Eccentric British menswear in the spotlight

From Mayfair art dealer to Dr Who, British idiosyncratic style is fertile ground for inspiration, says Tom Stubbs

Burberry Prorsum wool and shearling Chesterfield coat, £2,495, and shearling scarf, £795
Burberry Prorsum wool and shearling Chesterfield coat, £2,495, and shearling scarf, £795

Eccentricity is arguably part of the hardwiring of British style. And rarely is this illustrated more magnificently than among the aristocracy, who mix checks, cords and stripes in autumnal, earthy colours with voluminous coats and idiosyncratic flourishes such as foulards, braces and wide-brimmed hats. This spring, designers are chanelling elements of this aristocratic eccentricity – often mixing it with a dash of artistic or bohemian flair to make it more contemporary.

MP Massimo Piombo mohair/wool coat, €1,850
MP Massimo Piombo mohair/wool coat, €1,850
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Caruso is a brand that has a reputation for being a purveyor of eccentric cool – thanks to its creative force Sergio Colantuoni. The Parma-based brand has been known to send ham instead of press releases, made a short film this year called The Good Italian to present its collection in lieu of a fashion show, and uses six cartoon-style character muses instead of models. It therefore comes as no surprise that Caruso is a glorious proponent of this year’s eccentric style. An oversized coat in rich peaty-brown cashmere bouclé (£1,650) worn with chocolate-stripe trousers (£400) and a sky-blue and brown silk foulard (£200) has lord-of-the-manor verve; a caramel alpaca coat (£1,600) and autumn-hued V-neck jumper (£650) are an elegant, reading-in-the-library tone-on-tone ensemble; while a double-breasted Glen-check suit (£1,450) paired with a long dark-brown shearling coat (£4,000) sits at the unlikely yet stylish cross point where shooting party meets 1970s Bronx. Braces (£300) also make an appearance, and ties (£100) have a subtle bobble at the nape. For out-and-out flamboyance, there’s a glorious hooded check cloak (£1,350).

Lock & Co rabbit-fur Bowie fedora, £275
Lock & Co rabbit-fur Bowie fedora, £275
Lock & Co rabbit-fur Bowie fedora, £275
Lock & Co rabbit-fur Bowie fedora, £275

Milanese tailoring brand MP Massimo Piombo has honed its arty take on elegant eccentricity through its use of sumptuous fabrics, and this season presents striking oversized-check and richly coloured coats and wide-brim hats, which evoke an upbeat aristo take on The Third Man. Particularly splendid are a Black Watch-tartan mohair/wool double-breasted overcoat (€1,850), a fawn and black check wool coat (€895), a russet-flecked bouclé coat (€1,450) – especially strong worn with a blue, white and brown mohair scarf (€215) – and a bear-like brown virgin-wool coat (€1,750) with engulfing collar and lapels.

Dunhill tweed jacket, £1,490, wool rugby shirt, £230, and corduroy trousers, £295
Dunhill tweed jacket, £1,490, wool rugby shirt, £230, and corduroy trousers, £295
Gucci camelhair jumper, £420, and cashmere trousers, £645
Gucci camelhair jumper, £420, and cashmere trousers, £645

Lock & Co’s new wide-brim Bowie fedora in gorgeous jade or honey (£275 each) channels aristo-meets-Mayfair-art-dealer (the kind you might see on London’s Albemarle Street carrying an ornate cane or with a spaniel trotting alongside) look. The deep-red Oscar (£395) is a jauntier take, while the Supreme Homburg (£275) in navy or brown is wonderfully noble.

Derek Rose cotton/satin pyjamas, £146
Derek Rose cotton/satin pyjamas, £146
Saint Laurent wool scarf, £390
Saint Laurent wool scarf, £390

Artistic eccentricity is given a bohemian twist by Dunhill creative director John Ray, who has turned to Soho in the 1950s and 1960s for his muses: the likes of Joe Orton, Francis Bacon, David Hockney and John Osborne, who were known for their wild behaviour in the once seedy district. Ray mixes vivid Glen checks, oversized pinstripes, heavy “whale” corduroys and Scottish tweeds. Teamed with chunky mohair knits (£590), vibrant wool rugby shirts (£230) and colourful braces (£120), the effect is eccentric playwright. This influence stretches to deckchair-stripe pyjamas (£490), striped knits and a herringbone cashmere coat (£1,790).

Caruso shearling coat, £4,000, and wool suit, £1,450
Caruso shearling coat, £4,000, and wool suit, £1,450
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More striped PJs can be found at British pyjama doyen Derek Rose, which has some new cotton/satin crackers (£146) in regimental colours: maroon, deep blue and silver; green, gold, navy blue and red; and gold, cherry and deep blue. Wear under a blazer or chunky knit for lounging about at the weekend. This is a look also seen at Gucci, where creative director Alessandro Michele pairs pastel-pink-check, cashmere pyjama trousers (£645) with a cricket jumper-style camelhair cable knit (£420).

Contrast layering also makes an appearance at Burberry Prorsum, where the bohemian look is taken outdoors and up a notch via mix-and-match prints and colour. A double-breasted ochre wool coat (£1,995) is presented with a honey camouflage-print, quilted jacket (£995) and wet-sand-coloured cashmere scarf (£650); and a dark brown wool and shearling-collared Chesterfield coat (£2,495) with leopard-print shearling scarf (£795). The tasselled green cashmere poncho (£1,995) champions a blanket-worn-as-scarf style.

But for minimum effort, maximum eccentric impact, sling a super-long Saint Laurent wool scarf (£390) – think Tom Baker as Doctor Who – nonchalantly once around the neck and allow to swing freely.

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