For upscale clothiers Louis Everard and Jennifer Nygard, the difference is in the details.
Louis Everard’s business goes through a case of malbec every week, but it isn’t a restaurant or bar. It’s the namesake clothing boutique in Upper Georgetown that Everard and his wife, Jennifer Nygard, own and manage. (Married for 16 years and together for 22, they live in Ballston, just off Glebe Road.)
“You aren’t afraid of my drinking red wine in your shop?” I ask on the day of my visit, casting a side glance at a pristine array of vibrant silk bow ties. Upstairs in the women’s department, I spy quilted jackets by Sara Campbell with colorful leather details; authoritatively cut suits that telegraph power; and refined-yet-sexy dresses by designers like Yoana Baraschi.
“No!” he assures me, asking if I’d like Scotch instead. “We’re a friendly shop. Dogs and cats are allowed, too.”
When it comes to service, Ever-ard’s Clothing is as genteel as a day at the club. Guests can partake of wine or spirits from a vintage bar cart. There’s a putting green in the back of the store. And there are two custom tailors on-site who spend their days turning off-the-rack suits into works of art.
Part of Everard’s job is helping clients choose from a dizzying array of suit fabrics, cuts, linings and accessories to achieve their own signature look.
I arrive at the store to find him deep in thought, fitting a new client with a suit that one of the tailors will rework to the client’s exact specifications. He studies his subject like a sculptor while a spaniel named Brenna lounges disaffectedly in a square of sunlight, her black-and-white coat nearly as elegant as anything sold in the shop.
Born in Jamaica, Everard was raised at the elbow of his mother, a seamstress, and his father, a tailor. He apprenticed in his family’s tailor shop (and made dresses for his five older sisters) until 1962, when, at 14, he moved to New York to live with an aunt. Two years later, he says, his mother was hired as a dressmaker for the embassies and he moved to D.C.
When Bloomingdale’s opened its Tysons Corner location in 1976, Everard helped launch the men’s department. (It was there that he eventually met Nygard, who took a temporary job at the store between her graduation from James Madison University and grad school in Arizona.)
By the time he left Bloomie’s in 1992 to establish his own wardrobe consulting and custom tailoring business, he had a loyal following of local celebs, politicians and sports figures. (He currently dresses 10 White House appointees.) In 1999, he opened the storefront in Georgetown. Seven years later, Nygard left a high-powered telecommunications job with Intelsat to join him full time.
“I like to brag on her,” he says. “She’s got the brains, and I’ve got the mouth.”
Louis…or is it pronounced Lewis?
NYGARD: It’s Louis—like kings and chairs, he likes to say.
Louis, can I start with what you’re wearing—the orange socks and the purple-stitched brown suede wingtips? So adventurous, but it works. How do you teach someone to go outside his comfort zone, beyond the blue shirt, the navy suit?
EVERARD: I don’t want to teach anyone how to dress; I want to serve them. My clients tell me how far they want to go.
NYGARD: Because we’re in the business, we can push it a little bit in our own wardrobe choices. But some guys can only do blue and white; they’re in a very corporate world, and you don’t try to change them.
EVERARD: Although in the spring we sold out of pink-and-blue-plaid sports coats. Very Gold Cup. Our clients are going to all the horse races.
Who are your clients?
EVERARD: We have ambassadors, television personalities, chefs and sports figures, but I’m not at liberty to give their names. James Dewar was one. He just passed away recently.
There’s no shortage of color in your shop. Even though I’m looking at a wall of gray suits, I’m seeing pink socks, purple polka-dot bow ties…
NYGARD: We’re definitely colorful and a little whimsical. We like the classics with interesting details. You don’t want to look like everyone else, but you want things to last for a few seasons and stand out a little. With socks, the brighter the color, the faster we sell them. Guys don’t want black anymore; they want orange.
And for the ladies?
NYGARD: For women, we carry designers like Byron Lars—a designer that Michelle Obama wears and that some others might recognize, but you won’t see it everywhere.
What’s the secret to a perfect-fitting shirt?
EVERARD: We specialize in how to frame a guy’s face. See this shirt? The inset band is an inch and a half high [so that it stands up above the jacket collar]. And there’s a ninth button so that [the shirt] doesn’t gap at the bottom and come untucked. Our shirts have removable stays and extra stays in the pocket. Even the armholes are cut differently—they’re rotated forward slightly to fit the chest better.
Among the designers you carry, who are some favorites?
EVERARD: I love Italo Ferretti ties. They’re handmade, numbered and stitched down [at the center of the tie] for comfort. The tie buttons to the shirt so that it doesn’t slide; there’s a small weight stitched into the end of the tie so that it doesn’t move.
What about suits?
EVERARD: We’re the only independent that carries the full line of Hickey Freeman [menswear], and the only shop that does custom with it. Every president has worn Hickey, except for Ronald Reagan because he had his own tailor. All the green jackets worn by the PGA players are Hickey Freeman. It’s a prestigious garment to own. I have all Hickey Freeman on, although people wouldn’t recognize it because I twist it a bit. [He opens his brown, double-breasted jacket to reveal a deep-blue satin floral lining.] There’s no upcharge for this.
How do you know when a suit fits just right?
NYGARD: A lot of guys wear their clothes too big.
EVERARD: Some guys wear a suit; some guys look great in a suit. The key is that the suit shouldn’t shift when he sits down. The collar shouldn’t gap at the back, and the shoulders should be even. Everything starts from the shoulder. If the jacket [sleeve] is down way below the wrist, it just looks dumpy. The standard measurement is that you show half an inch of cuff, but that varies because hands are different. The cuff should hit the break of the wrist, and the jacket [sleeve] should fall just short of that.
You mentioned Gold Cup. What other kinds of special occasions do clients shop for when they come here?
EVERARD: We often do full wedding parties. And restaurants drive our business. People are going out to dinner more.
Where do you like to eat?
EVERARD: I like Bistrot Lepic on my block. I also like Al Tiramisu and Café Milano. When I eat in Arlington, it’s usually at diners. At Bob & Edith’s, my usual is three eggs, bacon and home fries. I also love Metro 29.
What’s your favorite article of clothing?
EVERARD: A white-with-black Donegal suit. I love it. It was custom-made for me by Hickey.
Adrienne Wichard-Edds is Arlington Magazine’s style columnist.