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16. April 2020

An American in London


Noah Werner Winslow

London. What can be said?

But really, what can be said? London is, sartorially speaking, the place to be. Nowhere else comes close. All the locations- particularly tailoring ones- have been covered to no end. We’ve all made the pilgrimage to Savile Row at some point. We know all about it- Old Burlington Street, Sackville Street, and even all the surrounding roads too. We know the arcades to walk through, being sure to pause briefly to look in the window at George Cleverley. We know Edward Sexton is actually over in Knightsbridge, thank you, and not on the Row proper. Nor is Anderson & Sheppard, for that matter.

We all know, so why subject you, dear reader, to it all over again? Anything I can say on the matter has been said already by writers far cleverer than I.

So fortunately- or depending on your perspective, unfortunately- I don’t think I’ll retread the old hunting grounds of the menswear enthusiast as I write about London. Instead let me gently lead you away from Mayfair, past the human obstacles of selfie-taking “gents” and overenthusiastic salesmen and out towards the rest of the town.

Now that we’re past that, where to go from here? You know, in contrast to the narrow warrens of central London, a surprisingly large part of the city is bucolic parkland. Of all the cities I’ve been to, London may very well be unique when it comes to green spaces. I’ll walk down what is by all notions a busy high street, turn a corner, and suddenly face dozens of acres of gently rolling park, all spread out before me. Horses and deer, too. What other city do you see that in?

So let’s walk, you and I, through my park of choice: Hampstead Heath, over in north London and a park so expansive at times it begins to feel we’ve entered the countryside. For this faux country jaunt- the real one will have to wait until that knighthood comes in and I get the estate out in Hampshire- I’ve thrown on just the clothes for the occasion:

A brown Donegal tweed jacket, 3-roll-2, as is my preference, with patch pockets and yarns so variegated it looks like a kaleidoscope up close. Paired with this is a pair of khaki cavalry twill trousers- double pleated and cuffed- and finished with brown derbys. For final touches, I’ve a white OCBD and a dark brown knit silk tie- a vintage from the 1960s, as it happens.

But perhaps the rural life isn’t your thing. Let’s walk out of the Heath and into Hampstead itself. I know a great little secondhand book shop near the Tube stop. I bought my first real book there. I didn’t understand a single metaphor in it- and honestly, the whole thing was nothing but metaphor and too dull for words- but the atmosphere was too good not to walk away with something. Besides, the simple act of slowly looking through dusty bookshelves is a pastime in itself, and, like the great golfers, I seek out only the best fairways for my sport.

And- incidentally just like the golfers, too- I’ve adopted a slightly odd uniform for play. I go for a navy double-breasted suit, 6×2, in a navy herringbone and black oxfords. Keeping it tonal, I add a light blue shirt, and a blue tie with a motif of croquet mallets (I lied about the golf earlier: I prefer croquet).

Okay, reader, you’ve been a good sport! We’ve kept away from the temptations of Mayfair, Soho, and the rest of central London all day now. You deserve your due. Let’s throw on our evening best, hop onto the Northern line, and head from Hampstead down toward Covent Garden to my favorite seafood restaurant in London.

What’re you wearing? For me, I hardly even need an excuse to put on a tuxedo. Now, I won’t repeat my Vienna wear: here, instead, I’ll go for a single breasted number. This with peak lapels- no flaps on the pocket of course- and no vents. Generous trousers, a waistcoat (black), and oxfords. I’ve never been able to get behind opera pumps, personally, but regardless of stylistic choice, a sober black tie outfit is killer, through and through.

And there we go: that’s my London, and without the need for an instance to stop at a popup on the Row, patronize an overpriced bar, or even take our photos with a Guard at Buckingham. See you next time. NWW/MM