26 Shades of Blue

THIS SPRING, THE WORLD’S MOST UNIVERSALLY BELOVED COLOR — AND THE COLOR THAT SOMEHOW MAGICALLY LOOKS GOOD ON EVERYONE — IS EVERYWHERE! IN A STUNNING SPECTRUM OF SOLIDS, PRINTS, TEXTURES AND PATTERNS, WHEN IT COMES TO BLUE, THE SKY AND THE SEA ARE THE LIMIT. SO GO GET YOUR BLUE ON!

PHOTOGRAPHY: SERGIO KURHAJEK / STYLING: WENDY MCNETT / HAIR & MAKEUP: CLAIRE BAYLEY

Ask Forum: Spring 2013 Fashion Tips for Her

Q: There are many beautiful, lightweight scarves out there, but how can I wear them in the warmer months?
In the Northwest where it rarely gets too hot, you can pretty much use a scarf all year, especially a sheer style in airy cashmere or a cotton/cashmere blend. When it does get warmer, untie it and drape it over your shoulders as an easy wrap.

We’re also starting to see silk scarves come back as a fashion item, like Pucci. Look for them in the same geometric, striped or color blocked patterns popular in RTW styles. To get even more use out of your scarf collection, tie one up and wear it as a headband or style it on your handbag to accessorize.

Q: Color always plays an important role in my spring/summer wardrobe. Are there any particular color trends I should look for this season?
Beautiful blues! From azure to turquoise, there’s a shade out there that looks good on everyone! If you’re not comfortable with the boldness of blue, tone it down by popping one piece against an otherwise black-and-white outfit in strong graphic shapes – another huge trend this season.

A black and white wardrobe is perfect for unpredictable weather, since you can layer pieces easily and veer towards one shade depending on the rain or sun. Plus, owning a variety of black and white items means you don’t have to pack as much when you travel. Pair black and white separates together or opt for a monochromatic look, livening up each outfit with accessories.

Color blocking continues its reign on the runways, though stripes are bolder than in seasons past. Pay extra attention to where the stripes hit on your body and make sure your garments are tailored for a perfect fit. Or try three stripes of color on your shoes or bag: just as on-trend but much easier to pull off. The most important style advice of all: wear what makes you feel good!

Q: Last year my favorite designers all showed floral patterns on the runway. Which prints will be big in 2013?
Pixel and geometric prints are popular this season, though florals are certainly still happening, especially when layered with lace. Head-to-toe geometric prints are not for the faint of heart, but luckily they also work well in small doses and pair back beautifully to the black and white items in your wardrobe.

Ask Forum: Spring 2013 Fashion Tips for Him

Q: After years of struggling with contact lenses, I’m seeing guys wear some very cool glasses. Should I switch over?
Absolutely! Whether or not you need glasses, eyewear is a hot accessory this season. We like bigger frames in black or tortoise for a pseudo-intellectual look, vintage styles with a modern twist, or a touch of color on the temple. Check out our great selection of optical-quality reading glasses that can readily accommodate almost any prescription.

Q: Watching the new James Bond movie, I realized that all my suits are out of date. What’s up with this skinny look? Can I wear it if I’m not skinny?
In fact, the men’s clothing industry has been pushing a slimmer model for several years now, but it took a hit movie and Daniel Craig to finally get the message across! Yes, today’s suits are narrower in the shoulder, chest and leg. The coat sleeves and flat-front pants are slightly shorter and the overall effect is much more youthful. Our suggestion: try one or two suits in this updated model (we have options at many prices) before you replenish your wardrobe. You might also want a few slimmer-cut shirts and narrower ties (about three inches; the ones in your closet are likely three and three-quarters) to complement the trimmer-fit suits.

Q: I read a study that said the first thing women notice on men is their shoes. So what shoes should I be wearing this spring?
Shoes run the gamut from bright athletic styles to cool wingtips to suede lace-ups to dress/casual hybrids that combine luxury leathers with high-tech soles. Color is key, if not on the shoe itself then on the soles or laces. The possibilities are limitless: finally, a fun footwear season!

Q: I’m seeing lots of color in men’s fashion magazines: is this just for the runway or are real guys wearing it?
Real guys are wearing it! Color has always been a factor in men’s sweaters, shirts and neckwear; only recently has it moved to bottoms. We suggest pairing bright color five-pocket pants with more neutral tops (knits, wovens, sportcoats). It’s a great look that’s surprisingly easy to pull off, once you take that first step.

A Sprig of Ivy

THE HOTTEST TREND IN MENSWEAR IS ALSO ONE OF ITS OLDEST.

BY JOHN JONES

After touring a recent exhibit at The Museum at FIT called Ivy Style, which celebrated the fashion that evolved from the campuses of the Ivy League schools — Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, U-Penn and Yale — in the early part of the last century, I picked up the accompanying book (also called Ivy Style). In its preface, curator Patricia Mears states that despite the recent recession, apparel brands have been under pressure to produce more collections, more garments per collection and to get into more product categories. The trend doesn’t necessarily mean the items are better… just that there’s more of them. As a result of this overproduction, Mears writes, “I wanted objects that were well made, with real purpose.” She found that designers and other fashion cognoscenti were all returning to the Ivy heritage for “a look that transcends and endures….”

In fact, she goes on to differentiate “preppy” from “Ivy” and to show that much of what we take for granted as conservative, classic dressing was, at the time, anti-establishment and revolutionary.

Mears shows that “no other university defined Ivy Style as fervently and as beautifully as Princeton in the 1920s and 1930s.” Due in part to its somewhat isolated location, sportswear — clothes literally worn to play sports — became “around-the-clock attire.” Clothes that we might describe as classic or even stuffy, like tweed suits or white bucks, actually evolved from golf and tennis attire of the time. “Princetonians were also credited with introducing the sport jacket,” appropriating Norfolk hunting jackets by updating the construction and wearing them with unmatched trousers.

The relaxed style was then broadcast to the world by the most closely watched celebrity of the day, Prince Edward of York (the Duke of Windsor). Eschewing the formality of court dress that his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, would have demanded, the Prince became fascinated with this sportive style and elevated it to a whole new level (the subject of an essay in the book by Dr. Peter McNeil, a professor of design history at the University of Technology, Sydney). Particularly after abdicating the throne of England, he popularized wearing relaxed, informal clothes in public settings, including short-sleeved knits, bright colors and tartans… clothing we see today even in office settings.

The Ivy Style exhibit bravely showed how modern brands have been influenced by the movement, from Michael Bastian’s trim, preppy looks to Thom Browne’s cutting-edge parodies and, of course, Ralph Lauren’s entire oeuvre. But perhaps to get the best look at the future of men’s fashion, we should return to the college campus. Maybe one day we’ll all be wearing compression-fit T-shirts and drawstring sweatpants to work. On the other hand, if we look to royals like Prince Harry for inspiration, we may be headed to the office completely nude.

Radical Conformists by Patricia Mears is published by Yale University Press and The Fashion Institute of Technology.

Images courtesy of FIT. 

 

Why Choose Custom?

THE BENEFITS OF A TIMELESS SARTORIAL TRADITION. INDIVIDUAL STYLE AND COMFORT. UNSURPASSED FIT. TODAY, MORE AND MORE MEN ARE CHOOSING CUSTOM.

BY WILLIAM KISSEL

Quite simply… The best thing about custom is that it’s made just for you.

The modern suit as we know it was born in mid-19th century England. A style of men’s clothing evolved that interwove influences from the landed gentry, the military, surgeons, sports and the Industrial Revolution. Ever since, gentlemen the world over have sought to perfect it. A custom suit is not only the ultimate expression of a man’s individual taste and style; it also allows superior comfort and, of course, fit. Custom clothing has increasingly grown in popularity in recent years. Our forebears would be envious of the fabric, model and detailing options available today!

CHANGE AS LITTLE AS YOU WANT… If you’re a 40 Regular and you just want a slightly different colored fabric. CHANGE AS MUCH AS YOU WANT… If you’re difficult to fit and want a flannel double-breasted suit with aubergine lining, patch pockets, horn buttons and two pairs of pants.

FABRIC
Material options include wools of varying weights and weaves, cashmeres, flannels, linens, cottons and highly technical new performance fibers. Add to that a dizzying array of patterns, pinstripes and color shades and you can create something that is truly your own.

Undeniably, the greatest draw of custom is the extraordinary variety of choices available in fabric. While stores can only buy and hang a limited amount of ready-to-wear options, the fabric selection in custom is in the thousands!

MODEL
Jacket length, pant cut, button stance, lapel width, vents, pleats, pocket style, cuffs… these are some of the many style features you can customize. Some of the design decisions you will get to make and enjoy are:

JACKET
• Model: Traditional or a
new slimmer silhouette?
• Single-breasted vs. doublebreasted
• Button stance: 2 or 3? How high?
• Lapels: How wide? Notched?
• Pocket style
• Vent style
• Jacket length
• Sleeve: Length? Working buttons?

PANT
• Pleated or fl at-front?
• Cuff or no cuff ?
• Length: where to break?
• Leg opening: how slim or wide?

LINING
From solid to paisley and subtle to wacky, a custom lining gives you the opportunity to add a splash of color or a surprise that can be your own little secret.

BUTTONS
Down the front or at your wrists? Two or three, gold or silver, blue or bone? Buttons are another fun way to make a suit uniquely yours.

COMMON MYTHS ABOUT CUSTOM

Custom is only for the difficult to fit.  While custom tailoring ensures men of every body type the best possible fit, custom is every bit as sought-after by men who can readily wear off-the-rack clothing. They choose it for the signature look they can create as well as for the extensive fabric selection.

Custom takes forever.  Not at all. Once an experienced tailor has taken and recorded all of your measurements, they are stored just for you. You simply pick out your details and your suit should be ready in 2 to 6 weeks.

Custom is cost prohibitive.  With the rising popularity of custom clothing, designers are stocking larger libraries of fabric and details and are equipped with several made-to-measure models as starting points. This has brought down costs. You no longer have to be a CEO (or royalty) to wear it!

Ask Forum: Fall 2012 Fashion Tips for Her

Q: What’s new in contemporary fashion?
Some major high-end design talents are now crossing into the contemporary arena with new divisions. Versace Collection, focused on leather this season, is on the edge with its distinctive “rock-chic” attitude. Derek Lam recently launched 10 Crosby by Derek Lam, inspired by the cool downtown girl with a fast fashion sense. Cynthia Steffe has re-emerged with her new label Cluny, which combines her signature aesthetic with a street-edge chic. Halston, the father of minimalism, influences Halston Heritage with the belief that women should dress simply by day and extravagantly by night. It’s fun to see them experimenting, combining freshness with years of experience, and making their designs available to a wider audience with more favorable price points. And of course, we’re always searching for who will be next.

Q: What are the must-have accessories this season?
When you accessorize,  try color-blocking with a two-tone scarf, or wear a printed silk one to accent darker fall colors. A great chunky bracelet or stack of bracelets is always a great way to finish an outfit. And when it gets really cold, don’t get caught without your long cashmere texting gloves!

Q: How can I get more mileage out of my outerwear?
These days, when we never know what the weather will bring, the need for versatility is especially important. Luckily, this season brings many coat options that offer warmth but are still lightweight, sleek and feminine. Long, chunky sweaters are perfect for a mild autumn day, but when the winter winds blow, there’s nothing better than outerwear that makes a statement and keeps you warm. Come in to check out the attention-grabbing leathers, or find a piece with Italian attitude.

Fur and faux fur continue to be chic and sporty in textured vests, and luxe but practical in super-light carcoats that reverse to rainwear. The quality pieces always have a modern twist, and offer multiple layers for your changing needs.

If you buy only one coat this season, make sure it’s a shaped, three-quarter length, mid-weight style that’s versatile enough in color and texture to layer with the rest of your clothing.

Q: How can I take my colored jeans from weekend to workday?
This year, colored jeans have been a hot item. (If you don’t own a pair, stop by to pick a few out!) If you’re anything like us, you’re wearing them with flats, a T-shirt and an unstructured jacket for a fun, casual look during the weekend.

In order to get more versatility from your denim, dial it up a notch for the work week: pair the same great jeans with a blouse, a wedge bootie or colored pump, and add a structured blazer for a more buttoned-up look. Finish with a statement belt or necklace for one last dressy detail.

 

DRESS BY RACHEL ROY

The Merits of Made to Measure

ANY MAN WHO’S BOUGHT AN OFF-THE-RACK SUIT IN THE PAST HALF-CENTURY PROBABLY THINKS THAT WHAT YOU SEE ON THE SALES FLOOR IS WHAT YOU GET. IF THE FIT, FABRIC OR COLOR YOU WANT ISN’T IN STOCK, YOU’RE OUT OF LUCK. NOT SO FAST.

BY WILLIAM KISSEL

Thanks to the rapidly growing concept of made to measure, top fashion brands like Zegna, Isaia, Samuelsohn, Canali, Kiton and Brioni have slowly transformed the once-bland process of buying a business suit (or sportcoat) into a very personal expression of a man’s good taste and sense of style. Want a broken pinstripe on a medium-blue super 150s wool, or a windowpane check in a soft brown cashmere/silk blend? Consider it done. Looking for that hard-to-find trim-cut, double-breasted jacket and want to customize it with a lining in your wife’s favorite shade of lavender? It’s yours simply for the asking.

Just a few decades ago, the only way to have a suit made your way was to visit a custom tailor, a process that required you to dig deep into your wallet, be patient enough to sit through multiple fittings, and then wait the required six month production time. But after Ermenegildo Zegna became inspired by a concept the Japanese had developed in the early 1970s, he and other luxury suit makers found a way to speed up the process and drastically lower the cost.

Made to measure also allows stores to offer much more product than what fits on the sales floor. “When my father first started selling Zegna in Japan, he was quite surprised to see the small amount of real estate they had for retail,” explains Gildo Zegna, group chief executive at the family-owned Ermenegildo Zegna brand. “Back then our collection was very big, and he thought to himself, ‘How can I show it all?’ He found the Japanese had a clever system where they would show all the fabric swatches, like in a showroom, and let the customer pick the pattern and style. Within a few weeks the jacket was made to order for him. My father thought, ‘If the Japanese can make this work, why can’t we?’”

A hybrid form of custom suit making, made to measure cuts out the more costly practice of creating a separate pattern for every customer from scratch (as a bespoke tailor would do). Made-to-measure suits are produced from a pre-existing pattern that is later altered at the factory to meet your own physical requirements. “The difference in quality between custom and made to measure is maybe none,” offers one luxury suit maker. “The only difference is how you get through the process.” In the case of made to measure, you simply try on a jacket at the store that’s close to your size and style preference, and the suit maker adjusts the pattern for a more precise fit. 

Along the way you choose the fabric (from literally thousands of choices beyond those offered ready-made at the store) as well as the details—from working or non-working button holes, center or side vents, and the number of pleats (or no pleats) on your trousers, to the number, size and shape of the pockets and even the color of the interior lining. Need an extra interior pocket to house your cigarettes or cell phone? You’ve got it. Want mother of pearl or titanium buttons? They’re yours. Then, a mere four to six weeks later, you have a suit that fits both your budget (only about 20 percent more than off-the-rack pricing, depending on the fabric) and your personal sense of style.

In the past, only hard-to-fit men—those with sloping shoulders, curved backs, protruding abdomens or extremely large or small bodies took advantage of these suit making services. Today it’s all about choice. “Superior fit is certainly a big factor. But I’d say the larger factor is men wanting to be different and own something unique,” explains Arnold Silverstone, creative director at Samuelsohn. “It’s a particularly great service for guys who are super fit and require more than the standard 6-inch drop found on off-the-rack clothing,” he says. “A guy might be a 42 Regular on top but waist-wise he’s a 32, which is a 10-inch drop. You won’t find that combination off the rack.”

There’s one more reason for choosing made to measure: “Clothes are very expensive and most men who spend $1,000 or more on a suit want it to last from five to seven years,” explains one suit maker. “If a guy is going to live with it that long, it better have all the details he loves. And the best way to ensure that is to create it himself.”

 

Sebastian-Style

ETON’S DESIGNER BRINGS A FRESH YOUNG TAKE TO LUXURY SHIRTINGS.

BY KAREN ALBERG GROSSMAN

With DeVotchKa blasting in the background, it was hard to hear Sebastian Dollinger, conducting this interview from the studio in Sweden where he designs the world-renowned Eton shirt collection. “Yes, I design to music; it’s a big part of my life,” he confides. “I’m a DJ and a drummer when I’m not designing shirts…”

He came to designing Eton shirts in a roundabout way: since his father, Jan Borghardt, has worked for the company since 1981, it was the last thing he’d planned to do. “My dad is from Holland; he met my mom on a sailing trip to Sweden, fell in love and needed a job. He started in the Eton stockroom and is now number two at the company. I was born in ’83. I was a wild kid who got kicked out of school and took various jobs pumping gas and waiting tables. But when I ultimately took a stockroom job, I made sure it was the cleanest stockroom in the universe. My dad taught me to take pride in my work, whatever it is…”

After serving in the army for a year, Dollinger reluctantly took a job in the Eton stockroom, then gradually worked his way up. “I took the long road at Eton, determined to prove myself without favoritism. (Editor’s note: Since his dad has a different last name, few people were aware of the relationship.) I went from the stockroom to a London-based position to a sales job, where I increased volume in my Swedish accounts by 800 percent. At that point, I felt vindicated and was excited to move to a design job.”

Explaining the success of Eton, Dollinger sums it up simply: “We don’t take shortcuts; we spend on quality. We use the best French and Italian mills for our fabrics. We’ve developed a special finishing process that takes four-and-a-half weeks extra but adds luster and life to the shirts.” Other success secrets: a sophisticated use of color, pattern and detailing so the shirts are interesting but not over-the-top. “Balance is important,” says Dollinger, who also paints. “There’s a way to combine elements so it’s not screaming or in your face.”

Finally, there’s the fit factor: Eton shirts come in three different fits so that they feel custom-made. “Eton isn’t just another global brand with extensive marketing; it’s quality in every way. Plus we’re one of very few companies to specialize in shirts.”

When he’s not designing, Dollinger is out and about. “My body clock is reversed: I work late and come alive even later. I never watch TV; I’m out doing things. In addition to music (these days he’s listening to Joy Division, Demolition, The Black Keys, Muddy Waters) and design, I love writing (poetry, song lyrics), and also cosmology. I was always that strange little boy who studied the stars every night…”

A Change of Seasons

DAYS ARE GETTING SHORTER. WAVES ROUGHER. AND THAT INCREASING NIP IN THE AIR! AS SUMMER SUN GIVES WAY TO AUTUMN LEAVES, HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO ADAPT…WITH STYLE.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Sergio Kurhajec / HAIR & MAKEUP: Claire Bayley / STYLING: Wendy McNett

Ask Forum: Fall 2012 Fashion Tips for Him

CARDIGAN BY CANALI

Q: With global warming, do I really need sweaters?

Although chunky sweaters are very much in style, light and medium weights are also trending, and these have little to do with the weather. A modern or retro-inspired cardigan, either button or zip-front, can often replace a jacket or sportcoat. Today’s trimmed-down, fine gauge knits also work well underneath sportcoats since they breathe comfortably—good news for guys who tend to run hot. Cashmeres, merinos and new blends in great colors mean lots of strong sweater options this season.

Q: I haven’t lost weight but my pants seem baggy. What’s up with that?

This season’s pant styles are narrower than they used to be: not tight but definitely more fitted (and no longer down to the floor). For fall 2012, we love five-pocket pants in cottons, wools and wool blends. When it comes to jeans, fit is all-important. If your closet is full of droopy denim, let us show you how great you can look in jeans that actually fit.

Q: If I buy only one item this season, what should it be?

We love refined soft sportcoats in wool blends and cashmeres (both solids and subtle patterns) as well as the quintessential knit blazer. These styles represent a new genre of sportcoat that blurs the boundary between sportswear and tailored clothing. They can be dressed up with a tie or worn casually with jeans: comfort, class and cool, all in one item!

Q: My expensive topcoat is looking dated. Should I have it altered?

Probably not. There’s only so much you can change with alterations, and yesterday’s long billowy coats (topcoats and trenches) are totally OUT in 2012. So give them away to someone in need and buy a new shorter, trimmer-fit overcoat or raincoat. From knee-length on up is the modern way to wear outerwear this season.

Q: What footwear do I need for fall? 

The wrong pair of shoes can instantly ruin an outfit, so don’t forget to consideryour footwear as carefully as your clothes. One must-have for fall 2012 is a pair of slightly chunky oxfords in suede or burnished leather, to add a bit of character. Think updated wingtips that are substantial enough to wear with jeans and can also lend an English sensibility to a suit. In addition, there are tons of great boot options, from rugged contemporary styles to beautiful polished dress versions, that add instant personality to your look.