Disclaimer: This month’s column is, in some respects, an anti-column. I’m going to talk about clothes that you shouldn’t be wearing. For the avoidance of doubt, the clothes pictured are alternatives. Clothes that you should wear. Nice clothes. Not naughty clothes.
The inspiration for this somewhat contrary approach is a childish game that my friend and I play when we find ourselves with a spare hour in a shopping area. The rules of the game are: you enter a not-very-good clothes store and have one minute in which to run off and find a naughty – there’s that term again – item of clothing for your opponent. You then reconvene at the changing rooms and try on the piece that has been selected for you. The winner is the person who has found the naughtiest item – ie the person who ends up looking the worst is the loser. It’s fun, but I should warn you that security personnel get wary quite quickly when they see a pair of goons running around the shop floor giggling. And not buying anything.
In broad terms, naughty just means bad. Bad meaning bad. I saw a classic example this weekend – a white blazer (already pretty naughty) with graffiti-style writing on the back (very, very naughty). The first atrocity I want you all to avoid is the elasticated trouser cuff. These are everywhere at the moment, when they should be nowhere. They look like incontinence trousers. The naughtiest incarnation of these is, of course, the elasticated cuff and drop-crotch combo. They really do give the impression that you’ve got exploding bowels. If you own some, do yourself a favour and bin them. Don’t even give them to charity. If you crave a super-slim fit around your ankle, get some tapered chinos from Dockers (pictured). Or do that sort of origami turn-up that narrows the opening.
Next in the firing line is the epaulette. It’s very easy to work out whether you should be wearing a shirt with epaulettes. Are you in the armed forces? Yes, then carry on. No, then take the offending garment off immediately. Again, if you want to wear a short-sleeved shirt, there are plenty of nice non-military examples. So buy one of them.
The final no-no is any fluorescent garment. Even if you have a mahogany tan, you will still look like a berk in a neon-green polo shirt. Leave the fluoro nonsense to Staedtler. That said, a hint of naughtiness can, very occasionally, work. The yellow stripe on that polo shirt (pictured)? It’s naughty, but I like it. The risk pays off.
Other items that are clearly off-limits are: waistcoats without jackets; shirts with integrated hoods; anything sleeveless. All of them have previously won the game. So behave yourselves, you naughty boys.
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