What should I wear?
My wife is in Colston Hall in Bristol watching Caitlan Moran. I told her about the event and she got the last ticket. I'm sitting on the sofa, dishwasher chugging in the kitchen, daughter still awake and thumping about upstairs, and I'm watching Caitlin on YouTube and feeling envious. And I just I can't help wonder what she's wearing.
Caitlin (I'm struggling to refer to her as Moran) writes about how clothes project an identity for an occasion, hence the refrain 'but what should I wear?!'
'Wait!' you often feel like saying. 'If I were wearing my collegiate corduroy jacket, instead of this school-run dress, you would include me in your conversation about Jung!'
Yesterday I wrote under the assumption that How to be a Woman was about mainly female issues, but after watching her discuss her new book I realise she was writing about female issues that women don't discuss: "each chapter was something we don't talk about: menstruation, abortion, hair'. She writes not with the intention of breaking taboos, but with elucidating through comic prose women's various undiscussed difficulties. Clothes being one of them.
A joiner friend of mine recently explained what was wrong with the decorating in my downstairs bog. Now I walk about my house tutting because some amateur didn't sand that bump down, didn't caulk that corner, clearly used a moulting paintbrush where they could have used a roller, and why the hell gloss, I mean really? I also recently started reading Reddit's Male Fashion Advice (MFA), and now I open my drawers and tut at the out-sized t-shirts (with graphics) and the boot-cut jeans. My work recently instituted a dress-down policy, and my sight is plagued by three-quarter length denim combat shorts, walking sandals worn with cheap hiking trousers and a dress-shirt, grotesquely over-stitched hybrids of smart-casual brown-leather trainers, jeans with bleached in artificial fades, and worst of all, people who just carry on wearing the same pair of black nylon trousers and bobbly white shirt. Some men wear whatever's in Topman and Esquire, but some don't know where to begin and slub around in ugly trainers and bad denim. It's awful both ways, but of course it's not really.
There's no right in fashion, only faddish prejudice. So when Caitlin talks of outfits for an occasion, I think of outfits for me, one outfit with variations that reflect my interests (books and programming), my ethics (hard-wearing), my class (middle), and my attitude to other people (friendly, anti-authoritarian). There are no clothes that say these things, except when we imagine they do. But, this month, this ideal of dress is being summarised by my brain as brown leather desert boots, dark, heavy Levi 501s, and block colour or white t-shirts. I don't think I've ever been as happy with a look as I am with this one. It may not be that interesting but at least I don't need to worry about what I should wear. Until that is I flick back to MFA, my equivelant of Grazia, and find out that we hate dark demin now.