Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Two Panama hats for summer

The summer sun is too strong for suntan lotion alone, so a hat is a sensibly stylish requirement. A Panama is made of natural, lightweight and highly ventilated palm woven in Ecuador. Worn with a white, cream or ivory cotton, Fresco or linen suit, it makes the ideal warm weather and holiday outfit for a gentleman of style. Here I am celebrating my daughter's recent wedding on a warm English summer's day.

Marks & Spencer Panama, Private White VC Eco-cotton DB suit, Edward Green suede derbies, Penelope Cream tie 

Here I show two reasonably priced Panama hats which are made from Ecuadorian palm finished and trimmed in England.

The top hat is from Marks & Spencer £49.50 and is comfortable and well-fitting. The lower one is a well-made Panama which folds for holiday packing and is from Tom, Dick and Harry £49.00. Both are durable, lightweight and stylish. Wear them with a suit (as I do above) or blazer, with jeans, chinos or shorts and t-shirt.

Eco DB suit: Private White VC
Knitted merino tie: Penelope Cream
Cardiff Sueded derbies: Edward Green
Socks: Pantherella
[All the above made in the UK]
Shirt: Hawkins & Shepherd
Sunglasses: RayBan from David Clulow

I received no compensation for this post. With thanks to both M&S and Tom, Dick and Harry who provided hats at my request for review. All views are my own. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Best of Britannia: more British brands signed up for September in London

Continuing my series on Best of Britannia, here are more British brands that you can see at the London event in September. For more see my earlier post here.

From top left clockwise: Loake, Geoff Stocker, Ross Barr, Susannah Hall, Swift, Shackleton


Based in Kettering, Northamptonshire, Loake is still family-run and continues England's proud and long tradition of shoemaking. I was privileged to visit their factory and saw shoes being made with skill and pride. Their shoes are sold around the world.

Geoff Stocker

Designer of silk scarves, ties and pocket squares, I was able to collaborate recently with Geoff Stocker on a range of ties and pocket squares made in England. Geoff Stocker's products are digitally printed and hand-rolled in the UK.

Ross Barr

Launched with the support of The Prince’s Trust, luxury British menswear and knitwear label Ross Barr aims to be a major contributor to the resurgence of Britain’s wool trade, a cause close to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales’s heart.

Susannah Hall

Clerkenwell tailor, Susannah Hall, is a passionate supporter both of BOB and of British manufacture. Her business offers British-made tailoring, shirtmaking and accessories for both men and women.

Swift & Co.

Swift & Co make shoes in Burnley, Lancashire and combine traditional styling with modern technology to make footwear that is incredibly comfortable. I wrote about this brand a few weeks ago in a blog post here.


Shackleton make all their garments in UK and will be showing their AW16 collection and launching a limited edition centenary jacket at the show. They tell me that they have appointed two new designers (one from Belstaff) and are focussing our attention on significant changes for next year.

NOTE: I am not being compensated by any of the brands featured here but I will receive some payment from Best of Britannia for curating my selection. All opinions are my own.

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Father of the Bride: a totally made-in-UK wedding outfit

With a couple of days to go before my daughter's marriage, the #FatheroftheBride collection was complete. The aim was to put together a totally British-made wedding outfit around a traditional morning coat suitable for any wedding guest, groom, father of the bride, best man or usher. Here is the result:

I'll be posting more information and images of the outfit in action in due course. Meanwhile, I'd like to thank all the brands who have helped with this project. The following generously gave me the British-manufactured items featured for review here on the blog:

Barker Shoes Gretna derby
Turnbull & Asser bespoke shirt
Sirplus linen double-breastedwaistcoat
The British Belt Co. braces
British Boxers boxer shorts
Pantherella socks

Cad & The Dandy made the morning coat and Prince of Wales check trousers from British-made cloth. They kindly gave me a discount on these. The service I received from James, David and Mikhael was second to none. Their enthusiasm and knowledge made the bespoke process, during which we went through several fittings, informative and fun. Cad & The Dandy is a good choice for anyone who would like to try Savile Row bespoke at reasonable prices. 

There's been much discussion about my choice of Prince of Wales check trousers (nobody has disapproved so far). Stripes are, of course, commonest, followed by houndstooth check, but I saw the image below of The Duke of Kent at a fifties society event and I decided to revive the older tradition of checks with a black morning coat. It's a little different, but not unprecedented.

The only product I purchased at retail was the tie (made in London) from Drake's.

As I have no modern British-made wristwatch, I will wear a vintage Smiths, made in Cheltenham, England during the 1950s.

For more coverage here on the blog on this project and some of the products featured, click here. Please follow the project on Twitter and Instagram #FatheroftheBride.

Disclosure: I received no financial compensation for this post. My arrangement with the brands involved is explained above.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Hawkesmill bags: made in England - A Review

Hawkesmill bags are made in England and come with a lifetime defects warranty. I was recently sent a large messenger camera bag for review.

Hawkesmill Jermyn Street

Made from triple-layered waterproof canvas and Harris tweed, the bag is obviously tough as old nails, with leather reinforcement at the corners. Designed as a camera bag, it comes with all the padded inserts you would expect to protect your camera equipment. Everywhere are clever pockets and storage sleeves, zipped and not, for documents, wallets, phones and laptops. The simple turn lock allows quick access to the bag. 

The bag is designed to carry a large load and the handle and straps are extra-strong. It's recognised that parts will wear, parts of the interior, feet and shoulder strap so these can be replaced and secure with Velcro. The padding can be removed, giving a useful weekend bag. 

Hawkesmill Bond Street

Priced at £549, this is a tough bag, slightly heavier than most because of its solid construction and (removable) padding, but attractive to look at and comfortable to carry by hand or using the shoulder strap. An interesting development of the traditional British sporting bag, it comes in various colours and combinations of tweed and canvas. I was impressed by its robustness and liked its design, which is a attractive mix of contemporary and traditional. Highly recommended.

The bag is 15.7" x 11" x 5". A smaller version is due soon. See Hawkesmill for more information.

I was not compensated for this post. The bag was lent to me for the purposes of the review.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Book Review: 1966: The Book - a time when England played outstanding football

This is a good time to remind ourselves that England has played world-beating football and could do so again. Having lived through and remembering England's 1966 World Cup victory isn't quite up there with watching the first Moon landing three years later; but is close. 1966: The Book is a must-have record of the game, the team, the memorabilia and the time. 

Really I don't need to say much more; a superb book which I've spent many happy hours dipping into. A tonic in these troubled time, when England and its neighbouring UK countries seem to be on the road to self-destruction, here is a sign that we may have the pluck to win through.

Here is a link to where fans can buy the Collectors’ Edition of the book - limited to 500 copies and signed by Sir Geoff Hurst -

I was not compensated for this post. A copy of the book was sent to me for review.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

A look for summer - indigo, denim, chambray and the patina of wear

There is a certain blue, whether indigo, azure or cornflower, faded and worn by use, the sun and washing, that is summer. The wear is uneven, on the high points of the seams and creases of the garment. Jeans do this best, but chambray and denim shirts are close behind in the desirability stakes. 

Images all from The Sartorialist showing how his subjects wear denim

This patina is usually seen with cotton and linen, or mixes of these. It takes a while to develop and is best when it happens naturally. It's very satisfying to see a favourite garment soften and wear with age. I wouldn't ever buy anything artificially distressed: allow it to happen unaided.

Image above: Shirts: Eton, Brunello Cucinelli, Hentsch Man, Gap. Jackets: Jigsaw, Realm & Empire. Images Grey Fox
Denim and chambray are sometimes confused, but differ in construction. They look similar because both are woven with coloured yarn in the warp and white in the weft, giving the white/coloured shot effect. To distinguish them look at the reverse of the fabric; denim will be lighter on the back than the front, chambray is the same both sides. Both improve with age, weathering, washing and wear (exactly like the readers of this blog, of course). 

Their robustness explains their origins in workwear and, in general, they're used only for casual wear. This characteristic can be used to dress down a formal look. Try a denim/chambray shirt with a suit or jacket and tie; smart casual with a twist. Worn with crisp cream cotton or crushed white linen, a faded denim or chambray looks perfect in its simplicity.

Here are a few favourite products you can buy to develop this look:

Top left clockwise: Albam, M&S, Universal Works, Uniqlo denim, London Undercover, Jigsaw double indigo blazer

And finally, a few other items with a denim finish to add variety to your choice:

Image above: Denim teddy: Dawson Denim, braces: British Belt Co, watch strap: Page & Cooper

NOTE: I want to clarify a few points in response to a recent tweet. I was paid nothing by any brand for this post. I've included items here because I like them.

The blog describes an individual's search for style and therefore includes clothes I see and wear which like. It's quite impossible to curate a blog of this sort without mentioning brand names. 

If I'm paid, I make that clear. Some clothes are given to me - again I make that clear in my product reviews - but please note that gifted clothes do not pay my bills.  I do not make a living from this blog. I comply with ASA Guidelines on this blog. I hope that's very clear, but please get in touch with any thoughts or concerns.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Lumford: wallets optimised & minimalised

Mike Mueller of Lumford Wallets felt that wallet design left a lot to be desired, so he set out to 'optimise' them as he puts it. He sent me a few to try out. The leather is high quality and the design minimalist and with no excess; a logical development if you want the product to be as slim as possible. 

Minimalist Tri-Fold

Minimalist Tri-Fold

The wallet on the right is beginning to age nicely

They are also small, yet somehow fit all the usual cards, notes and assorted items a man needs to spend, travel and introduce himself.

Being leather, the wallets, which are made in Spain, improve in looks with age. I've taken to using one of Mike's wallets daily as it seems to hold everything I carried before, but in a smaller and more secure package. Go to Lumford Wallets for more information and to buy.

Minimalist Flat

I have not been paid for this post. Some products were provided for review without charge. All views are my own.

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