Monday, July 22, 2013

The Pocket Handkerchief

I have not attended this blog for far too long, but I plan to change that now.

As a grand re-entry into the blogosphere I would like to express my support of the much overlooked detail of the gentleman’s wardrobe: the pocket handkerchief. The pocket handkerchief displayed in the breast pocket of the suit jacket or sport coat elevates the wardrobe. It can make a casual outfit a little elegant and it can elevate the well turned out suit to stellar levels.

There are a variety of handkerchief folds ideal for display. Historically, I have held the opinion that a gentleman should disdain the silk pocket squares and should only carry good quality linen handkerchiefs, but I have changed that stance. There are a few rules, however, that should be heeded:

Matching Ties and Handkerchiefs—This combination is more than the title of a Monty Python album from the 80s. It is a fashion atrocity that must be avoided at all costs. Whilst it may seem like a good idea at first blush, it is not. It can make an otherwise elegant combination look cheesy. Opt instead for a coordinating tie and handkerchief.

Silk Pocket Squares—I am still against plain silk pocket squares, though that is admittedly a personal preference. I prefer non-silk because silk does not fold crisply, but a flash of poufy color can be added using these. Make sure that they are of suitable size, quality, and color.

Patterned Silk Pocket Squares—These, especially vintage examples, are the foundation of my change of position on silk. Be sure to select your patterns carefully so as not to clash with your neckwear. These are best with more casual suits such as linen or poplin, and with blazers or sport coats worn casually.

Hand Painted Silk Pocket Squares—Though quite trendy now, I have yet to see a really good example of this art form. If you choose to go this route, bear in mind that it is akin to the patterned pocket square and is best reserved for more casual wear.

Linen Handkerchiefs—These are the absolute classics, appropriate with the most formal of dinner or business dress or with casual sport coats and blazers. A linen handkerchief will fold crisply and may be pressed into shape, giving it an even cleaner look. Though a good cotton handkerchief may be substituted, the texture of linen is distinctive and it looks the best.

Vintage handkerchiefs of any variety are a great touch of detail, but be sure when selecting vintage examples that there is no evidence of yellowing or, worse yet, mold.

An outstanding selection of handkerchief folds is diagrammed at Bows ‘n Ties.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Decoding the Wedding Invitation

Spring has definitely sprung, and the season of the most infernal nuisance of the gentleman’s year has sprung upon with it: The Wedding Invitation. The influences on your decisions for what to wear are vast, including your relationship to the happy couple, the location of the event, your role in the wedding, and so forth. Herein I will offer some broad advice focusing on the instructions provided on the invitation – the rest is up to you.

Wedding invitations, and other party invitations, for that matter, will generally have a code included, indicating what you are expected to wear. And the date you should bring, but that is probably a topic for another blog.

The codes are as follows: Formal, Morning Dress, Black Tie, Black Tie Optional, Festive, and Casual. These codes include some valuable information, and, in some cases, some inherent misleading language. Here is a breakdown of what you need to wear.


In the go-go 21st century, this is really quite rare. The term formal, in its correct usage, indicates that white tie and tails are preferred. The wedding party will certainly be in white tie, and, as a guest, it is appropriate for you to wear white tie too. Given that most of us, with the notable exception of my brother-in-law, Bill, do not own a full evening dress rig, it is far preferable for you to wear your good dinner suit instead. When wearing your dinner suit, however, wear it as conservatively as you possibly can – opt for a black bow tie and a black dinner vest. A white pique shirt also elevates it a notch. Military personnel are encouraged to wear mess dress.

Morning Dress
In the US you won’t see this much, but if you do, it is for a formal wedding scheduled before 6:00 pm. The appropriate formal rig for these events is a morning suit (a cutaway and striped trousers) or a lighter colored business suit. In the US in the current era, a crisp linen suit is perfectly acceptable if you do not have a cutaway or a stroller. Military personnel would wear class A uniforms appropriate to the region and the season.

Black Tie

This is the most formal wedding that most of us will ever be invited to. It indicates that the bridal party will likely be in dinner suits, and you are expected to wear one too. Again, go with the most traditional interpretation of what you wear with your tuxedo. Avoid colorful ties and cummerbunds, and stick with the traditional protocols. If you are going to be dancing the night away, be sure to wear shoes that will support you through that. Remember, when you dance, it is never appropriate to shed your jacket or your tie. Yes, they do it in the movies, and no, you still may not. It makes you look like a high school kid at the end of prom night. Again, mess dress is ideal for military personnel.

Black Tie Optional

This category is the bugaboo for many young men attending weddings. The invitation says that black tie is “optional”, so what is the issue with wearing a pair of clean jeans or khakis and a really sharp sport shirt? The issue is that the term “Black Tie Optional” is not-so-secret code for “dress decently, for God’s sake.” Literally it means that you would not be the least bit out of place if you wore your dinner suit. With this variant, however, you may choose to wear a tastefully patterned tie or cummerbund with it, or you may opt for a dark business suit. Or a blue blazer and a pair of dark gray flannel trousers are equally at home at black tie optional events. In any case, a tie of some sort is not optional, nor is a sport coat, at the very least. If you have made the investment in a dinner suit, take this opportunity to wear it – it is certainly the rig that you look the best in. If you do not own one, wear your #1 suit and tie. Once more, mess dress is acceptable here, but a class A uniform will do equally well for military personnel.


OK, now we are really into vague areas. The reason this is such a minefield of choices is that the definitions of the words “festive” and “casual” vary so much between users. Also, you cannot rely on your solid old dinner suit for these events, you actually have to think about it and make some choices.
  • Consider where the event will be held: Is it at the beach? Or at the horse park?
  • Consider the event’s theme: Is it an equestrian theme? Or a country or Hawai’ian theme?
  • Consider the time of day: Evening events at the beach will likely require a warm layer that you can add later on.
For a lakeside wedding a few years ago I sported a vintage dinner jacket with a slightly rumpled pleated front shirt with a pair of well faded khakis. I accessorized with a straw boater and a navy blue Churchill dot bow, and looked, frankly, spectacular. If you are attending an island themed affair, a fresh and crisp Aloha shirt is in order with well pressed linen trousers. 

The secret to carrying off the festive or casual looks well is to remember that you are going to someone’s special affair, so look your best. “Casual” is not the same “casual” that you wear to the poolside barbecue in your own back yard. With no guests. No holes in pants, no matter how fashionable the Brass Ring employee told you they were, and no tee shirts with slogans on them are acceptable. In fact, no tee shirts at all. Consider how George Clooney carries casual off – a well-fitted navy blue suit with a plain point collar shirt, opened a couple of buttons. That is casual for the martini set, and it looks so very good. For a casual wedding military personnel should probably forgo a uniform in favor of smart civilian clothes in the spirit of the event.

In Short

The surest way to get through a wedding is to simply follow the rules. Bear in mind, you are the guest of the bride at what may very well be the most important day of her life. Dress in a manner that she will find the most pleasing, and you will do fine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Accessorizing With Leather

Leather accessories – we all have them. The main ones are belts, wallets, watch straps and shoes. Common wisdom and the rule of thumb states that all your leather should match, and that is correct about 70% of the time. So, if you are wearing brown shoes to go with your Donnegal tweed suit, match it up with a brown belt, wallet and watch strap. Simple.

What we really need to consider are those 30% that are exceptions to this rule.

In the spring and summer when you are wearing white flannels, white twills, white poplin or sailcloth slacks or seersucker, you will want to wear your white bucks. White suede belts, however, have no place in a gentleman's wardrobe. White fabric belts may be worn with trousers of exactly the same shade of white as the belt only. Hard white trousers with a hard white belt work because the belt becomes, essentially, invisible. White belts are never, ever, worn under other circumstances. Better than white belts are woolen twill belts or whimsically embroidered d-ring belts, all great for summer wear. In circumstances like this you will likely wear a sport watch with a metal band or a fabric band which may be coordinated with your belt. Coordinating your wallet with the other leathers is a very elegant touch, but not necessary. When wearing fabric alternatives to leather, a plain brown or black leather wallet is perfectly appropriate.

Another example of the 30% where the rule does not work perfectly: In the current era, black and navy slacks are often worn with brown shoes to excellent effect. I really enjoy this look as a more casual application of trousers that are typically perceived as dressier. The rule of thumb would dictate that with the brown shoes or boots, a brown belt should be worn, but that is not always the best. With black slacks, for example, a light or medium brown belt puts a stripe at the gentleman's midriff, which is not always the most flattering look. A dark brown belt may blend with the fabric colors better, but if that is not an option, break the rule and wear a black belt with the brown shoes.

In short, use the rule as you see fit. Matching leathers coordinates an outfit well, and gives a sense of finish to it, but it absolutely not a hard-and-fast rule. Keep it in mind, but break this one at will.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Norwegian Fisherman’s Sweater

This sweater is one of the icons of L.L. Bean, and I am pleased to announce that they have recently returned it to their catalogue. Here in California, there are only a few months wherein this is useful, but it is the best warm sweater when it is nippy outside.

In classic navy blue with a white bird's-eye weave, this sweater pairs well with just about any trousers that you will ever own. Wide wale corduroys, tweeds, flannels and khakis all work well with this one. A sport shirt, a dress shirt or a turtleneck are all perfect contenders underneath. A necktie or no – both equally appropriate. The short version is that outside the tennis sweater, this is the most valuable sweater that a gentleman can own. They are not cheap, but they are excellent investments. They wear beautifully and they look as good when they are "worn in" a bit as when they are new. If you inherit one from your pop or a sibling, it is that much better than a new one.

Now that they are available through L.L. Bean again, they are fairly modestly priced at $129. If you get them from other sources they may be had for slightly less to about $50 more. Again, an excellent investment in the wardrobe and if you are going to limit yourself to two sweaters, make this one the second.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Tennis Sweater

Whilst it is a convenient skill to have for when we are invited to the country club, tennis is not an absolute requirement for young gentlemen. The tennis sweater, on the other hand, is.

In the U. S. these are normally called tennis sweaters, though in the U. K. they are normally referred to as cricket jumpers. They are made of cotton or wool, they are usually cable knit, they are invariably V-necked, and they have a band of color or colors highlighting the neck and the cuffs. They may be white or cream color in the body, and, while the long sleeved version is the most useful, they are sometimes available as vests and, more rarely, as cardigans.

The basic wardrobe requirement is for the basic long sleeved pull over model. Under a blue blazer and with a long necktie or a bow, it adds and elegant layer. Best of all, and the real reason that this is an indispensible wardrobe piece, this is the only sweater that really looks well with shorts. Cream or white may be paired with white shorts at the country club or shipboard, or they may be paired equally well with khaki shorts. Naturally, it pairs perfectly with white flannels or with khakis.

This is both the most formal of sweaters and it has the potential to be quite casual as well. In New England and the northern climes sweater collections are normal, but out here in sunny California we generally don't have so many. If you are going to limit yourself to a single sweater, make it a good tennis sweater.

Friday, July 2, 2010


We buy it for the ladies in our lives. Some of us cultivate an appreciation of the good stuff, but it is the domain of the ladies. Except when it is not.

The Rules
Men should wear jewelry sparsely, if at all. Make your jewelry selections exquisite and meaningful. Here are a few items of appropriate gentlemen's jewelry:

  • Wedding Ring – Always appropriate. The ideal selection is a rich, dark gold band, unadorned by detailing: simple, classic, elegant. In that form, it is truly timeless. Unless your beloved insists on it, there is really no need to have matching rings with your spouse – that which makes a lovely ring for a lady does not necessarily work for a gentleman, and understatement is the best route for a man. That said, my own wedding ring is an Irish style claddagh in silver.
  • Military Decorations – Do not succumb to the temptation to wear miniature medals on dress clothes, but boutonnière representations of significant medals are always appropriate.
  • Cuff Links – Another place where men may wear the bling. Cuff links are no longer reserved for the most formal of occasions and they may dress up an otherwise casual outfit for an evening on the town. Again, keep selections fairly simple and classic. Toggle links with chain connectors are beautifully understated as are simple silk knots. Another thing not to be missed are the vast quantities of antique cuff links available for a song on eBay.
  • Tie Clasps and Tie Tacs - Some current style gurus have stated that these decorations are antiquated and make current clothes look dated. My personal belief is that whilst they are a bit old style, on an otherwise current and elegant rig they still look classic and elegant. Though this is going to be a bit of a mantra, old is better than new, so use whatever it is that Dad or Gramps left you.
  • Signet Rings – A single signet ring on the ring finger of the right hand is beautiful and appropriate. Normally engraved with a classic monogram, these are fantastic accessories. If a club ring is worn, this is the piece of jewelry that will go.
  • Fraternal and Club Jewelry – This comes most commonly as rings but also in the form of tie-clasps and tacs, lapel pins and cuff links. It is easy to get carried away with club jewelry, especially in organizations like the Masonic Lodge where there are numerous subsequent lodges, each of which has its own traditions and symbols. The rule of thumb is to keep your organizational jewelry to a single piece. One outfit, one club – that is all. I have seen some grand old Masons who have rings on every finger and thumb, tie tacs, cuff links and multiple lapel pins. They end up looking very wrong. Choose your club jewelry carefully and keep it simple.
  • Belt Buckle – Sometimes called a compression buckle, these go on 1" belts, sometimes called straps. The belt does not have holes in it, and the buckle is invariably sterling silver and is quietly engraved with the owner's initials. Or his father's. Or grandfather's. These buckles are getting harder to find, but they will likely have them at the best jewelry store in town or at the better quality men's stores. I am fond of the Reed & Barton engine turned model. This is part jewelry and part a simple requirement for gentlemen's clothing. You will likely have one for your whole life, so do not skimp.
  • Wristwatches – Like cuff links, wristwatches can end up as a major collectible for gentlemen who are so inclined. Unless you are collecting wrist watches, however, these do not need to be expensive. If your dad or grandpa gave you one, it may be ideal. Old Hamiltons and Elgins are great as are vintage Timexes. Mechanical examples are generally better choices than electric, and stay away from digital at all costs. For a dress watch, a simple and slim example in gold is ideal. For sportier wear you can go with something a bit chunkier, but do not overdo it. An old Rolex oyster is great. Unless you are a marine biologist, a Submariner may be a bit too much.
  • Fountain Pens – Completely unnecessary, fountain pens, whether new or antique, are great jewelry for gentlemen. Carried in the shirt pocket or the inside pocket of the jacket, these are definitively understated. I have an old Parker blue diamond 51 and a big, black senior Duofold that I love for their understatement.
  • Pocket Knives – Again, carry just one, and grandpa's carbon steel model that he carried in the Great War is ideal.
Some other options are things like old pocket watches and fobs. Just about anything that came down from your grandpa or a great uncle is an elegant touch. Do not overdo it, and be sure to wear whatever it is that you are wearing correctly. Pocket watches go in vests, not in the breast pocket of your suit jacket a la Gomez Addams.


A few things to avoid:

  • Heavy Gold Chains – Unless you are Tony Soprano or a Greek investment tycoon, avoid the gold chains.
  • Ear Rings
  • Anything Else That Requires a Piercing
  • A Gargantuan Belt Buckle – Unless you won it legitimately, stay away from gigantic trophy style buckles, even on jeans. If you did come by it legitimately, put it on a really fine and appropriately wide belt and keep it for jeans.
In Short
There are many types of jewelry for gents, just keep it understated and tasteful. Old is generally better than new, and family heirlooms are the best.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Dinner Suit

I have been promising a post on formal wear for some time, but it covers so much range that it is nearly due a blog of its own. I have found it a bit daunting. I have decided to break it up a bit, and I am beginning with what is, for most of us, the most useful and the least formal of formal wear: The Dinner Suit.


The dinner suit dates to England of 1860 when the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII of England, the most "fun" king of the modern era, had a bespoke smoking jacket made for him that would be more comfortable to wear at a dinner table than the traditional tailcoat. "Lounge suits" were becoming quite fashionable for day wear in that era – the prince was seeking an evening version of that comfortable wear.

Soon thereafter, the Dinner Jacket leapt the pond and became the rage at the Tuxedo Park Club in New York, earning it the American moniker, "Tuxedo."


You might notice that I periodically refer to the teen-aged employees at the mall formal-wear store with some contempt. This is only because I hold those stores in utter contempt. They need to sell new stuff every season, and, in truth, a good dinner suit is timeless. The only time that you need a new element is when the old one is worn out or destroyed. Bow-ties change a bit in size periodically, though less so now than they did in the 70's and 80's, but, beyond that, there is nothing new under the sun. You can get the best quality pieces that you can afford, and they will be in fashion in twenty years.

Whether referring to a Dinner Jacket, a Dinner Suit or a Tuxedo, they are all the same thing. The dinner suit should be black, though midnight blue examples are seen. It consists of a dinner jacket and a pair of formal trousers. It is worn with a waistcoat or a cummerbund, a formal shirt and a bow-tie. Footwear may range from a pair of highly polished black dress shoes all the way to the most formal of evening footwear, the opera pump. If headwear is worn with a dinner suit, it may be a black Homburg, Tribly, Fedora or, in the summertime, a straw boater. Top hats are a bit too formal for dinner suits.

The Dinner Jacket

This is the defining element of the Dinner Suit. If you have only one, it should be black and of a good quality woolen suiting. The lapels are normally faced in black satin or grosgrain silk and the shank buttons are often covered in the same fabric as the lapels. Sometimes you will find dinner jackets with black plastic buttons, and that is acceptable as well.

A black Dinner Jacket is acceptable year-round in any region. If you travel to tropical climes, however, you may wish to equip yourself with a white or off-white dinner jacket as well. This may be made of linen, but if you stick to a lightweight worsted wool you will find that it will keep its shape better, especially in humid, warm environments, than the linen versions. The cut of the white dinner jacket is identical to the black version, but the lapels are often not faced in silks. Contrary to what the mall-store employee will tell you, you do not need to match white shirts to the off-white dinner jacket. The layered white-on-white look is very traditional, and handsome.

The cut of the dinner jackets may be single or double-breasted, and it may have one or two buttons, though one is only ever buttoned. The lapels may be peaked, notched or shawl style. There are as many opinions on the best or most correct form that the dinner jacket should take as there are gentlemen, and you will certainly develop your own tastes in these things. Because of its roots in the smoking jacket tradition, I prefer shawl lapels over the other options. Because the dinner jacket spends as much time open as it does buttoned, I prefer a single-breasted, single button version. When I have done master-of-ceremonies work, however, I prefer a 2-on-1 double breasted version.

Formal Trousers

Formal trousers have a clean, sleek line from the waist to the hem. Often they are a bit higher waisted than your dress slacks, and they invariably lack belt-loops. They are held in place by braces. Avoid the type with the adjustable waist-band as these just scream "rental". Again contradicting the mall-store wisdom, they may or may not have narrow stripes down each leg, often matching your lapel facings on your black dinner jacket, much in the manner of military uniform trousers. These stripes became popular during World War I when military fashion was seeping into civilian styles as well, but there is no necessity for stripes on your trousers.

Dark tartan trousers are an acceptable alternative, especially around the holidays. These are best if the tartan has some ties to your family, but a Black Watch tartan may be worn by anyone. Whilst it may be tempting for our highland brethren to wear a kilt with a dinner jacket, that temptation should be denied. If you are going to wear a kilt, you should go with full highland wear including an appropriate jacket, and that is all a discussion for another day.

Braces or suspenders are worn to keep the trousers in place. Most traditionally they are black silk, though they may be any color or pattern that the wearer chooses. If you are wearing a white or off-white dinner jacket, however, you should wear braces that are the same color as your shirt, as dark braces may show through the jacket in some lighting.

Waistcoat or Cummerbund

Around the middle, a waistcoat or cummerbund is worn. Each is equally traditional, but if you have an antique watch fob or chain that you wish to display, you may prefer the waistcoat.


The waistcoat or vest for a dinner suit is most traditionally black and either of a black fabric matching the trousers and the body of the dinner jacket, or it may be made of the fabric of the lapel facings. It normally will have lapels and will be very low cut. Avoid backless faux-vests as, again, these scream "I am wearing a rental suit" as nothing else will.

Less traditionally, but equally acceptable in most settings, colorful vests in a formal cut are a way to personalize your dinner suit. These may or may not match your bow-tie. If you are wearing a colorful vest that does not have a matching bow, be sure that you restrain yourself to a traditional black tie.


The cummerbund is a sort of faux-sash worn about the belly as an alternative to the waistcoat. It normally has several pleats and is of a fabric to match your lapel facings and your bow-tie. They fasten in the back with a small buckle. Again, these may be worn in interesting colors or patterns and, if so, your cummerbund should match your bow-tie.


The formal shirt is white cotton. It may have a pleated front, a plain front or, atypically, a stiff front as worn with white tie.

The collar on your formal shirt should be the turn-down type as found on your dress shirts. Prior to World War II, formal shirts generally had plain collar bands, and winged collars were starched and put on separately. In imitation of this look, after the war many formal shirt producers started manufacturing formal shirts with attached winged collars.


The traditional neck-wear with a dinner suit is a black bow-tie of the same material as the lapel facings on your black dinner jacket. This is the correct neck-wear, and, if you are invited to a formal event that is not on the lawn, stick to the traditional black.

Additionally, learn to tie a bow. It is a very simple procedure that may be learned online from sites such as or Ben Silver, among others. A genuine bow always looks appropriate whereas a pre-tied bow looks as if you do not care.

Since the 1960s, colorful and patterned bow-ties have become popular with dinner suits. If you feel the urge, try to resist it. If it is overwhelming, be very careful in your selection of ties. The rule of thumb is, if you are in any doubt whatsoever, go with the black tie. With black, you cannot go wrong.

You may have noticed in various Hollywood functions in recent years that Windsor knotted ties are becoming popular. Again, resist this temptation. The bow-tie is definitive of the dinner suit. Remove the bow-tie and you are left with a black business suit.


The most traditional, formal footwear to wear with a dinner suit is the black patent leather opera pump or court shoe. These are thin soled and look a bit like ladies' ballet flats. They have grosgrain bows on the toes. As long as you are not hiking or dancing a great deal, they are actually quite comfortable. They are also mind-bogglingly expensive for shoes that you may wear three times per year. An alternative to the opera pump is a simple black patent lace-up oxford shoe, but, again, it is a special investment for a shoe that will not get that much wear. If you have a good quality pair of black oxfords, as you should, put a high polish on them and wear those with your dinner suit. They are perfectly appropriate and you will certainly get more use out of them in the long run.

An alternative to shoes, if he is entertaining in his own home, a gentleman may wear black velvet Albert slipper with a toe monogram. Again, terribly expensive, but oh, so stylish.

The stockings worn are most traditionally black sheer silk and they are held up with suspenders or garters. If you are wearing opera pumps or Albert slippers, you should definitely get the silk hose. Otherwise, opt for a sheer, black over-the-calf stocking.


There are many accessories for dinner suits, but be selective.

  • Studs and Links. Your formal shirt will require cuff links and studs to fasten the front. Traditionally formal shirts require three studs, though stud sets come in sets of four. Many modern shirts do require four studs - if not you have a handy extra for the one that you will surely lose. On dinner suits, black onyx studs are traditional, but white mother-of-pearl is also acceptable. Furthermore, if you have a pair of tasteful cuff links that you would like to wear,  it is perfectly acceptable to wear links that do not match your studs. For formal studs and links, my personal preference is for vintage models, readily available from eBay.
  • Watches. Your wristwatch should be slim and elegant or eschewed altogether. If you have an antique fob or chain that you wish to wear, you may wear a pocket watch. Generally speaking, you are not at formal events to watch the clock, so a watch is completely optional.
  • Handkerchiefs. A white linen handkerchief. As mentioned elsewhere, silk and cotton pocket squares are out there, but the best choice is white linen.
  • Boutonnière. A cornflower, rosebud or carnation may be worn in the lapel if a buttonhole is provided. Your florist will want to "gild the lily" by tying it up with all sorts of extra vegetation, but that is wrong. You want the simple flower, and nothing else. Gardenias are often worn in France, but never with a pocket handkerchief.
  • Topcoats. Your topcoat should be black or dark gray. A velvet collar is an acceptable touch, though not necessary. If gloves are worn, they should be gray leather – white kid is strictly for white tie. If a scarf is worn, white silk is the most traditional.
  • Hat. Again, if a hat is worn, the most traditional is the black homburg. In the summer, a straw boater with a black grosgrain ribbon is best. Top hats are wrong with dinner suits.

In Short

The dinner suit is a wonderful thing to have in the wardrobe. It may be worn to dinner parties or to dinner dates at the good restaurant. It is a brilliantly contrived garment that makes every man look tall and slim. The design, whilst it looks good on the wearer, is truly focused on making the ladies whom we escort look their best. We are not the peacocks, we are the quiet, dashing gentlemen that our beautiful ladies are with. The best off-the-rack dinner suits that I have ever owned were from Cable Car Clothiers in San Francisco, California. They still carry some of the finest formal-wear in the United States, and I recommend them highly. They are not, however, truly an Internet presence even today, and their formal wear is not on their website the last I looked.