Rips, Suits, & Get Your Shine Box – The Mailbag

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Some questions are better answered publicly since others might be asking the same thing, or, one of you has the perfect answer. If you’ve got a style tip, question, or anything else you’d like to pass along, you can send those in here. If you’d rather your question not be featured in a future mailbag, just go ahead and say so in your email. Feel free to hit the comments with other options for answers to this most recent batch of questions. Top Photo Credit:  Tracy O.


Q: Suits & Seasonal Fabrics. What to wear when?

What suit during what season? Answered in The Mailbag on

I’m attending a friend’s wedding coming up in April and I always feel hesitant to try something new because I don’t know if the outfit or colors would be appropriate for that time of year. Which types of suits can be worn at only specific times of the year (ie. seasons), when it comes to color, material, etc.?  – Jeremy

There are two factors in play here: Style & Comfort. Yet the style of a certain suit is often based on the comfort it delivers depending on the weather. Heavy tweeds and flannels (like the navy flannel above left) are fall/winter specific not just because they look good, but because you’d boil in them if the temps were over 70. Lighter fabrics like linen and seersucker (above right), especially in lighter shades, not only look “right” in the spring & summer, but they feel the best during those times because they’re designed to keep you cool. Summer is also when the more casual clothes come out, and therefore, fabrics that wrinkle easily are more accepted then. April is sorta no-man’s land. Too springy for a winter suit, but not summery enough for seersucker or an all linen. So, wear the most versatile suit possible (yes, even more versatile than navy)… a mid to light grey standard wool or worsted with a breathable lining. Like this $399 from Suitsupply.


Q: Getting bored with super-casual workplace attire

Dressing for the dressed down workplace on

I just got a new job and with it, a new dress code. I’m coming from a business casual work environment and going into a pure casual one (California tech company). I’m struggling to adapt to this new environment and find myself wearing Jcrew button downs, Levi 511s and chukka boots everyday day. Any suggestions on how to bring some variety into my work outfits?  – Jonathan

When it comes to dressing “up” at a dressed down workplace, consider a one in one out rule. Meaning: If you work a more dressed-up piece into an outfit, switch out something else for an even more casual option. Chukkas + jeans + chino blazer = too fancy-pants? Ditch the chukkas for Chucks. As in Chuck Taylors, or some other casual sneaker. Want to wear wool trousers? Pair it with a polo instead of a pressed shirt. And embrace your “rumpled” side. The more dressed up a piece, the more dressed down the fabric. Want to wear a tie? Keep it knit, on top of a casual patterned shirt (like gingham) and roll your sleeves up. Wear a dinner jacket & bowtie with pajama bottoms.*


Q: Why do my dress-shirt elbows keep ripping?

Elbow problems

I seem to have a problem of my shirt elbows failing on me just about every year to two years. It’s now happened with dress shirts and several sweaters. I have an athletic build, slightly longer than average arms, and a medium, 16 neck 34/35 sleeve fits fine… until the elbow suddenly rips. It also happens on shirts of varying quality and varies among both left and right arms – surprisingly, a 3 year old OCBD from Old Navy has outlasted a 1 year old of the same from Jos. A. Bank. What the heck is going on? – Eric

You are hereby diagnosed with “Broker’s Elbow“. The term allegedly comes from business men who spend a lot of time at their desks working the phones (btw, Coffee is for closers only), and it’s not that uncommon. In this millennium, it’s probably caused more by mouse-heavy desk jobs (graphics, electronic media editing, etc…) where the worker (in this case, Eric) grinds his shirt elbows into a pulp over the day. A few suggestions: By shirts with a larger arm circumference so the blade of your elbow isn’t digging into taught fabric, roll up your sleeves when at your desk, or wear sportcoats with elbow patches. But the best option? Buy or create a standing desk. You’ll be less likely to put your elbows on the desk top. That, and there are plenty of other benefits.


Q: Getting into the Navy Blazer Game

Getting into the Navy Blazer game on

If I’m looking to make my first splash into the navy blazer game, do you have any immediate reactions for a default, go-to, if-you-could-only-have-one-make-it-this-one versatile blazer? (maybe a $150 option + a $250 option) – Hal

The Super 130s  Ludlow Navy Sportcoat. But they don’t make it anymore. DAMMIT. Out of many, that one is a personal favorite. If I could have only one? How about… two? A cotton in the $150 range, and a wool in the $250 range? Can we make that compromise? Right now, for cotton: The Banana Republic Tailored Fit “sateen” blazer. But it’s rarely on sale, and at $198 it’s a little steep. Be patient though, and you should be able to get it for around $120 – $140. For wool: ??  Guys? Need a little help here. What’s the best bang for the buck wool blazer out there right now? Got this Abboud in Super 120s on the way for an in person. It drops to $223.92 w/ the 20% off if you haven’t already signed up for the Amazon email list. Other suggestions for Hal? Let’s hear em’ in the comments section.


Q: In need of the “perfect” gym duffle.

Herschel Gym Bag on

I need a gym bag. I’m determined to start working out more regularly and consistently but with my work schedule I know the best plan is to hit the gym near my office first thing in the morning, get cleaned up, and be in the office still earlier than most people. My preference is a bag that has a separate compartment for gym shoes and sweaty clothes, can be easily washed so it never smells, and won’t look like I stole a 12 year old’s gym bag. Does what I am looking for exist? – Jon

First bag that comes to mind when Jon said “separate compartment for gym shoes” is the Herschel Novel (above, in canvas, for $109.99), but that one is “Fully lined with our signature coated poly fabric.” Probably smell/moisture resistant, but maybe not ideal. Consider the $95 Beckel Kit Bag? Description says “Five inside storage pockets and one full length pocket accessible from outside with its own zipper .” Not sure how roomy that full length pocket is, but the bag is a good size at 14″ x 17″ x 23″.


Q: Looking to buy a shoe polish kit

Talking shoe polish kits on

Now that I’ve aquired a few pairs of dress shoes worth taking good care of, I need the tools and supplies to do so. Any advice on shoe shine kits? – Zach

Two kits come to mind…  Brooks Brothers sells a pricey cedar shoe valet w/ some supplies inside, and keep your fingers crossed for Bespoke Post to bring back their “Polished” kit. For $45, it’s tough to beat the Bespoke Post option, but there’s no indication that it’s coming back. Other than that, it’s probably best to assemble your own, based on your needs. Start with:

  • A good horse hair brush (ships free via AE)
  • Two Daubers, one for black, one for browns (also ships free via AE)
  • And whatever shades of shoe cream (cream = a conditioner with some dye in it, but doesn’t give you quite the shine that “polish” does) that match your shoes. Try Meltonian. Easy to work with, and brings out a nice shine once you buff em’ up.

Other than that, just save your old worn out socks, gym towels that have seen better days, etc. for polishing cloths… and aside from newspaper to lay down over your work space, you’re set. The fancy pants box (of which you can, in fact, go home and getnsfw language) can come later. The one seen above was a gift from Mrs. Dappered.

Got a question or a style tip? Send them to Additional answers to the above questions can go in the comments. 

*Don’t do this.