One of our favourite things about pocket squares is the way they suggest palettes of shade and design which are superb jumping-off points for socks, ties, bow ties, even belts. Today we are looking at how you can effectively pair your bow tie and pocket square to always look at your dapper best.
Firstly, bow tie and pocket square sets are something that you most certainly want to avoid. As with matching your pocket square directly with your tie, this is a definite no no. Another way to look at it is, men have so few opportunities to express themselves through clothing, why curtail any one of these?
You should start your thought process by looking at the colours of your suit jacket and shirt and then use these to match your first accessory, either the bow tie or pocket square; the second accessory should then be considered alongside the first in the same way.
The easiest starting point is to match the primary colour of one accessory with that of your shirt or jacket. In the example below, the bow tie is taking it's cue from the both the shirt and jacket. The pocket square is then matched to the bow tie through the blue edging on square. This a simple look to put together by taking the blue through all the different articles, however the white pattern adds a bit of interest and texture.
The next step on from this is taking classic neutral shades and adding another colour accent to give your look a bit of a flare. In the below the bow tie is quite understated with the blue and greys of the rest of the outfit but the pocket square provides a hint of flamboyance that is also reflected in the red laces.
If you start with classic colours for your shirt and jacket then that opens up a world of options to show some flare with your accessories. The complementary colour chart below sets out how colours complement each other such as a blue bow tie and orange pocket square would provide a balanced colour combination.
The image below is a good example of taking primary and secondary colours from the different articles of clothing and then matching a complementary accessory. The bold yellow vest is the focal point of the outfit which then matches the secondary colour in the houndstooth patterned bow tie. The pocket square is a purple / crimson colour which complements the yellow primary colour.
If wearing two patterns together, the only tenet set in stone is not to have both patterns be the same size even if the design is replicated, polka dots or stripes being the most obvious but perhaps not the ones we would champion the most fervently. Other than that, the nature of the bow tie means you can really experiment with it and have fun.
Another thing you should consider is the fabric of your bow tie and the fabric of your pocket square; they should be comfortable companions. Cotton and linen make good bedfellows, for instance.
As a general rule, we tend not to wear a solid coloured pocket square with a solid coloured bow tie in the daytime – it’s an unimaginative look, especially when patterns provide so many invigorating possibilities, and the bow tie by it's nature is quite a fun accessory. Keep the solid coloured pocket square and bow tie combinations for more formal evening events. We would also say that a plain white shirt with an accompanying white pocket square and a patterned bow tie can be a very refined look when you want to elevate a casual look or work outfit.
Click here to view our full range of Fine Pocket Squares.
You would think that in the sea of consumer goods, perfect gift ideas for men would abound, but we have found ourselves stuck more than once. Whether it is a gift for a best man, your father, or leaving presents for colleagues, we have set out our dream virtual stall for you – at least partially.
Nothing will make you feel more like a gentleman than possessing a cigar cutter for the first time – the gateway to regular scotch-and-cigar interludes in your busy days. We are partial to the Le Mans Lamborghini carbon cigar cutter, which fittingly makes us think of a classic car from the 70’s.
Available from Humidor Station for €95
For the cultured man, a carefully considered first edition is an exceptional offering – other than a piece of original art, it is probably one of the most unique gifts for men one can bestow. The Society Club has a wonderful selection across a range of different topics.
Available from the Society Club starting at £25
A gilt-edged Smythson Panama notebook in navy blue is the perfect place to jot down ideas, favourites, lists, inspirations, and more. At £45 it is a relatively inexpensive gift that will be turned to repeatedly.
Available from Smythson for £45
Along these lines, a Chinese scholar’s rock or seal is a thoughtful, unique gift for him. These stones were valued throughout Chinese history for their ability to inspire deep contemplation and reflection, and can be reminiscent of Henry Moore sculptures. The most precious are worth thousands of pounds, but you can find some pleasing alternatives that are much more reasonably priced sold through second hand sites. A gift for a respected mentor or colleague, possibly?
Available on eBay starting from £50
We have to admit to a slight nepotism here, but we do feel that no list of gentleman gifts for men would be rounded out without some of our silk pocket squares.
Click here to view our pocket square collections
We can’t contemplate books and cocktails without bringing Ernest Hemingway into our minds – certainly a man of style for all times. This collector’s set from Criterion of two illustrious directors’ cinematic takes on the same Hemingway short story has performances from Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner to boot!
Available from Criterion for USD $32
Engraved hip flasks are pretty failsafe and pretty dashing. Whether the recipient is a City man or a biker, extracting an elegant silver phial filled with ambrosial liquid when it is needed is a timeless and ageless gesture. If you have a couple of hours to kill, an antique flask from Grey’s Antique Market or Portobello Market is a touch with character, but if time is pressing, we recommend Purdey’s pewter or leather flasks.
Available from Purdey's from £100
An inexpensive but no less stylish gift for dapper gentlemen, a classic wood-handled umbrella will always come in handy. We particularly like this one from Fulton.
Available at Selfridges for £20
For an unusual thank you gift for hosts with a sense of humour, a personalised “Complaints” guest book will draw witty remarks and be the perfect conversation piece during country weekends. These guest books have a classic and masculine design.
Available from Aspinal Of London for £115
A classic watch is the hallmark of any gentleman, and a white faced watch with a black strap is a must for any formal and semi-formal occasions. This beautiful watch from Frederique Constant will stand the test of time and never go out of style.
Available from Harrods for £1,510
And for a near-ultimate gift (at least in our book) turn to a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle – certainly a gift for a truly English gentleman. Weekend sojourns down velvety green country lanes await the recipient. Of course, the perfect set of leathers should then be considered.
Available from Triumph for £9,990
For a unique gift for the gentleman, click here to view our full range of Fine Men's Accessories.
Is there anything that displays a man with a true style more than a dress hat? It has however, been a long time since hats were an essential part of every man’s wardrobe. For those that are willing to showcase their true gentlemanly style, we've set out some general hat etiquette rules for the modern man.
Firstly, we'll cover the 3 main dress hats that we feel go best with a suit.
The Top Hat
A top hat is the most formal hat and is generally worn with tails. Top hats tend to be reserved for more formal black or white tie events.
A Fedora is a broad term that is often over used to describe a certain style of hat. But for the purists, a Fedora is a felt hat that has pinched sides which create a wedge at the front of the hat and a crease down the middle of the crown. This is a stylish look and will definitely give you the look of a man with purpose and pose.
Image Source: Menfashionhub.com
Closely related to the Fedora, the Homburg is considered it's dresser version. The main difference being that that sides of the crown at not pinched at the front.
Other hats that are also worn with a suit are the Trilby and the Bowler hat, however we feel that the Fedora in particular is a smart option for the modern gentleman.
In principle, the etiquette of wearing any hat indoors should be straightforward. Emily Post says gentlemen do not wear hats indoors at any occasion, and we are inclined to agree, therefore you should always remove your hat when you enter a building. However, the exception to this is any indoor areas that are considered public places, such as airports, lobbies, shopping malls, public transport and so on.
When dining, you clearly would have removed your hat when you entered the restaurant, however if you are partaking in alfresco dining your hat should also be removed. Once seated, never place your hat on the table. It is acceptable to place it on another chair or your lap, but the preference is to have it stored in the cloakroom if available.
Wear your hat with pride to a wedding and mingle freely, but once you enter the church, be sure to take it off. Hats should be worn to formal church weddings, but today there can be all sorts of gray areas as to whether a wedding is formal or not, so if you are unsure in any way and do not feel entirely comfortable with the idea of possibly being in a minority of one, check into whether hats are required.
Should you be attending a national or sporting event, your hat should be removed during the playing of the national anthem of any country. Also in many countries, when a parade passes carrying the national flag your hat should be removed. If in doubt, better to be safe than sorry.
Firstly, you should always remove your hat when being introduced to someone. As you remove your hat and are holding it, always ensure that only the outside of the hat is visible to others and that the inside lining stays hidden.
A gentleman should also remove his hat when a lady enters a lift, even though a lift is considered a public space. We feel this is a lovely touch and will be generally be noticed and acknowledged. As with all other matters of style we advise donning a nonchalant, natural air.
Traditionally, if you remove your hat, the further you hold it from your head the greater respect you are showing the person you are greeting. So a tip of the hat can be seen as a friendly greeting, while holding your hat at your waist is a gesture to someone in authority or perhaps someone you wish to impress.
Following the rules above, you will always display the small touches of class of that of a true gentleman.
Click here to view our full range of Fine Men's Accessories.
Bow ties have enjoyed a real mainstream renaissance in the last few years. What was once the domain of the quirky, is now a men’s accessory staple. Bow ties can be wonderfully charismatic, but it can take a while to work out how a bow tie can cohere with your wardrobe and persona.
In the post below, we’ve set out some general rules for wearing a bow tie and the different looks you can employ to ensure that you always look at your dapper best.
Wearing a bow tie with a tux is probably a good way to gently ease into how to wear a bow tie, so we’ll start with that. We do lean strongly towards wearing this ensemble for formal occasions, regardless of the contemporary fashion for wearing ties in these situations – a bow tie will set these outfits and evenings firmly apart.
First rule of thumb: never go for pre-tied bow ties or, even worse, a clip on. They lack that essential individuality and imperfection that is part of the charm of the bow tie. If you're looking to make an impression, a clip on is a dead giveaway of someone not appreciating the finer points of the bow tie. Tying one is no harder than tying a tie, and you wouldn’t dream of a clip-on tie...
Image Source: Express.co.uk
The other obvious point is if using anything other than a self-tied bow tie, you miss out on the opportunity to have the very satisfying and aesthetically appealing option of untying your bow tie and wearing it loose around your open collar at the end of a memorable evening.
We have a particular weakness for a bow tie worn with a winged collar to black-tie or white-tie events. When doing so, a tuxedo rather than a cutaway suit should be chosen; a cravat is the more appropriate companion to the former. Taking inspiration from the Gladstone collar, named for the past prime minister, the winged collar is marvellously distinctive. One final point is to be sure to tuck in the wing tips behind the bow tie!
For evening-wear, a black or white self-tie in the same silk as your lapels is classic, although contrasting silk, patterned or textured bow ties can work for more flamboyant looks if the event is not too archetypal.
Take care with your pocket square if wearing a bow tie with your dinner suit; the combination can definitely work beautifully, but these articles should not compete sartorially. White is the prescribed choice for the pocket square; pattern is possible, but keep it subtle. If you crave variation without too much risk, a pin on your lapel is a modern, elegant option.
Now for pairing a bow tie with a suit. First, the practicalities: choose the type of bow tie according to your size – the larger in size you are, the bigger your bow tie should be. This then will dictate the size of your collar, which needs to be in proportion to your bow tie. Your button-down and classic collars should be reserved for wear with a tie or on their own when incorporated into a suit. With a bow tie and a suit, you want to go for a small or narrow collar corresponding to the size of your bow tie. A rounded club collar has character; a slim or normal bow tie is best with this collar.
Casual day-to-day wear is where you can really let loose and experiment with colour and all collar types. The same basic rules for matching pattern, texture, and colour to your shirt and the rest of the outfit apply to bow ties as to ties. As bow ties are more lively than ties, be aware that the effect of mixing pattern and texture will be heightened – advantageously or disadvantageously. A multi coloured bow tie on a light coloured shirt will always look striking, while pairing different fabrics and hues will add further interest.
Image Source: Lookastic.com
A red bow tie or blue bow tie is a safe choice for your first venture into wearing these distinguished accessories casually. For a refined look, choose muted, rich tones and play against similar hues – we love the way the maroon works with the different shades and textures of gray in the image below for instance, making for a nuanced outfit where the bow tie works in a relaxed, effortless way.
Image Source: MrPorter.com
Once you feel at ease with wearing bow ties as part of these relatively simple looks, you will be well on the way to choosing more daring combinations that are true to your personal aesthetic.
When it comes to bags, one just isn't enough. Every occasion calls for a different style, and in an effort to avoid those humiliating, document-dropping, butter fingers moments, we've selected three essential styles that will lend themselves to whatever your day or weekend may have in store. For each style we've gone for a classic, higher end product, and a more affordable option.
Long gone are the days of James Bond's attaché hardshell, yet the briefcase stands firm in its place as an absolute mens staple. Modern life requires multi-purpose: can it carry a laptop and a pile of documents and perhaps some cologne for that post-work tipple?
In this case, always go for a long lasting leather option; hardier and smarter than polyamide alternatives, with the added bonus of that charming 'lived in' leather characteristic as time passes.
Enter Ted Baker's Jagala leather satchel, this briefcase has ample space for a laptop, plus inner and outer zip pockets. Its solid structure allows for a heavy load without compromising the shape of the bag, whilst its detachable shoulder strap is a handy add-on for multiple-site businessmen or the long commute.
Available from Ted Baker for £265
For those that want to spend a little more, Berluti's 'Un Jour' leather briefcase is the pinnacle of understated luxury. At over £2,000, it's an investment piece, but one which will surpass any short term trends. Made in Italy using hand selected Venezia calf leather, Berluti's subtle embossed logo and attention to detail are what makes this stand the test of time. Available in a range of different finishes, we would recommend going for the classic polished leather in black. Just don't leave it in the back of a black cab...
Available from Mr Porter's US site for $3,300
For those who have a little more to carry, or can't bring themselves to downsize, Paul Smith's cross-body 'City Webbing' bag features minimal gold details, thus setting itself apart from the plain black messenger bags that seem to be on the shoulder of every other colleague. Its rich, pebbled leather adds luxury without the tacky, and a multitude of pockets prove that it’s ultimately a smart, yet functional business bag.
Available from Paul Smith for £395
If minimalism is what appeals, Bally’s ‘Coppet’ is the way forward. Sumptuous grained leather is what defines this muted messenger bag, which, available in a variety of colours, is an accessible and sleek accessory to pack your things into at the end of the day.
Available from Bally for £795
Overnight getaways necessitate a much more sizeable style of bag, with ample room for essentials whilst maintaining sophistication. Balenciaga’s ‘24h’ travel bag ticks all the boxes for a mens overnight bag; its flawless black calfskin leather is ideal cabin baggage for those jetting off on short business trips. A simple perforated “Balenciaga” logo is the height of contemporary style, owing itself to the sportswear-luxe trends that have ruled recent fashion seasons.
Available from Balenciaga for £621
More refined elegance comes in the form of Mulberry’s ‘Large Multitasker Holdall’, which really does what it says on the tin. Almost architectural in its design, this holdall’s main handle is designed not to be seen when not in use; a unique design detail in contrast to simpler, less versatile options.
Available from Mulberry for £1,350
There are no steadfast rules on accessorising with bags, whether functional, fashionable or both, but material is something which should not be compromised on. Our preference are for blacks and dark navy's when it comes to a business bag, but for a casual travel bag, a tan holdall always looks great and oozes character.
A strong, treated leather bag will keep your laptop, papers, and essentials dry, retaining shape, surviving dashes to meetings, and everything in between.
In the 5th and final video in our Gentleman's Shoe Series, Tom Beecroft from The Jaunty Flaneur, a boutique shoe shining service in Mayfair; London, speaks about the 5 essential shoes every man must own.
Starting with the most formal, I'd really recommend having a good pair of black Oxford's such at the below from Gaziano & Girling. Most gentleman already have black shoes so finding something that stands out is really worth spending some time on. My personal preference is for whole cuts which has this very clean shape. Because of the ribbon laces you also have the option to wear them for black tie events. These shoes retail for £770, but similar styled shoes can be purchased a much lower expense.
Smart Brown Shoe
Next we have our smart brown shoe. Again this is to be worth with a suit because of it's very simple plain toe cap, which shines up very very well indeed. This can be worn for smart day events, christenings, formal meetings, that sort of thing. I really like the Vass - Made To Order Toecap Oxford which retails for just under £500, and can either be all one colour or have a contrasting colour on the toe.
One level down in terms of formality, is a brogue, which has a medallion pattern and these design elements on the shoe. This can also be worn with a suit but also as far down as jeans, so it's a very versatile shoe that can be dressed up or down and therefore makes it a great as a smart weekend shoe. The shoe below is a J Fitzpatrick Windermere Brogue Oxford which retails for around £325.
If you're spending all day on your feet, there is nothing better than a Suede Chelsea boot, in particular the below from Oliver Sweeney. Because of it's Bologna construction it is incredibly comfortable to wear all day long.
Finally, we've got a strong winter boot from Cheaney. Because of the grained leather it's going to hide a lot of marks and imperfections, but also because of the rubber sole and the very strong Goodyear construction you're going to be able to wear these through snow, sleet, rain, etc.
So with these 5 shoes you should be set for every eventually. See our Gentleman's Shoe Series for more videos on how to care for your shoes.
In Part 4 of our Gentleman's Shoe Series, Tom Beecroft from The Jaunty Flaneur in Mayfair, London offers his shoe care tips, and the key things that you need to do to keep your shoes in excellent condition and ensure a long lifetime.
It's important when caring for your leather shoes to get into a routine which will ensure your shoes stay in tip top condition. The first thing to do when you get home from work is to open up the facings quite wide so there's no extra stress when you're taking your feet in and out of the shoes. Give them a couple of minutes for the air circulate before putting in your shoe trees and then brush down with a horse hair brush which will get rid of any dust or dirt that has accumulated during the day.
Once you've done that, put them away in their shoe bags, and if you've got the original shoe box then so much the better as it will protect them in your wardrobe. If you've invested a lot of money in your shoes it's worth spending an extra couple of pounds on getting the right shoe care to look after them which we've set out below.
Shoe Care Products
The range of products that we highly recommend is from Safhir in France, which has a large amount of natural ingredients, things like mink oil, bees wax and carnauba wax and which won't dry out the leather in the same way that cheaper brands that use a lot of chemicals might do. Although they are a little more expensive, we would definitely say they are worth the investment.
Other tips to increase the longevity of your shoes is to use a shoe horn every time you put your shoes on. This is going to protect the backs of your shoes. Also if you have quite a long stride, having indented mental toe taps cut into your shoes will greatly increase the amount of time between resoling. Following these basic rules and habits will ensure that you add years to the life of your shoes.
In the video and article below, Tom Beecroft from The Jaunty Flaneur, a shoe shining company in Mayfair, London explains the key elements you need in a good shoe shine kit.
Horse Hair Brush
You need to start with a horse hair brush. There's not much to choose between different brushes, but opt for a larger one as there's more surface contact per stroke. A good horse hair brush will retail from around £9.
The only other brush you need is a welt brush. This is the skinny brush that fits between the upper and the sole of the shoe. Welt brushes start from £4.
All other creams and waxes can be applied with a cloth. The best cloth I've found is Selvyt, but you can at a push use an old T-shirt as well. A Selvyt cloth retails for around £6.
Creams And Waxes
In terms of creams and waxes, one factory really does stand alone, it's called Arvel in France. They have two major brand names, Saphir Medialle D'Or and La Cordonnerie Anglaise. This moisturiser cream, is by far and away the best I've found. It's not too oily and it does a really good job of nourishing the leather and cleaning it up. Saphir Medialle D'Or cream retails for £10.
You also need to use a coloured shoe cream. There's a very strong colour pigment to these, which rejuvenates the shoe but there's also a lot of bees wax in there so it will start to build a bit of a shine from just using this and then buffing it off. Saphir Medaille d'Or Renovateur cream retails for £12.
Finally of course for that high shine you'll need waxes, and again Saphir is the place to go for that. Very strong natural ingredients which means it won't dry out the leather in the same way that a cheaper brand would. Saphir Medaille d'Or 1925 Beeswax Polish retails for £11.
To get the most out of the shine, you need to use ladies tights. We use 60 Denier, but of course the smoother the shoe the smoother the tights can be. With broguing you might even want to go thicker.
Finally, just on a day to day basis, you need to use shoe trees at the end of the day and then pop them in their shoe bags and then every morning as well don't forget to use a shoe horn to protect your socks and the backs of your shoes. Shoe Trees come in a range of finishes a prices starting from £10.
Watch all the videos in the series here: Gentleman's Shoe Series
In the video below, Tom Beecroft from The Jaunty Flaneur explains the process of a Spit Shine for leather shoes.
A Spit Shine is the process of applying thin layers of polish to leather shoes or boots, while also adding a lubricant such as water, which if carefully layered will create a high shine effect. The name historically has it's roots with the military, where soldiers would use their saliva as the lubricant and combining it with the shoe polish to create a mirror like finish on their military boots.
I'm Tom Beecroft from The Jaunty Flaneur. To make your shoes look even better, there's an extra finish you can add to give your shoes a glass like appearance. You can really only do this on parts of the shoe that do not bend when you are walking, so here at the front and here at the back, but never across the vamp as this can lead to the finish cracking.
It is important that you have a few layers of wax down at this point, so you need to do a normal polish first as shown in our video here: How To Polish Shoes. You can't skip straight to a glaçage as the water can damage the leather.
Using a cloth or a cotton ball, add a little wax, just a touch of water and then work them in tiny circles. Then add a little more wax and water and carry on that same process. This takes time and can't be rushed. Adding too much wax, or too much water or trying to take short cuts can ruin the effect, so you really do have to take your time. After a few layers though you should end up with a mirror finish that looks great and is excellent protection against the elements.
Once you've got the glaçage in the shoe it's relatively easy to keep it there for the future. Just remember to brush down well at the end of every day and add a couple of thin layers of wax now and then.
In the first video in our Gentleman's Shoes Series, Tom Beecroft from The Jaunty Flaneur based in Mayfair outlines the key steps they follow to get a high quality shoe shine.
Step 1 is to prepare the shoe for polishing by dusting it down with a horse hair brush, making sure to also get into the welt areas and also the waist of the shoe. Then apply a little renovateur cream across the whole of the upper. This will nourish and moisturise the leather. Leave that to sink in for at least half an hour, although the longer the better before you buff it off.
Step 2 is to massage in shoe cream to restore colour and further nourish the upper. Again you want to leave that for at least half an hour. Because the shoe cream has some bees wax in it, when you buff it of, you'll start to see a shine develop.
Step 3 is to start adding thin layers of high quality wax. Start by using a welt brush to get into the area between the sole and the upper and this is largely to protect the stitching. Then use a cloth to apply wax all over the shoe. After leaving the wax to dry for a moment, buff off and then add another layer. After a few layers it is best to use a pair of thick tights to quickly go over the surface and bring out the most from the shine.
Step 4 is really what separates a standard shoe shine from a well polished shoe. By adding in a drop of water when massaging in some layers of wax we can build a mirror like finish on certain parts of the shoe. This should only really be saved for parts of the shoe that do not flex when you are walking such as the toe and the rear quarter.
The high quality shoe products can be found on The Jaunty Flaneur's website here: http://www.thejauntyflaneur.com/buy-shoe-care-products/
To see all video's on our How To Polish Shoes YouTube series click here: http://www.rampleyandco.com/pages/videos
Or click here to view our full range of Fine Men's Accessories.