We all have our style heroes, most of whom have been immortalised in black and white images from the golden era of Hollywood; the likes of Cary Grant, James Dean and Steve McQueen are constant reference material when it comes to timeless style. It had never occurred to me then, that one of our own great British gardeners could give these style icons a run for their money.
After watching last week’s BBC Paradise Gardens (if you haven’t seen it yet I urge you too) the affable presenter Monty Don pulled off this summer’s workwear look with aplomb, and stamped his style onto my consciousness. Monty’s tonal blue outfits could not have looked better in the searing heat against the succulent rich green gardens. As he strode statesman-like amongst the terracotta pots and perfectly irrigated water features, it dawned on me: this most prolific of gardeners has always worn blue. Full head-to-toe outfits. For over the last two decades. Check it out, that’s dedication to owning your style.
He’s proclaimed his favourite jacket is from Paul Smith, bought twenty years ago on Floral Street and still going strong. There are even online forums about where Monty gets his blue outfits, and they are not all garden-loving housewives. Of course, the Don’s choice of clothes is probably based on pure comfort and practicality, rather than the latest trends parading down the international catwalks, but at the end of the day that’s surely what we’re all searching for.
His workwear jackets with handy pockets for packets of seeds and string. The aerated linen shirts billowing against the setting sun. Hardy cotton drill trousers that only get better with age. His printed scarf is less of an affectation, but a practical mopping cloth to brush away the beads of sweat from hard days of toil. This pleases my wife greatly, who considers Monty a bit of hero, although probably for different reasons than my own. She’s more than delighted that I’ll be adopting the Monty motto of full blue work wear outfits come the warmer months. To give you a head start, here are our five top blue pieces to get you looking the full Monty this spring.
1. Albam navy work jacket
British brand Albam, who celebrate their 10th anniversary this year, made their name on creating great workwear-inspired pieces. This garment-dyed work jacket is a perfect example. Crafted in a rugged cotton twill, it’s a great year round jacket for layering, as I’m sure Monty could testify. Inspired by the traditional four pocket workwear styles, it’s been updated with a press stud fastening. Wear this now with a fine roll neck and a pair of navy loose cut corduroy trousers, and as the weather warms up with a Breton stripe Tee and a pair of navy slim cotton chinos. £159, shop now
2. Oliver Spencer artist’s jacket
Another British brand that goes big on workwear style is Oliver Spencer. One of the brand’s smart ideas is to make the majority of its collections trans-seasonal, so you can layer up or co-ordinate according to your individual style and seasonal weather changes. This artist jacket is a case in point: lightweight enough for summer, it can also be layered under a winter coat now. What’s more, the deep rich tone of the Kildale indigo rinse cotton has a super soft finish. So far, so Monty. Over time the jacket moulds to the wearer’s body and it fades beautifully, just like any good workwear jacket should. Wear yours with a chambray collarless shirt and a pair of washed indigo denim jeans. £295, shop now
3. Drakes printed modal, cashmere and silk bend scarf
No Monty look would be complete without the trusted scarf, and this example from British made Drakes works effortlessly with the multi-layered blue tones. The cashmere-silk mix makes it light enough to work with cotton and linen, and the cashmere ups the luxe ante for any serious gardener. Although we wouldn’t suggest using this as a face wipe or to clean any muddied hands. The white printed pattern also gives just enough contrast to your otherwise full blue ensemble. £165, shop now
4. J.W Brine Austin cropped trousers
Every now and then you come across a newly discovered brand so good that you wonder why it’s never been on your radar. J.W Brine is one of those lucky finds. This Italian company began in 1984 in a marble studio in Carrara, and you can imagine its work force really understand the benefits of bona fide workwear. These Austin cobalt-blue trousers are crafted in Italy and they should be your go-to blue pair this summer. Their durability is an obvious bonus, but they will also keep their neat shape. They’re cut to a mid-rise and fall to loose, straight legs with slanted front pockets. The slight crop on the length makes them great for those sockless days. Just make sure you have sufficiently tanned feet to do them justice. £145, shop now
5. Barena slub linen shirt
If any one item epitomises the Monty Don look, it’s an overhead washed blue cotton shirt. Also, if reading the forums online is anything to go by, this is the one item that Monty fans are constantly trying to track down. This slub linen example from Barena has nailed the style, offering the same attention to softness and fluidity found in the brand’s tailoring, but with all the ease and wearability of your favourite casual shirt. The half-placket style has been made in the label’s native Italy, and the slub linen adds some nice textural detail, important when layering up total blue outfits. The back features a box pleat and the side slits make for both ease of movement and easy access to your trouser pockets. £130, shop now