How not to dress like Michael Portillo

3 minutes read

As a designer and tailor I am frequently asked about my thoughts on certain celebrities sense of style (Or distinct lack of) For example: ‘Alex! Have you seen Sunak’s cool suits and how comes he looks so great in a simple grey, sweater?’, What do you think of Whitty’s appalling, grey suits.’…. You get the idea. So, when I was asked about Michael Portillo’s wardrobe choices in the ‘Portillo’s Empire Journey’ and whether I thought his clothes were cool or just plain hideous. Here were my honest thoughts…

There’s no doubt about it, Michael Portillo’s dress sense is bright! Like, really bright. A clash of bright orange and vibrant blues that would have you thinking you’d walked into a children’s play barn by mistake. Where he narrowly avoids the risk of being mistaken for a rep at Pontins by the skin of his teeth, there’s a few elements that don’t quite make his clothes work as well as they could.

You could say that the main point is that he’s happy wearing them, otherwise it’s likely that he would be refusing to wear them. After all he’s not a veteran starting out, wishing to please. So, is it a case of being older and him saying: ‘I love it, so why not.’ Or that he believes they suit him.

I take a look at his style and offer my views:

Let’s take a look at the orange and blue combination as pictured. One bright colour here would be fine if cut beautifully, in an expensive fabric paired with a contrasting shirt would work better and make this look chic and ‘expensive’. Instead, the fabric looks lacklustre and fits pretty badly. This is what can really make or break a look. One thing particularly with age, is that clothes must fit beautifully or your look start to look very messy and like a desperate measure to be the twenty year old of yonder years.

A softer, burnt orange alternative would have been a more flattering choice. A subtle, softer choice of colour can improve your image leaps and bounds.


I think it’s safe to say that Michael Portillo’s clothes walk in before he does. The point of clothing is that you are in harmony with your clothes, that they compliment you, your personality and your natural style do not say ‘Hey, I’m down with the kids, I wear bright stuff!’

If clothing was a pop art movement, then Portillo would be conquering this with aplomb.

Do we want our clothes to enter the room before we do is the question? I would suggest not. That it’s a balancing act. You and your attire should be in unity with one another. And rather than having gasps of wow – What on Earth is he wearing- It’s a wow! Now he looks good!!

Fit is an essential element to a successful outfit. I’m always talking about the importance of fit; where the shoulders must sit at a perfect right angle and hug the edge of them, not strangle nor hang off. There are other key elements, such as the jacket being the exact right length to flatter you. The aim is to look great and that can sometimes come with some mental changes around what you may have been used to.

Shape along with the fit of your clothing is equally important, as there are a few cunning changes we make that really takes your image to another level. Forget shapeless, this is having curves in all the right places… A secret that is key to the Alexandra Wood design that we’ve become well known for. It’s something that can be hard to explain, but something that our customers know all about. To get a flattering shape it doesn’t mean tightly fitted.

Texture vs smooth and plain can make your look more interesting and luxurious. Adding a herringbone coat with a plain merino wool sweater can make for a really great and really very effortless look. The fabrics chosen by Michael Portillo are all very flat, making the overall appearance lacklustre and a little ‘cheap’ looking.

Colour I’m always encouraging men to wear and experiment with more colour but Michael Portillo’s look may be an explosion in the paint factory too far! It’s the subtlety that’s key. Where one man may look fantastic in a rich, olive green, the man next to him may look more preferable in a shade of sage. One shade can really make all the difference and this is what I take into consideration with every customer.

If you’d like to make the right impact with your image and would like a timeless, yet modernised design and style created exclusively for you, you can contact us.

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