If asked to, I believe I wouldn’t be able to pick just one favourite shirt among those I own, but this custom contrast club collar would definitely make it on to the top 5. There’s a certain unique elegance (and versatility) surrounding that rounded collar: although some might argue it begs to be paired with fancy neckwear, be it a tie or a bow, it can easily overlook them for a differentiated buttoned up sans tie look. Moreover, if you’ve been wanting to sport that brand new collar pin, there are few shirts out there as suited for it as this one. One aspect to keep in mind though, is that this model is supposed to be worn buttoned…much like double breasted jackets.
I’ve been sporting it often recently and similar models in different colors and patterns have already made their way into my wishlist. As with every shirt, fabric plays a very important role regarding the suitability and formality attributed to it: a finer fabric will reward you with an exotic dress shirt, whereas oxford cloth makes them the perfect match for that special pair of worn out jeans. This look combines several striking items, such as the checked navy peacoat, houndstooth elbow patched cardigan and the shirt itself, but they all blend in together as none is overwhelming. The emphasis is on the small details: hues darken as you approach the outer layers (light blue, grey, navy), tones are complementing among pieces (tie and patches) and the silver tie bar just adds that extra flare…
Checked navy wool peacoat by Paul Smith, grey wool/cashmere cardigan with houndstooth elbow patches by Annapurna 5+1, custom made light blue contrast club collar shirt by Gentleman, Levi’s 511 slim fitting jeans (tailored), Portuguese boots, vintage brown knit tie, vintage brown braided leather belt, silver tie bar by Tie Rack.
Ermenegildo Zegna Fabrics SS11
Last week, while I was at Gentleman getting my herringbone overcoat measured for tailoring (expect a post once I pick it up), they were kind enough to let me go through the new SS11 Zegna Cloth Catalogue.
Zegna fabrics are known for their quality and elegance, assuming a leading role as the choice of excellence for tailors worldwide, when it comes to made to measure or bespoke garments. Their array of options is suited to cater to your every need, presenting fabrics for every occasion, all of which bear the brand’s renowned quality.
Whenever I get the chance to see and feel these types of fabrics, I get overwhelmed with ideas and enthusiasm…the turning of each page is accompanied by a constant brainstorming of potential garments in the making. I easily get sucked into that sartorial universe, becoming completely immersed in the variety of shades, patterns and textures, only to be brought back to reality when the answer to my inevitable question is given: - “a blazer will cost you around 1000€, suits start at 1500€”…
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.
The pocket square
Once the trademark of a gentleman, used mainly as a reusable handkerchief, and occasionally as an elaborated gift to sweep ladies off their feet as a sign of courtesy and politeness, the pocket square has once again found its way into the wardrobe of men.
Although for different purposes, men of all ages have been sporting them proudly in the chest pockets of their blazers, suit jackets and even shirts. A rakish accessory without a doubt, it’s a perfect complement to an outfit by adding a pinch of color and pattern, while evoking the lost aura of gentlemanliness: that perfectly folded, pointy or puffing out piece of fabric lets people know you mean business.
It’s that extra bit of attention to detail that elevates your ensemble to a new level, retaining other people’s looks on yourself and leaving an impression. I often stress the importance of accessorizing as a way to take it up a notch, and the pocket square is a prime example, allowing you to diversify your look based on the type of fabric, color and pattern. By mixing these three elements, you’ll be able to attribute a more classic, dandyish, playful or dapperly connotation to your outfit. The traditional silk pocket square may sometimes appear too formal for your everyday wear due to its sheen, besides not being the most affordable option. Similarly to what happens with the bow tie, you might want to look for alternative fabrics, namely cotton or chambray, which will enable you to pull off the look with a more casual and relaxed feel.
On this note, a great option is to take handkerchiefs or bandanas and use them as pocket squares. Usually made of cotton and coming in an array of colors and patterns, they’ll keep you looking your best without depleting your bank account (check out Tie Rack’s packs of 3, great value).
This is my collection at the moment…need to invest in a few more options in red and pink tones.
Left to right: 1 - purple silk pocket square by Gentleman 2 - vintage white pocket square 3 - light blue cotton pocket square by Gentleman 4 - silk pocket square by Épice 5-10 - cotton pocket squares by Tie Rack.
Update a classic: Grey slacks
We often see the term “classic” widely used when describing an array of garments. Usually, it seems to translate an idea of timeless pieces, staples of menswear, who have been and will be around for ages. Several items come to mind, but few bear this stamp in such a deserving way as any suit related garment.
Although the suit is king when it comes to classics, grey slacks follow closely. This is the go to piece when men want to look put together without sporting a full suit, or just want to try out different ensembles with their suit jackets. What makes them so amazing, is the fact they perfectly combine elegance and versatility: you can dress them up or down and its neutral color makes them easy to pair with all sort of tones: navy, black, brown, pink, green, grey…
The first picture that comes to most people’s minds when talking about grey slacks is probably of loose pleated flannel pants. In fact, if you take a look at vintage pics or pay close attention to older men on the street, you might find that image is not far from the truth. However, the ever evolving nature of fashion has redefined this item: nowadays you’ll find several slim fitting alternatives, with flat front instead of pleats, giving them an updated feel.
No matter where you get yours from, be sure to have them tailored to ensure little to no break, as it will make you look taller and draw attention on your shoes (just be sure to have them perfectly buffed). I’ve got a couple myself, which I had made at Gentleman according to my liking:
- 100% wool
- Slim leg
- 19 cm ankle opening
- 3,5 cm cuff
- little to no break
I had mine cuffed as I prefer the way they drape along the leg and the overall aesthetic.
This is something I wore the other day, really like how all the different shades and textures of grey come together to create a polished look. The cap was more of a necessity as it was freezing, but it added a nice relaxed and urban feel to the look.
Grey herringbone 2 button blazer by Gentleman Tailors, grey wool v-neck pullover by Paul Smith, blue micro plaid shirt by Gap, charcoal wool slacks by Gentleman Tailors, brown tasseled loafers by Lottusse, cap by H&M, vintage bowtie, paisley pocket square by Tie Rack, socks by Ralph Lauren and watch by Rolex.
Store Info: Gentleman
Located in the building of one of Porto’s most famous and iconic markets, Bolhão, lies a store with more than a century of tailoring/bespoking history. Founded in 1936, Gentleman has been delivering high end custom clothing to gentlemen ever since. What started as a small business based on traditional tailoring techniques, has grown into a reputed store aimed at exporting items for such renowned brands as Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera or David Spade. So much so, that their own factory employs around 40 professionals, all of which with years of experience. The result? Every piece they produce is a manifestation of years of accumulated knowledge and love for tailored clothing.
Unfortunately, it was only when I started Beyond Fabric that I learned about them…needless to say I’m a loyal customer since the first time I set foot indoors. After a recent business makeover, the store is now 5-storey high, taking full advantage of the building space. An interesting side note, all the walls are decorated with one of their own suit fabrics, in plaid grey.
At the entrance level you might think this is your usual store: a ready-to-wear section filled with shirts, sweaters, coats, slacks, chinos, blazers…the works. However, as you make your way up, you begin to realize how far from the truth your first perception was…
The second floor holds the bespoking essence of the store. As you enter the oval room, you are greeted by a variety of shirts, suits and most importantly, fabrics. This is where Gentleman shines…you are no longer tied to whatever options are lying on the shelves, you can “design” your own pieces. Apart from suits and shirts, you’ll be able to have made to your liking virtually any item…I’m talking vests, pocket squares, ties, sweaters, everything you can think of. Regarding fabrics, choices range from Ermenegildo Zegna, Belfast, Holland and Sherry to Thomas Mason, among others. This makes choosing just one all the more difficult, especially since you can’t see the finished piece, you have to envision it. A word of advice: research thoroughly prior to your visit and define your objectives, otherwise it’s easy to get lost among all the offerings.
Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll be guided by the in-house tailor, who will take your measures and accompany you throughout several fittings and adjustments until the final result. This whole experience makes your custom pieces all the more interesting and unique. Moreover, you’ll notice that contrary to common belief, bespoke items can be affordable (even more so than some ready-to-wear options).
The third and fourth floors are used as storage for the items in stock and the fifth floor houses an amazing wooden dome.
If you love exceptional one of a kind fitted clothing, or simply well made off-the-rack garments, be sure to pay them a visit!
The ground floor
The second floor
The dome on the 5th floor
Have it your way: the custom shirt
If you’ve been following me from the start, you know I have a thing for custom made/made to measure items. Luckily for me, Portugal has a strong textile industry, especially here in the north, and is well known for its specialized workforce in the area (it’s not a coincidence that major players such as Paul Smith or Our Legacy have their items produced here).
I was pleased to find out that Porto still maintains its tradition in what regards the tailoring business, with several stores and ateliers still being frequently visited by loyal customers. Apart from the traditional bespoke suit (usually the most sought after item at tailors), you should broaden your horizons as what you can have made to your liking. One of the best items, in terms of quality/price ratio, is shirts. Chances are, you’ve already considered this while browsing retailers for that specific shirt you envisioned: the fit is wrong, the pattern isn’t quite what you wished for and likewise for detailing and fabric. What if you could have exactly what you pictured, and more (since it would be unique and designed for your body), for the same or a fraction of the price of ready-to-wear options? Sounds appealing right?
I’ve been wanting to get one of a kind shirts for a while, something you won’t easily find on major retailers, and my wishes were granted by a local store with more than a century of bespoke/tailoring history. I payed them a visit and ordered a club collar oxford shirt in light blue, with contrasting white collar and cuffs (it will definitely make an impression). After carefully going through the multitude of available fabrics, I made my choice as regards the tone of blue and weight of the oxford cloth: I was aiming for something in between a dress shirt and your usual oxford button down.
I then tried on one of their slim fit shirts in order to evaluate the fit, and luckily enough the Medium size was spot on: usually, the shirt would be crafted according to my measurements, but in this case, they just had to adapt their own model to my requests.
A week after, my shirt was ready: