MENSWEAR HAS EVOLVED, WITH SMART CASUAL REPLACING THE TRADITIONAL SUIT. HERE, LONDON’S PERSONAL SHOPPERS AND BRAND STYLISTS SHARE THEIR ADVICE WITH TALLULAH RUSHAYA
In the last few years, style has leaned towards smart-casual, defined by
its ability to walk the line between formal and everyday attire. As the party season approaches, it could be the opportune time to update your wardrobe.
The smart-casual dress code provides the chance to develop individual style through colour and fit. From Jermyn Street to Bond Street, London is home to brands both domestic and international offering a classic but modern wardrobe. And when it comes to upgrading your style, help is at hand.
THE NEW SUIT
Comfort is a top client request, according to personal stylist Daniel Johnson. Johnson cites designers Tom Ford, Brunello Cucinelli, Zegna, Loro Piana and Canali whose clothes can easily be worn with trainers or t-shirts, particularly for long-haul flights. After a recent discussion with Alessandro Sartori, Zegna’s creative director, in Milan, it can be concluded that the suit has been redefined. “He said ‘the new suit’ is a casual jacket; like a chore jacket or a field jacket, paired with matching trousers.”
With a private fitting room opposite Claridge’s, Daniel keeps a record of which outfits and brands work for each client, establishing a ‘solid core wardrobe’. They work with their own exclusive tailors. “We’ve had several requests this month for a new winter coat, creation of new outfits, scarves and…. cashmere in everything!”
On ‘The Row’, Sean Dixon, founder and managing director of Richard James Savile Row, agrees that suits are becoming lighter and less structured. “Our new-season corduroy suits are a point in question: the shoulder is softer, and they’re half-lined for lightness and comfort. Of course, the cut remains as precise as ever, which is what ensures the fit and sharp silhouette that we are known for,” he comments. As for where to start, Dixon advises with the body and complexion. “Dark colours are slimming, rich pink shirts can give your face colour; single-breasted jackets are slimming.”
At the neighbouring Richard Anderson, they’ve noticed an increasing number of bespoke requests. “There’s been a surge in contemporary fabrics, such as moleskin and cotton, for bespoke formal business suits, both cloths would have traditionally been used for smart-casual pieces like sports coats. The younger customer wants a suit that fits multiple uses,’’ says founder Richard Anderson.
“They want to dress their suit down at the weekend with a t-shirt and slick trainers, rather than a shirt, and then use the same suit for work, paired with a crisp shirt and smart shoes. They tend to be the customer that purchases separates to bring more flexibility in to their wardrobe, such as cotton trousers or cord trousers.”
KNITWEAR & JACKETS
As temperatures lower, knitwear is an essential wardrobe component to combine flair and practicality. Knitwear does not need to be limited to off-duty dressing and can be worn with finesse. Paired with a smart jacket, knitwear can be the perfect accompaniment. Gabrielle Teare, a personal shopper based on the King’s Road, highlights its move from purely leisurewear. “Sandro has zipped bomber jackets that are very nice,’’ she says. “For older men, Boggi Milano is my go-to brand to find padded jackets, gilets, these can be worn under wool jackets.”
And when it comes to knits, men are embracing colour like never before, notes Oscar Macdonald, global commercial director, of cashmere brand Begg x Co in Burlington Arcade. “Even greys are stepping up their attitude, with anthracite and Siberian greys adding that subtle but unusual edge.”
“Fashion should be fun!” stylist to the stars, Holly MacNaghten declares. “I believe a person’s personal style should be ever-evolving, for my celebrity clients it certainly is. Try and find a few silhouettes and outfit combinations that work best.” While fashion should be experimented with, MacNaghten advises following ‘a few personal rules’ to create cohesion. “Look for common themes in your current wardrobe or those you admire. If you lean towards clean tailoring and a neutral colour palette then stick to this as the basis.” A believer in the capsule wardrobe, she highlights Mr P (at Mr Porter) as the perfect place for high quality basics.
With up-top options ranging from Oxford and chambray to t-shirts, the shirt is a staple. Your choice between a button-up and a fresh tee is the ultimate steer towards either dressing up or going in a more casual direction. On Jermyn Street, bespoke and ready-to-wear shirtmaker Emma Willis, smart-casual still means the finest quality.
This year Emma Willis launched its luxurious Swiss and Italian jersey cotton collection, creating the perfect t-shirt. “We make all our shirts using the same attention to detail with hand cutting and matching all patterns at the French seams, the same luxurious fabrics formal our casual shirt, t-shirts and polos,’’ the eponymous founder remarks. “A more relaxed style can still be very elegant and the quality is evident; shirts worn open collar and the sleeves rolled but cut perfectly to your shape in a beautiful cotton or linen will create an extremely elegant yet casual look.”
The move towards comfort is also being seeing within footwear. Prior to this, certain shoes were deemed inappropriate for the office. “The most common grumblings that we hear from customers having to adopt a ‘smart-casual look’ (because let’s face it, for so many industries suits are seldom worn), is that they’re tired of having to forgo quality,” notes James Fox, head of marketing at Crockett & Jones, which has bases in Burlington Arcade and Jermyn Street. “Some are still surprised at the depth of our collections in terms of variety of styles, last, material and colour.”
Established in 1879, Crockett & Jones shoes are handmade with care to last. For those seeking more casual footwear, Fox suggests looking beyond the shop window featuring Oxfords and Derbys. Inside its stores, you’ll find laidback loafers and every-occasion boots offered in a rich colour palette of chestnut, oak, earth green and more. “Hurricane Hide is a new material being introduced into the collection this season. It will sit alongside the already hugely successful Rough-Out Suede, and I’d argue that if you enjoy one, you’ll easily enjoy the other.”
Top Tips from Deni Kiro, Personal Stylist
•Deconstructed tailoring offers a sense of smart comfort and ease.
•Field jackets, knitted shirts, suede coats and bombers, are perfect for both day and night.
•Wardrobe cleanse sessions are essential before the start of every season. I identify what’s missing.
•I often rely on luxury brands such as Joseph, Pal Zileri, Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli and Boglioli for staples.
•Owning the right staples for each season is key for a versatile wardrobe. This includes a tailored jacket, Chino pants (narrow trousers), smart sneakers, a shirt with a modern cut or a cashmere or wool sweater.
•Explore new colours beyond navy, grey and black that work for a classic wardrobe.
• Choose these items in line with your body, height, and complexion.
Deni Kiro is a personal stylist and image consultant on New Bond Street. Book an appointment by visiting denikiro.com
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