On Style and Shawls

Visits to Wembley's bustling Ealing Road were so frequent for my family and I in the late '90s and early '00s, it could have well been considered a ritual. 

The drive up from Luton would take twenty-five minutes give or take, with a further twenty-five spent driving around the sideroads, hawk-eyed, looking for a free parking space to open up. Once parked, the first stop would be VB & Sons for those insane chilli and lemon crisps. At 10am, for a young me, it was the breakfast of champions.

Fast-forward several years, the parking was a lot easier, and the Indian folk on the whole are as rude as ever. We bypassed VB's and went straight into Venisons - who have three stores dedicated to Indian clothing on the strip. From the kid who used to count down the minutes until we sat down at Sakoni's for dinner, to the considerably older, bearded man perusing fabrics and silks for his fiancee's wedding gift - time really does fly. 

With a summer wedding fast approaching, my mind has been firmly set on figuring out how to design my outfits (as well as caterers, decor, guestlists, itineraries, travel and accomodation, DJs, playlists, rituals, booze, speeches... but more on that later). Shopping for the future Mrs., it turned out, sparked in me an idea of how to seamlessly bring together the worlds of Eastern and Western menswear. Now, granted this isn't exactly groundbreaking - there are hundreds of clothing lines worldwide that champion exactly that. However, to me I've generally felt the balance hasn't really been quite right: it's either overly Eastern (glorious prints, nehru collars and Savile Row tailoring/detailing) or it's pretty much a normal suit, with no real visible influence of anything else.

Texture, balance and colour is key. Don't go overly bold or over the top. Don't repeat patterns. Don't clash. Don't offend. But most importantly, don't try too hard. Sir Michael Caine once said, "A man should dress in a way that you don’t notice. He looks good and you don’t know why. But it’s the tailoring, the materials, and the clothes." I took inspiration from this, as well as a recent (and incredibly informative/interesting) article from the arbiters of style, The Rake, on how to get tonal dressing right to put this outfit together.


I have my go-to suit and shirt combinations, which make for a good starting point. Here, I'm wearing a navy herringbone blazer with peak lapels, a striped Sea Island Quality shirt and spotted tie - all by Turnbull & Asser; a bespoke pullover by Son of a Tailor; and a Huntsman pocket square. 

With the seasons in transition, it's often too warm for an overcoat (with random snow days the exception, of course) but seldom warm enough to lose a layer entirely. In the middle of shopping for my SO, I found a selection of incredible shawls from Venisons - ranging from woven prints to plain wools. This, one of the most intricate motifs in a silk and cotton blend worked wonderfully to bring out and compliment the tonal blues of my outfit. The shawl itself, also had subtle light blue accents. 

This is a little more out-there than normal, I admit, but I was on my way to a photography exhibition and it did receive a lot of positive comments! Plain shawls work incredibly well when your outfit is more understated (a faded brown/beige shawl that I purchased, for example, goes great when I'm wearing a smart black jumper and charcoal grey wool jacket). 

It's about whatever makes you comfortable, and confident. I can't help but feel a little sad when people say they could never pull something off, especially when they really could if they tried. A lot of our choices in style come down to the confidence we have in ourselves.


The Sartorial Journal interestingly posted about the style of arguably the best-dressed gent on the screen, Mr. Don Draper, and how it wasn't the clothes that warranted his place in the upper echelons of style.

"The idea that "luck is the residue of design" is particularly befitting of AMC’s iconic Mad Men series - especially with relation to how the show and the fashions perpetuated throughout, coincided with the sartorial renaissance - subsequently enshrining its main character, Don Draper, as an arbiter of taste and cool for years to come. [continued below]


Interestingly though, the suits worn by Draper rarely fit him that well - certainly not by sartorial standards anyway - which brings us to the point - that ‘style’ is less about clothing and more about the man. In other words, it is innate - derived not from fashion, but from personality. Louis Ialenti - Managing Director of The Cloakroom - can frequently be heard proclaiming that “you can’t buy cool”, or in other words; all the money, all the clothing and all the accoutrements in the world will never render a gentleman cooler, suaver or more attractive than he was previously."

Imagery of me by @styleandstylus; Don Draper via @sartorialjournal.

Follow me on @RKZUK.