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!