Sunday, 25 December 2016

A Very Merry Christmas

Channel the Inner Poinsettia
As I was enjoying a hot chocolate with a dash of Chartreuse, a poinsettia used as a table decoration convinced me of this sweater combination for Christmas — teaming a red lambswool shawl collar sweater from William Lockie with green polka dot accessories. Both colours have deep significance at this time of year, as you'll know.

So now it's time for the incessant yell of the digital world to be hushed for Christmastime. Begone, dull care.

The larder is stocked and the drinks cabinet is heaving with appropriate drinks to be consumed from breakfast through to supper. When it comes to making merry, chance favours the prepared mind.

In keeping with the situation, a firm handshake, dear reader, and my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Candlemas on February the 2nd marks the end of Christmas, so don't be in any rush to get the celebrations and feelings of goodwill to all and sundry out of the way — and that's not the attitude to approach a celebration anyway. I know you might find it a little hard to switch off, what with your Protestant work ethic and all, but do try not to be a slave to cultural determinism and those puritanical urges —  at least not until the new year.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Magnificent Paddock Jackets from Lavenham

Traditional Paddock Jacket
In 2011, you may remember, I worked myself into a relative lather over the Lavenham quilted paddock jacket in charcoal wool you see above and below. This jacket has been an absolute trouper over the last five years, excelling when travelling and for flying visits to pubs.

I'm sure you are too much of a traditionalist not to keep a space for a green paddock jacket. For this, we look again to Lavenham. You can have other flavours of this jacket in your classic wardrobe, but it's best to start with time-honoured green and shiny like the Raydon Mens Jockey Silks (below)

Lavenham are specialists. They are able to offer the non plus ultra of paddock jackets to people like us, because paddock jackets — and derivatives thereof — are all they make in the beautiful surroundings of Lavenham, Suffolk, England.

The Raydon has impressive four inch quilts. The jockey silks element comes from the spotted lining.

Buy now and see how this style of jacket works with almost everything casual in your wardrobe. Wear it with your moleskin or cord trousers in appropriate colours, then simply add a Border Terrier or Parson Russell Terrier to exude le style Anglais.

Drakes Print Alternative for the Land Rover
Naturally, you'll also want a sleeveless quilted weskit for when you're driving your Land Rover. Lavenham have a nice one in blue.

You have the four inch quilting again, but look inside and you will see a charming cotton jockey print from Drake's.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Feathery Pringle Sweater

Not for Pruning Brambles
I don't know if this sweater is from Pringle of Scotland's archives, but it has something of the 1930s golfing sweater about it. Considering their heritage, that wouldn't be an unreasonable assumption.

I pulled it out for a weekend in lovely Fowey on recon. Look closely and you see the sweater has kind of a feathery herringbone pattern that looks like it has been woven on top. There's likely a name for this technique. I'm a fan whatever they call it. The feathering gives the sweater an unusual texture, but makes it prone to plucking (feathers pun).

I need be careful with this one. When I drop it in my Gizzi Weekender it needs to be bagged and tagged, though if the feathers pull, they pull — occupational hazard. Common sense is called for here — I wouldn't wear it when I'm cutting back brambles with Dyton.

The sweater is made from super-softest cashmere — how the quality can vary in this regard — with a dash of mohair to provide a little bit of furriness. Pringle dabble in runway fashion to satisfy the editorials of fashion magazines and to excite fashionistas (whatever they might be), but they also continue to bring out classics to satisfy the fogiest fogey amongst us.

The pattern, shape and colour of this sweater give it timeless good looks. Hence its appearance on the pages and torso of The Tweed Pig.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Winning Tactics for the Christmas Scrooge Look

Full Scrooge
When the thermometer is plunging — and you're certainly not prepared to have the central heating on constantly — wearing a nightcap on your bonce can make all the difference in winter. It's actually a myth that you lose most of your body heat through your head, but any parts not covered in blankets whilst you are sleeping will benefit from some cover. Tweed Towers is drafty.

If you're going to wear a nightcap, you may as well go full Scrooge at this time of year and don a nightshirt too. You'll look the part when you're calling for the biggest turkey in the shop on Christmas morning and opening your presents, Champagne in hand.

Lee Valley Clothing of Ireland have been making nightshirts and nightcaps in classic cotton flannel designs since 1986.

The Blue and Cream Irish Nightcap from Lee Valley (top) and matching collarless Blue and Cream Irish Nightshirt (below) are available exclusively — as part of their Blarney Stone Range (!) — from our good friends at Woods of Shropshire.

The nightcap is 26' long, with traditional pom-pom to the tail.

The nightshirt has a four-button style that you pull over the head, with long sleeves and breast pocket.

For those readers living in warmer climes, don't feel left out. Wearing a  tropical-weight nightshirt in Batiste cotton or linen on a hot and sultry night also makes perfect sense. I'll try and look into those next summer.

Channel the Inner Wee Willie Winkie
If you don't mind losing the pom-pom, and you want to make a bigger impression with your nightcap, you may wish to channel the inner Wee Willie Winkie with the Red Striped Flanellette Men's Nightcap from Somax (below), also supplied by Woods of Shropshire.

The matching nightshirt (below) has a collar and the time-honoured four-button over-the-head style once more.

I know — you're a pyjama-wearer and you've never tried a nightshirt and nightcap. I don't want to push things too quickly and I don't want you to give up on traditional pyjamas either. This is about variety being the spice of whatnot. Perhaps you can start with a nightcap and matching pyjamas, then make the switch to the nightcap and nightshirt when you're mentally prepared — or you've drunk enough Champagne.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Carpincho Gloves

Table Cut Gloves
The chaps at Jeeves shop provide a made-to-order glove making service. You choose the leather and the lining and send in your measurements and the gloves are table cut by hand by specialist glove makers in Transylvania, Romania. (Cue recommendation for the wonderful Dacia Express train journey from Vienna through Transylvania to Bucharest and Old Town clothing).

Jeeves offers a less typical option for the gloves you wish to have made: leather from the carpincho (or capybara). The carpincho, native to South America, is the biggest species of rodent.

Traditional glove leathers have their qualities, like soft deerskin and pliable wild peccary (pigskin) — and Jeeves Store provides these options — but what does carpincho leather provide? Carpincho leather has a grain that stretches in one direction, which makes it ideal for glove making as it prevents the gloves from becoming loose over time. The leather is also heat resistant, but I'm unsure how a glove benefits from this — unless you're holding a hot mug of tea out in the wilds.

The carpincho gloves from Jeeves shop are made in nubuck in a variety of colours, with the grain rubbed down to produce a soft suede-like nap. The verdant green carpincho gloves you see here are an unlined ready-made option. Didn't Miss Skiffins wear green gloves to great literary effect in Dickens' Great Expectations? Whether there is any significance to the colour of the gloves in that novel, we understand it as a gentleman's classic.

Quirky Gloves
A special thing to note about the gloves supplied by Jeeves is that they incorporate traditional 'quirks', which are  'diamond shaped pieces of leather that go between the finger, giving the fingers more shape and allowing for more movement.' 

If you are choosing made-to-order gloves, lining options include cashmere, lambswool and rabbit fur, but you can also choose unlined or a detachable liner.

If a gentleman is known by his gloves and his shoes, then a pair of carpincho gloves will have you properly covered for the upper appendages.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Anderson and Sheppard Bespoke

The Most Flattering Silhouette Imaginable
In the video below you will see how Anderson and Sheppard measure you up for a suit of clothes that will make the very best of you.

Rounded shoulders? Pot belly? Generally lacking in symmetry? Not to worry; this is all perfectly normal. With the right selection of cloth, and the expertise of cutter and sewer, all can be concealed by the magic of a bespoke suit. In return, you will gain the most flattering and heroic silhouette imaginable.

'Anderson and Sheppard style is not a kind of modern thing.'  

Actor - Anton Walbrook

Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook is now live on The Elegant Male. As always, keep the suggestions coming in.

Anton, born Adolf Anton Wilhelm Wohlbrück in Vienna, receives a coveted place due to the innate suavity he brought to his film roles, standouts being GaslightDangerous Moonlight and The Red Shoes (which has to be seen by means of Criterion's restored and remastered reissue).

Congratulations Anton.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Star of Bethlehem

Christmas Classic
Lotte Reiniger is famous for the utterly charming animations she made using paper silhouettes that were painstakingly cut, mounted with articulations and motioned puppet-like by hand. Many of the artifacts used in her animations are being conserved and archived by the BFI, who, rather excitingly, have introduced a BFI Player service for the UK. I'm very tempted, but I read the app isn't quite tickety-boo right now. I will continue with Curzon Home Cinema and watch the other space with anticipation. With film viewing options like this, it was an easy decision to hand back the TV license and not have to suffer the narrow worldview of the BBC and the tripe they are broadcasting in the name of public service.

One of Lotte Reiniger's earliest films is The Star of Bethlehem, which she first produced with her husband Carl Koch when they were living in Berlin in 1921. A colour version was later produced in England in 1956, which included the Gothic devils below (subsequently cut from the American release).

The Lotte Reiniger animations in the BFI archive have been restored and digitised. What great work the BFI have done. In 2008, they released Lotte Reiniger - The Fairy Tale Films as a two-DVD collection that features the delightful fairy tale animations Lotte produced from 1922 to 1961.

In 2013, the BFI released in high definition Lotte's The Adventures of Prince Achmed from 1926, which is based on the stories of One Thousand and One Nights and is the oldest feature-length animation in existence. Take that Disney. The 1956 version of The Star of Bethlehem  is included as one of a number of extras on the DVD.

Gather your folk, young and old, crack open the mince pies, and enjoy a snippet of the BFI's restored The Star of Bethlehem below, which features the lovely original soundtrack with Christmas carols sung by the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus.

In order to guarantee family-friendly viewing on Christmas day, even if it's just the background to unwrapping presents, drinking eggnog and so forth, you'd set a suitable mood with the gentle and enchanting work of Lotte Reiniger.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Foster and Son - Elegance and Masculinity

Oldest Established London Bespoke Shoemaker
Below we see a short but highly informative video presented by Richard Edgecliffe-Johnson, Chairman of Foster & Son, explaining the history of Foster's bespoke London shoe-making business. He also describes a little bit of the process of making their bespoke shoes.

Richard believes that Foster & Son have survived because their dedication to crafting shoes of great quality and beauty has been uncompromising.

Having watched it, I don't know what you think, but the last making looks very difficult indeed. I have trouble sharpening a pencil. The lasts look like mini works of art in themselves.

Richard is entirely correct when he says a 'classic English handmade shoe has a degree of refinement, elegance and masculinity in a design that's unique'.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

A Timeless Christmas Carol

Hand & Eye of London
Hand & Eye, founded by Phil Abel in 1985, is a London-based printer of books, posters, invitations and stationery. Hand & Eye can hand set letters in the Gutenberg manner of movable type for small print jobs, like invitations, but also use hot-metal typesetting using the Monotype system for larger jobs.

You will be duly, and festively, impressed by their own special edition of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with twenty-five illustrations by Angela Barrett some of which are hand coloured by the artist.

The beautiful special edition (right below and above) uses a Monotype Walbaum and Old Face Open typesetting and Somerset Book printing paper — an archival-quality paper made from cotton by St Cuthbert's Mill in Wells, Somerset. The book is bound in green book cloth with a red leather spine.

This a book for your top shelf of top-notch tomes that will be handed on to the future generations of yourself, which is an awful lot nicer than handing over the login details for your Kindle purchases. They will thank you for your perspicacity.

Somerset Book from Wells
Interested in the cotton paper produced in Wells? I think we all are. St Cuthbert's Mill has been making paper in the small but perfectly formed city of Wells since the 1700s. Somerset Book is intended for limited edition prints. Available in four finishes (book, satin, velvet and textured), the paper has 'superior surface stability' for printing and is manufactured to 'last for hundreds of years (in good storage conditions) and won’t discolour or fall apart'.

We try to feature only things that are made to last on The Tweed Pig, but the paper made by St Cuthberts Mill probably takes the prize in terms of longevity. If I gave it some thought, there might be others in contention, but you get the drift.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Handsome Hanson Wool Scarf

Huge Scarf
Here's the companion post to Handsome Hanson Silk Scarf with the second of the Daniel Hanson scarves that will see me good throughout the year. This scarf is definitely for the winter months — long and warm, it's made from impossibly soft Jacquard wool backed in silk. The scarf is an absolute joy to wear.

As you can see, the scarf is on the pretty big side, though not quite a 'Tom Baker' in length. They say big scarves are all the rage right now, but we don't pay any attention to such silly pronouncements. However, considering the weather we've been having recently, the bigger the better as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Knowing Your Champagne

Choosing Champagne
If you're looking to swill Champagne as soon as you've put on your housecoat on Christmas morning, use the three experts on your face — your mouth, nose and eyes —to choose the right one.

Let's have a quick recap of the types of champagne available. Remember: only doll out to guests what you're happy to drink yourself.

Vintage or Not
Non-Vintage (NV) Champagne — increasingly called multi-vintage — 'signature' or 'classic' Champagne is a (cuvée) blend of wines from different harvests.

Vintage Champagne is made from grapes grown in the year shown on the label, when the growing conditions were right. The production of vintage Champagne is a lengthier process aimed at bringing out the best of the harvest. This is the Champagne you save for your inner circle.

The sweetness level of Champagnes goes from the bone dry Ultra (or Nature) Brut to the sweet Demi-Sec, and, rarely, to the sticky sweet Doux pudding Champagne. Sugar is added to the Champagne producing process all the way up to Extra Brut. In fact, it's only the Ultra Brut that gets zero sugar. Brut has the average level and is regarded as a dry Champagne.

Three types of grape are used to make Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. If they are all blended together, you get a Blancs Champagne. If they are not blended together, you get:

Blanc de Blancs is (generally) made from white Chardonnay grapes and gives a golden colour and an apple taste
Blanc de Noirs is made from black Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, that are pressed after picking so they do not get colour from the skins, to give a berry taste
Rosé introduces an amount of the Pinot grape to add some of their flavour to the Blanc de Blancs style of wine.    

Buying Champagne
In general, choosing wine is an absolute battlefield. How easy it is for us to be taken in by the gold foil and embossing on the front of a wine label and the fanciful description on the back; the careful designs intended to have us salivating and whipping out the wallet pronto. If you're hungry and you're reading how wonderful the wine is matched with some delicious-sounding food, there'll be no going back.

You want to buy with confidence and savour rather than endure every drop, so choose a wine merchant who is knowledgeable and can offer such reliable advice that they recommend winners time and again.

Well-established merchants will have the networks in place to get secure the good stuff. Berry Bros and Rudd (1698) come to mind in London — wonderful shop. In the West Country, we have the formidable Averys of Bristol (1793), fifth-generation wine merchants, who provide your very own wine advisor to help you match your dreams to bottles. The somewhat newer Somerset Wine Company - closer to Tweed Towers, who provides excellent service.

If you're wondering where is best near you, have a dekko at the list Jancis Robinson has compiled of reputable merchants around the UK.

Averys have some tempting bottles of bubbles to stash away for Christmas.

Granted, we need a snappier name, but always find room for English sparkling wine. The Spanish adopted cava (or cellar) to distinguish from Champagne and they now have a Denominación de Origen. Averys recommend Hattingley Valley Classic Cuvée 2013 as 'a sparkling wine of the highest calibre'.

Whatever Champagne you choose this Christmas, don't forget you need to kill the Champagne bottle in the proper way.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The London Polo Neck

London Made Me
Percival have introduced an entirely Made in London collection this December, which is limited to thirty of each piece.

If you like the look of this striped polo neck, you'd better be quick. If you run the numbers, the percentage of the UK population able to obtain the sweater is ~ 0.00005%. It's a bigger chance than winning the lottery, but still.

The sweater has a medium weight and is made from lambswool. The tufted weave is based on 'Persian hand woven rugs and blankets'.

A lead guitarist in a hip beat group would look the part in this sweater. In fact, I would say that coming into possession of this sweater would be reason alone to form a group, with its talisman-like good looks and all. You know what they say, get the sweater right and everything else will follow.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

God Save the Christmas Pudding

Pudding Satisfaction
I don't think we ever get through a Christmas period without mentioning Fortnum & Mason. They understand one of things we want from Christmas — overindulgence. On the Christmas pudding front, they offer a perfect pairing to satisfy our needs. You have a few days left to have the King George Christmas Pudding and the Christmas Pudding Madeira shipped to your door.

The King George Christmas Pudding is handmade 'from the first step to the last' with sultanas, almonds, pruneaux d’Agen, beef suet, Cognac and Pusser's full-strength navy rum. I would happily sweep everything else aside and devour this straight from the bowl on Christmas day if I could get away with it. God save the majestic King George Christmas Pudding. 

The half-bottle Christmas Pudding Madeira comes from Barbeito of the Madeira Islands, who have produced an exclusive blend of this fortified wine for Fortnum's that is able to stand up to 'the powerful, rich fruit of a Christmas pudding'.

Leave a little room after your goose for these treats, I implore you.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Traditional Barbour Christmas

Nice Celebrity
Most celebrity endorsements don't work because modern celebrities generally have no admirable qualities — awful, tattooed, 'look at me' miscreants the lot of 'em. Who wants to be associated with that lot?

Barbour, on the other hand, has been very clever this year by working with a great seasonal friend of The Tweed Pig who has impeccable qualities — the Snowman. He's quite literally as pure as the driven snow.

We admire the 'snowmanity' of Raymond Briggs' story. The Snowman is a traditional pyjama-clad Christmas Eve watch at Tweed Towers. Actually, we've probably covered old Snowsy more than any flesh-based person:
The Snowman was a Friend of David Bowie, Actually

The Snow Gentlemen 
The Snowman in Barbour
For Barbour's Christmas campaign, we see that our Snowman is partial to a drop of Barbour, as in the advert above.

Barbour has also released a new animation (below) featuring the Snowman in the charming style of the original, with its string orchestration and sentiment. In the short clip, a Barbour-clad young man looks back on a magical Christmas night. If I have a slight niggle, it's that the boy isn't wearing traditional pyjamas and a house coat at the start. Other than that, fantastic.

Outdoor and Country
I made one of my regular visits to the biggest Barbour shop in Britain at Blackbrook in rural Staffordshire last weekend, before enjoying a festive ale at The White Lion (1614) in Barthomley. Part of the Outdoor and Country group, the Blackbrook Barbour shop is festooned with Snowman regalia to get you in the mood for buying Barbour clothes and enjoying the Christmas period wearing them. Well, it certainly had that effect on me.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Grey Matter - Merchant Fox Ties and Pins

A Tie to Raise Spirits
I'm gravitating towards tones at the moment — blacks and whites and all the greyness in between. Perhaps it's the book on the original dandies I read recently, with their rigid and non-colourful palette. It was a wake-up call. Outside of the summer hols period, I'll more soberly dressed, but maybe I've been lurching too far into foppishness of late. Oh, before I forget, I just made a note that I should reproduce some of Edith Sitwell's writing from English Eccentrics on notable macaronis, jessamies and dandies. Keep an eye out for it.

Pursuant to the preamble on tones, the Slate Houndstooth Fox Flannel tie (below) from the Merchant Fox appeals. Handmade in England and finished with black silk tips. The texture of the tie gives interest, and the shade of grey and size of blade gives timeless wear-ability.

Ageless and evergreen, one look at the tie and spirits rise and their dance is unrehearsed, which is what you should look for in a tie.

Pin for the Blazer
The tie must be accompanied by one of the Merchant Fox limited edition lapel pins and chains created in conjunction with men's outfitters Michael Jondral of Hanover, Lower Saxony. Wear it on your blazer (origin of the word blazer here) as in the top photo for a not-overly foppish flourish.

The lapel pins are hand made by a Master Silversmith from sterling silver — fully hallmarked — and feature either a fox mask or tailor's shears, which are made by made by the age-old process of lost wax casting.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Cord Trousers from Turnbull & Asser

Happy When it Rains
I've just taken delivery of a pair of blue cord trousers from Turnbull & Asser. They're a bit stiff at the moment, as decent cords tend to be until they've moulded into shape through wear. I need to stretch about in them for a couple of days.

Made in England from a good wide-wale cord, I'm pleased with these new additions to my corduroy stable. To be honest, if it's bucketing down with rain, I'm rarely to be found in trousers made from any other material. I don't want to go through the hassle of getting wool trousers cleaned and pressed after being caught in a downpour. A good pair of cords can take on the rain like no other trousers.

Here we see some nice Turnbull touches to the cords. The buttons have a nice look about them, and the trousers are lined for added comfort.

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