Cleav is perhaps Styleforum’s best-known Englishman, known for sharing pictures that showcase a well-selected wardrobe, idyllic surroundings, and a particularly nice collection of shoes. Here, he waxes lyric about his youth, and how he’s grown.
Simple, the life of an interpreter.
The day job is about explaining what one person is saying to another, being able to convey that message accurately with the correct tone and tenor. Then interpreting the response in an equally culturally sensitive manner, facilitating the dialogue so all parties understand the intentions of others. Simple.
Thing is, speaking on behalf of another allows you to take on a role; become them, essentially, for the purpose and duration of the assignment. Amongst many parts played I have been a Doctor, Comedian, Patient, Politician, Woman, Prisoner, Barrister, Accountant, Bricklayer, Lawyer, Footballer, Rock Star, Policeman, Actor, etc. etc. It’s a relatively straightforward task, armed with specific vocabulary, to accurately reflect the thoughts and intentions of someone.
With all that in mind, imagine my consternation then when asked to write this piece: speak for myself? All of a sudden, my interpreting facade is taken away leaving myself bare. Writing about me makes this doubly difficult…I’ll try to keep this brief.
A proud Englishman, forever inspired by my Father and Grandfather. Dad was a highly skilled Tradesman who didn’t mind getting his hands dirty building intricate wooden spiral staircases, cabinets and furniture; equally he scrubbed up well as keen to uphold the standards as set by his Father, my Grandfather. Fred was a senior engineer working for Rolls-Royce, building aero engines for British fighter planes in the 1940’s. My Grandfather would go to work in a jacket and tie, go to the Club for a ‘snifter’ in a jacket and tie, yet would relax reading the Sunday newspapers at home without a jacket though still wearing a tie! They both set the bar high in terms of their integrity, passion and commitment and would impress upon me many things that I in turn have passed on to The Flower Garden, our wonderful daughters courtesy of the love of my life, The Duchess.
I can remember my parents being keen to ensure I and my brother were sufficiently well turned out to visit our Grandparents. Short back and sides with a bowl cut fringe, matching shirts and ties, grey tailored shorts, knee length grey socks and polished black shoes, all at an early age. Well, at least the hair got better! We would be greeted with a matter of fact attitude by my Grandparents, who expected nothing less.
I clearly remember my Grandfather’s words of wisdom, including “Attention to detail, dear boy” and “You can always tell a man by his shoes and his wristwatch.” Some things just stick with you; after all, it is often said we are a product of our environment.
With this grounding, I look back with no surprise as to the path I took and subsequent influences. First album bought: The Specials. Best gig: The Jam. First grail item bought: black tasseled loafers, second grail buy: English original Mod jacket. Northern Soul All-nighters. Quadrophenia…I’ll save the rest for another day.
When pressed to describe my style/look etc I was stuck as I found it difficult to summarize decades of experience that has led to a personal style whilst still (hopefully) keeping it interesting. I called on dear friends made here on Styleforum (@cleav) and on Instagram (@ignoreatyourperil) who helped me consider that I go with my instinct, rooted in a ‘classic’ look, whilst able to mix and match pattern and color. Conservative business dress with an elegant continental flair? Regardless, above all else I wear my clothes for me; comfortable, dressed, though never dressed up.
Little did I know those shiny black shoes worn as a boy would lead ultimately to my current shoe and boot collection, a quest best described as a journey with no end. Or that being persuaded to wear an elasticated necktie as a youngster would pave the way to my never ending fascination with English and Italian tailoring, bespoke ties, shirts, pocket squares, wristwatches and of course socks – after all, “Attention to detail dear boy, attention to detail!”
You can follow @cleav on Instagram