Some Ventiles, pt. 1

The new navy blue car coat fits like a tent. But not just any tent: the sort of tent pitched up at the South Pole by none other than the the British Antarctic Survey. Made from the same cloth, see: heavy Ventile cotton.

Some Ventiles, it turns out, are thicker than others. Now, your regular Ventile — it is very fine stuff, and tent-weight Ventile is much the same. Has the same structure, the same crisp finish, the same trademark balance of water-repellency and breathability. Where it differs is in its weight: it is heftier and denser than its civilian-weight counterpart. It is intended really only for extreme weather conditions — hence it being favoured by penguin-botherers at the rear-end of the world. And, the thinking goes that, if it keeps them warm and dry, right down there, then it can do the same for the rest of us, up here.

Navy blue Ventile car coat with linen Kelly collar shirt, and navy blue linen SB3 and trousers.

There are other reasons why this type of Ventile is suited well for the car coat. A shell, in a sense, is what a good car coat should be; worn over whatever else, within reason, you wear, to shield elements with neither bulk nor burden. It needs heft for its collar to sit cleanly over one or more other collars; it needs weight to drape without friction over, say, shirt plus jacket; it needs room to provide range full and unimpeded when moving forward or up for, say, that last patch of hand-rail on the train. It needs to hold its own.

This tent-grade Ventile holds its own, and is yet, at the same time, rather a lightweight. How this is so — well, you would need to ask its weavers. But the coat, this year, is even lighter than last year: it is intended to hang almost imperceptably on the body, with its weight borne only and equally by the shoulders, with no drag on the bottom of the neck.

The old saying about the one-piece sleeve — which is what the coat has — is that, while it is the most easy sleeve to make — the clue is in “one-piece” part — it is the most hard to cut, being as it is a fine balancing act between the pitch of the sleeves and the balance, front and back, of the body. This is why, these days, the one-piece is so seldom seen. But get it right and it’s good to have around: it makes a coat more commodious than it’d be otherwise. An accommodating thing, then, the navy Ventile car coat. Just like a tent, see.