I take no pleasure in saying this, but the average British person has simply got no idea how to dress. Look around you, and wherever you are, I’m sure you’ll know it to be the truth: we just don’t seem to know what’s appropriate and neither do we seem to know what makes us look good. How else would you explain Frankenshoes, those appalling platformed high heels? I don’t think there’s a person on the Earth – supermodels included - who is able to wear them and to look graceful rather than like a bunch-backed clumping elephant.
Summer is a particularly bleak time. The first sign of the sun and the average British person breaks out their summer gear, pretty much whatever the actual temperature outside. I was in town the other week, and although it was sunny, it was pretty chilly and I was glad of my coat. Everyone else was apparently happy to slop about in short, t-shirt and flip-flops (the men brazenly displaying their horrible feet to the world). We also seem determined to dress to emphasise our negative points. I wonder if some of these people actually looked in a mirror before deciding to buy something, never mind before wearing it out in public. Don’t these people have friends in their lives? Friends don’t let friends wear jeggings stretched to the point of transparency out in public. Not even in Primark.
The office environment can be confusing too. My company instituted a “business casual” policy about ten years ago, with the only stipulation that you shouldn’t wear football shirts or crop tops (although the unspoken rules were many). They haven’t subsequently revised the policy, but we have slowly drifted back towards suits through a process of gradual peer pressure. I tend to wear smart trousers and an open-collared shirt, and to be honest it’s a lot easier than worrying about which colour of chinos would be deemed the most smart casual. Not everyone thinks the same way, and you see some remarkable outfits in the workplace… many in conjunction with expansive tattooing. Now, I have tattoos. I don’t have a problem with tattoos…. But why would you get a fist-sized golden snitch tattooed on your breastbone and then wear a scooped t-shirt to work?
My current bug bear is the metrosexual male, many now sadly also blended with hipster, resulting in an eye-watering blend of beard, sharpened eyebrows, v-necked t-shirts, tattoo sleeves and tan brogues. There’s a guy who sits round the corner from me - a perfectly normal looking bloke: not skinny, not especially fat (if a bit fleshy)… but he likes to wear trousers that are styled slightly too short (deliberately, I think) with brown, Native American-style moccasins and no socks. I think he works in HR, so maybe that explains it.
Mind you, there’s another guy who stamps about near where I live with a beard, fedora and manbag, stamping about wearing a huge pair of builder boots when he doesn’t look like he could lift a bag of feathers, never mind a bag of sand.
Oh wait. That’s me.
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