1. Oliver Brown Style Files: Juan Carlos

    Around the cutting table, discussions (and sometimes arguments) about the differences and nuances between fashion and style can often be overheard. The point to which these conversations always seem to return is that fashion is fleeting, while style remains. The former changes with the times, while the latter exists like a rubric against the quiddities of each generation.

    For our cousins in the designer clothing industry, fashions are created by the designers themselves, like shepherds leading their flocks. Whereas in the bespoke world, ‘fashions’ are client led and born of individual commissions.

    Even so, each tailor brings with them certain preferences and techniques that form a house style. This is why, quite often, famous houses are known by the name of the person(s) who founded them. One only needs to take a walk-through St James’s to see evidence of this.

    Here, at Oliver Brown, our head tailor Juan Carlos brings a Spanish flavour to traditional English tailoring, which has resulted in a unique combination of classic and modern styles.

    Read on below for the first instalment of the ‘Oliver Brown Style Files’, which will ask a series of questions to one of our team once a month, providing insight into the blending of fashion and style that make up our brand:

    1. What is your first fashion memory?
    It’s difficult to place a single first fashion memory. However, I spent a great deal of time with my father and grandfather at their tailoring business as a child where I was fascinated with all of their tools (which I viewed more as my own toys at the time) and the work in which they were engaged.

    2. What is the most stylish item you own?
    An overcoat that my father made in the 1960s. It has many features of bespoke tailoring, like double back pleats instead of vents, that aren’t often used today. He always took great care of the clothing he made for himself, and it still looks great.

    3. And your most valuable item?
    My grandfather’s shears. I use them every day at my cutting table.

    4. What is the one look you wish you could pull off?
    Steve McQueen in Bullitt: a tweed blazer, turtleneck, dark-wash jeans, boots, and, of course, the classic mustang to pull the whole look together.

    5. What is the one item that nobody should wear?
    I’m not sure I have a singular answer for this question. One of the characteristic parts of the bespoke industry is an understanding that what suits an individual is unique. It’s therefore impossible to develop a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts.

    6. What are your thoughts on accessories?
    Accessories should be used sparingly and tactfully. They should compliment an outfit, not take charge of it. But, that being said, accessories like a good watch, cufflinks, or tie pin, are a chance to show off individuality and are to be encouraged.

    7. Who would you say is the most stylish man to have ever lived?
    That’s a really difficult question to answer. There are so many people who have shaped what we consider stylish. Fred Astaire, the Duke of Windsor, Cary Grant, etc.

    8. If you could invite three designers (past or present) to a dinner party, who would you invite and what would you serve?
    Alexander McQueen, Edward Sexton, and Mogro Vejo. I would serve a selection of my favourite Spanish dishes, of which I have many!

    9. What is the one item you can’t live without?
    My tape-measure. It regulates everything I do in my work.

    10. What do you like best about your job?
    Working with people who appreciate the craftsmanship involved in tailoring and make it a joy to carry on my work.

    11. How do you feel about the industry?
    Traditional tailors (on and off Savile Row) and the broader fashion industry are working more closely together than ever. This has the dual effect of bringing updated fashion trends to old clothing houses and sharing the heritage and traditional modes of production with designers.

    12. If you weren’t in the fashion industry, what would you be doing?
    I would like to be a pilot. It’s always been an ambition of mine to learn to fly.

  2. Focus on: Bespoke Tweed Morning Suit

    From time to time, a client gives us the unique opportunity to retrieve an idea from the dustbin of history and breathe new life into it. One of our recent commissions for a tweed morning suit has provided the perfect chance to remake a largely forgotten garment.

    Pictured below, is the coat we have made for our client. The cloth is a 17-18 oz Bateman & Ogden Glenhunt tweed with a contrast blue spotted lining. It was made to wear to a country wedding where it will surely court favourable glances and comments from attendees and passers-by alike.

    However, there is some dispute around whether such a garment should rightly be called a ‘morning suit’. Until well into the twentieth-century, tweed coats were made with a centre seam. This method of making jackets only changed with the growing influence of the American ‘sack suit’, a form of tailoring that made its way across the Atlantic at the turn of the century.

    One can see below a very fine, early example of a tweed coat matching this description. The back of the coat, elegantly sweeping down from the cutaway front, is only perhaps a couple of inches longer than a modern suit. This was, indeed, the fashion for all Newmarket coats (the name initially given to ‘morning coats’) until the end of WWII.

    At this time, a tweed suit with a centre seam and ‘tails’ would not have been referred to as a ‘morning suit’. Morning dress indicated a particular mode of dress, not a garment that was tailored in a certain way. Tweed in any form would have been reserved for country pursuits.

    In the photo on the left, below, one can see the tell-tale signs of ‘casual’ country dress: a bowler hat (not a topper), a wing collar, and a pocket on the centre seam, indicative of hunting coats. Conversely, the man in the photo on the right is wearing ‘morning dress’ with a top hat, imperial collar, and a suit made of the more formal barathea cloth.

    Whatever the origins of the tweed ‘morning coat’, it is a great pleasure to encounter clients who take an interest in sartorial history and allow us to remake garments that might otherwise remain the stuff to fill museums. Of course, when doing so, one always runs the risk of appearing as though one is wearing a costume. But the beauty of bespoke tailoring is that we can take instruction from history but make manifest a modern and dynamic garment, such as this one, to give ‘flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything’.

  3. Focus on: The Oliver Brown Three-Button Suit

    At the outset, one might be forgiven for thinking that there is very little interesting about the number of buttons on the front of a jacket, but as Jeeves implored his master when he asked ‘do trousers really matter?’, I too advise my reader that ‘the mood will soon pass, sir’.

    For who knew that a single, extra piece of finely crafted horn on the front of a garment could be the signifier of cultural and social history? The amount of cloth utilised in making garments of any particular era is often indicative of the economic well-being of the time. Compare, for instance, the skinny ties of the 60s and 70s against the much wider ties of the 80s and 90s. The previous two decades were fraught with economic turmoil, the latter economic boom. These undulations of the capitalistic world occasionally reach as far as the bespoke tailors of London as well.

    And when one ponders that quality of utility, one tends to think of rough edges and rugged design, as if utility came at the expense of beauty rather than hand in hand with it. What, though, could be more useful and more beautiful than a superbly cut suit? Besides being a legal requirement for leaving the house, clothing fulfils a variety of roles just as important as keeping the weather out. A fine suit imbues a sense of confidence, a feeling that one is prepared for any social situation. It can also speak on behalf of the wearer to those around him, articulating his values and priorities as well as his sense of style.

    It’s why at Oliver Brown we’re so proud of our three-button suit. That third button doesn’t just make it ideal for the taller amongst us, it’s a touch that is very slightly out of the ordinary without being outright unusual. Like those other subtle stylistic flourishes that speak of high quality – the working cuffs, the pick stitching on the lapel – it’s a quiet and quietly deliberate statement that the wearer knows his taste and that his taste is not merely good – it’s very much his own.

    Tough enough to endure the rigours of everyday city life, it’s tailored from our traditional single-breasted block for a classic shape, carefully constructed with a canvassed chest piece, and cut from 100% navy wool worsted from one of Yorkshire’s most eminent mills. The contrast burgundy lining, like the suit itself, is outstanding without standing out.

    Pop into our Sloane Street shop or click here to find out more.

  4. Off the Cuff: Ed Chamberlin

    We caught up with ITV racing presenter Ed Chamberlin to chat all things bucket lists, dream dinner party guests and go-to racing looks...

    1. Tell us your greatest racing moment to date

    There are a lot to choose from already from only a year on ITV Racing. Enable was a superstar, Cheltenham was great and Royal Ascot spectacular - but the biggest thrill has to be presenting the 2017 Grand National.

    Tipping the winner, One For Arthur, in the Daily Telegraph helped!

    2. What is your go-to racing look?

    In winter, it would have to be Oliver Brown flannel trousers, cardigan, tie, moleskin jacket and Field Coat.
    When it comes to Royal Ascot, I wear Oliver Brown head to toe!

    3. What is the biggest racing fashion faux pas to avoid?

    Choosing inappropriate footwear.

    4. Who is your style icon?

    In my football days, Jamie Redknapp set the bar high. At the races, Andrea Atzeni always dresses with Italian style.

    5. What’s number one on your bucket list?

    To watch a Lions match, and go one better than last year and score a hundred for Lord March’s Cricket XI against the Lord’s Taverners on the first evening at Glorious Goodwood.

    6. List your dream dinner party guests

    Mick Channon, Kristian Robson, Des Lynam, Bryony Frost.

    7. How would you like to be remembered?

    As a competent sports presenter who got the best out of other people.

    8. If you weren’t a sports presenter, what would you be doing?

    Hopefully playing football for Southampton FC (unlikely).

    9. When have you made the wrong decision?

    Insisting on presenting outside - in a monsoon - on our first day broadcasting on ITV at Cheltenham!

    Ed Chamberlin is a presenter for ITV Racing - find out where to watch him here or watch on demand at

  5. On the Cutting Table

    With the faint promises of spring on the horizon our thoughts, and those of our customers, have turned to the daunting feat of deciding what to wear to the events of the summer social calendar. Chief among those is Royal Ascot, and as an official licensee of the Royal Enclosure it is not surprising that customers flock in droves to Oliver Brown for the ceremonial right of being crowned with a silk top hat and invested with the striped trousers, colourful waistcoat, and tailcoat that make up ‘morning dress’.

    Every so often, one of these attendees-in-waiting takes a turn around our specially-outfitted morning dress room with a slight hint of ennui in the eyes. Although we offer one of the largest morning dress collections in the world, this variety of gentleman longs for something more. And thus a bespoke customer is born.

    One of the more fascinating projects to come across the cutting table this month is from one of these customers who has grown tired of the de riguer modes of formal, summer dress. Inspiration for this suit was taken from one of our former commissions which was for a grey morning suit with shawl lapels and gauntlet cuffs. The suit is being cut from Standeven ‘English Classic’100% worsted wool cloth in grey and black. Even though the cloths from which this suit is being constructed are ‘classic’ by name, this garment promises to be anything but unoriginal. In addition to a shawl collar and cuffs,black satin-silk ribbon trimming on the lapels and cuffs and contrast features on the pockets, are bound to make heads turn with intrigue at the Royal Meeting.

    So we shall, no doubt,see at the finishing post whether fortune really does favour the brave.

    For more information on our bespoke services, and to book an appointment, please visit our Tailoring section, email [email protected] or call the shop on +44 (0)20 7259 9494.

  6. Five things to do in March

    The Oxford women's crew paddle down to the start for the University Boat Race versus Cambridge at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire in March 1994 (Photo: Tom Jenkins / Getty Images)


    There is, after three cups of tea and as many muffins, nothing one cannot achieve. Conversely, in those early hours whilst one is steeling the soul and strengthening the sinews in preparation for getting the old bod out of bed, it can seem that even the task of raising oneself beyond the horizontal is beyond the wit and will of man. One is devoid of ambition; one’s spirits are, if not actually dead, undeniably dormant; one is apt to lie there glaring out at the world from under the duvet, reflecting on the brute injustice of life and generally mourning one’s lot:

    “Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting, but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it, forever and ever; and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.”

    Henry James could no doubt use a slosh of Earl Grey and something floury buried in butter and Tiptree – but he has, one must admit, a point. However, it’s also worth remembering that anybody who doesn’t have a kettle and toaster tucked away by the bedside must eventually throw back the covers, brave the cold, slide into a suit and go about one’s daily business.

    As the spirits are slowly restored over the course of the morning, one is liable to reflect upon the fact that this fine city is packed with all sorts of cultural and culinary wonders that make the present unarguably better than the past. One realises that this is, indeed, the best of all possible worlds despite its many defects - and a sensible fellow owes it to himself to make the most of his time here:

    1. First, then, it might be a fine idea to consider what the Capital will look like when one is dead and gone. Curator Foteini Aravani has brought together such visions of the future at the Museum of London:

    2. Then, to remind oneself of the world as it currently is in all its startling beauty and complexity, head to the Hayward Gallery to take in the vast and vastly powerful photographs of Andreas Gursky:

    3. Thought-provoking suppliers of soul food though they may be, galleries can also be somewhat exhausting and hunger inducing. A Monday evening of eating, boozing and star-gazing at the Culpeper Kitchen awaits:

    4. Thus refreshed and come the 24th of March, it’ll be time to layer up and head down to the river for the Boat Race before finding a fine and foaming pint of beer in a cosy pub. Everything one needs to know can be found here:

    5. If one still finds oneself in need of spiritual or cultural sustenance then a couple of tickets to see ‘Girls & Boys’ at the Royal Court Theatre are in order. Funny and insightful, Dennis Kelly’s new one-woman script is as accomplished as Carey Mulligan’s seamless, sophisticated performance:

  7. The Simplicity & Subtlety of Airguns

    (Photo: Manch / Getty Images)

    It’s a happy annual ritual that we performed a few weeks ago, that one of putting one’s guns to bed. Broken down, carefully cleaned, lightly oiled before being reassembled and given a quick rub down with a soft cloth, they now lie dormant until called upon once more come August. We closed the gun cupboard door, popped the key in its hiding place, and put the cherished ironmongery from our mind.

    And it was just then, as we reached to turn out the light, that our eye alighted on the old air rifle propped up in the corner. The flat, hefty tin of pellets next to it, slightly rusted now. A fond memory rising unbidden of summer evenings spent knocking down beer cans from forty yards, a young marksman peering out at the world over open sights. The pneumatic whine of the cocking action; the reassuring, oily click that followed.

    Odd, isn’t it, how one is inclined in later years to view the weapon merely as a toy fit for fairgrounds, a training tool at best and juvenile precursor to .22 rifles and four-tens, themselves succeeded by the heavy rifle and 12 bore? Because if one remembers correctly, many a woodpigeon and not a few rabbits fell to the near-silent ‘phut’ of the airgun.

    Of course, it took skill and patience, cunning and guile. One’s successes were fairly few and far between - at least to begin with. One had to remain unseen and unheard, to use cover, to move slowly but smoothly, to make every shot count, placing that tiny lead pellet precisely where it needed to be placed to bring the animal down.

    But then one put away childish things. Moved on. Onwards, so they say, and upwards.

    But given that it’s open season on pigeons and bunny rabbits and given how delicious they are, perhaps it’s time to dust off these ever-so-slightly rusty skills. For what could be more satisfying on a wintry Saturday morning than a warm pigeon-breast salad?

    What could be more hale and hearty that a rabbit pie?

    What could be better for morale than the knowledge that, come what may, a handful of .177 pellets will put food on the table so long as one has an ounce of cunning, a clear eye and a steady hand?

  8. The Drinks Tray: Tommy’s Margarita

    Despite rigorous research by some of the nation’s finest statisticians, the fact remains – and it remains a mystery.

    For there are hundreds, possibly thousands of careers out there for them to have chosen from, but somehow prospective fathers-in-law are only ever one of three things: the ex-military man who assumes you’re a useless, ill-disciplined coward; the retired city type who has you down as a profligate, lazy and worst of all impoverished imbecile; or the moth-eaten and moulting legal eagle who can tell you’re guilty of all manner of horrors, though what precisely those horrors are he isn’t sure. (We do not include the unconfirmed reports from the home counties of a fourth variety, the gentleman farmer who weeps at the drop of a hat at the prospect of some impractical ne’er-do-well of a son-in-law running his patch of land – so carefully cherished over the years – into the ground within a decade.)

    Despite their professional differences, they can all agree on four things: you, dear reader and prospective son-in-law, are a dissolute and unworthy bounder; you drink far too much of the wine that hospitality demands is made available when you go to stay; their daughters are either blind or insane or possibly both; any man – especially you - who drinks anything other than red wine, gin, scotch or the occasional bloody Mary is a treacherous and possibly dangerous subversive who is, to put it in its mildest terms, wholly unsatisfactory.

    And that right there is your opportunity to show them the error of their ways, you poodle-faking young buck.

    Because once he’s had one of Tommy’s Margaritas, the fearsome old goat will be roaring what a jolly good fellow you are, squeezing your shoulder with misty-eyed gratitude and begging you to name the date. He may even pop you a twenty if you’ve got the proportions just right.

    Created by Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, San Francisco in the 1990s, this simple and simply extraordinary concoction will be the first new drink the young lady’s Guv’nor will have had since he retired.

    You will need to plan ahead, however, for though there are but three ingredients, none of them will be in the Old Man’s booze cabinet or in the cupboard just to the left of the Aga. You’ll need agave syrup, which you will find for some reason in a health food shop or by the Golden Syrup in the baking section of the supermarket. You’ll also need a whole bag of limes. Lastly, drop by the grog shop on your way out of town and pick up a bottle of the most expensive tequila blanco you can find or afford.

    Then, having endured the steely eye of the pater familias for the requisite half hour before supper, offer to fix him a drink. (There’s a rather handy, often rather sexist German word drachenfutter - dragon food - that refers to a gift given to placate a monster. Just FYI.) Sling a lot of ice into a shaker, add one part agave, two parts lime juice and three parts tequila, shake well and serve with a couple of ice cubes and – if it’s not too fussy – a wedge of lime.

    He’ll claim not to want it but the prospect of a free drink will win him over after a minute or so. And after that, you can sit back and rest assured that your stock will never have been, nor ever shall be, higher - world without end, Amen.

  9. The net or not? An anglers’ dilemma

    (Photo by the Denver Post via Getty Images)


    There’s an old saying, ‘If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel in company. But if you want to wind up stuck in a hedge in a furious rage, take a fishing net.’ Or something similar.

    It’s one well worth bearing in mind as we look ahead and, with a little help from the appropriately frosty Hillingar effect, glimpse the spring that lies just a touch beyond the horizon. We can – in our mind’s ear – hear the steady drop-drip and trickle of the thaw.

    Far out under the slate-grey surface of the North Atlantic, the salmon are returning. In the still and silent depths of lochs across Scotland and in the icy rush of England’s swelling chalk streams, the trout are just beginning to wake. Soon enough, those anglers who’ve become impervious to cold during the short winter days spent pike fishing will swap out their tackle, and as the days begin to lengthen and the frost recede, they’ll be joined by the rest of us.

    One travels light if one can, of course: a favoured and well worn canvas and leather bag over the shoulder containing the various reels, leaders, fly cases, scissors and so on, a flask - perhaps of coffee or something stronger - and a chunk of chocolate and a couple of meticulously crafted sandwiches; a rod case in one hand; the other hand free to deal with gates or, in anticipation of rough or boggy terrain, carry a thumb stick. Add to that minimal luggage the appropriate footwear and weatherproofing, one can be up and out in a matter of minutes.

    The question, of course, is whether to take a net.

    The most obvious drawback is a practical one. Does one attach it by some improvised sling? Does one hang it off one’s bag and put up with the constant clatter as one walks? Does one, as one edges along the bank, really want to get caught up in the slightest suggestion of a hedge?

    But the other, more serious drawback is a spiritual one. Is one tempting the fate? Is one thumbing a nose at the notoriously capricious deities that govern the fates of fishermen?

    Nonsense! one reminds oneself. One is merely going prepared, sensibly following the dictum that it is better to have a net and not need one than to need a net and not have one. And besides, it’s the responsible thing to do, for a net helps to ensure the [theoretical] capture and release of an unharmed fish. Arrogant? What hogwash! one counters: Fishing is intrinsically optimistic and fishermen must be, too.

    But like as not, as one oils one’s rusty casting action and finds one’s rhythm, the amateur has a fifty-fifty chance of catching something other than his prey, be it a tree, the bank or his own infernal, ridiculous, what-was-I-thinking-bringing-this-damned-contraption fishing net.

  10. Focus on: Oliver Brown jeans

    ‘When I grow up I want to be a rock & roll star.’

    ‘You can’t do both.’

    More than a kernel of truth in that one, sadly. Even the Stones have for some time now been stumbling along the slippery curb that separates rock and roll stars from aging rockers, and if Keith Richards can’t rock a pair of Wranglers then what chance do the rest of us have?

    Whether it’s rock stars or movie stars, cowboys or convicts wearing them, jeans have for decades been associated with the rebel – with or without a cause: boys who never grew up, should have grown up, or simply grew old in jail.

    No longer, however. Though ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ has long been shorthand for ‘you can’t get any more laid back without being horizontal’, pick the right jeans (and perhaps the right t-shirt), and it’s possible to take these trousers pretty much anywhere, from Shawshank to the shores or the Riviera.

    Take, for example, our linen jeans. Made from Irish linen and cut with a classic, straight leg and available in three far-from-rebellious shades, they’re perfect for the summer months in almost any scenario you might imagine, either at home or abroad.

    Linen Jeans, Pale Blue

    Then again, for something equally versatile and only a little heavier, our lightweight canvas jeans are made in Yorkshire and sand washed to ensure they’re superbly soft from day one.

    Lightweight Cotton jeans, Blue

    Our hard-wearing, fourteen-wale rib needlecord jeans are made in England and have that same classic cut and soft finish. One could, if one were so inclined, herd Colorado steers in them, but they’re equally suitable for life’s more refined but altogether less respectable pursuits like croquet.

    Needlecord Jeans, Olive

    Then there are time-honoured Oliver Brown favourites, the five-pocket, Yorkshire-milled moleskin variety. As tough as any you’ll own and, of course, supremely soft and comfortable, they feature tone-on-tone stitching and an antique brass button.

    Moleskin Jeans, Country Tan

    You’ll find the full range (and a few pair in the sale) at

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