As promised we are unveiling the first of our ‘Guest’ writers, people who are not employed by us but who are either fashion writers or people in the tailoring industry with the aim to help answers questions, give advice and generally create articles worth reading.
The first writer is Winston Chesterfield: Winston is a 25 year old style journalist and blogger. Despite pursuing a legal education, professional music performance and conference production, he gave in to a long held passion for elegant clothing and became a weekly columnist for Mensflair.com also with a strong following on his own blog he is a perfect addition to the writing team. Also recently featuring in Italian vogue as a modern dandy
Winston, you’re obviously a man of great style and taste, what would you say first sparked your interest in style?
Dashed decent of you to say so! It all goes back to my childhood. I was aged four, sitting quietly on the sofa with my mother watching Gigi on television, and my mother remembers how I became transfixed at moments when fabulous costumes were on display; particularly the gleaming silk top hats and white tie and tails. Since that moment, I grew and began to exhibit a rather unfashionable interest in old movies and formal clothing. I was, essentially, interested in the most theatrical of garments.
Who are your style icons and why them?
Jude Law for his effortless panache and patronage of modern English style; Prince Charles for his showmanship and utter sartorial perfection; Cary Grant for his one-step-ahead personal style that a generation copied but never bettered; Ralph Lauren for breathing life back into English heritage clothing and period styles and my father for his immaculate suits, enormous shirt collection and belief in an extremely good pair of shoes.
What are the things that you would say define your style?
I wear ties more often than most people would care to and never wear trainers. I do vary my style on occasion, but I generally remain faithful to classics; two-button jackets, slim-fitting denim and Oxford shoes. Cravats, scarves and pocket squares are common embellishments and I believe in adapting to my surroundings; you wouldn’t catch me at a rock concert wearing my college professor garb!
Do you have a particular period in the history of style that you’re drawn to, or do you enjoy modern reinterpretations of style history more?
I love the elegance of clothing from the early twentieth century; the high rounded collars of the Edwardian period and the flawless tailoring, but I also love the style of the inter-war years; the natty suits of the twenties and thirties, the boiled-front evening shirts and the reassuringly heavy fabrics. I do like contemporary reinterpretations of style history and I heartily rejoice that designers recognise and update true style.
You have such an interesting blend of interests and careers: trained lawyer, composer, writer and style aficionado…which one came first and why, and what do you consider your true vocation?
I was interested in style long before statutes and semibreves! Music was introduced to me at a very young age; piano was essential, other instruments were encouraged and my parents made sure my musical ear was broad but I was a lazy pianist in my young years and it took a little maturity to appreciate the creation of music as a fine art. I always loved fiction and, perhaps more interested in style and delivery rather than page turning twists, I became interested in modern classic writers such as Scott Fitzgerald and playwrights like Oscar Wilde. Even so, my appreciation for their methods came from my adoration of style. My legal aspirations were flimsy at first; I dreamed of the theatre of the court, not the paperwork of a solicitor and though I pursued a legal position because of my desire for oratory prowess I soon realised that my vocation, though it wouldn’t perhaps ‘do’ as a career, was composing music. It is the work I have enjoyed the most and it remains my loftiest aspiration and yet my favourite hobby; I would not part with the warm contentment it offers for all the world.
For men looking to make some style resolutions this year, what would you suggest as starting points for a wardrobe refresh?
It’s a good idea to save what you should and discard what you can from the wardrobe. Anything like a jacket that looks a little large, but has plenty of life left in it could be altered professionally for no more than £30. It depends on how much adjustment is needed. Items that you have outgrown could be sold or donated; keeping clothing unfit for wearing is impractical and decreases your wardrobe efficiency ratio. Items that have rarely been worn and are sadly unwanted should be sold. Decent prices could be fetched from the second-hand market. The key is to be ruthless and not sentimental. Removing deadweight from your drawers does not devalue the connected memories.
What are the pieces you are lusting after for your own wardrobe?
A cashmere and wool black shawl collared cardigan from Polo Ralph Lauren, a pair of slim-fitting grey flannel trousers and a heritage tweed sport coat.
You chose the unusual, but sublime, Le Dandy pour Homme on your wish list. How did you get into fragrance (I’m making a leap here, you have to be into fragrance surely to have discovered D’Orsay and then to appreciate Le Dandy), and what appeals so much about this one?
I love the fragrance for how finely balanced it is. It has wonderful top notes of tobacco and whisky and yet there is something else there; something vaguely feminine. It’s as if one is drawing breath in the early hours of the morning in a leather filled smoking room where, earlier, under the cover of darkness, an illicit and passionate meeting took place between a rake and a debutante; the faint whiff of post-prandial cognac and cigars interwoven with the spicy sweetness of the ginger and balsam. Though it’s a fragrance from the 1920s, poetically it seems to me to have a late Victorian air; indiscretion, hypocrisy and scandal.
I became interested in fragrance when I was young, taken in by the fragrances my mother wore. I noted particularly that my father wasn’t keen on scent and restricted his odour to that of bath soap. However, I began to sample perfumes more and more and became a believer in fragrance as one believes in fine wine. School friends were more than happy for a puff of Lynx before greeting the young ladies but I was not keen on ubiquity and was more interested in the liquid inside than the brand name. Early fragrances of mine were Czech & Speake’s ‘Neroli’, ‘Eau Sauvage’ by Christian Dior and Acqua di Parma’s ‘Colonia Assoluta.’
You’ve written before about your fondness for ties, what would you consider the basic line up of a good wardrobe of ties for a man.
A man could never have too many ties in my opinion, but the basic ties a man should have in his tidy and organised wardrobe are knitted silk plains in gold, royal blue, burgundy and forest green, two and three colour club stripes in various yet conservative colours; navy and reds for colder times of year and pinks and lime greens for the summer. A silver-grey woven tie is essential; with dark suits and crisp white shirts it looks remarkable, and a black knitted tie is extremely useful when one feels rather monochrome. I mentioned ‘tidy and organised’ in relation to the wardrobe as taking care of ties is paramount – the poor things will snag on broken wood or sharp metal and that just will not do. A man should also have a few polka dot ties at hand too; they are classic and rather merry.
Where are your current favourite stylish haunts, and where do you think is the most stylish city?
I am most fortunate to be able to live in Westminster, so I am able to ankle round the West End without too much trouble. I like Claridge’s bar for the service and the generously alcoholic cocktails (although the loss of the wonderful humidor has dented it’s appeal) and Duke’s Hotel bar in St James for the Olympic martinis. I have enjoyed lunches and New Year celebrations at Luciano’s on St James Street, wonderfully cosy cocktails and dinner at Clos Maggiore’s in Covent Garden, Italian opera at the Royal Opera House and shopping at Fortnum & Mason and also on the revived Regent Street.
Living in London, I am rather spoiled as I cannot think of a city that has more. It is a metropolis of glutton; everything one could possibly want is here. However, although it has stylish emporiums galore, gorgeous parks and grand architecture, it is not what I would call ‘stylish’ by definition. It is majestic and awe inspiring certainly, but I do not see a huge amount of ‘style’ on its streets. Ditto Paris and New York. Rome was stylish in parts; the older gentlemen were very well dressed. Milan was brash and garish and it had peacocks galore but it was too overt and also dirty and dilapidated. Capri, though far from a city, was a stylish location once the sun had gone down and the last day tripper disappeared onto the horizon; old and young alike were equally dapper.
Florence was also a stylish place at the summer’s end; cool evenings in linen and espadrilles, but the most stylish city I have recently been to is Gothenburg. Sweden’s second city is nevertheless a place for invention and individuality and I was thoroughly impressed with the populous.
What will your choices be in the following for this year:
1) Drink of choice
A very dry Beefeater and Noilly Prat martini with a twist of lemon.
2) Music dominating your iPod
Ray Noble and his Orchestra, Hans Zimmer soundtracks, Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos, Frank Sinatra, Puccini operas and Beethoven.
3) Top of your list for your holiday
Hotel du Cap, Cap d’Antibes
4) Must read book
The Decline and Fall of the British Empire by Piers Brendon