The adventure in menswear continues. Several weeks ago, my friend Adam asked me what types of shoes he would wear with a tuxedo. I did a lot of research, and was fascinated to learn all about monkstraps. These are dress shoes that fasten with a strap and buckle. Some have two buckles (double monks) and others have a single fastening.
I think hardware closures are so interesting on clothing and shoes. Aside from it being an interesting combination of materials, buckle fastenings make the shoe sleeker. There are no obnoxious laces to deal with or detract from the quality of the leather. Monkstraps are definitely a shoe that will turn my head.
I was scurrying to work in Manhattan on a blusteringly windy, cold day this week. I pulled the hood of my jacket up. I’d also forgotten my sunglasses in my car that morning. I tried my best to not directly look at the sun. Since I was looking at the pavement, I noticed someone wearing a really great pair of monkstrap shows. A great pair of shoes always makes my heart skip a beat, but it was especially great to see a beautiful pair of men’s shoes. I had to pay the wearer a compliment!
Double monks in ox blood leather by Mezlan.
That’s how I met Choy, a financial advisor for Ernst & Young. As I talked to him about his shoes, I couldn’t help but notice what a superb dresser he was. We chatted briefly, and he agreed to let me interview him about his styles. He was kind enough to take me to some of his favorite places to shop, and share some advice on style. Here are my notes:
- Dare to be different: It’s important to personalize your look. This can be difficult to do in corporate culture. Suits and ties are necessary. But dress codes don’t mean you have to look generic. Try selecting an unusual print for a tie. Spice things up by pairing interesting color combinations with your shirt and tie. A variety of colors and textures within your suit, shirt, and tie is a great way to show your personality while looking professional. Pair a lavender herringbone twill shirt with a bold royal purple tie. Don’t be afraid of mixing and matching. Just determine which colors and patterns work for you. Thomas Pink offers some high quality shirts in interesting fabrics. The fit is also very precise, because the measurement for the arms is only one size (34 versus 34/35).
- Accessorize: Great style is all in the details. This rule applies to everyone. Ties, cufflinks, belts, briefcases – whatever your signature accessory is, buy the best you can afford. Accessories tend to last much longer, because they don’t receive the same vigorous wear and tear as garments. High quality accessories will make any suit look polished. They are a great avenue to introducing bold pops of color. We spent some time discussing ties. A wider tie tends to be more traditional, while a skinnier tie is contemporary and fun.
While discussing ties, he also mentioned the importance of matching cufflinks. So elegant! Just remember, cufflinks require french cuff shirts. French cuffs are twice as long as normal barrel cuffs, so they can be folded back and secured with the cufflink. Traditional barrel cuffs close with a button.
- Befriend an expert tailor: Fit is everything. Buying clothes off the rack has certain limitations. This is because of the production process. Garments are based off of the proportions of a fit model, who is selected because they have the ideal proportions of the company’s target demographic. That is why sizes vary from brand to brand. Yet even when you find a brand that caters to your body type, alterations may be needed. Having an expert tailor is really critical to ensuring that your clothes fit your body properly. We took a walk over to Imparali Custom Tailors, Choy’s tailor of choice.
I absolutely loved this company. A family owned operation, Imparali will expertly tailor and promptly finish pieces from your wardrobe. But the best part is they can custom make anything your heart desires. If you’ve read my blog before, you know how much I love custom made garments. (New to my site? Please read all about The Stieg Collection, a wonderful project I’m working on).
Imparali Custom Tailors has operated since 1967. They have excellent relationships with the world’s best textile mills. They source their fabrics from mills primarily in England and Italy, and have over 10,000 fabric samples. I could have stayed for hours, pouring over the sample books. Imparali offers very impressive fabric quality. Several of their suppliers also produce fabrics for Valentino.
Matt Harpalani explained how his father started the business. They are passionate about offering the highest quality garments. After taking the client’s measurements and selecting fabrics, the garments are made in workshop. Imparali own their own factory, so they can carefully monitor the quality of each item. No garment is ever sent to a third party contractor.
There were so many fabrics to chose from! No detail is left unnoticed when Imparali makes your clothes. You can select fabrics in different weights that are appropriate for suiting, lining, shirts, and trim. I was quite taken with some of the collar lining fabrics (above).
After looking at all the fabric, the inevitable happened. I started dreaming up my own wardrobe. While Imparali doesn’t make women’s clothing, they allow you to purchase yardage of the sumptuous textiles. I’m definitely planning to place a few orders so I can make something myself. The fabrics below are on my wish list:
Special thanks to Choy for allowing me to interview him.
Images courtesy of Thomas Pink (1155 Avenue of the Americas, New York City) and Imparali Custom Tailors (608 Fifth Avenue, New York City)