The Trenches

Your non-intimidating guide to the suit and all of his friends.

The Trenches, meet Ice. Ice, The Trenches.

— 4 years ago

About wool

Well about wool, there’s quite a lot to know. This article will stick with addressing the washing and felting (or fulling) of wool.

As some of you might know, or had the horror of experiencing, washing wool can be quite a drag. Every time feels like playing the lottery: will you win back the jumper you put into the machine or walk away empty handed? Now, there are a few basic principles that apply when it comes to washing wool that’ll ease your burdens:

  • First of all, you don’t really have to wash wool that often. About every 6 months or so will do. Does that sound disgusting to you? Well, it’s not.
    For most people, cotton is the point of reference. Now, cotton stains, in many ways. Its fibres are twined and bumpy, and dirt gets into it cavities as well as into the actual fibre (when wet). Wool fibre, on the other hand, is rounder with less cavities, and doesn’t allow for dirt to penetrate into the actual fibre. (Imagine having dirt within your own hair straws). Because of this, just hanging your wool garment outside for a few hours will freshen it up enough to wear a while longer.
  • When you finally do wash, there are a few things to think about. You’ll need a machine that has a hand wash- or wool-program. Preferably the latter. You’ll need not to pack too many garments in at once, just a few items per wash. Finally, you’ll need a wool detergent. This is important, since ordinary detergents are likely to stick to and ruin the wool.
  • When your garments done washing, you’ll have to leave it to dry flat. You might want to reshape it a bit whilst damp as well. Don’t bother trying to tumble dry it, might just as well toss it in the bin then.

Why all the hassle? This is due to the construction of the fibre. If you look at the first picture, you’ll see that the fibre has scales. Now imagine a jumper made out a lot of these. Put that mental jumper into a washing machine and let it spin and rub against all of the rest of the garments. This will cause the scales on the fibres to hook on to the scales of others, forcing the fibres together. This phenomenon is called felting. This is the reason why some of your wool garments come out of the washing machine (or tumble dryer) half the size they were.

Washing with the wool-program basically means that the garment is draped in water and detergent, and every now and then only moved around slightly. And that’s how you should wash it as well, should you wash it by hand.

If you’re tired of fearing for your garments well being, you should look for Superwash-treated ones in the future. These have got a really thin plastic film covering the surface of the fibre (seen on the second picture), removing the unwanted felting effect otherwise caused by the scales.

There you go!

— 4 years ago

The Young Dandy

It seems like ungrateful business, dressing up the young. They’ll grow out of their mini blazers within weeks and they’ll refuse to wear it and whatnot. But it does look awesome, and it might leave a legacy of dandyism - if that’s what you’re looking for. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll have tons of fantastic photos, like the ones above, for the future to see.

And if you’re looking for a better uses per item value/ratio, you should get more kids.

Polo Ralph Lauren offers a great kids line. Just check out these sportcoats.

The first photo is from, go have a look!

— 4 years ago

Getting the sleeve length right

This is a deal breaker. It won’t matter how much money you spend on your suit, how perfectly combined it is with all of your accessories, however great the rest of it fits or how good you think you look in it. If your suit sleeves are eating away at your hands, people will think that it’s your fathers.

Now here’s some great piece of advice: first, take care of the sleeve length right away, preferably whilst buying it. Secondly, do not, not, listen to shopkeepers. These weasels will tell you anything to make you walk out of their store with a suit, but without a ‘hassle’.

You’ve got to know for yourself, because nobody’ll tell you. Here’s what you need to know:

Have you seen the fourth image above? The beautiful one, that I stole and edited myself? Take a look, and now look at your own hand. Notice the wrinkle between your thumb and index finger when you place them close together? From where that wrinkle ends, it should be about 4 cm to where the sleeve of the suit jacket starts. Give or take 1 cm, depending on wether you like to show less or more of your shirt cuffs. It’s common to have the sleeve length a bit shorter than average if you’ll be wearing double shirt cuffs, leaving these and the cuff-links more visible.

A few more things. As I wrote in a previous post:

"Do not have the space between where the sleeve ends and the buttons start shortened (or lengthened) without moving the buttons and all the details up (or down) the sleeve accordingly. It’s easily done, but find a tailor that has the right equipment to remake the buttonhole stitches."

And one last thing: if you’re buying a suit with one or more buttonholes open, which is more common on more expensive suits, you won’t be adjusting the sleeve length at all. Since that’ll leave a hole in the fabric.

Now, off to the tailor!

— 5 years ago
#Posted by John  #Tips  #Tailoring tips  #Sleeves  #Cuffs  #Double cuffs 

Paul Smith for Evian

I realise that water might be a bit of a stretch from the theme of this blog, but this is quite exciting, isn’t it?

— 5 years ago
#Paul Smith  #Evian  #Off topic  #Posted by John 

John Smedley - AW2009

The company John Smedley has been around some 220 years, and has since that time done one thing, and one thing only: classic knitwear. Their point of view seem to be that quality lasts, and that there ought to be people interested in wearing other colours than beige, brown and black during the dark half of the year. They might be right.

As winter draws closer, you should take the opportunity to wear pullovers with your suit or suit trousers. Obviously it’ll add another layer to keep you warm, but moreover it’ll give you another variable in your daily outfit. John Smedley won’t disappoint you when it comes to their colour range, and neither will their quality.

Their winter collection is usually made up from New Zealand extra fine merino wool. It’s got great lustre, brilliant colour and the company claims it to be machine washable in a standard 40ºC program. The summer collection is made out of Sea Island cotton, which is the finest cotton fibre (barely) available in the world.

They’ve got v-necks, rounded necks, polos and much more. Don’t miss out! You won’t regret owning one.

— 5 years ago
#John Smedley  #Knitwear  #Merino wool  #Posted by John  #Pull overs  #Sea Island Cotton  #Wool 

What does Super 100’s mean?

Many shopkeepers will be bragging about their top notch wool suits, using any vaguely defined word they can find that seems to say something about the marvellous qualities they possess. The most common one found in wool suits is the Super X’s. Most people realise that if anything is labeled “Super”-anything, it’s got to be real rad. Add an increasing number after it, and you’re set. After we’ve cleared this matter out, you should take the opportunity to harass shopkeepers about it whenever a chance is presented to you.

Here’s how it works. Wool fibres are basically hair from sheep. Now, sheep, like man, comes in many different types.  I’ll leave the different types of sheep and their wool available for a later post, but the basic run down is: thin wool fibre is just great.

It’s usually said that thinner wool will feel nicer to the hand, but the thickness of the fibre is just one of many factors affecting this. It will, however, look better in a suit. This since thin wool fibre (hair) can be spun into a thinner thread. Thinner thread makes for thinner weave. Thinner weave makes a thinner suit. Suit’s made from thinner weave generally looks much more elegant, and won’t generally crease as easily. As a layman you might not understand at first why a particular suit seems so appealing compared to the rest, but a real thin and high quality wool thread might be the reason why.

Well strayed, time for facts:

Super X’s (where X is a number) is a marking that corresponds to the average diameter of the wool thread that the suit is made out of. The number does not have anything to do with the actual diameter though, it’s just nonsense. Here’s the scale:

Fibre Quality - Microns (Micro millimeters)

Super 80’s - 19.5 μm
Super 90’s - 19.0 μm
Super 100’s - 18.5 μm
Super 110’s - 18.0 μm
Super 120’s - 17.5 μm
Super 130’s - 17.0 μm
Super 140’s - 16.5 μm
Super 150’s - 16.0 μm
Super 160’s - 15.5 μm
Super 170’s - 15.0 μm
Super 180’s - 14.5 μm
Super 190’s - 14.0 μm
Super 200’s - 13.5 μm
Super 210’s - 13.0 μm

Higher Super-number means thinner wool thread. Do note, that a superthin thread don’t equal a great suit. There’s plenty of ways to ruin the quality moving from thread to suit.

Suit’s made from thinner thread than 150’s are real rare, and for a good reason. Pushing past 120’s-130’s, the suit sure looks fantastic, but durability drops as the thread gets thinner. Therefore, suits with a thinner thread than 120’s doesn’t make up for great work wear. A common misunderstanding is that really expensive suits will last longer. They might, but if they’re made from a really fine fabric, they probably won’t. These suits are meant for board meetings, conferences, weddings and other special occasions.

There you go!

— 5 years ago
#Super  #Wool  #Quality  #Fibre  #Posted by John 
A few tailoring tips

When’s the right time to use a tailor and not? Here’s a few tips:

  • Rather find the right model from the start. Should you fall in love with a suit that just doesn’t fit, it probably wasn’t meant to be.
  • Don’t change too many things, and don’t change too much. It’ll show, and it won’t look good.
  • Details made in a coarse thread might leave marks on fine fabric.
  • Rather take in than let out. Letting out means that the stitches from the seam might leave marks on the fabric that’ll show.
  • There’s no adjusting the sleeve width on suits. It just won’t work.
  • Shortening the sleeves? Do not have the space between where the sleeve ends and the buttons start shortened without moving the buttons and all the details up the sleeve accordingly. It’s easily done, but find a tailor that has the right equipment to remake the buttonhole stitches.
  • If you’ve got a two slit jacket taken in too much, the bottom rear ‘tail’ might start pointing out towards the sides.
  • You can’t make new slits, if you’re not happy with the setup as it is.

That’s all for now!

— 5 years ago
#Jacket  #Suit  #Tailoring tips  #Tips  #Posted by John 

Wearing a shirt with tie?

There are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to the shirt and tie-combination. I’ll leave colour and patterns out for now, and focus on something equally important: having, and keeping, the top button buttoned.

Unlike what most (mainly Swedish) TV-presenters and ‘celebrities’ will have you think, leaving it unbuttoned doesn’t make you look casual yet dressed up. It makes you look like a slob. It makes you look like a man who hasn’t figured out your shirt neck size yet, who thinks it’s too warm or too uncomfortable looking good.

The top button stays buttoned all the way home, or atleast past midnight. And don’t even think of incorporating the unbuttoned shirt and tie-combination into a party outfit. That’s an Oh-no-don’t-do-it.

Time for some constructive tips:

  • Figure out your shirt neck size. Ask for help in any place you can buy formal shirts, or ask a friend to take your measurement around your neck. It’s either in inches or centimetres.
  • Leave perhaps 1 cm or 1/2 of an inch for shrinkage, unless you’re buying a slightly more expensive shirt. Those are usually properly pre-washed.
  • If the size around the neck fits, but the rest of the shirt is either too big or too small, you’ve been trying the wrong model on. Ask for a slimmer or less slim model.

Remember, the cheaper the shirt, the less comfortable and warmer it’ll probably be. This due to cheaper chemical finishes, cheaper fabric made from synthetic materials, poor weave construction or all of it.

Happy buttoning!

— 5 years ago
#Buttons  #Neck size  #Oh-no-don't-do-it  #Shirt  #Tie  #Tips  #Posted by John 

Oscar Jacobsson - AW2009

I scavenged the web looking for proper images of the one suit model I wanted to present, but ended up hi-jacking these two from the Oscar Jacobsson website. They sure look like Floyd. Floyd is a semi-slim model, with classic elements. It’s been around for a while, and for a good reason. It’s got spacious sleeves with much room for big arm muscles as well as quite a good drop down towards the waist.

Being a classic OJ model, it leaves you the option - on some of the carry-over fabrics - to split the suit. This is an excellent benefit should the size of your trousers not ‘match’ the size of your jacket.

All in all, this is a great model for the well trained, well built, broad shouldered man who wants a comfortable suit without looking like a nightclub bouncer. It’s slimming, yet leaves room for all those muscles.

— 5 years ago
#Oscar Jacobsson  #Semi-slim  #Suit  #Well built  #Posted by John