Archives for March 2012

The Silent Victory


There was a silent victory at this year’s Oscars, and I’m not talking about the success of Michel Hazanavicius’ splendid ode to old Hollywood.

Scrolling through pictures of the gentlemen’s arrivals on the red carpet has been, at times, a trial; an exasperating examination of the mess that occurs when money, big-hitting fame and marketing collide. Ludicrous designer name-dropping, star names that look as comfortable in their evening attire as a lobster in a cooking pot, overlong trousers, training shoes, clip-on bow ties; everything that old Hollywood wasn’t.

One of the most popular punctuations on the descent to inelegance was the introduction of ‘Hollywood black tie’ – wearing a black necktie instead of a bow – an event that had many wondering if the ‘dicky’ had seen it’s last day. Until a few years ago, almost everyone had converted to this new red-carpet religion; only a few scattered old boys and non-conformists still sported bows.

Thankfully, this trend has been reversed. I say thankfully, for even though the black necktie has been argued, on these very pages, as being at least as correct as a black bow and certainly more correct than coloured bows, the continued blurring of the informal with the formal was not something that encouraged me. Particularly as the women continue to take it seriously and approach the ceremony as one of the few opportunities to wear formal full length gowns.

Considering your partner is crucial in dressing. Fortunately, when it comes to dressing for the evening, formality is the lady’s prerogative; thankfully, women never ask ‘Oh, are you not wearing full black-tie? I might not bother then.’ Though invitations stipulate ‘Black tie’ – and therefore focus on male attire – it is the women’s approach to this dress code that often keeps the lazier and less sartorially observant men from drifting. Women choose to look fabulous; men are often forced to.

This year, there was far more to please the eye; Tom Hanks was looking stiff and uncomfortable in white tie at a Buckingham Palace reception last year but he has clearly grown into formal dressing as his ensemble belied any discomfort he might have felt. Although there were a few who had bungled their outfits, this was a better year for Oscar elegance.

“And what was the silent victory?” you may well ask. The return of the bow tie. Even the badly dressed accessorised with one and few wore it better than 82 year old Christopher Plummer who, along with the Hazanavicius-Dujardin juggernaut, sneaked a bit of ‘old Hollywood’ back into the frame.

Links: Leathergoods, Designing 007, Dandy’s Apartment


• Leathergoods that don’t wear out. (

• Designing 007: 50 years of Bond style. (

• In a dandy’s apartment. (

• Blue spring, blue summer. (

• Unsung icons of style. (

• Naples and its tailors. (

• You know you are in London when… (

• The good, the bad, the Brooks Brothers (

• Oscars 2012: the good, the bad, and the ugly. (



Some of my acquaintances have asked me how I get into some of the conversations that I reference in my articles. The truth is, I am fortunate to have a wide array of friends and acquaintances, with whom the discussions vary greatly. With some, I talk a great deal of current affairs; with others, I might venture more into the art world and there are a few friends with whom I talk, sometimes rather seriously and almost exclusively, of sartorial matters.

One of these friends is Barima, a style and music blogger, dapper chap and all-round good egg, who delights in eBay finds, tailored adjustments, antique and retro fashion and individual style as much as, and perhaps even more than, myself. His blog Mode Parade is a delightful collection of his musings on the world of art, music and style. He has a unique aesthetic and is a favourite subject of many fashion and style photographers.

It was through Barima that I met Danielle, a talented fashion illustrator and blogger who has an insatiable curiosity for understanding other bloggers and their experiences and who loves to talk about the world of art and style, much like Barima; the perfect company for a leisurely Sunday afternoon at a street café.

It should come as no surprise to me then that these two garrulous individuals should begin to share, via live webcast, their views with a wider audience. After a successful pilot, the second ‘ModeCast’ – named after Barima’s blog – has been pencilled for Sunday 4th March. As the title suggests, much of the discussion centres around ‘mode’ (fashion, clothes, style – call it what you will). Barima and Danielle approach subjects such as fashion models’ poses, the fashion-must of the moment and the way people carry handbags with a tongue-in-cheek earnestness that is delightfully entertaining.

Viewers of the live cast, as expected, have an opportunity to send in questions, respond to the content or simply engage in banter with Barima and Danielle, who host the show in good humour, and always pay heed to the requests and interests of the viewers.

Have you always wanted to discuss why you believe light coloured ties and white shirts ‘wash people out’? Have you been frustrated with a luxury shoe manufacturer and want to get it off your chest? Have you wondered if girls are going to respond positively to a waistcoat you just purchased? Barima and Danielle, sharing a bottle of vintage Scotch, will comb through topics with conversational panache and provide knowledge, entertainment and – perhaps – inspiration.

So, what are you doing this Sunday evening? I, for one, will be tuning in.

Cream and Off-White Shirts


Last weekend I decided to pay a visit to my friend Erlend at Stephan Shirts. He’s kindly been advising me on my button down shirt project. But there was another reason for popping into 95 Moore Park Road, Fulham. That reason is pictured above, the cream/off-white shirt in the foreground.

Having rationalised and simplified my shirt collection over recent months in favour of white, blue, Bengal stripes and the odd pink I’ve managed to completely neglect this most useful colour.

Obviously, cream and off-white sits sympathetically with browns, greens and the earthier colours contained in classic tweeds. But as a shirting its usefulness goes beyond that.

Firstly, if you’re pale skinned or you have grey hair, as I do, you might want to consider cream and off-white as an alternative to plain white shirts. Whereas white shirting can often reinforce that pale paler, cream and off-white provide a little reflected colour and an element of warmth to your look. Funnily enough it also works in the opposite way. A heavy tan or five o’clock shadow can be deemphasised by use of cream and off-white shirting, whereas pure brilliant white shirts simply emphasise these traits by making the contrast of colours appear starker than they need be.

In a very similar vein cream and off-white are a nice alternative to pale blue shirts, which when combined with solid grey and navy suits can look a little cold.

For those unsure about combining colours, I would add that cream and off-white shirtings are about as versatile an option as you could wish for. It combines with navy and grey, and all the variations thereon. Indeed some blues, like petrol blue for example, can sometimes benefit from being toned down a bit. That tonal balance likewise applies to bright ties and bold patterns which become gentler on the eye. However, with regard to patterned ties, avoid combining patterns with white in them as next to cream and off-white it merely makes the shirt look grubby. You might also extend that rule to Prince of Wales check cloth where the ground is white and chalk stripes, for the same reason. Other than those two caveats, you’ll find cream and off-white worthy editions to your shirt collection.