I learnt that lesson within hours of donning my first £500 Armani suit; my first suit of any price; come to think of it, the first suit I had of any kind that was worth a monkey.
And monkey was exactly how I felt after having been foolish enough to wear it into a newspaper office. Certain, so I thought, to make an impression in my sleek, navy blue, woollen, unstructured, understated, loose-fitting, Italianate garb.
But no. "You haven't got the shoulders for it," I was told repeatedly. That's the whole point, I sighed so knowingly it felt as satisfying as speaking fluent Italian. Anyway, what did that bunch of cynics know?
I did some research. Armani wearers included Eric Clapton and Mickey Rourke. Soulful, moody, tough when provoked. I just needed the right environment.
Showbiz. First stop a press conference given by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny De Vito and Emma Thompson to promote their new film, Junior. How wonderful. I was better dressed than any of them.
As they squeezed by me in the corridor of the Dorchester Hotel, I saw Emma stop, look and hesitate.
The temptation to touch the soft wool must have been strong, but she had a reputation to consider. I understood.
On to a glitzy party given by the top theatrical agent, Annette Stone, on the fifth floor of Harvey Nichols. Where better to be in the height of fashion? Here, a tactile gathering took advantage of every opportunity to touch my jacket. Strange how Armanibrings out this Pavlovian reaction.
Some of the comments about the classical tailoring and fluid cut following my natural figure, I blushed to hear; comments about the trousers fitting the line of my bum well and flattering the waist, I was determined to accept as compliments. Comments ab o ut the buttons looking a little cheap, I simply ignored.
I felt as though I had just flirted with the Armani persona, not truly lived it. And then I realised where I should be - Broadcasting House, headquarters of the most famous Armani suit wearer in Britain, John Birt, director-general of the BBC.
I arranged a meeting there and, once it was over, just strolled down the corridors. It was magic. Looks of fawning and loathing interspersed. The apparel proclaimed that I had arrived.
And then my inflated ego was punctured. Someone from the BBC sports department pointed out that Armani had become the favourite choice of footballers these days. Couldn't move for it.
I had thought I had the passport to blues, rock, showbiz and the dizzy heights of the media. And all the time I could have been watching Arsenal.
David ListerReuse content