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Origins Of Style – The History Of The Shooting Jacket

A shooting jacket is an item of practical rural attire specifically designed for hunting and other shooting sports, such as clay pigeon shooting. As well as oversized front pockets that allow for the carrying of cartridges and other gun-related paraphernalia, the shooting jacket also has special cuts at the shoulder to allow for easier movement and the ability to lift a gun high to shoot high-flying targets. Many shooting jackets are also waterproof with a breathable liner to cope with adverse weather conditions, and many also have concealed zips to avoid the sctratching of the gun. The Theory of the Duke As for the origins of the shooting jacket, the most commonly cited theory holds that the style was originally invented in the mid-to-late 19th century (sometime in the 1860s to be slightly more precise) by one Henry Fitzalan-Howard, who just happened to be the 15th Duke of Norfolk. Hence one of the jacket’s alternative monikers, the Norfolk jacket. Having been conceived by the duke, the jacket is then said to have been popularised in the 1880s by the then Prince of Wales, who was later to become King Edward VII. As royal fashion was in those days commonly revered and imitated, Edward VII also made the Homburg hat a hit. Although this theory sounds reasonable enough, there is not a lot of evidence to support it, and other theories are also in existence. The Theory of the Earl Another theory holds that the Earl of Leicester, one Thomas William Coke, was more likely the first to wear this famous hunting garment as he gadded about his 43,000 acre Norfolk estate, killing things. Coke was well-known for entertaining England’s nobility at his country pile in the 1820s, where they hunted partridge, pheasants, and doubtless, anything else that wandered into view. The Earl and his posh pals, including the then Prince of Wales and future king, George IV, allegedly adopted the jacket with a wide belt, box pleasts and more spacious patch pockets for the carrying of hunting knickknacks. The belt apparently improved the line of the jacket, as well as keeping out the cold air. Again, there is little solid evidence to support this theory, but it’s not implausible. As far as verifiable facts are concerned, the shooting jacket was definitely worn by the Rifle Corps of the Volunteer Force in 1859 (which rather spoils the first theory). It also appeared in fashion magazines for young boys’ outfits in the same year. We also know for sure that it originated in Norfolk, became popular in 1860s and over the following couple of decades, became increasingly popular with the general public, as rural activities such as fishing and hunting became more widespread. Furthermore, by the 1890s, we know that stylish young men had started wearing it around town, without their gun, because it just looked so damned good.

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Origins of Style – The History of the Pocket Square

Many sartorial historians agree that the origins of the pocket square can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where Greeks of a certain class carried a perfumed cloth around with them to ward off evil smells. Others point to the first century AD when Catholic Church officials attached white handkerchiefs to their left arms to signify their devotion. Others still cite historical documents written by courtiers of King Richard II that pinpoint the 14th century monarch as the official inventor of the designed-for-purpose nose-cleaning cloth. However, is this actually what we mean when we think of the term ‘pocket square’? Is there not some difference between a piece of cloth for wiping drippage from the nose and the purely decorative pocket accessory, often stitched in place? There is now, but this was not always the case.

From Handkerchief to Fashion Accessory

The handkerchief became increasingly popular in the 1400s, when it evolved from practical item to fashion accessory, from cheap cotton cloth to fine silk square. They still came in various different shapes and sizes, but they were becoming status symbols and by the 16th and 17th centuries, embroidered silk and fine lace designs were considered highly valuable, even becoming prized family heirlooms. It is generally believed that some conformity was introduced in the 18th century, when Marie Antoinette came to the decision that it was unseemly to have handkerchiefs of varying sizes and so had her husband Louis XVI decree a standard size of 16 square inches.

Changing to Suit the Suit

When the two-piece suit became fashionable in the 19th century, men decided they no longer wanted their handkerchiefs mixing in with a pocketful of grubby coins and what-have-you, so in time it became transferred to the left breast pocket. This style caught on and persisted into the 20th century. Handkerchief folding styles came and went but by now the prevalence of the silk, linen or cotton pocket square, either plain or patterned, had become well-established as a stylish accessory throughout Europe and into America. The invention of the disposable tissue by Kleenex in the 1920s gradually saw the popularity of the handkerchief decline throughout the world, but practical necessity was quickly replaced by stylish necessity and the pocket square as we know it today became a mainstay of the truly fashionable. In the 21st century, pocket squares have enjoyed something of a renaissance and have become as essential accessory for fashionistas, A-list celebs and anyone who really wishes to stand out from the crowd and add a touch of style and elegance to an otherwise ordinary suit.

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What to wear to the BBC Proms

bbc-banner-img The BBC Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events at the Royal Albert Hall in central London. With over 90 concerts, displaying a variety of music including classical orchestral greats, to opera, jazz, and even electro-dance we’re sure you’ll find something to suit you! From July to September people from all different backgrounds come together to enjoy the music on offer and celebrate the musical talent. The ‘Last Night Celebrations’ are held across four parts of the UK and really bring the party atmosphere to the forefront! Although there is no formal dress code for the BBC Proms many people like to attend in a smart casual attire. Opting for garments that are comfortable will help you enjoy the delights on offer. Although when you hear ‘comfortable’ do not assume this means choosing baggy, laid back garments – you want to ooze confidence and style so choosing tailored items will ensure a perfect fit that complements your body shape. Layering your clothes is a great way to deal with the temperature changes at any proms-related outdoor event, so taking a blazer with you in textured wool will ensure a smart but not too formal look. This versatile jacket will work well with many trouser options. For that smart casual look, a well-tailored pair of chinos are lightweight and canportray a positive impression in any colour. If you’re feeling bold, a light colour will brighten up the outfit. Match these with either a classic Oxford shirt or even a smartpolo shirt but be sure to stick with the basics only – anything more daring will throw the smart casual look you are trying to achieve out the window. Loafers, suede brogues and boat shoes all work well with the smart casual theme. Make sure you choose a design that is comfortable for you – for many of the concerts there is a lot of queuing and standing so be aware! Accessorise your outfit with a belt that matches your shoe colour and a classic watch can always bring an outfit to life. These little touches show that you pay attention to detail. And if you happen to be attending the prestigious Last Night of the Proms, then go formal. A smartly tailored tuxedo will give you all the Pomp and Circumstance you need for the occasion!

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What to wear to the Boat Race

what-to-wear-boat-race There are many outdoor events to look forward to in spring including The Boat Race on Sunday 27 March 2016 which is fast approaching. So, if you plan to join the crowds along the four-and-a-quarter mile course from Putney to Mortlake to soak up the atmosphere and partake in a riverside drink or two, you need to look good and feel good with high quality, stylish and functional attire. This sporting institution has a casual spectator dress code (straw boater optional), which is more relaxed than the formal Henley Royal Regatta, and incorporates convention as well as what’s on trend. Boating blazers are traditionally single breasted and similar to suit jackets but have a looser cut and made from a strong material so they are robust like a sports jacket. A popular style is brightly coloured stripes, your personality will govern how loud the colour choice, with contrast piping. Pure wool suits don’t keep out the cold, so it’s best to opt for a spun flannel, which is made from wool but is softly woven and brushed to create extra softness so you’re not affected by the cool river breeze The multi-coloured striped blazer with gold buttons is a staple piece to align yourself with the colours of the university you attended or support. But if you prefer to stay neutral, you can’t go wrong with the classical nautical theme such as a double-breasted dark navy blazer with metal buttons. A white cotton shirt will suit any jacket colour. Or pastel shades of pink, yellow or blue match well with navy. Wear without a tie and slightly unbuttoned to adopt the informal style. Once you have chosen your blazer, you need beige, cream or camel-coloured chinos to complete the look. The best option for shoes is a pair of comfortable and sturdy tan or light brown loafers or brogues. Taking into account the usually cold and windy weather conditions, you need prepare for warmth and practicality such as warm layers, a good scarf and possibly waterproofs. Bespoke tailoring offers more fabric choice and a wide range of colours. A tailor-made suit is more hard-wearing and durable than anything you can buy in a shop, and ensures the pattern and cut are individually customised to you for the perfect fit – whether you prefer a classic cut, a relaxed style or the on-trend slim fit.

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camo dinner jacket

Camo Dinner Jacket - The Bespoke Tailor

Hello and welcome to The Bespoke Tailor – The Home Of British Tailoring. Are you looking for a Camo Dinner Jacket? If so, you have come to the right place.

Over the past 2 or 3 years, we have seen a large surge in clients looking to push the boundaries on dinner jackets. Even though evening wear is very traditional, many of the cloth mills have increased their offering of Jacquard designs. Predominant within this selection we see a lot of camouflage or camo dinner jacket fabrics coming through.

The average client goes to 6-10 events a year where black tie is required. Many of those have only the one outfit, which tends to be classic that that can be worn for years to come. If you are looking for a camo dinner jacket, I would suggest this to be the second or even third choice in your wardrobe – the last thing you want is to be known for the jacket!

However, if you looking for something different, then a camo dinner jacket can be a great option.

Being in the tailoring industry now for 25 years, this is the first time I have seen such a garment coming into fashion. However, if you look at street wear, you will see camo featuring heavily in trainers, casual trousers, tshirts, shirts and pullovers. So, I suppose it was only a matter of time!

Camo is a great option. However, never go for a camo dinner suit, only ever the jacket.

Unless you work within an environment where the rules don’t apply – the music industry for example, then understand the following: Black Tie is a uniform.

Camo Dinner Jacket Styling

Many people opt for the Peak lapel on an evening suit. More often than not, this will be made in a black or blue satin too. The width is important and a tailor should always take into account the proportion of the client. On this type of garment, there is no need for a flowerhole.

A very classic evening garment would be “plain back” without any vent at all. This is a rather dated approach though and so I suggest a side vent is  a safer approach.

On a camo dinner jacket, given it’s a more youthful idea my suggestion would be to go for a single button jacket.

The fabric does all the talking! The detailing required on this type of garment is minimal. A sharp, slim peak lapel, black satin buttons and black satin covered jetted pockets in all the garment needs.

If you are opting for the satin lapel, understand that the satin goes beyond what you see and comes into the inside of the jacket. For this reason, it is advised to do a black satin lining. I’m a fan of this quality found at our friends at Dugdale Bros. Remember, the quality is key as the lining is the first thing you feel!


A number of cloth mills are now producing this type of jacquard design and we at The Bespoke Tailor pride ourselves in the best. The finest cloth that we have come across is from Huddersfield Fine Worsted which can be found here

Prices range from £949.95 to £1999.95 depending the way in which the garment is made and required detailing.

Black Evening Suit

Stay Stylish this Christmas and New Year

It’s that time of year again. Christmas jumpers are in abundance, after-work drinks and parties seem never-ending and the jury will be out on who will be the biggest embarrassment at the office Christmas party. Of course, you don’t have to follow the crowd. Christmas and the New Year may be a time when you let your hair down, but it doesn’t mean you should compromise on the fashion stakes. On the contrary. The festive season throws up many events and occassions where looking sartorially elegant is what any discerning male should aim tro achieve.  For example:

The office party – don’t wear that suit you’ve been wearing all year. Wear a suit that’s a different colour and cut or combine a tailored jacket with smart jeans and a crisp open-neck white shirt. Office parties tend to be informal affairs so tone-down your outfit and keep it smart casual.

Formal occasion – if you’ve been invited to a black-tie event for New Year’s Eve then make sure you adhere to the black-tie rules. Not dark blue or dark grey. It should be black and pay attention to the detailing – white shirt, matching black trousers, black bow-tie, black socks and black formal shoes.

A smart dinner party – smart casual or suited and booted is the order of the day here. It really depends on how smart the dinner party is. If you’ve opted to go to a very chic Michelin-starred restraurant then I would recommend a tailored suit in a neutral colour such as black, grey or navy and then inject some colour with a silk tie and pocket square. Elegant silver cufflinks and a showpiece watch will complete the look.

Whatever you’re doing this Christmas and New year, have a wonderful time and keep it stylish. Remember, those photos of you on social media never really go away, so make sure that when you’re caught up in a group photo, you can at least be proud of your attire!


Dressing Smartly For Winter

There’s something quite satisfying about getting your wardrobe ready for a new season and with winter upon us, it’s time to re-evaluate your garments and see what new additions will enhance your look. First and formost, it has to be your winter coat.

Any man who cares about his winter wardrobe should have a quality winter coat, a rain jacket and something a bit lighter for those days where it hardly feels like winter at all. When it comes to your main winter coat, choose a good quality material and something that will not only fit in with you business wear but will complement your casual wear as well. Generally speaking, a longer, more streamline winter coat will give you a more stylish feel and if you opt for classic dark blues, greys and of course, black, you can’t go wrong. For the more adventurous, then bolder greens or burgundies can give you a strong impact when worn with the appropriate clothing underneath.

As with any winter season, layering is the best way to keep warm but also look elegant. Stylish waistcoats, cashmere jumpers, turtleneck sweaters and a woollen sports jacket are perfect additions to your wardrobe for winter. Opting for various shades of the same colour in your garments can look very smart when done properly and this kind of look works especially well when you’re working with different shades of grey.

Of course, we are also fast entering the Christmas season so a few garments to see you through the endless round of parties and get-togethers will be needed. Tailored woollen jackets, crisp white shirts, silk ties and pocket squares will always serve you well and for more casual events, then a pair of smart dark blue jeans worn with a lightweight tweed jacket or blazer will give you an elegant and sophisticated look.

Whatever your plans are for this winter, make sure that your wardrobe is up to the challenge, both on a practical and sartorial front.

Evening Suit

Origins Of Style – The History Of Black Tie Events

The tie began its life in seventeenth century France when Louis XIII stole the idea from the croatian mercenaries he hired to fight for him in the Thirty-Year War. The king admired the piece of cloth tied around the Croatians necks so much that he made it a compulsory accessory at the French royal court and christened it a cravat (the French word for “Croat”) in their honour. However, exactly how the black tie or bow tie we now associate with the most prestigious social occasions and special events evolved out of a piece of rag round a Croatian soldier’s neck is not quite clear. What we do know, however, is that it was in the late nineteenth century that the dinner jacket and corresponding black tie became popular amongst the British middle and upper classes who sought an alternative to the dress coat, which was an evening tailcoat thtat had begun to seem just a tad too formal. Then in 1886 it properly became a part of fashion history when a formal ball was held by the tobacco magnate Pierre Lorillard on his estate in Orange County in New York state. We know how much influence this event was to have by the name of the club at which it was held: The Tuxedo Club. So, not only was the dinner jacket introduced to America, but it was taken to the heart of American society and given a new name that would last to this day.

The Evolution Of The Black Tie

As the twentieth century progressed, dinner jackets and black bow ties became less associated with regular evening wear and more associated with the special events that came to be characterised by the tie that was an intrinsic part of the uniform. In turn, “black tie events” became associated with glamorous events and people, and so in time they became synonymous with Hollywood and the glitz of the film industry. Amongst its most famous advocates were Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire and Dean Martin. As time went on and the black tie lost some of its formality, other colours and designs began to creep in, but the bow tie was always a symbol of class and refinement. It would also later come to be strongly associuated with intelligence, as various famous intellectuals, politicians and scientists began to favour it, including Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Saul Bellow and Arthur Schlesinger. In the decades after the end of the Second World War, black tie events have become increasingly less rigid in their protocol and today quite a lot of cariation is permitted. However, it’s still important to realise that black is very much used as a gentleman’s uniform. It is the beautiful dresses of the females at a black tie event that take centre stage in terms of colour and overall splendour. The male’s “uniform” should never over-shadow this. It would be ungentlemanly to do so.  

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The art of looking stylish at sporting events

It was recently reported that the RBS Six Nations is the most well attended of all the sporting events across the world. Average attendances at the Six Nations is even higher than the football World Cup and the European Championships. If you’re lucky enough to be going to one or more of the matches, then getting kitted out with an appropriate outfit should be on your agenda. In fact, if you love sport, then we’re entering into a pretty action-packed part of the sporting calendar. In addition to the Six Nations, we have the much-anticipated Cheltenham Festival and hot on the heels of that we have the Grand National. So, if sport is your thing, and you’re going to be attending any of these events, you need to dress accordingly.

At events like Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby, there are strict dress codes if you want to mix in certain enclosures but for Rugby and for Cheltenham, the overall theme is much more informal and relaxed.

Smart casual is perfectly fine for these events but clearly, interpretation of ‘smart casual’ can differ dramatically. To look sartorially elegant at a sporting event then a casual jacket or blazer, matching waistcoat and smart jeans, cords or chinos will help you to look the part. A collared shirt and woollen tie complement the outfit and if you want to adapt a country gentleman look, then you can’t go wrong with tweed worn with a pair of smart brogues or Oxford shoes.

Of course, having a well-tailored overcoat completes the look so something in grey or brown will look smart. Earthly tones such as green, brown, grey, and dark-checks are perfect for outdoor sporting events and these can be combined with bold cashmere scarves and silk handkerchiefs to inject some colour into your outfit.

Layering different tones in your ties, waistcoats, scarves, sweaters and overcoats is also a good look and will give you a stylish appearance.

After the sporting event, there is usually the socialising that takes place afterwards so it makes sense to plan your sporting wardrobe with this in mind. Choose outfits that can easily take you through to the after-event drinks and dining. As you can see, there’s so much more to sport than who loses and who wins. Looking dapper is every bit as important!