A couple of weeks ago we were wandering around Liberty and ended up down in the basement looking at their eclectic mix of patterned shirts. My guide tried to get me to succumb to the allure of a more colourful and exciting wardrobe and suggested that I should at least try one or two of the patterned creations while grinning and pointing at some of the more garish example more suitable for an African despot rather than a charming and stylish man like myself!
I explained that “back in the day” (~1992-93) I owned a selection of “loud shirts” inspired by the great MTV and Ray Cokes. Once I started consulting however I swiftly adopted the corporate uniform of a management geek – and although I have been fortunate to wear proper made-to-measure designer variants for the last 10-15 years, and despite the usual attempt at being daring with the colourful silk linings my style could never be described as anything but modern conservative (ie. dull to the more creatively minded). I did go mad with a couple of brightly striped shirts from Curtis & Hawes for a while but generally my shirts have been of the plain or faintly patterned variety.
So clearly I do believe that I have some daring in me, but David Bowie I’m not (however much I’d like to be!), nor am I Dermot Watson – my long suffering colleague who has had the piss taken out of him by my good self for many years due to his passion for vintage, liberty print shirts and green three-piece tweed suits.
However, after much contemplation and driven on by the need to replenish a rapidly diminishing selection of shirts I decided that I would indeed go back to Liberty (with my very own personal shopper and style consultant) and try on a selection of mind expanding garments. Before I did however I felt compelled to seek D’s blessing which, being the lovely chap that he is, he duly gave.
The expedition started off as a complete disaster as none of the shirts that Liberty had in stock at the time where at all suitable – so downbeat and disheartened we headed over to Selfridges to see if inspiration would strike there. As it happened they had all the shirts from Liberty, Duchamp and Paul Smith that we had seen on that first outing.
Disappointingly however, I had overlooked the key reason why I switched to made-to-measure all those years ago – the fitting on all of these shirts was shockingly bad and the sleeves were at least 2 inches too short! Apparently I am a freak – and that may be right, but it is also a well known fact that I can get truly upset when shirts don’t fit properly…
So monumentally depressed I slouched over to the Ted Baker concession where one last possibility had been spotted and lo! – there it was – the perfect patterned shirt that fitted (almost) perfectly!
This image from the Ted Baker website is so cheesy that I just had to include it but hopefully the detail image shows the simple but lovely pattern.
The quality of the fabric and finishing is no more than adequate, and for £90 I would expect much better – but I was getting desperate and it was no worse quality than the £130 Duchamp which made me look like I had monkey arms! Proper quality shirts from my favourite brand Zegna are now retailing at £250+ which made me take a sharp intake of breath and replace on the shelf immediately. No matter how good the quality and how desirable they might be; paying that amount of money for a shirt without proper exhaustive research is folly!