I was recently invited to the 40th birthday party of Big Al Matchett (pictured above and resplendent in velvet), dress code – “The Roaring 20’s.”
This was a wonderful era which I would love to have experienced. The horrors of the first World War had made many people realise that life was for living. It was hectic and hedonistic. I can just see myself and my harem of flappers dancing to jazz music and necking cocktails that were being served for the first time in London clubs.
Forget the Primrose Hill set of today – this was a time of glamour, style and elegance with stars like Cary Grant and Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn the toast of Hollywood.
On the threads front, ‘Oxford Bags’ and ‘Plus Fours’ were born and whilst in the early nineteen twenties gents wore high buttoning single-breasted coats, these gave way to longer double-breasted styles, tightly waisted with side vents and wider lapels.
I must say I do love a cheeky double-breasted number. There is something very old school and dashing about the way the coat sweeps across the body. The buttons accentuate the drop between the chest and the waist, and even the sharply pointed peak lapels seem to add a certain caddish ‘whose your daddy?’ element to the whole ensemble. It is imposing, dignified and in many ways a gentleman’s suit of armour. Perfect for approaching a pretty young gal, stroking ones tash and uttering the Terry Thomas line, “well hello!”
So, out of the wardrobe came my trusty “button two, show three” and one cravat later held nicely in place with a pearl tie pin and all I needed to complete the look was some quality head gear.
Perhaps one of the saddest things that has happened since the 1960’s has been the demise of the hat. Gone are the days when an outfit wasn’t complete without a bowler, trilby, homburg, or fedora, to top it off.
I can’t explain it but the very act of pulling a trilby down over my forehead sent a wave of testosterone rushing to my bollocks. Worn by fast-talking gangsters and cigarette smoking hacks in black and white movies, perhaps for a second I became a modern day James Cagney.
Whatever the reason, wearing one made me feel great and I will definitely be sporting one during my next visit to the races. For those of you who are interested in purchasing one, I’d recommend a visit to James Lock and Co in London.
In fact…I’m about to head off for a long weekend to the Cote d’Azur. Perhaps I should treat myself to a Panama to go with my white linen suit. Ding Dong!