My clothes mean a lot to me; they have history. The more long-lived the item, the greater its ranking in the wardrobe. I’m thinking of a shabby Italian tweed jacket of my mum’s that I poached when I was much younger 17 to be precised. I remember being told I was dressed like a “young fogey”; I took it as a compliment, and never looked back.
Not that I don’t rock shiny new sportswear. I do– but normally sticking to a singular theme.
I might be doing my best impression of a West Indian cricketer from the 90s, with bucket hat and wide collars, or Jamel Shabazz -era hip-hop style, high-tops and bomber jackets. Or more recently, travelling long haul, I might go full Nike Tech Fleece. What I don’t often do is cross the streams. I always want an outfit to feel complete. Perhaps it doesn’t help that I’m colourblind and often wear strongly contrasting colours, as they don’t confuse my eyes as much as blended tones.
But in aiming to never be underdressed, I occasionally end up overdressed. Maybe swapping clothes with my sibling for a day or two will teach me to find the in between spaces, the levels between levels of dressing, like that hidden floor in Being John Malkovich.
The first outfit is APC jeans
and a red tartan Fred Perry shirt, which fit very well, as does the navy Baracuta jacket with bright red lining. I have a flashback to owning two Baracuta jackets myself, but in lurid pink and neon yellow. In this incarnation I feel very blokey, and a little muted. My Air Force 1trainers are a lone beacon of white in a sea of navy and grey. The whole ensemble is not unflattering; I feel well put together, but a bit anonymous, as if I’m dressing to blend into a crowd, like an undercover cop. Young fogey? I take that as a compliment
At lunch, my friend points out the almost matching shades of plaid on my Fred Perry shirt and my jacket lining. “I like the coordination
between the collar and the jacket.” “Thanks,” I reply, grateful for a bit of early reassurance. But as always I’ve underestimated her French sarcasm. “I mean it’s too obvious,” she says. Ouch. “Your casual wear is more stylish,” she
offers by way of comfort. “Is this normcore?” I ask the table. “You look more like the slick guy in a movie about football hooligans. I’ll take that… I think.
The one thing I hadn’t bargained for is the cold. My winter wardrobe is full of layers, shirts and cardigans tucked under thick coats and blazers. I feel very exposed in my lightweight jacket. I resolve to dig out an old fishtail parka for the
rest of the day. It’s kind of sports casual, so I hope it’s not cheating.
On day two I wear my second outfit – a blue-grey Adidas Spezial Beckenbauer tracksuit – to the
football. It’s a warmer affair, thanks to the Stone Island x Nike coat that comes with it. To my surprise, the outfit gets a rapturous response. Unlike the first ensemble, which seemed to remind people of something I might wear, albeit
with the brightness dialled down, this full-on casual look is enough of a departure for people to really take notice.“You look perfect,” my dad chirps as I meet him outside the stadium. One of the football regulars, takes a shine to it, too.
“You should keep this as your look,” he says. My mum has given it her stamp of approval – she says it’s “very attractive” – and I start to wonder what all of this positive feedback says about my usual clothes. I think my mates enjoyed seeing a laddier side to my personality; they appreciated my style without the flamboyant edge. As I leave,I ask my friends why people prefer me in this outfit. He gives it some thought. “You look
like it’s 1997,” he says, “but you’re pulling it off.” It feels good to have had so many compliments in a single day, though afterwards I relish the return of the sense of expression my own style
gives me.Style is unfussy and practical, and there’s something comforting in that for both the wearer and those around them. Looking at my own colourful wardrobe, perhaps I’ve
learned that, sartorially, sometimes less really is more – for a trip to the football at least.
For me sportswear isn’t a trend – it’s a way of life. I love sports and I still dress the same way as the friends I grew up with. I take as much pride in choosing the right trainers as someone else would in a
three-piece suit. Not that everyone understands that; some people look at my clothes and seem to think I’m about to rob them. That’s definitely not the case – I’m just a normal guy who doesn’t wear super-fabulous outfits. I think my look reflects my personality. I’m easy-going, 21, not ready to be too grown-up quite yet.
My clothes are a uniform, really. I’m a fashion director of xpressafrica magazine,working on many different projects, so the last
thing I want is a dilemma getting dressed in the morning,*grins*
I’d put on a suit if the occasion demanded it – I wouldn’t wear a tracksuit to a wedding – but there are some things I would never wear. Like trilbies or anything too polished that deliberately turns heads. I prefer to blend in; my look is kind of muted. And I always wear socks but nothing clouded – I don’t think that cropped trousers, naked ankle thing looks
attractive. Not with my ankles, anyway.
For me, sportswear isn’t a trend – it’s a way of life.