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Reader question: What should I buy in London?

6 July 2012

A typical ensemble at Trunk Clothiers

Dear Simon,

My name is David and I have been a fan of your work for quite a while now. As an undergraduate business student at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), I have gradually realised a passion for good style and writing – it should be no surprise that I am a dedicated reader!

I wanted to introduce myself because in less than a month, I will be in London to spend a summer studying at the London School of Economics. Originally from Los Angeles, I have never had the privilege of relatives or friends to visit in London. Surprisingly, I grew up influenced by a lot of the culture in the UK – nearly all the music and literature I enjoy come from your side of the pond. I was really hoping you could provide some advice when it comes to prioritizing my shopping. I realise this will probably be one of the only chances that I will have to spend a prolonged period in Europe and want to visit all the places that will have pieces I may not be able to get anywhere else. I am always willing to spend on quality pieces but I am still limited to some extent by a student budget (albeit backed by full-time work in industry).

For example, would you prioritize getting bespoke shirts or go with MTM? Would Crockett and Jones be a good place to pick up shoes?
I think my budget will be around $1,000 for a suit and maybe another $1,000 for everything else.

Thanks in advance and I really do appreciate any tips you may have for me so I can build a wardrobe, one with permanent style! J

David

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Hi David,

There are very few things available in London that you can’t get in the US, or order to be shipped over, but I think your priority should be experiencing as many of the English brands you like as possible, and perhaps have some tailoring done.

For example, I would certainly recommend Crockett & Jones shoes – my favourite is Edward Green, but I think that might eat up nearly all of your budget for ‘everything else’. So go visit the new C&J store on Jermyn Street, try on the various models of shoes and the sizes, until you get an idea of what you like. Then go to other stores of comparable brands – Cheaney, Tricker’s, Grenson.

By the time you leave, you want to feel that you know all the Northampton producers better than you ever could from the US, and perhaps walk away with a single pair from one of them, knowing you can order your second or third pairs in years to come given your experience of the models and sizes.

The next thing is to have a suit made, as this takes so much longer from the US. As always, I would recommend Graham Browne, as the best value bespoke tailor I know. A suit may be just over your $1000, but will be worth it, and you should be able to get two fittings in, with the final suit being sent to you in the US.

Beyond that, visit every storied London menswear store – Jobb Lobb on St James’s, Cleverley in the Royal Arcade, Turnbull & Asser, Lock’s, the whole of the Burlington Arcade, and any Savile Row tailor you feel you can go into and chat to. Other favourites of mine I would recommend are Trunk Clothiers (good for European brands you won’t get in the US), Albam (great British, casualwear brand), Drake’s and Liberty’s (it’s just beautiful, particularly if you like Art Nouveau).

I hope that is in some way helpful. Most of all, enjoy!

Simon