Saturday, 22 October 2011

Autumn/Winter menswear trends 2011

This A/W sees menswear really come into it’s own.
With confident designs and eye-catching new ways to wear old classics, there is a look for everyman to take him into the coming months with informed style and confidence.

Velvet jackets

Inspired sartorial luxury. Velvet jackets are the sophisticate’s choice for eveningwear this season. Seen in single and double-breasted designs on the catwalks of Lanvin, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, the velvet jacket captures the very essence of masculine elegance.

Traditional knitwear

Part of the heritage trend, traditional knitwear as seen in Raf Simons and Burberry Prorsum’s collections focuses on patters such as Fair Isle and cable knits for a warm texture and eye-catching depth of design.

Polo neck jumpers

Polo neck jumpers are an ideal way to capture retro style with a modern twist.
Worn on out and proud or underneath tailored jackets, the look was distinctly lounge lizard.
Salvatore Ferragamo used polo neck jumpers as a key feature in their A/W 11 collection teaming them with blazers and jackts for a layered effect.


One of the most famous checks tartan is back with a vengeance this A/W.
From subtle dark hued pieces in Maison Martin Margiela through to the full on red tartan outfits of Moncler Gamme Bleu’s collection, an army of designers had created their version of the tartan trend. Whether it’s a whole tartan jacket or just a tartan side, this trend is one for every braveheart of style this season.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Men’s footwear: Gentleman, choose your summer shoes

Not that long ago it was only grandad sandals and cheap backpacker flip flops (which are beyond impractical when worn in the city) that were the only options for summer footwear.

But in recent years men have had a lot more freedom in terms of choice in footwear when the heat is on. From the white canvas pumps craze through to the irrepressible deck shoes and finally resting with last year’s driving shoes, there is now a plethora of comfortable, casual and (most importantly?) cool men’s summer shoes on offer.

Let’s break down the hot favourites and discuss them:

These really are the love/hate shoes out of the category.
With the key features of canvas uppers and woven straw soles these shoes are easy to wear and perfect for park life as well as seafront strolling.
A friend asked me recently what I thought about them as they were considering buying them but were worried they would look scruffy. I think it’s all about how you wear them.
Wear them with clean lined tailored shorts/chino shorts and a classic polo shirt or shirt for a French Rivera cool.
If you go for a white pair make sure you don’t let them get too dirt and avoid wearing them with jean shorts otherwise you’ll look like Wham! Circa 1983.
Espadrilles should always be worn without socks

Deck shoes

The ultimate shoe of choice for the preppy man about town and once much maligned, but the deck shoe (or boat shoe as it’s often also called. They are one and the same) came back like a phoenix from the ashes and has positioned itself as a staple of menswear. These easy-to-wear amazingly comfortable and hardwearing shoes are smart enough to wear with chinos yet casual enough to wear with jeans or shorts.

Traditionally they are worn without socks but I personally think that if you’re wearing them with trousers socks are acceptable and practical in hot weather.

Canvas shoes by Victoria
Simple, washable and versatile. Canvas shoes come in a wide range of designs to suit all tastes. Perfect for park, beachside, poolside and holiday wear these shoes look best with shorts.
For a classic 1950s/1960s gent inspired look why not wear checked tailored shorts with a fresh polo shirt, raybans and canvas shoes.This outfit is really complemented with short white socks for an authentic nod to old world style (think Don Draper on holiday and you’re half way there).
Finish the look with classic RayBans and a straw trilby for the penultimate summer man-about-town style.

Weejun driving shoes, 1964
For the more dashing style driving shoes cut a slick edge. A firm favourite of French and Italian men these comfortable shoes straddle the line of smart/casual perfectly. Often in luxurious suedes driving shoes are defined by their unique soles.
Versions with fringe details or boat shoe inspired cording through the sides these bad boys are great for wearing with jeans, shirt and a lightweight tailored jacket or for a more casual approach wear with tailored shorts and shirt. N.B: Identity bracelet and Italian accent are optional.

Ariel and Shimon Ovadia

Friday, 10 June 2011

Giorgio Armani Code Sport: Tried and tested

When the lovely Beauty Department gave me a sample of Giorgio Armani’s latest men’s fragrance, Armani Code Sport – I wasn't expecting to like it as I'm not a massive Armani fan when it comes to clothing but I was pleasantly surprised. Just one inhale straight from the bottle and I knew this was very much ‘my sort of thing’.

It was not the overpowering classically Italian pungent smell I'd expected. If you haven’t heard of this fragrance then it’s because Armani Code Sport is the latest addition to Giorgio Armani’s wide range of fragrances. It comes in a masculine matt black glass bottle with sleek, sloping lines and a silver top – and the scent captures the true essence of Armani, distilling it into a fresh eau de toilette.

The fragrance itself has a burst of mint for a fresh and unique top note, while the heart of the scent is citrus fruits, which is both awakening and deliciously zingy. Armani Code Sport is a breath of fresh air that goes against the grain of some other over-empowering male fragrances – and its seductive, relaxed and light nature makes it suitable for wearing pretty much anytime.

My verdict?

It’s exactly what I’d choose to wear day or night this summer: the ideal scent for a modern man with a discerning sense of quality and style.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 - The new men’s fragrance line

When I heard Lacoste were launching a new men’s fragrance I could hardly contain my excitement. As a huge fan of the long established high-end clothing brand I was keen to see what the new men’s scent range would be like.

The ethos of the fragrances is that the Lacoste L.12.12 polo shirt is now captured in a fragrance collection.
They not only capture the spirit of the brand but also transform fragrance notes into a melange of moods and emotions to evoke the very spirit of the iconic shirt – unforgettably cool, crisp, elegant and effortlessly stylish. Words I most certainly aspire to, so their appeal was instantaneous before I’d even smelt them.

The bottles of scent are beautifully presented in boxes with a strong polo shirt theme. The boxes have a pique weave textured print along with the essential Lacoste green crocodile logo in a raised design to the corner of the package.

The bottles themselves are designed to echo the essence of the polo shirt itself. With a sleek and minimal silhouette, the bottles feature pique-inspired mesh indented to the sides. And like the polo shirts, the bottles of scent also bare an embroidered fabric crocodile.

The range consists of three different scents: Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Bleu, Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Vert and Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Blanc.
The Eau de Lacoste range is wonderfully versatile. The collection is perfect for the day due to their light, clean and fresh nature but would not be out of place when worn in the evening for an understated elegant result.

The fragrances


As with the white polo shirt, Eau de Lacoste Blanc Edition exudes a pure, clean and elegant style.

With a fresh and crisp scent Blanc tickles your nose with a top note of grapefruit which is enhanced by spices cardamom and rosemary with a heart note of Mexican tuberose. The result is one of a masculine fragrance with a subtle sweetness with clean and refreshing outcome. The perfect scent for the audaciously stylish gentleman.

Bleu on inhale is like a refreshing burst of sea air. This powerful aquatic scent re-invents the classic fern fragrance category to give a strong sense of masculinity that sits well with traditionally male colour.
The fresh watery-fern notes of the fragrance are enhanced with a unique and subtle hint of peppermint. The scent is smoothed off with an aromatic concoction of sage and oak moss giving a very naturally clean and invigorating outcome.


This relaxed and outdoors scent is driven by a unique bamboo wood which creates a fresh and green ligneous character.
Notes of Italian bergamot impart a fresh and zingy nature which is further enhanced with notes of iced melon, birch leaf and sandalwood. It’s these natural elements that play up the woodland/outdoors effect of the fragrance.
Eau de Lacoste Vert succeeds in harnessing the living aromas of the great outdoors with a crisp finish. An ideal scent for a relaxed and calm mood.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Kyoku for men: Men's grooming tried and tested

I love toiletries, men’s grooming products, whatever you wish to call them, I love them!

So when the lovely ladies in the Beauty department at work asked me to trial Kyoku For Men, I jumped at the chance.

Designed specifically for men's skin by Asim Akhtar, Kyoku for Men products combine cutting-edge skincare technology with effective natural ingredients.
Kyoku for Men incorporates ancient Japanese knowledge of the active properties in natural extracts with up to the minute scientific research, resulting in the ultimate luxury grooming line for the active urban lifestyle.

The body products range is broken up into the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. I was drawn to the wind selection so I picked these.

Kyoku for men wind body wash
 I began my regime with the wind body wash.

In a rectangle shaped bottle with a push top lid I struggled somewhat with getting a decent squeeze/pouring action into my hand.

Once successfully decanted the green tinted liquid that oozed from the bottle smelt wonderfully fresh. Perfect for awakening your senses in the morning. The fresh light herbal scent smelt naturally clean and not overtly synthetic as with some shower gels. I found the body wash didn’t lather up as I’d expected but this wasn’t an issue, just a point of difference.

If I had to use one word to sum up this product it’d be ‘invigorating’.

Kyoku for men wind body scrub

The body scrub
The liquid was clear with microbeads that gently yet effectively exfoliate the skin.
Some scrubs can be too harsh but this was perfect for my face as well as my neck and shoulders. I always use a scrub before shaving as this lifts the hairs.
The body scrub felt wonderful and my skin was left feeling refreshed whilst my face was sufficiently prepped for the next stage.

 Kyoku for men sake Infused shave crème
 The shave
As winner of ‘best shave product’ at the 2011 GQ Grooming Awards the Kyoku’s sake infused shave crème was one of the products I was most keen to trial. It came in a large pot that sits smartly on your bathroom shelf.
This smooth mint green hued crème had a pearlised sheen to it which I found rather inviting. The crème spread easily over my face with use of a bristle brush (but the packaging assures that you can also use your fingertips).
When I had finished sweeping my razor around my stubble I instantly noticed a subtle and pleasant tingling sensation that made my skin feel as if it’d had something of a renaissance.
Like all good men I quickly followed up my shave with a balm.

Kyoku for men razor repair balm
Kyoku for men razor repair balm
This light balm blended in well into my skin and unlike a lot of post balms was not at all oily and did not leave my hands covered in gunk. My skin now felt smooth and fresh.
The finishing product was an oil control lotion. I have naturally oily skin, which is great for warding off the wrinkles for a few years but is not pleasant with the much dreaded shine that so many of us men have to cope with.
I applied this to the bridge of my nose, forehead and the cheek area directly below my eyes as these are the areas prone to oiliness. The lotion was easily absorbed and left my skin soft, matt and ready for my busy work day ahead. I had just one product left to try.

Kyoku for men lip fuel

The lip fuel
With an SPF of 15 this avocado oil, peppermint and green tea leaf balm imparted a gentle softening and energizing feeling to my lips with a rather pleasant yet subtle tingling.
My lips were moisturised without looking girly and glossy.

All in all, I really enjoyed the products. They gave my daily grooming routine a compacted feeling of a spa day treatment. An excellent men’s grooming product range perfect for those who pride themselves on exquisite self maintenance.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Stonewashed jeans: Back from the brink

Their presence was noted both on the catwalks and in the audience of Fashion Week this year and they are clawing their way back into the Great British high street. Not only in Britain but also in Europe. Whilst I was on my annual trip to Stockholm, Sweden that I noticed in some of the painfully cool Scandinavian menswear magazines a few trend stories involving stonewashed denim. From that glimpse of effortlessly cool Swedish style in print I began to see jeans in literally a whole new light...(or should that be wash?)

Stone washing is the process used to give newly made denim a worn-out look. The fabric is placed in large industrial drums with stones (normally pumice) and spun so that the stones pound and beat the fabric for a softer feel with a vintage, repeatedly laundered look.
If someone had told me a few years ago that’d I’d soon be rushing out to buy jeans in the same hue as the ones I wore in 1988 (think Bros, The Smiths fans and Nick Kamen in that Levi’s launderette advert ), I’d have laughed.

Nick Kamen in 1980s Levi's advert
But last week I purchased my first pair of stone wash jeans (post 1980s of course).
I’m used to wearing slim or straight fit jeans in a dark 1950s style indigo shade, so I was really breaking out of my comfort zone in an ultra slim pair of stonewashed jeans.

And what a change they made! Not only did they give me a very 1980s rugged rock look but they made me feel quite edgy. I chose to keep it true to the 1980s inspiration and wore them with some canvas shoes and a grey sweater with a David Bowie print to the front.

ASOS authentic blue slim fit jeans
 As I always wear dark jeans for smart/work wear I decided there and then that my new stonewash jeans would be my jeans of choice for casual wear and weekends.

Due to their lighter shade stonewash denims are perfect for summer. Keep it classically cool and wear with a simple t-shirt, go for the indie kid look and team them with a graphic printed tee or update them with a simple tailored shirt.

For footwear canvas and deck shoes are an obvious choice but you could wear them with some classic brogues for a boho romantic look that’s sure to cut a fine figure of a man on the mean streets.
There is something wonderfully rebellious about worn looking stonewashed jeans (In a nonchalant kind of way of course).

With a wide range of cuts available to compliment your style and shape you’ll easily be able to find the perfect stonewash jeans in your preferred cut. So go on, break out of your comfort zone, tap into your inner 1980s rocker and get a pair of stonewash denims this spring/summer.

Classic 1980s Morrissey in all his stonewash denim glory

Sunday, 13 February 2011

How to get the perfect Mad Men style haircut

Often referred to as 'your crowning glory' hair can make or break a look. This is very true of the gentleman of both the past and of today.
With the ever changing fashions in hair it is becoming increasingly hard to find a good old fashioned barber who can do a classic 'short back 'n' sides' and do it well.
Here are a few tips on how to both get and keep that classic gentleman's cut that I have come by way of trial, error and research.

1950s barber at work
Finding the right barbers
This is no easy feat and I'm afraid the best way is largely down to risk-taking but if you have a friend or work colleague with a hairstyle that you admire the cut of then ask them where they went.
Also do not be afraid to stop a gentleman in the street with a dapper coiffure and ask who his barber is.
He will be flattered and surely only too happy to share his secret.
I'm fortunate enough to have two barbers that I swear by. One in my home town where I grew up and one near my work office.
My home town barbers is a traditional barbers. No fuss, very cheap pricing, good banter but experienced and thorough with their cuts.
The other is a high-end gentleman's 'hair salon' catering to the well heeled men of Marylebone. Again, the banter and cuts are second to none. Pricing is reasonable but more towards the higher end of the spectrum but not overpriced by any means.
Both are by appointment only as they are often busy so do be sure to ring ahead.

Have a browse via google or Yellow Pages and have a look at local barbers near your home or place of work. Look at their website (if they have one, most do not) and read the reviews.
Once you've shortlisted a few have a look at them in person. Do they look busy? A busy barbers is often a good sign. Are the premises clean and tidy? You don't want some filth merchant going near your ears with a soiled cutthroat! A short back and sides is one of the first cuts a young barber learns so there is really no excuse for A) not offering them and B) doing them badly.

Tapered, faded cut
The cut
Once you have discovered a good barbers that you're willing to try don't be afraid to tell them exactly what you're after. This helps them and will put you at ease in the knowledge that they know what you are after. Don't feel silly by bringing in pictures of the hairstyle you want. This helps them massively. Visual representation can only be a good thing.
Start off by asking for a 'classic short back and sides' if they ask you if you want it done with clippers say yes. A haircut done by scissors alone will look cheap and will soon grown out making it a waste of both time and money. Ask him to cut your hair 'tight and tapered on the sides and leave it long and full on the top.
If desired say you'd like a gentle fading at the back for an extra smart, clean and classic cut (see picture to the left).
If not done automatically ask your barber to use the cutthroat to finish off the edges and sideburns. You want short sideburns. Long ones are not becoming. You are not a hippy and they would completely throw off the clean slick look of your haircut.
And that's it! Sit back and enjoy.

Brylcreem - since 1928
The product
The best choice by far is Brylcreem. This easy to apply and gorgeous smelling hair cream has been styling men's hair since 1928. It instantly imparts a classic sheen as well as giving a light hold that doesn't give a nasty stiffness like gel or a gummy texture like wax. It's reasonably priced and also conditions the hair.
You can't go wrong with this and I swear by it.

Styling technique
After washing your hair with your favourite shampoo and conditioner loosely comb your hair with a wide tooth comb. Whilst your hair is still damp create a parting to your preferred side. (The most traditional side is the left if you want to play it safe).

The part should begin at the front of your hairline and use the arch of your brow to indicate where it should lie. Create the part to run straight to the top of your head before your crown starts to slope to the back.
Apply the Brylcreem through the hair, evenly but lightly. Remember the classic Brylcreem phrase 'A dab'll do yah' and that's all you'll need, just a dab. You don't want your hair to look like an oil slick. You're after a come hither silky sheen and glamorous gloss.

Don Draper - Mad Men
To get the right style, comb your left side of hair down from the part and slightly towards the back of the head at an angle. Then comb the top section of hair away from the part to the right side evenly. You can also comb the hair at the right hand side of your head slightly towards the back for an elegant sweep (see photo above of Mr Don Draper for reference). And now for the finishing touch - Take your comb and gently lift the front section of your hair from your peak upwards and back for a traditional and essential quiff. Not too high, you're a gentleman, not a rockabilly! You can push the front quiff of hair up from the back using your fingertips and tease with your comb for further lift. Then have a cigarette and a cup of morning coffee whilst you allow your hair to dry.
Once sufficiently dry you could use a light spritz of hairspray to hold your 'do in place. I find the more archaic brands of hairspray are the best! They are more economical and also impart a classic 1950s/1960s hold.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Of pen and ink...

Nothing says confidence like a handwritten letter or note.
In a time where emails and texts shoot through the air on invisible waves of communication the pen seems more and more antiquated with each new app or Word update.
I’m confident that this won’t kill off handwriting as we know it but just change, outline and redefine our perceptions of it.

At best a modern man of the world may reach for a ballpoint to sign off letters, but just imagine the quintessential masculine elegance of a fountain pen.
Picture the gently rolling curves of wet ink seeping into the fibres of paper as you drag the sharp nib along the parchment.

All men like a challenge to some degree and I challenge you now to go out and pick up a fountain pen. Don’t just use and abuse it, you must become a master of this fine tool. Cursive writing was created for use with proper ink and a nib (well, a quill back then to be precise) and this comes across in the writing.

Imagine how dapper you’d feel by whipping out a slick Parker fountain pen from your breast pocket to sign a cheque or business document.
Even if you just use it for Christmas, birthday and Valentine’s cards, the recipient will take note and appreciate your efforts, for the markings of a proper fountain pen are unmistakable.