“If you wear that you’ll look like a girl”….
by Pseud O'Nym
If it is said that the thing about common sense is that it isn’t very common, then in my experience at least, fashion sense has been out of fashion for most people since birth. By fashion sense I don’t mean men who wear skirts as natty headwear, women who wear waistcoats as trousers or children who wear bras as earmuffs. Rather that most people do to some degree dress as if they’ve pulled something out of a clothing (un)lucky dip.
One that just gives one any old thing, again and again until one has the requisite amount of clothes that are a) appropriate for prevailing weather conditions and b) sufficient for one not to be arrested for public indecency. This can be the only possible explanation that solves the mystery of why people wear what they wear. It isn’t as if there is a shortage of people willing to give advice. The problem is more the lack of people willing to heed it.
I myself am not, as I’m often called,‘ a fashion whore.’ a charge levelled at me by people who’ve clearly been ‘fashion celibate’ for years. Admittedly, the only brand I’m loyal to is Adidas – their trainers only, not they’re other sportswear. (Am I alone in finding it ironic that sportswear manufacturers make sportswear in sizes that only people who are clearly no stranger to the light of the fridge at midnight could be poured into?) Anyway, I’ve always worn Adidas trainers, in fact as I write this I’ve got this pair on, not only because they look nice, but also, if you’re like me, you can match it to your outfit/s, or as I did once, base my entire outfit around a pair of trainers. I see nothing wrong in this.
What is wrong – and it’s only my opinion so I might be wrong but I very much doubt it – are people who don’t colour co-ordinate, as it makes things so much easier clothes wise. If you see an item of clothing but you couldn’t make at least two outfits out of it with what you’ve already got, you don’t buy it. If you can, you do. The most expensive item of clothing in a wardrobe is one that’s only been worn a few times and then languishes, unworn and overlooked. If an item costs say £250.000 but you wear it frequently, because you’ve bought wisely and it creates at least three items in your wardrobe, its initial cost falls with wear of it. It may well be a self-serving justification, but some clothes ultimately pay for themselves.
As with most behaviours, the root of this one lies in childhood. I have both my mother and father to thank for my innate sense of colour co-ordination. Every Spring, my mother would pack away her Autumn / Winter wardrobe – it sounds more glamorous than it was – and get her Spring / Summer one out. As she looked it over and put things together, I’d make suggestions, such as ‘What about combining this blouse, that skirt, those shoes…and perhaps this handbag and those earrings?’ My father by contrast, had he been caught by the fashion police, would’ve been given life. He was an accident that’d already happened. Like most men, he believed that as far as clothing was concerned there were only five colours. Black, white, blue, brown or gay (bright colours). There are, of course, exceptions. If an item of clothing is gay, but has a logo or brand name clearly emblazoned on it, then it isn’t gay.
Some years ago, I knew a girl who was interested in me but was perplexed by someone who had his own shirts and cufflinks made. So she asked me, ‘Are you gay?’ Now most of the gay men I’ve known have been well dressed, had a well developed sense of humour, opinions I liked and a way of expressing them in an articulate way. In short, good eggs. A proportion of them were simply carbon units using oxygen, but less so than heterosexual men I’ve met. So my reply was ‘No, but I think my boyfriend is.’ On other occasions it’s been either that or ‘No, just cheerful.’
All of the above might help explain my reaction the other day, when I tried on an item that I’d just bought from Etsy. I knew I was taking a gamble on it size wise when I bought it – it was a blouse – but it had a wonderful floral pattern. Little Miss Sunshine looked at me, and with all the considered wisdom of a four and a half year old said, ‘If you wear that you’ll look like a girl.’ And I thought of a swanky party some years ago, where I wore a pink fluffy cropped top, purple Adidas gazelle trainers with a full-length shiny silver skirt. Trust me, it worked. The amount of women who were nonplussed at my reply to their question ‘Why are you wearing a skirt?’ made giving it worthwhile. Pausing only to cast a slow withering look up and down at them, I’d respond, “Because I look better in my outfit than you do in yours.” Amazingly, I wore not a single drink that evening.
Little Miss Sunshine then asked, “Do you like looking nice?” At the time I had changed and was now wearing the aforementioned trainers, white linen shorts, and a red gingham checked short sleeve shirt. So I said, “Hazard a guess?”
Clothes are not the problem, people, the way they put them together and the gender identity they assign to them are. Her statement was a revealing insight into how, at such a young age identities are manufactured. All that matters to me is if something works. Saying that then, most people’s wardrobe should be unemployed.
Next time..Iain Duncan Smith and how ironic it is that the once ‘Quiet Man’ of British politics isn’t…