Displaying items by tag: crompton
Monday, 21 February 2011 12:03

The basics are blue and grey

Beau Brummel The basics are blue and greyBeau favoured blue, white and buff. All the timeFormal dress is built on a very simple colour palette, which was initiated by the regency dandy Beau Brummel. Despite its use today, the original meaning of the word ‘dandy’ was one who was fastidious about his appearance but with the intention of producing perfect simplicity. So his palette was modest: blue, white, occasionally buff, and black for accessories.Beau’s intention was to strip away the decoration and peacock colour of court dress in order to focus on fit and line. His trousers were very tight. His jacket was fitted. Both were unusual in a period where clothing was more commonly draped over a man than cut close to it. His neck cloth, while voluminous and rippling, was painstakingly arranged and spotlessly white. Beau is responsible for the colours of a modern lounge suit and his philosophy is therefore worth remembering: simplicity in cloth, perfection in arrangement.I begin this piece with an explanation of Beau Brummel and his palette because a modern man should bear them in mind when assembling his suit and accompaniments for the day. Navy and grey are the starting points for a suit. White, and then blue, are for a shirt. As a first step, pick a blue or grey tie – whichever you haven’t used in the suit. Any pattern is acceptable if the shirt is plain; if it is patterned, just keep its scale and that of the tie far apart. Right, we’re halfway there.Now simple patterns and textures. A stripe in the suit, for example, or a larger weave in the tie. Get to know the glen check for a suit; learn to differentiate between nail head and bird’s eye. Vary ties with foulard prints and Oxford weaves. Perhaps most important of all, invest in clothes that fit rather than simply more clothes. Get your suits and your shirts made to measure. If you can afford it, cough up for bespoke. Remember Beau: simplicity and fit are the foundations of elegance.These basic colours – navy, blue, white and grey – will provide you with a myriad of different outfits. And when you start to introduce more colour, primarily in the accessories, these should always remain the base of any work attire. Colour, then, in the tie primarily. Shirts can be coloured, but other than an occasional pink they rarely look better than the blue they replace, just different. The colour of ties should be dark, with similar guidelines on pattern as above – so bottle green club stripes, purple spots and wine-red foulard prints.[Incidentally, I was very disappointed to see that a so-called guide to shirts and ties produced by GQ in its iPhone app suggested men match the colours. That was recommendation number one. And it was illustrated with a pink tie on a pink shirt. The heart sinks. You don’t match your shirt and your suits, at least in the office, so why on earth would you do it with a shirt and tie?]But I digress. Remember Beau and keep your colours simple.
Published in Style
Friday, 18 February 2011 21:49

Chancing a bow tie

Wool bow tie Chancing a bow tieBow ties are a tricky proposition for a man not accustomed to wearing them. While it is an item of clothing that could easily seem anachronistic, rather like braces or a fedora, the bow tie has the added disadvantage of being purely decorative. At least braces create the best line in a trouser leg and hats keep you warm and dry. A bow tie is mere fancy.And yet, and yet the bow tie taunts a man with ambitions of style. It is so hard to wear well that the possibility of doing so always seems temptingly and frustratingly out of reach; if only it could be held, fully in both hands, with success and admiration from one’s peers, what an achievement that would be.Well, here are some tips to try and bring that goal a little closer.First, what you wear the bow tie with. I recommend starting casual and opting for a shirt and sweater. This has the advantage of appearing casual, and so perhaps not to be taken as seriously as a suit. We will return to the casual theme later.A bow tie, unlike a normal neck tie, does not require space on the chest to play around on. Rather, it benefits from tight surroundings, making it a pop of colour on a neutral outline instead of a damp bow drowning in shirting. So a V-neck sweater works well. But even better is a polo-collared sweater, the one with a collar, like a polo shirt. This surrounds the tie, rising up around the collar, and so provides more context for it to relate to.If you want to make the big jump and wear the bow tie with a suit, make sure it has a waistcoat or at the very least a high-buttoning front (in which case it becomes even more important not to take that jacket off). Worn with a waistcoat and jacket, the bow tie has surroundings similar to that of a polo-collar sweater.Second, what the bow tie is made of. I recommend a plain navy wool – several establishments sell such things. Navy, as anyone familiar with the lore of neckties to wear with suits will tell you, is the most adaptable and reliable colour. It goes with anything, even a navy suit, and the Italians wear it with a blue shirt as the background to absolutely anything.And the matte surface of the wool reinforces the casual nature of the look that was begun with the sweater. This is now clearly not an office look, and has no right to be associated with Manhattan lawyers or dandyish professors.Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, tie your bow loosely. (I do hope you didn’t consider getting a ready-tied bow. Nothing could be done to render that stylish.) Tie the bow tie as per normal but, when you get to the point of tightening and adjusting, stop. Leave the look unfinished. Both sides should still be the same length, and there should be no chance of the bow flopping undone, but leave the knot big and the ends slightly askew.Wear with any colour of sweater and shirt that takes your fancy. Personally, I like a blue button-down shirt and a charcoal merino wool polo-collar from Ralph Lauren. With flannels or dark jeans, as the mood dictates.
Published in Style
Friday, 01 April 2011 01:18

The best books on men’s style

Dressing the Man Alan Flusser The best books on men’s styleClassic men’s style is well suited to scholarly erudition, based as it is in so much history and the trends that speak of centuries rather than seasons. But reading the history of men’s clothing won’t get you very far towards knowing what to wear yourself. You need both. And the best books that have been written on classic men’s style include a mix, albeit with varying degrees of success in the mixture.It is important to know what kind of book you’re getting, and hopefully this guide will give you a decent place to start.Dressing the Man, by Alan FlusserThe first book I ever read in this area and still by far and away the best in my opinion. It is a practical guide to what suit to wear, what colours to wear and what combinations to make with the other parts of your clothing, all seen through the perspective of history and tradition. Entertainingly written and the only book to include pull-out sections with shirt and suit swatches, this is your starting point.Savile Row, The Master Tailors of British Bespoke, by James SherwoodThe other side of the historical/contemporary spectrum, this book will tell you almost nothing about what to wear other than to be inspired by the sumptuous photography. It is a big book, almost a coffee table in itself, and it makes full use of that size to dazzle and delight with sartorial detail. It is also a fantastic history of Savile Row’s tailors, informed by Sherwood’s work on the archives of many of the Row’s finest houses. Entertaining, despite its potted-history approach, and the best place to learn about British tailoring.Elegance, A Guide to Quality in Menswear, by Bruce BoyerSadly now out of print, but available second hand online at very reasonable prices, this is a collection of essays written during Boyer’s time as fashion editor at Town & Country magazine. He takes narrow topics for each chapter (the polo coat, packing, polyester) and expounds its history and rightful place in contemporary menswear. Elegantly and amusingly written, this manages to find a unique voice and unique subjects in a crowded market.A History of Men’s Fashion, by Farid ChenouneAgain out of print but available online and on the library circuit. Chenoune’s history is extremely thorough and runs from 1760 to the 1980s. His French perspective on fashion (this edition is a translation by Deke Dusinberre) gives a fresh angle on almost every trend of the past 250 years, but is particularly valuable during the eighteenth century discussion and exploration of the 1960s in France.Sharp Suits, by Eric MusgraveListed lower down only for its likelihood to overlap with books you have already read, and those above. Musgrave’s book contains great imagery and excels as a rapid history of the suit in the twentieth century. That is really what it should be sub-titled.Also worth of mention:Style and the Man, by Alan Flusser – More of a series of essays on quality, followed by a list of the best stores (Boyer’s Elegance is also good on that point, though a little out of date now)The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style – An entertaining explanation of the rules of menswear, it is let down by the slightly odd style that is intended to mimic Machiavelli, and the lack of illustrationsGentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion, by Bernhard Roetzel – Very good on the best men’s stores and with good illustrations, it pales in comparison to Flusser for guidance on what to wearABC of Men’s Fashion, by Hardy Amies – Exactly what it says, an alphabetical list of menswear with pithy takes on each one. Worth adding to any list. Amies’s The Englishman’s Suit is also worth picking upHistory of Men’s Fashion, by Nicholas Storey – Not really a history, but packed full of unusual facts and particularly strong on evening wearHand of the Artisan, by Jonathan Lobban – Commissioned by The Rake magazine, this is a whistle-stop tour around the great craft houses of Italy. Best of its photography, and includes furniture, jewellery and cars as well as clothes
Published in Style
Monday, 07 March 2011 14:37

How to wear tailoring without a suit

jcrew grey tweed sportcoat How to wear tailoring without a suitA jacket like this but, you know, well madeSuits don’t necessarily fit into everyone’s day-to-day life. For some, in an office full of corporate lawyers, a suit is a necessity and a uniform. It is almost harder to take an interest in clothing that is imposed on you in this way. For other men, the barrier to developing a sartorial interest is the lack of suits in the office. Dressing up when everyone else is dressed down will draw attention; not everyone wants that kind of attention. Trying to show off? Who do you think you are? You’re not impressing anyone you know.My advice is, dressing well is a question of degrees. So take what your peers wear and up it a notch.
My brother works in advertising. The dress is extremely relaxed. When the Ashes are on TV, and music plays continuously when there isn’t a suitable sporting event, the attitude to attire is unlikely to be strict. I’m not sure it’s encouraged to wear shorts in the summer, but it isn’t forbidden. Mad Men it ain’t.A suit, shirt and tie would certainly be out of place. But there remain many sartorial possibilities. The key items to dressing well (and, let’s face it, the routes to the most pleasure) are jackets and shoes. So let’s put our hypothetical advertising executive in a light grey, herringbone jacket and brown cap-toe Oxfords. He can wear a bespoke shirt if he wants – precisely ironed, windsor collar – or an old, beaten-up favourite from Brooks Brothers. It doesn’t matter really: as long as he wears the jacket most of the time, its sculpted, flattering lines will make him look good without showing off. He can also wear jeans, preferably in a straight or narrow cut, in order not to distract from the tailoring above the waist, but otherwise of a make and price tag of his choosing. The legs will be perfectly finished off by the cap-toes, which will be benchmade in England, perhaps even bespoke, and so suggest sophistication with the turn of their waist and angled heel. All without shouting.Bespoke is best, but the bald fact is that any thought put into clothing today will stand out. If not bespoke, then made to measure. If not MTM, then at least a ready made suit with a handful of adjustments. To sculpt the waist and bring the sleeves up to the correct length. As to the shoes, start with something well-made and move up one step at a time. If you’re in the US, begin with a nice pair of cordovan Aldens. Then perhaps something English, an Edward Green. Finally, turn to the masters of bespoke when tastes and wallet have expanded to that point.The point is, this man would appear casual, relaxed in any office short of an Australian surfing-tour company. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie to be well put-together. You just need an attachment to the classics of style and, most of all, to fit.Oh, and one last suggestion: rather than wear something that shows off, like a flowery pocket handkerchief, add a cardigan underneath the jacket in a dark colour like navy. It flatters in just the same way as a waistcoat, but doesn’t look cheap (all waistcoats do unless they are tailored – it’s just impossible to make something fitting that close to the skin in a standard model).
Published in Style
Thursday, 10 February 2011 17:02

My daily inspiration

Tommy Ton at Pittu Uomo My daily inspirationCheck out Tommy Ton's work on GQ USAI wouldn’t wish that everyone dressed like me. But it’s hard sometimes to find inspiration for the day’s dress when all around you is a sea of jogging bottoms, polyester and denim.For those that get great pleasure from thinking about what they wear, and a particular thrill from a well-cut jacket and starch-sharp shirt collar, this is my experience on where I find my daily inspiration. I’d be glad to hear yours.The greatest comes from reading. There are of course many films in which the dress inspires, but reading is closer to hand and more quickly consumed. It would take up much of one’s life if it required watching a classic movie every evening in order to feel stimulated for the following day’s dress. Though you’d learn a lot about films in the process.No, reading is the key. First off is the internet, again because of ease and speed. Great blogs are few and far between, but Will’s thoughts on A Suitable Wardrobe often spark a raid through the closet and when Scott Schuman covers men on The Sartorialist, which sadly seems to be less often these days, there is usually some takeaway on classic Italiana. Scott’s virtue in this respect is that his taste in menswear is far narrower than women’s. So while it may be more sporadic, it is more consistently inspiring.Industry shows like Pitti are a great occasion for such inspiration, and this year Tommy Ton’s coverage of the streets – as well as those at the Milan shows, to a lesser extent – has been a revelation. Although he is probably less consistent than Scott, the emphasis on details is great. From this year’s shots my takeaways are tan corduroy and buttonhole pins.The style forums are a wonderful resource for research, but in my experience less useful for daily inspiration. While the threads illustrating what readers are wearing that day are impressively eclectic, there is rarely one good idea in 10. Cynically, the lack of professional photography probably doesn’t help either.Books are next. I’m currently reading James Sherwood’s latest take on Savile Row, the coffee table book released last year. While dealing almost exclusively with historical dress, the wealth and richness of photography get the blood pumping (further evidence of the importance of good-looking shots).Inspirational magazines are rare. I think The Rake is the best by some margin, but then I would say that – I write for it. (I know, equally, that my own site, Permanent Style, inspires men around the world, but it’s hardly an independent recommendation.) The GQ Essentials twice-yearly supplement is worth a look, as is Esquire’s Big Black Book in the US. Fantastic Man is better written than any other fashion magazine, but its taste in clothes tends not to be classic.Shops provide some inspiration, but when most clothing is bought bespoke you are limited to those retailers that produce good tailoring – Ralph Lauren, Zegna, Tom Ford among them. Equally, sorting through my own closet is unlikely to dig up that many forgotten outfits; it’s not on that scale quite yet.Which leaves me with you, dear reader, the man on the street. For to come full circle, while I would not wish that everyone was sartorially obsessed, it is a wonderful feeling to see someone walking towards you that inspires in his originality. Yesterday there was a man with a purple cardigan under a navy suit that did just that. It brought up memories of an old Sartorialist shot, of a Bergdorf Goodman window I believe.That kind of inspiration is wonderful and unexpected. Here’s hoping these words produce some more of it.
Published in Style
Thursday, 13 January 2011 15:25

Remember texture

Drakes grenadine tie Remember textureDrake's grenadine tieI think if you were to categorise the main aspects of cloth, they would fall into colour, pattern and texture. That’s probably the order most men would notice those aspects in as well, but I would argue their importance is the other way around.Not that you can wear a lime green suit if the texture is right, but rather that the more sophisticated a dresser you become, the more you will concentrate on and find pleasure in the end of that list. It’s about pattern and texture, and even texture is merely pattern on a small scale.When you’re trying to explain why the surface of a suit looks dull, it’s because it lacks texture. When you’re trying to explain why you like the look of one cloth over another, but can’t quite put your finger on why, it’s because one is a nail head and one an end-on-end.It’s fair to say that this focus on texture can be taken too far. Woven silk ties, for example, come in reppe, end-on-end, grenadine and oxford, plus variations in scale of the weave. Each of those four certainly looks different, at least up close, but the differences are minor compared to satins, foulards, wool and knitted silk. I’ve yet to find an outfit that just doesn’t work with a grenadine, but shines with an oxford-weave. It’s a level of detail that it’s not worth getting into, unless you have nothing better to do.But big changes in texture change an outfit fundamentally. Flannel and mohair, for example, could not be more different or have more diverse associations. Silk and woollen ties equally. Each must be considered for propriety and harmony as carefully as the scale of a pattern or addition of a pocket handkerchief. Mohair is not for a sombre business meeting. Woollen ties will strongly echo the woollen look of a flannel suit: only wear them together if you consciously want that effect. Tweed is different – it talks to a wool tie rather than mimicking it. The texture is different.To begin with, I recommend experimenting with the textures of your suit and your tie. Try woollen and knitted ties, perhaps with your normal worsted suit. Try a flannel suit, with your normal printed silk tie. The difference in texture of a shirt is too minor to bother with, unless you start wearing chambray or cotton/cashmere mixes.Texture in a suit will often save an outfit from appearing too dull. It gives life in the same way a small glen plaid or herringbone will do. Texture in a tie should be seen as a real alternative to pattern. Rather than buy another striped tie, try swapping your navy reppe for a navy knitted silk – the effect of such deep texture is startling; it sucks in the light.Remember the importance of texture. Style is subtle.
Published in Style
Sunday, 10 April 2011 21:24

The perfect polo shirt

Al Bazar Polo Shirt The perfect polo shirtShirts can be hard to wear casually. Even the biggest fan of bespoke shirting for wear with his suits during the working week can find himself defaulting to a T-shirt under knitwear at the weekend. I suggest the alternative of a long-sleeved polo shirt.Shirts can be difficult in leisure time for many reasons. One is that the shirts one has made for the week are often not suitable for wear without a tie – without enough rise, or a button-down to support them, the collar of a shirt can collapse apologetically beneath the neckline of a jacket or sweater.So you might have to have shirts specifically made for time off. The alternative is ready-to-wear chambray or oxford shirts, but once you’ve got used to bespoke shirts that fit perfectly and sit long enough beneath the waistband, it can be hard to return to these ill-fitting, always-untucking cousins.Another reason is that the things one wears over a shirt at the weekend aren’t necessarily designed for it. A jacket is rare. A V-neck or round-neck sweater will probably suit wearing with a shirt, but it is unlikely that both will. And more casual mid-layers like hooded sweaters and old sweatshirts do not sit well with a shirt.A T-shirt, on the other hand, will go with all of them. Presuming it is well made and well fitting, a T-shirt cannot fail to look good and requires no thought whatsoever – which is frequently what one wants at the weekend.T-shirts are fine. But it is nice to have an alternative. Particularly when you feel like wearing a soft, unstructured blazer at the weekend or a shawl-collared sweater – something that looks so much better if the layer underneath has a collar.Best in that regard is the polo shirt. Long-sleeved, so that it fits well under a jacket and doesn’t leave any skinny wrist on display during gesticulation. High-collared if possible – that is, with the same height of collar as your weekday shirts – so that it doesn’t disappear beneath the neckline or lapel of the layer above just as readily as a ready-to-wear shirt. And fitted right: slim enough in the body to appear more than sportswear, of the right length to either tuck easily into the trousers or sit just in front of them without bagging.I admit, there aren’t many of these long-sleeved polo shirts around. Don’t worry: anything that meets just some of these criteria will be a nice alternative to the T. But just so you know, the perfect specimen is a piece created by the Italian shirt company Guy Rover (despite the name, but then Tod’s was picked to sound American too) for Al Bazar, the idiosyncratic little shop in Milan owned by Lino Ieluzzi. He is pictured above, wearing a white version.  Lino has achieved worldwide fame as a result of exposure on The Sartorialist, and in magazines such as The Rake (to which this writer is a contributor). However, he has long had a passionate following among sartorialists with a small s, particularly in Japan. Milan isn’t best recommended for those seeking quality and craft in clothes, but Al Bazar is certainly worth a visit.
Published in Style
Saturday, 02 April 2011 17:24

What have you learned from bespoke?

attention What have you learned from bespoke?He would have been measured like this. You shouldn't beThis was a question put to me the other day by a friend. He was asking about shoes, but I think it applies equally to suiting, shirts and other items of dress. Hopefully you will find my response interesting.1 It will not be perfectBespoke clothing is a wonderful thing, but the first time you have anything made it won’t be perfect. There are three reasons for this. One, it is handmade, an individual item with minor flaws (or perhaps just characteristics). Without them, it would have been made by a machine. Second, you’re new at this, and chances are you can’t describe the image in your head accurately. Third, so is the craftsman. As good as his first attempt to fit anything to you will be, there will always be something he would like to do different the second time around.2 Act naturallyThis covers the fact that you have to stand naturally when you are being measured – particularly for suit. Laugh, flex your hands, move your feet; try not to look like a man who has just heard the command ‘attention!’ The point also covers the fact that you should consider how you wear your clothes. Don’t buy a Super 140s suit if you go drinking and leave your suit on the floor when you get home. Don’t get super thin soles if you never remember to check whether it’s going to rain before leaving the house.3 Ignore what people say about other peopleSad as it may be, tailoring and shoemaking are bitchy businesses. Everyone has some form of grudge and everyone is some form of salesman. Never trust a tailor who says he is the only man who can cut a good suit. From the opposite point of view, a cutter once told me: “Someone came in and said he’d been to Caraceni, Anderson & Sheppard, Camps de Luca, Huntsman and Poole, and they were all terrible. He asked me to measure him. I showed him the door. That man will never be satisfied.”4 Be conservativeThis is investment dressing. Investments should be conservative. They need to last the fickle fancies of fashion and – more importantly – they need to last through your personal changes in taste. Get a navy single-breasted suit and a black pair of lace-up shoes. Then get a mid-grey single-breasted suit and a dark brown pair of lace-up shoes. Then blue again for the suit, perhaps double-breasted or a flannel, and another pair of black shoes, perhaps a Derby. Ties and socks are much easier to swap than suits and shoes. And a navy suit can be Italian classicist or American prep, depending on what you wear it with.5 Do itI once saw someone comment on a forum that he was interested in discussions about bespoke, but was never going to do it himself. The results appeared to be too volatile, given the money. Ignore forums. They are talking over minutiae. They are never going to spend pages talking about the fact that all the bespoke suits they are comparing make them look better than 99% of men in the world. Because it’s obvious, a given. They’ve all accepted that and moved on to discuss the Tautz lapel. If you like the idea of bespoke and can afford it, then do it. You won’t regret it. People will always have one tiny thing they dislike about your suit. But it’s not theirs. It’s yours.Simon Crompton is the author of Permanent Style
Published in Style
Thursday, 03 March 2011 19:44

The different formalities of shoes

finsbury balmoral brogue mahogany 011 Custom The different formalities of shoesThis is a casual shoe. Can you point out why? (Lodger Finsbury shoe)As with much of menswear, there exists a sliding scale of the formality of footwear that the obsessive can get caught up in if he so chooses. I think this is generally to sacrifice the beauty of personal expression to the uniformity of correctness – a correctness that doesn’t exist today and, much to the disappointment of many, never existed in the first place. (It is a similar disappointment to the revelation that Italians don’t dress particularly well as a whole, very few Englishmen wear the good suits their country is famous for, and Americans wear Ralph Lauren polo shirts but otherwise singularly fail to look like Ralph Lauren.)However, there are some differences in shoes that are worth remembering. Here they are.Some shoes are entirely inappropriate for some occasions, even today. You wouldn’t wear an out-welt cordovan boot to a black tie dinner, and you wouldn’t wear a velvet slipper to go tromping through the countryside. Those are probably the two ends of the spectrum of formality, and the key thing to notice is the difference in delicacy. Formal shoes are delicate, casual shoes are rough. Just like worsted and tweed, or satin and knitted wool. The point is universal.Apply this to every type of shoe. A derby is more casual than an oxford because it has two humping facings strapped across the instep. A brogue is more casual than a whole cut because, well because of the broguing. It breaks up the line of the shoe and makes itnjagged. A leather sole is more formal; a thinner sole is more formal; a closer-cut welt is more formal. You get the idea.This is worth remembering because there is an actual, noticeable difference in the formality of a derby with a double sole, broguing and outwelt stitching, and an Oxford, lace-up whole-cut. It’s the kind of difference that someone will notice at a job interview. Perhaps not consciously. Plus if you have ignored this part of your outfit, doubtless other elements are just that little bit too casual and unconsidered. It makes an impression.So that’s worth being aware of. What it’s not worth losing sleep over is whether a derby can be worn with a worsted suit. For a start, there are many many types of derby. Some have just two holes and the facings are cut so high you barely see them under the trouser leg. They present merely a glorious, shiny expanse of very-formal leather. Smarter than a rubber-soled Oxford half-brogue certainly. Stating that it is not correct to wear a derby with worsted (because it is a casual, country shoe suited only to tweed or – at the most – flannel) is to draw a misleading hard line.Second, any rule would be self-defeating, even if it were easy to define. A derby shoe is just as appropriate as a wool tie. Denying both and confining a man to worsted, silk and Oxfords is to defeat the self-expression that lies at the heart of good dress. No one who plays entirely by the rules has ever been considered a good dresser – and not because they merely stood out by innovating, but because to be a good dresser, to develop style, you have to be encouraged in your dress and feel free to revel in it. Otherwise you are merely the man in the grey flannel suit. It doesn’t matter how much I love grey flannel (and I do, oh I do), if everyone wears it and I’m being told to wear it then it cannot be stylish.Understand the rules so you know how to break them. Understand the formality of shoes.
Published in Style
Wednesday, 09 February 2011 02:56

Geeky facts on ties and lapels

Tie suit shots 012 Custom Geeky facts on ties and lapelsTwo quick geeky facts this week.Today calling something a seven-fold tie often just means that it is multi-fold – more than three folds in the silk. That isn’t because of dishonest marketing or capitalistic shortcuts. Rather, different ways of counting folds have simply become confused. Particularly in Italy, that phrase refers to a technique rather than an actual number of folds.That can cause problems – one friend ordered ties from a small Italian manufacturer recently that were described as six folds. He ended up with rather chunky 12s. So let’s explain how to count folds and get it straight.Most normal ties have three obvious folds. If you look at the back of the front blade, the silk has been folded in on itself on either side, and one of those flaps has just been tucked under creating a small, third fold.Now while retaining the same width of those two sides, the silk can be folded in on itself almost as many times as you like. You just have to start with more silk, and the tie becomes thicker.The folds go right through the tie (or do on a good one) and can be seen on the back blade, though this might be hard to see as the first folds will be quite high up inside.You can spot an actual seven fold because for a tie to have an uneven number it must either have a little lip like the three-folds (unlikely on a multi-fold) or the folds must overlap and concertina into each other. Many ‘seven-folds’ are actually sixes, which is obvious because the two sides don’t overlap – it must be a six, or at least an even number.Then again, many think the best structure for a tie is a six-fold with minimal lining. It’s largely a question of taste – as with Super-100 numbers, bigger isn’t necessarily better.Next, why there’s nothing wrong with a peak lapel.The peak lapel comes down to us from formal day wear, more specifically the morning coat that was the standard dress for Victorians in England and formal attire for decades afterwards. The morning coat had tails, a peak collar and was single breasted – though often cut so that it was not meant to be closed.A dinner jacket should have peaked lapels because it is a direct descendant of this coat, the tails being lopped off to make the look more casual and comfortable for less formal occasions. Equally, the rather overlooked ‘stroller’ jacket style also has peaked lapels. This is a black jacket without tails and without the silk facings of a dinner jacket, but often worn formally with grey trousers and made from a luxurious cloth like cashmere.As all these examples should show, there is nothing necessarily wrong with peaked lapels on a single-breasted suit jacket. Just bear in mind that they are more formal than notch lapels, and should be treated as such.
Published in Style


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