Dandy & Dapper

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am


I like the look of those shirts with the snap buttons and they seem easy to take on and off, but where can I buy one?

Mr Dandy: You're talking about 'western' shirts, and most jean brands do them. There is a bonanza of them at Denim & Supply, a Ralph Lauren brand, which stocks short-sleeved check versions, plain denim designs and even studded ones for dressed-up cowboys (HK$790 to HK$990; Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2506 0318). The ones at G-Star look extra western, with stylised patch pockets on plain or striped shirts (HK$1,395 to HK$1,495; Times Square, tel: 3101 0520). Chevignon sticks with denim but mixes it up in patchworks of colours and patterns with short or long sleeves (HK$675 and up; Times Square, tel: 2506 2155).

Mr Dapper: Are we so spoiled by convenience that we cannot even be bothered to do up the buttons of our shirts? What happened to the days of men taking time and pride in dressing? Conjectured to have been used for the terracotta army's equestrian harnesses circa 210BC, these days they are more likely to conjure images of rodeos or Mexican horsemen. The reason? They would unfasten quickly should a cowboy get snagged while working or riding, or so it is most commonly thought. So, sir, their benefit was originally for quickly disrobing and not the other way around. This, too, may appeal to you, but we would rather not know the details of your romantic entanglements. It appears that designer brands have adopted the fashion, too, but in less obviously western ways. For example, AX Armani Exchange offers cotton button-downs with said poppers in a classic blue and white stripe, grey check, solid pink and black (HK$790 to HK$990 each; Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2537 3118). Other labels that might appeal include Prada, D&G and McQ by Alexander McQueen. They are also sturdy and therefore less likely to come off. Have you ever seen a cowboy sew?

I don't understand the difference between canvas and fused lining. Please explain.

Mr Dapper: I'm glad you asked. The question of canvassed versus fused lining is often the elephant in the room, or shop, as the case may be. Devastatingly, many men have been led to believe they were buying a quality suit simply because the sales staff did not know better. A good suit is constructed with an inner layer of horsehair canvas that is hand-basted to the outer material in order for it to hold its shape, adapt to wearer's unique proportions over time and achieve the best fit. Fused linings are glued in, require less production time and are, therefore, cheaper. Learn the pinch test. Determine the general thickness of the suit fabric first by pinching the uncanvassed sleeve. Next, gently pinch and pull apart the layers underneath the last buttonhole. If there is a third layer, then it is fully canvassed. Either way, the truth will come out after a few dry-cleaning sessions.

Mr Dandy: That's fine if you've got the cash, but I'm not forking out HK$45,000 for a Brioni suit (The Landmark, Central, tel: 2118 3717) any time soon. Anyway, I like to mix it up and who knows what I'll be wearing years from now? At the moment, I'm rocking my new blue gingham check suit with trendy elbow patches and slim trousers that I got from Zara (www.zara. com) for the grand total of HK$1,798. If we're being totally honest here, the idea of any kind of long-term commitment makes me want to run in the opposite direction. So, if money is a factor, what's wrong with buying a good-looking suit that won't last forever?