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Sheerluxe.com published 2009
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THE MODERN MAN'S ACCESSORY

Sam is the latest addition to the team. He’s a young man of letters looking to launch his career in our wonderful world of fashion journalism, or indeed any world that’ll have him! He’s been finding the silver lining to all these clouds we’ve been having…

Gosh what terrible weather! But of course every cloud…and I’ve found at least two silver linings. One is that I now have Thursday evenings free (previously bath night), the other is that I can take my umbrella with me nearly everywhere I go.

What’s so wonderful about that I hear you ask, well for an aspiring gent, quite a lot as it happens. Men aren’t generally allowed accessories in 2012: gone are the Halcyon Days of swords and powdered wigs. Today a man can perhaps get away with a pocket square peeping out of his blazer (check out this not-so-square pocket-square!) or a cigar nonchalantly hanging from his mouth, and that’s it really. But when umbrella season comes along…

My current model is a humble yet classic, M&S number: black with a wooden handle. It was a big purchase for me at the time, coming in at £15 or so, but that was a couple of years ago and it’s still going strong. More recently I’ve been losing myself staring into this nifty London Undercover umbrella with a map of London printed on the inside.

The dream though, of course, is a solid stick umbrella (the shaft and handle are one solid piece of wood), which is ideal for walking and general dandying. But with so many umbrellas on the market, and so many years of park-strolling and extravagant taxi-hailing ahead of me, perhaps it’s something to save for (do feel free to roll your eyes…) a rainy day.

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GOING... GOING... GONE!

Sam Walters goes to an auction, with some rather surprising results…

“Sit back and relax”… sit back on what though? That’s the question. Or at least it’s the question I asked myself a couple of months ago upon retiring to my room after a hefty meal and realising I had nowhere to sit. Of course there was the hard wooden desk chair and the bed, but I wasn’t planning on working, and as much as I had my heart set on a post-meal nap, actually getting into bed seemed a step too far. Enter… the armchair.

Everyone knows about armchairs of course, but does everyone know about stalking round auction houses trying to snipe a bargain antique armchair? I had no particular style in mind, in fact I had no styles in my mind at all, knowing nothing about antiques; I merely wanted a chair that would inhabit the corner of my room and bestow my life with a sense of dignity.

Let me tell you this now: auction houses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be on day-time TV. There were no tan-a-lot presenters to be found anywhere, but there were plenty of other curios perched on sofas and nestling in draws.

Prices varied considerably depending on the locale of the auction house. One close to Chelsea priced itself out of my market, but going further south I somehow felt more at home. Having spied a chair on a weekend viewing that promised a lifetime of sophistication for between one and two hundred pounds, I started rehearsing my arm action for the Monday auction.

Walking into a surprisingly quiet room I wondered if I had the wrong day but was soon re-assured by the sight of my beauty. There she stood, under some dirty man’s ample, denim-clad bottom. But there she stood nonetheless: a “Superb Victorian spoon-back armchair, Mahogany, deep-buttoned with Cabriole Legs”. When my lot came up I sheepishly raised my number and looked intensely at the auctioneer. There was one other bidder. I’m not sure quite what happened but I nodded to the auctioneer when he called out a higher price and the next thing I knew the chair was mine. One encounter with a grumpy porter and a quick car journey later, and the thing was installed in my very own room. Leaving me with nothing to do but sit back and relax in style!

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HAMPERED NO MORE!

Sam Walters has an epiphany, and a Pimm’s (or two)….

Gosh what terrible weather! No it’s not déjà vu, believe it or not I’m still dissatisfied with the weather: first all that beastly rain and now this ghastly heat. I know it won’t be a popular opinion, but those deadly rays turn my bus commute into an open-top tour of Hell’s finest hot-spots. When I can face the glare though, I do like to look on the bright side. Thus I declare: “wonderful picnicking weather”.

 

Yes, recently I have discovered the joy of picnic hampers. I used to be very macho about picnics, deeming rugs and cutlery the accoutrements of sissies, and nettles and twigs the more manly choice, but recently I’ve been enlightened…

 

The scene: an intensely sunny weekend somewhere in Bristol; a traditional wicker picnic hamper sits in the foreground; a small group are stretched out on a couple of checked rugs; Pimm’s is (over)flowing, and as we join the group, we hear an occasional peal of laughter. It was traditional picnicking at its finest, and there was no escaping the centrality of the hamper. So that was that: my conversion to hampers. The precise contents of the hamper are another story, but suffice it to say they were everything I could have hoped for.

The next step then must be to look for a hamper of my own. It doesn’t seem a very masculine purchase (despite the title I’m still slightly hampered by my picnic/man issues), but I think maybe it needs to happen. So far I have unearthed this Safari set, which is manly enough, but not strictly a hamper. And then there’s this luxury Fortnum and Mason set that comes with an insulated wine bottle holder and a monogrammed tablecloth, but stretches my budget beyond recognition! My search continues…