As summer comes to a close, I think ahead to the heavier clothing that will be keeping me warm this winter. One piece I’m especially looking forward to having is a country jacket in the fabric shown above (photo courtesy of StyleForum member A Y). I decided I wanted some of this fabric before I even knew what I’d do with it. For a while I contemplated what would have been an absurdly luxurious dressing gown, but in the end decided on the coat that I will describe to you now.
It will be a rustic (yes, Will, rustic) jacket - flap patch pockets with buttons, gauntlet cuffs, and a half-belt in the back. The part I dithered over was whether to have a bi-swing, or action, back, such as this. This feature was originally designed to allow a country sportsman to raise his rifle to his shoulder more easily. I think it looks nice with the half-belt. But I thought it might be a little silly to have a bi-swing back on a jacket made of cashmere whose wearer is more likely to find himself hunting for a bar than a covey of grouse. I am reminded of the ridiculous Ralph Lauren jackets with a suede shoulder patch, I assume to protect against kickback from opening champagne bottles.
But nearly all the clothing we wear today is directly descended from either military uniforms or country sporting gear. The modern day business suit is the grandchild of the riding coat of the 18th century. The blucher style of shoe is named after the Prussian general who designed it for his troops. Leather jackets designed for riding a motorcycle or flying a fighter jet are now worn by Brooklynites sipping coffee next to someone in a ski jacket. If I insisted on wearing only clothing designed for living within a modern city, my choices would be quite limited.
Maybe the action back has, like tweed garments as a whole, now crossed often enough into other settings as to loosen its connection to hunting and the English countryside. What eventually convinced me was seeing Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo playing a deranged businessman blazing a trail through the Amazon in a white linen suit - with an action back. If it works for ordering around natives in the tropical jungle, I suppose it can work for ordering drinks.
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