2012 August 9

It’s been a summer of sport – the ab-fest of the Olympics leads seamlessly to the superhero performances of the Paralympics, and we’re all becoming athletic experts and exponents.

But there’s a downside to the love for sport – and it’s the competitive instinct. It’s not so much about wanting to be the winner of an event, as the way that sporting clothing can present opportunities for dissent and difficult relationships.

While there’s been a debate about whether the women’s beach volleyball should be played in bikinis or not (and the answer, at least as far as the players has been concerned is yes, bikinis) and the swimming suits worn in Beijing have actually been outlawed, the way that the average guy wears sporting casual clothing can lead to lots of stress for their classmates or work colleagues.

The problem is with the natural tendency of a testosterone-producing male to react to a dominance display – if the display is for a cause or club the male doesn’t support, the reaction will be negative, but if it is for a cause or club the male does support, it can still be divisive. An England T-shirt or a pair of Union Jack shorts can lead to less powerful males believing the displaying male is trying to take ownership of the team or cause – and that can lead the subservient male to withdraw cooperation because he feels he’s being pushed out anyway.

It may be subtle, but if you’re experiencing difficult relationships with formerly close mates, or feeling isolated at school, it may be worth looking at the extent to which you show your love for sport in your casual clothing and tone down the loyalty you display so that your friends can feel close to you again.

2009 July 14

fol hoodie

A hoodie also spelt hoody, is a mysterious thing. If you’ve never owned one, you view them with deep suspicion, especially if the hoodie wearer is following you up the street on a dark night. On the other hand, once you’ve experienced the comfort, warmth and general usefulness of a hoodie, especially if you work outside or are an athlete, you cannot ever imagine living without one.

While it developed as a piece of warm up gear in the 1930s, it wasn’t until Hip-Hop took hold in New York in the 1970s that the hoodie became a fashion item, helped by the first Rocky film, where Sylvester Stallone single-handedly made the hoodie into the garment de jour. And by the 1990s, the skater or surfer hoodie was ubiquitous. However, in the UK, the hoodie was associated with chavs, criminal activity and out of control youth. It was banned from certain shopping centres and the term hoodie culture was viewed as marking out all that was bad in urban, disenfranchised, delinquent young men.

But since the Millennium, the hoodie has begun a process of rehabilitation, and now that London will host the Olympics 2012, hoodies are becoming not just acceptable but downright popular.

A great hoodie, like those produced by Fruit of the Loom, has a number of features: it will be comfortable, it will be heavy enough to feel warm but loose enough to allow easy movement and it will be soft and comfortable to wear. It may have a drawstring hood and a front pocket, or a zipper and two side pockets, but it will always fit snugly around the face to prevent earache or loss of heat through the head. And it will be easy to wash and wear.  Given all its benefits, it’s good that the hoodie, or hoody is undergoing a renaissance, because as far as casual clothing goes, it’s definitely in the top ten for wearability.