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Mens Dress Shirts And Dinner Suits

mens suits 

DRESS SHIRT AESTHETICS

While the dress shirt functions as a backdrop for necktie, braces, jacket, and pocket square, there are two options in furnishing this stage. The first and by far the more popularly practiced method employ the dress shirt as a neutral foundation. As such, the elements are either harmonized upon it or one is emphasized over the others, such as the bold print tie against a solid white shirt. In this presentation, the shirt acts purely in a supporting role.

The alternative approach casts the dress shirt as leading man at center stage. This style emanated from England and is reasonably easy to execute if the principles governing its execution are well understood. In socially conscious London, an upper-class man would signal his membership in a particular club, regiment, or school through his choice of tie. Since these neckties' designs were fairly standard and limited in number (there being, after all, only so many organizations the wearer could claim as his own), he tended to punctuate his somber and predictable business ensembles with more strongly patterned dress shirt, the very reason that London's Jermyn Street became so renowned for gentlemen's dress shirts. In this approach, the tie and pocket square act as subordinate players to the shirt. A well-endowed collar was essential to convey the shirt's leading role and the wearer's loftier station, which is why English-bred dress shirt tend to have more prominent collars than their European or American counterparts.

As either of these approaches can project considerable sophistication, one last issue remains in guiding a man toward an informed dress shirt purchase. This concerns the stylistic consistency of the shirt's parts. For example, regardless of how beautiful its fabric or fit, a double-breasted jacket with a center vent remains a half-breed, a mixed metaphor, a sartorial mutt. A garment's detailing must be in character with its fabric, or else, like a pinstriped suit with patch pockets or flap pockets on a tuxedo, the wearable's integrity and classiness is compromised

Here are some general guidelines specific to the styling of men's dress shirts:

The smoother and more lustrous the fabric, the dressier the shirt. On the scale of relative formality, blue broadcloth ranks above blue end-on-end broadcloth which, in turn, ranks above blue pinpoint oxford, which in finer and dressier than regular blue oxford. But royal or queen's oxford, which is made of a two-ply yarn that gives the oxford weave greater sheen and a finer texture, is comparable to end-on-end broadcloth in its formality. The more white that shows in the ground of a check or stripe, the dressier the shirting.

Different collar styles also connote varying degrees of dress-up. Spread collars are generally dressier than straight point collar and become even more so with each degree of openness. White contrast collars dress up any shirt no matter its pattern or color, and should only be worn with a French cuff in either self fabric or contrasting white. However, a straight point contrast collar in white is as much a sartorial oxymoron as button cuffs on a dress shirt. White collars look even less authentically classy in collar models less open than a semi-spread, because their progenitors could only accommodate a four-in-hand if there was enough width to the collar opening. Tab, pinned, or eyelet collars can also give a fabric a more decorous look. If you see a blue oxford shirt decorated with a white spread collar or a button-down collar loitering on a dressy white ground English striping, avoid these mongrel offerings, for their questionable propriety will do nothing for yours.

Most of the criteria for purchasing a classically styled dress shirt have little to do with price or even the quality of the fabric. If a relatively inexpensive shirt made with a mediocre fabric has a collar that is flattering to your face and affords you the right fit, it will render greater value to you than a more expensively made shirt with neither of these attributes. Value has to do with longevity of wear, as ultimately, the most expensive clothes a man can buy are those that rarely come out of the closet.

FORMAL WEAR

If a man's suit ranks as the most articulate garment in the language of cloths, them his formal wear should guarantee sartorial eloquence. Due to the ritual surrounding the way it is worn and what accompanies it, formal wear's original spirit has been relatively well preserved. The simple combination of richly textures black accented by fresh white contrasts bespeaks refinement. And so it is that this last vestige of upper-class attire continues to live on in the dinner jacket, with its comforting certainly that all men look good in it.

Acquiring high-pedigree dinner clothes represents one of the more difficult challenges facing today's male consumer. That is not because, as with neckwear or sportswear, its variety can overwhelm one; rather it is because truly classic dinner clothes are so different from his normal business attire that the average man is ill prepared to accept it easily. This not only applies to commercially produced tuxedos, but to the majority of expensively hand-tailored ones offered in fine specially stores as well. In some cases, straying from the archetype particular trimmings is expensive because of the requirement of more labor. Often, however, its lack of pedigree is a function of simple ignorance resulting from not having been sufficiently exposed to the genuine article.

In spite of male evening clothes being highly formulaic and regimented by their very nature, opportunities to observe this particular masculine attire being worn correctly today are surprisingly rare. Mens wear designers offer their alternative renditions for each year's televised awards ceremonies. Most of the innovations they concoct are motivated by the desire for individuality and comfort, and the resulting confection usually turns out to be less than classic. The fact is that many men go to considerable effort to look special in a tuxedo when to do so is simply a matter of having the right information.

I feel that before one attempts to improvise in the ceremonial world of men's evening attire, it's important to understand the original design's intention and aesthetic logic. Trying to improve upon its ordered predictability in an effort to achieve a more personal expression is to be encouraged. But to create something unique and stylish, one should base such decisions on practical knowledge, rather than personal opinion or ephemeral fashion.

Since the culmination of the dinner jacket's final format in the late 1930s, nothing has improved upon the genius of its line or the refined aesthetics of its component furnishings. This does not mean that to own a fine tuxedo, one must have it cut or even tailored like those from the tuxedo's heyday. It does mean that its modeling and detailing must respect the exquisite relationship of form and function that were worked out through the collaboration of English tailors and shirt makers with their fastidiously dressed customers of that stylish era. No other period could have produces such a success, because each step of the new form's evolution was being compared to and measured by the perfection of the outfit it was intended to replace, the grand daddy of male refinement, the evening tailcoat and white tie. Not only did the tuxedo's final form end up projecting the same level of stature and class as its starched progenitor, it did so while providing considerably more comfort.

I will introduce briefly the dinner jacket's unusual history and its relationship to the tailcoat-and-white-tie ensemble, so that we may apply its rationale to selecting proper dinner clothes today. As W.Fowler said in his 1902 book, Matter of Manners, "The man who knows what to avoid is already the owner of style."

THE HISTORY OF THE DINNER JACKET

Black Tie, Tuxedo

As the name suggests, the original dinner jacket was to be exactly that, a less formal dining ensemble for use exclusively in the privacy of one's home or club. The original design was created during the mid-nineteenth century for the English prince who later became Edward VII. He decides there should be a comfortable alternative to the constricting swallowtail evening coat and bone-hard white-tie getup worn at the dinner table. The consensus is that the very first model of this shortened jacket must have been a rolled collar (shawl) double-breasted lounge suit in black worsted with grosgrain facing. The same design in velvet was worn as a smoking jacket by gentlemen at home, its grosgrain facings lifted from that of the tailcoat's lapels. Victorian ladies did not smoke and insisted any husband who did should confine this activity to his den. The smoking jacket could then be left there, in situ, so as not to radiate the noxious fumes around the rest of the house.

Edward's dinner jacket was admired by the husband of an American houseguest visiting him at Sandringham, his country estate, and the man asked the prince if he could copy it. Edward consented and the American brought the innovation back to his millionaires' club in Tuxedo park, New York. In 1886, one Griswald Lorillard, sporting his version to the club's autumn ball, scandalized his hostess and hastened his departure, but forever established the jacket's place alongside the tailcoat-and-white-tie ensemble.

From the point in the late nineteenth century up through the early days of the 1920s known as the golden age of the British gentleman, black-tie attire continued as an option at home or in a men's club. However, for an evening in public, white-tie remained the dress of choice by polite society. The 1920s produced men wear's first unofficial designer, the new arbiter of fashion, David, the Prince of Wales, who was later crowned as Edward VIII but is better known by the title he took after his 1936 abdication, the Duke of Windsor. Clothes-conscious and bit of a maverick, he was determined to throw off the stuff formally of his father's generation of court-ruled attire and make clothes more comfortable for himself and his fellow aristocrats.

The prince often arrived for dinner in dinner coat and black tie when everyone else was decked out in full tails. Sometimes he would wear a lounge-coat-like double-breasted dinner jacket with silk facings on the lapels or he would take the pique dress vest from the tailcoat outfit and wear it with a single-breasted dinner jacket. Before giving up the throne, he abdicated the boiled-front evening shirt and its separate stiff wing collar, replacing them with a soft, pleated-front dinner shirt and its attached soft turndown collar. He devised a backless a waistcoat with lapels to wear in warmer climes. Although he was not the first to wear it, he helped popularize midnight blue for dinner clothes, which by artificial light looked richer than black. By the end of the 1930s, with his international coterie of friends adopting such elegant comfort in public, the dinner jacket, an amalgam of the tailcoat and lounge suit, began to replace the swallowtail dress coat and white tie.


We invite you to check out some of our other useful custom tailoring related information:

Why a Bespoke Tailor-Made Suit is the best you can buy

The discovery process for deciding whether to buy tailor-made suits as opposed to continuing to buy suits off-the-rack from retail stores is not as complex as you might think. What you should be aiming for is not a tailor-made suit but a custom-made suit which technically is a hand made men suit. Men and women frequently reach a point of frustration in trying to find what they want from specialty clothing stores or branded retail stores. Certain brand name suits are high quality articles but are designed within trendy fashion parameters for mass distribution. No matter how good they look on the rack, when you put one on, it invariably needs lots of alterations to reach the point where it meets the “it fits you” definition, a very loose term meaning it has been altered to the point where you can wear it.

The tradition of buying suits from retail stores dies hard, even though what you buy often goes out of style, doesn’t wear well, and is not a good value. You find yourself right back in the same position again and again, spending more than you should for a suit that doesn’t come close to being what you want. When you review what you have in your closet, most of your suits have not withstood the test of time. Some things may be acceptable by worn-out standards; other things you just can’t stand looking at and don’t want to wear.

The option to buy a tailor made tuxedo suit is not something that most people logically consider because they think they can’t afford to buy clothes that are custom-made, another word for tailor-made. Custom-made suits are uniquely designed and handsomely fitting. If you do some research, you will find that seeking the services of a Master Tailor that will design and assemble a custom-made suit for you is no more expensive than buying off-the-rack, mass merchandized suits in a retail store. The quality is far superior and the fit is perfect; after all a custom-made suit is made to your specifications and measurements. Custom–made suits stand the test of time and can be worn for a variety of occasions, including formal events, business meetings, social outings, and much more.

If you want to make the transition to buying custom-made suits, you must find a Master Tailor that will understand precisely what you want and operate within fashion and budget standards that you mutually agree on. A Master Tailor is a Custom Tailor aka, Bespoke Tailor. These are all terms that define the finest clothing design and assembly artisans in the world. A true Bespoke Tailor is a fashion design expert, a fabric choice specialist, an accessories master, and a skilled measurements artist.

What is a Bespoke Tailor?

When we talk about the best Master Tailors in the world, those that originated from Europe and Asia, we are referring to the art of bespoke tailoring. The word "bespoke" from the verb bespeak, refers to the art of specializing an order to make something unique and of high quality. In the fashion world bespoke is reserved for labeling individually patterned and crafted men's clothing. For women's clothes the designated term is Haute Couture. This is diametrically opposed to the concept of mass-manufactured and mass distributed clothing lines.

A Bespoke suit is designed and cut from a pattern uniquely conceived from an idea and a template unique to an individual client. The measurements originate from a client profile compiled by the Bespoke Tailor. A Bespoke Suit is not only determined to be an original piece, it has been further defined as more expensive and of significantly higher quality. Modern Bespoke Tailors, that truly attain to that designation, maintain their commitment to quality but through their expertise and experience they also create great value in the works they create compared to suits that are mass-produced.

My Custom Tailor is a unique, third generation manufacturer of custom-made suits and shirts that serves men and women all over the world. They are true artisans with expertise and experience evolving from the clothing design firms and manufacturing factories centered in such major fashion centers as Singapore, Bangkok, and Milan to name just a few. My Custom Tailor maintains the lost art of making custom-made, handmade clothes. Our Master Tailors are classic Bespoke Tailors and are among the most experienced and talented in the world. They adhere to proven design and assembly standards that differentiate their creativity and workmanship from anything available from any other source. My Custom Tailor has evolved with a unique commitment to travel to major cities all over the world to serve their clientele. This allows new clients to experience the unique process of having a Master Tailor or Bespoke Tailor relationship.

Made-to-Measure is not Bespoke

A bespoke suit is made to order without the use of a pre-existing pattern. Made-to-measure alters an existing, standard-sized pattern to fit the customer.  When a client orders a made-to-measure suit, he/she must often schedule multiple fittings to make sure the ongoing adjustments are on the right track. A bespoke pattern is an individually cut pattern which can be kept in a file for use in the future to make additional custom-made suits. Made-to-measure suit designs do incorporate hand-made work, but the work is coming off a standard, mass produced pattern not one unique to the client.

Not all made-to-measure companies apply the same amount of modification to the original pattern. This inconsistency results in made-to-measure suits that have minimal alterations, a process that can miss important elements of the client’s shape. A closure attention to detail and a willingness to make all the alterations necessary to justify the need for shoulder-padding, armhole size, waist accommodation, etc.  These are not subtle design parameters. When all the details of a client’s physique are calibrated as part of the final suit design, you get not only a perfect fit but one that is comfortable and flattering.

Some tailors that earn the right to be called Bespoke Tailors, or just assume the associated accreditation, don’t have the natural instincts or expertise that old-school bespoke tailors possess. So, when they attempt a bespoke design, they require multiple fittings over multiple visits, dramatically increasing the cost to complete the final design. A bad bespoke design will look worse and cost a lot more than an off-the-rack suit from a retail store. It is important to make sure a designated bespoke tailor has the true talent and expertise to claim that distinction.

True Bespoke Tailors, like those that have evolved within My Custom Tailor, work diligently to ensure a precise fit. This is the ultimate test of a bespoke suit whether you are a perfectly shaped man/woman or are someone that has body features that need neutralization or accentuation in attaining a bespoke look. Beyond the inherent skills possessed by a My Custom Tailor Master Tailors, they establish a strong personal dialog regarding the needs and wants of their clients.  They are able to conduct a comprehensive measurements profile and complete the custom-made design without having to engage multiple times with the client.  This ensures a custom-fit that is desired at a much lower price.

Fabrics are the foundation

Fabrics come in many forms and the finest fabrics cost more than ordinary fabrics you typically see in suits from a retail outlet. The quality and workability of a particular fabric contribute to the distinct look and feel of a high-quality bespoke suit or shirt. There is no need to avoid pricier, premium fabrics as they not only look and fit better, but they also last longer, often three times longer that less expensive fabrics. The ideal fabric benefit/price point for you is a detail you will negotiate with your My Custom Tailor Master Tailor.

Fabrics are graded and the best grades are above 100 or 110. Suits are available from grade 80 all the way up to 180. My Custom Tailor Master Tailors has access to a wide range of suit and shirt fabrics, some of which are the best available for suit and shirt making in the world. These fabric evaluation specialists will help you pick a grade that fits your budget and will guide you to understand the benefits associated with specific fabrics. A Master Tailor is agnostic to the type of fabric you choose. He will just want to make sure you get the best possible quality and fit available at your chosen price point.

Visit the My Custom Tailor Website and review the Travelling Master Taylor Roadshow schedule to see when something is scheduled for your city. Make an appointment and start a dialogue with a true Bespoke Tailor. Give him a detailed description of what you want and a budget range you want to stay within. The budget standard should be consistent with what you have been spending on suits you have bought from retail outlets.  Have your measurements taken and documented. Assuming the cost of a custom-made wardrobe is very close to your budget range; think about the advantages of having that same wardrobe made by a My Custom Tailor Bespoke Tailor:

    The clothes will fit perfectly because they are made to your exact specifications

    The fabrics will be the best you can buy for the type of clothes you have specified

    Accessories in the form of linings, buttons, pleats, collars, waist details, cuffs, zippers, etc., will be much better than what you will get from mass merchandized clothes

    The clothes will be designed and assembled by master tailors and cutters, all of which are true artisans with years of experience.

    The quality standards will be the best available

    A single source for all your wardrobe needs

    Your measurements are on file as part of your My Custom Tailor Profile so you can order more custom-made clothes online any time you want to

When you visit a My Custom Tailor USA Roadshow, you will be meeting directly with the person designing and assembling your garment. The person who does the design, guides the fabric cutting, and conducts the needlework workmanship will be working directly for you and working off the measurement profile he creates from measuring you in person.  He incorporates details he has confirmed with you that often include the number of jacket buttons, pocket style, vent options, zipper design, pant pleats, cuffs, interior lining, lapel width, button-stance, gorge height, etc.

Perhaps you own a suit that you consider to be the best quality and fit you have ever owned. Bring it with you to the roadshow event and show it to the tailor as an indication of what you want made or replicated in your next design. He will give you feedback on how he can make the same thing for what you paid for it while adding quality and wear features that will give you greater value. That is also a good way to let the tailor see the kind of fit you desire; again, he can give you what you have or suggest areas of improvement that will give you an even better fit.

Before you attend a roadshow event, visit the My Custom Tailor Website to review the various clothing collectibles that distinguish our portfolio. Also, take a look at the quality standards we adhere to in anything we do. My Custom Tailor is out there and available to help you understand all the advantages of buying custom-made clothing that offer the ultimate in quality and value.



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