The Yahtorialist


By Thomas Cuthbertson

In the interests of sartorial truth, I think that it is time to dispel a myth and to dismantle a taboo. Fashion is, of course, full of taboos: what you can wear, how and where you can wear it, with failure to adhere to such strict rules often seen as tantamount to an act of sartorial heresy. Many of these rules seem to have been perpetuated in the form of the “old wives’ tales” that offer an always reliable source of popular wisdom or prejudice as the case may be. From “Red with Green: never to be seen” to some slightly less polite comments my Grandmother used to spontaneously make on a regular basis to describe people with red shoes, such advice puts clear limits on what is deemed socially acceptable to wear.

I myself live my life by a number of strict sartorial codes, chief amongst which would be that I have to be exceptionally careful when wearing stripes (especially red and white stripes which have a regrettable tendency to make my latent resemblance to Where’s Wally become suddenly worryingly uncanny). And yet, there are other taboos that I refuse to respect. Walking into a bar the other day, a stranger commented on the audacity I showed in combining a denim shirt, a denim jacket and a pair of black jeans. Triple denim! Whilst I don’t think that the black jeans should count, I do recognise that denim combinations are largely frowned upon today. I have no qualms about double denim, nor even about triple denim, and frankly if I could get my hands on a denim hat I would probably go as far as quadruple denim. That said, I do acknowledge that there may be room for some more variety in my wardrobe as far as fabrics are concerned.

This brings us back to last week’s column where I laid out my plans for making my own clothes. The fabric has arrived from eBay: not a hint of denim to be seen, I bought a job lot of fabric printed with sickly sweet kitten heads on. It turns out that making clothes is not as straightforward as I foolishly imagined. Sewing is much harder than anticipated as the holes in my fingers and indelible bloodstains covering much of the kitten fabric can amply testify. At the end of a protracted process of cutting, sewing, pricking, bleeding and swearing, I was the proud owner of a frankly unwearable pair of ridiculously badly made kitten trousers destined for the bin. I’m going back to denim. It seems less taboo.