On Safari

It's a Bloody Jungle Out There

Travelling through India a few years back, I took an unscheduled diversion from Jaipur (easily the moustache capital of India) animated with high expectations at the prospect of a tiger-spotting safari through Ranthambore National Park.

The tigers remained elusive. I often look back and wonder if my dress had anything to do with it. I hadn't packed for a safari. Animals pick up on these things. Why should they make an effort if I didn't? If I'd looked the part, a nice safari jacket and some classic binoculars hanging on a leather strap around my neck — like Prince Philip above — maybe the tigers would have made more of an effort too. Note how the elephant in the photo eagerly gravitates towards Prince Philip. If he'd been wearing a singlet and flip flops, it wouldn't have come anywhere near him. And who could blame it?

If you're thinking of going on safari this year, don't make my mistake. Respect the wildlife you are gawping at by dressing appropriately. You'll reap the rewards.

This is an interesting safari shirt from a collaboration between Orlebar Brown and Gieves & Hawkes. The Ranthambore tigers would appreciate the classic safari touches of epaulettes and bellowed chest pockets. They might also be surprised and delighted to learn that the 'camouflage' design is actually based on a map of the Congo made by Dr. Livingstone, so Orlebar Brown tell me. This could look well under the eye-catching beige belted safari jacket from Chucs Bertie recommended in one of his letters from Melbourne.

The safari shirt from Budd Shirts (below) ups the pocket ante with four box-pleated pockets at chest and hip. The shirt is made in the UK — Andover to be precise — from linen supplied by Harrisons of Edinburgh.

Private White are stocking an updated version of the safari jacket (below) in a lightweight, ventilated Tropical Weave cotton that uses the patented Ecoseam water-repellent finish. I'd be tempted to wear it as a shirt and drop a neckerchief into that open collar.

The open weave of the cloth would be perfect for a safari. Any self-respecting tiger, or lion for that matter, wouldn't fail to be impressed by the attention to form and function.

Your usual Jermyn Street suppliers will have further safari shirting options for the details you require. Prince Charles shows the way to wear a safari shirt with a standard spread collar and belt (first picture below) — excellent sunglasses. In the second picture he wears a shirt with a traditional 'camp' collar. I like the idea of wearing a dress watch with a safari shirt, as in the second picture, instead of an oversized sports watch.


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