Carola Long: Barbour jackets are having a revival thanks to the likes of Kings of Leon and Lily Allen
Saturday 16 January 2010
Although we're a nation obsessed with the weather, many of us Brits seemed surprisingly unprepared for the snow. I'm not talking lack of grit here, or a failure to stockpile Spam in case food supplies run low, but about being sartorially ill-equipped.
When five inches of snow fell around my street I witnessed an array of perplexing wardrobe solutions, including a man in a suit with no coat and some leather-soled brogues with zero grip flailing around like a cartoon character who is permanently slipping on a banana, and a girl in high heels inching her way along the ice at the speed of a solar-powered milk float.
I'm not saying that we should all have a pair of crampons on permanent standby, but it was interesting to note how divorced from practicality plenty of people have become in the way they dress. While there are many who favour comfort over style, others embrace fashion over even the vaguest nod to function. There is something perversely impressive about those photographs of girls in tiny dresses shivering in the New Year snow after a night's clubbing, but the irony is that suffering for style doesn't actually look very good because it smacks of trying too hard.
In fact, there's nothing more chic that an outfit that's both practical and well designed, and traditional British outdoors labels capture this combination better than anyone else, with no garish Gore-Tex in sight. Hunter (hunter-boot.com) make the most streamlined and supportive wellies around, while hip-length duffel coats by Gloverall (gloverall.com), who still make their coats in England, are both seriously warm and chic in a Left Bank, 1960s-student-activist-kinda-way. Barbour jackets (right, £189, barbour.com) may be having a bit of a moment, thanks to the likes of Kings of Leon and Lily Allen, but because they are practical and classic they will never really date, as long as you add modern touches. Mix with at least one quirky fashion-forward element such as a brightly coloured paisley or leopard-print scarf, or a Sonia Rykiel-style jumper and there's no risk of being mistaken for a Balmoral gamekeeper.
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