Wednesday, 24 November 2010

On the Fair Isle…A look at the hottest trend in men's knitwear.

The cold has set in and people are now donning their finest knits to keep warm.
This a/w has seen one of the most traditional and eye-catching knits make a much welcomed comeback.
That knit is Fair Isle.

Brought into the realms of popular men’s fashion by that original 20th century dandy the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) when he took to wearing Fair Isle sweater vests in 1921.
Named after Fair Isle, a tiny island in the north of Scotland the knitting technique uses multiple colours. The Traditional Fair Isle pattern has a limited palette of five or so colours, using only two colours per row, which are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run of any particular colour.
But more recently the term Fair Isle applies to a wide range of knits that use several colours knitted in a blocks of varying patterns.

Fair Isle knits have a classically British feel with the heritage of 1930s-1950s enthused through the knits.
The dazzling use of contrasting colours and zigzag patterns were a much needed splash of colour to menswear’s often drab colour palette. Even almost 90 years later the effect is still the same – eye-catching, fun and stylish.

Recently designers such as Ralph Lauren (always a pioneer in heritage knits and Anglophilia) have produced some authentic vintage style Fair Isle pieces ranging from classic sweater vests (or ‘tank tops’ depending on your inclination) through to modern chunky knit cardigans with shawl necks.

This recent trend doesn’t stop there – Fair Isle has been applied to scarf trims, mittens and gloves. If it’s knitted it can be Fair Isle. From top designers through to the Great British high street all have welcomed the trend with open arms.

It’s taken a while for them to cotton on to this trend which has been years in the making. Original Fair Isle jumpers in vintage outlets have been much coveted items in recent years and these wonderful second hand boutiques were often the only place to get an authentic Fair Isle. But with the new trend high on the crest of the wave of style it’s now accessible to well dressed men about town everywhere.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The problem with backpacks...

The journey in to work is never going to be the most amazing of trips but recently I have seen something that I found truly shocking…

As I endure my daily commute, my eyes have been drawn to something so terrible that I find it hard to retell…

On more than one occasion I have had the dismay of witnessing an average businessman wearing his well-made well-tailored suit accessorised with nothing other than a shabby backpack.

Wearing a backpack when you are not hiking or in fulltime education is bad enough but to put so much effort into making yourself look professional and smart, and then to go and ruin it with a backpack is just baffling.

It is not only a crime against fashion, but does it really send out the best message? When a promotion is on the table it could just be the difference between you and Dave from accounts with the dapper briefcase.

Ok, so perhaps I am getting carried away, but detail is important both in outfitting and at work. ‘What can I use instead?’ I hear you cry, well, the obvious and most traditional bag for men of the working world has always been the briefcase. The briefcase has recently been enjoying a renaissance and all the top designers now offer their update on the menswear accessory classic.

But then there is also the satchel with a shoulder strap that makes it both incredibly stylish and practical. Then, of course there is the modern ‘man bag’, in fact there’s a wealth of stylish yet practical options for us chaps to choose from for work. There is really no excuse.

I personally like to match my bag with the rest of my leathers of that day, so for example; if I’m wearing brown leather loafers, my belt and watch will be in the same shade along with my bag for the day. It makes a subtle but confident statement. But for your first transition from backpack to grown ups bag, just a stylish bag is enough.

So men of the city I appeal to you to please bin your backpacks and invest in a new bag that you can carry off with style, let the backpack wear you no more and show Dave in accounts just who’s boss.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

How to buy men's coats

With winter well on the horizon we are all thinking about our winter wardrobes.
Especially with coats and jackets.
Buying outerwear can be a daunting experience with so many different styles and fabrics around. But it really need not be. I like to buy a new winter coat every year and 2010 is no exception.
Along the way I learned a few tips to help you get the perfect coat and the most out of your outerwear this season.

It helps to break your criteria down through questions and answers you need to ask yourself. This way through a process of elimination you’ll be left with your winning coat. Parfait!

1) Do I wear smart clothes often?/Do I want a smart coat?
If you often wear smart clothes or are after a coat for wearing to and from work then a smartly tailored coat is going to be the best choice for you. Coats like a clean lined wool coat go perfectly well over suiting as well as keeping you warm.

2) Do I wear navy trousers or black trousers more?
Colour is always a personal choice but as every well dressed man-about-town knows mixing navy with black is a no-no. So if you personally favour navy trousers then aim for colours such as browns and greens that enhance and set off blues wonderfully.
If you tend to wear black trousers then of course you can wear black coats but also grey shades make a classically striking contrast.
Grey coats can also go with navy trousers so if you wear both black and navy shades then a grey coat is the one for you.

3)What size should I get?
Obviously try your regular size first. I’ve always tried to make sure there is allowance of space for thick knitwear or suits underneath the coat so it’s wise to keep this in mind whey purchasing your winter coat. When trying on the coat the key areas to focus on are the shoulders, cuffs and chest.
Do the shoulders sit well on your frame? Make sure they are not continuing after your shoulders end. Are the cuffs touching the end of your wrist/beginning of your hand?
Sleeves that are too short make you look like you’ve had the coat for a while and you’ve outgrown it (think back to that child in your primary school class who was forever wearing ‘half-mast’ trousers and shrunken jumpers) which is never a good look.
The chest is another key area. Use your normal chest size as a guide. The fit of the chest should be neither too big nor too small.

4)What style? This is where you can let your personality and style shine through.
Keeping in mind the times you’ll be wearing the coat most will help you decide between a smart or casual design. 2010 A/W’s coats for men have two clear winners as the must-haves of the season.

The duffle coat is a timeless classic that has made a comeback in a big way.
With the essential toggle fastenings, hood and warm wool fabric the duffle coat instantly conjures up images of school days, rioting 1960s Parisian students and Paddington bear. Go for either a traditional design or one of the many updated styles on offer.

Quilted jackets first created by Barbour are the other ‘on-trend’ choice and there are a wealth of options available. With the diamond quilted design these jackets give you excellent warmth.
I often refer to mine as my ‘portable duvet’ as it’s so cosy it’s like walking around in your bedding. These jackets exude country style. The perfect choice for winter, quilted jackets look great worn with both jeans or tailored trousers for that archetypal city boy look.

Whatever your style, whatever your outerwear needs there are many coats out there for you to choose from and make your own.