It was Tom Ford who said that “dressing well is a form of good manners” and no-one does good manners quite like the British. London is the home of men’s wear, and has been driving men’s trends for centuries, whether through the brands like Hackett or Pink that were founded here, or those like Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton and Armani, that have been inspired by the great men’s wear traditions that are behind the look of the classic English gentleman. (Main picture, above, model wears suit from Hackett.)
Like all classics worthy of icon status, this is a simple look made great by the minutiae that set each item apart. Here are our top five essential buys to get the look.
THE THREE PIECE SUIT
A classic British-cut is not very padded on the shoulders, has flap pockets, a notch or peak collar, and double vents at the back – a feature evolved from horseback riding. At the Hackett store on Sloane Street, ready-to-wear suits can be tailored for a perfect fit, which is paramount in looking as sharp as 007.
Backstage at Hackett A/W 2014 (Hackett, 137 Sloane Street)
A PAIR OF OXFORDS OR DERBIES
Formal shoes with laces are split into two sorts, Derbies and Oxfords. Derbies, which are less formal, are distinguished by the fact that the “facing” (where the lace eyelets are located) is open at the bottom, while an Oxford’s facing is closed through being sewn under the “vamp”, or the top of the shoe. Within these styles there are various details: toecaps, which are stitched over the toe, brogueing, which refers to the decorative holes punched into the leather, and wingtips, which are a bigger toe cap in the shape of a bird’s wings in flight and are the defining feature of a full brogue (AKA wingtip). We love J Crew’s pared back answer to a dressy derby.
J Crew Ludlow Shoe (J Crew, 16 Sloane Square)
A SHAWL-COLLAR CARDIGAN
The cardigan takes its name from the Seventh Earl of Cardigan, who was famously in command of the cavalry at the Charge of the Light Brigade. Legend has it that the earl invented the style because he wanted a sweater he could put on without mussing his coiffure. We love this one by Rag & Bone. Wear under your suit for a modern twist.
Rag & Bone cardigan (Rag & Bone 13-14 Sloane Square)
A BRIEF CASE
Whether it’s used to get documents or your iPad from A to Z, a gentleman’s briefcase is an appendage to his style and should be made from the best leather, with timeless details. Smythson does the best.
Smythson Document Case (Smythson, 141 Sloane Street)
A woven silk tie, in a classic stripe, worn with a spread collar. Pink has a veritable spectrum of options.
Tie from Pink (Thomas Pink, 162B Sloane Street)