A spot of student myth-busting

To quote this very own blog’s dear Mr. Gee, “students are often seen as a scruffy bunch”.

If you think about it, we students have no bosses to impress, very little money to spend on nice clothing, very little time to think about the way we dress (in between studying, procrastinating, drinking, eating crisps and drinking) and little inclination to dress in anything that isn’t edgy or anti-establishment

But is that really the case?

How I see it

Student Tailor navy jacket grey trousers

Keeping it casual even with a tie

Whilst the scruffy student is a commonly held stereotype, I’d like to believe it’s misguided. I love, live and breath fine tailoring, spend every ounce of disposable income I can muster on expensive suiting and corresponding shoes and I obsess about dressing well.

Furthermore, I am pleased to report that although I am (as you might expect) in a minority, I am by no means on my own. At Oxford at least, there is a healthy proportion of students (both male and female) who relish the prospect of presenting a fashionable, sharply tailored appearance.

My own blog has a large proportion of its following rooted in the local student community, and I am constantly offering advice and tips to fashionable chaps about town, who’d like their none-too extensive student budget’s to stretch that extra mile.

The Student’s view

Many students (myself included) find that actually, making our budgets work for us, and enjoying the prospect of savvy shopping and bargain hunting, makes student fashion all the more rewarding.

Vintage boutiques, charity shops and eBay are always a good prospect, even if there’s even a degree of friendly competition involved in snapping up certain coveted bargains. For example, a good friend of mine managed to snaffle up an immaculate Lock & Co top hat for a trifling thirty pounds last month, and I wouldn’t talk to her for days afterwards.

Such a purchase may sound irrelevant, but actually even at universities, there are plenty of opportunities to dress formally; various formal dinners, drinks receptions, different social events, balls and careers networking events all provide an opportunity to dress up. The number of immaculate dinner suits, velvet smoking jackets and tartan trews that are experimented with time and again at these events is always a welcome prospect.

I actually attended a student-run and staffed fashion show last week, which focused heavily on formal wear. It was developed in conjunction with the university’s well-attended fashion society and termly fashion circular, so it’s clearly something we students are interested in.

We’re not scruffy

Student Tailor blue jacket pocket fold

Hipper than a hipster?

It seems then, that many of us do indeed take pride in our appearance, and not just with a view to make ourselves appear as ‘hipster’ as possible.

It is true however, that student-smart, can also be smart clothing of a very specific variety. At Oxford, coloured chinos prevail, the slimmer and gaudier the better. Closely following those, are very, very loud tweed jackets, we’re talking 22oz contrasting herringbone’s and bright window-pane checks.

Just last week I saw a pair of very dapper chaps in well-fitted tweed blazers with nice modern proportions, college ties and a pair of lime green and hot pink chinos a piece, wandering down the high street. It was a magnificent spectacle, but not necessarily one which you’d accept as the norm anywhere else but Oxford, home of the eccentric as it is.

A final word

Such eccentricities all too often define student fashion in my experience, and as anyone with an interest in clothes knows, experimentation is the only way to discover what works and what doesn’t, and I think its fair to say that no one could accuse students of not experimenting.


Aleksandar Cvetkovic is otherwise known as the Student Tailor, and can also be found on facebook too.

Movember style inspirations

It’s Movember – the month of moustache growing for men’s health awareness.

If you’re a ‘Mo bro’ – a member of the brethren, adorning your top lip for charity, you’ll probably be going through the itchy stage by now. So here’s a little food for thought to take your mind of that top lip tickle. What are you going to wear with your burgeoning tea strainer?

To give you some ideas, here we take a look at the men’s fashions that have followed the evolution of the mo’.

19th Century Renegade

hristo botev

A high collar and bow are must have pieces for this look
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re partial to a bit of steampunkery, you’ll no doubt relish the prospect of cultivating a spectacular Victorian style moustache, beard combo. But did you know that in the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign, moustaches and beards were frowned upon as the indulgence of revolutionaries? It wasn’t until the 1860s that facial hair became the must have accessory for the self respecting gent.

Pictured above is the Bulgarian rebel and national hero, Hristo Botev. To emulate the great man, you’ll have to practise beetling your brow and glaring with revolutionary zeal. Being throttled by your high starched collar and bow tie will probably help. This is a good look for those with luxuriant hair.

First World War Officer

Poppy field

Team with a poppy and wear with pride
Source: Wikimedia Commons

From 1860 to 1916 it was compulsory for British army officers to wear a moustache. The facial hair was seen then as a symbol of maturity, virility and manliness. The rule was relaxed in 1916 due to the difficulty hair causes in getting a good seal on a gas mask.

Other sources suggest the rule was dropped because it was so roundly ignored in the muddy misery of the trenches.

More poignantly it’s been suggested that as the war progressed, the age of young officers fell significantly. Eventually, those leading their men over the top were only capable of growing a smudge of down on their top lips. Perhaps it’s worth considering wearing a poppy with your mo’.

Crooner

Sammy Davis Jr

Sammy Davis Jr and his pencil moustache
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re partial to swing, you could do worse than emulate the moustachioed look of 1960s brat pack member, Sammy Davis Junior.  Along with fellow entertainers, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, he was the very epitome of chic. Well known for their excesses, members of the brat pack nevertheless took their work as professional entertainers extremely seriously – an assertion borne out by their impressive output of records, films and live shows.

And with those smooth sounds, razor sharp suits and quality shoes, boy have the rat pack stood the test of time. To stand any chance of emulating Sammy Davis Jnr – the so called ‘Mister Show Business’ – you’ll have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk, which means keeping your pencil moustache trimmed to perfection.

All Action Hero

Burt Reynolds

Burt and his bushy mo
Source: Alan Light via Wikimedia Commons

Moving onto the 1970s and moustaches got considerably bushier. With his rugged good looks and trademark ‘chevron’ moustache, Burt Reynolds is probably the world’s finest exponent of the 70s ‘tache. Showing his age these days, the 77 year old actor has recently suffered failing health and a somewhat ‘iffy’ facelift.

But in his heyday, films like Deliverance, Gator and Smokey and the Bandit, made Reynolds a household name. If you want to ape his look opt for denim shirt and stetson, or as seen here, a button down shirt and leather jacket. Now that’s 70s cool.

Wear with Pride

Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck’s face ferret
Source: Dfree

Fashions come and go – and we’re still waiting for the renaissance of the moustache in popular fashion. Perhaps the last time the ‘face ferret’ was in vogue was the 1980s. Freddie Mercury was never without one and Eddie Murphy frequently sported one. But perhaps the era’s most glorious soup strainer belonged to the American actor, Tom Selleck, star of the smash hit TV series, Magnum PI.

Set in Hawaii, the star of the series is Selleck’s beach bum private investigator, Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV. He’s a sleuth with a penchant for aloha shirts and deck shoes – a good look but perhaps suitable only for Mo Bro’s planning a late autumn sun holiday.

Fancy joining in? Head over to the Movember website and find out more.

Fashionable Villains

The Krays were hot to trot. Al Capone – epitome of the roaring 20s, even the cigar smokin’, gun toting Bonnie and Clyde had a certain style.  

There’s something that separates your run of the mill criminal from the big names.  We think it’s got something to do with their choice of clothes and shoes.  

Here we take look at dress sense – hoodlum style.  

Al Capone

Al Capone

Al Capone
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In public, Al Capone was immaculate; the fedora, the tailored pinstripe suits and spectator brogues were sheer class. In private, he was a prohibition era bootlegger, pimp and extortionist. In his own words, he was, “a businessman, giving the people what they want.”

Three deep knife wounds to his left cheek earned him the nickname, Scarface, but despite his looks, Capone was a celebrity. Thanks to his legendary generosity, the eponymous crook was widely viewed as the Robin Hood of 1920s Chicago.  

But in 1929, at the peak of his notoriety Capone’s reputation took a broadside. Seven members of Bugs Moran’s rival north side gang were gunned down in a garage and Al was blamed.  The St Valentine’s day massacre, proved to be the beginning of the end for Capone.

Law enforcers began to take a serious interest in his business affairs and on 17th October, 1931, Al Capone – the snappy dressing crime boss – was sent down for 11 years for tax evasion.   

Bonnie and Clyde

bonnie and clyde

Bonnie and Clyde
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Young, wild and indulging in extramarital sex.  It may sound like your average 18 – 30 holiday to our modern ears, but in the America of the great depression, such high jinks were the stuff of newspaper headlines. Add some photos of a glamourous couple, armed to the teeth and smoking cigars as they pose before their stolen car, and you’ve got a legend in the making.

Bonnie in her long figure hugging dresses, and Clyde in dapper suits and open neck shirts; at a time when millions were living at or below the poverty line, theirs was a story that fired the imagination of the tired and dispossessed.

But while they looked like they were having the time of their lives, reality was rather different.  Bonnie had been bored and dissatisfied with her life as a waitress.  Clyde was a petty crook before a spell in the pen that saw him, according to a fellow inmate,  “change from a schoolboy to a rattlesnake.”

From the get go, their rampage was a desperate, doomed affair and both Bonnie and Clyde knew it.  Finally ambushed on a desolate road in Louisiana, they were both died as they had lived – riddled by bullets. Bonnie’s fancy clothes were stolen and auctioned off by a light fingered bystander.

Krays

Reggie Kray

Reggie Kray and friends
Source: The National Archives UK

“They were the best years of our lives. They called them the swinging sixties. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were rulers of pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world… and me and my brother ruled London. We were f****** untouchable…” –  a quote from Ronnie Kray’s, autobiography.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray, hid in plain sight.  At their zenith, the twins, wore razor sharp Savile Row suits and mixed with rock stars, MPs and the aristocracy. Their chain of nightclubs and scrap metal dealerships, masked their true identity. Vicious criminals, they ran protection rackets and dealt in robbery, hijacking and arson.

Murder was nothing to these men.  In 1966, Reggie shot and killed criminal rival, George Cornell, in the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel, sparking a crime war.

Worse was to come, when the following year, the twins decided to wreak vengeance on one of their own for failing to fulfill a contract.  Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie is alleged to have been stabbed so many times by Reggie that his liver fell out and was later flushed down the toilet.

They may have worn the smartest Oxfords, but their soles were steeped in blood.  McVitie’s body was never recovered, but the Krays were eventually jailed for the murders; their sentence 30 years without parole.

Frank Lucas

Frank Lucas

Frank Lucas
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Wearing a knee length chinchilla coat with matching fedora today, would incite crowds of animal rights aware citizens to riot.  But back in the 1970s, Frank Lucas was a big time drugs baron.  He could wear what he liked – and you’d better like it.

Lucas, it has to be said, was more usually to be seen sporting a very well cut, but inconspicuous suit – his wardrobe paid for by drug smuggling on an unprecedented scale.  The dude from Harlem made it big by breaking the Mafia stranglehold on the New York drug trade.

He travelled to South East Asia where a family connection helped him set up an import business. Vast quantities of exceptionally pure heroin were smuggled into America, it’s claimed, in the caskets of dead soldiers being returned from Vietnam.

In his heyday, Lucas had tens of millions of dollars stashed in accounts in the Caymen Islands and owned property all over the United States, including a cattle ranch in North Carolina.  He’s reported to have lost the lot after he was finally busted in 1976, but Lucas, who turned 83 this week is still a pretty snappy dresser, so who knows..