Oh what a Summer!…

“what Summer?”: I hear you say


Despite my best intentions to write a more regular blog and upload videos about ‘how to’ dress well, tie ‘the’ knot of your favourite tie, dress guidelines when ‘tying the knot’ in a matrimonial sense…the fact is, despite the current state of the high street, with restaurant closures and some familiar and well loved faces disappearing weekly, we have been, as is often said in Yorkshire …”meeting ourselves coming back”

The weather, only momentarily echoes the long sunlit days of last Summer , which wasn’t the best in terms of business and left us with some ranges of Spring/Summer outerwear almost intact.

This year I remember temperatures of around 21˚c in February, followed by harsh chills with random sunny days for the people who insist on wearing shorts at the first opportunity, thrown in here and there, but that said, it’s been a far busier season.

Our Tailoring, both made to measure and bespoke has been very busy as well as our ready to wear sales. Our By appointment office on Grays Inn Road, London is proving very useful and convenient as we have a full range of cloths and linings for you to peruse in a comfortable ‘Rhodes-Wood’ environment.

Wedding orders for multiple suits, shirts and bespoke ties have been good but with some tight deadlines have proven stressful at times… stressful because we care.

Sometimes for reasons beyond our control, things can go wrong, human error a damage at the last minute, weight loss of several kilos before the final fitting… it all takes its toll on our down time and sleep.

Anyone who e mails with us may have noticed some replies in the wee small hours… if I’m awake, I may as well work.

This week after fitting 6 suits on Saturday and nine on Monday, then rushing back to the shop to ‘cross some t’s and dot some i’s’ before my impending trip back to Florence, I received a visit from an official but friendly enough chap who’d been sent by the magistrates court to collect £965 in fines for not having taxed two vehicles? Just when the stress was at boiling point, I enquired as to the registration plates…”no idea“… but he requested the information for me.

Busy as I might be, I’m confident that I’ve taxed the family cars. My bet is that a car I’d sold in the Summer of last year to a dealer, had its paperwork mixed up and fines were sent to my old address, the other… well the DVLA still believe it’s mine even though that was sold, with V5c having been completed properly.

Too busy to argue, I paid up and will find time to argue my case and re coup my money later. If it’s a family members car I’ve forgotten about… then it’s a fair cop, but the extra stress I could have done without!

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I hung up the tape measure on Monday night and boarded a plane to Florence to visit the Summer Pitti Uomo show. The first thing on my mind after landing at Pisa and taking the train to Florence was of course depositing my bags at the hotel (Residence Hilda near The Duomo, excellent if you prefer a self contained flat with kitchen and sitting room. They describe it as a hotel of suites, but I would call it an apartment. Either way it’s super clean and spacious and very near to the centre, way more economic to book through lastminute.com.) was of course Pizza and wine and more wine and ice cream. Well I do have a considerable wardrobe and can’t afford to lose any weight, as replacing the R-W sleeves (suits) would be rather expensive.

Simbiosi organic pizza, near to the apartment is a favourite, an unusual setup with three restaurants next to each other under the same name. The first for classic Italian, the second for pasta and the third, organic pizza… give it a try if you visit, we can always let out your trousers.

Whilst the show ‘Pitti’ is a wonderful gathering of companies from around the globe, the people watching is sometimes more entertaining… more of that later and perhaps some pics of the more ‘colourful offenders‘.

In the streets at night , it’s not exactly rocket science to guess who’s been to the show and ‘in the trade’. White fitted suits with zero break trousers, (half mast in Yorkshire), matelot or Gurkha waistbands, a la Rubinacci or Royal Navy, Panama hats, even three piece suits and fedoras in 30 degrees of heat?.

Not for yours truly, if you read the Coco Chanel quote on our website ”To dress well is to be able to pass through an ungainly crowd un noticed, whilst creating a mild sensation, entering a drawing room, containing the knowing few”.

My taste becomes more classic and understated the more silver my hair becomes. That said I fully appreciated seeing young blades in their finery and truly love the attention to detail and ability to keep suits fresh and young, with an edge. I do love to see zero break (quite short, with no breaking of a crease onto the shoe) trousers worn with shoes without socks and the necktie, tied in a simple four in hand, with rear blade showing to side and worn longer than the front blade.

It keeps it fresh and exciting to a younger generation and elements of this style can be added in snippets to an older gentleman, the young learn from the old, but I believe we should acknowledge the young and also learn from them – I’m also so pleased that pleated front trousers are once more de rigour.

Tired and stressed beyond whatever I can remember I took the first day off from the show, leaving that for Thursday and Friday, and got up early and into a wonderful tobacconist for a few Havana cigars, my father was always fascinated by tobacconist shops and I think it’s something I’ve inherited…. albeit I only smoke a very occasional cigar, without inhaling now and again.

Armed with a Trinidad I had coffee, lots of coffee in the square, and felt some of the stress lift as I watched the people strolling by… already with my eye on lunch!

It’s important to see how other shops do it, and Italy has some of the finest, I certainly don’t know everything and it’s fun after 40 years in the trade to still be learning! I would have lost interest years ago, if I thought I knew everything.

I did a gentle stroll around and visited some lovely shops, I’m always fascinated how Florence can have 4-5 shops selling only gloves, a few hundred yards from each other, but year after year despite the heat, they manage to trade with singular products.

After 40 years, I’m still perplexed as to why the top end shops are already showing Autumn/Winter 2019 in baking heat?

Enough of that for a while, after a rest back at base, it’s time for dinner and a visit to Haveli, One of Florence’s 17 Indian restaurants . Very good but a few smiles wouldn’t have gone amiss… there is after all, only so much pizza and pasta a boy can eat… did I really just say that?

Interestingly Florence has some 68 Japanese restaurants and of course well over a 1000 Italian restaurants, with something for everyone, one of my favourites is a no frills family Italian, called Mama Mia’s, “just a like a the Italian ones in a the 70’s” that were in every other town in England. When I say no frills, it’s basic with simple food, but I keep returning year after year. Thankfully in Harrogate we have Brios, Sassos and Stuzzi , independent and all excellent and I would neither say basic.

So after my usual sleep, I wake at 2.30am and write some more of this blog, before drifting back off to sleep to be refreshed for the show tomorrow…’Pitti’.

….Pitti Uomo is probably the biggest menswear show and is a feast to the eyes…if you were looking for the cream of British manufacturers, you won’t find them at the London or Birmingham shows, but take the time to go to Florence and they are there in abundance alongside quality manufacturers from around the globe.

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Arriving by taxi the street photographers have keen eyes peeled for the dandies and sartorially elegant, snapping away… this year I passed by ‘un noticed ‘…? However I smiled as the pink and red suited chaps, donning hats and vests (waistcoats) posed for their pictures taking… I snapped some of the more colourful ‘offenders’ for our Instagram story and this blog… and also some chaps with style and panache.

It was certainly hot, but the air conditioned halls were bearable, and the pace relaxed. I have added and filled in and expanded some lines that are popular at Rhodes-Wood, and look forward to showing you in the shop, some of the beautiful pieces.

In truth I have always preferred Autumn/Winter, it’s clothing and the weather. I love to see layers of clothes and scarves and coats. But the Summer is an important season for us and having the right weight clothing is paramount to being comfortable.

After 40 years, I recognise when trends re emerge, re invented, fresher with a new twist…l smile when the younger discover a trend that’s fresh to them for the first time… but I appreciate their enthusiasm for the ‘new’ style… after all, it was yours truly who ‘discovered’ double breasted suits in 1979… much to the horror of my older colleagues at Kayes departmental store in Huddersfield in the late 70’s… “oh… err… they’ll never catch on lad… remember them going out in the 50’s”… They’d seen it before.

But, what I have learned over the years, is that the classics are still so important , and that they stay the course of time, and re invent, is as fresh now as it was then.

My eldest son, who is at Leeds College of Music and newly signed to a small label, never fails to amaze me, with his massively diverse taste, in music from his own psychedelic soft rock (he’ll kill me for that) to his enthusiasm for The Who, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizzard…He is sometimes amazed at my knowledge of some of the above… as I listened to them 45 years ago in my bedroom… or when I may listen to a new song of the band he’s in and make reference to a couple of bars that remind me of a tune from way back…

So before signing off, I make a mental promise to upload some videos and write some tutorials on how to…

I need to read one myself , on how to get to sleep… Goodnight…zzzz

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