Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Jermyn Street.

The road not taken.

There is in the West End of London a street where Patriarchy never died. To visit this street is to travel not in time (as most people think) but to an alternative history for England. A road not taken.

This street is a narcotic for me. I do not visit as often as I would like but I visit more often than I can afford. The street has also become a popular tourist destination for all who love the idea of Old England. I will share some of my favorite shops- which tend to be the cheaper ones naturally. Everything in Jermyn street is a luxury but some are luxuries that even security guards can afford.

Your first trip to the street should be reconnaissance only. The street has the effect of making us all believe we are thinner, better looking and richer than we are.

I believe a trip to Jermyn street is therapy for any man who suffers from low self esteem- and this is all of us to some extent. A woman can pamper herself because the advertisers say she is worth it but a man generally feels slightly ashamed to spend on himself. Jermyn Street will cure you of this but as I said.. leave your wallet at home on the first visit.

Dating gurus believe that good clothing is a status indicator but in fact it also shows healthy self esteem. This only works if we are doing so to please ourselves..

Women instinctively know the best means to boost themselves. Fortunately it is easier for a man to dress well because men's clothing is more about quality than fashion or the label. In fact it is almost impossible to buy any label most people would recognize in this street.

Men's clothing is initially more expensive than women's but in the longer term it is cheaper because it is built to last.

Being poor, I can only visit this street four times a year. I have some shoes that will last me for life, some beautiful shirts and some silver and stone cuff links and I wear all of these things every day of my life. I cannot say that I look much different than I ever did- but I feel different and quality pays in the longer term.

Here are some of my favorite shops.

Charles Twyrett.

Chiefly a shirt maker. The company has a US style permanent sale and it is quite difficult to know what to buy. I have produced a guide to the basic choices but you should follow your gut. Choose your fit, your collar styling and cuffs and your preferred weave and grade of cotton. If the shop does not have it they will get it- but have an opinion before you go in. If you do not love the result then walk away. Jermyn street is about love- anything less than passion simply will not do.

Shop at Christmas and you get mulled wine and minced pies.

A good shirt should change the way you feel

TM Lewin, a very similar outfit is also on the street but somehow it has never excited me in the same way.

Hilditch and Key.

This company is also a shirt maker by tradition (as are most Jeymyn street retailers). It is more expensive than Charles Twyrett and I am trying not to fall in love as I really cannot afford it. Hilditch and Key cannot match the chains such as Charles Twyrett for gloss and marketing but they offer a made to measure service and operate their own UK factory. They are said to have good sales and I will sample their wares in January.

Some of their accessories (such as sterling silver collar stiffeners and some imaginative cuff links) are very similar in price to Charles Twyrett and very distinctive.


I admit I will probably never buy from this shop. I include it as a history lesson. The shop has stood here since 1730 and for much of that time sold only male fragrances. It is commonly believed that women discovered scent and turned men into 'metrosexuals' but the fact that this shop has stood on this spot since 1730 disproves this.

It is like something out of Dickens.

Taylors of Old Bond St

This was not originally a Jermyn st shop but has been there more than a century without changing its name. This shop sells almost nothing but old fashioned razors and shaving brushes in infinite variety. Once you have learnt to shave the old way you will not go back. The old rigmarole sets one up for the day.

A top class shaving kit must be the ultimate way for a man to show that he values himself. By visiting this shop you may choose the kit that suits you perfectly.

The shop is also home to many English shoemakers. I have always been happy with the much cheaper shoes in Charles Twyrett (made by Loake). These cost from £100 upwards and can be expected to last a minimum of twenty years- so choose wisely.

The statue is of Beau Brummel, the famous dandy who died penny-less having spent his fortune on himself.- maybe not the best advertisement they could have found.

There are many alternatives that I have not mentioned.

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