It is an unchallengeable tenet of modernism that things should be practical: that means clean, simple clothes
Want to know the definition of a fashion victim? It’s someone who, when he is eased into the glowing white interior of a hospital MRI scanner and hears the beast hum into life, thinks about what his legs and feet must look like sticking out of the end, and chides himself that he could have chosen his outfit better.
A psychologist might argue that this was a classic example of displacement, worrying about your clothes instead of your health, but I disagree. You see, the man in the scanner was me — I was a bit poorly before Christmas — and I can tell you, having to spend almost half an hour in a piece of kit straight out of Stanley Kubrick does weird things to you. You can’t move and there’s nowhere to look apart from straight up, so it’s little wonder that your mind goes a-wandering — and mine ended up contemplating this conundrum: if hospital equipment has become so incredibly high-tech, why are we still dressing like our grandfathers (who, let’s face it, would have been impressed by a stethoscope)? And if our sartorial sense had kept pace with advancing technology, what kind of thing would go with your state-of-the-art MRI scanner, anyway?
It would have to be clean and simple. I say this not because I have seen the future and it dresses like the crew of the Starship Enterprise, but because I have seen the past and it is an unchallengeable tenet of modernism that things should be practical and easy to maintain. Take the earliest fitted kitchens, for example. The Frankfurt kitchens of the late Twenties were designed to be hygienic and efficient, just as future fashion will, I believe, be unfussy and ergonomic.
This is the kind of thing that you find at labels such as Jil Sander, Calvin Klein, Prada and Dior Homme, where the look is pared down and simple, eschewing fussy decoration for sleek design. It is a black, partially see-through single-breasted coat for spring by Prada (just in store, £850), made from what the company calls “perforated wool tech” and with matching trousers available; or a white (or black) C.P. Company goose-down quilted short jacket in chintzed cotton poplin, fully reversible with a contrasting colour on the opposite side (this is an autumn/winter style, currently on sale exclusively online at cpcompany.co.uk, down from £395 to £197.50).
The clothes of tomorrow tend to be plain (often black or white) and are frequently made from blended fabrics to enhance particular properties such as stretch or warmth.
Top of my list (for obvious reasons: have you been outside lately?) is the recently launched HeatTech thermal base layers collection by Uniqlo (the women’s version of the vest is pictured on the left), a Japanese label that, you may recall, I championed in this column last year. These beauties are perfect for the current cold snap and will make you feel as if you are dressing for a bright new 2010.
They are made from some wonder fabric that helps to generate heat from your body moisture, retains warmth in air pockets between the fibres, has an antibacterial agent to minimise odour, stretches for comfort, is quick-drying, anti-static and maintains its shape even after repeated washing. Tick those boxes.
Right now on uniqlo.co.uk there is a sale of this stuff until January 9: crew-neck and V-neck T-shirts with long and short sleeves, long-sleeved polonecks, long johns and socks. They were reasonably priced to begin with, and now it’s almost rude not to buy some.
By rights I should have been in head-to-toe Uniqlo HeatTech T-shirt and long johns in that scanner. Then again, maybe I’d just have looked like a slightly corpulent ballet dancer who’d got lost on his way to a Christmas matinee.