“Oh, Jeeves,’ I said; ‘about that check suit.’
Is it really a frost?’
A trifle too bizarre, sir, in my opinion.’
But lots of fellows have asked me who my tailor is.’
Doubtless in order to avoid him, sir.’
He’s supposed to be one of the best men in London.’
I am saying nothing against his moral character, sir.”
― P.G. Wodehouse
Are you ready to be introduced to one of the gems of London? Walk with me, minions, I have things to show you!
Welcome to 282 Portobello Road, a vintage shop specializing in British heritage clothing, especially tweed and leather. Though on the same road as the famous market, it is open every business day, and I really believe that every classic clothing enthusiast should look in if they ever get the chance. The clothing sold there spans the 20th century, with a particularly emphasis on the country gentleman. Last Saturday Jeff and I hit up the market for some grocery shopping and, as always to see what treasure we could find (more on that another day, because we found some great stuff!). When I mentioned this shop, he immediately wanted to have a look. A proper tweed jacket has been on his To Buy list for a while – and let me tell you there is absolutely no other place to go!
Vintage Barbours and Burberry trenches, beaver top hats, and furs take up whole walls in the place, and beautifully worn leather boots march all over the floors. The smell is amazing, woody and wooly at the same time, and you’re permitted if not actively encouraged to touch and handle the wares. Jeff found exactly what he was looking for, and at a fabulous price!
The owner, Claudia, is an absolute delight to talk to! She’s one of those people who is so unabashedly enthusiastic about what they do and love that you can’t help being infected by it. She chats with everyone who steps in as if they are old friends, knows your size just by looking at you, and encourages you to try on anything that catches your eye. The Saturday I took Jeff she was talking to patrons about how she had been invited to Paris Fashion week, so when I went to pick up his jacket I asked her how it had been. She immediately gave me a whole run down of the couture shows she went to, the fashionista watching she did, and the Bohemians she and her friend bonded with in Monmarte. She even whipped out her phone to show me the beautiful 1930′s gown she wore (part of her private collection and not for sale).
All of her tweeds are heritage, made entirely in Britain (many in Scotland) and dyed with natural dyes instead of chemicals. She can even tell you where many of the cloths came from originally since almost every single one of the old tweed factories is now long out of business. They even offer tailoring at no additional charge – Jeff needed the sleeves lengthened.
I know exactly where I’m going to get my own ladies’ tweed jacket (on my own To Buy list), and my next pair of boots. One of best aspects of quality vintage clothing is how well some of it holds up. I peered through riding boots that are decades old but look and feel more solid and better than half of what I could find new at a store for the same price. In addition to outerwear, which is clearly one of the main themes of the shop, Claudia stocks some incredible, fun period pieces as well.
So, when you’re next in town and looking to add a bit of traditional British gentility to your wardrobe, I’ll take you to meet Claudia before we go to tea in our new tweeds.