Our Spring/Summer Top 10, 2018

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Last week a friend in the industry asked me what aspect of writing Permanent Style I like the most. It is always, easily, discovering a new tailor, cloth or product that is different and inspiring.

That journey from discovering something new, to seeing it in person, to wearing it and then writing about it, is exhilarating - and something I think every engaged consumer can identify with.  

Which is why this feature is such a pleasure to write.

All the pieces in this second instalment of our annual Spring/Summer feature are new, and most of them I have bought and worn myself.

Hopefully the enthusiasm comes across, as well as some practical advice that you wouldn’t necessarily get from the brands' websites.

I should say that last year’s Summer Top 10 is here - and as with much of classic menswear, most of the pieces are still available.

We have moved it to May and labelled it Spring/Summer because last time too many of the things were low on stock by June. Given the topsy-turvy world of fashion, some of these have been in shops since February.

I'll also add that as with everything on Permanent Style, there is nothing commercial about this list. No one can pay to appear, or to influence it in any way, unlike the majority of other magazines and sites. I also purposefully exclude our own collaborations.

 

 

1 Edward Green ‘Shanklin’ desert boot

£740

My first pick is the Shanklin from Edward Green, an unlined desert boot on their 202 last. I bought a pair (in mushroom suede) at the tail end of last summer and wore them constantly - and they’re now available again.  

The suede of the Shanklin is soft and makes the boot very comfortable, yet it is still quite dressy: although the 202 is fairly round, it’s still slim compared to most desert boots. That means it works with tailored trousers, or a cotton suit.

The colour I have, mushroom suede, is great with denim and casual trousers, but mocha (brown, above) would have been more versatile. I would have gone with that if I didn’t already have my Saint Crispin’s boots.   

I know it feels very English to have a boot as your first recommendation for summer (though the Shanklins are rather comfortable in the heat...), so I’ll add that the Castaner ‘Pablo’ is also my favourite espadrille.

It has a really light rubber sole that stops the rope underneath wearing down, while also retaining some of that crunchy espadrille feeling. Too many brands use a thicker, harder sole that removes any point in having the coiled rope underneath.

2 Eidos sashiko short

£195

Good-fitting shorts are hard to find (a gap I hope ours will fill when they come out in a month or so). But equally rare is a short that has some personality to it, without going super-bright or covered in lobsters.

These Eidos ‘Morgan’ model shorts do that nicely, with the indigo dyeing and sashiko stitching combining to make a subtle but distinctive design.

Note that they are a heavy cotton, however, and feel substantial on. That’s not something that necessarily comes across online.

Other shorts I have tried and like are these from Ralph Lauren - side adjustors, pleats, and a sugary blue that would work well with white or navy - and Luca Faloni’s new cotton/linen shorts.

The latter are a little too long for me (just below the knee) and I find the drawstring inside a little fiddly, but that does make the waistband clean, the material is great and the single, brown-horn button makes a nice focus point.

3 Aspesi fully fashioned polo shirt

£140

I mentioned these polo shirts in my piece on travelling to India recently, and have since bought the pink to add to the green.

Pink won’t be an easy colour against pale skin, but it looks great with lots of colours, so building up a tan will be worth it.

The polo is relatively slim in cut, and looks dressier by virtue of being fully fashioned. (That basically means it’s made like a sweater, rather than ‘cut and sew’ like a regular polo shirt.)

It needs to be washed cold and on a delicate cycle as a result - which can be a pain - but looks much smarter than a regular polo.

4 Todd Snyder indigo T-shirt

£80

I wouldn’t normally buy from a brand like Todd Snyder, but designer brands are often a good source of slim-fitting T-shirts.

I’ve also wanted an indigo-dyed T-shirt for a while (shamelessly copying one that Jamie has) to wear very much as outerwear, rather than underwear as most of my T-shirts are. The breast pocket on this model is also small and subtler than most.

On the subject of T-shirts, I’ve been wearing a Hamilton & Hare tubular-knit T-shirt recently under knitwear, and have found it the most comfortable I’ve ever had.

The tubular knit means there are no side seams, and the resulting stretchiness also means I find it stays tucked in better than pretty much any other shirt. It's underwear rather than outerwear for me, but others will wear it as both.

5 Anglo-Italian cotton safari jacket

£420

Jake and Alex are doing many nice little things up in Marylebone, but perhaps one of the most unusual in sartorial terms is their cotton safari jacket.

Where most brands are producing safari jackets that mimic tailoring in their details and sharp lines, Anglo-Italian have done the opposite. Their safari jacket is lightweight and sloppy, and garment-dyed to make it look much-loved and worn-in.

It’s more suited to jeans and a polo than a dress shirt, but it makes a refreshing change to all the other models out there. (The Anglo-Italian smock is similar, just with fewer, more workwear-like details.)

6 Drake’s linen D-43 jacket

£495

This was probably a bit of a no-brainer for Drake’s - take their successful version of a waxed field jacket and make it in linen for the summer. The result, though, is even better than I expected.

Again, like the Anglo-Italian example, it’s different to the standard linen field jacket/overshirt, as its length, epaulettes and slanted pockets give it a more rugged, motorcycle feel. Also very helpful it comes in navy as well as green.

Elsewhere at Drake’s I would recommend the ready-made linen trousers, but I notice I did that last year in this feature. That recommendation stands, however, and there are new colours (tan, brown, olive, navy).

7 Hemingsworth swimming shorts

£185

Swimming shorts made with tailoring details seem rather familiar now - ever since Orlebar Brown first raised the game.

These, however, from English brand Hemingsworth and stocked at Trunk, take things a step further.

There are no less than three mother-of-pearl buttons fastening the waist band at the front, one on a small front pocket, and another on the back. That waistband is delicately pointed, and the material itself feels lovely (yet apparently dries quickly).

The only thing I’d change in the design is the side tabs, which pull on elastic at the back, rather than cynching the waistband. This is the same as Daks adjustors, and it does make for a cleaner look - but I found it didn’t keep the short tightened.

8 Connolly jersey scarf

£150

This is a small thing, among all the other big, bright and bold pieces in Connolly’s Spring/Summer collection, but I really like the merino neckerchiefs.

This is chiefly because the merino is woven as a jersey, which gives them great stretch and greater comfort at the neck. Also comes in navy.

I also love Connolly's Sea Bag, which is now in a new mushroom-coloured nubuck. It’s capacious, yet just small enough to look like a day bag rather than a weekender. And the leather feels amazing. 

9 Doek canvas trainers

£145

My trainer of the summer so far, having worn them around India for two weeks on a recent trip.

As mentioned then, the design is understated yet unusual, with a double layer of rubber around the toe. The hard-wearing canvas is a natural, flecked cream (or an indigo-dyed blue that fades nicely). They have no form of external logo or branding. And they’re very comfortable despite just having a cork inner sole.

For shorts and a polo shirt, or dressing down something smarter like linen trousers.

10 Begg & Co travel blanket

£445

We’ll end with something that could equally appear in an Autumn piece, just as we began with the desert boots.

I often pack a lightweight blanket when I travel, and indeed when I’m just out for the day around town on a warm day. It’s great to put around the shoulders inside, or when the evening gets cool.

A reader actually commented the other day that he found it hard to know what to wear when the weather changes so much during the day - as it often does in Britain during the Spring. My answers would be layering, and a lightweight shawl or blanket.

I recently bought this Begg & Co one - navy with a single stripe of blue. I’ve had another in a biscuity colour that I bought at their factory shop years ago, and while it was lovely, I didn’t find it that versatile. Navy should solve that.

Roll on Summer.

 

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Adam Jones

Great article, and actually the timing is perfect this year. Nice choice of Espadrilles but at the cost (£70) it makes me always wonder what happened to those cheap, traditional Spanish/ Portuguese espadrilles that could always be purchased when you arrived at the resort for a few Euros/ Pesetas etc. Every time I travel to the med I find them increasingly harder to find. They were always the perfect resort shoe in my mind. Cheap, available in huge numbers of colours and if you left them behind it wouldn’t matter.

Herve

Espies are easily found in the south of France, for less that 10 euros, with the traditional roped sole.

Think of them as outdoor slippers.

Throw them away as you leave to come home.

Adam Jones

after my comment, I had a little rant in the office about them.. I was advised of this company – https://uk.diegos.com/enuk/ – Some of the range is more akin the the tradition cheap shoe, and with a part rubber sole.

Hugh

If it’s ok to post specific vendors, depending on where you are in the world, check out
espadrillesetc.com;
diegos.com;
Dopey soles.com

Not as cheap as when you’re in Spain, but not 70gbp either

hugh

Apologies, that should be ropeysoles with an “r”

Kenneth John

Adam, if Simon were to post cheap links for espadrilles I dont think his audience would be able to relate! Why would you want to purchase a cheap product off some cheap skate flaunting utter garb on a beach, the fact that one would leave them behind just shows really. Buy quality!

Herve

Remember that the cheap rope soled Espies are the original. The expensive designer stuffs are new and then rethink your point perhaps.

Rolf

The problem with espadrilles is water which the rope soles will soak-up like a sponge. Once the soles got wet, be it through a summer shower or through a somewhat cheeky wave, they will never recover their shape nor loose that nasty ‘wet-hay’ smell. The only place for them is the bin.

Although a thin rubber sole might protect the shoes in a gentle drizzle, the waters of a shower will work it’s way sideways into the jute soles and ruin them for good. Makes no difference whether the espadrilles did cost 10 or 300 quid in he first place. (Yes, I have seen ‘designer’ espadrilles in that elevated price range.)

So I agree with various posters here, buy espadrilles in the market of your resort for a few Euros and bin them without tears when they need to be binned. There is not such a thing as ‘quality’ in rope soles.

Oskar

If you’d had to choose just one pair of desert boots, would it be the above in brown or the Saint Crispin’s?

Sam

I’m guessing you aren’t taken by the chukkas offered by any of the more affordable brands like C&J, Alden or Joseph Cheaney?

Sam

I thought the desert boots were a subset of chukkas (ie all desert are chukka but not all chukka are desert) and one of the key requirements was the crepe soles whereas the EGs have rubber? I note EG call them chukkas and desert in different parts of the product page

Toby

Look it up Simon.

Clarks created the desert boot.

Not very fancy, but true.

Anonymous

How do you assess suede quality? Also, I assume you didn’t have those made bespoke?

Charles Oxford

I have the Alden’s chukkas and they are the best I have ever had. Beautifully constructed, lightweight, glove-like fit. Fully recommended.

Tim

Hello Simon, while this is great, I look forward to the Panico review. How is it coming along?

H

These “Top 10” lists get better every time and are perhaps my favourite posts on Permanent Style. I already mentioned that I own the Aspesi Polo and can second everything you’ve said about it – but could also myself wearing all the other items mentioned here. Quite a lot of questions though (really sorry to ask so many, but I use these buying lists quite extensively):

1. Did you forget to include the Fedeli for Drake’s towelling polo, I see its in the top photo but not mentioned in the text?
2. Would you say the Hamilton & Hare t-shirt has overtaken the Sunspel Riviera in your eyes, I know you previously said that was your favourite.
3. Is there anything from last year’s Summer Top 10 you would no longer recommend?

Homer

Simon – don’t you find the linen in the Drakes D-43 jacket too heavy and thick. I love the jacket in theory but it’s way to thick and stiff for a summer jacket. Perhaps in London where there are more cooler summer days than here in the New York area.

Adam

I don’t quite understand why I would pay £500 for a Drakes linen piece when I can get new field jackets online for £150 or less (and Alpha Industries is not bad at all). I’d rather donate £350 to charity. I don’t have a problem paying for many of your bespoke tailor options but so much for an off the rack sounds like a travesty

Robert

Adam has a point though. There seems to be this trend in the menswear industry where “sartorial” brands (both in terms of actual products and marketing image) are now producing down-and-about clothes (of which field jackets are perfect embodiment) at upmarket prices. Good luck to them, and I’m sure the likes of Drake’s will have built a solid marketing plan which guarantees success, but I don’t like it. If I wanted to wear something that looks like it came out of an army surplus shop, that’s exactly where I will buy it.

Now Drake’s ties, on the other hand…

Oh and I’m a big fan of the original espadrilles. Want a patina and fraying to die for? You can get it in three days. They’re that authentic you can hold the slipper up to your ear and hear the midday cicadas.

#slowfashion #authentic #fairtrade #buylocal etc.

Adam Jones

In Drakes defence although some of the items they have made in a private label basis (not talking about ties here) sometimes can be little higher in price than similar quality items, the quality of make and fabric choice is normally outstanding. Knitwear is made by one of the best manufacturers in Scotland and should last decades, and I have had a white oxford shirt for a year, worn and washed countless times and it looks and feels as good (if not better in terms of softness) than the day I bought it… I wish I could say that about many of my Italian made bespoke/ MTM shirts.

James

I’ve had my eye on the Shanklin for a while but Edward Green seem to ratchet their prices higher and higher with every passing year. The summer before last they were expensive but not ridiculous at £650. Last year it was £700 and this summer they’ve gone up again to £740. I prize good shoes and I’m happy to pay for them but their prices are not fair. Not by a long shot.

Anonymous

Try Carmina. Not at the same level but damn good for the price.

Lee

I tried on and deliberated over the blue EG suede chukka a few weeks ago. But in the end i could not bring myself to spend that amount of money on a suede boot. I can however testify to their softness, and that blue was beautiful colour to behold

Christopher

Great Ideals for the spring and summer! Normally I don’t buy high street labels, but for a basic blue T-shirt with slim fit I can recommend the basic shirt from Cos. I searched for your trainers, cause they are a great alternative to the omnipresent Converse or Superga. But they are hard to find and if living not in London or Japan they are only online available….But today I found another good comparable shoe. It’s not only the shoe, furthermore the concept of the brand (which is called Ecoalf) is quite interesting. They use plastic bottles and other material like old fishing nets and recycle or “upcycle” it to wearable garments.

Anonymous

Hello Simon, something occurred to me the other day; I was in Richmond some years ago (in M&S) and got talking to someone who was wearing a Dege shooting coat (similar to a Norfolk but more modern). We chatted about tailoring and he showed me the red felt additions he had tailored on to the coat (collar, pocket flaps etc.). He was about your height, age etc. I always remember how enthusiastically he spoke about the subject of clothing and tailoring – it wasn’t you perchance (you may not remember the conversation but thought the Dege might still be in your wardrobe)?

Ralph

The Aspesi polo looks good, however, John Smedley’s Adrian polo in Lumsdale green is available from their website at £70. Made in Sea Island cotton in Derbyshire too!

Anonymous

Simon
Do you really think an Aspesi polo is better made than a John Smedley polo?

Anonymous

Thanks for the reply. I’ll have to take a look at the Aspesi polo shirts. My only gripe with John Smedley is their inconsistent sizing.

Bolaji

I was the ‘Reader’ Simon mentioned in the PS SS18 Top 10. I agree layering [+lightweight down jacket] is perhaps the best way to tackle the predictable unpredictable English Spring/weather. I will now be adding a travel blanket t/shawl to my repertoire as you have advised. I already have the Castaner Pablo in black suede but looking to add a sturdy but comfortable sandal on very hot summer days [*suggestions please]. Can I say that sandals do not appear to be very popular in England, but they do work well with shorts in humid climes.

I have had a look at the Doek Canvas trainers but sizing as always is the deal-breaker. The biggest size is a US9 whilst I am a UK10. How will Simon advise us to navigate the confusing landscape of European/US sizing in general? I have bought a lot of Zanone/Slowear/Incotex that have come up short in the past.

And light Spring/Summer fragrances for those who do not wear perfumes? Can I recommend Santa Maria Novella’s Orange Blossom Water. It also comes in 2 other scents.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Simon for getting me fired up about the details/minutiae of Menswear!

Tim

That safari jacket looks fantastic, too bad it’s rather expensive, and sold out

Christopher

Hello Tim, I bought a safari in Lucca in Tuscany at Stefano Veneziani, it looks comparable….the price should be less, around 200 Euro

Richard Jones

Great post Simon. Re the esperdrilles, the link was for pink. Do you have the pink?

Mike

Simon,

Re the EG summer suede boots – could these (a brown pair) be worn with a (green) suede bomber (Valstar) or would shoes and jacket be too much suede?

Chritopher

Dear Simon,

I would appreciate if you find a way to connect some of us readers. Maybe readers in the same country ? I guess fine tailoring will not be the only point some of us have in common.

Richard Jones

Thank you Simon. I purchased the navy Castaner espadrilles at Marches Fashion today. They look and feel great. I didn’t mind spending the £70 either – and I’m one of your readers on a Graham Browne suits, Simone Abbarchi shirts, Cheaney Imperial shoes type of budget.

Felix Krull

Dear Simon,
whats up with your – whats seems to me newly developed – interest in shorts?
I would never have imagined to read that shorts are on a Top 10 list on this blog.
I stand by the principle that grown men should not wear shorts at all (except for sports obviously).

Sam

Any ideas on when your shorts will come to fruition… or to put it more bluntly – will I be able to take them on holiday with me on the 8th June? Getting bored of looking around for nicely tailored shorts.

Anonymous

Orlebar Brown do nice tailored shorts. For a cheaper option, try Berg & Berg.

Don

Great call on the Edward Green Shanklin. I have the same pair, also in mushroom. The most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought, and the most comfortable and versatile. Worth every penny.

Mike

I notice that most summer wear is made of cotton instead of wool. For example, take the Aspesi polo. Wool preserves colour better after washing it and can be cool during hot weather as well. Why is cotton chosen above wool?

Thomas

Simon, just a quick question, while we are impatiently waiting for the perfect shorts from Permanent Style: Would you have any suggestions for the ideal material to use for a somewhat smart pair of short pants that could be worn not just with a t-shirt but also with a shirt? I know it’s a bit of a weird look, but I have some very nice linen shirts which I don’t wear nearly often enough, and I keep thinking they’d go well with shorts …

Thanks and best regards,
Thomas

Thomas

Thanks as always for the quick reply, very much appreciated.

Anonymous

Would you wear the Shanklin boots year round, or only in warmer months? I´m having to decide between these and the EG Banbury suede chukkah. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thank you sir.

TSLon

Hi guys,

Just a quick question of Espadrilles fit…I bough a pair of castener Pablo in suede but they seem very loose around the ankle. Almost if there is too much material. Is that because of my foot shape or are they meant to fit like that? Also how should they fit in terms of length. My toe is righ up to the end on a 42 whilst a 43 just seems a bit too long. Thinking of sending them both back so a bit of advice needed here. Thanks.