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You wouldn't understand, it's called style.

Byline: Peter Elson

CLEARLY my state of deshabille must be cause for concern in the London publishing world, as I seem to have cornered the market in receiving guides about dressing stylishly. Probably my wife's tipped them off that I'm a sight, if not for sore eyes, then packed with redevelopment potential.

The latest exquisitely irritating tome, written by those so certain in sartorial matters, has secreted itself upon my desk.

The title, Style - What You Should Know, is matched (sorry, beautifully co-ordinated) with the unutterably smug introduction.

"What you don't know could fill a book, wiser men than we have said.

And here it is. That book, we mean, " writes one David Granger, editor-in-chief, of American magazine Esquire. The Americans are telling us how to dress?

Obviously some masochistic desire drives me on, as the one subject this book doesn't explain is how you can put it into practice on a hack's salary. Spending my working (and much of my non-working) life peering at and pedalling prose, I probably pay too much attention to the veracity of the written word.

Whom am I to disagree with Sergio Valente when he says: "How you look tells the world how you feel."

Who he is? Apparently it doesn't matter as, before burning my wardrobe contents, I read, "If you're still wearing Sergio Valente, you're telling the world that you feel like Huggy Bear, the pimp in Starsky and Hutch."

Some of the advice is ambivalent:

style affectations are listed as, "cigarette case, pince-nez, hip-flask, walking stick."

But, in an affected book, is this meant to be good or bad? "Toupees and comb-overs betray a level of moral dishonesty equivalent to the practice of buttock augmentation."

It is cheaper, of course, to have your hair more closely cut, but I suspect that those of us with lightly covered pates are put off by the threat that toupees would probably part company with us immediately on taking a swim. Or spin like a weather-cock when blasted with the Beaufort Scale's smallest breeze.

Sadly, I haven't the will to sensibly file this book under "B" for bin.

After all, I might be incorrectly dressed to go down those mean streets. I don't have a bumbershoot full-sized umbrella and, worse, I'm told: "The trenchcoat, while an excellent raincoat and quite versatile at a pinch, is not a proper winter topcoat."

Having decided to stay indoors, rather than commit sartorial suicide, I read what's needed is: "The Chesterfield."

Excellent! I can go out wearing a sofa. That's all it takes to turn yourself into a design classic.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 4, 2002
Words:431
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