One of the best-dressed events of the British social season is the Goodwood Revival
motor racing meeting, held at the Goodwood Estate in England each September. The motor racing features fabulous classic cars from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, but for many racegoers there is the added attraction of a dress code
from the same decades. Lavishly-dressed ladies in vintage clothing from tweeds and furs to mini-dresses and white boots are a vision to behold, but they are mere peahens to the peacocks of some of the more sartorially-inclined gentlemen in attendance.
As Cary Grant once said, it take five hundred small details to add up to one favourable first impression, and the key to a magnificent Goodwood Revival costume lies in the accessorising. Vintage and antique canes can be bought in antique shops and online, but they are often collector's pieces rather than usable dress accessories. People today are a lot taller than two or three generations ago, so old sticks are often simply too short, even if they are unbowed and in good condition. A traditionally-styled modern stick
is therefore usually the answer, and could be a family heirloom of the future.
To our eye at Classic Canes, a man in a tweed suit simply isn't dressed without an appropriate stick. To accessorise tweeds, a traditional hardwood crook
cane is usual. The derby cane gets its name from an earlier Lord Derby who asked his stick maker for a supportive stick he could still hook on his arm when watching his racehorses run. The elegant derby cane was born and remains the perfect everyday choice to this day. Classic Canes crook and derby models are available in a variety of different colours and woods, including beech
. The coarser and hairier the tweed, the more rustic the stick should be to complement it: models with bark rather than polished surfaces are perfect.
Smooth-surfaced sticks such as beech derby canes
are ideal for smoother tweeds and a scorched-finish model produces a rich effect that also combines well with light and medium grey wool suits if worn with brown leather or suede shoes. Never a black stick with a tweed suit; these are more formal 'town' walking sticks and should only be worn with grey or navy wool suits with black shoes.
Gentlemen wishing to strike a characterful note may consider a collector's cane
with an animal or bird handle. The brown hare cane
pictured is a comfortable and popular choice; other suitable models include Aviator Duck
, with his comic flying goggles, fish
. These canes are part of a traditional dating back to Victorian times when such novelty canes acted as conversation pieces, allowing young ladies and gentlemen to strike up respectable conversations when out promenading.
On very rare occasions, it can rain in England in September. If the weather forecast is inclement and you are concerned for the well-being of your vintage hat and silk tie, you need a classic umbrella
to preserve your suave appearance. The more formal options include black canopies with a bamboo whangee handle
, acacia wood handle
or chrome-plated derby
handle. If your ensemble is more rustic, there are country tartan
or, very appropriately, racing green
umbrella canopies fitted with ash or hazel handles. These have extra-wide canopies, all the better for giving shelter and assistance to Dior-clad ladies.
The best-dressed racegoers are invited to a Best Dressed Competition every day of the Revival at 3pm. If you are chosen as a finalist, remember 'stick to camera' at all times, and please do send us a photograph so we can see how elegant you look with your Classic Canes cane! Opportunities to be really well dressed are few at the present time, so go for it and have fun!