I get asked more often than weekly how many of this or that a man needs in his closet and there is no simple answer. As in most things budget generally forces a trade-off between quantity and quality. I take a layered approach to that which is, get the quality to a respectable level for the peer group, get the quantity required, and then usually strive to improve the quality further over time.
That is good advice, or so I think, and complementary to another belief which is that a man should have at least one single perfect ensemble for every one of life's occasions. Occasions to me are the events that end up in photo albums, to be taken out by the family and perhaps scanned by several generations. One's wedding is an occasion. Five days a week at the office are not. And occasions deserve a special approach.
Just a few items suffice for life's occasions, and for those a man should sacrifice to obtain the best. Depending on his lifestyle, they are likely to include his dinner jacket and accessories, a very good navy blue suit, an overcoat he can wear with the dj or the suit and one perfect odd jacket.
Wear these special things only for occasions, but if the occasion suits wear them over and over again. Always look great when it matters.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
The man in the photo is the relatively recently departed Keith Floyd, a flamboyantly dressed British celebrity chef and television personality known for his wit as well as a presenting style that included frequent consumption of a variety of alcoholic beverages.
I have written before about the effectiveness of analagous color schemes (those comprised of colors that are adjacent to each other on a color wheel) and here Mr Floyd illustrates one of my favorite pairings of blue and purple silks.
Purple and blue accessories are slightly unexpected so they contribute to the air of casualness that should always be about a man's dress. The combination works well with tan as well as gray jackets, as illustrated by Mr. Floyd, and the lighter shades are equally pleasant with navy.
The fish is unnecessary.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
The first thing that should happen to any new pair of shoes is a good polishing and that is what happened to a new pair of airplane shoes the other day. Bespoke brogued slipons from W. S. Foster & Son in chocolate Freudenberg leather, these had been in the works for almost exactly one year along with a set of replacement leather dice cups for a backgammon board. And they will literally be used on airplane trips, the shoes and not the dice cups that is, though only on those flights that arrive before 6PM local time.
Sadly, before they go on many trips they will go back to the maker as they are my first slipons from that maker and about a quarter inch too long. That would be less important if they were elastic sided and had higher sides like a laced shoe but they are low cuts and fit is critical if they are to wear comfortably.
Those are the hands of Jess from A Shine and Co. in the photo, by the way. Say hello for me.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Summer silks have begun to arrive at the ASW store, and among them are two Shantung neckties in a palette of oxblood, ivory and gold.
They are accompanied by two cotton squares in summer colors, a maroon silk pocket square and two summer scarves.
Still waiting to be unboxed are striped grenadine, patterned jacquard and silk tartan three-fold neckties as well as nine new Cappelli lined sixfolds in summer colors. Look for them over the next two weeks.
I am also happy that I am making some small progress towards upgrading the photography on the site to improve consistency and make every item crystal clear, and, probably more importantly, converting shipping over to a completely flat rate system. Flat rate shipping will make costs more predictable and also make international shipping considerably more affordable thanks to careful vendor selection.
Friday, March 26, 2010
1- As in all the things, also for tie it is a matter of size: the correct one stays between 8.5 and 9.5 cms at the widest point.
2- The knot: it’s important to learn to do it without tightening too much, avoid the effect “hung.” Always untie it in the evening and hang the tie well stretched during the night.
3- Using the correct material: silk jaquard for the regimental, lighter silk model foulard for the printed cloth, pattern for the ties with an elegant tone, striped wool or Scottish patterns for winter sporting clothing.
4- A tie for every occasion: in the morning prefer a light colour and patterned tie, in the evening opt for a darker tie.
5- Don't take advice and don’t remit the choice of the tie to anybody: the only rule is to follow the instinct. Choosing the tie has to be an irrational action.
6- The instinct has to follow a certain logic, too. Absolutely avoid: too wide and showy patterns, ties with an only central pattern but also too pale and anonymous ones. Remember that the tie reveals the personality.
7- To prefer: even tint ties in definite colours, small patterns (pois, lozenges, little squares, rhombus, small cashmere prints), transversal lines of two or three colours at the most.
8- The colours: the tie must stand out against the suit and the shirt, without clashing. It must be of a colour darker than the shirt’s one and more intense than the jacket’s one. It’s often the only coloured note of a serious clothing, but pay attention not to exaggerate! Avoid the pea green, the canary yellow as the fire red and the sugared almond pink. Darker colours, but not anonymous: the bordeaux and the dark red, the blue, the green and the brown.
9- The combining with the shirt is a mine-field where only the good taste can drive you: avoid however the overlap of a tie with a thick pattern on a squared shirt or the combining “all-stripes” of a regimental tie, stripes shirt and jacket in operated material.
10- Never the coordinated tie + small pocket handkerchief: it is as useless as anachronistic affectation. Always avoid to have a too cared and affected comprehensive look and opt for an decontractée (relaxed) elegance.
Eugenio Marinella was the founder of the eponymous Neopolitan necktie maker, and the grandfather of the current proprietor.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I have written before that men who wear suits every day during the week should have six (or more) suits for each season in order to ensure proper rotation, have something to wear when one of them is at the cleaners or the tailors, and generally keep wardrobe boredom at arm's length. The basic five should be the usual solids, semi-solids and pin stripes and it is only when we get to the sixth suit that the opportunity arises to have a little fun.
Now, one way to think about a sixth suit is that it is going to be used for business trips to the suburbs, daytime events on the weekend, casual Fridays that are not really that casual and perhaps for travel. So it can have a bit of pattern, and for that I like a glen check. In gray with a bit of brown a glen check is formal enough to wear on most business occasions in the United States. It is also informal enough to be appropriate at times when a charcoal pinstripe might remind ones compatriots of a well known and rather unfortunate photograph of former U. S. President Richard Nixon walking on the beach in his polished black oxfords.
Just as the sixth suit can have a bit of pattern, so it can be cut slightly differently. Not so much that anyone but another clothes horse would notice, mind you, but different nonetheless. Take, for example, the suit in the photo, a Kent model double breasted with a low buttoning point and four buttons instead of the customary six. Of course, suits like this one are not often found on the rack, but men with six or more suits for a season need to find themselves a tailor anyway.
Finally, the glen check offers still another opportunity, and that is that, particularly in flannel, it pairs well with those brown suede shoes that might otherwise sit in the closet on perfectly appropriate occasions.
The sixth suit. Enjoy it.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
“For me, a tuxedo is a way of life. When an invitation says black tie optional, it is always safer to wear black tie. My basic rules are to have shirt cuffs extended half an inch from the jacket sleeve. Trousers should break just above the shoe. Try not to sit down because it wrinkles the pants. If you have to sit, don’t cross your legs. Pocket handkerchiefs are optional, but I always wear one, usually orange, since orange is my favorite color. Shine your Mary Janes on the underside of a couch cushion.”
1. It takes two hands to put on a hat the right way: Back brim curled up, front tugged down to a couple of inches above the right brow.
2. Never wear brown at night. Never.
3. There’s no excuse for brown shoes past sundown.... Or white shoes. Or anything gray, unless it’s deep charcoal. Or blue, unless it’s midnight blue. In fact, let’s keep it simple: after dark, men should wear black.
4. Ties should be silk. And conservative.
5. Cuff links always. But leave the fancy jewelry to Sammy.
6. When dressing formally, a vest is better than a cummerbund.
7. Don’t wear a tuxedo on Sunday.
8. Having messy closets is like putting on clean clothes over dirty underwear.
9. The shower is a great place to steam out the wrinkles in your dinner jacket.
10. Orange is the happiest color.
11. Don’t hide your scars. They make you who you are.
12. When it comes to pockets, everything should have its own place.
13. A pocket handkerchief is essential, but it needs to be perfectly folded.
14. Shine your shoes.
15. Trim. Buff. Clean.
16. Take your hand off the suit, creep.
Adapted by Sinatra from The Way You Wear Your Hat, by Bill Zehme
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
2010 is the year that cotton suits make a comeback, if only among the people I know. This despite common sense - the stuff wrinkles easily, does not last as long as wool, and wears warmer than one might expect. In fact, there is a Savile Row adage to the effect that the tailoring costs just as much but the customer gets a lot less suit for his money.
Now I exclude seersucker from this cotton suit conversation though perhaps I should not. In any case, it has a place, principally in the southern United States, and there is steady demand for it. No, I am writing about other cottons, starting with the poplin suit that is the warm weather staple in many traditional wardrobes but rarely seen on bespoke customers. It is all coming back.
You see, this cotton thing started with a guy I know who is active on Style Forum. He began wearing it in our Bay area spring and fall, when the weather is warm but not overly so. It gave him a properly dégagé air, and, since I have a seersucker suit that needs replacing, I thought I would try a different style of cotton for myself. At any rate that is how we got to the brown suit in the photo, made of an 8 ounce/240 gram cashmere and cotton that is as light as any cloth in my wardrobe.
The suit came out pretty well, by the way. The left sleeve needs to be rotated a little, but Patrick Chu and his team at W. W. Chan did a nice job and the suit should be ready by May.
As I was leaving the hotel after my fitting I saw another acquaintance who was waiting for his appointment. After the usual pleasantries he mentioned that he was going to try a cotton suit. It is in the air.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I like plaid neckties made of silk to wear when it is warm. That is because we wear patterned tailored clothing to a greater extent in the fall than we do in spring, when the solid tan gabardines and light gray fresco suits are out of storage. Those latter ensembles benefit from some additional complexity in the accompanying accessories, and, on appropriate occasions (like the Bermudan tobacco break in the Esquire illustration), a colorful plaid necktie can supply it.
For maximum effect it is better that the tie be made of silk or silk and cotton rather than entirely cotton. Just as color is better suited to sunshine, the sheen of silk in a necktie is, in my opinion, more important than it is under the gray skies of winter.
Madras, tartan, or some other style all suit the bill. Wear plaid neckties in summer.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
It was another Spring-like day even though winter had not officially ended, and Spring is perhaps the best time of year to experiment with color. Discreetly, one hopes.
Here is an orange on gray linen and silk necktie paired with a navy mohair and wool suit, a light blue royal oxford shirt and a white linen and cotton handkerchief with a green border.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
The first signs of Spring have appeared at A Suitable Wardrobe's Online Haberdashery, with six new tattersall patterned handkerchiefs in spring colors from France's Simonnot-Godard, perhaps the best weaver of its kind remaining in the world.
Each is 16 1/2 inches (42cm) on a side so their hand rolled edges won't slip out of sight in a jacket's breast pocket.
Check them out here.
Posted by Will at 7:00 AM
Friday, March 19, 2010
Anyone who has not seen the 1981 Granada Television version of Brideshead Revisited recently may wish to revisit the series, if only to look at the clothing. Costume designer Jane Robinson's work is both subtle and true to the period.
For example, both Charles Ryder, the upper middle class narrator, and Sebastian Flyte, his aristocratic friend, wear tailored clothing. But Flyte obviously has a better tailor than Ryder, whose suits and jackets are consistently more awkward.
I am particularly fond of the second episode, covering the pair's summer visit to Venice in the 1920s. It has a palette of the tans and creams of the season, complemented by the largest assortment of silk neck wraps, which predated day cravates or ascots, ever seen on television (Take a 36" silk square and fold it into a triangle. Wrap it twice around the neck and tie a square knot in front of the throat. Bring the triangle over the knot and adjust to suit).
The awareness of clothing in the series extends to the script. In the first episode, Ryder comes to Oxford for the first time and is given a word of advice by his older cousin. And that is to wear country clothes but eschew odd jackets and flannels in favor of suits.
Eminently suitable for those in need of a clothing fix.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The United States is unique among the Western countries of my acquaintance in that people are sometimes married in the evening rather than the daytime, and that permits an "only in America" style of semi-formal dress for the wedding party which is the substance of today's essay.
Evening black tie does not offer a plethora of options but some are less than ideal for weddings, in my opinion. And if we ignore the completely outrageous, including most of what was worn at this year's Academy Awards, two of the three most common modes of evening clothing are fine for the guests but a little too casual for a wedding party. The top illustration, from the archives of Esquire magazine, shows both of them - the double breasted coat and the descended-from-the-smoking-jacket shawl collar on a single breasted. The groom in particular should be dressed more formally.
The second Esquire illustration shows perhaps the ideal form: the vested, black peak lapelled midnight blue dinner jacket worn with a turndown collar and French cuffed pleated shirt, black bow tie, and undecorated black patent leather oxford shoes.
The classic black tie vest may be the least familiar of these elements to most men. It predates the cummerbund, which was originally only for warm weather wear. It is shawl collared and low buttoning to show more shirt than day wear's familiar six button vest, with but three buttons of its own.
The black tie trouser is worn with braces. It has double pleats, a stripe down the leg that usually matches the jacket's lapels, and is never cuffed.
Now most of these elements may be found ready to wear with diligent searching (the vest is likely to be the most difficult) but generally only in black wool. The more elegant and "blacker than black" midnight blue will probably be found only bespoke but both H. Lesser and Smith's Woolens make appropriate cloth for tailoring. And if the schedule permits, a cost-effective house like the men from Hong Kong will generally be able to deliver exactly what is required for less than the cost of the best ready to wear stuff.
This attention to detail is important, in my opinion. After all, one is hopefully only married one time and the photos last a lifetime or even longer.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I have written before that in my opinion pink combines best with gray suits (this despite the British predilection for wearing that color with navy).
Pink in turn combines well with lilac, particularly a subtle shade that is almost, but not quite, indistinguishable from gray. And when jacket, shirt, necktie and square each have white in the pattern, the elements blend together.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The film "Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps" was originally supposed to be released in April but has now been moved back to October. And that undoubtedly means that the return of the double breasted vest, worn by Michael Douglas with his single breasted suits, will also be delayed.
Douglas' clothing in the original "Wall Street" created ready to wear demand for suits with braced trousers as well as shirts with white collars and cuffs. It seems only logical that suit manufacturers will be eyeing his new wardobe for style ideas and those vests are by far the obvious choice.
The problem of course is that if a vest is the trickest element in a suit to fit, a double breasted vest has that challenge in spades. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I was was a Brooks Brother customer for decades and that firm trained me to be fairly casual when ordering clothes. They had their own way of doing things and one need only choose a cloth, specify single or double breasted and wait until the garment was complete.
That casualness ended on Savile Row. My first tailor there was another of those institutions that had own their way of doing things, accompanied by an unfortunate tendency to make single breasted suits when they had been asked for double. And the reverse. Needless to say, their casual approach brought my casual approach to a quick end.
And though considerable time has passed the need for specificity is still with us. Take covert coats, for example. Coverts have been around for a century or more and most men would assume that that their design is standardized. Just specify the collar and be done with it would seem reasonable, but that is so untrue. For example, the rows of stitching along the hem and sleeve ends that were designed to keep the coat from fraying when riding through brush. Order a covert expecting authenticity and one is likely to find that the stitching has become purely decorative, and invisible from a few feet away.
Coverts are also known for their interior game pocket, a space inside the left side lining that is perfect for storing a scarf (who among us has not lost scarves that were stuffed into a sleeve at a coat check?). But leave the pocket unsaid and it is likely to be left unmade. There may be more, but two complaints should suffice.
Now one cannot blame one's tailor for a failure to read the customer's mind. And the cost of imperfect communication is only the couple of months that it takes to return a garment to the shop for changes. But that delay does mean that an item is likely to be delivered at the end of its intended season, relegating it to storage for half a year before it can be enjoyed.
And that is a very good reason to always be specific.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
It is travelling tailor season again and Peter Harvey and Graham Lawless of Davies & Son were in San Francisco last week. They arrived with a work in progress - a city suit in a 15 ounce worsted from Smith's Whole Fleece bunch. The cloth has substance between the fingers but it feels significantly lighter on the body than either a flannel or a tweed of the same weight, and should be wearable much of the year.
It is always good to see friends but our visit demonstrated once again the benefit of a forward fitting for bespoke clothing. This piece is the sixth or seventh item Peter has made for me and the pattern is close to perfected by now. Nonetheless, his well cut left sleeve has been attached incorrectly and needs to be rotated. The creases at the back of the shoulder and at the back will go away once it has been removed and re-attached. It needs to be shortened as well.
When a tailor simply sews a suit and sends it on, as the otherwise very competent Hong Kong boys do unless instructed otherwise, problems like this must be noticed by the often inexperienced customer, who must then wait until the tailor's next visit before returning his suit to Hong Kong. What is on the surface a faster process - as little as three months - ends up taking at least as long as the Savile Row firms require, and is considerably more stressful. Assuming of course that the customer has noticed the ripples behind his shoulder in the first place.
Always have a fitting.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Spring is in the air, and with it come lighter colors like the ones worn by the gentlemen in Esquire's illustration of visitors to the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Lighter colors and other accoutrements of Spring will be arriving at the ASW Online Haberdashery beginning next week. The United States Customs Service is hopefully busy clearing shipments of neckties, pocket squares and handkerchiefs, to be followed over the coming weeks by scarves, what may be the world's finest linen caps and a surprise or two.
Look for new items beginning next week and continuing throughout the remainder of March and April, or as near as we can manage it.
Friday, March 12, 2010
In the late 19th century, men's trousers were worn at the natural waist, unpleated and uncuffed. Cuffs, or in England turnups, originated on a certain Prince's country clothes at the beginning of the twentieth to keep his trouser bottoms out of the mud. Their popularity was assured by the natural inclination of the English aristocrat to emulate the smallest details of the royal family's clothing (another being the now unused bottom button on men's waistcoats).
Somewhat later, around the 1920s, an enterprising Savile Row tailor first conceived trouser pleats. Pleats, which are relevant to cuffs only for a rule that will be promulgated later in this essay, give trousers better shape as they fall over the hip bones and are principally associated with high waisted trousers that will be worn with braces (in America, suspenders). They quickly spread to essentially all Savile Row trousers, becoming the lounge suit environment in which cuffs did or, less often, did not exist.
Of course, since the Second World War the majority of men in North America as well as much of Italy wear belted trousers sitting on their hips and that makes pleats technically unnecessary. Cloth shortages during that same war caused the U.S. government to ban pleats as well as trouser cuffs, returning American trousers to a nineteenth century state where, assisted by the trouser manufacturers who are always ready to save a bit of cloth here and there, they have remained ever since.
Now that bit of background is relevent only for the way that I think about trouser cuffs, which is that they are worn with pleated trousers except that they are never seen on semi-formal and formal versions. Remember that cuffs began on country clothes and though they became accepted for lounge suits they have never progressed further up the formality tree. For some reason they are always associated with double breasted jackets but are optional with single breasteds (this may be a holdover from their failure to become accepted with formal wear).
Personally, I think flat fronted American style trousers should always be worn uncuffed, but if one is going to wear flat fronted trousers on the hips to begin with the addition of cuffs surely does not make the situation worse.
Out of the mud, cuffs do perform some useful work in that their weight helps maintain a straight fall of the trousers (uncuffed trousers benefit from a bit of heavy tape sewn inside the trouser bottoms but this is less effective than a cuff). Aside from that they exist principally for aesthetic reasons, which is to say that properly sized cuffs look better.
Visually, cuffs should be relatively proportionate to the length of the leg wearing them. The cuff for a man of average height should usually be one and three-quarter inches high and may be as large as two inches. Tall men benefit from a full two inches, and shorter men look better with a cuff of one and a quarter to one and a half inches. My own cuffs run run 1 3/4" to 1 7/8," depending on the tailor and general randomness.
In summary, each of the three schools of thought about cuffs has some basis in history however transient that basis may be. My own religion is high waisted trousers with pleats and cuffs. Except that my formal and semi-formal wear is cuffless. And that is probably enough about that.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I had been looking for some cloth for a light weight odd jacket and settled on a swatch of black and white seersucker that looked as though it would make up well for summer evenings in the city. Then this photo of it came along.
It may only be that slanted pockets on city clothes are not to my taste and a slouchier look suits me better. It may be that for me the coat should be paired with dark gray trousers rather than black. But on second thought that swatch is crossed off the list.
So it is back to the drawing board.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Oh they look fine worn with an odd jacket, as worn by the late Richard Merkin in the photo, but I cannot bring myself to appreciate sunglasses with a suit. Call me eccentric, and plenty of people have, but to me the combination is just a little too close to Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.
Now there are problems with hats, principally where to put them when they are not on the head but also extending to aesthetic concerns like hat hair. Indeed, I am quick to leave my hat at home when the sun is behind a cloud, but when it is shining I like to shade my eyes with a hat.
I am reminded of this today because the sun is out for the first time in what must be a week, and I will be driving with the top open. To my mind, an open car is the ideal place for hat wearing. One's hair is going to be rumpled anyway and the hat can be left on the seat when the journey is over (although care must be taken not to sit on it when one returns to the car after dark). Today seems like a good day for the black homburg.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Neapolitan trousermaker Salvatore Ambrosi is visiting San Francisco for the first time (he will be in New York later in the week) and half a dozen men took him to dinner. Business was conducted first.
They fit perfectly of course but the Ambrosi trouser looks like other trousers from the exterior. Only when one looks inside does the workmanship become apparent.
The differences begin with the color coordinated waistband. And instead of the typical two button waist fastening, Ambrosi trousers have four (in addition to the button fly), so the front of the trouser maintains its shape better during wear.
The trouser cuffs also have buttons, on the inside, so they can be opened and brushed clean of accumulated dust.
$700 a pair, including standard cloth, for hand sewn trousers (the linen trousers in the photos were about $100 more). Potential clients should contact Ambrosi on Facebook, or, with somewhat less reliability, at email@example.com.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Of the ways to fill an open shirt collar, I like the neckerchief, like the one worn by the late French actor Philippe Noiret, best. But just try to find one - Jermyn Street's New & Lingwood is the only place I know of that stocks them and the last time I checked they had them hidden in a drawer.
To my mind, neckerchiefs deserve more popularity than they receive. Whether worn discreetly, with the ends left inside the shirt, or flamboyantly exposed for all to see neckerchiefs have fewer negative connotations than ascots and are considerably less expensive than silk squares like the one worn by Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief. That is because the 24"/61cm square neckerchief requires less silk.
Wearing a neckerchief is simple. The square is folded into a triangle and rolled up, and the ends are knotted in front of the neck. Try it, if you can find one.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Today's illustration is an old favorite, and a timely one for early spring. Change the plus fours for trousers and both men would be well dressed for country activities eighty years after Robert Goodman drew it.
Of particular interest to me is the use of color. Each man wears at least one element that is seemingly uncoordinated with the rest of his ensemble. On the left, a scarf with a red ground is combined with a green tweed jacket and gray flannels. On the right a gray sleeveless cardigan sits beneath a brown and orange checked cheviot suit.
It is this well-planned use of seemingly unrelated elements that adds the proper carelessness to a look. A free and easy approach gives the impression that we were not trying too hard no matter how long it took to choose the day's clothes.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I do not understand mid-thigh city coats like the one Tommy Hilfiger sent on to the runway at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York recently. Oh, a heavy tweed coat of that length has some utility on the weekend but in the city I would think that men wearing those lightweight suits that the designers are offering would prefer to wear something more than long underwear to stay warm. And of course, the lack of length means wet calves in the rain.
Cover your thighs.
Friday, March 5, 2010
It was windy and cool enough for a topcoat the other day and out came the covert coat. As usual the chest looked a little bare so a silk square went into the breast pocket (a red carnation would have done the trick but none were handy).
Pocket squares in outercoat pockets are mildly controversial of course. Even HRH the Prince of Wales, diligent pocket square in suit jacket person that he is, leaves his outercoat breast pockets empty. On the other hand, he often has a flower or ribbon in his left lapel, and that serves the same purpose of adding some visual interest to the upper chest area.
Now there is still a school of thought that says that a man should never wear a handkerchief in the breast pocket of a city suit, let alone an outercoat, reserving them for the country (I believe this is a holdover from the frock coat era when city jackets had no breast pockets). Other men argue that where there is a breast pocket, there should always be a handkerchief.
Men who find controversy a thing to be avoided can obtain a ready supply of red carnations and ignore the handkerchief question of course, thereby securing all the style without any of the controversy. But given the effort associated with a greenhouse in winter, I will stick with silk.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Someone rather famously called them suitable only for theater impresarios but the Astrakhan overcoat collar was worn by Winston Churchill and the Duke of Windsor.
Astrakhan collars are generally found on double breasted Ulster style overcoats when they are seen at all. The Ulster is a predecessor to the polo coat and has many of the same features including sleeve cuffs. Like the polo, versions intended for city wear have flapped pockets and are beltless.
For me the Astrakhan question arises in the context of whether the Ulster style coat that is to be made from the cloth in the photo should have a fur collar. On balance I think not, but I am tempted and I need to make up my mind before Peter Harvey's visit next week.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The City had rain early in the morning the other day, turning to sprinkles by 10AM, and that is to my mind the perfect weather for a hat. Felt hats should not get soaked, but they do a fine job of keeping the head dry otherwise. Combine them with a winter weight suit and a scarf to cover the chest and a coat becomes unnecessary in 50-60 degree weather (10-15 degrees Celsius).
My favorite hat in brown beaver felt tops a gray flannel suit, blue silk scarf, navy and white mini-checked shirt, white linen pocket square and black semi-brogues. There is a dark purple cashmere necktie hiding beneath the scarf.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I must admit that I am a rather indolent fellow on the weekends, at least when it comes to getting dressed. I regularly spend mornings in my study dressed in my pajamas, which would be fine except that I somehow misplaced my one and only dressing gown after I put it aside to be altered at the end of the winter before this one. And the room is cold, particularly with the windows open to let out the cigar smoke, itself a necessary state that keeps me out of divorce court.
So, notwithstanding my declaration of two years ago that the dressing gown is dead, that chill has led me to think again about robes and their uses, which include a bit of extra modesty for those times when a man stumbles out into the kitchen to make coffee and discovers that his houseguests have been awake for an hour.
Now robes come in three basic types: cotton, which has modesty without warmth and is likely to wrinkle when you look at it; silk, which would be ideal if any of the cloth merchants of my acquaintance offered the paisley stuff that would let one delude himself into thinking he looked like a contemporary version of Noel Coward; and wool, or preferably cashmere, like the Derek Rose made-to-order-only robe in the photo. Unfortunately, there is a considerable price £1,999.99 ($3,000 now that the pound has dropped a little) attached to the Derek Rose version.
Fortunately, robes are the province of the shirtmaker and mine has his workshop in Hong Kong, which offers the potential for some considerable savings. And, sure enough, when asked for a general cost for a cashmere robe Joe Hemrajani of MyTailor quoted $1,800 (£1,200) and sent several cashmere books along to illustrate the fabric choices. The remaining dilemma is whether to choose ten ounce/300 gram cloth or the considerably heavier 15 ounce/450 gram stuff (camel colored of course), and that is much less stressful than the question of how to squeeze Derek Rose level prices out of a clothing budget that is already completely committed into 2012 or thereabouts.
This may signal the rebirth of the dressing gown in at least one household.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Hidden away on the official Creed fragrances site (that rarely shows up on a Google or any other kind of search for some reason-thanks to reader Sam for pointing it out) is the full line of Creed fragrances for men. Creed's scents are true perfumes rather than colognes and last the entire day on the skin. They are the only brand I have found with that kind of longevity other than the somewhat eccentric Ormonde Man.
Anyway, there on the Creed site for the first time in a decade can be found a few reasonably sized bottles of the original Vintage Tabarome, now called Private Collection Tabarome for no obvious reason. Reasonably sized is important as since 1999 the scent has been available only in 8.4 ounce flacons and that is more than a man would reasonably use over the course of a long and productive life.
Vintage Tabarome was reformulated in 1999 into a different scent named Tabarome Millesime that smells of ginger and tobacco over sandalwood and vetiver. I wear it from time to time in cool weather but the new has deservedly been received somewhat less enthusiastically by fragrance professionals than the original.
First made for an English king in 1875, Vintage/Private Collection Tabarome on the other hand receives a five star rating from most of its reviewers. The scent is powerful and masculine, with bergamot and citrus on a sandalwood and ambergris base. Unfortunately, according to the company, Private Collection Tabarome will no longer be produced as the ingredients have become too difficult to source.
And so, 1.7 ounces of the remaining stock is $405.00 in an OK-to-carry-on configuration. And small samples are available for about $12 from The Perfumed Court. Of course, in the week or two that it takes for a sample to arrive useable sizes of the stuff may be sold out.