We Britons have been known throughout history for our iconic style. Think Savile Row suits. Think leather brogues. Think silk cravats. Think Cary Grant, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Eddie Redmayne and Daniel Craig. We Brits have cultivated a reputation as one of the most sartorially-sound nations on Earth, and for good reason.
Iconic men have typified this style over the last centuries, but how do we today navigate these ‘authentic’ British brands, steeped in history? What should you be wearing and where should you buy the best examples of leather, knitwear, footwear and even pyjamas to get the British look?
The Tweed Jacket
There is always a place in the British gentleman’s wardrobe for the archetypal tweed jacket. It could be construed as a caricature if it weren’t so classic and revered throughout history, but tweed remains a strong symbol of British menswear to this day.
The material originated in Scotland, named after the river Tweed, and started as a fashionable staple in the Edwardian period. It was initially worn as a type of status symbol, showing that the wearer could afford – and had access to – such luxury leisure activities as driven shooting and deer stalking. Today, blazers in a variety of house tweed can be found across the outfitters of the West End, including William Evans who have just debuted their newest range.
The Leather Briefcase
A key tool in the arsenal of any jet-setting British businessman, you may think that the briefcase has had its clasped closed for good and been retired to the top shelf of your wardrobe never to be used again. Not so. With laptops and tablets more common than ever, Pickett has developed the traditional briefcase into a size and shape that allows for even the most extensive collection of technologies.
The leather goods and luxury accessories emporium was founded and is still run by Trevor Pickett, the quintessential Mayfair eccentric. An Aladdin’s Cave of aristocracy, every piece – briefcases included – are created across Britain – and so in either Burlington Gardens or Sloane Street.
The Dressing Gown and Pyjamas
Perhaps you have locked down your day look, but style should by no means be sacrificed when you return home in the evening. Known for historically designing and producing the Eton uniforms, and continuing to manufacture and produce for the elite school, New and Lingwood have had significant success with their line of silk dressing gowns and pajamas, worn by the likes of David Gandy and Oliver Cheshire.
Additionally, the brand believes the luxury and pleasure of the perfect fitting shirt is an experience in which everybody should try for themselves at some point in their life, offering a bespoke service which operates from their Jermyn Street location. Sign us up.
Every gentleman with an eye for British craft and authentic style is sure to have a tailored suit in their collection. First established in 1865, each Dege and Skinner suit in painstakingly crafted from the cutting room on Savile Row, and is still family owned by Mr. William Skinner himself.
“Having a bespoke made on Savile Row is a truly British phenomenon. At Dege & Skinner we maintain the integrity of having a suit made individually by hand, for the individual, drawing on many years of experience of making many types of clothing. The process of having your own pattern drafted, a number of different stage fittings, ensure the best fit is achieved. All of this is carried out by our own skilled team of craftsmen and women, in our workshops at 10 Savile Row,” Mr. Skinner explains. A Royal Warrant Holder, William Skinner is also the Chairman of the Savile Row Bespoke Association and is a founding member.
The Cashmere Jumper
N.Peal are known for producing the finest quality cashmere – which can be traced right back to the individual herders who tend their goats on the vast steppes of Mongolia. Launched by Scotsman Nat Peal in 1936 and British owned throughout its 80 year history, N. Peal have been firm favourites with Hollywood Royalty over the years, style icons from Cary Grant to Colin Firth have all loved and been loyal to the brand.
More recently the brand has dressed Daniel Craig, who sported N. Peal in the last two James Bond movies, Skyfall and Spectre. N. Peal were commissioned to make a roll neck for Spectre which featured in the nail biting Austrian sequence, and Bond himself was wearing the turtleneck in the Spectre teaser poster.
Style should stay strong from head to toe, and a quintessential English gent knows that a pair of good Oxfords, Brogues or Chelsea Boots is the foundation to a great outfit. To this end, pay a visit to Crockett and Jones. Family owned since the doors of this footwear powerhouse opened in 1879 in Northampton, the brand now has Jonathan Jones at helm and has done for 40 years.
Production still occurs in Northampton in the factory there, where quality control is key. “Welt sewing is a challenge, as is sole stitching — having to stitch upside-down and quite fast — with no margin for error. Likewise, edge trimming is physically hard work: it’s quite a weight getting through 400 or 600 pairs a day by hand against a trimming machine,” explains Jones. Mr. Jones also stresses the importance of tradition, “The heritage of the brand is very important because it allows you a sense of perspective; if you know where your roots are it gives you confidence going forward.” So why not pay them a visit to stride forth into British style.