Reader profile: Cedric – Permanent Style

Cedric works in the art world, and as such is rarely formal. But he retains an interest in tailoring, has childhood memories of going to Huntsman, and is even talking to Fred Nieddu about his first bespoke. 

He also has a depth of interest in American clothing that is rare among readers in the UK. This, the latest in our series listening to the stories of PS readers, is a profile of his style and how it has developed over the years. 

You can see all of the previous reader profiles – eight so far – here.  

Outfit 1: Semi-smart

What do you do for a living? 

I’m a gallerist – by the time this comes out I will have just opened my first permanent space. I’m looking to exhibit artists that I think don’t get enough attention, as well as international artists who aren’t shown by other UK galleries.

Is that what you’ve always done? 

No, I used to work in the City, for Bloomberg. I was there six years, and running one of their Swiss operations at the end. But I got rather tired of it and decided to pursue a passion for art – I did a Masters in Art History and then started working independently on various art and music-related projects.

That sounds like an easy way into it.

Right, I had a lot of freedom. This next stage will certainly be more of a challenge. 

How long have you been into clothes? 

I’ve always been interested in how things look, though it’s really grown in the past four or five years. My Dad was always a good dresser, and I remember he used to go and have fittings at Huntsman on Saturdays. It was like a family outing – we all went, and he loved the theatre of it, the fittings and everything. Back then it was a lot less expensive I think too. 

He’s less into clothes these days, but I’ve become more and more. Drake’s had a lot to answer for at the start, and then John Simons, then places like Clutch and The Real McCoy’s. It sort of accelerates, as you find one good thing – perhaps something at McCoy’s – and then see something else you then want to upgrade to. 

My Sunspel sweatshirts were fine for years, for example, but then you start to appreciate the difference a McCoy’s one brings, and you gradually replace them all. 

What are you wearing in this first outfit?

This is pretty much as smart as I get today. The jacket is a Dunhill blazer (with Benson & Clegg St George & The Dragon buttons), the Big Yank plaid shirt is from The Real McCoy’s, the jeans are Warehouse DD-1001XX (about 18 months old), the belt is Rubato and the shoes are Alden unlined LHS loafers.

Playing with classic things like a gold-button blazer gives me a lot of joy at the moment. I used to wear things like this a lot straighter, a lot more traditional, but I much prefer something more playful like this now. 

Outfit 2: Smart

This second outfit sounds like it’s a rarity these days then. 

Yes, I don’t wear a suit anywhere near as much, but I still enjoy wearing them now and again. The impetus for this one was Ralph Fitzgerald at Huntsman’s wedding in New York a couple of months ago.

It’s a fresco suit from Southwick – the original maker of the American natural shoulder. Traditional cut, soft shoulder, undarted, single hook vent, working three-button cuffs, flat front trousers, 1.75” turn-up. The proportions and natural shoulder flatter me I think, and it works with the Mercer shirts, knit or madder ties and Aldens that I wear a lot too. I pretty much only wear Aldens.

Where did you get the suit from?

From O’Connell’s, the traditional Ivy shop in Buffalo, New York. I have a Southwick blazer too, which I went to The Andover Shop in Massachusetts to track down. Then after I got this suit, which is the same cut and size – so I knew it would work perfectly for me. All I had to do was hem the trousers (which I did at Hidalgo). 

I love the atmosphere at O’Connell’s, and at The Andover Shop. They’re from a different age. They have that type of service that’s perfectly polite, but without a word wasted. I’d talk to them on the phone and it would be like ‘Thank you Sir, goodbye’ and bang, down went the phone. 

You mentioned you’ve learned some lessons from tailoring and alterations over the years – what are they?

I guess I’ve learnt not to alter a carefully considered or classic cut. I now only adjust the sleeve length, or hem trousers. When buying clothes I generally try on the same item in two sizes to ensure I’m getting the right one – the same applies to shoes. To an extent I’ve learnt to disregard sizing labels and trust how something feels on.

 

Where did the interest in Ivy League clothing come from?

A lot of my essentials fit into this category: I was wearing Oxford cloth button-down shirts, Shetland sweaters, flat-front chinos and penny loafers long before I was aware of the term Ivy Style. I’ve always liked clothes that are relaxed yet elegant. 

I’ve also got derbies, brogues and chelsea boots, but I tend to wear penny loafers the most. In terms of makers, I find Alden very comfortable and hard wearing; aesthetically I think they perfected the shape and apron stitching of the penny loafer with their LHS model. 

Back to clothing more generally, when I discovered the book Take Ivy many years ago I was fascinated by how timeless those sixties American collegiate outfits looked. I also liked that there were no rules: casual blended in with more formal, and different cuts worked together. 

Soon after I began looking into the origins of these items and realised many have a British history: the button-down shirt was designed for British Polo players in the 19th century to stop the collars from flapping, the loafer originated as a British country house shoe, and so on. So although it’s widely considered an American style because they popularised it, it doesn’t feel too far from home. 

Where are the rest of the clothes from?

The shoes are a pair of Alden 986s I inherited from my Dad, and they’ve just been resoled and restored by Alden. They’re 25 years old, but I think they look actually better than new – with the creases reflecting how they’ve been worn over time. Alden did a great job, repairing all the little broken stitches.

The shirt is the ‘button-less button down’ from Mercer & Sons, and the tie is from a Drake’s and Aimé Leon Dore collaboration – traditional Drake’s Mughal Hunter pattern but in different colours. 

Outfit 3: Casual

This is a bit more unusual for the kinds of things we have on PS. Tell me about the shirt and T-shirt.

The shirt is from Jake’s, made in a Permanent Style Oxford cloth. This was my first one but I’m going to get the white and probably the blue stripe as well. 

The T-shirt is also associated with you in a way – it’s an Allevol T-shirt from Clutch. I bought a few of them last year to get printed, and I love the quality. 

So many of the loopwheel T-shirts I’ve bought over the years have lost their shape. I had a few that seemed to really give in the waist. I still have them, but I’d only wear them in particular circumstances, such as under a rugby or a full-cut shirt like this, where the fit doesn’t matter as much. 

And what’s the print?

The ‘American Dream’ print is taken from a mid-20th century archival piece. I just thought it looked good – I liked that the text was handwritten, and oversized so that it’s not immediately obvious. I worked with an artist to re-create it and at the start of this year we handprinted a small run. 

I guess The American Dream has a more conceptual meaning today than when it was coined in the early 20th century, but it’s still about having the freedom to pursue one’s passion in life, as well as optimism and equal opportunity.

The deck shoes are from Wakouwa, which Clutch now stock as well, though it’s a brand Anatomica created. The chinos are the Field model from RRL – I have a few, they’re so great and hard wearing, and higher rise than most RRL. I realise these things are more casual than Permanent Style would usually feature, but there’s a similar theme of quality and classic styles. 

How long have you been reading the site?

Not too long. I first came across it when I picked up The Style Guide in Trunk several years ago – drawn by the ever-stylish Mr Kamoshita on the cover. But then I started reading more during lockdown. Your articles came up in searches, and I particularly like the journalistic / historic approach, focus on craftsmanship and how smart and casual sit together on PS.

When we met you also mentioned Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Secret Vice’ – can you explain for readers? 

The Secret Vice was one of Wolfe’s essays in his 1966 book Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, in which he describes how much young men of the time cared about clothes and their marginal differences, yet wouldn’t speak openly about them – it was their secret vice. He gets into a lot of Ivy references: the flap pocket, the button on the back of a shirt collar to hold a tie in place, etc. 

Like Take Ivy, for me it’s a reminder of how much and how little has changed.

Simon Crompton

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