The Material World: New Textiles and Treatments

Tommy Bahama multi-textured outfit

Tommy Bahama multi-textured outfit

An observation while unloading new merchandise onto the shelves this spring is: The material world has expanded in recent years. It seems that every garment was made of intriguing surfaces and carefully produced textiles, the fabric and dyes woven with interest and technique. Making new clothes look vintage or worn is not a new idea, but production processes continually advance, resulting in new merchandise each season.

Each brand The Foursome buys brings their own aesthetic and flavor into our store. They are the highest quality we can find. Quality truly matters. It lasts significantly longer than cheap look-a likes, it is noticeable even from a distance, and most importantly is felt by the wearer. Apparel made with fine material and constructed in smaller batches has the ability to offer a unique look. Specialty hardware, fasteners, and buttons add details that affect the overall look of any pant or shirt. The process in which clothing is designed and constructed is complex and involved.

One of the most innovative brands in creating a wide variety of textiles within their line is Tommy Bahama. They never tire of inventing new wearable surfaces. Some of their garments arrive already absorbed by the sun. Others have raw edges like their popular Fray Day polo shirt. Variation within the dye of a single sweater offers a casual yet sophisticated look. Different blends and weights of fabrics feel different against the skin and drape differently on the body.

It is inspiring to see new merchandise this spring that has evolved from only a year ago.  Beautiful new color combinations and color palettes to work into your wardrobe. Rustic and interesting textiles designed with style. So take notice. The materials these days are anything but uniform.

Below is a beginners list of textile terms. See if you can name a few next time you are in shopping.

Tommy Bahama sweater with garment over-dye

Tommy Bahama sweater with garment over-dye

Garment Dye
A special dye used to add color to finished garment. Rather than dying raw fabric before cutting and sewing, dying is done to individual pieces after construction. This can be done uniformly but it is also how they achieve subtle washed out dye along the seams and naturally throughout the garment.

Tommy Bahama yarn dyed knit shirt

Tommy Bahama yarn dyed knit shirt

Yarn Dyed
Yarn dyed clothing is made by first dying the yarn before weaving and construction. This is where you will notice beautiful subtle variation throughout the entire knit garment. The appearance can vary greatly between how fine the yarn gauge is to what type of yarn and dyes are used.

Tommy Bahama polo shirt with contrast stitching

Tommy Bahama polo shirt with contrast stitching

Contrast Stitching
When the stitching along the seams is a different color than the main fabric color. The details in types of stitching and where this contrast stitching is incorporated can completely change the look of the apparel item.

Tommy Bahama slub texture linen sportcoat

Tommy Bahama slub texture linen sportcoat

Slub Texture
Slubbed or nubby yarn adds intentional texture to fabrics and visual appeal. Machines are set to modify how much slub is present in the weave of a material so designers can implement their desired effect.

Tommy Bahama sueded cotton shirt

Tommy Bahama sueded cotton shirt

Sueded Cotton
Brushed, sanded, or chemically treated for extra softness. A sueded cotton t-shirt feels completely different than your basic cotton t-shirt. It has a different weight to it and drapes a little closer to the body.

Tommy Bahama woven double cloth shirt

Tommy Bahama woven double cloth shirt

Double Cloth
This interesting fabric is most often composed of two distinct fabrics lightly connected by a third binding weft. Basically, the exterior and interior fabric of a shirt will look completely different but are one fabric.

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


Southern Tide: A Quality Story

As I read the story of how the brand Southern Tide began, I was struck by how it all started with a bit of inspiration. On a trip to Italy, founder Allen Stephenson observed exceptional craftsmanship, clean lines, fine quality, and classic design. These elements combined with Allen’s South Carolina heritage became Southern Tide. It started with the well-crafted skipjack polo and rapidly grew into the highly sought after brand it is today. Including polos, sport shirts, solid t-shirts, shorts, boxers, and “flipjack” sandals, all of which we sell at The Foursome. The opaque color palette is wonderfully fresh.


This one small story made me think of how many good stories begin. An idea. Inspiration. Imagination surpassing reason. Once a story begins, it often becomes impractical and most often seems impossible. It takes vision, commitment, work. That is what we persevere in at The Foursome, our story as a family business. We keep asking ourselves how we can improve in every area. We are drawn to craftsmanship, quality, and the people behind the brands we buy. I recently came across a wonderfully inspiring film called Hearts and Crafts about the french line Hermes. In 46 minutes, it beautifully reveals each artisan and their process of making real human made products of exceptional quality. If you need a burst of inspiration and love real people with real stories like we do, I recommend watching the film asap.


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

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

HSM_suit2_sp13 HSM_suit_sp13

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.

byron_model-3 a_in_stock_canvas_suit_canvas_construction

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.


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

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.

neumok_red_l_main Long Branch_Brown_Main ColeHaan_C10779_Toro_Main2

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

Eyepopping Color

Rich and Saturated. The fall clothing at the Foursome is singing opera this season. It is truly deep and beautiful music. The most shocking notes come from the eyepopping color. Color? Shouldn’t we just talk about texture and layering for fall?  Well, the textures are as great as they should be this time of year. . . corduroy, leather, various knit wear, felted and boiled wool, thick flannel, fleece, fluffy zips, canvas pants. But the most glorious pieces for your wardrobe this year will be full of color. Vibrant and energetic.

Fall Fashions

At night, I sometimes lie awake thinking about a distinct color I have seen popping up in many of the fall collections this year. Benjamin Moore calls it Habanero Pepper, Geranium, Pinata, Moroccan Red. I call it Heirloom Tomato, Bittersweet Red, Orange Wine. It is very saturated and a beautiful mixture of red and orange, not too much or too little of either. Its perfect. I love it paired with something navy. Stunning.

Bill’s Khakis colored twill pants and plaid shirt.

Another specific color to start collecting this fall is green. Our Buyer, Scott Winterbottom  told me that we will be seeing more of this color in the months to come. He said its the hot color right now. We are seeing it in many shapes and shades. Chartreuse, Grass Green, Muted Lime Green, Chamomile, Deep Emerald Green. Even if you are a little shy, there is a hue to suite you.

Jackets, flannels, vests, and fleece from The North Face

Seeing, touching, and writing about the colorful fall apparel this year makes me giddy. A bit like a horse feels when the first nip of cool fall weather touches their nose. They run around the pasture with great speed and excitement, bucking with joy. Even if I have reason to be partial, I am very upfront, honest, and realistic. So you can trust me when I say that we have one of the best fall selections of merchandise I have ever seen at the Foursome. It sings.
  – Words by Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Men’s Fashion: Appreciate the Details

Robert Graham Shirts

There seems to be a surprise under every cuff these days. Pattern next to pattern, contrasting colors, interesting combinations of textiles within one item of clothing. Often, the extra attention given to these garments is only seen by the wearer. But the great thing is that you can hide or expose these elements depending on your preference or mood. We are seeing this sort of thing in nearly every brand. It is evident that incorporating tasteful components into each garment is important in men’s fashion.

One benefit to these extra snippets of fabric here and there is that you get versatility. The average woven shirt now has a personality switch. Roll your cuff or unbutton your collar as you leave the office and you have a new look for happy hour. Need a shirt for date night? Loosen the sleeve and your garment becomes artful. Its simple and inspiring.

Robert Graham shirts are known for their distinct details. Bold stitchwork, embroidered fabrics paired with stripes, square buttons, bright thread throughout. You can hardly define the designs as subtle. However, they remain sophisticated and brilliant. The details define the brand. Similar in flavor, yet not quite as spicy, are our Bugatchi and Visconti shirts from Italy. Unique design work is often found hidden along the button holes, so when the top two buttons are left open the beautiful detail is seen next to the crisp exterior fabric. Purely striking.

Thomas Dean Shirts

Alex Cannon adds suede piping along the edges of their knitwear and also offers a variety of shirts with contrasting fabric details. Bills Khakis incorporates plaids and ticking fabrics to the interior parts of their deep pocketed pants. Not visible to the onlooker but definitely worth seeing when you get dressed in the morning. St. Croix gives you a reason to respect their high fashion brand by choosing incredible metal zippers, hardware, and buttons. This season we are seeing leather mixed with knitwear, along with other surprisingly beautiful combinations.

One cannot forget Tommy Bahama. I am continually amazed at their attention to detail. Every shipment seems to outdo the last. We are seeing many reversible pieces, giving you two for the price of one. More than one style of button is sometimes matched with a particular shirt. Serged hemlines, intentional unfinished edges, small patches of fabric along the sides. . . It is obvious this brand believes that little things make a big difference.

Tommy Bahama Shirts

Color your Spring Palette

Tommy Bahama Knit Shirt

Lucky for you, spring menswear is about color. According to The Foursome’s menswear buyer, Scott Winterbottom, you can look forward to fresh colors like lavender, orange, and green this season. Spring is a time to utilize color in interesting ways. Besides color, you can also add performance and comfort to your expectation list.

Like the drab “winter” landscape (since ours in MN has been especially so) blossoming into spring, your wardrobe will soon come to life with bright new colors, dyed twill, and a sophisticated mixing of prints and patterns. Even if you do not consider yourself a trend adopter, we are here to help with a few new ideas for spring.

Neon: Including neon in your wardrobe can be tastefully done by adding it as an accent to an otherwise mundane look. Try accessorizing with neon pocket squares, ties, socks, etc. Neon colors also pair well with neutral colors. For example, check out our Tommy Bahama Aruba Zip in slightly washed out neon colors like melon and key lime. Pair this with their authentic twill 5 pocket khakis.

Dyed Pants: Sticking with their “hometown, deep-pocket, made in America” flavor, Bills Khaki is very much with the times this season when it comes to their dyed cotton vintage twill pants in Atlantic blue, butter yellow, and salmon red. These pants are proof that you can stick to your traditions and be current at the same time.

Colored Sport coats: I wouldn’t suggest a neon sport coat but you may consider something other than a navy blazer this spring. We have a beautiful linen/silk blended sport coat by Joseph Abboud. It can be dressed up or down. We like it paired with a lavender and green patterned shirt or over a more monochrome dress shirt with blues and greens. Tie or no tie, it typifies the emphasis of spring colors in your clothing wardrobe.

Colored Dress Shirts: We offer a wide selection of dress shirts by Enro and Forsyth of Canada. Both solid colored dress shirts and patterned dress shirts can be included in your spring look this season. Many of our seasonal fashion shirts can be added to your existing spring wardrobe for a fresh look.

Prints and Patterns: Patterned dress shirts can be paired with colorful ties and even bold prints. Try contrasting pale colors with saturated colors or subtle patterns with bolder prints. St. Croix has designed a perfect spring collection that incorporates vibrant colors and patterns.

The 1/4 Zip: If you do not own one of these (or if you own five already), we have a plethora to choose from. This classic, versatile, and comfortable item of clothing is a must have in any man’s wardrobe. From St. Croix to Tommy Bahama, to many of our golf lines, there are various colors and fabrics to choose from.