Proper Cloth

qbnscholar replied to your post:b“qbnscholar replied to your post: “No presumptions and not insinuating…”:

Hang on to that youthful fantasy of yours about us old people not knowing what to do with our time. You probably also think we old folks are senile. Meanwhile, we village elders have lotsa fun doing all kindsa stuff you are too young to appreciate.

I hope, I will never be old enough to find enjoyment in collecting stamps, visiting cemetaries, going to the groceries at THE EXACT TIME when all other people *have to* go there, staring out of the window 12 hours a day to check whether somebody does something they can call the police for, yelling at random teens for not wearing “proper” clothing…
I know, I know, I know… this all leads to a rich and fulfilled life, but I rather spend my time in a darkend room during a bright sunny day, sipping at my coffee and wondering what the world behind these closed blinds might look like…


The Denim Dress Shirt

Dress shirt fabrics are pretty straightforward. Most are plain weaves, twills, and oxfords. Some are end-on-ends. In solid colors and stripes – and in whites and light blues – you can have a wardrobe of just these fabrics and essentially have the tailored-side of your shirt wardrobe covered. 

If you want to dress down a sport coat or casual suit, however, it’s useful to have some things in slightly more unusual materials. Maybe some linens or brushed cottons, or some things with bolder patterns. There’s also denim, which isn’t a fabric you typically think of when it comes to dress shirts, but it can look great underneath the right jacket.

I fell in love with the idea last year, when I saw this Hodinkee episode with John Goldberger. He’s seen wearing a hard-finished, checked tweed; a pair of tan, five-pocket corduroy pants; and a light-blue, washed denim shirt. The shirt and corduroys are a great way to dress down the tweed jacket, but also complement its rustic sensibility. 

Proper Cloth’s Custom Denim Shirts

I’ve been looking for a denim shirt ever since, so I was pretty excited to hear that Proper Cloth is putting together a custom denim shirt run. Ready-to-wear denim shirts are often too casual or don’t fit well, while custom ones look too much like office-wear. In order to get a denim shirt to look right, you have to put it through a special enzyme wash. That helps age the fabric in a way that gives it a more relaxed and casual appearance. 

Most custom shirtmakers aren’t able to offer special washes because they don’t have the necessary quantities to justify them. Proper Cloth, however, is organizing a large, but limited, run in order to get access to such washing machines. Two hundred spots will be available for sale on March 12th, with early access on March 11th for people who pre-register

The fabric they’ll be using a medium-heavy, two-ply, denim from Albiate (a high-end Italian mill that’s part of the Albini Group). The weight is light enough to be worn under a sport coat, but also heavy enough for casual wear. The denim starts off raw, but will then be put through one of two washes. One results in a darker color; the other lighter. Stylistic details, such as collar and cuff style, are of course fully customizable. 

At $150 a pop, these aren’t cheap, but if this same fabric was used for a ready-to-wear shirt, the price would be about the same. Online made-to-measure orders sometimes take a few trial runs to hone-in on the fit, so if you’re iffy about self-measurements, you can also send them your best fitting shirt to copy. I’ve already ordered my spot for $150 and am planning to do just that. 

Disclosure: Proper Cloth is a sponsor of Put This On. However, this post is not paid promotion. Our editorial policies can be read here.


Q & Answer: How to Wear Seersucker

David asks: I really want to wear a seersucker suit this spring, but I’m not sure how to pull it off. Any suggestions for how to make it look good?

Seersucker suits are an American classic, but you rarely see them around anymore. That’s partly because fewer and fewer men wear tailored clothes outside of work, so navy and dark grey suits remain, while casual suits are less common. It’s also because seersucker was originally established in the pre-air-conditioning era, when having something lightweight, cool-wearing, and easy-to-wash was as much about practicality as it was about style. 

These days, men are more likely to wear shorts and t-shirts when it’s hot, but you can still turn to seersucker for a sharper, more tailored look. Here are some suggestions, in descending order of preppy-ness: 

  • Go Unabashedly Prep: Believe it or not, seersucker suits were originally considered a poor-man’s alternative to linen. Sometime after the First World War, college men started to wear them, which is how they eventually became part of the preppy canon. If you go to things like garden parties, consider following Trent Lott’s style advice: pair a seersucker suit with pastel ties, white bucks, and cucumber sandwiches.
  • Go Bashfully Prep: A seersucker suit will always look preppy, but you can take some of the edge off by swapping pastel ties out for something darker, and trading white bucks for something less bright. Try a navy tie with dirty bucks or tan calf bluchers. Or tone the suit down further with a long-sleeved polo and casual loafers. 
  • Try Navy: If you can find one, a navy seersucker suit can be a nice alternative to the traditional blue and white. Here’s an exceptional double-breasted example on Savile Row tailor Michael Browne.
  • Break It Up: For an even more casual look, break the suit up into separates. You can wear a seersucker jacket with linen, cotton, or gabardine trousers in cream or tan (I like The Armoury’s Ring Jacket model for these purposes, since the jacket has patch pockets). Seersucker trousers can also be worn with a navy sport coat, as Voxsartoria has done here
  • Ease Into It: If you’re not yet ready for a seersucker jacket, consider a seersucker shirt. They can add some nice texture to a solid-colored sport coat. This season, you can find seersucker shirts from Brooks Brothers, Gitman Vintage, Aspesi, and Freeman’s Sporting Club. No Man Walks Alone also has some handsome short-sleeve options from Monitaly and Portuguese Flannel (although, those should be worn sans sport coat). For something custom, consider our sponsor Proper Cloth
  • For the Truly Timid: If all the above still scares you, try a seersucker tie. O’Connell’s has some traditional four-in-hands, J. Press has some bow ties, and A Suitable Wardrobe has seersucker striped ties without the crinkles. The last should be wearable even for the shyest of men.  

(photos via The Armoury, VoxsartoriaNeoRetro Style)


Combining ties & pocket squares - preview

A few thoughts of how to combine different ties and pocket squares - while keeping the rotation relatively small - as well as short review of Berg&Berg spring and summer ´15 selection coming up tomorrow.

Here - as a preview a few shots from couple of weeks back.


Suit: Vaatturiliike Sauma (mtm) Shirt: Proper Cloth (mtm) 

Tie & PS: Berg&Berg Watch: Omega Bracelets: Viola Milano


Causal Dress Shirts

If you want to dress down a tailored jacket, there are few better ways to do it than wearing a casual dress shirt. Things in slightly more textured or patterned materials will be less formal looking than your traditional, solid white and light blue broadcloths, and make you look less like you’ve just come from the office. In his books Dressing the Man and Clothes & the Man, Alan Flusser has some suggestions that I think are particularly good. A few of them are pictured above. All are unique enough to be casual, but also still unassailably in good taste. 

Some other pointers for picking good, casual dress shirts:

  • Stripes work year-round, but checks can sometimes be seasonal. Gingham and madras, for example, work better in the warmer months, while tattersalls, graph checks, and tartans look better with the tweeds and corduroys we wear in the cooler seasons.
  • Although light blue is a staple for many men, don’t be afraid of colors such as burgundy and dark green. Just get them in patterns, instead of solid colors.
  • Forgo the tie, especially if your shirt is particularly casual (e.g. busy patterns or non-traditional fabrics). 
  • Remember: the bolder the pattern, the more casual the shirt.
  • Consider less-formal materials. Brushed cotton flannels, chambray, and wool-cotton blends have a visual heft that goes well with tweed jackets. Linen and madras, on the other hand, are good with summer jacketings. 
  • Small collars can give you a very modern look, but they’re more likely to collapse underneath your sport coat when you’re not wearing a tie. If you want your collar to stand up, you have two options. The first is to go with a button down collar, which will stand up once you fasten the collar points. The second is to get a semi-spread collar with a tall enough collar band, long enough points, and stiff enough interlining. Be careful to not get something too big or stiff, however. Things can quickly look cheesy. I think our advertiser Ledbury has a particularly nice collar for wearing casually with sport coats. 
  • Shirts with a slightly lowered second button will give you a more attractive neck line when your collar is unbuttoned. Again, our advertiser Ledbury does this well. You can also request it on custom shirts. I use Ascot Chang and think they do a great job. For other options, consider MyTailor, Dege & Skinner, and CEGO (the last of which you have to be in NYC). For online made-to-measure companies, check out Cottonworks and our advertiser Proper Cloth. We have a series on custom shirts that can help you through the process.

You’ll rarely go wrong with a solid white or light blue shirt, but if you’re trying to dress down a sport coat, consider more casual options. Again, any of the patterns in Alan Flusser’s guides above would be a great place to start, so long as you pay attention to the details. 


Expanding a Shirt Wardrobe in the Summertime

Luciano Barbera once said that while you can have too many clothes, you can never have too many shirts. “Shirts are quick to wash and easy to store. Plus, they look great. A man should own as many shirts as he wishes –- the more the better.”

I don’t know if I would go that far, but having more shirts does allow you to play around a bit with a tailored wardrobe. Solid and striped shirts in your basic colors (white and light blue) are great mainstays, but having a few causal options can let you get some versatility out of what you already own. For summer, I like the following:

  • Madras: A lightweight, plain weave cotton that’s known for it’s bright and bold plaids. By tradition, these used to be dyed with vegetable dyes that would bleed in the wash, which in turn would give the shirts a distinctive, blurred look. Today, madras is almost always colorfast (meaning they don’t bleed or fade), which is perhaps lamentable, but I find they still go excellently under cotton or linen sport coats, or even worn on their own with a pair of chinos and some plimsolls. You can find them at O’Connell’s, J. Press, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and J. Crew.
  • Linen: I love the look of wrinkled linen, as it adds a casual, carefree touch to clothes that make them look more lived in. Plus, the plant fiber is just so lightweight and breathable, making it ideal on hot days. With the breeze blowing through, you’d hardly known you were wearing a shirt at all. You can find them at Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Ledbury. Our advertiser Proper Cloth also can make you something custom from their cotton/ linen blends – which will have the breathability of linen, but won’t wrinkle as much.
  • A dressy chambray: This one is admittedly hard to find. A long time ago, some guys at StyleForum became enamored with a distinctive chambray from the French weaver Simonnot Godard. It had the right mix of white and blue threads to make it a chambray, but was dressy enough to wear with tailored clothing (so not like the workwear chambrays you see everywhere else). At some point, it was found that the cloth has a small percentage of polyester in it, so traditionalists quickly abandoned their stock. I personally still love the fabric, and count it as one of my favorite shirtings. It’s unique without being loud, and something you can wear to the office or outside of it. Today, the closest you can find to those original Simonnot Godard chambrays is this shirt from Ledbury (which is 100% cotton). Otherwise, you can try searching around for various end-on-ends, which is a kind of weave that sometimes yields a vaguely similar look.
  • A washed chambray: More the workwear variety, and perhaps something that’s better in the fall with tweed jackets. In the summer though, I’ve found light blue chambrays to go excellently with casual clothes (leather jackets, chinos, and such). Just find something that’s light enough in color to look like a regular light blue shirt, but has a bit of ruggedness to it so that it’s casual. I like the ones from Chimala and RRL, although the prices are admittedly very dear. For something much more affordable, check out this shirt from Everlane