A veritable temple of bespoke goodness is found at the premises of Kevin Seah Bespoke. Today, we pick and match our gentleman’s essentials on an ensemble based on an English theme. We feature a bespoke coat, bespoke shirt and trousers, a pair of bench made shoes as well as a bespoke timepiece from Roger Smith.
A gentleman’s essentials
The English have a great tradition for menswear. Indeed they were largely responsible for the gentleman’s suit as we know it today. The history and how the lounge suit come about is beyond today’s article, perhaps we will do a series on this. Today, however, we select an ensemble based on the British theme. This ensemble is suitable for today’s Smart Casual dress code.
The coat and pocket square by Kevin Seah Bespoke
The jacket (or technically within tailoring circles called the coat) is a light, soft Scottish Tweed marketed by the longstanding London establishment of W. Bill & Co. The coat is made by Kevin Seah Bespoke.
The hand feel of the tweed is rather smooth and very soft. The checker pattern of rust, blues and yellow overlay a base of tweed olive. In traditional England this is the quintessential country coat, suitable for leisurely activities when the gentleman is out of the city. In modern cities, like Singapore, the coat is still light enough to be worn year round, especially suitable within air conditioned buildings, and offers a bit of warmth but not overly so. A coat like this is casual in nature and suitable to be worn without a tie.
We picked a red pocket square with paisley pattern to accompany the coat. The red base of the silk square picks up from the rust/red checks on the coat. The printed silk squares are hand rolled by Kevin Seah Bespoke. And pink button down shirt from Thomas Mason oxford cotton made by Kevin Seah Bespoke. Button down collars are essentially casual and do not require a tie.
Fine finishing details like the hand stitching on the patch pocket and the button hole in the photograph above. We do note that many gentlemen leave one or sometimes two buttons undone on their coat cuffs. We do not recommend this practice. Originally these working buttonholes were made for surgeons for them to unbutton their cuffs, roll them back to allow the hands and forearms to be scrubbed for surgery. Today, even surgeons remove their coats completely and don surgical gowns for their work. Working buttonholes have become redundant, but remain as a show of the tailor’s craft. We do like them, as we feel they complete the garment, but recommend them fully buttoned at all times. For the longest time, the great Savile Row house of Anderson & Sheppard refused to make these working buttonholes, preferring to make them fixed, although they have bowed to commercial pressure and now make working buttonholes for their coats.
Panama hat by Hat of Cain
A light panama hat is a good accompaniment to a casual ensemble, and useful to shield the sun from one’s eyes, and keep the heat of the day away. The short brim hat is hand made in Ecuador from toquilla straw using age old craftsmanship handed down for generations. Known as the ‘Prince’ of straw hats, the Panama is known for it’s classic and clean look, a must-have accessory and summer essential.
Shoes by Edward Green
Shoes we selected for this casual ensemble is the Edward Green Winford in mocha suede. These are unlined summer suede shoes with light rubber soles.
The house of Edward Green is one of the best examples of the English shoe industry centered around the industrial city of Northampton. All the shoes are made in the premises. Known as bench made, these are ready to wear shoes, made to specific lasts. The Winford is lasted on the 890 last which features an updated chisel toe last. The look is traditional and yet contemporary.
Each shoe is hand lasted, and bench made. The Editor made a visit to the Northampton factory several years ago, and his visit can be experienced on his personal blog by clicking here.
We recommend over the calf socks in a wool blend by Bresciani. Although Italian in origin,we included them in this British selection as they were carried by Kevin Seah Bespoke. These socks keep their shape and do not slide down one’s calf over the day’s wear. We selected some brighter colors for a bit of individuality, and a flash of brilliance when the socks show with each stride.
Watch by Roger Smith
We turn our attention then to the hand made watch by Roger Smith who works in a small workshop in the Isle of Man, making approximately 10 watches a year. All the watches are highly sought after and the piece we feature today is from the Series 2, in gold. This is made by Smith, one of the few English watchmakers and completely made in Great Britain.
The distinctive style of George Daniels, who is Roger Smith’s master is evident on the dial, the hands, the case as well as the movement. Daniels was heavily influenced by A.L. Breguet and the style of the guilloché dial is one hint. The watch is entirely made in-house in the atelier in the Isle of Man, and perhaps the only watch to be completely manufactured in Great Britain today.
We will be carrying a full review of this watch soon. Please watch for that article.
Our first Sartorial Musings column met with interesting reception. Many readers were surprised at our meanderings on the Gentleman’s Essentials. But most who have know the Editor would know that we are passionate in this field. We aim to be able to provide some insight into the world of bespoke men’s clothing. And perhaps highlight some of our favourites. We hope you have enjoyed our selections, and we would be pleased to hear your feedback.
Coat: Bespoke by Kevin Seah Bespoke from W. Bill Scottish Tweed approx S$4500
Shirt: Bespoke by Kevin Seah from Thomas Mason oxford cotton S$400
Trousers: Bespoke by Kevin Seah from a Rust/red cashmere wool fabric by Vitale Barberis Canonico S$1200
Pocket Square: Printed silk, hand rolled by Kevin Seah S$90
Hat: Panama hat, short brim by Hat of Cain S$395
Shoes: Edward Green Winford S$1300 including shoe trees
Socks: Bresciani over the calf S$55
Watch: Roger Smith Series 2 £100,800
I’m always horrified at those who leave working buttonholes open, it’s so artless a way of signaling. In fact I always get my tailor to do sealed sleeve buttons.
That is a magnificent Tweed, fantastic colours. One pointer, however: I find it almost impossible to judge a tailor’s merit without seeing the coat on its owner. Only in this way can drape and fit be appreciated.
Thanks for your comments Robert…I do agree with you on only being able to judge a tailor’s craft by seeing the coat on the owner it was bespoken for. But in this case, the coat was made for Kevin Seah himself, and he was away in a trunk show in Bangkok when we photographed the ensemble.
But the intent of the article is not a critique on the tailor’s craft, but rather an exercise to show our readers the possibilities of matching clothing, shoes and furnishings with nice timepieces.