Ne’er cast a clout ‘til May be out

Ah, the good old British weather. One minute you’re being burned to a crisp and the next you’re diving for cover to escape the latest tropical-style downpour, and it’s this level of variation and uncertainty that means there’s one key phrase you always need to remember—ne’er cast a clout ‘til May be out. But what does it mean, and why should it have any bearing on your wardrobe choices? Well, read on…

The phrase has been around for centuries and means, quite simply, never get rid of your coat until the end of May (clout being a piece of clothing, which in this sense we’re taking to mean coat). Alternatively it could be thought to reference the hawthorn bush or mayflower which blossoms in May (in other words, don’t cast a clout ‘til the mayflower blossoms), but either way, the advice holds. Cold snaps have always been common in May and we’re currently going through yet another one, so the advice makes sense—you shouldn’t discard your winter gear just yet, because you never know what’s around the corner.

That means your trusty duffle, or perhaps its shorter variety, should continue to be on-hand for the next few weeks as the finishing touch to your outfit. After that you can treat it to a bit of dry cleaning action to bring it back to its best, and you could of course go for something on the lighter end of the scale for those slightly balmier days. But let’s face it—for many of us it feels like we’re re-living winter all over again so you never want to leave the house without a suitable outerwear solution, and with a good old coat by your side you can be prepared for anything the tricksy British weather can throw at you.