We look toward the rest of the world with an eager eye to travel. When we return to our favorite destinations, we naturally hope to celebrate in style. We want to support the sensibilities, traditions and craftsmanship that make these beloved cities great. Here are some places and their specialties that make us all better dressed. We get to see the world and look our best — a win-win.
It’s good to have a tweed jacket. If it’s made of legendary Harris Tweed, then it will be indestructible for decades (which is why you find many good ones at thrift shops and on eBay). But it’s nice to have one just for you that you can break in and keep the rest of your life. Harris Tweed comes from Scotland’s Isle of Harris, where the weather is… demanding — something Minnesotans can appreciate. So why not get a jacket at Stewart Christie & Co., the wonderful tailor in Edinburgh’s New Town? You can choose from hues like moss, stone or a more vivid shade. It will help you look forward to a long and healthy life outdoors.
We often make the case for traditional tailoring. But sometimes you need performance and an old Barbour jacket isn’t going to get it done. The Japanese have mastered technical fabrics that will keep you dry while you focus on the more important things in life, like landing a large brown trout in the rain. If you’re in Tokyo, you can visit stores like Helly Hansen and the North Face that have exclusive designs you can’t get outside Japan. These will keep you on the cutting edge of technology — lightweight, waterproof and sleek — but please return to a tailored overcoat when you’re not living the sporting life.
A Dress Shirt
Charvet specializes in shirts, as you undoubtedly know. But unless you’ve visited the second floor of the brand’s Paris outpost, you haven’t had the full experience. This is a shirt-making mecca, with bolts and bolts of incredible fabrics, not to mention more shades of white than you thought possible. They will cut a pattern just for you and make whatever you need, from dress shirts to pajamas to the world’s best tuxedo shirt. It’s one of the greatest sartorial experiences you can have. Then you can walk across to the Ritz and celebrate with a martini. Sounds like a good afternoon to me.
Different men dress up differently, logically enough. I’ve always been partial to Southern Italians, who view formality less as a burden than an opportunity for expression. That’s the right approach and it shows in their ties (as well as everywhere else). The irony is that many of Naples’ great tailors revere the English. Rubinacci was originally called London House, after all. But England is cool and rainy, while Naples is hot and sunny. So the brand uses softer, lighter fabrics more suited to the climate, especially lovely silks that are an Italian specialty. Stop at the famous E. Marinella store, which has been selling ties to the great and the good for decades. The shop is usefully open at 6:30 a.m., for men who decide they need a different alternative on their way to work — a service you can appreciate even if you’re sleeping in.
The world may be getting less formal, but that doesn’t mean we have to as well. If you’re going to an important meeting or a formal event, you want to make a strong impression. And you’re not going to do that wearing sneakers, which are for boys. Real shoes, usually made in Northampton, are available widely in London. You know the names: Crockett & Jones, Edward Green, John Lobb. When you’re truly dressed, you need a brogue, a loafer, a Chelsea boot. London is the place to get them.
Designers worldwide are trying to sell you a fancy version of this classic slip-on. They add needless luxury to one of the great basic equations when you’re in sight of the sea: canvas and a rope sole. In nearly any French beach town, you can find espadrilles everywhere from flea markets to grocery stores. They should cost 10 euros or less, the way God intended. When you find some you like, buy at least three pairs. You’ll be happy you did.
You might check out at the grocery store with your phone, you might not even carry cash, but every man still needs a good wallet. The fact that we don’t technically need leather goods makes them feel more special, not less. Florence has a leather-making tradition dating back centuries, with shops and stalls all over the city. You can head to Il Bisonte in search of a very good wallet, but you’ll likely leave with a briefcase and a duffel bag.