Get Carter, Get Dressed, Get Mohair

Michael Caine in Get Carter -Dormeuil Tonik

You’ve probably seen that picture a hundred times –if not more. But do you know what cloth that suit is made from? It’s Dormeuil Tonik, the subject of my last post.

It’s a standing joke amongst my friends that I am in attitude and demeanour a man born in the wrong era. I do little to dispel this notion and freely admit I am what might be termed ‘old school’. What passes for civilisation these days has lost much in manners and mystery if you ask me. Modern life does have its compensations: a lower mortality rate, internet porn, and an absence of rickets are a bonuses to be sure. But there is much to lament the loss of. For one, the world is a smaller place. I would love to have lived in a time when the world was young, when there were places and things to discover and one could get lost –google maps has put pay to that.

Perhaps the most regrettable facet of modern life is the fact that nothing seems special these days. People (and by that I mean other people of course) increasingly resent being asked to make an effort. This is particularly true in the matter of dining out. Few people dress up, women do, but most men seem to resent any requirement to dress well, even if their partner does so. The result is that even at the nicest bars and restaurants you’ll find hordes of men in jeans and t-shirts. It diminishes the experience for all of us.

Three things separate man from the beasts; the gift of articulate speech, opposable thumbs and dressing for dinner. Once upon a time the notion of discarding ones muck and dust ridden day clothes for fresh before dining was the norm. I’m not sure I want to return to the days of wearing Black Tie in my own home simply for dinner, but the idea of making an effort when out and about is certainly one that appeals. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring a bit of magic, glamour and just sheer specialness back into our lives and end the relentless march towards a grot filled, down trodden, everyday future.

As I say I’m not going to get dressed up in a dinner jacket to go out but I had thought about some form of suit for occasions and evenings out, in which event I could at least use the jacket and trousers separately depending on the circumstances of the evening. But what would that suit look like? It doesn’t want to be too much like a business suit, although it might be handy for evenings spent in the bars over the Party conferences (I’m a lobbyist by day). Likewise, it would be foolish to invest in something too different and odd that it might in a few years look foolish or dated. So, that doesn’t leave too much room for manoeuvre. 

Picture Courtesy of David Reeves Bespoke

Well, there is one option. For my next suiting project I’m considering a suit made from Tonik. Not seen very often these days it had its heyday during the mod era of the 60s. In fact, that’s where the alternative spelling comes from. The mods simply called Tonic , like gin and tonic. As I mentioned in my post on Dormeuil cloth, Tonik is the trade name of a particular cloth. A cloth woven from a mix of wool and mohair, it is the addition of mohair that gives the cloth a shine.

Perhaps the most iconic demonstration of a Tonik suit in motion is of course the picture we started with, that suit worn by Michael Caine in ‘Get Carter’, made of course by Dougie Hayward. For those able to afford bespoke then Dormeuil cloth -325gr, 70 per cent wool and 30 per cent mohair- is the best there is, as discussed in my last post. But a bespoke suit is a big stretch, Dormeuil cloth is not cheap and let’s be honest it’s a big investment for an occasional wear suit. So the alternative would be to look to BespokeMe’s favourite Adam of London. He sells a nice range in the classic mod style with 3ply mohair and Tonic –which in this case is wool, kid mohair (from younger goats and thus softer) and some with a touch of polyester for strength. Both cloths are British made. As a one off suit for limited occasional wear this might make a better investment, and of course Adam’s suits have a fitted, tailored cut.

Time to shine.