Norton of Morton

Read a new instalment of Norton of Morton every Saturday at 4 o'clock

Saturday 9 January 2016

Style icon: Bertie Wooster

In which G.M. Norton gives a sartorial salute to Bertie Wooster.

After a busy day, I love nothing more than to curl up with a P.G. Wodehouse novel and enjoy the misadventures of Bertie Wooster and his indispensable valet, Jeeves.
My first experience of the Wodehouse stories came in the early '90s with the television adaptation, Jeeves and Wooster starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie respectively.

Last year, the complete DVD collection found its way into my possession and I’ve enjoyed the occasional episode thereafter. I’m pleased to report that in the last week, my beloved has well and truly caught the Jeeves and Wooster bug too. So much so that it has now become a routine to request a little Jeeves action each night before retiring to the bedchamber.

The television show, which is set in the 1930s, follows the exploits of wealthy wastrel Bertie Wooster. Every episode was far-fetched and gloriously silly, usually involving overbearing aunts, engagements that Bertie is trying to wriggle out of or favours for chums at the Drones Club. Whatever the pickle that Bertie gets himself into, Jeeves somehow comes to the rescue. A true gentleman's gentleman.

The casting of Hugh Laurie as the foppish Bertie and Stephen Fry as the poker-faced Jeeves was inspired. I simply can’t read the books without picturing them.

The period detail really is first class too. Of course, with an interest in clothing, I can't help but be in complete awe at Hugh Laurie's visual portrayal of Bertie. Or to give him his full name, Bertram Wilberforce Wooster.

What a chap! That's why he's the latest incumbent to my list of Style Icons. Insufficient pictorials were available on the World Wide Web so to help demonstrate Bertie's style credentials, I've used modern technology to transfer from television to electronic periodical. Do forgive if a little blurry in places.

Town attire

I mean, just look. It doesn't matter whether Bertie is pottering around at his beautifully furnished flat, parading around town or popping into the Drones Club for a lunchtime snifter. Bertie has a penchant for the double-breasted waistcoat. And just look at how sharp those lapels are. Like knives!

Country attire

Then there's his country clobber. It's no wonder he usually has a fine filly on his arm, the lucky blighter. Please note the leather strap running from his buttonhole to his breast pocket - a clever way of securing his pocket watch when not wearing a waistcoat.

Evening wear

One must always dress for dinner or when throwing cards into a top hat with the better element. Doesn't old Bertie look just the ticket? I'm not convinced that the fellow on the left agrees.

It is one thing for an aspiring gentleman to dress well in public, but the true mark of a stylish chap is how he presents himself in private. Pink and blue pyjamas are both in the rotation along with a natty dressing gown. Marvellous, perfect for sitting up in bed with a cup of tea.

Golf and croquet

I do wish modern-day golfers would consider cutting a dash across the golf course like Wooster. The more conservative Jeeves wasn't very impressed with Bertie's plus-sixes in the second and third pictorials. Can't think why! His weskit is sublime too.

Holiday wear

This is my absolute favourite ensemble. The classic navy blazer, paired with cream trousers, a white and blue striped tie and cream pocket square. Simple yet stylish. The hand-on-hip is a popular stance for Bertie.

So, is Bertie worthy of entry onto my Style Icons list? I should jolly well say so. Or as Jeeves would put it, “Indeed, Sir.”

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

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  1. Wonderful! I absolutely love Bertie Wooster and the TV programme :-D Excellent post! Lexie X

    1. Terribly kind, dear lady! Aside from his style, Bertie is such a good egg too. Always willing to help a chum and do the right thing.

  2. Can you believe I've never seen the television show?! I've read a couple of the books though, and they had me chuckling the whole way through. I'm going to keep an eye out for boxsets in the local charity shops x

    1. Keep an eye out on the television channels, I did spot some repeats quite recently. I just can't recall what channel! The books are truly wonderful, I always find myself in a fit of giggles too.

    2. You must see it! It's wonderful.

    3. I neglected to mention that Clive Exton, who you will know as the screenwriter for Poirot until his sad death. Exton was the person we have to thank for bringing Wodehouse's wonderful words to the old tellybox. So if you love Poirot, Jeeves & Wooster is essential viewing too.

  3. Oh, naturally, he's worthy.
    There's an image of a gentleman that takes care of his appearance all the time, and has a proper attire for ALL occasions.


    1. Quite so! Of course, the Wooster family fortune does help matters but Bertie carried it off with style and was quite forward-thinking.

  4. I love that programme so much.

    Of course, Jeeves doesn't share your view of all of Bertie's attire - white dinner jacket? Eton spats?... Though perhaps those details are what turn well-dressed into a style icon.

    1. Ah no, Jeeves was a lot more conservative than the young and experimental Bertie. I sometimes wish Bertie would have continued to defy him more. White mess jacket, various hats, even face shrubbery (I must admit to preferring him without).

  5. The 'white and blue striped tie' you mention is in fact the dark and light blue Old Etonian tie.

    Surely any 'chap' would know that..

    1. Afraid not, old pickle. But thanks for clearing up that mystery. Eton is actually quite un-chap like.


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