Why Every Man Should Own A Boating Jacket

One of the best items in my wardrobe is actually a fairly recent addition, and with the slight inkling of the possible hint of sunshine I feel that its time to bust out the Boating Jacket.

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The Samuel Windsor- Torbay Jacket

A boating jacket is both smart and light weight, and can be worn as both a slightly more formal attire (ie with a tie) and as some sort of smart casual piece (I only put this in theory, I wont ever try it in practice). But lets face it in this day and age (because who goes to a regatta) they stand out, it adds a bit of colour to your wardrobe. And to be honest this is something I’ve been talking about a fair bit lately, formal men’s clothes have a tendency to be either black, navy or grey, what is wrong with injecting a little bit of colour into your sartorial game?

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Me Rocking The Boating Blazer

But the other thing that really works about a proper boating Jacket is that they are usually made out of some sort of cotton or linen so are actually pretty light to wear out and about, so you can look good without having to worry about sweating your proverbial’s off.

So go get one. I recommend checking out the range from Samuel Windsor here.

A History of the Bow Tie

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There are two types of people who wear a bow tie, the fanciest of the fancy, those attending some black tie gala or white tie state dinner. And the old school sort of academic, the kind who wears decades old tweed, with patches on the elbows. But whether you’re wearing it with tweeds or a tux, how much do you actually know about the knot at your neck?

The earliest examples of the bow tie, came about during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which was fought between the powers of the Habsburg States, and the powers of Central Europe, over who the hell knows what, but the ties them self have developed form the scarves worn by Croatian mercenaries that were used to tie closed their shirt openings. This was adapted into the cravat by the French (Cravat, being a derivative from the word Croat, the people of Croatia), versions of which are still worn as formal wear today, the cravat knot was then adapted into a bow, and then as most things do over time (phones, I pods, etc) the bows got smaller, and then by the turn of the 20th century, the bow tie was pretty much as we know it today, especially with the advent of the pre tied, ready made bow tie.

I myself have been known to rock the bow tie from time to time (black or white tie events seem to crop up almost weekly) and I’ll be completely honest, I look good.

A Gentleman’s Guide To Buying Ladies Clothes

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Buying clothes for a woman is a nightmare. No. Its more like watching a train wreck in slow motion, but knowing that you have the power to to stop it at any time, but still go ahead with it anyway, its going to be carnage, but you’ve made the decision, the fault is yours. But if you are stupid enough to give it a go there are some things that you should probably try and be aware of because no man can pull off getting the perfect ball gown with less than a few minuets notice, no matter what James Bond can do, and those rules are:

  1. Sizes: Women don’t use normal sizes, there is no practical logic behind women’s clothe sizes. I mean what the hell is a size 10, is that XXL or is it tight on a super model? Men’s sizes are practical, we use inches, I can work out that I’ll need an 18 1/2 shirt because my neck is 18 1/2 inches in diameter. But seriously women’s sizes make no sense. And by Thor’s ginger pubes you better know what size your lady is going in. DO NOT ASK WHAT SIZE SHE IS. Use a little detective work to find out (check labels), because if you get it wrong you are in for a load of trouble. Too big and this could be seen as an insult, but too small can also be tricky too. Also you have to take into account things like bust size, and hip size, which is never really a consideration many men have to make, unless you are pretty damn unfortunate I mean before trying to buy clothes for my wife, I thought a bust was something that ravens perched on.
  2. Buy things she’ll actually wear: If the lady you’re buying for doesn’t wear incredibly short leather mini skirts on a regular basis, chances are it isn’t just down to the lack of one in her wardrobe, and if she lives and dies in jeans, chances are she won’t really appreciate a puffy prom dress. So what you need to do is buy things that she might wear, and not just what you would like to see her in. By all means go with a colour she might not normally wear (but would work with her colouring) but above all make sure that it fits in with her style or signature look.
  3. Find the line: Lets face it, if you’re buying clothes its obviously because you want to see her dress a certain way, or she’s broke and you’re a stand up bloke, but its imperative that you find the line between what you think will look good, and what she will, and hope its pretty close, because otherwise you would be better just giving her the money.
  4. Complete the look: Its so much easier being a man, after you have an outfit sorted that’s it. But not so for women, they have to pick the accessories, the jewellery, the bag, and perhaps most importantly the shoes, and they aren’t as equally on point as the outfit itself, the whole ensemble it a let down.
  5. Upkeep: If it involves fiddly ironing or dry cleaning just put it down and walk away, no body has time for that sort of thing anymore.

Hopefully this helps you navigate the minefield that is women’s clothing, but the most important rule is: Don’t get your hopes up; even if somehow you do manage to pull off the perfect outfit in the correct size and colour with corresponding shoes, bag and jewellery (although you’d probably be the first) chances are, it’ll only ever be worn once, then end up in the wardrobe for eternity with frequent trips to the floor when she declares that she has nothing to wear.

You’ll also notice I haven’t touched on the subject of buying Lingerie, but if I ever figure that one out, then I’ll write a guide to that too.

Slim Fit Is The Devil

I’m a fat guy. I’m not morbidly obese, but in all honesty I am carrying a fair bit of weight in my gut, I have a 48 inch chest, but the problem is that I have a 52 inch stomach, which makes buying clothes off the peg a bit of nightmare, actually scratch that, it makes it an almost Danteish like hell of epic proportions. You have that moment of excitement, that little thrill of anticipation and then BANG right in the cojones, that huge steel toed boot of dissapointment when you see the words slim fit, and you realise that you would never be able to do the thing up, or if you could, one deep breathe could send a button hurtling across the room.

Now I hear you  saying, but surely you but bespoke, and the truth is I would like to, but my budget doesn’t really stretch to it at the moment, so this is why buying a bigger size and getting alterations done is also out, because also slim fits will often come up short in other areas like the sleeve or in overall length as well, and this is why I despair. It is next to impossible for a larger gent to look good on a budget, you either have to buy tailor made from china (which lasts about three wears and then falls apart) or you have to buy second hand, which just looks shabby, so if you want to look sharp when you are in fact round, what do you do? I wish I knew, and before you suggest losing weight, this has long been an issue for me, no matter how much my weight fluctuates, I can’t remember the last time I was able to pick something up on the high street, even at my most skinny.

A Gentleman’s Guide To Buttonholes

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A buttonhole, or a boutonniere is a floral accessory, which is worn by men on the lapel, in times gone by, the buttonhole would have been common among everyday attire for a gentleman about town, but now in the modern age, it is reserved for the more formal of occasions, in particular weddings.

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Traditionally one is worn through the buttonhole (hence the name) on a jackets lapel, which is more often than not located on the left hand side of a blazer (usually the same side as the breast pocket, with which a handkerchief may also be worn), originally the boutonniere would be worn pushed through the buttonhole itself, but in times where buttonholes on the lapel are often sewn shut it is more common for the boutonniere to pinned to the lapel.

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Originally in times past the buttonhole would have been made from an actual flower, but today, it is a more used practice to use an artificial flower, either from silk or some other man made material.

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My collection of silk buttonholes

They don’t actually have much of a practical purpose, but as accessories go, they are pretty natty, and they do manage to add that little bit extra to a gentleman’s outfit.

A Gentleman’s Guide To Cufflinks

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Cufflinks are items of jewellery that are used to secure the cuffs of dress shirts. Cufflinks can be manufactured from a variety of different materials, such as glass, stone, leather, metal, precious metal or combinations of these. Securing of the cufflinks is usually achieved via toggles or reverses based on the design of the front section, which can be folded into position. There are also variants with chains or a rigid, bent rear section. The front sections of the cufflinks can be decorated with gemstones, inlays, inset material or enamel and designed in two or three-dimensional form.

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Cufflinks on a double cuff

Cufflinks are designed only for use with shirts which have cuffs with buttonholes on both sides. These may be either single or double-length (“French”) cuffs.

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Cufflinks were introduced as far back as the 1600’s but didn’t gain popularity until the end of the 1800’s and have been a part of mens formal wear since. Today, they form part of formal wear and are an integral part of both black and white tie, and also give something extra to a gentlemans business attire. However as part of the everyday, they seem to have fallen a little by the wayside, but hopefully that’s just in the short term.

How To Wear White Tie

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White tie is probably the most formal attire a person can wear, without being decked out in medals and a uniform. These days it isn’t really worn much, but every once in a while you will find it brought back into practice. And in this day and age where detachable collars no longer exist, you may need to know what how to pull off this classic and elegant look.

The Shirt 

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First off, you’ll need a nice cotton dress shirt. it needs to be plain fronted (by which I mean, no pleats) with a wing collar, double cuffs and with studs, not buttons (although stud buttons are an OK alternative)

The Trousers 

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Evening trousers with a satin stripe, please. Which means no belt, so suspenders (braces for you yanks) and you should keep those in white.

The Waistcoat

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The waistcoat should be white obviously, and made of marcella cotton, and ideally will be backless, this allows ventilation, and a little breeze up there can be a god send in a crowded ballroom

The Tie

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The Tie should be made of a marcella cotton, that matches the waistcoat. And should always be the kind of tie that you have to tie yourself. You can always tell when someone is wearing a ready made bow tie, especially when worn with a wing collar.

The Tails 

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You should be wearing a black tailcoat with silk peak lapels, the buttons should also be silk covered.

Shoes 

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Patent leather black lace ups are the only thing that can be worn well with white tie. Keep it simple though, a little brogue like design is OK, but anything over the top will just ruin the look

Accessories 

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You can Add your own personal touches with a pocket watch, cufflinks a pocket square or a boutonniere shoved in your button hole.