Archives for January 2011

Style Library [Part 1]

Over the years I have collected a number of books on men’s style. Following is a list of some of my favorites (in no particular order).

Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion, Alan Flusser (2002). This 305 page tome is one of my all-time favorites. It is full of photographs and old Esquire illustrations. Flusser covers the full spectrum of men’s style. The book includes chapters on color, proportion, and pattern. Each category of men’s clothing has a chapter including ones on suits, odd jackets, trousers and waistcoats, dress shirts, neckwear, socks, shoes, accessories, formal wear and business casual.

Style & the Man, Alan Flusser (2010). This book was updated in 2010. It is essentially a small watered-down version of Dressing the Man without the great pictures and illustrations. Flusser packs a lot of information into 137 pages, but I still prefer Dressing the Man.

Eminently Suitable: The Elements of Style in Business Attire, G. Bruce Boyer (1990). In this book Boyer dispenses history and advice on dressing for business. Although this book is over 20 years old, the content is still relevant today.

The London Cut: Savile Row Besoke Tailoring, James Sherwood (2007). An investigation into the houses on Savile Row. The book includes a nice collection of images of famous men and women in their Savile Row tailored clothing.

Men’s Wardrobe, Kim Johnson Gross, Jeff Stone & Woody Hochswender (2000). This book does a great job of showing how to put together different outfits using a few core articles of clothing. For instance, one photo spread shows three different outfits built around a stone-colored cotton suit. In the first photo the suit is coupled with a blue dress shirt, bow tie, and London tan shoes, belt and briefcase. For golfing with a client, the suit pants are paired with a yellow polo shirt, golf shoes and a hat. For casual Friday, the suit jacket is paired with dark blue jeans, a white t-shirt, tennis shoes and a canvas messenger bag.

Gentleman: A Timeless Fashion, Bernhard Roetzel (1999). This big book is full of good information and lots of nice pictures. This is probably my second favorite book behind Dressing the Man.

Dressing in the Dark: Lessons in Men’s Style from the Movies, Marion Maneker (2002). This book is light on style advice, but contains a wealth of photos of film celebrities in various states of dress.

Sharp Suits, Eric Musgrave (2009). I wish this book had more classic style images, and fewer of rock stars in outlandish suits. Nevertheless, the book has enough valuable content to make it worthwhile.

The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style, Nicholas Antongiavanni (2006). Michael Anton, writing under his Italian pseudonym, offers one of the most unique books on men’s style. Anton’s book is a parody of Machiavelli’s The Prince. But instead of being a book on how to rule, The Suit is a book on how to dress.

If I have failed to list one of your favorite style books, please post in the comments. I might have to add it to my library. Next week I’ll share a list of books in my library that were not worth the money.

A Morning At Carreducker

Happy New Year to all. I thought for my first contribution of 2011 I would share an interview I conducted back in November while in London. James Ducker, half of the dynamic duo that make ups Carréducker shoes, was kind enough to meet with me in his Cockpit Yard studio in Bloomsbury to talk bespoke footwear.

James ended up making shoes almost by accident. After university, James wanted to go to South America, but his mother luckily convinced him to try Spain first. While spending some time there teaching English, he discovered that a father of a student of his worked as a shoemaker, and he enrolled in a class in Barcelona. When the course was over, James kept making shoes as a hobby. Evidently he was no slouch, and upon returning to England was received into a coveted apprenticeship at John Lobb. This is where he met Deborah Carré, and the seeds for Carréducker were sown.

In 2004 the duo launched the mutually eponymous brand, diving head first into the London bespoke shoe scene. With names like Cleverley and Lobb down the road, the pair knew they would need to do something innovative and different if they wanted to make it. The craft of shoe-making is and old and traditional one, but Deborah and James wanted to respect this storied past while injecting it with a heavier dose of design and modernism. Wild bragging, contrast piping, and crazy colored skins are just a few of the options they offer, but really the only limits are the imagination.

The key to Carréducker’s success though seems to me to be the intimacy of the process. They make less than a hundred pairs of shoes a year, and when you order a pair, you know it will be James and Deborah doing most of the work themselves. When I asked James about expanding the business, he told me “I would never want to stop making. This is what I love. I love making shoes. I can’t imagine not doing it.” This connection between artisan and consumer is one of the most distinct facets of bespoke anything. “You have to respond to it, change it, and you’re involved in it,” James told me. “Bespoke, under whatever guise it takes, is more about buying into a process than a product,” and just as any house on Savile Row, “we insist on fittings, because it’s not really a bespoke product if it doesn’t fit you perfectly.” You can be sure that when your shoes are delivered, James and Deborah are almost sad to see them go.

After his time at Lobb, James spent some time teaching shoe-making at Cordwainer’s College and the London College of Fashion, and he and Deborah got the idea to start their very own Carréducker shoe course a number of years ago. Now they hold three courses a year, two in London and one in New York, teaching about eight students per session.

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Carréducker’s latest endeavor is a partnership with Gieves & Hawkes at No.1 & 2 Savile Row. “We’re behind a glass partition in the shoe department, and you can just about see us from Vigo Street. I think we’re going to provide a bit of theatre because you can actually watch us making.” Unlike the tailors, who do most of their work in basements out of sight, you can actually walk right up to the glass pane and watch Deborah and James at work.

You can tell from the moment you meet him that James is someone passionate about what he does, and for me, this passion is one of the joys of real artisan-made goods. It’s not just about “buying into a process” as James said, but but also about buying into people. Carréducker have lots of new and exciting things coming up that I’m not allowed to tell you about quite yet, but keep an eye out. I think we’ll all be seeing a lot more of Deborah and James in 2011.

PS – Mr. Andrew Williams wrote a piece about some of Carréducker’s offerings last April, which you can still find here.

SarTravel: My Trip To Cape Town


Like many others, I find London in early January to be an exceedingly dreary place. The sparkle and jingle of the Christmas season vanishes, smart shops turn into filthy discount warehouses, the rain pours constantly and the cold wind blows relentlessly: seeing London at this time of year is like glimpsing an aging star without make-up and I prefer to look away.

I was offered the opportunity of an escape by a close friend who was travelling to South Africa for a sweltering sojourn; New Year’s in Cape Town followed by a relaxing week on a game reserve north west of Pretoria. Thrilled by the prospect of warmth in January, the spectacle of magnificent animals in their habitat and the bonhomie of a group of young travellers, I agreed instantly.

Aside from vast supplies of sun cream and Jungle Formula, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what I needed to take with me. I had heard that temperatures could reach the mid-thirties in this period (the height of summer) and so planned accordingly. After a small amount of research, I devised a travelling wardrobe:

Cape Town

Arriving on New Year’s Eve, the attire for that evening was set to be black tie. No one was ever going to convince me to wear Barathea wool, even in the fresh breeze of the Cape, when such temperatures were threatened. Instead, I opted to take a pair of black silk trousers and a seersucker jacket; both are a nod to a more casual and cooler look. The ensemble was finished off with a pair of black espadrilles.

The wardrobe for the remaining evenings in Cape Town, a place where they feel it necessary to warn against flip-flops and shorts in luxurious restaurants, was linen based and, while generally avoiding neckties, made full use of pocket square decoration. Footwear consisted of driving shoes and espadrilles.

Game reserve

After being informed not to wear garish Hawaiian-style shirts but clothing ‘appropriate for the colours of the bush’ I immediately envisioned the uniform of an early 20th century British Baedeker tourist. An inexpensive linen safari jacket was the central piece. Other items included khaki cotton shorts, white and khaki linen shirts, a Panama, sturdy boots and a cream desert scarf.