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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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" 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.
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 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 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Image Source:The Travelling Artisan
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Image Source: The Travelling Artisan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Image Source: Lookastic.com
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.
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.
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.
Image Source: Thebestfashionblog.com
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.
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.
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.
Image Source: Artofstyle.com
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Image Source: Guesswatches.com
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.
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:
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Image Source: Realmenrealstyle.com
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.
Image Source: Realmenrealstyle.com
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.
Image Source: Realmenrealstyle.com
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.
Image Source: Realmenrealstyle.com
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
For reference these products can be viewed on the following links:
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
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.
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: The Battle of Trafalgar
Pocket Square Third Image: Kinglet Calyptura
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.
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
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To show-stopping cyan, as exemplified by @officina38_byhugoc and several eye-popping head-to-toe yellows.
Linen and seersucker (such as @gui_bo’s grey and white masterpiece) reigned supreme in the oven of the Fortezza.
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.
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.
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.
American tailor Angel Ramos of Angel Bespoke with Battle of Trafalgar
Middle-Eastern tailor Samir from Bureza with The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day 1740
To model and influencer Kish Style from Toronto with Saint George and the Dragon, all waxed lyrical about the design and quality.
Representing the ladies of Pitti, I styled Erica Ström in The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius 1486
Brit Sonya Glenn in Merian’s Drawings of Surinam Insects & Birds
Finally Polish blogger and tailor Monika Kaminska in The Death of Major Peirson
Below are a few more of my favourite images from Pitti Uomo in Rampley & Co pocket squares.
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. Instagram: @sartorialee
We are very pleased to announce the launch of our new sock collections, The Burleigh Collection in Merino wool, The Langham Collection of cotton dress socks, and The Darsham Collection a cotton sock with Herringbone pattern. You can view the full range on the following link: Rampley & Co Sock Collections
These easily overlooked items are a wardrobe essential worn by every president, king, actor and singer, put on one at a time no matter what their wearer may go on to achieve that day. It would therefore be unjust if our range of accessories failed to include such understated servants, made to the same high standard we value so strongly in our products.
Our socks are hand finished in a Leicestershire Mill in what was once the beating heart of the British cotton industry. The mill has been family owned since 1937, having been a paper factory built in 1924. In the 1960s when business was booming, the factory needed to be upgraded for increased demands of production and was moved to a larger complex on the very same street in Leicester.
Professional hosiers divide the construction between the knitting of the fabric, the closure of the toes as well as the finishes and treatments necessary to craft these world class pieces. The skill of these experts takes years to perfect. The staff members are treated with the same regard for quality as the wool that is bought in Italy each year at the forefront of world wool trade and innovations.
As with most items of menswear, the breathing and comfort of natural fibres is difficult to beat. The cotton we provide has been grown in the Nile Delta and treated for maximum softness, comfort and longevity. However, pure wool or cotton socks will deteriorate very quickly when confronted by the rigours of daily life as a largely functional covering of the feet. Therefore we have included a percentage of nylon which stretches their durability and lifetime considerably. This also means they will not shrink with correct laundry practise, and have more spring and so are less likely to sag around ankles.
The Merino wool of our socks is also perfect for all seasons and the varied temperatures faced in modern daily life. Merino wool is derived from sheep that originated in Spain, but are now found mainly in Australasia, who therefore must adapt to hot sun and cold nights within a single fleece.
In tailoring, thin socks tend to be favoured as they are generally more comfortable and lighter to wear rather than confining the foot in a fitted shoe with thicker insulating varieties. Our socks are manufactured on a cylinder knitting machine holding 200 very thin knitting needles. This means that there will be 200 finely crafted stitches around the leg of every sock to produce a very lightweight and strong everyday dress sock.
Outside formalities of black tie and morning dress there are no rules beyond the aesthetic. This can be the key to turning a conformist suit into the skin of a dashing rebel. Consider fiery reds, oranges and pinks to contrast a grey outfit. Ultimately with trousers of the right length socks should not be seen except for in glances when walking or when crossing your legs, which is a position of panache even without daring socks. Therefore sock choice is one of the few areas in men's fashion where the rules are very relaxed.
For more formal situations a more conservative look is to match your socks to your trousers. However, we feel that unless absolutely necessary, consider a pair of socks as your accent colour and look to match the colour with a colour in your tie or pocket square.To view our full range, click on the following link: Rampley & Co Sock Collections
When it comes to suit fabrics the vast majority of tailoring aficionados would sooner invest in cut and style in tailored suits than micro-weaves and ‘smart’ materials in designer suits. As many people find the very basics of regular men’s suit fabrics confusing, we felt it worth creating a guide that explains some of the fundamentals around suit fabrics.
In this post we'll cover:
We also post daily images of some of our favourite suit and jacket shots on Instagram, which you can use for inspiration here: www.instagram.com/rampleyandco.
Just as a gentleman has a suit or outfit for every occasion, so is there a fabric for every requirement. Fabric, in tailoring terms, varies based on the fineness of the thread and hence the weight per yard of fabric. Yarn numbers, originating from the industrial quantities of thread spun from a pound of wool, hover around 80 for standard wool up to over 100 for luxuriously smooth wool. It's, therefore, a number closer to 100 that that fine tailors treasure. That actual number can be left to the expertise of the tailor to decide, and an off-the-peg suit may not even mention the yarn number so the easiest starting point is with the fibre itself for understanding men’s suit fabrics.
The most important categories to bear in mind are synthetic and natural fibres. These fibres can form fabric into a variety of different weaves that provide the patterns of men’s suiting. It is how these fibres are treated and woven that produces different suit fabrics, while the array of patterns available is also the product of different weaves.
Herringbone is so called since it resembles a fish skeleton. This can make a plain coloured fabric nicely textured.
Windowpane check is an elegant pattern that breaks up the cloth into a grid. This creates a smooth wrapping effect showing the curvature around the back and boasts the tailor’s skill in matching multiple lines in different panels.
Prince-of-Wales or Glen check is a classic formal pattern of greys favoured by Edward VIII before his accession and subsequent abdication from the throne. It is a regal favourite for its gentle texture that is distinguished but not too overwhelming.
Pinstripe and chalkstripes speak for themselves as edgy icons with an air of Wall Street stockbrokers or gangsters. Feint narrow stripes are the high street staple whilst wider inch-separated chalk stripes resemble more tailored suits, due to the skill in matching the ends of the lines when joining pieces of fabric as can be seen below. This example emphasises the power of stripes when cut in a classic shape with peak lapels and double-breasted fastening for a sharp, angular effect.
These patterns make little difference to the physical characteristics of the fabric. These are decided by the fibres spun to create the threads the fabric is woven from.
When it comes to the jacket, even more visual than the pattern is the cut. We've created a free eBook on the essentials to dressing well, which can be downloaded here: Dressing Like A Gentleman.
Let's start with the most basic fabric and work our way up. The most popular man-made synthetic fabric is polyester which for all its sceptics holds a wealth of benefits as a lightweight, durable fabric that will not be consumed by moths.
On the other hand, the downsides include a shininess that together with the light fabric feels somewhat artificial. It is perfectly serviceable, but does not breath particularly well and therefore can become hot.
While the clear favourite among budget suit lines, most high-street men’s fashion suits are also made from a combination of synthetics. In the latter case branding and restricting tight trousers make the bulk of the price tag. Suits made from Polyester are an option for infrequent wear, but for wear within hot offices and during sunny afternoons more natural fibres provide a much more comfortable fabric.
The universal natural fibre is wool that, although associated with heavy tweeds actually breathes well, is water resistant to an extent and will not burn when brushed by a stray cigarette. Forgive a degree of eulogising, but this incredible fibre has been the fabric of choice for millennia. Wool can also be successfully combined with polyester to host the benefits of both fabrics as a moth-proof, breathable and economical fabric available in a variety of weights.
Recent men’s fashion has catapulted the wool-based tweed upon a glorious silver pedestal to the very height of taste. Once synonymous with the elderly and country parishes, the legislation-protected cloth now adorns young and old, hipster and traditionalist and never had need to be sidelined in the first place.
The cottage industries of weavers of UK suiting fabric on the Scottish island of Harris have been saved as Regent Street is awash from Liberty’s to Cordings with the distinctive orb badge upon handbags, wallets and jackets. Perhaps its challenge is the sheer volume of choice. We much admire some of the more luxurious weaves of colourful checks seen in the windows of Savile Row, plain browns carrying a feint sliver of purple or blue. These are very much modern suits, made to a weight suitable for sauntering around town in all seasons as well as the heat of the Central line.
The annual London Tweed Run takes place in May every year where over a thousand cyclists tour the city centre fully clad in the cloth.
Image Source: Hobidas.com
The waistcoat has enjoyed its revival at the same time as tweed, and with this fabric layering is the best option both for elegance and practicalities of temperature. Seek as classic a cut as possible. Tailored is certainly recommended since with good care this is a suit that can last many years.
It was this durability that inspired the tradition of replacing the most worn areas of elbows and cuffs with leather patches, but in the modern age I shall leave such matters of preservation to the wearer. For a more casual look, cotton corduroy trousers covered later can be substituted in the colour of your choice.
Seek as classic a cut as possible. Tailored is certainly recommended since with good care this is a suit that can last many years. It was this durability that inspired the tradition of replacing the most worn areas of elbows and cuffs with leather patches, but in the modern age I shall leave such matters of preservation to the wearer. For a more casual look, cotton corduroy trousers covered later can be substituted in the colour of your choice.
While the woollen cloth of most blazers makes a lighter summer alternative, a full suit remains perhaps too warm. While the blazer deserves an article in it's own right, the subject of fabrics to wear with one can be touched upon. Preferable is white, tan or grey flannel trousers, also wool, in the case of the classic navy blue jacket with gold buttons.
However, these can be difficult to get hold of while linen and cotton trousers are easy. In cooler temperatures contrasting corduroy works beautifully. The most important advice is not to attempt to match the blazer to the trousers, since it is not meant to be like a suit.
Cotton and Linen
As for travels abroad and the height of summer, many gentlemen fear the suit wholly inappropriate. For holiday makers this is quite understandable, but there remain in the mind images of Daniel Craig stepping off a jet in the Bahamas or for the more traditionally-minded, beige Bright Young Things in Venice in Brideshead Revisited. Cotton and linen here form the saviour of men’s tailoring.
Both of these fibres grown from the earth hang beautifully in stony colours. Linen in particular offers options of blends of cotton or even silk introduced to the fabric. We need not elaborate upon the mere thought of such luxury. However, we would hasten to add that the summer is and should be a time of activity.
In times of picnics, beer gardens and country walks a man’s clothing is at its most vulnerable. A good breathable fabric in a good cut need not cost the earth and will lose nothing from regular trips to the dry cleaners.
Corduroy is a form of cotton woven in such a way as to produce ‘tunnels’ that are then cut so the fibres spring outwards. This is an everyday staple, ideal in winter, though more common as separate trousers given the heavy weight.
Image Source: Thesatorialist.com
Velvet is a similar cotton with a ‘pile’ of upward-facing fibres that will wear quicker if brushed against this grain. For this reason, velvet suits are rare given their vulnerability and should be made with the trousers’ pile upward so when the wearer is sitting the sliding direction goes with the grain. Dinner suits and smoking jackets are beautiful uses of this fabric.
As a final note, matching these fabrics can seem a daunting prospect. Although the joy of the suit is that the top and bottom are pre-ordained for you, much of men’s fashion focuses on accessories such as scarves, pocket squares and ties. Each has their own benefits a formula cannot encapsulate.
For instance, a silk scarf goes with anything. However, a general rule to keep in mind is that to match fabrics you should match the weight. Heavy wools go with heavy wools like tweed but would look out of place with linen.