Ready To Wear: Going around town in one's bathing suit is deranged, even if you are Sienna Miller'

It would not be unreasonable to presume that, given the rise in temperature over the past few years, we British might have learnt to dress in the heat. But no. The native male's predilection for doing his shopping topless when the sun shines is as prevalent as ever.

Last week in a west London branch of Office no fewer than three men of a certain age were witnessed by yours truly trying on shoes wearing their shorts and nothing else. His female counterpart's habit of ambling round town in a skirt and a bikini top, meanwhile, is equally unswerving. Or wait. Is it actually just a bra?

Three words. Make. It. Stop.

The excuse used to be, of course, that we weren't used to it: tarmacs melted, railroads warped, children were routinely sent home from school. Surely by now though we should have caught up with our European brothers and sisters who would never - but never - take off their clothes in the centre of a major city, not even in August. In Italy, for example, one would be hard-pushed to see anyone even baring their arms. Such behaviour, among civilised souls, is for the beach, thank you, and even then only when lying down.

In some ways, and where womenswear is concerned at least, fashion itself is to blame: a million billowing, semi-transparent tiered skirts and 10 million vest tops down the line and the catwalks might no longer push a Victorian lingerie-inspired aesthetic on unsuspecting Anglo-Saxons but the high street hasn't yet grasped that fact, not least because the look is so very cheap to realise.

So what should we mostly be wearing?

Ladies: vests are all well and good but only if they have thick straps. Camisole tops, though, should only be worn to bed.

City shorts - cut in fabric designed for metropolitan use and hovering around the knee - are cute on men and women but in the case of the latter should under no circumstances be worn with high heels, a mixed fashion metaphor if ever there was one. Micro shorts, however, are only advisable for the extremely young and beautiful and those with hairless legs and no telltale overload of orange spray-on tan around the ankle, please. Ditto miniskirts, which really do look much better worn in winter and with dark opaque tights.

Sweet - but not ethnic and certainly not flowery - summer dresses come highly recommended for her. Pale, interesting and roomy trousers (especially grey ones) in lightweight fabrics and worn with short-sleeved shirts is a simple but effective option for him. Above all, non-athletic men should stop stepping out in full football kit right now. And parading round town in one's bathing suit is nothing short of deranged, even if you are Sienna Miller, or especially if you are Sienna Miller, come to think of it.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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