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Essentials

SetUp until now, my essentials collection has been based very much around fashion essentials, the kind of garments and accessories that build a gentleman’s wardrobe to last beyond trends. However, as we decided in early 2015, there is more to being a gentleman than lapel flowers and well laced brogues. A gentleman needs to be worldly and well traveled, he needs to know his way around the kitchen and most importantly, he needs to have a good repertoire of cocktails that he can call on when the night (or day) requires it.

Now, we all know the old adage about having the right tool for the job and this is no exception, second to the ingredients the right cocktail tools are paramount to getting your drinks perfect. After all, cocktails date back as far as the 17th and 18th century, so really it’s not just about mixing vodka with whatever fruit juice or fizzy beverage you have lying around, but rather a tried and tested combination of flavours mixed and chilled in a specific way to provide that delicious “tastes like more” feeling.

Before I wright these posts I always like to research them extensively so that I can at least seem like I know what Im talking about, and this has been by far the most difficult. The story of the cocktail seems to be one shrouded in mystery, everything from the origin of the word ‘cock tail’ to the origin of the actual mixed drink revolution seems to be up for debate, the Americans claim they started the movement while the brits claim they passed it on to the Americans. I love this excerpt from an article in the daily telegraph that details the history of the cocktail “But exactly what, beyond the ice, is so American about a drink of British gin and Italian or French vermouth mixed by an Irish or German immigrant?”. As far as the origin of the name goes, there are no less than 10 stories my favourite (and that which appears to make the most sense) is the fact that it was customary to dock the tail of a mixed breed horse in the 19th century causing the tail to stand up like a cocks tail, the horses were mixed, the drinks were mixed – BOOM – Cocktails.

So, over the next few weeks, months, years (depending on when I run out of drinks / stop blogging) I’ll be bringing you some  classic drinks and how to make them, so you’re gonna need the right tools for the job, and here they are:

Shaker-(2)mixing-glass-(2)The first think you need to know is wether your drink is shaken or stirred – yes, that right, it’s a real thing. The only problem is, that Mr Bond was wrong, or at least ordering his drinks in bad taste, a martini is always stirred rather than shaken.

The premiss of the 2 different methods depends on what kind of drink you are making and what you expect the outcome to be. Shaking will often result in a cloudy drink (said to bruise the spirits) while stirring will result in a drink that maintains the clarity of the original liquor. Both methods though are quite simply used to mix as well as chill the ingredients before serving.

The cocktail shaker seems to date back as far at 7000BC, maybe not as a fancy cocktail shaker, but as a device used for mixing, it really only took on it’s modern day form around the late 1800’s when a bartender put 2 glasses together to shake a drink between them inventing what is today called the Boston shaker. The shaker above is called a cobbler shaker it’s a three-piece cocktail shaker that has tapers at the top and ends with a built-in strainer and includes a cap. The cap can often be used as a measure for spirits or other liquids.

As far as the mixing glass goes – I have nada! I literally can not find one article on it’s history or origin. It stands to reason though that it probably evolved from a normal glass into its fancy modern day form.

stirring-spoon-(2)This tool, the barspoon, is used in conjunction with the stirring glass and quite obviously is used to stir the drink inside the glass. The twisted handle is said to make it easier to spin the spoon (one of the methods of stirring). The other end of the spoon can vary quite a bit in anything from a muddler (we’ll get to that in ‘cocktail sets 2.0’) to a thermometer or in this case a trident fork used for adding garnish to your drinks.

Copper-strainergold-strainerSo what do you do, once your drink has been shaken or stirred? Well, as it is often done over ice you want to strain it leaving the ice behind allowing the chilled liquid deliciousness to tell it’s story.

Above are 2 different strainers, traditionally used in different applications, but not necessarily. The most common is the Hawthorne strainer, recognisable by it’s spring around the edge used to create a snug fit in the metal part of the Boston shaker or cobbler shaker when a finer strain is required.

The julep strainer is traditionally used in a mixing glass, fitting snugly into the glass and being held in place by your hand.

JiggersLastly we have the jigger. Jigger what?

This, quite simply is your measuring tool with one measure being twice as large as the other. Making the perfect cocktail is all about dosage and the correct proportion of ingredients, it really isn’t a splash of this and a dash of that. You’ll also find that cocktail recipes are often given in units or parts, rather then actual measurements making it easier to prepare one drink for a number of people.

And, thats it for now people. We’re going to be going down this cocktail exploration path together, should be fun right? I know the burning question on everyones mind is, okay, well, where did you get the beautiful gold and copper stuff above then? It was an amazing chistmas gift from better half Elzaan, the secret to their origin though, much like the word cocktail, remains unknown.

Okay. Stay fancy.

Monk StrapsI dont do these posts often, but they started off as one of my blog fundamentals – Education in mens fashion. Not because I was an expert, because I’m certainly not, but because I realised most guys ddint know enough about what they wore to make an educated choice, so between Menswear 101 and Dressiquete I imparted a few tidbits of history and menswear rules (often dictated by history).

I usually put a new post up when I’m speaking to someone and they say something like “What’s a Monk strap” then I realise I still have work to do. Hence the reason for this post.

The monk strap, as the name implies is a shoe style named after the european monks who wore a buckled shoe due to the additional protection they offered in comparison to the sandals they were accustomed to wearing or the ‘difficult to remove’ boots – a problem when walking in and out of monasteries all day I suppose.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, they look a little something like this. Take note of the labels as I’ll be speaking about them later.

Monk Straps3A strap is defined as a narrow piece of leather used to fasten something or offer support, in this case it combines with the buckle in order to fasten the shoe. This is of course the monk strap’s most defining feature as the quarters of the shoe are fastened with buckles at the side rather than with laces laces in the middle as with the Derby or Oxford shoe.

The number of buckles can and will vary on monk strap shoe, personally I’m not a massive fan of the single monk (1 strap) and find the triple monk to be overkill (or maybe I just haven’t seen one I like), but the double monk…the double monk is like goldilocks and the three bears ie: It’s just right. I only recently acquired my first pair of monk shoes and a second pair followed very quickly after. I now have to stop myself wearing them with everything in fear that they will just get ruined.

These shoes have become such a big part of my wardrobe, I have decided that I have no choice, but to make them a WMBW Essential.

EssentialsDespite having been around for centuries, like most fashion they have only recently made a massive comeback – by recently I’de say the last couple of years.

Their popularity is said to come from the grandfather of style Mr Lino Leluzzi, one of the Sartorialists favourite subjects and owner of the Al Bazar haberdashery (I did a mini feature of him in my Sartorial Sundays #7 post quite a while back) possibly making them the most worn shoe at Pitti Uomo.

Truthfully I think there popularity is owed to their versatility, with these shoes dressing up or down with zero effort. they give a suit an extra dapper edge but feel as much at home paired up with some skinny chinos or even an old pair of jeans – though you maybe want to undo the top buckle for that added sartorial detail in that case.

side-viewunder-shoeback-viewThe shoes above are from Paul Evans, and are possibly one of the most beautiful pair I’ve ever owned. The craftsmanship is impeccable all the way down to a leather sole that matches the colour of the shoe. If you’re in the market for some, You can get them here.

Okay. stay fancy.

 

Clubmaster-essentialThe clubmaster sunglasses are a perfect example of the cyclical nature of fashion. These iconic sunglasses have a long history of fashion, originally called the brownie or browline glasses they were the most common style of eye glasses in the 1950’s and early 1960’s and therefore found there way onto just about everybody’s face, most noticeably Black liberationist Malcolm X.

They found there way back into popular culture when Bruce Willis wore a pair of tinted browlines on the show moonlighting creating a massive demand for the browline sunglasses. As Ray Ban already dominated the market with their Aviator and Wayfarer models, they created the clubmaster sunglasses we have today apparently named after there popularity with jazz musicians in the 50’s club scene.

In the mid 2000’s the style once again gained popularity with 50’s and 60’s fashion culture returning to the mainstream and with shows like Mad Men making everything retro cool, the club master saw a massive resurgence. Todays clubmasters come in all kinds of shapes and colours, from steel frames to wooden ones and even clubmasters that fold up into your pocket. Personally I’m a big fan of the original tortoise shell design from the late 80’s.

clubmasters

So what makes these an essential for me?

Well, any fashion item that has seen it’s way in and out of fashion for the better part of half a century is clearly here to stay. The outstanding design and true style will always be rediscovered. I love these guys so much, I even got myself a pair of spectacles too match, I wear them when I need too channel my inner Don Draper. It works too.

spectaclesSo, I’ve decided to make the browline spectacle my essential 6.5 cause really they go hand in hand. Remember classic never goes out of style.

Okay. Stay fancy.

 

Dress-watchIve always been a fan of the simple dress watch.

No bells and whistles, just a leather strap and a simple clear face. In fact as time has gone by, my watches have gotten simpler and simpler, dropping all the chronographs and date windows for something that, well, just tells the time really.

For ages I’ve been a massive fan of Uniformwares watches, and I guess I still am, but I recently picked up one of these Daniel Wellington watches and there is just something a little more dapper about them. The slim face, the slight detailing, It’s the perfect dress watch. Why? Well the slimmer the face the easier it is for it to slip under your dress shirt, it also fits the classic dress watch look, with its precious metal casing and leather strap.

watch-strap watch-rolled-up watch-backThe leather strap is what makes this guy feel more classic right? But wait, there’s a trick and it’s what made me love these guys. The straps are all interchangeable, but not only leather straps, lots of fun Nato straps too so you can dress it up or down and match it to your outfit.

These guys have just landed in South Africa (well, kinda, they’ve slowly been making there way into tiny boutique stores and markets) You can now get the full collection online at Kiph.

Happy shopping people!

Okay. Stay fancy.

back-packI recently picked up this Sgt Pepper brand backpack at Stuttafords, as you know I’ve wanted one of these old school backpacks for a while, it was even my want of the week a couple weeks ago.

I liked the fact that this one was made of real leather and canvas with lot’s of little details, so I took the plunge! And it has very quickly become one of my most essential items. I’ve used it as an overnight bag, a beach bag, a laptop bag (todays use) a bag to keep my shopping as I cruise around on my bike and of course a day pack! It’s awesome, and I’ll be telling how you can win one, at the end of this post.

The history of the backpack is a strange one, and so the origin of the modern backpack is not very easy to define. After all, Nena Ketley rightfully claimed “man has been carrying stuff on his back forever a back pack is nothing new” and forever it is, as this little accessory dates back to our hunter gatherer days when it was used as a way of transporting the hunt back to the camp – all be it in much smaller pieces.

Since then it has found it’s way into to everything from the military to the school yard with no real linear progression. The retro revival backpacks seem to be inspired by hiking and military backpacks of the 60’s and I’m ok with that, cause shit was kinda cool back then.

Ok, so, the guys at Sgt Pepper Brand have offered to send a new backpacks to one of you lucky people. Nice uh!?? Yeah it is! So this is how we’re gonna do it.

• You need to be following Sgt Pepper Brand on twitter

• You need to be following me on Twitter

• Then you simply need to tweet “I want the @sgtpepperbrand back pack @whatmybfwore is giving away” – I’ll also be throwing out some similar tweets and you can re tweet those too. We just need both brands and the competition in there.

• The competition runs from the 5th of Feb to the 12th with the winner announced on the 14th – yep Valentines day – OoowOoow (I wont penalise you for entering today though)

• This competition I’m afraid is only open to people living in South Africa.

Okay people, good luck.

Stay Fancy.

 

Denim-JacketThe denim jacket was originally just that, a jacket made of denim and used as workwear dating back to the 1870’s that had arrived hard on the heels of the first denim jeans – seemed an obious next step I guess.

It wasnt however till 1905 that Levis Straus & Co introduced the denim jacket as we know it now, or ‘lot 506’ as it was known back then. Well, I guess as we know it now is a bit of a stretch, it was a riveted denim jacket with front pleats (that could be unstitched to allow for the addition of extra layers) that featured 1 breast pocket and buckle-back that made it appear fitted.

The jacket went through many different forms and many imitations till 1962 when the Levi’s introduced the 557XX with its two flapped pockets, v shaped seams running down the front and adjustable button sides. It was named ‘the trucker’ by its fans, namely long distance haulage drivers who adopted it, taking the look away from cowboys and in to the easy rider counterculture.

The jacket has still undergone and I’m sure will continue to undergoe many changes and adjustments but I think it will always remain a classic must have piece. The one featured above is one of my favourite current pieces and is the slim fitting trucker. I love the versatility of both the weight of the jacket (making it perfect for change of season weather) and the style where it never feels out of place worn with a tee or a tie.

If you don’t already own one, and you really should, here are some priced from good value to highway robbery.

In order of price from top to bottom:

Get Levis denim jacket (as featured above) here Yeah, I tend to go for value

Get G Star denim jacket here

Get Dolce & Gabbana denim jacket here

Okay. Stay fancy.

cardigan

The cardigan’s origin dates back to the 17th century as a piece of traditional fisherman’s clothing, but it was not until James Thomas Brudnell (the 7th Earl of Cardigan) lead a suicidal cavalry charge against a Russian canyon killing all of his men that the garment become famous. You see, James Brudnell wore it because he could slip it on and off without disarranging his hair and after that whole disastrous cavalry ride made him the talk of the town, the cardigan was adopted as a fashion craze in high society.

It was only after the Second World War that cardigans left the world of formal attire and became symbolic of relaxation. From here on they were adopted by golfers and singers alike, everyone from Arnold Palmer to Bing Crosby and even singers who like to golf like ol’ blue eyes, Mr Frank Sinatra, who was said to have dropped $30 000 a year on knitwear at his local club house.

It wasn’t until Kurt Cobain wore his cardigan in the 1990’s as part of his grunge look that the garment lost its grandpa stigma and became a piece of the modern mans wardrobe. For me, the cardigan still carries I like a little bit of both worlds, the ‘dapper granmps’ and the ‘urban trendsetter’ which makes it super versatile.

So, why do I consider it an essential, well, I just said, it’s super versatile, it works as well casually with some jeans and a t-shirt as it does layered under a sports coat with a tie, or even worn as a jacket on its own.

I reccomend getting a couple in different textures and weights, each of them will offer a different wardrobe solution.

The one above is my current favourite, Its nice and chunky and really nails the grandpa look with that roll (or shawl) collar. If you wanna get your hands on something similar, check out the options below in everything from “cheap and cheerful” to “you get what you pay for”

 

From top to bottom:

Get the Brave Soul Shawl Neck Cardigan here

Get the Vito Cable Cardigan here

Get the Lyle & Scott Vintage Cardigan with Shawl Collar here

Okay. Stay fancy.