A Load of Old Flannel
As I furnish one of my customers with a hot toddy, courtesy of our hosts at the Hoxton Hotel, I am made acutely aware that we are knocking on the door of winter‘s discontent: and no one is more discontented than our British summer, who, until hurricane Bertha swept through the nation, I was convinced was set to become an Indian summer!
Not that I’m complaining, on the contrary. Without wanting to sound like a curmudgeon, though I fear that I will, I must confess that I seldom enjoy the scorching hot summer days that we enjoyed this summer. You see, I am of the volition that, summer, and, ergo, sunshine, are best enjoyed poolside and not walking to one’s studio, getting increasingly hotter with every stride, eventually lighting up like a bulb upon arrival at one’s destination when the air cooling ceases. Of course, there are of course pursuits which are best enjoyed when the weather is fine, for example bicycle rides from Bristol to Bath along the old railway. However, with the arrival of Rubin Sonny at the beginning of Summer, I’ve failed to embark upon a single excursion thus far!
But enough of how little I was able to make use of my tailored linen shorts this summer (or indeed, Speedos): we must now turn our attentions to the inclement weather we face, and the greatest winter warmer of all: flannel!
Given the centrally heated environment which we now live in, a good 11 – 13oz English worsted wool suit would probably see you straight; and there’s a lot to choose from, of varying weaves and handles, colours and patterns.
However, flannel, which is probably the most traditional English cloth that ever was, with perhaps the exception of tweed, has been a wardrobe staple for generations. Just consider, if you will, the chalk stripes of Sir Winston Churchill, the double breasted navy blue suits of Bristol’s own Cary Grant and the dancing pants of Fred Astaire; all flannel, all English made – these particular cloth were all produced by Fox Flannel in Somerset. Brown in Town also offer flannels from Harrisons of Edinburgh, Holland and Sherry and W. Bill.
And testament to this suiting stalwart is the fact that, without question, if ever a groom commissions me to make him a traditional, or indeed a vintage (very popular with grooms these days) looking suit, it will, almost without question, be a three piece suit made of flannel. In fairness, we probably receive as many commissions for wedding suits made of tweed, but grooms are often deterred by tweeds autumnal colours, or herringbone patterns, or indeed it’s course nature or indeed weight and instead opt for flannel.
Now, it is a fact that you will not wear a more comfortable suit than one made of flannel – the process of ‘roughing’ the surface until it’s nap is raised and it’s ‘handle’ soft to the touch – which gives the wearer the feeling of being ensconced in a soft, comforting, woollen blanket. And if the weight of the typical English flannel cloth i.e. upwards of 13oz is of concern, I encourage you to feel the handle of our Loro Piana and Vitale Barberis flannels from Italy, which is a lighter weight 9oz, and incredibly soft to the touch.
But if you hanker after a bit of English tradition, and you, perhaps, like, or, moreover, long, to dress like your sartorial heroes, or emanate the sartorial style of your forefathers, or just want to walk to work in sub zero temperatures feeling like you are wearing your duvet, look no further than flannel.
And so, without further ado, may I introduce you to the stiff upper lip of British sartoria, albeit a lip that has just been daubed with lip balm; the flannel suit!