Top 3 Custom Suits to Own First

Navy Suit with red tieImagine this, you land an incredible new job that requires you to wear a suit twice a week. Your previous job was business casual, so your suit game is outdated, ill fitting and essentially nonexistent.
So where do you start? You’ve already decided to purchase tailor made suits, but what colors should you buy first? What are the most versatile suit colors? Should you buy a pinstripe suit? Or is a solid suit fabric best?

Luckily, we’re here to help answer all your suit questions. Here’s our recommendation for the top 3 custom suits you should own.

1.) Charcoal Suit (Solid)

A charcoal suit is the most valuable suit in your entire wardrobe. Why? For its incredible versatility, elegance, and ability to conform in every situation. Commonly associated with loyalty and trustworthiness, charcoal is a customary choice for men who work face-to-face with clients.

One of the major advantages of a charcoal suit is its compatibility with the majority of shirt colors. Ranging from basic white, to jewel tones, pastels, and earth tones, charcoal has a chameleon like ability to work seamlessly with all colors.

Secondly, charcoal works beautifully with brown, black, chestnut, and merlot colored accessories (belts and shoes.) When you’re looking to lighten up a charcoal suit for spring, wear it with a chestnut shoe and pastel shirt. For a more conservative approach, wear it with black shoes, a crisp white shirt, and white pocket square.

2.) Navy Suit (Solid)

When starting a new job, a solid navy suit is absolutely essential. The rich navy color conveys confidence, power, trust, and stability. Like a charcoal suit, navy is appropriate for any business occasion. For that reason, it’s the perfect suit to wear when attending a meeting with your superiors, or when making a presentation in front of clients.

It is also extremely versatile in regards to shirt and tie combinations. For an important meeting, opt for a white button down shirt and a red tie. For a less demanding occasion, swap in a checked shirt and light blue tie. You’ll achieve two entirely different looks, all while wearing the same suit.

3.) Medium Grey Texture (Sharkskin, Herringbone, Glen Plaid, Nails Head, Birdseye)

Now that you have your two basic suits, your third custom suit should have a little more personality. A great way to achieve this is by going with a textured fabric, over a pattern.

The advantage of a textured fabric is that it provides visual interest, while offering the same versatility as a solid color. While pinstripe suits and windowpane suits are classic patterns, they are bold and much more difficult to match with shirts and tie combinations. Textures on the other hand, are much more subtle and give the wearer the ability treat the suit as a solid while capitalizing on the visual depth of the texture.

Elizabeth FasulaTop 3 Custom Suits to Own First
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Charcoal Suit vs. Navy Suit

Charcoal vs. Navy
When it comes to purchasing your first custom suit, the important thing to consider is versatility. Being that it will be the only custom suit in your wardrobe, it is likely that you’ll be wearing it for a variety of events.  Whether you’re going to a job interview, a business meeting or a wedding, this suit must transition effortlessly into each scenario.

So, what color suit should you buy first?  For most people, it’s a toss up between a solid charcoal and a solid navy suit. While a strong argument can be made for each suit, our personal preference is to start with a charcoal suit and add a navy suit second.

Our reasoning for this is simple. Not only is charcoal incredibly versatile, it also conveys the appearance of confidence, loyalty and strength making it a fundamental piece of your professional wardrobe. What makes charcoal so versatile is its ability to be dressed up or down with almost any color or pattern. Also charcoal matches beautifully with black, brown, burgundy, and chestnut shoes.

When it’s time to decide upon a particular fabric, our recommendation is to go with a classic sharkskin. The Sharkskin pattern is achieved by basket weaving darker threads with white thread thereby, giving it the impression of having a subtle two-toned appearance. Sharkskin is considered a solid, but its intricate weave gives the fabric more texture and dimension and ultimately makes it more interesting to the eye.

When you’re looking to dress the suit up for an important event, simply add a crisp white button down, a bold tie, and a black belt. For a more casual look, switch out the white shirt for a bold check and pair it with a canvas belt and open collar. Whether you are wearing a bold pattern, a heavy texture, or a basic solid, a charcoal suit will keep you looking dapper every step of the way.

Sonny BalaniCharcoal Suit vs. Navy Suit
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How to Upgrade Your Wardrobe for 2013

New Year New You JPG
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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Top Five Things to Look for in Your Custom Tailor


We break down the top five things that every custom tailor should have.

5. Custom experience. Your individual experience at a tailor shop is just as unique as the garment itself. The appointment should be relaxed and stress-free, with everything at your fingertips: fabric swatches, design examples, full-length mirrors and an expert tailor to guide you through the process.

4. Tradition of excellence. A great tailor should have a long-standing reputation of quality and craftsmanship, with a rich history in custom tailoring. Creating a hand-made custom suit requires a great deal of skill and client service that spans generations.

3. Awards and recognition. An excellent review from a publication or online review from a current client is one of the best testaments to a tailor shop’s expertise.

2. Outstanding client relationships. A custom tailor must understand your personal and professional goals, and then help you craft your style to achieve them. The best-dressed men in the world (e.g. Cary Grant, Sean Connery and George Clooney) always had a tailor close by who kept them looking sharp.

1. The finest quality. Nothing else matters unless you walk away wearing your new favorite suit. The best part about going custom is knowing that every detail of your wardrobe is perfectly hand-tailored—from the lining pattern to the thread color—for you and you alone.

Sonny BalaniTop Five Things to Look for in Your Custom Tailor
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How to Travel in Style: 5 Tips on Packing for a Trip

Photo: traveling in style
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 Plan Your Wardrobe

Planning your wardrobe for the future
Summer’s here, and with your winter gear pleasantly tucked away in the back of your closet, it’s the perfect time to plan your wardrobe for the fall.

What, too soon?  In reality, it’s not.  Planning your wardrobe a season ahead of time is essential for building your wardrobe and keeping up to date with the latest fashion trends.  Custom clothiers employ this practice perfectly.

This idea isn’t novel.  Think about it: fashion designers put out their spring collection in winter and their winter collection in spring.  This lets the industry (and the rest of us) know what’s “in” and what’s “out.”  It also gives us the opportunity to see if some of the clothes we haven’t worn in a while are back in style (sorry, ripped jeans are still not OK).

Once you do a little research as to what’s “in” for the season, then it’s time to find what inspires you.  Snap a photo of a jacket you like in a window display, or tear out a picture of a suit in a magazine that caught your eye.  Email these pictures to your tailors, and they can keep it on file for you. This will enable you and your tailor to design the perfect garment when the time comes to place an order.

Our recommendation for approaching pre-season shopping is to ask one question: What will I wear two or three months from now?  Start by consolidating what you currently own, then place an order for the missing pieces eight weeks before you plan on wearing the garment.  This means that you should purchase an overcoat in September to wear in December and a summer suit in March to wear in June.

Planning your wardrobe a season ahead of time will help keep your clothes feeling fresh and up-to-date.  Find upcoming styles you like, and rely on your tailor to incorporate them into your look.  After all, that’s what we’re here for.

Sonny BalaniHow To Plan Your Wardrobe
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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 Final Four: Best Dressed Coaches

Photo: Best Dressed Coaches

With March Madness upon us, we’ve all witnessed shocking upsets, unbelievable comebacks and tremendous efforts from teams trying to claim a coveted spot in the Final Four.  Keeping with the spirit of March Madness, we at Balani have dubbed our Final Four best dressed, basketball coaches in the NCAA.  What’d you expect?  We’re a custom clothier, not ESPN.

Coming in at number four, is U.N.C head coach, Roy Williams.  Frequently seen in a pinstripe suit, Carolina blue tie and white pocket square, Williams is rarely dressed in anything but his team’s colors.  Occasionally, you’ll even catch him wearing the famous Tar Heel pattern.  Fear the argyle, indeed.

Landing the number 3 spot on our list is Louisville coach, Rick Pitino.  If the Godfather gave up his life of crime and decided to coach college basketball, he would undoubtedly be Rick Pitino.  Having a fondness for bold pinstripe suits, red ties, white pocket squares and slicked back hair; Pitino’s suits are always tailored to perfection.   A little advice Pitino: leave the white suit.  Take the cannolis.

Upsetting Pitino for the number 2 spot is controversial Kentucky coach, John Calipari.  Despite his notoriously loud personality, Calipari has a conservative sense of style.  He is often seen wearing an expensive black suit, classic white shirt and Kentucky blue tie.  A firm believer in the phrase “dress for success,” Calipari criticized former Wildcat player, Dale Brown for wearing an electric blue suit, as a tribute to his former team.   Where’s the love, Calipari?  He must have left it in his other suit.

So who takes the number 1 spot?  Not that you had any doubt, but our winner is ever-modest (cough of sarcasm) Villanova coach, Jay Wright.  Don’t believe us?  Check out the article he wrote about himself: Jay Wright: Key to my Style: It’s gotta be the suit. A long time connoisseur of custom clothing, Wright has over 30 suits filling up two master closets.  His idea of dressing casual is wearing a three-piece suit instead of a tux.  A self-proclaimed fashion enthusiast, Wright believes in high-quality fabrics, impeccable fit and buttoning every button.

So the moral of the story is: It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, as long as you look good doing it.

Sonny BalaniThe Final Four: Best Dressed Coaches
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Suit Color Theory

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Suit Colors
In the professional world, the phrase dress for success is commonly utilized to signify the importance of suitable attire in the work place. It is common knowledge that what you wear speaks volumes about what kind of person you are and the level of success you have attained. What many fail to realize is that the color of your suit is as significant as brand, style, or cut.

Colorology, the science of color, explains how each color has a different energy and how those energies resonate with us in particular ways. For example, a vibrant red tie conveys power, wealth and strength. The same color principle applies to suits.

Typically, the darker the suit, the more authoritative and successful the person is perceived. Conveying a similar effect, bold stripes and patterns are associated with power and dominance.

With a variety of different hues and shades, a navy suit represents confidence, power, stability and trust. It is for this reason that bankers, politicians, and lawyers often gravitate toward this color. Navy is also a perfect color for a first interview.

Commonly associated with a sense of security and loyalty, charcoal is a customary choice for men who work with clients face-to-face. Representing authority without being overpowering, a medium charcoal suit is both strong and classic.

Brown or Earth tone suits portray a person as practical, smart, reliable and down-to-earth. Considered a less dominant color, brown suits are appropriate for small business meetings with co-workers or clients.

Regardless of what color suit you prefer, make sure you know which shade work best for you and the setting you are in.

Sonny BalaniSuit Color Theory
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Swimming with Sharks

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sharkskin brad pittNo, this isn’t a discovery channel special. I’m talking about the dapper professional who wants to step outside of his generic wardrobe. Solid and pinstriped suits? We all have them. So dive in and try something new for fall: The Sharkskin suit.

Technically speaking, a Sharkskin is a worsted wool (meaning that the yarn is tightly twisted, making it more durable) in a twill or basket weave (probably the weave of your solid suit) woven with two different colored threads. But really, what is a Sharkskin?

Think of a solid suit in your closet. Now, think of that same fabric with intrigue. That intrigue I’m referring to is the two-tone effect, the trademark of a Sharkskin. By weaving together the two different yarns, the resulting appearance is a dangerously handsome fabric that has serious depth.

Keep it subtle by finding a fabric with less contrast between the threads. If you want the perfect fall suit, albeit slightly more casual: think chocolate brown with a lighter brown. Perhaps you want to be that stand-out professional: think dark navy with a light blue. Or maybe you’re the gentleman wanting that classic Sharkskin: don’t think…but know it’s a great white with black that creates the quintessential grey suit.

Sonny BalaniSwimming with Sharks
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