10 Lessons in Style from Hardy Amies

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Hardy Amies S/S15
Hardy Amies S/S15Photography by Rosaline Shahnavaz

In celebration of the S/S15 presentation yesterday, and 60 years since the late Amies wrote his ABC guide to Men's Fashion, AnOther takes a lesson in style from Sir Hardy Amies

“A man should look as if he’s bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them,” were the immortal words of Sir Hardy Amies. The fashion house showcased their S/S15 presentation yesterday at their historic Savile Row HQ, presenting a retro-inspired collection of citrus stripes, prints and classic English tailoring that pulled on Amies' 1970s archive of interior design and print. The legacy of the late Amies thrives within each collection, from the military-inspired double breasted jackets and sailing coats to the buoyant pastel checks, blouson jackets and pocket squares in pistachio green and chambray blue.

While Hardy Amies may now stand for tradition, he was a maverick designer for his time. One of the initiators for ready-to-wear clothing for men, he was the first designer to stage a menswear fashion show in the Savoy Hotel in 1962, and was also the first designer on Savile Row to lower the height of men’s trousers. Amies penned his iconic ‘ABC to Men’s Fashion’ in 1954, during a revolutionary period for men’s clothing. Sixty years on, it has become an iconic style guide and reference book for menswear, alphabetically detailing the etiquette of men’s fashion, with Hardy’s signature humour and aplomb to be found on every page. “It is easy to think of fashion as frivolous,” Amies wrote in his foreword, “Clothes are however very much part of our lives and should be used to make our lives easier.” Here, AnOther considers ten style lessons from Hardy Amies which still ring true today.

1. Art of Dressing
“To achieve the nonchalance which is absolutely necessary for a man, one article at least must not match. For instance, you can wear a dark blue suit and tie with a pale blue shirt and navy blue socks, but you must then have a patterned silk handkerchief say in dark red or a paisley design. Or stick to blue and have dark red socks.”

2. Cap
"A correctly cut cap in a check cloth of a clear, clean pattern can add a dash to an otherwise sombre country outfit."

3. Care of Clothes
"First and foremost, let your clothes rest and revive. Do not wear a suit or shoes two days running. Both cloth and leather need time to breathe. Remember every time you sit down you are ironing a suit in the wrong places."

4. Grooming
"I do not think there exists a woman who does not like a man to smell nice; by nice she means a smell which is as far removed as possible from the kind of scent she uses herself; something clean and herby is required."

5. Italian Style
"They have an air of masculine superiority softened with an almost feminine grace which has proved successful in the great game of sexual attraction."

"You must look perfectly happy and relaxed in your clothes which must appear part of you rather than a wardrobe you have donned" — Hardy Amies

6. Purple
"I see no use for this colour except for ties, socks and handkerchiefs. If you know how to wear them then I don’t need to help. If you don’t, don’t."

7. Price
"Of course you pay for the name, but there is no way to make the name except for fair trading."

8. Smoking
"Smoking has become as private a matter as blowing one’s nose. There are fashions in gestures as there are in clothes."

9. Style
"To attain style in dress, you must look perfectly happy and relaxed in your clothes which must appear part of you rather than a wardrobe you have donned."

10. Underwear
"Should be brief as wit and as clean as fun."

Text by Mhairi Graham