7 April 2015

A few things I would like to see less of

There are many annoying things in life and I'm going to use this blog post to whinge about a few things which have been irritating me for a long time. I can't claim that these are terribly important issues to be worked up about, but for the sartorially inclined it's definitely worth addressing.

All weather jackets
The, so called, all weather jackets are still very popular many places. Why, is beyond me as it serves no other purpose than making the wearer look like someone with no interest in their own appearance. I'm not sure when the all weather jackets came onto the market but I suspect it was one of the many "brilliant" sartorial inventions of the 1980s. No matter where they come from it's time to put them away. Every time I see people wearing these jackets, the indifference saddens and annoys me. There is no such thing as a jacket which is appropriate for all seasons and still looks half decent. If you have one of these jackets, please, leave it in the closet, it's not gonna do you any favours wearing it. 

Sportswear
Why can't sportswear be reserved for actual sporting activities? People wear sports gear to just about any occasion these days. It doesn't seem to matter if you're young or old, male or female, people are parading around in their track suits and trainers no matter what they're doing. A significant number of these people look like they've got no interest in sporting activities, with the exception of possibly watching it on the telly, which makes it even worse. If you're not doing sports, don't wear sports gear. It just makes you look like someone with no ambitions in life and that's not particularly attractive.  

Sneakers and suits
I often see people wearing a suit, they may even have put on a tie and it seems like they've made an effort to look good. This is until my gaze is wondering downwards and a pair of sneakers are glaring at me. The shoes are possibly the most important part of an outfit and you will never look proper if you don't pay attention to what you put on your feet. You may think a "nice" pair of sneakers could look good with a suit, forget it, it doesn't work. 

Shoes and no socks
The last thing I'm going to complain about today has more to do with the fashion industry than people in general. In the last few years I've been seeing advertisements and fashion photography depicting men wearing the nicest clothes and most wonderful shoes, but without socks. I've been waiting for this trend to pass but, for some reason, it seems to stick. I can't possibly understand the problem with wearing socks and it looks so much better than going sockless. Unless you're wearing sandals, please wear socks. 
 
That's it for now but I've got a feeling there might be more posts like this in the future. There are plenty of things I may not like and sometimes it's good to whinge a bit. 

16 March 2015

It's quality, it's craftsmanship, it's luxury. IT'S PICKETT!

Any gentleman with a reasonable knowledge of London will be familiar with the Mayfair area and its many shops selling products of the top most quality, and companies offering all the bespoke services any gentleman could possibly need. Appropriately enough, this is also where you'll find Pickett specialising in leather goods, located in the Burlington Gardens. For 25 years Pickett has been of service to people looking for quality, handmade, leather goods. All produced by highly skilled craftsmen and women around the UK. 
 
Pickett is all about not making compromises and not taking short cuts. Values like quality and craftsmanship is at the heart of the brand and every item is personal and carries it's own story as it will have been handmade by small UK family businesses. If you want something unique that has the quality to last and the design to never go out of fashion, Pickett seems like a reasonable place to start.
 
Just by the way the Pickett brand operates, all their items are special and individualised, but if you want to take the personalisation one step further, Pickett also offer a bespoke service. All items can be made to your requirements and even if what you have in mind is not on the current Pickett repertoire, they will do what they can to make you wishes come true. As they say: "don't hesitate to get in touch however unusual your request, we love a challenge and are confident we can help with any of your bespoke enquires."     
 
Personally, I would love to have a pair of bespoke leather gloves. Having perfect fitting gloves is for me a luxury I would love to indulge in. Pickett has silk or cashmere lined gentleman's gloves which I both think would be perfect for me. They also have driving gloves that are absolutely gorgeous (top photo below). I know what I will have to do next time I visit London, I must visit Pickett in the Burlington Gardens. The thought of bespoke gloves is something I will have to pursue.
 
Below you'll find photos of a small selection of the many items available. These are some of my favourites and well worth having a look at. To get a more complete picture of what they have to offer, I suggest you start by visiting the Pickett website.
 
You've got to love these driving gloves. I just wish I had a car
to do them justice.
Photo: Taken from the Pickett website

Buying a good quality belt is an investment worth making as it
will last for decades. Pickett has just what you need.
 Photo: Taken from the Pickett website


Travel in style with this very stylish canvas garment bag with leather detailing.
Photo: Taken from the Pickett website

This ostrich leather folio is gorgeous. A statement piece like
this will definitely separate you from the crowd.
Photo: Taken from the Pickett website


A classic like this frame case will never go out of fashion.
Photo: Taken from the Pickett website


A cufflink box is something every gentleman should have.
Photo: Taken from the Pickett website




7 January 2015

How to spend wisely and get value for your money

Most people have a limited amount of money available, and when the bills and the food have been paid for, there may not be that much left to invest in improving the sartorial aspects of your presence. How much money one has to spend on clothes, shoes and accessories will vary greatly from one person to the other, but just about all have limits to work within. What most people have in common is that they want to get their money to stretch as far as possible and to get maximum value out of them. I am definitely also in the same situation, so I always have to give it some good thought before I buy something or start a new bespoke project. Because of this, I have learnt a lot about how to get the most out of the money I've got and that's what I would like to share with you in this article.

Buy out of season
This can be a big money saver. If you're not concerned with always having the latest fashion items, buying for the season that just passed is an excellent way of getting good value for your money. Giving up fashion is not a problem at all and should rather be seen as an advantage. Fashion does little good for your personal style, so it's best avoided.
By the end of summer or early autumn, there are so many things that won't be in season for at least six months and companies are desperate to get rid off it to make room for the coming season's new arrivals.
Come spring, linen and seersucker suits are not likely to be on sale, but if you manage to think ahead there will very good offers available come end of the summer and early autumn. Buy your summer clothes in the autumn and your winter clothes in spring, and you may be able to get your hands on items you otherwise couldn't afford. The last thing I bought this way was a summer suit which I bought in the beginning of October. I had long wanted a seersucker suit but I had never found the money to actually buy one. So, when I found a Tommy Hilfiger one at a very reduced price I couldn't resist. Now, I just hope for some decent weather in the summer so I'll actually get an opportunity to wear it.
Bought out of season you can get summer clothes
at very reasonable prices. Like this seersucker suit
I bought in the beginning of October.
Photo: AGL
Buy second hand
Buying second hand can be quite time consuming as you will probably have look at a lot of things before you actually find something that you actually like and, at the same time, is available in your size. On the rare occasion, I may find a second hand jacket or a coat which I think might be worth buying, but generally I find it quite difficult to buy second hand clothes. Accessories, on the other hand, are perfect for second hand shopping. Ties, cravats, scarves, cufflinks, tie pins etc. are all excellent items to look for in second hand stores or on eBay (or other sites selling used items). I especially like to buy ties on eBay. You will need some time as you will probably need to look through hundreds of ties before you find anything really nice, but the gems are in there and I've bought several items on eBay that I'm very pleased with, at very affordable prices.

These are the ties during my last raid on eBay.
Photo: AGL
Pure wool jacket bought in a second hand shop for
40 Euros. For me that's excellent value for money.
Photo: AGL
Be opportunistic
Strike when you come across bargains that are too good to miss. Sometimes, quite unexpectedly, you come across items that are put down so much that they suddenly have dropped into your price range. One example of such luck is from two years ago in a little town in northern Italy called San Candido. I had been to this town some years earlier and I hadn't been terribly impressed with the selection of menswear available. When I visited again two years ago, I had no hopes of finding anything of interest, except for, perhaps, coffee and cakes. I still went into a few shops and in one of them were a couple of clothes racks with a big 70% off sign. Normally I never find anything that's nice or fits me on these racks with marked down clothes. This time, however, was very different. As it happened I found a cashmere jacket and a raincoat with only one left of each, and both in my size. Both items were Armani, a brand I had never bought anything from before (or after for that matter) because it's too expensive. With the 70% discount the items were still quite pricey but they had dropped into my price range and I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by. So, with a massive discount, I ended up with a cashmere jacket, soft as a kitten, worth €1030 and a very nice raincoat worth €500. This is nothing that happens very often, so when you come across bargains like these, you have to act.

The Armani cashmere jacket which with a 70% discount
became affordable.
Photo: AGL
Don't save on everything
Following the above advice will get you some really good stuff for your hard earned money, but sometimes one should treat oneself to something special. Something you'll have to save up for. There is nothing quite like having a garment made especially for you. So, if you manage to save some money and want to give yourself a real treat, visit a tailor. At least that's what I would do.
Also, don't try to save money on shoes. With regard to shoes, it is very difficult to do really good deals. Really good shoes are rarely significantly discounted, so here you will probably have to spend a bit. There are plenty of cheap shoes available, but cheap shoes don't last and are not worth the little money they cost. Invest in some good quality shoes and they will last for a long time, and significantly improve the way you look. 

Some good advice
Now, I've talked about how to get good things for a price you can afford, but just as important is what not to do. Don't buy things just because it's cheap or highly reduced in price. The most important thing is that you actually like what you're buying. If you don't really like, it doesn't matter if it was cheap. I have a rule I try to follow to avoid buying things of poor quality or things I only like a bit. If I don't think I will wear it after two years, I don't buy it. Try that next time you're going shopping and maybe you will shop more wisely.
 

2 January 2015

Happy New Year! A look back on 2014

Another year has passed and it's time to have a look at what's been happening on the blog during the last year. I will use this post to present some of my favourites from last year. With this look back on some highlights from a year passed, I would to wish you all the best for the year to come, may it be the best one yet!

My best discoveries 2014
Having had a quick look through the blog post for this year, there is little doubt what's been my favourite discoveries. The first is the nightshirt and nightcap which I wrote about in February. I don't know why I hadn't discovered these wonderful garments before, but I'm glad I did. I urge everybody to try to sleep in a nightshirt and nightcap, and although the nightshirt (and definitely not the nightcap) hasn't been in fashion for a good many decades, I wish it all the best for the future.
The other discovery I am particularly pleased with is also something I hauled back from the past. You can read all about my switch to the safety razor and more traditional shaving here.
As comfortable as one gets with nightshirt and
nightcap from Peter Christian.
Photo: AGL
Reverting to more traditional ways of shaving has been a delight this year.
Photo: AGL
Best new product 2014
I did try some new products this year but there's only one I feel is worthy of an extra mention here. In the summer I was offered to try the shaving products from the newly established company Cornerstone. Everyone who's read my review of the Cornerstone products will know that I was very pleased with what they had to offer. I can honestly say that the Cornerstone shaving solution is one of the best I've tried and should be recommended.
Cornerstone has done an excellent job with their new shaving products.
Photo: AGL
Sartorial highlights of 2014
Clotheswise, it's been a rather good year. I've had two orders with Cad & the Dandy with which I've been very pleased. The first one was this checkered three piece suit I wrote about over four blog posts. The final post came in February. The second Cad & the Dandy creation was a new boating jacket I got last summer. Both the suit and the jacket are statement pieces made from quite bold patterned fabrics and have become some of my wardrobe favourites. In both cases, the cloth is British made by Huddersfield Cloth.


The third item I had made this year was this magnificent overcoat Di Pecora made for me, with great British tweed from Hunters of Brora. You can read more about it here.
 

The last thing I want to mention is that I got my first ever day cravat this year. I think this was a step in the right direction for me and I hope to see more people wear this lovely adornment for the neck in the years to come. Read about the day cravats here.

My first day cravat. A lovely piece from Cravat Club.
Photo: AGL
It's been a rather good year and I hope it will continue in 2015. I will, at least, continue to write for the blog in the hope that it will be of inspiration to someone. As a wish for the new year I hope more people will embrace the gentlemanly way of life. If everybody would try to behave a little better and be more tolerant of other people, the world would instantly become better place.
Happy new year!  



26 December 2014

Warm and comfortable from Label Lab, by House of Fraser

Label Lab is a brand started in 2010, focusing on casual urban fashion, which is sold exclusively by House of Fraser. On the House of Fraser website the brand is described in the following manner:
 
"Label Lab is the brand of choice for those with an edgy urban style. Rock ‘n’ roll elements are combined with a vintage aesthetic whilst treated and distressed fabrics meet soft colours and unique prints across both the Menswear and Womenswear collection. Denim, leather jackets and graphic tees create the signature Label lab look, with womenswear layering on embellishment and luxe detailing; helping this exclusively launched brand to win an army of fans."
 
Those of you who have been following this blog may wonder why I've decided to write about a brand which produces clothes with an edgy urban style, with rock 'n' roll elements and garments made from distressed fabrics and denim. My style couldn't be described using any of these labels, and most of what I write about is not particularly edgy, but rather more traditional. Despite of this, Label Lab has several products that I quite like and I've been lucky enough to get hold of an overcoat which fits my style while adding an extra element to my wardrobe. The Label Lab Wrap Over Collar Coat is made from a delightfully soft, heavy, boiled wool blend material. Being charcoal in colour makes it blend in, and useful for most occasions. The design, however, is different from any other overcoat I've ever owned and this makes it stand out among the myriad of charcoal overcoats out there. 
 
In all simplicity, this overcoat can be described as three quarter length, double breasted, with a concealed six button fastening. What makes it different are the diagonal lines down the front ending in a split at the bottom. This gives this overcoat a wrap around appearance which looks quite elegant. The the over sized, shawl like collar is another excellent feature of this overcoat. The collar wraps around your neck, making a scarf superfluous even in quite cold weather. Raising the collar will give you even more protection from the cold as it reaches all the way up above you ears, keeping you nice and cosy.
Having worn this overcoat a few times now, in cold wintry conditions, I must say that it is very warm and comfortable. So, if you're after a stylish overcoat that will really keep you warm, this could be a very good option, and the price is quite reasonable as well. You'll find it at House of Fraser.  
 
This overcoat from Label Lab will keep you warm
through the winter. It is very comfortable and
rather stylish.
Photo: AGL

If you raise the collar it will cover you ears and
keep you quite snug. If you add a Russian fur hat,
as I've done here, you are prepared for whatever
the winter can throw at you.
Photo: AGL
Below are some of the other Label Lab items I think are quite nice. For a full selection of Label Lab products, visit the label at House of Fraser.
 

8 December 2014

My new bespoke tweed overcoat (part 2): the finished overcoat

A couple of months ago I wrote about a new overcoat I was having made (you can read  part 1 here). The overcoat is now finished, so it's only natural that I present to you my new overcoat with which I'm rather satisfied and, I'm pleased to say, I've been well complimented. Since I said pretty much what I wanted to say about the fabric and the tailor in the first post in this mini series, this post will mainly contain photos showing off the overcoat in all it's glory. Enjoy!


Three quarter length overcoat made by Di Pecora
with tweed from Hunters of Brora.
Photo: AGL
Navy velvet collar with matching velvet details
above the pockets.
Photo: AGL


Photo: AGL

Slanted pockets with navy velvet detailing.
Photo: AGL

The lining is a lovely bright orange. Unfortunately,
the photo doesn't give a perfect representation of
the colour (the photo part 1 is more accurate).
Photo: AGL
 

18 November 2014

The biking gentleman

According to the famous proverb one should do as the Romans when in Rome. This is something I usually like to follow, and at the moment I'm spending a few months in the Netherlands and I've decided to do as the Dutch.
I don't think there's a country in the world with more bikes per capita than the Netherlands and I have gone and bought myself one as well. Buying a bike is something I've been thinking about doing for years but there's always one thing that has stopped me and that is space. Being a city dweller, I don't have too much excess room for storing a bike. Leaving it outside is of course an option, but not necessarily a good one; if the weather doesn't ruin it after a couple of years, someone will probably have stolen it. So, why did I buy one now? Because I found the perfect solution for this problem, a foldable bike. When it's folded together, it is not much bigger than it's 24" wheels and that is much easier to handle for  a flat in the city.
The bike I bought was the Dahon Briza D3 which is a 24" bike with 3 gears (bought from the excellent people at The Cool Biking Company in Amsterdam). For a foldable bike, the Briza is quite large, though much smaller than a normal bike. The reason I bought the Briza was that, although I wanted a foldable bike, I also wanted a bike that would ride like a normal bike and I also wanted the option of mounting a child seat on it. The Briza fulfills all these criteria and I am indeed very pleased with having bought this bike. In addition to the three gears configuration I opted for, the Briza is also available with 7 or 8 gears. Except from the number of gears, the main difference between the Briza with three gears and the others is the presence of a chain guard. For me, it was of major importance to have a chain guard as I will mostly be riding this bike wearing a suit. I would hate my trousers to get dirty from touching the bike chain or even worse, get stuck in the chain. The chain guard provides this protection and I'm more than happy to drop a few gears for that.  
Having got the bike, I would, or course, also need a helmet. A lot of people seem reluctant to wear a helmet, but I definitely think it's a good insurance to have. Helmets haven't always been particularly stylish and most helmets aren't these days either, but some very interesting developments have come on to the market in recent years. Now you can get helmets looking like all kinds of different hats, from broad brimmed summer hats, to caps, to winter hats with cosy flaps to keep your ears warm. In fact, you can get all of the above with only one helmet. With changeable helmet covers, you can make your helmet look the way you want, depending on the season or your mood. There are several companies making such helmets but the one I decided to get was a Casqu’en ville helmet bought from Beg Bicycles. The helmet is actually quite comfortable to wear and when it's disguised as a tweed flat cap, it really doesn't look too bad either.
This bike is, by no means, a sports bike and that is probably what I like the most about it. This bike is about getting from one point to the other in comfort. I find it remarkably satisfying riding the bike wearing a suit and tie, and an overcoat if required. It is liberating to enjoy the gentle exercise without the need for sportswear. I don't feel particularly comfortable in a track suit, and I struggle to imagine a situation where I would find it appropriate to put on a pair of bicycle shorts. The coat tails flapping in the wind while paddling along in third is much more to my liking.
There's something satisfying about riding a bike wearing a suit and tie. So much
more comfortable than any sportswear.
Photo: AGL  
Wearing an overcoat is no problem when riding this bike, and the flat cap
helmet is rather stylish, I think.
Photo: AGL
The Briza when folded up.
Photo: AGL