Travel Series, Part 2: You Went There on Business

The hum drum of this Minneapolis bound plane sparked a few thoughts for you traveling business people out there. Nothing profound, mainly observations and a few packing tips.

As I waited in the NY airport, I took notice of what men were wearing. One look stood out: quality denim (think 34 Heritage or Tommy Bahama) with a solid (gray) t-shirt and (navy) sport coat with side vents. A versatile wardrobe item to consider for plane rides is a casual sport coat that can also dub as a jacket in spring and fall. Think soft shouldered, linen blend, or even knit (more to come on that for fall). Something less structured and formal. Wear it with your dress shoes or pack an extra pair of any flat casual shoes. In one form or another, I saw this look everywhere in NY. If a t-shirt and sport coat is outside of your business dress comfort zone, you could achieve the same look with a more polished knit, like Scott Barber or St. Croix mock neck shirts, or even a polo shirt of any kind. Stay neutral or choose from any color in the book, you’ve got options. This outfit is ideal for traveling because of comfort and wearability. I imagine you do a quick change after your meeting and throw on the jeans and t-shirt – but it saves the hassle of packing your sport coat. (If you do decide to to pack your suit or sport coat, it’s not as tricky as you might think, Watch: How to Pack a Suit.)

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Jack Victor sport coat, St. Croix mock, 34 Heritage jean

This may seem obvious, but wrinkle-free clothing is your best friend on trips. At The Foursome, we sell wrinkle-free dress and sport shirts by Enro, Forsyth of Canada, and Overton. All of these are great options for a sharp business look. For pants, I suggest our Riviera “travel pants”. These flat front, wrinkle resistant, machine washable pants are made of a wool/polyester/lycra blend that wears and packs well. They are genuinely comfortable and even have a “Passport Pocket” for personal belongings. I recommend trying a pair of the Riviera five pocket pants in black, a more modern alternative to a regular dress slack. Talk about something that gets good mileage. Easily dress them up or down, wear to a meeting, out to dinner, or on the plane. Enro and Savane pants are also wrinkle resistant and a great basic option for traveling.

If you are an avid business traveler, I am sure you have more tricks up your sleeve than I am aware of. But one thing I realized on my recent trip is that the overhead cabins were too small to fit the average “small” suitcase. Instead of leaving your case in the jetway with a pink tag to pick up after the flight, it seems logical to invest in a smaller bag of sorts and pack light. For an extensive list of more helpful tips than I could ever think up, check out these business travel tips from Executive Travel Magazine.  From recovering lost items in your taxi with a GPS system to RIFD-blocking passport cases to Bedbug reports, it is worth skimming to prevent common mishaps and help make your travels a breeze.

A few extras you might invest in to keep your suitcase clean and organized:

  • Leather Tie Case – Keeps your silk attire flat and avoids unnecessary crumples
  • Leather Dopp kit + manicure set in a compact case to tidy your tips and keep your hands manly
  • A cloth drawstring bag for dirty clothes along the way
  • Extra plastic bags to pack your shoes in
  • A spare pair of Eyebob or Skoji reading glasses and a case to keep them in tact

Lastly, here’s a great song about a guy who went there on business…Watch: Sequestered in Memphis, The Hold Steady

– By Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Tuxedos and Formal Wear: Options Abound

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Thank goodness tuxedos keep with the times. Whether it’s prom, a wedding, or another big occasion on your horizon, we have more to report than the stereotypical blah bland stiff tuxedo. I am talking plenty of options, especially when it comes to fit.

The Foursome is a dealer of both Jim’s Formal Wear and Savvi – and each of these providers have three fit categories to choose from: Traditional, Modern, and Slim Fit. There are also various pant options: Modern Slim (slimmer through hip and thigh, shorter rise) Flat Front (narrower through the hip) and Pleated Front (fuller through hip and thigh) All three styles work well with all body types, it is just a matter of silhouette preference.

Accessorizing a tuxedo is where the fun starts in expressing your own personality. Color is a great place to start. New vest programs offer more than 20 hues to choose from and include some neons, of course. Full back Vests are made with matching back color so you will still look great when you drop your coat before hitting the dance floor. There are other a la carte items to specialize your tuxedo. For a sophisticated look, add a striped Joseph Abboud Windsor tie. Or if you like the Modern slim fit, be especially up on fashion wearing a skinny tie. And as we have mentioned before…don’t forget the pocket square!

Commonly asked questions

  • When should I come in to order my prom tux?  ASAP. Even if you don’t know what your date is wearing, place your tuxedo order and add your accessories later
  • When should I book my wedding party? You should register your wedding at least 2 months in advance to allow for enough time for groomsmen to get measured. No appointment is necessary, but we encourage you to call ahead if possible.
  • How much does it cost to rent a tuxedo?  About $70 to $150. Add shoes for an extra $25 and a pocket square for $8. Click here for our special offers.
  • Do you rent suits? Yes! And you will be pleased with the quality garments available.

Beyond the Tux: Outfitting a Wedding Party

If you are not glued to the traditional tuxedo look and perhaps envision a more casual summer or beach wedding, there are a plethora of smart ways to outfit a wedding party at The Foursome. By spending a little more money on a great pair of pants, shirt, and tie, the wedding party goes home with lasting wardrobe pieces.

A few ideas…

  • Guys wear the same pants and shirt but different colored ties. We have plenty of brights to go around!
  • Guys and girls wear a monochromatic color scheme, different shades of the same color.
  • Pick matching suits for the guys from one of our in-stock suit programs.
  • For the beach wedding: a Tommy Bahama linen suit. A soft shouldered sportcoat and flat front pant combo, casual yet well put together. Wear with a white linen shirt untucked.

My top “nontraditional” formal wear picks…

  •  Forsyth of Canada wrinkle free dress or sport shirts in beautiful solid colors.
  • For a casual, modern shirt with a nice spread collar we suggest Thomas Dean sport shirts. They have a subtle double top button and contrasting cuffs.
  • Five pocket charcoal travel pant by Riviera

Looking for the right media guy? We have a recommendation. Bryan Bratt is a local guy doing original videography for weddings and other special events. Check out a sample of his work here.

– By Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Men’s Spring Tailored Clothing: Subtle to Perfection, as Vibrant as you Like It

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Can you smell spring yet? Men’s fashion invigorates the senses this season. Fine lighter-weight fabrics remind us of warmer air. Beautiful subtle hue variations in threads create endless color options to accessorize with. Fresh ideas and up-to-date fashions sing like the newly returning birds. The clothing hitting our store this spring keeps getting better and better. I dress my favorite sportcoat on a mannequin and change it four days later with a new favorite suit. Choosing how to outfit each suit and sportcoat is perpetually fun. Though I am eager to introduce a few new clothing lines, mainstays Joseph Abboud, Hart Schaffner Marx, Jack Victor and Hickey Freeman all have stunning pieces this season as well.

So lets get things started with a drumroll…introducing The Foursome Signature Collection. A custom program with unlikely features and countless options. Crafting your own suit is like designing a house from the ground up. You get to have it exactly how you want it, down to the buttons. Do you have an athletic build? Always wanted a double breasted suit or a peak lapel? Ever wish you could flash a fancy lining when you reach for your business card? All the details are up to you. But don’t get intimidated if you are not an architect by trade, our skilled fashion experts will be with you in the process, from swatch hunting to measuring. The unusual thing about The Foursome Signature Collection is that you do not have to wait months for the clothing to be made. We are talking 1-2 weeks max! Its crazy. Suits and sportcoats starting at $695. Definitely sounds too good to be true. (But it is true.)

Next exciting news on the table is is a clothing line by the name of Byron. With a lengthy list of desirable features and consistent attention to detail, these suits and sportcoats are worth of a try-on. I especially appreciate the modern “British” fit and balanced jacket design. It is tailored to created some waist suppression, has a trimmer sleeve head and a slightly shorter jacket length.

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Byron boasts of its canvas construction with a floating chestpiece. Sounds superlative, right? Well I had to look up exactly what that means. In brief, there are three types of coat construction. Full canvas construction is handmade with a free-floating piece of material between the jacket’s exterior fabric and interior lining. (Takes forever to make!) Fused means it has a layer of glue or adhesive that completely binds the layers together, creating a stiffer and less natural fitting coat. Between these extremes is (old world) Canvas Construction with a (modern technology) Floating Chestpiece. The canvas provides a proper drape, while the floating (not fused) upper chest ensures a longer lifespan and more natural fit when you are on the move. One surface detail to look for is pick stitching, a simple running stitch that catches only a few threads of fabric at a time. Subtle handwork is a sign of quality in fashion.  Click here for a more extensive look at the Byron suit design.

I must mention the vibrant neckwear we are seeing. Screaming with color and so very tastefully made. (not too surprising since I have been writing about the color craze in fashion these days, its everywhere.) Our London made ties by Seward and Stern will make you want to walk all over town. They remain committed to the time-honored craft of cutting and folding ties by hand, being one of the few out there to design and color their own neckwear. Geometric and organic patterns to boost your own aesthetic.

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If the idea of putting on another tie does not excite you, let me clue you into an equally appropriate alternative. The pocket square. Think of it as your new maintenance-free accessory. I am even suggesting it in place of the tie every once in a while. We have a great spring selection with interesting color combinations and patterns. It may break your own rule book but I promise you won’t be the only guy out there doing it.

– By Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Travel Series, Part 1: Vacation Fly Away

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Do you ever pity your suitcase? Poor thing. You jam it full and sit on it, ooching the zipper shut and weighing it 9 times before the scale reaches not one ounce less than 50lbs, all the while hoping it does not split at the seams en route. Needless to say, practical packing is a great skill to acquire. So lets explore some space saving, travel friendly, versatile vacation wear to bring on your next getaway.

We should adopt a travel appropriate principle: Less is more. Wearing things twice is no faux pas, though I am not necessarily suggesting wearing the exact same outfit twice. So be creative in pairing different tops with bottoms and creating various looks with the same elements. Roll up your sleeves and loosen a few buttons for lunch and then tighten up the same shirt and throw on a soft shouldered sportcoat for dinner the next night.

My top Tommy Bahama Picks:

1. Pocket T-shirt – Pick a color, any color. Wear them alone or layered

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2. Flipster 1/4 Zip– Perfect for traveling. Two tops for the space of one. A great item to wear on the plane.

3. Linen Suit – Buy the coat and pants separate or the whole shebang. Pair the coat with denim or colored chinos for a different look. You’ll fit in at any restaurant in this perfect cross between casual and formal.

4. Linen Plaid Shorts in Haze – Breathable, sophisticated, casual. Buy linen in every shape and form.

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5. Five pocket pants in Light Sand- Half linen and cotton, textural, versatile, casual. New this season!

6. Canvas Fold-out Dopp Kit – Keep your toiletries contained and organized in your suitcase

Fashion for the Travel Man

1. Eyebobs Reading Glasses- Current, funky, and come with a durable travel case. Freshen your look.

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2. Robert Graham Shirts – Your after 9 shirt, unbutton the top two and show off the details and fashion.

3. St. Croix Cotton Pullover – A classic sweater with a beautiful color palette to choose from.

4. 34 Heritage Denim – Stretch, comfort, and slimming effects, the best pants to wear on the plane.

5. Southern Tide – The Skipjack Polo is the best, most comfortable classic polo ever made. This fun, colorful brand is new at The Foursome this spring and flying off the shelves.

Golfwear for the Course

1. Bobby Jones Full Zip Plaid Nylon Jacket – So light weight it could fit in your pocket. Perfect for travel, course, and club.

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Available in-store only.

2. Bobby Jones Polo- Mini stripe with solid contrasting collar. Thin and lightweight.

3. Cutter & Buck Polos – Thinner than paper, your skin and suitcase will thank you.

Additional Packing Tips

  • Check the 7-day forecast before you pack
  • Roll your clothes, it limits wrinkles and saves space
  • Don’t pack for the worst scenario, pack for the best
  • Wear your thickest layer on the plane rather than packing it
  • Pack just enough toiletries to get you started and buy the rest when you get there
  • Don’t weigh yourself down with extra shoe options
  • Check your suitcase weight before you leave the house

Healthy Travel Snacks

  • Hard boiled eggs = compact protein
  • Dried fruit and nut mix = salty and sweet pick-me-up
  • Rice cakes = light weight and low calorie
  • Apple = keep the doctor away
  • Green tea bags = energy boost along the way

May your packing be light, your journey adventurous, and your vacation as free as the wind. Soak up the sun and Bon Voyage!

– By Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Hats Off to Functional Fashion

Hats can be defined as timeless, a word I like to use in my fashion vocabulary. With an extensive, globe-spanning history, hats are by no means something new to talk about. But they are worth celebrating. As an accessory, hats are a combination of function and fashion. They keep the sun out of your eyes, make your head warm, advertise your favorite sports team, and can even add a few inches for you shorter men out there. And with this functionality comes a variety of aesthetics to choose from when buying a hat. Even within one style of hat you have various fabrics and subtle design details to help define your look in one way or another. One of my favorite styles for men is the flat hat (also referred to as the driving hat, ivy cap, or newsboy hat). It is a classic look that spans generations. Both my baby boomer dad and millennial Brad Pit wear this type of hat with great style.

Flat cap delivers cloak of invisibility for Brad Pitt

We have a plethora of flat caps to choose from at The Foursome along with everything from vintage Stormy Kromer caps, The North Face ski hats, mad bomber hats, Tommy Bahama baseball caps, and classic Fedora dress hats. I recommend owning more than one hat so now is a great time buy another. Happy National Hat Day everybody. Hats off to you!

Vintage Stormy Kromer Hats

Vintage Stormy Kromer Hats

Tommy Bahama Caps

Tommy Bahama Caps

Flat Caps

Flat Caps by Wigens

– By Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Limelight Shoes: A Slice of Color and Nice

Lets talk about something that will put a little spring in your step. Limelight shoes. Even if you don’t get out much, I am sure you have seen brightly colored shoes somewhere, in some way, shape, or form. I am not a trend expert but I notice things. And anyway, neon is hard to miss. We saw a splash of it in golfwear and neckwear for spring 2012 and I know there is more of to come this spring. I wrote a blog post about color when fall apparel hit. But right now I am mainly talking about shoes. The bright and vibrant shoe trend, throbbing with color from laces to soles. I did not catch much of the Olympic Games this summer but enough to notice the hundreds of athletes shod in electric footwear. Check out this article about Nike’s neon shoe ambush. It is pretty intriguing.

So I know what you might be thinking – neon colors are a blast from the past. The 80’s are over. Not interested. Or – I am not into wearing florescent athletic shoes. Fine. But that is not the only way to wear this trend. How about a pair of dress shoes with just a slice of color? A sole with a bit of hue? Brightly colored laces? If you are not walking down the fashion runway on a regular basis, then accessories and footwear are the best and most versatile way to incorporate these vigorous colors into your wardrobe. And the reason for doing so is not mainly to be trendy. It is important to maintain your timeless fashion while continually adding bits here and there to stay current and interesting. A pair of exceptional shoes is one way of doing just that.

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As I perused the men’s shoe selection at The Foursome the other day looking at our newest footwear, I noticed two specific things seen in various brands. Wingtips and color. In most cases they were together. A traditional shoe design merged with the color craze. Subtle, yet full of character. Brilliant and tastefully crafted. Allen Edmonds, one of our highest quality and most timeless shoe brands designed a brown wingtip with hot orange rims and replaceable matching laces. Also hip wingtip boots accented in red and other similar designs. Cole Haan created a dull-ish sea blue wingtip with brighter blue laces in the same color spectrum. Or how about a pair of two-toned brown saddle shoes with blue soles. Don’t be concerned about if you have something at home that matches. They are not meant to match perfectly, that would be contrived. You can wear wingtips and colorful shoes with jeans or slacks, sport shirts or sport coats. Wingtips easily dress up or down. These shoes are worth kickin’ up your heels about. That is why I bring them to your attention. For your own fashionable good. So step out a little, your spirits will thank you.

– By Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Beyond the Holiday Sweater

Guys, are you feeling a bit uninspired about what to wear to your holiday parties this year? Not looking forward to de-pilling that sweater vest you wore a few too many times last year (and the year before)? Well dread your holiday wardrobe no longer, there is no need to think typical when it comes to fashionable attire this season. These outfitting suggestions are simple, versatile, and fresh. Our aim is to help you turn one or two garments into multiple outifits suitable for different occasions.

Be freed from traditional pressures, you do not have to dress like a Christmas tree to be festive. Red and green are fine colors to wear, but they are not the only colors suitable for this time of year. The colors you wear evoke a mood. Warm browns and rusts and oranges like the fireplace. Cool blues in every shade like ice and snow. Bright reds and purples like holly and wine. Neutral tans and creams like a cinnamon cappuccino. Everyone is drawn to some colors more than others. We encourage you to follow your instincts and allow us to help guide your appearance forward.

Fashion rules are both said and unsaid. Some trends come and go quickly, some trends are slower moving and last longer. Colored pants, for example, are everywhere right now. We are seeing them for spring 2013. They are fantastic, but in my opinion this trend is faster moving. However, I don’t foresee slimmer fit suits and pants vanishing anytime soon. Similarly, flat front pants and non-button down collars are increasing in production. I mention these things as you consider what direction you want your threads to move toward. What can you wear a tie with? What about pattern on pattern? Denim with a sportcoat? Consider something new this holiday season. Everything we have to offer is first-class.

To set you at ease, The Foursome is here to help you dress felicitously. How formal is too formal? What outfit suites what festivity? Below you will find seven scenarios, one or more you likely already have on your calendar. Consider each outfit a starting point, to which there is great potential for dressing up or down.  Infinity the limit.

FORMAL | For your Holiday Benefit Party

They picked over-the-top fancy, you pick the color. Renting or buying a tuxedo is not so boring after all. Select your favorite tuxedo accessories and be as distinct as you like.

Rental tuxedo by Jim’s Formalwear, $145
100% silk cummerbun and bow tie set for purchase to go with your own tuxedo, $95

Alternatives: For something seasonal, try a red vest and bow tie with a Christmas patterned pocket square.

FASTIDIOUS | For your “Invitation only” Holiday Gala 

We recommend you dress excessively particular for this event. Let them take your picture in black and white to bring out the contrasting tonal patterns between shirt, tie, and pocket square. This elegant ensemble is timeless, yet sleek and up to date. The suit is sure to be a foundation piece in your wardrobe with potential for the future.

Nailhead suit by Hart Schaffner Marx, $895
Non-iron dress shirt by Enro, $89.50
Striped silk necktie by Barbara Blank, $55

Alternatives: Wear the suit with a solid shirt and pair with patterned bow tie or a fascinating tie by Dion.

FANCYPANTS | For your Holiday Wine Tasting Party

Who said you should wear red to every holiday party? Some traditions are worth breaking. A color palette of rich blues and navy and gray create a sophisticated look while checks and dots add some flirtatious flair. The navy cashmere coat is as classic as they come and can be worn in a hundred different ways.

100% cashmere navy sportcoat by Jack Victor, $695
Grey flannel pants by Hart Schaffner Marx, $275
Blue checked shirt by Enro, $89.50
Polka dot silk tie by Seaward & Stearn, $125

Alternatives: Dress it down with a pair of St. Croix corduroys and a knit turtleneck.

FOLKSY | For your holiday work party

If you haven’t worn a sport coat with denim before, wait no longer. This outfit is the perfect example of how to do it in style. Grainy browns in the vest and sport coat paired with an extraordinary shirt by St. Croix adds a bit of blue that compliments the denim.

Sport coat by Jack Victor, $550
Vest by Hart Schaffner Marx, $125
Shirt by St. Croix, $215
Denim by 34 Heritage, $165

Alternatives: Take the coat off and admire the vintage looking vest with contrasting fabric on the back, plus you have a new outfit for date night. To dress up the sport coat, wear it with flat front slacks and a patterned sport/dress shirt.

FASHIONABLE | For your Special Holiday Date Night…or Happy Hour

Robert Graham is nothing but fashion, and this outfit is fresh attire. A purple, gray, and camel colored argyle sweater with matching paisley tie will help you celebrate the season with flair. Black washed denim is something you want in your closet. These jeans have dressing-up ability.

Purple shirt by Robert Graham, $178
Paisley tie by Santorelli, $98.50
Argyle sweater by Scott Barber, $245
Denim by 34 Heritage, $165

Alternative: Take the sweater off, roll the cuffs, tie or no tie, and you are ready for the city. For a totally different look, wear the sweater with a mock turtleneck and charcoal flat front cords.

FESTIVE | For Christmas Eve Dinner with the In-laws 

Traditional but not typical. An Italian inspired Visconti shirt adds festive glimmer with silver threads woven in. Don’t forget to turn your cuffs up for a holiday worthy pattern. The red wool sweater by Raffi is a must have for your wardrobe. At a great price point, try another color and take home two.

Marino wool red v-neck sweater by Raffi, $105
Striped shirt by Lusciano Visconti, $95
Black mercerized cotton pant by 34 Heritage, $185

Alternatives: Take the sweater off and you have a new shirt for happy hour. To dress it up, wear the shirt and sweater with a pair of charcoal Zanella pants or wool slacks. You could even throw on a black sportcoat.

FAMILY | For the Kid’s School Christmas Pageant

In typical Tommy tradition, you get style with comfort. You won’t want to take this outfit off at the end of the day. These light tan cords go with anything and are full of warmth and seasonal texture. Silk Tommy shirt should be worn untucked and looks stunning with this black zip top. It is a cross between a sweater, sweatshirt, and jacket. Great detailing.

Light tan corduroys by Tommy Bahama, $128
Tommy Bahama silk shirt, $138
Black double pocket zip sweatshirt by Tommy Bahama, $168

Alternatives: For a dressed up snowy look, wear the cords with a Scott Barber shirt and cream cashmere sweater by Raffi. Or try our new 5 pocket travel pants with the silk shirt.

Join us for a special Men’s Night at The Foursome on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Our expert sales associates – your personal shoppers for the evening – will help you assemble a great holiday wardrobe. Plus, enjoy tasty appetizers from Jake’s Grille, a free shoe shine, shoulder massages and hair consultations from Sport Clips stylists, and 20% savings on your purchase that night.

  – Words and Photos by Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome