Brexit is en route. It may or may not be all it is cracked up to be and we won’t know for sure until B-Day, but Britain needs to posture itself properly. Like any recently divorced or single person, you hope to hell that you bump into your erstwhile partner either with a new and stout suitor, or just magnificent-looking on your own merit. So how do we outsmart the Europeans?
Failing a robust trade deal that musters croesan levels of corporate and commercial lucre, discharging from every window of HM’s Treasury, you can count on the denizens of Mayfair and St James’s for a solid dose of sartorial shine instead.
Vaingloriously, it is also a point of pride for someone like me that whilst much can be debated over whether Britain flourishes vs the EU on things vegetable, animal or mineral, our heritage with regards to clothing wins hands down. Yes the Italians have their sprezzatura – an industry term for personal touches of swagger that only Neapolitans who look like Gigi Rizzi can pull off – but it’s only applicable to a few months of the year in Capri. Aside from Cifonelli in France, the EU’s roster is wearing thin, while Britain’s depth chart is enough to make you want to bellow God Save the Queen with every ounce of jingoism at hand – take that Junker.
Here are a few ideas for the latter part of the month and a holistic approach to personal presentation as we approach this new epoch.
The most profound, versatile and efficacious expression of the human form ever created, which is quite a feat considering it is basically 3D wool. For my money the finest tailor on the planet is Terry Haste of Kent & Haste. As the summer drifts off into wilder, colder and less predictable British Autumn, palettes should be off the table and classics like navy and grey will always be a safe bet. Though if I may wave the flag for patterning as assertively checked tweeds and flannels from the countries best mills like Fox Brothers and Hunter & Winterbottom have given great consideration to accessibility to those wanting to take the leap. If you were to make me pick, then a light grey flannel with a blue windowpane check or green tweed with blood-orange check is exactly the sort of reason why we won the war. Notable names worth mentioning also are H. Huntsman, Anderson & Sheppard, Chittleborough & Morgan, Edward Sexton and Henry Poole. Each of these tailors have had a profound impact on the UK’s reputation as the home of classic elegance.
A step down in terms of cost from bespoke but some of the most exciting labels on the British sartorial scene are basing their service around M2M and many have terrifically pertinent names for this article. Anglo-Italian brand English Cut is run by guys who are absolutely obsessed with making men look superb. It’s worth mentioning that for women there is a new brand called The Deck. This new made-to-measure service on the King’s Road blends sexy, professional and elegant, long overdue and brings women’s tailoring options in line with men’s.
Anyone who sticks their nose up at ready-to-wear has a terrible imagination and limited taste. New & Lingwood, Hackett, Ralph Lauren (technically American but as it is now Sir Ralph Lauren, we can claim him for our own) and Drake’s are teeming with inventive and versatile clothing which is paying great attention to the trends of today – pleats, pockets and patterns. Pleats are my favourite denial enabler as they look terrific but also allowing this over 30-year-old, who needs a breather after a game of backgammon, to keep his #DadBod unchecked. Pockets are technically becoming more figure-sensitive, so they are constructed to allow things to be put into it and not bulk out, also there is definitely a sense of people liking the broken aesthetic on a jacket that patch and bellows pockets provide. Also, whether it be on New & Lingwood’s fabulous dressing gowns, or Drake’s checked sport’s coats, there is little evidence that people are getting timid in their pattern selections, neither should you be.
Shoes are mini sculptures. When you buy a really wonderful pair of shoes, it is sometimes difficult to know whether you should wear them or mount them on your wall. Unfortunately, they are the biggest disaster zone, at least from what I see on the commute.
Heading into September means a placing aside of our espadrilles and a thought towards their replacements. Black cap-toe Oxfords are your safe house, because everyone does them. Crockett & Jones, Edward Green, Foster & Sons and Cleverley are the best ready-to-wear makers of these shoes (the latter three’s bespoke game is excellent as well); just polish the cap please. If you’re a wild child and stick largely to loafers like me, this has tangible benefits with your outfit. I do it because I have large feet and the lower rise on the vamp and waist stops me from looking like a clown, which heftier shoes like brogues will do with anyone with double-digit size feet. It also means that you can play with your sock game. A few tips, red goes beautifully with a navy blue suit, mustard with a more royal blue, light blue or burgundy with grey, with all of these stick to black shoes, though brown with the grey is completely fine too. At the top of the tree is Gaziano & Girling, an Italian sounding brand but Northampton (home of British shoe making) born and bred. Tony Gaziano is a genius and arguably the greatest living shoemaker, his protégé Daniel Wegan just won the world shoemaking championships and is in charge of the bespoke department at G&G. An easy choice for recommendation if people are really keen to make an investment in shoes that will last forever always looking beautiful.
Turnbull & Asser and Budd Shirtmakers are the old-boys in the business and between them have a majority share hold in the history of British shirting. Younger brands like Emma Willis are equally worthy of your custom and attention. White poplin, two-fold cotton shirts are what you are after this time of year, clean and elegant and thicker than a summer cotton. It’s not for me to dictate other people’s tastes but I’d steer you away rom butcher stripes and patterns except for checked country shirts which you should get in cashmarello and it will be as valuable as your field jacket when you go shooting.
This is a fairly straightforward list: try a hat from Lock & Co – the Homburg is back. You heard it here first, unleash your inner Anthony Eden. Umbrellas should be bought from Brigg in Piccadilly Arcade, and all grooming from DR Harris.
Consider yourself now prepared for any eventuality.