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Caring For Mens Formal Wear

Posted on October 19, 2014 by Wendy Gomersall | 0 comments

Like owning a pet, purchasing mens formal wear comes with responsibility. If you want to get your money’s worth and look as great each time you wear it as you did first time on, then you need to take care of your suit, tux, dress shirt, etc.

Jackets should be hung on shaped wooden hangers to avoid crease lines and to maintain a good shape to the shoulders. When hanging, cotton garment bags or covers should be used to allow the fabric to breathe, prevent moisture build-up, stop dust marks on the shoulders and to help keep critters out. Keeping cedar chips in the wardrobe will also repel moths and moisture.

Remember to brush off any superficial dirt and gently dab off minor stains with a soft damp cloth before hanging your suit.

Follow the manufacturers care instructions for all your garments. If it says don’t dry clean, then guess what, don’t dry clean! Traditionally dress shirts were laundered using starch on the bib front, collar and cuffs, but good quality modern formal shirts tend to be dry cleanable. Avoid dry cleaning your suits, whether formal or business, too often as this will shorten their lifespan. If you have been in a smoky, smelly environment, you can usually air them before hanging to remove the odours.

Any creases can be removed by a gentle steaming – home steamers can be a good investment. But a great tip for removing creases when travelling (or even at home) it to hang the garment in the bathroom while you take your shower.

If you don’t wear your dress shoes very often, store them in cotton bags.  This will allow them to breathe and keep them dust free. A cedar shoe tree is also an inexpensive investment to maintain the shape of your shoes and remove any excess moisture.

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What are Cravats?

Posted on October 12, 2014 by Wendy Gomersall | 0 comments

The Cravat

Cravats have their roots in history rather than modern fashion. The cravat is the forerunner to today’s mens ties.  Originating in Croatia and adopted by the French, who switched from wearing stiff linen ruffs to the softer, looser neckwear favoured by the Croatian military.

Traditionally a narrow length of white linen decorated with lace, a fringe, or knotted tassels, the cravat was worn wrapped about the throat and loosely tied in front.  Nowadays however cravats come in all sorts of colours, but when coloured cravats were first introduced they were said to depict certain things.  For example blue was for calmness and black was – not unsurprisingly – for mourning.  Red signified love or rage – one would want to be sure which emotion that wearer was expressing!

Popular through the ages the cravat has had many incarnations and has seen a recent revival for everyday wear by MasterChef judge, Matt Preston.  However the most popular use of cravats in today’s society is to lend an elegant touch to the groom’s outfit.

For wedding cravats, muted colours are more popular – greys, ivory, silver, black or white.  However they look fabulous in antique gold or burgundy.  And can, of course, be matched to the colour of the bridesmaids’ dresses.

While cravats are now available ready-tied with adjustable neck bands, the original cravat can either be worn informally or with a formal cravat pin. To tie, drape the cravat around your neck and cross the long end over the short. Take the longer end back underneath and pass back through the loop. Fold the longer end over the knot and pass over again or fold down and fasten with your cravat pin.

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Surviving The School Formal

Posted on August 17, 2014 by Wendy Gomersall | 0 comments


School FormalA little like weddings – in fact probably more so than weddings – the school formal tends to be dominated by the girls in the fashion arena. Hundreds of dollars are spent on dresses, hair and make-up.  Not to mention the once uber-cool stretch limo.

While in many ways the school formal Australian style is a seen as an adoption of the American “prom” it does have more in common with the English style formal events, no not the stuffy “coming out balls” of yesteryear, but the more contemporary celebrations held today.

And while the girls agonize over their dresses, the young men can be left in a daze of perfume and lace.

But boys, this is your time to shine. Get it right and, rather than damaging your street cred, your reputation will blossom. But get it wrong and it may come back to haunt you.

There are a couple of important tips to getting it right.  First of all, don’t try and outshine the girls, it just can’t be done. Stay away from the lurid colours or the white tuxedo. Go with stylish and sleek. And secondly don’t dress beyond your years, you don’t want to end up looking like your dad.

The boys generally wear a dinner jacket (tuxedo) or a suit and mens tie. Stay away from white tie, it is really too formal for this type of event. In fact I would stay away from tailcoats altogether, they cry out "old school" rather than school formal. A black dinner suit with a white shirt and deep red bow tie looks great. Another look that is particularly good on a young man is a collarless jacket.

A dark shirt looks great under a dark vest and jacket, but lighten the look with your tie. Say a silver, dove grey or purple tie.

Or maybe go for a black suit and shirt, with a coloured vest and matching tie, again purple works well or even deep red if you are feeling bold. Otherwise silver is a safe but classy option.

I would suggest renting a suit rather than buying for a school formal, as there is generally a little more growing to do. But it can be a great taste of things to come, and getting it right now will give a young man confidence later in life.

And don’t neglect your shoes and socks, it would be a shame to get the rest of the outfit right and bomb out with daggy shoes and flouro socks.

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The Formal Shirt

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Wendy Gomersall | 0 comments
Mens Wear

Mens formal wear has certainly evolved over the years and the formal shirt is no exception. From its original construction in a tunic style with a detachable collar and cuffs, to the contemporary turn-down collar style.

Often mistakenly called wing-tip shirts (confused with wing-tip shoes I guess), wing collar shirts are favoured by barristers. However, their popularity as formalwear declined when the dinner jacket replaced the tailcoat as the norm for evening wear. And the detachable wing collar is a rarity now.

Todays formal shirts tend to have either a turn-down collar or a built in wing collar.  Some prefer the turn-down variety as these hide the neckband of the bow tie. Either style is acceptable today.

Formal shirts can be plain or pique.  Pique relates to the weave of the shirt – the finer the pique the more elegant the shirt.  The most popular pique weave is birdseye (or Marcella) which has a fine diamond pattern.  The front panel of the shirt can be pleated or plain. True pleated shirts really look the part, however you can also buy shirts with the pleats woven in. These are great alternative for men who need to wear the shirts regular, say as part of a uniform, as they are much easier to launder.

Cufflinks are an essential finishing touch to mens formal wear.  And studs are an optional extra.  But visible buttons really are a no-no.  If you don’t want to wear shirt studs, then select a formal shirt that has concealed buttons.

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So, what IS a fatboy tie?

Posted on July 11, 2014 by Wendy Gomersall | 0 comments

This type of fat boy probably has little interest to Harley Davidson enthusiasts, and has much more to do with mens formal fashion.

Where the name came from I really don’t know, but fat boy (or fatboy) ties have really taken off in recent years as an alternative to a cravat or regular tie at weddings. You can buy them “untied” or “pre-tied” with matching adjustable neckbands.


The knot of a fat boy is looser and longer and the body of the tie is lavish. Satin, silk or tapestry-style fabrics are perfect. A talented dressmaker could make one to match the bridesmaid dresses or you can buy them in myriad colours. 
Worn with a matching or contrasting vest a fat boy tie lends an air of elegance without the formality of the cravat.

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