Dandy & Dapper

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 December, 2010, 12:00am

I'm looking for a reasonably priced shirt made of high-thread-count cotton. I refer to fabric that feels almost like high-quality bed linen: thick, crisp and cool.

Mr Dapper: Based on my investigations, the problem lies more in product knowledge than availability. Here's how the conversation went, verbatim, at a famous, high-end retailer, when I inquired about the thread count of their highest-quality shirts. 'Dress count? Ladieswear downstairs.' 'No, thread count in men's shirts,' I said. 'Fresh count?' the sales staff asked, looking at me like I was a cretin or a security threat. 'No, thread count,' I repeated. The manager hurried over, listened to my request and asked, 'Bread count?' I thanked them, walked out and headed straight to Thomas Pink (Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2155 9021), which, mercifully, has clearly marked racks of shirts with thread counts of 170 (HK$2,235) and 220 (HK$3,125).

Mr Dandy: Hold on. You want shirts that are as thick as your bed sheets? You may love your 400 thread-count Frette linens but if you had a shirt made from them, they'd be wearing you, not the other way around. Stick to standard luxuries by knowledgeable shirtmakers such as Ascot Chang (HK$2,085 for 170s; HK$3,040 for 200s; Prince's Building, Central, tel: 2523 3663). For the record, thread count is the number of threads per square inch of fabric and it isn't the only indicator of quality. Other factors include the fibre used, the ply and so on. Learn to trust yourself and how you think the fabric feels to the touch.

I'm psyched to see the return of those preppy alpine sweaters from my prep-school days back in the States. Where can I pick one up?

Mr Dandy: Well, you may associate these patterned jumpers with the hallowed halls of a waspy boarding school but we hope that expensive education taught you that these knits didn't originate there. This season's alpine trend seems to refer to anything from the Fair Isle technique (near Scotland) to Norwegian knits to anything remotely graphic. Our favourites are at D&G (Pacific Place, tel: 2801 6827), where the trend has been executed in thick Nordic wool-knit jackets, with removable faux-fur linings (HK$12,400), round-necked chunky pullovers (HK$3,500) and ultra-lightweight jumpers perfect for Hong Kong's fickle winters (HK$5,100). We think Diesel's digital, Pacman-like V-necks are pretty darn cool, too (HK$1,900; 20 Queen's Road Central, tel: 2525 0540).

Mr Dapper: Another thing you might not know is that the high quality of luxury brand Moncler extends beyond down-filled jackets and into other items such as knitwear. This season, the brand has alpine jumpers in mostly black, white and red (HK$2,950; IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2524 7779). And you'll be delighted to know that preppy staple LL Bean ships to Hong Kong. Look out for its Norwegian jumpers (about HK$1,000; www.llbean.com). There are also many online purveyors of Scandinavian knitwear. We like www.icewear.is, where zip-up jumpers sell for about HK$580.

In Italy, the Gant brand is famous and easy to find. I need to replace my Gant chinos but I haven't seen it in Hong Kong. Please help.

Mr Dapper: How did a relatively low-profile purveyor of US East Coast American style become an icon for Italians? We never quite got the Gant story, so we looked it up. It turns out founder Bernard Gant was a Ukrainian immigrant to the US and the company was sold to Swedish investors in the early 1980s. Today, it's marketed as 'American casualness with European elegance'. In Hong Kong, Gant has stores in: Taikoo Shing (Cityplaza, tel: 2560 8112) and Causeway Bay (Times Square, tel: 2506 0368).

Mr Dandy: You're having trouble finding khakis? Really? Have you never heard of brands such as Brooks Brothers (from HK$630; IFC Mall, tel: 2234 7088) or Ralph Lauren (from HK$990; The Landmark, Central, tel: 2869 0388)? You may call them 'chinos', after the lightweight cotton fabric used to make military uniform trousers for hot climates, but we prefer khakis, which refers to their original colour. Since they hit the mainstream in the 50s, they've become an integral part of the preppy uniform. Gant isn't exactly the most famous American sportswear label but we do agree that once you find a cut, fit or brand that works for you, there's nothing wrong with sticking with it.