The Three Expert Rules Of Dressing Well
Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery. Photograph by Mr Christopher Simon Sykes, courtesy of Anderson & Sheppard
Mr Audie Charles of Anderson & Sheppard shares her styling guide.
The Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery shop on Clifford Street in London’s Mayfair feels like a place where nothing bad could ever possibly happen. Where the outside world is cold and unforgiving, here, nestled in among the cashmere flannel, butter soft corduroy, and brushed cotton twill, it is as warm and cosy as the night before Christmas.
The soft and sumptuously tactile trousers, shirts, scarves and sweaters form the ready-to-wear offer from the legendary bespoke tailor of the same name; inventors of the glamorously sensual “drape cut” popularised by Mr Fred Astaire and the Duke of Windsor, and more recently, Messrs Graydon Carter and Tom Ford, as well as the late Mr AA Gill.
The quality of the haberdashery is due in no small part to the efforts of creative director Ms Audie Charles, formerly of Doug Hayward, the legendary Mount Street tailor who dressed Sir Michael Caine, Mr Terence Stamp, Sir Roger Moore, and pretty much every mover and shaker in London during the 1960s and 1970s.
So, of all the icons she’s helped to dress, who’s the most stylish? “Gosh, that’s such a big question, “ says Ms Charles. Oh go on, give it a try: “Well, Michael Caine is so very relaxed about clothes. He does the gardening in his bespoke Hayward jackets with tracksuit bottoms. And Roger Moore was chic in that very particular way, which carried over into his personal life. Very smooth, and pretty much the same character as James Bond.”
Can Ms Charles help you be as smooth as Sir Roger? No. But she does know more than most about what makes a well-dressed man. So here then are her top style tips, as gleaned from a lifetime of dressing and observing the world’s most stylish men.
Never be too perfect
“I think perfect is boring,” Ms Charles says. “There’s always room for a little bit of relaxation. Sometimes people look so stiff and buttoned up. I think that something slightly undone in general is nice. You know, when you see over-perfect gardens? The poor garden; every edge is la-la, everything is immaculate. It must be a constant battle every day with nature. Just let it be. So you long for that man to have a really-well-worn bag that he uses, that you know has been well-worn and well-loved. Or shoes that are well-worn and well taken care of, nicely polished and aged. So it’s not necessarily about the new, but taking care of what you have.”
Make sure it fits
“Learn to know your body. The best bits and the bits you want to hide. You have to find a company, a tailor or a brand where you know that the block fits you well. Go to various shoemakers to find it. Whether it’s Crockett & Jones or George Cleverley or wherever, it’s because that particular last fits you. It’s horses for courses. You just have to find your way. It’s like when you find a guy that does your hair really well. And you can go and relax , ‘Oh I’m safe in his hands.’ It’s finding those little corner stones. You need to feel comfortable with the person and trust their eye and their judgement.”
Spend more on less
“I know when you’re young you want a lot of everything, but when you get older you learn that less is more. Pay for the best-quality cloth and cut that you possibly can. You don’t need very much. A small, tiny basic capsule wardrobe of half a dozen pieces is enough. And then you can add to it. As you get older, or as you make some money, have another sports coat, add another lightweight suit. Or a couple of linen suits. It’s having that little basic wardrobe that you know makes you feel right even before you look in the mirror. What you want is to be comfortable at ease, and to not be worried. If somebody can forget about what they’re wearing, they’re not conscious, and they look so relaxed and easy in their skin.”