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My Style Commandments

Mr Richard James

In the first of a new series, the British designer weighs in on the key steps to becoming a thoroughly modern gentleman

As a founding member of the “new bespoke movement”, Mr Richard James brought colour, pattern and a modern youthful outlook to Savile Row when he set up shop there in 1992.

Today, Mr James is an inspiration to a new generation of tailors while remaining at the very top of his profession. As someone who helped drag a traditional club kicking and screaming into the modern era, it feels appropriate to ask Mr James to kick off our new series of style commandments and tell us what he has learnt over the past 22 years.

01. The mark of a true gentleman today is…

...making an effort. How many times have I seen a beautifully, meticulously presented woman in a restaurant with a man who looks as if he’s ready for an afternoon on the terraces?

02. A man should never…

...ape. Do your own thing and develop your own sense of style. And develop is the word; we didn’t all exit the womb with an innate sense of style. Take the time and trouble to discover what works for you. You’ll find it extremely rewarding.

03. A man should always…

...feel comfortable. It affects your bearing, your posture, the way you move and, with it, your confidence. And we all know it’s all about confidence.

04. No man should ever be seen wearing…

...the same suit two days running. Too many men don’t look after their suits well enough. Give them a break of at least 24 hours between wearing them, always use good, solid hangers and hang them overnight to breathe a little before putting them back in the wardrobe.

05. The biggest social faux pas is…

...being too aware of what is perceived to be correct and what isn’t. You won’t make many friends by gratuitously offending, but neither will you by playing it safe.

06. A true indicator of good style is…

...something that was made for you and says something about you. We always advise, but the final decisions rest with the client when we’re making a bespoke suit, which is how we ensure it reveals something of his character and is unique.

07. The most important factor when getting dressed is...

...harmony. I haven’t got much time for so-called rules (he says, mid-rule), but I do believe in harmony. A wide or large-knotted tie will jar with a smaller collar or a suit with slim lapels. I like balanced looks.

08. As a man gets older he should...

...remember that fashion can be cruel and does not always flatter the older man! Classic style – a bespoke Savile Row suit, good brogues – will always serve you well.

09. If I could impart one piece of life advice to a young man today it would be...

...believe in your instinct. Most of the time you will find it’s right. And those occasions when it isn’t can be fun and extremely rewarding.

10. If I had a mantra for being a man today it would be...

...“Make your mark.” In life as in the way you dress. Be individual and don't be afraid to personalise your look and stand out. A bit of colour and contrast in the form of a pocket square, suit lining, scarf or pair of socks will make all the difference.

Shop Richard James

  • Richard James Herringbone Wool Overcoat

  • Richard James Navy Houndstooth Wool-Flannel Suit

  • Richard James Knitted Wool Shawl-Collar Sweater

  • Richard James White Cotton-Poplin Shirt

  • Richard James Printed Cashmere and Silk-Blend Scarf

  • Richard James Embroidered Silk Tie