Monday, 20 October 2014

The Dimpled Pint Pot is Back

Traditional Beer Mug 

It is good to see the resurgence of interest in traditional British craft beers, but it's often dispiriting to order in a pub and have the beer returned in an inadequate vessel. A proper beer deserves a proper glass — and that's the dimpled pint pot. Accept no substitutes.

Permit me to regurgitate an old harumph on this subject from the Alistair Cope Pin-Up post.

[Beer] drunk from proper dimpled beer mugs [is] the only way to drink bitter. Insist on this and accept no Frenchified glass for your beer. The landlord of your local pub has a moral obligation to supply dimpled mugs. If it's not a legal requirement, it should be. 

Add Some Dimples to Your Chin

Since that earnest appeal for the return of adequate glassware in British public houses, it's good to hear that there's been a surge in dimpled mug use in the hipper enclaves of our capital city. I'd like to see this extend out around the B. Isles. Mug maketh the man. Go into a pub and see a chap drinking from a dimpled mug, and you know he's going to be a decent cove. He might even offer you a crisp if you sit at offering distance. If he's drinking from a bottle with a piece of fruit sticking out of it, don't count on getting that crisp. And keep an eye on your wallet.

You can now purchase your very own dimpled pint pots with the CE mark for home use. You get the pub feel and you know you're pouring yourself a legal pint measure. (Or half-pint measure, as below). Add some dimples to your chin.

What to put in it? Any of these for a start.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Alan Paine - Dependable Tweed Jacket, Like Carson

Loving the Lovat from Alan Paine

Lovat tweed — how would we live without it? If you're tentatively circling around the idea of wearing tweed, you might first want to consider a jacket in this colour. It will go with anything, and you can wear it smartly or casually. I'm doing a bit of both in these shots.

I'm sporting the Compton Blaser in lovat tweed from our dear chums at Alan Paine. Boy do Alan Paine make some great country clothes.

This double-vent, single-breasted tweed jacket is part of their Compton tweed collection, and is so well built it will need to be passed on to the next generation. The tweed has a water-repellent finish, to make it even more indestructible.

Note that the lining neatly matches the overcheck.

It will take a couple of years to wear it in properly, but this jacket possesses the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit — dependable and ready to serve at a moment's notice. If this jacket were a Downton Abbey character, it would be Carson.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hackett - Spaniel Tie and Noble Jacket

Old-School British Tie

I maintain that Hackett works best when it pulls its inspiration from the old-school Britishness that inspired Jeremy Hackett to start the business in the first place. Take the red Hackett Spaniel Tie above. You could easily see Michael Wilding wearing it. They would certainly have stocked one in the costume department of Ealing Studios in its Whisky Galore! period. A winner in fewer words.

I would suggest wearing the tie with a tattersall shirt, and then putting this jacket on. I'll leave it to you what you wear beneath the waist. The Grey Donegal Jacket by Hackett is made from a blend of cashmere and woollen cloth woven by Robert Noble on the Scottish borders.

What Next?

So you're now dressed the part from the waist up. All you now need is a real English Springer Spaniel (liver and white) - called Major - as your companion, a TR6 sports car in racing green, and the address of a red brick country pub in Hereford somewhere as a target destination for you and Major (suggestions welcome). Have fun.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Harris Tweed Ride - A Look Back

Wool Week - A Week to Remember

Last week was Campaign for Wool's Wool Week, its festival of wool and wool-based events. Let's take a retrospective look (curse my slipshod events diary) at one of the highlights — the Harris Tweed Ride in Edinburgh.

Lots of tweed + bicycle events have sprung up since London's Tweed Run started in 2009. Edinburgh's is specifically about Harris Tweed, the King of the tweeds, which is worn en masse and ridden for 10 miles around Edinburgh by pleasant people.

Although I had no involvement, and I've only just remembered it was taking place — and have no right — I'd like to thank the organisers and sponsors (Campaign for Wool and Harvey Nichols), because any event that's just plain nice should be celebrated. Why do organised 'days of action' always have to be about a complaint or a grudge? And why do they have to be so scruffy and noisy? Put your placards away you Facebook rabble-rousers. Surely we can change things by wearing tweed. And drinking gin supplied by Hendrick's.

Thanks to the deeply talented Stewart Bryden for the reproduction of his photo of the event at the top.

Walker Slater Involvement

Our good chums at Walker Slater were probably involved in the Tweed Ride, I think. A perfect excuse to show their three-piece suit in grey Shetland Donegal cloth below. Note the cane, which would be very useful for bartitsu.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Mark Padmore - Autumnal

Sometime I Sing

The sun is blazing down on to the crenelations at Tweed Towers, but I'll stick my neck out and say we moved into Autumn proper this week. Cloud has descended and the sun will soon go on its hols until next June; the Madras and the seersucker will be stowed accordingly.

There's no need to be grumpy about it though. Let's herald in the season of mellow wistfulness with a song from Sometime I Sing, a super album by composer Alec Roth on the Signum Classics label.

Autumnal is a song for tenor and guitar — the tenor being Mark Padmore (top) and the guitarist Morgan Szymanski. For this song, Alec has set the words of John Donne's poem The Autumnal to his music.

At this stage in a music post I will usually embed a clip so you can listen to the song I am wittering on about. But there is no clip to be found of Autumal. I would try and use the power of words to describe the song, but they say to clarify is to offend. Let me merely summarise thus: Mark Padmore's high tenor voice plus John Donne's poetic imagery to an accompaniment of charming melody and rhythm. A winner in short.

You can use this Autumnal [Amazon] link to hear a snatch. Then clearly you'll buy it and we need not have worried about finding a full clip in the first place. (We weren't worried.)

Mark and Morgan, if you read this, can you please record a video of this song for me to post? (I'd really like some 'Tweed Pig Sessions'.) No rush, but before the end of Autumn would be good. Otherwise, we might be looking at a Winterreise video. Thanks in advance.

The Autumnal

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
  As I have seen in one autumnal face.
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape,
  This doth but counsel, yet you cannot scape.
If 'twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame;
  Affection here takes reverence's name.
Were her first years the golden age? That's true,
  But now she's gold oft tried and ever new.
That was her torrid and inflaming time,
  This is her tolerable tropic clime.
Fair eyes, who asks more heat than comes from hence,
  He in a fever wishes pestilence.
Call not these wrinkles, graves; if graves they were,
  They were Love's graves, for else he is no where.
Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit
  Vow'd to this trench, like an anachorit;
And here till hers, which must be his death, come,
  He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb.
Here dwells he; though he sojourn ev'rywhere
  In progress, yet his standing house is here:
Here where still evening is, not noon nor night,
  Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight.
In all her words, unto all hearers fit,
  You may at revels, you at council, sit.
This is Love's timber, youth his underwood;
  There he, as wine in June, enrages blood,
Which then comes seasonablest when our taste
  And appetite to other things is past.
Xerxes' strange Lydian love, the platan tree,
  Was lov'd for age, none being so large as she,
Or else because, being young, nature did bless
  Her youth with age's glory, barrenness.
If we love things long sought, age is a thing
  Which we are fifty years in compassing;
If transitory things, which soon decay,
  Age must be loveliest at the latest day.
But name not winter faces, whose skin's slack,
  Lank as an unthrift's purse, but a soul's sack;
Whose eyes seek light within, for all here's shade;
  Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out than made;
Whose every tooth to a several place is gone,
  To vex their souls at resurrection:
Name not these living death's-heads unto me,
  For these, not ancient, but antique be.
I hate extremes, yet I had rather stay
  With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day.
Since such love's natural motion is, may still
  My love descend, and journey down the hill,
Not panting after growing beauties. So,
  I shall ebb on with them who homeward go.

John Donne

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Dress Like a Gardening Expert

Comoy's of London - Classic Briar Pipe — Saddle Straight Billiard — Made in England

Emma Willis — White Sea Island Cotton Shirt — Made in England

Dunhill — Red Merino Wool Crew Neck Sweater — Made in Scotland

Charles Wall — 'Ratcatcher' Moleskin Trousers

Edward GreenLongmoor Brogue — Made in England

Haws — Copper Long Reach Watering Can — Made in England

Monday, 6 October 2014

Last of England - Sweaters

Basket Weave Cashmere Sweater

This lovely cashmere sweater is in a basket weave. It is made in Hawick, Scotland, for Last of England.

The sweater will have timeless appeal, and this is exactly the point. When Last of England add a garment it will never disappear from their line up — they aim to ignore arbitrary trends.

Last of England are slowly extending their range of timeless classics. Spanish-made wool Teba jackets are a recent inclusion (below). The last of Spain? We have covered the teba before — a must-wear when in Madrid. These jackets are made in Zaragoza.

About The Last of England

The name of the company comes from Ford Maddox Brown's painting of the same name (detail below). Aware of the renaissance in British heritage brands, Tom Heber-Percy set up Last of England fully intending to create a brand with equal longevity. He is in it for the long run.

I spoke with dear new friend Tom over a pot of genmaicha ('popcorn') tea, from old friends Harney & Sons, and a plate of rich tea finger biscuits.

Whilst eating most of the biscuits, he explained:

"I set up Last Of England for a host of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to sell products that I myself wished to purchase but struggled to locate in existing retailers. This stemmed from unearthing one of my Dad's cashmere jumpers which was still, after 30 plus years, in an immaculate condition. The stitch of the jumper was interesting without being overly decorative and it really was the ideal winter jumper which could be cherished by any wearer. The trouble was after extensive searching I could not find a modern equivalent."

We've all encountered similar frustrations. Tom continued, holding his 'muffin plate' under his chin so he could continue loading and munching:

"The financial crisis has, to an extent, moved consumers away from the huge multi-national fashion companies to brands which promote values of timelessness and manufacturing quality. These values resonated with me, along with perhaps the belief that consumers could be further moved into 'buying less but buying better'. I wanted to establish a brand that utilised the highly regarded (but in some areas declining) British textile industry to manufacture higher quality products in contrast to inferior imports dominating markets on the merit of price alone. Using British industry also helps safeguard skilled jobs, it would be a travesty for this country if the remaining textile jobs went overseas. I always thought that British-made clothing can survive by adding higher value, in terms of quality and design, and I hope to achieve that with Last Of England. The alternative is a race to the bottom on price that Britain will not be able to compete in."

Other products are being developed for the brand but, with its considered approach and emphasis on quality, Last of England have no desire to rush things to market. This is the opposite of fast fashion.

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

What music would you use to accompany a shot of a sweater billowing in the wind like a flag? I think Fairport Convention's Who Knows Where the Time Goes? [Amazon] is a grand choice, Tom.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Consequences of Love - The Clothes of Titta

Titta Style

We wouldn't let the recent review of The Consequences of Love escape without saying something of actor Toni Servillo's wardrobe in the film for the character Titta di Girolamo.

As with The Great Beauty, the wardrobe of Toni Servillo is eye-catching. I scribbled a few notes down as the credits rolled.

We have big-hitting Italian names mixed with some hidden gems, including small-scale outfitters from his Neapolitan roots:

Look like a Titta

Just for jolly, let's go shopping with Titta and see what he fills his bags with...

Kiton Suit and Cape (Capes are useful garments. Titta understands this.)

Anna Matuozzo - Micro Pique Cotton Shirt with Hidden Placket (The thread-count and hand-stitched obsessives love this shirt maker. Titta just likes to know he's buying something well-made.)

Ballantyne - Cashmere Polo Neck Sweater (He bought an original Scottish-made one. Lucky Titta.)

Marinella Napoli - Silk Patterned Ties (A dash of colour emphasises Titta's gloominess.)

Villa Milano - Jade and Ruby Cufflinks (Just rather nice.)

Monday, 29 September 2014

Toni Servillo - Shy People Notice Everything

Tweed Pig Laureate: Toni Servillo

I would like to announce the recipient of our first Tweed Pig Laureate: the Italian actor, Toni Servillo. Congratulations Toni. A round of applause please, gentlemen.

How we all enjoyed his performance in The Great Beauty. After watching his performance in The Consequences of Love recently, the award seemed obvious.

As well as being one of the best smokers on celluloid, Toni — of Afragola, Italy — chooses his films and directors well. Paolo Sorrentino directed The Great Beauty and The Consequences of Love.

Both films are staged and shot beautifully, and have a visually meditative quality, with isolated protagonists, played wonderfully by Servillo, who have difficulty reconciling the certainties of the past with the fragmentary nature of the present.

Italian cinema seems the most grown-up of contemporary cinema, particularly with the work of Sorrentino, who is fast becoming our favourite director. (Another Tweed Pig Laureate in the offing?) Too many films are coming out of America about adult men behaving (and dressing) like children. I'm looking at you Seth Rogen.

The Consequences of Love

In The Consequences of Love (2004) [Amazon], Servillo plays Titta di Girolamo, a resident of a hotel in Lugano, Switzerland. He is a detached observer, rather than participant, of life being lived around him. Of his withdrawal, Titta reflects, "Shy people notice everything, but they don't get noticed."

We witness Titta's quiet routines, such as his daily coffee and cigarette in the reception of the hotel, and other less savoury rituals. However, traces of the former life that brought him to this point are revealed; the estrangement from his past becomes apparent. He is suffering a life of concealed purgatory.

Salvation — or perhaps redemption — comes to Titta when he decides to rejoin the living. A waitress at the hotel — confronting him on his failure to acknowledge her — finally lifts him out of his apathy. With echoes of Mann's Death in Venice, Titta makes his choice — rejecting the solitude of his existence and embracing the consequences of love.

Right now I think this is an even better film than The Great Beauty. Do see it, and you'll see why we chose to hurl laurels over Toni's head.

Tweedy's Thought: If you would like to nominate someone deserving of a 'Golden Pig', the new informal name for these awards, please get in touch. No one noisy or who swears a lot, please. Let's not let this idea wither on the vine. Unless it's palpably terrible. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

War Clothes Horse

British Fighting Kit through the Ages

Has anyone sent you a link to a photo series called Soldiers' Inventories by talented photographer, Thom Atkinson? If so, why not have a click around the site and see if you can topple the Singing Chelsea Pensioner from the top of our most popular list? Or pop an idea for an article on a mail. Or buy me a cup of tea.

I think Thom's photographs make a good addition to the living inventory of British classics and hidden gems that is The Tweed Pig. They show how British military kit has changed over the centuries since the Battle of Hastings in 1066; inventories of what was worn and what warriors carried to battle, including items for those idle moments when they weren't cleaving skulls in twain.

At the top you see the kit of an archer at Agincourt, 1415. Below you see the kit of a private sentinel at the Battle of Malplaquet, 1709 — daring use of mustard yellow. Incidentally, the uniform below is similar to the ceremonial dress still worn by Chelsea Pensioners — as they came into existence around the same period. Why change?

The inventories roll on to present day, where you see more technology and fewer blades. If anyone is aware of a period when the British haven't been involved in some kind of conflict, do let us know.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

8-Ply Cashmere Polo Neck from Johnstons of Elgin

Don't Look Like Steve Jobs

Images of polo neck sweaters sitting under tweed jackets are flitting around my mind's eye. These pleasant images remind me that the polo neck is perhaps one of the most misunderstood of the sweater styles. If you wear them well, they can be winningly elegant or robustly rustic; But get a polo neck wrong and you can look like a mime artist or Steve Jobs (avoid black).

Obviously, the neck part serves as a scarf, so these styles are made for scarf-wearing season primarily. If you think you might not need to wear the 'scarf' all day, then make sure you're wearing something under the sweater should you need to take it off. And I don't mean just your vest. You don't want to be the talk of the tea rooms.

Let's set a benchmark on the roll-neck sweater straight away with this 8-ply Scottish-made cashmere wonder from Johnstons of Elgin. This would look so well under a green tweed jacket.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Topic Records at 75 - The Full English Project

Seventy Five Years in Ten Minutes

Here's a nice little documentary film from Topic Records. The folk music label celebrates its 75th birthday this year. This makes it the oldest independent record label in the world.

Did you spot dear Anne Briggs amongst the folk musicians immortalised by Topic through the years? What would we have done without Topic? Lost a big chunk of our musical roots that's what.

The Full English Project

Topic continues to provide the best support for British folk musicians, helping them find new audiences and keep the tradition alive. The label is naturally involved in The Full English project initiated by the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

The aim of The Full English is to "unlock the hidden treasures of England's cultural heritage" by creating the "world's biggest free digital archive of English traditional folk music and dance tunes". That's right — free.

The project also has a band — assembled from the enormous folk talent of Seth Lakeman, Martin Simpson, Fay Hield, Nancy Kerr, Sam Sweeney, Rob Harbron and Ben Nichols. Their album, inevitably released on Topic, is also called The Full English [Amazon].

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Paul Stuart - Anglo-American Autumn Collection

Paul Stuart

Singer Sargent Sweater

One of our most eagerly-awaited periodicals has arrived — the Autumn collection from Paul Stuart.

Please take a look at the full catalogue here and pick out your favourites — all superb quality, all timeless. Tell them Tweedy sent you.

I believe that Edwardian painter John Singer Sargent is an inspiration for the collection this year. He was described as an 'unrivalled recorder of male power', which you can see in one of his portraits above. As Brian Sewell mentions in the video clip at the bottom, Sargent was compared to van Dyck because of the realism of his portrait paintings — at a time when the art world (and political world for that matter) was in such tumult with all those boundary stretching -isms.

We've picked out a couple of shots from the Paul Stuart collection here that reflect that male power, and perhaps the colour palette of Sargent too.

The three-piece full-canvas suit in wool/cashmere above has a fetching double-breasted weskit with a shawl collar.

The jacket below is in a cashmere plaid cloth, which is also fully-canvassed, the green of the ensemble complemented nicely with the deerskin gloves, I must say, if that's not sounding too much like a fashion editor.  

The family of Anglophone countries is well-represented in the Paul Stuart collection (with a liberal dose of made in Italy too). I see labels for Canada, USA, and England; and that coat below is made in Australia, by gad. I think that's the first made in Australia item we've featured.

To Our Aussie Readers: We don't get too much correspondence from our Aussie readers. Do get in touch. One thing I'd like to know is an Australian brand that makes extremely hard wearing trousers in cream colour (possibly other colours). I think sheep-shearers may have used them originally. I used to have a pair, but for the life of me I can't remember the name. Incredible things.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Trip Through the Abraham Moon Archives


We've been long-time supporters of British mills (and fabrics) at Tweed Towers. None more so than Abraham Moon. The Moon tweed jacket I bought yonks ago still comes out with me on bike trips. There it is above. It was a welcome companion on a recent trip to The Queens Arms in Corton Denham, Somerset (below).

The Queens Arms is a very nicely situated pub that serves excellent pork pies. Worth a cycle out if you're in the vicinity, but quite hilly to reach it. You need strong thews.

As always, listen to the theme tune to Rutherford-era Miss Marple before undertaking such a journey. I make no apologies for adding this clip again. Ron Goodwin's Murder She Says [Amazon] is our adopted theme after all.

Abraham Moon Archive

Enough of the meandering introduction. Let's get on with the business in hand. I mention Moon because I wanted to say how much I've enjoyed reading through the short history of famous cloth and clothing they're put together on their web site.

Look under Heritage Collection and read about the British red coat, shepherd check (jacket - top), tweed, pinstripe, tartan, worsted, covert, cavalry twill, tattersall (weskit - above), duffel (below) and thornproof — all the bally hits.

When you see this information pulled together, you can really appreciate the contribution British mills and manufacturers made to defining classic men's style; and in expressing our culture through dress. Moon's Heritage Collection makes these cloths available to you today.

If more of our traditional mills can be less reticent about celebrating their heritage — as it's one thing that can't be faked by their ravenous Eastern competition — people will then fully understand the significance of the label they see inside their jacket.

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