We have heard it remarked that there are six principal ways in which a gentleman aims at Dressing well, according to which, namely, of the following objects he has in view: —
1. To be like the "best set.'
2. To appear "well off."
3. To avoid remark.
4. To court remark.
5. To set off his figure to the best advantage.
6. To proclaim his favourite taste, as in athletics, horses, etc.
|And for success in any of these aims, a man should first put
himself under the following inquisition: — |
1. Who am I?
2. What's my age?
3. Where am I going?
4. What to do?
5. What's the time of year, and
6. What the weather?
Upon due consideration of the answers to these questions, he may turn to and dress; of course having first taken counsel of the appointed professors in the several schools, and fully furnished his wardrobe upon their advice, from their considerable resources.
Of Schools of Dress in London there is no end. There are the joint-schools, for example, of Savile Row, Conduit, Maddox, Bond, and St. James' Streets; there is the school of Regent Street; there are the schools of the Strand, Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill; there are the accommodating, generally convenient and liberalfy endowed schools of the City; and there are the minor "private-adventure" schools of the suburbs.
The undergraduate student may have his choice of any of these. The first are hardly for the poor man; but if he can afford the necessary preliminary outlay, he is "cocksure" at least, of a "pass," possibly "honours"; the second might be selected upon discriminating advice from some full-fledged graduate; the third are inexpensive, but not altogether up to the best modern standards; the fourth offers splendid opportunities with careful preliminary observation and inquiry (a friend on the Stock Exchange might prove an invaluable aid); the fifth are not to be depended upon, and are mostly weak in the way of illustrative capability.
We remember somewhere to have read that the "civilian" clothes of the German Emperor are made by a well-known firm in London (we propose, when leisure comes, to track that firm down); but that His Majesty distributes some of his favours this way equally at Berlin and Vienna. The grey top hat worn last year by the Emperor in England, we are pleased to be in a position to say, was made in London. The military uniforms of the Emperor come mostly from the workshop of Robrecht, in Berlin. Every uniform is tried on, but all the civil clothing must be delivered and made to fit without this operation. It should not be very difficult for any one to ascertain to whom the first Gentleman in England generally makes his commands when dress is in question; and were it not for the invidious criticism "the puff direct" is likely to give rise to, we might forthwith name the firm. Indeed, we might name several London firms distinguished by the patronage of Princes; but to do so would only favour "copying," a method we are averse to. A gentleman must pursue his studies step by step. There is no royal road to the art of dressing well. It is only mastered by continuous personal application, and by a careful attention to the styles.
We may however offer a few general directions for the guidance of the hopeful student who comes to London to seek his degree in Dress.
Let him remember that dressiness is to dress what staginess is to the stage; it defeats its own end. Follow the fashion; but at a respectful distance. Keep your eyes about you, and note the manner of "the Row," especially in the Season. Restrict your original researches to the West End of the town. Be wary of the too-captivating contents of a tailor's window. Choose your material with deliberation; and only after allowing full weight to the incidental critical comments and suggestions of the professor. Let the learned gentleman talk, and do you profit by his observations. Never fear of appearing too fastidious in the department of "trying-on." A somewhat exacting pupil shows promise.
To come to details: In the matter of Coats, a silk-lining is a thing to be commended. It discovers an elegant taste, and is intimately connected with rank and riches. A nice sense of the fitness of the Trouser should be very carefully cultivated; the cut and fashion of a gentleman's trousers are, we are disposed to think, of even greater importance than the style of his coat. Be very choice in the selection of your pattern; and remember, he is a wise man who does not exaggerate the length of his own leg. Dark material for a short and stout man; light material (if he will) for a long and thin man.
A gentleman cannot be too particular in the fashion of his Boots. The boots do, indeed, proclaim the man. "Show me a man's boots, and I will tell you what that man is." Has not Mr. Furniss described the personality of the House of Commons by means of a diagram of boots? The managing director of the basement department of a hotel can estimate to a sixpence the aggregate of his daily "tips" by a mere glance at the soles and uppers of the boots left outside bedroom doors for his collection. When he places the mark of his chalk upon a sole, he instinctively values the personal resources of its owner. You cannot be too discerning in the selection of your boots; and it is money well laid out to speculate in half a dozen good pairs by a good maker, each pair adapted to the occasion.
As for your Hat, let no consideration of mere personal comfort ever tempt you to appear in London in any other but the orthodox "silk-hat" — the "tall-hat" vulgarly so-called — when suitably dressed for the promenade. The low-crowned felt hat and short walking- or shooting-jacket if you will; but never the low-crowned felt hat and the frock coat. The low-crowned hat worn with the ill-balanced frock coat at once stamp the wearer as a "cad." Why? No one has yet been able authoritatively to determine; but the fact nevertheless remains, that the low-crowned hat is an article of dress to be cast aside immediately the frock coat is assumed.
As to Shirts, Scarves, Gloves, Handkerchiefs and Socks, a gentleman of taste cannot be too precise in making his selection. He should go to the very first authorities in London, among whom, Harborow of 15, Cockspur Street (near Charing Cross), "makers to the Royal Family," and all the élite of the town, rank as the chief, and who alone "keep touch" with the best styles. Second-rate authorities will land him in all manner of ill-judged purchases; the sixpenny necktie made up, for example; shirts at 5s. 6d. apiece (you cannot buy a shirt of fine linen for 5s. 6d.); silk and cotton handkerchiefs of the flimsiest; ill-cut gloves; scarves of the music-hall fashion; and socks that shed tears of crimson dye in summer weather.
In the matter of Jewellery, a gentleman of fashion can hardly wear too little. Very little of watch-chain; not too much of watch ; never diamonds but in evening dress; only a small quantity of gold ring, and the plainer the better; no immodest bracelets, curb fashion, or in any fashion; a bashful show of scarf pin (a single stone preferable: an opal and diamonds on a black ground, or, better, a single pearl, say, illustrating one of Harborow's choicest scarfs); no trinkets, seals, conundrums of any kind.
Now for the professors of the Art of Dress in London, in the department of a gentleman's wardrobe. First and foremost there is Poole , whose lead however is less admitted now than formerly; and then we should be inclined to name Hill Brothers , of 3 and 4, Old Bond Street, of long-establisbed repute among Army men. Naval men, all classes of men whose ideal in the way of Dress is of a high order, commanding respect among students of the mode.
Add to these our old friends, Whitaker and Co. , of 43, Conduit Street, flourishing in their business, first-rate artists, well-up in all that is transpiring in the "best sets" of London, Boston and New York, capital cutters of coats, unfaltering in the method of the trouser, very discriminating in the selection of material of the choicest; capital fashioners of a gentleman's costume adapted (as he will) to the promenade, the road, the course, the cover, the field, or (principal consideration of all perhaps) the drawing-room. Mr. Whitaker, whom we have personally known for many years, and take leave to recommend, can advise you upon all the latest proprieties of dress, and turn you out in faultless style if you elect to consult him; and, withal, you will find Mr. Whitaker himself courteous and obliging, ever ready to communicate to a patron all that is transpiring in the West End world of Fashion in respect of patterns and style.
Nor should we omit to add the names of Smalpage and Son , of 41-43, Maddox Street, New Bond Street, of the first rank and reputation. Having likewise known this firm for above twenty years, and availed ourselves, from time to time, of its aid and advice, before perhaps we had so deeply supplied the Philosophy of Clothes as is now the case; we are the better able to commend it to the patronage of others. But the other day, during the dismal prevalence of the "influenza" epidemic we turned to Smalpage and Son for help. The result was a two-fold friend in the shape of a "coat-rug," which we found an admirable companion, whether walking the London streets, or travelling by rail. It may be made useful by all journeying by land or by water; and is only one example among many of capital up-to-date clothes "turned-out" for a gentleman's advantage by our old friends of Maddox Street.
J. W. Doré's, Conduit Street (No. 25), is one of those convenient general trades in the business of tailoring, every way worthy the notice of the thrifty and discriminating — a place where you may find good choice of material, good "cut" and fashion, general attention, and withal the rendering of a fair bill. "A Fiver," Mr. Doré assures us nowadays, "pays for a good suit," pre-supposing no credit is sought and ready-money passes; which is always the best and most economical way in ordering clothes. He is particularly good in material (tweeds, cheviots, home-spuns, etc., etc.), for travelling and country wear — knock-about suits, so to say, "ulsters," shooting, and overcoats, yachting-suits and the like; while giving due attention to the passing caprices of Fashion as noticeable in "the Park," the Drawing-room, and so on. In the matter of the dress-coat he is allowed to be of authority, as well in adaptability of material as in nicety of finish. We all admire ourselves in dress-coats. The fact admitted, it is well to stand advertised of Mr. Doré's willingness to help us to admire ourselves more than ever. Joking aside, among those of West End Tailors, his establishment is by no. means to be passed by, Of other fashionable tailors of the West End of London the following may be considered a fairly representative list: Wolmershausen, of 48 and 49, Curzon Street, Mayfair, first-rate makers of gentlemen's and ladies' clothing, and much appreciated by leaders of Fashion; William Buckmaster and Co., 3, New Burlington Street; Cutler & Reed, 24, 25, St. James' Street; Davis, of Waterloo Place; Kerslake, of Hanover Street. At either of these establishments the visitor may be sure of being turned out "one of the best-dressed men in London," if that should be an object of his ambition. As for prices, a ten-pound note will carry a man a long way in securing a suit of clothes made in the latest fashion.
Those journeying Citywards, or having avocations in the City, will findWoodman & Bailey , of London Wall (No. 43), a noticeable building on the right side, three or four doors east of Moorgate Street, deserving notice. They have a numerous and influential clientèle among stockbrokers and merchants of the City, and we need hardly remind the reader that such gentlemen do not undervalue the advantage of being well-dressed before the world. Woodman & Bailey's business is very fairly carried on. The firm gives its customers the full advantage their ready-money merits. They choose their cloth, they see its price marked in plain figures, they give their order, and, on its completion, they get 10 per cent discount on payment of their account. And what is more, the cloths, cut, and make of this firm are very good indeed.
An American friend of long standing speaks highly of Mr. Hagelmann of Argyll Street, near Regent Circus, as a maker of "very durable and fashionable clothing," such as all of us are glad to possess, whether with well-filled or ill-provided purses.
The foregoing addresses allow of ample latitude in the selection of your tailor. We might publish a thousand more; but an extension of the list would only perplex the reader, who, if he cannot make up his mind may, for purposes of selection, turn to the pages of the Post Office London Director, or walk through any of London's streets.
Messrs. Harborow's, of Cockspnr Street (No, 15), as we have heretofore noted, may be recommended as one ol the leading shops in West End London for shirts, collars, handkerchiefs, scarves, gloves, and all other the necessary equipment of a gentleman in these particulars. It is extensively patronised by a class of well-dressed men, with whose appearance even the most fastidious and correct eye would find it difficult to detect a flaw. You will nowhere buy better things than they supply. They show excellent taste, and what they sell is thoroughly to be relied on. This is one of the oldest firms in London.
Its principal competitors are Beale & Inman, 131 & 132, New Bond Street; Capper & Waters, 26, Regent Street, Waterloo Place; Lodge & Oliver, 156, Regent Street; Henry Ludlam, 174, Piccadilly; Thresher & Glenny , 268 & 270, Oxford Street; Sandland & Crane, 55, Regent Street; Sampson & Co., of the Strand; and Wheeler, of the Poultry.
Hook, Knowles, & Co. , 65, 66, New Bond Street (probably the first makers of ladies' boots in London); Thomas & Son, of St. James' Street; Dobbie , 198, Piccadilly; Hoby & Co., of Pall Mall; Lobb, of St. James' and Regent Streets; Osborne & Co., of 387, Oxford Street, good makers and charging moderately — all first-rate manufacturers of English boots.
We may dismiss the subject of the Hat thus: If westward, by all means go to Mr. Herbert Johnson (son of the late managing partner of Lincoln, Bennett, & Co., and himself for seventeen years with that firm), who has his place at 45, New Bond Street. His father was one of the best known and appreciated of leading West End tradesmen; always courteous and obliging; and the son is no less so and every way deserving of your patronage. He is a most capable and painstaking professor in this department of Dress, and is credited with being one of the most successful.
In the other direction, eastward of Regent Circus, at Nos. 105-107-109, Oxford Street, you will find Henry Heath's larger establishment; a veritable magazine of Hats and various kindred parts of a gentleman's wardrobe, where every style of head-covering may be studied, and every whim of a purchaser is duly taken account of in the matter of fitting and adapting. A wise man will always have his hat made for him, and not purchase it ready-made. Heath's is a large manufactory of hats, and therefore at once admits of the most liberal order being readily completed.
In the "delicate" and costly matter of jewellery, we cannot but call to mind Mr. George Edward, of Piccadilly (corner of Albemarle Street), as a man of knowledge and excellent taste, fair dealing, and well known to many customers in London and the North: a gentleman who always has an attractive show of the prettiest things suitable alike for a gentleman or a lady.
Thus much on the essential parts of a Gentleman's dress, and the Shops known to us in London where he may be sure of being dealt with fairly and honestly if he takes his custom their way.
For cigars, Fribourg & Treyer, of the Haymarket; Benson & Co., of 61, St. Paul's Churchyard, keeps a capital stock of the most popular brands; Benson & Hedges, of Old Bond Street; Carlin, of Regent Street; Grunebaum, of Old Bond Street, are among the best-known retailers.
Of Lunn & Co., Oxford Circus, all the paraphernalia of out- door, and other, sports and games may be bought. Especially do they take note of every requirement in the now fashionable game of Golf, played on almost every available stretch of common-land around London. We are advised that Lunn & Co. are of first-rate repute in their particular line of business, and make note herein of their name and address accordingly.
At John Piggott's , (117, Cheapside) you will find a huge, store-house of almost everything, retailed on the "No credit" system; which in plain English means moderately or cheaply. It would be difficult to say in what John Piggott does not deal. His is a kind of "Store" now in London so known, where most things in the way of gentlemen's clothing may be had, ready-made or otherwise; coats, trousers, hats, boots, hosiery, umbrellas, water-proof and rubber goods; and bags, portmanteaus, articles of the toilette, cricket, football, and lawn-tennis requisites, colonial outfits, etc., etc. His illustrated catalogue is a publication worth looking through, alike by the economical, and those needing such things as we have enumerated "on the instant," as people say. Neither Ball-room tents, nor photographic apparatus come amiss to John Piggott, who is one of the more enterprising traders of London of To-Day.
For fur coals, rugs, and the like; or for a little present of Russian sable, black fox, or silver otter, or any other matter of dress in the same line, for wife, sister, cousin, or any one else, you cannot do better than to go to 163-165, Regent Street, the International Fur Store which every one knows.
For field-glasses, telescopes, opera-glasses, and optical instruments generally, there is Mr. Steward, Optician , of the Strand, long and favourably known to riflemen, sportsmen and others for his excellent field-glasses, etc.
For guns, there are the well-known firms of Purdey & Son, of South Audley Street; Westley Richards, of Bond Street; Grant, of St. James' Street; Bland, of the Strand (corner of King William Street); and J. & W. Tolley, of Conduit Street. We believe Purdey has the first reputation in England.
Charles Eyre Pascoe, 1892