Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Haute Casual

These days, 'less is more' and 'more bang for your buck' are phrases often seen among advice from much coveted opinion informers of the fashion world. While that is sensible advice in these economically austere times, it seems that the opulent world of couture is in a galaxy of its own, far away from the typical restraints of budgets and bills.

The dichotomy of ready-to-wear and couture has been slowly algamated in 2012, in conjunction with the rapidly increasing number of people … this fusion of often whimsical, yet beautiful exclusivity, might not seem the perfect match, but examples of this way of dressing show that the middle ground between the two sides of fashion can produce truly individual and innovative outfits.

To call this blend of fashion a trend, is to diminish it to some sort of fad that may or may not last into next season. Instead, teaming haute couture and ready to wear garments is a question of what one thinks of themselves. Do they value tradition? Are they afraid of creation ex nihlo?
Today, there appears to be a particular emphasis on high-end luxury that causes some collections to lack vitality and risk-taking. The more playful, less restricted (in a snobbish sense) ready-to-wear garments give outfits comprising of these two opposing facets of fashion a new lease of life. Together, they are a formidable force.
Giorgio Armani is often thought of as being responsible for the birth of the first ‘fashion’ suit of the ready to wear kind, where the structure and lines that defined British tailoring were taken out, and a softer, more relaxed approach to the most formal of men’s attire, floated onto the pages of fashion history with the weight of its influence made apparent by its reverence worldwide.

Ozwald Boateng sees himself among the first “men’s couturiers” as they were “creative tailors”, seeking to harmonise their cloth with the customers body shape through an agreement between the tailor and customer that saw the individuals style best represented. A time not so long ago, men’s fashion was in violent conflict between tradition and modernity that have been resolved through Boateng’s fresh approach to a previously purely bourgeois service.

Many still think of haute couture as a designers playground, where highly skilled creators or ‘couturiers’ are employed to craft garments that transport our minds momentarily to another world. However, runway shows over the past few years have show that the line between the aesthetic of couture and ready to wear has become increasingly blurred as ready to wear can be incredibly elaborate, and couture shows particularly understated.

One reason why many fashion critics despise the word aesthetic is because it detracts from the painfully labour-intensive, detail driven production of couture’s mesmerising beauty. With couture analogous to religion, haute casual can be seen as the modern day liberal believer, where their passion and patience are matched by their acceptance of other ideas and beliefs. Both require a sense of value, but haute casual allows for a little less respect for tradition and a permeable skin that can be infused with a fresh blast of insouciant air.

 Ready-to-wear seems to be aimed at celebrities more and more these days, with their endorsement being channelled so as to profit from the marketing industry and thereby fund their adverts, fabric sourcing and designs. As many of you question, the extravagant nature of some of the designs that grace the catwalk season in, season out surely cannot be seen as conceivable purchases for even those blessed with a lot of money. And it is not just the ladies who are guilty of such excessiveness. As recent collections illustrate, the desire by some designers to experiment with new fabrics and different cuts and drapes, means some clothing is purely art, with no regard for wearability.  

On the other hand, couture (effectively a synonym for bespoke) channels its labour intensive efforts solely to produce the most luxurious garments that are designed and made exactly as the customer wanted. Of course, there is a premium for such personal tailored service, and with the requisite fabrics of a finer kind meaning that haute couture houses operate at a loss; the first-come first-serve nature of these garments makes them more exclusive still.

There appears to be two sides to haute casual: on the one hand, there is a humble sense of luxury, where nods to subtle craftsmanship can be observed by the detail junky sartorialist; on the other hand, there is an excessive, ostentatious side that is brought down to earth by a statement of simplicity, often in the form of staple leather sneaker or a block of neutral colour that contrasts with the vibrant green of a Boateng suit.

Outfit One:
An obvious outfit example is one all of you will have come across before, and most of you will either love it, or hate it: suit and trainers. In this instance, suit, tee shirt and trainers. The juxtaposition of formal and casual clothing taps into the magically real character that makes haute casual so divine, yet agreeable.
For this outfit, fit and quality is key. Well, fit is a prerequisite of any outfit, and to channel this haute casual outlook, the best quality you can afford means you will be set to adorn yourself in a number of different styles, formal and casual, with a suit that will last you for many years.

Outfit Two:
Mohair is very much the fabric of this season, with Nicholas Hoult swathed in a white mohair jumper showing just how delectable the wool is in Tom Ford’s A Single Man. Another easy to combine tailored sophistication with throw-it-on cool can be achieved by simply slipping into those tailored wool trousers you all should own, preferably in a slim fit to conflict with the more casually fitting jumper in the most beautiful way.
The easiness of the outfit should continue with the foundations of the outfit. In this instance, I would have the shoes correspond with the more formal aspect of the trousers with a pair of brogues or oxfords, but undoubtedly with a twist, whether that is a vibram sole or a colour other than black, brown or tan. Think outside the box.
This is an outfit of intrigue mainly owing to its apparent simplicity, which is one way of showing off inherent style without actually having been born with it.

Hopefully this does not pigeonhole any of you, as you have learnt that it such style is more evident on the streets and at the shows than first thought. However, as boys and men interested in how to maintain healthy skin as much as they are in choosing the most stylish clothes, it would be foolish for you to pertain that you are uninterested in adding a boiled cashmere jumper to your wardrobe. For that is the way stylish men think, with their feet on the ground and their heads in the clouds.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Streetwear influence

It is not often that I write about such an unrefined subject, yet streetwear – a more casual alternative to menswear – fascinates me in a way no other trend-led topic does. Streetwear’s best feature is how it encourages personal style, indeed there is no other style than one created by one’s self. Streetwear’s roots can be traced back to the 1960s here in Britain and as far as the West Coast in the 1980s, but it is still a relevant style in its own right as has no pretences about what it is not, in fact that absence of something is exactly what it is. Shawn Stussy, considered the pioneer of streetwear for many, said in a 1992 interview with The New York Times, “Me and my friends don't put much money into clothes. We don't want to look like we're trying too hard, you know, to be garish and trendy.”

What I am focusing on in this article, is the new type of streetwear. Some might even say, the new type of menswear as this style is making waves across the oceans as it announces its arrival with a splash of foppishness, and a breeze of coolness. Streetwear is different to street style in the simple sense that street style represents what style we see on the streets. It is not influenced by high fashion – its nature is an amalgamation of popular art, music and politics. For example, in the infamous 60s, the evolution of ‘Mod,’ ‘Rocker’ and ‘Hippie’ were reactions to these components of society which developed all in one decade.

So what is streetwear and who came up with the term? Well you are not going to find a one-line dictionary definition if that is what you are expecting. There are those of the opinion that streetwear is simply a by-word for ‘one of the gang’ who finally felt they could channel their inner fashionisto, but away from the girly world of fashion with a more macho label. Conversely, those who are a part of the streetwear culture dismiss such a notion and believe it was a blanket term applied to an already existing ‘thing’ in an attempt for society to classify to put themselves at ease, as the unknown is far more terrifying.

 I argue that the new streetwear is a combination of streetwear with its original connotations from new ideas in the 60s, and skaters in the 80s, to the recently burgeoning menswear whose focus on lasting quality and style means that the younger generation are combining the two with the latest unlined, soft-shouldered, DB jacket from Reiss and Limited Edition suede Nike Dunk High Tops. Browsing through the latest blogs, tumblrs and our very own street style edit, confirms this.

Considering the boundaries of all those definition are wider than Lords Cricket Ground, it is imperative to distinguish the differences between streetwear and menswear. Menswear according to Jian DeLeon “is driven by trends disguised as authenticity and classicism… its marketing disguised as realness”. Here, DeLeon drives at a very real point that many catwalk shows are directed towards editorials and represent another form of art that is to be held in awe at their ethereal beauty. This ties into DeLeon first descriptive about trends lacking realism, as it has become public knowledge that a number of menswear fashion houses reuse each other’s patterns like crazy. It would be a sweeping statement to say that menswear is becoming more and more predictable, but as the menswear game habitually looks to the past, it is the men on the street that could be the future of menswear.

Now I am not belittling the international shows, as I look forward to them as much as the next sartorial gent, but I am referencing the almost ignorant power streetwear has at its disposal on men’s fashion. Its organic nature gives it the opportunity to flourish into a hegemonic power, not dissimilar to the ostensive power media has over menswear, but without the obvious restrictions. And that is the beauty of something so outside the usual spheres of influence: it is constantly exposed to introspection. 

There is so much opinion visually apparent on the street; there is a kinetic sense of frenzied motion, and its restless nature means that it is constantly evolving but in a totally disordered manner that can only be controlled by ones personal style. It is this self-awareness that keeps streetwear culture far more accessible than menswear, and thus holds a distinct fascination for many of us because it has such an impulsive nature, where personal taste dictates one’s uniform as they set out onto the street ready to take on the world.

If thought out with an affectation of meticulous nonchalance, a synthesis of menswear and streetwear is a peerless combination. With that in mind, I have come up with outfit ideas that hopefully all of you can take something from and be inspired to come up with your own spin on a streetwear outfit.

You’ll have noticed contradictions in the article; such was the internal debate I was having about two very important facets of twenty-first fashion. It is now time for you to get involved and tell me whether you think menswear in high fashion and streetwear can mix successfully and stylishly, or whether this conflicting fusion of style will, or perhaps has never materialised.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Rise of True Style Icons

As many of you point out without fail or misinformation, many of our style icons in the eponymous series suffer from the fatal flaw of being styled by someone other than themselves. This new series is guaranteed to represent purely original and eclectic style, with each true style icon an encouragement to us to follow suit, and form your identity from your own background, jobs, past times and interests. After all, that is what true style is, isn’t it?

Thankfully, there are men with serious style credentials who fit this bill. Whereas in the past, actors, musicians and artists found themselves being the poster boy for many a fashion house or … these ‘real’ style icons, who include Sam Lambert and Lino Ieluzzi, are known first and foremost for their unique sense of style, and as a result are photographed no matter their location or purpose.

Blogs, the source of these men’s fame, have been on a meteoric rise in terms of influence on the industry. They give people without the connections and/or looks, a chance to comment on anything related to fashion, imparting knowledge to the ignorant male keen to learn more. In turn, those already with their own perspective on style and trends engage in a diverse battle entailing the influence of culture and background, origins of style and ambiguous definitions. Such commentary requires confidence, charisma and of course, a great deal of style. People like Joshua Kiss of Street Etiquette, embody these characteristics and are responsible for a community of admirers and inspired men.

Of course, blogs inspire possible outfits with pictures of clothes worn in an unprecedented manner, with imaginative combinations, as noted by Scott Schuman with his new feature ‘If you’re thinking about...’. The accessible nature of blogging on the net has undoubtedly played a huge part in encouraging different approaches to dressing and observing that of others, as well as supporting the wider menswear industry with the rise of stylish and knowledgeable men keen to play a part in the future of menswear.

Style is a visual medium that means people have to see an outfit they like to be inspired by it. Furthermore, style as a concept (I know, ugly word) is a very personal thing, and as such, men with style easily channel their personality through their clothes, meaning that we never see two stylish men dressed the same. The same cannot be said for celebrities dressed by overpaid, overhyped, demi-celeb stylists.

Therefore, honest interviews about their inspirations from everyday life – hearsay or not, it is feasible that clotted cream inspired O’Shea to don the much forgotten cream coloured shirt – coupled with photographs of them with their distinct posture and expression, makes them far more relatable to us. Sure, many of them, like celebrities, aren’t going to be worrying about the increase in energy bills, but at least they live in our world and make their own mistakes.

Furthermore, people like Lino Ieluzzi, Shaka Maidoh and Angelo Flaccavento look as comfortable as they do impeccably dressed, not because they’re wearing the softest wools, but for the simple fact that they are in their own clothes! We can relate to these guys in the liberating confines of freedom of thought and expression.

They try to look at ease as previously foreign cameras start clicking and videos rolling, in fact, these guys do look at ease as cameras click and videos roll on. That is because they are wearing clothes they want to wear, dress that reflects who they are and by extension, their ideals and standards. Those who think such a description may be a tad superfluous, are ignoring, by enlarge, the well-trodden path of young men still exploring themselves from teens to their 30’s, where they tend to have a rather eclectic taste in clothes, as well as art and music. 

Conversely, men who have established their own style of dress, taste in art and music, tend to be in their 40’s and continue to replicate such facets of personal style in subsequent decades.
These faces appear on many blogs and runways, deservedly replacing those green-eyed stylists, and will continue to do so for a number of years to come. The real breakthrough will be when magazines, with many more commitments and tenuous ties to capitalist establishments than the user friendly, unbiased world wide web, expose these men to the printing press with the same relish as they flag up the latest exploits of relatives up and coming in the industry.

Originality is a much-used word when talking about menswear, and fashion in general, but isn’t it strange that there are still so many references, even actual garments, embracing nostalgic icons like James Dean and Paul Newman as if no one had any new ideas of their own? Now these guys have earned the aesthetical respect society so lavishly gives them, but it is time that we appreciate equally as impressively styled men, with their own mode of style that at least means that the boys of this world can grow up excited to be in this period of menswear.

After all, you must realise that these guys are held to such a high standard because they were breaking boundaries at the time with attitudes befitting their attire. Fortunately, there are real men keen to rise out of the ashes of those intimidating yet inert forces that are partially responsible for such a stagnant period in men’s style. I will write a few words to sum up the man and his style of four of my favourite ‘real’ style icons.

The Fantastic Four

Lino Ieluzzi:
A sought after subject of photographers world over, Lino is renowned for his double breasted jackets and ties with the number seven sown into them. As an Italian it is no surprise that he has a love of tailoring, preferably separates, and consistently turns out in the most classic pieces menswear has to offer, all perfectly fitted and finished off typically with a sumptuous pair of double monk straps. Colours tend to be understated with little details providing points of interest.

Sam Lambert:
Best known for always wearing a hat as well as a beard, Sam Lambert is the jovial face of smart dressing with a twist. He always imbues his outfits with a little of his personality that, matched with a little sartorial know how, breaks boundaries in a distinctive but not ostentatious way: an enviable combination.

Angelo Flaccavento:
He says himself that his “choices have become stricter, but tailoring softer”, as he approaches forty. Even so, his style is eclectic in its silhouette, colour and juxtaposition of fabric, but altogether he tends to dress in a quirky fusion of classic style and individual preferences, such as short trousers with a wider hem. Just like our other real style icons, he is a firm believer in one not looking like her tried to dress to impress.

Justin O’Shea:
Probably the most rebellious dresser out of the four, O’Shea channels a rock n roll meets biker vibe that means roll-up t-shirts and dark raw denim are the essential elements of his wardrobe. Facial hair and muted colours play on the darker themes of his attire, and he mixes up casual and formal outfits depending on his mood, rather than his location which says a lot about the power of the man.

These real style icons are the result, as much as they are the means, of a booming interest in menswear interest and profits. Such men are set to have growing interest in the direction of men’s fashion for the foreseeable future, having laid the foundations for a more stylish and perceptive menswear community as we speak. It’s safe to say, we are in good hands.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Evolution of Savile row

Style. Classic style. For many of us, these are the first words that come into our heads when we think of Savile Row. Savile Row is steeped in tradition, that much is certain. Built between 1731, and 1735, according to many fashion critics, its aim was to provide the world’s best tailoring the capital of England, which one hundred years later, was to be the capital of the world. Of course, only the best was good enough for British gentleman, and as times and many fashions have been and gone, the genius and resilience of tailors and cutters on Savile Row has seen them only put their name to tailoring that would bypass any era, watching from afar with a mixture of amusement and confusion.

What is clear, is that the resurgence of Savile Row is meant to synthesise timeless style with the bold approaches of fashion and all of its controversial nuances that help split opinion and mean that no one person dresses the same. Bold colours, voluminous cuts and extraneous details go alongside traditional tailoring pieces that have been well established and accepted.

With an influx of new designers, and a younger generation more interested in the new world of fashion, the identity of Savile Row began to change. For some, this started with Tommy Nutter, the original “Nutter on the Row”. Having opened Nutters of Savile Row in the late 1960’s, Nutter defied convention, designing and cutting completely original suits not seen or comprehended quite like Tommy. Tommy attracted many celebrity customers, whose wide lapels and broad shoulders were reminiscent of the glamorous 20’s and 30’s. But of course, as a pioneer of modern tailoring on the traditional golden mile of tailoring, he did so with unprecedented charisma, cut, drape and juxtaposition of fabrics.

Since then, the introduction of ready-to-wear garments in menswear can be perceived as the catalyst for the changing of the guard as Savile Row slowly started to lose its customers, and its money. Giorgio Armani’s rapidly growing influence in menswear certainly played a part in this, with his off-the-peg suit of the 90’s proving to be incredibly popular, denting the influence Savile Row was used to having when it comes to the most powerful of attire. There is no surprise therefore, that with the resurgence of influence from Savile Row, the Italians have been involved.

Chester Barrie, who has been on Savile Row since 1937, is opening concessions in an upmarket department store in three sizeable Italian cities, including Milan and Venice. Hackett has also opened up a shop in Milan recently, and Jeremy Hackett has been quoted as saying: “It is said the best dress Brits are Italians.” Veteran Neapolitan tailor Mariano Rubinacci says that the Italians have always “considered the British style a guideline”, but adapt the more military dominated Savile Row style to suit the relaxed lifestyle of the Italians. Just as menswear shows coming to London belatedly reflected the passion with which us sartorial gents have for fashion, the diverse nature of our cities capital attracts all sorts of talent with their own ideas and designs contributing to innovative tailoring that slowly but indefinitely changes the landscape of tailoring on Savile Row.

Everything related to Savile Row seems so far detached from the turbulent nature of fashion, and yet without fashion, it isn’t far from the truth to state that slim fitting garments, good quality jeans, the ‘classic’ trench/pea/duffle coat (apply as you see fit), wouldn’t be associated with style if it wasn’t for their origins in fashion.
Style and fashion are intrinsically linked, that much is clear, but what influences the other the most is far vaguer. Personally, it seems that time has a crucial role to play in some thing’s progression from  experimentation to establishment, with personal and cultural influence and wide-spread appeal have each aided the development of both fashion and style, but it is the Savile Row has certainly stood up to the test of time.

Nothing relayed the message of a blend of tradition and modernism like Hackett’s recent Gatsby inspired collection. Infused with pops of preppy colour, making up the more current element of the show, the models wore wider trousers and an array of complimenting three piece suits with slim fitting jackets and preppy footwear. These outfits show a change in ethos at Hackett, whose chief designer confesses modern-lifestyle often passes him by. And if this is what we will witness in the coming years, then long-may Jeremy Hackett continue to adapt to 21st century life.

Another eminent name in menswear, and an award winning designer as well as Savile Row tailor, Patrick Grant, aired his thoughts on this subject. "Savile Row used to be progressive; those tailors showed the world how to dress and pushed new shapes and silhouettes. We came full stop and ground to a halt. Post-peacock generation it stops, it retreats. Savile Row lost its confidence."
No doubt things are brighter and bolder under Patrick Grant’s leadership, with his focus on "simple pieces, made by hand in the U.K.”, with an attempt to fuse “Savile Row cutting with sporting and military traditions”. 
This influence has filtered its way down to more contemporary designers such as JW Anderson, who said of his A/W 12 show “sometimes you have to make things wrong to move forward.” Now, whether you think Anderson means wrong in the true sense of the word depends on how traditional you think of menswear. What isn’t in question is today, more and more men perceive “wrong” as different and original.

Designers and tailors alike scour the globe to find inspiration and source new fabrics, as shown by Ozwald Boateng’s recent A/W12 collection focused on tailoring with an Eastern twist. Said collection was particularly muted and dark, far removed from his usually ebullient work. The way of aforementioned tailors and designers are in harmony with Boateng’s motives in combining traditional British elements, and something completely unprecedented, in his own words “to create something new, something directional.”  There is no denying that he has been successful in his efforts, and while getting on a little in age, Mr Boateng consistently provides an exciting, youthful spin on tailoring in the most sophisticated environment, and in my opinion can be regarded as the biggest influence in the evolution of Savile Row.

Style evolves far more than most people realise. And so it must, for otherwise it loses its timeless body. While in some aspects this seems contradictory, style’s inner core survives on its ability to adapt and evolve, and just like humans, does so subtly and assuredly, which gives the impression of seamless transition to the untrained eye. The most recent progression of Savile Row style makes it a quite formidable force in the international world of fashion, placing it back up there where it belongs.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Holiday musings

Artists have to be extremely self assured; confident of their ability and who and what they they are and represent; driven to raise their game and consume new experiences; and most fundamentally of all - they have to be passionate.

A good loser is someone who loses often.

Misplaced trust is a schoolboy error made by men of all ages.

Fear restricts most, inspires the rest.

Fear of failure plagues most,
fear of success hinders the rest.

The unknown is a fear for some and a thrill for others...
Either way each step should be taken with controlled anticipation, a prudence that would gain the approval of the fairest of them all, resulting in the butterflies being a wing down.

The fewer certainties there are, the more deductive one has to be.

Can instinct be trusted? It is a raw, primal emotional, can you trust human nature?!

The only suitable life philosophy is adaptability. Inherent in that is the nature of human evolution.

And the brain ticks on...

Saturday, 29 October 2011

craft 'n' graft

SINCE Luis Suarez first pulled on a red shirt it is hard to recall a game when he did not do something eye-catching. Be it a stupendous goal – a la Stoke in midweek – a piece of audacious skill or a thrilling dribble, the Uruguayan is one of a rare breed of once in a generation footballers whose talent alone is worth the price of a ticket.
Suarez regularly does the kind of things that are so often practiced but so rarely deployed in the high intensity of a match situation. Nutmegs are a part of his repertoire in the same way that simple five yard passes sideways are the stock in trade of more limited, less imaginative players. He has succeeded in making the unusual usual and the time has long since passed when the Anfield crowd was surprised to see him wriggle through defenders like quicksilver. The shock now only comes when he yields the ball to an opponent, so high has he managed to raise expectations since his arrival from Ajax.
Liverpool have had many special players over the years but the last one who raised the bar this high was probably John Barnes. In his pomp, the wing wizard would come up against a full back and invariably dance past him, leaving the defender trailing in his wake before racing towards the box to either have a shot on goal or create a chance for a team mate. Between 1987 and 1989, the sight of Barnes making mugs of opponents was as regular an occurrence as sightings of Kenny Dalglish wearing his trademark manager’s coat.
Since then, Liverpool have had their fair share of twinkle toed players – Steve McManaman being the most obvious example – who have endeavoured, with varying levels of success, to emulate the legendary Jamaican winger. But Suarez is undoubtedly the most talented, daring and exciting dribbler since Barnes, as his first goal against Stoke in midweek, a breathtaking nutmeg followed by a stunning, curling finish, demonstrated.
There are numerous qualities that combine to make Suarez the brilliant player that he is. Imagination, talent, bravery, vision – he is an identikit of the old style Liverpool number seven, a shirt which Dalglish, of course, wore with such distinction but which has weighed heavy on the shoulders of many of those who have donned it since. But for me, the thing that sets the 24-year-old apart more than anything else is his desire.
Rarely in professional football does a player emerge with the ability of a superstar and the unquestioning, ever-willing work rate of an amateur playing for the love of the game. Suarez has that mixture and he has it in abundance. That is why he is able to turn causes that are seemingly lost into genuine opportunities and why no defender can ever rest easy when he is so much as in their vicinity.
To appreciate just how important Suarez’s industry is, one only needs to think back to twelve months ago when another forward blessed with supreme talent was struggling to showcase his ability simply because his desire had diminished. Fernando Torres was another heir to Barnes’ throne but by last season, for whatever reason, he had lost his mojo and the ability that everyone knew he had became locked inside because of some sort of gradual psychological detachment from the club he had previously given everything for.
Without his usual levels of effort and energy, Torres became a much more standard centre forward. At times, the quality of his finishing took him out of an obvious malaise but more often than not it seemed as if he was unable or unwilling to work his way out of the rut that he found himself in and he became a pale shadow of the player who had terrorised defenders in previous seasons.
Torres would contend that he had his desire beaten out of him by the failings of the club at the time, while his critics would argue that he simply lost his way to such an extent that he ended up falling out of love with Liverpool. That debate will go on for many years but what is without question is that his fall from grace last season illustrated the consequences of a player losing his desire and it should make us appreciate even more an individual whose determination to make a difference for his team goes beyond the norm.
Suarez displays this admirable trait in every single game, chasing balls into corners, harrying defenders, getting kicked from pillar to post and coming back for more and generally being an out an out nuisance. If someone kicked a ball into the street where he lives you could imagine him being the first one to get hold of it, holding off any of his neighbours who thought they could get there before him. His appetite is insatiable, something Kenny Dalglish puts down to the hard yards that Suarez put in to make his way to the top of his profession.
“I don’t think it has come to easy for him to become a professional footballer,” Dalglish said. “He came over from Uruguay to Holland as an 18-year-old. He was away from home, so I don’t think it has been too easy for him. He has worked really hard to get to where he is so fully appreciates it and does not take anything for granted. Maybe that is why he has got his attitude, which is very, very refreshing.”
There are plenty of players who come in to football with that kind of attitude but not too many still have it, not to the same extent anyway, when they are fully fledged professionals. Fewer still have it when they are full internationals at the top of their trade who earn the kind of money which could weaken the desire of even the most dedicated individuals.
 It is to Suarez’s great credit that his desire remains as strong as it did when he was a kid playing football on the streets of Montevideo and it is to Liverpool’s great benefit that it does. Luis Suarez is a special footballer but it is his rare work rate as much as his rare talent that makes him the magnificent player that he is.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

History and how to wear - suits

Unfortunately I will not be rousing your zest for fashion forward ideas with something original or innovative, but going back to basics can be the fulcrum for something inspirational, even when least expected. The motives for this article lay in the conundrum of looking just as good at school or work, as you do on the weekend. Some of the working people reading will not have such a dress code, but that does not mean they are any less restricted in their attire than the rest of us.
The suit, as much a dress-code as a sophisticated gentleman’s choice of attire, had origins in battle, which ties in perfectly with today’s military trend, before the lounge suit was at the heart of a fashion revolution in the 1800s. In this article, I will be writing about the origins of the lounge suit, and how best to wear attire that speaks volumes of the man donning it, before a word is spoken.
History Of The Suit
Recently at FashionBeans we have gone on a whistle stop tour of clothes and designs that have sculpted fashion and style in Britain. We have been proud proponents of all that is classic and heritage, encouraging all of you to add a dimension to your wardrobe that goes much further than just being cost-effective.
The suit can be traced all the way back to the 17th century, where supreme King of England Charles II ruled with domineering grace and style. He promoted the idea of authority being impressed onto the public through a code of dress in the courts. As the suit went from in, to out of fashion – and back again – until the Edwardian era, the lounge suit established itself on the streets in the early 1900s. By this time, Savile Row was gaining a reputation that had seen royalty, and then the military, return time and again for fresh takes on the formal suit.
In the 1920s, tailoring started to become more apparent as wide-legged trousers were on trend, with the younger generation at the time sporting ‘oxford bags’. Trousers tended to be cuffed – a style that Ralph Lauren Purple Label have certainly brought back into fashion – whilst only more senior members of society sported a double breasted jacket. Further changes in vogue were present in this decade until 1940, with high-waisted trousers being a common look. After cloth rationing began to subside post the Second World War, excess cloth was used and created a far boxier affect on the suit jacket in the 1950s to 60s. However, the real pioneers of remarkable tailoring are the Italians, who around the same time set the precedent for flawless fitting suits, which unfortunately for our magnificent tailors, have only started taking advantage of recently.
At the heart of tailoring is allusion. Manipulation of the eye is brought about by important details being out of sync with the person’s body. What sets the modern suit apart from one that was considered stuffy and overly formal is the cut. Slimmer lapels, a nipped in waist line and less engulfing trousers was a look born on the streets of Naples and Rome in the middle of the 20th century. A lighter fabric meant less structure to the suit, giving a more relaxed outlook.
On the flip side, as the Victorian suit broadened the shoulders and covered up most of the body, almost shielding it from view, the traditional English suit contradicts the playful attitude of the Italian’s. That attitude really caught on here in the 1960s, where the rebellious mod culture that was so prominent at the time captured the essence of the Italian lifestyle. They enjoyed the coffee, the scooters and of course, the tailoring.
Look Book #1
Men's Lounge Suits Look Book Inspiration
How To Wear The Suit
The Fit
The key to achieving the understated elegance that resonates from a quality suit is the fit. I will briefly take you through four crucial steps to make sure you are looking as sharp as possible.
  • An error exercised far too often these days lies at the feet of the man – pun intended. As the trouser leg falls,there is meant to be only one break at the front, and none at the back. A slim trouser leg needs to finish just above the shoe, so as to avoid it sitting on top of the laces.
  • Another unforgivable error is the basic fit across the shoulders, where the sleeve should fall on the tip of the shoulder bone for a contemporary cut. Too much shoulder on show will have the adverse affect of making you look out of proportion, as your top half looks broad and your sleeve falls short of your wrist. Not a good look.
  • Sleeve length is again of imperative importance so as to avoid the ‘hand-me down’ look. The common outlook is that the sleeve should finish between nine and eleven centimetres above the knuckle of the thumb, eleven centimetres only appropriate if you’re particularly proud of your cufflinks.
  • Finally the length of the jacket is what defines the suit jacket and separates from its longer counterpart the sports jacket. It should finish no longer than mid-way down your backside, and no shorter than the top of your backside – too cropped and the jacket loses its masculinity.
Gordan Richardson at Topman feels there is a disparity between fashionable tailoring and the suit that you would wear to work, which he believes Topman has managed to breach. Topman advocate the more modern cut to great effect, as wearing a slimmer fitted jacket and trousers to work means you can look powerful and fashionable at the same time. With a good quality garment comes the option to tailor the pieces, so even if you have a good quality classic fitting jacket at home, a good tailor can move the arm hole higher and slim the arm at the very least to give your jacket a fresher, more modern look.
Ideally, a bespoke suit is the best suit. The outlay is by no means small, but if you are able to take advantage of the prestigious Savile Row tailoring, it is a must. The opportunities you will find are almost innumerable: flaps, lapels, breast pockets, hips pockets, trouser pockets, shoulder pads, cropped finish, double breasted… all of these options can influence your appearance. Looking taller, shorter, thinner or broader are all viable options when visiting a skilled craftsman like a tailor.
For further information about what to look out for when purchasing a suit, check out these articles:
The Details
Detail is what really separates the sartorial gent, from his try-hard offspring. Pocket squares have become an accessory that shows no sign of going anywhere; adding flair and some life to otherwise bland work wear. A timeless white cotton pocket square is simple but effective, whilst patterned, contrasting or complimentary coloured varieties really give the appearance that you know what you are doing in the style stakes.
  • Red Spotted Silk Pocket Handkerchief, Lanvin
  • AR RED Silk Geo Print Handkerchief
  • Forzieri Framed Solid White Silk Pocket Square
Other accessories the stylish gent could use to complete the suited and booted look include the tie bar or pin. Shown off wonderfully on the impeccably attired men of the Mad Men series, they add an executive class to your formal dress, whilst also being practical.
  • thomas nash Grey mini tie clip
  • TATEOSSIAN Tonneau Short Silver Tie Clip
  • Lanvin Red Gold Plated and Onyx Tie Bar
If your suit fits correctly, then you should never have any need for a belt. However, slim classic leather belts can finish off a suit beautifully and take your overall appearance up a notch.
  • PAUL SMITH - ACCESSORIES 068J-B28 Chocolate Belt
  • HUGO BOSS Oggino reversible belt with stitching
  • Gucci Slim Leather Belt
Finally, any well dressed man knows the power of a great watch. They can really make a statement and finish off your outfit perfectly; essentially they are a huge insight into your personality. Do you prefer gold, silver or leather straps? Do you opt for luxury brands or simply designer names? Do you prefer chunky designs or slim and streamlined?
All of you will have your own opinions on wearing a watch, but I would encourage you to invest wisely first time around. If you really want to show you care about the details and are a man of taste, then look no further than the true Swiss luxury brands. A watch is an investment piece that can last you a lifetime, so spend as much as you can comfortably afford. Remember that it could even end up as an heirloom within your family and passed down generations.
Personally, I would opt for a classic, fuss free design with a slim profile. You want your watch to fit seamlessly under your shirt and blazer, without creating any unnecessary bulk. Not only that, but slim designs are classy and show a refined elegance – perfect for the well dressed gentleman.
Just because you are looking toward luxury brands, it doesn’t mean you have to spend multiple thousands on your time piece. Watch makers like Tissot and Raymond Weil offer luxury craftsmanship and Swiss design at prices around the £500 mark. You can even pick up second hand bargains on places like eBay and in vintage stores around the country. For those of you lucky enough to be able to really invest, why not try some of the major players such as Breitling, Tag, Rolex, IWC, Maurice Lacroix, Baume & Mercier and the like? It is up to you to pick a brand that reflects who you are– whether that be through design, craftsmanship or even the company ethos.
  • Tissot Visodate White Dial Round Gold Tone Steel Case Men's Dress Watch
  • Maurice Lacroix Les Classiques Round White Dial Steel Case Men's Watch
  • Raymond Weil Tradition Black Mens Watch 5466-ST-00208
Finally, an option for the modern male who really wants to stand out. We have had a real fascination with the world of vintage and revamping older pieces recently within men’s fashion, so why not try a pocket watch? Once the signature piece of royalty and the aristocracy, a pocket watch would definitely set you apart from the crowd these days. Shown in the look book below, the chain can be subtly placed in order to create intrigue, with them looking particularly good with a true 3 piece suit. Dandyism at its finest.
  • sekonda-pocket-watch
  • LIMIT Open Face Pocket Fob Watch NEW Gold Plated 5336
  • royal-london-pocket-slim-pocket-watch
Suits Look Book
Lounge Suits Look Book Inspiration for Men
Example Outfits
Look One
This pairs the classic navy suit with coordinating colours which bring out the best of it. Browns will always look great when paired against navy, as it teases out the richness of the colour. A leather briefcase and a pair of classic Derbies are great options here with this classic take on tailoring. A pale blue shirt will coordinate well with the navy tone of the suit, whilst providing enough contrast against the navy tie in order to make it stand out.
The finishing touch which takes this outfit up a notch comes from the patterned red pocket square. This becomes the focal point of the whole outfit and due to it being a contrasting colour, it will look superb against the blue backdrop. Just don’t try and be too cute with it, this pattern will look so much better stuffed in, rather than folded neatly.
  • Light Blue Washed Oxford Shirt
  • Drakes Knitted Silk Tie
  • LEONHARD HEYDEN Small briefcase
  • Forzieri Polkadot Twill Silk Pocket Square
  • ASOS Lace Up Leather Sole Derby Shoes

Look Two
Taking inspiration from two of this years key trends – plaid and double breasted – we have created a powerful office look that is still very professional. The double breasted suit is pin striped which hits the sixties trend, as well as providing you with a real executive look. Keep the rest of the outfit stripped back and simple – a white shirt, black shoes and a small black holdall will anchor the look, allowing the suit to do all the talking.
Key touches that show some sartorial flair come in the details. A white pocket square is a perfect finishing touch that is understated but shows personality. A plaid/tartan inspired tie is on trend, but this muted piece means that you don’t look over the top or try hard. Finally, we opted for monk strap shoes in order to show that we know about the latest footwear trends, whilst also creating some separation from the rest of the work force.
  • White smart shirt
  • Hugo Boss Double Breasted Chalk Stripe Suit
  • White Cotton Pocket Square
  • Black Fleece Prince of Wales Check Tie
  • Ted Baker Holdall

Look Three
For those of you who can get away with bolder colours at work, this is an easy to put together look that will definitely have you standing out from the crowd. Here the fudge brown (similar to camel tone) suit is a statement on its own, especially when the rest of the population tend to stick to navy, black, grey or dark brown. The richness of the suit is bound to garner attention, meaning that you don’t actually have to dress it up too much.
Here we just anchor it with a white shirt, but finish it off with a tie in this season’s biggest colour trend, orange. The brown and orange will coordinate beautifully together, whilst I guarantee you that you will not see many people rocking an orange tie this year – it is too hard to pull off for the general population.
  • White Button Down Slim Fit Shirt
  • Forzieri Solid Knit Silk Narrow Sox Tie
  • Fudge Brown Skinny Suit

Look Four

Finally, we are taking another classic suit style that every man should have in their wardrobe. The grey suit is a very versatile piece that gives off a slightly more relaxed aesthetic when compared to its black or navy counterparts. This time we are going to introduce colour through our accessories and finishing touches, so we will again anchor the whole look with a classic white shirt. You could of course choose another anchoring colour such as black or even a different shade of grey if you wish.
We inject some colour with the tie and cashmere scarf. The burgundy colour tone is perfect for autumn/winter, and contrasts perfectly against the grey tone of the suit and the neutral white of the shirt. The camel coloured scarf is another on trend autumn/winter hue that not only coordinates with the grey, but the burgundy tie as well. Simply drape the scarf around your neck and tuck into your blazer for effortless elegance.
A tie pin will keep you looking pristine whether you are running for the train on the morning commute or wining and dining clients at a business lunch.
  • ASOS Slim Check Suit
  • White smart shirt
  • Drakes Woven Patterned Silk Tie
  • Loro Piana Fringed Cashmere Scarf
  • Gunmetal Rectangle Tie Clip
  • alexander mcqueen Punched leather brogues


A well cut suit is one of the most important pieces in a man’s wardrobe. It has a long and distinguished history, and is your every day suit of armour in which to face the world. However, that doesn’t mean you have to become a stereotype; choosing the correct fit, getting your pieces professionally altered, and picking the right finishing accessoriesis what is going to make you stand out. Remember that life is too short to blend in, we need to make a statement of intent each and every day – so chose your suit carefully, stick your chest out and let the jeans and v-neck brigade melt as you waltz on impossibly dapper.
Next week we will have a detailed guide showing you how to dress down the suit, so be sure to check the back for tips on how to look unashamedly swanky when teaming a t-shirt and blazer.
Current Season Suiting
  • Ted Baker Indoz Navy Jacket
  • ASOS Slim Fit Flecked Jacket
  • Navy Sharkskin Suit
  • Alexander McQueen Checked Suit Jacket
  • Ralph Lauren Purple Label Drake Wool Pinstripe Suit
  • FOLK Szabo White Shirt
  • Black Label Black Knightsbridge Shirt
  • Light Blue Washed Oxford Shirt
  • Richard James Striped Cotton Shirt
  • ZEGNA SPORT Gingham Regular Fit Shirt
  • CHURCH Elevdon Penny slip-on shoes brown
  • Arthur Black Leather Shoes
  • ASOS Leather Sole Derby Shoes
  • Ralph Lauren Shoes & Accessories Leather Monk Strap Shoes