A pinch of ethnicity #2
On this entry I’ll leave you with a few pics of the embroidered tunic I mentioned earlier. When I asked my brother to keep an eye out for them, I must say I had envisioned something different: a basic tunic in solid colors whose hemline would sit at the thighs, allowing for interesting plays with length. The thing about creating expectations and visual images in our minds, is that the element of surprise may backfire when the time comes.
Thankfully this wasn’t the case: besides knowing me well, my brother also has great taste. He got me an olive green cotton tunic with orange embroidered detailing on the front: definitely a bold piece. However, it poses the perfect opportunity to add visual interest to a look, by mixing vibrant colors and unusual design.
The minute I laid my eyes on it, I immediately pictured it paired with a shirt, blazer or even a tie. What I love about these pieces is that they’re usually a great way to make you think outside the box, challenging you to develop your creative side and come up with ways to make them work. Here, I used it as an overshirt, trying to oppose its relaxed nature with a more put together look: it’s amazing how a classic combo of khaki pants, white shirt and loafers is given a whole new life.
Olive green Moroccan tunic, white slim fit dress shirt by Paul Smith (S), khaki cotton trousers by Osklen (tailored - 40), brown distressed penny loafers by Lottusse (8.5), vintage braided belt, watch by Gucci.
The low V-neck sweater
One of the most important aspects when it comes to knitwear, besides fabric and cut, is the shape of the collar. Among all the available options, the v-neck sweater is probably the most elegant and versatile of the bunch, being easily dressed up or down as you pair it with a tee or a shirt and tie. Make no mistake, not all V-necks are created equal, and within the spectrum you’re offered several variations: higher, lower, wider…
A higher stance V is the most common type, but I’d like to express my love for the low V-neck sweater. In colder months when layering is a necessity, and walking out the door with nothing but a shirt under your jacket will most likely turn you into a popsicle, this is one of my favourite pieces. Its lower and wider stance allows you to portray the shirt+jacket ensemble (while keeping warm) as it’s easily concealed by your outerwear. Plus, if you’re a fan of neckwear, few other pieces allow you to show just the right amount of shirt and tie, while keeping them perfectly framed.
When looking for this type of sweater I believe it’s best to go with thicker fabrics, with some shape to them, as very lightweight, thin fabrics may end up looking loose and baggy, depriving them of the elegance and framing assets. Scottish brand Lyle & Scott offers some great options in outstanding quality wools which are definitely worth checking. Here, I paired mine with a navy peacoat and a shirt+tie combination, stressing the aforementioned framing effect and drawing attention towards the tie. Also, this is the kind of Winter day when you should throw on your white jeans: sunny and freezing cold.
Navy melange peacoat by Paul Smith, greyish blue low v-neck sweater by Lyle & Scott, striped dress shirt by Carolina Herrera, white slim fitting jeans by Massimo Dutti, brown brogues by Henry James Shoes, sunglasses by Ray Ban (aviators), vintage tie, argyle socks by Calzedonia.
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
As I’ve stressed several times before, one of the most interesting aspects of a look resides in the small details. Carefully mixing and blending them is a recipe for a perfect outfit, one that easily stands out in a crowd.
A great way to tweak an already great piece is adding elbow patches. Coming in a variety of colors, patterns and materials, they’re an easy and affordable way to add sophistication and visual interest to your attire. Although the blazer is probably the most common garment when it comes to this add on, you should broaden your horizons as to the full potential of these patches: sweaters, long sleeves, topcoats or cardigans all account for great alternatives.
Also, don’t be afraid to lively things up a bit by adding bold colors and textures, that’s what will add the extra flare you’re looking for. Going for different fabrics such as tweed or leather instead of being limited to the usual suede patches, is something to consider. Just bear in mind that if you opt for leather patches your items will only be washable through dry cleaning. The though part about the process is finding the right patches, applying them will be an easy and inexpensive task for your tailor or seamstress. If you want to take the easy route, just look for items which originally come with them. With their recent burst in popularity, you should have no problem finding a few suitable options.
One of the pieces I purchased a while ago is this heather grey v-neck wool/cashmere sweater by Annapurna 5+1. Besides the outstanding blended fabric, with a soft touch and slim fit, what really drew me to it were the houndstooth elbow patches. This look combines several interesting aspects: besides the layering, I love the contrast of the lighter tones of the shirt, sweater and plimsoles with the black jeans, and how the shades of green in the houndstooth perfectly complement the ones in the vest.
Charcoal heavy wool blazer by Rice, Green Eskdale vest by Barbour, heather grey v-neck cashmere/wool sweater by Annapurna 5+1, white dress shirt by Paul Smith, black slim fit jeans by H&M, white plimsoles (Musa trainer) by Paul Smith, glasses by Prada, camel scarf by Burberry and watch by Rolex.
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.
Back to black
2010 was undoubtedly a pattern filled year…plaids were everywhere to be found and quickly became one of the “must haves” of the season. Coming in all types of scales, shapes and colors, there was one particular pattern that stood above all else, thus reenforcing its place as one of the most sought, beautiful and timeless of the bunch: Blackwatch.
Originating from one of Scotland’s most famous regiments, this tricolored tartan bearing the shades of blue, black and green, is thought to have been primarily used for hunting purposes due to its subdued nature. Its timeless character and overall allure have made it into one of fashion’s most beloved plaids. Exuding a unique sense of class and elegance, it’s an amazing addition to any wardrobe, adding color in an understated way and being easily paired with other pieces. The only downside is deciding which item to get, given the amount of offerings out there…
Checked Peacoat by Paul Smith
Dark blue plaid blazer and reversible plaid vest by Aquarama @ Porvocação
Tartan hoodie by Fred Perry @ Bonobos
Clarks Originals Desert Boots @ Asos
Pendleton four pocket tote bag @ Asos.
Blackwatch Plaid Wool Scarf @ Rugby
On the street…
This post is aimed at everyone, especially the women - girlfriends, wives or moms - who are desperately trying to draw last minute inspiration about what to give to the special men in their lives. I hope these are useful!
Bear in mind that the brands shown are mere examples and the items are listed in no particular order.
Trenchcoat - Burberry Prorsum
Peacoat - Schott NY Slim fit
Waxed jacket - Barbour Ursula Jacket
We all love gadjets - Apple’s Ipad
State of the art kitchen utensils - Le Creuset
A reliable cook book - Jamie Oliver
Soaps and Shaving kits - Barbearia do Bairro
Holidays scented candles - Dyptique
Notebook - Archie Grand
An exquisite pen - Faber Castle
A document folder - Cornelian Taurus
Worthy hats - Borsalino
Men jewellery - Goti
Original cufflinks - Paul Smith
Amazingly crafted ties - Pierrepont Hicks
A playful bow tie - Coisas d’Homem
Leather tote and duffle bag - Lottuf & Clegg
Something to read and be inspired by - Amazon
The perfect soundtrack for the season - Sufjan Stevens
Beyond Fabric suggests…
This time around, I decided to pair two of my favourite pieces of the year: the chambray shirt and white jeans. Chambray is just one of those fabrics that can’t go unnoticed; love it or hate it, its unique texture sets it apart from the rest and adds a fresh and relaxed feel to any look. This updated take on the traditional chambray shirt, by Sir Paul Smith, features 2 front pockets, contrasting white stitching and cream buttons. Top it off with this navy lambswool shawl collar cardigan by Fred Perry, for added warmth and a play on the different hues of blue. The wooden-like buttons and padded elbows make it all the more interesting. On the bottom, a pair of white jeans: one of the most terrifying pieces for most men (more on that on a future post). White is neutral, so as long as you keep your jeans fitted and simple, you can mix them with pretty much everything. This pair by Nudie Jeans Co. are slim fitting and will treat you good. In what regards footwear, D.S.Dundee’s chestnut oxford brogues in contrasting leather (grain/soft) take it to the next level. Accessory wise, a soft cashmere Stewart tartan scarf by Ralph Lauren will keep you warm while introducing a new color to the look, adding flare and an invigorating twist. Finally, this seamed buffalo leather shopper by Zara is perfect for carrying around your belongings and is a perfect match for those outstanding brogues.
Bear in mind that these looks are mere suggestions to get you inspired.
Fred Perry Lambswool Shawl Collar Cardigan - 137€ @ Asos.
Paul Smith Washed Chambray Shirt - 136€ @ Paul Smith.
Nudie Jeans Thin Finn Extreme Bleach Jeans - 129€ @ Nudie Jeans.
D.S.Dundee Chestnut Oxford Brogues - (approx.) 385€ @ D.S.Dundee.
Ralph Lauren Stewart Tartan Cashmere Scarf - (approx.) 200€ @ Ralph Lauren.
Zara Buffalo Leather Seamed Shopper - 99€ @ Zara.