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Photography by Mr Mark Kean | Styling by Mr Tony Cook
Words by Mr Benjamin Seidler

For almost a century, the polo shirt has been so ubiquitously desirable that it has become as synonymous with the mod culture of 1960s London as it is with tennis and polo playing. The former sport, however, should be credited with its inception, as it was tennis champion Mr René Lacoste who designed the shirt as part of his uniform. Previously long-sleeved and bulky, Mr Lacoste created a short-sleeved tennis shirt in a breathable piqué jersey cotton fabric, whose collar could be lifted up to shield one's neck from the sun. Polo and then golf players were quick to pick up the style for its streamlined practicality, and swinging London scenesters would soon follow. Here, 29-year-old actor Mr Nick Blood channels the spirit of one such Liverpudlian mod, Mr Stuart Sutcliffe, whom he is currently portraying in the play Backbeat in London's West End. Mr Sutcliffe, a.k.a "the fifth Beatle", was part of a youth movement that saw the sporty polo shirt adopted as the perfect garment to layer under classic tailoring, bringing a new-found post-war ease to the gentlemanly styles of yore. As he sits down over bangers and mash in a wood-panelled, dimly lit east London pub, Mr Blood, who first made a name for himself in Sky TV's series Trollied, speaks to MR PORTER about his current style and his future ambitions.

What has been your experience of the style of the 1960s, when Backbeat takes place?
If you look at photos of that era, they really cared about the way they looked and took care of their clothes. If you're surrounded by that every night, it's impossible not to get influenced by it.
Do you think your style is evolving as you approach 30?
I've accumulated more clothes over the years as I have more money than I used to. I'm still being eclectic and trying out different things and colours that I wouldn't have gone for. I'm also wearing more shoes and boots rather than just trainers.

From left: Mr Blood stars as Mr Sutcliffe and Mr Andrew Knott as Mr John Lennon in the West End play Backbeat

What do you consider to be stylish today?
I live in east London now, and there's a look there. You see men dressed in a pseudo-rock'n'roll look or a bookish geek-chic look, and those "alternative uniforms" are boring. I prefer to try a bit of everything and not get too stuck in one style.
What five items form the foundations of your wardrobe?
A bomber jacket (I love satin ones), trainers, white T-shirts, carrot-shape trousers and a great pair of good quality socks. I also like accessories - hats, scarves and well-crafted silver jewellery. I used to wear a ring but it looked a bit aggressive as my hands are so big.
What draws you to acting?
I started when I was seven in my local youth club. From that moment on, I couldn't understand why anyone would want to do anything else apart from acting - it's fun and you hang out with your mates telling stories. As you get older, you realise that what you want isn't necessarily what everyone else wants. In any creative work, whether it's fashion or art or journalism, you're putting your creative personal stamp on something and putting it out there for people to judge. You have to be brave and trust your instincts, which can be nerve-racking because if someone doesn't like it, then they don't like you. That's the challenging bit.
Do you feel a lot of pressure to keep in good physical shape as an actor?
Yes, I do. If I put on a stone, I might not get cast in the roles I now perform. But I think you should generally be conscious of your health and the shape you're in. I always wanted to eat healthily and exercise, as I want to be able to enjoy my grandkids when I'm older. That said, if I wasn't an actor, I'd probably drink more than I do and not work out as often. When you have to get your top off every night, it makes you think you might not always have pizza for dinner. Pressure to keep in shape isn't a bad thing, as it keeps you healthy, as long as you don't get anorexic.

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