What is it about the whole concept of ‘holiday wear’ that makes me break out in a cold sweat? Is it the whole sandals and socks thing, which gets under my skin? Or are the brogues and no socks even worse? Ah yes, of course, now I remember, it’s the middle aged men who think the way to go is three quarter length trousers. They usually have zips and innumerable pockets sewn all over, inviting you to stuff all manner of gadgets and keys inside just to make them sag and bulge in unflattering places. These are only surpassed in hideousness by the ‘army’ and ‘cargo’ zip-off versions. And when coupled with a synthetic football shirt and worn down flip-flops they are the epitome of sartorial elegance, no?
Ah yes, one more thing. The said item is best displayed whilst hiking when the exposed lower leg can be lacerated by thorns, or stung by nettles and insects just to complete the look.
So why do they do it? My friend Fiona, whose husband had to be physically prevented from packing a ghastly piece of ‘leisurewear’ last summer, says it’s his revenge on her for nagging him about picking his dirty socks up off the floor all year. She says the more embarrassed she is at the airport, the more his holiday mood improves.
It’s particularly the dads who aspire to the deranged ‘Tin Tin in the Congo’ look.
A fashion advisor I once chatted to said: ‘Clothes are very emotive and they hold all sorts of different associations for people and men in particular, feel very strongly about their holiday attire. When they come to me and ask advice for summer clothing, they often choose items they wouldn’t dream of wearing at home. Perhaps there’s an innate need to break free from mundane, everyday life and wearing gregarious shirts is very liberating. Especially when you know you aren’t going to bump into anyone you know. It makes you that much braver’.
Personally, I wonder if dads are secretly harking back to their boy-scout days and the need to ‘be prepared’? Or maybe they’re just resisting the ageing process by trying to keep up with the latest trends for their sons’ benefit?
Either way, I’d like these sartorial abominations are banned by law. I shall take special measures towards ensuring this happens by getting all my friends to petition parliament before the summer. There are easily enough of us who feel the need to take action on this matter. And next time we are packing for a summer break, my husband will be hard pressed to find any such items stashed away in the ‘holiday’ compartment.