Tag Archives: Philip Zappacosta

Fall 2013: New shapes, new challenges

15 Aug
Cruciani Merino wool coloured sweaters

Cruciani merino wool sweaters available at philip

Gents, though menswear changes slowly, this fall sees a real shift in shape and gives us a glimpse of the future – a future rooted in the past.

I walked around three very different stores recently to get a first-hand glimpse at what we’ve got available for options this season:  philip, a locally owned menswear boutique in Toronto,  The Bay, and Holt Renfrew. Get ready for the colour and texture of autumn, severe lines, shorter tops, and a heavy 1980s influence.

Colour, comfort

Philip Zappacosta, owner of philip in Toronto’s Hazelton Lanes, excitedly told me about his fall offerings, emphasizing colour and shape.

“We’re moving away from black,” Philip said, much to my delight, “This season, our focus is on a rich classic palette of burgundy, navy, brown, and grey.”

He showed me lovely merino wool piece-dyed v-neck sweaters in rich colours with new soft fall scarves (shown above). Also available this season are thin-waled stretch corduroys – perfect for movement and extra room if you have a second helping. Philip also carries awesome jackets with practical zip-out linings that are like two jackets in one. 

New designs this season are stylish, soft-shouldered cloth jackets (some quilted!), excellent for warm layering, but a word of caution: these unstructured jackets look best on men who are in good shape and have some chest and shoulder. If your shoulders are narrow or you’re slim, a hard, squared shoulder will work better on you.

Shape changes: not for everyone

Tops, including layering pieces like sweaters and vests, are getting shorter – there’s the 80s influence again (let’s hope it doesn’t get too out of hand in seasons to come – images of Wham! float through my head ). These shorter tops are worn outside of the pant, taking the emphasis off on the belt and the cool buckles you have collected over the past 20 years.

Skinny suits, skinny pants, and skinny ties, demand slim, fashion forward fellows, so thin, stylish, and dare I say, dramatic men will delight to find the ultra slim suits Don Draper brought into our modern consciousness are going to their extreme – the razor-sharp peak lapels on the severely skinny suit by Black Brown 1826 could put out your eye, but is an affordable and stylish suit that any self-respecting Mod could wear with pride – available at The Bay!

Also at The Bay are a plethora of gorgeous velvet jackets – soft, sumptuous, and luxurious cotton velvet sports jackets are all over the place this fall and you’d be lucky to have one. But, some men should be legitimately afraid of this fabric – next post I’ll discuss velvet, its maintenance, and how to avoid damaging this fabric fit for kings.

Trousers in general are becoming extremely tapered, so larger men/men with muscle tone will do well keeping away from these cuts – stick with classic or relaxed fits.

dolce and grabanna

Welcome back to 1985, Dolce and Grabanna

We’ve been in flat front trousers for several years now (hey, even Dockers have jumped on the wagon), but pleats are on their way back. For those of you who have heard me complain about pleats, namely double pleats and full cut trouser legs that make the majority of men look dumpy, I want to say that it’s only a matter of time until the pleat returns – fashion is cyclical and nothing is new, just updated – welcome to the pleat’s new dawn.

I stood somewhat gobsmacked in Holt’s, staring at a mannequin decked out in a Dolce and Grabanna outfit consisting of a round-necked vest (that conjured horrible 1980s International Male catalogue images) and a matching trim cut, single pleated trouser. D&G are heavy into the 80s influence right now and though I mostly shudder at this, I’m glad they had the sense to update the trouser and work the pleat into a trim cut leg – not so bad!

When looking for new clothes in any season, fellas, be honest about your build. Are you large, slim, muscular, overweight,  or short? Average and slight builds can pull off the fall’s extremes, larger men need a more ample clothing cut to breathe, move, and not look like they’re wearing a sausage casing.

Best advice? Slim on slim, relaxed cuts on average to large – proportion, proportion, proportion!


Surgeon’s cuffs

3 May

Look familiar? Surgeon cuffs originated in the military. Here, a Foot Private’s tunic, 1865. Fort York, Heritage Toronto.

A sign of a good dresser is the wearer’s attention to detail. When a man cares enough to be mindful of the finer details of dressing, he will insist on  surgeon’s cuffs on his suit jackets.

On suits and jackets, there are usually two to four buttons at the lower edge of each sleeve. Off-the-rack jackets have non-functioning buttons decorating the outside of each sleeve, a practice that originated in the military when buttons, or pips, worn at the front of the uniform sleeve indicated rank.

Military pips were worn with regimental lace (braid) stitched and pressed into a faux buttonhole (this page shows how to make your own) has dubious beginnings, but we do know that the cuff decoration began as a deterrent to dirtying one’s tunic. One source claims the sleeve buttons “began as an effort by Lord Nelson to keep young midshipmen and cabin boys from wiping their noses on their sleeves.”

Functioning buttons on the other hand, buttons used as closures with real buttonholes are known as “surgeon’s cuffs”. Nowadays, surgeon’s cuffs are worn for style, but when they were first developed, practicality was at top of mind. The Economist explains the history of the surgeon’s cuff:

Savile Row was inhabited largely by surgeons before the tailors moved in during the 19th century, and their influence can be seen in the “surgeon’s cuff”. On the most expensive suits the cuff buttons, which mirror the pips of military rank, can be undone, allowing the sleeve to be rolled back. This let surgeons attend patients spouting blood without removing their coats—an important distinction that set them apart from shirt-sleeved tradesmen of the lower orders.

In this way, surgeon’s cuffs become an indication of social rank (200 years ago, doctors were “upper class”) and to this day are typically found on higher end, tailored garments.

Holland Esquire jacket with contrast piping and covered buttons.

Philip Zappacosta at Nanni Couture in Toronto says, “surgeon’s cuffs are an indication to others of your refined taste in clothing.”

Philip suggests to leave the bottom 1-2 buttons unbuttoned to showcase the detail on a jacket, and other Italian clothiers I deal with also insist on having at least one button open.

For a more casual look, Philip says, “the jacket cuff can be rolled up slightly to show off more shirt cuff, cuff links, watches, or jewellery.” Revealing the lining, especially if it’s bright and interesting, will also be shown when the cuff is turned back.

Nanni carries beautiful and refined tailored goods like Corneliani, an Italian lifestyle brand, and  Holland Esquire, a smaller and unique label designed by Nick Holland, a major UK tailor, who weaves elements of old world tailoring in his modern line. Both lines feature surgeon cuffs on their jackets.

Sporting a surgeon cuff is always fantastic, but remember, once the surgeon cuffs are created on a jacket, the sleeve length should not be altered.  Unless you have the arm length for a perfect off-the-rack fit, beware of buying finished surgeon’s cuffs – changing the sleeve length will throw off the proportion of the buttoned cuffs and it will just look silly. Good tailors will not sew in the buttons and buttonholes until the sleeve length is properly fitted to the client – this is optimal and strongly suggested if you want to do it right.