Want to know how to cut a dash anywhere from the French Riviera to Bognor Regis? The Chap editor Gustav Temple gives us his exclusive advice regarding men’s fashion.
Style icons such as David Niven and Ronald Coleman, usually swaddled in dashing winter wear for photographs, provide little guidance for sartorial holiday wear for chaps.
What we do know is that the winter layering process must be stripped down in balmier climes. Wearing fewer layers requires more thought, as each of those fewer layers must be the sine qua non of their function.
How to pare to the bone
You may only have space for one jacket in your luggage, so make sure it will cover all eventualities – including feeling rather warm under the collar. The temptation may be to ‘go native’ and loaf about in khaki shorts, flip-flops, and a T-shirt. This, for a chap, would be a dereliction of duty, a sop to the multitude.
If the clobber outlined below sounds like it will need several trunks to be transported, the answer is to wear the main components on the journey and fill your hand luggage with the rest of the lighter items. It is perfectly plausible to visit a hot country, including the UK with its legendary three-day heatwaves, in an ensemble that not only prevents one from slowly melting in the midday sun, but which displays gentlemanly sartorial credentials.
You never know; a chance encounter with a stray countess at the beach bar may lead to an invitation to a cocktail party, and that’s where your flip-flops would severely let you down.
A word of warning to the travelling chap, whether to foreign climes or the English Riviera: you are very likely to encounter the shoeless. While exterior temperatures will, it must be admitted, preclude the full brogue boot on the beach, there is no need to allow standards to drop as low as the flip-flop.
Even the popular Birkenstock sandal flies dangerously close to being infra dig. Why would a grown man wish to be shod like a five-year-old boy? It is worth adding that there is no known trouser that looks good with such a scandalous sandal.
“…there is no need to allow standards to drop as low as the flip-flop.”
Grenson has produced the Quincy Sandal, priced at £180, based on those available in most traditional shoe shops in southern Europe, which at least covers the toes and the heel. A more economical pair, the Angulus, is available at £116.
For a shoe that one could actually enter a restaurant wearing, saddle shoes are another light option. Rocket Originals and Collectif make them for men, priced at £99 and £95 respectively. Loafers also cut the mustard. Jones the Bootmaker makes an acceptable penny loafer for £89, and don’t forget to stick a penny into the upper for that preppy detail. But don’t go too preppy and wear them without socks. Only an aged Italian rogue can get away with this look.
Lightness of cloth is paramount when strolling about during the passeggiata hour; but so too is lightness of colour, especially if wearing a dark blazer.
Although sartorial rules dictate that one’s trousers should always be darker than one’s jacket, the Riviera look is the exception, and obeys the light chino/dark blazer diktat. For the vintage look, Darcy Clothing offer a lightweight cotton moleskin cricket trouser at £86, while those unafraid to clothe their pins in a more contemporary silhouette can head straight over to Spoke London for a pair of their cotton lightweights at £99. Walker Slater’s linen pantaloons are also worth a try, especially their Edward Trousers at £145, for which the matching jacket may also be acquired.
If (or rather, because) you are wearing a jacket or blazer, this is very likely to be removed when the sun is high in the sky, so opt for something that tells its own story, such as this navy striped linen shirt from Sirplus, priced at £95. This company also makes short-sleeved shirts, which may be necessary in the tropics, such as a yellow Tencel Cuban shirt in cotton, £95. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to wear a Hawaiian shirt; unless you have been invited to a fancy-dress party while on your hols.
This will be your most essential item, as you will need it for the journey abroad, so as many pockets as possible is a prerequisite for all the millions of forms, vaccine certificates et cetera you will need to present at the airport.
For a lightweight cotton twill jacket, Universal Works presents the most favourable option, the London jacket, £175, which boasts a total of five pockets, including one for a pocket square. It comes in colours ranging from cream to dark navy.
Walker Slater’s collaboration with The Chap resulted in the Chap Linen Suit (jacket £245, as worn by yours truly, pictured). A cream linen three-piece suit is the ideal garment in which to saunter about the summer streets of any resort in the world. The cut of the jacket gives a relaxed fit with soft shoulders, a single vent, two flap pockets and a breast pocket and three-button fastening. The lightweight satin viscose part-lining ensures further relaxation potential when temperatures begin to soar.
It is around the throat that a chap may display his dandy credentials most effectively, and the least sweltering neck adornment is of course the cravat.
The more sartorially adventurous may wish to brave the foulard, or neckerchief, for a slightly more playboy look. Geoff Stocker has turned his pocket square skills to what he has named a bandana, in 30% silk and 70% cotton, measuring 24 inches on each side. It is designed to be thrown around the throat carelessly, so that it flaps in the breeze and pretty ladies can spot one from a distance. It is appropriately called ‘The Waking Dream’ and costs £85. The Chap cravat, £35, based on the peacock pocket square, will liven up any plain shirt with its splashes of purple, aquamarine and burgundy.
A Panama is clearly the only acceptable option for sultry climes, and Pachacuti make the highest grade, peddled from a website site called www.panamas.co.uk. Prices for their ethically produced Ecuadorean Panamas range from £85 to £320, but their prices reflect a product built to survive the fierce summers and tropical downpours of equatorial regions.
“…the main purpose of wearing a Panama is to advertise that a British gentleman is in town, but if you wish to rule out every last shred of uncertainty, then wear a straw boater.”
Olney’s Panamas are more affordable, starting at £60 for a white one with a traditional black band – a tradition that began with the death of Queen Victoria and never stopped. Of course, the main purpose of wearing a Panama is to advertise to the other tourists that a British gentleman is in town, but if you wish to rule out every last shred of uncertainty, then wear a straw boater.
Probably the most important accessory to pack is one’s lunettes de soleil, for without these you will be so blinded by the sunlight that admiring glances from the local populace will go unnoticed.
Why are decent sunglasses, or spectacles for that matter, so darned expensive? Nobody knows, but the answer is not to grab a cheap pair at the airport. Kirk Originals‘ Warwick in amber tortoiseshell with dark green lenses will set you back £225, but you will never grow out of them.
The more economical option comes from Dead Men’s Spex, whose range is so vast – and helpfully categorised by decade – that you are likely to find something similar to those you covet elsewhere, at a much more affordable price. Their Classic American Atomic Age frames in black acetate frame with metal brow detailing are £60, plus £45 for non-prescription polarised lenses.
You could try strutting about in a pair of loafers or deck shoes without socks, but this will not mark you out as a man of style, and certainly not as a British gentleman. The lightest socks on the market that eschew any absurd patterns or motifs are from Dueple (dueplesocks.com), who also make rather fetching ribbed socks for winter. Their Fine Guage 220 Needle Socks, £9.90, come in a huge range of plain bold colours, as well as white or black.
Gustav Temple has been editor of The Chap Magazine – Britain’s longest-serving gentleman’s quarterly – for 20 years.