My favourite clothes ever: Awards 2022
I have to say, I was really pleased with the reaction to this year’s PS Awards, which were set out here two weeks ago.
It’s always nerve-wracking changing the format of a popular series, but after almost 1000 product recommendations from readers, I think it’s fair to say the new scheme has been popular too.
Of course being PS readers, the thing that’s most striking about those recommendations is how thoughtful they are.
Whether it’s a comparison of different horsehide jackets over the years, or a story of a favourite old shirt that is now used - as a mark of honour - to polish and buff shoes, the entries display both emotion and information.
That second story reminded me of indigenous peoples that see it as a gesture of respect to use every part of an animal they kill - the skin as well as the meat. It's the same idea of valuing clothes more, no matter what they are. More materialism, less consumerism.
Anyway, thank you all very much for your wonderful contributions. I continue to read them, and I know other readers have got a lot of value out of them too.
The only issue with this awards format, it turns out, is that it’s impossible to turn the responses into actual winners. They’re just too varied.
Perhaps next time it would make sense - if we discuss favourite clothing again - to keep the categories narrow, such as favourite shoes or knitwear. As ever I welcome your thoughts.
Instead of announcing winners in today’s post, therefore, I am thanking everyone; recommending others browse the lists if they're ever in need of inspiration; and then giving my own nominations.
First, my favourite piece of clothing I bought in 2022.
Favourite piece of clothing in 2022: Rubato Officer’s Chinos
My favourite pieces of clothing are nearly always ones I wear a lot, purely because I have so many opportunities to enjoy them.
And they're nearly always ones that fill a specific place in my wardrobe: not another colour or pattern of shirt, but something that is unique in the role it plays.
My Officer’s Chinos are both of those.
The Rubato look of white shirt/polo, V-shaped knitwear and smart chino continues to please me every time I wear it. It’s smart and chic. It feels a long way from tailoring, but it’s equally far from jeans or streetwear.
When a friend asks what he should wear when everyone else in the office has abandoned tailoring to the sloppiness of cheap chinos and half-zip sweaters, this is what I recommend to him. He will almost look like everyone else, but not quite. Better.
The Rubato chinos themselves have the perfect rise, the perfect simple (but quality) make. There’s no two-button French bearer, which used to seem so special and now feels a little silly. There are just razor-sharp hip pockets and finely made buttonholes.
I have the ivory (pictured above), the khaki, and I’m trying to bring back the brown.
Favourite piece of clothing ever: Liverano ulster coat
This category is incredibly hard, as readers have attested.
If you have a good number of nice clothes, it’s really impossible to select one. You like too many in different ways, for different reasons.
So I picked one that, off the top of my head, gives me most pleasure to wear.
I have a long-running love affair with tailored coats, and this Liverano ulster is special among them. The cut is so roomy in the chest that everything seems to fit easily under it, yet it never feels big.
It’s well made, but there’s nothing at all showy about it. And of course it’s in what’s now called PS Harris Tweed, which is nice.
I think emotions like this have a lot to do with what clothes become your favourites. This coat feels very personal given that tweed - and it's a reminder of Antonio Liverano, with his ever-knowing smile.
Favourite bespoke ever: Anderson & Sheppard cord suit
Of course, that coat could have won this category too, but picking it for the previous section allows me to have another piece of tailoring here. And it too is a mixture of joy and personal connection.
I’ve always liked the drape cut of an A&S double-breasted jacket, and this is the DB I wear the most; probably because the others are either quite smart (charcoal worsted) or quite unusual (royal-blue flannel).
I wear the jacket on its own most of the time, and doing so recently reminded me how nice a cotton/cashmere corduroy is.
It doesn’t have to be cashmere, it could be wool. But that mix of animal hair gives the jacket more softness and pliability, which also allows it to be cut a little closer than full cotton. (And both are so much better than stretch synthetics.) This one was from Scabal.
It’s not a great fibre combination for trousers, unfortunately. But as I said I wear the jacket mostly on its own, and the trousers are serviceable if pressed frequently.
Emotionally, it reminds me of John Hitchcock of course, who cut all my A&S tailoring until he retired.
Favourite piece of ‘luxury’ clothing: Recycled fur lining
In category four of the PS awards, it was very interesting to hear readers’ experiences of what luxury means to them.
It was, as I expected, a mixture of rarity, materials and craftsmanship. But there’s nothing like hearing it spelt out by different people at different points in their life. Everything is specific and personal.
For me, luxury has always been closely identified with fine materials. I have a frightening attraction to top-end suede; I adore the soft-strong nature of PS Oxford fabric. When people talk about liking cheap jeans, I get it: they still look good. But I can't help feeling there’s no joy taken in the material.
The moulding of horsehide, the dusty look of old duck canvas, the sponginess of loopwheel cotton: I think a lot of the pleasure of great clothing is the pleasure of materials.
It was made of ends of mink that would have otherwise gone to waste. It’s a rather idiosyncratic mix of browns as a result, but it feels no less amazing on a freezing day, hugging your chest and back.
And I was thrilled when I managed to put in a set of buttons on my Donegal coat (below) in order to wear it under that too. It means I can wear that coat all through the coldest (London) winter if I want to.
Four more stories of beloved clothing, to add to the thousand already submitted by PS readers.
I hope you enjoyed mine, and found them as useful as all the others.
See you in January next year, for more highly considered nominating and story-telling. And if you have any thoughts on what the categories should be in 2023, as I said, do let me know.