29 September 2013

Pelicano menswear, beautiful and exclusive

I was recently tweeted by Pelicano menswear, asking my thoughts on their products and, as is only polite, I had a look at their website. I'm afraid to say that I wasn't aware of this company before this point, which is a shame because I love what I found. Pelicano sell shirts, ties and pocket squares of high quality. Their products are designed in London and then produced in Italy by well established family run businesses using local cottons and silks. As far as I can determine, Pelicano represents most of what I like about a company. They have quality items with great design, and their ties and pocket squares are hand made which is something I really appreciate. The Pelicano shirts are also all hand finished with French seams and as an extra nice touch they've got mother of pearl buttons. If this wasn't enough, the Pelicano products give the buyer a certain exclusivity. Each item is only produced in a limited number, so you won't find everyone wearing the same. When you buy an item you will know what number your product is and out of how many.

The Pelicano company is relatively new having been established just over a year ago, so their menswear range is still in development. I will definitely be checking their website every now and again to follow this development. I wish Pelicano all the best for the future.

This post may seem like shameless promotion but when I find something I really like, I think it's worth supporting it. Take a look at their website and see what you think! Maybe it'll excite you as well. 

Penny collar slim-fit white and light blue Gingham check shirt. Hand
finished with French seams and mother of pearl buttons.
Photo: Pelicano website

Beautiful hand made silk pocket square.
Photo: Pelicano website
My favourite of the hand made silk ties.
The colours are gorgeous.
Photo : Pelicano website
 

28 September 2013

A gentleman's guide to weight control, a side effect of bespoke

I don't know if you've ever felt that you were carrying a few kilos more than you should,  or to be more accurate, a few kilos more than you were comfortable with. If not, brilliant, but in a time with more and more overweight and obese people I am sure some of you have encountered a kilo or two you'd rather never have met. At least that was the situation I was in some years ago. Over a period of several years, I had gradually put on weight to the point where I was 12-15 kilos heavier than I would've liked to be. It took way too long before I decided to do something about it but when I finally realised action was needed, I joined one of the many weight loss courses available. I would never go on a diet requiring you to only eat certain kinds of food, replace meals with diet shakes or even worse, take diet pills. I chose my weight loss program accordingly and went on an eight weeks long course learning how to lose weight and control the weight by paying attention to what you eat in combination with how much you exercise. Losing weight is not easy but it is also not very complicated. It is all about getting the right balance between intake and expenditure of energy. To lose weight you will have to burn off more calories than you gain through food and drink. To maintain your weight you'll need an equal balance between intake and outtake of energy. If it is this simple you would think that more people would take control of their weight and maintain a body they were reasonably happy with. The problem is, however, that it is not as easy in practice as it is in theory. The difficulty is in the mind. Strong motivation is needed to lose and maintain weight, because it is not always comfortable. Occasionally it can be rather painful to lose weight. That is why one of the main advantages of joining a weight loss group is the motivation it gives you by working together with others and not necessarily learning the theory behind weight loss itself. Anyway,  I managed to loose 13 kilos and got down to a weight I was reasonably happy with.

This post is not about promoting a weight loss group or product but I would like to tell you how I maintain my weight and how I keep the motivation to do what it takes to be in control of my own body shape. As I said, motivation is the all important thing and this is where weight/body control overlaps with bespoke garments. After I had lost the weight and reach the size I wanted to be, I bought my first bespoke suit. This suit fitted the new me perfectly and the feeling of wearing this suit was unbeatable. I have later bought several other suits to the same measurements and these suits are the guides to my weight fluctuations and the motivation for maintaining my weight. Every time I put on these suits I know straight away what the situation is. If the suit is feeling slightly tighter than it should, I will take action immediately. If they fit as they should, I know I can keep on doing what I'm doing. This way my weight never gets out of control. A bespoke suit will never let you put on several kilos, it will tell you as soon as you start gaining weight. Thus, you will know before it gets out of hand and it gets too difficult to handle.

Here are a gentleman's three points to weight loss and maintenance:   
  1. Get to a weight you are comfortable with. This is the difficult part and I recommend joining a weight loss group. If you want to do it by yourself, losing weight is all about burning more calories than you take in. Figure out approximately how many calories you burn each day (this will depend on you size, age and activity level) and make sure you eat less than that. Learn the calorie content of the food you eat and change some of your calorie rich foods with food with lower energy content. Exercise a bit on top of that and you'll be fine.
  2. Get some bespoke suits and shirts or have your existing clothes altered to fit the body you are comfortable with. The good feeling of wearing perfectly fitting clothes is stronger than the cravings for sugar and fatty foods. Your new clothes will give you all the motivation you need to maintain your weight.
  3. If your bespoke or altered clothes feel tighter than comfortable you'll know right away that you have to take action. Your well fitting clothes will let you know as soon as you start to gain weight and you can take action before it gets too difficult. Your weight will never be out of control again.

27 September 2013

Essential gentleman's shoes

I've recently seen several articles about what shoes every man, or gentleman, should own and, although, some good points are made I couldn't quite fall in line with all the suggestions made. As I have a particular liking for shoes, and own a reasonable amount of them, I think I should put my views out there. First of all I would just like to say that I don't think you could ever have too many shoes as long as they are of a certain quality, but even one pair of poor quality shoes is one pair too many. The shoes are one of the first things I notice about a person, and I'm not the only one. A good pair of shoes can lift an average outfit or be the ideal finish for the perfect attire. On the other hand, the most expensive suit couldn't improve a pair of poor quality shoes. If you think quality shoes are expensive you should look at it as an investment, they last longer, they will boost your confidence, and I truly believe people will look at you in a more favourable light. You also don't need to have that many, you could mostly get away with owning no more than half a dozen pairs. Below are my thoughts on what shoes any gentleman's wardrobe should contain.

Formal shoes

This is the most important part of any gentleman's wardrobe and at least two pairs are necessary. These are the shoes you will wear with suits and could easily be worn on a daily basis and, therefore, I think it is important to have more than one pair. There are, of course, many different options here but for me it's the brogues that matter. Oxford or Derby brogues are what I wear most days and I believe a few pairs of brogues are the absolute gentleman essential. The first pair you buy should be black as they are the most versatile and can be worn with almost anything. The other pair should be brown. Brown may not be quite such an allrounder as the black, but brown can also be worn with a large variety of suits and personally I think brown works very well with any blue/navy suit. 
Below I've included two different pairs which I'm sure would serve the most discerning gentleman well, but the variety is huge, so browse around and find the shoes which fit your budget and taste the best.
Brown Derby brogues by British shoe makers Edward Green. Hand made from the finest calf leathers and finally hand polished into a deep, burnished finish that only improves with time. You can't go wrong with a pair of shoes like these. 

These Derby brogues by Edward Green would enhance any
outfit.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

Black Oxford brogues made from Cordovan leather.

A nice pair of wingtip cordovan brogues.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site


Smart casual shoes

On occasion it could be appropriate to wear something slightly less formal. There is, however, no reason for your style to be compromised for that reason, as the two examples below show. These shoes could be worn with suits but would probably work best with a pair of chinos, jeans, or other nice trousers.

The first pair from Harrys of London is a magnificent example of how a pair of shoes can look very stylish, almost formal, but still with a casual slightly sporty touch. While the formal is retained with the Oxford wing tip design, the flat rubber sole make the shoes look more casual.

As a more casual choice, these Oxfords from Harrys of
London are stunning.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

Another alternative for a smart casual shoe is the monk strap. A pair of double buckle monk straps as these from Peal & Co works very well for the smart casual look.

A pair of monk straps looks smart but are much less formal
than the Oxford or Derby brogues.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

Winter boots

A pair of boots is important to have for the cold season. Boots come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes but style often seems to be compromised by their other qualities. This is a shame though, as one should be able to dress well also when the weather is bad. However, there are quite a few stylish boots available and I think the three pairs below are very good examples of this.

The first pair from Edward Green is absolutely stunning. The combination of calfskin leather and suede is beautiful and I also like the combination of eyelets and hooks on a boot. These are boots with all the qualities of formal shoes and are definitely high up on the list of shoes I would like to get.


You'll be looking long and hard to find a more beautiful pair
of boots than these from Edward Green.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

For the less for formal, rougher look, these boots from Peal & Co may be a very good choice. The brogue wing tip desing makes this a stylis pair of boots.

For a slightly rougher look, these boots from Peal & Co
may be a good choice.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

Another suggestion could be the Corvari boots I just bought. You can read more about them here.

The latest addition to my shoe collection, boots from the Italian shoe
makers Corvari.
Photo: AGL

Light summer shoes

Some lighter shoes for the hotter days are useful to have. These are shoes which could be worn with a linen suit, with shorts or any other light clothing. Two of my favourites for this kind of wear are found below. I am generally not a big fan of loafers and I wouldn't wear them on any other occasion, but as summer shoes, suede loafers are my preferred choice. They are stylish and comfortable and can even be worn without socks. This pair from Harrys of London is a good example of a nice pair of suede loafers for the hotter days.
Suede loafers is a good choice for the casual summer look.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

Another very comfortable choice for summer may be a pair of espadrilles. These espadrilles made by Keds, for Brooks Brothers, could work very well as summer shoes. Informal while still stylish in combination with the right outfit.  

A nice pair of espadrilles for the hot season.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

Sporty

I don't really see this as must for a gentleman's shoe collection but I have still included two examples of more sporty looking shoes which are quite stylish. Both the lizard skin sneakers and the Pantofola d'Oro shoes below are very stylish and sporty shoes.

Stylish and sporty lizard skin sneakers.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

A nice pair of sporty Italian Pantofola d'Oro shoes.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

Galoshes

A pair of Swims (or other galoshes) is a necessity for any gentleman. Galoshes will protect your shoes, especially your leather soles, on days with rain, sleet, slush or other wintery conditions. If you care about your shoes and want them to last, I recommend wearing Swims on bad weather days. Read more about galoshes in this earlier post
A pair of Swims is a must for any gentleman.
Photo: Brooks Brothers web site

The above has been some of my thoughts about what a gentleman's shoe collection should contain. Ideally you should have all of these and many more but if you are just starting out and wonder where to begin and what the absolute minimum is, I would suggest the following. Firstly, get two pairs of formal shoes (black and brown), then get a pair boots for the colder days and a pair of suede loafers for the summer season. At last, buy a pair of galoshes to protect your precious shoes when that is needed.

13 September 2013

Handmade boots from Corvari


Italian shoe makers Corvari.
Phot:AGL

I am in Italy at the moment, taking my holidays late this year, enjoying a bit of autumn sun on the Ligurian coast. I am here with my wife and two young boys, so it's not quite as relaxing as it may sound, with the kids not really having developed an understanding for the joy of relaxation yet. It is very enjoyable nonetheless, but not too much time for posting on the blog. Anyway, this post is not going to be about my vacation.
I have a tendency to buy shoes when I travelling and this time proved to be no different. In the town of Alassio, I found a small shop with no more than a dozen different pairs of shoes for sale. One of these caught my eye, however, and I had to have them. This time it was a pair of handmade boots from Corvari.

My new Corvari boots.
Photo:AGL
Corvari is a company representing quality and craftsmanship and thus, a company right to my liking. Being established in 1968 they have over forty years of experience in making shoes by hand from high quality hides. Their shoes are made in the Corvari factory in Montegranaro where the production of each shoe is started and completed without external involvement.

All Corvari shoes are sewn by hand.
Photo:www.corvari.it
The finishing touches are put on fine pair of Corvari brogues.
Photo:www.corvari.it

A little thing like the manually personalised insole is something I find very satisfying and I have great appreciation for. I think details like that show that they take pride in the shoes they make and that is what makes a great product.

The beautifully created mark on the insole.
Photo:AGL
It is difficult to show the leather quality in a photo but if you're willing to take my word for it, the leather used to make these boots is incredibly soft and, as a consequence, they feel as comfortable as possible on the foot. I think these boots will be perfect for the coming autumn, and probably for the coming years as well.

I am actually looking forward to wearing these during the cooler months.
Photo:AGL