Monday, May 17, 2004

Lycra cat suit and bobble hat

Scarlett flares. You wouldn’t would you? You might, a dose of attitude and some self belief and you might. But what about putting it with silver moccasins and a brown batwing jumper. You wouldn’t then, would you?

You wouldn’t because people might laugh at you. Even those who would, do it because they want to make a statement, show their individuality, and push forward the boundary of fashion. All that jazz. We all fear being laughed at. That’s why you see so few people browsing the detergents in Tesco wearing a tiger stripe posing pouch, flip flops and an old school Nike windcheater.

The fundamental rule of clothes is to never buy anything that makes people laugh at you. Unless you’re a clown of course.

On Saturday this bloke called his girlfriend over after pulling out a t-shirt which had a MasterCard logo on it. It had the legend “No woman, no money, no job – Masturbation is the only answer”. They both laughed, “I’ve got to get this” he said before heading for the till.

It got me thinking, or at least noticing, that comedy t-shirts are a plague in British High Streets. Spearheading this is FCUK, who make millions from just one joke. Why? It’s a t-shirt which makes people laugh at you. Not with you, you didn’t write the joke, at you.

I don’t blame British men for adding this ill-advised flourish to their sartorial repertoire. The choice of men’s clothing is dire. Many women love shopping because they can browse shops knowing there’s a good chance they’ll find something which stands out. Blouse, t-shirt, jumper, vest, or the uniquely generic ‘top’. Skirt (mini, short, knee length, full length, fitted, full etc.), trousers (jeans, trousers, linen, three-quarter length, full length. Heals, flat, sandals, flip flops, trainers, boots (ankle, knee – hummana hummana). Suits, trouser, skirt. Linen, silk, cotton, wool. Neck lines… plunging, turtle neck, backless, collars, normal. Red, black, white, pink, blue, turquoise, mint, green, olive, yellow, lemon. Every colour and every shade of colour.

And then the men; trousers or jeans, jumper, shirt, t-shirt, polo shirt, trainers, boots, shoes. Brown, blue, black, grey, white, green. Suit. That’s it. That’s what you’re average high street shop has on offer. It means that browsing for clothes is a fundamentally underwhelming experience so you adopt a more pragmatic approach to shopping. I need a pair of jeans. I will get a pair of jeans.

Men are hardly being encouraged to dress better, make more effort or innovate. David Beckham turns up in lemon, he’s laughed at. Turns up in a nice black suit? Woof woof. Sarah Jessica Parker wears trousers on her head? INNOVATION! INSPIRATION! WHAT A STATEMENT! She’s such a sassy, sexy and independent woman.

The reason men hate shopping for clothes because it’s as stimulating as buying petrol, give me some choice and I’m all over it.


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