Category Archives: The Gentleman

The Gentleman: Style Sins

The Clubbing Shirt

One would think that a gentleman would have a hard time messing up something as simple as a dress shirt. After all, it’s hard to go wrong with a white or a light blue button-up oxford. However, more and more, The Gentleman is seeing men wearing truly dreadful button-up shirts to job interviews and business formal events on his law school campus and out in the greater corporate world. After staring in puzzlement at jet black, shiny, or bright red oxfords, The Gentleman finally realized what was wrong. Guys have begun buying and wearing shirts that they are hoping will work both for professional events and nights out at the club. Thus, The Gentleman presents the third entry in his re-occurring “Style Sins” feature: “The Clubbing Shirt.”

The Gentleman has no opinion about the overall quality or style of the Clubbing Shirt when it is actually worn to a club. For that matter, The Gentleman has no official opinion about night clubs in general. However, when a man begins wearing a Clubbing Shirt during the day, things start to go awry.

A Clubbing Shirt is always very tight-fitting, even more so than a slim-fit shirt and is usually either jet black, or a bold blue or red. Clubbing Shirts are also frequently shiny. Below is a very typical Clubbing Shirt from Dolce & Gabbana.

Dolce Gabbana Striped ShirtPhoto Credit: Dolce & Gabbana

It doesn’t look bad here. Though, I would point out that unless you are as fit as the model in this picture, you are likely going to look a good bit sillier than the model because of how tapered the shirt is in the waist.

Now, let’s throw a gray suit on over that black shirt and see what happens.

Gray Suit with Dark ShirtPhoto Credit: ImageShack

Suddenly, you look like you belong in a high school production of “Guys and Dolls.” That is not a good thing. Wearing a trendy black shirt under a suit gives off an aura of self-consciousness. It’s almost as if you’re embarrassed to be wearing a suit, so you put on your most fashion forward shirt to prove that you are still cool. The result is disjointed and cheap looking.

What kinds of shirts are off-limits? In addition to black shirts of any kind, red and bright blue or teal are simply too vivid to be worn in a professional environment. Think of a shirt as a blank canvas. You will wear other accessories, like your tie and your pocket square, to bring life and energy to your ensemble. Notice how this gentleman’s red shirt drowns out his tie:

Black Suit with Red ShirtIdentity hidden to protect the innocent.

White, light blue and pale pink shirts are a gentleman’s safest choices because they are subdued and allow for a great deal of contrast with ties and pocket squares. Once you have developed a stable rotation of those colors, understated pinstripes and checked shirts ought to be added. I’ll spend more time talking about advanced shirt and tie pairings in a future article.

For now, just remember The Gentleman wants to be sure that you never wear this guy’s shirt to the office:

Guido JuiceheadGuido Halloween Costume courtesy of my former roommate, Chris.

Next week, The Gentleman interviews a law school classmate who has started in his own clothing company…

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The Gentleman: Suiting Up

Thrifting a Vintage Tweed Coat, Part II

It took longer than I was hoping, but The Gentleman was finally able to pick up his vintage tweed sport coat from the tailor. Their work was, to say the least, very impressive.

I used the services of Lil Dave’s Tailoring in New Orleans to make significant alterations to a tweed sports coat that I purchased off of the Styleforum.net Buying and Selling Thread. I discussed the process for choosing this 1960s jacket and decided what needed to be altered a few weeks ago.

Tweed Jacket 1

Tweed Jacket 2

Tweed Jacket 3Photos Courtesy of Matt DeIulio

The first major difference is the length of the arms. When I received the coat in the mail, the sleeves extended down past my wrists and onto my hands. Not only was this irritating, but it made the coat look like it was intended for someone else. You never want your jacket to look like a hand-me-down from dad. I had them shorten the sleeves so that about a half-inch of shirt cuff is showing when my arms are in a resting position. This gives the jacket a smart and fitted look.

The coat was also extremely baggy in the middle. The tailor took it in significantly so that it is tapered and fitted in the waist. This is the most significant change to the garment. Baggy tweed looks terribly frumpy. By taking it in in the middle, this jacket made the transformation from dumpy to old-school cool.

These alterations cost $50 in total. While I was hoping that it would be a bit cheaper to tailor it, when you add in the $40 price that I purchased it for, $90 is a real bargain for a vintage coat that would cost more than five times that much new. The moral of this story is, if you’re looking to buy a bargain jacket, getting it professionally tailored is a must.

Next week, the Gentleman presents his third entry in his “Style Sins” series when he decries loud, “clubbing shirts”…

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The Gentleman: At Leisure

Talking Argyle Socks

Men have far fewer ways to express individual style than women do. After all, most of what a man wears is some variation of a shirt and pants. The Gentleman always looks for ways to stand out from the crowd, and this season he is having a lot of fun with argyle socks.

Socks are one of those articles of clothing that are often overlooked. Truth be told, this gentleman enjoys the summer months, from May to September, when he can confidently go out in public sans socks. In an effort to get more enthusiastic about this article of clothing, this fall I’m trying to experiment more with brighter and more diverse socks.

In a business environment, socks should always match the color of your trousers. They can be a shade or two off, but they should be the same color. However, for business casual days or the weekends, a gentleman can get more creative.

Argyle is one of my favorite patterns for the fall. It’s a pattern that is traditional and distinguished but also bold and fun. I love wearing argyle sweaters and scarves. Unfortunately, in New Orleans it’s still far too warm for those articles of clothing. Socks, however, seem like the perfect place to show off the pattern.

Banana Republic has a decent pair of argyle socks:

Argyle Socks

Last year they had a greater diversity of argyle prints which were a bit bolder than the rather drab offerings this year.

Argyle Socks

J.Crew has a better selection of argyle socks in the $14.50 price range and they become a lot cheaper in multiples. Their selection of argyle socks is solid but not as exciting as I would have hoped. After a bit more research, The Gentleman discovered this fantastic (and whimsically named) mega-website for socks with many excellent items: The Joy of Socks.

I’m especially partial to this pair:

Argyle Sock

I could see this exciting pattern going well with everything from wool trousers to blue jeans.

Here’s another excellent, and slightly more traditional, pair of argyle socks:

Argyle Sock

I plan to buy both of these and show them off this fall. If you know of a good place to buy socks, argyle or otherwise, feel free to let me know in the comments! Next week: The Gentleman has his tweed sport coat back from the tailor and will show off the fit…

Argyle

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The Gentleman: Lookbook

Barrister’s Ball

The Gentleman was hoping to be able to show off the results of the alterations to the tweed jacket that he bought from a thrift store this week. However, it will be another week or so until those alterations are completed. Instead, I decided that this week I will show a few pictures from Saturday night at the annual Tulane Law School formal event, Barrister’s Ball.

Like many clothing enthusiasts, the Gentleman has been enjoying Mad Men. I wanted to try out a Mad Men inspired look for the formal event. I went with my slim cut navy suit contrasted with a plain white point collar shirt. I wore black Allen Edmonds captoe shoes and a solid black grendine necktie. Grendine is a very formal weave of silk that has a unique texture that captures a subtle sheen when hit by the light. Finally, a straight fold white linen pocket square complements the white shirt.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the look that I wore to the Barrister’s Ball. Typically, The Gentleman prefers brightly colored ties and bold shirts, but sometimes it can be liberating to stick with something simple.

Below are a few photos that I took at the event with some of my law school friends.

Tulane Barristers Ball

Tulane Barristers Ball

Tulane Barristers Ball

Tulane Barristers Ball

My favorite has to be the photo that I took with my friend Jeremy. He decided to wear his grandfather’s old tuxedo to the ball. He’s doing a great job pulling it off. I’m looking forward to writing a few posts about formal dress when I attend a black tie dinner in November.

I’m curious to hear what readers think of my attire at the event. Does a monochromatic, throwback look like this work or do you prefer more color?

Next week, the Gentleman talks argyle socks for work and play…

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The Gentleman: Suiting Up

Thrifting a Vintage Tweed Coat, Part I

Autumn in New Orleans snuck up on the Gentleman this year. One day I was sweating in 96 degree weather, and the next I woke up to a brisk 55 degree morning. With this abrupt change in climate, I decided that it was time to pull out my fall wardrobe. I was excited because autumn is probably my favorite season for dressing. I love the classic looks that you can put together with sweaters, vests, sport jackets and scarves. They don’t get lost under a heavy wool coat the way they do in the winter. Instead, you can casually layer them on or take them off as you go in and out of doors.

Looking through my fall wardrobe, The Gentleman found one conspicuous hole that he had been hoping to close for the last few years. I wanted a classic tweed coat. Tweed sport coats, however, are not cheap to purchase new. J.Crew’s tweed sport coats start around $265 and Brooks Brothers’ are even more expensive. Tweed coats, luckily, seem like a perfect candidate for purchase for a thrift store. They last forever and only look better with age.

I visited a couple of local New Orleans thrift stores but couldn’t find quite what I was looking for. Fortunately, the internet yielded a solution. A few months ago I mentioned how I often turn to internet clothing forums for advice when I have a question that I don’t know the answer to. Many of these sites also feature buying and selling boards. I’ve had a lot of good luck with the men’s clothing buying and selling board on Styleforum.net and was able to find an excellent vintage tweed sport coat for around $40. I highly recommend checking this board regularly. You can find insanely good deals on barely used items.

I was extremely impressed with my tweed coat when it arrived in the mail. It’s a great rustic brown Harris tweed with a faint windowpane pattern. It features narrower lapels and a traditional three-roll-two button design (a three button jacket where only the middle button is designed for fastening). It’s exactly what I was looking for. The coat is from a company called Andover Traditional which, according to the seller, sold menswear for many decades but no longer exists. The seller believes that the coat dates to the 1960s.

While the jacket is a classic piece that I’m looking forward to wearing for many years, it will need alterations. Taking a sport coat to a tailor is a very important step that many gentlemen neglect to do. After purchasing a sport coat or suit jacket, alterations will usually need to be made, especially if the piece has been thrifted.

tweed sport coat

tweed sport coat

tweed sport coat

In the photos you can see the alternations that I think need to be made. The sleeves will need to be shortened. A jacket should allow about a quarter inch to a half inch of shirt cuff to be seen when the wearer is standing up with his arms at rest. Here the sleeves are extending down to my hands. The jacket is also a bit baggy around the waist. I’m unsure if I should have it taken in or not. This jacket is a “sack” design, a traditional New England cut that is a bit looser. I’ll definitely speak to my tailor about whether it should be taken in when I visit him this week.

Next week I hope to have the jacket back from the tailor and I’ll post photos of the results so you can see what it will look like as part of a full autumn outfit.

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The Gentleman’s Style Icon: Bertie Wooster

The Gentleman loves a good dandy. Though he himself is a hard-working law student, he dreams of a life of leisure where he has nothing more to do than drink cocktails, gallivant across the countryside and get involved in minor misadventures with his chums. Fortunately, The Gentleman can do all of this by living vicariously through the comic tales of Bertie Wooster.

The Jeeves and Wooster characters were created by British humorist P. G. Wodehouse in 1915 and would be featured in countless stories throughout the author’s long career until his death in 1974. In the early 1990s, Bertie Wooster was famously portrayed by English actor Hugh Laurie, best known in the United States for his portrayal of Dr. House. Throughout both the stories and the television series, Bertie Wooster is a lively bachelor fond of leisure and prone to getting into trouble. He is nearly always rescued from his comic pitfalls by his wise valet (similar to a butler) and best friend, Jeeves, played in the television series by comedian Stephen Fry.

In Hugh Laurie’s version of the Jeeves and Wooster stories, Bertie is always impeccably dressed, as any dandy should be.

Bertie lives in a world that appears to continue perpetually in the late 1920s, and his clothing choices reflect that. Bertie has a penchant for three piece suits with rare double breasted waistcoats. One such example can be seen here:

My favorite Wooster outfits are his tweeds and plaids. Bertie is a minor aristocrat, and as such, is expected to dress according following conservative rules of etiquette. His suits are often understated grays and browns, but he always finds a way to add a bit of roguish charm to match his ever present smirk.

Here Bertie is wearing a brown Harris tweed jacket, but he complements it with a loud yellow checkered vest and a slim plaid red tie. It’s a great layered look.

When Bertie goes golfing, he certainly feels free to indulge his sartorial creativity. His yellow vest and red plaid tie remain, but this time he’s added a pair of olive “glen plaid” trousers tucked into his orange socks. In this episode, Jeeves actually objected to this outfit, thinking it a bit too loud, but The Gentleman thinks that it is wonderful. Today’s fashion world is fixed on slim cut clothing for men, but there’s something to be said for wide cut trousers. When done right, they can add a devil-may-care charm.

What I like best about Hugh Laurie’s take on Bertie Wooster’s dress is that he is always impeccably stylish but looks like he barely gave it any thought. Maybe he was a bit hungover from a night of carousing and just threw that yellow vest on… and yet it always works. The Gentleman aspires to such ease of dressing.

I chose Bertie Wooster to be this week’s style icon because it seems that autumn has decided to arrive in many parts of the country. There was a chill breeze in the air down here in New Orleans, and I hear that it isn’t getting above the high fifties in New York. For The Gentleman, this means that it’s time to bring out the plaids, tweeds, and red and orange ties. Bertie always pulls off those colors so well, so he seemed like a good introduction to the season.

If you want to read more about Jeeves and Wooster, pick up a copy of the first volume of P. G. Wodehouse’s stories featuring the characters, Carry On, Jeeves. Also, be sure to check out the Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry television series. The stories and the show complement each other and are guaranteed to put you in a good mood.

Next week, inspired by Bertie, the Gentleman has thrifted a new tweed sport coat. Watch the “before and after” as he shows how essential alterations are for thrifted clothing…

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The Gentleman: Lagniappe

Inspiration from Old Photos

There has been a lot of discussion on men’s style blogs in recent weeks about the reprinting of a book called Take Ivy. This slim photography book by Teruyoshi Hayashida first appeared in Japan in 1965. It features about a hundred pages of candid photographs taken at Ivy League schools and in New York City in the mid-1960s. The book apparently became something of an underground cult-collectible, with original copies going for thousands of dollars at auctions. With the recent success of the television show Mad Men and the renewed interest in early to mid-1960s style, Take Ivy received its first English language printing last month.

The Gentleman decided to pick up a copy of the book to see what all the fuss was about. All in all, it’s an interesting little volume. It struck me as kind of odd to be an American reading a Japanese book commenting on American style, but maybe that is part of its charm. The second thing that I found fascinating is the degree to which modern dressing is being influenced by styles from this era. Or rather, the general public is becoming aware that this type of classic men’s dressing never disappeared, and more and more people are turning away from trends and toward looks that never go out of style. Below are three photos which I found particularly enjoyable: one casual and two business casual.

This first photo looks like something I wore all summer: blue button down dress shirt (I usually wear my sleeves rolled up), patchwork madras shorts and a pair of all-brown Sperry Topsider boat shoes. What’s fascinating about this photo is that there is nothing about it that would look out of place or outdated if it were worn today, and yet it’s a forty-five year-old photograph. This is exactly the kind of timeless dressing that I try to convey in my Gentleman columns.

This photograph captures a group of college students walking to church. Each of the men in the photograph is wearing a sport coat with “odd trousers,” meaning trousers of a different color than the jacket. With autumn approaching, sport coats are an important wardrobe item to consider, so I will discuss them further in a future column. My favorite look is the man in the center with a button-down collar, slim black tie, light khakis and a brown tweed sport coat. I also found it interesting how each man in the trio is wearing a different collar style. Left: full spread, middle: button down, right: point. Finally, each young man is wearing nicely tailored, yet still casual, cotton trousers. Their pants are neither baggy nor hipster skinny. This kind of balance, I am convinced, is the key to timeless dressing.

The third and final photo that I want to showcase is what Take Ivy referred to as a grown-up Ivy Leaguer; that is, a man working on Madison Avenue. I love everything about this photo. The contrast between the light tan sport coat and the charcoal dress pants is fantastic. I also love the little red accent provided by the subtle pocket square. The brown trilby hat is excellent as well. Hats are an accessory that really need to come back in full force for gentlemen.

I really enjoyed this slice of Ivy League life through photographs from the past. If you’re interested in checking out the book, Amazon is selling it for a reasonable $16 . J.Crew is apparently also selling it in some of their stores if you are more interested in flipping through the book while shopping instead of buying it, as I suspect many people will be.

Next week: the Gentleman introduces you to a new style icon, the misadventure-prone British gentleman, Bertie Wooster, as portrayed by Hugh Laurie…

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