I recently joined the ranks of the commuter. Unless you live above your place of work we are all commuters. But I mean the real deal, not those fellows whose journey to work is within the M25, but a proper long distance yomp – 2.5hours door to door – if all goes to plan.
My new job takes me from London to Cambridge each day, featuring two changes of train, a tube ride and a 20 minute walk from the station to the office morning and night. The first day in I got soaked from the toes up thanks to a summer downpour – something we get a lot of in England.
When you consider the trial of will that is British public transport these days; then the need to lug laptops, blackberries, papers and gym kit back and forth; and finally factor in the changeable whether, it’s a tricky prospect maintaining standards of dress on a prolonged daily commute. No wonder most people abandon all attempts at style and dressing well, opting instead for comfort and convenience.
This last factor, convenience, is a particularly difficult urge to overcome. Having suffered a lengthy commute, I can well understand why some men, and many more women, choose to wear trainers over shoes to and from the office.
But footwear isn’t the only issue. Even before I started my long commute I began to despair of rucksacks. While useful for lugging kit around, with the added bonus of keeping your hands free, few items of apparel do more damage to a suit than a rucksack. These bags destroy shoulder pads and reduce even a well made suit to appearing like a cheap rag. The main problem is that the damage these bags do to a suit outlasts the mere wearing of the bag.
But it is possible to commuter proof your working wardrobe. For me that started with the purchase of an Ally Capellino Timothy Tote. This low key London label is the brainchild of Alison Lloyd and first launched back in 1980. Their range of bags and accessories have a minimalist industrial aesthetic, which coupled to pleasing design tweaks makes them highly original. They’re not cheap but they are well made and wonderfully practical. But, whichever brand you opt for a Tote is a shrewd investment.
The next step in my wardrobe reappraisal is footwear. This is a subject I touched on briefly in an earlier unrelated post. When last in Rome I noticed that during wet winter months the males out there substitute their slim Blake Stitched shoes for more robust forms with rubber soles. I’d planned a shift to such footwear for high winter but that investment in stouter shoes, in particular Dainite soled shoes, will be brought forward. As to sources, Herring Shoe do a nice range which maintain the elegance of a classic dress shoe with the practicality of either a rubber insert or complete Dainite sole.
A commuter’s lot is not a happy one, but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or inelegant. Happy trails.