Thursday, 19 December 2013

Cad and the Dandy three-piece: the finished article

I realise that I never quite did a post on the finished Cad and the Dandy three-piece suit. Despite the fact that it has been complete since late August, and I have worn it on numerous occasions since then, I was lacking in any decent photos of it and this has made me hold off on doing the blog post. Alas I am still lacking in decent photos but I think it's silly to hold off any longer, so here is the finished article as good as I can get it. I apologise for the dreadful quality of the photos!

The suit is, as I fully expected, utterly beautiful. There's nothing quite like a handcrafted suit, totally unique, and made precisely to your own specifications. I love the look of three-piece suits, and this is a perfect combination of a cloth and cut that is conservative enough not to draw undue attention, but unusual enough to be interesting and clearly bespoke. It's seen use at a wedding, at work meetings, and at numerous semi-formal dinners at clubs and smart restaurants. It fits all these tasks perfectly, and always attracts a nice comment along the lines of being smart and well-cut, but not 'dandy', 'dapper' or 'snappy'. None of which, by the way, are bad things if that's what you're after, they're just not quite what I was looking for with this suit.

I think, over the last few posts about this suit, I've covered off almost everything that needs saying, so at this point I'll just finish up with a couple more photos. The lines of the waistcoat are beautiful, and well worth a look - you may recall that the lapels were hand-drawn on the basted cut by Phillipa. That tie, incidentally, is a very purchase from Gieves and Hawkes which I am very pleased with - I have a tendency to almost exclusively wear school, club and society ties, and am lacking in good ordinary ties. This was an attempt to redress that balance, and I think it's turned out rather well.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Winter activities, and Cordings (and What To Wear on a shoot)

My pursuit of country pursuits, and the right clothes in which to pursue them, took me last week to Cordings on Picadilly. While I've often looked longingly in at the window, which has amongst the most elegant displays of tweed you will see anywhere in London, I've never actually ventured inside. However, when I realised I needed some new shooting breeks at the last minute Cordings immediately sprung to mind as the obvious place to go. Farlows on Pall Mall is also an excellent choice, and possibly even a bit cheaper, but it's a little more 'sporting' and a little less traditional than Cordings and, more important, closes earlier in the evening. As I was in a hurry after work, I didn't have much choice.

Cordings, which is now half-owned by Eric Clapton, has a tiny space on the ground floor, but rather more room in the basement, where most of the menswear is. It has a remarkable selection of traditional men's country-wear, with a particular emphasis on shooting. Many of the tweeds come in up to 7 pieces: breeks (sometimes the option of plus-twos or plus-fours, but I'll count that as one), trousers, waistcoat, shooting waistcoat, jacket, field coat, and cap. They have a variety of patterns ranging from the very conservative to the extremely 'bold' as well as all the accessories you could possibly want, including some very lovely and implausibly expensive shooting socks, of the knee-length variety needed for wear with breeks.

I went for plus-twos, which often better suit the taller and slimmer chap, but managed to resist the full 7-piece suit. I did, however, make sure to check that I was buying a check that was kept regularly in stock and not a short-run seasonal piece, so I could return to get other pieces at some later date. 

What to wear on a shoot

And for those who have landed on this page because they're desperate for some advice, here's my view:
On most shoots, there is a 'smart' dress code, but that doesn't necessarily mean full-on three-piece tweeds, nor is that often a particularly practical option for all sorts of reasons (warmth, water-proof-ness, and a decent shoulder surface). So, the standard outfit for all but the very smartest shoots seems to be breeks, a shirt and tie, a jumper (assuming it's cold enough) and a field coat of some variety. I am modelling this popular and broadly-acceptable look in the picture above. The long, warm socks are held up by brightly coloured garters, the tassels of which hang from the folded tops of the socks and add a nice bit of colour and panache. If you have an eye for colour, or the assistance of a very nice man in Cordings, you can coordinate socks, garters and breeks to great effect.

If you are somewhere hugely smart, or simply like dressing up a bit, then you can go considerably more formal than this without raising any eyebrows, though. Adding a waistcoat that matches your breeks is a good alternative to a jumper, while a shooting waistcoat (which has large bellow pockets for cartridges, and suede-covered shoulders) can be particularly useful if it's warm enough to shoot without a coat. Equally, a matching field-coat is a straightforward addition and makes your shooting 'outfit' into more of a shooting 'suit'.

If you do want to wear an old-fashioned tweed suit, you can up the practicality levels a bit by adding suede to one or both of the shoulders, and bellow pockets. That would probably call for a bespoke request, although no doubt there are places that will do these off the peg. Cordings is probably one of them, but my visit was so brief that I didn't see.