x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

French onion suit coming up

A Briton with a dark suit steels himself for Gallic raillery at a summer wedding on the Riviera.

The French enjoy mocking their British cousins (of whom I am one) for many things, including the wearing of dark winter suits at the height of summer. As utterly baffling as it sounds, the Gallic tradition involves rotating the colour and thickness of fabrics according to the season, presumably with the aim of avoiding embarrassing bouts of perspiration. Revolutionary, I know, but stick with me.

Some argue that the lack of a "real" summer in the UK renders the wearing of "summer" suits futile, but that's not the real reason British men buck the trend. Although summers on the little island tend do to offer plenty of rain, they're usually hot and humid too, and therefore equally deserving of lighter attire. Why bring-up this particular example of Anglo/French variance, you ask? Because in early July, this subject of the Queen will be attending a wedding in the sunny French Riviera; and all I have to wear are dark "winter" suits. Just call me rosbif now and have done with it.

Of course, there is the option of buying myself a summer suit specifically for the occasion. But why should I break with national protocol just because my friend has fallen in love with a French woman? What's more, my best suit was purchased only last summer (at no small expense) with the intention of being the go-to garment for all weddings and formal occasions in the subsequent years. The first time I wore it was at an August wedding in Dublin, where it performed superbly at protecting my skin from the hourly downpours.

The other benefit of wearing in summer a suit that's designed for the winter months, is that the wearer can have the immense pleasure of removing the jacket and rolling up the shirtsleeves. Why not even undo the top button too? It's this manoeuvre that reminds English males that it's warm outside. All this would be lost if boxes of seasonably-specific formal wear began arriving at Dover. We'll take your cuisine Frenchies, but you can keep those cream linen suits!

Buying a new, lighter, more Riviera-friendly suit might protect me from being pelted with onions by the bride's family, but it would also be like double-crossing an old friend. Why couldn't the groom have done the decent thing and made plans to marry a woman from a less summer-wear judgemental culture? There's only one thing for it - he'll just have to call the whole thing off.