The Irony of Fashion

You don’t seriously think flat caps, toothbrush moustaches, and onesies are cool, do you?

Is the unfashionable becoming fashionable? Now, this is not to say that I don’t appreciate that there are plenty of items that come back in time and time again. My father was extremely pleased a couple of years ago when he found he could wear his aviators without feeling like a cast member of Bug’s Life. Or take chunky knit wear, creeping back in last year only to be taken to the next level this Autumn with yarn so chunky you might be mistaken for the unshaven bellwether yourself. Before 2010, the only man to look good in wool was Withnail… And that was the 1970s. It was cold then.

But I’m not here to tell you about cyclical fashion. Indeed my intro may have been a little misleading – but then I thought you may not have got this far if I’d said ‘is the unfashionable still unfashionable, but somehow kinda cool?’ Yeah, didn’t think so.

What I mean to talk about is the fashion of irony. Take the moustache. I defy anyone to tell me that the toothbrush moustache is cool. It’s not cool. You look like the masturbation trench coat man from the YouTube video. Not cool. And yet this bushy number is springing up all over the shop; it’s even made it to the northern hinterlands of York. Ask someone if they really think it’s cool. “It’s ironic”. They don’t say it, but that’s what they mean.

Another one: the flat cap. Not cool, unless it’s the Somerset farmer/Oliver Twist look you’re after. But take a look at this week’s campus style icon and you’ll see that someone thinks they’re cool. I read a blog this week that claimed in amongst all the posh-bashing that Prince Charles is a fashion icon. Well perhaps, it was only this week that I donned a neck-tie.. ironically…

Perhaps readers think this is the height of hipster, the height of being outside of the constraints of fashion. Caring what people think is so restrictive. But really this just comes under an area of fashion that plenty of people ascribe to: standing out. For many, fashion is a means of hiding bumps (not the baby variety, or not for most anyway), accentuating curves, bulking up the skinny – but for others it’s a statement. What’s even better about ironic fashion is that it’s all about you and your audience – it’s not ironic to wear a ridiculous Christmas jumper if you think it looks good. But now the whole country’s in on the joke and it’s OK. You still look ridiculous but everyone knows you know it.

You also look ridiculous in a onesie, but then that’s different because then all you care about is that you’re ridiculously warm…

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