Thursday, 17 March 2011

Captain Hastings - well-dressed man-about-town

I should've known it wouldn't take long.  Miss Retro Chick recently did a post entitled - yes, you've guessed it - "Style Icon for the Working Woman - Miss Lemon" (fair do's, of course - I doubt I'm one of her core audience!).  I must admit I might have underestimated you ladies and how short a space of time there would be between Miss Lemon-themed posts.  Still, I told you what I'd do if I read another one, so here we go:

I'm going to, where possible, cover one episode per post.  This will, if nothing else, give me enough ammunition to match any future Miss Lemon-fests (I hope!).  We therefore begin with The Clapham Cook.

Captain Hastings' wardrobe varies little over the course of this mystery, which is probably as it should be.  Even so a few fashion gems make an appearance, not least the great Fair Isle pullover!

I'm guessing the jacket is corduroy, maybe?  Classic '30s pointed collar and a patterned tie to complement the Fair Isle.  Jolly good.  You've got to love his facial expression, haven't you?
A slightly fuller view, paired with a fine and, again, complimentary overcoat.

I do like Poirot's extravagant neatness, but Hastings' more closely represents the '30s standard and I have a weakness for Fair Isle(!)
In the country Hastings' colour-coordinated ensemble knocks the spots off Poirot's rather plain look.

Speaking of Fair Isle, I find it's damned hard to come by for us chaps these days - certainly more so than for the ladies, for whom it seems to have retained some semblance of popularity.  Those that I have found are often eye-wateringly expensive.  For example:

Fair Isle Knitted Slipover, one of several
designs from Darcy Clothing, £70-£78
Polo Ralph Lauren
Navy Wool-Alpaca Fairisle
from -
£101 from £145 (currently sold out).
Polo Ralph Lauren
Cotton-Cashmere Fair Isle
from Mr Porter - £215
(ouch! - it's lovely, but not £215 lovely)
Back to the story, and a new day sees Captain Hastings wearing a variation on the earlier Fair Isle pullover - the Fair Isle cardigan.

Pay no attention to Miss Lemon and her patterned dress.  Look at Captain Hastings.  LOOK AT CAPTAIN HASTINGS.

I adore the tie he's wearing with this outfit - classic '30s!
This is the best shot I could get of the trousers, which are in a wonderful shade of steel blue and which contrast well with the brown jacket yet compliment the blue cardigan.
Something that is, if anything, even more difficult to come by these days.  The only thing I could find like it was this:

Knitted Fair Isle Waistcoat
from Darcy Clothing - £67.50

Of course, there are plenty of original Fair Isle patterns available from the likes of Ebay and various pattern websites but this requires someone who can knit skilfully and who has a lot of time on their hands (at least that's what my mother tells me).  My knitting ability stops at things that are short and squarish (i.e. scarves) and although mater can knit skilfully, she hasn't got the time to do fiddly Fair Isle.  So when she eventually knitted me a pullover (it took me 5 years of badgering to get it out of her, and originally I just wanted a plain white cricket jumper!) she cheated a little and used a type of wool called, I believe "creative yarn", which is somehow pre-treated so that a Fair Isle-ish pattern emerges as you knit.  It's not perfect but it's a fair approximation and a worthy alternative (I love it Mum, in case you're reading this!).

Not the best picture perhaps, but you get the idea.

So the first salvo has been fired in the Battle of Hastings (vs. Miss Lemon) ;-P.  Next time (and that time will depend on you, girls) Captain Hastings will return in Murder in the Mews.


  1. Ha ha :) Love it :) Don't forget the wonders of charity shops, jumble sales and carboots :)

  2. Those RL Polo ones are nice- have you tried designer discount villages like Bicester Village? Items are often half price, more affordable!

  3. Great post Mr P-P. Hastings has as good a collection of knitwear as Miss Lemon, but he really does need to make more of an effort with his hair. Has he never heard of brylcream?!

    I tried to buy my chap a sleeveless vest for Christmas and didn't get anywhere. That one from Hackett was the nicest I found, but by crikey the price! They are often called slipovers in Scotland, which may help with your search. Drakes do a particularly fine one, but again very expensive:

    Mr D eventually found one on ebay, after a year of trawling for bargains. You could also check for little Scottish 'cottage' businesses, I found they did the best bargains in fairisle.

  4. Fabulous!

    Yes, fair isle is distressingly expensive these days.

    I think Captain Hastings is very dapper, but I did make Poirot my Style Icon last year. He has good canes

  5. Sir, for Fair Isle slipovers, cardigans and waistcoats look no further than
    Amongst the 'Bohemian' patterns you will find some clasics. I recommend the 'Grandad'.

  6. What size are you, Bruce? I have lots of patterns!

  7. LG - I'll certainly continue to keep my eyes peeled, although Fair Isle seldom crops up in the second-hand market in my experience. Perhaps people know it's a good thing and hold on to it forever, only for the family doing the clearout at the end to think "nobody'll want that old thing!" and throw it away... ;-)

    Perdita - thanks for the tip. Yes, places like Bicester Village will certainly get my attention.

    PD - Thanks! Great to hear your take on Captain Hastings - so girls prefer a well-coiffed chap then, eh? I'll have to remember that! ;-) I think Hastings' wayward hair just adds to his jolly, bemused charm myself :-)

    RC - thanks too! You can't argue with a man with a cane (at least, it's not advisable)!

    WDI - thank you, sir, for your recommendation. I shall add them to my list of potential suppliers.

    Mim - good of you to ask. Pullovers in the 38-40ins range fit me, if that's any use?

  8. Thanks Bruce! I have a couple of projects queued at the mo, but if I get time to bash out a Fair Isle I'll remember you. (Mr Robot refuses to wear such things.)

  9. I do love a nice Fair Isle too, but wish that I had the manual dexterity (and skill) to manipulate all those yarns at the same time.

    I found a 1930s knitting pattern book last year which is a facinating read, I blogged about it here:

    Finally, there's a little blog award waiting for you on my recent post back at VK HQ

  10. Oh I love Hastings myself, and to me he IS a fashion icon. I think he looks like the perfect gentleman.

    Thank you for the blog award, Bruce! It's much appreciated!

  11. hurrah for the fair isle wearing chap. Seems to me I read Edward, Prince of Wales started this craze (along with bringing back the boater) in the 30s? Anyway, dashing!

  12. Wonderful post and pictures! Thanks for commenting on my blogpost = Mr M wearing his! They are a true investment!

    Love the one you have pictured Cpt Hastings wearing, delish!

    XX M


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