July 12, 2018 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
DE: I’m 63 years old, a former lawyer and latterly school teacher. I’m now largely retired and spend much of my time on my blog – although that’s more of a hobby than a career.
VR: Your educational background?
DE: I’ve a law degree, am a qualified solicitor (now no longer practising) and a qualified primary school teacher.
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?
DE: I’ve a wife who heads a national charity in the UK, a son and a daughter in their late twenties. After initial surprise, they’ve all become great supporters of my blog.
All were surprised to say the least. Blogging has always been seem as a young person’s pastime and I hadn’t shown any great interest in matters sartorial or stylish before. My children seem proud of their dad; I suppose being a blogger at an age when most of us have retired with our slippers and moth-eaten cardigan is different enough to be seen as pretty cool!
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
DE: My family, my dog Harry, mountains and mountain walking, The Lake District (where I spend much if my time), my 50-year-old Land Rover, cycling, reading, photography, the sea, wildlife, the great outdoors, British-made menswear and accessories.
VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics? Why these instead of fashion?
DE: It came about simply because I’ve always thought I had a book in me and I wanted (in mid-2011) to start a blog to practise my writing skills. I didn’t have any idea what the subject of this blog was going to be, however, but someone suggested I find a topic I could write about from personal experience. All men and women over 40 find it hard to know how to dress and where to buy clothes. This is because brands and the fashion press ignore them, despite their relatively huge spending power. Not being the object of advertising and style discussion most of us give up. This is exacerbated by the fact that we tend to have settled into jobs and relationships, so the need to dress well is less acute than in our younger days. This all seemed an interesting basis for discussion.
With this in mind I thought I could write about the topic in a lighthearted way for a month or so when I would inevitably grind to a halt through boredom and lack of material. It didn’t quite happen like that. In starting the blog, I’d unwittingly dived into a huge hole on the blogosphere (which largely still exists despite many older Instagrammers) and the rest, as they say, is history. This all happened some six and a half years ago, in late 2011.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the tailored look — from books, talks with salesmen or somewhere else?
DE: All those things. Mostly from books and speaking to tailors, but there is so much information out there on the blog as well, although we have to be very careful about that as its quality is variable. I’ve been lucky enough to have had jackets and suits made bespoke by Dege&Skinner and Brita Hirsch and I learned much from that. I’ve had even more made to measure garments made and that gives a different perspective. Most of my clothes are ready to wear, although I’ve also had shirts made bespoke by Budd and Turnbull&Asser.
Visiting factories, mills, tailors’ workshops, shoemakers, tie makers and shirtmakers has given me a lot of background knowledge too. Until you’ve seen something being made you can have no idea how much work goes into it or how it’s constructed.
VR: Why did you decide to set up your blog, and what goals did you set for yourself in the beginning?
DE: My goals to start with were simply to write and see how it went before I found a more interesting topic! However, I became drawn to British-made clothing and accessories and writing about these became a sub-theme of the blog. I’ve always shied away from making the blog too commercial but this does mean that I feel taken advantage of on occasion as many brands expect much for nothing. Being gifted items is necessary if I am to write about them, but it doesn’t pay the many bills of blogging.
I’m beginning to find a balance with some brands giving me the opportunity to do paid projects which subsidise the blog and enable me to write about new and young businesses and other topics I want to pursue. I’m gradually expanding the range of the blog as I want to appeal widely to the older demographic by covering other items of interest to the older guy: cars, watches, holidays, fine dining etc.
I want the concept of style and authenticity to lie behind everything on the blog. There are many brands that I’ve turned away that don’t fit this philosophy; so no cosmetic surgery, no tobacco or unethical products, no cheap clothing companies that rely on suspect employment policies in Asia and other third world areas, no gambling companies, however much they may offer financially.
VR: Have you any particular style or cut philosophy behind your own clothing?
DE: Not really. I like the relative classic nature of British style softened by the unstructured shapes of Italian tailoring. Style must always be comfortable – even formal wear must be easy to wear.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
DE: My wife and children generally. They are focussed and determined. Sartorially, I’m inspired by Prince Charles and his love of the best quality clothing and his ethical approach to clothes. He wears them until they’ve worn out, patching and mending when needed. A lesson for those of us who buys piles of cheap clothes each month, throwing them out after a few wears.
DE: Style is the expression of yourself through what you wear and how you live your life. Clearly there can be good and bad style. Good sartorial style respects shape, proportion, colour, good workmanship and heritage and also respects self and others.
VR: Finally, given your expertise on the subject, how could middle-aged men improve their style in a convenient manner?
DE: Buy clothes that fit. The commonest error is spending a lot on, say, a business suit that doesn’t fit – too wide over the shoulders and too long in the leg. The other common error is dressing like your teenage son. Age is a privilege, not a threat: work with it, not against it. Buy classic and simple styles and as you develop confidence you can become more sartorially adventurous.
Photo credits: Artefact Tailoring, Harvie & Hudson, Hirsch Tailoring, Dashing Tweeds.