This feels like me
I get a lot of joy out of wearing this outfit, though I’m not quite sure why.
It might be that it’s clearly dressed up – tailored jacket, tailored trousers – but not that stuffy. No tie, and not even a proper shirt, just a polo.
It might be that it’s obviously deliberate, conscious, a personal style – yet fairly subtle. There are no bright colours, patterns or dandy touches (spectators/braces/waistcoats etc etc).
Or it might be that it feels like a classic mode of dressing, something drawn from another era - a Ralph Lauren advert even - and yet the tonality makes it feel more modern than that.
It’s obviously not what everyone else will be wearing around me, and it will stand out. But it’s also not drawn from some fantasy world.
There are ways you could make it subtler still. Swap the bone-coloured trousers for a navy or dark brown; swap the polo for a regular shirt.
There are also ways you could give it flourish. Add a pocket square; swap the shoes for something more unusual, like a Corthay last or Berluti colours.
But this combination feels the most personal to me, right now.
It’s a kind of look I identify with and that I wear often, so I feel very comfortable in. It also does the job I want it to do – projecting who I am and the attitude I take (tailored but not fussy, serious but hopefully not staid) for a working day among tailors and shops.
Of all these reasons for liking an outfit, the most important must be that it feels like me. Most other things lead from it.
After a few years of wearing good clothes and attempting to dress well, I think you gradually get to a point where you can achieve any particular look you want to. Something a bit older, or a bit younger, a bit more modern or more traditional, more formal or casual.
The question then becomes, what look do you want? Are you trying to look more fashionable, or less? More experimental and perhaps interesting, or more understated? Also how smart during the week, and how casual at the weekend?
I know plenty of people in the menswear industry who are driven – through some combination of personality and profession – to be more experimental. Who want to express themselves more strongly and become restless when there’s nothing new on the horizon.
This is completely natural, and probably inevitable in an environment of new seasons and collections. But frankly, I’ve never been able to be that imaginative, which probably makes me highly unsuitable to be a creative director or someone similar at a brand.
I like, rather, settling into something low key and personal. Which – after 500 of words of working it through as I type - is probably why I enjoy this outfit so much.
By the way, a reader commented on this article on Oliver that some of the things he favours could be seen as ‘menswear tropes’ and common around social media.
The first response to that is, sure, but frankly Oliver does it much better than most. And before a lot of others.
And second, I don’t live on social media. I live in a suburb of London - and no one here is wearing white socks with loafers or caps with tailoring.
Maybe you’re more likely to see yourself coming the other way if you live in Stockholm. But not in London or most places around the world.
Where I live there are certainly lots of people dressing similarly – every woman seems to have bought an oversized coat and a pair of big black boots over the winter – but there are precious few classic-menswear fans around.
So I wouldn’t worry about taking direct inspiration from people you admire, in New York, Stockholm or Seoul.
Most readers will be familiar with the clothes pictured here, but for those that aren’t they are, with brief reflections:
A grey-herringbone tweed jacket from The Anthology, which is now my most worn piece of tailoring. Although much as I love the cut, the biggest factor is the cloth.
An Armoury polo shirt under a Luca Faloni crewneck – a look I stole directly from Rubato and wrote about here. It still makes me happy, though I wish Colhay’s did knitwear in this colour.
Trousers from Pommella in a beige wool twill material, offered in the past by Zegna but now not available by the cut length. Although Gianluca at Pommella does have a roll of it, so it can be ordered from him.
A PS olive cashmere scarf (currently restocking those for autumn).
And my favourite pair of shoes, the mink-suede Belgravia from Edward Green – which we recently launched together in an unlined version, as a collaboration. I’ll go into the process behind those in a separate post.
Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt