Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Architect Glasses

If Cordings Chews My Specs
There's plenty of life left in my Oliver Peoples Tom Ripley glasses and William Morris Harry Palmer glasses. Bought to last — they're lasting. When I finally leave a pair on my armchair and sit on them or Cordings decides they'd make an excellent dog chew, I'll be looking to replace with a Le Corbusier style of frame next. I'm more of a Mies van der Rohe man when it comes to modernist architecture, for his detail and use of materials — Villa Tugendhat being a fave —  but Le Corbusier was matchless in terms of eyewear.

Looking like an Architect
Many men go for teeny glasses frames in barely there titanium or some such material. It's as if they're ashamed of looking bookish, so they try and mitigate this by introducing a bit of sporty high-tech. Often it's a case of the bigger the swot the sportier the glasses. If you're going to wear glasses, wear glasses. And look bookish. That's the best thing about specs.

Le Corbusier certainly wasn't timid about his ocular adornments. His glasses made him look like he spent his entire waking hours bent over an architect's desk. I'm sure that helped with a contract or two.

What are the ingredients for his style of glasses? The frames need to be made from a thick black acetate or horn. The frame for the lens must be almost round and quite large, with a thick bridge to connect them. The arms must be straight and uniform in thickness with a significant hook for the ears at the end.

The Massada Sleeper
The Sleeper frame from Massada of Switzerland is pretty close to the mark. They are made from a hefty chunk of acetate from Mazzucchelli (1849) of Italy.

Mazzucchelli is our kind of business. Formed in 1849 and based in Castiglione Olona, Varese, this sixth-generation family business is a world-leader in the production of acetate and polymer materials, particularly for eyewear. The company began by making combs and buttons in horn, bone and tortoiseshell.

Masada is based in Switzerland, but the frames are made in Japan and Italy. Massada say there is no wrong style for a shape of face. The point being you just need the swagger of Le Corbusier. This is partially true. The Sleeper is available in a choice of colours, but I think you'd like the traditional black we see above.

Le Corbusier on Holiday
The Tabu from Lesca Lunetier (1964) of France is also a fine contender for that coveted position on the bridge of your nose. As you can see from the example below, the style is perfectly adaptable for sunglasses.

Lesca Lunetier also have a style called Corbs, named after the man himself, but I actually think Tabu is closer to the mark. Corbs doesn't have those centred juts at the side of the frame where the arms join. Rather, the arms join the frame at the top.

Le Corbusier really should be swapping his glasses for sunglasses when he's reading on the beach.

Maintaining Acetate?
As an aside, how to keep acetate frames shiny? I find that the frames of acetate sunglasses and specs go a trifle dull over time. Does anyone know how to spruce it up? Is there a polish or method that can be applied?

Sir Roger Moore - Saint, Persuader, Bond - 1927 - 2017




Saturday, 20 May 2017

Prince Charles Picks Your Classic Coat Selection

Stoic and Well-Dressed
We expect members of the Royal Family to be stoic as they attend to their engagements with propriety and dignity. State duties require detachment and non-quivering upper lips. Some say Princes Henry and William aren't paying attention in this respect.

Investitures, receptions and audiences listed in the Court Circular (now online!) require appropriate dress as well as conduct. In terms of dress, Prince Charles has never faltered in his duty. If the Italians think he's the world's best-dressed man, he's the world's best-dressed man.

What's the secret of Prince Charles' style? It's pretty simple. He wears the classic styles and goes for the best of breed in each. You can look at photographs from his youth to the present day and they have not dated in the least — traditional clothes don't. He has eschewed fashion with profound determination, and championed British makers and styles in a similar way to the Duke of Windsor — such as his patronage of The Campaign for Wool.

One misstep could have spoiled everything: an ill-advised ear plate, hair dyed 'Lego black', a v-neck t-shirt and slacks combination (favoured by the likes of Simon Cowell and Ricky Gervais). I'm sure you can think of other such horrors.

Protocol dictates that Prince Charles could never offer advice directly from these pages, so we must look closely at what he wears, and do as he does.

Prince Charles has a collection of overcoats in traditional Guards or Chesterfield styles. The coat above was made from vicuña cloth by highly-regarded tailor, Steven Hitchcock. Steven's tailoring establishment in Mayfair, London, is completely independent — there are no private equity firms or investors pulling the strings and trying to 'leverage the brand' in the background. And he does all the making and cutting work by hand himself. He is rightly defensive of the reputation associated with Savile Row and its surrounds, which he feels is in danger of being diluted by certain tailoring houses arriving with 'no training or feeling for craft or tradition'.

I'd like to feature the work of Steve more. Steven, if you have anything to share with our readers, please get in touch. We are huge in the US and Germany!

Trench Coat
A trench coat is an absolute essential for a classic wardrobe. I can't stop acquiring the bally things. Prince Charles goes for the classic tan colour in a double-breasted style. Look for epaulettes, waist belt, storm flaps and D-rings in the details.

HRH always belts them properly. I tend to leave my belt tied and hanging at the back.

Aquascutum and Burberry are names that are immediately associated with trench coats — and rightly so, considering the history of the coat. I have an example of each, which are both going strong: an Aquascutum trench coat channelling Paul Weller; and a Burberry trench coat channelling Carter.

If I could find an excuse for another trench coat, it would be the sublime Trench Coat in Stone Ventile from S.E.H. kelly (below). I really like the raglan sleeves and how the pocket flaps come over the belt. Boy, is that a good coat. The coat is made from waterproof Ventile cotton, and has brass buckles and horn buttons manufactured in the Midlands. S.E.H Kelly have always taken provenance very seriously indeed. That's why we love them so.

Barbour Wax Coat
What can be said about Barbour's wax jackets that hasn't been said before? It's a de facto national dress.

Doesn't the lady in the headscarf and paddock jacket (below) look superb? They say elegance and deportment are rare qualities these days.

Top marks to the steward in the covert coat and spectacles. Possible brown trilby on bonce.

HRH favours longer styles of wax coat. I favour the mid-thigh Border myself. But the short Bedale (below) is really the classic style, truth be told. Made from 6oz thornproof waxed cotton, with all the features you expect: corduroy collar, bellows pockets, hand-warmer pockets, chunky Barbour gold two-way zip, tartan lining and side vents at the back.

The Bedale is like a Georgian townhouse or a dark chocolate digestive — perfect and impossible to improve on. Imagine sitting in your Georgian townhouse wearing your wax jacket and dunking a dark chocolate digestive in a cup of tea.

Here be our Eden, but we know it not.

Duffle Coat
You don't need to wear a kilt with a duffle coat, but it helps. I'm surmising HRH is wearing a navy duffle coat here. It sits just above the knee, and has three sets of toggle fasteners, with the top set closing under the neck.

I like the balance of a toggle on each side. It's not the traditional way, but I like it. I wonder if he had it made? It's certainly an excellent fit, draping very nicely.

Gloverall is your man for a classic duffle. The Original Montgomery in navy (below) is your man for the style you will be looking for. The coat has wooden toggles and jute rope to fasten on one side, and a tab to keep the elements out at the neck. The thick duffle (boiled) wool is fashioned with storm guards at the shoulder and patch pockets, thus helping achieving the essential dufflisimo we strive for.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Ince Umbrellas of London (1805)

Worthy of Our Applause and Support
Spitalifields in London's East End is famous as the old slashing ground of Jack the Ripper, and as the home of Gilbert and George. It was also the original home to the oldest umbrella maker in the country, James Ince & Sons. The company is now based in v. nearby Vyner Street, Bethnal Green.

The company was founded in 1805. Richard Ince is the mind-boggling sixth generation of umbrella-maker to head the company. A small ripple of applause for Mr Ince please, gentlemen.

Ince Umrellas are cut, made and finished by hand. Covers are cut and sewn to form eight panels, which are then stretched and fitted over the umbrella frame, which are then stitched to the spokes. The umbrella is then finished inside and out with rosettes — mini canopies that cover the exit of the shaft to the top of the umbrella and the spokes on the inside. It was nice to read that James encourages a 'safe, happy and productive workforce' that enables a 'good work life balance'. That kind of thing keeps you in business for over two hundred years. That and not erasing centuries of heritage and experience by offshoring the manufacturing.

Finding an Ince Umbrella 
Ince have slim, solid stick and folding umbrellas for gents. They make the covers in a wide range of colours. You can't buy direct, but our type of retailer stock them, such as special friends Cad & The Dandy.

Cad & The Dandy stock the Gentleman's Walking Umbrella by Ince, which has a metal shaft and spokes, and a maple handle. That's the wine-coloured version at the top, but they stock quite a few weekend (including yellow) and work colours.

If you're more of a solid stick man, Bleak House of London had the Bleak House Gent's Umbrella with a wooden shaft you see below. Made by Ince, the umbrella has a solid wooden shaft, metal spokes and a scorched and polished maple handle.

Though currently out of stock, it comes in a rather splendid and very adaptable blue. If you ask Bleak House nicely, they may put in another order from Ince.

If you have  an example of an early Ince umbrella — the earlier the better — as the unofficial annalists of British men's style, we'd be more than willing to share with our readers.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Ivy Waterproof Continued

Similar Coat
Following on from the post of the Percival Take Ivy-style waterproof, committed reader Old School sent in the picture above. It's by japanese artist Hiroshi Watatani, known for his commercial illustrations, particularly of men's style. The picture was used in a promotional calendar for a Japanese shop.

I think I may have tweeted it, but it's too good not to give it a bit more prominence on these pages. As you can see, the chap in the picture is wearing a mac, but it's the same traditional colour of yellow as the one by Percival.

What else do we have? The sack-style blazer with patch pockets, a Labrador and West Highland Terrier, horse bit loafers (no socks), repp tie and Ripley spectacles. A wonderful picture. On a minor point, I'm not a big fan of those retractable dog leads — a dog lead should be made from chain with a leather handle and attached to a separate leather collar.

Does the background say Italy or Greece? The car looks almost like a Morris Minor to me, which would be another plus point — a very trad car indeed.

All-in-all, a rather uplifting and inspirational image. Thanks v. much Old School and Hiroshi.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Campbell's of Beauly

Royal Patronage
Congratulations to Campbell's of Beauly (1858) who were recently granted the Royal Warrant for supply of tailored goods to Her Majesty the Queen. Campbell's Beauly workshop makes suits for the Balmoral estate. The company previously held warrants for the Duke of Windsor and the Queen Mother.

Campbell's was acquired from the Campbell family by John and Nicola Sugden in 2013 . Here we see them pictured below with director (and John's father) James Sugden, who has an excellent hair cut.

They're all completely thrilled with the recognition. They take their responsibility as 'Guardians of Tweed' entirely seriously.

What about Me?
So now you're wondering what Campbell's can do for you. I'll tell you what they can do for you. As well as providing tailoring services and supplying estate tweeds, they also stock smashing country wear.

This combination looks jolly interesting, as well as being timeless and elegant. I think it will really suit you.

So what do we have? The single-breasted and side-vented Olive with Navy Check tweed jacket is available from Campbell's online shop. Although a trip to beautiful Beuly — on the North Coast 500 route — is worth making the effort. The jacket is fully lined with a classic fit.

Under the jacket you have the Fishing Fly Tie in navy. Made in the UK.

And the rather spiffin' Clyde Blue Lambswool Slipover. The 15 gauge sweater is made in Scotland using 2-ply lambwool yarn 'with the soft water of the Scottish Borders to give a gentle handle'.

I think it's time Campbell's received your patronage too.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

England's Glory

Thousand Best Churches
It's all well and good having your tweed suits and mackintoshes and wax jackets and country shoes with Dainite soles, but you need places to wear them. A trip to a well-preserved little town or village always provides a fitting backdrop for such a wardrobe. Ugly places don't deserve your custom.

Naturally, you'll visit a pub like those owned by the National Trust, or a nice tea rooms. You should also pay a visit to the church. As we've said many times before, pubs and churches are often intertwined as anchors for the community.

England's Thousand Best Churches by Simon Jenkins [Amazon] (on Penguin's Allen Lane imprint) is a useful starting point for learning about the history of England's parish churches on a county-by-county basis. From the introduction:

Parish churches are England's glory. They enshrine the history of a people, most of whom have lived far from the capital, court and Parliament. These people — their art, architecture and faith — are seldom recorded or celebrated. The parish church is their public monument. 
These churches house a gallery of vernacular art without equal in the world.
In his review, Auberon Waugh advised: 'Every house in England should have a copy of this book.' 

Of course, the list is entirely subjective and will elicit debate about what is and isn't included, but it's a useful reference book for those churches that are described. You can take photos of the relevant pages before visiting. Saves lugging the thing about.

Simon provides a star system and general description of each church and its surroundings, homing in on the finest historical and architectural details. He visited two thousand to make his selections. That's quite a slog.

Kilpeck Church in Herefordshire
Survivor of Puritan purges of graven images and adornments, the incredible Romanesque Church of St Mary and David in Kilpeck, Herefordshire is an 'extraodinarily complete and decorative Norman church' — and was always going to be included in Simon's book. No debate.

The carvings on the church date from the time of the Crusades. The history is sketchy, but there are indications that there has been a place of worship on the site since 640.

Many visitors look for the example of a sheela na gig (below). The gargoyle (or hunky punk as we say in Somerset) may serve as some kind of hellish warning against lust or throwback pagan fertility symbol — take your pick.

Kilpeck Inn 1750
Many visitors to Kilpeck also seek out the excellent refreshments at the nearby Kilpeck Inn. The pub also has some history, dating around 1750.

Sound and Vision
Ancient churches aren't just about the visuals though. They also have their own acoustic, and an atmosphere that tends to subdue as we enter. We can only imagine the countless services and ceremonies that have been performed as we drop a fiver into the donation box.

As we were discussing marriage advice with Harvie & Hudson recently, one wonders how many marriages would have been performed at the Kilpeck site. Would a latter-day groom be standing where a crusader once married? Fanciful thought.

Kilpeck church has a tasty couple of bells to let rip a peal of wedding bells. (I'm not sure they are equiped for a Stedman Caters.) They won't be the oldest bells though. St Lawrence Church in Ipswich has the oldest ring of church bells in the world, dating around 1450. Now a community centre, the church did not make it to Simon's book.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Take Ivy Waterproof Coat

For New and Old English Weather
The Yellow Fiskur Mac from Percival Clothing looks remarkably like those worn by students on page 16 (below) of the classic Take Ivy — a photo-journal of Ivy League style from the 1960s. In other words, it's of interest to us.

When I first saw the coat, I immediately thought Take Ivy. I pulled the book from my shelf, leafing madly through the pages like I had discovered the Da Vinci Code — and bingo!

Safe to say, then, that the coat has a timeless look — looking as good today as its doppelgänger from 1965. The waterproof coat is constructed from famous British Millerain drywaxed cotton, with binded seams for extra weather resistance. The coat also has proper horn buttons. With the unadorned look of the jacket, the horn buttons really stand out. Cheap buttons would have spoiled the effect.

If you're a student looking for something to wear when dashing between an ivy-clad library and a Georgian pub when the rain is lashing down in New England or old England, Percival's waterproof coat will clearly fit the bill. You might even use it for your weekend sailing lessons at the local yacht club.

If you want live up to page 16, the coat demands a brush cut, Bill Evans' Undercurrent carried under the arm, a blue Oxford button-down shirt, a pair of slim white chinos, and brown loafers.

Economic Utility
The coat is Made in London in a limited edition of only thirty. This is something Pervical are doing with many of their pieces, and it's a great idea, as I've said before. Good ideas are worth repeating. This isn't the industrial-scale production shared by fast fashion high street brands and multinational high-end labels.

You're getting something that is well designed and made in the UK using British materials, but also something that is almost unique. In terms of economic utility, this represents a spellbinding cost to value proposition.

And it's like those coats on page 16 of Take Ivy.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Shoemaker's Art - Edward Green

Quite Fascinating
In the video A Labour of Love (below) from old friends Edward Green, we see the entire process of creating a pair of their famous shoes. It's a composite, condensed into five minutes. Marvel at how the parts are assembled to create a product that will last a lifetime.

The process starts with patterns cut from the incredibly fine-looking leather used by Edward Green. You can't skimp on good materials. If rubbish goes in, rubbish comes out. All through the process you will see specific shoe-making tools and machines. Quite fascinating.

A person (with authentically manky fingernails requiring a nailbrush after their shift) uses a contraption to brogue the leather. The pieces are then stitched together to make the shoe's upper. The upper is shaped and tacked to the inner sole, which is then corked ready for the preparation of the outer sole (from a red-haired man wearing a nice pair of Edward Green shoes himself).

The sole is finished and the upper is is prepared with the application of polishes and your actual spit. Finally, the shoe gets that all-important Made in England stamp.

The hand of the diligent maketh rich.

The shoes that go into the box at the end appear to be the slim and handsome Inverness brogues, built on the 888 last in burgundy leather. What a magnificent result.

Whenever you're in the market for shoes, look carefully at the construction and the materials used. Look the shoe up and down, inside and out. Smell it, feel it, try it for size. Does the shoe have that Made in England stamp on its sole? Or, rather — reaching vainly for profundity — does it have it stamped on its soul?

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

March of the Mods - Euroyeyé

Travel Plans
If you haven't yet made plans for your summer holidays, you might consider the ultimate mod weekender at Gijón in Asturias, Spain.

I've written about Asturias several times, with its delightful capital Oviedo. It is a lovely part of the world, with a great history and a strong local Celtic-flavoured culture. The food is incredibly good too — the delicious fabada in particular. There's a restaurant in Oviedo that specialises in the dish. I can't remember then name, but they leave a silver tureen of the stuff on your table.

Add to that the Euroyeyé festival in the first weekend of August and you have a quite compelling long weekend destination.

Organised in association with London's The New Untouchables, the Euroyeyé programme includes live music acts and DJ all-nighters and all-dayers, plus scooter runs, pool parties, art exhibitions, record fairs and cult film screenings. All in all, a great excuse to dressed up and hang out with Los Groovy Mods de España.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Spring Colours with Burtonwode

Down With Progress!
According to the RSPB, the cuckoo is an endangered species. Poor cuckoo, ancient herald of spring. Loss of habitat, they say. Loss of nature's rituals, we say (despite the cuckoo's monstrous nesting habits). I know all about loss of habitat. Try finding a decent tea rooms in Yeovil.

I guess that's what happens when those in office are intent on developing over every square inch of land. Rather than concentrating on 'growth', what about concentrating on the number of cuckoos we can hear per square mile or the number of tea rooms we can visit? Or the number of cravat and blazer wearers? I think I coined the term civibility index for such quality of life measures. Down with progress! (What do you think, Orson?)

Gentleman's Necessities
Thankfully, we can rely on another sign of spring at Tweed Towers — the annual arrival of Burtonwode's boxer shorts in seasonal colours. For some never-quite-explained reason, I switch into boxer shorts when the warmer weather arrives. Let's say ventilation.

I said I would never demonstrate underwear in person again, but Mrs T persuaded me to come out of retirement for these shots. I felt an utter chump let me tell you. Being a clothes demonstrator is no way to earn a living.

For all the pain it caused me, I hope the photos get across the lightness and jolliness of these Burtonwode British Boxer Shorts. The shorts are made in the UK from a 5oz cotton with a highly-softened finish.

I've mentioned before, but the box the shorts arrive in — with magnetic clasp — is a delight in itself. I'm sure you can find a number of additional uses for the box. You can store collar stiffeners and cufflinks, for example, or old lighters and cigar cutters. You could even use it to keep some of your cuckoo-spotting paraphernalia.

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