Archives for category: big no-no

There is a very specific breed of heterosexual male, the one that combines a total lack of fashion sense with an overwhelming brand-obsession. Mhhh, dangerous. The result is always the same: all these men go for those very samey and blah brands that can easily blend into each other: Jack Wills, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Super Dry, Bench… These are what I call “OPADS”: OverPriced Averagely-Designed Sportswear. Just lots of standard T-shirts and hooded jumpers and frayed shorts and jeans. Basically, what you’d find in any bloody high-street store for a fraction of the price. The only difference is the overwhelming presence of branding, that modern society concept that makes people think they’re automatically cool when associated with them. Well, newsflash: you can look absolutely crap even with “trendy” brands on.

I can understand it and even condone it on teenagers. After all we all needed the security that established brands give you when feeling insecure whilst growing up; we all needed to belong to a tribe. But when is it a good age to stop dressing like a hormonally challenged, spotty adolescent: 21? 25? Surely by the time you hit 30 you must feel that certain things belong to the next generation and not yours… But these men, often sporting big beer bellies or too much hair sprouting from their shirt necks, will only wear what the mass around them wears, automatically elevating the brand to “cool” status. Any regular reader of this blog will know that, if the big mass is wearing something, it will be a huge turn-off for me (my immediate reaction being “if everybody’s wearing this, there must be something wrong with it”), but clearly that’s not the case for people without personal taste. And these brands are clever enough to find some angles to sell well to this type of shopper.

‘Ooh, it says Super Dry Japan, so it must be a cool Japanese brand’. Nope, it’s designed and manufactured in their head offices in Cheltenham. Niiice! ‘Ooh, at A&F stores the lights are low and the music very loud like in a club, that’s so wicked’. Nope, it ain’t wicked, it’s just disappointing to go back home and find out the red trousers you bought are in fact pink. ‘Ooh, Hollister’s shopping bags show hunky guys with big muscles, it must mean that if I wear their clothes (and let everybody know that with huge logos plastered all over me) I will look hunky too’. And nope. Nope nope nope. But if we could hear people’s thoughts, we’d be stunned to learn how many men think this exact thing. Unbelievable. Just hats off to whoever started that kind of advertising that – although obviously and blatantly homoerotic – still has an effect on straight guys in a very ironic way. It just makes me laugh…

Back from holidays last week: a fortnight in Italy, on the Ligurian riviera. Lots of swimming, delicious seafood, reading (6 novels overall) and most of all 14 days of uninterrupted Yves Klein-blue skies. Bliss.

Although the Cinque Terre aren’t particularly famous to foreign tourists and are therefore very genuinely Italian (which is why I love them so much, as opposed to fashion-boutique-ridden Capri, even though geographically that riviera has nothing whatsoever to envy the Amalfi coast), that means that the locals and the holidaymakers aren’t particularly dressed up, in fact they’ll look quite relaxed and show a lot of non-chalance in their choice of clothes. So far so good, especially since on holiday you want to feel at ease even with a basic pair of shorts and and old T-shirts. But Italians will always be Italians, so they won’t give up a certain level of attention to detail even on vacation. Sadly, the detail I’m going to talk about isn’t a good one. It’s something I’ve felt very strongly about for sometime, as it’s something not specific to Italians but to a certain type of man in general. In fact this is something I’ve seen in London for a long time and all around me, but after noticing it on my fellow Italians, I reached saturation point and thought I ought to send out a cry of alarm.

I’m talking about the collars of polo shirts popped up. Disgusting. I can barely think of a worse fashion crime that’s so widespread, from the whole UK to Italy, to the whole western world. There is no justification whatsoever for it as it looks absolutely and abysmally bad. Whatever possessed the almost entirety of straight men on both hemispheres is a mystery. Yes, because that’s something you wouldn’t see on a gay man, ever. Gay men certainly aren’t immune to fashion faux-pas, no siree, but this one specifically just won’t apply to them. And it’s a particular type of straight man that will do that, i.e. the type who will wear the above mentioned polo shirt on a pair of distressed/washed out jeans, obviously loose-fitted, almost certainly frayed at the bottom, on a pair of rather pointy medium-tan brown shoes. Basically the very “now” look of circa 1997. The polo-shirt-collar-popping seems to be their way to “update” the look, as if adding  bird shit to a stale pizza can make it taste any better. There must be some evil spirit lurking around, a sort of bad taste monster that cruelly hypnotises people and makes them commit hideous fashion blunders.

The ONE and ONLY way to wear polo shirt collars is down. DOWN. D-O-W-N. Let me say it again to avoid any misunderstanding. DOWN.

Please I urge you all out there: glue your collars to your Polo shirts if necessary but do never, ever let anybody see you with those horrendous wavy semi-rigid collars wrapping your necks as if your heads were bunches of fried chips in oily paper cones. Please. I beseech you. Do not impose such horror to us…

Whether you want to button up both buttons (which I’d advise) or keep one or two open is up to you. I won’t even explain why you shouldn’t wear it with a white T-shirt underneath, as it’s such a pot-noodle-eating geek territory that it’s not even worth discussing it here. There’s only so many fashion horrors I can deal with at a time. But a great detail to make your polo shirt look very smart is to wear it with a tie, which I often do, which will deliver immediate result with very little effort (just count the amount of compliments you’ll get. You’ll be surprised).

So there you go. It’s finally off my chest. But you all please just keep it off your necks!