The clothes horse gallops further in the cold

The Indian summer is finally over, beaten into submission by biblical rain and thuggish chilly winds.

We can finally say with conviction that our polo shirts, linen blazers, and unflattering shorts are to be consigned to do battle with the moths; our sunglasses will collect dust on the mantelpiece and our dazzling espadrilles rested to fight another hot day. Sadly Pimm’s will not be drunk until we next hear leather on willow.

Some will hunker down, depressed because it is going to get cold! But I find autumn most agreeable. I may be a great patron of the summer season and all the frivolous joys it brings, but the autumn brings delicious solemnity, erudition, and more interesting gentleman’s fashion.

I always choose to wear a shirt even when temperature and the situation dictate the contrary. In winter a shirt becomes functional, the sleeves leaving the wearer as snug as a bug. Twinned with any decent woolen V-neck jumper – and I don’t mean ghastly ironic knitwear – it most certainly puts the smart into casual.

The sartorial choice for formal occasions is much simpler in autumn and winter; a classic grey suit, perhaps three piece, will be enlivened by a paisley pocket square. Much more photogenic than a gaudy summer blue!

Given my predilection for coloured chinos, you can only imagine my delight at the first tumble of an auburn leaf – I recently acquired a pair of racing green delights and I’m keeping my eyes sharply peeled for a pair of mustards, hopefully in time for the ‘Tingle Creek’ Chase at Sandown in December.

Icy winds that skate on the Thames bring scarves into play. I rely on simple, mainly monochrome, timeless woolen jobs (though every collection must include a tartan and the ever elegant paisley silk).

Hats obviously now become vital. They attract fewer incredulous stares because they now have a real function – what a joy it is to be hidden from rain under a wide brimmed fedora, whilst others flail under cheap plastic brollies. I need no invitation to slap a flat cap onto my bonce.

Winter jackets are the clothing royalty for this time of year; urbane grey overcoats and dusty Barbour jackets join the rotation, keeping the gent both warm and devilishly debonair. There is also an allocation of 10 days when it is acceptable for us to tart around in our Burberry Mac. Overcoats entomb solid blazers and wild waistcoats. 

The only stone in the snow is what happens to my vast array of suede shoes. I shall never forget what happened to a particular favourite pair of chukka boots – they ended up with unsightly white marks, like the saddle sweat of a race horse. I find penny loafers chill the toe and soak the sock, whilst coloured brogues look incongruous without their respective suits. This year my quest for winter shoes leads me to either a chelsea boot or a tan oxford. I wish myself luck! 

So, I do not share the collective frown brought on by the weather forecasters. Content from head to toe, I shall yank my collar up high and pull my brim down low. I will pop a jacket potato in the oven and stroll along the river to Barnes. Feeling warm, I may well then indulge in another winter treat – a pint of majestic British ale…or perhaps two.


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