Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Staple - APC Coat

As Easy as A.P.C. 1,2,3

Once again, the basement of Liberty has provided a wearable, semi-affordable and eminently fabulous solution to my Spring coat search. This weekend was a little party-heavy (see EXTRA! EXTRA!), but at least the civilised confines of the menswear hall on Great Marlborough St. provided me with an escape. I met with Ben, a very good mate of mine with a similarly discerning eye for a well-cut piece of clothing – he was buying work trousers, I was aimlessly browsing. First, I picked up, tried on and in fact bought a lovely APC thick cotton canvas hooded jacket in a particularly nautical shade of cobalt blue. This was to be a replacement for my now slightly worn blue checkered jacket which I have been wearing for many years now. However, in my mild haze, I failed to notice until leaving this gorgeous double-breasted, light canvas, lined jacket, hiding on the opposite end of the APC stand. It too includes elements of nautical style (the subtle herringbone striping and blue and white palette) but is less overt, and is both smart and casual. Above all, the fit is sublime, looser than I was expecting, yet still flattering. The sleeves in particular are almost baggy, and contribute to the feeling that this is, unlike much of my wardrobe, a more mature, tailored piece. I’ve worn it with blue and faded black jeans this weekend to good effect, and despite the stripes, it seems compatible with checkered scarves. All in all, a very good purchase, once again confirming my love for this brilliant French label. Check out the rest of the collection here, and I dare you not to want at least one item…a supreme Staple.
Other Staples this week:
APC double-breasted jacket
A series of brilliant house parties over Easter
Mini Daim bars
SEOne club’s Remix Allnighter
Shameless on Channel 4
Whisky and ginger
The Dove pub in Hammersmith

Thursday, 20 March 2008

The Staple - Gold Belt

(NB: Yes, train wifi's good, but it's terribly slow. I had to upload this at home...)

Clunk Click Every Trip

So today I'm getting a train from King's Cross to Leeds to surprise my Mum for her birthday. It is a wonder of the 21st Century, not only that this sort of journey is possible and in fact exceptionally easy for 24 hours; but that the train is equipped with wireless internet. Seriously, the modern world is pretty amazing sometimes when you stop and think about it. Anyway, this technological marvel allows me to a little time to ruminate on this week's Staple; the belt. For men, this is an often overlooked area, most men wear a simple, classic brown or black belt with a gold or silver buckle respectively. I own these; they are not only practical, but also compliment the smart look - a formal or work outfit is incomplete wthout a belt to fill those loops. With casual clothes though, the choice is much more varied and interesting. Patent, pattern or a more unusual buckle perhaps? A belt is an oft-underused opportunity to add an accent colour or texture to an outfit. Further, this accent can completely alter an outfit and make it infinitely better, or worse. For awhile now, I have been playing with metallic accessories and in this (my second gold braid belt) I've found an item of clothing that brightens up a casual pair of jeans, but it subtle enough to suggest a trend-receptive outlook. Lazy fashion I suppose, but one can't walk around dressed like Eugene Hutz all day (much as I might like to). The texture of the woven leather is a pleasing breaker from cotton, and although the colour is a little obvious perhaps, but as with metallic shoes, it's rare to see another bloke wearing it. And it's both this belt and what it represents which is the Staple here; an idea of dressing for oneself (a break for individuality) as well as being a little more daring in what you wear - as I write this I'm sat amogst businessmen on the commute, wearing patent boots, maroon jeans, a silver belt, an off-white Liberty-print shirt and a salmon pink cardigan). What is there to lose? other Staples this week:
A metallic belt
Pizza from Icco's on Charlotte Street
Free wifi internet on the train
The Southwark Tavern in London Bridge
Jluian Schnabel's beautiful film 'The Diving Bell & The Butterfly'
Bank Holiday weekend
Neon Neon's album, 'Stainless Style'

Monday, 10 March 2008

The Staple - Burial's 'Untrue'

The streets are alive with the Sound of Music too...

I listen to music practically non-stop. I don't like it when there's no music in the background. From the moment I get up, either the TV or the stereo is on; the only way I can deal with the tube (at any hour) is to clamp my headphones over my ears and retreat into some appropriate tunes; at work, I always have some music playing and when I am napping I need some appropriately chilled music in the background. Every so often, I stumble across an album which shapes the next six months or so, and will not be leaving my iPod. Previous examples (in chronological order) include: Sound of Silver (LCD), Transparent Things (Fujiya & Miyagi), Writer's Block (Peter Bjorn and John) and a Bugz in the Attic LifeStyles compilation of '80s funk. Just before Xmas, I read about the incognito DJ and producer Burial, whose new album had been rated amongst the best of 2007. Normally, end-of-year lists are a little overone, but this was on, the forum of uberMusos and sonic aesthetes of the highest (and often elitest and most pretentious) order. Duly, I investigated, after having many pleasant aural discoveriesas a result of positive reviews. And the fantastic sounds within - muffled garage beats over orchestral arrangements; choral crescendoes clashing with electronic shufflings - have provided a soundtrack to the last few months of dark winter. The sonic landscape (yes, it sounds grand, but it's not until you listen to this album that you can really grasp just how visual and grand a noise it makes) on display in 'Untrue' genuinely envelops you, swirls around you, sucks you down into a thickly smoky and richly delicious place; perfect for when you're swaddled in your scarf in the rain on your way home from a club at 3am. It's the kind of album that I have played, then heard in several different places, the kind that slowly seeps into your unconscious and before you realise it, the album has become a Staple. This is what makes a great album; personal conenctions with truly fantastic music. Other Staples this week:
Burial's album 'Untrue'
A slim silver leather belt
The Queen Mary pub on the Thames
American Apparel pants
Having a working boiler
Hoegaarden with Lime
Argos' self-service machines & "the laminated catalogue of dreams"

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Staple - VIP at the Astoria


I've been lucky enough in my time in London to be invited to/gatecrash/turn up at some pretty fantastic events; Leicester Square film premieres, club openings, underground raves, the opera and even the odd press launch. Whilst always fun - and always with my mates - these events can sometimes be a little style over substance, where the prescience of the event and the crossing of the velvet rope is more exciting than the event itself. Last week's trip to the Astoria, however, was one of the best ones. As a regular gig-goer, I am used to the Asto's fair-to-middling sound quality, jostling for a good view only to have the tallest man in the venue to stand in front of you and never being able to regain this meagre place should you need the bar or toilet. While seeing Justice a few weeks ago was electric as a result of the atmosphere, when seeing Lightspeed Champion and the Young Knives I was treated, courtesy of my lovely friend Rhea, to life behind the velvet rope, on the VIP balcony. And I must say, it is the best spot in the whole place. Plenty of space to stand on the balcony which is practically directly in front of the stage. Returning from the bar was a pleasure rather than a chore, and with the music coming directly at you, sound quality becomes less of an issue. So what was already going to be an enjoyable gig was transformed into a brilliant evening, merely by a switching of place. Of course, the company of Rhea, Tom (and at the aftershow party, the Knives' lead singer, Henry Dartnell) was key to this experience, but it also proves that location is key in more than just housebuying. Scoring VIP tickets is always going to be rare, but this is one of those brilliant London experiences where there are only good memories to be had. Seeing a gig properly; a true Staple.

The Staple - Cashmere Wristwarmers

Wrists of Fury

They don't look much do they? But I've been meaning to blog properly about these little beauties for months now, as they're just about the only things that have been everywhere with me over the winter. I originally found them in the Brora catalogue - a favourite of my Mum's - way back in September, but it took me a while to actually get to the delightful shop on that centre of civility, London's Marylebone High St. As a man with oddly lengthy limbs (my friends call them the 'Long Arms of the Law'), these seemed the perfect thing for when coats, jumpers and shirts don't quite fit properly. This is virtually all of my long-sleeved items, but as I don't have the money to go bespoke, I have generally made do with rolling up my sleeves. From purchase day, I have worn them probably 90% of the times I've stepped out of the house, the other 10% being when they were in my bag. The mid-grey colour happily sits alongside any other colour (except perhaps light grey); the cashmere is soft yet durable and they are flexible enough for me to wear just around my wrists (which I'm certain I've seen at some fringe menswear show in AW07) or for me to retract my entire hands into. They also make convenient Oyster/entrycard holders. They are utterly functional: unlike gloves, I can do up my coat or use a mobile communications device when wearing these, and they can be rolled down away from my hands when they get a little too warm. I know winter's drawing to a close (I'm on the lookout for a transition coat; Topman's crimson double-breasted mac has my vote so far) but I can't recommend these wristwarmers highly enough; in fact I've been extolling their virtues to just about everyone I meet - so much so that many of my friends have invested, and my Mum now has a pair of rather fetching grape-coloured ones. Like Mum, like Son. So thanks Mum for, well, everything; but in this case for some sartorial inspiration and an absolute Staple. Other Staples this week:
Cashmere wristwarmers
The choral music of Mäntyjärvi, as performed by my friend Jen
Topman's double-breasted crimson mac
Jens Lekman's fantastic album 'Night Falles over Kortedala'
Having a weekend back in your home town
My Godfather's inaugural lecture at SOAS
Jumbo records in Leeds and their lovely staff