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Swellboy on… snow shoes

Our man goes on a wintry journey through his wardrobe

Swellboy on… snow shoes

Image: Brijesh Patel

January 26 2013
Nick Foulkes

I am trying to cultivate a more positive outlook on life, which for me is quite an effort. I am only really kept going by my love of Dr Pangloss. Dr P is one of my favourite literary creations. Indeed, Voltaire’s criminally optimistic philosopher – lampooning the philosophy of Leibniz – is, for me, a comic character on the level of Wilkins Micawber, the spendthrift who lives in perpetual hope of the imminent turning up of something or other that will improve his circumstances. If I remember correctly, Pangloss had a superb catchphrase, greeting each new calamity with words to the effect of “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”.

So, it was in a suitably Panglossian mood that I raised the blinds one morning to see that, in this best of all possible worlds, a mantling whiteness of snow and frost had settled on the expansive  boulevards and noble avenues of my beloved Shepherd’s Bush. My usual reaction would be to rail against the inconvenience of it all and join in the nationwide grumblings that, as always, our country is unprepared, and it being winter one might have expected it to get a bit chilly. After all, it isn’t as though Britain is part of Angola, where a sudden snowfall might be considered out of the ordinary.

But no, instead of seeing a body of inconvenient, treacherous, slippery whiteness, I spotted an opportunity to enlarge my footwear repertoire. It was actually Harry Fane that put me on to it. I sauntered into his chic St James’s showroom and saw the Hon Harry impeccably attired in a chalk-stripe flannel suit, his pied-de-poule woollen tie impaled upon a smashing gold safety pin. But it was his shoes that really attracted my attention. He had taken advantage of the chilly weather and the icy pavements to put on a pair of black nubuck Tod’s Gommini boots, and jolly smart they looked, too. Harry is a master of the sort of décontracté elegance that comes in handy when selling vintage watches and knick-knacks. There is a sort of offhand chic about him that has you wanting, positively dying, to buy the watch off his wrist… Only I wanted the boots off his feet.

Not since Gianni Agnelli sported a pair of Tod’s boots with a suit has this wintry footwear been so well worn. Naturally, it inspired me to explore the sartorial opportunities – and, of course, such a thing as a winter boot cannot be considered in isolation, but must be seen in context. After due consideration, I have come to the conclusion that, while flannel is perfect, I would on the whole incline towards patch rather than jetted pockets, and the sort of double stitching on them, the lapel and the shoulder seams that Mariano Rubinacci favours for extra strength and a touch of sporty elegance.

The only thing is that I do not have such a flannel suit anywhere in my wardrobe. So, in this best of all possible worlds, I now have not just a new piece of winter footwear to focus on, but require a relaxed yet elegant suit to go with it. I just hope that the cold weather hangs around long enough to let me adjust this serious sartorial lacuna.

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