Yesterday was officially the last day of summer and to make up for this rather miserable fact, mother nature provided us with one of those rare, truly beautiful evenings.
After returning home from an enjoyable dinner with my wife, it was wonderfully warm outside, the air perfectly still. The sky, a riot of pinks and blues, set the stage perfectly to wallow in the garden and indulge in a brandy and cigar.
Cigars are one of my favourite vices and my humidor is usually well stocked thanks to Dubai airport’s duty free. Without a doubt, Cohibas are my favourite brand and that night, with its thicker ring gauge, I felt a Robusto was called for.
I love the ceremony of smoking. Snipping the tip off with a cutter, charring the end with a long match. Gently drawing-on and rotating that smooth brown stick of loveliness, before releasing a plume of smoke towards the stars. Savouring the notes of pepper and wood, before resting it down in a large, beautiful, Prometheus ashtray.
Aahhh, as I sat there in my shirt-sleeves, the world seemed a better place and then it dawned on me. The one item of clothing that was missing from my wardrobe. A smoking-jacket.
If there is one garment that screams self-indulgence, luxury, extravagance, time to chill-out, kick back and relax, this is it. Whilst the star of my favourite advert wears something similar above, it is more akin to a dressing gown and a more typical example is featured below.
Worn by the likes of Cary Grant, Sinatra and more recently Hugh Hefner, it’s primary purpose was to absorb the smoke and protect the wearer from falling ash. Typically made of velvet, it has a shawl collar of embroidered silk, a brightly coloured quilted satin lining and ‘frogging’ (which is ornamental looped braid) with a button or knot for fastening the front.
Tailoring and pressing a garment in velvet is notoriously tricky and then there is the added challenge of finding the right velvet. Silk viscose mixes are very soft and usually drape well but are ‘slippery’ and so tough to work with, whilst cotton velvets are more forgiving and harder wearing. I’ve got samples on the way and have found a tailor who is going to work with my cutter to produce one.
Whilst I do love much about the one above, I feel it is perhaps a little stuffy, and needs the Michelsberg Treatment. Perhaps a little more fitted with less braiding and sharper lines.
Yes, we are about to go on a journey together, and by Winter, rather than getting home from the office and pulling out the cashmere jumpers, I’ll have a nice little ‘robe de chambre’ to keep me warm. I might even treat myself to a smoking hat and a pair of these fellas.