After a fashion

I’ve been wearing clothes of one kind or another since the day I was born. You’d think I’d have got the hang of it by now. And yet I know as much about fashion as the average Kalahari bushman knows about networking computers. Indeed, said bushman would have your PCs talking happily to each other and might also have installed a communal printer long before I could even find a shirt and a pair of bags that didn’t make me look homeless. It’s a truism that some people look good no matter what they throw on while others could spend all day on Fifth Avenue with Bill Gates’s credit card and still go home looking like Bill Gates. But why should this be so? I mean – why? Is it to do with body shape? Facial features? Haircut? What? I demand to know. And don’t give me that line about some people having ‘style’. If it was true that some people are simply good at wearing clothes and some people aren’t, then it would make no difference if the two groups swapped duds. And it does. Brian Ferry in a shell suit is still Bryan Ferry, granted, but the shell suit’s still a shell suit and he won’t be topping any more polls if he keeps it on. A more likely explanation is that some people are good at choosing clothes. Here we seem to find a glimmer of hope. If being well-dressed is simply a matter of skill, then surely that skill can be acquired. Why not? If I can learn Italian from a tape, I can learn how to pick a jacket. Not that I have learned Italian from a tape, you understand, but the point stands. Where are the evening classes, the public lectures, the sun-tanned gurus? I want to open a folder one day and see the words ‘Module One: Trousers’. And the sooner the better. The needle of my personal fashionometer, after years of hovering almost permanently around ‘Scruffy’, has started making alarming jumps towards ‘Partially sighted’.

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