Even as a student, I was terribly snobby about hoodies, tracksuit bottoms and any other item that might loosely (and charitably) be classified as ‘loungewear’. I’d look on in revulsion as my peers mooched around campus dressed head-to-toe in Ugg boots, Abercrombie & Fitch velour and those dreadful sweatpants that were never, ever intended to be exercised in (unless you count lifting cheesy Wotsits to your mouth or scratching your bollocks as exercise, in which case I stand corrected). The boys were particularly bad; muscular rugger-bugger types (it was Loughborough, after all) dressed in their ubiquitous uniform of flip-flops and swathes of Superdry’s finest poly blend. ‘They’re comfortable!’ my friends would protest when challenged, which I don’t doubt, but they’re hardly the most dignified of attire.
There are many reasons why I’m never owned any of this shit. Firstly, they are LUDICROUSLY overpriced. The idea that Jack Wills, a company that sells clothing declaring the wearer to be a member of a FICTIONAL SPORTS CLUB (e.g the Jack Wills Rowing Club), can charge £69 for a sweater that required no design whatsoever is…well, impressive. And embarrassing. I hate to sound like such a crotchety old arsehole, but brands like this make me feel ashamed to be a young person. Who spends that kind of money on something so shapeless, so tasteless and also made of 25% polyester? Fucking idiots, that’s who. Personally, I wouldn’t give the steam off my shit for it.
The other reason why I dislike this stuff so much is that it makes me feel enormous. Wearing acres of padding leaves me lumbering and waddlesome, and that makes me neither happy nor comfortable. To be fair, I have the hypothalamus gland of a bison on heat, so I can’t imagine ever needing to wear so many clothes outside of genuine Arctic conditions, but it’s still cumbersome to wear so many layers. It’s much nicer to save the £70 odd from not buying a skanky sweater and instead use the money to crank up the heating and sloth out in the buff. (My parents learned many years ago that it was unwise to do that thing middle-aged people do where they knock once and then immediately enter the room without waiting for a response. Nobody wants an eyeful of their own offspring.) In contrast to my habitual domestic naturism, my old housemate Becky was always revoltingly overdressed. Even to bed she wore a pair of heavy-duty university men’s joggers, an oversized vest top (‘from Primarni!’) and a hoodie. The thought of her rolling around in bed, sweating into all that heavy fabric, was enough to make me feel ill. Admittedly her way was more environmentally friendly (at least until you count all the extra energy that went into constructing those man-made fibres), but mine was undoubtedly more hygienic.
First, let me clarify: I am not at all opposed to slothing out. I’ll cheerfully admit that there are some occasions when it is totally okay to just not give a shit. For instance, I’ve been known to nip down to the post box wearing only a coat, flasher-style, and as far as I’m concerned anything goes on a long-haul flight (much to the consternation of my mother, but that’s another story). You can’t look absolutely glorious all of the time, and if you try too hard you’ll end up like one of those people who go to the gym with a full face of slap, the ones everybody secretly wants to push off the treadmill for being such a vain twat. But there are limits; you may not need to don a gown and a crown to wander around the shops but it just isn’t appropriate to rock up in your slippers and a pair of bottoms you’ve been stewing in for the last 72 hours.
After three years at university I was more or less desensitised to the awfulness of student slothwear and its bizarrely-proportioned devotees (pear-shaped blokes in tight tanks and voluminous, swaddling joggers, I am talking about you). However, nothing prepared me for the grotesque, unparalleled sartorial monstrosity that was to take the country by storm just a few months after I graduated and left uni forever: the onesie.
My nineteen year old sister, who has a part-time job in New Look, is a big fan of the onesie. She has five in an assortment of colours and spends her entire life outside of work rolling around in them. Unfortunately, she is also a complete fruitcake and my disdain for her collection of rompers (“Why don’t you put some clothes on? You look like a fucking invalid,” etc.) seems to have passed her by. I know this because for my birthday she thought the most fitting gift for me would be a onesie of my very own. It has a thick-set grey and white stripe, which would have been bad enough, but there is also a serious crotch issue. These garments are made on a ‘one-size-doesn’t-really-fit-anyone’ basis, and I usually take 35” length jeans. This means that to avoid comedy buccaneer-style jack-ups (and cold ankles) I have to wear the crotch about a foot lower than it should be. The resulting aesthetic is terrifying; a badly-dressed escaped convict as imagined by Dr Seuss. Or an orang-utan on the lam.
Unfortunately – and it burns my very core to admit it – it is not only monstrously ugly but also the most comfortable thing I’ve ever owned. Although it’s not as pleasing as poncing around in the altogether, at least you can sign for parcels in it. You look preposterous, yes, but not as preposterous as you would if you opened the door to the postman wearing only a smile. On reflection I’m going to have to eat my words and revise my rule that onesies should never, ever be worn by anyone old enough to control their own bowel movements. Although I may have relaxed my zero-tolerance policy a little, though, there are still some very important rules that ought to be observed at all times: