Archives for December 2011

Links: Oversized Suit, Bow Tie Rules, Alterations…


• Rehabilitation of an oversized suit. (

• 5 rules for the bow tie. ( via

• When alterations are more expensive than the garment itself. (

• Review: Howard Yount lambswool sweaters. (

• The Lure of the Borsalino at JJ Hat Center (

• Modern British tailoring: Thom Sweeney. (

• Shoe trees importance questioned. (

The Way You Wear Your Hat: The Bow Tuck


As I was wandering along the platform at a tube station, I noted the remarkable number of men, many of advanced years, with untucked shirt tails. One of these men, a solid looking chap of about fifty years, stood squinting at the dot-matrix, posed in a pair of well-cut jeans, a cord jacket and a red candy striped shirt which was untucked. Everything else in the ensemble was neat; the jacket was a decent length and fit; the jeans slim and tidy and his shoes, polished and of a high quality. It was simply nonsensical that a man with such attire should neglect, or at least contrive to neglect, to tuck his shirt in.

When recounting the story with a friend, he agreed that shirts should be tucked in but suggested that the rule of tucking was an uncertain one as there are many things which should never be tucked in. Among these were the jumper, the waistcoat and the bow and neck tie. On the last two, I disagreed. I think that tucking a tie into a pair of trousers, whilst unusual, is not offensive and have indulged in the practice on many occasions. Tucking in a bow tie is an altogether different proposition and, although very unusual, has an impressive precedence

One of my first recollections of the practice was Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray who wore nothing but turn-down collars in the 1944 film version of Oscar Wilde’s novel. However, it wasn’t until I became a young devotee of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series that I noticed the practice was not due to a ‘special’ bow tie but simply a regulation bow which had been tucked inside the collar. Being of an experimental nature, I tried this myself on a couple of occasions. One friend I encountered was so offended by it that he untucked it and claimed it was an affectation.

I must admit that when I caught myself in the mirror, it did not look quite right; rather like a flower without its petals, or a butterfly without its wings. And yet, it still strikes me as a unique and, though certainly affected, serious way to wear an accessory that otherwise lacks seriousness. You can never appear stern in a bow tie; you can never appear silly in a bow tuck. The severity of it is perhaps why it does not appeal to many people, aside from tidy-minded dandies with immaculately ordered armoires and symmetrically arranged furniture.

It is important that to attempt one of the bow tucks, the correct type of bow and the correct size of knot is used. For the ‘bar’ effect, the straight Charvet-style bow, not the bat wing is used. For the correct size of knot, it needs to be large enough to accommodate the space between the collar as Hatfield’s does.

The alternative is to use a bat wing and have it form an arch instead of a bar, as Depp’s does in the photo, affecting a looser, less formal style.

Looking Ahead


As strange as it may seem this time of year the big labels and retailers preview their spring and summer collections.

As a blogger with a reasonably sized audience I get plenty of invites. For the most part I turn them down, BespokeMe isn’t really about labels. However, I do love my clothes and while the whims and fancies of fashion are hardly my concern, nevertheless, I can’t afford to buy all my clothes bespoke. I am dependent on the high street to an extent.

So there are one or two previews I like to go to. Of course you don’t need to be a blogger with invites to preview shows to get an idea of what is likely to come up in future seasons.

For many years now I’ve paid particular attention to those blogs that make a point of covering the twice yearly Pitti Uomo menswear trade show in Milan. Now, it’s not the clothes on the catwalk that are important. Being a trade show what you see on the street style blogs are some of the clothing world’s most influential people: buyers, designers, manufacturers and specialist retailers. Inevitably their personal style becomes the trends which in subsequent years the stores adopt. Follow them closely and you’ll get at least an 18 month heads up not just a season one.

There were two trends that came to the fore in the Pitti blogs of the last few seasons. One is the use of bold primary colours in the form of statement clothing and the second is the use of bold checks into linen suits. And this season, I’m pleased to say, these two trends will become high street staples.

For what it’s worth I reckon Gieves & Hawkes were head and shoulders above any other collection I saw for the coming seasons, and from where I got these pictures.


A rain Mac is a classic item and if your summers are like ours in England then it’s best to be prepared for rain. These bright colours add a summer twist to a wardrobe classic. A real statement piece, I’ve seen a few labels produce similar Macs for next season. Cobolt blue seems quite popular but I just loved these yellow and red versions from Gieves & Hawkes. I tend towards the double breasted yellow one at present.


In recent years retailers have got their act together and made an effort to add cotton and linen suits to their summer collections. However, any variation on navy or beige and you’re out of luck. Recent previews show retailers have gotten a little bolder and finally decided to experiment a little. As I mentioned in an article a while ago on The Weekend Suit ( ), checks make for a perfect casual suit providing the elegance of uniformity while at the same time appearing less ridged.

In the midst of winter it never hurts to have an eye for the brighter days ahead.

More than Movember


When I had shaved off my Movember moustache on the 30th of last month, I touched my naked upper lip with a sense of relief; as much as I admired the ‘real man’ aesthetic of it, the unusual discomfort it caused my upper lip made me yearn for December. Interestingly, I had received a wittily penned comment from a reader that very afternoon which provoked me to ponder the execution of the shave;

“A moustache should be for life. Not just Movember. Discuss.”

This particular reader had already provided a contribution on the topic to The New Gentleman, arguing that men who had so earnestly taken to a month of growth should “think twice before condemning the creature to the razor’s blade.” The reasoning implied was that fashion had maligned the moustache; it was clear that many men were enthusiastic about the challenge and the aesthetic of upper lip hair, so why did they not shun the female dislike and the current vogue of facial hair and simply keep it going?

There is much to recommend this point of view. Individuality and style is what these pages are (hopefully) all about; we are not preaching fashion codes here. How could we suggest the wearer of a Homburg ignore the ridiculing public and yet support fashion’s control of our grooming? And as much as there is to recommend the principle, there is much to recommend the style.

Aside from punctuating the face with a little hair artistry, the moustache also adds a tidy reminder of masculinity. Back in the 19th century, the clean shaven children of Regency England discovered that in India, the growing of facial hair, at the very least a moustache, was essential to being taken seriously in command. From there, they transported the fashion of the lone ‘tache back to Victorian London and from there, it reached the rest of the world. However, even during its high vogue, views towards the attractions of the ‘tache were divided; women’s views could be extremely positive and downright lustful or they suggested scorn and even fear.

Nowadays, isolated upper lip hair is universally disliked, which explains why ‘endurance’ charity campaigns like Movember are so successful; a similar charity based on men achieving a month of short back and sides is hardly likely to raise anything at all. However, the more I think about it the more I understand the attractions of not only the growth but the craft of moustache care. The soup-strainer, like ballrooms, pocket watches and walking canes, is the relic of an era; in my Movember guise, I was compared to Bogart gumshoes, Victorian gamesters and David Niven.

“You look” they said “less like a boy, and more like a man.”

Perhaps I should have kept it going.

A Rather Useful Yule


When someone asked me whether I was going to encourage the classic Yule purchase of small stocking fillers like mother of pearl shirt stiffeners or recommend instead something more serious and thoughtful, I realised how I had neglected the season; this is unusual, as I am anything but a humbug. I also realised how important it was to provide ideas which are not easy wins, as they are plentiful and receive recommendations far and wide, but rather ideas which require a more considerable financial outlay and thought for the needs of the recipient.

These suggestions reflect my thoughts on the sometimes neglected needs of those with advanced sartorial interests.

The Cufflink Box

When browsing the excellent collection of links on offer at Selfridges, it occurred to me that it is all very well to purchase these cuff-baubles of silver and gold, onyx, enamel and pearl but what will they do for a home? Are they to sit in their boxes, piled in a drawer? Are they to be kept inside a large container, causing unnecessary frustration when only one of the damned things can be found? Or are they, as I believe, to be given a plush, red velvet bed inside a substantial black lacquered box, kept under lock and key? If your thoughts align with mine, you may wish to consider the Ercolano Italian-made cufflink box sold by Penhaligon’s. With twelve layers of lacquer, the boxes are incredibly smart; if your cufflinks could talk, they would thank you.

The Umbrella Stand

I do not know how many homes I have been to where the wet umbrellas of the household are left lying on the floor or squashed into a cupboard. The really great shame of this is that many of these poor umbrellas are of fine manufacture and therefore deserve a decent place to rest after the exertions of protecting you from the downpour. An umbrella stand with a drip tray is the ideal place to store umbrellas for drying without soaking the floor or causing unpleasant damp smells in the canopy and the cupboard into which they are stuffed. Those of an exotic bent may wish to take a look at Linley’s umbrella stands in embossed leather with brass interiors.

The Magnified Shaving Mirror

When I once saw a friend shaving in the reflection of a glass shower door, I informed him he was simply asking for a face covered in cuts. Speaking as someone who has been forced to shave without actually being able to see my face, and the horror show that resulted from it, I know the importance of having a clear view of the process of dragging a blade across your skin. There is nothing better for this than an adjustable shaving mirror with magnification from Samuel Heath. The close-up image of your mug may be rather unsettling, but there is no superior way to achieve a closer shave in the comfort of your own home; tilt it to see under your chin, magnify it to trim your facial hair.