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When we choose our shoes, jackets, tops, in fact anything we sell, one of the major considerations is what will it be worn with and where. Below you can see a few of the items we sell together. We thought you would like it.
When we choose our shoes, jackets, tops, in fact anything we sell, one of the major considerations is what will it be worn with and where. Below you can see a few of the items we sell together. We thought you would like it.
There has always been an admirable style associated with some of the most notorious people of the 20th Century. Much of this comes from a glorification via both Media and the big-screen, which both fuel people’s passion for their nefarious (if mostly white-washed) exploits.
Part of the appeal is that for a society that is so divided by wealth (and Class in the UK) that to see someone circumvent their preordained place in society on their own terms is deemed a thing to be admired. Naturally that comes with displays of that ‘success’ not least in terms of their dress sense.
Tailored clothing especially at a high-end tailor would have been the preserve of the wealthy, but with money to burn and the sheer need to impose themselves on wider society, great pride would be taken in going to the top stylists of the day. The pictures we are familiar with of the great mobsters of the 20’s and 30’s such as Al Capone, ‘Lucky’ Luciano, John Dillinger et al all show them with Fedora Hats, silver-topped canes, spats, immaculate three-piece suits, silver fobs, pocket silks and cashmere overcoats. This outward display was a measure of their successes. Dressed to the nines like this they felt at home rubbing shoulders with the high society they felt they belonged with.
This side of the pond, between the Wars and having spent time in trenches with their social betters and realising that very little was different between the ‘them and us’ in terms of getting gassed and shot at it was no wonder that this emulation of a better social status continued. TV show Peaky Blinders is a showcase for how city-dwelling gangsters of that era emulated the higher classes in their Tweed three pieces (country/leisure wear for the sporting sort) augmented with precious fobs and highly polished brogue-boots. Gone were the poor made functional tailoring and hob-nail boots of the industrial heartlands of the Midlands at the earliest opportunity, with only the peaked caps (albeit now made in matching cloth to the suits) a nod to their past.
Post World War Two and with a country handicapped by rationing in both food AND clothing, it was again the leading figures of the Underworld who flaunted their disdain for the social constrictions of the day. Jack ‘Spot’ Cromer, Billy Hill, Albert Dimes and Charles Sabbini all flaunted their ‘outrageous’ style in the nightspots and at the race-tracks. Silk scarves, jewelled cufflinks, diamond pins with handmade highly polished shoes are prevalent in many of their pictures of the day. ‘Clean living in difficult circumstances’ as became the phrase for another group who used style to challenge their social place!
The sixties were probably the heyday of ‘Gangsters as celebrity’. The decade that finally (if only on a surface level) broke the down the social barriers that had been threatening since the revolutions of the early 20th Century. It is no wonder that ‘leading lights’ such as the Krays were house hold names. Their celebrity status was further assured when they too were chosen to have their photos taken by the leading photographer of the day (also working-class lad ‘made good’) David Bailey. Their suits are actually a throw back to the bygone Gangsters of the 20’s and 30’s. Two-piece as the times dictated but instead of being a la mode, slim-cut, waisted with narrow and high break lapels. They are broad shouldered one or two button jackets with pleated (rather than flat-fronted) trousers. The suits them selves seem to say ‘Yes we’re Gangsters – so what!?’ – An attitude that society felt sufficiently threatened by to actual deal with latterly in the decade, along with many of their contemporaries of the day, like as The Richardson’s and The Great Train Robbers.
Since that time and perhaps like all good things coming to an end, it’s a shame that this ostentatious style is now more about outward displays of wealth (numerous thick gold chains, designer labels, flash cars) rather than pure style for the sake of it. It is however still readily available for those who look for those stylistic clues so slavishly. Films of and about the era are a fantastic place to start for the style-obsessed. Michael Caine’s suit in The Italian Job when he comes out of the lift is a thing of absolute beauty – the tailor (Doug Haywood) actually gets a nod in the credits too and rightly so! In fact, Charlie Crocker’s wardrobe throughout the film is exceptional. The cream suit with brown tie when seeing Lorna on to the plane, the suede double breasted coat when watching his beloved E-type getting mangled are just two cracking examples.
More recent film Gangster No 1 with David Bettany goes as far as actually doing a whole monologue on the quality of Gangster David Thewlis’ style and dress sense – there is another great scene where he is given a wad of cash and told to smarten himself up – a shot that apes Michael Caine’s appearance from out the lift with a sly nod to James Fox in Performance.
There is of course more to Gangster style than just suits. Check out the Italian Knitwear in Goodfellas. Beautiful summer-weight wool Ban-Lon tops worn with pristine white T shirts, sharp trousers and shoes. The casual clothes in American Gangster with Denzil Washington are superb too and all the films listed above are well worth checking out, and not just for the wardrobe.
Too often the ‘glamour’ of their lifestyle is over-played and the nasty side of their exploits are glossed over, but I think using style as a weapon is never a bad thing, but maybe keep it to simply dressing like you’re going somewhere better later…
In 1963 as the mercurial Soho Modernist gave way to a newer younger Mod and a full year before Media interest and bank holiday notoriety a couple of novelty dance records highlighted the shift from gutsier Hell-bound Rhythm and Blues to a sweeter, more sanctified Soul. Both the Curtis penned Monkey Time by Major Lance and the sublime Mickey’s Monkey by The Miracles crashed into the top ten pop charts. It is perhaps no wonder the young dance obsessed crowd also took to the collegiate varsity aping (no pun intended) jacket known as the Monkey Jacket.
The origins (like much in the way of Mod) are vague and often apocryphal however it is most likely that it got its name from the short waisted naval jackets that were once baggy but were latterly elasticated at the neck, waists and cuffs which would have been considerably safer for those sailors who went by the name of ‘Rigging Monkeys’, by dint of their fearless and speedy climbing.
Another story that does the rounds is that it gave a shorter bodied look that resembled the military style jackets that so often adorned an organ grinders monkey. Military jackets and especially Dress jackets though, had been short in length for many years (and still are) and those on our primate friends were no shorter in scale.
American teen movies were popular in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Their bold block-coloured Varsity Jackets so often with its Ivy college crest and a large sewn on letter (hence the phrase Letterman jacket), would have been very sought after but nigh on impossible to get. This side of the pond ‘Harrington’ jackets; a Baracuta G9 named after the popular tv character Rodney Harrington in Peyton Place, were equally desired and they also came in an array of strong colours and a striking tartan lining but were not readily affordable; and only available at limited stockists such as John Simon’s Ivy Shop at Richmond Hill.
The French and Italian youth had a similar elasticated wind-cheater called a ‘blouson’ which would also have appealed to our young style obsessives. This was often made of a lighter satin material and was blousier and baggier than the American jackets, but again at those times would not have been so easy to come by. Mods however were nothing if not resourceful…
Our brief tale returns to a military bent. It is not improbable that these ‘monkey jackets’ were discovered, like the increasingly ubiquitous parka, in military stores. Army PT jackets, often white in colour (again a popular Mod colour) had a similar elasticated waist and cuffs but had the added attraction of bold red and blue piping. Like most Army surplus stores these items would have been much more affordable. This magpie trait of Mods is one of its finest legacies. The Mod appropriation of Sports wear from Fred Perry polo’s, cycling tops, to boxing boots, bowling shoes and Adidas training shoes defined the new street style craze so prevalent on Ready Steady Go and the lurid Bank Holiday headlines.
Naturally from this media explosion that soon followed savvy manufacturers began creating their own versions with differing colours and complementing bold piping. Peter Meaden even got a young Pete Townsend and Keith Moon sporting one in his Mod Makeover as part of the High Numbers. Its been a staple of the Mod wardrobe ever since.
“You get yours ‘cause I got mine”
Three steps to heaven.
There are a thousand quotes regarding style and nearly all of them mention shoes. There is a reason for this, of course. Shoes are the foundation of an outfit; the building blocks if you will. If you’re looking at getting the right shoes for your outfit, you are approaching things from the wrong end.
Shoes are like magic; alchemy, they define the wearer and the wearer’s attitude. They are an outward expression of intent. What do you wish to say for yourself? How do you feel? More importantly; how do you want to feel? As the French say ‘Le Style est l’homme meme’ which roughly translated means ‘Style is the man himself’
Where you start of course, is where you want to be. There are classic shoes. Classic for a reason. An Oxford lace up, best worn polished and in black and instantly you are smarter of appearance. They are conservative, understated but never to be under estimated. Hardy Amies maxim of ‘A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them!’ is aimed fairly and squarely at the Oxford. They are the Cary Grant of shoes.
Your suit should be cut with the same understated elegance. Style like this does not need bells and whistles. Less is more! Solid of colour in black, dark blue or grey. Shirt should be white, pristine, virginal, spread collared and adorned with a single muted coloured silk tie. Adornments should be confined to a white Presidential folder pocket square. Cufflinks, if at all, should be discrete as should the watch.
This however may not be you – and what are clothes for if to not make you a better you?
So Classic no2 – The ultimate shoe of purpose; The Brogue.
Hey check this guy out…
You must admit the man walks with a sense of purpose. Like Lee Marvin in Point Blank. He looks like he’s going somewhere and he looks like he knows what he’s gonna do when he gets there.
It’s the shoes, see. Shoes of a man who has direction, he has drive, he has ambition. Solid, dependable, no-nonsense. Onwards, upwards, forwards, always forwards. The soles hit the ground and the ground stays hit, it’s the mark of the man.
What goes with a Brogue?
For a shoe with such purpose and direction it is the most versatile of shoe styles. A punch-holed sleight of hand masterpiece. The brogue itself comes in a range of colours and materials. A suede brogue with a soft shouldered jacket is as cool as a polished chestnut brogue with a Sports jacket. The rules of thumb for your outfit are two-fold.
Firstly, texture here is your friend. Knitted or woollen ties, both cotton or silk pocket squares will work. Oxford cotton shirts in plain or stripe. Jacket in tweed, check, corduroy or simply a plain blue blazer.
Which brings us on to rule of thumb No 2. Always pair up plain with fancy. A plain jacket allows for checked trousers. A checked jacket means plain trousers, or white Levis. You could of course wear denim with a brogue… but only if Jeremy Clarkson is your style Icon.
Rule no 3? Jeremy Clarkson should NEVER be your style Icon.
Classic shoe No 3, takes us from British and American self-assuredness to European élan by way of that most casual of shoes; and arguably an American Collegiate and Modernist essential; the Loafer.
Like the Brogue it comes in an array of materials, and if anything, an even wider range of colours. Unlike the previous two shoes, socks are now simply optional. The Loafer is famously based upon either Native American Indian footwear or Norwegian sailing shoes (hence Weejuns) depending on which of the famous stories you believe.
The Loafer also has a versatility that finds it equally at home as the foundation of the sharpest of Modernist suits its polished upper a mere kiss away from the finest of kid mohair; or with a turn-up chino a whole ankle away from its suede hipness; paired with a Brooks Brother’s oxford button down and a deconstructed soft-shouldered jacket or hell just the shirt. Get the foundations right and the possibilities are endless.
Endless possibilities in just three pairs of shoes. The understated purity of the Oxford lace-up; the intense purpose of the Brogue and the knowing casual elegance of the Loafer. As we said in the beginning ‘Less is More’.
There are of course a huge array of great shoes and boots available and the principles remain the same. Make it the foundation of your style; from the ground up, ‘from the floor-boards up’ as the Weller man say’s and he knows a thing or two about style.
My favourite style quote? ‘Style is looking like the your leading the parade, when in reality you’re being run out of town!’
It’s only been a fairly recent luxury with the internet and original Mods posting up rare and treasured photos from their sartorial heyday and stunningly researched tomes like Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson’s Mods the New Religion with its own incredible selection of images, that enable us to see just how amazing and innovative the clothing was; especially in light of what had gone before, its sixties peak.
Any fan of Modernist history and its Swinging London Carnabetion cousin though still likes to get their hands dirty though… (I suspect it’s the quality of the printing ink…) There is something about wading through vintage periodicals and magazines from the sixties that I find genuinely a pleasure. Stylistically even the adverts (irrespective of what’s being advertised) ache of the era. They are superbly illustrated and make me want to own the very shoes they stand up in… such is the power of advertising I guess!
The other great treasure trove are the music mags. Chief among these is Rave magazine which knowingly mixes up street Mod with Pop Star style and is a great barometer of the changing fashions as it runs through from early ’64 monochromatic Beatle/Cliff/Rolling Stones looks with its skinny black ties and matching trousers to the mind-expanding conscious exploding rage of colour with the aforementioned Fabs and Stones being two of those at the forefront of the kaleidoscopic riot as the decade progressed (to be fair even Cliff’s ties were paisley by this time) to the dichotomy between the more earthy, organic looks and the space-age futuristic at its end.
Browsing through them again and its hard not to get excited by the sheer dandified flare of the floppy hatted and sharp shod Brian Jones, the Velvet Victoriana of The Kinks and perhaps best of all those Darlings of the Whapping Wharf Landrette; Small Faces. In amongst the new pearly Kings and Queens of Lennon and McCartney (although check out George and Ringo for the best stuff!) is Dennis! Who he? You may well ask… well Just Dennis was the regular clothes feature that appears in Rave magazine and its clear that its largely sponsored by the boutiques of Carnaby Street and whilst much is known about the King of Carnaby Street, and Mod-Millionaire John Stephen whose clothes so defined an era, little is known about the most famous of shoe sellers; Stephen Topper of Toppers Shoes.
Toppers Shoes had a clientele of the good and the great with The Stones, The Who and The Small Faces regulars as well as international superstars who made a point of visiting their premises such as Jimi Hendrix and the new ‘Judas’; Bob Dylan. It is however great to read more recent articles on such web-pages as the Original Modernist FB page how much both Toppers shoes and rival (and next-door neighbour) Ravel were not just coveted but bought and actively worn on the high-street cat walks of the mid-sixties and beyond.
Toppers Shoes were already an established London concern with three branches in central London; one at 68 Queensway in W2 and the others at 34 Coventry Street and 57 Shaftesbury Avenue in W1. They made the leap into Swinging London folklore with a move to number 45 Carnaby Street under the stewardship of Stephen Topper the then still teenage son of the owner, in 1965.
Six months later they feature strongly in the ‘London Swings’ issue of Rave magazine in April ’66. They also make the two era defining guides the pop-art Illustrated Ravers Map of London and the Gear Guide – the Hip-pocket guide to Britain’s Swinging Fashion Scene which denote the opening of a second branch in Carnaby Street at No 9 which catered for both men and women in its ‘beautifully cool interior of weird purply shades’ unlike No 45 which catered for men only. Prices ranged from three pounds to ten Guineas for men and for the girls from three pounds to five pounds-fifteen for shoes and from five pounds to seven pounds-nineteen and six for boots.
It’s easy to see what was so attractive about the shoes. Designed by Stephen Topper himself and manufactured to a high standard in France, Italy and Spain they were intricate weaves of contrasting leather; almond toed perfection. Viewing the colour photos of Small Faces at this time and you can see the weaves in cream and olive and outrageous black and lilac.
Brian Jones, arguably the most flamboyant Stone also owned a pair. Contrasting fabrics and colours were a regular feature of his work and were the perfect complement to the rest of the clothes on Carnaby Street.
A selection of Just Dennis articles reveals the eclectic mix of styles; from Sand Suede boots with waterproof leather lining, also available in black leather and olive suede (Price £7 19. 6d – Nov 1966). Two-tone loafers and two-tone brogues in Macao canvas and leather (Price 85s. – Feb 1967). Similar shoes in red-brown and black leather were available the following year at £5 9s. 6d.
In August 1968 hessian slip-ons in Natural or Ice Blue were 59s 11d. Cord Boots in Camel or Brown also 59s. 11d and at a slightly cheaper 49s. 11d are Canvas slip-ons in White or Brown or lace-ups in Navy or Natural with all shoes being described as light-weight and ideal for the beach.
Toppers shoes marched into the 70’s and continued to reflect the times with stacked heals and more bulbous toes and headed South West to the Kings Road (again reflecting the transition of the fashion centre of the era) but by the late 1970’s Topper Shoes and Stephen Topper himself seem to have faded from view.
Thankfully the comparative ease of modern research and with the clear passion of some current manufacturers inspired by the innovation and style of Stephen Topper’s stunning shoe collections it is possible to once again buy shoes that make similar style statements. Who wouldn’t want to be in the elite company of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Dylan Hendrix and of course Small Faces.
Here is a preview of our ladies Autumn / Winter Collection. If you are seeing this, you were on the VIP list.
Here we have our Latest tights. We think these are just fab.
The year ended with the mini album Introducing The Style Council which was released only in Japan, Australia, Holland, Canada and the US containing their recorded output to date, but still sold well in Dutch Import sales alone.
‘Daylight turns to Moonlight and I’m at my best…’ is Mod captured in less than 10 words.
The first line of their 1984 single My Ever Changing Moods with its Isley Brothers soul-funk groove was another big hit (UK No 5), including for the first time the US where it reached top 30 – Weller’s highest single chart position there; before or since. The success of the single meant that their debut album Café Bleu released in March was renamed after the single in the US.
Café Bleu has got to go down in music history as one of the most surprising and eclectic albums of all time. It is a massive departure from The Jam (and indeed Rock in general) – It is a melting pot of the band’s influences musically and incredibly Weller (arguably the bands biggest draw) sings on less than half the tracks. The Hammond-cool opener Micks Blessing (similar to Moods B-Side Micks Company) is a great introduction its Jazz stylings and echoes throughout the album with its use of Jazzy chords and all out BeBop on the Steve White showcase Dropping Bombs on the White House.
Guest vocalists Tracey Thorn (from Everything but the Girl) adds her haunting tone to A Paris EP tune The Paris Match and Rapper Dizzy Heights appears on cod-rap (and probably one weak track) A Gospel. In amongst the jazzy-acoustic near solo numbers are reworked versions of Moods, Headstart For Happiness (featuring new band member D C Lee) and future single You’re the Best Thing before ending on another Hammond Workout Council Meetin’ – A truly stunning debut that (A Gospel aside) still sounds incredibly fresh and vibrant today.
Taken from the Album, You’re the Best Thing was the lead track to the Groovin’ single backed with track The Big Boss Groove a jazz-swing number complete with a wailing harmonica courtesy of Weller also charted at No 5, and up until the release of You Do Something To Me some 20 years later You’re The Best Thing was the go-to Weller Wedding song of choice, with its beautiful glissando guitar line and Curtis falsetto; it remains one of his most complete all-round songs.
Amazingly the run of incredible singles continued with soul stomper Shout To The Top, with a strident piano and uplifting lyric it reached number 7 in the charts. Perhaps a little at odds to the earlier singles was the use of Warsaw in the video with its purveying greyness and communist brutalist architecture showing the way to the following year of Miners, Militancy, Live Aid and Lenny Henry as well as an increasing political bent. The B-side, the haunting and sombre beneath the gun-towers love song of Ghosts of Dauchau was as sobering as the 12” companion The Piccadilly Trail, again flirting with homoerotic tension, was as uplifting with its summery percussion.
The Style Council became a household name across the World in 1985 and released their best-selling album Our Favourite Shop – it was a return (in part) to the intensity of The Jam albeit with perhaps more direct lyricism and less direct musical assault, and as brilliant as it is I can’t help but miss those first two years of incredible spiritually uplifting output and simple joie De Vivre that so defined their sound. It remains one of Weller’s favourite times musically ‘like being in a youth club’ as he once described it… and who doesn’t want to relive their youth every once and a while.
When the curtain came down on The Jam in late ’82 it was undoubtedly a relief for Weller. The intensity of their message was simply weighing too heavily on his young shoulders. The music just too constrictive for his burgeoning mind. It should have perhaps come as no surprise that his next musical venture was going to be lighter in tone.
What was perhaps most shocking was just how adventurous and carefree he sounded on those early singles and albums. Formed almost immediately after the demise of his former charges Weller joined forces with South West Londoner (and fellow Mod) Mick Talbot, who had already played on a couple of Jam tracks (including, single The Eton Rifles) to rage against the Rock machine that had gone before.
Taking MacInnes’ Absolute Beginner’s template to Modernism the duo eschewed Parka’s for continental Alan Delon style cream macs and the monochromatic punk-rock xerox machine palette was swapped for vivid spruce green shirts and pillar-box red summer-weight knitwear. Gone were the stage-shoes and white terri-towelling socks and in came horse-bit suede loafers and correspondence toned tassel loafers; shoes so beautiful that socks were simply not needed.
The gritty high-rise and dirty-grey London town backdrops to their photo shoots were replaced first by the artful and romantic Parisienne streets; all Gauloise smoke, bitter espresso’s and La Monde newspapers before succumbing to the sun-kissed azure skies and fields of gold spun wheat, wind-blown scarlet poppies and dancing effervescent waterfalls of Europe’s capitals. Truly; The Style Council were a band that were broadening their horizons.
Musically, the pair of passionate Modernists did what all Modernists should do and magpied the best of everything, whilst adding their own personal twist. Debut single Speak Like a Child (March ’83) was the opening salvo with its title taken either from Herbie Hancock’s ’68 Blue Note album or the possibly the single by Tim Hardin, both of whom were influencing the pair at the time; It had a joyful soul swing married to an organ groove that mined from Surrender to the Rhythm by Brinsley Schwarz. It’s light-hearted video atop an open-top bus around the desolate fields of Wales was a long way from the claustrophobic intensity of The Jam. It shot up the charts before nestling at number 4.
Money Go Round (Part’s one and two) followed just a couple of months later. It’s title a steal from The Kinks (Lola verses The Powerman and the Money Go Round LP) and despite its taut slap-bass funk groove, trombone hook and half rap half socialist rant it is perhaps closer to The Jam sound than even later hit single Walls Come Tumbling Down – it really wouldn’t have been out of place on The Gift; alongside Precious or Transglobal Express. Far better was the track hidden away on the reverse of the 12” Headstart For Happiness.
This beautiful uplifting song defines the spirit of the band like no other – the stunning lyrics were the new manifesto for the new breed:
‘Naïve and wise with no sense of time, as I set my clock with a heart-beat, tick tock
Violent and mild, common-sense say’s I’m wild, with this mixed up fury, crazy beauty…’
Lyrically Weller was in a purple patch, and the cinematic beauty of their next single, the bona-fide classic Long Hot Summer (title from 1958 Paul Newman film) was a huge hit across Europe – provisionally entitled the A Paris EP (plaintive pieces from the Parisian pair) it also contained one of Mick Talbot’s finest contributions Le Depart, which echoed the cinematic feel of the A-side.
Its video though was another nail in the Rock coffin – playful and coquettish and taking a visual lead from the homo-eroticism of Brideshead Revisited (not for the first time – check out the lyrics for Pity Poor Alfie) with a half-naked Weller fondling Mick Talbot’s earlobes to the synth bass-line soft bongo percussion of new drum lieutenant of just 17 summers Steve White – it had many a Jam fan spluttering into their Cappuccino. The single reached number 3 and became their highest chart position and deserved higher. A revisited and remixed version also charted in 1989.
Steve White also appeared on the follow-up single (and fourth in a year – imagine that now kids!!!) A Solid Bond In Your Heart, which like Money-Go-Round reached No 11, was another hark back to The Jam days. The song was actually written the year before and was vetoed as their swan-song in favour of The Beat Surrender. It sounded dated in comparison to what had preceded it and despite a wailing saxophone the four-to-the-floor Northern Soul stomp belonged a life-time away. Again, significantly better was the B-side It Just Came to Pieces in My Hands. Even the video seemed to be a throw-back to a Jam Mod image, although Weller’s hair in it is rightly considered as the definite Mod barnet.
Part Two To Follow
Here we have some pics of our shoes for our latest Instagram campaign. We thought you would like to see them
Shoes used in the Pictures
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