I wrote this right after joining SF. Never posted, as I felt it sounded a tad boastful. The events did indeed, unfold as told. Hope it serves as inspiration to other slobs... The need for change For me, it was seeing myself in photographs from years gone by, still wearing exactly the same outfit. There was also the time I went to a wedding in Brittany, France. I attended the ceremony in trail-hiking boots, 11-pocket, SeV trousers, Columbia (nylon) trail shirt and a yellow and black (nylon of course) storm coat. When the the photo's came back, there was one snap of a very smart French couple, looking aghast at my attire. Very funny, yet at the same time a little embarrassing. One event finally did it for me. I arranged to meet a friend I hadn't seen in years. After arranging to rendezvous outside Selfridges, she said, in a non too complimentary manner, that she'd simply watch out for a flash of brilliant yellow. So, here I was, a slovenly git. Dressed like a hiker, ready to do battle with the hills and crags of central London. The idea I decided to radically change my appearance by starting at the gym. No need for me to go into detail, other than that I stuck with major body part movements, like dead-lifts and squats. The diet also changed overnight, to one of common sense nutrition. Everyone knows what they should be eating, so no need to lay it out here. The problem for most appears to be actually sticking with it. A while passed before I made my first clothing purchase. The clothing I acquired the charcoal grey suit before stumbling across SF. Bought from Lanvin, Bond Street. It was the only one, during weeks of window shopping, that caught my eye. There then followed: tie by Loro Piana, belt by John Lobb, Connaught shoes by Crockett & Jones, plain white shirt by Emma Willis, solid sterling/mop cuff-links from flea-market, pocket square by Simonnot-Godard and vintage, brown leather briefcase from my grandfather. I realise that to many here, a single suit is no big deal. To me it was like being reborn. Even the feel of proper shoes felt strange. The experiment When the final piece arrived, I polished my shoes to perfection, then headed out the door for my trial run. I was convinced the shoes would be too tight, and that I'd have to limp back in agony. Surprisingly, this wasn't the case. The C&J's felt snug and comfy. My destination was Covent Garden, London. All times are approximate: 8.00am - I manage about 30 steps down the road, before my suited & booted neighbour approaches, grinning from ear to ear. There follows a (surprising) five minute exchange, with him wanting to know where I bought everything. 8.10am - Another neighbour stops me on the way. More complimentary words follow. 8.20am - Get to the station a little early, so pop into Starbucks for coffee. No sooner have I ordered than a woman approaches with the words, "You look so dapper in your suit. I just wanted to let you know that there's a bit of thread hanging down at the back. I'll just snip it for you". Before I can utter a word, she's removed the faint residual thread, from my earlier attempt at opening the vents. Would this have happened on any other given day? 8.40am - Get a seat on the train. The elderly woman next to me says, "You don't want to put your jacket there, put it here". She makes room for me to lay it out neatly on a seat. This has never happened before. I'm now geting a little self-conscious. 9.15am - Enter Covent Garden building. Three women I know are chatting in the corridor. One stands dumb-stuck, one just smiles for the next ten minutes and the other immediately slides up to me. She puts on a comical, flirty accent, then proceeds with a multitude of questions. The first is, "Where did you get the suit?" My answer is, T.K.Max. Unconvinced, and after much fondling, she manages to wrestle the middle button open. She's utterly flabbergasted at the sight of the Lanvin tag. I had no idea that it meant so much to women. It was to me, just a nice suit, from a nice shop. 9.10am - Enter a large rehearsal room in Covent Garden. About ten people sitting around. Then, like a scene from a a cowboy movie where the piano stops playing, the entire room falls silent. After so many questions, the director has to ask for attention. 1.00am - During lunch, I'm surprised at the number of questions put to me again. I argue that in central London, every other person wears a suit, so it shouldn't really be such a big deal. The reply is that - it's the way that I wear it (whatever that means). 1.30am - A guy serving coffee, says that I look like a president or prime minister. Now I'm beginning to get a little bit paranoid, as this guy has never seen me before. He isn't even comparing me to a 'before' picture. 5.00pm - I'm about to leave the building, when the same girl as above, lectures me on why I should dress like this all the time. In her words, I was born to wear a suit (again, whatever that means). This carries on throughout the day, until I exit the building in the evening. I'm now wondering if I've made a mistake. Surely in London though, I'll just melt into the heavy mass of fabric. 6.30pm - Arrive a little too early, in a strange part of town. I plan to see a friend opening in a small play. I hunt high and low for a coffee bar, but have to make do with Macdonald's. A little concerned, I turn to the woman in the queue beside me, and ask if it's OK getting a train back late at night. Her reply is, "I wouldn't walk around here dressed like that. If I were you, I'd go back home and dress down". Quick as a flash, I remember the words of someone on SF, "But for me this IS dressed down". Yes, I really did say that! 7.15pm - Arrive at the theatre, to be harassed by the same questions as before. The women become extremely tactile, all wanting to know who I am and where I've come from. One, I hardly know, wraps her arms around me. I'm now becoming a little paranoid. I keep reminding myself that this is London. There are quite a few suited men in the audience, so it's not as though I'm overdressed. Strange! 10.00pm - I take heed of some earlier advice, taking the bus back to the station. As I board the bus, I flash my card at the driver and walk towards the rear of the vehicle. I get halfway, when the driver shouts something out to me. I look around to see him smiling. The bus is going nowhere. With his little cabin door still open, he shouts again, "Hey, I know where you're going". I ask him to repeat, as I'm beginning to feel as if I've done something wrong. Now all the bus passengers are looking at me as he again shouts, "Yes, I know exactly where you're going. I picked up a man dressed just like you last week. Yes, I know just where you're going". He was convinced I was headed for the MI5 building in Vauxhall. God knows why. I eventually catch my train. By now my paranoia level is off the scale. I slump into bed, wondering how SF members mange to do this every day. Conclusion Clothes maketh the man.