Back in the good old days you knew your farmer from your city gent simply by the cut of their clothes. Everything was easy, the styles were as different as black and white. But it seems that the country style has been slowly infiltrating the London high street with many of us city slickers realising that our country cousins look pretty fashionable.
The City Style
Dress shirts, briefcases, and slim fit suits – you’re hardly likely to find a use for these whilst down on the farm, so it comes as no surprise that these items are synonymous with the city businessman. It’s been a long standing tradition that a truly British gent will have his office attire and evening wear tailor-made in one of Savile Row’s finest establishments. This lead to urban dwellers having a specific look that many tailors up and down the country sought to emulate.
The Country Style
We could spend all day listing farm or country wear that just doesn’t cut it in the big smoke, the list is literally endless. From wellingtons to oversized raingear, there’s a certain functionality about country wear that has to be admired. You won’t find residents of the countryside getting caught up in colour coding issues. A jacket in the countryside is designed to keep the weather out, and looking good is a rather fortunate side effect.
The Grey Area
This is where it all gets murky so let’s start with the material that screams countryside over any other – tweed.
Tweed was originally an easy way of identifying anyone who worked or lived on an estate regardless of family ties. The designs were numerous but the quality was uniform. At its heart it was a rugged material that was intended to wear well and protect you from the elements. Once a symbol of association, it’s now become a symbol of style in men’s casual wear and has gradually become a popular choice in men’s suits and casual jackets.
The Flat Cap evokes images of farmer John chewing a piece of straw and worrying about the weather, but it seems that of late it puts more people in mind of celebrity cap wearers such as Daniel Craig and TM Style Cup winner Michael Fassbender . This is one of those trends that I’m sure style gurus with the most impressive of clairvoyant powers would never have predicted. It’s quite a few years since the flat cap made its initial foray onto the London high street, and there’s no indication that this was a flash in the pan fad. The flat cap is here to stay.
The Check shirt is another typically country piece of work wear that has become all about the look and less about the wear. Men’s shirts in the country, like all other active wear have always been made for durability but the city version’s functionality is completely at odds with its rural counterpart. Even so, there’s no denying where the style and design first originated. Quite unsurprisingly they have ousted white shirts as the most popular of casual shirts in the city.
So are you a purebred city hound or a farmer boy? Or do you dip your toes into the grey waters of the suburbs and don’t really know what you are? Whatever you are, one thing is certain, long gone are the days of city folk looking down on the country style with disdain. Nowadays you’re more likely to find city chaps imitating their rural peers, and adding flat caps to their London collection.
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