It’s a Pitti, But Someone Has To Do It

The end of any year is oft’ a heady time, as we endeavour to tie up loose ends and clear the decks ahead of Christmas.

Often referred to as the silly season, it encourages pandemonium as people scrabble to meet deadlines – or false deadlines as a friend recently described them – and draw a line under one’s achievements and challenges, milestones and anniversaries and births and deaths – and, sadly, I encountered more than my fair share of the latter in 2015.

But with each new year comes fresh challenge and, if we are lucky, a feeling of renewed vigour; think of New Year resolutions which we are motivated to commit to, inspired by our shortcomings, or our desire to improve upon something which we feel we could do better.

My own personal resolution is ‘to be in the moment‘, something which I heard Kim Ingleby speak about at the TedX Talks event at Bristol’s Colston Hall last year and which is a state of mind I have long since strived for.

My professional resolution has been to seek the assistance of a PA; something which I have been encouraged to do by one’s peers who have reaped the reward of having their time freed up to enable them to drive their businesses and focus on those things which they are most suited to; their strongest suits, if you’d pardon the pun.

In my case it will afford me the opportunity to focus not only on the future of Brown in Town, but enable me to be more creative in our campaigns – which, whilst I enjoy every element of their creation, take me no small amount of time and energy I can assure you – whilst continuing to meet with our customers to discuss their sartorial requirements and facilitate their ideas for fantastic suits or shirts, jackets, slacks and overcoats etc.

But, more poignantly, I will be able to keep in touch with our patrons. Some have been with me for many years and I am rarely able to join them at the bar and wax lyrical about the order of things, or, indeed the style of the day, because in two short years, Brown in Town has become that busy. Incredible, but true.

So, having found the answer to our prayers in the form of our Claire – Brown in Town’s saving grace and Queen of organisation – I am ready to seize the moment, which has begun with a trip to Florence to witness the sartorial powerhouse which is the Pitti Uomo faire.

Were inspiration of a sartorial kind ever needed, then the movers and shakers at the bi-annual Pitti Faire certainly provide it and provide it in spades. From Italy’s master tailors, to Savile Row, everyone and anyone who is passionate about their craft is represented.

I am also looking forward to catching up with artisans whose handcrafted products we stock in our own atelier, for example Fox Umbrellas and also my shoemaker of choice Cheaney & Sons. I also hope to meet one’s tailoring peers from across the water, such as Pironne Massimo and also closer to home, Savile Row’s belle of the ball, Richard James.

But the Holy Grail of the trip is none other than the indispensable pocket square. Some of the best pocket squares in the world are made in Italy using the finest silks, batistes, cottons and linens and since the demise of our local pocket square supplier, we are on the hunt for a worthy successor. I am keen to stock elegant squares featuring timeless designs and patterns, such as polka dot, paisley, floral and simple bordered designs; simple and timeless.

And while there are new projects which Saffron Darby and I are keen to embark upon this New Year, they are going to have to wait just a few more days.. It’s a Pitti, but someone has to do it!

All the best, look forward to seeing you in 2016.

Building A Quality Wardrobe

The modern gentleman has become increasingly aware that aesthetics are an important part of who he is and if you are reading this article, there is a good chance that you yourself are no longer satisfied with making-do when it comes to the image you choose to present to the world, whether that is at the office, date night or out with the kids on the weekend; something we hear a lot at Brown in Town.

Dressing well for the various engagements in our lives calls for a cohesive blend of style and functionality; while we all want to look smart wherever we go we also have need for our clothes to bode well with us in the different settings we find ourselves in. For instance having a smart pair of trousers or slacks that are appropriate for work, but can withstand a cycle-sprint to the studio of a morning or the mad dash to our pour-over coffee emporia of choice for one’s morning brew.

Building a quality wardrobe starts with finding your staple pieces, consider these to be the core of your clothing arsenal. These will vary from person to person but for most men (I dare say all men) a well made suit is a no-brainer. Regardless of whether you wear a suit to work or not, there will undoubtedly come a time when one of life’s occasions calls for one.

Likewise, it is also important to consider what you need from the rest of your wardrobe; do you need the majority of your garments to be very formal or are you going for a more smart-casual look?

After finding a starting point for your clothing capsule, the next step is to build upon it. Sounds simple enough, but it was a challenge Brown in Town faced when we created the Custom Collection, for example, we thought it important to create pieces that complement each other and that are interchangeable, just like working wardrobe full of suits, shirts and ties.

For example, The new Custom Collection flannel jacket, made from Fox Brothers glen check consisting both yellow and russet checks, works great with the putty-coloured khaki chinos but also amazing with our new grey slacks, which makes for an easy transition from day to evening when time is of the essence.

When looking for new clothes it is also good to remember to think quality over quantity. The aim is to find clothes that you love and that will last. When we wear our clothes often in a variety of different ways we are inadvertently informing others that we value our wardrobe and put the time and effort into its upkeep. Brown In Town have some great accessories in our atelier that can help you maintain great condition of your key pieces; real bristle clothes brushes for keeping the nap of one’s cloth raised and dust and lint free and also trouser clamp hangers for suspending one’s trousers upside down and from the ankles in order to reshape the whilst they hang.

Endeavouring to build our individual wardrobes is unequivocally a process that takes time, energy and, of course, resources. But with a committed spirit and help from those who we trust to craft the sartorial story that is our personal style, we can enhance the image we present to those who we cross paths with while functioning well in our environment.

Until next time..

 

The Custom Collection: Flannel Jacket

This week, after much blood, sweat and tears, we launched our long awaited Custom Collection and, I am very happy to say that it has thus far, been very well received.

The reasons behind our creating such a collection of informal tailored garments was partly in response to an increasing number of our patrons who no longer require five suits for the working week, but instead had need of the dreaded business casual; this increasingly common uniform of jackets, slacks, open neck shirts and chinos or jeans has left many, including myself, out in the cold, as achieving the effortless elegance that we are afforded by our bespoke suits, suddenly seemed unattainable.

The other reason would be, aside my penchant for fine tailoring and the best of British cloths, I am a glutton for a challenge and, so, I set about making each and every one of the garments which our patrons were inquiring after, naturally; so as to walk the walk, as it were and not just talk the talk you understand..

Now, if ever there was an essential wardrobe staple that cannot really be substituted, it is surely the jacket or blazer; names which are oft’ misappropriated and which cause some confusion, so what we have set out to do is create a blazer in the traditional sense but one which can be worn as a jacket and vice versa.

Traditionally, blazers are made of a navy blue, robust cloth up to 16oz from mills like H. Lesser and are used by clubs or schools and colleges, featuring their insignia on a patch-breast pocket and brass naval-buttons. They are quite formal in their appearance and often worn with grey flannel or worsted trousers, check, chambray or Oxford shirts and club neck ties. The jacket, on the other hand, is often less formal, more tailored and worn with chinos and jeans.

We wanted our blazers and jackets to be interchangeable by incorporating all of the best features from each of these sartorial stalwarts, as follows;

Cloth

While we have created a blue blazer for year-round use, this seasons flannel jacket is made from a 14oz ‘Wellington’ check from Fox Brothers in Wellington, Somerset. It is as soft, warm and luxurious as it is hardwearing and versatile.

Hidden Third Button

For those who appreciate the security of a third-button fastening on the front of their coat, or indeed the security of a waistcoat or double breasted coat, but prefer the silhouette afforded them by the fulcrum of a two-button jacket, the Custom Collection blazers and jacket feature a third button concealed behind the roll of the lapel

Patch ‘Pint’ Pockets

If you have ever fancied a cheeky smoke outside a venue that will not allow you carry your tipple over the threshold, then the patch pint pocket, commonly known as the patch pocket, is for you. Each hip pocket will carry a pint of your favourite ale and allow you passage to your smoking area of choice. The patch pocket is also extremely useful for keeping one’s hands warm and carrying a multitude of accoutrements and includes a coin catcher, come cigar lighter pocket inside the right hip pocket, which means you can carry your sunglasses in the bottom of the pocket without fear of scratching the lenses; genius! Also features a patch-breast pocket for carrying one’s spectacles and pocket square.

Surgeon’s Cuffs

For those who enjoy rolling up their sleeves to do the washing up as they arrive home of an evening, or simply enjoy the functionality of a working cuff, all of our blazers and jackets feature working cuffs.

Full Canvas

If you have ever admired the roll of another man’s lapel, one which appears fuller and more exaggerated and looks good enough to surf; it is owing in part to a full canvas being used inside the jacket. The canvas gives shape to the front of a coat and was traditionally fashioned from horse hair. Brown in Town offer three types of canvassing; Floating Canvas (or fused), most commonly used in off-the-peg and made-to-measure. Half Canvas (whereby the canvas culminates below the ribs) and full canvas, which we liken to one wearing their coat as opposed one’s coat wearing them, which is stitched into place from shoulder to hem and continues into the lapel; which is what gives the lapel it’s natural and voluminous roll. Those who have appreciated our Renaissance Finish of full canvas, handstitched button holes and real horn, leather or Corozo buttons will feel quite at home with our Custom Collection jacket and blazers. Those wanting to go the whole hog and raise the bar of their full renaissance finish will be happy to learn that Brown in Town can canvas their coat in horse hair, should they so desire.

Single Vent

An invention for the hacking-jacket, whereby to avoid your riding coat bunching up around your haunches, the single vent allowed you coat to fall either side of your seat and thighs. Whereas the double vent is traditionally associated with the suit; the vent sits-up as you sit down, so’s it will crease less when one is seated, the single vent is more relaxed and, sporting, if you will. The single vent also narrows the hips, thus elongating one’s frame.

In short, what we have created is a jacket that is incredibly easy to wear, is functional and one which I am as comfortable wearing as I am my suits. And that is saying something..

 

 

The Custom Collection

Soon after I embarked upon my tailoring career, I became increasingly appalled by my appearance at the end of the sartorial week; I looked sharp Monday thru’ Friday, but like a dog’s dinner at the weekend!

So, I set about redressing (pardon the pun) the balance by designing a few items of clothing which would take me from weekday to weekend in the style to which I had become accustomed i.e. perfectly tailored clothes which fit like a glove and which flattered this ageing clothes horse.

I referred to this menagerie of garments as Casual Bespoke, which is a term I used for many years to describe one’s civilian clothes i.e. those worn when I am not entertaining one’s customers; which consists mostly of three piece suits, with a double breasted suit thrown in for good measure.

The various incarnations of jackets, slacks, chinos and shirts have become something of a gauntlet as I tried and tested many different cloths and designs in the pursuit of the perfect staples for one’s wardrobe.

And, in the same way that I felt like a fish out of water when I embarked upon my sartorial journey – I had been shipped-off to Bangkok by Target USA, with a pair of shorts and flip flops to my name and advised in no uncertain terms that I would be wearing suits in the hottest country I’d ever visited, let alone lived in – I was entering uncharted territory by dressing smart casual. Where did it all go wrong?!

However, as we often do when we throw caution to the wind and relax our militant views on such things as dress code, I discovered a new found freedom in casual wear. Being able to reach into the wardrobe and pick a shirt, a pair of trousers and a jacket that would all work as well together as my suits did during the week, was a revelation.

As often happens when we discover something new, we find that others are discovering it at the same time and an increasing number of my patrons had begun asking for similar garments, though not for the weekend, but to bolster their weekday arsenal of suits because suits were becoming less and less part of their weekly arsenal; to take them from weekday to weekend and back again.

And given that I was standing shoulder to shoulder with these modern gentleman, waiting for our morning train to take us back into the workplace, we thought it would be a good idea for Brown in Town to create a collection of informal attire that was every bit as accessible as the suit, but no less smart or versatile. So, we have created the Custom
Collection; Custom, which is the term used for bespoke in the USA, because the pieces are available as a ready-to-wear but made to order using either the customers off-the-peg measurements, or those provided by the customer or, in the instance of Brown in Town patrons, the measurements we have on their pattern.

In addition, certain design details can be changed upon request.

The Custom Collection will comprise eight pieces throughout the year – this may or may not have anything to do with our initials being B.I.T which is also the name given to a group of binary digits operated on as a unit, typically 8, which is referred to as one BYTE – to include 3 jackets; a winter warmer, a summer jacket and the essential blue blazer. Two styles of shirt; one with quarter cut-away collar and a double cuff, the other with a Kent collar and single cuff, to be worn open neck. Trousers will comprise a pair of chinos, a pair of worsted slacks and in the Spring a pair of tailored shorts featuring a turn-up and double pleat.

Those who follow @brownintownatelier on Instagram may well have seen our sneak preview of the initial pieces of blue blazer, chinos and white cotton Oxford shirt. These items, together with this seasons jacket made with flannel from Fox Brothers, will feature on our website before end November.

Do feel free to get in touch if you would like to wax sartorial about the Custom Collection, or any other sartorial requirements which you may have.

All the best,

Milk for Tea & The Modern Gentleman

Milk for Tea was founded as a platform to introduce, encourage and promote the modern gentleman. Through my blog and events I hope to inspire men to live in excellence while I endeavour to do so myself. Excellence at its core is about raising the standards for ourselves which inadvertently helps progress the standard of those around us and our community as a whole.

 

The modern gentleman is a vehicle by which modern men can express themselves authentically while maintaining their male identity. The notion gives freedom for men to break free from the often times supressive ideologies of masculinity that we’re continually being shown through our society and the media.

 

In popular culture we are often shown men portrayed in a somewhat archaic manner. Many of us have been conditioned to harbour our emotions and to strive for ultimate physical appearance to gain the rights of “being masculine”. The modern gentleman is here to break that mold and to showcase a more varied portrayal of the nature of men.

 

As people we are dynamic, there are various elements that help make up who we are as individuals and it is important for us to be able to express the various sides of ourselves. Whether through our sense of dress, taste in music or anything else the ability to have the person we portray to others be in sync with who we really are is sometimes a challenge to nurture.

 

Social restrictions and the increasingly blurred lines of gender roles have caused various issues within the male community. At the age of 25 I am living life as a Millennial witnessing many of my male peers walking a fine line between wanting to be chivalrous and polite and feeling the pressure to fight against it.

 

I often times romanticize about the gentlemen of yester years. Whether it is Paul Newman, Sean Connery or Alain Delon, there was something about the men of the past that exuded so much overt masculinity but it was all channeled through being respectable individuals and being courteous to those around you. I think that this has probably been one of the reasons why modern men are looking to those who have come before us to help us navigate moving forward.

 

One of the ways Milk for Tea is aiming to help men is by showcasing a broad scope of modern day people who personify the ideals of the modern gentleman. These are men who are are committed to the progression of their thoughts and actions and would like to see a positive shift in male culture, a change that would allow more room for growth in how men view and conduct themselves.

 

Being excellent and living in excellence can look many different ways. For some of us it is striving to be better fathers, brothers, boyfriends and friends, for others it can be finally pulling off the perfect smart-casual look for the office. No matter what our individual pursuits may be the modern gentleman welcomes us all in to do it the best we possibly can.