Reader profile: David
This is the second in our series of articles meeting, and questioning, Permanent Style readers.
The first profiled Manish, who enthused about Russian watches and recommended that readers should start building a wardrobe with good trousers. It's worth a read, for the outfits as well as the comments, here.
Today we meet David, an Australian now living in London, and hear about setting a clothing budget, as well as how things have changed post-lockdown.
Outfit 1: Casual
Here I'm wearing a (very old) striped oxford shirt from PJohnson, a linen overshirt from Drakes and cotton trousers from Stòffa. On the feet are sneakers from Common Projects.
Are those brands you particularly identify with?
I think I identify most with Saman Amel and Stòffa. To me, they have complimentary aesthetics and bridge the gap between the formal and casual in a way that feels relevant and tasteful.
It helps that both teams have been tremendous at getting to know me and giving me advice on what will work best. That way, I can pair a Saman Amel jacket with a pair of Stòffa trousers. Or a piece of Saman Amel knitwear with Stòffa outerwear.
Do you have any style icons, historical or current?
Most of the people I look to for inspiration are either currently in the industry or enthusiasts on Instagram. There are too many to name, but I think Andreas Weinas, Gustaf (@Gusvs9), Ethan Newton and Peter Zottolo all have great style. Jamie Ferguson brings a lot of fun and humour to his photography that I really enjoy.
What money-saving tip would you have for other readers?
It's probably trite, but setting a clothing budget for the year can be helpful. In the past, I've listed the items that I've wanted along with the likely price. The process of prioritising them helps me think about why I want a particular item of clothing and how I'll combine it with others in the wardrobe.
This helps maintain some level of discipline. Sometimes items will move onto the budget for the next year and that's ok.
How much time do you spend thinking about what to wear the next day?
Unless there's a special event happening the next day, I would normally choose what I'm going to wear on the day itself.
Most of the decision seems to revolve around whether I'm going to wear a jacket or not. That helps me refine my choice of shirt, trousers and shoes, and I try to have a core set ready to go that can be mixed and matched with one another to keep the decision time down. If I'm going into the office, it would usually be a suit or a smarter combination of jacket and trousers. A trip to the pub might be an oxford shirt, denim and sneakers.
Outfit 2: Semi-formal
Saman Amel made the navy jacket here, and it's paired with a navy popover from PJohnson, light-grey wool trousers from Stòffa and suede loafers from Crockett & Jones.
Do you think you spend a lot of money on clothes?
Yes, I think so. Certainly more than most in my social circle. While I get a lot of value from the clothes I buy, it's important for me to keep other priorities and hobbies in some kind of perspective.
These days, I try to think twice and imagine the various ways that I'll wear something before I put the money down. I'm not always able to avoid the occasional impulse purchase, but it usually means that I've thought about an item for a while before I actually move ahead with it. The good news is that most of the clothes I buy I keep wearing consistently, so maybe the process is working.
What do you spend most, and least, money on?
I'm going to say I spend the most on jackets; the experience of having one made and the look and feel of the final product is really enjoyable.
In recent years, I'd say I've spent the least on shoes. I have a few old pairs - black and brown oxfords, suede chukka boots - that keep finding their way into the rotation. As long as I maintain them and have the soles replaced every now and then, I'm able to keep using them and that really increases their value.
What job do you do, and how does that interact with what you wear?
I work in marketing at a financial services firm. While I don't deal directly with clients very often, I do wear suits to the office most days. Fairly early in my career I became interested in picking suits and shoes that helped me look professional without standing out.
When I moved from Sydney to London five years ago, I suddenly had access to a wider range of options and quickly started expanding to casual jackets, trousers and knitwear that I could wear at the end of the week and into the weekend.
One of the better choices I made (entirely by accident) was sticking to cold colour tones across almost everything I'd buy. That meant that I could combine a variety of different clothes from casual to formal without anything looking too out of place.
Outift 3: Formal
This grey suit is from Atelier Saman Amel and I'm wearing it with a shirt from Luca Avitabile, a tie from Vanda Fine Clothing and a pocket square from Viola Milano. Loake made the black oxfords, Trunk Clothiers provided the raincoat and the sunglasses are from Cubitts.
How does your partner view what you wear?
I think she quite likes most of what I wear, especially a dark suit or a navy jacket if we're going out to dinner, an event or a date. She has great taste and sometimes provides input on styles and cloth choices for me that have worked out well.
How do your friends?
It doesn't really come up in conversation, but that could be down to the kind of clothing I wear when I'm out with friends. I aim to wear something relevant for the situation, so the hope is that when I wear a jacket out to a dinner, or an oxford shirt to a weekend gathering, I don't stick out.
Everything tends to be a little more casual when I'm visiting friends in Australia due to the climate and the more relaxed culture; I'll wear a jacket and trousers in the cities but denim (or shorts) and sneakers when I'm travelling around. It doesn't attract much attention as a result.
Have you changed how you dress since the pandemic began? How?
I've definitely been dressing more casually over the past eighteen months or so. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started working from home full time and had no need of suits and ties. I started wearing chunky knitwear in place of a jacket and denim with sneakers more often.
Once the most recent lockdown ended here in the UK, the jackets and formal shoes came back into the rotation but I'm still wearing ties less often. I'm guessing longer-term I'll be dressing a little more casually than I did before, but that might allow me to experiment more with other styles and influences that I haven't considered.
How long have you been reading PS? What do you like about it?
I started reading Permanent Style fairly regularly about six or seven years ago. It was only when I moved to London and needed some guidance on brands that I started going through many of the articles.
The 'Building a wardrobe' series is great; it helped me prioritise purchases and avoid a few expensive mistakes. I also found the 'How to dress like...' series an interesting and insightful look at how everyone involved developed their style.
What's your biggest tip for other readers in terms of building a wardrobe?
I've found that brands and tailors that are able to give good style advice are particularly valuable. It's not always easy to imagine how a swatch of cloth will look when made into a suit or trousers, and the wrong choice might mean a garment that you don't ever wear.
If they're willing to invest the time, have a conversation and get to know you first, they can get a better sense of what's right for you and quickly hone in on a small selection of options. Their advice should only improve over the course of the relationship and this should hopefully translate into clothes that you want to keep wearing time and again.