There are very few instances in life when one doffs ones cap to Americans. The fat-laden diet, the wearing of slacks at a formal occasions or their over hyped – quite frankly bizarre – sports more often than not leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.
However, with the long evenings and hot days du jour, I often think of dear old JFK.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States and a gentleman with a libido the size of the country he ran, had a wonderful effortless wardrobe. Sure, he cut a dash in his stupendously tailored suits – as most affluent men did in the 60s – but it was his casual wear that I reminisce upon.
The laconic, languid JFK was, of course dear readers, one of that wonderful breed of American who spent his iced-tea-soaked spare time in the Hamptons on a beautiful pea green boat, with some honey and plenty of money.
Although Kennedy was of Catholic of Irish descent his sartorial choices were often aligned with privileged Ivy League WASPs, White Anglo Saxon Protestants. A scion of the great Kennedy family the Harvard graduate’s fashion choices were as preordained as perhaps his education was.
You know the sort of chap – usually going by the name of Skip, Chip or Digby – that seemed to enter the world wearing plaid chinos, weejuns’ penny Loafers, a paisley button-down Oxford shirt and a cable-knit jumper slung around the shoulders to ward off a chill.
Nevertheless, when the sun, and more pertinently, barbecues come round I am inspired by the late great JFK, or Jack as he was known by his nearest and dearest.
To slip seamlessly into his once-presidential shoes one must begin post-shower by raking one’s hair back whilst still wet with a decent quality comb, or using a very light pomade. Perhaps the two together – go wild dear chums!
A watch is essential as there is scant room for accessories on this outfit. I go for my trusty Omega with a leather strap but a striped Nato strap would be just the ticket. A links watch doesn’t quite work and it undeniably un-softens the look.
The rest is as simple as baked yams and clam chowder.
Tailored shorts, which mustn’t be too long or too outrageously short. For those that want to be 100 per cent true to the mode, a hue of khaki or navy blue, but I like a dash of colour to attract the butterflies – perhaps a light fuchsia or canary. I am an Englishmen after all. Add to that a staunch belt and a monochrome polo shirt, most probably a Ralph Lauren, although JFK’s would tend to be brand free.
Whether JFK was to be found in a tailored suit or this desired casual outfit, his tortoise shell sunglasses were an item that Kennedy considered indispensable his image. The dependable sunglasses were Ray-Ban Wayfarers and they are still considered a timeless classic.
The final string to the bow is, of course, a pair of docksiders, or boat shoes as some like to label them. I prefer Timberlands and more often than not in a lovely navy blue.
Once properly dressed one must mix a strong jug of iced tea – although a pitcher of Martini would be equally appropriate – and toddle off to the nearest dock or tennis club, where one can gaze wistfully into the distance.
I can’t promise that this attire will result in a stellar political career or an increased power of seduction. It will, however, leave the wearer looking crisp, casual and unruffled.