Sartoria Giuliva and Giuliva Heritage: Inspiration from Gerardo

Sartoria Giuliva and Giuliva Heritage: Inspiration from Gerardo

Monday, October 3rd 2022
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Gerardo Cavaliere is someone whose style I've admired for a while, but rarely had a chance to talk to for more than a few moments at an event. 

While Milad and I were in Rome recently, therefore, I spent some time with Gerardo and his partner Margarita in their studio in the Regola area of the city, learning about the business. 

I feel there will be some readers who will also have seen images of Gerardo around online - he's hard to miss, with those striking features and often equally striking tailoring - but won't have known what he does or how to buy it. 

Gerardo grew up near the Amalfi coast, and trained as a lawyer. But like many who end up with their own business in this area, he quit to follow his passion for tailoring. 

That business is what is known as Sartoria Giuliva today. But it doesn't have that high a profile - apart from those pictures of Gerardo - because it's only accessible by visiting the studio in Rome. 

“The whole point of the brand was that it was just things I love,” Gerardo says. “So it makes sense to do it here. It would seem too cold and impersonal somewhere else.” 

The tailoring is made to a bespoke level in Naples, but fitted by Gerardo in Rome and usually requires one or two fittings. Milad was measured for a jacket while we were there. A two-piece suit starts at €3500 excluding cloth. 

The Sartoria has also been a little eclipsed in recent years by Giuliva Heritage (above), the ready-to-wear line of initially only womenswear that Margarita and Gerardo started after they met six years ago. 

Giuliva Heritage is a big brand, certainly for a young company. It's carried by Selfridge’s, Harrod’s and Matches; Eva Herzigova models; there was a collaboration with H&M. Ten people now work in and out of the Rome studio - one reason they’re about to move down the street. 

After three years of Giuliva Heritage, menswear was added, meaning some of Gerardo's designs can now be accessed thereThe make isn’t the same as the bespoke tailoring, but the materials often are. 

This is significant for me, because while it’s always hard to buy suits and jackets off the peg, it is the design elements at Giuliva that I find most interesting. 

Milad was planning to visit Gerardo anyway - before we scheduled our trip for PS - because he’d wanted to have something made with him for a while. And this makes sense: Giuliva is more Milad’s taste than mine.  

Milad likes bolder colours and bigger patterns. He’s more likely to wear something that stands out, and take real pleasure in it. He had been particularly enamoured with Giuliva’s pink shawl-collar jacket - above - which despite my occasional foray into pink and purple jackets, is not something I’d wear. 

The same goes for tailoring like the Prince-of-Wales check suit I’m trying on below - in that case less for the material and more for the dramatic lapels. Even on the white jacket pictured lower down, I’m conservative enough to prefer more traditional shawl lapels with a low belly. 

But as I never tire of saying, if you’re interested in clothes then you’re interested in more than what you wear. Plus I know from meeting them that there are readers who revel in unusual tailoring. 

Most importantly, inspiration should be pursued everywhere - maybe not in a lapel, but in a colour; or in the combination of colours; or in the way the cuts are combined. Otherwise all we do is make carbon copies of each other and circulate them, around and around.

For style to be inspiring, what it needs is creativity. And Gerardo certainly has that. Even in such a narrow aesthetic as tailoring, he always looks fantastic and always looks different. 

On the day we met, he was wearing a bright blue polo under a white-linen jacket, for example. Now it helps if you live in a sunny country, but still it made me consider bolder polos under white linen. 

He was also wearing red socks between his tan worsted trousers and tan suede shoes. I don’t wear bright socks generally, but it made me think about strong colours as a way to separate similar shoes and trousers. And he is often more subtle in this combinations too - a cream silk shirt with that white linen jacket, for example, with a a pair of pale-green linen trousers (see various images at the bottom of this post).

Creativity stimulates. It makes you not just want to copy, but to be more creative yourself. It opens doors in your mind. Or at least it does for me 

The same went for some of the things Milad and I tried on in the Giuliva studio. 

I loved the shape of the lapels on the big suede coat above, even if I wouldn't have them quite as big. The baby-blue colour of the trench on the right, below, was gorgeous, although the trench on the left in a super-heavy linen had woven leather details that weren’t for me.

It was actually Gerardo’s collection of vintage fabrics that I gravitated to most - perhaps because they were often more subtle, and could be made up in more conservative cuts. 

I ended up ordering a shirt in a beautiful 80s cotton, a cream with fine multicoloured stripes. It’s a material you would never buy online, and I can understand why it might not have sold the first time around. But it made perfect sense in person, with Gerardo’s advice and eye.

In any store it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetic around you, buying something that really looks best in the shop - in their world. Gerardo’s studio is so beautifully appointed that it could certainly have that effect on you. 

But I’m fairly confident the shirt will be nice, and the style was pretty simple - a standard point collar, just a touch bigger than I would have normally. 

Let’s wait and see. That too requires a trip back to Rome, so it might take a while. 

For anyone else that thinks they could find inspiration in Gerardo and Giuliva, I recommend trying to see the products in person, particularly for the fabrics. Doubtless the number of stockists where this is possible will carry on growing, given the direction the brand is going. 

giulivaheritage.com

@sartoriagiuliva

Photography above, Milad Abedi. Images below, from recent lookbooks and social

Niwaki Japanese tools and knives: Levels of quality

Niwaki Japanese tools and knives: Levels of quality

Friday, September 30th 2022
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You might be forgiven for wondering why a luxury Japanese gardening shop opened last year on Chiltern Street - I mean, who buys axes and ladders in Marylebone on a casual Saturday afternoon?

The explanation lies in the history of that store, Niwaki, and I think in some aspects of modern retail. 

Niwaki started as the hobby of Jake Hobson (below), a sculptor turned gardener who fell in love with Japanese techniques, and then found on his return to England that few people appreciated them or the tools required. 

He began importing things like secateurs and three-legged ladders, and selling to gardeners. “It wasn’t easy at the beginning,” Jake says. “No one had websites, and people would still ask for documents over fax.”

This wasn’t that long ago either - the company has been going 15 years. But Japan was (perhaps oddly) a very late adopter to the internet. 

Over time, Niwaki grew to the point where Jake could do it full time. There was then a slow evolution from being a reseller to a brand. 

It's become a fairly familiar story in the past 10 or 15 years, which I think is testament to how much easier the internet and social media have made it for businesses to find a customer niche. (Something I should keep in mind every time I’m bemoaning their downsides.) 

Jake’s wife (who’s Japanese) then joined the team and Niwaki continued to grow, becoming a regular at specialist events like the Chelsea Flower Show. “This is the vast majority of our business today - online selling to gardeners makes up about 75%, and most of the rest is wholesale,” says Jake. 

In other words, very little is people randomly browsing Marylebone on a casual Saturday afternoon. So why open a store at all?

“It’s nice to have a focus point,” says Jake. “We have lots of people come through who don’t know us, but at least half are existing customers that just want to visit in person.

“We have quite a few Americans who come in, for example. There was a couple last week from LA who were long-time customers, and made sure they came in while they were in London. It’s a destination.”

This, I feel, is the direction many brands are going. You don’t need multiple stores to run an international business today, and it’s a lot cheaper to just have one, and then perhaps do trunk shows like Anglo-Italian or Saman Amel, or events and trade shows like Niwaki. 

This might seem like a niche point, but it's interesting how many people have asked me - in the year since Niwaki opened - what such a seemingly specialist shop is doing there. There’s still an assumption that a physical store must be funding itself through physical custom, rather than just being part of the business -  the tip of the iceberg. 

“There are lots of little benefits to having a store in London too,” says Jake. “It’s effectively our buying office, which is easier to do there than down in Dorset. And you get a different kind of customer interaction - often longer, often deeper.

"Someone is much more likely to suggest a tool they would like to have but we don’t sell.”

Having gone through all of this, I do think Niwaki is worth visiting, even if you're not a gardener let alone an existing customer.

First, it's not all axes and ladders: they also sell Japanese stationery, a little clothing, and a wide range of kitchen knives

I got some advice on looking after an object that is very precious to me - the knife I bought from Japanese maker Sasuke (below) when I visited his forge in Japan (reported here on PS).

And I like the fact that Niwaki always has a range of prices - from everyday items to the really special. 

“We try to offer three different tiers of products like knives,” says Jake. “So you have a starter one for £39, which is equivalent to the normal German chef’s knife. Then something around £100-200 where you get all the refinements of Japanese knifemaking. And finally the top end around £300 or £400. 

“The difference between that second and third level will be little things like the fact it’s made by one person, or the Damascus decoration.”

The refinements of Japanese knifemaking, by the way, are things like using a carbon-steel edge, sandwiched between two other layers of steel. The carbon-steel retains its sharpness for longer, but is more delicate (too delicate to make a whole knife out of). 

I can testify to both the effectiveness of this type of knife and the care it requires, having used several over the years. The edge can even chip if you’re rough, but as the Niwaki website says, the key is to think of it more like a fine wine glass than an everyday, every-job tool. 

I also have a pair of Niwaki secateurs that I use in our garden, and am reasonably good at looking after. Like the knives, they come in levels of quality, but I noticed a huge difference (and satisfaction) in the mid-level Higurashi (£59). 

The approach extends to stationery too. Niwaki sell Cray-Pas crayons for £8.50 (“every Japanese person will remember these from their school days”) as well as Tombo artist’s pencils, £179 for a set of 90. 

Jake says Niwaki does get a fairly regular stream of browsers, simply interested in anything that is interesting and well made - even if they don’t necessarily buy an axe. 

“There’s also a very particular customer who comes in just before Christmas, looking for a present for his wife. They want something different, but special, and that’s often a niche we can fill.”

Jake's biggest problem today is supply. Most of the makers Niwaki works with are small and family run, and if the father or son are ill production just stops. They also have little interest in growth. 

“It was particularly hard during Covid,” he says. “There was a boom in hobby gardening - with everyone stuck at home - but a lot of workshops shut down.” Fortunately things are now back on track. Though if you do want a present for a gardener in your life, I guess it would be a good idea to not wait until just before Christmas. 

www.niwaki.com

Introducing: The navy Donegal Coat

Introducing: The navy Donegal Coat

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The cut and contours of this, the PS Donegal Coat, will be familiar to most readers. So I’ll focus on the colour to begin with. 

This is our navy iteration, and it is primarily a large, 3x3 herringbone weave that alternates between navy and black. The combination gives the coat the true dark navy colour prized by fans of classic menswear. 

But I wouldn’t want it to be just that. Partly because that’s not what a donegal coat is - we’re using authentic donegal yarn, and there have to be flecks a plenty - but also because I didn’t want this to be just a conservative, formal business-type coat. 

The thing that pleased me most about last year’s iteration, the large mid-grey herringbone, was that it wasn’t quite what people were expecting. The pattern was larger than a traditional overcoat, and this gave it a contemporary feel. 

It surprised some readers, but in the end became the most successful collaboration we’ve ever done. That classic pattern, in a slightly larger size, made it wearable with everything from suits to sweats. 

This year’s navy is in the same vein. 

It’s dark, but the number of brown, cream and grey flecks in it make the coat much less conservative, and (to me) more interesting. 

It’s still classic enough to wear with a charcoal suit, white shirt and black shoes (above). But I think it also looks very stylish - clean and modern - with just a navy knit (below). 

In fact, there are three slightly different office outfits here, in perhaps a futile attempt to reflect many levels of formality: flannel suit and shirt; navy knit and shirt; navy knit alone. All worn with black loafers and the occasional navy watch cap

And then thre’s an outfit with jeans and a sweatshirt (below) to show how the same colours could be used in something that is more casual still. 

That’s a grey sweat from The Real McCoy’s, over a PS T-shirt, with Rubato jeans and Alden boots. The coat looks just as good with a light-wash jean, but the dark denim continues the theme. 

Oh and there’s also a shot lower down of the coat with a pink oxford shirt, just to remind us of a different colour navy looks great with. Although no one here needs instructions on what looks good with navy. 

Milad Abedi and I shot this around Somerset House and another few places in London, on a cold and overcast day - and I was struck by how many compliments the coat got. 

It might have been that no one had expected the suddenly cold weather, and were envious of any coat at all. But I think it was at least partly how interesting the pattern is. 

Walking in and out of the Somerset House cafe, on different occasions, a man and a woman both said ‘nice coat’ as they passed. Anyone who lives in London will know how rare that is, and I can’t help feeling there’s something about this iteration that draws people in. 

It’s not anonymous, like a plain navy; but it doesn’t declare itself loudly either. Milad said it reminded him of the images the James Webb space telescope started sending back earlier this year, and I know what he means. The depth of space, with all the constellations scattered across it.

Anyway, that’s 500 words on why I really like this coat, and chose it for this year’s iteration. It is available now on the Permanent Style shop

For those that haven’t been following this collaboration for the past few years, here are some of the details. 

The PS Donegal Coat was born ​​out of a need for a versatile coat that could be worn with jeans for a walk, or tailoring to the office. Something that could be thrown on, almost without thought, and yet be rigorously designed such that it always flattered the wearer. 

To that end, it is a little longer than most (but can be shortened if required) to add a touch of flair, and that’s balanced by a slightly higher collar that effectively frames the face. The collar stays up when put up, due to curved insert on the neck. The standard throat latch is reshaped to sit more elegantly when not in use. 

It has both two internal breast pockets, and a large hip pocket in which to keep a hat, book or anything else bulky. The outer hip pockets are lined with cashmere (always my favourite touch).

It has a distinctive yet subtle lining in antique gold; and the buttons are two-hole buffalo horn - a style more commonly seen on Savile Row, and reflecting my love of bespoke. 

Just as important as the style, though - in fact probably more so - is the Donegal yarn. 

Donegal tweed is so pleasing and unique in its texture. There’s slubbiness in there, an authentic and natural feel, plus great colour variation when you look closely, but compared to other traditional cloths it never feels old-fashioned - unlike a big windowpane check.

The tweed is spun exclusively for us by Donegal Yarns in Ireland, the last remaining mill that makes the yarn - before being woven in Lancashire and manufactured by Private White VC in Manchester.

You can read all about Donegal Yarns in our factory visit - to the Willy Wonka of wool - here

Alterations

To start with on alterations, I should also say that the coat can be lengthened as well as shortened, and I’ve done that on a couple of my coats, which I prefer. But then I’m above average height (6 foot) and have a predisposition towards longer coats. 

  • The coat deliberately has more inlay than most RTW coats, increasing the possibilities for alteration.
  • Length can easily be shortened - up to 10cm without interrupting much of the balance. It can also be lengthened slightly, by up to 5cm.
  • The sleeves can be lengthened by around 4cm if required.
  • And they can be shortened. Shortening by 1.5cm would be easy - more than that would require the wrist strap to be moved.
  • The sleeve width can be increased from bicep to cuff up to 2.5cm.
  • The body - chest, waist, and hem width - can be increased by up to 4cm in circumference.

Ordering:

  • The coats are available at William Crabtree in London for the next couple of weeks, to try on if you would like to. Purchases are then made online.
  • The coat costs £825 plus VAT. (The price has gone up slightly, only to reflect increased costs.)
  • At the moment it is exclusively available through Permanent Style, on the webshop here.
  • There are sizes from XS (chest 46, Private White size 2) up to XXL.
  • Have a close look at the measurements below if you're unsure of sizing, and if in doubt compare them to a coat you already own.
  • The fit is pretty standard, however, so taking your normal size is usually safe. 
  • I am six-foot tall and usually wear a size 50-chest jacket. I am wearing a Medium (4).
  • As with all PS products, there are free returns should you want to change sizes. Ships from the UK.

Measurements:

X-Small/2 Small/3 Medium/4 Large/5 X-Large/6 XX-Large/7
Chest 50.5cm 53 56.5 60 63.5 67
Waist 52 54.5 58 61.5 65 68.5
Bottom hem 58.5 61 64.5 68 71.5 75
Length 108.4 109 110 111 112 113
Sleeve 81 82 83 84 85 86
Cuff (width) 13.8 14.1 14.5 14.9 15.3 15.7

 

Our next talk in London: Ethan Newton, October 25th

Our next talk in London: Ethan Newton, October 25th

Tuesday, September 27th 2022
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Our last evening talk with Tony Sylvester was so fun that we have a second one lined up - with Ethan Newton on Tuesday, October 25th. 

The Bryceland's founder is only in London for a few weeks, but we've found a date and will be in the same space as last time - the top floor of Mortimer House, the club in Fitzrovia, five minutes from Oxford Circus. 

Please come along if you'd like to meet Ethan, see some Bryceland’s products, and join in the chat. We'll be covering topics such as how individuals' styles evolve, and the meaning of authenticity today. 

As before, please RSVP to [email protected]. We had a great audience last time of around 40, which really contributed to the enjoyment of the evening.

The event will start at 6:00pm, with the talk beginning at 7pm. We will be up in the Gallery at Mortimer House, where there is also a small bar. I’ll send details on how to find us upon RSVP.

Thank you everyone, and see some of you soon. 

Simon

Trousers and what they go with: A sliding scale of formality

Trousers and what they go with: A sliding scale of formality

Monday, September 26th 2022
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When we published our second capsule guide to trousers recently, there was a discussion in the comments as to their smartness - and a request for an article setting it out. 

Now, trousers vary in more than just their material, so this will always be a simplification. But trousers are relatively simple compared to shoes or jackets, so I think there is something sensible to say. 

Just keep in mind that these brief guides are a starting point - a way to understand the factors (more texture is more casual, muted colours are smarter) rather than a set of rules. 

So with that always in mind, here is a sliding scale of formality of trousers, with notes on what else - as a result - they might go with. Apologies to those that will find it basic, but I know now that some readers will find it useful.

We’ll go from the smartest to the most casual.

Wool gabardine, mohair, superfine worsteds

A normal business suit is made from worsted wool - fine wool that has been processed to be smoother and sleeker. That’s why it’s different from a hairy tweed jacket. 

Some worsteds are especially fine, or particularly processed, to be sleeker still. These, such as wool gabardine, are usually seen as smarter than regular worsted; and while mohair has a different, crisper handle, it has a similar sharpness. 

Shoes: These worsteds are most suited to shoes such as oxfords, that are also sleeker given they don’t have the extra leather layers of a derby. Usually calf rather than suede; usually darker colours. 

Upper half: Most usually worn with a smart jacket such as a blazer, or a particularly fine knit. 

Regular worsteds

As above, but more like a standard business suit. And usually not the preferred choice for trousers on their own anyway. A navy pair worn with a white shirt won’t look wrong, but it will probably look like there’s a matching jacket somewhere.

If you want separate trousers for a work environment, best to go for something like flannel, or even cavalry twill, that doesn’t look like it’s part of a suit. 

Shoes and upper half: If you do wear suit trousers in this manner, then same as above

Textured twills and high twists

The group I've called 'textured twills' includes cavalry twill, covert and whipcord. They all have much the same sharpness as the worsteds above, but aren't as fine and usually have a little more texture. They’re also usually in less formal colours, such as greens, beiges and browns. But they don’t have to be.

I'd put high-twist wool in the same bucket. It's a summer material, but also has the sharpness of a normal suiting with a little more texture by natural of its twisted yarn and open weave.

There is, by the way, more comprehensive information on all these fabrics in the PS Guide to Cloth.

Shoes: These sub-sections get easier and more predictable as we descend the smartness scale. A textured twill such as whipcord is more likely to suit a brogue, a derby or a boot, and a brown shoe rather than black. But as always there is more than one variable, so a charcoal whipcord could be great with a black boot, for example, because it’s a smarter colour.

Upper half: We’re getting into the realm of more textured jackets, such as fluffier cashmere and tweed. Knits can be fine, but smarter shetlands, for example, also work. 

Flannel

The old favourite. A woollen rather than a worsted, so without that fineness, and with a napped finish that gives it a little fuzziness. 

Flannel is great at bridging casual and formal; perhaps the best. And annoyingly there’s little in the summer that does it as well.

Shoes: A classic grey flannel works with black leather shoes and a white shirt, but also with a brown suede boot and a crewneck.

Upper half: As above, good with a navy blazer or a tweed jacket, a fine V-neck or a shetland. If you imagine all these categories as overlapping sections of a scale, rather than single points, then flannel is a wider section than most. 

Linen

Linen is tricky because its formality varies quite a lot depending on its weight. A heavier, starchier Irish linen is arguably very elegant and could sit above flannel on this scale. But a lighter, Italian one could be made with a drawstring and be fine on the beach. 

I think it’s important to remember this versatility and see it as a strength rather than a complication. You could wear nothing else all summer and cross several types of smartness. 

Shoes: Rarely an oxford, but most other things, particularly loafers given it’s a summer material. And at the casual end everything like espadrilles and sandals. 

Upper half: As above. Tailored jackets to T-shirts. 

Tailored cottons, moleskin and cords

This section could be divided up further: many tailored cottons look smarter than any corduroy. The latter is more casual by virtue of its texture, as is moleskin. 

But the important point here is that cotton is nearly always less smart than wool; and that this is a separate category to chinos or khakis, which come next. 

Shoes: Not oxfords, but derbys and loafers, no blacks, and suede as well as leather.

Upper half: Not a T-shirt, and not a smart blazer or fine knit, but everything else in between. 

Chinos

A chino will usually be made from a less fine cotton than the types above; it will only have a simple waistband; it’s more likely to have raised seams and other details.

You know what a chino is. But these are the reasons it is in a different category to the cottons above, and they are why it looks different too - eg it doesn’t really drape, it just sits there, more like a denim. 

Shoes: Slightly more casual than the tailored cottons, and therefore suited to slightly more casual shoes. For example, perhaps not a fairly smart brown-calf derby. But then at the bottom end, anything you want, including trainers/sneakers. 

Upper half: There is an American style that involves wearing jackets with chinos and it can look good, but it’s quite specific (roomier jacket etc). Most of the time chinos aren’t the best with a jacket, and should be kept to more casual partners, such as a suede blouson or overshirt. 

Jeans

You don’t need to be told that jeans are at the bottom of this list, or probably that a dark, indigo, unfaded jean is smarter than a light, blue, faded one full of holes. But they’re here for the sake of completeness. 

It might also be worth saying that white jeans are in some ways the smartest of all denim. And as a long as it isn’t dark and raining, they’re quite versatile. 

Shoes: Same as chinos although, oddly, I think some leather shoes work better with jeans than chinos. Eg a tan derby.

Upper half: Same as chinos although, equally, I find tweed jackets better with jeans most of the time. 

Images:

The point of this article was to answer reader questions, so please tell me if I have. And if I haven’t, tell me how - I’ll add answers in the comments, or supplement the above. The whole of PS is basically an extended Q&A anyway.

 

Seiji McCarthy bespoke shoes: East Meets East

Seiji McCarthy bespoke shoes: East Meets East

Friday, September 23rd 2022
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Seiji McCarthy is someone I've wanted to cover on PS ever since we hung out in Tokyo some six years ago. But with no prospect of travelling to Japan soon, I turned to local writer and friend Christopher Berry to visit Seiji and report - on Seiji's American style and MTO process in particular.

By Christopher Berry

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Seiji McCarthy, one of Tokyo’s most interesting new bespoke shoemakers. I say new, but actually he’s been in Japan for five years, assiduously honing his craft and building a brand. He just tends to keep rather a low profile.

Seiji first lived here in his twenties, both to master the language and to re-connect with his roots (he is half Japanese, on his mother’s side). Back in the US, he pursued a career with the NBA (that’s the National Basketball Association), which took him all over America and Asia. But then he returned a few years ago to pursue shoemaking.

Somehow, Seiji has managed to make a name for himself in a country renowned for its master shoemakers. Some might have called the move foolhardy, given the country already seems to be bursting with names. But I think this is to misunderstand the local culture. Whether it be in shoes, suits or watches, whenever a new player enters the arena, everyone pays due attention - and often the bar ends up being raised for everyone.

When Seiji started he shared part of the upper floor of World Footwear Gallery, in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. But today he is in a new atelier - a discreet ivy-clad building around the corner, a stone’s throw away from Bryceland’s - and frankly it is a joy to see him thriving in his own space.

After settling into the jazz café-themed workshop, Seiji explains to me his new made-to-order service. This is quicker and less expensive, and presents a high level of value to those who want bespoke quality, but have fairly regular feet.

The fitting process is inherently an additive one. First, clients are guided into their best-fitting trial shoe. Then, corrections to the pre-made form are made as necessary. For each altered location on the last, an additional charge of ¥5,000 (£30) is added.

This process can also be done remotely, but is only recommended for people that can fit into a standard sized last of a commonly known brand. For example, one could tell Seiji they were a 9.5 in, say, Alden and select a style and leather. The shoe would then be made in one shot with zero fittings, according to the customer’s appropriate size based on those discussions.

There is one final option, where a trial shoe is sent as part of this remote MTO service, for an extra ¥70,000. For those who are travel-restricted, these options all work well, to good customer satisfaction. However, Seiji always advocates in-person fittings when possible.

Bespoke is inevitably where things get more interesting.

While Seiji’s shoes are as far from a factory product as possible, he places a heavy emphasis on factory-like levels of consistency: “I like to take as much guesswork out as possible. If I have a gauge that shows me how your foot looks, I can imagine it in 3D so much better."

While European shoemakers typically favour simple tape measurements and foot tracings, many in Japan and Asia use more involved fitting processes, replete with plastic shoes, pressure sensors and even plaster moulds. These devices can provide a 1:1 anatomical reference in the absence of the customer’s foot, but in Seiji’s view don’t always guarantee better results.

In his experience, topographical cross sections of the foot using a gauge are extremely useful for achieving a good fit, on top of tracings and measures. Although as in many areas of craft, ultimately the proper decision about which tools to use is up to the artisan, and which they find delivers the best results to their customers.

It’s also useful to note that ‘well-fitting’ shoes are considered differently here in Japan than abroad.

For example, people take off their shoes with more frequency, and no one wants to garner even the slightest negative attention from peers or superiors by spending too much time lacing or unlacing their footwear at professional functions. Consequently, Japanese people typically wear shoes about a half size too large, and sometimes more.

Here, people prefer to jump in and out of their shoes in a flash, so that the gears of society may continue to turn uninterrupted.

Seiji and I agreed these societal and workplace norms are also the reason why men in Asia tend towards a more elongated shoe. Convincing customers to break with this visual bias has not always been easy. But, with much of the world becoming less formal the tides seem to be finally turning, and Seiji is enjoying the opportunity to cultivate and educate customers during this cultural shift.

There is also a parallel with Seiji’s own journey, from idolizing super-slim London shoes to the more American-oriented styles he prefers today.

“When I started as a bespoke maker I wanted to make the George Cleverly Churchill-style chiseled toe. But the style I’ve developed since living here is a lot less chiseled and a lot more round,” he says.

“Today the most popular shoes we sell are still brogues and dress shoes, because Japanese guys typically wear more dress shoes. But whereas in the past I’d sell a brogue with a super chiseled toe, now we do things much more rounded. Now I’ll push people into grain leathers or suede, or I’ll suggest people try cordovan, which instantly gives that bulky, waxy feel.”

It’s interesting to hear this, as cordovan is notoriously one of the more difficult leathers to work with. With shell, especially on the heel and toe areas, Seiji likens getting a clean pull over the last to “hog wrestling.”

And even suede skins are harder, because they have to be kept spotless throughout the (physically demanding) making process. “The materials I recommend the most are some of the toughest to work with as a maker, but I don’t mind. I enjoy the challenge. I love the feel and look of those materials for myself and for my customers,” he says.

While many will associate cordovan with ready-made shoes, you could argue its sought-after properties are actually better suited to bespoke in some ways.

On a bespoke last the material adapts more readily to the foot and gives in all the right places from the first step. Ready-made cordovan by contrast can be harder to break in, and the pain lingers in our memory (and sometimes feet) for years.

The author personally wears a size EEE in Alden and can attest to this phenomenon. A lot of it also has to do with age. As we get older, our feet spread out or can become misshapen by years of ill-fitting shoes, causing further injury.

Seiji’s range includes both English and American styles, but it’s the creation of an elevated, more refined version of the latter that arguably sets him apart from other makers. This casual elegance really seems to put the shoes into a more versatile category of bespoke, approachable by a wider variety of customers.

It’s a style heritage he and I have in common, having both spend time at school in Philadelphia. “Wide leg chinos and button-down shirts - if you’re from the East Coast, we get born in these things, you know? Penny loafers, khakis, rugby shirts and jackets.”

Practicality is also at the centre of the appeal, for him: “I’m probably at the age now [46] where I don’t want to even ride the subway anymore. I mean I will, but there’s a focus on quality of life stuff. I really prefer walking or commuting by bike.

“I like shoes, but I don’t want to have my toenails split. I want a pair that is comfortable and that I can keep for 20 years. You don’t really expect 20-year-olds to show up in bespoke shoes. But I’m at an age now where it makes more sense.”

There’s little surprise that his East Coast beginnings greatly inform the type of clothes Seiji pairs with his shoes. With that in mind, it will also come as little surprise to readers that his workshop is so close to Bryceland’s, the menswear store run by Ethan Newton.

“Ethan really influenced my style to the point that if I hadn’t met him, I think I might still be making British-style shoes. He got me into vintage. I think of him almost like a Rick Rubin. He supports artisans in a way that is ridiculous,” says Seiji.

“The style I’ve developed since living here in Japan is a lot closer to my heritage and a lot more based on daily life. In the end you get back to who you are.”

Seiji is planning international trunk shows in the future. Stay tuned to this space and Seiji’s Instagram for updates.

Prices in JPY as of September 8 2022:

MTO:

  • Price: ¥200,000 (£1225, plus  ¥5,000 per last adjustment)
  • Lead Time: 3-4 months
  • Fittings: 1

Bespoke:

  • Price:  ¥400,000 (£2450)
  • Lead Time: 1 Year
  • Fittings: As necessary

The olive PS Trench is back

The olive PS Trench is back

Wednesday, September 21st 2022
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Three weeks ago, I received my new olive PS Trench Coat. I did have one years ago, but it was a size 3 and I’m definitely more of a 4. I also prefer the belt system on the new model. 

Wearing that coat over the past couple of weeks has reminded precisely me how versatile it is. 

I wore it with a grey suit and white shirt to town, with a brown jacket and beige trousers, with a knit and flannels, and with a sweatshirt and jeans. 

The little test period also showed how well it can bridge the seasons. Even when it was pushing 20 degrees (68 Fahrenheit) it was fine on a rainy day, without the liner. 

Coats that show this kind of versatility make me particularly happy - I think because I know from talking to readers so consistently that this is something they prize in such an expensive item, and value especially in a coat. 

In this latest shoot of the Trench, I added one more look to the ones we shot years ago, to demonstrate that full range. 

So alongside the suit, the jacket and the jeans, there’s now a simple cream knit (from Rubato) and charcoal flannels (above). 

I think it’s a lovely outfit on its own - simple and elegant - but it looks especially nice under the trench. On the feet are suitably water-resistant boots. 

The combination could be a navy knit with cream trousers, a grey knit with brown, even green trousers seem to work ok, I guess because the olive colour has so much brown in it. 

Of course, all of that would mean nothing if the cut of the coat wasn’t great. But I think all classic-menswear enthusiasts will appreciate that collar shape, the size of the lapels, and the overall length.

It is dramatic but extremely practical style, like most of the best menswear; certainly outerwear. Form follows function. 

The silhouette is of course emphasised by cinching the waist of the Trench, which is easier now we have the simpler, pull-through-and-tuck belt at the front. (For details on that, see the launch article for the navy version here. Most sizes in that are still available too.)

At the same time, I’ve found I equally like wearing the trench buttoned up just at the neck and chest, leaving the rest open (above). 

The advantage of this buttoning is that you have easy access to layers underneath, and it still protects against the vast majority of rain. It’s a little like a cape in that respect.

More significantly, it’s a different style - a different look. And perhaps one that’s a little less traditional. 

It might seem a little geeky talking about buttoning orientations, but with something like a raincoat I find I put it on quickly and want to fasten it without much thought. It’s nice to have one or two defaults, and not need to play around with it.

Everything else about the PS Trench has been said before, in the launch article here and subsequent relaunches here and here.  

If you would like more detailed information, you can find it there. But the essentials are that it is a waterproof coat made in cotton Ventile, with taped seams. 

Its design combines the best (in my view) of a traditional despatch rider's coat (like the angled chest pocket) and a traditional trench coat, which contributes the button orientation, the back yoke and the length. 

It comes with a removable grey-flannel liner which makes it wearable most of the year. 

Various small updates have been made since the original in 2017, including a more secure liner, studs to fasten the throat latch, and a removal of the D-rings on the belt, which seemed a little antiquated (no function to drive form there).

The cotton Ventile is entirely waterproof once the seams are taped, and it doesn’t have the nasty rustle of synthetic waterproofs. Ventile also ages really nicely - softening and fading slowly at the seams, like other cottons.

The length is crucial. Trench coats have been cut shorter and shorter in recent years, which not only denies them the swish and swagger of a long coat, but is highly impractical. In the rain, water simply streams off the bottom and onto your knees.

Throughout the design process, the guiding philosophy was not to skimp on detail. Details, after all, are what a good trench coat is all about.

So it has:

  • Big hip pockets, with wool/cashmere lining in the front
  • That angled despatch chest pocket
  • A great throat latch on the collar (giving protection right up around the chin)
  • In-set sleeves on the front of the coat, to give a cleaner appearance, but raglan sleeves on the back, to aid movement
  • Gun flaps on the shoulders at the front, and a saddle piece across the back
  • Dark-brown horn buttons, fastening that double-breasted front all the way up 
  • All put together in the Private White VC factory in Manchester, England

Sizing and delivery 

The sizing measurements are set out below. Note that in these images I am wearing a medium (4) whereas in previous shots of the olive I wore a small (3).

I think this demonstrates how much most people can wear two sizes with this kind of coat  - given its raglan fit and ability to cinch the waist as much as you want. 

It's really a case of how close you want the coat to be, and what you will wear under it most of the time. I liked the small, but it was tight over a suit. The medium is better, and never looks big (as you can see with the thin Rubato knit here) because of that belt at the waist. 

Measurements in cm XS/2 S/3 M/4 L/5 XL/6 XXL/7
Chest 104 109 116 123 130 137
Shoulder to shoulder 42.5 44 45.5 47 49 50.5
Centre back length 118.5 119 120 121 122 123
Sleeve length 67.5 68 69 70 71 72
Waist circumference 100 105 112 119 126 133

Alterations

I know that I'm above average height, and that therefore the coat might be a little too long for some people. This is easy to alter, as the coat is unlined (and the removable lining considerably shorter than the full coat). 

At least 10cm can be taken off the length of the coat without causing any issues. Private White VC offer a great service for this, or it can be done by a local alterations tailor. 

The sleeves can also be shortened, but only by about 1.5cm. More than this and the end of the sleeve gets too close to the cuff flap and will look odd. But 1.5cm will make a noticeable difference.

They can also be shortened by more than 5cm if you want to remove the flap, but I doubt many people will need that. 

The sleeves can be lengthened slightly too, by around 1.5cm, though there is a small chance of a mark where the fold was. Adjustments to the body are not really possible unless you are willing to give up the taped seams.

The coat is available in olive now, in size XS to XXL, on the PS Shop here.

There are also three navy coats left from last year in most sizes.

Photography above, Milad Abedi; below, Jamie Ferguson. 

Note: Images below are of the first version of the coat, which has been updated in small ways. Most obviously, the belting system is different at the front, and there are no longer D-rings on the back. 

PS outerwear available to try on in London – at William Crabtree & Sons

PS outerwear available to try on in London – at William Crabtree & Sons

Tuesday, September 20th 2022
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PS is planning to have a pop-up shop in London this autumn, but it won’t be until the beginning of November. 

So, in the interim, our friends at William Crabtree & Sons have kindly offered to host some of the new outerwear - focusing on this because it is the biggest investment for everyone, and because it’s the thing we get most sizing questions about. 

The PS Trench Coat launches tomorrow, for example, in the original olive. So from tomorrow, the shop will have this coat on display - in olive and navy - to try on. 

You won’t be able to buy on site, as the guys don’t have space to carry stock alongside all their other lovely clothes. Orders need to be placed online, for delivery the next day. But it will hopefully avoid ordering the wrong size and having to order two sizes to compare.

Then next week, when the new navy Donegal Coat launches, the guys will have that available too. 

And finally, when the new version of the reversible suede blouson launches soon after, that will also be there. 

The plan is to continue this for a month, with the pop-up shop happening soon after. 

While there is space at the beginning, we will also send some Bridge Coats, as that is a tricky one to size. But that will only be for the first week or so, and no other products will be available at any time. 

Hopefully this will make things a little easier, given the pop-up is some distance away and, by then, some of these coats may be sold out, at least in some sizes. 

The service will run from September 21 to October 21, at William Crabtree & Sons, 15 New Quebec Street, London. The lovely staff will be fully briefed on the products. 

Video: Tony Sylvester, style and subcultures

Video: Tony Sylvester, style and subcultures

Monday, September 19th 2022
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Can subcultures ever exist in this century the way they did in the last? Why are logos better on some clothes than others? Why do French men dress like happy Englishmen? 

When I introduced this talk with Tony Sylvester I promised a wide ranging menswear discussion, and the audience wasn’t disappointed. 

Luckily we were able to film the whole thing, so it’s here for all those that want answers to those questions - or just want to hear why Tony can’t look at images of himself from more than about three years ago. 

The evening at Mortimer House was incredibly enjoyable - thank you to all the readers that came along, and to Mortimer for hosting us. I’m sure there will be more talks like this one, so keep your eyes peeled. 

 

 

The products on display are from Tony’s still fairly young brand, AWMSYou can read his articles on Permanent Style over the past here, including ones on the relevance of 80s Armani today, and how artists dress, here

Mortimer House is the members club I’ve used as my office and refuge for the past five years. More details on that here

In the film I am wearing my bespoke jacket from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury in PS Plaid cashmere, which has just had a small restock - it's on the Joshua Ellis website now, although won't be shipping until the end of September.

I like this combination even better than the one it was first shown with - with black cords and loafers, rather than grey flannels. It becomes something with more of an evening feel, even with a denim shirt.

Film by Itch Media.

A-W-M-S.com

Tommy & Giulio Caraceni: Modernising the Roman tailor

Tommy & Giulio Caraceni: Modernising the Roman tailor

Friday, September 16th 2022
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Tommy e Giulio Caraceni is one of the great tailors in Italy, but it’s fair to say they’re in a process of transition. 

The shop is run by Andrea Caraceni, grandson of Tommy. His father retired last year, and now when in the shop you’re greeted by contrasting generations: the young Andrea and a few younger tailors, and the older generation represented by master cutter Carlo Tonini (top image), who stands at the central cutting board instructing those around him. 

Caraceni also moved recently - only a little way geographically, but perhaps further philosophically. 

They’re now on the ground floor - which is unusual for tailors on the continent - and at the corner of a block. The windows are large, the door open; Caraceni of Rome now feels like somewhere you might just wander into. 

This was a conscious decision from Andrea, who also arranged the store in this spirit of openness. The tailors upstairs are in one large space, rather than the little interconnecting rooms you usually find. And where most tailors have the cutting tables hidden away, here they're on the ground floor, making it impossible to be unaware of the craft going on. 

“This is the key problem with bespoke today,” says Andrea (below). “If people understood the work involved, they would also understand the value of it, why it is expensive and why it takes so long.”

Some brief background is probably useful here.

There are three significant bespoke tailors today with the name Caraceni. The founder was Domenico Caraceni, who set up in Rome in 1926. As he became successful and expanded, his brother Augusto set up a branch in Paris, and the youngest brother Galliano set up in Naples. 

Both closed after the Second World War, and the family subsequently split apart after the death of Domenico. Augusto started his own business in Milan, becoming the biggest and best-known Caraceni today: A Caraceni, covered previously here

And Galliano started his own business in Rome, with his sons Tommaso (Tommy) and Giuiio. This is the smaller operation we’re covering today. 

Finally there is my tailor, Ferdinando Caraceni. This is the smallest of the lot, and was set up by Domenico’s head cutter. It is run today by Ferdinando’s daughter, Nicoletta, in Milan. 

I was wearing a jacket made by Ferdinando Caraceni when I visited Andrea in Rome, and he was interested to see it. 

Apparently he knows Carlo and Massimiliano Andreacchio, who run A Caraceni today (the husband and son of Augusto’s granddaughter, Rita) but doesn’t know Nicoletta or her work. 

Andrea’s conclusion was that my jacket was similar in some ways to what T&G Caraceni offer, which is a little more traditional than A Caraceni.

“I think over the years they have adapted a little more to fashions, perhaps in length of jacket or width of lapel,” he says. “Whereas we have stayed more with that original cut from the 1930s and 1940s.

(That's me trying on a T&G Caraceni jacket below.)

The differences are pretty small, particularly given any client can specify a particular length or lapel width. All the Caraceni clan seemed to do a similar conservative cut, with a strong padded shoulder line but lightweight body. 

In fact, the biggest difference to me between what Andrea and his colleagues were wearing and my jacket, seemed to be that the shoulders had a little less padding, the line a little more natural. 

And there was minimal roping on the sleevehead - as you can see in the image of Andrea, Carlo and myself below. 

Despite Andrea's modernisations, to be at Caraceni in Rome is to be surrounded by history. 

Their most famous client - at least among menswear enthusiasts - looks down from a couple of photos on the wall: Gianni Agnelli. The fitting rooms, meanwhile, are bedecked with such photos, from Hollywood names to local celebrities like Mario D’Urso and Valentino. 

"My father always had these in the fitting rooms - I guess showing you were in good company," says Andrea. "But I moved some of them out into the front of the shop, so other visitors see the heritage."

The tradition of candid photos in the fitting rooms started with Domenico Caraceni, and you see it on the walls at A Caraceni as well. Seeing them again here, it reminded me how you can date the ones from the 1970s and 1980s because the prints from that period all have time and date stamps on them. 

Another aspect of this history is the archive of cloth Tommy and Giulio built up. “When we moved, this was the hardest thing,” says Andrea. “There was so much of it, all in varying degrees of both condition and of taste!” 

The team sorted through it all, got rid of what wasn’t usable and brought the best examples into the front of the shop. 

As is often the case with vintage cloth, the lengths on display are significant for their robustness. The flannels are tightly woven, heavy but not necessarily thick - just dense, which gives them a wonderful hand. 

The jacketings, by contrast, are more open and spongey, but still hairy. The thing they all have in common is the feeling that they’re built to last. 

(Unfortunately the cloths are only available to Caraceni customers. Which is understandable really - it’s something they’ve built up and is a nice selling point.)

Like the other branches of Caraceni, Andrea doesn’t do trunk shows. They all emphasise the importance of both them and the cutter seeing a customer in person. 

The most Andrea will do is travel to see one particularly good customer: he will be in London soon, for example, to see a longtime customer who has ordered 20 pieces of tailoring. (“I really hope they don’t need any changes!”)

However, any readers in Rome or that visit the city have a tailor worth visiting that is both storied and forward-looking.

“This evening I will go to see my friend Valentino at his show on the Spanish Steps,” says Andrea. “I think every tailor should be aware of these things - it is my generation’s job to take tailoring forward, to make everyone understand its craft and its style.”

Bespoke suits start at €4500 including VAT. TommyeGiulioCaraceni.com

Photography: Milad Abedi

The three wardrobes that define my week 

The three wardrobes that define my week 

Wednesday, September 14th 2022
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Broadly speaking, I dress in one of three ways during the week. They are defined quite clearly (to simplify the process, as much as anything else) and represent three general levels of smartness.

I know readers will be interested in having these set out, as capsule wardrobes are always popular. 

But I’m also aware that all three could represent office wardrobes for some people - whether it’s a case of being smart but not wearing a suit, or of adding subtle touches in an environment where everyone wears T-shirts and trainers. 

So this could easily be another ‘Which office are you’ article, and just as helpful. I can expand any of the three into fuller lists of clothing (and sellers) if helpful. 

1. Jacketed

During the working week, if I go into town I nearly always wear tailoring. 

This is both because it is appropriate - it is what is expected of me, and the impression I want to give - and because I enjoy it. I love my tailoring but the most I’m going to wear it is three days a week; I don’t want to miss the opportunity. 

The tailoring is more casual than when I used to work in an office, in the City. It is mostly a jacket and trousers - rather than a suit - and rarely a tie or pocket square. But it is still smarter than 99% of people around me. 

I also wear more brown, white and black than when I was in an office, with those three plus shades of grey usually making up my jacket, shirt and trousers. The outfit above with my Pirozzi dupioni is a good example. 

However, if you work in an office this could just as easily include business colours, most obviously as navy. As set out in the five jackets article, a navy, oatmeal and grey jacket would go a long way. Combined with some of the five smart trousers and your regular shirts.

Top: Shirt, or at the most a collared knit

Bottom: Flannels, cords, high twist wools

Outer: Sports jacket

Shoe: Leather or suede, tending towards smarter styles

2. Casual chic

This is a step down in smartness. Usually worn during the working week when I’m not in town (central London). 

I mentioned during discussions about dressing during lockdown that wearing a shirt makes me feel like I’m at work, and should be working. It’s a motivational thing: I just never work the same in shorts and a sweatshirt. 

This second category is in that mould. It is smart, but it’s not tailoring. The top is collared, but the trousers are not jeans. It is the area of menswear that I’ve referred to as ‘casual chic’ and I think has the most potential for the modern man - but in many ways is the hardest to do.

Why? Because it depends so much on subtleties. It’s less about wearing a jacket or not and more about wearing smart chinos rather than workwear ones, or wearing a knitted polo shirt rather than regular piqué. 

The item I reach for most often here is my Rubato chinos. A pair of those, plus a shirt or smartish sweater (like the Cashmere Rugby) and a pair of suede or cordovan loafers, and I’m done. 

The smartest I’d go with trousers is flannels, but it’s usually chinos or cords; the most casual I’d go is ecru jeans. Outerwear could be a suede blouson or a long raglan. 

This category can also step up or down sometimes. It is, for example, what I might wear into town if I didn’t have any appointments. And it’s what I would wear to something smarter at the weekend, like a friend’s birthday party. 

Top: Casual shirt (oxford, chambray, denim) or smart polo

Bottom: Smart chino or cord, occasionally flannel or white jean

Outer: Cashmere knit, blouson, raglan coat

Shoe: Loafer or boot, suede or cordovan

3. Workwear and sportswear

This defines my weekend. There might be the occasional exception or simple laziness, but this is how I usually think when I get up on a Saturday morning.

Trousers: workwear chinos or jeans. Top: T-shirt or oxford shirt, maybe a chambray. Shoes default to tennis shoes, a canvas trainer, though with the occasional loafer too, as we’ll discuss in a moment. 

This is where my Real McCoy’s sweatshirts live, my beloved old Armoury chinos, my vintage outerwear and leather jackets. 

It’s obviously casual, but it’s also heavily influenced by the Ivy take on sportswear - by old, more considered sportswear. And by smarter takes on workwear too. 

In practice this means I’m often working slightly smarter elements into the outfit. For example if it’s a sweatshirt and chinos, I might wear cordovan loafers instead of tennis shoes. Just to keep things interesting - to avoid everything sinking to the lowest common denominator. 

Another example: an oxford under the sweatshirt rather than a T-shirt. Or with a T-shirt and jeans, perhaps a luxurious-looking suede bomber rather than a vintage varsity jacket. Both are beautiful, but in very different ways. 

This third category is something I’d suggest to a reader whose office is a sea of big T-shirts and Air Jordans. Try just tweaking one thing: old trainers, but with a blue oxford shirt; a T-shirt, but with Alden penny loafers; or a shetland rather than a sweatshirt.  

One step of elevation, but no more. Otherwise it looks like you’re looking down on everyone.

Top: T-shirt, oxford, denim

Bottom: Jeans, fatigues, workwear chinos

Outer: Sweatshirt, shetland, vintage military

Shoe: Canvas trainer, suede or cordovan loafer/boot

With all three capsules, there will of course be exceptions. I still wear a suit; I still wear a tie. Sometimes I wear jeans with jacket, or workwear into town. But they are specific exceptions with specific reasons - these three are the starting point, default.  

Here are some more images by way of illustration. But please, please read the text as well - otherwise like the piece on My Ivy, half the comments will be misunderstandings. These are merely intended to illustrate what is set out above.

Jacketed:

Casual chic:

Sportswear and workwear:

We’re coming to New York!

We’re coming to New York!

Monday, September 12th 2022
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So this is exciting. For the first time, Permanent Style Presents is coming to New York.

A mini version of the London pop-up shop, it will be led by Rubato and PS, with very special guest Fred Nieddu, aka Taillour.

We will be at 54 Mercer Street on the 4th floor (same building as Stoffa, two floors up).

Oliver and Carl will be bringing both Rubato stock to try and buy, and some new samples. I will be bringing a size run of every PS product I can, for customers to then order online (this worked well in London last time).

Fred will be seeing his bespoke customers, but as with having any bespoke artisan at one of the pop-ups, the nice thing is that anyone can go and see his work - examine it, try it, get a sense - without the pressure that comes from making an actual appointment.

We will be there for four days, from Wednesday October 19th to Saturday October 22nd.

There will also be welcome drinks, downstairs in the Stoffa showroom. But details of that and other little things like opening hours will be confirmed soon.

Those updates will be added here, on this post, as well as on social media. So if you feel you haven't seen anything, check back closer to the time and there should be a little note at the top.

As with the London pop-up shop, there is no requirement to make an appointment, please just swing by and say hello. Even if you have no particular product in mind, the five of us would simply like to see you. It is our first time after all.

Any questions about things I do know, but have forgotten to say, please do ask in the comments below. As per usual.

That's Carl at the top, by the way, then Fred, and Oliver at the bottom. But then you knew that.

New colours in the Arran scarf and PS watch caps

New colours in the Arran scarf and PS watch caps

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The popular PS Watch Caps and exclusive Arran scarves from Begg & Co - introduced last year - have just been restocked on the PS Shop, with two additional colours.

It was a real struggle last year to get things in on time, with delays not just with the mills but the spinners and raw materials. Everything stacked up, amounting to weeks of delay. 

So this year we’ve tried to get ahead of ourselves, and some of these Autumn/Winter PS staples are arriving now, rather than say November. We’ve also ordered more, so hopefully they’ll be available through into the new year. 

First to arrive was the Bridge Coats a couple of weeks ago, now the scarves and hats, and the Wax Walkers will be arriving soon too. 

I’m really proud of how popular the watch caps have become, and now see them regularly around in London.

The simple pitch of a smaller size that sits neatly on the head, and therefore looks more put together, seems to appeal to guys that need to wear something, but aren’t going to wear a fedora or a baseball cap. It’s nice that it rolls up in a pocket easily too. 

This year we’ve added black to the mix, which probably won’t surprise readers given how much of that (non-)colour I’ve been showing recently. 

I see the black as a direct swap for navy - one which will be smart and dark, but actually suit some colours more, such as the colder and more muted ones we’ve spoken about in the past (dark olives, cold browns, greys, taupes). 

You can see that particularly in the images above and below, where the black watch cap is worn with the very dark-brown Wax Walker. It’s better there than navy would be, and that’d be the same with the brown Donegal Coat too. 

The scarves were an interesting one. I wasn’t sure how well they’d do, given they were just colours in the classic Begg & Co ‘Arran’ quality that the company didn’t offer, or had discontinued. 

But we ended up scrambling a second order in January as the first batch all sold out in a couple of weeks. 

I assume that was partly because I’ve talked about and worn the Arran so much over the years, and readers identified with the lack of a darker navy or olive green in the rest of the Begg collection - which, to be fair, has to straddle a range of customers from everyday to high fashion, male and female. 

Inspired by that success, this year I spent a while going through all the other yarns that weren’t being offered in Begg’s collection. 

There were a few I liked, and perhaps some of them will make an appearance in the future. But my favourite was the ‘clay’ grey you see above. 

One issue I have with wearing dark, muted colours, is that everything can become a little washed out - too black-and-white. It’s one reason a cream shirt might look better with black tailoring, for example - as here with black cords

In shoes, Alden’s Color 8 cordovan does the same job. It can be worn in pretty much every situation where you’d otherwise wear black shoes. But dark as Color 8 is, it’s not black. There is some pigmentation in there, some richness. 

This clay colour does the same with grey. It still works in any situation where you’d normally wear a grey scarf, but it also adds warmth to those very tonal combinations. You can see this particularly with white shirts (as pictured).

One more way to put it - it’s like the grey high-twist suitings I like from Drapers. There’s some brown in that grey. 

The scarves are available on the PS Shop now in clay, dark navy and olive (last two pictured above). 

The watch caps - also made in Scotland, by Johnston’s of Elgin - are now available in five colours. Historical shots of those also below.

We have had to put up prices very slightly this year, to reflect our increasing costs. But as always, this is the only reason we put them up and we are always up front about it. 

Any questions on that or the merits of a particular colour, just drop me a line in the comments below. For the rest of what’s coming up, when, see last week’s Autumn/Winter summary.

Pressing: An unsung art of bespoke tailoring (video)

Pressing: An unsung art of bespoke tailoring (video)

Wednesday, September 7th 2022
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The first time I saw a tailor use an iron to shape cloth, I was genuinely surprised. 

You wouldn’t think material would be able to be manipulated that much, using steam and pressure to turn a straight piece of canvas into the shape of a collar (above). But it’s routine for bespoke tailoring, and is used in many other parts a suit, as Nicholas De'Ath of Dege & Skinner shows us in today's video.

It’s Nicholas's third example that most readers will probably be familiar with: shaping the leg of a trouser so that it becomes a slight ‘S’ shape, with bulges at the thighs and calves (below).  

Now I haven’t had this on all my trousers, and it hasn’t seemed to make a big difference when I have. But my body shape doesn’t necessarily need help in that area - and the important thing is that if a tailor feels it’s needed, pressing gives them the ability to do so. 

The reason I was keen to do this video is that pressing, as a part of the craft of bespoke, doesn’t get talked about that much. It’s a lot easier to show basted jackets covered in white stitches, or someone hand-padding a jacket on their knee.

Pressing is noisy, hard to see, and the results are often hidden - either because the result is just a smooth finish (as on the shoulder seam) or because it’s actually on the inside, as with shaping the inlay. 

So I asked Nicholas, who has cut me both a lovely linen suit and a summer jacket (worn here), to talk us through three major examples. We then run through a handful of others on a mannequin. 

Many thanks to him, to the tailors who demonstrate the work for us, and to everyone else at Dege & Skinner for their help. 

 

 

And thank you as always to the Campaign for Wool, who have supported all these videos. There is a dedicated channel for video on PS (see menu above) and other recent videos in this vein are:

www.campaignforwool.org

dege-skinner.co.uk

 

Black tops and tonal combinations under

Black tops and tonal combinations under

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In many ways, today's outfit is a natural extension of things we’ve been talking about recently. 

There was, back on August 12, our discussion about wearing all black, which has some bearing here. The outfit is not all black, of course, but it is almost monochrome and features black more prominently than as a shoe or accessory, as we had discussed more often in the past. 

I think it’s worth restating than I have not, and am not, advocating black as a replacement for more classic-menswear colours like grey or navy. Those will always be easier to wear, more subtle, and flatter more men most of the time. 

The aim is to help drag black out of obscurity, and show how it can be an enjoyable alternative to those standards. 

You may want that alternative out of a desire to appear less corporate, to be more individual, or to just to evoke some of black’s connotations around fashion and music. Whatever the motivation, these are ways I like to do it. 

See also black polos here, black jackets here, black leather jackets here, and black shoes to wear with brown trousers here

The other reason this outfit is a natural extension of previous discussions is its tonality. 

The T-shirt (knitted cotton from Thom Sweeney) is white and the trousers (linen from Ambrosi) are off-white. You could call the latter a pale beige, perhaps even biscuity. I wouldn’t call it stone because there’s no grey. 

But it does its job, which is to keep the whole tonal while not being the same as the T-shirt. White and white would be bolder, perhaps in some ways less sophisticated; beige and white has a little something more to it. Something that draws you in rather than pushing you away. 

Of course, such outfits are slightly impractical, in that they look very pale if you take the outer layer off. But that’s more a problem when people do that look with an overcoat - similarly toned knitwear and trousers under a bold coat, for example. 

Here, the linen overshirt feels so much like a shirt, rather than outerwear, that it’s unlikely I would ever take it off. Certainly, on the two days when I did wear it in Italy recently I didn’t feel any need to do so, despite the heat. 

With the sleeves rolled back, and the front open whenever needed, it was always cool enough. And it had the practicality of five different pockets available to hold phone, wallet, keys and so on. 

Rather nicely, Milad and I received a couple of compliments from shop owners on what we were wearing - and not menswear shops either, regular shopping shops. 

With me in this overshirt, and Milad in a Bryceland’s towelling shirt, we were hardly smart. But it was remarked that it was nice to see people a little more dressed up compared to all the tourists in Rome at the time. 

I don’t think it was a coincidence that both times this happened in nice shops - a perfumery, a jewellery store - that clearly gave thought to their own appearance. The place, the packaging and the staff were all very tastefully done. It’s often in shops like this that flip-flops can look a little out of place.

Now, I’m always aware here that there is a risk of being judgmental, and I really strive to avoid that, no matter what my opinions. 

But I do think there’s a place for making these points in a way that isn’t personal or censorious. Complimenting someone else on being well dressed, as those staff did to us, is for example a positive rather than a negative way of doing it. 

And the most positive is to simply dress well - elegantly but relevantly - and inspire others by doing so. 

I saw a young guy walking down the street last week in a loose cotton suit, and the same evening, a female presenter at a talk in a tan suit and western boots. Both inspired me to wear a suit the next day, rather than jacket and jeans. It affects to us all. 

This linen overshirt is a prototype for a new colour of the PS Overshirt, for next Spring. As ever your thoughts on it are welcome. The shoes are black-suede classic Sagans from Baudoin & Lange. 

I wrote a separate post, this past Monday, on the main outfit I wore to Rome, which was smarter and led by my Caraceni double-breasted jacket. Today’s outfit was the alternative - worn for part of the travelling, for the less important of the three days, and for something to change into the evening if that felt like a relaxing thing to do. 

On a short trip like this I often bring just two outfits - one being worn, the other in the suitcase - that will cover most eventualities and be alternated. Then things to swap when the outfits are worn a second time (another white tee, another linen shirt) and perhaps something in case the weather turns (a sweater, an undershirt, a hat). But that’s all: it’s an easy formula. 

Photography: Milad Abedi

I should also have said that this outfit could fit into the category of Casual Chic - which I have personally and somewhat arbitrarily defined as dressing elegantly without a tailored jacket. More on that here and vintage inspiration for it here

Bespoke Anto shirt from La La Land – tucked and untucked

Bespoke Anto shirt from La La Land – tucked and untucked

Friday, September 2nd 2022
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In the continuing vein of exploring sports shirts - casual, vintage-styled, often rayon or silk - I chatted a couple of months ago to my friend Jack Sepetjian, who runs Anto shirts in LA

I first got to know Jack when he spoke at our Shirtmakers Symposium during Pitti, in 2018. Jack makes for many celebrities in Los Angeles, but also does a lot of film work. A large portion of his shirts are made for costume directors on films like Casino, Ocean’s Eleven or La La Land. 

It was the latter that sparked my interest recently. I was rewatching the film and noted Ryan Gosling’s sports shirt in it - cream, what looked like silk, worn tucked and untucked, with trousers and with a suit. It looked like an interesting take. 

I thought Anto might have made the shirts for that film, and it turned out they had. I then asked Jack to make me one in the same model. I took my own measurements and the result turned out well - perhaps helped by the fact that Jack and I had met in person previously. 

The shirt is interesting to cover as a product, as a review. But it’s also a good excuse to talk again about tucking and untucking, with a jacket and without, given that’s how the shirt was styled.

I’ve deliberately worn the shirt here in all those different permutations, to enable some discussion. 

The shirt itself is made in an unusual ribbed silk, with an almost crepe-like texture. But it is also densely woven, which means it holds its shape well - retaining a clean, smarter look when untucked. 

The latter, I’m increasingly realising, is a key reason silk or rayon are good for this style of shirt. They will always drape better than linen or cotton, and even if they have to have a silkier look as a result, it doesn’t have to be the satin finish people most commonly associate with silk: it can be more matte, and more textured, as here or with the rayon covered previously

The way of wearing the shirt above is how I would imagine most PS readers will prefer it: tucked in, with a jacket over the top. 

It’s certainly the easiest way to wear it, as the unusual aspects of the shirt are partly hidden. And it means the shirt adds a nice, subtle edge to the outfit, rather than being the focus: you might expect a white or ecru linen, but what you get is a slightly floppy-collar silk. It’s elegant and unexpected. 

I have struggled with the size of that collar, which was bigger than I anticipated (9cm). However, its shape is nice under a jacket like this, curling around the lapel before tucking neatly underneath it. 

And, when the jacket is removed, the light fusing takes on a little of that tucked-under shape, giving the collar a little roll and pointing it downwards. Both make the length of the collar less obvious.

Still, if I were ever to have another shirt like this made by Anto, I would take a centimetre off the length. I’d be more at ease wearing it on its own. 

Which is what I’ve shown in the second outfit iteration, above. 

You can see the size of the collar in this iteration - but with that roll, in an outfit that is clearly a little more dressy and perhaps even evening-y, I think it works. 

I always, always fold back my shirt sleeves when I’m not wearing a jacket; I feel physically weird if I don’t, and I do it in exactly the way I watched my Dad do it years ago. 

But there is also a case to be made that it’s flattering. Certainly, it helps this shirt look a little more relaxed. 

Now untucked. 

Let’s get the menswear rules out of the way first. Yes, it shortens the legs; less obviously, it narrows the shoulders (relatively); it also looks less neat, more messy, and you could say less elegant. 

But as with all the rules (which we’ve covered extensively here) the point is to respect these traditions, understand the benefits that mean they’ve been passed down, and then decide whether you are about other things more. 

In this case, you might prioritise the fact that an untucked shirt looks more relaxed; you might not place much importance on how physically flattering a shirt is; or you might just prefer the style - and that’s always the most important.

Another option, in order to look more relaxed still, is to wear a white vest or T-shirt underneath the shirt. In this case I’ve gone with a white T-shirt, because that’s what Gosling wears in the film. 

I think this is actually my preferred option with the shirt untucked. Perhaps because the collar is de-emphasised, and perhaps because I can still unbutton the shirt as far as I want, but don’t add chest hair to everything else already going on around the neck.

This feels like it might be a nice option for evening drinks somewhere, with friends who are unlikely to be wearing tailored trousers, let alone a jacket.

Last of all, the shirt untucked with a jacket. 

I can see how some people are drawn to options like this, as part of a desire to casualise the suit. But personally I don’t think it succeeds, and looks a little sloppy. 

Untucking under a jacket is an easy thing to do, but more subtle things are actually more effective, such as changing the colour, material or collar of the shirt. 

If you want to wear a shirt untucked, I’d wear something more casual over the top, such as an overshirt or knit. But as ever, let me know what you all think below.

We will cover Anto, the company, its history and clientele, in a separate article. 

Anto shirts start at $375, but any fine materials or even checks are more expensive, from $425. A silk shirt like mine is $525. 

They regularly do remote orders, as mine was, with clients taking their own measurements and fittings over video if required. Delivery time is usually eight weeks. 

antoshirt.com

Other clothes shown: jacket from Brioni, linen trousers from Edward Sexton, Sagan Grand loafer from Baudoin & Lange

Coming up on the PS Shop this Autumn/Winter

Coming up on the PS Shop this Autumn/Winter

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At the beginning of each season recently (spring/summer, autumn/winter) we've been sending out summaries of upcoming products to PS Shop customers. These go to anyone on a waiting list for a product, and anyone that has signed up to marketing emails when buying something.

They have proved very popular, with people asking in advance when the summary is coming, so they can plan their purchases.

The problem is, Lucas on the support team then receives scores of (very polite) questions asking for follow-up information. I am also aware of a few readers that weren’t aware that this email existed, and were interested. 

So. From now on this summary will also be here on PS. It means everyone can see it, and it means any questions can be asked and answered in the comments. 

Please keep in mind that the release dates are a little vague, and can change. Particularly given how backed-up every factory is at the moment, following the demand wave after Covid. 

Also, if I or Lucas are a little vague with details on any product, it’s not because we’re trying to create our own little hype-machine. 

It’s just that some things are decided late, or we’re not quite sure how they’re going to turn out until we see a final product. And we don’t want to say anything that’s inaccurate, or leave anyone disappointed. 

Finally, perennial products like the PS Oxfords and Friday Polos are not included because they are being restocked regularly. They will certainly be available again sometime in this period. 

Please do leave any questions at all in the comments below. 

AUGUST

Bridge Coat - This has just been recently restocked on the shop (above)

Linen Harrington - Just recently restocked too

PS Harris Tweed  - Restocked last week

New PS Shetland Tweed - Launched last week (top image)

  • This is the oatmeal-coloured shetland tweed I made a jacket with previously with B&Tailor, but Holland & Sherry discontinued. I have brought it back as it was one of my favourites - so versatile

SEPTEMBER

Wax Walker - Restock

PS Trench Coat - Coming in olive green (above) once again. And restock in navy

Donegal Coat

  • New navy colour
  • Pre-ordered coats to be delivered
  • Restock of some brown and grey herringbone coats (using cloth left over from pre-orders)

Watch Caps - Restock, with new black 

PS Scarves - Restock, with a new warm grey 

OCTOBER

Reversible suede jacket - New version launching

  • I've worked with Private White to produce a new, improved version of the reversible suede jacket, taking some elements from the popular linen Harrington

Cashmere Rugby - Restock, and new navy colour (above)

Tapered T-Shirt - Restock of existing colours, and possible new colour, to be confirmed

Dartmoor - Restock and new colour to be confirmed 

NOVEMBER

Indulgent Shawl Cardigan - (Above) restock and new black

PS Oxfords - New stripes 

Shearling jacket - New version with Cromford Leather

  • A cool new development, building on the existing shearling jacket, but a slightly more casual and affordable design. RTW and MTM through Cromford as before

Tailoring for travelling: tough, comfortable, plain

Tailoring for travelling: tough, comfortable, plain

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In our recent articles on menswear destinations in Rome, a couple of readers asked about the outfit I was wearing for beating around the hot city. 

The individual pieces should be pretty familiar: 

The reason they were chosen, however, is to do with travel and work - working travel. 

All of the clothes had to be able to put up with a good amount of abuse. They were sat in while flying, they were worn two days out of four, and they received neither a press, a steam or even a brush along the way. 

The cotton jacket is particularly good in this regard. A vintage cloth that Nicoletta at Ferdinando Caraceni picked out from their archive, it is a little coarse, densely woven and tough. 

It doesn’t rumple in the way a lighter weight cotton would do, nor wrinkle like linen. It’s strong enough that you can wear it every day, and use the pockets perhaps a hundred times a day, to retrieve pen, wallet, phone, again and again. 

Dense cotton is not as cool as lightweight linen or wool/silk/linen, but neither would be this tough. I choose it for a working trip like this because it’s reliable, and I never have to think about it. 

The jacket’s other advantage is that it’s clearly smart, but not business-y. And while it clearly has some style, it’s fairly plain - the kind of thing people are unlikely to notice at the expense of you or your questions. 

Plain clothes are also easier to add items to - a tie, a handkerchief, a knit - when circumstances dictate.

High-twist trousers are a bit of a no-brainer. They’re the best material for retaining shape, and for dealing with a similar kind of abuse to the jacket. 

Ideally though, these would be the Drapers four-ply rather than two. The slightly heavier weight wouldn’t matter in terms of coolness, and I’m a little scared of wearing this pair through eventually, even though they’re hard-wearing. I just wear them that much. 

Perhaps I should have a pair made in the four ply. These ones were made the lovely Nicola Cornacchia and family, and they are nicely fitted. But the make could be a bit better and I’d prefer a slightly higher rise too. 

One to think about in February or March next year perhaps, for spring and summer. 

The shoes aren’t especially tough, really. Suede is a little delicate (except when it comes to rain) and these don’t have rubber soles or even a double leather sole. 

But the most important thing in a travel shoe is probably comfort. There’s nothing worse than being in pain when you’re trying to walk around city, inevitably a little late for the appointment, inevitably a little lost. 

And unless trainers are an option, your feet are always going to get tired. It’s pain, blisters and so on, that are the killer - especially when it’s hot and your feet swell.

It’s actually surprising these Belgravias are so much more comfortable than the lined version. 

After all, there’s still a lining around the heel, under the toe, and around the topline. The latter is required on the Belgravia (unlike, for example, the Piccadilly) because of its braided leather looping in and out of the shoe. This needs to be covered up. 

So the only part of the shoe that’s actually unlined is the lower half of the two sides, from the arch to the joints. This clearly makes a difference, but there are other little differences, such as a lighter sole, which perhaps make as much difference as the fact they’re ‘unlined’.

I should also say a quick word about the socks, as I seem to wear only two colours of long sock these days, ever. 

They are the dark-taupe cotton model from Anderson & Sheppard (pictured) and the normal taupe.

They’re very well-made socks of course. Fine mercerised cotton, hand linked, stay up well: luxury pieces suited to bespoke tailoring. You can get the same from Bresciani, Mazarin or Pantherella. 

The thing that separates these is the colours. The fact they’re both described as taupe could seem limiting, but actually the dark taupe goes well with pretty much every dark trouser: charcoal, grey, navy, dark brown. And the taupe goes with almost every light one: beige, khaki, olive, white, cream. 

They’re harmonious, but they also don’t match, so they also provide some (subtle) interest. 

On the subject of white or cream trousers, I used to wear them with a very similar sock, but in retrospect that was too stark. Something like taupe or beige is better, even if it theoretically lengthens the leg less.

So, versatility of taupe socks. A small thing, but I guess worth highlighting if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t need more than a couple of pairs of really fine socks. 

I feel like there must be more of those today. People that still love tailoring, but realistically only wear it a couple of days a week. 

In terms of travel, the advantage of those versatile taupes is that they can easily cover more than one pair of trousers. Just in case you change what you’re going to wear one day, or get a hole in one (in a bad way).

Photography: Milad Abedi

P.S. Yes, all but one of the cuff buttons are undone in the third image. But no, I still don't generally advocate wearing jackets like this. I had merely undone them to show someone the work on the inside of the (unlined) sleeves

Chez Dede: Andrea Ferolla and Daria Reina

Chez Dede: Andrea Ferolla and Daria Reina

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Chez Dede is a lovely little multibrand shop in Rome. It sells clothing and accessories, books and furniture, including some familiar brands such as P. Le Moult and Camoshita.

However, for me the most lovely thing about the store when we visited was the two founders, Andrea Ferolla and Daria Reina. 

That’s Daria above, posing for a portrait outside the store. It was excruciatingly hot that day but she was cool and chic in a perfect shirt dress, slim black sandals and black leather jewellery. 

Daria was born in Rome, but grew up in Belgium. “I think I appreciate Rome in a way the Romans sometimes don’t,” she told us. “I see the charm of the city, for example how walkable everything is despite its size - or the beauty all around us. Romans sometimes take all that for granted.”

Andea, her husband, is a well-known illustrator. He’s illustrated for Kate Spade, as well as featuring in galleries in London.

Andrea has a study in the back of the store that is an absolute treasure trove, packed with books and art, paintbrushes and works in progress. 

There is also, rather charmingly, an old photograph of Daria propped up against his iMac. 

Rather like seeing a designer’s moodboard, sitting in Andrea’s study makes you understand the aesthetics of the rest of the shop. 

For example, his watercolours are used as the designs for the silk scarves and handkerchiefs. These are digitally printed but nicely hand-sewn, and I particularly liked one caricaturing the waiters at Pier-Luigi, the restaurant at the end of their road. 

Others show fashion sketches and pictures inspired by the history of artists, such as the funeral of Matisse. Originals are offered for sale on the Dede website

Andrea’s study also serves to reveal some of the couple’s influences, such as old lifestyle advertising and photography. 

This drives the design of the products, with bags decorated with slogans or names of hotels for example. This is perhaps less my style, but it’s all part of that aesthetic. 

As part of this Daria and Andrea also do branding and consultancy work for hotels, and they’ve published their own book on the beauty of Italy, Italian Chic, with Assouline. 

The street - Via di Monserrato - is lovely if you’re visiting Rome, towards the north of the pleasant Regola district. But it hasn’t always been that way. 

“This area used to be pretty unknown,” says Daria. “People knew the restaurant Pier Luigi, but that was about it.

“We liked it though, and since we opened [in 2011] Gerardo and Margarita have set up down the road [Giuliva Heritage] and a nice jeweller and little wine bar have opened too.

“In Rome you have to look after little areas like this, otherwise they can get run down quite easily,” she adds. “Romans are easy going - they feel they’ve seen it all before, given their long history, and you saw that with Covid: the city seemed to suffer less than somewhere like Milan. 

“But that also means the city has its problems. Citizens have to do their bit and improve things wherever they can.”

Among the products on offer at Dede, I’d recommend the Camoshita buy, as well as the vintage objects and jewellery. The murano-glass trays are nice too. 

Pop in mostly for the people though - for Andrea and Daria, shop manager Isabelle and others. Ask their advice on the products as well as on Rome as a whole. 

Even the garden out the back of the shop is worth a look. That’s it pictured below, along with a rather stylish resident in the building behind, and her son who runs it. 

www.chezdede.com

Via di Monserrato, 35, Rome

Photography: Milad Abedi

My watches – eight years later

My watches – eight years later

Wednesday, August 24th 2022
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I buy watches in much the same way as I suggest other people buy tailoring. 

I have a small number, of high quality, which meet a range of needs - formalities, colours, and a little extra to keep things interesting. 

I went through a period of about five years of acquiring those watches, during which I felt a horological fever that I think tailoring fans would identify with - and spent at the absolute limits of affordability. 

But since then I’ve bought very little, satisfying myself with changing straps now and again, adding a functional holiday watch, and today, eight years later, considering swapping one dress watch for one sports watch, to reflect my changing needs. 

Versatility, quality, functionality. I think readers could put together a collection of bespoke jackets or bespoke shoes following similar principles. And I like to think I would too, if they weren’t my primary passion, and writing about them my job. 

I first wrote about my watches back in 2014, and you can see details and some old photos in that article

But to summarise, they comprise:

  • Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, Ref. 250.140.862 in yellow gold, 1997
  • Cartier Tank Francaise Chronograph, Ref. 1830 (known as the Chronoflex) in yellow gold, also 1997
  • Rolex GMT Master, Ref. 1675, in steel, 1966
  • IWC Portuguese Chronograph, Ref. IW371480 in rose gold, 2010 
  • Casio Ref. F-91WC in vibrant blue, 2022

I’ve found this collection to fit every need I have. The GMT is my weekend watch, while the Reverso and Tank have a black and brown strap respectively, and are selected according to which best goes with an outfit. 

The Portuguese (below) I have always loved the design of, and have never found a larger-faced watch like that I like. But it is the outlier, and it is the obvious one to sell in order to perhaps get another steel sports watch, to reflect the fact I’m more casually dressed more often. 

How I feel about the other watches has varied over time, and I find this is interesting as it reflects the power of information in watches as in clothes. 

The Reverso, for example (below), is obviously a ‘classic’ and I appreciate its Art Deco heritage and design. I’ve also liked the very small size (24mm) during years when large watches have been so dominant. It felt unusual and traditional. 

But there was a period when I went off it, and started swapping the strap on the Cartier instead with different outfits. I think the Tank has always had particular design appeal, particularly in little touches like the delicate buckle. 

But then I read an article, I believe on Hodinkee, about the story of the Reverso, reminding myself of all the little details I had known years ago when I bought it. Suddenly I appreciated it all the more, and it became my favourite in the collection. 

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this - we all love storytelling and none of the information was wrong or hyped. But it did demonstrate for me, I think, how we all have a limited amount of ‘value’ we can attach to things, and if we have too many, that value gets divided up. If I had only one watch I would never have forgotten those details; it makes me not want to acquire more. 

There are parallels again with fine clothes like bespoke suits and shoes. Unless it’s your profession, don’t just acquire more and more: buy well, care well, and if your tastes or needs change over time, find a good home for the thing that is being replaced. 

It’s a coincidence that I have five watches, and I have consistently written articles on PS over the years called things like ‘If you only had five suits’ or ‘If you only had five pairs of shoes’. 

These days I can imagine no one will need more than five great sports jackets, or five great pairs of dress shoes. I’ve always found it hard - even before PS was my full-time job - to stick to this kind of discipline about clothing. But I have managed it with watches. 

The parallel continues with how I would acquire a new watch - or rather swap one in and one out. 

I would ask the advice of friends who know about watches. That read Hodinkee and other watch resources with borderline obsession, much like some PS readers read Permanent Style and other clothing publications. 

I would go to them and outline what I wanted: 

  • A steel sports watch that wasn’t what everyone else had (not a Submariner, not a Speedmaster)
  • Whose main appeal was its design, not its historic importance or its complication (I don’t care that my Cartier is quartz)
  • That perhaps wasn’t new, to save a grand or so
  • But wasn’t so old that it would need constant maintenance to be functional
  • That probably wasn’t on a NATO-stype strap (they never really appealed to me)
  • Under £5k or so

I can imagine a guy going to a PS reader and asking his option in a similar way about what new suit to buy for a wedding, or what shoes were worth the money. I think he would be given good advice - and perhaps a couple of links to articles. 

Later in 2014, I also wrote a very basic guide to buying a good watch. It’s at the kind of amateur level that I wanted at the time. 

But its main point was that a watch is worth investing in. I have a friend who earns very good money, and whom I’ve been trying to convince to buy a goods watch like a Tank for years. It will be on your wrist almost every day, I say; you’ll use it more than anything in your life; it will elevate how you look every single one of those days.

I’ve yet to convince him, but I can see I might have more joy with PS readers. Save up: buy one really good watch. Value it, get it insured. You’ll never need more than a very small number. 

Then perhaps take a similar attitude to suits and shoes too. 

(P.S. The watches featured here are very expensive, and I recognise many people will not be able to afford them. Some things to bear in mind are that they were much cheaper when I bought them; I bought them all pre-owned; I did so over a period of years; and I don't think I'll ever buy any more.

Lastly, I think the core principle applies to a range of budgets. Namely, that this can be something you spend to your limit on, but then treasure for decades, wear every day, and get good value out of that way. It should be the kind of expense that means you insure it, and that you want to pass on to your children. It’s how more people used to view jewellery.)

Chato Lufsen: French vintage and modern recreations

Chato Lufsen: French vintage and modern recreations

Monday, August 22nd 2022
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By Tony Sylvester

From the kilo stores to the more specialised outlets, Paris is a city with an enviable array of vintage menswear options.

This spring, Simon filed reports on two of the best. Le Vif in the 16th, with its highly curated focus on Americana, co-founded by two chaps who cut their teeth at Ralph Lauren. And Brut in the Marais, where French workwear and militaria shares space with reworked and recut pieces offering more contemporary styling.

For me, however, no journey to the City Of Light is complete without a little jaunt a couple blocks over the Seine. In the heart of the Left Bank lies perhaps the most niche and specifically Parisian vintage-menswear destination: Chato Vintage.

This small store on a chic, unassuming backstreet is packed to the rafters with clobber and trinkets from the most cult of all defunct French houses, Arnys.

In the last instalment of these articles of mine from Paris, we caught up with one of the style architects of Arnys, Dominique Lelys, and his vision for continuity and progression at Artumes & Co.

Here on Rue De Verneuil – the Bohemian street where perhaps the most infamous French style icon of all time, Serge Gainsbourg, made his home - owner Christophe Lufsen (below) has created part store, part clubhouse for what he calls “les orphelins d’Arnys”: those distraught at the institution closing in 2012, or those like me who missed out on it during its seventy-year tenure as outfitter to the intellectuals and cultural mavens of Le Rive Gauche.

It was a health scare and an extended hospital stay that jolted Christophe into the world of retail. After years as a civil engineer, he wanted to inject a little passion and purpose into his working life, and try and make a living from his first love, clothing.

Five years later, his cramped shop mixes Arnys items with simpatico pieces from the upper echelons of French craftsmanship: Hermès, Vuitton, Berluti, Seraphin et al, although Arnys accounts for 90% of vintage sales.

Aside from a biannual browse of his inventory, I’m here as part of an ongoing search for a replacement for my trusty old Forestiere jacket.

The scarcity and skyrocketing prices of this Arnys model in the second-hand market means I’ve decided to look for something made by a contemporary brand that can fulfil the same purpose. Fortunately, alongside the ever-changing deadstock and pre-owned pieces, Lufsen offers two jacket models inspired by the Forestiere: The Borestiere, a straight and faithful recreation, and the Bores, a slight redesign/tinker with the familiar formula (below).

As a purist, I had my mind set on the Borestiere. I love the original design and own a couple of winter weights - one in moleskin, one in corduroy - plus one summer weight in unlined cream linen. Top of my mind was another unlined one, perhaps in a darker colour and more of an all-rounder, cloth wise.

I waxed lyrical about the origins and my love for the Forestiere in a piece I wrote last year on artists' clothing. As I stated then they can "slot seamlessly into a wardrobe, taking on a similar role to a chore coat or an unstructured chore coat”.

Since I wrote that piece, these kinds of ‘easy’ jackets have taken an even more prominent role in my post-retail, work-from-home life. I seem to have jettisoned most of the tailored jackets in my wardrobe for these hybrid work/casual garments.

Tebas and vintage tartan 49ers from Pendleton all fulfill this role very well, but the Forestiere has a certain extra resonance, and perhaps a little more romance, with its perceived history as being the uniform for a certain type of French gentleman; a little older, maybe a little fuller of figure, and less interested in the frivolities of fashion. Someone I aspire to, basically.

The inspiration for Lufsen’s updated version, the Bores, came from his experiences shopping at the original Arnys store on Rue de Sèvres as a young man.

Having seen the brand on the pages of Monsieur magazine, he ventured to try a Forestiere for himself. After asking for his size, the salesman brought one out ,but its generous, oversized cut was simply unsuitable for his smaller frame. Despite enquiring after a smaller size, the notoriously surly staff were unwilling to let him try one, insisting that this the way the garment was to be worn.

The experience meant that although Lufsen continued to shop with them, he never did buy a Forestiere. The Bores is therefore his attempt to offer a more conventionally proportioned version, perhaps with a slimmer-bodied customer in mind. (Similar in some ways to the way Colhays have redesigned the cuts of Lockie cardigans and knitwear to achieve the same goal.)

The tweaks are not instantly apparent, and I think have negotiable effect on the overall much-loved character and look of the garment.

There’s a shortening in length; a repositioning of the breast pocket further away from the armpit; a slight raising of the shoulder seam so it doesn’t drop as much. But most significant is a move in the placement of the button under the mandarin collar.

It has been raised from three inches below the collar to directly below. The effect is twofold: when latched, the look is cleaner, smoother and doesn’t tend to hang or bunch, and when open, it helps the heavier collar fold over and drop like a lapel.

Lufsen explains that, in his mind, the Forestiere and by default the Borestiere fits and functions as an overcoat, while he envisions the Bores more like a sports coat.

I’m instantly sold. Trying on the ready-to-wear examples, the differences between the size 56 Bores and the size 56 Forestiere I have brought with me are quickly apparent. Indeed, the Bores fits comfortably underneath the other, making the differences in length equally obvious (above).

It’s also evident I will want a made-to-measure version. I try a toile of a size 60 as a sort of hybrid between Lufsen’s innovations and my original intentions, to maintain that big look I’m going for. I even add 3cm in length to cover my posterior adequately.

For cloth, I opt for a nifty ‘summer cord’ from Solbiati in black. A linen base is ridged with cords of cotton for a more breathable, breezy take on the winter-friendly fabric. As a colour pop, I choose a goldenrod-yellow half lining – in keeping with the renowned colour combos of Arnys. Chato’s elephant-decal metal buttons look just right on top.

Price wise, the ready-to-wear Bores and Borestieres are available in a range of seasonal house cloths for €790 Euros, with a €200 Euro surcharge for made-to-order. Made-to-Measure is available for €300 over base pricing, and turnaround is approximately six weeks from order. I begin counting down the days until the finished garment’s arrival.

chatolufsen.shop

Below: Vintage Arnys raincoat in polyester, with the feel and look of washed, brushed silk

Bocache & Salvucci, Rome: Bespoke shoes and much else 

Bocache & Salvucci, Rome: Bespoke shoes and much else 

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Friday, August 19th 2022
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Bocache & Salvucci was a bit of a surprise when I visited last month. 

I’d come across the shoemaker at Jean-Manuel Moreau, in Paris, and had assumed that in Rome I would find a small (because relatively unknown) bespoke craftsman. 

What I actually found was two shops doing much more: one making a huge variety of handmade shoes, and the other offering bespoke tailoring, accessories, and made-to-measure knitwear and outerwear. 

The second shop opened seven years ago, in response apparently to requests from international shoemaking customers. And that was the other thing - those customers are many and varied. Nearly all visited privately - no trunk shows - but around the world and often keeping Gianluca (the founder) on the road for most of the year. 

As you might guess from some of the styles you can see here, and the preponderance of alligator, the customer skews toward the very wealthy - the natural home of the private visit and multiple order. 

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some beautiful and understated things too. The range of shoes, for instance, is such that there are pointy single-hole derbys but also high-walled loafers, blue-suede summer slip-ons alongside conservative cap-toes. 

Above, for example, is a gorgeous one-piece tassel loafer with handmade braiding, and an equally fine penny loafer in black crocodile. 

But then by contrast, below, are the sugary blue suedes, and a rather pointy wing tip with red lining. 

Interestingly, most of the shoes are made with the same handwork, and are usually Blake stitched rather than welted. 

“We can do Goodyear as well, and many clients opt for that,” says Gian Luca Bocache (below), one of the founders alongside Roberto Salvucci. “But we usually prefer Blake because it is softer, and we can resole everything ourselves in-house, whether it’s a cemented crepe sole or Blake-stitched leather.”

The shoes are also hand clicked (cut), hand lasted and hand painted. Only the closing and the Blake stitching of the soles are done by machine. 

The latter is one reason the prices are quite reasonable for bespoke, with shoes starting at €2200. 

The lasts used are sized, plastic ones, with a different set for each model of shoe. But there is often extensive modification to a customer’s last, with leather added and plastic shaved away. One example is shown above. 

Also below is one section of the last room. Customers’ lasts are grouped into geographical areas, with the US by far the biggest. Americans account for about 70% of bespoke orders.

“We see a lot of international clients in Europe when they’re on holiday,” says Gian Luca. “Usually we’re in Cap d’Antibes four times during the high season there, and then in Courchevel four times during the winter.”

Gian Luca and Roberto started the business almost 25 years ago. In that time the number of other makers in Rome has shrunk, with Marini (maker to Agnelli) the only one left, a few doors down.

“This whole street used to be the shoemakers area,” says Gian Luca, pointing up and down Via Francesco Crispi, which ends at the top of the famous Spanish Steps. “But now Gatto and Rampin have gone it’s not much of a quarter.” 

So it’s good to see Bocache & Salvucci in good health. They opened their second shop (the ‘boutique’ rather than the ‘atelier') seven years ago - as a place where the more casual visitor could see a full range of menswear, rather than just order bespoke shoes. 

The practicality of this was shown when we visited, with one visiting American couple asking whether any of the shoes were for sale. They were told that unfortunately they weren’t, but they could visit the boutique round the corner.

The boutique is something of an atelier too, because there is bespoke tailoring going on in the back (shown above). But the front is more like a regular shop, with a shiny display of everything from knitwear to belts, trainers to leather jackets, both ready-to-wear and made-to-order.

“Most of what we sell is made to order though,” says Gian Luca. “That was something we wanted to carry across from the shoemaking. So we work with makers that can do one-off pieces with a few sizing alterations.”

There is a range of knitwear to try on, but also books and books of cashmeres and silk mixes to pick from, with sleeve length, body length and waist size able to be specified. 

Reassuringly, Bocache & Salvucci consciously follow the model I prefer for MTM knitwear and outerwear, of making alterations to standard models rather than starting from scratch. 

In my fairly long experience, this is much more likely to lead to a product that meets expectations, whether it’s a V-neck knit or a deerskin blouson.

The quality of all the clothing is the absolute finest, as you’d probably expect with their clientele. 

The blouson above, for example, was in deerskin similar to that I’ve had from Loro Piana or Seraphin. And the hand-stitching around seams and edges - although not something I personally like that much - also demonstrates the work involved, similar to a maker like Melina. 

I was tempted by a few of the simpler and more restrained pieces, as readers will probably expect. That blouson, without the stitching, in the dark-brown deerskin. A sand-coloured suede overshirt. Those black alligator loafers. 

All of them are examples of how any luxury menswear can be understated - and often more powerful for it. Wear that blouson with a pair of charcoal flannels and suede loafers, and it will be elegant rather than showy. Particularly as the deerskin starts to wear and age. 

Same goes for the loafers. In an age when many guys don’t wear a jacket, well-cut trousers and beautiful shoes - not in brash styles or colours, but well-made and well-maintained - are effective ways to add sophisticated style. 

If the alligator is too shiny for you, brush it but don’t polish it. Or only polish the toe.

The tailoring, by the way, is soft and light, but cleaner than most Neapolitan bespoke. More similar to luxury ready-made in that way, as you might see at Zegna (though of course, better made).

It starts at €3500 for a suit, which is also the starting price for a made-to-measure blouson.

The only place you can find ready-made shoes is at Jean-Manuel Moreau in Paris - he and Gian Luca are old friends - so if you are there it’s probably worth popping in to see them.

And overall I’d say if you’re in Rome it’s worth stopping into one of the stores. The range of the product is such that there’s likely to be something that appeals to you, even if it’s only the nice stock of Baracuta jackets. (Gian Luca: The only brand name we sell - they are my youth!”.)

Below, in order: A shoe hand-painted in coloured stripes; the tire-based shoes of a customer, a chief of the Maasai, which were replaced with B&S boots; the selection of alligator available for MTO belts; an unstructured alligator loafer. 

Photography: Milad Abedi

bocachesalvucci.com

Atelier: Via Francesco Crispi, 115A; +39 06 8376 6008

Boutique: Via Sistina, 46A; +39 06 8354 1553

Holiday snaps 2022: Illustrating versatile packing

Holiday snaps 2022: Illustrating versatile packing

Wednesday, August 17th 2022
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In recent weeks you may have noticed comments have not been published quite as quickly as normal. That’s because I’ve been on holiday - in the north of Portugal, where my wife’s family is from. 

It’s a beautiful part of the world, quiet and lush, and we usually rent a house in the countryside for a couple of weeks. There are occasional visits to Porto or Braga, or shorter trips at the beginning and end of the holiday, but otherwise it’s family days of swimming pool, river beach, reading and games.

Most years, I write a ‘holiday snaps’ post on PS with some very off-hand pics of what I wore or took away. You can see those by searching for that term. 

This year, it was particularly relevant because readers had asked for illustrations of the holiday capsule wardrobe I wrote about at the end of July. 

I made it clear in that article how restrictive my packing is - because we’re a family of five, and on reflection because we have a two-year-old who still comes with vastly disproportionate baggage. 

Pretty much everything has to work with everything. Every top with every trouser, every trouser with every shoe. And the clothes need to cater for city, pool and country walk. 

Have a read of that article if you want to read about how I deal with those requirements - and keep some interest in the clothes themselves. 

Here I’m showing a few of them in the wild, such as the biscuit linen trousers above, picked because they work with both dark tops like the indigo rayon shirt here, as well as white shirts or T-shirts.

Out of shot are my black-dyed Alden LHS loafers, the smartest option of the three pairs of shoes I took, and still the most comfortable non-trainer I own, so great for travel. 

Above, another dark top - my black Perro polo - worn with olive-linen trousers. The olive also works with the white or very dark tops, and is particularly nice with black. 

They’re an old pair from Informale, as I didn’t have time to get a pair from The Anthology before I went. I prefer the latter, as they don’t have the double pleats that give a rather baggy effect here, and they’re better made overall. 

The espadrilles are black, from Diego’s. It would be a little more interesting to have shoes in a different colour to the top, but these are the kind of little compromises required with a small suitcase. The black shoes go with everything. 

Another little rule of thumb I find practical, is that wearing one long and one short is an easy way to avoid the danger men often have in hot weather, of looking a bit like a child. 

You see it all the time, at least where I live. The wife is in a flowing linen dress or a chic pair of shorts with a Breton top, and the husband is wearing an old polo with slightly too-tight shorts. 

Now, chances are she spends far more time thinking about clothes than he does, and that’s the major reason for the difference.

But often all it would take to avoid that look would be a long item on the top or bottom - a pair of casual linen trousers with the polo, or a casual linen shirt with the shorts. It's not the only way by any means - shorts and a polo can look good - but it's often the easiest.

In the pic above (shot by my 11-year-old as she also relentlessly mocks me for having to do so) I think the linen shirt from Anderson & Sheppard makes the look rather more adult than a T-shirt. 

And it doesn’t have to be an expensive shirt at all, any loose-fitting and relaxed linen will do, just as long as it doesn’t look like office wear. Chambray or denim works well too. 

Which is not to say I don’t wear T-shirts. A good-weight T-shirt, like the PS Tapered Tee above, is a practical thing for more rugged activities, such as going for a walk through the woods, or renting a kayak and paddling down the river. 

Or in this case, trying to make the kids laugh by mimicking the cardboard cut-out at the local Intermarché. Nothing but Dad jokes, all summer long. 

Those shorts, by the way, are a nice pair from RRL I bought before the trip and am trying out. They’re in a strong right-hand twill, the same material I think as the ‘Field’ chinos that reader Cedric recommended in his recent profile.

What else?

My swimming trunks are from Aspesi but I’m not sure I can recommend them. The blue colour has quickly faded to a slightly unexpected mauve (above). 

My old Bate’s straw (below) looks better and better as it gets more beaten up. The two-year-old actually managed to step on it during the holiday, and put this hole in the top. It’s such a nice example of wear (and tear) that it almost looks fake.

And my Meyrowitz sunglasses continue to be one of the most versatile things I’ve bought recently - the Californian model in ‘amber mottle’ acetate (below). 

They’re very expensive, but so far I’ve managed to avoiding losing or damaging any of my Meyrowitz pairs (I have three) so as long as that lasts, it’s worth it. I just make sure to keep them in at least a soft case. 

That green alligator case is actually something else I’ve had for years and managed not to lose. It’s brought me such pleasure, with almost daily use during the summer. 

Searching for the original post on PS, I realise I’ve had it over 10 years. It’s hard to question the value of something you're enjoyed for that long. 

Here’s hoping you’ve all managed to get away this summer, and take some sartorial pleasures with you. 

If you have any tips yourself on packing for such trips, or recommendations for clothes that have worked out especially well, I’m sure readers would be as pleased as ever to read about them in the comments. 

Now I can't wait for autumn - with coats, scarves and hats galore. 

Come to a talk with Tony – and other things coming up

Come to a talk with Tony – and other things coming up

Monday, August 15th 2022
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Over the next few months there will a handful of PS events and talks, which will hopefully provide some nice opportunities for us to get together after the long summer, and lead to some stimulating conversation. 

The first of these is in three weeks time, in the wonderful Mortimer House - the members club I’ve been using as my office space for the past four years. 

It will be an interview with Tony Sylvester, creator and designer, about his career in clothing, the founding of his brand AWMS, and his views on menswear of the moment. 

I can’t wait to chat in detail with Tony about the brands he works with, and the other brands he admires.  

There will also be a selection of AWMS items on display for everyone to see, including ones that weren’t at the pop-up a year ago, such as the espadrilles. 

We would love to have a small audience of interested readers there, so if you would like to come please RSVP at [email protected]. I think there will be about 30 spaces available.

The event starts at 6:30pm, with the talk beginning at 7pm. We will be up in the Gallery at Mortimer House, where there is also a small bar. I’ll send details on how to find us upon RSVP.

Other things coming up this Autumn/Winter include hopefully an event in New York, where I look forward to seeing US readers, and a talk with Stoffa. Details of those and others will be coming soon. 

The much-anticipated schedule of product releases will also be sent out in the next few days, and I will publish that on PS for the first time too. That should provide a nice forum for everyone to ask their product questions in one place.

Thank you everyone, and see many of you soon hopefully. 

Simon 

Image at top: Sasha Leon @sashaleon.jpeg. Bottom photo, Mohan Singh

Wearing all black

Wearing all black

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I’ve been playing around with black so much in recent years (note, this is classic menswear - it’s years/decades, not weeks/months) that I thought I’d try out wearing nothing but black. 

This was during Pitti at Florence, on a relatively informal evening. Just dinner with friends.

That said, events like these are also a nice place to try out looks. Pretty much anything goes, and in fact if there are any expectations, they’re that friends will be wearing something interesting - worth talking about.

The outfit comprised a black Anfa polo shirt from Casatlantic, which I’ve discussed a little here already, black Irish-linen trousers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, and black-suede Sagans from Baudoin & Lange. 

We talked a little bit about black trousers before as well, in the article on a silk dupioni jacket.

Those were black cords, and it was raised in the comments how I felt about black-flannel trousers. Black linen, I feel, falls into a similar category as flannels. 

That category is: pieces that are not at all versatile, and therefore probably a bad choice for anyone just building up a wardrobe; but at the same time very satisfying for someone further along the journey, because they’re unusual without being loud.

Black trousers are hard to wear. They don’t go with a big range of jackets, or give you many options for shoes. But they are striking and, dare I say it, quite sexy for it.

Bringing up that contentious topic reminds me of the closing thought in André’s piece on sex appeal - which was for me the best point too: that it’s often a combination of confidence and vulnerability. 

The Casatlantic knit has a deeper opening on the chest than any other polo I own. Its depth is equivalent to undoing one more button on a shirt, on a hot day. And there’s no going back there - there are no buttons to do back up again! 

It is also short, with short arms. So even though the shape can be rather flattering - helped by a large fit in the chest - you do feel quite exposed. This is the vulnerability to it, of opening up and feeling more on display. 

There’s a lot of psychology and sociology in this area, and I feel a female writer would also be better placed to discuss it, as it’s more of an issue in womenswear. But I think it’s a dynamic worth raising in men’s minds too.

Nothing need be said about the Sagans, as we’ve talked about them consistently. 

Equally, it should seem obvious that I wore a small dress watch with a black strap, here my JLC gold Reverso.

But how about the overall combination of black on black? What did I, and do I now, think about that?

I loved it that evening, but perhaps a little like exposing more skin, it can also easily tip into looking cheap. 

The reason black suits are traditionally frowned upon in classic menswear is that black can easily look cheap. 

It quickly looks old and dusty, without the richness or lustre of a deep, dark navy. When it is made in a fine wool, it can also look too shiny, like elbows or thighs of any heavily worn suit.

These things are often exaggerated under artificial lighting, which is where the tradition of wearing midnight blue rather than black for a dinner jacket comes from - it looks blacker than black because of its depth and richness. 

However, as always it depends what you’re aiming for. Black makes for a poor business suit, because the ideal there is something that looks rich and luxurious, serious and professional. Someone who wears a black fashion suit is not interested that - they want matte and even edgy, not the manifestly successful look of the chairman of the board. 

If I had a black suit it would be in a material that was clearly also different from that corporate image, such as corduroy.

Black on black can look cheap - but there’s rather less danger in something like a polo shirt and loafers, rather than a suit.

It also helps if you play with textures - suede and leather, knitted and woven - and if elements suggest the elegant or luxurious, such as a very sharp crease in the trouser, or that texture of the suede. 

Others that do this well, such as Kenji at Bryceland’s, also seem to reference a Western tradition of cowboys wearing black. Though how much that goes beyond Hollywood villains and Hopalong Cassidy I don’t know. 

Anyway, those are my thoughts on wearing all black. Not for everyone, and not for anyone all of the time, but certainly striking when done well. 

Thanks to Jamie, as ever, for giving that impression on me.