February 21 2011
Lucia van der Post
I love proper country clothing – all those heathery tweeds and butter-soft cashmeres and the wonderful bottle-green coats that are seen at all the best shooting parties. The places to find this sort of wear are the old-established companies which are long versed in the nuances not just of what looks right if you’re off to rural parts but also in what actually keeps out the wet and the cold and enables you to move if you’re doing any proper hunting, fishing or shooting.
Holland & Holland has it down to a fine art – those beautiful long classically-cut fur-trimmed wool coats (first picture) look glamorous and perfect for a country setting, as well they might at almost £7,000 a time. As for its tweed jackets for women – these days they come with properly shaped waists, turned-back cuffs and some lovely fur trim and so they flatter while they keep you warm (a bespoke version will set you back upwards of £2,500; third picture shows bespoke jacket, £4,950) .
Westley Richards is a brilliant online store that sells a lot of the best country brands, most particularly the hard-to-track-down men’s soft cotton shirts that just look old-fashioned in metropolitan circles but so absolutely right in the country (£50 a time by Le Chameau, second picture, and around £67 in brushed cotton tattersall checks by Cordings).
But the cult shop for the country set has to be The House of Bruar in Perthshire, just off the A9, 10 miles north of Pitlochry. It’s a famous stopping-off point for those heading for the Scottish Highlands, but these days you can shop online as well as from its mail-order catalogue. This is the place for the sort of clothing that you wouldn’t dream of wearing to fancy city events but that is so comforting to have tucked in the suitcase when Prada, Dolce, Gucci et al would seem not only vulgar but also plain daft. They’re the garments for a softer, more romantic, rural life and you need to pick your way quite carefully through the catalogue since it seems to me its attempts to be fashionable don’t work.
It’s the place to look for the old-fashioned perennial country favourites. If you’re after those long olive-green waxed raincoats that are perfect for walking the dog in dodgy weather, then you’ll find them for £49.95. There are absolutely classic long cashmere coats for men (dead classy in navy, £345) as well as women (in this season’s must-have camel, £325). Perfect, too, is a long softly pleated skirt with an inverted pleat at front and back in a gentle brown tweed at £109 – very Ralph Lauren in his “way out west” moments. Find, too, tartan kilts (£99.95) and comforting wraps (£69.95-£99.95).
While the brochure and the online store are handy, best of all is to stop at the store itself where one of my friends triumphantly found precisely the long, deep lovat green coat she’d always lusted after. It even looks glamorous in town.