Sometimes, when a new piece of fashion comes along, you wonder not about the insanity of the concept, but about the person who allowed themselves to be persuaded. I wondered this when JW Anderson’s collection for London men’s fashion week, this week, included frilled top boots, bustiers and grey shift dresses, all in a non-transvestite context. I don’t wonder that Mr Anderson had the idea; I wonder that anyone else at all, from backer to clothesmaker to the poor old models, went along with it.
And then there is the onesie. It made a certain leap into the public consciousness this week when Nick Clegg admitted he had been given a big green “onesie”, or an adult romper suit. He claimed not to have worn it yet, and if he ever did, it would be in the privacy of his own home. I’ve seen the look on the face of Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, and I know about the views of the Spanish nation about “dressing for comfort”, even in the privacy of one’s own home. She does not look like the sort of person who would put up with a husband wandering about the house in a onesie.
But who was it that went along with the invention of a giant romper suit for men to wear at home? Who on earth agreed that a garment invented so that babies could dribble and wee and be kept nice and warm in their damp cocoon would be an attractive garment for adult men to wear in any circumstances?
Astonishingly, the onesie is selling like hot cakes. Grown men can’t wait to get through their front door before throwing their clothes off and secreting themselves in a sweat-inducing sleeping bag with a hood. They come in all manner of sizes – I found a company that will sell you one if you have a 52-inch chest, and promises that it will be lovely and loose. One wretched company that is making money out of this horrible trend says that it “allows you to curl up on the sofa without it feeling tight or pulling”.
Personally, I am pathologically incapable of sitting around the house in a dressing gown, and I think I’ve watched television wearing pyjamas only if I have a 100 per cent guaranteed bout of the flu. So the onesie is not for me. Being allowed to walk around the house in stockinged feet seems quite daringly casual enough.
Half the world will never understand the other half, and I dare say it’s baffling to the onesie fan that people like me always get dressed, don’t lie in bed, could not eat their breakfast in anything they wouldn’t wear outside. The word “uptight” is being mouthed, even now, I know. The other half cannot understand how anyone could possibly wear a garment originally designed for people too young to control their bowel and dribble functions, especially, but not only, if they are going to be seen by another human being.
And is the onesie going to remain an indoor, private garment? Don’t bet on it. Clothes once worn only in the bedroom or on the beach are now common sights in shopping centres. The old Italian rule that you didn’t wear shorts in an urban setting, or the American rule that white wasn’t worn after Labor Day, seem quaint and remote in a world where the street has been thoroughly pyjamafied. The widespread appearance of onesies in the street as well as on the sofa at home cannot be far away.
Of course, people are free to wear what they like, decency permitting. But I can't help feeling that anyone so neglectful of their personal appearance as to wear these monstrosities in the sight of another human being doesn’t actually care very much about what anyone else thinks. It is just nicer to share your house with someone who has taken some thought about what to wear today. On this important issue, Nick Clegg was wise to say that he hasn’t worn the onesie he was given. No one would vote for a politician who, by putting on one of these horrors, cared so little for what can only be described as the considered views of others.
From on high: the Shard’s viewpoint tells a fraction of the capital’s story
Unlike most tall London buildings, the Shard offers a viewing platform from its highest levels. I went up it this week, and was knocked out by the magnificent spectacle. The whole geography of London is laid out before you, far below; the river traces a meandering, irrational path, bending back and forwards like a leisurely stream in a meadow. Some cities have plenty of viewpoints like this but, in London, this is unique.
I’m sorry to report that this apparent populism comes at the steep cost of £25, and the Shard cannot be described as a palace of the people – the public entrance is not the centrepiece, but very much tucked away. There is a luxury hotel set to open, and restaurants which are described as a “world-class dining experience”. The 10 apartments which occupy 12 of the upper floors of the building are said to be priced between £30m and £50m.
It’s disappointing to see so little imaginative use made of the community – no library, or cinema, or public space that you don’t have to pay to access. Still, that’s the world we live in. The worst of it comes with the telescopes at the top, that identify the 300 or so most interesting sights of London, including a fair number of other luxury apartment complexes and lavish offices. What I would like it to do is indicate, too, some of the working-class developments that formed south London, the housing projects that so impressed Sherlock Holmes. The lesson from the Shard’s edited version of London is that what matters here is luxury and money. And that is not the whole truth, even from this privileged viewpoint.Reuse content