Category Archives: London

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

Our architectural heritage matters!

Ever since I started working at the age of sixteen I have had the privilege of working in the most fantastic historical environments. Living in and travelling to equally fascinating cities and countries has also been amazing. And from this I have learned one thing: architecture counts and matters enormously for cities or countries identity and the picture it sends to visitors as well as the people living there. Imagine New York without its high rising buildings, London without the Houses of Parliament with the fairly famous clock tower attached. Imagine Paris without the Tour d’Eiffel, Rome without Colosseum (though the Romans do everything they can making it crumble down piece by piece, but that’s an issue for another day) and China without the Great Wall. Even though one might not be an architectural nerd like myself, these buildings matter. To everyone.

The famous Swedish architectural preservationist and spokesman for the built cultural heritage Lars Sjöberg speaks about an internal, almost like an inherited compass for beauty, when he talks about the history of buildings. If we are to believe him they help us see and understands the world we live in. And I believe he has a point. When buildings are demolished and by bulldozers loaded on a truck to later be driven off to become landfill somewhere, we have lost a part of what we could have referred to as “home”. When big parts of Europe’s old city centers were demolished in the 1950s and 60s we lost parts of our identity. There were good reasons at times, I am the first to accept that, but there were also times when the demolishing frenzy was due purely to laziness from politicians that found preserving our built heritage too tiring and expensive. When the same thing happens today I feel obliged to cry out “hey, wait a minute! Haven’t we done this mistake before?” When this happens I think we have to start thinking very carefully about how we want our children and future generations to experience their environment. Not just when it comes to recycling and the biological environment. The physical environment is equally as important, and often these two causes go hand in hand.

Wanting to preserve the built heritage, whether it’s a Georgian country estate in the Swedish countryside or a Victorian office building in central London, the will and passion to preserve and care about earlier generations historical footprints, the architectural ones being the very rare exceptions one can actually see and touch, the engagement does often coincide with a general passion to take care of the environment too. If only more of us could see the common objectives. The more of us that get engaged in the case of saving our built heritage all over Europe, the more beautiful will future generation’s environments be. And as opposed to us, they will thank our generation for it and not berate us like we berate the generation that demolished the world we could have lived in. World War II made a terrifying and effective demolishing-job for us, though how some people found that an excuse to start a War on Beauty is astonishing. Let’s not continue that war. Let’s make peace and embrace the architectural beauty of our cities and the built heritage in our countrysides. This will be my New Years resolution for 2012.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Filed under Architecture, Architecture Matters, Arts Funding Cuts Europe, London

Contrasts

Sitting in the summer house this morning, reading the local morning paper, I came across a short column asking the question “why do we choose to live in the big cities when most of us confess to wanting to live in the country side, taking it easy not working as hard as we do?” An adequate question when millions of Europeans escape the drudge of fast city life, changing the suit and tie for worn jeans and leisure shirts or a relaxed piqué. Hours will be spent by beaches, strolls in forests and hikes across mountains. People will escape to summer houses all over the world. So why do we restrict this leisurely time to just a few weeks per year? Can’t we do more of it? Would that really kill us, you know, to take a few hours off every week and spend some down time in the country side doing nothing and spend quality time with family and friends. I don’t think so. It would change us, yes, but more in the  positive sense of the word.

Looking out over the slow, gently rolling sea I can’t imagine not being here every summer. But how wonderful it would be to be able to see this every morning. To be able to take a quick dip in the big, salty blue in November would be a dream. Being able to sit here writing, looking out over the granite rocks formed millions of years ago and finally shaped more than ten-thousand years ago when the ice covering Europe withdrew after its grip on our continent. But have I given up my time and said no to my jobs in London, Amsterdam or wherever I happen to be asked to go? No. I need the money. Or so I tell myself. I also love my job, and the life I have chosen to lead, but perhaps I should re-think it all. Not just tell everyone else to do so. Living close to the sea, or in the country side with a flat in the city would be my dream existence.

But it’s not the easiest for a careerist, a focused late-twenties ambitious someone. We all have goals in life, but do we have to reach them so fast? We seem to be forced to think we are not good at what we are doing if we haven’t achieved the dream with a comet like career, a fast life style, thousands of air-miles and a posh city flat before we hit the big three-o. Why is that? Can’t we give it some more time, try enjoying it more while we’re at it?
It is so easy to loose focus and loose our passion for what we initially wanted to achieve with our lives. The speed of the 21st century society rocketing past our ears is so deafening at times there’s no surprise we might wake up one day and wonder “eh…what happened?” When that happens, it a sure sign to have a serious think. Go out in the nature, sit on the cliffs looking out over the sea, find a calm, peaceful place in the country side and try listening to yourself. In the big cities, that’s virtually impossible.

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Filed under Amsterdam, City Life VS. Country Side Lull, London, Paris, Stressful City Life, Sweden

In search for a World past

It is a bit pretentious to say that one is looking for a world passed when what we have really is amazing. Fine, we can complain about the wars going on, the consumerism, the stress, that today’s news are yesterday’s news etc. Though, every time I think about the Georgians, the Victorians or even the Edwardians I say to myself  “thank God we have penicillin, that the child mortality isn’t 40% any more, that a lack of coal won’t kill my family”. Because to be honest these are simple things we seem to forget easily when dreaming about the good old days of an untouched, virginal, more honest world.

I am happy to admit that the architecture, the art and music of bygone eras can be more appealing to the eye and ear. I also dream of the untouched countryside that seem to disappear more and more for each major supermarket opening their “24/7” monstrosities. Still, we are the ones who let it happen. If we create the need, the companies will be there filling their pockets by “supplying the needs of the modern lifestyle”.

After having been away from the UK for almost six months now I look back on my time there with love and affection. I hope to be able to go back one day, one way or the other. One of the things that fascinate me most with that country is their relationship with their own past. There is a love-hate relation to the Victorians that surprises me. Why this hatred towards the people who created the world they (and big parts of the Western World) live in? Imagine London without the houses from the mid-late 19th Century. Imagine the North of England and Scotland without the power and grandeur from the industrial revolution.

But maybe that’s why? Since the momentum of that era is gone forever, it is hard to find an identity in a world that no longer exists. The society and cultural climate that once was, isn’t any more. And now they need to find a way of accepting it. Of accepting the realities in a hierarchical society with incredible social differences and an antique educational system which is so elitist the elite who’ve partaken can’t see why it could possibly be wrong.

Maybe this is where they ought to look? By accepting the problems and dealing with them, maybe you can let go of a dark social past that still lingers in every nook of the British society. Because at heart, like most Brits if you give them the chance, there is warmth, passion and even love for your fellow man in the British society. Even in a Tory.

But, as long as the society chooses to look away from the facts of the hardship, unfairness and reality of it all, the only thing that will remain is the disrespect and hate towards the old, Victorian society and outdated values that still rule one of the most interesting countries in Europe. Let it not be like that. Embrace the past and see it for what it is, and what it can give us today. And then: move on. Just don’t touch the old architecture.

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Filed under Architecture, Art, London, Longing

Where is home?

Constantly travelling. Always in new accommodation. Never your own furniture. Never sleep in your own bed. You know, the one you bought six years ago to suit your length, weight and your spine perfectly? It’s in storage somewhere with three complete homes shipped from different parts of the world.

You never know when to be able to move “home” again, all depend on where the work is. It is tiring sometimes, to never know for how long you’ll be staying in a particular place. Will it be for three months? Maybe two years? Or, maybe this is where “home” will actually be from now on? God only knows.


But still, a freelancer’s existence is exiting. It gives you experiences that hardly anyone else gets early on in their career. You see new places, get to travel far and wide, enjoy the hospitality of new colleagues and friends from the most diverse backgrounds, both ethnic and geographic.


The new cuisines you get to try, oh can they not be the most interesting? You try food you fall in love with immediately, some grows on you, and some are simply inedible. Not to forget: languages. You learn a phrase here and a word there and all of a sudden you’ve picked up another language.


I think for me though, what stays with me the longest is the beauty of a place. Sometimes the cities or towns you visit are appallingly boring and you can’t wait to get away. However, the times you spend in major cities and beautiful countryside settings can be enormously rewarding.


Being able to walk in the Cotswolds on your day off, or take a stroll along the Seine before you need to be at the theatre for an afternoon session is just incredible. It is such a grace to have the opportunity of seeing all these places and spend prolonged periods of time abroad. To get to know new countries and cultures, and still being payed to be there. Isn’t that just amazing?


Still, home is always home. The saying my home is my castle couldn’t be more accurate when you spend months, sometimes years, away from the warmth of your own home. But I’m sure that one day I’ll be able to unpack all those boxes and take out all the furniture of storage. To once again be able to create my own castle, wherever that might be.


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Filed under Amsterdam, Architecture, France, Gothenburg, London, Paris, Sweden

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

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