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.