Fashion is mass cultural hypnosis.
It’s a Saturday afternoon and, having told me that my wardrobe is a little “tired”, my girlfriend decides to take me shopping in Shoreditch. We go to a store called A.P.C. It’s French, which is apparently justification for charging £75 for a t-shirt.
Once inside I immediately feel uncomfortable. The people in here are different. They have unblemished, olive skin. Their clothes fit. They do not have the permanently awkward, anaemic look of someone who has just finished masturbating. This place is not for me.
By the time I’ve seen the warning signs, it’s too late, I’m in the tractor beam of a hipster shop assistant from Brooklyn who’s wearing enough colours to induce an acid trip. She’s insisting that buying some jeans would be, like, totally the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
To make matters worse, my girlfriend and the shop assistant appear to have fused into Siamese twins and are simultaneously barking at me about colours, cuts and sizes. I’m scared and disorientated. It’s like a sartorial Vietnam.
Moments later, in a flurry of arms and emphatic adverbs, I’m standing in my boxers, alone in a 4ft by 4ft cell with a pair of absurdly tight jeans and a distinct absence of dignity. Somehow, I’m supposed to get these jeans on. Beginning to panic, I look around for something, anything, that’s going to help. Do they have Vaseline dispensers for this kind of thing?
The first attempt starts well enough, but I can only get as far as the thighs.
“Err, could I have another size up, please?” I call out nervously from behind the curtain.
“Oh come on sweetie, you’re TOTALLY a 28,” comes the nasal reply of Brooklyn girl.
TWENTY EIGHT? 28 inches? I wasn’t a 28-inch waist when I was born. What kind of snake-hipped jockeys shop in this place? Mick Jagger?
So I try again. Eventually, after much pulling, struggling and twisting, I get them on. After breathing in to the point of asphyxiation, I even manage to get the jeans buttoned. Moving, however, is a more complex challenge. My entire lower body appears to have been shrink wrapped.
Somehow I manage to get out of the door without ripping anything, although each step almost certainly diminishes my chances of procreating. The reaction outside is jubilant. My girlfriend and Brooklyn girl are shouting and whooping with joy as if I’ve just surgically prevented Piers Morgan from ever speaking again. The jeans, apparently, look good. In my naivety I’m swept up by this notion as well. I’m temporarily convinced that buying these things might actually be a good idea, that maybe I’m not a fashion vacuum after all.
I’ve set myself up for a fall, of course.
On returning to the changing room I bend over to pick up a hanger from the floor. That’s when it happens. The sound is horrendous, a trumpet blast of a rip from somewhere around my nether regions. I hold the position, bent double. The chatter of the shop outside has been replaced by grim silence. The beautiful people are displeased.
There is some desperate hope within me that the sound wasn’t what I thought it was, that actually I’ve farted extremely loudly without feeling it. A swift examination of the jeans’ rear seam dispels this notion. They are horribly ripped.
“Are you OK in there?” sneers Brooklyn girl. My girlfriend clears her throat. I am no longer the hero of the hour.
This is almost certainly the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, but with awful clarity I realise the only option available. Like a true Brit, I’m going to pretend that everything’s fine and buy the jeans out of sheer shame.
“Fine, thanks. I love these jeans. Just. Love. Them,” I say, stifling a sob. “Could you ring them through the till now and I’ll pay once I’m out?”
There are tears in my eyes as I approach the counter with the tightly folded jeans under my arm. Bag? No, darling, I don’t need a bloody bag.
Being British, I haven’t even dared to ask how much the things are going to set me back. The card machine is presented with a flourish and I can barely look at the screen as I tap out another line of debt to Barclays. In my head I’m working out which of my friends knows how to sew.
“Oh and by the way,” trills Brooklyn girl as the irrevocable green button is pushed, “you can’t wash them.” And she’s right, I can’t. Not for four months, apparently, when I’m allowed to gently steam them in the bathroom. Insult, meet injury.
So for a while I wandered around Shoreditch in the sewn up jeans. I pretended to be one of them. You know, “them” the impossibly smug types that work in the creative industries and all look like David Bowie. The sort whose jeans, far from being simply tight, are easily mistaken for a paint job. Them.
I’m fooling nobody, of course, because I don’t look like Bowie. I have no hair, you see, and I’ve a bulbous head that’s too big for my body. I look a bit like a potato that’s been skewered on a fork, and no amount of trendy clothing is going to fix that.
In the end the jeans split again anyway. Now they lie crumpled at the bottom of my wardrobe while my overdraft continues to expand faster than Oprah.
The moral of the story? Fashion is mass cultural hypnosis. It’s a hamster wheel for the special ones, the ones with stone-cutting cheekbones and flawless skin. We ordinaries just aren’t cut out for it. So wear what you damned well please. You’ll be happier, richer and you’ll be able to use your pockets.
* Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.