It's the third week in August and nothing is happening so sure, let's examine this issue. According to the Financial Times' Adam Thomson, financial services employees living across the pond show up to the office looking like garish bums, compared to financiers à Paris. The trouble, apparently, is two-fold:
- First, no one ever told United Kingdom-based blokes that your options for shirt colors are white, white, or white, the result being that they walk out of their closets looking like they take sartorial cues from Władziu Valentino Liberace: "...you need to convey elegance, which a white shirt does in spades. 'A blue shirt will never look as elegant as a white shirt,' [a French colleague at the Paris bureau of the Financial Times] states bluntly. By and large, English people do not know any of this. What constitutes good dress sense is more flexible on the island and it leaves plenty of room for flamboyance: pink shirts are commonplace in London; so are striped shirts with solid-colour collars and cuffs. Such an approach in formal Paris could easily derail an otherwise promising career, my colleague says. 'You don’t want to be remembered for what you wear.'"
- Second, the cut and fit of their clothes suggests they recently shed several hundred stones via gastric bypass surgery and haven't had a chance to shop: "In Paris, unlike in London, suit jackets invariably hug the shoulders while the body is snug. Remove the jacket of a Parisian businessman, and you will probably see tailored cotton that fits close to the body. Repeat the experiment with an English businessman and the chances are you will discover a spinnaker billowing under his arms. By French standards, even the increasingly popular slim-fit shirt in the UK is roomy."
Who is to blame for all this? Your creativity-stifling education system and cheap-ass parents.
Why is this? Theories abound but mine has to do with the fact that English children are subjected to the regime of wearing school uniforms while the French are not. Choosing what to wear every day for school, albeit under the supervision of parents, makes the French more aware of clothes, combinations and, in particular, fit — all from an early age. It also creates significant peer pressure to look your best...the biggest effect of the school uniform is that it tends to make English kids used to wearing clothes that are either way too big, as parents try to get value for money by buying on the large side, or way too small, as those same parents try to maximise a blazer’s life.