Dressing For Speed

Dressing For Speed

A tailor's approach to the Goodwood Revival

The good old boys of the Revival

Can you hear the distant throaty thrum of engines, smell the fiery fumes, and feel the almighty rumble beneath your feet? This all spells one thing: Goodwood beckons.

The Duke of Richmond’s estate in West Sussex hosts annual motor racing events where owners and enthusiasts come to soak in the atmosphere of speed and decadence, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of the circuit.

Both the Festival of Speed (13th-16th of July) and the Goodwood Revival (8th-10th of September) are thrilling for the senses, but the revival is particularly special due to the fact that guests cavort around the paddock in vintage clothing.
We’re not talking about 80s shoulder pads and 90s rave gear - think Harris Tweed in every shade and pattern imaginable, baker boy hats, victory roll hairdos, Oxford bags and Jodhpurs. This unspoilt field in England becomes one big dress-up party for anyone with a penchant for 1940s, 50s, and 60s countrywear. 

Doreen Evans racing in the 1930s

The issue that arises when attending the Goodwood Revival is how to dress in period-appropriate attire without looking like one has stumbled out of a fancy dress shop. Dusting off grandpa’s moth-eaten and lumpy tweed suit from the attic is the usual route people take, but there are other ways to go about it. So, in honour of Goodwood’s great confluence of fine automobiles and fine clothing (this author’s two favourite things), let us explore a few options for Goodwood that will prove stylish and wearable long into one’s racing career.

Speed knows no age

The first route is to take inspiration from some of Hollywood’s fastest men. Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and James Dean may all have been actors, but they’ve also gone down in history as some of Hollywood’s most stylish petrolheads. Ask any menswear obsessive and they’ll cite these fellas as inspiration.

Paul Newman making overalls look as sharp as a tuxedo

Paul Newman wasn’t just a dashingly good-looking star of the silver screen, but also a rather successful racing driver in his own right. Alongside his film career, Newman frequently raced in international racing circuits, finished 2nd in the 1979 Le Mans 24 hour race, and even owned a few racing teams that bore his name. 

Preppy, casual, cool as hell
Now, ideally you’d have some 1960s racing overalls lying around, preferably with vintage Datsun and Canon sponsorship all over them, but that is less than likely. Etsy and eBay are full of great vintage pieces, but if full-on boiler suits seem like a stretch in the English “summer”, why not take inspiration from Newman’s casual wardrobe?
As well as his overalls and his tailoring, Newman was a master of off-duty casualwear, favouring the preppy Ivy League style. Try the simple pairing of a short, boxy sweatshirt with our soft
white club collar shirt underneath, straight denim with short turnups, and tennis shoes with sparkling new white socks on show. As always, the devil is in the details: make sure that hair is well pomaded.

Steve McQueen on the set of Le Mans (1971). Tailoring not required.
Steve McQueen once said “Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting”, and it’s likely that many members of the Goodwood Road Racing Club would agree with that sentiment. McQueen starred in the 1971 film Le Mans, but the King of Cool almost competed in the actual Le Mans 24 Hour race that same year. 

The King of Cool and his ‘66 Jaguar XKSS “Green Rat”

The McQueen style takes Paul Newman’s preppy casual look and builds upon it. Replace the straight-leg denim with some tapered trousers in an earthy cotton such as Drapers Cotton Deluxe or W.Bill Pure Cottons.

Cotton Deluxe by Drapers

Swap the tennis shoes for some desert boots; McQueen’s choice was the suede Chukka “Playboy” boot made by Sanders. And for the jacket, either go all out with a black leather flight jacket à la The Great Escape, or slip a wool jacket over your sweatshirt. Instead of the traditional tweed jacket, which can be hot and scratchy, another option would be a lightweight wool from Fox Brothers.

Fox Jacketing by Fox Brothers

We’ve recently acquired several bunches from the prestigious Somerset clothier, and both the Sports Jacketing and Fox Jacketing bunches would be ideal choices owing to their luxurious softness and breadth of plaid and houndstooth variations. Opting for less structuring than traditional suit jackets means you’ll have a light wool jacket you can slip over a sweatshirt, or sling over your shoulder.

James Dean sitting in "Little Bastard" 

The film that put James Dean on the map was Rebel Without A Cause, a film that popularised the red Harrington/white tee/blue denim combination for a whole new generation of angsty teens. It also features an iconic car chase that ends in death, a fate that unfortunately befell Dean at the tender age of twenty-four. Nevertheless, Dean would forever be remembered as both a style icon and a motoring fanatic. 

Dean just being effortlessly cool, leaning against a Porsche 356 speedster

The red Harrington from Rebel Without a Cause is undoubtedly a classic piece of kit, but one that is perhaps a little overused by those who move in vintage circles. If you’re looking for something equally as classic, equally as casual, but with more of a tailored edge, may we suggest a good old bomber jacket. Our moleskin bombers are made-to-measure, giving you the perfect fit in whatever colour you choose, be it Rebel red or British Racing Green.

The perennial Kipper & Chalk bomber

Of course, if one is opting for the full-on vintage style then a made-to-measure suit is always going to be a solid bet. With something made-to-measure or bespoke, you can opt for details that can ensure a bit of vintage flair, such as brace buttons, single or double pleated trousers with turnups, an ornamental ticket pocket on the jacket, etc.

Some solid vintage vibes from these chaps

For a hefty traditional three piece, allow this author to suggest something from the Dugdale White Rose Caldonaire bunch, or perhaps the Standeven Heritage Twist. High-waisted trousers with a pleat and turnups certainly wouldn’t be out of place in the days of yesteryear.

Heritage Twist by Standeven

Another route would be a double-breasted jacket with extra wide lapels, maybe in a sumptuous brown plaid from Bateman Ogden’s Bespoke Flannel. Pair any of these options with some subtly gaudy socks from Pantherella, a lavish Escorial wool hat from Lock & Co., and of course if you need pocket squares and ties we have you covered.

A Kipper & Chalk original

Whatever you decide to wear, rest assured that by the end of the weekend you will be lightly tarnished with dust and maybe a little oil, you’ll be smelling faintly of leaded fuel and testosterone, and your ears will be ringing from the sound of this loving ode to internal combustion. 



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