History of the English Gentleman
The French fashion style became unpopular after the French Revolution, making way for the rise of the English Gentleman. The favouring of the plain, practical clothes of an English squire saw greater adoption across the whole of Europe and the nascent three-piece suit was born.
But what is the English gentleman? The Englishman would say that it is an idea, a concept or a paradigm with a hint of modesty and self-mockery. It has created ripples in the history of menswear which are felt even today across regional and cultural fashions around the globe.
Translating this paradigm into clothing, one is able to perceive a touch of eccentricity in the attire. The underlying concept is quite simple actually: Do not overthink but follow your own peculiarities and by doing so you develop your own style from the concept of rich English traditions.
There are, however, certain elements which can form the foundation of your own English signature style.
1. The British Jacket
Rule No.1 is to wear a jacket that fits. Because British jackets have a waisted silhouette and are more solidly constructed than their European counterparts. The shoulder should sit comfortably on your own shoulder and the sleeve length should protrude about about ½” above your shirt cuff. It goes without saying that the jacket should not drape or pull across the chest. Also, only button the middle button when wearing a three-button jacket.
When choosing the right cloth, make sure that the weight suits the climate of your region and the conditions it will be worn in. There are also distinct clothes created by British mills, such as the timeless Shetland Tweed, which is instantly recognisable.
2. The Trouser
British trousers are known for the higher waist and neat leg. Optional side adjusters are useful to keep the silhouette clean around the waist. As the gentleman “matures” through the natural life-cycle, he will start to appreciate brace buttons. More than a style statement, bracers ensures that the waistband is kept aligned and that the shirt does not billow over the trousers.
Traditional clothes include corduroy and moleskin which are versatile. Flannel and cavalry twill are particularly suitable for an urban environment when combined with tweed.
3. The Waistcoat
A favourite of the English gent, the waistcoat created a tailored silhouette while adding a layer of warmth and colour to the mix. When wearing a waistcoat, never do up the last button, and avoid wearing a belt, as this creates an unsightly bulge around your midriff.
We recommend Doeskin as a classic British cloth with a long pedigree. A luxurious brushed fine woven wool with its soft handle and lustrous drape, it works exquisitely to complement the contours of the body.
The term ‘Doeskin’ originated from the similar appearance and feel of the fabric to the skin of a female deer. Nowadays, it is ideally made from 100% Merino wool and tightly milled with a twill weave. We prefer Burgundy for waistcoats, an understated colour which radiates elegance nonetheless.
4. The Shoes
“Oxfords, not Brogues” is the famous quote in the movie Kingsman and leads us to the important choice of fine English shoes. Oxfords are the classier shoes with plain, smooth leather and can be worn on both formal and casual occasions.
Brogues is essentially a slightly more casual Oxfords with fancy eyelet detailing. “Brogue” is a word for a stout farmer’s shoe and the word “bróg” simply means “shoe” in Gaelic. Back in the days, they were only considered appropriate to wear in the country, because the decorative perforations allowed water to drain. Nowadays, they make for a stylish and practical shoe when running through a soggy city.
5. The Accessory
It is often the small details which epitomise British style. Investing in accessories is a long-term investment and can easily outlast your suit or shirts, adding understated elegance to your attire over years.
Ties: Make sure your knot is right up to the collar of your shirt. The rule is that the top button of your shirt should not be visible. Also, when wearing a tie, do not undo the top button, because if you feel the need to do so, then the collar size is too small.
Pocket squares and scarves: Complement your tie rather than match it. Subtle hues, such as wine and navy are easy to match with most jackets.
Belts: Match the colour of your belt to your shoes. A common mistake is that the belt tail is either too long or too short. Good quality belts have 5 holes and if the size is correct, you should be able to wear the pin of the buckle through the middle hole.
Braces: Navy and bottle green are two popular colours that are versatile and timeless.
The devil is in the details and there are plenty of other small items to complete your appearance. Fancy an antique gold-watch, a brass Governor Cane, a hook umbrella or a top hat? As you recall, the goal is to incorporate the concept of English traditions to develop your own unique style. We hope this guide has armed you with the necessary knowledge to embark on your own journey as a fine English gentleman.
Your MAEZU Team