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The Art of Pattern Mixing

The good news is to dress well anyone with polite awareness, common sense and some effort can escape fashion scorn.  The bad news, dressing well is to go beyond, and does require much familiarity with sartorial influences.  But not difficult, dressing well is an acquired skill honed with practice.  Foundational,  understanding design elements and their unique relationships to each other; color at least an elementary understanding for most of us, texture a bit esoteric, understanding pattern mixing, a must. Style sophistication is inherently no more appealing with multiple patterns than dress of a simple elegance, but dressing would become rather boring without no pattern introduction.      

So, here we go, first, the history.  As with most enduring styles of today the Prince of Wales introduced America to a casual elegance identified mostly by his affinity for mixing an array of checks, stripes plaids and royal prints.  Having acquired his fashion aplomb as relief from the stiff, formal fastidious dress of royal attire.  And, preferring to spend considerable time with the English aristocracy on their country estates.  The dress of the day reflecting an outdoor lifestyle.  Royal hunting lodges and estates introducing a culture of fabrics, tartans, tweeds, plaids, argyles, and district checks worn by the hosts and guest in an affected but deliberately casual elegance.

First, articles of clothing we will harmonize by the mixing of patterns.  Our canvas begins with our jacket (the trouser, with few exceptions is subordinated to a silent complimentary roll), then the furnishings and accessories we choose to compliment the jacket thereafter.  The most common composition in the mixing of pattern apparel has always been the suit, dress shirt and necktie.  And for the enthusiast a pocket square and socks should not be forgotten in the ensemble.  Today with the necktie reduced in its prominence, the odd jacket, sport shirt composition, with the enthusiast never without the natty  detail of a pocket square, most common.

You may have noted, the trouser seems to be an afterthought. No, only in need of some clarity. The trouser, should it be the patterned mate of a suit jacket, would have a roll in our composition, and the pattern sock applicable to the rules of design to follow.  Similarly, an odd trouser of a pattern design and the pairing of pattern socks.  Or an odd trouser with no pattern paired with a sock in a bolder either color, pattern, or both.  Mindful of all the design rules to follow, most pattern mistakes are made with socks and easily corrupt all your efforts.  Finally, not an absolute, but may I suggest no pattern mixing for the trouser and shirt.     

To simplify the art of pattern mixing let us begin with the most forgiving, other than solids of course, the easiest patterns to understand, mixing two stripes.  Always vary the scale of the patterns…one being noticeably different from the other.  An example, the suit Jacket a wider space, the dress shirt a narrower space, and if you choose a stripe for the necktie, bolder.  Of the three never similar spacing or design.

Next, mixing checks and plaids each requiring a bit more understanding and thought.  While stripes are designs naturally compatible , checks paired together and plaids paired together, well, let us just not risk.  However, checks paired with plaids, a sartorial favorite.  And, a reminder of scale mentioned above, perhaps even more important in this mix.  We should also introduce at this time the importance of color compatibility.  While contrasting color (two different colors together) can be appealing and most interesting, rather than harmony, please know, the possibility of discord as well.  Again, the risk exceeds the reward…a more conservative tonal color choice wins the day when mixing checks and plaids.

Further, exceptions and contradictions are both found when mixing two different patterns (stripes, checks, plaids etc.).  While varying scale differentiates two like patterns, similar scale must be used to harmonize unlike patterns.  Considering our canvas, a bold design paired with an unlike pattern should be paired with a bold design of equal scale.  Also, helpful to the harmony are the colors chosen, preferably reflecting a color continuity.  However, a contradiction, two unlike small patterns paired, are once again in need of varying scale, and the colors chosen also to reflect a color continuity.

Finally, the challenge of mixing three patterns.  Truly a risk reward proposition…successful, and your best dressed in the room.  Essential to your success, is all three patterns must differ.  To harmonize, the scale should be similar for each pattern, complimented with a color continuity.

Enjoy some time in study.  Develop a working knowledge of fashion, practice, it is fun, it is rewarding.  Dress well.

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Never underestimate the power of what you wear

Suits, in the beginning thought to originate from the seventeenth century.  A costume nightmare of long coats, waistcoats, cravats, breeches, stockings and of course wigs.  Legend or fact, before re-ascending the throne, King Charles while exiled to European travels was impressed by the various Courts of Europe, particularly the Parisian’s and their dressing splendor.  By decree King Charles is said to have set executive standards of dress.  Thus, assumed either by the decree or influence of the Kings dress, also the British Court’s fashion of the day.

Beau Brummell, a nineteenth century cosmopolitan fellow by nature, rejected the fuss of dressing in favor of a simpler elegance, designing a fitted two-piece ensemble, jacket and trousers of matching fabrics (todays suit).  Absent nobility, yet an original dandy, and somehow a mover and shaker of nineteenth century English court life,  could not help, but  to be noticed by society’s elite.  His appealing style, befriended by the Prince (who would become King George 1V), understood the look as an understated statement of confidence and standing.  A statement in which resonates as well today.

From these prehistory beginnings American colonist certainly aware of the fashion, continued to be influenced by a more evolved European society.  As such the Beau Brummell creation of what was known as a lounge suit, a casual garment for the elite and dressed-up for the working class soon became a symbol of American establishment.  Easy to wear, the suit offered a polished and professional appearance to all.  The suit today, generally consider worn as an expression of more serious intentions and respect for one’s workplace or host.  An elevated level of dress, second only to evening formal (Tuxedo) or State Affairs (Tails). 

However, changes in the form of the suit have been many.  To be sure the fashion industry, has on occasion made mistakes in suit design (we will address this another time), but more often changes in suit design represent the cultural sensibilities of the day: the industrial age, the roaring twenties, the golden age of cinema, the war years, 50’s conformity, the last impactful design changes 80’s materialism, the dressing down plague, and the costumed new millennium…super skinny 60’s rocker style, Thom Browne’s Pee-Wee Herman tribute, Mad Men cloning, the introduction of the elegance of Northern Italy (thank goodness), and the overzealous personal style extending  competition to off the floor.  Changes today, more subtle…the current prevailing trend, like it or not a tighter fitting suit.  That too will likely change.

But rest assured despite the threats from fashion and a continuing dressing down plague, the strength and commanding presence of this iconic fashion endures.  Welcome to the social contract by which we all should understand, not obligated, but unwritten rules for dress that quite simply offer a bit more joy to life.  Never underestimate the power of what you wear.  It pays to dress well.

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Our Thoughts, History of the Navy Blazer

Debate if you will the origin of one of our most enduring styles, the navy blazer… whether the romantic story of Queen Victory reviewing the crew of the  HMS Blazer; so inspired by the dapper nature of the crew in their dark navy tailored woolen jackets with shiny brass buttons…declared on the spot, henceforth the jacket style be known as a blazer.  Ultimately this standardized dress worn by Officers in the British Royal Navy is credited to have evolved from something of a style competition between crews of the HMS Blazer and Harlequin Navy ships out of frustration by the Captains with the otherwise sloppy dress of their crew.

Or, you may ascribe the origin to the more generally accepted historically accurate account tracing the name to the bright (blazing) red jackets worn by members of the rowing club at St. Johns College, Cambridge, England.  Worn for warmth, but moreover to identify rowers of a team competing in regattas.  Call it fast fashion of the day, the jackets blazing of color so nicknamed “blazers” are soon worn daily as a status symbol of membership and accomplishment.  Some believe the predecessor to the Letterman’s jacket…hence an historical debate.  A Naval origin or sporting, nevertheless, can we agree, both come from water.

Without debate, American style at the turn of the century is heavily influenced by our British allies, the blazer too was no exception.  Most prominently influenced, an American aristocracy, and thus those who aspired to such standing also influenced.  First appearing on American shores during the great depression the blazer was embraced by only those who could, the pre-eminent Brooks Brothers and the unspoken training ground for future American elite, the Ivy League.  The blazer rapidly became “de rigueur” fashion for the privileged of the day and for those outside this elite group, a symbol of perhaps belonging.

So, here we are today…the blazer a renaissance of attire, true classicism surely endures.  We would suggest, preferably a deep rich navy, fabrics for each season or for all seasons, distinctive, purposeful button choices, and always well-tailored.  Wear with a jean should you feel creative, a knit tie, if so influenced by Italian artisans, or a timeless expression, grey flannels, dress shirt and appropriate blazer striped neckwear for more serious intentions.

Again, debate if you will the origin, the pretense, the conformity and move beyond.  Be wise, a blazer always should hang in your wardrobe, ready to ease you gracefully through society’s travels.  If absent, welcome back for one simple reason:  nothing looks better.    

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Let Them Wear Scarves

Scarves have been worn since ancient times. evidence found in writings, images and statues. historians tell us.  Historical research determined (the Sudarium, Latin for sweat cloth) worn around the neck, or tied on the belt served to towel perspiration for hygiene through cleanliness, maintaining health and preventing disease.

Much later historians believed the scarf was utilized as a uniform accessory to identify officers rank.  (Cravats) the precursor to the present-day necktie a more formal design of the scarf and prominent in military uniforms around the world share the same purpose as well as a detail in formal military dress in the US.  It is this very identification purpose which Britain adopted similarly as traditional sporting wear as a show of support to the local athletic team.  And by extension could be argued has led to a billion-dollar sports apparel industry.   

Many more uses have surfaced over the years.  Most notably the use of scarves (also known as mufflers) in cold weather climates.  Generally, a thick yarned knitted scarf made of heavy wool tied around the neck and or wrapped around the face and ears for cover from the cold.

Drier, dustier climates where many airborne contaminants exist, a kerchief or bandana is often worn as protection for the eyes, nose and mouth, as well as a protector from harmful rays of the sun and heat.  

Religion also plays a defining role.  Christian denominations include a scarf known as a stole, part of the Liturgical vestments. And, earlier social customs preferred the wearing of head scarves as a modest symbol as well as determining marital status.  Many Western religions today although varied, as a matter of law, require headscarves for both men and women as part of a religious service, prayer and a prevailing social culture expecting a display of modesty by wearing the headscarf.

It is these customs that overtime, scarves evolved into fashionable accessory as a choice for dress rather than a cultural demand.  And, by the twentieth century have become an essential accessory detail for the well dressed, both men and women.

Scarves are varied in size from just long and wide enough to wrap around the neck, to cover both neck face, ears and head, to small blanket sized for stoles and shawls.  Fabrics are solids and patterns, plain or jacquard knitted and woven by machine or hand, made of the most common fabrics to the most luxurious cottons, linens, silks and wools and generally found in three shapes triangle, square or rectangle.  These fabrics, rather than only a knitted or woven design, are also printed.  Prints, a more expensive process, are most often found in women’s couture silks.

As antiquity speaks to the intent and usefulness of the scarf, could there be any better use than for today’s health challenge?  Rather than leaving the house, uncomfortable with the surgical mask, please donate and opt for a more fashionable choice; grab your favorite scarf.  Whether sartorial choices, uniformed expectations, religious and social symbolism or healthy practices…” let them wear scarves”.   

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Cloth of a Different Weave

Fiber, the smallest unit of cloth visible, is either a staple fiber (a short measurable length) or a filament fiber (a continuous length).  Fibers are natural or can be man-made.  Natural fibers are protein (meaning they come from animals) and cellulose (meaning they come from plants).  Man-made fibers are regenerated cellulose, today mostly purified wood pulp (rayon and acetate) and non cellulose, a petroleum product (nylon and polyester).  Natural protein fibers, wool come from the gathered or shorn hair of animals…alpaca, camel, cashmere, goat vicuna, angora.  Silk, on the other hand, is collected from the secretions of the silkworm. 

Fibers by themselves are not much use in making fabric.  They must be combined into strands then spun into yarn.  Yarns may be used singularly or twisted together as plied yarns.  Twist in a yarn will influence the fabric hand, absorbency, elasticity, luster and strength.  The spinning process first begins with carding…a process that cleans the fiber.  Following is combing (cotton), worsted (woolens) processes to straighten fibers to a uniform standard and to cull out the shorter fibers.  These processes are labor intensive but create a refined tighter construction for a higher-grade yarn.  Finally, the spinning process of which several systems are used (bobbins, spindles, cops, tubes, cheeses,etc.) to determine yarn size and ultimately thread count determining the density and quality of the fabric to be produced.  Fabric is formed by non-woven knitting and woven processes including a finishing process necessary to most fabrics before considered the finest of fabrics available to be used in clothing products.

Non-woven knitted fabrics share dozens of common processes, but all share one characteristic to differentiate them from woven…they each have just one set of yarns looping together to create the fabric.  Knits are not as strong as a woven, but they have more stretch.  The earliest knitting process dates to (A.D.250) a hand process until 1589, when Reverend Henry Lee invented the flat bed knitting machine.  Many knitted products are considered heirloom pieces, works of art…timeless styles, Argyle, Intarsia, Fairisle, Shaker, Fisherman and Cable knits.  Always everlasting favorites.   

Plain woven fabrics, on the other hand, have two sets of yarns interlacing at right angles.  Woven on a machine called a loom…warp (a single yarn is called an end), held under tension from the back of the loom to the front.  Weft (a single yarn is called a pick), filling yarns carried back and forth across the loom via a shuttle interlacing with the warp.  Unlike the many knit variations, weaves are few, three basic weaves. 

Plain weaves, the simplest fastest production and as such, most common, used in 80% of all woven fabrics.  Particularly shirting’s (Broadcloth, Chambray, Madras, End on End, Linen) and lighter weight clothing fabrics (Crepe, Poplin, Seersucker, wool worsted). 

Basket weaves, a simple variation of the plain weave…two or more yarns going the warp length and the weft width rather than one as in the plain weave (Oxford Cloth, Hopsacking and Repps).  Repp weaves are most often used for necktie production.

Twill weaves, the second most common of the three weaves, are characterized by pronounced diagonals on the fabric face.  Sturdy fabrics originated in Northern Europe for durability and warmth (Covert, Calvary Twill, Denim, Drill cloth, Tweed, Gabardine).  For variations in the weave, the direction of the diagonal is changed, creating patterns such as Herringbone, Houndstooth, Shepherd and District checks Glen plaid, common plaid, Windowpane, Tattersall and more.

Plain weave with a Satin finish originated in countries that trade in silk fibers.  Woven with a minimum number of staggered interlacing, the face of the fabric has more warp and weft than the back creating a smooth reflective surface (Blazer, Suede cloth, Chino). 

Plain weave with miscellaneous Dobby effects refer to fabrics with small woven figures, dots, geometric patterns and floral raised from the surface of the cloth.  Woven by an automated Dobby loom today, originally the hand loom relied on a “Dobby boy” who sat on the top of the loom and, by hand raised warp threads to form a pattern.

Plain weaves with a filling pile created by floating extra picks on the surface cut in and out of the loom to form tufts of pile.  When cut the pile appears in a row (wale).  Fabrics include velvet and corduroy.

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Artful Printing

Artful Printing

For the many years man has been making fabrics, he too has
been dyeing fabrics.  The process,
relatively simple, depending on the method, and over the years hundreds of
methods have been developed.  Each one
solving a need or bettering the first.

As such, so too has printing.  Think of printing as localized dyeing.  Designs are applied to a fabric through
varied printing processes.  Printing most
common to Steven Giles selections are:

BLOCK PRINTING is the oldest form.  Designs are carved into wooden, linoleum or
copper blocks, and separate blocks made for each color in the design.  This hand blocked (printed) operation is very
tedious, production is very low, cost tend to be rather high.  But the finished product is truly an artisan

DISCHARGE PRINTING is used to print medium to dark colored
fabrics with white or colored design. 
After the fabric has been piece dyed, the color in specific areas is
bleached out removing the ground color. 
The fabric is then direct-printed with the design.  Any design and color can be used; however the
bleach process may weaken the fabric.

DIRECT PRINTING (roller calender or cylinder) is a process
where white ground fabrics are fed into a machine to pass through color rollers
etched with the design.  This process is
the same way common for newspaper printing. 
The design is somewhat limited to traditional patterns and a relatively
small repeat size.  

DIGITAL PRINTING for textiles started in the late 1980’s as
a possible replacement for screen printing.  
Described as any ink jet-based method of printing designs and color on
fabric.  Design is processed by a
computer, and then printed directly on to the fabric.  Digital, while improving, is yet to replicate
the depth of color provided by older methods, and economies currently favor
other forms of printing for larger minimums, however small runs are relatively
cheaper with digital.

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Click link to watch THE GOOD ITALIAN I

It is not a question of creating a commercial masked as an art-house film, but a far more ambitious project.

The objective of Caruso’s short movie is to represent and promote, through the most universal media that exists, the brand’s inspiring concept.  THE LIFESTYLE OF A GOOD ITALIAN.

Caruso wants the world to know that the whole of Italy, not just the most famous tourist destinations, is imbued with that and that have made the “italian lifestyle” so natural, yet so extraordinary to appear almost unreal.  And this is why the narrative uses the language of fairytales and “suspenion of disbeleif” as artistic approach.


Nature, Art, Opera, Architecture, Gastronomy, Tailoring… are all expressed to the best in Soragna and its immediate surroundings, to be visited on foot, by bicycle or in a horse-pulled carriage like the noble families that were once the masters of these lands. Caruso, which carries the best of the Italian tailoring tradition in a contemporary setting, wanted this fantastic story to evoke the emotions and pleasure that give authenticity and meaning to the brand.

A couple of English tourists on bike come across by chance a small tumbledown farmhouse, which reveals, behind the creaking door, the interior of a princely mansion: the dining room of the of the Prince Meli Lupi of Soragna, featuring some of the most important baroque frescoes in northern Italy.

The prince, played by actor Giancarlo Giannini, is very hospitable and welcomes the two tourists to his table, laden with from the cellars of Italy’s top producer (the “Antica Corte Pallavicina” of the Spigaroli brothers) together with the typical local wines, from the cellar of a renowned award-winning restaurant in Soragna, “La Stella D’Oro”.



The final touch is the transformation of the guest, initially dressed in a cycling jacket and knickerbockers, who is accompanied by, the loyal butler and Caruso testimonial, to the prince’s dressing room and invited to put on an impeccably tailored blue suit.


All the clothes worn in the 5 minutes short movie, will be available at the CARUSO flagship stores in New York and Milan and online at, the luxury e-store offering a selectionof prestigious international brands.


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A New Suiting Staple: Caruso and Loro Piana’s Gobigold Collection

By Kareem Rashed

The two Italian heavyweights have teamed up to create an ultrafine new fabric that gives cashmere and vicuña a run for their money.

As far as fabrics go, you know the existing hierarchy: Cotton is good, wool is better, cashmere’s the best. That’s been the status quo—give or take some mohair and vicuña—for almost as long as looms have been spinning. But leave it to two storied Italian houses, tailoring brand Caruso and textile titan Loro Piana, to develop a new fabric contending for the title of world’s most exquisite textile. Their proprietary invention, called Gobigold, is crafted from the most exclusive pure camel hair.


Camel hair is by no means a new fabric. It’s been a choice material for topcoats since the early 20th century, prized for its softness and insulating properties. But there’s a reason why one doesn’t see camel suits. The fabric is particularly thick and heavy, which may be appealing in a coat but makes for a stiff, unbreathable suit. The master weavers at Loro Piana, however, have developed technology that allows them to craft a fabric from the finest camel-hair fibers sourced from camels in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. To give you a sense of this refining process, only 30 percent of camel hair is suitable for clothing, and Gobigold is made from the thinnest fibers of that 30 percent. This makes for an exceptionally soft, flexible, and lightweight fabric with a feel and drape akin to the very best cashmere or vicuña.

The pure camel-hair Gobigold is ideal for fall and winter suits, as it is notably insulating. But even better, the fashion houses have blended it with Super 170’s merino wool for a more versatile option, and come spring, there’s even a unique mix of Gobigold and Irish linen. Available in a variety of suits, coats, and sportswear cut with Caruso’s signature style—dapper tailoring balanced with an easy elegance—the Gobigold collection has us thinking that camel may be the new cashmere.

A New Suiting Staple: Caruso and Loro Piana’s Gobigold Collection

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The Art Of Menswear Making By Caruso

Written by:  Gentlemen’s Diary November 29, 2015

Caruso is an Italian menswear manufacturer which emblematises the traditions and principles of quality, handmade tailoring. Originally established by Raffaele Caruso, upon his move from Naples to Soragna in 1958, the small, family run tailoring shop came to exist in several different incarnations across the decades, eventually growing to become one of Europe’s biggest and most advanced menswear producers by the early 2000s.

Having come under the guidance of fashion world entrepreneur Umberto Angeloni, Caruso took the form it takes today, and has continued to go from strength to strength. It achieves this because of its unwavering commitment to fabrics and construction methods of the highest calibre: the principles which have garnered Caruso its fine reputation since the beginning.

Crucially, Caruso takes the utmost pride in the fact that all of its garments are handmade in Italy, a narrative which they claim is one part romantic, one part technical. The idea that a piece is made in Italy undoubtedly conjures evocative imagery, and perhaps even makes something all the more covetable. But the technical part of the narrative ensures that this extra desirability is not for any shallow reasons, but rather because Caruso always produces superior garments.

GDM team had the opportunity to visit Caruso headquarters in Soragna Italy and to see up-close the journey of making menswear for real gentlemen. It was a lifetime experience for us and we wanted to share it with you ladies & gentlemen. Take a look of the photos below and live the Caruso experience yourself.

For more information visit the official Caruso website here or follow them in their official social media accounts.

#CarusoMenswear #InMenswearDoAsTheItaliansDo








Photos: GDM team