Oscar Wilde, in his own inimitable way, once stated that “fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months”. I say, well said old boy! It’s not even in patterns of six months anymore; we have pre-collections, resort shows and transitional seasons to contend with in this day and age of marketing madness, so any trends that we may latch on to in time to look ahead of the crowd will look dated in the blink of a withering eye. So what should we do about this sartorial injustice? Look to the fabulous man himself, that’s what!
As any self-respecting Galwegian will know, Wilde had a great connection with the “savage beauty” of the West – there’s even a festival at the beginning of September to honour the association, which pays tribute to him by walking tours, lectures and film viewings around the city. He would have spent time there as a child and teenager on the way to Cong, Co. Mayo from Dublin, and no doubt appreciated its bonhomie and flair as much as we do.
A poet, author and playwright, it’s common knowledge that his works were informed by the social idiosyncrasies of the day, but were you aware that he had a keen interest in fashion – an 1885 essay lost until 2012 named The Philosophy of Dress concerns the Victorian Dress Reform – a movement associated with first wave feminists that called for the abandonment of the confines of Victorian fashion into a more practical (and bearable) form.
He was a dapper man who enjoyed fashion but wasn’t a slave to it – presentation and class mean a lot more than keeping up with the latest krazes. More comfortable in skinny jeans than flares? Why succumb to the dirt-trailing trews? Prefer a pea coat to a cape? Don’t sacrifice your arms to the goose-pimple gods! Feel at home in a jester’s hat? Let your freak flag fly! We may be conditioned to follow the crowds from S/S to A/W and in between, but none of that is any good if you feel like a knob. For as the great man says himself “be yourself; everyone else is taken”.