August 06, 2018

How to Dress Like a Gentleman - Pedro Mendes

In the latest of our How to Dress Like a Gentleman Series, we speak to the exceptionally well turned out Pedro Mendes, getting his thoughts on how he puts his clothing choices together. You can find Pedro on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/thehogtownrake/

How would you describe your own personal style?
As I get older and more experienced with building my wardrobe, I'm becoming more conservative. I am drawn, over and over, to the standards that have served many generations well. And have served me well. I have occasionally tried for something daring that breaks with tradition, only to find I rarely wear it.

On the other hand, I have also gone "full vintage" and found that some items or combinations are simply too mired in history. I realise, however, that there is a disparity between what I believe my style is and what others see. In my mind, I am striving for understated elegance. But my understated elegance is another man's flamboyant dandyism. Or to another, boring old man's clothes.

In truth, I am very much on a journey of self-discovery that I hope never ends. I hope I never cease to discover new items, new makers and the excitement and joy that comes with getting dressed.

Pedro Mendes The Hogtown Rake
Navy jacket and lapel pin
Trousers and braces
Are there any brands you particularly think fit with your style?

While there are a number of brands and makers I regularly return to, the only brand that comes to mind as matching my fundamental approach to style – which is casual elegance – is the old Brooks Brothers. I say "old" because BB today is a hybrid of traditional Ivy Style and modern Italian fashion.

Their old classics, like chinos, button-down shirts, repp ties and soft-shouldered jackets, are core items in my wardrobe today – only from other makers. I do have some basics from BB today, but I would have been a kid in a candy store visiting them 50 years ago. 

When you choose your outfit for the day, what is the item that you choose first?

Years ago, I read an Andre 3000 interview where he said he chooses his trousers first and I've been following that advice ever since. Starting with trousers, I'm thinking about background textures and colours before I even consider the foreground. In a sense, preparing the canvas for the painting. Plus, if the trousers have a bit of colour or texture (for example brown corduroy instead of grey flannel) then I pick items that harmonise with them. Otherwise, I might only wear grey flannel, as it goes with almost any jacket/shirt/tie combo.  

Do you have any particular favourite patterns or colours?

A few years ago, I made a concerted effort to bring more brown into my wardrobe. It's a great alternative to grey as a base, but also works well as an accent colour, and mixes so well with blues and reds.

More recently, I've also introduced greens, especially darker, earthier greens. I can't see myself in a green suit just yet, but for cardigans, polos, ties and even trousers, it's a great alternative colour. I have to admit that when it comes to patterns, I'm a solids kind of guy. I have a few, very few, striped shirts, but always find myself going back to solids.

With ties, however, I break free, preferring either thick repp stripes or small medallion patterns. Combined with solid jackets, shirts and ties, that's just enough pattern for me. 

Brown jacket and cardigan
Green polo shirt and jacket
Green tie and blue shirt
How do you then choose the accessories you wear?
I have implanted the idea of finding harmony in colour and texture deep enough that I don't think about it anymore. Instead, I focus on how an accessory makes me feel and if it expresses my mood on a given day.
For instance, I already know the impact of either a silk or wool pocket square on a given outfit and so I'll let myself be guided by my feelings: am I energised enough to wear bright colours, or do I need their lift? Or do I want something more sober, either for the event I'm attending or to match my mood?
What do you generally look for when choosing your pocket square?

I have become very picky about pocket squares, after years of wearing so many different kinds and sizes. First and foremost there is the body of the thing: is it either too flimsy and small and therefore won't puff up or might sink into my pocket? Or is it so large and thick, it's far too bulky and will bulge out of my pocket. The perfect square needs to sit right in the middle.

I then look at the craftsmanship: the quality of the silk or wool, the printing (vibrant, not dull) and if it has hand rolled edges (a sign that the maker cares – you wouldn't hand roll edges on a poor quality square).

Once I'm convinced about the actual physical square, then I look at design. And increasingly, I'm interested in simple and subtle designs. For instance, I prefer squares that add a subtle touch of colour or texture to an outfit, instead of a pop. And so I have to be mindful of the predominant colours in my wardrobe before making a selection. If most of my jackets are blue and brown, then squares in those tones will work well.

Navy texture jacket and pocket square
Navy check jacket and yellow pocket square
Brown pocket square
For your tie, do you like a particular width or length?

My tie preferences are dictated by the tailoring I wear. Most of my lapels are around 8.5cm wide, so that's the tie width I prefer. And since most of my trousers have either a medium or full rise, I'd prefer my ties not be so long, so that they hang only to my waist. I use a four-in-hand knot and since many of my shirt collars are button-down or semi-spread, the tie can't be too bulky or too lightweight, otherwise, I can't achieve the knot I like: neither too big nor too slim.

8cm wide red tie
With your socks, do you go for classic patterns and colours that blend with your shoes and trousers, or do you prefer more vibrant colours?

Most of the time, my socks are a sober backdrop to the rest of my wardrobe: navy blue. I have branched out a bit into dark burgundy, forest green and dark grey, but that's as far as I stray in the winter. In the summer, I love my oatmeal, red or green linen socks. I'm not a "fun socks" guy as I like my entire outfit to express how I feel, not just my ankles.

How much thought do you put into your shoe style and colour?
In a sense, I put very little thought into my shoes because I know so well what I like: classic styles in medium or dark brown. I have tried in the past experimenting with other colours and last shapes, but I end up not wearing the shoes. And so a slightly rounded last, neither pointy nor stubby, is my preference.

Beyond that, my shoe wardrobe is made up of classic oxfords, some brogued shoes, tassel loafers and boots. Keeping my shoes all in the same brown range also makes caring for them simpler: only one tin of shoe polish required.

Do you wear one watch or different watches? If so, what style of watch do you wear most often?
I have a few different watches I wear for specific occasions. My vintage 1950s Carlex dress watch only comes out when I'm off to a special event. My Seiko 007 diver is my rugged watch for casual outfits.

But the watch I wear most, that can be either dressy or casual, is my Seiko Alpinist SARB017. This now-discontinued modern classic, features a sunburst green dial, a polished and matte case, double crown and gold coloured hour markers and hands, which also feature a Mercedes hour hand. There is something just so pleasing about this watch, combining retro and sporty aspects so elegantly, that I find it on my wrist more than any other watch.

Vintage 1950 Carlex Watch
Seiko 007 Dive Watch
Seiko Alpinist Sunburst Green Watch
July 21, 2018

How to Dress Like a Gentleman - Daniel Öhrstedt

In the second of our How to Dress Like a Gentleman Series, we speak to the always immaculately turned out Daniel Öhrstedt, getting his views into what he looks for when putting his clothing choices together. You can find Daniel on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/datinventory

How would you describe your own personal style?
Tough question, but I guess I aspire for something classic, with a slightly modern and casual twist.

My workplace neither requires suit, jacket or tie, so they are all choices of my personal preference. This also means that I can vary my daily style: from suit and tie to more casual looks, like a field jacket and a polo shirt, depending on what I feel like wearing that day.

Most of the time I end up wearing a pair of high rise single pleated flannel/cotton trousers, an oxford shirt, brown shoes and a casual tie (wool/knitted) with an odd jacket. This is a bit less formal than for example a 3-piece pin striped suit, which may look a little over the top at my workplace, but it allows me to play with the elements of classic clothing that I enjoy.

Field jacket and polo
Green tie and pocket square
Pleated trousers
Are there any brands you particularly think fit with your style?

If you browse through my wardrobe you quickly realize that I tend to use some brands more often than others, e.g. Drake's London, Berg & Berg, Rampley & Co, Loake, Eidos and Stoffa.

I think these brands have something important in common. They all provide the customer with very easy-to-wear items and they make classic clothing that fits very well into modern lifestyle, be it casual or formal.

Additionally, I think there are a few more brands that fit into this category and that I’d love to see myself picking up more of in the future, like PrivateWhiteVC, Ring Jacket and Edward Green.  

When you choose your outfit for the day, what is the item that you choose first?

It might depend on various factors: the feeling of the day, some item I particularly feel like wearing, a new combination that has to be tested, or maybe I try building an outfit around something that’s just arrived.

It also depends on what’s on the schedule that day (will there be meetings or do I expect a big delivery that needs to be unpacked). I also try to vary and wear as many of my clothes as possible. Therefore I always take into account what I've been wearing the previous days.  

Do you have any particular favourite patterns or colours?

I very often favour the earthy tones: brown, sand, taupe and green. As for patterns, I do love the striped shirt and printed scarfs/pocket squares. I try to find more subtle patterns and prefer to play more with fabric textures. 

Blue striped shirt and jacket
Taupe jacket
Green knitted vest and jacket
How do you then choose the accessories you wear?

The tie can sometimes be the first thing I choose and at other times it’s something that pops up in the middle of the process. From time to time I find myself thinking that I’m fully dressed in a tieless look, but then I start thinking "wouldn’t this look even better with a tie?" and go back to get one.

 The pocket square is almost always the last thing I choose, "the final touch" so to speak. I like to think of the pocket square as the one thing that I choose in order to bring out that little extra, adding some extra colour or intensifying an existing one. Or just simply I try to create something a little eye-catching.

What do you generally look for when choosing your pocket square?

Often I find myself looking for different colours when making the pocket square choice. Sometimes I want to find something vivid, other times I want something more muted or tonal, it very much depends on the mood and what I want to create that day. I like something that becomes that extra element of interest.

I also like pocket squares that look a little different depending on how you fold them, this can be great when you travel with just a few squares.

Pocket square folds
Pocket square without tie
Pocket square with navy jacket
For your tie, do you like a particular width or length?

I think my sweet spot when it comes to tie width lies between 8 and 9 cm (with the exception of knitted ties that could be a little thinner) and a length around 150 cm.

This, I think, fits both me and the lapel width of the jackets that I tend to wear. 

8cm wide tie

With your socks, do you go for classic patterns and colours that blend with your shoes and trousers, or do you prefer more vibrant colours?

Socks are among those things that you can never have too many of, but I do have a preference of ribbed over the calf socks.

Previously I've always opted for the classic navy, dark grey and dark brown colours, but currently, I often find myself looking for a pair of bottle green ones. However, a few recent additions of darker muted purple socks found their way into my wardrobe and I actually find them surprisingly easy to wear.

How much thought do you put into your shoe style, and colour? 
I guess I put quite a lot of thought into shoes, since I’ve ended up with quite a few pairs over the years (and there are still a few more on my mind). Much like many others these days, I own a quite large portion of brown shoes of different shades and styles, but also the occasional burgundy, black and lighter suede.

Dress shoes collection

The common thing with my shoes would be that I do prefer the classic rounded lasts (these tend to fit my feet best) and like to add a little bit of shine.

Do you wear one watch or different watches? If so, what style of watch do you wear most often?
I very much like watches, but currently I'm a one-watch guy. 

I started out picking up some vintage watches, but I managed to break them all at work. So I thought I would get something more durable and I started to look at the well-known dive watches only to find that I liked the vintage ones the best. I ended up getting the newly issued Tudor, that was made with the older "marine nationale" models in mind as a compromise, and I've worn this every day for about 3 years now. I still do like this watch a lot, but I keep looking for something that would slip underneath the cuff a bit better from time to time.

May 28, 2018

How to Dress Like a Gentleman - Linus Norrbom

In the first of our How to Dress Like a Gentleman Series, we speak to the very dapper Linus Norrbom, getting his insights into what he looks for in his clothing choices, and how he pairs his outfits. You can find Linus on Instagram here: Instagram.com/linus.norrbom 

How would you describe your own personal style?
I would probably describe my style as somewhat traditional menswear, but with a contemporary and casual touch – not too formal really. I have a preference for natural/soft shoulders and very lightly constructed jackets, and enjoy being playful in terms of patterns and colours.

If I try to put a label on it, I would like to say “casual elegance”, but that would be up to the eye of the beholder to judge.

Polo with jacket
Well dressed gentleman

Are there any brands you particularly think fit with your style?
I like to think I focus on clothes that I like regardless of brand. To me, the garments as such are important, not the brand. However, there are certain brands that I tend to end up with since they fit my style and preferences really well.

A common denominator is probably great value for the money. For instance, for Ready-to-Wear suits, jackets and shirts, my wardrobe consists of a lot of Suit Supply garments. As someone that likes clothes a bit too much for being content with just a few pieces, I find that their offering fits me well. Nice aesthetics and fit, with good quality fabrics at a great value. For Made-to-Measure, I have been pleased with the fairly new Swedish brand Blugiallo, for the same reasons.

Blugiallo Suit

In terms of accessories, there is a number of high-quality specialist brands that I like and use. As is probably evident to anyone who follows me on Instagram, Rampley & Co. is one of my absolute favourites, but I also appreciate and use products from makers like Berg & Berg, Granqvist, Cordone, urbanites, and GENTL SUPPLY.

When you choose your outfit for the day, what is the item that you choose first?
I typically have a mental vision in my head of the whole ensemble and a feeling, but the thought process often starts with the suit or sports coat I want to wear. However, this ties quite closely the choice of pocket square and tie that is key to achieve that feeling of the look I’m after. Shirt, trousers and shoes follow, and lastly any other accessories.

How to choose a pocket square and tie

Do you have any particular favourite patterns or colours?
For jackets/suits, I very much enjoy subtle and fairly classic patterns, like herringbone, houndstooth or a nice glen check or gun club check. In accessories, also dots, stripes and paisley come into play.

In terms of colours, I like to mix the classic blues and greys with other colours, in accessories such as ties, pocket squares and socks but also in sport coats and sometimes even a casual suit. You will typically see me wearing a lot of green (bottle, olive, forest,…), orange (burnt orange, rust, …), brown and burgundy.

How do you then choose the accessories you wear?
The accessories are not just a detail I add to an outfit, I find them vital to the ensemble. I like to keep an ensemble well balanced and often bring out some complementing colours, but also some secondary colours that are present elsewhere in the outfit to ground the ensemble.

I often go with a fairly simplistic tie, and let the pocket square do the talking – for instance, a solid grenadine tie and a pocket square with a more complex pattern and colour mix.

Green tie and pocket square
suit and tie
brown tie and pocket square

What do you generally look for when choosing your pocket square?
Quality, pattern, colours, size. If you look at the pocket squares from Rampley & Co., they are pretty much ideal. A very high standard in terms of quality (fabric, print, sewing), a good size, and beautiful motifs with a colour palette that allow for many different impressions depending on how you fold them. I find them extremely versatile and easy to pair.

Also, I always like when products of brands have a history or a story to tell. Rampley’s different art collections for pocket squares is a perfect example of such as product. In addition to the pocket squares being really beautiful, it gives me pleasure to carry a true piece of art in my pocket that is mostly hidden to others.

For your tie do you like a particular width or length?
Currently, my preference is 8,5 or 9 cm width with a standard length of around 150 cm. I want the width of the blade to harmonize with the lapel width and shirt collar size.

9cm tie blade
8.5cm tie with jacket

With your socks do you go for classic patterns and colours that blend with your shoes and trousers, or do you prefer more vibrant colours?
I tend to go for quite classic socks choices, either in a solid colour or with a subtle herringbone or houndstooth pattern. Colour-wise, I often choose to pick up a secondary colour from elsewhere in the ensemble.

Frequent colours, apart from navy and grey, are typically burgundy, dark green. Occasionally you will see some brown, purple or burnt orange.

How much thought do you put into your shoe style, and colour?
I have a preference for using brown shoes, you rarely see me in black (unless formality demands it). As I like to keep a casual touch to my way of dressing, I wear loafers (mostly suede, both tassels and penny) and double monks quite a bit.

Naturally, you will see me wearing cap-toe oxfords as well. Dark to mid-brown shades mostly. Living in Sweden, wintertime boots are unavoidable.

“Suede
“Double

Do you wear a watch or different watches? If so, what style of watch do you wear most often?
I’m not a watch aficionado in any way, but have a few basic pieces I enjoy wearing. Design-wise, I like a minimalistic approach.

We also post daily images of some of our favourite outfit shots on Instagram, including Linus above, which can be used as a source of inspiration here: www.instagram.com/rampleyandco.

May 08, 2018

The Complete Guide To Bespoke Shirts - Fabrics, Cuts, Collars & Styles

What is a bespoke shirt

The importance of a crisp, well fitting shirt is often overlooked, with a clear focus being on the jacket or suit. However, how well your shirt fits is a critical component on how well your overall outfit looks. With this in mind, we have put together a comprehensive guide to shirts. In the post we will cover:

  • The difference between expensive and cheap cottons
  • Off-the-peg vs Made-to-measure vs Bespoke shirts
  • Insights into different cuts, collars and cuffs
  • How shirt styles differ in different regions of the world

For this post, we decided to consult an expert in this area and have turned to Tullio Innocenti, London based bespoke shirtmaker and owner of The Travelling Artisan. He has kindly provided us with his insights from years of bespoke shirtmaking.

Starting With The Fabric

When it comes to fabrics, a client that is paying a premium for a luxury fabric should always expect a cotton fibre to come from one of three origins, Egyptian Cotton, West Indies Sea Island Cotton and US Supima Cotton but firstly let’s look at ELS cottons.

Shirt cottons

Extra Long Staple (ELS) - The Benchmark In Quality Cotton 
The recognised industry standard for the minimum fibre length of an ELS cotton is 34.925 mm, which is significantly longer than traditional varieties of cotton, known as short staple, Upland cottons. Upland cotton varieties have an average staple length of between 26 and 27 mm. ELS cotton fibres can exceed 40mm. ELS cottons are prized for their superior strength and uniformity, high lustre and unrivalled softness.

However, they are grown only in limited quantities because they need very a specific environment to grow successfully, with optimum amounts of sunshine, rain and humidity. ELS varieties are very vigorous plants and if not managed properly, will grow into large bushes or small trees that produce minimal fibre.

The cotton is sometimes hand-picked, rather than machine harvested, resulting in higher production costs, especially when compared to Upland cotton varieties. Below I expand on the characteristics of each of the main types of cotton so you can ask about the cotton going into your shirt.

Giza 45
"Giza 45" is, without doubt, the best quality Egyptian cotton on the market with its extra long staple of 3.6cm. Why is an extra long staple important? The staple is what the cotton fibre is made from, the longer the staple, the less it tends to pill or fray. This means the cotton is inherently stronger and long-lasting.

This also means that you can produce a finer thread from the longer fibre, allowing the manufacturer of fabrics from 140's up to 330's count. Effectively this measures the fineness of the fabric. A longer staple creates a much softer and silkier fabric, so the higher the count, the finer the final product will be.

This is why Egyptian Cotton it is more expensive than its Chinese counterpart which is classified as upland quality, which is an inferior due to its length and durability.

What Has Made Egyptian Cotton So Well Known?
Cotton from Egyptian fibres, usually around 2.85cm in length, are more breathable and become softer over time with use. It also produces less lint and will not pill. This high-quality fibre is longer and narrower than other cottons, allowing thread counts of up to 1,000 per square inch. This provides a lighter weight and extremely strong, long-lasting durability. Sheets made with Egyptian cotton, if cared for properly, can last forty or fifty years.

Egyptian Cotton

Grown on the side of the Nile, less than 0.5% of the local cotton production is actually Giza 45. Its cousin Giza 87 has similar properties but its key difference is a peculiar shine to the fabric that actually increases after each washing. Giza 45 is the most highly prized of all the Egyptian cottons. It is cultivated in a small area of the Nile Delta, where sun, rain, humidity and fertile soil create perfect growing conditions. Harvested by hand, it’s five times as expensive as other Egyptian cottons.

West Indies Sea Island Cotton
"Sea Island” from the West Indies is probably the best quality cotton fibre in the world due to the incredible 5.3cm staple length. This longer staple means that it is much more expensive and rare than the shorter fibre cottons. Sea Island Cotton is really scarce and is estimated to be only 0.004% of the world's long staple production. This was actually the original cottonseed imported in Egypt in the early 19th century to start the Giza 45 and 87 production.

Sea Island Cotton

Sea Island cotton has been grown in Barbados for more than 300 years. Perhaps the most famous of all the luxury cottons – in the 1800s it was so coveted, it was used to make Queen Victoria’s handkerchiefs. Today, Sea Island cotton’s unique qualities – ELS fibres, silky lustre, supreme softness and high tensile strength – allow it to be woven into cloths of the very highest yarn count.

Supima Cotton
Supima is on a similar level quality wise to Egyptian Cotton but it is not used a lot by European companies that prefer Egyptian Cottons, as they are able to attain better pricing. Supima cotton is only grown in the US and is known for its consistent quality. 

Less Popular ELS Cotton Varieties
Indian Suvin
Suvin is the jewel in the Indian cotton crown. Suvin is a hybrid of Sea Island cotton from St Vincent in the Caribbean, and an indigenous Indian variety called Sujatha. Often called ‘White Gold’, only a few thousand bales of this superfine cotton are grown each year in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu

American Pima
Pima cotton is the generic name for ELS cotton grown in the U.S. It was named after the Pima Indians who tended the cotton in Arizona in the early 20th century. Supima® cotton – superior American Pima – has been developed to improve its yield potential and enhance its fibre characteristics. 

What Cotton Are Standard High Street Shirts Made From?

In comparison to Egyptian Cotton woven fabrics, the 'Chinese short staple' woven in either India or China dominates 97% of the world's production. It is these cottons that are used in most global high street shirt chains.

These cottons are 80% to 95% less expensive than ELS cottons, and therefore with such a competitive price point, it’s easy to understand why these cottons dominate the majority of shirts sales globally.

The downside is, Chinese short staple cotton pills are stiffer, frays, is less durable and does not feel as silky on the skin. Because of the short staple you cannot make high fabric counts out of Chinese short staple cotton.  

Which Companies Produce The Best Cotton?

When creating a bespoke shirt it is my preference to work with Egyptian and Sea Island Cotton. Providing the fabric is sourced from these locations I make sure the cotton is spun, woven and finished in Italy where renown operations like Albini have developed a vertical integration over the years which allows them to control the sourcing, spinning, weaving and finishing of the cloth, which is still based in Italy.

Albini Mill

In my opinion Albini, Thomas Mason, David and John Anderson, S.I.C. Tess, Bonfanti, Caro Riva, Atelier Romentino are the companies I trust to source the fabrics I work with depending on my customer's needs. These companies produce top quality fabrics due to their constant effort in sourcing only top quality raw materials and use the best technology when it comes to spinning, weaving and finishing.

A Comparision - Off-the-Peg, Made to Measure and Bespoke Shirts

Off-the-Peg
An off the peg shirt is by definition a shirt designed for the mass market. What this means in practice is all aspects of the shirt will be cut to an average size pattern.

Therefore shoulder area will not be overly square or narrow, the sleeves will be quite wide, the armhole under the arm will be cut quite low and the torso will not be overly fitting. This ensures that an off the peg shirt will fit a large proportion of men but is unlikely to be overly flattering.

Different brands will start from their own blocks (more on this below), which means some brands will have certain features such as a narrower torso, or wider shoulders. This is why most men find that certain brands will fit them better than others, as the cut of the shirt is more in tune with their own body shape.

Off-the-peg shirts are cut together by layering the fabric on top of each other like a sandwich, with up to 200 cloths being cut at a time. This obviously saves an enormous quantity of time and money. To give you an insight, to cut, make and trim each shirt takes around 20 minutes.

In comparison, a bespoke shirt will take up to 5 hours per shirt to undertake the same process. This also doesn’t take into account the time required to draft and edit the pattern for a bespoke shirt, which goes someone to explaining the hours and therefore cost when comparing an off the peg vs bespoke shirt.

Raw material is a big factor when it comes to identifying the quality in an off-the-peg shirt. Traditional high street operations like T M Lewin, Hawes and Curtis or Charles Tyrwhitt run multi-million pound businesses selling vast quantities of shirts every year.

Due to the scale they work at, they are focused on producing large volumes of shirts at a competitive price. Because of this they tend to use Chinese short fibre cottons, which once spun and woven can be purchased in some cotton types for less £3 a meter. Because of this, a shirt made from this type of lower quality cotton will never look, feel and last as long as a shirt made from higher quality cottons such as Egyptian or Sea Island.

In fairness, off-the-peg does not necessary means poor quality. A few companies still pride themselves on using only top of the range fabrics for off the peg shirts. Brands I would recommend for off-the-peg would be Kiton, Finamore, Borrelli, Charvet and Stefano Ricci. They charge a premium for the sake of using top quality fabrics, but this gives the customer real added value in the quality of the finished product.

Image Source: The Rake

In addition to the fabric used, the attention to detail has an impact on the price. Kiton, Finamore and Borelli are the best known Italian shirt makers that provide top of the range shirts by adding in additional details such as hand sewn button holes, which are not only more beautiful to look at, but are more functional and elastic when we compare them to machine-made buttonholes.

Handmade buttonholes are indeed a real luxury when you consider that each one takes an average of 6 minutes by hand, which is a big difference when compared to a sewing machine that can do a buttonhole in around 2 seconds.

My final point would be, a good quality shirt should always have cotton finishing rather than cheaper options such as nylon.

Made-to-Measure
A made-to-measure shirt could be described as the midpoint between an off-the-peg and bespoke shirt. With made-to-measure, the shirt maker starts with an existing shirt block and makes adjustments to fit the customer. A block is basically a set of fixed dimensions that provide an acceptable fit for a large percentage of the population. It can be small, medium or large and then has the various sizes such as 15, 15.5, 16 16.5 etc.

[image of shirt block]

When you are buying a made-to-measure shirt, the shirt maker is taking a number of measurements, choosing a block that is the closest fit for those measurements and then making adjustments to the collar, length of the sleeves and chest circumference so that it is a better fit than straight off-the-peg. The benefit of this is that the shirt should fit you quite well without having to develop a pattern from scratch.

Choosing a made-to-measure shirt instead of off-the-peg is not a guarantee of quality in itself, and you should always ask the shirt maker about the quality of the source fabric.

The quality of a made-to-measure shirt does vary from maker to maker. With some shirtmakers, you can find the same degree of details that you would expect from a bespoke shirt. Some higher end shirt makers will put as much effort into delivering a quality made-to-measure shirt as they would do with a bespoke, but this is of course reflected in the price.

Shirt makers for made-to-measure shirts generally take a limited number of measurements and then take the others from a size block. When the client tries on the shirt for the first time they can then see if they have been lucky or not... 

Bespoke Shirts
The key difference for a bespoke shirt is that it requires an individual pattern to be drafted. To do this many more measurements need to be taken compared with a made to measure service.

In terms of the number of measurements, for comparison, a basic made-to-measure service would be just to alter the shape and the circumference of the collar, the cuffs and the stomach, plus adapting the length of the sleeves. A more sophisticated level would also alter the chest circumference and the width of the shoulders.

Any more alterations than this and you would be looking at a bespoke shirt, which can be anything from 8 to 30+ measurements depending on the individual tailor. Personally, I take an average of 13 measurements.  However, if the client has got an irregular shape I will take up to 25 measurements.

Bespoke Shirt Measurements

In addition to general size measurements, bespoke involves attention to the slope of the shoulders and posture as these key elements impact on whether the shirt fits exceptionally well.

Attention to detail is something that can be found in all three types of dress shirts and is not necessarily limited to bespoke. It is therefore down to the individual shirtmaker themselves. An off-the-peg Kiton shirt made in Italy would have a very high attention to the quality of stitching and details, perhaps more so than a bespoke shirt made in England but in most cases is unlikely to have the exceptional fit of a bespoke shirt.

My Shirt Making Process

The Cut
The is the part of the process that really separates an off the peg, made-to-measure and a bespoke shirt. This is due to the number of working hours that have to be put into designing and cutting a custom-made made product. Many bespoke shirtmakers will request a minimum order of 6 shirts to cover the initial cost of having to design an individual pattern. 

Bespoke Shirt Pattern
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan

There are a few different methods that a shirtmaker can use to develop their patterns, however, for me personally, I focus on the shoulders. When I cut a shirt I am keenly focused on getting the slope on the shoulders correct. If this parameter is not right you will have issues with 'lateral balance', more on this below.

From there you have to be very precise with the measurement from the point where the shoulder line touches the collar down to the chest. Then the same measurement is taken on the back.

A further measurement is then taken from the intersection of the shoulder line with the collar down to the underarm. Both these two measurements create the balance between the front and the back.

When the shirt has got lot's of wrinkles on the torso, which is a common issue, it means that the cut of the torso is too short so the fabric is pulling up. This same problem can happen on the back side of the shirt.

Above I mentioned issues around the 'lateral balance' of a shirt. This is where you see a prominent line of diagonal draping, starting from the side of the collar down to the underarm. This means that the shirtmaker has started with a block that would have been better suited to somebody with square shoulders. If someone has either narrow or sloped shoulders then the extra fabric bunches in a diagonal pattern across the chest.

Diagonal Draping

This issue is challenging to deal with and is very time consuming to fix. The way that most shirtmakers deal with this is to find a midpoint so the diagonal bunching is not exacerbated by working with blocks that are not developed for overly square or narrow shoulders, effectively (in most cases) you don’t get a very flattering cut over both the shoulders and chest area. 

Fitting
For a bespoke shirt, the fitting process is actually part of the pattern making process, rather than after the shirt has been created. This is the part of the process that puts the price a bespoke shirt significantly higher than an off-the-peg or made-to-measure shirt.

A first fitting consists of making a basted muslin, where everything in terms of fit and design can be modified. In reality, probably less than 10% of shirtmakers include this step, most preferring to go directly to a trial shirt.

Based Muslin
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan

Most shirtmakers start from a block and then do alterations on the collar, chest, shoulder width, stomach, and length of the body and sleeves. They do not take into account the balance and slope of the shoulders, which is when you see the tight wrinkly shirts because the cutter is mainly focused on circumferences, but not the balance of the shirt.

Tight Shirt

It is unlikely to get a truly well-fitted shirt if you do not start from the shoulder slope. This is something that all pattern makers know well, but the cost base is much lower when you start from an existing block.

Each tailor has their own fitting process, but I like to start by fitting the body independently to the sleeves in order to adjust any issues around the shoulder slope and balance.

Sleeveless Basted Muslin
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan

I then set the sleeves, changing the pitch individually to make sure they are attached accordingly to client's posture. This also means that on each side of the shirt the sleeve the side seams will be aligned to the body and not just a mirror image of each other.

It is only at this point, after removing any draping that I translate the basted muslin onto the pattern, that I start cutting the fabric and sewing the actual shirt.

Making The Shirt

You may find it surprising the first thing that should be done before the fabric is cut is to wash it at 60 degrees. This ensures that if there is any shrinkage this happens before the fabric is cut. The fabric is then cut based on the pattern that has been developed.

The torso and sleeves are then cut from the fabric and the collars and cuffs created. I don’t use any fused collars or interlinings, but only the best quality floating interlinings which I offer in different weights and stiffness. 

Finally, I then make the cut at 45 degrees on the bias (as both the fabric and interlining will shrink on the length of the fabric) and wash at 60 degrees so they won't shrink again in future washes.

The Collar
A collar is made up of two pieces, the top and bottom. Between these two pieces is a sturdy interlining, which gives the collar its shape, stiffness and strength. These two pieces are either fused or sewn together. Below, you can see the white interlining overlaying the shirt’s fabric for the collar before it’s fused or sewn together.

Bespoke Shirt Collar
Image Source:The Travelling Artisan

Fused Collars
A fused collar means the interlining is heated and glued together through a fusing machine. This is a stiff, firm collar. The benefit of creating a fused collar is it can be produced relatively cheaply. The downside of a fused collar is that because it doesn't move with the body it is less comfortable and less durable.

Sewn Collars
A sewn collar is hand stitched by a tailor and is a very exact and detailed process. It is the traditional way of producing a shirt collar. It is more durable than a fused collar as the stitching is able to stretch and flex with the wear movements.

Shirt Collar
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan

Some tailors will promote it as being softer or lighter, however, these factors are really determined by the weight of the interlining. So it is really up to the customer, they can choose a stiff sewn collar or a softer more unstructured collar, it’s really up to their personal preference and how they intend to wear the shirt, i.e. is it a business shirt that needs a stiffer collar to look crisp with a tie, or is it intended to be a more casual shirt to be worn with an open neck.

As you would expect, a hand sewn collar is more expensive than a fused collar because of the time involved in making it. However, it is superior due to the customisable nature of the finished collar, durability and comfort of the finished product.

One final point on collars, when ironing the collar you should always iron the shirt collar from the tip to the centre laid flat. This ensures that you won't get bunching on the edge of the collar.

Selecting A Collar 
There are definitely some key things to keep in mind when choosing your collar. Face shape also has a part to play with collars. People with square and full faces benefit from choosing narrow point collars, while if you have a slim face, a spread collar it the best choice as it will make your face look wider.

If you are likely to wear the shirt for more informal occasions a button down collar is the obvious choice. This collar was originally created for polo players, where they would button the collar down while playing and then leave them unbuttoned when off the playing field. Clearly, this was a functional choice but brands like Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren have used it as a marketing tool as brands based on sport, free time and exclusivity.

When choosing the collar for a bespoke shirt, the tailor will focus on the height of the collar stand, which many times has to be cut at different heights on the front and on the back based on the client's posture.

The Sleeves
The next phase of the process is to take the sleeves and add them to the body. Each sleeve takes an average of 25 minutes to be set on the body by a skilled artisan when we factor in the first phase of machine stitching and the second phase of hand-sewn catch-stitching. Catch-stitching from a skilled shirtmaker is so narrow that the stitches are almost invisible to the naked eye and therefore it appears that there is almost no seam at all.

Machine stitching is required first to set the sleeve because you need a strong row of stitching initially and the machine is able to produce a firmer result. Once the sleeve is set into the body you have the seam allowance that you have to sew back in otherwise you would see the extra fabric on the inside.

The handmade catch-stitch allows the shirt maker to create a flat fell seam. A flat fell seam creates a seam area that is flat and smooth and gives more elastic comfort, being less stiff than a full machine stitch, plus it has a much nicer aesthetic, as it doesn’t have the puckering look that you get with machine stitching.

Hand stitching
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan

Buttonholes are also hand sewn, like on a suit, which gives a classic handmade finish on the buttonholes, while mother-of-pearl buttons are my personal preference, which will always be sewn by hand.

Hand sewn button hole
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan

The Cuffs
The cuffs of the shirt really do come down to a personal choice. The different shapes of cuffs have basically been the same for more than a century. Rounded single cuffs are more at the informal sporty end of the spectrum, and go really well with a button down collar to get that Ivy League American look that goes well with jeans and loafers. When it comes to the finish, rounded or cutaway are purely a style choice.

Cuff options

Cufflinks are the more formal option, but most shirtmakers will the create a French cuff (also known as a double cuff). Personally, I do not like double cuffs because rolling the cuff on itself results in a heavy finish on the sleeve, while it can also feel quite bulky under the jacket sleeve. Because of this, I prefer my formal shirts to have a single cuff with buttonholes on both sides so I can wear it with cufflinks.

A Comparison of Classic Shirtmaking - British vs Italian

When it comes to shirts, there is no doubt that Italians have made a big contribution to the style and techniques in shirtmaking. In comparison, traditionally in England up until relatively recently, shirts have been considered little more than underwear, with the focus being primarily on the suit or jacket.

Italians have always placed a lot of importance on style and handwork, while the British have gravitated to a greater focus on comfort. A key reason for this viewpoint can be found in the weather. Warmer weather makes the shirt a key element of an outfit, particularly in the south of Italy, while the cooler British climate means that the suit jacket has a far more prominent role visually during most months of the year.

While an Italian tailor would sew buttonholes by hand, in Britain this luxury is limited to bespoke shirts, preferring the more functional and less time-consuming machine stitching. An Italian tailor would also use the same criteria in setting the sleeves and sewing the buttons while most British tailors would prefer machine stitching. I would consider Naples the capital of Italy when it comes to creating a bespoke shirt, while the British equivalent would be tailors located on Jermyn Street in London.

If you are looking for the best, I would say Kiton is the apex when it comes to shirtmaking. Truly Neapolitan in style and heritage, this maker known for suits is also an excellent shirtmaker. In my opinion, It is the best when it comes to materials, cut, style and finishing.

While Kiton and most Italian shirt makers would focus on the aesthetic, the British tend to focus on comfort when it comes to the fit. Italian shirts often exhibit high armholes and a low sleeve cap which are noticeably different compared to the classic British shirt with a low armhole and high sleeve cap that we find with most British shirtmakers.

Obviously, it is down to personal taste but when it comes to details, Italian shirts, like their suits, tend to be more informal and less stiff. Kiton like almost all Neapolitan shirt makers uses no interlining inside the placket. The placket often refers to the double layers of fabric that hold the buttons and buttonholes in a shirt and is most visible as the vertical line down the front centre of the shirt. Plackets can also be found at the neckline of a shirt, the cuff of a sleeve, or at the waist of a pair of trousers.

What is a shirt placket
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan

Plackets are almost always made of more than one layer of fabric, and often have interlining in between the fabric layers. This is done to give support and strength to the placket fabric because the placket and the fasteners on it are often subjected to stress when the garment is worn. The two sides of the placket often overlap.

Plackets tend to have light fused interlining in British shirtmaking while Neapolitan shirtmakers tend not to add it because it looks a bit too stiff and not sophisticated unless you want a formal shirt, where a prominent placket is a key element.

On the collar, Neapolitan shirtmakers tend to prefer floating collars rather than fused. Turnbull & Asser which I consider to be the epitome of English shirt making use fused interlinings on both the inside of the placket and the collar, which in my personal opinion looks very stiff and is, therefore, more suited to a formal shirt.

Another key feature where British and Italian shirtmakers differ is how the sleeves are set into the body. Italians would proceed in the same way they would do on a suit. They would first sew the body, and then in a second stage, sew the sleeves and set them on the body individually during the fitting. This ensures that each sleeve has got the correct pitch. In Britain, this is something that Savile Row tailors would do on suits, but very rarely on shirts.

Finally, another of the key differences between Kiton and Turnbull & Asser has to do with most common fabric colours. Italians tend to like pastel and neutral colours while the British like bold stripes and patterns which I personally feel adds a unique flavour to the shirt.

Other International Shirt Styles

A bespoke shirt is very personal, and therefore the wearer can have any style of shirt they wish. As a general rule, by reputation, Italy and UK the two main players historically when it comes to tailoring and fabrics around shirtmaking. However, there have always been relatively distinct styles in some of the world’s major shirt making regions. Although in saying this, there is no doubt that in the last 20 years, due to globalisation, the styles around the world are becoming more standardised.

The major differences in shirt styles come down to the fitting. Italian and more recently the Asian markets favour well-fitted shirts. Although similar, this does not mean that they then like the same features. They both like quite plain, pastel colours, such as solid blues, subtle stripes and lots of whites, but while the Asian market tends to like a more understated collar, the Italian tend to vary by region with those from Milano (north) preferring a lower collar stand while those from Central Italy (Rome) prefer a higher collar stand, which they also like to be stiffer. Naples and the south tend to be very classic and 90% of the Italian tailors tend to come from this region where there is a long history in shirt making.

British customers prefer a stiffer collar, a looser fit and a collar stand that is not excessively tall. They like interesting patterns, prints, shiny twills and fabrics that have some kind of character and personality.

The US has two distinct styles, with the East cost very traditional with a nice blend of Italian and British style sensibilities, with the younger generation preferring the Neapolitan softer collar shirt makers. 

An iconic American shirtmaking brand is Brooks Brothers, the oldest men’s clothier in the US. It has an iconic history, being a leading brand in developing the Ivy League style that involves oxford button down shirts. Ralph Lauren is also worth mentioning, in this style of semi-formal shirt.

Brooks Brothers Shirt
Image Source: Business Insider

Surprisingly, the French do not have such a strong tradition in shirtmaking per se, when compared with their other influences in the suiting and general fashion world. However, that being said, Charvet, based in Paris, is one of the most famous shirt makers in the world.

They have a very traditional sensibility, a bit like Turnbull and Asser in the UK with the same kind of old refined clientele. The fit is fairly similar to the UK, and slightly more comfortable compared to the Italian style. By this I mean the underarms would be lower, less focus on the sleeve cap, which is also higher because the shoulders tend to be wider and less fitted.

Charvet Shirt
Image Source: GQ

Finally, two other companies worth mentioning would be Ascot Chang based in Hong Kong and Camiseria Burgos in Spain, who are two quality shirtmakers with with same love for handmade features as exhibited by Neapolitan tailors, but as a general rule the fit is not quite as fitting and it is slightly roomier when compared with an Italian tailor.

About Tullio Innocenti - The Travelling Artisan

I initially trained as an industrial designer and professional pattern maker. However, after working for many years at Ralph Lauren as a product developer I decided that my passion was in being a shirtmaker, striving to make the perfect shirt. In looking to develop the perfect bespoke shirt, a challenge for from both an aesthetic and technical point of view, I wanted to blend the understated British design characteristics, with the Italian attention to quality and detail. My background in product development and pattern making helps me blend attention to style with technical knowledge, creating a product that is both sophisticated and cut to the client's needs.

Quintessentially British features like bold stripes and decisive collars, stand together with Italian luxury cottons and hand finished details create The Travelling Artisan shirt. For bespoke shirt enquiries please email me at info@thetravellingartisan.co.uk.

Tullio
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan
March 28, 2018

Men's Silk Scarves - Our Guide For The Gentleman

In our minds, there is nothing quite so elegantly rakish and raffish as a men’s silk scarf worn in a beautifully blasé manner. Whatever the milieu you move in – or that you are trying to infiltrate – a silk scarf is one of the few accessories that is capable of making a bold yet laid back statement at the same time.

Casual silk scarf
Image Source: Lookastic.com

The Origin Of The Scarf

Silk scarves for men originated in the modern day as an accessory for pilots to protect their necks from irritation as they flew in cockpits open to the elements. Whether it be the stories of heroic war deeds, or images from Hollywood of the brave fighter pilot, a silk scarf has always given a man a sense of standing apart, supremely confident in his own skin. 

Cary Grant Silk Scarf

Nowadays it is one of the few articles of clothing in a man's wardrobe that is wholly romantic – a quality that we hold in high regard and that we think is not at all irrelevant to maintaining an optimistic lucidity in today’s world. A men's silk dress scarf will pronounce that you have occasionally taken a step back from the game in order to contemplate and luxuriate, while also remaining in it.  

A Few Rules To Keep In Mind

Be careful never to mistake a scarf for a necktie. While contemporaries in style and dignity, they are polar opposites when it comes to attitude. Don't tie a scarf tightly around your neck, for that you would want to invest in a cravat. In our opinion a scarf is meant to be worn loose and easy; to be tossed on as a finishing touch to an outfit rather than seem as if the look is expressly planned around it, as with a necktie. This is expressly their charm. Our preference is to wear it as a classic drape, however there are a few more options set out below.

Silk Scarf and Suit
Image Source: Thebestfashionblog.com

Matching Options

In terms of matching options, you can apply the same basic thoughts about colour and pattern to your scarf-and-shirt combination as to your tie-and-shirt combinations, at least at the beginning. Don't match your scarf pattern to your shirt, or choose to wear a bold pattern on both garments. We particularly like a silk scarf in paisley as a wardrobe staple and paired with a plain coloured shirt. 

A scarf is a very versatile accessory allowing your to dress up a cardigan or casual jacket. You can simply drape a long scarf around your neck and let the ends hang free inside or outside the garment, depending on whichever feels most natural for you. They are also a great addition under a winter coat. As most of your clothing is covered during the cold winter months, a scarf is a good way to add a touch of colour to your winter look.

Winter jacket and scarf

The Wrap Around Knot

If you're looking for something a bit more bold than simply draping your scarf, an alternative knot is the wrap around. Similar to draping, it does give off a casual feel, but clearly makes more of a statement of style intent, and puts your colour combinations right into the eye line of anyone you should be passing by.

Wrap around silk scarf

The Parisian Knot

If you do however wish to make your scarf the focal point of your outfit, you can opt for the Parisian or loop knot. Just make a coil of the silk scarf, put around your neck, and pass both ends of the scarf through. The Parisian knot, when wearing it over the top of the jacket gives the scarf volume and takes it from subtle accessory to an overt fashion statement so you need to wear this knot with poise and certainty. We suggest trying out this look with a blazer on days that are lower key.

Parisian Knot
Image Source: Artofstyle.com

The Formal Look

Scarves are especially wonderful when worn with a tuxedo.  For a classic, old-school look that never dates, go for dark or light coloured plain silk scarf. Black tie events have relatively strict rules for the gentleman's attire, so a scarf most definitely adds a flamboyant touch to your tuxedo. For a more conservative look, tuck the scarf behind the lapels of your suit. You can wear it with or without a bow tie depending on the occasion, although pairing with a bow tie is definitely the more formal, entirely gentlemanly option.

Tuxedo and silk tie

We also post daily images of some of our favourite outfit shots on Instagram, which can be used as a source of inspiration here: www.instagram.com/rampleyandco.

Click here to view our full range of Fine Men's Accessories.

January 03, 2018

Grey Suit Combinations

In our guide to grey suit combinations below, we will provide you with some general rules that will elevate and enhance your style. From bold to laid back, the grey suit is often the one to stand out in amongst the tide of black and navy options. In this post we'll cover:

  • Colour combinations
  • How to wear your suit for different occasions
  • Choosing the right accessories

We also post daily images of some of our favourite suit and jacket combination shots on Instagram, which can be used as a source of inspiration here: www.instagram.com/rampleyandco.

Colour Combinations

In our minds, there is nothing more dashing and sharp as a suit when worn well. To bring out the best in your grey suit, it's important to get the right suit colour. Firstly, the basic shirt colours every man must have in his wardrobe are white and sky blue. These are both safe options that will allow you to create an array of classic options.

Grey suit with blue shirt

In general, a grey suit will always look good with a crisp white shirt and a black tie. However, we feel that this look has become such a staple that it actually comes across as bland. This is particularly true in a corporate environment where you might be faced with a small army of clones wearing the same combination. The best way to liven it up? Add an injection of colour. For example pairing it with a pink or green shirt. This is a bold look, but when worn with confidence will separate you as a man with true style.

Grey suit with pink shirt

Your usual sartorial sense would tell you that wearing a sky blue shirt would work, but this does depend on the shade of grey. If you are wearing a light grey suit, a sky blue shirt will appear so washed out you will completely lose the effect of the contrast. However, if you are wearing a dark grey suit, a crisp sky blue shirt can make the grey really shine, and that is a simple way of adding a subtle pop of colour. If you do want to introduce a sky blue shirt with a pale grey suit, go for a blue and white striped or checked number. This is a simple, yet effective way of making a statement without being too overt, while you will also get the effect of the contrasting shades. 

Grey shirt with striped shirt

Tie Options

Let's now look at some tie options. A grey suit on it's own does offer quite a blank canvas when it comes to choosing a tie. So if you keep it neutral by going with a white shirt you can comfortably go bold with your tie. You could choose to go for more vibrant solid colours or choose a pattern that will become the focal point of your look.

Grey suit and patterned tie
Imagine Source: Lookastic.com

To add a touch of warmth, a burgundy tie is a great option. The burgundy tie is a classic tie that every gentleman should own. More commonly seen in combination with a navy suit, it pairs perfectly with a grey suit.

Grey suit burgundy tie
Image Source: Hespokestyle.com

As a further note, it's definitely worth investing in classic silk ties, 6cm to 8cm wide, in either solid colours or lightly patterned that will stay in style year after year. Cheap ties will tend to crease after a short period to of time if you don't really look after them.  

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For a grey suit, the shirt and tie combinations are just as versatile as a navy suit, and therefore adaptable for all seasons. However, as a general rule we would recommend sticking to the paler shades of grey during the warm months and the darker shades or charcoal in a woollen mix for the cooler months.

How To Wear A Grey Suit

A grey suit is most definitely a versatile colour, and can be dressed up or down with some thought given to your accessories. Below we've covered off some different occasions with a bit of guidance to always look your best.

A Wedding
A simple way to look well turned out at a wedding is by wearing a classic double cuffed shirt, and then pair it with an elegant set of cufflinks. Ideally you should look to match other accessories of your look, for example silver cufflinks with a silver watch and silver buckles on a nice pair of monk strap shoes. This is such an effortless way of adding something to draw the eye. Although this is so simple, it is an easy way of showing off your sartorial knowledge. If you're looking to keep it simple lean towards plain rather than patterned shirts and use your accessories to lift the outfit.

If it's a summer wedding and you're going for a pale grey suit, a solid combination would be a crisp white shirt and blue tie and then you can use the pocket square as your flare accessory and go for something bold such as purple. Alternatively, you could keep the pocket square safe and go for a plain white square with a flat fold, and then go for a green or patterned tie as your flare piece. Simple combinations like this will give you that attention grabbing and effortless look that is perfect for a wedding.

Grey suit with blue tie

In The Office
In the office it is very easy to slip into the common grey suit, white shirt and black tie combo. Below we set out a few things to keep in mind so you can stand out from the crowd, while keeping the hint of formality that many job roles require.

Firstly, there is the shade. Broadly speaking light greys are more casual, with the darker greys and charcoal more formal. Therefore if you are mainly planning to wear your suit in the office, go for a darker shade.

In terms of what you wear with it, a stylish choice is to choose a flat coloured shirt and then wear a tie that is at least one or two shades darker. For the office, if you go for a patterned tie, don't choose a pattern that is too overpowering.  

Grey suit with blue shirt and tie
Image Source: Stylisheve.com

Finally, a very simple, but often overlooked accessory for a modern man is an elegant dress watch. A white faced watch with a brown leather strap will always look good in the office during the day and is also an easy complement for brown leather shoes. 

A Casual Event
For a casual event or day out this is where you can definitely be more flamboyant with your look and introduce bolder patterns, more eye-catching accessories or loose your socks and go for a pair of loafers. The main thing to keep in mind is not to go too overboard with your accessories. Choose 1 or 2 more flamboyant options and then keep everything else relatively muted. This ensures that you look like a man of style.

Grey suit with loafers
Image Source: Guesswatches.com

Conclusion

In conclusion, the grey suit is a very versatile suit colour. In general, the lighter the suit colour the more casual it tends to be. However, the shirt colour and accessories can definitely dress up or down the suit. 

For more formal occasions keep your shirt options safe and then you can be much more flamboyant with your accessories. For more casual events or in summer, look to lose your socks and tie and go for a pair of loafers for a stylish relaxed look.

Click here to view our full range of Fine Men's Accessories.

January 02, 2018

Tie Masterclass: 2018 - Selecting the right collar & knot for your tie

Men’s dress shirt collars and ties are the lingua franca of the modern world. In the right hands, you can shape your shirt and tie to represent sophistication, duty, responsibility, or professionalism. But it takes time to understand the rules and develop your own personal style.

Below is a concise masterclass in collars & tie knots including:

  • The different collar styles and when to wear them
  • The 4 main tie knots and how to tie them
  • Tie knot and collar matching

We also post daily images of some of our favourite tie and jacket shots on Instagram, which you can use for inspiration here: www.instagram.com/rampleyandco.

Collar Styles

“Style is what makes you different to others. Fashion is what makes you the same.” - Glenn O’Brien.

Choosing a shirt collar that complements both your environment and your sartorial charisma is the first step you’ll take in mastering your personal style. Different shirt collars portray different men altogether, meaning you can turn yourself into a stylish rogue or a polished gentleman simply by changing dress shirts. Remember: the littlest details often make the largest impressions.

Once you learn the rules backwards and forwards, you’ll be able to utilize and bend them like only a truly stylish man can.

Forward Point Collar

Forward Point Collar

This is the original collar style. No frills, no nonsense, and no additional design quirks need apply. Its traditional looks ensure you’ll look stylish, though it’s safer than its more contemporary cousins, like the spread collar. When you wear this timeless style, you’re going to feel more Prince Charles than Iggy Pop. Its collar points are long enough to bachata in the breeze, so best not to go boating at high speeds in one of these.

Button-Down Collar

Button down collar

Thanks to its origins as a way for polo players to keep their collars from flapping as they raced about the playing field, the iconic button-down collar is a mainstay of prep style. You’ll see it on every corner in every urban center from Naples to Oxford, and for good reason: the button-down collar balances casual aesthetics and a classy prep soul.

Texture and heft pair well with button-down collars. Think sepia photo filters, tweed jackets, and workboots with a healthy patina.

Spread Collar

Spread collar

Where your lapels meet the fine fabric of your shirt, that’s where you’ll find the sculpted contour of the spread collar. This collar style resists wrinkling, meaning its practicality matches its modern style.

Spread collars serve that middle ground between the point collar’s traditional looks and the cutaway collar’s futurism. Whether you’re attending a first interview or making an appearance at a cocktail-casual fundraiser, the spread collar will separate you from the rest of the pack.

Our friends at RMRS have a short piece about how the spread collar can flatter certain face shapes.

Cutaway Collar

Cut away collar

Adjectives like “clean” and “contemporary” best define the energy of the cutaway collar. Its tidy silhouette runs along your collarbone, which creates a handsome visual contrast with the vertical lines of your lapels and your tie.

The cutaway’s original moniker, the Windsor collar, alludes to the knot that suits it best -- best to remember to wear ties that feature bold designs. The negative space from a lack of collar material means curious eyes will be instinctively drawn to that handsome piece of fabric you knot around your neck.

Winged Collar

Winged collar

Heavy on the starch and heavier on the charisma, the winged collar will signal your know-how at formal black-tie events. What was once a standout style at the beginning of the 20th century -- the golden age of formal wear -- is now reserved for formal situations where you’ll want to look sleek and sophisticated.

Its collar points fold outwards, flattering your face no matter its shape while exposing space for your bow-tie. Remember to tuck those wings behind the bow!

Club Collar

Club collar

The signature Eton look. Take your pointed collars and round them -- voila, you’ve got a club collar. The convex curvature of this collar’s ends picked up steam in the early 20th century, buoyed by how well it paired with collar bar. In fact, it’s a great option for wearing a collar bar, if you want to add some old-school polish to your aesthetic. What was once a marker of high-society status is now an aesthetically charming collar choice that’s sure to turn heads wherever you wear it.

Detachable Collar

Detachable Collar

Perhaps we should call these the gem of a bygone era. The detachable collar is a relic of the Victorian past, something worn by upper-class men who needed to enlist valets or butlers to help them dress. The collar itself was starchy and stiff, meant to stand up and stand out.

The rigidity of the detachable collar lends well to proper formal events. Don’t wear one of these to a yacht party...

Collar Bars

Collar bars

A final note. If you’re wondering what the best tie knot for wearing a collar bar is, that would be knots like the four-in-hand or half-Windsor. They are full enough so that the bar is not too exposed, but not so large as to obfuscate the bar altogether. Tom Ford and Tom Hiddleston represent the far ends of that spectrum, from thick to thin and represent the extreme of each size. Each man’s knot width allows the bar to stand out without being too distracting.

Tie Knots

Curating a selection of fine ties is easy. Styling them is not. “What is the most stylish tie knot?” the man wonders to himself, statuesque before a mirror, readying for an evening among perhaps friends, or family, or romantic interests. Worry not, old sport -- they’re all stylish, given you know how to tie them correctly.

Learning how to tie a tie is as simple as tying your shoelaces, and just as important. And you’ll especially begin to have fun with it when you learn which different tie knots elevate your look.

A note on texture: thick ties generally benefit from smaller knots. If you take 50 oz tie and have a full Windsor you will end up with a knot so large it will totally overpower your look. You don’t want to go wrapping something heftier round and round until it looks like you’ve got a wrinkled fabric apple resting under your collar.

Below is an example using one of our wool/cashmere blend ties with an 8cm blade which are a heavier, more luxurious fabric. You can see that knot used below is a Four-in-Hand which keeps the knot nicely in proportion to the collar and lapels. 

Best knot for thick tie

Simple Knot or Oriental Knot
Basics first, chaps. You’ve got to crawl before you can walk. The simple knot, also known as the Oriental Knot is (you guessed it) exceedingly simple to tie. It’s also the knot you’ll want to use if you’re rocking a skinny tie. The tie knot consists of only a single loop around the skinny end, so it’s got very little bulk to it. Simple knots work best with ties that are cut thick and made with fabrics like wool -- the more heft, the better.

Oriental Tie Knot

Simple tie knot infographicImage Source: Realmenrealstyle.com

Four-in-Hand 
The Four-in-Hand is like that unconstructed navy cotton blazer you can’t stop wearing out -- it’s reliable no matter the situation. As the most versatile tie knot, the Four-in-Hand works because it’s slender, not skinny, and exudes a charm of equal measures sophisticated and carefree.

What separates the Four-in-Hand from the simple knot is that the tying process includes an extra “loop” around the skinny end, so it’s a touch bulkier, as well as slightly more elongated. The Four-in-Hand is best for casual to semi-formal events and would be the choice of knots if you're wearing a most casual shirt such as an Oxford button down or a denim shirt.

Four in hand tie knot oxford shirt

Four in hand tie knot infographic

Image Source: Realmenrealstyle.com

Half Windsor
The half-Windsor knot is the little brother of the Windsor, an albatross of a tie knot streamlined for the modern minimalist. It’s a jack-of-all-trades, able to be dressed down or fancied up, and works with a variety of collar shapes and sizes. Use with light to medium-thick tie fabrics.

Simpler to tie than the full Windsor and being a slightly smaller knot the half Windsor is the perfect knot for everyday business wear. The half Windsor also has the classic symmetrical shape of the Windsor knot so always looks smart, particularly when you add the final touch of the dimple. 

Half Windsor tie knot

Half Windsor knot infographic

Image Source: Realmenrealstyle.com

Full Windsor
The Full Windsor knot was first invented as a way to emulate the Duke of Windsor's uncharacteristically large tie knots. It produces a wide, symmetrical triangle with a powerful charisma tailor-made for formal events. 

This is the most formal of the standard tie knots and the key is to ensure you get your proportions correct. A full Windsor works best with a spread or cutaway collar so that you get the full effect of the knot, while your jacket lapels also need to reflect this. Definitely no skinny ties or skinny lapels with this knot. 

Full Windsor tie knot

Full windsor tie knot infographic

Image Source: Realmenrealstyle.com

Bow-tie
We would be remiss not to briefly mention the bow-tie. The descendant of the knotted cravat, and a staple of the active man who can’t have his tie flapping in the wind as he dashes from meeting to meeting.

If you really want to transmit that quirky, academic vibe, pair the bow-tie with tastefully pressed trousers and a crisp jacket. The best thing about bow ties are they are incredibly versatile and work with very casual shirts through to formal wing tips.  Traditionally, black bow-ties are saved for dinner jackets and tuxedos, but if you’re in a casual setting, go wild with the patterns.

Bow tie with denim shirt

Tie Bars
Think of the tie bar like a finishing flourish for the fancy gentleman. It’s a suave and polished touch that adds visual interest to your simpler palettes. Plus, its functional use will keep your put-together charm a constant, as the bar will keep both ends of your tie fastened to your shirt.

Here are the rules. Not too high, and not too low. Use the bar to fasten both ends of your tie to the placket of your shirt. Generally, men slot their tie bars between the third and fourth buttons of the shirt.

Your tie bar should be somewhere around 3/4's of the width of your tie. Any shorter and it just looks like an odd clip, however, if your tie bar is the full width of your tie it effectively cuts your tie in half and ruining that finely polished or casual-cool look you've put together.

The only other point is to ensure that the tie bar is more or less horizontal. Any acute angles will definitely remove some of your satorial lustre. 

Tie bar correct position

Tie Dimples
The tie dimple functions much like cheek dimples do -- it’s a small wrinkle with a large dose of charm. To create a tie dimple, all you have to do is pinch the tie as you are sliding it through its final pass under your knot of choice.

A simple way to create the dimple (and a little bit of a cheat...) is to put your index finger in the middle of the tie under the knot with your thumb and forefinger either side as you pull the tie through to tighten the knot. With a little adjustment, you will have a nice tight knot with an aforementioned charming dimple that should stay in place all day. 

Tie dimple

Putting It All Together

So now you’ve got your shirts and your ties. You’ve built a hell of a wardrobe, and it’s time to show it off. First thing’s first. Aesthetic harmony (or tasteful disharmony) between your tie, collar, and suit should be at the front of your mind.

A general rule of thumb: the larger the knot, the more space you’ll want between the wings of your collar. The size of the knot should be sized up against the thickness, angles, and proportion of your shirt collar.

Spread collars, for example, do well paired with thick knots, because there’s more space beneath the collar to show off your knot with. The elongated forward point collar is complemented by the elongated, thin knot. It’s not a fat, full Windsor. It’s a slim four-in-hand. In fact, the four-in-hand, and its brother, the half-Windsor, are the jack-of-all trades knots you’ll want to master. They’re both simple to tie and hit that sweet spot between thick and thin, so you can match them to a variety of collars -- from club collars to the forward point.

So that’s it. The thicker or wider the knot, the more space you’ll want between your collar points. From there, experiment with proportion and collar length. And be playful!

Written By: Brett Bergstrom

 

Our Tie Collections

November 15, 2017

The Tie and Pocket Square Set - Why they are a crime against good dressing

It may seem the obvious way to coordinate your accessories, directly matching your tie and pocket square, indeed, many mainstream retailers will even offer the dreaded matching pocket square and tie as a set!

However, it is no exaggeration to say that pocket square and tie sets are right near the top of the list of fashion faux pas for the well-dressed man.

In the blog post we will cover:

  • Why you should never buy a matching tie and pocket square set
  • How to choose a tie and pocket square combination 
  • Some examples of how to match colours of your tie and pocket square
  • Some examples of complementary tie and pocket square colours


Tie and Pocket Square Set - The Basic Rules

These are relatively simple. What you are looking to do is to take a colour from your tie and reflect that as a secondary colour in your pocket square, or vice versa. So the colours in the pocket square should accentuate the colours in the tie, but do not directly match it. 

Matching tie and pocket square


The other option is to employ complementary colours, for example, a burgundy red tie will always go well with pocket squares that have a dominant element of dark green.

Below we've highlighted some options that will always have you looking on top of your sartorial game. 


Burgundy tie reflected in a dark red pocket square 

A burgundy tie is a staple of many men's wardrobe and is a classic tie colour. As you can see from the three images below, a deep red accent in the pocket square is the perfect complement to this tie. The jackets below are all heavily textured and patterned but this combination of colours works just as well with a more traditional plain navy or grey jacket.

Burgundy and tie set

For reference these products can be viewed on the following links:

Tie: Burgundy Cashmere Tie

Pocket Square First Image: The Annunciation, With Saint Emidius

Pocket Square Middle Image: Samson and Delilah

Pocket Square Final Image: The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum


Green Tie with a green accented pocket square

Although not as prominent (and some would say not as powerful) as a burgundy tie, a green tie is a popular option being a classic primary colour.

Whether they are plain or patterned, you can never go wrong by having a pop of green in your pocket square to complement your green tie. In the examples below the first image has a small reflection of greens and browns that work nicely with the patterned tie. The middle image has a more prominent use of greens in the pocket square, while the final image uses just a small pop with a lighter shade. The second and third image also shows off how a similar tie can be paired with either a plain jacket and more discreet fold for a more formal look, or equally well with a bold jacket pattern, flamboyant pocket square and fold for a less formal look, but more striking look.

Green tie and pocket square

Products similar to the above can be found on the following links:

Patterned Tie: Green and Blue Leaf Silk Tie

Plain Green Tie: Green Wool Tie

Pocket Square First Image: The Annunciation, With Saint Emidius

Pocket Square Second Image: Blue and Green Ottoman Tile Pocket Square

Pocket Square Third Image: Kinglet Calyptura


Patterned navy tie with blue accented pocket square 

Much like the burgundy tie, the patterned navy tie is definitely a staple of most men's wardrobes. The reason it's such an elegant choice is it always works beautifully with your classic business jacket colours of navy and grey.

When pairing your pocket square with a patterned navy tie you have the choice of complementing the navy or reflecting the secondary colour of the pattern. In the first image below the white polka dots are reflected in the white base of the pocket square, while the deep burnt yellow also provides a beautiful contrast with navy.

The second image is similar with the light coloured diamond repeat mirrored in the pocket square, wherein the final image the different shades of blue all complement each other with the more casual shirt and jacket providing a more relaxed look. 

Navy tie and pocket square set

Similar products to the images above.

Wool Tie: Navy and Red Check Wool Tie

Silk Tie: Navy and Red Floral Repeat Tie 

Pocket Square First Image: The City of New York

Pocket Square Second Image: Hummingbird

Pocket Square Third Image: Venice: The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day

Conclusion

So it really is quite straightforward. You have huge flexibility with your tie and pocket square combinations and as long as you avoid pocket square and tie sets and only match elements of the colours you will always have the look of a man displaying satorial elegance.

 

Our Pocket Square Collections

August 01, 2017

How To Dress Like A Gentleman - Andreas Klow

In the third of our How to Dress Like a Gentleman Series, we speak to Andreas Klow on his unique dapper style, getting his insights into how he puts his outfits together. You can find Andreas on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/flannels_and_tweed

How would you describe your own personal style?
Modern grandpa. In the winter flannels and tweed, sleeveless cardigans etc... 

Cardigan and tie
Blue stripped tie and shirt
Leather bag
Are there any brands you particularly think fit with your style?

There are very few brands that does everything from the shoes and up well. One does and it fits my style really well. Coloured socks. Fabrics with structure.

When you choose your outfit for the day, what is the item that you choose first?
In general, I usually start with accessories. Sometimes I wear neither tie nor pocket square. Those days its usually the jacket.

Do you have any particular favourite patterns or colours?
I love orange/purple/green. That's my favourite combo and I wear a combo of the three a lot. Especially in the F/W. For patterns, I have to say houndstooth. 

Green patterned suit jacket
Purple suit jacket
Green shirt with pocket square

How do you then choose the accessories you wear?

For ties, its colour and the texture first. For pocket squares, it's important to have a variety of pattern and colour in order to make it versatile.

textured green tie
For your tie, do you like a particular width or length?

9 cm and 147-150 cm is usually my choice but it also depends on how the tie is cut. A bottle-shaped tie in 8 cm works equally well for me and my large head.

With your socks, do you go for classic patterns and colours that blend with your shoes and trousers, or do you prefer more vibrant colours?
I usually use no pattern socks. Sometimes a houndstooth. I would say it's 50/50 between days in a stronger colour/tone in tone with shoes and trousers.

How much thought do you put into your shoe style, and colour? 
I have thought a lot while building my shoe wardrobe since it's a costly investment. Now it's a good selection and it's fairly easy to choose what to wear. I usually pick the shoes last.

Brown derby shoes
Suede Monkstraps
Brown loafers with grey trousers

Do you wear one watch or different watches? If so, what style of watch do you wear most often?
I have one. A Longines Conquest. Steel on a cordovan strap. Fits my style and profession very well.

Longines Conquest
July 03, 2017

Pitti Uomo 92 Review - From Groundhogs to Peacocks

Pitti Uomo 92 Review

Pitti Uomo 2017 Review - From Peacocks to Groundhogs in the sweltering summer heat of Florence

We sent men’s style blogger Lee Osborne, AKA Sartorialee, to Pitti Uomo in Florence to capture the élan and flair of the show’s attendees, styling some of the most stylish gents on the planet in Rampley & Co pocket squares.

With its terracotta rooftops, concealed courtyards and streets reverberating with artistic energy, Florence, birthplace of The Renaissance, is the perfect backdrop for Pitti Uomo to play out on. With its ornamented streets bathed in shafts of golden light and shade in equal measure during the day, and dimly lit streets in the evening, it lends an ethereal quality to whatever the camera brings into view. With arguably the most stylish inhabitants of any city, it is seriously close to perfection.

Florence, Italy


Pitti Uomo is credited with liberating men's style globally and is one of the world’s leading platforms for men’s clothing and accessories. Now in its 45th year, having launched in 1972, it masquerades as a trade show, but in all honesty is where the most dapper men on planet earth descend biannually to parade in front of the awaiting street style paparazzi.

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Unlike other men’s fashion shows, it’s not all about the catwalks. The appeal of the photography the show generates is that it’s shot on the street, in natural light and is very easy to emulate. Guys tap into their Instagram feeds and immediately feel inspired to pull off similar looks.

Pitti 2017


There’s no doubt that men nowadays are more comfortable about being dandy. Most guys I speak to are of the same opinion as me - it’s as though dandyism skipped a generation. I always remember my grandfather being a very smart gentleman even in a casual scenario, and that definitely rubbed off on me.  

But what is the archetypal Pitti man? Generally speaking he can be divided in to two distinct groups. The former, ‘the peacock’, usually wears a tight-fitting jacket or suit, in a pristine, straight out of the packet kind of way, in a standout colour or design. There’s nearly always a waistcoat beneath, his wrists awash with bracelets, fingers festooned with rings . He will spend hours on end glued to the Pitti wall, preening his feathers, desperately courting the lens.

Pitti Uomo 2017


The latter are the ‘groundhogs’ - effortlessly cool guys that go under the radar, the ones that don’t try too hard yet still accomplish the sartorial zenith. Their outfits seem careless and artfully put together at the same time. The term sprezzatura (coined by Italian Renaissance author Baldassare Castiglione in the 17th century, to describe the appearance of his courtiers) was invented for them. Their aim is to maintain interest without being attention-seeking.

Pitti Uomo 92


Armed with a bag full of Rampley & Co pocket squares for the duration of the show, my task was to hand pick some of the above-mentioned men (and women) and style pocket squares to compliment their outfits.

Pitti 92 will go down as one of the hottest yet. Even the locals struggled to keep composure in 36 degrees heat - Neapolitan playboy Luca Rubinacci was even rumoured to have left after only one day citing the over-zealous heat.

Whilst this did not deter some of the peacocks from fanning their feathers, the wiser, more learned ones retired to whichever shaded area of the Fortezza da Basso they could find. ‘The groundhogs’ kept cool by jettisoning their jackets for bespoke polo shirts, linen trousers and espadrilles.

Blazing sun aside, summer editions of Pitti are always a riot of colour. Primary colours were dominant this year - from red, worn in all its raw vividness by the Peacocks, or in more subdued hues like @cingizis.

Pitti @cingizis


To show-stopping cyan, as exemplified by @officina38_byhugoc and several eye-popping head-to-toe yellows.

Pitti Uomo 2017 @officina38_byhugoc


Linen and seersucker (such as @gui_bo’s grey and white masterpiece) reigned supreme in the oven of the Fortezza.

Pitti GuillaumeBo@gui_bo


Several white or cream coloured blazers were in evidence - a look not always as easy to pull off as one might expect. It helps to have olive-coloured skin, failing that it’s a case of accessorising to perfection with contrasting colours. None were more beautifully orchestrated than Giorgio Gianlulio’s DB version that he teamed with damson chinos on day 2.


Pitti Florence


The show’s theme this time around was ‘Boom, Pitti Blooms’: some had clearly got the memo and dressed to botanically flourish. Evidenced in various forms from all out Liberty-style print shirting, pocket squares, ties or even floral-inspired button holes. On the whole, trousers were mankle-inducingly cropped, with no break in the fabric, cut wide enough at the top to allow even the merest (in this case) amount of air to pass through.

Accessories showcase that it is, Pitti wouldn’t be Pitti without the presence of mirrored sunglasses - although there was a predominance of the more rounded frame over traditional wayfarer’s and aviator’s. Same applies to the panama, but with a marked rise in the beribboned Gondalier-inspired straw boater.


Pitti, Italy

 

The array of Rampley & Co pocket squares drew much praise from the biggest players in the sartorial world. From French Canadian Guillaume Bo of Men Need More Style who I paired Black-throated Blue Warbler with his double-breasted seersucker suit.


Pitti, Florence, Italy

American tailor Angel Ramos of Angel Bespoke with Battle of Trafalgar 

Angel Ramos


Middle-Eastern tailor Samir from Bureza with The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day 1740

Pitti 92 Florence


To model and influencer Kish Style from Toronto with Saint George and the Dragon, all waxed lyrical about the design and quality.

Kish Style - Pitti 

Representing the ladies of Pitti, I styled Erica Ström in The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius 1486 


Erica Strom

Brit Sonya Glenn in 
Merian’s Drawings of Surinam Insects & Birds


Sonia Glyn

Finally Polish blogger and tailor Monika Kaminska in The Death of Major Peirson

Monika Kaminska 
Below are a few more of my favourite images from Pitti Uomo in Rampley & Co pocket squares. 

PIT_7418_FadiKoteiche@fadiblanc59

PIT_7717_@dapperpassion

PIT_8113_@picolo_diop

PIT_7627_ZackRoman@zackroman_official

PIT_7883_LewisM_@lewax

PIT_7461_KwariJacobs@kwari_jacobs


To see all of the pocket squares featured in this article visit our store here: Pocket Square Collection 

Lee Osborne is the founder of men’s style blog ‘Sartorialee: dressing the globe-trotting man’ and is a former creative director of Condé Nast. https://sartorialee.wordpress.com Instagram: @sartorialee

 

Our Pocket Square Collections