my late father, quite likely having palpitations about a son with unsociably long and allegedly unkempt hair, coupled with a predilection for wearing apparently less than presentable clothing, repeatedly made mention that i ought to seriously consider becoming more respectable. i have little doubt that his inference was that i ought to become more like himself, a respectable, middle class, middle-manager. i do not wish to give the impression that i felt little respect towards my father's status and social standing. it just wasn't a path that i felt an overweening need or desire to follow.
even as an art student, i had avoided anything to do with drugs, didn't smoke cigarettes nor indulged in any alcoholic beverages and had been a vegetarian since my early teens. however, i did have hair half-way down my back and a preference for embroidered jackets and patchwork jeans. attending the opening of a new manufacturing plant owned by my father's employers, a friend of his pointed in my direction and asked if i was his elder son. answering in the affirmative, he made mention of all the above personal traits, at which point his interlocutor suggested he might like to buy me half an ounce of marijuana and tell me to get my haircut.
this designer scruff image has followed me to the present day, mostly because i have no real desire to alter it. i am comfortable in my sartorial disarray; my only concession to presentableness is having my hair tied in a ponytail, and even that's only because it sometimes got in my way when cycling. necessity is the mother of hairdressing.
however, as you may have observed from several of my cycling apparel reviews over recent years, i have become the epitome of the well-dressed cyclist about the peloton, pretty much at the behest and graciousness of a few of the world's finest velocipedinal tailors. this marked improvement, several of which would have received a positive response from my dad, has slowly morphed from the more sporting arena into what i think we have agreed should be referenced by the city riding metaphor. one progressive step on from the urban adjective of yore in my opinion.
this has included base layers, polo shirts (both short and long-sleeves), trousers indistinguishable from those worn by the average civilian and jackets possessed of a pragmatic nature and without three rear pockets. but just recently, to borrow a malapropism from the jura fell race, that has summited in the shape of a cycling blazer from nick hussey's vulpine clothing. in cycling terms, the blazer does not fill me with enthusiasm, but more from the point of association than actuality. on attending the start of the tour of britain from glasgow green several years ago, i had exerted the full force of my editorial influence and applied for a press pass. this was to be obtained from a designated caravan protected from civilian attack by a phalanx of officials more generally referred to as blazers. white haired gentlemen who, in the world of rock'n'roll would be more commonly referred to as jobsworths.
they were protecting that well known conundrum identified by the need to have an appropriate pass to collect the applied for pass. "i'm here to collect my press pass." "sorry sir, you can't get in here without a pass."
in this case, the vulpine blazer is impeccably tailored in conjunction with the renowned british menswear designer (of whom i have never heard, but that won't surprise you much) oliver spencer. i recall having owned and worn school blazers in my youth, and i have to say that this example reminds me not at all of those. i'd be more inclined simply to refer to it as a jacket; but then i'm not operating a rapidly expanding cycle clothing firm, so what would i know?
not simply content with resembling what my father would have referred to as a sports jacket, the vulpine blazer is constructed from a highly practical showerproof material that also offers a commendable level of windproofing. in civilian mode, it's more or less indistinguishable from any other dark blue jacket worn in the day to day world of commerce, but climb aboard the taurus corinto for a morning in the brooks saddle, and those lapels can be folded outward and fastened all the way up to the neck. and very sneakily, unbutton the cuffs and fold them back to reveal reflective scotchlite hoops for night riding. the same scotchlite lives inside the collar; turning it up in the pretence of trendiness, and following vehicles will not miss your evening existence, augmented by more reflectivity in the tailored dart at mid rear.
at nick's suggestion, i opted for the 40" size, allowing for more substantial layering beneath in mid-february weather. this not only fitted particularly well in both buttoned and unbuttoned modes, but offered a generous sleeve length should the stem on your bicycle be a tad longer than effected by the sit up and beg posture afforded by the taurus. there are two inner pockets which will cossett a slim mobile phone, five pound notes or credit cards and their like from prying eyes and bumpy roads. on the outside are two lower front pockets and one on the left breast, one of the former of which easily swallowed an ardbeg wallet and the latter offering home to my ipod touch.
i will take nick's word that the fabric is showerproof; i wasn't showered upon during the review period for which i am extremely grateful as a gale whipped islay shower would cause hardship to even those dressed in a diving wetsuit. however, i have every confidence that drip, drip, drop, little april showers would be easily repelled by the blazer's impressive constitution. and though i'd rather hope that such blazered respectability would refrain from emulating messrs cavendish and wiggins, should that be the way you roll, there are under-arm vents to prevent a misting up of the physique.
aside from wearing the blazer while saddle-bound, i thought it prudent to take it to work for a day or two, pretending all the while to be a member of the upper middle-management (with a ponytail). aside from being every inch the practical and impressive garment that it is, i confess i rather enjoyed seeing friends and colleagues becoming tongue-tied while pretending not to notice my impressive improvement in sartorial elegance. mind you, i'd never get used to it.
assuming you don't inhabit the world of designer scruff, or your boss prefers that you wouldn't, it would be hard to improve upon this vulpine/spencer collaboration. but i'd never have called it a blazer.
tuesday 25 february 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................