"To be truly elegant one should not be noticed."
Beau Brummell, the über elegant London fashion trendsetter during the Regency era, stands perpetually erect on Jermyn Street, outside the Piccadilly Arcade, appropriately surrounded by shops selling the finest menswear London has to offer.
I daresay he'd have loved shopping today, with endless selections of readywear available in supermarkets, online, and charity shops. No need to visit Savile Row; just log on to BrooksBrothers.com.
Me, I hate shopping, whether it's online or in person. I prefer looking at statues on London's streets to imitating mannequins in London's shops. Which is why my closet looks like a storeroom for a nineties-era sitcom. If it was good enough for Murphy Brown, it's good enough to last a few decades, right? Khaki will never die! Grunge, yes—that got purged from my closet sometime around 2004. (Although you will only pry my Doc Martens from my cold, dead feet.)
"To be truly elegant, one should not be noticed," Beau said. He was right, which is why I always wear shades of dirt: black, brown, and off-grey. I used to have a red sweater, but I gave it away, tired of seeing it when I opened my closet. It looked like something had bled all over my khakis.
I also have a fear of prints, although I once bought a zebra striped sweater. I sometimes pull it out, wondering what I was thinking. Zebras belong in Kenya, not in my closet.
Theoretically, only having to choose between three basic colors should make it easier to get dressed. But like Beau Brummell, I sometimes spend hours dressing, trying to decide between the khaki trousers or the black jeans. The white knit or the grey sweater. The brown cardigan or the linen blazer. And that's before I even think about footwear: which black loafer should I wear today?
Whoever decided that men should wear smart suits and blazers and crisp button down shirts while women should wear loose, flowing knits the shade of flowers? I love flowers, but not on my person. I like Beau Brummell's idea: Let the men dandy themselves up with cravats, hats, and paisley-patterned plumage. We women should wear the serious clothes: Khakis, black sweaters, and loafers. Or for posing on London streets, perhaps a sturdy pair of Doc Martens.