SUAVE TO LEAD

Colonel Piers Ashfield DSO, the decorated serviceman — and a loyal reader of The Rake — takes his off-duty uniform as seriously as his military regalia.

Mess dress: One of the smartest orders of dress, a mess dress is the military equivalent of black tie, and is used for evening events. It comprises a ‘shell’ jacket and a horseshoe-shaped waistcoat. “This is the same mess dress I had made when I joined the army, I have had it for 20 years. The gold is our rank; three is the max. It is very uncool to have too much gold, and you want it to be faded.” Medals, left to right: Distinguished Service Order; Northern Ireland General Service medal; NATO non-Article 5 medal (Kosovo); Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan; Iraq Medal; Operation Shader Medal (Iraq & Syria); Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal; Army Long Service and Good Conduct medal

I wasn’t there when The Rake was created, but I feel certain that when the founding editors brainstormed their target audience, the type of chap who comes back from a war zone and spends his hard-earned money at Charvet would have been more or less it. If there is one man in the world who fits this bill, it is Colonel Piers Ashfield, a loyal reader of the magazine from issue one. He stumbled across it while on holiday in Hong Kong. He says: “We were on the Kowloon side. I saw The Rake on the stand and thought, ‘This is gleaming’ — every bit of it. And every article was of interest.”

The Guards regiments have a reputation for their dashing turnout, notably the bearskin headdress. And although a career in uniform has largely been the driving force behind Piers’s style, he was a latecomer to it. “One looks back at me in a state of embarrassment at what I was like as a teen,” he says. The Grenadiers, the United Kingdom’s senior infantry regiment, has a way of whipping people into shape. He says: “One of our unofficial mottos is, ‘You’re twice the man in the Grenadiers’, which reflects the dual role of ceremonial and operational soldiering that we do. And perhaps that’s nicely reflected in the civilian style perspective, too.”

Published

November 2021

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