With the exception of a couple of months during 1985 I’ve never been particularly interested in fashion. The reason for the sudden beginning (and end) of all things stylish was that the object of my affection at the time appeared to be interested in me too so I mistakenly decided to dress to impress her. So for 8 weeks or so I basically dressed like a reject from C&A in an attempt to attract this girl who then without asking me if I minded moved to Australia with her parents.Having decided that my life was now worthless and not worth living anymore it seemed to me that it didn’t really matter what I wore so pretty much since then I’ve not really bothered too much with fashion. Since that day i’ve felt like fashion didn’t really have much to offer me and anyway I was always much happier -and indeed a lot lonelier-wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt pretty much everywhere I went. Obviously these days I try to look smart at work and presentable in social gatherings but my “style” is far closer to casual than smart and although on most occasions I no longer wear the mighty maiden emblazoned across my chest, t-shirt,jeans and trainers still form my ‘look’
But last Sunday at the dinner table in front of most of my family and only half jokingly my Dad called me a chav. Now when I think of a chav I normally have an image of someone wearing a track suit with elasticated ankles,jewellery from Elizabeth Duke, a pair of reebok trainers and an electronic tag.This ensemble is very often complemented with an accompanying Staffordshire bull terrier,an assortment of neck tattoos and ownership of a very old ford fiesta with a questionable insurance status.Now I’m pleased to say that I don’t own any of these items so I felt a little taken aback by this surprise announcement so much so infact I decided that I needed to question him about it. He went on to tell me that in his opinion a male chav is pretty much any male over the age of 30 who wears jeans and or trainers. I just happened to be wearing jeans and trainers that day but before I started to consider getting a facial tattoo or a dodgy dagenham dustbin I informed him that getting fashion tips from a man in his mid 70’s who thinks that cords are the cutting edge of style was a little bit hard to take.
It should be pointed out that even though he’s no Gok Wan I always consider Pappa T to be a well dressed man, much better dressed than me and he’s a man who has always dressed smartly whether it’s for work or casual and actually the only difference I can see between his formal and casual attire is that casual involves wearing a jumper while everything else stays the same. What this does mean for me though is that he never subjected me or my sister to anything embarrassing while we were in our formative years which is a massive bonus compared to what some of my mates endured with their parents baring in mind this WAS the 80’s! But the chav comment got me thinking about how to notice at what point in life does the time come to finally admit when I’m too old or fat both to continue dressing in way I have and at what point is it no longer considered appropriate to wear trainers,jeans or shorts.Due to my Celtic heritage all of me, legs included, refuse point blank to tan. Burn…yes, in seconds usually, and definitely when placed in front of a light source stronger than that of a candle.A few minutes of laying in the sun in Budapest back in May resulted in a dose of sunburn that refused to fade away until September and when it did I was back to the original pasty tone that I always have been.A very good friend once said the chances of me getting bitten by Mosquitos was next to none as they would take one look at my flesh and assume that I was already dead and that the sight of me naked in the dark could result in a visit from the ghostbusters.So for the most part even in summer and with a view to spare the feelings of everyone around me I tend to cover up.
But there does come a time when we all have to take into account whether what we wear is age appropriate and I will concede that there does come a point when trainers jeans and shorts in particular should be consigned to the back of the wardrobe and never worn again. Men could learn a thing or two from women who seem to be much better able to dress according to their age and just as the length of their skirts increases as they get older so should the length of a mans shorts and the knee should be the cut off point for any man over the age of 25. After this age shorts should increase in length at the rate of about an inch per year resulting in even the tallest of middle age men being suitably covered up and avoiding ridicule. Even during the difficult ‘mid life crisis’ years this rule should be adhered to and under no circumstances broken as despite the brain telling you that you look fabulous the rest of the world thinks that you look like a tool. The only conceivable time when this can be ignored is either in the gym or swimming pool and even then prior written consent should be sought. This year has seen an increase in the wearing of the ‘formal short’ look often accompanied by a deck shoe and no socks which is fine if you are swanning around St.Tropez getting in and out of a Lamborghini gallado, but definitely not whilst driving your Renault scenic round to asda to pick up the weekly shop. I personally prefer shorts which sit about 5 inches above the ankle, the kind of ‘skater’ look, which I think is the perfect combination of practicality and style allowing me to look ‘cool’ and carry everything around that I need discretely in the many pockets provided without the need for any kind of bag. Despite my conviction that this is my perfect look, Mrs T2B says I look “like a twat”
Shoes then present an even bigger difficulty as I cant stand wearing formal shoes outside of work and it would appear that trainers are too chavvy, sandals are for tree huggers and crocs are for mental health patients. I have three pairs of footwear in my possession which includes formal for work, trainers for the gym (these are still in the box) and my newly acquired pair of converse shoes which I have decided will go with absolutely everything I wear ever again. These shoes keep me convinced that I am still young enough to get away with it and are as comfortable as anything I’ve ever worn without having to resort to boat shoes or hush puppies and feeling a billion years old.
Socks, so I’m told are a fashion no no whatever the circumstances but having said that, I have a deep admiration for men of my age or older who seem to be able to combine any type of foot wear with knee length shorts and a tan coloured sock and feel like they can get away with it. A mentality like that suggests that they have gone so far past caring what anyone thinks of them that they should be applauded for this hardcore ‘I don’t give a toss’ attitude.
So what does all this mean? Well upon reflection I guess that when you’re fat and middle aged your options are fairly limited as to what you can get away with and thinking about all the people of my age that I know it seems that the look to go for is a shirt and jumper, nicely ironed jeans and boat shoes but that’s simply not me as I’m more of a t-shirt and ‘distressed’ jeans kind of guy. I don’t want to dress like I have a burtons store card and I don’t want to dress like my dad and I clearly can’t dress like Joey Essex because A) I would look like I’m having a midlife crisis of my own and B)I would want to relentlessly punch myself in the face very hard indeed. So I’m basically an inbetweener and not a chav. I don’t want to look resplendent in a tracksuit and ‘labels’ have no appeal for me at all. But luckily for me I have yet to walk through the shopping mall and find myself staring through the window of Austin Reed thinking “ mmmm, that’s nice, I’d look good in that” so I’m going to have to stay in this fashion no man’s land for a while to come yet. Unless I win the lottery of course and then I can buy a Lamborghini and move to the south of France.