Monday, 8 March 2010

Please: let's pull our socks up when it comes to getting dressed


I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and decided that, unless partaking in physical exercise, I’m too old to wear trainers. Aside from actual sport, I’m taking exercise to include long walks, prolonged periods of standing, DIY and gardening. With persuasion I might even let long haul air travel onto the list, too. But that’s it. The rest of the time my feet will be in footwear appropriate to the activity I’m doing. Seems logical enough, yet I know I’m in the minority with this view.

I understand that people compulsively wear trainers at the expense of anything else because they’re comfy. Shoes, especially cheap ones, can rub and chafe, causing a great deal of pain. You have my sympathy; I’ve got odd-shaped feet meaning that every new pair of shoes I buy will draw blood before the leather gives in and we eventually get to a point where we can exist together in harmony. However, I persevere as I realise that looking respectable requires a little discomfort.

But the triumph of the trainer over the sensible shoe is just the tip of the iceberg. Tracksuits are next on my clothing hate list. It seems so few people can get it right. The clue’s in the name, folks. Loose trousers and tops in fleecy or jersey material are designed to be worn by athletes to keep them warm in preparation for or after physical exertions such as running around a track at speed or jumping over a high bar. Apparently that now includes the not-yet-Olympic sport of slowly pushing a supermarket trolley.

“As soon as someone wanders out into the open wearing a fabric malapropos, then I have the right to complain about it.”

Of course I’ll acknowledge that many people own some form of what the Americans would call ‘sweats’, donned on lazy TV days, during periods of illness and other activities in which the wearer is restricted solely to their own home. What people want to do behind closed doors is up to them and certainly not my place to comment on.

But as soon as they wander out into the open wearing a fabric malapropos, then I have the right to complain about it. Shopping centres, cinemas and pubs are routinely filled with people giving the impression that they might break into a jog at any minute. The irony is that it’s so often larger individuals who are clad head to toe in athletic apparel, when in all probability their last bit of aerobic exercise was answering the door to the pizza delivery man.

Not only is it inappropriate, it’s unattractive and makes the wearer look plain ridiculous. Can you imagine slipping into some ski wear – salopettes and jacket, or maybe even an 80s one-piece – for a quiet drink with friends? How about some shooting wear for shopping? Cape and deerstalker for a wander down the high street?

Not keen? Why ever not? Well, I’d assume most people would feel a bit silly dressed in specialist clothing for an activity they’re clearly not doing. So why is the tracksuit any different? Only because it’s seductively easy to wear.

“Next time I spot someone in denim at a ceremonial occasion I won’t hesitate to suggest they get on with changing a light bulb or weeding a nearby border.”

It astounds me that the desire for personal comfort is so great that it justifies being seen out and about in something resembling an adult romper suit. Clothing has developed to become a lot more comfortable and a lot less restrictive in line with what people want for their everyday lives; starched shirts and corsets are now resigned to vintage clothing fans. With so much body-friendly apparel out there, I can’t fathom why people choose to dress as if suffering from all-over bedsores.

Then there’s the abandonment of formal attire. A little bit of me dies every time I go to a black tie event only to spot some idiot in a pair of jeans. Christmas parties at fancy locations, weddings and other formal parties are not the place to show off a total lack of understanding of clothing etiquette. Jeans, originally designed as heavy duty work clothes to be worn during manual labour, have no place at such occasions. Next time I spot someone in denim at a ceremonial occasion I won’t hesitate to suggest they get on with changing a light bulb or weeding a nearby border.

How a person chooses to dress makes a big statement about them to the outside world. Thankfully the old adage that it is ill bred to be overdressed is no longer true. There is now no excuse for being too lazy to spend the time and effort on dressing properly. Taking pride in your appearance demonstrates a certain level of self-respect and suggests an understanding of how the world works.

I despair of people who bitterly complain about not being taken seriously when they insist on wearing lurid logo-covered items which look as if they were designed exclusively for Kevin the Teenager. If you choose to dress like a child, don’t be surprised to be treated as such. Read more by Rosie.

Image (trainers) :