January 23, 2010

Down Loden; Or Inheriting Tradition

The strong point of the English gentleman pure is the easy style of his figure and clothing; he objects to marked ins and outs in his costume, and he also objects to looking inspired (George Eliot, Daniel Deronda).
These words still have a ring of truth about them, although I am afraid they indicate that there aren’t many gentlemen, English or otherwise, left in the world. Most people succumb to fads, fashions and phases. I’m also rather afraid that the English have unwittingly adapted their manners in accordance with their exposure to American television. English people were not known formerly to whoop. English men did not even scream for the Beatles; now they unleash their girlish falsetto appreciation for passing mediocrities. This by way of an aside. I would rather focus on the positive part of Miss Evans’ observation.

Adhering closely to classic designs, one can build a wardrobe that will hardly date. To borrow an apt aphorism from the sporting world: form is temporary, class is forever. The seasonal highlights of the catwalk are tomorrow’s reason to bury your head in shame. The avant-garde always look silly, ten years later. They do leave behind little bits of elegance that will endure, but it is probably better to be one step behind. Since the classics are always recycled, one can apparently be a trend setter by simply following tradition. Paradoxical? Perhaps, but tradition will (should) always trump the merely temporary tricks of the trade.

Let us also add thrift into the analysis of the English gentleman pure. Classical elegance and quality can be expensive, but they last so long that they afford the possibility of recycling. The best of men have never shunned quality upon the grounds that a thing is used. A thing demonstrates its quality through its age and ought, perhaps, to lead us to be mistrustful of the new (this is partly why I can’t bring myself to read contemporary fiction, but that is for another time). My latest purchase – a rare find indeed – is to the point: an Austrian Loden coat of uncertain vintage. Such a timeless design can fetch a pretty penny in the finest stores. It will last me a long time yet, and was a snip at $40, don’t you think?

More weightily, from a sentimental point of view, Father has promised me his Raymond Weil watch when he passes – we have discussed it without morbidity – and I await my inheritance with infinite patience, but with certainty that I will myself bequeath the object when my time comes. How fitting that such trust can be placed in a time piece. It marks the hours itself without appearing to age. I applauded his taste as a child when he purchased it, and secretly coveted it for many years. It will be passed down laden with meaning, assured to last, and as a token of a permanent bond. Form is temporary, class is forever.


  1. They do leave behind little bits of elegance that will endure, but it is probably better to be one step behind.

    Humm. This sounds a little cautious to me; isn't it just trend-following for the self-conscious?

    On the one hand it probably does make sense to make judgements whilst out of the fray, but on the other it seems.. well, I suppose you aren't saying that it's impossible to be one or two steps ahead at the same time, actually.

  2. Oh - and that is a marvelous coat.

  3. You have understood me perfectly, in the end.
    Thank you for marvelling. It is indeed marvellous.


Related Posts with Thumbnails