Monday, 7 February 2011

Clothes that maketh a man?...

Good evening all! It's been a few days since I last posted, and as I'm having a supremely quiet evening-in I thought it was about time I wrote a new entry.

Today I've spent some time cataloging and posting up on my Facebook page some photos of items from my ever-expanding collection of clothes and the various bits and pieces that go with them. Now as those of you who know me will hopefully agree, I'm a chap who likes to dress well on pretty much a daily basis - even if I'm just going to the shops here in North London I will feel naked without some form of neckwear and good solid brogues on my feet!

Clothes are an interesting topic aren't they: they can give the rest of the world a view of you as a person without even having to know you in the slightest - but this can have both positive and negative effects. A person who dresses in a vintage style (by this I don't mean the 'vintage retro' affect, or anything later than the mid-1960's) invariably attracts attention to oneself, and often comments from passers-by. Yes, occasionally there will be bad comments - but I am happy to say that at least in my experience the majority are good. I suppose I am fortunate that I live in London, where generally everyone is left to be themselves and 'get on with it' - but it is rather fun to sense people taking a second glance at you as you walk past!

Something that certain people find hard to understand is individuality. Two former friends of mine had a big problem with me dressing as I do because, in their opinion, I was trying to live another life and give an air of being of a different social status to them. This has got nothing to do with it. I dress as I do because I like the era and the style, not because I feel that I'm better than anyone else or that I have any more right than anyone else to dress in a manner that I'm comfortable with. Another misconception that causes arguments is to do with political affiliation: people tend to assume that we who 'dress vintage' are all arch-Conservatives with a capital 'C' simply because we dress in a way similar to those who, in the past, were generally of the middle to upper classes - and nothing could be further from the truth. Going back to my previous point, they forget that we are all our own people and not affecting a look or thought for the sake of it: we do what we enjoy and we are nothing but ourselves.

But as I mentioned, the positive comments do outweigh the bad. Within weeks of moving to London from the countryside I had a neighbour politely say "Good morning sir!" as I passed his house - he was wearing jeans and T-shirt, and I Barbour, cords, and flat cap. It was said without any malice or piss-taking, and I very happily wished him a good morning too. I have noticed that if you dress 'well' you are far more likely to be taken seriously on an everyday basis; this latter point I particularly found when I was a student. Students are, rather unfairly, often tarred with the same brush as being untidy layabouts. As a student I wore a jacket, smart trousers, tie, and so forth on a daily basis - around the shops in the town I wouldn't be judged for being a student, and a further bonus is that annoying student election campaigners would leave me alone because I looked like a lecturer!

I also feel that it is important to do my bit to keep standards from slipping in certain areas. Now, I'm afraid with regards to clothes the thing I detest most is seeing someone wearing a pair of jeans slung halfway down their posterior. Why?! I just don't understand. Though few are as extreme as me in this case, I admit that I don't actually own a pair of jeans, and only use trainers for sports. When in Town (i.e. central London) on a weekday, I will wear a suit and black bowler and carry an umbrella. When in the country or in Town on weekends it's tweed jacket and corduroy trousers. People may think it's archaeic, but though people wearing such things were common even twenty/thirty years ago are now sadly lacking, there's no reason to mean that others such as myself should not keep their spirits alive on a daily basis. One further point is that, particularly around London, the tourists love it! To see a chap in suit and bowler walking down Pall Mall is still an image of London that they imagine today and, well, one doesn't like to disappoint, eh!

I'm sure I've rambled on long enough and made little or no sense whatsoever - so I'll say thanks for reading, and cheerio for now!


  1. Very well said my dear boy! Keep up the good work - writing and sartorial! :)

  2. Well written dear Rob! And I, like you, do not own any jeans... We are a more common breed than one would think!

    La Marquise x

  3. Throughly enjoyable read old man - I do have one slight disagreement to make though, detailed below.

    The bit discussing clothes-as-class; It has long been a fine tradition in Britain for any hard-working man to be able to start on the road to betterment by the simple act of buying a pair of smart shoes, learning to tie a half-windsor, and generally not acting like a barbarian. The key, however, is in the clothes - the impression given, as you state, is very important in your daily life - I don't find any offense in a 'poor' fellow buying some decent shoes and a nice tie, if his aim is actually to climb the ivory tower.

    I do agree that mere affectation is likely to annoy everyone around you, however.

  4. Splendid stuff. I find it interesting that people assume your politics because of the way you dress. I did think of doing a presentation to the NSC on something along the lines of political dressing but figured I'd bore most people (f)rigid.

    Needless to say that long before Neil Kinnock was taken to a tailor and told to start wearing dark suits to make him more statesman like and thinner; Lenin wore a bowler hat.

    Like most revolutionaries (then and now) he was rather middle class. Still the spinners got hold of him and said "beret for you Vlad my boy, now back on the train to Russia 1st class like Compton-Bassett".

    It's amazing how much your ancestors have influenced history.

    Giles Culpepper aka Archie Conservative

  5. Loving your blog
    Very good read
    Dont have a fashion blog myself but do read them
    Keep up the appearance and well done on having your original style

  6. One of the things I also find interesting is how clothes influence the behaviour of the wearer. Not only does one feel different when wearing something smart versus something louche, but one behves and talks differently. This in turn can influence how the wearer is treated. I find it much easier to be authoritative when wearing a well cut suit but much easier to get my car properly looked at when wearing something workaday. Interesting topic.
    Incidentally, bolwer hats are quite uncomfortable unless made for you aren't they?