Unless you live in One Hyde Park and ride a horse made of gold to the office every morning, if you work in central London, the likelihood is that your day involves some form of public transport-based commute.
Be it a two and half hour-long slog, like that of Esquire’s senior fashion editor, who schleps into Soho from South Wales every morning, or a 10-minuter like that of yours truly (smug much?) from Brixton to Oxford Circus, the reality is that spending a good chunk of your day making your way from home to office, factory, studio or atelier (don’t say we don’t know you, reader) is an unavoidable evil. But, before you weep into your oyster wallet, take heart – your commute need not be as bad as it seems.
Delays, bone-rotting boredom and noise pollution from other people’s headphones aside, the daily commute is one of my favourite times of the day. No, I am not a masochist. Neither am I one of those men who sit for hours on the central line naked but for a trench coat and a stiffy. Rather, I take great pleasure in making my way to work because I get the opportunity to gleefully despair at the style choices made by my fellow commuters. Here, for your reading pleasure, are a few recent bugbears.
1 | Wearing trainers in place of shoes
Do you wear high heels at the office? No? Then what are you doing wearing technical running shoes to and from it? Unless you’re rocking a pair of on-trend sneakers with a cropped trouser – and you intend to continue wearing them once you’re at work– or you have some terrible foot-based impediment (nuclear corns, a broken ankle, gout), it is never acceptable to wear ugly, functional running trainers with your suit. Invest in a pair of brogues, derbies or oxfords from Grenson, Church’s or Camper (the latter makes shoes that wear like trainers, but look smart) and save the runners for the treadmill.
2 | Taking off your jacket to air your armpits. In other people’s faces
Everyone sweats. The 200-meter walk from my house to the tube has ensured I will never again wear grey. Ever. And yet, despite my apparent porousness, if you see me on the tube you’d never know because I wear a jacket. And I will keep it on until I get the office, at which point I’ll head to the disabled loo, strip down and set the hand dryer to ‘cold’. The question is – why aren’t you all doing the same? Just because you’re in a tube carriage it doesn’t mean that your armpits suddenly become invisible to your fellow passengers. Wear a blazer; hell, wear some Mitchum, just don’t wear your sweat in my face.
3 | Carrying a man bag that looks like it came free in a cracker
As men, we tend to value function over form. Which is all well and good (kind of) until it comes to the stuff you wear (refer to point one). The same applies to your accessories. Just because that crackle-effect, pleather satchel with natty nylon strap and visible white seam stitching is big enough for your iPad AND your wallet, does not make it a savvy purchase. Buy some proper commuter luggage. You’ll use it every day, you’ll only have to replace the cheaper stuff ten times sooner, and – perhaps most importantly – other people will judge your taste in accessories. People like me.
4 | Leaving your hair wet so it dries on the commute
Unless you’re rocking shoulder-length, Elle Macpherson-esque tendrils and you’re hoping the natural heat of the air on the tube will give your hair a bit of volume, you should be drying and styling your ‘do at home. Not only do you risk catching the death of cold by leaving it wet, you also look a bit like a homeless person. Which is fine in theory, but not for the office.
5 | Wearing your sunglasses inside the tube
You are not Jack Nicholson, you can’t see properly and you look like a tool. End of.