“You Have To Make Them Feel Good, Before You Can Make Them Look Good..”


It has come to something when the photographer asks you if he is dressed appropriately for the shoot which he is about to conduct: I have always been of the volition it is one’s responsibility to provide sartorial inspiration and solace, not strike fear at the heart of one’s cohorts!

Lee ‘Magpie’ Smith had been commissioned to take some candid photographs of me – I’m no fan of having my picture taken, as official Brown in Town photographer Remco Merbis will attest; that is to say, I do not like seeing myself in pictures. However, I realise that it is a necessary evil and so prefer candid photography over the staged sort.

So, what better opportunity to catch me off-guard, as it were, than to observe me in one of my natural habitats, enjoying a lunch at  The Ethicurean restaurant.

And, given that we were at The Ethicurean for the inaugural Diners Club luncheon, this not only afforded our lens the opportunity to capture me off guard, but also to capture this wonderful event where like-minded souls met to break bread over a glass or two of wine in Wrington’s most picturesque Barley Wood Walled Garden.

The best of Bristol, not to mention Wales, were represented; from restaurateursvintnersdistillersmixologists, photographers – in fact both of the lenses who are responsible for making me look good were in attendance – Google gurusDJ’s and even the prolific blogger and omnipresent social media commentator who is Bookends and Bin Ends.

To my chagrin, it soon became apparent that our photographer was not alone in his quandary about what to wear to this wonderful occasion, as many of the table made apologies for their appearance. But if ever there were a perfect opportunity to wax sartorial, then doing so over a couple bottles of wine and a good meal would certainly be it! In the words Mount St.’s most famous tailor, Douglas Hayward “You have to make them feel good, before you can make them look good..”.

What did impress me was that some of the chaps in attendance had made use of various items which they’d had tailored by Brown in Town and were mixing and matching, as opposed wearing the entire suit, which I’ve often found is a wonderful way in which to discover new ensembles e.g. tailored chino jackets with contrasting untailored chinos or tailored suit trousers with Smedley style knitted polo shirts for a Jazz or Mod appeal. The key is both how you wear it and how you complete the look. The same rules which should be adopted regardless whether for casual or formal attire.

Most importantly, one should feel completely at ease in what one is wearing; whether it be a kaftan, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt or a three piece suit; you should look as comfortable as you feel, or not, as the case may be. Some men have this laissez-faire style and have it in spades. They will most likely never have use for a tailor as they can throw anything on and look effortlessly cool – our photographer would certainly fall into this category. 

However, for the rest of us, following a few simple guidelines will ensure that we do not look like a dog’s dinner;

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere
Most of us have what colourists refer to as base colours. These are more often than not muted tones which form the backdrop for the rest of our ensemble and it is important to ensure that this colour, whichever colour that may be, is flattering against one’s skin tone, or hair colour or even eye colour. More recently an additional consideration or reference has been the colour of a man’s beard, which abound in Bristol and also Shoreditch – this has no bearing on the reasons why Brown in Town choose to conduct their business in these hirsute places, but certainly in my experience, the bearded fellow is invariably a discerning fellow.

Keep it Simple
Use no more than two colours for the main garment; obviously a suit should have the same colour trousers and jacket but if wearing separates the jacket and trousers should be colours which work well together, for example a blue blazer with khaki coloured chinos or grey coloured flannels or worsted trousers. This will give an overall consistency to the ensemble which is easy on the eye and, above all, flattering of the wearer.

A Little Colour
Try not to introduce more than one additional accent colour to the outfit, whether that be a pair of brightly coloured socks or a tie, a belt– hence your shoes and belt ought to be the same colour if not shade, so as not to add an additional colour to one’s ensemble and thus detract from the overall effect. 

Shoes should be of a colour which either match, or offer a complimentary contrasting colour to, the trousers i.e. dark brown or tan shoes with navy blue trousers or khaki chinos, or black shoes with navy blue or black or grey trousers. There are of course exceptions to the rule i.e. brown brogue shoes with grey trousers can look good together but ensure there is an element of black in the broguing, for example, that is cohesive and ties the two colours together. Tan shoes and grey trousers is a contrast too far.. 

While the pocket square is generally considered to be the one accessory in a man’s ensemble that can adopt a completely different colour to the rest of the outfit, I would suggest that this most versatile of accessories adopts the same rule of thumb as the aforementioned accent colours i.e that it is a complimentary one and not a clashing one; there is a difference. 

Above all, remember that, style is a journey and not a destination. Have fun getting there, accept that, occasionally, you’ll board the wrong train in your bid to get from A-Z, but enjoy the romance of the journey and the scenery en route.

Have a nice Bank Holiday..

Brown in Town