13 February 2009

The Friday Belt: Surcingle & Americano

I remember walking into Cordings the first time. With very little money but with some sense I thought, "This is what Ralph Lauren couldn't do on his best day." Not that Ralph ain't talented but Cordings is the real deal.

I really like surcingle belts. Cheap and colorful; it's obvious purpose is to hold up a pair of casual khakis, shorts or cords. I'll step out on a limb and admit I've worn a navy & red surcingle with a navy sack suit and bow tie. Rarely seen today but not so outrageous 40 years ago. You can find these belts anywhere but I've always preferred the non-elastic version at J. Press. They were $30 or so my last visit. Beautiful stripings and solids. They'll outlive me. Anyway, getting back to Cordings...I saw the belt above hanging all alone on a sale rack.

I thought, "Hey, surcingle belt. My size. Ten pounds. That's a no brainer, yeah."

It was wrapped carefully and slipped it into a Cordings bag. For a while that bag meant more to me than the belt. Until I learned of the belts's history. In the UK they call this a Regimental Belt. This one has the "Regimental" colors of the Black Watch. That's why I like to wear it with a Black Watch shirt or jacket. No one ever seems to notice...but me.


longwing said...

I've gotten a couple from Press, though not yet in a stripe. Maybe I'll give it a shot. The ones at O'Connells are the same I think, but a couple of dollars less.

What's got you thinking about London? Are you over there?

Richard said...

I love the belt, but what I find more interesting is the camel hair or cashmere striped tie you are wearing with your plaid shirt. Please, please post some full outfit photos so we can see the shirt, trousers, shoes and accessories. Anyway....great work!

heavy tweed jacket said...

Always look at those sale racks. Great belt and story. I had a navy sucingle on today, though not as snazzy as yours. Cheers, HTJ

ADG said...

Ah...Cordings. One of my first stops in London...after Bertie Wooster on Fulham Road. I remember my first trip to London a zillion years ago. I emerged from the tube stop at Green Park...sunny morning in June and within five minutes of the cab ride to my hotel, concluded that Ralph simply rode through England in the early 60's and was all full up on ideas for the launch of Polo.

I love Cordings moleskin and corduroy trousers...got a bunch of 'em. I also love the guy who put most of the dough into the syndicate that pulled them from the cusp of bankruptcy several years ago. He did so because he loves their stuff too. That would be Eric Clapton.

Belts...just got one in the mail today....seersucker D-Ring. Hurry springtime.

Richard said...


I realize this is off subject, but do you know or know anyone who might have the J Press promo code. I see two items that are on sale 25% but 70% with the code. If you can help, please let me know.


tintin said...

Richard- try, winter09

Richard said...

thanks tintin

porter hovey said...

Yes, totally perfection!!

Anonymous said...

Cordings = Regent Belt Co., Northampton. Both RL & some Lands' End (remember braided leather braces?) in the '80s. Probably still the maker of (some) RL belts embossed Made In England. Most of those would be bridle leather although that is now predominantly Itai. Polo Small Leather Goods was at one time a subsidiary of the Campaign Leather Co., based in the Virginia tidewater area, should you have any old Campaign branded leather goods. Worth a glance > www.regentbelt.co.uk (jg) (now, back to viewing the unfolding Great Decession 2.0 via the overnight Hang Seng/Nikkei slide.)

Laguna Beach Trad said...

Perfection. And I refer to the post, the belt, and the comments. Well done. Short and sweet. Glad to see another Cording's client. I shall spend at least part of my windfall from the Great Decession (I shorted it) on items such as this.

tintin said...

Another comment rejected that should not have been. This from jg

"P.S. Re Regent web site. Appears furin touristas navigating a fawn Morgan have become disoriented whilst motoring Plank Road. Orisit Will? P.P.S. Regent also marketed luggage and small leather goods. Nytol. (jg)"

Easy and Elegant Life said...

You can't go wrong with the belt. I remember the glory days when the belt would echo the watch strap, too. It was almost always Life Guards' (?) maroon and blue.

I'm sorry to see these belts fall out of fashion for the majority of the population. Truly stylish. But then, there is a certain portion of the population that knows that... keep up the good work.

Jonty F said...

Another day, another belt posting! They are known in the UK, traditionally, as stable belts. They first came into use around the late 1800's, for wear with shirt sleeve order, when OR's were in stable dress in hot climes - belts were seen as more dependable than cotton braces.
By the Great War, the fashion was established of wearing surcingle belts amongst most regiments and corps, and Indian tailors were starting to manufacture them in regimental colours - going back to the hotly debated German Heer belt topic, it became common to stud the belt with cap badges and buttons taken from enemy prisoners or from other regiments within a soldiers division.
Their heyday came in the late 40's and early 50's, as a means of smartening up the very unsoldierly BD uniform (especially as rubber rationing meant that braces were once again rendered next to useless) - senior NCO's would 'recycle' shoulder belt plates as buckles, a practice that was officially sanctioned by many regiments, with the issue of sta-bright plates, into which a cap badge could be inserted.
They also acted as a delineating between a regular and the much put upon National Service conscript.

Keep up the good work!


Jonty F

tintin said...

Jonty F,
Many thanks for the background. I live for reader comments but you've made my year with this. Simply amazing.

I remember seeing the larger belts with khaki uniforms when I was in the Army. That splash of color and the width was striking.

Jonty F said...

Still worn today, with barracks dress - in warm weather, through the nasty polyester Soldier 95 trousers and cold weather, over the equally nasty Pakistan model ribbed sweater.
The main reason, in my opinion, that they were officially approved, was because the Battle Dress uniform, which rendered over night the British Army into a Maoist mass of khaki, did away with so many of the regimental distinctions which had carried on for generations - the silk queue flashes of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the button spacings of the Guards regiments. Stable belts were one way in retaining regimental identity...if you are going to wear one in the UK fashion, they were traditionally worn, Elvis fashion, with the buckle or strap to the side, to make it easier to bend.

Mightily digging them Bean boots by the way - yet more snow in Blighty and my Paraboots are proving to be next to useless

tintin said...

Jonty- Thanks to you my Friday Belts this week will be Stable Belts and Single Malts. Cheers. Many thanks for all the insight and details. I aologise for an earlier sign off as the Bellhop. I thought you were someone I know but there's no way he'd know any of this.

US Army boots were lousy in the cold. I bought a pr of Hermann Survivors to wear in the field on winter exercizes. Toasty but no idea if they are still made. Those Beans are good for an hour or two but after that - - even with decent insoles - -they'll turn your toes to ice.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Hello Gentlemen,
Having just spent a good few hours outside shoveling the walk and playing with the kids, I can attest to the functionality of the Sorel boot. Not pretty, but warm, waterproof and comfortable. Especially with a pair of merino boot socks.

I have this same issue with slippers. If only Belgians were lined with suede or something. Until then, it's cashmere socks and replace once a season.

Jonty F said...

A pleasure to be of service to an Ivyiste of such standing!
In the early days of the internet, I got talking to a Taiwanese guy who was forming a 101st Airborne reenactment group (!) - one day I check my post, and find he has mailed me a pair of deadstock brown boot Corcoran's, complete with leather bootlaces, free, gratis and for nothing. He had been using them to make copies from...too big for Taiwanese feet, but they could have been tailor made for me. I wore them once but even with half a bottle of my ex-wife's Coach leather cream, they were like iron.
Paraboots? I will refrain from comments about France as a warrior nation, but they are abysmal and must have had some part to play the fall of Indo-Chine.

tintin said...

Jonty- I wore Corcorans in the jungles of Panama. Once. A nice boot for parades and bloused with khakis strolling to the XVIII Abn Corps NCO club but that's about it.

I saw the Paraboot at Brooks on Madison. They look interesting and I always assumed they were well made.

Easy- We missed out on the snow. Not much here in NYC except for the 1st day. Still, nice to break out the Bean boots for a romp. I always liked Sorels but never pulled the trigger on a pr. Just used the Beans.