Farmers up and down the land have fallen prey to a bizarre new fashion. Gone are the overalls, wellies and woolly hats, replaced as they are by a new-found taste for Saville Row tailoring and haute couture. The look represents a wholesale migration of city high fashion to the fields and lanes of bucolic Britain. Even the animals are beginning to register surprise at the sartorial turnaround, but farmer style gurus are dismissing it as jealous bleating.
Of course, this isn’t really happening. If you’re a country type reading this who’s just about to go online in fear of missing the wave of style, stop right there. But something equally interesting certainly is happening on the streets of British cities: the urban country look.
Shamelessly utilitarian in nature, the look draws heavily from a dressing down culture that has been threatening to sweep the nation since the late noughties. It can partly be explained by an economic downturn, although not purely in terms of financial wherewithal (the clothes aren’t necessarily inexpensive) but in trying to capture the spirit of the day. However such explanations provide only half the answer. After all, it’s during times of economic woe that people turn to their inner creativity to pull off boutique looks on a budget; think of any period of chic and you’ll probably see a gathering storm or ongoing crisis inspiring a luscious devil-may-care attitude. It could even be argued that it’s at times of wealth that the fashion houses have it easy and produce production-line looks aimed more at newspaper columnists than the street.
So how can the urban country look be summed up? Well the title does a pretty good job, but if you’re after details you have to think more of a blend of high street fashion with outdoor accoutrements. A pair of skinny trousers with a tweed jacket, sturdy shoes and a woolly hat can be seen as a sort of archetype, primed to be accessorised and modified. The downbeat air can even be enhanced by a little well placed staining or patching, and if you’re a male the clean-shaven face has to be considered a bit of a no-no if you’re trying to pull off the whole vibe.
An important aspect of the look is, as with any look, attitude. Remember, it’s only a style; you are still an urban fox, getting through day to day life in the big, bad city, surviving on your wits and your contacts. You don’t have to pretend you’re fresh off the 8:21 from Windmillville, pointing at buildings over three stories high and asking passers-by where you can get a ploughman’s sandwich (the answer is Boots, by the way).
Country style does encroach on the city street from time to time, so checking out a vintage clothing store can be a good and inexpensive way to start building your look. You’ll also find mainstream interpretations of the look on the high street (if that’s your thing) or, don’t forget, you can go straight to source and find some authentic signature garments from the countryside itself, or at least one of those countrified cities like Bath, Chester or Norwich. You don’t have to get your shoes muddy!