Sunday, 19 May 2013

Style Icon Extra: Bertie Wooster

Well that's the last time I make any promises about when my next post will be, or joke about hospital visits.  You can probably guess from that where I found myself last week, much to my annoyance and discomfort.  Still all's well again now, so while I settle back in to the daily routine of life here's a post that's been sitting in my Drafts folder for months just waiting to be finished - and now seems to be the perfect time.  Yes, it's an extra Style Icon to finish off a series I began last year and another special "fictional character" edition.  Perhaps the ultimate gentleman's style ideal, it is none other than the great and good Bertram Wilberforce Wooster.

source

Although primarily a literary character, such is the beauty of P.G. Wodehouse's writing - not least the attention to detail lavished on Bertie's clothing (ably directed by Jeeves's discerning eye) and the humorous events that can sometimes result - that the suits, ties, hats and whatnot jump off the page just as well as the incidents and accidents, the fun and games and the people and places poor old Bertie encounters throughout the stories.

Played on film and TV, first by previous Style Icon David Niven in 1935's Thank You, Jeeves, then with Ian Carmichael in B.B.C.'s 1965-67 series The World Of Wooster, Bertie (and Jeeves) received by far their best portrayal - and the one most people know and which will form the basis of this post - by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in the 1990s series Jeeves & Wooster.


The '90s Granada TV Jeeves & Wooster series is rightly regarded as the definitive essaying of these two perfect gentlemanly characters and the sheer high level displayed by the wardrobe department is but one reason the whole programme worked so well.  Bertie's suits, ties, waistcoats and other accessories (not to mention his few fashion faux pas!) are all there just as you would imagine them from the books - the ultimate style of an English gentleman.  Stumbling across the costume warehouse storing all these drool-worthy items of clothing ranks high on my list of sartorial dreams!

source

So where does one begin?  Whether in a brown 3-piece and tweeds for the country, or greys and pinstripes in Town, Bertie Wooster cuts an impeccable dash as he stumbles from one misfortune to another.

source

Not only are the suits wonderfully cut and perfectly fitted but the are accessorised brilliantly, be it with a natty tie, a well-placed pocket square, a splash of colour in the buttonhole (how overlooked is a flower in the lapel these days?!) or topped off with a complementing hat, gloves and cane.  In the books and in the series this is of course thanks in part to the guiding hand of every chap's ideal gentleman's gentleman - Jeeves.  Without him you get the feeling that Bertie might stray from the path of sartorial rightness more often and even I have found occasion to ask myself "What would Jeeves say?" when contemplating some item of clothing or other.

source

A fine proponent of Spearpoint and pin collars, Bertie Wooster has long inspired me to try both types of shirt collar.  I already own two or three pins and collar bars, now it is just a matter of saving up for the shirts themselves - from either Darcy Clothing or The Savile Row Co. for preference.

source

Bertie also proves that the pinstripe is not the preserve of bankers or gangsters, pulling it off nicely in several episodes.  He also illustrates perfectly the correct way to wear gloves with a suit and I often used to use the picture below to try and educate my otherwise ill-informed work colleagues who would take great delight in making nonsense remarks likening them to "serial killer" or "Fascist Nazi" gloves(!).  Honestly, the ignorance I had to put up with sometimes!

source

The double-breasted suit - even occasionally the rarer double-breasted waistcoat - is well represented also and further proof that it can work well on the thinner frame.

source

Even though he constantly finds himself in the most embarrassing and unfortunate scenarios Bertie Wooster always manages by and large to remain well-dressed and debonair.  One often gets the feeling from reading the stories that he is simply a victim of circumstance and actually not at all too dumb.  I find myself more and more often empathising with his predicaments, how he does his best in the face of difficult situations - much as we might try to in the daily cut-and-thrust of the world and with those who inhabit it, seemingly making our lives that little bit tougher when we just want to toddle along minding our own business.  Not to mention trying to deal with certain female relatives and their strange ideas and expectations about us!  Of course having someone like Jeeves in our corner, were he to exist, would certainly make life a whole lot easier.  We can at least try to aspire to Bertie's sartorial splendour, as the epitome of the well-dressed gentleman about town.

Well, "tinkerty-tonk!", as our hero would say, and I hope to be back with more typical Eclectic Ephemera fare before ere long.  Enjoy what remains of the weekend and cheero for now!

4 comments:

  1. A dapper chapper, indeed. Hope you are on the up and up. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry to hear you've had a set back, hope you're on the mend soon.

    We love this series in my house! They must have spent a fortune on it, and the clothes are absolutely perfect, not to mention so well cut.
    My late Grandfather was very particular when he had reason to get dressed up and I think it's made me sniffy towards scruffy men ever since!
    I don't mean that I think it's the only style to sport or that I like, just that any sort of care and attention to whatever the style chosen is better than the I don't care, my drawers are round my ankles look etc which drives me to frothing rage!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm sorry to hear you've been ill again, Bruce. I hope you have a rapid recovery.

    I love Fry and Laurie's Jeeves and Wooster. If ever two people were born to play particular roles...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sorry to hear about your being recalled to the sickbed, hope restored to good health again soon. Delighted with the Wooster post, delightfully topical for me as I have been catching up with a bit of PG lately. I love this series, the wardrobe and the portrayal seem perfectly right. Splendid to see the photos and admire the style.

    ReplyDelete

Royal Treasure Collectibles

Followers

Popular Posts