Reader profile: David E
David is an example of a reader that has been into clothes for a long time, and now looks back on it from the perspective of a professional and father, fitting that interest into a life that has changed dramatically.
A resident of south-east London, he’s been a reader for around 10 years, and in that time moved through high-street tailoring and English bespoke, done a Neapolitan pilgrimage, spent time with a few real West End characters, and seen trends come round and round.
But there's a sense that over that journey he’s gradually settled into what he enjoys, what suits him and what feels like good value.
Outfit 1: Smart
- Suit: Chalkstripe DB with four buttons and patch pockets, Solito
- Shirt: White poplin, Luca Avitabile
- Tie: Knitted brown wool, Budd
- Shoes: Black calf Piccadilly loafer, Edward Green
- Watch: Rolex Air-King
Thanks for taking the time to do this David. Have you always been interested in clothes?
Yes I think so. I have a memory of asking my mother for a red turtleneck sweater and a pair of green Levi’s for Christmas when I was pretty young. In my mind it was a great Christmas outfit, but I think I just looked like an oversized elf!
In my twenties I lived in Shoreditch and shopped vintage around Brick Lane - Rokit and others. Most of them sold clothes they’d adjusted or added details to themselves as well. I wore some very strange jumpers back then, as my friends will attest.
You were already working in finance at that point, correct? So did you enjoy wearing suits during the week?
Yes I liked that side as well. I remember doing work experience with a neighbour when I was 16 who was an insurance broker. He had this colleague who wore striped shirts and braces with skulls-and-crossbones. I loved that.
When I was working myself later I shopped at Lewins (back when it was good), at Thomas Pink, at Ede & Ravenscroft. The latter were probably the best - they had this very enthusiastic, but very polite sales manager, and they sold two pairs of trousers with every suit. I’m not sure if they still do that.
How did the transition to Solito and the rest happen?
Through blogs essentially, yours and later ones like Die Workwear. They were what opened my eyes to craft and the enjoyment of having things made. I also had two suits made with Dougie Hayward on Mount Street, before he died, which are precious.
In recent years though I have to say I’ve bought less at that level. Once you have a wardrobe of say 10 suits for work you really don’t need any, and with casual things that aren’t made for you there’s less point.
I find I'm particular about buying a shetland that’s £150 rather than £250, for example, if they’re both made in the same place and there aren’t any other real differences.
- Jacket: Dark blue and grey check by Solito
- Shirt: Blue poplin from Frank Foster
- Trousers: Grey cashmere/wool Manny from Rubinacci
- Shoes: Brown-suede tasseled loafers, Anglo Italian
How do people dress in your office today? Is it more suits like the first outfit, or jackets and trousers like this one?
It’s primarily suits with no ties, which obviously has its downsides. But it means you focus on other things - shoes and socks, or a striped shirt. I still wear ties but they're a rarity. Also it’s only four days a week, so that’s one less day in tailoring.
I never knew Frank Foster, what was he like?
Oh he was amazing, it’s such an Aladdin’s Cave down there. You’d spend time looking through his cloth archive while he told stories, always involving one celebrity or another.
He loved to talk about Cary Grant sitting in the studio in his underwear, waiting for them to adjust a pair of trousers. Frank used to say it was women’s underwear too, though I’m not sure that part was true!
I know you said you went to Naples at one point. Would you recommend something like that to readers?
It's obviously a lovely part of the world, and there are many other things you can do while you're there. But I think it’s most worth going if you have a fitting you need - some point to the journey. It would be less satisfying if you were just touring around seeing places.
Having said that, the best part of it for me was seeing Talarico’s little shop. It was like, ‘Oh, so it’s just you two - and you’re making them right there. That’s the bench.’ You see these things online or in a book and they become almost mystical. It’s lovely to just see them first hand.
Has your style changed at all since those early days of wearing bespoke?
I certainly wear less English tailoring, but I think it’s mostly a queston of settling into a style, knowing what works for me and appreciating the details - handwork on my Solito coat, the way shoes have aged.
Even on the casual side, I’ve seen trends come around again - there are so many pieces I wished I’d held onto, like Gucci loafers, striped T&A shirts - but I also feel I’ve settled more into what suits me and how I live day to day.
- Jacket: Vintage waxed-cotton Solway, Barbour
- Shirt: Slowear
- Knit: Principe Firenze
- Jeans: Drake’s
- Shoes: LHS loafer, Alden
OK, let’s get to the more casual side. This is fairly typical for what you’d wear at the weekend, in the park or the playground?
Apart from the loafers, yes. I think over the years I’ve come to realise that my look is more Ralph Lauren than that more Italian leisurewear look, more frayed classics.
I like aspects of workwear, like a well-made chore jacket or the kind of jacket alternative you’ve discussed. A chore in particular feels quite timeless - you don’t look at it and think it feels very seventies or nineties.
But I struggle a little with military clothing. It feels like I’ve seen that trend come around a few times.
Do you buy much vintage?
Actually this Barbour was the first time in ages I’d bought vintage. I always find Barbours way too long or, on someone my height, a good two inches too short. I’d learnt that only a Solway would work, but they didn’t sell them.
So I eventually tracked one down in the right size on eBay and spent a feverish hour bidding. The result was great - it goes over a proper-length jacket, wears in nicely, and means I’ve re-used something that was otherwise just sitting in someone’s attic.
It was the thing that made me realise vintage wasn’t that hard and was very rewarding. I’ve bought a few other things since, though I find browsing vintage shops difficult unless there’s one thing you’re after.
When I was younger I owned so many great Ralph clothes that I just threw away, so I’ve been trying to find those again.
It sounds like Ralph Lauren has aged with you, and come in and out of your life, or lifestyle.
Yes I think that’s right, and over time you appreciate the consistency. When I was younger I would save up money from working in a supermarket, and go to Selfridge’s to decide which Ralph Lauren shirt I could buy that quarter. They lasted really well, in terms of quality and style, and I wish I’d kept more.
Even with price inflation in the past few years, you can still get a Polo suit for £500 or £600, and that feels right if you’re a professional and can afford it. It’s a good suit.
It seems funny refering to trends ‘coming round again’ within such a short period of time. It would suggest to me that they are not infact trends. Militay clothing for example seen as trend coming round a few times? Perhaps it never went away.
It depends what kind of trends you’re looking at Dan, I think. Fashion brands can certainly cycle round more than once in a 20 year period. Classic menswear takes rather longer.
The fashion cycle does seem very short these days. Seems like we get a preppy revival every few years.
Or if something gets a big revival so often, then maybe it really is permanent style (Shetland sweaters and tweeds etc)
I think you can differentiate.
I feel that there is an undercurrent in classic menswear that usually develops/changes slowly (e.g., the shift from suit and tie to separates without a tie to even more casual attire for work).
On the surface, there seem to me short-term trends in classic menswear as well, but they tend to be narrow and go in cycles, e.g. this color being more popular one season than another, lapels getting narrower/wider, etc. I hardly notice these because, for example, the colors of the last 20 years and lapel widths usually remain relevant and don’t look dated. And I think that is the attraction of classical menswear. You can buy good quality and be relatively sure that a certain garment will remain wearable until the end of its life through wear and tear.
Great stuff! I especially like the first outfit! @David, do you know what Luca calls this collar?
Hi Philip, thanks! I took his classic collar and added two things: a one cm tie gap and about half a cm to the collar height and points. It gives it a little more flair I think but definitely works better with a tie than without.
Many thanks! Yes, it looks great with a tie indeed!
Thats the first readers profile i feel i could wear most of the styles and feel at home even though i rarely wear a suit. David may i ask something ? Except from loafers what other kind of casual shoes do you wear ?
Fully agree with Georgios on this one. These “looks” are almost exactly what I wear/ how I dress/ when I wear it. Not all my items are made by/sourced from the same as David’s, but in terms of style/shape/fit they are very close indeed.
For the above reasons, this is my most enjoyed edition of tis series.
Thank you David!!
Thanks Georgios, I’ve quite a mix casual shoes – tbh loafers are my absolute favourites – Rubinacci’s Marphy loafer is a great one because there are so many colours and styles and because they’re so comfortable – the same goes for Tod’s gomminos. The reality is I can’t wear those to the park with the kids though, so two go-tos are the classic Timberland boat shoe (unexciting but brilliantly versatile) and for wintery weather Trickers Country Dealer boot. For sneakers I think it’s hard to go wrong with Common Projects which you can dress up or down a little. I hope that helps!
It helped for sure, im also a loafer lover and am looking for long time to find a winter alternative to be easy to slip in. I will take a look on the boots in person when i get the oportunity.
I have a couple of Tods, a chocolate suede desert boot and a pair of black pennies. Extremely comfortable but the soles wear down so quickly.
You need to get your chauffer to drop you closer to the cafe Peter, less pavement walking will save the soles…
Great profile, love the clothes. And btw, Ede and Ravenscroft still sell 2 pairs of trousers with a lot of their suits. I use them exclusively for my day to day work suits (wear one 4 days a week). Their shops are also lovely places to go an just browse sometimes.
Lovely style – classic, but also personal. What about the overcoat in Outfit 1 though, would love to find out more about that?
Hi Alfred, thank you! I had this coat made at Solito a few years back. The two changes I made to this fairly classic design was to not have a belted rear – a little formal for me – and to line it with some vintage silk that I found at Frank Foster. It’s a cashmere mix which makes it super warm as well.
That sounds wonderful. Thank you!
Very nice, understated style. It all looks eminently conventional, but with a few dandy flourishes. Patch pockets on a chalkstripe DB, and worn with a knit tie; the Gurkha waist on the grey trousers.
Thanks David – your sentiment captures it well for me – nice to have something a little different without it being something you regret a year or so later!
Good morning Simon….another impressive reader profile..keep it up..it represents a nice change of pace…to Simon..fans of the permanent.. etc..HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!! PEACE AND MUCH CHEERS
I like the photo showing the repair on the sleeve of the Solito jacket. No mention of it in the text, but it’s a good example of how things age and wear in, and how a little repair doesn’t detract from a high quality item.
was thinking the same thing, that must be a repair, indeed I was expecting to find mentions of it.
With respect, it’s not a very neat repair for such a nice jacket!
More colour please!
Agreed. Men should be more adventurous when it comes to colour!
Yes. On for more colour on this website! Men look great in bright colours.
Love wearing bright colours myself. Blue can get a little boring over time but that’s just me.
Are you happy with the roll on the Avitabile collar?
Hi JH – I am yes. The collars are quite lightly lined and with enough point to give some nice roll. He’ll certainly be able to advise what’ll suit you best – always a good place to start I think.
My heads spinning with all these David’s
“He loved to talk about Cary Grant sitting in the studio in his underwear … Frank used to say it was women’s underwear too, though I’m not sure that part was true!”
My understanding is that it was true. Grant hated traveling with lots of luggage and sought to minimize weight wherever possible. He found ladies underwear something he could wash every day and it was super light.
I enjoyed this article. It reminds that the search for one’s style is never-ending.
Thanks Bob – I’m glad someone else had heard about this too…!
Any idea on prices for Solito ?
Do they do MTM or just bespoke ?
I think they use to tag along to Luca Avitabile trunk shows if I’m not mistaken.
While I avoid stripes/checks, etc. in my clothes (except herringbone for some reason), the Solito jacket in outfit 2 looks really good because of its color and unobtrusiveness. The striped flannel suit is over the top for me, but of course it’s different when you work in finance in London.
Hi David. Like the other readers I enjoyed your post a great deal. I particularly enjoyed the Solito jacket you have. The cloth in particular looks both understated but wonderfully versatile. I have considered commissioning a jacket from him but the ones I have seen appear very short compared to say an English jacket. Any thoughts?
Hi Paul, I’d say they may be a little shorter than a more traditional English jackets, but it’s definitely a matter of personal taste and Luigi’s great at getting the balance right with you.
Overall the choices are well balanced with a good mix of Italian and English style. The Neapolitan chalkstripe is an interesting and successful example of syncretism since Neapolitan unstructured tailoring started (in the very old days) with radically different fabrics and patterns.
Question for Simon: when times will be mature for profiling readers from the rest of the planet ?
We will have some from more locations, Petronio, but I like to do these in person, which limits them somewhat
I like this a lot – these are all great, classic outfits that look neither studied nor overly trendy.
David, as you work in finance in the UK, has there been anything to replace the subtle (actually not so subtle) hierarchy of ties and who could wear what (i.e., Hermes ties only from VP upwards etc.) I am still aware from the 2000s, or has this all been lost in a sea of grey Patagonia fleeces?
Hi Felix, thanks
Sadly, it seems ties have become fairly redundant these days…I now have quite a few gathering dust….
Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Couple of items really struck a chord – love the 34mm Air King – so much more understated and cool than the typical Sub
Also love the mixing in of Slowear amidst other brands – this all felt more real-world
Love this series but it would be great to see some more diversity in those profiled. Thank you for considering it 🙂
Thanks, it’s really just a question of people I know and think readers would find interesting. But I’ll certainly keep that in mind
I think that’s part of the challenge with these things Simon. They start small and organically grow, then you realise it’s unconsciously biased by your network, which inevitably looks like you. But having it fully open would require time to screen which small teams don’t have.
One middle ground could be sourcing through networks across the major cities across places – Lagos has style, so does Nairobi. Then Asian cities will be easy, HK, even Jakarta, Bangalore. I imagine you have readers in all these places so a targeted outreach could work.
And would be very illuminating, permanent style around the world!
Thanks Paul. Perhaps I can try and do it more on my travels. The priority for me has always been keeping that same level of personal coverage though, which is really hard to do remotely
There has been plenty of diversity, people from different backgrounds and currently living in different situations.
What a shame to view the world only through the lens of race politics.
It’s a good point Henry, there has been some good diversity in that sense. However, let’s avoid tarnishing that point by making accusations in return. Thanks
I’m sympathetic to Henry’s post. What bothers me (and I imagine this might resonate with you in particular, Simon, as a professional writer) is the co-option of the word “diversity.” I take Henry’s point to be that the Reader Profiles have been “diverse” by any literal definition. Yet we all know Amadou meant–he meant a particular kind of diversity, namely racial or ethnic diversity. That raises two questions: (1) Why isn’t it sufficient to have Readers of diverse backgrounds, interests, professions, and styles enough (particularly on a style-focused publication)? (2) Relatedly but more broadly, why should we allow a term like “diversity” to automatically mean racial or ethnic diversity when there are so many other meaningful forms of diversity out there (many of which are, at least arguably, more relevant to a publication like this one)? If one is going to focus so closely on race, ethnicity, and skin color, then I think one should at least own up to it rather than cloak it in a term like “diversity” to make the point seem less objectionable or controversial. It strikes me as a kind of distortion of language designed to confuse or obscure rather than clarify or enlighten. I’m not saying that Amadou meant to do any of that–I’m certain he had noble intentions. I am saying that perhaps we should question why we almost reflexively read “diversity” to mean “racial or ethnic diversity” and whether that reflex is warranted or appropriate. Thanks.
I agree, and thank you for the clarification that you’re not suggesting Amadou meant to do that at all.
To be honest though, as is often the case, I’m not sure this a great forum for a discussion of a topic like meanings of diversity.
I’ll note that there has been lots of diversity in terms of people’s backgrounds, interests, and style
What I meant was that I would like to see Simon profile men who aren’t white. Perhaps I was misunderstood.
Very stylish, I like it all alot. I like the reference to Lewins “back when they were good”! For a long while they were my “go to” store on Jermyn St before they started opening stalls in railway stations!
I’m interested in the Shetland reference and the price difference. Is it a designer label vs. unbranded thing made in exactly the same place? I’d like to know where you’re buying from as it sounds exactly what I’m after!
Interesting comment about the Shetlands – I’ve also noticed once you pin down the Scottish mill (Harley, Jamieson’s, Johnstons, Lockie) you really do start to see the markup from some brands. Great outfits and a nice article.
Thank you for this story. I don’t need any suits. I check into the local thrift store. It is next to the grocery store. I find blazers and ties there. Where I live, people do not seem to favor them. Occasionally I find jackets. In the Midwest warmth in the winter is important. It gets very hot in summer. I have linen shirts both long and short sleeved. Chinos from Lands End in a variety of colors. It is great to know your personal style.
David, lovely overcoat in the first outfit. I dont think i saw a listing for it but is it also something Luigi knocked up for you ? Looks like one of his.
Hi Mark – you’re right, it is Solito. A lovely piece which I’ve had for a few years. I figured that I’d probably need a classic overcoat for years to come – it’s been a great investment!
Thanks for the reply, David.
I have had the same revelation regarding Ralph….so timeless a style and ahead of his time, while still being in the midst of fashion. When I am scouring eBay I often come across vintage RL that looks is inches within something being sold today from any number of brands whether English or Italian. Ralph covered the entire spectrum so fully. To a point, all fashion is somewhat derivative, so it’s not surprising.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that old Ralph clothing is coming up so much now, and often being referenced by brands like Noah and ALD, though often more overpriced in the final product
What brand and style frames is Edward wearing? And is that a regular spread collar on the blue poplin shirt?
I assume you mean David, Dan? Also see above in comments about the shirt collar
Hi David and Simon
Really nice selection of pieces and outfits.
It’s been mentioned already but the Air-King is lovely. I have the new Explorer and find it hard to wear anything bigger than 36mm these days.
The casual outfit really nails dressing with some thought and effort but not looking OTT.
Many thanks Jamie!
Do any of your readers not work in finance?
Oh Johnny. That’s a rather lazy accusation. Not even the majority of the reader profiles work in finance, let alone the readers.
A wonderful profile, and of a person with whose style I identify the most personally so far. In terms of how I like to dress, I could literally copy-paste every single one of these outfits, and could just about do it with my wardrobe. I even have a very similar Rolex!
I do have a few questions for David if he wouldn’t mind:
Can we have the backstory of that patched-up sleeve on the check jacket, please? It is subtle yet not negligible, so there must be a reason to keep the jacket. And that close-up photo just begs the story!
The Principe Firenze knit – is it a polo? Looks like the thickness and colour I’m looking for, so any tips as to where I may find one would be most appreciated.
What is the fit of the Solway compared to tailored jacket size? I’m also struggling with Barbours, I guess because I’m between 38 and 40 tailored jacket. I have a Cullen, which is a thicker winter model that looks great with jeans and knits and is great for warmth, but doesn’t cover most of my tailored jackets. I also struggle with finding a well-fitting one among the classic models, with Original Beaufort being too small in 38 but likely too large in 40, and perhaps the Sage Beaufort (trimmer) might work in 40 but it is so damn difficult to source at anything than 400+ EUR in the EU, and I’m also never sure with Bedale’s fit due to length. So Solway may be the way (apologies for the pun, it was stronger than me). I also love the belt, such a nice and useful touch making the bridge between the utility of Barbour’s bike jackets but without their stronger styling as compared to classic wax walkers.
And a more mundane question – where are those grey socks from? I’ve been struggling to find a pair like that in that colour without overpaying for it.
Thanks for your comments, appreciated! On the repaired jacket, it’s actually something I did myself. I’d pulled the jacket out after a winter in storage to find a moth hole (again) and just happened to want to wear it that day. Nothing for it but to have a go myself. Not a great repair but because of the jacket pattern I felt I could get away with it! Sorry not to report a more storied tale…
The Principe is a long sleeve polo indeed. It’s wool, but they’ve got the right balance between fine and heavy for my liking. If budgets no option, Emma Willis has some wonderful looking ones in London and I think Anderson and Sheppard haberdashery does also. To be honest it’s hard to find them at a cheaper price in the right thickness (they’re usually too fine) to go over a shirt but it is a good investment piece.
The Solway coat is the only waxed one I know of that for taller men fits comfortably over tailoring (without being a full length) , which is exactly why I hunted it out. I actually bought a 44 as it was the closest I could get in good condition (42 usually), and then had it taken in at the sides. The benefit of a doing this – in hindsight – is you can fit more underneath. They also come with a pop out, super thick liner which is great but they’re not that easy to find. The final benefit is that if you can get one on eBay it shouldn’t be too expensive.
The socks are from New and Lingwood – they’re great as they offer most styles in either wool or cotton and in two lengths. A decent range of colours too.
I hope that helps! David
Thanks a lot for the answers, very useful indeed!
On the polo, I usually muck up the knitwear after a while as I’m super clumsy, I try not to spend too much on the finer ones that will sadly not survive a lot. I’m looking for precisely that mid-way thickness – fine on its own but also over a shirt. With cream colour I find it also helps with transparency. If you have a link/tip for the exact one you have I’d appreciate it, if no longer available I’ll check the ones you suggested.
And the story on the repair is actually very cool, I love the ‘I want it now, I fix it now myself’ approach.
This is the best reader profile so far! Thanks David
Really kind Scott, thanks
Please allow me to add my appreciation. Thank you for opening yourself up so men like me can learn a few things! You appear relaxed and confident with a wide range of formality. Love your style. Well done.
Suits without ties make no sense. What’s the point really? In general, I don’t understand many modern men’s hesitance or even unwillingness to wear a tie. A tie is basically the only true accessory (along with the pocket square) that a modern man can wear. All other accessories (such as scarfs) are not merely for decoration, but serve a practical purpose (or at least are designed to serve a practical purpose). Also, I still haven’t met a woman who dislikes a beautiful tie. That’s another mystery — Women always seem to appreciate it when men dress up, yet men don’t want to dress up. How often do I see couples in restaurants and bars with the lady dressed to the nines in a sexy dress, high heels, with an impeccable hairdo and makeup, and her cavalier in ill-fitting t-shirt and jeans. How about putting some effort into your look and respecting the lady you’re with?
Of course, there are ties and ties. There are plenty of ties on the market these days that are anything but boring and “corporate”-looking generic pieces of shiny silk. I love my little collection of ties and wear them any time I feel a necktie won’t look out of place (the church, the opera, classical music concerts, elegant restaurants). My office is casual and since I wear button down shirts, tucked into trousers, I’m known as the “dapper guy”. The times we live in.
I’m completely with you on dressing up more, IT. As you allude to though, most of the time the reason for not wearing ties I think is because they do look out of place.
If we want those guys in the restaurant to dress better, I think we’d be better off suggesting great tailored trousers, perhaps a form of jacket, something that basically still makes them feel very comfortable for their environment and personality, rather than just saying they should wear a tie.
Oh, and of course my grandfather would have remarked ‘the times we live in’ in regards to not wearing a waistcoat, or a brimmed hat. This has been the trend for over a century – nothing new about today.
I see your point, but it also seems like you wear them in a very limited amount of occasions, or at least very limited for me as I don’t go to church and I don’t go to the opera that often, so it would leave me with the maybe once a month nice dinner. Why not when going to the city center for a coffee, a walk or shopping?
The truth is that most people don’t care and most who do is to give a compliment, at least where I live (Copenhagen).
While David is definitely better dressed than the vast majority of men you come across in any city, I find the colour choices and combinations in these outfits to be quite conservative and lacking flair.