Blog #1: Italian Style the English Way
Renowned the world over for their elegance and beauty, Italian women frequently feature in lists of who to lust after. Yet Italian men hold as much glamour and grace as their feminine counterparts when it comes to stylish dressing.
Arguably, the two international centres of excellently made, exquisitely tailored suiting are here in the UK, in Savile Row, and in the numerous cloth houses in Italy. Each catering for quite a different clientele, both still succeed in producing fabulous menswear for the discerning chap-about-town. And if you’re the sort of chap who likes to wear his suits with less English stiff-upper-lip and more sunny exuberance, then Italian companies like Canali, Brioni and Corneliani are the place to start.
Like their English equivalents, the pure detail and craftsmanship that goes towards making their menswear is down to a large part in the pride imparted to the ‘Made in Italy’ label. For Canali, this means specialised workshops in, and fabrics all from, Italy itself; for Corneliani, it’s inspiration from their architectural and design surroundings. Brioni, whose experimental work with fabrics and colours creates items like the bronze polished linen dinner jacket, has in turn dressed stars like Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Richard Gere: all men of undoubtedly impeccable taste.
Italian style has elements of classical styling, but generally tends towards a leaner, trimmer silhouette. Like the relaxed ambience of a cosmopolitan café, suit styles give off an air of restrained sophistication through their deployment of softer garment shapes.
The 1950s saw a boom in the popularity of Italian fashion, including menswear, and the iconic look of this time is one that has remained at the heart of its design: the cut of the jacket to emphasis broad shoulders, a slimmed waist, and the overall lines to create a confident, ‘tall’ form.
Layered onto this are the subtle details each season brings. Retaining the classic elements, Canali has introduced waistcoats with lower-cut fronts, displaying more of a crisp shirt and well-knotted tie. The retro-styled, peaked lapels are an injection of a generally more American-English look, combined with fabrics with traditional English texture – such as plaids and checks – but in lighter European materials. However, the preppy, boyish charm of the Spring-Summer collection remains firmly Italian in their elegant use of small details like accentuated seams and roomy pockets, as well as popping colour and innovative print combinations. Canali is a brand for men who wouldn’t think twice about mixing classic English and new Italian style: think donning a cheeky straw boater while enjoying a ‘gelato’ in Venice.
On the flip side, and one that the girls always remember, is the ubiquitous seductive Italian style found in Corneliani’s Spring-Summer range. More suited to lazy, warm Neapolitan nights, the rounded lines of this range’s lapels and looser cut sleeves accentuate the luxurious nature of their fabric choices. Idiosyncratic details like a lapelled waistcoat and double flap pockets add interest to these pieces, revelling in the sheen and weave quality that add so much and reveal such good quality. Without a doubt, Corneliani’s double-breasted jackets are things of beauty – tapping directly into a revival in old-school styling yet remaining firmly contemporary.
Of course, there’s no reason to dress in a suit all the time – although, why wouldn’t you want to when they’re this good? Brioni’s style inherent throughout their range of formalwear is continued in their more casual collection, with individual pieces subtly glamorous whilst still being wearable. As well as their exciting pastel and paisley designs found in the Spring-Summer collection, their collection of relaxed knitwear and outerwear adds an edge normally only found in younger, international designers. Using leather and silk in soft, putty shades for blouson and Prince of Wales jackets, Brioni nods to current trends without overpowering the focus of the outfit: the individual.
With the true British summer approaching fast, or at least the hope of summer, Italian style is something to be seen in. It celebrates luxury, ease, and above all, it exudes confidence. Perfect for casual or formal celebrations, summer weddings or even just being seen whilst sipping an espresso, Italian menswear should be your first port of call in a quest for eternally stylish, contemporary dressing.
Blog #2: The Polo Shirt
The polo shirt has now become ubiquitous with summer, its light, breathable fabric and casual look going hand in hand with barbeques and beach holidays. Worn by all ages and both sexes, from school uniform to sportswear, it can sometimes seem a little too common for those men wishing to look smart. But its history and heritage, along with some excellent modern examples, show both its versatility and it potential for luxury.
It seems as though the shirt has been around for centuries, possibly originating from some upper-class colonial who needed something stylish to wear whilst whacking a ball across a field from the saddle of a galloping horse. But the truth is the polo shirt, or more accurately the tennis shirt, is only about 80 years old. Invented by René Lacoste, a champion tennis player and later founder of 'Chemise Lacoste' - the store we now see on every good high street - the shirt was built to combat issues faced by sportsmen who were previously required to wear dress shirts and ties, with rolled up sleeves, for a match. The soft collar and placket of the polo shirt, along with the knitted cotton piqué fabric, created a versatile and useful garment that retained a great sense of style. Now the polo shirt is used in most sports - even cricket - and plagues IT departments and sportswear shops across the country in ill-fitting styles and garish colours.
Luckily, choosing the right polo shirt to go with a summer wardrobe isn't difficult. Avoid anything in a unnaturally loud colour, just in case you're mistaken for a PC World employee. Shades of navy are a good staple, while natural-coloured pastels in purple or yellow are spring-fresh without being ostentatious. A blocked stripe is another classic polo shirt look, although the width of the stripe should be chosen carefully as they can create a widening effect. A polo shirt with a two- or three-colour stripe is classic English 'rugby style' look, and can work effectively. But for a sharper, more modern take, try a dark shirt with colour pop detail on the cuffs or collar; or a brightly zingy placket and neutral coloured body; or a crisp white polo with dark buttons and striped undercollar. Paul & Shark have an excellent range of shirts, with varying stripe widths, as well as catering for exhibitionists with their bright colours and contrasting details.
An update for the polo shirt comes in the form of contrasting materials, rather than just colours. These garments are more formal than the classic piqué shirt, simply from the materials used, but add luxury to an otherwise sometimes utilitarian item. Try Brioni's knit polo with white linen collar, or their mixes in wool and silk for ultimate summer decadence without losing function. Their range also comes in muted shades suitable for year-round wear, like beige, blues and olive. Classic navy and white polos get revamped by Corneliani in soft, lightweight materials and with a slimmer fit. These polos, with their understated elegance, are the perfect foil to summer suiting or washed jeans, adding a little extra edge to well-established classics.
The final question, of course, is whether to wear your collar up or down, and whether to button the placket fully, or leave it louche. It's advisable to leave the collar firmly down, the upwards 'popped' collar being a general sign of foolishly young and sartorially unaware male students. And although the temperature is the first dictator of buttoned up or down, try buttoned up with jeans, and buttoned down with a suit; it's an interesting and ever-so-slightly modern look.
Check out our range of Robert Graham and Eton Shirts to stay ahead in the fashion stakes!
November 23rd 2010
Introducing J Shoes to our Brand Portfolio
J Shoes are being worn by a wide range of celebrities at the moment from American Rappers signed by Jay Z's Label:
to English Movie stars in Harry Potter Films:
J Shoes are fast becoming the footwear to be seen in everywhere. Buy your pair today from our J Shoes Collection!
J Shoes - Charlie
Photography: Marie Guibergia
In anticipation for his eagerly awaited debut album Jay Walkin’, trumpeter Jay Phelps chose us as his footwear of choice, you can see him here pictured in J Shoes Charlie.
Phelps 28, originally from Canada moved to London in his teens to become part of the international jazz scene. Having performed and recorded with a veritable who's who in the industry, Phelps set about on his new project Jay Walkin’ to honour the integrity and capture what is the traditional spirit of jazz music, composing and arranging songs with this in his vision.
“His title track original ‘Jay Walkin’, has a Dizzy-ish feel followed by episodic flourishes combining trumpet and saxophone, making way for subtle mid-to-uptempo Phelps trumpet lines.” – Stephen Graham www.jazzwisemagazine.com
Jay Walkin', recorded on Proper's Specific Label, is released in 8 November 2010 with an album preview launch 21 October at Pizza Express Dean Street, Soho London.
Belated Movember News
Steve would like to thank everyone who sponsored him (customers and friends alike) to grow a Moustache throughout the month of November (it did get very bloody itchy!). This was for the Prostrate Cancer Charity and everyones donations helped Steve to raise £132.00 towards this fantastic cause! Thanks again!