2013 May 9

sir alexSo, the most successful British football manager of all time is retiring. For many it’s the end of an era, and all those other clichés. There are also a thousand theories about what made Ferguson so great and one of them is related to clothing.

Scientists at Portsmouth University discovered that a team’s belief in their manager’s competence is related to the way the manager dresses. So Ferguson’s habit of wearing tracksuits in training, and suits and shirts for match days, creates the perfect blend of competence. A tracksuit or leggings and sweatshirt on training days suggests the ability to transmit technical skills while formal clothing for match days inspires belief in strategic competence.

Surprisingly, the effect is greater on the opposition, than the team being managed, so part of Ferguson’s longevity may be his consistent approach to always dressing like a player when coaching and a businessman when in front of the opposition – over long years of media exposure, he’s created a persona that appears to have perfect mastery of both sets of skills, creating an air of omnipotence that threatens both players and managers on other teams.

Gamegear_Tracksuit_104_282One way that this has been proved true is that in February last year, when Sir Alex appeared on TV in a suit and white polo neck sweater rather than a shirt, social media networks and sports commentators alike were agog about his apparently insignificant change of attire – and all kinds of theories abounded. Several tweets went with the line ‘The name’s Ferguson, Alex Ferguson’ referencing the famous white polo neck of James Bond and linking the two great British icons.

Few other managers have such an impact and, apart from Jose Mourinho, none of them score anything other than own goals, clothing wise. So it seems that to dress like a boss, on and off the pitch, has been part of Sir Alex’s success story.

2009 October 1

elasticated_jog_pants_Heather_GreyToday’s jogging clothing is designed to be worn as separates or as coordinates, this means you can combine T-shirts or sweatshirts with pants or just use them as garments to lounge around in.

This versatility means you can mix up combinations of jogging clothes and produce coordinated or contrasting outfits to match the activities you have planned.

Usually, jogging pants or bottoms come in plain colours which can be layered with other similar colours to make a matching ensemble on contrasted with bright prints and patterns to make a design statement.

If you’re actually going out for a jog, you can choose a short or long sleeved top depending on the weather and your personal comfort. Many runners prefer longer trousers or jog pants for several reasons:

1.    They stop the big muscles at the front of the leg getting cold – because they are always exposed to the weather you’re running into, these muscles can chill very easily, impairing your performance.
2.    Jogging pants stop you getting wet when you run. A little drizzle is nothing but if it makes your legs cold your temperature can drop dramatically.
3.    Jogging trousers keep brambles, nettles and other nasties off your legs if you’re running cross country.

Classic jogging pants will offer you elasticated waists and often also have cuffed or zipped leg openings. There is often a drawstring at the waist so that you can make sure you have a perfect fit.

Cotton garments can hold the sweat more but are absorbent so they are ideal for chilly days. Make sure that your jogging pants have good deep pockets or anything you carry will tend to bounce out as you run.

2009 April 16

m109s_loCurrently Thailand is recovering from political turmoil that left protestors dead, and what you wear, while in the country, could get you into very hot water indeed.

In Thai society, politics has always decided what colour shirt you wear. Red shirts and T-shirts have been the consistent preferences of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, led by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, while yellow shirts have been worn by the People’s Alliance for Democracy, otherwise known as the incumbent political leadership.

But that’s not all, Thailand also gives particular political emphasis to blue, pink white and orange shirts. So that’s really a bit tough if you’re colourblind, because if you can’t tell orange from yellow, for example, you could end up in all kinds of trouble.  It was seriously suggested that tourists in the area of Bangkok should make sure they were wearing floral shirts in public, last week, to avoid ending up in confrontations.

In a completely unlinked revelation, as The Apprentice takes over our TV screens again, it’s been revealed that a couple of decades ago, Alan Sugar’s ardent fans, hired to work for him, grew beards to resemble him and were called by their less enamoured colleagues ‘Sugar Cubes’.  What this really points to is that corporate culture and society care a lot about how we look, and those who want to get on with be careful to examine how the boss and his favourites dress and look enough like them to fit in, without becoming a slavish ‘Sugar Cube’.

So how do you do it? The place to start is dress down Friday or whatever your organisation, club or company uses to distinguish ‘casual’ from ‘formal’ wear, whether that’s Sunday at the pub or the after college kickabout of a football with mates.  This is where small sartorial clues are given.  Look at the leaders; those who have power, and see what they are wearing. Don’t just take a single snapshot, look at these powerful characters over a couple of occasions, and see what the trends are. Do they wear strong bright colours or neutral ones? Are clothes neatly ironed or casually crumpled? Which is more important, hair or hats?

These are clues that allow you to fit in without being a clone. If the top guys or gals wear pale colours and have immaculately pressed garments, make sure you are wearing cream and grey and that you run an iron over your trousers and shirts before you wear them. If they prefer bright yellow or lime green and have creased T-shirts or shirts that look as if they’ve been picked from the washing line and pulled onto the body, then that’s what you must wear too.

Always dress slightly above the average, so if some people wear jeans, you should never drop below cargo pants, but if some people wear shorts, it’s fine for you to wear jog pants. This means that you don’t ever look too casual or relaxed. And if a disaster strikes, you aren’t the one person who looks like they weren’t ready for it, because you’re not the one who’s ‘worst’ dressed.

2009 March 5

long_sleeve_oxford_shirt_atlantic_blueEx-President Bush’s supporters are sniping at Barack Obama’s team, on everything from new Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement that waterboarding is torture to the president’s casual clothing choices. Holder has been criticised by the former Attorney General who said that the comment would affect the ‘morale and the dedication’ of intelligence officials, while a former chief of staff got into the clothing debate by saying that the new ruling that weekends should be downgraded to ‘business casual’ clothing is wrong. He also criticised President Obama for being photographed in his shirt in the White House (there has been some whinging about Mrs Obama not having her arms covered in the evenings too) because, according to the ex chief of staff, ‘There should be a dress code of respect’ rather than a ‘casual, laissez faire, short sleeves, no shirt and tie, no jacket, kind of locker-room experience’. Wow – who knew that a short-sleeved shirt could cause such controversy?

Sometimes casual clothing is purely good news  – when the Nikkei average rose 0.95 this week, it was largely because of good February sales at the Uniqlo casual clothing chain. Apparently, when the Japanese get depressed about the economy they go out and buy sweatshirts and jog pants … fascinating.

And Hoodie-Hoo day is celebrated in Pennsylvania on 20 February. Although it doesn’t have anything to do with hoodies, most people who take part were wearing one this year, along with a thick winter coat, hat and gloves.  It’s the twelfth year of Hoodie Hoo, which was invented by Tom and Ruth Roy – Tom was a disc jockey who ‘created’ the event as part of a list of holidays that he read out on air. Basically, at noon, people go outside and yell “Hoodie-Hoo” to chase winter away and get ready for spring. They also ring school bells apparently. Hmmm …

2009 February 16


You’re looking forward to a couple of weeks of sun and fun, and you’ve booked a place known for great beaches, clear water and fantastic weather. So what do you pack to ensure that you have the best possible holiday?

The answer is to travel light, but prepared.

Organise your documents carefully: you need passport, ticket and boarding passes, but take your driver’s licence too – you might have to hire a vehicle for some reason and without it, you’re stuffed.

Make sure your carry-on or overnight bag has your daily toiletries and at least one change of clothes that will get you through if your luggage is delayed. If you’re travelling to the tropics, this means taking swimwear, a spare T-shirt and shorts or jog pants, and a good ‘evening’ shirt for men, or a simple lightweight dress for women, so that you don’t find you have to buy an overpriced cossie or pair of trunks to take a dip. It also means you can get down to dinner on your first night without feeling you’re wearing the same clothes you travelled in.

Try to pack a wheeled suitcase as you often find in smaller island resorts that you have to carry your own bags.

Tropical climates are usually mild, but make sure you pack for a stormy day too. So as well as underwear, take two or three pairs of cotton trousers or jog pants and a couple of pairs of shorts. Six T-shirts, a couple of more formal polo-shirts and one or two good shirts will get men through, whereas women will need to pack a wider range of clothing – a couple of pairs of dark coloured but lightweight trousers can be worn in the day as well as with smart tops at night, a couple of short lightweight dresses can be worn with T-shirts underneath in the day to look more casual. Women will need one really good dress for casinos and shows, and men will need a tie and jacket.

You’ll need a lightweight, waterproof jacket in the event of rain, and a telescopic umbrella can double up as a parasol to protect you from the sun if you need it.