Next up on Sundry Style, interviews featuring prominent stylish folk, we catch up with Simon Crompton. Educated at Trinity College, Oxford, Simon is a British journalist with a history in editing finance, banking, and law magazines. He is the author of several books on men’s style and is also the founder of Permanent Style; a popular online magazine trusted for its honest, analytical approach to quality menswear. He lives in London with his wife and two children.
Trinity was wonderful and some of the best years of my life. I met my wife there who was in the year below me doing Portuguese and French. We met the summer of my second year. She was the producer on the lawns play, and I did a rather poor role in the play itself.
a nicely cut pair of cream linen trousers
I think I represented the college in eight or nine different sports. I only played twice for the croquet team. It was dominated by people [who] took it very seriously and knocked most of the fun out of it. Always physicists for some reason. [If I were to go back and play croquet again], I’d probably wear a nicely cut pair of cream linen trousers, espadrilles possibly, and then a nice shirt- I’m not sure if I’d wear anything over the shirt. Maybe a nice panama hat to finish off the outfit, that you could push back on your head when you’re ready to take a shot. It seems quite practical if it’s sunny out.
I was president of the PPE society in Trinity, but largely because I don’t think anyone else wanted to do it. Most of the role seemed to be welcoming slightly dodgy ex-Conservative ministers to the college for dinner. We had to give a shuffling, stumbling speech and they had a nice big dinner with lots of port afterwards. Which is not too bad, but it didn’t feel like a particularly active, academic society in that sense.
I’d encourage people to buy fewer clothes, buy better quality clothes
One of the principles behind Permanent Style has always been to buy the best you can afford. And I think as a student that’s particularly important, because your money is so precious that it’s really got to go a long way. Therefore, I’d encourage people to buy fewer clothes, buy better quality clothes that will last a long time and age really well.
I’ve often said that my aim in life is simply to look well dressed and nothing more. I think if someone looks at you and says he looks well dressed without going, “he’s wearing that jacket,” then I think you’re along the right lines.
Under most definitions I’m not a gentleman
One of my favourite posts is “I am not a Gentleman”, because under the definition of what most people talk about as being a gentleman I don’t subscribe to. I don’t own a car, I’d never hope to if I don’t have to; I do like whiskey, but I probably prefer wine most of the time; I don’t smoke cigars, I’ve tried many times but they’re not really for me. So, under most definitions I’m not a gentleman, and yet I’d like to think that most of the original concepts that lie behind being a gentleman I certainly embody.
I’m not much of a cook. I like food but I’m certainly not a foodie and I don’t spend much money on restaurants. I find that more interesting in a way because in some ways I’m a bit like somebody else might be about clothes; largely ignorant about it because of time, because of the fact that I’ve always worked. But I would like to know more about it. If I had an unending amount of time, there’s no end of things I’d like to know more about. Hopefully I’m helping a lot of other people do that about clothes.