The Elements of a Three Piece Suit

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What’s the difference between a typical two-piece and a three-piece suit? Really, it’s the waistcoat. A waistcoat is the vest worn above the shirt and below the jacket. It’s amazing how the addition of this vest can add a sense of class to a boring trouser and blazer combination.

Can I just add a vest to my suit?

Technically, then it’s not a real three piece suit. The elements of a three piece suit must be made from the same material and lining. This includes the waistcoat, pants, and jacket.

If you take any two piece suit and add a new vest, this vest is called an “odd vest”. Typically, the waistcoat matches the rest of the outfit. If this is your first time trying to add a vest or waistcoat to your outfit, don’t go for a pop of color, just stick to the color of the rest of the suit.

How do you wear it?

As with jackets, there are buttoning rules for waistcoats. It’s best to always leave the last button undone.

You also won’t be needing a belt with your suit, it just looks off.

Finally, your waistcoat should cover your belt line. But don’t let it fall above or below it, or the proportions will be off.

Why did the three piece suit go out of style?

It’s not necessarily that it went out of style. According to Alan Flusser, author of “Dressing the Man“, the three piece suit started to decline due to wartime rationing. Tailors could not make the waistcoats necessary for three piece suits anymore.

Since then, they haven’t risen to much prominence. You do see the occasional one at a wedding or other formal event, but most people don’t walk into the office in one.

When can you wear a three piece suit?

The obvious answer is weddings. Grooms and groomsmen sporting three piece suits are becoming a hot trend in the wedding space. As a guest you can definitely wear one as well.

If you ever plan to head to the racetrack, a three piece suit will not look out of place.

At the office, it’s best to stick with class colors like black, matching every piece of the outfit.

Bond, James Bond, Part 3: Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton (1973-1989)

It’s been several weeks, but it’s time to come back to James Bond style!

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Sigh… Are we SURE the world didn’t end last month?

When we last left off, Sean Connery had just come back to the world of James Bond for one more go with the poorly-received “Diamonds are Forever.”  He had absolutely no intention of ever coming back to the role, at least at that point, and the producers took him at his word.  Lazenby was back in Australia modelling, and the series desperately needed a shot of newness to get it back on track after such a disappointing entry.  They went with someone who had come very close to getting the role back in 1962, Roger Moore.

Moore was, unlike Connery and Lazenby, already an established actor in his own right before coming to the Bond franchise.  What’s more, he had a pre-existing history as a jet-setting fictional spy, in th guise of Simon Templar of “The Saint,” a long-running BBC series based on a novel series of the same name.  In essence, he was bringing an entire espionage-appropriate wardrobe with him to the role!

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With optional halo accessory.

Moore was cut from a cloth more similar to Lazenby rather than Connery.  Simply put, Moore was pretty.  He didn’t have the rough-hewn edges that Connery had, or even the boyish ruggedness that Lazenby possessed.  Instead, Moore was prim, proper, and elegant.  The Conduit Cut that had worked so well for a decade simply didn’t suit him.  Instead, Moore went with his existing tailors at Cyril Castle in Mayfair.  They had made the suits he had worn to great effect throughout his work on “The Saint,” and made similar suits for Moore’s first Bond outing, “Live and Let Die,” albeit with some slightly more 1970s lines and colors.

070102-moore-cyrilcastleIn a nod to his predecessors, Moore kept the distinctive turnback cuff shirts that Connery and Lazenby had worn, at least at first.  Unfortunately, those only survived through Moore’s first two films, 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” and 1974’s “The Man with the Golden Gun.”  In addition, there was a much more relaxed sense to Moore’s Bond, with more sports jackets and slacks than suits.

This is a great look still, even with the '70s lapels...

This is a great look still, even with the ’70s lapels…

...The '70s plaid, not so much.

…The ’70s plaid, not so much.

The first two Moore outings were unabashedly ’70s: minimalistic, car-focused and roughly filmed.  Bond had come a long way away from the glamor of the ’60s films.  They both performed poorly at the box office, and an extended absence was initiated, while the series returned to form.  In 1977, Moore starred in “The Spy Who Loved Me,” a gargantuan, world-spanning production that also featured a much more formal set of clothes for Bond.  The full trappings of the late ’70s showed up here…

A midnight blue double-breasted dinner jacket with big, wide lapels...

A midnight blue double-breasted dinner jacket with big, wide lapels…

A tan cotton sports jacket with a canvassed front, complete with shoulder epaulette straps, taking us right into jungle adventurer territory...

A tan cotton sports jacket with a canvassed front, complete with shoulder epaulette straps, taking us right into jungle adventurer territory…

“The Spy Who Loved Me” remains the most popular of Moore’s Bond films, and 1979’s “Moonraker,” the highest grossing of his films, which had the same styles, along with some terrifying space-themed clothing…

Big lapels, flared bottoms, big big big '70s...

Big lapels, flared bottoms, big big big ’70s…

...And Bond by way of Ronald McDonald?

…And Bond by way of Ronald McDonald?

…So the styles that showed up here stayed associated with Moore’s Bond well after the fact.  But here is where there was a serious change.  Moore had, shall we say, some tax issues back in the United Kingdom, starting in 1978.  He moved the the South of France in the interim, and could no longer make regular visits to Mayfair.

The timing of the forced change in style was fortuitous, as after the over-the-top entries of the ’70s, the series was about to take a sharp turn back into seriousness with 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only.”  Moore sought out a tailor who was willing to come to his home in France: Douglas Hayward.  Hayward already had a reputation as a tailor to the stars, as evidenced by his beautiful suits for Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier and Peter Sellers.  His more subtle, subdued approach engineered a look for Bond that was so timeless, it lasted all the way into the ’90s, and doesn’t look particularly dated even today.

Typical of the style, with soft, natural shoulders and roped sleeveheads.  The lapels are back to normal now...

Typical of the style, with soft, natural shoulders and roped sleeveheads. The lapels are back to normal now…

A notched-lapel dinner suit that still looks good today...

A notched-lapel dinner suit that still looks good today…

This continued through Moore’s last two films, 1983’s “Octopussy” and 1985’s “A View to a Kill.”

Pinstripes show up a lot during this period, as well.

Pinstripes show up a lot during this period, as well.

After “A View to a Kill,” Moore was simply too old to keep doing the films, so the search for a new Bond was on.  This switch in actors was easily the most tumultuous of the entire series, and ended with Pierce Brosnan, then of “Remington Steele,” getting the role…  He was forced to turn it down, much to his horror, because of his commitment to “Remington Steele” (the same reason we have Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones instead of Tom Selleck, due to “Magnum, P.I.”).  The producers were left scrambling, and settled on sort of dark horse choice in the form of Timothy Dalton, who had been approached back in 1969 for the role, but felt himself too young at the time.  Dalton was a big fan of the Fleming novels, and wanted to take the character back to brutal basics.  His two installments, 1987’s “The Living Daylights,” and 1989’s controversially violent “License to Kill,” remain some of the darkest, grimmest entries in the series.  His wardrobe took a similar tack.

Hayward left the series with Moore, with whom he remained close friends until his death in 2008.  Exactly who made the suits for the Dalton films is a bit of a melange, and was the result of the work of several different tailors.  In the first half of “The Living Daylights,” Dalton dons several different Benjamin Simon suits.

This simple number is arguably the most perfectly fitting suit in the entire SERIES...

This simple number is arguably the most perfectly fitting suit in the entire SERIES…

A beige gaberdine suit from the film's Tunisia sequences....

A beige gaberdine suit from the film’s Tunisia sequences….

A classic three-piece pinstriped suit for Bond's time at MI6 in the film.

A classic three-piece pinstriped suit for Bond’s time at MI6 in the film.

After around five of these, things go downhill from a sartorial perspective, and don’t come back up until 1995!  Bond goes downright casual from here on, a reflection of the film’s chaotic, gritty tone, but also, apparently, Dalton’s discomfort with formal wear.  It works in “The Living Daylights.”  Terrifyingly, Dalton had to reign in the producers on “License to Kill.”  The film centers on drug trafficking in Florida, the Caribbean and Central America.  “Miami Vice” was popular at the time.  You can probably guess where we’re going with this…

Ahh!  Kill it!  Kill it with fire!

Ahh! Kill it! Kill it with fire!

Of Jodie Tillen, costume designer on “License to Kill,” Dalton had words…

“She wanted to put me in pastels.  Can you imagine?  I thought, ‘No, we can’t have that.’  The clothes say so much about Bond.  He’s got a naval background, so he needs a strong, simple color, like dark blue.” – Timothy Dalton, 1989

While that disaster was averted, the film’s plot, featuring a renegade Bond out for revenge in the tropics, kept Dalton out of suits for nearly the entire film, excepting the horrendous “best man” suit he dons in the pre-title sequence (probably deliberately hideous), and a very, very average tux he wears to a casino midway through the film.  It looks like a rental, which, again, makes sense in the context of the story (Bond has no resources, and is operating on his own and without a plan), but it’s still quite unfortunate to not get to see the finery we associate with the character in one of his films.

Oh, James, what have they done to you?

Oh, James, what have they done to you?

Like we said, this sad state of affairs would not be corrected until 1995.  Why so long?  Well, that’s a story for next time, when we go into our fourth and final entry into our exploration of Bond’s wardrobe.  Until next time!

Bond, James Bond, Part 2: Sean Connery and George Lazenby (1962-1971)

It’s time to return to the world of spies and vodka martinis, “shaken, not stirred.”  And just in time, too, because today marks the North American release of the 23rd official James Bond film, “Skyfall.”  We’ll be first in line to see it!

But before we head on an adventure with Daniel Craig’s Bond, it’s time to take a trip to the past, to where we left off in the James Bond fashion chronology, all the way back to 1962. The process of bringing James Bond to the screen from the page was not an easy one, to say the least.  We won’t go into the details here, it would take far too long.  But the lasing legacy of the long process was the choice of Sean Connery as James Bond.
As we told you last time, Bond in the novels was a sort of portmanteau of Ian Fleming himself crossed with his former buddies in British Intelligence circles.  When Fleming imagined Bond, he basically imagined a more dapper version of himself.

“Goldfinger,” starring your Fifth Grade math teacher!

The film’s producers at first didn’t stray too far from the idea, wanting Cary Grant for the role.  Grant, though, refused to sign a multi-picture deal, and the producers were banking on a franchise.  They went through British actor Richard Johnson, Patrick McGoohan and David Niven, never able to reach consensus.  They even ran a contest to choose bond, eventually settling on a 28-year-old model named Peter Anthony, who was nowhere near prepared for the role.  Legend has it they even considered future Bond Roger Moore, though he denies it.

Finally, a scruffy, 30-year-old Scotsman in unpressed clothes came in to try out for the part, and absolutely oozed a macho, devil-may-care attitude.  He didn’t look like the novel’s description, but he felt like the character, through-and-through.  The producers knew on the spot that Sean Connery was their man.

How could they not?

There was, however, a problem.  He had zero fashion sense, and was as sophisticated and cultured as a dump truck.  Director Terence Young, himself a suave and debonair playboy of the highest order, took Connery under his wing, introducing him to the high life and high fashion of London.  He took him to his own personal tailor, Anthony Sinclair, at 43 Conduit Street.  The paired-down look of the suits Connery ended up wearing throughout his time as Bond became known as the “Conduit cut”: lightweight 100% wool in navy blue and shades of grey with a subtle check, “waisted” in a slimline, single-breasted, two-button format.  The idea was for Bond to look well-dressed, but not stand out in a crowd, sound advice for a spy.

Connery had never worn a suit for any length of time before, and was apparently insanely uncomfortable in one.  So Young had Connery wear the suits CONSTANTLY, all day, every day, during pre-production, until they felt like a second skin to him.

It seems to have worked…

For all intents and purposes, Young turned Connery into a more gruff (and Scottish) version of himself, rather than of Fleming.  This act has influenced the way Bond has been portrayed ever since, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, dark with a dash of humor, as opposed to the more brutal, cold-hearted version of the character from the books (although that’s come back a bit…more on that later).  Bond became a fashion icon in his own right, now that his internal monologue was missing.  Instead of commenting on what other people were wearing, he dressed to the nines himself, but then, so did his adversaries and allies.

In the first of Connery’s Bond films, 1962’s “Dr. No,” Bond informs CIA agent Felix Leiter that his suits were tailored in Savile Row, even though they were not, a slight nod to the books and to Fleming.  The fashion in the first two films, “Dr. No” and 1963’s “From Russia With Love,” retains the basic look that Young gave Connery, all designed by Sinclair, and all accompanied by shirts from Turnbull & Asser.

The suits are remarkably simple, and, in fact, Bond never even dons a belt, so as to keep the sleek lines of the suits uninterrupted.  The pants all sit at the waits, not the hip, another way to keep the lines more unified.  Bond wears, almost exclusively, dark blue grenadine ties for the entire films.  He frequently wears a white linen pocket square, neatly folded into the front of his jackets.  And, hilariously, despite Bond’s hatred of Windsor knots, he wears them in “Dr. No,” before properly shifting to four-in-hand knots from “From Russia With Love” on.

Interestingly, the suits in the first two films are more timeless than suits in the films that followed.  They could all be easily worn today.  The next three films, 1964’s “Goldfinger,” 1965’s “Thunderball” and 1967’s “You Only Live Twice,” all featured far narrower lapels, muted browns, and old-fashioned three-piece cuts, all very, very ’60s, though we do mean that in a good way.

Rumor has it that some American tailors were used in “Goldfinger,” which makes sense, since more fashionable (for the time) details like pageboy waistcoats suddenly show up.  The number of materials and colors also expands dramatically.  But the basic cut remains the same, until the next film in the series, 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

OHMSS brought in not just new fashion, but a new Bond, in the form of Australian model George Lazenby, after Sean Connery declined to return for a sixth, extra contractual film.  Peter Hunt, director of OHMSS, was a fashion-conscious gentleman in his own right, and was given broad leeway in the way this new Bond would be presented, using his own favorite tailor, Dimi Major of Fulham, London W1.  Possibly because of Lazenby’s more “pretty” look, and experience as a model, as well as acknowledgement of the more brazen and colorful styles that had come to dominate fashion in the seven years since “Dr. No,” Bond was given a much larger and more colorful wardrobe.  A modified version of the “Conduit cut” from prior films was still used in the London scenes, but unlike before, Bond wore more than that sleek, simple cut when out of the glare of MI6, even wearing an astonishing cream-colored suit at one point.  Did we mention the ruffles?

But come 1971, Connery came back for one more Bond, “Diamonds Are Forever.”  The film is a bit of a wacky outlier for the Bond series, and even though Connery brought the more muted styles and colors of his films back with him (likely along with tailor Anthony Sinclair), some of the OHMSS style remained, likely a result of the American side of the production not collaborating with the English side completely.  Connery even wears a cream-colored suit himself, at one point.  And even the muted, London suits are slightly changed, with the wider lapels of the ’70s making their appearance felt.

This brings us to the end of Connery’s tenure, until his brief return with the unofficial “Never Say Never Again” in 1983.  Roger Moore and excesses of the ’70s are next, and we’ll pick up there in Part 3.  Until next time…

Ahhhh!

The Fashion Police Patrols the 2012 NFL Draft

“Hall of famer Bert Bell spearheaded the idea of a player draft in the 1930’s.

The idea came to fruition with the holding of the NFL’s first ever player draft in 1936. Since that time what has happened in the draft room has set the stage for what happens on the field shaping the destiny of teams for years to come.

More than ten thousand of the best players from the college ranks have been drafted to play pro ball. Some never played a single down, others have managed to have long careers, and a select few went on to greatness.”

-From the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website

Competitive parity, check!  It gives football fans like us warm feelings to read those words…  And that’s nice and all, but you know we are more concerned about clothes(breaking news!), so here is a look at some of the top ten picks of this year’s draft from a more sartorial perspective…

Colts QB Andrew Luck! Well, good Luck to you and get a good clothier. Can't expect grandness looking so, well, safe and plain... C'mon man, at least wear a pocket square. Verdict? Too safe. And you don't advance much in life by being safe.

2nd pick, QB Robert Griffin III for the Redskins. We see sartorial potential in the raw! We love the idea of a lighter color suit and plaid shirt. Hopefully, his contract will bring him, among other things, a full sartorial wardrobe.

3rd pick, RB Trent Richardson. Oh, Trent, all done with college football. On the other hand, your wardrobe is still missing a couple of more classes. One of the lessons you missed is "less is more." In other words, too much trimming. We think just the lapels would have done the trick!

4th pick, OT Matt Kalil. We like what Kalil did. When in doubt, stick to what you know. Well done. A three-piece pinstripe suit is always classic, and a dash of color on the tie? Bravo!

6th pick, CB Morris Claiborne. Hmmm. We are not 100% sure the "bank magnate" is the perfect look for a 22-year-old. Really pushing the envelope far too much. He would have been great in a light fitted suit with a playful shirt and tie combination. Oh well, hang on Morris, there will be plenty more events.

7th pick, S Mark Barron. What happened?! You almost got it, kid. Major points taken off with the oversized gold watch and last minute pocket square. And just two questions: why is the lining of your jacket blue? And, are you wearing white socks?! Because white socks match the white pocket square? Oh nooo...

8th pick, QB Ryan Tannehill. An OK look, overall. We love monograms, so good job, Ryan. Now, who is picking these nonsensical pocket squares?! And we are under the impression the Ryan had on a brown belt with black shoes, can someone pass a note: "huge no-no"?

10th pick, Stephon Gilmore. Here we go, finally! This is what we are talking about: effortless, classic, age appropriate, clean-cut look! Good job, Stephon, hope to see you soon!

Weddings 201: Here Comes the Groom…

You’ve found something shiny and presented it to her in the most amazing way possible.  With your heart out and the highest hopes for eternal happiness, you asked her to marry you and she said…  “Yes!”  Well, Congratulations!  That said, we’re sorry, but you have one more bit of homework to do (doing your part of the chores around the house/apartment from the moment you say “I do” doesn’t count as homework anymore, it’s being married).  This last bit will be to find an outstanding wedding garb for yourself.

We call it “homework” because in order to succeed you must study very carefully some important aspects of the wedding.  Is it formal?  Beachy?  Casual?  Are you and your bride contemporary or more traditional?  What is the wedding’s color scheme?  Is it sultry, sexy, mysterious, romantic?  Your wedding day wardrobe should blend seamlessly with all of those pre-existing factors.  But we’re gonna go out on a limb here and say that unlike some ladies that have been planning this joyous event since their childhood, most gentlemen are unacquainted about the whole wedding fuss, and are, from our perspective, the ones who need the most help as far as making the right wardrobe decision.  But they’re often the ones who get the least help.

Pictured: no help.

We are positive that she is willing to help with all the arrangements for you to look fabulous, but at the risk of stating the obvious, she is, and will be until the last minute of the wedding day, so very, very busy.  Since you are such an incredible man (right?), you are going to free her from yet another wedding task (RIGHT??), so that she can decide other things, like Vera Wang or Monique Lhuillier, Manolos or Loubotins, organza or silk taffeta, or perhaps what the bridesmaids will be wearing.

No. Guess again.

Here we will provide you with a cheat sheet of what this one-of-a-kind, once in a lifetime (hopefully!) ensemble must have.  The most important part is that this outstanding wedding garb most likely won’t be found at first sight.  The one that will compliment her astonishing dress, the one that make you look amazing standing there waiting for her at the altar.  You and your fiancée have waited a lifetime for this day, so this masterpiece must be created.

A designer wedding gown can cost up to $18,000.  We are not implying your tux or suit should be just as expensive (well, unless you really want it to be), but it undoubtedly must be of the same quality.  It is in a custom wardrobe that you receive that quality and value (100% Super 210s wool sounds about right), and, needless to say, a perfect fit, color trim and so forth, the key pieces of your one-of-a-kind wedding garb.

The essentials of a perfect suit or tuxedo:

Number one is fit.  If the suit fits, then it will look good.  Next is fabrication.  Finally, accessories.  As far as style, three-piece tuxedos are definitely in style.  They always are, but seem to be predominantly in style right now.  Wear a necktie with your tuxedo for a young, modern look.  A classic, formal look always is the standard, with a white shirt and a white bow tie.  Not every wedding is formal, but never wear a tuxedo with a colored tie!

...Well, if you're this adorable, maybe you can get away with it.

The best style is to stay a little more classic, but to have a unique cloth.  There should be a tone-on-tone pattern that has luster and a little depth; something that is striking.  You will probably be the only one in a tuxedo, but with beautiful detailing, like a white shirt and white tie, or a unique fabric, or a vest that matches the jacket, and most definitely through the use of accessories and materials, you will ultimately stand out.

Shoes are another amazing but subtle way to stand out.  Beautiful, high-gloss, leather lace-ups are always perfect.  And for something a little more stylish and unique, a custom shoe in leather with some detailing.

Just remember, you are not alone.  It will be our pleasure to serve you on this joyous event.  Let the architect of style create your wedding day masterpiece!