A Citizen’s Top Style Choices

In a hurry this morning. The Wall Street Journal ran a long interview with tailor Ethan Newton who, we learn, is moving to Hong Kong. Mazel Tov to him. After detailing this news, the paper asked Newton questions about his style. My answers follow (this is to save the WSJ the efforts of following up with me).

What are you wearing right now?

A blue-and-yellow-over-beige windowpane linen jacket, a baby-blue and white striped spread collar lightweight cotton shirt, and a pair of 10 oz. double-pleated off-white linen cuffed pants. Tan belt and nondescript tan loafers. Hat is a linen cap as my Panama is not yet in my hands.

And now for the truth, since that is what I wore yesterday: coffee-stained t-shirt and very worn boxers purchased from that eminent sartorial establishment K-Mart.

What’s the one thing you’ll never wear?

Any 60s-colored light-weight trousers tight enough to unambiguously reveal whether I am a Cavalier or Roundhead.

What do you put on when you’re just hanging out?

Firehouse or canvas slacks, brown shirt (cotton or linen), ancient bomber jacket, brown brogues, and, depending on the weather, brown fedora or cap. You’ll always eventually regret dressing down in public.

What’s the most expensive piece of clothing you’ve ever bought?

Newton paid US$7,184 for a bespoke suit. I am a humble scientist, so my suits are an order of magnitude less.

What will your next purchase be?

A box of CAO Brazilia, which will compliment and complement my new Panama.

Worst fashion mistake?

Being cheap and thinking, “It won’t matter.” It always does.

Best buy?

At Daffy’s in New York, a gray-brown single-breasted, notch lapel classic cut (not a sack and not “European”) Super 120s, indestructible suit. Only suit bought off the rack that was cut perfectly for my shape; no alterations needed. That suit walked right out of the 1930s by way of 2002. There was only one and it was a 41L. I have never been able to find another by the same maker.

Favorite suit maker/fashion designer?

Many, particularly spoken of in this (and other) threads at Fedora Forum. The shop Paul Stewart, which favors more body-conforming cuts, is a reliable guide, whereas Brooks Brothers, which features dull and unflattering sack suits, is not.

Least favorite?

Nearly everything “fashionable” from the 1960s and 1970s, and anything that stinks of hip.

Favorite jeweler

None. Except for wedding rings and watch (see below), men should minimize jewelry.

Favorite tailor

Joe “My Tailor” Hemrajani. Bespoke suits for $650 (and way on up). This is not a lot of money if you consider that you will keep this suit for a decade or even longer, perhaps 500-600 wearings, which is one flat dollar per outing. It will be of classic style, made to fit you not some anonymous, short-armed, dunlapped Mr Average.

Hemrajani tours various countries from time to time, taking measurements and pictures of clients, then returns home where labor and material is cheaper. Highly recommended.

Favorite jeans

None. The last pair of jeans I wore I borrowed from my father when he needed assistance heaving and hoeing. I live in a small apartment and have no maintenance or landscaping duties.

Favorite suits

I’ll echo Newton here: those that fit me. If you have to sacrifice, always choose a better cut over better cloth. Well fitting suits made of synthetics will beat ill fitting ones made of the best wool.

Tuxedo style?

Same as Newton: classic, subdued, bow tie. The whole should be unnoticeable; viewers should be drawn to your face, the suit itself should fade away and be forgotten. Tuxedos are worn for occasions, not fashion.

Favorite thing in your closet?

Brown, beaver-felt, wide-banded fedora, cut for my misshapen skull. Both dressy and utilitarian.

Favorite watch

Don’t wear one. I note that watches are no longer called that, because you cannot sell a “timepiece”, “chronometer”, “chronograph”, “chronométre”, or “timing instrument” for a mere fifty bucks. If you are dressing to show off, you are not interested in style, but in aggrandisement. Simpler to carry a banner which advertises your net worth.

Favorite sunglasses

Cheap pair picked up in San Francisco. Have somebody of good judgment decide for you by standing 8 to 10 feet away.


Good grief! Honest sweat.


The misspelled name of my best friend from my boyhood. I can’t imagine what else this might be.


This must be yet another crude euphemism for our morning activities (it comes from an old joke, favored by my father: “Engineers work it out with a pencil”).

Running shoes

Since I am never chased, I never wear them.

Mode of transport

Walking. I do not, and have not, owned a car for some thirteen years. I am very green.


Ancient flip model which falls under the class “dumb phone.” It makes and receives calls and sinks when dropped into bodies of water, but dries nicely. That is all it does.


The only choice for the real man: Linux. Currently Ubuntu 10.10, running a mix of Gnome and KDE. Also—and I swear this is true—Fedora.


Bach, Telemann, Mozart, Artie Shaw. Harry James, Louis Armstrong. You get the idea.

E-book or old book?

The same: physical books and classics on my Kindle. I refuse to pay for e-book licenses because (a) I want to own my books outright, (b) I do not want to re-buy or lose my books when I either lose or break my reader, or when the reader becomes obsolete.


  1. JH

    What’s the one thing you’ll never wear?

    You’ll wear the thong swimsuit worn by Sacha Baron Cohen then?!

  2. Shub

    “I’m quite bald, but I use Aesop shampoo on my beard.”


    A warning beforehand please.

  3. Sera

    Mass in B-Minor or Little Fugue?

  4. stan

    The purpose of a tuxedo is to draw attention to the woman on your arm. If you want to be noticed in a tux, choose to wear a stunning woman in a striking dress.

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