Linkroll: Patrick Grant, Gifts, Uniform…

• Patrick Grant, the savant of Savile Row. (wax-wane.com)

• Ten Last Minute Mens Gift Ideas Under $50. (abitofcolor.tumblr.com)

• Clothing as uniform. (asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com)

• Sartoria Caliendo. (dieworkwear.com)

• A lot is going on at Allen Edmonds. (ivy-style.com)

• Italian Artisans Night. (theshoesnobblog.com)

• The Hill-Side’s new collection of Old Virginia Modified Herringbone accessories. (acontinuouslean.com)

• Beyond Savile Row: Cordone 1956 bespoke. (therakeonline.com)

• North Sea Clothing. (permanentstyle.co.uk)

• Dapper on the snow. (gntstyle.wordpress.com)

• Beginner’s guide to wearing a pocket square. (putthison.com)

• GQ’s Glenn O’Brien’s always amusing Q&A column. (gq.com)

• A head to toe holiday look for less than $35. Who says dressing well is expensive. (afistfulofstyle.tumblr.com)

• Drake’s pop up sale in New York. (drakes-london.tumblr.com)

Postcard from Brazil

When leaving São Paulo, I contemplated my extraordinary experience in South America’s largest city, the ‘second’ city of Brazil and the 4th largest metropolitan area in the world.

Though much feared by Westerners for the kind of wanton crime that only grinding, hunger-stricken, barefooted poverty can bring, ‘Sampa’ is known by Brazilians as the cultural city, the sophisticated brother to the sand and samba of Rio. Here are the museums, the concert halls, the Brazilian headquarters of international companies; there are luxurious shopping malls, art galleries, Pellegrino-listed restaurants. “Here” said the taxi driver, smiling into the rear view mirror “here the money is, you know.”

Above the hundreds of tower blocks and mini scrapers is one of the busiest metropolitan air spaces in the world. The world’s second largest fleet of helicopters ferry the city’s business elite from the tropical greenery on the edge of the city to the grey centre of the concrete jungle. On the ground, the streets are gridlocked with every kind of vehicle from high end Rolls Royces (that command prices of $2m) to worn out jalopies, streams of white taxis and noisy bendy buses.

“Everyone has a car in São Paulo” a Paulistan told me, nonchalantly. And they certainly need it. When I informed one of them that I had walked from the Jardins district to the old centre, they informed me that I was either brave, stupid or both. “It took me two hours” I exclaimed, seeking justification that my hotel was not as central as it should be. “There is not one centre in São Paulo” she said “there are many.”

However, walking around the city afforded me better observation of the people that make this enormous city what it is. “Paulistans care about how they look” a well-spoken waiter told me in a hushed voice “they are very proud here.” Walking down the Rua Oscar Freire, which Paulistans claim is their Rodeo Drive, the wealthy and well-dressed (some of whom are one and the same) promenade with the panache of European urbanites. However, the degree to which their style has progressed was disappointing and rather predictable. Badges are clearly the most important asset to São Paulo’s ambitious citizens and the love for sartorial bling-bling reminded me of the Costa Smeralda on its trashiest of Eurotrash days.

Like the cars that zoom down its finer streets, Paulistans attire is about conspicuous consumption. Every now and then, there is an elegant dress or a smartly casual ensemble. However, most of what I saw reminded me of the fact that this bold ‘new’ country, in the middle of a credit bubble, is still catching up.

Suits are neither appropriate for the climate nor of elegant cut. Even the monied seem to shuffle around in shiny black three-buttons, often with button-down collar shirts. In smart restaurants on warm days, I didn’t see a single casual jacket – linen or otherwise. Chaps were either excessively casual in shorts and designer polo shirts or straight from the office in unbuttoned shirts and curiously baggy suit trousers. My quest to find a tailor was a failure.

Walking around in white cotton trousers, a sky blue shirt, navy tie and stone linen jacket attracted the curiosity of the Paulistans, although their reactions were those of surprise and interest rather than the sneering cackles of Sydneysiders. This reminded me that São Paulo is evidently still a place with European pretensions. Elegance is aspired to here, even if the sticky tropical heat and thunderous rainshowers suggest otherwise.

Linkroll: The Sartorialist, Fair Isle, Frank & Oak…

• TheSartorialist is still worth a visit now and then. (thesartorialist.com)

• Fair Isle is December sweater. (putthison.com)

• Review of Frank & Oak. (thesilentist.com)

• Sock matching tips. (tsbmen.com)

• Clothes are never just clothes. (ivy-style.com)

• Rollneck is the best necktie alternative. (asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com)

• Mastering the peak lapel. (parisiangentleman.co.uk)

• The Norwegian crewneck sweater. (muffyaldrich.com)

• Flannel dressing gowns. (dieworkwear.com)

• The Armoury’s goodies at new location in Hong Kong. (bespokemanblog.com)

• GQ’s Holiday shopping guide. Some fine enough ideas. (gq.com)

• Superlative cycling clothing from Brooks. (therakeonline.com)

• The many styles of Alan Flusser. (wax-wane.com)

Linkroll: A Quality Shoe, Ivy Style Photos, Formal Footwear…

• A case for quality: 21 year old Peal & Co. shoes. (asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com)

• Men’s File ivy photo shoots. (ivy-style.com)

• Black tie on a budget pt 3: Formal footwear. (putthison.com)

• Autumn American look on a budget. (lordwhimsy.com)

• The Dude in a Ferrari. Sweater, that is. (mistermort.com)

• Two winter boot suggestions. (the-shoe-aristocat.blogspot.com)

• On publications and menswear reporting. (thegenteel.com)

• Casual, not sloppy. (anaffordablewardrobe.blogspot.com)

• J.Crew coming to London. (gq-magazine.co.uk)

• Dandyism.com on GQ on Beau Brummel(l). (dandyism.net)

• Shots from this year’s Pop Up Flea. (alexandergrant.blogspot.com)

• A man in search of style visits Venice (greyfoxblog.com)

• Everything they sell is a great gift idea for Holidays. (www.hangerproject.com – our sponsor)

Notes from a Huge Island

When I arrived in Australia last week, my first visit to this enormous country, I stumbled out into the sunshine like a desert nomad stumbling through the dunes. Wracked with intense tiredness, the mid-morning heat of a Sydney in late-spring was punishing to my winter-conditioned skin, now shocked into prodigious perspiration. Memories of visits to Greek Islands in high-summer came back to me; that blast of heat through the nostrils, the first beads of sweat on pasty skin.

Despite this familiarity, this journey was different. Unlike my jaunts to the Aegean, this was no holiday. The delights of Sydney were to be confined to a few spare hours. And unlike the short hops across Europe to one of the continent’s various, sun-baked airstrips, when the immediate memory of my origin – a cold and dark Blighty – was still possible to recall, arriving in Australia felt exactly as it should; as if I had ventured to the furthest corner of the globe.

Despite the fact I have never been before, and bearing in mind its geographical remoteness from the UK, I was surprised at how familiar everything felt. Well, almost everything.

There is a Hyde Park. There is a St James and a statue of Queen Victoria. There is an Oxford Street and a Kings Cross. There are statues of tri-cornered Yorkshiremen and a bridge designed in Middlesbrough. There is that most English of shopping emporiums, the Victorian covered arcade.

However, despite this I felt much the same way that Sting claims he feels when strolling through Manhattan. Like a legal alien.

I don’t often feel self-conscious about my clothing, at least not as much as I used to, but in Sydney I experienced more raised eyebrows, whispers-behind-the-napkins and ill-disguised curiosity than anywhere else.

By my tastes, my Sydney wardrobe was restrained. Blue and white shirts, some cotton ties, plain pocket squares and linen suits. This wasn’t a mardi-gras; it was a business trip and needed to be treated as such. However, it was still evidently of fascination to the flip-flopped, surf-haired residents of Australia’s most populous city. “Sydney” one chap told me “is definitely smarter than most places in Australia. A lot of people wear shirts and ties to work here.” The problem? “It isn’t the lifestyle that people want.” Well, that’s true of Britain. And America. And almost anywhere these days.

So what’s different? Sydney’s lifestyle is much more relaxed than that of London. Ease and comfort is important, far more so than status or personal image, which many might claim is admirable. However, sometimes it jars with the lifestyle. I went to the famous Opera House one evening where young people dressed in t-shirts and jeans, who I would never assume had any interest in classical music, were sat in the concert hall in rapt attention, clearly enthused.

On another evening, a post-concert group stopped by the lively Opera Bar wearing Hollywood black tie and sat amongst their friends; a group of people in shorts and sandals carrying skateboards. It suggested to me two things; firstly that the gentleman who claimed it isn’t the lifestyle people want might be wrong – if you can get into the Opera House wearing jeans and a t-shirt, why wear black tie? And secondly that Sydney’s relationship with formality in costume is more complicated than it first appears.

When the barman told me I was wearing a nice tie, he was ingenuous; most of my experiences of people telling me I have a ‘nice tie’, including in London, are designed to be moments of cutting sarcasm. Curiosity about relatively formal elements of costume like pocket squares, ties and spectator shoes is conspicuous in a country where most of the inhabitants spend most of their days in flip-flops, shorts and t-shirts. However, this curiosity should not be assumed as unfriendly suspicion.

Australians have a reputation, however unfair, for sartorial slovenliness and a taste for ease on all occasions; people who would sip $200 pinot noir and dine on fine food whilst lounging around in Billabong shorts. However, this is appears not to be a costume of insistence, but rather a costume of habit. Though the vast majority of the inhabitants live in greater urban areas on the coast, a lot of the stores are focused on items of practicality rather than items of decorative value. The environment and surroundings, much like the hot countries of southern Europe, dictate lifestyle and by extension, clothing.

I was most struck by how far I was from home when I walked past a store window packed with mannequins in board shorts and printed t-shirts, with a slogan stickered across the glass reading something like this; “Christmas 2012: It’s that time of year again. A time for sun, surf and seasons greetings.”