Right now I’m wearing my one and only corduroy shirt. Let’s say it’s in honor of it being the Tuesday after August Bank Holiday weekend, which roughly equates to the British Labor Day Weekend. If that sound like I’m fitting the occasion to the shirt, that’s because I am; I didn’t wear the shirt because it is the season for it, I wore the shirt because it came up in the rotation. I wear corduroy any time of the year here. Go on, call the fashion police. I’ll wait.
You see, they don’t have the rule about not wearing corduroy before Labor Day here. Frankly, I didn’t know they had it in America, either, until one day—and I must have been in my mid-thirties by this time—I went to work wearing my favorite corduroy pants (for the British contingent, that means I was wearing corduroy trousers, not underwear; corduroy knickers would chaff). I was a happy fashion icon, until a friend of mine came up to me and asked:
“Why are you wearing corduroy? It’s not after Labor Day.”
Imagine my embarrassment; committing such a fashion faux pas. In truth, I didn’t give it much thought, until I got home and realized, “There are rules associated with this type of fabric,” and, uncertain what they might be (this was before the Internet, so I couldn’t just look it up on Google) I never wore any again.
Until I came to Britain.
Oh, I didn’t jump in right away; I’m not that brave. It wasn’t until I had a few years under my belt, and my wife and I were shopping at Marks & Spencer and I saw this really nice corduroy shirt. My wife said I should buy it. I asked if it was a fashion crime to wear corduroy before Labor Day in Britain. My wife asked, “What’s Labor Day?”
And I can wear it any time of the year. That’s because—in addition to there being no attire regulation against it—the weather is pretty much the same here all year. Take now for instance. I’m on the balcony enjoying a beverage and a cigar, it’s cloudy and a bit cool but still pleasant, and it could pass for a mild midday in February, an early spring morning, an autumn afternoon or, what it is, a late summer’s evening.
Sometimes I think the weather here is a bit boring, but when I hear reports of bridges, road and people being swept away in the latest weather disaster to inflict itself on my old home town, I think it’s not so bad over here after all.
As long as I have my corduroy shirt.