Knowing that us chaps sometimes need a little style guidance, a gentle nudge in the right direction, I spent a very enjoyable hour with one of the countries leading tailors partaking in a little “sartorial banter” with some coffee and some Tunnocks Caramel Wafers.
I am, of course, talking about award winning Savile Row tailor, style influencer and all round glamorous gal Alexandra Wood from Alexandra Wood Bespoke. Alexandra crafts bespoke business suits for the great and the good and has a client list that reads like a who’s who of well dressed gentlemen. The perfect person to offer a little style guidance.
This is part one of a two part series where I get to pose a few questions of my own to Alex. Soon to be released will be the second part where Alex rips me apart limb from limb with her questions. No, that didn’t happen! I’m only kidding, I provided the biscuits and she’s far too nice to do that!
So, with caramel wafer in hand and donned in my favourite suit I posed a few questions:
- TLG – What got you interested in the world of men’s tailoring?
AW – A suit has been around for years and shows no sign of ever going off the fashion radar. It’s a simple and classic design which can change strikingly so with a difference in colour, cut and style and that has always fascinated me. I also like that a suit is a structured piece of clothing that can mask the body and create (within reason) any shape you want it to. With the knowledge of a well trained Tailor of course 😉
TLG – A good tailor is in my list of the most important people a man should know. A good tailor, a good accountant and a good barman.
- TLG – Do you think that being a woman gives you an advantage in the world of men’s tailoring, perhaps giving advice from a woman’s perspective?
AW – I do. I know what I like to see on a Man, I offer the feminine touch from that view point. I think as I don’t personally wear suits myself (Men’s anyway), that I can take a step back and really see what will look good. I think Men can find choosing clothes a little daunting so to offer a women’s touch gives them that extra confidence.
TLG – I’ll tell you a little story (and hope my Father doesn’t read my blog). The only time my Father hasn’t taken my Mother with him to buy a suit he ended up… well just take a look below… (in his defence it was the 70’s) It perhaps proves the point that a female perspective can sometimes be advantageous! 🙂 (love you Daddy!)
- TLG – Where, or who, do you get your tailoring inspiration from?
AW – Instagram, Mens fashion week, magazines such as GQ and Esquire are a good guide to contemporary fashion. I also look at the latest colours that are out this season and start playing with mood boards that I think will work on certain pieces of clothing.
- TLG – What do you think is round the corner for men’s fashion?
AW – A little more colour, I’m not talking bright and bold but soft hues, with richer, more sumptuous shades absolutely. Men are notorious to sticking to the neutral colour palette but I see small signs coming through that colour will become more apparent.
TLG – I hope you are right, most offices are awash with grey suits with white shirts. We could do with a subtle introduction of colour.
- TLG – What do you think is the most common mistake men make when buying a suit?
AW – Not ticking all of the top three boxes. Fit, style and colour. It can sometimes be the case that if something fits well that it doesn’t matter what colour it is or if the style suits, or vice versa. When purchasing a suit, it’s wise to think “does this fit me, does the colour flatter me and does this style work for me and the chosen occasion?”. And remember, slim fitting but never tight
TLG – I could not agree more, it’s a tricky business buying suits.
- TLG – What three wardrobe essentials should every man have
AW – Navy suit, white shirt and a great pair of shoes. Clean and classic is always the best way to start and to build up from there.
TLG – Start with the classics and you can’t go far wrong.
- TLG – Which sartorial mistakes make you want to cross the street and throttle the perpetrator of the sartorial crime
AW – Ha Ha. Some get road rage, I get Tailors rage 😉 It’s usually always a fit issue. Especially when the shoulders are hanging off and not hugging the shoulders. Sleeves that are too long, trousers that are too long and a colour that does the wearer no favours whatsoever.
TLG – Tailors rage 😀 I can picture it! Tailors chalk being thrown at people like my old physics master used t throw chalk dusters at the misbehaving pupils in his class.
- TLG – There has been a glamorous uprising of tweed in recent years. Do you think it’s here to stay or will be out as soon as the hipster crowd are done playing with this classic fabric?
AW – I know this makes you very happy Nick 🙂 I think it will be here to stay but that the shorter trendy jackets will fade in replacement for bolder colours. Tweed is a great classic and lasts an incredibly long time so to have it cut timelessly will do you more favours than a super trendy short jacket will.
TLG – As a committed Tweedaholic this is music to my ears!
- TLG – Where do you stand on mixing formal and casual clothes? Dare I say jeans with a blazer or sports jacket?
AW – If the jeans are dark indigo and not pale, then yes. The jeans have to be cut well too. Levis do some really great slim fitting jeans that work really well with blazers. I even quite like a softly coloured blazer with a pair of tailored shorts, but never three quarter length under any circumstances.
TLG – There is a fine line to tread but with your advice I reckon us gents can avoid turning ourselves out like Jeremy Clarkson
- They say “never brown in town” Outdated or a rule to adhere to?
AW – Outdated. Dress down has been introduced for a few years now and the rule that only shiny black shoes can be worn with a pin stripe suit are very much out the window. I personally think that dark navy suits look better with chocolate brown shoes and adds a modern touch. Tan coloured and you may be getting a little too brave.
TLG – I love brown shoes. The leather seems to have so much more character than boring black. Check out @erikged on Instagram for some serious brown shoe porn.
- If you could give one piece of advice to the modern gent about style what would it be?
AW – Tap into your style. It’s great to get inspiration from magazines, instagram etc but if you’re not comfortable wearing it, then you’ll never look as good as you could or should.
TLG – This is the best advice any gent can take. Readers – if you take one piece of advice from this Q&A make it this piece!
- I may regret asking this, but what is your stand on red trousers? Do they say classic country gent or wide-boy attention seeking jerk?
AW – Why can I only see half of you 🙂 Again, confidence here is key. If you’ve got the balls to carry it off, go for it. If you’re the shy retiring type, well, you probably wouldn’t be asking that question 😉
TLG – I can’t help but feeling that you are being diplomatic Alex! They are certainly something that can far to easily wear the wearer, if you know what I mean. They certainly divide opinion but I always say, be yourself and be brave.