I sometimes hear discussion of the "height of the gorge" on a jacket but I am unsure what this means. Some seem to imply that it is a synonym for button stance while others say that it is the area where the collar meets the lapel. Low gorge jackets are considered dated by many yet my search for a low gorge using the second definition wasn't successful.
The gorge is the jacket seam where collar and lapel meet. A higher or lower gorge means the notch or peak on the lapel lies higher or lower on the shoulder area. The first photo is a close-up of a recent Thomas Mahon double breasted. Note the lapel seam running roughly parallel to and above the shirt collar points.
The second photo is a vintage Jimmy Stewart in a double breasted. Notice how much lower the gorge and lapel peaks are on his chest.
I have a hard time keeping my shirt tucked in during the course of the day. I've read that one way to keep the shirt tucked in is to have a buttonhole put on the shirt to button to the trousers. Does this work?
Your shirttails are probably too short, a common problem with ready to wear shirts. I went to a seven button front with a tail a couple inches longer than normal after having that problem many years ago and have never had it since. Talk to your shirtmaker about it.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
The start of summer means we change hats, shoes, suits, shirts, neckties and even braces with the season. In winter I support my suit trousers with braces, called suspenders in the United States, with straps of boxcloth, a heavy felt. For summer I switch to the barathea version, a lighter fabric made from silk and wool.
Summer or winter, braces support a man's suit trousers with less aggravation than a belt. They're "don and forget," unlike belted trousers that have to be pulled up several times a day. The ends should by the way match one's shoes, or be white. I wear white, so I can wear any pair of braces with any shoes.
Barathea is not quite as comfortable to wear as boxcloth, as the fabric is thinner and not as cushiony. But barathea braces are also considerably lighter than boxcloth and that makes a difference in the heat. Indeed, the dog days of summer are the only time I will occasionally do without as some of my summer suits have trousers designed to be self-supporting.
The best makers of braces these days is Albert Thurston. I endorse Thurston because its models are sized, and the boxcloth versions are designed so that they can be shortened. That means that the metal adjustors are always near one's waist where they belong. Other products unfortunately are "one size fits none," which puts the adjustors at shoulder level - where they can be very distracting to someone who is supposed to be looking at my face.
Summer is barathea braces time.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Regular ASW readers know that I'm a regular Sam Hober necktie customer. Regular, but by no means monogamous as I've not been able to convince David to stock a wider variety of solid colored silks. And, since I wear solid neckties far more than patterns, that leaves me with little choice but to shop around.
So April was knit tie month for me, and May has been summer solids. The two shown here were acquired from Ben Silver, to wear with tan jackets in the country.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Today we borrow an image from the gallery of French designer Marc Guyot to illustrate how easily even the best dressers can fall into the trap of over-coordination. Here, shirt, necktie, pocket square and sweater coordinate with the overcheck in the suit and the undoubtedly attractive result looks as if the wearer is trying too hard.
Trying too hard flies in the face of the best dressing tradition, where the idea is to spend the time necessary to look as though no time's been spent at all. After all, it's not difficult to avoid the trap of over-coordination. Change an element in the ensemble in the photo to an unrelated color - a necktie with a rose ground perhaps - and our gaze would not linger.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Summertime, and if the living isn't exactly easy I take heart because it's the time light gray suits come into their own. Whether it's a dove gray solid or a black and white houndstooth that looks solid from a distance, light gray is my suit color for the season.
Just as charcoal complements winter's wet pavement, light gray is at home on sun-kissed sidewalks. Try it with a bit of mohair mixed in and you've a suit that travels without complaint, resisting wrinkles all day and into the evening.
Like the gentleman in the illustration, I like to pair light gray suits with pale blue shirts, a dark necktie - the black silk knit is a personal favorite, suede shoes and a light gray hat.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Today is a holiday in the United States and I'm using part of the time for some spring cleaning. I've set aside three suits and a half dozen pair of odd trousers for donation, reorganized the closet that I use for out of season clothes, and gone online for some new underwear. Once I choose some fabric for a couple pair of replacement pajamas I'll be ready for a nap just like Bart Simpson.
I really hate to give up those pajamas, which have reached that perfect state of softness. But when the elbows start wearing through it's got to be time.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
I had a very nice message from David Hober last night, written as he sat overlooking the Thai village where the Sam Hober company makes their neckties. David said he had an order from Poland yesterday, from a gentleman who said he found him on A Suitable Wardrobe, which he reads daily.
San Francisco to Poland to Thailand. That's kind of cool.
Posted by Will at 4:30 PM
Thursday, May 22, 2008
A reader wrote recently asking my opinion on patch and flap pockets and I responded that they weren't my favorite but they have been, for some unknown reason, a traditional styling element on gabardine suits in the United States. Here Apparel Arts shows them on tan gabardine in both city and university settings. The only difference is the top stitching on the pockets on the campus suit.
I remember, in the distant past when Brooks Brothers was my authority on all matters related to dress, that patch and flap pockets were the default on bespoke tweed and gabardine suits unless I requested something else specifically. I know I had them, top stitching and all, on a tan gabardine as well as a gray herringbone that I finally donated to charity last year.
The downside of patch pockets in general is that they are a bit smaller than standard pockets, and more inclined to bulge. That's not a good thing for a man who, like me, uses every pocket that he has. On the positive side, they don't have undersides that need to be hidden by lining inside the jacket, although that's usually something that matters only to summer suits and neither tweed nor gabardine is a suiting I reach for on a hot day.
That said, I have one tweed with patch and flap side pockets that I ordered just to remind me of the days when I spent my Saturdays at BroBroClo, the name my now long retired salesman had me write on the many checks I left there.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
So I've been thinking about shirts lately. I hadn't done that for quite some time.
For many years my shirt wardrobe has been pretty basic: long sleeved dress shirts and short sleeved cotton polos. I do own a suede shirt jacket that's showing its age, and that started my thinking.
The problem I had with that shirt jacket is that I bought it off the rack and the sleeves were too long. So I set out to replace it with something in flannel that would keep me warm on a cool day and also fit me. And once I realized that I wasn't limited to dress shirts and polos my eyes opened a little wider.
So my next step into the wider world of shirts has been to order some short sleeved linen shirts for summer. They won't be exactly like the shirts in the illustration though. I think a single pocket on a shirt is awkward, so each of mine will have two buttoning breast pockets with a center placket. That way I can store reading glasses on one side and sunglasses on the other.
Small potatoes I know, but it's good to try new things.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
My fiance and I have been arguing over the clothes for our wedding party for sometime now. I would prefer to wear matching suits and ties. Is it appropriate for the groom and his groomsman to wear suits instead of tuxedos?
Suits would be much better than tuxedos for a daytime wedding, when a dinner jacket would be incorrect (the proper formal clothes would be morning coats or strollers like the ones in the illustration). Dinner jackets would be a bit better than suits in the evening (as long as they are not pastel colored anyway) but it's your wedding. You'd look fine in navy suits.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This vidcap from the film Wall Street makes me imagine a scene that was left on the cutting room floor, where Gordon Gekko calls Alan Flusser, who did the wardrobe for the movie.
"Yeah Alan the cuffs are fine but the collar doesn't fit. Get somebody down here and fix it!"
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Bay Meadows race track outside San Francisco ended its season the other day. The place where Seabiscuit raced into the history books seventy years ago is being replaced with condominiums and office buildings.
The decline of horse racing in the United States has put the race track suit on the endangered species list. Loud tweeds, checked shirts and suede shoes are in their element around day time horse racing in the same way that a dinner jacket seems natural in the front row at a boxing match. And, lacking a venue, they also disappear.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Known for his oversized neckties, Prince Michael of Kent outdoes himself. It's out of proportion and I don't recommend it but I do need to give credit for the largest knot I have seen this century. The matching jacket and cloth cap are a sign of bespoke tailoring.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Exotic automobiles are beautiful machines. They are also expensive, challenging to drive, and sometimes troublesome to operate. As a Ferrari-owning executive at Ford Motor Company, Torbin Fuller, now the CEO of Club Sportiva, reasoned that the growth of time sharing for yachts, vacation homes and aircraft meant that there would be a market for automobile time sharing as well. After all, according to Fuller, the typical exotic automobile is driven just fourteen days a year. And four years ago he left Ford to turn his vision into reality in the San Francisco Bay area - one of the world's most beautiful places to drive.
Today, Club Sportiva members share a dozen very interesting vehicles, including a Lotus Elise, Maserati Spyder, two Ferraris and an Aston Martin DB9 Volante. Each is available by the day for a predetermined number of points, which are earned from membership fees that start at $3,500 annually. The entry fee provides twelve days a year access to vehicles that cost less than $125,000. Fees for the most popular membership levels range from $7,500 to $25,000 annually, accommodating more useage and more expensive vehicles.
Those fees buy a high caliber user experience that may be better than exotic car ownership. The club is aimed at people (20% of the members are women) who appreciate cars rather than hard-core car geeks. So, as you might expect, the cars are impeccably maintained and supported with around the clock roadside service. Most of them are replaced every nine months, so the available experiences are always changing. And there are car fleets for travelling members in locations such as Las Vegas and Munich.
The Club Sportiva clubhouse is a garage full of original artworks, with lounges, a small dining area and conference facilities and when the members are not actually driving they enjoy weekly social activities ranging from poker nights and winemaker dinners to road rallies and charitable events. But, first and foremost, the club is about the cars. Torbin and I shared that DB9 while we talked, with the top open and the exhaust rumbling in the sunshine.
Where do I sign?
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I've always been hesitant to wear silk pocket squares in the city, preferring the greater discretion of linen. But lately I've been experimenting with squares whose background color is similar to that of my jacket.
In the photo, which we had to shoot several times as yesterday's intense light kept washing out the colors, a navy square provides a bit of sheen against the matte of a navy suit. Not quite as discreet as white linen but not loud either.
Worn with a lavender shirt and a gray grenadine necktie.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The decline of the west, or rather mens' evening dress, was there for all to see at San Francisco Ballet’s New Works Festival recently. We should be thankful that mothers continue to teach their daughters how to wear clothes. Certainly some fathers forgot to teach their sons about the proper length of a pair of trousers.
Photographs are courtesy of Drew Altizer Photography. © Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Well-dressed men devote thought to their clothes. Wardrobes, like most things in life, need to be managed.
Thinking men periodically take an inventory of their clothes, discarding worn, stained and outdated items. They purge things that haven't been worn in more than a year. And they keep the remainder in good repair.
By the beginning of each season, the man with a managed wardrobe has acquired his clothes for that season, including his requirements for special occasions such as weddings and holidays. And he's thinking about his clothes for the season to come, so he will have replacements for things that are nearing the end of their useful or fashionable lives.
With proper planning a man never finds himself forced to purchase a bright blue raincoat at the last minute because there's nothing else available.
Monday, May 5, 2008
In these photos tailor Thomas Mahon and I are discussing the details of a quarter lining in a Fallan & Harvey jacket. Where a half lined coat has Bemberg or other lining material down the sides and half way down the back, the quarter lined jacket has most of the back and side lining removed to allow for greater air circulation. Visible seams are either finished or taped.
This photo shows how there is just enough lining to hold an eyeglass pocket (near the arm hole).
Some English tailors are less familiar with quarter lined coats and tend to fall back on the half lining because it's relatively easy to remove a piece of lower back material. A quarter lined jacket is a bit more work as the lining has to be sewn into place, however it wears considerably cooler.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Linen season is upon us. Mustard linen suit, checked linen shirt, and an Irish poplin necktie worn with slip-on spectator shoes for an alfresco lunch yesterday.
The secret to wearing linen is that heavier cloth doesn't wrinkle like the lighter weaves. This 14 ounce material just rumples gracefully.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
I hadn't visited Cobbler's Laboratory for some time when I went there the other day to look for an image to use for my "I'm Think I'm Turning Japanese" post of a few days ago. While I was there I took a moment to look at what is perhaps my favorite blue odd jacket cloth. I wouldn't style a jacket the same way for myself but the cloth is a homespun tweed with a wonderful texture. Unfortunately, when I asked the man who made it, Peter Harvey of Fallan & Harvey, he couldn't recall where the cloth came from.