To whisper with your clothes – or why I’m fascinated by old Italian industrialists

To whisper with your clothes – or why I’m fascinated by old Italian industrialists

Monday, March 13th 2023
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By Andreas Weinas

This headline might be one of the more confusing ones to have appeared on Permanent Style, but bear with me. Simon reached out to me at the beginning of the year, asking if I wanted to do a piece on PS about something I found particularly interesting at the moment.

I wanted to reflect on the subject, so I took a few days during my winter holiday and decided a certain counter-reaction strikes me as the most inspiring thing in menswear going into 2023.

After Covid I think we can all agree that formality has declined, in both the workplace and most of our personal life. Some fear the tie is near extinction and the jet set playboy of 2023 is wearing nothing but Brunello Cucinelli sweatpants, rather than Caraceni suits. Then there’s the celebrity influence, where the red carpet seems to be the most extreme it's ever been. In some ways the only options seem to be to scream with your outfit or give up completely.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a conservative rant, blindly arguing for more formal dressing and the resurrection of the tie; the trends have been positive too.

In many ways, these movements have opened up the potential for more personality and creativity, certainly compared to the more restrictive nature of dressing by the ‘rules’ I encountered when I started writing about menswear 15 years ago. I constantly find inspiration in the likes of Ethan Newton or my friend Milad Abedi, both excellent examples of personal style that is aware of, but not restricted by the concept of rules.

My own style is no exception. I experiment with my tailored clothing more frequently these days, making use of knitwear or eccentric accessories rather than the more traditional shirt and tie game. A mint-green knit or even jacket, for example, a heavy western shirt under a jacket, or tonal looks like an all-black outfit.

However, in the past couple of months I've noticed a shift in what gets me going. I've been obsessing over vintage double-breasted suits and jackets from Polo (or Purple Label) Ralph Lauren (with more structure and fullness than any of my existing suits), my ties are back in rotation, and I don’t feel restricted by dressing up anymore.

It was during research on a certain Italian style icon (he may or may not have worn his watch on the outside of his shirt) that I realised how much I enjoy the subtle style of the old industrialists. Despite the formality of their suits, they always had that casual air that everyone seems to crave these days.

They’d wear a grey flannel suit and a light blue button-down shirt; if they wore a tie it would be a wool or cashmere, always a matte finish; and the shoes were most likely brown suede. Men like Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Matteo Marzotto, Franco Minucci and perhaps more than anyone, the late Sergio Loro Piana (below).

You may well say “people wear this type of clothing all the time, what makes their suits so special?”. I think it’s all in the details. The choice of quality Goodyear-welted shoes over cemented faux-leather options, for example. The attention to fit and comfort you get in a properly constructed jacket, rather than the fused suit jackets worn with slim jeans that dominate the workspace here in Stockholm.

I think another aspect of the traditional industrialist’s elegance is the transition between formal and casual.

In almost every casual outfit, there would be a contrast in formality. The polo shirts were paired with sports coats, for example, the chunky roll necks were worn with sleek loafers, and even the jeans were a fuller cut that could compliment a cashmere or linen jacket. And perhaps most importantly, every garment looks like it’s been a treasured piece in the wardrobe for the better part of a decade.

I think a similar philosophy can be applied to the formal suits. Whether the suits were cut in London, Milan, Florence or Naples, they always had a sense of ease.

I remember the first time I was introduced to the term ‘Stile Inglese’ - Italian interpretation of classic British style - and realised how well the two sartorial concepts can be combined. Heavier British flannels like Fox Brothers in a softer Italian construction, for example, combined with OCBD shirts, single cuffs and suede loafers - rather than collar stays, French cuffs and black oxfords.

I’ll give you a few examples of modern men that I think are doing this in their style today. Jake Grantham (above, top), who I don’t think I've ever seen wear shiny shoes, combines elegant and natural colours, often in matte textures, without ever looking dull or boring.

Another is Dag Granath of Saman Amel (above, bottom). Most readers are probably aware of Dag's attention to detail from Saman Amel communications and look books, but Dag's personal style is even more stripped down: jeans, cordovan loafers, a navy jacket and a crisp shirt; it reminds me of how designers used to dress in the past.

A third example is Auro Montanari (above and below), or John Goldberger as many will know him from the watch community. Auro is an older gentleman but dresses with the same playful elegance as these other modern men. His bespoke sports coats are often worn with western shirts, soft slippers and a casual scarf, but then of course some of the finest vintage Cartier watches the world has ever seen.

With all these gentlemen, old and new, the best way I can describe the feeling they give me is that they whisper with their clothing. And like ASMR it gives me the chills. In a good way.

The next talk with Rubato, and pop-up shop updates

The next talk with Rubato, and pop-up shop updates

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I’m pleased to say that the next in our series of talks at Mortimer House will be with Oliver and Carl from Rubato, on March 31st.

These events have a really nice atmosphere, with everyone milling around, browsing the products and chatting to the speaker(s) and each other. Then we normally hang around for a afterwards couple of beers as well, often picking up on topics from the talk. 

I’m sure readers will be interested to hear about how and why Oliver and Carl founded Rubato, but they’re also very thoughtful about style in general - some of the most interesting discussions I’ve had recently have been with them over dinner, about the links between art and style, or modern trends around comfort and simplicity. 

As per usual, the event will start at 6:30pm, with the talk itself beginning at 7pm. Please RSVP to [email protected] if you would like to attend - it’s essential so we have names on the door. 

That talk will be on the Friday of our pop-up on Savile Row - the week when Permanent Style will be there with its products, alongside Rubato. 

As a result we won’t do an opening party for the pop-up (two parties in three days seems a little emuch!) But we will be doing some more events in the coming months, so there’ll be no lack of opportunities to socialise. Details soon.

There are also some updates on the pop-up. The dates, first, to confirm are:

  • Fox (next week): 13-18 March, Monday to Saturday (opening times on their site)
  • Marrkt and Abbots: 23-25 March, Thursday to Saturday
  • Permanent Style and Rubato: 29 March-April 1, Wednesday to Saturday
  • L.E.J: April 17-May 13 (four weeks)

And the updates and details: 

  • Fox will be running a series of events during their week, as well as an archive sale throughout. They can all be seen in detail on the Merchant Fox website. Opening times vary there too.
  • Marrkt will have a small collection of my clothes again, alongside their pre-owned clothing, and I’ll be there on the Thursday for questions about them.
  • Abbots pre-owned shoes will be joining Marrkt for the duration, which brings in a good range of Goodyear-welted shoes, all refurbished for sale. Their site is here.
  • Rubato will have stock and try-ons: pretty much all things available to try-on, just not rollnecks; and stock in most things, just not always every size and every colour. They also have new launches: outerwear and a new colour of the officer’s chino (a nice paler khaki) plus the cardigans etc they just launched online
  • L.E.J have had to delay their pop-up dates so stock has time to arrive. So just note the opening is two weeks later, although the whole event is still running for four weeks. 

I think that’s it, though any questions please do ask. I've tried both the Rubato cardigans (below) and the new trouser colour if anyone has any questions about those.

Looking forward to seeing everybody.

Paolo Martorano bespoke hopsack jacket: Review

Paolo Martorano bespoke hopsack jacket: Review

Wednesday, March 8th 2023
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This bespoke jacket was made for me by Paolo Martorano, the tailor in New York I first covered in 2020

It’s particularly significant because of the dearth of bespoke tailors in the US. Although many tailors travel to the US from the UK and Europe, and some now also have full-time bases in New York - Huntsman, Cad Thom Sweeney - for such a big country with many bespoke customers, there are surprisingly few tailors. To an extent it illustrates the importance to such crafts of tradition and a support network. 

There are some, such as Leonard Logsdail, and we’ve covered them in detail on an article here. The comments on that piece, by the way, are just as useful as the article itself. 

But homegrown tailors remain rare, and so I know American readers will be keen to know what I thought of Paolo’s work, now I was having something made.

The answer is that I think the fit and quality are very good. Certainly on a par with a lot of English tailors, and both more consistent and better finished than some of the cheaper options from, for example, Naples. 

We had three fittings in total (one in London, two in New York) and I think there’s a slight issue we need to work on next time in the closeness of the back and/or armhole. I’m not technical enough to know what the issue is - but I know how it feels and, more importantly, know enough to know what I don’t know. 

However, this is a small quibble. The jacket has beautiful, clearly bespoke shape, from the high and close-fitting collar, through the shape of the chest and into the waist and skirt. It is real bespoke (unlike some US offerings) and shows that in every part of the way it is executed. 

The material is a black, cashmere-mix hopsack. I have many things to say about this choice, but one that should be flagged early is it’s difficult to photograph. 

Put in direct light, it looks wrinkled where it isn’t; put in shadow, you can barely see the shape. Alex and I tried, and this is the best you’re going to get. As I always say though, the images are merely illustrative - there to illustrate written points - and any attempt to judge the fit purely from them is a fool’s errand. 

The other things I have to say about the cloth are more fun, less technical. 

The hopsack is beautiful, soft to the touch but without apparently sacrificing much of the sharpness of a regular hopsack. Paolo was wearing one when we met, and it convinced me to choose that over a regular navy merino. Unfortunately it was a vintage length and no other mill offers a cashmere-blend hopsack as far as I'm aware. 

The colour choice I’m less sure about. Of course, I’ve plunged headlong into black in recent years, and this does seem like a natural extension. But I have the feeling my black tweed might be easier to wear. 

Plus the navy mesh jacket I have from Ettore de Cesare does need to be replaced - it was my first piece from him and isn’t really a style I’d pick now, even if it wasn’t pretty tight. 

I went into colours I like with black jackets on that tweed article, so won’t go through them all again here, but some of them don’t work as well with the sharp hopsack - the browns and greens in more casual materials like corduroy, for example. 

Paolo, by the way, disagrees with me here and thinks black is just as versatile as navy, with the bonus of being less pedestrian. The latter might be driven the greater popularity of navy blazers in the US, compared to the UK; but the former is just a style difference: Paolo would wear this with dark jeans and with cords and chukkas, where I wouldn't.

But returning to Paolo (above). When we had our first fitting in London, I was a little concerned. 

The jacket was cut big, almost everywhere, with the intention to get the balance right and then take it in everywhere. I always emphasise that tailors operate in different ways and the only thing that matters is what works for them, but you’re always a little assured when the fit is close from the very start. 

Fortunately it all worked out, and when we met in New York you could see the jacket had that perfect balance - when you unbutton it, the two sides stay hanging close together (a matter of balance front and back as much as left and right). 

I should also say that Paolo made me a pair of trousers right after that first fitting, and they were superb. Actually, two - he wanted to show me his usual style, which is high rise, double pleated, wider in the leg and with a lapped side seam. 

Those fit well, but weren’t my style. They’ve gone to a good home, while the other pair - in a four-ply high-twist grey/brown from Drapers’ Ascot bunch - will be worn a lot this summer.  

The shape of the jacket is really lovely, which of course is partly driven by Paolo’s house style and partly by my preferences. 

The shoulder is wide, just off my natural shoulder point. There is padding, but only to square the shoulder, not to lift it - there is no padding at the neck, it’s gradually added as you move towards the sleevehead. 

The lapel is wide but not dramatically so (perhaps not noticeable even, to most people), with a little belly. The notch is set a little lower than most ready-made brands, but not to the point of being stylised; I like the fact the gorge points squarely at the shoulder, not the chest or the ears.

There is a little drape in the chest, as Paolo likes, but the fit through the back is quite close, again as Paolo likes. We let this out a little bit after our final fitting, but as I mentioned earlier on, it might need a little bit more.

It’s understandable that a bespoke tailor wants to cut a clean back. It looks so much nicer, especially when the jacket is going to be photographed and pored over in public. But really the style of a bespoke garment is in the shape of the back and chest, the gentle waist suppression and kick into the skirt. It’s not worth sacrificing comfort for that back to be a little closer to the skin. 

The finishing is of a very high standard. Fine buttonholes, lovely taste in the choice of buttons. Though I’m not sure I’d have a pen pocket next time, just because it makes the cut in the cloth through the inbreast pocket more obvious. 

Paolo, as with most people in New York, is not a cutter but works with a dedicated cutter and coatmaker, and I met the cutter during my second fitting - it’s lovely to see the gentle little arguments between people when they discuss the subtleties of bespoke. 

The cutter spent most of his career working with Rafael Raffaelli, and we talked about the influence of different traditions on New York tailoring - many of whom saw Savile Row as the zenith, but came from Italy and had their own traditions too. Many liked a particularly low, droopy gorge for instance. 

They all had to be versatile though, and this gentleman had also worked for Bill Fioravanti, who liked a shoulder that was very different to Raffaelli: “So padded! You could play [American] football in them!” in his words.

Paolo feels that there is a new American tradition to be forged here: something that is definitely not Neapolitan, but not Savile Row either, building on that Italian/New York look that the city's tailors became known for, but updated and refined.

Paolo has moved showrooms since our first visit, though still in the same building. It’s a nice, cosy apartment: you walk through a office hung with fittings (always check out the fittings for inspiration) into the fitting room. 

He’s also still accompanied by Tom Mastronardi, which is a bonus. Tom was with Paolo at Paul Stuart and has excellent taste - I don’t dress in the same style of tailoring as him, but would still always take his advice. Few tailors have someone good like that. 

I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be using Paolo a lot going forward, just because the location makes it inconvenient and he’s not offering something dramatically different to tailors in the UK. 

But then, that’s not what US readers want anyway. They’ll want a good, real bespoke tailor in the US that makes a suit that brings out the full potential of bespoke. And on this evidence, that’s what Paolo Martorano does. 

Cloth is a vintage Super 150s/cashmere hopsack from Standeven. From a current bunch, Paolo would use Drapers 'Jackets & Solaire' bunch for hopsack, though there is no cashmere blend.

Price was $5200 including VAT, which is the starting price for a jacket. Suits start at $7500, trousers $2200. 

Red Rabbit pin and black rayon scarf from Bryceland's. Cotton/linen shirt from D'Avino, grey flannel trousers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury.

www.paolostyle.com. Below, Paolo with guitarist John Pizzarelli

Wearing pink: Tips and combinations

Wearing pink: Tips and combinations

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By Manish Puri

“That was the day I learned how dangerous a color can be. That a boy could be knocked off that shade and made to reckon his trespass. Even if color is nothing but what the light reveals, that nothing has laws, and a boy on a pink bike must learn, above all else, the law of gravity.”

So writes Little Dog (the narrator of Ocean Vuong’s fantastic debut novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous) in a letter to his mother. Even without knowing the specifics of what happened that day, we get it. What lengths have we all gone to, and what expression have we denied ourselves, to avoid becoming the subject of playground taunts?

I didn’t wear pink growing up and so didn’t for most of my adult life – it’s that simple. And for what? To unwittingly preserve an arbitrary distinction that retailers use to flog more baby clothes? (“The more you individualize clothing, the more you can sell,” says Jo B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America).

It wasn’t always this way. Pink has long been a colour sported by the fashionable male; considered to be a shade of red, it shared that colour’s association with power, war and wealth (importing cochineal dye from Mexico in the 16th century wasn’t cheap). It’s only in the latter half of the 20th century that pink and femininity have become intertwined.

I’d like to use this article to help redress that balance slightly, because, worn well, pink is a terrific addition to any man’s wardrobe - it’s fun, flattering and exudes confidence. We’ll look at colour combinations that I think are particularly good, and check out some examples of pink tailoring.

When wearing pink, I think it’s also instructive to consider Simon’s article on subtle vs showy. Because pink is often bright, bold, and distinct, and frequently works best with high contrast looks, it can position an outfit towards the showier end of the spectrum. But I’ll talk about ways we soften that, and look in detail at a subtler shade of pink that is one of my absolute favourite colours.

My hope is that this article inspires readers to embrace pink, and help them to escape those childhood fears.

Pink and white

Whenever I’m uncertain as to how to best incorporate a new, unusual, or strong colour into my wardrobe I start by pairing it with neutrals: white, black, and grey.

We’ll look at each of these in turn, starting with white, which contrasts brilliantly with those pinks that are light, bright, and sugary. Pinks that remind you of candy floss, strawberry lemonade, and Hubba Bubba.

Both Jason Jules and I have paired sherbet-y jumpers with white/off-white denim above, while Kenji Cheung (shown top) has opted for smart trousers, in keeping with his tailored jacket. This is a super fresh and crisp combination, but it does shift the focus onto the pink garment.

The contrast between the two colours doesn’t have to be quite so stark; a soft pink (which is often a little easier to wear) can sit perfectly with a milky knitted polo, a tan, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Inspired by the above, may I also proffer the swim short as a gentle entrée to wearing pink, because, with all due respect, when you or I spend a day at the beach ain’t nobody there to check out our trunks.

This knowledge should empower even the most conservative of town-and-country dressers to throw caution to the sea-breeze; if nobody bats an eyelid at psychedelic Bermuda shorts, animal prints or a brand name emblazoned across the crotch, then a gentle pink is unlikely to cause a stir.

Pink and black

In recent years, Simon has written more and more about black as it returns from its menswear exile. Above, Scott Fraser shows how black and pink can form the chicest of unions. The key is that the trousers are paler than the two jumpers above. Were they not, I suspect the pairing would be much more lurid.

Considering Scott’s outfit alongside Austin Butler’s Elvis (below) also helps to illuminate something of a Russian Doll concept - the spectrum within a spectrum.

Both looks are identical in their use of colour (pale pink and black with accents of white), and both have a certain Rockabilly flair. But Scott’s clothes have no pattern, no silky textures, harmony between the upper and lower proportions, and a clear colour-blocked structure. Next to Elvis, Scott’s notionally showy ensemble appears positively subtle.

It’s these careful distinctions that separate an outfit I would wear in a second, from one I would wear for a second.

Pink and grey

Simon has written tirelessly about the versatility of grey trousers - heck, his article on a five trouser wardrobe had as many as four pairs of grey in there! In a sense, grey trousers are like me in the local pub at 10:30pm: happy to make friends with just about anyone.

Here grey offers a lovely balance to the pink. New York label Stoffa excels in tonal and tone-matching outfits and the two images above (taken from the Summer 2021 lookbook) show how different greys on the bottom harmonise with the two pinks on the body.

The shirt on the right is a pale peach (orangey/pink) and so gets paired with a pale grey. The t-shirt on the left is a richer berry pink and the shorts are a deeper grey-blue colour.

Pink and blue

Whilst a saturated pink and navy is a combination that can work, personally I find the two colours a little strong next to one another. I also think I may have seen the colours used at one wedding too many to turn to it instinctively. With navy, it helps if the pink itself is a paler shade (like the PS pink oxford shirt).

To my eye, pink is more pleasing with paler blues – washed denim instead of raw indigo, and well-worn oxford cloth button downs.

I also find knitwear to be a great way of incorporating pink (and other bold colours) into an outfit – that’s especially true of brushed jumpers (such as the J Press knit on the right) where the fuzzy texture helps soften the colour slightly.

Pink and green

My final thought on embracing pink as a showy colour is to consider it in one of my favourite combinations, with green. This is a natural blend in every sense that delivers a high visual impact thanks to the colours’ complementary nature (this colour wheel tool is a lot of fun to play with).

Above is a photo of my friends Zeena and Zack on their wedding day. Since the Queen’s passing, Zeena may well be the owner of the world’s largest pink wardrobe and is a staunch advocate of the colour’s mood-boosting powers. And so, it was no surprise to any of her guests that her wedding lehenga was a symphony of pinks, set off by Zack’s pastel green shawl and ivory sherwani.

Of course, us Indians are partial to a bit of pink - upon seeing Norman Parkinson’s iconic 1956 British Vogue shoot in India, Diana Vreeland famously commented “how clever of you Mr Parkinson to know that pink is the navy blue of India" - but, even so, I think this is a particularly stunning combination.

Above, Gerardo Cavaliere of Sartoria Giuliva offers a characteristically idiosyncratic take: a lavender pink jacket paired with pistachio trousers. I’m a big fan of how Gerardo puts together striking outfits - slightly offbeat but always tasteful.

And then below him, Nicholas Walter mixes a bright pink V-neck with forest green brushed cotton trousers (and a delightful jacket the colour of Gerardo’s dog - which I’m almost certain is a coincidence).

If the idea of a pink-green combination intrigues, but you find these looks a little punchy, perhaps consider the forest green trousers with a pink-and-white striped shirt, or an ecru pair of jeans, a soft pink t-shirt, and a jungle jacket.

On the subject of shirts, one of Simon’s very earliest posts extolled the virtues of a pink shirt while lamenting the hesitance of his colleagues to try one. I couldn’t agree more and reckon a pink shirt (striped or solid) is one of the easiest (and most flattering) ways for anyone to get a wink of pink into their wardrobe.

The subtle pink

If, despite my best efforts, you remain dubious that pink is for you, can I play one more card? The subtle pink. Commonly referred to as dusty or dusky pink, it’s what comes from mixing pink with grey, brown, or even a little indigo/violet. This combination makes the colour a little cooler, darker, and easier to incorporate into tonal outfits - qualities that should reassure you we’re back on tailor firma.

Take Adam Roger’s vintage mock neck above - were he to tire of gazing enigmatically into the distance, stand up and walk off the photo, I could envisage the outfit finished with charcoal flannels, indigo jeans, or chocolate corduroys (trousers I’d wager are already in the closets of many a reader).

In fact brown, and brown-toned earth colours, is a fantastic companion to this colour.

In the first image above, I’ve worn a mock neck similar to Adam’s (from his Adret label) with taupe flannels and The Anthology x JKF Man collaboration tweed; that the jacket has ripples of pink through it is a welcome echo, but the combination works equally well without.

Next are Gerardo and an image from Brioni’s Spring ‘23 collection. Both looks use a teddy bear brown to infuse warmth and richness. Interestingly, both also employ a contrasting neckerchief to prevent the look from becoming too anodyne – a neat hack for any tonal outfit.

The final comparison above shows the same knit shirt (from Yuri & Yuri) worn two ways. On the right, for the Permanent Style reader profile series, I lent hard into brown tones. However, on the left, Will Field draws out the purple in this shade of dusty pink by layering it under a navy blazer. Replacing my chore jacket with Will’s blazer would result in a classic outfit but with a twist.

Pink tailoring

Most of the looks so far have used pink in quite a casual way. However, I think there’s a case to be made that pink tailoring can be subtle. Or at least lassoed and dragged toward subtlety through a judicious selection of accompanying garments.

I can hear you now: “Are you out of your pink Barbie-sized brain, Manish?!” Alas, you’d not be the first person to say that. For, in many ways, the pink suit is the antithesis of sartorial sobriety.

One of the 20th century’s finest literary works The Great Gatsby invokes the pink suit to underline the parvenu status of Jay Gatsby. "An Oxford man...like hell he is! He wears a pink suit" snorts Gatsby’s antagonist Tom Buchanan.

In Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film adaptation of the novel, the costume designers position Gatsby even further towards the showy end of the spectrum. The white pinstripe in the cloth, the pink and white striped shirt, the blood red and salmon tie, and (off-photo) the tan and chocolate spectator shoes all lend Gatsby the air of a man oozing style but not taste (at least when measured against the standards of New York’s old-money set).

But let’s look at some examples of modern pink tailoring that I think work well.

Above we have jackets in three different luminance’s (four if you count Kenji’s at the summit of this article), some even brighter and bolder in colour than the Gatsby suit, that have all been tamed by the wearer’s monochromatic pairings.

The cloth choice can help here too. The second two jackets above and Simon’s Orazio Luciano jacket are all made from corduroy – a material whose corrugated surface has the magical property of muting colour.

Manish is @The_Daily_Mirror on Instagram

Wedding photography courtesy of The Shannons Photography

PS readers’ Customer Service Award 2023: Anglo-Italian

PS readers’ Customer Service Award 2023: Anglo-Italian

Friday, March 3rd 2023
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Results of the Readers Awards 2023:

  • Best customer service: Anglo-Italian. Runners-up: Anderson & Sheppard, The Armoury
  • Best product: Private White VC. Runner-up: Anglo-Italian
  • Best styling: Drake's. Runner-up: Rubato
  • Best artisan: Corcos. Runner-up: Ciardi

Whenever Jake (Grantham, Anglo-Italian founder) and I talk, we seem to return to themes around British retail, and running small businesses. 

Last time we went for a pint the topic was retail in the sixties: the burst of new stores like Granny Takes a Trip and others around the King’s Road. I believe he was reading a book on it at the time. 

I have to say I don’t find it as interesting as he does. Although we both agree that people in menswear should have more awareness of what came before them - a realisation that Dougie Hayward was doing no-padding shoulders before any of us were born - the things that interest us from these periods in the past are different. 

I’m mostly taken with aesthetics, with style. The things I'll find interesting from that era will be something like the use of suede, or mixed-gender clothing. I'm the same whether it's 50s sportswear, 80s Armani, or 90s J Crew

Not that Jake doesn’t love that stuff too. The stack of reading material in Anglo-Italian might be the most visually stimulating in any store. 

But the thing we always come back to when we talk - and argue about, usually - is the business side of retail, the entrepreneurship. 

Why were people like the British chef Marco Pierre White so successful? Or another hero of his, Terence Conran (below)? What drove them and how did they achieve what they did?

This might seem like a random inspiration for a menswear brand, but if you’re looking for it, there are a few parallels. 

The extent to which menswear brands simply copy things from the past, for example. Not just blatant things like ripping off Loro Piana Open Walks, but more nuanced questions like the use of Native American patterns, or mimicking another tailor’s lapel shape. 

Marco Pierre White (below) talked consistently through his career about his relationship to French cuisine and this tension - how he saw himself as channelling the tradition but also guarding it, in service to it. Few brands today are as honest or modest. (Japanese craftsmen being the obvious exception.)

However, from our conversations I’d say that the most direct link between chefs like White and fashion is how they ran their restaurants.

A restaurant run by a well-known chef is seen as an extension of their personality. Not just the recipes, but the direct management of the cooking, the service and everything around it.

Many chefs these days have multiple restaurants, even franchises, and White himself became an owner/operator after his retirement. But if a chef has one restaurant, we have an expectation that everything is part of their persona - and that was certainly true of White. 

The same should be true of clothing shops. We expect a particular vision from the founders or designers as to what clothes should be like, how they think people can look good. 

Yet with the majority of brands, there is very little of that. Certainly with the staff, and how things are sold, but even with the products themselves - with most mainstream fashion, you’d struggle to see an identity running through it all.

Jake thinks more shops should be run like this, and I tend to agree. I also think it’s a reason so many Permanent Style readers voted for Anglo-Italian as the best customer service brand this year. 

The team of people that now work in the Anglo store (above) don’t all have the same background - not the standard couple of years of retail experience, or the fanboy type that just wants to be close to the brand, but doesn’t perhaps understand the gruelling side of retail. 

Yet the customer service is always consistent, always good. The atmosphere in the shop is always a friendly one, professional but relaxed. In the words of one reader: “You get the impression that absolutely nothing is too much trouble, even with a relative novice, like myself, asking what I’m sure are some pretty dumb questions!”

Another said in the poll: “I find them relaxed and friendly (shout out to Martin and Jeremy in particular). Happy to chat, give advice…talk with your significant other while you try things on. The vibe in the store perfectly matches the vibe they are trying to create with their clothes.”

Note that the staff are always named individually: Andrew also gets a mention in another vote. There are few stores today where customers would do that, but it used to be much more common. 

Jake just takes retail very seriously. I’ve heard him (I promise he didn’t know I was listening) describe what he did as “running a shop in Marylebone”. You could certainly see some false modesty in there, but I find it significant that it’s the shop he focuses on - not which industry, or owning a business.

I know that’s one reason he finds inspiration in chefs like Marco Pierre White. Although, actually, in another way I think this underplays things. 

Because much as chefs can be great at getting everyone to do things how they want, they can struggle to delegate responsibility - for exactly the same reason. This is often the struggle menswear brands have when they grow too: founders struggle to duplicate themselves, to train people to be just as good as they are at communicating the product, and trusting them to do so. 

The most impressive thing about Anglo-Italian might be how much people like Martin and Andrew make the experience feel the same even when Jake isn’t there. 

Not that Jake’s any good at giving up control. He even worked his wedding day - something he’d definitely say today was a failing. But the size of the business today means that he can’t always be there, and in the view of PS readers he’s clearly done a good job at training people to take his place. 

Well done to everyone at Anglo, and to every other shop (Anderson & Sheppard, The Armoury) that drew similar praise for its quality of retail experience. There should be more shops with that kind of personality.

This year when it came to covering the PS Reader awards I decided to only write about one category in depth - this one. 

That made sense to me because the people that did well in other categories (quality, style, bespoke) were familiar names where I couldn’t see something we hadn’t covered. I completely agree on Rubato styling, or Private White quality, but I think I’ve written about them enough. 

I love the awards and enjoy reading all the nominations (all 20,000 words!) but wasn’t sure they needed another three in-depth articles. If you think that’s wrong, or there’s an angle you would have liked to have seen covered, please let me know. 

Introducing: The PS Undershirt

Introducing: The PS Undershirt

Wednesday, March 1st 2023
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For the past five years or so, I’ve been wearing Hamilton & Hare’s tubular T-shirts under things. 

They’re what I wear underneath knitwear, what I wear under a shirt, even what I sleep in. They’re the best fine-cotton tee I’ve ever worn, partly due to the raw material, but also the seamless construction with its sportswear-like panels. 

I have a couple that have been worn over a hundred times, and they’ve aged well: not lost their shape, not lost softness or handle. 

However, there were a couple of things I always wanted to improve. The first was that to get the right fit in the body, I had to take a size Small, which was a rather close fit around the shoulders. 

The second was the neckline, which is a little low, particularly at the back. I couldn’t get that nice line of white showing above knitwear, and I didn’t find the profile at the back flattering. 

It didn’t occur to me to try and change these things, however, until I saw how popular the PS Tapered T-shirts were last year. They’ve sold through again and again - so I thought it would be nice to try and produce a perfect version of the other model of tee I wear. 

This is the new collaboration that was flagged up in our round-up of of Spring/Summer products a few weeks ago: the PS Undershirt

I’m pleased with how well it fits in with everything else. The T-shirt is something I’ve worn and mentioned on PS for years, and it's what I’d wear under the Cashmere Rugby or Dartmoor (if I wanted the neckline to show) plus the only thing fine enough to wear under the upcoming Finest Crewneck

However, I should make it clear that this T-shirt can be worn on its own as well, if you want to. It doesn’t look strange or transparent - simply like a lightweight tee. I tend to prefer heavier, Japanese-style T-shirts when I’m wearing one on its own, but I know some readers (particularly in hot countries) will be different.

This also means, importantly, that if you’re wearing it under a sweater, there’s nothing preventing you taking that sweater off (unlike a vest or Henley-style undershirt). 

So what makes this such a good undershirt? 

First is the fine, open-weave cotton of the body. This is highly breathable, and its lightness is a big part of the reason I can wear it and completely forget I have it on. 

The material fits closely to start with, but then grows, adapting to your body. This type of stretch is something you find in a lot of good undershirts - such as the Lee Kung Man undershirts from Bryceland’s for example, the only one I’ve found as comfortable.

That stretch was part of the reason I wanted to change the sizing compared to the H&H version. I found a Medium became too big in the body for me, so I had to size down to a Small, but with a 39-inch chest and 34-inch waist, I’m not really a small. 

So on our version, I took the body fit of the Small and paired it with the shoulders of the Medium. This feels more like a regular fit to me now - certainly, the kind of fit readers will be used to from PS shirts and knitwear. 

The Undershirt then has panels of a pique mesh cotton running up the side body, which add breathability and remove the side seams. It’s an interesting addition, as this construction technique is really only used elsewhere on sportswear - with football tops for example. 

The panels are very subtle - as you can see in the image above. You’d barely notice them if they weren’t pointed out, which again is why it doesn’t look odd if you wear it on its own. 

The bottom of the T-shirt is finished with a ribbed hem. This gives it some grip, but there’s no gathering or elasticity - it sits flush with the body. I’ve had tees in the past that had this, from Iron Heart for example, but the ribbing was tighter and it kind of crimped the hem, which didn’t look great. 

Hamilton & Hare also put the care instructions on the inside of that hem, reducing the number of labels needed inside.

The neckline has been changed to be closer to that of our Tapered Tee. 

I know a lot of readers will be familiar with that fit now, but if anyone isn’t you can see it on the original article here, as well of course in the images today. It’s relatively high, in the back and front, but without being tight. I have a pretty big head (60cm) and it goes over easily.

In terms of sleepwear, I’ve never really liked pyjamas - I find they pull as soon as move or turn, and ride up. I have some nice ones from Anderson & Sheppard, but I put them on in the morning, for the hour and a half between getting up and my first opportunity to have a shower. 

I sleep in underwear, with perhaps a merino T-shirt (old Private White ones) in the Winter but Hamilton & Hare ones the rest of the time. Everyone is different of course, but if anyone wears a T-shirt at night, they might find this the most comfortable version. And in fact if they wear nothing on top they might even like it too, as they’re unlikely to even notice it. 

I really hope you like the shirt, and it becomes as much a go-to for you as it is for me. 

I do like the look of a T-shirt under a shirt these days (above, as discussed previously) and this is the only one that I find works well. It's almost as long as the shirt itself, fits snug to the body but grows where it needs it, and doesn't ride up out of the trousers as a result.

And when I put on a sweater the rest of the time - any sweater, but particularly something slimmer like a Colhay’s or finer like a Smedley - this is always what I wear. 

The Undershirt is available on the PS Shop now, price £55 (including VAT).

Product details:

  • 100% fine cotton
  • Tubular knit, with no body seams
  • Flat, forward seams on the shoulders 
  • Mesh pique panels in the side body
  • Ribbed hem

Fit details:

  • Body fits slightly slim, but grows as you wear it, adapting to size
  • As a result, can fit up to two inches larger in width than shown in the chart below; will feel snug when first worn
  • Simon wears a Medium and has a 39-inch chest, a 34-inch waist
  • In the images, it has been worn it all day and loosened to size
  • Long in the body, designed to be tucked in and stay that way

 

Small Medium Large Extra large
Chest width 47cm 50 53 56
Hem width 45.5 48.5 51.5 54.5
Back length 68 70 72 74
Neck width 18 19 20 21
Bicep width 18 19 20 21

Navy knit shown: Fender II from SNS Herning at John Simons. Tailoring outfit: PS chambray shirt and Sartoria Ciardi jacket, in detail here.

Reader profile: Simon

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Simon is only our second reader profile from outside the UK. He lives in New York, although when we talk on the phone he’s actually in Washington DC, having just landed on the red eye from Arizona. 

Simon travels a lot. He’s a journalist and his travels drive a lot of his wardrobe, which has to be practical off camera but also presentable on it. Although this can be restrictive, it’s also introduced him to many little shops and brands, from Miami to Belfast.

Having met at our pop-up shop in New York last year, it was great to have the time to talk to Simon more - about his time as a DJ, about menswear silhouettes, and about comfortable shoes for the (slightly) older man.

Outfit 1: 

  • Jumper: The Real McCoy’s
  • Linen knit shirt: The Real McCoy’s
  • Socks: Rototo
  • Trousers: P44s, The Real McCoy’s
  • Trainers: New Balance

Tell us about the kind of journalism you do, Simon.

Well I worked for many years in the UK for Panorama, as an investigative reporter. After that I was the current affairs correspondent on The One Show for a white. And now I work for Al Jazeera in the US - I’m the senior reporter on the investigation team. So a lot of moving around, a lot of interviews. 

Can you wear clothes like the ones pictured on the job? 

The casual pieces like this first outfit, sure. The job has two phases really: on screen and off screen. During the off-screen part I can wear what I want, things that are very me. 

I can’t wear clothes that take too much preparation - shirts that need ironing, trousers that need pressing - because it’s just not practical. But I dress in very functional clothes anyway, so it’s easy. I’d wear the outfit shown here for a coffee in the morning in New York, but also yesterday walking around in Arizona. 

And when you’re on screen?

If I know I’ll be doing interviews on screen, or a stand up, then I’ll wear something smarter - but also that doesn’t stand out. I think most journalists would agree that the aim with your clothing there is to not distract from anything you’re saying. 

I remember in the days when I was doing The One Show - where it would be two days of travelling, two days of shooting on screen - I drifted into a kind of Ivy League look: chinos, button-down shirt, jumper. It was anonymous. The shirt would have been OrSlow, the jumper from Scotland, but it would be very simple.

The clothes you’re wearing here are a little more characterful than that, though. 

True, and sometimes I might tone it down a little. Yesterday I was wearing these same Margaret Howell trousers with just a navy jumper and some Alden loafers, for example. 

But actually I find as I get older - I’m turning 50 this year - I can wear more interesting things. I think if I’d worn white trousers like this 20 years ago, it would have been seen as more of a fashion choice, but it doesn’t now. Part of it might be that I’m just more comfortable in those clothes - they are very much me, they suit who I am, and I’m used to them. 

Are the trainers part of that journey too? 

Yes, partly. I used to wear Converse all the time - high tops, low tops, with everything. But walking around New York all day I eventually felt the effect of having no support at all - it was killing my back. 

And these felt like a good compromise - they’re not the hyper-cool trainer that an ad exec wears, to try and look down with the kids. But they’re not the old person’s comfort-is-everything trainer either: the kind of thing a politician wears to a conference.

Outfit 2

  • Flannel suit: Drake’s
  • Denim shirt: Vintage, from Front General
  • Undershirt: Vintage, from Front General
  • Pocket handkerchief: RRL
  • Socks: Drake’s
  • Shoes: Black-scotchgrain longwings, Alden

How did you get into more classic, crafted menswear?

That was a function of travel. My work has meant that I’ve lived in DC, Belfast, travelled almost everywhere around the world. And in each place I found different styles, was exposed to new things. 

I remember walking into The Bureau in Belfast, and seeing a raft of brands I hadn’t seen anywhere else. Then Oi Polloi in Manchester. In Florence I discovered vintage places, and little menswear shops that you couldn’t buy anywhere else. This was partly before social media too, pre-2010 or so, when there was much less awareness.

I remember when I first found your website, I was surprised that everyone knew about these brands - that it was a much bigger world than I’d realised. 

Do you still seek out these kinds of places when you travel?

Yes, absolutely. The great thing about the internet is that now when I know I’m travelling somewhere, I’ll look up whether there’s a nice little vintage shop I can visit. 

So there’s a great vintage shop in Denver I went to as part of a work trip for example - La Lovely I think it’s called. There’s Supply & Advise in Miami, that’s great. And when I lived in Brooklyn I’d go to Front General, where this shirt and undershirt are from. 

Last year I went to Tokyo for the fifteenth time, and no matter how many times I go there I always discover something new - some cities are just built like that, so big and so set up for small retail. 

This second outfit is smarter - is this the kind of thing you wear today when you’re on screen? 

Smarter than this really - this Drake’s suit but with a shirt and tie. Although, wearing a tie on TV now almost seems like too much: because so few people wear them, wearing one might stand out more than not wearing one. 

I wear this suit with a tie when I’m giving speeches at conferences though, and the night before these shots were taken I wore it to an awards ceremony in New York, with the same denim shirt and handkerchief, because you can be a little bit more expressive there. 

Outfit 3:

  • M65 field jacket: Vintage, The Vintage Showroom
  • Trousers: Margaret Howell painter trousers 
  • Beanie: Drake’s
  • Jumper: Margaret Howell
  • Boots: Alden Indy boots
  • Bag: Vintage

The M65 here looks great, where was it from? 

From The Vintage Showroom in London, back when they had the store. So much of my knowledge about clothes comes from talking to managers of vintage stores, who 99% of the time are incredibly helpful and friendly. 

I actually got stuck in London during Covid, and The Vintage Showroom was one of the only shops that was open. It was about 100 metres from the Air BnB where I was staying, so I used to pop in most mornings and just have a chat. 

They had a first model M65 and I’d always wanted one. It’s hard for me to find vintage though, being a bigger guy. Everything is always too small. So when I tried this one and it fit perfectly, it was a done deal, no brainer. I love vintage sweatshirts too, but during their 50 years of existence they’ve all been washed a thousand times, and now they’re all tiny. 

How did you get into vintage clothing?

My interest has come and gone over the years. The first time was probably when I was growing up in the mid-eighties: the fashion was Lacoste and Lyle & Scott knits, with Sta Prest trousers, but a lot of people would seek out earlier, unusual versions of the knits in bright, lurid colours.

Then when I was 18 and 19, I was DJ’ing and the music was funk, Northern Soul. Everyone there would dress in vintage from the fifties. They’d wear white-collar shirts, vests, leather jackets, all from vintage markets around London. I didn’t wear most of it because it felt like costume to me when it was all together, but I saw it and appreciated it, and adopted the odd piece. 

In my twenties vintage wasn’t really consideration, it was new brands - Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein - and I was working too hard to really think about clothing much. But then vintage came back around in my thirties, just because I saw more people wearing it, things you couldn’t get in normal shops. 

I vividly remember seeing this older guy sitting on a bench in New York, wearing an amazing, thick suede overshirt with a red beanie. It looked about 100 years old. I tried to find something similar everywhere, but without any luck. 

I have been eyeing one in Drake’s, but it’s $2000! Maybe one of these days. With the red beanie that would certainly be a very current look.  

It sounds like you’ve honed your taste over the years. 

Yeah, I think when I was younger I would be very influenced by every shop I went into - it would be about trying to wear what they were offering. Today I have a much clearer idea of what I like and what suits me, so it’s more a case of going into a shop and seeing what interesting things work with that. 

Is the bag vintage as well? 

Yes. A while ago I went to Brimfield, this big antiques market upstate. I didn’t find anything there, but on the way back I dropped into a vintage shop in Sag Harbour, on Long Island, and found this great old bag. 

Do you think you suit bigger pieces like that, as a bigger guy?

I never thought about it actually, but you’re probably right. People do comment that it’s the biggest bag like that they’ve seen, but it never feels big to me - probably because of my height. I need to repair it actually, I’ve done that a few times with an old pilot’s bag of mine, and this needs some attention too.

It also reminds me of a benefit I find in sites like yours: explaining why things work and don’t. I don’t read guides to learn how to dress, but now and again one of them will explain something well. In this case, it reminds me of a point I read that clothes are a lot about silhouette - this scale of bag works with the silhouette of my shape and the kind of clothes I wear. 

I remember years ago I bought a big Stetson hat, and thought I looked a million dollars in it. I wore it in LA - carrying it on my lap on the plane from New York. But when I walked into a bar I saw another guy wearing one too, and it looked so much better on him - a billion dollars! I realised the proportions just didn’t work on me. 

It now sits on top of a wardrobe in my house, and makes a great ornament. 

Thanks Simon, a pleasure and hopefully see you in New York in the Autumn. 

Sounds great Simon, looking forward to it.

Photography: Christopher Fenimore

Ettore de Cesare bespoke navy overcoat

Ettore de Cesare bespoke navy overcoat

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Friday, February 24th 2023
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This overcoat from Ettore de Cesare in Naples has been featured before, in the style feature a couple of weeks ago talking about silk scarves and shades of navy. 

However, there have been a few comments recently that readers appreciate articles on new commissions, even if I’ve used the tailor before and effectively reviewed their work. 

I can see how it serves as a focus for current thoughts on a category of bespoke tailoring, such as overcoats today. I might make one a year, for example, and covering it is a useful jumping-off point for discussions of how one’s wardrobe evolves, or changing views on value - or simply a place where readers can ask all the questions they have right now about coats. 

So here’s a little review of this new coat from Ettore, followed by more general points. 

Ettore de Cesare is a solid technician. All the pieces I’ve had from him have fit well from the start, and this coat was no exception. 

The main things I look for at the first fitting are inevitably the ones where I know tailors have difficulties. They include a clean drop at the top of the sleeve, which isn’t always easy with my rounded shoulders; the right side of the garment (my right) as my lower right shoulder can make the balance hard; and a close fit on the collar, which makes a big difference on my slightly long neck. 

Ettore nailed all these things. Of course, he has an established pattern for me now, but that was true with the first coat six years ago too

I’ve included some straight-on photos below to illustrate. The only thing I’d want to improve would be lifting up the shoulders at the back, although bear in mind I like a lot of fullness in the back of a coat: there’s nothing worse than trying to get on a coat over a jacket when the fit is just a bit too tight. 

Of course, this style of Ulster coat also deliberately has fullness visibly gathered into the waist, whatever form of pleat or fold it’s done with.

Where Ettore and I often differ is style. His default with a jacket with a high gorge, a shorter length and a close fit. The more contemporary end of the Neapolitan style spectrum. 

Fortunately we’ve established that this isn’t my style now, and again, fittings run well as a result. The amount of comfort I like has been noted - not just mentally, but I’m sure somewhere physically on the patterns. 

Style issues did rear their head again with this coat, however, due in part to a lack of communication, and in part the lack of examples to try on.

I could see most aspects of the style of the coat at the fitting - the height of the waist button, the amount of overlap, the line of the lapel. But as is often the case, we were drawing on the position and angle of the gorge - and therefore the shape of the collar. 

The gorge line on the final result was more downward-sloping than I expected, certainly compared to other Ulster-style coats. Look at my Liverano or Ciardi versions, and you can see the difference. 

When the collar is up, this just means there is a slightly smaller, slightly more pointed shape around the chin. But when it’s down I think the shape of the collar rather stands out, and I do wear coats more with the collar down these days - usually with a scarf, with a smarter outfit. 

Unlike other overcoats, Ettore also included a button on the cuff of the coat. It’s not a big thing, but had I known it was going to be there I would have gone without. I think it looks a little lost next to the big turn-back cuff. 

The top set of buttons on the front were also set quite far apart, but that of course can be changed. 

Overall, while I like the coat, it’s a reminder of the point I made in my first piece on my favourite tailors: whenever possible see an example of the thing you’re going to commission, especially if it’s a DB or overcoat, where design choices make such a difference. 

The material, on the other hand, was absolutely perfect: a Fox Brothers 20oz merino in a midnight herringbone (CT12). Deliberately a little lighter in weight than some of my others, but dense and with a lovely drape.

My other navy DB coat, a cashmere from Cifonelli, is still great but isn’t quite as versatile this will be. Not just because of the visible finishing on the Cifonelli, but because that cashmere makes it too formal (for me) to look good with jeans. 

Although I’ve never worn that Cifonelli heavily - given it’s never been my only coat - I still think the cashmere has aged pretty well. But this wool will be better, and have that versatility of style. 

That’s illustrated by the outfit here. Even thought it’s fairly smart (the navy jacket and trousers detailed previously here) the old Ralph Lauren cap sits better with this coat than with the luxe Cifonelli. Contrast is intended, but not quite that much. 

Other things to note are the suede that Ettore often uses on his clothing, and I have here in black on my undercollar. 

And on the flip side, I think it’s fair to say Ettore’s finishing is not quite as good as some Neapolitans, and certainly not at the level of the English, French or Milanese. That lapel buttonhole is about average for Naples, with some finer and longer.

We took these shots one evening in Naples, by the way, on the waterfront after a busy day visiting factories. I think the details come out enough, but if anything isn’t clear please do ask. 

Seeing them again reminds me how great a DB overcoat like this looks in use, in motion, with hands in pockets and even in trouser pockets. Static poses just never do it justice. 

Ettore de Cesare travels to London regularly, usually using the Holland & Sherry showrooms, now in a bigger space on Savile Row. 

The overcoat cost £3500, which is Ettore’s starting price for all wool coats. Jackets start at £2500. You can see where they’re made, in Ettore’s Neapolitan workshop, from our visit here. 

www.ettoredecesare.it

Introducing: The new Reversible Suede Bomber

Introducing: The new Reversible Suede Bomber

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The new version of our reversible suede bomber jacket - reversible so you can turn it inside out at the first hint of rain - is finally here. 

Much as I liked the previous version, the process of designing the Linen Harrington - essentially from scratch - was more personal and I think led to something that was unique, as well as highly functional and modern. 

So I wanted to go through that process with the suede jacket, and these changes to both proportion and design were not something we could do under the Valstarino banner. So Valstar and PS parted friends, and I began the process of creating something different. 

Functionally, this suede jacket is basically the same as the previous iteration. It’s just as luxurious, just as versatile, and swaps from suede outer to water-resistant inner in the same way. You pull the arms through, then push through as many buttons as you need.  

But design wise, it is significantly different. It has a raglan shoulder with prominent seams. There is no elastic at the neck, only the waist. There are plunge pockets on the outer layer, with patches on the inside. And the suede is heavier, giving it a satisfying feel.

Taking those points one at a time, the raglan shoulders create an easier body shape for a lot of people to wear over a variety of weights of clothing; but actually, the reason I like them in the suede is primarily a design one. In a dark, matte material like this, they provide a nice focus, something that is distinctive but subtle. 

We’ve retained the scalloped yoke on the back of the jacket from the Linen Harrington, and I like that for the same reason. The horizontal line across the back is very flattering, as well as creating another point of interest. 

Using suede at the neck instead of ribbing also picks up a point from the Harrington (just without the extended closure). I find it more comfortable to wear without the elastication, and it creates a cleaner, more elegant look. 

The use of plunge pockets on the outside (rather than rectangular patches) is also more streamlined. You’d think sporty raglan sleeves and a cleaner look elsewhere could be contradictory, but they sit very nicely together. (Indeed, the original A1 design design has the opposite combination.)

Having patch pockets on the inside of the jacket is also more functional than our previous iteration of this jacket, which had plunge pockets on the inside. With this version, those patches inside are effectively normal inbreast pockets, just lower, and still look good when the jacket is reversed.

The fit of the new jacket is more similar to the Linen Harrington too, in that it is blousier in the body, creating a nice flattering shape in the chest and back, sitting above a neat waist. 

However, the sizing is not exactly the same. I would expect readers to wear much thicker layers under the suede jacket, so a Medium in that comes up rather bigger than a Medium in the linen. 

To help everyone understand this, and illustrate the difference, I’ve taken shots here in both a Small (size 3) and a Medium (4). I would take a Medium, as I do in the Harrington, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will - I like to layer thick knitwear under mine, such as heavy roll neck, but others may not. 

The shots of the jacket above are all in a Small. Lower down this article are shots in a Medium (in the sweatshirt). Directly below this paragraph are photos of both sizes, with the Small on the left and the Medium on the right. It's important to bear in mind, however, that a neater fit will very often look better when static, less so when moving.

Click on the images to enlarge and zoom.

Personally, I think a larger fit is more relaxed and elegant, but I know people are difference - it is a question of style as well as layering. And both can look great, as hopefully the more styled images everywhere else attest. 

For anyone that doesn’t know, I’m six foot (183cm) with a 39 inch (99cm) chest, a 34 inch (86cm) waist and weigh 12.5 stone (79kg). As ever, the most effective way to tell your size, though, is to compare the measurements of an actual jacket in the table below, to something similar you already own. 

Turning to materials, I'd say the suede of the new jacket is roughly 15% heavier than previous versions. This is not enough to make it functionally different - I still wear it the same times of the year, in the same weather - but it gives it a little more substance, which I find satisfying. 

The colour of the suede is dark brown, a touch darker than our previous iteration and a touch colder (deliberately), but still that most versatile of menswear colours. The shade shown varies a little with light and shadow, direct and reflected sun, but the shot below is accurate if readers want a specific reference. 

The lining of the jacket is still a highly water-resistant polyamide. Over many different versions of this jacket I’ve found this is a nice combination of weight, breathability and rain-resistance. 

It feels like a regular jacket lining (not stiff or less comfortable to wear) and is easy to slip on and off. But when reversed, there is still enough protection for a good walk in the rain.

As described previously, the point of the Reversible Suede Jacket is not that you use it as a waterproof, deliberately going out into a downpour. Rather it makes a suede jacket more functional, enabling you to wear it without any fear that it could start raining. It removes that fear. 

On the topic of weather, I’m pleased we’ve finally managed to get the jacket out (so many delays, everywhere) at the perfect time of year to wear it. 

Right now is when I start transitioning from long winter coats to shorter ones such as this suede. Maybe with a heavier knit underneath to start with; maybe with a hat and scarf. But the weather now (in the UK) is perfect. 

Like the look below: a heavy sweatshirt (Real McCoy’s Ball Park) with jeans, boots, and a cashmere PS watch cap. Casual but still well dressed. 

The other look shown here, at the top of the article, is intended to demonstrate how smart the bomber can go. 

The combination of tailored wool trousers, neat cashmere crewneck and leather loafers is a nice example of something smart that doesn’t involve tailoring - casual chic, as I’ve accurately or inaccurately called it in the past. 

Just because you’re not wearing a suit and tie doesn’t mean you can’t look elegant.

Of course, the fact both top and bottom are shades of grey makes it a tiny bit more unusual; navy or cream on top would be more conventional. And separating those shades of grey with a belt makes a big difference. 

All things we’ve talked about in recent months. All things that are probably now operating at the level of the subconscious. 

As mentioned earlier, with this grey/grey outfit I’m wearing a Small. With the sweatshirt and jeans it’s a Medium. 

At the very bottom of the article, though, I’ve included a few images of the previous iterations of the jacket. This is purely to remind readers (or show more recent joiners) other ways in which I like to wear one. The jacket in these shots is in all cases a variation on the Valstarino, not this new version. 

Product details: 

  • The Reversible Suede Jacket is available on the Permanent Style shop now, here.
  • The cost is £1125 plus VAT. The increase is unfortunately a reflection of rising costs in everything from raw material to labour to energy. But nothing else. As ever, it is well priced and I think very good value for money. 
  • The jacket will also be sold by the makers, Private White VC, but not for a week or so. 
  • The suede is reverse goatskin, with a thickness of 0.5/0.6mm
  • The lining is water-resistant polyamide
  • The buttons are the unpolished, two-button, buffalo-horn buttons used on all PS outerwear
  • In terms of care, cleaning of suede is easier than most people think - see video here for details. 

Sizing details:

  • As mentioned above, the jacket comes up a little large, to reflect how I like to wear it as well as potential layering. 
  • Have a look at the comparison images to see how a Small and Medium fit on me, and use the table below to compare them to a jacket you already own (always the best option, if you can).

Sizing table:

X-Small (2) Small (3) Medium (4) Large (5) X-Large (6) XX-Large (7)
Chest width 53cm 55.5 59 62.5 66 69.5
Back length 66 66.5 67.5 68.5 69.5 70.5
Ribbing width 38.5 41 44.5 48 51.5 55
Sleeve length 83 83.5 85 86.5 88 89.5

Body length: From bottom of neck to bottom of jacket, including rib

Sleeve length: From bottom of neck, along raglan seam on top of arm, to end of sleeve including rib

Ribbing width: When ribbing at bottom of jacket is relaxed, stretches to 10cm greater

Note: images below are of previous iterations of the jacket, and are included merely for styling. The design has now changed.

Video: Jamie Ferguson on photography and style

 

This was really fun. I guess it’s always easier interviewing someone you know well, but there’s also a temptation there to just chat – to forget the perhaps more significant topics you had wanted to discuss. 

I think we got a nice balance. There are a few laughs about Jamie’s bright shoes, but also some serious ones about how he got into photography, the kind of shots that bring him the most pleasure, and whether he could ever style anyone other than himself. 

I hope you enjoy it. We had the support of Bucherer Certified Pre-Owned watches this time, who brought along a selection of interesting models that readers had great fun talking about before the talk started. Having them on board means we can carry on doing this series for a good while, so thanks to them. 

 

 

This is the third in a series of talks that have taken place at Mortimer House, with an audience of around 50 or 60 readers. The first one with Tony Sylvester delved into subcultures, while the second with Ethan Newton talked about how Bryceland’s has developed. 

In this video I am wearing my brown corduroy suit – the jacket having been made by Sartoria Ciardi and the trousers by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury – with a white PS Oxford shirt and a black knitted-silk tie. The loafers are the Greenwich tassel from Edward Green, in black cordovan.

 

Day in, day out: On uniform dressing and travel

Day in, day out: On uniform dressing and travel

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Charcoal trousers from a suit, with tweed jacket swapped in

By Emilie Hawtin

Developing a personal uniform is a common goal for those that are into clothing, I find. It has the twin benefits of being personal yet easy, distinctive yet versatile.

Where some people want depth and variety in their wardrobe, and dress for mood, others strive for consistency. To my surprise I’ve become one of the uniformists.

It can sound unappealing to those that aspire to, for example, visit every tailor in Naples. But I have to say it gave me great pleasure when I arrived for Pitti Uomo last month to breeze past menswear aficionados struggling with their Rimowas on the cobblestones, with just hand luggage. That feeling, and a head free of decisions, was worth every one of the shirts left behind.

 

Jacket from linen suit, with brown trousers

For years I thought uniforms were reserved for iconoclasts like Tom Wolfe, Giorgio Armani, Wes Anderson or Jarvis Cocker. Their refusal to change their clothes was a sophisticated form of art, their self-knowledge an act of rebellion.

That changed when I had a linen suit made a few years ago (jacket pictured above). It’s not what you would think would wear easily, but I found incredibly easy to wear.

In fact, you might feel you’ve seen this before, and you probably have – in the piece I wrote for Permanent Style last year. The suit is the same, but the topic different; which of course just shows what a useful, much-loved uniform it has become.

 

The longer length and high, central vent

Developing a uniform is different for everyone, but I start with a perfectly fitting base. For me that’s a suit silhouette that’s loose fitting with a longer jacket, a high back vent (above) and slightly tapered side-tab trousers, here the Clementina suit from J.Mueser.

This ivory linen I wear as a suit, but also rotate in trousers - brown, green and beige. Then in the winter months I swap the linen for wool - charcoal-grey or navy blue - and rotate in tweed or herringbone jackets. Mine, in the same cut, is shown at the top of this article and below.

 

The grey wool suit, in a more dressy combination

With that established, you can play with shirts, scarves and pocket squares, socks and shoes. I think these expressive layers can add dimension to every man’s wardrobe, as well as mine. 

For daytime I stick to Speciale 324 point-collar shirts in cheerful blue and ivory, which have a very slight silky feel and rounded cuff, or thin-striped shirts in neutrals like brown and beige.

And for a change of pace I might try a cord Western. I prefer soft ivory to stark white, which I think is more elegant and more flattering.

 

Shirt and scarf options ready for packing

Accessories on top of a base like this are easy, a delight.

I carry an array of patterned neck scarves from Charvet, Drake’s, old YSL, eBay, plus some navy bandanas (above). They change the mood and are featherweight for travel.

I always have extras in my bag (a Chiarastella Cattana olive tote I borrow from my partner David) – on a daily basis. Scarves are a point of visual flair and stand out against a solid suit.

For dressier occasions I wear a Charvet men’s tuxedo shirt, understated cuff links, and more scarves or ribbon neckties to create a particularly Ralph Lauren look (shown above, seated).

I enjoy Bombas men’s dress socks (good weight, stay upright and surprisingly warm) and Speciale 324 silks. I find a classic wool suit paired with boldly colored socks in purple, red or yellow very appealing and attractive on men. But when in doubt, I go with brown.

 

The shoe options - a range of looks, but all black

Shoes are simple: Friulane velvet slippers, a pair of suede loafers from Baudoin & Lange, Belgian loafers, and a pair of opera pumps in black calf that work well with suits, tuxedos or with jeans. These shoes are all comfortable, nuanced, dressy, timeless, and have a certain worldly flair.

Many of these are black editions of otherwise preppy shoes – something I think of as ‘goth prep’. They bring a touch of rebellion to East-Coast traditional style and it works with Belgians, opera pumps, desert boots or penny loafers.

Velvet Fruilane slippers are incredibly utilitarian and stylish. They bring diversity and are made for European cobblestones, beaches, black tie, linen suits, wool trousers, jeans and all four seasons. I can’t say that about any other shoe. It’s fun to collect them from different Italian regions, and I often pick up a pair in Florence.

In Venice, I go to Piedaterre, which makes my favourite style with an elongated toe and last. Brown velvet makes an ongoing appearance and emerald green changes the game. These add an easy feeling to my suits and I find them flattering on all men and women.

 

An example of a full bag, including what I'll be wearing

Of course, part of the point of writing this is that I think these key pieces and my approach to dressing overall can easily translate to a man’s wardrobe.

That’s largely because they’re sourced from men’s brands and tailors. As a woman, I eschew menswear ‘rules’ and experiment with the classics. But any man can also wear a charcoal grey suit and rotate in western, striped or tuxedo shirts as well as patterned pocket squares.

I think they should also be encouraged to wear a suit in the first place. If you feel overdressed that’s a good sign. (Although maybe save any pinstripes for later.)

 

The linen jacket with white jeans

I find uniform dressing particularly personal as, almost by definition, it’s something that reflects the wearer more than anything else. Often the wearer will have cycled through countless other genres over the years, before settling on something that feels like them - that feels like home.

Ease is the gift of uniform dressing. Although we all admire the sophisticated layers worn by Italian tailors and Japanese buyers at Pitti, it’s often their sense of ease that is most appealing – and transcends any trends.

Uniform dressing is for those who know what they like, can admit what they don’t, and have the confidence to wear a variation of the same thing every day. With self-knowledge and discipline, you arrive at a world of fewer, finer things. You require less and yet communicate so much more.

Emilie Hawtin is an editorial director and style commentator, based in New York.

 

The linen jacket with green trousers

Expressing yourself: How to dress like Milad Abedi

 

The photographer Milad Abedi is someone whose style I’ve liked for a long time, but in a quiet way. Whenever we’ve shot together I’ve been interested in what he’s wearing and found something I liked, but he wasn’t the first person I thought about for PS series like this.

That changed when we spent more time together on a trip to Rome last year, and talked more. Although we dress a little differently, we have very similar views on a lot of aspects of style. Milad just tends to push the boat out a little more, wants to experiment and isn’t afraid to – even wants to – stand out. 

As readers have commented, this is often a nice aspect of these ‘How to dress like’ articles. Unlike the Reader Profiles, the people featured are from the menswear industry. They often dress in more unusual, more unique ways. It’s less likely you’d dress in the same way, but more likely that they’ll suggest new ideas.

 

 

Outfit 1: Working unusual pieces

  • Ball cap: Vintage RL Polo Sport
  • Jacket: Vintage Schott NYC, Made in USA
  • Knitwear: Eidos honeycomb knit
  • Trousers: Bespoke from Zaremba, in heavy Fox Flannel
  • Boots: Barbanera

PS: This seems like a good example of your style to start with. Much of this pretty classic – the cream flannel, the suede jacket and boots – but you went for a fringed western jacket rather than something more conventional.

Milad: Yes, I tend to like more unusual and eccentric pieces of clothing like this. I think too often guys are scared and say things like ‘I couldn’t pull that off’, but don’t give them a chance. My attitude is I could wear almost anything if I can find the right way to do it.

For example, I saw Tony [Sylvester] with leopard-print Grecian slippers a while back. I don’t necessarily dress like him, and I wouldn’t wear them that way, but I liked them as individual pieces and I was sure I’d sfind ways to incorporate them into my wardrobe. They turned out to be one of my most used pair of shoes and I wear them with everything, from black tie to pyjamas at home.

Would you be limited by things like skin colour, or proportion?

Those would be my only limitations pretty much, and my usual starting point when deciding on new pieces, besides price! If a colour works on me, or if it has the right proportions for my kind of frame.

That was how I first got into classic menswear actually. Not because I wanted to dress up in a suit and tie, but because I wanted to find trousers that worked for my build – that didn’t mean my thighs rubbed together and the crotch blew out.

So I discovered things like pleats, a full cut and a high rise, and It made a big difference. This further reinforced my thoughts about what good design is, and form following function.

 

 

Outfit 2: Working

  • Ball cap: Vintage RL Polo Sport
  • Jacket: Private White VC wax Twin Track
  • Jeans: Cream selvedge Berg & Berg denim
  • Boots: Morjas

This shot was taken when you were on location shooting for Ralph Lauren. How much does your occupation shape what you wear?

A lot! I spend so much time travelling that clothes have to be versatile, and then I’ll be shooting for a lot of the time, so they have to be somewhat practical. I do make sacrifices though.

Today I’m shooting with you but I’m wearing black-suede loafers, because I have a black-tie dinner on Wednesday – for this trip I needed shoes that could work for both.

I often find the key to packing well and quickly is colour palette – decide you’re going to wear cream, black and camel during the week, and then everything in those colours work together. Or only take black or brown shoes, just in different styles for different occasions.

It’s not all function though and I’m happy to wear less practical things if it makes me feel better about how I present myself. For example, today I’m wearing your camel overcoat from The Anthology, which isn’t the most practical thing for shooting. But I don’t mind if it gets on the ground a bit. I’ll brush it down and like the signs of wear.

And on that shoot with Ralph Lauren, I remember someone noted I was shooting in white jeans, even lying down in the grass. But they’re jeans – I’ll wash them at 60 degrees when I get home and they’ll be fine.

 

 

Outfit 3: Proportion

  • Ball cap: John Deere Merch
  • Suit: MTM Caruso
  • Knitwear: Berg & Berg
  • Shoes: Novesta

I know comfort is important to you too – is that driven by what you do, or is it more a personal preference?

It’s a combination of both, and it’s only a realisation I’ve come to over time. There was a time when I was wearing those close-fitting suits, which look fine when you’re standing in a mirror, not moving. Like a mannequin in a window with the jacket pinned at the back.

But it doesn’t work when you want to do something. I like the outfit above, but the suit is a good example: it was too tight in the sleeves and the thighs and the only reason it worked was because of the soft fabric. I’m bending my arm a lot when I work, and I don’t want to have to repress the sleeves every day. In fact, feeling fabric resistance around my forearms when moving is something I hate with a passion

But even if you’re not a photographer, I think a bigger fit there is better. Sleeves for instance don’t look big when they’re by your side – an extra 2cm or 3cm doesn’t make much of a difference in silhouette. But it does make it easier for you to live and move.

Do you think attitude to fit is changing?

100%! And of course, it’s been different in the past too. If you look at those old Armani ads, the clothes do often look too big, a little boxy with a low button; but when someone’s moving in them, they look amazing – the way they drape and flow.

Compare that to a tight suit in a ‘modern’ cut. It’s fine when you’re standing stock still, but as soon as you move it clings and rides up.

But you like that suit and outfit otherwise?

Absolutely, the colours are great, and that material was one Loro Piana did, a camel Gobi Gold I think, which had this great texture. They don’t do it anymore unfortunately. A real shame, as it’s the best cord I’ve seen and I would really love to have a version that fits properly.

Often texture and silhouette are the two things I look for in clothing, and I find most inspiring.

 

 

Outfit 4: Accessories

  • Sunglasses: Vintage Tom Ford
  • Suit: Bespoke, The Anthology
  • Shirt: Eton
  • Belt: Silver Ostrich

This feels like a good example of something which would not be unusual, were it not for the little things you’ve put it with – the sunglasses and the belt.

That’s fair. They’re high-waisted Hollywood trousers, but otherwise it’s just a brown suit and blue-striped shirt. The glasses and the western belt are the more eccentric additions.

It’s easiest to do this with outerwear and accessories of course – things at the edges that you can swap around. And I’m never going to wear full-on western clothing with a cowboy hat and everything else – it’s too limiting. You become the guy in the cowboy hat. The point of playing around is to find what you like, rather than completely copying something else.

Do you think your hair and beard – and perhaps height – make it easier to wear unusual things?

Perhaps a little. I haven’t always had them and it’s possible to dress much more conservatively, but you can wear bigger frames like this for example more easily – the proportions are more in line. They do limit me a little though, the few times when I need to dress conservatively. I think it looks a little off with a navy business suit and tie for example.

 

 

Outfit 5: Black and brown

  • Beanie: Berg & Berg
  • Knitear: Eidos honeycomb knit
  • Coat: Berg & Berg
  • Belt: Silver Ostrich Belts
  • Jeans: Berg & Berg

I see you wearing this coat a lot, why do you like it so much?

It’s proven very versatile. It’s a simple raglan, but the check has both brown and black so it works with brown and black shoes, which is obviously helpful. I’ve even worn it with black tie.

I struggle a little with roll necks like the one here – because of my beard they get pushed down. I need to find some good mock necks instead.

Just as we said at the beginning, the colour combinations and styles are pretty classic, but you’ve got little touches in there – the knit tucked into the jeans, the belt and rings, a bright beanie.

Yeah good point, and today with my polo coat I’m wearing the same beanie!

I think PS readers get quite quickly to the stage of dressing simply and well, but it’s harder to give advice on being experimental and expressing yourself. What would you say?

I think just try things, that’s the only way. If you like a piece invest in it, and workshop an outfit. Men are mostly the same, if they get some validation – from a girlfriend or a compliment from someone they meet – it will give them a lot of confidence.

Realistically, that’s helped me over the years. I find myself in places where I get a lot of validation from people who I look up to, other creatives or stylists. It helps a lot – and of course, makes it easier to not give a f**k about criticism!

 

Tobacco, black and white (some T-shirts in stock)

Tobacco, black and white (some T-shirts in stock)

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You know that feeling when you realise a new purchase unleashes potential in an old, beloved garment? Like getting a yellow oxford and realising it doesn’t just look good with jeans, but also with your favourite herringbone jacket?

OK, I’m going to assume at least some of you do. Well, I was playing around with outfits to show the PS black Tapered T-shirt with last month; they were going to be restocked and I realised we’d never photographed the black. 

When I wear black I instinctively put it with similarly dark colours - dark brown, dark olive - or very muted ones - pale denim, cold beige. I wouldn’t naturally think it would work with tobacco. 

But then I remembered an image I’d saved from an old shoot, where the female model is wearing white jeans, a black T-shirt and a tobacco-suede jacket. So I tried the PS tee with my much-loved Connolly shirt-jacket and presto! What a lovely combination. 

Exciting too, because as I said it opens up possibilities. You start to think: would a black sweatshirt look good as well? Would a black knit be too dark? And how about black jeans? Would they both work with my Himel Bros? (The answers were yes, no, yes and yes respectively.) 

It’s such a nice feeling - like you’ve acquired not just one piece of clothing, but also 20% of a bunch of others. 

A reader mentioned recently that they like behind-the-scenes articles, such as how products are developed, or how I think through outfits.

This is one way. Given the task of finding pleasing ways to wear a new piece of clothing, I start with the obvious and easy, progress to the more unusual, and shoot off on various tangents when one combination suggests another.

The clothes are laid out on the bed, usually. Ones that seem promising are tried on (you can’t do that with everything, it just takes too long), and if they pass that test they’re recorded with a selfie. 

These are kept on file, in a folder on my phone. Which is backed up by Google on some super-server somewhere. At some point I might actually get around to categorising all of these so they’re browsable. 

I don’t go through this process every morning, mind. That would count as obsession. Only when there’s something new to photograph for an article or a product launch. 

Most other days it’s just a case of trying out one idea, knocking it around until I decide it works. Or it doesn’t, and I revert to something standard.

The easiest combinations are those like today’s black, white and tobacco, because they’re an extension to something I already wear - just replacing the standard mid-grey layer I’d usually wear under a jacket with this washed-out black. 

It’s like another twig on an existing branch, on the tree of my personal style. Or something. 

OK, returning to the more concrete part of this piece: this is the black PS Tapered T-shirt, which was restocked over the weekend along with white and navy.

The vast majority of the T-shirts went to the waiting list, but there are still some available. Also, quite a few readers bought two sizes in order to check their sizing, so if you're size isn't available it's worth adding yourself to the waiting list, as we'll get a few back.

On the black tee, it's definitely a washed black - like a pair of old black jeans, not a black knit - which I find makes it easier to wear. The contrast with white/ecru jeans is not as stark. It’s softer against the face.

The navy is also a washed navy, as should be clear from the images. Not a classic-menswear dark navy. The white is off-white. 

And for those that haven't had one of the Tapered T-shirts before, what’s special about them? 

Well, the idea is they combine the quality and weight of circular-knitted Japanese T-shirts, with a fit that is tapered and therefore much more standard. It’s the style of a tee you’re used to, from a Sunspel or a Uniqlo, but made to the level way as a heritage T-shirt - with all its character, strength and drape. 

As I described at length when we launched the T-shirts last year, I’ve always loved Japanese circular-knitted T-shirts - by comparison mainstream tees can feel flimsy, almost like underwear. 

The problem is they’re usually cut in a traditional (‘authentic’) shape, which is short and square. If you’re remotely slim, they’re not very flattering. Proportions do vary, but brands can’t do anything about the fact that the body is one piece, like a tube. 

So we make the T-shirts in the same way as those heritage pieces, but afterwards cut a seam in the sides, to give them a more regular shape. 

Importantly - at least to me - the collar is also high in the back, which I find more flattering than a traditional T-shirt. It’s the only reason I like wearing most sweatshirts without a shirt underneath: a sweatshirt will often be low at the back, but the tee fills in that space. 

Many of the brands we like on PS recognise this and cut their knits higher at the back of the neck - Adret, Colhay’s, Rubato - but those are jumpers. With sweatshirts it’s much rarer. 

Oh, and as promised we are still working on a grey version of the T-shirt. But as with a lot of production at the moment, there have been delays and delays. It will be months before that’s available I'm afraid.

Other information on the Tapered T-shirt:

  • Made for us in Osaka by the brand Allevol. Allevol tees are nice, but have a different body fit and collar shape
  • They use high-grade raw American cotton, which is spun in Japan into 14-count yarn (most high-street T-shirts are around half that, as well as of course using lower quality fibre). 
  • The material is knitted slowly on vintage circular machines, referred to as Taimaru. These are similar to loopwheel machines, but tend to create a denser material and a richer feel. 
  • The T-shirts have a bound collar: a separate piece of material which uses three lines of stitching to attach it to the body. This stops the collar stretching out over time - compare it to a mainstream T-shirt, and it’s remarkable how flimsy the latter feels. To avoid the collar being too stiff or bulky, the last line of stitching is on the body, attaching only to the collar on the inside. 

Care:

  • Treat like a dress shirt: wash cool and hang to dry. Do not tumble dry
  • The material can feel a little stiff after washing, depending on the machine and detergent. But it should soften as soon as it is worn
  • Being dense and malleable, the material has some natural stretch. So after washing don’t be afraid to give it a little stretch one way or the other, to gently add length or width. 
  • This is the same thing denim does after its washed, coming in a little and then going out as it’s worn again, adapting to the body. Doing this reshaping after washing is just accelerating that process.

Sizing:

  • The T-shirts fit like any regular tee in the body (from Sunspel for example) which all have a slight taper
  • The only difference you will notice is that the chest is a little larger, and the shoulder seam slightly dropped. Both of which I find quite flattering
  • In the images above, I am wearing a Large
  • However, I could also wear a Medium - I like the Large for a slightly oversized look, and the nice thing about the taper is that it doesn’t look too big. In the images below I’m wearing a Medium. Taka is wearing a Small
X-small Small Medium Large X-large XX-large
Chest (pit to pit) 49cm 52 55 58 60 63
Hem (bottom width) 44 47 50 53 55 58
Length (from back neck) 60 62 64 66 68 70

As mentioned in the article, please do add yourself to the waiting list if your size is not available, as we will have exchanges. And apologies there weren't more - we ordered the maximum available. In Japan as in most places at the moment, high-end production is having capacity issues

Pictured sharing a joke with the lovely, always smiling Lorenzo Cifonelli. Below with Taka of Allevol and Clutch Cafe

For the other clothes featured, please see the launch article here, or ask in the comments for details

 

The Simone Abbarchi workshop, in a little street, outside Florence

The Simone Abbarchi workshop, in a little street, outside Florence

Friday, February 10th 2023
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I know shirtmaker Simone Abbarchi has a lot of PS customers in London and New York. They might like to know - and see - where their shirts are made. 

It’s a little workshop about 10 minutes drive outside of Florence. Simone arrives every morning at 8:00, and leaves at 1:00 to drive to the shop in town. Most of his appointments are booked for the afternoon.

The street outside is busy, narrow and old, with a narrow little pavement and cars shuttling up and down. The front door opens straight into the workroom.

There, six women are conducting every stage of the shirtmaking process, with roughly one each. In front of us a younger employee is preparing fabric that has come in from Canclini, Thomas Mason and elsewhere. To the left, collars are being cut, then bodies assembled. In the middle, the final product is pressed and folded. 

It’s clean, organised and very manual. Everyone knows their place; the process skips along as we watch. But there’s very little automation. 

Perhaps the embodiment of this is Simone’s filing system, in his little office behind the atelier. Patterns and records there are organised into binders, which are then allocated to locations. Long-time customers even have their purchases organised into personal binders. 

That’s one below, from a particularly long-term client in New York. Each shirt has a little snippet of the cloth beside it, with notes on the style and the fit. “He is always surprised when I know what he ordered, when, and how he has changed,” says Simone. 

The makers have been with Simone for varying lengths of the time, with new ones joining as the business has grown. The longest - now in charge of pressing and quality control - was the first employee back in the mid-nineties. 

“Over time each has recommended a friend, who recommended another, and they all helped train the new,” Simone says. “It has to be that way, because there’s no shirtmaking school near here. You really only have that for leather in Florence.”

This is in contrast to Naples, where the brands that prioritise handwork in particular - Kiton, Attolini - have their own schools, and there is enough demand that there are dozens of shirtmakers working at home, that work can be sent out to. 

D’Avino’s workshop, for example, just outside Naples, is a similar size but surrounded by such workers. Simone needs to be more self-sufficient. 

Simone started with shirts out of passion - he had no training, no family members in the trade. He simply loved the style of shirts and found a shirtmaker who could help make them. 

Growth has been slow but consistent, always focused on visiting just New York and London. He opened his first workshop in 2000, then the shop in Florence, then this larger workshop in 2012. It’s a solid operation, and one he likes the size of. 

Bespoke customers often ask why artisans don’t do more trunk shows when there is demand -  why they don’t want the business. The reason is usually that they don’t want to run that scale of operation, because it would change the nature of the job. There would be more time managing people, rather than products; and more time spent travelling rather than in the workshop.

When someone runs a business that was built on passion, they usually don’t want to change the the day-to-day experience of it, because it was the reason they started in the first place.

In Simone’s workshop, the day-to-day life of production continues around us, as we chat.

Alex, the photographer, is busy picking up little details - the kind of things you find in every office or factory, that people add incrementally to their workspaces, adding personality.

He also starts to notice the embroidery on Simone’s shirts, which is impressive for an operation that doesn’t use much hand sewing elsewhere. There are delicate initials, names, and even designs that customers have sketched themselves and sent in. That’s one of them below, with the original drawing alongside the finished result. 

There are many pleasures to having your shirts made by an artisan. They include the relationship you establish over time, which would rarely happen with a shop assistant; the personalisation of orders and superior better fit; and the ability to repair or alter the things you have made, making them more long-lasting and sustainable.

But it’s also nice - more human, perhaps - to know they’re made in little workshops like this rather than in a big, volume-driven factory. 

You can picture it when you receive your order. You know it’s a little workshop with character and personality, in a busy little street on the outskirts of Florence, where new and ancient buildings rub shoulders, and a little team of six people arrive each day to go through the process of sewing things together for you. 

Illustrating that is the greatest pleasure of these factory visits. 

Simone Abbarchi offers made to measure and bespoke shirts, with the latter involving more changes to both fit and design. They cost €165 and €210 respectively. He visits London and New York twice a year. 

More on him and my reviews of his shirts over the years, here

Photography: Alex Natt

 

What makes a quality sweatshirt?

What makes a quality sweatshirt?

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Sweatshirts vary hugely in price, from £20 at a fast-fashion brand to well over £200 from a specialist Japanese maker

And even though the price difference is that large among brands we cover - say Merz b Schwnen at £130 and The Real McCoy’s around £180 - that’s a big percentage difference.

So what accounts for it? What goes into a good sweatshirt and what should you spend your money on?

It’s not an easy area, most obviously because the choice between a finer and coarser material - unlike with suits or shirts - is a rather subjective one. 

French terry: The fabric

Let’s start with the basics. Sweatshirt material is what’s referred to as French terry (different from plain terry, associated with towelling and perhaps towelling shirts). It has a soft pile on the outside and small loops on the inside. The latter is referred to as loopback (different to loopwheel, which is a particular, circular method of knitting). 

Some of the cheapest sweatshirts are not French terry - they are simple jersey, like a T-shirt. “To be honest, I wouldn’t even call this a sweatshirt,” says one maker I talked for this piece. “It’s just a long-sleeved tee.”

French terry is made from multiple layers of yarn, and has that soft and stretchy, yet substantial and dense feeling you associate with a sweatshirt, but don’t with a tee. It’s the kind of basic difference you can feel quite easily. 

Although the back of some sweatshirts (good and bad) is brushed to make them softer and warmer, you can still see the loops of material, just fluffier (below).

Pure cotton: The fibre

Some cheap sweatshirts are also partly synthetic, such as polyester. This is pretty much always a money-saving move and should be avoided. 

As with the point above about T-shirt v sweatshirt material, you know the difference between the two in terms of how they feel, as you probably own outerwear that is synthetic. You don’t really want that in something soft like a sweatshirt. 

You do find polyester in some highly regarded sweatshirt brands such as Camber, the American workwear brand. I own a Camber hoodie and it’s great - the material is so tough it’s basically outerwear, and is often too hot to wear indoors. 

But the same effect can be achieved with pure cotton, it just has to be woven more densely. Something like the Ball Park sweats from The Real McCoy’s are like that - the outer layer of yarn is woven to be tougher and more wind-resistant. That’s also the reason why Camber sweats are so much cheaper, and more used for actual workwear. 

Loopwheel and not: The knitting

Loophweel (above) is an old-fashioned method of knitting that was used for all sweats in the 1950s and earlier. It knits particularly slowly, with vintage ones the slowest of all, making only about one metre of fabric an hour. This creates a low fabric tension, which is why loopwheel knits always feel more stretchy and open. 

Being loopwheeled is a general sign of quality, but it also creates a specific type of knit, which not everyone wants for every design. If you want a denser sweat, as mentioned above, then you might want to a slightly more modern machine. 

These would still knit in a tubular fashion however, and as a result have no side seams. Like loopwheel, this is also a fairly useful rule of thumb for quality.                                                                                         

There’s also reverse weave, which is best known for Champion sweats and was created to reduce shrinkage in length. That’s less of an issue today though, and with old pieces the more significant factor is usually the dramatic size of the body and sleeve.

Balance and character: The layers

As mentioned earlier, aspects of cotton that we’re used to from smarter clothing - fineness, staple length - aren’t necessarily useful guides with sweatshirts. If you used a very fine cotton on a sweat, you’d end up with something that was quite light and silky, which probably isn’t what you want. Great vintage pieces also use both types. 

However, there is something subtle with sweatshirt material, which is that different yarns are used for the surface, an intermediate layer, and the back. These are varied depending on what effect you want - for example, it’s only the surface layer that you make denser to get that tough, weather-resistant layer we talked about above. 

“Essentially, a cheap sweatshirt will be made out of the same yarn on at least two layers,” explains a designer I spoke to. “They do this because it’s cheaper - they only need one type of yarn, and can buy it in larger volumes.”

A high-end sweat will play with those layers to get a different effect. The outer layer creates the visual effect and the feel, the hand. The middle layer is about volume, and preventing twisting. The underside is about volume too, but also softness on the skin, and warmth retention.

Different sweats will have different combinations - and this is the point that differentiates a lot of high-end sweats, as well as types from a single brand. 

Still, all cheaper sweats that use the same yarn throughout will have a similar feel: flat, without any body or density. Someone technical people would say they have less ‘character’ and you can see what they mean in the rather lifeless handle, like a single piece of pressed-flat material. 

Details: The design and manufacture

Then there are numerous little manufacturing points, such as flatlocked seams and the make of the collar, where the aim is normally to stop it stretching out over time. 

The ‘V’ shape on the front, and sometimes back, of the sweatshirt was intended to allow it to stretch while not affecting the collar, as well as to absorb sweat. Some people also love an extended cuff, which on a brand like Spalding finishes in a point up the inside seam. 

Most of these I'd put down to design preference, however, and on Permanent Style it’s probably important to emphasise that you shouldn't focus on quality to the exclusion of design, such as length, body fit and collar height. 

I love the quality of my Ball Park sweatshirt, but the prime reason I prefer it to my old Merz ones is the body length, which is that much shorter (and shrinks a little after the first wash). The body fit and high hood are the things I like most about my Camber. 

What would I buy?

Alongside those sweats from Real McCoy’s, Merz b Schwanen and Camber, I own ones from Loopwheeler, Toys McCoy and RRL, as well as vintage pieces from the 1980s (Champion) and 1950s. In the past I’ve owned Warehouse, Cushman and of course various cheaper brands when I was younger. 

My favourites are probably Real McCoy’s and Warehouse, with the difference largely being the point of balance between layers, rather than an obvious quality one. Warehouse feels a little softer and spongier to me, and I find I prefer the McCoy’s mix, so I sold my Warehouse. My Ball Park grey is the one I wear the most. 

I love the Loopwheeler hoodie I bought in Japan, but find the body is longer than ideal. Conversely, I have a RRL crewneck that I love, but for the colour of the melange and the exaggerated body fit. 

If I were advising a reader, I’d say pay towards the top end of the range, because you need very few sweatshirts - I wear my grey five times as much as any other - and because it’s a small difference in price. 

But I'd repeat two points about not focusing too much on quality:

- Just as much difference is between types of sweats - weight, balance, brushing, fineness - as it is anything objective that could be called quality, so you may just prefer a particular feel.

- Fit and style will always be more important, here as in everything. Make sure you put them first.

Spring/Summer 23 on the PS shop

Spring/Summer 23 on the PS shop

Monday, February 6th 2023
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Hello everyone,

As has now become customary, I'd like to give you an insight into what’s coming up in the next six months on the shop. 

Of course we can’t detail everything in advance, but we wanted to give you a rundown on what’s confirmed so you are aware of timings and can plan accordingly. 

We currently have a slight delay on PS Oxford shirts, so please let us know if you would like us to open a pre-order so you can secure yours when they arrive in late Spring. Until a decision is made there, you can sign up to the waiting list on the product pages

We have tried to be as accurate as possible with the dates below, but please allow some slight variation on the release. There may also be one or two new launches which have yet to be confirmed and will fall into this season.

As ever, any questions can be addressed to [email protected]. Thank you.

January

February

  • Tapered T-shirt - Restock mid-month
  • Reversible suede bomber - Launch midmonth
  • Finest Crewneck - Relaunch
  • Dartmoor - Restock, plus new black 
  • Oxford shirts - New stripe colours
  • New product launch, to be announced

March

  • Finest Polo - Restock, with new colour to be announced
  • Bullskin Tote - Restock

April

  • Preorder: Indulgent Shawl Cardigan - All previous colours, plus one new

May

  • PS Overshirts - Restock
  • PS Shorts - Restock
  • Linen Harrington - Restock

The cream linen fabric used for my suit here, which we had hoped to make available for this Spring/Summer, will unfortunately not be available. The mill wasn't able to reproduce it in time.

Please let us know if there anything here you’re not sure about, or if this list reminds you that there’s anything you would like to see in the future (product or colour wise).

Pitti A/W 2023: Too many negronis, too few makers

Pitti A/W 2023: Too many negronis, too few makers

Friday, February 3rd 2023
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By Tony Sylvester

It’s been three long years since I last shuffled along the cobbled streets of Florence, winding my way to the Fortezza Da Basso, the medieval castle that hosts Pitti Uomo, the international menswear trade fair.

Without stating the obvious, much has happened in the intervening time, that was far more important than the business of menswear. And, of exponentially greater consequence than the secondary aspect of Pitti, the activity that brings the fair to the world’s attention - the peacockery and general ‘sausaging about’, as my friend Aleks refers to it.

I missed out on what some would consider the glory days of Pitti, first landing in the Tuscan capital about a decade ago, slap bang in the middle of the peacock era. This period was a gross exaggeration of the quite honest phenomenon that street-style photographers like Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton had started capturing a few years prior. Their shots of visiting industry personalities and some of Florence’s local chaps milling around or seated upon the infamous curved wall made for genuinely inspiring viewing.

By the time I had enough status and responsibility in the world of menswear to attend myself, this had led to a comical explosion of wannabes and sartorial tourists, seemingly only there to get photographed and with a negligible connection to the day-to-day business of the fair.

By the mid 2010s, the outfits they wore had become louder and more attention grabbing, yet somehow more homogenised - a new orthodoxy had taken hold. The fits were tighter, the checks louder, the colour palette brighter. It was a contradictory mashing of two directions of the time: a newfound appreciation for the heritage of ‘classic’ menswear and the slimmed-down silhouette of the Hedi Slimane suit.

Unfortunately for all concerned, this hybrid ended up as the de facto look for the era. It was not uncommon to see two hats perched on heads, pocket squares festooned from multiple pockets (on the same outfit) and foot-long feathers protruding from hat bands.

This coquetry also obscured the fact that for industry professionals, part of the fun of going to Pitti is still the pomp and spectacle. It’s what separates it from other trade shows. Even if you consider your own style to be a little more elevated or natural than the parading popinjays, choosing your best outfits on the off chance of being snapped and papped has always had its charms.

And for a lot of attendees, there is a vital practical element too. For a small brand that relies on self-generated marketing, it presents an opportunity for recognition and a showcase to the fashion press, which can then be reposted and recirculated on your own channels.

Armchair pundits are often unaware of the actual work being conducted at the fair. At its pre-Covid height, there were something like 1,200 brands and 21,000 buyers in attendance from around the world.

I made the decision to skip the last few installments. With a downturn in brands showing and worldwide travel severely depleted, it didn’t seem worth it. Those who did make the effort reported back on a half empty fair and closed halls, with very little in the way of actual business getting done. In this void, the socialising aspects appeared to be ramped up to new heights and the fair looked in serious danger of losing its focus and purpose, becoming just another stop off for wealthy folks on the European holiday circuit.

I went this time with some very specific goals in mind. Firstly to help Bryceland’s with their AW23 buys from suppliers, and with the secondary function of looking for new makers for future AWMS products.

The first task was straightforward - Ethan and Kenji have a very clear idea of what they need, who makes it, and what colours and styles work for their brand. The second proved much more elusive alas. While most of the big players were back in force, fresher, newer brands were thin on the ground. Unfortunately for me, I found there to be particularly few manufacturers of interest.

Amongst the malaise and disappointment, a couple of bright lights did shine forth from newer, younger labels.

One that was brand new to me was Nashville and Los Angeles-based Savas. Historically focusing on bespoke and made-to-order leather jackets, founder Savannah Yarborough was launching a new ready-to-wear range. Resolutely rock ‘n’ roll in origin, the models had pleasingly warm tones of suede and calfskin, taking clear inspiration from cowboy shirt and trucker-jacket silhouettes.

Of particular resonance to me was the Trapp; a longer, Mao-collared style with half-belted back that appeared to marry a safari jacket and Bavarian Janker (above). On the footwear side, I could also absolutely see myself in the asymmetrically cut Letta mule in black hair-on-hide. A nice alternative to the Grecians and Opera Pumps I favour in the summer.

The other highlight was catching up with my old friends at P. Le Moult (below). Based in Vienna, Praline and Harry have been at the forefront of the ‘loungewear as outerwear’ concept since way before lockdown threw it into vogue. Their Orient Express collection of robes, nightshirts and pyjamas affixes Hussar frogging to stout jewel-toned and dark-cotton twills and silks, and I put in an order for a navy work jacket with gold knots.

Finally, the other half of Pitti: the daily looks.

The first day, I was excited to show off my latest commission from Fred Nieddu and Zoe Yates at Taillour, made in a deadstock buffalo plaid that I bought off Pendleton’s old eBay store almost 15 years ago. I believe it was made for Filson, for a Japanese collection.

An unorthodox choice for a sports coat, in both colour and weight, it is a heavy beast - heavier than most English overcoat cloths. But remembering the bitterness of Pittis past, I thought it would do away for the need of a coat. The unseasonal warmth had other ideas though, and made it almost too wieldy for the occasion.

The idea for the jacket came from a couple of sources. When Engineered Garments’ Daiki Suzuki was at the helm of Woolrich Woolen Mills, he presented what many consider to be the greatest collection of the Tumblr / #Fuckyeahmenswear era in AW10’s Hunting Noir, which relied heavily on a similar palette of black with bright blue. Around the same time, J Press, under Mark McNairy’s guiding hand, sold a sack jacket in red buffalo plaid complete with hand warmer pockets.

With a jacket carrying this much information, I felt it best to pare down the rest of the outfit with a simpatico, quieter palette. Alongside my AWMS black beret, I wore Taillour bespoke charcoal flannels, the Brycelands RAF rollneck in black, blue sunglasses based on Max Pittion’s Politician shape made by General Eyewear, and some vintage black RM Williams Craftsman boots on Dainite soles. While not for everyone, I was extremely happy with the overall look.

 

Day two saw another Taillour-related choice in the shape of Bryceland’s brand new Easy Jacket, developed with Nieddu for the launch of the new Bryceland’s London store.

An unlined and unvented jacket with shirt cuffs and patch pockets, it is designed to take the same place in your wardrobe as a Teba, or a French work jacket, but with a little touch of 50s West Coast Americana. I went for the navy wool twill from Abraham Moon with brass buttons, and wore it with a midweight burgundy rollneck from Smedley, white HBT deck pants and hand-knitted watch cap (both from Brycelands) and JM Weston 180 loafers in black lizard.

The last day was also a travel day, so comfort was the overriding theme; nothing that new or fancy was employed.

I took the opportunity to wear the new AWMS beret sample in a nice inky blue; a vintage Ralph Lauren duffle coat in a blue and green plaid with a pleasing ankle length, a navy fisherman’s jumper from Labour & Wait and my trusty spruce green ‘Andrew’ pleated cords- more vintage Ralph. This was the closest to my day-to-day clobber out of the three days, though the Easy Jacket is also becoming a firm fave.

And like that, the whirlwind was over for another season. Being back in Florence really brought home what I missed about the place, as well as that sense of what the fair is lacking in makers.

With apologies to Dickens (and you the reader), we can call it the Tale Of Two Pittis - the work and the social. It would be hypocritical of me to bemoan the endless stream of Negronis, but hopefully next time, they’ll feel more like the reward of a day’s work well done.

Subtle vs showy: A way to think about casual clothing

Subtle vs showy: A way to think about casual clothing

Wednesday, February 1st 2023
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There is an important factor in how we dress that I don't think we’ve ever discussed explicitly on Permanent Style, which is how subtle or showy an outfit is. 

When we talked almost entirely about tailoring, worn largely in offices, it was clear that dressing in a showy way was bad. In those narrower, professional environments, the aim was obviously to dress simply - with understated colour combinations, a subtle silhouette. 

When we talk about casual clothing, the choice is less clear. The range of clothing multiplies 10 even 100 times.; the situations vary hugely; and our aims - what we want to say about ourselves - are often different too. 

But there are still factors we can use to consider what looks good. One is execution; another is style paradigms. The most important of all might be how subtle or showy we want to be.

On Permanent Style we often discuss particular outfits, such as a jacket with jeans. I might comment that I prefer a soft-shouldered jacket for that kind of combination. That it’s easier with a rougher jacket material, and a smarter jean. 

But underlying that is an assumption that our aim is subtlety - a look where, as we often say, you simply appear well dressed. 

That might not be the case. Someone might also look great in a cashmere square-shouldered jacket and faded jeans. The difference is mostly what kind of look we want. When I say I wouldn’t wear my A&S jacket with jeans, it’s because there’s an implicit aim of greater subtlety. 

I posted an image recently wearing jeans with a black T-shirt and Whitcomb jacket. A reader questioned whether I now thought English jackets with jeans ‘worked’.

The answer is no, not for how I normally dress. But I was playing around with something different, something more showy. 

Importantly, whether an outfit is subtle or showy, we can often agree on whether it has been put together well - there is something objective in how it has been executed. 

I wouldn’t want to dress with as much clash and contrast as the gentleman from Ralph Lauren above, for example. But he and I would probably agree that the look is better with loafers than with chunky trainers. Equally, if it were worn with trainers he might want red and I might prefer ecru, but we would probably both agree that a canvas tennis-shoe style would look better than Air Jordans. 

When more showy looks like the one above are shown on PS, people often describe them as ‘fashion’. But they’re not necessarily transient, as that term implies. Rather, they’re aiming at something different, a showier look.

Examples often come up on PS in discussions of 'high/low', because there’s a deliberate attempt there to be unusual, to create contrast. Whether Ralph Lauren looks good  in a dinner jacket with jeans (top image) is meaningless without an acknowledgement that he is being contrary. Whether you like that approach and whether you think it’s done well are different things. 

Let’s take some examples. If you’re selecting a piece of headwear to wear with a tailored overcoat, you could go for the most anonymous, a beanie; you could pick something a little more contrasty, like a baseball cap; or you could don a downright unusual piece, such as a beret. 

That’s me above in all three. If I had a photo, I could also include something even more showy, like a cowboy hat. 

Each of these, I would argue, could be executed better or worse. A big, bulky beanie wouldn’t suit the clean lines of the coat as well as that PS Watch Cap. A beret in a bright colour would look cheap compared to that black one. But the three choices above, I think, work well.

Accessories are an easy way to show this. With glasses, for example, you can wear a subtle tortoiseshell panto, a wire-rimmed aviator, or a slightly odd shape like small frame with a cut-off top (below). Other men might be even more extreme than this, choosing chunky black frames or primary colours.

But all the styles could be executed well or not. Most obviously in whether the size of the frame suits your face, but also whether it goes well with the rest of your clothes. 

Readers sometimes ask questions like, ‘But why would I want to subvert tailoring?’ or ‘Why would I wear a chore coat if a blazer is more flattering?’

The answer usually is, because people want to achieve different things with their clothing. One is physical flattery, certainly, and it’s one that too many men ignore. I would still maintain, as I did many years ago, that fit is the most important factor of all.

But it’s not the only one, and those others include things like your environment (office, social group) and what you feel expresses your personality. 

A navy blazer may suit more men and more skin types than a black one, but if someone wants a different look, one that (in their locale) feels less corporate, then black may be a better choice.

A blue oxford shirt with jeans is a subtle choice. A denim shirt with jeans is less subtle. A full-on western shirt with its bells and whistles is pretty showy. 

This kind of spectrum is not hard to understand, but it’s good to be able to separate it from other factors, such as associations. I’m unlikely to wear jeans and a western shirt in the same denim not because someone might think I look like a cowboy, but because it would be too showy for me. Kenji of Bryceland’s does it and it looks great. 

This idea of subtle or showy has been implicit in many discussions on PS over the years. It’s why we call something more of ‘a look’. It’s what I mean when I say something is ‘easier to wear’. 

I think it will become increasingly important as we discuss casual clothing more. I always tend towards the subtle end of this spectrum, I know most readers do, and it's the kind of style we will always push. But defining our terms makes our preferences, and discussions of them, clearer. 

For a related discussion of subtle and showy, see this previous article on the double-brown outfit above. Although hardly outrageous, another colour of knit - grey, fawn, navy - would have been that bit more normal.  

An Hermes silk scarf with all navy

An Hermes silk scarf with all navy

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Long-term readers will be familiar with my passion for Hermes silk scarves, which I’ve often bought over the years as a treat, and of which I now have a small collection (nine of them, since you ask). 

I’ve found particular enjoyment this winter wearing one as an accessory with an otherwise plain outfit, as here. I rarely wear a tie or handkerchief these days, and feel self-conscious with gloves sticking out of the breast pocket. 

Somehow a silk scarf doesn’t have that feeling. Perhaps because I’ve literally never seen a man wearing one outside of Paris (and even that was in the Hermes HQ) so it’s unusual and personal. And perhaps because those gloves or a Drake’s silk feel more common (within the echo chamber of #menswear).

The immense advantage of a scarf like this is that it is both decorative and protective. It can be simply draped, as above, or tied close around the neck, providing protection from the elements. 

Silk doesn’t seem that warm, being cold to the touch, but it’s a decent insulator and very good at blocking the wind, which is why they were originally worn by cyclists. A strip of folded silk can also be tucked into a crewneck, as below, for something warm but subtler. And if it gets too hot, it’s light enough to be tucked in a pocket. 

I’ve been saying for a while that I’d make a video demonstrating tying techniques, and I apologise to readers for not doing so. It’s so much more time-consuming than writing an article, at least if you want to produce it to a particular level. 

However, the way the scarf is worn in here is pretty simple. Have a look at the Hermes site for anything that begins by creating a strip, and then either let it drape or tie it, with a simple over-and-under once or twice.

The model is the classic 90x90cm women’s silk - or rather, a scarf from the women’s collection. I think we’re all broad-minded enough to accept that pieces can cross over, especially in something as understated as navy. 

The men’s designs are usually just as bold anyway, simply with fewer bright colours. They’re also nearly all in silk/cashmere, while I prefer silk. 

The one advantage of the men’s range is that they are 100cm squares, which create a strip long enough to tuck behind the waist button of a fastened jacket. The 90cm ones are just about OK, but as my preferred waist-button position has lowered over time, they have started working loose sometimes. 

The key with finding a good piece from the women’s Hermes range is to look out for designs in dark colours. There are rarely more than a couple a season, but they do change completely each time so there are always new options coming through.

I like the Hermes ones for their designs, but also for their quality. A surprising number of designer brands use digital printing rather than the dye-and-discharge method, which is more expensive but creates images that more precise and vibrant. 

The biggest reason for using digital printing is you can create more intricate designs, including shading. That’s why Hermes designs are often quite bold, like the Drake’s scarves that so many have become fond of over the years. 

If anyone would like to know more about those processes, you can see detailed reports on PS on the Adamley printing facility in England, where many of the Drake’s designs were created, and on the very different - enormous, modern - Hermes facility in Lyon

I’m sure visiting the latter is another reason I feel fond of the Hermes silks, and am always playing around with ways to wear them. 

The navy coat here is by Ettore de Cesare, but I’ll review that in a couple of weeks. 

For now, it’s the triple-navy combination that I find interesting. To be honest, I really like it but struggle to analyse why, in my usual fashion. 

The jacket was covered previously here, and is by Solito in a tweedy Fox cloth. The trousers have been shown here, and are the old Fox serge. The knit is our Finest Crewneck in superfine merino (making a long-overdue return to the Shop in a few weeks). 

They’re all different textures of wool, all slightly different shades of navy. 

Now I wouldn’t normally wear a jacket and trousers together in such similar colours, because they risk looking like a mismatched suit. Yet with this navy knit I like it. 

I also don’t normally wear a crewneck under a jacket, because a shirt seems more flattering. Despite a previous post here, it’s not a combination I’ve found I turn to, yet with all the other navy going on I quite like it. 

If anyone has any thoughts on why it works - or indeed, views that it doesn’t - please do write in. For the moment it pleases me, which is reason enough. 

The loafers are Edward Green, the black Piccadilly in Utah. I’m in two minds about Utah leather: it is more weather-resistant, being waxed, and the hatching is subtle. But it’s hard to shake the suspicion that black calf would be better in a loafer. Certainly the delapré (same with no hatching) is too matte and plain. 

As to the Finest Crewneck, if anyone wants to be on the waiting list please use the form on the product page here. For those who don’t know what the hell it is, see the original post from 2017

All other questions, shout as normal below.

 

PS Presents ’23: Arterton, LEJ, Marrkt, Fox and Rubato

PS Presents ’23: Arterton, LEJ, Marrkt, Fox and Rubato

Friday, January 27th 2023
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March 1 update:

  • Rubato and Permanent Style dates confirmed as March 29 to April 1
  • Rubato will be launching new products, bringing almost everything to try on, and a good range to buy as well
  • Fox will be running different on different days of their event, see here for details
  • Marrkt will be joined by Abbots, which sells pre-owned dress shoes, and Simon will also be selling a small number of his thing

 

The PS Presents pop-up shop at 20 Savile Row is back this Spring, with a new raft of brands. 

The little shop will be occupied by Arterton for the whole of February, by L.E.J for the whole of April, and by four brands during March: Marrkt, Fox Brothers, Permanent Style and Rubato. 

We have the shop until the end of June, so more guests in May and June may well be announced later. 

The precise dates and opening times for each incumbent have also not been confirmed, but when they are, I’ll add them to the top of this post. They will be similar to those last Autumn, however, which you can see here

Arterton are first, opening next week on February 1st and there until February 28th. 

Arterton sell a few of their own products, including garment bags, but they are also the agent for other makers, including Nakata hangers, Paul Brunngard shoecare, Yearn shoes and Bridlen shoes. 

The first two are top-end - I’ve covered Nakata hangers before in Japan, which are absolutely beautiful, and mentioned the Brunngard shoecare box. I’m currently trying out the other products.

Yearn and Bridlen are more value propositions for shoes. Both are well-made, but I think the key attraction will be pricing, given the former is made in China and the latter in India. We covered Bridlen here, and will cover Yearn soon. 

Arterton will also be running events: there is actually a Nakata art display today - in both Number 20 and The Service - and then on February 11th there will be a whole Brunngard shoecare day. 

Anders Sundstrom and Linus Chu will be there from the brand, and there will be free shoe shines for everyone, plus a trade-in programme where anyone can try the Brunngard polishes by swapping them for something they already own. 

The next three brands, in March, readers will be familiar with. 

Fox Brothers will be there the week of March 13th, with their plethora of productmarrks - albeit with a more Spring/Summer feel. A nice opportunity to try some of the jackets Manish covered last week. 

Marrkt will be there the week of March 20th, with their top-end pre-owned clothing. Precise dates to be announced, though not with my pre-owned clothing this time. 

Rubato and Permanent Style will be there together, the week of March 27th. The days will be Wednesday to Saturday, as last time, so the 29th to the 1st. 

 

Then in April, I’m really pleased to have Luke from L.E.J in residence for a month. 

I think a few readers may have caught Luke when he had a pop-up in the Piccadilly Arcade briefly last year, and it was the first time I had seen the clothes in person as well. 

Given the cuts and unique fabrics of L.E.J, it’s really good to be able to try on these pieces, and I’ve got my eye on some trousers and potentially shirts for summer - Luke is particularly good at that flowing, easy warm-weather style. In his words to "soften the masculine trappings of loved and familiar pieces".

The month-long residency will de dedicated to Spring/Summer collection, a wardrobe of playful pieces focused around a core of luxury casual shirting, with fabrics including rich silks, fine voiles, and Japanese narrow-widths.

As with the others, details will be added to this post (days, times, stock) closer to the time. We will, of course, have a little party too - hopefully with less rain and condensation this time

Readers awards 2023: Anniversary edition 

Readers awards 2023: Anniversary edition 

Wednesday, January 25th 2023
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Five years ago, in 2018, we began the PS awards series by asking about favourite brands, shops and stylists. 

This year I'd like to invite everyone to do the same, but actively reflect on how things have changed in the past five years. 

Five years is a fairly long time in clothing anyway, but I feel like Covid has accelerated all trends, bringing about some fairly fundamental changes in working practices, and perhaps how people view their lifestyles too. 

So I'd be interested to hear which brand's products really resonate with you right now; which styling you find most inspiring (from a brand or a person); which shop has given you the best experience; and which artisan you see yourself using going forward. 

As in previous years, please enter your nominations in the comments below. 

You can enter something for all categories, or just one. But remember that the most interesting thing for others is often your reasoning and experiences, so please don't skimp on these. 

In a week I'll tot them up and write something announcing the results, interviewing ecstatic winners and so on. 

These are the categories. Please remember to let us know how your views have evolved in the past five years. 

1. Best brand
Products, rather than styling, including quality and relevance 

2. Best artisan
What will you continue to have made, by whom, and why

3. Best styling
Who do you find most inspirational now? A brand, a magazine or a social media account 

4. Best customer experience
Which shop or brand deserves recognition? For things like knowledge, advice and product care, rather than just quick shipping

The Merchant Fox: All the casual jackets reviewed

The Merchant Fox: All the casual jackets reviewed

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By Manish Puri

In between short walks to the kitchen to restock on mince pies and watching Home Alone for the 83rd time (this genuinely may be an understatement), the festive period offers a singular opportunity to contemplate weighty matters concerning the passage of time. When did my nephew grow taller than me? When did Quality Street swap the foil wrappers for paper? And when did The Merchant Fox’s offering become so extensive?

Launched in 2011, The Merchant Fox is the retail arm of the clothmaker Fox Brothers and one of the brands showcased at the first Permanent Style pop-up back in 2017. My recollection is that the range was tasteful but relatively small: some F. Marino ties, a selection of cloth caps and, of course, a splendid array of vintage bolts.

However, as part of last December’s pop-up, The Merchant Fox returned and filled 20 Savile Row with a wide assortment of gowns, shirts, trousers and jumpers; so much so that I walked straight past the shop on my visit – my peripheral vision disregarding it as a pop-up on account of how well laid out and amply stocked it seemed.

Once inside it quickly became apparent that our planned article providing an overview of The Merchant Fox’s range would be quite a challenge; and so, in keeping with Permanent Style’s recent theme of exploring casual jacket alternatives, I’ve focused this piece on their jackets, overshirts and Tebas, which are often collaborations with specialist makers using Fox Brothers cloth – a big point of consistent taste and quality.

The pop-up provided a unique opportunity to see and try everything in person. Hopefully my rundown helps answer all those style and fit questions you might have had remotely.

The Utility Jacket (£570 to £720) (above) is made for The Merchant Fox by Hervier Productions – a family-run atelier that Fox’s Managing Director Douglas Cordeaux stumbled across while on holiday in France – and has traditional details like piped pockets and a smaller scythe-shaped collar.

The jacket combines the style of a chore coat (straight hem, triple patch pockets and one internal pocket) with the punch of Fox’s toughest cloths. The navy, for example, is cut from a 34/35 oz military issue lambswool; a cloth that - to borrow Malcolm Tucker’s put-down of a cabinet minister - is so dense light bends around it.

The robust nature of the fabric does make it less refined than some of the other chores in my recent guide, but if you like the short style and small collar, it would serve as faithful partner to knitwear, heavier trousers and casual shoes and boots.

Most of the Fox garments I tried worked well for me in size medium (I generally flit between small and medium depending on the brand and the style), but the Utility Jacket had a slim sleeve finished with a barrel cuff. Some folks will no doubt be comforted by the snug embrace of the wool and should go for their usual size. I’m of a somewhat fussier disposition and would be happier going for a size up.

Fox works with Spanish tailors Justo Gimeno on a few different models, and I tried their Teba and Safari jacket.

The Tebas (£650 to £795) adhere to the classic template: shirt-sleeve shoulders and cuffs, ventless back, four button front, a breast patch pocket shaped like your favourite coffee mug, hip patch pockets (some models with flaps and some without) and an internal pocket with button. All crowned by the signature notchless lapel – a shawl collar sketched by a Cubist.

I tried a medium which was perfect – sitting just off the shoulder with room for a Rubato jumper and an ideal sleeve length (you may recall from the chore coat guide that I had a devil of a time finding something that wasn’t too long in the sleeve).

Whilst you can source Justo Gimeno Tebas from other retailers (Beige Habilleur among them) what you won’t find is the range of Fox Brothers cloths. Compared to the Utility Jacket the fabric options are still geared towards autumn/winter but are substantially lighter (12/13 oz) and finer (merino). I particularly liked the char-brown flannel (above), the ambiguity in hue leads to a tug-of-war of outfit possibilities: should I lean into dark and tonal, or contrast with warmer, earthier colours?

If you prefer the meaty cloths used for the Utility Jacket you can also look at the Wellington Fox navy coat or the Khakee Town & Country Coat – both available to pre-order and with some design details carried over from the Teba.

I’m usually not super keen on field/safari jackets. I don’t know if it’s the incongruity of a nipped/belted waist with four bulky pockets orbiting it that doesn’t appeal. Or perhaps it’s just the sheer number of pockets – I have enough difficulty remembering where I put my phone in a two-pocket bomber.

However, I really liked the Fox Safari Jacket (£755 - returning in the spring) and was won over by the fit, the collar shape and the crisp lightness of the cloths (such as the olive-green Fox Air above), which I think help reduce the volume of the hip bellows-pockets compared to say, a stiffer cotton canvas.

The Safari Jacket comes with an internal drawstring to cinch the waist and a central vent in the rear.

In Simon’s recent article on overshirts he neatly defined two shirting categories: those that feel like a heavy version of a regular shirt and those that are more akin to a woollen jacket.

The overshirts (£240 to £490) made by The Merchant Fox in Casentino wool (below), flannel (above) or tweed - all weighing in around 17/18oz - sit firmly in the latter camp. The newer shirts have a straighter hem (which generally looks better untucked), two breast flap pockets and bands of ribbon on the reverse of the placket and the collar – a good way of reinforcing buttons and buttonholes, keeping heavier wool off your bare neck, and usually an indication that the shirt is a layering piece rather than something to tuck in.

There are also a couple of moleskin shirts which are very similar to the overshirts but, at around 8oz, would make better candidates for trouser tucking.

One nice detail on the overshirts (which are mostly made by Jokoto Tailoring in Bristol) is the placement of a button just a few centimetres below the collar button. This strikes me as a good way to keep the chest fully covered on a chilly day while teasing your admirers with a glimpse of whatever scarf/neckerchief/bandana you’re rocking at the neck.

The question of sizing depends on what sort of layering piece you want it to be. If you want your overshirt to top a T-shirt or shirt at most, then I’d recommend your usual size. If your layering style has been likened to Sanka from Cool Runnings (thermal T-shirt, shirt, thick jumper, scarf, hot water bottle, the works) I would size up.

One final piece to call out is the Borestière jacket made by Chato Lufsen from a couple of Fox Brothers cloths - a 17/18oz char-navy twill tweed and an 18/19oz flannel.

The jacket wasn’t available when I went in store, but I’m tempted on the strength of the cloth choice and Tony Sylvester’s write-up of his commission of a modified Bores jacket alone.

Many of the garments discussed here are available on a made-to-order basis. For example, the Teba jacket can be made for customers in a variety of styles (classic, pocket, safari or River Tone – which is fully lined), with simple tweaks made to the standard block (sleeve length, hem length, etc), and,
most crucially, in the Fox Brothers cloth of your choosing. Prices for MTO will vary accordingly but you can get more information by reaching out directly to The Merchant Fox .

Before I sign-off I’ll leave you with a tip if I may: The Merchant Fox regularly unveils small batch, limited edition versions of products via their newsletter, so I would recommend signing up.

As ever, all questions happily answered in the comments below.

Manish is @the_daily_mirror on Instagram

Some interesting Pitti picks: Mixing patterns, layering knitwear, wearing volume

Some interesting Pitti picks: Mixing patterns, layering knitwear, wearing volume

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As we did last year, during Pitti I picked out a few people and outfits that I really liked, but that could have been missed - because they’re not Ethan, Jake or Tatsuya Nakamura.

They’re deliberately a mix of smart and casual, tailoring and streetwear. But I would encourage readers to spend a few moments with each, even if they’re not obviously their style. Each holds beautiful little lessons, whether it’s a colour combination or an interaction of length and volume. 

If anyone wants the more expected faces I can do that sometime too, or include them next time. 

First is Paul Croughton, an old friend and now editor of Robb Report in the US. He’s had an increasing amount of tailoring made in the past few years, and the pieces from Fred Nieddu, such as this jacket and coat, are particularly lovely. 

As is often the case with great tailoring combinations, the outfit looks merely elegant at a distance, but actually has lots going on. In particular the three micro-patterns in the coat, jacket and scarf, which would be too much were it not for the anchor of white shirt and dark plain tie at the heart of it all. 

Cream, white and green. As soon as I saw those three colours here I started to wonder how I could wear them together too. A white shirt under a cream cardigan, perhaps, with a stronger, grassy-green trouser, coat or jacket. Perhaps vintage army trousers, a white shirt and a cream crewneck. 

I also find it interesting that the standard beige of the rain coat looks more like cream when it’s picked up by these whites and creams. 

Justo Gimeno’s father, Gimeno Sr. There is so little here I would actually wear myself and yet so much I like on him. The strong patterns of the tie and scarf, which feel better as a twosome than on their own; the burgundy Teba, combined with the green of the coat. 

There is an extent to which these stronger patterns and colours (the Teba is fairly punchy) are easier for someone older to pull off. As if there are clearly no restrictions of work or society any more. This feels like it would be as much at home, in Spain, as on a walk into Pitti. 

There’s strong pattern here too, in a hand-embroidered jacket from Bode. But it’s the lovely blues of the polo, jacket and cap that caught my eye: they form a quiet and harmonious backdrop to the eye-catching things elsewhere. 

I wouldn’t wear those trousers with it all, it’s a bit too jarring. But I would really like to try a polo in that colour.

As was mentioned in a recent article on PS, photographer Alex Natt has really honed his style in recent years, and I admire how interesting, personal and practical it is. Not always an easy combination. 

He’s outside a lot of the time and requires multiple pockets, so the outer layer is usually a Barbour or similar waterproof. However, fishing varieties are especially practical and are pleasingly unusual, as shown here. Then there are black jeans or carpenter pants, roll necks, a cap. All dark colours, all anonymous at a distance but telling well-combined close-up. 

Christopher Berii. Writer, model, and our current Tokyo correspondent. Read his piece on Japanese shoemaker Seiji McCarthy here

This is an old Ralph Lauren flannel suit that Christopher found on eBay, and the proportions work well on him. The 6x2 button set-up, fastening on the bottom row, is of course dramatic but Pitti is the kind of place for something like that, and it’s the kind of style that I think can work well elsewhere in evening wear

This gentleman was one of my favourites I saw. Smiling and interesting, every day. The orange shetland pops beneath the browns of jacket, trousers and indeed cap. Without it, the browns would be rather dull together, but as a mid-layer, the orange also doesn’t stand out too much. 

I like the second outfit above too. I’m never going to wear those shoes, but I admire how he really embraces volume, and it looks great even though he’s a shorter guy. One reason is the probably accessories around that volume, like the shoes, coat and bag; another is the similar volume in his other clothes: wide trousers and pieces like that fluffy fleece. 

Mikey, from Sunspel. Always a good dresser in an understated way, and I liked this warm and practical combination in shades of navy. Fine rollneck under chunky sweater, under waterproof coat with a watch cap.

I usually see a rollneck under a crewneck like this with more contrast, such as the previous gentleman, but this made me make a note to go home and try my finest navy rollneck (from Sexton) under something like a Rubato lambswool crewneck. If it works, it would be pleasingly unusual and very cosy. It’s something women do a lot more, and would be interesting to try. 

A reader commented that it was brave of me to wear double denim to Pitti (on the last day, my day off). I wonder if they realise that there’s just as much workwear at Pitti as tailoring. The bright suits might have been the reason Pitti became famous, but there’s a lot of western clothing, work clothing and sportswear too. I wonder whether it’s a case of only following certain feeds. 

I thought this shot, taken by Jamie on a cold morning, was a nice example of workwear done well. The fit of the buffalo-check jacket is perfect: just the right length, neat across the seat but big in the shoulders, with a tall collar on top. With an old tote, and boots that aren’t the obvious Red Wings. It’s an outfit that could be worn by any reader at the weekend, particularly if the cap were swapped for a beanie.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson

Who are my favourite tailors? (Part two)

Who are my favourite tailors? (Part two)

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Please read part one of this article, here, before this one. Without that context, setting out my priorities, this summary will likely be misleading. Everyone is different, wants different things from bespoke, and simply gets on with people differently. 

Assuming you’ve read and digested it, here are the bespoke tailors I prefer after 15 years of trying around 60

It’s a short list, but I don’t think people benefit from having that many - it removes too many of the pleasurable aspects of tailoring. 

If you would like feedback on others - perhaps because you live in a different country and are picking from a different group - please let me know in the comments and I’ll help any way I can. 

Also remember there is a breakdown of the styles of 25 major tailors in this Guide, with photos and measurements. There is also a list of all the tailors I have reviewed, with links to those reviews, here

Soft, casual style: Sartoria Ciardi, The Anthology

Most of the time, the tailoring I wear is Neapolitan in style: soft chest, soft shoulder, open and rounded shape. It can be smart, but it’s the only style I like with jeans and chinos. 

Neapolitans are not always the most reliable, and sometimes the level of finish isn’t great. Some also tend towards a close fit and a short length. Sartoria Ciardi, however, has been uniformly excellent for me, with a great fit every time and a naturally roomier cut.

The finishing is good for Neapolitan, they visit London frequently enough and I get on well with Enzo. His English isn’t perfect, but a colleague he now brings with him is fluent. 

The Anthology’s cut is slightly different from Ciardi, with some Florentine influences meaning the shoulder is more extended and the fronts more open. But it fits the same function. 

English, smart style: Steven Hitchcock, WW Chan

Although Neapolitan style can be smart, there is always something sharper and more elegant about English tailoring, and I adore it. If I can, I would always want that style in my wardrobe - to be worn smartly, with smart trousers. 

Among English cuts, the one I’ve found I prefer is the ‘drape’ style. But I must emphasise that a big part of this is what flatters my body, plus a subjective preference for the look. Not everyone wants to make sloped shoulders even more so.  

The drape-style tailor I’ve had the best consistent experience with is Steven Hitchcock. It’s a narrow thing, as I also like Anderson & Sheppard and highly rate Whitcomb & Shaftesbury. In the end the difference is tiny points of style and of relationship - even stupid things like I’ve had more made with Steven, so I've been able to dial in fit and style. 

I also add WW Chan to this section because, while not English, their cut is slightly smarter and the product is very well executed. They deserve a higher profile. The biggest downside is access, as they only visit London twice a year. 

Structured, stylised: Michael Browne, Edward Sexton 

Most people would be fine with just one of those categories above, and with just one tailor within it. If I were starting again - and if writing about menswear were not my job - I would only stray outside of them in order to wear a different, unique style. 

Two clear examples of that are Michael Browne and Edward Sexton. My top coat from Michael feels different to any other coat I’ve had made, or indeed worn at all; my double-breasted suit from Edward is dramatic, storied and made to be noticed.

I’d suggest someone else might like to use one of these to make a tuxedo, or another piece of evening wear where a statement is less unusual. 

Trousers: Whitcomb & Shaftesbury

Again it’s a tiny difference, but Whitcomb & Shaftesbury have made the best-fitting trousers I’ve had. Their offshore service makes bespoke more justifiable, and given I wear trousers just with knitwear so much these days, it seems reasonable to use one tailor for them. 

Whitcomb are also a great team, and they’re very accessible. Visiting tailors lose out in terms of access and I prefer the neat, fine English finishing these days to any fussiness of double-buttoned waistbands or lapped seams (again, as detailed in part one).

Does this mean I’m only going to use three or four tailors going forward? No.

Most obviously, covering bespoke is my job so I will cover new tailors that readers might be interested in, and ones that fit different criteria to mine (such as style, access or budget). In the coming months that will include Paolo Martorano, Assisi and Fred Nieddu, for example. 

There is also a case for covering new styles from existing tailors. Readers have asked about the double-breasted cut from The Anthology and from Whitcomb, for instance. 

More subtly, there are some tailors with whom I’ve built a great relationship over the years, and would probably want to continue to use. They include Pirozzi, who would be a strong challenger for Ciardi had I not used the latter so much, and Nicoletta Caraceni, whose biggest issue is access (she doesn’t travel). Lorenzo Cifonelli too, who uses denim and suede like no one else.

If I was advising a reader, I might suggest they could use one of these as an indulgence, after years of establishing a working wardrobe. A Cifonelli denim DB or a Liverano ulster as a birthday present, perhaps, fully aware of the disadvantages of using a tailor as a one-off.

Comparing bespoke tailors is unfortunately not a one-dimensional or entirely objective process, easy as that would be.

But all the tailors mentioned here have made me a great-fitting suit or jacket, as they said they would, when they said they would. That’s really what most readers want when they ask who I recommend, and it's what I attempt to set out in the PS reviews. 

It’s when you pick between the various tailors that things get more personal. Hopefully this two-part explanation of my particular preferences helps others make their own decisions. 

Do let me know who your favourite tailors are, on what criteria, in the comments below. Especially if you've been doing this for several years and have lessons to pass onto everyone else.

Who are my favourite tailors? (Part one)

Who are my favourite tailors? (Part one)

Monday, January 16th 2023
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This is the single question I get asked most, and when it is, I nearly always reply that it’s a complex area that really requires a full in-depth article. 

I think it actually takes two. 

In this first article, today, I'll explain my personal priorities. This is crucial. Without it the follow-up article is misleading, perhaps even meaningless. It’s why it’s so hard when someone wants a one-line answer. 

The tailor you prefer doesn’t just depend on where you live, or how much money you have. It also heavily depends on your style and lifestyle, how much you care about things like finishing, and even on your personality. 

A second article, on Wednesday, will list my small number of favourite tailors, and explain why they fit these personal, subjective criteria. 

Please forgive the set-up, I think it’s the only way to do this in a way that befits Permanent Style and its years of coverage of bespoke tailoring.  

1. Use as few tailors as possible 

I have used a huge number of tailors over the years, but mostly to present a full range to readers, in many parts of the world, with different preferences. Were this not my job, I would use far fewer - likely 3-5, with the number being driven by a need for different cuts and styles. 

This is because, firstly, it usually takes a suit or two for the tailor to completely nail your pattern and preferences. And secondly…

2. Relationship is key

This is something I’ve come to realise, rather too slowly, over time. If you don’t have a good relationship with the tailor - open, honest, mutually sympathetic - you’re never going to bring up the things that bother you, and if you did they won’t understand. 

This is a major reason why any list of favourites is subjective. The tailor has to be someone you get on with, which is dependent on your character as much as theirs. It also depends on culture and shared language. 

3. Location matters

Another factor I’ve only realised slowly. Perhaps these points are coming to me first because they seem to get the least attention.

When you have more tailoring, you’re more likely to have old tailoring you want adjusted, or repaired, or simply looked after. This is much, much easier if the tailor is local, and if not then at least a frequent visitor. It’s a significant part of the pleasure of bespoke: visiting someone you like, at your convenience, to get your clothes cared for and consider new ones.

4. Prestigious location does not

If you want the full Savile Row experience, it’s worth paying extra to visit Huntsman, Henry Poole or Anderson & Sheppard. There is such amazing history, and they are beautiful places to be. But once you’re on your third or fourth commission, relationship will matter more. And in the long term, the product itself of course matters most of all. 

So I’m perfectly happy walking up several flights of stairs to visit a tailor round the corner, and indeed happy if the work isn’t done anywhere close to Mayfair either, as long as the service is the same. 

5. Style really matters

If I could, I would never commission something from a tailor without seeing a finished example first. It’s happened too often that I’ve had a coat made, for example, and disliked the shape of the collar or the lapel. You can’t always see clearly at the final fitting, and even if you could, it’s not the same as walking around in it, trying it out in person, flipping the collar. 

Coats and DBs are the biggest issue, but I feel the same about cloth increasingly too. Compared to ready-made clothing, tailors’ biggest problem is style - few of them are stylish, few of them even think it’s important. In my experience it’s what puts off most men becoming long-term customers of bespoke. 

6. Professionalism

Delivering what you said you would, when you would. Consistency of cut and fit. Reliability in the long term: being there to build that relationship. 

Customers should often be a little more understanding when small tailors don't answer an email for a couple of days. They are tiny operations: if you want a dedicated customer service team, go to a bigger tailor and pay more. But there is a minimum level that makes bespoke worth it, and some tailors fall short. 

7. Cut is the reason to have more than one tailor

As mentioned, were I starting again I would largely use multiple tailors for different styles. It’s nice to have both a smarter English option - for me, a drape cutter - and a more casual one that suits jeans and chinos - probably Neapolitan. 

Then I’d add ones that are different again, but perhaps more niche, such as Michael Browne or Edward Sexton. For a special piece like a dinner jacket, or because you simply loved a particular design (a Liverano ulster, for example).

8. Hand work matters less, to me

When I first started buying bespoke tailoring, I was fascinated by Milanese buttonholes, lapped seams and pick stitching. Partly because they were just things that caught the attention, and partly because they were exquisite pieces of craft. 

I care much less about them these days. Some Neapolitan tailors are probably still too rough and ragged, but I’d actually rather have a neat hand-sewn buttonhole than a Milanese one - and I don’t care much whether the lining is hand sewn to the facing or not. Certainly, aspects of the cut such as shoulder expression or lapel shape are far more important. 

9. Comfort matters more, to me

These last few criteria are more personal, and probably need less explanation. 

For several years I’ve preferred tailoring that is more roomy - where that flattering ‘V’ shape is created by adding a little to the shoulders and chest, rather than taking it away from the waist. The proportions are the same, but the former is much more comfortable. 

10. What you think is flattering, can be personal

I’m tall and slim, but without a particularly big chest or shoulders. The tailoring that looks best on me usually adds to those latter two things, with drape, an extended shoulder or a wider lapel. I also think having even more sloping shoulders is a price worth paying for extra width. 

This is the biggest reason I’d discount tailors that cut a close chest, a narrow shoulder or a roped shoulder (the same effect as narrowing). I’m fully aware that this is related to fashion, as is number 7 above. But if everything is in moderation, that risk is reduced.

I hope that all made sense. If not, please ask any and all questions below. Part two, the list of the actual tailors, will be published on Wednesday.