Style Q&A

WHERE SHOULD MY TIE END AT MY WAIST?
The bottom tip of the tie should end somewhere around the top edge to middle of your belt. Any lower looks odd, and often results in a tiny knot. There is a trend to wear ties uncommonly short, but we don’t recommend it. Classic style ends at the belt.

ARE BUTTON-DOWN SHIRT COLLARS APPROPRIATE WITH A SUIT?
You can wear a button-down shirt collar with a suit, yes. But be aware that a button-down is a less-formal look than a traditional pinpoint collar. The most formal (non-tuxedo) shirts are clean and simple. Pinpoint collars, no pockets, French front, with French cuffs. The more details and adornments, such as pockets, pleats, etc, the more casual. And it goes without saying that solids are more formal than a shirt with a pattern.

WHY DO I SEE GUYS WEARING SOME OF THEIR SUIT CUFFS UNBUTTONED?
A hallmark of a custom suit is its working cuffs. Off-the-rack suits are sold without knowing the length of the arm of the buyer, so manufacturers have to use show buttons. This allows the sleeve to be shortened or lengthened by the buyer. A custom or bespoke suit is made for its owner, with their arm length known upfront, allowing the tailor to cut functioning buttonholes, rendering the sleeve length unalterable. This is a long way of saying that a guy with a custom suit has the ability to show off the fact that his suit is special. Leaving a button or two unfastened sends a subtle signal to the world that their suit is custom, and therefore expensive. Traditionalists consider this to be ostentatious and unbecoming of a gentleman. We disagree. At B&R we always rock the unbuttoned look.

IS IT OKAY TO HANG MY SWEATERS?
We recommend folding your sweaters and any other knitwear. Hanging a knit can allow it to stretch and loose it’s tightness and form over time. It can also leave unsightly “points” on the edge of the shoulders from the weight of the sweater as it hangs on the hanger.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO OVER-ACCESSORIZE?
Absolutely. We see it all the time. Look at the #menswear images on Tumblr. In an effort to show some style (which we admire and applaud) some guys go too far. The old rule of thumb women have been using forever is: Get dressed, look in the mirror, and remove one accessory. This holds for guys, too. You have to learn to edit your look. We think 2 accessories is plenty. 3 can be okay if done tastefully. And 1 is always fine. Don’t forget, a flashy or large watch counts as an accessory. A small, simple watch may be so understated as to not visually count as an accessory. If you have a tie bar, pocket square, lapel pin, cufflinks, and a shiny watch you’ve gone too far. When accessorizing less is definitely more.

CAN I WEAR BROWN SHOES WITH A DARK CHARCOAL SUIT?
Yes, as long as you can easily tell that your suit is grey and not black. If it can be mistaken for black, we’d recommend playing it safe and pair black shoes with it.

IS IT OKAY TO HAVE A CUFF ON A FLAT-FRONT PANT?
First of all, there isn’t a strict rule on this one. It’s most common to see a cuff on a pant that has pleats, but it’s not required the other way around. A flat-front pant can be made with or without cuffs. Either is acceptable and we build a lot of trousers both ways. On our site you can choose pleats and cuffs independent of each other, so any combination is possible. As a custom clothier we see guys ordering every possible combo.

HOW MUCH SHIRT SHOULD BE VISIBLE BELOW THE SUIT SLEEVE CUFF?
Between one-quarter and one-half inch. Most importantly, show some cuff. When the suit hides the shirt completely, the sleeves are too long. Judge this when your arms are hanging naturally at your sides. When you move around

HOW TALL SHOULD MY SOCKS BE?
Either invisible (so short you cannot see them at all above the shoe, helping achieve the sockless look) or at a minimum, mid-calf so that your skin isn’t visible when you cross your legs.

WHEN IS A WATCH FACE TOO BIG TO WEAR WITH A SUIT?
Like most style advice, this is a personal choice. We like large watches, but a face that is more than 45 millimeters is getting quite large. If your look is on the casual-suit side it may be okay. If you’re attending a black tie event, switch to a simple, sleek, leather strapped timepiece.

ARE PLEATS OUT OF STYLE?
In short, yes. There are body-types and situations where it may be appropriate, but in general pleats are out of style. See a longer explanation here.

BLACK TIE VS. TUXEDO?
They are the same thing.

IS A SUIT TOO DRESSY FOR A JOB INTERVIEW?
No. If you are applying for any office or corporate job interview, you should wear a suit. Even if you end up being more dressed up than the interviewer, the impression you’ve made will be positive.

WHAT IS “WHITE TIE”?
It is dressier than “Black Tie.” White tie is the most formal evening dress code. It replaces the tux jacket with a black jacket with tails. The vest is white. The bow tie is white. And the shirt is a wing collar (instead of one with a standard turndown collar).

DO I HAVE TO WEAR THOSE BRACELETS I KEEP SEEING TO BE STYLISH?
Absolutely not. That is a trend; a fad. We think they are fun when worn correctly, but by the time you’re reading this they’ll probably be out of style. Wearing a wrist-full of bracelets certainly dresses any look down. If you’re the only guy doing it you’ll look like you’ve got your own sense of style. If every guy in the room has 5 bracelets on you look the opposite of original – which probably defeats the purpose.

MUST MY WATCH BAND MATCH MY BELT & SHOES?
Generally speaking, yes. If it’s brown leather, try to keep it a similar shade. An exact match is not required. Avoid mixing brown with black. And if all else fails, try a metal bracelet, which will match any color belt/shoe.

WHAT’S THE VERDICT ON WEARING CLEAR-LENSED GLASSES AS AN ACCESSORY, EVEN IF I DON’T REQUIRE THEM FOR MY VISION?
We think nice eyewear can be a great accessory, even if they don’t help you see better. There’s no shame in that. As with any over-accessorizing question, before you leave the house edit your look by removing one accessory. Some people make a unique and bold piece of eyewear their signature look.

CAN I WEAR A SWEATER WITH A SUIT?
Definitely. As long as there is enough room under the jacket to not look like you are going to burst at the seams. Not only will the layering keep you warm, but also if you shed the jacket at the office you will still look rather dressy. A v-neck sweater is our recommended choice. We prefer the look of a v-neck especially when worn with a necktie as a crew-neck often hides most of the tie.

HOW SHOULD I CLEAN A SPOT ON MY NECKTIE?
Very carefully. Blot it with water, first. If that isn’t strong enough try a gentle stain remover. If it’s greasy try letting it sit overnight with a little talc powder which should pull the grease up and off the fabric. If these solutions don’t work you may need to take it to a high-end dry cleaner. There are also mail-away services out there that focus on this very thing, which may make sense if it’s an expensive tie. Good luck.

WHAT ARE THOSE LITTLE BALLS OF FABRIC ON MY SWEATERS?
It’s called pilling, and it’s normal. It is caused by short, loose fibers from the fabric getting tangled together. While this is common, it’s still unattractive and can make the garment look old and worn. The best way to remove the pilling is to use a “sweater shaver.” They look similar to an electric rotary razor you’d use on your face, with small holes in the face that the balls can enter and get shaved off by the rotating blades inside. They are easy to use, safe, and available at places like Wal-Mart or Bed, Bath and Beyond.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TOPCOAT AND AN OVERCOAT?
The only difference is that a topcoat ends above the knee, while an overcoat ends below the knee. Regardless of style, fabric, single vs. double breasted it is only the length that dictates the name.

WHAT TYPE OF HANGERS SHOULD I USE FOR MY SUIT JACKETS?
A broad, rounded wooden hanger is ideal- the wider, the better. Avoid the use of wire hangers or straight plastic hangers as they can damage the shoulders over time. We would also recommend a thicker, curved hanger for your dress shirts as this will also keep the shoulders from having that pointed-hanger look. The only caution to using a larger suit hanger is that if the shoulders are much wider than your suit, the edges of the hanger can push on the sleeves creating a mark over time.

SHOULD I USE MY POCKETSQUARE LIKE A HANDKERCHIEF?
Only in an emergency. Think of it as a decorative accessory, not a functional tool.

WHAT SHOES SHOULD I WEAR WITH MY SUIT?
There are many rules and exceptions to this, but the best answer without going into all of that is a black, brown, or burgundy blucher or balmorals. This can include wing tips, cap-toes, and brogues and the color should be appropriate for the color of the suit. A good rule is brown with anything but black, burgundy with navy or charcoal, and black with charcoal or black.

WHAT KNOT IS BEST FOR MY TIE?
The kind that doesn’t make you look like a sports news anchor. Really, we always suggest the four-in-hand. Its classic and fits with nearly every shirt collar. Some guys don’t like the asymmetry of this particular knot, but we think it gives the tie character.

DO I HAVE TO DRY CLEAN MY SHIRTS?
Absolutely not… all of your shirts. 90% of shirts will be perfectly safe washed at home. The only exception would be those shirts with mother of pearl buttons. These buttons can be cracked or chipped very easily so the washing machine is not a good place for them. The rest of your shirts, wash in warm or cold water using a gentle detergent, on the gentlest cycle and the highest water setting. We also suggest hang drying, as the heat from a dryer can cause even the finest cotton fabric to break down.

WHAT COLOR SHOULD MY FIRST SUIT BE?
If you are like most guys, you haven’t really developed your personal style- especially as a grown up. So when you’re buying your first suit we suggest navy or charcoal grey. These are traditional suit colors and are the most versatile colors. Many guys think black, however black is a color that is reserved for formal occasions, almost exclusively worn in the evening, and is extremely difficult to coordinate with.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TIE BAR AND A TIE CLIP?
A tie bar is a flat piece of metal that is folded over tightly, but can be pulled apart just enough to go over the tie and your shirt placket. A Tie clip has a spring-loaded part on the back that can be opened to go over your tie and shirt placket. Tie bars are much better at, well, doing their job. Tie clips tend to fall off and slide down the tie.

ARE TIE TACKS OKAY?
NO! Ties made of luxurious wool, silk, or linen should never have a tack shoved through them, as it will almost certainly leave an irreparable hole in the middle of your tie.

IS IT BEST TO SHOW SKIN AT THE ANKLE WHEN IT COMES TO SUIT PANTS?
Showing some ankle (or sock) isn't for the timid.  It's trendy at the moment to wear your slacks on the short side.  Most of our clients still ask us to make pants that sit on their shoe, although without any significant bunching and crumpling at the bottom.  It's more daring to wear a pant that's short enough to show your sock or ankle, but it certainly isn't a requirement.  One thing to keep in mind is that the shorter the pant, the narrower the ankle opening should be.  The longer the pant, the wider it should be to properly spread over your shoe.  For those wanting their pants to float above their shoe, a measurement in the 13.5-15.5" range is common.  When a pant is built to be worn down on the shoe we usually see 16-18" openings.

 

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