L.E.J x Drakes Shirt
Summer is done.
Booked, packed and something else until late April 2020.
Although Summer ’19 never really took off, early warmth became brief July heatwave which spluttered into an August of bland, shoulder shrugging sunshine and nothing to praise nor condemn. Then a bank holiday weekend which teased the prospect of late summer bliss. Only for it not to last beyond 48 hours. Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel short changed.
Normally after a barnstorming or even stormy summer, this time of year, the pre autumn fair fortnight of early September is that uncertain hinterland, before the embrace of layered cashmere and tweed.
A hinterland filled with neither enough nor too many clothes. Where you either try to hold on to what has been, or jump head first into Autumn.
It’s a pain, because I’m severely guilty of looking straight at Autumn and wanting it all. Well wanting it for about the 90 seconds of selvedge denim, and Shetland jumpers it’ll take for me to collapse from heat stroke.
As I lie there, thinking how fly I look, whilst floating in and out and staring up at the dappled sky, a solution. Well less a solution, more a suggestion, as the problem was of my own making and easily avoided. A suggestion to take my item of the summer and throw it over a t-shirt.
L.E.J is the new brand from Luke Walker, who I profiled earlier this year and who I believe is one of the most important voices in clothing design working anywhere at present.
Of course, before anyone cries foul, Luke is a friend. And yes, we may share a glass of something cold or even a pint or two of something Irish in few weeks, but that’s because we were going to regardless. It also means that I can be as honest as only a friend can be.
So this shirt, well, I love shirts, and I’m rather proud of my collection. I particularly like oversized ‘work’ style shirts, to be worn any way I see fit, on my head, over my legs, because the ‘rules’ are meant to be broken. My all time favourite is a large green cotton RRL western style shirt with pockets aching to be stuffed, in spring I wear it over a grey Real McCoy’s t-shirt and in Winter over or under thick A&S roll necks.
I also don’t like a lot of shirts. Most shirts annoy me, I’m not talking about the three for £69, fall apart after a wash and a half brigade, because I’m convinced, they don’t actually exist, but what many refer to as actual ‘proper’ shirts, but are in fact mostly boyish, restrictive and naff with tailored fits and fussy collars.
A good shirt is a wonderful thing, it covers and enhances, imbuing the wearer with confidence and well, it’s that often overlooked in menswear thing, they’re sexy.
A good English shirt; well made, well fitting and well lived in jeans; good white t-shirt; and English shoes, these are apparently all alluring items. Now, of course, we shouldn’t use dress in this way…
But, this L.E.J shirt is sexy.
The fit, is intelligently seductive, loose and shapely is one thing, but when married with the heavier than expected but dry 70/30 cotton/linen, it catches the wind and flows alluringly with the wearer. Then the ever so slightly knowing and winking salted caramel contrast stitching which frames the curve of a collar, which flirts with the curve of the sizeable pocket, all very badly behaved. Less call me by your name, more you’re going to want to call me at 3am every night this week.
That’s all very important, but it is a work shirt, so has to stand up to use. This is complicated for me as I’m split town and country, so I like things which fit both styles of life whilst still being me.
Of course at this point, a wag might question what work exactly the wearer will be carrying out, and I suggest vitally important work, from walking the dog and perusing menu’s, through to matters of state and substance. And it lives up to all. I’ve been carrying either my sunglasses or specs in one pocket, wallet and car keys in the other for months, the pockets are literally the largest they can be in order to be of actual use without become ripe for parody. They are genius, a wonder of design and engineering.
It is beautifully Somerset made by Drakes, the mother of pearl buttons are a joy to undo, and with wear, use and washing, the colour has come alive, in some respects it’s an odd green, and this is the clever bit, not quite what you would expect nor choose yourself but far more flattering than the opposition.
So does it top the Ralphie number? Not yet, I mean that shirt and I have longstanding history, this, well, it’s the closest anyone has gotten and that is some feat.