While finalising details for a weekend break, the organiser utters the dreaded words ‘smart casual’ and a chill runs up my spine. How can there be a dress code for a holiday? Little did I know that this was only the first of a long list of stipulations about dress and behaviour, that we have to sign and deliver on arrival. I’d tell you more about it but am sworn to secrecy, another stipulation, as if I’ve joined Fight Club.
I neglected to mention the smart casual thing to my sister – half forgot and half didn’t dare. After all, she believes in Casual with a capital C. Remember how appalled I was (and I’m hardly a dedicated follower of fashion) at some of the ‘outfits’, and I use the term loosely, that she thought appropriate for work in a publishing firm. Luckily, the publishing world didn’t really have any rules about what you could wear. But I once remarked that it was one thing to be comfortable and another to look like you’d been sleeping on the streets.
When grunge arrived, our homeless style was finally, and fleetingly, fashionable. As I said to a friend, we don’t do ‘boho chic’ so much as ‘hobo chic’.
And one thing we definitely don’t do is ‘smart casual’. The phrase alone is anathema to us, conjuring up dire images of tragic over-30s singles nights and discos. It literally makes me want to throw up to think of men in pressed shirts and jeans, of people being sent away for wearing trainers, of women tottering along in ridiculous high heels, unable to walk properly.
Neither do we do plain ‘smart’, ‘dressy’, ‘formal’ or, as it turns out, ‘finest, trendy outfits only’, as we found when we tried to assemble a passable getup for a TV show audience. Ended up borrowing a dress off a friend’s teenage daughter and wearing red vinyl ankle boots given to me by my then seventy-year-old second cousin in Wales about fifteen years ago. Bang on trend, me.
Not possessing a pair of shoes between us, we’ve always steered well clear of anything demanding any kind of dress code. But these days it seems even holidays impose strictures on participants’ attire. What’s the world coming to? Will the fashion police be posted outside the houses of known offenders to veto their ensembles before they are allowed to venture out in public?
Perhaps they will, if this article from The Sun is anything to go by, proclaiming:
KINKS star Ray Davies looks a long way from his Sixties heyday — wearing jogging bottoms that are too short and white socks. The Dedicated Follower Of Fashion rocker, 67, was known for his dapper style in his youth but he looked scruffy yesterday in a brown UPS delivery firm jacket.