How to Upgrade Your Wardrobe for 2013

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It’s officially the start of 2013, and the best part about the New Year, is the opportunity for a fresh start. It is the reason why we take it upon ourselves to make a new year’s resolution, or add new workout regimes to our weekly routine, or try to hit new goals at work. It’s the reason we ditch the tired clothes of our past and indulge with fresh looks for the New Year.

One thing we all learned from the movies, is that the ‘nerd’ can become ‘the cool guy’ simply by cutting his hair, taking off his glasses and putting on some new clothes. It’s why we feel an increase of sense confidence when we put on a new suit. It’s why we reach for our favorite shirt, or lucky tie when we get dressed for a big meeting or hot date.  There’s an undeniable sense of confidence when we wear something new and let’s face it, there’s something to be said for kicking off the New Year in style.

Here are the three things your should add to your custom wardrobe this year.

1.) ‘A-Game’ Suit

What’s an A-Game suit you’re wondering? It’s the one suit you reach for when you know you want to look and feel like a badass. It may not be appropriate for every occasion, but that’s not the point.  This particular suit is great when you need to leave a lasting impression or make a statement, because when you feel like you look good, others take notice and think you look good too.

2.) Custom Dress Shirts

Add a little life to your wardrobe by incorporating new colors and patterns to your basic solids.  Sure, the basics are good for work, but you have a life outside of work and your wardrobe should reflect that.  Pick out new fabrics that are better suited to your lifestyle. Do you wear a button down dress shirt and sport coat with jeans when you go out? Then pair your basic sport coat with a bold checked pattern or dark gingham plaid.  Don’t be afraid to step out of your white and blue comfort zone.

3.) Custom Sport Coat (Patterned)

While the classic navy blazer is a wonderful staple for your wardrobe, sometimes your lifestyle requires a little something extra. Find a pattern that is bold but also complimentary to a variety of pant options. Whether you are wearing slacks or jeans, the sport coat should be the statement piece of your outfit. When pairing your bold sport coat with a shirt, opt for a subtle pattern and be sure to keep in mind the scale of the pattern.

Sonny BalaniHow to Upgrade Your Wardrobe for 2013
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Mille Stripes

mille stripesMille Stripes
Stripes formed by individual threads that alternate in color. Unless you look at the fabric up close, you may mistake this for a solid. The mille stripe is a nice alternative to a basic solid custom shirt.

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How to Travel in Style: 5 Tips on Packing for a Trip

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One of the most frequent questions we’re asked at BALANI is: “What should I pack when I travel for work?”

Clearly it’s important to pack smart—with minimal luggage (unless you have your own private jet) and versatile clothing options—but what many men fail to realize is the invaluable opportunities of traveling in style.  Before we discuss the practical side to packing, let’s consider why men’s travel clothes are so important.

One of the greatest advantages of traveling is the opportunity to network and meet new people.  Striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the plane is an easy way to meet a potential client or gain a referral, and how you’re dressed gives them an immediate impression of your character.

With that said, take a minute to consider how you present yourself when traveling. Are you in jeans and sneakers or a blazer and loafers?

One thing we always recommend is “dressing the part”:  Not only will you be treated better, but airlines and hotels are also more inclined to upgrade you when you are dressed well.  Regardless of your profession, putting your best-dressed foot forward is an effortless way of gaining respect from others.  And you never know who you’ll meet by chance—a new client, a potential job lead, even a future spouse.

Now (as we step off the proverbial soap box…)—onto the tips! Here are the BALANI tips for packing for a trip:

1. Use your suitcase for casual clothes, and be sure to travel in a suit. Not only will you look great, but you’ll also prevent unwanted wrinkles from afflicting your suit.  Plus, you’re covered if the airline accidentally loses your luggage.  Not like that ever happens…

2. Pack lightly and bring a variety of versatile clothing options. For a short, 2- to 3-day business trip, bring two suits, four shirts, and two pairs of shoes.

3. When determining which suits to pack, the best options are a solid charcoal and a dark navy with a subtle pattern. Not only are they are the most versatile colors, they are also appropriate for almost any situation.

4. For each suit you bring, be sure to pack two shirts that match it. Leave the bold patterns and bright colors at home, and bring clothes with subtle patterns and soft colors.  A classic, white shirt is a must.  This way, no one will notice if you wear the same white shirt more than once.

5. Lastly, be sure to pack one brown pair of shoes and one black pair—leave the lace-ups at home and only pack slip-ons. This way, you can avoid holding up the security line at the airport.

When traveling for business a few key things to remember are: Always travel in a suit and pack clothes that are versatile in color and pattern.  Employing these easy tips will help guarantee you’re trip is stress-free and stylish. After all, you never know whom you’ll meet.  It could be the one client that leads to your private jet.

What are you must-haves and tips for traveling?  Let us know on our Facebook page!

Sonny BalaniHow to Travel in Style: 5 Tips on Packing for a Trip
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How to Match Patterns

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Robert Downey Jr. Photo
Learning how to mix and match the patterns in your wardrobe is a fundamental component to dressing well.

While quality of clothing is important, being able to successfully mix and match patterns is essential to putting a cohesive look together. Just because you buy expensive paints, doesn’t mean you’re Picasso. You must learn how to masterfully use the paint in order to create a work of art. The same idea applies to style.

The secret to matching two or more patterns rests with these three fundamental elements: scale, color and design.

Scale is the most important component to combining patterns, especially when pairing two similar patterns. It is perfectly acceptable to match a pinstripe suit with a striped shirt, as long as the scale and size of your stripes are not the same. For example, a pinstripe suit with 3/4 inch wide stripes should only be worn with a shirt whose stripes are significantly closer together.

One of the simplest ways to incorporate multiple patterns into your wardrobe is through the use of color. When pairing a patterned suit, shirt and tie, color can be the common thread that links these otherwise unrelated items together. For example, a traditional glen plaid suit with a light blue windowpane can easily be worn with a light blue checked shirt. To complete the look, add a red tie with a light blue geometric pattern.

Design is the final element to consider when combining multiple patterns. When matching 3 or more patterns, it is important that they are not the same design. This will prevent your patterns from visually competing with one another. A pinstripe suit should not be worn with a striped shirt and striped tie. Instead, exchange one of the striped patterns for a geometric pattern. This will give you a more cohesive look.

Being able to mix and match your patterns is a great way to broaden your wardrobe. When you succeed, it looks effortless and when you fail, everyone notices.

Sonny BalaniHow to Match Patterns
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The Gekko Moment

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There is a pivotal moment in a man’s life, when the culmination of every test he’s taken and every late night he’s spent working, are suddenly validated by a 60-second bout of fleeting elitism.

True, we all have the occasional moment when we think, “I’m so money,” and lets face it, occasionally, you are.  Referring to a more particular state of awareness, this is the moment when you realize that all your hard work has paid off and you have finally “arrived.” For some, purchasing a fine timepiece or a killer new ride embodies this moment.

Let’s refer to this as a “Gekko Moment,” shall we?  In the landmark 1987 movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko is the infamously successful character known for coining the phrase “Greed is good.” For Gekko, style of dress and personal power have a direct correlation. Known for his opulence and affection for custom clothing, Gekko views his wardrobe as a reflection of his accomplishments.

In fact, upon meeting protagonist Bud Fox for the first time, Gekko promptly instructs him to “Buy a decent suit.  You can’t come in here looking like this.”

Regardless of whether you’re a Wall St. rock star or the office rainmaker, Gekko encourages you to dress the part.  So go on, embrace your “Gekko Moment” and be the powerhouse that we all know you are.

Sonny BalaniThe Gekko Moment
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White Collar Crimes

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The “white collar” man, originally coined by novelist and political activist Upton Sinclair, referred to the early 19th century salaried office laborer and their de facto uniform. Police officers wore navy. Blue Collar laborers wore chambray. And the businessman wore white shirts. Yet somehow this wardrobe staple seems to have fallen out of favor with the masses, often cited as boring and unoriginal almost as frequently as it’s associated with crime. So what is the case for white shirt today?

Simplicity is certainly one. Mixing pattern and color is uncomfortable territory for most men, and the white shirt is capable of removing this ailment. The most complicated decision one will face is matching a tie to the suit, easing sartorial stress.

On top of it’s simplicity, the white shirt is non-discriminate. Skin tone, hair color, size or shape, none seem to have any influence over a wearers pulchritudinous as one is always well-favored in a white shirt. It’s difficult to imagine a more accepting article of clothing.

It’s exactly this simplicity and undiscerning nature that ought to earn the white shirt a new reputation.  This is precisely the reason why the white shirt is the exclusive choice for black tie affairs, underscoring it’s universal elegance.  The case for the white shirt should be clear, and the only “white collar” crime should be not wearing one.

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Blue Collar Meets White Collar

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Etymology is interesting, especially when two seemingly unrelated and contrasting ideas come together. Consider the moniker Blue Collar. How did it work it’s way into our every day lexicon? As a term coined to describe a manual laborer, the idea that a simple fabric, Chambray, branded a hearty demographic makes it all the more interesting.
Dating back to the 16th century, Chambray was first woven in the region of Cambrai, France, where it became a popular fabric among agricultural workers. It was the fabric of choice due it’s exceptional ability to breathe and it’s long life span in the field.

Weaving the fabric was rather simple too, a colored weft thread was used, while the warp is unanimously white. In the field worker’s case, the color was most often a darker blue, as it tended to not show the dirt as much. Soon, the blue chambray became the ad hoc uniform for the laborer as they eventually became known as “blue collar workers.”

The Chambray shirt has found it’s way into the wardrobe ever since. While it’s great in the field, it’s perfectly appropriate for the office too. Versions of French blues, pinks, violets and whites are frequently seen. It can be worn with a tie or with the collar open. However it’s worn, it’s always perfect for a hard days work.

Sonny BalaniBlue Collar Meets White Collar
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Out with the Cold, in with the New

It’s time for change. No, not the political rhetoric type. We’re talking about wardrobe change. Spring’s around the corner so it’s time to get your seasonable wardrobe in line. By now you should be asking “How do I dress for spring?” We have a simple answer and it involves color and weight.
Start with the obvious approach and think lighter colors. Perk up your shirts with something brighter (think hunter green vs. apple green) and make sure your ties follow suit. When considering pattern, take it a step further and reach for a gingham as opposed to that standard check. By using both color and pattern, you’ll compound the effect and be in with the new.

To be out with the cold, take a committed approach and change fabrics altogether. As opposed to wearing the same suits year round, start opting for lighter-weight fabrics for spring and summer. Standard weights range from 8.5-9.5 ounces, while spring and summer weights will be 8 or less. By going lighter in weight, you can go darker in color without looking like you woke up in the wrong season.

Now that’s change we can believe in. Oops, there’s more of that rhetoric…

Sonny BalaniOut with the Cold, in with the New
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Spread ’em!


No, we don’t have a warrant, but we do have suspicion. Suspicion that you’re wearing the same collar you did back in high school. Regardless of your motive for change, the New Year requires it. Start off by wrapping something new around your neck: The Spread Collar.

Beginning with terminology, the spread of a shirt simply refers to the distance between the points of the collar. While every collar technically has a spread to it (less the mandarin or stand-up collar), different spreads create different characters. A shirt with longer points and a narrow spread (aka straight point) should make you think of scenes from Goodfellas. While a wide spread collar, with a large gap between the points, should bring you to the floor on the London Stock Exchange. Let’s avoid the roughing up and talk about the latter option.

The Spread Collar is challenging the dominance of the point collar due not only to it’s British aesthetic (pair it with checks to take it to the next level), but also due to it’s ease of wearability. Collars are meant to frame one’s face, and The Spread has a tendency to flatter any facial structure, be it thin or wide.

Along with it’s good-for-anyone appearance, it’s perfectly suited to be worn alongside current trends. A slim tie, narrow lapels, and a tapered suit work just as well with The Spread Collar as does the conservative cut garment. Hold for one small detail: you must tie a Windsor knot!

To complete the look, a larger knot is required with the shirt; the large gap calls for a Windsor’s fullness to soak up the extra space. The perfectly symmetrical triangle of the aforementioned knot is the final detail to tie the look together.

So while it seems contradictory, be sure to frame yourself well in 2010. The Spread Collar can be your new accomplice.

(Psst.. not sure just how to tie a Windsor? Don’t feel guilty – give us a call and we’ll be glad to show you how it’s done the next time you’re in the area)

Sonny BalaniSpread ’em!
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Off the Cuff

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As the holidays encroach upon us and the Evites begin to stack up in our inboxes, you may find yourself asking “What should I wear to THAT party?” It only makes sense, for ‘tis the season for sartorial confusion. Is it a formal engagement? A casual gathering? What if I’m underdressed? Fear no more, there is a solution: The French Cuff shirt.

Both diplomatic and debonair, the French cuff is taking a stand in the American market. The folded back cuffs (better known as the Double Cuff across the pond, due to it’s bulkier appearance) are no longer held captive to the executive boardroom or the Groom’s wrist. They’ve also been making untucked appearances with denim and open collared encores with a modern sport coat. It’s precisely because of this versatility the French cuff is becoming a mainstay in the man’s wardrobe.

“Casual Fridays” are getting played out and men are realizing the need for a more professional appearance in the work place. Enter the French cuff. While they’re traditionally dressier, wearing it in an non-traditional, unbuttoned fashion (no tie, 1 or 2 buttons, relaxed) can sneak a touch of formality to your Fridays. Not to mention, this style easily transitions to happy hour martini attire.

The popularity is also embracing the fact that one’s wardrobe can (and should!) reflect your personality; cufflinks are integral part in doing so. With your timepiece acting as the solo accessory, cufflinks offer a certain level of finesse without overcomplicating a look. Whether you’re conservative with simple sterling links or the nautical anchor-wearing type, your choice of cufflink says something about you.

And you don’t even have to mention your yacht.

Sonny BalaniOff the Cuff
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