Winter. That season of bitter cold and purple red wine, roaring fires and tots of whisky. Is anything better? ‘Summer’ I hear a good number of my loyal readers cry out, ‘Summer!’ they cry with a hot water bottle tucked under their jumper and a hot cup of Bovril to their lips. To which I reply, ‘Wrong! I may respect you as a human being and shower you with sartorial wisdom every week, but on this topic, you sir, are wrong sir.’
Yes, there are some subjects on which people are plain wrong. Summer is pleasant, don’t misunderstand me. I know all about the delights of bathing in a toast-warm mediterranean, or lounging with a gin and tonic in the garden of some hostelry. But the summer reduces the need for clothing, and renders much of the population unable to discern between something that should never be worn even in private and acceptable dress for the city. What people wear in the countryside during the summer I dread to consider, but in the town it is there, shoved in your face like a three-day old kipper that was already off when it was caught.
No, for these and many more reasons the best season of the year is winter. Sartorially it allows for the most exciting developments in menswear that will be seen in many a twelve-month. It is in winter when the elegance of the male is allowed to make an appearance with all the pomp and circumstance of a state funeral for a much-unloved monarch. The coating chosen to repel the coldest winds allows for the display of the most beautiful wools and cashmeres, beyond anything that is seen for the rest of the year. I bring to your well-groomed ears the first dictum of the year. A gentleman never wears manmade fibres.
There is but one exception, viz. the allowance of a small amount of elasticity in the sock. This is allowed as the difficulty in purchasing sock suspenders has rendered the elasticated sock a necessity. For years I advocated the sock suspender and railed against the unremitting rise of the elasticated stocking in the realms of men’s wear. Certainly it may be admitted into the wardrobe of even the most discerning woman. They after all have very different needs when it comes to elastication. But for the gentleman I felt – and to an extent do still feel – that the sock suspender is the only way forward. If it was good enough for Abraham Lincoln, etc, etc.
However it was brought to my attention that the purchase of a pair of quality sock suspenders rather than being merely difficult, is now almost impossible. With the general degeneracy of the population the manufacturers of these items of male necessity have been forced first underground and then to bankruptcy. Skills that have been passed from father to son for generations uncounted are now lost.
Even the best of well-dressed men must now accept that the wearing of the elasticated sock is an allowable faux pas. Indeed, so allowable has it become that it is not even, in these difficult times for gentlemen’s fashion regarded as a faux pas at all.
If shivers are racing up your spine you are not alone.