Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Admirable Cordings Anytime, Anywhere Jacket

The Only Jacket You Will Ever Need?
Cordings have a new summer collection out, which includes what many would consider to be the perfect jacket for almost any occasion. Come ye lovers of classic style, come ye fogeys, mods and preppies. This jacket has something for us all — meaning our kind of intersectionality.

I don't think I'm going out on a major limb when I say that the Fitrovia jacket from Cordings is perfect for any chap of any age on practically any occasion. The Thousand Guineas (at Newmarket — my favourite racecourse), a mod weekender, a sung Eucharist at a High Anglican church — this jacket can take them all on. Dammit, you could even wear it to one of the Queen's garden parties.

So what earns this jacket a place in the sartorial empyrean? The 11oz silk and cotton (in equal measures) herringbone fabric, woven in the UK, is ideally suited for the summer season. The relaxed style of the jacket, with its patch pockets, means that it works for more occasions, but always keeps things civilised.

Traditional ivy league bods and mods recognise that herringbone is one of the most versatile jacketing fabrics, always working so well with Oxford pinpoint button-down shirts.

The loose, bumpy weave of the fabric in such a neutral colour works very well with a bold regimental tie in super-smooth silk for contrast.

The jacket has a delightful half-lining printed with Cordings hunting scenes. Who doesn't like that kind of detail? If ever there was trend for wearing jackets inside-out — and it wouldn't surprise me — then this would be the jacket to choose.

Adding a woollen tie to the jacket, we're venturing into all-victorious love and hearts no longer roving territory.

Cordings the Dog?
Do you know, I'm so taken with this jacket that I think my next dog will be called Cordings. 'Here Cordings, come on boy.' I like it a lot. It was going to be Major, but hang that. The search continues by the way.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

So English

Garb for Eating Crabs
Enjoying a plate of oysters with cream and bacon at the  Crab House Café in Portland, Dorset, I spied our kind of chap at the next table wearing what I considered to be a perfect English kit for a spot of weekend grazing. (And he was sporting the newly popular Lord Lucan haircut to boot.)

I thought I would recreate his perfect crab-eating ensemble below. Note that these won't be the exact items. I would never dream of asking someone where their clothes were from or interrupting their meal. In fact, if we aren't introduced there isn't going to be any conversation at all. It's called boundaries, gents.

Harvie & Hudson - Pink Shirt in Large Gingham Check
The shirt was pink and in a large gingham check much like the one from Harvie & Hudson here.

The shirt sleeves were rolled to the elbows and the collar stiffeners were left out — as far as I could see from my table — daring!

Alan Paine - Navy Lambswool Tank Top
Worn over the shirt, a tank top (slipover or sweater vest in global currency) keeps the diner warm, but allows for freedom of movement when breaking the shell of a crab with a deft whack of a hammer.

Our good friends at Alan Paine have a great range of tank tops in winter and summer colours and fabrics.

The diner wore something like the navy lambswool v-neck here.

Ede & Ravenscroft - Checked Trousers
Wool checked trouser with reverse pleats and side-adjusters from Ede & Ravenscroft. Often, it's the jacket in this kind of fabric worn with a plain trouser. Here we challenge the orthodoxy and reverse the order.

This style from E&R has been selling like hotcakes, so you need to be quick before they disappear for the start of the summer season.

Alfred Sargent - Suede Tassel Loafers
Finally, our diner wore suede tassel loafers similar to the Carrol from the Alfred Sargent Handgrade range (top photo) in tobacco suede with a calf grain tassel.

So there you have it, the perfect kit for English casual dining. If you have suggestions for tweaks, do pop a comment below. Enjoy your meal.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Tweed TV: Saut Hermès Showjumping

Showjumping at the Gran Palais Courtesy of Hermès
Congratulations to Australia's Edwina Tops-Alexander who won the Grand Prix Hermès at the Saut Hermès showjumping competition at the Grand Palais in Paris, France, last weekend. What a fabulous venue to host a showjumping event.

Britain's John Whitaker, who has his own riding range, came sixth.

It was great to be able to watch the event on a live stream from the Saut Hermès web site (recorded video below). I would hope I can make the effort to attend another time, but it has certainly whetted my appetite for this year's British equestrian events.

Horse & Hound have a handy guide for all the major events. See you at Badminton.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Youth is a Dream

Paulo Sorrentino - Director-in-Residence
The Tweed Pig has adopted Paulo Sorrentino as our unofficial director-in-residence. (Whit Stillman, I decided, doesn't make enough films for this 'honour'.)

Paolo's films are beautiful, poetic and complex (or simple depending on how much you read into them) — with visual artistry, painstakingly arranged set pieces and unapologetically slow pacing that renders appreciative viewers spellbound.

Following on from Consequences of Love and The Great BeautyYouth [Amazon] offers another masculinist character study. With a script written by Paolo, the film contemplates the process of ageing and the consequent malaise when life's arc is descending towards decrepitude.

Michael Caine, dressed by Cesare Attolini of Naples (like Jep Gambardella in The Great Beauty), is superb as Fred Ballinger, a retired composer and conductor. Harvey Keitel, dressed by Brioni, plays Mick Boyle, a director working on a final film he hopes to be his magnum opus.

Fred and Mick are staying at a Swiss hotel, a setting of luxurious decadence. The two act as observers rather than participants, mulling their loss of vigour and creative spark as eccentric characters inhabit the mise en scène.

Mick is feeling nostalgic for the enthusiasms that fired his youth and inspired his creativity. Deep down he knows he has lost his edge in film making and the capability of having original ideas.

Fred has turned his back on his professional life, despite advances from the Queen's emissary to perform his most famous work, Simple Songs. He shuns the requests, and later explains with great poignancy why he has lost his enthusiasm.

Composer David Lang composed the original music for the film, including the moving Simple Song #3, which we get to hear in the film.

No Future
Caught up in their own predicament, the two men seem particularly helpless concerning their children. Fred's daughter, Lena, is also staying at the hotel and is married to Mick's son. Their children's marriage is falling apart. If greater insight is meant to come with age, the men are unable to offer any.

As the film progresses, the men arrive at different conclusions as to how they might accommodate past accomplishments with the impotency of the present and the colourlessness of the future.

I think I've made the film sound very bleak, when it actually has lots of humour in it. As well as being an absolute visual feast, it has one of Michael Caine's finest performances. And his hair has never looked better.

Roll on the next Paolo Sorrentino offering. I'm hearing very good things about The Young Pope with Jude Law.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Huntsman's Yak Hair Hopsack

A Noble Yarn
Huntsman of Savile Row provides suiting options in a hopsack fabric made from Mongolian yak hair. The yarn for the fabric is produced by Tengri.

Mongolian herders comb the underbellies of thousands of free-roaming semi-wild yaks to harvest the hair once a year. The buzzword here being sustainability.

London-based producers Tengri spin an undyed yarn from the hair that is a soft as cashmere, yet strong and naturally odour and water-resistant. The result is Khangai Noble Yarn, a high quality yak hair yarn that has a rare natural silver colour. A natural dye is introduced to provide an option on the fabric in ever wearable blue.

The yarn is woven into a loosely woven hopsack in a mid-weight 3.5 ounces by R. Gledhill of Delph, Yorkshire. (A mill not to be confused with Mallalieus of Delph, Lancashire — War of the Roses and all that. I remember shops in Manchester not accepting payments from Yorkshire Bank. They have long memories up there. I also remember fondly a jacket in lambswool cloth woven by the Lancashire Mallalieus. Must see what they're up to soon.)

Yaks are rather parsimonious with the amount of high-quality belly hair they can provide, much as they undoubtedly love having their bellies combed — as we all do. As a result, the fabric can only ever be produced in limited quantities. This is where you have to entrust a tailor like Huntsman to work their magic on the raw materials. Exhibit A being the jacket under construction with this fine fabric in the top photo.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Drake's Shirts - Cleeve in Twain

Old Shirts, New Reader
I shouldn't be surprised when I receive an email related to a post that was published years back. After all, what happens on the internet stays on the internet. A newly-acquired American reader got in touch to say he had been reading a post about Cleeve shirts being bought by Drake's and wondered if their current crop of shirts were also Cleeve. The shirts are still being made in Chard, Somerset, so in essence I'd say yes, though Drake's have now dropped Cleeve from the label.

Standard Details
The reader also wanted to know what to expect if he took the plunge. He's been loyal to a US shirt maker until now, but is attracted to Drake's button-down shirts.

I don't know about the button-downs, but I have a couple of the cut away collared shirts in stripes, which you can have a stickybeak at here. Standard details to note are the soft, un-fused collar and the mother of pearl buttons. The cotton is of the highest standard and the finish is excellent.

Tosh About Menswear Influencer and Style Authority
The bow tie is a bit skew-whiff in the photos, as I kept fiddling with it. I'm a terrible model, far too stiff, but at least we do it all ourselves here at Tweed Towers. We don't pay for subscribers or give ourselves silly titles like 'menswear influencer' or 'style authority'. Nor do we throw the term 'luxury' at everything. I have never, ever used the term luxury, because it is confused with indulgence; and seeking out quality and craftsmanship, and things that are made to last, should never infer extravagance.

Sweet Inverted Pleat
Some shirts have a rather terrific inverted pleat on the back. I really like this detail on the ones I have.

Let's bring in Daphne du Maurier to help out.

I realise that the photos don't provide a great deal of detail on the shirts, but I hope they give a flavour of what to expect should our reader take the plunge.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Simon Howie's Wee Black Pudding

Scotland's Favourite Butcher
Regular readers will know that I have a penchant for the traditional English breakfast, which should approach the benchmark set by the ultimate breakfast served by Hawksmoor according to the rules of the English Breakfast Society.

Black pudding is an essential ingredient for a proper English breakfast. The Wee Black Pudding from Simon Howie has become a big favourite at Tweed Towers. If you haven't tried it, you simply must.

Simon Howie is based in Perthsire, Scotland, with butcher's shops in Perth and Auchterarder, though it shouldn't be too difficult for sassenachs to obtain a Wee Black Pudding. They find their way into Tweed Towers somehow. Your local supermarket may stock them.

What is it about this black pudding? All down to the texture and ingredients, old chap. The pudding has a nice soft and smooth texture that grills to a nice crisp outer, but it's the 'caramelised apple and warming spices' that make this pudding sing.

Pitching Your Pudding
Though Simon's pudding has good purchase for hurling into a Yorkshire pudding, perhaps it wouldn't be allowed in the annual World Black Pudding Throwing Championships between Lancashire and Yorkshire in Ramsbottom, Lancashire.

I imagine the pudding must comply with certain specifications laid out in the rules of this ancient and noble game.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Commando - Zero Hour

Commando 5000
Commando have released a brand new story for their 5000th issue this month and it's a story that fittingly involves the British Commandos.

Zero Hour is the tale of Joe Hartley who joins the Commandos — formed by Churchill in 1940 — to honour the memory of his brother Terry who was killed in action fighting for the same unit. Will Joe be able to exact his revenge on the S.S. regiment who were responsible for his brother's death?

Commando first appeared in 1961, making it Britain's longest running war comic. Since that time it has brought to life the stories of 'thousands of soldiers from across the globe as they soar through the air, dive to the darkest depths of the sea and, brave the front lines of warfare on land'. 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Laddies in Lavender

A Touch of Lilac and Lavender
Sir Peregrine Worsthorne presents a magnificent combination of pink, lilac and lavender in the top picture. What a springtime display! What a punk rock provocation of sartorial defiance and individuality! We cannot do less than pay attention to each word he issues when wrapped in such a delightfully civilised way. People dress according to how they see the world and how they wish the world to see them.

Perry is not the only one who recognises the subversively cultured possibilities of lilac and lavender. Here we see Cecil Beaton in a splendid double-breasted corduroy suit.

Manolo Blahnik is also defiant in lilac and pink below, increasing the value of his message ten-fold.

Wearing lilac and lavender isn't for the faint-hearted. These men know what they're doing.

Below — not quite so brazenly — I introduce a pair of lavender trousers with a Cordings herringbone jacket. (More on this tremendous jacket soon.) By all means go full-lavender if you think you have what it takes, but you might want to introduce a touch here and there at first, and dip in and out so you don't become 'that lavender chap'. Any virtue taken to extreme becomes a vice.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Victor Muller's Duffle Coat

Allegations of Stylishness
The Dutch businessman Victor Muller is the founder of Spyker Cars and former CEO of Saab. Dubbed 'the rock star of the car world', Victor is currently on trial with former Saab employees accused of tax evasion and other corporate irregularities. I can't say I'm following the trial too closely, but the duffle coat he wore to trail this week certainly caught my attention, and was looking particularly good with the blue scarf.

You don't see many duffle coats in such a light colour. What would you say? Creamy white? Light beige? I guess the traditional colour was camel for the coats put to service by the British Royal Navy out in the North Atlantic. (We've written plenty on the beloved duffle coat.)

Memory serves, perhaps incorrectly, that a polar white or cream version was used by British Commandos in the Norwegian Campaign in the Second World War. I was hoping Gloverall might have one such for us, but to no avail. Perhaps next winter.

Pleated Trouser Gathers Momentum

Neat Pleats 
A year on from our in-depth report into the pleated trouser phenomenon, the appearance of folds on the front of our nation's trousers has gathered momentum.

Witness the Alfred trouser from Berg & Berg you see here. Alfred is available from one of our favourite Scandinavian outfitters as a handsome pleated trouser in navy and dark grey woollen twill.

What they are attempting with these Naples-made trousers is a commendable move away from the proliferation of uncomfortable low-rise, high-crotch trews that have been strangely popular for too long. The trousers have a higher rise and a wider thigh than other styles in the Berg & Berg trouser range — for which we are truly thankful.

The trousers come unfinished at the hem, which got me thinking about alternatives that could be offered to the customer of ready-made trousers. I bought a pair of Tom Ford trousers recently, purely because the thickness and rigidity of the cotton twill used in their construction was like nothing I've ever witnessed — and I felt a challenge to see how they would 'break in'. Swiss-made, by the way. The reason I mention them is that they came unfinished at the hem, but also with belt hoops unattached in a bag. As the trousers have side-adjusters, I haven't added the belt hoops, but the rise is suitable for brace buttons. I may release a few pictures some time, but what a jolly good idea. I'm all for more choice.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Safe Bets for the Cheltenham Festival

Straight Forecast
Prestbury Park is gearing up for the Cheltenham Festival this week. The Gold Cup, a chase over three miles long for horses over five years old, is running on Saint Patrick's Day. I'd like to wish our Irish readers a happy Saint Patrick's Day. It's a safe bet that most of you will be at Cheltenham for the festival this week — amongst the sea of brown trilbies and covert coats — so best of luck with your flutters too.

Cue Card or Native River are widely anticipated to take the prize — with the resultant low odds on each. Cue Card fell in the race last year, but he's priced to finish well and in good form. Both horses are trained by Colin Tizzard. You could back both in a Straight Forecast bet to amplify your certain winnings.

Delicious English Milk Stout for Saint Patrick's Day
Traditionally, a large quantity of stout is consumed at Prestbury Park during festival week. If our Irish friends can see it in themselves to drink an English stout on Saint Patrick's/Gold Cup Day, I heartily recommend the Spilt Milk stout from Bath's Electric Bear Brewing.

The street art-style labels and pump badges the brewery use for their beers aren't what a fuddy-duddy like me is used to — I'm a lions rampant insignia or Toby jug emblem kind of chap — but this English milk stout is terrific, with dark malts and lactose providing a delicious creamy coffee and chocolate taste. It's a veritable meal in itself.

Sláinte, my dear chaps.
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