When it comes to style advice, Toby Bateman, managing director of online men’s shopping portal Mr Porter, is about as well placed as they come. With this year markign the brand’s fifth anniversary, we caught up with Bateman and got his take on everything from male grooming to why you should never wear square-toed shoes, and that all-important question: what do you wear when you get a ‘smart-casual’ invitation?
MM: Define your personal style…
TB: Classic and smart but given my job, ever evolving. A decade ago I would not have predicted I would have as many sneakers as I do shoes, for instance.
What trends do you see emerging in menswear?
It’s interesting to see how sportswear has really influenced the movement away from the more formal suiting of five years ago. At the moment there is a military influence coming through and we are seeing a lot of options of field jackets, which feel relevant again.
What should men never wear?
Something they do not feel comfortable in. And also squared-toed shoes.
Who is your personal style inspiration?
Roger Moore in Live and Let Die.
If you get a ‘smart casual’ invitation, what do you wear?
My wardrobe is made up of ‘smart casual’ to be honest. A single-breasted slim suit, with an Oxford shirt, no tie and loafers can work well. But I would also consider an unstructured blazer with jeans. It depends on the occasion.
Pocket square, tie bar and lapel pin… stylish accessorising or too much at once?
It really depends on the man. Personally I err on the side of caution with accessories.
What is your favourite piece of timeless menswear?
Every man should own a navy blazer. It is the most versatile piece of clothing, occupying a happy medium on the scale of formality.
What is your favourite style of shoe?
Where to start? I really like Chelsea boots and am interested to see they are now on trend. I’m also a fan of a leather loafer, which works really well with dark slim jeans.
What’s your advice for looking smart while keeping cool in the heat of the Middle East?
Unstructured blazers work really well over a T-shirt and can add formality where required. More formal silhouettes and shapes in linen can also work.
If man has only five things in his wardrobe, what should they be?
An unstructured navy blazer, dark slim jeans, a decent of pair of leather derbies, a white Oxford shirt and a grey cashmere crew neck sweater.
Male grooming… where do you draw the line?
I moisturise every morning and that’s it.
And the best dressed man at the moment?
It may sound obvious but David Beckham. He has really developed his style over the years and looks as good in a tuxedo as he does in an old T-shirt and jeans.
What is your biggest luxury?
I have a young family so I have to say time.
And finally, what is one piece of style advice to live by?
You have to be comfortable in what you wear.