The Garmsman Dozen #2: Shaun from Scotland

Reading Time: 16 minutes

After last weeks popular first instalment in this new series, we follow up with another case study of a modern gentleman. Whereas Jon last week was more into bespoke suits and vintage militaria, this week Shaun shares his insight into dressing well on a budget, through hunting elusive bargains on eBay and charity shops.

Who are you, where do you live and what interests you?

Name: Shaun, 47
Location: Giffnock, outside Glasgow in Scotland
Job: I’ve been a stay at home Dad for about 3 years after retiring through ill health. I spent the majority of my career working in Retail in Planning, Design and Management with both small specialist retailers and large Multi-National companies.
Hobbies: I collect books and maps, I’m interested in social history, music and clothes.

Thinking back to your childhood, what were your most memorable or favourite clothes?

When I was 13 or 14 I was given my first pair of Dr Martens shoes and I remember sitting in class staring at them thinking how wonderful they were. That’s where it all started!! At 15 I bought a black roll neck jumper and a lilac cardigan from Next that I adored and wore constantly. Then at 16-17 in College, I often wore a shirt and loud print tie bought from Flip Clothing which dealt in second-hand Americana style clothes. I had a Green MA1 Bomber jacket that I wore constantly.

How would you describe your style today, and what are your influences?

My style today is fairly relaxed. I never wear a suit and tie anymore so its always dress down. Today I’m wearing Acne jeans, a Common People jumper and a denim shirt from Marks & Spencer and a trusty pair of Grenson boots. All of this clothing was bought from eBay. If I’m going out I will put on a vintage Barbour or a Harris Tweed jacket, and a scarf, always a scarf.

I developed my style out of initially having a bit of an obsession with how things fit on me. I would see people with jeans too long, too tight, or jackets too short, sleeves too long. The more I saw of this the more it bothered me so that influenced what I wore.
Then it was all about mixing and matching textures, so how denim looked with cashmere, merino wool with Harris Tweed etc. It’s almost like an extra dimension to menswear. And then I always think about the budget, I like a bargain, there is far too much fast fashion and people buying things to wear once or buying cheaply and things falling apart.I couldn’t afford to spend a fortune on the clothing I wanted so that’s where eBay comes in.

When looking for clothes, what factors play into your selections?

I would say I buy 90% of my clothes from eBay. The other 10% would be charity shops, TK Maxx and occasionally online stores clearance sections. Going into a High St Shop, selecting and buying a full priced item isn’t something I’ve done for years, genuinely years.

It’s rarely something I need but it could be a particular style of coat I’m wanting or when random searching eBay something that looks a bargain that I would wear. I have brands that I know I can trust the quality of and I try and research any brand I don’t know. I’ll ask additional questions regarding fit and always want to see the labels.
I’m a fan of Barbour (I have 4) as I know they last and I think a new one looks terrible. DAKS Simpson I love, beautifully made. Uniqlo makes great clothes that are excellent value. Dunn &Co went out of business in 1996 but there is still a lot of new old stock about and the quality and fit of their outerwear is fantastic, all made in the UK as well. John Smedley is my favourite knitwear again because even second hand it lasts if looked after.

When putting together an outfit combination, do you spend a lot of time considering it?

Yes and No. Anyone that cares about the clothes they wear and how that looks does spend some time, at some time thinking about outfits.

I would normally never do this in the morning because there’s usually lots to do, deadlines to keep, children asking you to find shoes and pencils.
So I would, in quiet moments, pick some things out, put them on the bed or on my mannequin (best thing for selling on eBay). I don’t see it as any sort of art form, outfits just sometimes go together, you’re not sure why.
For me its lots to do with texture, rough denim, smooth merino, rough wool and silk scarf. Plains and Patterns. Doesnt take long but its worth the time.Weather appropriate is a big thing too, about judging what you will be doing on the day and working out whether you will end up freezing or a sweaty mess.

Most garmsmen will have a few “grail items” in their collection. Not to out you, but if your house is burning, which garments do you grab?

This could potentially change weekly! A pair of John Lewis &Co. Boots, Incotex Chinos, Blue John Smedley Crew Neck, Denim Shirt from Uniqlo, Tweed Jacket from Dunn & Co and a Belstaff Trialmaster to throw over it.

 Are you budget-conscious or spendthrift? Are you a single-shot shopper, or go large and buy bulk? Where are you on slow-fashion and buying less?
I am very much around buying used items that will last me a lifetime. I don’t follow fashion as such. I genuinely find older clothing better made and I’m still excited by being able to purchase these items for a reasonable amount, and know that they will get a lot of wear and care. Everything is a one-off purchase and is often is a find on eBay that I wouldn’t have thought of purchasing. I have to make a quick decision “do I have something similar ??” and  “would it fit in with my existing clothes?”. If I make a mistake I either re-sell or donate it to charity. These vast High St emporia fill me with dread and a bit of disgust really. Acres of badly made clothing that’s being piled high into baskets without a thought of the conditions into which they were made. Cheap for a reason, made to a price. Not for me.

Having a large collection of clothes can lead to changing outfit on a daily basis, but if you were going to wear a single outfit the next two weeks, what would it be?

There is something to be said for wearing a similar set of clothes daily. If you know something suits you, fits well, it takes a lot of the thought process out of it, although I would have to allow some variation with outerwear depending on the weather.

I would go for dark brown Derby shoes with a Commando or Dainite sole. I don’t really understand the continued use of leather soles, I find them uncomfortable, unsafe and wear down very quickly, a Dainite sole is as formal and a Commando makes your shoes winterproof. I’m not keen on light tan shoes as I find them too bright and show, dark brown blend better.
Trousers next and it would be a dark tan pair of slimmer leg chinos. I have Incotex ones that are a lovely thick cotton and are made to last. I think cotton trousers are a bit more versatile than jeans and also a bit smarter.
A navy blue cashmere crewneck I find just goes with everything and I do often just wear one for days at a time. I always prefer a crew-neck to a V-neck, I find V-necks are a bit too much golfing-jumper at times, A white cotton Oxford shirt always looks smart.
Outerwear I’d go for a trusty tweed jacket, I have a Dunn & Co vintage one in a green herringbone Harris Tweed which is warm, not too heavy and fits well. However, as the weather can turn on a sixpence (and we wear clothes to protect us from the elements ultimately ) I would also grab a Belstaff Trialmaster I have dating from the late seventies. It has seen better days and is worn in, to say the least, but new ones (and new Barbours) never seem to look right to me. This one was bought at a farmers auction in Pitlochry in about 1993 and had clearly been lying in a barn for quite some time. I had to keep steeping it in increasingly warm water and line dry before rewaxing it. I keep meaning to send it to Belstaff for refurbishment but I’m fearful it’ll come back looking too new.
I would have to take a scarf, they’re something I own lots of and I usually wear one out in the summer. I have so many favourites though it’s difficult to choose.
When I looked back at this list I realised I do wear these most days!

What would you never wear?

I hate to be negative but I do have a long list of things I don’t wear and have an intense dislike of. I don’t really buy into all those articles about “Don’t wear this after 40/50 etc” but there is an element of truth there. As you get older you do get to know what suits you and you become more aware of how others dress in your peer group.

I know its a cliche but sportswear and sportswear specific fabrics are just for that. Not for daily wear. They aren’t any more comfortable, they are certainly not cheaper and you are usually acting as a walking talking advert for the brands. Any exterior branding for me is a bit ridiculous. I never feel the need to continuously advertise and to me, it ruins a garment.
Pointed formal shoes never look right, ever, especially when in a brown colour that reminds me of Chicken Korma. Unless you are 19 and in a boyband skinny jeans look terrible, and even worse when overly short. Blazers just look as if the maker has mixed up the sizing. And I like socks, apart from when I’m paddling in the sea I can see no other reason to remove them when out.
Despite being a huge fan of vintage clothing is not a fan of it becoming a costume, where every item has to be from a specific era and it becomes all-consuming. I wear it because I like the quality and fit and it offers a style I like that isn’t available now. It’s not a way of life for me, just nice clothes

What are your best tips for buying?

As I mentioned before I do the vast majority of my clothes buying via eBay. I do sell through eBay too, although this is becoming less cost effective with higher fees and timewasters and dreamers. I could write a long essay on eBay buying, there is so much that can go wrong. But on the whole, there are enough good people selling good clothes, decent photos and accurately portrayed. I do my searching two way usually.

First by selecting Time Ending Soonest, Auction Only and selecting Menswear.This is where you need to think quick, have a decent broadband speed and take risks. If its a busy time, the items come quickly, this way has scored me amongst others Edwin Jeans for £4.99, Gloverall Duffle for £9.99… I could go on.
The second way is finding a brand you like and doing a bit of research on what price it’s selling for, how quick it’s selling, how’s the bidding going and then try and grab a bargain.
I always try and imagine what I would wear an item with and when I’d wear it, it’s only a bargain if you are going to get some use out of it. Sizing is a minefield. A lot of sellers, especially reputable vintage ones will give you very detailed measurements but some will just say “Large”. If they want a sale they will measure it for you if you ask. This is most important with outerwear which especially with vintage can be oversized if you are used to today’s sizing. We needed it in the days before central heating and Air Conditioned cars.

Do you have any style icons, historic or current?

As much as I like looking at pictures of old Hollywood Stars and “Style Icons” I wouldn’t say they particularly influence me as I always see them in their historical context which to me enhances the cool factor considerably. Pictures of ordinary people doing ordinary things in everyday settings inspire me more, how the working man stayed stylish.

Modern-day there are a few people whose style I admire, I enjoy Scott Schumans The Sartorialist website and Thousand Yard Style. I find Carlos Castillo who runs the Man 1924 store in Madrid always manages to combine smart and casual and looks like it’s his own style. Same with Alessandro Squarzi who never looks as if he’s trying too hard.
Finally, the Style Director of Esquire US Nick Sullivan is a guy around my age that wears decent clothes, doesn’t take it too seriously and knows what suits him.

How do you see your style evolving going forwards?

One item I’ve been interested in recently has been the Army Jacket. On the whole, they are very well made using excellent material (well they had to last didn’t they ?) and the styles of them do not look like you are an extra from Full Metal Jacket. If you keep the rest of your outfit fairly formal they look very smart.

But a word of warning, some are becoming very expensive as they become collector’s items in the Militaria World. The Italian, Dutch and Swedish stuff tends to be cheaper than British and American but bargains can still be had through eBay and Surplus Military Dealers, lots of new old stock around so you don’t need to worry about the original owner having met a ghastly end in the Battle of the Bulge.
Thank you, Shaun!
Did you miss the first Garmsman Dozen, click here to read Jons answers.
PS: If you have suggestions for participants, let me know. Or have your mother suggest you, if you’re a bit keen to suggest yourself. My email is WellDressedDad (@)
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  • Roland Novak 25/02/2018 at 10:08

    Great Shaun! Lots of new ways for hunting on eBay for me 😜

  • Shaun Brown 25/02/2018 at 10:28

    Thank you Roland! I find your style a bit of an inspiration actually

  • Lizzie 25/02/2018 at 11:26

    I remember my dad buying a Harris Tweed jacket from Dunn’s in Winchester, probably in the early 1970s. I think that is actually when I first heard of Harris Tweed. My mum thought he was very cuddly in it…..

    My most expensive piece of clothing is a Barbour jacket bought in 2011 for about £200, as a birthday present to myself, and which I still love and feel good wearing it absolutely anywhere. I’ve rewaxed it twice, and mended it as well, which I blogged about.

    • nick 25/02/2018 at 11:51

      Classic traditional quality can last almost forever with just a little care. Which I guess makes it a little hard for companies trying to survive selling such garments. If you like a traditional Harris Tweed jacket you can find any number of them secondhand or vintage, the tweed just lasts forever unless abused. Waxed jackets look best when a little worn, hence a lively secondhand market for them as well.
      I read your piece about repairing your jacket, job well done!

  • Alexander S.-Telin 04/03/2018 at 10:45

    Thanks for initiating this series, Nick! I like how Shaun put it in regards to texture-matching that it’s like an” extra-dimension to menswear”! That’s exactly how I feel about clothing and what usually is the most important factor to me after fit.

    Almost got confused by the use of the word “sportswear” — the American connotation springs to mind first 😀

    Keep it up and good day!


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