Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Well Hung - Lace Wallpaper

My brother put me on to the Scottish textile manufacturer Morton, Young and Borland. They specialise in traditional Nottingham lace and are the only manufacturers in the world of 100% cotton Madras. They've used archive lace patterns from the 1920s to create some unique wallpaper in conjunction with the design team Timorous Beasties. Nice stuff and a good example of the blending of old and new, and continuity through re-invention. Young Mrs Tweed is eyeing some up for the reception room.

Lace and a pretty face, make the world go 'round

Monday, 29 November 2010

Under My Umbrella

Folding Umbrellas

I bought a Fox umbrella a few years ago. Solidly built, it's still going strong and performing wonderfully.

I like how tightly wound it can be and how slim as a result.  I much prefer full-length umbrellas, they bring out the inner Steed in me and are great for tapping along the pavement, should the weather prove clement, or pointing things out to companions. It's always been too long to pack away for trips abroad, but now help is at hand. Two alternatives attract me here. One from Fox Umbrellas themselves and another from Swaine Adeney Brigg - both producing wonderful packable full-length umbrellas for travelling. There's a touch of the hired assassin fitting his rifle together about them too.

Fox Packable Umbrella

Swaine Adeney Brigg Packable Umbrella

Sunday, 28 November 2010

After Laurel comes Hardy

After our chat on the timeless laurel logo of Fred Perry, I thought I'd follow up with Hardy - Francoise Hardy, to add a bit of timeless beauty. I'd go for a small glass of pastis with this one.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Cut-throat Competition

Tired of multi-nationals pushing innovations in razor blades seemingly every month? Not inspired by advertisements that pretend that multi-millionaire sportsmen like shaving together? Looking for something a bit more individual? When they seemed to be tweaking safety razors every month, old Tweedy got the feeling he was becoming a bit of a mug trying to keep up. Besides that, the aesthetic was all about sporty hi-tech and ergonomic solutions. They were beginning to look as over-designed as training shoes. Just not me.

I started looking into open or cut-throat razors, picturing myself in vest with braces in front of my bathroom mirror scraping through my creamed face like an expert. There are some absolute beauties out there and my experience in barber shops has been that the end result was very smooth indeed. I considered a solid blade, but wondered if I would really be doing all the stropping and oiling to keep it in the condition required. My heart said yes, my face just quailed. I ignored my face, what did it know? In the end I opted for a cut-throat that used disposable blades, a half-way house. Satisfied face? It looked good and would be easier to maintain. Take that global multi-nationals, I crowed inwardly. I ordered with a pot of shaving cream, some blades and a block of alum just in case.

You need a very steady hand

The kit arrived and I was eager to get going. I waited for the weekend to give myself plenty of time and set to work. The blades needed to be broken in half and then the half blade slid in. I worked up a good lather with my badger brush and started to scrape from the right ear. I cut myself almost immediately. Second stroke, second cut. I proceeded out of pride and hoping I would start to improve. No joy. The neck area was particularly atrocious. Alum and lots of tissue paper were applied, and as I examined the wounds I wondered if it would get easier. After a few days for the face to calm down I made my second attempt. I was more cautious this time. I practiced the technique on my arms and reckoned I had the right angle and pressure worked out. I was cut to ribbons a second time. That was the end of this particular experiment. I'm now looking for a fetching razor that takes the safest blades possible from a nice little shaving emporium. My face was right after all.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Fred Perry

Anyone for cocktails? Perry with Dietrich

The most important label I can add to the posts I make here is 'Made in the UK'. I want our manufacturing back, I want us to make the clothes (and anything else) that dressed (and anything else) the world again. I want us all to buy smarter and dress smarter - buy to last and support the manufacturers that do things well. This seeking of authenticity extends around the globe mind, so do let me know of any heritage brands that have become obscured in this world of fast fashion and lifestyle branding in your neck of the woods.

Although in Japanese ownership now, I've started to see Made in England labels in Fred Perry polo shirts again. This gave me inordinate cheer. I recently bought a Made In Japan one, as I'd read the pique was superior to the Made in Italy versions. I didn't notice the difference and quite frankly the shape was more designed for a Japanese man than me. Quite short. In the end it went to young Mrs Tweedy and her gym class. But I'm girding to purchase another, and a Made in England this time - very pleased that I have this option once more.

Liking the Laurel

I've said before that the Japanese might just value our clothing heritage more than we do, so it makes sense that they wanted to put that Made in England label back in even if it's to make the product more saleable in Japan.

At some stage we need to debate the merits of Fred Perry against Lacoste. I like Lacoste polo shirts, particularly if you can find an original Made in France (good luck), but there is a whiff of either Chevy Chase suburban American or French exchange student about them. Fred Perry, with its skinhead past is the somewhat edgier option. But they seemed a bit cheap and badly made for a while. I hope this is being addressed - I like the laurel.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

A Scent of Man

Penhaligon's is one of those small, almost lost English boutique perfumers. They conjure up images of trained 'noses' in half-rimmed spectacles mixing tinctures behind counters for dandified Edwardian gents. They may wish to try and get away from this with their ever funkier labelling and more youthful concoctions, but why run away from your heritage is what I say.

I've been using their Castile for maybe ten years now. Almost from its inception in 1998. Beautiful scent, complex yet not overpowering and subtle and fresh enough, with its citrussy notes, to wear during the day. Young Mrs Tweed has been known to splash it all over on occasion too.

An Englishman's Aroma is his Castile

The shop in London's Covent Garden has lots of charm and wonderful unhurried service. Refined, English understatement. Let's put it this way, they won't be rushing out a scent with the name of celebrity in time for Christmas. Although a Tweed Pig range sounds good.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Old Ham

I've been looking at photos of legs of ham at IberGour. Strange you might think, but I defy anyone who enjoys ham to go to their site and not start imagining the salty, sweet tang of the fine Iberico hams. I'd love to try the so-called vintage hams, such as those produced by Maldonado, I've had a whole leg before and I don't think my carving did it justice - has to be hand-carved and it's a skill that takes a lot of practice. Lots of expensive waste. And with those vintage hams, that can mean very expensive.

Jamon, jamon,

This leads me on to another thought that keeps recurring. We learn so little about meat and butchery, I wonder why independent butchers don't run courses to educate those willing to learn on the cuts we can eat, and how to carve and cut meat properly. I can see myself in a butcher's apron with a straw boater.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Shoe Polish

A benchmark in shoe stamina

It says something about me, but I kept a photo of Prince Charles' shoes as my desktop background for a while. I marvelled at their shine and their almost knackeredness, the juxtaposition with the trouser cloth. I imagined his love for them, the smile on his face as he greeted his two old friends once more - always there for him over the years, ever dependable. I understood that. Nothing showy or ostentatious, but shouting style in a whisper. I think he dresses incredibly well. Whenever I'm in Italy, a country that respects male style, he is often held up as beacon of the English style that they try to emulate. These shoes are the epitome of that style, but I think a bridge too far for most Italians. They don't much go for shabby chic. It's a remarkable feat (for feet) that they have held together long enough to achieve that patina and crustiness, like a vintage bottle of port. Would I patch-up a pair of my shoes? Not sure, but patched and polished has never looked so good.

Monday, 22 November 2010

John Smedley - The Other Woman

I bought my first John Smedley sweater in the late 80s. I think the shop was a branch of Greenwoods. It was one of the three-button collared shirt variety. Very sharp. I loved it and wore and wore it. Casual, acid jazzer, mod, preppy - they work with any clean-cut look. And I've always gone for the clean-cut look. I got a bit larger and it was handed on. Smedleys take some wearing out.

Smorgasbord of Smedley

Since then, my love for John Smedley has remained a constant. Mrs Tweedy has come to understand this and knows that I'll be carrying out my collection of Smedleys from any fire and leaving her to grab the piglets. I love their sea island summer polo shirts as much as their extra fine merinos and have also sampled the baby cashmere and 'one' range. I've also made more than one pilgrimage to the factory shop in Derbyshire. There you'll usually find one or more Japanese tourists loading up. They know quality and they appreciate British clothing heritage, probably more than ourselves. You can be as casual or as smart as you want with them. An essential in any well-dressed man's wardrobe. I will probably drool over Smedleys in many posts to come - be warned.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A Few Gone Cats

Clever video short this, bringing to life some fine album covers. Blue Note Records got their cover art spot-on, they just ooze style.

I'd be wearing a beatnik-style polo neck sweater watching this, but they really don't suit me. Conjures up images of Absolute Beginners, late 50s London, the birth of the mod and hanging around the coffee shops of Soho.

Make mine a ristretto and a couple of those digestives, please

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Winter Shirts - Tattersalls

The Tweed Pig's finding the weather quite parky in the UK now. Rummaging through my winter shirts to step out for some Christmas shopping this morning, I couldn't find my beloved Barbour tattersall. Think it's gone, but not sure where. I'm now down to one tattersall. It's from Charles Tyrwhitt. Not a shop I buy from usually, but their tattersalls were (at the time I bought mine at least, but I don't think they sell them any more) made from a mix of wool and cotton. The wool is important. It gives the shirt the obvious warmth, but also a certain softened look. After Barbour stopped making tattersalls with wool, it was hard to find retailers that did. The cut of the collar and the fact that you can add collar stiffeners to the Tyrwitt makes it look a cut-above. You could get a similar one from somewhere like Cordings, but I'm happy to go high-street if they get it right.

Bold-check Tattersall

Okay. So shirt chosen and under it goes a navy blue extra-fine merino crew neck, matched with brown heavy cords and brown suede brogues, Tweedy's ready to step out. If the Christmas market is set up, I might just treat myself to a mulled wine. Don't tell Mrs Tweedy or the piglets.
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