My style is classic meets contemporary. I love what modern designers are doing with garment construction and fabrication but there is always something that will draw me back to a classic silhouette. I’m known for my suits, and there’s not much deviation in a suit – it’s just a jacket and a trouser – but these days you can make that feel so much more contemporary. You can be playful, fun and modern, but still classic.
I’ve always been interested in fashion. Whether I was stylish is another thing. Some of the decisions I made in my youth were definitely questionable. But I’ve always loved suits and British designers. In my teens I was quite trend-led and would wear what my peers were wearing, then at university I worked in a clothes shop and was introduced to high-end brands like Dsquared2 and Etro. Usually at university all your money goes on booze and food but all mine went on really expensive clothing. My style developed into the form you see now when I became a lawyer. I started to buy suits for their functionality as well as their form. They served a purpose, but I never wanted my suits to be boring. I always went for a light-hearted fabrication or a fun lining.
I still have all my suits from my mid-20s and you can see the evolution of the cuts. When I first started it was medium rise with a boot cut and then it slowly evolved into a high, wider boxier 1980s Armani style when I no longer had to wear them to work. These days the styles I wear are much more louche, luxurious and oversized, really harping back to the 60s and 70s, rather than that formal, linear cut I used to wear. But I was still the only solicitor I knew who would wear Vivienne Westwood or Paul Smith suits to work. Westwood turned some heads. Partners at the firm couldn’t get their heads around it.
I have no idea how many suits I have but put it this way – there are 40m of rails in our house. My girlfriend has 20m, I have the rest. Nothing leaves my ownership unless it’s going to a better owner.
I can’t possible say who’s the best tailor in London. I’d be lynched! There are some amazing young cutters doing cool things right now – Michael Browne, Harry Mundy and Frances Pally. Young shirtmakers like the guys at Jakes are doing really big things – all bespoke or made to measure. From the more traditional houses on Savile Row, one of my off-the-peg favourites is Richard James. If you’re going bespoke, it has to be Anderson & Sheppard. Ed Sexton is now officially on Savile Row too. I’ve got too many of his suits.
My favourite piece in my wardrobe right now is a suit cut by Claire Waight Keller when she was still at Givenchy. I’ve had it for two years sitting in a suit bag – it’s still waiting for its first outing. For me, her Givenchy tailoring was everything that house should be – the cut, the drape, the fabrication were so perfect. The suit is a watery stone grey, high rise, triple pleat trouser, double breasted, with a really long line silhouette.
At the beginning of a new season I invest in a couple of pieces. I’ve already bought the one summer piece I’ve wanted for a while, a Bodhi shirt. It’s handmade and upcycled – it wasn’t cheap, but it was an investment that will last me forever. I also bought a Jil Sander safari hat, because come rain or shine I wear a hat. Oh, and I got myself a pair of Gucci jelly shoes. I don’t know if they’re acceptable for a 38 year old, but here we are. I’ve also got an amazing archive of pieces I’ve collected over the years, so those three things will fit seamlessly in. If there’s something super trend-lead that I love but don’t have, I’ll try my hardest not to buy it because I don’t want to buy into the notion of directional dressing. But buying seasonal is essential – you need shorts in summer, don’t you. However, I only wear cream, brown, navy and grey, so my wardrobe’s pretty interchangeable.
I designed some shoes for Joseph Cheaney last year. The premise of the capsule was the core styles that I wear the most. It featured a sandal, a farm shoe and a derby – they’re all I wear, whatever the season. The only thing I’d add to that is a really simple white sneaker, like a Common Projects. Harrys Of London have a style – the Nappa – that I’m living in currently.
My biggest investment was probably my first set of bespoke suits I had made in my late 20s. It was definitely the biggest financial outlay I’d made at the time – I spent upwards of £5k on Savile Row. Clothing is a luxury and that price point is not a necessity. You don’t need to spend that much for an everyday suit but wearing a well-cut suit does make you feel a million dollars, whatever its price tag. Buy off the peg and take it to your local tailor; when I was younger I’d shop at Reiss and get it altered to make it look perfect. Box clever – that’s my advice.
My father and my grandfather were my style icons. The latter was the guy who introduced me to British craftmanship – his shoes were always made in Northampton, his suits on Savile Row, and his shirts were from Jermyn Street. The former was an engineer, so his wardrobe was completely different – it was functional denim, drill cotton, and was cut to allow him to move around the machines. It had pockets everywhere. The form and function from both really came together to inform my style.
I don’t want to call them tracksuits but given current circumstances I’ve been living in a lot of, well, tracksuits. I’ve bought a few from Aimé Leon Doré which isn’t good for my bank balance but I am very comfortable. I ruined a Drake’s tracksuit on a dog walk so realised I needed some slightly more affordable leisurewear, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy high-street ones. If it’s cheap, what’s the human cost? I always look for a transparent supply chain and a manufacturing process that isn’t killing the earth.
The word ‘sustainability’ is bandied around a lot now. We all just need to try to do something to be better as consumers. I’m working with resale site Cudoni at the moment – it’s such a clever way to extend the lifecycle of clothing. The service is so easy: they’ll manage everything from the moment they pick up the pieces you want to sell from your house to the moment they’re sold. Once you are finished with a garment, that doesn’t mean its lifecycle has come to an end. It could be loved by someone else and given a second life. We all need to be aware now of the damage this industry does to the planet – second only to the petrol and chemical industry during the manufacturing/haulage process. We should all do whatever we can to mitigate the damage virgin products are doing to the world.
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