101 easy ways to dress better. No 7: A properly tied tie

Sunday, February 28, 2010
If the best way to judge a man is by his shoes, then the second-best way is probably by the knot of his tie. I'll assume that anyone reading this knows enough to keep their tie tied and the top button on their shirt done up, and I'll not go into those points in detail. However, what is worth mentioning is choosing the best knot for your collar, and your tie, and avoiding the sort of knots that will make you look like a used-car salesman.

There are lots of different ways of tying a tie but really only two that are worth considering: the half-windsor and the four-in-hand. The full windsor is, famously, only worn by cads. Looking like a cad might not be such a bad thing, but looking like a used-car salesman is, and the massive knot created by a full-windsor suits noone.

Four-in-hand. Pint-in-hand.

The four-in-hand creates a relatively small and asymmetric knot, which may well be why people, especially if they are wearing a cut-away collar, tend to avoid it in favour of larger knots. That's really not necessary though, as the idea that a knot needs to 'fill' the collar is generally nonsense, and a slightly asymmetric tie will actually look better than a perfect, neat, triangular knot.

If your tie is made of especially thin material, or you really think a larger knot will suit you better, then a half-windsor is a reasonable alternative. Just never, never, anything bigger.

Tailor made in Cumbria

Thursday, February 25, 2010
Many thanks to Cultural Offering for kindly linking to me, and also for pointing me in the direction of this brilliant video about Thomas Mahon, a former Anderson & Sheppard cutter who now has his own clients and is based partly on Savile Row but, mostly, in Cumbria. Thomas also has his own blog which is well worth a read.

This post is a particularly good one, on all the major Savile Row houses. His comment at the end is especially interesting, about how tailors tend to work for a few different companies and cutters move about a lot. This echoes what James at Cad and the Dandy was telling me the other day about how much the big name tailors work together and help each other out in a way that few other industries probably would.

Cad and the Dandy: Second review

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
There are some companies (BT, I'm looking at you) whose service is so consistently mediocre that, when it slips from mediocre to downright poor, there's no goodwill to cushion the blow and I'm straight off to their nearest competitor. Other companies get so much right so often that, when things do go wrong, it's easy to forgive them. In fact, if a company deals with its mistakes in the right way, it can leave you liking them even more than before.

Cad and the Dandy definitely falls in to the second camp. I went back yesterday (to their City shop, this time, which was nice to see) to try on my DB dinner jacket. Pretty much the first thing I noticed was that the lining was not the maroon I had requested, but blue. I'm not sure quite how this happened, but James from C&TD was apologetic and, more to the point, promised that he could replace the lining within 24 hours. I didn't expect to take the suit away that day anyway, since making small adjustments to the fit is part of the process, so in reality this isn't any great inconvenience to me.

Slightly more problematically, the silk facings were in plain silk. Perfectly nice but not, unfortunately, the grosgrain silk that I had asked for. This one is bound to be more tricky, since it affects not just the lapel but the pocket jetting and trouser trim. Sadly, changing this will delay the suit a bit but since we're still three weeks ahead of the eight week delivery time that C&TD promise, I can hardly complain.

Anyway, any frustration over these errors pretty quickly evaporated once I tried the suit on. Slight adjustments to trousers and cuffs aside, it fits perfectly, although that's only to be expected. What I hadn't expected, though, was how different it would feel to wear a jacket with a floating canvass. It hugs the body in a way that has nothing to do with being closely fitted (it's not really; I like a comfortable dinner suit) but to do with the weight and texture of the canvass. It seems to mold to the shape of my body, and it will do so more and more over a few outings, becoming a better fit the more I wear it. As James said, with a justifiably dismissive attitude, it's going to be hard to go back to fused suits after this.

The English wool is as fantastic as Ian had promised when I ordered the suit, and the construction and finishing seemed excellent from the brief examination I was able to give it. Far more is hand-sewn than I had expected, with a lot of tell-tale marks of quality tailoring, like the pad-stitched lapel, hand-embroided initials above the inside pocket, and hand-felled lining (which they have to do again now. Sorry...!)

The only other change I wanted was to play around with the button positioning. As I'd suspected, I hadn't been specific enough about what I wanted here, and I felt the buttons looked a little bit cramped, especially as I am quite tall. We decided to move the two upper buttons outward a bit. As these are non-functioning, they can be moved around very easily, and I was impressed that James was happy to snip them off and re-sew them in their new positions while I waited. They may not come from a tailoring background, but it's clear that the owners of C&TD have immersed themselves in the tailoring world and learnt to do a great deal themselves.

Arguably, C&TD just shouldn't be making the sort of mistakes they've made on my suit, but I think it's important to remember that both boil down to nothing more than the wrong fabric being selected at some point in the ordering process. I'd be much more worried if there were serious problems with the fit, construction or finishing whereas, on the contrary, these all seem to be pretty much flawless.

The final review ought to come in a couple of weeks when I get the suit back, at which point I'll give a bit more detail (and some photos).

Double breasted suits - an explanation of button stances

Monday, February 22, 2010
Tomorrow I shall be going to try on my new double breasted dinner jacket from Cad and the Dandy, several weeks ahead of schedule. One of the things I'm slightly anxious about is the button stance, since I may not have made my desires clear enough. I'll look at this again tomorrow, when I've seen the suit, but to prepare, I thought I might start by making todays post a very quick run-down of the numerous button stances available on double breasted suits.

Firstly, the stances are generally referred to in the form AxB, where A is the total number of buttons, and B is the number that can be fastened. On any suit, B will be no greater than half of A, since only one vertical row of buttons will ever fasten. In most cases, however, B will be even less, since one or more horizontal rows may also be non-fastening.

In case that makes no sense; here is an example, the most common double breasted button stance:
It's 6x2. 6 buttons, of which 2 may be fastened (although most men will in fact only fasten 1). This creates a pleasing shape with the suit fastened at the waist, and the upper buttons spread, creating lines out towards the shoulders.

Less common might be a 6x1 stance:
On this style, the lines towards the shoulder are even stronger, but it is likely that the jacket may be fastening below the waist, which won't suit all men.

A 6x3 button stance is also possible, although fairly rare these days. There's one featured on the front cover of 'Sharp Suits' that I reviewed a while ago, but apart from that I don't believe I've ever seen one. They seem to me to create a very rectangular shape on the front of the jacket that I don't find especially attractive.

Coming more to the point of this post, and looking at double breasted dinner jackets - it is common for these (though by no means required) to only fasten with a single button, and I prefer this look as it differentiates it from a business suit, in the same way that a single breasted dinner jacket has only one button.

Generally this is a 4x1 button stance, although a 6x1 is also possible. The concern I have is that for a 4x1 there is a good deal of variation possible in where, exactly, the buttons are placed. The jacket could fasten on the waist, or significantly below it. I have every confidence that Cad and the Dandy will create an attractive jacket with the fastening point placed sensibly but, nevertheless, it is the one aspect of the suit that I didn't specify as clearly as I probably ought to have done.

3 Shirts in 3 Days

Saturday, February 20, 2010
For me to sew 3 shirts in 3 days is not an unusual thing. Usually I can sew at least 3 shirts in a day, but with all the business duties on my agenda these days,  it's extraordinary that I had the time to squeeze these into my schedule at all!  However, DH Roger needed a few more shirts, the fabric was there, so now there are 3 new shirts in his closet...
^ CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE and see Details ^

Shirt #1 is made from Plaid Cotton Shirting fabric, and features bias details and a "Cigar Pocket".
Shirt #2 is made from very average quality Cotton Oxford Cloth fabric, in a traditional design.
Shirt #3 is made from Cotton Chambray fabric, and features a right front "Prince" seam, and a buttoned "Cigar Pocket"

Click HERE for a FREE PATTERN DIAGRAM for the "Cigar Pocket" 

Sewing notes-- Fabrics from my shirt-making stash, PRO-WOVEN Fusible INTERFACING and BUTTONS from FASHION SEWING SUPPLY.

I recently had a question via my Facebook page asking about shirt patterns that I would recommend.
These are the pattern companies with good mens shirt patterns, in my opinion. I've tried them all in the past, and have gotten good results. Not as good as a custom draft, but compared to most commercial mens shirt patterns, the menswear patterns from these companies are quite good..again, in my opinion--
The styles and design features vary, but all the patterns are well drafted and each company provides good instructions.

The useful blazer is completed

I slightly regret not taking a decent 'before' picture of the blazer so that it would be easier to compare the effects of Child and Sons' changes. Suffice it to say that they have done an excellent job of adjusting the blazer to have slightly more narrowing at the waist, as I like it. For an off-the-rack garment, it now fits very nicely, and I am told by a friend that the combination of the small adjustments and the much nicer buttons makes it look like a far more expensive item than it actually was.

Unfortunately my camera is playing up so I've had to take a webcam photo - without very good results. In any case, I think the project was a great success, and, as the weather gets nicer, I look forward to wearing the blazer more often. Perhaps Bertie Wooster style, with some white trousers.
But probably not the captains cap.

Style Icon: James Bond

Thursday, February 18, 2010
For some reason James Bond has become closely associated with Black Tie, probably the result of a number of posters featuring Sean Connery in a dinner jacket. He's certainly worn some lovely examples over the years, but focusing just on this is to ignore the beautiful examples of British tailored suits that appear in the films, especially on Connery's Bond.

Many of the suits worn by Bond in the early films were made by Connery's own tailor, Anthony Sinclair, located not on Savile Row but on nearby Conduit Street. Some of his suits are examples of the 'Conduit Cut', a pared-down cut with flapless, besom pockets (as can be seen above). At other times, such as in Goldfinger (below) he wears classic three-piece suits in traditional Savile Row style.

Bond may not wear the most interesting shirts, ties or pocket squares but then again, he is a civil servant and he does, at least, know where to go for his suits.

101 easy ways to dress better. No 6: Show some cuff

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It's easy to get too worked up about details like the lengths of your sleeves, and the internet is full of forums where you can obsess endlessly about a few millimetres here or there. It's really not terribly important compared to the basics of proper shoes, a decent fit around the coat shoulders, and a well-tied tie. Still, it's generally accepted that it is more stylish to show a half-inch or so of shirt cuffs and doing so will mark you out as someone who has taken a bit of extra care in getting a good fit. Too many people unsure about the correct fit will err on the long side, and end up with sleeves that end part-way down their hand, which does little for your general appearance.

There's plenty of room for personal taste in where, exactly, your sleeves do end, but somewhere around the wrist-bone is traditional, and well before the top of the hand is best. Whatever length the coat-sleeves are, your shirt-sleeves should be about half an inch longer. This helps to frame the jacket, and also means your cufflinks will occasionally show from underneath your suit.

Reader Question: DB and three piece suits on bigger men

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
From Jon:
I'm a bigger guy and was wondering if 3 piece suits and double breasted suits would look good on me (Roger Sterling style)? Some people say yes and some say no, what's your opinion, on style and colour?

Someone (I can't recall who) once said something along the lines of 'all you need to look well dressed is to be tall and slim'. That's all well and good for people like Roger Sterling, but a bit depressing for the average man. However, the good news is that suits, more than anything else you will wear, can be selected and tailored to show any body shape at its best. Many of the great dressers of the last century have been larger men, and it's not stopped them from looking well dressed.

The conventional wisdom is that double breasted suits make men look wider, so you may be better off avoiding these. However, if you are also tall and broad-shouldered, the pointed lapels of a double-breasted suit can focus attention upwards and onto these positive attributes.

A single breasted suit will generally be more slimming, and three piece is certainly a good option as it breaks up and reduces the amount of shirt on show, especially when your jacket is unbuttoned or removed. This helps anyone to look smarter, but I think is particularly relevent for larger men who can otherwise end up with a lot of shirt visible under a gaping jacket. The pointed lapels advice still applies here so, for a slightly unusual option, you could consider a single-breasted suit with peaked lapels.

Either way, at first I would go for a fairly conservative plain or subtly striped grey or blue, as three piece and double breasted suits are unusual enough already. Dark colours such as charcoal grey or navy blue generally suit bigger men, and stripes will make you look taller, which may or may not be a plus for you. If you do go for stripes, you ought to be able to pull off slightly wider ones, so a chalk-stripe rather than pinstripe could be a good bet.

I hope this has been helpful. Do let me know how you get on.

The trenchcoat

Monday, February 15, 2010
Sadly, Humphrey Bogart has probably made it almost impossible to wear a trenchcoat and a trilby at the same time and not look as if you're on your way to a costume party. However, the trenchcoat remains a very practical bit of clothing and, if you're ever caught in a heavy rainstorm, something you'll be incredibly glad to have with you.

Acquascutum and Burberry both claim to have invented the trenchcoat, some time in the middle of the 19th century but, as the name suggests, they were developed and popularised during the trench warfare of WWI. Their military use gave them the shoulder-straps and D-rings that they still have today while their restriction to officers meant that, in the post-war era, they developed an association with respectability that made them appropriate for business-wear.

More importantly, if you do get caught in the rain, they're brilliantly practical, with a high collar that can button up to protect your neck and face, an inbuilt cape to help keep your back and shoulders dry and, generally, a removable liner for extra warmth. If you live anywhere it's likely to rain, a decent trenchcoat will compliment your suits much better than the tatty windproofs that a lot of men wear.

Odd waistcoats

Sunday, February 14, 2010
As I might have mentioned, I'm a great fan of waistcoats; I think anything that covers up the great expanse of shirt tends to look neater. One of the particularly fun things about waistcoats, though, is their potential for adding some variation to your outfit. Odd waistcoats with a suit look great, but they work particularly well with tweed, when you can go for colours that you'd never otherwise wear on a suit. Rich, autumnal colours a especially good; for a long time Harvie and Hudson (I think) had a lovely combination of a classic tweed jacket and a bright maroon waistcoat in their window.
Sadly I don't own any maroon waistcoats (yet) but I do have a yellow one that I thought might look nice with a tweed jacket. I've always thought the button stance was a bit high on this waistcoat - I don't like having quite so little tie showing - but it's not a bad look all the same.

101 easy ways to dress better. No. 5: Wear a pocket square

Friday, February 12, 2010
It's probably not surprising that, when the majority of men can't even be bothered to wear a tie, almost noone still wears pocket squares. It is a great shame though, since this is one of your best opportunities to wear the sort of fabrics and patterns that would be impossible on a shirt or suit and sometimes even too flamboyent for a tie. The key is that you can show as little or as much of your pocket square as you want. If you're wearing a particularly colourful silk pocket square, there's no need to have acres of it falling out of your pocket (unless you really want to). A small fold peeking out of your pocket is generally much more elegant and less attention-grabbing. And of course, if in doubt, a plain white handkerchief always looks smart.

A lot of places on line will show you how to fold a pocket square in a number of different ways, which is fine, but I'm not generally a fan of folds that are too precise and perfect. You're much better off just stuffing it into your pocket with either the points or the middle showing, and then rearrange it until you're happy. As long as it fills the pocket fairly well, it'll pretty much stay where it is and you can forget about it. Until someone compliments you on how smart you look.

Style Icon: Bertie Wooster

Thursday, February 11, 2010
From today's perspective, Bertie Wooster is easy to see as simple a great example of classic style. What's great about him, though, is that from his contemporaries' perspectives, he was occasionally very forward-thinking in his fashion sense; often to the disapproval of the much more conservative Jeeves. His immaculately furnished art deco flat would have been cutting-edge and modern at the time, and his dabbling with some 'a bit vivid' golf trousers or a white mess jacket mark him not as the oaf we (or Jeeves) might assume but simply as a young man developing his own tastes.

Still, unsurprisingly, it's his more traditional attire that I find particularly inspiring. Bertie is always perfectly turned-out in a variety of beautiful suits, unfailingly worn with waistcoats (even the double-breasted ones, a now quite rare style that I mean to replicate). Even more pleasingly; he's a great wearer of hats, pocket squares, leather gloves, tie pins and other accessories that are rarely seen these days. I certainly don't intend trying to perfectly ape a 30s look in its entirety but, nevertheless, there's a lot of inspiration to be drawn from Bertie's wonderful mix of classic formal style and youthful experimentation.

The careless look of a club tie

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
A lot of old fashioned tie manufacturers in the UK have a long history of providing ties to schools, clubs and army regiments. These ties traditionally have a number of diagonal stripes in different widths and colours. Of course, you can now easily buy similar ties with no particular affiliation, and very smart they look too. That said, I still have a soft spot for the small number of 'real' club ties to which I am entitled. My old school tie is fairly unattractive and, famously, is appropriate to wear only on two occasions: at your wedding, and at your funeral. My other ties, however, are slightly more useful.

The thing I like most about school, club and regimental ties, apart from their uniquely British history and character, is that they can quite deliberately be worn without any consideration for whether they go with the rest of your outfit. Club ties are not designed to be carefully colour matched, or even deliberately colour contrasted. Rather, they look their best when simply added to an outfit which, while immaculate in all other respects, does not go with the tie at all.

HotPatterns Princess Shirt, revisited in wool tweed.

This is my first version of the up-dated draft of  HotPatterns' Plain and Simple Princess Shirt.
It was designed for shirting-weight fabrics, but because I wanted to make a simple "shirt jacket", I used a lightweight wool tweed instead. And since I plan to wear this over another top, I added 1/4" of ease to each side seam and the sleeve seams. I wanted to add pockets to this shirt jacket, but unfortunately did not have enough fabric.

This pattern is a re-draft of one of  HotPatterns' first styles.  When comparing the original draft to this new one I was happy to discover that the changes were minor but ones that improved the fit, in my opinion. The most noticeable changes are a slightly lowered armscye, a slightly wider sleeve and the addition of a back neck facing.  Subtle but effective changes that I think I will really appreciate when I make this style in lightweight fabrics...and I will be making this style again. It is one of those great patterns from which you can get a lot of "style mileage".

Sewing notes: Facing and Collar interfaced with PRO-WEFT FUSIBLE from ~Fashion Sewing Supply~.

The v-neck sweater

Monday, February 8, 2010
The wintry weather returns to London, and so I'm back in one of my favourite items of clothing; a sleeveless v-neck jumper. Apart from the obvious practical benefit of wearing something warm under your suit jacket, I also love the way it looks.

The gentleman on the right of the above photo appears to be wearing a grey/green v-neck, which looks great under a double-breasted suit jacket. I find that reducing the amount of visible shirt sometimes improves an outfit, especially with a two-button suit, and a v-neck is a nice substitute for a waistcoat. It also has the advantage that it allows you to add a softer texture to your outfit. In fact, I quite like the idea of very bright jumpers underneath suits, but sadly the more interesting colours seem only to be available in the sleeved versions, which are less practical under a jacket.

Most of mine come from T.M.Lewin because I like the fact that they edge of the v-neck is not too thick but, as I said, they're only available in blue, grey, brown and black. If anyone finds a good source of brightly coloured sleeveless v-necks, do let me know!

W.G. Child and Sons (The useful blazer project part 2)

Sunday, February 7, 2010
As mentioned in a previous post, I am having a few small adjustments made to my blue double-breasted blazer. I'm also taking the opportunity to try out a tailor down the road from me, W.G. Child and Sons. This weekend, I managed to pay them a visit. They're in an odd location for a traditional tailor, which is partly what attracted my interest, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Despite being damaged in the war, the Wandsworth shop has been in operation continually for 125 years and is still owned by the Child family. I suspect it may be one of the last few of the local tailors that existed when having bespoke clothing made was more common, before the trade shrank to Savile Row and a handful of other locations.

I was immediately impressed with them when I went in. Like most bespoke tailors, it's clearly not somewhere to go unless you have specific business, with no off-the-rack suits or shirts to browse. Rather, there are a couple of well-furnished consulting rooms, strewn with stacks of fabric. In the back is what must be the cutting room, lined along one wall with hangers holding the paper patterns of W.G. Child's customers. This, along with the handful of basted garments, indicates that it is, as it claims, a serious bespoke tailor. I would have liked to have asked more questions, and taken some photos to post, but I was occupied with working out what to do with my blazer. I may make more effort when I go back to pick it up

The staff are clearly very knowledgeable and experienced, weighing up a number of options as to how to achieve the slightly better fit that I wanted on my blazer. The first proposal was to partly remove the sleeves and take in the side seams: almost certainly the best way to achieve the change, but also by far the most expensive at around £200. The cheapest option would have been to slightly increase the wrap (the overlap of the double breasts or, in other words, the distance between the vertical rows of buttons), but we experimented with this and couldn't quite achieve the right effect. In the end, we decided on a middle option: to take in the jacket at the back seam, which would be more effective, but require much less work to take apart and then re-sew. This, plus replacing all of the buttons, will cost around £55. The fit we achieved by this method, as far as I could tell from pinning the jacket into position, seems a great improvement for relatively little money.

Of course, I shall have to wait to see the final result, but so far my impression of W.G. Child has been extremely positive and, if this project works out, I shall look in to the cost of ordering some shirts from them. I'm in need of some more tailor-made shirts in any case since, Child's tailor pointed out, my right shoulder is somewhat lower than my left. We came to the conclusion this is a result of years of sweep rowing but, regardless, I think it may be the reason that most shirts sit with slightly more cuff showing on one sleeve than the other.

101 easy ways to dress better. No 4: Keep your jacket on

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
There's an etiquette 'Q&A' that's often repeated by writers about men's style.
Question: When is it appropriate for a man at a dinner party to remove his jacket?
Answer: When he qoes to bed.

It's slightly facetious... except it's not really because the answer is broadly correct. A man's jacket is part of his main outfit not his outerwear and, as such, he ought not to remove it outside the privacy of his own bedroom any more readily than he would remove his trousers.

The hat, overcoat and gloves are outerwear. The jacket is not.

The reality is, of course, that times have changed. Removing your jacket and revealing your shirt and braces is no longer socially unacceptable and, if the evening involves dancing in to the small hours, few would blame you for doing so. The key is to remember that a man in trousers and a shirt alone rarely looks well-dreased. Abandoning your jacket means also giving up on your carefuly assembled outfit, so it needs to be timed right. If your first action upon sitting down at dinner is to remove your jacket then you are not only being rude, you are also shortchanging yourself.

As I mentioned before though, this is an excellent argument for wearing a waistcoat so that, when you do remove your jacket, you'll still look smart.

Style Icon: Roger Sterling

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I love Mad Men. I love the daytime drinking, the offices, the typewriters and the casual misogyny. One thing that I'm less sure about is the clothes. On the one hand, I can't help but appreciate a tv show where men wear suits and ties all the time, and hats most of the time, but this is tempered by the fact that I'm no great fan of the skinny ties and narrow lapels favoured by Don Draper and his colleagues.

However, one man whose dress sense I really do enjoy is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the older men in the office. Roger Sterling largely eschews what must have been the fashion of the day in favour of more traditional styles. Generally wearing a three-piece suit, mixed up with the occasional double breasted, with slightly more interesting pocket squares than the straight white lines favoured by Don, he is always impeccably turned out.

The collar-pin is also a nice touch and, although rather out of date now, it's a fairly discrete accessory and something that's grown in popularity since Mad Men. Its the precise opposite of the fashion for undone top buttons and slightly loosened ties, and has the great advantage of keeping your tie neatly arced out from your collar.

I'll be delighted if Mad Men encourages men to think harder about their dress, but I'll be even more pleased if more men follow Roger down the route of three piece suits and collar-pins than follow Don's example of belts with suits and cigarettes in shirt-pockets.

The banker shirt

Monday, February 1, 2010
Most of the St James clothing stores are entering the last couple of weeks of their sales now and there are some pretty good bargains to be had, so long as there's anything in your size. I have a mix of off the rack and made-to-measure shirts, and I tend to go for off the rack if I'm buying something I'm not completely sure I'll like, so I've been making full use of the sales.

As far as shirts go, nothing falls so completely into the 'not completely sure I'll like' category as the ubiquitous white-collar-and-cuffs shirt so loved by City boys everywhere.

My problem with them, aside from the obvious association with City bankers, is that I've always regarded them as a bit of a fake. They derive in part from when collars were detachable and, more recently, from a time when gentlemen would have their collars and cuffs replaced when they wore out instead of discarding an otherwise perfectly serviceable garment. Since matching the fabric of the shirt, faded by numerous washes, would be almost impossible, they were simply replaced in white. Now that neither of these two cases apply, there is a part of me that finds the contrast-collar to be a bit of an affectation.

On the other hand, times change and many now-useless aspects of clothing merely derive from an outdated feature or requirement. Contrast-collared shirts are an accepted part of men's style, and they undeniably have a certain visual appeal, so I have decided it is time to add one to my wardrobe. Of course, I'm not ready to embrace my inner Gordon Gekko completely just yet, so the shirt I chose, from Hawes and Curtis has just a pale pink stripe, to avoid the contrast collar being too noticeable...