14 January 2011

Flannel Fantasies and Chalk Stripe Dreams

Have you ever seen a dream walking? I have not, but I often see them lounging about in old photos, films, and magazine style spreads. I am referring of course to the flannel chalk stripe suit. It is, for me, the crème de la crème, or the Holy Grail if you will, of personal sartorialism. I have lusted after it for years. Chalk stripe cloth has a martial or regimental association, in much the same way, I suspect, as 'bengal stripe' English dress shirts were derived from the off-duty kit of the Bengal Lancers in India. Chalk stripe is also redolent of Pall Mall clubs, wood-panelled libraries, leather Chestertons, Tweed Bellocs, cigar smoke, glasses of Scotch, and scrums of slick-haired old bankers gossiping and discussing the latest deals. It is enough to make this handsome young fogey's snout drool. As you know, I have two flannel chalk stripe suits (both featured in previous columns): a light grey undarted Brooks Brothers number with a 3/2 roll that I do not wear very often, and a 2-button undarted Southwick suit in 14oz. navy cloth that I acquired more than a decade ago from Van Driver in Greenwich, where my salesman was a very nice Ecuadorian gentleman, a white-haired, blue-eyed, and bespectacled chap whose beautiful niece I once dated. The Southwick suit over the years suffered from a number of butterfly bites and is currently undergoing intricate repairs in a local body shop, and, although it is expected to recover fully, the prospect of being without a flannel chalk stripe suit fills me with anxiety for which the only solution naturally is more chalk stripe. So, I am in the market for an additional suit. I like the examples at Hackett and Polo Purple Label (pictured above), and both Brooks Brothers and Pakeman Catto & Carter feature delicious-looking chalk stripe suits in a DB model. But I will probably be compelled to go bespoke. For the problem with most flannel, I think, is that it is not very practical for the Southern California climate, and really is wearable only two or three months out of the year here. A lighter weight cloth is required. I will let you know what I find. Peace out.

4 comments:

Reggie Darling said...

Years ago I splurged and bought meself a chalk stripe (white on dark--almost black--navy) suit that I loved, but only rarely wore because it was so damn heavy and required the absence (or near absence) of central heating to be able to wear it without sweat coursing down one's torso all day long (we were required to keep our jackets on during business hours where I worked). Finally, after years of it collecting dust in the closet I sent it to the jumble. I wish I had it now.

Tabitha said...

May I pass you a perfumed handkerchief to mattify one's snout?

OldSchool said...

Wouldn't the sensible solution be to leave Southern California?

Easy and Elegant Life said...

I will tell you that the level of handwork in the Purple Label and the Sartorial lines are very high. The flannel lighter than you might expect (Italian cloth). I was pleasantly surprised by the example I tried on at the Rhinelander mansion over Hallowe'en.

That said, a fine bespoke number..... if it's good enough for Fred Astaire,... Make mine a DB, grey.