My tattoo

Wednesday, September 25th 2019
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This should be a fun one. I doubt anyone will have strong feelings about it at all.

A few weeks ago I got a tattoo on my forearm, and I thought readers might be interested in hearing why.

It is something I took extremely - perhaps characteristically - seriously, and had been considering for several years. 

To me, it is a deep expression of who I am, and what I value. I know it isn’t how everyone approaches getting a tattoo, but I see it as something profound. In some ways it’s a natural extension of how I think about decorating by body with everything else - but far, far more significant for its permanence. 

(There are also small echoes of how I talk about jewellery: as something that I personally think should also be invested in, deeply considered and highly personal.)

Art has always been extremely important to me. As my best and favourite subject at school, to studying aesthetics at university, and travelling around the world, always drawing and sketching.

Of particular interest from university onwards was decorative art. I was fascinated by how everyday things are decorated - from buildings to textiles, book binding to furniture.

I'm no expert, but I've read consistently over the years about different western movements like Art Deco and Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts here in England, and other international traditions like Islamic art.

My notebooks from travelling in countries like Morocco, Portugal and Pakistan were always decorated with intricate sketches of Islamic tiles and patterns. And here in London the V&A, with its collections of decorative art, was always my favourite.

None of it made me think about tattoos as a way to express that passion, until they became more acceptable in recent years.

However, that was also one of the things that put me off. I'll tell anyone that will listen that I had a beard in 2002, long before they were fashionable. Like any snob, there are few things I hate more than the feeling I’m following a crowd.

Other things that weighed against it were:

(1) The fear that I’d regret it later in life. I make mistakes in suit choices, for God’s sake. How was I going to guarantee getting this one right?

(2) The fear that it wouldn’t be perfect. Less that I’d pick the wrong thing, but that some aspect of it would frustrate me – that it wouldn’t be the perfect piece of art.

(3) Stereotypes and associations with the kind of people that have tattoos.

The last point is interesting, as there are some parallels with clothing. Both are intensely social, much as we hate to admit it. A lot of how we see them is dependent on who we see wearing them. 

The vast majority of our opinions on tattoos are cultural associations.

Despite all these things, over the years the idea of a tattoo as a piece of personal, artistic expression kept at me.

I compulsively took photos of decorative art that inspired me: ironwork, stonework, woodwork; gates, plinths, doors. 

Particularly when travelling. The Art Nouveau doors of Brussels, Art Deco lifts in New York, painted tiles in Lisbon. And more locally and prosaically, the tombs of Nunhead cemetery. 

I’ve regularly posted images of these in Instagram stories over the years. A handful of the ironwork ones that served as direct inspiration are shown here. 

Last year, two things accelerated things for me.

First, I got to know more people that admired the artistry of tattoos, and I could talk to about it. People like Ben Phillips [at Drake’s] or Ethan [Newton]. They saw tattoos the same way I did.

After a while, it just seemed silly to worry about what other people would think. Cultural associations are inescapable, but that doesn’t mean you have to be ruled by them. Otherwise there would be no personal expression.

Second was getting to know tattoo artist Mo Coppoletta (above). Again, he saw tattoos the way I did; talking to him about decorative art around London was revelatory.

In fact, the biggest turning point was when I first talked to Mo about the things I had sketched over the years – and showing him examples.

My favourite type of decorative art is ironwork - because it’s so robust and often goes unnoticed, yet has such cultural resonance.

It sits in the background, decorating balconies and gates, yet we would all recognise its organic shapes, often finished with the flick of an acanthus leaf.  

I also liked the fact that ironwork was something abundant in London, and I could draw inspiration directly from in the city I have always lived in. Using Portuguese or Islamic tiles would feel inauthentic to me.

Unfortunately most ironwork works within a border. It is designed to fill a rectangular space and therefore doesn’t easily stand alone – as it would likely have to as a tattoo.

But after five minutes of chatting to Mo about my ideas, he started sketched something original that was exactly right. He knew the designs and traditions so well that he could manipulate them into something perfect for me and the space. (Final design shown above.)

It was then that I stopped worrying about point 2: that the piece would be perfect.

And indeed, that was the advice people like Ben gave me time and again: find an artist that inspires you, and let them do the work. Don’t pretend it’s something you can do yourself.

So a few months ago Mo and I began trading ideas and potential designs. Then I booked in for a couple of hours, and spent a very pleasant afternoon listening to Junior Wells while he scarred me for life. 

It hurt, but only as much as it should do, for something irreversible. 

And now, two months afterwards, how do I feel? I’m very proud of it, though there have been flashes of panic. 

There was one around a month in, when everything had healed and the buzz had worn off. And I suddenly caught a glimpse of it in the mirror and thought: motherf**king hell, I’m going to have this thing on me for the rest of my life. 

But then it settled down. It becomes part of you, and part of how you see yourself. 

Would I have got one if I was still in my old, much more professional job? That's an interesting question, but I think I would. Just on the upper arm, not the lower. 

I deliberately had this piece in a place where I could choose whether to reveal it or not: rolling up a shirt sleeve, wearing a T-shirt. In another job I might have had it higher so it would only show with a T-shirt. 

But I always wanted it to be something that would be on display. That felt like part of the point of the expression - perhaps again a little like clothes. I don’t express myself through my choice of underwear. 

Next most common question: would I get another one? 

Probably, yes. The thrill of it (perhaps largely a sense of irresponsibility) is great, and could clearly become addictive. I also loved the process of deciding, designing and commissioning. 

But I worked out that it took me roughly five years to get this tattoo, from conception to execution. So I’ve given myself another five years to do the same again.

Perhaps it won’t be that long, but it will stop me getting one next year. 

Art has always been central to my life - something I’ve taken immense pleasure from, and I think is still underrated in modern culture. Particularly as people spend more time glued to their phones. They need to be forced to stop, and look. 

And decorative art is a particular expression of that, of a belief in the value of taste, decoration and everyday aesthetics.

That everything around us should be, not ornate, but beautiful in its natural materials, the way it ages and wears (whether floorboards, sofa or clothing) and the way we decorate it.

I’ve probably taken all this a bit too seriously, but then that’s what I’m like. And if it’s appropriate anywhere, its has to be when you deliberately scar your body.

As with posts on perfume or 'the gentleman', this post is an exception and normal service will be resumed soon. But if anyone is interested in other details, such as the artistic decisions made around size, shading and so on, I'm happy to write something else.

Mo Coppoletta is the proprietor of The Family Business (above), a tattoo parlour on Exmouth Market in London. He has also designed for Bar Termini, Liberty and others.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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V trendy!


Trashy. But I think all tattoos are. I know it’s a big fad. Just my opinion.


I wouldn’t get one myself, but its certainly not a fad. My Indian grandmother had tattoos done in the early 1900s in a remote part of India and as far as I know she wasn’t a hipster) Many cultures have a tradition of tattoos stretching back a very very long time. These cultures are separated by geography but practise similar tattooing of the body. I think it must be some human need to associate yourself with something through directly decorating your body. It’s more connective than jewellery which could be used similarly as it actually becomes a part of your body rather than just being placed around it.


An interesting and bold step. Also unexpected but in a good way, as it pushes the envelope beyond the main focus of this site.

As an appearance/outfit is an ensemble, I look forward to seeing how it complements, possibly detracts, & whether it subtly alters the way you dress to incorporate the new addition.

C Tate

At first I thought this was perhaps a piece about temporary transfers or even a joke. Then I realised it’s September and not April. Having read the article though, I understand your thinking entirely. You have chosen a lovely, stylish design – I wouldn’t have expected anything less from you. If I may say so I also think it is quite sexy – a willingness to through caution to the wind and do something rash which is quite startling from one who normally seems so cautious and formal in his choices of decoration. I wouldn’t worry about stereotypes or ‘the kind of people that have tattoos’. I doubt anyone would make the wrong type of assumption about you!

Gary Mitchell

Be careful Simon, they be addictive.

I agree with your ‘fashion trend’ concerns though, my tattoos began in 1981 as traditional for a sailor then soldier and now, many (all upper arms/shoulders) tattoos later I do sometimes cringe when I think people think we are ‘the same’ because In their mind we are part of the tattooed elite; me with traditional designs from the days when generally ink was limited to servicemen and criminals and the fashion boys with a small dolphin on their ankle….
I like your tattoo though, shows thought and consideration, but ….Beware, beyond here there be dragons.


That’s was a surprise !

I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye on some things but what I enjoy about this article and the one you wrote about leaving your job is the honesty around the doubt bordering on panic you felt.
I think sometimes sartorial matters and life in the internet generally can be too much of a pretense.

I think it also shows that people who choose to dress well are not all the same . They hold a multitude of views and come from a range of backgrounds but share certain ‘high’ values in common .

Personally, I wouldn’t have a tattoo because they’re permanent , always have a greenish undertone and distract from everything else .
But as to this tattoo … it’s a very nice design and works rather well .
Should be interesting to see how it looks when shown with tailored clothing .


Great post Simon – really glad you shared the thinking behind this.
I think it look awesome – bold, tasteful and perhaps the ultimate example of ‘permanent’ style.
You are right – doing something outside of a normal, considered, perhaps career-orientated lifestyle, is indeed a rush and perhaps addictive. I too spent many years considering my first tattoo and now have 10 tattoos, ranging from the very personal to ones done ‘for fun’. I went for the same location on the arm as you for my first tattoo and have found no problem in maintaining a professional job. I can choose who and when to show my artwork to. If I can offer one piece of advice though, it would be that tattoos on the arm are ‘relatively’ painless – tattoos on your toes are a different matter altogether!

Mark R

Looking forward to the comments on this one!

I like it, it appears to be well done, and it means something to you, arrived at after a period of reflection. It wasn’t something picked out of a tattooist’s book on a whim.

I have one too. Like you, it is the result of quite a few years of wanting one but not really knowing what to have and not wanting to just pick something just for the sake of it. In my case, it was a random doodle drawn by one of my children that was the inspiration for it and finally giving me a reason to have it done.

I hope you continue to enjoy it.


I must say I am surprised but it looks fantastic. Great work!


Interesting. I wonder if you felt you were in any way influenced, perhaps even subconsciously, by the ubiquity of tattoos these days, especially among the style conscious? It seems almost odd not to have one. Like people without smartphones (me!), you begin wondering if you’re just being perverse.
Also, did you not consider getting a temporary one, just to gve you the option of changing your mind?


Really like it. I can imagine it working very well with your style.

I’ve recently seen a few tattoos that take their inspiration from abstract art which look really good. Saw a man with simple bold black lines running across his arm at different angles. Looked so beautiful I couldn’t stop looking at it. Very tempted to do something similar.


A very personal choice and I see no reason for anyone to query the decision of another to ink their own body.

I was surprised by the headline, but having read the article and considered the process you went through it actually seems like a natural extension of how you approach things. For what’s it’s worth, I really like the design – it looks great!

Andrew Martin

Simon, if you like decorative ironwork, you should check out the work of Samuel Yellin, the greatest American blacksmith, when you’re next on this side of the pond. There are amazing examples at the Washington National Cathedral, and I’d love to give you a tour if you’re ever in DC.


I second that about Washington National, and I would also say definitely check out some of the chapels behind the apse of St. John the Divine in New York.


From “gentleman” to “badboy”.

Never thought I’d see the day. Though I suppose it could have been much worse (i.e. tattoo on the neck, face, or hands).

Aah well, each to their own.



Body art is controversial. Maybe a bit faddish. And permanent.


I’d add it detracts from the site, a disappointment actually. Not interested.


Very cool and beautiful!


Hi Simon, Think your opening line is correct. Can’t imagine anyone batting an eyelid these days. More likely to compliment you on the tattoo and the Artist on his terrific handiwork.. I don’t have one but…you never know. Great to hear how it came about.

Best Regards


I experimented the same panic feelings 25 years ago, when I got my first tattoo. No worries, be sure that, in not too much time, you will forget about the existance of the tattoo when watching yourself at the mirror.

And good work of Mo, by the way. I follow them at Instagram.


Sorry, but it’s very ugly!


Beauty and ugliness are in the eye of the beholder.


No it is not. Beauty requires integritas, consonantia and claritas.

“1. Integritas (wholeness) –

It must not be deficient in what it needs to be most itself.

2. Consonantia (proportionality) and –

Its dimensions should suitably correspond to other physical objects as well as to a metaphysical ideal, an end.

3. Claritas (radiance) –

It should clearly radiate intelligibility, the logic of its inner being and impress this knowledge of itself on the mind of the perceiver.”

I really dislike tattoos. This one is no exception.


A really interesting article, Simon. I’m certainly glad you posted it at a time when I have decided to commission my first tattoo after a year or more of considering it! It would be – like your own – of something that means a lot to me individually, and always will. It will represent who I am, where I like to travel, and my everyday life, but is also a fun, decorative piece that may start a conversation with a stranger or otherwise.
Would also like to hear more about the process, if you get time to post on it.


Simon – now I understand the meaning of, “a stunned silence”.


To each their own, but I worry that this, along with endless influence of the Trunk, Armoury, Anglo Italian direction, takes us further towards current trend rather than permanent style (though I concede the ink is very permanent!)


I’m curious to know what you consider to be the influence of The Armoury, Trunk et al?


I for one greatly enjoy your occasional posts on art.

Nigel C

This really is Permanent Style! How many times have you had that one?
I like it and I admire your writing about it in this way too. I’d love a tattoo, but I just could not commit to it, so this is just vicarious living for me.
I’d be curious on follow up in, say, six months about how many clients go to Mo and ask for a Crompton.
Best wishes N


Love the story and I also lthe design of the tattoo.

I have one, which means a lot to me and which I’ve never regretted, despite a few people and a few girlfriends not being fans.

This is for you, not for others, and it sounds like you love it.


In response to an earlier comment (and a general
misconception): tailored clothing does not maketh
a gentleman; nor is a tattoo antagonistic to formal


Tastes change. You wear different things now to what you did 5/10/15 years ago. You probably listen to different music, eat different food. Everything will change further throughout the rest of your life, except your tattoo.
Tattoos are permanent. That’s why I’ll not get one.


Literally Permanent style. What does the wife think? Your probably still just young enough to get away with it without it looking like a mid-life crisis. Or is it?


Well the site is called “permanent” style…


I think the range of comments sum up perfectly the general view toward tattoos. That is, that they’re quite polarising. I like the idea of a tattoo but always bottled having one.

Nicolas Stromback

Nice way of putting the “permanent” in Permanent Style Simon (yes, pun intended 🙂

I had my first tattoo at age 18 and had another one a few years later, and then contemplated having more of them for years to come, but never got around to it and these days I feel that I’ve put that side of me to rest. As a lawyer I must admit that I have had times were I wished I didnt have them, as I sort of separated myself from the crowd (back then at least). Nowadays I don’t think about them as much, but I am very aware that people in my business would view me differently if the saw them. Having said that, I would’nt care that much if it were to happen.

As it is, my stepbrother is studying to be a lawyer, and having been a bartender prior to this, he has got a lot of ink on his arms and shoulders. One of his teachers remarked on his tattoos and told him: “Have you ever seen a successful lawyer with tattoos on their arms?” to which he ingeniously replied: “Have you ever seen suits with short sleeves?”. I think “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” but without personality there can be no beauty.


A stimulating and personal piece; as with many commissions, it will be interesting to see how you feel about it over time.

On a recent trip to the beach, I started to wonder whether whether the ubiquity of tattoos had now become something of a gift to those of us who don’t have them. I’m now making a chic statement, it seems, with a restrained and tonal body palette. And one I can change at any time.

I’ve always enjoyed the ironwork in the V & A though.

Tats for stats

This is very, very weird and unexpected and also, truth be told, totally against anything I’d image you every doing. I guess it’s quite reactionary but for me, tattoos still belong to a certain societal class, and for good reason.

Plus, why exactly did you get a leaking fountain pen tattooed?

Paul Boileau

I too have an interest in the decorative arts- principally Christopher Dresser and the Gothic Revival style of Pugin et al. I would never have a tattoo primarily because it’s just not my steez and they generally seem to (me to) fade (badly) over time and just become a blurry mess. I guess yours at least has the advantage of being bold and not too intricately detailed. I look forward to future posts and style breakdowns on the merits of formal British tatoo artists vs more naturalistic Italian ones or whatever!


Hi again. I can see that now (I thought my sense of humour was dry!) So have older people reacted differently to younger people. I think those in London their 20’s/30’s /40’s etc take this in their stride?


Good grief man, what were you thinking? I think you’ll live to regret this unfortunate action. As far as tattoos go, it’s very well done, but a mistake nevertheless. The good news is that when you come to your senses, tattoos can be removed today with minimal scarring.


Best advice I ever received on tattoos was – put the design somewhere you’ll see it daily for a year; if after a year you’re not tired of it, proceed. Seems like you did much the same Simon and it’ll serve you well! Tattoos are very personal so it doesn’t matter whether I like it or not … but I LOVE IT!


This is one of the most well-articulated discussions of (arguments for?) a tattoo I’ve read. And I think it complements your personal style and aesthetic perfectly. As someone about half a generation older I’m still lagging a bit behind on my own views on tattooing (maybe because I haven’t found something that represents myself as you did). But good for you.

Richard Jones

Very nice tattoo and story Simon. I have been tattooed over 20 times, by 8 different artists. Your advise to pick an artist based on their style of work is key (for best results), they do know best.

It is also important how the images look, suit and blend with the body. May I suggest when considering your next piece, you have something differently themed to this tattoo. It looks lovely as a single piece, but multiple tattoos of this theme will not suit the body. I know you like Iron Maiden; their art (for example) will blend in and look visually nicer as a miss-match on the body, than a second tattoo of this theme. I hope that makes sense.

So will we see you at Tobacco Docks for London’s tattoo convention this weekend…

Ian A

I personally don’t like it or think it suits you. Even a picture on the wall by a critically acclaimed world class artist such as Van Gough etc you become tired of seeing it hanging there so you change it! Clothes as an expression it doesn’t matter you can just take them off after everyone has had a good hoot. Tattoos always look so blue green and in the end just draw attention to the fact that it is a tattoo and not what the design is about. A bit like when clothes are soo garish and loud that you no longer see the actual person behind them. I’m a bit surprised at somebody who has made a successful website out of lampooning and advocating permanent style has gone for something so faddish. Something that many will regret having or will somehow just try to live with and justify their decisions to their minds inner council.


Yes, you may change a photo of Van Gogh, but who gives a damn if one has a poster of a Van Gogh painting on the wall. If you have an actual Van Gogh, that is displayed for life, and frankly–a hell of a lot longer than the life any one of us will live. The analogy doesn’t work; a replica poster is inherently different from a tattoo, which becomes permanently a part of the body’s largest organ.

JJ Katz

What a well-written and considered aritcle.
While I eschew tatoos myself, being frightfully hide-bound, I think this made sense for you, as someone with a broader aesthetic palette.
The design quality and inspiration are excellent, too. BTW, I agree that ironwork is criminally underrated.


Great job. Sounds like an itch you just had to scratch, and a five year gestation period illustrates how serious you were about doing it.

But no mention of what the family think…?



This was a beautiful piece. Absolutely fascinating to hear how much thought went into it, and how frankly you write about the emotions experienced throughout the process.

I am not a tattoo person myself, but I must say it is beautiful and tasteful. I’d expect nothing less having followed you for a number of years.

Best regards,



Wow! I did not see this coming. Honestly, I’m not a fan of tattoos…


Very interesting explanation of your new ”work,” Simon. It looks great.

I also have a few tattoos- a small cursive script of my daughter’s name, a tiny quote from a song my mother sang to me as a child, and a (not tiny) architectural rendering of Wadham College, Oxford, where I spent a very formative fellowship year in my early 20s. All very personal and I’ve never regretted any of them (though mine are covered by a tee shirt so I took the easy road). Tattoos may be marginally socially divisive in some crowds but its a small price to pay to take part in an interesting niche of personal expression.


i find it funny that in these times people have to clarify that they like art


Frightfully generic, a bit like saying I like food!

David Man

Great Post. I was in a similar boat and been thinking about getting a tattoo since my early twenties. It took me till late last year to get my first one now I’m in my late 30s…after much deliberation. I ended up with a dragon on one upper arm and a dog on the other, representing the Chinese zodiacs of my 2 sons. As I wear a suit to work, even with the sleeves rolled up, they are covered very nicely. I’m so happy with them and have not regretted them at all.


I have absolutely zero interest in getting a tattoo – yet this might be my favorite post you’ve ever written.


And I think the petty, snotty, and judgmental (“judgmental” in the most negative sense; obviously it’s not judgment PER SE that I’m, um, judging…) comments here should actually reinforce your decision to do it in a way.

True style should be a mix of aesthetics, self-expression, and true respect for the people around you, right? A man of style shows respect for decorum and aesthetic rules/principles but is not a slave to them. So the older I get (and I’m only 35, so TIFWIW), the more I think you only achieve true style once you decide which rules/principles you want to bend/break. Because no independent-minded person can possibly agree with every single rule. I haven’t done a close reading of your entire posting history, but is it fair to say that, for your part, you used to write more about principles/guidelines, whereas over time you’ve paid more attention at the margin to the more nuanced, self-expressive elements of the hobby? Learn the rules first, then decide where to bend them and all that.

So I see your growing interest in “workwear” (not my favorite term but we don’t really have a better one) – especially mixing workwear and tailoring – in that same vein (I’m thinking about your piece on high/low dressing, for example). I’m being imprecise but you get the idea.

At any rate, though, I think the tattoo takes it to a new level. It’s not something that “gents” who wear bespoke tailoring “do” – to say nothing of the risk you may be taking of turning off some elements of your readership/constituency – but you fucking wanted it and so you said fuck what other people think and got it. That’s more stylish – and a hell of a lot more interesting – than having precisely the proper trouser cuff height.


What does it mean for a tattoo to provide deep expression? It seems to me clothing, jewelry and the like primarily express “this is what I think looks good on my body.” Perhaps greater hermeneutic depth lies with the status, personality, social milieu some items connote, but these ideas are very much the kind of cultural associations whose shackles the author wishes to shed. The glimpses one usually takes of another’s outfits are surely not sufficiently piercing to let in more nuanced interpretation; any additional meaning rings like a faint cry in a dark night.

I like the tat. I think it looks good.


Interesting (if surprising) post Simon. I have to say that whilst I would not chose to express myself in this way, I totally respect your right (and desire) to do so. Like much of what you write, I relish the journey, particularly your motive, inspiration, etc and the fulfilment of your vision. I would add (slightly off topic) that I will also never commission a jacket like your purple L&L, but nevertheless I very much enjoy reading about the process. Keep doing what you’re doing – it’s good.


Personally, I deem it a terrible mistake. No mature gentleman (in mind) would willingly scar his body.

But such is my opinion only. Notwithstanding, you opinion just went down a notch in my book.


Sorry, but a very long explanation for a poor choice. Tattoos, esp. in the West, imho are ugly, it’s as simple as that.
Why? A tattoo impugns the purity of physical design that you inherited and did not invent, produce, manufacture or create. I can appreciate the rather naive art work (compared to some tattoos I have seen), but it really speaks of a lack of judgement. Firstly the historic connotation with sailors and the criminal classes but now the link to wannabe trend setters wherein poor ink work is ubiquitous. Culturally they can also be offensive.
Tattoos, in their South Pacific context, are a cultural rite of manhood, the initiate undergoing weeks of excruciating pain the result being a design that is emblematic of tribe and place. Each design has a cultural significance centuries old. The modern tattoo is often a design exercise in self-indulgence and, taken as a group, are subject to culturally meaningless and poor art work, and occasionally done in a state of inebriation.
Moreover, given modern technology, tattoos are completely void of the original test of courage.
I’ve spoken with friends who were considering same, usually when they felt a requirement to make a statement about who they are and what the stood for. Most decided against and found other ways within which to express their sentiments.
Nothing personal Simon, I wish to support your own positive journey through life. Respectfully, I just don’t believe this to be a positive choice.


I agree with a lot of it but it all depends on where the tattoo is located.

I have mine on my shoulder cup, it is not visible 90% of the time. It is perfect, and only for me ! And it should always be that way, they are a part of our own mystery.

There is nothing more vulgar than a calf or neck tattoo. Those are reflections of horrid judgement.


Why would anyone care if tattoos are considered offensive somewhere?
Also, a design is either ugly or it is not. Whether it exists in the West or not is irrelevant.

I’m not a fan of tattoos either, but there’s a strong hint of oikophobia in your comment.


“Moreover, given modern technology, tattoos are completely void of the original test of courage.”

Spoken assuredly like someone who has not had to sit through a long tattoo session in a sensitive area.


Hi Simon,
this call is such a surprisel. Like the design, like the place! Looking classy!
And I very much disagree on the ugly & indistinguishable posts. It might be very cliche for someone that a British man is into tailoring and shoe making and to others 10 people dressed with a sport coat are looking exactly the same while others talking three hours over how the buttonholes are being made. In the end it is all about the details and the personal taste and how you wear them (also tattoos)- not about looking like nobody else.
Of course there are ugly tattoos out there but this is for sure not one of them!
Have a great day everybody!

Tempal Marie

It’s a beautiful piece of art! I have 19 tattoos and regret none of them. In this day and age one would figure that there would be more acceptance of them, alas there are still those that see the tattoo instead of the person.


Hi Simon,
I think I’ve started reading PS quite at the beginning of its odyssey. Before reading this post I thought this one is certainly the funniest and the least expected so far!
For sure I knew that a tattoo could actually be hidden behind a bespoke DB or Bresciani socks! But that I would see it on you was really beyond my imagination!
By the way, since my childhood I’ve always seen women with tattoos.

Randy Ventgen

What does your family think?


This will restrict your travels to Japan. No more onsen for you!


Forgive me to make a serious reply, but please use
if you really look for.
(may refer to to take a look at the background in Japan)


Hahahaha, yes, this is genuinely the one reason that has kept me from getting a tattoo. Onsen are too vital to my happiness. Still, I think Simon certainly matched the design beautifully with his overall sense, and you cannot say it isn’t elegant and doesn’t, as it were, “fit the profile”. Besides, a little street cred never hurts in the rarified world of high-end clothing.


That’s right! I was just reading how the players in the World Rugby Tourney have to cover up their tats when they go out because the Japanese public associate tats with the yakuza.

Andrew Poupart

Good for you, Simon, and thank you for posting about the thought process behind your decision. I, for one, would be interested in more details around your artistic choices.

One of my daughters has multiple tattoos and it is clearly an important means of self expression for her and, by extension, for you. I think it is condescending to call it addictive. I tend to think of it more as though the first tattoo breaks the barrier and once that barrier is overcome, the ideas come flooding out. I’ll be interested to know if you find that happening to you.

Getting a tattoo is a deeply personal decision. More power to you.


I think we should all stop and reflect once on the notion of self expression: why does it seem so important, why is it the first thing that people invoke to justify their opinions and actions, and maybe, why does it all appear so vacuous and cliché as soon as you begin to look into it…


A lovely and timeless piece in a great spot. Congrats. All the best, S.

David G


Not looking forward to seeing the photos of your piercings.


I enjoy the juxtaposition of tailored/formal clothing next to a tattooed forearm. Bravo! Be careful though…tattoo, man bracelet, and a Rolex. That’s one ‘fashionable’ left arm.

Personally I just don’t have the balls to do it. I change my mind about everything…clothes, cars, watches, milk in my coffee. I know I’d get fed up of it and there’s nothing worse than a cover up job.

Wear it in good health!


It makes all the difference 🙂 Like anything, I think dismissing things we like, or that have personal meaning because of what others might perceive them to be would be a mistake. In some way, trying not to be fashionable is the same as trying to be fashionable.

Thinking about it, maybe the candy coloured, translucent bead bracelets that my daughter makes for me are pretty cool after all.


Will Ed Hardy and the Christian Audigier style make a comeback….tattoos on fabric…
without the VIF though (RIP).
The next phase could be elaborate stylish graffiti designs on apparels as a Lifestyle… watch this space.

Peter K

I like it and the way you put so much thought into it.

So many tattoos embrace dark or frightening imagery. There’s enough darkness in the world already, why do people choose to celebrate it with body art? Your choice of an image inspired by art that is significant to you is so much better.

I train in a martial art and a lot of my fellow practitioners have tattoos. The majority of them are fine people and have changed my opinion of people with tattoos.

As my hair continues to disappear I have (half) jokingly talked about having “hair” tattoed on my scalp.

Peter K

I forgot to add – what about designing pocket squares using this type of imagery?

There’s probably no gap in the market for pocket squares for you to fill but it would be another way to express yourself through art.


This is just beautiful! Great article – many thanks for sharing this with us!


I would love a post from you on faddishness (which I think you have slightly moved to over time) and vanity / self indulgence when it comes to aesthetics. I think you toe the line (as well as it can be toed to be fair, with a decent amount of grace), but probably only justified because you get into aesthetics professionally. But at what period is one being self indulgent and vain, versus taking pride, interest and self respect in presentation?
A very important question I think

Mark Hayes

I am a huge fan of your blog Simon. As a long-time horrible dresser who didn’t know or care about clothing, you have helped me understand:

1) that good style isn’t Dandyism, it’s a form of aesthetic awareness and expression,
2) that I didn’t look “cool” on the weekends, just sloppy and slouchy,
3) that my store-bought suits never actually fit me very well to my detriment, and
4) with a little thought and effort, I can make a much better impression on the world through my attire.

I’ll never be the connoisseur others who frequent this blog are, but I’ve come a long way thanks to your writing and instruction. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said approvingly of Joseph Conrad, “He bent my reluctant eyes upon the sea.”

So keep up the fine work!

With all that said, my first thought about this post is: Uh Oh! Eugene Ionescu’s “Rhinoceros” strikes again. 🙂


Thank you Simon for this interesting and personal article. You see a lot of people with quite heavy tattoos these days – sleeves, hands, necks, even faces. Is it a case of everyone copying everyone else because it’s trendy? The laws of imitation and all that. Or is there something latent and primordial going on for lots of people and it’s now more socially acceptable to express it?


Like you, I adore art & have recently ventured into the excitement of questioning whether to have a tattoo. When I turned 40, I thought why not! I think your design is stunning & beautifully executed. Also quite similar to mine, which is a dainty scroll design on my wrist.


Hi Simon, not a huge fan of tattoos, but I quite like yours both in terms of the design and the location (harks back to the tattoos of Agnelli and Luca di Montezimolo I think) and honestly Ben Philipps at Drakes looks super cool. I think his tattoos combined with the tailoring he wears send a very strong message of how actually wearing a suit and tie can be cool and countercultural, I little bit like not wearing a tie used to be 20-30 years ago.

On a side note have you ever come across Gianmaurizio Fercioni? I think he does the whole tailoring + tattoos thing really well and was wondering if you had any info as to who his tailor is?

Another Alex

I’m a bit surprised at how many people have described your decision as faddish, Simon. Regardless of one’s personal opinions towards tattoos, I feel the article effectively lays out the degree of consideration you’ve taken in coming to the decision to get your tattoo. I’m not sure how anybody could read that and come to the conclusion that you’re jumping on some sort of bandwagon.

My grandfather, who was in the military, had a tattoo of an anchor on his upper arm. When I asked him about it he told me getting it was one of his biggest regrets, but my impression was that it was a reminder of his experiences during the Second World War, a time that he rarely (if ever) discussed in any detail. He made no attempts to conceal it, although that may be due to having lived in Greece all his life and not wanting to suffer the sweltering summer heat by having to cover up his tattoo.

Brice Wilhelmi

This gives me, to quote David Foster Wallace, the howling fantods.

Rondell Humphreys

Wow. That’s a mutha of a tattoo Simon. I have been waiting over twenty years to get the perfect anchor tattoo- before my tricep gets wrinkly. One of your best and unexpected posts yet. Loved it.


Good afternoon Simon. You are right when you say that tattoos are a very personal things. When I was a child and adolescent you were different if you had tattoos now it would seem that you are different if you don’t.
I suppose the thing I don’t get is the tribal aspect of tattoos and are they just another conversation piece.
Nevertheless it is a beautiful piece of Artwork.

Eric G

Sic transit gloria mundi.


Think I might be the only woman that’s commented. I think it’s beautiful. My back & stomach are covered & my arms partially & a huge portrait of Kurt Cobain on my leg. In total 18 tattoos – yeah it’s permanent but who cares. Every tattoo I have has meaning & is my favourite till I get the next one!! This dilly dallying about deciding….


I get the feeling it’s an extension of you finding a new you since you took PS up as a full time living. Maybe that is indeed a mid-life crisis expressed in another way, or merely enjoyment of a new freedom to choose, untrammelled by office conventions. Your clothes reviews have moved largely to the casual sphere and the tattoo, while not something I’d want, is an interesting and geometrically attractive design. If you enjoy it, then go for it. At least it’s not flaunted like some people flaunt them.

Good to meet you yesterday, BTW. I hope the pop-up goes well.


When a man goes and gets a tattoo
There are some who will call him a fool
But I think the real test
Be it bum, arm or chest
Is a look that just seems extra cool


Hi Simon
Whilst an interesting post which is quite literally ‘Permanent Style ‘, I was non the less surprised to see it here. I have absolutely no issue with tattoos. Relatives and friends have some great examples. I just found it a little out of place and unbalanced in not describing the possible negative impacts of a tattoo(s) including:
1) Any trauma to the skin can lead to health risks.
2) It is permanent unless removed by expensive plastic surgery. When one (for example) buys an expensive item of clothing (etc.) , the worse that can happen is some wasted hard earned cash and perhaps an embarrassing photograph or two.
3) Tattoos can inhibit employment opportunities outside of possibly creative, sport and fashion industries. This bias may in many cases be unconscious and may seem unfair (which I would suggest it it) however it should be recognised.
The purpose of mentioning the above is purely in the interests of balance. Also to lend weight to your 5 year lead time in considering a tattoo.
Just one final point, one reason I don’t t have one, is that back in the sixties when I was growing up ( long before facial recognition!) as a teenager, my mother cautioned that if ever you are a wanted man, a tattoo makes you easier to recognise, which speaks volumes about my background!
As always best wishes.
P.S. the pop up shop looked very professional and busy when I visited last week.


Aha! Permanent Style, indeed!


I have been experiencing the same dilemma for about three years. I too was in the professional community, suit, tie, et cetera but I have struck out on my own, and my style has always had formality to it, but with tie pins, and the like. My work is in the arts now and I have been speaking to people about the art of tattoos, and the best places to attend for a consultation and also the possible ‘oh my God what have I done’ reaction that may set in. Well done you, I like the design and thank you for discussing it. Food for thought. I am nearer to taking the plunge now I have read your well reasoned article on this.


I have one on my shoulder cup.
It is a beautiful Celtic cross that I selected myself and took it to the ink master.
I have had it for over 10 years and I simply love it, it is part of my deeper soul and reflection of my faith.
I know we are not supposed to stamp our bodies, but I wanted to reflect my spirituality on my own flesh.

Tattoos , imho, are wrong if they are done to follow a fashion trend or fad. A good example can be observed in Tribal tattoos. Most of these cosmopolitan folks don’t know anything about them. It is not their identity.

Tattoos should always reflect a unique part of ourselves.


I’m seriously concerned that your judgment is damaged. I have been reading your posts with great enthusiasm, even though I may disagree from time to time I still respect and value your opinion. To me tattoos are so shallow. The sheer volume of morons covering themselves in ink solidifies my belief that the human race is so influenced classless demagogues. Even more concerning is the pride you have to share it with your readers. It may come across as shallow but so is the tattoo fade.

Peter O

Dear Simon,

I don’t understand your comment at the start: “I doubt anyone will have strong feelings about it at all.”

What you don’t mention is that – from what I have heard (only heard because I have never researched the theme, nor
have I encountered comments about tattoos by clairvoyants or spiritual scientists) is that the insertion of the ink
is a process which necessarily draws blood. After I heard that statement made by a woman who spoke about the occult background of tattooing and tattoos, I did remember to ask two persons if it were true. Strangely, they contradicted each other. It seems to be
that tattooing requires bleeding, correct?

Similar to the case of use of any kind of psychedelic substance, as used by ancient cultures (before the process of individuation as described by Owen Barfield expressed by language) for religious purposes,
tattooing was understood as connected to non-material reality. This aspect provokes questions regarding the difference between naive and critical as well as others.

Owen Eather

It is difficult to comprehend the tattoo as an element of increasingly debased concepts of “style”. If alleged style now emcompasses brown footwear worn with blue suits, this fad for voluntary disfigurement is almost inevitable. Once, tattos were the exclusive domain of Polynesian warriors, “colourful racing identities” and merchant seamen. Would that it were still thus.


If “brown footwear worn with blue suits” is too much for you, you must be apoplectic walking down the average high street… 😉


Hi Simon… I’ve intentionally not read the prior comments given the immensely emotive subject. Firstly well done, it took alot of thought and courage to go through with this. Whilst tattoos aren’t my personal choice I see the appeal and have passed by the wonderful Mo’s on many an occasion. I think your positioning of the artwork is perfect , on display with your tailoring choices, when you choose, but not hidden, for example, on the upper arm, where never to be seem. I think it also supports/encapsulates your transition to a more casual look. Thank you for adding another layer of warranted complexity to your blog!

Dave Carter

Given your commitment to permanent style and interest in how great things age, I’m surprised that you haven’t ostensibly considered how your tattoo will look in decades to come. They invariably smudge and spread, losing their sharp edges and definition. Colours fare worst, their vibrant tones fading into washed out shadows.

Alf Billingham

Hello Simon,

It’s been a while since I wrote to you, health issues have managed to disrupt life so having to prioritise was the order of the day, or in my case the last few years.

Your approach to wanting (maybe that should be needing) a tattoo isn’t that surprising. About 6 years ago I decided to have a tattoo after many months of reflection. I needed something philosophical, it was important to my perspectives that I find something that captured those things that are important to me. After much searching I found Rudyard Kipling’s summary of what matters, at least to me – ‘Success and failure are the same impostor’. I’ve had no regrets, it’s an extension of who I am and what matters to me.

The fact that you had something similar in mindmade me consider why people are drawn towards having a tattoo. As was said above, it can be addictive, and so far I’ve not chosen to have further statements or images added to this one tattoo, but as time goes on you may find that your tattoo is viewed as something central and essential to your own personality. It’s a stylish representation of many things that I also find integral to my formative years and you’ve chosen well I think.

It will be interesting to see how you feel a year or so from now.



One of my favourite posts because it is so personal…carefully considered, researched, detailed and executed. The result is a lovely design in the perfect location. The danger with a tattoo is that, over time, you start to want to add more….I know I do 🙂


Great tattoo and even greater insight into the thought and planning.
I am interested to know though, why if you are comfortable to follow through and get a tattoo, that if you had a different job then you may get it on the upper arm and not lower arm?

Is there still an element of doubt in your mind about the stigma from others?

I have upper arm tattoos and have thought for a number of years about getting them on my forearms but have always stopped short. Presently I could roll my sleeves up in the office on a hot day and they wouldn’t be seen. I’d obviously lose this if had them on my forearms hence interested in other people’s views on that?



I prefer the primitive “anchor” tattoo as worn by the cartoon character, Popeye.


Simon: congratulations – an interesting, thought provoking article as always. And it seems to have prompted more positive comments than you perhaps initially expected, which can only be a good thing.

The design appears to incorporate a heart. Was that a deliberate decision?


Very interesting if, as some say, a bit unexpected! Setting aside the aesthetic and sociocultural reasons you’ve outlined do you think maybe there is an element of life stage involved. So as you approach 40 maybe you are experiencing not so much a crisis as a sort of liberation (giving less of a damn about the opinions of others) that I’ve seen in friends of a similar age. I suppose this sort of liberation could be expressed in a more casual style, finally getting that tattoo, etc (or indeed giving up that job to go full time at PS). Will be interesting to see how this evolves. Separately and I’m not sure if it’s something other readers have noticed but it does seem to me that your style seems to be evolving into a more rugged and traditionally masculine direction – and tattoo and a more worked out figure seem to play into this perhaps.


Matt; cultural judgements about tattoos are worthy of consideration if you travel and do business overseas. Ugliness is a personal judgement based on personal aesthetics but it is relevant to consider the history of tattoos and their cultural value to different ethnicities. They have a deep cultural meaning to some and a superficial meaning to others. My views are based on foreign travel and living , for some considerable time, in other areas of the world; it has nothing to do with ‘oikophobia’ (which is rejection of the home or home appliances, though you may be referring to Roger Scruton’s definition but given that many do not have tattoos I don’t think this term to be applicable). I do believe there is sufficient documentary evidence to show that some tattoos are ill judged, done in an atmosphere of bravado and thus regretted later. The growing business of tattoos removal is proof of this.


Congratulations Simon! I have a couple of pretty big tattoos myself and went through all the same thought processes you describe. It’s been six or seven years since the last one and I regret nothing at all.

I think the key is living with the idea for a long while, as you did, and not doing anything on a whim. Just as with tailoring, there is a huge distinction between bad tattoos and good ones , not to mention bad artists and good ones. I’m sure you’ll be back for another. Enjoy!


Beautiful! The story, the design — everything. I find I’m also drawn to aesthetics everywhere, especially in architecture and clothing. I love how you used ironwork as an inspiration, it’s one of those things not many people notice or think about, but which is also fascinating to me. The idea of an artistic tattoo has always appealed to me, but like you the idea of being associated with, and following a crowd as always felt like a bit of a barrier, as well as the feeling that the design would have to be perfect. Thanks for sharing your story, it’s quite inspirational!


I hope this doesn’t come across as offensive, as I really like your work and enjoy reading the blog.

It has always seemed to me like the stereotypical combination of beard, tool/military watch, bracelets (always having deep personal meaning of course) and tattoos, often paired with a self-declared love for vintage sports cars, industrial design etc., that is so prevalent among style bloggers and fashion industry people, is a transparent coping mechanism to give a masculine edge to what otherwise could be (probably rightfully) perceived as an overly effeminate obsession with clothes and appearance.

I found the effect to be rather the opposite, just adding a layer of self-consciousness and narcissism, and also often crossing the thin line between self-expression and role-playing. I have always liked how you differentiated yourself from the world of style bros and iGents (like your wonderful rant about how you are not a liquor ad “gentleman”), and I hope this sophisticated tramp stamp doesn’t indicate that you have chosen a different path now.


I must say I’m surprised by the outright rudeness of some of the responses, by people who would no doubt unironically describe themselves as ‘gentlemen’.

You won’t let it bother you I’m sure, but still…


Thanks for your kind reply (and sorry for the “tramp stamp” – of course, I genuinely hope you enjoy your new tattoo!). And btw, I definitely like the tendency towards slightly more casual clothes – I (and I guess many other men) do sometimes find it difficult to dress sharp without looking overly formal or affected, and I am really looking forward to your coverage of the many interesting things that are going on in this direction.


….or maybe some of us have been watching too much ‘Game Of Thrones’….


A mistake in my opinion Simon, sorry to say. Takes you one step closer to Gentleman David Beckham. That might be a step in the right direction for some people but I think not for you.
I do not see how it aligns with your style. When I started reading PS I often shared opinions about it as to being bland, until it got through that it was fundamentally understatment and renunciation of flashy items for the benefit of harmony. A big sized visible tattoo feels inherently peacockish.
Interesting from my point of view is the process called “reflection” in other comments. You list a number of sensible reasons not to get a tattoo, finally you go for it on the grounds that they have become mainstream, even though you reject following the crowd. To me it sounds as if you wanted a tatoo from your gut and the process was not reflection but rationalization.
Art is a pleasure for the senses I agree. I would admire the Mona Lisa hanging on a wall but would not have it painted on the roof of my car or inked on my chest.
No offence meant. I feel though that you can take straightforward criticism. And of course thank you for not minding to expose personally to allow civilised debate on a controversial yet interesting issue.


I’ll confess I was pretty surprised when I first saw this post, but I really loved reading about the thought process you went through before getting a tattoo and, of course, it came as no surprise that it was a well-considered decision. I would love to hear more about some of the artistic considerations, etc that led to the final design. I also think it looks great, and I applaud the boldness of getting something so big and distinctive for your first one!

Personally I never used to like tattoos, until I fell in love with a girl who is into them. I was genuinely blown away by the level of skill and artistry among tattoo artists and I can definitely see the appeal now. Of course there are bad tattoos and poor decisions, just as there are with clothes, but that doesn’t mean the whole concept should be dismissed. Haven’t taken the plunge myself yet as I’m not convinced it would suit me, and I do have some concerns on how it will age – interesting to hear you were advised to avoid getting anything without too much detail. I really like some of the very intricate single-needle designs, but I guess they have a limited lifespan..?

Sachin Mayi

I have nothing against tattoos, though they are not my preference, but one of my favorite quotes from an Italian comedian when asked if he had any tattoos replied. “I wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari.” On a more interesting note, is that a Rolex Sub you are sporting?


One of the many things I enjoy about your musings is the considerable thought you give to matters that, on the surface, seem mundane. I recently got my first tattoo at 55 years old, a choice I agitated over for a year. I wanted something to memorialize my late wife, and have been very happy with the result. I went through many of the same thought processes/worries you did, but in the end having it done just “felt right”. Kudos.


One aspect of tattoos that always catches my attention is that, a visible tattoo on a physically fit person (like Simon) always looks more appropriate than it would on a non-fit person. I don’t believe it’s fair – but the eye doesn’t lie.


In response to Robert’s comment, I’m reminded of the cynical remark of a colleague, who reckons overweight or ugly people get tattoos to lessen their insecurities and fit people get them because they have illusions of being a porn star. Well I suppose Simon is peddling clothes porn, and don’t we love it!


I like your blog and will continue reading it, but I was saddened by this post. I hadn’t expected that you’d jump on the bandwagon. At least it wasn’t a tribal…


Thanks for posting this Simon!

The post itself is interesting, but I find the commentators here to the thing that boggles my mind.

While there’s certainly no accounting for taste, you’d at least hope that people who follow a blog ostensibly all about art and craftsmanship would be able to find a common link, even within an art form that they happen to dislike.

Lots of people being very snobby about the “type” of people they think get tattoos, I guess they don’t understand the long historical context of the British upper classes who got tattooed during their Navy careers.


Sorry Simon, but your usual excellent taste and good judgement for some reason deserted you with this tattoo business. Perhaps one day you’ll have the good sense to visit a qualified dermatologist and have it removed. I certainly hope that you don’t double down on your error and get another one. Personally, I’ve advised my children not to get involved with anyone of the opposite sex who has a tattoo or, even worse, multiple ones. I commend you for having the guts to write about it, but it was a poor decision.


I shudder to think what VSF would think if one of their children got involved with someone of the SAME sex who has tattoos or, even worse, multiple ones.

Perhaps next up, a discussion on any potential causation between head shape and propensity to commit a crime :). Seems about equally valid.


Of course you disagree and I understand that, but actions have consequences and you know that. By many of the comments on this thread it’s very clear that a number of your readers were dismayed by your decision.


No shuddering is necessary Danny. My children are completely heterosexual I’m happy to say,so that kind of conversation is completely unnecessary.


As you request, I will certainly stop. I do hope you realize that your accusations, perhaps insinuation is a better word, are patently absurd and insulting. I shall say no more.


You would have been better off if you had stopped after the first comma. However, your continued attack requires a response. I’ll refer you back to what I actually wrote, quote: “I’’ve advised my children.” Nowhere did I say that I wouldn’t let my children see someone with tattoos. They are legal adults and can do what they want. I’ve advised them in this manner because I believe that getting tattooed indicates a potential judgment problem which must be addressed and understood. Intolerant? No,seeking understand, yes.
Before you imply that a reader may be homophobic perhaps you should actually look up the definition of phobia. “An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.” Your leap to homophobia is a logical fallacy known as a non sequitur and is simply ridiculous. Nowhere in my comments was homosexuality mentioned; you just made it up.
So, my comments were in no way meant to be bigoted or homophobic, just factual. I will accept your apology along the lines of the first phrase. We can then move forward in a more productive manner or not, it’s up to you.


I doubt it was your intention VSF, but you certainly seem to be living up to being the type of person I was criticising in my original comment.

The reality, whether you choose to accept it or not, is that tattoos are now commonly accepted (barring extreme cases) in the professional world in the West.

You may believe that having a piece of art in your skin indicates a lack of judgement but thankfully for those of us with tattoos, your views are not a reflection of those of society at large.


Simon, I am so sorry. I didn’t at all intend for you to have to deal with this type of back and forth when I wrote my comment. I should know better than to rile up strangers on the internet.

I love the tattoo by the way, and the obvious level of care and geekiness that went into it’s design. It’s a tragedy to think anyone’s children would be advised not to get involved with someone like you 😉


Danny, that is an excellent idea and realization on your part and one that I wholeheartedly agree with. Now I responded to your original comment in good faith, but unfortunately a big hullabaloo ensued which was not my intention of course. However, being referred to in some manner as bigoted and homophobic required, and always will, a response. I’m sure you understand that. I will say that I find your continued comments a bit on the passive aggressive side. You don’t know me, nor I you, so may I suggest stopping the passive aggressive trolling going forward. How about we get back to discussing clothing and sartorial ideas. These are things we both enjoy, regardless of opinions about tattoos. That’s my plan anyway and I hope you’ll join me.


Firstly, I would like to thank you for the amazing and informative blog of men’s clothing. For your mission of education.
Secondly, I sincerely admire your actions! This decision is worthy of a man with great inner strength.
Thirdly, do not pay attention to the ripples that occur, the dog barks, the caravan continues. Per aspera ad astra.
From Russia with love)


To add something to this uncontroversial comment section: What is your opinion on the other popular trend regarding body modification, i.e., plastic surgery? Would you ever consider correcting your eyelids or something like that? Do you have a general opinion on people (in particular men) who do such stuff?


I think you cant generalise like that, some men have disfigurements, especially facial ones which can be made to look more ‘normal’. There are of course also people who just want to change what is within the bounds of ‘normality’ but want to refine or change their appearance for aesthetic reasons. Then there is a huge grey area of men who fall in between those two. I dont think we can write off all these men as being ‘shallow’ for wanting to have what may be considered ‘normal’ features. That too on a site where men obsess about whether to have single or double pleats or the rise of their trouser or whether loafers are too casual for a suit.


Yes, interesting, I share your instinctive feeling but wouldn’t be able to argue the case. E.g., it seems quite arbitrary that fixing our teeth is seen as completely normal, but fixing a weird nose isn’t. I assume a lot of plastic surgery goes unnoticed anyways (must be the case if you look at the numbers), so in the end it feels like it comes down to there being tasteful and non-tasteful procedures similar to haircuts and beard styles, but not a categorical difference.

Where do I find the discussion about body building? Are you pumping iron now :)?


I think that a sensible point at which to draw that line you mention is plastic surgery which is extreme, unnatural or excessive in nature. Most plastic surgeons are aiming to do the opposite of this which is to create a natural looking appearance. The unnatural plastic surgery done I would suggest is a tiny fraction of what is being done. Perhaps far less than a fraction of a 1% I estimate. Its just all the normal subtle plastic surgery that all this is hidden by its very nature. Its not something people really talk about in the West. I mention this as in some places such as Iran showing someone your nose job or in Turkey showing your hair transplant is quite acceptable and nothing to be embarrassed about.


One thing I’ve noticed that’s becoming more common is men wearing some form of makeup. Personally I hope this modest trend stops.

Jennifer Marie Goldstraw

Love it. I too just got my first tat at 53. I was the same, a lot of thought and research went into it. Well done! We are now officially in the club x?


Hi Simon, something of a personal question… How do you feel your tattoo has aged? I’ve long considered one myself, but feel I would get bored or ignore it over time. Are you still happy with the design or are there elements you would change?



I think this really encapsulated my journey into getting one and thank you for sharing.

I think anyone that is interested in one needs to think long and hard about the factors you have outlined above in addition to:

1. Placement and kind of tattoo (never get an impulse one, research your artists, think about items that have significance to you)

2. Views from close friends, partners and family

3. Career implications (if any)

I suppose 2 and 3 are somewhat related to your point on stereotypes and associations with tattoos.

I’ve always been enamored with the juxtaposition of the well dressed gentlemen with the rebellious tattoo art. Mo and yourself look amazing with it.

Whilst we don’t share the same affinity of art style, the tattoo that you have looks incredible. I’ve recently started my tattoo journey as I approach my 30s. The final goal is a 3/4 sleeve ending halfway (or slightly more) around the forearm. Right now, only the outer bicep is done but I am in love with it. It took me about 4-5 years to get there as well.

There is a lot of controversy on this and I probably won’t be able to change any opinions. You are entitled to your opinion. But, for my two cents:

1. Tattoo artists have come a long, long way in terms of hygiene, skill and care.

2. Social perceptions and assumptions change with fashion, why can’t the same be said with body art?

3. If it’s a coverable piece, why should your opinions about a person change pre and post tattoo?