In the world of fashion, seasons are created at least a year ahead and out of season; we are now showing summer amid winter. And does it matter, does anyone care? Is it perhaps a more joyous discovery to realise that you are one of a very few delighting in the unexpected joy of an empty beach, a warm patch of sunshine, a quiet street with a local café never before discovered in high season. This can the same be true for clothing and how does this off season travel get catered for.
Connolly sells clothes that work best in cold weather in the winter months and summer kit in the hotter weather of July and August. However, we always keep in reserve warm weather clothes for those of our customers who go to look for winter sun or who work in opposite hemispheres and those that like me, this Christmas, found myself on a green island in the Aegean with unexpectedly beautiful sunshine and water warm enough to dip into.
Thank goodness for a couple of extremely good pieces of Connolly lightweight merinos, suede trousers, and our new quilted lightweight coat, which worked through perfectly. From walking around on cold nights to sitting in the sun outside in a café at lunchtime. The perfect off season coat and wide enough to put a big chunky knit under when required but thin enough to take the chill off a walk by the sea in the sunshine.
I love that at Connolly now we have our long beach shirts, a drawer full of swimming trunks and lightweight merino sweaters in stock. And in the summer you can still find a mackintosh or a thick cardigan, in case you are living at the other end of the globe. Or, like me, going for New Year on Patmos, staying at our friends’ beautiful guest house ‘Pagostas' where we became part of the local life in a way we could never have found time for in high season.
I understood that the winter sunlight is more beautiful and illuminating, the peace is deeper, and the friendships formed stronger … maybe there is an intensity with off season travel a clarity that the tumble of holiday seasons don’t allow in the same way? Do we also buy summer pieces in the winter as part of the joy of things past or to come?
And as we sailed back across a starry calm sea to Athens I was reminded of that remarkable Albert Camus quotation:
‘In the depth of winter, I found in myself an invincible summer ….’
The optimistic shopkeeper must always be prepared for the off season traveller whose off season wardrobe choices might signify much more than a practical solution.