2009 May 14

stripe-poloEvery so often things go wrong in the world of fashion. This year’s spring fashions for example, were all drawn out and made up as ‘forms’ that is linen models of the real garments, six months ago, when the first rumbles of recession were beginning. That’s why the spring catwalks still showed some non-austerity styles and colours, which are not exactly flying off the racks right now.

When recession bites, people tend to like flamboyant colours and styles – that’s why so many women’s clothes this year are floaty peasant styles, even though they take up so much more material than skin-tight summer wear that you might expect to be more popular when clothing prices increase.  Colours also dial up to the vibrant end of the spectrum, so expect a lot of bright green this year, but not lime, that’s so last year’s Lily Allen, rather it will be pistachio and mint green that predominate, along with pure yellows.

For men, the stripes that were predicted last autumn are very much in evidence – striped T-shirts, striped polo-shirts and quite a few striped shirts for evening are proving to be popular.  Colour is a surprise for men though, a lot of chocolate brown has turned up, along with strong blues, and so if you’re looking for something to make a fashion statement, a brown polo shirt could be just the right thing, or a T-shirt striped in two shades of blue.

If you work in an office where formal wear is necessary, avoid buying black. In a recession, black trousers or skirts can make you look like a temp, or even worse, the waitress who’s come to collect the coffee pot – you don’t want to give the impression you’re not necessary to the business, so invest in grey clothing instead, teaming it with the seasonal colours listed above, so grey trousers with a yellow T-shirt look both summery and professional for women, while men can wear lightweight grey trousers with a blue shirt.

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.