When you live outside of London, you tend to frequently play host to city-dwelling friends who fancy the idea of a boozy Saturday night dinner followed by a sleepover and a lazy Sunday stroll before nipping back to town. The things I enjoy the most about this are, a) seeing how everyone looks first thing in the morning when they stagger down to breakfast (as it’s my home I always have more grooming remedies to hand than they do), and b) noting the diverse array of slumber-wear that appears at a house party.
The most popular choice with men is the jogging pants and T-shirt combo. This seems perfectly sensible as it will see you through breakfast and, if you’re so inclined, it will work, too, when teamed with wellies and a jacket for a potter outside. The most popular styles I see are grey jersey trackie bottoms, as discussed in my last column, hoodies of a more adventurous shade and, I’m sorry to say, an inordinate number of low-slung, V-neck T-shirts.
Oh, why oh why, is the deep-V Tee (no coincidence it sounds like a sexually transmitted disease) so popular? Every time I ungraciously point out to my guests how unappetising these look on men, they stare back at me as if I’m some mad old uncle (Monty). I suppose they have a point. But most of these V-necks are so low they morph into a Y-front. I imagine each time they go for a wee, wearers pull the V down a little lower, pull out their willy, and go for a waz without any need to touch their underpants at all.
I just don’t think men should wear tops that have more non-top than top. I don’t want a pair of someone else’s pecs, however toned, to land on my muesli as they reach over the table for the milk jug. It’s sometimes like breakfasting with a bevy of male Page 3 models or Hollywood starlets; surely sideboob displays belong to red carpet film premieres, not Sunday morning brunch.
The deep-V T-shirt isn’t confined to slumber parties (and summer holidays). A fair few have appeared at some of this autumn’s more glamorous events; I’ve even spotted a small number worn under tuxes at black-tie parties. Not only are the wearers quite clearly feeling the cold (if their distressingly prominent nipples are anything to go by), but I always think the V of a T-shirt clashes with the V-shape a jacket makes at the same point of the torso. Avoid a VV if you can.
Now, I would hate anyone to think I was in the slightest bit superficial (wahahahaha!), but I have to admit I do on occasion notice my guests’ choice of socks, too. Hard not to as nobody wears slippers any more. There was a half-hearted revival a year or two ago with some fashion-forward fellows donning embroidered slippers for in- and outdoor use, but it was appropriately short-lived.
No, my bugbear with socks is basically the foot version of the deep V: the secret (sneaker) sock. I’m all for comfort and practicality, but I do think that secret socks should remain just that: something that is never seen. When you remove your trainers, put a proper sock on. The sight of a pale, insipid foot, semi-covered in a skimpy flesh-coloured piece of fabric clinging onto the toes for dear life, and yet hanging off the calloused heel without a care, is wholly off-putting. It’s like walking around with an old, bloodied Elastoplast dangling from your foot.
Reading the above, you may think I’m the host from hell. But actually, all I’m saying is that if you’re coming to stay, please wear some clothes. Surely that’s not too much to ask? Well, as it happens… last week I got a call from a film company asking if they could rent our house for a documentary they were making. Great, I thought, the money they’ve offered is good, and I might get to learn more about the human genome, or Corinthian columns.
But no. They wanted to film a sex party at our house; a sex party for 100 swingers. “But don’t worry,” they said, when they heard me gagging on the end of the phone. “It’s all professional couples, a few single ladies, and no single men. And we send in industrial cleaners the following day.” Jesus. I’m still recovering from the fact that Susan Boyle is pictured hugging one of my armchairs in the publicity pictures for her latest album. Who knew that a house in the country could be so mired in controversy?