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.