Waugh and the Clothes Press

A new print-only publication the Valet Magazine carries a feature-length article entitled “Waugh’s Last Hat”. This is written by Waugh biographer and weblogger Duncan McLaren. As usual, Duncan combines his scholarship and wit in describing Waugh’s sartorial history. He includes clothing references from the earliest stories and diary entries via many of the major works of fiction right through to Basil Seal Rides Again. This includes references to Waugh’s actual tailors and hatters such as Anderson and Sheppard and John Lock & Co, respectively. The centerpiece of the article involves Waugh’s attraction to outlandish tweeds and bowler hats in the flush days of the early postwar years. Here’s an example:

…Christopher Sykes recalled in Evelyn Waugh: A Biography that in 1947, Waugh ordered from Anderson and Sheppard a suit made from a material woven exclusively for the delectation of the Household Cavalry (including the Royal Horse Guards). Conventionally, it was used for overcoats and country caps, but as you might have guessed, Waugh had other ideas. He ordered it in the form of a suit of light-brown wool, but dominated by a loud red check about three inches square. Sykes noted that it made the writer look like a music-hall comedian, and that the bright-red line that ran down the fly buttons rendered the whole ensemble vaguely obscene. I wonder if this feature was present because of the expertise of his Savile Row tailor, or in spite of it. Black-and-white pictures of Waugh wearing the suit don’t quite convey the outlandishness of the garment.

The article is not posted on the internet but subscriptions and individual issues may be purchased at this link. While it is illustrated, it does not also show examples of the more radical side of Waugh’s tastes as described in Duncan’s text. It is possible that some of those might well be searched out on Duncan’s website.

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