Sunday, 31 January 2010

Earning my stripes...

E. Tautz SS10...winning the battle of the stripes...

Cast your mind back to the end of September and you might recall that I found myself trapped between the stripes of two very different interpretations of a wardrobe staple, the Breton top. Those all too familiar signature blue and white stripes were originally the garb of French sailors and fishermen but the lightweight chambray cotton versions have since become a symbol of classic cool. The traditional loose fit, wide neck and dropped shoulders that we all know and love, caught the eye of Gabrielle Chanel during a trip to the beach, or so the story goes (as demonstrated in Coco Before Chanel), and she copied the look to kick start a fashion craze and association with style which has never really subsided. During the SS10 Menswear Day presentations at LFW my brain was torn by two incarnations of the classic Breton by E. Tautz and Sibling respectively. I ended up making the correct decision with my more classic style aesthetic winning out...

E. Tautz's Breton is hand made in Great Britain.

Before I wax lyrical about the winning effort, I have to say a few words about the effort which pushed it to right to the very last stripe. Susie loved Sibling's warped take on the Breton in particular and her enthusiasm was infectious. Sibling's knitwear pieces frequently combine timeless qualities and tongue-in-cheek references, all expertly knitted with fine gauge precision that never ceases to surprise me. For their Breton, Sibling collaborated with artist Noah Scalin (of askulladay.com) to incorporate his skull patternation into the stripes perfectly. As persuasive as this collaboration was my desire to have a more classic example of the Breton won through, it just had to to be the E. Tautz version. After placing my order back in November I patiently waited for the Welsh grannies to create my early Christmas present (to myself). Last Friday I got the email that I had been hoping for and nipped down to Savile Row to pick up the piece which had been a recurrent subject of my day dreaming (for some months). The timing was perfect because I was escaping London for a quiet weekend by the Kentish coast and the jumper made a welcome addition to my already bulging suitcase....

Breton jumper by E. Tautz, trousers by Maison Martin Margiela and brogue boots by Lodger.

In a piece on Permament Style, Simon Crompton spoke to Patrick Grant who affirmed that “the stripes on a traditional Breton sweater shouldn’t break into the neckline, The first one should start just below, right across the chest. Jerseys, and those made by machine, rarely achieve this as they are made from just a single pattern." It is easily achieved however, if like E. Tautz's version, it is hand knitted. I keep describing this as a classic example of the Breton but, there is a contemporary twist, sections taken out of the stripes on the arms of the sweater. This, like the rest of the collection demonstrates chic menswear combined with a sense of humour, a sense of Englishness that has been lost over the years. The revived house strives to make stylish clothes to which a wardrobe can be built from. Patrick hopes that in "in ten years time I'd like to think that there are customers who have built a wardrobe of E Tautz, that allows them to dress beautifully every single day of the year, whatever the weather," I'd certainly love to be such a gentlemen and build on my first piece of E. Tautz.

Braving the wind with the Breton jumper by E. Tautz and trousers by Maison Martin Margiela

As mentioned previously, the SS10 E. Tautz collection took inspiration from a set of photographs of the Duke of Windsor holidaying on the island of Mallorca in the 1930’s. Patrick Grant and his team explored the whole idea of an Englishman enjoying life on the Mediterranean in the summer and the Breton look really caught my attention. It encapsulates how well an Englishman can look abroad, the relaxed, almost nonchalant tailoring is a million miles away from the larger lout beach dwellers that come to mind today. There was one photograph in particular which inspired the Breton look above. It was of the Duke of Windsor sitting cross legged wearing a beautiful Breton jumper with rolled up ivory flannels and a pair of espadrilles. With biting winds and freezing temperatures I could not quite replicate this picture of summer serenity but I did my best. Now, comparing Westgate-on-sea during the bitter cold month of January to the Mediterranean at the height of Summer is madness but my trip did provide an opportunity to beach test my latest purchase...

In need of another layer..Custom made suit jacket by j.a.daye worn with polka dot pocket square from Muji, Breton jumper by E. Tautz, trousers by Maison Martin Margiela and brogue boots by Lodger.

15 comments:

Percy said...

Very nice jumper. Topman have a crew a bit like this that always tempts me but it's just not quite right stripes start bit too low down for me and the fits not quite ideal... Any idea where you can get a niceish one without the help of worker grannies?

-Percy

pauperthreads.wordpress.com

Style Salvage Steve said...

Percy: Thank you! It is surprisingly warm as well and stood up firm against the chilly Northerly winds. I came across a nice one over on Albam but I've just checked and it is no longer available. Oi Polloi have a nice version knitted by Saint James at £90 or a more sailor-esque crew by Guy Cotton at a ore pound friendly £39. How do these sound?

Michael said...

Nice look. I can see your nipples. And I kind of fancy them:)

Anastasia said...

Love this sweater. I had a look at the Sibling one too and Susie was right, it is great, but I think this one is a wardrobe classic. Might check out the St James one you mentioned above, loving their knitwear...

Duck

Style Salvage Steve said...

Michael: That comment made me spit out some of my coffee on my office keyboard! Ha! What can I say..it was a cold bur bright January morning and I failed to pack my heattech layers.
Anastasia: Daniel Jenkins will soon have the Sibling Breton online for purchase and I will have to hide my debit card from myself.

Cozette said...

So nice to read that you liked the SIBLING Skull Breton... and no worries about prefering the more classic one as well, SIBLING Sid often consults :-)

And yes... Anastasia is right!

Make Do Style said...

Good choice - I'm such a sucker for stripes I would have been greedy. Hide the card well.

Style Salvage Steve said...

Cozette: Hey, thanks for dropping by! it was a hard choice. We will be dropping you an email at some point this week. Speak to you soon.
Make Do Style: Ha, who knows how long my resolve will last..I've always been good at hide and seek.

If Jane said...

i love stripes...i am always charmed by them...and boys can never wear enough of them..i am convinced...;))

Percy said...

very tempted by you guy cotton suggestion for that price!
cheers,
-Percy

Kin said...

It's gotta be SIBLING of course!
Steve, on a different note, did you get that email I forwarded from Robert Geller's PR in NYC about the show? (lucky bugger you) Kin

Albert Alba said...

who makes those glasses in the top photo? Are they costalots?

Alexxander said...

nice blooog, so brillant I link u noooow!

Alexx from Spain.

Anonymous said...

The striped jumper is indubitably good-looking and quite right for the setting. However, in my opinion, that smart jumper and the trousers do not go well together in view of proportion and colour.

Firstly, the jumper is rather casual and close-fitting and does not pair harmoniously with pleated and rather voluminous trousers - essentially formal, I might add.

Second, navy and white/cream garments, such as the jumper you are wearing, establish harmonious combinations only when paired with another garment that is either navy or white/cream.

My compliments on your blog!

Ghostboy said...

If I had to pick, I'd choose to only wear E. Tautz for the rest of my life. So incredibly elegant, truly refined.

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