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Mind the details: pocket Square

A few of my pocket squares: Paul Smith, Reiss, TM Lewin, Tie Rack and Marks and Spencer

I’m starting a series on men’s accessories called ‘Mind The Details.’ ‘Mind The Details’ will explore men’s accessories and how they add value to your look. The purpose is to identify certain pieces that will take your dress game to the next level with little effort. To kick this off, lets start with my favourite piece of accessory, the pocket square.

If you have being reading my blog then you would know that whenever I talk about a fashion piece, I like to give a brief background or history to get things into perspective. I would’ve loved to do the same for the pocket square but I am not even going to try.

Simple reason being the origin of this piece of accessory is so unclear that different writers attribute it to different “inventors” from varying civilization. Because I like to talk in absolutes and facts except when I am expressing my views and opinions (which I usually make clear), I will leave the origins of this beautiful piece to the historians.

Packet square with a double breasted blazer

I have no intentions of digging up the remains of King Richard 11 of England (1367 – 1400) to ask him whether he had a hand in creating the pocket square. And just in case you are indeed interested in finding out the origins, please come back and share with us. Word of caution though, history favors the views of the writer regardless of facts.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s have a quick look at how the pocket square was used hundreds of years ago and try to relate it to present day use.

Before it became a fashion accessory, the pocket square was primarily used for health and hygiene purposes such as wiping hands and face, blowing nose or covering it to block out bad odors. It was also used by ancient Greeks to cover their heads. As time moved on, it became necessary to distinguish this small piece of cloth based on it uses, known at the time only as Kerchief. For the piece used primarily by the hand, word hand was added to kerchief (hence handkerchief) to differentiate it from the one used to cover the head.

Like the necktie, this was used by the upper class in different societies. Due to the stench from the streets and the odor of the working class men, nobles and upper class people would add perfume to the hanky to hold it close to their noses to disguise the smell.

Even though this piece of cloth is still referred to as the handkerchief by many, it is more commonly known as the pocket square in fashion circles. The difference lies in its function. The pocket square is strictly for fashion purposes and belongs in your suit or blazer or outer top garment’s pocket, whiles the handkerchief is for blowing the nose and wiping sweat and this belongs in your trouser pocket or the inside of your top garment.

Now that we have a bit of background to the original functions and how the name has evolved, let us now focus on the fashion and modern day use of this cloth known as the pocket square.

Some writers and commentators say that matching your pocket square to your tie is a fashion faux pas. All I can say to that is, its subjective.  I have matched my pocket square exactly to my tie and I personally think it’s a great look. Whether you want to match your pocket square to your tie or not, there are a few things you must consider. Does your entire look already have a lot going on? If so, then it may be wise to play safe and not try to introduce a completely different pattern or colour to the mix.

I personally think that the right pocket square can transform an everyday look into a more sophisticated one. The pocket square, just like the necktie, allows the user to instantly switch between levels of presentation. In a society where wearing a suit and tie is not only common but expected, the pocket square is the deal breaker to separate the men from the boys.

Pocket square with a denim jacket

Oh and do not for one minute think you can only wear a pocket square if you have a suit on. I have personally won a pocket square over a denim jacket to give the look a bit of a twist. So go ahead and experiment with your packet square.

I will be doing a blog post on the different kinds of folds you can use for a pocket square

I’ll be continuing with the theme of pocket squares. Next time i’ll be looking at the different folds such as the one point, two points, three points etc.

Please follow me on instagram at @cutsforhim for daily updates

Make a statement with colour

Colours! What is it about coloured garments (suits to be precise) that make most men panic? Is it the fact that we are never too sure how to pair colours when we choose to mix them, or is it the prospect of standing out in the crowd? Ok before I go any further, let me just qualify the word colour just in case some of you are wondering what I’m on about. My use of the term colour refers to anything outside of the neutral range such as black, white, grey, and sometimes brown and beige. These colours are neutral as they do not show or appear on the colour wheel. In essence they are “safe” hues. Fully saturated bold hues such as red or burgundy, green, aqua, pink, royal purple and more to the point, yellow are my idea of colours.

These colours are far less likely to be worn by men in comparison to the wardrobe staples such as navy, black, and grey. I mean don’t get me wrong these are appropriately named wardrobe staples for a good reason but you are not going to get very far if you truly want to make a statement where colour is concerned. Black, white, grey do a great job at pairing either with each other or anything on the colour wheel, but that’s about it.

Ok let me take a step back a little bit. The truth is wearing a full suit in any of the bold colours mentioned above is tricky and I get it. Imagine wrapping yourself in a badly cut coloured suit like royal purple on any given day. That will get you attention alright but for all the wrong reasons. Get it right and I guarantee you will turn heads, literally. I mean you only have to look back to Autumn/winter 2014 run way were many models donned the elegant burgundy. Burgundy was like an instant hit that continued it reign to date. Nothing better than a well-tailored burgundy suit for spring/summer 2015 season and I think Ozwald Boateng epitomizes this look perfectly. This have statement piece written all over it.

However, I understand that wearing a bold coloured suit is a bit too much for some especially those who are not used to colours. May be you want to break into this sphere of fashion and style gradually? Well I have good news for you. Your statement piece does not always have to be a full suit. I recon a well cut blazer can equally do the job with half the risk. To demonstrate this, I used my statement piece for spring/summer 2015 which is a yellow/mustard coloured blazer from suitsupply. I fell for this piece the minute I walked into the store. In fact, I went in for something completely different but left with a big smile on my face knowing that I have made a good purchase.

I do not need to wear matching yellow trouser with this piece as I recon I risk looking like a clown or worst a walking banana. The idea was to pair my yellow blazer (which is a warm colour) with a navy trouser (cool colour) to get perfectly balanced mix.

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I had the option of wearing either a blue or white shirt but went with the neutral option which is white. I added a pair of brown tasselled loafers from Paul smith, and brown belt from banana republic to match the brown buttons on the blazer. To top it all off, I also added a light blue pocket square (cool colour) to break the yellow a little bit. I made sure that nothing competed with the yellow blazer in the form of patterns or other warm colours. It was all about the blazer.

Pairing can be a daunting task for some, but I recon learning a thing or two about colours will go a long way to help. What better way to learn about colour pairing than the colour wheel eh. So yeah, get acquainted with the colour wheel and see how you get on. Understanding the position of each colour (all twelve) is important and will determine the difficulty or ease of pairing, or whether they can be paired at all.

Paddington, London

Here are three things to consider when looking at the colour wheel:

  1. Similar colours – these are next to each other and are generally easy to coordinate
  2. Complementary colours – Complementary colours are opposite each other on the wheel and are quite difficult to pair in comparison to similar colours. Try not to wear them in their full strength together as they may be too much for the eyes.
  3. Contrasting colours – these have three colours between them on the wheel and can be troublesome for the eyes if used with their full strength. A good way to pair them is to use a darker tone with one of them just so they do not compete with each other.

So brighten up your wardrobe by investing in a bold statement blazer. Come back and share how you intend to pair it up. Feel free to add your comments and tips below as I am sure other readers would appreciate it.

Prague: the style capital for architecture

Ok, first of all, why haven’t I been to Prague before? And how come no one ever mentioned to me how beautiful this European city was? As someone who loves travelling, why do I know so little about Prague? In fact the only thing I have heard about Prague is that it is a hotspot for stag dos and cheap beer. Cheap beer of course naturally attracts young British tourists. As someone who is not a huge beer fan, this was hardly a selling point and would rather sit in front of the lake in Geneva watching people go about their business. But here I was in the middle of the old town in Prague on a Friday evening with a look of bewilderment and surprise. Surprised at what my eyes were seeing. Just in case I haven’t already said it, Prague is incredibly beautiful.

The fact that I was blown away by its beauty is probably down to me having little expectations. If anything, I had this notion that the city is overrun by old Gothic looking buildings and architecture with beer houses dotted all over the place.

In fact I know so little about Prague or the Czech Republic in general that I only found out their currency is Koruna when I was on my way to Heathrow airport to catch my flight. I mean seriously what on earth was I thinking? All along I assumed it was the euro.

Waiting for my flight at the airport with little to look forward to, I began to plan how I could explore the fashion scene in Prague, which based on a link a friend sent me, hardly exist. Knowing at least that Prague is not a city associated with fashion and trends; I was determined to discover up and coming Czech brands that I could blog about. I mean there has to be more to Prague than stag dos and cheap beer and if I should spend my time exploring anything, then it has to be fashion. Well that was the plan at least.

The reality of what I ended up exploring couldn’t have been any more different to what I had in mind. The architecture! All of it and I mean Romanesque, renaissance, gothic, functionalist, cubist, classicism, historicism, post 1989 and by far my two favourites, Baroque and Rococo. The architectural styles span several centuries and makes the city looks like it wears it history on it sleeve.

If architectural diversity and taste were fashion, Prague would have been the capital of Europe ahead of London, Milan and Paris.

Anyway, enough typing for now as I would rather the photos speak for themselves. I hope they do justice to this wonderful city. I will do another blog post about Prague in the near future to share more photos.

Enjoy!

The view of the city from Vyšehrad castle

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The view of the city from Prague castle

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Prague Castle in the distance

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Baroque and Rococo architecture

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Gothic architecture

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Prague by night

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The Prague astronomical clock, or Prague orloj

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The Crucifix on Charles bridge  

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