Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Staple - Reading on the Tube

Read All About It

Since last September, I made a dramatic change in my commuting habits. I stopped taking the bus after an horrendous 1 ½ hour ride on a 25-minute journey and switched to the much quicker Tube. Now I’m not a massive fan of the Tube; it’s always too hot, it’s stingingly expensive and more often than not, it’s FAR too full. But I have been hiding myself away in my own world when commuting, ears encased in some noise-cancelling headphones, and eyes focusing on a book. I used to read Metro, but when it dawned on me that the substance of Metro is mostly a) utter rubbish, and b) exceptionally Conservative, I decided to cultiver mon jardin, in the words of Voltaire. Since then I have read most of Paul Auster, some Ballard, and some odd things I found in the British Library (Scheerbaart) and second-hand bookshops (Cocteau’s ‘Maalesh’). But it was my Mum who got me onto Ian McEwan. I’d previously dismissed him (no idea why), and also I’m not a fan of period novels (Atonement), but on pressing a copy of ‘Saturday’ into my hand, I was hooked. The setting is all around where I went to uni, and the writing is clinically precise, but still warm and engaging. I quickly followed this up with a couple more of his; the beautiful ‘On Chesil Beach’ and the pretty disturbing ‘Cement Garden’. Now I’m back on to one of my favourites, Colette ‘The Pure and the Impure’. There’s nothing like some nineteenth century Parisian high society, debauchery and opium dens to liven up the commute. Get down to a good indie bookshop (Foyles, London Review Bookshop, Daunt, the Owl in Kentish Town, Prospero’s in Crouch End – anywhere but Tesco’s or Waterstones basically) and grab a book – guaranteed to improve any journey. Other Staples this week:
Reading Ian McEwan on the tube
Seeing The Whitest Boy Alive twice (Coalition in Brighton; Koko in Camden)
Getting out of London for a beautiful wedding
The Camden Arms
The ‘Great Gatsby’ look – Liberty print with chinos
DJing at the Fly on New Oxford Street
Being able to leave the house without a coat

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Staple - Cuffed Shorts

A Turn-up for the Books

So summer is once upon us again, however briefly, and I’ve cracked out my shorts. Once again, the intellectuels at APC have seemingly infiltrated my brain and created precisely the garment I was looking for, supplied by the buying genius at Selfridges. But I think I have eulogised enough about APC of late. This week’s Staple concerns a styling detail, which has also been pointed out recently by both The Sartorialist and Style Salvage, and is particularly important where shorts are concerned. With these shorts, and indeed my cuffed 501 cut-offs, the length of fabric on the leg is crucial. While the rolling-up of sleeves on T-shirts has been commonplace for a few years now, on trousers and shorts it is a little more directional.
On T-shirts, it makes the fit a little snugger, especially on baggier Ts, and somehow updates an old T. As for shirts, sleeve lengths have varied, but I am currently wearing my sleeves cuffed to half-way up my biceps. Again, this has the pleasing quality of modernising an old shirt - where an elbow-length could look a little office-y - as well as falling at the most aesthetically pleasing part of a man’s arm.
I have just begun to cuff (NB: cuffing is the folding or turning-up of a garment; as opposed to rolling, which is literally rolling the cloth) my jeans to a couple of inches above my shoes. This has both a pleasingly modern effect as with shirts, but also makes for a much cooler (in temperature terms) outfit. In addition, it demonstrates a personal adaptation of an item of clothing, a more daring approach to dressing. Especially important on dress-down Fridays in a no-shorts office.
As the acceptable length of casual, and indeed tailored shorts gets shorter, turn-up lengths become more important – I have been experimenting with various lengths, but I have found that I can comfortable cuff as high as 3 inches above the knee. This does need a smart(ish) pair of shorts though, and I have only paired it so far with polo shirts and cuffed shirts –with T-shirts, some of the impact is lost. Anyway, the Staple here is to be a little more daring with shorts, especially while the sun is out. Oh, and by the way, flip-flops are for Australians or the beach only. The rest of this week’s Staples:
Cuffing of shorts and trousers
Drinking cava in Regent’s Park
Gilles Peterson’s fantastically summery ‘Back in Brazil’ compilations
Pre-Festival excitement & the return of summer
Cocteau’s ‘Maalesh’ – diaries of his theatrical tour to the Middle East
Bangface Festival at Camber Sands
Soulwax’s documentary ‘Part of the Weekend Never Dies’

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Broken Stapler

I have to admit – and apologise – that the Staple has been a little lacking of late, and for that I can but apologise to my regular readers…all 3 of them. I have had various stuff going on throughout April with my Grandad (as no doubt you’ve read), and then a holiday, a festival, some premieres, seeing some brilliant DJs, being a professional DJ, meeting a bona fide rock star, a fantastic mate leaving London and related celebrations, Bank Holiday weekend, a birthday or six and also a rather sketchy Internet connection. Ultimately, my aim of one article a week has been well off-target. Rest assured that from next week, things will be back on track, and I will be Stapling like mad once again. I'll leave you, if I may, with a particularly 'Skins +10' photo of myself, and the first instance of my shorts in 2008...