When I left The United Kingdom of England and The Rest in 2008 and set sail for the Arabian colonies life was different. Gordon Brown was still in “power”, the Lehmans were still brothers and Manchester City were still a relatively crap football team. I understood what was socially acceptable too. Back in those days it was perfectly acceptable to go out on the town wearing a shirt and a pair of smart jeans, maybe with a sharp jacket too. But nowadays it seems that you aren’t hip unless you are wearing your trousers around your ankles with your lime green pants on full display, like you’ve just been hanging out with George Michael or something… It is also customary to wear silly hats, Ronald McDonald size boots and talk like, frankly, a moron. I struggle to understand the world these days.
I accept things change, fashion and style especially. In the 50’s everyone dressed like either a Geography teacher or a vagrant. The 60’s was all colour and “fab” and the 70’s were all about beards and brown. The 80’s, which as latter half 20th Century fashions go was the worst by far, saw a return to colour but with the addition of mullets. The 90’s were all baggy jeans and Addidas jackets and the 2000’s never had a defining style, and nor do the 10’s where we are now. So without a tag people think they can get away with wearing whatever they want. Such a thing is branded “individuality” but is flawed by the fact that everyone else is doing it too.
I have spent the weekend in Dubai and on my travels I came to a conclusion. Fashion is dead, long live hopelessness. Walking through Mall of the Alpines I found myself looking in the windows of many a clothes shop. As I stared vacantly at the mannequins in one particularly jazzy shop I wandered who on Earth would ever copy its style and actually be seen wearing that in public. Allow me to describe the costume one was wearing: A pair a trousers, green, with yellow and brown flowers running up one leg. The belt was rainbow coloured and the sandals were yellow. Up top, the mannequin was wearing a string vest with a crucifix necklace and the crowning jewel was a brown knitted cardigan that literally looks like what my Grandparents used to wear in the 40’s; in winter. The finishing piece was a pair of spectacles akin to what Austin Powers would wear. They weren’t even real glasses but an accessory.
I am not making this up, as I walked around trying to take in all the hedonistic garments a boy, mid-late teens I reckon, emerged from the changing room wearing exactly that. Item for item he was dressed just like the mannequin. He looked utterly ridiculous, made more so by his Ali G impression… His friends were all in their Kandura’s and Sufra’s and all looked very smart. What did he think he was going to achieve? I’d hazard a guess and say that the shopkeeper had a spare mannequin kicking about in the store room and just said to one of the staff “just chuck anything on it, first things that come to hand.” It must have been a joke. I left the hapless adolescent to it.
As I continued walking around the Mall I started to notice that dressing like a cartoon had become a pandemic. There were young people from all walks of life and all nationalities wearing knitted cardigans with Nike swim shorts or pretend glasses with shoes for earrings. Has the world gone mad or is this fashion faux pas just confined to the UAE?
Something must be done to curb this. If an Alien race landed on Earth tomorrow, regardless of their intentions, and they were greeted by a 21 year old dressed up as a Lady Gaga then they would jump back into their craft and flee. No I’m not being a snob, I just want to know if their attire is an incongruous, subversive statement or they actually think that they are “with it”. What “it” is however shall forever remain a mystery.
What to do, what to do? The Malls already have signs on the doors asking customers to dress respectably. Women must cover their shoulders and knees and men can’t walk through the food court in their Speedos, but it’s selling the clothes it doesn’t want in there. You are asked to dress respectfully so as not to insult our hosts and that’s fine with me. But what is more insulting, a woman in a strappy top or a young male wearing fake glasses, green and yellow flowery trousers around his ankles and his Grandmothers cardigan?
Signs don’t work so I fear we must ask for legislation. I say cut the head off the snake and ban shops selling such things; force them to sell normal trousers and shorts and nice shirts and inoffensive t-shirts. It’s not Communism; it’s how the textile industry has always done things. When you look at some laws that get passed, like having to move to Abu Dhabi if that’s where you work, then my suggestion really doesn’t sound that far-fetched.
It’s not like I’m trying to crush freedom of expression or anything…ok well I am a bit. But come on, they do look daft, don’t they?
PS. Dear Mr. Editor at bloggers.com, I’m still not one of your picks, get back to me. Thanks. Marty.