‘Never Brown in Town’ goes the golden sartorial rule, but as we all know, ‘Town’ only refers to London, leaving vast swathes of the country, and indeed other countries, in which to wear the clothing of the country is entirely appropriate. If there is not at least one garment made of tweed in your outfit, then you are not dressed for the country. Tweed, especially Harris Tweed, has protective qualities that will serve you while striding through the bracken, picking blackberries on the greensward or even while navigating the tides of nylon that swarm past us in every town and village in the western world. We offer a selection of suitable claddings for the chap who is definitely not visiting the capital.
When it comes to shodding your feet, the first choice is naturally the brogue, specifically designed to allow bog-water to seep out of the perforations on the upper The Loake Badminton is a chunky Northampton-made brogue available from The Brogue Trader, while Herring Shoes offers a bewildering variety of brogues and brogue boots from all the major Northampton brands, and they often have them in their sale range.
For something a little sturdier than a brogue, for the rough terrain of the Veldt or the cobbled streets of Yorkshire villages, the Rannoch Veldtschoen Boot from Fife Country retails at £299, a sound investment for a pair of country boots that will last you many a country ramble, and won’t let the sartorial standards down when you set foot in a decent hostelry.
From a collection of traditional country shirts by Brocklehursts, named after their home town of Bakewell, this Bakewell Windowpane Check Shirt (£69.95) is a classic Tattersal Shirt made from soft cotton with a classic collar, which can be worn with a tie or cravat.
Snugness and warmth around the ribs is an essential element when dressing for the greensward. Both moleskin waistcoat and Fair Isle sleeveless sweater will do the job. For the pricier but highest quality waistcoat, look no further than the experts in country clothing Cordings of Piccadilly, who will furnish you with a Lovat Earl Moleskin Waistcoat for £125. Head over to Peter Christian for the pictured one priced at £75, or Savvy Row for the vintage version at around £60.
FAIR ISLE SWEATER
The Fisherman F02 Foyle (£139) by Original Blues is the most authentic example of a traditional Fair Isle Sweater, made from 100% Donegal Yarn. They also make the long-sleeved version popularised by the Duke of Windsor, though these may be a tad snug around the armpits under a tweed jacket.
The most important element of one’s country wardrobe is of course the tweed two or three-piece suit. For the less formal look of the country, a two-piece is preferable, with a plain moleskin waistcoat in a contrasting colour, or perhaps a Fair Isle sleeveless jumper. Walker Slater of Edinburgh is the most reliable source, with the broadest selection – pictured here is their Findhorn Tweed Jacket at £320. You can often find Walker Slater vintage items at Savvy Row for half that price or even less, along with many tweed jackets from other makers, and also at Tweedmans.
Perhaps you want to go the whole hog and wear breeches with your tweed jacket and moleskin waistcoat, and this is an excellent decision. AKA Breeks, knickerbockers, plus twos (with a two-inch fold just below the knee) or plus fours (with a four-inch fold over the knee) add an extra dash to one’s outfit and the best ones are made by Cordings of Piccadilly, but you can also find more affordable ones at That British Tweed Company and second-hand breeks at the aforementioned vintage outlets. Don’t forget the shooting socks, available from Alan Paine.
On a really blustery day, you may decide to don a heavy sweater rather than a shirt and tie, and that is entirely acceptable. For the sweater that truly cuts the sartorial mustard, you’ll need something like the Redstone Men’s English Explorer Roll Neck Jumper from Alan Paine. All Alan Paine knitwear is fully fashioned, meaning that each garment is knitted to shape on the knitting machine and then finished by hand, rather than being cut and sewn.
For that Richard Hannay 39 Steps look, as you tramp across the Scottish Highlands being pursued by enemy biplanes, you’ll need a sturdy overcoat, especially when it becomes your blanket at night under the heather. Belted is always preferable and the vintage garment may be found at Savvy Row. For the long-term investor in a heritage item that will last a lifetime, SEH Kelly makes the Tielocken in woollen Bedford cord, unique in two ways: it has no buttons at all, but fastens with only a belt, and the front shoulder has an inset sleeve fitting, while at the rear is a Raglan sleeve, essential for ease of movement and if wearing a jacket underneath. For the full Raglan Sleeve overcoat, Walker Slater makes the Sherlock Overcoat in Tan Herringbone Harris Tweed at £395.
Let us not lower our standards, despite striking out into isolated pastures. One may encounter a vicar, a police constable or even a lady when out on the moors, and correct neckwear will make all the difference to one’s appearance. There are three choices: Madras (a check pattern originating in the Indian city now called Chennai); silk with animal motifs, or just plain wool (the better choice). This Pure Wool Tie from Curzon Classics, a Spanish company making British-style clothing, will set you back just under £30, while the best affordable source for the elusive Madras Tie is Messrs E. Bay & Co.
Country headwear presents only two choices: flat cap or baker boy cap, depending on whether you are chums with the laird or the gamekeeper. Sussex Tweed makes the sturdiest ones, like this Windover in heavyweight thornproof Tweed, with a leather inside band and silk lining at £75. More modestly priced Harris Tweed flat caps are available direct from the Isle of Harris at £35.
When it comes to undergarments, the quest for period authenticity knows no bounds. The gentleman seeking to clothe his nether regions in what Richard Hannay would have worn need look no further than Fogey Unlimited, whose tripartite range of gentlemen’s boxer shorts is made from the finest 100% cotton shirting fabric, pleated at front and rear with a ‘French Back’, with adjustable strap and two-button design. They are available in five designs and are a snip at £39.99.