ASK DAN: Collar Stains, Coin Storage, Etc.

December 29th, 2013


Shout out to Vincent Nappi for the artwork!

Collar Stains

Every time I wear a white or light-colored dress shirt the back of my collar turns a dirty brown. 1) Am I dirty? 2) Is there a way to avoid this? 3) Is there a way to salvage these stained shirts? 

Ah, the classic collar ring.

1) Don’t feel bad. This happens to every guy, dirty or not. The brown stain comes from sweat.

2) Not really. My best advice, other than getting more shirts in your rotation and cleaning them asap before the stains set, is to loosen your tie and open up your collar when you feel warm. Staying cool is crucial; the more you sweat, the browner it gets.

3) I’ve heard all kinds of at home remedies, like this DIY solution, but stains are stains and sometimes they can’t be fully removed. When one of my favorite shirts is beyond the point of cleaning, sometimes I’ll sew a new contrast collar out of white fabric and replace it (a good tailor can do this also). As a last resort you can also take a page from the Articles of Style summer handbook and cut it off to create a band collar shirt. Wes would be proud.


Bespoke Regrets

I’m thinking of getting my first bespoke suit but I’m a little overwhelmed with all the choices. Do you have any regrets from your first custom orders? Any pitfalls to avoid?

Good question. A lot of guys make the mistake of trying to make their first bespoke suit look as “custom” as possible. This can involve crazy things like contrast stitching, colorful buttonhole threads, flashy linings, razor thin or enormously wide lapels, buttons on pocket flaps, maybe even additional buttonholes on the lapel(s). All of these are terrible ideas.

Flashy, noticeable details might sound like a cool idea at first, but you’ll quickly tire of them and you’ll regret those decisions for years. I know LOTS of guys who’ve made this mistake and now have very expensive “bling bling” suits hanging in the back of their closets collecting dust.

A bespoke suit is an investment: keep it classic and think long-term. For more info, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Buying Bespoke Clothing.


Coin Storage

I live in Japan…dunno if you’ve ever been but the smallest paper bill is 1000 yen (~$10). Everything under that is coins. So basically at any given time you could be carrying around $20 in 100 yen or 500 yen coins ($1 and $5). Plus Japan is a cash based society where getting by on a credit card WILL NOT WORK. Any wallet or carrying suggestions?

As a native Canadian I feel your pain; loonies and toonies all day. Coin pockets are your friend, my friend. You can have your tailor sew any size needed into just about any pocket – or you can sew them in yourself, it’s quite simple. This will keep your daily coin collection for bulging and weighing down your pocket bags, as well as stop them from jingling and flopping around as you walk.

As an alternative, you can try investing in a wallet with a zipper pocket or carrying a small coin purse in true Japanese fashion. I’ve seen guys attach them to their belt loops or even wear them around their necks like rapper chains.


Slimming Lapels

Vintage blazer  shopping can be very rewarding; I have found some awesome print/textured sports coats over the past year.  My question(s): have you every had the lapels slimmed down on a vintage purchase? Can it even be done? Is it worth it?

In theory it can be done, but it’s probably not worth it. Slimming lapels is a huge job for a tailor (he basically has to completely re-cut the front panels and collar) so it’s going to be very expensive, and difficult. You also can’t move the position of the buttonhole(s) on the lapel(s).

My advice is to avoid buying ugly lapels and keep vintage digging or, as always, rock it with confidence.


Design School Portfolio

Dan, I’ve been considering design school for a while now. I have a business degree as well as a liberal arts degree, but I’ve been extremely interested in menswear since I was very young. It is my passion. The one issue that I see is that every school requires a design portfolio. Isn’t the point of design school to learn the art? Any advice?

I struggled with this as well when I was applying to the menswear program at FIT. I ended up leveraging Articles of Style and showing some sketches that I’ve drawn over the years (I’ve always loved to draw…as a kid I wanted to be a cartoonist…the first cartoonist in the NHL and NBA). But seriously, the admissions staff understands that you are a beginner, hence why you want to attend their classes. They simply want to see your taste level, your aesthetic, and make a decision based on your work ethic and potential. FYI: design school is ALOT of work.

I would research the admissions process and ask them what they are looking for, specifically. Check out some top portfolios from past students to get inspired and see what the competition looks like. Design school can be a very competitive place, especially within the limited programs dedicated solely to menswear.

This video will give you a much more comprehensive answer. Get creative and show them a unique, honed aesthetic that is very “you”. Good luck!




Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier