Alternatives To Jeans – Part One: Chinos

Most of us know the story of how a certain Levi Strauss became famous for being the purveyor of heavy workwear made from indigo cotton twill cloth imported from Nimes, France (‘De Nimes’ = ‘denim’). The late nineteenth century timing was perfect for selling to cowboys, gold miners, frontiersmen and factory workers during the period of spreading colonisation and burgeoning industrialisation in America, and thus the legend was born.

During the mid-fifties, blue jeans made the jump from workwear to part of the ubiquitous teenager uniform thanks to exposure in films like ‘The Wild One’ and ‘Rebel Without A Cause’

I’ve read about original Mods coveting Levi’s shrink-to-fit jeans. I find this slightly at odds with the image of sharply-dressed suited-and-booted Mods dancing in sweaty Soho basements, but given the elitist nature of the leading Faces I suppose I can see that a fair few oneupmanship points could be gained by wearing Levi’s imported from America which were notoriously difficult to come by in England during the austere early sixties. This is depicted in ‘Quadrophenia’ when Jimmy is subjected to an incredulous outburst from his dad when he comes down to watch The Who on ‘Ready Steady Go’ wearing his newly shrunk and still damp jeans!

I have a clear recollection of hanging out in the streets with my group of lads in summer 1980, most of whom had joined the Mod bandwagon by then. My mate Phil said he was bored to death with jeans and was going to stop wearing them, a position which I may not have taken up fully myself but certainly admired. He spent the remainder of the summer wearing Fred Perry polo shirts and v-necks with sta-pressts and desert boots – not a bad look then and now!

I still wear jeans on occasion but currently own only two white Levi’s, two blue Levi’s and two Uniqlos (one pair of which is mothballed for future needs). I also still find myself in occasional agreement with Phil in that jeans can be really boring as a result of their ubiquity. The trend in recent years of wearing new rigid jeans unwashed for countless months to develop unique fade patterns leaves me completely baffled.

As we are hitting the dog days of summer now, aside from being boring it’s just not practical to wear heavy cotton denim in my climate of ninety-degree heat with over ninety percent humidity. Time to consider alternatives.

The first option that comes to mind is chinos. Chinos are also made of cotton of course and can came in a range of weights but it’s not hard to find chinos in a lighter weight than most denim strides and thus more appropriate for warm weather. Also they are readily available – in fact most commonly available – in lighter colours which work better in deflecting heat.

Chinos have their origin in American military uniforms made from Chinese cotton twill which at some point made the transition to civilian wear. The default colours were military too – olive, tan and khaki – to the point that Americans are more likely to refer to chinos as ‘khakis’ regardless of colour.

Chinos are generally light- to medium-weight cotton trousers that are made in twill weave and cut more formally than jeans, with slanted or on-seam side pockets and either jetted or flapped rear pockets – no patches. As such they lie midway on a formality scale between jeans and tailored flannel or worsted trousers, resulting in them being an unfortunate key component of the ‘dreaded business casual’ uniform of office drones the length and breadth of the western world!

Chinos are probably most commonly seen in ‘stone’, ‘putty’ and other off-white variations as shown abovd, along with the military colours mentioned, but they are also available in every colour of the rainbow for the more adventurous. Brighter colours seem to work better in warmer weather and the level of formality can vary from those with smoother-handed cloth and pressed-in creases to those ironed flat and displaying a well-worn patina of frayed hems.

Chinos were very popular in England towards the end of the eighties – there was a subtle fifties revival creeping into style and pop culture (James Dean-esque Nick Kamen in the Levi’s TV ads, Southern Comfort’s ‘Who are you mixing it with?’ cinema ads, etc) and looser-fitting pleated trousers were in evidence, so the chino cotton version was a part of this look and of course Levi’s got in on it with their range of Dockers. It was common to see lads wearing a blazer and chinos – and often even a tie (shock!) at the pub or nightclub. Along with this came the immersive association of chinos with office wear as mentioned above. When suit-and-tie was no longer the default white-collar garb, to avoid the potential minefield of poorly defined ‘business casual’ dress codes, many men played it safe with chinos.

Following the immersion came the inevitable backlash, but expressing a dislike for chinos is like expressing a dislike for jeans. They are as varied as they are common and it shouldn’t be too hard to find a good version. I think chinos can be a useful alternative to the ubiquity of jeans, a notch or two more formal, and as stated they can be very versatile too as long as we pay attention to cut, fit etc and not fall into the trap of the baggy office drone. Navy and black versions start to look tired very quickly as the cotton doesn’t hold dye very well after a few washes. Original colours of khaki, stone, beige and olive aren’t very adventurous. I like them in bolder colours for wear in the summer months, and I never wear them for work

I have a couple of pairs of Levi’s K-1s in their original Crammerton cloth (I liken this to the chino equivalent of desirable Cone Mills denim). The first pair are ‘aviator style’ – quite loose-fitting legs with a high rise …

The second pair has the interesting detail of having the inseams covered …

I have a couple of lightweight pairs from Club Monaco in royal blue and dark burgundy …

One of my favourite pairs is in bright orange from Lacoste …

Staying with bright colours, these red ones are the Clark model from Brooks Brothers. I seem to remember reading that there’s a tradition among yachtsmen that you only wear red trousers on board a yacht if you’ve sailed over the equator. I usually wear these with a dusty navy cotton Brooks Brothers blazer …

Another version are ‘Nantucket Reds’ particularly as worn in the summer in northeastern states. The attraction of these is that they are guaranteed to fade with wear and are worn as a signifier of membership in an elite social strata. Tread with care here!

I have chinos in marine blue, which pair well with a tan cotton blazer …

… and navy blue which I pair with a gold-yellow cotton blazer…

Perhaps among my least adventurous are in medium grey and cream which I commonly wear with my dark blue and mid brown cotton blazers. These two pairs came from Express and have a small percentage of elastase in the fabric mix which gives them a bit of stretch, making them very useful for travel …

I got a gold pair for a bargain in the closing down sale at the Ben Sherman shop on Spring Street in New York City. These have the interesting detail of the outseams being taped to show off when you roll them up …

The final two pairs are in dark slate grey, and a very pale sea green colour which is hard to capture with an iPhone camera – they are a step away from the more common stone version but no less versatile …

It’s understandable that some people may give chinos a wide birth due to the office drone connotation mentioned above. There was also a time here in America when the ‘going out’ uniform of drunken college lads seemed to be denim shirt and off white chinos from which more discerning fellas may also wish to put some distance. Hopefully the above pics provide some evidence for the defence that chinos can be deployed in more imaginative ways than this and should not be discounted from a well-dressed man’s wardrobe.

The Union Jack

Britain recently celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend. Leaving aside any arguments for or against the monarchy, it may be a fitting time to discuss the British flag and its connection to Mod style.

When I was a kid in school both pupils and teachers alike referred to our flag as the ‘Union Jack’. More recently flag purists with nothing more to occupy their empty lives object to this and claim that it’s only a Union Jack when flown on a British Royal Navy ship and should otherwise be known as the ‘Union Flag’, although I have read more recently that this convention was officially dropped many years ago.

I enjoy informing Americans, many of whom are unaware, that our flag is a combination of the three flags of England, Scotland and latterly following the Act of Union in 1801, Ireland imposed upon each other. Wales doesn’t seem to count!

Seminal pop artist Sir Peter Blake may have been responsible for bringing the Union Jack into pop culture and in doing so gave the whole image of its sturdy, stoic and stolid reputation a makeover. Pete Townshend – himself a one time art student – famously wore a jacket made from a Union Jack in 1966 which was seen as an act of youthful rebellion and coincided with the era of ‘Swinging London’ for which the British Flag was a central icon.

Mods of my vintage who lived through the revival years of the late seventies into the early eighties will have seen their fair share of Union Jacks – stitched onto the back of parkas, painted onto the side panels of scooters and pinned onto the lapels of suit jackets – to the extent that many would understandably like to distance themselves from those aspects of ‘identikit Mod’ imagery.

I plead guilty to all of the above in the past of course but over time I’m not so concerned with stylistic guilt. Firstly ours really is a beautiful flag and is perhaps the most recognised the world over. Secondly, having lived in America for over thirty years I find that with the passage of time grows a mild, vague patriotism that would likely be absent if I still lived in England.

I first started to wear a Union flag pin on the lapel of my lab coat when I worked in a busy Cardiology department as I was so tired of explaining to people several times a day that I wasn’t Scottish / Irish / Swedish / Australian. This habit continued when I changed jobs and was wearing suits every day for work, and continues to this day. I’ve accumulated a wide array of items – both clothing and beyond as seen below – adorned with the Union Jack and I doubt this will stop now!

I have a few other lapel pins …

I have cufflinks too in etched steel and coloured enamel …

Other accessories include key fob, iPhone case, pen, wallet, mask …

I have a silk pocket square from Charles Tyrwhitt and a cotton bandanna too …

I have Union Jacks on both sports socks and more formal socks, and inside my red Ray Ban Wayfarers …

Whenever I compete in a triathlon I’m likely to wear my swim cap and wrist band …

For my rare ski trips I have a CWU-45 jacket which works perfectly. Stitching a flag on the back may appear to be moving into dangerously identikit Mod territory but it makes it easy for others to recognise me on the slopes …

When I’m driving I’m still flying the flag – on the Jeep windscreen and of course the valve caps …

I have Union Jack helmets for riding with and without engines …

On the bike I might be wearing flag-emblazoned top and gloves …

I’ve acquired a few travel bags, along with luggage tags …

I was so chuffed when I finally tracked down the Olympic series Lacoste polo. Unfortunately the colours didn’t last well on this one. The rugby shirt from Cotton Traders was a present from my brother …

I’ve acquired a few items with the Great Britain Olympic Team Union Jack emblem …

Ben Sherman managed to combine two Mod / pop art symbols of the Union Jack and the arrows …

I have a small Union Jack shrine in the Man Cave …

I have the full size guitar: Epiphone Supernova …

Perhaps most bizarre, my orthodontic retainer …

As much as I may enjoy flying the flag, you have to be careful not to overdo it. Nobody wants to look like Kenneth Bailey!

“Matchy – Matchy“

In the film ‘Bruno’ (2009), the eponymous character played by Sacha Baron Cohen is harangued by military officers for wearing a scarf and Dolce and Gabana belt with his combat fatigues. Bruno complains that he had to accessorise the uniform as it is too “matchy matchy”

The term was quickly adopted and spread by internet menswear enthusiasts as a mildly derogatory critique of outfits that display too much common ground among the various components.

I was involved in an internet discussion some time ago with a like-minded participant who stated that he liked to wear his sky blue Fred Perry polo with navy tipping along with his sky blue suede adidas gazelles which navy blue stripes. I thought at the time that this was a man after my own heart, and while I don’t posses items in those exact colours, a quick look at my recent Easter post shows you that his way of dressing accords with my own. I’m not sure if the lad in question was an avowed advocate of Mod style – if I had to guess he’s probably younger than me and is more influenced by that football terrace / Britpop scene of the nineties which can arguably be indirectly traced back to Mod style.

I probably have to confess that I’m guilty of wearing matchy matchy outfits at least to some degree.

The matching shiny satin tie and handkerchief sets are an obvious signal that the wearer is a beginner. I was surprised to see a publicity photo of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in Goldeneye sporting a matching solid blue tie and pocket square set but thankfully this outfit never made it to the final cut of the film!

The popular and accepted wisdom with accessories is to choose a pocket square with colours that reference another colour in your outfit but don’t match it exactly, but I can’t deny that there are times when I may sail a bit close to the wind on this one:

I also plead guilty to sometimes wearing socks that reflect tie and/or pocket square colours. Colours and patterns should complement each other within and outfit rather than directly copy each other. We have to decide how close items can be in colour and / or pattern before they fall prey to being considered matchy matchy. Here are a couple of outfits which come close. Readers can decide if they pass or fail. A lot of this comes down to personal taste. I know of people whose entire sock drawer consists of solid navy, charcoal and black. It’s hard to go wrong with this approach but it’s not exactly adventurous either. Context – and climate – are factors too. Getting suited up for a job interview requires a more sober approach than getting suited up for an outdoor wedding in the summer.

Rod’s Togs – Easter Duds

For a lot of people Easter serves as something of a watershed whereby they transition away from their winter clothes and dust off lighter and brighter threads – weather permitting of course, but there’s definitely an association with bright hues and pastels where possible.

This was my outfit for the neighbourhood Easter egg hunt:

Sunglasses – Moscot Fritz in tortoise black

Polo – Fred Perry

Strides – Levi’s 501

Trainers – adidas Gazelle OG

Later that weekend we went out for dinner:

Sunglasses – Ray Ban

Popover – Ralph Lauren Polo

Strides – J Crew ( linen)

Driving mocs – Fins For Him

Rod’s Togs – The Suede And Leather Truckers Again

I’ve related my story about truckers before. Got a Levi’s suede trucker but was never happy with how it fit. Moved it on and replaced it with a version from Asos which was great quality, better priced and fit better.

As much as I love the suede version I have to be cautious about when to wear it, to avoid rain, beer spills etc. That’s why I ended up getting a version in dark brown Buffalo leather in 2017, in particular with a trip home to England in mind. Jacket wearing season is short here in Florida but I’ve had both of them on recently: the suede for a birthday party and the leather for a recent trip to Disney for my daughter’s birthday, when it was very cold.

I’m not really into theme parks but happy kid = happy dad!

Here’s a side by side with suede and leather versions:

Sunglasses – Jacques Marie Mage Last Frontier Rawlins Noir

Suede Trucker Jacket – Asos

Polo – Lacoste

White Jeans – Levi’s Made and Crafted selvage

Chelsea Boots – Meermin snuff suede

Sunglasses – Moscot Neff Blonde

Leather Trucker – Levi’s

Button-through polo – Ben Sherman

Jeans – Uniqlo

Scarf – No name

Trainers – adidas Côte

Rod’s Togs – The Suede And Leather Truckers Again

I’ve related my story about truckers before. Got a Levi’s suede trucker but was never happy with how it fit. Moved it on and replaced it with a version from Asos which was great quality, better priced and fit better.

As much as I love the suede version I have to be cautious about when to wear it, to avoid rain, beer spills etc. That’s why I ended up getting a version in dark brown Buffalo leather in 2017, in particular with a trip home to England in mind. Jacket wearing season is short here in Florida but I’ve had both of them on recently: the suede for a birthday party and the leather for a recent trip to Disney for my daughter’s birthday, when it was very cold.

I’m not really into theme parks but happy kid = happy dad!

Here’s a side by side with suede and leather versions:

Sunglasses – Jacques Marie Mage Last Frontier Rawlins Noir

Suede Trucker Jacket – Asos

Polo – Lacoste

White Jeans – Levi’s Made and Crafted selvage

Chelsea Boots – Meermin snuff suede

Sunglasses – Moscot Neff Blonde

Leather Trucker – Levi’s

Button-through polo – Ben Sherman

Jeans – Uniqlo

Scarf – No name

Trainers – adidas Côte

Rod’s Togs – The ‘Wooly Pully’

The ‘woolly pully’ is the affectionate nickname given to the wool jumper (pullover) originally developed for Special Forces and Bomber Command during World War Two.

I mentioned in the three part series I did around this time last year on ‘Solving The Cold Weather Conundrum With Military Inspired Gear’ that I was in search of an RAF blue version to give some contrast to the other items I’d assembled and thus complete my cold-weather rig. I finally got one recently:

I’d owned a jumper like this in my youth which I wore during a couple of brutal winters in the late seventies working as a milkman’s assistant. I think my Dad, who flew Lancasters for the RAF during World War Two, was quietly chuffed that I’d taken a liking to this bit of RAF-inspired kit.

My original thinking was that this was a utilitarian item that leans towards the substance-over-style end of the clothing continuum and certainly doesn’t have any obvious connection to Mod style, but there is something to be admired in its very basic no frills design.

Shortly after we were introduced to Pierce Brosnan as the new James Bond in ‘Goldeneye’ (1995) we see him sporting a wool jumper that is not a military version but is also not a million miles away, given the robust knit and similar dark blue colour.

And in the recent release of ‘No Time To Die’ we see Daniel Craig set off to despatch the villain in his big finale wearing a military-inspired cashmere version in navy blue by N. Peal. The drawstring neck is a finicky detail that betrays the form-follows-function that is so admirable about a lot of military and military-inspired gear. I read somewhere that the original iteration of the military versions came with a drawstring neck, perhaps to allow donning over headgear, but this was soon dispensed with.

My version came from Outdoor Knitwear who claim to be suppliers to the military. It’s made of 100 percent wool (an unknown amount of which is British!) and said to be machine washable. I’m usually a 38 chest so went for a size Medium. As you can see it fits me fairly closely thanks to the ribbed-knit pattern, so if you’re interested and prefer a looser fit – size up. I washed it by hand in cold water then soaked it in fabric softener to prevent any itchiness although I would wear a base layer anyway. Outdoor knitwear have a broad selection of colours and styles, including versions with V-neck and the current forces iteration with epaulets and a sleeve pen pocket, neither of which appeal to me.

Sunglasses – RAF Issue aviators

Pea Coat – U.S.Navy surplus 1968

Jumper – Outdoor Knitwear

Strides – Eddie Bauer

Boots – Meermin

I feel like the jumper could be combined into an outfit for less severe weather but including other military- inspired items:

Sunglasses – RAF issue aviators

Jumper – Outdoor Knitwear

Strides – Stan Ray OG107

Desert Boots – Clark’s Originals

Rod’s Togs – The Herringbone Jacket

I’m not shy about ‘fessing up to my influences and have been happy to note on this blog the provenance of some of my ideas that have been ‘borrowed’ from various areas of pop culture. The red MA-1 and the sharkskin suit are two recent entries that come immediately to mind and I’m sure there are many more.

Recently I was watching a film on the Turner Classic Movies channel (TCM) named ‘The VIPs’ (1963) and was taken with the always debonair Louis Jourdan’s outfit on screen – a herringbone jacket, white shirt and charcoal trousers.

It’s similar to the outfit James Garner wore when he brought Raymond Chandler’s 1940’s trench coat-and-fedora private eye up to date in 1969 for ‘Marlowe’, although Garner channels the Bogartian rebelliousness by being not nearly as sharply turned out as Mr. Jourdan despite their similar togs.

Look here and here for some excellent breakdowns of the two characters and their clothes at the BAMF style website (a very entertaining website from which I ‘borrowed’ some of these pics!). Jourdan’s outfit is generally more formal and his jacket has straight flapped side pockets and a centre vent. Garner’s ventless version has patched pockets (with flaps added to the hip pockets) and he wears a less formal button down shirt with collar button undone and tie pulled loose. In later scenes he adds a bit of colour with a maroon and navy striped tie and a non-button down shirt. Jourdan keeps it formal with a black tie and allows a splash of colour with a maroon silk pocket square.

As for me – I’ve had a herringbone jacket in heavy tweed for several years and kept it at the back of my wardrobe for those somewhat rare occasions when I’m sent to the northern states for work during winter.

It’s made in a very thick and spongy tweed that does well against the elements, but since acquiring my donegal and purple tweed blazers it’s been years since I reached for the herringbone. Maybe there was something about the jacket’s fit that just didn’t feel right? I think it’s good that we occasionally do a bit of self-examination to identify why certain items in the wardrobe are often overlooked. Then maybe it’s time to send them to a better home!

I decided it was time for an upgrade so the herringbone will go for sale as it’s been replaced by a more refined and defined version. Refined in that the ‘hand’ of the new jacket’s fabric is smoother and lighter than my original, and defined in that the black and white twines are more distinct than the more blurry taupe and charcoal version of my original. Like Garner’s mine came with patch-and-flat hip pockets too but I dislike the ‘saddle bag’ effect these can have so I had the flaps removed.

I’m happy to more-or-less emulate Messrs Jourdan and Garner’s complementary items in their outfit: white shirt, charcoal strides and black captoes.

Just as I was contemplating this post I happened to catch a re-run of ‘The Pink Panther’ (1963) on the TCM channel and lo and behold there was a very young Robert Wagner sporting a herringbone jacket as part of a more casual rig worn at the ski lodge in the Italian winter resort of Cortina:

Here’s a side-by-side of my two jackets – old on the left, new on the right :

Sunglasses – Oliver Peoples Jaye in Bordeaux bark

Jacket – J Crew

Shirt – Tyrwhitt

Tie – Sid Mashburn

Pocket Square – No Name

Strides – Epaulet (‘Cadet blue’)

Socks – Uniqlo

Shoes – Allen-Edmonds Concord

Taking Stock Of The Blog 2021

Last year I reported that 2020 had been the biggest year of the blog to date in terms of both views and visitors. Surpassing that was always going to be a challenge and in 2021 I didn’t quite reach the same amount of views but the number of visitors set a new record with well over 6,000 visitors from 92 countries.

I keep hearing that due to the ever-evolving nature of the internet, blogs and message boards are becoming a thing of the past as everyone turns to Instagram and TikTok. I’m still not tempted to join.

Aside from Styleforum which blunders along and has periods of seeming a bit stale, the two website fora I most frequently visit are Mod Generation and Modculture. Mod Generation seems to be in deep decline with very rare entries despite over 6,000 listed members, and I recently heard that the Modculture message board is soon to close. Traffic there had recently dwindled to just a few regular posters but it was generally a good set of lads and quite a few of the items I’ve written about and posted pics of on this blog have been acquired as a result of tips from there. I’ll definitely miss the place for a daily check-in and exchange of banter.

Over the years I’ve often wondered what happened to the original sixties Mods? What happened to the most dedicated and clothes-committed of the bunch? Did they get married, get mortgages and no longer have the disposable cash to spend on clothes and customizing their scooters? Did they grow their hair and beards and start smoking pot? Or did they just lose interest? I’m left to wonder now about the current ‘Mod Generation’ and how so many have signed up to Mod-related message boards but then not bothered to participate and have stood by as a key aspect of community and communication moves into decline? Maybe it’s easier to be passive on a dedicated Mod Facebook group than it is to actively participate in online discussions? Maybe it’s me who has fallen behind the times?

Well I’m still here and intend to continue with my musings. Once again I renew my invitation for anyone to contact me with ideas or comments. Thanks to all visitors and viewers for your interest and support – wishing you all good health and happiness throughout 2022!

Rod’s Togs – ‘Number Two’!

Last week I was invited to an event my mate was hosting. He told me it was ‘sixties-themed’. I thought this was right up my alley so this is what I wore:

Only when I got there did I realise that beyond being ‘sixties-themed’ it was actually ‘Austin Powers-themed’ and that I was inadvertently emulating Robert Wagner as ‘Number Two’!

I’m usually not really into ‘fancy dress’, but as this was what I’d deem to be ‘normal clothes’ for me, I’m disappointed that I didn’t see this coming and get hold of an eye patch to complete the look! Next time …

Suit – Thick As Thieves

Roll-neck – Tyrwhitt

Chelsea Boots – Arthur Knight.

Rod’s Togs – Channeling Rico Tubbs’ Sharkskin Suit For A Festive Party

It’s a rare occasion when I can dust off my Black Tie gear. In the past there have been some New Year parties where it has been appropriate. This year I did manage to get out and get suited up over the festive season, but there was no call for Black Tie.

Instead I wore the replica of my silver wool-mohair sharkskin wedding suit, the history of which I detailed here. At some point it struck me that I may have been subconsciously channeling Jamie Foxx as Tubbs in the film version of ‘Miami Vice’!

I’m an unabashed fan of the TV show and was excited to see what producer Michael Man would do with a film version when it came out in 2006. The end result was a mish-mash for me – aspects of the film were great (colourful outdoor shots, cinematography, soundtrack, parts of the plot and action) but some of the protagonists were horribly mis-cast (Colin Farrell, Gong Li), and we were asked to believe that Crockett and Tubbs would take a bullet for each other when they don’t even appear to like each other. (Rumour has it that this was the case for the actors off-screen too). The dialogue is peppered with cliches (“I’ll bust a cap in yo’ ass”; “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”) and an egregious ‘homage’ to Dirty Harry’s “do you feel lucky?” speech. Finally, the big shoot-out scene at the end was filmed in such dingy light it’s hard to make out who is who – and this from the man who directed one of the greatest shoot-out scenes ever in ‘Heat’ (1995).

Anyway among the positives is Jamie Foxx’s sharkskin Oswald Boateng suit. I understand it’s a bit of a trade mark for Mr. B to include bright flashy linings in his suits, so I may have had this look in mind when I got Jason at Thick As Thieves to add a bright orange and yellow paisley lining to my suit.

We see Foxx, as Rico Tubbs, wear his suit in two scenes. The frenetic early nightclub scene followed by the meeting with Lieutenant Castillo …

… and later in the daytime while negotiating the (undercover) drug deal details with the Colombian cartel liaison. Foxx’s suit appears to have the sheen of mohair or silk in the fabric mix, in a warm grey-taupe colour which he pairs with a tonal caramel shirt in the nightclub and a very light blue or white shirt in the daytime scene …

Foxx’s suit is a classic Mod-style three button with short side vents just like mine, and the superiority of that style and cut is made obvious when compared against the loose, baggy versions worn by partner Colin Farrell as Sonny Crockett in the film. In both scenes Foxx wears the suit unbuttoned which works with open-necked shirts in the informal settings, and a slim-cut suit with narrow lapels works better when worn like this than a more full-cut jacket with flapping wide lapels.

My suit is a cooler-toned more traditional silver-grey, which I paired with a navy open neck shirt and navy pocket square with red dots, and black Robot / George Cox shoes.

Wishing a happy, safe and successful 2022 to all readers.

Sunglasses – Leisure Society Cortez

Suit – Holland and Sherry wool-mohair made up by Thick As Thieves

Shirt – Tyrwhitt

Pocket Square – Macy’s

Shoes – Robot by George Cox

Rod’s Togs – The Kent Wang ‘Rugby’

Without meaning to beat the dead horse when it comes to long-sleeved polo shirts, on reviewing my most recent post on Far Afield it occurred to me that I own three long-sleeved polo shirts of a very similar medium-blue colour, but small differences in their details make them specific to certain outfits and contexts.

In the early days of the blog back in 2014 I featured my Lacoste polo. Everyone knows about this brand and their signature lightweight pique woven cotton fabric, which is a casual weave that works best with informal outfits, so it’s paired here with white Levi’s 501 jeans and adidas gazelle trainers.

My recent post featured the version from Far Afield in a smoother-handed jersey cotton fabric. I can’t say for sure that this is made in ‘Pima cotton’ but it’s certainly similar. The smoother hand suggests a more formal outfit but this is offset by the flat-lying collar, so it’s worn here with grey five-pocket strides and desert boots, only marginally more formal than the Lacoste polo outfit.

I’ve posted pics of the Kent Wang version in a couple of outfits previously – here with my tan suede trucker jacket and here with a navy cotton blazer – but I don’t think I’ve specifically featured it before.

While Kent Wang sells traditional short-sleeved pique cotton polo shirts, his long-sleeved versions are named the ‘Rugby’ on his website. They’re not really rugby shirts anything like those I’ve featured here and here. They are a more formal take on long-sleeved polos. The pique cotton suggests an informal version as with the Lacoste, but this fabric is considerably more robust than any other pique polo I own. It’s the details which elevate the formality. First there are traditional shirt-style cuffs with cuff buttons, but the biggest step up in formality is the shirt-style collar.

I’ve mentioned before how in my nightclubbing days in years past I would wear a polo shirt under a suit, but I was never comfortable with the way a traditional polo collar such as on shirts by Lacoste or Fred Perry lays so flat that it would seem to sink down under the collar of the suit jacket, which is not a good look. The collar on the Kent Wang Rugby is made with an interlining that causes it to stand up and thus avoid that sinking. This is a detail that I really like about this version and I’m not sure that it’s very commonly found elsewhere – certainly not for less than $100, and in a broad variety of colours. The Kent Wang Rugby thus looks just as good when worn either as a stand-alone cool weather top, or layered under a blazer or casual suit, with shirt-style cuffs protruding from the sleeves and collar standing up proudly from the jacket collar. This contributes to a sharp and crisp result while maintaining the dégagé appearance of a small step down in formality from wearing an open-necked dress shirt.

Shown above with J Crew chinos and Meermin polo suede Penny loafers.

Rod’s Togs – Far Afield

Continuing the theme of long-sleeved polo shirts, my pals over on the forum are a mine of useful information, especially when it comes to scoping out some cool items for sale on internet web stores, often from emerging and/or obscure brands.

Some time ago Far Afield was mentioned so I took a look and got this long-sleeved polo at a sale price maybe around this time last year but I haven’t had it on until the recent cooler autumn weather.

Far Afield appears to be one of those micro-brands that doesn’t want to limit their customer base by advertising as a strictly ‘Mod’ brand, but it’s clear that many of their items will appeal to those who lean towards Mod style or a the mid-century or Ivy look.

This one is a similar colour to one I got from Kent Wang a couple of years ago. The Kent Wang version is sold as their ‘Rugby’ – really a long sleeved pique cotton polo but with buttoning shirt-style cuffs and a shirt-style collar that stands up nicely when worn under a jacket as shown below:

The Far Afield version is made in very soft knitted jersey cotton with a flat-lying collar so the result is a more casual appearance. I’ve shown it here with the collar open and closed so readers can decide which way works best:

One small criticism was that when the shirt arrived it had a very unpleasant odour, perhaps from the packaging. I have no idea what level of cleanliness is the norm for wherever clothes are constructed these days, so I always wash my new clothes before wearing anyway. A trip through the washer and drying outside on the line certainly helped and the odour quickly vanished.

We’re all aware of stalwart Mod-friendly brands like Fred Perry and Ben Sherman, but micro brands like Far Afield, Mango, Todd Snyder and Anglozine along with well known independents like Jump The Gun are worth keeping an eye on, especially during sale season, if you’re looking to score a bargain on items that are a little different from the mainstream and not so easy to find in high street stores.

Sunglasses – Tag-Heuer with custom blue lenses

Polo shirt – Far Afield

Strides – Levi’s 511 Commuters

Desert Boots – Clark’s

Rod’s Togs – Like Father Like Son!

I’ve mentioned my Dad before and how he has inadvertently influenced my approach to style. Here’s a picture of him with yours truly taken on the boats at Lake Windermere near Keswick during our summer holiday to The Lake District in north west England in 1969:

Here am I 52 years later with some very similar threads:

The slight dip in temperatures we get here makes perfect weather to break out the long sleeved polo. I did a post about them here and have recently acquired some more. This one is merino from Uniqlo. I can’t be sure whether the one my dad is wearing is wool or cotton. I’m guessing he’s also wearing basic cotton chino style strides and while other pictures from that holiday show him wearing a pair of navy cotton canvas lace-up deck shoes that we used to call plimsoles, I think he was wearing rubber soled black calf penny loafers. (I don’t remember him wearing slip-ons much at all!). I don’t have canvas plimsoles so wore my trusty desert boots.

These kind of pics show that certain items of clothing may trend in and out of ‘fashion’, but in the right context and paired with complementary items they look appropriate and stylish no matter what decade. My Dad was 48 in 1969 and I’m now approaching ten years older so when it works it works, regardless of the time period or the wearer’s age.

There’s always some debate about whether to button polo-style shirts all the way to top. I left the top button open in the main picture to emulate the photo of my Dad but if the placket is constructed well they can look equally good fastened all the way.

Here’s another pic of the two of us, I think taken near Ullswater, from the same holiday. Notice my Dad wearing another long sleeved polo, this one in a teal / dark blue, probably with the same chinos and loafers.

Sunglasses – Vuarnet Edge *

Polo sweater – Uniqlo

Strides – J, Crew

Desert Boots – Clark’s

* I have another pair of Vuarnet sunglasses. The model is named ‘Ice’ and with the polarized lenses and side shields they may have been made with ski-ing and climbing in mind but they are excellent for when we go boating out to the nearby sand bar islands.

Last year I found out that Daniel Craig was going to be wearing Vuarnet sunglasses in ‘No Time To Die’.

I came across the model, named ‘Edge’ and grabbed a pair. I really like them, great lenses and with very sturdy frames but I have to admit that when I finally saw the film they are only featured for a brief moment as Bond and Nomi get in the gadget plane to do battle with Saffin in the big finale.

Bremont – The ‘British’ Watch

I recently acquired this watch from Bremont. The Americas Cup Oracle Team USA limited edition from 2016.

I became interested in this brand several years ago when I read an article about Britain being an original pioneer in the watch making business a long time ago, but having been almost totally eclipsed by Swiss / German / Japanese brands more recently. Despite that, there were / are a few British brands (Christopher Ward) but it’s a bit sneaky to call some of them ‘British’ when they seem to largely use Swiss ETA movements.

The story goes that the founders of Bremont – two brothers named Giles and Nick English – started up the brand and chose their company name after a vintage aeroplane they were flying crashed in France and they were assisted by a Monsieur Bremont. To me they missed a huge opportunity to name their brand ‘The English Watch Company’ or something similar!

Anyway I understand that Bremont watches aren’t held in the highest regard by many watch aficionados. After some research I found that one reason they lack a certain level of credibility / admiration is that they use fairly basic Swiss movements but put them in a case in London to earn a ‘made in England’ merit badge, and pump up their prices to around $5k, which seems like a fair enough reason for some people to give them a swerve.

In a partial defence of this criticism, I understand that Bremont has recently unveiled ’The Wing’ – a vast new manufacturing headquarters at which they will produce their own in-house movements – so it will be interesting to see the affect this may have on price, quality and perception of the brand among watch enthusiasts.

Along with wanting to support my Anglophile tendencies I do generally like a lot of their designs and I like the standard font used for many of their dials, but on most of their models there always seems to be at least one feature I don’t like which has prevented me from getting fully on board. Ugly sword hands …

Weird heavy shrouds, two and four o’clock crown positions …

The ’Kingsman’ collaboration is OK if you go for that busy Breitling style, but for me would have been so luch better with a dive bezel added … .

I took a liking to the Boeing GMT chrono which had all the elements I like – dive bezel, chronograph function and GMT hand with discreet 24 hour scale on the flange. I was about to pull the trigger on one of these on eBay which for $3600 would have been a bargain, but I couldn’t get past the four o’clock date window and the imbalance of the oversized chrono pushers so I let it go …

About five years ago Bremont came out with a limited edition series made in collaboration with the Oracle Americas Cup Team. I really took a liking to it. After some patient searching I finally bagged this one in ‘as new’ condition but costing much less than the original RRP of $6800. It’s in barely used condition, all papers, pouches, extras etc. Whatever basic Swiss movement it may have started with, it’s had significant upgrades to add the fifteen minute countdown features in the twelve o’clock position subdial. I’m not a yachtsman and I can’t think of another scenario in which I would need a fifteen minute countdown, but I don’t race cars and don’t have a use for a tach scale either and this hasn’t stopped me from getting a Rolex Daytona and seeking out a Moonwatch speedy one day!

Anyway I love this – bright white dial with red and blue accents. It’s lightweight despite the size as it’s titanium. The rubber strap is comfortable and it has easily readable hands, fonts etc. with very bright lume. Limited edition number 34 of only 235 Now to track down that Moonwatch!