Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Back to Cordings

In case it wasn't sufficiently apparent from my post about shooting breeks, I've rather fallen in love with Cordings, the 175 year old country outfitters on Piccadilly, which is half-owned by Eric Clapton. It really is the most amazing environment; wood-panelled walls just visible between the rows of different tweeds, and staff in country ties and v-neck jumpers floating around taking customers under their wing for as long as necessary to help them make a purchase decision, whether it's a five-piece shooting rig or just a new pair of socks.

What I really love about it, though, is that while it sells beautiful and very traditional clothing, it is quite sincerely a practical country and sporting shop with as much of a focus on quality and hard-wearing construction as any modern store selling fleeces and polyamide jackets. That's part of the joy of any really great suit - being fit-for-purpose doesn't preclude being beautiful, and flawless construction contributes to flawless appearance.

There's no better example than my new Cordings jacket in their house check tweed. It's a beautiful, heavy but fairly smooth tweed in a classic olive green with light blue and turquoise stripes. As befits a country jacket, it's three button with a single vent, and has the attractive and traditional Cordings cut: generous but with a nice shape to the waist and an elegant roll to the collar.

It has an extra row of stitching around the whole edge of the jacket; a touch that is commonly appropriated for purely stylistic reasons, and is undeniably very stylish, but which also strengthens the jacket and makes it more resilient to damage when worn in rough countryside.

There are a few other nice features like working cuffs, which are unusual on an off-the-peg jacket (it was something of a disappointment to me that my off-the-peg Gieves and Hawkes blazer doesn't have working cuffs) and, while arguably more symbolic than truly useful, are a sign of the care and attention that is put into each jacket.

It is, of course, available as part of a three-piece suit (and multiple other pieces, like a shooting waistcoat, a field coat, breeks and I think a cap). I don't (yet...) have any of these, but I'm a big fan of a tweed jacket worn with cords or chinos. Blue works well, particularly if the tweed has a blue overcheck, but bottle green works as well, as do the Sloaney standbys of red or mustard. I favour shirts that are casual but not too aggressively 'country'. That's a fine balance that may only make sense in my head, but by which I mean that blue checked is good, green and brown check is probably a step too far. Tie-wise, a subtly country tie like the one pictured above is obviously appropriate, but a club tie or softer paisley could work fine. The main thing is to avoid a city power-tie, but then I'd probably give that advice whatever you were wearing...

An outfit like that is well-suited to smarter weekend events or, for those unfortunates like me who work in a field where suits are almost unheard of, informal client meetings and casual lunches. The full suit might be more of a challenge in the city unless you particularly want to cultivate the impression that you have merely deigned to visit London for a few hours and will shortly be returning to your shooting estate. And that's fine if you do (or actually are).

Note: The jacket in this article was provided by Cordings for review. No payment has been made for this post, and acceptance of items for review does not guarantee positive coverage.