Tuesday, 30 April 2013
I wish to extend an apology to this belt from Wolsey. I've been meaning to feature it for a while and never finding the time. If, ahem, donations were to suddenly flood in, however, I'm guessing I would suddenly have all the time in the world. Anyway, poor belt, I didn't want it to disappear before I expressed my admiration.
Wolsey is Bloody Old
Wolsey has been in existence since 1755 - so it's a fairly old British brand and one of the world's first, being named after 15/16th century mover-and-shaker Cardinal Wolsey. In 1755, the Seven Years War against the French was taking place in North America. The British redcoats were probably wearing Wolsey hosiery. Their sons could pack a Kent comb for the American revolution a few years later.
Wolsey is still a British company too, part of the Matalan Group. And it's a proud possessor of a Royal Warrant.
About the Belt
Wolsey's Sudbury Plaited Leather Belt is made in England, hand-plaited with Italian leather and with a brass buckle. Smashing.
Monday, 29 April 2013
Stanley Ley Tunic Shirts
At the start of the year we spoke about the attractive tunic shirts from New & Lingwood. The current craze for tunic shirts that we're fomenting continues.
Remember Francis Bown mentioning lawyer's shops around Chancery Lane that sold tunic shirts and collars? One such is Stanley Ley, who does Bengal striped shirts that come with two detachable day collars (as above). You might want to add a white cutaway day collar too.
The general advice for tunic shirts is that the collar is a size bigger than the collarband of the tunic shirt. Detachable collars are actually starting to make a lot of sense, if only for the practicalities of laundering and ironing.
Darcy Clothing also sell tunic shirts, collars and collar studs online. Tread carefully if you do not want to dress like an extra from a period drama. But if that's what you're looking for, tread as carelessly as you like.
Perhaps go for a Boardwalk Empire-style Edwardian collar like the one below, which is made in England.
The swivel-head collar studs to connect your collar are also made in the UK.
Saturday, 27 April 2013
We're All Mods Now
Clean-cut looks will never go out of style. A tidy haircut or a polished shoe will never age. This is why the mod aesthetic was built to last. It's smart. And it helped that its soundtrack was the best that popular music had to offer.
Richard Weight's new book, Mod - a Very British Style, charts the history of mod culture from the modern jazz lovers of the 60s to later incarnations such as the clothes-obsessed football casuals of the 80s, and also mod's lasting influence on art and popular culture.
The mod ethos is future-facing and constantly changing - but, like any culture, there are non-verbal social signifiers - attitude and clothes - that communicate belonging. But cultures also exclude by signalling what they do not represent. And mods have always been elitist in the best possible sense, a sophisticated gang apart. This is where the book has attracted controversy, introducing some fairly unusual members to the mod family, such as glam rockers. I'll have to agree with the classic mod fraternity here, surely glam rockers were way to scruffy?
Mod - a Very British Style is available as a hardback on The Bodley Head imprint from Random House and also as a Kindle edition [Amazon].
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Pipe and Slippers - The Classic Combination
I walked past a building site in Marlborough the other day and saw a builder contemplating his work with a pipe in his mouth, puffing away deep in thought. This was no old man either, we're talking early twenties. It was a heart-warming sight of unfettered individualism. Based on this scant evidence, I detect a resurgence in pipe-smoking amongst the youth of Britain. I do hope he wears a decent pair of slippers at home too.
The pipe and slippers combination, though much misunderstood over the centuries, is one of the classic pairings. Get it right and you transcend the zeitgeist, soaring to that rarefied plane of timeless classicism.
I've decided to pair-up some pipes and slippers I think work well. You can add your own soundtrack, but I'd suggest Pretty [Amazon] from Gregory Porter's Water album with this combination.
Porsche P 3611 Pipe
The Porsche P 3611 is in the classic billiard style, with bowl in polished briar and an acrylic mouthpiece. The ribs help keep the bowl cool. I believe Gubbels (1870) of the Netherlands make these pipes. Or perhaps made, as Gubbels declared bankruptcy last year - in which case these Porsche pipes could become very collectable. Maybe a Dutch reader can inform us of the current situation with Gubbels?
Winkers The Crays Slippers
James Ducker and Deborah Carré, our good friends at shoemaker carréducker, have a sideline in creating a kind of slipper (for the purposes of this article) described as a 'resort shoe'. They're called Winkers and the style you see above and below is from the Crays collection. Leather-soled, the upper is in Irish linen, with a crayfish design by designers and retailers Thornback and Peel.
Yes, I can see myself putting my feet up in a pair of Winkers, drawing on my P 3611 as the waves of the Mediterranean lap hypnotically in the background and the cicadas click their rhythmic percussion.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
St George's Day
A Happy Saint George's Day to all our English readers. Put your rose martini in your hand and let's raise a toast: "To England." Now let's go about our business. We don't want to make a fuss.
Later today, I would suggest you go for a celebratory afternoon tea with a red rose in your lapel. Order some rose tea too. Am I overdoing the rose?
Sound the Trumpet
To get you in an English mood, let's herald in the day and listen to the highly talented trumpeter Alison Balsom and counter-tenor Iestyn Davies performing Purcell's Sound the Trumpet and Handel's Eternal Source of Light Divine from her album Sound the Trumpet [Amazon].In fact, every day should start with Purcell's Sound the Trumpet. Is there a more English sound than this? What do you mean Adele?
Monday, 22 April 2013
Made in Britain Returning to the High Street
Our man-on-the-ground at Jigsaw, the British retailer, has been in touch, gents. Jigsaw has a couple of articles they thought you might be interested in. I've added links below. Thanks Jigsaw.
By the way, did you know that Jigsaw use one or two British manufacturers familiar to us? Yes, those nicely coordinated examples of socks from CORGI and suede shoes from Sanders above are made for Jigsaw.
The Tweed Run
This one has some tidbits from the 2013 Tweed Run.
This one is all about Linton Tweeds (1912) of Carlisle, England, the makers of the original fabrics used in the famous Chanel Suit. I was particularly interested in this one. I enjoy learning about the Great British cloth-makers. But they're a diffident bunch, by-and-large. Linton, if you read us, get in touch and help us tell the world about your glorious history.
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Tea Drinkers Outed by Victoria Wood
First we had Sherlock Holmes, now Doctor Who and Morrissey have been outed as inveterate and unapologetic British tea drinkers in a hard-hitting BBC documentary presented by our dear own Victoria Wood. It's encouraging to see that people in the public eye are putting their careers on the line to stand up for our national drink (alongside bitter).
Timelord is a Heavy Tea Drinker
Dr Who (above) revealed to Wood that he was a heavy tea drinker, whilst knocking back a pot of Earl Grey as they enjoyed the famous afternoon tea at Claridges.
Morrissey's Teapot Dazzles
Lancashire comic duo Morrissey and Wood got together in New York to discuss tea's capability of uniting the people of Great Britain, mainly as a powerful aid to grumbling. Morrissey revealed a rather fetching green teapot filled with weak Ceylon tea. Of some age, the teapot was made in Paris and bought in Rome, he informed us. He rather heroically takes this teapot on his travels. Possibly to emphasise his tea-drinking credentials, or to show off to Wood, he also boasted that he had never drunk coffee.
Tea Leaf Tendencies?
If you're new to tea, here are a few selected posts of suppliers that will give you support and a fittingly gentle introduction to the Queen of leaves.
"Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervous sensibilities ... will always be the favourite beverage of the intellectual." Thomas De Quincey
Thursday, 18 April 2013
Patrick Grant - The New Designer at Debenhams
Debenhams, the British retailer, was founded in 1778. And it's still going strong. You will find a Debenhams department store on the high street of most British cities selling clothes, cosmetics, homeware and the usual departmental things. It also has operations in other countries.
I'll venture that you probably haven't taken many detours into your local branch in recent years. They haven't exactly been catering for the hunter-outer of classic British clothing styles. If you'd wanted your eyebrows threading you would have been fine, but if you had been looking for a brogue with a classic Dainite sole, no joy. (Must do a post on Dainite sometime.)
Things might be a-changing, however. Or they might not be. In other words what shall we make of the new Debenhams collaboration with Patrick Grant? Patrick, of Savile Row tailors and outfitters Norton & Sons and E. Tautz, is involved with their forthcoming Hammond & Co. by Patrick Grant menswear range, which will be launched at the back end of the year.
From the press release on suits from the range: "The Savile Row bespoke suit is the epitome of men’s tailoring. With Hammond & Co we have worked hard to ensure the synonymous cut, subtle flair and the perfect proportion is present through every piece." says Patrick Grant.
Hammond & Co. was founded in 1776. It was the name of a tailoring house based in Oxford Street, London, which also had branches in Paris, Brussels and Vienna. And the tailor Edward Tautz of E. Tautz fame used to work for them. I imagine the name has been exhumed for this project. That's all I know. Any Hammond experts out there?
You can see Patrick in a Hammond & Co suit from the range above and in casual clothing below. They don't look too bad to me - as long as that suit isn't being pinned at the back. Good sensible men's clothing. What do you think? Is Hammond & Co going to coax you into a Debenhams? Not sure where the clothes will be made and you'll need to touch and try, of course. I hear talk that the Grant tartan will be used in the range too. If Debenhams tell us more, I'll let you know.
Patrick on Alterations
Can't get enough of Patrick? You will currently see him on a sewing programme on the BBC. Always good to see a well turned-out presenter, and Patrick has a pleasingly graceful presence on TV, but why the BBC is turning into Woman's Realm magazine I've no idea. Anyway, here's Patrick offering advice on clothing alterations. I can hear my tailor laughing at the thought of me with needle and thread in hand.
Tweedy's Question: Are you situated in a foreign territory? If so, please let me know if these BBC clips don't play away from Blighty's shores.
Monday, 15 April 2013
Congratulations to Adam Scott
The Masters has ended. Our congratulations to Adam Scott for his well-earned victory.
Perhaps the tournament has made you think about getting back on a course this spring? You may have already gone into your garage to check on your clubs, pulled the cobwebs off your seven iron and practised your swing in front of that unused treadmill.
If you're visualising yourself on the 18th hole at Augusta, how about some classic golfing kit to look the part? They say looking the part is half the battle. If you fancy your chances in a future Masters, what better way to intimidate Adam Scott than by dressing in classic British golfing attire (with a bit of Ferrari thrown in). Remind him where the game came from.
Intimidate Adam Scott with Your Classic Golfing Attire
Top to bottom we have:
Christy's Yorkie Snap Brim Panama hat. [Made in England]
John Smedley Adrian polo shirt in sea-island cotton with hand-linked shoulders and collar. [Made in England]
Lyle and Scott Vintage v-neck sweater with the classic golden eagle golfing logo. [Made in Scotland]
Stamford Clothiers Wool Houndstooth plus-twos. [Made in England]
House of Cheviot Rannoch Merino wool-blend reinforced socks. [Made in Scotland]
Ferrari Adept golf glove.
Foster and Son Wentworth golf shoe. [Made in England]
Alfred Dunhill Golf Accessories set, with ball markers and multi-use tool.
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
While we had Francis Bown over as guest at Tweed Towers, we thought we'd ask him if he had any book, music and film recommendations for our readers. He kindly provided the following information. Thanks to Francis for the time and effort given for our little Bown week.
Book - The Diary of A Nobody
No English gentleman is worthy of the name who is not acquainted with this comic masterpiece. For those of us who rejoice in the unending struggle for self-improvement of the petite bourgeoisie, it offers a delightful portrait of our patron saint, Mr Charles Pooter. His account of his modest triumphs and failures (his daily, unsuccessful attempt to persuade the maid to boil his breakfast eggs hard being one of the latter) has delighted persons of taste since it was written by George and Weedon Grossmith and first published in Punch in the 1880s. It appeared in book form in 1892. Mr Pooter’s careful affection for his wife, Carrie(Caroline), and his occasional exasperation with his son, Lupin, are detailed by a man who is kind, correct, concerned for his dignity and entirely devoid of self-awareness.
The version above is from Ulan Press. [Amazon]
Film - Went the Day Well?
Here is the Britain of our longings: rural, patriotic, brave and socially ordered. The film was directed by Alberto Cavalcanti and was based upon a short story by Graham Greene. In the year of its making, 1942, the risk of a German invasion was real, and therefore this story of a lovely village, Bramley End, being taken over by Nazi paratroopers, dressed as British Tommies, must have been tremendously powerful for its first audiences. It is still moving today. The courage shown by the villagers, whether it comes from the Vicar, the local poacher or from the lady of the Hall, sums up what our land means when it is at its best. That it was made at a moment of such danger perhaps explains why its sentiment never for a moment degenerates into sentimentality.
Now out on Blu-Ray from StudioCanal. [Amazon]
Music - Messe Solonnelle
The traditional Latin Mass of the Holy Roman Church is one of the glories of Western civilization. Of all the music it has inspired, this modern (1951) setting of the Kyries, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei by Jean Langlais inspires me like no other. By turns, intimate, mysterious, majestic and triumphant, it is most definitely modern, but it has none of the dissonant horror beloved of some modernists. It is wonderfully exciting – no more so, of course, than when it is performed liturgically in a magnificent church. From the age of two, Jean Langlais (1907- 1991) was blind. Yet he was recognized as one of the most brilliant organists and composers in France in the Twentieth Century. A man of faith, he dedicated this masterpiece to his parish priest.
The CD version above was recorded by Eton College Chapel Choir and is out on the British Signum Records label. [Amazon]
Tweedy's Thought: I think Bown week went rather well. It is probably a good idea to mix in some new voices and opinions to my constant wittering on. I think we might try and squeeze any future pin-ups in the same way.
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Francis Bown - Gentleman, Writer & Bespoke Hardliner
Francis Bown reviews bespoke outfitters, restaurants and hotels through his websites: Bown's Bespoke and Bown's Best. He offers advice, through personal experience, on where to find the best place to have your suit made and the best hotel or restaurant to enjoy wearing it.
Francis writes with charm and genuine affection about his subject matter. You may or may not agree wholeheartedly with his ten commandments or his reviews, but he presents an alternative position to the pervading culture of fast fashion and fast food. In so doing, it might be said that his championing of the artisan possesses a hint of rebelliousness even.
When did Francis first become interested in bespoke clothing? Let's find out...
About the Photo
"I think I must have been born with an interest in good clothes, for I have no recollection of a time when sartorial matters did not fascinate me. I like order, discipline, ‘correctness’ and fine workmanship. All these come together in a beautiful bespoke suit or a pair of bespoke shoes.
"I spent many years as a clergyman of the Church of England. (I resigned my parish and converted to Roman Catholicism, because I believed that the creation of women ‘priests’ was an act of apostasy.) When I was a parish priest (of an inner-city parish which was far from affluent), it was my constant endeavour in public worship to offer to God only the best. Part of that endeavour involved the use of the most beautiful liturgical vestments I could obtain. This I viewed as an imperative – both because it reflected the dignity of what was happening and because it assisted in that “glimpse of Heaven” which is a part of every Mass.
"Now that I dress in secular clothes, smartness is a requirement which reflects my own desire for seemliness and – more importantly – which speaks of my respect for all the people with whom I have to do, whatever their function or social rank. It is therefore a question of morality. The prevailing cult of scruffiness degrades its practitioners and indicates an unpleasant indifference to the dignity and worth of others. When I go to a restaurant, for example, it is deeply depressing to see those who consider it acceptable to arrive as a slovenly shambles and who then expect to be treated with the utmost respect by waiters for whom they clearly care not a jot.
"I began to write about sartorial matters for the news agency, Reuters. I was already producing restaurant reviews for the agency’s website, and it was suggested to me that I should also broadcast my thoughts on sartorial matters to the site’s readers. When the site eventually closed, I decided that Bown’s Bespoke and Bown’s Best should be born.
"I love true bespoke, but, of course, I understand that for many gentlemen – particularly younger gentlemen – true bespoke is simply too expensive for their current circumstances. But remember that a ready-to-wear cotton tunic shirt can be obtained relatively cheaply from one of the lawyers’ shops on or near Chancery Lane in London and a separate white, starched collar from the same shops will not cost more than £12. To wear such a shirt with a stiff collar has been the first step to sartorial greatness for many a young fellow.
"I urge everyone who cares about his appearance to study my Ten Commandments. There I counsel perfection – of course, I do – and some will find this annoying. But, if a thing is truly desired, it is strange how often life has a pleasing habit of fulfilling one’s dream, sometimes in the least expected way.
"I am by nature conservative, and my taste in clothes is conservative. And I want the best. It is fortunate, therefore, that I live in London – for the best means what I am wearing in the photograph: a bespoke suite from Henry Poole in Savile Row, bespoke shoes from Cleverley & Co. in the Royal Arcade and a bespoke shirt from Harvie & Hudson in Jermyn Street. Dressed thus, a gentleman is ready to encounter the high and the low and – with the good manners which go with sartorial propriety – to treat both with respect and courtesy."
Photography by Jack Hill.
Monday, 8 April 2013
Francis Bown's Rules on Dress
Hello everyone. As I said, I'm in Madrid and I'm probably drinking vermouth somewhere. But, as promised, we bring you some special articles from guest Francis Bown.
Some of you may already know the name. But for those who don't, let's first introduce his rules on dress and good manners - the Bown Commandments.
Francis Bown's Ten Commandments
- Thou shalt wear bespoke.
- Thou shalt walk only in leather.
- Thou shalt wear a collar and tie.
- Thou shalt have a parting.
- Thou shalt wear cuff-links.
- Thou shalt wear braces.
- Thou shalt not wear unpolished shoes.
- Thou shalt not wear unfastened cuff buttons.
- Thou shalt not use a portable telephone in a public place.
- Thou shalt not chew gum.
What are your thoughts on the commandments? Any favourites? Do you sometimes need to take a fundamentalist stance on cuff-links to elicit change? Do you have any rules of your own?
Saturday, 6 April 2013
Here's that Mackintosh coat I was telling you about in the Harry Palmer spectacles article. Palmer's is windowpane check, mine dogtooth with placket cover, but pretty similar. That's just because it's a classic look, I suppose. I wasn't making a conscious effort to go all 'Harry Palmer', I swear. Still looking for the machine gun though.
The Mackintosh is the Dunkeld model. The outer is in Loro Piana's Storm System wool. The model is also available in fully waterproof rubber-bonded cotton. A very light coat. But with the right layers warm enough for a chilly British Spring. The Scottish manufactory of this Japanese-owned company maintains the highest level of quality. You can see it in every stitch.
The Dunkeld is going to be a companion on a trip to Madrid. The forecast is showery over there, so it should be perfect. I'll be away when you read this, but you won't miss me - not even a little? - as we've devoted some entertaining features to a true arbiter of English style, a stickler to a pure Savile Row look. His opinions will both stimulate and entertain...