Monday, September 25, 2006

Bespoke Icon of the Week: David Cameron!

My feelings towards this man are complex to say the least. He's certainly powerful, sexy and devastatingly stylish. His skin is immaculate and his hair is beautiful. But at the end of the day he's still a Conservative. If he really cared about the environment, the health service, society's poorest families, why didn't he join New Labour? You never can trust a Conservative. Not even one with gleaming skin.
The thing that most troubles me is his appearance. At least in the old days you knew where you stood. There were two types of Tory politician. Those who looked like they'd walked out of a massage parlour and those who resembled freshly dug corpses. Either way it was easy to despise them. Mr Cameron, however, is changing all the rules. Young and beautiful, clearly moisturised, he's proving that one needn't look like a blood-sucking Conservative to be one. All you need are some half-decent beauty products and a bespoke tailored suit and you too can be beautiful.
On a more serious note, Mr Cameron's devilishly smart appearance highlights one of the most widespread but largely unacknowledged problems that exist in our society today. Whilst the Conservative Party leader is measured and dressed by the world's finest tailors, the majority of the British population are deprived of this pleasure because they're unable to afford the extortionate prices of bespoke tailored suits. 'A Suit That Fits' exists to address this problem. We are a London-based garment house that provides bespoke tailored suits at prices our customers can afford. Give us your measurements and your style preferences and we create the look you want from just £110. Visit to find out more.

London: Crown Jewel of Fashion since 1700

Having moved very recently to London, all I hear is "Welcome to London!" "Welcome to London!" Sometimes this is said in a serious tone, as if becoming a 'Londoner' is something to be congratulated on. At other times it is accompanied with an ironic twist of a smile and a sharp glint in the eye, as if to say, "Welcome, but we'll see how long you're still smiling." All in all it is very welcoming. Even the shopkeepers smile and say, "How are you?" But more importantly, there's something in the air, something that's proving particularly felicitous for a fashion writer new to London. Everywhere I go - Paddington, Victoria, King's Cross - rolling screens display pouting, life-size models, all of whom move endlessly down pristine catwalks whilst enchanted faces gaze from the sidelines. I find myself stopping among the London hordes, disturbing the businessmen who walk hurriedly by me, whilst I stare, entranced by these impassive creatures. It's enough to take your breath away.

The explanation: it's London Fashion Week.

Before I get too carried away, I'd like to remind you all of the imporant role that London has played in the changing history of men's style, from the earliest days of the Restoration through to the innovations of the Swinging Sixties and the 21st century focus on online tailoring, exemplified by the cutting-edge garment house 'A Suit That Fits'.

The earliest equivalent of the modern day catwalk can be found in the 18th century, when the male members of London's top aristocratic families would parade up and down Hyde Park to show off their beautiful clothes; this was known as the 'Fashionable Hour', though it was, in fact, three hours, from 4.30 to 7.30. Given what we know about 18th century fashion, it must have been an impressive sight. Hand-sewn coats with wide skirts pleated into tight waists were worn over breeches and ruffled shirts. These were often blood red or deep blue or a more subdued black or brown, all of which were popular with the 18th century gentlemen. Today one can only imagine the sight of it - hundreds of gentlemen in brightly coloured coats sauntering beneath a pale blue sky in Hyde Park. "Such a blaze of splendour," said one commentator, "is now to be seen nowhere but in London..."

Towards the end of the 18th century, a strange phenomenon began to spread through the theatres, opera houses and parks of London: the rise of the dandy. The dandy was a sophisticated young man, usually characterised by immaculate personal cleanliness and close attention to appearance. He wore high-collared linen shirts and perfectly tailored pantaloons, partly inspired by the garments of the working class masses, who dominated France after the French Revolution. Whilst the Terror raged on the other side of the channel, a certain darkness, or severity of expression, reigned on the London scene, with black becoming increasingly popular.

With the dawn of the postmodern era in the 20th century and the sexual revolution of the 1960s, all these styles and more were borrowed and blended to create unusual, retro looks. London swung to a different beat and boho-chic was all the rage. Think Mick Jagger, a kind of drug-addled Romantic in ruffled shirt and silk-cravat, or the Beatles, sharp-suited Englishmen with Beatnik hair. Styles proliferated and no 'look' predominated. The individual wore what he wanted when he wanted to wear it.

Now, in the 21st century, grunge is out and tailoring is back. Brand new garment houses such as A Suit That Fits are offering quality tailoring at affordable prices. Thanks to this modern innovation in fashion, even Joe Bloggs can take part in the ancient history of tailoring. When Paul Smith unveiled his collection this week, the beauty of bespoke tailoring was vindicated once more. The suit is evidently the thing to be in.

The Mac Returns

Let’s face it, Clark Kent always was cuter than Superman. The latter may have been unstoppably powerful and good-looking, but how relevant is his ridiculously pumped-up frame, his bryl-creamed quiff and camp attire today? Mr Kent represents something far more interesting: the uncertain man. He may not be able to save the world. He may not be able to pull off lycra. He may even be a coward or a geek. But his bewildered expression and awkward stance stand for that rare and special thing we should value in men: sensitivity.

Why must we look to the strong for our conception of the masculine ideal? Isn’t there something undeniably attractive about those who hide their light under a bushel? Men needn’t be Superman to be attractive and stylish. A little attention to one’s Daily Planet wear… a sheepish look here, an awkward gait there... and already you’re a style icon. So ask yourselves, men, would you rather don a leotard or a suit? Would you be seen dead in a cape or do you prefer this rather fetching mac? Especially now the autumn rain’s come round again…Forget Superman. Be proud of the Clark in you. Visit for some serious Clark Kent chic.