Tales From The Water Cooler: An exclusive club is, well, exclusive

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The Independent Online

Men are often assured that there’s nothing more suave than a well-cut suit. But as with mother-in-law jokes, so with fashion: context is everything.

Last week, Harvard expresident Larry Summers recalled the afternoon in 2004 when the Winklevoss twins entered his office, a scene immortalised in The Social Network. “If an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock,” Summers said, “there are two possibilities. One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an a**hole.”

This week London businessman Peter Bingle, above right, fell foul of a similar principle. Having made a habit of wearing a suit and tie to Soho House, a members’ club that prides itself on servicing the creative industries, he was informed by the management that he was “too school for cool”, and barred for six months. Bingle is a seasoned PR man, so this may have been merely a publicity stunt for him, for Soho House or, indeed, for both. But that aside, what if his tie had been woollen, or knitted silk? What if the suit had been from a vintage store in Spitalfields, instead of Savile Row? He would probably have been considered sufficiently cool and allowed inside.

Dress codes are inherently silly, but the unfortunate truth is that an outfit says a lot about a person, and Soho House, where one pays to be surrounded only by “creatives”, was within its self-determined rights to eject Mr Bingle. If you’re the sort of so-called “a**hole” that endorses the idea of an exclusive private members’ club by joining one – be it the Winklevii and the Porcellian, or creatives and Soho House – then you can’t complain when they exclude you, too.