From Sheep to Suit

A great suit cannot be made without great fabric. And a lot of great fabrics start as far from great suits as possible:

"Baaa."

“Baaa.”

To fully understand how we get from a sheep to a custom suit, we need to follow a day in the life of a merino sheep (or at least their wool).  A merino sheep has some of the most sought-after wool for the making of clothes due to their softness and white color, which allows for a more lively hue when dyed.  Wool in general is an optimal fabric for suits, because it insulates well, resistant to damage, wrinkle and flame-resistant, and absorbs liquids well.  An average of two suits can be made from one sheep fleece.

3The whole process begins with the sheep being shorn.  Expert shearers can get an entire sheep’s wool coat off in one cut.  The rest of this process is called “worsting,” which involves many steps.  First is topmaking, where the wool is blended together for optimal quality. The wool is then washed, dried and brushed out.  Next up is drafting and combing the wool, which straightens and separates the fibers, allowing them to be aligned as orderly as possible. The final product of worsting is wooltop.  It is critical to the spinner for wooltop to be very uniform and clear of any clumps to ensure quality and efficiency in the following steps.

Most of the wool for clothing production is gathered in Australia, where conditions in certain areas are ideal for sheep.  The wool is cleaned there, and then sent out to various clothing workshops.  There is still a large industry in Europe for cloth production.  The carding and blending process is done by the masters who are responsible for the unvarying quality of their fabric.  The spinning and dying is generally done by the same company, to ensure consistency and excellence.  To get the best color, it is best to dye the cloth before spinning the fibers.  Spinning is an extremely important part of the whole process, because any variations in the fibers will result in a lower-quality fabric.  Next, the yarn is twisted and folded.  This process can be manipulated to bring about lighter weight fabrics.

SONY DSCAs you can see, there is a lot of work before the weaving process can even begin!  Weaving determines the weight and look of the fabric, and is done on a loom.  Pre- industrial revolution weaving was all done manually, until inventions gradually sped up the process.  “Finishing” the cloth results in the wide options of fabric looks and feels that we love to choose from!  While it seems like the process is over, the best fabrics are looked over again, and any imperfections will be removed through washing, pressing and mending.  This meticulous procedure will result in longer lasting and better feeling fabric.

Corners can easily be cut when making fabric, resulting in lower quality.  Here at Joseph Wendt Custom Clothiers, we only invest in the very best fabric coming from companies in Italy that pay as much attention to detail as we do.

Once we have fabric choices, the custom process can begin!  Each client is measured, and is given a choice of fabric and style, all to their personal taste.  From buttons to the color of the thread, we work with the customer so they get everything they want in a suit, along with the confidence of wearing an item of clothing made just for them.  No custom suit is ever the same!

Some info on the process is taken from “Suitable Sheep: From Sheep to Suit in Pictures

Fall & Winter Fashion, Joseph’s Custom Style

year-120-seconds-seasons-fall-winter-summer-spring-time-lapseIf you didn’t know, Joseph Wendt Custom Clothiers has two locations. One in Long Island, NY, and one more recent location in Naples, FL.  Thanks to our great relationships with manufacturers, each store has access to the same vast variety of cloth and pattern choices. Our clients live all over the country, and in all different climates, so we want to keep each one up-to-date with their own personal comfort and fashion. But how do we dress our Florida clients in the latest fall and winter trends, which consist of long wool jackets, cashmere sweaters, and other more “cold weather” outfits? At Joseph’s, we are able to match a client’s need no matter the weather!

SONY DSCIt’s all about the fabric! We have some lovely wool blends that are as light and breathable as can be. We also carry light and remarkably soft 100% cashmere, and cashmere/silk blend sweaters in a variety of colors; all perfect for a Floridian fall or winter day, when the temperature dips at sunset. We carry 150s, which are lightweight without taking away from the soft and cozy feel of how a sweater should be. You don’t have to miss out on any fashion trends no matter where you live when you buy from Joey!

SONY DSCWhen fabric, such as wool, is of high quality, it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Comfort can be ensured by blending wool with other quality fabrics, such as silk. Wool can also be spun into finer thread, which takes away the coarse feeling often associated with wools.  Colors also play a huge part in a fashionable but season-appropriate look. Our gigantic selection of fabrics lets us use fall foliage colors such as browns, rust, and the entire orange and red spectrum, without sacrificing fabric quality. We also like to compliment blues and grays with brown for a distinctly fall feel during this time of year.  And, of course, blues, grays and blacks are a standard go-to for winter colors, regardless of where you’re wearing the outfit.

SONY DSCAll of our fabrics are of the highest quality, direct from Italy. We have a plethora of swatch books at our two stores for you to come see, and feel, the quality of the fabrics. That way, it’s easy for you to picture them coming together in a custom suit made just for you! Don’t let the weather deter your look! Look good and feel good now with a trip to one of Joseph’s two showrooms!

What to Wear to a Job Interview

Job interviews are kind of awful.  They’re basically extremely awkward dates, minus any of the food, fun, and potential kisses.  …Well, at least we hope your interviewer isn’t trying to kiss you!  At any rate, you need to focus on your resume, what you’re going to say, what strengths and weaknesses you will discuss, how you will answer the dreaded “where do you see yourself in five years?” question…  You don’t want to have to spend time worrying about your clothes, too, but those are essential, as well.  What to do?  Consult this handy chart that the nice people at Rasmussen College made on the subject, of course!  While the ins and outs are a bit more complicated, this list of dos and don’ts is a great place to start!

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Starfleet Fashions: Semper Exploro!

Today, we are going where no fashion blog has gone before: directly into nerdiness.  We’ve talked about future fashion in science fiction once before, but that was a look at overall fashion senses in different visions of the future.  This time, we want to take a look at one fashion future in particular, and the timing of this blog should give you a hint…

Scary leather is apparently IN for the summer of 2259.

Scary leather is apparently IN for the summer of 2259.

Yep, “Star Trek” fashion.  But not just any “Star Trek” fashion…  The Original Series was packed full of insane visions of future fashions for civilians, especially some amazingly crazy, but often incredibly sexy, women’s clothes.  But we’re interested in SUITS, something you don’t see much of in “Star Trek.”  And after the Original Series, fashion takes a decided backseat.  But one thing that always showed up, and changed a ridiculous amount of times, were the venerable Starfleet uniforms.

"Semper exploro" should maybe be "semper mutans vestem" in this case...

“Semper exploro” should maybe be “semper mutans vestem” in this case…

The Federation Starfleet goes through more changes of clothes than Carrie Bradshaw does in “Sex and the City.”  We could go on forever about all the variations in uniforms, but let’s take a look at the main highlights across the nearly 50-year franchise…

2135 – Late 2100s

Jumpsuits, jumpsuits, jumpsuits.  And zippers galore.  When “Star Trek: Enterprise” (2001-2005) came on the air in 2001 as a prequel, the producers wanted a “Right Stuff” feel for the early pre-Federation Starfleet, so to NASA fatigues they went.  There were some clever uses of Windsor-knot ties in the Admiral uniforms, and these have the distinction of being the only “Star Trek” uniforms with pockets, absurdly enough!

Duty uniform, Command Division

Duty uniform, Command Division

Flag Officer uniform

Flag Officer uniform

Dress uniform

Dress uniform

Early 2200s – 2240s

We love these.  They were deliberately designed for the prologue of the film “Star Trek” (2009) as an homage to the space uniforms of ’50s and early ’60s sci-fi, like “Forbidden Planet.”  The belt is a great touch.  But you’d better be in shape to wear one of these, judging by how form-fitting they are!

Duty uniform, Command Division

Duty uniform, Command Division

2240s – 2265

Oh, dear…  Bland colors, really obtuse zippers on the side of the neck, and very cheap-looking fabrics.  These early uniforms, made for the two “Star Trek” pilots in 1964 and 1965, were the bad side of that retro sci-fi look we liked.

Duty uniforms, Command Divison

Duty uniforms, Command Division

2265-2270

Now we’re talking…  Velour?  Check.  Bright, primary colors?  Check?  Bell-bottom pants?  check.  Insanely short skirts on the female uniform?  Check, and kind of ridiculous, but what the heck.  These are the classics, the uniforms from the Original Series (1966-1969) and the Animated Series (1972-1973).  Do they look a little like pajamas?  Sure.  But they’re functional, simple, get across rank, Division and assignment in an incredibly elegant, simple fashion (gold for Command, blue for Sciences, red for Operations, with a modified version of the U.S. Naval rank stripes on the sleeves, and different emblem shapes for assignments).  And how can you not love the high, black leather boots?

Male duty uniforms, all divisions, and CO's "wraparound" uniform

Male duty uniforms, all divisions, and CO’s “wraparound” uniform

Male and female duty uniforms, all divisions

Male and female duty uniforms, all divisions

2270-2278

Oh, no…  The dreaded “penguin grays.”  Sometime in the 1970s, everyone somehow forgot how colorful the Original Series was, and came up with these abominations for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979).  Bland, drab pastel colors, and that bizarre belt buckle (supposedly a “life support monitor,” for some reason)…  And SPANDEX EVERYWHERE.  Stephen Collins, who played Captain Willard Decker in the film, once said of these things that…  Well…  Let’s just say that sitting was a painful proposition for the male actors.  We like the Admiral uniform, though, and they get points for sheer variety of uniform types.

Duty uniforms

Duty uniforms

Flag officer uniform

Flag officer uniform

2278-2350

Our favorite of the bunch, these maroon, Teutonic beauties were made for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982), in order to grab a hold of the color of the Original Series, as well as bring a certain “Horatio Hornblower” naval flair to the franchise.  These were easily the most well thought-out uniforms, with a detailed series of rank insignia, service pins, a huge array of Division colors (seen in the collar and insignia straps), special away team jackets, and separate designs for enlisted crew, medical staff, engineering staff, and more.  This was the first time in the franchise that Starfleet actually felt like a real, breathing military organization.  So popular were these, they were used again in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984), “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” (1989), “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (1991), and the prologue of “Star Trek: Generations” (1994).  They also showed up in flashbacks throughout the series set in the late 24th century, featuring an alteration of the undershirt from a turtleneck to a crewneck somewhere around 2325.  Heck, they’re so good, even in the fictional “Star Trek” universe, they were in service for an insane 72 years!

Duty uniforms and Flag Officer uniform (foreground), multiple divisions

Duty uniforms and Flag Officer uniform (foreground, note the gold striping), multiple divisions

Duty officer uniform, open, Sciences Divison

Duty officer uniform, open, Sciences Division

Duty officer uniform, crewneck variation, Engineering Division

Duty officer uniform, crewneck variation, Engineering Division

Enlisted crew uniforms, Trainee and Security Divisons

Enlisted crew uniforms, Trainee and Security Divisions

2350-2365

You’d think they would have learned their lesson from the 1979 model…  Made for “Star Trek: the Next Generation” (1987-1994), they went back to the spandex, complete with an ugly zipper line in the front.  We like hiding the Starfleet emblem in the color pattern of the uniform, and the return to a three-color division system.  But otherwise, ugh.  And according to Patrick Stewart, they were murder on backs since they compressed everyone into them!  Don’t even get us started on the cheerleader-like “skant” uniform…

Duty uniforms, Operations Division

Duty uniforms, Operations Division

"Skant" variant uniforms, all divisions

“Skant” variant uniforms, all divisions

2365-2373

An improvement, to be sure!  This was an effort to take the earlier TNG uniforms, and make them look like actual uniforms, as well as make them a lot more comfortable to wear for the actors.  The male uniforms switched to wool, and the zipper was moved to the back.  No longer form-fitting, and with a rank collar, these were much more dignified.  The “casual” jumpsuit variant, on the other hand, introduced for “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (1993-1999), and also used in “Star Trek: Voyager” (1995-2001), is dull, dull, dull.  These things had stirrups slung under the boots to keep them taut, leading “Voyager” actor Robert Beltran to remark, “they just make you sag…”  Not a good idea.

Duty uniforms, all divisions

Duty uniforms, all divisions

Flag Officer uniform, Command Division

Flag Officer uniform, Command Division

Jumpsuit variation, all divisions

Jumpsuit variation, all divisions

2373-2390s

Still jumpsuit-like, but far more staid and uniform-like.  We approve.  The grey shoulders look good, as does the ribbed fabric.  Created for “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996), and also used in “Star Trek: Insurrection” (1998), “Star Trek: Nemesis” (2002), and the later seasons of DS9, there’s not much to say on this one, except that we love the Admiral uniform’s Federation Seal belt buckle.

Duty officer uniforms, all divisions

Duty officer uniforms, all divisions

Flag Officer uniform, Command Division

Flag Officer uniform, Command Division

Dress uniform, Sciences Division

Dress uniform, Sciences Division

Alternate 2250s and 2260s

Made for the new “Star Trek” (2009) movie and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013), these are straight-up an updated version of the classic Original Series uniforms for the “Alternate Reality” the new movies take place in.  The fabrics look very high-quality and comfortable, and the inclusion of the Starfleet emblem in the fabric is a very nice touch.  Wonderfully retro and futuristic at the same time.  And the dress uniforms are great, straight out of a 23rd century West Point!

Male duty uniform, Sciences Division

Male duty uniform, Sciences Division

Female duty uniform, Operations Division

Female duty uniform, Operations Division

Flight jumpers

Flight jumpers

Dress uniforms

Dress uniforms

There’s more than these, of course, from the infamous evil “Mirror Universe” uniforms (bared midriffs galore), to uniforms from alternate realities and possible futures, but we’ve gone on long enough!  We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the fantastical, because next time we’re coming back to Earth.  See you then!

Revenge of the English Shooting Jacket

Here’s something that you may be surprised to see us talking about.  Although, anyone familiar with this blog over the past two years wouldn’t be at all surprised to see us talking about this after we spent multiple pages discussing the history of golf clothes!  Today, we want to talk about that stalwart of the Anglosphere, the English shooting jacket, or coat, if you prefer.

"I'll call it what I want."

“I’ll call it what I want.”

We’ve gone over the history of suits and some of their variations in the past. What’s relevant here is that by the 1800s, the modern “suit” had reached a point where you can easily trace all of the modern variations from it.  Its basic lines were very similar to the lines of today.  But, hilariously, the most common variations of suit jackets, the sport coats, have their origins in English military and hunting culture.  The blazer goes back to the H.M.S. Blazer, and its crew’s attempt in 1837 to impress Queen Victoria, who would be making a surprise visit, on the fly, resulting in a modified uniform that eventually became the blazer.  Meanwhile, the hacking jacket and shooting jackets, slightly more formal in lines than the blazer, birthed the basic sport coat that we think of now.  But, in England especially, the hacking jacket, made of wool or tweed with a single vent for horseback riding, and the shooting jacket, typified by a leather patch on the front shoulder to prevent wear from the butt of a weapon, and also made of wool or tweed, never completely gave way to the modern sport coat, and are still worn to hunt and ride.

241px-1901_Sartorial_Arts_Journal_Fashion_Plate_Men's_Norfolk_Jacket

Norfolk stylin’.

The shooting jacket started life as the Norfolk jacket, a belted, single-breasted jacket with box pleats and a belt.  It was designed specifically so that it would not bind when the elbow was raised by the wearer to fire their weapon, and became popular during the 1860s in the Prince of Wales’ personal circle of hunting pals, eventually spreading to the general populace, as these things often do.  Its basic lines can still be found in military and police uniforms around the world, but it’s rarely seen as a shooting jacket in its own right anymore.

shooteruplandih0Over time, the shooting jacket evolved into what we see today: a jacket similar in lines to other sport coats, but made with a shoulder patch to absorb weapon recoil, and made of stronger materials to withstand rain, burrs and shotgun scorching.  The materials chosen, wool and tweed, are for just that, to withstand the elements.  The lines are what we would, in the present, consider “formal,” because that was the fashion of the Victorian Era that birthed it: formality in all occasions, even the informal.  It is, in many ways, simply a more utilitarian suit jacket.  Larger buttons on the pockets are there to keep them closed, even while running at a clip, so that items won’t fall out, the elbows are fitted for the wearer to allow for easy raising of the arms to aim and shoot, without disrupting the wear of the jacket, et cetera.

While style didn’t truly enter into the equation when they first came into being, now, shooting jackets are a style statement in their own right.  Modern hunters frequently wear clothes designed purely for function, that are sometimes beyond unattractive…

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So, some people, including in the US, where the shooting jacket never truly caught on, are going back to the wool and tweed jackets of yore, to hunt in style.

To that end, we’ve jumped into the fray, making our own English shooting jacket for the express purpose of having it auctioned off at a Naples, FL wine festival.  Made of a thick wool tweed with intricate detailing throughout, with upper shoulder and chest patches for resting the gun, and to receive the recoil of a long arm.  The elbow patches are a stylish touch, and also for durability when shooting.  There’s extra tension in the elbow region when positioning oneself to shoot, an inverted pleat down the back, patch pocketing, and a half-belt along the back waist, all adding to the unique look and style of the jacket.  We’re really proud of this one, so take a look at it below!  Hopefully, our minor contribution can help these lovely jackets get a new foothold in the hearts of hunters and shooters in the US.

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!

Ties, Ties, and More Ties

We’ve been off talking about fashion vis-a-vis films, the quirks of football, and so on, for a while.  Well, it’s time to go back to our roots, and talk about the intricacies of one of our favorite subjects: ties!  We’ve been thinking about ties more than usual lately, especially since we’re involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society right now, selling special red ties featuring the LLS’s logo embroidered on the tip at $195 each, with $50 of each sale going back to the LLS.  And they happen to be available right now in both our Long Island and Naples showrooms!  Be sure to drop by and pick one up, or give us a call to order one.

You know why we’re thinking about ties, but what, someone might ask, could one possibly be thinking about ties so much?  Ties are just ties, right?  Well, not really.  Ties are deceptively simple.  After all, it’s just a strip of fabric around your neck.  But there really is no end to the little details and slight alterations to the basic tie formula one can find out there, and believe it or not, the right tie can make a suit, while the wrong tie can completely destroy it.  Let’s go over some of those fine details…

Patterns

cotton-tiesThis is the obvious one.  The first thing you’ll notice on a tie rack, after the colors, are the patterns.  There are an insane number of them, but here are the principal ones…

  • Solids: Versatile and simultaneously daring and conservative.  Dark solids go well with solid suits, patterned jackets, and shirts.  Basically, the go-to tie pattern.
  • Reps or Stripes: Stripes usually show up diagonally, and are pretty much the “safe business tie.”  Order, dependability and trustworthiness are the name of the game here, though boldly colored stripes can be a subtle way of saying “look at me” more strongly.  You can pull one of these off with a striped shirt, but you have to carefully compare the stripe pattern of the shirt with the tie, and make sure they don’t clash.  Shorter people should avoid horizontal stripes at all costs!
  • Checks or Plaids: Usually made of wool, and traditionally seen as casualwear, they go well with tweed or herringbone patterns in flannel or summer jackets.  Plaids are never, ever worn with a pin-striped suit.
  • Foulards or Ivy League: Very popular right now, these ties repeat a small, usually subtle motif of some sort all over the tie, from top to bottom.  From the basic polka dots (the smaller the dot, the more formal the tie) to neat patterns of basic shapes, there’s an endless supply of things one can do here.  They can be formal, casual, and everything in-between, depending on the pattern.
  • Clubs: Associated with particular sports clubs or other associations, these ties feature little golfers, animals, vehicles, shields and swords, and so on.  Really only meant to be worn at a club that matches the theme, unless one is going for some sort of sarcastic irony.
  • Florals and Abstracts: Debonair and stylish, they are not nearly as rigid or formal as the other main patterns . Paisley is a perfect example of a floral that is attractive, daring, and understated and formal at the same time.
  • Neat: Usually small, tight patterns woven into the tie fabric, geometric or otherwise.  A good standard tie to wear when you’re tired of the solids.

When picking a tie for a suit or sport coat, the patterns and the colors are the most important part of the decision.  You want to make sure everything works together.  It doesn’t always have to be a perfect match, but as long as colors and patterns compliment each other, you should be good to go!

With solid suits: it’s almost a free-for-all.  You can bring in almost any tie pattern you’d like here.  You only need to consider what style of shirt to wear with it.  Plain suit?  Easy to pick a tie there, you can wear anything.  Striped?  You want to go with any patterned tie except striped, unless the width of the stripes on the tie is vastly different from the width of the stripes on the shirt.  With pinstriped suits, if you want a striped tie, the width of the stripes on the suit and the tie should never be the same.  Very narrow striped ties will work on a wide, pinstriped suit.  When in doubt, go with any other patterned tie, like neats, paisleys, polka dots, et cetera.  With plaid or window paned suits, you could always go bold with a plaid on plaid tie/suit combo, but this isn’t for everyone.  Stripes will always work with a plaid suit, as well as solids, solid textured ties, or small, neat patterns.

Don’t forget to work patterns with colors!

Widths

mens-skinny-tie1Standard width for ties is 3.5″ (roughly 9cm), and that’s always classic, and will never be out of style.  You can make a small or a big knot with it.  Standard width ties, no matter the type, should always have a dimple formed in the tie just below the knot.  We’re talking about a classic look here, worn with all types of suits, and all body builds.

The skinny tie is more of a fashion trend, and most popularly seen with very slim fitting suits, and very leanly built men.  That is not to say that these suits and men should only use skinny ties.  Rarely will you see a football player wearing a skinny tie.  With skinny knots, you will not get the big double Windsor knot, and most likely will not get a dimple in the tie.  It will just be rounded below the knot.

Colors

google_colors_tie_1-p151183049997960475env51_325The tie’s job is to tie (ha!) all parts of the outfit together.  If you want, though, you can make it more of a statement piece, as long as you don’t look like a refugee from a Tim Burton movie.

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What happens when you don’t take our advice.

There should be similar, if not the same, coloring of the suit in some part of the tie coloring.  This could be the whole tie, or only small hints. Once you get this, then you want to bring in colors of the shirt, and then any other colors that will compliment the outfit.  For example, a navy suit with a white shirt will look great with a tie that might have navy, blue & yellow coloring, or navy & lavender coloring.  If you want more of a bold fashion look, go with a color that compliments the suit color, but doesn’t have any of the suit coloring in it.  We at Joseph’s don’t favor a tie that matches the shirt, and has none of the suit coloring in it.

Length

long-tied-necktieAfter tying the knot, the tip of the tie should come to the middle of your belt buckle.  Guys 6’2″ and over might want to look into extra long ties.

Pocket Squares

Howtofoldpocketsquare-fOur advice on pocket squares is to match the shirt, OR bring in tons of complimentary colors that will create a distinctive look with the outfit.  Most men match their pocket square with their tie pattern.  We do not do this, and don’t recommend it!

Bowties

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Bowties are a great look with a suit, a sport coat, or a tuxedo.  Mostly seen worn with tuxes, lately, fashion trends call for bowties with everything.  All different shapes, sizes and patterns.  The same rules apply with bowties that apply with ties.

To wrap all of this information up, our founder and owner, Joey Wendt, had this to say on the subject: “Never underestimate the power that a tie or bowtie can have on an outfit.  Have some fun, go bold, and make what may be a conservative look stand out.  Your standard navy pinstripe suit, white shirt, and navy diagonal striped tie don’t get noticed.”

These rules are simply what have been the standards for some time, but that’s not to say that ties can’t be used as a fun expression of one’s personality and style.  Whether you go for a bold or a conservative style, have fun with your tie selection.  Ties are an intricate part of pulling an entire outfit together, and definitely do not go unnoticed if you do it right!

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 Wide World of Fabric

The wearing of clothing is unique to the human species, and is a feature of nearly every society on the planet. Exactly when the practice started has been lost to the mists of time, but much evidence suggests that it may have begun as far back as 100,000 to 500,000 years ago. What appear to be sewing needles have been found and dated to around 40,000 years ago. The earliest examples of these needles originate from the Solutrean culture, which existed in what is now France from 19,000 BC to 15,000 BC. Meanwhile, the earliest dyed flax fibers have been found in a prehistoric cave in what is today the Republic of Georgia, and date back to 36,000 BC. Anthropologists have conjectured that animal skins and vegetation were first used as coverings as a method of protection from cold or heat or the elements, especially as humans settled areas in climates alien to them. Another possibility is that the coverings may have been first used for other purposes, such as belief in magic, as a ornamental decoration, as part of cult rituals, or for additional prestige, and then was later found to be practical on its own accord.

For these reasons and much more, clothing and textiles have been important throughout human history and reflect the materials available to a civilization as well as the technologies that it has mastered.

Now, we are not going to provide a whole walkthrough on the history of fabrics! We all know textiles are as ancient as time. Instead, what we want to provide is a better understanding of what we have available in today’s market. And today, thanks to technology, we have evolved so much from the prehistoric methods that the diameter of the fiber (which will contribute to a finer yarn, and therefore provide a more luxurious comfort and pleasure for the wearer) is less than of the human hair!

How does this work? The fineness of a fiber is measured in micrometers (microns). 1 micron=one millionth of a meter. The average diameter of a high quality fiber is 12-24 microns for wool fabrics. The human hair is about 100 microns in diameter. Hmm, hello Super 230s!

But beware the quality of the cloth, or what we refer to as “Super 100s” up to “230s” does not necessarily mean that finer is better. You could have a good 15-micron wool or a bad 15-micron wool. Fineness is just one of the quality components. Length, strength, color and crimp are the others. With the first two particularly so. Length is critical: the longer the fiber the stronger the yarn that can be spun from it. Strength is also essential because the yarn must be twisted tightly to achieve a fine weave.

That said, here is a look at what our most used suit and casual wear fabrics are:

Wool

Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals and is the most widely used textile in the world. Often refered to as “the plywood” of fabric, you can make almost anything out of it. Because of the structure of its fibers, wool has a unique insulating quality and excellent elasticity (meaning that even if wrinkled and stretched, the fabric will recover its original shape). Its fibers’ thin outer membrane is paradoxically water-resistant while also being very absorbent. This means it absorbs moisture away from the body while preventing outside moisture from penetrating. Pure genius!

Wool Gabardine

A tightly woven fabric that is ribbed diagonally on one side and smooth on the other, with a slight sheen.

Wool Crepe

This is a “broken” twill, which means that its yarns are highly twisted to provide a slightly irregular texture.

Wool Silk

Lightweight and semi-sheer. This fabric is softer than wool, but warmer than silk. One of your summer suits’ best friends.

Cotton

Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread, and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to ancient times; fragments of cotton fabric have been found and dated to 5000 BC.

A brushed cotton suit provides a polished look for a hot day, just make sure, if worn separately, both parts of your cotton suit are washed together to keep color on both pieces to fade at the same rate.

Linen

Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather. Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world, dating back to 8000 BC.

Linen is a bast fiber. Flax fibers vary in length from about 25 to 150 cm (18 to 55 in), and average 12-16 microns in diameter. There are two varieties: shorter tow fibers used for coarser fabrics, and longer line fibers used for finer fabrics. Flax fibers can usually be identified by their “nodes,” which add to the flexibility and texture of the fabric.

Linen fabric feels cool to the touch. It is smooth, making the finished fabric lint-free, and gets softer the more it is washed. However, constant creasing in the same place in sharp folds will tend to break the linen threads. This wear can show up in collars, hems, and any area that is iron creased during laundering. Linen has poor elasticity, and does not spring back readily, explaining why it wrinkles so easily.

Seersucker

Seersucker is a thin, puckered, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or checkered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. The word came into English from the Hindustani languages (Urdu and Hindi), and originates from the Persian words “shir o shekar,” meaning “milk and sugar,” probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth texture of milk and the bumpy texture of sugar. Seersucker is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places. This feature causes the fabric to be mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating heat dissipation and air circulation. It also means that pressing is not necessary (play blissful music here)!

Bamboo

Because the fibers of bamboo are very short (less than 3mm long), they are impossible to transform into yarn in a natural process. The usual process by which textiles labeled as being made of bamboo are produced uses only the rayon that is being made out of the fibers with heavy employment of chemicals. To accomplish this, the fibers are broken down with chemicals and extruded through mechanical spinnerets. Retailers have sold both end products as “bamboo fabric” to cash in on bamboo’s current ecofriendly cachet. Be aware of the chemicals involved in this process if you are really going for the “green” effect, though.

Silk Bamboo

Created by spinning the pulp of new bamboo canes into threads, which are then blended with pure silk and woven into a luxurious fabric. It has the softness of cashmere, and is even more breathable than cotton. Perfect for luxurious sleepwear and casual apparel.

Once Upon a Time….

Atlantic City, January 1920…  The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibited the manufacturing, sale and consumption of alcohol and, in the process, gave rise to a new wave of organized crime led by “gentlemen” wearing luxurious, impeccably accessorized wardrobes…  The Roaring Twenties, improbably, a platform of men’s fashion today!

For those with a flair for fashion and not really amazed by most popular TV shows nowadays, following the life of a historical sartorialist is pure eye candy.  Add sex, gangsters, dandies, revelers, moonshine runners, gunplay and racketeering, and you have an exceptional show: “Boardwalk Empire.”

As you can tell by now, we are obsessed with clothing…  Custom clothing, to be exact.  And immediately after watching the first show, we knew Sir Thompson was one of us.  Praise is due to John Dunn, custom designer of the show’s suits, for transporting us back in time.  A time that experienced probably the most changes in everyday life, especially fashion, that, with help of technological development, facilitated the introduction of new fabrics and closures.  Natural fabrics like cotton and wool were the most predominant of the era, with silk still being highly desirable and still yet highly unattainable.  What was not unattainable was the impeccably tailored gangster look.  These gentlemen did not hold anything back (if you watch the show, you know what “anything” means) as far as fashion.  We were blown away by colors, patterns and accessories of the highly fashionable time.

We are sure the real life Enoch Johnson (whom “Nucky” Thompson is based on), knew one should never compromise their style, and that a very well-suited man can literally reach for the stars.  His TV proxy, Mr. Thompson, being the central character of the show, is a vivid example of what power means in terms of fashion…  The power suit, completely mastered!

We cannot fail to recognize the construction of the suit, which is extraordinary.  Leaving the long jacket on morning suits and tail coats behind and adapting a shorter, higher-waisted and smaller lapelled suit.  The pants were also more tailored, although not tapered, and also shortened, providing some socks picking and began to be cuffed at the bottom.  A sumptuous three-piece suit was a gentleman’s must.

Accessorizing was also a must, and the gentlemen of the ’20s were masters in this department.  Handkerchiefs, cufflinks, platinum watch chains, shirts with collar pins, top hats/homburg (obviously only for the upper class gents), two toned wingtips and pattern combinations that will leave many of us allured.

In short, the sartorial gentleman of the 1920s, which “Boardwalk Empire” almost worships, was a gentleman who was fearless in his dress, displaying some of the most fantastical combination of colors and style possible while laying the groundwork for all of the beautiful colors and fashions we wear today.