Archie Hume of A Hume Country Clothing discusses the wardrobe priorities of country men.
Here in the countryside the unofficially accepted style has a distinctly traditional feel.
Practicality, conformity and quality are high on the agenda but it’s more than this, the country look is part of who we are.
We can spot each other a mile off. No need for team colours to advertise our affiliation with all things country, a Schoffel gilet says as much about who we are as an orange and black scarf on a Dundee United fan.
Our comfort zone is very comfortable indeed, it’s lined with moleskin, tweed and if we’re very lucky a soft cashmere pile. The prospect of straying beyond this comfortable place is… well, not a comfortable one.
Thankfully we aren’t troubled by this prospect very often. Perhaps the odd misguided gift from a spouse or partner attempting to inject a little ‘trendy’ style into our mercifully trend free wardrobe.
And granted there are occasions, such as the annual holiday, that forces us to take a trip to the mildly terrifying edge of our comfort zone.
Thankfully we have smart chino shorts and polo shirts for this eventuality and can exist without too much trouble on the perimeter of our comfort zone dressed like this for up to a fortnight. Any more than this we begin to pine for the chafe of fleece and the absence of a storm cuff.
It’s not that country menswear is bereft of innovation and excitement.
Far from it. It’s just that the sort of things we get excited about don’t really work in the fashion world. Tech and functionality stir the hearts of country men. We like GORE-TEX laminates, CTX membranes, drainage holes in our pockets and Goodyear welted soles.
Watching a Schoffel demo team take a hose to their latest shooting jacket to test its DWR is stirring stuff as far as we’re concerned but I’m not sure how this would go down with the average catwalk show front row. I fear we have different priorities.
Having said all this, there is plenty of scope for the stylish man in the country. Take colour, for instance, the colours of a country wardrobe are muted, grassy tweeds, blues and olives.
We wouldn’t want anything too radical that would scare the livestock but there are some very low risk ways for men to wear colour that look great. Wardrobe modifications that involve nothing more troubling than picking out the colour of an overcheck in a tweed jacket and wearing a shirt or tie in this colour.
Or, combining a few different shades of the same colour, which is very subtle but very effective. An entirely navy outfit is fine but pretty bland. A bit of tonal variation in shades of blue makes it stand out – not too far, just enough to be interesting.
When it comes to stronger colours a little goes a long way. Rather than try to ‘match’ strong colours together blend them with neutral tones. If you’re going to wear a more colourful shirt in rich tones, then tone it down with a pair of pale neutral chinos.
Really bright colours are a rarity in the country but there’s a place for just one fizzing, popping colour. A well-chosen tie in a rich gold with an otherwise traditional shooting outfit is the perfect example.
It doesn’t require any shifting from the comfort zone and shows an impressive command of colour that might put a stop to those unsolicited ‘trendy’ gifts.