Look Book

 This handsome binder contains all manner of notes, from the sensible (versatile topcoats) to the humiliating (shorts).

This handsome binder contains all manner of notes, from the sensible (versatile topcoats) to the humiliating (shorts).

    For at least a week, my daughter will not tolerate socks following a summer of sandals and canvas slip-ons, nor will she suffer short-sleeved pajamas when visiting the tropics in the midst of winter.  I can commiserate: there is something particularly unpleasant about putting one’s layered traveling clothes on following a holiday in the sun, and I always feel half naked the first day I step outside in shirtsleeves alone. 

    And yet one of the great pleasures in cultivating a wardrobe is dressing correctly for the weather, and by extension, seasonality.  Nothing quite gets me studying extended forecasts like the prospect of that first brisk day when tweed can be worn.  The same goes for summer, when a breezy 70 is good enough for most linen enthusiasts.  But this principle works in reverse too.  I can barely stand the sight of even my favorite knits come March.  In fact I protest those straggling, unseasonably cold days by reducing my outer-wear rotation to a single uninsulated Barbour from the Ides on, weather be damned.  And come September, suddenly self-conscious of exposed ankles, I have more than once run home to put on socks.

    For the clothing enthusiast, timing is crucial.   A cynic might suggest vanity as the reason, but I suspect a fear of appearing uninformed is also at play.  Of course only someone with similar interests would ever possibly notice that a tweed is worn too early or a linen too late.  Nevertheless, one of the more satisfying moments for an enthusiast is when a purpose-built garment is poised for a seasonal event and its deployment confirms the genius behind its creation.  The challenge is that great ideas for future garments are always forged during the season, and if not commissioned right away for the following year, must wait, a twinkle in the eye, until the opposite season.  In plainer terms: it’s easy to forget what is needed when the weather isn’t cooperating.

    I recommend keeping a journal.  So clear can an idea be during a warm alfresco dinner, or a chilly autumn walk, that I can crisply picture the finished article right down to the buttons.  But if I haven’t made any notes, the proposal seems grown over with vegetation and indistinct by the time seasonal orders should be placed.  Consulting notes has another benefit: they serve as a litmus.  Has your practical tweed cape idea lost some of its brilliance since last winter?  Do unlined ivory suede oxfords seem less important these days?  

    In the wrong hands, this sort of record might prove embarrassing, particularly if, like me, you are given to detail.  But detail is what is needed, so you must either gird yourself for the humiliation or find a good hiding place.  Those near to me already know of (but perhaps don’t understand) my curious interests, so I scribble without fear of exposure.  At the moment I have several good ideas aging in my notes, and this being an open and forgiving forum, I have bravely transcribed them below.  I would be flattered to hear from my readers.

 1)  Double breasted (light) tweed odd jacket in navy with grey windowpane (or reverse).  Possibly with patch pockets and in four-button-two configuration.  Possibly weird buttons.  

 2)  Mahogany (or other reddish brown) pebble-grain derbies in two- or three- eyelet configuration.  Plain toe—possibly squarish.  Double soles?  Natural edge?

 3)  Overcoat of heavy grey herringbone, the wider/bolder the better.  Single or double breasted?  Generous cuffs, and large, convertible collar.

 The collection of swatches is inevitable.  Candidates for the herringbone overcoat and double-breasted tweed projects can be seen to the left and right.  

The collection of swatches is inevitable.  Candidates for the herringbone overcoat and double-breasted tweed projects can be seen to the left and right.