For Jeremy Hackett, being stylish is a full-time, life-long job. So imagine his surprise when a member of staff at a five-star London hotel looked him up and down “very disdainfully” and told him he was not well dressed enough and would have to leave.
Hackett has been in the clothing business for 50 years, first with a teenage Saturday job in the late 1960s, then working in tailoring shops on the King’s Road and Savile Row, before founding Hackett London in 1983.
Now 67, he launched a Hackett townhouse on Savile Row last year. His popular and beautifully curated Instagram account @mrjhackett shows that dressing well, and appreciating style in everything he sees around him, is more than just a day job. He is much photographed, and Google as you might, you will never find a picture of him looking like anything other than perfectly turned out. He favours the effortless elegance of the British gentleman that has made his brand such a success.
On one of the most sweltering days of this recent heatwave, Hackett was out-and-about in Knightsbridge dressed, as he put it, “like the sort of person you would see wandering down the boulevard at Cannes”. He saw a sign outside an upscale hotel advertising that the cigar terrace was open. What a great place for a dapper fellow to cool down and contemplate, he thought, as the mercury bubbled around 35 degrees.
Hackett prefers to spare their blushes than name the hotel in question. When he walked in he found the hotel completely devoid of customers. But he was told that, because he was wearing shorts and it is a five-star hotel, he would not be allowed in. Little matter that they were tailored, and of his own design.
“Particularly at the moment, you’d think they would grab anyone that walked through the door and say ‘yes, please come in’,” Hackett told my Healthy Beast podcast. “The lady looked me up and down very disdainfully and said: ‘shorts are not allowed’.”
Now we all understand the need to maintain standards in keeping with your surroundings. Even when it gets hot, it is no excuse to let yourself go entirely. Nobody wants to be sipping cocktails in all their finery and see you walk in looking like you’ve just finished creosoting the fence.
But what exactly was this outfit that was too shocking for the sensitive eyes of the establishment’s imaginary customers? A crisp Hackett shirt; striped, tailored shorts - Hackett again, naturally; and a pair of Edward Green loafers. For those in the know, Green’s loafers are at the rarefied, artisanal end of the shoe market, with prices - from £700 - £1,100 - to match.
“I was taken aback, I couldn’t believe it,” Hackett said. “I was shocked. I said: ‘Really?’ Then I think I said something like ‘I thought you’d need the business’. She just sort of ignored me and I left before I got too heated about it.”
Was he not tempted to point to the label on his shirt and say: “that’s me, that is”? The ever-modest Hackett, who still describes himself as happy to be “just a shopkeeper”, laughs. “No, he said. “Because most people don’t know who I am.”
He decided instead to take his custom elsewhere, going around the corner to the Grenadier on Wilton Row - “a great little pub” - where he relaxed, took pictures and posted them on Instagram, and got back to being one of the most stylish men in London.
The incident poses the question of whether strict dress codes - which are tougher on men than women - should be overlooked to accommodate an unprecedented heatwave. The hotel’s official line, for the record, is that guests should adhere to a ‘smart casual’ wardrobe and avoid shorts or open-toed shoes. When Mayfair feels like Morocco, perhaps a little discretion is in order.
Should dress codes be relaxed when temperatures soar? Have your say.
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