Men’s Free Style

February 16, 2009, 17:40
Filed under: Uncategorized


 This blog has now moved. All the posts and more can now be found at:



A concession for the recession
February 10, 2009, 18:01
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I have finally found a piece on the internet discussing the upcoming Uniqlo menswear tailoring range – a concept which even devoid of detail has had me salivating for weeks.

If jackets, waistcoats, shirts and formal trousers “in a palette of both formal darks and ice-cream lights” do in fact appear at the “incredibly affordable” prices reported in the article, I predict all manner of stylish chaos will erupt at the new concession Uniqlo are opening soon in Selfridges to launch the range (said to on 23 February, but the Uniqlo site has it down as 21 February).

My hope is that this will signal a breakout for Uniqlo’s fantastic clothing to a wider audience – but it is also possible to detect in the launch a more fundamental retailing shift? Traditionally, Selfridges have prided themselves on stocking some of the most expensive fashion items known to man (the Topman concession being a rare exception), so it is at the very least unusual for them to be giving over so much space to such a resolutely inexpensive label.

Perhaps (and we can only hope) the downturn is beginning to prompt department stores into re-assessing where the bulk of their business lies and focusing more on providing quality products at affordable prices. I guess only time will tell…

Get shirty
February 9, 2009, 18:43
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

If you have ever wondered whether it’s really worth splashing the cash on designer clothes then this may give you food for thought.

The Observer recruited Paul Smith to give its readers tips on how to create their own ‘designer’ pieces, and here he provides a step-by-step guide to customising inexpensive vintage shirts in order to create something with a more stylish modern cut.


This kind of advice is great for those of us who want to put our own skills to the test and create a wearable piece out of cheap, recycled clothing. But it seems to me that the article is also suggesting that the only extras you get from a designer shirt is superior fabric and a superior cut – both of which appear not to require the usual costs associated with such items.

Paul Smith himself accepts that the vintage shirts you can pick up cheaply are so well-made that even he “spends hours each season looking into the construction details”. And if the patterns he has given away are as good as they purport to be, then improving the shape of an otherwise baggy shirt should also be within the average person’s reach.

Of course I accept that designers like Smith need to invest in the type of technology he describes to come up with original designs for shirts, and it is this whole process you are paying for when you buy his clothes. But if, with a bit of effort, anyone can have a crack at producing something of similar quality without all this expense, you do have to wonder what the point of going designer really is.

Bag it up
February 3, 2009, 16:53
Filed under: Advice | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve just come across this – it looks like charity shops are doing well out of our current money troubles, at least in terms of selling clothes. I think it’s great that people have thought about the savings they can make, both in their wallets and to the clothes mountain recent consumerism has created – but one problem is that it appears to have led to a run on the shops themselves.

So, if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to sort out that bulging wardrobe, have a quick look at my Sharpen Up page and make sure that any unwanted items don’t end up out in the cold, but instead safe and warm in your local Oxfam (or similar).

Failings in launch

The online shopping community appears to be cock-a-hoop this week (and not just because the snow covering Britain at the moment is preventing people from getting to any real shops) following the launch of the menswear collection at

I have to say, I’m struggling to get excited about it. Despite all economic indications to the contrary, the people who run the site obviously think that men are crying out for a new place to spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothes. Although the list of brands available include reasonably-priced favourites of mine like Lyle & Scott and Superga, the majority listed fall into the super-luxury category and (unlike similarly themed site ASOS) betray a distinct lack of originality in the selection. I can’t be the only one wondering what the rationale behind it is.

I would like to think that there will eventually come a time when online retailers wake up and realise that what we’re really looking for is a site that brings together affordable, everyday items – the marketplace model is, after all, savvy and higly user-friendly. But if not even the deepest recession we’ve seen for decades can open their eyes to it, perhaps the sensible money  is on the view that nothing ever will.

Constrasting views
January 29, 2009, 12:26
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , , , ,

I have to admit, I’m usually pretty certain about what I like and what I don’t like when it comes to clothes. But every now and then, I come across something I really can’t make my mind up about.

An article in the Guardian today addresses the issue of Sky News correspondents having taken to wearing shirts with contrast collars (i.e. where the collar is a different colour – usually white – to the rest of the shirt), and alludes to the possible influence that the recent film Frost/Nixon may have had on this.

My immediate response was one of horror. Those shirts were supposed to have gone out with the 1980s (if not before – Frost/Nixon is set in the 1970s, after all), and I’d always had contrasts down as being too flashy and garish to warrant a place in my collection.


But a quick trawl of the net has made me wonder whether it’s me that’s being old-fashioned. Both and have commented favourably on the use of contrasts in a modern man’s wardrobe, going as far as saying they even have a place outside the office.

Ultimately, I think I’m going to have to decline the invitation. To me, there just doesn’t seem to be any point in having a multitude of colours knocking around other than in an attempt to show off. The affected style of dressing common to the 70s and 80s needs to be left where it belongs – after all, when it comes to dressing, I’m not looking for sass. I’m looking for a bit of class.

Plain simple, or just plain dull?
January 22, 2009, 17:53
Filed under: Advice | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Times has proved more thought-provoking today, as ‘Mutton dressed up as lad’ swings (if you’ll pardon the pun, those of you who read the article I’m referring to) back into town.

What is under scutiny is essentially whether plain clothes in muted colours (i.e. traditional golfwear) are a too little dull for the modern links course, but I think the question can be asked on a wider scale. In aspiring to dress more simply, are we condemning ourselves to dressing like a dullard?

I think the answer to that question has to be (unsurprisingly, given the content of this blog) no. All the article seems to be getting at is that guys normally steer clear of bright colours and stripes – as used by brands such as Original Penguin, who sell a pricey but generally stylish collection – but that such things should be embraced as part of the new man’s wardrobe.

I couldn’t agree more – in my view, simple style is not about avoiding vivid colours or patterns, but instead about avoiding garish use of them. A cherry red wool sweater (paired with blue jeans or beige cords) is the perfect tonic for a dreary winter’s day, but a bright purple T-shirt proclaiming that you are ‘Mr Lazy’ (yes, they do exist) is not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that dressing simply doesn’t mean that you put no thought into it and just reach for the nearest white T-shirt. Instead, if you take the time to match things well, you’ll be able to make a statement with whatever your wearing, regardless of the colour.