Casual Shirts from Oswald & Kane

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The new British clothing business, Oswald & Kane has recently been set up by young entrepreneur Jess Roche. 20-year-old Jess has a real passion for British manufacturing, after interviewing her on the phone this became very clear.

Oswald & Kane have currently got a range of ladies and gentleman’s casual shirts all made in the south west of England using the finest 2 fold 100s and 120 Italian and Swiss cottons, mother of peal buttons and fantastic designs.

When speaking to Jess she raised the point of seemingly British brands that fail to produce their goods in Britain and often use inferior quality materials.

Jess’s passion for British manufacturing and attention to detail led her on the hard journey of find a suitable manufacturer. Rayner and Sturges, which were established in 1913 have been producing shirts for the luxury brands for over 100 years and met the high standards of British manufacturing that Oswald & Kane were looking for.

The style of the shirts offered by Oswald and Kane have a very classic preppy feel, think Ralph Lauren –but made with far superior materials. Contracting cuffs are and an identifying feature of the first collection and are a simple but still give a stylish finish to the shirts.

I have been reviewing one the shirts for a couple of months and have been able to wear it with a number of outfits, my favorite of which is pairing with a pair of jeans, some suede chukka boots for a smart casual look.

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Jess Roche has kindly offered Aspiring Gent readers a 5% discount on orders using discount code AGENT05. Please check out her website www.oswaldandkane.com and comment below on what you think.

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What I wore today on this cold English day

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It has been a really chilly, but clear day here in southern England and I had some meetings on the south coast. I thought it may be a good idea to post some photos of what I wore today.

I will be writing about Crombie and their fantastic coats shortly and to tease I wore this fantastic Crombie Retro Coat with it’s bright red lining and velvet collar. Incredibly warm!

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Under my Crombie Coat I wore a T.M.Lewin blue suit with great lining and many pockets (I think that I need to take my trousers up an inch!). you can read the Aspiring Gent review of T.M.Lewin Suits here.

My shirt is also from T.M. Lewin in sky blue twill, double cuffed, in their St. James’s fully spread collar.

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The tie that I’m wearing comes from Vineyard Vines who have a great range of unique geometric beautifully made ties. In my pocket I kept a pair of brown leather cashmere line gloves from Dents.

Being out of London for the day I chose to go for Brown shoes which i polished right up to a military shine. These shoes are from Herring Shoes, one of my favourite online shoe retailers. this model is called ‘Churchill‘ and handcrafted by Cheaney for Herring Shoes. Anyone looking to buy top quality handcrafted shoes can use the Aspiring Gent discount code AAGT to get free shoes trees on all orders over £99.95 from Herring Shoes.

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What do you think?

Book Review: Power & Style: A World History of Politics and Dress

Since antiquity, and possibly before, those in power have understood the importance of dressing appropriately. From Eagle feather headdresses to bejewelled crowns and Cartier watches, leaders across the globe and throughout time have used clothing to demarcate – and sometimes disguise – their positions of unique authority. The history of powerful people’s raiment is the subject of a new folio-sized volume by Dominique & François Gaulme. Lavishly illustrated and weighing a hefty 2kg, Power and Style: A World History of Politics and Dress looks impressive, but like the sartorial choices of certain notables described within it, the Gaulmes’ tome is possibly a case of style over substance. For starters, the promise of a ‘world history’ of dress is not quite fulfilled. The volume’s fifteen chapters roam reasonably widely, but their focus is on Western dress; and more specifically, dress from North-West Europe. The dress considered is almost entirely that worn by men. In the introduction, the authors explain that discussion of women’s dress will be reserved until the final chapter, because ‘women’s legitimate political power is very recent;’ the curious qualifier about ‘legitimate’ power is left unexplained.

The structure of the volume is narrative, rather than thematic. Whilst this approach has much to commend it, not least, the ability to grasp how sartorial vogues have changed over time, there are large chronological gaps between some of the chapters. For example, where chapter four considers the third and fourth centuries AD, chapter five concentrates on the fourteenth century. Chapter seventeen focuses quite specifically on the reign of Edward VII (1901-1910), but chapter six looks broadly at twentieth-century totalitarian regimes. These jejune rifts make it difficult to identify themes and to compare and contrast the approach to power dressing across different epochs. Perhaps the biggest disappointment, especially considering one of the authors is an anthropologist and historian, is the fact that the book does not offer much by way of critical commentary. There are passing references to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lévi-Strauss and Norbert Elias (chiefly within the first chapter), but it is left for the reader to draw conclusions about the changing significance of dress in political contexts. What little analysis there is exists largely within a series of nineteen page-long interpolations that focus on a random assortment of dress accessories and modish trends, from tattoos and diamonds to loafers and whiskers, all of which seem to have little or no explicit reference to powerful dress. There also appears to be one significant editorial oversight. The first sentence of chapter five, which considers the fourteenth-century Burgundian court under ‘Philip the Good’, opens with the sentence: ‘This third meeting was scheduled to take place on the bridge at Montereau, far to the south of Paris.’ The use of the pronoun implies that the ‘third meeting’ should already be familiar to the reader. It is not. A sentence, or two, seems to have been omitted.

That all said, the book is of value for bringing together a huge assortment of exquisitely produced paintings and photographs of powerful men’s clothing, even though these images are not the subject of specific commentary and are not directly linked to the text. The book is also useful as a collection of anecdotes about famous people’s costume. In this sense, it would serve as a handsome introductory volume for those who wish to learn more about men’s fashion through the ages. However, whether such people would pay the prohibitively expensive cover price is another matter. Publishing the book in time for Christmas may, therefore, have been the authors’ best decision.

Dominique & François Gaulme, Power and Style: A World History of Politics and Dress (Paris, 2012). Hardback. £50/$75.

This article was written by Benjamin Wild who runs his own blog on fashion throughout the ages – www.linleywild.com.

Simpson’s Tavern Review

Address: Ball Court 38½, Cornhill, London, EC3V 9DR

www.simpsonstavern.co.uk/

£47 for two mains, two sides, two glasses of wine, one pudding and tip

Simpson’s Tavern is certainly not a new restaurant but an old style Victorian chophouse, and having seen it feature in the Lunch episode of Clarissa Dickson Wright’s series ‘Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner’, I thought it worth a try. The front page of the menu gives a history of the restaurant. In brief, it was founded in 1757 by Thomas Simpson at its current site in the City of London. So while I refer to it as a Victorian Chophouse, as that is very much what it is, Simpson’s really has its routes in the Hanoverian/Georgian period, more specifically it dates from the 30th year of the reign of King George II.

The heyday of chophouses was the Victorian age, and London was full of the things. Its role was to feed the hungry city worker and leave them filled until dinner, which might be some hours later after the commute home, something that was ushered in by the invention of the railways. The food was not overly priced and good traditional English fare served up in hefty portions, just what a man needed to see him through the rest of the working day. It also acted to ensure the continuation of an ‘English cuisine’ in the face of the more European style of cooking that was to be found on the dinning tables of many of the richer elements in society, and was permeating down to the rising middle classes.

When I arrived, I entered through a narrow wood clad space by a staircase, and was greeted cheerily by a chap who was particularly fast paced, making me feel unquestionably in the City where speed is needed by all, even in a place like Simpson’s Tavern whose main custom is clearly from City workers with little time to spare. That said, at no point did I feel hassled or that I was being hurried along, indeed quite the opposite. The staff were all very helpful and friendly, giving you the time you needed and, while you were not waiting ages for the food, it was not rushed to you and you could take all the time you wanted over it.

I was shown upstairs into a room with a number of long narrow wooden booths that seat six. The brass racks that where attached reminded me of an old Victorian rail carriage. The Victorian atmosphere did not stop there, the seat cushions were House of Commons green and the walls painted in that old light red colour with numerous caricatures of men in Victorian dress.

There was a relaxed informality about the place, resulting from the fact that the room was not overly large and you shared the tables. The room was full of the laughter and movement. This too was enhanced by the fact that the windows looked out onto an old office block that was covered in those old white ceramic brick tiles thus adding to the sense of being somewhere from another era. A nice touch I thought was the fact that the tables had plain jars filled with every type of condiment you could possibly want, including horseradish. The simple act of just engaging with the others at your table in order to pass them along, just furthered the relaxed informality which meant you left feeling that your lunch had been relaxing despite the noise, and relatively short time you had been their.

As one would expect given its pedigree, the food is still quintessentially English. Starters include smoked mackerel, chicken liver pate, potted shrimps and the like.  For the mains there is a choice from four sections, the grill (as you’d expect in a chophouse) offering plates of pure meat, mains, the daily specials, and salads. Finally, there is a selection of side dishes of vegetables, including cauliflower cheese, red cabbage, bubble and squeak, and kidney.

We decided to forego starters and went straight for the mains. Tempted as I was by the mixed grill, I ordered the chump chop from the grill. While sorely tempted by the baked ham with parsley sauce, my guest eventually settled on the roast duck with seasonal vegetables and apple sauce from the specials of the day, and we ordered a side of chips and another of cabbage and bacon.

The chump was beautifully cooked; it was perfectly tender with a lovely pink on the inside and a well grilled outside which added that lovely charred flavour to the sweetness of the lamb. Frankly it was one of the best pieces of lamb I have had in a while, all the more impressive at only £8.95. There was nothing exceptional about the two sides, just as you’d expect, they were exactly what they claimed to be. This said, the cabbage is worth a note. It was well laced with bacon, which was great to see as so often one has to go mining through the cabbage in search of it and, while the Savoy cabbage was cooked perhaps further than you would likely find at a high end restaurant, it was cooked to the appropriate degree for what it accompanied and age the food harked back to.

The duck, a roasted leg, came surrounded by a deep coloured gravy, mixed with apple sauce, which provided just enough acidity to offset the richness of the meat. It was rested on top of a selection of winter vegetables, including carrots and beetroot, and was delicious and. At £9.75, it was also excellent value.

To finish we decided to share a house specialty, the stewed cheese. This may not seem an appealing name, I’ll grant you, but I am a fan of a savoury to end a meal. What came was a small metal bowl, about the size of a ramekin, placed on top of a piece of white toast. The bowl was filled with soft hot cheese and resembled something not dissimilar to the topping of a welsh rarebit. It was very good and there was plenty of cheese so you didn’t have to scrimp and could apply it to the toast in copious amounts. One word of caution though, the metal bow when it comes is surprisingly hot so I’d suggest not using your fingers, as I did, to push it off the toast, at least not without letting it cool down a bit first.

Simpson’s Tavern is the perfect place for a good quality quick lunch if you are in the area and don’t want anything overly expensive or fancy, or if you just want to experience a Victorian style chophouse. The staff and atmosphere are welcoming, very few mains cost more than £10, though the sides are around £3.85, but, with the main part of your meal so cheap, you can hardly complain and they are big enough to share between two. Most importantly, the food tastes good. Overall then it is easy to see why this place is so popular, so I’d suggest booking in advance which you can do on their website.

This article was written by Feasting Through London.

Debrett’s Pocket Books – Men’s Style & Netiquette

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Debrett’s, the leading authority on etiquette, have released two pocket books called Men’s Style and Netiquette. The books are very well illustrated, full of pictures and extremely easy to flicker through.

Men’s Style

Men’s Style, as you would expect, covers all the bases of men’s style. Starting with a quote from Hardy Amies “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them“.

This book contains handy guides on many areas of men’s style my favourites include; what to wear, classic coats, suit traditions and beach etiquette it also contains more simple topics such as how many buttons one’s suit should have depending on one’s figure and how many buttons should be fastened.

Contents

Formal Wear – Suits, Traditions, Shirts, Jackets, Coats, Ties and ShoesDress Codes – Black Tie, White Tie and Smart Casual
Casual Clothes – Jeans, Knitwear and On the Beach
Accessories – Bags, Watches and Sunglasses
Grooming – Hairstyles, Facial Hair, Shaving and Aftershave

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The Debrett’s Men’s Style pocket book is easy to read, and good to have handy to look up information; it also would make a great present to someone who could do with the pointers in the areas of Men’s style.

Netiquette

Netiquette is the next Pocket book that Debrett’s have recently released. It covers the etiquette of the 21st century Aspiring Gent. With the world of technology moving so fast it can be a challenge to keep up to date with correct form, Debrett’s offers a considered response to such uncertainties.

Ever wondered what your ringtone says about you? According to Debrett’s, if you have left it on the factory setting you’re almost aggressively disinterested in your technology, the other types such as movie themes, rock and classical are included also.

Contents

Mobiles – Golden Rules, Texting, Text Speak, Foax-Pas, Romantic Texting & Ringtones
Manners – Headphones, Email Correct Form and At WorkSocial Media – Golden rules, Twitter, Blogging and Online Dating

Most of us type more emails than we do write letters so brushing up on a bit of email etiquette is always worthwhile I particularly like the piece on signing off emails. The golden rules on texting, emails and social media are a really good feature in this book.

Celebrated author Gabriel García Márquez, quoted in the guide, says that: “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” Increasingly web-based interaction is seeping into all three, so it is a priority to get it right. Netiquette provides all the tips to keep on top of modern manners on the move and within the ever expanding social/online sphere.

This book also gives an insight that our entire lives shouldn’t be centered around the internet and gives some ideas of indulging in life outside of technology.

An essential book for every Aspiring Gent who is connected to the online world. Both on the Pockets books are £7.99 and available on the Debretts’s website.

Gentleman’s gloves by Dents

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Established in 1777, Dents are renowned for their beautifully crafted gloves, many of which are handmade in the Dents factory located in the small country town of Warminster in Wiltshire.  Each pair is made using the finest materials from around the world including North American deerskin, fine aniline Ethiopian hairsheep leathers and top quality peccary skin which are the world’s rarest and most luxurious leather for crafting gloves.

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Creating the perfect pair of gloves takes 32 different operations, most of which are done by hand.

Gloves serve a practical purpose of keeping one’s hands warm in the chilly weather and Dents gloves are available with a number of linings, including luxurious Cashmere, fur and Silk. A little unknown fact – you may think cashmere would be the warmest lining, but in fact it’s silk. Unlined gloves are also very popular and still keep your hands warm; Daniel Craig in Skyfall wears a pair of Dents black unlined gloves.

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Dents gloves are incredibly soft and mould to the hand over time. I’ve been very pleased with my Dents gloves. I currently own a pair of black with red cashmere lining which I wear in the evening, Brown with beige cashmere lining that I wear casually and a pair of unlined dark brown gloves that I wear with a suit. Dark brown gloves go with most things from a suit to jeans at the weekend.

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For beautifully crafted leather gloves look no further than Dents.

Review: TM Lewin Suits

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I have, for quite some time purchased the vast majority of my shirts from TM Lewin but never suits. This is not because I did not like them, I just thought of them as the place to go for good quality, reasonably priced shirts. I have recently gone down a jacket size and thought it would be a good opportunity to review the TM lewin suits.

I couldn’t find another reviews out there and didn’t know what to expect, I was pleasently surprised. Each suit is available in exact sizes and trousers are available separate sizing which is ideal. The jackets are of a half canvassed construction which means they mould to your body shape and trousers are left un-hemmed to be adjusted in store or, if ordering online you can get them altered to you size free of charge with either hemmed or with a turn-up.

The majority of the suits from TM Lewin Suits are available under £499. The material is the second most important component to look out for – after the fit – they use super 110’s and 120’s merino wool, some even including cashmere. When looking at the materials on a suit polyester should be avoided at all costs, unlike natural materials such as wool, synthetics like polyester do not allow your body to breath.

I decided to choose the Brunel which was in the sale for £175 – no longer available. I have been very pleased with the fit which is the Sackville Cut which is the slimmer fitting range, they also have the Jermyn Street cut that is a regular fit.

The details were a nice touch and only normally found on a bespoke suit such as boutonniere loops behind the lapel, felt lining on the collar to help it keep it shape and the floating chest piece. The Brunel did not feature working cuffs although a tailor would be able to add these for £30, the only thing that I would change would be the belt loops – I never wear a belt with a suit – and to change them to side adjuster that a tailor can do for £20.

An Aspiring Gent’s guide to on-course betting

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Whether it be a point to point in the depths of winter or top hat and tails at Royal Ascot, nothing sets a gentleman apart from the crowd like the ability to be able to place a wager and understand, whilst being understood by the on-course Bookmaker. Here I shall offer a few tips on how to get the most out of a day at the races, ideally profitably and without looking like a novice.

The first thing to note is you MUST have an idea what you will back in each race before you get there. Buy a racing post and read it! At weekends this is made much easier, ‘The Morning Line’ on Channel 4 is a great way of finding information on the days racing and certainly don’t overlook social networking, accounts such as @getyourtipsout will give you a run down the card from many different tipsters. Simply compare and contrast the information, within an hour you should know what you are backing, the jockey’s name, and roughly what odds it should be. This will all become important information later.

The next step comes when you arrive at the track, but before…and this is very important, before you have a drink. Get a list of non-runners from a betting office window, and ensure none of your selections have been withdrawn. I guarantee nothing is more infuriating than queuing for a bet for 10 minutes, getting up there and realising your horse has been scratched. Once that is done, sit back, have a drink or 2 and do nothing until around 30 minutes before the first race.

30 minutes before the first race is action stations. Go out onto the track and find the Bookmakers, a gentleman who understands gambling never uses The Tote. First compare your selections to the bookies boards. Have the prices changed? If the odds are bigger i.e. you were advised at 14/1 and the price is now 25/1 this indicates a lack of confidence in the horse, however a horse advised at 14/1 but now running at 7/1 would show a great amount of interest in it. Keep in mind at this point that if a horse is priced at shorter than 5/1 it is pointless to back it each way as it placing alone will return you very little profit, also at this point remember that an each way bet costs you double, as it is actually 2 separate bets, £10 each way will cost you £20, very important as you will look like a fool when you accuse the bookmaker of over-charging you. You must also find the number of the horse you have selected; nothing will anger your bookie more than having to hunt through 21 horses to find you ridiculously named Steed.

To re-cap, at this point you have your horse, you have your stake and you know whether you are backing it each way or to win. You now approach the bookmaker, and this is critical, you tell him how much you are staking, your terms i.e. win or each way and then the number of the horse you have selected. The bookmaker will give you a ticket, CHECK THE TICKET BEFORE YOU WALK AWAY, this is very important; the bookmaker will not remember you out of the thousands of race goers he serves that day.

Make a mental note of your Bookmakers name and location and go away transaction complete; enjoy the race and probably another glass or two. Unrolling your racing post you will find the colours your horses jockey is wearing which should make following the race easier. Another note here a rolled up racing post also makes an excellent weapon for beating wasps away from jugs of Pimms on warm days.

Amid the excitement of the race it is easy to confuse which horse actually won, you are advised to wait for the course announcer to give the full result of the race before you join the queue to collect winnings. It often takes 5 minutes for the bookmakers to get results in and be able to pay out so don’t be in too much of a rush it whiffs of desperation slightly. When you get to the front of the queue give your bookmaker your winning ticket, he will probably confirm the amount he pays out before tearing up your ticket and giving you your winnings, refrain at all cost from gloating on your win, this is not becoming and will have you ear-marked as a Wally by the bookies.

A cautionary note here, drinking often leads to confusion at the races. Refrain from arguing with the bookmaker, he uses very complicated computer programs that calculate wagers, you will be wrong, the computer will be right, you will look foolish.

Et voila, my little guide from years spent involved in racing, on the best way to place a wager with an on-course Bookmaker. Please gamble responsibly and never with money you cannot afford to lose.

This article was written by Luke Tripathy (@Tunnellingluke) for An Aspiring Gent.

Sunspel’s Riviera Polo Shirt Worn by James Bond, Now in the New Sky Colour way

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The Riviera Polo Shirt was created for Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royal. Lindsey Hemming asked Sunspel to reconfigure their classic shirt to complement Daniel Craig’s physique and allow him to be the man of action as 007.

The fit of the shirt as flattering without being overly slim, the shape comes in at the waist and the armholes are fitted.

To celebrate 50 years of Bond, Sunspel have released the Riviera Polo Shirt in a new Sky colour way. Wear with a pair of dark jeans and driving shoes or chinos and a shawl neck cardigan for a smart casual look.

The materials used in the Riviera Polo Shirt are 100% Egyptian long-staple cotton woven in a unique vintage fabric called Q75 and is literally what makes this shirt what it is. Designed by Peter Hill, grandson of the company’s founder. The weave is very open and lightweight so suited for warm weather. Interestingly the fabric is knit on lace machines and is more breathable than traditional cotton piqué and has a loverly texture.

About Sunspel

Thomas A Hill founded Sunspel in 1860. His revolutionary idea to make simple, everyday clothing from beautiful fabrics soon established Sunspel as a pioneer in British craftsmanship. Sunspel continues this tradition today.

Sunspel are proud of British craftsmanship and still produce garments in their Nottingham factory.

Read more about Sunspel’s dedication to craftsmanship on their website by clicking here 

Kent Brushes, the finest brushes since 1777

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Founded in 1777, G B Kent & Sons Ltd or Kent Brushes as they are commonly known, have been the finest brush makers for over 230 years. Even in today’s fast moving, mass-produced assembly, Kent is proud to still be manufacturing many of their original brushes by hand.

Kent uses 12 processes in making most brushes, with some going through as many as 20 processes before inspection, including cutting, shaping, bristling, finishing, and buffing. Their 100% handmade brushes can take 540 hours to complete just one!

There are a few brushes An Aspiring Gent should own for one’s hair, clothes, shoes and shaving. I have tested a couple of their fine products and written my though below which I hope you will enjoy reading.

Shaving Brush

Discussing the details of various shaving brushes is a matter for a dedicated article because there are so many different types of brush. The best being a badger, there are also different types of badger brush from grey badger to silver tip just to complicate matters.

If starting out in wet shaving or moving up to a badger brush from a synthetic or bristle shaving brush the Kent BK2 Traditional Medium Sized Grey Badger Brush (RRP £35) is a great buy. I tested this brush and when it was compared to my existing brush costing 3 times the price, the difference was only small but when I put it next to one of my older, synthetic brushes, the difference was huge. Badger is prized for its ability to hold water unlike most hairs, which repel it. This is important when shaving because you want the lather to have enough moisture to help the blade run across your face. The BK2 comes in a felt lined presentation case which is a nice touch.

Clothes Brush

The suit should be looked after. The likelihood is that you’ve spent a bit of money on it, and you want it to last for some time, so just as you polish your shoes to keep them looking their best it is wise to do maintain your suit by giving it a bush down after each wear to remove dust and dirt. By doing this quick task after each wear you can reduce the amount of times that you need to take your garment to the dry cleaners.

Kent clothes brushes are all made from 100% pure bristle sources from China & India where the finest quality natural bristles are found and the handle is made from sustainably sourced cherry wood. I have tested the Kent CG1 Travel Clothes Brush (RRP £15.50) and have found it very effective. The brush is quite stiff, although this works well to remove marks caused by a busy day. The CG1 is a good size designed for traveling but also perfectly acceptable for using every day and at a RRP of £15.50 it is very good value.

Hairbrush

Not only does a hair brush help style ones hair, it also helps massage the scalp, remove dandruff, spread natural oils, and promote growth. The oval military style brush makes an ideal gentleman’s hairbrush; its compact design is perfect at home or when traveling.

I tested the Kent MC4 Oval Men’s Hairbrush (RRP £20) and like the CG1 Clothes brush it is made using sustainably sourced cherry wood and 100% natural pure bristles. I have found it very useful for keeping ones hair perfectly coiffed.

From testing out the range of Kent brushes I can see why they have been grated to bear the Royal Warrant through nine reigns for their incomparable quality and craftsmanship.