Happy Spring! This week I wanted to show you some of my favorite Spring ties and pocket squares you can easily (and cheaply!) pick up to add some new life and personality into your current wardrobe. Accessories are a great way to add an element of fun and can help make your year round navy and charcoal suits and sportcoats more seasonally appropriate.
I love playing with color for Spring so I chose this pink polka dot tie which would look fantastic paired with your navy or charcoal suit.
This lavender tie and floral pocket square combination instantly injects some fun into your year round suits. Pair with a light blue dress shirt (which you should already have!) and now you have a sharp, Spring outfit.
This article & video is part of the Celebrity Style Inspiration Series, where Antonio Centeno from RealMenRealStyle.com and I pick out great outfits from movies and tv shows and demonstrate how to recreate and incorporate them into your wardrobe.
As Antonio and I discussed in our other video about James Bond outfits to emulate, I really love the casual outfits Daniel Craig wears, so I wanted to recreate this one from Quantum of Solace, because it’s clean, simple and looks amazing on every guy, regardless of his age or body type.
Unlike the other video, where I switched out some items for more practical options, this one is already very practical, aside from the shoes. But we’ll get into that in a moment.
Here’s the full outfit I’m going to recreate. Apologies for the blurriness, but they don’t show this outfit for very long and the full-length shot is focused on a woman in a bikini to the right of Bond.
The Cardigan & Shirt
Daniel Craig is wearing a black shawl collar cardigan which is so warm and comfy. I certainly wouldn’t advise wearing this during summer time, but for any other time of year, there’s nothing better than a shawl collar cardigan. I put my model in one from Todd Snyder, but check the outfit details at the bottom of this page, because Todd Snyder no longer makes that cardigan, but I included a very worthy substitute.
Now, with the shirt, you can either go with an Oxford button down, like I have my model wearing below or you can go with a semi-spread collar dress shirt. if you wanted to dress it down a bit more, you can go with a white v-neck t-shirt, like Daniel Craig also wore in Casino Royale.
In the full length image at the top of the page, you’ll see bond is wearing brown suede chukka boots, which as I mentioned in the companion video to this one on Antonio’s Real Men Real Style channel, I’m not the biggest fan because they get gross and dirty quite quickly. So instead, I’d go for something like brown oxford dress shoes. That way, you’ll keep the same general profile as the original outfit and you hopefully already have these in your closet, so it’s a perfect way to incorporate them into a more casual outfit. I find a lot of men have a problem with mixing their dress shoes into more casual outfits and this is a perfect example of when it’s appropriate to add them in.
I also wanted to mix a more budget-friendly piece, like the chino pants, with less budget-friendly items, because for some reason, a lot of men think that if they’re wearing an expensive item, everything else has to be equally expensive or it just won’t look right. Well, hopefully you see that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Rag & Bone Avery Shawl Cardigan
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece White Solid Oxford Sport Shirt
Wool pants and trousers are an essential item because they’re the middle ground between jeans/chinos and a full suit. In situations when jeans or chinos might be a bit too informal and a suit is overkill, the wool pant/trouser fits this spot perfectly. They’re also amazing because they look damn good on every body type.
I want to clear the air about something first, because it’s important for you to know this:
The category of wool trousers is quite broad and basically includes any pants that are made of wool. This means trousers made of a more lightweight fabric, like suit pants, and the traditional, heavier-weight wool trouser are all considered “wool trousers.” If you want to get technical, I’m specifically meaning a wool fabric weight of anywhere from about 10-12oz and up.
When I say wool trousers from this point forward, I only mean the thick/heavier-weight wool trousers because the lightweight fabrics, like suit pants, look flimsy and unpolished when worn with items outside of a suit jacket. The thicker weight of the wool trousers I recommend below will not wrinkle as easily, lay cleaner on the legs and look great with everything from a sweater or overcoat/peacoat and semi-spread collared shirt (oxford button down dress shirt, too) to a leather jacket and t-shirt. Basically anything in your essential wardrobe will look great with the recommended wool trousers.
Some of my older readers often ask about “slacks” or “suit trousers” and my answer is always the same: don’t bother. You should never be wearing slacks or suit pants or similar without a full suit. Its flimsy looking, tacky and the mark of a guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
To Pleat or Not To Pleat
I don’t care how old or young you are or what your body type is – whether you’re thin or a larger guy, you should NEVER, EVER have pleated wool pants. Honestly, I f*#@%ing hate them because they’re so unnecessary and are unflattering on every guy. I’ll be the first to dance on their grave if they ever completely go away. I’ve never seen a guy look good while wearing them – ever.
What Colors Should You Get?
I’d recommend having at least two pairs of wool pants in your wardrobe. My first choice would be gray, then dark blue, and then brown, if blue or gray wasn’t available. Black is OK, but I’d consider that my last option, if I were you. It’s just too heavy of a fabric to wear black in, as it’ll look more imposing.
Crewnecks are okay, but they’re a more casual item. So for this reason, a V-Neck sweater is essential because it’s the classy mofo of the sweater world. V-necks add a touch of dressy formality that you just won’t get with a crewneck.
I love crewnecks, don’t get me wrong, but most guys don’t know how to wear them so then it starts looking really sloppy. I know some guys like the crew neck and tie or suit look, but I would choose a v-neck or cardigan sweater over a crewneck in this case almost every time.
Let your partner borrow them to snuggle with or wear
Throw them out if they get worn or thin around the elbows or the collar gets stretched out
Wear them with a dress shirt and have the collar resting on top of the “v”
Wear them with shorts
Wear them over Polo Shirts (ever)
Wear them over T-Shirts (ever)
Wear them without any shirt underneath – gross!
Wear them if they have any holes, pilling or they’re worn thin around the elbows
I prefer the V-Neck Sweaters I work with to be made of wool, – either regular or merino wool. Cashmere is also a great fabric, but it’s definitely on the pricier side. If you run a little warmer, then go for a wool/silk or cotton-blended sweater – Pima cotton is also great, but it stretches out very easily.
You need at least 1 black V-Neck Sweater in your closet. If you’ve got a black one already, grab a navy and/or charcoal gray version. These colors will go with everything else in your Essential Wardrobe. If you want a 3rd option, then a darker brown will also go pretty well with your wardrobe, too.
NOTE: A Navy Blazer looks horrible with a pair of tan chinos/khakis. This is the quintessential older, out-of-touch-guy-who-wants-to-dress-up uniform. Just. don’t – Ever.
Blazer vs Sport Coat
I see some resources online talking about how a Blazer is different from a Sport Coat/Sports Jacket and honestly, in all my years in the industry, the term is used so interchangeably that it doesn’t matter. They’re basically the same garment. If I have a hard time telling the difference, you’ll have an even harder time, so I say don’t worry about it and call it whatever you want.
Blazer vs Suit Jacket
The differences between a Blazer and Suit Jacket are constantly debated. A lot of sources say they’re the same, others say they’re different, but allow me to flex my teeny tiny muscles a bit, as I deal with these items day in and day out.
First and foremost, they’re not the same. A Blazer is made of thicker fabric so it pairs better with other clothing items of different weights, like jeans, for example. A Suit Jacket is made of lighter material and should only be worn as part of a suit.
You may not notice, but fabric weights can influence whether an outfit looks off or not. Blazers are not made of the same weight of fabric that a Suit Jacket is.
If you have a chance, go somewhere that requires a jacket be worn – like a business casual event or restaurant that requires a dinner jacket be worn – and I guarantee you’ll see some guys wearing suit jackets with jeans or khakis. I’m sorry to call them out, but older gentleman are the worst offenders here.
I want you to notice how it just looks… weird. The jacket fabric seems a little too “thin” and “flowy” compared to the pants because it’s too light of a fabric to go with a heavier fabric like denim or khaki. They don’t lay or move the same, so it looks weird.
The problem is that most guys see pictures of other guys wearing suit jackets with denim pants and think it looks great, which it does – in pictures. In person it looks bad due to the differing fabric weights. So trust me on this one – you need separate Blazers and Suit Jackets.
How To Tell A Blazer From A Suit Jacket
Here’s my patented 4-Step process to tell if a jacket is a Blazer or a Suit Jacket:
If the buttons on the sleeves and torso are metal of any kind – that’s a Blazer.
If it has matching pants – that’s a Suit Jacket.
If the jacket is thinner or more delicate feeling – that’s a Suit Jacket.
If it’s heavier, thicker or sturdier feeling – that’s a Blazer.
I recommend you go with a heavier, textured wool fabric because its robust and you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this type of blazer. I like a fabric weight of between 8 to 10 ounces, depending on your climate (hotter climates, I like around 6 ounces). If you go heavier than my recommendations, then you’re getting into Fall/Winter territory and the lighter weight fabric would wrinkle pretty badly. This weight also looks best with the other items a blazer is typically worn with – jeans, wool pants, sweaters, etc. – basically everything else in your Essential Wardrobe. Lighter fabrics have very slim use cases and are a pain in the butt to maintain that they’re usually not worth the hassle.
The Best Colors for A Blazer or Sport Coat
If you read the title, you know I’m going to say navy :). The reason is because it will go with everything else in my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials list. If you already own a navy Blazer – great job! – then go with a Charcoal or Charcoal Herringbone pattern.
Ideally, you’ll want to go with a double vent. This style of vent has been around for quite a while and is flattering on every body type. With that being said, a single vent is not a poor choice, but it’s definitely second in my book. Just make sure that, no matter what, you never go with a blazer without a vent – it’s a horrible look.
I chose these blazers because they’re not only well-constructed, but they’re also made of a nice, textured fabric that has the perfect amount of weight to them. Each of these blazers has the 2-button, notch-lapel features that I love and that work on all body types. The navy Brooks Brothers blazer is only offered with gold buttons online, but they do have non-gold button options available in their stores. Stick with their Milano or Fitzgerald lines as they offer the most tailored fits. Ermenegildo Zegna and Z Zegna make incredible blazers that always makes me stop and touch them whenever I’m at the store pulling clothes for a client. Burberry is fantastic for slimmer men that are 5’10” and above.
Brooks Brothers Charcoal Milano Fit Herringbone Blazer
Brooks Brothers Navy Fitzgerald Fit Two-Button Blazer
Burberry Gray Slim Fit Travel Tailoring Jacket
Emporio Armani Navy Jacket in Textured Wool
Ralph Lauren Purple Label Navy Nigel Wool-Cashmere Blazer
These are my go-to for blazers that look great, sport all the features I want to see on a blazer, and hit a more affordable price poin. J.Crew offers wool blazers for an extremely affordable price and their Ludlow line has a tailored fit that is fantastic and offered in a range of sizes, from Short to Regular to Tall. If you’re a slim to regular build, I love Topman because their cuts are the best! The material is usually a polyester-wool blend so it’s not the best, but it’ll get the job done and still look fantastic.
It’s time to answer the age-old question: How Should an Overcoat or Peacoat Fit? Alright, maybe it’s not age-old, but it’s still important either way. The rules are very similar to how should a suit jacket fit but keep in mind, with an Overcoat, at least, you’ll usually be wearing a suit or blazer underneath it, so the size will need to adjust accordingly.
Before We Begin
When trying on Overcoats, make sure you’re wearing a proper-fitting suit jacket or blazer so you can see how it’ll really fit. Trying on an Overcoat with just a shirt underneath will likely result in getting one that is too small and will look horrible when you’re wearing it with the proper clothing underneath it.
Also, when trying on a Peacoat, make sure you’re NOT wearing a suit jacket or blazer underneath, because like I said in my Overcoats & Peacoats essential article, this coat is not meant to be worn with those items.
Like with almost all your clothing, your coats can and should be tailored, but you always want to make sure at least the shoulders fit, because it’s very difficult and costly for a tailor to fix these, if they can at all.
How Should An Overcoat Fit?
Even though this will be going over a suit jacket or sport coat/blazer, you still want the shoulder seams of the coat to end where your shoulders end. If the shoulders are too tight or loose, they will be very hard to fix at a tailor’s. You should see no divots or wrinkles in the shoulders, as well. If nothing else, the coat’s shoulders should fit perfectly.
With your arms straight down, bend your wrist, so your palms are facing the ground, the sleeves should lightly touch the top of your hand. This length will cover anything you’re wearing underneath – which is what you want with a coat.
The picture below is from my How Should A Suit Fit? article, but I wanted to show you what I’m talking about when I mean palms facing the ground. Where the white shirt cuff is hitting is where your coat sleeves should be hitting. Just enough to cover it, basically.
When buttoned, the coat should not be roomy, but should lie close to your body. That being said, it should be in no way taut or feel constricting on your chest or midsection when wearing it over a suit or blazer.
This picture below (of the same coat my model is wearing, by Brooks Brothers) perfectly illustrates how it should fit in the body. He’s only wearing a sweater and Oxford dress shirt underneath, so it’d fit a little tighter in the body if he had on a suit or sport coat/blazer.
For Overcoats, the lapels are pretty standard width, so this is a non-issue. The lapels on the Brooks Brothers Overcoat above are a little wide, but they’re still very acceptable.
How Long should an overcoat be?
No matter what climate you live in, it should end somewhere above your knee – never longer. A good rule of thumb is mid-thigh to just above your knee is where your Overcoat should hit. If it needs to be longer because it’s too cold, then it’s time to throw aesthetics/fashion out to the window and go full Constanza Gore-Tex.
How Should A Peacoat Fit?
Just like with Overcoats, you want the shoulder seams of a Peacoat to end where your shoulders naturally end – where they start curving down to your arm, basically. You should see no divots or wrinkles in the shoulders anywhere. The shoulders should lay perfectly flat, with no divots or rumpling or pulling on the shoulders. If you have more rounded shoulders, the seam should still end in the same place. If the shoulders are too big or small, a tailor will have a very hard time fixing this, and it would be very expensive – if it was even possible. So ensure these fit properly before buying your peacoat.
RealMenRealStyle has this awesome graphic showing the proper shoulder fit. Even though it’s for suit jackets, your Peacoat shoulders should still look like this when the jacket is buttoned.
Just like an Overcoat: With your arms straight down, bend your wrist, so your palms are facing the ground, the sleeves should lightly touch the top of your hand. This length will cover anything you’re wearing underneath – which is what you want with a Peacoat.
The picture below is from my How Should A Suit Fit? article, but I wanted to show you what I’m talking about when I mean palms facing the ground. Where the white shirt cuff is hitting is where your Peacoat sleeves should be hitting. Just enough to cover it, basically.
When buttoned, the jacket should lightly hug your midsection, but not feel tight or constricting. There shouldn’t be a whole lot of “play” if you were to put your hands in the jacket and pull forward. The jacket shouldn’t be pulling at any of the various buttons on the front, making any creases in the front. If it’s very roomy around your stomach/waist area, you can (and should!) have a tailor take in the sides so it fits properly. Remember: better to be slightly too big than too small.
Quick Tip: When wearing your Peacoat, leave the bottom two buttons unbuttoned. It allows the coat’s bottom to flow better when walking or sitting. Buttoning a Peacoat all the way down is very odd looking and never done by anyone but a rookie.
For Peacoats, the lapels are all standard width, so this is a non-issue.
How Long should a Peacoat be?
Unlike the Overcoat, a Peacoat should hit anywhere from mid to lower crotch. On my model, above, the Peacoat ends right around lower crotch. Anything longer than that wouldn’t be acceptable. Anything longer than lower-crotch or shorter than mid-crotch would throw off the proportions of your body and make you look weird. Balancing proportions is a mistake a lot of guys make and can really influence how big or small you look in clothing.
If you live in a climate where the temperatures drop during the winter, you’re going to need a coat or two. So let’s talk about Overcoats & Peacoats. They’re not to be confused with a jacket or windbreaker or whatever other sorry excuse for a coat I see guys wearing during the winter months. You need a proper coat that’ll look sharp and timeless and last many, many seasons. Your coat is the first thing anyone is going to see (aside from your shoes and a scarf) during the winter months, so let’s make sure you look amazing.
Common Overcoat & Peacoat Mistakes
In my travels, I see a lot of Overcoat blunders, so let me go over the common mistakes I see guys making with their coats before we dig in.
Too Boxy This makes stocky men look really wide and/or short and thin guys look even thinner.
Too Long This would technically fall under fit, but it’s such a big problem that it deserves it’s own section. Your overcoat is designed to go over your clothing, not be a blanket you threw over yourself! The worst is when I see guy’s sleeves going past the beginnings of their palms or their coats hitting mid-shin. If a coat goes past your knees, it’s going to collect dirt, mud and salt stains on the bottom – gross!
Too Complicated Some of my male friends suffer from this: They just have too much stuff going on with their coats. As I mentioned in my first #AskAW episode, you don’t need epaulettes/shoulder straps, sewn in sweaters or hoodies or a bunch of pockets or zippers or… things hanging off your coat. It looks cheap and tacky.
Too Trendy Even though I work in the fashion industry and attend the various Fashion Weeks around the world, good lord, there’s some jackets I see guys wearing on the street and I just wonder what happens once it goes out of style in a few weeks. I would never recommend something trendy as a Men’s Wardrobe Essential because you’ll probably only get one winter’s worth of wear out of it.
Not Appropriate For the Climate If you live in a warmer climate and are wearing a long overcoat without a suit, you look silly. There’s a time and a place for everything and it’s important to understand this in all things, but definitely in regards to coats. See below for details on when it is or isn’t appropriate to wear your coat.
A man should own at least one of these two coats, maybe both. See below to determine whether you need one or both coats in your closet.
There’s two factors to determine whether you should own an overcoat:
Does it snow where you live? An overcoat is an essential if it snows where you live because it’ll cover more of your body and be a great coat to layer clothing under to keep warm on the colder days.
Do you wear suits often? If you wear suits (like a gray suit), regardless of your climate, you need an overcoat because this is the only coat that compliments a suit. A Peacoat won’t work with a suit because (if it fits properly) it’s too short to cover a blazer or suit jacket as well as too casual for this type of outfit.
Every guy, regardless of his climate or whether he wears suits regularly or not, should own a Peacoat because it’s great for casual outfits in your Essential Wardrobe. If you live in a colder climate, it’s also great for warmer winter days and through the early parts of Spring. Notice I’m leaving out Fall. This is because that’s when a Blazer, Leather Jacket and Harrington Jacket really shine. For moderate/warmer climates, like Southern California, a Peacoat will be your “winter” coat.
Double-Breasted or Single-Breasted Coats?
A proper Peacoat is always double-breasted, so that’s not an issue.
As for Overcoats, stick to a single breasted coat because a double breasted Overcoat would require you to wear it buttoned 24/7 since it looks really big and floppy when it’s left unbuttoned. Single breasted gives you the option to wear it buttoned or unbuttoned while still looking sharp and form-fitting.
The Best Overcoat & Peacoat Colors For Men
For Peacoats, you want to go with the classic Navy color. For Overcoats, you can go with Navy, Camel (tan), Black or Dark Gray. If this is your first Overcoat, go with Dark Gray or Black. If it’s your second, get a Camel Overcoat to inject some color into your wardrobe, as it’s still a neutral color that will go with the rest of the Men’s Wardrobe Essentials.
I chose these coats because they all have a great tailored fit and the material, coat length, lapel width, buttons and the overall construction of them is impeccable. I love the Brooks Brothers charcoal Overcoat, which I actually used on a recent shoot with Harrison Ford, and I was amazed at how well-designed this coat was. The Burberry and Billy Reid Peacoats are my favorite Peacoats of all time! The details are incredible and they’re flattering on every man. An interesting fact: The Billy Reid coat is named the “Bond” coat because it’s the exact one Daniel Craig wore in “Skyfall.” The Burberry runs on the slimmer and slightly longer side, so if you have a shorter and wider build, then this may not work for you, although my model (below) was wearing it and he was quite “built”, so YMMV (your mileage may vary).
Each of these coats has a simple and clean design with no unnecessary flourishes, which you’ll usually find with cheaper alternatives. The price point is great for these considering they’re wool and wool-blended coats and will keep you warm and looking sharp. I love the Topman Camel Overcoat a lot, which is why I used it on my model below!