The Gentleman’s Style Icon: Bertie Wooster

The Gentleman loves a good dandy. Though he himself is a hard-working law student, he dreams of a life of leisure where he has nothing more to do than drink cocktails, gallivant across the countryside and get involved in minor misadventures with his chums. Fortunately, The Gentleman can do all of this by living vicariously through the comic tales of Bertie Wooster.

The Jeeves and Wooster characters were created by British humorist P. G. Wodehouse in 1915 and would be featured in countless stories throughout the author’s long career until his death in 1974. In the early 1990s, Bertie Wooster was famously portrayed by English actor Hugh Laurie, best known in the United States for his portrayal of Dr. House. Throughout both the stories and the television series, Bertie Wooster is a lively bachelor fond of leisure and prone to getting into trouble. He is nearly always rescued from his comic pitfalls by his wise valet (similar to a butler) and best friend, Jeeves, played in the television series by comedian Stephen Fry.

In Hugh Laurie’s version of the Jeeves and Wooster stories, Bertie is always impeccably dressed, as any dandy should be.

Bertie lives in a world that appears to continue perpetually in the late 1920s, and his clothing choices reflect that. Bertie has a penchant for three piece suits with rare double breasted waistcoats. One such example can be seen here:

My favorite Wooster outfits are his tweeds and plaids. Bertie is a minor aristocrat, and as such, is expected to dress according following conservative rules of etiquette. His suits are often understated grays and browns, but he always finds a way to add a bit of roguish charm to match his ever present smirk.

Here Bertie is wearing a brown Harris tweed jacket, but he complements it with a loud yellow checkered vest and a slim plaid red tie. It’s a great layered look.

When Bertie goes golfing, he certainly feels free to indulge his sartorial creativity. His yellow vest and red plaid tie remain, but this time he’s added a pair of olive “glen plaid” trousers tucked into his orange socks. In this episode, Jeeves actually objected to this outfit, thinking it a bit too loud, but The Gentleman thinks that it is wonderful. Today’s fashion world is fixed on slim cut clothing for men, but there’s something to be said for wide cut trousers. When done right, they can add a devil-may-care charm.

What I like best about Hugh Laurie’s take on Bertie Wooster’s dress is that he is always impeccably stylish but looks like he barely gave it any thought. Maybe he was a bit hungover from a night of carousing and just threw that yellow vest on… and yet it always works. The Gentleman aspires to such ease of dressing.

I chose Bertie Wooster to be this week’s style icon because it seems that autumn has decided to arrive in many parts of the country. There was a chill breeze in the air down here in New Orleans, and I hear that it isn’t getting above the high fifties in New York. For The Gentleman, this means that it’s time to bring out the plaids, tweeds, and red and orange ties. Bertie always pulls off those colors so well, so he seemed like a good introduction to the season.

If you want to read more about Jeeves and Wooster, pick up a copy of the first volume of P. G. Wodehouse’s stories featuring the characters, Carry On, Jeeves. Also, be sure to check out the Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry television series. The stories and the show complement each other and are guaranteed to put you in a good mood.

Next week, inspired by Bertie, the Gentleman has thrifted a new tweed sport coat. Watch the “before and after” as he shows how essential alterations are for thrifted clothing…


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