Things What I have Learned..


In what, I have decided will become an annual communique on one’s Birthday, I will continue the theme of it is never too late to learn and being able to teach an old dog new tricks!

Given the long, harsh winter that we endured here in Blighty, I have come to the conclusion that I must get more sun than I do. Not least being holed up in a windowless, subterranean studio Monday to Friday certainly does nothing for one’s tan, let alone serotonin levels – but can also make Jack a dull boy.

So, in addition to Brown in Town’s monthly residency at the Hoxton Hotel, we have also headed North to meet some of the historical mills and merchants whose cloth we take great pride in showcasing. While this may reduce the number of days I can offer appointments throughout the year, I will return wiser and with new cloths to boot! 

And whilst the Darby Minns’  um’d and ah’d over which country and culture we should subject to our children – Summer holidays not being our forte – I took the executive decision to embark upon a buying trip to Florence, and join the other peacocks at the Pitti Uomo trade fair; for purely professional reasons you understand.

Pitti has provided sartorialist’s the world over with inspiration of what to wear, what’s hot and what’s not (peacocking, for one). What I really like about it is that in addition to the solid stable of the best haberdashers and ateliers in the world, you can also catch up on historical brands such as SunspelMoon Boot and Diadora; to name but a few of those which I stumbled upon my last trip. 

Now, the following are a list of sartorial wisdoms what I have learned and which were a revelation to me once upon a time. Albeit now I may take them for granted, as I impart them to our patrons on a regular basis, I thought appropriate that they found their place in this years list;

In order to give the illusion of a suppressed waist, a jacket must be a decent length so as to be wider at the hip than the waist. The jacket will also benefit from having side vents as opposed a single vent at the back – this is because a the skirt of a single vented coat clings to the hips making the coat appear narrower. Side vents, on the other hand, flare slightly at the skirt thus making the jacket appear narrower in the middle. Genius.

And if you favour the silhouette of narrow trousers, then they must be wider at the top as opposed straight all the way down. Thus, increasing the seat circumference, so that the trousers slip over your behind as opposed stick to it, then not only will the drape be improved, but it will  make the bottoms appear narrower; pleats, will also accentuate this. 

On the subject of pleats, which I favour for many reasons but not least because they improve drape and reduce unsightly creases from the fly to the hip pockets; which I refer to as cats whiskers. Moreover, pleats improve comfort when seated, for when you sit down and your ham strings and seat expand, the pleats will pop-open and provide ease.  Marvellous.

While pleats are not a house-style, where as some of our design details are, I have learned that a tailors house style; whether that be single buttoning coats at Huntsman, or jaunty angled jacket pockets at Oswald Boateng are not for everyone. However, unless the tailor is informed in advance of your specific foible or disliking of the house-style, then one is obliged to wear the house style, at least for the first garment; whereby you can request that future garments are made sans whichever detail it may be that you do not like. You have been informed.

On the subject of elegance, if you are looking for a great fitting pair of trousers – not to be confused with ’skinny’ or ‘spray-on’ as I refer to them – and the most flattering of silhouettes, then there are but two positions to wear them; your anterior superior iliac spine or hip bones i.e. not hipsters. Or at your navel; think 1950′ and before to include all trousers worn by Cary Grant. For from these positions, your trousers will drape as they are supposed to and provide the wearer with clean lines from just below the muffin top to just above the shoe. The length of your trousers is of tantamount importance also as, if they are worn too long, they will puddle at the shoe and break too much at the shin; thus ruining the appearance and silhouette of not only your trousers but also of your shoes. 

As for shoes, if you enjoy a long stroll to work as I do, then you can’t beat a pair of bench made English shoes, from the likes of Joseph Cheaney for example, or any of the other wonderful shoe makers that can be found on Jermyn St. in London. Not least because they last longer than high street shoes (I once wore through the sole of a pair of Clarkes in under 3 months) but because when you do finally wear through them, Cheaney will not only resole them but rebuild the entire shoe on the original last (the wooden shoe-shaped block upon which a shoe is made and shaped).

And perhaps the most important lesson which I will learn this year, but which I have yet to fully adopt, I do know holds the key to one’s happiness; Let Go. Some things you cannot do for others, even if you want to. You can only be there to support them when they need you. And I mean support, not get out one’s toolbox and try to fix it for them..

So, make hay while the sunshines and in the words of Baz Luhrmann; do not under estimate the importance of sunscreen..

All the best,


Brown in Town