Marks and Spencer has a habit of teasing to sprinkle among its incredibly wide range of regular goods a casual item so stylish it seems destined to become an eternal classic – only to fade away in a season or two. No doubt the retailer would cite a lack of demand as the reason for the premature disappearance (for example) of its excellent velvet jeans. And the writing can be on the wall for men’s suits, too: Falling demand, accelerated by the work-from-home lockdown, means less than half of M&S ‘254 branches now keep them in stock.
In the early 2000s, during the heady days of the store’s reinvention as a brand offering designer style at very attractive prices, celebrities in pointy suits were at the forefront of its glossy advertising campaigns. Bryan Ferry, ruminating in the razor-sharp seam; Jimmy Carr, Martin Freeman and Bob Mortimer impassive in a David Bailey shoot – the look was cool, but not alarming. There was no indication then that the costumes were an endangered species. But on the other side of the Atlantic, the advance of the corporate hoodie had already started.
The tech bro – jeans, hoodies, sneakers – that started out as a counterattack to the Wall Street guys quickly morphed into the ubiquitous uniform of anti-conformist aspiring squintillionaires. Asked about his still dull outfit, Mark Zuckerberg explained that he wanted to “erase my life” from unnecessary decisions.
Yet minimizing daily attire was a function once admirably fulfilled by the formal business suit, whose structured lines offered a flattering fix for imperfect silhouettes (a decent suit jacket would do wonders for Zuckerberg’s drooping shoulders. ). More than that, a first adult costume was a rite of passage for boys becoming men, in which a smart M&S costume once played an important role.
Acknowledging a move towards “casual dressing”, Wes Taylor, head of menswear at M&S, insisted the company still aspires to “be the benchmark for a great suit for any occasion.” The market will decide, but I’m not convinced that suits are about to take the path of tuxedos or fancy vests, to become the exclusive preserve of eccentric dandies. Compare the final photo of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, exquisitely elegant at 80 in a gorgeous suit, with the expensive and dirty look of Silicon Valley billionaires. Homework may be here to stay, but my hunch is that the costume will survive the elastic waistband challenge.
Gardens are not the usual preoccupation of the transport policy and research body, the RAC Foundation. But its recent report on parking policy warns of the threat electric vehicles pose to our already threatened front gardens, concluding that “if the front garden is not to be relegated to history, then the spotlight is on. on the adequacy of the public charge. -network of points ”.
The Front Gardens are one of the glories of British life, whose value as a sanctuary for humans and wildlife was poignantly highlighted during the pandemic. Yet current government policy encourages home charging, which requires off-street parking. It’s hard not to conclude that a quality national wasteland is a strange way to achieve a greener future.