bowlerhoundstoothcoat

Reading a book review today was a very good idea. It triggered a thought on which to blog. I had a great idea as I was shaving and by the time I was splashing my face with cold water I forgot what it was. I was at a loss. Much the same as the author of that book which Mr. Compton reviewed. He (the author) laments the passing of English country life, and I imagine, the clothing that a certain segment of society would require in those Country House party settings. (I have yet to read the book. I may be speaking out of turn.)

I spent the last hour of the morning at my tailors, down the street. As the shop is so close to me, I chose to walk. It was a brisk 20ºF by 10:45 am, but that didn’t worry me. A few years ago I came across the coat pictured in a vintage store. It was made in May of 1958 by Sandon & Co. Ltd. of Savile Row, London and has a red tartan horse’s blanket of a lining. I imagine the cloth is at least 28 ounces. It practically stands up on its own and weighs in at about 20 lbs. . It keeps me very warm — sort of like carrying a sandfilled rucksack uphill for a mile. Besides, I am wearing cashmere socks, a flannel suit and silk long underwear.

Well, the cold called for a hat and scarf and the coat called for a bowler. It just looked right compared with my other choices. Probably because the bowler, or derby or Coke is a descendant of the hat worn while riding, which is a country-enough sort of pursuit. The coat isn’t really a city coat. I think it’s a spectator’s garment. It would take the sting out of standing on the sidelines. (The scarf was inspired by this pairing at the bottom of the post.)

All very fine, except that taken separately each of the articles of outerwear is difficult enough to pull off (with the possible exception of the scarf which is not as jarring when worn with a solid coat — which it never is by me.) Worn together, they are anachronistic. Especially if one is not a renowned artist, dandy, or both.

But consider that age-old question: if the dandy meets the savage in the forest, who is the more ridiculously dressed? I am very out-of-place in my neighborhood.

Today’s “fashion” encompasses classic American work wear. Young men wear ridiculously unkempt beards and unpolished boots with buffalo plaid wool overshirts and those hunter’s caps with the earflaps. All very Elmer Fudd’s eccentric nephew if you ask me. It is a sort of “Portrait of Holden Caufield” instead of Dorian Gray. Grown out instead of grown up? (Interesting as the Bright Young People of the years between the wars were clean shaven and sharply tailored in revolt against the customs of their Victorian fathers. Theirs’ was a “young” look.)

I see the current fashion as a revolt against the “metrosexual” marketing nonsense. Manly is in again. Tough times call for tough hombres. And frankly, I bet it takes much less effort. No boot polishing. No pressing or drycleaning bills. No shaving. No art, but just as much artifice.

Which invites the question: if you’re going to dress up, why not dress well? That may preclude my ensemble as seen above; but grant me that it is anything but thoughtless.

Mahatma Gandhi once wrote: “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the atomic age — as in being able to remake ourselves.”

Fashions will change. But I doubt that I will see a return to the styles of the past which I so revere. “21” has just dropped its requirement that men wear ties to be admitted. Time to update and still try to cut a more elegant figure. I’ve just commissioned a pair of flat front flannel trousers. They are in a slimmer silhouette.

Thus endeth the screed.

(P.S. Sorry for the delay. I was on a free video Skype call with friends in Madrid. Does everyone know about this? Marvelous.)

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