Wednesday, 29 October 2008

British Style Genius - The Country Look

BBC2 broadcast the latest episode in their series British Style Genius. This week was devoted to "The Country Look". It was a bit of a jumble of ideas, skipping from topic to topic:

The Queen as style icon

Barbour jackets

Tweed - traditional tweeds and Dashing Tweeds

Tartan - from traditional kilts to Vivienne Westwood

Also riding coats, trench coats and Laura Ashley. Worth watching on BBC iPlayer if you're in the UK.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Dressing for the downturn

A well-timed ad from Brooks Brothers, sent out to their email distribution list. It re-uses one of their old advertisements from the 1940s.

They recommend buying conservatively-cut, well-made clothes -- things that are made to last.

Good advice then, and good advice now.

The Fashion Report of 1920

The NY Times ran an intriguingly titled story on The Fashion Report of 1920.

It's all about the fashion for traditional clothing and accessories that are functional, even utilitarian: "the auto mechanic jumpsuits, the thermal undershirts, the engineer’s boots, the moccasins and tin cloth jackets and gum boots that so neatly marry form and function that no one has found the need to alter their design for many decades."

It's another example of the Gray Lady getting to the party late, reporting on a trend that's been in full swing for quite some time.

The Times also conflates, I think, three distinct styles.

There's traditional workware - Dickies shirts and carpenter trousers, Red Wing boots and Klein Tools handyman bags (which have lately become fashionable to use as a briefcase or overnight bag).

In contrast, there's traditional outdoor gear from LL Bean and Filson, or for the more British leaning, Barbour jackets and Hunter wellies.

Finally, there's a nod to classic Americana, with basic Levi's jeans and white T shirts. Best quote in the piece came from designer Michael Bastian, a fan of LL Bean Camp Moc shoes, Champion gym shorts, Levi's 501s and Randolph Engineering aviator sunglasses made to US military spec:

"Certain things are just so perfect I can't do it any better. There are things that are perfection in their genericness. I’m not going to touch them. It's like Coke. You can't improve it. I give it to you. You win."

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Tom Ford at Bergdorf Goodman

A few images from Bergdorf Goodman's men's store on 5th Avenue.

I'm not usually a fan of Tom Ford: this NY Times article from last year sums up all that is wrong with the brand. However, a couple of things in Bergdorf's windows caught my eye.

First, a very simple 3 piece striped suit. Apart from the exuberantly-styled pocket handkerchief here, it's an absolute classic.

Second, a tweed 3 piece country suit - although I don't expect this suit would ever get near a field or a pair of muddy boots.

A closer look. It's an extremely bold pattern -- enough to do Huntsman or Richard Anderson proud -- but the muted colours turn it into a very elegant, even subtle, outfit. Not too keen on the bowtie, but again that's down to Bergdorf's sylists.

Robes in NY

After my previous post on the rich selection of robes available on Jermyn Street, New Yorkers no longer have to feel left out. Turnbull & Asser's store on 57th between 5th and Madison has a good selection of silk robes. There's a blue number with polka dot facings and cuffs in the window - quite similar to the Hackett one in my previous post.

The Cadillac of Burgers

P.J. Clarke's saloon opened in 1884 in a plain brick building at the corner of 55th and 3rd Avenue. The building is a holdout. As 3rd Avenue became lined with office blocks in the 1960s, the stubborn owners refused to sell to the developers, with the result that a skyscraper was built around it.

It's long been a favourite eating and drinking den, and it still serves one of the best burgers in the city. Nat King Cole declared their bacon cheeseburger "the Cadillac of burgers".

There's a long bar in the front, which gets packed on weeknights but is a little more manageable at the weekend. The restaurant is in the back, with red-and-white checked tablecloths and old paintings and engravings on the walls.

Frank Sinatra was a regular, and Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman got engaged here (the marriage only lasted two months). Popeye Doyle ate here in The French Connection II. And in the latest confirmation of the bar's old-school credentials, in the Mad Men television series the staff of the Sterling Cooper ad agency drink here.

P.J. Clarke's
915 Third Avenue
New York

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Back from NY

Dawn breaking over the Hudson and Midtown Manhattan, taken from the Jersey City waterfront

The Man of Mode returns from a trip to NY and will be posting again very soon.