Reader profile: Manish
Sometimes I feel a bit envious of brands holding trunk shows, because they meet so many more PS readers than I do.
I see people at occasional events, and of course the pop-ups once or twice a year, but that's about it.
So one of the nice things about starting this series was just chatting to people like Manish - about what clothes they buy, which they don't, and how their style has changed in the past 18 months.
That, of course, is also the benefit for other readers. These articles should provide a different perspective to my own - from people not in the industry, from different places and professions.
We'll try to keep to one a month or so, and keep them regular. I hope you enjoy the first installment.
Outfit 1: Casual
"Here I’m wearing Crockett & Jones Harvard loafers and W. Bill linen trousers from City tailors Graham Browne.
The shirt is an old Uniqlo-Christophe Lemaire collaboration, cost twenty-five quid, is thick with sweat, ice cream and beer by the end of each Summer and still gets more love from friends than any of my tailoring! If Hemingway had gone into the ice cream business I think he would have worn this shirt.
Do you think you spend a lot of money on clothes?
I don’t have any super-expensive bespoke tailoring, but yes, I think I do spend a lot of money and I think it’s important to acknowledge that so I appreciate how lucky I am to be in that position, and to remind myself to take care of the things I have bought.
I would add that, like many of your readers, clothing for me is more than just about looking good. It is also a passion and so maybe it’s better to compare what I spend on clothes against what others spend on their interests - for example following a football team home and away isn’t cheap either.
What job do you do, and how does that interact with what you wear?
I work in financial services in Canary Wharf and it’s a curious sartorial landscape. The vast majority of men are in ‘business casual’ which generally means a shirt and trousers, and the balance are in suit and tie.
The mid-ground – which I would assume to include jacket and trousers – is hardly ever seen and would be considered more dandy than a suit and tie, which I don’t feel is the case in most other working environments.
Pre-pandemic I would wear a suit and tie to the office every day, and that wasn’t really about style (although, of course, it wasn’t not about style either). It was mainly about having a uniform that was easy to pull together and expressed my intent for the day.
However, once I do go back to the office I am going to try and sit in the mid-ground a little more and wear a jacket and trousers. I sense that everyone’s views on work have been pulled into very different shapes over the last eighteen months, so it will be fascinating to see how people respond with their office attire.
Outfit 2: Semi-formal
I’m wearing penny loafers from Morjas and a shirt from Yuri & Yuri. The linen trousers are from Stoffa. I remember when I was being fitted for them it was the first time somebody had been bold enough to squeeze their fingers through my love handles to locate the top of my hips. The result is a pair of trousers that rest comfortably on the lip of the hip all day long.
The linen work jacket is from Anderson & Sheppard and I waited patiently for 18 months for that thing to go on sale on Mr Porter. When it eventually did it was only available in a medium and I was hoping to get a small, but over the years the jacket has worn in beautifully and now I’m so happy I’ve got the slouch and comfort of the bigger size.
What do you spend least money on?
I spend the least on watches, which is largely because I know sod all about calibers, crowns, cogs and crystals. I’m sure if I did I could quite easily get sucked into a horological black hole and want to buy expensive timepieces but for now, I’m really happy digging through eBay and Instagram for old Russian watches.
In the 60s and 70s, the Russian watch industry was making watches for both the domestic market and for foreign companies like Sekonda, so it’s not too hard to find vintage stock that is robustly made for a good price – I have six that all cost less than £60 each. My favourite maker is Raketa (meaning Rocket) not least because in Cyrillic the letter ‘R’ looks like a ‘P’ so more than one person has glanced at my watch and assumed I’m wearing a Patek.
How long have you been reading PS? What do you like about it?
I dug back through the archives to try and answer this question and it was late 2013/early 2014. What I like, and I think this is especially true of the last three or four years, is how you’ve been exploring the tension within the title and underlying credo of the site: Permanent Style.
How do those definitions expand and contract over time? How does something we once considered permanent transition to impermanent and vice versa? Is it possible to have a ‘permanent’ part when the ‘style’ part is so subjective?
I think the main reason that the site has been able to explore those broader questions is that you’ve never gotten too bogged down in dogma and have championed using the PS platform to explore and discuss things that I never thought would be covered when I started reading back in 2013. I’m thinking of articles like Tony Sylvester’s superb series of recent columns, the increased coverage on casual wear and highlighting other people’s styles that aren’t straight-up classical menswear.
Outfit 3: Formal
I’m wearing Alden tassel loafers, a Bryceland’s Oxford shirt and a cashmere tie from Drake’s factory store - may it rest in peace. The jacket has been made up in a Fox Brothers tweed and both it and the trousers are from The Anthology.
I wear a lot of my tailored jackets with black shoes, charcoal trousers and white shirts. The intellectual reasoning for this is that I like a contrasting gradient that leaves lighter colours nearer my face, plus I have dark skin and a dark beard (although that is whitening with each passing day) and so I find a white/cream shirt very pleasing.
However, I genuinely think the real reason for this mode of dressing is that it has just been ingrained in me as a boy by the different school uniforms I had to wear, all of which were as above but just topped with a polyester blazer.
What's your biggest tip for other readers in terms of building a wardrobe?
For those readers that are just starting out, I would advise taking it slow. Sadly life isn’t like a Hollywood makeover and any headlong dives into changing up the wardrobe will probably end up with you looking and feeling a little phoney.
Work with what you’ve got as a base. If you’re a jeans and T-shirt guy that’s cool! Maybe just trade up those jeans to start with and then in time the favourite band T-shirt gets rotated with one that doesn’t smell of Lynx Java (which is what all of my old band T-shirts still smell of).
For those that have a base, I would say trousers, trousers, trousers. Jeans are fantastic but so limiting. Jackets are the crowning glory but, in my view, you can still look sharp without them. But trousers? Once you have a few pairs of versatile and well-fitting trousers in the wardrobe it’s like when Dorothy opens the door in The Wizard of Oz – everything turns to technicolour.
How does your partner view what you wear?
With lust in her eyes! Seriously though my partner Gemma is so unbelievably supportive. I think a lot of us have been in positions where we’ve had to play down how much we’ve bought or what we’ve spent to people close to us, ‘Yes darling, I couldn’t believe Drake’s had another sale with all clothes in my size on heavy discount. And so soon after the last sale too.’
So I feel very lucky to be with someone who not only tolerates but actively encourages my interest. I think it also helps massively that she is a talented home sewer (@sewersaurus) and so we enjoy talking about cloth and construction - she’s always taking a look at how my seams are finished on different garments.
It’s wonderful to have an overlap in interests and I’m trying my damnedest to expand that overlap by getting Gemma to make clothes for me. I’ve got two beautiful camp collar shirts so far and I’m nudging/nagging her into making me a quilted vest for winter but her waitlist is longer than Sartoria Corcos!
What do you worry about most in terms of what you wear?
I think the last time we talked, Simon, was at an event that you hosted for Saman Amel – another brand that I have so much time and respect for. At the event, Dag said something insightful, in that supremely casual manner of his, which was about how the challenge for a lot of their customers was to be ‘elegant but relevant.’
I think I’m getting a little better at the first part of that statement, but if there’s anything I do worry about it’s about trying to fulfil the second part.
Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt
Manish is @the_daily_mirror on Instagram