Archive for the Shirts Category

Fresh for Fall…

Posted in Shirts, Shopping with tags , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by sartorialbutch

Yeah, I said it. Fall. I mean, there’s a few weeks of summer left, technically, but technically means nothing in Northern New England. So…Fall.

Ok – Yes, I know, it was 100 degrees here less than 2 weeks ago and it was in the upper 40’s last night and that is in fact grossly unfair but it is what it is, and we need to deal with it.

We’re mostly unpacked in our new home, which is nice, but it’s now time to do the big changeover from summer to winter clothes and for your friend SB it means taking out the sweaters and sweater vests, shaking them out, seeing what needs dry-cleaning or just needs to be hung up, and getting on with it.

In thinking about what is going to be “hot” for ME this winter, I’ve decided a few things. As much as I LOVE all things argyle, I’m starting to feel as if it’s been done a bit much for the past 2 or 3 seasons – so, I have been actively looking for differently patterned fabrics and cool solids for fall.

I LOVE this marled cotton cardi from J. Crew.

Additionally, I also really really like this (obviously more casual)  knit shawl pullover from Urban Outfitters.

I also came across this plaid print v-neck sweater at Banana Republic that I really like as well:

And finally, I leave you with this awesome military mock-neck from the Gap –

I really really love the possibilities that come with a sweater like this – casual with jeans, or more dressed up for work – either way this is the kind of sweater that jives perfectly with my personal style – and what I’m aiming towards for this season.

What kind of stuff are YOU liking for fall?

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One more piece if you stay a while

Posted in Pants, Shirts, Shopping with tags , , , on May 22, 2010 by sartorialbutch

A quick tale of a great shopping adventure I had this week.   I have a wedding to attend next weekend, and then my own in the fall, and I needed at least one, but likely two new suits.  I overheard my co-workers (male) talking about a buy one, get one for $100 suit sale that Men’s Warehouse was having.

Honestly, I was quite skeptical about a chain of stores like that. I don’t know why, I mean clearly I have no problem going into Macy’s and doing my thing there. And I thought it might have to do with them being a men’s only store, as in they only carry dress-wear for men – but there are a few indie local men’s only stores in my town that I love to frequent, even if I can’t always afford their goods.

So, with quite a bit of trepidation I went to Men’s Warehouse on Wednesday afternoon of last week.  My thoughts were that I would check them out, and if they treated me well, then, I’m a sucker for great service  and I’d do business there.  Really – it’s worth it to pay more for good service, even if you pay more than you know you might have elsewhere, I’m a true believer in this. Anyway,  I’d seen this AWESOME Calvin Klein linen suit online.

I knew they carried it, and it was exactly the color I wanted to have for my wedding, which is…uh, creeping up on me. So, I went. And I hung around kind of looking at stuff (I found my CK suit immediately and crossed it off the list as I didn’t like the linen weave as much as I thought I would) for about 5 minutes when this larger older man wearing a bow tie asked if I was being helped and what he could do for me.  I told him what I was looking for, what I thought my sizes were, and what I was looking to avoid – things like big shoulder pads, and really boxy suits.

He smiled, took me over to a section of the store, and off we went. The first suit he picked was a Calvin Klein all season suit – it was gray, with a “tick” to it – a weave that I knew I thought looked sharp. It wasn’t totally outrageous (I did try out a pretty funky blue with brown square suit but it was a little “over” for me) and it fit. So. Nice.  I mean, it was slightly tight around the belly, and a little bunchy at the back of the neck, but I liked it. But it was kind of above my price range (I’d wanted to spend $500 on two) but like I said, I’m ok paying more for good service, so we put it on the “maybe” list, and moved on.  Tried a few more suits – a DKNY one that was nice, a Jones NY one that was ok….but there was something about the CK one and I knew it was a keeper.

Additionally, I told my sales consultant (Joe) about my wedding, and the color I was looking for, and immediately he brought over this gorgeous Joseph and Feiss silk suit.

I knew it was what I wanted immediately.  It felt SO good to touch it. I also knew that he didn’t have my size, but it didn’t matter, he’d order it and I could buy it today – we’d alter it around the wedding in case my size changed between now and then.

We next went to try on the pants. The CK suit is a European cut, which is great for many female bodies, including mine, but they are cut a little small in the pants – but no problem, their tailor could handle it. Then he went and found me a pair of men’s shoes in my size so that the tailor could mark up the suit. A lovely woman came out and like it was no thang took 2 minutes, to chalk up the cuffs, the sides where she was going to adjust things a bit, and the back/neck where she was going to fix the bunching issue. AWESOME. Yes, the tailoring will cost a bit more, but, if you get a suit tailored at Men’s Warehouse they will alter it for free, no matter what the reason, whenever in the future.

So, I left about an hour after arriving, and bought two suits.  I spent about $115 more than I’d intended and I left a very very happy camper. I learned more about suits, knew more about what looked good on me, and had just a terrific experience. I can’t promise that my time there wasn’t exclusive to the New England fairly liberal city that I live in, but I certainly have no hesitation recommending the Men’s Warehouse to all of my butch brothers out there.

This is me in the new suit jacket (before alteration marks – I’ll get you some “after” shots in a few weeks) when we were trying stuff on. I have no idea why I look so angry, I was having a great time!

I know that Harrison got a suit a little while back – anyone else have some good suit buying experiences??

Because French cuffs are sexy….

Posted in Shirts with tags , on April 9, 2010 by sartorialbutch

And will lead us into a lovely post about cuff links next week:)  This is a French cuff shirt from the (ok, yeah, I know, but know what? The shirts fit really really  nice) Donald Trump collection. There’s always a little extra pep in the step when I’m wearing French cuffs – don’t know why, but they come along with this little bit of debonair attitude that really makes for an excellent outfit, day, and state of mind.

Do you do the French cuff? What are your favorite designers for this kind of shirt?

Cowboy Chic

Posted in Narcissism at its best, Shirts, ties on April 1, 2010 by sartorialbutch

Ok, I have to admit that I have a serious love for all shirts pearl buttoned. Usually, these are not dressy enough to be work wear – where I live, anyway, so I usually save them for nights out.  I have however figured out a few ways in which I can incorporate “me” items into my work wardrobe. I call this look cowboy chic – I’ve paired a brown/navy/light blue/white pearl button shirt with a solid tie and solid sweater (down below are khakis and my brown dress boots) and I think this look is one that works well for me. A little bit of whimsy with a whole lot of style.

What are some fashion items that you love, but don’t think are necessarily work wear appropriate? What outfits have you put together that combine the work you and the real you?  Let’s mix it up today on the SB!!!

And you thought he was cute before

Posted in Pants, Shirts, Shopping, Tips and Hints with tags , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by sartorialbutch

Harrison, writer of one of my fave new blogs, has a summer wedding to attend and has asked me a couple of questions about suits.  Odds are pretty good that you’ve got a spring/summer event, wedding, or holiday coming up and more formal attire will be expected of you. There’s NO reason for you to stress (or sweat) about this, there are LOTS of different options that will keep you both looking AND feeling cool.

First a note about suits. When I wrote about custom made shirts last year I talked about it being a dream. That they are expensive, but that they fit better than anything you could get off the rack. The same holds true of a well made suit. A bespoke tailor is one who will take your measurements and custom make a suit to fit you perfectly. A bespoke suit is STILL a dream for me, but if your pockets are lined more fully than mine well, then, this is probably a good option.

For the rest of us, suits don’t have to be as financially challenging, and starting your shopping NOW in the winter will likely save you a few bucks by shopping out of season.  Realistically, a really nice suit is going to cost you northwards of $150. How much more north than that is up to you, but you can save money by comparing stores/sizes (go get sized at a men’s store) online, and again, right now is GREAT sale time, even at higher end retailers.

Summer suits come in three major different fabric camps (with scores of blends) wool, linen, and cotton.  I’m going to talk a little bit about all three, but I want to hit on color first – avoid white. It’s tempting to go for the white suit, because a hot butch in a white suit is well, hot, but white gets DIRTY fast.  Also, it has a tendency to make you look either dated or like you should be selling ice cream or starring in a certain 70’s movie about dancing.  I will make the exception that if YOU are the one getting married? You can wear the white suit if you like, but damn, boy, you better make sure you look tight.

Wool suits specifically made for warmer months/climates are made from tropical wool. This is an easy breathing, lightweight wool that keeps the crisp lines and full look of a regular wool suit but without smothering you by being too heavy or warm.

I think that suits made of tropical wool can be really really sexy, and also, if the event is more formal (even black tie) than casual, a darker colored wool suit will really do you well.

Like most summer suits, tropical wool ones will wrinkle more easily than their worsted or tweed cousins, and the fact that the weather is warmer means more frequent dry-cleaning as well, but it won’t be tooooo expensive.

Linen is another option for summer suit attire. Linen is REALLY light. Really. It feels incredibly freeing to wear linen.  It is a natural fiber and wearing it can be good for the environment. Also, it doesn’t really have any allergic properties.  It’s a fairly durable fabric.

However light and comfy linen may be, it does come with a few downfalls. It wrinkles really easily. It can also be hard to clean, and if you’re one who sweats a LOT when it’s hot, especially from the armpits/back of the knees, this may not be the best choice for you, at all. It also tends to stain really easily as well.  Linen can tend to wear unevenly and stretch out in a not good way.

That said, some of the problems with linen can be addressed by a good dry-cleaning/starching, however this is time consuming and can be, over the long run, this type of fabric is going to cost you the most in cleaning.  Because of this, it also will not wear as well, or last as long as some of the other fabric options.  But…it can be a really good looking suit.

These two fabrics are great options – but my favorite is most definitely the cotton camp.  These suits are definitly not suited to black tie, but for most holiday and event wear will do you fine, and will be amongst the most durable and easy to care for summer weight suits you can buy.

Seersucker is usually made of cotton/poly/other blends. It’s got a ripppled/smooth two tone pattern and is perfect for holiday wear and day/outside weddings that aren’t black tie, though some seersucker can be worn (like the second example) for a more formal event.  Lightweight and easy to care for, but a look that not everyone can pull off. But if you can??? Awesome choice.

Twill is perhaps the MOST durable of fabric choice for a summer suit. Twill is a woven cotton fabric that has a diagonal weave to it. Most jeans and khaki’s are made of twill, but suits are as well. It is a little heavier weight than linen, but I think that twill has more pros than cons in this summer suit battle. Twill is terribly easy to care for, available in MANY colors – and hint – if it’s a casual summer event? You can get twill pants and a sportscoat of a different color and totally rock that kind of look. I LOVE the way khaki colored twill suit pants look with a blue sportscoat or blazer.

Poplin is a tightly woven, plaine weave fabric that can also be made from cotton into summer suits.  Poplin is very lightweight and extremly durable, and also very very easy to care for – in fact sometimes it can be water/stain resistant. It’s available in a variety of colors as well, and can definitely be put together for a more formal event or stay pretty causal.

Not that this is a battle of fabrics or anything, and you’ll try on and wear and make your own choice, but the SB favorite summer suit is definitely going to be twill or poplin. In fact, writing this post has totally made me re-think my outfit for a late summer/early fall event of my own….

Anyway, enough daydreaming. GOOD LUCK with your search for the perfect summer/warm weather suit. As usually, my favorite places to go for this kind of thing? Brooks Brothers and Macy’s. Let me know how you fare!

A nice stiff…..collar

Posted in Shirts, Shopping with tags , , , , , , on November 13, 2009 by sartorialbutch

Bringing things back in line sartorially, we’ll meander back to dress shirts. If custom made shirts are out of your reach, like they are mine, your best bet is going to the men’s department of a local clothing store.  The most important information with which to arm yourself with is your shirt size. The best way to find this is to get sized by a professional.   I have had great success in both Nordstrom and Macy’s across the country, but as my local mall only has a Macy’s, it’s where I head most often.

I find that it’s all about the confidence you exude; that’s what  will help make your shopping experience top notch. Yes, you’ll encounter some homophobic assholes who don’t want to help you, but for the most part, many of these employees work on commission,  so it’s in their best interest to treat you very very well.

Usually if you even stand in the department near the shirts, an employee will come over and help you out. When they ask if they can help, say “Yes, I’d like to be sized for a shirt please.” Now, it can get a little uncomfortable because well, they’re usually men, and you’re not, and they get a tape measure and get near to your body and if you REALLY hate this you can do it yourself at home BUT if they do it they will know which shirts they have that should fit you well. You can also sometimes just get away with a sleeve and collar check and move from there.

I don’t really have much going on in the chest department so I mostly gravitate towards fitted shirts that have a slim cut. I quite like the Alfani brand fitted dress shirt. For less expensive fitted shirts I also enjoy the selection at H&M, but you do get what you pay for and these are certainly not as high quality as the Alfani.

fitted

If you have a larger chest, then you’re going to require a more regular or fuller shirt – and trust me, the store employees will know which brands to steer you towards for the best fit. When I go the regular fit route I quite enjoy DKNY dress shirts, as well as the offerings at Banana Republic.

dkny

With a thinner waist and bigger chest, the challenge is finding something that fits up top but isn’t dress-like on the bottom;  if you’re thick at the beltline, the problem is finding something that doesn’t bunch in the arms and chest area to make it fit around your waist.  I encourage larger butches to tread cautiously when in big/tall sections of department stores as it can be hard to find something that fits that doesn’t go down to your knees. However, remember your friendly tailor? If you find a shirt that fits right but is too long, either in the body or the sleeve, they CAN take care of it for you.

It may take some time to figure it all out, but once you know your size and what works, you are pretty well-armed to find a shirt that fits right at almost any men’s store in which  you find yourself in.  It can also be helpful to bring a friend along with you who can help you judge what is working and what isn’t.

As for my favorite, favorite, favorite dress shirt maker? I LOVE Brooks Brothers dress shirts. They are slightly out of range for me for all-the-time wear but I love getting them as gifts, or for the happy days when I find them at my local Goodwill store.  I JUST yesterday found out that there is a brand new Brooks Brothers outlet store not terribly far from my house. When I walked by it I pretty much um…well…if I could pop a stiffy over clothes I would have.

The best thing about Brooks Brothers is that their boys shirts fit smaller butches really, really well. So yeah, a little spendy, but you’ll look awesome in them.

brooks

As with any growing collection of clothes, start slowly. Figure out what works best for you and begin with neutral colors that are going to mesh with the clothes you already have. A black, grey, and white dress shirt selection can take you a long way as far as versatility goes, and then work in some blues, browns, stripes, etc. If you care for them well, as outlined in the “hot and steamy” post, you should have these in your wardrobe for quite some time, so this doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive project to get started on.

What shirts fit you the best?

Sweet dreams are made of these

Posted in Shirts, Shopping with tags , , on November 10, 2009 by sartorialbutch

shirtings

As I mentioned in the previous post, I spent a portion of my weekend doing some shopping. I’ve had a fascination with custom made dress shirts ever since I saw this service offered in the men’s department at Nordstrom a few years back. I think that, barring the obvious expense, I’d probably have all of my shirts custom made. They would then always fit right at the collar, chest, and waist, and the arms would be the right length, which is not always achieved by the ready-to-wear shirts I currently buy.  And yes, it’s the expense that’s keeping me from it. One custom made shirt runs from about $200-$300 dollars and the end price generally depends on the fabric you choose.

fabrics

Shopping for a custom made shirt is really FUN. There are SO many choices to be made!!  I know that if I ever really get serious about buying one I think I’d like a gray fabric with black stripes, or, the other way round.  From the research we conducted the big thing is getting sized. Collar first, and working South from there. You get to pick how you’d like the cuffs sewn. If you’d like buttons, or French cuffs, or if you’d like a certain angle cut into the edge or trim of the cuff.  Next you get to choose how you would like the back of the shirt to be sewn,  in either one or two panels, and if you’d like one, two, or no pleats, which are sewn in where the back meets the yoke (shoulder piece) and adds fullness to the shirt.  The next choice is in what kind of collar you’d like, and how the points of the collar will fall at the front of the shirt.  That’s about it.

shirtlist

That’s about it unless you’d like to get even MORE personalized options added into your shirt, like a panel of fabric that hides the buttons, or if you’d like the cuff or pockets (if you choose to have a pocket) monogrammed. See? This is awesome!!

So, yeah. It’s expensive. And if you don’t often have the occasion to wear a dress shirt, one that is custom made is  probably financially out of reach for most of us. But for me?  I’m thinking that when I’m as fit as I’d like to be (and stay there for a while) I will reward myself with a custom shirt. For now though,  I’ll keep this on the coveting list and hopefully be moving on from there.