Archives for February 2009

Lino Ieluzzi – Al Bazar

“Style is not fashion, it’s something we have inside”

Lino Ieluzzi, owner of clothing store Al Bazar in Milan is a well dressed gentleman with a unique style. He is colourful, elegant and oozes charisma – something the actors in Hollywood can learn from. It looks like he loves life just as much as he loves clothes. Mr Ieluzzi is simply a star.

Video of Lino in his store:

Images by source:

This is guest post by Cristoffer N. from Sweden who currently blogs at about well dressed gentlemen all over the world.

Reader Question: Building a Wardrobe

Christopher, US: I am a 21-year-old who just received a senior-level job at a local corporation. However I’m trying to build a collection of business clothes, and trying to perfect my own style that will be acceptable amongst my executive peers yet still shine in personality. I’d love to see another blog about mus- haves for a young executive that hits on maybe color/textures as well as suits, and how to change up with the seasons and still remain professional

There seem to be several strands to this question: building a collection of business clothes, developing a subtle yet unique style and changing with the seasons. Hopefully I will touch on colours and textures sufficiently during the answering of these different questions.

The key to building a business wardrobe is to get to a stage where you have enough decent clothes, but only just enough, and then upgrading.

If we assume that you wear a suit every day of the week, I would recommend getting five decent quality suits (the maximum you can afford) as soon as possible. Then upgrade each suit in turn, ideally buying a new one every six months or so.

This time period is up to you. A longer interval means that you will be able to buy a more expensive suit each time, upgrading to a higher level. But it will also take you longer to work through your suits and those that remain will become tattier. Make a plan here and try to stick to it – though if bargains do present themselves snap these up and adjust your timetable accordingly.

A good wardrobe number is around 10 suits. If a suit is worn a maximum of once every fortnight it is likely to recover well and last a satisfyingly long time. Add a couple of jackets into there for variation.

Within these 10 suits, I would aim for half at least being sober business suits – mostly greys and blues, plain or pinstripes. The other half, worn perhaps on days without client-facing meetings, can be slightly more adventurous – some glen plaid, perhaps a windowpane check, some paler greys and browns.

By necessity the first suits you buy (to fill the five minimum) will be more sober suits, as you will want to have enough for a week of meetings without having to wear a suit more than once a week. It would be good to have one very good quality suit within this mix, but overall it’s not a problem – I would always say that more adventurous suits are worth having at a higher level of quality. If you’re going to wear a linen, seersucker or corduroy suit it had better fit immaculately.

Within this guide of five then 10, you can calculate your own need depending on how many days a week you do wear a suit.

I probably need to wear one three days a week, so were I to start my collection again I would buy three suits and one jacket to start me off, progressing rather slowly towards having six suits and two jackets of really excellent quality and fit (in my case, having them made bespoke in Hong Kong with the highest quality materials my tailor has – Loro Piana or Zegna).

Let’s return to our original example and assume you wear a suit every working day. A suggestion for the first five suits would be: two navy blue, one charcoal, one mid-grey and one other colour (perhaps a chocolate brown, muted green or petrol blue – never black). Of these, perhaps two could have a pinstripe of different widths.

Personally, I would also have one with a waistcoat and one double-breasted. But this is very much a personal choice and depends on what you are comfortable with and your business environment. Both the three-piece and the double-breasted should be bespoke or made-to-measure if at all possible – you will notice the difference in fit more.

The most important thing in these first suits is colour – keep them simple in largely blues and greys. Pattern is less important, just keep it subtle. They should be mostly single breasted and have two buttons or three buttons that roll to two. Every other aspect of the suit (lapel width, sleeve buttons, trouser cuffs, ticket pocket) is up to you – just keep it simple.

The variation in seasons is best accomplished with your next five suits. Although I don’t know what weather you have to deal with in your part of the US, mid-weight suits will always be fine around the office and can be covered in coats, scarfs and hats to take account of temperature outside. So your first five should all be of this weight.

When it comes to the next five, try a flannel suit. Perhaps when the colder months are coming around. Then when the summer is approaching try a lightweight wool, an unlined jacket or a linen suit. These will show you what you prefer with seasonal suits. I like winter-weight suits so would expand on this with a tweed or corduroy. Heavier patterns are also wintry – bold plaids or windowpane checks.

Lastly, a quick word on personality. Express this at the start with subtle changes in colour or texture in your shirt and tie. A conservative navy tie, but in wool for the winter. A knitted silk tie for summer, or a linen mix. Later on, experiment with the second batch of suits.

I hope this was helpful Christopher. Feel free to write in with any more specific questions. There is an awful lot one could say on this subject and I may not have covered many of the areas you wanted me to look at.

A Boot of Choice

London experienced a little snow recently. I say a little as it amounts to a mere sprinkling in comparison to the measurements some countries have to cope with each winter. “We are not used to snow” harped the local politicians, journalists and representatives. Our ill preparation was embarrassing; too little grit or salt, no emergency measures to remove ice from the pavements, and, in the interests of health and safety, the closure of most of London’s transport networks – for at least a day. The first day of snow was odd – streets empty except for a few cars, lunchtime restaurants and takeaways blissfully queue free.  Faced with about a foot of snow, and the awful brownish slush that follows a procession of human feet, I decided to wear boots with a little grip to avoid slipping, and to provide a little support should I twist my ankles on the icy slabs. The trouble with my selection was that they weren’t quite as practical as they were appealing.

Few people wear boots these days. Chelsea boots are somewhat popular, a few lace up varieties are worn by the younger generation but generally speaking, the poor old boot has had its day; the modern footwear crown belongs to the shoe. It’s a shame as there are many varieties of boot, some of which offer more than a practical function in bad weather conditions. The riding boot, rarely seen but very dramatic, offers an equestrian elegance to semi-casual ensembles. With certain items they would look rather ridiculous but, in the right setting, there is nothing to match their grandeur. They accompany khaki, cream and army green colours very well. The beauty of the burnished bridle leather wrapping the lower leg makes them an item of footwear for the very daring; stable activities aside, this sort of boot deserves to be worn.

Other stout footwear appropriate for use in inclement weather includes the lace up boot. This type of boot has altered from a practical everyday item into a street ‘trend’; Timberland and Caterpillar producing ghastly designs that epitomise cumbersome and inelegant footwear. There are alternatives, like those pictured, that offer a more subtle, retro version of a laced boot. The way they are worn here is to me, personally, a little affected and rather obvious; it would be far smarter to wear them well laced with the trousers covering the boots. However, those who have more Bohemian, contemporary tastes may consider the stuffing of the trousers into the boots rather different and eye-catching; it all depends on individual taste.

The other option is to plump for a boot that offers comfort and support but the elegance of a shoe. Chelsea boots are one of the most popular styles and, although they offer less traction than a properly practical lace up boot – as most are not produced with a ‘commando’ sole – they are usually rubber soled which is useful when traipsing through icy, slippery streets. They are of a peculiarly plain, and some claim ‘timeless’ design, and that has prompted some to tamper with the formula; examples above include Chelsea style boots with laces and buckles. Frills that perhaps possess little purpose except to excite the maximalists who prefer a little decoration on their footwear.

How to Tailor Your Sweaters

When you are not used to it, wearing a bespoke shirt is surprisingly satisfying. The two things you notice are that the collar fits without having to hang around the chest, and that the cut accentuates your waist without feeling anywhere tight.

Catch a glimpse of yourself and it seems to be both the most flattering and comfortable thing you could wear.

A sweater can easily ruin this. In order to try and cater to all body types, most are heavily elasticated at the hip and balloon around the waist. Even those that are “tailored” or “custom fit” (what useless euphemisms) rarely fit a slim man.

The exceptions are consciously fashionable shops that assume their customers are at least slim, if not downright thin. I would pick out All Saints, American Apparel and perhaps Reiss.

But there is an answer. It is not hard to tailor your own sweaters, taking them in at the side to fit more closely at the waist. I tried it for the first time this weekend, and it is as easy as altering a shirt. There is an extra stage of sewing and for a permanent change you should really use a sewing machine. But the sewing itself is easier and there is less need for precision.

The best explanation of the process is here:

My observations on trying this process are as follows. The basting stitch is worth doing, as it anchors the sweater in a similar way to ironing the fold on a shirt you are about to alter. Simply sew in and out of the line you have pinned, in long stitches, and leave both ends loose. They can then just be pulled through at the end.

The stage where the seams are basted, but the pins are out, is the best time to try the sweater on and make sure you have not taken out too much (or too little).

Try and sew the stitches as close together as you can in the final seam. As I said, ideally this should be done by machine but I sewed it by hand, overlapping to make the stitches even smaller.

My other tip is to keep the extra material created on the seams, at least for a few days. Before you snip off the excess, wear the sweater for a day or two to make sure you are happy with the adjustment. Daily wear and stretching may make you think you need a little extra room.

Also, I felt there was no need to narrow the arms so I just tapered the line into the side seam.

It is curiously satisfying to have a fitted sweater. Curious but it is so rarely experienced. Have fun.

Evening Wear: Why a Four-in-hand is Better than a Red Bow Tie

Aren’t you just sick of celebrities turning up to the Oscars in a four-in-hand tie? A black tie event demands a bow tie. A long tie may be trendier, but this is an outfit steeped in history. History and tradition demand a bow tie. Right?

Wrong. The four-in-hand was designed by Washington Tremlett, in 1892, for an American called Wright. He first wore it to the opera, and indeed it was originally designed as an unusual evening tie.

In an age where most men wore a bow tie or a shorter form of collar tie, the four-in-hand was fussier and less ordinary. Quite the opposite of how it is seen today.

It was seen as fussier because of its length. If you think about it, a long tie is less neat and more ornate than a bow tie. It is less practical and more likely to get in your way.

It was designed as evening wear and evening wear is what Harrison Ford and Leonardo DiCaprio are wearing it as in these photos. They don’t know its tradition; they’re wearing it because it seems trendy or less fussy. But they are still correct, if only by accident.

Contrast that with the men that insist on wearing a red, purple or other coloured bow tie. Perhaps with a matching cummerbund. These men are, in my limited experience (and apologies to Americans everywhere), largely from the US. And they couldn’t be less correct. It’s a black tie event. You’d think that would be a clue.

Black tie is constructed to highlight contrast of black and white: to create sharp and striking lines under the dim lights of evening. It is about shade and texture. Patent shoes, corded silk lapels and sliver shirt studs provide the highlights in texture, shiny out from the matte black elsewhere. There is no need of colour.

The only exceptions are a red boutonniere or, possibly, handkerchief. But these are eccentricities for the dandies in the room. The basic uniform is not in doubt.

Nicholas Storey puts it well: “Novelty, coloured evening ties and matching cummerbunds made an appearance with dinner jackets; this was a brief encounter with sartorial solecism exemplified by the British actor Trevor Howard in a couple of his gruff, crusty film roles. Coloured evening ties may safely be consigned to the annals of history, and tagged ‘experiment: interesting but unsuccessful’.”