A Modern Ascot

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I’d like to wear an ascot, but I just can’t. Outside of a wedding or a trip to Ascot, I’d have trouble pulling it off. I have, however, found something that is near enough to be satisfying without being too flamboyant.

The two keys to making this work are colour and collar. The colour needs to be dark and with a subtle, dark pattern if any. The collar should be non-existent: I wear it with a sweater or t-shirt rather than a shirt. On the v-neck of a shirt, even a polo shirt, it looks too forced. As with braces, white suits and most hats, it’s very hard to wear at my age without looking silly.

So, the new ascot. It is a short, dark blue scarf in silk, which I found accidentally in a vintage shop for about £5. No more than two feet long and four inches wide. It is worn in place of a scarf on more summery days like today, tied once and tucked into the front of a round-necked cotton sweater.

I have a long neck, and so collars generally are a good thing – polo shirts rather than t-shirts; shirts themselves above all. The short silk scarf, however, adds some needed height and weight to the neck of a sweater.

I prefer a dark colour and pattern, because again it makes the outfit a little less flamboyant. This is of course an entirely personal decision, but given the recent results of the Menswear Poll it seems most readers are more conservative than me if anything; so my dark blue neckerscarf with black graphic pattern is probably more likely to appeal than a yellow polka-dot version.

Again, my aim was to take a little-worn item and bring it into my wardrobe in some way. I would draw a parallel with woollen handkerchiefs – something I find far easier to wear with non-formal outfits than silk handkerchiefs. It is more muted, and subtle, but undeniably there.

One problem. Aside from a discovery in a vintage shop in York, I have yet to find a silk scarf of similar size. Has anyone seen something similar being sold as new? It strikes me as something that Dunhill or Aquascutum might carry, but I could only find regular, pre-folded ascots in their stores.

Any reports of sightings would be appreciated. In the meantime, I encourage you to scour the vintage shops and try out this suggestion with your best summer-weight sweater.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.

Comments

  1. Philipp says:

    Hi,

    good for you to give ascots a try. They have been a favorite with odd Jackets and Jeans for me for quite some time.

    I think the trick to pulling them off is really just a matter of self confidence. I approach them this way:

    “Today I will wear an odd Jacket and Jeans!”
    “I will not wear a tie!”
    “Are my chest hair really that attractive?”
    “So I’ll hide then with an Ascot.”

    All of a sudden the ascot has attained a function. It has become a piece of clothing with a function just like socks. Yes you could go without socks just like you can go without an ascot, but socks serve a function (absorbing sweat), and so does the ascot (hiding chest hair).

    And if you think in terms of the function, all of a sudden you feel quite comfortable sporting an ascot, an item of clothing that taken out of this context, you might well relegate to the race-track and the wardrobe of others.

    Just my 2 (small currency unit of your choice).

    Greetings, Philipp

  2. Simon Crompton says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Philipp. For me it is just a question of personal choice and work/social environment I think, rather than confidence. I’ll save ascots for the day I turn 40. Hats at 30, ascots at 40. Perhaps a pipe at 50?

  3. Caligula says:

    The ascot is a staple in fashion for aristocrats. I’ve worn them since I was a child. Today a long Hermes scarf will do for summer nights in Mykonos or Monte Carlo. The Palestinian shawl is also in fashion today. I am sorry that I do not have the English word for it, but it is worn around the neck, not over your head and face like in Palestine.

  4. L.Laurent says:

    I love ascots..I wear a lot of waist coats in the summer apposed to wearing blazers because of the heat and they tie my look together, and for a more casual look ill throw on a pair of dark raw denim jeans and unbutton another button on my shirt and wear my ascot loosely..Try wearing with jeans if give u a playboy swagger with out looking like your channeling Mr. Howel from Gilligains island.

  5. Lord Sebastian says:

    Try the Edwardian neckties preserved in the American Old West:

    http://www.westernemporium.com/store/001221W.php