Thursday, 30 October 2014

Poppy Appeal cuff links from Marks & Spencer

This autumn, M&S menswear offers a set of poppy cuff links to commemorate the centenary of the start of World War I. They cost £15 a pair and all profits from the sale of each set (£4.50) will be donated to the Royal British Legion Trading Limited. I'll certainly be buying a pair. Go to the M&S website to buy.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Cheaney Cairngorm - Veldtschoen construction shoes

Our largely urban lifestyle has sidelined the need for robust, waterproof and truly comfortable footwear. Pavements are not muddy, rock-strewn hillsides and there is little call for shoes that can be worn on both. We tend to separate our urban and country lives, buying stylish shoes for work and walking boots or wellies for the country.

Cheaney Cairngrom

As a result shoes constructed to be sturdy, comfortable all day and weatherproof are overlooked. This is a a shame, because Veldtschoen construction shoes will last a lifetime and that chunky appearance is just the bee's knees. Their construction is slightly different from Goodyear-welted shoes, as they are assembled and stitched to keep out water. Their round-toed appearance enhances this waterproof quality and, to my eyes, gives them a slightly military, retro and highly-stylish look.

Cheaney Pennine boot

This robust and traditional style endears them to real shoe enthusiasts, who snap up used Veldtschoen construction shoes for high prices on internet sales sites. Clearly there is a hardcore demand for them, making them something of an investment. Joseph Cheaney & Sons have recognised this demand by making (in Northampton, England) a handful of Veldtschoen construction models, shoes and boots, four of which are illustrated here. I've tried the Cairngorm brogues, pictured here. 

Cheaney Mallory boot

The first impression on putting them on is of great comfort, a result of the soft but robust grain leather and of the slightly rounded shape, more foot-friendly than more pointed designs. The tongue is stitched into the shoe along its length, to prevent water seeping in round the laces. The Itshide Commando sole does its job on soft or hard ground.

Cheaney Cairngorm

If you're looking for a strong and supremely comfortable shoe with an interesting history and construction, try these beautifully-made shoes, fine examples of the best of English shoe manufacture.

Terrific with tweed, peerless with denim, sublime with chinos, shocking with shorts; a pair of these, properly maintained, will last a lifetime, making them a bargain. For more information see Joseph Cheaney & Sons' website, where you'll find a selection of shoes that'll turn you into a male Imelda Marcos if you don't exercise extreme self-restraint.

Cheaney Stour

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Cary Grant and classic simplicity - Recreating the Look

It's been a while since I added a post to the Recreating the Look series. Here's a very cool Cary Grant ordering a meal on a train in Hitchcock's North by Northwest. Naturally, he's dining with a beautiful woman (Eva Marie Saint). Grant's distinguished grey hair is echoed by the silver of his immaculate suit and tie. A plain white shirt helps keep the look clean. 

This photograph could have been taken at almost any time on the last fifty years; the look is a masterpiece of classic simplicity. The suit (which may or may not have been made by Kilgour of Savile Row) is generally reported to have been a subtle blue-grey Glen check (Prince of Wales check), a cloth that never shows up properly in photographs. The tie is said to have been grey with very fine polka dots, rather than plain.

As usual, I've found some products at different prices to enable you to recreate the look. The intention is not to exactly copy, but to give a similar style. You could finish it off with some brown Oxford or Derby brogues with burgundy socks and a subtle dove-grey textured silk pocket square that doesn't inject too much colour into this understated style.

The suits I've selected are off-the-peg, but you may prefer bespoke or made to measure for a perfect fit. I've spoken to Susannah Hall, tailor, who could make a suit for you from £850 depending on choice of cloth and style. Prices elsewhere for a tailored suit can rise to several thousand pounds, depending on the level of bespoke and the tailor you select

M&S Sartorial check suit £299

Richard James grey birdseye Hyde suit £795
Oliver Peoples Gregory Peck sunglasses
John Lewis Oxford shirt £35
Burberry £275 Mr Porter
M&S silk textured tie £17.50
Marwood tie and tie pin £280 - Mr Porter

For more in the Recreating the Look series click here. If you have any looks you would like me to recreate, please get in touch.


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 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.

Working cuffs and a 1955 Smiths DeLuxe watch

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.