Much as it would be lovely to have an unlimited credit card and bottomless pockets (that's not a fashion thing, trust me, it's a financial limitation), I recognise that we cannot all rush out and buy an entire new wardrobe each month. However, the principle of buying one or two good suits each year, especially from a good designer or tailor round (and around the sales), will help you build up a good selection in time.
One of my Sydney favourites when it comes to look AND affordability is Brent Wilson. Again, I've bought one suit a year from him over the past six years, and they're all really different - different weights, different fabrics, different colours and very different styles. Refreshingly, at Brent Wilson you can buy a second pair of trousers when you buy a suit, meaning not just that you'll get a bit more wear out of the suit but that if you're travelling for a few days you'll have a freshly-pressed pair of trousers to keep you looking sharp (even if you're tired and cranky you can still look good!).
Brent seems to be making it into the bigtime now, dressing celebrities like PRINCE, and appearing in his own regular photoshoots (honestly, put some clothes ON sometimes, would you - you're really showing some of us up!) - but his stores and his lines are still accessible and affordable. Best of all, he’s got everything from conservative jackets and suits (best for government meetings or performance reviews) to glorious modern plays on traditional styles with great colours and patterns. In the photo I’m wearing one of Brent’s blue windowpane three piece suits – and I love it. Go have a look at his work . . .
In an earlier post, I mentioned Billy Wood, the self-styled 'Head Honcho' of Woody Roo. I first met Billy in the Bondi Markets one Sunday a year or two back, and was taken by his traditional styling with modern flair, great materials and quirky touches such as jacket linings, pocket squares and shirt-and-tie combos made from the same material (which I happen to love, despite knowing what some of my colleagues think!).
For me, it's the sustainability angle of his designs and clothing that really fascinates me. As his website states:
"WoodyRoo is proud to have every piece crafted in Sydney by Australian hearts and hands. Being 100% Australian made is a huge part of what the label is about. Premium fabrics have been sourced from around the world, including superfine Australian wool suiting sourced from the grazing pastures of New South Wales, Japanese cotton drills, linens, and Italian shirting. WoodyRoo's work is full of pride knowing that the gentleman lives… ". My friend Lisa Heinze, author of 'Sustainability with Style' looks at issues of product, provenance and proof in her book, so it's good to be able to walk the talk just a little bit.
Wearing an Australian-crafted suit to represent the Australian green building industry whilst overseas gives me great pride - and they look awesome, too. I've got suits made by Billy in light tan, dark green and navy blue, and ties in pretty much every shade under the sun. Love good suiting, love locally made products, love old styled new!
I was delighted to be photographed in the street, a year or two ago, for a new blog entitled 'Scrub the f*%k up' that showcases smart and well-dressed men and encourages guys to make more of an effort in their appearance. Since then, they've changed its name - perhaps to get past those 'NSFW' problems, language restrictions, or just to scrub itself up - and can now be seen at www.facebook.com/stfumen But they do have a point . . .
I don't hold myself up to be any paragon of style, but I do like to dress well and I do look around many of the men in Australian cities and think "Wow - we could do SO much better!". The usual uniform of badly-fitting dark suit, old greying shirt and mismatched, poorly-knotted tie sorely needs refreshing, and it's really NOT that hard. There are so many amazing designers, stores, tailors and retailers offering guys everything from quirky to quaint, sombre to splendid, and elegant to extravagant, and with so many up-and-coming designers around Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Brisbane alone there is great competition - which means prices aren't too steep.
Knowing my own limitations, I enlisted the help of my friend Howard Steeves - a man with a truly amazing eye. Former fashion stylist for Vanity Fair magazine in New York, as well as for TV, print media and designer collections here in Australia, Howard is now based in Sydney and works as a stylist and personal shopper for private clients as well as for Westfield. He showed me how to make better use of my shape (tall and lean), the better parts of my existing wardrobe (similar suits in wildly different colours), and the better examples of things in the shops that wouldn't break the bank but which would last well (Henry Bucks, Brooks Brothers and Brent Wilson). Howard can be found here, and there really is nothing better than an experienced, objective eye: www.workagency.com.au/agency
And I was delighted to read how the men in different cities have such different looks - the book 'Men in this town' was a present from my friend and writer Michael Wilton (www.teaorcopy.com). It takes a look at how the guys in London, Tokyo, Sydney, Milan and New York have their own styles, colours and looks - and it's good to recognise a few faces in there including Billy Wood (www.woodyroo.com - more on him later) and Patrick Johnson (www.pjohnson.com.au - more on him later as well). Read more in Giuseppe Santamaria's book and on his website: www.meninthistown.com
Robin Mellon is one of Australia’s experts on sustainability in the built environment and is determined to leave the planet in a better shape than it was when he found it. Robin believes in a Better Sydney – better buildings, better communities and a better quality of life.