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Raising the bar for Boca men’s style

The first thing you notice when you enter Raise the Bar is the décor: the distressed wood floors, bold modern art and the bright pops of color sprinkled through the store. But it’s owner Tony Pianta who is the biggest asset, expertly guiding his clients through the eclectic selection of high-end menswear.

When Tony Pianta, with his wife Pam, opened the store in July 2021, he saw a need for a store in Boca that fit today’s men: modern, vibrant, and everyday elegant. Tony brings with him a wealth of sartorial knowledge. He has spent the last three decades refining his understanding of men’s style while working at Burdine’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Guy La Ferrara. Tony has lived, for the most part, in California and Florida, but it was his 14-year stint in Chicago working at Neiman Marcus that proved to be pivotal in learning about seasonal style and luxury merchandise. And he uses this expertise to both outfit a beautifully curated store and to advise each of his clients on exactly what will work for them.

Tony is a natural storyteller. His love for people is clearly seen through his personable, witty and hands-on approach. We sat down with him to learn more about his life, his style and top tips for men looking to up their style game.

How did you meet your wife, Pam?

I met Pam in 2016, shortly after my first wife, Paula, died of pancreatic cancer. Pam lost her husband earlier that same year. We were married the following May. My wife is the inspiration for the store and my business partner. I would not have taken a chance if it were not for her encouragement. Pam is truly beautiful, inside and out. She genuinely cares about being a good and kind person. I know that she has my back, no questions asked. We helped each other through very dark and sad times, and now we have something incredibly special. Our shared loss reminds us to fully appreciate each day as it comes.

How did you develop your sense of style?

My sense of style has changed so many times. I have always been drawn to vibrant colors, particularly purple and orange. Right now, I’m all about being comfortable yet looking pulled together. Jeans and sneakers are great once the jeans fit properly and the sneakers are not intended for the gym. Always have a soft sport jacket available.

What is your favorite thing about running RTB, and what is the most challenging?

I love meeting new people daily. I do my best to personally greet every person that walks into my store and get a sense of what they need. I like to encourage my clients to step out of their comfort zone and not shy away from color.

The most challenging aspect about running the store is trying to have everything in stock that clients are looking for. I do my best to keep fresh inventory rolling into my shop monthly. I now own nearly three times the volume of inventory that I opened with last summer, and I consistently speak with my vendors to stay abreast of their most important items.

 

Who is your typical customer?

Right now, most of my clients are looking to refresh their wardrobe. They are ready to start going out again and want to look good while feeling comfortable. My best-selling products are anything with a little stretch.

What is one thing you think customers should know about your store that they may not be aware of? 

We also offer made to measure clothing from Paul Betenly, Sartorio and Pal Zileri.

What are a few must-have items right now?

Saxx underwear, Michael’s swimwear, Desoto shirts, Fradi suit, Mark Chris suede loafer, Bugatchi Ooocotton

What are your top 5 style tips you have for men who want to dress better?

1.     Don’t buy a size, buy the correct fit.   

2.     Don’t be afraid to wear color.

3.     Not all shirts are meant to be worn untucked. Tuck it in and show off that beautiful belt.

4.     Invest in a few pairs of quality dress sneakers. 

5.     Trousers should be flat front, slimmer fitting and have little to no break. 

Florida summers get very hot. How would you advise your clients to dress?

Opt for white jeans, lightweight cotton trousers or linen pants. Business is so much more informal now. Sports coat, cotton trousers, performance fabric shirt and a great pocket square. I love no show socks with a great driver.  My personal favorite summer outfit is Monfrere white jeans, The Good Man Brand sneakers, and a colorful short sleeve shirt from Bugatchi, Eton or Desoto.

What’s your favorite summer activity?

It’s always been traveling, which is not really an option right now. I enjoy spending time at the beach with Pam and hanging out with my son as often as we can. Father and son cigar time is very important to both of us.

What have you learnt the most serving your clientele in the last year?

I have the most wonderful client base!  They trust me and know that I will never sell something that is not right for them. I have learned most people just need a little encouragement to step out of their comfort zone.

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