The shooting season
September is a month of change: the nights draw nearer, children return to school, and linen is swapped for tweed and cashmere. As summer morphs to a bundle of happy, rose-drenched memories, we wonder whether the winter wardrobe has survived moth attacks. And whether our waistlines have survived that fifth Baklava in Corfu.
It’s a glorious time, defined – for many – by the beginning of the shooting season. Whilst a lucky few have already stomped around a northern hill in pursuit of the regal Grouse, for most of the 600,000 of us that shoot the sporting season begins with Partridges in September.
Thousands of French, and the occasional English, Partridges lurk in bushels and hedges all across the UK. Keepers plan their first days in minute detail. Spaniels increase the intensity of their way, sensing something’s up. The young boy who will be shooting for the first time falls asleep, thinking of nothing but that first day.
It’s a truly magical time.
In reality shooting is somewhat irrelevant to a truly special day. The best days don’t focus on the birds but on the company, the lunch and the endless banter that invariably mingles with such a spectacular event. Increasingly fashion is becoming an important element. Being smart was always critical, but – when you can be sitting by a hedge for an hour in the pouring rain – style has to be matched by comfort and practicality.
‘Plus Fours’, the quarter-length tweed trousers worn by almost any shot in the UK, are an example of this. They might not be the most stylish – but they allow for a boot to be worn, with woollen socks, helping keep us all dry. Similarly, many guns wear ties – not just to be smart, but to keep their necks dry.
Perhaps the most important garment in any keen shot’s wardrobe is the coat. Traditionally fashioned from tweed, the older varieties were thick and heavy. Yes, they kept you dry but the stench at the end of a wet day was incomparable. Swinging your arms – so important for shooting – was near impossible. Modern varieties are far superior, incorporating new fabrics into the tweed and taking advantage of better tailoring. Simply, come rain or shine, nothing beats a beautifully tailored hand-made tweed suit, created from sensibly weighted cloth.
It is now the Ladies, though, that are dominating the fashion stakes on the shooting field. As more women become involved as shots, pickers up or beaters – designers have responded. Whilst ‘country style’ might not itself be new, the role it is playing in the industry has never been as big. Indeed, The Telegraph recently launched a Country Style column, spearheaded by Lady Alice Manners. Lady Alice notes that mainstream designers are taking the country influence to the catwalks of the city, whilst also providing an array of chic but suitable clothing for the field. All of which is contributing to the £2 billion that shooting is worth to the UK economy.
Whilst you can’t guarantee the weather, the company or the lunch you can always rely on Huntsman to keep you both comfortable and smart on the shooting field. Whether it’s a walked up day in Gloucestershire or a partridge spectacular in Yorkshire, ensure you’re the best dressed. Then get some shooting lessons.
Copy by Archie Manners. Archie Manners is a magician working in London and across the world, performing on Television and at a series of exclusive private parties. For more information, visit www.archiemanners.com