The Soho House festive style guide
It’s party season. Here’s how to dress for it – whichever House you’re getting down in this month
Thursday 1 December By Finlay Renwick
Thinking back to the long, strange, sourdough and Sopranos months of the 2020 (and beyond) UK lockdown, fashion – when it presented itself – was dominated by one word: comfort. Stuck at home or on occasional long, aimless walks, clothes had to offer cosy respite during a terrible time: cashmere tracksuit bottoms, Birkenstock Bostons, weeks spent researching the perfect sweatshirt. Designers created clothes to soften and soothe. No one was doing much dressing up for a Zoom quiz.
By the time I was allowed out of my house, I didn’t want to be comfortable (well I still did, sort of), I wanted to dress up and go out. I wanted to look like Giorgio Armani in 1988 and a Michael Mann character of medium importance. All of a sudden, wearing a suit and a smart pair of shoes felt like some kind of quietly subversive personal statement. A f**k you, as it were, to the dull horrors of the previous couple of years.
Earlier this year, fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote about the renewed prevalence of tailoring in both men’s and womenswear across the European runways in The New York Times, noting: ‘The suit, with its associations with power, status, gender conformity and nonconformity, armour and protection (not to mention adulthood), that makes you feel immediately girded for the day, may be the garment best – well, suited, for the times.’
Elsewhere in high fashion, the suit is being interpreted in new, exciting and sometimes surreal ways. Kim Jones and Dior partnered with the young Venice Beach-based designer Eli Russell Linnetz to create 1990s-inspired California tailoring, which is generous and pooling – and fit for a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. At Prada’s SS23 show, I was thrilled and a bit surprised to see a major focus on its classic, perfectly slim and dark suit, worn with clean, white poplin shirts and smart ties (plus loads of leather, another glamorous fabric). Gucci somehow managed to find 68 sets of identical twins and then deck them out in a wild Michele-style vision of suiting. Bows, leather (yes, more of that), velvet and every conceivable shape and size of lapel.
The suiting I’m seeing – on runways and in real life – isn’t Bond cosplay, or Mad Men fantasy, it incorporates classic tailoring with personality and some vibrancy. Getting dressed can be fun. There should be a German word for that feeling when you know you’ve put your look together just so. When you’re dressed for an occasion.
Most of the time, what is shown to us on the runway and in magazines isn’t exactly the full story. In fact, both in my own preferences and those of the people around me, I’m noticing a renewed desire in dressing with intention and, to be frank, to be seen. A term a friend and I have clumsily called ‘Trad Decadence’.
It’s funny what two years of practically no collective stimulation; no crowded bars; no weird symphony of human conversation and clatter in a dining room; not even the occasional rude waiter, does to you. Restaurant bookings are out of control and TikTok is sending hordes of Gen Z-ers to once dusty downtown cocktail bars. I’ve started wearing a suit and tie when I go out for dinner, a bit of a conceit, sure, sure, but it feels good. It makes me feel like I’ve made an effort, like I’m fully present in the experience. The social aspect of it all.
As the fashion writer Derek Guy wrote on Twitter some months back: ‘Dressing up and getting a nice meal is one of the great joys in life, and if you can afford to, should be done at least once a week.’
Now that the holidays are here, once a week may be the minimum. Here’s how to stay ready, no matter which House you’ll be visiting throughout December.
What to wear in London
An extrovert’s approach to dinnertime dressing up. Colour and classic details: wool flannel, print, silk, great shoes made in Northampton or Florence, but with a bit of fun in the mix. A tie that is colourful without being novelty. A Gucci loafer, a dazzle on the heel, and a pair of tinted glasses. Dressing like the Martinis just might be bottomless.
40 Greek Street
Jacket, £1,195, Drake’s
White City House
Shoes, €1,500, Bottega Veneta
24/7 Treatment, £72, Soho Skin
What to wear in New York
Strong tailoring with some modern softness. Double breasted, and a hint of shoulder and silhouette. Tom Ford is the master, as is a certain Giorgio Armani. Power dressing, but in a relaxed, interesting way. Gordon Gekko is long dead.
Soho House New York
T-shirt, £230, Canali
Trousers, £1,050, Gucci
Detox Mask, £60, Soho Skin
What to wear in Berlin
Dark and expensive. European, but with a hint of LA new sleaze and glamour. During the day, and most importantly, the early hours on the seventh floor rooftop overlooking the city with the party in full swing. That or all black, all the time.
Soho House Berlin
Shirt, £1,450, Prada
Loafers, £475, Legres
Renewal Serum, £76, Soho Skin
What to wear in Amsterdam
Cool, creative, and monochrome. Into mid-century modern architecture and knows a lot about fonts. If in doubt, classic Japanese design is always the answer. Yohji or Issey.
Soho House Amsterdam
Blazer, £595, Issey Miyake
Trousers, £210, Loulou Studio
Overnight Cream, £65, Soho Skin