 seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I waited until I could go to Lock Co in London, finally getting over to St Jamess Street last week. Retail manager Andrew Baselgia was immediate and exact in his analysis: you have a long head so you need a larger size, but the brim needs to be smaller to avoid it overbalancing you, he said.
He went straight for the 7 3/8 Voyager (theres no Sombrero suffix in the UK) when I said I wanted a soft, brown and casual hat. It looked (300) great and, to be honest, I felt a little ashamed that I had put off buying a hat like this for so long. Perhaps it had more to do with social norms than I would have liked to admit. The Voyager also rolls up for travelling abroad, which is perfect for me when going away for business. You just have to push out the crown, fold down the brim all the way around, and gently fold the hat in half to form a concave curve. You then roll that curve up, making it much easier to carry and store.
Though to be honest, Ill be taking quite a bit of pleasure in storing it at home in the distinctive Lock white hat box that came with it.
Notes on actually wearing the thing to come separately.
You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall there come upon you a garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff.
Throughout history, stripes have always been an eye-catching and bold fashion statement. In the Middle Ages, upstanding, moral people would not go about in striped clothing.
Stripes were not seen as respectable and had a touch of scandal about them, and were worn primarily by figures living outside society - gypsies, vagabonds, fools and jesters, musicians, dancers, artists, and ladies of questionable morals were all depicted in striped clothing. These days, evidently runway designers are not overly concerned about the moral aspects of striped clothing or spend much time reading the Bible, as one of the most prominent looks to emerge from the crop of S/S 10 collections was la parisienne - white, beige, red, navy and cream, with spots, buttons, and, crucially, stripes.
If youve been in a high street store recently, its clear to see that the most popular trend of winter (sequins) has been replaced by the first trend of spring - stripes. The great thing about stripes is that they still retain a touch of the rebellious about them - think pirates, French revolutionaries, prison escapees.ideal for the deviant who usually feels constrained by traditional office wear. The first thing to consider when wearing striped clothing is that stripes are eye-catching. Dont wear stripes unless you feel comfortable drawing attention to yourself! Because of this, you should pay carefully attention to your entire outfit - it must be clean, pressed and perfectly fitted. Stripes will highlight anything awry in your clothing.
The second thing to think about is the size and direction of stripe in relation to you - a petite, slim woman can be overwhelmed by a very large stripe, while a very narrow stripe can make a voluptuous figure appear larger. The same goes for direction - as everyone knows, vertical stripes are slimming and lengthening; horizontal stripes are broadening. Dont get too bogged down by the rules though - there are lots of great horizontally-striped pieces about right now, and if youre confident, then wear them regardless.
The most on trend way to wear stripes is a balanced stripe in white and either black, red or navy or blue. To rock the stripes trend the A Suit That Fits.com way, check out our perfectly tailored ladies shirts in fabrics PS-6012, CTP-4, CTP-3 and CTP-2.
If youre not into shirts, a pinstriped or chalk striped ladies suit or blazer makes a striking style statement. Our boldest striped fabrics are our chalk stripes and boating cottons.
With the noughties now over and we look forward into a new decade its time to take a look at some of the biggest trends from the noughties that promise to still be big in the 2010s.
The mod look was big in tailoring throughout most of the noughties and continues its influence into 2010. To achieve the mod look everything gets slimmer, lapels are half width or 3, as opposed to the usual 4 and shirt collars are skinny and or cut-away. Ties also are slimmed down, steer away from the super skinny ties popular in the mid-noughties, instead a 2-2 and half inch tie is a lot easier to wear and looks more modern. Bring your jacket hem up and inch or two and go for those slim enough go for an ultra-fitted suit, for those who are broader a slim fit will suit your frame better. Although this is quite a young trend, you dont have to do the whole she-bang, just a skinny collared shirt, slimmer lapel or tie or a slightly shorter jacket is enough to get down with the cool kids.
Grey, grey and more grey! -
The end of the noughties was a time for sombre reflection, the credit bubble burst, banks went bust and mum stopped shopping at Iceland. This had a huge impact on fashion and tailoring. Ostentatious, show me the money dressing was out, and sombre, understated, serious dressing in every shade of grey dominated. Whatever the shade and however you wear it grey is still everywhere, but as it now looks as if we might be pulling out of the recession its time to jazz the grey suit up. A mohair tonic in a light shade of grey perfect for summer, still grey but the two tone effect of the wool looks very cool. Add in the most ostentatious lining you can bear, it is on the inside after all so only when you wear your suit open will your co-workers/friends/family be treated to a blast of hot pink, or whatever shade you choose. Choosing a cloth with a herringbone/check/bird eye pattern is also a great way to add an extra little pazz-azz to a grey suit.
Dressing up -
The noughties saw in a new age for men, David Beckham and the metro-sexual brigade. Going into 2010 it is not only acceptable but positively encouraged by the fairer sex, for men to take pride in their appearance. Although its not exactly a return to the years of the dandy, 3-piece suits are becoming increasingly popular, handkerchiefs are again being worn in breast pockets, smart/casual tweed jackets are everywhere and my personal favourite, double breasted jackets and waistcoats are back. This is not so much about dressing up, but dressing well and adding a little flair to what you wear. When choosing a new suit push the boundaries a little, always wanted a 3-piece go for it, want to dapper up a bit more, go for a double breasted rather than a single this time. I will never be one of those men who spends half an hour in the bathroom applying every product under the sun, an extra 2 minutes in front of the mirror adding a nice handkerchief that I can do.
It's not easy wearing a hat. You stand out more in a crowd than a man wearing polka-dot knickerbockers or a cape. The hat radically changes a man's silhouette, probably more than any other item of clothing.
People look at you if you wear a hat. Anyone that is passionate about classic men's style is probably used to the stares of others. But a (proper) hat draws stares from everyone, everywhere.
I bought my first proper hat a brown-felt trilby from Lock Co a couple of weeks ago and am just getting used to these sensations, this attention.The comments on that previous post included: I have been a daily hat wearer for years. While I do get the occasional odd glance while wearing a hat, I mainly get compliments and also wearing a hat makes you look like a dope, especially if the hat is a very fine one. I can completely understand why men are passionate about hats in both directions.I think the reason is that everyone knows hats are incredibly practical, but they don't feel comfortable wearing one.
And I can't help feeling that perhaps they resent that. Or they resent that their head gets cold and they feel silly in a beanie. And flat caps look odd, or over trendy.A hat keeps you warm. It's an overused fact, but a fact nonetheless, that most of your body heat escapes through your head. When you get older, losing your hair, many years from now (as the Beatles put it) you need something to cover your head in cold weather. It's necessary.And a hat keeps you dry. Remember those close ups of Humphrey Bogart, standing in the rain on a street corner, watching the house opposite? The rain was pelting down on his hat and trench coat. But he wasn't getting wet. It's an oddly liberating experience when you first where a proper hat in the rain, and everyone around you is either clashing umbrellas or scampering for cover.If you just don't like hats, fine. But trust me, if you have even the sneakiest suspicion that you might like one, try it a few times and you won't want to turn back. Sure, you'll feel self-conscious, but that's the case with wearing anything new. I used to feel self-conscious wearing a pocket handkerchief. Now I get odd looks if I'm not wearing one.Some hat enthusiasts will disagree with me, but I think a hat is also an unusual enough accessory to need balance elsewhere. I won't wear my hat with a double-breasted suit, tie and briefcase. Because to me that is straying almost into costume or a lack of individuality. I think my hat looks best with casual trousers, a blazer and open-necked shirt. Perhaps a raincoat on top. In the same way I wouldn't wear a tie, pocket handkerchief, tie clip and boutonniere to work, no matter how good it might look. It's a question of balance and personal taste.Finally, for those that requested it, there are shots here of my hat with its box, and a photo of how it looks rolled up for travel. . .
Velvet is an ancient fabric, its earliest ancestors first being woven in Egypt more than 4000 years ago. The first European masters of velvet production were the Italians of the 14th century, and some of the finest velvets available today are still produced in Genoa and Florence.
Velvet is a warp-pile fabric, meaning that is woven with one set of weft (horizontal) fibres and two sets of warp (vertical) fibres, the second set of which are evenly cut to create the distinctive soft pile. Velvets are woven on a special loom that weaves two layers of fabric, one above the other, that are connected by the extra set of warp threads; the warp threads are then cut to produce two sheets of fabric that are wound up on separate rolls. Velveteen is a weft-pile fabric and has a shorter pile than true velvet. The extra steps and yarn involved in the production of velvet means that it is traditionally a costly fabric and one that has always been synonymous with luxury.
The pile of the fabric means that dying velvet produces the richest colours available in any fabric, and the soft pile, subtle lustre and excellent draping qualities make it the ultimate choice for evening wear. Originally, all velvets were made with silk. While 100% silk velvet is still available today, it is extremely rare and almost prohibitively expensive, retailing for upwards for 100/m. Most fabrics referred to today as silk velvet have a silk backing and rayon (viscose) pile. The chemical and physical differences between the pile and backing fibres means that these types of fabric can be used produce shot velvets (where the pile is a different colour to the backing) and devore or cut velvets (where the pile is burned away in a particular design).
Velvet can also be woven from polyester (often with lycra and used in dancewear) and cotton (often referred to, incorrectly, as velveteen - although many velveteens are in fact woven from cotton). Cotton velvet does not have the quite the same luxurious sheen and drape of a silk velvet but it has more body and is harder wearing, so is an excellent choice for daywear and outerwear such as jackets, blazers and trousers.
Velvet fabrics were huge on both the mens and womens A/W 09/10 international runways. If youre feeling the velvet bug, A Suit That Fits.com can create your perfect jacket, trousers or waistcoat in one of our luxurious moleskin velvets - choose from black, maroon, green, navy or royal blue .Out of all of this winters trends, velvet is one of easiest to work into your office-wear, because its simply very easy to get right and very hard to go wrong! The luxurious look of velvet makes it smart enough for work, and the rich but office-friendly hues it tends to come in make it easy to add much-needed colour to an otherwise dull work outfit, and the texture can give you a welcome break from wool-based fabrics.
Styling for ladies -The smartest way to wear velvet is to buy a velvet skirt and/or trouser suit but wear it as separates - for fans of A Suit That Fits.com obviously the best choice is our ladies suit in velvet. For a jacket, nix the black and instead choose a jacket in purple, blue, red or green. Pair with grey or black trousers or a skirt.Velvet skirts look good on everyone and are infinitely more flattering that any satin alternatives. Again, go for colour and wear with a fitted monochrome shirt such as our ladies shirt in white or black herringbone.Velvet trousers are the ideal choice for the more adventurous - in a colour if youre feeling brave, otherwise stick to classic black straight leg trousers to add a touch of glamour and insouciance to your wardrobe.
Styling for gents-
A velvet suit looks great but for those who dont quite have the bravado to rock a full-on velvet 2-piece, a velvet waistcoat is a good choice, and can either be worn either in a contrasting colour to liven up a plain black or charcoal suit, or simply matching to add a touch of lux to stripes or patterns. Design your own using our separates wizard.
CareVelvet is difficult to clean and requires special care, as improper handling or storage can flatten parts of the pile and ruin the fabric. All velvets must not be touched with a regular iron - instead, either steam out creases or iron on the reverse side of the fabric over a velvet pressing board. Some all-synthetic blends can be machine washed, but most velvets can only be dry cleaned. However, unbeknown to most, some silk velvets can be washed using lukewarm water and hair shampoo (the silk fibre being similar to hair), provided that the pile is then brushed up by hand and the garment hung outside on a very windy day. The wind fluffs up the pile, removing creases and flattened areas to give you a perfect, glossy finish.
A shirt with cuffs and collar (usually white) that are a different colour to the body is not easy to wear well. Sometimes known as a contrast collar, it is more often worn badly than flatteringly.
It should be a slightly unusual part of a man's outfit, rather than something that glares. The key, for me, is to wear it with a tie that is dark enough or colourful enough to push the contrast collar into the background. White collar and cuffs hark back to the days when both items would be removable. As the only items that would really be seen the body buried beneath tie, waistcoat and jacket that was not removed the collar and cuffs needed to be clean, smart and crisp. Hence the starch.
(And that moment in the Dickens novel Martin Chuzzlewit where one character is revealed to have packed piles of collars and cuffs for his journey to America, but no shirts. All one needed was the starched white extremities to give an impression of respectability.)
Being detachable was very practical. The collar and cuffs wear out quickest, so having replaceable ones considerably lengthened the life of the shirt. Even today, Turnbull Asser tell me that they frequently reinvigorate bespoke customers' shirts by replacing the collar and cuffs with white ones (the original colour sometimes being out of production or difficult to match).
But the men (usually bankers) that you see wearing them often look garishly, not to say cheaply dressed. That's because the tie they choose is often too pale or too plain to draw attention. And the outfit becomes about the contrast between shirt body and shirt collar.
So with a blue shirt with white collar, say, a pale blue tie or one with only a small geometric pattern is not going to be strong enough. If it were replaced with a navy-blue tie with silver club stripe, attention would shift to the tie and away from the collar.
Pattern is as important as tone. Yesterday I saw a young banker wearing a plain black tie with a blue/white contrast collar. Aside from the fact that plain black will often look cheap, the lack of pattern ruined the combination. In contrast, I observed a slightly older man in the City wearing a dark grey tie against the same shirt, the tie patterned by silver paisley motifs. It was still subtle, but there was no question of the collar dominating.
Think of the contrast between shirt and collar in the same way as you would the stripes of a suit. If the stripes are so strong that they dominate the outfit, the wearer is unlikely to look chic or sophisticated. And the tie is, in its way, a little like the pocket handkerchief: usually it is meant to stand out against the suit, just like a tie. The collar should not.
Oh, and it goes without saying that the contrast collar and cuffs looks a lot better when you keep your jacket on.
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