Archives for 2012

Linkroll: Alexander Boyd, Pasotti, Amerano…

• Photos of Dr. Andre Churchwell in Central Park. (

• Alexander Boyd: London city tailor. (

• Pasotti: The handcrafted umbrella maker. (

• Amerano shirt review. (

• Review: Hucklebury shirts (and giveaway). (

• More commentary on Rugby Ralph Lauren. (

• Preppy 2012 holiday gift ideas. (

• On dark shirts. (

• Have a couple winter suits. (

• Round-up of chunky knitwear. (

• More talk on chunky knitwear. (

The Boardwalk Empire Suit

I recently wrote about the great utility of the mid-heavy weight brown suit, espousing its value for both town and country use. My musings on the subject provoked me to action, as they often do, and I decided to commission Cad & The Dandy to weave (or rather, sew) my dream of a Prohibition-era dandy suit into reality.

I decided to go for their machine stitched made-to-measure service. As my last Cad & The Dandy suit was a hand-stitched bespoke with a few fittings, I was slightly apprehensive but I needn’t have been. Yes, there are no basted fittings; the suit is virtually complete when you go for the first fitting, but this is what you get with made-to-measure and it isn’t being sold as anything else. The trousers, as ever, fit beautifully. As usual, I asked for double-pleats with no break, with side adjusters and brace buttons.

Another requirement was a double-breasted waistcoat. Waistcoats are, for me, a default with a tailored suit and double-breasted versions should, ideally, always be made-to-measure as the off-the-rack versions tend to be tighter at the waist than they are in the chest. For the jacket, I went for a peak lapel and two buttons. I was tempted by the more rakish, and currently fashionable, one-button but decided against it as it didn’t feel right for the ensemble. Another of my quirks is the ticket pocket on the right hand side; I never use it but love the asymmetry.

The fabric is a splendid chocolate brown wool cavalry twill from Holland & Sherry, which has a beautiful sheen in daylight and feels substantial enough to last half a lifetime. “You don’t see many brown suits” choked an acquaintance politely, when I was first shuffling about in it. Others were less kind; “Isn’t that more like a 70s suit? Something you’d wear to a cheesy disco with a gold flowery shirt?” Not in my book. This, to me, was a recreation of the earthy elegance of the Boardwalk Empire wardrobe, which is thick with unusual patterns and unfashionable colours.

I can predict the question on most people’s lips; is this as good as the bespoke hand-stitched suit? Yes and no. The half-canvas gives the chest a great shape, pinching perfectly at the waist. The thing that I miss is the wonderfully natural roll in the hand-stitched fully canvassed lapel. The point is, if you haven’t got the cash, the machine-stitched version enables you to have a star fabric for a very reasonable price. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the fully hand-stitched suit but it fits very well and is beautifully finished.

How Much ‘Tweed’ Do I Need?

The problem I have with nice things is that having one of them is never enough.

As soon as one has purchased something of fancy, and the feeling of a zero-sum victory has subsided, the search begins again. I have spent most of my young adult life believing my own nonsense; buying into self-promises, setting conservative targets. “Once I have that, then I have all my City suits…”; “…all I need is that pair of brown shoes, then my collection is complete.” It’s not that I am incapable of keeping promises. It’s just that I see no advantage in honouring them, particularly when confronted with temptations of sartorial splendour.

I have a tweed jacket bought at Ede & Ravenscroft in the sale about four years ago. Attracted to the light green colour and the sky blue overcheck, I told myself that my tweed journey was at an end; “I’ve got my tweed jacket” I said, like an addict clutching his stash “I have all the tweed I need.”

When scouring a Gieves & Hawkes sample sale a couple of years ago, I was surprised at my own disappointment that there was no tweed in my size. Why was I still pursuing blasted tweed? I didn’t live in the country. I wasn’t a regular fixture on the shooting circuit. One tweed jacket was plenty for a man who spends less than a month outside central London. However, the desire for ‘full tweed’ – the three-piece tweed suit – persisted. Seeing the cycling ‘Tweed runners’ flash past me on Piccadilly didn’t help as most of them were decked out from head to foot in the stuff, teasing my own tweedy deficiencies.

I know that I will eventually purchase a full tweed suit. The question is, how far will I go; how ‘tweed’ (read: loud, traffic-stopping, snigger-inducing) will it be?

The thing is, it can’t be one of those mundane tweeds, the sort of thing that you see in the window at Roderick Charles; plain and uninspiring. Nor do I want it to be like one of those OTT Dashing Tweeds fabrics that look more like cheap curtain fabric from a 70s motel room.

The charm of tweed is that it is not a serious fabric, but it is so easy to get it wrong. Even for those with the aesthetic ability of an elder Agnelli, some fabrics are just too clown-like to ever be worn as an entire suit.

For me, tweed is always strongest with an overcheck, and I am quite taken with multi-coloured overchecks on plain backgrounds. What is important to remember is that such a great expanse of tweed requires this balance. The tweed pictured above is, for me, the ideal combination of colour and pattern and would look acceptable in a three-piece format; interesting without being distracting, subtle without being boring.

Sources: Linkson Jack

There are a number of things I enjoy about my involvement with Mensflair. First amongst those is the fact it’s written by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. I personally claim no special knowledge in matters sartorial just an interest in sharing thoughts, ideas and the things I learn, and an enjoyment of seeing what response that generates. I learn as much from the comments as I do writing the posts.

Another thing I enjoy is the people I get to meet off the back of my writing, which just occasionally enables me to help out a budding new independent retailer, a guy just like us who is trying to turn his passion into a working business. Linkson Jack is just such a guy and I’m pleased to announce he has just launched his own retail website sporting some beautiful kit, ranging from bespoke boxes and fine Onoto fountain pens to some beautiful wool ties, grenadine ties and horn accessories.

I first encountered Linkson well over a year ago when we met to discuss his idea for a business. As someone who is also going about setting up his own micro-label we had much to discuss. In fact we had quite a bit more in common. Born in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean, he like me studied History and Politics at the University of London before working as a Parliamentary researcher at the House of Commons. Whereas I stayed in the House, he went on to found the Social Mobility Foundation, an established charity that helps to prepare bright, non-privileged students for admission to top universities and employment in the major professions and top businesses. Since our first meeting we’ve kept in regular touch.

There is something particularly satisfying about meeting people in those early stages of a dream and then seeing that dream become reality. As you know I’m walking that same path myself (more on that in my next post) and until you try it you never quite understand the monumental effort required to get things going.

My first impressions are that Linkson has done a first class job assembling a nice range of high quality and crafted menswear accessories. I know he took some time to track down less common manufacturers and craftspeople. Former Mensflair writer Simon Crompton over at Permanent Style has already written a nice review of Linkson’s bespoke boxes which is worth a read.

For my own part I’m most excited by those brands I’ve never encountered before. So while I’m taken by his wool and cashmere grey ties (something I’m told are selling like hot cakes across all retailers thanks to tit-lit phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey), it’s his range of fine fountain pens that caught my eye.

According to Linkson, Onoto pens were started in 1905 by Thomas De La Rue and Co Ltd (printers of the British £ notes and commonwealth stamps). They became one of the most famous British fountain pen brands in the world used by Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Haig, Florence Nightingale and Queen Mary. The brand lay dormant for 46 years and was brought back to life in 2004 by businessman James Boddy.

Continuing the tradition of producing high quality fountains pen in a distinctly British style, all Onoto pens are hand-made in England by qualified jewellers. That ticks just about every one of my boxes.

As a favour to me for readers of Mensflair and BespokeMe Linkson Jack has generously set up a discount coupon offering 20% on all orders over £30 (excluding bespoke boxes and fountain pens).  UK sales tax of 20% will also be deducted at checkout for shoppers outside of the EU, after adding your shipping address. Simply type in the code NOV20% or BESPOKEME at the checkout.

Aside from being a genuinely nice guy who deserves to do well, I’m confident Linksons enthusiasm for classic men’s style and unapologetic love of beautiful things will take him far. I genuinely wish him well.

Getting Mo Style

Alright. The ‘Mo’ jokes are getting a little grandaddy, but you can’t say they’re not appropriate. For most people, there’s something not quite right about moustaches. They have a touch of the winking, punning uncle about them. Girls don’t like them, they have more than a hint of a much faded past and it has been rather a long time since they were fashionable. However, there is something fascinating about them and Movember is a perfect illustration of how appealing it has become for men to experiment with that peculiar strip of facial hair between their upper lip and nose.

However, growing a moustache is about a great deal more than simply growing it. If you’re going for Movember, you should consider styling and shaping your tache to produce a memorable aesthetic that, but for the excuse of this outrageously popular charitable adventure, you might never have seen on your own face. And who knows, you might actually like the look so much you decide to keep it.

The film star

Here’s your chance to look like one of those black and white photographs of Hollywood stars from the late 1920s and 1930s. Think early-Gable, William Powell and Doug Fairbanks. For these titans of the vintage silver screen, the moustache was not a great bush or an extravagant handlebar but a subtle sliver, carefully trimmed. Its effect was that of two small paintbrushes, with the tips well sharpened, either side of the filtrum. Ideal for those who favour the inter-war look with short and slick haircuts.

The junior Kitchener

Lord Kitchener’s monster tache is practically impossible to achieve in a month of growth. However, its intriguing shape has made it one of the iconic images of Edwardian tache extravagance. To achieve the junior, which is about half the length of the full Kitchener, considerable growth is needed but particular attention should be paid to shaping the ends into the sharp tips by twisting them with wax. This is an excellent look for those who favour neo-Victorian grandeur in their dress.

The Poirot

Hercule Poirot was not a man concerned with fashion, and it shows in his heavily waxed and twisted tache and starched wing collars which were, by the zenith of his fame, absurdly out of date. To achieve this distinctive look, great attention must be paid to daily grooming and waxing. The idea is to grow a substantial barrel of hair crossing the filtrum and then to snip the excess hair at the ends to achieve the extremely fine tips. To achieve the glossy shine and to stiffen the elegant ends, apply wax by turning the hair through your waxed fingers. Ideal for dandy detectives and those who crave symmetry and tidiness on their upper lips.