March 12, 2013

Shabby Chic

I was watching CountryFile on my Tunnelbear this evening.

I suppose that I should parse that sentence for you. CountryFile is a weekly BBC1 television program that explores the aspects of country life, from farming to hunting and everything in between. imageIt’s long been a favourite of the Royals, especially Prince Charles who runs an 1,100 acre organic farm, Duchy Home Farm, in Gloucestershire. In honour of the 25th anniversary of Countryfile, Prince Charles edited and presented one of the episodes.

I was able to watch this on the BBC’s iPlayer via my Tunnelbear connection. If you have an American or non-UK address, you can’t play BBC iPlayer shows at all. Tunnelbear basically changes your computer’s address to that of one in the UK, so you are able to access BBC and other UK television programs over the internet. (Which means you don’t have to wait for Downton Abbey to make it across the Atlantic!)

But what does this have to do with shabby chic?

Prince Charles, whose family is not lacking for funds, appeared in a segment of the show with the most tattered and mended Barbour jacket in existence. imageIt’s an old coat, and he said he’d had gotten someone to patch it with bits and pieces of leather. So much so, that he could hardly move his arms, he joked. imageHe’s been known to wear his uncle’s top coats imageand to wear sweaters with patches, although he is the patron of British Wool, which recently gathered fashion editors, designers and farmers to promote British Wool, one of the most sustainable resources for clothing. He even has a pair of shoes made from bales of leather salvaged from an eighteenth-century wreck off the Southwest of Britain. He said that he’ll wear out before the shoes do.

But the Prince is not alone in his love of patchy clothes. My friend David has been thinking about the shattered silk coat that Robert Downey, Jr. wore as Sherlock Holmes. imageSo David got to playing around with some fabrics,image and created his own coat, using an old smoking robe as the base.imageVery elegant, very chic, and just a little bit shabby!


  1. hey Meg! So great you picked up on this. The Prince of Wales is such fun
    and yet so serious about ecology, sustainability blah blah. Snappy dresser and now scrappy dresser.

    Most impressed by David's coat. Could you call that a 'banyan' I wonder? Saw something similar from Coramandel in the V and A.

  2. Love all the coats! Thanks for the Tunnelbear tip.

  3. Such a creation, but oh, there are those cabinets that I covet!!

  4. I can't tell you what a huge fan of Franken-coats, and textiles in general, I am. The uber-wealthy of a certain sort always wear tattered clothes. I just appreciate the refusal to waste.

  5. Most enjoyable read this morning. Thanks!

  6. and I love it! Thanks for the tip on Tunnelbear. We moved from the UK to Vietnam last year and I am sorely missing my British TV shows. I knew it could be done, but wasn't sure how. You are a star! Thank you!

    PS...seriously loving that smoking robe. I think I will try and make a Vietnamese creation of the same..loving the idea of a project like that. Double thanks!

  7. Since I adore british TV thank you for the tip. Love David's coat + bonny Prince Charles. What an interesting post.

  8. Excessively patched clothes are best accompanied by a splendid signet ring and tasteful solid gold watch. Lesser folk are apt to look a bit silly or tragic in too many patches...



  9. Herts' comment on patches reminded me of the time a few years back when I was riding the bus home one summer evening after a free opera concert in Grant Park. To me, it's not who's wearing the artfully patched clothes that determines their success or failure, it's the audience. That sort of thing only works if you're preaching to the choir.

    Chicago's 151 Bus is our city's own melting pot, serving both the elegant 1920s apartments on Lake Shore Drive and the grittier urban neighborhoods in Uptown. On the 151, you see everything and everybody, often sitting right next to each other.

    I'm just sorry to say that on the night in question, I didn;t have my camera because because the I-can't-believe-my-eyes look that young Mr Unbelted-Pants-Sliding-Halfway-Down-His-Skinny-Butt was giving to Mr Pink-&-Blue-Inside-Out-Patch-Madras-Go-to-Hell-Pants was absolutely priceless. If you know the old photo of Sophia Loren's bug-eyed stare at Jayne Mansfield's low-cut dress, then you know exactly the look I'm talking about, although in this case, it was the one with the bug-eyes who was showing off the ol' cleavage.

    The whole thing reminded me of the caption of an old New Yorker cartoon of a snooty rich couple walking past a drunken beggar on a park bench: "That's a perfect example of what's wrong with this country."

  10. LOVE THAT COAT! And I love anyone who makes their own when they like something they see. Very cool, indeed.

  11. Thanks so much for the Tunnelbear tip. It works like a charm.


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