AA Gill On... Safari Jackets

Our resident agony uncle tackles your dilemmas

Dearest Unc,

I've noticed a trend for safari jackets. I feel very uncomfortable with this. Do we really think it's OK to wear a garment that has such strong and distasteful colonial overtones?
Piers, by email

Piers, I'm just trying to imagine you. Yes, I'm getting a picture. You're wearing jeans. Not expensive, no recognizable logo, because you don't want to be implicated in the multinational fashion conspiracy. Some sort of non-hip-hop trainer. Your girlfriend's (ex?) gym socklets. A T-shirt and a V-neck jumper in an inoffensive primary colour, from Marks & Spencer. All topped off with a handmade frown of universal humanitarian concern.

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There's a name for people like you, Piers: chugger-bait. Don't concern yourself with the safari thing, because even if it were the traditional workwear of Durham miners you wouldn't wear one. Clothes maketh the man. They don't make you some other man. If you wear an SS uniform it doesn't miraculously turn you into a Nazi. It almost certainly means you're a public schoolboy going to a fancy dress party. Do you really imagine that cowboy boots are emblematic of the genocide of Native Americans rather the embarrassing pedal accessory of thrash metal air guitarists with balding ponytails?

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That Guernsey fisherman's sweater won't make you better at singing sea shanties. And do you think that perhaps a frock would turn you into a transvestite? It wouldn't. It would make you a pantomime dame. Because tranny, cowboy, fisherman and SS officer was what they were before they got dressed. In your case, you're not really anyone before you get dressed. You only know what you're not. You don't wear suits because they're the uniform of authority, or tweed because it's county Tory, and heaven forbid fur. You don't need a look, Piers. What you need to get is a persona that isn't defined by who you're not. Until then you're just going to have to look like everyone else on the Tube. For the rest of you, safari jackets are the business. Discover your inner Michael Winner.