What you wear, or what you almost wear - has become a subject of much heated debate this week. It seems that as Tracy Brabin MP, an opposition front bench spokesperson, rose to address fellow MPs and before she had uttered a word, all hell had broken loose in the chamber and in that weird and wonderful world of social media. Why so? Well, it seems that Ms Brabin was wearing a dramatic, black, off-the-shoulder frock that exposed quite a lot of toned female flesh. Cue - rioting in the streets, admonishment from certain red-top newspapers who have never seemed that afraid of attractive women exposing parts of their bodies in the past - plus, lots of tongue clicking and head shaking, by - er, er, not many people really. Some would say that Ms Brabin, a former actress, who was a regular on Coronation Street at one time was “only as good as she should be” - which, if you think about it makes no sense at all. Anyway, Tracy Brabin’s uninhibited ‘look’ got me thinking about how times have changed over the years in terms of was is deemed appropriate and what is not.
Before I arrived on the island, I had a long series of proper jobs that traditionally required me to wear ‘standard issue’ clothing, to align myself to a standard issue look. Although, for many years I worked in the world of press, media and public affairs - where latterly standards have slipped alarmingly. For the main part, I wore a bog-standard Marks & Sparks suit, with only a 1990’s garish multicoloured tie with which to flaunt my devil-may-care individuality. I understand that nowadays suits are only worn by those appearing in court charged with doing something unpleasant and newspaper editors. Only last year we stayed overnight at my son’s house and was surprised that he left for work in the morning dressed a bit like an 15 year-old skate-boarder. Women are as bad, gone are the days of elegantly tailored, grey, business suits - that I used to like so much, now it’s more like they have got dressed in the dark in somebody else’s bedroom. This shabby downward spiral in standards of dress is nothing new I suppose, for instance I really can’t remember the last time I actually wore a tie and am less than confident that I could now manage the complexity of actually tying a Windsor knot.
I have this theory that it’s not that people dress badly per-se - but on occasions they dress at complete odds with what used to be regarded as right-and-proper. By this, I don’t mean the return of top hats and tails or slinky cocktail dresses - but, the fact that a chap should never wear shorts to a wedding and ladies remember the golden rule of public decency - i.e. legs or breasts, never both, thank you very much. And you wouldn’t believe what people turn up wearing to funerals nowadays either. As I warm to today’s subject, I ask myself - why don’t doctors wear a tie or bother to shave anymore? It is a general rule in Majorca that people working in face-to-face contact with the public sat behind a desk, look like they have just got out-of-bed? Moreover, is it me, or do airline cabin crew, far from looking like the gods and goddesses of the past, now dress like municipal handy-persons or someone serving in the ‘Returns’ department of a well known DIY store? It’s called standards.… and for quite some time standards of dress have slipped appallingly.
As I’m on the subject, I have to say that your average British ex-pat is not usually a person who would recommend his or herself to any degree of elegance. I sometimes wonder if its about saying “bugger it” and not even trying anymore. I am attempting to be diplomatic here, but the stained Polo shirt over the grubby chinos look may well have seen better times, rather like the ubiquitous, multi-purpose sarong, which in Balinese actually means ‘Big Bum’ by the way. Nevertheless, returning to my earlier point, it is when we have to go out to some sort of formal function is where the fault lines of style and suitability are exposed. I mentioned earlier, some mens insistence on wearing shorts at a formal wedding; indeed at a number of weddings that I have attended in the recent past the kids in attendance are better dressed than most of the men sat there in their crumpled linen shirts, complete with sock-less footwear, rather like superannuated rent-boys.
It is often said that a young woman up to the age of twenty-five will look good in a black bin-bag. Much the same could be said of young men of the same age; the trick I guess, is for those of us over that age - just past it, or well past it…is to keep the following in mind at all times. Remember - More, is much-much better than less. You haven’t got a high sternum you’re fat. If in doubt, always wear tights - but, never fishnets…do I really have to tell you why? Gentlemen - Take that bloody medallion off! If the hairstyle you crave has a name e.g. mullet, mohican, or can be described as “edgy” - don’t even think about it. Ladies - always go for - ‘classy and cool’ over ‘out-there and hot’ unless of course, you really are out-there and hot, but you’re not are you? So don’t be silly. For men - wear blue jeans and a white shirt with a dark blue or black single breasted jacket and pull your stomach in. The End.