Learning the intricacies of menswear during a decade working alongside the house’s founder, Michael Drake, Michael Hill has been at the creative helm of classic British outfitter Drakes since 2010, when his mentor retired, selling the company to Hill and Hong Kong entrepreneur Mark Cho of The Armoury.
Here, the man responsible for stewarding the aesthetic sensibilities of this respected purveyor of superlative gentlemen’s accessories (ties and pocket squares, most famously) and spearheading its expansion into apparel discusses the ten key principles that guide him professionally and sartorially.
10. “More or less ignore ‘fashion’. And black, unless of course it’s black tie.”
9. “If you’re wearing a navy tie with a navy jacket then I’d suggest a darker hue for the tie.”
Hill models the Drakes four-ply cashmere shawl-collar cardigan (available for purchase here).
8. “While I find navy to be the most useful tie, jacket and suit colour, navy trousers are not as easy as one might think, and best avoided altogether in worsteds and flannels. Conversely the same goes for grey jackets — beyond something like a Harris Tweed herringbone they’re tricky to combine. When it comes to the trousers I personally feel grey worsteds and flannels are best in darker hues.”
Dyed-in-the-wool menswear enthusiast Michael Hill in search of the perfect hue at Drakes.
7. “If you want to go open-necked then I find a jacket and trousers is more likely to work than a suit.”
6. “A tight, well edited wardrobe can go a long way. For me that’s a navy hopsack and navy chalk-stripe suit; a couple of good navy blazers (in different weights), two or three tweeds; flannel and worsted trousers (again different weights). For the ties, a few Ancient Madders, a few repps, a navy and forest-green Grenadine, and a navy knit; blue and white striped poplin shirts, white and blue and white Oxford button-downs; over-the-calf solid navy and solid purple socks; and chukka boots. Once you’ve established a fit that works for you then it’s just a question of selecting these in great authentic cloth from the weavers, knitters and printers that have always specialised in each quality.”
5. “David Hockney taught us: Better juxtaposed than matched.”
David Hockney: A study in contrasts.
4. “You could be wearing a suit made by the finest tailor in the world but if the so-called smaller details are poor then all the good work is undone. The tie, the way it’s tied, and how that sits with your shirt collar is every bit as important. The same applies to your shoes — don’t compromise.”
3. “Avoid extremes and look for balance. And better to just do enough than to go over the top and force something. By the same token, aim to dress respectfully for the occasion or environment.”
A tidy look from Drakes' autumn/winter 2016 collection.
2. “Don’t be afraid to try things in order to find things that work for you, that you feel comfortable and relaxed in. It’s a question of finding you’re own way within ‘the rules’, or as Mansel Fletcher refers to them ‘(no rules)... only things that haven’t been done well’. And this can take time, a lot of time. Many of the best dressed men I can think of are in their fifties or over.”
1. “Finally, perhaps we sometimes take it all a little bit too seriously — they’re only clothes after all, and they’re there to be enjoyed. And whilst we can find a lot of inspiration in the past, by no means does that have to be our only guide.”
Browse and shop Drakes’ selection of handsome wares online at drakes.com, or visit their stores in London and New York (click here for locations).