Monday, 17 October 2011
English Ethnic Dress (1)
This is English Fancy Dress rather than ethnic dress but it is based on real clothes. It is the coming thing for the age of austerity, combining craft and practicality. The male dress is interesting because it allows a display of individuality we haven't seen for many years.
Elements: boots, cord or plain trousers tied at the knee with twine. There's a terrible fear in all English male dress of attacks via the knees: adders, eels, mice, the devil, ferrets (never sure if the string is to keep them out or in) so trousers have to be bound there. Straw looks good; string if not. Not that horrible bright pink plastic twine - the green or brown hairy hemp is fine.
Shirts are of small checks, preferably smudgy ones where the colours are barely differentiated. Bright, high-contrast checks are not the thing. Neckerchief is optional but very useful so most men will have them. You cannot really beat the cotton, red and white spotted neckerchief and they are so useful that there should be spare ones in the pockets of the capacious jacket.
The jacket is not tailored in the sense of fitting. It's tailored in the sense that it might fit somebody and will come and find that person. It will be made of good wool of the tweedy variety and here the customizing comes in. Strips of fabric and maybe feathers are lightly sewn on in rows to create padded contours and crests which emphasize movement and protect the jacket if you have to shove something with your shoulder, perhaps a car or a gate. It isn't necessary to cover the entire jacket although some people like to. Pads can be replaced if they get oily.
The hat is either a tweedy trilby or some favour canvas and leather versions of stockman hats. The trilby is neat, can easily be re-dressed with new feathers and blends in. The overall look should be owlish, not like a peacock. A flat hat, if worn, should not get over-large or it looks like it escaped from Top Of The Pops in 1973.
Accessories are whatever you think best in your pockets, plus a broom. This is not so much for sweeping as beating time like the tap dancers in Stomp do.
The Lincolnshire Poacher look is practical without being reminiscent of hospital scrubs or pyjamas, and suggests one has been up since sunrise conducting delicate business which one is not at liberty to discuss.
Female ethnic dress will be discussed later.