Until quite recently I spent my life prioritising comfort over style: non-iron Oxford shirts with handy breast pockets, relaxed fit high-waist trousers, and roomy tank-tops. You get the idea. Then I hit 40, and realised it wouldn’t be long before a complete stranger would be feeding me soup in a room smelling of PVC and piss. Life was passing me by and my comfortable, wide-fitting shoes needed to catch up. “Could this be my mid-life crisis?” I asked myself. Before I had time to answer, I was jumping out of airplanes, going to the gym and wearing baseball caps. The most energetic thing I’d done till this point was make a meringue.
One day last year I picked out a nice pair of shorts in a trendy shop. As I entered my pin number into the machine, I noticed a sign: “Quality clothing for 16-24 year olds”. Ah… What should I do? Politely ask for a refund? Pretend I was buying them for my nephew? Run?
That notice was polite way of saying: “Go away old man. Find your own demographic. You don’t belong here”.
Marks and Spencer is good for two things: food and underpants. I didn’t always know this. For years my entire wardrobe consisted entirely of fur-lined M&S slippers, breath-easy socks and lambswool cardigans. Without doubt, the crowing achievement of Mr Marks and Mr Spencer is their “Active Waistband”.
This clever innovation discreetly introduced a large piece of elastic into the waistband of a gentlemen’s trousers. Suddenly anyone with delusions of weight-loss could confidently buy trousers two sizes smaller than they ought.
Now, instead of having to undo my pants after dinner, my Active Waistband would take the strain. In fact, no matter how active my waist got, these minor miracles never let me down.
If I was making a fashion statement, it was the wrong one. I knew I was really in trouble when my own mother said: “Look at your trousers! You should get yourself moderned up a bit”.
“Moderned up” means wearing something with covered in rivets, with a big logo on the front, or a distressed finish. Maybe all three.
Out went my Farrah slacks and two-tone loose fitting polo shirts. In fact, anything machine washable was a no-no. In came tight-fitting, overpriced T-shirts and leisure shoes designed for skateboarders. I’ve spent fortunes on jeans that look like they’ve been worn on a building site and have taken to wearing badges on my backpack.
I figure I’ve got maybe four more years of this before I get arrested for crimes against youth culture.
In the meantime my comfy M&S “fat pants” are in storage. I know it’s only a matter of time until I’m ironing creases in my cocktail slacks and my waistband moves with my stomach. Bliss.