Swellboy on… snow shoes

Our man goes on a wintry journey through his wardrobe

Image: Brijesh Patel

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

So, it was in a suitablyPanglossian mood that I raised the blinds one morning to see that, in thisbest of all possible worlds, a mantling whiteness of snow and frost had settled onthe expansive  boulevards and nobleavenues of my beloved Shepherd’s Bush. My usual reaction would be to rail against the inconvenience of it alland 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 snowfallmight be considered out of the ordinary.

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But no, instead of seeing a body ofinconvenient, treacherous, slippery whiteness, I spotted an opportunity toenlarge my footwear repertoire. It wasactually Harry Fane that put me on to it. I sauntered into his chic St James’sshowroom 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 attractedmy attention. He had taken advantage of the chilly weather and the icypavements to put on a pair of black nubuck Tod’s Gommini boots, and jolly smartthey looked, too. Harry is a master ofthe 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 hasyou wanting, positively dying, to buy the watch off his wrist… Only I wantedthe boots off his feet.

Not since Gianni Agnelli sported apair of Tod’s boots with a suit has this wintry footwear been so wellworn. Naturally, it inspired me to explore the sartorial opportunities – and, of course, such a thing as a winter bootcannot be considered in isolation, but must be seen in context. After dueconsideration, I have come to the conclusion that, while flannel is perfect, Iwould on the whole incline towards patch rather than jetted pockets, and thesort of double stitching on them, the lapel and the shoulder seams thatMariano Rubinacci favours for extra strength and a touch of sportyelegance.

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

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