Cover Stories

What makes a man stylish now?

You don’t have to work in fashion to know how to dress. Meet six Londoners with serious personal style as they demonstrate the season’s big trends – and discuss what true style means today

Bastion of style and Savile Row tailor Hardy Amies once said: ‘A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.’

The Italians call this sprezzatura or a ‘studied carelessness’ when dressing, often demonstrated through a rakishly fastened tie with the slimmer end left intentionally longer or, in the case of the unofficial king of sprez, car magnate Gianni Agnelli, a watch worn over the cuff of his dress shirt. The subtext here being that for a man to be invested in the way he looks or to talk to others about how he’s made an effort is in some way inappropriate; it seems to challenge what it is to be masculine.

However, whether we acknowledge it or not, every one of us looks to other men for style inspiration; and increasingly, for us here at The Jackal, these men are not necessarily in the fashion industry.

However, whether we acknowledge it or not, every one of us looks to other men for style inspiration; and increasingly, for us here at The Jackal, these men are not necessarily in the fashion industry.

That’s why, for our first-ever Style Issue, we have brought together six London-dwellers from very different walks of life, all united by superb, yet diverse, senses of personal style. These are the men who we feel are true style influencers, who every man can take some form of wardrobe inspiration from.

As these men talk about their relationship with what they wear – as well as demonstrating how this autumn’s best trends can translate across age, career and sartorial sensibility – we hope each of them will inspire you to shake things up for the new season and dress in whatever way makes you feel your most confident.

Aldo Kane & Solomon Golding

Scottish-born Aldo Kane (left), 41, is a Royal Marine turned explorer and broadcaster who’s gone to some of the most extreme places on Earth

Solomon Golding (right), 26, is a ballet dancer and founder of The House of Solomon, which helps artists collaborate across diverse genres

Aldo Kane (left): Jumper, £415 by Paul Smith at matchesfashion; Trousers, £180 by The Gigi at matchesfashion; Sneakers, £170 by Grenson. Solomon Golding (right): Trench coat, £1,230 by Paul Smith; Trousers, £630 by Giorgio Armani; T-shirt, £75 by Hamilton and Hare; Sneakers, £175 by Russell & Bromley

The Jackal: You both have careers where your clothes have to be very practical. Does that affect how to dress outside of work?

AK: With my career, since I joined the Marines at 16 through to now in more extreme climates, what I wear often is the difference between me living and dying. Clothing is the barrier between you and the environment, so for me, whether I’m in the Arctic, in the jungle, at sea, wherever, clothes are about survival and protection. But you can still look good – in theory.

SG: I mean ballet is exactly the same with the life and death thing [laughs]. When I was at ballet school, we were very much naked in the sense that what we had to wear for performing was very exposing – the whole point is that you’re seen. So now, when I’m training, I prefer to be covered up, but also able to move – in baggy tracksuits and jerseys – because I’ll be wearing next to nothing on stage.

And of course, you’re being put in a costume…

SG: Yes, part of it is wrestling back a bit of my image through what I train in. I have very little control over what I dance in on stage, and it’s often supremely uncomfortable.

Does this idea of necessity in the way you dress for your career influence how you dress off duty as well, Aldo?

AK: Very definitely. I used to live in outdoor kit when it wasn’t my job, whereas now I come home and all that gets packed away. I’m slowly getting to the point of being more interested in what I wear. It’s new for me – I’ve always worn uniforms.

So you’re going through a sort of style adolescence now?

AK: Yes. I was told what to wear in the Marines for 10 years, then went to an offshore oil rig where you’re wearing overalls and hard hats pretty much all day. It has been difficult to break away from that, but I am now trying to foray into different things. I’m getting married soon and I’m working with Harris Tweed to make a jacket and waistcoat, and I’ve got Glenisla making me a bespoke kilt.

When can you both first remember being aware of what ‘style’ was?

SG: I was raised by a Jamaican, and Caribbean culture is so rooted in style. For men, there’s a lot of peacocking – there’s a lot of colour. You might not think it, but there are similarities between the military and dance here: it’s very disciplined and strict, and we are always told what to wear. But ballet has taken me to lots of different places that have informed my style. I graduated from the Royal Ballet School and moved to Hong Kong for a year when I was 19 and the style in Hong Kong was a lot more androgynous than I’d seen in the UK – very expressive and avant garde. That got me experimenting. I work in a conservative, rigid industry so I cherish being outlandish outside of that.

AK: For me, being brought up on the west coast of Scotland and going into the Marines young, I didn’t really experience personal style outside of school – and the schoolkids I knew wore tracksuit bottoms and trainers. So I really first became more aware of style when I moved to London relatively recently.

SG: Also I’m a bit of a troll. When I go to an event, I wear platform shoes and people say, ‘Well you can’t dance in those!’ and I’m like, ‘That’s the point!’

What is style to you?

AK: Style is your own unique way of interacting with the world – it’s how I want the world to see me and how I want to be portrayed. It’s weird, even if I’m in a situation where I’m somewhere totally remote, it’s still important for me to look good as it instils confidence in the people I’m with that I can do my job. Even in the most extreme environments, style is still a thing.

SG: It’s interesting, the psychology of it. I love seeing how people interact with me based on what I’m wearing. I’ve been in situations where people feel threatened by how I look and others where people feel incredibly comfortable because of it. I’m from a council estate in Tottenham and I’ve seen first-hand that what you wear can get you access to places – it can make people assume you belong somewhere, even if on paper you don’t. My dad knew this. He was always very strict about me wearing my school uniform as he used to say that, as a young black kid, you are always on the back foot, you are always having to prove yourself. Your clothes tell a story even without saying a single word.

Fei Wang & Huw Edwards

Originally from China, Fei Wang (left), 38, is an illustrator known for the stylish men he sketches on his Instagram account @mr.slowboy

Huw Edwards (right), 58, is one of the UK’s most accomplished news anchors, a suit aficionado and a recent boxing convert

Fei Wang (left): Polo shirt, £145 by John Smedley; Trousers, £175 by DAKS; Loafers, £185 by Loake. Huw Edwards (right): Blazer (part of suit), £625 by Hackett; Shirt, £135 by DAKS; Belt, £64 by La Boucle; Trousers, £150 by Hackett; Chelsea boots, £195 by Russell & Bromley

The Jackal: You have jobs that involve a lot of suits. Were you into tailoring before it was necessitated by your careers?

FW: I used to work in advertising, which had nothing to do with tailoring – people used to wear T-shirts and shorts to the office. It was definitely my personal interest that led to me drawing suits. I think my interest in them started when I first watched Mad Men in around 2008. I had never seen so much tailoring in a drama series before, and, being in advertising at the time myself, the way these men were dressing in my industry was so alien to me. At that time, we were losing respect from our clients because they saw the more casual way our office was dressing as a lack of professionalism. I knew that wearing a suit would help me with clients in that climate – that was the starting point for me.

HE: I wasn’t that interested until I started presenting on TV, then I had to be interested because people expect you to be dressed with a certain level of formality, and usually that means tailoring of some sort. However, because your outfit is rather prescriptive as a television journalist, I like to see what I can do within that to show some individualism. I love it when men and women want to find out more about my outfit – it’s a nice feeling to know people take as much as an interest as I do.

It seems that viewers feel entitled to openly critique what broadcast journalists wear. Is that horrid?

HE: It’s not horrid at all. I like that people pay attention. If people don’t like my tie, then that’s that. People say nice things usually. Yes, you make some bad choices, but to be confident in your own style is important. People send me ties to wear, can you believe it? One lady sent me a tie that looked like a piano keyboard that she hoped I’d wear on the Six O’Clock News, as it was then, as she’d read somewhere that I was a pianist. It was a nice tie, but it didn’t make it on air as it wasn’t quite right.

Do you have an innate sense of what is appropriate to wear on TV?

HE: It’s instinctual. You can’t be in loud colours or  anything too fashion-focused or something that says you’re in party mode as lots of the stuff you’re sharing with people is the exact opposite of that. So you have more restrictions on you than if you were presenting another type of programme – but it’s part of the challenge and I like the challenge. It’s the reason I have boxes and boxes of ties at home.

And what about your suits for TV? Are you regularly on Savile Row getting new ones made?

HE: [laughs] I spread it around a bit. I find it a bit suspicious when people say they always go to the same place. I’ve bought suits from Anderson & Sheppard, Richard James, Henry Poole – and I love Italian tailors. There’s one that comes into London every month from Varese in northern Italy called Vergallo. They’ve made me four suits over the years and they’re excellent. Much as I love an English suit, I sometimes find the trousers a little baggy and Italians tend to cut them a little slimmer. But, because of my boxing, my shape has changed a lot recently.

Yes, now that you’ve taken up boxing, you must be as much an aficionado of technical sportswear as you are of suits?

HE: [laughs] Well, a little bit, but you can spend an absolute fortune on it. The thing with my boxing gym in East Dulwich/Camberwell is that it’s not a ‘Mayfair personal fitness’ kind of place. If I turned up in some ‘outfit’, I’d look out of place and feel a bit of an idiot. The guys there pitch up in whatever they’ve got, so I do the same. When it comes to technical stuff, I’ll wear some Welsh rugby kit, and maybe a bit of Björn Borg as I do need a few bits that breathe well – I’m very, very sweaty.

Fei, you sketch a lot of stylish men for Instagram. What inspires you to draw the people you draw?

FW: The people I draw have a certain character and a style I like to put into my drawing. I’m always getting inspired – just now I sketched one of your colleague in a green cap as I found his style so instinctive [Editor’s note: this is Dale, The Jackal’s Social Media Editor – follow him and his hats on Instagram at @dalelyster].

Does it influence how you dress?

FW: I don’t believe so. I try to intentionally keep a distance between my role models and myself so I can find my own way and make my own choices.

Who have you really loved sketching over the years?

FW: Michael Hill from Drake’s. I’ve always loved his style. He’s quite brave to put all those bold colours in his looks, as you need a lot of courage to do that in a conservative commercial world.

HE: I love Drake’s. I tell you what they used to do, they used to sell shirts that were branded cleverly – light blue, fantastically high quality with a lovely sheen and drape to them. I’ve worn them to death. I’ve bought loads of Drake’s ties over the years – I used to buy them over in the workshop near Old Street from Michael Drake when he still owned it, years before the Clifford Street shop opened.

Whose style do you admire, Huw?

HE: Oh, definitely Jeremy Hackett’s. Even if I meet him for lunch, he’ll arrive looking impeccable in a suit with an umbrella. What I like about him is he’s fastidious about detail. He cuts a very elegant, very English figure.

When can you remember first being aware of what style was?

FW: When I was eight or nine, I had to make a trip from China to Europe to demonstrate my Chinese painting, so my mother brought me to a tailor to get a checked three-piece suit made. However I didn’t have any leather shoes at the time, so I wore trainers with it. If you think about fashion now, I was doing athleisure 30 years ago!

HE: My kids are going to hate me for this. When I was about 15 in the Seventies, I loved watching Starsky & Hutch. Starsky had a long cardigan, with a pattern on it and a tie around the centre that he used to wear with jeans. I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, and I begged my mum for one for Christmas. I wore it all the way up to me going to university, then my sister begged me not to take it – so I didn’t. Honestly, it would be so on trend now.

Jackson Boxer & Nikesh Patel

Jackson Boxer (left), 34, is a renowned chef and the brains behind London culinary landmarks like St Leonards, Orasay and Brunswick House

Nikesh Patel (right), 33, is an actor who’s recently hit the big time as the lead in Hulu’s TV remake of cult rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral

Jackson Boxer (left): Bomber jacket, £750 by Valstar at mrporter.com; Rollneck, £165 by John Smedley; Trousers, £175 by Mr P at mrporter.com; Shoes, £830 by Brunello Cucinelli; Socks, £12 by London Sock Co. Nikesh Patel (right): Shirt, £165 by Mr P at mrporter.com; Rollneck, £890 by Ralph Lauren Purple Label; Trousers, £165 by Mr P at mrporter.com; Boots, £445 by Tricker’s; Socks, £12 by London Sock Co

The Jackal: You both have careers where clothes are prescribed by the work you do. Does that make you bolder with your choices outside of this?

NP: I’ve become bolder as a result. I’m not innately a peacock, so the beauty of being in a job where you get to step into different worlds is that your ‘real life’ gets informed by that. I did a show that was set in the Thirties and I became far more aware of tailoring because of that. Sometimes what you bring to a script isn’t dialogue, it’s about how that character looks and the details you add.

Does that make you consider the details of your own ‘character’?

NP: Without wanting to get too philosophical, I play characters as if they were me, so what is that different thing I am bringing to this character that no other actor will? Whoever I’ve played stays with me long after that role has ended, and that might be a styling thing. I look forward to the shedding of skin with the next role.

JB: I think that analogy of acting is true for me, too. In my teens, I was always ‘dressing up’, either dressing up to look like an adult or to look like someone I liked in music or film. At 16, clothes were the only real way to express myself, as I didn’t really have the vocabulary to articulate it in any other way. Now, in my 30s, I think the way I dress is informed differently by my work – it’s become incredibly pragmatic. It’s less about dressing in clothes to perform as a certain type of person to my clothes becoming an extension of what I do as my work is so physical.

Do you wear chef’s whites in the kitchen?

JB: No I wear a T-shirt, jeans and boots. Whites are used by some chefs to create a uniform, which I’m slightly resistant to. I think it’s very easy for some younger chefs to adopt some of the more pedantic elements of kitchens. I prefer a much less ostentatiously ‘chef-y’ way of dressing for my team because the whole point is to take their craft, not themselves, seriously. I like to have a focus on the food, not a veneration of us ourselves.

Were you aware of ‘style’ as a kid?

NP: Growing up in Wembley, I used punk rock for self-expression – lots of ripped denim and baggy shirts. I had a really unfortunate bleaching incident when I asked my mum to dye my hair and I ended up with this bright orange landing strip down the centre of my head. But I got a real thrill out of how it changed the way people looked at me.

JB: The only two programmes I was allowed to watch as a kid were Thunderbirds and Top of the Pops. Pretty much my entire style vocabulary now is somewhere between early Nineties proto-Brit Pop and Gerry Anderson.

Thunderbirds is legitimately one of the most stylish shows ever made.

JB: It really is! I was watching it with my son the other day and it’s still so chic – all that amazing Atomic Age tailoring.

What does style mean to you today?

JB: These days it’s anything that allows me free movement. When I was younger (and skinnier), fitted things gave me comfort – I felt sharp and smart and boxed in. Now it’s in loose-fitting, relaxed and roomy clothing that I feel at my most physically comfortable and expressive.

NP: For me, it’s a growing appreciation of fit and cut. Whether it’s a suit or a good sherwani, when it fits you properly it just does something to you. I feel trends are a bit like horoscopes: if you like one, you’ll have a bit of it and if you don’t agree with one, you’ll dismiss it as complete bollocks.

What’s a great piece of style advice you’ve been given?

JB: Is style something you can advise on? The whole glorious thing about style is it’s entirely self-learnt. There’s a line between vanity and narcissism, but a bit of vanity’s alright – we should be able to take pleasure and be comfortable in the way we look. I hate that idea that very serious, ambitious people have only one type of outfit because it’s one less thing to think about – that’s absolute nonsense.

Originally published in the September 2019 issue of The Jackal. Miss your copy? Subscribe to have it delivered to your door.