Thursday, 8 July 2010

If I Were A Naked Ape...

If I were a naked ape (in a sense, a youngster, starting out), what would I buy first, at the top of the shop? Well, I suppose that I was a naked ape once and this is what I did. I decided on Davies & Son for a suit; just because I liked the goods on display in the window. I decided that they would do for me. The actual introduction there, I have described in History of Men's Fashion. But the first suit from them was a charcoal grey 13 ounze worsted merino wool (I think that it was a Smith's cloth). Single-breasted, three button coat, with turned-back cuffs; single-breasted vest (waistcoat), last button cut not to do up, and two pairs of trousers (with turn-ups). For the bespoke shoes I went to Poulsen Skone, at New & Lingwood, and ordered a pair of plain black calf toe-cap oxfords and, for the shirts, I went and ordered six plain white linen shirts from Budd. This was not a bad start. Then I ordered a navy blue herringbone marino wool worsted suit (configured as the first); more shirts, this time, including some in light blue and another pair of shoes from Poulsen Skone. Ties, socks and so on, I already had (mainly from Sulka sales). My hats came from Lock's and my umbrellas from James Smith & Son (until I moved on to the silk canopies of Brigg's, with rosewood handles and silver lapbands, ferruled in horn). After this, I gradually built up, as occasion required - morning dress (including a splendid reconditioned 1903 silk topper from Lock's); chamois gloves from Lord's (of late lamented memory); midnight blue evening dress coat and full fig from Davies & Son and Budd's (for the shirt, tie and vest), and then on for more lounge suits - moving, first into single-breasted suits with double-breasted vests and on to double-breasted city suits with single-breasted vests and, within a few years, I had acquired a wardrobe in which there was something for every conceivable occasion within my world. Then I decided to try Connock & Lockie for a blue serge reefer jacket, to which I brought a pair of Hackett linen trousers and a pair of bespoke white buckskin plain oxfords from Mr Lobb; together with a panama hat, from Herbert Johnson (which still does duty). For evening shoes, I had a pair of kid pumps from Poulsen Skone and a pair of Tricker's readymade plain oxford patent leather shoes for the dinner jacket (which I got from Davies & Son). I even went so far as to bespeak a pair of black calf nubuck-galoshed button shoes from Mr Lobb for formal morning wear and to all of this I added various other things, over time, including a black and white hound's-tooth suit. In this way, and gradually, this naked ape evolved - and got dressed.

I suppose that, at the time, it all came to a pretty penny but it would be much more now and, even though little of it would fit me today, I wish that I had taken better care of it all. The recent photograph, above, shows me in a cashmere and wool overcoat, with astrakhan collar, from Davies & Son (label dated 1999). This is the second of the type that I have had. This one will have to see me out. Given that the temperature here is frequently around 30' Celsius, I think that it probably will...

I'll certainly always remember how well it did me that night in St James's Square.


  1. Now that's a wardrobe. One I could only imagine owning, alas, given my shallower pockets and lack of a "real" job. I like that your choices were all made with an eye to the classics. Things that will never date. That is truly investment dressing.