Tag Archives: Menswear

Capsule Piece #4 – Blazer

I am again drawn to write about yet another capsule piece that has an androgynous air to it – the Blazer.

What is it about these masculine items that make them so appealing?  Perhaps it is the apparent simplicity of the shape that works, the clean, uncluttered lines that can help to showcase the more  intricate blouse or dress underneath.  There are plenty of variations depending on your body shape and particular style.



I have a bit of a crush on Zoe Ball – there, it’s out.  She is a woman who understands  what it takes to wear a blazer with the kind of assertive, feminine air that I love and admire.  She rarely subscribes to a typical way of feminine dressing and always has a rock-chick air about the way she presents herself.  A blazer, skinny jeans, sublime shoes and a bit of sparkle underneath, be it a rock T or satin blouse.  I am an avid Strictly fan, but this year she was the star of the whole series hosting the accompanying Strictly “It Takes Two” on BBC2.  I loved every outfit she wore – without exception.

It’s as if the most important aspect of dressing like this is what you leave out, what you don’t wear.  It should be about the tailoring, the structure, the fit.

To wear a blazer well, make sure you keep a feminine touch.  That is where the skill comes in.

  • As with the trench coat, turn up or push up the sleeves in a slightly irreverent way.  This looks even beter if the lining is a different colour.
  • Don’t wear it too formally.  Jeans look great, as do Converse All Stars and an ageing Rolling Stones T.
  • Belt it.  When a blazer fits well, a skinny belt worn over the top and tied or knotted can look fantastic.
  • Check the proportions.  If you are going for a looser boyfriend fit make sure that the shoulders don’t resemble those of an american footballer.  The cut should be looser and slightly less structured than a classic fitted blazer, but not cavernous.  This style looks great with slim or skinny fit trousers.
  • One or two buttoned single breasted styles are great classics and will last for years.

A tailored jacket is a great staple for any capsule collection.  Wearing a tailored jacket can be an instant posture improver, pulling your shoulders back to where they should be.  They are also great for masking any little figure flaws, smoothing the silhouette and avoiding cling.  It is certainly worth considering investing in quality – as is the case with many of the capsule pieces I write about.  

Until the next time…



Capsule Piece #3 – Trench Coat

Inheriting a house is a good thing, but inheriting an iconic trench coat is something else, especially if it’s a Burberry.

I haven’t inherited one myself, although my Mum does have a beautiful Aquascutum trench waiting in the wings, but there was a wonderful serendipitous moment when I spied the perfect Burberry in the window of a charity shop in Wokingham five years ago.  I couldn’t quite believe my eyes: size 10, classic beige, horn buttons, leather trim belt and the style number label intact in the pocket.  At £25 I made a bee line for the nearest bank and came back cash in hand to embark on a hopefully long lasting relationship with my new best friend.  I immediately had the length adjusted by my other best friend (seamstress) and changed the buttons to chocolate brown to give it a new twist and there we have it – perfection!

A trench coat should look like it’s been yours forever, the skin you live in.  Originally designed and developed for officers in the trenches of WW1 (do we all know the story?), the trench coat was created for a specific purpose – to protect and galvanise it’s wearer against the most hideous of environmental elements.

We have remained faithful to this classic design for a number of reasons:

Patriotism plays a significant part.  It is a symbol of all that is great about British design, something of which we are tirelessly proud and that is envied around the globe.

The aesthetic.  Beautifully balanced proportions, a double breasted design that seems to defy many traditional styling rules by not widening your frame.

Great craftsmanship.  When you look at the construction in detail you see exactly what it is you are paying for:  seams that can withstand enemy bombardment and fabrics that can repel the worst that the wheels of any articulated lorry can deliver.

Versatility for both sexes is another thing.  It’s universal appeal is undeniable.

So, how do you wear it? My advice is don’t be prim and proper.

For women it needs to look nonchalant, so push up the sleeves and tie the belt, don’t buckle it. What do you wear it with?  Everything of course!  This is the one coat that can go over anything including your jeans, LBD or the most glamorous of evening dresses.  And we’ve all seen the femme fatale wearing it over the briefest whispers of lingerie.  Just be careful not to look too “classic” in it with twinsets and frumpy skirts.  It’s a lifestyle piece, a statement, not simply a piece of clothing.

Men should wear it with the same ease.  Layer it over a t shirt and blazer with dark indigo jeans.  Wear it smartly with Chelsea boots  and cashmere scarf or with converse sneakers and a zip neck sweater.  Thrown over a tux and you’re on to a winning look.

You can find versions of the classic trench coat all over the high street from supermarket retailers to the highest of high end designers.  Look at your pocket and see what you can stretch to.

Having owned an original at a bargain rail price, would I be prepared to pay the hefty £850 + price tag for a new Burberry?  I believe I might be persuaded. Granted, it would take me some time to save for it (gonna need a bigger piggy bank!), but knowing that it will probably last me for the rest of my days could make it the wisest of investments, an investment that my daughter might even enjoy.

Gentlemen – Can I Collar you for a moment?

When you go shopping for a new shirt, are you the kind of guy who simply pulls a shirt off a rack, with a cursory glance declare “that’ll do”, then sweep swiftly away to the counter thinking ” job done”?

For many men, a shirt is a shirt is a shirt.  It’s a piece of clothing that may or may not be worn with a tie, can be tucked or untucked and whose design changes very little over time so that you can own one for years without it needing to be replaced (shirts from the 70′s are exempt from this for good reason).  I have visited many wardrobes that contain faithful old shirts from the distant past that haven’t been thrown or replaced because they still work.  But are they working in the right way for you?

What are the key considerations when buying a shirt?

One of the most important elements is the collar.  Every collar style is designed with a specific aim, to do certain things for the wearers appearance.  I’m not just talking about formal or casual appearance here, I am referring to how a collar works with your features, emphasising the positive and detracting from the negative.
Style #1 – The classic Regular Pointed collar is a staple that’s readily available wherever you go.  It’s the reliable standard shape that works well with or without a tie, done up or undone.  There are no frills here, no variation in proportions.  This is the shirt that will see you through all occasions.

Next, the Cutaway or Spread collar.  The straight cut version is often called a Windsor collar after the Duke of Windsor.  Another version, sometimes known as the Varsity collar, has a gentle outward curved edge – very much favoured by europeans.  They are wide to accomodate a wide knot tie, such as the full Windsor knot and work well for slim necks and long faces, adding width and drawing the eye across the face and neck.  The look is still fresh even today and work particularly well with two tone shirts.  This style should should not be worn informally.


Style #3 is the Button-down collar.  A favourite of many American IT companies, the button down is seen as smart casual rather than formal and can be worn with or without a tie.  One request is please, please, always button the collar down.  They can look very scruffy indeed if left loose.  This was a Mod era favourite.


Next is the Tab Collar.  This isn’t readily available everywhere.  It has a wonderful crisp neatness in it’s appearance and, due to it’s long point and lengthened appearance it can help a round face look longer and slimmer.  Worn with a tie, the tab pushes the knot forward helping it stand out.  Not recommended for men with long slim faces.


And finally, the Wing Collar.  Definitely the most formal of all collars.  This is traditionally reserved for dinner suits and wedding attire – unless you consider yourself a trend leader and have your own way of rocking this look.


There are plenty of other variations and, as trends change, the selection available can become more and more confusing.  Just as with all other garments it is about proportion and balance between your features and figure and the garments themselves.  The better you understand your finer points, the more you can make of them.

And that’s where I can help.