Sartorially Satanic: The Politics of Christmas Jumpers

If you reside in the UK, you may have noticed an increase in the amount of Christmas jumpers being worn in public over the last few years. 2013 has truly bought this ‘trend’ to head. For the Christmas jumper, once exclusively the ironic Sociology student’s choice of festive apparel, has spread to all corners of society. WWP has spotted this atrocity in the following places (the list is not exhaustive):

  1. On successful businesswomen shopping for suiting at 7pm on a Friday night.
  2. On schoolchildren in lieu of school uniform.
  3. On receptionists at the dentist.
  4. On dental nurses at the the dentist.
  5. On a Chinese woman who, in broken English, asked me where she could find a matching Christmas jumper for her two year old son.

Many socio-fashion commentators have rejoiced at this fact, and the 200% rise in sales from last year makes for some great editorials. Joshi Hermann’s piece for the Evening Standard, for instance, calls on the population to embrace the jumper as “a symbol of national Yuletide togetherness”, no doubt picturing a nation populated by middle-class, 30-something SW19 dwellers. Others have lamented the abhorrent aesthetics; the ugliness that has permeated the high street. Yet like many things in the fashion world, if you dig a little deeper it is clear that this issue is not all sugarplums and Santa.

This year, Save the Children launched ‘Christmas Jumper Day’, whereby one wears a quirky jumper to work or school and pays a pound towards the charity. All for the best of causes, however it has two uninvestigated implications. Firstly, unlike an average charity ‘non-uniform day’, children are asked to wear a specific item of clothing. Ergo, parents are forced to purchase a specific item of clothing. Notwithstanding the amount of playground teasing this may lead to (“Mine’s Vivienne Westwood’s bespoke design, yours is from F+F at Tesco?!”), this is a gross economic pressure on families below the breadline, particularly at Christmas.

Secondly, most families will not be bidding on the British Fashion Council’s designs at auction (Mary Katrantzou, McQueen and Peter Pilotto all created brand new designs).  They will instead minimise their costs and head to Primark, Gap, Asda and H&M, all of which are infamous for their unethical labour practices that often involve young children.

So as a rough calculation, £1 goes towards Saving the Children and around £15 goes towards keeping them oppressed by giant retailers. And that kids, is the true meaning of irony.

Advertisements

Sartorially Satanic: Queen Elizabeth

‘Fashionistas’ tend to fall into two categories: those who love colour, and those who hide away from it in fright. WWP unashamedly falls into the latter category, whilst Roberto Cavalli, Anna Dello Russo and David Bowie occupy the former.

There is also the existence of the colour hyprocrites, those who insist on dressing the rest of the world in neon whilst they themselves crawl back to their wardrobes of black and grey. The profession of this third species of man? Stylists. Imagine Andrea Lieberman leopard print; Gok Wan in pink. Those who can wear colour do, those who don’t style. And the relationship between the amount of colour worn by a stylist and the amount of colour they use when styling is very often inversely proportional.

Ergo, the Queen’s stylist must look like Wednesday Addams. Why must she always wear so much of one colour? Particularly – why must she always wear PURPLE?

 

This Cadbury’s Milk Tray look wouldn’t be a problem if she mixed in some neutral tones, or wore simpler pieces. But she doesn’t. Everything her lazy stylist pulls out in the morning is one block colour. Nowadays, you don’t have to match your bra to your knickers, or your shoes to your handbag, so why match your hat with your jacket with your dress with your lipstick?

This problem isn’t just confined to royalty, it’s a worldwide phenomena. We as a society have been led to believe that our lives will be changed if we wear colour, and we’re predictable and morbid if we don’t. This is all down to those pesky colour hypocrites; specifically it’s the fault of Gok Bloody Wang. The ‘How To Look Good Naked’ producers would never dress their subject in a cute black shift dress in the final reveal. It has to be jewelled tones, bright lips and (for some unfathomable reason) a neckerchief.

We the people must reclaim our right to wear black. Black is easy, flattering and mysterious. Moreover, wearing colour all the time will not make you ‘fun’ or ‘edgy’ or the worst of all things – ‘random.’ Most of the time it will just make you look like a CBeebies presenter.

As for the Queen, I feel she is a lost cause until she becomes a widow. But the day Prince Philip dies will be the day I stop caring about the royal family altogether.

Style Watch: Rebekah Brooks Trial Special!

Despite the fact that she’s clearly a hardened, evil criminal, I’ve always had a small soft spot for Rebekah Brooks. Her hair is pretty awesome – like a better version of Vivienne Westwood’s or Grace Coddington’s – and, notwithstanding her current peril, she held her own in a men’s newsroom. She also took on the Leveson enquiry with style, in a black dress adorned with Peter Pan collar. (Of course, those less educated in fashion happenings made tedious comparisons to the cast of The Crucible – proving they really missed the point of that play.)

But the real test is how well she stands up in court. For the courtroom entry/exit has produced some of the most timeless photos of modern time. See Marianne Faithfull stepping out on the arm of Mick Jagger, drenched in fur, or Amy Winehouse turning up to her assault trial dressed like a 1950s Cuban prostitute in 2009. I doubt we can expect the same from Mrs Brooks, but let’s see what she’s got.

Appears initially strong – a classic wool – but no pale skin can truly do the camel coat justice.

 

Rebekah Brooks and Charlie Brooks, Old Bailey, 29/10/13

A boucle jacket! The separate poised to overthrow the hideous trouser suit! Nice one Becks.

 

I spoke too soon. Have a terrible feeling this is a trouser suit. Girl needs some blusher and lipstick to brighten up that anxiety-ridden face of hers.

 

Better. Do not have full bosom in photo so cannot see whether she can pull off the hipster-button-up (there’s a fine line between chic and matron). But a refreshing change of pace.

 

Oh Jesus Christ. Judging by this cardigan fiasco, I’m guessing that she couldn’t pull off hipster-button-up. STEP AWAY FROM THE MONOCHROME REBEKAH.

 

…GO BACK TO MONOCHROME, I REPEAT GO BACK TO MONOCHROME!

The Beckhams Vs. The Bercows

Two couples of Great British refinement – are they really so different?

In terms of style, of course they are. The foundations of Beckingham Palace were built on image, even before Victoria sent out her first collection down the runway. Victoria’s style is encapsulated in that pissed-off non-smile that she always bears: cool, reserved, knowledgeable. Her husband is probably never without a stylist, or indeed a wardrobe full of free clothes sent by designers. Boy can also rock tailoring in a way only bettered by Fred Astaire. John Bercow on the other hand dresses like your average politician, albeit with a collection of flamboyant ties.

And then there is Sally. Sally of Evening Standard fame, an interview in which she tried and failed to make politics interesting simply by putting the word ‘sexy’ in front of British Parliament terms: “I never realised how sexy I would find living under Big Ben”; “The view from Speaker’s House is incredibly sexy.” Draped in a bedsheet and attempting to look like something out of Last Tango in Paris, she quite frankly came across as an uneducated tit. In clothes, she doesn’t fare much better. She’s forever showing just a little too much arm and cleavage, she never seems to dress for her body shape, and her make-up is reminiscent of a deranged, jilted bride from a 1940s film.

This wouldn’t be a problem if her output in public life offset this chaos in her wardrobe. In general, if you are a good person who does good things, shallow people like me tend to leave you alone (see: Mo Mowlam in terrible trouser suits; Steve Jobs in that stupid poloneck; Alexandra Shulman and her penchant for cardigans). Yet Sally Bercow’s lifestyle and image feed eachother. Every appearance she makes in the media serves to inflate her self-caricature further, from her frustratingly brainless disregard for libel laws, her Big Brother appearance and her description of herself as a “a personality.” She is a mess, but worse still, she is a mess with bad hair.

Which brings us to the similarities between the Beckhams and the Bercows in terms of spirit. The crucial difference here is that the Beckhams are a pair of equals. Both are incredibly successful, and hence they complement one another. Their fame has endured past their status as the celeb couple of the ’90’s and is now more a by-product of their professional accomplishments. The Bercows in contrast, appear as two separate entities at war via the media. Poor John seems to just want get on with his job; his wife is hungry for the front page of a paper that berates her husband and his colleagues on a daily basis.

Call Posh Spice a terrible singer, call Becks an air-headed footballer. But they have much more PR sense and grace than Mr and Mrs John Bercow MP.

Sartorially Satanic: The Politics Of Fashion Week

An interesting fact: there are only 6 months of the year that aren’t decorated with an ‘official Fashion Week’.  Another interesting fact: Norwich (home of both Delia Smith and Alan Partridge) hosts a fashion week.

My point – besides the fact that this blogpost may not be as unseasonable as it sounds – is that the term ‘Fashion Week’ is one that is banded around ruthlessly, from the highest offices of the Big Apple to the sleepy towns of rural England. Why? It is a clear publicity spinner. We are living in a time when anyone with a WordPress account can call themselves a fashion blogger, just as anyone with a Twitter account can call themselves a political commentator. And if you are a fashion blogger, then a local Fashion Week is probably the one event on your calendar which permits you to blog about something of substance. (That’s right, your £40 H&M-based haul vlog does not count as substance, neither does your blog about what you wore to your Grandad’s 80th birthday party). Here, the intrepid blogger gains a ‘press pass’ via an online form, and can be spotted a few rows back, iPhone/SLR in hand, taking photos of everything that comes down the runway. Only mental notes are taken, and no true criticism prevails.

So much for the local Fashion Week, but what of the Big 4? Well in this instance, the bloggers have not created a PR storm as much as they have created a monster, or a joke. London Fashion Week is a 3-4 day long event that revolves around a big gazebo erected in the middle of Somerset House, where the shows take place. Of course, the whole of London cannot get a seat, so the real ‘action’ takes place on the cobbles outside. Here, in an extraordinary display of symbiosis, Bloggers take pictures of other Bloggers, and blog about how great all the other Bloggers look. This anthropological phenomena is aided and abetted by the Models: those who aren’t really models but art students and attention-seekers who wear something outrageous, smoke, and look edgy. They provide sartorial food for the Bloggers, who more often than not cannot blag tickets to a fashion show.

And so the Bloggers head home to blog about their ‘amazing time’ at Fashion Week. Of course, having seen a grand total of zero shows, their blogposts should really be entitled ‘My Time at The Circus Surrounding Fashion Week.’ But the circus is really now the main event. All the glossies send photographers to capture street style – which is just about as ‘street’ as Princess Michael of Kent’s parlour.

Notwithstanding the clear PR-ingenuity of said street style photographers, I suppose the politics of Fashion Week is one of democracy, of people power. It is the young, innovative spectators making the front page, not necessarily the millionaire designers. But what’s missing is substance in the form of criticism. Adjusting the process of ticketing for shows could mean that bloggers, free from unbreakable corporate relationships, will also be free to criticise the collections. Bloggers themselves need to become more analytical. The people need to ransack the palace; the bloggers need enter the tent.

Alas, many bloggers these days are tied to commercial contracts just as much as the magazines. But that’s for another blogpost.