By Thomas Cuthbertson
Going to London always puts me in something of a tizz. Within minutes of arriving in the capital, the perennially disorientated provincial that I am, I discover – with a constantly renewed disappointment I’m sure was shared by Dick Whittington – that the streets of London are in fact not paved with gold, but rather with dog shit and confusion.
I went to see a gig in Shoreditch last week; a place so absolutely bewildering that the Oxford Tube I took home seemed by comparison a veritable hub of calm and normality. I suppose that from an exterior perspective, Shoreditch is largely notable for its rich panoply of sartorial choices; Vice magazine concentrated in an EC2 postcode. I for one quite like it; the variety makes a welcome change from the decidedly more uniform scenes we have in Oxford.
Then again, going to London always seems to force me towards a sartorial rethink. A few months ago, I went for a meal for a friend’s birthday wearing a blue knitted jumper, thick green cords and brown brogue boots. When I arrived I was greeted by the poshest man I have ever met (distinguishable mainly through a phenomenon I like to call ‘posh hair’) who was dressed in exactly the same way as me, just posher… Turns out that my fashion ‘style’ could be termed something like ‘ironic-but-unaware-posh-boy.’ A discovery I found so upsetting that I had to rush home and put on my Kappa jacket until I felt normal again (‘normal’ seemingly being a 90’s illustration of the phrase ‘street wise’).
This led me to think about the way in which we use clothes to define ourselves. Beyond Brideshead Revisited types or faux East London boyz, Oxford doesn’t really seem to offer the same degree of sartorial tribalism as the capital. That said, we all get used to dressing (essentially marketing ourselves) in a certain way. I would never wear anything by Abercrombie & Fitch or Jack Wills, not necessarily due to anything inherent to the clothes, but rather because I inevitably make book-by-its-cover judgements about those that do. It’s largely unconscious, but this prejudiced way of categorising (sometimes even discounting) people is something we all occasionally indulge in.
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