Pop-up shops for 2024 – in London and New York

Pop-up shops for 2024 – in London and New York

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I'm pleased to say the dates are fixed for two pop-ups this year - in London next month and then in New York in October.

In three weeks we will be back on Savile Row, kindly hosted by New & Lingwood in their space at No.19. This worked well back in the Autumn, so we're nipping in again before they close. It'll be Wednesday March 20th to Saturday 23rd, 11 to 7.

There won't be an opening party, because the new book 'The Casual Style Guide' will be launching soon and there will be a party for that. Details on that hopefully this week.

There also won't be any other brands joining us in London, but as last time, there will be a selection of New & Lingwood products at the end of the store, and I will be curating a selection of their Spring/Summer pieces, so it will all be very PS-focused.

In New York, we will again be with the lovely J Mueser team on Christopher Street. We'll be joined by Rubato and Seiji McCarthy, and possibly Taillour - to be confirmed. Fred is in New York all the time anyway at the moment, so it will be lovely to have him but no one will miss out if he can't be there.

The dates for that are Wednesday, October 16th to Saturday 19th. Same opening times as usual, 11-7, and the address is 14 Christopher Street (suite 1). There will be opening drinks, as last time, on the Wednesday 19th.

Other notes in anticipation of questions (though I'm sure I will have forgotten something):

  • Any seasonal product in stock on the online shop will be available in the pop-ups. So in London in March we might not bring all the outerwear, as stock is now patchy and it's not necessarily what people are interested in. But let us know if you want to see something in particular.
  • Any new launches before then - at least one - will be available. Details on all expected products this Spring/Summer here.
  • The Casual Style Guide book will be available online and at retailers a couple of weeks after the London launch party.

Clothes pictured (in some shots we had left over from this shoot): Grey cashmere crewneck, which will be available for pre-order in the London pop-up in a total of four colours, PS undershirt, vintage Pendleton wool overshirt, vintage seventies 501s, and a PS brown watch cap.

The Eddie Bauer ‘Skyliner’ and how to find one

The Eddie Bauer ‘Skyliner’ and how to find one

Monday, February 26th 2024
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With the growth of interest in outdoor clothing in recent years, there has been a predictable dive into the history of companies that produced it, of which one of the most prominent was Eddie Bauer. 

One reason I find this exploration interesting is that a lot of heritage outdoor clothing was more refined than today's puffas and parkas - even elegant. They tended to be slimmer, they had collars rather than hoods, and they used more natural materials - dense cottons for example, or cotton/nylon mixes. 

A few companies have done reproductions in recent years, including Buck Mason with Eddie Bauer itself and Bryceland’s, whose down jacket (being reissued later this year) is a reproduction of my favourite style, the bomber-like Skyliner. 

But it’s also possible to pick up vintage Bauer cheaply on eBay (especially in the US), which is what I’ve done recently and the guys at Bryceland’s have done in the past. The only stumbling block is that something like the Skyliner was made for so long that the quality slowly deteriorated over the decades - wool ribbing was replaced with polyester, metal zips by plastic. 

So I thought it would be useful to get a guide to buying pieces like this from Ben Chamberlain at Bryceland’s, who knows a lot more about it than I do. Here are my questions and his answers, and pictured is Kenji (right) in a vintage Skyliner, as well as Ben (left). 

What’s the first thing to be aware of when buying these pieces vintage, Ben?

Most important is understanding what you want: a true ‘archive’ piece, which will come with a high price tag (sometimes staggeringly high) or something which is wearable and affordable, though not as desirable for one reason or another.

How have Eddie Bauer jackets changed over the years?

Since Bauer first started pioneering down jackets in the mid-thirties, they’ve been a constant crossover item from outdoors adventurers to street-style icons. When Bauer first sold his diamond-quilted, down-filled design in 1936 it was revolutionary; the idea was so ahead of its time and so simple that the basic construction has remained pretty much the same ever since - just two layers of fabric quilted and filled with down feathers, for greater warmth retention without the weight.

As not a lot has changed, and Eddie Bauer specifically produced the same designs such as the Skyliner and Yukon for decades, the differences are really in things like the materials and hardware.

When does the Skyliner date from?

The Skyliner is one of Bauer’s recognisable models, and a precursor to modern bomber jackets. Waist-length with knitted collar and cuffs, it was the earliest commercial model Eddie Bauer brought to the market in 1936. It’s easy to see why the design remained unaltered as well as becoming highly collectible. 

Kenji’s example shown here dates from the late 1950s/60s. Compared to the original patent the tightly woven cotton outer has been replaced with a cotton/nylon mix - which was found on most down jackets of the time and is still used today - and the ribbing has changed from 100% worsted wool to wool/nylon. The liner also changed over the years as production and textiles changed and modernised. 

Are those the key things to look out for when trying to date one, on eBay for example?

Yes, the first thing is the outer shell. You’re unlikely to find a pure cotton one, but the cotton/nylon mixes are great and very functional. The mix changes from 60/40 to 40/60, but they’re all good.

The pure nylon which started to appear in the 60s onwards is a little different, more of a ‘shell’ jacket, which is a little lighter and in-line with more modern streetwear, but still has its place. In the 80s pure nylon shells started to become the standard across all models; these are still fine and have some lovely colours, but lose a bit of the charm of the earlier versions.

Look for the label too. Anyone that loves labels in general would have come across the iconic Eddie Bauer ‘Sun’ logo. Used from the very first jacket, it is instantly eye-catching: the rich gold of the sun rising above the horizon, the cold blue of the ice flow and red ‘Bauer’ lettering all set on a black background. The perspective of the ‘Bauer Down’ text is set central, like a monolith, or the opening credits of Star Wars – it’s epic. 

This label was used from the 30s right up until the 1960s, with a few minor changes over that pretty vast time-period: the placement of the ® symbol and the ‘Blizzard Proof’ text date the jacket to the 1960s, while dating before then can trickier. 

Jackets with these labels can be pricey, so the best place to start is jackets with the gold script logo - and the fetching, but quite plain ‘cubist’ mountains - that replaced the sundown logo in the late 1960s. Another plus for later jackets is the vastly expanded colour palette, which can be a bit more fun and in-line with modern repro-brands like Rocky Mountain featherbed. 

Other changes include the lining, but this was nylon from the early 1950s onwards, and the zips, which were plastic in later years. Metal zips, and specifically Talon zips, are a good indicator of earlier jackets, and specifically those produced earlier that the 1980s. 

Did the design of the Skyliner change in any other way?

No, it was noticeably timeless. It’s short in the body but not too much, which proportionally makes it easy to wear and pairs effortlessly with most casual items. The only limitation is that the shape reduces the amount of layering you can do. 

How does the performance compare to a modern down jacket?

It depends what you need them for. If it’s just to keep warm, then vintage is still good, tends to be cheaper, and as mentioned has a touch more character. Modern down jackets will have sealed seams and be more water resistant, but down jackets aren’t really designed for rainy weather.

If you wanted to go hiking or climbing, modern would also be a safer bet, although on a trip to Iceland last November I took a vintage 1960s nylon shell Eddie Bauer and it served me very well, great for layering. 

Compared to modern repro down jackets, if you can find a vintage one you like then vintage makes more sense monetarily and in terms of sustainability; but there'll be a certain amount of compromise regarding options and colours. 

What other models from Eddie Bauer fit this vintage, streamlined aesthetic?

The best known model apart from the Skyliner is probably the Yukon, which Bauer released in 1946. Closer to an overcoat or parka, it’s smarter and a little more stylised - cut long with a full mouton collar and more tailored fit. The design is a little dated today, but it’s a great piece. The man himself described it as “the aristocrat of all down jackets”.

What other brands from the period are worth watching out for?

Though Eddie Bauer is the best known, there are brands which sometimes get 'left out in the cold' when looking at down jackets. Seattle Quilt MFG had been making quilted-down sleeping bags since the 1920s, a good 15 years before Bauer took that idea and put sleeves on it. When they finally saw the potential for their product, they started the Comfy sub-brand in 1936. 

The jacket I’m wearing here is one of the earliest Comfy designs - from the late 40s or early 50s - and is similar to the Bauer Yukon. There are some elements of the Comfy that I personally prefer though: the diamond quilting similar to the Skyliner, the scalloped pocket design, the slightly larger collar and the burgundy sateen half-lining. 

In the late 60s into 70s the Comfy brand had a distinctive style shift, producing slightly more western-inspired jackets. Nylon shells, shoulder yolks, brighter colours; these are a lot of fun, cheap and easy to find. The logos a bit of fun too, very much of the time. 

Beyond Eddie Bauer and Comfy, there are other smaller brands from the 50s and 60s: Alaska Sleeping Bag Co, Alaska Feather Down, others that don’t have Alaska in the name. Then in the late 60s into the 70s there was a boom in companies specialising in down-jackets and outdoor attire: Sierra Design, Rocky Mountain Featherbed, Powder Horn, North Face and of course, Patagonia. 

Many of these companies’ designs were very similar if not identical, essentially white-labelled. But there are some good examples and nice colourways out there, making them a great way to find an inexpensive and wearable down jacket at a fraction of the cost of a new one. 

If eBay is the best source for the cheaper end of the market, particularly in the US, one of the best for the very high end is Saunders Militaria. Increasingly many vintage shops stock outerwear along these lines though - some of the best I found were in Korea at places like Omnipeople

Spring/Summer 24 on the Permanent Style shop

Spring/Summer 24 on the Permanent Style shop

Friday, February 23rd 2024
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Hello lovely readers,

Here’s our regular update on what’s coming into the PS Shop over the next few months - apologies for the short delay. 

This only covers Spring/Summer, but feel free to ask in the comments about anything in Autumn/Winter, and we’ll give us much information as we currently have. Just bear in mind a lot of things won’t be confirmed. 

That goes for questions in general too - please ask in the comments rather than email, DM or anything else. It avoids us answering the same question lots of times, and turns the comments section into a bit of an FAQ. 

As per usual, keep in mind that we can’t detail everything in advance and some timings might change (I swear communications is the most important thing about running a factory). There may also be one or two new launches which have yet to be confirmed and will drop into this season. 

Finally, we will be moving this year to more regular shop emails announcing new products and restocks. So if you want to get alerts on all products, rather than just a waiting list for one specific restock, sign up to that list here. There won’t be many of those, usually a couple a month. 

If you already receive editorial emails from us, you’ll have to update your preferences by receiving a link - sorry that’s a bit of a faff.

Oh, and we will have our normal pop-ups this year, but details will be announced next week. Any stock that arrives before the pop-up will then be on display to see and try there. 

Thanks, it’ll be an exciting year!

March 

  • Oxford shirts restock - A final run of pink stripes (above) and green stripes, at least for a while, plus the perennials of blue, white, and blue/white. And cloth in all five
  • New product - An outerwear piece for Spring/Summer, something readers have been asking about for a while. We don’t quite have details yet, but those will come in a couple of weeks. 
  • Pre-orders. The pre-order programme we’ve run for the last couple of years will focus on our most popular knitwear this year - the Cashmere Crewnecks and the Rugbys
    • We want to do it with the Crewneck in particular because it’s been so popular and we want to make sure everyone has a chance to get one. 
    • It will be available for all past colours, plus a new one for the Rugby and three new ones (three!) for the crewneck. 
    • The pre-order window will run through the pop-up, so you will be able to see the new colours in person. Delivery will be in October. 
  • The Casual Style Guide - Our successor to 2018's book 'The Style Guide' will be out this month, both online and with dozens of stockists around the world. Still in partnership with the photographer Jamie Ferguson, it draws on his extensive archive of street-style shots to put together a guide to different types of casual style, from sleek and tonal Scandinavian to rough and ready workwear.

April

  • Linen overshirts - Now the summer products in force. First, the linen overshirt, in particular the popular dark brown that was never restocked last year. Also navy, olive and one new colour
  • The Finest Polo - Restocking in navy, cream and a new dark brown
  • PS Shorts - Coming back in navy and khaki
  • New denim shirts - The replacement for our Everyday Denim, in blue and black
  • Hand-framed cotton crewneck - A beautiful new product, in navy and cream 
  • The Dartmoor - Restock of navy, plus a new cream and new charcoal
  • The Finest Crewneck - Restock of navy (below) and charcoal

May

  • The Linen Harrington - Restock of the dark navy, plus a lovely dark brown
  • The Friday Polo - Our new design from last year, in the same navy and white 
  • The summer shirt - A new product, details coming closer to the time

And…unconfirmed

  • Tapered T-Shirts - These have been ordered in a larger number than before to try and cope with demand, but we don’t currently have a firm delivery date.
  • Black Bullskin Tote - Reordered last year, but again no firm delivery date
  • Navy Reversible Suede jacket - This has been delayed but will hopefully be ready in May 
  • Undershirts - Unfortunately the supplier here is no longer available, but we’re working on a new manufacture

Please let us know if there’s anything here you’re not sure about, again in the comments below - or if this reminds you there’s something you’d like to see in the future, again let us know. 

Cifonelli cashmere overcoat: Style Breakdown

 

This cashmere coat from Cifonelli, which I’ve had now for nine years, is similar in many ways to the two coats we’ve covered previously in this series – from Ciardi and from Liverano. There are some technical differences, however, which makes them interesting to compare and contrast. 

Just as interesting, and perhaps more practical for many readers, is reflecting on how the coat has aged. Both the cashmere itself – which can be a delicate choice for an everyday coat – and the Cifonelli style with its extensive finishing, are things readers should bear in mind for any commission. 

I’ll cover off the technical differences first, as I know there are readers that really like and appreciate that. Then move onto the practical points. 

 

 

House: Cifonelli

Address: 31 Rue Marbeuf, Paris

Site: www.cifonelli.com

Cutter: Lorenzo Cifonelli

Price (at time of writing): €8500 (incl VAT)

Suit starting price: €7000 (incl VAT)

The biggest difference between this Cifonelli coat and the other two we’ve covered is the back – as we’re increasingly finding in this series.

The Cifonelli is by far the neatest, with a sharp box pleat in the centre of the back, one small pleat on either side, and a little more fullness gathered into the sewn-on belt. This is echoed below the belt, with three similar pleats running down to the hem. 

The work is very fine, with ‘sprat’s head’ triangles sewn at the top of the two central pleats, and parallel rows of pick stitching sewn delicately around a lot of the edges, including the belt. There is no getting away from both the volume and precision of Cifonelli finishing. 

The biggest style difference, however, is the fact the coat has no vent. Where the other two had a buttoned vent below the waist, to enable the wearer to move more freely, the Cifonelli has just a pleat. The entire bottom half of the back is made of just one piece of fabric – which must have been pretty big when laid out on the cutter’s board. 

The upper back, too, is made of just one piece, despite the cut above the pleat that is then sewn into a seam. It’s this kind of hidden tailoring work that elevates Cifonelli as a piece of tailoring – as an object.

 

 

Having spoken to tailors about this coat, one other point that’s worth making is how natural the finishing feels. Although there is a lot of it – and that’s one reason I wouldn’t necessarily commission the same coat today – it all feels a natural part of the whole. 

“It’s a hard thing to describe, but it feels like one person makes this style of coat all day long, day after day, and has done for years,” one English tailor commented. “It comes across in little things like the shape of the sprat’s heads, or where that pick stitching is placed and where it is not.”

I think this is something that bespoke customers often miss when they request elements of one tailor’s work be copied by another. There are so many little choices, such as the spacing of the pick stitching or the thread used, that a customer wouldn’t think to request and a tailor isn’t necessarily going to think of. 

 

 

It comes back to a point we made with the Liverano coat, that much of this is best thought of as a language – a way of making something that has developed over time, that is distinctive, coherent and subtle, like intonation in language or choices between synonyms. 

Two more examples of this with the Cifonelli. One, the pick stitching is close to the edges, where there is only a tiny amount of inlay. This makes the edges of the lapels, for example, much sharper than the Liverano, where more inlay and stitches set back from the edge create a real swelled edge. 

And two, there isn’t much padding in a lot of the shoulder, but at the end there is a real lump that runs across into the top of the sleeve. This is what creates the distinctive Cifonelli shoulder – less the roping and more the way the construction creates a wide, thick sleevehead that’s a continuation of the shoulder padding. 

Parisian tailors incorporate aspects from many other traditions, often from different parts of Italy. But these two examples demonstrate how they have adapted them and – over time – created their own language. Milanese shoulders have that thickness, but only in the shoulder, not the sleevehead, while Neapolitan edges have those two lines of stitching but not as fine or as sharp. 

 

 

OK, so would I commission this coat again? 

I don’t think I’d choose cashmere. The coat has aged well, there is no balding on the elbows or on the pocket edges. But the material is frustratingly soft and rarely holds a clean line. It has been recently pressed, yet the skirt is already a bit crushed and the beautifully made pleats are compromised. I’d choose a wool or wool mix, as with my Ettore coat.

I also wouldn’t do the same style. This is mostly how my tastes have changed, but there are also more objective things like not having postbox pockets on something smart like dark-navy cashmere. My changing tastes mean I might shy away from this amount of finishing, though it may be the combination of it with luxe cashmere. Perhaps in a wool the two would not seem too much. 

I love wearing this coat, but I wear it a little more casually, and perhaps I’m lucky that that has been an effect of workplace requirements changing. With a sharp suit and tie, this coat could seem a bit flashy. With a knit and flannels as pictured, there is less going on and the coat can shine on its own. 

 

 

Style breakdown

  • Shoulder width: 6¾ inches
  • Shoulder padding: Thin at the neck, thick at the sleevehead
  • Sleevehead: Thick, wide but not tall
  • Lapel width: 5½ inches 
  • Collar width (at gorge): 3 inches
  • Gorge height: 4 inches
  • Outbreast pocket height: 11½ inches 
  • Buttoning point: 20 inches
  • Wrap: 3½ inches
  • Back length: 44½ inches

Other clothes shown:

  • Grey Dartmoor sweater
  • Mid-grey flannel trousers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury
  • Black ‘Utah’ Piccadilly loafer from Edward Green
  • Must de Cartier Tank watch with grey alligator strap, from Soobaak in Seoul

When to wear a tie: Personality and opportunity

When to wear a tie: Personality and opportunity

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At Pitti Uomo back in January I took the opportunity to wear mostly tailoring and ties - the two outfits shown above and below. And it felt great. 

I know there are traditionalists who see me as the antithesis of this, as I’m rarely pictured wearing a tie these days. It’s mostly open collars, jackets with jeans, and even (horror of horrors) workwear at the weekend. 

But I’ve never stopped loving ties, it’s just that they don’t fit as much with my lifestyle and with the world around me anymore. I won’t dredge up the arguments about dressing for yourself or others - we talked about those at length here - but even if you want to ignore society and the age you live in, dressing for your lifestyle is still a fundamental part of dressing for you. 

I also believe that stylish men are those that can wear a range of styles - either because that’s the best fit for their life’s activities (not wearing a tweed suit to garden in, even if their grandfather did) or because they have a broader appreciation of fashion than just what they themselves wear. They appreciate clothing as a whole, not just the things they wear. 

So for me, while wearing a tie looks great and feels great (the flattering vertical line, the feeling of the collar on the neck) it’s something I do when I have the opportunity, rather than forcing it into a situation it doesn’t suit. 

Manish is a great one for wearing a tie. If we go out to dinner in Mayfair, chances are I’ll be in an open-necked shirt and he’ll be sporting neckwear. When this happens I kick myself for not doing the same - for not taking the opportunity. 

But that doesn’t mean the outfits I’ve shown here, featuring my PS Plaid jacket and Taillour suit, are appropriate for many people, in many situations. The black knitted-silk tie I’m wearing with the first outfit is actually something Manish would often wear for dinners - but not with a green-and-purple checked jacket; more likely a grey herringbone jacket or a charcoal suit. 

I love the PS Plaid for a real event, for eveningwear and cocktail attire, but it’s not a day-to-day material. 

The same goes for my brown chalkstripe suit from Taillour. 

It looks wonderful with a white oxford shirt and orange challis tie, and I really enjoyed wearing it at Pitti. It felt elegant, subtle and personal. Even though I had lifted the combination wholesale from Yukio Akamine (below), who was the original inspiration for the suit.

But this is Pitti. The outfit is a very vintage-y, being almost entirely shades of brown. I can’t think it would be appropriate for many readers, very often. It’s not really officewear or eveningwear. 

That’s why when I reviewed the suit, I showed it with a black shirt, which I think is a nice evening combination. I’ve also shown it with a black knitted T-shirt. A denim shirt is cool too, and makes the suit a little fashion-y and contemporary.

If I could only wear the suit as pictured below, with a wool tie in such a vintage mode, it would have very limited use, and I wouldn't have commissioned it. 

When I was coming into town this morning, I saw an older guy (perhaps early seventies) in a very traditional trench coat and fedora. He wore a grey suit underneath, and looked great because everything was well executed - good quality clothing, well looked after, well put together. (You need all three.)

I wouldn’t dress like that, even though I can fully appreciate why it looks good on him. It's not me and it's not what I like - I would always want something with a bit more personality, less of a traditional uniform. Perhaps some Ivy influences, some of kind of messing with that standard. 

But he would also have looked out of place in either of the outfits I’ve shown here. I'm not sure they would have been his style, and at 9am on the Tube, it wasn't the time or place.

Of course that doesn’t mean the outfits (his or mine) should be ignored. Instead, as with all inspiration, you lift elements you like.

You observe the combination of burnt-orange challis with brown flannel, and try a similar pocket square with a brown-tweed jacket. Or you admire the chic of the black knitted tie with pink oxford, and try that with your navy suit next time you’re out for dinner. 

Wearing a tie is not a question that’s worth arguing or debating. It’s a question of personality and of opportunity. 

The PS Plaid cloth is being rewoven and will be available again in late Summer, together with other PS cloths.

The jacket is worn with a pink-striped PS Oxford shirt, charcoal flannel trousers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, and vintage Polo alligator loafers. More on the loafers at a later date. The shirts and fabric are being restocked (potentially for the last time) this Spring.

The suit is worn with a white PS Oxford shirt, old Church’s tie (we’re talking 20 years here) and bespoke shoes from Yohei Fukuda

Taillour suit picture courtesy of Fabrizio Di Paolo 

Reader profile: James

Reader profile: James

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James is a reader I met in Korea last year. A friend of our host Sam Ahn, he joined us for dinner on the last night with Assisi. 

James has been a customer of various bespoke tailors for about 10 years, but has largely settled down to using Sartoria Jun in Seoul. He likes the Neapolitan-like comfort, but also, interestingly, Jun’s level of taste, which he thinks many tailors lack. He also finds that most of his friends in Seoul have stopped using international tailors in favour of those in Korea or Japan. 

His portraits were shot by Matt Choi in the Vint furniture gallery in Seoungsu-dong. 

Outfit 1: Spring

  • Jacket: Sartoria Jun
  • Knit: Anderson & Sheppard
  • Trousers: Sartoria Jun
  • Shoes: Anthony Cleverley
  • Socks: Votta (throughout)
  • Bracelet: Cartier (throughout)

What do you do James?

I work in an asphalt and concrete business, serving the construction industry. I’m in a big office, and seeing everyone in tailoring was what first got me into tailoring originally. My Dad was always very smartly dressed too. 

But you’re dressed in a very consistent way in these shots, a more tonal and relaxed version of tailoring?

Yes, most people in the office don’t wear a suit and tie any more, they wear polo shirts or something like that. It got to the stage that someone would always ask you where you were going if you wear wearing a suit, so I started dressing more casually - this was three or four years ago. 

I’m very consistent now in what I wear - soft jackets and trousers, usually with knitwear or a T-shirt. I like understated colours and textures, so also suede shoes rather than leather. These three outfits represent how I dress through different seasons of the year here - the coat and scarf in winter, jacket and knit in spring, T-shirt and lightweight jacket in summer. 

Is that OK with the weather, it seems to involve a lot of pale trousers for instance. 

Yes it’s OK most of the time in Seoul - I probably wear one of these types of outfits 300 days of the year. The trousers are a foundation piece for me too, I have five pairs all in pretty much the same colour. Not white, as that’s a bit too flash on men, but types of off-white. 

Is this kind of look unusual in Seoul? I don’t feel I saw many people wearing it. 

No it is quite unusual, you’re right. Soft and comfortable things are popular, but you don’t see many people wearing tonal tailoring like this. I like that - it feels personal but also understated and well-dressed. 

A lot of tailoring in Korea is still quite flashy - I think you saw a lot of that kind of thing at Sam’s party. Loud ties, lots of patterns, lots of pocket squares. That was the style that became big when tailoring was very fashionable here.

That probably happens everywhere, right? When something is trendy, a lot of people go over the top. It certainly happened in Europe, and you always used to see it at Pitti. 

Yes, it’s fading here now, but it’s the same kind of attitude that makes people want to adopt fashions very quickly and intensely. Koreans have a tendency to do that as a whole, but I’m sure it happens everywhere. 

Outfit 2: Summer

  • Jacket: Antonio Pascariello
  • T-shirt: James Perse
  • Trousers: Sartoria Jun
  • Shoes: Aubercy

Which tailors have you tried?

I think maybe 10 in total, mostly Italian, Korean, Japanese. I used Antonio Pascariello in Naples, who made this houndstooth jacket, some in Florence, Ciccio and Anglofilo in Japan, Jun in Korea obviously. 

You never travelled to the UK? 

No, just Italy really. And today I pretty much only use Jun - maybe for 90% of things. He has a very personal aesthetic and an interest in clothes that you don’t really find in most places. I wish more tailors cared about style to be honest, it would make things a lot easier. They are wonderful craftsmen, but the style side doesn’t interest them much. 

Jun is always thinking about that, and we have long conversations about the history of style. He imports his buttons from Italy because it’s hard to get good ones here. In fact I think that’s one of the things that also swayed it for me - I could talk to Jun and discuss clothing where I couldn’t with anyone in Italy. 

Do you always wear these kind of fabrics?

Yes I think that’s been part of the evolution. It’s important to be able to try different things as a customer, and fabrics is a big part of that. Trying tweed and cashmere, for example. I find I prefer the softness, the drapiness of cashmere and that type of fabric. 

It’s actually been something that Permanent Style has been very useful for over the years - discussion of fabrics, weight and weave, how they perform and feel. 

The other thing I like about your writing is the way you assess what the best is in a particular category - like T-shirts for example. There are so many out there, and you might end up having ones from 10 different brands. But you break it down and explain what the characteristics of each are, so you understand what something is good or bad at. 

Where is this T-shirt from?

It’s from James Perse. I like his clothes because they’re in washed materials, which fits in with the kinds of colours and look I like. 

What do you like about Jun’s style?

Mostly how comfortable it feels, but also masculine. It’s elegant, but it isn’t fitted anywhere - it just sits on the body well. The shoulders aren’t too big or too small, the waist is always comfortable. It's very well-balanced.

I found that I always reached for my Jun jackets, even when I had lots of other pieces from other tailors. I knew I would look good in it, but I'd also be very comfortable. So over time I gradually got everything from him.

I know you didn’t have much time to see him on this recent trip, but if you ever come again we should go see him together. It would be good to talk about his aesthetic. 

Yes we only talked briefly unfortunately. His son was ill so he had to get home.

He doesn’t travel to Pitti anymore either, because he has a family. His wife would kill him if he travelled as much as he used to!

Outfit 3: Winter

  • Coat: Sartoria Jun
  • Knit: Loro Piana
  • Scarf: Denis Colomb
  • Trousers: Sartoria Jun
  • Shoes: Anthony Cleverley

I think this might be my favourite of the three looks. I like the V-neck underneath without a T-shirt, though I don’t think I really have the shoulders to pull it off.

Thanks. Actually I only tried wearing my cashmere knits without a T-shirt underneath recently, but it’s so comfortable, a really different level. And you really appreciate the cashmere in a different way. 

I think I’d find it a little uncomfortable, at least by the end of the day. Do you not?

No it’s fine, but I think people feel these things differently. It’s also what got me into wearing more scarves, like this one from Denis Colomb. They’re really great by the way, the best scarves I’ve tried, you should look at them. 

Thanks, I don’t know them at all. I’m guessing you wear quite a lot of Loro Piana as well?

Yes, I’ve been a customer for a long time and this V-neck is from Loro Piana. It certainly fits my aesthetic. 

You mentioned at dinner how much you like raglan coats - who made this one?

It’s from Jun, like most things. I know most tailors don’t like making raglans, but Pascariello does it well and Jun [who trained there] does it now too. I think he’s perfected it. 

I probably wear raglan coats 90% of the time in winter. I like the fact they look more relaxed than a traditional overcoat. 

I noticed you're not wearing a watch. Do you ever wear one?

I used to wear a watch but in Korea watches became a really big status thing for men, and something I wanted to opt out of. I used to have some vintage Patek and Cartier but I sold them all in the end, as they just drew too much attention. I guess it's a cultural thing largely. I prefer a simple bracelet now.

Last month we ran a project called Dry January, where we talked about caring for clothes and how the best ones age. Do you do much of your own sewing or alterations?

No, I don’t think I can even thread a needle! But alterations are so easy in Korea, there are alterations tailors on every block, and it’s high quality and cheap. Much more so than in Europe. 

So there’s no need to learn to do things yourself really. You can get repairs done easily, cleaning done easily. I think I look after my clothes well though, and my wardrobe is pretty slimmed down with everything revolving around this kind of look. 

Do you think you’d ever change in the future?

There are fashions in tailoring as in other things of course, but I don’t think so. It fits me and my lifestyle so well. It also feels in keeping with the other things I love - like the vintage furniture in this gallery, which I’ve bought from a couple of times. 

I guess it’s always going to feel more of a long-term thing when it’s so connected to your personality and taste. 

Yes I think that’s right. Also as you get older, your taste in lots of things matures and settles. As you said in your article, Korea feels like it has gone through that process in recent years, and I have too. 

How to wear a shawl or stole

How to wear a shawl or stole

Monday, February 12th 2024
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A shawl (or stole) can be a really practical thing to wear. Simply hung round the neck, it’s a lovely layer of warmth down the front of the body and on the back of the neck. And when looped or tied, it’s also effective protection against the cold wind. 

I often wear them with my PS Donegal coats (above), as their length suits the long lines of that balmacaan style. But they can work with any type of coat, and are particularly useful when travelling, as we detailed in our recent article on Paris

Men sometimes find them difficult to wear, though, especially when they are required to wrap the thing. A shawl is quite bulky, and it can feel messy and difficult to control. 

(There’s an interesting side topic here actually, about the link between men that are into classic clothing are those that are naturally fussy, even obsessive. Waistcoats and ties and oxfords feel neat and controllable; shawls do not. A subject for another day perhaps.)  

In today’s piece, I’m going to quickly set out quickly how I wear a shawl, and suggest how it can be done with control and even nonchalance.

Most shawls are long enough to wrap around the neck and leave a good amount hanging either end. This old one from Begg & Co of mine does that, measuring 183x73cm. 

So start with the shawl hanging shorter on one side, as in the image above. What that length should be becomes quickly instinctive, but as with everything here, precision doesn’t matter that much. In fact it should be actively avoided. 

Then take the long end (that’s the end I’m holding - the photo is a little unclear) and wrap it loosely around the neck. 

Don’t do it too tightly - not as tight as you might wrap a regular scarf - as the thickness can make it uncomfortable, and again it could stop looking nice and loose and easy.

A good tip here is to hold the corner of the shawl as you wrap it, rather than the whole end. I’m demonstrating, or trying to demonstrate, this in the image above. It’s not helped by the fact that Lucas is laughing off camera, and I’m trying not to smile. 

Anyway, the point of this is that it makes the width of the shawl spread out across your back and the shoulders. The shawl is also not as thick, it covers more of the upper body, and it looks less considered. 

The biggest problem with shawls comes at this point, when you have two ends hanging down on the chest. They feel messy, out of control, and can easily get blown around. There is an urge to tie or otherwise secure them. 

The best solution with a coat is to push one of the ends inside the front, as I’m doing above. This keeps it under control and stops if flapping about. Note the fringe is showing because I’m holding only the corner. 

Then, I like to tuck the other end inside the front edge of the coat too, as shown above. Not pushing it, just lying it inside that front edge. It gives a modicum more control. 

You can try this once or twice in the mirror if you want but, when you’re out and about, resist the urge to play or adjust or even look in a car window. Just let it be. The danger of looking too neat is greater than looking too messy. Have a play, have fun, but do not fiddle. 

When I’m on the Tube, my shawl is normally hanging loose around my neck, coat open. Then when I emerge into the biting cold (or am going to emerge), one end is pulled longer, a corner held, the thing wrapped around and tucked. 

Easy, simple and (literally) without a second thought. I know you care (you're a PS reader after all), but try very much not to. 

I’ve included a few other images here of shawls other than the toffee-coloured Begg one. Begg does still sell that style, but not in the same colour unfortunately. 

My other favourites are from Loro Piana (back in the days when there were big discounts at Bicester Village) and from Anderson & Sheppard. They have a big range of larger scarves though again, unfortunately, not my bright orange one I’ve shown at the top and bottom of this post. They do have the cream above though, which is amazing, although being hand-woven is also proportionately expensive. 

I also wear larger silk/cashmere Hermes shawls in the same way too, like the one below. 

What’s the difference between a shawl, a scarf and a stole I hear you say? Well, shawls are usually heavier and often square (as those Hermes ones are). Stoles are large and rectangular, but also lighter in weight. Scarves are rectangular but can be many sizes. 

As with many things in clothing, there is no clean definition for my Begg one. It’s the weight of a scarf but the shape of a stole, and perhaps looks most like a shawl. It doesn’t matter as long as we all know what we mean. 

For details on the other clothes shown in the main images, see Paris article here

The top image is taken from this outfit shoot on the herringbone Donegal coat.

The Hermes scarf outfit is taken from this post on the brown Donegal coat

The bright orange scarf outfit is in this post on strong colours

The cream shawl outfit is featured in that article too, but morex details can be seen in this post on navy odd trousers.

My case for the lightweight English jacket

My case for the lightweight English jacket

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By Aleks Cvetkovic.

For much of my career I’ve felt like an anomaly, especially at the likes of Pitti or industry events. Principally this is because I’ve always chosen to wear structured tailoring, largely from London tailors, over the unstructured, Italian style that’s dominated menswear for the last 10 or 15 years.

Italianate tailoring is lighter, comfier and more casual than its British or French equivalents, or so the prevailing wisdom tells us. While unstructured tailoring is undoubtedly light and comfortable – and to be clear, I’m absolutely not disputing this – I’ve never bought into the notion that it’s the only solution for men who want to wear tailoring that feels natural on the body.

Perhaps it’s my innate pro-London bias, but I’ve always preferred to wear jackets with structured shoulders and firm, canvased chests. When I first got into tailoring, it was ‘olde worlde’ Hollywood glamour that drew me in, suits with ‘shape and drape’; it irks me that much of the menswear world discounts shapely, drape-cut tailoring as impractical and uncomfortable.

In order to illustrate my point, Simon has asked me to photograph a couple of outfits that demonstrate the principles of shape and drape, and why they work for me.

First up is one of my all-time favourite pieces, a jet black wool-and-cashmere double-breasted blazer from Edward Sexton, cut with a little extra volume in the chest compared to a conventional Sexton garment.

This jacket was cut for me by Sexton’s Cutter, Nina Penlington, and is her evolution of a pattern that Edward drafted a few years ago.

Back then, Edward used to create garments for me that he called ‘semi-drape’ in style, inspired by the prevailing cut he learned to draft in the ‘60s under the legendary Fred Stanbury at what was then called Kilgour, French & Stanbury. I don’t really remember how we came to the decision that the look was right for me, but somehow it clicked.

In this semi-drape style, the tailor creates a generous, roomy jacket that emphasises the shoulder, chest and hip without putting much suppression into the waist. It’s purposely cut with room to move, not close to the body.

It’s the style that prevails in a lot of 1930s fashion plates (above) – those illustrations we all love of square-jawed men with squarer shoulders, Herculean chests and only a little pinch through the waist.

It was also a style that Cary Grant gravitated towards in the early 40s. See how the jacket below combines built-up shoulders and broad lapels with a great big chest running into the sleeves?

Essentially, the garment is big and therefore comfortable, but also sharp because of its silhouette, which is more architectural than full-on drape coats from the likes of Anderson & Sheppard.

It’s tricky to capture the blazer’s subtleties thanks to its plain cloth, but the chest is by some way the roomiest I own, designed to complement an elongated, softly padded and roped shoulder line.

The lapels are generous, but not over the top, and the pocket flaps are a good 2.5 inches deep. Nina did a superb job balancing the blazer’s proportions, all round.

The large chest and shoulder add gravitas to the coat, which I like, but it doesn’t feel stiff. It’s big but not rigid. On the body it feels easy-going, almost slouchy.

It’s a different kind of softness to a Neapolitan or Florentine garment, and I think rather more glamorous. At the same time, it feels loucher and less ‘proper’ than garments from tailors like Huntsman or Chittleborough & Morgan.

A roomy coat like this also suits a full-cut trouser, but doesn’t feel like a period piece. These cavalry twill trousers are Saman Amel’s ‘Amo’ style, which has a contemporary rise and well-placed single reverse pleats – they’re a forward-looking style, not at all nostalgic.

The second look is firmly out of season, but I’ve dressed it how I wear it in summer, with an open-collar linen shirt and soft loafers (horsebits from Horatio).

It's a double-breasted suit from the ever-reliable team at Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, cut in a breezy wool, silk and linen plainweave from Solbiati. There is only the thinnest layer of canvas in the shoulders, creating minimal weight or bulk, and while it’s made without domette, the coat is canvassed through the lapel, chest and foreparts, for a lovely rich shape.

It’s a design that Suresh and Mahesh call their ‘Air Jacket’, which was first designed to wear in the heat of Chennai, home to Whitcomb’s tailoring workshop.

The jacket is almost entirely unlined, and unusually the sleeves are also unlined, bar a thin band of lining around the cuff. The result is a jacket with a dead-straight shoulder line and three-dimensional chest that is absolutely featherweight – impressively so.

It’s not quite as soft as an Italian jacket, but it’s every bit as light. And, in a professional or evening context in particular, I find this suit much more appropriate than something with no shape and slouchy shoulders. It’s neater and cleaner all round.

Incidentally (and I know I’ve made this point before) this suit is a great example of working patiently with a tailor over the long term. My pattern is so good from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury that every time I now slip on a new garment it’s staggeringly clean. We had to do almost nothing to this suit and the team did an excellent job of getting it ready for a warm-weather business trip in record time.

Another of the benefits of a roomier jacket is that its generosity gives you license to enjoy other styling details.

The gauntlet cuffs on this suit (a Whitcomb signature) would look odd on a Florentine jacket, for example – which is all about soft lines and curves, rather than confident shapes and angles – but they suit a jacket with a classical silhouette. The same applies to the lapels, with their breadth and horizontal peaks.

It’s purely personal preference, but I think garments like these are more flattering and more elegant than their unstructured cousins. They capture something of a bygone era but feel modern too. They disguise more sins, flatter more attributes and present an all-round sharper impression to the world.

There will always be a place for unstructured tailoring, and I expect it’ll remain the prevailing choice among stylish men but, for those of you who are feeling adventurous, or seeking something different, don’t write off a structured style. Seek out and experiment with tailors who celebrate the concept of ‘shape and drape’ and you might well be pleasantly surprised.

Liverano ulster coat: Style Breakdown

 

This coat from Liverano & Liverano in Florence has had a bit of an after life, being imitated in this tweed a fair bit, as well as spurring some to have the same coat from Liverano (despite the high cost). 

It remains one of my absolute favourite pieces of bespoke. It has a shape and a style I’ve never really seen ready-made, and the PS Harris Tweed material works surprisingly well despite its weight. 

As I write this piece, in fact, I’ve just come from a fitting with Nunzio Pirozzi, the respected Neapolitan tailor, about the coat. I was wearing it to the appointment, he admired the way the back was made, and we got into a conversation about its heritage. “You’re never too old to learn something new,” he said (I was told) in Italian. 

Goes to show how different these various styles are, and how useful it is to talk about them all in this Style Breakdown series

 

 

House: Liverano & Liverano

Address: Via Dei Fossi 43R, Florence

Site: liverano.com

Cutter: Antonio Liverano

Price of the coat (at time of writing): €14750 (incl VAT)

Starting price of a two-piece suit (at time of writing): €9775 (incl VAT)

Let’s look at the back of this coat first. As we mentioned in the first article in this series, on my Ciardi ulster, styles of coat vary quite a bit between tailors, and not always in the way you’d expect. 

Despite Naples’ reputation for soft and easy tailoring, the Ciardi was quite detailed and tailored in the back. This Liverano coat, from the Florentine tradition, is the opposite: it’s simply a big piece of cloth, folded into one long pleat down the length of the back, and stitched down underneath the belt. 

It’s how a lot of military great coats used to be made. All that material was held in place just by the belt, and you could undo the belt to let it all fan out, creating a big blanket a soldier could sleep under or otherwise wrap themselves up in. 

With modern versions just using the belt would probably be too messy, but even with a hidden stitch under the belt, there is a freedom and flow to this Liverano coat. It’s messier than the Ciardi, as the photography shows, but it’s also easier to wear over bulky clothing and there is a particular, insouciant joy in wearing it. 

 

 

The style might be a reason (alongside the tweed material) that I find this coat works well with jeans, where a lot of tailored overcoats don’t. 

It’s also in keeping with the Florentine attitude to tailoring, which is often one of rustic elegance: clothes that are very well made, with lots of hand work, but in ways that make them stronger rather than more decorative. Ones that can be worn on the farm as well as the city, but in their way are just as well-made as anything from Milan. 

The way the shoulder is made also expresses the same philosophy. Although it doesn’t have the ‘spalla camicia’ of Ciardi, there is actually less wadding than the Neapolitan coat, and the material drops very naturally from the shoulder. It’s a simple, easy style. 

I should say, by the way, that one of the disadvantages of such a light material (15/16oz) is that it creases more, particularly in folds along the weave lines. Although the photograph above exaggerates this slightly, that’s what you can see in those lines down the sleeve. 

I should also remind readers that with all the photos, I deliberately don’t press anything in advance but shoot it naturally, after many weeks of wear. I wore this to the shoot, on the London Underground, and this is how it looked afterwards. 

 

 

In many other ways the Liverano style is similar to Ciardi. The shoulder width is similar, as is the buttoning point, as is the back length. The biggest other difference is probably the angle of the gorge, as we alluded to last time

The gorge is where the collar and lapel meet. An ulster coat is defined by the roughly horizontal line of the top of the lapel, unlike the upwards point of a peak. But, some ulsters point subtly down, others are flat, others a little up. It varies but it is quite a visual cue and helps define the overall style. 

While the angle of the lapel is similar on both coats, the Ciardi’s collar points slightly downwards, while the Liverano runs slightly upwards. As a result, the Liverano has a larger gap between the two. 

The Liverano collar is also made of two pieces, with a stand in the back, unlike the Ciardi, which means it stands up a little more easily. I like wearing it in this manner particularly, and have shown some shots in that style. 

 

 

A last detail I like is the turnback cuff. I’d never noticed the difference, to be honest, until the tailor I was working with on this series highlighted it. 

The Liverano cuff has its seam on the outside of the arm, rather than the inside. This means you can see it, it’s not hidden, which some tailors might dislike as it’s not as neat. But it also feels more natural, as there is a seam anyway on the outside of the sleeve. It looks like you might actually have folded the sleeve back. 

A useful way to think of these different approaches is perhaps as different tailoring languages. No language is right or wrong, but they express things in different ways. And just as importantly, each is consistent, coherent. 

This is where tailors can get into trouble when try to mix styles, or change their style, I think. It’s a little like someone with a clipped British accent suddenly using Californian slang: it jars, it sounds odd. All languages evolve of course, but they tend to do so naturally and over some length of time. The best tailoring traditions have done the same thing.  

For more details on this coat, see the original review here. You can also see all details on Liverano on their brand page

 

 

Style breakdown:

  • Shoulder width: 6¾ inches
  • Shoulder padding: Light
  • Sleevehead: Natural
  • Lapel width: 6 inches (DB ulster, so flat)
  • Gorge line: Horizontal
  • Collar width (at gorge): 3 inches
  • Gorge height: 3½ inches
  • Outbreast pocket height: 12 inches 
  • Buttoning point: 19½ inches
  • Wrap: 4½ inches
  • Back length: 47 inches

Other clothes shown:

Coat shown below with reader Ben, the subject of our recent profile article here

 

 

B&Tailor: Real bespoke, distinctive style

B&Tailor: Real bespoke, distinctive style

Monday, February 5th 2024
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When I travelled to Korea back in December, one of the places I was keenest to visit was B&Tailor. Because, like many people, I’d been impressed for years at what I’d seen from Chad Park and his colleagues, but hadn’t had the best experiences in Europe. The agent they worked with here hadn’t worked well, and it had left a good few people with bad associations. 

Yet the work always looked good from afar, and Chad’s style came across well on Instagram - a combination of old-world influences and modern touches that created a genuinely distinctive look (something rare in the world of bespoke tailoring). 

There is also something about following a tailor on the other side of the world that makes you a little unsure what’s going on. Is the work actually that good? Is it all just artful photography? We all know how easy it is to position a suit just so and make the fit look pin-perfect. 

I’d heard good things from friends in New York, where B&Tailor do trunk shows, but there had been nothing in Europe to see in person. Hence my keen interest when I finally arrived at the shop in Gangnam, Seoul. 

Gangnam literally means south of the river in Korean - it’s a very large area, not a neighbourhood. But the word does indicate something culturally, because this area is all essentially new development from the past 30 years. The river Han (above) is huge, and it took a long time for there to enough bridges for the south to be viable. 

B&Tailor relocated five years ago to a new building in Cheongdam, the richest areas of rich Gangnam. The store is set a block back from the highway, which is dotted with sports cars and lined with designer-brand HQs. It’s like Beverly Hills if they started from scratch. And the money men were in charge. 

The B&Tailor shop is quiet and modest by comparison, but still impressive. It has four floors, with the third the tailoring workshop. Chad’s father, Jung yul Park, who started as a tailor back in 1967, runs the operation here and while we had no language in common, he was obviously proud to show off the work. 

In the 20 years since Chad and his brother joined the business - and gave it the style it has today - B&Tailor has expanded into quite a lot of ready-to-wear and made-to-measure. 

I always thought of the RTW as not me, as I’d seen largely the jeans and chinos, which were more Italian in style - not made in the more robust fabrics I prefer. But there is more to it than this, as you can see from the online selection

The tailoring is made to their house block and there is the kind of tailoring-adjacent designs we see from The Anthology and similar brands with their own tailoring: blousons, field jackets, safari jackets, often made in tailoring materials. 

The made to measure is also an interesting option, given this is operated by stores rather than the B&Tailor team, so there is better access. It isn’t made fully by hand like the bespoke, but you get the B&Tailor style and that local connection. I’ve listed the locations and prices for MTM and bespoke at the bottom of this piece.

The bespoke tailoring is quite soft and comfortable, but style-wise is more influenced by Milan than Naples. Chad’s brother studied at Istituto Marangoni and Istituto Carlo Secoli, and that 1930s-50s elegance that influenced them is closer to Milan today than the south. 

You can see this most obviously in the wider shoulders and body shape of the B&Tailor jackets, which have a generous chest and gently suppressed waist. But it’s most expressive in the lapels: wider shapes with larger notches, more horizontal peaks on the double-breasteds. B&Tailor were doing lower gorges before anyone else.

That extends into trousers and other clothing. Generally the trousers are higher waisted and pleated, and the shirts have longer point collars. Although Chad was keen to point out that most of these things can be changed - my mid-rise flat-front trousers would not be a problem, for example. 

This openness and flexibility is key, I think. It’s all very well loving vintage tailoring, but you need to be able to adapt to a modern business customer, to work with their preferences on non-essential things, and to evolve over time. This is where livable style comes from. 

“It’s interesting, you can really see how the customer has evolved in the past 20 years,” says Chad. “People prefer more comfortable clothes, which isn’t a problem, but they also prefer more casual ones, so they want well-cut knitwear and easy trousers alongside the suits and ties.

“Korea is a country that learns quickly - styles have evolved, but so has the craft. The standard of sewing is much better now than it used to be, as are the fabrics.”

I thought the latter point was interesting. It explains a lot about the appeal of Korean bespoke, as is something I’ve observed in the work I’ve seen - yet I don’t think has happened in the same way in similar Asian markets, such as Hong Kong or Singapore. Korea’s growth and luxury-fashion influence, as well as that keenness to learn, seems to have spurred a higher level of tailoring. 

The jackets and coats I saw around the shop backed this up, and influenced my decision to have a double-breasted coat made with Chad. I was after a fairly standard navy DB, but with their style and in a great Fox cloth (CT10). 

Interestingly, Chad used an old-fashioned method of measuring with elastic straps across the chest and waist. I’ve only seen images of this before, but it’s intended to set the position of the chest and waist to measure everything against, as well as to give a visual cue for the balance. 

I’ll review the coat soon. In the meantime, I’m pleased to say that everything I saw at B&Tailor corrected my previous impression and assuaged any concerns. It’s an exciting place for bespoke tailoring to be coming from. 

Bespoke details:

  • Suits start at 4,000,000 KRW (£2360) in Seoul
  • Abroad, prices are set by the partner retailers - in New York (Notice of Appearance), Beijing (Principle M) and Singapore (Last & Lapel). Bespoke suit price in New York is $3800

MTM details:

  • Suits start at 2,800,000 KRW (£1655) in Seoul
  • Abroad, prices are set by the partner retailers, as above.  MTM suit price in New York is $2800

bntailor.com

How was Dry January for you?

How was Dry January for you?

Friday, February 2nd 2024
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I didn't buy any clothes this month. That wouldn't be a hardship for most people and it wasn't much of a hardship for me, but I was surprised how much it changed my perspective.  

On the day after publishing our article announcing our Dry January project, I was in Trunk in Marylebone as I’d had an appointment with Bryceland’s up the street. I was looking at a couple of different pairs of socks, reading the fibre content and trying to remember which brand I’d liked last time. 

And then it hit me - it didn’t matter, because I couldn’t buy them. I couldn’t buy anything this month. Now, it wouldn’t be a big thing if I did allow myself socks, underwear and other basics as part of this project. Many people do as part of similar challenges. But the principle was rather freeing. I was now just an observer, considering the clothes in a completely abstract manner.

It felt quite relaxing as I wandered around the rest of the store, and then popped into John Simons. I was slightly afraid I’d stumble onto a once-in-a-lifetime piece of vintage, never to be offered again, but I didn’t. There were a few nice pieces, but they would be there next month. There was no hurry. 

I am of course in a different position to many readers. I am professionally, necessarily, around beautiful clothes all the time. But I also know friends who say they look at clothes online pretty much every day - that it’s a form of entertainment to research something, to follow it on eBay, and then to buy it. I found it refreshing and calming to have all that taken away. 

There was a slightly embarrassing moment a week later, when I ordered a shirt online and then had to return it. I didn’t remember in time to actually cancel the order, so I had to wait and receive it, want it, then sent it back. I almost wrote to the company to explain what was going on, that I was sure I’d buy it next month, but that sounded complicated and in the end I chickened out.

Here’s another interesting thing: it’s now February 2nd and I haven’t bought anything either. There wasn’t a queue of things waiting to be bought, a row of browser tabs waiting with shopping baskets, longing for completion. Nothing felt that necessary, nothing preyed on my mind for more than a few days, before fading into the subconscious.

I’m sure that will change. If I actively think about it, there is a pair of Yuketen boots in my size on eBay, and I wanted to get another Anderson & Sheppard blanket for my daughter’s room. But for the moment there’s a pleasant feeling of separation from all that, a slowing down and a change of focus.

The vast majority of readers will not, I’m sure, buy as many clothes as me or have a problem not buying anything. But I do know some that do and that do. And I think it’s a useful way to highlight more generally the need to buy carefully and considerately. 

On Permanent Style, it spurred myself and other writers to focus on things like repairing, ageing and re-using in our articles last month. In fact there were so many ideas that several are going to push over into February, including one on an Hermes briefcase, one on a reader’s Wax Walker, and one on the care-and-repair one-stop-shop that is The Valet.

Rather like me, the effect has not switched off as soon as the calendar turned over. 

Dry January was apparently a bigger thing for alcohol than it ever has been before. Pubs in the UK reported lower takings and the campaign group Alcohol Change reported a large number of people signing up. 

We can probably take the latter with a pinch of salt, and I don’t want to see any pubs go under. But interestingly, the response from a lot of pubs has been to offer more non-alcoholic drinks, or to expand their business into family activities and other events, which feels healthy. It could be a way they could reclaim that position as the ‘third space’, the public space that has perhaps been taken over by coffee shops in recent years. 

It’s good to step back, to be forced to change perspective. Thinking about it, our summer holiday effectively performs for the same role - for two to three weeks I’m completely cut off from clothing and retail, and it always feels like a healthy circuit-breaker. 

Would I do it again? Quite possibly. Perhaps I might set myself a limit, like only things that are one-off like vintage, and then only one or two. 

I’m not sure I would do it every year on Permanent Style, just because a twelfth of the year is quite a lot. There are several pieces I’ve been wanting to write this month, and couldn’t. If there’s been any frustration during Dry January, it’s been that - rather than not being able to shop.

But I genuinely think it has made a difference to how I look at clothing, and that surprised me. I didn’t think I needed much of a change - that this was mostly about Permanent Style and the message I wanted it to project. But it has given me a different perspective, just by imposing an artificial restriction. It feels calm, useful, and healthy. 

How was it for you?

Cifonelli jacket: Finding a new home for good things

Cifonelli jacket: Finding a new home for good things

Wednesday, January 31st 2024
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One topic I thought it would be good to cover during Dry January was giving away clothes that you found - for whatever reason - no longer worked for you. Finding good homes for good things, essentially. 

A good example of this is the suede jacket that Cifonelli made for me in 2015. Although I adored the craft and the material, I found over time that I didn't take to the style - it was a little too closely fitted, a little too stylised in its finishing and lapels - and I wore it less and less. I also put on a little weight and the already tight fit became unwearably so.

This is of course frustrating, particularly for such an expensive piece of clothing. But I think I maintain a good hit rate for commissioning clothing, and it would be much more frustrating if it was never worn by anybody. 

So I thought to ask André if he'd like it, both because it might be more his style, and because the fit could work well - although Andre is at least a size smaller than me, closer to a 36, he also wears things a little big, a touch oversized. You can see our piece on his style here

André himself didn't find it that easy to slot into his wardrobe though, so I thought we could do a nice piece together - where Andre himself could also tell his story of coming to love the blazer, and giving it the home it deserved. 

Here’s André.

André Larnyoh:

To be honest, I was a bit surprised when Simon asked me if I wanted this jacket. At the time, I was unsure whether the fit or the style was very me. However, I did find it a beautiful thing to look at, and what’s a wardrobe without a few unusual pieces that have stories behind them? It's why people buy vintage. 

Like Simon said, the craft and material of Cifonelli are stunning - the question for me was how to wear something like this. When do you? It’s almost too nice to be worn out all the time, but that’s also what it deserves. 

The first outfit I remember wearing it with was on the day I got it, out of excitement - with a pair of taupe high-twist trousers and a denim western shirt. Very seventies film director. All I was missing was a baseball cap. That clash of the ruggedness of a denim shirt with suede usually works, but the cut of the jacket threw the whole thing off.

I did feel good in it though, which was a big plus. I was wearing something that was special and it lifted my mood accordingly. It’s one of those pieces  that can change the way you walk around. Also everyone in the pub that evening wanted to stroke the jacket, which is always nice. 

As the suede isn’t the lightest, however, and we were approaching the height of summer, it didn’t see much wear after that and went into storage. Every now and then I would unpack it from my suitcase, though, just to look at it and try it on with things. I couldn’t quite crack the code, but it represented a challenge.

In my mind, a suede blazer is a VERY specific item of clothing to own, one which carries many and varied connotations (remember my whole spiel about associations?) – if not Francis Ford Coppola in the seventies, then the bad side of the nineties/early aughts. It doesn’t need to be said that Cifonelli’s jacket is a long way from what I saw hanging in my uncle’s wardrobe growing up, but I was also aware that wearing it with the wrong items could say that I was off to see So Solid Crew. 

This was the biggest challenge - a suede blazer is a strong piece and can easily take over an outfit, turning it into something else. But the colour of the suede was also lighter than I’m usually comfortable with. A chocolate brown would’ve been a lot easier to pair with my usual colour palette, and it made it stand out against my darker pieces.

Finally the cut of the blazer, lovely as it is, was the opposite of what I had expected. It was made more like a suit jacket than a relaxed, unstructured blazer, which would have been easier to just chuck on as well as closer to the type of tailoring I preferred

The jacket was also quite pristine, with none of the worn-in qualities that can give a suede jacket character – sagging pockets, wrinkling on the sleeves, faded patches etc. There was a lot of wearing to be done. All of these things were proving to be a considerable block for me. 

The turning point was last Christmas, when I saw Hugh Grant in a similar suede blazer in the Christmas classic Bridget Jones’s Diary. There were no style cues here - it was worn with a blue poplin shirt that summed up the nineties look I wanted to avoid - but it spurred me to try again. 

This time, my main idea was simplicity: if the foundation of what I wore was simple, my thinking went, then the jacket would do all the talking yet not stand out too much.  

A dark navy crewneck and a pair of matching wool trousers managed to balance the colour of the suede. The more casual combination also took away a lot of the formality that came with the cut, making the whole thing look more relaxed. I was actually surprised by how much dark colours worked with this fairly strong shade of brown. 

Emboldened by the success I went on a spree of trying it with other things in my wardrobe, aiming to stick to the winning formula - and I learned a few solid points when it came to wearing the Cifonelli. 

Keeping the foundational colour palette dark was better than something like earth tones. The latter was doable - I tried it with a pair of olive Studio Nicholson trousers and an ecru knit from Rubato - but it veered on too much of a look

But, wearing knitwear underneath has proved to be a very safe bet, as opposed to a shirt. I’ve found some shirts can work - usually relaxed ones like LEJ’s Come up to The Studio shirt. But western or work shirts don’t, and neither do smarter shirts with a structured collar. The former already has enough going on with its rugged details, and smart shirts don’t sit right with the vibe that a suede blazer gives off.   

It’s always a little exciting to introduce something different into your wardrobe and ultimately I’m glad that, despite the initial ups and downs, the Cifonelli jacket has managed to establish a place in mine. I’m also excited as to what other pairings present themselves over time, and how the jacket ages with really regular wear. 

Thanks Simon!

Cifonelli were fully aware of this gift, the process and of the resulting coverage

André's other clothes:

- Knit: Bryceland’s Shaggy Dog
- Trousers: Drake’s MTM
- Shoes (out of shot): Crockett & Jones Cavendish in black calf 
- Glasses: Cubitts

Layering up for travel: Shawls, cardigans and vests

Layering up for travel: Shawls, cardigans and vests

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It was effing freezing in Paris two weeks ago: officially minus five, felt like minus ten. I know that’s not extreme if you live in Sweden or North Dakota, but it’s not the kind of weather you’re used to in London, I can tell you. It was bitter. 

I was there for a couple of days, and didn’t really want to take multiple outfits. One coat, one pair of boots. But layering was key for the weather - the ability to shed layers between the streets and the metro and the shop, or at least unbutton them. 

The outfit shown here was my solution: 

  • PS Donegal coat on the outside, but with the fur liner I had made at Yves Salomon a couple of years ago, which of course was removable
  • Shawl cardigan underneath that, of the kind of thickness that fits under a coat 
    • Brown tweed jacket as a more formal alternative
  • PS white T-shirt under the shawl, very comfortable and a good thickness
    • White PS Oxford as a more formal alternative  
  • A white vest under the T-shirt, as an optional layer for warmth
  • A big cashmere shawl over the top, which could be wrapped closely around the face and neck, left to hang, or folded and slip into a bag. Three options

So there were six layers on the upper body at most (shawl/coat/fur/cardigan/tee/vest), three at the least (coat/cardigan/tee). On the second day it was warmer than expected, so the shawl and the vest went in the bag.

The nice thing about these layers is that they could be unbuttoned as well as taken off. So when you get on public transport you can unwind the shawl, undo the coat, unbutton the cardigan, and just be left with the T-shirt layer. It avoids that situation of being too hot inside but too cold outside.

Of course I also had a black PS Watch Cap with me, as being a baldy I’d freeze with nothing on the head. And the black jeans were backed up with some over-the-calf wool socks.

It worked pretty well (which of course is why I’m writing about it) and the style combination was satisfying too. 

There’s nothing I like better at the moment than dark, muted colours that still have personality, and the neutral set of black boots, grey jeans and white T-shirt was given that by the taupe cardigan, speckly brown donegal, and toffee colour of the shawl. 

It makes me happy. 

Changing the cardigan for a tweed jacket and the tee for a shirt changed the formality quite a bit, which was helpful. And if I wanted to I could have brought a pair of charcoal flannels to smarten up the lower half. 

Of course, it also feels wonderful having that fur under the coat, wrapping that massive piece of cashmere around your neck. We talk a lot on PS about premium materials and it’s often the thing that cheaper brands sacrifice, prioritising design. So it’s nice to really appreciate them, and you do when they’re practical as well as pleasurable.  

I can do something separately on shawls and wearing them if people are interested - it’s not the easiest for a neatness-obsessed menswear guy, but it can be satisfying. 

It’s also something I’ve been wearing for a while. If I look back at old images like this one at Pitti eleven years ago, I wouldn’t wear the hat, the glasses or probably the suit (in that setting), but I’d still wear the shawl. 

Some people get to delete the pictures of how they used to dress. Mine remain frighteningly public. I guess at least it shows there’s a positive journey you can go on. 

Clothes shown, with links where still available:

Not shown:

Charlie Borrow pilot bag: How great things age

Charlie Borrow pilot bag: How great things age

Friday, January 26th 2024
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Lucas has had this canvas bag from Charlie Borrow for years, and I’ve always admired its rugged quality, particularly when we’ve traveled together. So I thought it would make a good entry in our How Great Things Age series, which of course has particular pertinence as part of our Dry January project.

Lucas has had it since 2017, and used it a lot - every day for long periods and (he estimates) probably three days a week on average for those seven years. It looks really great for it.

The body is a 24oz military-spec canvas, with the handles and strap similarly heavy-duty. The hardware is solid brass, and there’s a brass key clip on the outside.

The bag is unlined, with one external pocket sitting between the handle straps and two pockets on the inside (one canvas, one leather). The straps run underneath the body, which is the strongest method as well as a nice design element. There are lots of other details on Charlie's site, as with all the other products.

As I asked Lucas about the bag, he began looking through his phone at pictures of it over the years.

The first one from 2017 shows it sitting on the floor of the London Underground, and it almost looks like a different bag. The canvas is green, there is no patina or colour variation. It’s flat and plain.

Subsequent photos all show it sitting on the ground somewhere, and this seems telling. Lucas has never been gentle with it, and has only become better.

“When I was travelling round Europe for Drake’s, doing wholesale, I’d basically live out of the bag,” he says. “The suitcase I checked in was crammed full of Drake’s samples, so there was no room for me.

“The size meant I could fit three shirts, a pair of trousers and some underwear, plus toiletries, laptop etc. And that was me for the trip, going through France, Austria, Switzerland.”

“The nice thing about the shape is that when you carry it as a day bag, with the clothes all left at the hotel, it doesn’t look out of place. A weekender style or something equally big in a different shape would look odd, but this doesn’t.”

The flatter shape also makes it easy to store, and the shoulder strap has came in useful. “I know a lot of bags have a shoulder strap, but it had so many uses for me - it meant I could carry the bag across my back when I was hauling the suitcase, loop it round something on a train for a little security, and take it off when I didn’t need it.”

When I meet Lucas in town he often cycles in, and it’s this bag that’s always slung across him.

“The most punishment it’s taken is probably last year when I was in Mexico,” he says. “I bought too much stuff, so had to ram this full of all my clothes and check it in alongside my suitcase, then use a shopping bag for hand luggage.

“I was a bit anxious how it would come out the other side but it was fine. There’s one place where it looks like there’s a hole, but the material hasn’t actually broken, it’s just been pushed apart by something sharp. The fibres are all intact.”

The bag-maker Charlie Borrow is better known for his bridle-leather totes (above), which are similarly tough and straightforward in make, usually unlined with riveted handles.

He has a workshop near Arnold Circus in Shoreditch, where he also works on old chairs, reupholstering or replacing covers. It’s a lovely space, and I’d recommend visiting if you have the chance. Although it’s open most days, it’s always worth making an appointment in advance so Charlie knows you’re coming.

Lucas’s bag is a standard design, loosely based on a pilot’s helmet bag, but Charlie also does different designs and requests - as we saw recently with reader Ben, who is also a customer and had a crossbody bag made to particular proportions (below).

I’ve never had a tote like one of Charlie’s in bridle leather, but it would be interesting to try some time. They’re not cheap, but it’s great to have the store and the quality is certainly top notch - if Lucas’s experience testifies to anything, it’s that.

In terms of functionality it would be similar to my much-loved Frank Clegg tote, but the look would be a little more rugged and workwear-adjacent. I also like the way the natural leathers acquire a patina - it happens within a few weeks, going from pale pink to a rich tan, highlighting all the wrinkles and stretch marks.

It would probably be excessive given I have that Clegg and an old LL Bean one as well, but perhaps one day.

Lucas’s pilot bag, meanwhile, is sitting on top of his suitcase as I write this, in Florence airport as we wait for our flight home from Pitti. And it looks so nice - a great example of quality construction that has aged very well, and will only carry on doing so.

Lucas Nicholson runs the Permanent Style shop and has worked on PS for the past three years. Readers that use the support service on the shop will have benefited from his advice. He has also written for PS in the past, here.

The pilot bag starts at £350 and a typical bridle-leather tote from Charlie Borrow is £875. Everything is made to order, but orders can be made through the website. Lead times are typically 4-6 weeks, although are slightly longer at the moment. Contact Charlie for an accurate lead time. 

charlieborrow.com

Repairing a rug jacket – with denim-like darning

Repairing a rug jacket – with denim-like darning

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This coat has a good story behind it, and is a nice one for Dry January I think, as it shows different ways clothes can be remade, repurposed and repaired. 

I bought it at the workwear-oriented shop Jinji in Paris. It had been made by them under their in-house label, some of which re-used materials to make new garments, usually in Japan. This particular piece used an old Navajo rug, hence the distinctive double cross.

I actually found an old illustration featuring a similar rug, below: a cartoon mocking the kind of rich American that used to buy textiles like these at local trading posts.

Jinji had had the coat in their shop for a while, sitting on a mannequin. The rug had proved too thick for the construction and had eventually ripped in various places, including under the sleeves, in the collar and around the buttons. It wasn’t really for sale. 

I loved it though, and was pretty sure I could repair it. So I asked to buy it and ended up taking it away that afternoon with a little trepidation, unsure how it would work out. 

My first port of call was the tailor Fred Nieddu, as I knew he’d appreciate the piece and might know someone who could help. He put me onto David Claxton, who repairs denim as well as making his own. 

The repair work I’m highlighting here is all David’s work, though Fred also helped with some functional points, such as lowering the hip pockets to make them more usable, and doing the same with an internal breast pocket. 

Above you can see the state the coat was in originally. Although the cotton yarn is very coarse, being a rug it's quite loosely set, which means it has pulled apart at the stress points: seams, edges, button holes. 

David told me he was initially unsure it could be repaired at all, because the seams were so far gone. The only solution might have been to cut down the material, under the arms for example, and sew new seams. But then the sleeve might have become too narrow. 

However, he eventually decided to try putting pieces of black denim underneath, and stitching the existing material on top of that. This is the same method you’d use on a big rip in a pair of jeans, putting new material underneath and then darning over the top.

Below you can see in the inside and outside of the finished sleeve. 

Repairing jeans like this is how David started out, at Levi’s bespoke under Lizzie Radcliffe. He usually uses denim, but also sometimes something softer like linen. 

“A challenge is always matching the yarn to the denim, because the yarn won’t be the same kind of indigo dye that the jeans are made of - you have to anticipate how the denim and the yarn itself will fade,” he says. 

With my jacket, David used a mix of red and black yarn, echoing the material. The white you can see along the seams is part of the original weave, which just became more prominent as the material pulled apart. 

With denim, a specialised darning machine is often used with a cylinder to you sew onto. I’ve seen these before and they’re pretty cool - the material isn’t drawn through like on a regular sewing machine, so the sewer can move the material in any pattern they want. The cylinder is there to help slide material onto, such as the leg of a pair of jeans.

“I didn’t use that with this jacket, because the material was too heavy,” says David. “I was afraid the weight of it would pull the two sides apart and make the seams uneven.

He did use one similar method though. “The key to repairs like this is to spread out the density of the stitching,” he says. “You need a lot of strength around the break point, or the hole, but if you use that same density everywhere the material will become too stiff. So you reduce the density as you radiate out, to create flexibility.”

The jacket should now be stronger than the original because the material isn’t held together by a single seam, but almost made like a solid piece. And of course other repairs can be done in the future. 

I’m pleased, because I rather like the design. I don’t wear many things that are this bold, but in these colours and this simple make, I like it. I find the way the sleeves are finished in blocks of black particularly pleasing, as well as the symmetry of the crosses. 

It’s stiff to wear, but not uncomfortably so. I think anyone that has worn heavier, traditional tailoring or workwear fabrics would find it wearable. And touches like that in-breast pocket make it more functional. 

I’ve shown it here with my vintage Levi’s and a Real McCoy’s sweatshirt, which are pretty standard for me and probably the default when trying out bolder pieces on top. You could even say - one for long-time PS readers - that it’s a workwear equivalent of The Italian Background

The other clothes shown are a black PS watch cap, Alden snuff-suede boots on the Modified Last, and a white PS Tapered T-shirt

David Claxton can be contacted for repair work on Instagram @claxies_official

 

Journal article on my children

Journal article on my children

Monday, January 22nd 2024
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I wrote a little piece for the Rubato journal this weekend, about how good my children's instinct is for clothing. They nearly always give a good steer, I think because they're both very observant and know me very well.

You can read it here. The coat featured is of our English Tweed, worn with a Rubato knit and shot in New York last year by Oliver.

Eight outfits I liked at Pitti – and why

Eight outfits I liked at Pitti – and why

Friday, January 19th 2024
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Pitti Uomo this year felt busier than last, but that was a little deceptive - two of the big buildings were still closed for lack of exhibitors, and more squeezed into the main pavilion. The show’s future still feels a little uncertain. 

My time was evenly split between fittings with several tailors - including two that were over from Korea so we could finish those commissions - and seeing suppliers. Although there too, there are fewer of interest than pre-Covid. 

On the plus side, there were plenty of outfits to interest and stimulate. Not as big a contingent of Japanese buyers still, which is a real lack, but plenty of tourists and others. The parties seem to get bigger almost in proportion to the reduction in makers.

Here are a few of my favourites, with notes and thoughts. If anyone wants the specific brands shown, let me know and I’ll get them from the people featured. My outfits will be built into separate upcoming articles, as per usual. 

Jamie Ferguson

@jkf_man

I think it’s fair to say Jamie sometimes dresses more simply than he used to, and I really love the combinations where the interest is all in the details. 

A Fair Isle cardigan is never an easy thing to wear, given the strong patterns and colours, but this is a great way to do it - a simple background of white shirt, beige chinos and brown belt, with everything worn in a very relaxed manner (rolled sleeves, undone buttons). 

The interesting details are the western touches on the shirt (snaps, pockets) and the double knees on the Carhartt chinos. Of course, as with all these outfits, it’s easy to make the outfit more everyday by just going for a regular shirt and chinos.

Chad Park

@chad_park_

Chad from B&Tailor wears quite a lot of pale tailoring combinations, which look good on him but can be a little much for me. There are often colours in there I like the look of together and want to emulate though. 

Here I wouldn’t necessarily wear the pale suit, beige coat and white rollneck together, but I love the mint green scarf with it, and the black accessories. I have a similarly coloured knit from Rubato I might try with those colours. 

Jack Collins

@mrcollins92

Jack is a reader and attendee at PS events, and I liked this shot of him because it illustrates something I’ve always said about corduroy: that grey works so much better than navy. 

It’s understandable to think navy would be the most versatile option for a cord suit if you don’t want the country colours of brown or green. But navy can look a little dusty, a little old and tired. Grey, on the other hand, always has something sophisticated about it. 

Oliver Dannefalk

@atemporubato

Oliver from Rubato is a good one to watch for ‘casual chic’ forms of dressing, given he rarely wears tailoring but always looks well-dressed - as could be said to be the Rubato philosophy. 

Here that’s pale chinos, a navy V-neck, a white T-shirt and a navy DB coat. But interestingly, also a little scarf tucked into the V, which is something I never really do, usually preferring a crewneck. This outfit made me reconsider, as the scarf is both a little easier to keep tucked into a V-neck, and stops that nineties V-neck/T-shirt combination from being boring. 

Buzz Tang

@buzzspoke 

Buzz always does eveningwear well - I tend to prefer his outfits in smarter tailoring than more casual ones. And an interesting question he often tackles is what jackets can double up as both a dinner jacket and a regular sports jacket. It’s a good money-saving idea for those that don’t really want to buy a high-quality dinner jacket only to wear it once a year. 

A black-and-white houndstooth jacket like this is a good option. It wouldn’t be the quietest of sports jackets, but it could be worn with a denim shirt and flannels, and looks perfectly at home with a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and trousers.

Alex Natt

@adnatt

We really need to do a ‘How to dress like’ article on Alex some time. He’s so thoughtful about clothing, and while he wears practical photography gear most of the time, he’s also started wearing more tailoring, very much in his own style. 

This outfit demonstrates the kind of thing he does very well. Good jeans in a good, straight cut; quality shoes in subtle styles; then a really short vintage jacket for a bit of character. Without the short jacket it would all be a little ordinary for menswear, but a reader could easily emulate everything else and not go quite so short on the jacket - classic rather than cropped. The nutty colour of the shetland underneath is lovely too. 

Gustav Vikander

@gustavvikander

Here I was taken with the combination of browns and beige. A brown polo shirt is surprisingly nice to wear - good with greys, with black, with beige and cream, even dark navy. But it’s particularly nice in this combination because it is the less classic, the less expected colour - white or blue or grey would be more standard. 

As with many combinations, it makes me think how the colour would work if reversed as well, for example if I wore my Mueser straw-coloured jacket but with brown trousers and a cream shirt. 

Robert Weng

@r86234

Robert is a good one to watch for tips on working tailoring into casual outfits. And while some accessories or styling points will not be for some PS readers, the foundations are always worth noting. 

Here I can imagine most not wearing the hat or necklace, but the colours are great, and most importantly, it’s a good illustration of how to wear a down jacket over a tailored jacket. Unfortunately this works best on shorter guys (I’ve found) where the down and the tailoring are naturally of similar lengths. 

All photos courtesy of The Anthology 

The bowler hat in the fifties: My grandfather’s blog

The bowler hat in the fifties: My grandfather’s blog

Wednesday, January 17th 2024
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When we cleared out my grandparents’ house last year, we discovered an article my grandfather had written about bowler hats in the late 1950s. 

I've written about him before, publishing an interview in 2012 that talked about what it was like to dress during his life. The ‘black alpaca’ jacket that everyone had for the office stays with me (an ancestor of the shirt-jacket?) as does the practice of trailing new shirt collars in the sea to fade them when he was in the Navy (old hands and Old Money clearly have much in common). 

I never knew he had written about menswear though. He published poetry, but I hadn't seen any prose other than the emails we exchanged over the years (which we also found he had printed out and kept). 

The article is basically a blog post. Around the same length, it gives advice for the novice on wearing a bowler hat, spelling out all the social niceties that I can imagine him absorbing as an employee at Barclays Bank after the War. 

Except that having a good deal of self awareness, there is humour lurking behind every sentence. His tongue is firmly in his cheek. 

I hope you enjoy it. And I still have his last bowler hat by the way. Dating from the late 1960s and made by Lock & Co, it sits on the top shelf in my office, gazing benevolently down at me. 

By John Francis (above right)

If you are thinking of buying a bowler hat today, there are one or two things I think you should know. 

You will, of course, be joining an ever increasing number of men who have responded to the blandishments of the hatters, and there is no doubt that you will look all the better for it. But in buying a bowler, do you quite realise what you will be taking on? I mean, you don’t just go into a shop, ask for a bowler hat, put it on and walk out - there is far more to it than that. 

There is, for instance, in some shops a certain amount of phrenological ritual in getting the thing to fit your bumps, the bowler being a hard hat and unlikely to adapt itself automatically to your cranial irregularities. 

But the mere buying is the simplest part of the operation. It is the responsibilities that go with it that get some people down. You see, it isn’t really a case of you getting a hat, but rather of the bowler hat getting you. And it imposes some pretty severe conditions of service. 

How do you propose wearing it, for example? At a jaunty angle, to give that raffish look? Tut, tut. That will never do. The set must be horizontal, the only possibly tilt being a very slight one forward over the forehead. Very slight. 

And what are you going to wear with it? A raincoat won’t do, you know. It will have to be an overcoat, though if you must have something for a rainy day, then you could get by with one of those stiff, military-looking riding mackintoshes. 

But it would be much better to unroll your umbrella - you have got an umbrella, haven’t you? That is an absolute must - otherwise you might as well give up the whole idea altogether. And you’ll have to carry it all the year round, although in very hot weather, some bowlers don’t mind if you leave the brolly at home and simply carry the hat to town. 

Some trilby and homburg wearers, alas, have few qualms about burying their faces into newspapers as they sit in crowded trains. It’s the sort of thing you can get away with in that sort of hat. But not in a bowler. You just cannot let it down by such behaviour, and if yours is a busy railway line, you had better resign yourself to standing more or less permanently. 

And while on that theme, I might mention that while one doesn’t carry one’s suitcase or parcels in a bowler hat, it is OK to carry other people’s. It may not look right, but it would be even worse to be seen averting your eyes from the old lady struggling with her portmanteau. 

Do you buy fish and chips? Not in a bowler hat you don’t. And you won’t be wearing it when you are doing the shopping - remember the rule about parcels? It applies even more to shopping baskets. 

Do you still want one? Well, jolly good luck to you. You will get used to it. My third bowler is starting to get tired of me now, but I shall very cheerfully go along to see if I can get another one to take me on. 

Sartoria Ciardi ulster coat: Style Breakdown

 

This ulster-style overcoat was made for me by Sartoria Ciardi, the Neapolitan tailor, in 2020. Although I’ve had a few pieces of tailoring from Ciardi in the past five years, this is my only coat from them. 

It has proved to be one of my favourites, as much for the material as the style. The material is a heavy wool, the British Warm from Holland & Sherry (9819306), although it’s really the colour that has proved so successful – a taupe that manages to be both classic and interesting, smart and casual. 

The ulster style is a common one in Naples (at least going on the number of tailors who offer it by default) and less so among English tailors, who tend towards peak-lapelled DBs. We’ve written in the past here about the different types of coat, if you want a refresher. 

The differences are important, because the point of ‘style breakdown’ articles is to compare different tailors’ styles, but the styles of coat in this new series will also vary. As mentioned in the article introducing the series, this will reduce the number of points of direct comparison, but it will also open up the scope of inquiry, and so hopefully make it more interesting in general.

We will start with three ulsters though, from Ciardi, Liverano and Cifonelli, so there direct comparisons will be possible.

 

 

House: Sartoria Ciardi

Address: Via Giuseppe Fiorelli 12, Naples

Site: www.sartoriaciardi.com

Cutter: Enzo Ciardi

Price (at time of writing): €5100 (incl VAT)

Suit starting price: €4000 (incl VAT)

 

The aspect of coat design that most defines an ulster is its gorge line – where the collar and lapel meet. 

On a normal double-breasted coat, this would slope upwards and the peaked lapel would be much wider than the collar. On an ulster, the gorge line is horizontal or even slopes downwards, and the lapel and collar are almost the same width. 

This makes it easier to wear the collar up, as the points of the lapel are less likely to poke the wearer under the chin. It is possible to make a peak-lapelled coat that works in this manner, but the ulster is easier and is more casual thanks to its patch or postbox pockets. It was originally more of a simple coverall, and still retains some of that feel. 

 

 

Ulsters vary in how this gorge line is cut. With the Ciardi coat, the gorge slopes very slightly down, is quite closed, and starts quite high on the chest. 

We’ll see this more clearly when we have the context of other ulsters in this series, but those three things combine to create a very particular look. The more closed gorge on the Ciardi, for instance, makes it look a little smarter to my eye. 

I also know some people prefer the gorge line to be more horizontal, believing it to be more flattering. Personally I see less of a difference there, but I do think that if it slopes downwards, it helps if it starts higher up, as the Ciardi does. 

Overall, a good rule of thumb is that anything that points at – and so emphasises – the shoulder is a good thing. Very sloped lines like that of a great coat, do not do this. 

 

 

As with many of the coats we’ll cover, however, the most interesting area is the back. 

A lot of bespoke coats build extra room and fullness into the back, to make it easier to get on and off and to aid movement when worn. This has the knock-on effect of being rather flattering, with all that excess gathered under the belt at the waist, then flaring out in the skirt. It makes your back big and your waist small. 

Tailors vary quite a bit in how they deal with this fullness, however. The back can have various different combinations of darts and box pleats (closed at both ends) and also some excess that is simply left to be gathered by the belt.

 

 

Given the reputation of Neapolitan tailoring for softness and casualness, you might expect the Ciardi to be quite simple. But it’s actually fairly complicated. 

Like a Florentine coat, the Ciardi has one long pleat that runs all the way down the length of the back. But it then has two additional box pleats in the middle, one on either side. Those pleats end in 5cm darts, rather than simply being tacked closed. And the central pleat does not end under the belt, as is more usual, but in line with those lower darts, around the level of the hips.

I should say that in my experience, the various ways of finishing the back don’t make much difference to comfort. The most important thing is how much fullness there is to begin with, and then how long and deep that central pleat is. What’s done either side makes little difference. So we’re largely talking about aesthetic points. 

 

 

One way in which the Ciardi is quite simple – but still unusual – is the construction of the collar. 

The collar is simply one piece of material folded over, where most have some form of insert on the back to give it shape. And there is no dart or cut underneath either.

As with the rest of the style breakdown series, I worked with a tailor to analyse these kinds of technical details, and they highlighted this point. Without either the insert or a cut under the collar, a lot of ironwork is required to shape it. 

And that ironwork has to be very precise, as you have to create a curve that perfectly meets the line of the lapel on either side. You need to work it in stages, letting the material dry out between each one to see where it settles. 

 

 

Elsewhere, the things that give the coat personality are its curved breast pocket, very natural sleevehead, and two lines of stitching around the edges. Like the rest of the finishing, this stitching is good by Neapolitan standards but certainly not as neat as English or North Italian tailors. 

There’s also the turnback cuff, which opts to have its seam on the inside rather than the outside of the sleeve. You need to pick one, and most tailors go for the outside, as we shall find in subsequent pieces. The Ciardi way does have the advantage of making the cuff look cleaner, however. 

The next coat in this series will be my Liverano Ulster, in a week’s time. For more on the background to this series, including how the measurements below are taken, see the introduction here. The whole Style Breakdown series can be seen here

Other photos of this coat (including with collar up) here.

 

 

Style breakdown

  • Shoulder width: 6½ inches
  • Shoulder padding: None
  • Sleevehead: Natural
  • Lapel width: 6 inches (DB ulster, so flat)
  • Collar width (at gorge): 3½ inches
  • Gorge height: 3 inches
  • Outbreast pocket height: 12½  inches (shoulder seam to bottom of pocket welt)
  • Buttoning point: 19 inches
  • Wrap (distance between waist buttons): 4 inches
  • Back length: 46 inches

Other clothes shown:

  • Anderson & Sheppard suit in end-on-end grey worsted
  • D’Avino shirt in superfine pale-blue poplin
  • Drake’s printed silk tie
  • Cleverley imitation brogue shoes
  • Permanent Style Arran charcoal scarf
  • Vintage brown pigskin gloves

 

The Overcoats Style Breakdown series: Introduction 

 

Next week we’ll begin a series of articles that breaks down the style of my bespoke coats, building on the popular 2018 series that looked at suits and jackets. 

That turned into a book, Bespoke Style, which was a great illustration of the rich variety in bespoke, from draped English to precise French to relaxed Neapolitan. 

But with fewer people wearing suits, overcoats feel more relevant than ever, and that seems like the natural next step. I also think a bespoke overcoat is a truly beautiful thing, more versatile often than other tailoring, and probably more likely to be handed down the generations. My coats are my most commonly worn bespoke commissions, and some of my favourites. 

 

 

The interesting thing about bespoke overcoats is that there are fewer obvious differences between tailors, but perhaps more in the details. 

The way the back is constructed, for example, varies hugely. Some like the Florentines use one big pleat all the way down, simply tacking in the middle underneath the belt. Neapolitans are cleaner, perhaps surprisingly, while the French usually try to control everything, with the fullness stitched down in darts. 

There is also a good amount of variation between tailors, and a lot between styles of coat. All Neapolitans don’t make an ulster the same, and a peak-lapelled guard’s coat is very different to either. 

The aim of the series, therefore is not to be as comprehensive as the jackets/suits series, as that would essentially be impossible. Instead, it is to provide readers with the kind of tools that allow them to look at a bespoke coat and work out how and why they like it or they don’t. 

This level of understanding, I find, releases a lot of enjoyment in bespoke. It’s less about arguing over how clean the back of a jacket should be, and other nitpicking forensics; it’s more about appreciating how something is made, what gives it style, and loving it more as a result. 

That’s certainly been my experience with looking at my coats for this series, and I hope it’s yours too. 

 

 

This introductory article is one I’ll refer people back to with any questions about the methodology, so I’ve included a few things below that will apply across the entries. If you have any questions let me know, and I can add them here as well. 

How measurements are taken:

  • Shoulder width: Length of the shoulder seam, from where it meets the collar (the neck point) to where it ends in the sleeve head
  • Gorge height: Distance from the point of the lapel to the shoulder seam, vertically (this is probably misnamed, but it’s what we used in the last series so I’m sticking with it for consistency)
  • Lapel width: From that point of the lapel to the inside edge of the coat, horizontally
  • Buttoning point: From the waist button to the neck point in a straight line; on a DB, from halfway between the two waist buttons, to the neck point.
  • Wrap: On a double breasted, the distance between the middle of the two waist buttons
  • Back length: Length of the central back seam/line, from the bottom of the collar to the hem

My measurements (for context on the above)

  • Height: Six foot / 183cm
  • Chest: 39 inches / 99cm
  • Waist: 33 inches / 84cm
  • Inside leg: 31.5 inches usually (80cm)

Do note that throughout the series, as with the first set, we will be shooting the coats as they are, after years of wear. They have been well cared for, but have not been pressed specifically for the shoots. We feel this is more realistic and natural. The focus is also the style rather than the fit, which will usually have been covered in original reviews of the pieces. 

We’ll start with the first coat, my ulster from Sartoria Ciardi in Naples, next week. Any questions on the clothes pictured, please hold off until then

 

What colour theory can teach you about clothing

What colour theory can teach you about clothing

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Wednesday, January 10th 2024
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by Philipp Fröhlich

Between 1966 and 1970, Barnett Newman, a prominent figure in abstract expressionism, painted four versions of a painting he called ‘Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue’ (above). I assume Newman foresaw the intimidating effect that the large-scale combination of the three primary colours as colour fields could have, as two of the paintings have since been attacked and partially destroyed by vandals.

Recently, I've come across discussions on Permanent Style mentioning the colour wheel and its potential applications in clothing. As a painter myself, I thought I could share some insights based on my experience.

 

Joseph Albers teaching colour theory at Black Mountain College

Joseph Albers, a painter and educator at the renowned Bauhaus academy, published an exceptional book at Yale University Press in 1963, featuring 150 colour experiments. He asserted that: “In visual perception a colour is almost never seen as it really is – as it physically is. This fact makes colour the most relative medium in art. In order to use colour effectively, it is necessary to recognise that colour deceives continually.”

Albers distinguished factual colour (colour in isolation) from actual colour (colour in context). Similarly, I believe we should emphasise contrast rather than isolated colour in regards to clothing. Of course, discussing factual colour in clothing is impossible anyway given things like skin tone, hair colour, eye colour and surroundings always come into play. I suppose the traditional division between country and city clothes has its roots here, too.

 

Johannes Itten at the Bauhaus

Johannes Itten, a Swiss painter and theorist, also a professor at the Bauhaus school, defined seven different colour contrasts. Let’s look at some of them - several have useful applications to how we dress.

The colour wheel, likely familiar from physics or arts classes, comprises the three basic colours: red, yellow, and blue, arranged in a triangle with their respective mixtures in between, resulting in orange, purple, and green (at the most basic level).

The contrast between opposite colours in the circle, such as red and green, is called complementary and is regarded as particularly strong. Each of these tones heightens the effect of the other: green makes red look even more vibrant and vice versa.

 

J.Itten’s colour circle

Strong colours are always hard to wear

In a recent post and comment, there was a suggestion that this contrast might not be as suitable for menswear as the contrast of neighbouring colours on the wheel. However, I disagree.

Any two equally strong colours placed next to each other create a contrast that is only for the bold. David Hockney effectively employs neighbouring colours in his paintings and clothing, achieving an effective, but highly stylised and slightly aggressive pop-art aesthetic.

But this applies equally to complementary colours as it does to those that sit next to each other on the colour wheel, as long as they are all equally strong.

 

David Hockney painting and wearing neighbouring colours of blue and green

Grey conjures up the complementary colour

That’s complementary contrast. The second type is simultaneous contrast.

Here, placing a strong red near a grey causes the red to conjure up its contrasting green tone in the grey, within our retina. You often see this in menswear, when for example a grey flannel suit is worn with a denim workwear shirt or green polo shirt. In these combinations, the neutral grey assumes the role of the contrasting colour, albeit in a very slight way that balances out the harmony.

 

Simultaneous contrast; the grey area appears tinged in the complementary colour of the surrounding tone
Hunter S Thompson wearing a simultaneous contrast
Kamoshita-san wearing a grey flannel suit and contrasting sweater

Black and white can separate colours

You might think that black and white could perform this function in the same way as grey, but this is only true to a certain extent.

Black and white often work more as a separator. While artist Piet Mondrian used the three basic colours in his colour field arrangements, just like Newman, the grid-like black and white structures change the effect in a fundamental way. They are nowhere near as aggressive as ‘Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue’. The black lines and white fields separate the colours and stop them from clashing, in the same way as a belt or white shirt can do.

As discussed often on Permanent Style, the white collar of a shirt or even just the white line of a T-shirt collar separate head and neck in a most effective way, and can make even difficult tones wearable next to the skin.

Francis Bacon using a black collar and Picasso a white T-shirt to separate jersey from skin tone

Different levels of brightness can make colours easier

Colours start to vibrate together when on a similar level of brightness - the effect popularly referred to as clashing. They are much easier to combine when on different levels of brightness. For instance, Colour 8 cordovan loafers, jeans, and a light beige Shetland sweater complement each other well, but they are the same basic colour scheme as Superman’s red, blue and yellow.

The different values of light and darkness remove some of the hue’s ability to clash. Navy instead of mid-blue plays well with other colours, as we all know, and a pink or blue shirt is far easier to wear and combine when it is light in shade.

J.Itten’s original colour sphere with light and dark tones

Desaturated colours are easier too

Another way to achieve greater harmony while maintaining contrasting colours is to move them closer in terms of quality – desaturating them.

To visualise this, let’s substitute the colour wheel with a colour disc. The outside ring is the same, but as you go towards the centre the colours get mixed until they reach a neutral grey in the middle.

The strength of the basic colours lies in the absence of the others. When you mix two together, you still get a strong colour (green, orange or purple), but as soon as you add the third basic colour, the hue gets toned down.

Most of the colours we use in men’s clothing combine well because they are not on the outer ring of the disc. Olive is green with a hint of red; khaki is yellow with some purple mixed in. A chambray shirt looks great with chinos because they both move a little towards the centre. Brown shoes can be worn with many colours because brown contains some parts of all colours.

By meeting on the inner spheres of the disc, we get colours that do contrast, but since they contain a part of all the others, the difference is nowhere near as strong as on the outside circle.

Adobe colour picker with colours desaturating towards the middle
Elsworth Kelly in a desaturated brown and blue contrast
Shuhei Nishiguchi making a little seen complementary contrast of purple and yellow work by desaturating the tones

How much colour is there?

Another of the seven contrasts defined by Itten that can be useful is the one of quantity or proportion.

Two colour blocks provide a very different contrast when one is expanded or shrunken in size. In this way, you can usually get away with stronger hues. An olive-green Barbour jacket with Nantucket reds will be too much for most of us, but the same jacket with a bright red scarf or cap might still work. The infamous power tie is a good example for a contrast of proportion, too. Ties, socks, scarves, and caps are great ways to add colour contrast to an outfit.

 

The red squares have a very different effect depending on their proportion
he thin red line of Peter Doig’s t-shirt contrasts with the green jacket but on a different proportion
Simon wearing the three prime colours, but either desaturated, or on different levels of darkness, or different proportions

Warm and cold enhance each other

Warm/cold contrast is the last of the seven that I’d like to mention. When placed next to a colour, again of a similar lightness, a cold colour enhances a warm colour and vice versa. In painting, this is used quite frequently and, of course, it can be used in regards to clothing, too.

Sometimes this effect can enhance our personal appearance and skin tone. Being very pale-skinned myself, I look a lot healthier in a light blue shirt than a yellow one: the cold blue enhances what warmth I have in my skin tone.

De Kooning looks great in his blue work shirt, also take note the warm/cold contrast in his paintings
Warm/cold colour contrast between André Larnyoh’s coat and shirt

Texture and depth

"Every colour can be described in terms of having three main attributes: hue, saturation, and brightness," states the Pantone website, and being the developer of the first colour matching system that revolutionised designing and printing, they should probably know.

Of course, this is a rather abstract way of speaking about colours. Science defines hue as light of a particular wavelength, a part of the visible spectrum. To the artist, colour is the substance of a pigment or paint. Colour in clothing is more akin to artists' tones.

When applied as a dye to fabric, the effect differs from the theoretical due to factors such as texture, lustre, transparency and depth. A worsted navy suit looks distinct from even a very dark denim due to weaving, materials, and how these accept the dye. Although not emphasised by Itten, keeping these factors in mind is essential.

Jackson Pollock’s dark workwear looks very different to Warhol’s black leather and turtleneck, due to materials and lustre

The associations of colour

An different level of colours worth remembering is the primarily psychological or sociological one. I'd call it the associative level of colours.

Pure red, for example, holds a special place as a less common colour in nature, and one often associated with attention-grabbing elements like flowers, fruit, meat, or dangers such as fire and blood. Such a highly signaling colour can be impactful but must be used with caution.

Clothes bring their own set of associations – think of red Louboutin soles, transforming a part of a shoe that has long been ignored into something exciting and commercially useful, when marketed to make women feel confident, passionate and empowered.

In a similar vein, I’ve always found purple challenging to use, being somewhat associated with the clerical, spiritual, or esoteric. Blue, suggesting distance as seen in the sky and deep water, is more versatile, though only when used in those shades of dark navy or light blue. Combining a true and strong mid-blue can still be a daunting task, as I've discovered while attempting to make my mid-blue Ebbets Field cap work.

 

Lots of colours and patterns in a Drake’s proposal

Use patterns and texture

Another way to combine colours is through patterns. In the same way as pointillist paintings, patterns mix strong colours together to create a different effect when looked at from afar. It can be astonishing to see the vivid colours that make up a tweed cloth, while largely appearing as greenish or brown from a distance.

Effectively using and combining patterns can be challenging but also fun, depending on the specifics. Drake's, with its sometimes anarchic mix of tweed, colourful rugby shirts and scarves, comes to mind. Instead of large colour blocks clashing, patterns create a blurry, overall more colourful image that is difficult to define, resulting in surprising combinations.

 

Rubato adds just one colour to a tonal combination of neutral trouser and white shirt

Sticking with neutrals

So, is there a recipe for success? One straightforward approach is to use mainly use neutrals – white, black, and grey – or adjacent neutrals such as taupe or brown shades. This is often referred to as tonal dressing, and you can find excellent examples in the lookbooks of Stoffa or Saman Amel.

Adding just one colour to this is easy and can be striking, especially when combined with texture. Rubato above provides a good example: light, neutral trousers paired with a blue or yellow sweater, with a subtle repetition of white added as a collar, creates a purposeful and elegant combination (above).

 

Jasper Johns in neutral shades
Martin Kippenberger in a grey flannel suit and dark sweater
Tonal outfit by Saman Amel

In the end, it all comes down to attitude. How do you want to present yourself?

For an artist Hockney dresses in an individualistic way, standing out among the black-clad artists at gallery openings. Black, often considered rebellious and artistic from a traditional menswear perspective, has been prominently featured in lookbooks this year. It's crucial to note that there are no inherently good or bad colour contrasts; there are only different effects and associations that may reflect upon the wearer.

 

Pierre Soulages in existentialist black

Why I love my Ferdinando Caraceni blazer

Why I love my Ferdinando Caraceni blazer

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This jacket from Ferdinando Caraceni has become one of my real favourites in the past couple of years, and I think it’s worth exploring why. It says something about where tailoring is today, at least for me. 

It was made in 2021 by Nicoletta Caraceni (who runs the small Milanese tailoring started by her father). I didn’t cover it at the time, as I used to only do review articles for new tailors. But as those have decreased (the recent spate of Korean commissions part) it makes more sense to look at subsequent commissions in the same detail. 

Nicoletta has a wonderful selection of vintage cloth, mostly around dark suitings and summer cottons and linens. The previous DB jacket I had was in a vintage cotton, and this one was made in a vintage wool/cashmere. However, it wouldn’t be that hard to find something similar today - I’d guess it’s around 11oz and a 90/10 split between wool and cashmere. 

The colour is very dark - real menswear navy. I wouldn’t call it midnight, but it is the kind of colour that a non-menswear person might call black, not picking up on the richness that could only come from navy. For a smart navy blazer, it’s perfect. 

It is the cut, however, which is the most interesting. 

Ferdinando Caraceni jackets have a fairly strong, wide shoulder. This is achieved not with a thick uniform pad (as Huntsman or Sexton might do) but with one that is more wedge-shaped - nothing at the neck and substantial at the end. You get the shape without the bulk.

This is accentuated by the lapel which I’d describe as generous in width and generously bellied, without either being extreme. 

And this is the key I think to its style. The overall effect is rather striking, but without any element that stands out. Unlike cuts like Sexton or Chittleborough & Morgan in the UK, or the big shoulders of a Sciamat in Italy. 

In fact, for me this might be the essence of the beauty of classic menswear - and combined with the beauty in details (fine buttonholes) and beauty in materials (cloth and buttons and lining) it gives me real, physical joy to wear. 

That said, it would not necessarily have been suitable in my previous life, working in a City office. In a world of very standard suits and ties, it would have stood out too much (no one would even be wearing a DB, let alone this DB). 

And today, it’s not what I would recommend to most readers looking to commission bespoke for the first time. Because what that person usually wants is an everyday item, a replacement for the everyday suit, which fits well and has taste, but otherwise is very casual and relaxed. 

For that reader, a soft-shouldered Neapolitan jacket is much more suitable, and that’s why they’ve become so popular in the past 20 years. It goes with jeans and chinos and flannels and worsteds simply and easily.

A double-breasted Caraceni jacket has slightly more to say for itself. We’re talking small margins, as ever, but it’s slightly bigger, slightly stronger. 

The outfit above is the most classic thing I think you could wear it with - perhaps with the exception of the pocket square. Get rid of that, and it’s the most conservative combination of navy jacket, white shirt and grey trousers. 

But the jacket still has something to say for itself. (Rather like the Yohei Fukua shoes - where it’s the bespoke waist and perhaps the delicate colouring that do the talking.)

The way I enjoy wearing it most today though, is with jeans and a polo shirt as below. Suddenly we’re playing with contrasts: a very smart material against the roughness of denim; a very sharp cut against the softness of the polo. 

Readers often ask for clear answers, for rules, and I get that. When you’re learning it makes everything a lot easier and faster. 

But the fun really comes with messing around with those rules and finding out how combinations can work in less easy ways. 

Here, for example, the jeans wouldn’t work (as I’ve tried it) if they were indigo, or more heavily faded, or a less straight cut. The polo needs a collar that actually stands up underneath the jacket. I also wouldn’t normally tuck it in, but the punctuation of the belt buckle stops it all from being too plain. 

There’s real style in these contrasts, I think, but it’s a more delicate thing to put together - a more complicated recipe (as Alois would put it). 

I like the look in the evening, as that suits the dark colours and the touch of drama. I know many others that say their bespoke commissions are often designed for dressing up these days - for events, usually in the evening - and this would fit well. 

Of course, a more glamorous event would suit cocktail attire, which is itself a really enjoyable modern way to wearing tailoring. And a more casual evening might be best with a navy knit, the style coming more from the play of navy and black, and little accessories (brown suede boots, perhaps, and an interesting brown suede belt). 

I can even see a theory of evening dress that divides outfits into those three types - cocktail attire, jacket/jeans and knitwear/jeans - but where they share ideas of materials, darkness and personality in the details.

One for another day. Today I hope you found interesting and useful my exploration of why I enjoy by Caraceni jacket so much - and two different ways I do. 

The other items shown are: Rubato black polo shirt; Ludens black crocodile belt; vintage Levi's black jeans; Edward Green black Piccadilly loafers; Yohei Fukuda oxfords; Simone Abbarchi white poplin shirt; Caliendo charcoal worsted trousers. 

I am also in debt to Carl and Oliver at Rubato for their constant style inspiration. Carl himself wears something very similar. 

Reader Profile: Ben (and the community of menswear)

Reader Profile: Ben (and the community of menswear)

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I met Ben at our recent pop-up party, and liked what he was wearing (first outfit below). We got to talking and I discovered his interesting background - always good, as I’d like these profiles to explore different types of PS reader - and his pure enthusiasm for crafted menswear. He put me to shame with his knowledge of brands and general happenings. 

Hopefully this interview gets that across, as well as Ben’s appreciation for the people who make all these things we love. I’ve never heard someone talk so passionately about how that makes menswear an enjoyable place to be. 

Outfit 1

  • Cap - Cotton/linen indigo from HW Dog 
  • Rollneck - North Sea Clothing submariner
  • Jacket - Portuguese Flannel (customised)
  • T-shirt - Tezomeya
  • Belt - Indigofera, black bridle leather 
  • Jeans - Oni, 200zr 
  • Shoes - Paraboot, Michael in green suede (image lower down)
  • Bag - Charlie Borrow
  • Pocket knife - Victorinox Swiss Army Knife with added pocket clip
  • Pen - Brass Fischer space pen 
  • Cardholder - Shinki shell cordovan in citrus

What do you do Ben? 

I’m a window cleaner mostly. I’m based in Ipswich and I have a little business there I’ve developed in recent years, having initially taken over my brother’s business. 

I also trained as a tree surgeon, and I still do some of that. But it’s dangerous work - I don’t use a cherry picker, I climb, and even though you’ve got ropes and a harness, you could easily get stuck. I’ve put my back out already doing that work in the past, so I try to do it less. 

I think when we met you said you used to be in the military?

Yes that’s right - we were talking about your piece on stolen valour. I said at the time that most people that served would say wearing military clothing was fine, as long as you weren’t actually pretending to be something you’re not.

Yes, and that was definitely borne out in the comments. How long did you serve for?

I trained for eight years but was never deployed, and by the end of it I was getting pretty frustrated. I was thinking of training to be an Apache helicopter pilot, which is what my Dad did, but that was another four years and in the end I decided to leave. 

How did you get into menswear?

I was always a gear guy, into well-made equipment, knives, torches. It felt like a fairly natural step from that into well-made clothing. Mostly workwear, mostly Japanese. I think most things I’m wearing today are Japanese. 

I like the white jacket you’re wearing - am I right you said you remade it?

Almost. It was a chore jacket from Portuguese Flannel which I had altered in several ways. The style didn’t quite work on me but I loved the material, so I wanted to save it. I initially took it apart but I had an alterations tailor put it back together again. 

What did you change?

I shortened it so the hem sat higher on me, I shortened the sleeves and I took off the two hip pockets. I also removed the collar which I think makes it more adaptable, easier to layer over something like this green submariner. 

What I liked about the process was I managed to transform it from something I wasn’t wearing into now one of my favourite pieces. 

The jeans look like they have some real heft and drape to them - where are they from?

They’re from Oni, the 200zr which is their widest fit. They’re 20oz with a beige-dyed weft. I really like the uniqueness of the texture, the colour and the rinse. Plus the deerskin patch on the back. 

Outfit 2:

We’re doing a ‘Dry January’ focus this month, talking about treasuring good clothes and looking after them. Do you do much of your own repairs and alterations, apart from the changes to the chore jacket?

Yes I’ve always done a lot. What really resonates with me is that by repairing existing clothing you feel a personal connection to the garment, because of the time you’ve spent repairing it and appreciating it - which in turn makes you want to care for it longer. 

Also, especially with visible repairs such as sashiko and darning, I feel it gives a uniqueness to the clothing and means it kind of accumulates memories over time. 

Do you work in some of the clothes shown here? How are you about looking after them?

I think it’s important to not be overly precious about your clothes. Yes, use them enough to cover the cost per wear and don’t abuse them, but then just look after them well. Maintain them with the correct products, whether that’s a nice leather cream or a delicate detergent, and understand the care labels because incorrect care will ruin clothes. 

I think one thing people get hung up on, especially with regards to denim, is the ‘fade culture’. It’s great to give your clothing personality, but over wearing and not washing is just bad practice, you should wash it when it’s dirty. There’s lots of misinformation around caring for clothing but I‘ve always found the best way is to ask the manufacturer directly, or even the business owner, what they recommend. 

The point that’s always been engrained into me is take care of your kit and it will take care of you. 

I love those Yuketen boots - how long have you had them?

Oh I don’t know, years. Those I do wear for work. They’re on their third pair of laces - the brass eyelets do fray the laces but I’d say each pair has lasted me two years or so. These are from White’s, they seem to make the best boot laces. I got the boots originally on eBay for £100. 

Do you buy a lot second-hand?

Yes, window cleaning makes a good living but I buy a lot of things second-hand when I can. I buy from Marrkt, going up to visit the warehouse recently and going through everything they had for example. I buy a fair bit from charity shops, or on Etsy, and get cheaper basics. My belt is a custom job on Etsy - you pick the leather, the hardware, so it’s veg-tan and solid brass. 

What do you tend to spend more money on, and less?

I spend less on those basics, like my perforated vest is from M&S - it’s basic but it’s functional, it does the job. I spend more on things like denim, bags, outerwear, where I know they’ll get better with age and where looking after them makes a big difference. 

I spend very little on gym gear, on sunglasses (because I lose them). I get Goodyear-welted or stitchdown shoes because I know I can repair them, and I think good cream is worth it so I have Saphir, but just the one colour.

The bag from Charlie Borrow looks like it’s going to age well. Was that a standard design or something you specified?

It was made to order, a custom size. I wanted something small but big enough to fit a bottle of wine or an umbrella. It’s a natural veg-tan leather with brass sandcast hardware and copper rivets - plus interchangeable straps! The black is a heavier duty and perhaps less dressy, but just nice to have the variation. This will have an endless patina.

Outfit 3:

  • Shirt - Camp collar from Kardo 
  • Cardigan - Tender Co 
  • Belt - Custom order, Etsy 
  • Trousers - TWC 
  • Shoes - Paraboot, as above
  • Watch - Rolex 2009 submariner
  • Rings - “Made by a friend in his shed. Goes by the name Chunk Silver”

You mentioned before how important the ‘community’ of menswear is to you. What did you mean by that exactly?

I just meant that it’s been so enjoyable in the past few years getting to know everyone in different parts of it, and that we should remember what a valuable part of the industry that is. 

When you buy from some big brand, you don’t know the founder, you don’t know the maker, you rarely connect with the people in the store. Go into somewhere like Blackhorse Lane and that’s completely different - everyone there is involved with the product, everyone cares about it. And you can visit the factory if you want to as well, see your things actually being made. 

You’ve done that at a fair number of places around the country haven’t you?

Yes I’ve tried to make a point of it, whether it’s a Northampton shoe factory or Charlie’s workshop, or visiting someone like Ben at Hang Up Vintage, now in Burnham-on-Crouch. When I can't repair or alter something I try to take it to a local craftsman that I connect with on a personal level as well, usually a friend in the industry. 

It gives you a closer connection to the product and the people, and often we have a lot in common. It’s the same at events, often I’ll find I have more in common with people there than I do when I meet up with old school mates, for example. 

One of the reasons I got into crafted menswear was that I wanted to buy good things and not get ripped off. Obviously some of this clothing is very expensive, but you always know what you’re getting for your money - and even more impressively, you often know the person the money is going to. 

It’s a great sentiment and you’re right, something we often forget. 

In this outfit you’ve got a lot of great pattern and colour going - where are the different pieces from?

The cardigan is from Tender Co, a really cool knitted piece where they transferred the pattern from a vinyl record onto a pop-punch card. The shirt underneath is from Kardo and hand-embroidered, which I love. 

The trousers are fro Adam at TWC. It’s a pleated chino-style trouser which resembles, in my opinion, a 1940s deck pant just with a modern smarter look. I like these because they’re quite light and have some little hidden selvedge details. The shoes are a Norwegian storm-welted green suede from Paraboot, on a crepe sole. 

Do the tattoos date from your military days?

Yes, and I regret some of them now to be honest. At the time it was something everyone was doing and it felt very natural. I’ve since had some lasered off and I might do that more. Particularly ones that are more on show, such as the hands. 

It does go with the look though.

Very true! At least I’m not trying to dress up in a suit and tie for an office job. 

Thanks for taking the time to chat Ben, it was refreshing. Look forward to seeing you around at an event soon. 

You too Simon.

How I organise outfits – and get my style inspiration

How I organise outfits – and get my style inspiration

Wednesday, January 3rd 2024
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I know I spend too much time looking at clothes I want, and not enough at ways to wear the ones I have. 

There are many reasons for this. There’s the familiar retail fix, the fact I wear a range of styles, the fact that I can afford them (and remember vividly the years I couldn’t). And on top of all that, the fact I can justify it because covering menswear is my job. 

But I’m aware of this, and I’ve recently been trying to spend more time with my existing wardrobe - taking style inspiration from books, from Instagram, from friends, and then organising outfits so I can remember them in the future. 

This last bit of organisation is particularly useful when the seasons change. Suddenly it’s hot again; the olive-linen overshirt comes out of the wardrobe; but I can’t quite remember what I really enjoyed wearing it with last summer. 

Instagram is great for inspiration, given the range of people and accounts. It’s not quite as good as Tumblr used to be, in my book, but there’s no shortage of imagery. 

A problem is that once you’ve saved images you like, they’re not easy to download and organise. What I tend to do is dip into my saved images - using it more like a filtered feed - and then organise my outfits that come out of it.

So I’ll find an image I like that relates to clothes I have - perhaps a pale-green gilet worn with a white T-shirt and chinos - and then try it out. I have a gilet in a similar colour from Rocky Mountain but usually wear it with blue jeans. So I’ll try it with the tee and chinos and, if I like the result, snap a selfie and save it in an ‘Outfits’ folder on my phone (above).

Sometimes, I won’t like the result. Sometimes I’ll play around with other options, but it still won’t work. That’s fine, the outfit just doesn’t get saved - the folder is one more filter on the world of inspiration: a set of looks I know works and I can reach for any time I need it.

A few years ago, I then categorised this folder according to formality and to an extent by weather (there is a separate ‘summer’ category; there should be a rainwear one). 

You can see my categories above. Casual jackets has proved to be the most wide-ranging category, and that has been further broken down (second image). 

The first time I did this it took hours. In fact, the first time I did it I categorised everything during time off at Christmas, backed it up on iCloud, and then found it had been deleted when I ran out of space. 

That won’t happen again - the folder is on my laptop, on my back-up hard drive, and on Google Drive. I tend to download a new set of images and categorise them every six months (a season). The only pain is when I realise I really need a new category (the aforementioned rain one) and that requires going through all 1467 images. 

But it’s so worth it. When the weather turned cold a couple of weeks ago I started going into my Overcoats folder and reminding myself of new looks I really liked - my Ciardi coat with black for instance (the taupe is dark and muted enough) or my Chapal leather jacket with the Adret knit (short enough to work with that rather short jacket). 

As I said, I only need this because I have a lot of clothes, but it is satisfying making full use of them - every browse is a reminder of a great piece I have neglected (eg my hand-dyed Mandarin jacket, below) as well as an outfit. 

I also work hard to keep all my inspiration images in one place. 

So often I’ll be in Ralph Lauren and see a great look on a mannequin - that will be snapped on my phone, but then get put in a Google Drive folder. Sometimes I take a screenshot of something on my phone or computer - that goes in the same place. 

Even that annoying thing on Instagram when you like the second image in a post but hitting ‘save’ gives you the first one too: then I take a screenshot of the second image and put it in the folder. 

Pinterest is something I’ve started using a lot more in the past year, simply because I found more inspiration images there. It tends to work more with archive pictures than new ones too, which with classic menswear is an advantage. 

But there’s no easy way to get decent-sized images downloaded as far as I know (if a reader does know, do shout) so this has become my third inspiration folder (Instagram, Pinterest, Drive). 

Organising outfits like this has had so many knock-on benefits. 

It’s helped me identify tendencies in how I dress. An early example was our ‘Cap and cordovan, felt and suede’ article, which came out of me realising I nearly always dressed in one of those two for the rain. 

Another, more comprehensive example was the ‘Three wardrobes’ article about my working week (above). Not only did that help my identify a tendency, but it gave me a starting point any day depending on what I was doing. I don’t always stick to it, but it’s always nice to have a default. 

These are also benefits for the blog of course, and hopefully they’re of use to readers. The other clear benefit for the blog is that we’ll soon have the entire Lookbook page (below) categorised based on similar ideas of formality and weather - which readers have asked for in the past. 

My system will necessarily be more wide-ranging and complicated than anyone else’s. But if you have any suggestions, or methods you’ve found helpful, please do let us all know. 

Announcing: Dry January 

Announcing: Dry January 

Monday, January 1st 2024
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Dry January is, at least in the UK, an opportunity for people to give up alcohol for a month to recover from some of the excesses of the holidays. It is in that same spirit that during January, Permanent Style will not write about any new clothing.

The idea is to encourage readers to value what they have, to focus on looking after it, and to perhaps reflect on the retail excesses of Christmas. Upcoming articles will talk about which clothes stand the test of time, how good clothes can be repaired, and how to restyle and reconsider things that are already in the closet. 

I will be doing the same, not buying any new clothes during January and instead focusing on what I already have. I know I have a problem with buying too many things - with shopping as a form of entertainment - and I think this will be productive and healthy. 

Of course, I’m not going to tell anyone else what to do. Many people don’t buy too much or are only at the beginning of their sartorial journey. What readers do is entirely up to them. 

But it feels very much in keeping with the spirit of Permanent Style to promote quality clothing by talking - for four short weeks - only about how that clothing lasts and how to wear it.

And in the long run, it can only help encourage people to make the kind of considered decisions PS has always advocated.

Many articles will remain the same. There will be a distinct lack of Top 10s, however, and one or two more on how great things age. Reader profiles will ask how the subjects look after their clothes, and which ones have lasted the best. There will be a new Style Breakdown project looking at overcoats.

I think it will be interesting to take a step back, especially as everyone else is flocking to the New Year sales. 

Perhaps you’ll actually get around to washing those sweaters, or have a go at darning. Maybe you’ll try wearing one piece of clothing every day for a while, and discover new combinations.

I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts and experiments. As ever, it’s invaluable to me and the other hundreds of thousands of people reading - who might never comment, but always love hearing from everyone else. 

I hope you find Dry January useful and interesting, perhaps even inspiring. We start on Wednesday with a piece about organising outfits.