A Case for Seersucker

I know that some of you are just starting to reach a tentative armistice with snow and ice, but in the Deep South, spring has done sprung. The dogwoods are in bloom. Everything is in bloom, really; every car from Dallas to Charleston has enough pollen stuck to it to keep the Claritin folks in business for the year. Temperatures are bottoming out in the 70s, and on Easter Sunday, color came back to men’s wardrobes.

After months of cold, dark, and wet, it’s time to enjoy warm, bright, and sunny. And we will, with barbecues, weddings, garden parties, golf tournaments, and festivals for every historical or edible concept in the American vocabulary. For the man who wants to look his best, show some daring, and still be impeccably correct, the go-to garment for all of those warm-weather events is a seersucker suit.

My seersucker suit. (excuse the blur)

Some poor souls believe that seersucker has lapsed into costumedom; that its wear is an affectation. They’re wrong. It’s a uniform, and a damn fine looking one, too. A seersucker suit marks its wearer as a member of the club of men who care about their appearance, who care about traditions, who care about giving proper dignity to an event, and who live in a real world of real weather.

It’s also part of almost every major menswear company’s spring or summer lines. A search of the Brooks Brothers website shows 90+ results for the word. That’s a big investment by a titan of American menswear. Brooks Brothers may have had some occasional missteps over the years, but this is one marker they throw down every single summer. They’re joined by trad standbys like J.Press, innovative companies like Bonobos, and bleeding edgers like Maison Kitsune. Seersucker’s neither a fad nor an anachronism; it’s a classic.

For those of us down South, it’s time right now for seersucker suits. Some think it’s too early; that Memorial Day is a hard and fast rule. They’re wrong too, of course, or at least not blessed with the Southern sun. If you live where you can already wear shorts outside for more than a workout, Memorial Day is far too late to start. Nobody voluntarily wears even a hot weather suit in actual hot weather outside; it’s hard to look elegant when your suit is soaked to your body with sweat. The best time of the year to enjoy any garment is when it actually matches the weather, and that window just opened on Easter for the seersucker suit. For those of you in cooler climes, now is the time to shop and talk to your tailor. Clambakes and regattas are just around the corner for you, too.

Aside from the obvious benefit of temperature control, one big plus of the seersucker suit is its cost. It sometimes takes a lot to stand out in a navy wool suit, but there’s not all that much competition in seersucker. You get “showing up” points long before anyone wonders what the label says, so find something that fits you well at a reasonable price. As for tailoring, I offer two small suggestions: cuffs will help the trousers drape better, but there’s no need for a break.

You’ll want to pair it with the right supporting cast, of course. You can’t go wrong with a plain white shirt and white or dirty bucks. In fact, you would be very right if you dressed that way. But patterned shirts that complement the color of the suit work well as long as the pattern is much larger than that of the suit. A ribbon or surcingle belt in bright colors is de rigeur, but braces are ideal for airflow if your suit has buttons for them.  No other suit is as classically associated with the bowtie, so if you’ve previously had cold feet about the bow, pair it with seersucker; it’s practically required. As with the bowtie, if you’re interested in wearing a hat but don’t know how to start, a seersucker suit screams for a Panama straw to keep the summer sun off your head. Seersucker’s a gateway drug to the classics.

I think it’s because they know that a man wearing seersucker is dressed for pleasure that people respond so well. Seersucker doesn’t go with bad news, hard work, or funerals, and nobody wears it because they have to. Its wearer’s keeping alive traditions and making an effort to look better than average. The result is unusual; you’ll get some smiles, some compliments, and some questions. Older ladies will nod approvingly, and younger ones will pay attention. Where you go from there is up to you.

– Andrew is a born, bred, and confirmed Southerner trying day by day to live up to the gentlemanly ideal. He blogs about dressing, eating, drinking, and living well the Southern way at completesoutherngentleman.com.

From the Beginning, From a Beginner

This is a guest post by Trent Beven


It’s a new year with new resolutions (or a revision of last year’s) and there are probably a few people out there who have sworn to never go to the supermarket in track pants again and hopefully a few who’s aims are even higher. There are a lot of good articles on this and other websites about how to build a good wardrobe so I’m not going to touch on that. Here are some practical tips for those just starting out to compliment general advice on wardrobe building you read elsewhere.

Don’t rush yourself
I decided I’d like to wear neck ties without being obliged to do so. They fit in well without looking “too formal” at an art opening or taking your girl out for cocktails. But now, when I look at the first few ties I bought all I can think is “business dad”. Not the style I’m aiming for. So don’t let your eagerness for a new style of dress get the better of you. You are only starting to discover how wide you want your ties to be, in what fabrics and in what patterns (not to mention the scale of the patterns). Inform yourself with a variety of articles on the subject and then look at some of the blogs dedicated to photographing style to see how people make each item work for them (no article of clothing is an island).

Don’t overdo it

Please make sure you heed this advice. Dressing well doesn’t mean dressing formal or stuffy. I hate to think of the times when I was extremely overdressed instead of looking smart and relaxed with dark blue jeans and a well fitting gingham shirt as would have been appropriate.

Spend a bit extra

When you can and when you’ve refined your taste a little, it’s great to spend a bit extra on something nicer than usual.
I’d recommend a good pair of shoes for two reasons. Firstly because the more you spend the longer they last (which is great while your building a wardrobe) and secondly because most men do poorly here, so getting it right will make you really stand out.
A tie, be it neck or bow, wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Sometimes you have to pay a bit extra for that extra panache. Provided that you don’t get yourself into scuffles your tie shouldn’t come across much harm so it will last for decades.

Quick tips

• Spend a little on getting your jeans hemmed, not just your suit pants.
• Buy a variety of belts, maybe start with two which you can wear casually and one more formal.
• Don’t be afraid of wearing something you wouldn’t think of a few months ago; that’s the point of change.
• Don’t underestimate the little details.
• You should learn the rules but not always follow them. I wear tan semi-brogue shoes with light grey suit pants and a blue and white boxcloth belt. By basic rules this combo shouldn’t work, but it really does

This is all something you should enjoy, so don’t take it to seriously, get excited and enjoy yourself.

Trent Beven is a fine arts graduate in rural Australia with weakness for fine hats, blazers and american folk songs.

Bowties & Bogans

This is a guest post by Trent Beven

The other evening my girlfriend and I were walking down the main street of our town to an art opening at my favourite gallery; I was a bit excited about this but more excited because I was wearing my new bow tie from Le Noeud Papillion.


While we were stopped at traffic lights I noticed a car waiting there also. What drove my attention to the car was that the girl inside looked right at me, laughed, then said something to her boyfriend so he could get in on the joke. With the window down it was pretty easy to see the two of them grinning, glaring and laughing directly at me until the lights changed.

I’m new to this sort of style (it’s only the 3rd time I’d worn a bow tie) and I have to admit it got to me a little.

Had I been either more brave or petty I might of pointed out that his singlet is only meant to be an undergarment, his hat was crooked and, with a bachelor in fine arts, I can say his tattoo looked standard issue and thoughtless.

Most others in this small rural town when seeing me in a bow tie that night just looked at me like a little oddly, and I guess I was the odd one out so fair enough.

This little experience has taught me at least two things.

Firstly, wearing a bow tie in this world requires a confidence of a belly dancer (they look pretty confident to me). If you show any sign of individuality in your appearance you’ll be judged and ridiculed. You can pull it off only if you tell the world: “I’m confident in myself. No matter how ridicules you think I look I disagree and I’m not fussed with your opinion”. I was a little funny about it at first, but I look forward to wearing a bow tie at our local jazz and wine festival. I like bow ties, I look good in the bow and my girlfriend thinks so too. All the good reasons to continue wearing them.

Secondly, you should never point and laugh at people from your car when stopped at traffic lights.

Trent Beven is a fine arts graduate in rural Australia with weakness for fine hats, blazers and american folk songs.

Dressing Like James Bond

This article is guest post by Matt Spaiser of The Suits of James Bond.

Every man admires James Bond’s clothing, but have you wondered what makes the secret agent’s clothes so special? It’s mostly about the suits, and a well-fitted suit makes all the difference. But what about the style? Bond’s suits have always been on the more traditional side, often with 3-piece suits for the office, though Bond always found some way to bring elements of current fashion into his clothes. This article will step through the past five decades of James Bond’s style, showing how you too can dress like Bond.

Sean Connery’s suits in the 1960s were classic English Savile Row style. The first thing that comes to mind when we think about 1960s suits are the narrow lapels, but Connery’s were far from the extreme. His suits had softly padded shoulders, a full chest but suppressed waist, and trousers with English double forward pleats and tabs to cinch the waist. Whilst the pocket style and rear vents differed from suit to suit, this cut was always the same. Connery wore mostly suits in shades of blue and grey, with a few dark brown, in solids, herringbones, simple pinstripes and glen plaids. Fabrics ranged from lightweight tropical worsteds to heavy winter flannels, with the occasional dupioni silk and mohair. It all sounds very traditional, but the modern touch to Connery’s suits came with the two-button front. By the 1960s in the United States, two button suits had become the norm, but to the English anything other than a 3-button suit was fashion forward.


When former model George Lazenby took over the roll of James Bond in 1969, he brought a more fashionable style to Bond. His rakish suit jackets were more fitted with a cleaner chest and shorter in length than Connery’s, and he wore flat front trousers instead of pleated. Lazenby wore both 2-button and 3-button suits, with double vents and some with hacking pockets, two now quintessentially English elements. This overall style has seen a resurgence in popularity over the last few years, though today’s style is missing the strong English flair present in George Lazenby’s suits.


Sean Connery returned to Bond and brought the character into the 1970s with Diamonds Are Forever, updating his old style with wider lapels and flat front, wide leg trousers. His new suits were double-vented and many had hacking pockets. When Roger Moore took over Bond his suits were the same in overall style, and as the 70s progressed, his lapels, pocket flaps and trousers widened. These are what the average person notices about 1970s suits, but if you look past that you will find that Roger Moore always wears perfectly tailored suit. No matter how you style a suit, a proper fit is always most important. Whilst some of Moore’s suits incorporated the traditional colour palate found in Connery’s suits, he also wore many more suits in earth tones, plus a large number of silk suits as well. In addition to his 2-button suits, Roger Moore occasionally wore double-breasted suits, mostly in the classic 6-button style with 2 rows to button.


Roger Moore entered the 1980s with a new tailor and more conservative style. The lapels and trousers narrowed and the hacking pockets were gone. His suits were now in more traditional English fabrics with blue and grey chalkstripes for London and tan and brown gabardine for warmer climates. His one consolation to the 1980s was a lower button stance, which happens to suit his figure very well. Timothy Dalton’s clothing is hardly worth mentioning. His suits in The Living Daylights hark back to Connery’s, but have a more relaxed fit. Dalton’s suits in Licence to Kill introduced Italian style to the Bond series, something Pierce Brosnan would continue with in the 1990s.


Pierce Brosnan was known for his Brioni suits, updated for the 1990s with 3-button fronts and reverse-pleat trousers. Whilst many of his suits were anglicized with hacking pockets and double vents, they did not escape Brioni’s strong Roman silhouette. The Brioni silhouette is defined by it’s square shoulders and clean chest, the ultimate power suit. Even though Brosnan’s suits weren’t made in England, they were made from in classic blue and grey solid, pinstripe, windowpane and birdseye English fabrics.


Daniel Craig started off in Casino Royale with 2-button and 3-button Brioni suits, but switched to more fashionable Tom Ford suits in Quantum of Solace. Tom Ford is the most fashionable suit brand Bond has ever worn, but its English-influenced style is rather appropriate for Bond. The Tom Ford suits are cut with strong shoulders, a clean chest and a 3-button front that rolls to the middle button, essentially giving the jackets a 2-button silhouette. The jackets all have double vents and ticket pockets. Though Tom Ford suits have a striking silhouette, they are firmly rooted in classic style. The trousers have a flat front with a lower rise, Daniel Craig’s only concession to current fashions as far as his suits are concerned.

Equally important to the suit are the shirt, tie and shoes.

Most of Bond’s shirts throughout the series are cotton poplin in solid white, light blue or cream. These three shirts go with everything and are all the well-dressed man needs. Connery and Moore were known for their fancy 2-button turnback cuffs (also known as cocktail cuffs, a popular 60s style that rose to prominence from Dr. No), but Bond has worn barrel cuffs and french cuffs throughout the series as well. The key element to the English shirts that Bond always wears is a large spread collar, and English shirts never have a breast pocket. Shirts should be somewhat fitted but never tight.

Connery started the series with only one tie, a navy blue grenadine. Grenadine ties look similar to knit ties (the ones that have square bottoms)  but are not related in the least. Grenadine silk is woven, not knit, and the ties are constructed likes any other normal tie. Later, Connery expanded to wearing black, navy and brown knit ties and black and brown grenadine ties. Connery’s Bond showed how it’s possible to dress with with such a limited tie collection, which is often the case for travelling businessmen. George Lazenby introduced the red knit tie to Bond, and it wasn’t until Roger Moore became Bond that Bond wore non-solid ties. Roger Moore wore striped and patterned ties, but he still wore many solid ties like his predecessors. Dalton wore mostly solid ties as well. Perhaps the best argument for solid ties is that they never go out of style. Avoid loud, busy ties like many worn by Pierce Brosnan, as those all look dated now. Daniel Craig opts for simple woven macclesfield ties, understated and formal.

Aside from suits, Bond occasionally wears sports coats, though we haven’t seen those in a number of years. We have seen country tweed and cotton safari jackets, but Bond’s favourite is the navy blazer, coming from a naval background himself. Bond’s navy blazers are either single-breasted with two buttons or double-breasted with six buttons. And of course the buttons are metal, often in silver instead of brass. Navy blazers always have double vents. Bond wears his blazers with or without a tie, and with grey, beige or white trousers.


Bond’s footwear is always professional, just as everything else is. With a suit, the shoes are always black leather with a leather sole. Throughout the series Bond has worn all the classics, including cap-toe oxfords, 2-eyelet derbies, plain-toe monk shoes, elastic-sided ankle boots and horse-bit slip-ons. The last two are harder to pull off in a business setting. For more casual suits and sports coats, Bond also has worn essentials such as brown suede chukka boots and brown wing-tip full brogues.

Bond sticks to the classics. He ties four-in-hand knot, not a windsor. He doesn’t wear a solid black suit unless it’s to a funeral. And he doesn’t wear rubber-soled shoes with a suit. He sets an excellent example for how to look professional and command respect, in or out of the office.

Matt Spaiser is New York based graphic designer. He blogs at bondclothes.blogspot.com.

From the Dowdy to the Dandy

For years men have been strolling around in their worn jeans, printed shirts and velcro trainers, relieved that nothing will rival good, comfy clothes, until now. The return of a true daring men’s style that is flamboyant and sophisticated at the same time. Yes, the dandy is back.

To achieve this particular look, the most important thing you will need is confidence and a bit of creativity. A real dandy will be able to walk into a room and turn the heads of both the men and women, looking the epitome of style and sophistication.

The definition of a dandy is a man excessively concerned with his clothes and appearance, who affects true elegance. The original nineteenth-century dandies perfected this. They were not afraid to mix things up; wearing frilly shirts with silk jackets, patterned cravats and high topped hats.

Ok, this may all sound a bit (ok a lot) camp right now and you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, ‘Er… frilly shirts? We’re men?’, but stay with me, lads.

The modern day take on this style includes some of the original elements, but these are tactfully played down. Most common components of the style include, slim fit trousers (usually black), fitted shirts, a tailored waist jacket or coat with interesting detail on the collar or another area, and most definitely some neck accessory. It is very typical for a modern day dandy to team a shirt and trousers with a cravat or tie. Yes it is that simple!

Contrasting colours will add a rocky edge and make the outfit more striking, or stick to simple block colours to look effortlessly smart. (NB, wearing a florescent pink t-shirt under a black blazer may seem like you’re being daring, but this will only make you look like you wish you were in Green Day. Or you just robbed H&M in a hurry…)

The next most important thing to consider when aiming for serious dandy status is the hair. A dandy will have mid-length hair, not overly styled, suggesting that it has only taken little time to look so slick, and sometimes top it off with a smart black hat.

Becoming a modern day dandy is easy if you enjoy putting clothes together and creating a look for yourself. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Plenty of high street retailers are preparing for the rise of the dandy and stocking all that you will be looking for.

I don’t suggest that you go to your local pub in a dinner suit and polished black shoes, but cut down on the excessive jeans, t-shirt and trainers combinations. Be imaginative, and you might actually like it!

Article contributed by guest writer Nicola Jackson