Never Say Never!

It came to me during my Monday morning meditation. Like an epiphany moment: “Never Say Never”!

And what does Bristol’s local tailor mean by this declaration, Never Say Never? I refer, of course, to Brown in Town’s ethos, our philosophy, if you will. Our modus operandi.

You see, as our name may suggest, whilst Brown in Town may have one foot firmly in our glorious past where morning dress was de rigueur for weddings, and equestrian events, and dinner suits were the required dress code for the evening. And city gents wore pin stripe suits but never brown into town, which was the reserve of the country gent, or indeed the city gent in the country, we also take great care in dressing our customers in a fashion that brings out the best in them, and them alone.

Now, this may, or may not, involve us being commissioned to make a wedding suit made of brown tweed at a customers bequest, for a wedding taking place in the city. Or, maybe offering advice on just the right shade of brown shoes to be worn with a blue lounge suit, a la Edward VIII. Or, perhaps, horn coloured buttons on a blue double breasted blazer instead of brass ones, in order to match khaki slacks..imagine?!

The funny thing about this term of phrase, is that it has been my personal edict for many, many years. For it has been my experience, that one can never be too certain of our changing moods, circumstances, and, moreover, the style of the day. But what is certain, is that our own style is something that develops over time, and that taking advice from your tailor on such things as which cloth colour is flattering against our skin-tone, beard or barnet is a liberating experience. And that, having an understanding of what our tailoring traditions are, before going off piste, can be very rewarding indeed.

So, if you like your schmutter, and, like us, you do not enjoy the drudge and frustration of shopping – because what you want was last season, or perhaps last decade – then let your tailor introduce to you a world of bespoke finery and myriad cloths and cuts to whet and satiate your sartorial appetite.

I bid you adieux, I’m off to celebrate one’s Birthday with a night at the Talbot Inn.

 

Bill Evans: Sartorially Sound

With the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival only a few days away, Bristol’s local tailor waxes lyrical with composer/conductor and friend William Goodchild about his involvement in the Interplay Series; placing the work jazz pianist Bill Evans next to orchestral pieces performed by the Bristol Ensemble – the Bristol’ professional chamber orchestra – and conducted by Mr Goodchild himself.

A longstanding fixture of the Bristolian music calendar, I am excited to be able to partake of festival for the first time this year – other distractions like raising young families, starting a tailoring business and generally being BLT have sought to pervert the pursuit of exquisite music to date.

One of the most endearing anecdotes I’ve learned about Evans thus far, is that he was the only white man ever to join Miles Davis jazz band – albeit he was widely regarded as one of the worlds greatest jazz pianists, I’m not sure that higher praise is necessary as surely Miles’ own stamp of approval is accolade enough?

And, whilst I am new to Bill Evans the musician, though not his music, given his own sartorial style it comes as no surprise to learn that he was inspired by the French impressionist composers next to whose work Evans music is placed for the Interplay Series at Colston Hall.

Evans’ appearance, and indeed, his demeanour, bear an uncanny resemblance to George McFly from Back to the Future. But his style is reminiscent of 1960’s film The French Connection, ironically. With horn rim glasses, white shirt, black tie and black suits, his look was certainly of the time – albeit the black suit and tie are now synonymous with 1990’s film classic, Reservoir Dogs – also a fantastic source of sartorial inspiration. 

And, Evans wore it, like so many of the other jazz greats, like Sunday best, but in a relaxed and debonair fashion. And it is this, I think, that makes him all the more appealing. In the words of Hardy Amies: “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.

Given the era of the music (1960’s – one of my personal favourites), I’m hoping for some seriously cool suits and ‘ensembles’ at The Colston Hall, on the day! I myself am already looking forward to stepping back in time, as if excuse were needed, for the occasion and will be rekindling my love affair with all things beatnik and ‘jazz..’.

See you there..

Mr Benn: Sartorial Hero

Mr Benn was an ordinary fellow, living an ordinary life, in an ordinary suburban town, ordinary, that is, until he paid a visit to the fancy dress shop, where he assumed his alter ego as an adventurer and embarked upon epic voyages of discovery.

In every episode, regardless which costume, and, ergo, character, Benn changed into, he started his journey to the fancy dress shop in a 2 piece suit, black Oxford shoes, striped tie and a bowler hat.

Being disappointed with the choice of that which is available ‘off-the-peg’ – I think we all know how he feels – Benn is guided to the fitting room by the fez-wearing shopkeeper where there awaits a different costume each time he visit, a costume with the power to transport Benn to another time and place – and I definitely know how that feels!

Upon exiting the dressing room of the fancy dress shop through the alternative exit, Benn uses his wit and common sense to solve problems for his newfound friends, rising to the challenges of his assumed role, and, yet, always returns to that which is familiar at the end of each adventure; his suit, tie and bowler hat.

Albeit I was a suit dodger until the grand old age of 30, when I was seconded to South East Asia by Target Corp. and promptly informed that suits were the modus operandi for ex-pats of my position living in the hottest climes on earth, I was reminded just this week that my earliest inspiration of dress was not the 1970’s surfer style that I had grown up with – my elder sister married a surfer and, ergo, our bathtub was always full of wetsuits, our porch skateboards and Vans shoes and car the scent of Uncle Zogs Sex Wax – but it was in fact none other than cult childrens television favourite Mr Benn – possibly because he dressed up as a spaceman which was, as a 6 yr old, my chosen vocation!

Impeccable in every sense; tie tied correctly, shoes laced at all times, suit cut to perfection and bowler hat always firmly in place, or ready to be tipped, should the occasion require it.

And whereas Mr Benn was seeking adventure by changing into the costumes provided by the mysterious shopkeeper, one’s own adventures begin each morning when I don my 3 piece suit, shirt, tie, semi brogue shoes, and Fox Umbrella and make the pilgrimage down St. Lukes Crescent, not Festive Rd, to the humidor at Hotel du Vin and assist my customers in assuming their chosen identity, alter ego or possibly tweeds for just such an adventure!

So, if you hanker after a reason to dress-up, or indeed the costume for just such an adventure, then allow Bristol’s local tailor to assist you in all things sartorial..

Wedding Suits: The Time is Now

Barely a week into the New Year and already you grooms are thinking about your wedding suits, and why not; the Christmas festivities are behind us, you’ve had a week to work off the excesses and now you’re back behind the desk, the wheel, the bar, enemy lines, but, with the help of Brown in Town, not behind the times!

That said, we at Brown in Town take pride in honouring certain tailoring traditions such as making bespoke suits whereby you, the customer, make informed decisions about which cloth you’d like your suit made from – and us keeping it aside for you. We believe that suits look better when they are made to fit you, both in terms of proportion but also comfort. And we also like quirky details such as roped-shoulders and striped sleeve-linings– see gallery for details – as we believe it gives a suit a more artisanal and elegant look.

However, we are, above all, sensitive to those details which you, the wearer, consider to be de rigueur; whether that be a working cuff, pleats or turn-ups in your trousers, contrasting collars and cuffs on your shirts or brightly coloured-linings on the back of your waistcoats and Brown in Town is only too happy to facilitate.

So, we’re engaged – congratulations – but what next? Presuming you’ve secured your venue, and if you haven’t, might I suggest that you contact Georgina at Hotel du Vin as the Sugar House is such a wonderful location for tying the knot. But let’s imagine that the wedding dress, the venue, the cake, the flowers (and I can’t recommend Edward Allen flowers highly enough for his architectural and bespoke creations) and the photographer have all been taken care of, now might be the opportunity for you to discuss with your betrothed what, if any, of the budget is remaining that might be apportioned to a bespoke wedding suit?!

If you already have a clear idea of what you want to wear for your wedding, then feel free to get-in-touch and make-an-appt. to see me at the humidor, Hotel du Vin. If you have no idea, or are unsure, then read on..

You see, unless the bride has chosen what the wedding theme is going to be – and wedding theme should not be confused with wedding colour-scheme, and I’ll come onto that – then we must first consider if you are going to wear traditional dress i.e. morning suit, although dinner suits have increased in popularity over the past year, and, ergo, would consider this traditional dress, of sorts. Or perhaps you hanker after a 3pc suit for it’s elegance, it’s traditional values and, not least, the waistcoat’s ability to distinguish the groom from the congregation once he’s removed his jacket – it’s also a great opportunity to show-off your grandfather’s fob watch.

And, so, what of the colour of your wedding suit; pale grey – the most common owing to it’s ability to compliment most complexions, dark grey – for those who prefer something a little more formal, black – if you prefer your wedding suits classic, or, indeed if you are to marry into an Italian dynasty on Italian soil, or, perhaps, the increasingly popular navy blue – because you have blue-eyes or because none of the other criteria apply to you, moreover appeal to you.

Once this suiting cloth has been selected, it is only natural to consider the suit’s lining colour, and, or pattern. Traditionally, a wedding suit is lined with one of the colours from the brides colour-scheme, but this does not have to be the case. If having pink on the back of your waistcoat is not for you, but you would like to show your solidarity, then have the wedding colour-scheme represented only on the inside of your jacket or coat, and line the back of the waistcoat with the same colour as the suit cloth.

Whatever your predilection, Brown in Town offers a bespoke tailoring service, and, as such will be more than happy to tailor your suit, or shirts, jacket, slacks or even overcoats for that matter, in any cloth, and at your bequest. But, we are also more than happy to offer expert advice on cloths, colours, style and accoutrements etc. that you might make informed decisions about which of our cloths, and indeed designs, is most suitable for you, the customer.

With thanks..

If Brown in Town’s first week in business was one of logistics and establishment; Douglas (my mannequin) and I moved into our new premises, the cigar humidor at Hotel du Vin, Bristol, we switched on the long anticipated website and we distributed our ‘Coming Soon’ posters to various peer’s establishments around the city, then week two is one of knuckling down to the task at hand, chiefly, making customer’s finery, and, owing to the inclement weather, their umbrellas, post haste – the latter being top of many of my customer’s lists!

But before we submerge ourselves in a world of bespoke tailoring, fine cloths and the rather decadent surroundings of my new studio space, I would like to take a minute to thank those who have been instrumental and made Brown in Town possible.

Firstly, Bristol’s local tailor must of course thank his better half, Saffron Darby, for her tireless support and sartorial advice. And, not least, for relinquishing her studio in our attic in exchange for my, somewhat smaller affair, in the scullery.

I’d also to thank Sam of Studio Baum for his creative skills in helping me to realise my vision of Brown in Town’s branding, and, also, his embracing of Brown in Town and it’s values; bespoke tailoring with a twist – I look forward to reinventing your wardrobe Sir as you have me!

But probably the greatest hurdle of all was not designing the website, as I had a fairly clear style in mind, but populating our new website, as, without content it is but a suit on a hanger. The real challenge was conveying, through imagery, what it is that Brown in Town does, what it stands for, what it believes in, and, above all, how you, the patron, the casual observer, perceive it. And this task was entrusted to Remco Merbis of Pixillian, who, like me, also had set himself a goal; to be the best photographer that he could be. I think he has achieved this. I hope you agree.

As for entertaining my customers, whilst I have been known to receive guests at my newly acquired attic studio from time-to-time, there can be no question that the preferred address for receiving one’s customers is at Brown in Town’s new home in the (cigar) humidor at Hotel du Vin. Quite simply, a better space this cigar aficionado could not wish to occupy – if we cannot enjoy cigars in these wonderful surroundings, let us at least enjoy the other age old art of dressing for an occasion and waxing sartorial instead. As for the staff and the service, both my patrons and I agree, it is first rate and I look forward to entertaining more of you here, in due course.

And if you have not yet been fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the Coming Soon poster for yourself, which was designed by the amazing Studio Baum and printed in record time by Hello Blue, then you’ll find them at the following establishments;

Bang Shanky (formerly Mack Daddy’s), Colston St. Bristol
Averys, Culver St. Bristol
Small St. Espresso, Small St. Bristol
FCP Coffee, Broad St. Corn St. Bristol
Harts Bakery, Temple Meads, Bristol
The Star & Dove, St. Lukes Rd, Totterdown
Source,, St. Nicholas Market, Bristol
The Swan, Wedmore
The Ethicurean, Wrington

This speaks nothing, of course, of the countless friends, family and patrons who have given me their support, their time, their encouragement and their feedback in order to enable me to realise my dream; to be able to provide a personal tailoring service with all the trimmings, here in the South West.

So, one and all, I thank you and I hope to see you at the humidor soon..

Yours sincerely,

David.