Mohair cardigans and Rubato chinos

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These chinos are the Rubato ones I’ve asked them to reissue, which will be available exclusively in the PS pop-up shop on Savile Row next week. 

They’re not exactly the same as the originals, which were a single pleat where this is a flat front - the Officer’s Chino model I’ve reviewed previously

But it’s the same in every other respect, and the colour is the important thing - a surprisingly dark brown, rather smart, and particularly nice with neutrals like white, cream and black, as well as menswear standards like navy and grey. 

It’s a colour I wear a lot already with the charbrown flannel from Fox (eg here) so I already knew I'd get a lot of wear out of them. 

When Rubato and I started talking about doing something for the pop-up, I was keen to do these chinos because I wear my other ones so much, but missed out on the brown. 

They agreed to reissue them, albeit with some compromises. Their chinos are all made with a button front now and I prefer a zip; but I can live with that. And as mentioned in the past, I slim mine down to a 20cm bottom when I get them, from the 22.5cm they come with (in a size 48). But I know others prefer the wider leg.

And it’s worth it to get my favourite smart chino in such a unique colour. They’re fairly limited - around 25 pairs - so if you’re interested, worth getting to Savile Row next week to have a look.

The pop-up runs from Wednesday, April 20 to Saturday, April 23, at The Service on Savile Row - featuring Rubato, Ludovic Lunetier, Jake’s Shirts, Bentley’s Antiques and of course PS. All details here

There will be welcome drinks on the Wednesday evening from 5pm, so do come along then if you fancy a glass of something.

Returning to the chinos, the hard right-hand twill does feel a bit stiff to start with. The dyed colours like khaki and brown in particular.

But I’ve found they soften after three or four washes, and that extra, dense weave is worth it for a great feel in the long run. 

The khaki colour also has a bit of a sheen at first, which softens over those first few washes. I don’t know the technical reason for this (any fabric nerds, please let me know) but it’s the case with many dense cottons, including the more workwear-inspired ones. 

In fact I got a pair of Freewheelers ones from Son of a Stag last year, and lovely as they are, the sheen is only starting to go after about 10 washes. 

I’ve pictured the chinos here with two cardigans - a style I find I wear a lot these days, given I’m still working from home a lot and not wearing a jacket as much.

The oatmeal-coloured one above is from Connolly, but I'll talk about that in our regular ‘Spring Top 10’ piece next week, so I won’t go into details now. 

The other cardigan, however, is worth exploring. 

It’s a mohair knit from The Real McCoy’s, which I was rather unsure about when I first got it: I was sold on the material, but the style was a little unusual.

The material grabbed me as soon as I picked it up. 

The long, raised fibres - the fluffiness - probably comes across in these images. What won’t show is how dense and heavy it is. It feels soft, spongey, with an amazing substance and warmth. 

Mohair cardigans (old and new) usually use a yarn comprising a nylon or polyester core, with mohair spun around it. The McCoy’s version uses a wool core instead, with the knit then hand-rolled to lift the hairs and create that fluffy surface.

The result has real heft in the hand, but isn’t heavy when worn - it feels more like it’s hugging around the body. 

The mohair, though soft, is a bit scratchy. It’s fine over a shirt, but I wouldn’t wear it over just a T-shirt (as most of the modern ones are styled). 

I know there will be some that’ll question buying an expensive cardigan that’s ‘a bit scratchy’. But to be looking at clothes like this at all, you’ve really got to be in love with materials - what they can be, how they are made, how the resulting clothes can feel and drape. I certainly am, and this one is beautiful.

Now the style. Mohair cardigans have a fairly long history, with their first spike of popularity in the 1960s. But that was largely among women, and most today will know them from Kurt Cobain in the 1990s - or, if you’re younger, from the recent trend created by Marni, Needles and others.

The heritage is Ivy; they feel naturally more casual and grungy; but the current vogue is to dress them up, albeit in stronger colours. 

Over the time I've been wearing this one, I’ve found that it's too casual for shirts and tailored trousers. The cut is a factor - the low neck and straight body are very different from sartorial-type cardigans.

It’s also too stark a colour for my casual default of mid-blue jeans. The other stronger colours of mohair, like Jelado’s mustard, would be better there. 

Instead, it’s best with dark denim and flannel/chambray shirts, or with chinos and an oxford shirt as pictured here. 

And no, there’s no sensible reason to have both this cardigan and this alpaca one. Other than to try both and write about them.  

The loafers are full straps from Alden in Color 8 cordovanThe belt is alligator, also from Rubato. 

The shirt is a white PS Oxford, while the socks are (short) charcoal wool from Trunk.

All details on the pop-up here. Looking forward to seeing everyone next week.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson

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SamS

I think releasing these chinos only for a pop-up is borderline cruelty! While flying to London to pick up a pair of chinos WOULD be a story, it’s a bit too wasteful even for me. Maybe if they sell out really fast Rubato will re-release them for the public…

Speaking of Rubato, any chance of writing something of their new denim? I figure They would be eager to show them off during the event. The ecru ones look like they could be a hit for the summer.

Anon

Very nice cardigan, reminds me of J. Press Shaggy Dog sweaters. The texture of both can add a very interesting depth to casual outfits.

BB

Hey Simon,
Yes, how could you forget Shaggy Dogs!
I have been wearing cardigans since forever not following fashion as always.
Have you ever done a comprehensive feature on them?
They are so versatile.
Now Rubato Ecru Denim got me salivating … any preview photos of what they look like? Thanks

Gab

Hi Simon, do you know if our Rubato friends intend to propose this model for sale online eventually?

BB

Simon,
Perhaps … one day …
PS Interiors? The clothes are sublime too.

Steve D

Can I please buy a pair of the chinos and have them shipped to me in the US?

Henry

Also intersted in a pair, please let us know in case they will be available to order.

Steve D

Thanks. If a size 36 remains, I’m in.

MBB355

Do you think these Anglo-Italian trousers fit the same bill as the Rubato ones in this article? Cold, dark brown chinos:

https://angloitalian.com/products/garment-washed-flat-front-cotton-trouser-tobacco

David

How do you get your cordovan shoes almost black? Do you use black cordovan cream when you polish them?

Jan

My Alden colour 8 cordovan tassel loafers from 2014 aren’t nearly as dark as these – here is a very clear purple / red coming through, which I like. I guess not every batch is the same

Morrison

Very nice. Do you know if they’ll also be selling the Officer Chino in ivory and/or khaki?

Rob

Simon, For those of us at the moment not living in the UK or London, will there be another method of purchase or to even see if the fit works? Thank you.

SK

Who can we email to let us know if there are leftovers after the pop-up has ended?

Yash

Hi Simon,
The colour looks delicious!
Any idea on the pricing of these at the pop up?
Thanks.

Robert

I join the chorus of those urging Rubato to produce a full run of their dark brown chinos!

The mohair cardigan reminds me of the alpaca cardigans that were popular in the sixties (but without the shaggy effect). They were lightweight, warm, and didn’t wrinkle.

About the dark color of the Horween cordovan, on a visit to his shop when he remarked on my loafers, Charlie Davidson told me that he used to put black polish on cordovan shoes so they wouldn’t fade.

Ian Skelly

can anyone recommend a pair of off white slim fit tapered chinos that aren’t slightly see through?

Neil

Hi, what colour shoes would you recommend with a dark brown trouser like this? Dark brown suede too similar perhaps?

Martins

Why do I have a feeling ill finally order brown corduroy trousers after reading this?

zo

Please include suggestions for shoes for brown suits too!

Jan

Black suede, dark cordovan and sand / biscuit coloured suede if you go light on the top, are my go to options with this..

Ai

Hi Simon,

Hope everything is well. Great content to digest as per usual.

Could you recommend me a manufacturer of a good chino for someone quite small 5 ft 9 and pretty skinny?

I seldom wear chinos due to the fact that I find them either too skinny (I loathe skinny trousers) or too boxy which makes them look as if I’m wearing a big rice bag.

I’ve exhausted lots of options and perhaps there just isn’t any left to try on.

I’m also looking for them to be pleated as I appreciate the volume they add for my small frame.

Best,

A

Ai

I was in the market for more smarter ones. Drake’s do not do chinos, at least the last time I popped in there around four months ago. I do believe the salesman did say they were looking to bring some out, so I will check again. I am quite familiar with a lot of makers and stockists and those you mentioned have all been tried.
By the way, I don’t have a budget on this so I am open to pay pretty much anything, if there was a bespoke option I would take it on.
Still, never mind – I shall keep hunting.

James

Yet another chino question — should inquiries about potential leftovers go directly through Rubato? Quite interested in size 46 but am US-based.

Craig

The color combination of oatmeal vest, white shirt and brown trousers is just great.

Jim Bainbridge

I love a v neck cardigan. It’s deeply personal of course, but while I like shawl collars too, they’re so luxurious and relaxed that I don’t feel as smart in one; whereas I don’t feel the same way about a v neck.
I’d have to draw the comparison with brushed Shetland as well – the texture of the mohair is lovely. There aren’t enough options for cardigans in this style that are substantial enough to wear as a top layer, IME.

Jack

Hello Simon, would you say brown chinos can be a versatile colour? Other than black, cream or white, which different colours would you suggest?

Many thanks,
Jack

Jack

Thanks, Simon, I thought brown doesn’t match well with navy after reading ‘What are the best knitwear colours under tailoring’. Maybe was that only for knitwear and tailored jacket?

J. Girdwood

The lasting sheen on the chinos would be from the mercerised cotton. I’ve had chinos in Japanese mercerised cotton before and it gives a much more pronounced and long-lasting effect in both look and feel than starched finishes on regular cottons.

Steve D

Love the black cardigan/white OCBD/brown chinos. Couldn’t afford the mohair cardigan but picked this up, very nice with grosgrain backing on each side of the buttons and buttonholes; nice MOP smoke buttons.
https://oconnellsclothing.com/oconnells-scottish-lambswool-cardigan-black-ch01654-1.html
Hope the Rubato brown chinos become available soon. In the meantime, my older charbrown odd flannels are making due.

Jack

Hi Simon, have you slimmed down the thighs like the other pair of ivory chinos you own?
Many thanks,
Jack

Jack

Yes, but in your previous article, ‘RUBATO OFFICER’S CHINOS: REVIEW’, you mentioned that you narrowed the thighs from 33.5cm to 32cm. I was wondering if you did the same for this pair of trousers as they are flat fronted.

Jack

Sorry, I misunderstood.Could I ask what type of alteration you have done for the hems? e.g. original bottom

Jack

Thanks, Simon.

Rupesh Bhindi

Hi Simon,
Would the brown chinos work with sports jackets or would you say a tailored pair would be more ideal?

Ming

Hi Simon,
Very nice cardigan and would like to get one on-line. I have checked both Japan and global website, but the size measurement are quite different. May I know the size you pick and what size you normally wear for suit jacket? Thank you very much.

Jack

Hi Simon, when you iron the rubato chinos, do you make crease lines? Although, from the photos above, I don’t think they don’t seem very prominent.

Many thanks,
Jack