August 28, 2013

DIY: Adding a Cuff

There may come a time when, for whatever reason, you find yourself wishing that a pair of trousers or shorts came with a cuff. For me, the most recent instance came with this pair of seersucker shorts. They were just a little too long and, since seersucker makes for a dressier short, I thought they would look good with a cuff. You can see in this post, that I temporarily folded the cuff until I had time to put in a proper one. This DIY post will show you how to do just that and, with a few minor additions, can be easily applied to cuff a pair of dress slacks.

Here’s what you need:
Straight pins
Seam ripper (or snips)
Hem gauge
Tailor’s chalk (optional)
Pinking shears (or serger)
Needle & thread
Iron & ironing board

The first thing you will need to do is decide how wide of a cuff you want. 1.5” is pretty standard for trousers, but for these shorts I’m going with a 1” cuff. If you are cuffing pants, the beginning of this process goes a lot quicker if you have a second person to pin the hem to the proper length and adjust the cuff until you find a ratio that you like. 

I marked the shorts with a pin to keep a reference for where I want the finished bottom edge of my cuff to be. This isn't required, but especially if you're doing it for the first time, it's a great way to check that you've done your measurements correctly at the last step.

If your pants are unfinished, you can skip to the next step. These shorts, like most pieces you will buy retail, are hemmed, so the next step is to remove the hem. To do this you can use either a seam ripper or snips, whichever you prefer. This will also give you a little extra fabric to work with, just in case you need it. For clarity, any measurements given in the rest of this post are for adding a 1” cuff (unless otherwise stated).

Open up your hem being careful not to put a hole in the fabric.

After the hem is out, it’s time to measure. You can see from the picture that I have 4” of excess below the pin. For a 1” cuff, I will need 2 ¾” of excess. 2” for the cuff and ¾” to hem. For trousers, a 1 ½” cuff is standard so you would need about 4” of material to work with (3” for the cuff and 1” to hem). The most important thing is for the hem amount to be less than the width of your cuff, so that the cuff itself hides your stitch line. This is also where you can cheat a little if you are a tad short on fabric, as this length will stay on the inside and eventually get stitched down.

The slider on my hem gauge is set to 2 3/4" indicating where my cut line
will be from my marked pin.

Like Bob Vila always said, ‘measure twice, cut once.’ Once you know you have enough material to work with, you should mark your cut line with tailor’s chalk. You could use pins, but tailor’s chalk makes things a lot easier since you won’t have to be pulling pins while trying to cut a straight line. The easiest way to do this is to use a hem gauge. Move the slider to the length you need to cut off, 1 ¼” in my case, and work your way along the circumference of the leg, marking every couple inches.

When actually marking a hem, work from the bottom up. This lets you
use the bottom (hopefully even) edge of the pant as your guideline.

Extra Tip : If you’re doing this with a pair of pants/shorts that have been altered before or are of uncertain origin (meaning you didn’t buy them brand new), be sure to make sure the edge is even all the way around and that both legs have even inseams or you will end up with an uneven hem.

Using your pinking shears, cut along your chalked edge (any chalk that remains should come off either with an iron or in the wash, depending on the kind you are using), lining up each new clip of the blades to maintain an even edge. Now I have only my needed 2 ¾” of excess remaining.

Extra Tip : If you do a lot of work with materials and have a serger threaded, that will work just as well and give you that factory finished look. Since I don't have a serger always set up, I went with pinking shears because it would take almost as long to thread the serger as it would to do the entire project.

Extra Tip II : If you are really hard on your clothes and want a little extra protection against unraveling, use some seam tape over your pinked edge.

You can see that the pinked edge measures 2 3/4" from my marked pin.

Now, you can put away those shears and start folding. Turn the shorts inside out and, using your hem gauge again as a guide, fold up your allotted hem amount, in this case ¾”, to the inside of your leg and pin in place. Since I’m using plastic ball head pins to make seeing them in the photos easier, it is important to keep the ball of the pin well away from the fold I need to press or else the iron will melt it. If you don’t need to take pictures of your process, flat head silk pins are a good alternative.

Use the hem gauge as a guide to keep your fold even.

Give this fold a good press and then remove your pins. I’ll usually give it another good press once the pins are all out, just to make sure I have a nice sharp line, which will come in handy later.

Extra Tip : Check your iron temperature before pressing. The excess fabric you cut off earlier is a great low-stakes test strip. 

Pressing your folds help keep them in place and make moving from one
step to the next much smoother.

Next you will fold up again, but this time by your 1” cuff width. Your shorts are still inside out, so this fold will temporarily enclose the ¾” hem you’ve already pressed. Use your hem gauge again the same way to make sure you’ve got an even 1”.

When making the second fold, be careful not to short the fold. This is going
to be what determines the final width of your cuff so use your hem gauge
as a guide.

Pin and press as before. 

You should now only have 1” distance between your marking pin and the edge of the short. It may look a little counterintuitive to have the hem folded inside, but we’ll take care of that after the next and final fold.

Turn your shorts back the right way out, keeping the folded areas on the inside. Take the bottom inch of the short (making sure to catch the two folds that are on the inside) and fold it up as you would if you were folding a cuff into a pair of chinos or denim. Your allotted hem should now be sandwiched between the leg of the shorts and the 1” fold you just made.

For this final fold, you can use your hem gauge but shouldn't need to.
Let the first two folds be your guide, you'll see when it is even.

Pin and press again.

Now, remove your pins and delicately pull the ¾” hem from between the two layers and fold it to the inside of the short like you would with a traditional hem. If you’ve done your pressing correctly, this is where it should want to go anyway.

I recommend trading pin for pin. Take one pin out of the cuff, flip the hem
to the back (inside), and repin in place.

As you do so, make sure you are folding it tightly against the bottom edge of the short, pinning as you go, or your hem will end up uneven.

If your shorts have a drastic taper, make sure you don't catch any puckers
in your pinned hem and that your fabric is evenly distributed and your
side seams match up.

Now, take your needle and thread and do a blind hem just like you would when hemming anything. Be careful not to catch the newly made cuff in your hem stitch. Give it one more pressing and it’s time for the last step.

Be sure to use a thread as close to the color of your garment as possible.
With a pattern or print, it's usually best to go with the dominant color.

Take your needle and thread (doubled this time) and tack your cuff in place at both side seams to keep it from folding down. Go through the inside of the short leg and catch the inside (pant side) edge of the cuff just under the fold. The key is to catch the cuff without making your stitch visible.

The tack should be just below the cuff line so that it does it's job without
being visible.

Congratulations! You now have a finished cuff! Repeat with the other leg, using the finished one as a gauge to make sure they end up even. Give them a final press and you now have a pair of cuffed shorts.

Have you ever added a cuff to your shorts or trousers? What are some of your favorite DIY projects?

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 23, 2013

Style Feature: The Summer Vacation Wardrobe

Summer vacations often require different considerations when packing than any other time of the year. Unlike my itinerary while shooting last year’s Vacation Wardrobe post, I had no business to attend to and I wasn’t staying in a metro area, so I was able to pack a little more casually (and get a chance to do some real relaxing).

This is everything that I packed for a 7-day vacation (excluding undergarments and my dopp kit). I spent the week next to the water and, when I packed, the forecast predicted highs in the mid-80s, so I brought two pairs of shorts (the dark teal and plaid pieces next to the shoes), a tee, and a straw hat that didn't get used. Mother nature had other plans and upon arrival a cold front blew in which resulted in temperatures in the upper 60s with occasional showers. This threw a wrench in my planned outfits but proved to be an interesting challenge on how to adapt for unexpected weather while still keeping my looks fresh.

Day 1

Shirt by J.Crew; Denim by PPD; Shoes by Timberland; Watch by Bulova;
Umbrella by Burberry

Since I drove, I didn’t feel the need to layer and since I didn’t expect rain I didn’t bring a jacket. Anytime I’m driving for long distances, I dress primarily for comfort. The jeans have a little stretch, the lightweight madras shirt is breathable, and the shoes are super comfortable. Perfect for a 4 hour drive (that turned into 7 hours due to a combination of an unexpected detour and some unplanned sightseeing).

Extra Tip : Always keep your GPS maps up to date.

Day 2

Shirt by Gant Rugger; Denim by AllSaints; Boat shoes by Timberland;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs; Watch by Bulova;
Vintage silver bracelet

With warm weather in the forecast, I packed a second madras shirt. Despite the cooler temps that actually arrived, it still came in handy on a day when I was walking around all afternoon in the sun.

Day 3

Shirt by Gant by Michael Bastian; Denim by PPD; Shoes by Timberland;
Scarf by rag & bone; Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs;
Watch by Bulova; Vintage silver bracelet

This shirt is a nice light weight and the color and stripes help brighten up the darker pants. I chose neutrals for both pants on this trip because they’ll go with anything I brought, giving me more freedom to change up my outfits based on the day’s activities.

Extra Tip : A lightweight scarf is a great accessory. You can casually drape it on warm afternoons and wrap it tighter for those cool evenings out.

Day 4

Sweater by Wallace & Barnes for J.Crew; Shirt by J.Crew;
Denim by AllSaints; Boots by Timberland; Tote by Gant;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs; Watch by Bulova;
Vintage silver bracelet

Since the weather was cooler than expected, layering one of my madras shirts under a light loose knit sweater was the perfect combination to keep me warm without overheating at the peak of the afternoon sun and the colorful plaid is a great peek-a-boo from beneath the solid color of the sweater.

Extra Tip :  A seasonal tote is great for vacation. You can go out for the day without having to keep stopping off at your hotel.

Day 5

Shirt by J.Crew; Denim by AllSaints; Boots by Timberland;
Scarf by rag & bone; Umbrella by Burberry; Watch by Bulova;
Bracelets from Made With Love Project

I like to wear saturated colors on rainy days. To draw inspiration from The Temptations, it brightens things up on a cloudy day.

Extra Tip : Maybe it’s from living in Florida but I always carry an umbrella, especially on vacation when getting soaked in a storm would definitely put a damper on a day.

Day 6

Sweater by Wallace & Barnes for J.Crew; Shirt by Gant by Michael Bastian;
Denim by AllSaints; Shoes by Timberland; Watch by Bulova;
Vintage silver bracelet; Umbrella by Tumi

Choosing garments with surprise details (like the contrasting plaid under the cuffs) is a great way to double wear a shirt without looking exactly the same. I wore this one before on its own for Day 2, and again now, but this time adding a sweater and exposing the plaid cuffs for a different style.

Day 7

Shirt by Gant Rugger; Denim by PPD; Shoes by Timberland;
Watch by Bulova; Vintage silver bracelet; Duffel bag by Odin for Target;
Leather tote by AllSaints

Back in the car again, so this time I opted for my other comfortable madras shirt, with the same pants and sneakers.

The key to packing for a vacation is to keep it light while still giving yourself the opportunity to mix it up. Consider your planned activities, any dinners or events, and the location. Packing for a trip to LA is very different than packing for a trip to coastal New England or Miami.

What are some of your favorite pieces for summer vacation?

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 19, 2013

Favorite Finds: Billy Reid Walton Sport Jacket

As soon as there’s a dip in the temperature I start looking towards fall. I love layering and I really love sport jackets. This Grey Fleck Walton sport jacket by Billy Reid is the perfect piece for those early fall evenings and, if layered properly, its refined ruggedness could easily carry you through the end of the year.

At first glance, this jacket seems to be your standard wool tweed, but the second you touch it, it’s clear that there is nothing standard about it. The lightness of the silk/linen blend is immediately apparent and the fit is fantastic.

The Billy Reid website describes it as the trimmest and shortest fit and recommends sizing up if in doubt. While it is definitely slim, and I have broad shoulders, I found that a 40R fit me perfectly. There is enough room in the chest to not feel restrictive and the nip at the waist keeps a nice clean line.

This is a three button rolled lapel jacket that is fully lined and impeccably detailed. The lining itself is so thin it's almost sheer, making this a much lighter option than other fully lined pieces out there. It also has a dual back vent, a 2.5” notched lapel, and natural bone buttons. 

The patch pockets at the hip feature an inverted pleat for extra storage (and visual appeal) while the single-welt chest pocket maintains a clean silhouette. If you get a little cold and need to pop your collar, the Heirloom striped under collar will keep you stylish.

Made in Italy, the specific fabrication is 64% Silk/36% Linen with a Cotton/Cupro body lining and, of course, it’s dry clean only. The price is $695, but before you get sticker shock, take all of the work and detailing into account.

I haven’t had that much exposure to Billy Reid, but if this jacket is any indication, I need to start paying them closer attention. I love this jacket, and if I had a bigger closet (and bank account) I would own it without a second thought.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 14, 2013

Inspiration: Chaos to Couture

I recently went to see the Met’s PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibition for the second time before it closed. The first time I came away with a less than favorable opinion, so I wanted to give it another chance. My main problem was that while it was advertised toinclude original punk garments and recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear borrow punk's visual symbols,” there was a definite slant towards the couture. I get it, it’s a fashion exhibit, but I feel like so much more could have been done because the concept is an interesting and legitimate one.

So much of the early punk subculture has found its way into contemporary fashion, which is ironic given the origins of the movement. In walking through the exhibit, I found so many missed opportunities to showcase the pioneers of punk whose influence was so readily on display. Though the galleries were filled with noise, videos, and the occasional picture, none of them seemed particularly relevant. There were so many times when I saw a couture piece and thought of how interesting it would be in conversation with an image of Siouxsie Sioux, Adam Ant, The Ramones, the New York Dolls, The Sex Pistols, or any of the dozens of early influencers in the punk movement.

That was the primary reason for writing this post and while I don’t have the resources of the Met, I do have a unique perspective to offer. I love punk. I spent years going to shows and listening to albums. I even played in a band for a bit. I wanted to take one of the looks from my punk days and play it against a look put together to showcase the similarities and influence that punk has had on fashion. This could easily become encyclopedic, so I will limit the scope of this post to only the aspects featured in the two looks that I shot, but I welcome any questions or comments you may have.

Denim vest by Levis (customized); Leather jacket from thrift (customized);
Time Again band tee; Denim by Kill City; Boots by Altama; Hat from thrift;
Bandana, studded belts, leather bracelet from unknown/unbranded

Leather jacket by AllSaints; Studded knit by Marc by Marc Jacobs;
Tee by Kenneth Cole New York; Denim by Vince; Boots by John Varvatos;
Belt by Dolce & Gabbana; Sunglasses by Alexander McQueen;
Handmade vintage chainmail bracelet; Leather and silver bracelets from thrift;
Watch by Bulova; Bandana from unknown/unbranded

One of the things that the Met’s exhibit focused on was the DIY aspect of punk clothing and studs played a big part in that. This vest is the perfect example. What started out as a black Levi’s jacket subsequently had the sleeves cut off, patches sewn on, and 400+ pyramid studs applied by hand. I spent hours making this into the vest that I wanted because I couldn’t buy the perfect piece for me.  

The studded vest itself may be a slightly later evolution of punk, but what I felt was so lacking in the Met's exhibit was legitimate representation of original pieces. The couture pieces that appropriated this mentality were well represented, but other than some early pieces by Vivienne Westwood, not so much as a photo of early progenitors like the Misfits, Adam and the Ants, or The Adicts.

Studs made their way into so many aspects of fashion, but mostly on the women’s side of things. The studs down the front of this shirt play the hard metal against a really soft knit. I may not have a couture example like those showcased at the museum, but the fact that punk staples like studs have trickled down to men's ready-to-wear shows how prevalent these details have become in fashion.

Another big part of the punk movement is social and political commentary and a push against conformity. In punk imagery, this is usually (though not always) more blatant and/or aggressive as seen in this silhouetted image of what appears to be a battle of some sort. I’ve always found a kindred aesthetic in the approach that Kenneth Cole has to their designs and I could easily see this or a similar t-shirt design on the rack at Trash and Vaudeville. Each take imagery that pushes the boundaries of social nicety, like rebellion and nontraditional marriage, in the same way as Westwood's early pieces (like Two Cowboys), and screen it onto a t-shirt to be worn proudly.

What is immediately apparent from looking at nearly any photo of a ‘punk’ band in the 70s is that tight pants were the thing to wear and little has changed. Look at (almost) any fall runway show and you will see a parade of tight pants. Whether this one was a direct response to the punk aesthetic is debatable, but the correlation remains nonetheless. Another thing you will likely see is a lot of metal hardware. While studded, o-ring, and bullet belts are punk standards, flashy belt buckles are a fashion staple.

Accessorizing your look transcends subcultures. Bracelets, colored laces, pocket squares, pins, patches. If you mix and match decades, genres, and materials, the possibilities are endless.

I’ve always liked boots and while Converse Chuck Taylors are wildly popular in the punk scene, I preferred a good pair of combat boots. They are built to take a beating and, in my experience, are more comfortable than Dr. Martens. While I still wear them on occasion, these days, I lean more towards bench made.

The most important thing when developing your style is to be yourself and do what you like. Personalization is a driving force in style, not just when it comes to punk. It’s why DIY posts and sites like Etsy have become so popular. Want to add some color to your leather jacket? Go for it. Use a bandana as a handkerchief or pocket square? Why not?

I may have had my issues with the Met's presentation of punk's influence on couture, but that doesn't negate the power that punk has had on all levels of the fashion industry. Just like within the Met's exhibit, you can take those same tenants of punk, from it's DIY spirit to its attitude or prolific use of leather and metal, and let it inspire your own sartorial choices. A heavily studded denim vest and combat boots may not be for everyone, but punk's crossover into fashion can be a great lesson about using clothing to express your own individuality.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 8, 2013

The Shy Stylist Turns 2!

Today marks two years since I started writing The Shy Stylist and I am so excited with how the blog has progressed. Readership has exploded over the last year, and I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas and inspirations to help continue the evolution.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has ever glanced at any of my posts, from my dedicated readers to those who happen on a post and might think back to it later. As I have said before (and will probably say again), my main purpose in writing The Shy Stylist is to inspire my readers.

Style is intensely personal and inspiration is everywhere. Whether it is a color combination, a pattern pairing, or simply the styling of a look (alliteration purely a happy coincidence), I hope that the posts I’ve written have in some way helped you to discover and grow your own style.

I love getting your emails and the questions, comments, and suggestions that I receive continue to spur the development of the blog. In the last few months, for example, I have started doing DIY posts and they have quickly become some of the most popular ever! Also, based on some of your requests, I have more In Review posts on the way, including expanding the category to include features on some of my favorite shops and new discoveries.

Please keep sending me all your sartorial questions, comments, and suggestions, and I will respond to each and every one of you. Thanks for all your support, I’m looking forward to another great year!

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 4, 2013

Quick Tip: Playing with Color

Not everyone is comfortable wearing bright colors and that is perfectly alright. Whether you are just beginning to experiment with color or need to keep it toned down for a specific occasion, there are lots of ways to subtly incorporate color into your wardrobe without being ostentatious. I already covered colored belts in a previous post, but here are some other ideas to get your sartorial gears turning.

1. Hat

Hats aren’t for everyone, but if you do choose to wear one, why not go classic with a twist? Ditch the ball cap and go with a full-brimmed seasonal option. I’ve found that muted colors are a better choice for hats because brighter ones look more costume-y than stylish.

Extra Tip : As I've mentioned before, colored laces are a fun and unexpected source of color.

Hat by Goorin Bros.; Shirt by Psycho Bunny; Chinos by Uniqlo;
Shoes by AllSaints; Laces by Allen Edmonds; Watch by Nautica

2. Bracelets

One way to test the waters of bright color is to start small. Bracelets are a great way to do that because even the brightest colors are relegated to a small spot on your wrist so it is more low stakes than Nantucket red pants or a purple shirt.

Extra Tip : Socks are another way to sneak in some color, especially if you like to wear a cuff. Try a colored pattern for an even more interesting statement.

Bracelets from Made With Love Project; Shirt by J.Crew;
Denim by AllSaints; Sneakers by Paul Smith Jeans;
T-shirt by Uniqlo; Socks by Corgi; Sunglasses by Bulgari

3. Tote

This one is a bit city-specific, but useful nonetheless. Not having a car means that I need to carry with me everything I need from when I leave my apartment to when I return and anything I might acquire along the way.  Tote bags are available all over the place, but they are usually that generic natural color.

With even the most cursory amount of shopping around, you can find just about any color you could want (and if that fails you can always make your own, but more on that in a future DIY post). The lightheartedness of the image on this tote combined with the bright teal makes this one of my favorite shopping totes (yes, I have a variety of totes with different purposes, don’t judge).

Tote by Jack Spade; Shirt by Charles Tyrwhitt; Chinos by Uniqlo;
Boat shoes by Sebago; Watch by Nautica;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs
4. Shoes

Sneakers come in colors other than black and white, but most guys don’t give them much thought other than on an athletic trainer. Bright colored shoes make a statement, but a more toned down shade is not only a great way to dip your feet in the proverbial water, it is also much more versatile for daily wear.

Extra Tip :  More of a plea actually – trainers are great for active wear, but are best kept in their place. And please don’t wear toe shoes unless you are running and/or are being forced with threats of bodily harm.

Shoes by Timberland; Shirt by J.Crew; Chinos by PPD;
Watch by Bulova; Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

Small though they may be, adding a little bit of color through the details of your outfit can really take your look from drab to stylish without making you feel like you popped out of a Crayola starter box. Wearing loud colors on your larger items of clothing can be great too, but when less is more it’s those little touches that will make you stand out. How do you like to incorporate color into your summer looks?

Stay stylish,
- JJ