If I score the bigger half of the wishbone from the Christmas turkey my personal entreaty to the gods of fate will be for someone to gather up all the world’s business suits, put them in a big pit, and then burn them.
Sorry, I know that’s not very constructive or environmentally friendly. I’ll happily accept their being recycled just so long as it’s agreed that no one makes new ones out of the material produced.
I recently trekked into the Indy’s office, something I do relatively rarely because getting across London on public transport with a mobility impairment sometimes feels like trying to complete a military assault course with a broken ankle.
But that wasn’t the worst thing about it. The worst thing about it was having to wear a suit. Not everyone does that in the office, but I was due to shoot some video so I sort of felt I had to in an attempt to convey some authority (please stop laughing at the back).
I was thus buying into the absurd convention that holds that you have to do an impression of an emperor penguin if you want your views respected.
The video team encouraged me to watch myself back after shooting. It’s generally a good idea to critique one’s performance.
But this meant watching myself in a garment that I’ve grown to hate. I know, at this point you’re going to suggest that I get a new one in the sales. Thing is I’d only hate that too.
It’s not just that I don’t think they look good on me. I find them uncomfortable to wear. That’s partly through living in a body that was run over by a cement truck. But I didn’t like them before that life-changing event.
You know what’s comfortable to wear? A T-shirt and jeans like the ones I put on the instant I got home. I’ll don a shirt where the occasion merits it, but working from home that’s my office attire.
It should be said, there are welcome signs that the Brits are starting falling out of love with a garment some of our European friends dispensed with some time ago. In February, The Independent reported the results of a study that found only one in 10 employees now bother. So doesn’t that make me look silly...
Thing is they’re still very prevalent in the media, at least the public facing parts of it. We’re beaten perhaps only by the Americans, where suits are almost fetishised by news anchors and sports commentators. Even coaches wear them.
That to me seems bonkers. I mean, you’re in the middle of a sporting event. The stars of the show are in brightly coloured kit, which the crowds mostly wear too. So what purpose can it possibly serve to look like a stuffed shirt in the middle of the sound and sweat and fury?
You know what perhaps the best living American sports coach, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, wears on the sidelines? A Patriots hoody. He’s mercilessly mocked for it by the hosts of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption. I doubt he cares. He’s Bill Belichick, the winner of five Super Bowls. He could wear a pair of speedos on the sidelines if he wanted to.
I know, I know, Gareth Southgate likes to dress up at matches, waistcoat and all. It became a “thing” during the last World Cup, when the England team exceeded expectations for once. But I’m willing to give him a pass, partly because he comes across as an unusually thoughtful and intelligent man for one in his profession, and he’s taken shots at racists.
So Gareth, you can keep your suit. And so can Gary Lineker.
I’m prepared to make allowances for one or two others. Say, Will Ferrell when he plays Ron Burgundy because he makes me laugh. But these will be strictly limited, and I’m going to institute the sort of application process that would make the Home Office blanch for those that want them. That, by the way, is a place where you’ll find a lot of suits.
You know who else wears them? The world’s biggest arseholes. The people who make life miserable for the rest of us. The sort of people whose photos you want to put over a dartboard before throwing flighted pieces of tungsten at them.
Donald Trump wears a suit. So do Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. So does Jacob Rees-Mogg. He probably arrived in the delivery room wearing a miniature version of one of those 19th century things he favours. You know, the ones that look like they were bought at one of those places specialising in “vintage” clothes and then spruced up at the House of Commons dry cleaners. CEOs wear suits. Bankers do too. Despots seem quite fond of them.
Here’s who don’t wear suits: A&E doctors and nurses. Care workers. Charity workers, by which I mean those who get their hands dirty rather as opposed to their CEOs. Your favourite musicians (unless classical is your thing). LeBron James (although I suppose he might wear one for business meetings) and other sporting types who make us happy when they win. Oh and JK Rowling.
The next time I brave the London obstacle course to shoot some video I think I’ll look for a different way to try and appear authoritative.
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