It's true that there is a lot of vacuous fashion writing out there, but there is some brilliant fashion journalism too, usually by people who've been around the block, like Lisa Armstrong at the Times whom I first met 20 years ago when she was working on Elle. And here she is, explaining the origins of British style (also taking in class, necessarily, this being Britain):
No discussion of Britain’s sartorial tics proceeds very far before it collides with a cloud front, a rainstorm and the occasional heatwave. The weather doesn’t merely affect the way we dress, it defines it. It may be no exaggeration to say that most of the enduring wardrobe components this country has given to the world – the trench coat, the argyle sweater, the cashmere twinset, the wellington, the sprigged tea dress – arose from a need to combat the elements. As for our other great contribution, thank 1,000 years of military doggedness. Savile Row tailoring wouldn’t exist without Army uniforms. Without tailoring there would be no mods, no Vivienne Westwood, no easily definable system for telegraphing one’s class. Punks wouldn’t have looked nearly so sharp.
Pragmatism may be the fundamental principle on which British style is built. A country which for centuries had no equivalent of la passeggiata, that evening parade in Mediterranean and Latin countries in which beautifully turned-out people stroll along the balmy streets, found more idiosyncratic ways to communicate its sense of chic. Layers, that stand-by of the draughty British home, are something at which we excel, and a habit the rest of the world now emulates, thanks to avatars such as Kate Moss and brands such as Burberry, which took the haphazard approach of chucking on any old ropey jumper over a summer dress, over a pair of woolly tights, and made it look chic and luxurious. Lo, modern eclecticism was born.