I know that one of the style areas people find most difficult is wearing sports jackets, or separate waistcoats, with everything else: shirt, tie, hank, trousers.
I’ve always loved the way Alan at The Armoury wears these things together, so we got together to run through some of my favourite looks of his – and what lessons they might contain for PS readers.
Alan: I’d like to say first that it’s been a great pleasure starting the Armoury with Mark Cho, and
so much of it has been real fun. I’ve met truly stylish people and, being in the industry, had a lot of chances to “geek out” over clothes.
In particular I’ve discovered a lot of interesting textures and patterns in cloth, which I find make simple outfits much more appealing – and I’ve slowly incorporated these into my wardrobe.
A lot of the outfits I wear are simple and classic colour combinations, but with the added interest of texture.
This was shot on a typical summer day in Hong Kong – hot and humid.
There are a lot of favourites in the photo, but I guess the highlight is the trousers from Salvatore Ambrosi. The weight of the cotton is a formidable 14oz and has shape and form like no other. I think Holland & Sherry must have had a lot of business from us after we started wearing these around town: I can’t seem to get any more!
The colour on the trousers also has the perfect amount of yellow to it, which seems to enhance and make richer any jacket I wear it with.
I’m wearing it here with an unconstructed and very light teba jacket, and one of our long-sleeve polos.
One of the perks of being in the rag trade is we chance upon a lot of little shops, sartorias, and places with interesting things that are being got rid of. The fabric on this shirt is made from a Carlo Riva fabric that I picked up at Buonanno before they closed, and the jacket fabric was chosen from the depths of Orazio Luciano’s archive.
I love lighter coloured jackets like this for the summer as they can encourage much more vibrancy through the outfit. Some people find them hard to wear as they are often similar to skin tones. To counteract that I add a bit more contrast to give the jacket more of a frame, with blue or more saturated colours.
I love texture and most of the fabrics I end up choosing have a lot of it!
This outfit goes from the harder Harris-tweed odd waistcoat to the lighter tweed jacket and pants and ends up with this fuzzy and warm cashmere-knit tie. These are the kind of items I run my hands through in a shop just on reflex!
I end up wearing a lot of darker jewelled tones for the winter with these textured pieces as they make things look so much warmer and richer. The colours also tend to show a lot more depth if
they are not that dark.
An almost spring outfit in Hong Kong! Please excuse the no-socks look: it seems to be good for making my outfits slightly more casual, especially with suede loafers.
As mentioned earlier, a lot of the outfits tend to be a combination of basic colours finished in texture. Here the main colours are a neutral tan and gray, with again an almost neutral shade of blue in the shirt. This allows me to add a bit of colour with the accessories, like my green tie, and still keep everything relatively subtle.
Most of the details on my jackets and suits are very clean and you’ll notice that even on my sports jackets I prefer jetted pockets with slight details to them. I find flaps and patches don’t suit how I wear my jackets and I just don’t seem to wear my patched ones as much.
I am sporting my beautiful other half, Alexa Bui, here. We were at the yearly spectacle known as Pitti Uomo. If nothing else it is a chance to put together combinations that are a bit more colourful!
I’m wearing even more green than usual here – particularly those amazingly heavy brushed-cotton trousers. The fabric has a beautifully rich and deep colour that translates into photos well.
You can see the brushed effect slightly through the way the light bounces off the sides. It’s as comfortable to wear as it looks.
The deep colour of the trousers, matched with a similar pair of shoes, make a great foundation for the tan jacket.
The Armoury guys ( mainly Alan, Mark, Jake and the now-departed Ethan) are all masters of dressing.
Sure, their dressing is connected to the marketing strategy and they were smiled upon by the handsome gods but you can’t take away from the fact that they have style.
Ignoring the frippery i.e the lapel chains, the last two looks were particularly inspired.
I have always thought Alan to have a very good look to him (apart from the very modern haircut which seems at odds to the rest of the ensemble). Simple and quite classic with good materials offering a variation of tone and texture. It seems anything goes with his complexion (something us Brits have to watch out for). He is also very slim which naturally helps especially in gaining the slimmer cut trouser leg which looks fabulous.
Some links in the article to their blog site featuring Alan would not have gone amiss – god knows i have spent literally hours perusing them!
I’m glad you picked Alan from The Armoury bunch. He’s definitely one of the better dressers, some of them look like clowns, for example, the other chap in picture 4.
I’ve also never understood the bald fellow that works in their NYC branch, he doesn’t own a pair of socks! He looks absolutely ridiculous wearing his formal suits etc.. but no socks!
A lot of the outfits that I see being worn by The Armoury people are definitely not in the bracket of timeless style, but more fashionable stuff that they’ll get tired of and regret having spent thousands of pounds on it.
I liked this post a lot. It shows the importance of knowing and understanding different cloth and how that helps to combine cut, colour and texture and make one’s clothes appropriate for the time of year and location. Alan’s knowledge, experience and comfort in this area clearly shine through and he displays easily his own sense of style – something to which we can all aspire.
Fantastic article deserving of reading several times and studying the pictures carefully, thank you!
Any idea which cloth the green tweed suit is (the one with the Harris tweed waistcoat)? I’ve seen this photo before on tumblr and always admired it.
I’m pretty sure the green fabric is from Caccioppoli
Dynamite outfits with $5 haircuts…
Think what you want about the clothes — for me they are more an exercise in fashion rather than style — that said, all is ruined by the phenomena of ‘the dodgy barnett ‘.
All of us that are lucky enough to still sport a full set know that it all begins and ends with a good haircut.
I’d love to see a blog on barbers with the best cutters recommended. It’s so essential.
A nice article. I often wonder the extent to which people conceive their style and turn it reality vs. just testing ideas through trial and error? I’d be interested in your thoughts and whether your time at A&S helped you in this regard – the ability to try out ideas with the shop stock?
My own hit rate of turning ideas into successful practice is actually pretty low and while I can afford that for shirts, ties, hanks etc where RTW (and the ability to return things) can also be used as a testing ground. I can’t afford it for tailoring where bespoke requires much more imagination and less trail and error. This makes my tailoring pretty conservative.
I also find myself reaching for the same tried and tested combinations of shirts, ties, shoes etc, when I want to make an outfit more casual or formal. While I assume (hope) this looks good to others and they don’t notice my repetition, I tend to find it a bit boring and want to try something different or something new, which usually requires buying a new combination rather than taking my existing wardrobe and mixing it up. Maybe I just don’t have enough options in the wardrobe already…
Sorry some rambling thoughts, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.
This post is utterly a pleasant big surprise! I didn’t expect it at all today! Yet I think you could have picked any guy at Atmoury, for, without a single exception, they are always well dressed!
Now that you have picked Alan, I would like to know if he could answer these two questions:
1) what kind of fabric and weight does he prefer for jackets when it’s really hot in Honk Kong?
2) if he happens to choose linien blend with wool for jackets, how much wool does he consider better for such a hot weather?
I thank him in advance for his reply.
You could chime in too, Simon. Thanks!
Thanks for the post!
Green tweed is indeed Caccioppoli – it feels more like a heavy alsport than a tweed, but retains the texture, which makes it nice for a suit
About the trousers: they are all by Ambrosi. Everyone thinks I have an easy time with trousers because they perceive my skinniness as being an easy fit but my trousers are probably where I have the most trouble. My hips are quite wide compared to my shoulders, I don’t have an ass for my waistband to really rest on, and my feet are small for my height too. Fortunately, I have my tailoring maestros to help with all of this and all the proportions and fits are tweaked to make me look the way I do in these photos.
The lapel chains were actually devised as key keepers for me. I never used to remember them until I chained them down to my jackets. My house & shop keys are on the other end of the chains. They used to be on a bracelet until our cufflink maker helped me create those things instead
John: I wear a lot of high-twist and open weave fabrics to cope with the heat & primarily the humidity in Hong Kong. The summer fabrics in my wardrobe tend to weigh 8 – 10 oz. The high twist factor has a lot of benefits, aesthetically, and also practically. Although there are a few linens in my wardrobe that are ~13 oz (which I love). I don’t find the linen vs wool blend % to affect the cooling effect of the fabric much. It is mostly the weave. Otherwise the linens tend to add that texture to it.
My haircut is $15.
Excellent clarification! I find your comments concerning the importance of the weave to be very helpful.
Thank you, Alan!
Sorry, but I still have two additional queries:
I barely see you at the Armoury wearing black shoes. Apparently, this may have to do with your choice for smart casual. Then this post could also be an opportunity to ask you
1) on which kinds of occasion do you pull off a pair of black oxfords;
2) what about your regular customers’ attitude in that respect?
Whilst praising English, French and Italian chic we often forget that when the Chinese and Japanese do European chic better then anyone.
Great looks and great photos .
Are both the green and yellow trousers the 14oz cotton from H&S? Is that a suitable weight for spring/summer?
”My haircut is $15.”
This cracked me up. Glad to see Alan has a sense of humour. Though i actually like the haircuts actually.
Re: Lapel chains; interesting explanation! The aesthetic is simply not for me but it seems to work for Alan and his pals.
John: Yes – Primary reason I do not wear black shoes often because I feel a brown or similar pair are able to carry more color throughout the whole outfit. I do wear black shoes though! They typically are paired with a navy or black knit for me.
Jerrell: The yellow pair is a very heavy cotton, but with a clean finish – I wear it throughout the sweltering heat in Summer. I don’t feel particularly warm in the leg with them. The green pair is a brushed cotton that is more for the cold weather
This is certainly one of my favourite posts with lots of useful info, thanks to Alan too!
Sometime ago you gave advice on wearing a black necktie. In the comments section of the article you briefly mentioned brown ties. I would love to read a similar feature dealing with how to wear a brown tie. I am particularly interested in how to combine it with the correct colour/shad leather belt and shoes. Many thanks.
Agree with Rabster. Great to see the way Asians (chinese?) style traditional tailoring, with Alan, George and Jonathan. Good haircut too.