Thursday, April 21, 2005


The bakers Warburtons are running a TV commercial for a new loaf that is identical to a wholemeal loaf - except that it is white.
Or WHY? Or even WHY???
The only explanation I can come up with is that they have identified a new niche market of wholefood racists.


A jeans manufacturer has a commercial for a new brand of jeans 'with anti-fit'. I was still struggling with this concept when I heard a woman fashion expert on the radio say "Of course, most clothes now are anti-fit".
What the hell is going on?

Do the chaps in Menswear now say "Would Sir like to try them on to make sure they don't fit?"
Do those same chaps no longer have to take inside leg measurements, which if you led a sheltered life could be the highlight of your week? For some of those old time shop assistants it was a labour of love and they would measure your inside leg even if you were only buying a tie.

Presumably anti-fit means tailors no longer have to ask if you dress to the left or the right. For mothers who took their sons to buy suits or trousers, briefing them on the correct way to answer that question was a greater challenge than explaining human reproduction.
When I was twelve and my mother bought me my first suit at Messrs Fosters, I fell instantly in love with the 16 year old apprentice tailor. As he guided me into the changing room he whispered "I'll come in and see how you look before your mother sees it." I stood there trembling with excitement until he entered and knelt down and tugged at the trousers and jacket and sleeves but mercifully stopped short of verifying whether I'd answered that tricky left/right question truthfully.
Behind my innocent face I was thinking that if I could persuade him the suit didn't fit it would have to be altered and that would lead to further intimate encounters in the changing room.
But that sodding suit fitted perfectly so I only ever glimpsed him again through the doorway as I loitered outside on my way to buy extra segments of track for my Hornby model railway.
I hesitate to call this a seminal experience because it wasn't in either sense of the word. But since it was so easy to retrieve from my long-term memory I suppose I should be grateful that it never led to an attraction to sex in cubicles.

I suppose 'anti-fit' also means you'll be a laughing stock if you take clothes back to Marks and Spencer for a refund on the grounds that they don't fit. "Hey Tracey, this bloke just said his jeans don't fit! And I was like 'Duh, look at the label, they're anti-fit.'"

Of course when you get to my age you have a wardrobe of clothes that no longer fit. But the joy of finding that you're suddenly the height of fashion is tempered by the fact that you can't wear the bloody things.
Even if you've been fortunate enough to retain the sleek style of an Afghan Hound, just an inch on the waist means your once favourite trousers feel like something devised by the Spanish Inquisition. Unless you're lucky enough to have access to a little old lady who will put gussets in for 50p a time and the occasional packet of Gypsy Creams. But they're literally a dying breed. There used to be one such in my village but she once provoked raised eyebrows and a lot of whispering when I met her in the newsagents and she said "Mr Lupin, when are you going to come round and collect your trousers?"

Fashion psychologists have said that the current fashion for baggy clothes among teenage boys is due to self-consciousness about their bodies. But that's something that has always occurred at puberty. So unless this generation are particularly sensitive, it doesn't explain why in the sixties and seventies we all walked around in jeans so tight that questions about dressing to the right or left would have been unnecessary.
Today, it even extends to a refusal to wear swimming trunks or speedos as they're now called. I was watching one of those life-swap programmes where a British family went to France. Their young son caused a huge scene at the school swimming lessons because he refused to wear speedos. Yet the French children all did so. So maybe this is a British or Anglo-American phenomenon. Actually, since most music and sports fashions - like skateboarding - associated with baggy clothing originate in America, let's say it's their fault. We blame them for most other things.
Don't blame it on the boogie. Blame it on the Yanks.


At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Speedo vs shorts controversy is fairly recent. A few thoughts:

1. until 10 or 15 years ago, most British chaps wore "trunks" - i.e. fairly clingy pants with no legs. Not exactly as brief or chic as modern Speedos, but certainly not shorts.

2. When I was in the USA 10 years ago, most guys wore shorts. To wear Speedos at the pool or beach was considered an outright statement that you were gay.

3. Most French swimming pools forbid the wearing of shorts. They say it's to stop chaps coming off the street in their dirty shorts and jumping in the pool. And nothing to do with copping a look at a fellow's wobbly bits. Oh no.

- Tony -

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Alan said...

Willie, you have plainly never attempted to get a pre-teen child to eat healthy (or basically anything that isn't complete crap) or you wouldn't need to ask the White/Wholemeal Bread question. God, I wish they'd had that stuff when mine were growing up.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Very interesting, Tony. I didn't know that was the case in America. It's amazing the many things over the years that have been considered a sign of being gay and the lengths that some paranoid straight men go to in order to avoid them.
My memory of 40 years ago is that our swimming trunks weren't much different from today's Speedos, minus brand names and logos.

Alan, at the risk of sounding like a total old fart, in my day you ate what your parents gave you or you didn't eat at all. End of story. In the Jamie Oliver experiment, once there was no other option they all ended up eating the healthy food and enjoying it. Children often don't want to wash or go to school but that doesn't mean they're given a choice. What's so different about food?
(But yes, it's easy for me to say that. I've never had to deal with it).

At 4:55 PM, Blogger portuguesa nova said...

Does the whole dressing to the left or right thing come naturally--like writing with your left or right hand, or is it something you actually try both ways before settling?

This is an incredibly American-centric theory, but I actually learned that the baggy pants craze started in black America. Something like one in five black men are in prison (with more college age black men in prison than in college). In prison, you get one-size-fits-all pants, which are often big and baggy. Prison fashion becomes street fashion, and then all of us lame white people try to be cool and copy them, and every boy is walking around with baggy pants.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Well I did say we should blame the Yanks. But it's a very plausible theory. Personally, I'd imprison anyone who wears excessively baggy jeans.

On the dressing left/right issue, I'm not sure it's so relevant now that most men wear baggy underwear like boxer shorts. I do not, but I'm really not sure whether I go left or right or somewhere in the middle like a Liberal Democrat.
I could keep a record each morning and report back to you if you like. But that wouldn't prove anything other than that blogging has enabled me to discuss such a topic with a woman I don't know on the other side of the world.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger WP said...

This trunks versus shorts thing is about small boys being very concious of their bodies.. Wake up everyone! My ten year old has been banned from his primary school swimming lessons along with some other boys for not wearing trunks. Young boys havent been brought up in the last ten years to wear anything skin tight (and to them revealling) to them its like swimming in underpants and its embarrasing. If this was little girls we were dealing with their would be an outcry.


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