The cult of the gilet

Last summer I attended a reunion at my prep school. The occasion was the leaving of a much-loved master. I thought that the appropriate thing to wear would be a tweed jacket in honour of prep-school masters everywhere. I found myself woefully overdressed. Pretty much all of my contemporaries were wearing gilets. It was a similar story this year at the Fortnum & Mason awards, the Oscars of the British food and drink scene. I wore a suit, but it seemed as if every other guest was casually sporting a gilet. When I was growing up the only people who wore gilets were fishermen, farmers and Michael J. Fox in

The art of the pocket square

When imagining a monarch’s wardrobe, what comes to mind? With the late Queen, it was bold-coloured dresses (as she famously said, ‘I have to be seen to be believed’), elaborate hats, silk headscarves and those black Launer handbags. Our new King is no less a style icon. For him it’s well-tailored double-breasted suits from Anderson & Sheppard (probably well-worn, for His Majesty is a great advocate of make do and mend – the suit he wore to Harry and Meghan’s wedding was 34 years old), Turnbull & Asser shirts, hats from Lock & Co. and probably the odd tartan kilt. But it is his collection of pocket squares that I

The curious business of luxury watches

Ian Fleming once said that a gentleman’s choice of timepiece said as much about him as his Savile Row suit. The latter part of that evaluation seems anachronistic now – after all, who apart from Jacob Rees-Mogg wears Savile Row suits with any regularity these days? But the idea of the watch as indicator of taste, status, wealth and much else besides is, arguably, still valid – and perhaps increasingly so. Luxury watch sales are on the up and predicted to rise further – remarkable given the cost-of-living crisis, their inessential nature and an alarming rise in theft. Watches of Switzerland, who recently opened a multi-brand Canary Wharf showroom, saw

This old thing: the new fashion brag

The skirt I’ve worn most often recently is long, blue and as comfortable as it is flattering. ‘Why, thank you,’ I reply with a satisfied smile when I’m complimented on its delicate floral print and the way it swishes as I walk. ‘It’s Dorothy Perkins, 2011.’ I may not be able to distinguish Dolce & Gabbana from Dior or have set foot in a clothes shop fitting room since 2020, but when it comes to the newest form of fashion bragging, I excel. Nowadays, you see, it’s not the number on the price tag that counts, but the number of years you’ve owned the garment you’re wearing – and my

Dress like Macron to cut your energy bills

The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has urged civil servants to trade shirts and ties for woollen polo necks under their suits. It’s part of a drive to heat ministries to no warmer than 19°C – a policy that is compulsory in all government buildings except hospitals and care homes. French petit fonctionnaires can take inspiration from President Emmanuel Macron, who has been leading by example in a classic black polo neck. Ca chauffe! Le Maire’s suggestion has been criticised right and left. The leader of the opposition, Marine Le Pen, tweeted ‘Don’t have enough heating? Let them wear cashmere’, and Gaspard Gantzer, a former adviser to the socialist

Why Charles is the King of Savile Row

No one who has watched the events of the past ten days could doubt the King’s commitment to his late mother – or to his people. But I think another of Charles III’s commitments is also becoming apparent: one to British tailoring. From his black-braided morning suit when he addressed the Houses of Parliament at Westminster Hall to the ceremonial Air Marshal’s uniform he wore to process the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to her lying-in-state, His Majesty has been nothing less than impeccably attired at every turn. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that we’ve got probably the best-dressed head of state in the world. As Prince of Wales, Charles

Neckerchiefs are a sartorial risk worth taking

Neckerchiefs are an oddity. Once the cowboys’ sweat-wiping tool, they are now a key accessory in the glamour – or camp and borderline tack – of a flight attendant’s uniform. My approach to them tends to sit somewhere in the middle. Neckerchiefs are useful, stylish, rebellious, but comforting – a rare choice for men’s fashionwear. A neckerchief can spice up a dull-coloured shirt without imprisoning your neck in a collar choked by its distant relative, the tie. But before becoming the fabric embodiment of smart-casual, the neckerchief was wholly utilitarian. Sailors began wearing them in the 16th century to combat the discomfort caused by dripping sweat rubbing against their stiff-collared shirts.

The return of the cigar

Once mainly associated with portly, middle-aged men of a certain social standing, cigars – along with single malt whisky, fine wine, decent watches and interesting cars – have become part of the arsenal of interests that anyone who aspires to be a 21st century gentleman is almost required to hold dear.  But the current enthusiasm for cigar smoking is merely the latest stage in a slow burn of popularity that can be traced back to the so-called ‘loadsamoney economy’ of the late 1980s, when flash city boys saw a top quality Cuban as just another hedonist’s accessory on which to splash a large amount of cash. Although that bubble inevitably

Could a classic car save you money?

It’s often said that classic cars are one of the best investments around, with some models outstripping the profits to be had in property, art and even gold. The problem is, it’s not really true. Yes, if you were smart enough to buy, for example, a McLaren F1 for £2m a decade ago then you could cash it in today for a tidy profit of at least £8m, and if you happened to snap-up a Ferrari 250GTO in the late 1990s for what might then seemed like an astronomical $7m, it could now be worth something approaching seven times as much.Other blue chip collectable classics have also performed exceptionally well,

Forget the Budget – who is Rishi Sunak’s tailor?

I was at a straight forward shooting weekend up in North Yorkshire in early January. During elevenses, passions around Brexit and the general election were fiery even before the sloe gin had kicked in. From the estate owner to the gamekeepers and beaters, they all said the same thing, “we saw it coming”. They poured scorn on some MPs who had returned their seat, from both sides of the political divide. Most fascinatingly, they all agreed on something one of them said, “well we have Rishi Sunak as our MP and he is terrific.” I’ll take their word for it. Not wanting to get too bogged down in the politics

Why will so few shops sell me at three-button suit

Last week I walked along Jermyn Street, spiritual home of the gentleman’s suit, and noticed something shocking. The jackets in the shop windows had lots of materials — tweed, cotton, wool — in all colours, shades and checks. But every single jacket had two buttons. When did tailors get so boringly uniform? Why has the three-button suit — the classic style that dominated the 20th century — been wiped off the map? As a diehard three-button man, am I a fogeyish dinosaur, a walking Bateman cartoon: ‘The Man Who Wore a Three-Button Suit in the 21st Century’? I seek solace (and a new three-button suit, in storm- grey, 13-ounce birdseye