The second part of an interview with Olly Watkins, adventurer on the choppy seas of style. (First part here.)
What’s your favourite accessory right now?
It’s a toss up between the shoes I am wearing, a new pair of brown Derbys from Barker, and my purple knit-silk tie.
Probably the tie, because I am discovering combinations to wear it with all the time. It can be quite formal, as a smart colour, but also informal, in its construction. As a member of the golf club, where gentlemen have to wear ties in the bar, it is not always easy to find something you want to wear that isn’t a suit. Or a tie that’s too dressy. Most men don’t own the country attire, odd jackets and casual ties, that suit that atmosphere. I don’t own much tweed or that many separates, but this tie is one thing that bridges work and play.
What’s top of your wish list?
I’m always on the look out for the ultimate navy suit. I don’t know why but I always am. I could own hundreds of navy suits and be happy. I love its versatility with other colours, I love the way it flatters a man’s silhouette. It’s quite high-contrast with a white shirt, and I think that suits my complexion [Caucasian, black hair].
I have two navy suits already yet I carry on looking. I even ordered my last one with pinstripes just because I couldn’t bring myself to order another plain navy one. I don’t even want it pinstriped.
Your wardrobe is a mix of ready-to-wear and made-to-measure from A Suit That Fits. Do you aspire to bespoke and would you ever go back to ready-to-wear?
The main advantage of going to A Suit That Fits was that I got precisely that.
The ready-to-wear I have from Aquascutum is arguably made better with better cloth, but I’m not sure. Time will tell. The last one I bought from there isn’t wearing particularly well and it doesn’t fit, even after alterations. So no, I don’t think I’d ever buy ready-to-wear again.
Do you find the process hard though?
Absolutely. I am very much an impulse buyer, like a lot of men, and I find it hard to sit and wait for a suit to come. I need to learn to make that part of the fun. I would think that were I to go for full bespoke, the fittings would make it easier, more like little shopping trips.
Which of the ‘rules’ did you find the most useful when you discovered it?
That your shoes should be darker than your trousers. I had never really considered that before. For me it had always been about colours that look nice together. So if tan shoes look nice with dark jeans, why don’t they go with a navy suit? I learnt that it was about matching formality.
Which rule do you like breaking the most?
No brown in town. It’s the one I grew up with and the one that makes my father most angry when I meet him for lunch in the City.
What websites do you read?
Permanent Style, and perhaps A Suitable Wardrobe in the US.
What frustrates you most?
When are manufacturers going to realise that rugby players make up a big portion of their customers, and they are just shaped differently? Look at the rugby-inspired clothing out there, and then the lack of suits for men of that shape.
What brands do you aspire to?
Lodger shoes. Though I have to say that if I were to pay a lot of money for shoes I would probably take the big leap and get proper bespoke.
And anything that James Bond is wearing – Brioni, Tom Ford, Turnbull & Asser.
What words of wisdom would you have for someone just starting out on a sartorial journey?
Fit is everything.