Part 26: Flat Caps

A horrifying trend has emerged in recent months. A trend I had only noticed subconsciously – as an instinctive, barely perceptible reaction occurring somewhere in the compartment of my brain that coughs ‘what a dick’ when I see strangers attired in daft garments – until yesterday, when someone pointed it out on twitter. The flat cap has become a cutting-edge fashion accessory. A must-have wardrobe staple favoured by mockneys, hipsters, and other assorted twats.

Since the revelatory tweet I am suddenly aware that over the past few weeks I have suppressed a number of disturbing encounters – all of which have one thing in common (see if you can spot the theme here. CLUE: it doubles as the title of this post): a wink from a man playing football in a flat cap in Greenwich Park, an offer of a drink from a student wearing drainpipes and flat cap in the union bar, a youngish, passably good-looking man walking his dog in the rain in Armley dressed in shorts and a flat cap. WTF? Last time I checked flat caps were the domain of pensioners who puff on Woodbines and race ferrets. I might be a bit out of touch, but seriously – who decided to bring the flat cap back as daywear?

Can you let me know? I’d like words.

The flat cap appears to be part of a larger movement that’s been taking place in recent years whereby by otherwise eligible members of the human species attempt to turn themselves into a-sexual wallies. You know what I mean: plaid shirts with ties. Skinny jeans. Ironic horn rimmed specs. Guitars that nobody knows how to play sat ostentatiously in dusty corners of ex-council flats in Bethnal Green. Prison tattoos on skinny, rent-boy looking lads whose most formative experience of institutionalisation was at Charterhouse. I kind of made my peace with it until the flat cap thing, but really. It’s gone too far. Something needs to be done.

You know that a trend is not a sign of anything good when it’s readily embraced by your parents. A few weeks ago my Dad, returning from a jaunt to Ireland, grinning like a podgy middle-aged cat-who-drank- all-the-Guinness, sauntered into the kitchen of the family home, a flat cap hand-woven from Emerald Isle wool perched proudly atop his head. ‘Looks smart, dunnit?’ He asked his brood of sniggering offspring (the answer: no).

I am not sure if the hipsters have ever seen a 52-year-old overweight ex-wrestler don a flat cap and leather jacket in an attempt to stay relevant. If they had, I’m pretty sure they would seize upon the Zippo lighters they usually reserve for preparing heroin and burn their own, immediately.

Perhaps we should use this sartorial moment to heed the advice of Dame Vivien Westwood: ‘you have a much better life’, she says, ‘if you wear impressive clothes’. I make her right there. Dressing like you’ve thought about it, but not too hard, in well cut, flattering ensembles does improve the quality of your daily existence. This is because a) flattering outfits get you compliments from other people, which boosts your self-esteem, and b) impressive clothing commands attention from colleagues and peers – which means you’re listened to and respected in a way which is not necessarily commensurate with your skills and experience.

I can attest to the valuable part that decent clothes play in a fulfilling existence, because, despite being super-stylish, a few years ago I fell into an unfortunate romantic relationship with an insecure person who dressed like a postman and preferred me to wear shapeless sack-cloths. While I would always advise others against listening to the demands of a psycho-lover, I’m embarrassed to tell you that I ignored my own advice for a while and did, indeed, wear shapeless, colourless, tent-cum-couture until a friend took me to one side and had sharp, persuasive words. I’m going to be honest: I was proper miserable in dour clothing.

I suppose the rest of the world deciding to dress like knob-ends is quite good for us stylish single people. It means that we seem even more stylish in comparison, and reap the social and financial benefits. The problem of course is that a lot of the qualities you’re probably looking for in a partner are embraced by hipsters. They tend to be a bit bohemian – liberal and artistic, spontaneous, arrogant, sensitive to women’s rights and animal welfare – and well read. Also, quite a lot of them have rich mummies and daddies, which will be useful should you need to secure a deposit on a mortgage.

Whatever the qualities a potential lover might have, I demand that you stay single until the abomination that is the flat cap is erased from the fashion-palette of all under 60s not affiliated to the hunt. The flat cap is absolutely a reason to stay single, because just think of the lasting damage it will do to your libido if somebody you’ve had sex with turns up wearing one. I know, it doesn’t even bear thinking about.

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