Mastering British Style With Patrick Grant

From Winston Churchill's wardrobe to swimming trunks made out of recycled fishing nets, Patrick Grant is an authority on British menswear

Owner and creative director of E. Tautz, Patrick Grant has a close connection with British menswear and a longstanding interest in heritage tailoring. Grant is responsible for reviving historic menswear brand E. Tautz, once a favourite of Winston Churchill, and transforming it into a highly covetable, modern menswear label. Here he shares his favourite London hangouts and tips on mastering contemporary British style.

 

When did you first develop at interest in fashion?

By the time I was 12 or 13, I remember being very aware of my clothes. In fact, my mum stopped dressing me around then because she got fed up of me being far too picky about the things I wanted to wear! I’d always been very aware of dressing nicely, even on my first day of school I gave myself a haircut in the bathroom mirror at home. Even in my school photos, you can tell that I’m really pleased with how I look in my uniform, my tie is perfectly knotted and everything is immaculate. I just remember being very into looking tidy and right for every occasion.

What do you think are the characteristics that define British style?

I think there’s a quality that underlines everything we do as well as a link to tradition and a sportiness to British clothes that we might not always think of. To my mind, the clothes we wear are mostly derived from old sportswear rather than old military clothing. E. Tautz’s history is as a sporting tailors and our clothes are created for action rather than standing around in. We’ve always cut clothes that work well with the human body. Edward Tautz himself was famous for creating modern sportswear during the 1860s, he was catering to men who spent the majority of their lives taking part in sporting pursuits, mostly equestrian activities. For that reason, he would design knickerbockers as opposed to britches to allow for greater movement. We still maintain that ethos today. For example, we cut our jackets with higher arm holes to allow for more range of movement. A sense of luxury is also paramount. There’s always been a buoyant menswear industry in Britain and it’s always been in quality of materials and quality of workmanship.

You’re credited with reviving the historic British E. Tautz label in 2009. What attracted you to the brand?

For me, it had this fascinating pioneering, sporting heritage. Edward Tautz started off as the head cutter at Hammond & Co, which had been in operation from the 1770s, and had been the royal sporting tailor, famed for its riding coats and britches. Tautz left there to found his own house and create, what was at the time, really innovative sportswear. The brand used the most modern fabrics available in the 1860s and 70s and were committed to making functional sports clothes that allowed men the opportunity to enjoy sport in a different way. Previous to that, men had been playing golf in top hats, frock coats and starched, collared shirts. Tautz was an innovator, using tweeds for sportswear which was a novel idea at the time and, as such, his creations attracted an amazing clientele, with multiple royal warrants granted from across Europe. The young Winston Churchill was also a massive fan of E. Tautz’s britches and the company even made his jockey silks. I really love the fact that E. Tautz is a brand rooted in a sense of modernity and functional luxury.

 

How would you spend an ideal day in London?

On a sunny summer’s day, I’d cycle into town, have a long breakfast at Fischer’s, maybe go visit the Royal Academy or the Tate. I’d also spend some time relaxing in a park and maybe have a Negroni at Duke’s followed by dinner somewhere fantastic. For me, cycling around London is a real joy. There’s so much to see and it really gives you a sense of how extraordinary the city is. If I had a bit more time, I’d probably enjoy a bike ride around Richmond Park too.

Who are your favourite British style icons?

I really love Jarvis Cocker, he has a real sense of personal identity through his clothing. The same can be said of David Hockney, who’s well known for his unique and personal style and also Prince Charles, who is a very classic dresser but there’s a lot of his personality there too; the tiny tie hole, the cut of his double-breasted suit, the lapel pin, his button hole. I like men who have a very clear sense of their own personal style and you can see their personality through their clothing.

Do you have any secrets to packing the perfect holiday wardrobe?

I’m a real uniform dresser so for the summer, I have a fairly set packing list. A pair of very lightweight black cotton shorts, plenty of oversized cotton or linen shirts and a pair of sandals. I’ll also make sure I pack a lightweight cotton navy blue sweater and swimwear from Fourth Element which makes very cool swimming trunks out of recycled fishing nets.

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