The race that stops a Nation

"But once a year at Flemington, A horse race stops us all, and we hold our breaths and listen, to the commentator’s call. For never has there been a race, that holds such fascination, than the race they run at Flemington, the Race that stops the nation" - Vivenne McCredie 

It's spring racing time again and really I'm hoping that this beautiful weather continues, as I've been invited to attend Derby Day thanks to AMPR and Johnnie Walker. I'm looking forward to spending the day in the amazing 'House of Walker' marquee, located inside the famed 'Bird Cage' at Flemington Racecourse. 

Traditionally, the Derby Day dress code is black and white, but I'm not really one to follow the "rules" and a flat monochrome look doesn't really appeal to me. Here are a few tips and some direction on what I'll be wearing on the day:

  A safari style brown linen jacket, I've had it made unlined so it'll be perfect in the heat.

A crisp blue shirt for the day, if it's very hot I will lean towards a linen rather than cotton.

A pale pair of pants, perhaps in stone or very light shade of grey. Fingers crossed I don't spill any thing, I'm worried that I may have just jinxed myself! 

A suede tassel loafer, hitting towards a snuff, in polo or khaki brown.

A smart pair of sunglasses and a panama hat (or maybe just the sunglasses, it's hard to keep track of your hat, especially when things get a little crazy). 

This is pretty much my inspiration for the day. It's interesting to note that I'm looking at how colours work together and play against my hair and skin tone too.

As well as looking good, I like to smell good too. The new Dunhill Black Desire is very quickly becoming my favourite fragrance for summer. The scent is powerful without being overwhelming, with a great balance of notes.

I hope to see and meet lots of readers and new faces on the day, so if you see me please come up, say hi and join me for a drink.


Top Menswear stops in Florence, Italy

I truly love Florence. I appreciate the balance of new and old, and the river that divides the local stores from your typical tourist traps. Don't get me wrong, I love all of Italy and I hope to return in the not too distant future. But for now here are some of the menswear shops I visited whilst I was there:

Otto Marchesi - I posted about it  HERE. The ready to wear store is located on Viale Spartaco Lavagnini, 26r and Via di Serragli, 7, in old Firenze for made to measure and bespoke. 

Liverano - One of the most recognised menswear boutiques in Florence. You can go in and meet Antonio who cuts 6 days a week, and, if you're lucky (and he's not too busy), Taka.
You will find the store on Via de Fossil, 43.

Sartoria Rossi - Like the Italian version of Ralph Lauren, but less preppy. Let's just say they love adding colour and pattern into the mix. The location is Via della Vigna Nuova, they also have boutiques in Rome and Milan.

Gutteridge - Perfect for the man on a budget. A great mix of colour and classics, Gutteridge is located in Naples vis Scotland, but you can also find their store on Via della Vigna Nouva and in most other Italian cities.

Boggi - Another big name in Italian ready to wear. Boggi has an average plus price point and these guys are truly everywhere in Italy. The stock is price point/quality perfect and can be found yet again on via della Vigna Nuova.

Simone Righi - This boutique is manned by Simone, formerly of "Tie your Tie". The store is full of sprezz and classic menswear. Very close to Vigna Nouva and just around the corner from Liverano at  via de Federighi, 7.

Stefano Ricci - A worldly name in tailoring and menswear, Ricci is very expensive and only for the rich and robust connoisseur of uomo sartoria. Via Faentina, 171, it's a must see even for only their ever amazing window displays.

For most of the high-end shopping and labels head down Via de Tornabuoni or head over the Fiume Arno into old Firenze for local artisans like Stefano Bemer etc.


Does being a smart dresser, make casual lesser?

“Style is the perfection of a point of view.”
- Richard Eberhart

It's the age old dress code that tends to cause a lot of confusion. What is smart, what's casual? And what on earth is smart-casual?

In my opinion it's up to the individual, what maybe dressed up and smart to someone could equally be casual or even dressed down to others. Here are the dictionary definitions of all three;

Casual - "A dress code than emphasizes the comfort and personal expression over presentation and uniformity."

Smart-Casual - "An ill-defined dress code that is generally of neat yet informal attire."

Smart or Formal - "A set of rules governing a certain combination of clothing; For example: Black Tie and Morning Dress. Usually set for formal social events, weddings, formal dinner/dance and races."

Note: Business attire is usually in-between Smart-Casual and Smart/Formal.

So where does today's outfit land? A sports jacket, shirt and jeans paired with a pair of classic suede tassel loafers - Is it casual or smart-casual? Personally I'd say that it's smart-casual, because when I think casual I think beach or resort attire, maybe a T-shirt and shorts or relaxed chino -  But I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas about what constitutes the three types of attire in the comments below.

Photos by Jo Stevens & Susan Jeffers 

Sports Jacket by Oscar Hunt Tailors
Shirt by Eredi Libero
Jeans by Denham
Sunglasses by Bailey Nelson
Loafers by Church's London


Barbour Town

To be noticed without striving to be noticed, this is what elegance is about.
                                                                                             - Luciano Barbera

As attention grabbing as a pup may be, man's best friend isn't just the latest fashion accessory and while I wouldn't wear a suit down to the dog park, I don't think a casual day off should stop us from toning down our style. 

The sign of a good quality garment is the construction and longevity. There's a sense of freedom when you wear something that can be beaten up and thrown around while still maintaining its shape. Italian tailor Luciano Barbera is a man who put that into practice with his famous quote, "Dress up your sportswear and dress down your formal wear." 

My outfit today is a mix of smart-casual with a little workwear thrown in for good measure in the form of this heritage Liddesdale Barbour jacket. Barbour is a great fit in Melbourne with its smart style and work wear foundries. This jacket isn't a heavy winter storm beater but a lighter version, great to layer in the cooler evenings and early morning chills. 

As for my companion Uschi, the French bulldog - She makes the dry cleaning bill it worth it.

Jacket by Barbour
Shirt & Pants by Oscar Hunt Tailors
Sunglasses by Bailey Nelson
Shoes by Carmina 


Denham, Denim

Denham products are the result of a development process, which balances a deep respect for work-wear history with a fearless intention to move garment designs forward. These twin ambitions are evident in every aspect of the collection from the approach to detailing to the choice of fabrics and the creation of shapes and silhouettes.

Before I set off to Europe a couple of months ago I was invited to check out Denham, a pop up space in Melbourne's new Emporium.

As I strolled up to the temporary store (Denham is now located inside Superglue), I was pleasantly surprised to see an old friend Marty running the show. He’s from the band Carpathian and I had been under the assumption that he was currently living in Japan.
It turns out that Marty has been working for a well known denim company called Big John and had become something of a denim expert – I mean, this guy knows denim like otaku know manga!

Marty took me through the history of the brand and it turns out that Jason Denham, a British guy based in Amsterdam, founded the company in 2008.

At that time Denham was pretty well known in the denim industry for mixing work-wear traditions with modern finishes, when he finally did start his own company his aim was to inject something new and different into the everyday staple.

With traditions reaching from the 60s through to the 00s, Denham is a non-stop reissuing and innovating machine. My favourite part of the current range is definitely the garments that have been “re-issued” from the Denham archives and made from recycled army fabric, from recycled French army linen mattress covers to the camo gore-tex swag shells.

The main concepts that differentiate Denham are:

  • The signature 7 point pocket, shaped like the hand of a worker
  • Drop yoke, delivering a lower rise with the feel of a traditional rise  
  • Cable connection, replacing traditional button holes with a clean finished closure
  • Tri-swing action back, doubling the range of motion at the back of the shoulders
  • Double stacked cargo pockets, double the storage of jacket pockets
  • Flip snap cuffs, allowing for a secure partial fold up of the lower sleeves

My Denham virgin Japanese ape cut denim.

My Denham cotton shirt jacket, off the peg version of the French Army linen jacket. 
(photo by Jay Lim of Plan B blog)