With the nights drawing in and the onset of a bitter winter, the golden summer of Scotland has long ended and a definite chill is in the air. Nowhere is this felt more than my palatial flat. Like all grand and historic edifices, the natural state of being is to have a cool but calm nip in the air - this isn't some box-roomed central-heated sleek and bland modern apartment with a flat-screened TV on every wall you know. It is also the case that I have a strong aversion to turning the heating on, which the cynic might claim is just me being cheap, but I would put hand on bleeding heart and say is my strong environmentalist drive to save our beloved Earth! The fact is, my quarterly electricity bill was only £90, and I was quite pleased with this. The PA is under strict orders not to turn any heaters on. I'd ban her hair-drier if I thought I could get away with it.
I digress. With winter with its foot in the door, and Scotland being officially the coldest place on Earth after Siberia during this period, and my refusal to use electricity, there needs to be a way to keep warm. I have a world-class duvet and, if I'm lucky, a high-class girl, but these are only good during the night. So how, you may wonder, does a gentleman stop from freezing when at home during the day? The answer is simple: housecoats.
As the name might suggest, a housecoat is a coat for indoor wear. If I'm at home, enjoying my leisure time, I don't want to be wearing some bulky outdoor jacket, perhaps soaked from the rain or blotted with the dirt of the streets. And so I instead wear a special jacket designed for the home, a snug, clean and stylish garment that has the flexibility and comfort to allow daily household activities.
Needless to say, a housecoat cannot be worn outdoors! How ridiculous. I'll pretend you didn't ask that.
I have a selection of housecoats, now eight in total (nine if you count the Gentleman's Yellow Housecoat, but it is currently out-of-action after an illicit yachting trip in Croatia, which blasted it with sea salt and red wine). This is not only for my consumption, but that of my guests, when they dare venture into my part of the city. Six of these housecoats are very recent purchases; realising winter was imminent, I stocked up. Years ago, when I lived in the castle, I had a collection of about twelve housecoats, but my uncle threw them all out while I was in Korea, and I was only able to save the two classic housecoats.
Anyway, I could ramble all day about housecoats - and my gentle friends have suffered enough already - so without further ado, here are some housecoat photos, because I know the modern attention span stretches only so far, and prefers pretty pictures over purple prose any day.
Part 1: The Gentlemen's Housecoats.
The following housecoats are designed for gentlemen. That's not to say that ladies cannot wear them, for my home is very modern in thinking, just that the fit is more suited to a muscular build.
1. The Classic Gentleman's Housecoat
This is the original gentleman's housecoat, passed on by my father over ten years ago. It has been with me through thick and thin, and has an elegance that matures with each passing year. Burgundy in colour and soft to the touch, it is truly a housecoat for all (indoor) occasions. It goes particularly well with cognac. A favourite with the guests - on the rare occasion I let them!
2. The Gentleman's Sturdy Brown Housecoat
If there could be a housecoat for the traditional worker, this is it. Quickly establishing itself as another favourite, this is a thick and warm housecoat, with a no-nonsense rough lustre. Too coarse for the particularly feminine, this is a housecoat for the man's man, and for someone like me, ideal attire after a hard day's graft.
3. The Metropolitan Gentleman's Housecoat
With its bold primary colour and trim fit, this is a housecoat for the modern sire, for the gentleman at home in the modern metropolis with all the new ideas that the last century has brought. Fashionable to "the max", the gentleman wearing this may fancy himself as quite the dandy!
4. The Original Tartan Gentleman's HousecoatBoldly and proudly proclaiming itself in Scotland's original tartan (designed by Robert The Bruce), this is a modern fitting housecoat with traditional roots. Snug to wear and smooth to touch, this is a housecoat that encapsulates the best of all centuries.
Part 2: The Ladies' Housecoats.
The following housecoats are designed for ladies. Of course, gentleman are very welcome to try them on - I do so myself often - but they may find them a little restrictive and imperfectly fitting. For these are housecoats specially designed to complement a lady's gentle, gracious curves.
1. The Classic Lady's Housecoat
The original lady's housecoat, in my possession now for over five years. Almost velvety to the touch, this is a dainty and petite housecoat for the dainty and petite lady - no housecoat for the burly man, as my photo demonstrates! With its dazzling buttons, housecoats don't come any more elegant, and like nothing else this housecoat can make a lady look a million dollars.
2. The Velvet Unisex Housecoat
A rare unisex housecoat, this currently occupies the lady's section of my housecoat rack due to its magnificent gold buttons and luxuriously soft velvet that catches the imagination of any lady, yet the easy fit and bold sense of style appeals equally to the gentleman. Truly, this is a soft and fuzzy housecoat with a royal shine.
3. The Riding Red Lady's Housecoat
A bold and bright housecoat originally designed for horse-riding ladies for when they came indoors fresh from the stables. These days, you don't need to have ridden a horse to maximise the utility and enjoyment of this smart housecoat, you simply need a healthy sense of what is indoors and what is out.
4. The Rustic Lady's Housecoat
A housecoat designed for the lady who loves the outdoors, and who loves taking a gentle stroll through the woods and fields, talking to the little lambs and kittens as she does so. Of course, an outdoor jacket would be required for that, but what better indoors but to wear a housecoat perfectly designed to remind of the outdoors? For this practical and tough housecoat is durable like the outdoors, and is good for all weather (as long as it stays indoors).
And there we have my eight currently-functioning housecoats, designed for all kinds of people, whether male or female, of good breeding or bad. As the skies grow darker, the world colder and especially as the credit crunch crushes and crashes and stretches all good folks' finances to a breaking point, I expect housecoats to catch on in a very big way, so if you, dear reader, are considering buying some of your own I would advise you not to hesitate, as you don't want to miss out and go cold over Christmas.