Origins of Style – A Brief History of the Pinstripe Suit

The pinstripe suit came into being around the end of the nineteenth century and has been in fashion pretty much ever since. Originally made famous by stylish Brits, the suit would become increasingly popular throughout the globe as men (and later, women too) wanted to project an image of sophistication and class through their choice of suit.

Where did the pinstripe come from?

As with most sartorial origin stories, there is a degree of controversy over how the pinstripe suit came into existence. In fact, the only thing that everyone is able to agree on is that the pinstripe was definitely an English invention. Beyond that, two schools of thought emerge, one that suggests the iconic suit began life in the world of banking, the other that prefers the notion that it actually became popular after its use in popular sporting activities of the day.

The banking theory has it that the pinstripe was a kind of uniform for English Victorian bankers and that the difference in the thickness and distances between stripes was a way of indentifying employees from different banking institutions. The sporting hypothesis sees the pinstripes as evolving out of the striped uniforms worn by men who liked messing about on water. Boating was an extremely popular pursuit in the 19th century, as was banking, so neither theory is unreasonable.

The rise of the pinstripe

The popularity of pinstripe suits grew rapidly once it had spread across the Atlantic, taking American culture by storm in ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. The suit became the unofficial uniform of the Prohibition era, beloved of the ultra-stylish and anoyone who wanted to stand out from the crowd and make a bold statement. Naturally then it was popular not only with film stars and jazz musicians, but also with gangsters, the most famous of which of course was Al Capone.

After Prohibition the suit became even more mainstream when huge stars such as Clark Gable and Cary Grant continued to popularise it. It is said that the pinstripe suit that Clark Gable’ wore in Gone with the Wind influenced the emergence of the flamboyant, flared-trousers, padded-shouldered zoot suit.

The modern pinstripe

These days the pinstripe is everywhere. It is still a part of mainstream sartorial culture and is one of a myriad of style options available to the modern man, or woman. In fact, the pinstripe has definitely crossed the gender divide and has become a basic component of women’s clothing, particularly in business, where it remains especially popular with both genders.

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.

 

Top 3 satorial tips for the office Christmas party

Yes, I know it’s only September but it’s time to start thinking about the dreaded C word. Yes, that’s right – Christmas. The Christmas party season will soon be upon us and if you want to look like the dapper man-about- town that I know that you do, you need to plan ahead.

Office Christmas parties can be strange affairs. They can be an eclectic mix of Directors, Senior Managers, colleagues, clients and of course, their partners, Therefore, this is not an occasion for dressing down. You should seize this opportunity to wear something smart, eye-catching and above all, memorable. In other words, a bespoke tailored suit and if you want one in time for Christmas, you need to speak to your tailor now. Here are my 3 top tips for looking stylish at this year’s Christmas party:

    • Don’t wear the suit you always wear. A new suit in navy, black or grey that has been perfectly tailored to your body shape will make the impact you want to make and get you noticed.
    • Waistcoats are optional but I would recommend accessorizing your suit with a silk pocket square and a nice watch. Cuff-links will complete the look but don’t choose anything Christmas-themed and ruin the elegance of your attire.
    •  Same goes for ties. I personally prefer to wear a tie with a suit but it is definitely optional these days. Once again, don’t wear a tie that is Christmas – themed or has flashing strobe lights on it! Go for something silk, elegant and complimentary to your pocket square.

I know the above may sound a bit ‘bah humbug’ but leave the Christmas-themed attire for get-togethers with your friends or in the home….if you have to. Whether you like it or not, you are on display at the office Christmas party and you want people to remember you for all the right reasons.

The versatility of the blazer

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If you do not own a blazer, then you’re missing out! A blazer is an essential piece of clothing for any man, for any occasion and for any season. They are an extremely versatile garment that will give you a stylish, confident look for either the workplace or a social gathering. A textured blazer is the best option to go for. It can easily be worn for casual weekends or smart weekdays. If money allows, a tailored blazer is the best way to go. A tailored blazer will fit to perfection and will make you feel smart and debonair.

Wool is the best material to choose for the winter months. Being a natural fibre with non-allergenic and heat-retaining qualities, all you need to worry about is picking your wool blazer in the colour you like the most. Opting for neutral colours will ensure you can wear your blazer with most of your other clothing. A tweed blazer is another great winter option, with its woven structure, tweed is well known for its durability. Tweed blazers are always present in menswear collections and will never go out of fashion so it’s money well spent.

If the occasion is floating somewhere between formal and casual, then the blazer really comes into its own. The blazer with a formal pair of trousers and a t shirt will create the look that fits somewhere in between, making sure you are not too over or under dressed. This is an ideal outfit for a formal occasion in a casual setting.

A textured blazer can help you go from casual to smart casual in the blink of an eye.  Paired with a simple shirt and jeans, this blazer will ensure you are smart enough for that last-minute meeting or networking event.

For the mature dinner party or fancy restaurant, a blazer will compliment a pair of chinos and a classic oxford shirt with some leather brogues. This outfit will ensure you are at the top end of smart casual so you don’t risk being underdressed.

For a special occasion, a blazer with formal trousers and shirt will create that modern, confident look. It is more interesting than the usual suit—but just as formal. You will create that enviable style and stand out from the usual ‘same suit for all occasions’ look.

You don’t have to own numerous blazers to achieve all the looks above; one tailored blazer will go a long way to creating that stylish look for every occasion.

What to wear to Cowes week

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Cowes Week is one of the longest-running and prestigious regattas in the world. It is held in Cowes on the Isle of Wight at the beginning of August and hosts 40 daily races, with up to 1,000 boats and 8,000 competitors. Ranging from Olympic and world class professionals to weekend sailors, it is the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world.

The town becomes a hive of activity and entertainment lasts into the early hours of each morning. Around 100,000 visitors are attracted to Cowes by the festival atmosphere of the event so if you’re attending this year, make sure you feel stylish and comfortable at this fantastic occasion.

There is no formal dress code for being a spectator at Cowes Week but opting for lightweight fabrics that can be layered can offer versatility that will prove vital when it comes to the British weather.

If you are heading to Cowes Yacht Haven or the parade, a more relaxed feel is the order of the day. Both these venues offer food and drink and live music so classic chino trousers and a polo shirt can help you feel comfortable in your surroundings. The parade is waterfront so a jacket maybe needed for late evening to keep the chill at bay. A classic two button sports jacket will keep your look casual but smart. Boat shoes will provide comfortable footwear when venturing around the shops for a bit of retail therapy.

Shepards Wharf and Northwood House offer acoustic and jazz acts, a great selection of beers and cocktails and a more relaxed ‘chill out’ style. A tailored white cotton shirt paired with lightweight blue chino trousers bring a look that will ease you from daytime browsing to night time socialising. A navy blazer will give you that subtle nautical look. Brown/tan Deck shoes or loafers are comfortable yet stylish shoes that will complement your look and provide suitable footwear for checking out the town or going aboard the spectator boats. Make sure to accessorise your outfit with sunglasses and a stylish watch.

On the final Friday evening be sure to catch the firework display, a fantastic festival atmosphere that is viewed as an integral part of the event – and don’t forget your jacket or blazer….and umbrella. You just can’t trust the British weather!

Staying cool this summer

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With summer well and truly here (despite all the rain), it may seem like trying to achieve a new cool, stylish wardrobe is going to be hard work but with many options and variations on offer, it may be easier than you think.

If you work in a stuffy office then the main objective of creating a summer wardrobe is that you always represent a cool, fresh and summer feel. A stylish, confident business look can still be achieved by choosing the correct fabrics and items of clothing to portray a professional image.

A smart office suit does not always entail a three-piece suit. There are many items that can be applied – opting for just a waistcoat is a great example of creating a smart look without feeling the full effect of a jacket. Waistcoats are a great alternative if the workplace or meeting requires a strict business dress code. If a jacket is required, then avoid full lining and instead opt for half lined jackets.

When choosing your shirts, you need to opt for lighter fabrics such as seersucker, linen or cotton. Pale colours will really help with the summer feel and not attract the heat as much as dark colours. You can never go wrong with classic white, pale blues and pale pink shirts – these colours can be matched with all suit types and are very clean cut.

For your trousers, again choosing linen, cotton or a combination of the two will allow a light airy option to keep you cool. If your workplace dress code allows, choosing tailored cuffed trousers can help you go from smart workplace to after work drinks with ease. A lightweight blazer can be added for the evening chill.

As far as summer footwear is concerned, loafers are a great versatile summer shoe that compliments many suit styles. Suede is the best option for the spring and summer months but if a smarter look is required, leather loafers will work well. For a more formal shoe, suede brogues are a great choice, they are light in weight and offer excellent ventilation.

So, by choosing the correct fabrics and selective items you can achieve a wardrobe that portrays a clean, fresh and confident attire that will make people wonder how you manage to stay cool whilst all around you are wilting!

Enjoy the summer and stay cool, calm and collected with your carefully chosen summer wardrobe.

Dressing perfectly for the British summer

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The British summer season is upon us and making sure we’re suited and booted for any occasion is vital for giving a confident and stylish appearance. With the sun finally making an appearance we can all start to venture out into more lightweight clothing and summery tones.

Opting for cotton, linen or a combination of the two will allow you to feel comfortable and cool as these fabrics allow air to circulate more freely. Cotton is a natural fibre and breathes really well so it’s ideal for those muggy days we get in mid-summer.

Summer is the perfect time to branch out and wear light coloured trousers and shorts. White tailored chinos can sound quite daring but pairing them with a classic oxford shirt in pale blue, along with a dark blue sports jacket can help tone down the trousers and create a smart bold outfit.

If white is not suitable for the occasion, two variations of the same colour will always look good; navy blue chino shorts and a subtle blue shirt or polo shirt will compliment your look – this is a great outfit for those BBQ evenings with friends.

Even your footwear can be bolder as the weather gets kinder – boat shoes, loafers or smart canvass trainers can help keep your feet cool as no socks are required for these types of shoes.

If your summer calendar takes you to a prestigious sporting event such as the Henley Royal Regatta or The Open at Royal Troon, then raising the stakes, and creating a smart tailored look is essential. The Henley Royal Regatta is a perfect excuse to enjoy a quintessentially British event. It is a popular social occasion and there is a party atmosphere in the fashionable pop-up bars that visit from London. Creating a trendy outfit by opting for bright colours and a smart blazer will help you feel at ease in your surroundings.

The Open will showcase some of the best golf in the world. You can watch some of the top players in action and allow yourself to be submerged into the atmosphere by dressing the part. Tailored trousers and a polo shirt is a must. A V-neck sweater is recommended if the weather is looking unpredictable and a smart cap or trilby hat can be worn to complete the look.

Creating a wardrobe that will keep you cool and fashionable is the main objective but keep in mind that the British weather can be unpredictable so having casual and smart jackets to hand will allow you to create an outfit for any occasion.

Enjoy the summer and make sure that you dress perfectly for it!

Dressing the part for St George’s Day

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Let’s celebrate and be proud of our English heritage by honouring St George’s Day on 23rd April. St George’s Day was once celebrated as widely as Christmas, with it being a National holiday but the celebrations began to subside by the end of the 18th century after England united with Scotland. A well known symbol which relates to St George’s Day is the English Cross. It is understood that English soldiers wore a sign of St George on their chest and on their backs during the 14th century, as the Saint was regarded as a special protector of the English.

A traditional custom that is not now adopted widely is to wear a red rose on your lapel! This is a strong but conservative way to support St George’s Day.

At The Bespoke Tailor we can help you achieve a confident and proud look by providing you with a traditional British suit, tailored to your needs using only British fabrics. And to display your subtle red rose we can offer luxury suits with different styles of lapels which range from peak, wide peak, standard notch, narrow notch, wide notch and shawl.

Our luxury British traditional suits have a design that can offer a fitted feel with a professional cut closer to the body. They have narrower and more defined shoulders with high arm holes that can provide close fitting sleeves.  To complement these assets, slim neat shoulder pads are added.

For your jacket, we recommend the two side vent jacket that can be either single or double breasted. Single-breasted jackets have a single row of buttons down the front, and the jacket flaps only overlap enough to allow buttoning. A double-breasted jacket has two rows of buttons, and the front overlaps sufficiently to allow both flaps to be attached to the opposite row of buttons. The style is then completed with tapered waist trousers to give you a traditional look.

Navy and Grey are the perfect colour suits for this occasion – depending on your preferred choice, we can complete the look with a wide choice of coloured shirts and accessories, giving you an impeccable look where you will ooze confidence. After all, we are celebrating being proud of England!

When it comes to using fabrics for our suits, I only use British cloth as it is without doubt the best in the world and I’m only prepared to work with the best.  British cloth is renowned throughout the globe for its sheer quality and what better way of supporting our own Cloth Specialists?

So, why not celebrate St George’s Day with a traditional British suit?

The Bespoke Tailor can help with all your needs and make you feel proud of our English heritage.

What to wear to the Grand National….and other horse racing events!

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It’s the Grand National on Saturday so have you placed your bets yet?

The Grand National at Aintree is a prestigious 3 day event which offers fun, thrills and drama, culminating with the big race itself on Saturday afternoon.

A day at the races is a great opportunity to get dressed up and be a bit more creative and bold, adding your own personality and style to your outfit! During this 3 day event, ladies day is hugely popular, giving all women the opportunity to dress up – but who says men cannot go that extra mile and dress to impress?

Aintree is known for its glamorous, smart and sophisticated attire and at The Bespoke Tailor we can help you to achieve this look! You may be too late to cut a strut at this year’s event but there are plenty more opportunities throughout the year on the racing calendar that you can get ready for – Royal Ascot, Epsom Derby and Glorious Goodwood spring to mind.

Sometimes, less is definitely more – and with a good fit and cut, and with an eye for detail this look can be established with ease. If you do want to add a bit more, a bold, check jacket is the way forward, but always keep everything else clean and sharply tailored.  A peak lapel jacket is definitely appropriate for more ‘dress up occasions’ such as the races. A plain suit that has been perfectly tailored can speak volumes, and when added with the little extras; tie, cufflinks, a buttonhole accessory you are ready to go!

The dress code can depend on the enclosure you are attending – will it be the Members club or the Premier enclosure? – these are by far the more prestige enclosures and strict race day dress code is applied. Most men are required to wear formal wear; a smart jacket and tie. For example, at Royal Ascot in the Royal Enclosure, you are required to wear a formal morning suit and ideally a top hat.

Formal morning suits consist of a black coat, waistcoat and grey striped trousers. Men may also wear a popular variant where all parts are the same colour and material, often grey and usually called ‘morning grey’ to distinguish it.

For less strict enclosures (Grandstand, Paddock) a traditional tweed suit is very popular – we recommend a good fitting three piece suit which will make you feel the part. And don’t forget the little touches – a pocket handkerchief or pocket square will complete the look nicely.

Nothing looks better than a well-dressed man who oozes both style and confidence. The races are meant to be fun so you need to feel comfortable in your suit – let us help you to complete your look for the next key event on the racing calendar.

Should I choose a double-breasted or single-breasted suit?

While both options look good, the single-breasted option is the most common and has buttons down one side and button holes on the opposite side that meet in the middle when closed.

The double-breasted version has sets of buttons on each side and the left side folds over the right and is fastened by one or two of the buttons.

A single-breasted jacket or blazer is the staple of most men’s wardrobes however, a double-breasted version can look fantastic. When fitted correctly, a double-breasted jacket oozes sophistication and style but will require extra time and effort to get the look just right. What outfit doesn’t look striking with extra attention to detail and fine tailoring? A custom made double-breasted jacket will look elegant, like a second skin, and it will accentuate your assets whilst disguising any flaws.

The double-breasted jacket always has peak lapels, completing the superior look. The original design has six buttons, two of which close.

This classic look is perfect for tall men. If you are short in height, a four- or six-button combination where only the bottom one closes is a better choice for you. The four-button double-breasted variety is sometimes known as the ‘Kent’ after its supposed creator, the Duke of Kent. Carefully chosen fabrics and colours will complete your masculine, powerful look.

So when should you wear your statement piece? It’s probably not for every day use, unless you’re in the movies or always on the red carpet! Perhaps wear it on those occasions where you just have to stand out, like a wedding or other special event. Choose only the best fabrics and the finished product will make you look like you mean business!