Friday, 29 April 2011

Timeless Wedding Advice from The Chaps

Intended for Prince William, the sage advice given on this clip from the chaps at The Chap would be applicable to any man about to take the plunge.

The checklist doesn't seem to have missed anything: Kid gloves, cravat, moustache, tea and snuff.

Twinings and Waitrose - Tea and Trifle Fit for a Celebration

Tea and trifle. Ah, is there a better way to celebrate having a day off for the Royal Wedding than tucking in to Heston Blumenthal's Royal Trifle created for Waitrose, whilst sipping on some of Twinings Commemorative Blend tea? It's almost as if you were there.

The trifle is actually a combination of Eton mess and trifle, with strawberry and Champagne compote, saffron cream, amaretto biscuits, meringue, and topped with confetti of dried strawberries, dried sugared rose petals and caramelised almonds. For my money, I'd like to see this on the shelves again for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year. Delicious.   

Twinings' Commemorative Blend is a white Earl Grey, with white tea leaves infused with bergamot and rose petal flavour. Very nice. Good to see white tea on the shelves too. 

Good luck to the couple from all at Tweed Towers.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Old-School British Dance Music

I don't mind a bit of electro-swing now and then, but there'll always be room for the old-school dance music. The British Dance Bands and Their Vocalists is a great value 4-CD compilation of British dance band music from the 30s and 40s, with the big name singers of the time, including Al Bowlly (above), Archie Lewis and Anne Shelton. The quality of the transfer from the original 78s is good, although I don't mind a recording showing its age, a few crackles and pops adding interest like the wrinkles on a distinguished fizzog.

The songs include such timeless classics as Shine on Harvest Moon, A Nigthingale Sang in Berkeley Square and Besame Mucho. Some not so familar titles, to me anyway, include Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga. There was a film made of Madame La Zonga in 1941. I must look into that, she sounds like an interesting lady judging by the lyrics.

Maybe you're looking for some of this kind of music, but you think this whole CD business a hassle? Past Perfect might be the answer, as they can supply pre-loaded iPods filled with remastered vintage music. If CDs are good for you, they stock a wonderful collection of those too.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Baracuta - Harrington

The Harrington jacket has never lost relevance since first created in Stockport, England by Baracuta in the 1930s. Happily, the company continues to make the jacket that gave a delinquent edge to Elvis in King Creole in the 50s and mod cool to Steve McQueen in the 60s. Elvis favoured the beige and McQueen wore beige and blue. Safe military colours that will look well with most things, I've always liked the bottle green too.

Of course, chums, we'll go for the Made in England range, because we appreciate the significance of the heritage and label. You may prefer the classic G9, but old Tweedy likes the G4 with the side-adjusters rather than the usual elasticated waist.

I'm thinking of a new design for a jacket as I write. In my imagination I see The Fairford - after the RAF base and Air Tattoo. Behold the sky-blue colour in a super-lightweight yet windproof material, specifically designed for travelling, with large poacher's pockets inside and zipped 'hidden' pocket for credit cards. Subtle Tweed Pig x Baracuta logo inside. Should it be reversible? Should it have a removable quilted lining? Hard work this designing. I think I'll stick to the G4.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Coate's for Shaving and Brushing

Our friends at the The Gentleman's Shop have been in touch to bring you some news on the cult British grooming brand, Coate's. The Gentleman's Shop are busy reinvigorating the brand by reintroducing its shaving cream and hairbrushes, including the Coate's 36 satinwood club handle beauty above. Shaving soap and aftershave balms will follow.

Coate's was founded in 1847 by James Coate, who exhibited their range of hair and shaving products, and toothbrushes, at the 1851 Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace. The company was originally based in Bow, London, then moved to Chard, Somerset & Axminster, Devon in 1883. For some time it shared its Somerset facilities with Simpson Shaving Brushes, after Simpson's factory was bombed in World War Two. More on Simpson Shaving Brushes later.

Coate's is now located in Hungerford, England, where The Gentleman's Shop is based, and the rich heritage of manufacturing the highest quality shaving products available continues.

The Tweed Pig seal of approval comes from all the products being made in England. These products are massively in demand abroad, so come on us Brits, let's take our grooming seriously, smarten up and support our local manufacturers and retailers. Tweedy out. 

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Friday, 22 April 2011

Trench Coat Heroes - Jean-Pierre Melville

Ultimate Trench Coat Hero
Heroes, specifically anti-heroes, wear trench coats; we know that. But who's the ultimate trench coat hero? Bogart? Certainly an archetypal trench coat wearer. But for the ultimate trench coterie, old Tweedy suggests the Gallic-noir crime films of Jean-Pierre Melville, and their moody anti-heroes played by the actors Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

And the Oscar Goes to Aquascutum
Melville used trench coats so much that they should have credits at the end of the films. It's said that they're used as symbols of the genre and of the characters that wear them. Le Doulos and Le Samourai are packed with trench coat scenes, but they're also cracking crime capers. Perfect with a hard slug of scotch in a tough square glass, no ice.

Here's looking at you, Jean-Pierre.    

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Trench Coat Warfare #3: Mackintosh

Mackintosh has such an association with raincoats that the name mac has become a general term for such coats. As I've said before, it's always a good idea to go to a specialist if you want quality. And macs are what Mackintosh do. Their coats were first sold in 1824 and made of the proper rubber-bonded cotton that is totally waterproof. Brilliantly, this type of coat is still being made in the UK. They have moved into other styles of coat now and other fabrics, but not too far, and there have been some interesting collaborations, such as the one with the French multi-media brand and fashion label Kitsune.

Such is the appreciation and demand for the brand in Japan, it was almost inevitable that it would be bought by a Japanese company, as it was in 2007. The Japanese generally respect heritage, provenance and workmanship - so their custodianship over the last few years has been positive. I like all their new styles, but there's a gap in my wardrobe that could very easily be filled with the Downfield Short (pictured) in particular, with its trench coat touches.

Note to German readers, I've seen Mackintosh coats on sale in the wonderful Manufactum shop in Munich.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Trench Coat Warfare #2: Aquascutum

Right-thinking mods, with their eye for detail, will always keep a trench coat in their armoury. Paul Weller's been wearing variations on the trench for many years.

The trench coat I'm wearing here is a tan-coloured example by Aquascutum (meaning watershield). Incidentally, I think Weller's wearing an Aquascutum scarf in the top photo. Made in Italy, this one isn't made from a fully-waterproof rubber-bonded cotton material, rather it's a heavy but soft cotton that will resist a decent shower.

The coat has epaulettes, single vent, waist belt and cuff straps with leather buckles, and a storm flap over the shoulders to the front. It's pretty thick and lined, so more of a coat for the colder months. It has some D-rings on the belt as a throwback to its military history too.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Trench Coat Warfare #1: Burberry

Trench Coat = Essential
Considering the wet climate we have in the UK, I wonder why so few people have raincoats? I'm thinking  particularly of the trench coat — such a versatile item of clothing.

We're all aware of the British military history of the trench coat, and the claims of Burberry and Aquascutum to be its originators. It's these practical antecedents, an item of clothing designed for purpose, that has probably given this style of coat its longevity. They look well with practically any clothes combination too.

This Burberry trench coat is a proper one meaning it's fully waterproof being made of rubber-bonded cotton. I bought black as a change from the traditional beige/tan colours. There's a little bit of Michael Caine's Get Carter to it, I thought.

Made in England, it's a wonderful coat. Brilliant in wet weather and in smartening up casual dress. It doesn't look like it has to be worn with suits. Versatility is what I'm reaching for.

The coat has epaulettes, single vent, waist belt, storm flap over the shoulders to the front and cuff straps. With my Fox umbrella, I can stride out in torrential rain with great confidence. My shins might feel the rain a bit, but there's no getting around that. I refuse to wear waterproof trousers unless I'm fishing.
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