Archives for 2010

‘The Way You Wear Your Hat:’ The Tie Arch


Rumours of the necktie’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Countless predictions of men binning their strips of silk have proven to be inaccurate. When ‘smart dress’ is required, the tie is the first weapon called from the armoury.

However, I encounter more and more people who possess handfuls of ties but who profess to be inadequate in tying them properly. A recent conversation with an acquaintance about my preferred method of tying ties led to confusion over certain terms, the most baffling of which seemed to be my use of the term ‘tie arch.’

“What the bloody hell is a tie arch?” was the response. Quite simply, it’s an invented term used to describe a portion of a tie which has been affixed to the wearer so as to allow the top of the tie to ‘arch’ out from the shirt. Unlike a tie which is worn without an arch which kisses the entire shirt placket from collar to hem, the ‘arched tie’ juts out from the collar at an angle and, in order to create the arch, the tie is secured to the shirt by a pin or clip further down the shirt placket.

It is a technique most often deployed when a waistcoat is worn. Without fixing the tie to the placket, it tends to stray from its intended position and so a clip is worn, either visible or not, to ensure it remains in place. The arched tie was more commonly seen when tab-collars were in fashion; the tab would prevent the top of the tie from falling to the placket and would create an attractive ‘arched profile.’ Ralph Lauren’s Polo look books are chock full of arched ties.

With a tab or bar collar, it is possible to create a little arching without using a pin or clip to secure the tie but a normal collar requires such assistance. To create the most attractive tie arches, tie a standard four-in-hand snugly and make sure the tie is pushed up inside the collar; this will affect the position of a tie as worn with a tab or bar collar i.e. at the top, not the bottom, of the collar.


Next, take a tie-clip or pin to secure the tie to the placket and insert it at a point that creates a satisfactory arching or, if you prefer, ‘ruffling’ of the fabric. The diagram on the right illustrates how this is done.

The look is best achieved with waistcoats because without, an arched tie secured to the upper half of the shirt tends to look like a hosepipe with a kink.

Warby Parker: Sneak Peek

I got a sneak peek last week of some great new eyeglass frames from Warby Parker. Warby Parker sells vintage-inspired acetate eyeglasses online for only ninety-five dollars. I personally wear a pair of the Thompson frames in revolver black. Friends call them my Walter Cronkite glasses.

Back in July when I reviewed some Warby Parker frames on my blog, A Southern Gentleman, my chief complaint was the fit of the frames. I expected that the big, chunky-styled glasses would be proportionally larger in size than ordinary frames. I found, however, that the majority of the Warby Parker frames were too narrow for my face (and my head is not that big)!

In August when I interviewed Neil Blumenthal, one of the founders of Warby Parker, he mentioned that they were currently designing some new frames in different colors and sizes. That collection of fourteen new frames will be introduced in mid-January. Happily, this new collection of frames is bigger and bolder than the original offerings from Warby Parker.

wp-thatcherOne of my favorite wide frames from the new collection is the Thatcher (pictured). It will be available in revolver black and whiskey tortoise. According to Warby Parker, the Thatcher “is a big and bold frame with Warby Parker’s signature rectangular metal plaque.” The Thatcher is “inspired by the late great Buddy Holly” and “has a classic retro style that harkens back to the 1950s.”

In addition to offering great eyeglasses at an unbelievable price, Warby Parker also donates glasses to people in need. As part of their Buy a Pair | Give a Pair program, for every pair of glasses they sell, they give a free pair to someone in need in the United States or the developing world. Warby Parker reports that in less than a year they have donated over 20,000 glasses in over 25 countries.

I have been quite happy with my Warby Parker glasses. They are relatively cheap and making a purchase makes a difference in the life of someone less fortunate. Now this new collection will provide a wider range of styles, sizes and colors. If you need some new glasses I recommend you check out Warby Parker.

Covering Up For The Ravages Of Time


This is most definitely Black Tie season. Making my way back from the House of Commons to Victoria train station every evening it’s rare not to see chaps scurrying off to one Black Tie event or another.

While Black Tie is potentially a man’s greatest ally, the reality is that for every man I see who looks like James Bond I’ll see 20 more who look just plane shabby.

The most common fault shared amongst men is the ill fitting Dinner Jacket, or more to the point the dinner jacket that has been outgrown.

I could get pompous and sniffy about these chaps, but I have a deal of sympathy for them; particularly as I have, to my horror, just joined their ranks.  Of course trousers can be let out and dress shirts replaced. But once the jacket no longer fastens elegantly, easily or at all, any semblance of elegance is almost certainly lost –note, I say almost.

Then replace it, you may offer up. Or, just lose weight.

Brilliant! Advice as sage-like as telling alcoholics to “just lay off the booze”.

For the majority of men, myself included, the call to don the dinner jacket comes but once or twice a year at the very most. Once worn it‘s deposited back in the wardrobe until further notice. But life goes on, and as the years advance so too does a chaps girth, in most cases. You may be one of those fortunate fellows whose weight is constant, well good luck to you. But like most men I battle with my weight; it’s a ruthless war of attrition I know I have good chance of ultimately losing.

Advising a chap to pony up a substantial amount of money every three of four years on something he will typically only wear three or four times in that period isn’t really advice. And certainly not when there are greater calls upon his resources. It’s just bloody cruel really.

But all is not lost, and it amazes me how many men just don’t do the logical thing. This is where the largely ignored dress waistcoat comes in really handy. Part of the problem is that wearing a bow tie leaves a great white expanse which merely emphasises heft if the jacket doesn’t fasten. A proper low V or scoop dress waistcoat fills in that space, particularly around the paunch. You can go with either the white Marcella for a 1930s retro feel or the more commonplace black in silk/satin or grosgrain. Black is naturally slimming, which will help your cause. I wouldn’t advise wearing one of those awful gaudy, shinny, patterned numbers that suit hire companies are keen to foist on people. Aside from being decidedly inelegant of themselves, if you’re a big feller there’s always a danger you’ll look like a feature wall.

Happy Dining.

Stocking Stuffers: Part II

This is the last of these, in case you were worried there might be a part III. In the previous post I stuck to the formulaic socks, ties and handkerchiefs. These next few suggestions have a little more originality.


Albam Horn Accessories:  I’m a big fan of English independent label Albam, I like their philosophy of ‘modern crafted clothing’ and their kit never disappoints. Their horn accessories, which include keyrings, shoehorns, coin holders and night trays, are hand made in England from a variety of natural horns. With organic textures and colouring there is something wonderfully tactile about them. I have one of their keyrings and reckon they make cracking little gifts. Available online.


Vintage Cufflinks: Bit of an odd one this, but cufflinks really don’t have to be solid 18ct gold to look the part or do the job. Having a root around in your local vintage stores and markets can turn up all sorts of beauties, at very little cost. Just remember that proper cufflinks really ought to have chain links rather than the more common bolt links. It seems petty but chains really do cast a more refined vision. Hard to advise on sources but e-bay is a good starting point. For those living in London I strongly recommend Greys Antique Market near Bond Street Tube Station. And I recently discover Violet Vintage.


Velo-re, Smart Turnout and Argentine Polo Player belts: A spot of colour and interest around the midriff can enliven even the most humdrum of looks. For example, I often wear my Velo-re belt with chinos and white button-down oxford – nothing more humdrum than that. I’ve highlighted Velo-re and Smart Turnout before, but I rather fancy the Argentine Polo Player Belt this time. As its name suggests it was originally worn by Argentine polo players and that sporty edge will do you plenty of favours. Two useful sources Gaucho Belts and Estribos.

Books: Books always make good stocking fillers. Here are three easy to read texts packed full of facts.

The Little Book of Ties: I’ve written this one up as a review here before. No need to do it again I fancy. But those interested in detail will not be disappointed. Available from Amazon.

A Well Dressed Gentleman’s Pocket Guide: It takes you through the history of each item in a man’s wardrobe from suits to socks, and their varying styles. It provides  some excellent explanations on the weaves of cloth. I’ve found this an invaluable little book. Available from Amazon,

Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke:  Admittedly you’d need a bloody big stocking to stuff this book into. A sizable tome; books of this heft normally attract the prefix ‘coffee-table’. But that’s unfair. It’s a wonderfully concise history of Savile Row and the distinguished tailoring houses upon it, with plenty of human interest. However, it’s the beautifully detailed and prolific photographs that make this a book worth having in library. I picked up a copy on Amazon for £25 (nearly half price).

Happy Shopping.

The Shirt Jacket

I find it hard to dress for the weekend. For me the work week is easier. Suit and tie. Or trousers, odd jacket and a tie. But what to wear on the weekend? What to wear on those occasions when an odd jacket it too formal? What to wear when running errands or walking the dog? The temptation this time of year is a pair of jeans and a fleece pullover. In the summer it’s shorts and a t-shirt. For a long time I have striven to rise above those temptations and I think I have finally stumbled upon a solution: the shirt jacket.

A shirt jacket is, as the name implies, a cross between a shirt and an odd jacket. Because it is unlined and unconstructed, a shirt jacket provides pockets without the weight or formality of an odd jacket. Those bellows pockets are great for a man’s paraphernalia: keys, cell phone, sunglasses, lighter.

sj-noiretMy inspiration came from Will Boehlke who blogs at A Suitable Wardrobe. He has written several articles about his various shirt jackets that are made from tweed, flannel, cotton and linen. Michael Alden at The London Lounge has also written about his version of the shirt jacket that was inspired by the late French actor Philippe Noiret (pictured).

My first shirt jacket, in a brown tweed, arrived last week from Hemrajani Bros Ltd of Hong Kong. I made mention of this order in my article of October 19. It was with some trepidation that I tried on my new shirt jacket given the mixed success I have had with made-to-measure clothing; however, I could not be happier. The shirt jacket fits well and is quite comfortable. I foresee that it will be a very versatile article of casual clothing. I’m already thinking ahead to a version in flannel, and maybe a couple in linen for summer.


I wore the pictured outfit while doing some Christmas shopping over the weekend. With the brown tweed shirt jacket I wore dark blue jeans (J. Crew), a made-to-measure blue royal oxford dress shirt (Modern Tailor), navy and white polka dot day cravat (Beau Ties Ltd of Vermont) and brown suede monk-strap shoes (Alden).