Posts Tagged 'france'

Not Just About Napkins: The English Manner’s Garden Tours

One of the highlights of The English Manner ‘learning with a difference’ programmes are our highly sought after and exclusive Garden Tours.  Groups of guests (usually around 2 to 18 people) are whisked around the countryside – usually England, Scotland and Wales, but occasionally France and Ireland – visiting private gardens and houses of note, accompanied by a wealth of experts and owners.

Coffinpictures06 341Like everything we at The English Manner provide, every aspect of our tours are organised down to the last detail.  From the moment guests leave their own house to the moment they return, we look after them memorably.  Accommodation is in the finest private houses or country house hotels, food and wine is a highlight of the day, and because groups are small, master classes are much more meaningful.  Each programme is bespoke and takes into account the background knowledge and specific interests of the guests, their agility and desire for little or much activity, and we offer a wide range of visits to demonstrate the versatility of gardens, architecture and design.  Masterclasses may be led by Royal Gardens Advisor Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Penelope Hobhouse, Tim Penrose or Mary-Ann Robb, and tickets are usually available for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show or Hampton Court Palace.

This year’s main tour was centred around the Cotswolds, with the theme of the English country house style gardens of Nancy Lancaster and NorahYarlingtongallery1 Lindsay, and our guests from Virginia were enchanted by Cottesbrooke Hall, private gardens in Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire including Rockcliffe and Quenington, and a private tour of the Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, with Barbara Pollard.  A visit to the final home of Nancy Lancaster before a day at Chelsea helped add the icing to the cake after a tour of the garden of a well known VIP which is completely inaccessible to the general public.  These visits, accompanied by local produce in award winning luxury country house surroundings, made for a truly outstanding tour, and we are already planning some exciting ideas for 2010.

Come and join us!  Novices welcome, no need to own a Palace, just enjoy the landscape and all that our gardens and talented gardeners can offer will be yours.

Making accessible the inaccessible………

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner

Black Tie: A Coat of Many Colours?

Last week, we discussed some of the conventions associated with wearing Black Tie, following the start of the awards season. There is so much to say about this dress code that we thought we should pursue it further. This week, how to introduce colour successfully into what some perceive as a boring colour system, and how to tie a proper bow tie.

The white dress shirt should preferably have a turndown collar (as opposed to winged). Wing collars are the preserve of White Tie, which is the highest form of formal dress. Although, it is usual to find gentlemen in Black Tie sporting wing collars. Interestingly, John Robertson, fellow tutor at The English Manner, notes that:

bowtie“[He has] seen the black dinner suit with the wing collar and the black tie worn SO successfully that [he] would be the last person in the world to say it is incorrect. It comes down to confidence and flair. Especially amongst the younger set, I say go for it, just so long as you do it with style. As long as you are breaking the rules anyway, best to go all the way. Not only does this look require that you tie your own tie, to avoid any display of adjusting hardware as well, wear a single ended bow tie (the favourite of The Prince of Wales) or a properly sized butterfly (that matches your collar size).”

Introducing colour into the black and white colour scheme of the garments can be dangerous. Yet, like with the wing collars, if you know the rules you can break then with panache and élan. There was once an occasion where a gentleman attended a Black Tie dinner wearing:  a white business shirt, blue blazer, dark bottle green trousers and a bow tie. No one noticed that he wasn’t wearing a ‘proper’ dinner jacket, as the bow tie gave the over-riding impression.

It is probably fair to say that most of the male population would opt for a ready-tied bow tie over a DIY one. Whilst there are benefits with the former, nothing can look better than a ‘proper’ one, as the ready-tied variety do not look nearly as good and can be very obvious to the trained eye.

You can find instructions on how to correctly tie here:

http://www.societies.cam.ac.uk/cuhags/whitetie/howtotie.htm

However we would advise a trip to a gentlemen’s’ outfitters to learn how to tie a bow tie, rather than just relying on the web. Shops such as Gieves & Hawkes, T. M. Lewin, or Thomas Pink – all of which are accessible outside of London.

It is never good manners to question the authenticity of someone’s bow tie: especially by pulling it to see if it comes apart! It may be a good idea to carry in your pocket a ready-tied tie, in case your attempt at having a go yourself fails.

Cummerbunds are worn with pleats pointing upwards and are worn in the spot around the waist where a conventional belt would be worn. Belts themselves are not normally worn with Black Tie: opt for braces if you feel a cummerbund is not for you.  A cummerbund bridges the gap between the waist edge of the trousers and the beginning of the pleated or pique fronted shirt.

Other accessories you can add include evening studs: a lot of proper dress shirts do not have the front four buttons, but have holes for formal dress studs. Studs are often given as 18th or 21st birthday presents and can last a lifetime. For dress shirts with double cuffs, cufflinks are required. Please note that all ‘jewellery’ (or accessories) should compliment what you are wearing and each other. For example, if your studs are black with silver edging, your cufflinks should ideally be silver, too.

Another point to note is that in America, it is referred to as ‘Tuxedo’ (see last week’s post as to why), whereas Brits will call it ‘Black Tie’ or ‘Dinner Jacket’: the latter is never written on invitations, only the former. In France, the notation “Jacquet” on an invitation denotes Black Tie.

What do you think? Do you dare break the colour rules? Have you found any better instructions on how to tie your bow tie? Let us know by commenting on this post.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner


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