Friday, 20 July 2018

British Cool: UK-made Menswear for the Heatwave

In the hottest heatwave since the late seventies here in the UK it can be difficult to find something a little more stylish to wear than a t-shirt and shorts. I thought I'd suggest a UK-made outfit that will bring British cool to your summer wardrobe.

Don't forget the sunglasses; nothing makes you cooler. Kirk Originals are made in England in many styles and at two main price points. My favourites are these tortoiseshell Harveys:

Kirk Originals Harvey sunglasses £425

I love linen's crumpled look. While not popular with some, its relaxed look is perfect for the hotter days of summer and its loose weave helps you lose heat and stay cool (Flax London shirt and Sirplus trousers below). Otherwise the cotton of the Private White V.C. Desert jacket and the Sirplus shorts will keep the temperature in check. Crockett & Jones's loafers are of lightweight unlined suede and the Panama hat from Laird Hatters will keep the sun off. A trouser/shorts option is added for those with strong preferences either way.

I've selected a variety of co-ordinating colours that won't make you look too tropical/military or like Indiana Jones in all shades of khaki (although that can be a good look too). 

Hat from Laird Hatters Alfred Panama £155
Private White V.C. Desert Jacket in warm sky £279
Short sleeved shirt from Flax London £95
All made in the UK

Sirplus oatmeal linen trousers and shorts £145 and £75
Crockett & Jones Teign unlined suede loafer in dark brown or navy £340
All made in the UK

Note: This is an unsponsored post and the only product I've tried is the Panama hat, although all are from suppliers I know. If you purchase any of these items, please mention Grey Fox Blog.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Styling the Tustings by Sarah Gilfillan of Sartoria Lab

I was recently invited by Gillian Tusting of Tustings, the family leather goods brand, to take part in a fun project to style her husband, Alistair and son, Fin. While I enjoy throwing outfits together, I'm not an ace personal stylist like Sarah Gilfillan of Sartoria Lab, whose support I've enjoyed since the early days of this blog. I therefore suggested that she be involved in this exciting project and Gillian agreed at once. 

It seemed sensible to invite other British brands to be part of the project and I selected some favourites who kindly agreed to take part, as you'll see below. But the hard work was Sarah's and here she tells her story herself:

Sarah Gilfillan writes: "The Tusting brand was introduced to me by David Evans of Grey Fox blog. They're a family run brand who produce beautiful, leather bags for both men and women, made in their factory in Buckinghamshire.

I've previously had the pleasure of working with Gillian Tusting alongside David on a couple of occasions, so I was super happy to be asked to work on a new and exciting project that Gillian had dreamed up - "Styling the Tustings" which was a ruse for David and I to get her husband and son's wardrobes in order. Clever girl!

The Brief

The Husband - Alistair Tusting

Get him a new suit, plus a smart casual outfit for when he leaves the gorgeous countryside where the factory is situated, to come into London for meetings. Special request by Gillian (don't tell Alistair).......get him out of his fleece! Alistair is early fifties, just over 6 foot with square shoulders, 42" chest and 34" waist.

The Son - Fin Tusting

Get him some clothes suitable for interviews for media related jobs. Not too formal but smart enough to show respect and acknowledge the interview is important, whilst showing creativity. Fin is eighteen, with a 38" chest and 30" waist and long legs.
UK brands

With Tusting being a British manufacturer and David being an avid supporter of Made In Britain, we decided to aim for UK made products or if that was not possible, a British brand to include in our choices for the shoot.

Susannah Hall, Tailor

Our first port of call for Alistair was to see tailor(ess) Susannah Hall. She and Grey Fox have worked together frequently in the past, and as all her tailoring is done in Yorkshire she was a natural choice for the suit. She expertly guided him through the thousands of fabric choices and talked him through all the options of lapels, pocket detailing, vents, lining and all the other things you've probably never considered closely until you have a bespoke suit made. The final choice was a mid weight navy worsted wool herringbone (to see him through all seasons) with a subtle spot lining.

Crockett & Jones

Before looking at any other clothes we jumped in feet first at Crockett & Jones. Fin went straight for the Skye brogue boots in chestnut leather - an excellent choice, which looked great with turned up trousers to give a young but classic look and of course a brogue boot is the perfect companion to jeans.

Alistair's default option would be to go for leather brogues, but with Grey Fox and I there to encourage him to think of something different he opted for chocolate brown suede instead. We thought this was a really great, versatile option - smart and dark enough to go with the navy suit, but casual enough to work with chinos or jeans too.


Next we headed to Cordings of Piccadilly where after nearly succumbing to a mild case of "too many stylists spoil the look", we chose a lightweight check wool, silk and linen tweed jacket for Alistair. In terms of weight as well as colour, this worked well. He already has navy chinos and jeans which would go with it, so at this point David, Nino (the shop manager) and I got bold! We whipped him right out of his comfort zone with some washed in pink gaberdine trousers which picked up the red check in the jacket. He admitted they looked good and agreed to get them, but only if we allowed him to get some 'back in the safety zone' dark tan jeans. Yes we acquiesced - after all we know how useful they'll be.

Budd shirtmakers

Our next port of call was Budd shirtmakers - a tiny gem of a shop in Piccadilly Arcade. The guys in here were super helpful, and didn't seem to mind the team invasion at all. In here Fin tried one of their slim fit shirts which was perfect for him - at the moment they're only made to order but will be coming in as ready to wear later in the year. We experimented with a cravat and neckerchief for him in an outfit but the look he loved most was with an ancient madder paisley bow tie. It added a fun, creative touch to the white shirt, jeans and khaki jacket as pictured. We also tried out an ancient madder scarf in a similar paisley design with one of the Realm and Empire jackets.

Alistair invested in more pink (it was obviously growing on him!) in the form of a striped shirt and a gorgeous forest green tie to go with the Cordings jacket. Although this wasn't the most obvious choice, it anchored the lighter colours and went with the green check that was also in the jacket so it pulled it all together really well.

Harvie & Hudson

It was lovely to be reacquainted with Richard Harvie as I used to borrow clothes from Harvie & Hudson many years ago when I was styling photo shoots. He was very obliging and let us try on lots of jackets for Alistair. In the end none of them quite fit the bill for us as they were a bit of a crossover on what he already had and we didn't want to buy for the sake of it. We did purchase a pale blue shirt though which he needed and you just can't go wrong with pale blue can you? Should you desire another colour though, this is the place to go as they have a dizzying array of colours to choose from.

Jigsaw Menswear

On to Jigsaw menswear in St James. This is somewhere I shop with clients regularly, though I find a surprising amount of men are still unaware that Jigsaw does any menswear. Here Fin got some black lightweight trousers which were a good basic and when rolled up showed off the Crockett & Jones boots as well as giving a less formal, younger look. We also tried a fab khaki 'Italian check donkey jacket' which was a more wintery version of the Realm and Empire cotton one, and comes into stores on 10th August. There was also a formal camel 'Epsom' coat which looked great with a navy patterned Simon Carter shirt, Forge denim jeans and the trusty boots.

Forge Denim

Forge Denim was David's suggestion as they are a small brand based in Sheffield and everything is made in the UK. They were super lovely and helpful when I asked if we could borrow some items for our project and they sent us some slim taper, Japanese raw dark denim jeans. They fitted Fin really well and the dark wash looks smart, so could even be worn for interviews with a blazer if it's an interview with a casually dressed company. (Look at their team photos before you go for the interview to gauge this.) Again, the boots looked amazing with them!

Realm & Empire

These were Fin's favourite jackets - he loved the khaki cotton one which was like a blazer but had a back pocket to make it more unusual. This could be styled in a more dressed up way, like we did with the Budd white shirt and bow tie, or worn simply with a t-shirt and jeans. He also loved a sand coloured one with an olive pocket which was a little more casual. 

Simon Carter

When Gillian told me Fin was fond of a mad shirt or two, I immediately thought of Simon Carter! His natty prints certainly fit the bill and being a fellow South Londoner he was the obvious choice to include in our shoot. Unfortunately we didn't have time to get to the shop in Shepherd Market but we dressed up the neutral coloured 'Birds in Landscape' shirt with a burgundy Jigsaw knitted tie and the khaki jacket and black trousers and styled the navy 'Koi Carp' one with jeans and the camel coat.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing how we experimented and put looks together in this shoot. I'm very grateful to all the brands who let us descend upon their shops! I had a hugely fun day styling with David 'Grey Fox' Evans, Gillian gave us her seal of approval throughout and I do hope Alistair and Fin enjoy wearing their new outfits.

If you'd like to shop in Jermyn Street and beyond then get in touch to find out more about my personal shopping trips".

Sarah Gilfillan of Sartoria Lab

Note: Can I add my personal recommendation of Sarah's menswear and personal styling skills. No matter how well-dressed and confident you feel about dressing well, she will make you better. I know because I've worked with her! An excellent investment and you'll have a friend for life.

This is an unsponsored post. This feature is in support of British brands. Our thanks to all involved and to Polskey for the wonderful photographs.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Finding the Ideal Pair of Chinos - Susannah Hall Tailors

There's something wrong with trousers nowadays. I've been looking for the ideal chinos for summer, but almost without exception the choices are all too tight, particularly in the lower leg (and I'm quite slim) and too low in the waist. Too many trousers have become uncomfortable and impractical; unable even to retain a shirt tail. 

This problem of poor fit is universal on our high streets, which cling to a dated view that style requires skinny fits and mean tailoring. I was bemoaning this recently with tailor Susannah Hall (link below), who offered to take up the challenge and make me a pair that I'd like. My requirements were for lightweight cotton from a British mill, a fairly high waist with pleats, side adjusters, a loose cut tapering to 2" turn-ups -  what I hoped would add up to comfort and style together.

Chinos tailored by Susannah Hall

The result exceeded my expectations. The chinos (from Dormeuil Naturals bunch cotton/elastane cloth) are comfortable and stylish. I've been wearing them a lot in the warmth of summer, but they will be suitable for at least three-season wear. Susannah Hall interpreted my needs precisely and I'm very pleased with the result - and, what's more, they are tailored in the UK. From £380 from Susannah Hall Tailor.

So, if you can, have your trousers tailored for the perfect style and fit. For those looking for something even more affordable, I'll look at an off-the-peg alternative in my next feature.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Breitling RAF100 commemorative video and watches

This video, one of three commissioned by Breitling to commemorate the RAF centenary, was produced by David Gandy and features a poem by Karl Tearney who served in both the RAF and Army Flying Corps. I chatted to both David Gandy and Karl Tearney at the Breitling event to celebrate RAF100. Karl told me that he has suffered PTSD and depression as a result of his years of military service but now finds solace in art and poetry. His experiences have added a real power to David Gandy's powerful films:

To further commemorate the RAF100, Breitling have launched a limited edition collection of watches with a donation being made to the RAF100 Appeal. Breitling was long ago a pioneer of timepieces for flight, so have a heritage to apply here. I've not had the chance to wear any of these watches, but they doubtless come up to Breitling's usual high standards of construction.

Top left clockwise: Breitling Aerospace Evo, Navitimer, Avenger II, Colt Skyracer

As a proud official partner to the RAF, Breitling will donate proceeds from the sale of the pieces to the RAF100 Appeal which is a joint venture between the Royal Air Force and four major RAF charities - the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Forces Association, the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust and the Royal Air Force Museum. The aim of the Appeal is to raise money for the RAF Family and to create a lasting legacy as we celebrate 100 years of the Royal Air Force in 2018. Find out more about the legacy of the RAF100 Appeal.

RAF 100 Navitimer 1 B01 Chronograph 46 RAF100 Limited Edition £7,750 – 25 pieces (Number 1 will be auctioned, the full proceeds from which will go to the RAF100 Appeal).
RAF 100 Avenger II GMT RAF100 Limited Edition £3,750 – 100 pieces.
RAF 100 Aerospace Evo RAF100 Limited Edition £3,650 – 100 pieces.
RAF 100 Colt Skyracer RAF100 Limited Edition £1,800 – 100 pieces.

This is an unsponsored post.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Globe-Trotter RAF100 Luggage Collection

To mark today's centenary of the Royal Air Force luggage company Globe-Trotter have launched a range of commemorative cases redolent of the riveted aluminium bodies of bye-gone aircraft such as the famous Spitfire and Hurricane. 

Globe-Trotter have manufactured their luggage in the UK for over 85 years and have become synonymous with adventure and travel. Think of a robust but battered suitcase, with reinforced leather corners and straps, plastered with colourful labels from exotic destinations and airlines and what you have in mind is a Globe-Trotter. 

With the riveted aluminium cases taking obvious inspiration from aircraft construction, they've come up with extremely stylish objects of desire which are at the top of my list for the Grey Fox travels.

I will be visiting the Globe-Trotter factory later this month and will be reporting in full later in the summer.

This post is unsponsored.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Buying a vintage watch

Whatever you wear, there are two items a man can own that add a touch of style to his appearance. Whether worn with formal, evening wear or weekend casual a good vintage watch and a pair of good quality shoes make up for many sartorial shortcomings.

Daniel Craig wears a vintage Rolex Daytona

Buying a new watch can, with a very few exceptions, be like buying a car - your purchase drops in value as soon as you've bought it. There are, of course, advantages to buying new - the seller's warranty and the sheer pleasure of owning a new, high quality, timepiece, but you may want to consider buying vintage.

A good collection of old Omega and Lemania watches (image Grey Fox)

If chosen with care, an older watch will reliably at least retain its value and is a pleasure to own. It will accumulate signs of its owner's character; the battered leather strap, the scratches on its case and glass and, in due course, the development of rich creams and browns to the luminous markers and dials of a watch older than 20 or so years.

Most older designs are simple and well-proportioned and, while there are many beautiful modern designs, new watches can be oversize, fussy and sometimes blingy in appearance - choose wisely.

Many makes have fascinating histories. This 1968 Omega Speedmaster is of the type worn by NASA's astronauts from the sixties through to the age of the International Space Station and was worn on the Moon. Omega still make this model, albeit with a different movement to that used in these early examples.

Omega Speedmaster Professional 1968 model - as worn on the Moon - image courtesy of Ming

The most beautiful part of an old mechanical watch is very rarely seen by the owner - the movement is a tiny glistening engine that's a marvel of micro-engineering, as this Omega movement from a simple military watch from 1953 shows -

Movement of an Omega '53 RAF pilot's watch - image courtesy of Ming

What to buy as your first vintage watch depends on your taste and the depth of your pocket. You'll rarely go wrong with a Rolex Submariner or GMT Master or older Rolex Datejust. Some models of the Omega Speedmaster or Seamaster will also be a good buys. These will be ideal starters to a larger collection or will make ideal choices as watches to wear every day if properly looked after and serviced. Mechanical watches like these are capable of being accurate to within a second or two a day.

With experience you may want to develop a theme for your collection. Some collect military watches, some chronographs, or watches of the types worn in Space, or from a particular brand. Most just buy what they like.

You can pay a few hundred pounds for a vintage watch, but it's likely to be a lesser brand, less attractive or in poor condition. To begin with, stick to well-known brands until you develop your own tastes and understanding of what to look for. They will also be more reliable investments, although I hope you buy a watch for the pleasure of ownership rather than to make money - something it is harder to do now that ten years ago. 

Always buy watches you like and will wear. There are some collectors who buy, never wear and keep their collection under lock and key. There's no pleasure in that at all. I'm of the school that likes to see the history of a watch in its patina. Be prepared to spend money on servicing the watch every five years or so. This can be pricey, but is essential.

A 1960s Tissot chronograph with Lemania movement

Quartz watches can be collectible, but they rarely have the romance of a mechanical watch, with that tiny motor ticking away n your wrist and producing remarkable accuracy and reliability. Neither will they, in general, be as good an investment as a mechanical timepiece.

If you're knowledgeable, the best place to buy such watches on watch enthusiast fora and marketplaces - but even though you will deal with trustworthy and enthusiastic sellers, you may still make mistakes. For the newcomer, a generally safer option is to buy from a well-established and reputable dealer from whom you will obtain a warranty and reasonably reliable guarantee of authenticity.

Finally, here are four useful tips for buying a vintage watch from a reader, David. I'm grateful to him for his help:

1. A fifty-year-old watch should look old. If it looks like it just came from the factory, something's off.

2. Replacement parts sink a watch's value. Take Rolex and Patek, the two most collectible brands: The original dial (the face) holds 60 to 70 percent of the watch's worth.

3. Some collectors ask for the original box and papers, but they don't matter. Few people kept them. I don't even do it now.

4. If a watch hasn't been serviced in five to ten years, plan to have it done yourself. It costs £300 or more.

5 Always ask about the return policy.

[This feature was edited and updated June 2018].

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Two Degrees Deck Shoes: On Kickstarter

I recently met Plum Turner who has a mission to create the best deck shoes. As a man who used to sail regularly, both racing and cruising, I happen to like deck shoes. They are leather, comfortable and made for the salt water and hard knocks of a life at sea. 

Two Degrees founders Plum and Luke

But not all boat shoes are created equal.  When Plum visited to tell me about her Two Degrees shoes, the subject of a Kickstarter campaign finishing tomorrow (link below) I was impressed by what I heard and saw. Considerable care had gone into the design and construction and these are no ordinary deck shoes.

 I asked Plum told to tell me more:
"We’re called Two Degrees and we’ve used the latest materials available and personally visited 78 different suppliers across Europe to create what we believe to be the world’s most comfortable boat shoes. We’re a boat shoe company with a social mission: Every pair purchased protects 1,000 square feet of endangered habitat. We call this Feet for Feet. We’ve partnered with the World Land Trust to bring our Feet for Feet model to life and we’re already protecting habitats in Ecuador, Argentina and Mexico. 

Why our boat shoes are different: 

- They have a seven layer cushioning system with built-in ergonomic support, a concealed airflow system and unique Poron® heel pad to ensure comfort from day one
- Manufactured in Portugal, the shoes are made using European sourced bio-leather (hand stitched), highly breathable anti-microbial OnSteam® and unique recycled soles
- Every pair purchased protects 1,000 square feet of endangered habitat".
I'm delighted to say that, with a day to go, they are fully-funded, but I feel this is an effort that deserves full support and with such well-made shoes on offer at fair prices, I urge you to help them on Kickstarter.  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...