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Clothing Storage

Talking about how to store clothing is definitely unsexy, but it’s important when you invest thousands of dollars into a wardrobe. Storing clothes properly can be the difference between buying dress shirts every year or owning button-ups that last for decades.

First, not every piece of clothing should be stored in the same way. Your clothes can be roughly divided into two storage categories: clothes that should be hung up, and clothes that should be store folded (or laid flat).

Let’s begin with clothes that are hung: your closets should be filled with your outerwear, button-up shirts, blazers, suits, trousers (especially wool trousers) and polo shirts. With these pieces, hanging can actually help smooth out wrinkles, helping avoid time spent ironing and steaming.

What’s key is to never hang anything that’s knit and has some stretch to the body (for example a sweaters): as the garment hangs, gravity will pull it downwards and the shoulders will stretch, leaving unsightly and unfortunately permanent dimples.

Hanger choice is important too. For blazers, outerwear and suits, look for contoured (curved) hangers with large, gnarled shoulders, that are large enough to extend to the edge of shoulder of the garment. These types of hangers will mimic your shoulder, filling up the shoulder area, and prevent the jackets from drooping, which can stretch the fabric and ruin the shoulder line. With shirts and polos, make sure the hangers are again long enough, extending to the shoulder seam, and have enough heft to support the weight of the collar. As far as hanger material, wooden is the nicest, but well-produced and substantial plastic hangers can also work. To quote Joan Crawford, no wire hangers.

While casual chinos and pants can be folded, dress trousers, especially those with a crease, should be hung. Trouser hangers come in two designs: a flat bar, which the trouser is folded over, or two clips, which attach to the bottom of the cuff, allowing the trouser to fall straight. The latter have the advantage of holding in a crease, while the former take up less horizontal space. High-end pants hangers have a velvet or foam padding to help prevent wrinkling.

The rest of your clothing, and especially your knits, should be folded and stored flat. Folding knitwear prevents it from stretching, and is key to protecting knitwear and ensuring it will fit well for years to come. While folding clothing isn’t difficult, there are steps you can take to protect your folded clothes. If you’re putting clothing away for a season – for example heavy sweaters as the weather warms up – you can store them in sealed plastic bags to protect them from damage and keep dust away. If you plan on storing clothing for a long period of time, consider tossing in a cedar plank, which will drive away any musty smell and keep your clothing smelling fresh.

No Shortage of Choices

“The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”

- Galileo Galilei

There are times, often in the summer months, when I take in the sun and warmth around me and feel quite like the grapes that Galileo describes. And on those occasions, when seemingly everything feels right, I blindly choose from my small yet personalized wardrobe, and know that whatever I throw on my top and bottom will suit me just fine.

But this confidence hasn’t come easily. It’s only of late that I’ve grown my shorts collection and built what I believe to be best suited for me. And this was no easy task because as you may or may not know, when it comes to shorts, particularly fabrics and patterns, there is no shortage of choice.

Today we’ll explore some, not all, of our options:

Seersucker Shorts

Seersucker, the fabric, has a long and troubled past and while you won’t find them in my closet, seersucker shorts definitely have a place in the closets of others, including, perhaps, even yours. Why?

Well, let’s begin the discussion on why seersucker might work for you by dispelling some myths on why it won’t work for you.

For starters, seersucker, despite what is often popularized, is not an elitist and/or preppy fabric. In fact, seersucker was only adopted by preppy Americans as a form of “reverse snobbery” and the fabric was actually initially embraced by poorer Americans. Thus, for those of you who cast aside the fabric because of this stereotype, think again and give seersucker another look because the virtues of the fabric are varied. For instance, on extraordinarily warm, humid days, seersucker might be a good “go-to” given its extremely light weight, breathability, and weave, which allows it to not stick to skin and other surfaces, despite the heat and stickiness. Furthermore, if you want a fabric that is easy to wash and maintain, seersucker is an excellent choice because, again, as a result of its weave, it does not need to ironed. And finally, if you’re looking for a fabric that can be both playful and neutral, seersucker offers a good alternative because even within seersucker, the patterns and colors vary, allowing one to choose from something as vibrant as pink seersucker sorts to something as mundane as navy seersucker, which, depending on the exact pattern, can become more and more subtle over time.

Patchwork Chino Shorts

Unlike seersucker, “patchwork” is not a fabric and a pattern, it’s simply a pattern, or more accurately, a style. And though there appears to be very little that the name, Patchwork Chino, leaves to the imagination patchwork chinos actually vary greatly. That is, of course, because of the choice of fabric patches that, in aggregate, comprise the chino can vary so greatly.

These chinos tend to be more daring, but with more risk often comes more reward and, if you find a pair that catches your eye, we suggest that you take the plunge and pick it up. In fact, patchwork chino shorts are less of a splurge buy than one would typically imagine and one shouldn’t fret about finding a shirt that will match. Neutral colored tops generally fit the bill and pairing the two together typically leads to an outfit that looks quite tidy, preventing any naysayers from poking holes in your choice.

Chambray Shorts

Like seersucker, chambray is a fabric, and like seersucker, chambray is often, in effect, treated like its own “pattern.” But the similarities between seersucker and chambray don’t end there. Both fabrics are also lightweight and breathable too, making them each attractive options in hot weather climates and situations.

However, the similarities end there. Chambray shorts, like their chambray shirt brethren, are made from lightweight cloths, densely woven with white and indigo yarn in shades that range from blue to red to dark gray. And, like their chambray shirt relatives, chambray shorts are extremely durable, often start off rough, perhaps even a bit rigid, and break in beautifully, softening over time.

Furthermore, chambray frequently have an Irish-linen-esque sheen to it. But that sheen wanes over time as the garment becomes less “new” and more “you.”

As a result the way they wear and the way they feel and look, it’s safe to say, chambray shorts are extraordinarily versatile. And all things considered, they are a fantastic addition to anyone’s wardrobe and an investment worth making.

“Miles to go before I sleep…”

While we covered three less talked about, yet very versatile fabrics and patterns that you should strongly consider when making your next shorts purchase, we haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to the choices that you have when shopping for shorts. There are linen, madras, bermuda, club, canvas, houndstooth, glencheck, and so many more types to choose from.

So, get shopping and as always, keep your mind and checkbook open.

The Smaller Details In Quality

wednesday at 07:28 am
THE SMALLER DETAILS IN QUALITY

If you’ve been paying attention to men’s clothing for any period of time, you’re probably well acquainted with how to look for quality. Suits should be half- or fully-canvassed; shoes should be made from full grain leathers; and when possible, shirts should have mother of pearl buttons, rather than plastic ones (although vintage-style plastic buttons do add a nice touch). These, however, are just the basics.

For a closer look at quality, you’ll want to look at some of the smaller details. For example, in shirts and pants, see if the seams were made with a high stitch-count.Sewing machines are timed by how many stitches they can produce per minute, which means if a cheap shirt is banged out as fast as possible, it will have a low number of stitches per inch. This not only detracts from the look, but it also makes the seam less durable.

There’s a right and wrong way to examine stitch counts, however. High-end dress shirts have collars and cuffs that are meant to be replaced over time, so these parts are usually attached with a low number of stitches in order to aid the disassembly process. Instead of looking there, check the side seams. If these are neatly and finely sewn, you’re likely holding something of good quality.

Similarly, see if the side seams were made with a single needle stitch, instead of a double needle one. Single needle stitches have one row of stitching visible from the outside (rather than two). This gives you a cleaner and neater appearance, and more importantly, ensures that the side seams won’t pucker over time. They do take more time to execute, however, which is why you typically only see them on high-end garments.

Additionally, for pants, look for bar tacks, which are closely spaced stitches that form a small “bar” or “band.” These are used to help reinforce areas of high stress, in order to ensure that they won’t rip. On well-made pants, you typically find these around the pocket openings or zippered areas. And although they’re not easily seen from the outside, you may want to look for waistbands made with a high-quality canvas ban roll. These form the “guts” of the waistband, and with a good material inside, the waistband will be more comfortable to wear.

It’s important to note, these are just guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Quality can often be very dependent on the designer’s intentions and consumer’s preferences. For example, take pattern matching, where you generally want patterns to match up across panels and seams. High-end garments often have their patterns matched, unless the designer purposely skews a pattern for visual effect. Then all the “rules” are thrown out the window. Similarly, while high stitch-counts are good, pick stitches are done with a low stitch-count, and are valued because of the handwork they require. Not all details on a garment can be read off in a simple way, but at least now you know what details to look for.

The Short Version

THE SHORT VERSION
Shorts…men like Tom Ford and GQ’s Glenn O’Brien tend to avoid them, but personally, I find myself waiting with great anticipation for those warm, sticky summer days, when shorts are just about the only appropriate way to cover one’s bottom. And who knows, maybe I’m just longing for greener pastures, particularly given that it’s expected to snow today, but recently, my desire to sport some shorts has grown exponentially and I find myself mulling over the topic on the reg.

But up until a few years ago, though I looked forward to summer and my shorts wearing days with the same anticipation as I do today, when those days used to arrive, I found myself overcome with stress. I never quite knew if I was wearing the “right” shorts in the right fabric, in the right color, and of the right length, at the right time. But since that time, I’ve gotten things sorted out, and am always learning things along the way. Over the next few days, I’ll provide a little “short” guide to “shorts” and I hope in return, whether through Twitter or Facebook, you will drop a little of your knowledge on us as well. Though we love to impart our knowledge, we love to expand it just as much.

FROM 5 INCHES TO JUST ABOVE THE KNEE: WHERE SHOULD MY SHORTS START AND STOP

First things first: shorts are not pants and pants are not shorts. I know, that seems like a stupid thing to say, but the point is, it’s important to know that when you throw on some shorts, you are making the conscious decision to accept and embrace both the benefits and shortcomings of shorts (pardon the pun).

One of those tradeoffs is that when you wear shorts, you will show some leg. So, when you throw some shorts on, be mentally committed to showing some leg and please, by all means, do not try to avoid this by hanging your shorts them halfway down your arse. No one wants to see your undies and regardless if your legs are toned, tan, smooth, or hairy, be proud of what you got and we assure you that you are your own harshest critic.

Now that we have those things aside, on to the particulars:

The Rise

Just when you thought that you had gotten past all of that “rise” stuff when you left the world of pants for the world of shorts, you see that pesky little term once more, “rise.” Yup, rise matters and rise differs even in the shorts world.

But, the benefit of having to deal with the concept of rise when shopping for pants is that you can pretty much use most, if not all, of what you learned about rise and pants and apply it to shorts. That’s because, shorts, like pants, come in different rises the application of rise, with respect to shorts, is no different either. The primary difference being that in the men’s shorts world, while you will be able to find shorts of high rise, medium rise, and low rise variety, shorts of the high rise variety are few and far between. And, when shopping for shorts, you are less likely to find explicit mention of shorts’ rise.

Thus, often times, the best way to find out what you’re working with is to try it on. And much the same way that your size may vary depending on rise when buying pants, be mindful that the same may hold true when purchasing shorts.

However, one thing you don’t need to worry about is that, aside from golf shorts, shorts are thought of as more casual items (though not always the case), and unlike the distinctions and impressions people have about the differences between low rise and medium rise pants, people tend not to draw those same “formal” versus “informal” lines when differentiating between low and medium rise shorts. It’s all kind of the same to the masses, so focus on comfort and overall fit/look when deciding between low rise and medium rise shorts.

The Inseam

So this is where I used to get really tripped up. Do I want shorts with a 5 inch inseam, 7 inch inseam, 9 inch inseam? And then I learned: 1) inseam in isolation (i.e. without consideration of rise), means little if anything and 2) there is no right answer.

I will admit that I, along with many others, do adhere to the one almost universally agreed upon truth about shorts: shorts should ideally sit a few inches above the knee. But other than that, the only person who can really judge if 2 inches higher above the knee is 2 inches too much (difference between 5 and 7 inches in my case), is me.

And guess what? That answer isn’t static either. Sometimes, 7 inches feels just a bit too long for the look that I’m going for, and other times, 5 inches is a bit too short.

Ultimately, there are no rules to live by, except for the “universal truth” and aside from comfort and quality, I personally think about what would I wear these with too. But the beauty of it is, you don’t have to. There is no golden ticket.

Frankly, if I can comfortably sit in them, pair them with other stuff in my closet, and I’m not exposing the world to anything that I don’t want them to be exposed to, then frankly, that’s the long and short of it.

I’m sold.

What’s A Chino?

Spring is here, and that means it’s time to shift away from heavyweight denim towards lighter weight trousers or, in many cases, chinos. But what’s a chino? And where did they come from?


While today the word “chino” has become interchangeable with trousers or khakis, the word itself has a specific connotation rooted in the history of the West. Beginning in the 1800s, the British military was interested in finding new, hardwearing fabrics to replace the traditional heavyweight wools that had been used in military uniforms up to that point. At the same time, Western imperialism was reaching its’ peak. In a quest for more natural resources to fuel industrialization, and amid concerns about territorial expansion, America and Western European nations began gobbling up foreign territories, transforming them into colonial acquisitions tethered to the mother country.

A key target amid this landgrab was China. European missionaries first entered China in the 1500s, hoping to convert the native population to Christianity, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that internal crises among the ruling Qing dynasty allowed the intrusion of Western powers. Forcing the Chinese government into unequal treaties after several military victories, England secured access to Hong Kong and other Chinese ports, allowing trade between other British colonial conquests and China to begin.

Among these trade goods was a new, rugged cotton fabric that was well-suited to military uses. Simple, comfortable and breathable, the fabric was dyed in earth tones, and blended into natural landscapes better than the traditional bright wool trouser colors in a primitive example of catalogue. Soldiers, enamored of the fabric, called it “chino,” based on its national origins in China.

Two hundred years later, chinos are appealing for the same reasons, and the fabric name has become synonymous with the pant itself. They’re comfortable, they wear well, and they’re easy to dress up and down – equally at home with a t-shirt as they are with a tucked in shirt. While traditionally chinos were produced in a range of tan, brown and green fabrics, today they can found in virtually any color, and can add an exciting pop to otherwise dull outfit.

Too Tough For Its Own Good

I was first introduced to cufflinks when I was 12 years old. I had bought a dress shirt from Brooks Brothers and, instead of having button cuffs, this shirt had two weird rod like fabric objects that felt smooth and looked cool, but didn’t seem to be of any use. So, I threw away the two “rod like fabric objects” and when it came time to wear the shirt, quickly realized what cufflinks were and the function they serve.

Since that time, I developed a healthy dose of respect and a good deal of fascination for and joy of them. They are a great way to add fun to an outfit that could otherwise be so formal and they’ve got a history that even Ben Stein couldn’t transform into a boring lecture. Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

Today, cufflinks are not thought of as the “everyman’s” accessory. They are thought of as a luxury good that only the rich, famous, and fashion conscious bunch wear. But cufflinks were actually popularized in the 19th century as the aristocratic classes were losing their power and there was a newly created, and quickly growing, middle to upper working, class. These “everymen” wore suits, ties, and heavily, heavily starched shirts, everyday, to work but soon discovered that there was a problem with this uniform, specifically these heavily starched shirts. The shirts were so starched that the cuffs couldn’t be held together, or “buttoned together,” by a button. And thus the cufflink was born.

But at first, though not just for the elite, cufflinks were still only worn by the middle and upper class working population. Plus, at first, cufflinks were boring. They were one color, plain, did the job but didn’t make any hearts beat faster. etc. But as a result of the whole industrial manufacturing boom, and the spread of mass production techniques in general, cufflinks became accessible at all price points, and to everyone. They then took off and became the norm for a good period of time. Furthermore, the Prince of Wales began wearing colored cufflinks, and even cufflinks with gemstones. And so began the cufflink’s wild ride, with the 1920s being one of the most epic times for those in the cufflink world.

But the wild ride came to a halt in the 1970s, when cufflinks just didn’t fit into the wardrobes or lifestyles of the trendmakers of the generation. And since that time, cufflinks have become more prevalent, but have been more closely associated with “traditional values and beliefs.”

Today, this anti-everyman sentiment is still largely felt by most people, and that is a disservice to us all because in my opinion, not only do they have a fascinating past, they are also a great way to add fun to an outfit that can be so formal. A great way to color outside the lines without even trying to.

Here Comes The Sun

For much of the country, the winter was long and hard. But things are finally starting to look up. The sun is shining, temperatures are above freezing on a regular basis, co-workers’ moods may have significantly improved, and summer is all too near. Who knows, you may even be changing along with these other welcome changes. Perhaps you are even feeling a bit more whimsical and carefree.

However, for many of us, between the hours of 9-5, we have to hide our newly whimsical and carefree selves in workplaces that don’t quiet appreciate our enthusiasm for life.

But don’t despair. This week we’ve got some tips for you if you want to color outside of the lines without drawing any unwanted attention and today we’ll highlight one of my favorite ways to rebel against the man.

HAPPY FEET

Back when I was an Excel jockey by day and PowerPoint monkey by night, whenever I felt like just another cog in the system, I would lift up my pant legs and check out my socks. Yup, my socks. And though it wouldn’t change what time I was getting home that night or how much my job sucked, it breathed some life into me, if even only for an hour or two. Why?

Because my socks were everything that I wasn’t at the time - unique - and they were as far as I was allowed to rebel against the powers that held me captive. So, my feet became my sanctuary, my happy place. And my socks became my artwork.

And while I didn’t become an “art snob,” my socks had to have some key, basic elements:

- a full, internal cuff rib to prevent me from having to bend down and pull my socks up all day long
- at a minimum, a double twist cotton yarn for added durability and luxuriousness
- the contoured heel to reduce that pesky slippage

But aside from these relatively basic requirements, anything went and the crazier the pattern, the better, and I built quite the collection of “art.”

Big dots, small dots, stripes of all colors and widths, squares, animals, and….the pair that caused me to slow my roll…camo patterned socks. Yup, camo patterned socks.

And sure, that my seem like a crazy bunch of socks that you’d never buy, but I did love and still do love my collection and that’s all that matters. In fact, that’s kinda the point. Your socks are one of the few pieces of clothing that can be all about you and all for you. They can remind you that despite what it may seem, there is a unique individual underneath your otherwise uncontroversial uniformish type attire. And so even though your job might suck, you don’t, and your socks don’t need to either.

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Less Understood Fibers

Plant and animal fibers are the building blocks of clothing. They’re what yarns are spun from, and subsequently what fabrics and ultimately clothes are made out of. With certain yarns, we get certain properties. Cotton and linen tend to be lightweight and breathable, merino wool is warm and insulating, and cashmere is soft and luxurious.

But what about the other materials we see on our care tags, such as Egyptian cotton, Alpaca, and Tencel? Here we’ll review ten less popularly understood fibers and what they mean for clothes.

Alpaca: Fiber from the alpaca, a small, domesticated llama native to the high regions of South America. There are two types of alpaca hairs: huacaya and suri, the second being rarer, silkier, and more delicate. Alpaca yarns are often left undyed and used to give sweaters some natural brown coloring

Angora: Fiber from the hair of angora rabbits. Extremely soft, it’s usually added to wool or cashmere to give it a silkier touch.

Bamboo: A fiber derived from bamboo plants through a process similar to the one used to turn wood pulp into rayon or lyocell. Bamboo is prized for its natural anti-bacterial (and thus odor resistant) properties. It also has the advantage of being a “green” fiber, as it’s less environmentally taxing as a renewable resource.

Egyptian cotton: A word originally used to refer to a type of luxurious, long-staple cotton from Egypt. Unfortunately, the word is often misleadingly used today to market coarser varieties of cotton from Egypt, which leads to a lot of confusion over why (true) Egyptian cotton should be prized

Mohair: A lightweight, lustrous fiber taken from the fleece of Angora goats. When used in wovens, it imparts a slight shine; when used in knits, it gives a slightly hairier appearance.
Polyester: An umbrella term for a variety of man-made, petrochemical-based fibers. Although 100% polyester fabrics aren’t terribly great for clothing (witness the 1970s), a bit of polyester can be added to blends in order to give certain desirable qualities. In cotton, it can make the fabric easier to iron. In linen, it can add some resilience and “spring back,” giving the yarns a bit more “life.” Polyester is also routinely used to make performance clothing, as its valued for its wicking properties.

Rayon: Known as “artificial” silk, rayon is supple and silky, and derived from plant materials. It’s commonly used for linings and pajamas.

Tencel: A trademark name owned by Lenzing for a type of lyocell, a type of fiber primarily processed from wood pulp. The material is valued for its ability to absorb sweat and bring it to the surface easily, thus allowing the perspiration to evaporate and letting the wearer stay dry and odor free.

Viscose: A supple and silky fabric often used in linings, pajamas, and underwear. Also commonly used as a synonym for rayon.

Virgin wool: Any wool that hasn’t been recycled from a previous yarn. The term was more important in the 1930s, when the recycling and reuse of materials was more common, as it helped distinguish a “premium” yarn from recycled yarns. In the recycling process, wool fibers came out a bit shorter, which made the resulting yarns weaker. Virgin wool doesn’t have any of those problems, but again, is less of an issue today now that fewer manufacturers recycle wool.

Enzyme Washes - Not So Gross After All

Not to get all scientific or gross you out, but from time to time, I leave my epidermis exposed…and occasionally, I even wear clothes that have been treated with the same enzymes used to eliminate clumps of indigestible plant material - fibers, skins, and seed - when they are trapped in people’s stomachs. Yup, that’s how I roll and whether you know it or not, it’s probably how you do too because clothes that are treated with enzyme washes include cellulase, the very same suite of enzymes that are used to clear masses in human stomachs.

So, why would a designer knowingly treat clothing with the same stuff that doctors would use to treat leftover plant material in your stomach? I assure you that it’s not ignorance. It’s because enzymes washes give clothing a soft feel and an aged, worn look that so many of us are looking for from time to time. And wait until you read about how enzyme washes go about doing this.

Cellulase, the enzyme suite used in enzyme washes, “eat” away exposed cellulose and in the case of jeans, loosen indigo dye particles thus creating the worn, aged look. This begs the question, once these enzymes pop, can they stop? Why yes they can.

When a designer has aged a garment in the oh so perfect way, he or she can turn off the enzymes like a light switch by altering the acidity and/or temperate of the enzyme wash bath. Also, just to alleviate your concerns, while these enzymes might feast on exposed cellulose, they do not weaken the structure or fabric of the garment they are applied to. They make it softer, but no less sturdy.

And for the tree huggers in the crowd, you’ll be happy to know that this is one of the most eco friendly wash techniques because these enzymes are biodegradable and they don’t leave much of a trace in the water that they are mixed with during the wash process. Finally, the whole process is fairly cost efficient because cellulase ain’t playin around. It’s strong, a little bit goes a long way, and you don’t really need a lot of cellulase for the enzyme bath to be potent and effective.

So folks, wear that enzyme washed gear loud and proud. It looks good and like milk, literally does the body good.

The Tie That Unites The Ties That Separate

Ties…

Some of us choose to wear them. Some of us are required to wear them. Most of us don’t wear them at all.

Some of us love them. Some of us hate them. Most of us don’t care about them.

Interestingly, for a word that suggests universality, “ties,” people’s opinions of them are anything but universal. Furthermore, ties are an everyday part of some people’s lives but don’t play any role in others’ lives. One could even go so far as to say that the ties more often untie than tie.

But even though ties aren’t universal, there is a special sort of tie that is universal. Universally beautiful and if not that, most certainly worthy of everyone’s appreciation. That tie is: the handmade tie.

The Handmade Tie

The handmade tie is often thought of as the “rich uncle” of the tie family. It attracts attention and opens doors, but it also has the most demands, requires the most care, only shows up on very special occasions, and is generally unapproachable.

While there are elements of truth to this characterization, it isn’t entirely fair and it’s often based on little or incorrect information. Plus, who knows, unlike your rich uncle, if you learn more about the handmade tie, you might even appreciate it.

But before we continue, let’s caveat the discussion by mentioning that like any garment of clothing and/or accessory, the quality of a handmade tie is not universal. The quality of a handmade tie can vary. But, a we’re talking about high quality, handmade ties and these ties are works of art.

What makes them special?

Quite simply: everything. Starting with the fabric.

Handmade ties are rare and the fabric used, while not necessarily rare, is of the highest quality. Tiemakers typically reserve the finest raw silks, often British and Italian, for their handmade ties and upon receiving these raw silks, tiemakers unroll and examine them, checking for flaws before beginning a long process that culminates with a handmade tie.

After satisfactory inspection of the raw silks, these silks are treated and dyed in a process that takes ~8 hours. Meticulous tiemakers then inspect this newly dyed silk to ensure that the dye has produced a consistent, equal color throughout the fabric.

The newly dyed and inspected silks are subsequently sent to a cutter, who cuts the dyed silks in preparation for making the tie. The cutting process varies from tiemaker to tiemaker as well as based on the number of folds that each tie will have. Typically, the higher the number of folds, the more silk used and the fewer the number of ties made from that square of silk.

A standard, nice, everyday tie might be a three-fold tie while the height of luxury is the seven-fold, unlined tie. These ties are rare and though they will not be as wrinkle resistant as their lined tie equivalent (i.e. a seven-fold lined tie), what they lack in wrinkle resistance they make up for in detail and time spent making it. These ties are made by hand with seven actual folds of silk. No interlining or tipping. The folding process alone is 3+ hours for these ties.

After the cutting process, the front (blade) and back (tail) of the tie are then tipped. In the tipping process, a partial lining is handsewn to the back of the tie, most often in the same material as the rest of the tie. This is known as self tipping.

The front, back, and neck of the tie are then joined together by hand and slipped before being folded. The folding process, as discussed above, is a 2-4 hour process, depending on the number of folds of the tie.

The newly folded tie is then slip stitched in a manner that holds everything together. This slip stitch requires extraordinary skill as the stitch needs to remain loose to allow for movement yet must also join the sides of the silk, the tip, and the lining (if the tie is lined), while leaving the front of the tie unharmed. Furthermore, it must be completely invisible to the naked eye from the back of the tie.

Finally, the slip is secured with a bar tack at the back of the tie, which leaves excess thread inside the tie much also ensures that regardless of the degree in which the tie is abused (twisted, stretched, etc.), it will return to its original shape after being hung and left to recover.

The product of this laborious process: a handmade tie that hopefully everyone can appreciate.

Waterbury Buttons: A Storied Past

Philly has its cheesesteaks; Chicago has its deep dish pizza; and Waterbury, Connecticut has its buttons. Yup, buttons. And while they are not as tasty as cheesesteaks or deep dish pizza (in fact, to be clear, we DO NOT recommend eating buttons), the Waterbury Button, and the Waterbury Button Company as a whole, is pretty darn special.

The Waterbury Button Company is the oldest metal button manufacturer in the United States. The Company was founded in 1812 when the United States went to war with Britain, the U.S.’s exclusive supplier of buttons prior to war. As a result of the war, the two countries stopped trading and the U.S. was left without a supply of buttons and an even greater need for buttons. which were used by the military for its uniforms. In response to this situation, Aaron Benedict, a resident of a town near Waterbury, Connecticut, bought everything brass he could find (kettles, pans, and pots), built a button production facility in Waterbury, and began making buttons for the U.S. military. Waterbury thus became known as the “brass capital of the world” and Benedict, the “king of brass.” To this day, button manufacturing is a substantial part of Waterbury’s economic activity.

But even after the war, Benedict’s business, which has been known over time as Benedict & Co., Benedict & Burnham and Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Co., thrived. The U.S. military appreciated the craftsmanship and quality of Benedict’s buttons and deepened its relationship with Benedict’s company, ordering in greater frequency and in larger quantities. The Company scaled in turn, upping its production capabilities (and volume) and diversifying its button offerings. Early craftsmen at the Company were meticulous throughout the button manufacturing process, using engraving tools the size of toothpicks to hand dye buttons and create intricate designs with remarkable detail.

Soon, Waterbury established a reputation overseas and as demand increased in Europe, the country began wholesaling its creations to European clothing manufacturers. In fact, though the Company did not supply buttons directly to the South during the Civil War, both Union troops and Confederate troops sported them. The South went so far as to use intermediaries in Europe to procure its Waterbury buttons. In fact, when General Ulysses S. Grant convened with General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse to end the War, they each wore Waterbury buttons on their chests.

The Waterbury Button Company has since evolved, remaining at the cutting edge of the button industry yet never forgetting its roots.

Today, the Company uses computers and other technology for design work, reducing its manufacturing time to 2-3 days. However, many features of Waterbury Buttons are still made by hand, particularly in situations in which designs are too intricate for a computer to be trusted.

Waterbury Button Company’s strict craftsmanship and superior quality continues to be recognized as they now make buttons, of all types and materials, for leading designers, corporations, and government entities and organizations around the world.

And if you’re ever interested in learning more about the history of Waterbury buttons, we encourage you to visit the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut.

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