I hope Kate Middleton is taking her folic acid. She needs to get right on it, because once she’s done her I Do on April 29th she has only one purpose in life and that’s to procreate.
Her vocation is no longer to sell personalised party balloons on her parents’ website, but to produce at least two sons. The Heir and a Spare.
I love that phrase. It’s from the same school of posh British pragmatic wit as Hatch, Match and Despatch, meaning birth, marriage and death, the three main things upper middle class people are supposed to take seriously.
It goes like this. Hatch: being born the heir to something substantial, and then producing your own heir. Match: marrying first yourself and then them off appropriately. Despatch: inheriting the goods and property and then passing it on efficiently, rather than just as a horrendous tax bill.
It’s almost Sicilian in its efficiency of keeping it in the family. The last thing you want is some frightful mess with it all disappearing off to a dodgy distant third cousin who went to the wrong school, or a gold digger bride. So you need an Heir and a Spare for efficient Hatch, Match and Despatch. Shall we play sardines? Oh, do let’s.
Not coming from noble lineage or large amounts property myself, I have another take on it. I like to have a Wear and a Spare. Which means if I find a basic garment that I love, I buy two of them.
Or in the case of the Country Road pants of utter day-to-night segue perfectness I recently sourced, four. A Wear and a Spare in black and a Wear and a Spare in grey.
What a trouser finding that was. Having tried on every pair of pants in London prior to setting off on my Australian book tour and finding nothing that wasn’t either baggy on the rear or python tight at the ankle, or both, I’d given up on the whole genre. I packed eight dresses.
But then I saw a woman in Jersey Road, Paddington wearing the perfect pant. Mid-grey with a slight sheen, narrow of the leg, a casual crispness.
Some inner shopping instinct told me they were from Country Road, so I dashed into the first branch I saw and claimed them in grey, without even trying them on. When I did, they were perfect.
So, at my earliest opportunity I raced back in and tried the same style in black and khaki. The black were also terrific, the greens made me look like a park ranger. I bought two pairs of black and another of grey.
Does this seem profligate? Well, it isn’t. It’s not the same at all as Jackie Onassis buying the same thing in every colour. Buying the same thing in the same colour means you will get much more wear out of each of them. If one would have lasted six months of heavy use, two will last 18 months.
They won’t get clothing fatigue from overuse and overwashing which maddeningly condemns your most favourite items to having the shortest lifespan in your closet. You need to rest fabric between wearings, like shoes.
Having a Spare locked down also means I can actually wear my perfect trouser whenever I damn well please, knowing I still have the other for best. And to be moved over for general trousering operations when the Wear pair is relegated to low key round-the-house duties. At ease.
I know the system works because I’ve been doing it for years since the pain of wearing a perfect black Helmut Lang ribbed t shirt into a grey rag in a few months of daily use. Since then when I’ve found a perfect basic, I’ve bought two. At least two.
And that is the key word: basics. Don’t operate this system for witty little numbers, on-trend must-haves, and high-fashion statements. Wear and Spare is for the daily underpinnings of your wardrobe.
Which for Ms Middleton will soon be tiaras.