Welcome to the inaugural edition of Uniforms. This series will explore the core staples of men's wardrobes - the five or six pieces that constitute the uniforms of the men that wear them. This isn't about the brands, it's about the form and the function of the pieces that you keep going back to time after time.
Over the course of Uniforms I'll be reaching out to some good people you probably already know and some you don't but as the weather has taken a cooler turn and the nights are drawing in, I figured I'd kickstart the series with my own autumn uniform.
If you've been reading this blog for a while then you know me; I run this blog by night and I'm a Buying Manager by day. I rarely wear a suit these days and keep it fairly smart casual at work. I'd describe my down time style as American Workwear Heritage - Steve McQueen (I wish) meets a Minnesota logging team - bizarre I know.
I'll admit it, I prefer the colder months - I love the opportunity to break out the outerwear and boots and my uniform at this time of year invariably revolves around just that - raw denim, leather boots and a waxed jacket layered up with a sweatshirt and my signature blue oxford.
When the weather turns, I'm never without this Barbour International Washington. It's a few years old now and its broken in nicely, it's had a few coats of wax and its a little worn round the edges, the patina it's picked up is really special. I took the yellow International patch off the breast pocket when I first got it and I've never looked back - I'm not really big on branding. The jacket has a stars and stripes liner that just peeks out when you're wearing it and I'm a sucker for details like that. The bellows pockets make this jacket so usable - they can swallow up anything you throw at them within reason, even my camera at a push. I just love this jacket, it takes a beating and just keeps getting better.
These jeans are Levi's 511's made from Cone Mills Selvedge. I picked three pairs up at a bargain price as a perk of my last job. There's nothing head turning about them; they're just good jeans that wear hard like jeans are supposed to. I shrink-fitted them in the bath when I first got them and they're perfect fit. I also like a good turn up as you can probably tell.
I carry a bag to work every day and its always my Filson 256. Bomb proof construction and killer-classic looks make this bag my go to on almost every occasion. It works well dressed up or down but pairs perfectly with my usual get-up. It has room for everything I need and just like the Jacket, the more I throw at it the better it looks. Two years down the line and its only just starting to loosen up - This bag is a testament to over-engineering.
I'd wear boots all year round if I could. I (strangely) enjoy the process of breaking them in and keeping them in top condition. They are comfy as hell after a while too and keep your feet warm and dry through the worst of Winter. I alternate between Red Wings and Thorogoods. These Thorogoods have a Maxwear wedge that makes the crepe sole a lot more hard wearing - perfect if you put the miles in walking the dog. Crepe wedge work boots are a staple of the American workwear wardrobe and despite their recent hipster-fuelled resurgence, they still look great on the street or in the wilderness and last a lifetime if you treat them well.
Another key piece of kit is my watch. The Longines Legend Diver is a re-issue of of one of Longines' most famous super-compessor dive watches from the 1950s. I wear it on a Grey NATO strap for added action man points. I'm not a watch snob but I do believe in the value of buying a good watch - after all, time is the most precious thing a man can spend, apparently.
I'm not going to jump on the Hygge band wagon - I flatly refuse to. But is there anything more comfy and cosy than the old faithful grey sweatshirt when the cold snaps start? It's an old school wardrobe staple - it's the cornerstone of the American college campus and the Military training school. Its a man's-man's jumper. It goes with anything and layers nicely with an oxford shirt if you need to err on the smarter side of smart-casual. This one is by Levi's but I'm growing my collection of broadly identical grey sweatshirts every week.
I've had three pairs of Ray Bans in the last year. I even had a custom pair with my name engraved on the arm at one point. This isn't a brag, it's an acknowledgment of the fact that I keep losing sunglasses and I've got to stop doing it. I know its Autumn but that low sun is a killer in the car - These wayfarers have a retro-cool feel to them and are an acceptable way to hide a bad nights sleep/early morning daze. They're always with me, until I lose them.
And so concludes the first edition of Uniforms. These are the things that keep me together and get me through the worst the day can throw my way while hopefully looking good. We're not defined by our uniforms, our uniforms are defined by us; we make them what they are, they mature over time and grow with us and they're part of our story.
There'll be more Uniforms featured over the coming weeks and months. If there's anyone you'd like to see featured then please let me know.
- Keep listening.
Photographs by Fern Merrills