Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Onesie from The All-in-One Company: "all you need in your wardrobe"

After three years of blogging I've realised that this clothing thing is slightly ridiculous. Each day I put on a vest (if it's chilly), shirt, tie, waistcoat, jacket, underpants, trousers, socks and shoes. I've had enough and, from now on, will be wearing a onesie. How much simpler! It's socks, the onesie and (unless I'm going commando) underwear. Simple, quick, stylish, and with no gaps there are no draughts and they are snug and comfortable. Why don't we all wear onesies?


And did I mention that it's made in England? And mine was bespoke. With many thanks to the good people at the The-All-in-One Company where you can design your own onesie and have it 'ethically hand-made with love'. I know mine was.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Black tie, dinner jacket and evening dress: Dress codes 1 by Sarah Gilfillan

Sarah Gilfillan and I are planning a series of posts on dress codes. This is the first, on black tie, dinner jacket, evening suit - all making up men's evening dress (in the USA the term tuxedo is used). In this feature we advise you on what you are expected to wear if invited to a black tie occasion. Sarah has also curated for you three complete black tie collections so that you can kit yourself out according to your budget at prices ranging from under £400 to over £1600.

Image courtesy Mr Porter

Sarah and I try to avoid setting fashion rules, but black tie is an area where it is impolite to ignore a host's request that you wear a certain dress at the event to which you are invited. I've been to black tie dinners where some guests have worn lounge suits, no ties, or dinner jackets with coloured bow ties. Strictly these guests didn't comply with their hosts' dress codes. I feel it's both respectful and polite to dress as asked on the invitation.

Some dress codes are more flexible than others. Black tie is the clearest and there's little room for alteration. Our advice is British in nature; there are variations in the interpretation of the black tie dress code in other countries. Neither have we advised on the many fascinating and creative ways in which black tie can be adapted for use with national and religious dress.

Here is Sarah's advice:

Jacket 

Your jacket should be black or midnight blue and have either a peak or a shawl collar which is trimmed in satin or grosgrain with covered buttons in the same fabric. The purists say it should NEVER have a notched lapel as that makes it too similar to a business suit, but we think this is too restrictive. There are many options (high and low end) sporting this collar shape.

John Lewis suit - Total outfit price: £394 - see below for details and links

Peaked lapels are a good choice if you have narrow shoulders (it diverts your eye out to your shoulders thus broadening them). If you have a very square face or very broad square shoulders then opt for a shawl collar which will soften the angles a little.

It's up to you if you wear double or single-breasted according to your preference and figure shape, but if it's single breasted it's traditionally one button, although two button is acceptable. 

The original school of thought is that the line of evening wear should be as clean as possible, and that means jet pockets instead of flap pockets and no vents at the back. This rule has been greatly flouted, though, and many of the modern jackets have both these "forbidden" things. If going for vents, it's preferable to choose double over single for a more classic, elegant look.

Some think that grosgrain is superior to satin, and I'd be inclined to agree. If it's of a lesser quality, satin can easily look cheap, whereas I don't think grosgrain does.

Hugo Boss suit - Total outfit: £994 - see below for details and links

Trousers

The trousers should be in the same fabric as your jacket and have a matching single braid (double is for white tie) down the side in the same fabric as the facings on your jacket. They should have a side fastener rather than belt loops, and can be worn with braces. They should not have turn-ups at the hem. 

Shirt

Your evening shirt should have a Marcella or pleat front and a turn down collar - never a wing collar which is for white tie (although interestingly in his book "Dressing The Man", Alan Flusser gives this as an option - maybe it's an American thing?) It should have a double cuff and be worn with simple elegant cufflinks. Personally, I love the understated formality of the Marcella front, but with the revival of the seventies at the moment, I wonder whether the frill front will also be revived?! [G.F: I agree with Sarah here; wing collars are an American interpretation of black tie and, while increasingly seen in the UK, are usually used here for white tie wear].

Tie

This should be a self-tie bow in either silk or grosgrain to match the lapel of your jacket. If you don't know how to tie it check out La Bowtique for the best video - as he says, it's just like tying your shoelaces. Also check out his guidelines on what shape bow tie to choose for your face shape.

Favourbrook suit - Total outfit: £1644 - see below for details and links

Accessories

Your socks should be in a fine knit black rib and calf length so as not to show any leg when sitting down. 

It used to be a sartorial crime to show your trouser waistband so a cummerbund or waistcoat was worn to cover it. If wearing a waistcoat, it should be a low cut single breasted style and usually has a shawl collar. Cummerbunds seem to be having a resurgence again, and I recently learnt that the pleats should be facing up because dress trousers didn't used to have pockets, so it was a handy place in which to store your opera or concert ticket. 

It's generally thought that cummerbunds work best with shawl collared jackets and waistcoats with a peaked lapel style.

A white linen, lace or silk pocket square may be worn in the top pocket. If you’re going for a more contemporary look, a spotted or simple geometric pattern, coloured or black and white, is, in our view, acceptable. 

Shoes

Patent or high-shine Oxfords are the most fitting choice, although I've noticed patent Derbies also being worn (and shown in image 3). You could also wear dress slippers, as long as you feel confident wearing them. They're better suited to slim gentlemen, as on a heavy man they could look as if he has women's ballet pumps on. Avoid shoes that are too casual, chunky or extreme in taste. We feel that brogues (with decorative holes) are not suitable, being a bit rustic for evening wear.

Product details for the outfits pictured above:

IMAGE 1 - LOWER PRICE
John Lewis - Total outfit price: £394
Jacket: John Lewis £150
Trousers - John Lewis £80
Shirt - John Lewis £40
Bow tie - John Lewis £16
Cufflinks - John Lewis - £25
Pocket square - Etsy £13.72
Shoes - John Lewis - £69

IMAGE 2 - MID PRICE
Hugo Boss - Total outfit: £994
Suit - Jacket and trousers - Hugo Boss £550
Shirt - Thomas Pink £99
Bow tie - Hackett £40
Cufflinks - Hugo Boss £75 
Pocket square - Lanvin £45
Shoes - Paul Smith £185

IMAGE 3 - HIGHER PRICE
Favourbrook - Total outfit: £1644
Jacket - Favourbrook £590 
Trousers - Favourbrook £240 
Shirt - Favourbrook £120
Bow tie - Favourbrook £55
Cufflinks - Lanvin - £165 
Pocket square - Drakes £75
Shoes - Mr Hare £399

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Edit Suits Co: accessible made-to-measure tailoring

Edit Suits Co. are on a mission to make the made-to-measure suit more accessible. They are doing this by combining excellent customer service and quality fabrics with ease of use and reasonable prices. 


They made me a suit to enable me to test these claims. The process couldn't have been easier, as the tailor comes to your office or home. This may initially restrict the choice of cloths, but if this matters to you (it didn't to me; I had a good choice), you can visit them if you need to see an even larger range. Normally the suit will be completed after one or two fittings, but if more are needed, Edit will accommodate that.

The emphasis is on modern cuts and quality construction and materials and the client has very free input as to the style, cut and details. I wanted a fairly classic shape and selected an Italian fabric from Vitale Barberis Canonico which has exceeded my expectations, being crisp yet compliant and staying fresh even after train and car trips. The salt and pepper grey gives a good muted textural framework for a variety of shirts and tie colours and designs. 


I wanted a soft shoulder line with full canvas construction, a very slightly shorter than classic jacket and slimmer-cut trousers with turn-ups (I select turn-ups on the assumption that they can be got rid of at a later date if no longer required, whereas they can't be newly altered for later). 

I was hoping for a comfortable suit made from a forgiving cloth; and that is what I've got. Little details like initials embroidered above an inside pocket, a beautiful silk lining and well-made side waist adjusters make for a suit that's a pleasure to own and, at  a price of £599, is very competitive for made-to-measure using this quality of cloth. Prices vary between from £389 to from £979 depending on details and the quality of the cloth you select (they supply either their own house fabrics or from Ermenegildo Zegna, Dormeuil, Holland & Sherry and others)Once measured, the client's size, measurement and preferences remain on file for future orders.

Visit Edit Suits Co. to choose and order. I also had a shirt made and will talk about that in a future post.

Suede Oxford brogues: Cheaney for Mr Porter (no longer available)
Socks: Missoni
Fox tie pin: Vintage
Pocket square: Pheres, Italy

With thanks to Jonathan and Rai of Holdall & Co for taking the photos on a visit to IWM in London.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Marwood SS15 - menswear accessories made in the UK

Marwood's gentle made-in-England accessories appeal to me because they are different. Their look book for their SS15 collection features John Tebbs of The Garden Edit which sells highly stylish goods to the keen gardener. Marwood's soft colours and textures go well in such surroundings. The photography is by Arianna Lago.





To see Marwood's collection of exquisitely-made British accessories, including ties, bow ties, scarves and pocket squares, click here

Monday, 23 March 2015

Stallard loafers and driving shoes: a new arrival

Stallard is a small British start-up business designing and selling reasonably-priced loafers, or driving shoes. Ideal for spring and summer wear, they look good with chinos, shorts or jeans.


Initially the plan was to make them in the UK, but Nick Stallard found that, while Goodyear-welted shoes are commonly made here, the loafer is not, so they are beautifully-made in Portugal. They are available in brown, black and blue calf leather at £109 a pair from Stallard.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Friday Favourites: Archer & Peyton socks, Spoke trousers

Archer & Peyton socks

I've mentioned Archer & Peyton before. Produced in Italy in a wide range of colours and designs, they are well-made and comfortable and among my favourites.

Blue socks

Contact Archer & Peyton for more information and to buy.

Spoke

An update on another brand I've mentioned before. Spoke have returned their manufacture to the UK. Their speciality is not only matching size to waist and leg but also to build/body shape. 

Bulletproof Chinos - navy blue

I've tried a pair of their 'Bulletproof' chinos which fit perfectly. The fabric, quality and cut are very good. Highly-recommended from Spoke.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Oliver Sweeney SS15 and ageless menswear advertising

I make no apology for featuring Oliver Sweeney in successive posts; this is an editorial decision prompted by my approval of their advertising campaign for their spring/summer 2015 collection. Not only does it contain clothes I'd like to wear (from a brand I previously associated only with shoes), but they also have selected a model with a good show of grey hairs.


The model is in his fifties (he's Glenn Campbell, a stylist and presenter in his fifties and isn't a professional model) make the shots ageless in a way that gives me, an older man, some idea of how the clothes could look on me. At the risk of becoming tedious on this point, I feel that many brands are losing out by ignoring the older man; we are a demographic that is increasing in size, affluence and interest in style. Advertise to us and we will abandon our cardigans and slippers and buy with enthusiasm.

Readers will recall I wore one of their coats in my recent spring coats shoot (click here). Well done Oliver Sweeney. (Incidentally, I've not been paid, received and expect nothing from Oliver Sweeney for this).