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Clothes make the man ... normally

A WORRYING development has occurred in the world of fashion.

I know: every development in the world of fashion is worrying. But this one's a doozie. Normal clothes are about to become fashionable. "Normcore", they're calling it.

I've enough trouble already with beards being "in", a passing phenomenon I'm sure. But normal clothes as worn by regular folks? Give over! Fashion is surely about the outlandish. It's creative, artistic, impractical and absurd. Some of the millinery alone could induce a heart attack.

However, I could be in the clear here. It depends on your definition of "normal". One learned article in a London newspaper says: "Think unbranded jeans, plain sportswear, chunky white socks." Say what?

Actually, unbranded jeans is correct. But plain sportswear? Chunky white socks? Unhand me, madam. Fleeces and New Balance trainers are also specifically mentioned, so that puts me back in the with the in-crowd. Add my beard and I'm quite the trendsetter.

The fashionistas say the new plan is to blend in with the crowd, something I never seem to manage. The crowd quickly susses I'm not one of them.

But I do have a couple of fashion tips for the mob, particularly you menfolk. First, suit and shirt. You can wear a cheap suit and expensive shirt, but never an expensive suit and cheap shirt. For some reason, it's the shirt that makes the ensemble.

I can't remember where I first learned this. Bitter experience probably. Or perhaps an article in Shirts Weekly.

Secondly, don't purchase anything outré. Purchase something normal but of good quality, so you stand out just a little bit but nobody can work out why. Don't buy a pink or purple shirt. But a really good white or light blue one.

Working from home, I don't put any of these rules into practice. I slop around in a baggy fleece and trousers with an elasticated waistband. However, the fact that I look a mess need not undermine everything I say about habiliments.

Once, for a magazine article, I was sent for a personal outfitting. The fitters were female and I recall their persistent tittering. I overheard one mention "a funny shape".

I still have the yellow waistcoat with mauve spots that they said matched my complexion. However, I gave the tangerine three-piece suit to a charity shop. Later, they burned it in a secret ceremony involving two druids and a fully qualified exorcist.

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