Hey, Mr. Good Looking
HE SWAGGERS UP to the entrance with a smug look on his face, and with good reason. His finely tailored suit fits his chiseled body to a “T.” He notices the approving glances all around him. He knows he looks good. The jacket sleeves stop just short of a costly set of diamond-studded cuff links. His pants are impeccably creased and fall atop brilliantly shined shoes. With damsel on arm, money in pocket and skip in step, he crosses the threshold. The party has just begun.
DRESS THE PART
There is much truth in the popular saying, “Dress the way you want to be addressed.” A gentleman’s clothing can say a lot, or a little, about him. And when it comes to dresswear, the more positive chatter one creates, the merrier.
According to Tarayann Lloyd, marketing director at Edwards Garment, Kalamazoo, Mich., over the past 10 years, the styles, colors and fabrics available in men’s dresswear have undergone significant changes. She said the company’s polyester/wool suits now are made with a natural stretch fabric—a feature men shouldn’t do without. “The poly/wools are much lighter so you may wear them year-round,” she explained. Furthermore, Lloyd said promotional men’s dresswear closely “follows retail trends,” most noticeably in the “cut of the suit jacket [and] the color of the fabric.” To that end, Edwards Garment has added pinstripe suiting in navy, charcoal and brown.
TIE A GOOD MAN DOWN
Lawrence Schleif, president of Anthony Enterprises, Escondido, Calif., whose company has supplied neckties and scarves to the trade for more than 35 years, provided a definition for dresswear. “It’s certainly when you want to represent something a little more sophisticated,” he said. And Schleif is of the strong opinion that a stylish necktie can provide that air of refinement required of promotional men’s dresswear. “The industry itself has really changed from a promotional item industry to a high-end, retail-quality product in a promotional industry,” he noted.
Neckties, particularly, are good promotional products because they’re the only canvas gentlemen have to differentiate themselves, he further explained. In recent years, Schleif said customers have been interested in ties that feature an allover print, similar to the retail brand Jerry Garcia. “[Neckties provide] an opportunity for some personal expression and creativity, or as far as the industry is concerned, it’s also the opportunity for the company to try to enhance its marketability and branding.”
One of the newest techniques in necktie embellishment is the wet-dye printing process. Schleif explained the wet-dye process is a form of screen printing that uses a water-based dye as opposed to the plastasol ink used in traditional screen printing. “With wet-dye printing, you’re able to [achieve] completely retail quality,” he said. “You’re able to do a 100 percent coverage ... all dyed, all Pantone color matching, very precise detailing.”
TRENDS IN MEN’S DRESSWEAR
A perusal of today’s top retailers will confirm the cyclical nature of fashion. Nearly everything once considered passé has been resurrected with endearing terms, such as “retro,” “vintage” and “old school.” Schleif joked, “So, your checkered disco pants and your two-inch white tie, if you hang on to them long enough, they come back in style.” However, he also observed styles are influenced by the economy. “I have noticed when the economy is doing good, [people] tend to [dress] more casual. Everybody is having a bit more fun,” he said. “But, when the economy ... goes down, it’s a little more competitive ... and everyone tends to formalize a little more.” He cited the economic slump that followed the Sept. 11 attacks as an example of how a recession revived formal office attire at some companies.
Don’t know who would buy men’s dresswear? Lloyd said the garments are being sold to hotels, casinos, office parks, financial institutions and restaurants. And when selling the garments, she advised distributors to consider their personal nature. “You want to know when you are purchasing a suit that there is quality and value not only in the design, fabric and style, but [in the] coat and pant details,” she said. For instance, Lloyd said distributors should know if the suit coat is fully lined, if there are inside suit coat pockets and a breast pocket, as well as the number of buttons on the lapel. “These are simple style details, but [they are] very important to the purchaser,” she pointed out.
There’s obviously more to a well-dressed man than meets the eye.