Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Kit and Kaboodle: Buy British Goods from The Chap's Online Emporium

That excellent magazine, The Chap, has opened an online shop, Kit & Kaboodle, with the laudable aim of selling high quality British products essential to people of discernment. Sharing my philosophy that it's best to buy good quality and to support British manufacture than to make false economies by buying cheaply, Kit & Kaboodle have sourced products from many of the companies familiar to regular readers of this blog. Fine leather wares, watches, pens, woollen goods and knives are some of the high quality items available (see images below). Visit Kit & Kaboodle to browse and buy. Prices from around a tenner to about £400.

Two chaps and a chapess discussing their purchases from Kit & Kaboodle

I can also recommend a subscription to The Chap magazine for those who love tweed, pipes and never wear denim.

The Leather Satchel Co

Michael May knife

Tim Hardy belt

Crowder ATP watch

Just Wool Textiles scarf

Yard - O - Led fountain pen

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Reinterpreting Style: Grey Fox at Pitti Uomo

I've just returned from Pitti Uomo in Florence, where I was the guest of Johnstons of Elgin, whose AW17 menswear collection was being launched. I'll write about that in a later feature; here I want to record a few thoughts prompted by my experiences at Pitti.

Image Grey Fox

To call Pitti Uomo simply a vast menswear trade fair would be to miss the point. Based in Italy, it's bound to be coloured by the sartorial splendour of that country. Famous for the well-dressed men, peacocking in the central square and pursued by photographers, the world sees a distorted, yet in some ways accurate, view of the event. It's really about the commercial world of menswear, but showmanship and Italian 'bravura' can't be held back in a country where appearance, 'la bella figura', is so important.

Chatting at Pitti - image Grey Fox

I'd been wanting to get to Pitti since I started this blog five years ago. It was Scott Schuman's (The Sartorialist) images of dapper older men at the event that made me realise that the older man is not lost to style - an assumption it's easy to make in the world where menswear brands largely ignore you once you're past thirty years of age.

Going to Pitti has inevitably coloured my view of style. The experience has furthered my search for style which is the central theme of this blog. How has it done that? I've always realised that style means different things to different men, but I'm learning to accept and use the richness of this variety. To some style is showing yourself off as a peacock, in the modern sense of the dandy*, in flamboyant clothes and behaviour; to to others, style is more subtle, akin to Beau Brummel whose original interpretation of dandyism was more perfection in fit and quality, understatement in design and a way of life than flamboyance. Most of us look for something in between (I know I do), but the two extremes influence us all.  We take elements of a look, however extreme or conventional, in the use of colour or pattern, and apply a selection, an interpretation, to suit our own style and to influence how we dress. 

I will be using some of these thoughts this year. I'm planning a series of interviews with men of style to be called Masters of Style, seeking their advice for buying and styling our wardrobes to suit our own tastes and personalities. I'll also be giving you some of my own ideas as to how we can use the clothes we have more effectively, looking at our existing wardrobes in a novel way.

Meanwhile, have a  look at these images taken at Pitti and see if they inspire you in any way.

*I'll shortly be reviewing Rose Callahan's most recent photographic examination of dandyism which shows these extremes to perfection. Click here to browse or buy We Are Dandy: The Elegant Gentleman Around the World.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Dashing Tweeds: As it Says on the Tin - Video

Guy Hills of Dashing Tweeds has sent me a video of his AW17 menswear collection. Using a very traditional cloth and bringing it up to date with colour and technical yarns, Dashing Tweeds has widened the range of applications for tweed to town, eveningwear and pastimes such as cycling.

Their cloths are designed in East London and made in mills around the UK. A visit to the shop in Sackville Street, London, is an experience not to be missed, but their cloths, off-the-peg and made-to measure clothing can be bought online at Dashing Tweeds.

This post is not sponsored.

Monday, 9 January 2017

The SuitsGreyFox Project 4: Cutting and Tailoring

I've described the conception and design of the Johnstons of Elgin x Grey Fox Blog SuitsGreyFox project in previous features (click here). The final suit, so beautifully cut and tailored by Tristan Thorne and Dege & Skinner of Savile Row (pictured below during a fitting), fits to perfection.

From initial measuring, through several fittings, the creation of the suit was one of care, attention to detail and intense pride in the work. Mindful of the military tailoring heritage of Dege & Skinner I wanted to include some traditional elements of such style in the suit. After much discussion with Tristan, the suit has details like the turnback cuffs, roped shoulders, a double-breasted coat with buttonholes on each lapel, deep turn-ups on the trousers and a sharp, silhouette owing much to Dege & Skinner's military tailoring experience. The coat is very slightly shorter, in a nod to contemporary tastes, but overall the suit blends tradition and fashion in a way that illustrates the best of English Savile Row bespoke tailoring. 

I'm very grateful to all at Dege & Skinner for the work they did to produce this masterpiece to show off the cloth I designed with Johnstons of Elgin. In particular I enjoyed working with Tristan Thorne and I can't recommend his skills as cutter highly enough. Thanks also to William Skinner, and to Cass Stainton without whose vision this project wouldn't have got off the ground.

Dege & Skinner are one of the last family-owned tailors left on Savile Row and represent a long heritage (they are over 150 years old) tempered by a very contemporary approach to tailoring. I am pleased and privileged to have been able to work with them.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Jigsaw Fox Brothers Glen Check Flannel Coat

The humble overcoat gets a hard time nowadays. Assailed on all sides by parkas, anoraks, gilets, macs and raincoats, the classic wool coat has to take a back seat. But Jigsaw's Fox Brothers' flannel creation isn't going to take sidelining sitting down (if that's not mixing metaphors). Its bold and oversized Glen check shouts, 'I'm here; wear me!' And wear it I certainly have.

The luxurious flannel, woven in Somerset, where Fox Brothers have been based since the 18th century, is soft, warm and generously cut. Too many coats are made as if cloth is at a premium - slim and mean in construction, they are too short and tight to be proper overcoats. But this is a real man's coat - double-breasted with reasonable length and room in the shoulders for layering on cold days. While looking relaxed and stylishly vintage, I think Jigsaw could have been even bolder by making it a touch longer and over-sized in true classic early/mid twentieth century style. Having said that, I appreciate that there has to be a nod to contemporary styling to make it commercially viable.

It is half-lined, harder to do well than full lining, but this is very well-made in Portugal. With real horn buttons, this was well-priced at £395, but, as I write, I see it is now £275 in the Jigsaw sale - so what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

What will Grey Fox Blog bring you in 2017?

The New Year brings opportunities for reflection and planning. The blog has existed for just over five years and it's time to reestablish its focus, so I'll be concentrating on three themes in 2017:

1. I want to reinforce the basic message of this blog: that older men can enjoy and benefit from dressing well in their personal and private lives. The blog is here to provide ideas and inspiration fuelled by my own search for sartorial success.

2. I will very gradually extend the search for style beyond clothes and accessories to lifestyle products and experiences; travel, food and drink, watches and men's toys generally.

3. I've now accepted that this blog can never be a comprehensive review. My time is limited so I will now focus on brands whose products I like and with whom I can work collaboratively to pursue the aims of Grey Fox Blog.

To start off the year I'm planning a series of video interviews that will bring you ideas and inspiration from men and women whose expertise and/or personal style will ease you on your way on your own journey towards style. Many are well-known names, others less famous. Hopefully everything will flow from there!

As ever, please keep in touch - ideas and suggestions are gratefully received.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Omega Globemaster

I recently had the chance to wear an Omega Globemaster for a few days. I liked the watch, from one of my favourite brands, so here is an overview.

Wearing the Omega Globemaster

Many watch companies are using their archives to drive current watch design. The rise in popularity of vintage timepieces has focused attention on watches of the fifties and sixties, when they were often more elegant and functional than the bloated and fussy looks of some modern watches. The Globemaster revives the Omega Constellation of the sixties, a watch which, when I collected vintage, I looked for but never succeeded in sourcing the right one. It had an attractive 'piepan' dial, characterised by its angled surfaces which are used to good effect on the new watch. 

Omega Globemaster (Annual Calendar on the right)

The new watch uses its forbear's design well and makes an excellent cross between a dress and a very functional watch. By this I mean that while it has the clean and attractive appearance of a dress watch to be worn for work or more formal socialising, it's a lot more than a piece of male jewellery. The watch is highly water resistant and anti-magnetic; the latter essential, Omega claim, in these days of electronic devices which contain high levels of magnetism that throw out wristwatch accuracy. It is also a chronometer: conforming to a different chronometer standard than other watches, it will keep time to within 0 to +5 seconds a day.

One other feature that is useful for the traveller is that the hour hand can be moved independently of the minute hand. This means that you can alter your hour time if travelling across time zones without stopping the watch or affecting its timekeeping. The Annual Calendar model (above right) adds a calendar function but loses some of the simplicity of looks with the additional writing around the dial.

The watch feels fairly chunky, like a sports watch in many ways. The transparent caseback (above) allows you to see the attractive movement and displays the observatory medallion first seen on the original watches. 

What is offered here is a good-looking, robust, highly accurate watch that, at 39mm diameter, is an ideal size. It will stand you in good stead whether at a formal dinner or for wear on the beach. This is a watch for the man who needs one timepiece for everything, work, play, formal, informal and travel. Overall I was reluctant to hand it back at the end of my few day trial. See Omega for more information.

This is unsponsored. I was invited to a dinner to mark the watch in London before Christmas but have received no payment, direct or indirect.

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