Fashion Threads for the Country
Timeless, fun, classic or contemporary, brands have responded to women’s demand for elegant country fashion. Go and express yourself
Article by Kathryn Fensterstock
The wonderful thing about country fashion is that there aren’t exactly many rules. The other thing is it rarely deviates far from its roots; which means that core items are most definitely a timeless investment. It also has far more depth and imagination than it is often given credit for.
Country fashion has so much more to offer than the stereotypical rustic, ‘twee’ vibe it is often labelled with. Designers are taking traditional country styles and combining with colour, flare and modern silhouettes for a more chic and trendy look – the perfect transition from city to country.
Chances are, the first thing that springs to mind when you think of country fashion is tweed. Tweed is a blend of heritage and tradition that derived from a rough, hard-woven fabric that was once-upon-a-time worn by Scottish and Irish farmers. However, it wasn’t until 1931 when it was officially named tweed; but that’s another story. Nowadays, tweed is produced in a wide variety of forms and patterns, meaning both producers and wearers can express their own individual style and personality.
Tweed will never look out of place in the countryside – fact. But the selection of styles, patterns, colours and actual garments means it is also perfectly suited to city life too. Lucan is a wonderfully unique brand which combines tradition with a contemporary twist resulting in aesthetically bold garments that work equally well for country days and city nights. You will find no breeks in the Lucan collection, but instead bold flared skirts, well-cut trousers and 1940s-inspired coats. For a modern tweedy vibe with a young and vibrant style, Holland Cooper is also a great go to.
There’s one very important consideration when expanding your country wardrobe and that is purpose. If your passion is spending hours in the wilds of Scotland, then your needs are very different to those who prefer to lovingly stroll through the gardens of the array of country houses and castles in the UK; that elegant, rolled sleeve tweed blazer is unfortunately not going to protect you from the elements throughout the former.
As women (quite rightly) strive for equality in all aspects of life, this has become increasingly apparent on the shooting field. More and more lady guns are featuring in the line-up. For men, dressing for a day’s shooting is fairly simple – you can’t go far wrong with plus twos with a shirt and tie, jumper and a good coat. But for ladies it’s not quite as easy.
Whilst fashion may not be at the forefront of these ladies’ thoughts, it’s refreshing that brands within the industry are bringing true femininity to the field – Schöffel Country, Cordings and Musto, to name a few, offer a fantastic range of shooting stylish garments for ladies such as breeks, knitwear and coats.
With this move in style and fashion, the general look of ladies shooting wear is much slimmer and more dynamic. Fits are much more flattering and designed to perform without compromise. An excellent example of this is Schöffel’s iconic Ptarmigan Tweed Coat – it features everything you could possibly wish for in a practical shooting coat and more, whilst still retaining its ladylike appearance.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Ptarmigan Coat this year, Schöffel Country is an industry leader when it comes to innovation and technology. Chris Montgomery, head of product development at Schöffel Country explained: “Tweed really was the first performance fabric thanks to its range of properties. It is naturally water-repellent, windproof, durable and, as it’s a natural fibre, breathable too. It also looks great.
“We have seen a big uptake in women shooting and more often they are looking for flattering but functional products. They want to be protected against the elements, but without compromising on beautiful styling and a lovely silhouette.”
However, country style doesn’t just stop at tweed; there’s so much more to it than that. From cashmere jumpers and colourful cords to patterned shirts and quilted gilets – it really is an open book. There are so many branches too which can vary greatly; from farming to country pursuits to country shows to days at the races.
Off the shooting field, Really Wild Clothing boasts a beautiful range of woven wool skirts and silk shirts which are perfect for evening socials and days out. Schöffel Country’s range of cord jeans in five different colours are a wardrobe essential. They are super versatile, extremely comfortable and if you don’t own some already, you should.
Heading out as the seasons change always brings the dreaded uncertainty of whether a coat is required or not. There’s nothing more irritating than having to carry one when it’s not needed, but equally nothing worse than wishing you had one. A cape/wrap is the perfect compromise. They are sleek and stylish, almost spelling sophistication, and can be teamed with almost anything. Annabel Brocks has a splendid choice of suede and tweed capes with faux fur collars, as well as lambswool wraps, all of which are equally stunning.
No outfit is complete without accessories. This is a great way to put your own stamp and individuality in to an outfit. This is also a chance to adapt a particular look to suit; whether it be for a specific venue, occasion or even just to spice things up a little. Hicks & Brown specialise in quirky hats and cow hide belts, whilst Mackenzie & George’s range of shooting and equestrian inspired accessories would be a welcome addition to country outfit.
When it comes to accessorising, a hat is a must. It is a great British tradition that dates back centuries and they somehow possess almost totemic power in their ability to symbolise class and gender amongst a myriad of other things. During Edwardian Britain, hats were a necessity in public, and even the Suffragettes remained behatted whilst chained to railings campaigning for votes for women. So, whether it’s a tweed flat cap, deerstalker, trilby or fedora, wear your hat with patriotic pride.
Last, but by no means least, is footwear. In reality this is one of the most important components of country style for fairly obvious reasons. The first essential item every country girl should own is a pair of rubber boots. For a luxurious feel with uncompromising comfort there’s only one go to: Le Chameau. Its range of boots are handcrafted by maîtres bottiers (master bootmakers) from natural rubber and offer the widest variety of calf widths on the market for an almost bespoke fit.
To complete your country wardrobe, a pair knee length boots, Chelsea boots and loafers are a must. Of course, there are an abundance of options on the market, however Fairfax and Favor, The Spanish Boot Company and Dubarry are well known, high quality options to investigate.
Whatever your preferred look, make sure it expresses your personality. The most important thing is being comfortable – in both body and mind. Don’t go for flamboyant colours and patterns if you don’t want to stand out. On the other hand, if ostentatious eccentricity is your thing, embrace it with confidence and passion.