Sailing and Pubbing Gilet

I spent a very enjoyable morning aboard a sailing boat off the coat of Dorset, but I felt something was missing. Apart from a basic practical knowledge of how to sail, it was clear that what was missing was the Mickfield gilet from Lavenham. Look the part, you act the part.

Worn confidently into high summer
I made a fair stab at looking like a yachtie, but the gilet would have been perfect worn over my navy Guernsey sweater, with cherry red trousers (last worn with the shawl collar Alan Paine cardigan) and navy deck shoes. I wore the red trousers slightly fraudulently — they say you should only wear red trousers if you've made an Atlantic crossing by boat — but they look very well with the jumper and when set against the bright azure of the English Channel.
Sou'-easterly breeze
The typically blustery sou'-sou'-easterly breeze called for layers. Not thick layers, but decent layers all the same. The Mickfield affords a useful lightweight top layer, providing ease of movement by dropping the sleeves. The absence of wadding means it can be worn confidently into high summer in England.
What about pubbing?
Good for boating, but what about pubbing? Imagine wearing the gilet with a fine-gauge cashmere sweater tied around your shoulders on a fine summer's evening. You saunter along a barely-used Devonshire by-road enclosed by overgrown hedegrows to a hidden smuggler's inn, birds chirruping excitedly as they seek out roosts. A cigar glows between your fingers as a refreshing ale is brought to your table in the beer garden overlooking the sea. As the sun sets, the air cools rapidly. Some patrons give up and head indoors. Thankfully, you have the gilet so you can continue to watch the sky break like an egg as the sun sets fire to the sea.

The stylish gilet is made from a natural basket weave (Half Panama) canvas and lined with Breton-striped cotton jersey. It has stud-fastening and large patch pockets at the front to store your ship's chandlery.

Alternative to drinking and wenching
The quilt pattern on the Mickfield is called military vertical. I've been reading around the military connection to quilts. I don't know if today's soldiers are prepared to pick up needle-and-thread beyond darning socks, but during campaigns that stretch back centuries British soldiers were encouraged to sew quilts for convalescence or as a more wholesome alternative to the usual drinking and wenching.


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