My sons and I knew what to wear to the sporting clays range on the outskirts of Los Angeles: jeans, closed-toe shoes, long-sleeve top and shooting vest with the thick foam pad to protect the shoulder from the kick of the gun.
We knew what to wear on a trip to Argentina to shoot dove. It’s all about camo. Don head to toe camouflage clothing and hide yourself in the corn stalks of the agricultural fields. But a pheasant shoot in the English countryside? Panic sets in. Camouflage is looked down upon in England and that’s all we had in the closets. What to wear? And then it struck me…that episode of Downton Abbey where Lady Mary stands next to various members of the shooting party and gives compliments on their aim. Yes, that would do it!
I Googled the season 5 episode and there she was in a beautiful tweed suit, gloves, felt hat, and boots. It wasn’t so much what she was wearing, but the colors of what she was wearing. This was, of course, 2018, and not the 1920s. I certainly was not going to wear a wool, plaid suit with long skirt in the wet and muddy fields of the Chargot and Molland estates in the Devon countryside of England in January. But the colors were divine! Natural camouflage is what the British wear, not something that makes you look like you’re about to storm the stronghold of a foreign terrorist.
For me I ordered Hunter brand boots in green online and after scrounging through my closet I found a pair of corduroys in the approximate color of stone that would do. But it was the outer wear that had me stumped. I had to find a jacket that I could wear in London for our days spent sightseeing and one that would keep me warm in the cold mornings on the shoot. I made an excellent purchase of a long khaki-colored down jacket from Ralph Lauren on sale! The topper to the whole thing was a topper – a plaid British driving cap. I was set. My sons, on the other hand, had the benefit of my father’s ample hunting wardrobe. He loaned them beautiful jackets and vests and bought them each a traditional silk country shooting tie to wear with a button-down shirt.
While my sons fussed over not being able to wear their camo clothing, I knew that embracing the English shooting attire was part of the experience. We were in for a great time with customs including a break at 11:00 am (the “elevenses” as they call it) to enjoy Champagne served out of the back of a specially fitted Range Rover complete with crystal flutes! For all I knew it could have been the 1920s. Oh, Lady Mary! Could you come cheer me on!