How to Sport a Transitional Wardrobe

PHOTO: transitional wardrobe

Summer is not over, at least we keep saying this, fully ignoring the fact that Labor Day is right around the corner. But as we make our way into September (arguably one of the nicest months for weather in Chicago) and the temperature transitions from scorching hot to slightly cool, our wardrobe also transitions. This requires a few tweaks and additions to stay comfortable, fashionable and professional. The fundamental pieces to making this transition are the sport coat and blazer.

Many office environments become more casual in the summer, so once September hits, getting back to business professional is key.  When you’re not quite ready to put away the light-colored slacks and vibrant, summery blues, simply adding a sport coat is an easy way to transition into the new season. Plus, a classic navy blazer or plaid sport coat can sharpen and polish a casual shirt and slacks. If you are heading out for a night on the town after work, adding a sport coat provides a little bit of warmth in addition to dressing up your evening.

So when deciding between the sport coat and blazer for a night out, you may ask: What are the main distinctions between the two?

The blazer, traditionally sewn with patch pockets and gold buttons, is normally a solid color (navy blue being the most popular). The sport coat is oftentimes made of heavier, patterned material that originally paired well with men’s sporting events, like a fox hunt. Both are acceptable for dressing up casual slacks, jeans or khakis.

Eventually, we’ll need to pull out those wool suits for winter (and we should be planning for them now!). But until then, get the most out of your warm-weather wardrobe by using the sport coat and blazer like a pro.

Sonny BalaniHow to Sport a Transitional Wardrobe
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Survival of the Fitted

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To truly understand fashion today, you must look back to see how it has evolved over time.   Like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, what’s deemed fashionable in men’s clothing has significantly changed over the last century.  War, economic instability, and social behavior considerably influenced men’s fashion from 1900 to 1950.   From tailcoats to zoot suits, this survival of the fittest approach has drastically changed the face of men’s fashion with each new decade.

In the 1900’s, men discarded the knee-length frock coat for the shorter, hip-length, single-breasted sack coat.  Typically paired with cuffed trousers and curled mustaches, this fashion trend marked the beginning of a new era.

With the end of World War I, the roaring 20’s brought a less conservative approach to fashion.   Inspired by military uniforms, men abandoned long suit jackets for colorful, high-waist jackets with narrower lapels.  To finish off the look, men sported wingtip shoes and top hats.

After the stock market crashed in 1929, the state of the economy collapsed, drastically transforming the production and style of menswear.  At the time, double-breasted suits, full-cut trousers and fedoras were staples in men’s fashion. Manufacturers tried to cut down production costs, by incorporating man-made fibers like rayon, into fabrics and limiting color variety.

Following WWII, the government placed restrictions on the use of wool.  Ultimately, this affected style trends throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s.  Men began dressing conservatively and often wore dark colors.  Flannel replaced light-weight fabric, and single-breasted suits with tapered trousers were paired with fedoras, pocket-squares, and skinny ties.

With less conservatism, more variety, and advancements in manufacturing men’s fashion has substantially evolved over time.   Like all things, what’s considered fashionable is cyclical.  Next month, find out how fashion trends from our past shaped the styles over the next 50 years.

Sonny BalaniSurvival of the Fitted
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The Sophisticated Suit

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Sophistication: – “Appealing to or engaging the intellect”

We may think of personalities or palettes in conjunction with the above adjective, but perhaps it’s time to start associating our wardrobe with it as well. That being said, it begs the question: What is a Sophisticated Suit?

It’s one that inspires thought. Consider a charcoal glen plaid with a light blue windowpane. While this may sound eerily similar to the Modern Glen Plaid used for a sport coat, it lacks the heighten sense and bold use of color. The sophistication rests in the subtle dark pattern used for suiting, one that’s un-intimidated by a hint of color.

Although it’s defined by it’s pattern, the charcoal glen plaid can certainly be worn in an uninspired fashion.  In this sense, it serves the function of a solid suit; it’s rather unremarkable.  Yet, proving its worth and versatility, it can be made into an understated look of elegance that engages the intellect.

To accomplish that end, strive to compliment the blue in the suit.  A crisp white shirt with a light blue tie will suffice. Simply wear it with a French blue shirt. Or always be prepared to the amplify the look by exercising a pocket square in the coordinating color; consider designing the suit with a lining and push up pocket square in a complimentary tone.

However you choose to wear the suit, it is one that deserves a place in any well-dressed man’s wardrobe.  It is a small step outside of the basics, yet provides a level of taste sure to appeal to the intellect of any well-dressed man.

Sonny BalaniThe Sophisticated Suit
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Sport It

Whether it’s box seats with coworkers or a casual dinner with clients, it’s time to realize that boat shoes and a polo just won’t cut it anymore. Then again, there are times when a navy suit just doesn’t cut it. So play it safe this summer with the business casual clutch play: The Sport Coat.
When we say sport coat, we’re not talking about that navy blue blazer (read: brass buttons) that you got two sizes too big just because it was on sale. Today’s sport coats can have more personality; cut it with shape, custom detailing, and in a simple pattern or color. Then consider what to put underneath it.

Under the jacket you’ll need a collared shirt with buttons from top to bottom. That means no t-shirts or polo’s.  Why? You’ll want a dressier shirt underneath in case the sport coat needs to be benched.  Take a swing with color and pattern on this one, or keep it crisp and white. Just be sure to fit it right; it’ll make a statement without saying a word.

Keep it professional by tucking in the shirt, just make sure it’s not into some cotton chino. In fact, ditch cotton all together and opt for dress slacks.  That means a wool pant in a contrasting color.  While the mere mention of wool might make you itch and sweat, be aware that it wicks moisture away better than cotton and can be softer.

To finish it off, consider the shoes. If you can comfortably walk a 5k in them, you’ll probably need something dressier.  Opt for a pair in all leather, in classic black or brown. A thinner, slimmer sole will compliment the modern ensemble. Follow this play by play for the sartorial score at the next company outing.

Sonny BalaniSport It
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