The women of London have decreed that the weather is hot. I have deduced this quicker than Michael Fish could hook a hurricane by taking the Tube. Whilst the poor maligned business man is sweating into his suit the lucky ladies are skipping in the sun with tight-less legs. Their pins seem to have been hibernating in wait for such a sweltering week like this – already preposterously tanned!
This sudden heatwave has been joyous and has reminded me of Aprils as a child, before global warming made it such a mercurial month. I have spent a few languid afternoons on my roof terrace soaking in the sun and reading a book by Picasso’s former lover. Indeed we all seem to treat the sun like an old lover; ardently embracing it with that nagging knowledge that it will soon be gone.
The heat brings with it rather serious clothing issues. There is nothing more ridiculous than a gentleman in shorts, unless he is on the rugby pitch. Correct gentlemen will never consider wearing anything other than their suits to work; but the weekend is a wholly different matter – and I am as culpable as the next man. The comfort of a pair of shorts is second to none but it throws up so many flies into vats of ointments that it is frankly easier to wear trousers.
The major issue for a pasty-legged Englishman in shorts is actually the footwear. The shoe is the most important garment on show – it is the first piece of clothing I examine when I meet a friend or foe. The shoe tells me a lot about the wearer; it not only demonstrates their jobs, social status, and wealth but shows the wearers attitude to life. I have pals who work in the city reaping in buckets of money by the hour, yet their weekend ‘shoes’ tend to be of the sporting variety (German or American made) and ill-maintained.
I am yet to discover the perfect summer shoe; veering wildly between the old faithful docksiders, loafers, espadrilles, and, if I must, the flip flop. There is of course the suave Italian driving shoe which must be worn sockless – available in vibrant colours, it produces a rather European vibe.
The “classic” sock and sandal combination is adored by a peculiar type of Brit abroad – which is about as appealing as watching Ed Miliband nibble on a bacon sandwich. None of these options fill me with hope for the trinity months – more a discreet terror and goose pimples on my calves.
The length of short depends wholly on the chap – I like mine a spit above the knee and definitely on the formal side of smart. The sporty amongst us may dare to see who likes short shorts and discover that there are not many who covet a glimpse of thigh on a Tuesday afternoon.
If, by some miracle, one discovers a short and shoe combination to complement legs that look like limp celery left in the fridge for too long, the thorny question of socks rears its monstrous head; “To wear or not to wear, that is the question.”
In short, the answer is no. There is no exception to this rule and even if you think you are wearing a shoe as sophisticated as Oscar Wilde, do not pop a swathe of cotton underneath it. Functionally the sock acts as a buffer between perspiration and leather, however there are times in a man’s life when sartorial elegance must overrule comfort.
If I had my druthers I would stroll the world in suit and tie, taking the summer as an opportunity to dust down the linen. Luckily in 2015 I am in a minority and it is now convention to be in shorts as soon as the swallows begin to show. This hypocrite behind the typewriter is joyously sitting in the sun and eating a lunch of English asparagus; dressed of course in shorts and quite frankly loving them!