Category Archives: Gents Fashion

Autumn, lambswool and corduroy

The season for dressing in proper cosy-wear is finally upon us. Autumn is here. More or less. There is hardly anything I enjoy more than to open my wardrobe and get all the corduroy trousers and lambswool sweaters out. To be able to wear the garments of autumn, thick high quality fabrics in bright colours, is as wonderful as enjoying a really good vintage Bordeaux. At least to me. For some reason it is as if the world becomes more alive, the weather becomes almost tactile. You can almost drink the air, taste the wind. Magnificent feelings.

Someone asked me the other day where one buys the best corduroy and sweaters. He also asked about tweed jackets, though that is a different kettle of fish entirely. That’s a topic for another day. But when it comes to proper cords and lambswool, nowhere is as good as Cordings of Piccadilly in London. imageI have searched for other brands all over the world, but no one can compete. In my opinion. When other, however great, brands try making cords they seem to misunderstand what a corduroy trouser is. What the fabric is all about. You simply can’t make a regular trouser, choose a nice looking corduroy fabric and apply the same idea you use for a regular trouser. The result is always a hybrid of weird fashion mixed with classic style but none of the two makes any sense put together. A bit like these Levi’s 511 made in a rather garish corduroy quality…

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You need a certain width in a cord trouser, but not too much. If too much is used, they will look like an old mans trousers on a young mans body. If you happen to be a young man, that is. That is a look no one wants. Absolutely not the designer, and least of all you. You need an exact balance between width over thigh and calf, a proper cord trouser needs to be comfortable (that is, after all, the whole point of the garment), and the fall of the fabric that is decided by the weight of the cloth. That perfectly balanced effect you can get either by going to your tailor and have a pair made, or you can buy them at Cordings. In my view, the latter is to prefer. It will save you some money, better used for your next bespoke suit.

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The range of colours to choose from is great too. There are all the bright yellow, red, pink, puce etc. that I love. But there are also the more discreet moss green, brown and so on. If one happens to prefer slightly more discreet nuances. A wonderful detail that makes the trouser sit perfectly on your hip is the extra strengthened waist lining plus the adjustable waist band, corrected with two buttons on each side on the outside as seen above. Details that has taken decades to perfect, and which we as customers can now enjoy.

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After a post like this, I guess I should write about just Cordings too. Their range of jackets, shirts, ties, socks and cuff links are worthy of their own blog post. But that’s for another day. And I forgot about their lambswool sweaters that are the best in the world, too. Well, well… Now, go hunting for a proper pair of cords gentlemen!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bespoke, British Fashion, Gents Fashion, London, Uncategorized, Vintage, Young generation

Pink defines the modern man

Apart from the fact that Lisa Burnbach stated in her bible from 1980, The Official Preppy Handbook, that “…The classic shirt is the Brooks Brothers button-down all-cotton oxford cloth shirt. Pink is the most famous color, and it is widely supposed that no one except Brooks has ever been able to achieve that perfect pink or that perfect roll to the collar…” I have always loved pink on leisure and dress shirts, polos, shorts. There has often been discussions amongst the non-pink wearing community that it is simply unmanly, childish, girly. But it isn’t. It is a traditional colour worn by generations of males, if from a somewhat selective and narrow walk of society, and all denigratory comments should be held back promptly. The toff reputation isn’t necessarily true either, but that is something which seems harder to kill off. However, I must say I find it fascinating that a shirt colour can generate such a big divide amid the shirt wearers in general.

After having read an article the other day on the subject of why some men wear pink shirts and some refuses to, it got me thinking. Why do I wear it? Is it simply because I like it? Is it because it defines me? Is it as a social status marker? Is it because I want to go against the general stream of boring clothes-wearers and therefore define my self by wearing pink? Or is it all of the above?
Probably. It is most likely a mixture. When I look into my wardrobe I can see at least a fifth of my shirts and polos’ (and that, dear readers, is quite a substantial number of shirts) being either entirely pink, checkered with different colours or striped. And for me I gather the most important thing about wearing pink is that it looks good. No more, no less. If you are beautifully tanned in the summer, apart from white hardly any other colour is more likely to enhance your tan in an amazing way.

In the autumn, the most stunning colour combinations can be created with a dash of pink. It makes your outfit look interesting, stylish, thought through and intelligently chosen if done right.


Pink simply is the best alternative to black. I won’t say it’s the new black, because it isn’t and never will be, but it is a colour which should be worn with respect and maybe an ounce of cockiness. Regardless of which signals you think it sends out to your friends and colleagues, make it send the signals you want it to send. Make it a personal statement without being fake.

And as mentioned above, pink worn in the summer simply can’t go wrong if you have a bit of a tan to sport.

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Filed under Bespoke, British Fashion, Culture, GANT, Gents Fashion, Hackett, Pink Shirts, Preppy Look, Ralph Lauren, University Look

Hackett Correspondent Range S/S 2011

It has been far too long between my posts. Though, being a freelance artist and writer means that you’re either between jobs (or what the rest of you out there would simply call being unemployed) or stupidly busy. I’m lucky having been the latter. At least for the moment. This however hasn’t stopped me entirely from keeping an eye on what’s happening in the world of gentlemen’s fashion, and I must say I’m quite excited about Hackett’s new Correspondent range launched this season.

They call it a collection inspired by the globetrotting gentleman … features four-pocket safari jackets, light-weight blazers and shirts. Accessories include linen scarves, leather trimmed luggage and Panama hats.



Well if that’s not exciting, what is? So for the days when one isn’t crawling on a dirty rehearsal floor in a basement of an opera house, or when one isn’t forced to sit in a boring hotel room writing in solitude, on can at least look decent. And the advantage of this range is that it can be a bit crumpled. You know, to get that authentic correspondent look. Seeing your crumpled but distinguished looks no one will raise an eyebrow apart from when thinking “…hm…I wonder where he got that…”.

 

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Filed under British Fashion, Gents Fashion, Hackett, Preppy Look

Reflections on GANT S/S 2011

He’s at it again. Not me that is, but Michael Bastian. We’re lucky to see him returning to GANT for a second collection, and it’s sharper than ever. The combination of leisurely East Coast tradition brought to us by GANT and the contemporary streak added by Bastian is stunning. Just like in the fall collection. But if there were some garments that you thought too quirky, this collection seems to have removed the few question marks of the A/W 2010, but still kept the fresh, new thinking GANT have applied to their collections over the last few years. The steal blue/grey jumper with cable knitted details is to die for, as is the sand coloured jacket. Perfect for a bright summer eve and warm breeze. And  it’s extremely stylish.


Also the GANT Rugger collection looks sharper than ever. The rugby sweaters are something I can’t wait to try on, and there seems to be some great shirts in there too.

The orange jacket excites me since it looks like an updated version of a hoody they had in their S/S 2008 collection  you know, the one with the Cousteau collaboration? I bought that hoody and loved wearing it that summer. And, if you’re lucky to tan well, the shockingly bright orange goes amazingly against your skin tone. At least the hoody did.

Something else that happened in the autumn was GANT returning to their roots opening a store on the Yale campus in New Haven, USA. With its 2400 square feet store on 268 York St at Elm St it’s a marvel of classic Ivy League student-club-goes-open-house-day interior. Or as GANT put it themselves:

The store concept, unique to New Haven, will have a library feel that pays homage to the brand’s local historical significance and university-centric roots.

I can see that it might not sound particularly exciting if you’re not a student there, or live fairly close by. For me, however, it has brought something of extreme importance: the re-launch of the Yale co-op shirt. Rumour has it the shirts will be available from the GANT web store this March, and I really hope it’s true. Can’t wait to get my hands on one of them for the late spring, when we can finally enjoy our coffee in the free again, sitting on the sidewalks outside a café browsing people and reading. At least here in continental Europe.

As you can see, the re-launch of GANT as a contemporary brand goes from strength to strength for every collection. It really is similar to what happened to Abercrombie & Fitch a couple of years ago. Though, GANT was never in such a  dire state of decline as A&F before catching up with the rest of the posh leisure brands. I’m deeply impressed that these big companies have managed to turn their massive machinery around so quickly, but more importantly, as a customer and fashion freak I’m indebted to them and eternally grateful. Life would be so much less if they weren’t around.

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Filed under GANT, Gents Fashion, Preppy Look, University Look, Yale

Modern tie wear

I’m a sucker for ties. I know it’s a rather appalling turn of phrase, but it’s the best way to sum up my love for something quite a lot of gents find a nuisance.

I understand that many men find it uncomfortable and strangling, but come on guys, give it a proper chance. A good looking tie, none of these novelty “funny” ones though. Anyone who manages to see what’s so funny about them? Please let me know. I’ve tried to understand but just never will.

There are so many ways to wear a tie today: with a jacket, under a nice hoodie with a good shirt, under a lambs wool crewneck, tightly and neatly done up in a double Windsor or loosely arrogant with a touch of style and prepyness. The opportunities are endless.

The only thing that matters is, as always, that it’s a good quality tie. It doesn’t need to be ludicrously expensive, but it needs to be good looking and of a high quality wove. Otherwise it just looks like you’re trying too hard. Which you, if you’ve bought a cheap H&M one, probably are.

The whole point of wearing a tie is that it gives an extra dash of colour and flair to an outfit that otherwise might just have been seen as nice. Wearing a tie is a statement, a way of saying “hey, I actually care and I dare make a statement with what I’m wearing”. Of course it will look great with a bespoke suit and a well chosen shirt and tie. That’s a given. However, the joy comes when you wear it with jeans and a nice jacket or something along those lines. A bit of imagination and chutzpah won’t harm in these uncertain times. Wouldn’t you agree? Still, I’m not a big fan of plain one-coloured ties. They have a tendency to look a bit bland, regardless of the colour. Better then to chose a simple design in basic colour combinations. It makes them go with so much more and the combinations with different outfits will be virtually endless. The double bar design is classic, easy to combine and works really well with most outfits: from the most leisure to the three-piece suit via the preppy university look. As stated above, the combinations can be endless if the garments, and in particular the tie, is chosen with care. Nothing is so frustrating, and unnecessary, as having a tie which can only be worn with one specific shirt under a specific jumper. At least that’s my view.

So gents, I implore you to start wearing ties more regularly for work, for leisure or just for fun. I know the tradition of wearing ties at the office have changed radically over the last decades, in some countries more than others. But isn’t there still the joy of looking good? Wearing a tie can be a way to get a job over another competitor, to get promoted over sloppier looking colleagues. It’s a way to show that you are daring, and that you are a man. A gentleman.

Be proud and your own individual and take the risk when you’re off to the office tomorrow: wear a tie.

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Filed under British Fashion, GANT, Gents Fashion, Hackett, London, Preppy Look, Ralph Lauren, Ties

Preppy in Dutch?

In the January issue of the Dutch edition of Esquire there was as always a lot of great reading on offer. There were however as if a secret “preppy theme” was introduced to the reader, but cunningly hidden between the pages. It wasn’t a special issue on The Preppy Look, it was just heavy on Gant, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Steppin’ Out, Hackett, McGregor, A&F, Jack Wills and, well, you name the brand and it was there. The issue even had a little “Preppy guide” and a Q&A with Gant’s creative director Bob Andrews. And it all got me thinking; why is preppy back in fashion? Or is it?

There are sociological studies and theories on the subject explaining that when we hit a recession we tend to look towards glamorous but not too glamorous fashion trends, and I guess the preppy look is perfect for that. Deeply rooted in the North Eastern part of the United States and its Ivy-league universities and private preparatory schools for the privileged and the upper middle-classes, it gives an air of security, tradition and style without being overly fashionista.


The preppy look aspires to be Yale, Princeton, the British Oxbridge style. Even though you might not have had the luck, or the money, to be a student there you can get a whiff of the flair and the smell of the libraries with wearing the club blazers and the college tie. You get the sense that you’re not being part of the slutty porno fashion roaming our streets. If you excuse my French.

However, can’t it just be that a smart, modern and comfortable style talks to us because it is still in a way classic? Not all of us need, or can, wear a Savile Row suit to work, and then the preppy way is more convenient, but still stylish. You always feel well dressed. Because, honestly, washed out hoodies, t-shirts with funny messages and ill-fitting jeans shouldn’t be worn by any man older than 18 years of age. It simply is embarrassing and disgraceful. You can possibly get away with wearing a baseball cap if it’s worn well and looks dashing, but please don’t wear it if it was the only one you found at the stalls along the beach. It will inevitably look ludicrous. Sorry.


Having written all the above, I’m still not sure why preppy is so popular. Maybe it’s a combination of the two? The Worlds economic downturn is forcing us to look backwards to verify that the time-honoured tradition of the intellectual temples of knowledge is where we all hail from, but its uniforms aren’t as dusty and ill-fitting as they once were. Today we combine tweed and college ties with baggy jeans and boots to get that “authentic” preppy look of I-really-don’t-care-about-how–I-look-but-it-still-takes-me-two-hours-to-get-ready-in-the-morning. And the better fit and more boho chic preppy is what seems to be 2011.


So, if you haven’t already got a good quality oxford cotton button-down shirt, a crewneck sweater, chinos, boat shoes and some nice socks to compliment the outfit, my advice is to go out and get it now. If you’re lucky there might still be some amazing quality stuff left in the sales of the big flagship stores. Cause, honestly, fake preppy just isn’t preppy at all.

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Filed under GANT, Gents Fashion, Hackett, Preppy Look, Ralph Lauren, Socks

What’s wrong with the socks guys?

For ages have I tried to understand why guys (and I don’t mean gents but normal “guys”, “blokes”, “lads” or what-have-you) who generally dress quite well seem completely oblivious about what they wear below their ankles. And I’m not talking about shoes this time but socks. Technically they might stretch above the ankle, I guess, but you get the idea. Socks is a statement, something you can use to define yourself and your belief in good quality clothing. They should be a business card, but more subtle. You don’t shove your socks in someone’s face after a board meeting. Or at least I hope you don’t. Regardless, nice socks are garments to be remembered by.

Nothing make me happier than walking along a busy street somewhere in the world and all of a sudden see a great, bespoke suit and a flash of a red sock. In particular if it’s a navy blue suit. It takes me ages to refocus after that. Having said that I can’t stress enough how awful I find it with dark socks to go with dark suits. They should be banned together with the flesh coloured sock. Never ever is there a situation in life where a flesh coloured sock is ok. Never.

As mentioned above socks can be used to put that extra touch to an ensemble that otherwise would have been great but now rises to another level. Coloured socks should be used to enhance what you’re wearing. A dark suit is just that if dark socks are worn with it, but if you wear a colourful pair it becomes a good-looking suit. The contrast makes it interesting, gives the ensemble life.

So, please guys, make an effort from now on? No one would be happier than me.

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Filed under Bespoke, British Fashion, Gents Fashion, London, Socks