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The umbrella, a collapsible, portable protection from the rain, has a long and glorious past going back almost 2,500 years to ancient China. And yet it was still seen as a novelty when Parisians started to carry umbrellas in the 18th century. Attempts to introduce them to the English were greeted with ridicule or contempt but they eventually caught on, especially after a Victorian gentleman called Samuel Fox perfected the mechanism, allowing them to be tightly and elegantly furled.


The vest, as it is called in America, or waistcoat, as it is known in England (where a “vest” is an undershirt) was once an ornamental item. King Charles II was the first man of note to wear one, as recorded in the diary of Samuel Pepys for October 8, 1666. It became an essential part of a man’s outfit, always made of a different coloured fabric than his tailcoat and breeches and often sumptuously embroidered. A vest should always fit snugly but not tightly – many of them have a small buckled belt at the back to allow for slight fluctuations in girth. The bottom button should never be done up.