I’m not a terribly sporting chap, so the second a sport gleans an association with some sartorial swagger my interest in it peaks sharply. Hence why the notion of Cricket whites is so intriguing; think about it for a moment. Heavy wool flannel trousers, a cable knit woollen jumper and long sleeved shirt – all in cream or white (the bane of muddy smears and grass stains) and all in the heat of summer – could a more impractical and arguably uncomfortable dress code have been established for the fair pastime of cricket? I suspect not.
But it is that sheer eccentricity which is perhaps the most appealing aspect of such fatuous attire. It speaks of the age-old British association with propriety and gentlemanliness – to which this fine publication aspires. A gentleman must be attired appropriately to be allowed to partake of the sport and he must look proper whilst doing it – regardless of practicality or comfort. A lack of interest in that which is practical is self evident from the sport’s insistence on retaining white or cream cricket trousers, a garment which is traditionally cut in a pure worsted flannel – a cloth more readily associated with winter, given its dense, milled finish and the necessity of weaving it into relatively dense, winter weight fabrics.
Ridiculous though this may seem, there is however some tailoring science behind this. White of course does well in the heat, as does good quality flannel. Even though its soft and lustrous texture is more readily associated with insulating properties, flannels are often woven with a slightly open weave, which allows the cloth to breath. Similarly, wool makes for the ideal sporting fibre; combining crease resistance, durability and natural stretch. Equally, wool is a great absorber of moisture, holding up to thirty six percent of its own weight in moisture before it starts to feel physically damp – it can act as a great perspiration-wicking material.
And I’m pleased to report that it is still possible to get your hands on the real thing. The Merchant Fox (the trading arm of the illustrious Fox Bros mill in Somerset), famous for its West of England flannel, can proudly claim to be one of the original producers of white worsted cricket flannel trousering cloth. This very same cloth is still woven by the mill today, and available to buy made-up into their beautiful high-waisted cricketing trousers, available to view on the Merchant Fox website. Like all great white trousers, pair with classic and crisp pale blue or navy Bengal striped shirting, suede loafers and a lightweight summer blazer and you’ll be scoring a sartorial six wherever you choose to tread. Whether or not you should choose to play cricket in them, I’ll leave that for you to decide.