Currently it is 5.40am and I have just departed London King’s Cross, travelling at an ungodly hour to Paris for arrival at 9.17am. People are surprisingly chatty at this hour, nattering away with blood shot eyes and jittery hands as though they’re in the early days of abstinence. I’m trying to listen to “Easy Listening Jazz Recommended Playlist” but all I can hear is laughing. Why are you laughing so much at 5.40am on a 150 minute train?
I’m on my way to Paris because I would like a holiday. I can’t remember the last time I went away for the purpose of leisure, and ‘me time’ at home in your underpants and dressing gown isn’t quite the same as ‘me time’ smoking and boozing outside over tartare de beouf (steak tatare. Though I should just say that, as they laugh at me whenever I attempt the former). Relaxing is important for a healthy living, as are mix-ups and change, and the repetition of the same surroundings and same strangers is not good for inspiration for a creative role. A similar ethos can be applied to the way we dress – relaxing, mix-ups and change.
I wore this parka yesterday when I went with a dear friend to dinner at Bao. I like green, but I haven’t worn anything light for as long as I can remember. An avid fan of Margaret Howell and her minimal ilk, she has a brilliant sense of style, and also a sense of mine. After casually gnawing through some delicious and delicate dishes from the queue-laden Taiwanese restaurant, Lena comments “I like your parka”. I replied “Really? REALLY?” as though we couldn’t possibly be looking at the same coat. “Yeah, it’s not very you, but we don’t ALWAYS have to play the same character”. She’s right.
I’d like to point out at this stage that there are no problems with the parka. Actually, it’s very good. PARKA LONDON – give away with the name – sells a variety of parkas from the fishtail parka you’d have seen all across British culture to 2-in-1 styles with detachable vest linings. The 2-in-1 I have is warm and that’s all that really matters. I like a parka because it’s mostly no thrills and functional, true to its Inuit and then military origins. I don’t really appreciate a dozen pockets, excessive leather trimming, or four ways of fastening on a coat that really works best simple. Even the Mods loved their simple parkas over a pristine suit, leaving the modifications to their bikes and hairdos. For the brand to have a says-it-all name as PARKA LONDON, I think it’s important they maintain that simplicity with minor but useful adjustments, and from what I’ve seen they’ve done that.
So, we don’t always have to have the same formula every day, particularly with style. I am often described as “a man who loves denim”, “the guy for minimalism”, “king slick G” (the last may be my self-created pseudonym), but every time I read them in wherever it’s written, I always think “well I haven’t worn double denim for a few weeks now…and I wouldn’t really call that wedding cake layer-upon-layer look minimal either”, and it’s good not to be defined or confined by one aesthetic. It’s important to try whatever you want to try, because one day you might want to trainers instead of shoes just because you want to and that’s it. Screw the rules that people try to adhere to. Comfortable style doesn’t have to be so bloody clinical, and as the cliché goes, style is about attitude more than anything else, not just the clothes on your back. If the clothes don’t feel right the first time you wear them, try it again and you might just like it.
Update: the laughing has stopped, much to the enjoyment of those sitting next to me. They laughed so hard they passed out, mouths gaped open with trickling drool. Stupid children.