Return of the Cravat – a contemporary look

Of all the decisions I recall making in my recent journey to explore the boundaries of style and what it means to a middle aged man, I think the most challenging has been whether or not to embrace the wearing of a cravat. The cravat, once an easy to wear item of leisure clothing, now has several connotations:
  • Will wearing a cravat make one look ridiculously old fashioned?
  • Is the cravat (as suggested by Bernard Roetzel in his book ‘Gentleman’) something only a film director, a playboy in a film script, or a military officer at weekends wears?
  • In our ‘relaxed’ society where everyone seems now to be dressed ‘casually’ is there a need to define we are in relaxed/casual mode by donning a cravat?
The great Terry Thomas
I am, as regular readers will know, inspired by the vintage styles of the 1920s and 1930s, and constantly on the look out for ways to take these vintage images and adopt them to today’s more contemporary style. The cravat, notwithstanding my above hesitations, is so prevalent in that era it naturally became an item I wished to adopt. But why wear one today at all?
Image from Cravat Club
As someone who loves to wear a tie I find the exposed neck, when not wearing a tie with an open neck shirt, esthetically challenging. My look always seems incomplete. This is, in my view, where the cravat has an essential role to play. There is a certain elegance at the weekend of wearing one with a Tattersall check or a Oxford shirt and a V-neck sweater, and I have been inspired by some vintage images to even don one with a polo shirt! An open neck shirt and blazer or tweed jacket would have been unthinkable in the past without a cravat – I even recall seeing photographs of World War 2 Battle of Britain Royal Air Force pilots wearing a cravat with their uniform (as the silk does not chaff the neck when twisting and turning the head in a cockpit during air-to-air combat).
Image from The Imperial War Museum
My search for a good cravat supplier began with my local traditional menswear store – they stocked a few, disappointingly mainly cotton rather than silk. A check on EBay found a plethora of second hand/vintage, but I am challenged by wearing something next to my skin which has been worn by other people.
Then, by chance, I came across a relatively new British company called The Cravat Club. Founded in 2014 by Julian, an avid lover of cravats, the company produces a range of beautiful silk cravats. Many are a limited edition (some are frankly a little weird!), but there is a wholesome selection of paisley, polka dot, and patterned styles in a range of colours to suit everyone – especially if you like something a little ‘edgy’. Cravat Club now sell in 50 countries around the World.
I ordered a ‘Costello’, from a limited edition of just 50. It arrived in a few days in a beautiful presentation box – something suppliers often overlook as important (especially for storage), as those of us fortunate to own a Hermes tie will attest to, there is something wonderful about keeping beautiful items in elegant packaging.
My cravat in its box
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My Hermes tie in its original box
I cannot speak highly enough of the quality of the silk, and the workmanship. Made in England as well! Once tied correctly (there is an excellent video on the Cravat Club website showing you to tie a cravat here) my cravat stays in place all day.
Contrary to my fears of appearing ridiculously old fashioned, my cravat wearing has drawn many welcome plaudits. An easy return to elegant, not shabby casual, individualistic dressing at weekends and on leave. I would encourage anyone, young, middle aged and old to revert back to this form of dress and help redress the dreadful downward spiral into cargo shorts, flip flops and t-shirts!

Stylish Cable Ties – Holdall Co

I have sometimes been accused of living too much in the past, with my love of the style of the 1920s/1930s. I prefer to think, rather as William Manchester and Paul Reid state in ‘The Last Lion’ that ‘He did not live in the past; the past lived on in him‘! One of my pleasures therefore comes from visiting museums (and often antique stores) looking for inspiration – and marvelling in how in the past much care had been given to crafting beautiful yet functional products to compliment life’s needs. I think for example of cigarette or cigar cases, writing cases, or small travelling cases for all one’s toilet requirements.
I occasionally consider the many craftsmen (and women) who designed and made these artefacts, who would be most likely delighted such items have been passed down through generations and still used today. Unfortunately the cost of such craftsmanship today all to often makes the resultant product a ‘luxury’ item, and therefore beyond the reach of many people. The result is our hideous disposable society, where we unfortunately all to easily accept plastic-style inferior mass produced ‘junk’.
I was therefore delighted to find a relatively new English company aspiring to fill this void by creating relatively affordable hand-crafted leather products with the ability to stand the test of time and become, in time, vintage pieces themselves – the company is Holdall and Co. 
They came to my attention as I grappled with finding a vintage/traditional solution to a modern problem – how to create order in my bag/briefcase with my laptop cables and especially my IPhone headphones. Holdall and Co have cleverly crafted two items (using the same full-grain bridle leather they use for their principle products) for headphone wraps and cable ties. These leather items are cut and burnished by hand.
The headphone wrap has two notches to secure any cables and the dog-bone shape for easy winding. The cable ties have a solid stud fastening which allows cables of many diameters to be secured.
In addition, and at no extra cost, both these products can be monogrammed for the ultimate bespoke finish. The result is an individual and unique personal item, one that will age and mature (as only the finest leathers can).
My order arrived this week (just 4 days after I placed the order online). Here are some photographs for the finished product in use (complete with my monogram!).
I am delighted with them, and will be monitoring them over the coming months as they slowly gain their own character and patina. Finally, perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of this find is the price – just £15 for three of each item. I consider this an excellent investment in a solution to a modern problem with a traditional vintage approach – and further proof I can still have the ‘past live on in me’!