I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions and any thoughts of giving up alcohol for January soon disappear when I arrive in Florence for Pitti Uomo.
Even so, this year I’ve been struck with an unexpected yearning to dress better. Not in a fashionable or ‘on-trend’ sense, but I do want to smarten up a little. This is probably influenced by a Christmas period of watching far too many mid-century period dramas, or maybe I’m just getting old, but I miss the days of dressing properly. Not an in over-the-top dandy with spats kind of way, but there’s a real pleasure to be found just feeling well put-together.
Of course, making any meaningful changes to one’s wardrobe takes a little time and effort, but I am enjoying the process and you will too. Replacing jeans and chinos with tailored trousers is a good upgrade (I would say that, given my work at Kit Blake) but it is essential that your trousers have a good crease down the front. Avoid trouser presses at all costs – ineffective things that they are. Instead, iron them through a damp cloth and hang full-width from the hem to keep them looking crisp.
I have also requested that my laundry should lightly starch my shirts, the improvement of appearance to the collar is significant but it cries out for a tie. I enjoy wearing a tie even when I don’t have to and will spend a few minutes each day getting the knot just right. Of course, you must wear decent shoes in good repair and with a good shine to them too. Of late, I’ve been enjoying darker shoes and I’ve fallen back in love with black calf. Highly shined black shoes look great with tailoring in urban settings and my favourite go-to is the Crockett & Jones Westbourne – I like the definition that the punching gives to the toe-cap.
I usually wear a waistcoat with tailoring. It’s an easy and practical way to smarten your appearance. A well-cut vest keeps everything in place, hides your trouser waistband and an inevitably creased shirt towards the end of the day. They can also be worn with blazers or instead of a jacket.
A blue blazer, grey flannel trousers and suede brogues is a classic combination that isn’t worn enough today, and it allows for plenty of variation. In my current mindset, I would probably swap the brogues for a pair of Hallam in Dark Brown Burnished Calf. I like the simplicity of the design that allows the leather to be the focus.
I used to wear jeans every weekend, but these days I prefer flannels and although it is quite the thing to pair them with “smart trainers” (and I even advocate for them my own brand – sorry!) I prefer the comfort of Chelsea boots. The Chelsea III in Chestnut Burnished Calf combines well with my trouser rotation, and I have darkened them a little with black polish.
When I’m not wearing a shirt and tie, I’ll usually wear a simple merino crewneck and a scarf around my neck. This is a clean-looking and grown-up outfit for weekend errands and in the comfort of home I switch my boots for velvet Albert slippers.
I am not sure if this will last but I am hoping some stylish souls out there might join me. Fingers (and toes) crossed.