Friday, 31 March 2017

The Curse of Red Trousers


Working class people dress themselves according to their tribe. At the bottom level from teens to maybe mid-40s, there’s grey jogging pants, trainers, some kind of lightweight ‘sporting’ top, and until the ‘fashion’ dropped off recently the baseball cap was essential. The most ubiquitous accessory is the I-Phone, because without one you may be required to look away from your palm and realise there’s a real world out there.
And never forget the essential tattoos; these must cover any available space on limbs and be exposed in ever the coldest weather. The rest of society, those who may still have a paid job, will express a touch of individuality, but rarely be totally influenced  by the broadsheet media’s colour supplements which are in turn offering diluted ideas taken from the big catwalks, where ‘trends’ are ‘decided’ in Paris, Milan or London. The immediate output of those fashionista cities is aimed at the rich, people with far more money than sense.

In Britain, there are two other tribes worthy of mention; the rural farming types with their Berber jackets, green wellingtons and Harris Tweed outfits, and the multi-layered faux-aristocratic strata - those who may work in town (usually in banking, marketing, etc.) but live in the country. For example, you can always spot a middle aged woman from this bracket because she’ll enjoy a light sweater over a silk shirt which will be open at the neck to reveal a pearl necklace. The men, often convinced that their income makes them part of some antiquated aristocracy, when dressing down at weekends will try and confirm this by wearing the most ridiculous trousers they can find, and the preferred colour is red. Red or pastel trousers are the ultimate ‘Hooray Henry’ garb, and they signify a person well worth avoiding. As for this writer, obese, old and unkempt, without capacious black jogging pants and a t-shirt I’d have to go naked.

Every other day, TV offers us a sartorial enigma. For example, Michael Portillo’s penchant for riding the rails dressed like a box of multi-coloured marshmallows.
Most celebrities are prone to narcissism, but on antiques shows, whether you’re caressing a Clarice Cliff teapot or an Edwardian gold watch, an expert’s credibility might depend on the de rigueur tradition of looking like a florid cross between Willie Wonka and the next Dr. Who. Camera-hogging Tim Wonnacott, today’s king of the collectibles catwalk, seems desperate to appear in as many eccentric ensembles as possible - and never more than once. This means bilious mustard green jackets, hideous waistcoats of various hues, the ubiquitous coloured trousers, whilst his collections of colour co-ordinated bow ties and spectacles (always to be balanced on the end of his nose) are probably stored in an aircraft hangar.
Another serial offender, David Howard, is to dress sense what Eric Pickles is to hang-gliding. Every clip in shows like Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip requires a different pair of trousers; lemon, puce, azure, white, lime green, and of course, hooray-Henry red. His Image result for images Antiques Road Trip David Howard
choice of shirts is no better. Probably the doyen of empathic presenters, Paul Martin of Flog It, sometimes resorts to a powder blue corduroy suit, but for most of his visits to stately homes (cue the Baroque music) he tilts respect to their upper-crust founders with … les pantalons rouge, Image result for images Paul Martin Flog Itwhilst the show’s Philip Sorrell will appear swaddled in a multi-coloured scarf even on a hot sunny day. Of course, this kind of down-market malarkey rarely impinges on the blue-blooded ambience of the BBC’s long-running flagship, The Antiques Road Show where the dress code suggests a Buckingham Palace tea party. No doubt the argument is that it all adds colourful ‘fun’, but one wonders what Clarice Cliff would make of it all.

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