I saw a lone peacock across the way,
Strutting and preening, acting so gay,
He lauded “I’m the king of urbanity”
Also known as the prince of vanity.
As I surveyed my wardrobe options today, I confronted the age-old question that every young man should encounter at least once. Should I wear zippy new pink socks with my ubiquitous red trousers? The answer – to borrow from President Obama – is: “Yes We Can”.
I first became aware of this clothing conundrum at Newbury racecourse and presented the poser to The Chap magazine. Their butler, the author of their fashion letters page, gave me the confidence to embrace this bold colour pairing. Alas I erred on caution, splashing bright trousers with wildly dull shirts or visa versa. It is the same with shirts and ties adage – don’t mix spots with stripes. Excitement must be balanced by banality.
Breaking so-called fashion rules doesn’t bother me. Both sexes follow the style of the day slavishly. I haven’t seen a girl wearing a pashmina scarf for ages. Yet, three years ago one couldn’t enter a King’s Road pub for fear of death by pashmina. As for chaps, the pocket squares currently adorning many blazers and suits will, I’m sure, be next year’s fish and chips wrappers.
Personally I prefer to dress like The Guardian’s cartoon of a chinless SW man in suede shoes, fond of a good sock, seasonally coloured chinos, shirt, rather partial to V-neck jumper when chilly and a blazer.
I have a thoroughly good time poncing about in my vivid accoutrements, blissfully aware that bright clothing raises hackles. Some research claims people in red trousers are commonly reviled and my Grandmother always said “Never trust a man with socks a lighter colour than his trousers”.
It would be a much poorer world if we all thought the same.
At a wedding reception I spied a vicar in gleaming duck egg blue socks. Like a moth to a lamp I sped towards him and immediately revealed my respectful admiration. He grabbed my forearm, in a manner that only men of age can.
“I’ll let you into a secret, young man” he whispered “yes I am a peacock. Yes the socks look great. The real reason I wear them is that people come and talk to you, as it is a great point of conversation.”
The wise vicar was implying that it is less ‘hey look at me’ and more ‘look come over here and natter’. Clothes are an expression of oneself, a way to fit in to the crowd, to be individual, or to eradicate diffident characters. Granted the wrong choices can the leave one looking a bit of a plonker, but it is much more enjoyable to stroll the pavements and not see conformist outfits.
We peacocks are the showmen with skins as thick as a cart horse’s hide. Respite only comes at my favourite sporting arenas – Cheltenham and Lord’s. Racing is mainly bucolic-influenced but at Lord’s one comes across the most outrageous outfits. The MMC colours are eggs and bacon and members wear them with fervent pride. At Lord’s one feels soberly dressed next to an octogenarian, with that post lunch look of bewilderment, head to toe in red and yellow. Remembering the summer glow of Lord’s further convinces me to pair the red and pink.
Dust down your feathers when the sun starts to show and let the judging world see you in all your frippery.