Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Staple - Christmas Cheer

Christmas Comes But Once A Year

So last weekend, after a fantastic Saturday night out at Last Days of Decadence, I decided to cycle into town to get my brother's birthday present; he'd asked for a lovely blue v-neck jumper, and I had an idea that Selfridges would be a good start. After looking at the Uniqlo cashmere (soft, but not that good quality, and terrible cut), and French Connection (OK, but no better than Topman), I found him one with bliss simple detailing, no massive logos (just a small tag to the waist) and in a lovely cobalt azure in Paul Smith - it's a joint birthday/Xmas present. I bought it, and the nice man wrapped it in the bag above; instantly, I felt the Xmas cheer. I cycled along the back roads of Mayfair towards Liberty with the bag high over my back, wishing glad tidings to many and feeling rather jolly. Then, as I came into Liberty, what should come on the tannoy but 'Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire', the old-school, Bing Crosby version. I melted. It was so Christmassy that I almost cried. I wandered around in a state of total bliss, getting a birthday card and some Aveda shampoo, and then being very seriously tempted by the Dries, APC and Margiela in the menswear section. Luckily, I wasn't too tempted, but on the way back, I stopped off at Habitat and bought some lovely sequinned Xmas decorations, and wrapping paper! It may not even be December yet, but the Christmas spirit is here. I'm determined to get everything ASAP; not that there's much to get, but I want to have it sorted while I'm still in a jolly mood. This time of year can induce simultaneous rapture and bile in me, so best to strike while the chestnuts are hot.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Staple - COS Grey Cardigan

Cardigans Of Suspicious-perfection

It's been awhile, but I'm back to the blog. And with a double whammy, it's back with a bang. Amongst other things, I've been thinking what constitutes a Staple; it's always been very much about personal recommendations on places to go, things to see, clothes to buy, but from a clothes point of view (which has always been this blog's main focus) a wardrobe Staple is something a little more simple. For men, we're talking a suit (or 2), white shirts, smart dark trousers, smart black shoes, a good pair of selvedge denim, classic white (and black) tshirts, a quality bag and white Converse Chuck Taylors. I'd add a cashmere jumper, a Mackintosh, a Harrington and some killer ties to that, but anything extra is a matter of taste or necessity.
Until recently, if you were after perfect, classic versions of any of these, it entailed trips to practically all strata of retailers; however, the opening of Cos has created a place where all these Staples can be found - affordably - under one roof. When you go in, it can be difficult to get excited about rails of colour-coordinated knits and tees, seemingly fairly plain clothes with the odd splash of colour, but the little details and unusual but never showy cuts are what sets them apart as an excellent purveyor - and the first in my series of recommendations - of Staple Shops. I dropped in a week ago, after hearing through Twitter about a 20% off evening. I'd had my eye on a grey three-button wool jacket with narrow lapels and patch pockets, in a boxy but sleek cut, which seemed like the perfect Autumnal transition piece for some weeks, and decided that 20% off was a bargain too good to miss. However, on trying it on for the eighth time, I realised, rather unchacteristically, that I didn't actually NEED a jacket (damn you, credit crunch) and reluctantly left it on the hanger.
What I did need was a simple, grey, thin-knit cardigan (despite already owning 2 other grey cardis). As is so often the case, the simple the request, the more difficult the search. Even Uniqlo didn't seem to have the right combo of material/buttons and cut, and Reiss was outlandishly expensive. Cos, on the other hand, provided. The cardigan I picked up is 100% wool, slim-fitting and understated, but the unusual asymmetric detail on the hem marks it out as something a little different. As I explained to Mat from Buckets & Spades, Cos seems to have that Acne-esque Swedish simplicity down to a T, but at half the price. As a result, I've worn this cardigan more or less constantly since the purchase, proving inescapably its Staple-worthiness. And judging by the crowd at the 20% off evening, I'm not the only man with a vague interest in clothes who's discovered this. Anyway, a mini-selection of Staples that have been rocking my world since the last post:
Cos knitwear
DreamSequins postcard swap
Bestival & In the Woods festival
Johan Agebjörn's mix for FACT magazine
Countryside walking in Surrey
My gorgeous new red MBK racing bike
Lewis Crofts' 'The Pornographer of Vienna'

Stapler's London #3


Thai food in pubs; not exactly revolutionary is it? It seemed like the most exotic gastronomy when the concept first appeared a few years ago. Now, it seems that most pubs will serve you up simple, slightly greasy set menus of noodles and some form of meat. The Churchill Arms, however, is different. For a start, the pub and restaurant are separate entities in the same building. The pub being packed to the ceiling with Churchill- and WWII-related memorabilia, and serving a lovely selection of ales; the restaurant at the back is full of plantlife and tropical fauna. This separation, and the dedicated, attentive staff starts things off well. Having to wait for an hour for a table is a good indication of the popularity of this place; it's always packed. And when the food arrives, it's worth the wait - succulent prawns with a massive plate of noodles and crisp veg; extra-spicy meat dishes and prawn crackers from heaven, the Churchill's one place where simple food is kept simple, but still tastes delicious. And for a flat charge of £6.50 per dish, it's a steal at twice the price. A couple of weeks ago, during another visit to this very pub, an interesting question was posed: "Churchill or Icco?" Once I realised that the Churchill had attained that status of being as much of a London essential as Icco's, I knew it was time to make it one of my Staples.

Friday, 21 August 2009

The Staple - Sunglasses

In the Shades

It's been a good few weeks since I last blogged; I've been pretty busy, but also hampered by a lack of internet access, and diverted by Twitter. Anyway, #shoesday rolls on, and I realised just a few days ago that I've never posted about that Summer Staple, sunglasses. A few years ago, the idea of wearing sunglasses wasn't so much for style, rather for practicality. But as the unstoppable rise in accessories continued, it was only a matter of time before Aviators became a trend (swiftly followed by another all-American classic, the now utterly ubiquitous Ray-Ban Wayfarer). I bought these silver Dior aviator-style frames in the Leeds Harvey Nichols sale, it must have been at least 4 years ago. I wore them for awhile over my glasses which freaked some people out a little, but eventually, I took the plunge and got them with some proper prescription lenses. This isn't a possibility with all sunglasses models; frames have to be strong enough to support a proper lens, and also actually allow the optician to fit the new lenses (making single mould plastic-framed ones an impossibility). And I've been wearing them ever since. The best thing was that I've never seen anyone else in them; until a few weeks ago, when I stumbled across a picture of none other than Mr. Karl Lagerfeld rocking them. Aside from that, they're pretty handy, especially when cycling to work as they keep general road stuff out of my eyes. I'm not sure how I would cope in summer now if I didn't have these, and that is the true definition of a Staple. Other Staples this (and the last 2 weeks):
A daytrip to Whitstable; oysters, charity shops, icecream and fish and chips
The new Whitney track, Million Dollar Bill
Field Day (despite the rain)
Spending a disporportionate amount of time in Icco's on Charlotte Street
Cycling along the Regent's Canal
Topman purple canvas shoes
Perrier water

Monday, 27 July 2009

The Staple - Duffle Bag

Squid Vicious

I'm not really a bag person; APC aside, I lust over Mulberry, Prada and Hermes as much as the next blogger, but I just can't bring myself to pay that much for a bag. So it was lucky when I was on holiday and spotted this gem, as it was only 10 Euros. It's a simple raw canvas duffle bag; a style I've not really seen much, but somehow seems quite appropriate for summer. With an opening at the top rather than along the side, you can fit more stuff in, and the canvas is more waterproff than it might look. Also, the strap is quite short, so it sits really high on my back, which is great when cycling and doesn't drape in the way of the light. Finally, the ridiculous octopus print is pretty unusual; it reminds me of all the seafood I was eating when I was away and I've nicknamed him Squid Vicious, merely because I thought it was quite an amusing pun...Anyway, awful jokes aside, I'm really loving carrying something a little different from the norm that also has a bit of practicality. Especially as it was so dirt cheap that I don't worry when I put it down, get it dirty or leave it on the floor of a pub - totally washable. It's that weird blend of slightly ridiculous yet oddly practical which makes a Staple, and this bag is definietly going to be glued to my back for the next few weeks...Other Staples:
Canvas octopus-print duffle bag
Dalston Superstore on a Sunday Night
Discovering that my Macbook has (brilliant) internet radio
The Bottle Apostle in Victoria Park with the expert knowledge of one Mr. S. Holian
Imperial College Union
Correctly-pumped bicycle tyres
Friends escaping serious injury on the roads

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Staple - Holiday Time

It Would Be So Nice

It's been 2 years since I went on a holiday. I mean, a proper holiday with beaches, suncream, and swimming in the sea. A holiday where you come back refreshed, chilled and brown. Not feeling broken like after a festival, or buzzing from the excitement of a city break and weighed down with extravagant purchases. Last time I went on a proper holiday the best thing about it was its simplicity; the biggest decision of the day was whether to have fresh pineapple or mango for lunch. It's not often that you can say that about your day when you live in Britain, let alone in central London. When my parents invited me on a trip to a little Greek island, I was a little reluctant at first - it's hardly rock and roll to holiday with your Mum and Dad - but then I realised that was precisely what I needed; time away from everything and with nothing specific to do for a week or so in the sun. The necessity of taking a proper holiday is undeniable, and I can't believe I'd left it this long since my last one! But when you only have 20 days of paid holiday a year, It seems incredibly greedy to use a third of it just doing nothing. Not so. We reverted to a simple routine of getting up late, going straight to one of the 2 beaches on the island, swimming and lazing in the sun, returning for a siesta, then heading back to the beach for an afternoon, often until 7pm. Then we'd head home again, and go out for dinner. Where we'd eat the most luscious, fresh and delicious seafood I've tasted in a long while. The freshly-caught squid stuffed with vegetables and feta was so good that I had it three times in the space of a week; I mean, when are you going to get that in London? And then we repeated the same routine every day. It sounds dull, but it's the ultimate luxury - having the time to do absolutely nothing. I've come back feeling much more chilled out (well, almost; the return journey was LONG) and recharged. I've said it before, but it;s so important to get out of an urban environment as often as you can, to reconnect with nature and switch yourself off. I'm sounding a bit Mother Earth, but I'm serious. I've always been of the opinion that relaxation time and sleep are just as important to your sanity as work, and this holiday has proved it. Next summer I'l be off to a beach again somewhere, and I urge you to do the same. Relaxation is the ultimate Staple, and the only was to do that is on holiday. Other Holiday Staples:
The beautiful island of Halki with my family
An iPod full of electronica
Stuffed squid from Remezzo
Mythos lager
A woven straw hat from New Look (with some Liberty fabric wrapped around the base)
Prescription sunglasses
Havanaias flipflops

Monday, 29 June 2009

The Staple - DIY Denim Shorts

A Short Story

I realised recently that despite owning several pairs of shorts, I more or less only wear my blue denim cutoffs. With that in mind, and an epic cycle from Holloway to Greenwich planned, I decided to make myself a new pair. I popped into New Look near work on my lunch break, and grabbed a pair of ten-pound grey jeans. While in front of T4 on Saturday morning, I decided to get to work so I could wear them that day. And document the process, so that my lovely readers can make their own pairs (and thus save £20 on some from Topman). It took me 10 minutes, and all I needed was a pair of scissors.

First, take a cheap pair of jeans:

Next, cut them off just below the knee (for best results cut both legs):

Then fold the raw edge upwards:

Tuck the raw edge into the next fold to create a neat, narrow cuff; fold as high as you like, but with each fold, the width of the leg becomes tighter on the thigh. If necessary, lop another inch off the hem and re-fold:

Et voila! A bargainous pair of practical denim shorts, for the price of a tenner, some scissors and 15 minutes in front of the telly:

Give it a try, it's easy, cheap and VERY much worth it come the summer. I'm off on my holidays next week, and I'll be changing into these on the plane, for a cool arrival in the Med. And they work pretty well for urban-wear too...Other Staples this week:
Homemade denim cutoffs
The Crown Tavern in Farringdon
Glastonbury coverage on the BBC
Lazing around on Blackheath
A lovely, unhurried dinner on St. Christopher's Place, at Paradiso
My fabulous new interweb-phone, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
Looking forward to having an actual holiday!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Staple - Gucci Lace-Ups

Shoesday Celebrations

I had other things lined up to talk about this week, but my new shoes wouldn't be ignored. We were given House of Fraser vouchers for winning a work competition waaaay back in April. While I was determined to buy something practical (luggage was the idea), I wandered aimlessly into their branch in the City to have a quick look for some sale cases. I did find a gorgeous Ted Baker navy leather holdall, but couldn't bring myself to buy something that was neither practically-sized or checkable. It is gorgeous though, but more of a glorified manbag than practical luggage. I had a quick look at the shoes (luckily the City branch stocks some luxury brands) and my eyes, and indeed feet, rested upon these beauties from Gucci. Utterly gorgeous tan leather, soft and wearable, and best of all, 50% off (from £350 - £175). I've talked a lot about sales recently, but there really are some brilliant bargains to be had if you can find the cash; classics like these will last for years and never really go 'out of style' - you could imagine anyone from Clark Gable to David Beckham wearing such simple, pretty shoes. I tried them on immediately on Friday evening, but again dismissed them for not being practical. I have no idea what was wrong with me. I got home and realised I'd made a terrible mistake, looked up the phone number and got the lovely people to reserve them for me on Monday. And what a start to the week they were. As gorgeous as I remembered, and moulded from one piece of leather with a seam at the heel, (hence being called 'wholecut'). With the rather generous voucher, I bought them for just over £100; cheaper tan a good pair from Jones, and kept them on my desk all day. Despite being told repeatedly that this is blasphemy, they're too pretty to keep in the box. My very first post was about the importance of good, gorgeous shoes, and I feel like I'm living up to that. I'm not going to wear these every day, but they'll be one of those things that whenever you wear them, you know people are going to compliment you on them. Part of the reason why this Tuesday I began a Twitter meme, #shoesday; for posting your shoes and seeing what other people are wearing - join the fun here! Now to find an event (and outfit) worthy of the new shoes...Other Staples this week:
Tan Gucci Maracay Wholecuts in the sale
Almond Magnums eaten in the sun
Jack Penate's new album 'Everything is New' (via Spotify)
Karaoke at Lucky Voice in Soho for Hannah's hen night
Not having to take an extra layer when leaving the house
A hearty asparagus and herb risotto
Perrier sparkling water

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Staple - Glass Candy

Disco 2009

Last Thursday was a gig I'd been looking forward to for ages; the label Italians Do It Better taking over Koko, with Lindstrom, Glass Candy and Desire. It's a label I've been listening to pretty much constantly for the last few months, and one of those songs that I DJd back in the Club Rees days which was almost always followed up with an enquiry from a curious punter. The genre Italodisco has its roots in the clubs of late 1970s and 1980s southern Europe; as its name suggests, it incorporates some of the disco motifs of synthesisers, but mixes them into a spacey, trippy and altogether more chilled-out mood. That's not to say it's not without some absolutely corking tunes however. It emerged as music entirely made electronically was in its infancy; and the clubbing scene as we know know was it just taking off. Its recent revival hasn't involved much of a change of sound, but since the interest in electro has risen through the indie scene, a similar indie mindset of ephemeral and unusual approaches has been sought. Mike Simonetti's record label Italians Do It Better has been one of the spearheads of this movement. Along with established Swedish DJ and Producer Lindstrom, his bands have brought this sounds back. Seeing them in the theatrical environment of Koko, whose sparse but bass-heavy sound system finally sounded it it element was an absolute dream. I'd been on the verge of ordering a massive package of CDs from his Viva Italians store, and had even arranged for a US address for them to be sent to thus avoiding $40 of international shipping, but once I realised he'd be playing here, I put that on hold and decided to hit the merch stand here. Luckily, the lovely Megan Louise from Desire was on the stand, and even signed my CD. I also picked up this tshirt. In all my years of festivals and gigs, I'd never yet felt compelled to buy a band tshirt, so for me this was a real exception. And the music of Desire, Glass Candy and Lindstrom was so on the button, that I stayed far too late on a school night, and didn't even mind Koko's extortionate beer prices as much as I would normally have. It was an unmissable Staple, and I'll definitely be on the lookout for more of the same. Other Staples this week:
A night of gorgeous Italodisco at Koko
Monochrome Gingham
Lunching by the river
'The Way We Wore: A Life in Threads' by Robert Elms
Desire's album, II
The Jerusalem Tavern in Farringdon
Bourbon biscuits

Friday, 12 June 2009


Thanks for all the lovely comments & tweets about the new-look Staple; it's all down to my fantastic friend Janine Stromberg. As well as being a rather talented graphic designer and style Goddess in her own right, Janine's encyclopaedic knowledge of music continues to throws up little drops of aural delight. Anyway, he regularly updated tumblr, Lil' Bumps is a constant source of wonderment...Kudos and 3 cheers for Janine!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Staple - Fred Perry Harrington

Confessions of a Sale Addict

Hi, I'm Seb and I'm addicted to Sales. There's something very satisfying about getting clothes on sale; perhaps I'm just tight, but the days of paying full-price for pretty much anything seem to be a long time ago (unless it was a tenner in the first place). I particularly love the sales at Liberty and they way they're introduced with thick mailed-out invites and a preview for cardholders as well as a further £5 voucher. As ever, I swished straight down to the hallowed Tudor emporium and hit the menswear floor to see what could be had. I'd been looking idly at this Raf simons for Fred Perry jacket on oki-ni and it's one of those things that you know will go with 95% of your day-to-day wardrobe. I wear a lot of blue, and I think this shade (some call it Celia Blue; some call it International Klein Blue) is particularly flattering to my skin. It shows off my cycling-induced tan, and is just the right side of electric to be wearable at work. I'd got so far as to say this is pretty much my perfect jacket; so much so that when I got it home and couldn;t take it off, my flatmate didn;t even know if was new as it looked like it was already mine! Sale-wise, it was 50% off, and with a £5 voucher brought it to just over £100. A lot for a cotton jacket, but when it's this good, then I'd rather not buy anything else this month! Other Staples this week:
Raf Simons x Fred Perry blue harrington jacket
Writing for the Fashionisto
Raiding Bloomberg's free food canteen
Sailing past traffic on my bike during the tube strike (even fun in the rain)
The Southwark Tavern's pub quiz
Cadbury's Freddo bars
The Glass Candy gig tonight at Koko

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The Staple - New CDs

Music To My Ears

A wander around the shops last week didn't yield anything exciting clothing finds, so I absentmindedly wandered into HMV. It's been awhile since I bought some CDs; I've been downloading stuff and borrowed discs recently; but it reminded me of the importance of 'concrete' music purchases. While a CD might not take on the patina of age like a vinyl record, it's still a physical product with inlay notes, artwork and an actual disc. Now that we've all digitised our music collections, it's easy to forget humble compact disc. And while iPods are undoubtedly easier and more convenient than CDs when you're on the move, some of my most treasured possessions are records and CDs from my Dad. I am very passionate about my music; regular readers will know about my summers of many festivals, but I've also been lucky enough to attend loads of gigs, DJ regularly and invest serious time and money into music and a brilliant stereo. I also think it's pretty important to pay for your music; if you don't pay for it, it's not going to be there - artists need money to survive; you wouldn't steal a shirt from your favourite boutique (though you might borrow a shirt from a mate from time to time), so why should this be different with music? Plus, if you apply fashion's 'cost per wear' analysis to a CD, then they're bloody brilliant value for money too! Anyway, whoever's doing the buying for HMV's dance section is doing a fantastic job; the selection there is better than some indie stores, and pleasingly without the aching-trendiness of certain shops as well. Any of these albums would be a brilliant addition to any musical collection (especially the Blondie remixes disc from 1995 which I picked up in a junk shop for £2!); download if you must, but make the point of going to a record store at some point this week and having a browse; it's well worth the time! Other Staples this week:
A big pile of new CDs
Selfridges Pantone 109C mugs
Growing a beard (to hide the stitches)
Writing for Brandish
Old Jamaica Fiery Ginger Beer
A nautical bandanna around the neck

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Staple - Colette

- I adore Colette
- The writer or the boutique?)

L'écrivain ou la boutique? Les Deux!

So I took a photo of this tshirt last week; originally as it's one of my favourites and is a pretty good summing up of my feelings for Colette (the author and the shop). But the thing gained a rather more significance as it ended the day covered with blood from me managing to whack a hole in my chin and get 4 stitches. I'm not going to go into details (they're on twitter if you're really THAT interested in my stupidity), but this tshirt - now freshly-laundered and haemoglobin-free - has become even more of a Staple. I bought it in Liberty a good while ago, and it's a Special Edition from 2K by Gingham for Colette's 10th birthday. It's one of my favourite stores in Paris, always with fresh ideas and unusual collaborations; it was the first place I ever found a copy of Fantastic Man, and where one of the lovely (and gorgeous) sales assistants put me on to the genius of Italodisco. Shop aside, Colette is also one of my favourite authors, and as we slide into summer afternoons of reading in the park/on the beach, I urge you to go to your nearest charity shop (or indie bookstore) and find a copy of any of her work. She wrote sexy, beautiful prose about the French urban bourgeouisie dealing with crises only the bourgeouis would encounter. It's so sharply-observed that it's still massively funny today (and relevant; it's oddly surprising how much the East London trendscene resembles Parision salons at the turn of the century) and Colette's obsession with fashion is something any reader of fashion blogs would appreciate. Such was her prominence in French society, she was given a state funeral when she died in 1954. There's so much to go at and it's such fun to read that her writing's guaranteed to keep you amused all Summer. An absolute Staple. Other Staples this week:
Colette (in all forms)
Spending the weekend in Regent's Park - Siam & Ellie are picnic essentials
Plain white oversized tshirts
Blagging your way into a house party
Opening Ceremony IKBlue Shoes
BBQ'd fresh prawns and halloumi
The nobel Mr Ben Mortimer for his Friday night assistance

Friday, 22 May 2009

The Staple - ATP

Minehead Music Mayhem

As summer begins, so does Festival Season. As for the past few years, my holidays are going to be mostly taken up with music-based events across the country; Bestival, Field Day, Secret Garden Party, and doubtless a few more here and there. Last weekend was my first residential one of the summer (Camden Crawl/Turning Point don't count as they're down the road from me); All Tomorrow's Parties. It's one of those festivals with a line-up of bands that 99% of the population wouldn't necessarily know (and I certainly didn't), but also peppered with better-known acts like CSS, Foals and Bon Iver. This particular ATP (there are several throughout the year) was curated by the Breeders, giving it a more mature and more guitar-based slant than I would perhaps have liked, but was still great fun. Having Butlins in Minehead, Somerset as a backdrop certainly helps; it's refreshing to do something other than get leathered once the sun comes up - I screamed like a little girl on the 'Black Hole' water slide - and also to be able to sleep in a proper bed once the day/night of partying is through. And while we saw some pretty fab bands that we wouldn't normally have encountered (Holy Fuck were amazing and seeing Tricky live is mesmerising), the party vibe was continuous throughout the weekend, especially as we had converted one of the rooms in our 'chalet' (more bedsit than alpine ski lodge, but it did have a warmth, shower and electricity) into a disco room, complete with makeshift fridge, laptop/speakers and 'sofa'. The crowd were mostly quite static, but I guess that's to be expected from such a muso-y festival, and we still had a good old dance to CSS and Foals when the tunes hit. Definitely one to go to if you get the chance; the vibe's more relaxed & mature on account of actually staying in a building, but being inside was a definite advantage given the weather, and there's still plenty of people up for a party; we all appreciated the honest, unpretentious fun of a Butlins. Festivals are definite summer Staples, and given the amusement we got out of this ATP, I think we could even be back for the Winter one. For now though, roll on the rest of the summer's fun...Other Staples this week:
ATP curated by the Breeders at Butlins, Minehead
Enterprise car hire's drop-off service (and in-car iPod connectivity)
DJing at a chalet with a laptop/iPod
M&S Chocolate mini-bites
Post-festival saviours: Waitrose smoked-salmon pâté/Kiehl's facemask
Having a brilliant boss for the last 2 years; Adam, you'll be sorely missed!
Delays' second album 'You See Colours' (more iPod-based rediscovery)

Thursday, 14 May 2009


After a couple of insightful wardrobe posts over at StyleSalvage and Menswear, and having a quiet week in preparation for ATP meant that I had time to get through what turned out to be 12 week worths of ironing. It had reached the point where I had run out of work shirts, and as I was planning on having a clearout of my wardrobe, so it seemed like a good time to re-organise. Now I'm fully colour co-ordinated, and everything that's left is something that I've worn recently, am going to wear, or is far too good to give away. I've been through old tshirts (turns out I had a bag of 15 in the back of the wardrobe I'd forgotten about), jeans and next is the jumpers. It's lovely to have a good old spring clean, and nice to rediscover some of the older stuff that I've not worn (in some cases) in years. This is step one, next will be a proper wardrobe that'd not made of white melamine. For now, the colour-coding is enough...

The Staple - Red Nylon Windcheater

Rebel With a Cause

At some point soon, I will stop banging on to anyone I meet about how great cycling around is. I promise. Just let me have this last moment of bicycle-advocacy (not a guarantee). Apart from saving 100 quid a month on a travelcard (more to the tshirt fund), and getting free cardio exercise, it's really energised me all week, made me more awake even on 6.30am starts and pushed me to finally attack that pile of ironing (see next post). It's also made me rediscover the joy of the nylon windcheater. I've been through several of these in the last few years, including a lovely grey one which earned calls from my mates down the pub of 'freelondonlite!', and another so voluminous that i ended up belting it in. This red one, however, was a brilliant purchase - even if I do say so myself. Half-price last spring from Liberty, it's from American sportswear brand PF Flyers, who are better known for their shoes (and have some pretty hot hi-top reissues on their website). It's a classic shape and colour which recalls the iconic James Dean's in Rebel Without a Cause. While marginally more expensive than American Apparel's offerings, it has the advantage of having a perforated lining which gives it more breathability and makes it the perfect cycling jacket. It also has a clever folding system whereby you can stuff the whole jacket into one of the pockets, which makes it great to just throw into my bag in case of rain. And even if it's been packed away for a few days, the wrinkles fall out easily. Basically, it's one of those jackets that you can just chuck on and will look good, but also has a practicality element which for a cyclist is essential, as you always have to be aware of what the weather's doing. And as the weather looks like it's going to be so changeable this summer, something with a bit of waterproofing is going to be a summer Staple. Other Staples this week:
A showerproof red windcheater
Colette's 'Ripening Seed'
Wandering around Marylebone on a Sunday
The Beigel Bakery on Brick Lane; salmon & cream cheese
Discovering new music via blogs/twitter (esp. Plastic Cowboys/MolaSuperPoco/88days)
Full Circle menswear (once it's been reduced in the sale)
Channel 4's surprisingly emotional Lost Children week

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Staple - Mini-break With Friends

We're All Going On A...

I've blogged before about getting out of town, but this weekend was so exceptionally good, that it deserves an honourary mention. Now that my parents have moved out of my old hometown (Ilkley, in the unlikely event that you didn't already know), I can't even have a big Xmas Eve piss-up with my mates, and we've always talked about having a weekend together, so this year seemed like the perfect time to get together for the now Annual May Bank Holiday Get-Together. We hired a murder-mystery appropriate mansion just near Whitby for the weekend and spent our time chatting, watching DVDs, paddling (or swimming if you're MAD) in the sea, playing boardgames and drinking Jeeves (aka Pimms). It was bliss. Lovely to catch up with all my fabulous home-friends, and for all of us to leave the real world behind for a stress-free, lazy, junkfoody weekend of indulgence. Getting away from it all is such an essential; although I've always been one to set aside time-out, actual, proper holidays are such a Staple. Something to look forward to, enjoy and return from feeling refreshed. Especially when you're cut off from the phone/internet, and paddling in the sea. It's the first of a few mini-holidays I'm taking this summer (decided that 8 festivals is a little much) and I cannot wait for more...Other Staples this week:
A relaxing Mini-break in Yorkshire
Having the whole of First Class to myself on the train (same price in advance)
Cycling to work
The Final ClubRees@the Fly (but there will be more!)
A big parcel from ASOS
Friendly Fires gig at The Forum
Ultra-large jars of Nutella

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Staple - Sunday Shop

Happy Shopper

Whenever it all gets a bit much, there’s nothing that will give me a temporary buzz like having a look around the shops, and picking up something I probably didn’t need, but quite fancied the look of. Last Sunday, after receiving some bad news, I was perilously close to moping about in my kitchen, so decided to get on my bike and meander into town. Following my favourite route (through Soho to Liberty, Conduit Street to Bstore, then on to Selfridges via South Molton St) by bike was a novelty, but I didn’t let the bike stop me actually buying anything. I’d had my Liberty biannual loyalty voucher through in the post, and promptly spent it on making another Acne tshirt that little but cheaper. Purchase made, I decided to head to the new Marc by Marc Jacobs store on South Audley Street in Mayfair. Having never ventured that far into the heart of old money before, I had no idea where it was, but a few wrong turns away from Berkeley Square and I was there. And what a discovery – the acid-bright tshirts are the same price as American Apparel’s finest (aka a tenner), with a little rodent logo on the front. Graphic tshirts were 25 quid, and there were all manner of accessories from a few pounds upwards; seems like Marc was listening to my post of Luxury during a Recession. Definitely a way to momentary joy. It looks like they’ve got the full MxMJ range, as well as books, CDs and DVDs. I bought a purple tshirt and it was lovingly packed in a stiff paper bag; I’ll definitely be going back for birthday presents and the like – and will continue my exploration of Mayfair as well. Apparently Mount Street is amazing. I ambled up to Selfridges to check out the Uniqlo concession, and promptly bought one of the simple white photographic tshirts from their UT collection. Wuith purchases completed, and hanging fetchingly off the handlebars, I headed off to Regent’s Park to play some Frisbee and have a drink, my Sunday much improved, my wallet only very slightly lighter, but my wardrobe much-enhanced. What a lovely Sunday. Other Staples this week:
Inexpensive but lovely retail pick-me-ups
Gok’s Fashion Fix (he is amazing)
Ultimate Frisbee in the park
The film 'Let The Right One In'
Hot buttered crumpets
Kylie Minogue's 'Wow' (a good start to any day)
Camden Crawl this weekend

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Staple - Racing Bike

I Want to Ride my Bicycle

Since the beginning of this blog, I've talked about cycling. In Paris, the fashion, the details and courier culture have been a bit of a theme with me, and it's only natural that I've been cycling quite a bit myself since last year. I borrowed my brilliant mate Ross' spare mountain bike for getting around town. And it really taught me how lovely it it to cycle around. Free exercise, free travel and free from other people getting in the way (mostly). But still, I got serious bike envy: Ross has had some gorgeous racing bikes, both old and new; I've seen beautiful Dutch-style bikes, admired the pared-back fixie simplicity and loved some of the vintage racing bikes I've seen around town. I knew that back at my parents house we had an old Peugeot which would be perfect for whizzing around town, and I was finally able to bring it down last weekend, after spending a day sanding, polishing, oiling and buffing it. And doesn't it look great? It's originally a racing bike, but it's been fitted with chrome mudguards and a rear luggage rack; it's also got gears rather than being fixed or single-speed, which makes the (surprisingly numerous) small hills much more manageable. The tyres are wider road tyres rather than the slimmer racing ones, which provide more grip and absorb the many potholes in the roads better. I'm going to change the saddle and handlebars (any ideas on colours?), and get a basket to fit to the back so I can just chuck my bag into it, rather than lug it about on my back. I freely admit that this is more of a runaround than a style-bike; hopefully, once I get myself into the routine, I'll be cycling to work and avoiding buying an Oyster travelcard at all. But I'm not going to take it too seriously. For now, my bike's taking me on shopping trips to Liberty (the handlebars hold a surprising number of bags!), errands around town, the supermarket and the park. Maybe next week I'll get myself down to work. For now, I'm just loving the ability to get on my bike and get somewhere fast, free and a little out of breath. Other Staples this week:
Cycling around town
Having a bit of a DIY Moment; Cleaning windows, building a greenhouse etc
A refreshing pint of cider on a warm day
Lounge Bohemia's brilliant cocktails
Record Store Day, and Graham Coxon's new prog-esque direction
Climbing Crinkle Crags in the Lake District on a gorgeous day
Leftover Easter chocolate from a long weekend at home

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Staple - Summer Bag

Bagging a Bargain

I think it's fair to say that my APC bag of a few years ago has worn well. But it's in need of a bit of mending at the shoulderstrap ends now, and as I've carried it every day (more or less) for the last 2 years could maybe do with a dryclean. Also, it's not the summeriest of bags. So having looked around at several more lightweight ones, I more or less settled on another one from APC, in practically the same design. but, I ummed and ahhed over it (EUR150 seems like so much more now the exchange rate is fucked), so I had a look at more crunch de crédit-friendly sites. Topman threw this into the mix, and after a quick in-and-out to Oxford Circus, it was mine, for the much more friendly sum of £18. And it's good. Much complimented, it's bigger than the APC, and what it lacks in stiffness of material, it makes up for in size, and usefully, waterproof-ish interior. I even managed to use it as a weekend bag for a quick trip out of town last weekend. All was perfect, in fact, until I was given massive bag envy when chatting to a mate online who'd just bought a gorgeous new Mulberry bag. I checked the site, and immediately fell for both this and this, the second of which I believe is the one on the ad campaign. So whilst glad I'd saved £130, I now want to spend more than double that on a satchel. It's like when you're out and you see someone wearing just slightly better versions of what you've got on - slightly better-shaped shoes, a subtly better-cut shirt, a better-patterned scarf. I simultaneously love and hate the 'Version 2.0' man; Inspiring and something to aspire to, but alas will probably break the bank. One day I shall have Mulberry on top of my cake, but today, Topman will have to do. Other Staples of the week:
A new summer bag from Topman
Lovely short weekend spent in Cheltenham; Thanks Olly!
Finally getting a haircut
Glass Candy playing Koko in June
The Counting House pub on Cornhill (but ONLY during the day)
Mon Mome winning the Grand National (= me winning the office sweepstake)
Summer footwear contemplation

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Staple - Acne Jeans

This Could be Denim for Everyone

Back on track, hopefully. March was an oddly fruitful month for purchases, but best of all, and very much needed, was a new pair of jeans. After posting about these way back in January (I think), I managed to bag a new pair of Acne denims, from the label which is fast becoming one of my Staples, Moc Raw in the delicious indigo denim that you see above. I've worn them pretty incessantly since receiving them a couple of weeks ago, and they are fantastic. Quite stiff, but exceptionally comfortable, and so well-made that they could well be making an appearance at the British Museum (or the Swedish Museum even) in a few thousand years. I bought a pair a little too large for me, to account for shrinkage when, eventually they get washed. Looking at the washing instructions, this may not be for a few months, or ever if I follow the advice over at Oki-Ni. They're also brilliantly long, so I've double turned-them up and the looseness is a nice (dare I say a little more grown-up) antidote to skinny jeans (which I couldn't imagine wearing now),a nd worn with a tailored velvet jacket, or checked harrington, they look pretty damn good. Aside from avoiding 'white clothed people and furniture', these jeans are totally perfect, and a worthwhile replacement to the fake Diesels from Thailand which are now well and truly 'worn-in'. Best of all, they were a bargainous £38.50 from the brilliant Daniel Jenkins, whose online shop is filled with delights from Acne, Peter Jensen, Raf Simons, YMC and other such lovely labels; I urge you to have a look. Other Staples this week:
Acne straight-legged jeans; a more relaxed silhouette
The Field Live@Berghain mix
Friday Night late at the Natural History Museum
Getting back on the bicycle
Thomas Pynchon's novel 'V'
Getting a Bestival ticket; Space-themed this year...
The Social on Little Portland Street

Stapler's Thoughts: Luxury During a Recession

Not quite sure what happened to posting in March - I got a bit obsessed with following Twitter and doing the crossword - but I'd been meaning to reply to StyleSalvage Steve's 'Luxury during a Recession' post, so here it is:
It dawned on me at the Burberry sample sale just how much luxury goods have ingrained themselves into the British consciousness. As I waited in line with my mate to pay for our jumpers and shirts (after queuing for half-an-hour to get in, rummaging through huge baskets of cashmere and flipping trenchcoat after trenchcoat, amid an atmosphere of silent, frantic competitivity), a comparison dawned on me; throngs of people in Communist Russia, lining up for hours to get a loaf of bread. It seems an odd association to have made, given the extreme Capitalist activity in which we were engaging, but it seems that for so many people, what was once a luxury (an expensive handbag, say) has now become an essential. A decade of aspirational, glossy media has demolished the traditional idea of luxury; where once a designer jumper might have been a rare privilege of the wealthy, now everyone’s got a bit of something posh in their wardrobes.
As the recession starts to bite, we see that this appetite is not sated by a lack of disposable income; conversely, it is amplified. We treat ourselves for ‘being good this week’, because it’s reduced by 80%, because it’s Friday, because we’re worth it. From a retail point of view, the massive sample sales and emptiness of stores show that 10 years of building brand loyalty with fairly rampant consumerism mean that most fashion-oriented customers already have full wardrobes, and are ‘shopping in their own closets’ rather than toting stiff paper bags or taking online deliveries. Cult stores and high-end labels will survive the squeeze (even though the Burberry sale’s two enormous floors was fairly alarming, the label itself has not tried to expand too far beyond its remit), as they offer something a little different to the sort of consumer who will go without in order to keep their wardrobes alive and full of quality, unusually-cut items; but the more vulnerable brands could fall.
Take the automotive industry as a model, where most manufacturers are under an umbrella group, less profitable branches are being sold off, effectively nationalised, or closed altogether. Even the bread-and-butter brands are having to modernise and look at a new business model. This has affected the car industry as, after housing, it’s the next most expensive thing you’ll buy. And after that? Consumer goods; food and clothes. Survival is possible for some fashion brands, but this will come one of two ways: democratisation or (more likely) reduction. Smaller brands within the LVMH or Gucci stables like Fendi, Givenchy or Jil Sander will (and in some cases have already) reduce their shows, focus more on high-profit items like accessories, and close stores; reductions ensuring the long-term survival (aka profitability) of the label. Democratisation could come from a focus on more affordable diffusion lines (look at D&G, whose prices are comparable to Reiss), or as is at the moment, massive sample and end-of-season sales, or clearance outlets like Bicester village. Can you recall the last designer item you bought full-price? The bargain-hunter approach appeals to fashion one-upmanship; invite-only sample sales and cardholder events reinforce the label’s exclusivity, and are already widespread and popular – Liberty’s 15%-off events are jam-packed.
The key to future survival is flexibility. Fashion, especially for men, is going through a period of renewed interest. LFW’s Menswear day, an explosion of menswear-specific media (both printed and online) and a resurgence in men taking care and pride in their appearance have all contributed to what amounts to a highly-profitable market as men talking about cut and fit of clothing becomes mainstream. Menswear (outside Hoxton Square) is also much less trend-led, and is primarily based on subtle differences in staple pieces like shirts and jeans. This is why shops like Bstore and Oki-Ni have done so well - catering for a man who appreciates a well-cut or unusual shirt, but isn’t showy about it. It’s the same reason that the Pineal Eye closed so quickly. Rick Owens has just opened a new store. As long as the cult brands continue to innovate whilst focusing on what made them great, they will survive.
While it is clear that something’s got to give at some stage, no-one knows what, or where it will be. No-one wants to have to adapt to a changing economic climate; neither consumerism nor the labels that feed it, but the ones that will survive successfully will be those that innovate within the fields that they already have. Look at Uniqlo, whose template of bright knitwear and simple jeans are universally popular, and with three stores on Ocxord Street alone (4 if you count the newly-opened Selfridges menswear concession). While not a luxury brand, their clothes are luxury products at an affordable price; colourful cashmere and merino are their staples.
As with the economy, the only hope is that the effects won’t be too personal or long-lasting. But fashion’s creativity will certainly be tested in the coming months, on both the design and business sides; if you still have a hankering for luxury during this recession, then get out and get some – it’s never been a better investment.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Stapler's Choice #3

Third in an occasional series of choice links:

My favourite childhood read is going to be a film.

Commenting on the comments on the BBC; Yes, some people are this stupid. (>Monty)

Google Streetviewer's notable places. (>Daf)

The Streets take to the information superhighway; his twitter is worth checking out too.

Paris, mon amour - this is flaneuring in the best possible way. (>Kempt)

And finally, a gorgeous pair of shoes which actually appeared in a dream last night. (GQ Magazine>Thingbox)

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The Staple - Tring

A Country Mile...or 8

I've blogged before about my love of getting out of London; for I am a country boy at heart (and in years gone by). So last weekend I was rather pleased that the fantastic Alvin had arranged a daytrip to everyone's favourite commuter town in the Buckinghamshire countryisde, Tring. Now he's organised a few before, and I've always meant to attend, but an 8am rendezvous at Euston on a Saturday morning is a tough target to hit. However, this time, I made it and I'm SO glad I did. While the environs of Tring may not offer the panoramic vistas I've seen in the Cairngorms, Alps or Rockies, it's a million miles away from the concrete cityscape of London. I even dressed up in my country gent outfit of black wellies, cream jeans and green military coat. It was utterly glorious. We did an 8-mile loop, with the Ivinghoe Beacon forming the centrepiece. A brief climb up to the top and the view was, by all accounts, pretty spectacular. As the weather was bright, you could see for MILES. And the wander was enhanced by some brilliant company, and a fantastically invigorating wind that blew the cobwebs away - just what you need on a Saturday morning. This was rounded off with a visit to the aptly-named Valiant Trooper pub in Almondbury, where I polished off a three-course pub lunch (deep-fried brie; fish pie; brownie), three pints of Honeydew beer and an Amaretto. I've not been that satisfied in a long time. It's so good for the soul to get some miles under the feet and a pretty vista in front of your eyes; I've been taken on walks since I was a little kid, and it's something that is easy to dismiss on a mad weekend in town, but it's so accessible (the fast train gets there in 25 minutes) and totally free. Delicious. Hopefully we'll be able to organise a few more in the coming months (I'll post details) and maybe even a trip to the Lake District...Other Staples this week:
A lovely walk in Tring on a Saturday
Gmail's smileys (only discovered these today!)
New issue of Fantastic Man
The Camden Tup
Aqualung's album 'Still Life' (rediscovery of old CDs continues)
Warburton's Hot Cross Bun Loaf
JG Ballard's novel, 'Kingdom Come'

Monday, 2 March 2009

The Staple - Silk Scarf

Why Have Cotton...?

Seeing Steve's post over on StyleSalvage has got me thinking. I'm going to come back to it later this week (hopefully), as the last few times I've been shopping, there has been a guilt element associated. Even my All Saints shop, where everything I got was 70% off seemed a little unnecessary at the time. But it provided my most recent Staple; a beautiful 100% silk scarf. It's enormous, silver, and practically the size of a single bedsheet, with a screen-printed billowing Union Jack, in muted silvery tones. I love the way the entire scarf waves in even the lightest breeze, and that despite being so thin, it's fabulously warm. It's also so large that I have already used it as a sheet for a quick powernap at home; when we were in Berlin, it made a handy protective headscarf against the 9am harshness, and more than once we have run down the street waving it like a huge pennant. Items like this - accessories, and scarves particularly (a well-documented obsession for me!) - add a whole new layer to an existing outfit, and for the princely sum of £17.50, they're well worth it. It reminds me of a Tamara de Lempicka painting with a woman driving a Bentley or some sort of roaring 30s classic, with a huge swath of silk flowing from her (I think it's also how the woman died; wish I could remember the specific picture); but also, the scarf creates new shapes with my velvet blazer, recalling a recent Carolyn Massey jacket. Following all the coverage of MAN, that's definitely an association I'd like to make. Now, for a cape...The rest of this week's Staples:
Huge silver silk scarf from All Saints
Matthew Herbert's albums
Fantastic parties this weekend courtesy of Rhea and Wayne
The comfort of PJ bottoms
Pancakes with maple-flavoured Golden Syrup
Being properly paid for DJing at ClubRees
Spending too much time on Twitter (id: sebulous)

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Stapler's London #2


To continue where I left off (some weeks ago), another of my regular haunts in central London where's Charlotte Street Staple, Icco. Like Sam Smith's', I've been coming here since I was a student, and in the last 6 and a half years, the prices have gone up by 50p. Where else in London can you get an entire pizza for £3.50? I think the best thing about Icco (Charlotte Street, and also in Pimlico - though I only discovered this a month or so ago) is that it's no frills simplicity. There's no faffing about with rocket, snooty waiters or complicated menus. You go in, order what you want and pay, find a seat and wait for the nice lady to call your name. Recently, they've installed a speaker system which means you're more likely to hear. It's also one of the places in London with the most comprehensive range of Snapple flavours. Et voila, you're sat, with mates (probably a little drunk), a knife and fork and some delicious, simple, thin crust pizza. What more could you want? Icco (Italian Coffee COmpany) is one of those places that exemplify what's great about London; it can be simple, filling, inexpensive and genuinely full of pleasant people. A rarity, and even more so in its location, surrounded by the posh restaurant alley of Charlotte Street, and a stonesthrow from gourmet mecca Soho. Of all the eateries, this one is the most authentic, simple
y because it does a great thing well.

Monday, 23 February 2009

The Staple - Diary

Calendar Girls (and Boys)

I can't believe I've not blogged directly about this before, but there's one thing that I think everyone should carry with them everywhere, and that's a paper diary. I've carried one for years now, and this year is no exception. I bought this Korean-made diary as it looked smart, but still interesting and not too business-y (and as for the previous few years, they'd sold out of mini Tate Modern ones). Adding in birthdays, future gigs and festivals now means that I'm more likely to do something about them when the time comes. I'm actually unable to do anything, or remember events without writing them in here. Perhaps I've been with a basic phone and no internet for too long, but even ready access to Facebook is no substitute for a diary - Any organised person should have a place to organise themselves, which is accessible and easily updateable on the go. For me, the idea of keeping a diary also goes hand-in-hand with writing, and particularly handwriting. While a BlackBerry might combine everything digitally, I'd rather have an old-school notebook and black rollerball; it's just the way I'm wired. Anyway, if you've still ot got an '09 diary, it's not too late, most stationery shops will have a few left over; you'll be reaping the rewards in no time. On another note, I am aware it's London fashion week this week, and have been dressing up accordingly; I'm certainly feling in more of a baggy jeans mode than I was a year ago, but it seems to be all about the shoes for me; I've been rediscovering metallics; Gold Converse and Silver Bstore. But I think Fashion156, The Fashionisto and StyleSalvage are doing a rather fantastic job of coverage, and as I've got not tickets, I'll wait until the MAN show pictures appear. Other Staples for this week:
A hardback, paper diary
Whitest Boy Alive's new album, Rules
Expanding the ClubRees empire to Islington's Orwell Bar
Following the Fashion Week coverage
Dalston Jazz Bar's riotous retro soul night
Plotting a summer of festivals, hopefully with a holiday
Uploading more CDs to my iPod (this is taking much longer than expected)

Friday, 13 February 2009

Stapler's Choice #2

Second in an occasional series of choice links:

Orbicule looks incredibly useful.

One of my favourite DJs, Gui Boratto, is playing in London on Sunday.

I couldn't ignore my -more literal- namesake, The Stapler Blog. (>ACL)

Jeff Wayne's 1978 prog classic War of the Worlds is back - and I'm going!

Pushing the gender and fashion boundaries one Birkin at a time (NY Times>Peter)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Stapler's Voyages - Berlin

This time last precisely a week ago, I was in Berlin, napping, preparing to go out for the third night in a row. There's something about that city, where nothing seems to close, every other person is an artist and there's always room to move that gives you a sense of possibility. The wide open boulevards, huge construction projects and pop-up shops and galleries are testament to this. Wandering around, the atmosphere is similar to my favourite city, Paris; relaxed, chilled and Just Right. Obviously a weekend of crazy clubbing in another city with a big group of brilliant mates is going to be pretty special, but splicing in drinks at the Fernsehturm, the amazing AquaDom, a bit of aimless wandering and a very quick trip to the shops (another Acne tshirt; I must seek help) really made it extra-good for me. On returning to London, the crowds of people crammed on the Tube had me down; Every time I come back from a European city, it always reminds me just how high the quality of life is in Continental Europe. Yes, this is through the rose-tinted haze of brilliant weekend, but simple things like having enough - and relatively inexpensive - taxis, really makes me think that it's time to move. I've been in London for 6 and a half years now, it's my city, but I think the dream of a Parisian balcony, a Berlin studio, or a Milanese apartment needs to be explored. If I don't do it soon, then am I going to do it at all? Anyway, enough whimsy; Berlin is amazing, go now while the flights are cheap, and the beer cheaper...

The Staple - WeSC Headphones

Where's Your Head At?

If you're a true music fan, you get proper equipment to listen with; decks, a good-quality pair of speakers and high-end cabling are Staples for getting an extra level from CDs and records, and this was the first thing I invested a significant amount of cash in; even before a suit. For my birthday (which now seems quite a while ago), my parents bought me these lovely, bright blue WeSC headphones from HMV. They are now my constant companion, offering much superior sound quality and generating previously unknown depths to my music. Coupled with my shiny Xmas iPod and newly-acquired home internet, this means I can finally start putting some of my (worryingly large) CD collection into mobile transit usage. Although I was initially unsure about the colour of the 'phones (my bro thought they looked a little "International Rescue"); it's definitely grown on me, and has been commented on by lots of music-y people (and Liberty shop assistants); nothing if not distinctive. Aside from better sound quality, they clamp securely & warmly over my ears, making them almost like musical earmuffs; pretty essential in this cold snap. they're neither too big nor too large, and feel like they will last much longer than most of my previous pairs (life of the last pair: 2and-a-half weeks). They work pretty well for DJing too. Finally, they stop sound leakage out to the rest of the tube carriage, and are less likely to damage your hearing as a result. Musical harmony fused with style and practicality - if only more of my purchases were this useful...
Anyway, on to this week's Staples:
Blue WeSC headphones
Waitrose Cheese & Poppy Seed Twists
Being able to use the internet at home AT LAST
Simian Mobile Disco at Koko; Fab new single Synthesise
Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds Musical (1978)
Slowly becoming addicted to Twitter (id: sebulous)
Soulwax Nite Versions still has the ability to make me smile whatever

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Blogged Down

I've been a bit blogged down of late; there's just so much good stuff going on across there (to the right ->) that I'm not getting time to write. Added to not having internet at home, and a rather hectic week last week, I've not posted any Staples yet. This week I've been chilling in preparation for a long weekend away to Berlin; full details on the return. God I need a holiday! I might even get a post or two in from there. In the meantime please enjoy this photo of me in my new All Saints clobber, from Saturday (brandishing my DJ book - a Touch of Frost branded notebook) and here are this week's Staples:
All Saints end-of-sale-sale (yes, I am still shopping!)
Finally being paid
Lena jazz bar on Great Eastern Street
Seeing Grace Jones (of course)
Looking forward to Berlin
Saturdays=Youth by M83
The new issue of 10+ Men

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Staple - Grace Jones Live

I couldn't leave for the day without recounting last night's epic gig at the Roundhouse. I bought the tickets the minute they came out after Ms. Jone's phenomenal surprise performance at Bestival. My love for her is well-documented, but seeing her last night without the festival 'haze' was an absolute highlight, and I'd go so far as to say it's in my top 3 Best Gigs of All Time. She is a complete Goddess; Who else could look that good at the age of 62? Who else would perform an entire song whilst hoola-hooping? Who else would change into a different, ever more outrageous costume (and custome-made Philip Treacy hat) between EACH song? Who else would put on a mirror-ball encrusted hat and have a laser shine down so that their head became like a star in the process of going supernova? Who else would have their own indoor ticker-tape parade for 'Pull Up to My Bumper'? No-one. In the surprisingly intimate Camden venue, Grace rocked the house, had everyone dancing from the first bars of 'Nightclubbing' to the last beats of 'Hurricane'. She's there for the next two nights, so if you can, go. Absolute joy, and a Staple par excellence.

Staple London #1: Sam Smith's

(with Thanks to The Crown)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


So it's been over 6 years since I moved to London, and it has to be said that very little has remained constant. I no longer wear flared brown cords, share a bathroom with 13 other people, drink a bottle of cheap white wine before going out, watch Neighbours twice a day, or go the Trash/Durrr on a Monday (well, since last Monday; the End's closed). I think that, friends aside, the constants of living in London have all either metamorphosed into more mature habits, or disappeared altogether. But there are two institutions which I still visit regularly; Icco's and Sam Smith's pubs.
Sam Smith's is a Tadcaster-based brewery which owns some 32 pubs in London, mostly in Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia and Soho. They serve only Sam Smith's branded drinks, play no music and despite being linked by their brewery, each pub has it's own selling point. The Angel in the Fields on Marylebone High Street has amazing stained glass walls; The Princess Louise on High Holborn has individual panelled booths; The Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street was a literary haunt (and is also ultra-handy for the aforementioned Icco's); The Champion on Wells Street has stained glass images of champions and The Crown is nicely situated on New Oxford Street. I could go on, but there are 32 across town and apparently more outside of London. I had planned to do a Sam Smith's map and pubcrawl together, but it seems that I have been beaten to it; nonetheless, this is a useful site detailing all the centrally-located pubs. As with Claudia Schiffer and Elnett, for me, they're the best pubs in the world, and where I am likely to be found at least once a week, out with mates and dates and friends.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Staple - Birthday Outfit

It's been a fantastic week this week, but also the busy-ness of work and outsidewise means I've barely had time to stop'n'blog. Here's a photo from my birthday demonstrating one of last week's Staples; the Liberty shirt, mixed with what would have been one of this week's; the velvet bow tie. It's always important to have a fantastic birthday outfit, and I try to dress up every year to lend the evening an extra sense of occasion. The party itself was fantastic, as evidenced by the lovely grins on my Mum's and my faces, the DJing was successful and the birthday itself was a riot of shopping and fabulous food. Big love and thanks to everyone who made it so special. More Stapling next week, including Sam Smiths pubs, my new obsession with hats, a bstore bargain and what I wore to the Valkyrie premiere...

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Staple - Sale Bargains

Low Cos(t)

After work yesterday, I made a quick trip to the shops to find something to wear for my birthday party(s). This meant Liberty, where I wasn't seriously expecting to find anything in the sale, as it was just the dregs remaining, but as it turned out, the insect-printed Liberty shirts were reduced from a (slightly overprice IMO) £110 to £27 each. Cheaper than Topman and much more interesting. There's still a few left, and despite a larg-ish collar size, they're very slimfit, making them perfect for smart occasions. I'm gonna wear them with my black velvet bow tie. Photos after the weekend, I guess. Anyway, a secondary focus of the expedition was to find some more scoopneck tshirts like last week's Acne. As much as I covet these, they really are quite expensive, and the rest of the colours are a little dull. However, next door at Cos, they had the pair pictured, which matched the cut of the Acne one pretty closely, and had the added advantage of being reduced to £4.40 each. £4.40?! Yes, I kid you not. It seems the end of sale bargains still exist, and there are still a few things left in a normal size (ie not XXXL). It's worth a browse if you get a minute, especially in somewhere like Cos, where the clothes are plain, simple, well-made and well-cut. And not expensive to begin with. At 70% off everything, I even contemplated a tuxedo jacket reduced from £150 to £45, but then realised I have a couple of smart black jackets already. Ah well. I definitely recommend a root around before the weekend, you might be surprised at what's left. The rest of this week's Staples, then:
End-of-sale bargains; and Cos' scooped tshirts especially
Ecco's in Pimlico
Elaste compilations CDs (I'm feeling very Italodisco at the mo)
Size Nine's brilliant gig at the Water Rats last weekend
Marjane Satrapi's Graphic Novel 'Persepolis'
The Southwark Tavern in London Bridge
Getting excited about Festivals; The Breeders' ATP!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Stapler's Choice

A few choice links from this week:

The moustache is still alive. (NY Times>Kempt)

If only I'd not bought a new laptop case from Paperchase last week. (Vogue>Geeksugar>SavoirvivreNY)

RD Franks has relocated. Though the Reiss people had no idea where to. Thanks the lord for London Unlike.

Alfred Shaheen has died. His shirts live on.

These are cool; I guess the parents wouldn't be too thrilled though...And of course, I don't have a licence.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Tonal Eclipse

Recently, I've worn quite a lot of the colour purple. I was in Liberty (of course) doing some Xmas shopping and had a sneaky look at the sale; just to see if there was anything for my brother or Dad...or something. Anyway, the only thing worth buying/affordable was the Acne collection - simple, well-cut and quality clothes at a reasonable price. Untangling myself from my 15 layers of wristwarmers, scarves, and headphones, I loved the softness of this cotton t-shirt and the cut of the neckline, much wider than all my other tshirts. Yes, all. I stopped buying v-neck tshirts years ago as they just seem wrong for some reason; with this, the scoop neck is less showy, more comfortable, and pretty sexy too. Oddly enough. Anyway, much has been said about the Acne label of late, and if these tshirts and the fine-gauge cardigans they have in Liberty are anything to go by (not to mention the denim; I'm rather sad about missing out on a pair of these in my size in the Daniel Jenkins sale - 33"s too big?) this label will be pretty popular over here when it's more widely stocked. I reckon Urban Outfitters would make a killing on it. In a good way. Anyway, added to this tshirt/cardigan (from Uniqlo, £20) combo I bought this gorgeous cashmere/angora mix hat in the Reiss sale at the weekend for the princely sum of £17. And it's so warm and lovely. More to come soon on my new hat obsession. It's all down to my Dad(!). The mix of purples is a little clashing, but surprisingly good when it's on. And it all feels so comfy and wintry, the tones are warm and the knitwear is cosy. It's just something I'm trying out. Anyway, on to the Staples:
Tonal dressing (in purple for winter)
Gossip Girl on DVD
George Orwell's 'Books v. Cigarettes'
Champagne truffles lasting from Xmas
HMV's dance record section (stocking the brilliant Metro Area)
Acne scoop-necked tshirts
The Kitsune Blog (see Staples d'autrefois)

UPDATE: Like everyone else, I love the Acne v. Lanvin collection. But, just like everyone else, I can't afford to buy it. Way to go guys. Can we please stop swooning over £800 shorts now...?