“In an armchair, by the fireside, just big enough for two…” croons Al Bowlly, crackle and pop goes the cosy fire; the scene is a heart-warming one. All a man needs sometimes is the quiet fireside, a cockle-warming dash or two of malt whisky, and his own thoughts. Simple pleasures are often the best.
Which is why some lovely ‘comfort clothing’ is essential; slipping into it is reassuring and relaxing. The cares of the day and the world whirring itself stupid outside the window seem to disappear in a flash. Messrs. Sinatra and Glenfiddich are the only company required, and though comforting and cosy imply simplicity, they needn’t mean inelegant or trashy. A well dressed gentleman needs the comforts of a home too, and once there, he does not do his wardrobe a disservice by shaming his residence in ugly attire. Sherlock Holmes was frequently found breakfasting by worried widows and suspicious salesmen in the classic home attire of a dressing gown and slippers; no worn t-shirts, no filthy tracksuit bottoms; Holmes looked approachable and elegant in spite of his morning room appearance.
Dressing for yourself at home is a sign of a genuinely held belief in maintaining an appearance for the good of yourself and others. Any wannabe dandy can act the eccentric on the streets but a lot of them seem to misunderstand that being a dandy is a life philosophy and not merely a fashion trend; elegant men should appear as well for their bedroom mirror as for their boardroom. This is not for any other reason other than a compulsion to cultivate polish and refinement. Doing so out of snobbery marks you as a charlatan.
For me, dressing cosily yet elegantly at home is a comfort. I feel part of the living world yet, for my pleasure, momentarily detached from it. Here are some tips for living with flair at home.
Although in these days of central and under floor heating fewer men wear slippers, there is something reassuring and complete about slipping on a favourite pair. Novelty slippers, fluffy rabbits and ludicrous creations that seem to appear on the shelves at Christmas are not the designs I refer to. Church’s are the sort of manufacturer I have in mind – elegant and very comfortable designs.
The Perseus (pictured, right) are backless, have good support, made of leather and are very comfortable. If you are a man who prefers a back to his slippers for reasons of warmth or practicality then the popular Hermes (pictured, centre) design may be for you. These are the most comfortable slippers I have tried. Despite this, I myself purchased slippers of the Albert design (pictured, left).
Named Sovereign by Church’s, the Albert slipper is the undisputed king of slippers; velvet, with a padded contrasting lining, they are frequently seen with motifs, family crests or initials. Churchill used to wear a red pair with WSC; William Holden can be seen wearing an initialled black velvet pair in Paris When It Sizzles.
There has been a lot of ‘pimping’ of this classic shape by manufacturers over the years. Some of the most interesting designs are produced by the little known company of Shipton & Heanage. Oriental patterns (pictured, left), formal stripes and weaves like herringbone (pictured, centre) and even tasselled slippers (pictured, right) are examples of this particular company’s variations on the Albert.
One of the most important things to remember about wearing pyjamas is that comfort and temperature will be the persuasive factors in choice of material and style. Though they have declined in popularity, and many men now choose to wear boxer shorts and t-shirts under the covers, for the hours immediately before turning in, and the hours after waking, nothing is better than a pair of finely made pyjamas.
Derek Rose manufactures such items; fine cotton and interesting patterns and colours, their pyjamas are the last word in British luxury sleepwear. Stripes (pictured, left), plains with piping (pictured, centre) and v-neck ‘Shortie’ pyjamas (pictured, right) for hot summer nights, are some of the options available to customers.
Ralph Lauren also manufacture decent pyjamas and matching robes (pictured), although if you are considering selecting sleepwear in dazzling colours and styles, Polo is not for you; sky blues, navy, white and black is all you will find. As for robes, Mr Lauren’s are directed to the sportier man rather than the dandy; no silks, fine paisley weaves or elegant tassels.
The finishing touch to a man’s comfort clothing, the dressing gown should be practical as well as attractive. Silk dressing gowns are wonderful, though they can be expensive and coffee and whisky spillages will require careful dry cleaning. Turnbull & Asser dressing gowns (pictured) can be exotic and colourful and they will last you a great deal of time.
Derek Rose also manufactures dressing gowns for gentlemen. In classic materials and colours, lined and unlined gowns are sold to discerning buyers. Two classic examples are the Westminster (pictured, left) and the Royal 40 (pictured, right). Terry cloth robes are not as elegant as woollen or silk gowns, and some view them as little more than glorified body towels, however, they are very practical for drying after a shower and can be very cosy on chilly evenings. The White Company manufactures good quality terry and waffle robes, though naturally, their colour choice is rather limited. Brighter colours can be purchased from Derek Rose (pictured).