Dandy & Rose

Bespoke Western Shirts, Handmade in England


Dandy with Roses

With its delicate old fashioned blooms, this shirt lives up to the Dandy & Rose name.

This is a deceptively simple print – there are several shades of orange and peach blending in those roses and the stems and leaves are a gentle olive green. I have loved working with it and giving it those orange accents.



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Bonjour Monsieur Grenouille, or Hello Froggy


Front landscape peach pincher

Bill DeMain is a very talented man. He is a journalist who has interviewed all your musical heroes; an accomplished musician and songwriter based in Nashville; the entertaining and astoundingly knowledgeable tour leader of Walkin’ Nashville; and a recently converted Francophile.

Bill visited Paris last year and fell in love with the city. During March, he returned for one of those total immersion language courses and kept his instagram followers entranced with photographs of the things he saw (and ate) while in The City of Light.

When Bill asked me for suggestions for his third Dandy & Rose shirt, this wonderful Arts and Crafts style print by Liberty leapt right into my mind. It seemed like such a fun way to acknowledge Bill’s love of France. And just look at that frog, with his little toes!

close up with label peach pincher

It can get hot out there, walkin’ Nashville, so Bill likes short sleeves. I like short sleeves too, and leap at the opportunity to make them.

short sleeve detail peach pincher

I have been waiting for an opportunity to use this print ever since it came out last year. I’m so glad that one has has hopped along.

OK. That’s enough corny frog jokes. Unless you know any.



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Thor busy issie left front

Thor Platter has a new album coming out in October, which I can’t wait to hear. He asked me to source a Liberty print with a retro look, in dusky browns, greens and oranges, to chime in with the artwork for the record sleeve.

It took about a week, but finally I remembered filing this one away at the back of my brain.

thor busy issie back

So retro!

Thor busy issie cuff















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What people really wore in the 80s. Well, some people.

According to the anthropologist Igor Kopytoff, we can learn a lot about culture by studying the lives of objects. How they change hands, and what we swap for them; the emotional, sometimes magical values that we place on them; the uses we put them to – all these things tell us a lot about the societies where the things we make and own live. As all good students of Design History know, Kopytoff calls this the ‘cultural biography’ of objects.
Igor Kopytoff: it always strikes me as the sort of name that a bloke with a very big brain might have. And I have always reserved my contemplations of Kopytoff’s theory for the big brain activities, like essay writing. It never really occurred to me that that there might be an object with a ‘cultural biography’ in my loft.
That’s where, after a bit of a search earlier today, I found my purple suede fringed jacket.

Yesterday, out shopping with my daughter in Nuneaton TKMaxx – an activity low in cultural capital if ever there was one – I tried on a fake leather fringed jacket. I would have bought it, if not for the overwhelming smell of vinyl it exuded.

But it did remind me that I owned a fringed jacket already – this purple suede number which I think I acquired in 1989.

frontsuede (2)

Professor Kopytoff would be interested to note that, as an item of western wear, it’s entirely fake. It came from one of those discount leather shops you used to see at the tacky end of Oxford Street and the label, to my surprise, says ‘Handmade in England’.
As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it: at the time, all shades of purple were a signature colour for me. I had read the 80s fashion self-help classic ‘Colour Me Beautiful’ and identified myself as a ‘summer’ – since when, I had acquired a wardrobe almost entirely made up of lilac, magenta, lavender, violet… you name the shade of purple, I wore it. All my jewellery was amethyst. Occasionally I broke the monotony with a splash of those other 80s favourites, fuschia or electric blue, but I mostly stuck to purple. The lilac chelsea boots in the photo, bought in a sale at the Covent Garden branch of Hobbs, were a particularly prized possession. I found them in the loft too and they still fit.

I wore this combo to lots of gigs. This was the era when cool country singers nailed their traditionalist colours to the mast by wearing jackets by the great hillbilly tailor, Manuel. Manuel liked purple too – look at this jacket and shirt he made for Jim Lauderdale, who still wears his clothes onstage today. And if Jim, and Dwight Yoakam and Marty Stuart thought western wear was cool, that was good enough for me.

budbud (2)

The older generation of British country fans didn’t agree. They thought that dressing western gave country music a bad name and was responsible for its reputation for naffness. And I do remember seeing, at my first ever Tammy Wynette gig in 1987, a middle aged lady dressed as a squaw. So I completely understand why the then-editor of Country Music People magazine greeted me, as I arrived in this jacket, at the Royal Albert Hall to cover a 1990 gig for him, with the immortal words, ‘What the f*** are you wearing?’

You see what I’m getting at here, Kopytoff-style? Just as a Manuel jacket was a signifier of authenticity for my favourite artists, this purple suede jacket had a meaning for me. It showed the kind of country fan I was: my discovery of country music might have been fresh, but I liked my country to sound old. And even now that I’ve read all that I have about country music history and I understand about different types of authenticity and even acknowledge that a softer style of country was the way the music started, still in my heart I know that, when I hear the searing fiddle and wailing steel guitar of a great honky tonk band – well, that’s the real thing.

Even so, the next statement that this jacket, with its huge shoulder pads, brash colour and unforgiving nipped-in waist, might have made could well have been one about the cruel whims of fashion. It could so easily have gone, long ago, to a charity shop, had it not become a piece of personal memorabilia for me. I think it must have been in 1991 that I wore it to interview the Queen of Country Music Authenticity, Emmylou Harris, in London. It’s the only time I’ve ever met her and she was so bright, so interesting and so gracious that I’ll never forget it. And as I came into the room she complimented me on my jacket. To be fair, I had teamed it that day with a fuschia skirt, so maybe she just felt she had to say something; I mean, she could hardly pretend she hadn’t noticed my outfit, could she?

The jacket’s fate was sealed: I was never going to be able to part with it, ever, after Emmylou had said she liked it. That’s how it came to spend twenty years in a loft – and to survive into a world where your mum’s old clothes are no longer laughably unfashionable, the subject of ridicule. They are vintage. I wonder how much longer I’ll be allowed to own it?

And one more thing: after I had accepted Emmylou’s compliment, she gave me a piece of fashion advice. She told me only ever to wear one piece of western wear at a time – so the boots, the jacket or the shirt, but not all or even any two of them at once.

Now. I have the greatest respect for Emmylou and I knew, even then, what a privilege it is to receive fashion tips from her. I nodded and agreed.

Then I took absolutely no notice. Put it all on, I say! Fringes, piping, rhinestones, pointed toes and Cuban heels. Kick ‘em up, cowgirl – however real or fake they, or you, are!

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Ruffles On My Mind

This weekend, there was snow on the ground and ruffles on my mind.

I love to see a man in ruffles, don’t you?

Whether they are crisp ruffles like the ones on the great Texan honky-tonker Dale Watson’s Seventies prom shirts:


Dale buys his shirts from the vintage website, RustyZipper.com. Now who else could have told you that?

And then I like foppish, floppy ruffles like the ones Gram Parsons favoured:

gram ruffles

Wait – is that even a man’s shirt? A suit order in the Nudie’s The Rodeo Tailor, now at the Autry National Center in LA, notes that Gram had a ‘small chest’ – so maybe not.

But my favourite ruffles are the ones on matadors’ shirts. Nursery-starched, white on white, pristine amongst all the sand, blood and spangles, they are my favourite element of matador attire, which is one of my favourite things of all. Here is Enrique Ponce, on whom I admit I developed a little crush when I was researching matadors’ suits of lights for a paper for the Design History Society’s conference last year:


So for a while, I have been planning to make a ruffled shirt for the Dandy & Rose collection, in honour of all these influences. And being snowed in was the perfect excuse. I decided on black, with white edging to the ruffles. I used the narrow hem stitch on my trusty Elna overlocker to make a neat, decorative edge and gathered up the ruffles with two rows of long stitches, like my mum taught me.

It’s quite good, but not good enough. Like all new projects, it turned out to have unexpected challenges, and I have learned a lot. So this week I’m going to be unpicking and re-doing those ruffles. And I’ve bought a gadget.

Now, I would like to be one of those hard-core seamstresses that resist gadgets and boast of using their granny’s sewing machine (some of whom regularly pop round to use my automatic buttonhole attachment) but I’m not. I love gadgets. You name it, I’ve got it. Magnetic needlecases with magnets so strong you have to wrestle the needles away from them; the magnificently-named ‘jean-a-ma-jig’, designed for helping the machine foot over lumpy bits. I specially love that one, even though a folded piece of card used to do the job. But not as well, I promise.

So now I have invested (and at £40 it was an investment, believe me) in Janome’s Ultimate Ruffler foot. Not just any old ruffler. Ultimate Ruffler. How could I resist? I hope it will be here for the weekend! Seamsters and seamstresses – stand by for a review! And pictures of the finished shirt!

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Lucy Daisy

As you can see from these pictures, there are a lot of stages when it comes to making a shirt – but my favourite is when I see the finished item on a proud owner! Here is Amy Beth’s shirt, which arrived in Nashville, Tennessee yesterday after only 8 days in transit. She chose the fabric, Liberty’s tana lawn in their print ‘Lucy Daisy’, from the Liberty website. I paired it with cherry red lawn for the accents and blue-grey pearl snaps. I think she looks great!


Kerry’s Flock

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One of the great things about making shirts to commission is that sometimes customers spot a fabric I’ve overlooked. This subtle, beautifully drawn, feathery beauty was spotted on the Liberty website by a customer in Australia. It’s called ‘Kerry’s Flock’. No idea why! She wanted a rounded yoke shape and a fitted style. We added lots of piping to give definition and brought out the yellow – it’s her favourite colour – with palest yellow pearl snaps. It’s winging its way to the other side of the world right now!