Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday Favourites - John Lewis & Co Donegal tweed suit

In the last twelve months or so I've acquired a couple of suits made from British cloth and retailing for under £300. This Donegal tweed two-piece (a waistcoat is £100 more) costs £250 from John Lewis & Co. The cloth is from Abraham Moon in Yorkshire.

Shirt Milton Green, wool tie M&S, shoes Barker, waistcoat Sir Plus, bag Tusting, pocket square vintage.

Single-breasted with 3-on-a-roll notch lapels in a vintage wide styling, roped shoulders and patch pockets, side vents and even working cuffs, it has a smart bottle green body lining and a cut on the slim side. The jacket has that slightly inflexible feel that cheaper glued-construction brings and, although this is a minor quibble at this price, it seems a shame to lose the comfortable slouchiness of tweed - maybe half-lined would have been better; but then I'm no expert and this may improve with wear.


The classic style suits the younger or older man and Donegal tweed makes a stylish and adaptable change from the usual business or country-style suit. The popularity of this suit has meant that it has been in and out of stock, so act quickly if you would like one. See the John Lewis website.

If you know of any other good value suits, please let me know.

My thanks to stylist Sarah Gilfillan of Sartoria Lab for her help with this piece.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Navy blue - the colour for every man

I realised recently that the major part of my wardrobe is navy blue. For a man, younger or older, navy blue is the new black. It goes with any colour, from your crisp white shirt to the favourite acid-green trainers. My favourite pairings are to put navy blue with grey (see the image below from Crew Clothing) and with orange (here's a link to a previous post on this topic).

Overcombe jacket, grey Oxford jumper Crewe Clothing Co. - blue and grey together

Navy blue suits a wide spectrum of formality, from dinner jackets to jeans. The last few years have seen the rise in the deep blue evening suit (or tuxedo), popular because it shows up as a luxurious midnight blue under artificial light. For work, a navy blue suit is ideal. A classic of simple elegance, it looks superb with a striped shirt and silk Paisley tie. For casual wear, dark navy is the colour of raw denim jeans or of a wool or waxed-cotton pea coat. 

A navy flannel made to measure suit from Susannah Hall Tailors

The CEO of Whistles, Jane Shepherdson, has said: "When I see someone in navy, I think they are sophisticated, effortless, not trying too hard but with an innate sense of style," and she continues, "It is more forgiving than black, less harsh and carries with it a subtle whiff of sophistication. It stripes better than any other colour, and looks both classic and sharp at the same time." 

Smart: blue business coat. Hackett AW14

Casual: Navy and tan from Crew Clothing Co. Abingdon navy gingham shirt

The colour flatters a man so well that it was selected by the Royal Navy as the main colour for its uniforms many years ago. The Navy, keen to keep everything shipshape, recognised that Jack would look good in blue; and certainly women seemed to agree. The nautical look is now popular with both high street brands like Whistles (below) as well as retailers with one foot genuinely in the sea, like Crew Clothing Co, which started in water sports.

Whistles textured pea coat - the nautical look

So, navy blue is a useful colour for a man, whatever his skin tone or hair colour. It covers a range of hues from midnight blue to a cobalt or dark royal blue, so adding to its flexibility. The only problem is that, as in my case, it can become the easy option and you find your wardrobe has become too blue. In that case relieve the effect with contrasting textures (as below) or with colourful accessories; bright socks, ties, pocket squares and sweaters. Alternatively, play with different shades and tones of blue, the overall effect can be striking.

However you do it, use the versatility of navy blue as a base for more daring sartorial adventures.

Oliver Spencer SS15 - shades and textures of blue

Links to suppliers -
Crew Clothing Co. (to whom I'm grateful for their sponsorship of this post.)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Toast menswear - Sarah Gilfillan reports

If Toast were a member of your family it'd be like your favourite uncle, warm, reassuringly solid, comfortable to be around and very cool in a slightly offbeat geography teacher sort of way.

Grain calf boot from Joseph Cheaney & Sons


I recently attended the launch of the new Toast store at 205 Kings Road, SW3 5ED on behalf of Grey Fox. With a scrumptious cocktail by Sipsmith in hand (mine was non-alcoholic so this is an untainted report!) I found a wealth of delicious textures; nubbly Donegal tweeds, velvety jumbo cords, cosy Shetland sweaters, and soft cotton shirts, all set off with sturdy brogues and boots, richly-coloured scarves and heather-hued socks.


Toast's shapes are roomy, soft shouldered and comfortable looking, but with a certain edge to them which makes them nonchalantly stylish. The earthy colours and natural textures are appealingly British and I imagine the sort of guy that wears them cycles to work, digs his allotment on Saturdays and goes to the local pub to eat Sunday lunch next to a roaring, open fire. In fact I can just see a modern day, more fashion forward Tom from The Good Life happily wearing it!

Grain calf veldtschoen construction brogues from Cheaney

As a personal stylist who works with men, I have to admit I've never shopped with clients at Toast before, but I feel that might change now. It’s timeless and ageless whilst still keeping a modern feel. It looks like it will be great for larger clients and one's who want to create a slightly quirky sense of style without being too showy, so I shall definitely be keeping the new shop at King's Road on my radar for future shopping trips (link below).



Above - Donegal tweed three-piece suit from Toast

See the Toast website for the men, women and house & home ranges.

[GF: I'm grateful to Sarah Gilfillan for her report and was sorry not to be able to attend the event myself as I love the look of Toast's AW14 range. Please see more about Sarah's styling services for men on her Sartoria Lab website here.]

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Grey Style Project - Nigel Cabourn, Covent Garden

For various reasons The Grey Style Project, recording older men of style on our streets, has slowed in recent months. But here's my shot of Nigel Cabourn outside his just-opened Covent Garden store.

Nigel Cabourn image © Grey Fox

For other Grey Style Project images on this blog, click here. Please follow The Grey Style Project on Tumblr.

I'll be writing about Nigel Cabourn's new shop soon. Meanwhile, click here to go to Nigel Cabourn's website.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday Favourites - Quba & Co knitwear, M&S leather hiking boots

I like the rugged outdoor feel to menswear this year so, for today's Friday Favourites, I've selected some reasonably-priced ways of adopting the look.

Quba & Co
I'm seeing and liking a lot of traditional-looking knitwear at the moment. Here are a couple of attractive pieces from Quba & Co, a brand that started as a Devon-based sailmakers and now also makes a range of outdoor/casual clothing, often with a nautical flavour.



For more information, see the Quba website.

Marks & Spencer
I liked the look of these M&S North Coast leather hiking boots. Priced at £69, they're ideal for autumn/winter wear. 



Thursday, 16 October 2014

TOMS Shoes - One for One: you buy a pair, a child in poverty gets a pair

TOMS Shoes started in 2006 with the aim of donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. They're comfortable and stylish, as I've found with my pair of brown leather chukka boots, ideal for those autumn dog walks. 


TOMS make a variety of types of shoe and boot, including the rather stylish wool chukkas pictured below. For more information about their range for men and women, visit the TOMS website.



Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Book Review: Contemporary Menswear by Steven Vogel et al.

Contemporary Menswear describes itself as 'a global guide to independent men's fashion'. The book profiles over fifty menswear labels, designers and hangers-on such as bloggers and websites that stand out in contemporary menswear. 

Image Grey Fox

You won't find here large brands such as Levi's or Ralph Lauren, nor more establishment menswear retailers or tailors such as can be found on Savile Row. This is because menswear is defined in a more restricted way. While the word is usually used to mean clothing for men generally, in this book menswear is described as a trend. Emerging from streetwear, it's seen as 'a cleaner, more mature and preppier look'. It's part of a lineage of 'careful artisanal craftsmen' and is something very modern in terms of sustainability and practicality, with a romantic element.

Autumn/Winter 2012/13 © Mark McNairy

Help with the definition is best found by looking at the brands in the book, from Albam to Tellason, brands from all corners of the world. All have roots in heritage, tradition, quality and, importantly, in vintage clothes and styling. Naturally, there are British brands here, including Albam, Folk, Grenson Shoes, Nigel Cabourn and Universal Works.

© Nigel Cabourn

Inevitably, there are many labels that you won't find here. The authors seem apologetic about this, but some brands and their PR companies didn't reply to their approaches (I know the problem), others are not independent, or have simply copied a trend, or are just too large. The omissions don't matter; the book is a successful look at an important element of modern men's style. 

Nigel Cabourn’s vintage shoe collection © Nigel Cabourn 

The brands are described in reviews or interviews and the book also contains contributions on diverse subjects including street style photography, Japanese menswear and blogging. The images are good quality and capture well the spirit of each brand.

I'd highly recommend it as a good read and browse to anyone interested in menswear, however the word is defined. Contemporary Menswear, by Steven Vogel, Nicholas Schonberger and Calum Gordon, published by Thames & Hudson 20 October 2014.

A vintage Filson’s hunting jacket © Filson