A pinch of ethnicity #3
For the final entry of the series I’ll focus on the vintage handcrafted patchwork “berbere” belt. The first thing that caught my eye was the variety of colors and detailing: if you thought the tunic was a bold piece, this one definitely takes the crown. The thing is, being an accessory, it has a much smaller impact on the overall ensemble, making it easier to pull off. As belts are usually perceived as a finishing touch or embellishment, they pose the perfect opportunity to add a splash of color and boldness to an outfit; even if you’re wearing a suit, don’t be afraid to tone it down a bit.
Due to its length and marked creases at distinct parts, it’s likely that the original owner wore it tied up at the front or side, letting the long ends drape over the leg. Although this is a great look, here I went for a more usual approach, doubling it through the belt loops and incorporating it into a casual, weekend appropriate look: trim navy bomber jacket, crisp white shirt, slim dark blue jeans, boat shoes and messenger bag. As the belt is a such a bold statement piece by itself, the best way to make it work is to balance the rest of the look, avoiding strong shades or patterns, so as not to go overboard.
Slim navy bomber jacket by Lacoste, white dress shirt by ACNE, dark blue jeans by Levi’s (511 slim - tailored), vintage patchwork moroccan belt, light brown crepe sole boat shoes by Buttero and brown canvas messenger by Zara.
Check the label
Ever since I can remember, Italy has been a synonym of high end fashion and impeccably dressed men and women. Hearing about Milan (e.g.) immediately takes us to fashion shows, couture, and all the associated visual imagery of outstandingly dressed figurines, the likes of those featured daily on renowned fashion websites and blogs. It comes as no surprise that the label “Made in Italy” became an assurance of quality worldwide, with many designers taking their productions to the country to reap the advantages of not only the label, but also the talent and craftsmanship of experienced professionals. However, this kind of recognition comes at a (usually steep) price…
In the quest for lower production costs, China has become a force to reckon with when it comes to the textile industry, assuming a leading role in manufacturing for several renowned brands…Once known for its extremely affordable (and somewhat inexperienced) workforce, this reality is slowly changing as a result of its major growing economy, which has forced designers to look for the best quality/cost compromise.
Thus, Portugal joins the picture, paving a strong return to the international fashion scene. With strong roots in the textile and shoe industries, Portuguese manufacturers deliver high end quality and “know how” at affordable prices, becoming the choice for brands such as Paul Smith, Neil Barrett, Our Legacy, etc. I’ve been witnessing this evolution not only by observing international brands’ positions, but also by talking to local manufacturers who have seen their exportation numbers go up the roof. More and more “Made in Portugal” is a stamp of approval for consumers, ensuring they’re purchasing outstanding items carrying an entire history of tradition and manufacturing excellence. I’m both excited and proud to see an international bet in the Portuguese market, and I can only hope that this momentum encourages the appearance of new national brands.
Next time you’re out shopping check the label, you might be surprised….
Paul Smith Mainline
n.d.c. made by hand
The western shirt
Western shirts are definitely having a moment…their rough and laid back feel is perfect for pairing with jeans or chinos, contributing to an original ensemble. Despite being essentially a denim shirt, this variety sets itself apart through its own characteristic detailing: pearl buttons, pointed yokes and double flap chest pockets. As with all denim shirts, the trick here is keeping it slim and avoiding the so called “denim tuxedo”, meaning, if you pair it with jeans go for a different wash or color (a head to toe monochromatic denim attire just looks weird).
A while back I came across this vintage Levi’s western denim shirt on Spot’s Flea Market. At the bargain price of 10€ and after getting it tailored for another 5€, I ended up with a great affordable addition to my wardrobe. Here, I paired it with black slim fitting jeans (the contrast works great) and my 2 button herringbone blazer. This blazer has become one of my favourite “Winter” pieces as its warm enough to use as outerwear, while portraying a put together look and adding texture and pattern. Black jeans are a great way to add variety to your looks, as they’re easily paired with other items and are a refreshing change from your usual blue denim. In fact, colored jeans are a great alternative to invest in, just start with the 3 basics tones: white, black and grey. Also, don’t be afraid to oppose the shirt’s relaxed nature by tucking it in and putting on a tie, or buttoning it all the way up sans tie.
Herringbone blazer by Gentleman Tailors, vintage Levi’s western shirt, black slim fit jeans by H&M, Ibsen leather sneakers by Paul Smith, braided leather belt by ACNE, sunglasses by Ray-Ban, pocket square by Tie Rack and military inspired watch by Swiss Army.
Layering it up
Lately we’ve been experiencing some harsh weather, pairing both rain and temperatures of about 5ºC. The art of layering is crucial to withstanding the worst winter days, but even more so when rain joins the picture, as most waterproof garments such as trenches or macs are not the best when it comes to keeping you warm.
Layering consists of wearing several garments on top of each other, in order to increase your body’s thermal insulation. In some of the world’s coldest regions this is vital to your survival…in others, it’s just an amazingly stylish way to stay comfortable. By combining different pieces on distinct “levels” of your outfit, you are able to add visual appeal as well as functionality and versatility, by letting you adjust the number of layers to any given situation.
However, pulling it off may prove to be a harder task than it may seem at first. As a rule of thumb, the thickness of the layers should increase towards the exterior, keeping the thinner pieces closer to your body, as in: tee - shirt - pullover - cardigan - blazer - topcoat (you don’t need to wear them all at once, obviously). Mind you, every rule has exceptions and you can leave it to the Italians to find them…puffed vests over blazers anyone? Other than that, it all comes down to personal taste and experimenting with your pieces to see what works well together.
This is something I wore to work on a cold rainy day. Although this trench has a warm inner lining, it is still not enough, so I paired it with a chunky heavy knit cardigan, a brushed cotton vest, shirt, tie and a reversible scarf. One of my favourite things about this look, besides the color palette, is how the tie remains perfectly framed among all the layers. Also, notice the versatility I mentioned above, as it adapts to more casual (chunky knit), or formal occasions (shirt and vest alone).
Beige trench coat by Paul Smith, navy chunky heavy knit cardigan by Massimo Dutti, vintage brown cotton vest, slim fit pink dress shirt by Hugo Boss, dark blue jeans by Levi’s (511 slim), distressed brown loafers by Lottusse, reversible scarf by Fred Perry, polka dot pink tie by Vicri, brown braided leather belt by ACNE and watch by Gucci.