An insiders look | Pitti Uomo Autumn/Winter 2018

Video Credit: Aaron Christian

Every six months, the menswear community travel to Florence to attend the best and most elegant menswear show: Pitti Uomo. It was the 93rd edition and a record 36,000 visitors mingled with over 1200 brands for the four day event.

My first trip to the show was in the summer of 2003 when I was the tailoring buyer for Ede & Ravenscroft. It was an incredible experience to see so many great brands. I particularly liked how the larger companies such as Hugo Boss and Canali could share a platform with smaller, artisan brands. The show is held in a medieval fort (The Fortezza de Bassa) but the spirit of the show captures the whole of the City. The streets and bars are alive with visitors from around the globe. No other trade show that I know of has such an effect. Of course, Florence is a beautiful place and no matter how many times I have visited, I am still impressed by the beauty of The Duomo that was the inspiration for Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

Of course, one of the great pleasures of visiting Pitti, is the people-watching and social media has had a seismic effect on this practise. There were always a few photographers capturing street style but they were few in number and non-disruptive. They would approach you politely and ask your permission before taking your image. But then Scott Schuman and The Sartorialist changed everything! His street photography was so popular that some would spend a few days trying to be photographed…and the outfits became more and more extreme.

Pitti gives us menswear folk the opportunity to wear clothes that in the real world would gain attention…two-tone shoes, wide legged trousers, exaggerated lapels and ultra-short jackets are often the norm. So we have seen the birth of the “Pitti Peacocks”…men who visit the show with the main objective of being captured by one of the many street photographers, who no longer ask permission (who would decline?) and dress in the most extreme fashions. Bright coloured suits, pocket squares, hats, fancy shoes. I am not sure who these men are and what role they have in the industry but they are a constant fixture, fuelled by Instagram (The ‘peacocks social media of choice).

Pitti 93 seems to be a vintage year. My favourite stand was Corneliani who had an impressive display of wrap DB coats, chunky knits, relaxed trousers accessorised with luxury luggage and vintage sports cars. It was good to see a big brand put on a big show. Many pulled out in favour of private “invitation-only” affairs in Milan or Paris and I hope more return. Knitwear worn with tailoring was so ubiquitous, it feels wrong to call it a trend. The fashion for over-shirts is continuing, and Marol 1959 had some beautiful versions in lightweight worsted wools. A good overshirt can be worn over a polo shirt, fine gauge knitwear, or even another shirt and are great for travelling. Expect to see more of them in the High street this year. Tailoring was a little looser and easier with the over-tailored, ultra-skinny fit looking very dated along with the overly narrow lapels.

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It is an irony that I have to travel to see the best British shoe brands in one place, but there is no UK show where Edward Green, Loake, Cheaney, Sanders etc all exhibit together. The UK shoe industry is in good health with interest and buyers from all over the world. English shoes are the best in the world and they avoid seasonal trends but I have noticed more offerings of chunkier soles combined with elegant styles, and the colour palettes are beyond the traditional black and browns. Dark navy is a particular favourite shade but I also saw smart offerings in grey and green.

Colours that would have offended my traditional tastes not that long ago!

I hope I am not turning into a peacock!

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Photo Credits to: collective AKAstudio

Mercure London Bloomsbury Hotel Review | Central London Location

Mercure hotel, Bloomsbury is a hidden gem within a gem. A great, friendly boutique hotel tucked into one of central London’s most picturesque hideaways. You won’t find Bloomsbury on any bucket lists or ‘London must see’ brochures though. It’s a spot to come and live for a while, be it for a night or a lifetime.

Set on the corner of Southampton Row and Cosmo Place the hotel sports a bright, welcoming front entrance, leading to an even brighter reception. The bar and lounge areas have a swinging 60s/70s feel to them but with a 21st century touch, as they’re all part of a major recent refurbishment.

My room was medium sized with a soft, comfortable bed and a good sized desk, exactly what I was after. After all, if there’s one place in the world where you should be able to find the inclination to start writing, then it’s Bloomsbury. For one thing it’s just a great looking and sounding word. If that can’t get you started, nothing will. A ‘Bloomsbury’ has to be at the very least an elaborate, over-priced cake – a meringue perhaps. If it hasn’t already been used as a label for a fashion house, a particular style of wedding dress and distinctive style of men’s shoes or shirts then somebody’s missing a trick...hmmm

As a busy blogger, staying here is paying homage to some of the great writers and thinkers of the past couple of centuries: the Bloomsbury set of course, not to mention Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin and more recently Bob Marley and Ricky Gervais.

Once I’d dropped my bags, I went for a quick look around. Of course this is still central London, so there’s plenty to do. If you want to stick to Bloomsbury there’s the British museum, the cartoon museum and it must be home to at least 90% of London’s dusty vintage bookshops. ‘Skoob books’ in the Brunswick centre isn’t quite as olde worlde as some others, but they will have what you’re after.

A few minutes’ further walk away there’s Dominion theatre, the West End and all the good, wholesome naughtiness of Soho.

But there’s no reason to leave. The real point of Bloomsbury is to be another home. Plant yourself in a cozy corner, and then only leave when needed; that’s what I’ve done. There are plenty of food options within short walking distance but there’s a Marco Pierre White restaurant in the hotel, so that walking is very optional.

Mercure provides all the essentials of course: good wifi, air conditioning, 24/7 reception, facilities for disabled customers and a tourist desk if you really insist on going further afield.

With its rows of statuesque housing, numerous medical establishments and quiet, well-manicured squares, Bloomsbury isn’t a spot for neck straining sightseeing. It’s a place for introspection and reflection. If you were in a BBC period drama or an E.M Forster novel, Bloomsbury would be your ‘place in the city’. For a few nights at least it still can be. 

Looking outside from my third story room I was greeted with the kind of quirky, interesting views any kind of scribbler loves. I love mid-level city views, most especially in London.

They’re not the sweeping panoramas, the vertiginous stomach-in-the-mouth views. Not the jaw-dropping views, but the eavesdropping ones. The views that make you feel like you know who’s on the other end of them. You won’t find them on postcards on Oxford St, though, come to think of it, you may do in Broadway Market, Columbia Rd market…or Bloomsbury. They’re the views of the backs of things: people going about their lives; in apartments or offices or just below, scurrying between the two. My room had just such an outlook; the perfect place to get into some serious blogging. I’ll warm up with a hotel review…

 

MERCURE LONDON BLOOMSBURY HOTEL

Men's January Winter 2018 Fashion Haul & Outfit of the Month

I'm sure I'm not the only person out there thats had a great start to the year, none of this BLUE January stuff here. I had the most amazing Christmas and New Year, just spending quality time with family, relaxing, eating loads...it was bliss. January came and I've kept up with my fitness goals, combining HIIT training with British Military Fitness, Boxing with KOBOX, the Gym at Virgin Active and some PT strength training sessions with Neal Williams. It may seem overkill but I think it works to keep your exercises fresh, different and therefore fun, yet certainly not monotonous. I've also spruced up my home interiors with some plants which is making working from home much more comfortable and I'm feeling positive for my work situation in 2018, so it's all positive thinking here in the Thompson household!

I am aware however that January can be tough financially, with people over indulging during the festive period and made to pay for it in interest payments over the following months. Most people also get paid earlier in December, which means that our pay packets have to stretch that little bit further - unless you are good at managing your money of course. So we tend to have less money in our pockets for luxuries such as clothing, however this is the perfect time to invest in some new threads. With the brands shifting focus to spring/summer collections, the winter clobber is old news and they're selling it off cheap.

For this style edit, I've combined my recent winter haul with my outfit of the month in a kind of 2in1 deal. My style for this edit is very much smart casual, business attire or commuter wear. It's smart, yet comfortable and practical. My outfit consists of signature Chelsea boots from NEXT, navy chinos from Spoke London, navy roll neck jumper from Jaeger, tan corduroy blazer from ASOS and a cashmere overcoat from Hawkins & Shepherd. As always, if you love it shop it by clicking on the images below.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

SHOP MY JANUARY WINTER 2018 HAUL PIECES

That's not all for this post as here is some bonus material with links to all of my favourite pieces of clothing that I have personally brought within the last two weeks.

Mercure Salisbury White Hart Hotel Review | Close to Magna Carta & Stonehenge

Salisbury is known as ‘the city in the countryside’. A little modernity set in the timeless storybook Wiltshire countryside. So it is with Mercure’s White Hart hotel: a stunning, listed four hundred year old building in the heart of one of England’s great medieval cities with all the mod cons a proud Instagrammer could wish for. With good wifi, dry cleaning, a porter service, 24 hour reception and online check-in it’s a grand old hotel with a not so grand price tag.

The front of the hotel resembles an embassy. Above the street level archways sit four grand pillars in front of a balcony that feels ready-made to deliver a speech from or perhaps toss a bouquet backwards over. So it’s no surprise that the hotel is a popular wedding reception venue.

Inside, on the other hand, it’s a home away from home. The staff are all helpful and friendly, with that lovely familial country touch that you really need to get outside of the M25 to find. The dining and lounge areas are light and airy, sprinkled with soft, comfortable chairs while the bar is small and relaxed: I had to refrain from hopping behind it and helping myself.

If you’re coming to Salisbury, unless it’s for business - in fact even if it is - then you’re going to do a little touristing. In 2015 Lonely Planet included Salisbury as one of its top 10 cities in the world to visit. Given that its main attractions are 800 (Magna Carta) to 5,000 years old (Stonehenge), it’s safe to say that the appeal still applies.

The cathedral is any visitor’s first stop for very obvious reasons. It’s truly one of Europe’s truly great medieval churches. Impressive on the outside, jaw-dropping inside. It’s also home to the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta, not to mention its having the tallest church spire in Britain helps give you your bearings no matter where you are in the city.

Arrundels is just around the corner. This is the former home of Edward Heath and is simply the archetypal English country manor, just minutes from the heart of the city. The High Street is another blend of the new and the very old, with its imposing 14th century gate leading through to Cathedral Close and you-know-what. 

Once you’re back from taking in the city or perhaps completing a pilgrimage to Stonehenge or Avebury it’s time to put your feet up. Weather permitting you can enjoy a drink in the garden out the back before retiring.

The bathroom was sleek, minimalist, contemporary and stylish, just what you want in a modern hotel. The bedroom was full of warm gold, brown and autumn green, soft lighting, comfortable chairs and the one of hotel life’s great indulgences: a four poster bed, fit for a latter-day medieval king.

White Hart hotel provides the perfect base for a visit to Salisbury and the surrounding area. It’s relaxed enough to be a home away from home, yet still has all the little luxuries you’d expect from a four star hotel. I really didn’t want to leave but after a full weekend London called and I was on my way…slowly.

I left the White Hart hotel and Salisbury in no great hurry at all, vowing to return as quickly as possible.

 

MERCURE SALISBURY WHITE HART HOTEL

THE NAVY SUIT | Ties and Pocket Squares Combos

In the post 90's Neil Strauss world of Peacocking, men's tailoring has found its dimmer switch. Between the garishly elaborate 'statement pieces' and the monochrome mundanities of men’s tailoring, lies a convenient halfway house that is accoutrements. In particular ties and pocket squares. Today I want to zero in on the Navy suit and what ties and pocket squares make a good pairing.

Whilst doing some research for the post I took to the net in true Arnie with a mini-gun mode, bouncing between blogs, Insta and Pinterest posts with equal and efficient precision. A lot of people will talk about colour wheels and triadic colour schemes, which is all great and if you'd like to take a deep-dive on that then I'll need to credit the guys over at Deep Knot for their Tie and Pocket Square Combinations Editorial. But I'm going to offer you more of a broad view of combinations that catch my eye, and maybe worm a little science along the way. For more fashion inspiration, you can check out my look book article on How to wear Your Navy Suit 5 Ways

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The Future is Orange

The aforementioned colour wheel will highlight orange as the colour diametrically opposed to Navy Blue. Known as the complementary colour scheme. There is no starker contrast on the planet than a Navy/Orange combo. Credit goes to the Silver London for demonstrating how to subtly peacock with this Reiss navy suit and orange accoutrements. If you're looking to flirt a little with the pocket square then you might want to dull the orange slightly, allowing room for manoeuvre in other departments such as a polka dot pattern and a pin stripe shirt.

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Micro Check Shirt/Gingham Shirt

Look I've made it into this collage, how did that happen haha? I think this is one of the most underused combos in men’s tailoring right now, the gingham shirt and Navy suit combo. I've paired my own Hawkins & Shepherd Gingham Shirt with a Navy Knitted tie. However, whereas mine and the others featured are micro-check, Ewan to the right of me went for a bolder separated gingham keeping close to a monochromatic colour palette (a scheme that involves pairing darker and lighter variants of the same colour). 

Kudos also goes to Lookastic.Com for showing us how it's done with the Navy Vertical Striped Blazer, adorned but not distracted by the Charcoal Pocket Square and Brown Plaid Wool Tie. 

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Paisley Crazy

When it comes to pairing paisley patterns imagine being a movie director trying to reign in a Jim Carrey in his prime. His exuberance is off the chart and destroying the picture, it's your job to mollify him but not brow beat him into thinking he can't go off-piste now and again. So Paisley is all about showing restraint. It doesn't need a partner in crime, it just needs others to do their job. You'll find patterns and textures the most exciting part of pairing because you'll get to exercise your creative muscle. I've highlighted some less bilious pairings, but as Bukowski once said 'Some people never go Paisley. What truly horrible lives they must lead.' Or something like that. 

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Mercure London Hyde Park Hotel Review | Exceptional Location

London is full of amazing hotels and now I can add the Mercure London Hyde Park Hotel to the list of my favourites. If you are after a hotel that has Instagram worthy interior design, friendly staff, amazing amenities, unique rooms, great facilities in the middle of the busy London Paddington district yet situated in a quiet square, then this is the hotel for you. Combine that with being in an exceptional location at a mid-range price, then you've found the best hotel in London for it's price range and I genuinely believe that to be the case.

This boutique style hotel which has recently undergone a complete refurbishment boasts 78 well designed guest bedrooms with Victorian style windows, high ceilings and a warm town house feel through-out. This iconic London hotel is located just a 3 min walk from Paddington train and tube stations, with Heathrow airport being 15 minutes away via Paddington Express. You can take a short walk to Hyde Park or Oxford Street for a bit of high-street shopping. 

I felt at complete ease during my whole stay in this hotel and that is partially down to the relaxed, professional atmosphere given off by the management team which filters down to the other members of staff and it felt like a great place to work. The interior also contributed to this relaxed feel due to the bright areas which let in lots of light from the large windows, then cozy darker areas to cocoon yourself in when wanting time out or privacy reading the morning newspaper.

The rooms and suites are possibly the most impressive aspect of this hotel, no expense has been sparred on their designs, just look at the photos which are completely non-edited and taken exactly as the room was presented. The first thing I noticed was the Tom Dixon lighting as I'm a massive fan of his interiors and have some of those light-shades at home also, so it's safe to say that we both have exceptional taste! 

The rooms include a full array of facilities including air conditioning, safety deposit boxes, WIFI, telephone, iron, free in-room mineral water, work desk, minibar and coffee/tea making facilities. For a full list of room ammenities, check out their website directly, here.

If you require a larger room, speak to the hotel and ask for one of their individual suites which have a massive living area, more storage space, a huge bathroom with a double sized shower and a massive bed with an excess of cushions. 

Finally this hotel has more than just a great interior designer and an exceptional location. It also houses a gym complete with cardiovascular fitness machines, weight machines and free weights. There's also a bar, restaurant and meeting facilities so if you are a business traveler, on holiday or someone who wants to enjoy a staycation to London, before you book your hotel, I urge you to consider the Mercure London Hyde Park Hotel. 

 

MERCURE LONDON HYDE PARK HOTEL

Introducing Author Christopher Modoo the Urbane Outfitter

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Please allow me to introduce myself…

I am delighted to be contributing to Carl Thompson’s blog. I have known Carl for many years, since we met at a Chester Barrie press day down in Savile Row. I was the senior creative for the brand and Carl was a keen supporter of my work and would always visit the presentations at London Collections: Men (as London Fashion Week was once known).

I have worked in the fashion industry for over twenty-five years. I have no formal training and started my career as a junior salesman in the shirt & tie department of Selfridges. I have always loved clothing and can’t remember an age where I wasn’t aware of what I was wearing. But I never considered that I could make a career from it. At 18, I very lazily applied for a job in a bank after a brief discussion with the school’s career advisor where my options were summarised as “bank or civil service”. So I started as a junior in a suburban High Street bank. I only lasted eighteen months before the lure of the West End called me to Oxford Street.

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My first break was when Thomas Pink opened a concession in Selfridges, I was a fan of their shirts so I wrangled the manager’s job by the age of 22. My love of cloths blossomed as I became aware of all these great classic brands and a large portion of my salary was spent on custom made cloths and good shoes. From Pink’s I moved to Savile Row where I was a salesman/fitter. This is where I became obsessed with textiles. Our shop full of cloth books called “bunches” and I would go through all of them learning about different weights, textures and qualities. There is a lot of knowledge on Savile Row and some very generous characters who are willing to  share it…usually over a pint. I then moved to Ede & Ravenscroft to head up their made-to-measure department. Ede & Ravenscroft are London’s oldest tailors with a heritage and stretches back to 1689. It was fun bringing it into the 20th century and convincing staff that we should fax orders rather than relying on the post! It was here that I really started to understand the rules of classic menswear and when and how to break them. I was very lucky to be promoted to buyer when the position became vacant despite having no buying experience. The retail director mentored me and translated my knowledge of tailoring into a commercial skill. I had the most wonderful decade with Ede & Ravenscroft; I travelled all over Europe, met the Queen and was even introduced to my future wife. But at the age of 39 I was eager to move onto bigger and better things.

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I joined Chester Barrie with the responsibility to oversee every product from morning dress to casual outerwear. We took the brand to trade shows in Florence, New York and Hong Kong, as well as becoming a major fixture on the LCM calendar. This also coincided with the growth in social media. I love the way that it can connect people with a similar interest and how it can champion smaller brands and artisans. I loved sharing new ideas and receiving immediate feedback…usually good. I am no longer with Chester Barrie and have what is known as a “portfolio career” where I split my time between writing online content for magazines and brands, styling, lecturing at a college and starting my own label. I look forward to writing more for Carl and connecting with his followers. I will be writing about classic mens fashion as well as the fashion industry and sharing my experiences from both.

Photo Credit Anna Michell

Experience the Traditions of the Maasai at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, Tanzania

We all know that a new year brings ambitions for the year ahead with most of us choosing to travel more or to look after ourselves better. I've been looking to combine the two for 2018 by choosing health and wellness holidays and top of my travel bucket list is to visit Tanzania. Whilst researching these types of holidays in Tanzania, I've found an incredible place called ESSQUE ZALU ZANZIBAR which I would like to share with you. Zanzibar is an archipelago off the coast of mainland Tanzania of East Africa, renowned for white sandy beaches with traditional food and culture. Tanzania is blessed with tradition, history, beaches, nature and safari which makes it the perfect holiday destination for 2018.

The Maasai of East Africa have a long tradition of healing rooted in the powerful natural surroundings of the land. Resonating with local techniques and inspired by nature’s energy, the unique Zanzibar Spa at Essque Zalu Zanzibar has partnered with the award-winning AFRICOLOGY brand to create a series of locally inspired spa rituals designed to take guests on a unique, multi sensory wellness journey.

This experience is created to transport their guests to another place, offering a complete break from reality, treatments are carried out in a specially designed Maasai ‘Village’ by Zanzibarian and Tanzanian therapists with an in-depth knowledge of the culture. Guests are cocooned in traditional tents, with variants of the instantly recognisable red and black woven fabrics synonymous with the tribe and intricate wood carvings creating beautiful Maasai-inspired interiors. By the soft glow of suspended lanterns and the heady scent of locally sourced essential oils, the two hour ritual takes place during or after sunset and is intended to take guests on a journey of renewal steeped in the sights, sounds and sensations of Maasai customs.

On further research, the Essque Zalu Zanzibar is more than just a unique traditional spa experience. The accommodation comprises on 40 suites with views of the Indian Ocean amongst lush tropical gardens. There are a variety of different bars and restaurants on site including 'The Jetty' which is perfect for kicking back and enjoying cocktails in the sun or during a romantic sunset.

The ESSQUEPADES are the resorts signature experiences including Swahili Cooking. The experience is carried out in a rustic thatched roof kitchen with state-of-the-art cooking facilities. The studio has been dedicated to native Tanzanian Sous-chef Rose Mosha, who has been developing the cooking classes over her six years with the resort. Then cooking course shows you how to prepare mouthwatering traditional dishes and sample the best that the ‘Spice Island’ has to offer.

If exploring out of the hotel is your thing, the resort will help you make the most of the surrounding area, so if snorkelling, bike tours, beach life or trekking the island is you thing then there will be something for everyone. 

 

BOOK ONLINE TODAY

Outfit of the Week | Men's Style Edit

Who else is struggling to get through January? I feel like I'm crawling through it, everything's an effort, procrastinating at every junction and I've even introduced afternoon naps into my daily routine! Today I'm going to change that and during my afternoon nap time, I'm now writing this blog post....now that's progress! What is it with January that makes it such a miserable month and what do you do to combat the January blues? Personally I either shop or book a holiday...pretty standard really.

I'm looking to book flights to Tanzania for a few months time, so if anyone has been comment below and give me your tips. I think I'll spend some time in Zanzibar for beach life and then the Serengeti for a bit of nature. I've also been shopping a bit these month with a few voucher cards I got for Christmas, so I'll have loads of new style edits in the coming couple of weeks, so keep an eye out on my Instagram account and blog to shop the looks.

But for now, I've styled together a look that I love from clothing and accessories that I've had in my wardrobe for some time. The coat is actually last years AW16 collection from Zara, so in the shop the look below, I've replaced this specific coat with some alternatives. The style is very black, including a shirt from COS, Chelsea boots from Superdry, jeans from ASOS and accessorised with a black 24 hour leather bag from Jack Russell Bags and an expertly crafted umbrella from the Kingsman range at Mr Porter. As always, if you like it, shop it below.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Best Scents 2018 | The Vanille Fatale Fragrance from Tom Ford Beauty

Step aside 'new year new me', that's not for me, however 'new year new scent' is something I can get on board with, in fact I've been finding a new signature scent every year since my teens. The last few years signature scents have been Creed Aventus (2015), Tom Ford Tuscan Leather (2016), Gold Knight by Kilian (2017) and could Vanille Fatale from Tom Ford be my 2018 scent? Well, yes of course as it has all the sweet, spicy, woody notes that I love in fragrances, it's bold, beautiful and most importantly totally unique. 

To say that I've been a massive fan of Tom Ford private blend fragrances for a few years is an understatement, I'm in love with them. Each and everyone has a story that you are immediately transported to in your scent memory. Tom Ford Tuscan Leather takes me to a cigar and whisky Gentlemen's club with a roaring open fire with big comfortable leather chairs, I can picture it now. I'm going to touch back to Tuscan Leather again and my other current Tom Ford favourite Tobacco Vanille which both have some similarities to the new Vanille Fatale franrgance. So if you love any of the aforementioned scents, Vanille Fatale is most certainly worth checking out.

New for 2018, TOM FORD introduces VANILLE FATALE, the defiant new scent from Tom Ford Beauty. Refined yet raw, polished yet primal, Private Blend Vanille Fatale grips the senses with stirring spices, grounded florals and robust woods. The wearer is transfixed from the start, as if under the spell of a tempest, a force of nature with an unrelenting hold.

Spicy saffron and coriander mingle with the incense of earthy myrrh and olibanum, intoxicating the senses at the opening. The heart reverberates with a tobacco-like pull of roasted barley and roasted coffee absolute, lending a pleasant bitterness, while rich narcissus and creamy frangipani seduce with grounded floralcy. Thick and distinct, Madagascan Vanilla blends beautifully with wood-forward mahogany, its dark, rich, smoky glamour made all the more exotic with primal, musk-nuanced suede at the finish.

TOM FORD VANILLE FATALE is contained in the classic Private Blend bottle. The 50Ml and 100mL flacon has the sleek, architectural look of a chess piece. 

 

SHOP TOM FORD VANILLE FATALE BELOW

My Journey into Blogging | A Massive Thanks to my '&FRIENDS' Contributing Authors

It seems a lifetime away from 2013 when I launched my menswear brand Hawkins & Shepherd and starting writing blog posts about shirts, fabrics and what knot to wear with your shirts. In 2014 I launched my eponymous Men's Lifestyle Blog. Back then, to begin with I was looking to drive more traffic to my menswear label, but it soon came apparent that the blog was developing into something separate and deserved its own platform. More and more people were coming to me for advice and I wanted to provide a place for people that wanted to enhance their style. 

It has been a major learning curve moving from my previous career which I was the Global Head of IT Communications & Networking for a major privately owned commodities trading house to starting up my own shirt label and subsequently men's lifestyle blog. Back then when I was building my previous career, I had no clue what a blog was and would have laughed at you if you suggested that I would give up a career that I've spent 15 years perfecting on a gamble for a better lifestyle; but that's exactly what I did. Some friends laughed, some suggested it wouldn't work, some were just worried for me but in most cases they were supportive. All of these reactions are forever indented into my memories which I call upon for inspiration and to make myself even more dedicated to succeed.

One thing I do miss about working for someone else is the holiday pay, the sick pay, actually the consistent pay in general - oh and the odd hangover day when you're on the clock getting paid but not really there mentally! Starting Hawking & Shepherd, not only took a lot of capital but also a hell of a lot of my hours and I think there is a massive misconception about life being greener when self-employed and now I know that to be correct. Since 2013, I've put every single penny that the business makes back into it, to help it grow, improve and to have the best chance of success in the long-term. It's really hard and have so much respect for anyone who has made a successful change in career or launched their own brand.  

Mid-way through 2017 I was thinking of ways to turn my self-titled blog into more of an online magazine, an encyclopedia of everything men's lifestyle. It was then that I decided to seek out other writers and journalists to contribute to carlthompson.co.uk and to help them launch themselves to a possibly difference audience to what they would usually come in contact with. The relationship had to be beneficial to all parties and we have achieved that. I wanted to take this opportunity at the start of 2018 to say a massive thanks to these writers who have contributed to the success of 2017 in which we've seen an increase of unique visitors by 85.8% compared to the previous year.

Unfortuently my budget doesn't stretch to have them all employed full-time. So I'm sure they will not mind if I did a shout out to each of them and say to feel free to contact them if you require unique content, copy-writing, event coverage etc.

Peter Brooker is a Professional Freelancer & Copywriter with SEO experience. Founder & Editor of Human Research. Lifestyle Editor & Podcast host for Menswear Style. Fashion Editor for The Essential Journal. He has interviewed leading ambassadors, athletes, celebrities, actors including David Gandy, Daniel Sturridge, Paul Weller, Evander Holyfield, Sir Steve Redgrave, David Haye, George Foreman, Dita Von Teese, Idris Elba, Jamie Redknapp, Sir Roger Moore and Stephen Hendry. Oh in case anyone is still reading he also writes for Viz and is unbeaten at crazy golf. 

Originally from Cornwall, Holly has two main passions in life: history and gin. With a degree in history and over 7 years of knowledge working in the gin industry, she now writes about both. Holly creates food recipes for artisan spirits companies and is always on the search to try and experiment with new flavours. You can follow her on Twitter @HollyHarwood and on Instagram @HollyHWood.

Patrick McAleenan is a freelance journalist, PR and Personal Trainer, based in London. He is a regular contributor to Telegraph Men, Metro, Attitude magazine and other high profile publications. He was a Stonewall Awards 2014 Journalist of the Year nominee and is currently writing his first work of fiction. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ontheptrain

Suzanne Bernie is the founder and Managing Director of Coathanger. Based in one of the fashion capitals of the World, London; Suzanne is a leading fashion stylist who helps clients develop a better relationship with their wardrobe and how they express themselves with fashion. With over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry and having founded Coathanger in 2002, Suzanne and her team of personal stylist’s aim to help people step out of their comfort zones and develop a whole new outlook on the role fashion plays in our everyday lives.

...and to the newest member signed up for 2018, I'm incredibly excited to introduce to you Christopher Modoo...

Christopher Modoo is the "Urbane Outfitter". With over 25 years experience in men's fashion he is an expert on style and etiquette.Having worked in all aspects of menswear from shop floor to senior creative, Christopher is now a freelance stylist and is working on launching his own label. As well as fashion, Christopher is a keen fan of the cinema and enjoys travel. He is married and lives in Hampton Court.

That Maroon Pea Coat | Men's Style Edit

Happy new year everyone! I can not believe it is 2018 already and although it's only two days into it, I'm struggling to get fired up and back into the swing of things. I'm going to blame, working from home and the new season of Black Mirror for my procrastination. If you haven't already watched Black Mirror, you have to get started as it gives a warped view of the potential future we are facing. Such as robotic dogs taking over, body implants which gives your parents the ability to see where you are and what you are doing at all time and a society that functions solely on social media. 

I'm not one for looking back at things I've done or achieved in 2017, although generally speaking has been a great year both for work and personal reasons and hopefully 2018 can live up to the high expectations I've already put on it! Later today I'm going to book flights to Tanzania which I've been planning and saving for about a year now and can not wait. So expect lots more beach pictures on instagram this year!

I woke up today at around 07:30am, it was cold and dark outside and after walking my dog Charlie I realised that although Christmas and New Year is over, it's too early to have one eye on Spring and warmer weather. So today in my first men's style edit for 2018, I wanted to showcase coats once more and in particular a new maroon pea coat from J by Jasper Conran that I purchased via Debenhams. The coat colour is unique and works incredibly well wearing it with brown, navy and black colours so is very versatile with all winter palettes. The coat is made from a wool mix, making it warm and cosy, design wise it's double-breasted with two rather bold lapels, contract coloured buttons and a herringbone inner lining. The cut/pattern of the coat is regular fit and the length is slightly longer than a suit jacket or blazer, halfway between your hips and knees.

This J by Jasper Conran - Maroon wool rich pea coat is now online at £105 down from £150 and is available is all sizes S, M, L & XL.

 

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The right Questions to Ask Your Tailor

The relationship between a tailor and consumer should be harmonious and built on implicit trust. A good tailor should make you feel nourished and equally, the tailor should also feel appreciated that he has brought value to an individual’s life. But what if this is your first time buying a suit? You don't know the lingo and think fabric is a nightclub in Farringdon. First off having a mild sketch in your head of the look you're after will be a great way to get the ball rolling. Maybe you've seen a suit on an actor, in a magazine, a particular pattern etc. Be realistic, but try and envision what your dream suit looks like. 

Here below for your careful consideration, are the right questions to ask your tailor. 

What have you got? 

Ask to see some look books; a recent portfolio. If he points to the cardboard cutout by the cash register you know you're in trouble. Any tailor worth his salt will also have an online store so be sure to check that out and any recent feedback on their social channels. Facebook is still a good barometer for ratings. 

The tailor will bring along sample fabrics for you to try, masticate the swatches a little (I said masticate, unless you REALLY like the fabric) and then ask.. 

What fabric is best for.. ?

[fill in the blank]. It's important that your tailor fully understands your needs. You might be getting married in the tropics and require a certain breathable fabric. It could be your work suit, but what kind of work? Is there a long commute involved and will your job demand any physical exertion? Ask your tailor to elaborate on why the fabric or cloth recommended would be suited to the occasion, and if there are any other options available to you.

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Free next Friday? 

Your tailor is a busy man, with many other customers, interviews to write and cocktail parties to attend. Make sure you schedule set dates and times with your tailor for fittings and additional alterations. Not having to chase each other for appointments over email will optimise both your time. 

Show me your papers. 

This is what separates the men from the marines in the tailoring universe. If you specifically want bespoke products, ensure that your tailor will create an individual paper pattern for you. Ask to see it and have it pictured with an edition of the local paper. OK so that might be overkill, but this is a reasonable question and will let the tailor know you're not here to have your pants taken down. Semi-pun intended. 

The best way to describe a 'pattern' in clothing is to compare it to a 'blueprint' of a building. An architect will build a house based on the blueprint and the tailor with piece together a suit based on the pattern.

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Will it be fully canvassed?

Canvas cements the lining and outer fabric of the suit, thus enabling its shape over time. You might be asking for an unstructured fit, in which case the lining might be absent from the body. Although ensure it's in the arms, all jacket arms should be lined for ease of access. Not all suits are fully canvassed, but the vast majority of made-to-measure suits will at least be partially canvassed. 

You don't want a yes-man tailor. It's important that your tailor presents positivity and optionality for you, but isn't just a yes man. In an interview for GQ Franklin Saltos, owner of N.Y.C.’s Tailoring Room, mentioned, 'The best tailor is an honest one. If yours routinely overpromises, jump ship'. 

I hate it man! 

I'm going a bit sensational with the questions today, but it's important to highlight early on what changes can be made during the process if you're unhappy with the design. It could be anything from the length of the trouser, to the style of the pockets. Having good communication with your tailor is key, even if you're unsure of the terminology, understanding at what point of the process you can make alterations is key. 

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The photos used in this blog post and from a past European-wide campaign I did with Brooks Brothers.

The MAZDA CX-5 Review by Car Enthusiast Carl Thompson

That's right, Mazda called again, told the imaginary secretary to put the president on hold, I have Mazda on line two. You might have caught my review of the Mazda MX-5 RF last month, this time around I'm saddling up in the CX-5. The CX-5 2.2d 2WD to be exact, one down from the tip of the spear which is the AWD. 

The CX-5 has a leaner feel to it than its predecessors. It has an artfulness, a very sleek, lean bonnet and exaggerated mesh with an almost basket weave grill. It has a certain menace to it which I like. The undulating bar on the grill blends seamlessly into the headlights, a nice touch along with the other chrome trims which subtly punctuates the cars profile.

Ok Carl, I get it, enough about the trims, tell me about the cup holders! Well the coffee cup holders are plentiful. Two in the front by the centre consul, rubberised at the bottom, and two in the real in the arm rest. Jackpot. Another thing I want to mention about the front centre consul are the 'run throughs'. Meaning I can charge my phone in the USB port provided (4 in the car in total) tuck the cable away and have the cable run through the consul and into my phone that's in the coffee cup holder. God bless you Mazda. 

People have been asking me about the protruding stand-alone screen you see in modern cars these days. The Mazda has a nice stand-alone screen minus the cowl that would otherwise blend into the dashboard. Granted some people prefer that look, I prefer to have better visibility and because the technology has moved on a notch, we no longer need the cowl. We can have a lower dashboard design, which means you can actually get greater visibility. 

The seats are soft, perforated in the middle and has heated seats along with the steering wheel. It also looks tasteful in black, I've seen some cream leather interiors for this model, which I actually prefer cosmetically, but I know these black seats would be more practical to hide any unwanted blemishes. 

The drive itself has a gorgeous fluidity. I'm not talking about the performance, which you'd expect from a Mazda, but the car reacts very reassuringly. I've heard that there is an entire team in Mazda called the 'Jinba Ittai' division. Their sole purpose is to make you feel good behind the wheel. How that is quantifiable I'm not sure, but simply, I ask the question, I like the response. 

The Premium Bose sound system has 10 precisely positioned speakers. The vocal imagery was very central, but not bunched. I enjoyed the range spectrally, (bass, middle and treble) and couldn't detect any buzz, squeaks or rattles when I gave it the Nigel 11 (Spinal Tap gag). If I'm honest I'll probably say the Harman Kardon system impressed me more spatially when I was in another car the other week, but there were 15 speakers and I wasn't driving so perhaps that the pleasure of listening more acutely. 

One tiny other niggle, is the rear of the car. I love the boot space. If you fold down the seats there is an orgy of space, you could do a house move in this car. But the rear lights are a little diminutive for my liking, makes it a little too 'cutesy'. Other than that, I was enamoured with the performance and the style of this car. Another slick delivery from Mazda.

How to Wear a Tuxedo | Men's Style Advice as Featured in GQ

If you pick up a copy of the GQ China magazine (December 2017) and turn to the Men's Style Advice section, you'll find my face explaining what I wear for party season. Without duplicating content, I'm using my own platform to explain in a little more detail what I'm wearing, why and some style advice I would give to anyone wanting to look incredible in a tuxedo or as us Brits like to call dinner jackets. 

For the GQ China tuxedo style advice section, there was only one tuxedo that I wanted to wear and that was my 3-piece by Savile Row's Chester Barrie. The tailoring put into this tuxedo is the best in the world, it's crafted with the most skilled hands in the business and you can appreciate every stitch and every cut of the pattern as it aligns with your body shape. When looking for a tuxedo to wear for a special occasion, there are a few aspects that for me are a must. Firstly for the dinner jacket, peak bold lapels are an absolute must, they give an element of style, sophistication and screams that you know how to dress and you're not just following high-street trends of modern skinny lapels. The cuffs have to be working cuffs and the buttons should be discrete yet in a design that matches the suits style perfectly. 

Moving on to the waistcoat. Firstly make sure it fits well and is not too tight. If it is too tight it will look terrible when sitting down, it will rumple up the shirt underneath and will ultimately make the outfit as a whole look disheveled. The buttons on the waistcoat must match the buttons on your dinner jacket. The cut of the waistcoat should be low cut, this is to champion the shirt underneath and make the bow-tie prominent. If the waistcoat is cut too high there will be no colour transition between the dark suit fabric and the bow-tie. As with this Chester Barrie tuxedo, I love the contrast between the single-breasted blazer and the double-breasted waistcoat as well as the peak cut lapels of the blazer and the elongated curves of the waistcoat lapels. 

Kind of obvious but the trouser fabric should match that of the dinner jacket blazer and waistcoat. The trousers should be cut slim but not too skinny and certainly not baggy. Turn-up trousers are welcomed so long as they are tailored at the correct length and the trousers are tapered perfectly - if you need any advice on this, either comment below and I'll get back to you or speak to your local tailor. Leave the belt at home and opt for a pair of trousers with side adjusters. 

The shirt is an important part to the perfect tuxedo style. It has to be a crisp white shirt and in my personal opinion have a classic downwards collar. Button-down shirts should not be used, wing-tip shirts can look cheap, like you've just been to a hire shop and give an adolescent appearance. If you want a shirt fabric that is breathable then opt for a lightweight poplin weave in a 2/100s yarn count, if you want more warmth then an Oxford or herringbone weave would be a better option. Many tuxedo shirts are tailored with a fabric called 'Marcella' which has a textured appearance and often used specifically in the bib area of dress shirts. Another option is the wear a pleated shirt. If you are wearing one of these shirts, you'll want to show that in your look and therefore another reason why you should wear a low-cut waistcoat otherwise you'll just cover up the shirt details. For the buttons, I prefer classic, bone coloured mother-of-pearl to leave the chest area clean from too much clutter. A lot of people like to wear black satin covered buttons, although my personal opinion is that they look like a airport landing strip. The cuffs can be either double French cuffs and single cuffs, depending on preference and if you would like to wear cuff-links. My personal preference here is single cuffs, as I think they fit the wrist better and showcase your watch. Sometimes a double French cuff can be tailored too large and therefore covering your watch and unless you spend good money on a decent pair of cuff-links they can look like you've just won them in a Christmas cracker.

Always self tie your bow-tie, no clip-ons and if you don't know how to tie a bow-tie then practice and practice some more because it looks better and you'll get the admiration of your fellow party guests and work colleges. If you would like a YouTube tutorial on how to tie a bow-tie you can watch mine here. After you have mastered it you can play around with the shape of the bow and the knot. Try to make the knot as small as possible and the bow large in a butterfly style. As for the colour to wear, I prefer a classic black bow-tie but feel free to add your own personality here and go for some bold patterns or colours if you wish.  Do not match the bow-tie fabric/colour with your pocket square.

Shoes should be black and preferably patent shoes which is a coated leather that gives a glossy, shiny finish. If you decide to wear a pocket square, avoid matching it with the same colour as your bow-tie as it looks tacky, instead why not wear a plain white pocket square or no pocket square at all. If you have gone for an outrageous bow-tie colour and pattern, I would suggest not wearing a pocket square. 

Accessorise with a black leather strapped watch, scarf, overcoat and if you live in the UK then of course a large, durable umbrella. 

Lastly when starting my blog in 2013 it would have been an absolute dream to have been featured in GQ so this is an incredibly proud moment for me. It's an amazing way to sign off 2017 which has been a successful year but most importantly enjoyable. 

 

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Photo Credit - Andrew Barber - OmniStyle

Top 7 Skincare Products as Recommended by Menswear Bloggers

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We can't be too hard on God. It's what happens when you try and take something as wondrous and complex as the human body from concept to market in a single day. You might forget that we'll need identical thumb prints so we can unlock our iPhones with both hands. That Appendix thing? Yeah no need for that cheers. Oh and why haven't we got a built in moisturiser for our face? Oh we have? Sorry, yes of course, as you were God.

That's right, our body is clever enough to produce its own moisturiser in the form of this fat produced by the Sebaceous gland, a small oil-producing gland present in the skin of mammals. (Check out the brains on ..... Wikipedia).

However, we strip our natural oils when we use detergent cleansers on our face, or when our glands are under performing or when we just like to compete with the missus for time-territory in the bathroom.

So I've done the honourable thing and got my mates to research the best moisturiser on the market right now. Or moreover, what works for them. Here are the Top 6 men’s moisturiser as recommend by menswear bloggers.


My Recommendation - Carl Thompson

Personally the most important step of my skincare regime is eye care and I think the majority of men would agree. Reducing puffiness and dark circles under the eyes is something that I would spend good money on a product that can help with this issue for many men. I’ve used many eye creams and this Phormula 3-9 eye repair from Erno Laszlo is my top pick due to the luxurious, rich, silky texture and it’s smooth finish.


Craig Landale - MenswearStyle

I got married last year and went to South Korea as part of my honeymoon. I was amazed with the skincare game in Seoul, with a facial bar on every corner. They certainly seem to be ahead of the curve over there when it comes to skincare. As a true tourist I picked up a few souvenirs from one of the most prominent skincare stores 'innisfree'. This serum is so good for my skin that I recently asked one of my friends who was working in Seoul to bring back a bulk amount of the stuff. Craig Landale - MenswearStyle


Adam TanousThe Dapper Chapper

REN V-Cense Revitalising Night Cream is the product I’ve used consistently on my face for a while now. It’s designed to recharge and intensively hydrate the skin overnight and is suitable for all skin types. An indulgent way to finish the day. Adam TanousThe Dapper Chapper


Charlie Irons - Man About Town

In the colder months there is less moisture in the atmosphere and your skin can become dehydrated, dry and flaky.  To add insult to injury, the heating in your office and at home can further create problems and ultimately dry things out even more.  All this means your skin is constantly fighting a battle against the elements and it's important you 'equip' it with some firepower to fight back. Charlie Irons - Man About Town


John Robertson - The Everyday Man

At the moment, I’m using Gentleman's Tonic I went for a facial a couple of months back and the therapist told me I was using the wrong things on my skin. I was exfoliating too much and using a very thick moisturiser. On her recommendation, I switched to this and have already seen a positive improvement. My skin feels firmer and looks a lot healthier. John Robertson - The Everyday Man


Peter Brooker - Human Research

I once got sent a load of Aesop stuff for a review article. I wish I hadn't now because this stuff is like Moisturiser Heroin. I've blitzed through the samples now and will shortly have to be forking out real money to keep this much needed ritual going. It has lime extract which just makes my grill smell like a citrus farm. I've leant it to a couple of mates on various events and stag dos and they're hooked now. Does that me a peddler? I guess so. Peter Brooker - Human Research


Ben Heath - Twenty First Century Gent

This is by no means my complete guide to grooming, but the final product that I use religiously in my five-minute daily routine is the Tom Ford Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment. Physiologically, it helps to reduce puffiness around the eyes, and psychologically it leaves me feeling alert and mentally ready when I leave the house. Ben Heath - Twenty First Century Gent

Jöttnar Road-Tested in the Brecon Beacons | Technical Outdoor Clothing

Last weekend I was up at 3am getting prepared for a road-trip to the Brecon Beacons in Wales filming an aspirational video for Mazda UK. Before I headed off for the 4 hour journey to catch golden hour in the hills, I had to walk my dog Charlie at 3am. Without stating the obvious, London in the Winter is cold but not as cold as 2000ft up in the Beacons. So I needed some outdoor, tech, mountain wear that was going to protect me not only from the cold but also and more importantly from the wind chill and my brand of choice is for this kind of clothing is Jöttnar.

I was first introduced to the Jöttnar brand a couple of years ago when I purchased their ALFAR mid-layer hybrid jacket. I still wear this jacket most days when walking my dog in the winter, as it is lightweight, fits perfectly and is flexible enough to run in. It's warm enough to wear on its own and thin enough to layer with another jacket which I did on recent ski trip.

For my Brecon Beacons trip I wanted something warmer and water proof but also needed to be manoeuvrable as I'll be trekking up and down the hills. The design I decided on was the Jöttnar Fenrir Hooded Down Jacket in the Dark Ink colour. The first thing you'll notice is the incredible design, it really does look great on and the colour range on offer is absolutely perfect, I'm already looking to buy the Oat Yellow colour to add to my collection. It would look great when carving up the slopes during the next few months snow-boarding season with a crisp white mountainous backdrop. 

The Jöttnar men's Fenrir jacket is stuffed with a premium 93% down / 7% feather ratio which is water-repellent from DownTek™ and stays dry 10 times longer than untreated down. Unlike inferior versions, their water repellency won’t wash out and is free of harmful fluorocarbons and their ethical approach to down sourcing complies with the Responsible Down Standard.

One final note which I want to get across and have personal experience in. When I first started snow boarding, I purchased cheap skiwear, or so I thought. It actually wasn't that cheap but the quality was, it made the whole trip extremely uncomfortable. Only since investing in true outdoor, tech clothing I realised what a major difference it can have. The materials are better quality, warmer, more manoeuvrable, actually water-proof and look great. I no longer have the cheap inferior skiwear and therefore when comparing the cost per wear between the two you'll actually find that by investing a little bit more money in the right clothing, in the mid to long-term you'll actually be better off financially.

 

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Best Flexible Work Spaces in London

A good flexible work space in London, these days is hard to find. Wait didn't Feargal Sharkey sing about that? Maybe it was a B-side somewhere. I digress. Increasingly, when I'm maneuvering around London, filming, appointments what have you, it's nice to know there's a good work space within blast radius to hammer out an editorial, catch up on emails etc. I've put together a short list together of flexible work spaces in London, if you know of a good one I'd love to hear from you in the comment bar below. 

Institute of Directors - Pall Mall

There are varying degrees of membership at the IOD, but for just under a poultry £9 a month you gain free access to their business hubs nationwide including their prestigious national headquarters at 116 Pall Mall, as well as free access to over 3,000 co-working spaces globally. I'm not one for newsletters per say, but I do look forward to the free morning news round-ups from the IoD press team. These will drop into your inbox at 8am every weekday, giving you the jargon-free download on current business and political news which I get to read on the morning walks with Charlie. 

British Library - Euston

For even less than that, at circa £6.60 a month you can set up base camp at the British Library and get access to an exorbitant amount of knowledge at your fingertips (not everything can be found on Wiki). Their exclusive Members' Room has views of the King's Library and free WiFi. Or bring guests to the Knowledge Centre Bar, part of their state-of-the-art facility for everything from conferences to private events. 

Tate Britain - Millbank

I've planted this little gem 3rd on the grid but really, it should take pole position. The library & archive reading rooms at Tate Britain has a potent blend of distraction and serene tranquility. You'll be distracted because there is so much to see in the gallery, the Henry Moore sculptures, the pre-raphaelites and the free daily tours! It's free, but I urge you to make a contribution if you can. We're so privileged in this country to have access to all this information and if we don't plant some seeds back into the fields of good will, then they might never yield another harvest. I'm not entirely sure that works as a sentence, but I'll stand by it. 

Work.Life - Various

They're open Sunday! Only God is allowed to rest on a Sunday, everyone else should be hustling. Speaking of God, for £3.50 an hour Work.Life is a Godsend. Work.Life has locations in Camden, London Fields, Clerkenwell and Bermondsey. Tip if you're in Bermondsey and need to stay the night check out the Bermondsey Square Hotel, rooms from just over £100. Average night in London is now close to £130. If you're treating the missus ask for the Lucy Suite, they have a hot tub on the terrace. 

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Outfit of the Week | Men's Style Edit

How has everyone's December been so far? Mine has been super productive and I've even managed to combine working extremely hard with shed loads of going out and waking up with hangovers. The only thing that's suffered has been my fitness. Saturday I was out having a few beers with friends and I got talking to a mate of mine who is a PT and we discussed how important it is to mentally prepare for getting fit in the new year, in December. 

Take myself for example. I've not really kept fit properly since early Autumn or Summer time, and I've hit the point where I think what's the point in just doing once or twice a week as it's not going to make a blind bit of difference. I do tend to be all or nothing although after the weekends chat, I've realised that mentally it is good to 'tick along' as stopping in it's entirety is so hard mentally to get motivated again.

So tonight I'm going to trundle along in 1st gear and do a few fitness classes (or as many as possible) before the new year starts when I'll drive straight from 1st gear to 6th without stalling and hit it hard. Give it a go yourself, get prepared with your fitness goals now and reap the rewards in January.   

 

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The Morgan Plus 4 Review by Motoring Enthusiast Carl Thompson

I had the mother of all Sunday's recently, cruising the countryside of Kent in a Morgan Plus 4. First of all, it should be said it's the sort of car that strips you of all adolescent delinquency. What I mean is it's a car by grown-ups, for grown-ups. I've never been more attuned to my surroundings than when behind the wheel of this car. 

It's a visceral experience, and the only way to get the true experience with a Morgan is with the top down, no matter the weather. The driver’s seat is perched on the rear axle so you're very engaged with the car. When you enter the cockpit you'll be welcomed by that inimitable leather smell; styled from at least 4 hides.

There's good cavernous footwells and plenty of places to stash your phone and glasses. There's also room beneath the canopy to stash some crushable bags, maybe a tripod and miscellaneous accoutrements. 

It wants to be a classic, and it wants to be modern. It IS a modern car, with a modern engine and a modern gearbox. You may have seen my previous car review of the Mazda MX-5 RF that the slickness of the gearbox hit levels of notable arousability. Well this Morgan 4 Plus has a Mazda sourced 5-speed gearbox, and it's incredible faithful to how you'd expect a Morgan to feel. Similarly, it has the look of a classic. It's one of those cars that makes you feel a profound sense of achievement, although it's passing, it's perhaps not merited (I didn't build the thing) but it's there. It's undeniably there. 

What's not there? 

It's a modern car, yes, but there's no power steering, no ABS. That said the analogue dials and the cockpit itself remains unspoiled in its absence. In the Morgan’s defence, this a car that was built for people that want to feel the wind rattle in ear lobes. If you feel passionate enough to explore the cars capabilities (top speed 189 KPH) with the top down, a stereo will struggle for utility. 

In summary this car demands nothing more than your divine diligence. Yes, it has an impeccable cruise-ability feel to it. It's smooth, aesthetically it oozes character. But you can't tune out for a second behind the wheel of this Morgan. The levels of assiduity that were required on every corner, every camber, well let’s just when you get out the cockpit - you know you've earned that drive.

Visit London Morgan to view the full Morgan Motor collection.