Masterpiece

Fashion, places

Living in England, rain is just something that you have to embrace.

If it’s not tipping it down, then it’ll be the typically British, mournfully sombre, scornfully threatening, instantly disheartening overcast sky. And even when it’s actually sunny (as it has been this week), you find yourself unable to appreciate it for fear of the inevitable rain that you know is coming sooner or later (generally it tends to be sooner).

The setting for today’s outfit ultimately results from the rain and its effortless ability to disrupt the best laid plans. A good friend of mine is a photographer (check him out here. He’s incredibly talented!) and we had planned to do some shots out and about in York. The rain had other ideas, so instead, we ended up wandering around the York Art Gallery instead, as it is somewhere I had wanted to visit for a while.

Inspired by the creativity surrounding us and with classic and contemporary art as a backdrop, we ended up taking some photos and I thought I’d turn them into an outfit post.

Let’s make a masterpiece.

 

It’s probably wise to start off with the  standout piece of today’s outfit – these striped trousers. They’re roomy at the top but taper down towards the ankle, keeping things looking slick and tailored while winking to the wide-leg trend that’s taking off at the moment.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that they have pleats on the front, a nice retro flourish that has been criminally underappreciated over the last decade. I’ve seen pleated trousers pop up more and more over the last few seasons – a look back to the more relaxed and spacious tailoring of the 90s, a time before Hedi Slimane foisted the irresistibly ubiquitous skinny suit upon us.

 

When you’ve got a statement piece like these obnoxious trousers, as a rule, it’s generally best to keep everything else as simple as possible. Here I’ve gone for an oversize grey  t-shirt. Nothing fancy, I just bought a couple sizes larger than I usually wear to get that baggy 90s style.

My black denim jacket is from Gap (bought in the sale, naturally). Unlike the more relaxed, baggy denim jackets I normally go for, this one is more fitted and contrasts nicely with the looser tee and trousers.

 

 

Keeping up the monochrome theme, I’ve gone for grey sneakers and white socks.  No colour for me, thanks. I’ve also got my trusty grey cap, which pairs nicely with the grey tee, helping tie the outfit together.

Finally, my bag is from Topman and cost me £1. Yes, £1. I just got lucky one day and managed to turn up when they had loads to get rid of. I really enjoy its neutral colour palette as well as the leather touches that make it stand out.

Truly a work of art.

Photos by Rob McConkey

 

Stingily Vintage

Fashion

I’ve always been notoriously, unashamedly, almost evangelistically, stingy. I just hate paying more for something than I think I should.

That said, I spend roughly half of my income in coffeeshops and around a quarter on various sweets and pastries, so this parsimony is basically the only way I’m able to fund my addictions.

This instinctive sense of entitlement to the finer things in life contrasted with my chronic unwillingness to part with my money can be a struggle. But savvy clothes shopping can do a lot to ease the tension.

As it goes, today’s outfit is a penny-pinching triumph, costing me just under £5 altogether.

Stinginess. It’s a talent.

 

Let’s start off with this vintage sweatshirt. For the record, “vintage” in fashion is just a fancy way to say “secondhand and somebody probably died in this”.  I really enjoy the nautical feel of this jumper and its oversized, worn-in style. I bought it from a shop in Belgium for €3. Bargain. This is a great one to throw on with some jeans or maybe chuck it over a pair of shorts as sunny summer afternoons turn to breezy summer evenings.

Subtotal: £2.61 (€3)

My slouchy denim jacket used to belong to my mum and I basically just stole it. I have zero regrets. Over the years, this light wash denim has become my go-to outerwear, seeing me through spring, summer and autumn, but doesn’t quite cut it during the harsh northern winter.

Subtotal: £2.61

You can’t really see it but, underneath the sweatshirt, I’m wearing a white tee with a sporty elasticated ringer neck. I got this from Boohoo.com and it cost £4 with one of the 50% discount codes that they send out quite indiscriminately. However, last year I won a competition that gave me a free £500 to spend on the website. So in actuality, it cost me nothing. Begrudgingly, I have to admit that this one can’t be blamed on my shopping skills, this was purely luck!

Subotal: £2.61

While giving a nod to the incumbent 70s trend, my corduroy trousers still keep things contemporary in a slim silhouette. I got them on sale for £2 at Primark a few months ago. That’s a rather heavy-handed reduction, even for Primark, so clearly they had overestimated the demand for corduroy trou as there was a table completely full of these bargain cords.

Subtotal: £4.61

Finally my white sneakers were another find from Boohoo.com. I think they cost £10 with the 50% off (honestly, never pay full price on Boohoo, just wait for a discount!), but like the tee, they cost me nothing in actual money.

This brings the grand total to a measly £4.61, having actually paid for only two of the five items.

Eat your heart out, Ebenezer Scrooge.

As I look back over this post, searching desperately for some sort of conclusion, it would appear that my budget fashion tips are as follows:

  • Trawl vintage shops and discount bins
  • Steal
  • Be lucky

Words to live by.

Belgium

Fashion, places

I recently had the pleasure of visiting for a second time what I think is a very underrated country.

You don’t really hear much about Belgium, do you? It’s all Paris this and Amsterdam that, while Belgium sits there quietly enjoying the best of French and Dutch culture.

I was there for ‘I Have A Dream’ – a week of events organised by a group of Christian students at the University of Leuven. These events aimed to provide students an opportunity to think about the big questions of life and hear about and discuss Christianity.

We had a really good response from students there and it was great to chat with people and get to know them, and to talk about some of the deeper things in life that we don’t always get time to think about.

Leuven is a beautiful city (also criminally underrated, I think) and I loved wandering around, taking in the mix of gothic, contemporary and neoclassical architecture. St Peter’s cathedral is an imposing gothic structure on the main market square, but the stunning 15th century town hall accross the road commands your attention with dozens of carved figurines all over it.

The library was definitely another favourite building of mine and, though it took a beating in both of the world wars, it stands tall and proud on Ladeuzeplein Sqaure. Well, at least until the next war. Outside stands a huge statue of a fly impaled on a needle. Why?

Because art. That’s why.

Belgium is the land of chocolate (and Stella Artois too, but the less said about that, the better) so of course I had my fill of sweet treats, especially truffles, waffles and ice cream. Filled to the brim with coffeeshops, cafes, bars and restaurants, the standout for me had to be The Capital – a bar that boasts 2000 different varieties of beer. Yes, you read that right. With 20 beers on tap and bottled favourites at the bar, the rest are kept in their extensive cellar and sent up to the bar on an industrial elevator.

The Capital spits in the face of your local.

Some friends pointed me towards Think Twice – a vintage shop in Leuven. I will forever be in their debt. Think Twice (or T2) have sales every month to clear up space for their incoming new stock. They do this by means of incredibly generous discounts. Today everything is 30% off, tomorrow 40%, the day after 50%. This is off EVERY item in the store, from shirts and jackets to bags and shoes. After that, each item is €5, then €4, then €3 and so on, until you’re buying leather jackets and wool coats for basically pennies.

Great fashion at ridiculously low prices without the ethical implications of cheap labour, as well as the feeling of knowing you’re recycling an outfit instead of buying yet another new item and adding to the vicious cycle of clothing waste. No surprsises, I was a big fan. I went twice. On the first day I got an black denim shirt for £4. The next I hit things hard, and bought a faded red denim shirt, an embroidered cuban collar shirt, an indigo denim jacket, and a vintage sweatshirt. Unsurprisingly for a secondhand shop, each of the items were larger than what I usually wear, but I quite enjoy the slouchy 90s feel of oversized items.

I also got some time to wander around Brussels which is a half hour train ride from Leuven.

Brussels, being the bastion of culture that it is, has a famous statue called ‘Mannekin Pis’ – directly translated as ‘Little Man Piss’. It is quite literally a statue of a little boy peeing. There are many legends as to the origins of this piece of art. One of them is that sometime in the 14th century the city of Brussels was besieged by a foreign enemy. The attackers had laid explosives around the city to finish things once and for all, but a young boy happened to notice the burning fuse and urinated on it – thus saving Brussels.

Believe it or not, people come from literally all over to gaze upon the admittedly underwhelming manhood that may or may not have saved the city all those years ago. This is culture, guys. Rich, beautiful culture. Annoyingly, on the day I visited, he had been dressed in a weird old-fashioned outfit for some reason, probably a public holiday or something. This marred my experience somewhat as normally he’s a lot less prudish.

Aside from looking at urinating statues, I spent the day wandering around the beautiful buildings of Belgium’s captial like the royal shoping arcade Galleries De Hubert, beautiful neoclassical churches, the palace and the royal library.

I also visited the European Parliament – because three weeks after the UK officially began withdrawal from the European Union, I can’t imagine anything they’d want to see more than a clueless Englishman wandering around, unable to speak any of the three national languages.

It was actually quite humbling to see the frankly huge complex – I immediately felt very small, both in stature and in my contributions to world unity.

It was really interesting and thought-provoking learning about the rich history of the EU at the neighbouring Parlamentarium – basically a museum about the European Union. It was genuinely fascinating – which was a huge surprise to me, if I’m honest. My favourite part was the 360 projection room that simulated being an MEP during a vote. I don’t care how lame that makes me sound. A bittersweet visit for me, the Parlamentarium really hit home the momentous decision that the UK has made.

Politics aside, I had fantastic time in Belgium and my love for the country has only grow stronger. As has my love for waffles and beer.

 

Freshen Up

Fashion

(Feel free to scroll down to the outfit if you don’t fancy reading my somewhat lengthy introduction.)

To ring in the new year, my housemates and I threw a 90s/00s themed party. Naturally, it was fancy dress.

If I’m honest, I’ve never been too big a fan of fancy dress. Firstly, it’s a lot of effort, and I generally dislike things that require effort. Strike one.

Secondly, fancy dress rarely looks good. It can look creative or ingenious or clever, but it almost never looks good. Best case scenario, you look like as much like a Minion as it is possible for a human being to look, but you don’t look good. You look like a Minion. Strike two.

Finally, fancy dress often includes body paint which kind of makes me cringe. Strike three, and we’re out.

This is something that I’ve subconsciously known but never really processed before. Writing this right now is genuinely the first time I’ve thought about why I dislike body paint so I can only apologise for whatever stream of consciousness diatribe comes next.

Maybe it’s because I had eczema growing up so my mother never let me use face paint or even those cool transfer tattoos that everyone had. Instead I had to stick them on my book bag that held my piano sheet music. My book bag.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve been forced to rub against sweaty, over-familiar, painted clubgoers on various nights out while at university.

Or maybe it’s because people always miss out bits of skin (honestly, the number of smurfs I’ve seen with unpainted napes) which is just unsettling; or even worse, when they go overboard with face paint and their eyes, mouths and nostrils look like gaping holes into another dimension, lost in a sea of cheap acrylic paint.

*shudder*

So all of that considered, I’ve never really been a fan of fancy dress. This year however, I decided I’d give it a good go.

I tried to find an easily recognisable black 90s/00s character, which is harder than you might think. And before you go on about colour-blind costumes, I’ve tried that before and either no one had a clue who I was or they racked their brains to think of an appropriate black character who they assumed I must have been. In fact I once went to a party dressed as a cowboy and my friend decided that I must have been Django (Unchained).

Eventually I ended up with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – the king (sorry, prince) of 90s cool. I borrowed my housemate’s dungarees and I already had an appropriately kitsch snapback so just needed an obnoxiously patterned shirt.

I found this – let’s face it – objectively ugly shirt in a charity shop and, much to my surprise, have quite started to like it and begun to incorporate it into my everyday style.

So that’s what this unnecessarily long introduction has been about – trying something different and discovering a new style.

Safe to say I’ve waffled on for long enough so let’s get down to today’s outfit. All these pictures were taken by my friend Luke. Check out his other work here.

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As discussed, this shirt is from a charity shop. It was originally from M&S and was, in fact, designed for men, despite all suggestions to the contrary. I’m really into 90s vibes at the moment. The decade came back into fashion a few of years ago but sort of plateaued, challenged no doubt by the bohemian 70s styles that came in not long afterwards. Over the last few seasons however, 90s style has come back in a big way, especially in the sports luxe/athleisure trend (ie sportswear that isn’t really designed for sport). Gap, where I work, is having an extended throwback with their 90s Archive Reissue, re-releasing some of their classic pieces from when they were at the height of their cool.

With quite a loud shirt, I’ve gone for solid colours for the rest of the outfit, starting off with my trusty plain white tee. I decided to tuck it in, which, once again, is a bit of a 90s thing, and I think it looks a little cleaner and more put-together.

My jacket is from Boohooman.com. I’ve recently become quite a fan of textured materials (corduroy, waffle knit, ribbed cotton, velvet) and, fittingly, this jacket is made of a navy blue (fake) suede. I’ve been seeing a lot of suede bombers around recently, especially in a brown tan colour, so I wanted to stand out a little by going blue. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’m something of a lanky gentleman so this medium jacket doesn’t quite reach my wrists, while a larger size would have been too baggy. My answer to this is to roll up the sleeves a little so it looks like a stylistic choice, rather than a necessity.

Another nod to the 90s are my straight leg trousers. In recent seasons, designers have finally started to move away from the slim silhouette that has gripped our bottom halves for the last decade, instead looking to more relaxed, skater-inspired fits. This light wash denim is relaxed and casual, making the perfect addition to my chilled outfit.

Wider legs can be difficult to pull off without looking like you’re wearing your dad’s gardening trousers, so high hemlines (either cropped at the ankle or rolled up like mine) are a good way to make sure you look more skater boy than see you later, boy.

My shoes were £3 from Primark so I bought them in two colours. A deal’s a deal, man. Finally, I’ve gone for some stripy tube socks and this simple grey cap to add in some last minute 90s touches.

So that’s my 90s inspired outfit – yet another thing we can add to the already lengthy list of things we can thank Will Smith for.

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Fairytale of Old York

Fashion, places

I live in a city called York. It’s a great place to live.

Beautiful medieval architecture, quaint little shops, countless tea rooms and cafes. It’s just a dream.

It’s nothing at all like its louder, brasher namesake New York. So it always makes me laugh that when the British first invited themselves over to what we now call America and built the Big Apple – the economic centre of the United States, one of the busiest cities in the world, the city that never sleeps – they perhaps had my quaint little home in mind.

Overkill, guys. Overkill.

Anyway, today’s look was shot out and about in my favourite city in the world.

York. The original.

I got this denim shirt from Gap last year and it’s a great versatile layer to throw on. It has got poppers instead of buttons so it’s handy if you ever find yourself performing an impromptu striptease. Which I frequently do.

Down below I’ve got some black chinos from Zara (sadly no poppers here). An absolute steal in the sale, they can be dressed up or down. These are a ‘slim fit’ where I’d usually go for the slightly tighter ‘skinny’, but I’m quite happy with how they sit on me. As usual, I’ve rolled up the hems a little to show off my brogues that I’m starting to realise I definitely wear too often.

Finally, I love this coat from Gap’s new spring collection.Granted, it’s far too thin to be a realistic option for February in the north of England, but it definitely looks great. If you’ve an eye for detail, you might notice the striped lining – a tiny little flourish that I really enjoy, making the item stand out a little.

In my younger days I found the idea of a contrasting lining little more than a waste of time – after all, no one can see the lining (unless of course you’re the Fresh Prince and you wear your blazers inside out). Now that I’m an older, wiser, hopefully more stylish gentleman, I see a little more merit in hidden details. It’s like your little secret.

I won’t tell if you don’t.

Sartorial Sorcery

Fashion

I have a friend who is a witch.

Ok, he’s not quite a witch, but he is into magic.

Well, he does card tricks. It’s just that some of his tricks baffle me to the extent that sorcery is genuinely the only logical explanation.

Anyway, this friend of mine, keen to get his witchcraft career going has taken to coasting around bars with a deck cards, wowing people with his particular brand of trickery. Simply from doing this, he has made useful contacts (maybe even a celebrity or two) and has even received offers to perform. It’s basically magical networking – like how I’d imagine Harry Potter would have gotten his first job.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because of my friend’s golden rule: No one questions a man in a good suit.

There’s just something about a suit that gives you a certain confidence, a certain sense of legitimacy. It protects you. Like a suit of armour.

If you saw me running down the street in a hoodie, let’s face it, you’d probably think I’d stolen something. If you saw me running down the street in a suit however, you might assume that I was a businessman, late for a terribly important meeting, or maybe a contestant on The Apprentice with five minutes left to finish the challenge before facing Lord Sugar and a tutting Karen Brady in the boardroom.

As such, no one questions why a stranger in a bar has just asked them to pick a card, when said stranger is wearing a nice suit. It just adds to the mystery.

In that vein, I decided to do a little suiting wizardry of my own and put together this formal outfit.

Going for a bit of an old-fashioned banker/ Tory politician vibe, the outfit is decidedly navy in theme.

Keeping things as classy as you’ve come to expect from this blog, my trousers and waistcoat are from Primark… in the sale. Regardless, I love the navy Prince of Wales check that harks back to Britiain’s bold tailoring traditions (or at least it would if it cost more than £15).

Unfortunately, they didn’t have a blazer in my size so, instead, I thought I’d relax things a little and go jacket-less. Then I remembered that I live in England and that it was January so I opted instead for my favourite coat which I think suits it quite well.

The shirt is from H&M. Due to my neanderthal-esque proportions, the cuffs on most shirts stop just shy of my wrists, which I really need to look into. Recently however, I’ve taken to giving my coat sleeves a single roll and, handily, this slightly tricks the eye into thinking that my arms aren’t quite as lanky as they truly are.

The frankly huge holdall bag is from Boohooman.com. Admittedly I didn’t envisage quite how large it would be when I ordered it – the woes of buying online. As I realised when it arrived, pictures don’t really do it justice but, take my word for it, it’s massive. It’s a great weekend bag though, because I can basically fit all of my worldly possessions in it with little to no trouble. I can’t be dealing with cramming things into small bags. I was never any good at Tetris.

My tie was a Christmas present from my housemates and it’s from Next. I’m a big fan of the tan/rust colour which brightens up what would otherwise be quite a dark, plain look. Finally, finishing off the outfit are my trusty blue-laced brogues from eBay.

And hey presto, there’s a look fit for any aspiring wizard.

Expelliarmus!

 

Burgundy, Belts and the Baffling Nature of Man’s Simultaneous Desires for Singularity and Assimilation

Fashion

With London Fashion Week Men’s over and Pitti Uomo just beginning, show season is well underway. As the international menswear community flexes their sartorial muscles, I thought I’d do a little outfit post.

I wore this a couple of weeks ago to a meal with my family. I tried to dress things up a little, just to remind my family of my unwavering sartorial dominance over them, but it was just a meal in a casual restaurant so I didn’t want to go overboard.

I built the look around this burgundy polo-neck/roll-neck/turtleneck (I’ve never been quite sure what the official term is). Burgundy is a big colour every autumn/winter season and always looks great on knitwear. Killing two birds with one stone, I’ve tucked it in – simultaneously keeping things fancy while also giving a little wink to 90s style where tucking in was all the rage, as the cast of Beverly Hills, 90120 would tell you.

I love the texture of this wool coat (to be honest, I got it from Primark so it’s definitely not wool, but let’s just pretend). Equally contemporary and classic, it’s one of my favourite coats and it’s great for layered looks as it’s not too thick.

Keeping things simple, I’ve gone for these dark selvedge jeans from Topman that I got in the black Friday sale in 2015. In fact, almost everything in this outfit is from various sales. I love a good sale.

These brogues (regrettably full price) keep things nice and traditional but the blue laces give it a little modern touch, as does this skinny belt (sale, baby!).  It’s nice to play around with colours, shapes and textures to give a sense of individuality – or at least as much individuality as a mass-produced belt from a worldwide franchise can grant.

Ok that’s all I’ve got for you. I’ll let you ponder the nature of our conflicting desires for uniqueness and inclusion in your own time.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Fashion

Now that Christmas is over, I can get back to writing about fluffy inconsequential things like my outfits.

I love dogs. One of my favourite things is going for a nice dog walk. Feeling the dog’s excitement as it tugs on the lead, the palpable sense of euphoria as you release it, watching it run around in joy. Love it.

The only problem is I don’t have a dog.

Never one to let circumstance get in the way, I tagged along with some friends. And I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and do a little outfit post too.

This patterned sweater is from Gap. It’s not explicitly a Christmas jumper but has something of a festive pattern to it, meaning that I can wear it all year long . Because I cannot be wasting money on jumpers that only be worn one month a year. That’s just a bad investment.

I’ve gone for some dark indigo jeans from Topman and I borrowed those boots from my friend.

This is my favourite coat. I got it from H&M a couple years ago. It’s got leather lapels but I’ve got a detachable faux fur collar which you can attach to any coat. I find that things in life are generally made better by draping them in fur. Like a dog for example.

Then I’ve topped it off with this cable-knit hat. A navy blue flecked wool cherry on top.

Woof woof.

 

Party Season

christmas, Fashion

I love parties. Love ’em.

Yesterday I went to my work’s Christmas party. When I was at university Christmas ball/party/formal invitations came in thick and fast from various societies and organisations, but since graduating, the well has all but run dry. So yesterday’s was my only proper Christmas party of the season.

So I needed to make the most of it.

Aside from all the food and drink and poor to average dancing, Christmas parties give us an opportunity to get our gladrags on.

Party season is an excuse to get all glitzed up. Materials, textures and colours that we normally wouldn’t go for are suddenly on the table. Tuxedos, evening dresses, silk, sequins, velvet, glitter. Anything’s allowed.

I got this deep purple/burgundy blazer from H&M. Obviously it’s a bit of a statement piece so I’ve tried to keep the rest of the outfit as simple as possible.

After being teased by a friend for my collection of pre-tied bow ties, I recently bought a self-tie one and thought I’d try it out.

It’s harder than it looks.

You can probably tell from the absolute monstrosity around my neck that that was merely my third (semi) successful attempt at tying a bow tie. Ever. So I feel no guilt for inflicting it upon you.

I got these skinny formal trousers from Topman and in classic Edi style I’ve rolled up the hems to show off my socks. The trousers are quite skinny (maybe even a little too skinny if we’re honest) so cuffing the hem makes my legs look a little wider and a little less like drainpipes. A little.

I’ve gone for these tan brogues because they spice things up a little downstairs. By which, of course, I mean that they liven up the otherwise plain bottom half of my body.

Why? What did you think I meant?

To match my bow tie I’ve got a black pocket square (the handkerchief you put in the breast pocket of your suit). Usually a pocket square is a great way to bring a little pop of colour or pattern to your outfit but that’s not necessary with a striking blazer like this so the plain black accessories bring things back down to earth a little.

I also had a scarf that I wore with it but I forgot to wear it in the pictures. Just imagine a really lovely patterned silk scarf. For men.

So there you have it. That’s my party outfit for this year. If you wish to see any more you’ll just have to invite me to your parties.

Your call.

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Fashion

So I managed to leave all my coats at my mother’s house over summer, which in hindsight, no longer seems like a great idea seeing that it’s now December and that winter has no chill. Or rather, has too much chill.

Anyway, I went home last week to pick up some warmer clothes, and also to see my family and stuff. Revelling in my newfound warmth, I thought I’d put an outfit together.

I’ve gone for a rather simple, understated look, which is fine because I have nothing to prove to you people. That said, I’ve tried spice it up a little with some interesting patterns and textures. You’re welcome.

This cream cableknit jumper has a bit of a preppy look to it, which is something I’m not always able to pull off, so I quite like this one. I got it from Gap last Christmas and when I wear it, people always ask me if I’m just off to play some cricket. The answer is always no.

The coat is from Primark, which I got in the Christmas sales last year. I really smashed it last Christmas, to be honest.

I’ve gone for some dark jeans, once again, keeping it simple. And finally I chucked on these old sneakers which I really like but are absolutely falling to pieces, not unlike my life.