Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Belmont's Wardrobe

I wrote an article about the umbrella and shirt collections awhile ago. I believe that, like many others through the fullness of time, I have accumulated or acquired some interesting items of apparel during my life; some inherited, others acquired.

My late father was stockier and slightly taller than me, so I couldn't wear any of his clothing; though I do still have a waistcoat and several polo-neck jumpers of his. I had an old Aquascutum overcoat of his altered unsuccessfully.

What I did inherit were a miscellany of accessories, mainly gold and military cuff-links and a lovely, old Onoto fountain pen, dating from the 1930s. I still use it.

Some of the clothing is ancient and utterly useless, unless one is a courtier or a recipient of invitations to State banquets. I acquired full evening dress from an old friend of my father's: heavy worsted tail-coat with ribbed silk lapels; old, starched, white dress-shirt and white tie; white pique waist-coat; heavy black, double-braided trousers. The top hat was acquired many years ago in Parsons & Parsons in Belfast.

The morning-coat is black; the waistcoat grey and double-breasted. I discovered the waistcoat in a charity shop.

I discovered one of my most precious acquisitions in a charity shop: the 77 year-old dinner jacket, which makes me feel like Hercule Poirot! It is beautifully made, with functional button cuffs and a very wide, ribbed silk lapel. I simply had the jacket altered and had a few cuff buttons sown on. I shan't disclose what it cost me; suffice it to say that it was a bargain, like a "find" on the Antiques Roadshow!

If anyone is interested, my best advice to them, if they are in their twenties or thirties, is to buy the very best clothing and footwear now. That's what I did, and it has endured. Most of my most precious clothing was acquired when I was in my early twenties: the Church's shoes from Harrod's and Austin Reed's store in Belfast; the Burberry trench-coat; the Aquascutum overcoat; the shirts, from Turnbull & Asser. Nevertheless, I'm still acquiring stuff, because the hat collection is relatively recent; and I intend to have a new suit made this year.

If you invest in half-decent stuff today and look after it, only wearing it occasionally, it will provide decades or, indeed, a lifetime, of satisfaction.

First published in February, 2010.


Sandy said...

Sage advice Tim. However time does alter one's silhouette somewhat - at least in my case. I still have a very nice suit bought when I was a young man which I somehow doubt I will ever fit into again!
I bought a jacket from John McBride some years ago. It seemed a little large on fitting, and when I informed John I intended to lose some weight he ignored me! Of course he was right. It now fits perfectly!

Timothy Belmont said...

Ha ha! That was most judicious of John McB. I hear he's at Clarke & Dawe presently.

If I stopped my fitness routine, through ill-health or whatever, I'm sure couldn't fit into the ancient relics!

Stephen said...

Words of wisdom, as always.

Though I am concerned to here that Austin Reed is no more? Is that correct?


Timothy Belmont said...

Quite right, Stephen. They were at the very entrance to Queen's Arcade, Donegall Place end, City Hall side where there is a jewellery shop.

They had two floors so, even though they were compact, they crammed a lot in! I got the shoes upstairs; and, I recall, a navy blue blazer and grey trousers!

Stephen said...

"Hear", not "Here". But I assume you guessed that.

So where is left in Belfast for decent clothing? Parsons and Parsons?


Timothy Belmont said...

I wouldn't like to say. I'm afraid I don't set a great example! I have got a lot of my stuff elsewhere.

Oh - almost forgot - charity shops!

Stephen said...

You sell yourself short, Timothy. You seem quite a dapper chap.

Though I would assume the Dowager expressed her disgruntlement with you wearing those nice (semi)white trousers on grass!

All the best,


Timothy Belmont said...

Perhaps I'm overplaying the charity shops, Stephen! If there is an item - like a 1930s d-j! - I seek, I head for those places. It is infrequent and pot-luck.

Those trousers are described on the label as "stone" in colour!