The Spring Top 10: Fun, paper and lavender

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It’s that time of the year again. Brands have been receiving all the spring clothing they ordered last year, even though they weren’t quite sure whether it would arrive, or be swallowed by an unexpected lockdown. 

So rejoice, there are new ideas and cuts and cloths, all pitching to be part of the new season’s wardrobe. These are eight of my favourites. As ever, nice to hear yours too. 

LEJ Cinch Back Blouson

£645

Luke Walker is a designer readers will know even if they don’t realise it, as he freelanced for Drake’s for several years, before turning his full attention to his own brand, LEJ. 

The brand straddles fashion and classic menswear very effectively, using classic materials but sometimes in unexpected colours, like this blouson in lilac cord or apple-green ventile. And the pieces are all very well thought-out, with the blouson having a vintage-like body shape and large sleeve - as well as, most ingeniously, a hidden cinch in the waistband instead of elastic. 

My favourite was the black cord, which is only now available in a couple of sizes. But the sand is great too, and there’s the lilac for bolder readers.

Carrier Company Celtic jacket

£245

A friend told me recently about this Norfolk-based company, which makes all its outdoorsy products locally. I tried the Celtic jacket above - struck by the wonderful check - and found it an interesting contrast to the types of brands we normally cover on PS. 

The jacket is very simple. The material is made by Magee but really quite coarse. It's an open weave, so the jacket has less shape, and there's nothing else helping it - no fusing on the placket or collar, no collar stand. The buttons are plastic - a horn imitation - and there is no cuff at all. The checks are deliberately not matched on the pockets or sleeves to avoid waste, but this is of course also cheaper. 

If this were offered by Anderson & Sheppard, it would have all these points, in a softer but clearly still very casual wool. But it would also be three times the price. 

I think if you can afford it, a more refined version is what I'd recommend (and think about how many jackets you really need). But that doesn't stop the Carrier Company one from looking great for what it is.

Connolly sleeveless cardigan

£380

I’ll be writing a piece soon about cardigan fit, particularly if worn as a jacket substitute rather than under one. That’ll focus on the Art Cardi recommended last year, but this year Connolly has introduced a sleeveless cardigan that’s equally interesting and stylish. 

The main point on fit is that there’s something very elegant about a relaxed, loose-fitting cardi - more akin to the shawl collar we know and love, rather than fitted waistcoats. And the sleeveless Connolly cardigan does this very nicely, with a width that’s just down off the shoulder, a roomy body and slightly longer length. 

They’ve also reused the combination of shetland and cashmere (former on the outside, latter on the inside) from their crewnecks, which has the effect of making the oatmeal colour in particular look rather casual, and suitable for any washed-out pair of jeans, despite actually being quite luxurious. 

Yogi Moccasin shoes, via Oliver Spencer

£149

Chunky casual shoes have never been my style. I know the Paraboot 'Michael' is comfortable, but I always want something more refined, on a slimmer last. I wear Edward Green 'Shanklins', rather than Drake's Crosby boots.

However, readers have asked recently about similar shoes, particularly deck shoes and moccasin styles, from the likes of Yuketen for example. And if I were to wear something along those lines it would be a simple tobacco-suede style like this pair from Yogi. They're soft, unlined and not too chunky, but very comfortable.

They're stocked in the Oliver Spencer 'Studio' store, which often has some interesting pieces and collaborations, including Snow Peak, Rototo and Niwaki.

Mortimer's: Moments in Time

£54, out May (US) and June (UK)

A friend gave me an early copy of this book recently, which charts the history of the society cafe Mortimer’s in New York. It’s not a menswear book, but it tells the story of a period and a social set very intimately, and the clothes are part and parcel of it all - aided by the fact that the founder, Glenn Bernbaum, had worked in fashion and was always a natty dresser.

For anyone that’s interested in the history of fashion, and its importance at particular points in time, this is worth a look. Also, check out the tailoring going on at the launch party of the book at the author’s current restaurant, Swifty’s in Palm Beach. Now I know where all that Scabal is going.

Grevi Japanese paper hat

£155

I wasn’t sure last year about this summer panama-style hat offered at Trunk, but I’ve come around. The key, I think, is that while it is fairly smart colour and make, it is soft enough to clearly not be a normal, sharp panama. 

Panamas are beautiful, but they look too smart for things like jeans or shorts most of the time, and without them there are precious few options for summer. This paper braid creates a soft brim that folds down and waves a little, all helping to suggest that it’s not as smart as the colour might suggest. 

I like the cream, but also available in a browner ‘natural’. And also nice with the ribbon taken off, if you want to remove that touch of formality too.   

Jake’s fun shirts

£175

Fun shirts have never quite been my thing. Nothing wrong with having fun with your clothes - indeed, it’s obligatory - but they always seemed a little gimmicky, whatever the history. 

However, of all the ones I’ve seen, Jake Wigham’s recent designs appeal the most. I think it’s because they’re a little quieter, often making use of a single colour and various patterns, rather than feeling like they have to incorporate several - and indeed the same Ivy four or five colours as every other fun shirt. 

Vetra linen jackets

£160

The John Simons shop on Chiltern Street has a handful of the heavy linen jackets from Vetra that we previously showed André wearing here. They’re great - a tough, substantial cloth that feels more like workwear than any other linen you’ll try. 

More are meant to be coming, but as with many things at the moment, there have been delays and delays. A few other shops have some stock - Union Clothing has the Rigging colour in medium and large, and the Vetra shop itself in France has a handful, such as the navy in 42 and the elk in 42 and 44. 

In the meantime, John Simons are doing their own linen jackets, in a much more normal weight of linen. For those that find the Vetra too heavy.

Tom Ford ‘Lavender Extreme’

£240

Despite the recent slashing of my perfume collection, I still find perfumes endlessly fascinating, and will go along to any Perfumer H launch to hear what Lyn has come up with, or try a new scent from any other maker I respect. 

Tom Ford is one of those, based on my personal experiences and the word of those in the industry - who will describe his perfumes as “obviously overpriced, but good and original in a way few other designers are”. Or something like that.

Lavender has a long history as a men’s scent, particularly with something like Trumper’s Lavender Water Cologne. It’s a way to create a fresh, summery perfume without using citrus or vetiver like everyone else. And this is the nicest I’ve tried. Not for everyone, but then who wants to be everyone? 

Casatlantic El Jadida linen/cotton trousers

€160

This is a nice way to include an update on Casatlantic, having done a full review on the Mogador trousers last year. Although I haven't tried anything from the new Cypress collection, which launches tomorrow, I have tried another style - El Jadida. 

This is a much better fit on me - just that little bit lower on the rise, and with a much more regular leg line. And I tried it in the black linen/cotton, which I also liked. It has a bit of a sheen to it, which some might dislike, and it’s more casual than you might expect. But it’s light and airy, and is an easy way to wear black. They look great with this Adret jacket, for example. 

One thing I think it’s worth re-emphasising is that these are simply made trousers - no skirt on the waistband inside, basic fastening and buttonholes. They’re made to be similar to the vintage trousers Nathaniel wears, and not to any dress trousers or indeed the top-end Japanese repro brands. That’s also reflected in the price of course. 

 

And a few others, in brief

  • Baudoin & Lange have just launched a deck shoe (above). I'm not sure about these yet. Maybe a bit sleek for a deck shoe, though the materials quality is of course really high
  • There is a particular white, summer trouser that's made from a really robust cotton, almost like sail cloth. Margaret Howell's sub-brand MHL has some this season that are like that - great for wearing white trouser rough and casually. They are high rise and pretty wide leg, but the cloth is excellent.
  • Doekcanvas shoes remain my summer casual shoe of choice, and I've got my eye on the black canvas at Trunk this summer
  • Ralph Lauren Purple Label has a beautifully cut and made cotton cable knit for summer. I love knits with a collar, and haven't seen a cotton one before, but it is obviously expensive. Perhaps one for the sales
  • EB Meyrowitz have a (fairly) new frame shape called the Californian which I love - a soft and rounded version of an aviator. Pictured here
  • Fedeli long-sleeved polos are one of my favourites for a very casual summer option, often worn tucked out (below). Trunk have the half-button option, while Connolly have the shirt version, buttoning all the way through, under their own label.

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Joe

Hi Simon,
Lovely article (as usual) with some interesting selections. May I enquire what sizes worked for you with the Carrier Company Celtic Jacket and with the Connolly sleeveless cardigan?

EO

Good overall.
I’m surprised you liked black for trousers. Were they more like charcoal?

P.A.

I see a lot of black in clothing recently; particularly black linen this season.
I’m not sure whether to consider it very formal or actually very casual. Your opinion Simon ?

P.A.

I believe it is more fashion-forward; there goes the eternal debate of style VS fashion.
I saw Lorenzo Cifonelli wearing a black wool DB suit the other day, I’m not sure he would have done so a few years ago.

Darren

I always look forward to these Top Tens and as ever pleased to see a variety of items. That Carrier Company jacket is fantastic, I’ve been looking for a rough and ready checked overshirt for some time now.

Mark

I have really used my Carrier Company check jacket over the last few years. I would add a word of warning at 6′ 3″ (189cm) I found it a touch short for my preferences as a coat and tend to wear it either as my house coat or underneath tweed coats as a sort of thick shirt in colder weather. Others may of course prefer a shorter length. Hopefully Carrier Company will one day offer different lengths.

Peter Hall

I’ve found this sunspel cotton jumper perfect for spring evenings. It has a great texture but is lightweight. And the colour is City blue.
https://www.sunspel.com/uk/ls-crew-neck-sweater-in-blue-mist.html

Q

Thanks for the article! On casatlantic: How do you like their sage green? I guess it will not be as versatile as the khaki?

Felix

Hi, I have the El Jadida in Sage from Casatlantic. I really like the shade, but I also find it hard to match colourwise, so it doesn’t get as much wear as I had hoped.

Alan

I bought the Safi model in sage green recently. I would describe it as a military fatigue green. I struggled with what to wear it with, so I used some grey fabric dye to turn it into a much more versatile olive colour. The fabric took the dye really well and came out evenly. Not sure I would recommend buying a pair of trousers with the intention of then dyeing them but if you really like the high waisted style Casatlantic do and want a different colour it’s an option.

Q

Thanks – very helpful!
@Simon: Any recommendations on how to combine the sage green color (in theory)?

ayush

Has your opinion on black canvas changed? I thought you did not find it very elegant nor vey flattering.

ayush

In relation to shoes? Black canavas sneakers.

ayush

But do you think sneakers like these for ex dark grey with white soles or navy with white soles could be as elegant as a white sneaker with casual item like a shirt and chinos or jeans?

Peter

I’ve been considering a teba for a smart-casual summer option, and came across this outfit called Curzon Classics. Don’t know if you’re aware of them Simon, or have any instinctive take on this piece? http://www.curzon.es/en/tebas/512-1788-darcy-light-olive.html#/98-talla-50

Peter Hall

I have a couple (bought rtw in Spain)and both are tight, especially on the sleeves. I do find plenty of use out of them in the summer, mine are bottle green and dark brown. The slim fit makes them perfect for wearing over a polo but can be difficult to fit knitwear under. Perfect for a summer jacket.
However, my sample size of two might not be typical.

SamS

Got a look at that Purple Label polo a couple of weeks back. Really lovely, if only they hadn’t thrown in synthetics for some reason. Still, like you say, perhaps for the sale.

SamS

Yeah, my local RL guy said it was to make sure it kept its shape, as it was rather heavy but loosely knitted. I mostly worry about how it would age, part of the appeal of a garment like that is how the cotton will fade over time, I don’t know how the polyamide would influence that.

Craig

I really like that sleeveless cardigan. The John Smedley cotton ones are a bit too thin and wispy for my liking, and lack any surface texture. I know they can’t be too thick, so they can be worn under a tailored jacket, but a bit more substance and a bit of surface interest really make the vests look better and allow them to be worn without a jacket, as you are doing here. Stoffa’s u-necked vests also benefit from that. The color is also great. I know navy is supposed to be the most versatile color for vests, and maybe it is, but this color gives navy a run for it’s money.

BB

Hi Simon,
Great to read this seasonal PS Spring top 10 as Blossom petals fills the air.
Many new options for layering and transitioning to a warmer weather, though I’ve been caught out on a few cold Spring nights already. Remember you advised on blankets sometime ago. Great to see you mention Yuketen too for casual footwear, I can swear by their faultless quality. But I still don’t get Tom Ford, sorry.

Christopher

Dear Simon,

as ever great article! I’ve got my eye on the recently launched white denim trousers from Rubato. I would appreciate your opinion, the price seems to be a little bit high in comparison to other brands like Fortela, etc. Do you have any experience about the fit? I like how Rubato set the scene with white jeans and denim shirt and their knitwear is one of my favorite pieces in the wardrobe. My second item for the spring is my navy Harrington jacket from Ben Sherman, the price was very fair . I have replaced the plastic buttons by brown horn buttons. It goes quite well with Converse trainers, as well with loafers…

Best regards
Christopher

Stephen

Hi Simon,
Thanks for this post. Some interesting items. A few questions on the Trunk Panama hat. I have never come across a paper hat (except in a Christmas cracker!) before. I do like the look of it and the idea of removing the ribbon.
1). How robust would you say this hat is over time? Paper suggests flimsy and not much longevity- it would be something I would wear it very informally so don’t mind it looking a bit ‘beaten up’ but prefer it didn’t fall apart.
2)Do you have any further information on paper as a material in this context?
3) On the Trunk website they are referred to as a trilby – to which they tend to look a little closer rather than a panama?
Finally, following the link to the Carrier Company, I notice they have what appear to be some reasonable Shetland products.
Thanks again for some great ideas and introduction to some interesting brands.
All the best.

Anon

Is the hat collapsible/foldable?

MQ

Eton Shirts has a nice linen overshirt, which goes nicely with a shirt and/or a polo shirt
https://www.etonshirts.com/en/page/the-linen-overshirt

Raf

Positively surprised by the Baudoin Lange deck shoes! Their beige and green are both really nice. Casatlantic secret tip: get their summer shorts. This summer I’m open to buying a linen brown pair of trousers, but haven’t seen anything nice yet. Still much stock to come.

Simone

Are deck shoes a thing again? Chunky dad sneakers are having a resurgence but I want no part of it, that being said I have no idea what to wear in between suede tassel loafers and espadrillas. Loafers are great but the wooden/leather sole make them kind of uncomfortable if I have to wear them for several hours whereas the espadrillas are sometimes too summery, if you get what I mean. I was thinking about plain leather sneakers like the Buttero Tanino but they look so 2010’ish.

Stephan

I have a related question for Simon. I’ve always been a fan of deck shoes – they are super comfortable, easy to put on and off, and they look better than most casual shoes or sneakers guys often wear in casual outfits. I understand the negative ‘preppy’ connotations and all, but I think on their own merit deck shoes are a great option and have been a staple for me. But I do remember Simon disliking them in the past or simply not being much of a fan. Has this changed, Simon, and can you generally comment on deck shoes and your views on pros and cons?

Stephan

Indeed, all valid points, thanks!

Ben

I too am looking forward to wearing my long sleeve polos, particularly the navy pique shirt from G. Inglese, with their beautiful “Miami” collar, which is a Cuban/camp collar type. G. Inglese shirts have some beautiful, handsewn features, which make them like wearable pieces of art.
Great article, with lots of interesting items to look into. Thank you Simon!

Anonymous

Leave it to you, Simon, to pick up on Mortimer’s from across the pond. I frequented the watering hole from the late seventies through the late eighties and it was truly a moment in time, which has now, for good or for bad, been documented in the book you featured.

The proprietor, Glenn Bernbaum (pictured in the top blog photo seated at left at one of the coveted front window tables with documented American style icon C.Z. Guest, center, and Andre Leon Talley, protege of Vogue legend Diana Vreeland and a fashion institution in his own right), was a terrible snob (in a good way, but in a manner that would be unacceptable today) and ran Mortimer’s as if it were his private club. From a sartorial perspective applied to women and men, if he did not approve of the way you were dressed, you simply were never seated as no reservations were taken. And every table was in a pecking order.

So, as this is a menswear blog, typical attire for a fall Saturday lunch in the 80s would have been: tweed sports coat (ivy league particularly suitable), grey flannels, brown alligator belt, Alden (via Brooks Brothers) cordovan tassel loafers (very 80s), conservative socks, blue end-on-end madras shirt with white tab collar or white straight collar with collar pin and white French cuffs (silk knots or vintage cufflinks, preferably your family’s versus someone else’s), ancient madder tie, pocket square of starched white linen or foulard/paisley silk, and smart watch with brown alligator strap. All of this really only complimented the women, who were universally chic. What I have described was actually a bit casual for Mortimer’s, but it was Saturday lunch after all and I was on the younger side of the clientele so it worked.

Enough social history for today. Mortimer’s was a tremendous amount of fun, an event in its own right, and everyone knew it. That is why the beau monde from Jacqueline Onassis to Andy Warhol was there to feast on reasonably priced nursery food. Never to be repeated as that level of haughtiness would not be tolerated in this country today. And that is probably a good thing.

P.S. Early lunch menu from 1976 below:

6B4B9B16-F0E9-4C46-9394-48965537768D.png
Georgios

I find most of your suggestions very nice and the ones that are not my style are for sure food for discusion. I wanted to ask you about the shoe thema for the hot months. I find it very difficult to find something that really fits the bill for me. I dont like boat shoes and im also not so much a fan of mocasins. The vans style shoes are sure a good casual solution but dont work so good like the chukka boots at winter. Could you suggest some loafers that are not so casual and maybe are unstructured ?

Georgios

Yes sure, last week. I have a pair Espadrilles but dont wear them so often. Many tennis shoes that i wear a lot but was looking for something a little more formal but not like your edward greens( which by the way have a lovely color). Are the alden ones too wide on foot? I cant try them so easy in germany..

Alberto

The Fedeli polos you mentioned at the end of the article, are they the pique cotton version? Or do you wear polos more in line with knitwear?

Jeldrik

Hello! Quick question about the MHL trousers: How transparent is the white cloth? Can you see black boxer shorts through them? Thanks for your help.
Kind wishes
Jeldrik

Steve

Hi Simon
I’m wondering if you have come across, Bristol based brand, Benedict Raven. I was thinking of ordering their made in England Cotton Bristol Bomber as a lightweight spring jacket.
Similar question for &Sons (website is Andsons.co.uk). I recently read your White Denim article and was inspired to look for a pair of ecru Jeans. I found their Brandon jeans using ISKO denim from Turkey.
The prices for both are pretty reasonable so wondering if I’m missing something. I know I’m unlikely to get the investment piece quality as some of the brands frequently mentioned on here, but I quite like the unique/boutique aspect.
Any thoughts greatly appreciated.
Thanks
Steve

George Blumfield

Like your watch;I have a Lip T18 and a SEIKO SWR949 tank watch but the Lip T18 is somewhat difficult to read due to small numbers; am considering buying the T24; After buying the SEIKO SWR049 I discover that, due to not coming with an instruction/maintenacne manual and a serial # not registered by SEIKO, it is a fake! The SEIKO is much easier to read, but I like the Lip styling.
What watch are you wearing?

Will Chadderton

Hey Guys . I regularly read & enjoy posts on bespoke issues on the Permanent Style site
& personally have many questions that would be amazing if I could get guidance from tailoring greats who are prepared to pass on some of their knowledge.
Any guides available to any such Blogs Forums from experts who will answer , outline the correct way to eradicate various bespoke suit fit issues.
Some really concern me
1 ) I have a habit of needing my wallet on me at all times & use my trouser back pocket for this purpose. On all my bespoke suits from one specific tailoring house , after around 9 months or so the outer edge of the back besom pocket rip! Is there something that specifically should be done in the structure , makeup of the outside edges of back pockets ( apart from just a bar tack )that will strengthen & prevent this issue ? Most are pure wool S130s ? S150s , 240 gsm Italian fabrics.
2 ) I notice on myself & many others I observe that when the suit coat is undone, it no longer looks fitted at the back ; My vague understanding of this is that it is something to do between the front & back balance? When fastened the back looks OK & well fitted at waist area but when open looks very baggy at the back? I am hoping to understand what should be amended to the pattern to correct this when the issue is observed during the fitting process.
Above just 2 of some issues of many I would be so thankful to understand ?

Regards
Will Chadderton

Martins

I think it also depends on wallet. I have a completely stuffed 3-fold wallet that feels really uncomfortable in a back pocked of smart trousers. However a simple cardholder is absolutely fine…

Martins

but on the other hand, breaking habits can be really hard, and sometimes it’s easier just to readjust them a bit. even if I have a bag with me, phone, keys and wallet not in pockets just feels wrong, even after 2 years of trying to put those in bag every time I wear smart trousers.

James G

The Carrier Company Celtic jacket is quite nice Simon but what would you recommend in a more refined make ? I do love that it’s unlined and has a super casual flair.

RLPL typically has similar wool jacket yearly in seasonable pattern but haven’t seen many alternatives.

Thanks!

Ryan

Hi Simon, I’m trying out a suit and my shoulders fit a size 42 but my chest measures 38. I imagine this is too big a difference to be taken in. Is my only option to go for bespoke?

Ryan

Is Andre wearing the blazer or chore coat in that picture?

Jonathan

Simon,

As always, interesting selections. If you had to add ties to this list, where would you suggest one look for some beauties?

Misbah

Hello

Any plans to do a post on paper & stationery? I think it’s an area which lends itself to Permanent Style.

Thanks

Ben R

Are the black cotton/linen trousers machine washable or are they recommending professional cleaning only?

Henry

“we previously showed André wearing here.”
“Here” is not a link

BC

Hi Simon, I looked at the Doek canvas sneaker in black, and candidly, something about the black upper and white bottom and laces struck me as a bit loud. What do you think of the Doek sneaker in indigo for versatility? I’m looking to wear it with vintage OG107’s, casual linen pants, shorts, to the beach, that sort of thing. Would appreciate your views.

Roy Chefets

what about Maison Degand…shoes and bespoke clothing????