The Armoury in is one of the quintessential gentlemen stores, particularly in Hong Kong, when they started operations in 2010. Their mantra of “craftsmanship and soul of men’s clothing” struck a chord with us, and we bring you the first ensemble we put together with Alan See, one of The Armoury‘s founders.
This is a city ensemble, smart, elegant and just as sharp in a boardroom, or a client meeting, or in a chic restaurant in town. We begin with the suit.
Suit, tie and shirt.
The suit is by Ring Jacket, one of Japan’s finest ready to wear labels. Their line combine traditional English construction with American practicality and with a soutnern Italian flair. They collaborate with Japanese mills to create interesting and distinctive material used in their suits.
The navy suit is a must have for every gentleman. The more practical example would be a two button, single breasted suit, but for this ensemble, we picked the more elegant, and perhaps more dandy 6×4 double breasted suit. The double breasted suit is considered more formal, and many observers feel that it is more suited to a gentleman with more stature. We tend to agree, mostly as we find though some younger men can pull the classic double breasted off quite well, generally, a more senior gentleman with more stature will carry the DB better.
In this suit, The Armoury and Ring Jacket have featured an extended, unpadded shoulders and enlarged sleevehead. A lower button stance perhaps elongates the torso. As usual, double breasted jackets should always be with peak lapels, and in this case, they are placed high so as to have a long, sweeping lapel, with a beautifully hand rolled belly. Material is navy twill from Vitale Barberis Canonico. and includes a pair of high rise, flat front pants to match.
The shirt by Liverano & Liverano is in a pink with red double stripes to give a splash of color. Liverano is known for their hand made construction. The sleevehead is larger than the armhole, a typical Florentine style, where the excess fabric on the sleeve is eased onto the torso by hand creating a shirring effect that is their signature.
The pocket square is from Simonnot Godard, and this example is chosen for the pink edge piping to pick up on the stripes on the shirt. The edges are hand rolled, and the square is 50% cotton, 50% linen. The cotton/linen blend is a dry feel, and contrasts to the sheen of the silk tie.
We chose a green silk print tie by E.G. Capelli, a artisanal maker based in Naples. The style is an Italian interpretation of the classic English style.The base green is lifted by spots in red, blue and white forming a matrix pattern. The Armoury notes say that tie is 5 fold, but it looks 7 fold to us. And it features a light interlining, a full length slip stitch (essential for the tie to carry a nice knot and retain its shape) and beautiful hand rolled edges.
A hat is sometimes a very nice to have in either hot weather (a Panama), or in cold (Felt or Beaver fedora). Here we picked a beautiful brown rabbit felt fedora from Borsalino.
Borsalino is one of the Italian hat mainstays in hat making. Founded by Guiseppe Borsalino in Italy in the 1850s, they make a variety of hats. We find for city use, especially for colder climes, the felt fedora to be the most suitable. A more formal style, known as the Homberg, favored by Winston Churchill is also appropriate, but perhaps in today’s less formal society, the fedora is perfect. The fedora is personified in the movies by classic and elegant gentlemen like Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and others. Many men these days have dispensed with the hat as they find it cumbersome, but there is certainly something to be said when venturing out in the chill with one’s head nice and warm.
The standard Borsalino felt fedoras are available in both the classical colors of brown and blue. We chose brown for this ensemble to provide a contrast to the navy suit. But a navy blue fedora would be just as nice a combination. Borsalino is also known for their Panama hats, especially the foldable variety.
The watch, and the whisky
A gentleman should be suitably equipped with a nice dress watch. And for this ensemble, we picked a vintage Patek Philippe 3590J, made in the 1970s.
The Patek Philippe 3590 is a rather interesting Patek. The movement is ultra thin, automatic winding and sourced from Jaeger LeCoultre. The ebauche is from JLC as Caliber 920, and is a well known ultra thin automatic in its time. It was also used in Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. The movement is engraved and some final finishing done by Patek and renamed C.28-255. The movement is very beautiful, but not visible as it has a solid gold caseback.
The movement measures a slim 2.45mm in height, and in the svelte gold case measuring only 6.5mm thick, and 36mm diameter with a Patek signature hobnail bezel.
We think it goes well with this magnificent Laphroaig 24 year old Scotch whisky. This is an independent bottling of 24 year old Laphroaig single malt Scotch whisky, bottled for the fantastic Old & Rare Platinum range. This Islay whisky was distilled in March 1990, matured in a refill hogshead and bottled in July 2014 with an outturn of 285 bottles. And promises a midly peaty drink. The nose is crisp, and a very intense bite from the 50.3% alcohol produces a clean palate. The finish is long and with a beautiful floral note lingering. The peat and smoke is tempered, and not quite the usual Laphroaig single malt.
The leather goods: shoes, belt, briefcase
We group these together not only as they are generally made from animal hide, but also in a standard ensemble they should be in complimentary hue. A brown belt should go with a brown pair of shoes, and to some extend would indicate a brown briefcase. As brown can have many different shades and hues, it is not necessary to match the colors, as this will result in making an outfit or a uniform. And the civilian gentleman does not wear an outfit or uniform. A loosely reference color coding is much more desirable, and should be striven for.
The belt: while we usually prefer our suit trousers to hang from the shoulders from a pair of braces (Albert Thurston makes the best) rather cinched in the waist by a belt, it is sometimes necessary to wear a belt. This is especially true if the suit is off the rack, like the Ring Jacket DB we are recommending, which will feature belt loops and not cut with a fishtail for braces.
So sometimes, a nice belt is required to prevent the trousers from slipping. Here we picked a alligator belt by Il Micio, with a vintage dead stock brass buckle which looks dashing, and echoes the hue of the St Crispin’s shoes rather well, but textural cues from the alligator and the contrast to the calf leather provides some relief from being an outfit.
Shoes are by St.Crispin’s, the namesake patron saint for cordswainers. This is a beautifully made pair of oxfords.
Oxfords are the traditional shoes for the city, with the closed lacing being more formal than the open lacing in blutchers. Closed lacing shoes are those which have the sides of the upper that are drawn together by the laces to form the front part of the shoe. The tongue is a separate leather piece sewn under, and hidden from view. In an open laced shoe, the vamp, the part of the shoe which form the toe and instep extend backwards to form the tongue, and the sides of the shoes are laced together over the tongue.
The Oxford is considered the most formal of shoes. And are available either as a plain cap toe (most formal) or with broguing and patterns like wing tips which are less formal.These St. Crispin’s Des Voeux feature diamond accents brogues from toe to heel on a stylizedl cap toe.
The material used is calf leather, and is very soft and rich in hue.
We complete the city ensemble with a briefcase by Frank Clegg. A standard sized case in leather with a wrap around buckle closure and is an essential for work papers, electronics and an ultra light laptop.
As we started out on a classical ensemble for a gentleman about town, we covered the essentials. The double breasted suit, cotton shirt, silk tie, cotton/linen pocket square, alligator belt, lightly brogued oxfords with a fedora and a leather briefcase to match. We hope this episode has given the reader some ideas on how to put together an elegant and practical ensemble.
Ring Jacket Navy DB HK$12,800
Liverano & Liverano Pink stripe shirt HK$3,100
E.G.Cappelli Green Silk Print Tie HK$1,900
Il Micio Alligator belt HK$9,800
Boraslino fedora HK$2.600
Patek Philippe 3590J (pre-owned) HK$95,000
Frank Clegg Lawyer’s briefcase HK$12,800
Sorely Socks HK$250
Simmon Godard Pocket Square HK$700
St. Crispin’s Des Voeux Oxford HK$13,500
Laphroaig 24 Years Old, bottled by Old & Rare HK$7,650
Available at The Armoury 2, B47 Landmark Central, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong.