Thursday, 23 October 2014

Style it out...

Some of you that know me will be able to confirm the fact that over the past 4-5 years I have managed (hopefully with some level of success) to transform my 'look' and actually move to the ranks of people who actually care what goes on their backs.

From the years of selecting my outfit from a wobbly pile of t-shirts, skinny jeans and cardigans/baggy jumpers (finished with the ever present knackered leather jacket) I now have a wardrobe worthy of Henry Hill in 'Goodfellas' and proudly line up my suits/blazers in varied shades like a rainbow of tweed and wool from left to right.

Books and websites have been devoured on the subject of style and appearance as well as how one should conduct themselves within polite society (or with your mates in the pub, either way),and hopefully you'll notice that with only minimal effort NOT to be a total bell-end that the rewards will be forthcoming and your circles will widen.

Here are some tips for the 30 something man about town to follow and assimilate into their own psyche.

1) Manners: They will never go out of fashion no matter what people say. Please's and thank yous, holding doors open, complementing someone on their appearance (whether genuinely deserving or not) is something that will always put you in good sted with friends and strangers. Also NOBODY likes to be proved wrong in front of their friends or work colleagues. Yes we all know that in Mad Men the lead character is named Don Draper and not Dan Draper but for the sake of this mildly incorrect misuse of a single vowel you can nod and listen to the point they're actually trying to make, constantly bringing up their error and audibly mocking them will not get you an invite to the next night out. Nobody has ever felt better or happier after being told that they're incorrect or wrong about something incidental by a stranger in fact this is how most fights tend to start.

2) Get the right size for Gods sake: Whether it be skinny jeans or a three piece suit always get the right size to the inch. I can assume we're all past the age range where "we'll grow into it" or "i'm on a diet so i'll keep that as my target size". Just get the right size that is completely comfortable and looks exactly right.

3) Suits you!: Wearing a suit shouldn't be something you only reserve for weddings, funerals or court cases. You should feel completely comfortable within a suit and use the confidence it brings to your benefit. Fads and fashions come and go but a well fitted suit will ALWAYS look great.


*Lengths (small), (regular), (long) = For a non bespoke off the peg suit jacket you'll see these options (usually colour coded) for each size. Try them all on and get the closest one to a perfect fit. The back vents of the jacket should at least cover half of your backside and with your arms by your sides palms open should reach the halfway point of your hand (no more, no less). There is nothing worse sartorially speaking than a baggy suit jacket or subsequently one that looks like a prop from The Incredible Hulk where you're about to pop every button and tear it to pieces if flex a muscle or check your watch. The 'proper suit jacket sleeve length'? "A man’s shirt cuffs should be slightly visible from under his jacket sleeve. How far? One half inch"- Frank Sinatra

*Trousers: Nobody is happy with their waist size but it's one thing where you'll need to (brace for pun) simply 'suck it in' and get the correct size. Again if you try and kid yourself that although the tape measure reads 40 that you're in fact a 34 if you breath in it'll just mean you'll have a massive belly hanging over the belt line like an explosion in a lard factory. Get the right size and look right. Length wise you're best of listening to Sinatra's advice of letting the trousers stop just as they break when hitting the laces. No baggy suit trousers, these aren't your Sunday tracksuit bottoms for lounging around in or a pair of baggy jeans for a Hip Hop gig. Everything needs to work together.

*Belts: Even if you get the correct size waistline (and I'll assume you all will now) you may fluctuate slightly back and forward now and then within the suits lifetime and require a little extra support from a belt. Always make sure your belt matches your shoes in both material and colour. You shall receive a smartly placed swift boot in the privates if I see you out with a brown belt and black shoes. Unforgivable.

*Shoes: Leather is always the way to go, laces or loafers are fine although those 90's style slip on shoes with square toes that look like clown shoes are most definitely not something anyone should be seen wearing again. Pointy toed shoes have definitely had their day as well I think, go classic. A rounded toe Derby, Tasselled slip on loafer or Brogue is perfect for any occasion and the accepted colours will be Black, Brown, Oxblood burgundy or light tan if in the summer and wearing a light shade of suit.

*Shirts: This is where personal taste comes into the picture. There are many styles of shirts, cuts, cuffs, collars available on the market and all are perfectly acceptable, from the standard straight collar to the wide collar (popular with footballers and pundits ; look at Ray Wilkins next time he's on Match of The Day) or even the Sebastian Horsley styled giant broad collar that fights for domination with the tie itself over which is the most prominent.

Cuffs are down to the person. Both is ideal although a french cuff that requires cufflinks is always a nice touch for special event although please go conservative with cuff-links as one slip up here can make you look like a dick very easily (pint glasses, bulldogs, racing cars etc. all look equally stupid)

*Ties: A tie should be no thicker than the length of your finger, no kipper ties or pencil thin ones please. When it comes to material only choose 100% silk and for knots although there are a hundred variations I personally stick to the standard 4 in hand or a half windsor if the tie is slightly too long for my frame. The point of the tie should reach (but not touch) your belt line, just enough to cover your bellybutton. Anything shorter looks like you've just come home from school and are begging for a 'peanut' (google it) or too long resembles someone who prefers to be lead around on a dog leech (hey each to his own).

*Pocket squares : ALWAYS, it adds a personal flourish and flair and gives the appearance of someone who is completely comfortable with themselves and the fact they are wearing a suit. Again simple conservative colours are best and a straight fold is best, leave the flower arranging ones to the professionals. The reason why for me a basic and standard fold is best is at some point over the evening someone will no doubt go "is that real or a bit of cardboard" and yank it out so retrieving it and carefully yet swiftly re-folding it and placing it back with minimal effort is much better than panicking and trying to find the youtube clip you copied trying to create a 3 point arched fold.

*Socks: Really? Yes I'm going to help you choose your socks m'lad. Always match the trouser colour or shoe colour if feeling a little more flamboyant. I know we're British but you can't just wear black socks 365 days a year and hope for the best.

I've never been one to assist with hair both cranial or facial. Do what thou wilt but keep it clean and free from cobwebs and dandruff and for gods sake no ponytails.

Go fourth young men and multiple!

Some excellent sites:|||||||||||||||

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Chews-day ramblings.

Had the first twinge of my 33rd year today as I bent over to pick up my shoes. The crack of a dozen Castanets seemed to echo through my hallway and over my back passage as I stood hunched slipping on a hurriedly half polished loafer. 33 is quite an age for me. It's the oldest I've ever been and the youngest I'll ever be again but it still feels like a mugger that's appeared from the shadows in front of me and demanded my youth. Am I officially now 'out' of the circle of the young? When does middle age actually commence these days? Statistics do show that people generally live a lot longer if they've managed to side step illness and wayward drunk drivers or postcode gang stabbings but if three score and ten is the age the majority aim for Biblically speaking then i'm only 2 years away from the half way point. Jesus was 33. Hendrix didn't make it and some simply don't know when to cash in their chips with dignity. 30 itself is a milestone and new chapter in any mans life. Your twenties are a blur or at least mine were and I know for sure that if I met the 22 year old version of myself on the train I would think "you're going the right way to end up a bitter old fucker my lad" and hopefully he would have put his feet up on the seat and turned up the music one notch louder, after all a young man who listens to the advice of the old is generally set to repeat the mistakes of the speaker without any of the knowledge gained from the experience of error.

Here are few things I've picked up and learned along the way that are meant to amuse and are free for the taking if desired. If not then that's fine too as the band-aid and bandage business would be on course to bankruptcy if people started following warning signs.

Things I've learned.

1) Always know when to leave the party. To soon is too rude but if you're tapping away on your mobile come 4am looking for "numbers" you know you're prolonging a dead end gathering like a Dodo on life-support.

2) There are only two types of music. Good and bad. Now this is a quote that's been attributed to everyone from Louis Armstrong, Ry Cooder to Duke Ellington but whoever first said it was bang on the money. Music is all about the venue, atmosphere and company. I refuse to share some music with those less worthy to appreciate it fully.

3) Try your best to tell the truth. It's a hell of a lot easier to remember. They say a good liar disguises the lie with detail and real imagery but when the fallacy is re-earthed out of the blue the pieces of the jigsaw will always be harder to fit on the fly, especially when dodging the effects of a hangover or a set of accusing eyes. The truth is the same today, tomorrow or next year.

4) 'Real' is overrated. No dear listener I haven't immediately spun a coin of contradiction from my previous statement, this only relates to tall tales and drunken party reminiscence not sworn testimony. This is related to anecdotes told by yourself to amuse or amaze. It's all about the delivery. Building up to a story with a preamble of "This reminds of a story I once read in an old newspaper I saw laying on a park bench in Brixton and I thought that...etc.etc" has already lost the concentration of the listener who now with a cracked smile fading is quietly judging your shoes, un-matching socks or incredibly cheap sickly sweet Cologne you've chosen this week. Get to the point or at least A point. "That reminds me of a time in Soho with a trio of Russian diplomats and a one armed piano player..." this will always sound better even if based on legend, after all the point of a story or fun anecdote is to raise a smile from the listener and hopefully keep the attention drawn to you. You never know if you keep talking they might get another drink in.

5) Even the worst drink in the world tastes fine after the third round. This is a lesson I learned from imbibing a friends home made wine at a Xmas party. Upon initial inspection and tasting of the bruise coloured liquid it loudly polluted my taste-buds and ravaged my tongue like a Panzer attack of deicer and value grapes. After the conversation had darted and grown with regular top ups along the way it seemed that I'd been won over and this was in fact a cheeky little number that wouldn't be out of place at a relatively clean Italian eatery.

6) Everyone looks good in a suit. Now I know this can be an issue with some as they feel too formal and constrained within the confines of a pinstripe off the peg three piece but if you've actually bought the correct size or have relaxed and actually asked an assistant to measure you and chosen wisely with a jacket that fits both your shoulders, arms and doesn't hang past your open palm you'll find you've never looked better in your life. A tracksuit outside of a gym or ripped jeans outside of a casualty waiting room is never a good look for someone old enough to remember when Channel 5 was still a pipe dream.

7) Complements work better than flattery. They are definitely different things altogether. When someone has clearly made an effort with their hair, dress, make-up or even finally looked up some YouTube page you sent them six months ago regarding the correct way to polish ones shoes and have followed it to the letter then bring it up. It'll make them feel good, show them that their efforts have not been in vain and hasn't caused you the slightest unrest or hassle. Flattery is someone a crawling P.A's does when discussing the bosses golf swing.

8) When it comes to Art, age is irrelevant. Whether you're reading a book, watching a movie or listening to a Alan Lomax field recording of a teenage Muddy Waters singing and playing it is of no consequence of the age of the piece. Plenty of things happened before you were born, some that are far greater than anything to happen after and their worth isn't based on your personal time-line. Being uninformed or ignorant on a myriad of subjects isn't something to take a bow over, after all Napoléon died nearly 200 years ago...but I still know he lost.

"I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony." - Peter O'Toole

Tomorrow is promised to nobody. Now where is the fire escape. Chin-chin!