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Foreign Correspondent: FashionBean's Matt Allinson on London Style Trends and Where to Go in Balham, the City's Coolest New 'Hood


This week's international style report comes to us from London fashion writer, Matt Allinson.

Occupation: Resident fashion writer at Fashion Beans (pictured top right).

Location: London. I'm from a town called Reading, but since I was 16 I've been catching trains to London and trying my best to live there. Now I'm based in the South East of London in an area called Balham, which I love. There's a great mixture of people all wanting to have a good time, and there are plenty of great places to go and have them, too.

How he got his start: I used to visit FashionBeans regularly when I first became interested in fashion and men's style. I always found the advice that founder and editor-in-chief Ben Herbert provided really useful. Ben asked me to get involved after I applied to a job posting I saw on the site and it all just snowballed from there.

I've been working for FashionBeans for over three years now and have done freelance work for other magazines and newspapers. I also do a lot of contract work in the financial industry at Canary Wharf.

Career highlights: When I designed a handful of men's accessories for (UK high street store) River Island AW12. I got a lot of joy from the process of taking an idea that was in my head and producing it for a mass market.

On a personal note, whenever I get an email or a message from a reader saying that my Men's Fashion Basics series has helped them change their style and they now feel better about themselves, that's always a little highlight in itself.

His personal style: Classic, versatile and simple, with a focus on tailoring and a hint of American prep. I feel most comfortable in some form of tailoring—be it a suit jacket, waistcoat, or sport coat. I think there's something quintessentially masculine about a suit, and once you know a thing or two about alterations it does a great job of hiding the parts of your body you don't like.

On-the-go style tip: I always pack something in my tote bag that will effortlessly change up my outfit on the go, like if I decide to head out in the evening straight from work. Usually, it's something like a polo or chambray shirt to wear with my suit.

The one item from his closet he'd save in a fire: Picking a favorite piece in my wardrobe is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child, but if there was a fire I'd probably save my navy plaid blazer. It's one of the most versatile pieces a man can own, yet it's still full of character.

On the current state of London menswear: I feel like London will always be at the center of menswear, regardless of what the trends and tastes of the times are. Just take a walk down Savile Row, Regent Street, or Jermyn Street and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

At the moment I've noticed a (re)focus on wearing tailored pieces outside of the work environment. A few years ago, for the majority of men dressing on the weekend meant jeans and a T-shirt with the possible addition of a leather jacket. Now it's all about a well-fitting blazer, separates, or a full suit paired with items that are a little less office-centric like chambray shirts, flannel plaids, or dress polos.

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His go-to shops: If you're visiting London, stop by the Burberry shop on Regent Street (pictured above)—it's paving the way for a new generation of menswear stores. And be sure to check out the Suit Supply store on Vigo Street. They have great customer service and the quality and cut of their suits for the price is unbeatable. Plus, they have a wall of ties in every color, pattern, and material imaginable.

On London city life: What I love about living in Balham is that it's outside the city center. It's like a little sanctuary. Because as much as I love the bright lights, it's nice to have a place to rest your head when the night is over. There aren't any clubs but there are a wealth of cool little pubs and bars that make up for it, and during the day there are plenty of great restaurants and coffee shops to hang out in. There's also an awesome market with a superb range of quality produce for prices that are often better than most supermarkets.

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If you ever visit Balham, you can't miss these spots:

The Cattle Grid: The only choice you have to make when you walk in the door is if you're in the mood for cow or pig (their menu is organized by animal), though they do a great steak. Wash it down with a bottle of the Wandle.

Firefly Bar: It does some of best Thai food I've ever tasted and stocks a new guest ale every week.

The Bedford: A good place to go to check out up-and-coming bands and comedians. There's always something interesting going on here.

And if you're looking for me, I'm mostly found at Balham Bowls Club (below) or The Devonshire—mine's a whiskey on the rocks, cheers.

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—Matt Allinson. Follow him on Twitter @FashionBeans

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Also on Details.com:
Foreign Correspondent: Street-Style Photographer Giuseppe Santamaria on the Sydney Menswear and Food Scene
Foreign Correspondent: Melinda Gloss' Rémi de Laquintane on Paris Style and Nightlife
Foreign Correspondent: Savile Row Stylist Daniel Johnson on London Style Trends and Nightlife

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