A Gent’s Guide To Buying Off The Rack

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Not everyone can afford to buy a hand stitched, pure wool, bespoke, Saville Row masterpiece. Many men will, especially in their younger days, have to resort to buying their suits off the rack, which is to say, ready made. They’ll walk into a shop find the closest approximate fit, pay and then walk out. And for most people who only wear a suit for weddings and funerals, whats the point in investing beaucoup bucks in something that’ll only be worn a dozen times in a lifetime?

So here are somethings that you’ll need to remember.

Size

The size tends to go in inches, a jacket or blazer will be measured by the full circumference of your torso, under your armpits, across your chest. Jackets will generally come in a short, a regular or a long, this refers to sleeve length as well as to the length of the overall jacket.

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Trousers will, again, be measured in inches around the waist, and also come in Short (approx 28-29 Inches), Regular (approx 31-32 Inches) or Long (33-34 Inches) and will be measured on the inside of your leg.

Waistcoats will take the same measurement as the blazer, although if sporting a larger midriff than chest, it is advised to go for a larger size as needed.

Fit 

 

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These days suits come in Three fits (for the most part) and these are regular, tailored and slim.  Slim fit suits are very form fitting, and not flattering on the larger gent. Regular fits are more relaxed, however have the tendency to look boxy on slimmer people. Tailored fits are a mix of the two, being slightly fitted, but not overly slim.

Price 

The lower end of the price scale is anything under £100, and is ideal for everyday business wear and for the one off formal occasion.

The mid range for suits starts around £150 and quality begins to show here, and run up to anything around £350 (if you’re going for designer brands, chances are you’ll be paying on the higher end of this spectrum).

The Higher cost range goes from anything above £500, and this is getting into the point where if you’re spending this sort of money on an off the rack suit, you have more money than sense, because for this sort of price, you are also looking at the middle price range for tailor made suit anyway.

If you are on a budget, an off the peg suit may be a good investment, especially if you are going to wear it, because even if it wasn’t made with you in mind, a decent one will still look sharp, and in this age of track suits and denim, a man in a nice suit will still stand out.

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.

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 Top Hats

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Its the 21st century, you’re probably thinking, who on earth wears a top hat any more? well you’d be surprised.

A top hat is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat, worn by men from the latter part of the 18th to the middle of the 20th century. By the end of the Second World War, it had become a rarity in ordinary dress, although it does continue to be worn in specific instances, such as state funerals.

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The Royal Garden Party 2017

As of the early 21st century, top hats are still worn at some society events in the UK, notably at church weddings and racing meetings attended by members of the royal family, such as Royal Ascot. They remain part of the formal uniform of certain British institutions, such as the boy-choristers of King’s College Choir. They are usually worn with morning dress or white tie, in dressage, and as part of servants’ or doormen’s livery.

I have worn a top hat, when alcohol wasn’t involved, once in my life, and that was to the queens garden party last year. I also wore one (the same one) for a few jokey photos at my wedding reception.

Men’s Cosmetics: What I use

The world of men’s cosmetics can be a tricky minefield, so here is a little look at some of the everyday essentials I use…almost every day.

 

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Wilkinson’s Sword: Shaving Soap and Brush

Nivea: Refreshingly Soft Moisturising Cream

Right Guard Xtreme Invisible Antiperspirant Deodorant

Beverly Hills White Black Formula Perfect Toothpaste

Loreal Paris: Studio Line Go Create Sculpting Spritz

BEMO: Premium Beard Oil

How To Wear Black Tie

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I’ve had a lot of formal things to go to over the last few weeks and and it seems to me that no one does black tie anymore, its all lounge suits and regular ties. Black tie is a dying thing. But if you ever thought of bringing it back here are few things that you should remember

  1. Black tie means black (with one or two exceptions). Black is elegant and chic and on most (not all) people is pretty slimming and whilst there has been a fashion for navy blue lately this really doesn’t work well in daylight, or environments where there is going to be a lot of light
  2. The Bow Tie and Lapel material should always match (as should a cummerbund). The only exception to this rule is if you are going for a velvet bow tie (which you should only really consider if you’re wearing a velvet jacket).
  3. Cummerbund vs Waistcoat: This debate has raged for decades, and while either is fine you should bear in mind a few things, waistcoats are hot, but cummerbunds are a little impractical if you have a little bit (or a lot of) a stomach.
  4. If your shirt has buttons on the cuff it is not a dress shirt, dress shirts require cufflinks and the buttons are either hidden or are replaced with studs, the point of black tie is to hide all practical points of clothing, buttons are either missing or covered.
  5. Wing collars, fashions change so don’t feel that you have to have a wing collar, but they do look good.
  6. Shoes should be black leather, whether they are patent leather or not is a personal choice, but it does add to look if they are.

I hope this has helped in some way or another, and you rock up to your next formal dressed to kill

How To Look A Million Dollars, When You’re Worth About £2.80

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They say that looking good comes naturally, but dressing well takes a massive bank balance. I have often found this to be the case. A decent suit will cost in excess of £200, a good pair of shoes will set you back to almost 3 digits and that doesn’t even begin to factor in the cost of, shirts, boxers, socks and various other accessories that you need in order to look like a functioning member of the human race. It isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t cheap, to get a wardrobe from the pages of GQ. Here are some tips that should help ease up the burdens on those purse strings.

  1. Online Tailors: Using online tailors can save you an absolute fortune, to get a tailored suit in the UK, from scratch will cost you over £200, but using an online tailor, usually from the far east, you can get a completely bespoke, made to measure suit from as little as £35.
  2. charity shops: Vintage is always in, and charity shops are a great way of finding those vintage threads for rock bottom prices, to be honest, you may spend days routing through charity shops trying to find that one amazing item, and a lot of the time you will come away empty-handed, but its an immeasurable feeling when you do find that piece that is just you.
  3. Up-cycling: Sometimes you just give in and buy that hideous jacket from the charity shop, purely out of social embarrassment, Brenda behind the counter has been eyeing you since you walked in, so you snap and buy the old blazer in your size. So now in order to make this purchase wearable, you should have the thing seriously dry cleaned to get it looking as good as it ever will, then add a few elbow patches, change the buttons for some extra little bit of flash, and see if maybe you can add some sort of crest to the breast pocket and then you’ve actually got yourself something straight from the pages of Gentleman’s Quarterly.
  4. Cheaper Alternatives: Sometimes you’ll want those £4000 Brioni shoes, but lets face it, why on earth would anyone pay that massive amount for a pair of shoes? Especially when you can get a pair that look pretty damn similar for less than 1% of the cost? I mean outside of a Milanese fashion show, or a Parisian runway who’d notice?
  5. Hair care: Regular haircuts and styling your hair can go a long way to imposing your look on the world, being well turned out, with a haircut you could set your watch by is certainly a way to look like the proverbial big spender, even if you are only getting a £10 haircut once a month and using a Tesco value gel to style it between cuts.
  6. Grooming: Trim that beard, clip those nails, and for god sake pluck those eyebrows. Shave every two days, if you have a beard, define the edges regularly and don’t forget to moisturise. Use teeth whitening toothpaste and for the sake of everyone around you, please use an antiperspirant style deodorant especially if you use public transport, but remember no deodorant should ever replace a regular shower, even with 72 hour protection.
  7. Cologne: Use a nice smelling cologne, it might not make you look any better, but as any blind person will tell you, smell is a distinctive part of your image.

Hopefully these tips will help you to maintain or improve your personal look and even if you don’t quite hit the million dollar mark, at the very least you’ll probably look better than the 50 pence you feel like.