Not quite the style icon

For someone who goes out of his way to disavow any interest in ‘fashion’, the subject of clothing does seem to crop up quite often, albeit randomly, in this collection of ramblings. So perhaps it’s time to give the subject its own post, especially as the latest of ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’ provides a good opportunity:

“How important are clothes to you? Describe your style, if you have one, and tell us how appearance impacts how you feel about yourself.”

Leaving aside – but not forgiving – the egregious use of a noun (‘impact’) as a verb, I’d have to say that an important driving force when it comes to the old togs is my innate wish to blend into the background.

As I recently wrote elsewhere, when I was an investment banker (sort of) I dressed like an investment banker (sort of) because I didn’t want to stand out from the crowd. In doing so, I was doing no more than following the fashion of how investment bankers dressed, so maybe all that pretending not to be interested in fashion is just me displaying an irritating tendency to be ‘holier than thou’.

Although ‘post-modern irony’ sounds better.

Nor could I pretend that those thirty years of my working life was the only period where my clothing choices were informed largely by the desire not to be noticed. School uniform was school uniform, and there was no choice in the matter, but at university I suppose I conformed to a fairly stereotypical image of the early Seventies student. Sad to relate, from time to time this did include tank-tops and shirts with penny-round collars, although at least I can hold my head up and state categorically that I never possessed an RAF surplus greatcoat.

Being retired means that I’m no longer bound by dress codes. Instinctively, I consider that to be a good thing, even if this new freedom brings its own challenges. Comfort is now the primary concern, but I haven’t gone so far as to mooch round in slippers and a onesie all day. Nor can I imagine any set of circumstances that would ever induce me to wear a shell-suit – although that would certainly guarantee not looking out of place among the local population.

However, since taking up residence in rural France I have broken new ground, clothes-wise, by acquiring a set of dungarees. I must point out that this is for purely practical reasons, being indispensable in my burgeoning new career as an unskilled agricultural labourer and grass-cutter. And once again I have defied the siren call of conformity with the locals by not owning a blue boiler-suit.

What you might call my ‘everyday’ appearance has also evolved somewhat over the past couple of years.

My weekend gear when in employment tended towards the ‘jeans and T-shirt’ look. That’s pretty much the basis of my clothing now – hey, every day’s a weekend – but whereas previously I would have made something of a statement with my upper half by putting on a Grateful Dead-related shirt – albeit a relatively discreet one (the tie-dye only comes out in private or on very special occasions) – now I find myself increasingly favouring the monochrome look.

Who knows, perhaps there’s some profound psychological reason for this reductio ad absurdum. Or maybe it just saves having to think about what to wear.

Typically, therefore, nowadays I’m to be found wearing black jeans and either a plain black T-shirt or what we used to refer to as a ‘grandad vest’. Occasionally, I might mix it up a little by eschewing black for an interesting shade of grey. Rock and roll.

In less balmy meteorological conditions, comfort and a desire to avoid hypothermia will see this being topped off by a baggy overshirt, possibly checked (‘plaid’ for my North American reader). Although only if the black ones are in the wash.

So I tend to look a bit like this:

Not the author - just his hero

Not the author – just his hero

Without the guitar, sadly but obviously.

 

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