"What shall I write my column about?" I wondered over breakfast last week.
"Write about what happens when you've packed all your winter clothes away and then it's freezing cold and raining," my other half says, rolling his eyes. Does he feel, not entirely unreasonably, that someone who makes a living out of writing about fashion should really have known better? Am I like one of those television weather forecasters blathering about high pressure, low pressure and so forth while viewers shout: "It's simple. It's snowing. Stop blathering about high pressure, low pressure and so forth and look out of the window."
Fair enough. But that doesn't alter the fact that, rightly or wrongly, two weeks ago I put my warm wardrobe into storage, merrily hanging my black and navy cotton summer dresses, my lightweight denim and my Rick Owens fireman shorts – but of course! – in their place. And given the military precision with which, for fear of moth, I have done so, to exhume them for a week or two before the British weather turns positively tropical – as it surely soon must – seems nothing short of churlish. I'm nothing if not an optimist.
And so, as winter gives way to spring, I find myself mostly wearing my Burberry trench coat. It seems like I've had it for ever but it is at this time of year that it truly comes into its own: it's light, waterproof and cool or warm depending on what's worn beneath it. It comes in very handy at any school parents' evening, too, incidentally, when I would rather no one knew just how slovenly I really am. My coat is a very smart and even conservative garment by my standards.
Burberry's recent climb in revenues must be at least partly attributable to this classic garment. But knitwear, fragrance, watches and men's tailoring – more than a few extremely chic men wear Burberry tailoring – are also helping, clearly. As the Art of the Trench, photographed by Scott Schuman and published two years ago, went to prove, as far as this design is concerned it's how you wear it that is revealing. I like mine cut quite small – even tight, controversially – across the chest and shoulders, and close it by knotting the belt. I have never done more than one of the buttons up. There's a fine line between smart and uptight, after all.