Archives for February 2012

Links: RLPL Sportcoat, Kilim Slippers, Bastian…


• Review of Ralph Lauren Purple Label sportcoat made by Raffaele Caruso (

• Kilim slippers. (

• Bastian’s inspiration. (

• More Bastian praise. (

• UK loves the Ivy. (

• The pinky ring. (

• Michael Drake on style: English worn by the French (

• Peculiarities of buying off-the-rack shirts. (

• A perfect day for layering. (

• In search of a good cobbler. (

• A new era for Norton & Sons (

• Franz Baron shoe review. (

• 5 bag styles. (

• Practical thoughts on coherent combinations for beginners (

If You Can Buy It at an Airport It Ceases to Be Exclusive


Two ordinary button down shirts, yes? Well, not quite. Well, not for me anyways.

These are in fact the first samples for my own label. You may remember that this is a little project I’m working on. Kicking things off I’m aiming to offer the perfect button down, soft roll collared shirt. Indeed, my frustration at not being able to find one, off the peg and for a modest sum, is what finally convinced me to go down this road. I should add, I’m hoping to be able to offer it hand-cut for £50 or under.

Sadly, while the fabric is perfect as is the cut they’re not quite right with regards that elusive collar. But we’re on our way nonetheless. There will be more details in future posts.

If these things were easy then everybody would be doing it, right? However, mine will be but the latest of a slowly growing movement of micro labels. The trials and tribulations we must endure are not the only things we micro label aspirants share in common.  We all desire to redress the balance in favour of the consumer and correct something which seems to us totally unjust.

Just why I, and a few others like me, go to all this effort was rammed home to me this week when I picked up a copy of this months GQ. I only ever buy three copies a year: the spring/summer roundup, the autumn/winter roundup and the annual GQ Style edition. Looking through this months copy for the first time it struck me just how expensive everything seemed to be. It was almost as though a high price was itself a virtue and an end.

Thanks to Tom Ford I’m used to the notion of a ridiculous price for manufactured clothing. While it seems unfair to lay the blame entirely at his door there does appears to be some notion afoot that if you don’t charge inflated prices you have little right to call yourself a ‘designer label’.

It’s long been debatable whether ‘designer labels’ actually offer you anything approaching value for money anymore.  They seem mostly to use the same cheap sweatshop labour the high street chains do – to one degree or another. And when you compare what some charge in comparison to having a garment made bespoke or made-to-measure prices seem even harder to justify in my view.

So if it’s not quality, then what are we paying for? Well of course designer labels work on a notional sense of exclusivity. Indeed, they play on that sense and play it up. Normal economic theory suggests that price is a reflection of scarcity; but not so with designer labels. The proliferation and commercialisation of labels like Ralph Lauren, Hackett and Thomas Pink mean that in fact the same products are offered to millions of people all over the world. I don’t know about you, but I work to the theory if you can buy it duty free at an airport then it’s not exclusive.

And this brings me back to where we started – the micro label – micro in every sense of the word. What I love about these guys, and why I’m joining their ranks is that they genuinely offer that sense of value for money, of originality and of exclusivity. Product runs are small, but so too are the prices. What’s more there is a genuine and palpable sense of passion, the enthusiast at work.


A couple of these micro labels to catch my eye recently are Everlane and The Knottery. Both based in the US of A, product runs are strictly limited and run out quite quickly. In both cases products are made in the US and you’re charged a fair price for them. Sadly, Everlane doesn’t ship to the UK yet but the Knottery does and I recently loaded up on the Longshoreman as well as their knitted lapel flowers and cotton pocket squares.

If you like your designer labels, well good luck to you. For me they make increasingly less sense as a concept – whatever I may think of individual products.

After all, if you can buy it at an airport then it isn’t exclusive.

43 Favorite Quotes about Men’s Style

Being a lover of style as well as quotations it is only natural to have a list of favorite style quotations:

(In no particular order)

1. ”A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life.”
– Oscar Wilde

2. “Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquility that no religion can bestow.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

3. “The difference between a man of sense and a fop is that the fop values himself upon his dress; and the man of sense laughs at it, at the same time he knows he must not neglect it.”
– Lord Chesterfield

4. “One pretends to do something, or copy someone or some teacher, until it can be done confidently and easily in what becomes one’s own style”.
– Cary Grant

5. “The man who, as is often said, can get away with wearing a trench coat over his dinner jacket, or an old school tie for a belt, is the one who in fact understands best the rules of proper dress and can bend them to suit his own personality and requirements.”
– G. Bruce Boyer

6. “If people turn to look at you on the street, you are not well dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable.””
– Beau Brummel

7. “Real luxury is understanding quality, and having the time to enjoy it.”
– G. Bruce Boyer

8. “Style is the answer to everything. A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing. To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it. To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.”
– Charles Bukowski

9. “It is both delusional and stupid to think that clothes don’t really matter and we should all wear whatever we want. Most people don’t take clothing seriously enough, but whether we should or not, clothes do talk to us and we make decisions based on people’s appearances.”
– G. Bruce Boyer

10. “Style is the perfection of a point of view.”
– Richard Eberhart

11. “To attain style in dress, you must look perfectly happy and relaxed in your clothes which must appear part of you rather than a wardrobe you have just donned.”
– Hardy Amies

12. “Precision in dress is the neurotic refuge of the perpetually insecure.”
– G. Bruce Boyer

13. “Dress up your sportswear and dress down your formal wear.”
– Luciano Barbera

14. “A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.”
– George Bernard Shaw

15. “Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”
– Henry David Thoreau

16. “The style of studied nonchalance is the psychological triumph of grace over order.”
– G. Bruce Boyer

17. “Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.”
– Quentin Crisp

18. “I can go all over the world with just three outfits: a blue blazer and gray flannel pants, a gray flannel suit, and black tie.”
– Pierre Cardin

19. “Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”
– Coco Chanel

20. “Trust not the heart of that man for whom old clothes are not venerable.”
– Thomas Carlyle

21. “Clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance. “
– Arthur Ashe

22. “Any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he’s well dressed. There ain’t much credit in that.”
– Charles Dickens

23. “No woman really knows anything about men’s clothes. How could she? After all, she’s conditioned to obsolescence, to the principle that things go out of fashion. Well-dressed men know that nothing worth-while is ever outmoded, that a superb tailor’s work is ageless.”
– Finis Farr

24. “I often take a brand-new suit or hat and throw it up against the wall a few times to get that stiff, square newness out of it.”
– Fred Astaire

25. “Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
– Epictetus

26. “Style is when they’re running you out of town and you make it look like you’re leading the parade.”
– William Battie

27. “To be noticed without striving to be noticed, this is what elegance is about.”
– Luciano Barbera

28. “All dress is fancy dress, is it not, except our natural skins?”
– George Bernard Shaw

29. “He who goes against the fashion is himself its slave.”
– Logan Pearsall Smith

30. “Do the clothes suit you? Do the clothes suit the occasion? Do the clothes suit each other?”
– Richard Plourde

31. “It is totally impossible to be well-dressed in cheap shoes.”
– Hardy Amies

32. “To appear well dressed, be skinny and tall.”
– Mason Cooley

33. “There’s no such thing as a designer of menswear—it’s only history. The suit around the world is based on the english suit, which began in about 1670.”
– Hardy Amies

34. “Clothes are inevitable. They are nothing less than the furniture of the mind made visible.”
– James Laver

35. “‘Tis hell to a man of spirit to be contradicted by his tailor.”
– Richard Garnett

36. “Putting on a beautifully designed suit elevates my spirit, extols my sense of self, and helps define me as a man to whom details matter.”
– Gay Talese

37. “The boor covers himself, the rich man or the fool adorns himself, and the elegant man gets dressed.”
– Honoré de Balzac

38. “Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not.”
– Oscar Wilde

39. “A man must face the world with sprezzatura. It literally means detachment, but a better way to think of it is quiet confidence or low-key style. The most forceful statement is understatement.”
– Luciano Barbera

40. “To adapt a phrase from Le Corbusier, the suit is a machine for living in, close-fitting but comfortable armour, constantly revised and reinvented to be, literally, well suited for modern daily life.”
– Cally Blackman

41. “To achieve the nonchalance which is absolutely necessary for a man, one article at least must not match.”
– Hardy Amies

42. “Looking good isn’t self-importance; it’s self-respect.”
– Charles Hix

43. “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.”
– Hardy Amies

Links: Preppy Swede, J.Press, Packing…


• Preppiest Swede visits the preppiest American. (

• J. Press goes slim. (

• Packing tips. (

• Inspired by Mr Porter. (

• Gaziano & Girling bespoke. (

• Review of Septieme Largeur shoes. (

• Drake’s Spring/Summer jacket preview. (

• Ties made from 40-year old silks. (

The Tetbury Tailor


Call me a London snob, but I am rarely optimistic about shopping in the shires. It’s not that the shopping establishments outside the capital are poor, it’s just that I never seem to find anything. Shopping in large county towns is bad enough, but when it comes to country villages and tiny market towns, I lose any hope of seeing something worth my while. Though shopping is never the reason for my visits to these places, I feel slightly dismayed by the sight of a quiet, near-shopless village street.

You can imagine my delight then on encountering The Tetbury Tailor in the Gloucestershire village of the same name. A tiny market town near Cirencester, Tetbury is in the heart of the Cotswolds. Like many other places in this vicinity, it is a smart and well-kept place. There is, like many Cotswolds towns, a chocolate box character to it, although I mean that as a compliment and not pejoratively; after all, it’s fair to say considering property prices and the demographic of the area, ‘chocolate box’ is pretty desirable.

I stayed for a wedding held nearby, but I wanted to have a wander around to ensure I got my weekend’s worth. A Highgrove shop dominates one of the main streets (Prince Charles’ country retreat is not far from here), catering for the tourism in the area, though not distastefully. Antique shops are also here too, good ones, and there is an excellent cheesemonger (with a royal warrant), not to mention a splendid rug merchants with Indian artefacts and antiquaries from the sub-continent and elsewhere.

Plenty of the smarter stores here have photographs of HRH wandering around on a previous visit. There is a sense of quiet grandeur in this place, which is palpable when the shopowners holler friendly greetings in tweed three-piece suits; miles better dressed than their ‘sophisticated’ metropolitan counterparts. The Tetbury Tailor is no different. In a covered arcade, the Burlington of the Cotswolds, Keith Leaver – formerly of Gieves & Hawkes – runs an extremely smart shop.

Greeting with a smile and a handshake, Keith took us to the menswear side of the arcade (the other is dedicated to womenswear). As should be the case, the shop was filled with the sort of garb essential to country living – exceptionally smart country living. A rainbow of shirts, moleskin trousers, luxurious cords, glorious Bladen tweed jackets and paisley ties. There were Cheaney shoes, D.R. Harris toiletries and Corgi socks. This wasn’t an outfitter for country bumpkins; this was a store to rival most in the centre of London.

Offering ready to wear and made-to-measure suiting, you cannot quite believe you are still in the tinyness that is Tetbury as you flick through the swatches, admire the displays and chat to the affable Keith, who was keen to test his guest’s knowledge of style. “Who made your jacket?” he asked of my tweed check. “Well, it’s Ede & Ravenscroft…” I began. “It’s too short” he cut in confidently. Like all good tailors, he did acknowledge when I told him I was warned of the cut by the tailor but wanted it to be that length; “I understand. If that’s the way you wanted it.” In my experience, tailors all have opinions (and sometimes, they are very similar) but the best recognise when a customer won’t listen to their aesthetic edicts, despite the tailor’s superior experience.

Keith is not only a man with an eye for cloth, he is building a brand. Some of the merchandise is branded, tastefully, with two dolphins; the town crest of Tetbury. When I asked him about his business, his success with building custom, he seemed a man content but also showing great ambition. He knows tailoring, and he certainly lets you know how much he knows; anyone who was in the shop with me would have witnessed his keenness to impart knowledge, explain terms and offer advice. As the website states, The Tetbury Tailor “brings a taste of Savile Row and a flavour of Jermyn Street to the Cotswolds.” If there was one emporium to encourage my view of bucolic living, I think this is it.