Trousseau (from Fr. trousseau, originally “a bundle”, n. pl. trousseaux). Traditionally, a trousseau is the outfit of the bride, including the wedding dress. From Victorian times till today, the trousseau also has consisted of brand-new outfits to see a woman through her wedding, honeymoon, and newlywed days. But let’s not forget the groom . . .
We went to London last weekend to complete Steve’s trousseau. Steve had already bought a beautiful grey wool morning suit from Lugets, Exeter’s oldest independent retailer established prior to the Battle of Waterloo. He had thought of merely renting one for the occasion, but this fine suit will do double or even triple duty at Ascot or the Queen’s Garden Party (apparently the only other places that a man can wear a grey morning suit – according to their sales person extraordinaire Justin).
The outfit was accompanied by a jacket that transformed it from morning suit to lounge or business suit at the drop of a hat. And so, wearing the jacket in order to gauge the suitability of other clothes, we boarded a train and headed for the smart end of London town.
Our destination was Piccadilly Arcade, just off of Jermyn Street in London’s West End. Our quarry: a waistcoat, tie, shirt and shoes.
Of course, there are other places where you can find these things. But, probably, not quite so many. Not quite of such good quality. And not all within a stone’s throw of each other.
The first order of the day was to find a waistcoat. Something wonderful in ivory to go with Melinda’s dress. We’d already looked online and found a shop that we had visited once before and been impressed by their array of fine waistcoats. But, memory can deceive and the computer screen can lie and our first choice of shop was a disappointment. Racks of waistcoats and a selection of styles, but none of them quite matching the dream that we carried with us to compare against the real thing.
And so we found ourselves a few doors up the arcade at Neal and Palmer.
Wow! This shop was a veritable cornucopia of waistcoats in every hue and pattern imaginable.
The waistcoat we had imagined was there. Just hanging on a rack alongside it’s fellow ivory waistcoats, waiting nonchalantly – as only a good waistcoat can – for us to wander through the door.
Ivory, with roses embroidered upon it. A good fit too, although not perfect. And so, having fallen for the cloth, we took up the offer of having a waistcoat tailor made.
While Steve was being measured around his waist, across his shoulders and down the length of his back, Melinda carefully arranged the suit jacket, show waistcoat and an ivory tie for a photograph. Around this point, another customer walked in to make some obscure but lengthy point about a wedding being delayed because of volcanic ash and asking for wedding suits to be similarly delayed.
A lot of distraction, in other words. So, when the sales assistant asked Steve if he’d like to buy the tie along with the waistcoat, Steve simply proffered his card and paid for both. It was only a week or so later that Steve realised he’d bought a £48 tie.
But, said Steve, what the heck. It’s a beautiful tie and it will look great on all of our next 48 (and more) anniversaries. £1 a time, or less depending on future usage, makes it a bargain.
Next came the shirt. We found it less than 100 yards away, at Harvie & Hudson, in Jermyn Street. Actually, we found three shirts. Two white ones, one for the civil wedding ceremony and one for the soul wedding ceremony, and a blue one to go on honeymoon and be worn with Steve’s ivory linen suit, possibly to a concert of chamber music under the stars in the garden of an Italian villa.