Benjamin Britten wearing Orfords – the Suffolk fishermen’s ideal in trousers

Britten in a pair of Orfords

Our fashion correspondent writes: Orfords are a traditional style of simple rugged canvas seafaring jeans said to have been much favoured on the Suffolk coast between the wars – and now you can buy your own pair online from Old Town Clothing.

I gather Benjamin Britten had two pairs made up in chambray by an Aldeburgh tailor for himself and Peter Pears, who in turn knitted two fetching bobble hats. Sadly I haven’t been able to obtain a photograph of Britten and Pears wearing the local fishermen’s garb, but I Old Town’s William Brown rustled up the image above showing how composer Britten might have looked in his Orfords.

Now, if anyone does have a photo of Britten and Pears in those bobble hats and sailors’ trousers that they’d like to share with a wider public, do please get in touch at

My thanks to Otis Luxton for pointing this one out.

I don’t know why it is, but I have to say that I haven’t found a pair of trousers that made me smile as much as this since I discovered a photo of my Dad wearing blue jeans some time in the mid 1950s. He never wore anything like that again…

PS – Chambray, or cambric, is a fine fabric woven with white threads across a coloured warp, and gets its name from Cambrai in Northern France.