signing Permanent Style book launch Milan

Last week was the official launch of the Permanent Style book, with an event in Milan hosted by Vitale Barberis Canonico and A Caraceni.

I was interviewed by the fashion editor of La Repubblica, Simone Marchetti, about my history and views on contemporary luxury, in front of a small audience. There will be some video coverage at a later date.

Permanent Style book launch Milan2

Grey shirts have been an interest of mine in recent weeks – they have a similar effect to denim or chambray, in adding an unexpected, less formal element to an otherwise conservative outfit. I have two: a pale-grey poplin from Luca Avitabile, and a mid-grey brushed cotton from Simone Abbarchi

The evening in Milan turned out to be an all-grey affair: that pale-grey shirt, a grey herringbone suit from John Kent, a grey/silver woven-silk tie and a brown/grey handkerchief (both Tom Ford). Alligator oxfords from Gaziano & Girling on the feet. 

Permanent Style book launch Milan Simon CromptonPermanent Style book launch Milan VBCPermanent Style book launch Milan Crompton

Such monochromatic outfits are usually more formal than those with more colour. Hence a white shirt and dark tie for smart evening events. However, removing the contrast from the outfit (grey shirt and hank instead of white) makes the overall effect softer and more subtle. 

With such combinations, the important thing is to retain a little contrast through texture. So a woven silk tie helps: the silk is shinier than the matte of shirt and suit, and the weave adds texture that catches and reflects the light irregularly. A silk hank, equally, creates contrast of texture to the suit, rather than the contrast of colour that would come from white linen. 

China launch in Beijing this Friday, at Brio. Looking forward to seeing everyone there. 
 Permanent Style book launch Milan

Permanent Style book launch Milan crowd

Permanent Style book launch Milano


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Hi Simon

I have long been a fan of the grey shirt. I prefer mine in a very pale grey as a more modern feeling alternative to Ivory (or other off white shirts,) and in a blue tinted grey as a more casual version of a blue shirt.

I couldn’t pull off an all grey outfit though. That takes an eye for style which is rather beyond me!

Another great post l, I really do enjoy the how to wear it series. Glad the book is selling so well.


Nick Inkster

Now that is a very good look indeed! I haven’t worn a grey shirt since I was at school, but you’ve got me thinking…………


Not a fan of the all-monochrome look. Though, i like the ‘grey shirt’. Very under-utilised shirt colour in classic menswear.


Count me as another fan of gray shirts… The trick though is adding either textural or contrast based interest. I find that poplin gray shirts are a little too flat. A nice birds-eye (light gray) or fil-à-fil (medium gray) does the trick admirable well.


Rob Fletcher

Just got home to find my Permanent Style 2015 sitting waiting for me. First impressions – superb. Love the design and presentation. Absolutely first rate. Congratulations Simon. Very well done indeed. Looks the dog’s proverbials to me 🙂 Doubt there’re any left but if there are gents, I’d grab one whilst you can.

Matt S

I’ve considered getting a grey shirt, but I’ve had a hard time breaking away from the classic blue and cream. I’ve ventured into lilac with two shirts, but I’m thinking about getting a grey end-on-end. Like semi-solid grey suits, I’d imagine a semi-solid grey shirt will help it not look too dull.


Hi Simon,

Just an observation that you are actually wearing oxfords in the photo (the 6th one), not monk straps?


For cycling do you recommend De Marchi or Rapha?


Hi Simon,
Thanks for sharing! I’ve read the depiction of your outfit on both occasions as a wink at me! I’m used to seeing monochromatic outfits that – to be honnest – I really don’t like. But yours is conspicously more sophisticate ! I think this way of using various shades of .. a single colour for an outfit is definely British! Every time I see someone, who has successfully done that, is either British or has lived in the UK for quite some time. As first sight, it seems to be a simple matter. But it’s not easy at all!


Hi Simon
I would like to know what do you think of these loafers.
Are they versatile enough to be worn casually with chinos and a polo but also with an odd jacket ( hopsack with patch pockets),a tie and fresco or linen trousers?×380/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/e/t/eton.jpg


Congratulations on the book, it’s been great to watch the blog and your career develop over the years. What I can’t square though is why you’d opt to publish something at a standard so much lower than those you hold clothes, shoes, and accessories to here. Sure it’s for widespread distribution, so you aren’t going to be hand setting the type into vellum, gilt, and calfskin, but at least stitch the pages into a real binding and boards so it will last more than a few years before the spine cracks and the whole thing comes apart. From the pictures it looks like a straight, so-called ‘perfect binding,’ which any bibliophile or publisher would tell you is anything but. I’d suspect most of the people who’d consider springing for a coffee table sized book on bespoke would appreciate the higher production value. Books aside, carry on, yours is still one of the best reads on the web.

David Craggs

Dear Simon,
Your John Kent suit arm appears to be incredibly wrinkled and it distracts enormously from the suit form.
Is it a photographic illusion or is there something amiss with the cut?


On the topic of grey shirts, I have seen you use one of your greys in a few settings, but wonder about the versatility. What colours of trouser would greys go with? And would it not be a wise investment for those with predominantly grey trousers in fresco and flannel as is the sartorial staple? Thanks for the time!



Was this the suit that was both cut and fitted by John Kent (as opposed to the cream linen suit which was fitted by Terry Haste)?

It seems to be to fit better in the neck area than the linen suit.



Grey shirts are useful when you want to wear Jeans and a black jacket but don’t want to look like a Tom Ford clone by wearing the white shirt you always used to wear with the jeans and jacket until Tom Ford popularised it. Likewise the black silk rollnecks you always wore – if you put a jacket over them you don’t look like someone trying to pass themselves off as a Silicon Valley tech “founder”. HTH. Grey shirts look very good with dark navy suits, less so with grey suits.