Chapter Five: The Elements
Here we will present the complete Fit Kit elements. We will unveil a new item each week or so over the Spring 2017 Season.
I. The Classic Navy Blazer
The classic navy blazer is part of the foundation of your Fit Kit wardrobe.
It is most versatile. Wear with a dark gray trouser and it becomes almost as formal as suit. Pair it with khakis and a colored Tee and it is ready for any smart-casual occasion.
Ours, by Southwick, is a superior quality light Doeskin Wool that is both durable and comfortable, and can essentially be worn in most any season (except for those really hot days).
II. Wool Dress Trouser
The line between dress and casual trousers is not as clear as it used to be. BUT so much the better, because now many can go either way, adding versatility (versatility is one of the key elements of the Fit Kit).
Our favorite in terms of versatility is our all wool twill. It’s characteristic diagonal ribbed pattern gives it a robust and more casual look and feel. It holds it’s shape and drapes well. We carry three colors in order of wardrobe building priority: middle gray, oxford brown and suede green.
Next in formality is our worsted wool plain weave in two shades of grey: middle grey and charcoal. A flatter surface gives it a more formal look and touch.
Third is our all wool, tan color gabardines. Think of them as a dressy pair of khakis.
The proper fit of a trouser seems to be elusive to a lot of men. Simply stated, clothing construction is mostly about turning two dimensions (the fabric) into three (the finished garment). A better make will fit better because more handwork and pressing operations during the construction give more shape to the finished trouser.
A few tips for getting a proper fit:
1. The trouser must fit the seat comfortably and has a lot more to do with the correct size than the stated 'waist size'. Try on a few sizes up and down from your waist size of 'record' and choose the one that feels right in the seat (not tight and not baggy).
2. The rise (distance from top of waistband to lowest point of the crotch of the trouser) is very important. There is a place on your body (somewhere between your navel and top of hips) where the waist of the trouser rides comfortably and feels natural. Now think about where the crotch of the pant is. Too close (to your anatomy) is very uncomfortable and too far away restricts mobility. If the rise does not fit correctly, don’t buy the pants. A difference of even a half inch can be the difference between a right fit and a wrong fit.
3. Once you have the correct seat and rise combination, the waist can easily be adjusted in or out for comfort. Snug up your belt (always try on trousers with a belt) and make sure the waist band does not buckle.
4. The correct length is either just touching the shoe or a very slight break. Cuffs preferred as it is a visual punctuation too a long expanse of leg.
A couple tips on care of your trousers:
1. Hold the trouser by the hem until the back and front creases line up. Drape over a pant hanger or a jacket hanger with a bar.
2. Allow the trouser to hang for a day or two, and most of the wrinkles will hang out of a high quality wool trouser. Use a steamer or steam setting on an iron to address any remaining wrinkles (usually behind the knees if any). Never touch the iron to the surface of the trouser. Frequent dry cleaning is NOT recommended, or necessary, as frequent dry cleaning can shorten the lifespan of a wool garment. Instead, simply air out the trouser on a clothes line in fresh air on a sunny day, which does wonders to any wool garment.
III. The Suit
Every man needs at least one good suit.
And it should be clean, pressed and ready to go. Suit appropriate occasions can often pop up unexpectedly.
And if you only need one suit, be sure1) it fits, 2) it is clean and pressed, 3) it is dark in color, and 4) it is classic in style. A darker color like navy or charcoal will be appropriate for any occasion. An argument for a solid navy as an only suit in your wardrobe is versatility; occasionally wear the jacket as a blazer.
We recommend a solid pattern since it is the most formal in a dark color AND can easily be tipped towards less formal with patterned shirts (plaids and checks) and sporty ties.
Our classic style is a natural shoulder (soft and rounded), two button, side vents and two lower flap pockets. The very short and very trim styles have a place in the fashion world but not in the professional world. Our position is slightly shorter and slightly trimmer.
If your needs are for more than one or two suits, here is what we recommend in order of priority:
1. A plaid or textured weave (tic weave or nailhead) in an earth tone (brown or olive) for less formal occasions. If chosen carefully, you could have a suit that could be worn as a separate coat or trouser.
2. A middle gray, either plaid or stripe.
3. A solid tan is great as an early spring through September seasonal look.
Feel free to call us or stop by if you would like more specifics regarding colors/patterns mentioned above.
As far as fabric, our vote is for wool or a wool/elastane blend. The new suiting fabrics are even better than they were even a year ago. They drape nicely, pass the body's heat and moisture in warm weather, insulate in cold weather, and resist wrinkles. One customer remarked after traveling all day in his new suit, “my suit looked better than I did".
IV. DRESS SHIRT
SHIRTS (ON THE DRESSIER SIDE)
The line between a dress shirt and a casual shirt is not as clear as it used to be. Patterns that used to be reserved for a casual look (checks and plaids) are now appropriately being worn with suits and sportcoats. The fabric and collar style have more to do with the difference between formal and casual.
Our choice for fabric is a broadcloth weave for the most formal and a pinpoint oxford for slightly casual.
The semi-spread collar will be appropriate for any occasion. The degree of spread should measure about 3.5” from tip to tip and for most men 2.75” in length is perfect. If the points of the collar do not sit slightly under the coat lapels, the degree of spread is too close.
Ready made dress shirts in neck and sleeve size fit fewer men properly than any other category of ready made clothing.
A proper fit (starting at the top) is a collar that sits slightly below the Adam’s apple and is large enough to allow a finger to slide between neck and inside collar when fully buttoned. Most incorrect fits we see in our travels are far too big. So as trim as possible, but still comfortable. The tolerance of a shirt is how much bigger the chest and waist of the shirt are than your chest and waist. Five to six inches bigger works well today for a trim look that is comfortable. A shirt that is too big looks sloppy and does work for any body type.
If your ready made size is too big in the chest and waist, try a trim fit. The sleeves should be long enough to allow the cuff to show ¼” to ½” beyond the coat sleeve. Usually 1.5” beyond the writs bone works.
If neither regular or trim fit works, go to the custom option. You should not have to pay much more than ready made because of the efficiencies in manufacturing today, and delivery is no more than three weeks.
All cotton is best for comfort, appearance, and durability. We have tried “Easy Care” blends and they just don’t look or feel as good as a premium cotton fabric.
The core colors and patterns are, in order of priority:
1. White solid.
2. Blue solid.
3. Navy check or stripe on white.
4. Pewter gray check or stripe on white.
5. Dark red check or stripe on white.
6. A stripe is perceived as more formal by most.
And, like all Fit Kit categories, the following rules apply:
1. Versatility. A shirt that pairs with more than one pattern suit and more than one pattern tie is better.
2. Make sure the fit is comfortable AND stylish. With shirts, the custom option should be given strong consideration.
3. Buy fewer but buy better.
4. Take your time in building your shirt wardrobe. Develop and refine your style as you go along.
Pants on the Casual Side
We break this category down into two types:
1) cotton twills and cotton corduroys in a medium rise (they ride on or slightly below your navel)
2) jeans in denim and non-denim (jean-cut pants that ride on your hips, or slightly above). Today, manycasual pants can be worn in a dressy way if the fabric is more refined.
Cotton twills and corduroy:
Medium or heavy twill depending on season. Start with a tan neutral and add olive and navy after that. Spice it up with shades of red – and we love white in the summer.
Corduroy adds variety in both pattern (vertical) and formality (some perceive less and some perceive more formal). The season in our climate is middle August to middle June. Start with the traditional caramel color and add an earth tone – and then blue or navy.
Jeans and jean-cut pants:
Denim jeans should be in an 8 to 12 oz. denim depending on season. A 9.5 oz. is comfortable most of the year in our climate. The most important wash is the dark, which can be worn dressy and casual. Even pair them with a sports jacket. After that, the sky is the limit in both washes and fit. Our favorite fit is trim but not tight, usually referred to as a straight cut.
After denim, we suggest a cotton twill in a neutral shade. There are also corduroy options – and in the fall, we usually do a wool flannel or wool twill in grey.
Make sure the rise is comfortable since there is not a proper alteration if it is not. The crotch of the pant wants to be close but not tight. A rise that is too long decreases the mobility (stride) and makes the pants look too big. The hem can be finished plain or cuffed (except jeans) and should touch the shoe but hardly break (current fashion).
And one seasonal favorite, LINEN. Enjoy its wrinkled texture, and wear it in style.
Stay tuned. We will be adding the remaining 7 essential Fit Kit elements over the next several weeks.
Feel free to call us- we're in the store: 207.773.3906