Jeremy Langmead: The Fashion Journey Never Ends

The editor-in-chief of mrporter.com shares his style lessons each week.

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I had lived in London for 27 years with no intention of ever letting go. A childhood stuck in a small village with one bus a day; a 60-minute walk to my Saturday job at a tea shop in Rye, and a wary suspicion of anything that mooed or neighed had put paid to any yearnings for a rural idyll. In fact, I had even been nervous about moving from Shoreditch to Primrose Hill eight years ago with its unnerving mass of open green spaces and cupcake cafes. For me, exhaust fumes, broken glass and discarded Starbucks cartons were more a comfort blanket than a nuisance.

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And yet, as I may have pointed out before, I now find myself living in a ramshackle old house sitting in the middle of acres of pastures, fields and ramblers. Instead of ordering a pint at The Lansdowne on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I'm collecting pine cones to repair the roof of the folly in our walled garden; instead of watching The Voice on a Saturday night I'm staring at the lambs frolicking on the other side of the ha-ha; instead of a lie-in on a Sunday morning I'm jumping out of my skin every time a hare, mallard or muntjac deer jumps out of the long lawn grass.

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And, most surprising of all, I'm a commuter. Each weekday morning I sit on the train at 7am for the 43-minute journey into Liverpool Street with a cup of coffee, a novel, and the head of a sleeping stranger resting against my shoulder. I've even learned to top up an Oyster card. My friends and family can't quite believe what's happened. I suppose neither can I.

But – and I'm sure the novelty will wear off – I'm finding the commute quite intriguing, both for how my fellow travellers behave and how they dress. For most of them the commute is organised with military precision: they have the timing to a tee for how long it will take them to park the car, buy a cappuccino and a copy of The Times and reach the platform, where they will wait at the same spot each morning, and they know which carriage will arrive nearest the right exit at the other end.

Sartorially, their accessorising is quite impressive, too: one drop of rain and the platform is suddenly a sea of umbrellas (even if 10 minutes before there was a bright blue sky. How do they know?); likewise, on the odd occasion the sun beats down, they all seem to have a pair of sunglasses to hand (rather too many of these resemble inelegant ski goggles for my liking); and footwear veers towards a sporty/smart hybrid for a hasty trot down to the Central Line.

For bags, the most popular style with all ages is the hefty rucksack, sadly awkward ones that look as if they were made to take on a triathlon rather than a train to work. I think I'm the only one carrying a tote. Funny that. Not enough blokes have realised quite how practical one of these can be: they easily carry phones, keys, book, wallet, spare gym kit and a laptop. And they don't all look poncey; my blue canvas one by Beams Plus looks utilitarian rather than fashion-y and has a hidden shoulder strap –  useful when you're trying to balance coffee and ticket machine.

The biggest disappointment is the number of men who still wear their trousers too long, with large folds of fabric smothering the shoes underneath. On the whole, it seems to be a profession rather than a generation thing. Those from the creative professions tend to wear their trousers (chinos and coloured jeans are popular) slim and with roll-ups; commuters from their more formal counterparts tend to let their pinstriped or black suit trousers drip down onto the floor like a melted ice cream.

Of course, the most popular accessory on the train is a pair of small white headphones. And, judging by the repetitive tinny beats emanating from most of them, techno makes the perfect early morning soundtrack. In fact, if you close your eyes, it sounds more like Ibiza's San Antonio than London's Tottenham Hale.

Finally, I am now going to share with you an important scientific discovery that perhaps my fellow commuters know already: choose your outfit the night before, not the morning of. I've discovered that my ensemble is a lot more successful if I've laid it out before going to bed rather than picking it out after jumping out of the shower. Not only do you have more time at night, but the clothes-choosing section of your brain functions more effectively than shortly after waking up. At my age, your eyes work better too. It takes a good 40 minutes before mine can focus properly each morning. It's an act of self-defence, of course. If I could actually see what I looked like first thing, I would never make it to work at all.