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The Pleasure of Waxing One's Jacket
Simon de Burton discovers the meditative pleasure of applying wax to one's outerwear
'Waxing' means different things to different people. To those in the beauty biz, it might refer to the potentially painful process of depilation; to surf dudes, it's all about the black art of making your board more grippy; and to car enthusiasts, it's more to do with bringing a water-resistant gleam to their pride and joy.
But when it comes to Belstaff aficionados, 'waxing' means only one thing: the deliciously satisfying, humid-aired, oil-perfumed act of re-proofing your waxed cotton jacket to ensure another season or two of sterling service against the elements.
Indeed, many a Belstaff wearer regards it as something of a treat to bring a well-used Trialmaster jacket into the warmth of the kitchen on a cold winter's night, spread it out on the table and lovingly brush it clean. Next, gently prize the lid from a tin of Belstaff re-proofing wax and stand it in a pan of warm water - not for too long, though; just until it's soft, creamy.
Then, starting with the seams, work the 'wonder wax' into the stitching before applying it to the rest of the jacket. Take your time. It's a ritual, not a rush - something to be done, perhaps, with a good single malt to hand.
Once the seams are sealed, it's time to move on to the front, back, collar and belt - making sure everything is thoroughly dosed. Perhaps a little brittle before the start of the treatment, your jacket now feels soft, pliable. Just like it used to. Just like it should.
And then comes the best bit: the joy of gently buffing the wax with a bristle brush to induce a bloom that has become synonymous with a well-loved Belstaff jacket for more than 80 years. It might look retro, 'antiqued', vintage - call it what you will - but the glow of a freshly proofed Belstaff represents an insurance against the weather, a natural defence that has been tried and tested for decades.
And, like a well-loved, well-polished piece of furniture, a Belstaff jacket builds up a patina of age that more conventional garments simply don't. They just start to look old.
But wax your Belstaff well and often and you'll likely receive ever-more favourable comments on its appearance.
Be careful, though, not to take it too seriously: it's said, for example, that Hollywood legend Steve McQueen once cancelled a date with his future wife, Love Story star Ali MacGraw, because his Trialmaster jacket needed a 'service'.
Had he been more of a romantic, perhaps he would have asked her to join him for an evening's waxing. After all, there's a definite element of romance in the process.
Even if it is as likely to be directed as much towards one's jacket as to one's lady…
Simon de Burton writes for Esquire and the Financial Times