Friday, January 15, 2010

Reader Questions

Should I mix stripes in the same outfit?

It is perfectly acceptable to mix patterns.  In a tailored wardrobe you may introduce pattern in the suit, shirt, tie or pocket square.  While it is possible (and quite challenging) to successfully display pattern in all four articles at once, I would recommend that style novices choose solids in at least two of the four.

When mixing patterns of the same design you should vary the size of the pattern.  As an example, compare the narrow stripes of Cary Grant's shirt with the wide block stripes of his tie.  Similarly, one could pair a window-pane suit and a tie with small checks.  On the other hand, to harmonize two contrasting patterns (i.e., a striped suit worn with a check dress shirt) the two patterns should be kept close in size.

You have used the term bespoke in several of your recent posts.  What does bespoke mean?

Bespoke is a British term, used historically in relation to tailored clothing, that means custom-made, or made to individual order.  The word derives from the verb bespeak that means to ask for in advance.  Bespoke clothing is traditionally cut from a unique pattern made from an individual's measurements and specifications.  In contrast, ready-to-wear or off-the-rack clothing is mass produced in standardized sizes.  Obviously bespoke clothing will fit an individual much better because it is made to his precise measurements.  Having clothing custom-made also provides the individual the opportunity to bespeak the fabrics or details that he may desire.  As you might imagine, this customization comes at a premium.

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