For half a century gentlemen who care about their clothes have had cause to be grateful to Mr Geoffrey Golding. For, since he opened his shop at number 220 Hatfield Road in the cathedral city dedicated to St Alban, this talented tailor has been making wonderful clothes for some of the grandest in the land. His tailoring skills have suited (in both senses) those who demand the very best. That is why, above the entrance to the shop, there are the Royal Arms (pictured). They signify that Mr Golding has a royal warrant. The practice of the Sovereign awarding warrants goes right back to the middle of the 12th century, when the most skilled trades people in the country would compete to supply their wares to the royal household. Today there are about 800 warrant holders, and in St Alban’s is one of them – G.D.Golding, Tailors “by appointment to Her Majesty The Queen”.
Any gentleman worth his sartorial salt will know that he needs to wear bespoke shirts. What is more, he will also be convinced – as I am – that he is he not properly dressed without a silk handkerchief in the outer breast pocket of his jacket, and that his pocket square must relate, first and foremost, not to his tie, but to his shirt. By ‘relate’ I do not, of course, mean match. A matching pocket handkerchief and shirt would be an even greater solecism than a matching tie and handkerchief – and we all know what a foul abomination that is. It is therefore both right and sensible for a gentleman to obtain both his shirts and his pocket squares from the same place and at the same time. I thought it was the moment to refresh my wardrobe in both respects, so I went to visit the company which is famous as one of the best bespoke shirt-makers in the world – Harvie & Hudson.
My photograph brings together two symbols of the Best of British: a real Rolls-Royce and a real Savile Row suit. The former is my 1963 Silver Cloud III, made when the company was still truly British, and the latter is my three-piece City suit made by Henry Poole & Co. These two icons (for once, I think it is justifiable to use the term) are separated by half a century, but both embody in their different ways what we recognise as ‘the best’. In tailoring The Best is still British and it is still Savile Row. And Henry Poole & Co. is Savile Row. Certainly, the street would not have its tailoring associations if Mr Henry Poole had not moved his business there in 1846. Since then fashions have come and fashions have gone, but Henry Poole has remained the finest destination for any gentleman who cares about his appearance. Mercifully, the number of such gentlemen is now increasing once more. The idiocy of ‘dressing down’ (an evil plague which spread with alarming rapidity among persons in the City of London) has abated, and – mirabile dictu! – the three-piece City suit is increasingly the sartorial choice of those with taste and discernment. And for such a suit one can do no better than follow my example and go to Henry Poole.
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