ASK DAN: Vegan Menswear, Over-Dressing, Patch Pockets

November 9th, 2015


Vegan Formalwear Options

Q: Would you have any options for a vegan wanting to dress formal (no animal products)? We have a vegan wedding coming up and a lot of vegan friends looking for recommendations. Thanks!

A: Absolutely. As long as you stick to fabrics made of vegetable fibers – like cotton, hemp and linen – you should be fine. The trick to keeping it fully Vegan is making sure there is no wool used in the felt that goes under the collar. Typically the undercollar is made from a wool melton material, though good bespoke tailors usually stock a hemp-based version for Vegan clients (and Jewish clients who follow the law of Shatnez). I realize that plant fibers are generally lighter in weight than animal hairs, but cotton is especially diverse for the Fall/Winter. You can make some epic formalwear pieces by thinking-outside-the-box with dark corduroy, moleskin, velvet, etc. Shoot me a message if you’re interested in having us design you something ;)

Over-Dressing at the Office

Q: Hey Dan. I truly love the aesthetic of AOS. I wish I could dress like your editorials, and feel like James Bond, every day. The thing is, my office environment is professional, but relatively conservative and casual. Guys wear ill-fitting suits with no ties and leave their jackets off for most of the day… So sometimes when I wear a very tailored outfit (bespoke DB, or 3-piece with contrast vest) I feel a faint resentment coming from some of the other guys in the office. It’s as if dressing well to throw it in their faces. I feel this may not be great for my career, as I’m trying to “climb the ladder” so to speak. What do you think?

A: Ah, the old best-dressed-guy-in-the-office complex. This is a tricky one, as it’s deeply personal and contextual to your office, and the personalities within it. The first question that comes to mind is: are you over-doing it? If the other guys in the office are wearing casual suits, I would keep it in that general wheelhouse. There’s no need to go full-on power dressing with a banker collar and double-breasted pinstripe suit. There’s also no need to go full dandy with a bowtie, stick pin and top hat. Keep it simple but tasteful. Think well-tailored dark suits, creative but subtle jacket/trouser combinations, a contrast vest with open collar every once in a while, perhaps some sweater variations under your jackets and sport coats. Ultimately it’s important that you consider the “general feel” of the office dress code, and within that framework you can make all types of variations and show the different sides of your style. Cheers mate.

Patch Pockets vs Flaps

Q: I’m interested in your navy three-piece flannel suit.  However, I see that you have patch pockets on the jacket. On one hand, those probably make it more versatile as  a separate sport jacket. On the other, I always thought that patch pockets are considered less suitable for business, and more casual. Also, aren’t they easier and less expensive to tailor which will make the suit look less high end? Please advise.

A: Totally understand where you are coming from. You’re right, patch pockets are generally considered more casual than flap pockets and in some ultra-conservative business environments could stand out. If you’d like your bespoke suit(s) with traditional flap pockets, we can certainly do that for you. No problem. But since you mentioned it, patch pockets are actually more expensive to produce than flaps; they use more fabric, have to be hand-sewn, and require quite a bit more time for cutting and placement. To your last point, on whether or not a suit looks “high-end”, I’d say 99% of these opinions come down to the fit and fabric quality – and you have nothing to worry about there. Let me know if you have any other questions, we’re looking forward to your fittings.

Thanks, as always, for reading. If you have a style question, hit us

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford.

  • melmoth

    Before I started paying attention to my dress, I would hardly notice that one guy at work who would wear ties and suits (I wasn’t in a highly professional job, obv). Or back in college, there was always that guy who came to class in suits. I didn’t notice or care. So I think that often the ‘Oh no, I’m dressing better. Everyone hates me’ feeling is mostly in your head. Lesser dressed people just don’t care. If they cared, they’d likely be dressing better themselves. They’re not seeing it. As for the original guy’s situation, maybe there’s something there but for most ‘best-dressed office guys’, I don’t think it’s that much of an issue. Some slob isn’t noticing how your socks match your pants etc or how your tie coordinates etc. He’s just thinking, “Oh yeah that guy. He wears suits. Heh, heh. Cool.”

  • AdamE

    What’s the old saying “One can never be over-dressed or over-educated…”. I’m a firm believer in that, with a few caveats… I’d say I fall in the “comparatively over-dressed” category at work (most of the plebs dress ultra-casual, and the managers in ill-fitting boxy suits). I was raised with the mindset to “dress like you’re the boss, until you’re the boss”, so I won’t sell my soul and come to work in jean shorts and a graphic t-shirt… What I do, is incorporate some more casual elements into what i wear. Fewer suits, more sport coats, softer wash shirts some days rather than crisp dress shirts, button down collars some days, more casual shoes (lately I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of my desert boots, although I keep a good pair of wingtips in my office as well for days when they’re needed) etc. It’s a fine line between dressing well and rubbing it in people’s faces… so I’ll agree with the advice of avoiding banker collars, and very formal DB pin-stripes, but you can still wear your suits, split them up into separates, pair them with shirts that subtly dress them down, etc. The one area I seldom compromise on is the tie, rarely will I go open collar except for Fridays…

    The real trick in this type of situation is to wear a suit, but not to be a suit… In some industries, you need to take that role of being the suit, in a more casual environment, then you have to tip toe the line to make sure you’re wearing the suit but it’s not defining you…

  • Jack

    Impressed by the Shaatnez shoutout. Bane of my existence. If a garment has it, add at least 50$ to tailoring, and almost every high-end OTR work has it.

  • Mondo Moda

    Even my most casual work attire is overdressed in a super baggy (often wrinkled) khakis, Kirkland shirt and square toe sketcher looking frankenstein type shoe/sneaker hybrid environment…and this is in a corporate setting in NYC. I sometimes wonder how much more offensive and ridiculous Id look if i was NOT in one of the fashion capitals of the world. Ive learned to just do me despite the stares, laughs and comments. To think there was an age when people in this country actually took pride in looking sharp…now its being counter-culture. -Mondo

  • Ben

    In a similar vein to the final question, are there options as to what style of lapel you can do? I almost always wear a peak lapel and I was wondering if that is an option. With a peak lapel and flap pockets I would very seriously consider an AOS suit in the next few months

  • NickH

    Hey- another “best dressed office guy” here. I feel obligated to throw in my two cents. I’ve taken many sales and customer relation courses that agree with Dan, whereas they say you should adapt your wardrobe to accommodate the people you interact with. Sometimes this may be necessary but for the most part I completely disagree. In this world of sweat pants and hoodies it’s almost impossible to not overdress.

    See, the way we dress on the outside is a reflection of who we are on the inside. It’s not your fault that everyone else in the office can’t get their wardrobe together. Their loss is your gain. At work you’re representing your company with a clean professional image and these other guys aren’t. Resentment is bound to happen if you took the time and effort to do something they wouldn’t. You showed initiative and ambition which are respectable traits. To me- dumbing down your outfits to appease the masses just says you’re willing to sacrifice your aspirations just to fit in. Don’t worry about fitting In. Be the leader.

    Now I travel everyday for sales. I meet with Presidents and Ceo’s who wear jeans and T shirts to work. I wear a suit or at the very least a sport coat, because I want to portray an image of authority, thoughtfulness, professionalism and honesty. Because wearing a nice suit, even if the occasion doesn’t call for it, is me. It’s an honest representation of who I am. Some people crack jokes and others appreciate the fact that I look for nice for them. Either way I’m happy!

    • TO

      A true leader doesn’t ask permission to lead! Even though technically until there are followers that person is not a leader, I appreciate the ethos of this response!

      • NickH


  • Taylor Huston

    For vegan style, I find it actually much more difficult to accessorize. A cotton suit isn’t hard to find. Nice looking non-leather shoes and belts? That’s a different story.

    • Blue

      Not sure where you live, but in NYC in the LES neighborhood there’s a shoe store called Moo Shoes that I used to work near. They only sell vegan shoes.

  • JoeFromTexas

    InternAngie_StyleGirlfriend hit it on the head. Wear what’s typical for your office, but change ill-fitting to well-fitting. A big part of dressing well is dressing within context. But put on a nice tie or a vest for meetings or experiment on casual Fridays (maybe a casual DB toned down by a pair of dark denim). If anyone asks, say you have a hot date after work, or an appointment with your parole officer, or, that you just woke up that morning feeling extra fly.

    • AdamE

      A Gentleman should never have to apologize for looking good… I’d say save the excuses and just accept the compliment (even if the jibes are intended as underhanded compliments…).
      The worst for me is when you have an internal interview on a Friday, at the end of the day… the interview dictates stepping up the game, but the Friday indicates more casual attire… while normally better dressed than most, it stands out like a sore thumb with the stark contrast, and you get the “do you have an interview today?” question all day… But you weigh that against Clark Kent-ng it with a pre-interview change, but the risk of bumping into your interviewers earlier in the day while more casually dressed… making the change try-hardish… (FWIW I’ve always just bit the bullet, be more starkly over-dressed, maybe just drop the tie until before the interview, and leave the blazer in my office before the interview as well…)

      • JoeFromTexas

        Conundrums upon conundrums! No, we don’t have to apologize for looking good, but I find the responses deflate the question (and often underlying insinuation) while making the point that I like to dress well – usually the parole officer response gets either a laugh or a fast retreat. Getting on my soap box and declaring that a gentlemen must never apologize for flyness can get old, or at least that’s what my boss keeps telling me.

  • InternAngie_StyleGirlfriend

    As far as over-dressing in the office, a casual suit can be transformed from dowdy to dapper if you pay close attention to the fit. Best of luck!