Archives: menswear

Daily Camera: Dad, sons on mission to make Boulder County men more stylish

Ron, Ryan & Brett Wagner
By Aimee Heckel
Camera Staff Writer

POSTED:   06/14/2014 11:00:00 AM MDT
Original article:

Fashion tips for men

A few pointers from The Bespoke Edge:

• A parachuting back side of a shirt indicates it is too big for you. Your shirt should properly fit your back and stomach.

• Skinny ties (about 2½ inches thick) arein, and your lapel should match the width of your tie.

• Pick-stitching adds a subtle, handmade feeling to a suit. Contrast stitching will make the shirt pop.

• Look for working buttonholes, which allow you to roll up your suit sleeves.

• The perfect summer suit: an unstructured herringbone jacket with accented button hole and slim lapel, accented cuff stitching and a custom, short length. Choose an unlined jacket to stay cooler in the summer and wear a lightweight, subdued-tone, cotton tie instead of a heavy silk tie.

• For a more casual button-down, pick a colorful shirt unbuttoned at the collar with the sleeves rolled up. If you want to wear it untucked, make sure the shirt tails don’t fall below your back pockets.

• Pick a shirt collar that flatters your body type. If your face is round and you have a shorter neck, pick a point collar, to elongate your neck and make your face look slimmer. Pair this with the “Four In Hand” slim necktie knot.

• Thin, vertical stripes or small, gingham or tattersall patterns are slimming. Plaids and big checks can make you look heavier.

Brett Wagner got his first suit at age 5. Not long thereafter, his father taught Brett and his brother, Ryan, how to perfectly tie a necktie and fold a pocket square.

Their father, Ron Wagner, had worked in menswear sales for more than three decades, so there were no ratty, ill-fitting T-shirts and grungy shoes in that household. As children, the boys understood more about men’s style than perhaps the sum knowledge of the entire state of Colorado.

“The details make the man,” was a family motto.

Today, Brett Wagner knows how to wear a suit better than Barney Stinson of “How I Met Your Mother” fame, so it’s no surprise the Wagners run a custom suit company, The Bespoke Edge.

It is surprising, however, that Brett Wagner lives in Boulder, the state’s greatest style offender.

Many local guys simply hate shopping, or they don’t know how to dress themselves, or they don’t think it matters, he says.

It does.

“People don’t really dress the way they used to,” Brett Wagner says. “It’s pretty refreshing and nice to have been brought up in the way that you should look nice and presentable. You are your own brand, and how you dress is the first thing people see about you.”

The Wagners decided to launch The Bespoke Edge on Father’s Day two years ago, after the clothing company where their father worked went out of business.

The goal: Offer custom suits, shirts, vests, pants and jackets for reasonable prices. We’re not talking the sales rack at Sears; a made-in-America-to-order suit starts around $800.

Sign up for a free, in-your-home consultation, where you will be measured (on more than 20 different points). You can pick your fabrics (hundreds to choose from) and details (stitching, buttons, collar shape, cuffs). A custom suit will arrive in five to six weeks.

“The fit is everything,” Brett Wagner says. “You can have the nicest fabrics in the world and if it’s a sloppy fit, it’ll come off looking that way. You can walk down and see the difference between the 1990s-style suit with big, broad shoulders and a baggy fit, compared to how David Beckham or Brad Pitt look these days.”

The Bespoke Edge makes custom suits for reasonable prices.
The Bespoke Edge makes custom suits for reasonable prices. (The Bespoke Edge / Courtesy photo)

The Bespoke Edge is especially popular among nontraditional body types, like the big who are not tall, and the tall who are not big. Brett Wagner is slender with broad shoulders, which means he would otherwise resort to going up a size for a shirt.

“Since being in business, we have come to realize that many Colorado guys want to dress better and show some style, but they need some help getting started. After all, we all know guys don’t like asking for directions,” Brett Wagner says. “We set out to become a leading source of information and guidance and to bring back the human element with regards to how men shop for clothes.”

The Bespoke Edge is actively marketing to areas around Boulder, too, such as Longmont, but it’s challenging without a storefront, Brett Wagner says. He says they’ve been searching Longmont for fashion-minded shops to potentially partner with for an event.

The Bespoke Edge does have current clients who work in Longmont.

“There are definitely guys in Longmont (who) wear suits and have a penchant for dressing sharp,” he says.

Oliver Dilivio, formerly of Longmont, has a custom shirt from the Bespoke Edge.

Dilvio, who recently moved to Texas for graduate school, says his girlfriend gave him a gift certificate for a shirt for Christmas. As first, he says, he was unsure what to expect and a little apprehensive. But he says the process went smoothly.

In fact, he says, it was one of the best gifts he’s ever received.

“It’s hand’s down the best shirt I own. Hand’s down,” Dilivio says. “It’s cool to create something no one else has.”

The three essential shirts every man should have

So there are a lot of different shirt fabrics out there. If you’ve seen the BE fabric book you know there are literally hundreds to choose from. Where to begin? Well, if you’re building a wardrobe or perhaps starting all over again from scratch, there are just three essential shirts that you’ll want to have in your closet.

The following three shirt fabrics are the most versatile choices you have available. You can dress them up or down and wear them all over town. Dinners out, formal occasions, work, pleasure, and everything in between, these three shirts will provide you a solid foundation from which to build. Without a doubt, these are the three essential shirts every man should have.

1. White – but with some panache!

Face it, you need a white shirt. Whether it’s for an interview where you want something relatively conservative or plan to wear a dark suit for a formal occasion, white is the obvious choice. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. For instance, BE offers 40 white fabrics of varying textures to set you apart from the crowd.

Just about any tie will work with a white shirt. And any suit for that matter.

One of the best combos with a white shirt is this: A dark blazer, dark jeans, white shirt and white pocket square. Just like that, you’re instantly dressed up and ready for anything.

white shirt 1Traveling? Put on your tie when you get your rental car before heading to the meeting. Dressing down? Unbutton the top button and you’re ready for happy hour. Speaking of a dark blazer, in future posts, I’ll tell you exactly what the one suit is that you need to have if you’re buying your first suit.

2. French blue – The most friendly of all fabrics

Believe it or not, studies have shown that wearing blue is often the best choice because it conveys trust and calmness and helps people to perceive you as reliable. Plus, blue is downright friendly. Why do you think so many companies use blue in their logos? 


It’s also very versatile with a myriad of neckties and suits. “Blue can be a strong background when choosing ties, but so long as you choose a necktie with a little blue in it, it’ll match with a blue shirt just fine,” says Ron. 

3. Striped – When you want to show a little style

Pick your favorite color and make it a striped shirt. Simple as that. In some ways, a striped shirt is pure business. It’ll look great with your bespoke suits and carry you through any meeting or business lunch under the sun. However, loosen the collar and throw on some nice jeans and it’ll have a whole new look. Suddenly, you’re ready to hit the streets of downtown Denver and won’t feel overdressed in a pub. Remember our last post on matching neckties to your bespoke shirts? If you missed it, you can read it here – one of the topics of discussion was to match a paisley or print tie to your striped shirts. See, now you can wear paisley ties!


If you’re only in the market for one striped shirt, then go with a lighter background and a less bold stripe. Imagine you drew on the stripes using a pen or pencil, not a marker. This will keep the shirt more casual so that you can still wear the shirt outside the office.

Wrap up

There you have it, the three shirts you need to own: White, blue and striped.

Combined with only one bespoke suit and a pair of jeans, you’ll be prepared for any situation. Now if you could only choose two more shirts, what would they be, hmmm….


Four-in-hand knot versus the Windsor knot

If someone were to ask you what knot you use when tying your favorite neck tie and you couldn’t answer beyond ‘wait, there are other knots!?’ then there is a fair chance that you employ a four-in-hand Knot. This is the knot that our dads taught us when we were kids and the one that an amazing girlfriend will somehow know to tie.

It turns out that there are actually 4 official knots for men’s neckwear (and several more obscure ones). They are, in no order of importance, the four-in-hand, Pratt, half Windsor, and the full Windsor Knot. Each knot is said to have its own purpose, but a simple Internet search will reveal some very ambiguous descriptions. With the sole exception of the Windsor, which is as wide as the Panama Canal and suited for spread collar dress shirts, all other knots seem to be suited for, well, anything. Everyone seems to have their own opinion (we’ll get to mine soon) about what knot is best for which shirt, but there is more to picking a knot than just the collar shape and size – one must consider the occasion, level of formality, and especially the person wearing the knot!

Menswear has always been about playing off of the man’s shape. For instance, heavier guys will do well to wear vertical stripes to appear thinner. Conversely, thin guys may want to wear windowpane dress shirts to project a wider look. So, when choosing a knot, a larger guy may not want to go with a Windsor for every occasion. A wide knot will certainly not help in making him appear any thinner.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well, the namesake of the Windsor Knot is the Duke of Windsor. Aside from the British slant, this knot is symmetrical, but then again, suits are symmetrical, so are vests, trousers, pretty much everything. However, the tie, and the wonderfully chaotic pocket square, need not be. So, unless you are sporting the spread collar I don’t see any reason to hesitate tying a Four-in-Hand. The asymmetric, just right size is a staple. It looks fantastic when loosened on a Friday afternoon and can be a little unpredictable depending on the texture of your tie. After all, adding an element of spontaneity to your image is a good thing fellas.

Then again, what’s one guy’s opinion? My father and brother certainly have their own bias and will almost certainly refute this blog in a subsequent post, but in the end, you wear what makes you feel confident and to hell with the opinion of anyone else – always remember, the man makes the suit, so whatever knot you chose, wear it like a suit of armor! So there you have it, the four-in-hand knot versus the Windsor knot.

Or, you could try your hand at the Eldredge, but that’s a story for a different day.

Use our how to tie a tie guide to tie your next tie!