Thursday, 23 April 2015

Crown Joules

Last Saturday, myself and Ruth from Willow Lane and Rosanna from Silver Brogues met up for our inaugural Blogger Brunch. We to one of my usual haunts, Established, for some coffee and catching up.

I thought it the ideal opportunity to break out some of the gorgeous new season pieces Joules kindly sent me recently.

In Belfast, we don't often get great weather and when we do, we take it with a big pinch of salt. I know from experience to dress for eventualities rather than potentials so I opted for the Foxton Quilted Jacket. I love the country-heritage style of the jacket and it's the ideal Spring piece for those inevitable April showers.

I paired my jacket with the Lyndhstck Tartan shirt. I have said before how much I love tartan and this bold, Madras-style check is bright and fresh. To pull the colours together I slung my Cambridge satchel over my shoulder and trotted through the sunny, cobbled streets of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

You can rarely go wrong with the classic blue & red combo.

My new Kickers boots (courtesy of a Bunnipunch competition) completed my metro-lumbersexual look

Belfast got its first Joules store just before Christmas last year and I'm delighted to see it doing so well in the city. I think the affordable mix of country-prep has a wide appeal - it's easy and unfussy without being too casual. 

Here's to a Summer full of sunshine so I can get plenty of wear out of my new gear!

*Jacket & shirt supplied by Joules. All images property of rogues+brogues

Monday, 6 April 2015

90:10 - The Peter Pan Ratio

Some people are good at being adults. Old souls some call them. A sensible, grown-up approach to life, with a reasonable and well adjusted outlook and attitude.
I am not one of these people.

I turned *coughcough*33*coughcoughcough* late last December and I have been resisting "growing up" with every fibre of my being. I have self-diagnosed chronic Peter Pan syndrome, a classic case of the boy who never grew up.

  • I am still the man who watches cartoons. A lot. Not anime or sophisticated animated movies; actual cartoons.
  • I am the man who still plays Pokemon - I have done so since Red was released when I was 16 (I was probably too old to play it then let alone now.)
  • I am the man with an encyclopedic knowledge of X-Men rooted in my decades long obsession with comic books.

And so what? What benefits are there in always being sensible or grown up? I have a mortgage and pay my bills and drive a car - sometimes that's adult enough for me.

It's this balance that inspired the 90:10 brand, a range of clothing that embraces being 90% grown up and 10% not. The brand is the brainchild of Dan who, like many of us, was reluctant to fully assimilate into the adult world. He wanted to keep some joie de vivre with a range of relaxed and fun (without being novelty) clothing for the man who is sick of having to wear a suit or shirt at work and just wants to take it easy in his down time.

I am a committed hoodie lover, and so when Dan offered me one of their hoodies, I gratefully accepted. The hoodie itself is a fine, slim-fit brushed cotton in a rich dark blue. As many of my hoodies are zip-front, its nice to have a pull-over version for a change of style. It's a soft and comfy piece that will be perfect for a low-key weekend. The logo is subtle and will encourage a question rather than shouting the answer of where it came from.

As it is that little bit finer, it could be layered under a coat or body warmer, or as we enter summer, I can see them being the go-to barbeque/beer garden hoodie for when the sun begins to set.

rogues brogues menswear blog 90:10 clothing man

rogues brogues blog 90:10 menswear clothing man

rogues brogues blog menswear 90:10 clothing man

Many people say that the secret to living longer is staying young at heart, so I'm determined to do that and will display my 90:10 split with pride!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

rogues + brogues | scarmouche & fandango pt 2

Last July, I wrote a little feature on Scaramouche & Fandango's hydrator and face scrub. I was instantly a fan and the team were kind enough to send me their latest product; Sports Wash.

You could dismiss this as just another shower gel, but you'd be wrong and everyone would laugh at you and you'd go home and cry and then go online and buy it.

While yes, it is a shower gel, it is much more - 3 more things actually. In addition to being a body wash, it's a shampoo, a face wash and (most interestingly) it can be used as a shaving product!

scarmouche & fandango sports wash £9.00
sports wash & hydrator £10

I've put it through my rigorous (30 minute+) shower routine and have tried it every which way bar shaving - you all know by now I ain't for shaving!
  •  It's quick to lather and is really good as a shampoo. It removed all the claggy hair product from my hair and left it in good condition. 
  • It's not drying on your face but it does no harm to add a bit of hydration anyway. None of us are getting any younger!
  • The scent is fresh and masculine, but not that typical cliched man-smell. This just smells clean and what more do you want from a body wash? 

This handy bottle is all you'll need to take to the gym or for a weekend away. Call it the Swiss Army Knife of grooming; it does everything bar brushing your teeth!*

Scaramouche & Fandango can be purchased online and is available in John Lewis, Harvey Nichols, ASOS, Barneys New York and Fortnum & Mason! If that isn't a testament to the quality, I don't know what is!

*rogues+brogues do not accept liability for fools trying to use Scaramouche & Fandango Sport Wash as toothpaste!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Stiff Neck

I am a reluctant formal dresser but when the occasion arises, I'm pretty fussy when it comes to my shirts and the finished look.

rogues brogues blog stiffies product review

Waaaay back in the day, a man's shirt and collar came in 2 separate pieces; a grandad-style shirt and a stiff collar piece that would be held in place with a pin in the back and buttoned at the front. Modern "easy" dressing this seems to have came at the expense of luxury and those extra special finishing touches.

We now buy shirts with single cuffs, so we don't need to wear cufflinks anymore and the collars have changed to fused fabrics to reduce ironing efforts. However, even when your collar has channels for collar stays, how many of us just use the plastic ones that come with the shirt? And honestly, how many of us actually remove them when doing the laundry?

rogues brogues blog stiffies review
available in 2 sizes depending on your shirt collar
Stiffies seek to mix the modern with the classic by creating a range of stylish stainless steel collar stiffeners. They kindly send me a pack and I gave them a test run!
After pressing your collar. inserting a quality stay will dramatically change the shape of your collar; creating a much more professional and polished appearance. What makes their collar stiffeners even more technically wonderful is the addition of sleek magnets. Pop one behind your collar to hold it in place and prevent that dreaded sloppy spread that can happen when you're going without a tie.
*As these have a strong magnet, just make sure you don't put them near your laptop, watch or wallet if you have them in your gym bag etc.

left - without magnet. right - with magnet.
Priced at £17.99, these are not going to bankrupt you and will make all the difference to your working wardrobe.

rogues brogues blog stiffies product review
I especially like the Stiffies packaging . It's like a technical manual - appealing to plenty of blokes. You can also refold it into a postcard envelope if want to send them as a gift!

These are definitely not one of those inappropriate Stiffies that you have to hide!

all images property of rogues+brogues

Sunday, 15 March 2015

the end is not always the end

I lost a hero this week.

Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on 12th March.

I first got into Pratchett novels as a teenager. I was introduced to the amazing literary creation that is Discworld by my friend Nicholas at the age of 14. While admittedly I was (and am still) pretty geeky, I thought that fantasy novels were the first step on the journey that I imagined ending with me playing Dungeons and Dragons in a home-made cloak at the age of 40.

I was never so wrong.

While undoubtedly fantasy, this was fantasy that knew it was fantasy. With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Pratchett gently poked fun at the somewhat pretentious and closed off realm of science fiction and fantasy.
I was advised that while each novel stands alone and can be read individually, the encompassing world of shared characters and Pratchett's inimitable humorous writing style had me hooked from the first book The Colour Of Magic and I read them in publication order from there, blazing through the first 10 books over the course of a summer holiday.

Nicholas passed away a month before his 17th birthday and his mum gave me his copy of The Colour of Magic. I still have it and it motivated me to pick up the other books I had fallen in love with.

My favourite characters are the witches.
Granny Weatherwax could very well have been based on my own grandmother, Granny Gra.

When I read about Sir Terry's death, I was struck silent. He had a well-publicised battle with a form of early-onset Alzheimer's Disease, a cruel disease for one with such a creative wit and writing skill. He spoke of how the disease had robbed him of many of his ability and of his subsequent support of assisted suicide. Knowing and accepting his fate made him all the more admirable, doing it with humility and dignity made him an icon.

The last tweets on his Twitter account really hit me. Written by his assistant, they were not the usual formal announcement, instead gave his fans one more smile, albeit a bitter sweet one.

The final few words from Terry Pratchett's Twitter feed.
One of the most famous recurring characters (and most beloved) in the Discworld universe was his personification of Death. Rather than a terrifying spectre of mortality, he was simply a being doing his job with understanding, empathy and often, a dry sense of wit. His trademark speech pattern was capitalised text, denoting his gravitas. Having Death himself tweet his arrival to collect Terry was poignant and moving; full of respect and love for his work and his fans.

I am embarking on a labour of love; I will re-read his entire works. This is actually something I have been meaning to do and am loathed to admit this has been the motivation for doing so. I want to revisit and relive and remember the fun and thoughtfulness of his words. It is the least I can to do thank the man that made my teens much more bearable. 

I will finish this post with a quote from the book Going Postal

I like to think this will ensure that Terry is never really dead; his words will be read and his name will be spoken, for many years to come.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Local Heroes: Remus Uomo

When you mention the brand Remus Uomo, you instantly think; chic, stylish, masculine, Italian.
Remus Uomo is all these things, but it has its roots firmly in Northern Ireland.

The modern and stylish offshoot of menswear wholesalers and retailers Douglas & Grahame, Remus Uomo has been bringing Italian tailoring to the UK for many years and has been a stalwart in many Northern Irish men's wardrobes - I remember getting a Remus Uomo wool blazer to wear for my confirmation.

Not one to rest on its laurels or to allow changing tastes and trends to pass them by. the company has expanded with an exceptional state of the art showroom and business centre at its headquarters in Carrickfergus.
They recently held a press conference to showcase the Summer 2015 collections and invited local press, bloggers and stylists to see the new ranges.


The new summer collections marry traditional tailoring technique with a modern colour palette and silhouettes.

The focal colour for the season is vibrant blue, with shades of inky navy and washed aqua to complement it. Introduce this colour to your wardrobe for the summer, maybe at a wedding or event, and it will be a bold, fresh and interesting change from the usual grey or black.

tapered print shirt £55
left: cotton polo shirt £45 right: contrast chambray shirt £49.99

left: 3pc wool rich suit £279

Italian styling is applied to update and refresh some iconic menswear like grandad collared shirts, Harrington jackets and Macintosh coats 

wool blend jacket £149

 Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event, but they were kind enough to forward me on a press pack and the opportunity to call into the flagship store in Belfast to see the new collections in person and I couldn't resist taking a few candid shots of my own.

that amazing blue in the flesh (or should I say in the fabric)

the working man's wardrobe essentials

The store has a devoted wedding section and many of their suits are MNM (mix n match) meaning you can pick up an extra pair of trousers or just buy separates for a more versatile wardrobe.
love the combination of the flecked wool and polka dot lining

Thank you to the team for their support and the editorial images. You can't go wrong with a visit to the store if you have an event coming up for some affordable Italian sartorial style with a true Irish twist.

If any of my readers would like to suggest a local independent for a future Local Heroes post, please leave a comment below

Video and editorial images property of Douglas & Grahame/Remus Uomo. All other images are property of rogues+brogues

Monday, 9 March 2015

I said a hip-Hop House 13

hop house 13 guinness

Last Wednesday myself and a gaggle of bloggers (what is the correct collective noun for bloggers en masse?) boarded a bus bound for an evening in South Studios, Dublin to celebrate the launch of Guinness' latest creation for The Brewers Project; Hop House 13.

rogues and brogues blog
The stark and stylish surroundings of South Studios, Dublin 8
rogues and brogues blog
As cute as these mini pints were, I quickly had to move on to a real pint to properly critique the lager. The things I do for you

The Brewers Project is a venture that allows budding brewers the chance to develop, collaborate and reinvent recipes freely supported by Guinness. Following the success of the Guinness Dublin Porter and Guinness West Indies Porter last year, the latest concoction is Hop House 13, appropriately named after a hop store from the 1900's.

rogues and brogues blog

The lager is the brainchild of Peter Simpson. I'll admit I was either naive or ignorant to the alchemy that goes into the brewing of lager and thought of it as a relatively simple process. Peter, who trained as chemical engineer prior to going into brewing, explained the processes and sheer length of time it takes to develop, test and launch a bespoke craft lager. He also admitted to not really liking lager which may have shaped the distinct taste and aroma of Hop House 13.

rogues and brogues blog
Master Brewer Peter Simpson explaining his craft
rogues and brogues blog
Luis Ortega who developed Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter
rogues and brogues blog
Queuing up for a pint of the amber stuff

To my (relatively unrefined) palette, Hop House 13 has the distinct bitter undernote of lager but this is quickly quenched with a rush of bold fruit flavours. I don't think it would be to everyone's taste but as we enter spring (and eventually summer) it has the makings of a great beer garden or barbeque lager. It's light and refreshing enough for the non-lager drinkers and traditional lager lovers will appreciate the craft and traditional taste.

rogues and brogues blog
The night included a set by All Tvvins
Sunday Life Editor Martin Breen & Cool FM's Pete Snoddenimage property of Smarts Communicate
rogues and brogues blog
Stylist and presenter Darren Kennedy
Gill Stewart of Smarts Communicate (who kindly organised our trip) and Leticia Alvarez
image property of Smarts Communicate
rogues and brogues blog
Random stylish Dubliner with great taste in shoes!
rogues and brogues blog
Hop House 13 is currently only available on draught in selected pubs across Ireland but in light of the success of the previous success of The Brewer's Project, watch out for bottles coming in time for summer!

Thanks to Danielle & Gill of Smarts Communicate for the kind invitation and for providing additional pics.
All other images are property of rogues+brogues