Don’t worry, they’re not brown paper parcels tied up with string, but jackets and monks and ties and hanks. A friend asked me recently what were the items of clothing I most treasured, that had served me well and grown better with age. So here are a few.
1. Edward Green Oundles
For those not that familiar with the Edward Green oeuvre (shame on you), the Oundle is a monk-strap shoe with a distinctive swept-back strap, creating a very clean and sharp front to the toe. They’re on the 888 last, so elongated with a square finish. And in a mid-brown that has darkened and antiqued with age. To the extent that I’m not really sure whether the patches down the sides are old salt stains or just a build-up of polish. To the extent that every step and crease of the vamp seems to leave a shadow on the upper – an echo of a movement repeated thousands of times before. They were my first pair of really good shoes, were refurbished recently by Edward Green in Northampton and now look as good as new. Except, of course, that the personal patina on the outside and toes’ imprint on the inside mean they could only be mine and are far from new.
2. Anderson & Sheppard glen check
A more recent acquisition, this three-piece suit is just perfect. I’ve bought two expensive glen check suits before, and had one made in Hong Kong, and none of them were quite right – too strong an overcheck or too much contrast in the base check. And of course this one fits wonderfully. I’ve seen how it was made, I know what’s under the lining, and it makes it that much more special. An absolute classic, all mine and, sometime down the line, possibly even my son’s.
3. Reiss knitted tie
Not exactly a high-end purchase this one, but then there’s not much to knitted ties. Unless you want them with cashmere in the mix, the quality is similar anywhere. You wouldn’t want one knitted by hand. And the thing about this tie is the colour and texture – indescribably useful. So of course I’m going to try and describe it: a blend of purple, black and I think a very-dark brown; the cloth it’s woven from means that it is the perfect accompaniment to absolutely any outfit. When you just need a neutral (yet sophisticated) background , when navy doesn’t seem to work, this tie will always see you through. Admittedly, it’s now a little frayed at the edges and I wouldn’t wear it to an evening’s soiree. But it’s my universal, never-dying default.
4. Turnbull & Asser white shirt
Everyone goes on about the perfect white shirt. Or is that just women? Anyway, this was my first bespoke shirt made by Turnbull & Asser, the collar is a little higher than usual without swallowing my neck, the cloth is silky and the fit is perfect. It’s got softer over time but never looked less sharp. Sharp yet soft: perfect.
5. Loro Piana brown leather jacket
I don’t invest in casual clothing that often, but when I do I really try to find classic things that will last. This leather jacket had 70% off but it was still very expensive. A straight, collared jacket with four buttons up the front, it is made of a dark, thick brown leather and lined in a caramel cashmere. Unlike some suits and shoes, it felt aged as soon as I put it on. There are little touches of quality: the back is just two pieces of leather (most long jackets like that would be four, at least if they cared about what leather they were using) and the pockets are lined with cashmere, on both sides of your hands. Details here aren’t just for show. It all feels good and it all works.