Month: March 2018

Book Review: Bespoke Menswear: Tailoring for Gentlemen

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’d like to share with you a review on one of my favorite books on menswear and that is (as seen in the title of this post), Bespoke Menswear: Tailoring for Gentlemen by Bernhard RoetzelI received this book for Christmas after being inspired to seek out more information on bespoke tailoring and to understand certain aspects, and I will say it is a real eye-opener into the world and history of bespoke clothing.

The book starts out by attempting to define what exactly bespoke tailoring is, the author illustrates the reversal in the last century going from a time where almost all clothing was bespoke to today where it is a lot rarer.

From there, Roetzel explores the past of bespoke tailoring, dating all the way back to (fun fact) 1152, when the first tailor’s guild was established in Germany. An overview of what differentiates one country’s particular tailoring style to another’s is then given, focused solely on European nations as let’s face it, they are the birthplace of bespoke luxury.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the feature Roetzel illustrates of many well-known ateliers throughout Europe including  Sartoria A. Caraceni of Milan, Cifonelli of Paris, Dietl of Munich and Zaremba of Warsaw. It is always nice to see the workspaces and the faces of the people behind these iconic companies.

This book could have just stopped there, but instead, the author takes it up a notch by featuring world-renowned cloth merchant, Scabal and going step by step on how wool goes from sheep to suiting fabric. Somewhere around this nice feature is a handy list of key fabric terms and a nice photo and descriptions of different patterns:

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Of course, this book would not make any sense had the author not included the actual steps (with photos) as to how a bespoke garment comes together, from measurements to patternmaking, cutting and stitching, it truly does come together like a piece of fine art! As a bonus feature, Roetzel explains the names and purposes of a tailor’s tools with photos.

Suits are not the only feature in this book, there are separate sections on bespoke shirts and ties with similar features on processes, cloths and ateliers producing them. I will admit that to me the feature on bespoke ties feels unnecessary, I mean I can still admire the art form that goes into making one but are that many people in Europe commissioning bespoke ties these days?

Where’s my memory??? I almost forgot to include a feature that would be useful to many and that is the difference between bespoke and made to measure, which are often confused with one another. (No I won’t tell you here, buy the book and find out! 😉 )

A nice touch at the end of the book features a full glossary of all critical terms in the book as well as the addresses of each featured atelier should you decide to seek one out for your next suit.

So, who would I recommend this book to? Not anyone who doesn’t understand much about menswear, not anyone who you would consider “cheap” who does not understand the true value of these beautiful garments and who only looks at price. I would recommend it to someone who has a knowledge or interest in tailoring and the world of menswear, this book will only stoke the fires of your passion and perhaps inspire you to commission a bespoke garment one day!

You can find the book for sale on Amazon for roughly $30 CAD, get a copy here:

Until next time, keep it dapper!

 

-The Don

 

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The One (or Two) Knots to Rule Them All!

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tonight’s post will be on a topic so simple that most men don’t even think twice about it. I am of course referring to the tie knot. Now there are so many different options when it comes to tying a tie but there is one particular knot that graces the necks of uber stylish men worldwide. Are you ready for this tidbit of super secret information? I am referring to the humble, easy to tie, four in hand knot.

4 in hand pitti uomo gent gazette

Pitti Uomo, ultimate display of peacocking yet look at the simple tie knots. Photo from Gentleman’s Gazette 

I myself have recently abandoned my old favorite, the half-windsor knot in favor of the four in hand and it’s cousin, the double four in hand.

What makes the four in hand, a knot that was probably the first one you ever knew, so damn stylish? For one, it has a dash of built in sprezzatura. Take a good look at the knot, it’s not 100% symmetrical, it’s slightly askew….and we wouldn’t have it any other way, embrace it!

Secondly, it is a versatile knot that pairs with any kind of tie and shirt collar as evidenced below:

Now, I was tempted to include an exception to this rule by writing that extra wide spread collars only look good with a larger knot like a half-windsor, but after seeing what my extra wide spread collar looked like with a four in hand knot (first picture on left), I can’t justify including that exception.

What else do I love about this knot? Double it up and have twice as much fun! The double four in hand knot (simply wrap the tie around a second time before knotting) adds a further dash of sprezzatura by adding a little bulk and personality to the knot. It also serves a practical purpose to shorten neckties that may be a touch too long for you depending on your height.

But Don, that about those cool intricate knots I see on Instagram? Aren’t those cool to use on a regular basis? H-E-L-L  N-O!

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Eldredge Knot

I hold such a disdain for these kinds of knots for 2 reasons.

  1. It LOOKS like you are trying too hard, the complete opposite of sprezzatura
  2. You are probably wearing a cheap tie and are trying to distract away from that fact with a WOW factor knot…if you’ve got a great quality tie on, let the tie be the star of your show not the knot!

To conclude, in order to look great with you neckwear you do not need to fuss over what knot goes with what collar, simplicity is elegance! Consider the four in hand (and double four in hand) like a white dress shirt, it goes with everything!

Grazie e salute!

-The Don

Psst! Looking for a great place to stock up on any tie imaginable? Check out the Tie Bar, with prices that can’t be beat for the quality. I own an extensive amount of ties and pocket squares from them, from classic and elegant to fun and funky. There’s plenty to match your taste without breaking the bank!

Live Clean Men’s Classic Clean Shampoo Review!

Good Evening Ladies and Gents,

In a previous post I mentioned how I was looking for a quality shampoo that is as natural as possible (by natural I mean sulfate and paraben free etc). And while I love Brickell products and was seriously considering their shampoo, the $26 CAD price tag had me hesitant. Seemingly devoid of options I was going to pull the trigger on it until I searched one last time and came across the Live Clean brand, a Canadian company (with Canadian made products, a bonus for the folks here in the Great White North!) founded in 2006 with eco friendly, plant based shampoos and grooming products. At $13 CAD (including shipping) from Well.ca, I pulled the trigger on it.

Now before I get into the review of this product, I thought it would be important to mention why I wanted a shampoo that was sulfate and paraben free. First off what are sulfates exactly? Sulfates (sodium laureth sulfate to be exact) is a chemical that turns the shampoo into a rich lather in the shower (it is also used in many cleaning products). So what is so bad about it? Well, sulfates in your shampoo have a tendency to dry out hair and scalp by stripping them of their natural oils. They can also cause an allergic reaction in those with sensitive skin. For me, not something that sounds particularly enjoyable.

Onto parabens, what are they? In essence, they are preservatives that have been approved for use in cosmetics and grooming products. They are virtually harmless (although there is conflicting research on the topic). For men however, they can cause a couple of unpleasant effects by causing hormonal imbalances that can lower sperm count and testosterone levels. Now I just recently turned 30 years old and I know that testosterone levels naturally start to decline at that age, so in no way shape or form do I want to help accelerate that process!!

Back to the point of writing this, the shampoo! What does this eco-friendly, paraben and sulfate free shampoo contain? The 3 main ingredients (what they call Power Tech 3) are tea tree oil, peppermint extract and Jojoba oil, all natural and efficient ingredients. But how does this stuff look and feel when it’s in your hair?

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Pretty much a clear liquid, not too thick however

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Lathers nicely, not as foamy as regular shampoo with sulfates but that’s alright.

So my thoughts? Lathers nicely, feels really nice when it’s in your hair. The tea tree oil and peppermint extract give it a pleasant tingly feeling while giving a nice deep cleanse to hair and scalp. I will say that after a couple of weeks use, my hair does not at all feel dry or brittle but a little more soft. At half the price of Brickell, although you could find it cheaper on Amazon! (sorry Brickell, still do love your other products!) it’s definitely great value. My only gripe is that I wish it came in a larger size than just 300 ml.

Thank you always for reading and I hope this review will be helpful for you in your search for quality grooming products.

-The Don