From the Style and Etiquette Man

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What to wear in the heat of the Summer

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There’s something rather British about talking about the weather. If we’re not complaining that it’s too cold and wet, and how we wish we could ditch this country and live a better life in the sun,  chances are by the summer we’re complaining that it’s far to hot! Why are we never satisfied?!

What to wear in this heat can lead to you wishing for nothing more than shorts and a T shirt. But they’re not always an option so here are a few thoughts on the materials you should pick.

Summer has very much arrived, but with business being so international and taking place in so many different climates, your wardrobe needs to be flexible and capable of dealing with all settings.

The idea of wearing wool in the summer might sound like an oddity because it’s something we all associate with the autumn and winter months. It’s true. But in fact a lightweight wool suit is a cooler option than a cotton suit because  it’s more pourous. It’s rather like the concept of having a cup of tea on a hot day. It might sound like the wrong thing to do, but in fact it helps to cool you down.

It remains a fact that the heavier the material the better a suit will hang. Having said that, there has to be an element of practicality based on you life style. Perhaps you have to travel a lot? Perhaps you find yourself working in hot climates? Or perhaps you don’t mind having a suit a little heavier because you know you generally operate in environments with good air conditioning?

 

Summer Cloths

 

So to material…

 

Light weight wools

If a suit is made with a light weight merino wool it has a great ability to draw moisture away from the body and regulate your temperature. A natural product generated by over 70 million merino sheep each year in Australia, it is worn by us at very weights throughout the year. We all sweat, and the key is to be wearing a cloth that allows you to breath. Merino wool is able to absorb 35% of its own weight in water. In reality this means it can absorb the moisture from your skin and evaporate most effectively. Keep it light and it will do its best to keep you cooler.

 

Gabardine

Gabardine was invented in 1879 by Thomas Burberry who was the founder of the Burberry fashion house in Basingstoke and patented in 1888. The original fabric was waterproofed before weaving and was made from worsted wool before being tightly woven ready for use. Gabardine saw great popularity in the 1950s particularly in the production of jackets, trousers and suits. These days a Gabardine is a great option in the light colours. Cream, fawn, khaki, or light blues and greys are popular summer colours, and being a wool it also allows for good ventilation. A quick point to make on colour at this point: the lighter the colour that you are wearing, the less it will absorb the heat from the sunlight.

 

Cottons

Unlike wool, cotton is a plant. The plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world including the Americas, Africa and India. The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa. It is used for so many different purposes, but for the summer wardrobe, a jacket or pair of trousers. Perhaps surprisingly, if you were to compare wool and cotton at the same weight – cotton will only hold 24% of its own weight in moisture. The point being that it can takes less moisture away from the body, leading to more sweat being left on the skin and you feeling warmer. It is also worth noting that cotton is more informal that anything wool.

 

Linen

Linen creases. Obviously. Having said that, many people love the idea of a linen jacket but hate the idea of it creasing. It will and does, and while it will look fantastic when it is brand new and after a lot of wear, the in between stages will crease in abundance. Buy into though, and you’ll have a jacket or suit that is the epitome of summer. It breaths and will keep you cool. It also ages extremely well, and out of any cloth looks better and feels softer the older it gets. As with any cloth, the heavier linen will drape better (the way it hangs on your body) than anything lighter. It is casual, and if you’re looking for a smart casual approach then it will fit the bill.

Linen is a cloth made from the fibres of the flax plant and is very labour intensive to manufacture, it is an expensive commodity, is produced in relatively small quantities, and is highly valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness. In Ancient Egypt it was often used as currency. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen because it was seen as a symbol of purity and a display of wealth. In those days it would be woven from hand spun yarns which were very fine for their day, but coarse compared to today’s standards.

 

Mohair

This is a cloth that is such a good traveller. It is certainly a good summer cloth because it is light weight as well as for its moisture winking abilities, but do bear in mind that it will be a little warmer to wear than wool. For that reason it is often mixed with a light weight wool. It is considered a luxury fibre in the same way cashmere and silk are. One of the fundamental differences is that it comes from a goat. It is durable and resilient, naturally elastic and crease resistant. The first and last of these make it a thoroughly good choice if you are a businessman who needs a suit that travels well. It will keep its shape when you step off the plane.

These days, South Africa is the largest mohair producer in the world, with the majority of South African mohair being produced in the Eastern Cape.

 

Fresco

This means ‘Fresh’ – which is exactly what we all want to feel a suit in the summer. The two points immediately noticeable are its coarseness and how porous it is. It is fair to say you will find this cloth more through a tailor than in a ready to wear shop, but for summer, it’s worth exploring. The multiple yarn has a high twist which allows for an open weave and highly breathable cloth. Indeed, this is probably the cloth with the best performance in the heat. What it is not is smooth to touch which the mohair is, so be prepared for a different feel. But wearing a suit in the blazing sun, your concern will lie with how cool you feel and how it keeps its shape.

 

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Holiday Feet

Our feet are so important and we are so often judged by what we put on them. At work it remains quite straightforward. We need a good shoe, well made, kept in good condition and clean. Alas, for some this becomes a bit of a challenge and with good intentions they can let down a good impression.

Clearly when we get away the stakes aren’t quite so high, and for that reason its not something to get worked up about. In fact David Cameron has experienced two summers worth of press reporting on him “not wearing the right thing” on holiday. But at this time, here’s an opportunity to have a look at what’s out there. Flip-flops verses espadrilles verses moccasins?

 

Flip-flops

So called because of the way they sound when you walk in them. These are super casual. The Dalai Lama of Tibet is a frequent wearer of flip-flops and has met with several US presidents including George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

A summer shoe it most certainly is, but if you are familiar with the village of Savile Row in London, you’ll know that many of the Abercrombie and Fitch staff can be seen pounding the streets in flip-flops whatever the weather or season. It’s just ‘what they do’, and yes, it does look ridiculous in November in the pouring rain. Flip-flops aren’t the most stable of shoe and will promise little support, more so are the cause of many a tumble. Reportedly, there are 200,000 flip-flop related injuries every year. Yikes. But having said this they are the perfect shoe for the beach. Getting sand in your shoes is annoying and uncomfortable but you can manage the problem with flip-flops. Sand can also be very hot to walk on so you need to save your soles!

They are a simple idea, and being such a low cost it is extraordinary to think that, again reportedly, that flip-flops are a $20 billion industry.

 

Espadrilles

The term espadrille is French and comes from the word in the Occitan language, which originates from “espardenya” in Catalan.  In Catalan is meant a type of shoes made with “espart”, the Catalan name for “eparto”. This is a tough and wiry Mediterranean grass used in making rope.

The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles go as far back as 4000 years ago. With a canvas upper, and toe and vamp cut in one piece, the sides are seamed to a roped sole.

Espadrilles are not that forgiving on the feet because a traditional pair has quite a hard sole. Not ideal for a long walk. That said, there is something rustic yet sophisticated about them.

 

Moccasins

These shoes protect the foot but continue to allow the wearer to feel the ground. In its early days the Plains Indians wore a hard-sole moccasin because of the rock terrain they inhabited. While the eastern Indian tribes wore soft-sole moccasins because they were more accustomed with walking on softer more leafy ground. The moccasin as we know it today originally came from the county of Shopshire and eventually evolved into being more of a hard soled shoe used often by farming communities.

The Moccasin is a staple pair of shoes through out the year for a gent. They can be worn with socks as long as you are wearing trousers. The very moment you put a pair of shorts on, put away your socks. They are an absolute ‘no no’, and combined will kill instantly any sense of style you might have. It’s rather like wearing socks with sandals. If you do, don’t. Something to also consider for the more fashion aware is to gently roll your trousers a so they have a short turn-up.

Moccasins are brown so you would do well to team it up with a brown belt. The ‘slip-ons’ are highly practical. The more casual varieties tend to be softer on the foot, while the more formal might have leather.

 

CASE STUDY:

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My favourite shoe this summer, one that is as stylish as it is easy-going: My pair of TOMS. The product and brand story are utterly worth supporting.

Founded in 2006 by a native Texan Blake Mycokie, he set about establish a brand after a trip to Argentina where he saw extreme poverty and health conditions, as well as children walking without shoes. Recognising the traditional Argentine alpargata shoe as revolutionary solution, he went on to reinvent the shoe and take it to the US market. What is so remarkable is that Blake made a commitment to match every pair of TOMS purchased with a new pair given to a child in need.

One for One was born. I was so overwhelmed by the spirit of the South American people, especially those who had so little,” Mycoskie said. “And I was instantly struck with the desire – the responsibility – to do more.”

Before TOMS, Blake, a native of Texas who always had an entrepreneurial spirit, started five businesses. His first was a successful campus laundry service, which he later sold. Between business ventures, Blake competed in the CBS primetime series, The Amazing Race. With his sister, Paige, Blake traveled the world and came within minutes of winning the $1 million dollar grand prize.

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During its first year in business, TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes. Blake returned to Argentina later that year with family and friends and gave back to the children who had first inspired him. Thanks to supporters, TOMS gave the One Millionth pair of new shoes to a child in need in September 2010. TOMS now gives in over 50 countries and works with charitable partners in the field who incorporate shoes into their health, education, hygiene, and community development programs.

The shoes themselves are soft on the foot and are extremely comfortable to wear. They are rather like a more established espadrille but offer far more support and comfort. These days, with the company having grown immensely, there is so much choice of colour and style that you might choose to have several pairs on the go to ring the changes on your feet. Two that are particularly smart are a classic pair in navy blue, along with a beige pair in a basket weave (new this season). These are a wise purchase not only for stylish reasons but also because of the support you will be giving directly to the poverty stricken children who receive a pair because of your purchase.

 

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London Collections: Men visits The Cabinet War Rooms

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Some seven decades after it was used as Winston Churchill’s tactical hub, The Cabinet War Rooms were once again buzzing with people. But how very different it was this time around.

What an extraordinary setting and a brilliant one at that to host Savile Row, which demonstrated why it remains the godfather of destinations to have a suit made.

In association with The Woolmark Company and Chivas Regal, 7th January 2014 saw Savile Row taking a bow as part of London Collections: Men.

Now an established date in the diary, London Collections: Men has really established itself in the fashion diary. And not only in the fashion diary. In the diaries of Sir Michael Gambon, John Standing, David Furnish, AA Gill, Oliver Cotton, Jonah Hauer-King and Kenneth Cranham to name but a few. They sat around the briefing table that played host to Churchill, Vice-Admiral Louis Mountbatten, and the heads of the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force. What was even more remarkable was to see Sir Elton John arrive to join in. Then to pass comment on that, was Lulu!

As we travelled through the endless historic corridors, each room and passage way was awash with other models wearing clothes from  the houses. All wool and in earthy colours to fit in well with the surroundings.

To commemorate the 100 year anniversary in August 2014 of the beginning of The First World War, and in the same year, the 70th Anniversary since the D-Day landings, this was a fitting tribute.

What a historic place and a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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Over and out.

Follow James at: www.twitter.com/MrJamesField

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Choosing a Suit – Your jacket style

 

Choosing a jacket style, whether it is a casual, sporting, or suit is straight forward. Going the bespoke route is a whole load easier still because you have the benefit of your tailor giving you his or her expertise – ensuring you go for the best style to suit you.

A Savile Row tailor will have a ‘house style’ and my fundamental advice on this is to go with it. If you find you are asking for things that are fighting against the house cut, then you are probably in the wrong tailor. The point is to select the tailor and the  house cut that you like and work from there.

 Single or Double?

 

Single Breasted

SB suit jackets and blazers typically have two or three buttons and a notch lapel.

 

Buttons:

Two buttons usually channels the lapels to a lower point which gives you a better line. In a suit it also makes for better visibility of your shirt and tie. 3 buttons (kept high) is still popular, but…

Remember this:

If you’re very tall it has a tendency to make you look very tubular, and if you’re very short it can make you look as if you are likely to explode out of it!) Therefore 2 button is a safe and stylish decision.

From the 1930s onwards, peaked lapels, often on a single button jacket, have been variably in fashion, and this is now a classic, though slightly unusual, look. The width of the lapels is one of the most changeable aspects of the jacket, and narrow peak lapels on single-breasted jackets became popular during the 2000s. It’s very ‘fashionable’ so if you want something timeless that transcends fashion then you’d do yourself a favour by not employing it. I really like a generous lapel.

Remember this:

What you are looking to achieve is a symmetry or balance from the width of your shoulders, to the width of the lapel, to the width of the tie.

 

Double Breasted

The DB refers to a coat or jacket with wide, overlapping front flaps and two parallel columns of buttons or snaps. In most modern double-breasted coats, one column of buttons is decorative, while the other functional. The other buttons, placed on the outside edge of the coat breast, are either decorative (non-functional) or functional, allowing the overlap to fasten reversibly, right lapel over left lapel. To strengthen the fastening, a functional inner-button, called the jigger, is usually added to parallel-fasten the over-lapped layers together from the inside. The DB originated from the naval reefer jacket and is a formal two piece where there is no need to have a waistcoat.

There are little in the way of benefits of having a DB over an SB other than to say it might be a fraction warmer as you have essentially two layers covering your torso. The rest is down to personal style and taste.  In recent years we have seen a return to their popularity. DBs have become more fitted and embraced a sleeker look. This, a difference to the era they were popular in during the mid-1930s until the late 1950s, and again from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.

‘You’ve got to pick a pocket or two…’

Straight or slanting?

Straight is more classic and slanting is more sporty. As much as I’ve had both, I like straight pockets on both my suits and sports jackets.

Outside ticket pocket or not?

As with all pockets, if they have a practical purpose for you then use them / have them. If they don’t, then don’t. The ticket pocket was and is exactly what it says on the tin – a pocket used to carry your train ticket. I like them because I use them.

Side vents?

Two are the norm and not only gives you a better continued back line but also gives you easy access to your trouser pockets. The single vent was born through riding on horse back, with the notion that the back of the jacket would splay and fall nicely either side of the horse’s back. I’m not a fan. Likewise no vents should be reserved for formalwear only in my opinion.

Internal pockets?

In breast pockets and ticket pockets all hold a practical purpose for me so I have them and use them. Just don’t make the mistake of loading them up like a child trying to fill up his entire mouth with a whole packet of wine gums. It will change the look of the jacket, and won’t look great.

And there you have it… Simple.

 

Follow James at: www.twitter.com/MrJamesField

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Wearing a Poppy

The history bit:

The use of the poppy was inspired by the World War I poem In Flanders Fields. It refers to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers’ graves in Flanders, a region of Europe that overlies parts of Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Canadian physician and Lt Col. John McCrae is understood to have written it on 3 May 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend (a fellow soldier) the day before.

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Inspired by the poem, American teacher Moina Bell Michael went on to sell silk poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-service community. By 1920 the poppy was proclaimed the national emblem of remembrance in the US, and in the UK. Ever since it has been adopted by an ever increasing community, and last year it is said Britons bought over 26m. A Royal British Legion team of about 50 people—most of them disabled former British military personnel—work all year round to make millions of poppies at a factory in Richmond, England.

Quick fact:

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the poppies have two red petals, a green paper leaf and are mounted on a green plastic stem. In Scotland the poppies are curled and have four petals with no leaf.

 

Where to wear them:

The poppy is a ‘must’ at this time of year and people are all too ready to pass comment on how to wear them.  Some people say left, as it’s worn over the heart. Others say only the Queen and Royal Family are allowed to wear a poppy on the right, which surely can’t be true. Then there is the school of thought that says men should wear theirs on the left and women on the right, as is the traditional custom with a badge or brooch. There are even opinions on the correct position of the green leaf. That it should be pointing at 11 o’clock so as to recognise the importance of the eleventh hour.  The Royal British Legion spokesman says there is no right or wrong side “other than to wear it with pride”. That’s good enough for me.

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Cool Wool

Wool in the summer?

Why would you? It sounds uncomfortable doesn’t it? It’s like having a cup of tea on a hot day, why would you? In fact having a cup of tea is known to cool you down. Why? Because as you warm up inside, blood vessels on the surface of your skin dilate. This increases blood flow to your extremities, and you give off heat. So there you go. Back to the wool chat… Cool Wool is a light weight merino wool that really breathes. It has an amazing ability to keep you warm when its cold, but during the summer channels moisture away from your body, helping regulate your temperature. Merino works well with suits as it is somewhat resistant to creasing. If it does, it will happily hang out which is more than a cotton drill might.

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How does it work?

We all sweat, and while the following isn’t something that is particularly nice to think about, when we sweat it is absorbed by our clothes and then evaporates from there. While all textile fibres can absorb and release moisture, only wool can absorb about 35% of its own weight in water. Cotton in comparision can hold 24%, polyamide 7%, and polyester 1%. The following chart shows the humidity fibre moisture content relationships, adapted from Mortin and Hearle (1975):   cw_graph01[1]

When the climate gets hot, so does your skin, so it’s all about how your clothes deal with that. If they can’t take the heat away from you then you get even hotter – and so the problem builds! Another interesting insight is the following chart which shows the difference between wearing wool t shirt with a cotton t shirt. As the skin temperature rises, the skin moisture is decidedly more while wearing cotton. Who would have thought it?!

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Other benefits are that it:

  • Is a natural barrier to UV
  • Is stain resistant – to a degree because the fibres have a natural outer layer that prevents stains being absorbed.
  • Tends not to generate static and attracts less in the way of dust.
  • Is a natural material, generated by over 70 million merino sheep each year in Australia.

So in conclusion, to keep cool in the hot months, don’t shy away from wool. It is in fact an ally.

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All images courtesy of the Woolmark Company


Choosing a Suit – Cloth weight

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So you need a suit. It needs to be smart, functional, fit for purpose, and, oh yes, needs to make you look and feel like a film star. It’s a straight forward ‘ask’ really. Isn’t it?

When you buy Bespoke or Made to Measure, the tailor’s job is to make you look a million dollars, but your task is equally as important, to choose the cloth.

A few pieces of advice:

  • Choose a suit cloth in the morning. The light is better. It’s also good to ask to see the cloth bunch outside and away from artificial light. It’s worth noting the change of character a cloth has in artificial and natural light.
  • When you’re selecting from a bunch, bear in mind that when a suit is made up the cloth will appear lighter because you’ll be seeing it on a bigger scale. Think about this particularly if you’re considering light greys and blue blues. Neither you or your tailor wants an “Oh-oh” moment.
  • There is a lot to be said for choosing a cloth as heavy as you can bear. A tailor will tell you this because it helps with the way the suit drapes (hangs) and ultimately looks. However, be practical. Your suit needs to serve it’s purpose.
  • Finally, while perhaps not quite as important but useful, have a rough idea of what you are looking for before you set off. Some tailors will have upwards of 4,000 cloths to choose from and you might soon become the kid in a sweet shop.

 

To get you going, answer these questions:

  • What colour?
  • What are you going to wear it for?
  • When are you going to wear it? (Whether it be home or abroad in different climates.)

 

Cloth is defined by it’s weight, and usually in ounces. If in grams simply divide by 30 to get the weight in ounces.  As the years have gone by, suits have become lighter and demand for the big hitters (18/19oz) has dwindled.

So, here it is in a nutshell…

7oz – 9oz is a light weight, great for the height of summer here in the UK and other hot climates abroad.

9.5oz – 11oz is a light to mid weight.  Good for the cross over seasons. Moving from Spring to Summer and late Summer to Autumn.

11oz – 12oz is a mid weight and my favourite weight. Perfect for the majority of the year – perhaps 9/10 months of the year. If you’re starting to build your wardrobe, there is no better weight to start with.

12oz – 13oz is still a mid weight but with more of a punch. A sound option for about 8 months of the year, it’s another all-rounder, a little heavier but still an option you will get a lot of wear from.

14oz –19oz is a heavy weight. As mentioned, there is less called for these weights. A tailors dream because they make up so well, these weights are nothing nicer on a cold Autumn or Winter’s day.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re in any doubt of your selection, ask for some swatches, go home and have a think. A Bespoke or Made to Measure suit is a big investment, so take your time in choosing. You can even ask me if you like!

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What to wear: On a Date

Fieldy’s top five:

• Important are the shirt and the shoes.
• Iron the shirt, not just the collar.
• One shirt button is reserved, two buttons is relaxed, and three is awful.
• Wear colours that suit and you enjoy.
• Shoes, shoes and shoes.

Job interviews, weddings, parties. What to wear for these occasions are all a walk in the park compared to deciding what to wear on a date. Rest assured both of you will be as anxious as each other to pitch it right. Easy. Right?

First dates are notoriously tricky for this very reason. She’ll want to see that you’ve made some effort, and you’ll want her to think that you haven’t gone to too much trouble. The cool, calm and collected man that you are.

It’s all about striking the balance between smart but attainable, and being stylish without going overboard.

Taking for granted the fact that a shower beforehand does reap a host of benefits, there are two items that will be clocked and judged by the time you’ve asked your second question. They are your shirt and your shoes.

THE SHIRT

The shirt is always an indication of you and your character. Even if you’re wearing a white shirt, it’s all about how you wear it. Whether you’ve got one button undone or two. Whether you’ve bothered to iron it. For the record, two buttons undone is fine on a good shirt, as long as you don’t team this up with a pair of dark shades. “The Sleezy Italian” look will be a non starter for the majority. Three or four buttons and one wonders what the point of wearing the shirt is at all.

Guys, you know how the right girls never have everything out on display all at once – because it’s all about creating the allure of what might lie beneath? Well guess what, same goes for us. Below, you may envy his money, but don’t envy the shirt. It doesn’t have enough buttons.

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By the time we’ve all hit the age for dating, we all have a fairly good idea what colours suit us. So wear one that does. And for this occasion don’t shy away from wearing a pink shirt if it suits you. It’s a colour that radiates confidence and compassion. Two massive points that she’ll be looking out for. (Starting to feel like Will Smith in the film ‘Hitch’ now.)

THE SHOES

“Keep them clean to keep them keen”. Why are they so important? After all they’re right at the bottom? Think of it like writing a press release without “Dotting the I’s” and “Crossing the T’s”. Attention to detail is important. Guys get lazy with shoes, and it’s always a shame if you’ve gone to a lot of effort with what lies above. I see it time and time again.

Shoes can be classic or quirky (if that’s you), but make sure they are clean!

One final thing….

Too many men never develop a sense of outerwear embarrassment. There are a host of us who somehow think it’s ok to dress like we did when we were children. Anoraks away please. Wear a good structured coat.

It’s a shame really, because outerwear on a man can be a truly transforming thing. A coat can help your figure flaws and add gravitas to your frame.

SO…

…in case you’re wondering, I’m likely to go for a good tailored shirt, sports jacket or blazer and dark jeans. Not forgetting my Cleverley shoes of course!

Cleverley Shoes

Follow James at: www.twitter.com/MrJamesField

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Your Wardrobe’s New Year Revolution

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2013 new year sparkler

2013. A year yet defined, but at this time of year the talk is all about those New Year’s resolutions. Quit smoking. Quit drinking. Exercise more. Eat less. Learn something new. Now, I’m not going to sit here tapping away telling you how to do or why you should do any of those things, but what I will say is that it’s always a good opportunity at this time to do a bit of wardrobe maintenance. A wardrobe “New Year’s Revolution” if you will. (Sorry!)

Christmas Gifts

The Father Christmas jumper, the book that is neither interesting nor funny, and the socks that are the colour you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Can you take them back?

  • Many retailers will offer an exchange (most likely) or in a very few cases a refund. In fact, only expect a refund if your item is faulty. Yours chances or success with a returning item are greatly improved by having a receipt or a gift receipt. At this time of year you will find that many retailers extend the returns period to accommodate you, but if you turn up in March don’t expect an easy ride! 
  • It goes without saying that goods need to be in mint condition with the original packaging. And if you reckon you can return underpants , you’ll be lucky!

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Buying in the sales

With the lure of percentage signs, and so much ‘money off’ that it makes out they are practically giving the stuff away, Sale time is tempting. But bear in mind the following:

  • Sales will advertise as selling at discounts “Up to …. %.” This means that not everything on sale will be at the full discount, so don’t expect that.
  • Secondly, ask yourself, “If it wasn’t in the sale, would I buy it?” You may have a bit more pocket money in your back pocket, but so many people make the mistake of buying what they don’t need because it’s ‘good value’.
  • Thirdly, bear in mind what stock is being offered. If you’re buying shirts for instance, you are unlikely to find classic colours because they sell well and aren’t seasonal. Retailers will be moving on stock that is from the last season. So expect offerings to be seasonal and more fashion focused.

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Throwing and sorting

There is never time to open up your wardrobe and have a good sort out. Us guys spend most of the year grabbing stuff out of it without giving its contents a proper look.

  • If you are buying something new, consider throwing something out. Simple. More so, if you are replacing something, then there is no reason on this earth why you’d keep the old one. Agreed?

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Dry Cleaning

Back to work with a clean suit will put you in a better frame of mind for when you start again in January. Nothing worse than starting a new year with some of the Christmas party still on your lapel, or sweat curtsy of that outrageous dance routine you pulled out of the bag.

  • Just a word on Dry Cleaning:  Don’t do it too often. The spirits used in the process cause damage to the fibres of a suit, changing colour and fullness. Sponge and Pressing is a good cure for an everyday spruce.

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Shoe Repairs

Do you need to get your work shoes re-heeled and re-soled? Firstly, if you have bought a good quality shoe in the first place, then you are less likely to have to buy a new pair as often.

  • If you need repairs – get a new leather sole put on the shoe, followed by a very thin layer of rubber sole. Not only does this give you more grip on the streets, but the rubber is a cheap replacement job and minimises the necessity for having the leather soles replaced every time.
  • As I say time and time again – if you buy expensive shoes, they will be with you for years.

Happy New Year to one and all!

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Choosing a Suit – Your trouser style

When you wear your suit you’d be right in thinking that the first thing people will notice is the jacket. But your trousers really are important too. Badly cut trousers will make the difference between a reasonable suit and a great suit.

The rise

Generally speaking, trousers in Ready to Wear (RTW) are cut with a lower rise to what they used to be. I often have people saying to me that they want to avoid the “Simon Cowell” effect when going down the bespoke route. But to quash any thoughts of higher waisted trousers being a bad thing, they are not. For the majority, they will guarantee a better line for you, be far more flattering and really look the business. They don’t need to be sky high, they should be on or just above the hips – around in line with your belly button.

Speaking of which… What if you have a huge belly? Well, here’s the thing… Either you have trousers cut below it, or you keep them up. To my mind if you have a very big tum then keep them up, and wear them with braces. Also, avoid having pleats because although a stylish detail, they will only accentuate matters by having more cloth in the front. This will lead to a baggy conclusion! Plain fronts are what you want.  I hate to break the news, but if you are very big, whatever the cut of jacket or trousers, no tailor is a miracle worker. What they will do is do everything they can to flatter your shape.

Straight round

As the phrase suggests this is when the trousers are cut straight around the waist. Most will go for this, especially if you aren’t one for braces, but even if you are, you can always ask to have brace buttons put inside to give you the option.

Cut for braces

Also referred to the “Fish Tail” cut, this means a pair of trousers cut with a rise in the back.

 

Supporting your trousers

So here are your options:

Strap and buckle on hips

My favourite without a doubt. They keep the trouser front clean and fuss free. Give then a quick tug on your hips and you’re done. So practical if you have the occasional fluctuating waistline!

Elastic and button

Smart, and again keeps the front of the trousers clean, but I’ve always found them not to give me enough tension in the waist.

Belt

For me a belt doesn’t belong with a suit. RTW suits often include a belt, but I’d wear a belt for your casual trousers whether they be cords, flannels or chinos. The biggest sin you could possibly make is wearing a belt with a three piece. It will never sit well with the waistcoat. Also avoid it with your double breasted jacket. The buckle will get in the way of the jackets double wrap.

 

Pleats or no pleats?

If you’re going to have pleats then I’d have two reversed (The English way). They do give you more room in the front which some prefer.  As said and perhaps a little surprisingly, if you have a bigger build, plain fronts will suit you better. Pleats are a stylish detail but they do translate as having more cloth in the front which won’t necessarily be flattering.

 

To turn up or not to turn up?

It is more formal to have plain bottoms to your trousers. That’s evident but the fact that on Evening wear you should never have turn ups. They are a nice touch for your cords, flannels or chinos, and for me the two scenarios to which they also belong is a double breasted suit, or if the suit is a Prince of Wales check.

 

Give yourself a break

Too little and the trousers will look short. Too much and they’ll look too long. Aim for a single break over your shoe. It’s the simplest and cheapest alteration to have done, and makes all the difference in the world. Don’t be lazy, get it done.

 

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Choosing a Suit – Cloth type

When you’ve got to grips with what weight you want a suit to be, the next step is colour and pattern.

Suits are made in a variety of fabrics, but most commonly from wool. The two main yarns produce worsted (where the fibres are combed before spinning) and woollen (where they are not). These can be woven in a number of ways producing flannel, tweed, garbardine, and fresco amongst others.

Cashmere or a cashmere mix is considered a luxury to the outsider, and as much as it is, it’s worth knowing it can give some unwanted sheen to a suit cloth. Consequently more of an Italian look and less of an English. If you’re after a matte cloth, go for a 100% wool.

The Super cloths above Super 130’s are ultra fine, and are made from a finer yarn. It leads to a soft and light suit cloth to wear. A nice luxury for hot climates and a wardrobe with a good rotation.


Most business suits are blue or grey. Some think black is an option, but in my view it isn’t. I’m happy to see it in Evening wear, on the red carpet and as part of a restaurant uniform, but for anything else? No thanks.

Building a warbrobe is lots of fun, and there is a correct plan of attack. Unlike a flatpack from B&Q, there aren’t many instructions other than to say:

Get the basics in through block colours, then heavier texture, then pattern.

 

Here are a few options to get you cracking:

BLOCK COLOUR

 

Serge

A classic twill fabric that has diagonal lines and often used for suits, blazers, military uniforms and trench coats, it’s a good ‘go to’ cloth for your first classic solid navy suit.  Rich in colour, it’s only negative is that over time it can become shiny. To avoid this press the suit over a cloth.

Pic n’ Pic

Another classic. At distance, this again looks like a clean colour but, the colour has more depth due to its different tones. Often likened to ‘Salt and Pepper’ it works particulary well in grey. This combined with a white shirt and navy tie is an absolute winner.

HEAVIER TEXTURE

Birdseye

This, as the name suggests, is a design in the shape of a birds-eye. It promises a conservative look while exploring texture and a subtle two tone colour. It can be more interesting, and sits well when combined with a shirt and tie that are perhaps more flat in texture.

Herringbone

This describes a distinctive V-shaped weaving pattern resembling a broken zigzag. The pattern is called herringbone because it looks like the skeleton of the herring fish. It gets picked up by the light when wearing it and does make for an eye catching suit. But for me, I prefer it in casual wear like tweeds and linens.   

PATTERN

 

Chalk, Cable, Rope and Pin Stripes

Once you’ve built up your block colours and textures, the next place to visit is stripes. Chalk stripes are more often than not on a flannel.  Cable and Rope usually on worsted and Pin on both flannel and worsteds. When choosing a stripe consider your own stature. If you are a small frame then don’t choose a stripe that is too strong or wide.

 

Checks

These are the last port of call once you’ve ticked all the other boxes. A check suit is often considered a little more casual. But they can be really smart nonetheless. They need to be teamed with solid colours for the shirt and tie to get the most out of them. Go on… go for it!

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Cashmere Hats and Gloves

Cashmere. Has it made it to your wardrobe? Maybe it’s your scarf, your jumper, or a proportion of your overcoat?

Cashmere is collected during the spring moulting season when the goats naturally shed their winter coat. In the Northern Hemisphere, the goats moult as early as March and as late as May.

Cashmere wool fibre used for clothing and other textile articles is obtained from the neck region of Cashmere and other goats. With that in mind it is no wonder that small quantities lead to a higher price point for a finished garment!

For the fine underdown to be sold and processed further, it must be de-haired. De-hairing is a mechanical process that separates the coarse hairs from the fine hair. After de-hairing, the resulting “cashmere” is ready to be dyed and converted into yarn, fabrics and garments.

There is a thought that “pilling” (when it can sometimes bobble) is a negative aspect of buying into cashmere, but while a characteristic,  I can assure you that if you look after it, the positives outweigh the negatives hugely. It is lighter, softer and warmer than any other wool used in clothing.

What’s caught my eye are these hat and gloves from N.Peal. Beautifully made, they are a winner. Plus everyone knows that you can’t get enough chocolate at this time of year. Feast to your heart’s content.

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Tweed All About It

I remember when the mere mention of tweed conjured up thoughts of being stuffy, boring and old fashioned. Something that was reserved for the next generation. But both smart and practical, for me, Tweed has since become something that should be making an appearance in every man’s wardrobe.

 

The original name of the cloth was tweel, meaning twill. It being woven in a twilled rather than a plain pattern. A traditional story has the name coming about almost by chance. About 1830, a London merchant received a letter from a Hawick firm about some tweels. The London merchant misinterpreted the handwriting, understanding it to be a trade-name taken from the river Tweed that flows through the Scottish Borders textile area. Subsequently the goods were advertised as Tweed, and the name has remained ever since.

Being robust and versatile, it makes for a great material for more than just a suit or jacket. Upholstery and even curtains are a smart way of employing the delights of Tweed. Or even…

Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed

I’m a big fan of this tweed Man Bag by Catherine Aitken. Smart and practical (there are those words again), but what I really like is it’s sense of humour in uterlising a tweed jacket and reusing the jacket pockets that were.  Great fun!

Approximate dimensions are 36cms wide by 30cms high and 8cms deep. Cost £135.

For more, have a look at: www.MadeByHandsOfBritain.com

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Doing The Write Thing

Mont Blanc

Pens. We all use them, and even in a world that is becoming evermore reliant on computers, iPad’s, iPhone’s, the web and email, to my mind, receiving something that is hand written is still held in a higher regard than from any of the forementioned. And quite rightly so. There is still nothing nicer than an invite or a letter which has an element of ‘pen to paper’. It just feels more personal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of technology and all that it delivers. I have a computer, iPad, iPhone and I seem to be ever so slightly obsessed with social media. And like you I would guess, there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not sending emails, typing letters, in fact just tapping away on a keyboard.

So when it comes to writing, are we entering a time when pens become evermore unimportant?

 

Ancient Indians were the first to use the pen. According to ancient text the earliest of pens made in India used bird feathers, bamboo sticks, etc. The old literature of Puranas, Ramayana and Mahabharta used this kind of pen roughly 500 BC. Ancient Egyptians developed writing on papyrus scrolls when scribes used thin reed brushes or reed pens from the Juncus Maritimus or sea rush. Reed pens continued to be used until the Middle Ages although they were slowly replaced by quills from about the 7th century. The reed pen, generally made from bamboo, is still used in some parts of Pakistan by young students and is used to write on small boards made of timber.

The Quill pen was used in Judea to write some of the Dead Sea Scrolls which date back to around 100 BC. The scrolls were written in Hebrew dialects with bird feathers or quills. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europeans had difficulty in obtaining reeds and began to use quills. Quill pens were still widely used in the 18th century, and were used to write and sign the Constitution of the United States in 1787.

So why should you have a good pen?  Firstly, and most importantly, a good pen is a joy to write with. When you find one that suits your style of writing, writing becomes a pleasure. It’s comfortable and dependable in equal measure.

But as funny as it sounds, having a good pen is a bit of a status symbol. Accessories play an important role in reinforcing ‘brand you’, and having a good pen in your inside pocket is an extention of your efforts in other directions. Rest assured, people notice. Rather like a good quality business card.

Not that it’s a pen they’re sparring over, but I’m reminded of the business card scene in American Psycho. Click here to view

There are three types of pen we all mainly use:

The Ballpoint pen

This dispenses viscous oil-based ink by rolling a small hard sphere, usually 0.7–1.2 mm and made of brass, steel or tungsten carbide. The ink dries almost immediately on contact with paper. This type of pen is generally inexpensive and reliable. It has replaced the fountain pen as the most popular tool for everyday writing. One common type of ballpoint pen is the erasable pen, invented in the 1980s.

The Fountain pen.

This uses water-based liquid ink delivered through a nib. The ink flows from a reservoir through a “feed” to the nib, then through the nib, due to capillary action and gravity. The nib has no moving parts and delivers ink through a thin slit to the writing surface. A pen with a refillable reservoir may have a mechanism, such as a piston, to draw ink from a bottle through the nib, or it may require refilling with an eye dropper. Refillable reservoirs, also known as cartridge converters, are available for some pens designed to use disposable cartridges.

The Rollerball

This dispenses a water-based liquid or gel ink through a ball tip similar to that of a ballpoint pen. The less-viscous ink is more easily absorbed by paper than oil-based ink, and the pen moves more easily across a writing surface. The rollerball pen was initially designed to combine the convenience of a ballpoint pen with the smooth “wet ink” effect of a fountain pen.

Founded by the stationer Claus-Johannes Voss, the banker Alfred Nehemias and the engineer August Eberstein in 1908, the company began as the Simplo Filler Pen company producing up-market pens in the Schanzen district of Hamburg. Their first model was the Rouge Et Noir in 1909 followed in 1910 by the pen that was later to give the company its new name, Montblanc. The first pen (a fountain pen) known as the Meisterstück (English: “Masterpiece,” the name used for export) was produced in 1924. Today Montblanc brand is on other goods besides pens, including watches, jewel, fragrance, leather goods and eyewear.

The company was acquired by Dunhill in 1977, following which lower price pens were dropped and the brand was used on a wide range of luxury goods other than pens.

Today Montblanc forms part of the Richemont group. Its sister companies include luxury brands Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chloé, and Baume et Mercier. Montblanc is owned, through Richmont, by the South African Rupert Family.

Not to say this is a must, but for me, the pen that I’m never without is my Montblanc Meisterstück Le Grand ballpoint. It’s a classic that with a thick nib (you can choose of course) just glides across the paper. It’s a pleasure to write with.

It’s true, we do put pen to paper less than our predecessors did, but when we do write, it is nice to do it in style.

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Freshen Up

When you hear doom and gloom like this, its no surprise that freshening up the wardrobe with a new suit or jacket – well it can probably wait, right?

So here’s the thing…

It’s true. Men have smartened up their act in recent years. This has been down to a combination of wanting to give the impression that they’re doing well in difficult times, and in an office environment, that they are in the right frame of mind to take on the challenges that may lie at work. But how do it on a budget? Simple, you don’t have to take the plunge with a big suit purchase. Accessorise.

Accessories can do a great deal to freshen up a wardrobe without the cost of a heavy outlay. They are a way of demonstrating personal flair as well as different looks with the wardrobe you already have in place.

Only few years ago there was a distinct downward turn in tie sales. Men just didn’t feel the need to wear them, other than for when they had to wear them, perhaps at client meetings and other functions. But with a change of mood in business, ties were and are back.

Guys, you need at least 6-8 in the wardrobe so you can rotate. For me, Hermes offer some of the best printed ties in the world but it is reflected in the price.


If you need to pick a few up and Jermyn Street is your usual tipple, remember to pop by in January and July. It’s sale time, and if you wait to the final week (usually the end of those months) you might just be able to find some great ties for a bargain. (N.B. If it’s pink and orange with red and lilac spots, don’t be tempted by the price. It may well have made it to the final week in sale for good reason!

Tie pins, lapel pins and hats are all down to personal preference, but what really has seen resurgence is the pocket square. It offers a touch of easy, affordable, style. A point to note is that it doesn’t need to match the tie you wear, but to complement it. It can also lift a look that doesn’t include a tie.

But there is an element of not being seen to be too much of a ‘dandy’. ‘Understated style’ continues to reign.

Fashion advice is everywhere, through all the channels now open to us. Blogs, websites, magazines and other Social Media. Opinion is everywhere telling you what is the ‘must have’ thing for this season.   But while Fashion revolves, Style remains, and to a large extent the art of accessorising is not about ‘Fashion’ as it’s more deep rooted than that.

If you buy the finishing touches, it will breath life back into the clothes you have, and suddenly give you more options and looks than you thought you had.

Make sure you can say you’ve got the below covered:

A good quality white shirt, and make sure it is ‘white’– nothing looks sharper.

Collar bones – to maintain the collar shape throughout the day

Ties – Classic and elegant options. Blues, Burgundys and Pinks

Cufflinks – Avoid the cheap elastic knots. Choose a smart, timeless and versatile cufflink.

Pocket Squares – White is very smart and goes with everything. Use colour when you’re feeling more confident with what you’re doing / matching to.

Shoes – So important, and the one thing men tend to forget. Keep them clean and in a good state of repair.

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150th Anniversary of the Tux

BURLINGTON ARCADE CELEBRATES 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TUXEDO

Exhibition: 10th – 22nd September

 Dinner Jacket

London’s stunning Burlington Arcade is hosting an exhibition celebrating the 150th Anniversary of The Tuxedo. The ‘Little Black Jacket’ exhibition, in collaboration with London College of Fashion (LCF), will be exhibited in Burlington Arcade from 10th – 22nd September and showcase heritage pieces from renowned Tuxedo wearers Frank Sinatra and Truman Capote, alongside inspiring reinterpretations for the 21st century.

Visitors can discover more about the history of this very British style icon, a garment that effortlessly sums up traditional values of Britishness, craftsmanship and sophisticated style. The exhibition showcases an exclusive selection of heritage Tuxedo pieces, including pattern pieces from the fabulous Frank Sinatra and the original tuxedo made for Truman Capote to wear at his infamous Black & White Ball.

These pieces are displayed alongside Tuxedos created by talented LCF Bespoke Tailoring students. Shop windows throughout the Arcade also display stylish black and white photography of fashion superstars wearing their favourite Tuxedos, including Chairman of The British Fashion Council Harold Tillman, supermodel Marie Helvin and musician Mr Hudson.

Harold Tillman, Chairman of the British Fashion Council, comments “The Tuxedo and Burlington Arcade are two British icons that remain the epitome of timeless fashion. I can’t think of a more fitting environment to display this fantastic show, which is a perfect example of some of the finest British craftsmanship”.

The exhibition will then travel to New York, where it will be displayed at the Tuxedo Historical Society, before embarking on an international tour in 2012. With a huge resurgent interest in menswear and tailoring, this Autumn’s Tuxedo tour is the ideal opportunity to celebrate this most British of style icons.

Worth a look!

 

Tuxedo at Burlington Arcade: Saturday 10th – Thursday 22nd September

Mon-Wed: 08.00-18.30

Thu: 08.00-19.00

Fri: 08.00-18.30

Sat: 09.00-18.30

Sun: 11.00-17.00

About London College of Fashion:

London College of Fashion has an international reputation as a leading provider of fashion education, research and consultancy. The unique portfolio of specialist courses range in level, from short courses to Postgraduate.

About the Burlington Arcade:

Burlington Arcade is a truly enduring destination in the heart of Mayfair, uniting Piccadilly and Bond Street. It is a place where old and new worlds meet, united by a common thread of exceptional quality, authenticity, bespoke craftsmanship and creativity.

The longest and most beautiful covered shopping street in Britain, the Burlington Arcade has been heralded as an historic and architectural masterpiece and a true luxury landmark in London ever since it was first unveiled to great acclaim in 1819. As Britain’s first shopping arcade, it has led the way in retail trends and remains a pioneer to this day.

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Made By Hands Of Britain

I know, I know, it’s September and far too early to be thinking about Christmas. But….

I was asked if I’d write about a site called MadeByHandsOfBritain.com which is a celebration of products made here in the UK, and I am more than happy to do so. As the years have gone by, companies have done their best to cost-cut by moving production abroad to help the bottom line. It’s worth noting that quality is not always comprimised. But when the recession hit, there was a sense that the consumer was starting to take notice of what they were buying, it’s quality, and where that product was coming from. This mentality remains and will continued to grow.

With over 180 craftspeople already offering their product on MadeByHandsOfBritain.com, there is a sense that one is supporting quality home-grown craftsmanship and product. And long may this continue.

As we venture into Autumn, Tweed becomes a topic for conversation and usually with talk of a jacket. But with Harris Tweed being such a hardy cloth, it makes for a fantastic material for other products.

Meet Catherine Aitken. Catherine already has had one career as a successful film and television producer. Her love of designing and creating her own clothes and accessories fell by the wayside as her passion for producing film took hold, and it wasn’t until she created bags as a film promotional tool for a trip to Cannes Film Festival, that Catherine’s love of making was rekindled.  That particular film never got made, but a new career was born instead, and Catherine gave up film production two years ago to go full time as a designer. From her small studio in Leith, she creates designs that are sold through her internet boutique, into shops and galleries.

Catherine’s washbags have caught my eye. So smart, and a great gift at a reasonable price.

Gent’s Washbag Hunting Macleod Harris Tweed

Waterproof lining and the Tweed has been treated to be water and stain resistant. It can be given a gentle low temperature wash in the machine. Strong and stylish and very practical.

Approximate Dimensions: 20cms long x 15 wide and 8 cms high

£35

Herringbone

HerringboneGent’s Washbag Herringbone Harris Tweed

Washbag in a classic herringbone of black and ivory.  Waterproof lining and the tweed has been treated to be water and stain resistant. It can be given a gentle low temperature wash in the machine. Strong and stylish and very practical.

Approximate Dimensions: 20cms long x 15 wide and 8 high

£35

www.MadeByHandsOfBritain.com

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Fin’s For Him

There’s something quite reassuring when you come across a brand that fits with who you are, as opposed to you feeling a need to fit with the brand. For those of us who wear the suit, shirt, and tie combo during the week, black leather shoes are the final ingredient. But what about the evening and the weekends? Some will find themselves stuck in a “work-mode” pair of lace ups that just look like a fish out of water when paired with jeans, chinos, or cords (pending season.) And then there are trainers. Great to dress down with, but you’re a smart, style conscious professional! Right?

Men's Shoes

Fin’s is the brainchild of London girl Alexandra Finlay. The brand was born from a desire to provide her boy friends with a classic summer loafer that fell between Bond Street and the High Street. The result has been a collection of footwear and accessories that stays true to Finlay’s mantra of “Simple, Classic, Affordable and Fuss-Free”. 

Fin’s launched in 2008, and has quickly gained cult status with a loyal following across the globe. All the suede moccasins are hand-stitched in a family-run factory in Portugal, and all the accessories are made in Italy. Whilst the Fin’s brand has become synonymous with summer holidays, Fin launched a range of “Shoedrobe Staples”, and whilst they cater for the office with their Oxfords, for me it’s the suedes that really are a delight.

Men's Shoes

Style is often a matter of opinion, but sometimes it is a fact and what Fin’s does so well is offer a shoe that is stylish and so wearable in equal measure.

Espadrilles have shown real authority this summer, even away from the beach, and the ‘Finspadrille’ was and is another “fuss-free” shoe to embrace during the summer months.

Men's shoes

But with Autumn calling with an ever louder voice the ‘George’ suede loafer at £95 and the ‘Chisholm’ suede loafer at £175, in brown and chocolate brown respectively – these are real winners. Put them with anything, and you will have accomplished everything one wants from a casual shoe: Something that is smart, easy, affordable, and ‘you’.

www.finsforhim.com

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PM Steps into the Sun

1

People in the public eye get a hard time don’t they? After all, they’ve put themselves out there, gained some success through luck, talent and perseverance, and what happens? When they get it wrong, the rest of us throw virtual tomatoes at them – particularly the press.

Mr Bean or that other politician…? 

When you’re a public figure, or let’s say, Prime Minister – aren’t you allowed to be left to your own devices when you’re on holiday?

Let’s look at the PM. Not when he’s on duty, suited and booted with blue tie and white shirt.

Prime Minister

No. When he’s off duty. Recently he got a lot of press about his lack of style while on holiday only days before we all experienced the intolerable London riots.

Public figures like David Cameron know only too well that anything deemed as a slip up will come with criticism and come with the territory of the job.

Samantha Cameron

Shoes are important, wherever you are. I seem to mention them whenever I put pen to paper, but they really are. The mistake that Dave made was that he brought the office to Tuscany. Black shoes, on holiday, out of a suit, are an absolute ‘no no’. The fact that he isn’t wearing socks is a good thing. It’s stylish. The trouble is that it’s accompanied by colours that don’t belong in this setting. Forgetting the fact that he must have been baking in those shoes, what he needed was a soft brown loafer or perhaps espadrilles that are very popular this summer.

In turn this should have been teamed up with a pair of cream chinos or linen trousers to contrast the dark shirt. Alternatively, a pair of inky blue trousers with a white cotton or linen shirt would have looked the business.

It’s a known fact that mastering “Smart casual” is a lot harder than mastering “Smart”. With “Smart” it’s like riding a bike with stabilisers. You have the safety of knowing the ingredients. (Shirt, tie, suit). Admittedly, sometimes you can get those quantities wrong, but the point is “Smart casual” requires an awareness for what works and what doesn’t, even more so.

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Savile Row


Savile Row was built between 1731 and 1735 as part of the development of the Burlington Estate and is named after Lady Dorothy Savile, wife of the 3rd Earl of Burlington. Initially, the street was occupied by military officers and their wives; William Pitt the Younger was an early resident. Irish-born playwright and MP, Richard Brinsley Sheridan lived at 14 Savile Row for a short time before his death in 1816.

During the 1800s, the gentry became concerned with neat dress, and Beau Brummell epitomised the well-dressed man. He patronised the tailors congregated on the Burlington Estate, notably around Cork Street, and by 1803 some were occupying premises on Savile Row. None of those original tailors are there today.

In 1846, Henry Poole is credited as being the ‘Founder of Savile Row’ after opening a second entrance to his late father’s tailoring premises at № 32 Savile Row; however, there were tailors on the Row long before Poole’s.

A modernisation of the Row has occurred ever since, continuing in the 1990s with the arrival of designers like Ozwald Boateng and Richard James.

The Row is a mecca for men around the world who want the very best in cloth and tailoring, and continues to attract those seeking the best in British elegance and craftsmanship.

  Savile Row 2010 during British Wool Week

The one fact to note about a Savile Row is this:  It might take you a life time to pay for one of its suits, but in return that suit will last you a life time. The suit will come with generous inlays to the body seams, allowing for any alterations needed in years to come. (Or shinkage in the rain, as some people like to look at it.)

I also have a single tip for buying a Savile Row suit:

Every house has a ‘house style’ which is unique to itself. Decide whether you want a suit that is either heavily structured (somewhat military), or soft and natural. That will help you be clear in your mind before discussing the options with tailors. There’s a great deal of choice out there so its worth being clear in our mind before everyone starts telling you why they are the best.

What do I like? Well that’s easy.

For being classic, for being soft and natural and for being cut with such great shape.

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Pocket Science

2009-09-273

Handkerchiefs

Fieldy’s top five:

  • Have two on you. One for show and one to blow.
  • They are not old fashioned.
  • They show an awareness for attention to detail.
  • Let them complement the colours you are wearing, not absolutely match and mirror.
  • Wear them!

So you’ve mastered folding your underpants? Learnt how to pack your t-shirts? Even your shirts and trousers? Congratulations!

It’s time to face your final challenge….

Origami.

(Of sorts…)

Handkerchiefs

THE HANDKERCHIEF

 

Historically, white handkerchiefs had been used in place of a white flag to indicate surrender or a flag of truce; in addition to waving away sailors from port. King Richard II who reigned from 1377 to 1399, is widely believed to have invented the cloth handkerchief, as surviving documents written by his courtiers describe his use of square pieces of cloth to wipe his nose. Certainly they were in existence by Shakespeare’s time, and a handkerchief is an important plot device in his play Othello. In the 1930’s Fred Astaire was a true ambassador.

BANDANAS


Handkerchiefs also evolved and became a practical solution to holding hair back, as a fashionable head accessory. Remember these guys?

 

and umm…

Prime Minister

Anyway…

Here’s a little fact for you:  When the company Kleenex came on the scene, they thought their success would lie in a disposable paper handkerchief to remove makeup. But we all had other ideas, and started blowing our noses into them. This changed their whole marketing strategy and DNA of the company. 

Handkerchiefs

THE POCKET SQUARE

Indeed, these days the ‘Hanky’ is often the one to be found in your trouser pocket – used to catch your coughs and sneezes, while the ‘Pocket Square’ holds more of a stylistic purpose and is far more interesting to talk about!

For many of us (you and me excluded, of course) they might be considered as something old fashioned. Something that was once a ‘staple accessory’ but now looks pretentious. Trust me when I say – it REALLY isn’t. They work so well with or without a tie, and what they DO do is show an awareness for the art of attention to detail.

THE ONE RULE

If it’s not a white pocket square, then all you need to remember is:

The pocket square needs to complement what you are wearing. It does not need to match.

I always think it is a person trying too hard that has a matching tie and pocket square. If you’re not sure then grab a bit of advice before stepping out the front door.

Handkerchiefs


THE ORIGAMI BIT

So which way should you fold your pocket square? My favourites are “The Four Mountain”, “The Flat”, and “The Puff”.

There are a host of ways to do it, but to avoid boredom for you dear reader, and RSI for me, I’m going to show you the 6 I think just about cover it:

THE ONE POINT



THE TWO POINT

THE THREE POINT

THE FOUR MOUNTAIN

THE FLAT

THE PUFF


In conclusion: wear one.

Don Draper

Follow James at: www.twitter.com/MrJamesField

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Looking after your shoes

the-polished-shoes


Fieldy’s top five:

  • Good shoes illustrate style and attention to detail.
  • When buying, think of them as an investment. It’s a false economy to buy cheap.
  • Use shoe trees to maintain their shape.
  • With a new pair, let the polish soak into the leather for 24 hours before buffing the leather.
  • Never store your shoes near a source of heat. The leather may dry and split.

Have you brushed your teeth? Have you polished your shoes? Two questions I’d often hear before heading to school.  At the time you don’t fully understand the benefit, but thanks to my parents making sure I brushed my teeth before going to school and to bed, I have teeth that have been fairly good to me. If you look after them, they last. The same with shoes.

Shoes are very important for two reasons: Comfort and style.  Sometimes comfort is sacrificed for style, and the worst stories are those of women who go to ridiculous lengths through surgery to reduce the width of their feet to fit into a pair of “beautiful shoes”. Quite extraordinary. Guys also have their own wrestle with comfort verses style, but thankfully it’s usually only temporary and without surgery! I speak of course of the agony we can go through when breaking in a new pair of leather soled shoes. I liken it to taming a wild horse. Once you’ve broken them in, they seem to understand who’s boss.

It goes without saying that shoes are incredibly important. For some, they come as a necessity and after thought. For those in the know, they show a sense of style and attention to detail.

A FEW STEPS…

Our feet have two opportunities to speak volumes about us. There is the shoe, and there is the way we look after the shoe.

  • Boots and shoes should always be kept in their trees. They not only help regain the shape of the shoe, but also help to minimise the creases you might have picked up in the leather.
  • Always use a shoe horn. Again, it will help to keep your shoes in the perfect shape.
  • Not only is polishing your shoes important for aesthetic reasons but like skin, leather needs to be fed. Polish stops leather drying out and cracking – something that you can also avoid my storing your shoes away from the radiator at home. (I’ve been there).

How to Polish:

  • Before you start, give the shoes a quick brush to remove any dust or dirt.
  • If not black, choose a polish that is a little lighter than the colour of your shoes to preserve the original shade.
  • With a new pair especially, there is no harm in applying polish and leaving it over night to really soak into the leather. In any case, there is no lasting benefit to applying polish only to brush it all off in a matter of two minutes.
  • With a cotton cloth, apply polish in a circular rubbing motion to the leather, paying particular attention to the creases. If you have any old cotton shirts that have had their day, these are perfect for this.
  • Now buff like you’ve never buffed before! If you haven’t already got one, invest in a good brush. You can pick up a reasonable one from your local cobbler for between £10 and £20. Horse hair comes recommended.
  • If you’re after a tip top shine on the toe, continue to apply a very thin layer of polish with a lint free cotton cloth, combined with a little spit. Yes, it’s spit and polish time! Again in a circular rubbing motion, within 10 minutes you might just start to make out your reflection in the leather.

Suede shoes:

  • They are very smart, but you have to be smart with the way you look after them.
  • Stain prevention is always better than cure. This is a painful truth if you are at the stage when you’re looking for a cure!
  • Prevention comes in the form of protective spray that will help protect against water damage and other such stains. Please make sure you spray and protect the moment your new suede shoes leave their box. Also, think ‘damage limitation’. Heading for a boozy night out? Be sensible. It might not be the night to be wearing them.
  • If your shoes are wet, firstly dry them with a towel or kitchen roll, then make sure you let them dry naturally. Don’t scrub them, dab them; and don’t try and speed the process up by putting them near or on a heat source.
  • If you have suede shoes you also need a suede eraser and brush. The eraser should be used to gently and repeatedly stroke the stain. The brush, which typically has brass bristles, should then be used to raise the suede fibres again.
  • A tip for removing oil stains is to rub talcum powder or maize flower directly on the spot. After several hours, brush off the powder. Repeat if necessary.

How to deal with soaking wet shoes:

  • Two things: Put balls of newspaper into your shoes and leave them to dry naturally, away from heat.

How to deal with smelly shoes:

  • Not wishing to state the obvious, but wash your feet.
  • Purchase an odour crunching inner sole. You’ll find them in Boots.
  • If you have a cat, or even if you don’t have a cat, try cat litter. If you add it to the shoes before you go to bed and empty it in the morning, it will do its best to eat up odour and moisture. Good tip.
  • If that doesn’t work, then try having your insoles replaced.
  • If that doesn’t work, contact your vicar. It’s time for an exorcism.

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What to wear: For Black Tie

Fieldy’s top five:

- Consider a very midnight blue cloth for the suit. It will appear darker than black.

- Wear a real bow tie and avoid the ready tied versions.

- Only wear a cummerbund with a single breasted jacket.

- Always wear a double cuff shirt.

- Make sure the cufflinks correspond coherently with your studs if wearing them.

CODE BLACK?

Black tie is dress code for formal evening events, although in recent years elements from its core ingredients have been snatched by the high street for various evening looks. It’s not unusual to see a play on a single breasted black barathea with thin satin lapel combined with jeans. Cool? Hmmm??

Here’s a thought. Black Tie should be black, right? A blue dinner jacket just doesn’t cut the mustard. Right? So here’s the thing:

TIP: To the naked eye a dinner jacket needs to appear black. But you will often find that a dark midnight blue will have more depth of colour than black. This makes the suit look even darker than black. Strange to think, I know, but black often has essences of grey making it seem less black! This, teamed with black facing looks fantastic. The tricks our eyes play. Extraordinary!

Dinner Jacket

WHERE DID BLACK TIE COME FROM?

Savile Row of course. The story goes that at around 1860, the then Prince of Wales had a short smoking jacket created for less formal functions as an alternative to White Tie.

In the spring of 1886, the Prince invited James Potter, a rich New Yorker, and his wife, Cora Potter, to Sandringham House, his Norfolk hunting estate. When Potter asked the Prince’s dinner dress recommendation, he sent Potter back to his tailor on Savile Row. On returning to New York in 1886, Potter’s dinner suit proved popular at the Tuxedo Park Club. It was copied by many at the club and it soon became their club informal dining uniform.

The evening dress for men now popularly known as a tuxedo takes its name from Tuxedo Park, where it was said to have been worn for the first time in the United States, by Griswald Lorillard at the annual Autumn Ball of the Tuxedo Club founded by Pierre Lorillard IV.

Legend dictates that it became known as the tuxedo when a fellow asked another at the Autumn Ball, “Why does that man’s jacket not have coattails on it?” The other answered, “He is from Tuxedo Park.” The first gentleman misinterpreted and told all of his friends that he saw a man wearing a jacket without coattails called a tuxedo, not from Tuxedo.

About two years later, it gained the name dinner jacket (DJ) in Britain. The name to which it should be referred.

WHAT DOES IT CONSIST OF TODAY?


The jacket

  • Single-breasted or double-breasted
  • Lapels can be peaked lapel, shawl collar, notched collar. Peaked looks the smartest and I’d give the notched a thumbs down for this particular scenario.
  • The facing which will make up the lapel can be satin or grosgrain.
  • The buttons should and will always be covered.
  • This jacket should come with no side vents.

The trousers

  • These will match the jacket cloth and will come with a single silk braid to match the lapel. N.B double braid is reserved for White Tie.

The waistcoat

  • Can be worn but, as with a suit, should not be combined with a double breasted jacket. Cloth overload!

The shirt

  • Should be white, and have either a Marcella or Pleated bib front. The collar can be either winged or turn down. If you are wearing White Tie then wing is a must.
  • Stud or fly front are acceptable. There is something quite smart about going for a studded front.
  • Double cuff is a must for this attire.

The bow tie

  • Don’t wear a ready tied bow tie. It just doesn’t look the same as knotting your own. Would you wear a tie that is already knotted? It might take a little effort on your part to learn how to do it, but it will look the business.

Other accessories

  • Cufflinks that correspond coherently with your studs is important. This is not the uniform to experiment with.
  • Cummerbund – if you are wearing a single breasted jacket.
  • Finish the look with an elegant splash of white pocket square sitting in the breast pocket.

Follow James at: www.twitter.com/MrJamesField

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What to wear: To a Funeral

Fieldy’s top five:

·       Be simple. Be respectful. Be smart.

·       Some funerals will request not to wear black, but for the majority it’s all about being conventional and understated.

·       Wear a dark suit. It needn’t be black but is should be dark. Navy or charcoal grey will look very smart.  Remember to keep things simple, and don’t go for a heavy city / gangster pin stripe.

·       Wear a solid white shirt. You can’t beat a crisp white shirt for any occasion and this is no exception. If you feel the need to choose an alternative then go for a plain pale blue.

·       Wear a plain black tie or one with a minimal texture.

WHY DO WE WEAR BLACK?

Black really took hold during the period when Queen Victoria’s was on the thrown. After Prince Albert died in 1861 she never wore anything else, and the fashion persisted until the late 20th century. In many ways a respectful colour, it began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when death rituals would demonstrate worth and social status. The poor could not afford to spend a lot of money on funerals, but the middle and upper classes could. They would spend money on clothing, coaches, coffins and all the accessories that an increasing number of commercial funeral directors were only too keen to sell them.

Black

Queen Victoria with the five surviving children of her daughter, Princess Alice, dressed in mourning clothing in early 1879.

These days, wearing black is all about showing your respect. The key is that you don’t want to stand out at a funeral. It’s not the place.

Follow James at: www.twitter.com/MrJamesField

www.jamesfield.com


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