Wardrobe Guide | Personal Style Guide | CustomShirt1

Caveat Emptor: Wardrobe Basics

Your Wardrobe and Personal Style Guide

Putting It All Together

by Jon Green

Editor's Note: Jon Green (better known as The Maestro ... as ordained by Departures Magazine in an article about the finest men's tailoring) is not just a friend but also our tailor. In contrast to most of the old-world tailoring school who tend to stay rooted to their benches, Jon has an insatiable appetite for knowing all about the upper echelons of fine clothing. He has spent countless hours both here and on the Continent checking the attributes ... and detriments ... of virtually every well-known "upscale" brand of clothing.

While still a high school student, Jon talked his way into an after-school job in the finest men's store in Texas. He moved rapidly up the ladder. Jon became supervisor of the store's entire tailoring department until he left to attend Juilliard. Jon's interest in clothing never waned. He has remained a strong force in tailoring and risen to the top of the minuscule group of New York tailoring firms largely regarded as among the finest in the world.

In sum, who else would we possibly call upon for their expertise when we decided to expand our Informative Article section beyond our in-house fields of bespoke shirtmaking and luxury furnishings? It is with pleasure that we present this second in a series of tailored clothing articles by The Maestro, Jon Green.

Jon Green, Bespoke Tailor

Dressing well can be fun at any level of interest, taste, experience, and budget. Learn the basics and experiment. As Charlie Parker, the great jazz saxophonist of the ‘40s and ‘50s, put it, “First I learn the notes ... and then I just wail!”

The generally accepted "rules" of dressing well can be improvised upon only once you understand them. Learn those rules, with thought and care selectively make your personal changes, and then proudly own them. The result will be your visual persona. As overarchingly important as this is, many men ignore it. Do so at your peril. As strongly as the cliche advises otherwise, judging books by their covers is wired into our DNA. It is how the human animal survives.

When building your wardrobe, keep the major items - suits, sports jackets, coats, and trousers - simple and classic. Add personal flourishes with ... in descending order of visual impact ... shirts, ties, socks, pocket squares, shoes, braces, eyeglasses, belts, watch, and any other furnishings or accessories which fit your style.


Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as “Someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Don't be a cynic. It takes time and education to develop price/value distinctions. For example, which has greater value? A $79 shirt which lasts 12 laundering cycles or a $500 shirt which you've worn 100 times? The less expensive shirt set you back $6.50 each time you wore it vs. the more expensive shirt just $5. In short, buy less ... but buy the best.


Shop, look, read, and listen. This will save you more money and provide you with more value than a lifetime of off-price merchandise that you do not need, which really does not work for you, and which hasn't the more refined, tasteful appearance of higher value clothing. And when you don't know ...

Most people, moreso men, believe they will appear foolish if they do not know and often refuse to ask for help. Nonsense! Asking is the most efficient way to get the information you need to make a decision. Not asking is foolish and expensive.

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A Very Well Fitted Bespoke Suit

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Hand-Padded Lapels indicate the Best Quality

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A Jon Green Collection of Sartorial Excellence Seminar


First and foremost, select an online or local shop that has the merchandise you like. Develop an ongoing communication relationship with a person there who will work with you and guide you. You're not trying to get adopted; you are trying to make intelligent purchases. A good salesperson will be someone you like and who enjoys developing you into a good client. This relationship will be invaluable to both of you. In most cases, you'll fare better with smaller shops. Your business means more to them than it does to the Amazons, Brooks Brothers, and big-box department stores of the world.

Over time, accumulating your clothing wardrobe will be one of your major ongoing expenditures. Treat it like the lifetime investment it is. A few musts for your list:

  • Brush woolen clothing with a boar-bristle brush. Plastic bristles will cut the fibers of your clothes.
  • A proper steaming and pressing is preferable to frequent dry cleaning. When dry cleaning is necessary, choose the best cleaner, one whose plant is on the premises and is more expensive.
  • Keep shoe trees in your good shoes to maintain their shape. Run-down heels are bad for your image (as in, “run down at the heels”), and bad for your ankles, knees, hips, back, and posture.
  • Polish shoes regularly with a moisturizing cream and occasionally with paste wax. Why “occasionally”? High polish paste wax clogs the pores of the leather.
  • Silicone sprayed on the shoes' welt, where the uppers are sewn to the soles, will help to prevent water damage if you have to be in rain or snow.
  • Having a thin rubber sole glued to the bottoms of your shoes when new will greatly reduce leather sole wear in wet and dry weather. When you need new soles, remove the old rubber and apply new. Purists will disagree here. But wet sidewalks will grind away leather soles. When replaced the welt will be destroyed and change the shoes shape and feel. Much easier to peel off a rubber sole and put on a new one.
  • Don't dry clean shirts. Shirts should be laundered. Dry cleaning will yellow whites over time.
  • Wash fine washables in Cold Water and dry them with No Heat.


Develop your own style instead of buying "designer fashion" or succumbing to the ever-changing taste of a department store buyer. Why? It's quite basic: A designer's continued profit completely depends upon convincing you to change styles with every new season. Similarly, a department store's buyer must sell-out each season's newest "fashion" before the next iteration arrives.

Classic style evolves slowly and carefully but functions as the stage on which your individuality plays out. Select a background that will not compete with you - the Headliner. There is great flexibility and many more options when your classic style template allows you to do more with less.

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Basic Blues are Second Only to Whites

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Even a Novice Can be Creativite with Braces

Classic Style hints:

  • Suits in solid navy or solid gray are great for any man at any time.
  • Blazers in solid navy or black and Sports Jackets in neat patterns worn with gray trousers will go anywhere.
  • Shirts in solid colors and one color small neat checks or stripes will go with all of the above, easily.
  • Neckwear can be colorful, boldly patterned, neat, solid, or subdued to make it fit the occasion. Many men do not always wear a tie with a suit – in that case be sure to add a pocket square for color, style, whimsy, and a softer texture.
  • Socks, for Counselors at Court or First-year hires at White-shoe firms, should be as dark or darker than your trousers.
  • Those in not-so-restrictive environs can work with lighter, brighter sock colors with patterns. Reason should prevail. Try to match or compliment neckwear and/or shirt.
  • Shoes can be black or darker browns. Already got that? Add cordovan and mid/light browns.
  • Belts are best if they match the color of your shoes.
  • Avoid dressing against your type. By type, I mean your style comfort zone. If your zone is that of a conservative dresser, sporting the style of a dandy is dressing against your type. Likewise, those with a dandy's flair will be out-of-sorts in a plain navy suit and white shirt.


The Style of the Suit

Single Breasted/Double Breasted: Single Breasted with either 2 or 3 buttons have been the classic standards for over a hundred years. Decide which looks best on you and go with it or include both in your wardrobe. You can’t make a mistake. Both are winners. Double Breasted is a more specialized cut. It is harder to find one off the rack which will fit you properly but a good tailor can make you one.
Side Vents, Center Vent, or No Vent: It’s your choice. All are acceptable today.

The Style of the Trousers

Pleats or Flat Fronts: Again, it’s your choice. Go for the comfort and the look you want. The clean look of a flat front, so popular today, may not be comfortable or may look skimpy on you. Pleats on a larger man may be more appropriate and more comfortable. Don’t forget to allow for all the things you carry in your pockets.
Belt loops: are necessary if you wear a belt.
Side Straps with Buckles: are more comfortable than belts and easier to adjust to variations in waist size. Suit trousers with an extended front waistband and side straps blend into the ensemble discretely. Belt buckles pull the eye to the waist.
Cuffs or Plain Bottoms: In the 19th century, all trousers were worn without cuffs because most dress for men was more formal than it is today. Plain bottoms should be used only when the garment is dressy, e.g., Full Dress or Dinner Jacket and Trousers, or a dressy, perhaps peaked lapel suit with a very narrow pant leg. Otherwise, go with cuffs. Large men look in better if their suit trousers and sport trousers are always cuffed. Most importantly, trouser cuffs add weight and help the leg drape better.

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Jon explains Trouser Construction to Andy Gilchrist, Founder of the AskAndyAboutClothes forum

The Style of the Shirt

Collar: A Wide Spread, Mid Spread, or Close Spread should be selected with the following considerations: Shape of face and height and thickness of neck. The Wide Spread is more of a statement. The Mid and Close Spreads are safe for anyone, anytime, and when worn unbuttoned without a tie and stay in place the best.
Cuffs: French, Button, or Single Link cuffs are the choices. French Cuffs require cuff links and are considered dressier than Button Cuffs. Single Link Cuffs (like French, but non-folding) are the most formal of all and the only acceptable cuffs for White Tie. Button Cuffs are standard for office wear where you will be doing a lot of writing and for all casual attire.

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Kabbaz touts the virtues of the Single Link cuff


Ties today are wide or narrow, thick or slim, and send the most personal signals about the wearer. A skinny suit and skinny tie looks inappropriate on a large man. If you are under 6’ and weigh less than 150 lbs you can probably pull it off. Most men should wear wider ties that are in proportion to their size and the width of the lapels on their jackets ... and the lapel width which should be compatible with proportions of the shirt collar ... and the lapel width which should be proportional with the width of your and your jacket’s shoulders ...etc. See how this works?

Knots for Neckwear

Today, there are three basic knots used by men: Four-in-hand, Windsor, and Half Windsor. The F-in-H knot will work with all collar styles. The W and ½W knots, because they create a larger knot, are better with wider spread collars. The Four-in-Hand knot, so called because it was adopted as the signature way for 19th century London carriage drivers skilled enough to handle four horses to tie their cravats, is my personal choice. It has been the preferred knot for men of discerning taste for decades. The F-in-H knot has an asymmetry so it looks less than perfect and more relaxed than either of the Windsor variants. After all, a tie is just a piece of silk wrapped around the neck and tied to hold it in place. There is not a perfect symmetry to the human face, so why put that asymmetry into sharp contrast with a symmetrical knot? Take the time to master tying a tie and a bow tie for this self-expression, according to Oscar Wilde, is “The first serious step in becoming a man.”

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Classic Neckties by RVR


Mixing patterns is an art form which can be cultivated, if you are interested. If the tie has a large pattern, wear it with a shirt with a smaller pattern, but a large enough pattern to balance the boldness of the tie. Solid jackets are easy to mix with patterns in shirts, ties, and socks. Patterned jackets mixed with patterned shirts and ties and pocket squares should be attempted only after plenty of practice.

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Bespoke Shoemaker Perry Ercolino explaining shoe construction


If you ask anyone whose ability to do their job depends on being able to “read” people which item of a man’s attire tells the most about the wearer, they will quickly respond, “the shoes.” Splurge on shoes because the payoff is definitely there. Comfort and support, as well as good looks, appropriateness, and value, are what you are paying for. Lace-ups are both comfortable and give better support than slip-ons. They also convey substance and authority, not as in discipline, but as in expertise and respect. Plain toes, cap toes, and wingtips are the classic styles. Slip-ons for casual wear give you a chance be relaxed during off hours and in business social settings.

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Braces can make a statement ... as can Shirts!


When wearing a jacket (suit or sports) wear over-the-calf socks. A man’s hairy leg showing between the top of an ankle length sock and the bottom of his trousers will attract more attention than his face or his message. Don’t go there. Fine socks in natural fibers of cotton or wool, sometimes mixed with nylon for strength, are the way to go. An expensive, great looking outfit will be ruined by cheap or inappropriate socks, which attract attention when they shouldn’t. The same goes for shoes.


Fewer men are wearing braces (suspenders) today, but they are still the best way to hold up your trousers and allow them to drape and look their best.


large buckles on belts call attention to your waistline. Keep the focus up, on your face, by selecting belts with small or thin buckles. Straps with discrete adjustable buckles allow you to adjust to the nth degree instead of the inch increments of a belt with holes and a tang buckle.

COLORS – Yours and what you wear

In determining which colors you should wear and which colors you should avoid, consider the following:

If your coloring is light – i.e., the lighter the hair, eyes, and skin, wear more mid and light tones. For example, blondes and light brunettes with light colored eyes and fair skin will look their best in mid shades of blue, gray, and tan. Avoid very dark colors when possible because they are too intense for your narrow range of contrast. Dark gray is a good choice for times when you need a power look. Otherwise, pick lighter shades of navy and mid tones of gray for clothing. Soft colors in shirts and ties and the decorative stripes or checks in Suits and Sports Jackets make those with light coloring glow.

If your coloring is dark – with dark eyes and black hair or dark brown you'll look your best in the darkest black, navy, and gray for serious clothing. Extremely light, cool shades of other colors, such as pearl gray, bright yellow, blue red, etc., can be worn for accent and for fun. Go for high contrast between pieces of your outfit and in the decorative colors of a jacket’s pattern. Icy shades in blue, pink, yellow, gray, and bright white, when worn with very dark colors in the suit or jacket, make those with dark coloring sparkle.

If your coloring is neither of the above – you can use parts of both. Experiment and trust your eye. Do not imitate others who have different coloring than yours. Create your own look.

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The Perfect White Suit - This One is Silk & Wool


Your body type has a major impact on appropriate styling and fit of tailored clothing. In broad strokes the three physiological body types, along with what have often been observed as personality characteristics, are:

Ectomorph is a human body characterized as lean and slightly muscular. Famous ectomorphs: Fred Astaire, Jimmy Stewart, Jeremy Irons, Keith Richards, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bruce Lee. Personality characteristics: retiring, tightly wound, studious, observant.

Endomorph is a human body characterized by relative prominence of the abdomen and other soft body parts such as Alfred Hitchcock, Winston Churchill, Sydney Greenstreet, George Lopez, Chris Christie. Personality characteristics: exaggerated expressiveness, adventurous, demanding.

Mesomorph is a human body characterized by powerful musculature and an athletic framework such as Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Halle Berry, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson. Personality characteristics: Confident, assured, easy going.

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A Beautiful Summer Linen

How Body Type Influences Dressing

Ectomorph – These men have great flexibility in being able to wear different styles. They can wear tailored clothing well. Think Neat: Their suits should be trim, well fitted and sophisticated, and worn with dressy ties and solid or small patterned shirts. Patterns of all kinds are easy to wear and there will be no bulges around the waist with this body type. Lucky guys!

Endomorph – This “round” body type must be carefully clothed or else these men can be made to look ridiculous. Think Balance: Jacket shoulder should be sloped and not strongly padded or extended. Flat front trousers are often the best fitting, held up with braces, because of a large waist in relation to the hips. Slim trouser legs finished with cuffs help keep a proper balance. Simple shirts and ties coordinate well with this reserved presentation.

Mesomorph – Muscular men dress to best advantage when they are not too dressy. Think Sporty: It is easy and disastrous to over-dress this body type. Avoid looking too serious by wearing patterns, textures, and colors which are consistent with the athleticism of an often engaging personality.

Having said all of the above, most men are a combination of all body types, but one will predominate. Authenticity in personal presentation is what we are after. Accept yourself and be yourself. You can’t hide.

Editor's Note: This is the second of a Caveat Emptor Guest Series by Jon Green, Bespoke Tailor. Future articles will include topics such as Properly Fitting Your Jacket, The Difference Between Bespoke and Made-to-Measure, and much More.

Like to Comment or Ask Jon a Question? Click Here.

Thank you for your time.

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Jon Green Gets Down :-)

And Explains Construction Techniques