So what would I like for Christmas? You know you are hurtling towards old age when you have to ask yourself that question, and you feel even older when people have to ask you. When you were a child, you were easy to cater for; the latest toy, gadget, computer game and mountain bike seemed to do the trick. You only had to follow the current wave, or even ask what other parents were buying their children and thus, ubiquity prevailed; everyone clambers to get their tot the same blasted thing.
Being an adult is rather different. Clothing bought for me at Christmas as a teenager was timidly conservative; accessories such as socks and underwear and basic items such as plain sweatshirts and white t-shirts may have been boring surprises on Christmas morn, but they were extremely practical and sensible; I have never taken underwear back to the shop for an exchange or refund.
As I got older, and my clothing tastes became wildly unpredictable, my parents decided to focus on other areas of need and want; computers, sporting goods, books and items for around the home. Now, I feel I have settled into an absurdly predictable mould, it should be dashed simple to choose clothing for WJP Chesterfield.
However, just in case I am wrong, and it proves to be as hard as Arctic ice to pick out suitable sartorial items for yours truly, here’s a guide to my Christmas list.
1) Polka-dot lightweight dressing gown from Woods of Shropshire
Silk dressing gowns are fabulous and luxurious, but are not coffee-friendly and certainly not practical in a house with little bits sticking out of wood and doors, ready to snag the smooth dense material. This dressing gown is perfect. It’s more elegant than a towelling gown and it has that 1940s film noir appeal; I half expect it to come with a Mauser. It’s manufactured by legendary, yet little known nightwear producers Lloyd, Attree and Smith. It’s light weight and 100% cotton and a steal at £31.50. Elegance is affordable after all.
2) The ‘modern’ white shirt
I have plenty of city-collar, cutaway white shirts. In fact, I have a couple of tatty ones that I hold dear; perhaps I should throw away. What I really would like is the modern take on the white shirt. Very Dior Homme: a small collar, with a smidgeon of black detail (black buttons on the cuffs). Appropriate for going out, wearing with or without a tie. Zara make a fantastic one, and at a fraction of the Dior price. The cotton is very high quality too.
3) A paisley pocket square from Massimo Dutti
One of the things many people might not notice about Massimo Dutti is their stock of affordable and lovely accessories. While many might scream that the style of the store is a Ralph Lauren rip-off, the pocket squares are fine silk and excellent value. They also come in lovely combinations; purple, forest green, gold and grey. The selection is not huge, but there are usually at least three or four to choose from in shops.
4) Brown leather boots
For certain looks, only boots will finish an outfit. Some of my trousers have a slightly looser and more casual edge and call for a more rugged and less metropolitan shoe. A slip on boot, in brown, would complement some of the layered looks very well. Layering has a tendency to make people appear top-heavy, and I praise the look for its richness, but the shoes I regularly wear have seemed, well, too petite and dainty to carry it off.
5) Le Dandy from D’Orsay Parfums
A fragrance that is so frequently out of stock, I wonder if it gets delayed going through a special initiating ‘blessing’ pageant before hitting the shelves, because, it really is that good. Though the name suggests it’ll smell of Oscar Wilde’s pillow case, Le Dandy is actually fairly masculine in base notes; wood and balsam are used. The middle notes are spicy and gingery, and the lovely top notes are tobacco flower and whiskey. Though it is most certainly a male fragrance, it has a confectionary quality that would put musky-men off; Brut it ain’t.
6) Dior Homme Patent lace up shoes
One last request, just in case St Nick is feeling especially generous is a pair of Dior Homme shoes. The style of them is quite retro and definitely quirky; pointed toes and all, but they update classic looks like nothing else. They’re not cheap, but then they’re not cheaply made. They have a singularly beautiful construction usually seen on Berlutis or Lobbs. Thankfully, they’re not quite in that stratospheric price range, but they do qualify as being the ‘guilty luxury’ wish on this list.