Last month I mentioned that I had recently investigated two of the few American menswear brands that offer classically inclined formal wear. Having profiled the offerings of Paul Stuart, it’s time to take a look at Robert Talbott formal wear and its primary supplier, Hansen’s Clothing.
The Robert Talbott company originated in 1950 when New York banker Robert Talbott moved to California with his family. His wife’s enjoyment of sewing one-of-a-kind bow ties for her husband, family and friends evolved into a business venture and by 1955 they were travelling the world, commissioning silk mills in Europe and Asia to produce their original designs. They now have four private stores offering their Monterey- and Italian-made clothing and they also distribute their garments through high-end retailers such as Nordstrom and Harry Rosen. However, the best place to purchase their formal goods online is not their own web site (their formalwear section only contains two shirts), but from a quirky little retailer called Hansen’s Clothing.
Hansen’s is located Spencer, Iowa and owned by third-generation Hansen, 84-year-old Duane. The company was started in 1902 by Duane’s grandfather as a quality tailoring shop. Duane’s father then expanded the business into dry cleaning in the 1930s which is when Duane began working in the store. With dwindling demand for high quality menswear in a town of just 11,000, Duane reached out to an online marketing company in the early 2000s. Overnight, his customer base expanded to the entire country (and beyond) and he now generates millions in sales each year. Yet he still works with only two part-timers out of the same dusty little store and will most likely be the guy that answers your email or phone calls should you happen to do business with them. And if he doesn’t have an advertised Robert Talbott item on hand he’ll get it directly from the manufacturer for you.
The following are some of the Robert Talbott formal garments and accessories carried by Hansen’s along with some quality formal shirts and ties from Gitman Bros., another family company that they represent. U.S. shipping is free on orders over $150.
Gitman Bros. ten-pleat point-collar formal dress shirt, $165.
Gitman Bros. spread-collar diamond-weave bib formal dress shirt , $170.
Gitman Bros. wing-collar piqué-bib formal shirt, $175.
Robert Talbott piqué formal dress shirt, $275.
Gitman Bros. satin silk bow tie (self tie), $69.
Robert Talbott silk faille bow tie, $65.
Gitman Bros. grosgrain silk (self-tie) bow tie and cummerbund set, $199. Also available in satin silk for the same price.
Robert Talbott (self-tie) bow tie and cummerbund set in faille silk, $115. Also available in satin silk for the same price.
Robert Talbott white piqué bow tie, $55.
Robert Talbott white piqué formal vest, $235.
Robert Talbott three-button black satin formal vest, $195.
And last but not least, a Robert Talbott sterling silver lapel vase that slips through your lapel’s buttonhole to keep your boutonniere moist and fresh for the duration of the evening. $225. Available in four colours.
When I purchased the Robert Talbott faille bow tie and cummerbund set for myself, I was surprised to see that the cummerbund was only 4 1/2″ wide. Although just 1/4″ narrower than my Dion model shown below, it nonetheless seemed noticeably smaller than any other cummerbund I’ve come across.
However, it did the job just fine. Keep in mind that a cummerbund is only meant to conceal the trouser waistband and patch of shirt just above it, not to be displayed as decorative accessory like the bow tie.
It also has the added bonus of providing two hidden pockets, each measuring about 4 ½” wide x 2 ¾” deep. It’s not likely I would ever store anything in them considering that my tuxedo jackets already have hidden pockets and most items would probably create a bulge in the cummerbund. But it’s still neat to know they’re there.