The Garmsman Dozen #14: Chris from Great Britain

Welcome to the 14th instalment of the “Garmsman Dozen” question and answer session. The response so far has been tremendous. Did you miss earlier ones? There are links at the end of the page.

This week we welcome to the Garmsman Dozen Christopher Laverty from Great Britain!

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

Christopher Laverty. York, UK. 40 years old.

Author of book Fashion in Film, broadcaster, creator of website Clothes on Film and costume consultant.

Twitter: @clothesonfilm, Instagram: @lordlaverty, @christopherlaverty, Facebook: @clothesonfilm.

I enjoy movies, decent TV, clothes, clothes in movies, clothes in decent TV, bourbon, pipe smoking, cigars (preferably Cuban), cocktail making, cycling, running and twirling my moustache.

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

Honestly, I don’t remember much of my childhood. Controversially I don’t many of us really do, we just piece together memories from what we’re told and photographs. With that in mind, I’ll go to my late teenage years when I first remember becoming interested in clothes. It was the mid-late 1990s so a lot of pale, shapeless denim jeans worn way too long with thick, oversized shirts and suede Kickers. This is probably why I gravitated toward the vintage scene which at this time was big on 1970s retro revival. My favourite buy was a tan leather trench coat, probably from the late 1970s, made in Egypt with a Selfridges label. It was immaculate. I purchased for £25 from Covent Garden market and still have it today. I don’t wear the coat much as it’s a little on the nose these days and verging on dress up, but at least it still fits! I do come from a family interested in clothes, particularly my dad. I was born to older parents (they are in their late eighties now) and with an older brother (now 60) and sister (53). I was spoilt rotten. Apparently, I even had a tailored coat, which to a working-class family is quite a fancy thing. My appreciation of clothes comes from understanding how they are made, their design, influences and appropriateness to the era. This is all born in me I think.

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

It’s one of two things depending on my mood, time of year, facial hair and hairstyle: 1) denim and workwear, Edwardian influenced to 1930s OR 2) 1970s lounge with flared three-piece suits. I like to change things up because I get bored easily. It does have to be a specific look though – I have to feel that it ticks certain boxes, although saying that I do loathe the idea of sticking rigidly to eras or historical accuracy. My main influence for the 70’s is television programmes such as The Persuaders! and The Professionals and films such as Fear is the Key and Carlito’s Way. For workwear, it’s more print-based influences, like old photographs of miners and ranchers, but also films like The First Great Train Robbery and There Will Be Blood. I pull from wherever I like, really. Again, it’s not rigid; I’m not a re-enactor, I’m just someone who enjoys a period-specific feel to their dress.

How do you think others would describe your style and garments, do you get any reaction from friends and random strangers?

Totally, though a lot of that comes from random moustache admirers/hecklers. I don’t mind, so long as it’s polite. People will always point out what is different and, if I’m honest, I get a kick out of it. I think my friends just list random people they consider could be associated with my look – I’ve had everything from Shaft to a Spitfire pilot. It’s all good fun unless you choose to be offended (which I don’t because life is far too short to be cross and moaning all the time).

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

Need, mainly. I don’t really seek out any clothing unless I’m specifically short on something, like a henley t-shirt or new pair of boots. Most clothes come to me, in that I might stumble across a charity shop find or somebody acquires a shirt or whatever they think I’d like. I don’t really pay full price for anything. For example, I bought some suede chukka boots by Alfred Sargent last year, but only because they were offered to me by a friend who’d found them (in immaculate condition I might add) in a charity shop. I certainly didn’t need the boots but I’ll not turn my nose up at a bargain. I love clothes, though my wardrobe is actually quite capsule. I think there’s nothing worse than just buying willy-nilly and ending up with so much gear you can hardly store it all. This actually diminishes sartorial creativity in my view.

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

Not really. I think I know what works and just go with that. I’ll plan more if it’s an occasion outfit but for every day I just grab what I like depending on the weather. Putting together an ensemble can be fun, but I do think if you take too long it becomes fussy and convoluted. If in doubt, take it out.

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?

Probably my RM Williams boots. They are Craftsman Yearling, the finest boot RM Williams make in my opinion and they work with almost any outfit. I purchased on eBay nearly a decade ago for about £100. The leather is cracking a tad now but I couldn’t be without them. That said, I wouldn’t burn alive for them either so this better be a fairly mild fire we’re talking about here.

Photo by Ben Bentley

Photo by Ben Bentley

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’m not spendthrift, even less so if I’m buying for others. If something fits and looks great and I can afford it and need it, I’ll buy it. I do like things that are in a sale or reduced though – it just feels more fun to make that purchase. In this respect, I wish I could support more artisan brands but they are just too rich for my blood. The sad thing is I know that the guys running these places and making these clothes and footwear are just getting by as is. If I was rich I’d probably shop with an eye toward supporting homegrown brands, but as things stand whoever can give me what I want for the best possible price is going to get my money.

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?

My go to is probably a green ribbed cotton henley (from H&M), Marlboro leather and canvas braces (charity shop), Levi LVC 1878 jeans (eBay) and my RM Williams boots. This outfit suits just about every occasion, unless you want me attending your wedding or something. It’s comfortable to travel, work, socialise and chill in. Simple but effective in my opinion.

What would you never wear?

That’s a tough one. Basically, anything that looks awful on me, so very baggy trousers or jeans (I’m a short-ass), super-tight muscle tees (they are hilarious even if you have the body) and chunky hi-top trainers (love them on other people but I look like a failed hip-hop artist). Oh and baseball caps. Every time I put one on I look like I’m dying of some disease.

Photo by David Wade

Photo by David Wade

What are your best tips for buying?

If you’re talking specifically about buying for my look, either workwear or 70’s inspired, then I’d say eBay, charity shops and vintage fairs. Got to be patient though and realise that, in the main, if you’ve found a bargain, someone else has too. People know their stuff a lot more these days so everyone has their eye out. For basics, I find H&M hard to beat. It’s not the highest quality and sometimes their stores are saturated with desperately on-trend crap, but in general, for easy tees and shirts, they are a goldmine (plus have lots of year-round sales).

Do you have a dream garment you’d love to own?

A few years ago I would have said a Savile Row suit but I think I desired one for the wrong reasons. It was a case of wanting to say I’ve had a suit cut on Savile Row rather than wanting the garment itself. I must admit I have always hankered after a beautifully tailored flared leg suit from the 1970s. I have a couple of off-the-peg examples but I’d love one bespoke. Suits of this era with that distinctive cut, the high waist, flared leg, high double vents and pagoda shoulder are not impossibly hard to find, though ones made from high-quality wool suiting are. Also, I’m a sucker for LVC Levi. I’d buy most of it just to hang on my wall and salivate over.

Anyone that buys clothes will have made mistakes, what is your most memorable bad buy?

Loads! When I used to buy more and think later I grabbed many a mistake. Possibly my worst was a pair of loose Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, from eBay if I remember correctly. Not sure what look I was going for. LA surfer, possibly? Or maybe just asshole. Either way, unsurprisingly, they didn’t work.

Do you have any style icons, historic or current?

Most of the looks I covet are from films so were put together by costume designers rather than the stars in question. Then again, stars and icons had stylists back in the day and they have stylists now. Cary Grant always nailed it. James Coburn could rock the Ivy. Nowadays Sebastian Stan constantly looks interesting without going too bananas (he has a brilliant stylist and an easy to dress bod too, mind). My elderly dad has a wonderfully open love of bright colour, which I admire and is daring for a former market trader from the East End of London. ‘Be more like him’ I often think.

Who are your favourite Instagram profiles?

What you mean apart from @Welldresseddad??? 😉 I like all the sartorial based accounts I follow. Two, in particular, indulge my passion for high-end workwear denim that I can’t afford: @kingchung501 and @vorstenbos. Anyone who doesn’t take it all too seriously, basically.

How do you think trends such as denim and heritage style will evolve and survive? What will be the next big thing?

I think more and more people will get into making their own clothes. We are not there yet, and I certainly don’t presently have the skills, but big picture I feel this will get easier and easier to do in our own home. Sustainability is a big trend and not going anywhere – and really it can’t afford to. Denim especially will go down this route. Like I said we are a way off, but with current textile innovations and online communities, it is coming.

Thank you!

Thank you for your Garmsman Chris!

Photo by David Wade

Photo by David Wade

Did you miss the first Garmsman Dozens?

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 (@) gmail.com

 

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