18th Jan – Brogues and Turn Ups

Well hello hello. Happy Friday and end of January all!

Derek’s been a little bit under the weather of late and has mostly been holed up at Stylederektor mansions recovering (though no doubt in a very stylish pair of gentleman’s pyjamers).

However he was well enough to get back into the land of the living this week, just in time for a Father Daughter Sondheim fest at the St James Theatre.

So, to celebrate his return to form, a post on this:

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“The last week has seen The Stylederektor incapacitated with a nasty case of sinusitis. As the week has been spent mainly under the duvet, sartorial elegance has not been top of the agenda.

Anyway before I was laid low I visited good friends with the family, including my editor, a.k.a. The Younger Daughter.

Anyway she was complimenting me on my 501s and in particular the small turn-up. Apparently this is a trend, but I’m only aping what I wore in 1965. That was when I purchased my first imported Levis 501’s. I can’t remember what I paid, but it was significant. (Though saying that, I was still wearing them as long cut downs ten years later).

The point then (as it still is now) is that people would realise what you were wearing by observing the small details. With Levis it was the small red tab on the reverse of the patch pocket and the leather patch on the belt loop. If both were hidden, by say a pullover, then a one-inch turn-up would highlight the iconic Levi seam.

Forty-nine years later the look still holds good. You don’t necessarily need Saville Row to maintain good traditional attire.”

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And look good it does. Must admit I was quite relieved that he’s been working the look for so long, as my first thought on seeing it was that he’d joined a digital media agency on the sly and was picking up style tips from the men there.

(Thankfully not though, I think the Stylederektor.com is probably quite enough Derek for one internet).

 

 

 

 

 

5th January – a birthday brunch

Well hello all. The good news is that the dreaded first week back at work is nearly over, so why not celebrate by kicking back and reading about the outfit Derek sported for his first outing of 2014:

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“To celebrate Mrs Stylederektor’s birthday, a family visit to the super trendy Caravan restaurant in Kings Cross. I must have been oldest man in restaurant by at least twenty years.

The observant among you may have noticed the gingham shirt, blue moleskin trousers and red slipover have all been featured before.

What I have added is my new suede jacket and suede Chelsea boots. I identified both items for potential purchase in Marks & Spencer’s flagship store, Marble Arch, early in December. The good news is that I then bought them both with 30% off just before Christmas.

I remember how a Scottish Uncle of mine, Johnny, who died over twenty years ago, was given a new cap (or as they say in Scotland ‘bunnet’) for Christmas. “Nice cap Johnny” I said “Aye,” he replied “this bunnet will see me oot.”

Well my new suede jacket will see me out!

Happy New Year!”

Errrrr, right. Love Derek’s juxtaposition of the maudlin ‘I will wear this bunnet / jacket and Chelsea boots to my death’ with the cheery ‘Happy New Year!’

I do hope though, that this sort of thing doesn’t become a recurring theme over the coming year, as there’s nothing like talk of impending doom to put you off your cashmere.

Anyway, may I echo Derek’s more cheerier message and wish you all a happy and healthy start to 2014 – may it be a year of great outfits!

A very Stylederektor Christmas

Regular readers will know that Derek, on occasion, has a tendency towards the camp. Whether it’s dressing up to have a little dance around the Chelsea Flower Show, or getting totes emosh over Barbara Streisand, Derek’s a man not afraid of embracing his inner Liberace.

His approach to Christmas really pushes this – planning starts early December when the tree is purchased and decorations fetched from the attic. Then from the 15th onwards… BOOM! It’s like a Christmas bomb has gone off at Stylederektor Mansions and nothing’s spared its blast. Stocking on the bannisters, specially designed wreaths, jars full of candy canes and jugs full of baubles – it’s a big Christmas party and everyone’s invited!

One thing Derek does stop at though, is letting this Christmas joy into his wardrobe, but as a man that does ‘the season’ with such aplomb, he obviously still has style tips to share – only this time for the tree and presents.

So sit back, knock back a snowball and learn from the master:

“Gift Wrapping
Now I was lucky that my first ever job as a gauche fifteen year old was working wrapping china on a Saturday in Heal’s Departmental store.  As a result of the skills learnt then, I always wrap the family presents.

  • Start by pouring yourself a large seasonal drink and have appropriate Christmas music in the background. Carols are lovely, but Nat King Cole and “Fairytale of New York” also have their place
  • Collect boxes of all shapes and sizes. I store them in the attic with the Christmas decorations.  Trust me it is far easier to wrap a box than a bottle or strangely shaped jumper. The only bad news is that you get some strange looks on Christmas morning as you retrieve the boxes from excited family members
  • Use good quality wrapping. M&S sell a fantastic range and it’s always 3 for the 2. It also has a grid on the back to ensure you cut to size
  • Have a range of matching bows, ribbons and name-tags. It’s important to colour co-ordinate
  • Collect over the years sharp scissors, craft knives, pens, and sticky tape dispensers. Keep in store with your boxes. Saves you wasting time searching the home
  • A parcel needs to have the exact size of paper. It looks neat and corners are crisp
  • Ribbons and bows really lend class. Check out You Tube on how to tie an elegant bow, but you can buy inexpensive boxes of self-adhesive ribbons and bows from the supermarket, Primark or even the pound shop which still work – it doesn’t need huge expenditure in John Lewis or Harrods  
  • Wrapped presents are a home decoration and really add a festive feel to the home. Though a word of caution; make sure they are not visible from the road and a temptation for a burglar
  • Finally there is good and bad news. The bad: the average gift takes about fifteen minutes to wrap and thirty seconds to open. The good: the satisfaction is immense when people realise that a stylish sixty something wrapped such an elegant gift

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Dressing the tree
Now in The Stylederektor household we believe in the correct division of labour. Mrs S packs for holidays, and I dress the Christmas tree.

It generally takes me about six hours but the end result, if I say so myself, is spectacular.

  • Real or artificial? Depends what you want. In the early sixties my Mother had a white artificial tree with just white lights. Neighbours used to come from miles to look. I prefer a real Nordmann Fir non drop. It usually last for three weeks inside
  • Shop around. I buy my tree just north of Enfield in a fantastic value nursery. It costs two thirds of what I would pay in a more central location, and they throw in free delivery  
  • Invest in a good heavyweight base and holder. About £20 at Garden Centres. It will last for years. A lopsided tree is a disaster.
  • You’ll need about 100 lights per foot. But again shop around. All supermarkets and discount store have great white lights. Don’t buy too early. Most shops will reduce tree lights to half price in the first full week in December. Similarly buy in the post Christmas sales and keep for next year
  • Colour co-ordinate. I have the traditional gold/green/red
  • I put thick ruby red velvet ribbon with gold trim onto the tree. They are in twelve-foot lengths and run from top to bottom. Again I’ve had them for years. It also looks far better than tinsel
  • Swag with red crystal beads. Again, better than tinsel
  • Put on decorations. Group on the same plane, you don’t want it to look random
  • Put you most treasured and sentimental baubles on the front. We even have a 63 year old glass Santa from Woolworths which my wife had for her first Christmas
  • Decorations again don’t have to be expensive. Matalan and even Primark and Pound Shops plain baubles look the same as pricey ones
  • Buy a tree skirt. It finishes of the tree perfectly
  • Place your beautifully wrapped presents around the tree -Christmas has arrived!

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So there you have it – your Christmas campness sorted!

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How to tie a tie with the Stylederektor – a.k.a. half a century of the half windsor

So here, Derek talks about ties. Or rather gets to ties at the end, via a potted history of the fortunes of Tie Rack, a store I don’t think any of us have given that much thought to.

Bear with us though, there is actually a guide to tying ties at the end.

“Was saddened to read earlier a month that Tie Rack are closing all their high street stores, probably to be replaced by betting shops or pay day loan companies. Tie Rack was a strong brand in the 1990s and 2000′s, similar to many other companies, like Knickerbox, it emerged from small booths at railway stations and airports to become a High Street presence.

I must confess I never shopped at Tie Rack. It primarily only sold ties made from polyester [and we all know how Derek feels about polyester]. It also sold matching ties and handkerchiefs sets [Mon dieu! Matching tie and hanky - worse than the polyester]. It also seemed to have a range of ties for peak trading such as Father’s Day and Christmas and was the go to for Secret Santa gifts for the boss. How many seasonal gatherings featured an embarrassed manager wearing an ironic festive tie which played ‘Santa Claus is coming to Town’?

Apparently the chain has succumbed to modern fashion where men no longer wear ties. Surprisingly enough in the same edition of the newspaper reporting this was a fashion feature about how younger men are returning to more traditional styles and ties are making a comeback, so I think Tie Rack may be making excuses.

As many young men have difficulty tying ties here is leaflet that I picked up from JoS. A. Bank, entitled “How to tie a tie”.

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I have used the Half Windsor for over half a century. Though having recently watched House of Cards I noted that Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood sports a really sharp Four-in-Hand, so I may try that knot.

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Finally James Bond says in From Russia from Love never to trust a man who wears a Windsor knot as it’s the ‘mark of a cad’. Sorry, but I think that’s just prejudice, the Windsor knot is regulation wear for the RAF!

Credit Mr Porter - different tie knots

The basic knots. L – R: ‘mark of a cad’, ‘Derek’s fave for fifty years’, ‘Derek’s tie future’

 

 

13th November – A trip to the theatre

Afternoon all! November is now nearly at a close and Derek is in the final throws of experimenting with his ‘autumn colourways’.

Be warned though, whilst this post does explore ways in which to make the fleck in a jacket pop beautifully, it also contains rather high levels of smugness and may prove frustrating for:

a) Anyone who’s ever purchased an expensive item of clothing only to see it on sale the following week

b) Anyone who’s put on weight ever

You have been warned.

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” A really pleasant evening at the theatre seeing the Ladykillers, one of my favourite Ealing comedies. Even better, my daughter treated us to the tickets.

As you can see I am well into my Movember look with an increasingly bushy moustache.

The jacket is an English style sports jacket in beige with a green and blue fleck from Ralph Lauren. It even has suede leather elbow pads. I’ve an oxford cotton button down collared shirt in blue to pick up the fleck in the jacket. The green cords picks up the same colour in the jacket. I compliment the autumn colourways with a tartan tie again, from Ralph Lauren.

Now I think this is a great look, but what makes it even better is the cost. The cords are at least fifteen years old, and purchased in a sale at Marks & Spencer. Thank goodness for a steady weight. The tie was purchased in a Ralph Lauren outlet store for 25% of the original price. The real bargain was the jacket. I walked into an outlet store on opening. I’d seen the jacket the day before, and knew it was my size but although it was selling at $150 reduced from $450 it just seemed too expensive. Anyway on opening it had been reduced further to $50 or just over £30.

So the secret to good dress is keeping your weight constant and lookout for classics which last and are a bargain.”

Thank you Derek for imparting that secret upon us – now if you can enlighten us as to how one keeps their weight constant for 15 years we’ll really be onto a winner!

The Gentleman’s Sock

Well good afternoon. Apologies for the length of time between posts – this is purely my fault and not that of Derek, who has been e mailing me updates as  regularly as always. But we’re back and today talking all things socks!

Now a good pair of socks give Derek great joy – as seen here, here and here:

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Though few things alarm him more than a glimpse of calf when seated. Here, he talks us through the joy of a luxurious sock:

“Small luxuries are wonderful indulgences. pair of luxury socks just makes you feel good. 

I was once bought a pair of red cashmere socks from Pickett’s in the Burlington Arcade (they were a joy to wear, the only downside being that they had to be hand washed). 

But they must be long. When you sit down you don’t want expose acres of flesh. Bad form to show naked calf. I was recently reading that the officer classes adopted long socks whilst in the military and took them into civvy street. As a result the long sock became de rigueur in the city and the legal profession. The tradition still remains and long socks can be seen on sale anywhere in Jermyn Street.

The only issue is that luxury socks won’t last as well as  nylon socks from Primark, but who ever feels special in  man-made chain store socks? And they smell!

So treat yourself to a touch of luxury.”    

So there you have it men – when choosing your socks, keep ‘em luxurious and keep ‘em long! Check out some of the links below for socks worth handwashing:

Jazzy Jermyn Street numbers from New and Lingwood

Secret weapon socks from Soxfords

Over the calf joys from the Jaunty Flaneur

Pickett’s cashmere for the picky