Man about London

To old traditions, the Englishman adds a more colorful way of dress
May 19, 1957

Any sunny sunday, from 12:30 until 2:30 (Sunday pub hours), tiny, crescent-shaped Wilton Mews, in the heart of swank Belgravia, is one of the most colorful spots in all of London—chockablock with sports cars of every vintage and ancestry and peopled by London's sports-car crowd. Debutantes crowd in with their Guards officer escorts, models and actors are on hand and the young advertising and TV fraternity; all are gathered around The Grenadier, the three-century-old pub in the heart of the mews where they drink Pimms No. 1, sit on the pub's steps and watch the cars arrive before taking off on rides through the English countryside. They are as colorfully dressed a group of Englishmen as is to be seen anywhere. Cricket-playing Actor John Forbes Robertson (at right in the photograph on the opposite page) personifies the special look which has been developed by the English car set: thick-ribbed crew-neck sweater over thick, stone-colored Bedford cord trousers, called buffs, adapted from riding trousers (slim of leg, leather-lined cuffs, hacking pockets) by well-known Riding Tailor Harry Hall. They are also worn with double-breasted blazers and will be copied in America this fall. Also part of the look: russet rubber-soled reverse-leather shoes; windcheaters—the English version of the traditional cotton sweat shirt—worn in many colors—red (opposite, extreme left) and gray (on the stairs)—with silk scarves tucked inside; and the Rugby jersey, brightly striped, over matching tapered Bedford cord trousers, as worn by Model Fay Vettuci.

In contrast to this new sporting look, the English sportsman has carefully clung to his old way of dress for every other sporting occasion. This traditional look, emulated by sportsmen everywhere, is served up by such old guard specialists as those visited here by John Forbes Robertson in Bond Street, Fleet Street and Oxford Street. They make London the most elegant man's town in the world.

An American visiting England during the high season of sport that lasts from now until August (Epsom, Ascot, Henley, Wimbledon) will need guidance on proper dress. He can do no better than by hiring from Moss Bros, (below) as even the English peerage has discovered. He will also find that nowhere in the world can he have finer custom suits and shoes made, obtain finer tweeds and woolens than in London—and at prices considerably lower than in America. And clothes with English cut and tradition are having a strong revival in America; double-breasted blazers and suits, cricket white flannels, Shetland tweeds, officers' short-warm topcoats, brushed-leather shoes and many other items.

Sports-Car set in London wears brightly colored sweaters (Jaeger), windcheaters, ascots, Bedford cord slacks, brushed-leather shoes at The Grenadier, favorite pub of automobile crowd.

Soft tweed hat like one Rex Harrison wears in My Fair Lady is shown Forbes Robertson by Bond Street Hatter Arthur Harman of Hillhouse. Charles Dickens once lived above shop.

Cricket bat is examined by Forbes Robertson, member of the "Invalids' " team, and Salesman M. W. Burfurd in Fleet Street shop of Sir Jack Hobbs, Babe Ruth of English cricket.

Riding boots are ordered from Peal's, Oxford Street custom bootmaker, founded in 1790 and still in the same family. Peal's makes sport and town shoes, Guards officers' riding boots, and developed the first brushed-leather shoe for Boer War soldiers. They sell in America through Brooks.

Ascot attire is worn by Forbes Robertson as he leaves Moss Bros, famous rental store, which on a Saturday during the sporting season turns out an impeccably dressed customer every two minutes—for a fee of about $7. Store claims that they can fit men of all sizes for almost all occasions.

Double-Breasted blazer of wool hop sacking is checked in sunlight by Salesman E. Wright at Gieves, Old Bond Street military tailor. Blazer is worn with school or service insignia on buttons or pocket.