Rite of Passage Sixteen –A Little Larger Than Life–
1960 I am twenty-six years old
Q. Does “fashion” matter? What is the best use of wearing clothes “suited” for the occasion?
For those of you who have followed this blog since its beginning or who have the book Flash of Silver, it will come as no surprise that my life has been influenced by outward appearances.
It’s hard to avoid ‘dressing up’ when your home is in a hotel. From my early years I dreamed of being the Managing Director of the Dorchester Hotel in London. I had seen this elegant man all dressed up in pinstripe trousers, a morning coat (with a moderate ‘tail’) and a pearl grey tie, held in place with a single pearl!
In much the same way as a child imagines himself dressed as a fireman or a soldier, I was caught up in this sartorial image.
I was now confronted with how I should dress in order to go on television as a so-called international gourmet.
It is fashionable to describe a person who cooks on television as a ‘Celebrity Chef’ and many who do are truly chefs. I was not and am not, nor have I ever been entitled to that ‘rank’.
I grew up with chefs and I know and respect them highly and therefore have gone to great lengths not to be given that credit.
I did go to Food School therefore I am classically trained as a chef but I am without the practical application in a large commercial kitchen…hence, no white jacket and apron!!
My ‘outfit’ was the one charcoal grey suit that I owned and a very fancy double-breasted waistcoat (vest) and my old school (that I hated!) tie…oh…and cuff links!
So…what about now?
Last week I received back an older version of that charcoal grey suit from a friend who no longer had need of it. So, I’m back to owning a suit again, with slightly slanting pockets, a double vent at the back (in case I need to ride a horse?!) and beautifully hand stitched by a military tailor in British Columbia, Canada…way back in 1994.
I am obviously delighted that it still fits 22 years later –in fact, that’s me…all ‘dressed up’ in the picture…I don’t have my old school tie any more!
There may be a wedding or funeral in my future but otherwise there’s not much use for a ‘suit’ as my clothes are more casual nowadays…but that wasn’t always the case.
I have, in the past, spent many thousands of dollars on ‘designer clothes’ that helped me to appear to be a successful international gourmet celebrity.
We Brits call this “mutton dressed up as lamb”. It’s certainly true that well considered clothing can help one to be accepted, at least initially, in certain circles –where the high price of brand name clothing, pens and watches; is known by those who wear or use them but otherwise it’s simply a waste of money?
Now I feel more at ease in comfortable, clean, well pressed (thanks to my daughter) shirts and pants. I put on a tie now and again –just to be the ‘odd man out’!
If I am ever invited to the White House or Buckingham Palace, I now have the same suit style in which I began my television life…otherwise it will simply hang there…waiting.
This week I read Treena’s poem Potentate