Ply

When referring to "ply," we almost immediately think of toilet paper.  Not to say we shouldn't, as stacking wood or paper denotes a certain amount of plies that we associate with lumber and tissue.

However, a piece of yarn can also be called a ply.  That yarn is then loomed into fabric as we know it.  A single ply fabric made of resilient and high quality wool is a wonderful textile.  But of course that isn't the only way to mill fabric.

A 2-ply (or 3 or 4 etc.) is made by twisting two single ply yarns together to create one yarn.  This has a number of benefits, but the biggest advantage is that the yarns will perpetually want to untwist, which reduces and often eliminates wrinkling.  And because of the way the fabric is milled, the yarns will never actually untwist.  Another advantage is that while the fabric is heftier, the 2-ply construction is a more open weave.  This allows air to pass through the weave and creates a more breathable textile.

Pictured here is a 2-ply, or Fresco, fabric from Ariston.  We used an Olloclip magnifier at 21x to view the individual warps and wefts.  You can see multiple colors twisted into each yarn (cream/tan, grey/black, brown/caramel, royal/dusty blue) which only accents the depth of this particular fabric's color and pattern.

Next time you're in the store, please ask to see the fabric under the magnifier to get a better understanding of how your suit is made.

Patch Pockets

There are few better ways to make a jacket more sportive than adding patch pockets instead of flapped pockets.  Pockets were added to garments in the 1600s and were, of course, practical in nature.  From money to keys to jewelry, pockets were made to hold valuables and everyday items.  Flapped pockets were more secure for suit jackets and sport coats as the flap protected those items.  Patch pockets, however, added a cachet to the garment.  They weren't as secure and thus a bit more dangerous.  They said something about the wearer.  The easy access, the more frequent use, the shape...patch pockets are the sports car of pockets.  More efficient and more rakish.  Quicker and, frankly, better looking.  Sportive pockets for sport coats, we say. 

Blended Fabrics

Wool is a perfect fiber.  It has scales and is crimped, which are two key properties that allows woolen fibers to attach to one another.  Typically, finer wools like Merino have more crimping which allows for a smoother and stronger finish to the fabric.  The crimping also creates pockets in between the fibers which holds air and creates insulation.  Additionally, the fiber isn't hollow, but absorbs up to a third of its weight in water without appearing or feeling wet.  In short, it is the original performance textile.

Much like whisk(e)y, wool is it's own highlight reel.  However, many people would agree that Manhattan's and Old Fashioned's are great cocktails.  To that end, when wool is blended with other textiles magic can be made.

From cotton, silk and linen to mohair, acrylic and cashmere, wool can be blended with a wide variety of other yarns.  Our fabric mills carefully design and combine colors, weaves, techniques and textiles to create fabrics for each season.  The base, however, is almost always wool.

This spring/summer season has plenty of options.  There is linen galore but also browns and sky blue as well as plenty of checks and plaids.  There isn't a wrong way to go, but playing with different fabrics can be exciting to figure out what's best for your wardrobe this summer.

Jacquard

Born into a family of artisans, French weaver Joseph Marie Jacquard was a pioneer in the milling industry.  He wasn't, however, the first of his kind.  His predecessors Basile Bouchon, Jean-Baptiste Falcon & Jacques Vaucanson all advanced the mechanical loom and its processes.

In 1801, Mr. Jacquard previewed his invention of automatically weaving silk textiles into fancy fabric in Paris and within years the "jacquard loom" was sold across Europe.

While knitting only involves one piece of yard, the fabric below resembles that of a cable knit sweater.  The jacquard process involves a complicated system of cards with punched holes that control the warp to weft ratio, raising only certain warps at a time to warrant creating a repeating pattern.

As Napoleon Bonaparte was Emperor in 1805, he granted the patent to the city of Lyon and issued a pension to Jacquard.  It was a step forward in the production of fabrics but also helped pave the way for programming and the invention of computers.

Jacquard fabrics can be wonderful for curtains, dresses and ties.  The Vitale Barberis Canonico fabric below is true in navy color and quite breathable with the open weave.  It is best made as a casual and seasonal blazer.

A letter to grooms from a custom clothier Part 3

{Since being in this business 8 years, I venture to guess I've spoken with 500 grooms at one point or another.  This is a series highlighting those 500 conversations distilled to one.}

Courtney & Morgan • Photo by William West Studio

Courtney & Morgan • Photo by William West Studio

In Part 1 of our series, we referenced questioning your style choices based on your decision to wear a suit or tuxedo for your wedding day.  Here, we'll help you answer that basic but major decision.

In 1865, Henry Poole & Co. made a "celestial blue evening coat" for the future King Edward VII.  Poole clientele, including Pierre Lorillard, became familiar with this newly minted 'dinner jacket' and began a shift in evening wear at their club in Tuxedo Park, NY.  Ultimately, it was the facing of the jacket's lapel in silk that originally created the tuxedo as we know it.  After years of tinkering and tweaking did we end up with the traditional styling of a tuxedo that is as follows;

  • Silk (satin or grosgrain) facing on the lapel with the same silk covering the buttons and facing the outer seam of the trousers
  • A peaked lapel or shawl collar was preferred over a notched lapel
  • One button front closure
  • Jetted front pockets (on both the jacket & trousers)
  • Non-vented jacket - vents were added to jackets for the purpose of riding a horse and formal jackets were never worn whilst on horseback {this is the only tradition that has since fallen by the wayside as most jackets, tuxedos included, are vented nowadays}
  • No belt loops or cuffs/turn ups

If you're interested in wearing a traditional tuxedo, following those points should be of the utmost importance.  They highlight what constitutes "black tie" formalwear.  "White tie" often referred to the wearing of a black mess jacket with tails and a low-cut or scoop waistcoat in white that matched the white of the bow tie.  "Morning wear" is an inherently British style, worn at ceremonial functions during the day and consisting of a dove grey striped trouser paired with a tailed morning coat.

Over the past century liberties in formalwear have been taken.  More recently, two button notched lapel tuxedos with long ties show up on the backs of famous actors at the Academy Awards made by fashion houses that are high end yet household names.  Afterwards, more accessible fashion brands duplicate those looks and sell them in department stores, making it seem like a new standard.  This new era of "dinner wear" has created hybrid looks that are predicated on style and comfort and not etiquette and ritual.

The dinner jacket has propelled forward as a staple in the dinner wear category.  It differs from a tuxedo in that the jacket and trouser fabrics do not match.  Typically the trousers from a tuxedo are worn with a dinner jacket, which is made of a fancier fabric (typically a silk, wool/silk or wool/viscose blend).  Off white dinner jackets were some of the first to be popularized, notably on the likes of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, but hundreds of styles exist in todays world of weddings and fashion. 

Knowing what constitutes a tuxedo may help steer you towards wearing (or choosing not to wear) one.  Most men dream of looking like James Bond, Fred Astaire or Clark Gable at one point or another but it boils down to whether or not you'll look and feel your best at your wedding in a traditionally formal outfit. Regardless of your choice, you can rest assured your fiancé will be just as smitten.

A letter to grooms from a custom clothier Part 2

{Since being in this business 8 years, I venture to guess I've spoken with 500 grooms at one point or another.  This is a series highlighting those 500 conversations distilled to one.}

Neil & Shira • Photo by Ash Carr

Planning a wedding is stressful.  Inevitably, how you approach each step of the process can either add to or remove stress from the adventure.  Having fun helps.  Budgeting helps.  Planning the timeline helps.  There's nothing more stressful than attempting to hit a deadline that's too close for comfort.

Typically, men's custom clothing is made in 3-8 weeks, depending on the clothier.  Our garments take between 3.5-5 weeks.  This is quite different than the world of bridal dresses, where women have to order dresses 6, if not 9, months ahead of time.  So when should you place an order?  10 weeks out from the wedding is good in most cases.  

Problematically, many grooms like to reach a certain weight and then place an order.  If that's in the works, please make those changes to your weight sooner than later as waiting until the last minute makes everyone (bride, groom, tailor) lose sleep.  About 60% of grooms tell me they're going to lose weight.  Maybe 10% of them actually do it.  If you're going to tell your tailor you plan to lose weight, do it.  If not, don't bother saying anything.

Budget.  Weddings are expensive.  However, planning in advance helps.  If you know you'd like to wear a well made custom suit on your wedding day, versus the ill fitting rental, start saving money for it.  The difference between a $200 rental and our opening priced 2 piece suit at $825 is $625.  That means putting away only $52 a month over a 12 month engagement.

Highlight your budget with your clothier.  Let them know where you'd like to spend more money and where you'd like to stretch the budget.  You get to wear your outfit again after the wedding, so it can be advantageous to spend more for nicer fabrics and finishes.

Questions to ask your clothier •

  • How much will everything (clothing, up charges, alterations, accessories) cost?  With tax?
  • What additional services do you offer?
  • Can you ship the finished product(s)?
  • When can we expect everything to be finished?
  • What should I bring with me to the fitting?

Things to tell your clothier •

  • Date & location of the wedding
  • Setting & climate (indoors/outdoors)
  • Special requests from florist or photographer
  • If you're traveling before the wedding

Things to prepare ahead of time •

  • Decide whether you're wearing a blue suit, grey suit or black tuxedo (or something different).
  • Determine what aesthetic, in conjunction with the bride's dress style, your wedding will have.
  • Be prepared to discuss issues you have with clothing you've owned in the past.
  • Know what look you'd like your groomsmen and/or ushers to wear.
  • Feel free to bring a picture and/or swatch of the bride's dress and/or bridesmaid's dresses.

As this can be overwhelming, we recommend grooms come in for a consultation ahead of a fitting to ask questions and get the full run down of our program.  That way there aren't any surprises when it comes down to making decisions.

A letter to grooms from a custom clothier Part 1

{Since being in this business 8 years, I venture to guess I've spoken with 500 grooms at one point or another.  This is a series highlighting those 500 conversations distilled to one.}

Alex & Nina • Photo by Nicodem Creative

There are dozens of way to make you look more like the second best dressed person at your wedding.  Your fiancé gets top billing.  Women have magazines, television shows and a social media platform dedicated to what to wear on their big day.  Men get shit on.  We might have a couple pages in a popular publication in a given year showcasing trends, but that's it.

On your wedding day, you'll have to make a conscious decision on what to put on every part of your body.  "Failing to plan is planning to fail."  So think about what you've enjoyed wearing in the past or that you'd like to wear in the future and write it down.  Save pictures to an album on your phone or computer.  Take a note from the bride and create a Pinterest page.  Whatever you need to do to organize your outfit, do it.  I've heard far too many regret stories from grooms.

Ask yourself a series of questions, predicated on the suit/tuxedo you've already decided to wear.  I start from the floor and go up.  Are you wearing loafers on your wedding day?  Lace ups?  Sneakers?  Opera pumps?  Plain socks?  Funky, patterned ones?  Braces?  Belt?  Cummerbund?  White shirt?  Patterned shirt?  Vest?  Cufflinks?  Watch?  Long tie?  Bow tie?  Pocket square?  Boutonnière?

Are you wearing your glasses?  Shaving your beard?  Aiming for a certain hair style?

The answers to all of those questions comprise your look, and ultimately your style, on your wedding day.  They can compliment your bride (or groom), make you look more or less formal, and even surprise people emotionally.   A lot of friends and family will see you at your wedding and in pictures for a long time afterwards.  It makes sense to be prepared by understanding your personal tastes in relation to current fashion etiquette.

Looking like a million dollars is one thing.  Feeling like a million dollars is another.  For your wedding, it's best to look and feel like a million bucks simultaneously.  When you see a man who has both of those elements, he's best described as "handsome."  And who doesn't want to be handsome?

Holland & Sherry's Dragonfly Fabric

Holland & Sherry is a storied mill of England.  They produce some of the best fabrics on the planet and have an incredibly diverse offering of swatch books.

We recently received the new spring/summer bunches and wanted to highlight one book in particular, the Dragonfly Ultra Lightweight Super 160's Worsted Suiting with AquArrêt®.

We chose to highlight the obvious water resistant quality of the fabric in this picture, however the fabric is also crease resistant.  At 200 grams, it is incredibly light weight and due to the plain weave, also very breathable.

Keep in mind water resistant also means cocktail/wine/blood resistant.  There are innumerable qualities to the Dragonfly collection but the performance aspect is unbeatable for the summer months.

This navy blue narrow split matt check fabric makes a great jacket but an even better suit.  Now available to order in advance of the warmer months.

Milanese Buttonhole

Beginning this January, we will offer the always elegant Milanese buttonhole as a finish on the lapel of our jackets.

Using a thick silk gimp, the raised buttonhole is a sign of craftsmanship as it can only be made by hand.  It has a pliable but structured construction with a slightly glossy look.  In fact, it is traditionally referred to in Italian as "asola lucida" which translates to "glossy buttonhole."

Noted sartorial savant Jeffery Diduch wonderfully explains the details in this post on his blog Tutto Fatto a Mano.

Please note this feature is by request.

Click to expand.

Boulevardier

In the two years we've been open, one of the most frequent questions we're asked is "Where does BLVDier come from?"

A boulevardier is, by definition, a man about town.  It was someone who strolled the streets of Paris, as the first known use of the word was in France circa 1871 and described a worldly and socially conscious man.

However, many people were first introduced to the word by the cocktail of the same name.  It is best explained by Imbibe, but the history surrounding the word went even deeper.  T-Magazine highlights that Erskinne Gwynne, who was the nephew of a Vanderbilt (of railroad fame), started a magazine called The Boulevardier after moving to Paris.  Being a regular at Harry's Bar Paris, Harry not only included an advertisement for Mr. Gwynne's magazine in his 1927 recipe book Barflies and Cocktails, he included the recipe for Mr. Gwynne's favorite drink and dubbed it a "boulevardier."  The recipe doesn't actually fall within the alphabetized listings, but instead falls on page 80 as seen here on the left.  The magazine ad is also shown below.

Next time you're in our shop, ask for the barreled, ready made version from High West.  If you'd like to buy a bottle, go see our friends at Foxtrot on Lake Street.

To try the stirred cocktail in its best form, ask Josh at Maude's Liquor Bar on Randolph to make the one featured on their menu.

Also, as to not be too serious about our name, we found this comic from George Price for your enjoyment.

Hangers

Each and every jacket and suit from BLVDier comes with it's own sized hanger.  Proudly made in Italy in a small town outside Venice, our hangers are made of a wood composite that is incredibly durable.  Finished with brass accents to match our store's decor, the pant bar is flocked to prevent trousers from falling off the hanger.  While jackets and suits come with complimentary hangers, we also sell them separately.

Unstructured

Removing the canvas from an otherwise standard looking sport coat has many advantages.  At first, the coat becomes lighter; about 20% lighter in fact.  Additionally, the jacket takes on characteristics normally reserved for a cardigan.  It has drape and fluidity.  It is softer and cannot be cut quite as close to the body.  It can still be dressed up with a tie and pair of trousers, but ultimately looks better with jeans than the structured version of itself.

Pictured here is an Eremengildo Zegna wool and cashmere herringbone fabric.  The jacket has our rounded "tasca a pignata" pockets, 6mm AMF stitch and mother of pearl buttons.  Sport coats range from $595 - $1295.

Tie Collection

In the last few years, ties have fallen lower on the ladder of sartorial priority.  Selection at stores became messy, with exploded patterns, cheap silks and poor construction as the standard.  Certain brands started charging exuberant prices while others shaved away costs only to create misguided products.  There was no middle ground.

To combat the negative trends in the market, we wanted to create not only individual ties that were special but a unique line that could grow.  It started with finding the right manufacturer who could make up ties by hand in a myriad of finishes.  While it took time, we found a producer in Salerno, Italy that had the best combination of options, quality and price points; just like our suits.

We began carrying solid color Grenadine ties earlier this year with a larger plan in mind.  Grenadine fabrics are incredibly intricate and typically solid, so it made sense to start there.  Now, with our fabric collection expanded five-fold, we've laid out a textural grouping of the best ties we could create.

The Wool knit is extremely soft to the touch and is the staple of a wintry wardrobe.  We wanted rich colors that were earthy to ground the rest of the collection.

The Challis is a wool/silk blend that almost feels stretchy.  It's heftier than other challis fabrics and the artichoke color is by far the best of the entire collection.  We decided to self tip the back to keep the cost down.

The Tussah ties are muted in tone but shiny.  They're the dressiest of the group and create the best knots.  Both colors will go with any suit in your closet.

Lastly, the Shantung is the nicest tie we could carry.  It's dupioni texture is inimitable and exudes class.  We had these made with a hand rolled, untipped edge so the fabric can speak for itself.  It is our most expensive tie because it looks and feels like it.

The collection is limited and each tie comes in a reusable, branded canvas bag.