Monday, 23 April 2012

Stresemann black lounge morning coat

It is often said that the black lounge morning coat (worn in place of the frock coat or the pleated tailcoat) dates from its adoption by German politician Gustav Stresemann at the signing of the Locarno Pact in 1925 (admitting Germany to the League of Nations). However, a cartoon, by David Low shows Chamberlain (centre) and Stresemann (right) in frock coats, while French representative Aristide Briand (left) is in a morning coat:

Moreover, this photograph, from 1885, shows H Rider Haggard in a black coat and lighter trousers, which were commonly worn before dittoes (matching suits) became all the rage:

Friday, 20 April 2012

Thought for the Day From Max Beerbohm

A fine ground to work upon is the foirst postulate. And the dandy cares for his physical endowments only in so far as they are susceptible of fine results.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Field Magazine

I have a feature in The Field magazine, scheduled for publication on 21 June.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Way You Wear Your Hat

I have never thought that, despite the song and everything else about him, Frank Sinatra had much of a clue about how to wear a hat. I mean, look at this:

It's just kinda sittin' there.

Compare it with these:

Robert Donat.

Jack Buchanan (holding Diana Dors).

Clark Gable (with Vivien Leigh).

Ronald Colman.

Inspiration Amid The Ruins

These ruins of the ancient chapel of the Mohuns (at what is now Hall Farm) in the Parish of Lanteglos-by-Fowey -

 as well as the church itself, in which lie monuments to them -

inspired (if that is the word) the tale that I am now writing. These places really are worth a visit if you are in the area of Fowey and, after all, the place has already inspired better stories than mine..

Monday, 9 April 2012

Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll

Robert Donat as (Richard Hannay) and Madeleine Carroll (as 'Pamela'), hiding under the bridge on the moors, from the fake policemen who have kidnapped them in Hitchcock's 1935 39 Steps. In a little while they will be hiding under a waterfall, which ruined Donat's (own) suit. He made such a fuss about it that Hitchcock ordered another to be made by Hawes & Curtis (Donat's tailors) but with short trousers.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Mr and Mrs Joseph Chamberlain

Today we have a couple of great paintings of Joseph (1836-1914) and Mary Chamberlain, by John Singer Sargent. Joe's picture was painted in 1896 and Mary's in 1902:

Friday, 6 April 2012


``What do you mean by ``You look suspicious``?``

Three Piece Suits

The Victorians called matching trousers and coats `dittoes`. Sometimes the vest matched too but the three piece suit seems to have become frequently adopted relatively late . It is interesting to compare these two Spy cartoons from 1904 and 1905 in which a white vest is sported with a suit in the first instance and a short black coat and cashmere striped trousers in the second. I sometimes wonder why the popularity of short black coats and cashmere stripes waned because, after all, it was possible to mix and match and even easily replace individual items; far more easily than with a three piece set of dittoes.

However, there is no reason why a light vest should not be paired up with a two piece suit or even substituted occasionally for a matching suit vest in a three piece suit.

Cyril Arthur Pearson, 1904, media mogul and founder of The Daily Express.

Major William Eden Evans Gordon, 1905.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Boo Boo Bee Doo

When Cecil Beaton took his famous shots of her

she began by kicking off her shoes and he said that her presence was so strong that he forgot the background and even what she was wearing: none of it mattered.

This presence is something that the fashionistos and style magazines and will never be able to sell to their readers.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Brasil! Brasil!

I think that it was Lord Denning MR who said that the national cricket team which one supports demonstrates national allegiance. I have to say that watching any sport (especially cricket) is to me about as interesting as eating Spam fritters with anything other than hand cut chips and Corona (in its deposit bottles). Therefore I don`t normally support any teams at all and think that modern `sport` is as dead in true sporting spirit as a sack of dead mice. However, come the World Cup, if the Brasilian team does what it should do on its own turf and they strike this one up
and I happen to hear it then I`ll join in because the idea of being associated with Rooney and his chums again stumbling over their own feet fills me with horror.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Robert Donat first saw this film (in which he starred), with his children, in the St Austell Odeon, when they were on holiday in Polperro -

Both the St Austell Odeon cinema and the England represented in the film have long gone.

Easter Eggs

I am not sure whether to believe this or not but the UK Parliament is now (apparently seriously) debating whether, from next year, all seasonal confectionaery must be presented in plain packaging, to lessen its attractriveness and avoid over-indulgence. Presumably the purportedly, legitimate aim of a bankrupt government is to lessen the burden on the NHS of the voluntarily obese. But why should the rest of the population be so patronized. Why not, instead enact provision for the election of village committees to round up all the fatties (watch out Cameron and Clarke!), every Saturday afternoon and have them put in the village stocks for a few hours, encouraging all the village yobos to pelt them with rotten eggs and vegetables!