Today Nadine discusses her ideal Outfit of the Day.
The clothing in the images above exemplify my ideal style, and while I normally wear jeans and Doc Marten boots when the weather turns chilly, every fall I become insanely excited for the idea of tweed skirts and Edwardian-esque shoes. Grey, cold weather inevitably reminds me of England, and England plays the leading role in my fashion preferences.
My English countryside style developed when I was in high school. As a fan of British comedy, I became absorbed in Jeeves and Wooster, the BBC series that was based on the books by P.G. Wodehouse. Many of the stories take place at ancient country estates and poke fun at the antics of their upper class inhabitants. The costumes for the series are the epitome of countryside fashion of the 1920s and ‘30s. Another source of inspiration were the photographs in Andrew Morton’s book Diana: Her True Story, which I read right after Diana’s death in 1997. Diana and her siblings grew up in stately manors and played in gardens and fields wearing pea coats, heavy wool sweaters, and Wellington boots. Their clothing was traditional and practical. To protect against the rain and cold, tweed, wool, and Wellies are necessities. I think this is partly why I love everything about this style: it is dictated by the weather.
As a New Englander, I can tell you that being warm and dry is often more important than being fashionable. That is why with classic, well-made pieces, you can look sharp and be comfortable. Trends and disposable fashion be damned. If you invest in quality items whose look hasn’t changed in the last 100 years, you can be certain you’re going to look good for many years to come. Sadly, it is becoming more difficult to find high quality clothing. Even if the price suggests it’s going to last forever, the Made in China tag tells the truth. It’s so unfortunate.
Now let’s have a look at what’s in those photos above. The grey cardigan was a recent purchase from L.L. Bean. Grey is my all-time favorite color, and I always prefer cardigans to sweaters for some reason. The ruffled shirt underneath, a sort of Edwardian/Lady Diana Spencer blouse, I got on sale at J. Crew a few years ago. The tweedy skirt is about eight years old now, and from the Gap. Since I hardly wear it it’s in excellent shape. The gigantic bag and the scarf are both from L.L. Bean. This bag is absolutely huge, and it was exactly what I wanted: extremely simple in style, but seemingly tough enough to handle all the things I put in it. The scarf was actually made in Ireland, which is awesome. The shoes were a recent purchase from Clarks. I chose brown over black for these because I absolutely love how a warm brown contrasts with charcoal grey (a very common color in my wardrobe). Clarks is a brand that used to have really excellent quality products. Their shoes still look great, but I can’t help but expect them to fall apart in a couple years.
And speaking of quality and expectations, those rain boots are L.L. Bean Wellies. I seriously contemplated getting Hunter boots, but when I saw they were made in China, I decided to get the L.L. Bean version, which are also made in China, but cost about half as much as the Hunters. Brand names mean nothing when the products are all made in the same place. Finally, there is the navy pea coat with teal lining, made by Sterlingwear of Boston. And guess what? It was custom made for me, in the United States. Sterlingwear makes coats for the military, and they have a couple of retail stores where you can buy coats off the rack, or order a coat with a particular lining color. I’ve had this coat for two years now, and it’s still looking good. If you want a carefully crafted coat, as well as excellent customer service, check out Sterlingwear of Boston.
It is appropriate, of course, that a company located in Boston would be making wool coats here in the States. New England weather and English weather do have some things in common. Growing up in rural New England made me long for what to me was a more exotic version of my surroundings. I immersed myself in images of country estates, whose lords and ladies gallivanted with sheep in the fields and then came in out of the rain for afternoon tea. These images still appeal to me, and since it seems unlikely that I’ll ever spend much time in a manor house, I can at least look like I’d fit in there. And you bet that when it rains in the fall, I put on my Wellies and go for a walk.