The British country look
is a perennial menswear fashion
favourite, from the British Royal family to the catwalks of New York, Milan,
London and more. It has been said it is a natural product of the country’s
climate, combining practical wear with classic elegance.
The Royal Family have long been credited with popularising the look;
The Queen (or her stylists) is an icon who has inspired designers with tartan,
paisley and traditional knits year after year. The younger Royals also continue
to attract the attention of the design world, which pays close scrutiny to each
new outfit as it is seen in public. The
contemporary fashion twist on
the look itself includes accessories as well as larger items of clothing. From
scarves to cufflinks, from silk handkerchiefs to traditional cravats, its influence is
unmistakeable in major cities. The style influence is as much in evidence in
smart bars and cafes as in quiet village pubs.
Traditional fabrics are a key starting point for the British country look as a measure of
luxury and quality a world away from cheaper synthetics. Silk, tweed, wool, jacquard and
twill all have a certain texture and weight against the skin. It’s a nod back
to the days when standards were typically far higher, without so much machine
finishing and corners cut on raw materials.
For menswear in
particular, designs tend to veer towards nostalgia or timeless themes,
reflecting the animals and past-times of rural living; birds, foxes, pheasants,
rabbits and ducks all reflect a history of country sports. In the modern age,
the wearer may be more interested in photographing nature than taking part in
hunting, but nonetheless, the motifs remain the same.
As far as patterns are concerned, you’ll find all these animals and
more in elegant prints, alongside gingham, dogtooth (and variations of it),
block stripes, tartan, paisley, diamonds and dots. Colours range from muted
autumnal hues to brights like a sunburst yellow tie to brighten up a smart
casual weekend outfit.
Patterned silk handkerchiefs can work wonders for a
whole range of popular menswear options. Teamed with favourite denim and a
crisp white shirt the look is certainly dapper yet still suitably relaxed. As a splash of colour on a darker formal suit,
it provides the finishing touch for the perfect wedding guest. A smart
handkerchief blends well into a business suit, to provide a suitably subtle
colour contrast. Rendered in striking enamelware, cufflinks can inject a touch
of class into an outfit for a social occasion, not to mention providing a
superb talking point to help break the ice.
High quality and attention to detail means this is probably never
going to be a viable option for a ‘pile them high, sell them cheap’ fast fashion look. And this probably
explains the enduring popularity of the British
country look: it creates an instant impression of greater discernment.
At the same time, warm materials such as wool and jacquard
are ideal for keeping out the chills: the perfect year round choice for the changeable
Guy West writes about menswear
and works for Moodys Worldwide, a leading online heritage styling accessories store.
Text Copyright Guy West, posted by Permission.