“Relax!” was the parting gesture of my publicist – yes, it came as a surprise to me too, but if it was the done thing for his grandfather’s charge, Sir Hardy Amies of Savile Row,, then who is Bristol’s local tailor to argue!
However, whereas, it may come easy to some, it’s certainly not the BLT’s modus operandi. In fact, it couldn’t be farther from reality. You see, I’ve alway operated at 100 miles an hour; people to see, places to go, suits to make, blogs to write etc. etc.
But when I launched Brown in Town, it was with a view to taking things a little more slowly, you know, yoga in the morning before a leisurely stroll to The Humidor, taking appointments at at time it best suits my customers, putting family first, and striking a work/life balance.
Now, whilst yoga is a constant reminder that one must breathe more regularly, for me, there is no greater relaxation than taking time to enjoy a fine cigar, an hour and half usually does it – how befitting, then, that my new studio is the cigar humidor at Hotel du Vin, albeit devoid of cigars.
The trouble with these methods of relaxation, these pleasures, if you will, is that it is often only possible to enjoy them every now and then – that is certainly the case in my hectic schedule anyway.
But, it was on the day of Brown in Town’s photoshoot, as I was donning my new bespoke suit, and shirt, tying my Anthony Haines tie and lacing my semi-brogue shoes from my chosen retailer of choice Herring, that I was reminded that getting dressed, is, perhaps, one of the greatest and yet simplest pleasures of all.
Sadly, because of the light required to shoot (photos, not pheasant) outdoors, we had to start early to afford us the best of December light. This meant that the location shots would be done first and the close-up shots of the details of our fine suits and accoutrements, would be taken at the end of the day, away from the photographers lens – long after I had considered each detail in turn.
But I will indulge you in the things which I believe one should take time over and enjoy, everyday;
I’ll spare you the initial part of the dressing process and move swiftly on to socks. I’ve long-since favoured the Dolce & Gabbana school of thought that one’s socks should match either one’s trousers or one’s shoes – there are of course exceptions to this rule but I’d suggest that the tone of your socks at least match either your trousers or shoes.
If you prefer that your shirts tails remain tucked in at all times, then you will almost certainly have to invest in tailor made shirts as they will more than likely be cut the same length as your jacket – unless you insist on ‘bum freezers’, in which case I’d suggest you ask the tailor to cut them to the top of your thigh. And, aside ironing one’s shirt oneself, surely the greatest pleasure, if not least, the most rewarding, is fastening one’s cufflinks.
I prefer a zip-fly for suit trousers, but often have buttons on my slacks and chinos. However, it fastening the pointed waistband that I glean most pleasure from, both tactile and visual and above all, old school. Trousers also provide the perfect cut off for one’s tie, e.g. a tie should not be below the waistband of one’s trousers, not unless it is a zoot suit that you are wearing.
Providing it has the prerequisite ‘pinch’ visible beneath the knot, sport whichever knot you prefer, or are able to tie without being frustrated, or, moreover, disappointed.
I will say this, however, if you like a larger knot as sported by Prince Michael of Kent, or, previously by the Duke of Windsor, it is not the knot which takes the Duke’s name that affords them this voluminous creation but a thicker cloth. Our Anthony Haines ties, made of worsted or tweed, provide just such a knot.
Simply, if you fasten your waistcoat from the top down, you will be reminded to leave the last one unfastened. Perfection.
Providing your jacket has been cut for you – and you’ll know that it has immediately you’ve put it on. Fasten only the top button of a two-button jacket, the middle of a three, and no prizes for a single button jacket! Shoot around ½” of cuff when your arms are rested by your sides, and, Bob’s your uncle.
Personally, I prefer a little flounce, but whichever style you prefer, sporting a pocket square provides an enormous amount of pleasure and brings a flourish of colour to one’s ensemble.
You may well ask how anyone can derive any pleasure from the common or garden handkerchief; well, I do. And even more now that I am sourcing my own handkerchiefs – not that I take any less pleasure when my good lady, Saffron Darby presents me with these beautiful patterned-cotton squares each year at Christmas. You see, Saffron in her capacity as snr. designer at Toast sourced such beautiful accoutrements from around the world, and ergo inspired me to source these gems from India, and which are one of my favourite accessories.
And there you have it; the joy of dressing-up, or just getting dressed. A simple pleasure that all can enjoy..
I leave you with a quote from Sir Hardy Amies, as it best sums up my feelings on the matter, “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them”. In other words, relax!