Monday, 25 March 2013

New Ties - Atkinson's

I was wandering around Selfridges yesterday, on the look out for a couple of new ties, when I came across a manufacturer I'd not heard of before. Atkinsons specialise in ties made from Irish Poplin, a distinctively matte cloth made from a blend of merino wool and silk. The company has been around for nearly two hundred years, and is proud of having been popular with a number of royals over the years.

For myself, I particularly liked the soft look of the poplin. It seems to go better with some of my suits than the 100% silk ties that make up the bulk of my wardrobe, and is particularly suitable as a casual tie to be worn with a jumper and a button-down shirt.

Although it's not too obvious in this picture, the tie is a large, very dark, green and blue check. It's completely unlike anything else I own, and I love it. Although I think it goes nicely with the casual outfit above, I also think it will go rather well with a white shirt and a dark suit as sub-dinner-jacket evening wear, when the tie will look almost (but, crucially, not quite) black.

The other purchase was a black and white tie in a large houndstooth pattern and the same soft, matte poplin. This will be particularly suitable for Ascot, where a macclesfield check is traditional but any black-and-white tie is ideal. In fact, however, I think it will work nicely as a smart and restrained tie for any relatively formal occasion. It also makes a nice chance since almost all of my favourite ties currently are some variation on dark blue silk, so it's definitely time for some variation.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Dress code: Cheltenham

At most races other than Ascot and the Derby, the dress code is somewhat 'flexible'. Suits are sometimes recommended in certain enclosures, but often its more a matter of choice.

The most usual approach taken by men with any sense of style is to go for a fairly smart country look - heavy on tweed and, often, soft waistcoats in bold country colours. Personally, I chose my grey Donegal tweed suit. It gets relatively little use, and I like the fact that it's not quite as much of a statement as a full suit in a convention green overchecked tweed or something. 

A dark green waistcoat sets this suit off nicely, and gives that all-important opportunity to get out the recently-inherited pocket watch. Other than that, I favour a slightly less aggressively 'country' shirt and tie, to slightly up the smartness and avoid looking as if I'm going on a shoot...

Off to the races? Tweed in cold weather, light grey or blue suits in the Summer. Either way, smarten up and ditch the jeans.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Gammarelli: Infallible socks.

My thanks to reader KB for pointing me in the direction of the marvelous socks made by Gammarelli. A business that's been around for over 200 years, it is one of the many historic shops in Rome selling clerical attire but with the added honour of having served the former Pope, Benedict XVI. In particular, they are known for making the white socks that Pope Benedict wore, and for making other versions in black (for priests and, well, anyone really), purple (for Bishops) and red (for Cardinals). They come in either cotton or fine wool, and are knee-high (which I like, as you may know).

Of course, I am neither a bishop nor a cardinal (and not currently in the running for Pope, to my disappointment), but I don't think that should preclude anyone from wearing beautiful socks in bold colours, so I bought myself a red pair and a purple pair from Mes Chaussettes Rouges, a French company which is the only authorised online retailer of these socks. They have a charming delivery style, with the socks coming neatly wrapped in brown paper with no business franking but an array of colourful stamps to make up sufficient postage. Above the printed address is

l'impeccable Jacob Bate written neatly in ink. (Although, as one friend pointed out, it looks a fair bit like l'impossible Jacob Bate which is equally suitable.)

Inside the package is an attractive felt drawstring bag, containing the socks. I'm an absolute sucker for nice packaging, it's an important way for high-end companies to demonstrate the customer service and attention to detail that is an important part of their brand, even though they increasingly have to trade online. Still, it's the socks that really matter, and they are great - a perfect fit (as you'd expect for socks that come in not just individual sizes but half-sizes) and beautifully soft and thin. The red ones are a good look, and went particularly nicely with my black tie on Saturday night - even more so since they matched my favourite red braces. And yes, I wear red socks with black tie. I happen to like it.

The purple ones are a bit more unusual (and perhaps a bit more explicitly clerical although, to be fair, I think Roman senators got there first) but that's no bad thing.

Give them a go, you won't regret it, and you can wear them over the next few weeks as you speculate on the outcome of conclave.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Hero of the week: Greg Rutherford

Not only is Greg Rutherford a sporting hero, but he's a sartorial one too. Many thanks to an anonymous contributor on a previous post for pointing me in the direction of this marvelous picture.

This is flawless morning dress. The tie is in a Macclesfield pattern - a tight check in black and white which gives a grey or silver impression at a distance. While by no means mandatory, it is the most traditional and formal tie to wear with morning dress, and gives a sense of classic elegance as well as the impression that the wearer understands what he is wearing.

A similar tie from Burton

The waistcoat is a double-breasted buff morning waistcoat. Again, this is about the most classic choice you can go for. It looks fantastic, although to really show it off to it's best, Mr Rutherford MBE ought to leave his coat undone. The white shirt is a good choice, particularly for such a formal occasion, although a light blue shirt whit a white collar is perhaps more traditional and would add a little colour to the ensemble.

Is Mr Rutherford an extremely good dresser, or did he just go to Ede and Ravenscroft and say 'give me correct morning dress'? I don't care, because knowing when to ask for (and take) advice on dressing is just as important as knowing correct dress codes, and plenty of other public figures (Mr Obama, sir, I'm looking at you) would be well advised to ask around a bit before they try and do formalwear.

Congratulations to Mr Rutherford MBE.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Best blog posts of the week

A roundup of particularly worth-reading posts from my fellow style bloggers:

The Suit Room: The Real Traditionalism
Beautiful suit, and a great post about how much more important it is to dress in a way that looks right and feels right, and not to worry about classifying yourself too much.

To the Manner Born: Another One Bites the Dust
A sad post about an all-too-familiar occurrence. I didn't know about the shop feautred, but I am wondering if I should try to visit it before the end. Sadly, it's hardly alone - one of my favourite shops, a completely obscure but totally traditional bespoke tailor on the corner of Gwalior Road in Putney closed last year when the owner retired. Sad, but perhaps inevitable.

Grey Fox: What Shoes Should I Wear?
A sensible answer to a reasonable question. What I particularly like is that the fox doesn't enforce his own style on a man who has made it clear tends to wear more casual clothes, and finds him something that is (in my opinion) absolutely suitable for what the reader is looking for, but still stylish, beautiful and traditional. Ideal.

Mensflair: Awarding Costume not Design
Fascinating and timely post by Winston Chesterfield about the way that costume design in film is now seen as primarily about recreating historical fashion, rather than reflecting and even furthering present-day style.