A typical ensemble at Trunk Clothiers

Dear Simon,

My name is David and I have been a fan of your work for quite a while now. As an undergraduate business student at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), I have gradually realised a passion for good style and writing – it should be no surprise that I am a dedicated reader!

I wanted to introduce myself because in less than a month, I will be in London to spend a summer studying at the London School of Economics. Originally from Los Angeles, I have never had the privilege of relatives or friends to visit in London. Surprisingly, I grew up influenced by a lot of the culture in the UK – nearly all the music and literature I enjoy come from your side of the pond. I was really hoping you could provide some advice when it comes to prioritizing my shopping. I realise this will probably be one of the only chances that I will have to spend a prolonged period in Europe and want to visit all the places that will have pieces I may not be able to get anywhere else. I am always willing to spend on quality pieces but I am still limited to some extent by a student budget (albeit backed by full-time work in industry).

For example, would you prioritize getting bespoke shirts or go with MTM? Would Crockett and Jones be a good place to pick up shoes?
I think my budget will be around $1,000 for a suit and maybe another $1,000 for everything else.

Thanks in advance and I really do appreciate any tips you may have for me so I can build a wardrobe, one with permanent style! J

David


Hi David,

There are very few things available in London that you can’t get in the US, or order to be shipped over, but I think your priority should be experiencing as many of the English brands you like as possible, and perhaps have some tailoring done.

For example, I would certainly recommend Crockett & Jones shoes – my favourite is Edward Green, but I think that might eat up nearly all of your budget for ‘everything else’. So go visit the new C&J store on Jermyn Street, try on the various models of shoes and the sizes, until you get an idea of what you like. Then go to other stores of comparable brands – Cheaney, Tricker’s, Grenson.

By the time you leave, you want to feel that you know all the Northampton producers better than you ever could from the US, and perhaps walk away with a single pair from one of them, knowing you can order your second or third pairs in years to come given your experience of the models and sizes.

The next thing is to have a suit made, as this takes so much longer from the US. As always, I would recommend Graham Browne, as the best value bespoke tailor I know. A suit may be just over your $1000, but will be worth it, and you should be able to get two fittings in, with the final suit being sent to you in the US.

Beyond that, visit every storied London menswear store – Jobb Lobb on St James’s, Cleverley in the Royal Arcade, Turnbull & Asser, Lock’s, the whole of the Burlington Arcade, and any Savile Row tailor you feel you can go into and chat to. Other favourites of mine I would recommend are Trunk Clothiers (good for European brands you won’t get in the US), Albam (great British, casualwear brand), Drake’s and Liberty’s (it’s just beautiful, particularly if you like Art Nouveau).

I hope that is in some way helpful. Most of all, enjoy!

Simon 
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William

So what are the characteristics of a Graham Browne suit?

Sir Fopling Flutter

Good advice. If you have some time on your hands, you could also take the train to Northampton to look for shoes. There are several factory outlet shops where you might be able to find some good bargains. You’ll need to do a bit of research first – these are literally shops attached to the factories and they may only be open for a couple of days a week.

Anonymous

Simon – as always, you’re simply a terrific ambassador for all things UK and London and this is no exception. I moved here 12 years ago and have been a C&J and EG fan (much to annoyance of my wife!). The only one I would add to list is Drakes as every suit needs a new tie. I buy all my friends from USA (where I did my Masters) a Drakes tie and they have all become life long customers.
Love your site.
David

Sir Fopling Flutter

Drakes ties are actually made in central London (in a workshop in Clerkenwell), so it would make a great souvenir of your time here.

Sir Fopling Flutter

That’s too bad. Their Christmas sales at the factory were great. It was always nice to have a chat with Michael there also.

William

Oh yes I see. Thank you Simon

William

Oh yes I see. I also see that I missed the NY visit. Great. Ive also been meaning to ask you about SuitSupply. We have a NY location that a popular magazine just named ‘Best Mens Suits’. Is this embarrassing or is SuitSupply ok? Thank you Simon.

the idler of march

I’d agree with these recommendations. I no longer live in the UK but when I come back, the area I tend to make sure I hit is the one around Jerymn street – you can obviously get your shoe needs met around there and there are also lots of fairly traditional shops selling various interesting items. It gets better the further you get away from the picadilly circus end.

I’d also get some shirts made – if you can get the fit sorted whilst you are in London then you can continue to use them since ordering shirts from abroad is a lot easier than ordering suits. Alexander Boyd at Artillery Lane (near Liverpool street station and about 15 minutes walk from Graham Browne) is very good in my opinion – they are a bit pricey at about 175 pounds per shirt, but they nailed the fit with the very first shirt, and the construction quality is high and the range of construction options very broad.

Christopher

An authentic shopping experience can be had in James Smith and Sons. It’s a wonderful umbrella shop that hasn’t changed for years. You may not actually buy anything (although their umbrellas are top notch) but it is a lovely place and very interesting. You’ll find the details on Google!

Anonymous

I would recommend Choppin & Lodge too as a bespoke tailor; Richard has an excellent eye for detail and is extremely helpful. Thanks for your earlier article which persuaded me to give Choppin & Lodge a try!

Mack the Knife

As usual, great advice. I would highly recommend Crockett & Jones. Since they opened in Birmingham, I made the switch from Churchs and have never looked back! Even better when I found that they make shoes for Cleverley, Fosters, Richard James and Paul Smith. With David’s buget I think he could stretch to C&J’s Handgrade Collection, which I am led to believe is the same grade of leather used by Edward Green.

Omar

Hi Simon

As always, very interesting post. I was in C&J yesterday and the salesman mentioned that for their handgrade collection, they use the same Fraudenberg leather as Edward Green and John Lobb. You mentioned though that EG is your favorite, what would you say is the difference in quality/ material/ construction details etc. between C&J handgrade and EG?

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
As to shoes, do you remember your post on Ducker & Son? Well before reading that post, Hackett mentionned the same shoemaker to me. By sheer happenstance, I have got the opportunity to grab two pairs of their RTW range. They are very well crafted indeed! Now, I fully understand why the French have always benn flocking to London to go round for sales!…
John

Omar

As far as shoes go, you may also try Cheaney’s Imperial Collection. Though i can’t say how the quality of leather compares with the top end makes like EG, but in terms of quality of construction, they are by far the best i have seen amongst the RTW lines. They have tacked heels and proper, pronounced fiddle-back waists, likes of which which EG/ Lobb don’t do and at around £400, seems a very good deal.

Simon, if you have a chance to take a look at these at one of Cheaney’s shops in the City, your informed opinion would be very valuable.

Sasha

Simon – hello. Off-topic, but looking for some advice. I live and work in a tropical climate, wear shirt and tie to the office, no jacket because of the heat. Recently damaged my knee and have to wear a knee brace to work for two months, too big to wear under trousers. Are shorts the only option and if so, any recommendations on style etc. What shoes do I wear? Long/no socks? Still ok to wear a tie? Please help..causing as much distress as the knee! Thank you.

Judy

Hello, Simon,

I just discovered your marvelous website while researching a pair of vintage Chelsea boots. The boots say “Made in England” and definitely have the quality of bespoke boots. The logo is so faded that I have not been able to match it to any existing Made in England logos. The boots look exactly like John Lobb Chelsea boots, but the logo on them is a coat of arms with the name in the middle which appears to be Worth…ough. Do you have any ideas? Thank you!
Judy in America